Gaviola v. Salcedo : AC 3037 : May 20, 2004 : J. Corona : Third Division
[A.C. NO. 3037 : May
TRIFONIA J. GAVIOLA, Complainant, v. ATTY. ERASTO D. SALCEDO,
R E S O L U T I O N
This is a complaint for disbarment filed by Trifonia
J. Gaviola against respondent Atty. Erasto D. Salcedo for gross misconduct and deceit.
In her complaint, Gaviola alleged that
respondent was one of the partners of the law firm which assisted her when a
controversy arose between her and Mindanao School of Arts and Trades (MSAT),
now Don Mariano Marcos Memorial Polytechnic State
in connection with her possession
of a 21,163 square meter lot (Lot No. 3715 B-1) located at Lapasan,
Cagayan de Oro City.
For legal services rendered, complainant conveyed portions of Lot
No. 3715 B-1 to the partners of the firm, as follows: 4,000 square meters to
Atty. Abeto Salcedo, 3,000 square meters to Atty. Emilie Salcedo-Babarin and 2,000
square meters to respondent Atty. Erasto Salcedo.
After Atty. Abeto Salcedos death on
October 14, 1985, respondent allegedly started harassing and intimidating
complainant, asking for an additional portion of Lot 3715 B-1.He supposedly claimed that he was unfairly
treated for having been paid less than what Atty. Abeto
Salcedo and Atty. Emilie SalcedoBabarin
Complainant further alleged that respondent instigated, for a
consideration, one Bernarda Sabanal
to file a case against her and provoked some 50 squatters to forcibly enter and
settle on her property on the pretext that it was public land open to any
occupant. Hence, this complaint against respondent.
Respondent vehemently denied all the charges against him. He
alleged that this was not a conflict between him and complainant but between
him and his niece, Atty. Emilie Salcedo-Babarin, who allegedly maneuvered complainant into filing
this case against him because of professional jealousy and a family feud.
In a resolution dated February 27, 1991, the Court referred the
case to the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
Meanwhile, on August 15, 1993, before the case could be heard by
the IBP, complainant and respondent filed their joint motion to dismiss, with
complainants verified affidavit of desistance attached, stating that the case
had long been settled and that the criminal case against respondent for
violation of PD 772 (Anti-squatting Law) had also been dismissed by the fiscals office way back in 1986.Both parties apologized to the Court for
failing to immediately notify it of the settlement.
On June 19, 1999, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution
No. XIII-99-166 adopting and approving the report and recommendation of
Investigating Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro who recommended the dismissal of
the said case:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
After going over the records of this case, the undersigned noted
that on August 12, 1993 the parties filed a Joint Motion to Dismiss
stating therein that the case had long been settled in 1986 when they have
already reconciled and the complaint arose from a land dispute which did not
involve dishonesty and moral turpitude.
The parties attached to their Joint Motion to Dismiss a duly
verified Affidavit of Desistance executed by the complainant Trifonia Gaviola to the effect
that she is no longer interested in pursuing the case she filed against the
respondent which was merely due to an outburst of emotion caused by intrigues
and petty bickerings which was ironed out during
their family meeting being family friends.It was only unfortunate that they failed to notify the Supreme Court in
1986 of an Affidavit of Desistance executed then for the criminal and
administrative case No. 3037 and she was not coerced into executing this
Affidavit of Desistance.
Likewise Atty. Arturo C. Ubaub issued a
certification on August 12, 1993
that the IBP Misamis Oriental Chapter has not received any administrative
complaint against IBP member, Atty. Erasto D. Salcedo
since they assumed Office as its officers since 1993.
After going over the records of this case and considering the lapse
of time since the parties decided to bury their hatchets, the undersigned has
no alternative but to respectfully recommend in the spirit of human compassion
to dismiss the case with prejudice.
The recommendation is hereby approved.
Complainant, instead of proving her affirmative allegations,
executed an affidavit of desistance stating that she was no longer interested
in pushing through with her complaint against respondent and that the same was
merely due to an outburst of emotion, intrigue and petty bickering. She stated
that she had already settled her differences with respondent.
The Court has held in a number of instances that the filing of an
affidavit of desistance by the complainant for lack of interest does not ipso
facto result in the termination of an administrative case for suspension or
disbarment of an erring lawyer.1 However, it is also
well-settled that, in disbarment proceedings, the burden of proof rests on the
complainant.In Martin v. Felix,2 we held:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Significantly, this Court has, time and again, declared a
conservative and cautious approach to disbarment proceedings like the instant
Thus, in Santos v. Dichoso (Adm. Case No. 1825; 84 SCRA
622) and reiterated in Noriega v. Sison (Adm. Case
No. 2266; 125 SCRA 293) this court ruled:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
In disbarment proceedings, the burden of proof rests upon the
complainant, and for the court to exercise its disciplinary powers, the case
against the respondent must be established by clear, convincing and satisfactory
proof. Indeed, considering the serious consequences of the disbarment or
suspension of a member of the Bar, the Supreme Court has consistently held that
clearly preponderant evidence is necessary to justify the imposition of the
Again, in Santos v. Dichoso (Adm. Case No. 1825; 84 SCRA
622) this Court defined the degree of proof necessary to disbar a lawyer.This Court held:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
"The profession of an attorney is acquired after long and
laborious study. It is a lifetime profession. By years of patience, zeal and
ability, the attorney may be able to amass considerable means to support
himself and his family, besides the honor and prestige that accompany his
office and profession. To deprive him of such honored station in life which
would result in irreparable injury must require proof of the highest degree,
which We find nowhere here. While courts will not
hesitate to mete out proper disciplinary punishment upon lawyers who fail to
live up to their sworn duties they will, on the other hand, protect them from
the unjust accusations of dissatisfied litigants. The
success of a lawyer in his profession depends almost entirely on his
reputation. Anything which will harm his good name is to be deplored. Private
persons, and particularly disgruntled opponents, may not, therefore, be
permitted to use the courts as vehicles through which to vent their rancor on
members of the Bar."chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Considering the foregoing, we are constrained to dismiss the
charges against respondent inasmuch as such charges cannot be proven without
the evidence of the complainant and her witnesses.
resolution of the Board of Governors of the IBP approving and adopting the
report and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner is hereby AFFIRMED
and the complaint against respondent DISMISSED.
Vitug, (Chairman and Acting Chief Justice),
Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.
1 Munar v. Flores, 122 SCRA 448, 452
; citing Go v. Cabdoy, 21 SCRA 439
2 163 SCRA 111, 130 .
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