Search warrants. Basis of probable cause. Prudente vs. dayrit. 180 SCRA 69

By: Randel Bejasa



G.R. No. 82870                       December 14, 1989

  1. NEMESIO E. PRUDENTE,petitioner,





  • P/Major Alladin Dimagmaliw, filed with the (RTC) an application for the issuance of a search warrant. In his application for search warrant, P/Major Alladin Dimagmaliw alleged, among others, as follows:

1) That he has been informed and has good and sufficient reasons to believe that Nemesio Prudente has in his control or possession firearms, explosives handgrenades and ammunition which are illegally possessed or intended to be used as the means of committing an offense which the said Nemesio Prudente is keeping and concealing at the following premises of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines;

2) That the undersigned has verified the report and found it to be a fact, and therefore, believes that a Search Warrant should be issued



  • Respondent Judge issued Search Warrant which was enforced by some 200 WPD operatives.


  • Petitioner moved to quash the search warrant. He claimed that

(1) the complainant’s lone witness, Lt. Florenio C. Angeles, had no personal knowledge of the facts which formed the basis for the issuance of the search warrant;

(2) the examination of the said witness was not in the form of searching questions and answers;

(3) the search warrant was a general warrant, for the reason that it did not particularly describe the place to be searched and that it failed to charge one specific offense; and

(4) the search warrant was issued in violation of Circular No. 19 of the Supreme Court in that the complainant failed to allege under oath that the issuance of the search warrant on a Saturday was urgent.


  • Respondent Judge issued an order, denying the petitioner’s motion and supplemental motion to quash. Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration 10 was likewise denied







  • Whether or not there was probable cause to satisfy the issuance of a search warrant.







For a valid search warrant to issue, there must be PROBABLE CAUSE, which is to be determined personally by the judge, after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. The probable cause must be in connection with one specific offense and the judge must, before issuing the warrant, personally examine in the form of searching questions and answers, in writing and under oath, the complainant and any witness he may produce, on facts personally known to them and attach to the record their sworn statements together with any affidavits submitted.


“Probable cause” for a valid search warrant, has been defined “as such facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed, and that objects sought in connection with the offense are in the place sought to be searched.”  This probable cause must be shown to be within the personal knowledge of the complainant or the witnesses he may produce and not based on mere hearsay.


In his application for search warrant, P/Major Alladin Dimagmaliw stated that “he has been informed” that Nemesio Prudente “has in his control and possession” the firearms and explosives described therein, and that he “has verified the report and found it to be a fact.” On the other hand, in his supporting deposition, P/Lt. Florenio C. Angeles declared that, as a result of their continuous surveillance for several days, they “gathered informations from verified sources” that the holders of the said fire arms and explosives are not licensed to possess them. In other words, the applicant and his witness had no personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances which became the basis for issuing the questioned search warrant, but acquired knowledge thereof only through information from other sources or persons.


Moreover, a perusal of the deposition of P/Lt. Florenio Angeles shows that it was too brief and short. Respondent Judge did not examine him “in the form of searching questions and answers.” On the contrary, the questions asked were leading as they called for a simple “yes” or “no” answer.  Asking of leading questions to the deponent in an application for search warrant, and conducting of examination in a general manner, would not satisfy the requirements for issuance of a valid search warrant.”





The rule is, that a description of a place to be searched is sufficient if the officer with the warrant can, with reasonable effort, ascertain and Identify the place intended .  In the case at bar, the application for search warrant and the search warrant itself described the place to be searched as the premises of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. The designation of the places to be searched sufficiently complied with the constitutional injunction that a search warrant must particularly describe the place to be searched, even if there were several rooms at the ground floor and second floor of the PUP.


Search warrants. Justification. People vs. canton. 394 SCRA 478

By: Randel Bejasa



G.R. No. 148825                    December 27, 2002


SUSAN CANTON, appellant.




  • February 12, 1998 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Canton was a departing passenger bound to go to Saigon, Vietnam.
  • She passed through a metal detector which emitted a beeping sound.
  • Cabunoc, who was a civilian employee of the NATCH and the frisker duty called her attention. They checked Canton.
  • Cabunoc felt something bulging in several parts of Canton. This was reported to her supervisor.
  • Canton was requested to go the comfort room for a physical examination wherein she was asked to take her clothes off.
  • The packages that she carried was examined and turned out to be NINE HUNDRED NINETY EIGHT POINT TWO EIGHT HUNDRED ZERO NINE (998.2809) GRAMS of methamphetamine hydrochloride or SHABU, a regulated drug, without the corresponding prescription or license.
  • She was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating the Article 3, Section 16 of the RA 6425 or the Dangerous Drugs Act.
  • Canton filed for Motion for reconsideration but this was denied.












  1. WON the search conducted on Canton was incidental to lawful arrest
  2. WON the scope of search pursuant to airport security is not confined only to search warrant for weapons under the Terry Search Doctrine.
  3. WON the ruling in People v. Johnson is applicable to this case
  4. WON the appellant having been caught in flagrante delicto, was lawfully arrested.
  5. WON the constitutional right to counsel afforded an accused under the custodial investigation was not violated.
  6. WON the admission of the medical report was erroneous.




  1. No. Susan’s arrest did not precede the search. She was arrested after the shabu was discovered by the authorities.

As pointed out by the appellant, prior to the strip search in the ladies’ room, the airport security personnel had no knowledge yet of what were hidden on SUSAN’s body; hence, they did not know yet whether a crime was being committed.  It was only after the strip search upon the discovery by the police officers of the white crystalline substances inside the packages, which they believed to be shabu, that SUSAN was arrested.  The search cannot, therefore, be said to have been done incidental to a lawful arrest.  In a search incidental to a lawful arrest, the law requires that there be first a lawful arrest before a search can be made; the process cannot be reversed.

Such restraint during the time she was being frisked / search is not tantamount to an arrest or taking of a person into custody.


  1. No.

In the present case, the search was made pursuant to routine airport security procedure, which is allowed under Section 9 of Republic Act No. 6235 reading as follows:

SEC. 9. Every ticket issued to a passenger by the airline or air carrier concerned shall contain among others the following condition printed thereon: “Holder hereof and his hand-carried luggage(s) are subject to search for , and seizure of, prohibited materials or substances.  Holder refusing to be searched shall not be allowed to board the aircraft,” which shall constitute a part of the contract between the passenger and the air carrier.

This constitutes another exception to the proscription against warrantless searches and seizures.  As admitted by SUSAN and shown in Annex “D” of her Brief, the afore-quoted provision is stated in the “Notice to All Passengers” located at the final security checkpoint at the departure lounge.  From the said provision, it is clear that the search, unlike in the Terry search, is not limited to weapons.  Passengers are also subject to search for prohibited materials or substances.


  1. Yes.

Persons may lose the protection of the search and seizure clause by exposure of their persons or property to the public in a manner reflecting a lack of subjective expectation of privacy, which expectation society is prepared to recognize as reasonable.  Such recognition is implicit in airport security procedures.

The maxim – stare decisis et non quieta movere – invokes adherence to precedents and mandates not to unsettle things which are established.

Materials acquired legitimately in airport security checks are admissible as evidence.


  1. Yes.

Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court, as amended, provides:

SEC. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. — A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

  1. When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;

In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) above, the person arrested without a warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the nearest police station or jail and shall be proceeded against in accordance with section 7 of Rule 112.


The present case falls under paragraph (a) of the afore-quoted Section.  The search conducted on SUSAN resulted in the discovery and recovery of three packages containing white crystalline substances, which upon examination yielded positive results for methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.  As discussed earlier, such warrantless search and seizure were legal.  Armed with the knowledge that SUSAN was committing a crime, the airport security personnel and police authorities were duty-bound to arrest her.  As held in People v. Johnson, her subsequent arrest without a warrant was justified, since it was effected upon the discovery and recovery of shabu in her person flagrante delicto.







  1. No.

Custodial investigation refers to the “questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way.”[32] This presupposes that he is suspected of having committed a crime and that the investigator is trying to elicit information or a confession from him.[33] And the right to counsel attaches upon the start of such investigation.[34] The objective is to prohibit “incommunicado” interrogation of individuals in a police-dominated atmosphere, resulting in self-incriminating statements without full warnings of constitutional rights.[35]

In this case, as testified to by the lone witness for the defense, SPO2 Jerome Cause, no custodial investigation was conducted after SUSAN’s arrest.  She affixed her signature to the receipt of the articles seized from her, but before she did so, she was told that she had the option to sign or not to sign it.  In any event, her signature to the packages was not relied upon by the prosecution to prove its case. Moreover, no statement was taken from her during her detention and used in evidence against her.[36] Hence, her claim of violation of her right to counsel has no leg to stand on.


  1. No.

On subsequent examinations, she was seen behaved and cooperative.  She related that she was an illegitimate daughter, married, but divorced in 1995.  She verbalized, “I gamble like an addict.  I gambled since I was young and I lost control of myself when I played cards.  When I lost control, I want my money back.  I owe other people lots of money.  I lost all the cash of my husband.  This is the first time I carried shabu.  I need the money.”  She denied having any morbid thoughts and perceptual disturbances. (Emphasis supplied).

This argument is meritorious.  The admission of the questioned document was erroneous because it was not properly identified.  Nevertheless, even without the medical report, appellant’s conviction will stand, as the court’s finding of guilt was not based on that document.

Having found the warrantless search and seizure conducted in this case to be valid, we do not hesitate to rule that that the three packages of shabu recovered from SUSAN are admissible in evidence against her.  Supported by this evidence and the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, her conviction must inevitably be sustained sentencing her to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of One Million Pesos (P1,000,000).



A.C. No. 10952 | January 26, 2016

By: Karen P. Lustica




Engel Paul Aca filed an administrative complaint3 for disbarment against Atty. Salvado for violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.014 and Canon 7, Rule 7.035 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).


Complainant alleged, among others, that sometime in 2010, he met Atty. Salvado through Atty. Samuel Divina (Atty. Divina), his childhood friend; that Atty. Salvado introduced himself as a lawyer and a businessman engaged in several businesses including but not limited to the lending business; that on the same occasion, Atty. Salvado enticed the complainant to invest in his business with a guarantee that he would be given a high interest rate of 5% to 6% every month; and that he was assured of a profitable investment due by Atty. Salvado as the latter had various clients and investors.


As consideration for these investments, Atty. Salvado issued several post-dated checks in the total amount of P6,107,000.00, representing the principal amount plus interests. All checks were drawn from PSBank.


Upon presentment, however, complainant was shocked to learn that the aforementioned checks were dishonored as these were drawn from insufficient funds or a closed account.


Complainant made several verbal and written demands upon Atty. Salvado. As time went by, however, Atty. Salvado began to avoid complainant’s calls and text messages. This prompted complainant to refer the matter to his lawyer Atty. Divina, for appropriate legal action.


Atty. Divina personally served the Notice of Dishonor on Atty. Salvado, directing him to settle his total obligation in the amount of P747,000.00. Atty. Salvado refused to receive the said notice.


Complainant went to Atty. Salvado’s house to personally serve the demand letter. A certain “Mark” who opened the gate told the filing clerk that Atty. Salvado was no longer residing there and had been staying in the province already.


As they were about to leave, a red vehicle arrived bearing Atty. Salvado. Complainant quickly alighted from his vehicle and confronted him as he was about to enter the gate of the house. Obviously startled, Atty. Salvado told him that he had not forgotten his debt. During this conversation, Atty. Salvado assured complainant that he was working on “something” to pay his obligations. He still refused to personally receive or, at the least, read the demand letter.


Despite his promises, Atty. Salvado failed to settle his obligations.


Atty. Salvado denied that he told complainant that he had previously entered into various government contracts and that he was previously engaged in some other businesses prior to engaging in the lending and rediscounting business. Atty. Salvado asserted that he never enticed complainant to invest in his business, but it was Atty. Divina’s earnings of good interest that attracted him into making an investment.


The checks he issued were merely intended as security or evidence of investment.


Atty. Salvado also claimed that, in the past, there were instances when he would request complainant not to deposit a check knowing that it was not backed up by sufficient funds. This arrangement had worked until the dishonor of the checks, for which he readily offered his house and lot located in Marikina City as collateral.


Investigating Commissioner recommended that Atty. Salvado be meted a penalty of suspension from the practice of law for six (6) months.


IBP-BOG adopted and approved the recommendation with modification – increased the period of suspension from six (6) months to two (2) years.




WON ATTY. SALVADO should be suspended for he violated CPR and the Lawyer’s Oath








  1. The public is, indeed, inclined to rely on representations made by lawyers. As a man of law, a lawyer is necessarily a leader of the community, looked up to as a model citizen. A man, learned in the law like Atty. Salvado, is expected to make truthful representations when dealing with persons, clients or otherwise. For the Court, and as the IBP-BOG had observed, complainant’s being beguiled to part with his  money and believe Atty. .Salvado as a lawyer and businessman was typical human behavior worthy of belief. The Court finds it hard to believe that a person like the complainant would not find the profession of the person on whose businesses he would invest as important to consider. Simply put, Atty. Salvado’s stature as a member of the Bar had, in one way or another, influenced complainant’s decision to invest.
  2. The excuse of “gullibility and inadvertence” deserves scant consideration. Surely, Atty. Salvado is aware that promoting obedience to the Constitution and the laws of the land is the primary obligation of lawyers. When he issued the worthless checks, he discredited the legal profession and created the public impression that laws were mere tools of convenience that could be used, bended and abused to satisfy personal whims and desires. In Lao v. Medel, the Court wrote that the issuance of worthless checks constituted gross misconduct, and put the erring lawyer’s moral character in serious doubt, though it was not related to his professional duties as a member of the Bar. Covered by this dictum is Atty. Salvado’s business relationship with complainant. His issuance of the subject checks display his doubtful fitness as an officer of the court. Clearly, he violated Rule 1.01 and Rule 7.03 of the CPR.


  1. The Court cannot overlook Atty. Salvado’s deceiving attempts to evade payment of his obligations.




DISPOSITION: SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of two (2) years.



AC No. 11256 | March 7, 2017

By: Karen P. Lustica




Complainant Flordeliza A. Madria consulted the respondent to inquire about the process of annulling her marriage with her husband, Juan C. Madria. After giving the details of her marriage and other facts relevant to the annulment, the respondent told her that she had a strong case, and guaranteed that he could obtain for her the decree of annulment. He told her, too, that his legal services would cost P25,000.00.


The complainant returned to the respondent’s office. Respondent showed her the petition for annulment, and asked her to sign it. She paid to him an initial amount of P4,000.00. He acknowledged the payment through a handwritten receipt.


The complainant again went to the respondent’s office to deliver another partial payment, and to follow up on the case. The respondent advised her to just wait for the resolution of her complaint, and assured her that she did not need to appear in court. He explained that all the court notices and processes would be sent to his office, and that he would regularly apprise her of the developments. She returned to his office to complete her payment, and he also issued his receipt for the payment.


The complainant’s daughter Vanessa thereafter made several follow- ups on behalf of her mother. The respondent informed the complainant that her petition had been granted. Thus, Vanessa went to the respondent’s office and received a copy of the trial court’s decision signed by Judge Lyliha Abella Aquino.


According to the complainant, the respondent advised her to allow five months to lapse after the release of the decision before she could safely claim the status of “single.” After the lapse of such time, she declared in her Voter’s Registration Record (VRR) that she was single.


The complainant, again through Vanessa, received from the respondent a copy of the certificate of finality dated September 26, 2003 signed by one Jacinto C. Danao.


Believing that the documents were authentic, the complainant used the purported decision and certificate of finality in applying for the renewal of her passport. However, she became the object of an investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) because her former partner, Andrew Dowson Grainge, had filed a complaint charging that she had fabricated the decision for the annulment of her marriage.


Only then did she learn that the decision and the certificate of finality given by the respondent did not exist in the court records, as borne out by the letter signed by Atty. Aura Clarissa B. Tabag- Querubin, Clerk of Court of the RTC Branch IV, to wit – As per records of this Court, the above- entitled case was filed on April 25, 2003 but was dismissed as per Order of this Court dated April 6, 2004. The signature of the [sic] Judge Lyliha Abella Aquino as appearing in the alleged decision attached to your letter is a blatant forgery.


As a result, the complainant faced criminal charges for violation of the Philippine Passport Act. She claims that she had relied in good faith on the representations of the respondent; and that he had taken advantage of his position in convincing her to part with her money and to rely on the falsified court documents.


The respondent denies the allegations of the complainant. He averred that he had informed her that he would still be carefully reviewing the grounds to support her petition; that she had insisted that he should prepare the draft of her petition that she could show to her foreigner fiance; that she had also prevailed upon him to simulate the court decision to the effect that her marriage had been annulled, and to fabricate the certificate of finality; that she had assured him that such simulated documents would be kept strictly confidential; that he had informed her that the petition had been filed in April 2003, but she had paid no attention to such information; that she had not appeared in any of the scheduled hearings despite notice; and that he had not heard from her since then, and that she had not even returned to his office.


IBP concluded that the respondent had violated his Lawyer’s Oath; and recommended his suspension from the practice of law for a period of two years. The IBP Board of Governors modified it to disbarment.




WON ATTY. RIVERA should be disbarred








The respondent acknowledged authorship of the petition for annulment of marriage, and of the simulation of the decision and certificate of finality. His explanation of having done so only upon the complainant’s persistent prodding did not exculpate him from responsibility. For one, the explanation is unacceptable, if not altogether empty. Simulating or participating in the simulation of a court decision and a certificate of finality of the same decision is an outright criminal falsification or forgery. One need not be a lawyer to know so, but it was worse in the respondent’s case because he was a lawyer. Thus, his acts were legally intolerable. Specifically, his deliberate falsification of the court decision and the certificate of finality of the decision reflected a high degree of moral turpitude on his part, and made a mockery of the administration of justice in this country. He thereby became unworthy of continuing as a member of the Bar.


The respondent directly contravened the letter and spirit of Rules 1.01 and 1.02, Canon 1, and Rule 15.07, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, to wit:




Rule 1.01 – A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.


Rule 1.02 – A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system.


x x x x




Rule 15.07. – A lawyer shall impress upon his client compliance with the laws and the principles of fairness.


Surely, too, he could not have soon forgotten his express undertaking under his Lawyer’s Oath to “do no falsehood, nor consent to its commission,” Indeed; the ethics of the Legal Profession rightly enjoined every lawyer like him to act with the highest standards of truthfulness, fair play and nobility in the course of his practice of law.


Also, Canon 15 and Rule 18.04 of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility required the respondent be true to the complainant as his client. By choosing to ignore his fiduciary responsibility for the sake of getting her money, he committed a further violation of his Lawyer’s Oath by which he swore not to “delay any man’s cause for money or malice,” and to “conduct [him]self as a lawyer according to the best of [his] knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to [his] clients.” He compounded this violation by taking advantage of his legal knowledge to promote his own selfish motives, thereby disregarding his responsibility under Canon 17.


Under Section 27,23 Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a lawyer may be disbarred on any of the following grounds, namely: (1) deceit; (2) malpractice; (3) gross misconduct in office; (4) grossly immoral conduct; (5) conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude; (6) violation of the lawyers oath; (7) willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court; and (8) corruptly or willfully appearing as a lawyer for a party to a case without authority so to do.


Falsifying or simulating the court papers amounted to deceit, malpractice or misconduct in office, any of which was already a ground sufficient for disbarment under Section 27, Rule 38 of the Rules of Court.


We note that the respondent was previously sanctioned for unprofessional conduct. In Cruz- Villanueva v. Rivera he was suspended from the practice of law because he had notarized documents without a notarial commission. This circumstance shows his predisposition to beguile other persons into believing in the documents that he had falsified or simulated. It is time to put a stop to such proclivity. He should be quickly removed through disbarment.


It is true that the power to disbar is always exercised with great caution and only for the most imperative reasons or in cases of clear misconduct affecting the standing and moral character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and member of the bar. But we do not hesitate when the misconduct is gross, like in the respondent’s case.




A.C. No. 5582 | January 24, 2017

By: Karen P. Lustica



Arthur O. Monares is the plaintiff in a civil case filed against Ludolfo Muñoz (Ludolfo) before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Legazpi City. In his complaint, Monares alleged that Atty. Levi P. Muñoz represented his brother Ludolfo in the said case during regular government hours while employed as Provincial Legal Officer of Albay City.

Under the chairmanship of Atty. Oliver 0.Olaybal, ALECO’s old board of directors (BOD) engaged Muñoz as retained counsel sometime in June 1998. Olaybal averred that Muñoz did not inform ALECO’s old BOD that he was employed as Provincial Legal Officer at such time. Olaybal raised that after its administrator, the National Electrification Administration (NEA), deactivated the old BOD on the ground of mismanagement, Muñoz served as retained counsel of the NEA-appointed team which took over the management of ALECO. Moreover, Olaybal alleged that Muñoz illegally collected payments in the form of notarial and professional fees in excess of what was agreed upon in their retainer agreement.

Constante is the Executive Assistant for Legal Affairs of Sunwest Construction and Development Corporation (Sunwest). Constante claimed that Muñoz filed ten (10) cases against Sunwest on Ludolfo’s behalf before the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) while he was serving as Provincial Legal Officer.

All three (3) complaints prayed that Muñoz be disbarred for unlawfully engaging in private practice. In addition, Olaybal sought Muñoz’s disbarment for acts of disloyalty, particularly, for violating the rule against conflict of interest.

To support their position, the complainants raised that Muñoz had been previously disciplined by the Ombudsman and was convicted by the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) in two criminal cases for violation of Section 7(b)(2) in relation to Section 11 of Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).

Muñoz claimed that he had requested Governor Al Francis C. Bichara for authority to continue his private practice shortly after his appointment. This request was granted. Thereafter, Muñoz submitted the same request to Rafael C. Alunan III, then Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). Acting Secretary Alexander P. Aguirre granted Muñoz’s request, under the following conditions:

  1. That no government time, personnel, funds or supplies shall be utilized in connection (sic) and that no conflict of interest with your present position as Provincial Legal Officer shall arise thereby;chanrobleslaw
  2. That the time so devoted outside of office hours, the place(s) and under what circumstances you can engage in private employment shall be fixed by the Governor of Albay to the end that it will not impair in any way your efficiency; and

Pursuant to the DILG’s authorization, Governor Bichara imposed the following conditions upon Muñoz:

  1. [Y]ou cannot handle cases against the Province of Albay;chanrobleslaw
  2. [Y]ou will be on call and you will have no fix (sic) working hours provided that the efficiency of the Provincial Legal Office shall not be prejudiced;chanrobleslaw

IBP Report and on automatic review – Commissioner Aguila recommended that Muñoz be found guilty of gross misconduct and violation of Rules 1.01, 6.02, 15.01 and 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). The penalty of suspension from the practice of law for an aggregate period of four (4) years was recommended.

In his Appeal, Muñoz, insisted that when he served as Provincial Legal Officer from June 1995 to May 2002, he engaged in private practice pursuant to the three (3) written authorities issued by Governor Bichara, and the written authority of the DILG issued during his first term, which he claims had never been revoked. Muñoz also argued that no conflict of interest existed between ALECO’s old BOD and the NEA management team, since he was engaged as retained counsel of ALECO as an institution, not its management teams.


WON Atty. Levi P. Muñoz is GUILTY of gross misconduct and violation of CPR.




Muñoz violated the conditions of his
DILG authorization.

Notably, Muñoz did not deny Monares’ allegation that he made at least eighty-six (86) court appearances in connection with at least thirty (30) cases from April 11, 1996 to August 1, 2001. He merely alleged that his private practice did not prejudice the functions of his office.

Court appearances are necessarily made within regular government working hours, from 8:00 in the morning to 12:00 noon, and 1:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon. Additional time is likewise required to study each case, draft pleadings and prepare for trial. The sheer volume of cases handled by Muñoz clearly indicates that government time was necessarily utilized in pursuit of his private practice, in clear violation of the DILG authorization and Rule 6.02 of the CPR.

Muñoz should have requested for
authority to engage in private practice
from the Secretary of DILG for his
second and third terms.

Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Revised Civil Service Rules which provides, in part:

No officer or employee shall engage directly in any private business, vocation, or profession or be connected with any commercial, credit, agricultural, or industrial undertaking without a written permission from the head of Department.

Memorandum 17 was issued more than nine (9) years prior to Muñoz’s appointment as Provincial Legal Officer, hence, he cannot feign ignorance thereof. As a local public official, it was incumbent upon Muñoz to secure the proper authority from the Secretary of the DILG not only for his first term, but also his second and third. His failure to do so rendered him liable for unauthorized practice of his profession and violation of Rule 1.01 of the CPR.

Muñoz represented conflicting interests.

Muñoz cannot elude Olaybal’s allegations of disloyalty. In Mabini Colleges, Inc. v. Pajarillo, the Court explained the tests to determine the existence of conflict of interest, thus:

There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two or more opposing parties. The test is “whether or not in behalf of one client, it is the lawyer’s duty to fight for an issue or claim, but it is his duty to oppose it for the other client. In brief, if he argues for one client, this argument will be opposed by him when he argues for the other client.” This rule covers not only cases in which confidential communications have been confided, but also those in which no confidence has been bestowed or will be used. Also, there is conflict of interest if the acceptance of the new retainer will require the attorney to perform an act which will injuriously affect his first client in any matter in which he represents him and also whether he will be called upon in his new relation to use against his first client any knowledge acquired through their connection. Another test of the inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation will prevent an attorney from the full discharge of his duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing in the performance thereof.

Muñoz acted as counsel for ALECO under the management of the old BOD in the two civil cases.

Muñoz served as retained counsel of ALECO under the direction of the NEA management team. The conflict of interest between Olaybal’s board on one hand, and NEA and its management team on the other, is apparent. By representing conflicting interests without the permission of all parties involved, Muñoz violated Rules 15.01 and 15.03 of the CPR.

DISPOSITION: SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of three (3) years.


G.R. No. 179799


FACTS: The case arose from the filing of an Affidavit of Complaint for violation of B.P. 22 by Emma J. Datuin (Datuin), as Officer-in-Charge of the Accounts Receivables Department, and upon authority of Sansio Philippines, Inc. (Sansio), against Zenaida R. Gregorio (Gregorio) and one Vito Belarmino, as proprietors of Alvi Marketing, allegedly for delivering insufficiently funded bank checks as payment for the numerous appliances bought by Alvi Marketing from Sansio. As the address stated in the complaint was incorrect, Gregorio was unable to controvert the charges against her. Consequently, she was indicted for three (3) counts of violation of B.P. Blg. 22.


The MeTC issued a warrant for her arrest, and it was served upon her by the armed operatives of the Public Assistance and Reaction Against Crime (PARAC) of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on October 17, 1997, Friday, at around 9:30 a.m. in Quezon City while she was visiting her husband and their two (2) daughters at their city residence. Gregorio was brought to the PARAC-DILG Office where she was subjected to fingerprinting and mug shots, and was detained. She was released in the afternoon of the same day when her husband posted a bond for her temporary liberty.


On December 5, 1997, Gregorio filed before the MeTC a Motion for Deferment of Arraignment and Reinvestigation, alleging that she could not have issued the bounced checks, since she did not even have a checking account with the bank on which the checks were drawn, as certified by the branch manager of the Philippine National Bank, Sorsogon Branch. She also alleged that her signature was patently and radically different from the signatures appearing on the bounced checks.


The MeTC granted the Motion and a reinvestigation was conducted. In the course of the reinvestigation, Datuin submitted an Affidavit of Desistance stating, among others, that Gregorio was not one of the signatories of the bounced checks subject of prosecution.


On August 18, 2000, Gregorio filed a complaint for damages against Sansio and Datuin before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 12, Ligao, Albay.  Sansio and Datuin filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground that the complaint, being one for damages arising from malicious prosecution, failed to state a cause of action, as the ultimate facts constituting the elements thereof were not alleged in the complaint.


ISSUE: Whether the complaint, a civil suit filed by Gregorio, is based on quasi-delict or malicious prosecution.


HELD: A perusal of the allegations of Gregorio’s complaint for damages readily shows that she filed a civil suit against Sansio and Datuin for filing against her criminal charges for violation of B.P. Blg. 22; that respondents did not exercise diligent efforts to ascertain the true identity of the person who delivered to them insufficiently funded checks as payment for the various appliances purchased; and that respondents never gave her the opportunity to controvert the charges against her, because they stated an incorrect address in the criminal complaint. Gregorio claimed damages for the embarrassment and humiliation she suffered when she was suddenly arrested at her city residence in Quezon City while visiting her family. She was, at the time of her arrest, a respected Kagawad in Oas, Albay. Gregorio anchored her civil complaint on Articles 26, 2176, and 2180 of the Civil Code. Noticeably, despite alleging either fault or negligence on the part of Sansio and Datuin, Gregorio never imputed to them any bad faith in her complaint.


Basic is the legal principle that the nature of an action is determined by the material averments in the complaint and the character of the relief sought. Undeniably, Gregorio’s civil complaint, read in its entirety, is a complaint based on quasi-delict under Article 2176, in relation to Article 26 of the Civil Code, rather than on malicious prosecution.


In every tort case filed under Article 2176 of the Civil Code, the plaintiff has to prove by a preponderance of evidence: (1) the damages suffered by him; (2) the fault or negligence of the defendant or some other person to whose act he must respond; (3) the connection of cause and effect between the fault or negligence and the damages incurred; and (4) that there must be no preexisting contractual relation between the parties.


On the other hand, Article 26 of the Civil Code grants a cause of action for damages, prevention, and other relief in cases of breach, though not necessarily constituting a criminal offense, of the following rights: (1) right to personal dignity; (2) right to personal security; (3) right to family relations; (4) right to social intercourse; (5) right to privacy; and (6) right to peace of mind.


A scrutiny of Gregorio’s civil complaint reveals that the averments thereof, taken together, fulfill the elements of Article 2176, in relation to Article 26 of the Civil Code. It appears that Gregorio’s rights to personal dignity, personal security, privacy, and peace of mind were infringed by Sansio and Datuin when they failed to exercise the requisite diligence in determining the identity of the person they should rightfully accuse of tendering insufficiently funded checks. This fault was compounded when they failed to ascertain the correct address of petitioner, thus depriving her of the opportunity to controvert the charges, because she was not given proper notice. Because she was not able to refute the charges against her, petitioner was falsely indicted for three (3) counts of violation of B.P. Blg. 22. Although she was never found at No. 76 Peñaranda St., Legaspi City, the office address of Alvi Marketing as stated in the criminal complaint, Gregorio was conveniently arrested by armed operatives of the PARAC-DILG at her city residence at 78 K-2 St., Kamuning, Quezon City, while visiting her family. She suffered embarrassment and humiliation over her sudden arrest and detention and she had to spend time, effort, and money to clear her tarnished name and reputation, considering that she had held several honorable positions in different organizations and offices in the public service, particularly her being a Kagawad in Oas, Albay at the time of her arrest. There exists no contractual relation between Gregorio and Sansio. On the other hand, Gregorio is prosecuting Sansio, under Article 2180 of the Civil Code, for its vicarious liability, as employer, arising from the act or omission of its employee Datuin.


These allegations, assuming them to be true, sufficiently constituted a cause of action against Sansio and Datuin. Thus, the RTC was correct when it denied respondents’ motion to dismiss.


G.R. No. L-46061 November 14, 1984


            St. Louis Realty caused to be published with the permission of Arcadio S. Arcadio (but without permission of Doctor Aramil) in the issue of the Sunday Times (1968 & 1969)  an advertisement with the heading “WHERE THE HEART IS”. Below that heading was the photograph of the residence of Doctor Aramil and implying that it belonged to Arcadio. Doctor Aramil a neuropsychiatrist and a member of the faculty of the U. E. Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Hospital, noticed the mistake and sent a letter of protest to petitioner. The letter was received by Ernesto Magtoto, an officer of St. Louis Realty in charge of advertising. He stopped publication of the advertisement. He contacted Doctor Aramil and offered his apologies. However, no rectification or apology was published.

Aramil’s counsel demanded from St. Louis Realty actual, moral and exemplary damages of P110,000. In its answer St. Louis Realty claimed that there was an honest mistake and that if Aramil so desired, rectification would be published in the Manila Times. It published in the issue of the Manila Times of March 18, 1969 a new advertisement with the Arcadio family and their real house. But it did not publish any apology to Doctor Aramil and an explanation of the error.

Thus,  Aramil filed his complaint for damages. Petitioner argues that the case is not covered by article 26 which provides that “every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons”. “Prying into the privacy of another’s residence” and “meddling with or disturbing the private life or family relations of another” and “similar acts“, “though they may not constitute a criminal offense, shall produce a cause of action for damages, prevention and other relief”.

ISSUE: Whether or not petitioner is liable for damages


The damages fixed by Judge Leuterio are sanctioned by Articles 2200, 2208 and 2219 of the Civil Code. Article 2219 allows moral damages for acts and actions mentioned in Article 26. As lengthily explained by Justice Gatmaitan, the acts and omissions of the firm fan under Article 26.

St. Louis Realty’s employee was grossly negligent in mixing up the Aramil and Arcadio residences in a widely circulated publication like the Sunday Times. To suit its purpose, it never made any written apology and explanation of the mix-up. It just contented itself with a cavalier “rectification “.

Persons, who know the residence of Doctor Aramil, were confused by the distorted, lingering impression that he was renting his residence from Arcadio or that Arcadio had leased it from him. Either way, his private life was mistakenly and unnecessarily exposed. He suffered diminution of income and mental anguish.

G.R. No. 190601      February 7, 2011


Facts: Petitioner spouses, Luigi M. Guanio and Anna Hernandez-Guanio, booked respondent Makati Shangre-La Hotel for their wedding reception.

A week before their wedding reception, the hotel scheduled a food tasting. Eventually, the parties agreed to a package where the final price was P1,150.00 per person.
According to the complainants, when the actual reception took place, ” the respondent’s representatives did not show up despite their assurance that they would; their guests complained of the delay in the service of the dinner; certain items listed in the published menu were unavailable; the hotel’s waiters were rude and unapologetic when confronted about the delay; and despite Alvarez’s promise that there would be no charge for the extension of the reception beyond 12:00 midnight, they were billed and paid P8,000 per hour for the three-hour extension of the event up to 4:00 A.M. the next day. They further claim that they brought wine and liquor in accordance with their open bar arrangement, but these were not served to the guests who were forced to pay for their drinks. They sent a letter-complaint to hotel and received an apologetic reply from the hotel’s Executive Assistant Manager in charge of Food and Beverage.
They nevertheless filed a complaint for breach of contract and damages before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City.
Answering, the hotel said that complainants requested a combination of king prawns and salmon, hence, the price was increased to P1,200.00 per person, but discounted at P1,150.00; that contrary to their claim, the hotel representatives were present during the event, albeit they were not permanently stationed thereat as there were three other hotel functions; that while there was a delay in the service of the meals, the same was occasioned by the sudden increase of guests to 470 from the guaranteed expected minimum number of guests of 350 to a maximum of 380, as stated in the Banquet Event Order (BEO);2 and the Banquet Service Director in fact relayed the delay in the service of the meals to complainant’s father.
The RTC, relying heavily on the letter of the hotel’s Executive Assistant ruled in favour of the complainants and awarded damages in their favour.
The Court of Appeals reversed the decision, noting that the proximate cause of the complainant’s injury was the unexpected increase in the number of their guests.



            WON Makati Shangri-La Hotel may be held liable for damages.




The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals decision, noting that in this case, the obligation was based on a contract, hence, the concept of proximate cause has no application.


In absolving the hotel from damages, the Supreme Court noted that: “The appellate court, and even the trial court, observed that petitioners were remiss in their obligation to inform respondent of the change in the expected number of guests. The observation is reflected in the records of the case. Petitioners’ failure to discharge such obligation thus excused, as the above-quoted paragraph 4.5 of the parties’ contract provide, respondent from liability for “any damage or inconvenience” occasioned thereby”


Nevertheless, on grounds of equity, the High Court awarded P50,000.00 in favour of the complainants and justified it by saying:


“The exculpatory clause notwithstanding, the Court notes that respondent could have managed the “situation” better, it being held in high esteem in the hotel and service industry. Given respondent’s vast experience, it is safe to presume that this is not its first encounter with booked events exceeding the guaranteed cover. It is not audacious to expect that certain measures have been placed in case this predicament crops up. That regardless of these measures, respondent still received complaints as in the present case, does not amuse.


Respondent admitted that three hotel functions coincided with petitioners’ reception. To the Court, the delay in service might have been avoided or minimized if respondent exercised prescience in scheduling events. No less than quality service should be delivered especially in events which possibility of repetition is close to nil. Petitioners are not expected to get married twice in their lifetimes.”


What applies in the present case is Article 1170 of the Civil Code which reads:


Art. 1170. Those who in the performance of their obligations are guilty of fraud, negligence or delay, and those who in any manner contravene the tenor thereof, are liable for damages.


RCPI v. Verchez, et al. enlightens: In culpa contractual x x x the mere proof of the existence of the contract and the failure of its compliance justify, prima facie, a corresponding right of relief. The law, recognizing the obligatory force of contracts, will not permit a party to be set free from liability for any kind of misperformance of the contractual undertaking or a contravention of the tenor thereof. A breach upon the contract confers upon the injured party a valid cause for recovering that which may have been lost or suffered.


The remedy serves to preserve the interests of the promissee that may include his “expectation interest ,” which is his interest in having the benefit of his bargain by being put in as good a position as he would have been in had the contract been performed, or his “reliance interest ,”which is his interest in being reimbursed for loss caused by reliance on the contract by being put in as good a position as he would have been in had the contract not been made; or his”restitution interest,” which is his interest in having restored to him any benefit that he has conferred on the other party. Indeed, agreements can accomplish little, either for their makers or for society, unless they are made the basis for action.


The effect of every infraction is to create a new duty, that is, to make RECOMPENSE to the one who has been injured by the failure of another to observe his contractual obligation unless he can show extenuating circumstances, like proof of his exercise of due diligence or of the attendance of fortuitous event to excuse him from his ensuing liability.


G.R. No. L-38088

August 30, 1974


FACTS: Quisaba was an internal auditor of SIMVP for 18 years. On January 1973, SIMVP VP Robert Hyde instructed him to purchase logs for the company’s plant, but Quisaba, he refused to do so, saying that such task is inconsistent with his position. The next day, Hyde informed Quisaba of his temporary relief as internal auditor so that he could carry out the instructions given. Hyde warned him that failure to comply would be considered a ground for his dismissal.


Quisaba responded with a plea for fairness and mercy as he would be without a job during an economic crisis and that he was demoted from a position of dignity to a servile and menial job.


Quisaba filed a complaint for moral damages, exemplary damages, termination pay and attorney’s fees against SIMVP and its VP Robert Hyde. Quisaba was NOT asking for backwages nor reinstatement. Quisaba alleged that due to SIMVP’s acts, he suffered mental anguish, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock and social humiliation.


SIMVP moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground of lack of jurisdiction of the CFI, asserting that the proper forum is the NLRC. Quisaba opposed this, and he informed the court that an NLRC representative said that NLRC has no jurisdiction over claims or suits for damages arising out of employee-employer relationship. Nonetheless, CFI granted the motion to dismiss on the ground that the complaint involves an employee-employer relation.


ISSUE: WON there was an oppressive dismissal?


RATIO: The “right” of the respondents to dismiss Quisaba should not be confused with the manner in which the right was exercised and the effects flowing therefrom. If the dismissal was done anti-socially or oppressively, as the complaint alleges, then the respondents violated article 1701 of the Civil Code which prohibits acts of oppression by either capital or labor against the other, and article 21, which makes a person liable for damages if he wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy, the sanction for which, by way of moral damages, is provided in article 2219, no. 10.

This case is concerned with a civil (not a labor) dispute, as it has to do with an alleged violation of Quisaba’s rights as a member of society, and it does not involve an existing employee-employer relation.

Civil law consists of that mass of precepts that determine or regulate the relations that exist between members of a society for the protection of private interests.

Although the acts complained of seemingly appear to constitute “matters involving employee-employer relations,” Quisaba’s complaint is grounded on the manner of his dismissal and the consequent effects of such dismissal, not on his dismissal per se, as he does not ask for reinstatement or backwages.

The “right” of SIMVP to dismiss Quisaba should not be confused with the manner in which the right was exercised and the effects flowing therefrom. If the dismissal was done anti-socially or oppressively, then SIMVP violated the following:

NCC 1701 – prohibits acts of oppression by either capital or labor against the other

NCC 21– makes a person liable for damages if he willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy.


DISPOSITION: The order of September 18, 1973 is set aside, and this case is hereby ordered remanded to the court a quo for further proceedings in accordance with law. Costs against the private respondents.


Posted: April 12, 2017 in case digests, civil law, torts

G.R. No. 107019


In a letter-complaint to Secretary of Justice Franklin Drilon, General Renato de Villa who was then Chief of Staff of the AFP, requested DOJ to order the investigation of several individuals named therein, including private respondent Adaza, for their alleged participation in the failed December 1989 coup d’etat. Assistant State Prosecutor Trampe, the Team Leader, finding sufficient basis to continue the inquiry, issued a subpoena to the individuals named in the letter-complaint, Adaza included, and assigned the case for preliminary investigation to a panel of investigators composed of prosecutors. They held that there is probable cause to hold respondents for trial for the crime of REBELLION WITH MURDER AND FRUSTRATED MURDER. Their Resolution became the basis for the filing of information.

Feeling aggrieved by the institution of proceedings against him, Adaza filed a complaint for damages before the RTC of Quezon City. In his complaint, Adaza charged petitioners with engaging in a deliberate, wilful and malicious experimentation by filing against him a charge of rebellion complexed with murder and frustrated murder when petitioners, according to Adaza, were fully aware of the non-existence of such crime in the statute books. Petitioners filed a Motion to Dismiss but it was denied.

Petitioners filed a petition for Rule 65 before the CA, alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of the respondent Judge in ruling that sufficient cause of action exists to warrant a full-blown hearing of the case filed by Adaza. CA dismissed the petition.

Adaza: His claim before the trial court was merely a suit for damages and for violation of RA 3019, and not a suit for malicious prosecution.

Hence this petition.


Whether the suit filed by Adaza was one for malicious prosecution.



The term malicious prosecution has been defined in various ways. In American jurisdiction, it is defined as:

One begun in malice without probable cause to believe the charges can be sustained. Instituted with intention of injuring defendant and without probable cause, and which terminates in favor of the person prosecuted. For this injury an action on the case lies, called the action of malicious prosecution.

In Philippine jurisdiction, it has been defined as:

An action for damages brought by one against whom a criminal prosecution, civil suit, or other legal proceeding has been instituted maliciously and without probable cause, after the termination of such prosecution, suit, or other proceeding in favor of the defendant therein. The gist of the action is the putting of legal process in force, regularly, for the mere purpose of vexation or injury

The statutory basis for a civil action for damages for malicious prosecution are found in the provisions of the New Civil Code on Human Relations and on damages particularly Articles 19, 20, 21, 26, 29, 32, 33, 35, 2217 and 2219 (8). To constitute malicious prosecution, however, there must be proof that the prosecution was prompted by a sinister design to vex and humiliate a person, and that it was initiated deliberately by the defendant knowing that his charges were false and groundless. Concededly, the mere act of submitting a case to the authorities for prosecution does not make one liable for malicious prosecution.  Thus, in order for a malicious prosecution suit to prosper, the plaintiff must prove three (3) elements: (1) the fact of the prosecution and the further fact that the defendant was himself the prosecutor and that the action finally terminated with an acquittal; (2) that in bringing the action, the prosecutor acted without probable cause; and (3) that the prosecutor was actuated or impelled by legal malice, that is by improper or sinister motive. All these requisites must concur.

There is nothing in the records which shows, and the complaint does not allege, that Criminal Case No. Q-90-11855, filed by the petitioners against respondent Adaza for Rebellion with Murder and Frustrated Murder, has been finally terminated and therein accused Adaza acquitted of the charge. Not even Adaza himself, thru counsel, makes any positive asseveration on this aspect that would establish his acquittal. Insofar as Criminal Case No. Q-90-11855 is concerned, what appears clear from the records only is that respondent has been discharged on a writ of habeas corpus and granted bail. This is not, however, considered the termination of the action contemplated under Philippine jurisdiction to warrant the institution of a malicious prosecution suit against those responsible for the filing of the information against him.

The complaint likewise does not make any allegation that the prosecution acted without probable cause in filing the criminal information dated April 18, 1990 for rebellion with murder and frustrated murder. Elementarily defined, probable cause is the existence of such facts and circumstances as would excite the belief, in a reasonable mind, acting on the facts within the knowledge of the prosecutor, that the person charged was guilty of the crime for which he was prosecuted. It is well-settled that one cannot be held liable for maliciously instituting a prosecution where one has acted with probable cause. Elsewise stated, a suit for malicious prosecution will lie only in cases where a legal prosecution has been carried on without probable cause. The reason for this rule is that it would be a very great discouragement to public justice, if prosecutors, who had tolerable ground of suspicion, were liable to be sued at law when their indictment miscarried.

In the case under consideration, the decision of the Special Team of Prosecutors to file the information for rebellion with murder and frustrated murder against respondent Adaza, among others, cannot be dismissed as the mere product of whim or caprice on the part of the prosecutors who conducted the preliminary investigation. Said decision was fully justified in an eighteen (18)-page Resolution dated April 17, 1990. While it is true that the petitioners were fully aware of the prevailing jurisprudence enunciated in People v. Hernandez,  which proscribes the complexing of murder and other common crimes with rebellion, petitioners were of the honest conviction that the Hernandez Case can be differentiated from the present case.