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EN BANC

A.C. No. 561 April 27, 1967

IN RE: ATTY. ISIDRO P. VINZON, Respondent.

Office of the Solicitor General for complainant.
Isidro P. Vinzon for and in his own behalf as appellee.

DIZON, J.:chanrobles virtual law library

This is a disbarment proceeding against Atty. Isidro P. Vinzon of Cavite City referred to Us by the Solicitor General on January 7, 1963 pursuant to the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 02243-CR promulgated on October 1, 1962 affirming the one rendered by the Court of First Instance of Manila convicting said respondent and his wife, Filomena D. Vinzon, of the crime of estafa. The pertinent portion of the former reads as follows:

In an information filed with the Court of First Instance of Manila, that spouses Isidro P. Vinzon and Filomena B. Vinzon were charged with the crime of estafa for having failed to deliver and for misappropriating the sum of P7,000.00 which represented a portion of the total amount of P9,621.60 of U.S. Depositary check numbered 685891 belonging and payable to Felicidad M. Bagtas as unremarried widow of the deceased veteran Maximino C. Bagtas. After the prosecution had rested its case the defense, filed a motion to dismiss for insufficiency of evidence, which motion was however, denied for lack of merit. Thereafter, the accused waive the right to present their evidence and instead submitted the case for decision. Thus decision was rendered below finding both accused guilty as charged and sentencing them, each to undergo an indeterminate penalty of from 3 months and 11 days of arresto mayor, to 1 year, 8 months and 21 days of prison correccional with the accessory penalties; to indemnify the offended party Felicidad M. Bagtas in the amount of P7,000.60, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; and each to pay one-half of the costs.

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Wherefore, finding no reversible error in the appealed decision, the same is hereby affirmed, with the costs against the appellants. The attention of the Solicitor General is invited to decision herein for the purpose of instituting disbarment proceedings against the appellant Isidro P. Vinzon, who, it appears from the record, is a member of the Philippine Bar.

The facts as found by the Court of Appeals, are as follows:

The evidence on record reveals that Felicidad M. Bagtas was found to be mentally incompetent, suffering from schizophrenic reaction, hebephrenic type, upon examination by a psychiatrist of the U.S. Veterans Administration (U.S.V.A.) in the course of the investigation conducted in connection with her application for benefits as the unremarried widow of the late veteran Maximino C. Bagtas (Exh. E). In the same application Felicidad M. Bagtas was assisted by the herein appellant Atty. Isidro P. Vinzon, who on various occasions had asked her to thumbmark serial papers in connection with the application. On April 22, 1955, the appellant above named, as attorney for the widow Bagtas and through a letter which he had thumbmarked by the latter, caused the alteration of the applicant widow's address on record with the U.S.V.A., from San Dionisio, Para�aque, Rizal, to 41 Interior, P. Burgos St., Cavite City (Exh. A-2). Actually, Bagtas continued to reside in Para�aque, the new recorded address was really that of the herein appellants.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

Sometime in June, 1955 the appellant Filomena B. Vinzon fetched the widow Bagtas and her mother, Susana Osio, together with one Juliet Oliva, from their abode in Para�aque and brought them to the appellants' residence in Cavite where they were supposed to meet an investigator of the U.S.V.A. While there, Osio and Bagtas were asked to sign several papers, the contents of which they did not know, but which the appellants said were in connection with the widow's benefit claim. Then Osio and Oliva were invited by, the appellant Isidro P. Vinzon to go to the municipal building, leaving Bagtas in the company of Mrs. Vinzon. From their tour of the municipal building, Osio and Oliva were brought by Isidro P. Vinzon to a restaurant before they returned to the Vinzon residence. Upon their arrival thereat Osio and Oliva noticed Felicidad Bagtas wiping ink from her thumb, and upon their inquiry, the widow informed them that Mrs. Vinzon had asked her (Bagtas) to thumbprint several times. Shortly thereafter, Bagtas and her companions went home, because the alleged, investigator did not arrive.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

Later in that same day Mrs. Vinzon reappeared at Para�aque, and told Osio that they would proceed to Manila in order to "get the benefits as early as possible." So once again, Osio and Bagtas went out with Mrs. Vinzon, and in front of the U.S.V.A. building on the Escolta they met a man whom Osio and the widow took to be an agent of the U.S.V.A. This man inquired of Mrs. Vinzon if Felicidad Bagtas was "the one," and upon an affirmative answer the same person brought them to an eatery where Osio was asked to sign something, after which the amount of P2,421.00 and some centavos' were delivered to her. Upon Vinzon's suggestion Osio gave that unnamed man P50.00, and when they were already at the bus terminal on their way home, Osio gave Mrs. Vinzon another amount, making her total disbursement for that afternoon P200.00.

In his answer filed on April 22, 1963, respondent alleges the following:

1. That he admits that there is a final decision of the Court of Appeals, a portion of which is quoted in the letter of the Solicitor General dated Dec. 28, 1962;chanrobles virtual law library

2. That he, however denies, that a conviction for any crime per se is sufficient ground following suspension or disbarment:chanrobles virtual law library

3. That while the decision of the Court of Appeals became final for lack of appeal to the Supreme Court, it does not necessarily follow that the said conviction is absolutely binding on this Hon. Supreme Court if upon hearing of the instant proceedings, turns out to be not legal nor valid under the law and facts, for, in parenthesis, we state that the records of the Hon. Supreme Court can attest to the fact that there is quite a number of Court of Appeals decisions which have been reversed for being illegal and contrary to law by the Supreme Court, which is the highest Tribunal;chanrobles virtual law library

4. That the findings of facts of the Court of Appeals and its stand on the legal questions raised, are not in accordance with the doctrines cited in Appellant's Brief;chanrobles virtual law library

5. That the testimonies of prosecution witnesses viewed in their proper light do not prove any estafa, for nowhere in their evidence to the effect that this respondent had ever cashed the check in question, on the contrary, the evidence of the prosecution simply pointed to an unknown person who delivered certain sum of money to the offended party in the presence of the wife of respondent, and there is even no proof that respondent and said unknown person knew each other at anytime before or after the alleged delivery;chanrobles virtual law library

6. That it is respectfully submitted that respondent is innocent of the alleged estafa for (1) there is no evidence that he ever received and cashed the US check involved; (2) no evidence that he ever received the proceeds thereof; (3) no evidence that he had any connivance or connection with the unknown person who according to prosecution evidence was the one who gave a sum of money to offended party; (4) and finally assuming that there was such a check and respondent received the proceeds, in the absence of demand; estafa does not lie.

The case has set for hearing at 9:30 A.M. on June 21, 1963 but neither the Solicitor General nor the respondent appeared notwithstanding notice served upon them. Consequently, the case was deemed submitted for decision.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

The only point to be determined is whether upon conviction for the crime of estafa the respondent may be disbarred.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

In his answer to the petition for disbarment, respondent prayed that a proper hearing be held, but this notwithstanding he failed to appear at the hearing scheduled to be held on June 21, 1963. This amounts to a waiver of his right to be heard (Arellano Toledo, Adm. Case No. 266, April 27, 1963).chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

Upon the other hand, and dealing now with the merits of the case, there can be no question that the term "moral turpitude" includes everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty, or good morals. In essence and in all respects, estafa, no doubt, is a crime involving moral turpitude because the act is unquestionably against justice, honesty and good morals (In re Gutierrez, Adm. Case No. 263, July 31, 1962; Bouvier's Law Dictionary; In re Basa, 41 Phil. 275-76). As respondent's guilt can not now be questioned, his disbarment is inevitable.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library

Wherefore, respondent Isidro P. Vinzon is hereby disbarred.

Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Regala, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar and Sanchez, JJ., concur.
Castro, J., took no part.





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