ACA v. SALVADO

Posted: April 12, 2017 in case digests, legal ethics, PALE, Uncategorized
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ACA v. SALVADO

A.C. No. 10952 | January 26, 2016

By: Karen P. Lustica

 

FACTS:

 

Engel Paul Aca filed an administrative complaint3 for disbarment against Atty. Salvado for violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.014 and Canon 7, Rule 7.035 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).

 

Complainant alleged, among others, that sometime in 2010, he met Atty. Salvado through Atty. Samuel Divina (Atty. Divina), his childhood friend; that Atty. Salvado introduced himself as a lawyer and a businessman engaged in several businesses including but not limited to the lending business; that on the same occasion, Atty. Salvado enticed the complainant to invest in his business with a guarantee that he would be given a high interest rate of 5% to 6% every month; and that he was assured of a profitable investment due by Atty. Salvado as the latter had various clients and investors.

 

As consideration for these investments, Atty. Salvado issued several post-dated checks in the total amount of P6,107,000.00, representing the principal amount plus interests. All checks were drawn from PSBank.

 

Upon presentment, however, complainant was shocked to learn that the aforementioned checks were dishonored as these were drawn from insufficient funds or a closed account.

 

Complainant made several verbal and written demands upon Atty. Salvado. As time went by, however, Atty. Salvado began to avoid complainant’s calls and text messages. This prompted complainant to refer the matter to his lawyer Atty. Divina, for appropriate legal action.

 

Atty. Divina personally served the Notice of Dishonor on Atty. Salvado, directing him to settle his total obligation in the amount of P747,000.00. Atty. Salvado refused to receive the said notice.

 

Complainant went to Atty. Salvado’s house to personally serve the demand letter. A certain “Mark” who opened the gate told the filing clerk that Atty. Salvado was no longer residing there and had been staying in the province already.

 

As they were about to leave, a red vehicle arrived bearing Atty. Salvado. Complainant quickly alighted from his vehicle and confronted him as he was about to enter the gate of the house. Obviously startled, Atty. Salvado told him that he had not forgotten his debt. During this conversation, Atty. Salvado assured complainant that he was working on “something” to pay his obligations. He still refused to personally receive or, at the least, read the demand letter.

 

Despite his promises, Atty. Salvado failed to settle his obligations.

 

Atty. Salvado denied that he told complainant that he had previously entered into various government contracts and that he was previously engaged in some other businesses prior to engaging in the lending and rediscounting business. Atty. Salvado asserted that he never enticed complainant to invest in his business, but it was Atty. Divina’s earnings of good interest that attracted him into making an investment.

 

The checks he issued were merely intended as security or evidence of investment.

 

Atty. Salvado also claimed that, in the past, there were instances when he would request complainant not to deposit a check knowing that it was not backed up by sufficient funds. This arrangement had worked until the dishonor of the checks, for which he readily offered his house and lot located in Marikina City as collateral.

 

Investigating Commissioner recommended that Atty. Salvado be meted a penalty of suspension from the practice of law for six (6) months.

 

IBP-BOG adopted and approved the recommendation with modification – increased the period of suspension from six (6) months to two (2) years.

 

ISSUE:

 

WON ATTY. SALVADO should be suspended for he violated CPR and the Lawyer’s Oath

 

HELD:

 

YES.

 

RATIO:

 

  1. The public is, indeed, inclined to rely on representations made by lawyers. As a man of law, a lawyer is necessarily a leader of the community, looked up to as a model citizen. A man, learned in the law like Atty. Salvado, is expected to make truthful representations when dealing with persons, clients or otherwise. For the Court, and as the IBP-BOG had observed, complainant’s being beguiled to part with his  money and believe Atty. .Salvado as a lawyer and businessman was typical human behavior worthy of belief. The Court finds it hard to believe that a person like the complainant would not find the profession of the person on whose businesses he would invest as important to consider. Simply put, Atty. Salvado’s stature as a member of the Bar had, in one way or another, influenced complainant’s decision to invest.
  2. The excuse of “gullibility and inadvertence” deserves scant consideration. Surely, Atty. Salvado is aware that promoting obedience to the Constitution and the laws of the land is the primary obligation of lawyers. When he issued the worthless checks, he discredited the legal profession and created the public impression that laws were mere tools of convenience that could be used, bended and abused to satisfy personal whims and desires. In Lao v. Medel, the Court wrote that the issuance of worthless checks constituted gross misconduct, and put the erring lawyer’s moral character in serious doubt, though it was not related to his professional duties as a member of the Bar. Covered by this dictum is Atty. Salvado’s business relationship with complainant. His issuance of the subject checks display his doubtful fitness as an officer of the court. Clearly, he violated Rule 1.01 and Rule 7.03 of the CPR.

 

  1. The Court cannot overlook Atty. Salvado’s deceiving attempts to evade payment of his obligations.

 

 

 

DISPOSITION: SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of two (2) years.

 

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