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VERLITA V. MERCULLO & RAYMOND VEDANO v. ATTY. MARIE FRANCES E.

RAMON +

In the period from 2002 to 2011, the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC)
sent several demand letters to Carmelite T. Vedaño[1] regarding her unpaid obligations secured
by the mortgage covering her residential property in Novaliches, Caloocan City.[2] To avoid the
foreclosure of the mortgage, Carmelita authorized her children, Verlita Mercullo and Raymond
Vedaño (complainants herein), to inquire from the NHMFC about the status of the obligations.
Verlita and Raymond learned that their mother's arrears had amounted to P350,000.00, and that
the matter of the mortgage was under the charge of respondent Atty. Ramon, but who was not
around at that time.

On June 20, 2012, Carmelita received a letter from the sheriff of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
in Caloocan City, stating that her property would be put up for auction in July 2013. Verlita and
Raymond thus went to the NHMFC to see the respondent, who advised them about their right to
redeem the property within one year from the foreclosure.[3]

In August 2013, Verlita and Raymond called up the respondent, and expressed their intention to
redeem the property by paying the redemption price. The latter agreed and scheduled an
appointment with them on August 30, 2013.

On August 30, 2013, the respondent arrived at the designated meeting place at around 1:30 p.m.,
carrying the folder that Verlita and Raymond had seen at the NHFMC when they inquired on the
status of their mother's property. After the respondent had oriented them on the procedure for
redemption, the complainants handed P350,000.00 to the respondent, who signed an
acknowledgment receipt.[4] The respondent issued two acknowledgment receipts for the
redemption price and for litigation expenses,[5] presenting to the complainants her NHMFC
identification card. Before leaving them, she promised to inform them as soon as the documents
for redemption were ready for their mother's signature.[6]

On September 4, 2013, the respondent met with Verlita and handed a letter[7] that she had signed,
along with the special power of attorney (SPA) for Carmelita's signature.

Verlita and Raymond went to the NHMFC on September 9, 2013 to follow up on the redemption,
but discovered that the respondent had already ceased to be connected with the NHMFC. On
September 20, 2013, they met with her at Branch 145 of the Regional Trial Court in Makati City
where she was attending a hearing. She informed them that the redemption was under process,
and that the certificate of redemption would be issued in two to three weeks time. [9]

After communicating through text messages with the respondent, Verlita and Raymond finally
went to see the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court in Caloocan City On November 27, 2013
to inquire on the status of the redemption. There, they discovered that the respondent had not
deposited the redemption price and had not filed the letter of intent for redeeming the property.[10]

On December 5, 2013, Verlita and Raymond again went to Branch 145 of the Regional Trial Court
in Makati City where the respondent had a hearing, and handed to her their demand letter
requiring her to return the amount she had received for the redemption.[11] She acknowledged the
letter and promised to return the money on December 16, 2013 by depositing the amount in
Verlita's bank account. However, she did not fulfill her promise and did not show up for her
subsequent scheduled hearings in Branch 145.[12]

With their attempts to reach the respondent being in vain, Verlita and Raymond brought their
disbarment complaint in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).

WHEREFORE, the Court FINDS and HOLDS ATTY . MARIE FRANCES E. RAMON guilty of
violating Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Lawyer's
Oath; SUSPENDS HER FROM THE PRACTICE OF LAW FOR A PERIOD OF FIVE YEARS
EFFECTIVE FROM NOTICE, with the STERN WARNING that any similar infraction in the future
will be dealt with more severely; ORDERS her to return to the complainants the sum of
P350,000.00 within 30 days from notice, plus legal interest of 6% per annum reckoned from the
finality of this decision until full payment; and DIRECTS her to promptly submit to this Court written
proof of her compliance within the same period of 30 days from notice of this decision.

COBALT RESOURCES v. ATTY. RONALD AGUADO +

In its Complaint,[1] CRI alleged that on March 5, 2010, a group of armed men, clad in vests bearing
the mark "PASG" and pretending to be agents of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG),
hi-jacked its delivery van which was then loaded with cellular phones worth P1.3 million; that
Dennis Balmaceda (Balmaceda), the driver of the delivery van, and his companions were all
forcibly taken away at gun point and were dropped at the Country Hill and Golf Club; that
Balmaceda called Antonio Angeles (Angeles), the Security Director of CRI, who immediately
reported the incident to the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation Detection Unit (PNP-
CIDU); that with the use of Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) Tracking Device installed in the
cellular phones, Angeles and the PNP-CIDU tracked down the location of the cellular phones to
be in front of Pegasus Bar along Quezon Avenue, Quezon City; that the PNP-CIDU, together with
Angeles proceeded to Pegasus Bar and found three (3) vehicles parked in front of the bar: (1)
Toyota Fortuner with Plate No. UNO-68 owned by Atty. Aguado, (2) Chevrolet Optra with Plate
No. ZDW-764 and (3) a motorcycle with Plate No. NK-1180; that when the PNP-CIDU approached
the vehicles, Anthony Palmes (Palmes) ran but he was chased by the police officers and was
arrested; that Atty. Aguado who was then standing in the reception area of Pegasus Bar was not
arrested as none of the police officers knew, at that time, of his participation in the crime; that the
PNP-CIDU searched the vehicles and found the cellular phones, the Identification Card (ID)
showing Atty. Aguado as Legal Consultant of the PASG, the Mission Order identifying Atty.
Aguado as the Assistant Team Leader, and a vest bearing the mark PASG.

CRI further averred that the men who hijacked its delivery van used the fake mission order when
it flagged down the delivery van; that the mission order identified Atty. Aguado as the assistant
team leader and authorized the armed men to seize CRTs cellular phones; that the PASG issued
a certification stating that the mission order was fake; that Atty. Aguado carried an ID bearing his
picture and name which showed that he was a PASG legal consultant; and that this ID was
likewise fake as evidenced by a certification issued by the PASG.

Based on the Sinumpaang Salaysay,[2] dated September 8, 2010, executed by Palmes, CRI
concluded that it was Atty. Aguado who prepared the fake mission order and masterminded the
crime as he was the one who conceived it and laid down the nitty-gritty details of its execution;
and that it was; he who recruited the armed men who actually executed the hijacking.

Eventually, two separate Informations for Robbery[3] and Caraapping[4] were filed against Atty.
Aguado and several others.

The Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR) explicitly mandates:

Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

Rule 1.02 - A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at
lessening confidence in the legal system.
WHEREFORE, Atty. Ronald C. Aguado is DISBARRED for gross misconduct and violation of
Rules 1.01 and 1.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and his name is
ordered STRICKEN OFF the roll of attorneys.

MA. CECILIA CLARISSA C v. ATTY. LEONARDO C. ADVINCULA +

In her complaint,[1] Dr. Advincula has averred that Atty. Advincula committed unlawful and immoral
acts;[2] that while Atty. Advincula was still married to her, he had extra-marital sexual relations with
Ma. Judith Ortiz Gonzaga (Ms. Gonzaga);[3] that the extra-marital relations bore a child in the
name of Ma. Alexandria Gonzaga Advincula (Alexandria);[4] that Atty. Advincula failed to give
financial support to their own children, namely: Ma. Samantha Paulina, Ma. Andrea Lana, and
Jose Leandro, despite his having sufficient financial resources;[5] that he admitted in the affidavit
of late registration of birth of Alexandria that he had contracted another marriage with Ms.
Gonzaga;[6] that even should Atty. Advincula prove that his declaration in the affidavit of late
registration of birth was motivated by some reason other than the fact that he truly entered into a
subsequent marriage with Ms. Gonzaga, then making such a declaration was in itself still
unlawful;[7] that siring a child with a woman other than his lawful wife was conduct way below the
standards of morality required of every lawyer;[8] that contracting a subsequent marriage while the
first marriage had not been dissolved was also an unlawful conduct;[9]that making a false
declaration before a notary public was an unlawful conduct punishable under the Revised Penal
Code;[10] and that the failure of Atty. Advincula to provide proper support to his children showed
his moral character to be below the standards set by law for every lawyer.[11] Dr. Advincula prayed
that Atty. Advincula be disbarred.[12]

Ruling of the Court

The good moral conduct or character must be possessed by lawyers at the time of their application
for admission to the Bar, and must be maintained until retirement from the practice of law. In this
regard, the Code of Professional Responsibility states:

Rule 1.01 — A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

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CANON 7 — A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession,
and support the activities of the Integrated Bar.

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Rule 7.03 — A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to
practice law, nor should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to
the discredit of the legal profession.
WHEREFORE, the Court FINDS AND DECLARES ATTY. LEONARDO C. ADVINCULA
GUILTY of immorality; and SUSPENDS him from the practice of law for a period of THREE
MONTHS EFFECTIVE UPON NOTICE HEREOF, with a STERN WARNING that a more severe
penalty shall be imposed should he commit the same offense or a similar offense; DIRECTS
ATTY. ADVINCULA to report the date of his receipt of the Decision to this Court;
and ORDERS the Chief of the Personnel Division of the National Bureau of Investigation to
implement the suspension from office of ATTY. ADVINCULA and to report on his compliance in
order to determine the date of commencement of his suspension from the practice of law.