MANILA – The Supreme Court has ordered the name of a lawyer to be stricken off the Rolls of Attorneys after he was found guilty of abusing his position to get sexual favors from his secretary.
Atty. Antonio N. De Los Reyes, former vice-president of the Legal and Administrative Group of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC), was found guilty of gross immoral conduct and violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 and Rule 7.03, Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
“[R]espondent Atty. De Los Reyes is guilty of ‘sextortion’ which is the abuse of his position or authority to obtain sexual favors from his subordinate, the complainant, his unwilling victim who was not in a position to resist respondent’s demands for fear of losing her means of livelihood,” the High Court’s en banc stated in a 15-page per curiam decision.
Rule 1.01 mandates that “[a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct, while Rule 7.03 mandates that “[a] lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.”
“The sexual exploitation of his subordinate done over a period of time amounts to gross misbehaviour on the part of respondent Atty. De Los Reyes that affects his standing and character as a member of the Bar and as an officer of the Court,” the Court ruled.
The Court stressed that De Los Reyes’ deplorable acts placed the legal profession and the integrity of the administration of justice in peril.
“Respondent Atty. De Los Reyes is disbarred for his gross misbehavior, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor. Possession of good moral character is not only a prerequisite to admission to the bar but also a continuing requirement to the practice of law,” the court stated.
The Court adopted the findings and conclusions of the Investigating Commissioner, as sustained by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Board of Governors. It however held that IBP’s recommended penalty of indefinite suspension from the practice of law was not commensurate with the gravity of the acts committed by De Los Reyes.