See - http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/07/05/16/sc-suspends-2-lawyers-for-imputing-judicial-corruption
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MANILA - The Supreme Court has suspended two lawyers for compromising the integrity of the judiciary by maliciously imputing corrupt motives against the Sandiganbayan in connection with their issuance of a P2 million check purportedly in exchange for a temporary restraining order (TRO) favoring the Philippine Communications Satellite Corporation (Philcomsat).
In a nine-page decision penned by Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe in AC No. 11139 (Philcomsat Holdings Corporation v. Lokin, Jr. and Labastilla), the Court suspended Atty. Luis K. Lokin, Jr. from the practice of law for three years and Atty. Sikini C. Labastilla for a year for violating Canons 7 and 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).
Canon 11 provides that "[a] lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by other", while Canon 7 commands every lawyer to "at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession."
Lokin, Jr. was meted the graver penalty as he was the one directly responsible for the making of the subject checkbook entry.
"[R]espondents compromised the integrity of the judiciary by maliciously imputing corrupt motives against the Sandiganbayan through the subject checkbook entry. Clearly, respondents also violated Canon 7 of the CPR and, thus, should be held administratively liable therefor," the Court ruled.
The case stemmed from the complaint of Philcomsat Holdings Corp., represented by Erlinda I. Bildner. During the 2007 Senate inquiry on the anomalies that plagued the Philcomsat group of companies, it was learned that there was an entry in complainant's checkbook stub which reads "Cash for Sandiganbayan, TRO, potc-philcomsat case - P2,000,000."
The check, it turned out, was issued in connection with complainant's injunction case against the Philippine Overseas Telecommunciations Corporation (POTC) before the Sandiganbayan, which was filed by Atty. Lokin, Jr.'s group, as its representatives, with Atty. Labastilla as its external counsel (POTC case).
The Sandiganbayan, motu proprio (on its own), initiated indirect contempt proceedings against respondents and on May 7, 2009 found them guilty of indirect contempt and sentenced them to each pay a fine of P30,000 and imprisonment for six months.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, which conducted a separate investigation, found Lokin, Jr. administratively liable and recommended his suspension for one year but absolved Labastilla.
The High Court concurred with the IBP Investigating Commissioner's findings on Lokin but disagreed with Labastilla's absolution.
The High Court agreed with the IBP's finding that the subject checkbook entry contained a contumacious imputation against the Sandiganbayan, i.e., that a check in the amount of P2,0000,000.00 was issued and given to the Sandiganbayan in order to secure a favorable TRO in the POTC case.
It stressed, among others, that the records show Lokin, Jr. was the one who caused the making of the subject checkbook entry and he never denied participation and knowledge of the issuance of the check and the consequent creation of the subject checkbook entry.
However, the High Court held that it does not agree with IBP's finding on Labastilla and "is more inclined to concur with the Sandiganbayan's findings in the indirect contempt case that Atty. Labastilla also had a hand, direct or indirect, in the creation of the subject checkbook entry considering he was complainant's external counsel who applied for the TRO in the POTC case."
It added Labastilla admitted receipt of the proceeds of the P2 million check "although allegedly for legal fees but with no supporting evidence therefor."
The High Court stressed that it is every lawyer's duty to maintain the high regard to the profession by staying true to his oath and keeping his actions beyond reproach. It reiterated that "all lawyers should be bound not only to safeguard the good name of the legal profession, but also to keep inviolable the honor, prestige, and reputation of the judiciary."
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