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VILLANUEVA v STA.

ANA
CBD Case No. 251 – July 11, 1995
Per Curiam

Complainant: Adelina T. Villanueva


Respondent: Atty. Teresita Sta. Ana

Facts:
 In April 1992, Villanueva went to Sta. Ana to have documents notarized.
 Upon learning of Villanueva’s plans to procure a loan from a bank or lending institution, Sta. Ana
offered her services as attorney on the condition that Villanueva would put up land collateral and
provide a “guaranty deposit” of Php 150,000.
 Villanueva accepted and subsequently entrusted Php 144,000 and various documents (special
power of attorney, deed of sale, tax declaration, land title, etc.) to Sta. Ana.
 Sta. Ana later requested an additional amount of money for procedural matters. With that,
Villanueva decided to forego the loan and requested that Sta. Ana return all money given.
 Sta. Ana not only failed to comply with the request but also began to avoid Villanueva.
 Villanueva sought assistance from the Office of the Vice President, which referred the matter to
the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
 The NBI subpoenaed Sta. Ana twice but she failed to appear both times. It then recommended that
Sta. Ana be criminally charged with estafa and that disbarment proceedings be taken against her. It
transmitted the matter to the Commission on Bar Discipline (Commission) of the IBP.
 Through the course of the proceedings, the Commission discovered criminal charges filed against
Sta. Ana: estafa, falsification of public documents and violations of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act). After Sta. Ana’s failure to appear, the Commission recommended that
she be disbarred for being totally unfit to be a member of the legal profession.

Issue + Held:
1. W/N Sta. Ana should be disbarred – YES
o Good moral character is not only a condition precedent to an admission to the legal
profession. It must remain extant to maintain one’s good standing in such an exclusive and
honored profession.
o The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates the following:
 Rule 1.01 – A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct.
 Canon 16 – A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client
that may come into his possession.
 Rule 16.01 – A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or
received for or from the client.
o Sta. Ana was given all opportunity to defend and even just explain herself. However, she
failed to refute the charges filed against her. The Court has no choice but to accept the
findings and recommendations of the Commission.

Ruling:
Sta. Ana is DISBARRED. The Clerk of Court is directed to strike out her name from the Roll of Attorneys.