4 CASES DECIDED IN 2020 FOR BAR REVIEW 

CASE 2000-0036: FELIX VS. VITRIOLO (G.R. No. 237129, 09 DEC 2020): VITRIOLO WAS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CHED. PETITIONER, A FACULTY MEMBER OF PLM, WROTE LETTERS TO RESPONDENT REQUESTING RESPONDENT TO INVESTIGATE  ALLEGED DIPLOMA MILL OPERATIONS OF PLM. RESPONDENT FAILED TO ANSWER SAID LETTERS AND CONDUCT INVESTIGATION. OMBUDSMAN RULED HIS OMISSION  CONSTITUTES GROSS NEGLECT OF DUTY. HE WAS DISMISSED FROM THE SERVICE. ON APPEAL CA RULED RESPONDENT COMMITTED ONLY SIMPLE NEGLECT OF DUTY AND IMPOSED 30 DAYS SUSPENSION. EVIDENCE SHOWS HE REFERRED MATTER TO VARIOUS UNITS OF CHED. BUT SUPREME COURT REVERSED CA AND AFFIRMED OMBUDSMAN RULING. THE FACT IS RESPONDENT FAILED TO PROMPTLY ANSWERED PETITIONER’S LETTERS AND THE FACT THAT AFTER SO MANY YEARS THERE WAS NO RESULT OF INVESTIGATION SHOWS RESPONDENT DID NOT PERFORM HIS DUTY.  SIGNIFICANT RULING:

“Worse, in Vitriolo’s reply dated July 11, 4014 to Felix’s June 30, 2014 letter, he only gave the lame excuse that the one assigned for investigation has retired without turning over his findings. Vi riol◊ even admitted that as late as August 3, 2015, he was still making referrals for the investigation of the matter to different CHED offices. If Vitriolo truly ordered an investigation of the alleged diploma-mill operations of PLM and considering that five long years has passed since Felix first wrote the letters to Vitriolo regarding the matter, a definite finding should have already been arrived at.

What is apparent in Vitriolo’s actions is that he did not take the allegations of Felix seriously. His flagrant and culpable refusal or unwillingness to perform his official duties could have allowed the continuation of PLM’s illegal academic programs.

All told, Vitriolo’s failure to reply to the two letters sent by Felix is not a simple violation of Section 5 (a) ofR.A. No. 6713 but an omission that gave rise to a more serious problem of the possible continuation of the illegal programs and diploma-mill operations of PLM. Because of Vitriolo’s gross neglect of duty, the investigation was not undertaken and the possible administrative liabilities of those involved were not determined.”

CASE 2020-0037-MONTEHERMOSO VS BATUTO (G.R. NO. 246553, 02 DEC 2020). DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE RTC JUDGMENT HAS BECOME FINAL AND EXECUTORY PETITIONERS FILED SEVERAL PETITIONS IN VARIOUS FORA TO OVERTURN THE RTC JUDGMENT. THE SC DID NOT LOOK WITH FAVOR ON PETITIONERS’ ACTS AND WARNED PETITIONERS AND THEIR COUNSEL THAT ANY FURTHER ATTEMPT TO REVIVE THIS CASE IN WHATEVER FORM AND BEFORE ANY FORUM WILL BE SEVERELY SANCTIONED. SIGNIFICANT RULING:

“Spouses Aguilar v. The Manila Banking Corporation12 aptly held:

It is an important fundamental principle in the judicial system that every litigation must come to an end. Access to the courts is guaranteed. But there must be a limit thereto. Once a litigant’s rights have been adjudicated in a valid and final judgment of a competent court, he should not be granted an unbridled license to come back for another try. The prevailing party should not be harassed by subsequent suits. For, if endless litigations were to be encouraged, then unscrupulous litigants will multiply to the detriment of the administration of justice.”

CASE 2020-0038: VILLAMOR VS ATTY. JUMAO-AS (A.C. No. 8111, 09 DEC 2020) ATTY. JUMAO-AS ORGANIZED A LENDING CORPORATION FOR VILLAMOR. HE ARRANGED FOR A LOAN FOR SUCH LENDING CORP FROM A CERTAIN YU. LATER ATTY JUMAO-AS PUT UP A SINGLE PROPRIETORSHIP LENDING COMPANY FOR YU AND TOLD COLLECTORS OF VILLAMOR’S CORP TO TURN OVER THEIR COLLECTIONS TO YU’S COMPANY BECAUSE OF YU’S LOAN TO VILLAMOR’S CORP. THEN ATTY. JUMAO-AS SENT DEMAND LETTER TO VILLAMOR FOR PAYMENT OF HER COMPANY’S DEBT TO YU. VILLAMOR FILED ADMIN CASE AGAINST ATTY. JUMAO-AS. SC ADOPTED IBP RECOMMENDATION THAT ATTY JUMAO-AS BE SUSPENDED FROM THE PRACTICE OF LAW FOR TWO YEARS. HE VIOLATED THE RULE ON CONFLICT OF INTEREST. SIGNIFICANT RULING:

“In Hornilla v. Salunat, the Court explained the concept of conflict of interest in this wise:

There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two or more opposing parties. The test is “whether or not in behalf of one client, it is the lawyer’s duty to fight for an issue or claim, but it is his duty to oppose it for the other client. In brief, if he argues for one client, this argument will be opposed by him when he argues for the other client………”

CASE 2020-0039:         BUENAVENTURA VS ATTY. GILLE (A.C. No. 7446, 20 DEC 2020) ATTY GILLE BORROWED MONEY FROM HIS CLIENT MICHELLE BUENAVENTURA USING FAKE TITLE AS COLLATERAL. LATER HE ISSUED CHECK AS PAYMENT WHICH BOUNCED. COMPLAINT WAS FILED AT IBP. ATTY GILLE FAILED TO FILE ANSWER AND POSITION PAPER. IBP RECOMMENDED THAT HE BE SUSPENDED FOR TWO YEARS. SC DISBARRED HIM. SIGNIFICANT RULINGS:

BY BORROWING MONEY FROM HIS CLIENT WHAT RULE DID ATTY GILLE VIOLATE?

“Atty. Gille violated Rule 16.04, Canon 16 of the CPR, which prohibits a lawyer from borrowing money from his client unless the client’s interests are fully protected, to wit:

CANON 16-A LAWYER SHALL HOIJ,D IN TRUST ALL MONIES AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENTS T AIT MAY COME INTO HIS POSSESSION.

Rule 16.04 -A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the client’s interests are fully protected by t e nature of the case or by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lefd money to a client except, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance! necessary expenses in a legal matter he is handling for the client.

It is undisputed that Atty. Gille secured a loan from Michelle. The mere act of borrowing money from his client is confidered unethical and an abuse of the latter’s confidence reposed upon him. I In doing so, Atty. Gille took advantage of his influence over his client Mi’rhelle. 10 Further, Michelle was at a disadvantage because of respondent’s abilit~ to use all the legal maneuverings to evade his obligation. 11”

BY GIVING AS COLLATERAL A FAKE TITLE AND BY ISSUING BOUNCED CHECK WHAT RULE DID ATTY GILLE VIOLATE?

“Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the CPR provides that “A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or deceitful conduct.” The “conduct” under the Rule does not pertain solely to a lawyer’s performance of professional duties. 15 It has long been settled that “[a] lawyer may be disciplined for misconduct committed either in his or her professional or private capacity. The test is whether [a lawyer’s conduct manifests his or her wanting] in moral character, honesty, probity, and good demeanor, or [unworthiness] to continue as an officer of the court.”