MARIA ANGALAN, et al. vs. ATTY. LEONIDO C.

DELANTE

AC No. 7181

February 6, 2009

(en banc)

FACTS:

In April 1971, herein complainants mortgaged 8.102 hectares of their property to the Eustaquio
espouses in consideration of a loan in the amount of P15,000. The Eustaquios prepared a document
and sked the complainants to sign it; but because complainants were illiterates, they affixed their
marks instead. It turned out that the document was a deed of absolute sale and not a real estate
mortgage. Hence, TCT No. 9926 was issued in the name of Navarro Eustaquio.

Complainants engaged the services of respondent Atty. Leonido Delante in November 1971 as shown
in the receipt by respondent of P12,000 representing full payment of his professional fees from the
complainants. Thereafter, an amicable settlement was entered into between complainants and the
Eustaquios which stipulated that the complainants would repurchase the lot at P30,000. But since the
complainants did not have the money, Atty. Delante advanced the money to complainants, possessed
the property and gathered its produce.

When the complainants tried to repay the money and recover the property, Atty. Delante refused.
Complainants learned that Delante transferred the title of the property to his name as evidenced by
TCT No. T-57932.

On April 30, 2004, complainants filed with the RTC of Davao a complaint for (1) nullification of the
deed of absolute sale, and (2) nullification of TCT No. T-57932; and on December 28, 2005 charged
respondent with gross violation of the Code Professional Responsibilty. In April 2007, complainants
filed with the Court a motion to withdraw the complaint for disbarment and an affidavit of desistance.

ISSUES:

(1.) whether or not a motion to withdraw the complaint for disbarment and an affidavit of desistance
terminates the disbarment proceeding;

(2.) whether or not respondent committed grave violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility
when he bought the property of his clients without their consent and against their will.

Respondent should have been mindful of the trust and confidence complainants reposed in him. Instead of protecting the interests of complainants. T-9926 and returned the property to complainants upon demand. Section 27. Leonido C. Accordingly. withdrawal of charges.” 2. Canon 16 states that lawyers shall hold in trust all properties of their clients that may come into their possession. respondent (1) transferred the title of the property to his name. Complainants allege that they are illiterate and that the Spouses Eustaquio took advantage of them. Instead of holding in trust the property of complainants. or failure of the complainant to prosecute the same. settlement. Respondent should have held in trust TCT No. Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court states that. Violation of Canons 16 and 17 constitutes gross misconduct. Considering the depravity of respondent’s offense. the Court DISBARS him from the practice of law and ORDERS that his name be stricken from the Roll of Attorneys. Canon 17 states that lawyers shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in them. Complainants engaged the services of respondent in the hope that he would help them recover their property.HELD: 1. Delante GUILTY of violating Canons 16 and 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. A motion to withdraw the complaint for disbarment and an affidavit of desistance is immaterial. and (3) referred to complainants’ charges as malicious and untruthful. compromise.102-hectare property of his illiterate clients and who is incapable of telling the truth is unfit to be a lawyer. (2) refused to return the property to complainants. respondent took advantage of complainants and transferred the title of the property to his name. “No investigation shall be interrupted or terminated by reason of the desistance. Section 5. the Court finds the recommended penalty too light. restitution. . The Court finds Atty. A person who takes the 8. Respondent violated Canons 16 and 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Rule 138 of the Rules of Court states that a member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Court for gross misconduct.