Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 17

Narag vs Narag Case Digest

Julieta B. Narag vs. Atty. Dominador M. Narag 1998

291 SCRA 451

Facts: Atty. Narag’s spouse filed a petition for disbarment in the IBP alleging that her husband courted one
of his students, later maintaining her as a mistress and having children by her. Atty. Narag claims that his
wife was a possessive, jealous woman who abused him and filed the complaint out of spite. IBP disbarred
him, hence, this petition.

Held: Narag failed to prove his innocence because he failed to refute the testimony given against him and
it was proved that his actions were of public knowledge and brought disrepute and suffering to his wife and
children. Good moral character is a continuing qualification required of every member of the bar. Thus,
when a lawyer fails to meet the exacting standard of moral integrity, the Supreme Court may withdraw his
or her privilege to practice law. (Canons 1&7, Rule 7.03, Code of Ethics for Lawyers) It is not only a condition
precedent to the practice of law, but a continuing qualification for all members. Hence when a lawyer is
found guilty of gross immoral conduct, he may be suspended or disbarred. Grossly immoral means it must
be so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree or
committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the common sense of decency.
As a lawyer, one must not only refrain from adulterous relationships but must not behave in a way that
scandalizes the public by creating a belief that he is flouting those moral standards.

Narag v. Narag, 291 SCRA 451, June 29, 1998


FACTS:
Mrs. Julieta Nunag filed several cases against his husband, Atty. Dominador Nunag,
for his alleged affair with Gina Espita who happens to be a former student of the
respondent back when Ms. Espita was a first-year college student. Finally, in the
most recent case filed by Mrs. Nunag, the complainant had her seven children sign
the appeal for disbarment of Atty. Nunag. Mrs. Nunag presented as evidence the
pictures of the respondent and Ms. Espita together, love letters, testimony of Mr.
Charlie Espita, the brother of Ms. Espita and the source of the mentioned pictures
and love letters, and the testimony of the children of Atty. And Mrs Nunag. In the
proceedings, Atty. Nunag has been engaged in an affair with Ms. Espita, and being
live-in partners, have had two children with the latter. Atty. Nunag denied the
allegations by presenting Argumentum ad Misericordia.

ISSUE:
Should Atty. Nunag be disbarred even if he denied the allegations against him?

RULING:

Atty. Nunag was not able to invalidate the authenticity of the pieces of evidence
presented against him, but instead, presented an argument to pity. He is, by order of
the honorable court, being disbarred by virtue of The Code of Professional
Responsibility which provides:

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


deceitful conduct.

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.

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.

JULIETA B. NARAG, complainant

vs.

ATTY. DOMINADOR M. NARAG, respondent

Administrative Complaint for Disbarment

FACTS:

On November 13, 1989, Mrs. Julieta B. Narag filed an administrative complaint for disbarment
against her husband, Atty. Dominador M. Narag, whom she accused of having violated Canons 1 and 6,
Rule 1.01 of the Code of Ethics for Lawyers. Respondent Narag is accused of gross immorality for
abandoning his family in order to live with Gina Espita.
On the strength of the testimony of her witnesses, the complainant was able to establish that
respondent abandoned his family and lived with another woman. Absent any evidence showing that these
witnesses had an ill motive to testify falsely against the respondent, their testimonies are deemed worthy
of belief.

RULES:

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

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.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Atty. Dominador M. Narag violated the Canon of the Code of Ethics for Lawyers.

HELD:
Dominador M. Narag is disbarred and his name is ordered stricken from the Roll of Attorneys. The
respondent was disbarred after the complainant proved that he had abandoned her and maintained an
adulterous relationship with a married woman. The Court declared that respondent failed to maintain the
highest degree of morality expected and required of a member of the bar.

EN BANC

A. C. No. 3405 June 29, 1998

JULIETA B. NARAG, Complainant, vs. ATTY. DOMINADOR M. NARAG, Respondent.

PER CURIAM:

Good moral character is a continuing qualification required of every member of the bar. Thus, when a
lawyer fails to meet the exacting standard of moral integrity, the Supreme Court may withdraw his or
her privilege to practice law.

On November 13, 1989, Mrs. Julieta B. Narag filed an administrative complaint 1 for disbarment
against her husband, Atty. Dominador M. Narag, whom she accused of having violated Canons 1 and
6, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Ethics for Lawyers. 2

The complainant narrated:

The St. Louis College of Tuguegarao engaged the services of Atty. Dominador M. Narag in the early
seventies as a full-time college instructor in the College of Arts and Sciences and as a professor in the
Graduate School. In 1984, Ms. Gina Espita, 17 years old and a first year college student, enrolled in
subjects handled by Atty. Narag. Exerting his influence as her teacher, and as a prominent member of
the legal profession and then member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Tuguegarao, Atty. Narag courted
Ms. Espita, gradually lessening her resistance until the student acceded to his wishes.

They then maintained an illicit relationship known in various circles in the community, but which they
managed to from me. It therefore came as a terrible embar[r]assment to me, with unspeakable grief
and pain when my husband abandoned us, his family, to live with Ms. Espita, in utterly scandalous
circumstances.

It appears that Atty. Narag used his power and influence as a member of the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan of Cagayan to cause the employment of Ms. Espita at the Department of Trade and
Industry Central Office at Makati, Metro Manila. Out of gratitude perhaps, for this gesture, Ms. Espita
agreed to live with Atty. Narag, her sense of right[e]ousness and morals completely corrupted by a
member of the Bar.

It is now a common knowledge in the community that Atty. Dominador M. Narag has abandoned us,
his family, to live with a 22-year-old woman, who was his former student in the tertiary level[.] 3

This Court, in a Resolution dated December 18, 1989, referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. 4

On June 26, 1990, the office of then Chief Justice Marcelo B. Fernan received from complainant
another letter seeking the dismissal of the administrative complaint. She alleged therein that (1) she
fabricated the allegations in her complaint to humiliate and spite her husband; (2) all the love letters
between the respondent and Gina Espita were forgeries; and (3) she was suffering from "emotional
confusion arising from extreme jealousy." The truth, she stated, was that her husband had remained a
faithful and responsible family man. She further asserted that he had neither entered into an amorous
relationship with one Gina Espita nor abandoned his family. 5 Supporting her letter were an Affidavit of
Desistance 6 and a Motion to Dismiss, 7 attached as Annexes A and B, which she filed before the IBP
commission on bar discipline. 8 In a Decision dared October 8, 1991, the IBP Board of
Governors 9 dismissed the complaint of Mrs. Narag for failure to prosecute. 10

The case took an unexpected turn when, on November 25, 1991, this Court 11 received another
letter 12 from the complainant, with her seven
children 13 as co-signatories, again appealing for the disbarment of her husband. She explained that
she had earlier dropped the case against him because of his continuous threats against her. 14

In his Comment on the complainant's letter of November 11, 1991, filed in compliance with this
Court's Resolution issued on July 6, 1992, 15 respondent prayed that the decision of the Board of
Governors be affirmed. Denying that he had threatened, harassed or intimidated his wife, he alleged
that she had voluntarily executed her Affidavit of Desistance 16 and Motion to Dismiss, 17 even
appearing before the investigating officer, Commissioner Racela, to testify under oath "that she
prepared the Motion to Dismiss and Affidavit of Desistance on her own free will and affirmed the
contents thereof."

In addition, he professed his love for his wife and his children and denied abandoning his family to live
with his paramour. However, he described his wife as a person emotionally disturbed, viz:

What is pitiable here is the fact that Complainant is an incurably jealous and possessive woman, and
every time the streak of jealousy rears its head, she fires off letters or complaints against her husband
in every conceivable forum, all without basis, and purely on impulse, just to satisfy the consuming
demands of her "loving" jealousy. Then, as is her nature, a few hours afterwards, when her jealousy
cools off, she repents and feels sorry for her acts against the Respondent. Thus, when she wrote the
Letter of November 11, 1991, she was then in the grips of one of her bouts of jealousy. 18

On August 24, 1992, this Court issued another Resolution referring the Comment of respondent to the
IBP. 19 In the hearing before IBP Commissioner Plaridel C. Jose, respondent alleged the following: 20
2. Your Respondent comes from very poor parents who have left him not even a square meter of land,
but gave him the best legacy in life: a purposeful and meaningful education. Complainant comes from
what she claims to be very rich parents who value material possession more than education and the
higher and nobler aspirations in life. Complainant abhors the poor.

3. Your Respondent has a loving upbringing, nurtured in the gentle ways of love, forgiveness,
humility, and concern for the poor. Complainant was reared and raised in an entirely different
environment. Her value system is the very opposite.

4. Your Respondent loves his family very dearly, and has done all he could in thirty-eight (38) years of
marriage to protect and preserve his family. He gave his family sustenance, a comfortable home, love,
education, companionship, and most of all, a good and respected name. He was always gentle and
compassionate to his wife and children. Even in the most trying times, he remained calm and never
inflicted violence on them. His children are all now full-fledged professionals, mature, and gainfully
employed. . . .

xxx xxx xxx

Your Respondent subscribes to the sanctity of marriage as a social institution.

On the other hand, consumed by insane and unbearable jealousy, Complainant has been
systematically and unceasingly destroying the very foundations of their marriage and their family.
Their marriage has become a torture chamber in which Your Respondent has been incessantly
BEATEN, BATTERED, BRUTALIZED, TORTURED, ABUSED, and HUMILIATED, physically, mentally, and
emotionally, by the Complainant, in public and at home. Their marriage has become a nightmare.

For thirty-eight years, your Respondent suffered in silence and bore the pain of his misfortune with
dignity and with almost infinite patience, if only to preserve their family and their marriage. But this is
not to be. The Complainant never mellowed and never became gentl[e], loving, and understanding. In
fact, she became more fierce and predatory.

Hence, at this point in time, the light at the tunnel for Your Respondent does not seem in sight. The
darkness continues to shroud the marital and familial landscape.

Your Respondent has to undergo a catharsis, a liberation from enslavement. Paraphrasing Dorfman in
"Death and the Maiden", can the torturer and the tortured co-exist and live together?

Hence, faced with an absolutely uncomprehending and uncompromising mind whose only obsession
now is to destroy, destroy, and destroy, Your Respondent, with perpetual regret and with great
sorrow, filed a Petition for Annulment of Marriage, Spl. Proc. No. 566, RTC, Branch III, Tuguegarao,
Cagayan. . . .

5. Complainant is a violent husband-beater, vitriolic and unbending. But your Respondent never
revealed these destructive qualities to other people. He preserved the good name and dignity of his
wife. This is in compliance with the marital vow to love, honor or obey your spouse, for better or for
worse, in sickness and in health . . . Even in this case, Your Respondent never revealed anything
derogatory to his wife. It is only now that he is constrained to reveal all these things to defend
himself.

On the other hand, for no reason at all, except a jealous rage, Complainant tells everyone,
everywhere, that her husband is worthless, good-for-nothing, evil and immoral. She goes to colleges
and universities, professional organizations, religious societies, and all other sectors of the community
to tell them how evil, bad and immoral her husband is. She tells them not to hire him as professor, as
Counsel, or any other capacity because her husband is evil, bad, and immoral. Is this love? Since
when did love become an instrument to destroy a man's dearest possession in life - his good name,
reputation and dignity?
Because of Complainant's virulent disinformation campaign against her husband, employing every
unethical and immoral means to attain his ends, Your Respondent has been irreparably and
irreversibly disgraced, shamed, and humiliated. Your Respondent is not a scandalous man. It is he
who has been mercilessly scandalized and crucified by the Complainant. 21

To prove the alleged propensity of his wife to file false charges, respondent presented as evidence the
following list of the complaints she had filed against him and Gina Espita:

3.1 Complaint for Immorality/Neglect of Duty . . .

3.2 Complaint for Immorality/Neglect of Duty, DILG, Adm. Case No. P-5-90. . . .

3.3 Complaint for Concubinage. Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Cagayan. I.S No. 89-114. . . .

3.4 Complaint for Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices and concubinage. OMBUDSMAN Case No. 1-92-
0083. . . .

3.5 Complaint for Civil Support. RTC, Tuguegarao, Civil Case No. 4061. DISMISSED.

3.6 Complaint for Concubinage. Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Cagayan. I.S. No. 92-109.
DISMISSED. (. . .). Complainant filed Motion for Reconsideration. DENIED. (. . .).

3.7 Complaint for Disbarment (. . .) with S[upreme] C[ourt]. Withdrawn (. . .). DISMISSED by IBP
Board of Governors (. . .). Re-instituted (. . .).

3.8 Complaint for Disbarment, again (. . .). Adm. Case No. 3405. Pending.

3.9 Complaint for Concubinage, again (. . .). Third MCTC, Tumauini, Isabela. Pending. . . . 22

In his desperate effort to exculpate himself, he averred:

I. That all the alleged love letters and envelopes (. . .), picture (. . .) are inadmissible in evidence as
enunciated by the Supreme Court in "Cecilia Zulueta vs. Court of Appeals, et.al.", G.R. No. 107383,
February 20, 1996. (. . .).

xxx xxx xxx

II. That respondent is totally innocent of the charges: He never courted Gina Espita in the Saint Louis
College of Tuguegarao. He never caused the employment of said woman in the DTI. He never had or
is having any illicit relationship with her anywhere, at any time. He never lived with her as husband
and wife anywhere at any time, be it in Centro Tumauini or any of its barangays, or in any other
place. He never begot a child or children with her. Finally, respondent submits that all the other
allegations of Mrs. Narag are false and fabricated, . . .

xxx xxx xxx

III. Respondent never abandoned his family[.] Mrs. Narag and her two sons forcibly drove respondent
Narag out of the conjugal home. After that, Atty. Narag tried to return to the conjugal home many
times with the help of mutual friends to save the marriage and the family from collapse. He tried
several times to reconcile with Mrs. Narag. In fact, in one of the hearings of the disbarment case, he
offered to return home and to reconcile with Mrs. Narag. But Mrs. Narag refused all these efforts of
respondent Narag. . . .
IV. Complainant Julieta B. Narag is an unbearably jealous, violent, vindictive, scandalous, virulent and
merciless wife since the beginning of the marriage, who incessantly beat, battered, brutalized,
tortured, abuse[d], scandalized, and humiliated respondent Atty. Narag, physically, mentally,
emotionally, and psychologically, . . .

V. Complainant Julieta Narag's claim in her counter-manifestation dated March 28, 1996, to the effect
that the affidavit of Dominador B. Narag, Jr., dated February 27, 1996 was obtained through force and
intimidation, is not true. Dominador, Jr., executed his affidavit freely, voluntarily, and absolutely
without force or intimidation, as shown by the transcript of stenographic notes of the testimonies of
Respondent Atty. Narag and Tuguegarao MTC Judge Dominador Garcia during the trial of Criminal
Case No. 12439, People vs. Dominador M. Narag, et. al., before the Tuguegarao MTC on May 3, 1996.
...

xxx xxx xxx

VI. Respondent Atty. Narag is now an old man - a senior citizen of 63 years - sickly, abandoned,
disgraced, weakened and debilitated by progressively degenerative gout and arthritis, and hardly able
to earn his own keep. His very physical, medical, psychological, and economic conditions render him
unfit and unable to do the things attributed to him by the complainant. Please see the attached
medical certificates, . . ., among many other similar certificates touching on the same ailments.
Respondent is also suffering from hypertension. 23

On July 18, 1997, the investigating officer submitted his report, 24 recommending the indefinite
suspension of Atty. Narag from the practice of law. The material portions of said report read as
follows:

Culled from the voluminous documentary and testimonial evidence submitted by the contending
parties, two (2) issues are relevant for the disposition of the case, namely:

a) Whether there was indeed a commission of alleged abandonment of respondent's own family and
[whether he was] living with his paramour, Gina Espita;

b) Whether the denial under oath that his illegitimate children with Gina Espita (Aurelle Dominic and
Kyle Dominador) as appearing on paragraph 1(g) of respondent's Comment vis-a-vis his handwritten
love letters, the due execution and contents of which, although he objected to their admissibility for
being allegedly forgeries, were never denied by him on the witness stand much less presented and
offered proof to support otherwise.

Except for the testimonies of respondent's witnesses whose testimonies tend to depict the complaining
wife, Mrs. Narag, as an incurably jealous wife and possessive woman suffering everytime with streaks
of jealousy, respondent did not present himself on the witness stand to testify and be cross-examined
on his sworn comment; much less did he present his alleged paramour, Gina Espita, to disprove the
adulterous relationship between him and their having begotten their illegitimate children, namely:
Aurelle Dominic N. Espita and Kyle Dominador N. Espita. Worse, respondent's denial that he is the
father of the two is a ground for disciplinary sanction (Morcayda v. Naz, 125 SCRA 467).

Viewed from all the evidence presented, we find the respondent subject to disciplinary action as a
member of the legal profession. 25

In its Resolution 26 issued on August 23, 1997, the IBP adopted and approved the investigating
commissioner's recommendation for the indefinite suspension of the respondent. 27 Subsequently the
complaint sought the disbarment of her husband in a Manifestation/Comment she filed on October 20,
1997. The IBP granted this stiffer penalty and, in its Resolution dated November 30, 1997, denied
respondent's Motion for Reconsideration.
After a careful scrutiny of the records of the proceedings and the evidence presented by the parties,
we find that the conduct of respondent warrants the imposition of the penalty of disbarment.

The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:

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

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.

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.

Thus, good moral character is not only a condition precedent 28 to the practice of law, but
a continuing qualification for all members of the bar. Hence, when a lawyer is found guilty of gross
immoral conduct, he may be suspended or disbarred. 29

Immoral conduct has been defined as that conduct which is so willful, flagrant, or shameless as to
show indifference to the opinion of good and respectable members of the community. 30 Furthermore,
such conduct must not only be immoral, but grossly immoral. That is, it must be so corrupt as to
constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree 31 or committed
under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the common sense of decency. 32

We explained in Barrientos vs. Daarol 33 that, "as officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact
be of good moral character but must also be seen to be of good moral character and leading lives in
accordance with the highest moral standards of the community. More specifically, a member of the
Bar and officer of the court is not only required to refrain from adulterous relationships or the keeping
of mistresses but must also so behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief
that he is flouting those moral standards."

Respondent Narag is accused of gross immorality for abandoning his family in order to live with Gina
Espita. The burden of proof rests upon the complainant, and the Court will exercise its disciplinary
power only if she establishes her case by clear, convincing and satisfactory evidence. 34

Presented by complainant as witnesses, aside from herself. 35 were: Charlie Espita, 36 Magdalena
Bautista, 37 Bienvenido Eugenio, 38 Alice Carag, 39 Dr. Jervis B. Narag, 40 Dominador Narag, Jr., 41 and
Nieves F. Reyes. 42

Charlie Espita, brother of the alleged paramour Gina Espita, corroborated complainant's charge
against respondent in these categorical statements he gave to the investigating officer:

Q Mr. Witness, do you know Atty. Narag?

A Yes, Your Honor, he is the live-in partner of my sister, Gina Espita.

Q If Atty. Narag is here, can you point [to] him?

A Yes, sir.

(Witness pointed to the respondent, Atty. Dominador Narag)

Q Why do you know Atty. Narag?


ATTY. NARAG:

Already answered. He said I am the live-in partner.

CONTINUATION OF THE DIRECT

A Because he is the live-in partner of my sister and that they are now living together as husband and
wife and that they already have two children, Aurelle Dominic and Kyle Dominador.

xxx xxx xxx

During cross-examination conducted by the respondent himself, Charlie Espita repeated his account
that his sister Gina was living with the respondent, with whom she had two children:

Q Mr. Espita, you claim that Atty. Narag is now living with your sister as husband and wife. You claim
that?

A Yes, sir.

Q Why do you say that?

A Because at present you are living together as husband and wife and you have already two children
and I know that is really an immoral act which you cannot just allow me to follow since my moral
values don't allow me that my sister is living with a married man like you.

Q How do you know that Atty. Narag is living with your sister? Did you see them in the house?

A Yes, si[r].

xxx xxx xxx

Q You said also that Atty. Narag and your sister have two children, Aurelle Dominic and Kyle
Dominador, is it not?

A Yes, sir.

Q How do you know that they are the children of Atty. Narag?

A Because you are staying together in that house and you have left your family. 44

In addition, Charlie Espita admitted (1) that it was he who handed to Mrs. Narag the love letters
respondent had sent to his sister, and (2) that Atty. Narag tried to dissuade him from appearing at the
disbarment proceedings. 45

Witness Bienvenido Eugenio strengthened the testimony of Charlie Espita in this wise:

Q Mr. Witness, do you know the respondent in this case?

A I know him very well, sir.

Q Could you please tell us why do you know him?

A Because he was always going to the house of my son-in-law by the name of Charlie Espita.
xxx xxx xxx

Q Mr. Eugenio, do you know the residence of Atty. Dominador M. Narag?

A At that time, he [was] residing in the house of Reynaldo Angubong, sir.

Q And this is located where?

A Centro Tamauini, Isabela, sir.

Q And you specifically, categorically state under oath that this is the residence of Atty. Narag?

A Yes, sir.

xxx xxx xxx

Q And under oath this is where Atty. Narag and Gina Espita are allegedly living as husband and wife,
is it not?

A Yes, sir. 46

Witness Nieves Reyes, a neighbor and friend of the estranged couple, testified that she learned from
the Narag children - Randy, Bong and Rowena - that their father left his family, that she and her
husband prodded the complainant to accept the respondent back, that the Narag couple again
separated when the respondent "went back to his woman," and that Atty. Narag had maltreated his
wife. 47

On the strength of the testimony of her witnesses, the complainant was able to establish that
respondent abandoned his family and lived with another woman. Absent any evidence showing that
these witnesses had an ill motive to testify falsely against the respondent, their testimonies are
deemed worthy of belief.

Further, the complainant presented as evidence the love letters that respondent had sent to Gina. In
these letters, respondent clearly manifested his love for Gina and her two children, whom he
acknowledged as his own. In addition, complainant, also submitted as evidence the cards that she
herself had received from him. Guided by the rule that handwriting may be proved through a
comparison of one set of writings with those admitted or treated by the respondent as genuine, we
affirm that the two sets of evidence were written by one and the same person. 48 Besides, respondent
did not present any evidence to prove that the love letters were not really written by him; he merely
denied that he wrote them.

While the burden of proof is upon the complainant, respondent has the duty not only to himself but
also to the court to show that he is morally fit to remain a member of the bar. Mere denial does not
suffice. Thus, when his moral character is assailed, such that his right to continue practicing his
cherished profession is imperiled, he must meet the charges squarely and present evidence, to the
satisfaction of the investigating body and this Court, that he is morally fit to have his name in the Roll
of Attorneys. 49 This he failed to do.

Respondent adamantly denies abandoning his family to live with Gina Espita. At the same time, he
depicts his wife as a "violent husband-beater, vitriolic and unbending," and as an "insanely and
pathologically jealous woman," whose only obsession was to "destroy, destroy and destroy" him as
shown by her filing of a series of allegedly unfounded charges against him (and Gina Espita). To prove
his allegation, he presented ninety-eight (98) pieces of documentary evidence 50 and ten (10)
witnesses. 51
We note, however, that the testimonies of the witnesses of respondent did not establish the fact that
he maintained that moral integrity required by the profession that would render him fit to continue
practicing law. Neither did their testimonies destroy the fact, as proven by the complainant, that he
had abandoned his family and lived with Gina Espita, with whom he had two children. Some of them
testified on matters which they had no actual knowledge of, but merely relied on information from
either respondent himself or other people, while others were presented to impeach the good character
of his wife.

Respondent may have provided well for his family - they enjoyed a comfortable life and his children
finished their education. He may have also established himself as a successful lawyer and a seasoned
politician. But these accomplishments are not sufficient to show his moral fitness to continue being a
member of the noble profession of law.

We remind respondent that parents have not only rights but also duties - e.g., to support, educate
and instruct their children according to right precepts and good example; and to give them love,
companionship and understanding, as well as moral and spiritual guidance. 52 As a husband, he is also
obliged to live with his wife; to observe mutual love, respect and fidelity; and to render help and
support. 53

Respondent himself admitted that his work required him to be often away from home. But the
evidence shows that he was away not only because of his work; instead, he abandoned his family to
live with her paramour, who bore him two children. It would appear, then, that he was hardly in a
position to be a good husband or a good father. His children, who grew up mostly under the care of
their mother, must have scarcely felt the warmth of their father's love.

Respondent's son, Jervis B. Narag, showed his resentment towards his father's moral frailties in his
testimony:

Q My question is this, is there any sin so grievous that it cannot be forgiven, is there a fault that is so
serious that it is incapable of forgiveness?

A That depends upon the sin or fault, sir, but if the sin or fault is with the emotional part of myself, I
suppose I cannot forgive a person although am a God-fearing person, but I h[av]e to give the person
a lesson in order for him or her to at least realize his mistakes, sir.

xxx xxx xxx

COMR. JOSE:

I think it sounds like this. Assuming for the sake of argument that your father is the worst, hardened
criminal on earth, would you send him to jail and have him disbarred? That is the question.

CONTINUATION.

A With the reputation that he had removed from us, I suppose he has to be given a lesson. At this
point in time, I might just forgive him if he will have to experience all the pains that we have also
suffered for quite sometime.

Q Dr. Narag, your father gave you life, his blood runs in your veins, his flesh is your flesh, his bones
are your bones and you now disown him because he is the worst man on earth, is that what you are
saying.

A Sort of, sir.


Q You are now telling that as far [as] you are concerned because your father has sinned, you have no
more father, am I correct?

A Long before, sir, I did not feel much from my father even when I was still a kid because my father is
not always staying with us at home. So, how can you say that? Yes, he gave me life, why not? But for
sure, sir, you did not give me love. 54

Another son, Dominador Narag, Jr., narrated before the investigating officer the trauma he went
through:

Q In connection with that affidavit, Mr. Witness, which contains the fact that your father is maintaining
a paramour, could you please tell this Honorable Commission the effect on you?

A This has a very strong effect on me and this includes my brothers and sisters, especially my married
life, sir. And it also affected my children so much, that I and my wife ha[ve] parted ways. It hurts to
say that I and my wife parted ways. This is one reason that affected us.

Q Will you please tell us specifically why you and your wife parted ways?

A Because my wife wa[s] ashamed of what happened to my family and that she could not face the
people, our community, especially because my wife belongs to a well-known family in our community.

Q How about the effect on your brothers and sisters? Please tell us what are those.

A Well, sir, this has also affected the health of my elder sister because she knows so well that my
mother suffered so much and she kept on thinking about my mother.

xxx xxx xxx

Q Why did your wife leave you?

A The truth is because of the things that had happened in our family, Your Honor.

Q In your wife's family?

A In our family, sir.

Q And what do you mean by that?

A What meant by that is my father had an illicit relationship and that my father went to the extent of
scolding my wife and calling my wife a "puta" in provincial government, which my mother-in-law hated
him so much for this, which really affected us. And then my wife knew for a fact that my father has an
illicit relationship with Gina Espita, whom he bore two children by the name of Aurelle Dominic and
Kyle Dominador, which I could prove and I stand firm to this, Your Honor. 55

Although respondent piously claims adherence to the sanctity of marriage, his acts prove otherwise. A
husband is not merely a man who has contracted marriage. Rather, he is a partner who has solemnly
sworn to love and respect his wife and remain faithful to her until death.

We reiterate our ruling in Cordova vs. Cordova 56: "The moral delinquency that affects the fitness of a
member of the bar to continue as such includes conduct that outrages the generally accepted moral
standards of the community, conduct for instance, which makes a mockery of the inviolable social
institution of marriage."
In Toledo vs. Toledo, 57 the respondent was disbarred from the practice of law, when he abandoned
his lawful wife and cohabited with another woman who had borne him a child.

Likewise, in Obusan vs. Obusan, 58 the respondent was disbarred after the complainant proved that he
had abandoned her and maintained an adulterous relationship with a married woman. This Court
declared that respondent failed to maintain the highest degree of morality expected and required of a
member of the bar.

In the present case, the complainant was able to establish, by clear and convincing evidence, that
respondent had breached the high and exacting moral standards set for members of the law
profession. As held in Maligsa vs. Cabanting, 59 "a lawyer may be disbarred for any misconduct,
whether in his professional or private capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral character, in
honesty, probity and good demeanor or unworthy to continue as an officer of the court."

WHEREFORE, Dominador M. Narag is hereby DISBARRED and his name is ORDERED STRICKEN from
the Roll of Attorneys. Let copies of this Decision be in the personal record of Respondent Narag; and
furnished to all courts of the land, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the Office of the Bar
Confidant.

SO ORDERED.

EN BANC

A.C. No. 3405, March 18, 2014

JULIETA B. NARAG, Complainant, v. ATTY. DOMINADOR M. NARAG, Respondent.

RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM:

Before this Court is a “Petition for Readmission” to the practice of law filed by Dominador M. Narag
(Respondent).

On November 13, 1989, Julieta B. Narag (Julieta) filed an administrative complaint for disbarment against
her husband, herein respondent, whom she accused of having violated Rule 1.011 in relation to Canons
12 and 63 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. She claimed that the respondent, who was then a
college instructor in St. Louis College of Tuguegarao and a member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of
Cagayan, maintained an amorous relationship with a certain Gina Espita (Gina) – a 17–year old first year
college student. Julieta further claimed that the respondent had already abandoned her and their children to
live with Gina. The respondent denied the charge against him, claiming that the allegations set forth by
Julieta were mere fabrications; that Julieta was just extremely jealous, which made her concoct stories
against him.

On June 29, 1998, the Court rendered a Decision, which directed the disbarment of the respondent. The
Court opined that the respondent committed an act of gross immorality when he abandoned his family in
order to live with Gina. The Court pointed out that the respondent had breached the high and exacting moral
standards set for members of the legal profession.

A Motion for the Re–opening of the Administrative Investigation, or in the Alternative, Reconsideration of the
Decision was filed by the respondent on August 25, 1998. He averred that he was denied due process of law
during the administrative investigation as he was allegedly unjustly disallowed to testify in his behalf and
adduce additional vital documentary evidence. Finding no substantial arguments to warrant the reversal of
the questioned decision, the Court denied the motion with finality in the Resolution dated September 22,
1998.

On November 29, 2013, the respondent filed the instant petition for reinstatement to the Bar. The
respondent alleged that he has expressed extreme repentance and remorse to his wife and their children for
his misgivings. He claimed that his wife Julieta and their children had already forgiven him on June 10, 2010
at their residence in Tuguegarao City. The respondent presented an undated affidavit prepared by his son,
Dominador, Jr., purportedly attesting to the truth of the respondent’s claim.

The respondent averred that he has been disbarred for 15 years already and that he has been punished
enough. He alleged that he is already 80 years old, weak and wracked with debilitating osteo–arthritic
pains. That he has very limited mobility due to his arthritis and his right knee injury.

He further claimed that he enlisted in the Philippine Air Force Reserve Command where he now holds the
rank of Lieutenant Colonel; that as member of the Reserve Command, he enlisted in various rescue, relief
and recovery missions. The respondent likewise submitted the various recommendations, testimonials and
affidavits in support of his petition for readmission.4

“Whether the applicant shall be reinstated in the Roll of Attorneys rests to a great extent on the sound
discretion of the Court. The action will depend on whether or not the Court decides that the public interest in
the orderly and impartial administration of justice will continue to be preserved even with the applicant’s
reentry as a counselor at law. The applicant must, like a candidate for admission to the bar, satisfy the
Court that he is a person of good moral character, a fit and proper person to practice law. The Court will
take into consideration the applicant’s character and standing prior to the disbarment, the nature and
character of the charge/s for which he was disbarred, his conduct subsequent to the disbarment, and the
time that has elapsed between the disbarment and the application for reinstatement.”5

The extreme penalty of disbarment was meted on the respondent on account of his having committed a
grossly immoral conduct, i.e., abandoning his wife and children to live with his much younger paramour.
Indeed, nothing could be more reprehensible than betraying one’s own family in order to satisfy an irrational
and insatiable desire to be with another woman. The respondent’s act was plainly selfish and clearly evinces
his inappropriateness to be part of the noble legal profession.

More than 15 years after being disbarred, the respondent now professes that he had already repented and
expressed remorse over the perfidy that he had brought upon his wife and their children. That such
repentance and remorse, the respondent asserts, together with the long years that he had endured his
penalty, is now sufficient to enable him to be readmitted to the practice of law.

The respondent’s pleas, however, are mere words that are hollow and bereft of any substance. The Court, in
deciding whether the respondent should indeed be readmitted to the practice of law, must be convinced that
he had indeed been reformed; that he had already rid himself of any grossly immoral act which would make
him inept for the practice of law. However, it appears that the respondent, while still legally married to
Julieta, is still living with his paramour – the woman for whose sake he abandoned his family. This only
proves to show that the respondent has not yet learned from his prior misgivings.

That he was supposedly forgiven by his wife and their children would likewise not be sufficient ground to
grant respondent’s plea. It is noted that only his son, Dominador, Jr., signed the affidavit which was
supposed to evidence the forgiveness bestowed upon the respondent. Thus, with regard to Julieta and the
six other children of the respondent, the claim that they had likewise forgiven the respondent is hearsay. In
any case, that the family of the respondent had forgiven him does not discount the fact that he is still
committing a grossly immoral conduct; he is still living with a woman other than his wife.

Likewise, that the respondent executed a holographic will wherein he bequeaths all his properties to his wife
and their children is quite immaterial and would not be demonstrative that he had indeed changed his ways.
Verily, nothing would stop the respondent from later on executing another last will and testament of a
different tenor once he had been readmitted to the legal profession.

In fine, the Court is not convinced that the respondent had shown remorse over his transgressions and that
he had already changed his ways as would merit his reinstatement to the legal profession. Time and again
the Court has stressed that the practice of law is not a right but a privilege. It is enjoyed only by those who
continue to display unassailable character.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, the Petition for Reinstatement to the Bar filed by
Dominador M. Narag is hereby DENIED.

SO ORDERED.

Sereno, C.J., Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Leonardo–De Castro, Brion, Peralta, Castillo, Villarama, Jr., Perez,
Mendoza, and Reyes, JJ., concur.
Leonen, J., see dissenting opinion.
Bersamin, and Abad, JJ., join the dissent of J. Leonen.
Perlas–Bernabe, J., on official leave.

Endnotes:

1
Rule 1.01 – A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

2
CANON 1 – A lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law
and legal processes.

3
CANON 6 – These canons shall apply to lawyers in government service in the discharge of their official
duties.

4
(1) Recommendation of the IBP Cagayan Chapter; (2) Affidavit of Dominador, Jr. with a copy of the
holographic will executed by the petitioner leaving all his properties to Julieta and their children; (3)
Testimonial of Justice Hilarion L. Aquino; (4) Testimonial of Archbishop Emeritus Diosdado Talamayan of
Tuguegarao Archdiocese; (5) Testimonial of Brigadier General Antonio L Tamayo, Chairman of the Board and
Chief Executive Officer of University of Perpetual Help System; (6) Testimonial of Major General Lino H.E.
Lapinid, Past Commander of the Philippine Air Force Reserve Command; (7) Testimonial of retired Regional
Trial Court Judge Antonio Eugenio, former President of the Philippine Judges Association; (8) Joint
Testimonial of Dr. Roger Perez (former President of Cagayan State University) and Dr. Victor Perez
(President, University of Cagayan Valley); and (9) Testimonial of Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, former Chair of the
Department of Jurisprudence and Legal Philosophy of the Philippine Judicial Academy.

Bernardo v. Atty. Mejia, 558 Phil. 398, 401 (2007), citing Cui v. Cui, 120 Phil. 725, 731 (1964).
5

DISSENTING OPINION

LEONEN, J.:

“But mercy is above this sceptred sway; It is enthroned in the hearts of kings, It is an attribute to God
himself; And earthly power doth then show likest God’s When mercy seasons justice. “

– William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (Act IV, Scene I)

Mercy tempers justice. It is mercy that assures that our institutions are cloaked with humane compassion
strengthening courts with a mantle of respect and legitimacy.

I disagree with my esteemed colleagues that Dominador M. Narag’s plea for judicial clemency (in the form of
a petition for readmission to the practice of law) should be denied. He has been disbarred and unable to
practice his chosen profession for 15 years. He presents an affidavit to support his claim that his wife and
children have forgiven him. He alleges that during the time that he was unable to practice, he volunteered
his time and services to the community especially those who were affected by disasters.

Dominador M. Narag is also already 80 years old.

He has suffered enough. I vote to grant his petition and, thus, allow him judicial clemency.
Clemency is not unprecedented.

In Bernardo v. Atty. Mejia,1 this court disbarred Atty. Ismael F. Mejia for misappropriating and converting
funds, falsifying documents, and issuing insufficiently funded checks. Fifteen years after his disbarment,
then 71–year–old Atty. Mejia filed a petition for readmission to the practice of law, “begging for [this
court’s] forgiveness.” 2 According to Atty. Mejia, “he ha[d] long repented'and x x x ha[d] suffered
enough” 3 and that readmission to the practice of law would “redeem the indignity that [his children had]
suffered due to his disbarment.” 4

This court readmitted Atty. Mejia to the practice of law, taking into account Atty. Mejia’s rehabilitation and
that he was “already of advanced years.” 5 This court said:
xxx While the age of the petitioner and the length of time during which he has endured the ignominy of
disbarment are not the sole measure in allowing a petition for reinstatement, the Court takes cognizance of
the rehabilitation of Mejia. Since his disbarment in 1992, no other transgression has been attributed to him,
and he has shown remorse. Obviously, he has learned his lesson from this experience, and his punishment
has lasted long enough. Thus, while the Court is ever mindful of its duty to discipline its erring officers, it
also knows how to show compassion when the penalty imposed has already served its purpose. After all,
penalties, such as disbarment, are imposed not to punish but to correct offenders.6
In In Re: Quinciano D. Vailoces,7 this court disbarred Atty. Vailoces for acknowledging the execution of a
forged last will and testament. Twenty–one years after his disbarment, then 69–year–old Atty. Vailoces filed
a petition for readmission to the practice of law, “[pledging] with all his honor xxx [that] he will surely and
consistently conduct himself honestly, uprightly and worthily.” 8 With favorable endorsements from the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, testimonials from the provincial governor of Negros Oriental, and
municipal and barrio officials of Bindoy, Negros Oriental of his “active participation in civic and social
undertakings in [his] community,” 9 this court readmitted Atty. Vailoces to the practice of law.

In In Re: Atty. Tranquilino Rovero,10 this court disbarred Atty. Rovero after he had been found guilty of
smuggling under Section 2703 of the Revised Administrative Code.11 Twenty–eight years after his
disbarment, then 71–year–old Atty. Rovero filed a petition for readmission to the practice of law, “[asking]
humbly and earnestly of the Court to [reinstate him] in the Roll of Attorneys 'before crossing the bar to the
great beyond.'” 12 To prove his “moral rehabilitation and reformation,” 13 he involved himself in civic and
educational organizations and “held high positions of trust in commercial establishments.” 14 With
testimonials of his good conduct from members of his community and an absolute and unconditional pardon
for his crime granted by President Ramon Magsaysay,15 this court readmitted Atty. Rovero to the practice of
law. According to this court, Atty. Rovero uha[d] been sufficiently punished and disciplined.” 16

In this case, 80–year–old Dominador M. Narag filed his petition for readmission to the practice of law 15
years after his disbarment. In his petition for readmission, he expressed remorse and asked for complainant
Julieta’s and their children’s forgiveness. He annexed to his petition a copy of an affidavit executed by his
son, Dominador, Jr., attesting that complainant Julieta and their children had forgiven him. He also executed
a holographic will in favor of complainant Julieta and their children.

Dominador M. Narag enlisted in the Philippine Air Force Reserve Command and joined in its rescue, relief,
recovery, and other humanitarian missions. He also submitted to this court favorable recommendations,
testimonials, and affidavits attesting to his moral reformation. Among the testimonials given was one from
Archbishop Emeritus Diosdado A. Talamayan of Tuguegarao. In his letter dated November 30, 2011, he
testified that:
Due to my closeness to the couple, I had the opportunity to watch closely their married life. They both
worked for the education of their children. All were happy. Dr. Narag was a concerned father and a loving
husband. He would bring his wife along to all important religious, civic, cultural and social events. He made
it a point to go with her, regularly on vacations to other parts of the country.

But an indiscretion on his part led to a broken family. Many times I was called to negotiate, as their spiritual
father, in their family disputes. The misdeed of Dr. Narag led Mrs. Julieta Narag to file disbarment from Law
Practice. On June 29, 1998, in an administrative case No. 3405, Dr. Narag was disbarred.

For the past thirteen years, I have been a witness to the remorse, repentance of Dr. Narag.

To my joy, on June 10, 2010, acting on the gesture of Dr. Narag to bequeath to Mrs. Julieta Narag and
children, all properties personal or real, all belongings and realizing the sincerity of repentance, Mrs. Narag
and children totally forgave Dr. Dominador Narag.
I sincerely believe Dr. Narag has paid enough for his indiscretion; meantime, for the past thirteen years of
disbarment, he helped the University of Perpetual Help System grow and develop.

As he is in the twilight of his life, now being 78 years and feeling he can still be of service to people, I fully
endorse his humble petition for readmission to the Philippine Bar and the restoration of his name in the Roll
of Attorneys with the Supreme Court.17
I disagree with the majority that these manifestations are hollow. I also disagree that the affidavit of
Dominador M. Narag’s son and the holographic will he presents are not sufficient to prove the forgiveness
that has been bestowed upon him by his family. They are the parties that have been wronged and in so far
as the State is concerned, he has already suffered enough.

This, case does not deal with the question of whether we can impose disciplinary action on acts of
immorality by members of the profession. Had it been at issue, I would think that the forgiveness given by
the parties that have been wronged should have great bearing on our determination. After all, there are
limits to the government’s interference into arrangements of intimacies among couples. I fail to grasp the
alleged continuing gross immorality and reprehensiveness committed by a remorseful 80–year–old man who
has been forgiven by those he has emotionally wronged. I do not believe that the law should be read as
being too callous and inflexible so as to be unable to accommodate the unique realities in this case.

What is at issue in this case is whether Dominador M. Narag has suffered enough from his acts. This court
showed them compassion and reinstated them as members of the legal profession in many instances where
those disbarred are of old age who suffered “the ignominy of disbarment” 18 long enough, showed remorse,
and conducted themselves beyond reproach after their disbarment.

The legal order has had its pound of flesh from Dominador M. Narag. He has committed a transgression, but
we have exacted enough retribution. The purpose of the penalty has already been achieved. He is in the
twilight of his years when he is at his best to reflect on what his life has been. He is armed by the
forgiveness of his family, and he is visited by remorse. In my view, not granting him the mitigation he asks
for is a failure of human compassion.

For these reasons, I vote to grant him his plea and to reinstate him as a lawyer in good standing.