Orbe v. Adaza : AC 5252 : May 20, 2004 : J. Vitug : Third Division :
[A.C. NO. 5252 : May 20, 2004]
PRISCILLA Z. ORBE, Complainant, v. ATTY. HENRY ADAZA, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
On 27 March 2000,
Mrs. Priscilla Z. Orbe charged respondent Atty. Henry Adaza with gross
misconduct and as being unfit to continue his membership in the Bar.In a three-page complaint-affidavit
complainant averred that respondent obtained a loan from the former and, to
secure the repayment thereof, drew and issued two BPI Family Bank checks.When the first check (No. 0350973) was
presented for payment upon maturity, the same was dishonored for insufficient
funds.According to complainant,
respondent, acting with malice and deceit, dated the second check January 24, 1996, so that, once
presented for payment, it would be, considering, in passing, that the loan was
incurred on 23 November 1996,
a stale check.She alleged that, despite
repeated verbal and written demands, respondent had failed to make good his
Acting on the complaint, the Court required respondent to comment
thereon within ten (10) days from notice.In a letter, dated 26 September 2000, complainant asked that the
complaint be now considered submitted for resolution in view of the failure of
Atty. Adaza to comply with the order of the Court requiring him to file his
comment.In a resolution, dated 06 December 2000, the Court noted the
letter of complainant, and it directed that the complaint be thereby referred
to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
Despite proper notice to respondent requiring him to file his
answer to the complaint, respondent continued to ignore the matter.Finally, on 20 February 2002, the case was set for hearing by the IBP
Commission on Bar Discipline.The
complainant appeared.Respondent did not
show up despite his having been duly notified of the hearing by personal
service effected on 12 February 2002.Respondents failure to appear prompted the
Commission on Bar Discipline to grant the request of complainant to allow her
to adduce evidence ex-parte.An order was issued setting the proceedings
on 18 March 2002 for such
reception of evidence.A copy of the
order was served on respondent on 28
February 2002 at his given address.
On 21 February 2002,
the Commission received a letter from Atty. Adaza, sent via the
facilities of PTT, requesting for a resetting of the hearing from 18 March to 18 April 2002, claiming that he was
already committed to attend a hearing at the Regional Trial Court, Branch 7, of
on 20 March 2002.
The proceedings set for 18
March 2002 for the reception of complainants evidence ex-parte was held, but the same was without
loss of right on the part of respondent to conduct, if desired, a
cross-examination of the witness.The
evidence of complainant showed that complainant used to avail of the notarial
services of Atty. Adaza at his law office at Padre Faura, Ermita, Manila.In 1995, respondent requested complainant, and the latter agreed, to be the primary sponsor in the baptismal of his
daughter.In November 1996, respondent
accompanied by a certain Arlene went to the residence of complainant to seek a
loan.The latter lent respondent the sum
of P60,000.00 payable with interest at 5% a month.Respondent issued two (2) BPI Family Bank
Checks No. 35073 and No. 35076, each for P31,800.00, dated 23 December 1996 and 24 January 1996, respectively.When presented for collection Check No.
035073 was dishonored by the drawee bank for having been drawn against
insufficient funds.The other check,
Check No. 035076, bearing the date 24
January 1996, was not accepted for being a stale check.
Efforts were exerted by complainant to see respondent but her
efforts proved to be futile.Several
demand letters were sent to the respondent by Atty. Ernesto Jacinto,
complainants lawyer, but these letters also failed to elicit any response.A criminal complaint for violation of Batas Pambansa
Blg. 22 was filed with the Office of the Prosecutor of Quezon City for Check
No. 035073.Finding probable cause, the
complaint was subsequently elevated to the Metropolitan Trial Court.A warrant of arrest was issued by the court,
but respondent somehow succeeded in evading apprehension.Sometime in November 2000, respondent went to
the house of complainant and promised to pay the checks within a months
time.Complainant agreed to have the
service of the warrant of arrest withheld but, again, respondent failed to make
good his promise.
The cross-examination of complainant Priscilla Orbe was set on 22 May 2002.The stenographer was directed to transcribe
the stenographic notes as soon as possible for the benefit of Atty. Adaza.An order was issued to this effect, and a
copy thereof was served upon respondent on 09 April 2002.
On 22 May 2002,
the complainant appeared for cross-examination but Atty. Adaza did not appear
despite due notice.In light of the
manifestation of complainant that she had no other witness to present and was
ready to close her evidence, she was given a period of fifteen (15) days within
which to file a formal offer and respondent was given a like period to
thereupon submit his comment and/or opposition thereto.The order, dated 22 May 2002, was served on Atty. Adaza on 28 May 2002.The formal offer of complainants evidence
was deemed submitted for resolution on 25
June 2002 pending proof of service of a copy thereof upon
respondent and the filing of the necessary comment or opposition thereto by the
In an order, dated 16
October 2002, the Commission set the reception of evidence for
respondent on 13 November 2002
in order to give him another opportunity to rebut the evidence of
complainant.Respondent again failed to
appear on the date set therefor, prompting the Commission to rule on the
admissibility of Exhibits A to D with their submarkings.There being no appearance on the part of
respondent despite due notice, the case was considered submitted for resolution
by the Commission in its order of 26
The Commission submitted its report and recommendation, dated 28 May 2003, recommending the
suspension of respondent Atty. Henry Adaza from the practice of law for a
period of one (1) year, and that he be ordered to pay to complainant the value
of the two unpaid checks he issued to complainant.
The Court adopts the recommendation.
A member of the bar may be so removed or suspended from office as
an attorney for any deceit, malpractice, or misconduct in office.1 The word conduct used in the rules is not limited to conduct exhibited in
connection with the performance of the lawyers professional duties but it also
refers to any misconduct, although not connected with his professional duties,
that would show him to be unfit for the office and unworthy of the privileges
which his license and the law confer upon him.The grounds expressed in Section 27, Rule 138, of the Rules of Court are
not limitative2 and are broad enough to cover any misconduct, including dishonesty, of a lawyer
in his professional or private capacity.3 Such misdeed puts his moral fiber, as well as his fitness to continue in the
advocacy of law,4 in serious doubt.
Respondents issuance of worthless checks and his contumacious
refusal to comply with his just obligation for nearly eight years is appalling5 and hardly deserves compassion from the Court.
Henry M. Adaza is found guilty of gross misconduct, and he is hereby ordered
suspended from the practice of law for a period of ONE (1) YEAR effective upon
receipt hereof.This decision is without
prejudice to the outcome of the Criminal Case for Violation of Batas Pambansa
Blg. 22 filed against him.Let copies of
this decision be spread on his record in the Bar Confidants Office and
furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
and the Office of the Court Administrator for proper dissemination to all
Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.
2 Royong v. Oblena, Adm. Case No. 376, 30 April 1963 (7 SCRA 859).
3 In re:Pelaez, 03 March 1923 (44 Phil. 567).
4 Melendrez v. Decena, Adm. Case No. 2104, 24 August 1989 (176 SCRA 662); Balinon v. De Leon,
Adm. No. 104, 28 January 1954
(94 Phil. 277).
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