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If A and B, who are married couple, agreed to hire C to implant their egg and sperm cells and bear the child in C’s own womb, who is the deemed to be the mother of the child in the eyes of the law in the Philippines?

It is apparent that A, B and C have entered into a contract of surrogacy. Surrogacy is the process where another woman carries and delivers a child in behalf of another couple. It involves the transplantation of the couple’s egg and sperm cells, usually through artificial insemination to the surrogate mother. By nature, the surrogate mother becomes the replacement of the natural mother of the child. In this case, A and B are considered to be the putative parents of the child while C takes the role of the surrogate mother. In the absence of surrogacy law in the Philippines, the legal issue now redounds to the question of who then becomes the mother of the child upon birth.

"The power to disbar or suspend ought always to be exercised on the preservative and not on the vindicative principle, with great caution and only for the most weighty reasons."


Facts:

This is a disbarment complaint filed by Rodica against the respondent Atty. Lazaro on grounds of gross and serious misconduct, deceit, malpractice, grossly immoral conduct and violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

On May 5, 2011, William Strong was arrested and detained by the Bureau of Immigration for allegedly being involved in an international gang and conspiracy in Brazil on fraud involving the creation of hundreds of dollars in illegal securities. Strong requested his friend Philip Apostol to look for a lawyer. Apostol recommended the Lazaro Law Office represented by Atty. Manuel Lazaro and his associates who initially declined but later accepted to handle the deportation case. 

Strong initiated giving the information that his deportation case may be due to the complaint filed by his live-in partner Jasper Rodica before the RTC against the Hillview Marketing Corporation for recovery and possession and damages involving a property they have in Boracay which is represented by Atty. Tan. Rodica was represented by Atty. Ibutnande in this case. Apparently, Rodica claimed that Atty. Manuel met with Atty. Tan to discuss the settlement package on the deportation case they filed against Strong on the condition that Rodica withdraws her complaint from the RTC of Cebu. 

On May 25, 2011 the Bureau of Immigration rendered a judgment deporting Strong to leave the country. On  June 6, 2011 Rodica filed before the RTC a motion to withdraw her complaint against Hillview. Rodica now alleges that after Strong was deported and withdrawing the case before the RTC, she was deceived by Atty Manuel et al for over settlement of 7 million which was allegedly extorted from her after misrepresenting that the withdrawal of the case before the RTC is only a part of the settlement package.

It appears on the record that Atty. Espejo, an associate of the Lazaro Law office helped in drafting the Manifestation with Motion to Withdraw Motion for Reconsideration after Rodica pleaded him to prepare the motion and was requested further to indicate the name of the Lazaro Law Office including the name of Atty. Manuel and Atty. Michelle to give more weight on the pleading. Rodica promised Atty. Espejo to talk to Atty. Manuel about it. The case before the RTC was actually dismissed on March 29, 2011 for failure to show cause of action but a motion for reconsideration was filed by Rodica. 

Issue: 
Whether or not the allegations of Rodica merit the disbarment of the respondents. 

Ruling

The court ruled that Rodica failed to overcome the presumption of innocence of the respondents. As a general rule, lawyers enjoy the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof rests upon the complainant to clearly prove the allegations made against them. The required quantum of proof is preponderance of evidence which is an evidence which is more convincing to the court as worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto.

On Rodica's claim with regards to the settlement package, the court find it without merit because she withdrew her complaint only after the deportation of Strong. It was also evident on record that the said case was already dismissed even before the deportation case was filed only she filed a motion for reconsideration. Therefore, it cannot be said that her withdrawal of the complaint is a settlement consideration regarding the deportation case of Strong. Moreover, Strong is not a party to the case she filed before the RTC therefore there is no connection between these 2 cases. 

There was sufficient preponderance of evidence that was presented that the cause of her withdrawal of the complaint is to facilitate the sale of her property in Boracay. According to Atty. Espejo who helped Rodica draft the motion for withdrawal of the complaint, the said withdrawal is for the purpose of selling her property to Apostol. Apostol further corroborated that he told Rodica he is willing to purchase the property once it is free from any pending case. Rodica promised him to work on the termination of the pending case attached to the property to make the sale. 

On her claim to have paid 7 million to Atty. Manuel et al, she failed to substantiate such claim despite showing off withdrawals from her bank account certain amount of money after failing to prove that the said amount was paid to the respondents. Moreover, the court held that Rodica is not a client of Lazaro Law Office. They merely handled the deportation case of Strong.

As for Atty. Espejo, the court found him to have aided Rodica for misrepresenting before the court that she was aided by the Lazaro Law Office when in fact she is not. Atty. Espejo explained that Rodica assured him to talk to Atty. Manuel and Atty. Michelle about including their name on the pleading but she did not do so. Atty. Espejo should have known better that Atty. Ibutnande was the counsel on record on the case before the RTC and therefore it is not his duty to prepare said pleading. He also should have known that all pleadings before the court are acted based on merit or the lack of it and not by the name of the law firm. However, the court give due recognition on the fact that Atty. Espejo expressed remorse on his conduct and made a sincere apology to the RTC for wrongly employing the name of the Lazaro Law Office and that he was newly admitted to the Bar in 2010, the court find it proper to give him a warning to become more prudent on his actuation in the practice of his profession.

The complaint for disbarment was dismissed.








“failure to deny the genuineness and due execution of an actionable document does not bar a party at the trial that there is a mistake or imperfection in the writing, or that it does not express the true agreement of the parties, or that the agreement is invalid or that there is an intrinsic ambiguity in the writing.”

Facts:
Petitioner files an expropriation case against the Quetulio et al for the two parcels of land to be used for constructing the terminal building for international flights in Laoag International Airport. A compromise agreement was entered by the parties setting forth the just compensation for the expropriated property which was adopted by the court. Harold Hernando, representing the respondents as their attorney-in-fact filed a petition for the issuance of a duplicate copy of the said property and sold the same to spouses Abadilla. The petitioner files a complaint for the rescission of the deed of sale and cancellation of the transfer of certificate of title, reconveyance and damages against the respondents contending that the sale was null and void because the property is already owned by the Republic and that the vendees were in bad faith with their prior knowledge of the first sale. Hernando filed an answer beyond the reglementary period but was allowed by the court to present his answer praying for the dismissal of the complaint on the basis of the “affidavit of revocation” cancelling the compromise agreement between the Republic’s counsel in the person of Atty. Pedro who allegedly withheld the 10 checks as part of the consideration of the expropriated property and signed the rescission of the compromise agreement and deed of conveyance in favor of the Abadilla spouses.

Plaintiff failed to reply to the answer of the respondent who was then held by the trial court to have admitted the due execution and genuineness of the instruments presented by respondents in their motion to dismiss. As a result, the court finds that the plaintiff, after having admitted the genuineness of the documents, in effect waived/abandoned its claim to the land in suit. Motion for reconsideration was denied hence the petitioner filed a petition for certiorari to the CA which was dismissed after treating the same as an ordinary appeal filed out of time.


“the court can take judicial notice of blood grouping test which can establish conclusively that a man is not the father of a child, where the child has none of the father’s phenotypes. However, blood grouping test cannot show that a man is the father of the child, as the presence of the father’s phenotypes in the child can only show the possibility that he is.”

Facts:
Cartuano was charged for 2 counts of rape against Adela Villa, a mentally retarded person which was allegedly committed in May 4, 1991 and August 20, 1991. The complaint was filed by the victim’s father, Antonio Villa who testified that he learned about the rape when he went home on August 20, 1991 and saw his 5 years old grandson crying. The child explained that he was crying because the accused threatened him with a sharp instrument and pulled her aunt Adela Villa inside the room and witnessed that he had carnal knowledge with her. Adela also testified and related how she was raped against her will. The accused provided an alibi that he could not have been at the victim’s house when the alleged rape happened because he was far away working as a farm worker where he stayed and lived with his employer. It was only after his uncle died in August 3, 1991 when he went home to their place and stayed with his aunt. He returned to his employer’s place in Aug. 19, 1991 to ask permission that he will stop working for him but he was not allowed to leave his work. But he was permitted by his employer to go home again to inform his aunt that he will continue working for his employer and came home to his aunt’s house in August 21, 1991. He was resting when the Brgy. Captain came over to invite him to the police station. The court rendered decision finding the accused guilty of two counts of rape and ordered to support the victim’s child. Assailing the decision of the trial court, the accused on appeal indicates the assignment of errors for failure of the court to give credence that the testimony of the father of the accused is purely hearsay; that the testimony of the victim is not convincing; that the court erred in holding that the father of the child of the victim is the accused and for convicting the accused despite the failure of the prosecution to establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Issue: Whether or not the court erred in convicting the accused?


the court takes judicial notice of the common (human) experience of mankind and non-adherence thereto renders testimonies inherently improbable.”

Facts:
Accused-appellants Leoniza Villagonzalo and Renito Moro were accused for committing a crime of murder and was sentenced guilty by the court. Both were allegedly conspirators in killing Ricardo Tan, the common-law spouse of Villagonzalo and they conspired with other respondents Dela Cruz and Asentista who were not apprehended by the police. Dela Cruz and Asentista were allegedly hired by both Moro and Villagonzalo to kill Tan as evidenced by the testimony of Tito Alquizar and Prescilla Villarin who also work for Tan. Villarin is the helper and Alquizar is both the helper and farmhand of Tan.

According to Alquizar and Villarin, they were present when the four accused were contemplating a plan on how to kill Tan. They alleged to be present from the time Moro and Villagonzalo offered Dela Cruz and Asentista money to kill Tan and also during the time Moro provided a gun to both men before the victim was shot. They alleged that Moro and Villagonzalo are having an affair and want to kill Tan so they can live together. The court rendered a judgment of guilty for murder to Villagonzalo and Moro. The appellants now pray for the reversal of the judgment contending that the lower court erred in believing prosecution witnesses Alquizar and Villarin whose testimony are patently false and contrary to human experience and assailed the credibility of the witnesses whose testimonies were relied upon by the court in giving judgment.

Issue: Whether or not the witnesses Alquizar and Villarin credible witnesses?


“judicial notice can be taken of the fact that testimonies in court are much more exact and elaborate than those stated in the sworn statement.”

Facts:
Yabut is accused for a crime of rape of a 10-year child and was sentenced as guilty by the trial court. Yabut now assails the decision of the court contending that there were irregularities on the testimony of the victim during the interrogation of the police and what she testified in court. He contends that (1)  She told the police that she was awakened by the accused who is pulling down her panties but in court she testified that she was awakened by a man making an up and down movement on top of her, (2) it was impossible for the victim to see who her assailant as it was dark in the room; (3) it was bizarre to believe when the victim said he came back to get his driver’s license; (4) that the testimony of the victim’s father showed that the victim did not show any anxiety when her father came home after the incident happened; (5) pointed out that the medical result showed the victim to be negative in spermatozoa hence no rape occurred, (6) it is unlikely for the victim to be raped as she was sleeping with her other siblings in the room and (7) victim’s allegation that there was a lock in the room is contradictory to the testimony of her father who said the room has no lock.


“courts are not authorized to take judicial notice of the contents of the records of other cases, even when such cases have been tried or pending in the same court, except when with the knowledge of the adverse party reference is made to these cases and the latter did not object thereto.”

Facts
Respondent De Leon filed a forcible entry case against petitioner Gener, alleging that he is the original claimant and actual possessor in good faith under a bona fide claim of ownership to a certain parcel of agricultural land in Bulacan. The said land was part of the bed of the Angat River which was formerly adjacent to the boundary of lot that is covered by the Certificate of Title of De Leon. A flood caused that part of the river to develop and elevated and dried up land where De Leon extended occupation, planting and cultivating coconuts, bananas and vegetables. In May 1989, Gener allegedly through force, threat and intimidation unlawfully entered the property and deprived De Leon possession thereof. De Leon demand Gener to vacate the premises but was ignored. Efforts to settle the dispute amicably thru the brgy justice system did not prosper prompting De Leon to file an ejectment case against Gener.

Gener on the other hand denied all allegations of the respondent and claimed to be the real owner of the property as evidenced by the notarized deed of sale which was executed in October 1988 by Benjamin Joaquin who is the heir of the former possessor of the land, Proceso Joaquin. The land was declared for taxation purposes in the name of Gener and declared the land as private. De Leon’s father, in an affidavit, mentioned that P. Joaquin was the owner the neighboring lot in the east side of their lot.

Gener further attested that it was De Leon who forcibly entered the lot in question as evidenced by two criminal cases on malicious mischief he filed against the workers of De Deleon who entered the disputed land and destroyed the planted trees thereon. He also invoked that the right to file an action for ejection already prescribed after filing the same beyond the 1 year prescription period. Trial ensued where Gener is the only witness to his defense while De Leon presented oral testimonies of witnesses who stated that he was the owner of the lot in dispute. Gener presented a deed of sale, a tax declaration of the land in his name and recalled the 2 criminal cases he filed on malicious mischief against the worker of De Leon. The MTC ruled in favor of De Leon but the decision was reversed by the RTC and dismissed the forcible entry case against Gener. On appeal, the appellate court reversed the decision of the RTC and reinstated the decision of the MTC. A motion for reconsideration was then filed before the SC.