A.C. No. 9651. January 13, 2016


Complainant Purificacion Quierre Vda. De Omano* (complainant) filed before the Court an action for disbarment against Atty. Ernesto G. Oñasa, Jr. (respondent) for alleged act of violating Section 19 of A.M. No. 00-11-01-SC and forum shopping.

After respondent filed his comment, as required in the Court's Resolution of November 21, 2012, the Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.

After investigation, Investigating Commissioner Antonio Ray A. Ortiguera submitted the following Report and Recommendation:


As alleged in the Complaint-Affidavit, the antecedent facts may be summarized as follows:

1. On June 9, 2009, Ms. Deomano, representing the Heirs of Noel Dcomano, filed Civil Case No. I486 for ejectment with the Municipal Trial Court of Tanay, Rizal (MTC) against spouses Carlito Montenegro and Belen Montenegro (Spouses Montenegro). Counsel for Ms. Deomano was Atty. Epafrodito Nollora, while counsel for the Spouses Montenegro was Atty. Oñasa.

2. On July 26, 2010, the MTC ordered the parties to file their respective position papers. Atty. Oñasa, prior to filing the Position Paper for the Spouses Montenegro, filed two motions for extension dated September 8, 2010 and October 11, 2010, respectively. Both motions were granted by the MTC. Thereafter, Atty. Oñasa filed the Position Paper. On October 22, 2010, the MTC rendered a decision in favor of the Spouses Montenegro. The decision is now pending appeal with the Regional Trial Court of Rizal (RTC), Branch 80.

1. While the decision in Civil Case No. 1486 was pending appeal, the Spouses Montenegro, represented by Atty. Oñasa, filed the following cases against the Heirs of Noel Deomano:
  1. Civil Case No. 1509 before the MTC for Forcible Entry;
  2.  Civil Case No. 10-2231-M before the RTC Branch 79 for Declaration of Ownership and Quieting of Title; and
  3. Civil Case No. 11-2231-M before the RTC Branch 80 for easement of right of way.
2. Ms. Deomano alleged that the filing of the two Motions for Extension was in violation of Section 19 of A.M. No. 1 1-11 -01 -SC, or the Revised Rules on Summary Procedure, which considers a Motion for Extension as a prohibited motion.

3. Ms. Deomano also alleged that the filing of the subsequent three civil cases constitutes Forum-Shopping because of the identity of parties and reliefs prayed for. Ms. Deomano further alleged falsity in the Certificates of Non-Forum Shopping contained in the complaints in Case Nos. 1509, 10-2108-M and 11-2231-M as they did not disclose the existence of Civil Case No. 1486.

Attached to the Complaint-Affidavit were the following documents:
  1. Complaint in Civil Case No. 1486 dated May 18, 2009 (Annex A);
  2. Motion for Extension of Time dated September 1, 2010 signed by Atty. Oñasa (Annex B);
  3. Motion for Last Extension of Time dated September 14, 2010 signed by Ally. Oñasa (Annex C);
  4. Complaint Affidavit: of Ms. Deomano against the MTC Judge Ongpaueo (Annex C-l);
  5. Complaint in Civil Case No. 1509 dated March 2, 2011 (Annex D);
  6. Complaint in Civil Case No. 11-2231-M dated February 21, 2011 (Annex D-l);
  7. Complaint in Civil Case No. 10-2108-M dated February 12, 2010 (Annex D-l);
  8. Annex in Civil Case No. 1486 dated September 24, 2009 (Annex E);

  9.  Photograph of a Notice (Annex F).
xxx xxx xxx

On January 21, 2014, the Investigation Commissioner issued a notice setting the ease for mandatory conference on Fcbruary21, 2014 and directing the parties to file their respective briefs at least three days before the mandatory conference.

Ms. Deomano and Atty. Oñasa were both present at the February 21, 2014 mandatory conference. During the mandatory conference, Ms. Deomano made a manifestation denying that she signed the Complaint-Affidavit and said that it was likely prepared without her knowledge by Atty. Nollora, who no longer represents her or the Heirs of Noel Deomano.

With the conformity of both parties, the mandatory conference was terminated and an order was issued directing the parties to submit their respective position papers.

Atty. Oñasa submitted his Position Paper on March 14, 2014. Ms. Deomano did not submit her Position Paper.


In his Position Paper, Atty. Oñasa raised the following arguments

in his defense:

1. Ms. Deomano has denied being the author of the Complaint-Affidavit for the disbarment against him. In Ms. Deomano's Affidavit,[1] she alleged that she has not initiated nor signed any complaint for disbarment against Atty. Oñasa. She further denied that it was her signature appearing above her name in the Complaint-Affidavit and the same was most likely prepared by Atty. Nollora without her consent. Consequently, the case against him should be dismissed.

2. Atty. Oñasa claims he did not violate Section 19 of A.M. No. 00-1 1-01-SC because:

a. What is prohibited is the filing of pleadings and not an extension to file position paper;

b. The MTC did not expunge the motions but, instead granted them;

c. There is no provision that states that a lawyer should be sanctioned for violation the rule on prohibited pleadings; and

d. Complainant is equally guilty by filing a Motion to Declare in Default, which is also a prohibited pleading.

3. Forum shopping was not committed since all the causes of action in the three civil cases filed are different. In the first case for ejectment, i.e., Civil Case No. 1486, the cause of action was for recovery of possession filed by the Heirs of Noel Deomano. In Civil Case No. 1509, the forcible entry case was filed by Spouses Montenegro because the Heirs of Noel Deomano had forcibly entered the subject property. In Civil Case No, 10-2108-M, the case is for quieting of title and declaration of ownership. Lastly, the Civil Case No, 11-2231 is for easement of right of way.

4. The filing of the case is premature as the same grounds are currently being heard by the RTC and the Court of Appeals.

5. Atty. Nollora should be investigated since he is representing himself as a lawyer when in fact he is not.

In support of the foregoing allegations, Atty. Oñasa attached the following:
  1. Tax Declaration CC-TN-003-2595 (Annex A);
  2. Deed of Sale dated September 6, 2007 (Annex B):
  3. Kasulatan ng Bilihan Patuluyan dated September 6, 2007 (Annex C);
  4. Complaint in Civil Case No. 1486 dated May 18, 2009 (Annex D);
  5. Decision in Civil Case No, 1486 dated October 22, 2010 (Annex E);
  6. Order dated January 24, 2011 (Annex F);
  7. Complaint in Civil Case No, 1509 dated March 2, 201 1 (Annex G);
  8. Decision in Civil Case No. 1509 dated June 13, 2012 (Annex 11);
  9. Complaint in Civil Case No. 10-2108-M dated February 12, 2010 (Annex I);
  10. Certification of the IBD dated April 25, 201 1 (Annex J);
  11. Letter of the Office of the Bar Confidant dated July 13, 2011 (Annex K); and
  12. Sinumpaang Salaysay of Ms. Deomano (Annex L).

Ms. Deomano has denied being the author of the complaint. Nevertheless, such revelation will not automatically result in the dismissal of the present administrative case against Atty. Oñasa. As held in Cambaliza v. Atty. Cristal-Tenorio,[2] citing Rayos-Omhac v. Rayos:[3]

The affidavit of withdrawal of the disbarment case allegedly executed by complainant does not, in any way, exonerate the respondent. 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 duly proven. This rule is premised on the nature of the disciplinary proceedings. A proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not in any sense 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 arc 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 attorney's 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. Hence, if the evidence on record warrants, the respondent may be suspended or disbarred despite the desistance of complainant or his withdrawal of the charges. Hence, notwithstanding the Motion to Withdraw Complaint, this disbarment case should proceed accordingly.

Accordingly, the Investigation Commissioner now proceeds to discuss the charge that Atty. Oñasa violated Section 19 of A.M. No. 00-11-01-SC.

Atty. Oñasa has admitted, and it is clear from the records, that he did indeed file two motions for extension to file the Position Paper. These are clearly prohibited motions under Section 19 of A.M. No. 00-11-01-SC, to wit:

Section 19. Prohibited Pleadings and Motions. - The following pleadings, motions, or petitions shall not be allowed in the cases covered by this Rule:
(a) Motion to dismiss the complaint or to quash the complaint or information except on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject mailer, or failure to comply with the proceeding section;
(b) Motion for a bill of particulars;
(c) Motion for new trial, or for reconsideration of a judgment, or for reopening of trial;
(d) Petition for relief from judgment;
(e) Motion for extension of time to file pleadings, affidavits or any other paper;
(f) Memoranda;
(g) Petition for certiorari, mandamus, or prohibition against any interlocutory order issued by the court;
(h) Motion to declare defendant in default;
(i) Dilatory motions for postponement;
(j) Reply;
(k) Third party complaints;
(l) Interventions.
Under [I]tem [e] above, it explicitly provides that a motion for extension of time to file pleadings, affidavits or any other paper is prohibited.

Atty. Oñasa argues that, even assuming he violated the rule, there is no provision that states that he should be sanctioned. Jurisprudence does not support his argument. In Villanueva, Jr. v. Judge Estoque,[4] the Supreme Court sanctioned the respondent judge for granting a motion for extension to file position paper in a case governed by the Rules of Summary Procedure. The Court said:
Failure to follow basic legal commands embodied in the law and the rules constitutes gross ignorance of the law from which no one may be excused, not even a judge, who, as an advocate of justice and the visible representation of the law, is expected to keep abreast with and be proficient in the interpretation thereof. In this case there can be no question that respondent judge's disregard of (he established rule of the law subjects him to disciplinary action.

If a judge can be sanctioned for granting a motion for extension, so should the lawyer who filed the prohibited motion in disregard of an established rule of procedure.
Atty. Oñasa seeks to be excused from liability on the argument that the MTC did not expunge his motions for extension. On this point, the Villanueva, Jr. v. Judge Estoque case also ruled that "there can be no mistaking the clear command of Section 19 (c) of the 1991 Revised Rule[s] on Summary Procedure and judges have no option but to obey. Thus, it is clear that the MTC has no power to transform prohibited motions into a permissible motion by the granting thereof. The fact that the MTC failed to observe the rules of procedure does not erase Atty. Oñasa's own failure to observe the same rules.

As to the issue of forum shopping, the Investigation Commissioner finds the charge to be without merit. Forum shopping exists where the elements of litis pendentia are present or where a final judgement in one case will amount to res judicata in another. Thus, the following requisites should concur:[5]
... (a) identity of the parties, or at least such parties as represent the same interest in both actions, (b) identity of rights asserted and reliefs prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts, and (c) the identity of the two proceeding particulars is such that any judgment rendered in the other action will, regardless of which party is successful, amount to res judicata in the action under consideration.
Although there is identity of parties, there is no identity on rights asserted and reliefs prayed that any judgment will amount to res judicata. To begin with, it has been repeatedly settled that an action for quieting of title has a different cause of action than an ejectment suit.[6] The latter involves physical or material possession, while the former involves ownership. The ejectment suit sought to have the Spouses Montenegro vacate the property, while the forcible entry case was filed to have the Heirs of Noel Dcomano vacate the property. Lastly, the casement case does not involve any of the reliefs above mentioned.

On the argument that the filing of the case is premature as the same grounds are currently being heard by the RTC and the CA, suffice it to say that Atty. Oñasa has not provided sufficient documents to establish his claims. Lastly, on that contention that Atty. Nollora should be investigated since he is falsely representing himself as a lawyer, such a matter is beyond this Investigation Commissioner's mandate to investigate, report and recommend on the charges against Atty. Oñasa.


The Investigation Commissioner finds cause to hold Atty. Oñasa in violation of Rule 10.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, to wit:
RULE 10.03. A lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure and shall not misuse them to defeat the ends of justice. 
The Revised Rules on Summary Procedure was promulgated specifically to achieve an expeditious and inexpensive determination of cases.[7] While there was non-observance of the rules of procedure, it docs not appear that Atty. Oñasa intended to thwart and obstruct the speedy and efficient administration of justice. Consequently, the Investigation Commissioner finds appropriate to recommend that Atty. Oñasa be ADMONISHED and STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts would be dealt with more severely.

Respectfully submitted.

Pasig City, April 22, 2014.
In its Resolution No. XXI-2014-826, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the above Report and Recommendation that respondent be admonished and sternly warned for violating Rule 10.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Finding the IBP recommendation to be in accord with law, the Court ADOPTS the same. Accordingly, Atty. Ernesto G. Oñasa, Jr. is ADMONISHED for violating Rule 10.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and STERNLY WARNED that repetition of the same conduct shall be dealt with more severely.

Let this case be considered CLOSED and TERMINATED.


*Also referred as "Dcomano" in the text of the IBP Report and Recommendation.

[1] Attached as Annex L to Atty. Oñasa's Position Paper.

[2] A.C. No. 6890, July 14, 2004.

[3] A.C. No. 2884, 349 Phil. 7 (1998).

[4] A.M. No. RTJ-99-1494, November 29, 2000.

[5] Lim v. Montano A.C. No. 5653, February 27, 2006

[6] Gachon v. Devera, Jr., G.R. No. 1 16695, June 20, 1997.

[7] Teresita Bongato v. Severo & Trinidad Malvar, G.R. No. 141614, August 14, 2002