Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1940 > January 1940 Decisions > Adm. Case No. 745 January 22, 1940 - IRINEA DE LOS SANTOS v. CELESTINO SAGALONGOS

069 Phil 406:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[Adm. Case No. 745. January 22, 1940.]

IRINEA DE LOS SANTOS, Complainant, v. CELESTINO SAGALONGOS, Respondent.

Solicitor-General Ozaeta and Assistant Solicitor-General Concepcion for complainant.

The respondent in his own behalf.

SYLLABUS


1. ATTORNEY-AT-LAW; DISBARMENT; VIOLATION OF OATH OF OFFICE. — Respondent C. S. is disbarred from the practice of law in the Philippines, because in deliberately and maliciously withholding from the court certain facts of which he had full knowledge in an attempt to unjustly and unlawfully deprive others of their legitimate rights, he acted with betrayal to the court of which he is an officer, and sought thereby to pervert the administration of justice, in gross violation of his oath of office.


D E C I S I O N


MORAN, J.:


An action for malpractice instituted by Irinea de los Santos against attorney Celestino Sagalongos.

The basic facts of the case are as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

The deceased, Gervasio Baetiong, survived by Vicenta Baetiong, a daughter by his first marriage, and by the complainant herein, Irinea de los Santos, his widow by second marriage and their three children, Celestina, Aurelia, Concordia and Amando, all surnamed Baetiong, left as his sole property a tract of land of about three and one-half hectares, situated in the municipality of Caloocan, Rizal, with transfer certificate of title No. 21998, issued in the name of Gervasio Baetiong, "casado con Irinea de los Santos." In the cadastral proceedings in said municipality, Irinea de los Santos and Vicenta Baetiong both claimed the property, and upon the advice of certain friends who intervened with a view to an amicable settlement of the conflicting claims, they agreed to divide the same. To this erect, respondent herein, Celestino Sagalongos, prepared in pencil writing an agreement of the following tenor:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"On this 17th day of September, 1984, we Irinea de los Santos, the surviving second wife of the deceased Gervasio Baetiong, and Vicenta Baetiong the only surviving daughter of said deceased Gervasio Baetiong hereby agree that the herein described property shall be divided as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"1. Ha. more or less to be inscribed in the name of Vicenta Baetiong and the rest

"In the name of Irinea de los Santos.

"Signed:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

IRINEA DE LOS SANTOS VICENTA BAETIONG

Her mark. Her mark."

The clerk of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, who was then commissioned to receive the evidence in the cadastral case, refused to accept and act upon the agreement until it was written in ink. For some reason or another, the agreement was never reduced to writing in the form required by the commissioner, and was ultimately abandoned. About two weeks later, respondent Celestino Sagalongos, as counsel for Vicenta Baetiong, filed a petition in the Court of First Instance of Rizal, for the summary distribution of the estate of the late Gervasio Baetiong, alleging therein, among others, that the deceased "was survived by his only legitimate daughter Vicenta Baetiong." The petition made absolutely no reference to Irinea de los Santos and her children with the deceased and prayed that "Vicenta Baetiong be declared . . . the sole legitimate heir of the deceased Gervasio Baetiong." At the hearing of the petition, respondent introduced evidence tending to prove not, only the aforementioned allegation, but also that the name of Irinea de los Santos was included in the transfer certificate of title by mistake. On the strength of the evidence thus adduced, the court, in its order of October 30, 1934, adjudged Vicenta Baetiong the sole heir of the deceased and, accordingly, adjudicated the property in her favor "sin perjuicio de los derechos de algun heredero o acreedor que haya sido privado de la herencia dentro de las limitaciones senaladas por la ley." Thereafter, respondent caused the transfer certificate of title to be cancelled and a new one issued in the name of Vicenta Baetiong. And, upon his advice, Vicenta Baetiong thereafter executed a deed of conveyance of said property in favor of one Feliciano Cleofas. Respondent personally filed this deed of conveyance with the office of the register of deeds and secured the cancellation of the transfer certificate of title issued in the name of Vicenta Baetiong and the issuance of a new one in the name of Feliciano Cleofas. Complainant herein, Irinea de los Santos, learned of the summary proceedings instituted by Vicenta Baetiong and of the result thereof. On or about January 28, 1935, she filed a motion praying that the court’s order of October 30, 1934, be set aside. After the hearing of this motion, the court revoked the order of October 30, 1934, and instructed Irinea de los Santos to propose the name of the person to be appointed as administrator of the estate of the deceased. Respondent, as counsel for Vicenta Baetiong, did not appeal from this order. Later, the conveyance made of the property in favor of Feliciano Cleofas was annulled by the Court of Appeals in a decision wherein he was adjudged to be a purchaser in bad faith.

The above facts show positively that the respondent, at the time of filing the petition for the summary distribution of the estate of the deceased, Gervasio Baetiong, and at the hearing thereof, knew that Vicenta Baetiong was not the only legitimate heir of the deceased, and that Irinea de los Santos and her three children were also heirs of said deceased; but he deliberately withheld this fact for the purpose of perverting the administration of justice to his benefit and that of his client and to the injury of said Irinea de los Santos and her three children.

Respondent claims that when Vicenta Baetiong entrusted her case to him, with the end in view of presenting a petition for the summary distribution of the property in question, she made no mention to him of Irinea de los Santos; that he merely ruled upon her representation that she was the only heir of the deceased; and that he did not inquire from her as to whether the deceased had been survived by some other heirs. This assertion is utterly incredible. It is inconceivable that, noticing, as he admitted, that the title to the property was in the name of the deceased, "casado con Irinea de los Santos," he would not have inquired from Vicenta Baetiong whether or not her father had really married Irinea de los Santos. When he prepared the agreement two weeks before then, he knew the claim of Irinea de los Santos as surviving second wife of the deceased. In fact, he even threatened Irinea de los Santos, at the time the agreement was being prepared, that, unless she settled her differences with Vicenta Baetiong in an amicable way, she would have a trouble in the form of a litigation. These circumstances are conclusive as to his full knowledge of the status of Irinea de los Santos and of her lawful claim to the property.

Besides, subsequent circumstances disclose an attitude of mind on the part of the respondent clearly indicative of his consciousness of guilt. At the hearing of the motion of the complainant herein for the reconsideration of the order adjudicating the property in favor of Vicenta Baetiong, respondent did not even attempt to present any evidence to contradict the evidence for the complainant, which he should if he really believed the facts to be as alleged by him in the petition, and simply limited himself to contending, against the explicit provisions of the law, that the court had no jurisdiction to set aside its order. That he knew that his contention was untenable is shown by the fact that he did not appeal from the order overruling his contention and setting aside the order of October 30, 1934. In fact, he impliedly acquiesced thereto by permitting the appointment of Irinea de los Santos as administratrix of the estate of the deceased, allowing her to discharge her duties as such, and submitting a counter-project of partition wherein he alleged that Gervasio Baetiong "was survived by Vicenta Baetiong, his only daughter from his first marriage with the deceased, Lorenza de la Cruz, by Irinea de los Santos, his second wife and his three children from the latter, to wit: Cornelia, Concordia and Amando, all surnamed Baetiong."cralaw virtua1aw library

Respondent, on his admission to the bar, took the following oath of office:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"I do solemnly swear that I will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any false, groundless, or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, but will conduct myself in the office of a lawyer within the courts according to the best of my knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients. So help me God."cralaw virtua1aw library

In deliberately and maliciously withholding from the court certain facts of which he had full knowledge in an attempt to unjustly and unlawfully deprive other of their legitimate rights, he acted with betrayal to the court of which he is an officer, and sought thereby to pervert the administration of justice, in gross violation of his oath of office.

Wherefore, respondent, Calestino Sagalongos, is hereby disbarred from the practice of law in the Philippines, with costs against him.

Avanceña, C.J., Villa-Real, Imperial, Diaz, Laurel and Concepcion, JJ., concur.




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