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Donton v. Atty. Tansingco, A.C. No. 6057, June 27, 2006

Facts:

Peter Donton filed a complaint against Atty. Emmanuel Tansingco, as the notary public who notarized the Occupancy Agreement, and against others (Duane Stier, and Emelyn Manggay) for estafa thru falsification of public document. A disbarment complaint filed by petitioner on May 20, 2003 against respondent Atty. Emmanual O. Tansingco for serious misconduct and deliberate violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and 1.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility arose when respondent Atty. Tansingco filed a counter-charge of perjury against Donton. Atty. Tansingco in his complaint stated that he prepared and notarized the Occupancy Agreement at the request of Mr. Stier, an owner and long-time resident of a real property located at Cubao, Quezon City. Since Mr. Stier is a U.S. Citizen and thereby disqualified to own real property in his name, he agreed that the property be transferred in the name of Mr. Donton, a Filipino. Donton averred that Atty. Tansingco’s act of preparing the Occupancy Agreement, despite knowledge that Stier is a foreign national, constitutes serious misconduct and is a deliberate violation of the Code. Donton prayed that Atty. Tansingco be disbarred. Atty. Tansingco claimed that complainant Donton filed disbarment case against him upon the instigation of complainants counsel, Atty. Bonifacio A. Aletajan, because he refused to act witness in the criminal case against Stier and Manggay. In Resolution dated October 1, 2003, the court referred the matter to the IBP for investigation, report and recommendation and for which the latter, through Commissioner Milagros San Juan of the IBP Commission of Discipline recommended suspension from the practice of law for two years and cancellation of his commission as Notary Public. The IBP Board of Governors adopted, with modification, the Report and recommended respondents suspension from the practice of law for six months. The report was then forwarded to SC as mandated under Section 12(b), Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court.

Issue: Whether or Not Atty. Tansingco is guilty of serious misconduct?

Ruling: Yes. Atty. Tansingco is liable for violation of Canon 1 and Rule 1.02 of the Code. The Court ruled that a lawyer should not render any service or give advice to any client which will involve defiance of the laws which he is bound to uphold and obey. A lawyer who assists a client in a dishonest scheme or who connives in violating law commits an act which justifies disciplinary action against the lawyer.

Atty. Tansingco had sworn to uphold the Constitution. Thus, he violated his oath and the Code when he prepared and notarized the Occupancy Agreement to evade the law against foreign ownership of lands. Atty. Tansingco used his knowledge of the law to achieve an unlawful end. Such an act amounts to malpractice in his office, for which he may be suspended. As such, respondent is being suspended for six (6) months.