Disbarment case filed vs ‘Alabang Boys’ lawyer


MANILA — Two anti-crime groups on Thursday asked that Felisberto Verano Jr., lawyer for the so-called “Alabang Boys” who were arrested in drug operations in September last year, be disbarred.

Meanwhile, because of the controversial “Alabang Boys” drug case involving three suspects from prominent families, lawmakers on Thursday said they are open to restoring the death penalty for drug traffickers.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) filed a disbarment complaint with the Supreme Court (SC) against Verano, while the Citizens Crime Watch (CCW) urged the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to subject the lawyer to a disbarment probe.

The IBP earlier said it will investigate Verano for possible disbarment after he admitted that he drafted a release order for his clients, Richard Brodett and Joseph Tecson, once a complaint has been filed with the lawyers’ group.

If the IBP finds probable cause for the disbarment, it will then endorse the complaint to the SC as an administrative matter, which will then dispose the case accordingly.

The High Court, for its part, is waiting the National Bureau of Investigation’s report on the matter before taking any action against Verano.

Brodett and Tecson, who along with Jorge Joseph, were arrested by agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in two separate buy-bust operations in Cubao, Quezon City and in Alabang, Muntinlupa after yielding 60 tablets of Ecstasy, packets of marijuana, and sachets of cocaine.

According to VACC chairman Dante Jimenez, Verano’s using such kind of tactics should be stopped.

“What Attorney Verano has done is wrong and a grave breach of what we expect a lawyer to do, a grave breach of ethics,” he said.

In seeking Verano’s disbarment, Jimenez said the lawyer committed two “grave mistakes that undermine the public’s trust and view of the profession.”

“The number one violation he committed is when he drafted the release order, he even admitted that, when he has no right or legal authority to do that. And second, when he used stationery with a letterhead of the Department of Justice in drafting the release order. That letterhead is a government property and he has no business appropriating that for his use since he is a private lawyer and not a government lawyer,” he said.

These, he said, are more than enough reason for Verano to be stricken off the lawyer’s roll.

“We will push through with the filing. A lawyer like Attorney Verano is one of the reasons why the people have lost trust in the country’s justice system,” added Jimenez.

For his part, CCW head Jose Malgar-Villegas said the IBP should remove Verano from their list for his act.

“Our complaint before the IBP is ‘conduct unbecoming’ of a member of the bar and ‘unethical practice’,” Villegas said.

IBP president Feliciano Bautista, in a radio interview, explained that any decision they will make is only recommendatory to the SC.

“The Supreme Court has the final say,” Bautista said.

Speaker Prospero Nograles said he is open to reviving capital punishment as a way to stop the drug menace in the country.

“Personally, I am seriously considering death penalty for drug suppliers and dealers,” he said in a text message.

Muntinlupa City Rep. Rozzano Rufino said he would file a bill on Monday (Jan. 12) seeking to impose death penalty on drug traffickers.

“Unlike murderers or rapists who may be reformed, drug lords have the capacity to live comfortable lives in prison while business goes on. They knowingly earn from the misery of others,” he said.

Even Dangerous Drugs Board Chairman Vicente “Tito” Sotto III wants to restore death penalty against convicted drug traffickers.

Sotto said he was constantly lobbying for the reimposition of the death penalty after it was repealed by the 13th Congress.

For his part, PDEA Director General Dionisio Santiago is also pushing for the return of death penalty, but this time against drug pushers.

Santiago said this was “very urgent,” since drug use in the country was a “security threat.”

In June 2006, President Arroyo signed the abolition of the death penalty.

Up to this time, there are still debates between those who want to retain it and those who do not think it is a deterrent to criminality.

There are also lawmakers like Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman who are not in favor to revive the death penalty.

Lagman criticized the move as a “knee-jerk” reaction to the controversial drug case involving the arrest of the “Alabang Boys” and the dismissal of charges against them amid allegations that officials from the Department of Justice (DoJ) and PDEA had been bribed.(AH/PNA/Sunnex)

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