SC disbars lawyer who claimed connections with Makati prosecutor
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) has disbarred two lawyers — one who said he had the capacity to bribe Court of Appeals (CA) justices and another who claimed to have connections with a city prosecutor’s office — for violating several sections of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).
Separate statements from SC dated and posted on their website on February 23 showed that SC ordered that the names of Atty. William delos Santos and Atty. Carlo Marco Bautista be stricken off the Roll of Attorneys.
The SC in a per curiam decision ordered the removal of Bautista’s name from the Roll of Attorneys after he assured a client that he has connections with the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office, in a case that was pending before the sourt.
The complainant, whose father had a pending case before the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office alleged that Bautista acted as a fixer, asking for sums of money amounting to P13.3 million to influence the prosecutors.
However, the complainant’s father still lost the case, prompting him to file an administrative complaint before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines – Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD).
“Lim claimed he issued checks to Bautista which the former encashed. Lim’s father lost the case despite Bautista’s repeated assurances and the money paid in favor of the respondent and his supposed contacts. The IBP-CBD recommended that Bautista be disbarred after finding Bautista guilty of Canons 1, 15 to 20 of the CPR, and the Lawyer’s Oath for his unlawful, dishonest, and deceitful conduct, making him unfit to practice law,” SC said.
“Concurring with the findings of the IBP-CBD, the Supreme Court held that there was substantial evidence presented to convince the Court that the money was exchanged in consideration of the legal services of Bautista and for the mobilization of the latter’s contacts at the national prosecution service,” SC added.
Aside from being held liable for violations of Canons 15, 17, 18, and 19 of the CPR, SC said that Bautista also violated Rules 1.01 of Canon 1 of the CPR, which deals with “engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct”, and Rule 1.02 which states that “a lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system.”
Furthermore, SC said Bautista also went against Rule 16.04 of Canon 16 of the CPR when he borrowed money from the client amounting to P300,000. Rule 16.04 considers the “lawyer’s act of borrowing money from a client as unethical.”
“The Court reiterated that the lawyer’s act of influence-peddling for implying that he is able to influence any public official, tribunal or legislative body erodes the public’s trust and confidence in the legal system and puts the administration of the justice in a bad light,” SC noted.
Meanwhile, Delos Santos’ case stemmed from a drug-related case where he was tapped by the mother of the respondent to be their counsel. According to the SC, the then-lawyer asked the mother to produce P160,000 to bribe the justices of CA’s fifteenth division, where the appeal to the drug case was being heard.
“Sometime in 2015, Delos Santos coaxed (the mother) to produce an additional payment of ₱160,000.00, which he claimed would be used to “bribe” the Justices of the Fifteenth Division of the CA, where (the suspect’s) case was pending. Delos Santos was able to persuade (the mother) by insisting that it was the only option she had to obtain a favorable judgment for her son,” SC said.
“Relying on this guarantee, (she) borrowed money from her friends and relatives to raise the amount. Following Delos Santos’ instructions, she deposited a total of ₱160,000.00 in a Banco De Oro Savings Account under the name of Delos Santos’ wife. Upon receiving the amount, Delos Santos reassured (her) that the money would be delivered to his insider or ‘facilitator’ within the Fifteenth Division of the CA,” SC added.
However, SC said that the CA still affirmed the conviction of the drug suspect, leading the mother of the respondent to file a disbarment case against the said lawyer.
“To (her) dismay, the Fifteenth Division of the CA affirmed her son’s conviction. She immediately called Delos Santos, who claimed ‘he did not know what happened’ since he had made ‘the necessary arrangement with the Justices including his facilitator inside the Court of Appeals.’ Delos Santos then promised Norma that he would return the money,” SC noted.
“However, he failed to do so, prompting her to file a complaint seeking for Delos Santos’ disbarment. The Supreme Court required Delos Santos to comment on the complaint. When he failed to comply, the Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation,” it added.
Associate Justice Japar Dimaampao penned the decision disbarring Delos Santos.