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A.M. No.

2349 July 3, 1992


DOROTHY B. TERRE, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. JORDAN TERRE, respondent.
PER CURIAM:
In a sworn complaint fled with this Court on 24 December 1981,
complainant Dorothy . !erre char"ed respondent #ordan !erre, a
member o$ the %hilippine ar with &"rossly immoral conduct,&
consistin" o$ contractin" a second marria"e and livin" with
another woman other than complainant, while his prior marria"e
with complainant remained subsistin".
!he Court resolved to re'uire respondent to answer the
complaint.
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(espondent success$ully evaded fve )*+ attempts to
serve a copy o$ the Court,s (esolution and o$ the complaint by
movin" $rom one place to another, such that he could not be
$ound nor reached in his alle"ed place o$ employment or
residence.
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-n 24 .pril 198*, that is a$ter three )/+ years and a
hal$, with still no answer $rom the respondent, the Court noted
respondent,s success in evadin" service o$ the complaint and the
Court,s (esolution and thereupon resolved to &suspend
respondent .tty. #ordan !erre $rom the practice o$ law until a$ter
he appears and0or fles his answer to the complaint a"ainst him&
in the instant
case.
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-n 28 1eptember 198*, respondent fnally fled an .nswer with a
2otion to 1et .side and0or 3i$t 1uspension -rder. In his .nswer,
.tty. !erre averred that he had contracted marria"e with
complainant Dorothy !erre on 14 #une 1944 upon her
representation that she was sin"le5 that he subse'uently learned
that Dorothy was married to a certain 2erlito .. ercenilla
sometime in 19685 that when he con$ronted Dorothy about her
prior marria"e, Dorothy drove him out o$ their con7u"al residence5
that Dorothy had moc8in"ly told him o$ her private meetin"s with
2erlito .. ercenilla and that the child she was then carryin" )i.e.,
#ason !erre+ was the son o$ ercenilla5 that believin" in "ood $aith
that his marria"e to complainant was null and void ab initio, he
contracted marria"e with 9elina 2alicdem at Dasol, %an"asinan.
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In her (eply, complainant Dorothy denied that #ason !erre was the
child o$ 2erlito .. ercenilla and insisted that #ason was the child
o$ respondent #ordan !erre, as evidenced by #ason,s irth
Certifcate and physical resemblance to respondent. Dorothy
$urther e:plained that while she had "iven birth to #ason !erre at
the %.;<9 re"istered as a dependent o$ 2erlito ercenilla, she
had done so out o$ e:treme necessity and to avoid ris8 o$ death or
in7ury to the $etus which happened to be in a di=cult breech
position. .ccordin" to Dorothy, she had then already been
abandoned by respondent #ordan !erre, leavin" her penniless and
without means to pay $or the medical and hospital bills arisin" by
reason o$ her pre"nancy.
!he Court denied respondent,s 2otion to 1et .side or 3i$t the
1uspension -rder and instead re$erred5 by a (esolution dated 6
#anuary 1986, the complaint to the -=ce o$ the 1olicitor <eneral
$or investi"ation, report and recommendation.
5
!hen 1olicitor %io C. <uerrero was appointed investi"ator by the
-=ce o$ the 1olicitor <eneral. 9e set the case $or hearin" on 4
#uly 1986 with notice to both parties. -n 4 #uly 1986, complainant
Dorothy appeared and presented her evidence ex parte, since
respondent did not so appear.
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!he Investi"atin" 1olicitor
scheduled and held another hearin" on 19 .u"ust 1986, where he
put clarifcatory 'uestions to the complainant5 respondent once
a"ain did not appear despite notice to do so. Complainant fnally
o>ered her evidence and rested her case. !he 1olicitor set still
another hearin" $or 2 -ctober 1986, noti$yin" respondent to
present his evidence with a warnin" that should he $ail once more
to appear, the case would be deemed submitted $or resolution.
(espondent did not appear on 2 -ctober 1986. !he Investi"atin"
1olicitor accordin"ly considered respondent to have waived his
ri"ht to present evidence and declared the case submitted $or
resolution. !he parties were "iven time to submit their respective
memoranda. Complainant Dorothy did so on 8 December 1986.
(espondent !erre did not fle his memorandum.
-n 26 ;ebruary 199?, the -=ce o$ the 1olicitor <eneral submitted
its &(eport and (ecommendation& to this Court. !he (eport
summari@ed the testimony o$ the complainant in the $ollowin"
mannerA
Complainant Dorothy !erre too8 the witness stand and
testifed substantially as $ollowsA she and respondent met $or
the frst time in 1949 as $ourth year hi"h school classmates
in Cadi@ City 9i"h 1chool )tsn, #uly 4, 1986, p. 9+5 she was
then married to 2erlito ercenilla, while respondent was
sin"le )id.+5 respondent was aware o$ her marital status )ibid,
p. 14+5 it was then that respondent started courtin" her but
nothin" happened o$ the courtship )ibid, p. 1?+5 they
Bcomplainant and respondentC moved to 2anila were they
respectively pursued their education, respondent as a law
student at the 3yceum Dniversity )tsn, #uly 4, 1986, p. 12,
1*E16+5 respondent continued courtin" her, this time with
more persistence )ibid, p. 11+5 she decided nothin" would
come o$ it since she was married but he BrespondentC
e:plained to her that their marria"e was void ab initio since
she and her frst husband were frst cousins )ibid, p. 12+5
convinced by his e:planation and havin" secured $avorable
advice $rom her mother and
e:EinElaws, she a"reed to marry him BrespondentC )ibid, 12E
1/, 16+5 in their marria"e license, despite her
Bcomplainant,sC ob7ection, he BrespondentC wrote &sin"le& as
her status e:plainin" that since her marria"e was void ab
initio, there was no need to "o to court to declare it as such
)ibid, 14E1*+5 they were married be$ore #ud"e %riscilla 2i7ares
o$ the City Court o$ 2anila on #une 14, 1944 )F:hibit .5 tsn,
#uly 4, 1986, pp. 16E14+5 #ason !erre was born o$ their union
on #une 2*, 1981 )F:hibit , tsn, #uly 4, 1986, p. 18+5 all
throu"h their married state up to the time he BrespondentC
disappeared in 1981, complainant supported respondent, in
addition to the allowance the latter was "ettin" $rom his
parents )ibid, pp. 19E2?+5 she was unaware o$ the reason $or
his disappearance until she $ound out later that respondent
married a certain Gilma BsicC 2alicdem )F:hibit C, tsn, #uly 4,
1986, pp. 21E22+5 she then fled a case $or abandonment o$
minor with the City ;iscal o$ %asay City )ibid, p. 2/+ which
was subse'uently fled be$ore ranch II o$ the City Court o$
%asay City as Criminal Case Ho. 8161*9 )F:hibit D5 tsn, #uly
4, 1986, p. 24+5 she li8ewise fled a case $or bi"amy a"ainst
respondent and 9elina 2alicdem with the o=ce o$ the
%rovincial ;iscal o$ %an"asinan, where a prima facie case was
$ound to e:ist )F:hibit F5 tsn, #uly 4, pp. 2*E26+5 additionally,
complainant fled an administrative case a"ainst respondent
with the Commission on .udit where he was employed,
which case however was considered closed $or bein" moot
and academic when respondent was considered
automatically separated $rom the service $or havin" "one on
absence without o=cial leave )F:hibit ;5 tsn, #uly 4, 1986,
pp. 28E29+.

!here is no dispute over the $act that complainant Dorothy !erre


and respondent #ordan !erre contracted marria"e on 14 #uly 1944
be$ore #ud"e %riscilla 2i7ares. !here is $urther no dispute over the
$act that on / 2ay 1981, respondent #ordan !erre married 9elina
2alicdem in Dasol, %an"asinan. Ihen the second marria"e was
entered into, respondent,s prior marria"e with complainant was
subsistin", no 7udicial action havin" been initiated or any 7udicial
declaration obtained as to the nullity o$ such prior marria"e o$
respondent with complainant.
(espondent #ordan !erre sou"ht to de$end himsel$ by claimin"
that he had believed in "ood $aith that his prior marria"e with
complainant Dorothy !erre was null and void ab initio and that no
action $or a 7udicial declaration o$ nullity was necessary.
!he Court considers this claim on the part o$ respondent #ordan
!erre as a spurious de$ense. In the frst place, respondent has not
rebutted complainant,s evidence as to the basic $acts which
underscores the bad $aith o$ respondent !erre. In the second
place, that pretended de$ense is the same ar"ument by which he
had invei"led complainant into believin" that her prior marria"e
to 2erlito .. ercenilla bein" incestuous and void ab
initio )Dorothy and 2erlito bein" alle"edly frst cousins to each
other+, she was $ree to contract a second marria"e with the
respondent. (espondent #ordan !erre, bein" a lawyer, 8new or
should have 8nown that such an ar"ument ran counter to the
prevailin" case law o$ this Court which holds that $or purposes o$
determinin" whether a person is le"ally $ree to contract a second
marria"e, a 7udicial declaration that the frst marria"e was null
and voidab initio is essential. ! Fven i$ we were to
assume, arguendo merely, that #ordan !erre held that mista8en
belie$ in "ood $aith, the same result will $ollow. ;or i$ we are to
hold #ordan !erre to his own ar"ument, his frst marria"e to
complainant Dorothy !erre must be deemed valid, with the result
that his second marria"e to 9elina 2alicdem must be re"arded as
bi"amous and criminal in character.
!hat the moral character o$ respondent #ordan !erre was deeply
Jawed is shown by other circumstances. .s noted, he convinced
the complainant that her prior marria"e to ercenilla was null and
void ab initio, that she was still le"ally sin"le and $ree to marry
him. Ihen complainant and respondent had contracted their
marria"e, respondent went throu"h law school while bein"
supported by complainant, with some assistance $rom
respondent,s parents. .$ter respondent had fnished his law
course and "otten complainant pre"nant, respondent abandoned
the complainant without support and without the wherewithal $or
deliverin" his own child sa$ely in a hospital.
!hus, we a"ree with the 1olicitor <eneral that respondent #ordan
!erre, by his actions, &elo'uently displayed, not only his unftness
to remain as a member o$ the ar, but li8ewise his inade'uacy to
uphold the purpose and responsibility o$ his "ender& because
marria"e is a basic social institution.
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In Pomperada v. Jochico,
1"
the Court, in re7ectin" a petition to be
allowed to ta8e the oath as a member o$ the ar and to si"n the
(oll o$ .ttorneys, said throu"h 2me. #ustice 2elencioE9erreraA
It is evident that respondent $ails to meet the standard o$
moral ftness $or membership in the le"al pro$ession.
Ihether the marria"e was a 7o8e as respondent claims, or a
tric8 played on her as claimed by complainant, it does not
spea8 well o$ respondent,s moral values. (espondent had
made a moc8ery o$ marria"e, a basic social institution which
public policy cherishes and protects ).rticle 216, Civil
Code+.
11
In Bolivar v. Simbol,
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the Court $ound the respondent there "uilty
o$ &"rossly immoral conduct& because he made a dupe o$
complainant, livin" on her bounty and allowin" her to spend $or
his schoolin" and other personal necessities while dan"lin" be$ore
her the mira"e o$ a marria"e, marryin" another "irl as soon as he
had fnished his studies, 8eepin" his marria"e a secret while
continuin" to demand money $rom complainant. . . . .& !he Court
held such acts &indicative o$ a character not worthy o$ a member
o$ the ar.&
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Ie believe and so hold that the conduct o$ respondent #ordan
!erre in invei"lin" complainant Dorothy !erre to contract a second
marria"e with him5 in abandonin" complainant Dorothy !erre a$ter
she had cared $or him and supported him throu"h law school,
leavin" her without means $or the sa$e delivery o$ his own child5
in contractin" a second marria"e with 9elina 2alicdem while his
frst marria"e with complainant Dorothy !erre was subsistin",
constituted &"rossly immoral conduct& under 1ection 24 o$ (ule
1/8 o$ the (ules o$ Court, a>ordin" more than su=cient basis $or
disbarment o$ respondent #ordan !erre. 9e was unworthy o$
admission to the ar in the frst place. !he Court will correct this
error $orthwith.
I9F(F;-(F, the Court (esolved to DI1.( respondent #ordan
!erre and to 1!(IKF -D! his name $rom the (oll o$ .ttorneys. .
copy o$ this decision shall be spread on the personal record o$
respondent #ordan !erre in the ar Confdant,s -=ce. . copy o$
this resolution shall also be $urnished to the Inte"rated ar o$ the
%hilippines and shall be circulari@ed to all the courts o$ the land.