SC disbars ex-NHMFC official for ‘sextortion’
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - January 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) has disbarred a lawyer – a former vice president of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. (NHMFC) – after he was found to have abused his authority to gain sexual favors from his secretary nearly 20 years ago.

Antonio de los Reyes, who held the post of vice president of the NHMFC’s legal and administrative group, “is guilty of ‘sextortion,’ which is the abuse of his position or authority to obtain sexual favors from his subordinate, the complainant, his unwilling victim who was not in a position to resist respondent’s demands for fear of losing her means of livelihood,” the SC said in a statement issued yesterday.

In a 15-page per curiam decision promulgated on Sept. 18, 2018, the SC said that in 1999, the secretary “became his sex slave who was at his beck and call at all times for all kinds of sexual services” in his vehicle and in his office. The abuse lasted years.

“She could not even refuse him without risking physical, verbal and emotional abuse,” according to the decision, which noted that the secretary was her family’s sole breadwinner.

The High Court said De Los Reyes’ “actions show that he lacks the degree of morality required of him as a member of the legal profession, thus warranting the penalty of disbarment.” 

De los Reyes’ gross misbehavior, even if it pertains to his private activities, “shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor. Possession of good moral character is not only a prerequisite to admission to the bar but also a continuing requirement to the practice of law,” the SC said.

The High Court found De los Reyes guilty of gross immoral conduct and violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 and Rule 7.03, Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. It also ordered his name stricken from the Roll of Attorneys.

Rule 1.01 states that “(a) lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct,” while Rule 7.03 mandates that “(a) lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.” 

The SC also said that it adopted the findings and conclusions of the Investigating Commissioner, as sustained by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Board of Governors. 

However, the SC said that the IBP’s recommended penalty of indefinite suspension from the practice of law was not commensurate with the gravity of the acts committed by De los Reyes.

NATIONAL HOME MORTGAGE FINANCE CORP. SUPREME COURT
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