School lawyer faces IBP inquiry
AFTER being censured by a judge, lawyer Romeo Balili has to face his peers in the legal profession.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City chapter yesterday said they will discuss the request of Regional Trial Court Judge Wilfredo Navarro to impose sanctions on Balili.
The request came after Balili’s client St. Theresa’s College High School defied a March 28 temporary restraining order (TRO) that would have allowed two high school students to attend last Friday’s graduation ceremonies.
In a separate interview, Balili said he will wait for the IBP to ask him to explain his side.
“I have not committed anything (wrong). It is my duty to protect my clients,” Balili said.
Last Monday, three STC students filed a new complaint for unjust vexation against the school officials before the Cebu City Prosecutors’ Office.
The case came on the heels of another criminal case filed against STC last week for grave oral defamation in relation to the Anti-Child Abuse Law (Republic Act 7610) and violation of the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009 (Republic Act 9995).
Lawyer Cornelio Mercado, who represented the girls, said the Commission on Human Rights called up the parents of the students so the agency could look into the issue.
Parents of the students sued STC, its principal and four teacher for damages last week for barring the girls from the commencement exercise as punishment for violating school rules on drinking alcohol in public and posting “lewd” bikini photos in their Facebook accounts.
IBP Cebu City chapter president Earl Bonachita said he will convene the board next week to discuss Judge Navarro’s request.
If they find grounds to investigate, Bonachita said they will endorse the case to the IBP Board of Governors, a national body, which is authorized to investigate erring lawyers.
Judge Navarro inhibited from hearing the STC case after blaming Balili for “misleading” his client and making a “mockery” of his temporary restraining order.
The nine-member IBP board of governors is headed by the national president and decide on sanctions that can range from admonition to suspension.
Bonachita said lawyers are bound to respect and obey a ruling of the court.
“Otherwise, we violate the Oath of Lawyers to obey lawful (orders) of the court,” he said.
Last Monday, Judge Navarro decided to voluntarily inhibit from handling the STC case.
He said Balili raised “glaringly ridiculous reasons or grounds” that convinced STC to defy his order to allow the students to attend last Friday’s graduation.
Balili, in a press conference, said STC didn’t comply with the temporary restraining order because the school had a pending motion for reconsideration and the judge had failed to order the plaintiff to put up a bond to answer for possible damages.
He cited section four, paragraph B, Rule 58 of the Rules of Court that states that “unless exempted by the court, the applicant files with the court a bond” in an amount to be fixed by the judge as payment in case of damages sustained by the defendants due to the injunction or TRO.
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