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Vitug vs. Rongcal [A.C. No. 6313. September 07, 2006]

16 Aug

Ponente: TINGA, J.

FACTS:

[T]he administrative complaint for disbarment filed by Catherine Joie P. Vitug (complainant) against Atty. Diosdado M. Rongcal (respondent) was brought to the Supreme Court upon dissatisfaction with the recommendation of IBP Investigating Commissioner of six (6) month suspension from the practice of law.

Complainant and respondent first met when the former was looking for a lawyer to assist her in suing Arnulfo Aquino, the biological father of her minor daughter, for support. After several meetings, complainant and respondent had started sexual relationship. Complainant claimed that she was deceived by the respondent on promise of support and on the signing of Affidavit of Disclaimer. Respondent denied luring her with sweet words and empty promises, as he later ended his relationship with complainant, and strongly refuted her allegation that she did not know what the said Affidavit is all about. Complainant further charged respondent of misappropriating part of the money obtained from Aquino as it was intended for her daughter.  Respondent admitted that there was actually a difference in amount but somewhat lesser than that alleged by the complainant, but his presumption was that he can keep the same as part of attorney’s fees.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Atty. Rongcal’s immorality will warrant suspension or disbarment from practice of law.

HELD:

NO. Respondent was only imposed fine of P15,000.00.

RATIO:

The Supreme Court heeded the stern injunction on decreeing disbarment where any lesser penalty, such as temporary suspension, would accomplish the end desired. [F]rom the very beginning of this case, respondent had expressed remorse over his indiscretion and had in fact ended the brief illicit relationship years ago.  These were signs that his was not a character of such severe depravity and thus should be taken as mitigating circumstances in his favor. Considering further that this was his first offense, a fine of P15,000.00 would suffice, without prejudice to the outcome of the aspect of this case involving the alleged misappropriation of funds of the client.

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Case Digests, Legal Ethics

 

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