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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 607 05/09/2017, 7*34 PM

CASES REPORTED
SUPREME COURT OF THE PHILIPPINES
____________________

A.C. No. 7054.December 4, 2009.*

CONRADO QUE, complainant, vs. ATTY. ANASTACIO


REVILLA, JR., respondent.

Civil Procedure; Forum Shopping; Rule 12.02 and Rule 12.04,


Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, as well as the
rule against forum shopping, both of which are directed against the
filing of multiple actions to attain the same objective. Both violations
constitute abuse of court processes; they tend to degrade the
administration of justice; wreak havoc on orderly judicial procedure;
and add to the congestion of the heavily burdened dockets of the
courts.The respondent likewise violated Rule 12.02 and Rule
12.04, Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, as well
as the rule against forum shopping, both of which are directed
against the filing of multiple actions to attain the same objective.
Both violations constitute abuse of court processes; they tend to
degrade the administration of justice; wreak

_______________

* EN BANC.

havoc on orderly judicial procedure; and add to the congestion of the


heavily burdened dockets of the courts.
Legal Ethics; Attorneys; Duty of a Lawyer as an Officer of the
Court; The respondent failed to remember that his duty as an officer
of the court makes him an indispensable participant in the
administration of justice, and that he is expected to act candidly,
fairly and truthfully in his work. His duty as a lawyer obligates him
not to conceal the truth from the court, or to mislead the court in any
manner, no matter how demanding his duties to his clients may be.
The respondent violated his duty as an attorney and his oath as a
lawyer never to mislead the judge or any judicial officer by an
artifice or false statement of fact or law. The respondent failed to
remember that his duty as an officer of the court makes him an
indispensable participant in the administration of justice, and that
he is expected to act candidly, fairly and truthfully in his work. His
duty as a lawyer obligates him not to conceal the truth from the

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court, or to mislead the court in any manner, no matter how


demanding his duties to his clients may be. In case of conflict, his
duties to his client yield to his duty to deal candidly with the court.
Same; Same; Canon 19 obligates a lawyer, in defending his
client, to employ only such means as are consistent with truth and
honor. He should not prosecute patently frivolous and meritless
appeals or institute clearly groundless actions. The recital of what
the respondent did to prevent the execution of the judgment against
his clients shows that he actually committed what the above rule
expressly prohibits.This Canon obligates a lawyer, in defending
his client, to employ only such means as are consistent with truth
and honor. He should not prosecute patently frivolous and meritless
appeals or institute clearly groundless actions. The recital of what
the respondent did to prevent the execution of the judgment against
his clients shows that he actually committed what the above rule
expressly prohibits.
Same; Same; Administrative Law; Penalties; A lawyer may not
represent a litigant without authority from the latter or from the
latters representative or, in the absence thereof, without leave of
court. The willful unauthorized appearence by a lawyer for a party
in a given case constitutes contumacious conduct and also warrants
disciplinary measures against the erring lawyer for professional
misconduct.The respondent violated Sections 21 and 27, Rule 138
of the Rules of Court when he undertook the unauthorized
appearances. The settled rule is that a lawyer may not represent a
litigant without authority from the latter or from the latters
representative or, in the absence thereof, without leave of court. The
willful unauthorized appearance by a lawyer for a party in a given
case constitutes contumacious conduct and also

_______________

1 Rollo, pp. 2-18.

2 Civil Case No. 38-20262.

3 Appealed Case No. 99-38199.

warrants disciplinary measures against the erring lawyer for


professional misconduct.

ADMINISTRATIVE CASE in the Supreme Court.


Disbarment.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
Cesar P. Uy and Mary Joy D. Libiran for complainant.

PER CURIAM:
In a complaint for disbarment,1 Conrado Que
(complainant) accused Atty. Anastacio Revilla, Jr.
(respondent) before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
Committee on Bar Discipline (IBP Committee on Bar
Discipline or CBD) of committing the following violations of
the provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility
and Rule 138 of the Rules of Court:

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(1)The respondents abuse of court remedies and processes by


filing a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals (CA), two
petitions for annulment of title before the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), a petition for annulment of judgment before the RTC and
lastly, a petition for declaratory relief before the RTC (collectively,
subject cases) to assail and overturn the final judgments of the
Metropolitan Trial Court2 (MeTC) and RTC3 in the unlawful
detainer case rendered against the respondents clients. The
respondent in this regard, repeatedly raised the issue of lack of
jurisdiction by the MeTC and RTC knowing fully-well that these
courts have jurisdiction over the unlawful detainer case. The
respondent also repeatedly attacked the complainants and his
siblings titles over the property subject of the unlawful detainer
case;
(2)The respondents commission of forum-shopping by filing
the subject cases in order to impede, obstruct, and frustrate the
efficient administration of justice for his own personal gain and to
defeat the right of the complainant and his siblings to execute the
MeTC and RTC judgments in the unlawful detainer case;

_______________

1 Rollo, pp. 2-18.


2 Civil Case No. 38-20262.
3 Appealed Case No. 99-38199.

(3)The respondents lack of candor and respect towards his


adversary and the courts by resorting to falsehood and deception to
misguide, obstruct and impede the due administration of justice.
The respondent asserted falsehood in the motion for reconsideration
of the dismissal of the petition for annulment of judgment by
fabricating an imaginary order issued by the presiding judge in
open court which allegedly denied the motion to dismiss filed by the
respondents in the said case. The complainant alleged that the
respondent did this to cover up his lack of preparation; the
respondent also deceived his clients (who were all squatters) in
supporting the above falsehood.4
(4)The respondents willful and revolting falsehood that
unjustly maligned and defamed the good name and reputation of
the late Atty. Alfredo Catolico (Atty. Catolico), the previous counsel
of the respondents clients.
(5)The respondents deliberate, fraudulent and unauthorized
appearances in court in the petition for annulment of judgment for
15 litigants, three of whom are already deceased;
(6)The respondents willful and fraudulent appearance in the
second petition for annulment of title as counsel for the Republic of
the Philippines without being authorized to do so.

Additionally, the complaint accused the respondent of


representing fifty-two (52) litigants in Civil Case No. Q-03-
48762 when no such authority was ever given to him.
The CBD required the respondent to answer the
complaint.
In his Answer,5 the respondent declared that he is a

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member of the Kalayaan Development Cooperative (KDC)


that handles pro bono cases for the underprivileged, the
less fortunate, the homeless and those in the marginalized
sector in Metro Manila. He agreed to take over the cases
formerly handled by other KDC members. One of these
cases was the unlawful detainer case handled by the late
Atty. Catolico where the complainant and his siblings were
the plaintiffs and the respondents present clients were the
defendants.
With respect to paragraph 1 of the disbarment
complaint, the respondent professed his sincerity, honesty
and good faith in filing the

_______________

4 See Rollo, p.14, on the observation of the presiding judge which


denied the lack of truthfulness of the above assertions of the respondent.
5 Id., at pp. 24-32.

petitions complained of; he filed these petitions to protect


the interests of his clients in their property. The respondent
asserted that these petitions were all based on valid
groundsthe lack of jurisdiction of the MeTC and the
RTC over the underlying unlawful detainer case, the
extrinsic fraud committed by the late Atty. Catolico,
and the extrinsic fraud committed by the
complainant and his family against his clients; he
discovered that the allegedly detained property did not
really belong to the complainant and his family but is a
forest land. The respondent also asserted that his resort to
a petition for annulment of judgment and a petition for
declaratory relief to contest the final judgments of the
MeTC and RTC were all parts of his legal strategy to
protect the interests of his clients.
On the allegations of falsehood in the motion for
reconsideration of the order of dismissal of the petition for
annulment of judgment (covered by paragraph 3 of the
disbarment complaint), the respondent maintained that his
allegations were based on his observations and the notes he
had taken during the proceedings on what the presiding
judge dictated in open court.
The respondent denied that he had made any
unauthorized appearance in court (with respect to
paragraphs 5 and 6 of the disbarment complaint). He
claimed that the 52 litigants in Civil Case No. Q-03-48762
were impleaded by inadvertence; he immediately rectified
his error by dropping them from the case. On the petition
for annulment of judgment, the respondent claimed that a
majority (31 out of 49) of the litigants who signed the
certification constituted sufficient compliance with the
rules on forum-shopping. The respondent likewise denied
having represented the Republic of the Philippines in the
second petition for annulment of title. The respondent
pointed out that there was no allegation whatsoever that

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he was the sole representative of both the complainants


(his clients) and the Republic of the Philippines. The
respondent pointed out that the petition embodied a
request to the Office of the Solicitor General to represent
his clients in the case.6

_______________

6 Id., at p. 31.

The respondent submitted that he did not commit any


illegal, unlawful, unjust, wrongful or immoral acts towards
the complainant and his siblings. He stressed that he acted
in good faith in his dealings with them and his conduct was
consistent with his sworn duty as a lawyer to uphold
justice and the law and to defend the interests of his
clients. The respondent additionally claimed that the
disbarment case was filed because the complainants
counsel, Atty. Cesar P. Uy (Atty. Uy), had an axe to grind
against him.
Lastly, the respondent posited in his pleadings7 before
the IBP that the present complaint violated the rule on
forum shopping considering that the subject cases were
also the ones on which a complaint was filed against him in
CBD Case No. 03-1099 filed by Atty. Uy before the IBP
Committee on Bar Discipline. The respondent also posited
that the present complaint was filed to harass, ridicule and
defame his good name and reputation and, indirectly, to
harass his clients who are marginalized members of the
KDC.

The Findings of the Investigating Commissioner

Except for the last charge of unauthorized appearance


on behalf of 52 litigants in Civil Case No. Q-03-48762,
Investigating Commissioner Renato G. Cunanan8
(Investigating Commissioner Cunanan) found all the
charges against the respondent meritorious. In his Report
and Recommendation, he stated:

While an attorney admittedly has the solemn duty to defend


and protect the cause and rights of his client with all the fervor and
energy within his command, yet, it is equally true that it is the
primary duty of the lawyer to defend the dignity, authority and
majesty of the law and the courts which enforce it. A lawyer is not
at liberty to maintain and defend the cause of his clients thru
means, inconsistent with truth and honor. He may not and must not
encourage multiplicity of suits or brazenly engage in forum-
shopping.9

_______________

7 Supplemental Position Paper; Id., at pp. 131-134.


8 Id., at pp. 148-156.
9 Id., at p. 156.

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On the first charge on abuse of court processes,


Investigating Commissioner Cunanan noted the
unnecessary use by the respondent of legal remedies to
forestall the execution of the final decisions of the MTC and
the RTC in the unlawful detainer case against his clients.10
On the second charge, the Investigating Commissioner
ruled that the act of the respondent in filing two petitions
for annulment of title, a petition for annulment of
judgment and later on a petition for declaratory relief were
all done to prevent the execution of the final judgment in
the unlawful detainer case and constituted prohibited
forum-shopping.11
On the third and fourth charges, Investigating
Commissioner Cunanan found ample evidence showing
that the respondent was dishonest in dealing with the
court as shown in his petition for annulment of judgment;
he resorted to falsities and attributed acts to Atty. Catolico
and to the presiding judge, all of which were untrue.12
On the fifth and sixth charges, the Investigating
Commissioner disregarded the respondents explanation
that he had no intention to represent without authority 15
of the litigants (three of whom were already deceased) in
the petition for annulment of judgment (Civil Case No. Q-
01-45556). To the Investigating Commissioner, the
respondent merely glossed over the representation issue by
claiming that the authority given by a majority of the
litigants complied with the certification of non-forum
shopping requirement. The Investigating Commissioner
likewise brushed aside the respondents argument
regarding his misrepresentation in the second complaint
for annulment of title since he knew very well that only the
Solicitor General can institute an action for reversion on
behalf of the Republic of the Philippines. Despite this
knowledge, the respondent solely signed the amended
complaint for and on behalf of his clients and of the
Republic.
The Board of Governors of the IBP Committee on Bar
Discipline, through its Resolution No. XVII-2005-164 on
CBD Case No. 03-1100,

_______________

10 Id., at pp. 150-151.


11 Id., at p. 151.
12 Id., at pp. 152-153.

adopted and approved the Report and Recommendation of


Investigating Commissioner Cunanan and recommended
that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law
for two (2) years.13 On reconsideration, the Board of
Governors reduced the respondents suspension from the

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practice of law to one (1) year.14

The Issue

The case poses to us the core issues of whether the


respondent can be held liable for the imputed unethical
infractions and professional misconduct, and the penalty
these transgressions should carry.

The Courts Ruling

Except for the penalty, we agree with the Report


and Recommendation of Investigating Commissioner
Cunanan and the Board of Governors of the IBP
Committee on Bar Discipline.
We take judicial notice that this disbarment complaint is
not the only one so far filed involving the respondent;
another complaint invoking similar grounds has previously
been filed. In Plus Builders, Inc. and Edgardo C. Garcia v.
Atty. Anastacio E. Revilla, Jr.,15 we suspended the
respondent from the practice of law for his willful and
intentional falsehood before the court; for misuse of court
procedures and processes to delay the execution of a
judgment; and for collaborating with non-lawyers in the
illegal practice of law. We initially imposed a suspension of
two (2) years, but in an act of leniency subsequently
reduced the suspension to six (6) months.16

_______________

13 Id., at p. 147.
14Resolution No. XVII-2008-657 dated December 11, 2008; Folder III
of the Rollo.
15 A.C. No. 7056 dated September 13, 2006, 501 SCRA 615.
16 A.C. No. 7056 dated February 11, 2009, 578 SCRA 431.

Abuse of court procedures and processes


The following undisputed facts fully support the
conclusion that the respondent is guilty of serious
misconduct for abusing court procedures and processes to
shield his clients from the execution of the final judgments
of the MeTC and RTC in the unlawful detainer case
against these clients:
First, the respondent filed a petition for certiorari
(docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 53892) with prayer for the
issuance of preliminary injunction and temporary
restraining order to question the final judgments of the
MeTC and RTC for lack of jurisdiction. In dismissing the
respondents petition, the CA held:

Even for the sake of argument considering that the petition case
be the proper remedy, still it must be rejected for failure of
petitioners to satisfactorily demonstrate lack of jurisdiction on the
part of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City over the
ejectment case.17

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Second, notwithstanding the CAs dismissal of the


petition for certiorari, the respondent again questioned the
MeTCs and the RTCs lack of jurisdiction over the unlawful
detainer case in a petition for annulment of judgment
(docketed as Civil Case No. Q-01-45556) before the RTC
with an ancillary prayer for the grant of a temporary
restraining order and preliminary injunction. The RTC
dismissed this petition on the basis of the motion to dismiss
filed.18
Third, the respondent successively filed two petitions
(docketed as Civil Case No. Q-99-38780 and Civil Case No.
Q-02-46885) for annulment of the complainants title to the
property involved in the unlawful detainer case. The
records show that these petitions were both dismissed for
lack of legal personality on the part of the plaintiffs to file
the petition.19
Fourth, after the dismissals of the petition for
annulment of judgment and the petitions for annulment of
title, the respondent this

_______________

17 Rollo, p. 6.
18 Id., at p. 12.
19 Id., at pp. 7-8.

10

time filed a petition for declaratory relief with prayer for a


writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin the complainant
and his siblings from exercising their rights over the same
property subject of the unlawful detainer case. The
respondent based the petition on the alleged nullity of the
complainants title because the property is a part of forest
land.
Fifth, the persistent applications by the respondent for
injunctive relief in the four petitions he had filed in several
courtsthe petition for certiorari, the petition for
annulment of judgment, the second petition for annulment
of complainants title and the petition for declaratory relief
reveal the respondents persistence in preventing and
avoiding the execution of the final decisions of the MeTC
and RTC against his clients in the unlawful detainer case.
Under the circumstances, the respondents repeated
attempts go beyond the legitimate means allowed by
professional ethical rules in defending the interests of his
client. These are already uncalled for measures to avoid the
enforcement of final judgments of the MeTC and RTC. In
these attempts, the respondent violated Rule 10.03, Canon
10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which makes
it obligatory for a lawyer to observe the rules of procedure
and. . . not [to] misuse them to defeat the ends of justice. By
his actions, the respondent used procedural rules to thwart
and obstruct the speedy and efficient administration of
justice, resulting in prejudice to the winning parties in that
case.20

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Filing of multiple actions and forum shopping


The respondent likewise violated Rule 12.02 and Rule
12.04, Canon 12 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility,21 as well as the rule against forum
shopping, both of which are directed against the filing of
multiple actions to attain the same objective. Both
violations

_______________

20 See: Agpalo, Comments on the Code of Professional Responsibility


and the Code of Judicial Conduct, p. 104 (2004 edition).
21 Rule 12.02A lawyer shall not file multiple actions.
Rule 12.04A lawyer shall not unduly delay a case, impede the
execution of judgment or misuse court processes.

11

constitute abuse of court processes; they tend to degrade


the administration of justice; wreak havoc on orderly
judicial procedure;22 and add to the congestion of the
heavily burdened dockets of the courts.23
While the filing of a petition for certiorari to question
the lower courts jurisdiction may be a procedurally
legitimate (but substantively erroneous) move, the
respondents subsequent petitions involving the same
property and the same parties not only demonstrate his
attempts to secure favorable ruling using different fora, but
his obvious objective as well of preventing the execution of
the MeTC and RTC decisions in the unlawful detainer case
against his clients. This intent is most obvious with respect
to the petitions for annulment of judgment and declaratory
relief, both geared towards preventing the execution of the
unlawful detainer decision, long after this decision had
become final.
Willful, intentional and deliberate
falsehood before the courts
The records also reveal that the respondent committed
willful, intentional and deliberate falsehood in the
pleadings he filed with the lower courts.
First, in the petition for annulment of judgment filed
before the RTC, Branch 101, Quezon City, the respondent
cited extrinsic fraud as one of the grounds for the
annulment sought. The extrinsic fraud was alleged in the
last paragraph of the petition, as follows:

In here, counsel for the petitioners (defendants therein),


deliberately neglected to file the proper remedy then available after
receipt of the denial of their Motion for Reconsideration thus
corruptly sold out the interest of the petitioners (defendants
therein) by keeping them away to the Court and in complete
ignorance of the suit by a false pretense of compromise and
fraudulent acts of alleging representing them when in truth and in
fact, have

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22 Supra note 20 at 104.


23 Pena v. Aparicio, A.C. No. 7298, June 25, 2007, 525 SCRA 444, 454; see:
Agpalo, supra note 20 at 121, citing Chempil Export & Export Corp. v. Court of
Appeals, 321 Phil 619; 251 SCRA 257 (1995); and Ligon v. Court of Appeals, 355
Phil. 503; 294 SCRA 73 (1998).

12

connived with the attorney of the prevailing party at his


defeat to the prejudice of the petitioner (defendants therein)
24

Yet, in paragraph 35 of the same petition, the respondent


alleged that no second motion for reconsideration or for
new trial, or no other petition with the CA had been filed,
as he believed that the decisions rendered both by the
MeTC and the RTC are null and void.25 These conflicting
claims, no doubt, involve a fabrication made for the
purpose of supporting the petition for annulment. Worse, it
involved a direct and unsubstantiated attack on the
reputation of a law office colleague, another violation we
shall separately discuss below.
Second, the respondent employed another obvious
subterfuge when he filed his second petition for annulment
of title, which was an unsuccessful attempt to circumvent
the rule that only the Solicitor General may commence
reversion proceedings of public lands26 on behalf of the
Republic of the Philippines. This second petition, filed by a
private party and not by the Republic, showed that: (a) the
respondent and his clients requested that they be
represented by the Solicitor General in the proceedings; (b)
the Republic of the Philippines was simply impleaded in
the amended petition without its consent as a plaintiff; and
(c) the respondent signed the amended petition where he
alone stood as counsel for the plaintiffs. In this
underhanded manner, the respondent sought to compel the
Republic to litigate and waste its resources on an
unauthorized and unwanted suit.
Third, the respondent also committed falsehood in his
motion for reconsideration of the order dismissing his
petition for annulment of judgment where he
misrepresented to the court and his clients what actually
transpired in the hearing of June 28, 2002 in this wise:

Likewise, the proceedings on said date of hearing (June 28, 2002)


show, that after both counsel have argued on the aforesaid pending
incident, the Honorable Presiding Judge, in open court, and in the
presence and within the hearing distance of all the plaintiffs and
their counsel as well as the counsel of the defendants resolved: TO
DENY THE MOTION TO DISMISS FILED

_______________

24 Petition for Annulment of Judgment, p. 25; Rollo, p. 11.


25 Ibid.
26 Id., at pp. 30-31; Public Land Act, Section 101.

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AND DIRECTED DEFENDANTS COUNSEL TO FILE AN


ANSWER TO THE COMPLAINT WITHIN THE REMAINING
PERIOD.27 [Underscoring and emphasis theirs]

The records, however, disclose that the scheduled


hearing for June 28, 2002 was actually for the respondents
application for temporary restraining order and was not a
hearing on the adverse partys motion to dismiss.28 The
records also show that RTC-Branch 101 held in abeyance
the respondents application for injunctive relief pending
the resolution of the motion to dismiss filed by the adverse
party.29 As stated in the order of the Presiding Judge of
RTC-Branch 101:

Browsing over the records of this case specifically the


transcripts of stenographic notes as transcribed by the
Stenographer, the same will indicate that the allegations in the
Motion for Reconsideration are not true.
how can this Court make a ruling on the matter even without
stating the factual and legal bases as required/mandated by the
Rules. Moreover, there are no indications or iota of irregularity in
the preparation by Stenographer of the transcripts, and by the
Court interpreter of the Minutes of the open Court session.
[Underscoring theirs]

The records further disclose that despite knowledge of


the falsity of his allegations, the respondent took
advantage of his position and the trust reposed in him by
his clients (who are all squatters) to convince them to
support, through their affidavits, his false claims on what
allegedly transpired in the June 28, 2002 hearing. 30
For these acts, we find the respondent liable under Rule
10.01 of Canon 10 the Code of Professional Responsibility
for violating the lawyers duty to observe candor and
fairness in his dealings with the court. This provision
states:

CANON 10A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND


GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT

_______________

27 Id., at p. 13.
28 Id., at pp. 13-14.
29 Id., at p. 12.
30 Id., at p. 155.

14

Rule 10.01A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the
doing of any in Court, nor shall he mislead or allow the Court to be
mislead by an artifice.

Likewise, the respondent violated his duty as an


attorney and his oath as a lawyer never to mislead the

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judge or any judicial officer by an artifice or false statement


of fact or law.31 The respondent failed to remember that
his duty as an officer of the court makes him an
indispensable participant in the administration of justice,32
and that he is expected to act candidly, fairly and truthfully
in his work.33 His duty as a lawyer obligates him not to
conceal the truth from the court, or to mislead the court in
any manner, no matter how demanding his duties to his
clients may be.34 In case of conflict, his duties to his client
yield to his duty to deal candidly with the court.35
In defending his clients interest, the respondent also
failed to observe Rule 19.01, Canon 19 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, which reads:

CANON 19A LAWYER SHALL REPRESENT HIS CLIENT


WITH ZEAL WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF LAW
Rule 19.01A lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to
attain the lawful objectives of his clients x x x

This Canon obligates a lawyer, in defending his client, to


employ only such means as are consistent with truth and
honor.36 He should not prosecute patently frivolous and
meritless appeals or institute clearly groundless actions.37
The recital of what the respondent did to prevent the
execution of the judgment against his clients hows that he
actually committed what the above rule expressly
prohibits.

_______________

31 Rules of Court, Rule 138, Section 20 (d).


32 Agpalo, supra note 20 at 99.
33 Id., at p. 100.
34 Id., at p. 102.
35 Ibid.
36 Id., at p. 226.
37 Ibid.

15

Maligning the name of his fellow lawyers


To support the charge of extrinsic fraud in his petition
for annulment of judgment, the respondent attacked (as
quoted above) the name and reputation of the late Atty.
Catolico and accused him of deliberate neglect, corrupt
motives and connivance with the counsel for the adverse
party.
We find it significant that the respondent failed to
demonstrate how he came upon his accusation against
Atty. Catolico. The respondent, by his own admission, only
participated in the cases previously assigned to Atty.
Catolico after the latter died. At the same time, the
respondents petition for annulment of judgment also
represented that no second motion for reconsideration or
appeal was filed to contest the MeTC and RTC decisions in
the unlawful detainer case for the reason that the

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respondent believed the said decisions were null and void


ab initio.
Under these circumstances, we believe that the
respondent has been less than fair in his professional
relationship with Atty. Catolico and is thus liable for
violating Canon 8 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, which obligates a lawyer to conduct himself
with courtesy, fairness, and candor toward his professional
colleagues. He was unfair because he imputed wrongdoing
to Atty. Catolico without showing any factual basis
therefor; he effectively maligned Atty. Catolico, who is now
dead and unable to defend himself.
Unauthorized appearances
We support Investigating Commissioner Cunanans
finding that the respondent twice represented parties
without proper authorization: first, in the petition for
annulment of judgment; and second, in the second petition
for annulment of title.38
In the first instance, the records show that the
respondent filed the petition for annulment of judgment on
behalf of 49 individuals, 31 of whom gave their consent
while the other 15 individuals did not. We cannot agree
with the respondents off-hand explanation that he truly

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38 Rollo, pp. 155-156.

16

believed that a majority of the litigants who signed the


certification of non-forum shopping in the petition already
gave him the necessary authority to sign for the others. We
find it highly improbable that this kind of lapse could have
been committed by a seasoned lawyer like the respondent,
who has been engaged in the practice of law for more than
30 years and who received rigid and strict training as he so
proudly declares, from the University of the Philippines
College of Law and in the two law firms with which he was
previously associated.39 As Investigating Commissioner
Cunanan found, the respondents explanation of compliance
with the rule on the certification of non-forum shopping
glossed over the real charge of appearing in court without
the proper authorization of the parties he allegedly
represented.
In the second instance, which occurred in the second
complaint for annulment of title, the respondent knew that
only the Solicitor General can legally represent the
Republic of the Philippines in actions for reversion of land.
Nevertheless, he filed an amended petition where he
impleaded the Republic of the Philippines as plaintiff
without its authority and consent, as a surreptitious way of
forcing the Republic to litigate. Notably, he signed the
amended complaint on behalf of all the plaintiffshis
clients and the Republic.
In both instances, the respondent violated Sections 21

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and 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court when he undertook


the unauthorized appearances. The settled rule is that a
lawyer may not represent a litigant without authority from
the latter or from the latters representative or, in the
absence thereof, without leave of court.40 The willful
unauthorized appearance by a lawyer for a party in a given
case constitutes contumacious conduct and also warrants
disciplinary measures against the erring lawyer for
professional misconduct.41
The Respondents Defenses
We find no merit in the respondents defenses.

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39 Id., at p. 26.
40 Rules of Court, Rule 138, Section 21.
41 Id., Sections 21 and 27.

17

Good faith connotes an honest intention to abstain from


taking unconscientious advantage of another. Accordingly,
in University of the East v. Jader we said that [g]ood faith
connotes an honest intention to abstain from taking undue
advantage of another, even though the forms and
technicalities of law, together with the absence of all
information or belief of facts, would render the transaction
unconscientious.42 Bad faith, on the other hand, is a state
of mind affirmatively operating with furtive design or with
some motive of self-interest, ill will or for an ulterior
purpose.43 As both concepts are states of mind, they may be
deduced from the attendant circumstances and, more
particularly, from the acts and statements of the person
whose state of mind is the subject of inquiry.
In this case, we find that the respondent acted in bad
faith in defending the interests of his clients. We draw this
conclusion from the misrepresentations and the dubious
recourses he made, all obviously geared towards
forestalling the execution of the final judgments of the
MeTC and RTC. That he took advantage of his legal
knowledge and experience and misread the Rules
immeasurably strengthen the presence of bad faith.
We find neither sincerity nor honest belief on the part of
the respondent in pleading the soundness and merit of the
cases that he filed in court to prevent the execution of the
MeTC and RTC decisions, considering his own conduct of
presenting conflicting theories in his petitions. The
succession of cases he filed shows a desperation that
negates the sincere and honest belief he claims; these are
simply scattershot means to achieve his objective of
avoiding the execution of the unlawful detainer judgment
against his clients.
On the respondents allegations regarding his discretion
to determine legal strategy, it is not amiss to note that this
was the same

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_______________

42 Philippine National Bank v. Heirs of Estanislao Militar and


Deogracias Militar, G.R. Nos. 164801 & 165165, June 30, 2006, 494
SCRA 308, 318; citing University of the East v. Jader, 382 Phil. 697, 705;
325 SCRA 804, 811 (2000).
43 Santiago v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 127440, January 27, 2007,
513 SCRA 69, 83.

18

defense he raised in the first disbarment case.44 As we


explained in Plus Builders, the exercise of a lawyers
discretion in acting for his client can never be at the
expense of truth and justice. In the words of this cited case:

While a lawyer owes absolute fidelity to the cause of his client,


full devotion to his genuine interest, and warm zeal in the
maintenance and defense of his rights, as well as the exertion of his
utmost learning and ability, he must do so only within the bounds of
the law. He must give a candid and honest opinion on the merits
and probable results of his clients case with the end in view of
promoting respect for the law and legal processes, and counsel or
maintain such actions or proceedings only as appear to him to be
just, and such defenses only as he believes to be honestly debatable
under the law. He must always remind himself of the oath he took
upon admission to the Bar that he will not wittingly or willingly
promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit nor give aid
nor consent to the same; and that he will conduct [himself] as a
lawyer according to the best of [his] knowledge and discretion with
all good fidelity as well to the courts as to [his] clients. Needless to
state, the lawyers fidelity to his client must not be pursued at the
expense of truth and the administration of justice, and it must be
done within the bounds of reason and common sense. A lawyers
responsibility to protect and advance the interests of his client does
not warrant a course of action propelled by ill motives and
malicious intentions against the other party.45

We cannot give credence to the respondents claim that


the disbarment case was filed because the counsel of the
complainant, Atty. Uy, had an axe to grind against him. We
reject this argument, considering that it was not Atty. Uy
who filed the present disbarment case against him; Atty.
Uy is only the counsel in this case. In fact, Atty. Uy has
filed his own separate disbarment case against the
respondent.
The sui generis nature of a disbarment case renders the
underlying motives of the complainants unimportant and
with very little relevance. The purpose of a disbarment
proceeding is mainly to deter-

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44 Plus Builders, Inc. and Edgardo C. Garcia v. Atty. Anastacio E.


Revilla, Jr., supra note 15.
45 Ibid., citing Choa v. Chiongson, 329 Phil. 270, 275-276; 260 SCRA
477, 482-483 (1996).

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mine the fitness of a lawyer to continue acting as an officer


of the court and a participant in the dispensation of justice
an issue where the complainants personal motives have
little relevance. For this reason, disbarment proceedings
may be initiated by the Court motu proprio upon
information of an alleged wrongdoing. As we also explained
in the case In re: Almacen:

. . .disciplinary proceedings like the present are sui generis.


Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, this proceeding is notand
does not involvea trial of an action or a suit, but is rather an
investigation by the Court into the conduct of one of its officers. Not
being intended to inflict punishment, it is in no sense a criminal
prosecution.
xxx
It may be initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is
its primary objective, and the real question for determination is
whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the
privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers,
the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to account for his
actuations as an officer of the Court with the end in view of
preserving the purity of the legal profession and the proper and
honest administration of justice by purging the profession of
members who by their misconduct have proved themselves no
longer worthy to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities
pertaining to the office of an attorney. In such posture, there can
thus be no occasion to speak of a complainant or a prosecutor.46

Hence, we give little or no weight to the alleged personal


motivation that drove the complainant Que and his counsel
to file the present disbarment case.
Conclusion
Based on the foregoing, we conclude that the respondent
committed various acts of professional misconduct and
thereby failed to live up to the exacting ethical standards
imposed on members of the Bar. We cannot agree, however,
that only a penalty of one-year suspension from the
practice of law should be imposed. Neither should we limit

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46 G.R. No. L-27654, February 18, 1970, 31 SCRA 562, 600-601.

20

ourselves to the originally recommended penalty of


suspension for two (2) years.
Given the respondents multiple violations, his past
record as previously discussed, and the nature of these
violations which shows the readiness to disregard court
rules and to gloss over concerns for the orderly
administration of justice, we believe and so hold that the

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appropriate action of this Court is to disbar the respondent


to keep him away from the law profession and from any
significant role in the administration of justice which he
has disgraced. He is a continuing risk, too, to the public
that the legal profession serves. Not even his ardor and
overzealousness in defending the interests of his client can
save him. Such traits at the expense of everything else,
particularly the integrity of the profession and the orderly
administration of justice, this Court cannot accept nor
tolerate.
Additionally, disbarment is merited because this is not
the respondents first ethical infraction of the same nature.
We penalized him in Plus Builders, Inc. and Edgardo
Garcia versus Atty. Anastacio E. Revilla for his willful and
intentional falsehood before the court; for misuse of court
procedures and processes to delay the execution of a
judgment; and for collaborating with non-lawyers in the
illegal practice of law. We showed leniency then by reducing
his penalty to suspension for six (6) months. We cannot
similarly treat the respondent this time; it is clear that he
did not learn any lesson from his past experience and since
then has exhibited traits of incorrigibility. It is time to put
a finis to the respondents professional legal career for the
sake of the public, the profession and the interest of justice.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby
AFFIRM Resolution No. XVII-2005-164 dated December
17, 2005 and Resolution No. XVII-2008-657 dated
December 11, 2008 of the Board of Governors of the IBP
Committee on Bar Discipline insofar as respondent Atty.
Anastacio Revilla, Jr. is found liable for professional
misconduct for violations of the Lawyers Oath; Canon 8;
Rules 10.01 and 10.03, Canon 10; Rules 12.02 and 12.04,
Canon 12; Rule 19.01, Canon 19 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility; and Sections 20(d), 21 and 27 of Rule 138 of
the Rules of Court. However, we modify the penalty the
IBP imposed, and hold that the respondent should be
DISBARRED from the practice of law.

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