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Legal Ethics

PESTO VS. MILLO, ADM. CASE NO. 9612, MAR. 13, 213 !9612 "#$gli$g %& clie$t's
(%$e)*
+acts: Johnny Pesto (Johnny), a Canadian national, charged Atty. Marcelito M. Millo with
conduct unbecoming an ofcer of the Court, misleading his client, bungling the transfer of
title, and incometence and negligence in the erformance of his duty as a lawyer.
!n May "##$, his wife Abella Pesto (Abella) retained the ser%ices of Atty. Millo to
handle the transfer of title o%er a arcel of land to her name, and the adotion of her niece,
Ar%i Jane &i'on. Johnny and Abella ga%e to Atty. Millo the amounts of P"(,$$$.$$ for the
transfer of title and P"$,$$$.$$ for the adotion case. Atty. Millo thereafter reeatedly ga%e
them false information and numerous e)cuses to e)lain his inability to comlete the
transfer of title and made them belie%e that the caital gains ta) for the roerty had been
aid way bac* in "##", but they found out uon their return to the country in +ebruary "##,
that he had not yet aid the ta). -hen they confronted him, Atty. Millo insisted that he had
already aid the same, but he could not roduce any receit for the suosed ayment. Atty.
Millo then further romised in writing to assume the liability for the accrued enalties.
.)aserated by Atty. Millo/s neglect and inetitude, Johnny brought this
administrati%e comlaint in the !ntegrated 0ar of the Philiines (!0P). 1n 1ctober "", 2$$",
the !0P3C0&, through Commissioner 4ictoria 5on'ale'3&e los 6eyes, deemed the case
submitted for resolution. 1n 1ctober (, 2$"$, !n%estigating Commissioner 4ictor C.
+ernande', to whom the case had been meanwhile transferred, submitted a reort and
recommendation, whereby he found Atty. Millo liable for %iolating Canon "7 of the Code of
Professional 6esonsibility, and recommended his susension from the ractice of law for si)
months.
R#li$g, .%ery attorney owes 8delity to the causes and concerns of his clients. 9e must be
e%er mindful of the trust and con8dence reosed in him by the clients. 9is duty to safeguard
the clients/ interests commences from his engagement as such, and lasts until his e:ecti%e
release by the clients. !n that time, he is e)ected to ta*e e%ery reasonable ste and
e)ercise ordinary care as his clients/ interests may re;uire.
-ithout doubt, Atty. Millo had the obligation to ser%e his clients with cometence and
diligence. 6ule "7.$<, Canon "7 of the Code of Professional 6esonsibility, e)ressly so
demanded of him, to wit:
CANON 18 A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.
Rule 18.03 A lawye !"all #$% #e&le'% a le&al (a%%e e#%u!%e) %$ "*(+ a#) "*! #e&l*&e#'e
*# '$##e'%*$# %"eew*%" !"all e#)e "*( l*a,le.
Atty. Millo claimed that his belated resonse to the charge was due to the assurances of
Abella that she would be withdrawing the comlaint. =he Court disbelie%es him, howe%er,
and treats his claim as nothing but a belated attemt to sa%e the day for himself. 9e ought
to remember that the withdrawal of an administrati%e charge for susension or disbarment
based on an attorney/s rofessional misconduct or negligence will not furnish a ground to
dismiss the charge. >usension or disbarment roceedings that are warranted will still
roceed regardless of the lac* or loss of interest on the art of the comlainant. =he Court
may e%en entirely ignore the withdrawal of the comlaint, and continue to in%estigate in
order to 8nally determine whether the charge of rofessional negligence or misconduct was
borne out by the record. =his aroach besea*s the Court/s consistent %iew that the ?egal
Profession is not only a lofty and noble calling, but also a rare ri%ilege reser%ed only for the
deser%ing.
Atty. Millo made his situation e%en worse by consistently absenting himself from the
scheduled hearings the !0P had set for his bene8t. 9is disregard of the !0P/s orders re;uiring
his attendance in the hearings was not only irresonsible, but also constituted utter
disresect for the Judiciary and his fellow lawyers. >uch conduct was absolutely unbecoming
of a lawyer, because lawyers are articularly called uon to obey Court orders and rocesses
and are e)ected to stand foremost in comlying with orders from the duly constituted
authorities
=he recommended enalty is not well ta*en. -e modify the enalty, because Atty.
Millo dislayed no remorse as to his misconduct, and could not be gi%en a soft treatment.
9is rofessional misconduct warranted a longer susension from the ractice of law because
he had caused material re@udice to the clients/ interest. 9e should somehow be taught to
be more ethical and rofessional in dealing with trusting clients li*e Johnny and Abella, who
were innocently too willing to reose their utmost trust in his abilities as a lawyer and in his
trustworthiness as a legal rofessional. 9e should remember that misconduct has no lace in
the heart and mind of a lawyer who has ta*en the solemn oath to delay no man for money
or malice, and to conduct himself as a lawyer according to the best of his *nowledge and
discretion. Ander the circumstances, susension from the ractice of law for si) months is
the condign and commensurate enalty for him.