A.C. No. 8954, November 13, 2013
HON. MARIBETH RODRIGUEZ-MANAHAN, Presiding Judge, Municipal Trial Court, San Mateo, Rizal, Complainant, v. ATTY. RODOLFO FLORES, Respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
More than mere contempt do his (Atty. Flores) unethical actuations, his traits of dishonesty and discourtesy not only to his own brethren in the legal profession, but also to the bench and judges, would amount to grave misconduct, if not a malpractice of law, a serious ground for disciplinary action of a member of the bar pursuant to Rules 139 a & b.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, furnish a copy of this Order to the Bar Discipline Committee, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, & to the Supreme Court en banc, for appropriate investigation and sanction.2
A complaint for Damages was filed before the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of San Mateo, Rizal docketed as Civil Case No. 1863, entitled Marsha Aranas vs. Arnold Balmores. The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) thru Atty. Ferdinand P. Censon represented the complainant while Atty. Rodolfo Flores appeared as counsel for the defendant.
x x x During the Preliminary Conference x x x, respondent Atty. Flores entered his appearance and was given time to file a Pre-Trial Brief. x x x On May 24, 2010, respondent Atty. Flores filed his Pre-Trial Brief but without proof of MCLE compliance [hence it] was expunged from the records without prejudice to the filing of another [P]re-[T]rial [B]rief containing the required MCLE compliance. x x x Atty. Flores asked [for] ten (10) days to submit proof.
The preliminary conference was reset several times (August 11, September 8) for failure of respondent Atty. Flores to appear and submit his [P]re-[T]rial [B]rief indicating thereon his MCLE compliance. The court a quo likewise issued Orders dated September 15 and October 20, 2010 giving respondent Atty. Flores [a] last chance to submit his [P]re-[T]rial [B]rief with stern warning that failure to do so shall be considered a waiver on his part.
Meanwhile, respondent Atty. Flores filed a Manifestation in Court dated September 14, 2010 stating among others, the following allegations:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryx x x
4. When you took your oath as member of the Bar, you promised to serve truth, justice and [fair play]. Do you think you are being truthful, just and fair by serving a cheater[?]
5. Ignorance of the law excuses no one for which reason even Erap was convicted by the Sandiganbayan. But [even worse] is a lawyer who violates the law.
6. Last but not the least, God said Thou shall not lie. Again the Philippine Constitution commands: Give every Filipino his due. The act of refusal by the plaintiff is violative of the foregoing divine and human laws.
x x x
Respondent Atty. Flores later filed his [P]re-[T]rial [B]rief bearing an MCLE number which was merely superimposed without indicating the date and place of compliance. During the preliminary conference on November 24, 2010, respondent Atty. Flores manifested that he will submit proof of compliance of his MCLE on the following day. On December 1, 2010, respondent Atty. Flores again failed to appear and to submit the said promised proof of MCLE compliance. In its stead, respondent Atty. Flores filed a Letter of even date stating as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryIf only to give your Honor another chance to prove your pro plaintiff sentiment, I am hereby filing the attached Motion which [you may once more] assign to the waste basket of [nonchalance].
With the small respect that still remains, I have asked the defendant to look for another lawyer to represent him for I am no longer interested in this case because I feel I cannot do anything right in your sala.5
While a lawyer owes absolute fidelity to the cause of his client, full devotion to his client’s genuine interest and warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his client’s rights, as well as the exertion of his utmost learning and ability, he must do so only within the bounds of law. A lawyer is entitled to voice his criticism within the context of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech which must be exercised responsibly. After all, every right carries with it the corresponding obligation. Freedom is not freedom from responsibility, but freedom with responsibility. The lawyer’s fidelity to his client must not be pursued at the expense of truth and orderly administration of justice. It must be done within the confines of reason and common sense.9
1Rollo, pp. 2-5.
2 Id. at 5.
3 Id. at 1, 7.
4 Id. at 28-31.
5 Id. at 28-30.
6 Id. at 31.
7 Id., unpaginated.
8Lt. Villaflor v. Sarita, 367 Phil. 399, 407 (1999), citing De Leon v. Torres, 99 Phil. 462, 466 (1956).
9Re: Letter dated 21 February 2005 of Atty. Noel Sorreda, 502 Phil. 292, 301(2005).
10 Rollo, p. 37.