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ChanRobles Internet Bar Review : ChanRobles Professional Review, Inc.




A Survey of the 2009-2010 Cases in Legal


Ethics Penned by Justice Roberto A. Abad1


COMPILED BY:

Prof. Erickson H. Balmes

Heavenly FATHER
Please Fill in the GA
A PS
Please Fill the BLANKS!
Amen

I. CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY


On January 11, 2001 complainant Atty. Bonifacio T. Barandon, Jr.
filed a complaint-affidavit with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) seeking the disbarment,
suspension from the practice of law, or imposition of appropriate
disciplinary action against respondent Atty. Edwin Z. Ferrer, Sr. for filing a
reply with opposition to motion to dismiss that contained abusive,
offensive and improper language which insinuated that Atty. Barandon
presented a falsified document in court. The said document purported to
be a notarized document executed at a date when Atty. Barandon was not
yet a lawyer.
Moreover, on December 19, 2000, Atty. Ferrer, evidently drunk,
threatened Atty. Barandon saying, Laban kung laban, patayan kung
patayan, kasama ang lahat ng pamilya. Wala na palang magaling na
abogado sa Camarines Norte, ang abogado na rito ay mga taga-Camarines
Sur, umuwi na kayo sa Camarines Sur, hindi kayo taga-rito at the
Municipal Trial Court in Daet before the start of a hearing.
The Court had warned Atty. Ferrer in his first disbarment case
against repeating his unethical act; yet he faces a disbarment charge for

1
CHAIRPERSON, 2011 Bar Examinations
i Member, Law Faculty, San Sebastian College, University of Batangas, Far Eastern University,
University of the East, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Philippine Christian University.
i Bar Reviewer in Legal Ethics and Commercial Law, Recoletos Review Center, Jurist Bar Review
Center, Cosmopolitan Review Center, University of Pangasinan Bar Review Center, Baguio
Powerhaus Review Center, Legal Advantage Bar Review Center, CPRS BAR REVIEW CENTER.
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sexual harassment of an office secretary of the IBP Chapter in Camarines


Norte; a related criminal case for acts of lasciviousness; and criminal
cases for libel and grave threats that Atty. Barandon filed against him.
On October 10, 2001 Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San
Juan of the IBP-CBD submitted to this Court a Report, recommending the
suspension for two years of Atty. Ferrer. The Investigating Commissioner
found enough evidence on record to prove Atty. Ferrers violation of
Canons 8.01 and 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He
attributed to Atty. Barandon, as counsel in Civil Case 7040, the
falsification of the plaintiffs affidavit despite the absence of evidence that
the document had in fact been falsified and that Atty. Barandon was a
party to it. The Investigating Commissioner also found that Atty. Ferrer
uttered the threatening remarks imputed to him in the presence of other
counsels, court personnel, and litigants before the start of hearing. On
June 29, 2002 the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution adopting and
approving the Investigating Commissioners recommendation but reduced
the penalty of suspension to only one year.
WHETHER OR NOT THE IBP BOARD OF GOVERNORS AND THE IBP
INVESTIGATING COMMISSIONER ERRED IN FINDING RESPONDENT
GUILTY OF THE CHARGES AGAINST HIM AND IF THE PENALTY
IMPOSED WAS JUSTIFIED.
The Supreme Court examined the records of this case and finds no
reason to disagree with the findings and recommendation of the IBP Board
of Governors and the Investigating Commissioner.
The practice of law is a privilege given to lawyers who meet the high
standards of legal proficiency and morality.
Any violation of these
standards exposes the lawyer to administrative liability.
Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility commands all
lawyers to conduct themselves with courtesy, fairness and candor towards
their fellow lawyers and avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel.
Atty. Ferrers actions do not measure up to this Canon. The evidence
shows that he imputed to Atty. Barandon the falsification of an affidavit
without evidence that the document had indeed been falsified. Moreover,
Atty. Ferrer could have aired his charge of falsification in a proper forum
and without using offensive and abusive language against a fellow lawyer.
The Court has constantly reminded lawyers to use dignified language in
their pleadings despite the adversarial nature of our legal system.
Atty. Ferrer had likewise violated Canon 7 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility which enjoins lawyers to uphold the dignity and integrity of
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the legal profession at all times. Several disinterested persons confirmed


Atty. Ferrers drunken invectives at Atty. Barandon shortly before the start
of a court hearing and Atty. Ferrer failed to show convincing evidence
denying the said charge against him.
All lawyers should take heed that they are licensed officers of the
courts who are mandated to maintain the dignity of the legal profession,
hence they must conduct themselves honorably and fairly. Atty. Ferrers
display of improper attitude, arrogance, misbehavior, and misconduct in
the performance of his duties both as a lawyer and officer of the court,
before the public and the court, was a patent transgression of the very
ethics that lawyers are sworn to uphold. Consequently, the penalty of
suspension of one from the practice of law is deemed just and proper
(ATTY. BONIFACIO T. BARANDON, JR. Vs. ATTY. EDWIN Z. FERRER,
SR., A.C. No. 5768, MARCH 26, 2010).

II.CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT


1.
On April 8, 2006 complainant Roland Ernest Marie Jose Spelmans
(Spelmans), a Belgian, filed before the Office of the Ombudsman,
Mindanao, a complaint for theft and graft and corruption against
respondent Municipal Trial Court (MTC) Judge Gaydifredo Ocampo (Judge
Ocampo) of Polomolok, South Cotabato.
Spelmans alleged in his affidavit that in 2002 his wife, Annalyn Villan
(Villan), filed a complaint for theft against Joelito Rencio (Rencio) and his
wife from whom Spelmans rented a house in Polomolok, South Cotabato.
Spelmans claimed, however, that this complaint was but his wifes scheme
for taking out his personal properties from that house. In the course of
the investigation of the complaint, Judge Ocampo, together with the
parties, held an ocular inspection of that rented house and another one
where Spelmans kept some of the personal belongings of his late mother.
During the ocular inspection, Judge Ocampo allegedly took pieces of
antique, including a marble bust of Spelmans mother, a flower pot, a
statue, Oakwood chairs and other items. In the meantime, the Bureau of
Immigration happened to detain Spelmans in Manila and let him free only
on January 28, 2003.
The Ombudsman, Mindanao, referred Spelmans complaint against
Judge Ocampo to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA). In his
comment of August 8, 2006, Judge Ocampo denied the charge, pointing
out that Spelmans wife, Villan (the complainant in that theft case), gave
him certain household items for safekeeping before she filed the case of
theft against Rencio. On August 28, 2002, however, after conducting a
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preliminary investigation in the case, Judge Ocampo dismissed Villans


complaint.
Only in 2006, according to Judge Ocampo, when he received a copy
of Spelmans complaint for grave misconduct did he learn of the couples
separation and his unwitting part in their legal battles. As a last note,
Judge Ocampo said that instead of hurling baseless accusations at him,
Spelmans should have thanked him because he kept his personal
properties in good condition.
On October 17, 2006 OCA found Judge Ocampo guilty of committing
acts of impropriety and maintaining close affinity with a litigant in violation
of Canons 1 and 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine
Judiciary.
Since, under Rule 140 of the Revised Rules of Court, as
amended, a violation of Supreme Court rules, directives, and circulars
constitutes a less serious charge, punishable either with suspension or
fine, the OCA recommended the imposition of a fine of P5,000.00 on Judge
Ocampo with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act
shall be dealt with more severely.
WHETHER OR NOT THE ACT OF A JUDGE IN TAKING AND KEEPING
PERSONAL ITEMS BELONGING TO A LITIGANT IN HIS COURT
CONSTITUTES A VIOLATION OF THE NEW CODE OF JUDICIAL
CONDUCT.
While the OCA correctly found respondent judge liable for his actions,
the OCA however, erred in charging him an offense falling merely under
Section 11(B), in relation to Section 9(4) of Rule 140, as amended, which
is a less serious charge of violation of Supreme Court rules, punishable by
either suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less
than one nor more than three months or a fine of more than P10,000.00
but not exceeding P20,000.00. Respondent judge should instead be made
accountable for gross misconduct constituting violations of the New Code
of Judicial Conduct, specifically Section 6 of Canon 1, Section 1 of Canon
2, and Section 1 of Canon 4.
Judge Ocampo's
unsatisfactory.

defenses

on

the

charges

against

him

were

The following may be gleaned from evidence presented.


Judge
Ocampo does not deny that he conducted an ocular inspection of the
houses that Spelmans used in Polomolok. But the purpose of this ocular
inspection is suspect. Judge Ocampo did not explain what justified it.
Also, If Judge Ocampo's claims that the subject properties were entrusted
to him by Spelmans' wife are true, it would constitute trust relations
between them and should have prompted Judge Ocampo to inhibit himself
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from hearing the case. Moreover, by his admission, Judge Ocampo


returned the items only after four years when Spelmans already filed a
complaint against him. He makes no claim that he made a previous effort
to return those supposedly entrusted items either to Villan or to Spelmans.
His years of possession obviously went beyond mere safekeeping.
From the circumstances, his acts were motivated by malice. He was
not a warehouseman for personal properties of litigants in his court. He
certainly would have kept Spelmans properties had the latter not filed a
complaint against him. He was guilty of covetousness. It affected the
performance of his duties as an officer of the court and tainted the
judiciarys integrity. He should be punished accordingly.
The Court finds respondent Judge GUILTY of gross misconduct and
IMPOSES on him the penalty of SUSPENSION from office without salary
and other benefits for six (6) months. (ROLAND ERNEST MARIE JOSE
SPELMANS Vs. JUDGE GAYDIFREDO T. OCAMPO, MUNICIPAL TRIAL
COURT, POLOMOLOK, SOUTH COTABATO, A.M. No. MTJ-07-1663,
March 26, 2010).

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