Disbarment vs. Sen. Miriam in 2010 dismissed on technicality - - [A.C. No. 8519 : February 22, 2010


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[A.C. No. 8519 : February 22, 2010]


Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated 22 February 2010:

A.C. No. 8519 - (Efren G. Battad v. Senator Miriam Palma Defensor-Santiago)

On January 7, 2010, Efren G. Battad filed a Complaint against Senator Miriam P. Defensor-Santiago (Sen. Santiago) for serious misconduct, violation of Presidential Decree No. 1829, and Canons of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Complainant alleged that Sen. Santiago committed the following acts:


Culpable violation of the Constitution. By her deliberate failure to make a full disclosure of her financial and business interests. She purchased a lot and built a tiled mansion in La Vista Subdivision, Quezon City, at an estimated cost of at least P53,204,631.00; a building in Quezon City; and a weekend mansion in Tagaytay City,
Graft and corruption, and unexplained wealth. For many years, respondent was a rented apartment dweller until she suddenly acquired the La Vista mansion and occupied the same in June 2002. The value of the newly acquired properties is grossly disproportionate to her salary as Senator which, according to her, is "P43,000.00 per month;"

Obstruction of apprehension and prosecution of a criminal offense. When her son Alexander Robert violently died in her house in La Vista, Quezon City, on November 20, 2003, respondent claimed it was "suicide". Law enforcement agencies of the government were not allowed to conduct scene of the crime investigation. She had the cadaver of her son immediately cremated, thus destroying, suppressing and concealing the very corpus delicti of the offense;

When appointed as Secretary of Agrarian Reform in 1990, her appointment was unanimously rejected by the Commission on Appointments, then presided by Senate President Jovito Salonga. The charge against her was graft and corruption for having stolen the Toyota Supra sports car of Margarita Roxas from the custody of the Bureau of Customs. Her husband, Narciso Santiago, Jr., was at that time connected with the Bureau of Customs;

As former Commissioner of Immigration and Deportation in 1988 to 1989, respondent embarked on her corrupt and notorious "Alien Legalization Program". Under this program, thousands of aliens who opted to legalize their residence in the Philippines were charged with at least P200,000.00 each. Unfortunately, the fees collected were not remitted to the government. Worse, one (1) receipt was repeatedly used for 10 or more aliens;

Senator Miriam DefensorSantiago is of unsound mind. She appeals to be suffering from a severe mental disorder, characterized by the following symptoms:

Delusion of grandeur. She wanted to be President of the Philippines; Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; and a Member of the International Court of Justice. In all of these attempts to be such, she miserably failed;

Flight of ideas;

Mood swings;

Penchant for lying; and


Unparliamentary behavior. She repeatedly abused her position and power as Senator to defame and slander people, x x x She has repeatedly, with impunity, violated the lawyer's duty as a Member of the Bar to abstain from all offensive [behavior] x x x and her duty to uphold the dignity of the court by using offensive language x x x Further, the Senator has continuously abused her privilege as a lawyer and as a Senator by indulging in offensive [behavior] and language x x x;


Using her position and power as Senator, she gave unwarranted benefits to her husband, brother, sister, son and cousin by having them appointed to the government posts;


4.9. Repeated disrespect to the Supreme Court, and lack of remorse;


Complainant prayed that Sen. Santiago be disbarred and her name be removed from the Roll of Attorneys.

We find the instant complaint to be without merit. Consequently, the same is dismissed outright.

Section 1, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court on Disbarment and Discipline of Attorneys provides:

SECTION 1. How Instituted. - Proceedings for the disbarment, suspension, or discipline of attorneys may be taken by the Supreme Court motu proprio, or by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) upon the verified complaint of any person. The complaint shall state clearly and concisely the facts complained of and shall be supported by affidavits of persons having personal knowledge of the facts therein alleged and/or by such documents as may substantiate said facts.

xxxx (Emphasis supplied)

We scrutinized the complaint and we find that the allegations contained therein are mere generalizations, speculations, malicious insinuations, and conclusions without any factual basis. In the Complaint's verification and certification against forum shopping, complainant deposed that:


3. I have read and understood the foregoing COMPLAINT and to the best of my personal knowledge and belief Hie allegations contained therein are true and correct based on authentic records.

However, contrary to said deposition, the allegations clearly show that the same are not of complainant's personal knowledge. Stripped of its unnecessary trimmings, the allegations are pure hearsay. There is no showing at all how, or from whom, or in what capacity, complainant knew of the aforesaid allegations. All we know about complainant is that "he is of legal age, with address at BASECO Compound, Port Area, Manila".[3] Other than that, we know nothing about him. Also, an examination of the 15-page complaint reveals that same is not supported by affidavits of persons having personal knowledge of the facts alleged therein.

Likewise, complainant's deposition that the allegations "are true and correct based on authentic records" is not exactly accurate. No document or so-called authentic records were attached to the complaint to substantiate the allegations stated therein.

In Angeles vs. Figueroa,[4] we held viz:

It is settled that the power to disbar or suspend ought always to be exercised on the preservative and not on the vindictive principle, with great caution and only for the most weighty reasons. The burden of proof rests on the complainant and the case against respondent must be established by clear, convincing and satisfactory proof. Thus, the adage that lie who asserts, not he who denies, must prove'.

Indeed, complainants are the ones who bear the burden of showing through satisfactory evidence the bases of their complaint. As explained by this Court in Boyboy v. Yabut, Jr.:[5]

x x x a mere charge or allegation of wrongdoing does not suffice. Accusation is not synonymous with guilt. There must always be sufficient evidence to support the charge. This brings to the fore the application of the age-old but familial" rule that he who alleges must prove his allegations x x x. [Respondent x x x is not under obligation to prove his negative averment, much less to disprove what has not been proved by complainants. Thus, we have consistently held that if the complainant/plaintiff, upon whom rests the burden of proving his cause of action, fails to show in a satisfactory manner the facts upon which he bases his claim, the respondent/defendant is under no obligation to prove his exception or defense.

The reason for this rule is that:

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... 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.

Indeed, the power to disbar lawyers should be used with utmost caution and only for serious reasons so as not to unjustly deprive them of their means of livelihood and distinct reputation in the society. It must be exercised only in clear cases of misconduct that seriously affect the standing and character of lawyers as officers of the court and as members of the bar.[6]

Considering the serious consequence of disbarment, we have consistently held that only clear preponderant evidence would warrant the imposition of such a harsh penalty. It means that the record must disclose as free from doubt a case that compels the exercise by the court of its disciplinary powers. The dubious character of the act done as well as the motivation thereof must be clearly demonstrated.[7]

In this case, we find no sufficient justification that calls for the exercise of our disciplinary power. Aside from not complying with the requirements of Section 1, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court, what complainant offered were nothing but vague and general averments which do not, constitute sufficient bases of a disbarment complaint. To reiterate, in order for us to exercise the power to disbar, the dubious character of the act done, as well as the motivation thereof, must be clearly demonstrated. As complainant failed to discharge this burden, we are left with no choice but to dismiss tins complaint.

WHEREFORE, the complaint is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.


WITNESS the Honorable Antonio T. Carpio, Chairperson, Honorable Arturo D. Brion, Mariano C. Del Castillo, Roberto A. Abad and Jose P. Perez, Members, Second Division, this 22nd day of February, 2010.

Very truly yours,

Clerk of Court
[1] Rollo, pp. 5-10. Emphasis in the original text

[2] Id. at 14.

[3] Id. at 1.

[4] A.C. No. 5050, September 20,2005,470 SCRA 186,195-196.

[5] 449 Phil 666,668 (2003).

[6] Sampana v. Angara, A.C. No. 5839, August 22,2006,499 SCRA 410,432.

[7] Arma v. Montevilla, A.C. No. 4829, July 21,2008,559 SCRA 1,9

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