SC metes disbarment for repeat offender

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 13 2016 04:16 PM

MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) has imposed the ultimate penalty of disbarment on a lawyer who has become a repeat offender.

In a per curiam decision in AC No. 11246 (Pacao v. Atty. Limos) promulgated on June 14, 2016, the high court also ordered the name of Atty. Sinamar Limos stricken off the Roll of Attorneys effective immediately.

Limos violated the Code of Professional Responsibility by committing grave misconduct and willful insubordination when she failed to neither attend the scheduled hearings nor submit any position paper in the disbarment case filed against her by complainant Arnold Pacao before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD).

The SC noted that it was not the first time respondent Limos faced an administrative case, stressing that she had already been twice suspended from the practice of law, by this court, in Villaflores v. Atty. Limos and Wilkie v. Atty. Limos.

The present case "is further highlighted by her lack of regard for the charges brought against her." Similar with Wilkie, Atty. Limos did not bother to answer the complaint against her despite due notice and she did not enter appearance either personally or by counsel nor appeared at the scheduled hearing dates.

"Atty. Limos' unwarranted obstinacy is a great insolence to the Court which cannot be tolerated... Considering the serious nature of the instant offense and in light of Atty. Limos' prior misconduct which grossly degrades the legal profession, the imposition of the ultimate penalty of disbarment is warranted," the high court said.

It stressed: "By her failure to present convincing evidence, or any evidence for that matter, to justify her actions, Atty. Limos failed to demonstrate that she still possessed the integrity and morality demanded of a member of the Bar. Her seeming indifference to the complaint brought against her was made obvious by her unreasonable absence from the proceedings before the IBP. Her disobedience to the IBP is, in fact, a gross and blatant disrespect for the authority of the Court."

The disbarment stemmed from the 2011 complaint filed by Pacao in behalf of his wife Mariadel Pacao, a former vault custodian of BHF Pawnshop (BHF) branch in Mandaluyong City.

When Mrs. Pacao was charged with qualified theft by BFH in March 2008, Limos appeared as counsel for BHF during the preliminary investigation.

Subsequently, the Pacaos initiated negotiation with BHF, through Limos, for a possible settlement and this led to an agreement whereby the Pacaos would pay an initial amount of P200,000 of the P530,000 being demanded by BHF.

In October 2009, complainant gave the P200,000 to Limos, who in turn, signed an Acknowledgment Receipt recognizing her undertakings as counsel of BHF.

In June 2010, Mr. Pacao met BHF's representative Camille Bonifacio who informed him that Limos was no longer BHF's counsel and was not authorized to negotiate any settlement nor receive any money in behalf of BHF. Likewise, he learned that BHF did not receive the initial payment received by Limos.

Despite a demand letter, Limos failed and refused to return the P200,000 to the Pacaos. This prompted them to file the disbarment case.

The IBP Investigating Commissioner found enough evidence on record to prove that Limos committed fraud and practiced deceit and recommended her disbarment.

The findings were adopted and approved by the IBP Board of Governors which, in turn, referred the matter to the high court for final action pursuant to Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court.