The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the disbarment of a lawyer for multiple violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR), including receiving more than P13 million from his client purportedly to secure a “favorable resolution on a criminal case.”
Unfortunately, counsel lost the case at the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office.
In an en banc decision, the SC also ordered that lawyer Carlo Marco Bautista be immediately stricken off the Roll of Attorneys after finding him guilty of violating several provisions of the CPR.
“The latest action of the Court is a clear indication that the Judiciary is committed to purging the legal profession of erring members,” the SC Public Information Office (PIO) said in a statement.
The SC ruled that “Bautista’s blatant violations of the CPR and his sacrosanct duties as a lawyer warrant the imposition of the extreme penalty of disbarment.”
The complaint against Bautista was filed before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines by Anthony Lim who engaged the services of the lawyer in the criminal case filed by Lim’s father before the Makati City prosecutor’s office.
The SC PIO did not identify the nature of the criminal case.
“Lim alleged that Bautista acted as fixer, solicited money from him to influence the decision of the prosecutors, and failed to provide an accounting thereof, among others, in gross violation of the CPR,” the SC said.
“Lim claimed he issued checks to Bautista which the former encashed. Lim’s father lost the case despite Bautista’s repeated assurances and the money paid in favor of the respondent (Bautista) and his supposed contacts,” it added.
The IBP’s Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) recommended that Bautista be disbarred “for his unlawful, dishonest, and deceitful conduct, making him unfit to practice law.”
The SC sustained the findings of the IBP-CBD and “held that there was substantial evidence presented to convince the Court that the money was exchanged in consideration of the legal services of Bautista and for the mobilization of the latter’s contacts at the national prosecution service.”
The SC ruled that Lim and Bautista “did not dispute the exchange of money between them, citing that the records show that Bautista’s receipt of millions of pesos from the complainant was adequately supported by substantial evidence through Bautista’s own admissions and the checks issued by the complainant amounting to P13.3M, with Bautista indicated as payee.”
“For these, the Court held the respondent Bautista liable for violations of Canons 15, 17, 18, and 19 of the CPR. Canon 15 states that a lawyer shall observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and transactions with his clients; Canon 17 states that a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him; Canon 18 states that a lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence; while Canon 19 states that a lawyer shall represent his client with zeal within the bounds of the law,” the SC stressed.
“Likewise, the Court found the Bautista guilty of violating Rules 1.01 and 1.02 of Canon 1 of the CPR. Rule 1.01 bars a lawyer from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct, while Rule 1.02 says a lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system,” it said.
The High Court stressed that Bautista violated these provisions “when he advised and represented to the complainant that the national prosecution service can be influenced and bought.”
The Court also ruled that the Bautista violated Rules 16.01 and 16.04 of Canon 16 of the CPR, which mandates a lawyer to account for all the money received from the client.
“In addition, as admitted by Bautista himself, he loaned P300,000 from the complainant and had already paid the same in full. The Court said this was in violation of Rule 16.04 which considers the lawyer’s act of borrowing money from a client as unethical,” it added.
“The Court reiterated that the lawyer’s act of influence-peddling for implying that he is able to influence any public official, tribunal or legislative body erodes the public’s trust and confidence in the legal system and puts the administration of the justice in a bad light,” the high court ruled.