SC clears 2 lawyers of disbarment suit

Published January 5, 2021, 9:45 AM

by Rey Panaligan 

Two lawyers have been cleared of their disbarment complaint by the Supreme Court (SC) for lack of substantial evidence.


Cleared in a resolution released late last month were lawyers Edgardo V. Cruz and Rogelio S. Constantino.

The SC adopted the recommendation of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to dismiss the disbarment complaint filed against Cruz and Constantino by Ricardo Minerva.

The disbarment complaint arose from an unlawful detainer case before the Malabon City metropolitan trial court (MeTC) between Andres Gabriel, Cruz’s client, and Minerva.

In the case of Constantino, the complaint alleged that the lawyer was not commissioned as a notary public when documents were presented to him for notarization and that the party in the notarized documents was not personally present when the documents were notarized.

The SC said:

“The Court has always held that lawyers enjoy the presumption of innocence and the complainant must prove the allegations in his complaint through substantial evidence.

“Here, it was aptly found by the IBP that Atty. Cruz merely performed his duties to protect the interests of his client, Andres Gabriel….

“There was no evidence of collusion or connivance with court personnel in obtaining a favorable judgment from the MeTC. On the contrary, the records show that proceedings were in accordance with the Revised Rules on Summary Procedure, with Minerva actively participating through the submission of pleadings.

“Neither was there proof of irregularities in Atty. Cruz’s application for the issuance of a writ of execution. The execution of judgment pending appeal, upon the defendant’s failure to pay rental payments for the use and occupation of the property, is an appropriate remedy under Section 19, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court.

“Clearly, Atty. Cruz only fulfilled his duty as a lawyer to defend his client’s cause with utmost zeal, pursuant to Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.”

In Constantino’s case, the SC said:

“… the IBP is likewise correct in finding this allegation unmeritorious. Minerva himself attached the Certification from the Office of the Clerk of Court, stating that Atty. Constantino was a duly commissioned notary public for the year 2013 to 2014….

“Thus, at the time the Special Power of Attorney (SPA) was notarized on March 1, 2014, Atty. Constantino possessed the necessary commission. The allegation that the SPA was notarized without competent evidence of identity is likewise readily disproved by the SPA itself, which indicates that Gabriel presented his Senior Citizen ID.

“Minerva’s allegation in his complaint is therefore totally unsubstantiated. In all, the Court agrees with the IBP’ s findings that the complaint should be dismissed.”

In a decision also released last month and written by Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, the SC had warned against the filing of “malicious suits” against lawyers as it declared that it will wield its power to disbar only “when substantial evidence would prove the lack of fitness to engage in the practice of law.”

The SC said: “The primary purpose of administrative disciplinary proceedings against delinquent lawyers is to uphold the law and to prevent the ranks of the legal profession from being corrupted by unscrupulous practices –not to shelter or nurse a wounded ego.”