Respondent dealt with complainant with bad faith, falsehood, and deceit when he entered into the “Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase” dated December 2, 1981 with the latter. He made it appear that the property was covered by TCT No. T-662 under his name, even giving complainant the owner’s copy of the said certificate of title, when the truth is that the said TCT had already been cancelled some nine years earlier by TCT No. T-3211 in the name of PNB. He did not even care to correct the wrong statement in the deed when he was subsequently issued a new copy of TCT No. T-7235 on January 4, 1982, or barely a month after the execution of the said deed. All told, respondent clearly committed an act of gross dishonesty and deceit against complainant.
Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provide:
CANON 1 – A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes.
Rule 1.01 – A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
Under Canon 1, a lawyer is not only mandated to personally obey the laws and the legal processes, he is moreover expected to inspire respect and obedience thereto. On the other hand, Rule 1.01 states the norm of conduct that is expected of all lawyers.
Any act or omission that is contrary to, prohibited or unauthorized by, in defiance of, disobedient to, or disregards the law is “unlawful.” “Unlawful” conduct does not necessarily imply the element of criminality although the concept is broad enough to include such element.
To be “dishonest” means the disposition to lie, cheat, deceive, defraud or betray; be untrustworthy; lacking in integrity, honesty, probity, integrity in principle, fairness and straightforwardness. On the other hand, conduct that is “deceitful” means as follows:
[Having] the proclivity for fraudulent and deceptive misrepresentation, artifice or device that is used upon another who is ignorant of the true facts, to the prejudice and damage of the party imposed upon. In order to be deceitful, the person must either have knowledge of the falsity or acted in reckless and conscious ignorance thereof, especially if the parties are not on equal terms, and was done with the intent that the aggrieved party act thereon, and the latter indeed acted in reliance of the false statement or deed in the manner contemplated to his injury.
The actions of respondent in connection with the execution of the “Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase” clearly fall within the concept of unlawful, dishonest, and deceitful conduct. They violate Article 19 of the Civil Code. They show a disregard for Section 63 of the Land Registration Act. They also reflect bad faith, dishonesty, and deceit on respondent’s part. Thus, respondent deserves to be sanctioned.
x x x."
EN BANC A.C. No. 4697, November 25, 2014, FLORENCIO A. SALADAGA, COMPLAINANT, VS. ATTY. ARTURO B. ASTORGA, RESPONDENT.
A.C. NO. 4728, FLORENCIO A. SALADAGA, COMPLAINANT, VS. ATTY. ARTURO B. ASTORGA, RESPONDENT.