April 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Legal and Judicial Ethics

Here are selected April 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on legal and judicial ethics:

Attorney; negligence. A complaint for disciplinary action was filed against Atty. Macario Ga due to his failure to reconstitute or turn over to his client the records of the case in his possession. The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates lawyers to serve their clients with competence and diligence.  Rule 18.03 and Rule 18.04 state:  Rule 18.03.  A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable; Rule 18.04.  A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable time to the client’s request for information.  Respondent Atty. Ga breached these duties when he failed to reconstitute or turn over the records of the case to his client, herein complainant Gone. His negligence manifests lack of competence and diligence required of every lawyer.  His failure to comply with the request of his client was a gross betrayal of his fiduciary duty and a breach of the trust reposed upon him by his client.  Respondent’s sentiments against complainant Gone is not a valid reason for him to renege on his obligation as a lawyer.  The moment he agreed to handle the case, he was bound to give it his utmost attention, skill and competence.  Public interest requires that he exert his best efforts and all his learning and ability in defense of his client’s cause.  Those who perform that duty with diligence and candor not only safeguard the interests of the client, but also serve the ends of justice.  They do honor to the bar and help maintain the community’s respect for the legal profession.  Patricio Gone v. Atty. Macario Ga, A.C. No. 7771, April 6, 2011.

Court personnel; conduct unbecoming.  Sheriff Villarosa’s failure to comply with Section 9 of Rule 39 by delaying the deposit of the final amount he received (from a judgment debtor pursuant to a writ of execution) and not delivering the other amounts to the Clerk of Court; and to faithfully account for the amounts he received thru his failure to deliver the exact amounts, are clear manifestation of conduct unbecoming of a government employee, tantamount to grave abuse of authority and dishonesty.  The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees enunciates the state policy to promote a high standard of ethics in public service, and enjoins public officials and employees to discharge their duties with utmost responsibility, integrity and competence. Section 4 of the Code lays down the norms of conduct which every public official and employee shall observe in the discharge and execution of their official duties, specifically providing that they shall at all times respect the rights of others, and refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy, public order, and public interest. Thus, any conduct contrary to these standards would qualify as conduct unbecoming of a government employee.   Ma. Chedna Romero v. Pacifico B. Villarosa, Jr., Sheriff IV, RTC, Br 17 Palompon, Leyte, A.M. No. P-11-2913, April 12, 2011.

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