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2/3/2017 SorianovsDizon:AC6792:January25,2006:PerCuriam:EnBanc:Decision

ENBANC


ROBERTOSORIANO,A.C.No.6792
Complainant,
Present:
Panganiban,CJ,
Puno,
Quisumbing,
YnaresSantiago,
SandovalGutierrez,
Carpio,
versusAustriaMartinez,
Corona,
CarpioMorales,
Callejo,Sr.,
Azcuna,
Tinga,
ChicoNazario,and
Garcia,JJ

Atty.MANUELDIZON,Promulgated:
Respondent.January25,2006
xx

DECISION

PERCURIAM:

[1]
BeforeusisaComplaintAffidavit forthedisbarmentofAtty.ManuelDizon,
filed by Roberto Soriano with the Commission on Bar Discipine (CBD) of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). Complainant alleges that the conviction of
respondent for a crime involving moral turpitude, together with the circumstances
surroundingtheconviction,violatesCanon1ofRule1.01oftheCodeofProfessional
[2]
Responsibility andconstitutessufficientgroundforhisdisbarmentunderSection27
[3]
ofRule138oftheRulesofCourt.

BecauseofthefailureofAtty.DizontosubmithisAnswertotheComplaint,the
CBDissuedaNoticedatedMay20,2004,informinghimthathewasindefault,and
[4]
thatanexpartehearinghadbeenscheduledforJune11,2004.

Afterthathearing,complainantmanifestedthathewassubmittingthecaseonthebasis
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[5]
oftheComplaintanditsattachments. Accordingly,theCBDdirectedhimtofilehis
[6]
Position Paper, which he did on July 27, 2004. Afterwards, the case was deemed
submittedforresolution.

On December 6, 2004, Commissioner Teresita J. Herbosa rendered her Report and
Recommendation,whichwaslateradoptedandapprovedbytheIBPBoardofGovernorsin
itsResolutionNo.XVI200584datedMarch12,2005.

InhisComplaintAffidavit,SorianoallegedthatrespondenthadviolatedCanon1,Rule
1.01oftheCodeofProfessionalResponsibilityandthattheconvictionofthelatterfor
[7]
frustratedhomicide, whichinvolvedmoralturpitude,shouldresultinhisdisbarment.
ThefactsleadingtorespondentsconvictionweresummarizedbyBranch60ofthe
RegionalTrialCourtofBaguioCityinthiswise:

xxx.TheaccusedwasdrivinghisbrownToyotaCorollaandwasonhiswayhome
aftergassingupinpreparationforhistriptoConcepcion,Tarlacwithhiswife.AlongAbanao
Street,ataxidriverovertookthecardrivenbytheaccusednotknowingthatthedriverofthe
carhehadovertakenisnotjustsomeone,butalawyerandaprominentmemberoftheBaguio
communitywhowasundertheinfluenceofliquor.Incensed,theaccusedtailedthetaxidriver
untilthelatterstoppedtomakeaturnat[the]ChugumandCarinoStreets.Theaccusedalso
stoppedhiscar,beratedthetaxidriverandheldhimbyhisshirt.Tostoptheaggression,the
taxi driver forced open his door causing the accused to fall to the ground. The taxi driver
knew that the accused had been drinking because he smelled of liquor. Taking pity on the
accused who looked elderly, the taxi driver got out of his car to help him get up. But the
accused,bynowenraged,stoodupimmediatelyandwasabouttodealthetaxidriverafist
blowwhenthelatterboxedhimonthechestinstead.Theaccusedfelldownasecondtime,
gotupagainandwasabouttoboxthetaxidriverbutthelattercaughthisfistandturnedhis
armaround.Thetaxidriverheldontotheaccuseduntilhecouldbepacifiedandthenreleased
him.Theaccusedwentbacktohiscarandgothisrevolvermakingsurethatthehandlewas
wrapped in a handkerchief. The taxi driver was on his way back to his vehicle when he
noticedtheeyeglassesoftheaccusedontheground.Hepickedthemupintendingtoreturn
themtotheaccused.Butashewashandingthesametotheaccused,hewasmetbythebarrel
ofthegunheldbytheaccusedwhofiredandshothimhittinghimontheneck.Hefellonthe
thighoftheaccusedsothelatterpushedhimoutandspedoff.Theincidentwaswitnessedby
AntonioBillaneswhosetestimonycorroboratedthatofthetaxidriver,thecomplainantinthis
[8]
case,RobertoSoriano.


Itwastheprosecutionwitness,AntonioBillanes,whocametotheaidofSoriano
andbroughtthelattertothehospital.Becausethebullethadlaceratedthecarotidartery
[9]
ontheleftsideofhisneck, complainantwouldhavesurelydiedofhemorrhageifhe

had not received timely medical assistance, according to the attending surgeon, Dr.
FranciscoHernandez,Jr.Sorianosustainedaspinalcordinjury,whichcausedparalysis
ontheleftpartofhisbodyanddisabledhimforhisjobasataxidriver.
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ontheleftpartofhisbodyanddisabledhimforhisjobasataxidriver.

The trial court promulgated its Decision dated November 29, 2001. On January
18,2002,respondentfiledanapplicationforprobation,whichwasgrantedbythecourt
on several conditions. These included satisfaction of the civil liabilities imposed by
[10]
[the]courtinfavoroftheoffendedparty,RobertoSoriano.

Accordingtotheunrefutedstatementsofcomplainant,Atty.Dizon,whohasyet
tocomplywiththisparticularundertaking,evenappealedthecivilliabilitytotheCourt
[11]
ofAppeals.

In her Report and Recommendation, Commissioner Herbosa recommended that


respondentbedisbarredfromthepracticeoflawforhavingbeenconvictedofacrime
involvingmoralturpitude.

The commissioner found that respondent had not only been convicted of such
crime,butthatthelatteralsoexhibitedanobviouslackofgoodmoralcharacter,based
onthefollowingfacts:

1.Hewasundertheinfluenceofliquorwhiledrivinghiscar
2.HereactedviolentlyandattemptedtoassaultComplainantonlybecausethelatter,drivinga
taxi,hadovertakenhim
3.Complainanthavingbeenabletowardoffhisattemptedassault,Respondentwentbackto
hiscar,gotagun,wrappedthesamewithahandkerchiefandshotComplainant[,]who
wasunarmed
4.WhenComplainantfellonhim,Respondentsimplypushedhimoutandfled
5.Despitepositiveidentificationandoverwhelmingevidence,Respondentdeniedthathehad
shotComplainant
6.Apartfrom[his]denial,Respondentalsoliedwhenheclaimedthathewastheonemauled
byComplainantandtwounidentifiedpersonsand,
7.Althoughhehasbeenplacedonprobation,Respondenthas[,]todate[,]notyetsatisfiedhis
[12]
civilliabilitiestoComplainant.


On July 8, 2005, the Supreme Court received for its final action the IBP
Resolution adopting the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating

Commissioner.

We agree with the findings and recommendations of Commissioner Herbosa, as
approvedandadoptedbytheIBPBoardofGovernors.
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approvedandadoptedbytheIBPBoardofGovernors.

Under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, conviction for a crime
involving moral turpitude is a ground for disbarment or suspension. By such
conviction, a lawyer is deemed to have become unfit to uphold the administration of
[13]
justiceandtobenolongerpossessedofgoodmoralcharacter. Intheinstantcase,
respondent has been found guilty and he stands convicted, by final judgment, of
frustratedhomicide.Sincehisconvictionhasalreadybeenestablishedandisnolonger
open to question, the only issues that remain to be determined are as follows: 1)
whetherhiscrimeoffrustratedhomicideinvolvesmoralturpitude,and2)whetherhis
guiltwarrantsdisbarment.

Moral turpitude has been defined as everything which is done contrary to justice,
modesty, or good morals an act of baseness, vileness or depravity in the private and
social duties which a man owes his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to
[14]
justice,honesty,modesty,orgoodmorals.
Thequestionofwhetherthecrimeofhomicideinvolvesmoralturpitudehasbeen
[15]
discussed in International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) v. NLRC, a labor case
concerning an employee who was dismissed on the basis of his conviction for
homicide.Consideringtheparticularcircumstancessurroundingthecommissionofthe
crime,thisCourtrejectedtheemployerscontentionandheldthathomicideinthatcase
didnotinvolvemoralturpitude.(Ifitdid,thecrimewouldhavebeenviolativeofthe
IRRIs Employment Policy Regulations and indeed a ground for dismissal.) The Court
explained that, having disregarded the attendant circumstances, the employer made a
pronouncement that was precipitate. Furthermore, it was not for the latter to determine
conclusivelywhetheracrimeinvolvedmoralturpitude.Thatdiscretionbelongedtothecourts,as
explainedthus:

xxx.Homicidemayormaynotinvolvemoralturpitudedependingonthedegreeof
thecrime. Moral turpitude is not involved in every criminal act and is not shown by every
known and intentional violation of statute, but whether any particular conviction involves
moral turpitude may be a question of fact and frequently depends on all the surrounding
[16]
circumstances.xxx. (Emphasissupplied)



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IntheIRRIcase,inwhichthecrimeofhomicidedidnotinvolvemoralturpitude,
the Court appreciated the presence of incomplete selfdefense and total absence of
aggravating circumstances. For a better understanding of that Decision, the
circumstancesofthecrimearequotedasfollows:

xxx.ThefactsonrecordshowthatMicosa[theIRRIemployee]wasthenurinatingandhad
hisbackturnedwhenthevictimdrovehisfistuntoMicosa'sfacethatthevictimthenforcibly
rubbedMicosa'sfaceintothefilthyurinalthatMicosapleadedtothevictimtostoptheattack
but was ignored and that it was while Micosa was in that position that he drew a fan knife
fromtheleftpocketofhisshirtanddesperatelyswungitatthevictimwhoreleasedhishold
onMicosaonlyafterthelatterhadstabbedhimseveraltimes.ThesefactsshowthatMicosa's
intention was not to slay the victim but only to defend his person. The appreciation in his
favor of the mitigating circumstances of selfdefense and voluntary surrender, plus the total
absenceofanyaggravatingcircumstancedemonstratethatMicosa'scharacterandintentions
[17]
werenotinherentlyvile,immoralorunjust.



The present case is totally different. As the IBP correctly found, the circumstances
clearlyevincethemoralturpitudeofrespondentandhisunworthinesstopracticelaw.
Atty. Dizon was definitely the aggressor, as he pursued and shot complainant
whenthelatterleastexpectedit.Theactofaggressionshownbyrespondentwillnotbe
mitigatedbythefactthathewashitonceandhisarmtwistedbycomplainant.Under
the circumstances, those were reasonable actions clearly intended to fend off the
lawyersassault.

We also consider the trial courts finding of treachery as a further indication of the
skewedmoralsofrespondent.Heshotthevictimwhenthelatterwasnotinaposition
todefendhimself.Infact,undertheimpressionthattheassaultwasalreadyover,the
unarmed complainant was merely returning the eyeglasses of Atty. Dizon when the
latterunexpectedlyshothim.Tomakemattersworse,respondentwrappedthehandleof
hisgunwithahandkerchiefsoasnottoleavefingerprints.Insodoing,hebetrayedhis
slyintentiontoescapepunishmentforhiscrime.


Thetotalityofthefactsunmistakablybearstheearmarksofmoralturpitude.By
hisconduct,respondentrevealedhisextremearroganceandfeelingofselfimportance.
Asitwere,heactedlikeagodontheroad,whodeservedtobeveneratedandneverto
beslighted.Clearly,hisinordinatereactiontoasimpletrafficincidentreflectedpoorly
on his fitness to be a member of the legal profession. His overreaction also evinced
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vindictiveness,whichwasdefinitelyanundesirabletraitinanyindividual,moresoina
lawyer.Inthetenacitywithwhichhepursuedcomplainant,weseenotthepersistence
ofapersonwhohasbeengrievouslywronged,buttheobstinacyofonetryingtoasserta
falsesenseofsuperiorityandtoexactrevenge.

It is also glaringly clear that respondent seriously transgressed Canon 1 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility through his illegal possession of an unlicensed
[18] [19]
firearm andhisunjustrefusaltosatisfyhiscivilliabilities.
Hehasthusbrazenlyviolatedthelawanddisobeyedthelawfulordersofthecourts.We
[20]
remind him that, both in his attorneys oath and in the Code of Professional
Responsibility,heboundhimselftoobeythelawsoftheland.

Alltold,Atty.Dizonhasshownthroughthisincidentthatheiswantinginevena
basicsenseofjustice.Heobtainedthebenevolenceofthetrialcourtwhenitsuspended
[21]
his sentence and granted him probation. And yet, it has been four years since he
was ordered to settle his civil liabilities to complainant. To date, respondent remains
adamant in refusing to fulfill that obligation. By his extreme impetuosity and
intolerance,asshownbyhisviolentreactiontoasimpletrafficaltercation,hehastaken
away the earning capacity, good health, and youthful vigor of his victim. Still, Atty.
Dizon begrudges complainant the measly amount that could never even fully restore
whatthelatterhaslost.

Convictionforacrimeinvolvingmoralturpitudemayrelate,nottotheexerciseof
[22]
theprofessionoflawyers,butcertainlytotheirgoodmoralcharacter. Wheretheir
misconductoutsideoftheirprofessionaldealingsissogrossastoshowthemmorally
unfit for their office and unworthy of the privileges conferred upon them by their
license and the law, the court may be justified in suspending or removing them from
[23]
thatoffice.
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We also adopt the IBPs finding that respondent displayed an utter lack of good
moral character, which is an essential qualification for the privilege to enter into the
[24]
practiceoflaw.Goodmoralcharacterincludesatleastcommonhonesty.

In the case at bar, respondent consistently displayed dishonest and duplicitous


behavior.Asfoundbythetrialcourt,hehadsought,withtheaidofViceMayorDaniel
[25]
Farias, an outofcourt settlement with complainants family. But when this effort
failed, respondent concocted a complete lie by making it appear that it was
complainantsfamilythathadsoughtaconferencewithhimtoobtainhisreferraltoa
[26]
neurosurgeon.

The lies of Atty Dizon did not end there. He went on to fabricate an entirely
[27]
implausible story of having been mauled by complainant and two other persons.
Thetrialcourthadthistosay:

Thephysicalevidenceastestifiedtobynolessthanthree(3)doctorswhoexamined
[Atty. Dizon] does not support his allegation that three people including the complainant
helpedeachotherinkickingandboxinghim.Theinjurieshesustainedweresominorthatitis
improbable[,] if not downright unbelievable[,] that three people who he said were bent on
beating him to death could do so little damage. On the contrary, his injuries sustain the
complainantsversionoftheincidentparticularlywhenhesaidthatheboxedtheaccusedon
[28]
thechest.xxx.



Lawyersmustbeministersoftruth.Nomoralqualificationforbarmembershipis
[29]
more important than truthfulness. The rigorous ethics of the profession places a

[30]
premiumonhonestyandcondemnsduplicitousbehavior. Hence,lawyersmustnot
misleadthecourtorallowittobemisledbyanyartifice.Inalltheirdealings,theyare
expectedtoactingoodfaith.

Theactionsofrespondenteroderatherthanenhancepublicperceptionofthelegal
profession.Theyconstitutemoralturpitudeforwhichheshouldbedisbarred.Lawisa
nobleprofession,andtheprivilegetopracticeitisbestowedonlyuponindividualswho
arecompetentintellectually,
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academically and, equally important, morally. Because they are vanguards of the law
andthelegalsystem,lawyersmustatalltimesconductthemselves,especiallyintheir
dealings with their clients and the public at large, with honesty and integrity in a
[31]
mannerbeyondreproach.

The foregoing abhorrent acts of respondent are not merely dishonorable they
revealabasicmoralflaw.Consideringthedepravityoftheoffensehecommitted,we
findthepenaltyrecommendedbytheIBPproperandcommensurate.

The purpose of a proceeding for disbarment is to protect the administration of


justice by requiring that those who exercise this important function be competent,
honorable and reliable lawyers in whom courts and clients may repose confidence.
[32]
Thus,wheneveraclearcaseofdegenerateandvilebehaviordisturbsthatvitalyet
fragileconfidence,weshallnothesitatetoridourprofessionofodiousmembers.

Weremainawarethatthepowertodisbarmustbeexercisedwithgreatcaution,
and that disbarment should never be decreed when any lesser penalty would
accomplishtheenddesired.Intheinstantcase,however,theCourtcannotextendthat
munificence to respondent. His actions so despicably and wantonly disregarded his
dutiestosocietyandhisprofession.Weareconvincedthatmetingoutalesserpenalty
wouldbeirreconcilablewithourloftyaspirationforthelegalprofessionthatevery
lawyerbeashiningexemplaroftruthandjustice.

Westressthatmembershipinthelegalprofessionisaprivilegedemandingahigh
degreeofgoodmoralcharacter,notonlyasaconditionprecedenttoadmission,butalso
asacontinuingrequirementforthepracticeoflaw.Sadly,hereinrespondenthasfallen
shortoftheexactingstandardsexpectedofhimasavanguardofthelegalprofession.
Insum,whenlawyersareconvictedoffrustratedhomicide,theattendingcircumstancesnot
the mere fact of their conviction would demonstrate their fitness to remain in the legal
profession. In the present case, the appalling vindictiveness, treachery, and brazen
dishonestyofrespondentclearlyshowhisunworthinesstocontinueasamemberofthebar.

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WHEREFORE,RESPONDENTMANUELDIZONisherebyDISBARRED,and
his name is ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this
DecisionbeenteredinhisrecordasamemberoftheBarandletnoticeofthesamebe
served on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and on the Office of the Court
Administratorforcirculationtoallcourtsinthecountry.

SOORDERED.
ARTEMIOV.PANGANIBAN
ChiefJustice




REYNATOS.PUNO LEONARDOA.QUISUMBING
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice



CONSUELOYNARESSANTIAGO ANGELINASANDOVALGUTIERREZ
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice



ANTONIOT.CARPIO MA.ALICIAAUSTRIAMARTINEZ
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice



RENATOC.CORONA CONCHITACARPIOMORALES
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice



ROMEOJ.CALLEJO,SR. ADOLFOS.AZCUNA
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice



DANTEO.TINGA MINITAV.CHICONAZARIO
AssociateJustice AssociateJustice



CANCIOC.GARCIA
AssociateJustice

[1]
Rollo,pp.15.
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Rollo,pp.15.
[2]
CANON1.Alawyershallupholdtheconstitution,obeythelawsofthelandandpromoterespectfor
lawandlegalprocesses.
Rule1.01Alawyershallnotengageinunlawful,dishonest,immoralordeceitfulconduct.
[3]
Sec.27.DisbarmentorsuspensionofattorneysbySupremeCourtgroundstherefor.Amemberofthe
barmaybedisbarredorsuspendedfromhisofficeasattorneybytheSupremeCourtforanydeceit,
malpractice,orothergrossmisconductinsuchoffice,grosslyimmoralconduct,orbyreasonofhis
convictionofacrimeinvolvingmoralturpitude,orforanyviolationoftheoathwhichheisrequired
totakebeforeadmissiontopracticexxx.
[4]
Rollo,p.32.
[5]
Id.,p.36.
[6]
Id.,pp.4046.
[7]
Thedispositiveportionreads:
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby finds the accused, ATTY. MANUEL DIZON, guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of FRUSTRATED HOMICIDE, as charged. There
being one mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender and one aggravating circumstance
of treachery, the Court hereby imposes upon him an indeterminate penalty of 6 months of
arrestomayorasminimumperiodto6yearsofprisioncorreccionalasmaximumperiod.
Theaccusedisalsoadjudgedcivillyliableandisherebyorderedtopayuntotheprivate
offendedparty,RobertoSoriano[,]thefollowing:
a.P76,293.00asactualdamages
b.P100,000.00asmoraldamagesand
c.P100,000.00asexemplarydamages.
SOORDERED.(Rollo,p.27)
[8]
RTC Decision, pp. 1819 rollo, pp. 2324. Penned by Judge Edilberto T. Claravall of Branch 60,
RegionalTrialCourt,BaguioCity.
[9]
Id.,pp.67&1112.
[10]
ProbationOrder,p.2rollo,p.29.
[11]
Rollo,p.3.
[12]
IBPReport,pp.45.
[13]
Nuezv.Astorga,452SCRA353,February28,2005.
[14]
International Rice Research Institute v. NLRC, 221 SCRA 760, 767, May 12, 1993, per Nocon, J.
citing Can v. Galing, 155 SCRA 663, 667668, November 27, 1987, per Padilla, J. Tak Ng v.
Republic, 106 Phil. 727, 730, December 23, 1959, per Barrera, J. In Re Basa, 41 Phil. 275, 276,
December7,1920,perMalcolm,J.
[15]
Id.

[16]
Id.,p.768.Citationsomitted.
[17]
Id.,pp.767768.
[18]
RTCDecision,p.5rollo,p.10.
[19]
IBPReport,p.5.
[20]
I, (name), of (address), do solemnly swear that I will maintain allegiance to the Republic of the
PhilippinesIwillsupportanddefenditsConstitutionandobeythelawsaswellasthelegalorders
of the duly constituted authorities therein I will donofalsehood nor consent to its commission I
willnotwittinglyorwillinglypromoteorsueanygroundless,false,orunlawfulsuitnorgiveaidnor
consenttothesameIwillnotdelayanymanscauseformoneyormaliceandwillconductmyselfas
alawyeraccordingtothebestofmyknowledgeanddiscretionwithallgoodfidelityaswelltothe
courts as to my clients and I impose upon myself this obligation voluntarily, without any mental
reservationorpurposeofevasion.SohelpmeGod.(Emphasissupplied)
[21]
TheRTCDecisionisdatedNovember29,2001,whiletheProbationOrderisdatedMay3,2002.
[22]
Peoplev.Tuanda,181SCRA692,January30,1990.
[23]
SeeCov.Bernardino,349Phil.16,January28,1998.
[24]
Tanv.Sabandal,206SCRA473,February24,1992.
[25]
RTCDecision,p.21rollo,p.26.
[26]
Id.,pp.12&17.
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[26]
2/3/2017 SorianovsDizon:AC6792:January25,2006:PerCuriam:EnBanc:Decision
Id.,pp.12&17.
[27]
Id,pp.1112&1617.
[28]
Id.,pp.20&25.
[29]
Tanv.Sabandal,supra.
[30]
Olbesv.Deciembre,ACNo.5365,April27,2005.
[31]
Resurreccionv.Sayson,300SCRA129,December14,1998,percuriam.
[32]
TingDumaliv.Torres,427SCRA108,April14,2004DeJesusParasv.Vailoces,111Phil.569,April
12,1961.

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