Monday, January 4, 2016

Grave misconduct by public prosecutor; disbarred. - Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,

See - A.C. No. 6732 ( 

"x x x.

We affirm the findings of the IBP Board of Governors. Indeed, the respondent was guilty of grave misconduct for falsifying a court decision in consideration of a sum of money.

The respondent’s main defense consisted in blanket denial of the imputation. He insisted that he had had no hand in the falsification, and claimed that the falsification had been the handiwork of Dy Quioyo. He implied that Dy Quioyo had resorted to the shady characters in Recto Avenue in Manila to resolve the problems he had encountered as an OFW, hinting that Dy Quioyo had a history of employing unscrupulous means to achieve his ends.

However, the respondent’s denial and his implication against Dy Quioyo in the illicit generation of the falsified decision are not persuasive. Dy Quioyo’s categorical declaration on the respondent’s personal responsibility for the falsified decision, which by nature was positive evidence, was not overcome by the respondent’s blanket denial, which by nature was negative evidence.23

Also, the imputation of wrongdoing against Dy Quioyo lacked credible specifics and did not command credence.1âwphi1 It is worthy to note, too, that the respondent filed his counter-affidavit only after the Court, through the en banc resolution of May 10, 2005, had required him to comment.24 The belatedness of his response exposed his blanket denial as nothing more than an after thought.

The respondent relied on the sworn statement supposedly executed by Mrs. Jalipa that declared that her deceased husband had been instrumental in the falsification of the forged decision. But such reliance was outrightly worthless, for the sworn statement of the wife was rendered unreliable due to its patently hearsay character. In addition, the unworthiness of the sworn statement as proof of authorship of the falsification by the husband is immediately exposed and betrayed by the falsified decision being an almost verbatim reproduction of the authentic decision penned by Judge Penuela in the real Special Proceedings Case No. 084.

In light of the established circumstances, the respondent was guilty of grave misconduct for having authored the falsification of the decision in a non-existent court proceeding. Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility demands that all lawyers should uphold at all times the dignity and integrity of the Legal Profession. Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that "a lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession." Lawyers are further required by Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility not to engage in any unlawful, dishonest and immoral or deceitful conduct.

Gross immorality, conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or fraudulent transactions can justify a lawyer’s disbarment or suspension from the practice of law.25 Specifically, the deliberate falsification of the court decision by the respondent was an act that reflected a high degree of moral turpitude on his part. Worse, the act made a mockery of the administration of justice in this country, given the purpose of the falsification, which was to mislead a foreign tribunal on the personal status of a person. He thereby became unworthy of continuing as a member of the Bar.

It then becomes timely to remind all members of the Philippine Bar that they should do nothing that may in any way or degree lessen the confidence of the public in their professional fidelity and integrity.26 The Court will not hesitate to wield its heavy hand of discipline on those among them who wittingly and willingly fail to meet the enduring demands of their Attorney’s Oath for them to:

x x x support the Constitution and obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; xxx do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; x x x not wittingly or willingly promote or sue on groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same; x x x delay no man for money or malice, and x x x conduct themselves as lawyers according to the best of their knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to their clients x x x.

No lawyer should ever lose sight of the verity that the practice of the legal profession is always a privilege that the Court extends only to the deserving, and that the Court may withdraw or deny the privilege to him who fails to observe and respect the Lawyer’s Oath and the canons of ethical conduct in his professional and private capacities. He may be disbarred or suspended from the practice of law not only for acts and omissions of malpractice and for dishonesty in his professional dealings, but also for gross misconduct not directly connected with his professional duties that reveal his unfitness for the office and his unworthiness of the principles that the privilege to practice law confers upon him.27 Verily, no lawyer is immune from the disciplinary authority of the Court whose duty and obligation are to investigate and punish lawyer misconduct committed either in a professional or private capacity.28The test is whether the conduct shows the lawyer to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity, and good demeanor, and whether the conduct renders the lawyer unworthy to continue as an officer of the Court.29

x x x."