MANILA — The Supreme Court said on Wednesday it disbarred a lawyer who violated his oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility when he promised his client an annulment of marriage ruling in 2 months and failed to return the money paid for it.
The court also ordered lawyer Ronaldo Salvado to return with 6 percent yearly interest the P420,000 that he received from his client for the antedated annulment decision that he failed to deliver.
In 2013, Salvado was tapped by complainant Roger Asuncion to annul the previous marriage of his mother. He agreed to pay P700,000 for legal documents that would show the 1983 marriage had been dissolved when she had a second marriage 5 years later, the court said.
"Complainant averred that Salvado guaranteed a favorable judgment in two months and submitted screenshots of their text messages to show that the P700,000 legal fees included payment to Salvado's connections for the promulgation of the said judgment," said the Supreme Court.
"Salvado's deal with his connections purportedly fell through when Roger failed to pay the amount in full," it added.
Receipts issued by Salvado show he received P420,000, the court said.
It said Salvado was aware from the start that a judgment would not be promulgated in 2 months from the filing of an annulment petition, "yet he agreed to deliver an antedated judgment on an annulment proceeding, which can only be procured through illegal means."
"The Court further held that the offense was consummated when Salvado accepted an engagement which would entail the commission of an act contrary to law, adding that his offense was further compounded by his failure to return the amount paid to him by his client when their agreement did not materialize," it said.
Salvado had previously been suspended from legal practice twice—for issuing worthless checks and for violating canons 17 and 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
The SC said he "lacks good moral character and is unworthy of being a member of the legal profession."
Salvado's disbarment is "effective immediately," said the court.
— With a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News