SC disbars recidivist lawyer

Published October 31, 2020, 2:45 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

After repeated suspensions and warnings for past wrongdoings to clients, the Supreme Court has disbarred a lawyer for committing another offense, this time refusing to pay the amortization of the house and lot he acquired he from a government employee whose debt ballooned to around P3 million with the Government Service Insurance System as a result.

In a nine-page decision promulgated on Oct. 6, the SC en banc ruled to disbar Atty. Glicerio Sampana from the practice of law.

The SC adopted the findings of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) which investigated the complaint of National Food Authority (NFA) employee Wilfredo Caballero and recommended the six-month suspension of Sampana.

“The Court, however, finds the recommended penalty of six-month suspension from the practice of law too lenient. Given the circumstances, respondent Atty. Glicerio A. Sampana deserves the ultimate penalty of disbarment,” ruled the High Tribunal.

“This is not respondent’s first infraction as a member of the Bar,” the SC said.

The SC cited it previously suspended Sampana for one year from the practice of law over “his double sale of a parcel of land” and was given “a warning that a repetition of a similar act shall be dealt with more severely.”

Less than a year later, the SC said “respondent was again penalized” for having kept and never returned, despite repeated demands, the payment made by a client for the filing of the petition of adoption which Sampana failed to accomplish.

For this, Sampana was “suspended from the practice of law for three  years, with a stern warning that a repetition of a similar act shall be dealt with more severely.”

“Considering his previous infractions, respondent should have adhered to the tenets of his profession with exceptional vigilance. He did not. On the contrary, his recent transgression is indicative of his propensity to commit unethical and improper acts that diminish thy public’s trust and confidence in lawyers in general. Respondent proved himself undeserving of membership in the Philippine Bar. His disbarment is consequently warranted,” the High Tribunal declared.

In the case filed by Caballero, the SC said that the NFA employee and Sampana “entered into a Deed of Transfer of Right over complainant’s house and lot wherein he obligated himself to assume the remaining financial obligations of the complainant to the GSIS.” 

However, the High Court said that “in spite of complainant’s repeated reminders and requests, respondent reneged on his obligation and failed to settle the remaining programmed installments in favor of GSIS, eventually leading to the rescission of the Deed of Transfer of Right and massive financial liabilities on the part of the complainant.”

The SC cited that Caballero’s P216,000 real estate loan ballooned to unpaid obligations amounting to P2,980,183.80 as of Aug. 31, 2014.

The High Tribunal did not believe the defense of Sampana who said “he accepted complainant’s offer to transfer the rights of the housing unit to him in his desire to help the latter, who was in need of money and was looking for another house to move in, but with the understanding that it was complainant himself who would still continue to pay the P2,584.44 monthly amortization of the property.”

“The Court finds this claim completely absurd, as complainant chose to transfer his rights over the property for the exact reason he was experiencing financial difficulties,” the SC stressed.

“Had complainant been capable of paying the scheduled monthly amortizations, there would have been no reason for him to transfer the rights over the property to the respondent,” it added.

The SC pointed out that Sampana “has been benefitting from the property by leasing the same and collecting rent from the tenants, at the expense of the complainant.”

The High Tribunal noted that Sampana maintained that the failure to pay the monthly amortizations was “due to honest inadvertance and unintentional oversight” and even blamed Caballero for not sending the GSIS notices even though the complainant did.