By Rey Panaligan
In a span of three days this week, the Supreme Court (SC) has disbarred another lawyer, also for gross misconduct.
Deleted from the Roll of Attorneys was Elmer A. Dela Rosa who breached his fiduciary duties to his client in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). He was found guilty of gross misconduct.
Last Monday, the SC announced the disbarment of Amador B. Peleo III for his failure to provide support to his minor son and for falsifying the entries in his son’s birth certificate, among other violations of the CPR. He was found guilty of gross unlawful, dishonest and deceitful conduct.
In the case of Dela Rosa, the SC said:
“He has been warned the first time; he has not made amends to undo the consequences of his indiscretions and greed this second time. He was punished with three years of suspension, but to no avail, as no sooner could he complete the service of the penalty than he is again before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the Court reviewing his actuations.”
A press statement issued by the SC’s public information office (PIO) stated that “Atty. Dela Rosa, who has been suspended from the practice of law for three years effective Sept. 26, 2016 for borrowing a substantial amount of money from his client, is again caught up in a similar situation involving substantial amounts of money affecting this time his client – a cooperative and its farmer-beneficiaries.”
The PIO’s case summary stated that in 1997, the Palalan CARP Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative hired Dela Rosa in a civil case involving the annulment of a Transfer Certificate of Title over a 111.4 hectares land in Barangay Lumbia, Cagayan De Oro City.
It said that in 2002, the Cooperative executed a special power of attorney (SPA) authorizing Dela Rosa to do certain acts but revoked the same in 2007. Despite the revocation of the SPA, Dela Rosa still brokered the sale of the property. Dela Rosa did not dispute that he processed the sale and paid the farmer-beneficiaries their respective shares in the purchase price.
The case summary also stated that “the IBP-Board of Governors concluded that Dela Rosa preferred to protect his own personal pecuniary interest over the interest of his client and its members, and recommended the extreme penalty of disbarment.”
The SC ruled:
“Dela Rosa had proven himself disloyal to his client ─ exploitative, untrustworthy, and a double-dealer.
“The client did not know who the buyer was when the land had been sold. Dela Rosa acted to protect the buyer’s interest, and in all likelihood, his as well. The client did not know and still does not know how much was actually paid for the land.
“Money flowed from an account set up by Dela Rosa himself and although under the Cooperative’s name, Dela Rosa alone had access to it. The cash proceeds of the sale have not been accounted for to this date.
“Undoubtedly, a violation of the high moral standards of the legal profession justifies the imposition of the appropriate penalty, including suspension and disbarment.”