A.C. No. 8644 [Formerly CBD Case No. 11-2908], January 22, 2014
AIDA R. CAMPOS, ALISTAIR R. CAMPOS AND CHARMAINE R. CAMPOS, Complainants, v. ATTY. ELISEO M. CAMPOS, Respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
That when I applied for titling of said lot[,] I caused it to be registered in the name of [Alistair], who was still single, as I have some other properties (land) under my name;
That I never intended to give it to [Alistair] as he [still has a] sister;
That when the title was released[,] it was kept in our files;
That when I filed an annulment case against my wife which is now pending before the [RTC] of Bayugan, I offered to my wife as a settlement to have our properties settled[.] [O]ne of [these properties] is this lot, which I asked to be sold and its proceeds be divided between us. I have learned that my wife refused to have that property sold claiming that I could not sell the house and lot as it is [in] the name of our son[,] herein complainant Alistair R. Campos;
x x x x
That my son’s statement in his complaint affidavit that the Owner[’]s Duplicate of the Title of the Lot has long been in his actual, physical and personal possession, is utterly false, as the title was previously in our possession in our files as the property is undersigned[']s own exclusive property. x x x
That when I learned that together with my wife[,] he is going to apply for a loan making the title of the lot as collateral, I decided to file a petition for cancellation of the title under my son’s name Alistair R. Campos, and asked Mrs. Azucena A. Ortiz, to get a certified copy of the title from the Register of Deeds to be used in the filing of a petition for cancellation of the title in my son’s name;
That I was told by Mrs. Ortiz, that she was told by the Register of Deeds, that I have to execute an affidavit of loss so that I can be given a certified copy. Since the title is not in my possession after I left my residence and I cannot find it from my files, I let Mrs. Ortiz prepare an affidavit of loss and I signed it. I have also instructed her to [cause the annotation of the affidavit on the certificate of title] to protect my interest as the real owner of the lot, to counter or stop my wife and son from using the titles as collateral of a loan;
x x x x.10
“[W]hen [Eliseo] found [out] that the [t]itle of the lot he bought was missing and could not be found in his files, he did the proper actions to protect his rights thereto by executing an Affidavit of Loss.
x x x [W]hen [Eliseo] sensed that his wife is about to obtain a loan using the [t]itle as collateral without his consent and to protect his right as owner of the property, he went to the Register of Deeds to cancel his son’s ownership over the lot in question with the intent to revert back its ownership in his name. However, when asked to produce a copy of its duplicate original, [Eliseo] could not present the same as it was already lost and could not be retrieved from his files. To prove its loss, an Affidavit of Loss was executed by [Eliseo] attesting to the fact of its unavailability.
x x x [I]t can be deduced that the act of [Eliseo] was done in good faith. x x x [T]he intent of [Eliseo] in executing the Affidavit is not tainted with [a] corrupt assertion of falsehood since there was [a] firm belief that indeed[,] the [t]itle is not anymore found in his files. It could not be located and the [t]itle is kept by [Alistair] who took side[s] with [Aida] who has plans to enjoy [the] benefits from the [t]itle using it as [a] collateral in obtaining [a] loan from the lot covered by [the] said [t]itle. [Had Alistair been truthful to Eliseo, the former could have informed the latter of the] whereabouts of the [t]itle [and could] have sought permission from his father when he took [the] copy of the [t]itle from [Eliseo’s] files. By not informing [Eliseo], [he] could not be faulted for executing such Affidavit and neither can he be found guilty of perjury as there was no malice on his part to do the same. x x x.”12 (Citation omitted)
[A]fter adjournment of the hearing of the annulment case, the judge called the parties to his chamber for a conference. [Aida] however was reluctant to go unless her children would join her. The judge then called all of them to the chamber. Once there, the Judge inquired about [Eliseo’s] proposal for settlement. While [Eliseo] was explaining to the judge, [Charmaine] reacted by raising her voice uttering unprintable words to [Eliseo]. [Eliseo] requested her to calm down reminding her that they were still in court. But she continued her tirade at [Eliseo] with greater intensity even calling him a bad father, and that she despised him. x x x Charmaine had already been ejected by the judge out of the court for lack of decorum and respect. The order for her removal arose after she interrupted the court several times by shouting at [Eliseo]. When she was already outside the court premises, she was even heard by a certain Samuel Pasagdan saying that [Eliseo] should watch out after the hearing as she was going to attack him. The prior incident (where she was thrown out of court) made her angrier in the chamber. So when she continued with her unpleasant and scandalous utterances by again interrupting [Eliseo] who was asked by the judge to talk about his proposal for settlement, [Eliseo] walked to her and held her by her shoulder to put some sense to her that she really had to calm down out of respect [for] the judge. There was no choking of Charmaine. But, this sight of holding Charmaine by the shoulder was viewed differently by [Alistair] who flung with force and recklessness a bag containing an unknown hard object to [Eliseo]. [Eliseo] was hit and in pain. At this point, Charmaine suddenly held [Eliseo] from behind so he could not defend himself from the onslaught of Alistaire (sic) who was poised to attack him. [Eliseo] was forced to elbow Charmaine to break free from her hold. There was a brief exchange of punches between Alistair and [Eliseo] before the Presiding Judge broke the fray. This incident could not have happened if not for Charmaine’s own misdemeanor and initial provocation.25crallawlibrary
The main issue in the case at bar is whether or not [Eliseo] committed serious misconduct sufficient to cause his disbarment. The determination of [Eliseo’s] culpability is dependent on the following: 1. whether or not [Eliseo] was dishonest with regards to the statements he made in his Petition for Annulment. [Corollarily] whether or not [Eliseo] is guilty of immoral conduct; 2. Whether or not the statements raised in the Affidavit of Loss concerning the certificate of title of the Campos’ property were untrue; and 3. Whether or not [Eliseo] choked his daughter, Charmaine, during the amicable settlement of the annulment case in the (sic) Judge Casal’s (sic) chambers.
The Commission finds in the negative. Gross or serious misconduct has been defined as “any inexcusable, shameful and flagrant unlawful conduct on the part of the person concerned in the administration of justice which is prejudicial to the rights of the parties or to the right determination of a cause, a conduct that is generally motivated by a predetermined, obstinate or intentional purpose (Yumol[,] Jr. vs. Ferrer[,] Sr.[,] 456 SCRA 457).
As a consequence of finding of gross misconduct has been held to be “a ground for the imposition of the penalty of suspension or disbarment because good character is an essential qualification for the admission to the practice of law and for the continuance of such privilege.” (Cham v. Atty. Paita-Moya[,] A.C. No. 7494, June 27, 2008).
In the same vein, the Supreme Court has likewise held that: “A lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor. Possession of good moral character is not only a good condition precedent to the practice of law but also a good qualification for all members of the bar (Manaois v. Deciembre[,] A.M. Case No. 5564, August 20, 2008).
In the case at bar, the complainants’ averments of [Eliseo’s] alleged transgressions[,] i.e. the incongruence of his homosexuality and the extramarital relation of [Eliseo] as grounds for annulment compared with the complainants’ allegation that [Eliseo] admitted that he has a mistress; the alleged choking of [Charmaine]; and the execution of the Affidavit of Loss despite knowledge of the fact that the certificate of title was with [Alistair] who is the registered owner of the subject property taken on their own is a valid ground to find [Eliseo] guilty of gross misconduct.
However, [Eliseo] has succinctly rebutted each and every single allegation of the complainants making the case at fore a battle of opposing narration of facts.
More importantly, the pieces of evidence presented by the complainants are insufficient to prove their claim beyond the degree of evidence required of them by law to satisfy and overcome.
Basic and fundamental is the rule that “the burden of proof is upon the complainant and the Court will exercise the disciplinary power only if the former establishes the case by clear, convincing and satisfactory evidence.”
x x x x
In the case at bar, [apart] from the allegations in the complaint, no other evidence was presented by the complainants to bolster their claims. Aside from the statements made in the complaint, no other corroborative or collaborating evidence documentary or testimonial from independent, third person was presented to convince this Commission by clear, convincing and satisfactory proof that [Eliseo] is guilty of the allegations contained therein.31 (Citation omitted)
[T]he Board, upon a thorough perusal of the records, finds sufficient evidence to sustain misconduct on the part of [Eliseo] as a lawyer, specifically his filing an Affidavit of Loss of Title to Real Property which Title was in the name of Alistair[,] his son, and which was in the latter’s possession, substantiated with annexes and affidavits. The same holds true for the alleged choking incident in the Judge’s chamber which was caused to be blottered, Annex “G”. [Eliseo] also admitted his infidelity albeit he postulated the defense of homosexuality. All these, taken together, fall short of the ethical standards set forth for lawyers in the Code of Professional Responsibility.32crallawlibrary
Whether or not Eliseo committed acts of dishonesty, immorality and serious misconduct in:chanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Causing the issuance of OCT No. P-28258 in Alistair’s name;
Subsequently misrepresenting himself as the real owner of the lot covered by OCT No. P-28258;
Falsely declaring under oath in the Affidavit of Loss executed on September 10, 2008 that the owner’s copy of OCT No. P-28258 is missing despite his knowledge that the said title is with Alistair;
Stating in his Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage that he is a homosexual albeit admitting to his children that he has an intimate relation with another woman; and
Choking and boxing his children on September 14, 2009.
This administrative case against respondent shall also be considered as a disciplinary proceeding against him as a member of the Bar, in accordance with AM. No. 02-9-02-SC. This resolution, entitled “Re: Automatic Conversion of Some Administrative Cases Against Justices of the Court of Appeals and the Sandiganbayan; Judges of Regular and Special Courts; and Court Officials Who are Lawyers as Disciplinary Proceedings Against Them Both as Such Officials and as Members of the Philippine Bar,” provides:chanRoblesVirtualawlibrary“Some administrative cases against Justices of the Court of Appeals and the Sandiganbayan; judges of regular and special courts; and the court officials who are lawyers are based on grounds which are likewise grounds for the disciplinary action of members of the Bar for violation of the Lawyer’s Oath, the Code of Professional Responsibility, and the Canons of Professional Ethics, or for such other forms of breaches of conduct that have been traditionally recognized as grounds for the discipline of lawyers.Under the same rule, a respondent “may forthwith be required to comment on the complaint and show cause why he should not also be suspended, disbarred or otherwise disciplinary sanctioned as member of the Bar.” xxx In other words, an order to comment on the complaint is an order to give an explanation on why he should not be held administratively liable not only as a member of the bench but also as a member of the bar. This is the fair and reasonable meaning of “automatic conversion” of administrative cases against justices and judges to disciplinary proceedings against them as lawyers. This will also serve the purpose of A.M. No. 02-9-02-SC to avoid the duplication or unnecessary replication of actions by treating an administrative complaint filed against a member of the bench also as a disciplinary proceeding against him as a lawyer by mere operation of the rule. Thus, a disciplinary proceeding as a member of the bar is impliedly instituted with the filing of an administrative case against a justice of the Sandiganbayan, Court of Appeals and Court of Tax Appeals or a judge of a first- or second-level court.34 (Citations and emphasis omitted)
In any of the foregoing instances, the administrative case shall also be considered a disciplinary action against the respondent justice, judge or court official concerned as a member of the Bar. x x x. Judgment in both respects may be incorporated in one decision or resolution.”
x x x x
Unbecoming conduct “applies to a broader range of transgressions of rules not only of social behavior but of ethical practice or logical procedure or prescribed method.”39crallawlibrary
* Additional member per Raffle dated January 22, 2014 vice Associate Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro.
1Rollo, pp. 1-5.
2See Eliseo’s Counter-Affidavit, dated December 23, 2008, which he executed relative to Alistair’s complaint for perjury, id., at 24-25; OCT No. P-28258, id. at 10-11.
3 Id. at 6-8; The petition, docketed as Civil Case No. 1118, was subsequently raffled to Branch 7 of the RTC.
4 Id. at 9.
5See Entry No. 6963 inscribed in the certificate of title; id. at 11.
6 Id. at 52.
7See Entry No. 7545 annotated in the certificate of title; id. at 11.
8See Affidavit-Complaint; id. at 22-23.
9 Id. at 24-25.
10See Eliseo’s Counter-Affidavit; id.
11See Eliseo’s letters (a) dated August 30, 2009, addressed to J. Jose D. Perez, then Court Administrator, id. at 75; and (b) dated September 22, 2010, addressed to Atty. Ma. Luisa Laurea, then Clerk of Court, id. at 66.
12 Please see Eliseo’s Position Paper filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ Commission on Bar Discipline; id. at 101-102.
13 Id. at 12-15.
14 A.M. No. MTJ-10-1761, entitled “Aida R. Campos, et al. v. Judge Eliseo M. Campos, Municipal Trial Court, Bayugan, Agusan del Sur”.
15See Eliseo’s letter addressed to J. Jose D. Perez, then Court Administrator; rollo, p. 73.
16See Certification dated September 14, 2009; id. at 27.
17 Id. at 1-5.
18See Eliseo’s letter addressed to Atty. Ma. Luisa Laurea, then Clerk of Court; id at 64-67.
19 Resolution dated November 17, 2010; id at 77.
20 Id. at 90-108.
21 Id. at 93, 104-105.
22 Id. at 97.
23 Id. at 95-96.
24 Id. at 96-97; Note that Eliseo now made reference to a house constructed on the lot covered by OCT No. P-28258.
25 Id. at 98-99.cralawred
26 TSN dated March 18, 2011, id. at 115-173, at 140-144.
27 Id. at 148-149.
28 Please see Report and Recommendation, id. at 179-189, at 184.
30 Id. at 179-189.
31 Id. at 187-189.
32 Id. at 178.
33 A.M. No. RTJ-08-2138, August 5, 2009, 595 SCRA 423.
34 Id. at 431, 435-436.
35 Supra note 33.
36 Please see note 25.
37 CANON 7. - A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and support the activities of the Integrated Bar.
38 A.M. No. 08-19-SB-J, August 24, 2010, 628 SCRA 626.
39 Id. at 653, citing Zacarias v. National Police Commission, G.R. No. 119847, October 24, 2003, 414 SCRA 387, 392.
40 Please see Atty. Roel O. Paras v. Myrna F. Lofranco, 407 Phil. 329 (2001).
42 Supra note 27.