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G.R. No. 164948 June 27, 2006 DIWATA RAMOS LANDINGIN Petitioner, vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. D E C I S I O N CALLEJO, SR., J.: Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is the Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 77826 which reversed the Decision 2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tarlac City, Branch 63 in Civil Case No. 2733 granting the Petition for Adoption of the petitioner herein. The Antecedents On February 4, 2002, Diwata Ramos Landingin, a citizen of the United States of America (USA), of Filipino parentage and a resident of Guam, USA, filed a petition 3 for the adoption of minors Elaine Dizon Ramos who was born on August 31, 1986; 4 Elma Dizon Ramos, who was born on September 7, 1987; 5 and Eugene Dizon Ramos who was born on August 5, 1989. 6 The minors are the natural children of Manuel Ramos, petitioner’s brother, and Amelia Ramos. Landingin, as petitioner, alleged in her petition that when Manuel died on May 19, 1990, 7 the children were left to their paternal grandmother, Maria Taruc Ramos; their biological mother, Amelia, went to Italy, re-married there and now has two children by her second marriage and no longer communicated with her children by Manuel Ramos nor with her in-laws from the time she left up to the institution of the adoption; the minors are being financially supported by the petitioner and her children, and relatives abroad; as Maria passed away on November 23, 2000, petitioner desires to adopt the children; the minors have given their written consent 8 to the adoption; she is qualified to adopt as shown by the fact that she is a 57-year-old widow, has children of her own who are already married, gainfully employed and have their respective families; she lives alone in her own home in Guam, USA, where she acquired citizenship, and works as a restaurant server. She came back to the Philippines to spend time with the minors; her children gave their written consent 9 to the adoption of the minors. Petitioner’s brother, Mariano Ramos, who earns substantial income, signified his willingness and commitment to support the minors while in petitioner’s custody. Petitioner prayed that, after due hearing, judgment be rendered in her favor, as follows: WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed to this Honorable Court that after publication and hearing, judgment be rendered allowing the adoption of the minor children Elaine Dizon Ramos, Elma Dizon Ramos, and Eugene Dizon Ramos by the petitioner, and ordering that the minor children’s name follow the family name of petitioner. Petitioner prays for such other reliefs, just and equitable under the premises. 10 On March 5, 2002, the court ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to conduct a case study as mandated by Article 34 of Presidential Decree No. 603, as amended, and to submit a report thereon not later than April 4, 2002, the date set for the initial hearing of the petition. 11 The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) entered its appearance 12 but deputized the City Prosecutor of Tarlac to appear in its behalf. 13 Since her petition was unopposed, petitioner was allowed to present her evidence ex parte. 14 The petitioner testified in her behalf. She also presented Elaine Ramos, the eldest of the adoptees, to testify on the written consent executed by her and her siblings. 15 The petitioner marked in evidence the Affidavit of Consent purportedly executed by her children Ann, Errol, Dennis and Ricfel Branitley, all surnamed Landingin, and notarized by a notary public in Guam, USA, as proof of said consent. 16 On May 24, 2002, Elizabeth Pagbilao, Social Welfare Officer II of the DSWD, Field Office III, Tarlac, submitted a Child Study Report, with the following recommendation: In view of the foregoing, undersigned finds minors Elaine, Elma & Eugene all surnamed Ramos, eligible for adoption because of the following reasons: 1. Minors’ surviving parent, the mother has voluntarily consented to their adoption by the paternal aunt, Diwata Landingin this is in view of her inability to provide the parental care, guidance and support they need. An Affidavit of Consent was executed by the mother which is hereto attached. 1 | Page
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G.R. No. 164948 June 27, 2006DIWATA RAMOS LANDINGINPetitioner,vs.REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,Respondent.D E C I S I O NCALLEJO, SR.,J.:Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is the Decision1of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 77826 which reversed the Decision2of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tarlac City, Branch 63 in Civil Case No. 2733 granting the Petition for Adoption of the petitioner herein.The AntecedentsOn February 4, 2002, Diwata Ramos Landingin, a citizen of the United States of America (USA), of Filipino parentage and a resident of Guam, USA, filed a petition3for the adoption of minors Elaine Dizon Ramos who was born on August 31, 1986;4Elma Dizon Ramos, who was born on September 7, 1987;5and Eugene Dizon Ramos who was born on August 5, 1989.6The minors are the natural children of Manuel Ramos, petitioners brother, and Amelia Ramos.Landingin, as petitioner, alleged in her petition that when Manuel died on May 19, 1990,7the children were left to their paternal grandmother, Maria Taruc Ramos; their biological mother, Amelia, went to Italy, re-married there and now has two children by her second marriage and no longer communicated with her children by Manuel Ramos nor with her in-laws from the time she left up to the institution of the adoption; the minors are being financially supported by the petitioner and her children, and relatives abroad; as Maria passed away on November 23, 2000, petitioner desires to adopt the children; the minors have given their written consent8to the adoption; she is qualified to adopt as shown by the fact that she is a 57-year-old widow, has children of her own who are already married, gainfully employed and have their respective families; she lives alone in her own home in Guam, USA, where she acquired citizenship, and works as a restaurant server. She came back to the Philippines to spend time with the minors; her children gave their written consent9to the adoption of the minors. Petitioners brother, Mariano Ramos, who earns substantial income, signified his willingness and commitment to support the minors while in petitioners custody.Petitioner prayed that, after due hearing, judgment be rendered in her favor, as follows:WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed to this Honorable Court that after publication and hearing, judgment be rendered allowing the adoption of the minor children Elaine Dizon Ramos, Elma Dizon Ramos, and Eugene Dizon Ramos by the petitioner, and ordering that the minor childrens name follow the family name of petitioner.Petitioner prays for such other reliefs, just and equitable under the premises.10On March 5, 2002, the court ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to conduct a case study as mandated by Article 34 of Presidential Decree No. 603, as amended, and to submit a report thereon not later than April 4, 2002, the date set for the initial hearing of the petition.11The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) entered its appearance12but deputized the City Prosecutor of Tarlac to appear in its behalf.13Since her petition was unopposed, petitioner was allowed to present her evidence ex parte.14The petitioner testified in her behalf. She also presented Elaine Ramos, the eldest of the adoptees, to testify on the written consent executed by her and her siblings.15The petitioner marked in evidence the Affidavit of Consent purportedly executed by her children Ann, Errol, Dennis and Ricfel Branitley, all surnamed Landingin, and notarized by a notary public in Guam, USA, as proof of said consent.16On May 24, 2002, Elizabeth Pagbilao, Social Welfare Officer II of the DSWD, Field Office III, Tarlac, submitted a Child Study Report, with the following recommendation:In view of the foregoing, undersigned finds minors Elaine, Elma & Eugene all surnamed Ramos, eligible for adoption because of the following reasons:1. Minors surviving parent, the mother has voluntarily consented to their adoption by the paternal aunt, Diwata Landingin this is in view of her inability to provide the parental care, guidance and support they need. An Affidavit of Consent was executed by the mother which is hereto attached.2. The three minors subject for adoption have also expressed their willingness to be adopted and joins the petitioners in Guam, USA in the future. A joint Affidavit of consent is hereto attached. The minors developed close attachment to the petitioners and they regarded her as second parent.3. The minors are present under the care of a temporary guardian who has also family to look after. As young adolescents they really need parental love, care, guidance and support to ensure their protection and well being.In view of the foregoing, it is hereby respectfully recommended that minors Elaine D. Ramos, Elma D. Ramos and Eugene D. Ramos be adopted by their maternal aunt Diwata Landingin. Trial custody is hereby further recommended to be dispensed with considering that they are close relatives and that close attachments was already developed between the petitioner and the 3 minors.17Pagbilao narrated what transpired during her interview, as follows:The mother of minors came home together with her son John Mario, this May 2002 for 3 weeks vacation. This is to enable her appear for the personal interview concerning the adoption of her children.The plan for the adoption of minors by their paternal aunt Diwata Landingin was conceived after the death of their paternal grandmother and guardian. The paternal relatives including the petitioner who attended the wake of their mother were very much concerned about the well-being of the three minors. While preparing for their adoption, they have asked a cousin who has a family to stay with minors and act as their temporary guardian.The mother of minors was consulted about the adoption plan and after weighing the benefits of adoption to her children, she voluntarily consented. She realized that her children need parental love, guidance and support which she could not provide as she already has a second family & residing in Italy. Knowing also that the petitioners & her children have been supporting her children up to the present and truly care for them, she believes her children will be in good hands. She also finds petitioners in a better position to provide a secured and bright future to her children.18However, petitioner failed to present Pagbilao as witness and offer in evidence the voluntary consent of Amelia Ramos to the adoption; petitioner, likewise, failed to present any documentary evidence to prove that Amelia assents to the adoption.On November 23, 2002, the court, finding merit in the petition for adoption, rendered a decision granting said petition. The dispositive portion reads:WHEREFORE, it is hereby ordered that henceforth, minors Elaine Dizon Ramos, Elma Dizon Ramos, Eugene Dizon Ramos be freed from all legal obligations obedience and maintenance from their natural parents and that they be declared for all legal intents and purposes the children of Diwata Ramos Landingin. Trial custody is dispensed with considering that parent-children relationship has long been established between the children and the adoptive parents. Let the surnames of the children be changed from "Dizon-Ramos" to "Ramos-Landingin."Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Local Civil Registrar of Tarlac, Tarlac for him to effect the corresponding changes/amendment in the birth certificates of the above-mentioned minors.SO ORDERED.19The OSG appealed20the decision to the Court of Appeals on December 2, 2002. In its brief21for the oppositor-appellant, the OSG raised the following arguments:ITHE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE PETITION FOR ADOPTION DESPITE THE LACK OF CONSENT OF THE PROPOSED ADOPTEES BIOLOGICAL MOTHER.IITHE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE PETITION FOR ADOPTION DESPITE THE LACK OF THE WRITTEN CONSENT OF THE PETITIONERS CHILDREN AS REQUIRED BY LAW.IIITHE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE PETITION FOR ADOPTION DESPITE PETITIONERS FAILURE TO ESTABLISH THAT SHE IS IN A POSITION TO SUPPORT THE PROPOSED ADOPTEES.On April 29, 2004, the CA rendered a decision22reversing the ruling of the RTC. It held that petitioner failed to adduce in evidence the voluntary consent of Amelia Ramos, the childrens natural mother. Moreover, the affidavit of consent of the petitioners children could not also be admitted in evidence as the same was executed in Guam, USA and was not authenticated or acknowledged before a Philippine consular office, and although petitioner has a job, she was not stable enough to support the children. The dispositive portion of the CA decision reads:WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed decision dated November 25, 2002 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 63, Tarlac City in Spec. Proc. No. 2733 is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE.SO ORDERED.23Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration24on May 21, 2004, which the CA denied in its Resolution dated August 12, 2004.25Petitioner, thus, filed the instant petition for review on certiorari26on September 7, 2004, assigning the following errors:1. THAT THE HONORABLE LOWER COURT HAS OVERLOOKED AND MISAPPLIED SOME FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH ARE OF WEIGHT AND IMPORTANCE AND WHICH IF CONSIDERED WOULD HAVE AFFECTED THE RESULT OF THE CASE.2. THAT THE HONORABLE LOWER COURT ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT THE PETITIONER-APPELLEE IS NOT FINANCIALLY CAPABLE TO SUPPORT THE THREE CHILDREN.27The issues raised by the parties in their pleadings are the following: (a) whether the petitioner is entitled to adopt the minors without the written consent of their biological mother, Amelia Ramos; (b) whether or not the affidavit of consent purportedly executed by the petitioner-adopters children sufficiently complies with the law; and (c) whether or not petitioner is financially capable of supporting the adoptees.The Courts RulingThe petition is denied for lack of merit.It has been the policy of the Court to adhere to the liberal concept, as stated in Malkinson v. Agrava,28that adoption statutes, being humane and salutary, hold the interest and welfare of the child to be of paramount consideration and are designed to provide homes, parental care and education for unfortunate, needy or orphaned children and give them the protection of society and family in the person of the adopter as well as to allow childless couples or persons to experience the joys of parenthood and give them legally a child in the person of the adopted for the manifestation of their natural parental instincts. Every reasonable intendment should thus be sustained to promote and fulfill these noble and compassionate objectives of the law.29However, in Cang v. Court of Appeals,30the Court also ruled that the liberality with which this Court treats matters leading to adoption insofar as it carries out the beneficent purposes of the law to ensure the rights and privileges of the adopted child arising therefrom, ever mindful that the paramount consideration is the overall benefit and interest of the adopted child, should be understood in its proper context and perspective. The Courts position should not be misconstrued or misinterpreted as to extend to inferences beyond the contemplation of law and jurisprudence. Thus, the discretion to approve adoption proceedings is not to be anchored solely on best interests of the child but likewise, with due regard to the natural rights of the parents over the child.31Section 9 of Republic Act No. 8552, otherwise known as the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998, provides:Sec. 9. Whose Consent is Necessary to the Adoption. - After being properly counseled and informed of his/her right to give or withhold his/her approval of the adoption, the written consent of the following to the adoption is hereby required:(a) The adoptee, if ten (10) years of age or over;(b) The biological parent(s) of the child, if known, or the legal guardian, or the proper government instrumentality which has legal custody of the child;(c) The legitimate and adopted sons/daughters, ten (10) years of age or over, of the adopter(s) and adoptee, if any;(d) The illegitimate sons/daughters, ten (10) years of age or over, of the adopter, if living with said adopter and the latters souse, if any;(e) The spouse, if any, of the person adopting or to be adopted.The general requirement of consent and notice to the natural parents is intended to protect the natural parental relationship from unwarranted interference by interlopers, and to insure the opportunity to safeguard the best interests of the child in the manner of the proposed adoption.32Clearly, the written consent of the biological parents is indispensable for the validity of a decree of adoption. Indeed, the natural right of a parent to his child requires that his consent must be obtained before his parental rights and duties may be terminated and re-established in adoptive parents. In this case, petitioner failed to submit the written consent of Amelia Ramos to the adoption.We note that in her Report, Pagbilao declared that she was able to interview Amelia Ramos who arrived in the Philippines with her son, John Mario in May 2002. If said Amelia Ramos was in the Philippines and Pagbilao was able to interview her, it is incredible that the latter would not require Amelia Ramos to execute a Written Consent to the adoption of her minor children. Neither did the petitioner bother to present Amelia Ramos as witness in support of the petition.Petitioner, nonetheless, argues that the written consent of the biological mother is no longer necessary because when Amelias husband died in 1990, she left for Italy and never came back. The children were then left to the guidance and care of their paternal grandmother. It is the paternal relatives, including petitioner, who provided for the childrens financial needs. Hence, Amelia, the biological mother, had effectively abandoned the children. Petitioner further contends that it was by twist of fate that after 12 years, when the petition for adoption was pending with the RTC that Amelia and her child by her second marriage were on vacation in the Philippines. Pagbilao, the DSWD social worker, was able to meet her, and during the meeting, Amelia intimated to the social worker that she conformed to the adoption of her three children by the petitioner.Petitioners contention must be rejected. When she filed her petition with the trial court, Rep. Act No. 8552 was already in effect. Section 9 thereof provides that if the written consent of the biological parents cannot be obtained, the written consent of the legal guardian of the minors will suffice. If, as claimed by petitioner, that the biological mother of the minors had indeed abandoned them, she should, thus have adduced the written consent of their legal guardian.Ordinarily, abandonment by a parent to justify the adoption of his child without his consent, is a conduct which evinces a settled purpose to forego all parental duties.33The term means neglect and refusal to perform the filial and legal obligations of love and support. If a parent withholds presence, love, care, the opportunity to display filial affection, and neglects to lend support and maintenance, the parent, in effect, abandons the child.34Merely permitting the child to remain for a time undisturbed in the care of others is not such an abandonment.35To dispense with the requirement of consent, the abandonment must be shown to have existed at the time of adoption.36In this case, petitioner relied solely on her testimony and that of Elaine Ramos to prove her claim that Amelia Ramos had abandoned her children. Petitioners testimony on that matter follows:Q Where is the mother of these three children now?A She left for Italy on November 20, 1990, sir.Q At the time when Amelia Ramos left for Italy, was there an instance where she communicated with the family?A None, sir.Q How about with her children?A None, sir.Q Do you know what place in Italy did she reside?A I do not know, sir.Q Did you receive any news about Amelia Ramos?A What I know, sir, was that she was already married with another man.Q From whom did you learn that?A From others who came from Italy, sir.Q Did you come to know whether she has children by her second marriage?A Yes, sir, she got two kids.37Elaine, the eldest of the minors, testified, thus:Q Where is your mother now?A In Italy, sir.Q When did your mother left for Italy?A After my father died, sir.Q How old were you when your mother left for Italy in 1990?A Two years old, sir.Q At the time when your mother left for Italy, did your mother communicate with you?A No, sir.38However, the Home Study Report of the DSWD Social Worker also stated the following:IV. Background of the Case:x x x xSince the mother left for Italy, minors siblings had been under the care and custody of their maternal grandmother. However, she died in Nov. 2001 and an uncle, cousin of their deceased father now serves as their guardian. The petitioner, together with her children and other relatives abroad have been supporting the minor children financially, even during the time that they were still living with their natural parents. Their mother also sends financial support but very minimal.39x x x xV. Background Information about the Minors Being Sought for Adoption:x x x xAs the eldest she tries her best to be a role model to her younger siblings. She helps them in their lessons, works and has fun with them. She also encourages openness on their problems and concerns and provides petty counseling. In serious problems she already consult (sic) her mother and petitioner-aunt.40x x x xIn their 5 years of married life, they begot 3 children, herein minors, Amelia recalled that they had a happy and comfortable life. After the death of her husband, her in-laws which include the petitioner had continued providing support for them. However being ashamed of just depending on the support of her husbands relatives, she decided to work abroad. Her parents are also in need of financial help as they are undergoing maintenance medication. Her parents mortgaged their farm land which she used in going to Italy and worked as domestic helper.When she left for Italy in November 1990, she entrusted her 3 children to the care & custody of her mother-in-law who returned home for good, however she died on November 2000.While working in Italy, she met Jun Tayag, a married man from Tarlac. They became live-in partners since 1995 and have a son John Mario who is now 2 years old. The three of them are considered Italian residents. Amelia claimed that Mr. Tayag is planning to file an annulment of his marriage and his wife is amenable to it. He is providing his legitimate family regular support.Amelia also sends financial support ranging from P10,000-P15,000 a month through her parents who share minimal amount of P3,000-P5,000 a month to his (sic) children. The petitioner and other paternal relatives are continuously providing support for most of the needs & education of minors up to present.41Thus, when Amelia left for Italy, she had not intended to abandon her children, or to permanently sever their mother-child relationship. She was merely impelled to leave the country by financial constraints. Yet, even while abroad, she did not surrender or relinquish entirely her motherly obligations of rearing the children to her now deceased mother-in-law, for, as claimed by Elaine herself, she consulted her mother, Amelia, for serious personal problems. Likewise, Amelia continues to send financial support to the children, though in minimal amounts as compared to what her affluent in-laws provide.Let it be emphasized, nevertheless, that the adoption of the minors herein will have the effect of severing all legal ties between the biological mother, Amelia, and the adoptees, and that the same shall then be vested on the adopter.42It would thus be against the spirit of the law if financial consideration were to be the paramount consideration in deciding whether to deprive a person of parental authority over his/her children. More proof has to be adduced that Amelia has emotionally abandoned the children, and that the latter will not miss her guidance and counsel if they are given to an adopting parent.43Again, it is the best interest of the child that takes precedence in adoption.Section 34, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court provides that the Court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. The purpose for which the evidence is offered must be specified. The offer of evidence is necessary because it is the duty of the Court to rest its findings of fact and its judgment only and strictly upon the evidence offered by the parties. Unless and until admitted by the court in evidence for the purpose or purposes for which such document is offered, the same is merely a scrap of paper barren of probative weight. Mere identification of documents and the markings thereof as exhibits do not confer any evidentiary weight on documents unless formally offered.44Petitioner failed to offer in evidence Pagbilaos Report and of the Joint Affidavit of Consent purportedly executed by her children; the authenticity of which she, likewise, failed to prove. The joint written consent of petitioners children45was notarized on January 16, 2002 in Guam, USA; for it to be treated by the Rules of Court in the same way as a document notarized in this country it needs to comply with Section 2 of Act No. 2103,46which states:Section 2. An instrument or document acknowledged and authenticated in a foreign country shall be considered authentic if the acknowledgment and authentication are made in accordance with the following requirements:(a) The acknowledgment shall be made before (1) an ambassador, minister, secretary of legation, charg d affaires, consul, vice-consul, or consular agent of the Republic of the Philippines, acting within the country or place to which he is accredited, or (2) a notary public or officer duly authorized by law of the country to take acknowledgments of instruments or documents in the place where the act is done.(b) The person taking the acknowledgment shall certify that the person acknowledging the instrument or document is known to him, and that he is the same person who executed it, and acknowledged that the same is his free act and deed. The certificate shall be under his official seal, if he is by law required to keep a seal, and if not, his certificate shall so state. In case the acknowledgment is made before a notary public or an officer mentioned in subdivision (2) of the preceding paragraph, the certificate of the notary public or the officer taking the acknowledgment shall be authenticated by an ambassador, minister, secretary of legation, charg de affaires, consul, vice-consul, or consular agent of the Republic of the Philippines, acting within the country or place to which he is accredited. The officer making the authentication shall certify under his official seal that the person who took the acknowledgment was at the time duly authorized to act as notary public or that he was duly exercising the functions of the office by virtue of which he assumed to act, and that as such he had authority under the law to take acknowledgment of instruments or documents in the place where the acknowledgment was taken, and that his signature and seal, if any, are genuine.As the alleged written consent of petitioners legitimate children did not comply with the afore-cited law, the same can at best be treated by the Rules as a private document whose authenticity must be proved either by anyone who saw the document executed or written; or by evidence of the genuineness of the signature or handwriting of the makers.47Since, in the instant case, no further proof was introduced by petitioner to authenticate the written consent of her legitimate children, the same is inadmissible in evidence.In reversing the ruling of the RTC, the CA ruled that petitioner was not stable enough to support the children and is only relying on the financial backing, support and commitment of her children and her siblings.48Petitioner contradicts this by claiming that she is financially capable as she has worked in Guam for 14 years, has savings, a house, and currently earns $5.15 an hour with tips of not less than $1,000.00 a month. Her children and siblings have likewise committed themselves to provide financial backing should the need arise. The OSG, again in its comment, banks on the statement in the Home Study Report that "petitioner has limited income." Accordingly, it appears that she will rely on the financial backing of her children and siblings in order to support the minor adoptees. The law, however, states that it is the adopter who should be in a position to provide support in keeping with the means of the family.Since the primary consideration in adoption is the best interest of the child, it follows that the financial capacity of prospective parents should alsobe carefully evaluated and considered. Certainly, the adopter should be in a position to support the would-be adopted child or children, in keeping with the means of the family.According to the Adoption Home Study Report49forwarded by the Department of Public Health & Social Services of the Government of Guam to the DSWD, petitioner is no longer supporting her legitimate children, as the latter are already adults, have individual lives and families. At the time of the filing of the petition, petitioner was 57 years old, employed on a part-time basis as a waitress, earning $5.15 an hour and tips of around $1,000 a month. Petitioners main intention in adopting the children is to bring the latter to Guam, USA. She has a house at Quitugua Subdivision in Yigo, Guam, but the same is still being amortized. Petitioner likewise knows that the limited income might be a hindrance to the adoption proceedings.Given these limited facts, it is indeed doubtful whether petitioner will be able to sufficiently handle the financial aspect of rearing the three children in the US. She only has a part-time job, and she is rather of age. While petitioner claims that she has the financial support and backing of her children and siblings, the OSG is correct in stating that the ability to support the adoptees is personal to the adopter, as adoption only creates a legal relation between the former and the latter. Moreover, the records do not prove nor support petitioners allegation that her siblings and her children are financially able and that they are willing to support the minors herein. The Court, therefore, again sustains the ruling of the CA on this issue.While the Court recognizes that petitioner has only the best of intentions for her nieces and nephew, there are legal infirmities that militate against reversing the ruling of the CA. In any case, petitioner is not prevented from filing a new petition for adoption of the herein minors.WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DENIED.SO ORDERED.

Adm. Case No. 6475 January 30, 2013FE A. YLAYA,Complainant,vs.ATTY. GLENN CARLOS GACOTT,Respondent.D E C I S I O NBRION,J.:For the Court's consideration is the disbarment complaint1tiled by Fe A. Ylaya (complainant) against Atty. Glenn Carlos Gacott (respondent) who allegedly deceived the complainant and her late husband, Laurentino L. Ylaya, into signing a "preparatory" Deed of Sale that the respondent converted into a Deed of Absolute Sale in favor of his relatives.After the submission of the respondent's comment to the complaint, the Court referred the complaint to the Commission on Bar Discipline ofthe Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, evaluation and recommendation.The complainant alleged that she and her late husband are the registered owners of two (2) parcels of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title ( TCT) Nos. 162632 and 162633 located at Barangay Sta. Lourdes, Puerto Princesa City. Prior to the acquisition of these properties, TCT No. 162632 (property) was already the subject of expropriation proceedings filed by the City Government of Puerto Princesa (City Government) on May 23, 1996 against its former registered owner, Cirilo Arellano. The expropriation case was filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Palawan and Puerto Princesa, Branch 95, and was docketed as Civil Case No. 2902. The RTC already fixed the price and issued an order for the City Government to depositP6,000,000.00 as just compensation for the property.2The respondent briefly represented the complainant and her late husband in the expropriation case as intervenors for being the new registered owners of the property. The complainant alleged that the respondent convinced them to sign a "preparatory deed of sale" for the sale of the property, but he left blank the space for the name of the buyer and for the amount of consideration. The respondent further alleged that the deed would be used in the sale to the City Government when the RTC issues the order to transfer the titles.3The respondent then fraudulently without their knowledge and consent, and contrary to their understanding converted the "preparatory deed of sale" into a Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 4, 2001,4selling the subject property to Reynold So and Sylvia Carlos So forP200,000.00.5The complainant denied that she and Laurentino were paid theP200,000.00 purchase price or that they would sell the property "for such a measly sum" when they stood to get at leastP6,000,000.00 as just compensation.6The complainant also claimed that the respondent notarized the Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 4, 2001 even though Reynold and Sylvia (his mothers sister) are his uncle and his aunt, respectively.7The respondent denied all the allegations in the complaint.8The respondent argued that the complainants greed to get the just Compensation9caused her to file this "baseless, unfounded and malicious" disbarment case.10He claimed that the sale was their voluntary transaction and that he "simply ratified the document."11He also claimed that Reynold and Laurentino had originally jointly purchased the properties from Cirilo Arellano on July 10, 2000; that they were co-owners for some time; and that Laurentino subsequently sold his share to Reynold under a Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 4, 2001.12The respondent specifically denied asking the complainant and her late husband to execute any "preparatory deed of sale" in favor of the City Government.13He also denied that the Deed of Absolute Sale contained blanks when they signed it.14That he filed for the spouses Ylaya and Reynold an opposition to the just compensation the RTC fixed proved that there was no agreement to use the document for the expropriation case.15He also argued that it was clear from the document that the intended buyer was a natural person, not a juridical person, because there were spaces for the buyers legal age, marital status, and citizenship,16and he was even constrained to file a subsequent Motion to Intervene on behalf of Reynold because the complainant "maliciously retained" the TCTs to the subject properties after borrowing them from his office.17Lastly, he denied violating the Rules on Notarial Practice.18On September 4, 2006, the respondent filed a Motion to Resolve or Decide the Case dated August 24, 2006 praying for the early resolution of the complaint.19On December 5, 2006, the complainant filed an Ex Parte Motion to Withdraw the Verified Complaint and To Dismiss the Case dated November 14, 2006.20On February 28, 2008, the complainant executed an Affidavit21affirming and confirming the existence, genuineness and due execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale notarized on March 6, 2000;22the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) dated April 19, 2000;23and the Deed of Absolute Sale notarized in 2001.24The respondent submitted this Affidavit to the IBP as an attachment to his Motion for Reconsideration of April 21, 2008.25The IBPs FindingsIn her Report and Recommendation dated November 19, 2007, IBP Commissioner Anna Caridad Sazon-Dupaya found the respondent administratively liable for violating Canon 1, Rule 1.01 (A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct) and Canon 16 ("A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession) of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and Section 3(c), Rule IV of A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC (2004 Rules on Notarial Practice).26She recommended his suspension from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months.27In its Resolution No. XVIII-2007-30228dated December 14, 2007, the IBP Board of Governors adopted the IBP Commissioners finding, but increased the penalty imposed to two (2) years suspension and a warning:RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner [in] the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering respondents violations of Canon 1, [Rule] 1.01 and Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule IV, Sec. 39(c) of A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC (2004 Rules on Notarial Practice), Atty. Glenn Carlos Gacott is hereby SUSPENDED from practice of law for two (2) years with a Warning that commission of a similar offense will be dealt with more severely. [emphases supplied]On May 8, 2008, the respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated April 21, 2008, attaching, among others, a copy of the complainants Affidavit dated February 27, 2008, admitting the existence, genuineness and due execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale between Cirilo and Laurentino; the MOA between Laurentino and Reynold; the Deed of Absolute Sale between Laurentino and Reynold; and the Compromise Agreement between Reynold and the complainant dated November 14, 2006 for the expropriation case.29On September 4, 2008, the respondent filed a Manifestation with the Supreme Court, requesting that the IBP be directed to resolve his Motion for Reconsideration.30By Resolution No. XIX-2010-545 dated October 8, 2010,31the IBP Board of Governors denied the respondents Motion for Reconsideration for failing to raise any new substantial matter or any cogent reason to warrant a reversal or even a modification of its Resolution No. XVIII-2007-302.32On March 14, 2012, the respondent filed a Petition for Review (on appeal) assailing the IBPs findings, as follows:33a) In conveniently concluding that the Deed of Absolute Sale was pre-signed and fraudulently notarized without requiring Fe Ylaya to adduce evidence in a formal hearing thus, violated the respondents right to due process as he was not able to cross-examine her. This is not to mention that the complainant failed to offer corroborative proof to prove her bare allegations;b) In sweepingly and arbitrarily disregarded/skirted (sic) the public documents (MOA and 2 other DOAS) duly executed by the parties therein and notarized by the respondent;c) In totally ignoring the complainants Affidavit admitting the genuineness and due execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale in issue;d) In arbitrarily concluding the absence of co-ownership by Reynold So and Fe Ylaya of the subject lots despite the existence of a notarized MOA clearly showing the co-ownership of Ylaya and So; ande) In finding the respondent/appellants act of notarizing the DOAS as contrary to the notarial rules.The IssuesFrom the assigned errors, the complainant poses the following issues:(1) whether the IBP violated the respondents right to due process; and(2) whether the evidence presented supports a finding that the respondent is administratively liable for violating Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and Section 3(c), Rule IV of A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC.The Courts RulingWe set aside the findings and recommendations of the IBP Commissioner and those of the IBP Board of Governors finding the respondent liable for violating Canon 1, Rules 1.01 and Section 3(c), Rule IV of A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC.34We however hold the respondent liable for violating Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for being remiss in his obligation to hold in trust his clients properties. We likewise find him liable for violation of (1) Canon 15, Rule 15.03 for representing conflicting interests without the written consent of the represented parties, thus, violating the rule on conflict of interests; and (2) Canon 18, Rule 18.03 for neglecting a legal matter entrusted to him.a. Due process violationThe most basic tenet of due process is the right to be heard. Denial of due process means the total lack of opportunity to be heard or to have ones day in court. As a rule, no denial of due process takes place where a party has been given an opportunity to be heard and to present his case;35what is prohibited is the absolute lack of opportunity to be heard.The respondent claims that the IBP violated his right to due process because he was not given the "amplest opportunity to defend himself, to cross examine the witness complainant, to object to the admissibility of documents or present controverting evidence"36when the IBP rendered its conclusion without requiring the complainant to adduce evidence in a formal hearing and despite the absence of corroborative proof. He insists that these defects rendered the complainants allegations as hearsay, and the IBPs report, recommendation or resolution null and void.Although the respondent failed to have a face-to-face confrontation with the complainant when she failed to appear at the required mandatory conference on October 6, 2005,37the records reveal that the respondent fully participated during the entire proceedings and submitted numerous pleadings, including evidence, before the IBP. He was even allowed to file a motion for reconsideration supported by his submitted evidence, which motion the IBP considered and ruled upon in its Resolution No. XIX-2010-545 dated October 8, 2010.38In Alliance of Democratic Free Labor Organization v. Laguesma,39we held that due process, as applied to administrative proceedings, is the opportunity to explain ones side. In Samalio v. Court of Appeals,40due process in an administrative context does not require trial-type proceedings similar to those in courts of justice. Where the opportunity to be heard, either through oral arguments or through pleadings, is accorded, no denial of procedural due process takes place. The requirements of due process are satisfied where the parties are afforded a fair and reasonable opportunity to explain their side of the controversy at hand.Similarly, in A.Z. Arnaiz Realty, Inc. v. Office of the President,41we held that "due process, as a constitutional precept, does not always, and in all situations, require a trial-type proceeding. Litigants may be heard through pleadings, written explanations, position papers, memoranda or oral arguments. The standard of due process that must be met in administrative tribunals allows a certain degree of latitude[, provided that] fairness is not ignored. It is, therefore, not legally objectionable for being violative of due process, for an administrative agency to resolve a case based solely on position papers, affidavits or documentary evidence submitted by the parties."42In this case, the respondents failure to cross-examine the complainant is not a sufficient ground to support the claim that he had not been afforded due process. The respondent was heard through his pleadings, his submission of alleged controverting evidence, and his oral testimony during the October 6, 2005 mandatory conference. These pleadings, evidence and testimony were received and considered by the IBP Commissioner when she arrived at her findings and recommendation, and were the bases for the IBP Boards Resolution.Moreover, "any seeming defect in the observance of due process is cured by the filing of a motion for reconsideration. A denia of due process cannot be successfully invoked by a party who has had the opportunity to be heard on his motion for reconsideration. Undoubtedly in this case, the requirement of the law was afforded to the respondent."43We also note that the respondent, on a Motion to Resolve or Decide the Case dated August 24, 2006, submitted his case to the IBP for its resolution without any further hearings. The motion, filed almost one year after the mandatory conference on October 6, 2005, significantly did not contain any statement regarding a denial of due process. In effect, the respondent himself waived his cross-examination of the complainant when he asked the IBP Board of Governors to resolve the case based on the pleadings and the evidence on record. To quote his own submission:1. On June 30, 2004, a complaint was filed in this case;2. On October 19, 2004, the respondent filed his comment with all its attachments denying all the allegations in the complaint;3. On June 23, 2005, the respondent filed his position paper. On April 28, 2006, the respondent also filed his supplemental position paper. By contrast, up to this date, the complainant/petitioner has not filed her verified position paper thus, waived her right to file the same;4. There being no other genuine issues to be heard in this case as all the defenses and counter-arguments are supported by documentary evidence, it is most respectfully prayed that the instant case be resolved on its merits or be ordered dismissed for lack of merit without further hearing;5. Further, considering that there is an on-going case in Branch 52 of the Regional Trial Court of Palawan in Civil Case No. 2902 for Expropriation involving the same property, and such fact was deliberately omitted by the complainant in her Verified Complaint as shown in the certification of non-forum shopping, the outright dismissal of this case is warranted, hence, this motion; and6. This is meant to expedite the termination of this case.44(underscore ours; italics supplied)Finally, we note Section 11, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court which provides that:No defect in a complaint, notice, answer, or in the proceeding or the Investigators Report shall be considered as substantial unless the Board of Governors, upon considering the whole record, finds that such defect has resulted or may result in a miscarriage of justice, in which event theBoard shall take such remedial action as the circumstances may warrant, including invalidation of the entire proceedings.In this case, the IBP Commissioners findings were twice reviewed by the IBP Board of Governors the first review resulted in Resolution No. XVIII-2007-30245dated December 14, 2007, affirming the IBP Commissioners findings, but modifying the penalty; the second review resulted in Resolution No. XIX-2010-545 dated October 8, 2010,46denying the respondents motion for reconsideration. In both instances, the IBP Board of Governors found no defect or miscarriage of justice warranting a remedial action or the invalidation of the proceedings.We emphasize that disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are sui generis in that they are neither purely civil nor purely criminal; they involve investigations by the Court into the conduct of one of its officers,47not the trial of an action or a suit.Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, they do not involve a 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. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. 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. [emphases deleted]The complainant in disbarment cases is not a direct party to the case but a witness who brought the matter to the attention of the Court.48Flowing from its sui generis character, it is not mandatory to have a formal hearing in which the complainant must adduce evidence.From all these, we find it clear that the complainant is not indispensable to the disciplinary proceedings and her failure to appear for cross-examination or to provide corroborative evidence of her allegations is of no merit. What is important is whether, upon due investigation, the IBPBoard of Governors finds sufficient evidence of the respondents misconduct to warrant the exercise of its disciplinary powers.b. Merits of the Complaint"In administrative cases against lawyers, the quantum of proof required is preponderance of evidence which the complainant has the burden to discharge."49Preponderance of evidence means that the evidence adduced by one side is, as a whole, superior to or has a greater weight than that of the other. It means evidence which is more convincing to the court as worthy of belief compared to the presented contrary evidence.Under Section 1, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court, in determining whether preponderance of evidence exists, the court may consider the following: (a) all the facts and circumstances of the case; (b) the witnesses manner of testifying, their intelligence, their means and opportunity of knowing the facts to which they are testifying, the nature of the facts to which they testify, and the probability or improbability of their testimony; (c) the witnesses interest or want of interest, and also their personal credibility so far as the same may ultimately appear in the trial; and (d) the number of witnesses, although it does not mean that preponderance is necessarily with the greater number.50By law, a lawyer enjoys the legal presumption that he is innocent of the charges against him until the contrary is proven, and that as an officer of the court, he is presumed to have performed his duties in accordance with his oath.51The IBP Commissioner set out her findings as follows:The undersigned, after a careful evaluation of the evidence presented by both parties, finds that the charges of the complainant against the respondent are worthy of belief based on the following:First, the allegation of the respondent that Reynold So was actually co-owner of spouses Ylanas (sic) in the properties subject of the Deed of Sale between Felix Arellano and Spouses Ylanas (sic) is hard to believe despite the presentation of the Memorandum of Agreement.It is elementary in Rules of Evidence that when the contents of a written document are put in issue, the best evidence would be the document itself. In the Deed of Sale between Felix Arellano and Spouses Ylanas (sic), the buyer of the subject properties is only Laurentino L. Ylaya married to Fe A. Ylaya. The document does not state that Reynold So was likewise a buyer together with Laurentino Ylaya, or that the former paid half of the purchase price.Also, it is hard for this Commission to believe that Reynold So, assisted by a lawyer at that and who allegedly paid half of the purchase price, would not insist for the inclusion of his name in the Deed of Sale as well as the Transfer Certificate of Title subsequently issued.The Memorandum of Agreement between the spouses Ylaya and Reynold So produced by the respondent cannot overturn the belief of this Commission considering that the Memorandum of Agreement was executed more than a month AFTER the Deed of Sale between Felix Arellano and the Ylayas was notarized. This is not to mention the fact that the complainant denied ever having executed the Memorandum of Agreement. A close examination of the signatories in the said Memorandum of Agreement would reveal that indeed, the alleged signatures of the complainant and her husband are not the same with their signatures in other documents.Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the Memorandum of Agreement is valid, thereby making Laurentino Ylaya and co-owner Reynold So co-owners of the subject properties (Please see Annex "B" of respondents Comment), this Commission finds it hard to believe Laurentino Ylaya would sell it to Reynold So forP200,000 x x x when his minimum expenses for the purchase thereof is alreadyP225,000.00 and he was expecting to receiveP7,000,000.00, more or less. That would mean that if Reynold So and the complainant were co-owners, theP7,000,000.00 would then be equally divided among them atP3,500,000.00 each, far above theP200,000.00 selling price reflected in the pre-signed Deed of Sale.As to the second issue, this Commission believes that the respondent committed serious error in notarizing the Deed of Sale and the Memorandum of Agreement between his uncle Reynold So and Laurentino Ylaya based on Rule IV, Section 3 (c) of A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC which provides as follows:"Sec. 3. Disqualifications a notary public is disqualified from performing a notarial act if he:(a) x x x.(b) x x x.(c) is a spouse, common-law partner, ancestor, descendant, or relative by affinity or consanguinity of the principal within the fourth civil degree."The defense therefore of the respondent that he did not violate the aforementioned Rule becausehis uncle Reynold So, the buyer is not the principal in the Subject Deed of Sale but the seller Laurentino Ylaya (please see page 3 of the respondents Supplemental Position Paper) is misplaced. Clearly, both the buyer and the seller in the instant case are considered principals in the contract entered into.Furthermore, if we are to consider the argument of the respondent that his uncle was not a principal so as to apply the afore-quoted provision of the Rules, the respondent still violated the Rules when he notarized the subject Memorandum of Agreement between Laurentino Ylaya and his uncle Reynold So. Clearly, both complainant and Reynold So were principal parties in the said Memorandum of Agreement.52The respondent argues that the IBP Commissioners findings are contrary to the presented evidence, specifically to the MOA executed by Laurentino and Reynold acknowledging the existence of a co-ownership;53to the complainants Ex Parte Motion to Withdraw the Verified Complaint and To Dismiss the Case dated November 14, 2006 where she stated that the parties have entered into a compromise agreement in Civil Case No. 2902, and that the disbarment complaint arose from a misunderstanding, miscommunication and improper appreciation of facts;54to her Affidavit dated February 27, 200855affirming and confirming the existence, genuineness and due execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale notarized on March 6, 2000;56and to the Deed of Absolute Sale notarized in 2001.57In all, the respondent claims that these cited pieces of evidence prove that this administrative complaint against him is fabricated, false and untrue. He also points to Atty. Robert Peneyra, the complainants counsel in this administrative case, as the hand behind the complaint.58According to the respondent, Atty. Peneyra harbors ill-will against him and his family after his father filed several administrative cases against Atty. Peneyra, one of which resulted in the imposition of a warning and a reprimand on Atty. Peneyra.59Reynold, in his Affidavit dated October 11, 2004, confirms that there was a co-ownership between him and Laurentino; that Laurentino decided to sell his half of the property to Reynold because he (Laurentino) had been sickly and in dire need of money to pay for his medical bills; that Laurentino agreed to the price ofP200,000.00 as this was almost the same value of his investment when he and Reynold jointly acquired the property; and that the sale to Reynold was with the agreement and consent of the complainant who voluntarily signed the Deed of Sale.60After examining the whole record of the case, we agree with the respondent and find the evidence insufficient to prove the charge that he violated Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Section 3(c), Rule IV of A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC. Specifically, (1) the evidence against the respondent fails to show the alleged fraudulent and deceitful acts he has taken to mislead the complainant and her husband into signing a "preparatory deed of sale" and the conversion into a Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 4, 2001 in favor of Reynold; and (2) no prohibition exists against the notarization of a document in which any of the parties interested is the notarys relative within the 4th civil degree, by affinity or consanguinity, at that time the respondent notarized the documents.In her Report and Recommendation,61the IBP Commissioner concluded that the respondent is liable for deceit and fraud because he failed to prove the existence of a co-ownership between Laurentino and Reynold; in her opinion, the signatures of the complainant and of her husband on the MOA "are not the same with their signatures in other documents."62We do not agree with this finding. While the facts of this case may raise some questions regarding the respondents legal practice, we nevertheless found nothing constituting clear evidence of the respondents specific acts of fraud and deceit. His failure to prove the existence of a co-ownership does not lead us to the conclusion that the MOA and the Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 4, 2001 are spurious and that the respondent was responsible for creating these spurious documents. We are further persuaded, after noting that in disregarding the MOA, the IBP Commissioner failed to specify what differences she observed in the spouses Ylayas signatures in the MOA and what documents were used in comparison.Apart from her allegations, the complainants pieces of evidence consist of TCT Nos. 162632 and 162633;63her Motion for Leave to Intervene in Civil Case No. 2902 dated May 17, 2000;64the RTC order in Civil Case No. 2902 dated November 6, 2000 fixing the price of just compensation;65the Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 4, 2001;66the spouses Ylayas Verified Manifestation dated September 2, 2002, filed with the RTC in Civil Case No. 2902, assailing the Motion to Deposit Just Compensation filed by the respondent on behalf of Reynold and manifesting the sale between Laurentino and Reynold;67the Provincial Prosecutors Subpoena to the complainant in connection with the respondents complaint for libel;68the respondents complaint for libel against the complainant dated August 27, 2003;69the complainants Counter Affidavit dated March 26, 2004 against the charge of libel;70and the respondents letter to the Provincial Attorney of Palawan dated April 5, 2004, requesting for "official information regarding the actual attendance of Atty. ROBERT Y. PENEYRA" at an MCLE seminar.71We do not see these documentary pieces of evidence as proof of specific acts constituting deceit or fraud on the respondents part. The documents by themselves are neutral and, at the most, show the breakdown of the attorney-client relationship between the respondent and the complainant. It is one thing to allege deceit and misconduct, and it is another to demonstrate by evidence the specific acts constituting these allegations.72We reiterate that in disbarment proceedings, the burden of proof is on the complainant; the Court exercises its disciplinary power only if the complainant establishes her case by clear, convincing, and satisfactory evidence.73Preponderance of evidence means that the evidence adduced by one side is, as a whole, superior to or has a greater weight than that of the other party. When the pieces of evidence of the parties are evenly balanced or when doubt exists on the preponderance of evidence, the equipoise rule dictates that the decision be against the party carrying the burden of proof.74In this case, we find that the complainants evidence and the records of the case do not show the respondents deliberate fraudulent and deceitful acts. In the absence of such proof, the complaint for fraud and deceit under Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility must perforce be dismissed.We note that the respondent has not squarely addressed the issue of his relationship with Reynold, whom the complainant alleges to be the respondents uncle because Reynold is married to the respondents maternal aunt.75However, this is of no moment as the respondent cannot be held liable for violating Section 3(c), Rule IV of A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC because the Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 4, 200176and the MOA dated April 19, 200077were notarized by the respondent prior to the effectivity of A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC on July 6, 2004. The notarial law in force in the years 2000 - 2001 was Chapter 11 of Act No. 2711 (the Revised Administrative Code of 1917) which did not contain the present prohibition against notarizing documents where the parties are related to the notary public within the 4th civil degree, by affinity or consanguinity. Thus, we must likewise dismiss the charge for violation of A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC.c. Liability under Canons 15, 16 and 18 We find the respondent liable under Canon 15, Rule 15.03 for representing conflicting interests without the written consent of all concerned, particularly the complainant; under Canon 16 for being remiss in his obligation to hold in trust his clients properties; and under Canon 18, Rule 18.03 for neglecting a legal matter entrusted to him.Canon 15, Rule 15.03 states:A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. [emphasis ours]The relationship between a lawyer and his client should ideally be imbued with the highest level of trust and confidence. Necessity and public interest require that this be so. Part of the lawyers duty to his client is to avoid representing conflicting interests. He is duty bound to decline professional employment, no matter how attractive the fee offered may be, if its acceptance involves a violation of the proscription against conflict of interest, or any of the rules of professional conduct. Thus, a lawyer may not accept a retainer from a defendant after he has given professional advice to the plaintiff concerning his claim; nor can he accept employment from another in a matter adversely affecting any interest of his former client. It is his duty to decline employment in any of these and similar circumstances in view of the rule prohibiting representation of conflicting interests.78The proscription against representation of conflicting interest applies "even if the lawyer would not be called upon to contend for one client that which the lawyer has to oppose for the other, or that there would be no occasion to use the confidential information acquired from one to the disadvantage of the other as the two actions are wholly unrelated."79The sole exception is provided in Canon 15, Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility if there is a written consent from all the parties after full disclosure.Based on the records, we find substantial evidence to hold the respondent liable for violating Canon 15, Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The facts of this case show that the respondent retained clients who had close dealings with each other. The respondent admits to acting as legal counsel for Cirilo Arellano, the spouses Ylaya and Reynold at one point during the proceedings in Civil Case No. 2902.80Subsequently, he represented only Reynold in the same proceedings,81asserting Reynolds ownership over the property against all other claims, including that of the spouses Ylaya.82We find no record of any written consent from any of the parties involved and we cannot give the respondent the benefit of the doubt in this regard. We find it clear from the facts of this case that the respondent retained Reynold as his client and actively opposed the interests of his former client, the complainant. He thus violated Canon 15, Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.We affirm the IBP Commissioners finding that the respondent violated Canon 16. The respondent admits to losing certificates of land titles that were entrusted to his care by Reynold.83According to the respondent, the complainant "maliciously retained" the TCTs over the properties sold by Laurentino to Reynold after she borrowed them from his office.84Reynold confirms that the TCTs were taken by the complainant from the respondents law office.85The respondent is reminded that his duty under Canon 16 is to "hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession." Allowing a party to take the original TCTs of properties owned by another an act that could result in damage should merit a finding of legal malpractice. While we note that it was his legal staff who allowed the complainant to borrow the TCTs and it does not appear that the respondent was aware or present when the complainant borrowed the TCTs,86we nevertheless hold the respondent liable, as the TCTs were entrusted to his care and custody; he failed to exercise due diligence in caring for his clients properties that were in his custody.We likewise find the respondent liable for violating Canon 18, Rule 18.03 for neglecting a legal matter entrusted to him. Despite the respondents admission that he represented the complainant and her late husband in Civil Case No. 2902 and that he purportedly filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene in their behalf, the records show that he never filed such a motion for the spouses Ylaya. The complainant herself states that she and her late husband were forced to file the Motion for Leave to Intervene on their own behalf. The records of the case, which include the Motion for Leave to Intervene filed by the spouses Ylaya, support this conclusion.87Canon 18, Rule 18.03 requires that a lawyer "shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection [therewith] shall render him liable." What amounts to carelessness or negligence in a lawyers discharge of his duty to his client is incapable of an exact formulation, but the Court has consistently held that the mere failure of a lawyer to perform the obligations due his client is per se a violation.88In Canoy v. Ortiz,89we held that a lawyers failure to file a position paper was per se a violation of Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Similar to Canoy, the respondent clearly failed in this case in his duty to his client when, without any explanation, he failed to file the Motion for Leave to Intervene on behalf of the spouses Ylaya. Under the circumstances, we find that there was want of diligence; without sufficient justification, this is sufficient to hold the respondent liable for violating Canon 18, Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.d. The Complainants Ex Parte Motion to Withdraw the Verified Complaint and to Dismiss the Case and her AffidavitWe are aware of the complainants Ex Parte Motion to Withdraw the Verified Complaint and To Dismiss the Case dated November 14, 200690and her Affidavit91affirming and confirming the existence, genuineness and due execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale notarized on March 6, 2000.92The complainant explains that the parties have entered into a compromise agreement in Civil Case No. 2902, and that this disbarment complaint was filed because of a "misunderstanding, miscommunication and improper appreciation of facts";93she erroneously accused the respondent of ill motives and bad intentions, but after being enlightened, she is convinced that he has no personal or pecuniary interests over the properties in Civil Case No. 2902; that such misunderstanding was due to her unfamiliarity with the transactions of her late husband during his lifetime.94The complainant now pleads for the respondents forgiveness, stating that he has been her and her late husbands lawyer for over a decade and affirms her trust and confidence in him.95We take note that under their Compromise Agreement dated November 14, 2006 for the expropriation case,96the complainant and Reynold equally share the just compensation, which have since increased toP10,000,000.00.While the submitted Ex Parte Motion to Withdraw the Verified Complaint and to Dismiss the Case and the Affidavit appear to exonerate the respondent, complete exoneration is not the necessary legal effect as the submitted motion and affidavit are immaterial for purposes of the present proceedings. Section 5, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court states that, "No investigation shall be interrupted or terminated by reason of the desistance, settlement, compromise, restitution, withdrawal of charges, or failure of the complainant to prosecute the same."In Angalan v. Delante,97despite the Affidavit of Desistance, we disbarred the respondent therein for taking advantage of his clients and for transferring the title of their property to his name. In Bautista v. Bernabe,98we revoked the lawyers notarial commission, disqualified him from reappointment as a notary public for two years, and suspended him from the practice of law for one year for notarizing a document without requiring the affiant to personally appear before him. In this cited case, we said:Complainants desistance or withdrawal of the complaint does not exonerate respondent or put an end to the administrative proceedings. A case of suspension or disbarment may proceed regardless of interest or lack of interest of the complainant. What matters is whether, on the basis of the facts borne out by the record, the charge of deceit and grossly immoral conduct has been proven. This rule is premised on the nature of disciplinary proceedings. A proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not a civil action where the complainant is a plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is a defendant. Disciplinary proceedings involve no private interest and afford no redress for private grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted solely for the public welfare. They are undertaken for the purpose of preserving courts of justice from the official ministration of persons unfit to practice in them. The attorney is called to answer to the court for his conduct as an officer of the court. The complainant or the person who called the attention of the court to the attorneys alleged misconduct is in no sense a party, and has generally no interest in the outcome except as all good citizens may have in the proper administration of justice.99In sum, in administrative proceedings against lawyers, the complainants desistance or withdrawal does not terminate the proceedings. This is particularly true in the present case where pecuniary consideration has been given to the complainant as a consideration for her desistance. We note in this regard that she would receiveP5,000,000.00, or half of the just compensation under the Compromise Agreement,100and thus agreed to withdraw all charges against the respondent.101From this perspective, we consider the complainants desistance to be suspect; it is not grounded on the fact that the respondent did not commit any actual misconduct; rather, because of the consideration, the complainant is now amenable to the position of the respondent and/or Reynold.e. Procedural aspectWe remind all parties that resolutions from the IBP Board of Governors are merely recommendatory and do not attain finality without a final action from this Court. Section 12, Rule 139-B is clear on this point that:Section 12. Review and decision by the Board of Governors. x x x x(b) If the Board, by the vote of a majority of its total membership, determines that the respondent should be suspended from the practice of law or disbarred, it shall issue a resolution setting forth its findings and recommendations which, together with the whole record of the case, shall forthwith be transmitted to the Supreme Court for final action.1wphi1The Supreme Court exercises exclusive jurisdiction to regulate the practice of law.102It exercises such disciplinary functions through the IBP, but it does not relinquish its duty to form its own judgment. Disbarment proceedings are exercised under the sole jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, and the IBPs recommendations imposing the penalty of suspension from the practice of law or disbarment are always subject to this Courts review and approval.The PenaltyIn Solidon v. Macalalad,103we imposed the penalty of suspension of six ( 6) months from the practice of law on the respondent therein for his violation of Canon 18, Rule 18.03 and Canon 16, Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. In Josefina M. Anion v. Atty. Clemencio Sabitsana, Jr.,104we suspended the respondent therein from the practice of law for one (1) year, for violating Canon 15, Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Under the circumstances, we find a one (1) year suspension to be a sufficient and appropriate sanction against the respondent.WHEREFORE, premises considered, we set aside Resolution No. XVIII-.2007-302 dated December 14, 2007 and Resolution No. XIX-2010-545 dated October 8, 2010 of the IBP Board of Governors, and find respondent Atty. Glenn Carlos Gacott GUILTY of violating Rule 15.03 of Canon 15, Canon 16, and Rule 18.03 of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. As a penalty, he is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1) year, with a WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely.SO ORDERED.

A.C. No. 9514 April 10, 2013BERNARD N. JANDOQUILE,Complainant,vs.ATTY. QUIRINO P. REVILLA, JR.,Respondent.R E S O L U T I O NVILLARAMA, JR.,J.:Before us is a complaint1for disbarment filed by complainant Bernard N. Jandoquile against respondent Atty. Quirino P. Revilla, Jr.The Facts of the case are not disputed.Atty. Revilla, Jr. notarized a complaint-affidavit2signed by Heneraline L. Brosas, Herizalyn Brosas Pedrosa and Elmer L. Alvarado. Heneraline Brosas is a sister of Heizel Wynda Brosas Revilla, Atty. Revilla, Jr.'s wife. Jandoquile complains that Atty. Revilla, Jr. is disqualified to perform the notarial act3per Section 3( c), Rule IV of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice which reads as follows:SEC. 3. Disqualifications. A notary public is disqualified from performing a notarial act if he:x x x x(c) is a spouse, common-law partner, ancestor, descendant, or relative by affinity or consanguinity of the principal4within the fourth civil degree.Jandoquile also complains that Atty. Revilla, Jr. did not require the three affiants in the complaint-affidavit to show their valid identification cards.In his comment5to the disbarment complaint, Atty. Revilla, Jr. did not deny but admitted Jandoquiles material allegations. The issue, according to Atty. Revilla, Jr., is whether the single act of notarizing the complaint-affidavit of relatives within the fourth civil degree of affinity and, at the same time, not requiring them to present valid identification cards is a ground for disbarment. Atty. Revilla, Jr. submits that his act is not a ground for disbarment. He also says that he acts as counsel of the three affiants; thus, he should be considered more as counsel than as a notary public when he notarized their complaint-affidavit. He did not require the affiants to present valid identification cards since he knows them personally. Heneraline Brosas and Herizalyn Brosas Pedrosa are sisters-in-law while Elmer Alvarado is the live-in houseboy of the Brosas family.Since the facts are not contested, the Court deems it more prudent to resolve the case instead of referring it to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation.Indeed, Atty. Revilla, Jr. violated the disqualification rule under Section 3(c), Rule IV of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice. We agree with him, however, that his violation is not a sufficient ground for disbarment.Atty. Revilla, Jr.s violation of the aforesaid disqualification rule is beyond dispute. Atty. Revilla, Jr. readily admitted that he notarized the complaint-affidavit signed by his relatives within the fourth civil degree of affinity. Section 3(c), Rule IV of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice clearly disqualifies him from notarizing the complaint-affidavit, from performing the notarial act, since two of the affiants or principals are his relatives within the fourth civil degree of affinity. Given the clear provision of the disqualification rule, it behooved upon Atty. Revilla, Jr. to act with prudence and refuse notarizing the document. We cannot agree with his proposition that we consider him to have acted more as counsel of the affiants, not as notary public, when he notarized the complaint-affidavit. The notarial certificate6at the bottom of the complaint-affidavit shows his signature as a notary public, with a notarial commission valid until December 31, 2012.He cannot therefore claim that he signed it as counsel of the three affiants.On the second charge, we agree with Atty. Revilla, Jr. that he cannot be held liable. If the notary public knows the affiants personally, he need not require them to show their valid identification cards. This rule is supported by the definition of a "jurat" under Section 6, Rule II of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice. A "jurat" refers to an act in which an individual on a single occasion: (a) appears in person before the notary public and presents an instrument or document; (b) is personally known to the notary public or identified by the notary public through competent evidence of identity; (c) signs the instrument or document in the presence of the notary; and (d) takes an oath or affirmation before the notary public as to such instrument or document. In this case, Heneraline Brosas is a sister of Atty. Revilla, Jr.s wife; Herizalyn Brosas Pedrosa is his wifes sister-in-law; and Elmer Alvarado is the live-in houseboy of the Brosas family. Atty. Revilla, Jr. knows the three affiants personally. Thus, he was justified in no longer requiring them to show valid identification cards. But Atty. Revilla, Jr. is not without fault for failing to indicate such fact in the "jurat" of the complaint-affidavit. No statement was included therein that he knows the three affiants personally.7Let it be impressed that Atty. Revilla, Jr. was clearly disqualified to notarize the complaint-affidavit of his relatives within the fourth civil degree of affinity. While he has a valid defense as to the second charge, it does not exempt him from liability for violating the disqualification rule.As we said, Atty. Revilla, Jr.s violation of the disqualification rule under Section 3(c), Rule IV of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice is not a sufficient ground to disbar him. To our mind, Atty. Revilla, Jr. did not commit any deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct or gross immoral conduct, or any other serious ground for disbarment under Section 27,8Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. We recall the case of Maria v. Cortez9where we reprimanded Cortez and disqualified him from being commissioned as notary public for six months. We were convinced that said punishment, which is less severe than disbarment, would already suffice as sanction for Cortezs violation. In Cortez, we noted the prohibition in Section 2(b), Rule IV of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice that a person shall not perform a notarial act if the person involved as signatory to the instrument or document (1) is not in the notarys presence personally at the time of the notarization and (2) is not personally known to the notary public or otherwise identified by the notary public through a competent evidence of identity. Cortez had notarized a special power of attorney without having the alleged signatories appear before him. In imposing the less severe punishment, we were mindful that removal from the Bar should not really be decreed when any punishment less severe such as reprimand, temporary suspension or fine would accomplish the end desired.1wphi1Considering the attendant circumstances and the single violation committed by Atty. Revilla, Jr., we are in agreement that a punishment less severe than disbarment would suffice.WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Quirino P. Revilla, Jr., is REPRIMANDED and DISQUALIFIED from being commissioned as a notary public, or from performing any notarial act if he is presently commissioned as a notary public, for a period of three (3) months. Atty. Revilla, Jr. is further DIRECTED to INFORM the Court, through an affidavit, once the period of his disqualification has lapsed. SO ORDERED.

A.C. No. 5377 June 30, 2014VICTOR C. LINGAN,Complainant,vs.ATTYS. ROMEO CALUBAQUIB and JIMMY P. BALIGA,Respondents.R E S O L U T I O NLEONEN,J.:This court has the exclusive jurisdiction to regulate the practice of law. When this court orders a lawyer suspended from the practice of law, the lawyer must desist from performing all functions requiring the application of legal knowledge within the period of suspension. This includes desisting from holding a position in government requiring the authority to practice law.For our resolution is respondent Atty. Jimmy P. Baliga's motion to lift one-year suspension from the practice of law.1In the resolution2dated June 15, 2006, this court found Attys. Romeo I. Calubaquib and Jimmy P. Baliga guilty of violating Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility3and of the Lawyer's Oath.4Respondents allowed their secretaries to notarize documents in their stead, in violation of Sections 2455and 2466of the Notarial Law. This court suspended respondents from the practice of law for one year, revoked their notarial commissions, and disqualified them from reappointment as notaries public for two years.Complainant Victor C. Lingan filed his motion for reconsideration,7praying that respondents be disbarred, not merely suspended from the practice of law. In the resolution8dated September 6, 2006, this court denied complainant Lingan's motion for reconsideration for lack of merit.On March 22, 2007, Atty. Baliga, also the Regional Director of the Commission on Human Rights Regional Office for Region II, filed the undated ex parte clarificatory pleading with leave of court.9In his ex parte clarificatory pleading, Atty. Baliga alleged that on July 14, 2006, complainant Lingan wrote the Commission on Human Rights. Lingan requested the Commission to investigate Atty. Baliga following the latter's suspension from the practice of law.After this court had suspended Atty. Baliga from the practice of law, the Commission on Human Rights En Banc issued the resolution10dated January 16, 2007, suspending him from his position as Director/Attorney VI of the. Commission on Human Rights Regional Office for Region II. According to the Commission on Human Rights En Banc, Atty. Baliga's suspension from the practice of law "prevent[ed] [him] from assuming his post [as Regional Director] for want of eligibility in the meantime that his authority to practice law is suspended."11Atty. Baliga argued that he cannot be suspended for acts not connected with his functions as Commission on Human Rights Regional Director. According to Atty. Baliga, his suspension from the practice of law did not include his suspension from public office. He prayed for clarification of this court's resolution dated June 15, 2006 "to prevent further injury and prejudice to [his] rights."12This court noted without action Atty. Baliga's ex parte clarificatory pleading as this court does not render advisory opinions.13On May 8, 2009, this court received a letter from complainant Lingan. In his letter14dated May 4, 2009, Lingan alleged that Atty. Baliga continued practicing law and discharging his functions as Commission on Human Rights Regional Director, in violation of this court's order of suspension.Complainant Lingan allegedly received a copy of the Commission on Human Rights En Banc 's resolution suspending Atty. Baliga as Regional Director. On Atty. Baliga's motion, the ommission reconsidered Atty. Baliga's suspension and instead admonished him for "[violating] the conditions of his commission as a notary public."15According to complainant Lingan, he was not served a copy of Atty. Baliga's motion for reconsideration.16Complainant Lingan claimed that the discharge of the functions of a Commission on Human Rights Regional Director necessarily required the practice of law. A Commission on Human Rights Regional Director must be a member of the bar and is designated as Attorney VI. Since this court suspended Atty. Baliga from the practice of law, Atty. Baliga was in effect "a non-lawyer . . . and [was] disqualified to hold the position of [Regional Director] [during the effectivity of the order of suspension]."17The Commission on Human Rights, according to complainant Lingan, should have ordered Atty. Baliga to desist from performing his functions as Regional Director. Complainant Lingan prayed that this court give "favorable attention and action on the matter."18This court endorsed complainant Lingan's letter to the Office of the Bar Confidant for report and recommendation.19In its report and recommendation20dated June 29, 2009, the Office of the Bar Confidant found that the period of suspension of Attys. Calubaquib and Baliga had already lapsed. It recommended that respondents be required to file their respective motions to lift order of suspension with certifications from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Executive Judge of the court where they might appear as counsel and state that they desisted from practicing law during the period of suspension.On the claim that the Commission on Human Rights allowed Atty. Baliga to perform his functions as Regional Director during the period of suspension, the Office of the Bar Confidant said that the Commission "deliberate[ly] disregard[ed]"21this court's order of suspension. According to the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Commission on Human Rights had no power to "[alter, modify, or set aside any of this court's resolutions] which [have] become final and executory. "22Thus, with respect to Atty. Baliga, the Office of the Bar Confidant recommended that this court require him to submit a certification from the Commission on Human Rights stating that he desisted from performing his functions as Regional Director while he was suspended from the practice of law.23The Office of the Bar Confidant further recommended that Atty. Baliga and the Commission .on Human Rights be required to comment on complainant Lingan's allegation that Atty. Baliga continued to perform his functions as Regional Director while he was suspended from the practice of law.On July 17, 2009, Atty. Baliga filed a manifestation,24arguing that his suspension from the practice of law did not include his suspension from public office. Atty. Baliga said, "[t]o stretch the coverage of [his suspension from the practice of law] to [his] public office would be tantamount to [violating] his constitutional rights [sic] to due process and to the statutory principle in law that what is not included is deemed excluded."25In the resolution26dated September 23, 2009, this court required respondents to file their respective motions to lift order of suspension considering the lapse of the period of suspension. This court further ordered Atty. Baliga and the Commission on Human Rights to comment on complainant Lingari's allegation that Atty. Baliga continued performing his functions as Regional Director while he was suspended from the practice of law. The resolution dated September 23, 2009 provides:Considering that the period of suspension from the practice of law and disqualification from being commissioned as notary public imposed on respondents have [sic] already elapsed, this Court resolves:(1) to require both respondents, within ten (10) days from notice, to FILE their respective motions to lift relative to their suspension and disqualification from being commissioned as notary public and SUBMIT certifications from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and Executive Judge of the Court where they may appear as counsel, stating that respondents have actually ceased and desisted from the practice of law during the entire period of their suspension and disqualification, unless already complied with in the meantime;(2) to require Atty. Jimmy P. Baliga to SUBMIT a certification from the Commission on Human Rights [CHR] stating that he has been suspended from office and has stopped from the performance of his functions for the period stated in the order of suspension and disqualification, within ten (10) days from notice hereof;(3) to require respondent Atty. Baliga and the CHR to COMMENT on the allegations of complainant against them, both within ten (10) days from receipt of notice hereof; ...27(Emphasis in the original)In compliance with this court's order, Attys. Calubaquib and Baliga filed their respective motions to lift order of suspension.28Atty. Baliga also filed his comment on complainant Lingan's allegation that he continued performing his functions as Regional Director during his suspension from the practice of law.In his comment29dated November 13, 2009, Atty. Baliga alleged that as Regional Director, he "perform[ed], generally, managerial functions,"30which did not require the practice of law. These managerial functions allegedly included ."[supervising] ... the day to day operations of the regional office and its personnel";31"monitoring progress of investigations conducted by the [Commission on Human Rights] Investigation Unit";32"monitoring the implementation of all other services and assistance programs of the [Commission on Human Rights] by the different units at the regional level";33and "[supervising] . . . the budgetary requirement preparation and disbursement of funds and expenditure of the [Regional Office]."34The Commission allegedly has its own "legal services unit which takes care of the legal services matters of the [Commission]."35Stating that his functions as Regional Director did not require the practice of law, Atty. Baliga claimed thaf he "faithful[ly] [complied] with [this court's resolution suspending him from the practice of law]."36The Commission on Human Rights filed its comment37dated November 27, 2009. It argued that "the penalty imposed upon Atty. Baliga as a member of the bar is separate and distinct from any penalty that may be imposed upon him as a public official for the same acts."38According to the Commission, Atty. Baliga's suspension from the practice of law is a "bar matter"39while the imposition of penalty upon a Commission on Human Rights official "is an entirely different thing, falling as it does within the exclusive authority of the [Commission as] disciplining body."40Nevertheless, the Commission manifested that it would defer to this court's resolution of the issue and would "abide by whatever ruling or decision [this court] arrives at on [the] matter. "41In reply42to Atty. Baliga's comment, complainant Lingan argued that Atty. Baliga again disobeyed this. court. Atty. Baliga failed to submit a certification from the Commission on Human Rights stating that he was suspended from office and desisted from performing his functions as Regional Director.As to Atty. Baliga's claim that he did not practice law while he held his position as Regional Director and only performed generally managerial functions, complainant Lingan countered that Atty. Baliga admitted to defying the order of suspension. Atty. Baliga admitted to performing the functions of a "lawyer-manager,"43which under the landmark case of Cayetano v. Monsod44constituted practice of law. Complainant Lingan reiterated that the position of Regional Director/ Attorney VI requires the officer "to be a lawyer [in] good standing."45Moreover, as admitted by Atty. Baliga, he had supervision and control over Attorneys III, IV, and V. Being a "lawyer-manager," Atty. Baliga practiced law while he held his position as Regional Director.With respect to Atty. Baliga's claim that he was in good faith in reassuming his position as Regional Director, complainant Lingan countered that if Atty. Baliga were really in good faith, he should have followed the initial resolution of the Commission on Human Rights suspending him from office. Atty. Baliga did not even furnish this court a copy of his motion for reconsideration of the Commission on Human Right's resolution suspending him from office. By "playing ignorant on what is 'practice of law', twisting facts and philosophizing,"46complainant Lingan argued that Atty. Baliga "[no longer has that] moral vitality imperative to the title of an attorney."47Compfainant Lingan prayed that Atty. Baliga be disbarred.On February 17, 2010, this court lifted the order of suspension of Atty. Calubaquib.48He was allowed to resume his practice of law and perform notarial acts subject to compliance with the requirements for issuance of a notarial commission.On the other hand, this court referred to the Office of the Bar Confidant for evaluation, report, and recommendation Atty. Baliga's motion to lift one-year suspension and the respective comments of Atty. Baliga and the Commission on Human Rights.49In its report and recommendation50dated October 18, 2010, the Office of the Ba


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