VITRIOLO v. DASIG A.C. No. 4984, April 1, 2003

Facts: This is an administrative case for disbarment filed against Atty. Felina S. Dasig, an official of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). The charge involves gross misconduct of respondent in violation of the Attorney’s Oath for having used her public office to secure financial spoils to the detriment of the dignity and reputation of the CHED. Almost all complainants in the instant case are high-ranking officers of the CHED. In their sworn Complaint-Affidavit filed with this Court on December 4, 1998, complainants allege that respondent, while she was OIC of Legal Affairs Service, CHED, committed acts that are grounds for disbarment under Section 27,2 Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, to wit:

She demanded from Betty C. Mangohon, a teacher of Our Lady of Mariazel Educational Center in Novaliches, Quezon City, the amount of P5,000.00 for the facilitation of her application for correction of name then pending before the Legal Affairs Service, CHED. she demanded from Rosalie B. Dela Torre, a student, the amount of P18,000.00 to P20,000.00 for facilitation of her application for correction of name then pending before the Legal Affairs Service, CHED. She demanded from Rocella G. Eje, a student, the amount of P5,000.00 for facilitation of her application for correction of name then pending before the Legal Affairs Service, CHED. She demanded from Jacqueline N. Ng, a student, a considerable amount which was subsequently confirmed to be P15,000.00 and initial fee of P5,000.00 more or less for facilitation of her application for correction of name then pending before the Legal Affairs Service, CHED.

 Issue: Whether the Respondent violated her Oath as well as the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Held: Yes, respondent Arty. Felina S. Dasig is found liable for gross misconduct and dishonesty in violation of the Attorney’s Oath as well as the Code of Professional Responsibility, and is hereby ordered DISBARRED. Respondent’s attempts to extort money from persons with applications or requests pending before her office are violative of Rule 1.0118 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which prohibits members of the Bar from engaging or participating in any unlawful, dishonest, or deceitful acts. Moreover, said acts constitute a breach of Rule 6.0219 of the Code which bars lawyers in government service from promoting their private interests. Promotion of private interests includes soliciting gifts or anything of monetary value in any transaction requiring the approval of his office or which may be affected by the functions of his office. Respondent’s conduct in office falls short of the integrity and good moral character required from all lawyers, specially from one occupying a high public office. For a lawyer in public office is expected not only to refrain from any act or omission which might tend to lessen the trust and confidence of the citizenry in government, she must also uphold the dignity of the legal profession at all times and observe a high standard of honesty and fair dealing. Otherwise said, a lawyer in government service is a keeper of the public faith and is burdened with high degree of social responsibility, perhaps higher than her brethren in private practice.

For her violation of the Attorney’s Oath as well as of Rule 1.01 and Rule 1.03 of Canon 120 and Rule 6.02 of Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly for acts of dishonesty as well as gross misconduct as OIC, Legal Services, CHED, we find that respondent deserves not just the penalty of three years’ suspension from membership in the Bar as well as the practice of law, as recommended by the IBP Board of Governors, but outright disbarment. Her name shall be stricken off the list of attorneys upon finality of this decision.

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