A college undergraduate who became a lawyer by stealing the identity of his brother was disbarred by the Supreme Court.
In a per curiam decision in Administrative Case No. 11316 promulgated July 12, 2016, the court ordered that the name “Patrick A. Caronon with Roll of Attorneys No. 49069” dropped and stricken off the Roll of Attorneys.
The high court also barred Richard A. Caronan or “Atty. Patrick A. Caronan” from being admitted as a member of the Bar.
The high court also cancelled and revoked the identification cards issued to Richard Caronan under the name “Atty. Patrick A. Caronan” issued by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) as well as the certificates issued to the same by the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE).
Likewise, the high court also ordered the Office of the Court Administrator to circulate in all courts nationwide a photograph of Richard Caronan and a warning of his false assumption of the name and identity of “Patrick A. Caronan.”
“[R]espondent made a mockery of the legal profession by pretending to have the necessary qualifications to be a lawyer. He also tarnished the image of lawyers with his alleged unscrupulous activities, which resulted in the filing of several criminal cases against him. Certainly, respondent and his acts do not have a place in the legal profession where one of the primary duties of its members is to uphold its integrity and dignity,” the court held.
Richard is the older brother of the real Patrick Caronan, who, in 2013 filed a complaint before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP.
The real Patrick Caronan graduated from college with a degree in Business Administration at the University of Makati (UM). He worked his way up until he was promoted as branch manager of a convenience store in Muntinlupa.
His brother Richard studied at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM). He later transferred to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). A year later, he was discharged from PMA and focused on helping their father in a car rental business.
In 1997, he moved to Nueva Vizcaya with his wife and three children and never went back to school.
Two years later, he told his brother that he enrolled at a law school in Nueva Vizcaya.
In 2004, their mother informed Patrick that his brother passed the Bar examination. Their mother also told him that Richard used his name and college records from UM to enroll at St. Mary’s University College of Law.
Patrick brushed aside what his brother did. He said he did not anticipate any adverse consequences to him until he was summoned by his office in 2009 informing him that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) requested his presence for an investigation against “Atty. Patrick A. Caronan” for qualified theft and estafa.
Patrick also learned that his brother was arrested for gun-running activities, illegal possession of explosives and violation of the Bouncing Checks Law.
Patrick said for fear of his own safety and because he became the subject of talk in his office, he was forced to resign from his work. He eventually filed a complaint against his brother.
In his defense, Richard denied all allegations and maintained that his identity can no longer be raised as an issue as it had already been resolved in an earlier administrative case declared closed and terminated by this court in AC No. 10074.
But the high court said Patrick “clearly and overwhelmingly” established that he is the real “Patrick A. Caronan.”
The IBP also noted that since Richard never completed his college degree, he has not completed the required pre-law degree.
The court held that respondent exhibited his dishonesty and utter lack of moral fitness to be a member of the Bar when he assumed the name, identity and school records of his own brother and dragged the latter into controversies which eventually caused him to fear for his safety and to resign from PSC where he had been working for years.
“Good moral character is essential in those who would be lawyers. This is imperative in the nature of the office of a lawyer, the trust relation which exists between him and his client, as well as between him and the court,” the court said. RAM/rga.