By Benjamin Pulta
MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) reminded lawyers to observe the highest degree of morality and integrity as it disbarred a previously suspended prosecutor for making offensive remarks against magistrates and for berating and insulting the bar confidant inside the SC’s premises.
In a statement on Thursday, the court said it handed down a 16-page per curiam decision that disbarred from the practice of law Atty. Perla D. Ramirez for violating the Lawyer’s Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR).
In 2007, Lirio Apartments Condominium employees — Aurora R. Ladim, Angelito A. Ardiente and Danilo S. Dela Cruz — filed a complaint accusing Ramirez of unruly and offensive behavior towards residents and employees of the condominium during various incidents from 1990 to 2007.
In 2014, the Court found Ramirez liable for violating the prohibition on lawyers from engaging in conduct that adversely reflects on their fitness to practice law and from behaving in a scandalous manner, whether in public or private life.
Ramirez was suspended for six months, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.
She requested for the lifting of her suspension in 2016 but the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC), through then Bar Confidant Atty. Ma. Cristina B. Layusa, advised Ramirez to file the necessary motion and submit a sworn statement that she did not practice law during the period of her suspension.
Ramirez, however, questioned the Bar Confidant’s authority and claimed that such requirements did not apply to her.
Due to Ramirez’s refusal to file the required sworn statement to prove that she did not practice law during her suspension, the OBC recommended that her request be denied.
The Court adopted the recommendation through an Aug. 1, 2016 resolution, denying Ramirez’s request to lift her suspension, until she has complied with the submission of the required sworn statement and the necessary certifications from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the trial courts.
On March 15, 2017, Ramirez went to the OBC to follow-up on the status of her request on the lifting of her suspension order.
After Layusa explained to Ramirez the dispositive portion of the resolution, the latter started berating the bar confidant.
Ramirez also made foul and offensive remarks to the justices of the Court. Her outbursts were witnessed by OBC personnel and a member of the Supreme Court Security Division.
The SC, in a resolution dated April 19, 2017, required Ramirez to comment on the incident report submitted by the OBC, but she failed to comply.
The court referred the case to the OBC when Ramirez still refused to submit comment and instead requested for the lifting of her suspension. The OBC also recommended that Ramirez’s request be denied and that she be disbarred.
The SC adopted the OBC’s recommendation, stressing that “the practice of law is not a right, but a mere privilege which is subject to the inherent regulatory power of this Court.”
The court underscored the canons governing the lawyers’ conduct towards the legal profession, among which are Canon 7, which states that a lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and the dignity of the legal profession and support the activities of the Integrated Bar.
It also cited Canon 8, which states that a lawyer shall conduct oneself with courtesy, fairness and candor towards one’s professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel; and Canon 11, which states that a lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by others.
“Thus, [i]t is imperative for lawyers to observe the highest degree of morality and integrity not only upon admission to the Bar, but also throughout their career in order to safeguard the reputation of the legal profession,” the court said. (PNA)