3 lawyers face disbarment over Meralco case

THE lawyer of First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo and two Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) counsels are not yet off the hook from the Meralco ownership case before the Court of Appeals (CA).

A complaint for disbarment was filed Thursday against lawyer Jesus Santos, also a member of the GSIS board of trustees, and GSIS counsels Estrella Elamparo and Orlando Polinar for their respective violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility for lawyers.

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Alan Paguia, a former lawyer of deposed President Joseph Estrada, who himself had been suspended indefinitely by the Supreme Court (SC) in a separate case, filed the disbarment case as a taxpayer and lawyer.

In his complaint, Paguia alleged that Santos committed the same violations as Presidential Commission on Good Government chairman Camilo Sabio when the latter called up his brother, CA Associate Justice Jose Sabio Jr., allegedly to influence him “to help the GSIS.”

The SC, in its September 9 decision, ruled that Camilo’s telephone call to relay to his brother the rightness of the GSIS’ cause constituted an impropriety in violation of the law, “prompted by a call from a member of the Board of Trustees of GSIS.”

Camilo’s action was referred by the Court to the Bar Confidant for appropriate action.

According to Paguia, it would appear from the record that Camilo would not or could not have committed the impropriety had Santos not prompted or instigated him to do so.

From that point, there was a “meeting of minds” between Santos and Camilo in conspiring to push for the GSIS’ cause, thus they are similarly situated, said Paguia.

“The impropriety would not have been committed without the instigation of Attorney Santos. Chairman Sabio appears to have been completely ignorant of the material facts until Santos informed him. It would follow that there was a meeting of minds between the two, pursuant to which the act of impropriety was committed,” he stated in his complaint.

Paguia further said that unless the SC treated Santos in the same manner as it applied Canon 13 of the Code of Professional Responsibility in the case of Camilo, the equal protection clause of the Constitution would be violated.

Canon 13 states that: “A lawyer shall refrain from any impropriety, which tends to influence or gives the appearance of influencing the court.”

As for Elamparo and Polinar, Paguia said their actions of personally furnishing CA Justice Vicente Roxas, ponente of the Meralco case, a copy of their motion to defer action on the petition filed by the Lopezes “patently tends to influence or gives the appearance of influencing Roxas.”

He pointed out that under the law, the act of filing any motion is complete the moment it is received by the receiving clerk.

In this case, Paguia said the two GSIS lawyers, instead of being satisfied with such completion of filing, persisted in personally furnishing Roxas a copy of their motion, clearly to impress upon him the urgency of their motion and for the magistrate to take immediate action. (ECV/Sunnex)


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