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Joselano Guevarra v. Atty.

Jose Emmanuel Eala


A.C. No. 7136
1 August 2007
TOPIC: Duty to Society - Respect for law and legal processes
PETITIONER:
RESPONDENT:

Joselano Guevarra
Atty. Jose Emmanuel Eala

FACTS:
Complainant Joselano Guevarra first met respondent Atty. Eala when his then-fiance Irene Moje introduced
Eala to him as a friend.
Atty. Eala, at that time, was married to Marianne Tantoco with home he had three children.
After their marriage on October 7, 2000, Guevarra noticed that Irene was receiving from Atty. Eala cellphone
calls and messages, some of which read I love you, I miss you, and Meet you at the Megamall.
He also noticed that his wife often went home very late at night and at times did not go home at all after
work.
On two occasions, Guevarra saw Irene and Atty. Eala together. On the second instance, he confronted them
following which Irene abandoned the conjugal house.
A few months after, Guevarra went uninvited to Irenes birthday celebration at which he saw her and Atty.
Eala celebrating with her family and friends. Out of embarrassment, anger and humiliation, he left the venue
immediately.
Guevarra later found in their house a folded social card bearing the words I love you on its face. He unfolded
the card and saw a handwritten letter dated 7 October 2007, the day of his wedding to Irene, reading:
o My everdearest Irene,
o By the time you open this, youll be moments away from walking down the aisle. I will say a prayer for
you that you may find meaning in what youre about to do.
o Sometimes I wonder why we ever met. Is it only for me to find fleeting happiness but experience
eternal pain? Is it only for us to find a true love but then lose it again? Or is it because theres a bigger
plan for the two of us?
o I hope that you have experience true happiness with me. I have done everything humanly possible to
love you. And today, as you make your vows I make my own to you.
o I will love you for the rest of my life. I loved you from the first time I laid eyes on you, to the time we
spent together, up to the final moments of your single life. But more importantly, I will love you until
the life in me is gone and until we are together again.
o Do not worry about me! I will be happy for you. I have enough memories of us to last me a lifetime.
Always remember thought that in my heart, in my mind, and in my soul, you will always and the
wonderful things you do.. be mine.. and mine alone, and I will always be yours and yours alone..
o I love you forever, I love you for always. As long as Im living my tweetie youll be
o Eternally yours,
o Noli
Guevarra later leant that Irene was already cohabitating with Atty. Eala and that she was pregnant.
This prompted Guevarra to file with the IBP a disbarment complaint against Atty. Eala for grossly immoral
conduct and unmitigated violation of the lawyers oath.
In his defense, Atty. Eala admitted that he had a relationship with Irene but he insisted that disbarment does
not lie because such relationship was not under scandalous circumstances as the same was low-profile,
known only to the immediate members of their respective families.
The investigating Commissioner recommended that he be disbarred for immoral conduct.
The IBP Board of Governors, however, ruled to dismiss the complaint for lack of merit.
Thus, Guevarra elevated the case to the Supreme Court.
ISSUE(S):
1. WON Atty. Eala is guilty of grossly immoral conduct and should thus be dismissed.

RULING: Petition GRANTED. Atty. Eala DISBARRED for grossly immoral conduct, violation of his oath of office, and
violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Rule 138, Section 27 of the Revised Rule of Court provides that a member of the bar may be disbarred or
suspended for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct,
or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the lawyers
oath, or for a willful disobedience appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to
do.
The Rule, which provides the grounds for disbarment or suspension, uses the phrase grossly immoral
conduct, not under scandalous circumstances.
Whether a lawyers sexual congress with a woman, not his wife or without the benefit of marriage should
be characterized as grossly immoral conduct depends on the surrounding circumstances.
The case at bar involves a relationship whether the affair was carried out discreetly.
In the case of Vitug v. Rongcal, the Court likewise disagreed with respondents contention that his extramarital affair with complainant, albeit brief and discreet, was not so corrupt and false as to constitute a
criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree in order to merit disciplinary
sanction.
As pronounced by the Court in Vitug, the mere fact of sexual relations between two unmarried adults is
not sufficient to warrant administrative sanction for such illicit behavior but it is not so with respect to
betrayals of the marital vow of fidelity.
Even if not all forms of extra-marital relations are punishable under penal law, sexual relations outside
marriage is considered disgraceful and immoral as it manifests deliberate disregard of the sanctity of
marriage and the marital vows protected by the Constitution and affirmed by our laws.
The question of whether or not Atty. Eala contracted a bigamous marriage need not be addressed by the
Court in disbarment proceedings. It is enough that the records of the administrative case substantiate the
findings of the IBP, i.e., that indeed Eala has been carrying an illicit affair with a married woman, a grossly
immoral conduct and indicative of an extremely low regard for the fundamental ethics of his profession.
Atty. Eala in fact also violated the lawyers oath he took before admission to practice law.
Furthermore, he violated Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which
proscribes a lawyer from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct, and Rule 7.03
of Canon 7 of the same Code which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in any conduct that adversely
reflects on his fitness to practice law.
That the marriage between Guevarra and Irene was subsequently declared void ab initio is immaterial.
The acts complained of took place before the marriage was declared null and void.
As a lawyer, Atty. Eala should be aware that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and
wife are presumed, unless proven otherwise, to have entered into a lawful contract of marriage.
In carrying on an extra-marital affair with Irene prior to the judicial declaration that her marriage with
Guevarra was null and void, and despite Atty. Eala himself being married, he showed disrespect for an
institution held sacred by the law.