SC disbars Bacolod lawyer for falsifying court order

Posted by watchmen
August 25, 2023

By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga

The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the disbarment of a lawyer in Bacolod City for falsifying a court order 17 years ago.

During its session on Tuesday, August 22, the court en banc promulgated its 11-page per curiam decision, imposing the penalty of disbarment against Atty. Ariel Maglalang for fabricating a supposed order dated August 2, 2006, granting a purported petition for presumptive death of his client’s husband.

According to the SC, Maglalang made it appear that he filed the said petition on behalf of his client, who, in reality, directed him to file not a petition for presumptive death, but a petition for nullity of marriage.

The SC further stated the lawyer made it appear that the petition was heard and granted by Judge Ray Alan Drilon of the Bacolod City Regional Trial Court Branch 41.

“Sometime in February 2006, Maglalang was engaged as counsel by his client to initiate a petition for declaration of nullity of marriage, for which he asked and received P100,000. He guaranteed his client that he could get a favorable judgment in three months,” the SC said in a statement.

“Despite several follow-ups, however, Atty. Maglalang failed to update his client on the case status. In November 2006, he eventually gave his client the forged order which essentially declared his client’s spouse presumptively dead ‘for all purposes’ pursuant to Article 390 of the Civil Code,” it added.

In 2008, Judge Drilon and court clerk Atty. Corazon Romero learned of the existence of the forged order and sought the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which eventually led to the filing of the administrative case against Maglalang.

In determining the lawyer’s liability, the SC applied the recently promulgated Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability (CPRA), which took effect on May 29, 2023.

The CPRA explicitly provides that its provisions “shall be applied to all pending and future cases, except to the extent that its retroactive application would not be feasible or would work injustice, in which case the procedure under which the cases were filed shall govern.”

The court said in the absence of a satisfactory explanation, an individual who is possessing or using a forged document is presumed to be the forger.

Based on the evidence, the court was convinced that Maglalang, identified by his client, authored and used the document.

The evidence was also further corroborated by a witness who personally saw Maglalang giving the forged order to his client, which was also confirmed by the NBI after they conducted a confidential investigation.

“Consequently, the court ordained that Maglalang’s authorship and use of the forged order contravene Canon II on Propriety and Canon III on Fidelity of the CPRA. His acts evince his disrespect for the rule of law and the courts. Further, his use of the forged order reflects poorly on his fitness to practice law, and brings discredit upon the entire legal profession,” the SC said./With reports from PNA / DGB, WDJ

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