Supreme Court Disbars Lawyer for Representing that He Can Bribe Court of Appeals Justices
The Supreme Court En Banc, in a Decision penned by Associate Justice Japar B. Dimaampao, has disbarred Atty. William F. Delos Santos for representing to his client, complainant Norma F. Flores, that he can bribe the Justices of the Fifteenth Division of the Court of Appeals (CA).
Norma’s son, Mark, was convicted by the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 23 of violating Sections 5 and 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. Within the period to file an appeal before the CA, Norma and Mark sought the legal services of Delos Santos, who asked for ₱20,000.00 as initial acceptance fee, and PHP ₱5,000.00 as payment for the request of documents. Norma immediately paid Delos Santos the said amounts. She also subsequently made additional payments as required by the lawyer.
Sometime in 2015, Delos Santos coaxed Norma to produce an additional payment of ₱160,000.00, which he claimed would be used to “bribe” the Justices of the Fifteenth Division of the CA, where Mark’s case was pending. Delos Santos was able to persuade Norma by insisting that it was the only option she had to obtain a favorable judgment for her son.
Relying on this guarantee, Norma borrowed money from her friends and relatives to raise the amount. Following Delos Santos’ instructions, she deposited a total of ₱160,000.00 in a Banco De Oro Savings Account under the name of Delos Santos’ wife. Upon receiving the amount, Delos Santos reassured Norma that the money would be delivered to his insider or “facilitator” within the Fifteenth Division of the CA.
To Norma’s dismay, the Fifteenth Division of the CA affirmed her son’s conviction. She immediately called Delos Santos, who claimed “he did not know what happened” since he had made “the necessary arrangement with the Justices including his facilitator inside the Court of Appeals.” Delos Santos then promised Norma that he would return the money. However, he failed to do so, prompting her to file a complaint seeking for Delos Santos’ disbarment.
The Supreme Court required Delos Santos to comment on the complaint. When he failed to comply, the Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation.
Despite due notice, Delos Santos failed to attend the scheduled mandatory conference and submit the required pleadings. Thus, the IBP Investigating Commissioner found him liable for gross misconduct and recommended his disbarment from legal practice. Thereafter, the IBP Board of Governors adopted the Investigating Commissioner’s recommendation but modified the imposable penalty, ordering Delos Santos to return the amount of ₱160,000.00, with legal interest, to Norma and Mark.
Echoing the findings and recommendation of the IBP Board, the Court decreed that Delos Santos’ failure to comply with its Notice of Resolution, which required him to comment on the complaint, lent credence to the allegations in the complaint. Moreover, his “obstinate snobbery to comply with [the Court’s and the IBP’s] orders not only betrays a recalcitrant flaw in his character, [but] also underscores his disrespect of lawful orders which is only too deserving of reproof.”
The Court likewise noted Delos Santos’ previous suspension from the practice of law in Ong v. Atty. Delos Santos for serious misconduct and violations of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Hence, on account of his previous suspension and his evident violations of the Lawyer’s Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility in the present case, the Court stressed that he deserved no less than the ultimate penalty of disbarment.
The Court also ordered Delos Santos to return to Norma the amount of ₱160,000.00, with interest at the rate of 6% per annum. The Supreme Court Public Information Office will upload a copy of the Decision to the Supreme Court website as soon as it receives an official copy from the Office of the Clerk of Court En Banc.