Baseless but damaging complaint
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - August 30, 2019 - 12:00am

The complaint for disbarment of a lawyer is an administrative and disciplinary action that has grave and serious consequences to the lawyer involved. It may even mean a deprivation of his means of livelihood and will render to naught all his efforts and years of academic studies to finish the law course and to be admitted to the Bar after hurdling the difficult Bar examinations. Hence said complaint must be based on facts and in accordance with law. This administrative case is an example of a baseless and indiscreet action against a lawyer.

This is the case of Atty. Panero, a practicing lawyer handling all kinds of cases for either of the parties involved. Among the cases he is handling for several complainants are the administrative and criminal charges for immorality and falsification of public document filed against Eddie, an employee of an educational institution. In retaliation, Eddie instigated the filing of the charge of libel against Atty. Panero for having written and published a letter addressed to the Secretary of Education and Culture, administratively charging him with falsification of official document. In the said case however Atty. Panero was acquitted by the Court of Appeals of the crime he was charged and convicted by the Regional Trial Court.

Subsequently however, a complaint for disbarment was also filed against Atty Panero by Bella who is the daughter of Lina, a client of Atty. Panero with several estafa cases. In said complaint Bella alleged that as counsel of her mother, Atty. Panero asked to have illicit relations with her as payment for his professional services, promising her that he would rent a house where she can stay as his paramour to be visited once a day. Bella also alleged that Atty. Panero told her that he would find ways and means to kill his wife so that they could legally get married. She also claimed in said complaint that Atty. Panero influenced her mother Lina to agree to the illicit relations with him as payment for his professional services. Hence Bella said that she had to sleep in another house of a friend so that she cannot be compelled to live as a paramour of Atty. Panero.

In answer, Atty Panero denied the truth of Bella’s complaint claiming that the charges have actually been instigated by Eddie who is Bella’s real paramour and against whom he filed the administrative and criminal charges for immorality and falsification of public document.

This complaint for disbarment filed by Bella was referred to the Solicitor General for investigation. After two hearings wherein Bella failed to appear, the Solicitor General proceeded with the investigation. After the investigation, the Solicitor General recommended the dismissal of the disbarment complaint using as bases certain findings of the CA in the criminal case for libel filed by Eddie against Atty. Panero, particularly the following:

The un-rebutted testimony of Lina, Bella’s mother which was corroborated by Bella’s sister, that Bella is really the paramour of Eddie and that Atty. Panero did not really make advances against her daughter;

Bella’s letter to her mother and her sisters showing that Eddie and not Atty. Panero who is living in with her and that she was remorseful of what she had done to her family;

The repeated revelations of Bella, in her said letter, which she admitted in her testimony before the lower court that Eddie is crazy and exerted such overwhelming influence and control over her, such that she could not even leave their house.

So the SC dismissed the administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Panero as recommended by the Solicitor General. (Langbid vs. Tiangco, A.M. Case No. 1251. July 29, 1983)

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