‘Serial womanizer’ disbarred by SC
For serial womanizing and other grossly immoral acts, a longtime lawyer has been stripped of his license to practice law.
The Supreme Court en banc has disbarred Quezon City lawyer Ian Raymond Pangalangan for violating the Code of Professional Responsibility and Lawyer’s Oath, ordering his name to be immediately stricken off the Roll of Attorneys for his illicit pursuits.
Pangalangan, a married man who had been practicing law since 1991, was exposed when a fellow lawyer sued him in 2007 for “illicit relations, chronic womanizing” and other “unscrupulous practices” that betray the values demanded of those in the practice.
Complainant lawyer Roy Ecraela was among the many husbands Pangalangan had scorned: the former’s wife is one among the several women with whom the latter had had extramarital attachments.
In his complaint, Ecraela cited Pangalangan’s string of indiscretions, including relationships “with a number of married or unmarried women … some of which were simultaneously occurring, even while respondent was himself married.”
In an en banc ruling on Tuesday, the high court upheld the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ (IBP) decision to kick Pangalangan out of the legal profession as it found “preponderant evidence” that the respondent had been “committing gross immorality in the conduct of his personal affairs.”
“The practice of law is a privilege given to those who possess and continue to possess the legal qualifications for the profession. Good moral character is not only required for admission to the bar, but must also be retained in order to maintain one’s good standing in this exclusive and honored fraternity,” the high court said in its ruling, parts of which were released in a summary this week.
Voting unanimously, the high court found Pangalangan guilty of “gross immorality” and of violating the 1987 Constitution’s provisions on the family.
Article 15, Section 2, of the Constitution says: “Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State.”
He was also found guilty of violating several canons of the lawyers’ Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly provisions against “unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct,” “conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law,” and “scandalous” acts that discredit the legal profession.
Aggravating the case for Pangalangan was his failure to disclose that the Ombudsman and the Senate blue ribbon committee had recommended him investigated “for possible anomalies committed while in office, during his work at the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel.”
The court did not say when and for how long Pangalangan worked at the state institution.
Initially handling the case, the IBP’s Commission on Bar Discipline ordered Pangalangan suspended for two years, giving a “stern warning” for him to reform.
But the IBP Board of Governors felt such penalty would let Pangalangan off easy: it amended the ruling in 2013, ordering the lawyer’s disbarment.
The case was elevated to the high court in November 2014.
“The court defined the issue as whether respondent had committed gross immoral conduct which would merit his disbarment. Resolving this, the Court agreed with the IBP and adopted its resolution,” read the summary of the ruling.
In upholding the IBP’s ruling, the high court also cited Pangalangan’s absence during proceedings on his case.
“In all, Atty. Pangalangan displayed a deplorable arrogance by making a mockery out of the institution of marriage, and taking advantage of his legal skills by attacking the petition through technicalities and refusing to participate in the proceedings. His actions showed that he lacked the degree of morality required of him as a member of the bar, thus warranting the penalty of disbarment,” the court said in its ruling.—Tarra Quismundo
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