THE Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed its ruling suspending a lawyer from the practice of law for six months arising from the case of the so-called “Alabang Boys.”
In a full court decision, the SC denied the motion for reconsideration filed by lawyer Felisberto Verano, Jr. as it partially granted the manifestation with omnibus motion, motion to lift suspension, and urgent motion to resolve the same.
The case stemmed from the complaint filed by Dante Jimenez and the late Lauro Vizconde of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).
By his own admission, Verano drafted the release order for his clients Richard Brodett and Joseph Tecson, better known as the “Alabang Boys,” and gave it to then Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez for the latter’s approval and signature.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commission on Bar Discipline found this practice of “feeding” a draft order to the Secretary to be highly irregular, as it tended to influence a public official in the performance of official duties, until the case was elevated to the High Court.
In July 2014, the SC found Verano guilty of violating the Rules 1.02 and 15.7 in relation to Canon 13 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, for which he was suspended from the practice of law for six months, prompting him to seek reconsideration.
At the outset, Verano expressed his sincerest apologies and deepest regrets for his actions adjudged to be unbecoming an officer of the court. He asserted that his only fault is that he got “too carried away” by his dedication to his profession and to the cause of his clients.
However, the court denied his plea, saying that his argument that the IBP resolution has already attained finality was rendered unavailing by the amendment of Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court.
“Respondent’s reinstatement as a member of the bar shall be effective upon his compliance with the guidelines set forth in [Maniago vs. De Dios case,]” the SC ruling pointed out.
In the Maniago case, the SC provides that a suspended lawyer shall file a Sworn Statement with the court, through the Office of the Bar Confidant, stating that he or she has desisted from the practice of law and has not appeared in any court during the period of his or her suspension.
“Any finding or report contrary to the statements made by the lawyer under oath shall be a ground for the imposition of a more severe punishment, or disbarment, as may be warranted,” the same ruling stated.
The En Banc verdict was promulgated on November 24, 2015 but was released to the media just recently.