SC Disbars Prosecutor for Maligning Justices, Bar Confidant
September 7, 2023
The Supreme Court has disbarred a previously suspended prosecutor for making foul and offensive remarks to the Justices of the Supreme Court and for berating and insulting the Bar Confidant.
In a 16-page per curiam Decision, the Court disbarred from the practice of law Atty. Perla D. Ramirez for violating the Lawyer’s Oath and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7, Rule 8.01 of Canon 8, and Rule 11.03 of Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). Her name was ordered stricken off the Roll of Attorneys, effective immediately.
The disbarment arose from a complaint against then Atty. Ramirez filed in 2007 by Aurora R. Ladim, Angelito A. Ardiente, and Danilo S. Dela Cruz, employees of Lirio Apartments Condominium in Makati City where Ramirez resided. They sought the disbarment of Ramirez for her unruly and offensive behavior towards residents and employees of the condominium, which stemmed from various incidents from 1990 to 2007.
In a Resolution dated July 30, 2014, the Court found Ramirez liable for violation of Canon 7.03 of the CPR, which prohibits lawyers from engaging in conduct that adversely reflects on their fitness to practice law and from behaving in a scandalous manner, whether in public or private life. Ramirez was suspended from the practice of law for six months, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.
When Ramirez requested for the lifting of her suspension in 2016, the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC), through then Bar Confidant Atty. Ma. Cristina B. Layusa, advised Ramirez to file the necessary motion and submit a sworn statement that she did not practice law during the period of her suspension. But Ramirez questioned the Bar Confidant’s authority and claimed that such requirements did not apply to her.
Because of Ramirez’s refusal to file the required sworn statement to prove that she did not practice law during her suspension, the OBC recommended that her request be denied. This recommendation was adopted by the Court in its August 1, 2016 Resolution denying her prayer to lift her suspension, until she has complied with the submission of the required sworn statement and the necessary certifications from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the trial courts.
On March 15, 2017, Ramirez went to the OBC to follow-up on the status of her request on the lifting of her suspension order. After Atty. Layusa explained to Ramirez the dispositive portion of the August 1, 2016 Resolution, the latter started berating Atty. Layusa: “BRUHA KA; OO, BRUHA KA; PUTANG INA MO; YOU ARE A DISGRACE TO THE LEGAL PROFESSION; KONTING BRAINS NAMAN; CLERK KA LANG; YOU DON[‘T] KNOW YOUR WORK; YOU DON[‘T] KNOW YOUR JOB; xxx.”
Ramirez also made foul and offensive remarks to the Justices of the Court: “ARE THOSE JUSTICES PASSERS UNDER R.A. 1080 [?]”
Ramirez’s outbursts right inside the OBC were witnessed by OBC personnel and a member of the Supreme Court Security Division.
The Court, in a Resolution dated April 19, 2017, required Ramirez to comment on the Incident Report submitted by the OBC, but she failed to comply. When the Court reiterated its order for Ramirez to file her comment, she submitted instead a letter requesting for the lifting of her suspension. The Court then referred the case to the OBC, which recommended that Ramirez’s request for lifting of suspension order be denied, and that she be disbarred.
In ruling on Ramirez’s case, the Court adopted the OBC’s recommendation, stressing that “the practice of law is not a right, but a mere privilege which is subject to the inherent regulatory power of this Court.”
The Court underscored the canons governing the lawyers’ conduct towards the legal profession, among which are Canon 7, which states that a lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and the dignity of the legal profession and support the activities of the Integrated Bar; Canon 8, which states that a lawyer shall conduct oneself with courtesy, fairness and candor towards one’s professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel; and Canon 11, which states that a lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by others.
Thus, “[i]t is imperative for lawyers to ‘observe the highest degree of morality and integrity not only upon admission to the Bar, but also throughout their career in order to safeguard the reputation of the legal profession,” stressed the Court.
The Court added that “lawyers should always guard their language because any careless remark can ‘promote distrust in the administration of justice, undermine the people’s confidence in the legal profession, and erode public respect for it.”
In the case of Ramirez, the Court found that her actions warrant the ultimate penalty of disbarment based on several grounds. First, she brazenly insulted the Bar Confidant, an official of the Court, right within the confines of the Supreme Court. The Court stressed that maligning the Bar Confidant is not only an ad hominem attack on the Bar Confidant’s person, but an affront to the Supreme Court as an institution which Ramirez vowed to honor and respect. In addition, Ramirez also made disparaging remarks against the Supreme Court Justices during her outburst at the OBC.
Second, Ramirez ignored the resolutions of the Court, refusing to confirm or deny the charges against her, despite the Court giving her two opportunities to do so. Neither was there any manifestation of apology or remorse from Ramirez since the incident.
Finally, the Court also considered that this was not Ramirez’s first offense, having been previously suspended for violation of the CPR.
“Unabashed, Atty. Ramirez maligned not only officers of this Court but the Court itself as an institution with her erratic outburst in the confines of this office. Evidently, Atty. Ramirez had shown a penchant for being arrogant and disrespectful in her dealings, whether in her private or professional life, pompously using her title ‘Atty.’ as a license to belittle and mock others who do not follow her suit. To the mind of this Court, her actions do not merit judicial empathy,” said the Court.
The Court also stressed the purpose of disbarment as a penalty: “[it] is not to punish the individual Attorney himself or herself, but rather ‘to safeguard the administration of justice by protecting the Court and the public from the misconduct of officers of the Court.’”
The Court added that disbarment is intended to cleanse the ranks of the legal profession of its undesirable members, “especially those who have disregarded their oath and have proved to be unfit to continue discharging the trust reposed in them as members of the bar, just like Ramirez in this case.” (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)
Full text of A.C. No. 10372 (Aurora R. Ladim, et al. v. Atty. Perla D. Ramirez) at https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/10372-aurora-r-ladim-angelito- a-ardiente-and-danilo-s-dela-cruz-vs-atty-perla-d-ramirez/