Ex-Magdalo counsel, another lawyer slapped with 3-year suspension
THE Supreme Court has suspended for three years the former counsel for the Magdalo soldiers and another lawyer for violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Suspended for three years are Atty. Rose Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles and Atty. Wylie Paler.
The suspension will take effect once the high court’s decision becomes final.
Cruz-Angeles used to represent a group of Magdalo soldiers as well as former Iglesia ni Cristo worker Lowell Menorca and recently, road rage suspect Vhon Martin Tanto.
At a press conference, high court’s Information Chief Atty. Theodore Te said the SC has required both Cruz-Angeles and Paler to return to the complainant the P350,000 legal fees they received within 90 days.
“Failure to comply will warrant the imposition of a heavier penalty,” Te said quoting pa ortion of the high court’s ruling.
A complaint was filed against Cruz-Angeles, Paler and Atty. Angeles Grandea for receiving P350,000 as legal fees to handle an annulment case.
Despite follow-ups, the complainant said no petition for annulment was filed. The complainant said the lawyers gave various reasons why they failed to file the petition.
Complainant demanded the return of the legal fees but the lawyers refused. Instead, the complainant said he received a P45,000 billing statement for consultancy fee.
Cruz-Angeles admitted receiving P350,000 but denied she was remiss in her duties.
She said the delay in the filing of the petition was due to the complainant’s failure to give the address of his estranged wife and present sufficient evidence.
Paler, on the other hand, moved for the dismissal of the case, saying it was only filed to avoid payment of attorney’s fees.
Investigating Committee of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) found Cruz-Angeles and Paler administratively liable and recommended a four-month suspension from the practice of law.
The recommendation was adopted by the IBP Board of Governors.
The Supreme Court has adopted the IBP recommendation but opted to impose a higher penalty of three years.
Cruz-Angeles, in her Facebook posts, said she will not argue the merits of her case but maintained that she was not accorded due process.
“However, I am an officer of the court and subject to it’s disciplines. I am also subject to the legal system. And I believe in that system. Even if it fails individuals, I do not believe that it fails society. Though it can stand improvement, there is no better way yet,” she said.
“Thus, while I will leave the decision on possible future action on my case to my partner, Atty. Ahmedy Paglinawan, I accept that the Supreme Court has the power to discipline the members of the Bar, and I will cast no aspersions on any member of the judiciary or the High Court pertaining to this matter. They do what they have to do, in light of what comes before them. I believe that all are men and women of great integrity. I believe in the IBP and it’s members. We are flawed human beings, but in general, the Bar is composed of upright people,” Cruz-Angeles added.
While completing the penalty imposed by the high court, she said “I will go on to do other things. And continue to write, to teach and to do my best for my country.”
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