Posted by: Elmer Brabante | May 9, 2009

MARIA ANGALAN vs. ATTY. LEONIDO DELANTE


MARIA ANGALAN, et al. vs. ATTY. LEONIDO C. DELANTE
AC No. 7181
February 6, 2009
(en banc)

FACTS:

In april 1971, herein complainants mortgaged 8.102 hectares of their property to the Eustaquio spouses in consideration of a loan in the amount of P15,000. The Eustaqios prepared a document and sked the complainants to sign it; but because complainants were illiterates, they affixed their marks instead. It turned out that the document was a deed of absolute sale and not a real estate mortgage. Hence, TCT No. 9926 was issued in the name of Navarro Eustaquio.

Complainants engaged the services of respondent Atty. Leonido Delante in November 1970 as shown in the receipt by respondent of P12,000 representing full payment of his professional fees from the complainants. Thereafter, an amicable settlement was entered into between complainants and the Eustaquios which stipulated that the complainants would repurchase the lot at P30,000. But since the complainants did not have the money, Atty. Delante advanced the money to complainants, possessed the property and gathered its produce.

When the complainants tried to repay the money and recover the property, Atty. Delante refused. Complainants learned that Delante transferred the title of the property to his name as evidenced by TCT No. T-57932.

On April 30, 204, complainants filed with the RTC of Davao a complaint for (1) nullification of the deed of absolute sale, and (2) nullification of TCT No. T-57932; and on December 28, 2005 charged respondent with gross violation of the Code Professional Responsibilty. In April 2007, complainants filed with the Court a motion to withdraw the complaint for disbarment and an affidavit of desistance.

ISSUES:

(1.) whether or not a motion to withdraw the complaint for disbarment and an affidavit of desistance terminates the disbarment proceeding;

(2.) whether or not respondent committed grave violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility when he bought the property of his clients without their consent and against their will.

HELD:

A motion to withdraw the complaint for disbarment and an affidavit of desistance is immaterial. Section 5, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court states that, “No investigation shall be interrupted or terminated by reason of the desistance, settlement, compromise, restitution, withdrawal of charges, or failure of the complainant to prosecute the same.”

Respondent violated Canons 16 and 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Canon 16 states that lawyers shall hold in trust all properties of their clients that may come into their possession. Respondent should have held in trust TCT No. T-9926 and returned the property to complainants upon demand. Instead of holding in trust the property of complainants, respondent (1) transferred the title of the property to his name, (2) refused to return the property to complainants, and (3) referred to complainants’ charges as malicious and untruthful.

Canon 17 states that lawyers shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in them. Respondent should have been mindful of the trust and confidence complainants reposed in him. Complainants allege that they are illiterate and that the Spouses Eustaquio took advantage of them. Complainants engaged the services of respondent in the hope that he would help them recover their property. Instead of protecting the interests of complainants, respondent took advantage of complainants and transferred the title of the property to his name.

Considering the depravity of respondent’s offense, the Court finds the recommended penalty too light. Violation of Canons 16 and 17 constitutes gross misconduct. Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court states that a member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Court for gross misconduct.

A person who takes the 8.102-hectare property of his illiterate clients and who is incapable of telling the truth is unfit to be a lawyer.

The Court finds Atty. Leonido C. Delante GUILTY of violating Canons 16 and 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, the Court DISBARS him from the practice of law and ORDERS that his name be stricken from the Roll of Attorneys.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: