Lawyer’s claim he can ‘bribe’ CA justices leads to his disbarment

The Supreme Court (SC) ordered the disbarment of a lawyer who represented to his client that he could bribe justices of the Court of Appeals (CA) to reverse the judgment of conviction in an illegal drugs case.


Disbarred was Atty. William F. Delos Santos in a full court decision promulgated last Tuesday, Feb. 21, and written by Associate Justice Japar B. Dimaampao.

The summary of the case was provided to journalists by the SC’s public information office (PIO) since a copy of the decision was not available immediately.

The PIO said that the complaint against Delos Santos was filed by Norma F. Flores whose son was convicted by the Manila regional trial court (RTC) of sale and possession of illegal drugs.

Norma and his son, Mark, sought the legal services of Delos Santos who charged them P20,000 as acceptance fee and P5,000 for collation of court documents.

The PIO’s summary stated that “sometime in 2015, Delos Santos coaxed Norma to produce an additional payment of ₱160,000, which he claimed would be used to ‘bribe’ the Justices of the Fifteenth Division of the CA, where Mark’s case was pending.”

“Delos Santos was able to persuade Norma by insisting that it was the only option she had to obtain a favorable judgment for her son,” it said.

The PIO said that Norma relied on Delos Santos’ guarantee.  “Norma borrowed money from her friends and relatives to raise the amount,” it said.

“Following Delos Santos’ instructions, she deposited a total of ₱160,000 in a Banco De Oro Savings Account under the name of Delos Santos’ wife. Upon receiving the amount, Delos Santos reassured Norma that the money would be delivered to his insider or ‘facilitator’ within the Fifteenth Division of the CA,” it said.

“To Norma’s 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,’" it also said.

”Delos Santos then promised Norma that he would return the money. However, he failed to do so, prompting her to file a complaint seeking Delos Santos’ disbarment,” it added.

The PIO said that the SC required Delos Santos to comment on the complaint. When he failed to comply, the SC referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation, it said.

It also said that despite due notice, Delos Santos failed to attend the scheduled mandatory conference and submit the required pleadings. Thus, the IBP Investigating Commissioner found him liable for gross misconduct and recommended his disbarment from legal practice.

In the SC’s decision, the PIO said the court “noted Delos Santos’ previous suspension from the practice of law in Ong v. Atty. Delos Santos for serious misconduct and violations of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.”

“Hence, on account of his previous suspension and his evident violations of the Lawyer’s Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility in the present case, the Court stressed that he deserved no less than the ultimate penalty of disbarment,” it said.

It added that “the Court also ordered Delos Santos to return to Norma the amount of ₱160,000, with interest at the rate of 6% per annum.”