In Re: Rodolfo Pactolin
Problem Areas in Legal Ethics – Moral Turpitude – Disbarment
In May 2008, the Supreme Court, in G.R. No. 161455 (Pactolin vs Sandiganbayan), affirmed the conviction of Atty. Rodolfo Pactolin for violation of Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code (Falsification by a Private Individual). It was duly proved that Pactolin falsified a letter, and presented said letter as evidence in a court of law, in order to make it appear that his fellow councilor acting as OIC-Mayor illegally caused the disbursement of public funds. In said decisions, the Supreme Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for appropriate administrative actions against Pactolin.
ISSUE: What administrative sanctions can be imposed upon Atty. Pactolin considering his conviction?
HELD: Rodolfo Pactolin should be, and is henceforth disbarred. The crime of falsification of public document is contrary to justice, honesty, and good morals and, therefore, involves moral turpitude. Moral turpitude includes everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals. It involves an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man owes his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and woman, or conduct contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.
As a rule, the Supreme Court exercises the power to disbar with great caution. Being the most severe form of disciplinary sanction, it is imposed only for the most imperative reasons and in clear cases of misconduct affecting the standing and moral character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and a member of the bar. But it has always been held that it is appropriate to disbar a lawyer if he is convicted by final judgment for a crime involving moral turpitude. Further, Pactolin’s situation is aggravated by the fact that although his conviction has been affirmed, he has not served his sentence yet.
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