NICOLE ATIWAG BEGNAEN LEGAL ETHICS (UC JD ID : 1ST SEM 2022) MORAL TURPITUDE WHAT IS CRIME AGAINST MORAL TURPITUDE? In the U.S., the term "moral turpitude" first appeared in the Immigration Act of March 3, 1891, which directed the exclusion of persons who have been convicted of a felony or other infamous crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude; this marked the first time the U.S. Congress used the term "moral turpitude" in immigration laws. In the Philippines, the term moral turpitude was first introduced in 1901 in Act No. 190, otherwise known as the Code of Civil Actions and Special Proceedings. The Act provided that a member of the bar may be removed or suspended from his office as lawyer by the Supreme Court upon conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. Subsequently, the term "moral turpitude" has been employed in statutes governing disqualifications of notaries public, priests and ministers in solemnizing marriages, registration to military service, exclusion and naturalization of aliens, discharge of the accused to be a state witness admission to the bar, suspension and removal of elective local officials, and disqualification of persons from running for any elective local position. WHAT IS CRIME AGAINST MORAL TURPITUDE? [An] act of baseness, vileness, or the depravity in private and social duties which man owes to his fellow man, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man. (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY) Act or behavior that gravely violates moral sentiment or accepted moral standards of community and is a morally culpable quality held to be present in some criminal offenses as distinguished from others. The quality of a crime involving grave infringement of the moral sentiment of the community as distinguished from statutory mala prohibita. WHAT ARE EXAMPLES OF CRIME AGAINST MORAL TURPITUDE? Since the early 1920 case of In re Basa, the Court has maintained its case-by-case categorization of crimes on the basis of moral turpitude and has labeled specific crimes as necessarily involving moral turpitude. (CONCURRING OPINION OF JUSTICE BRION IN TEVES VS COMELEC) APPROCHES IN DETERMINING IF AN ACT IS AGAINST MORAL TURPITUDE (CONCURRING OPINION OF JUSTICE BRION INTEVES VS COMELEC) ● objective perspective of the act itself, irrespective of whether or not the act is a crime ● perspective of the crime itself, as defined through its elements ● subjective perspective that takes into account the perpetrator’s level of depravity when he committed the crime WHAT ARE EXAMPLES OF CRIMES AGAINST MORAL TURPITUDE? 1. Abduction with consent 2. Bigamy 3. Concubinage 4. Smuggling 5. Rape 6. Estafa through falsification of a document 7. Attempted Bribery 8. Profiteering NICOLE ATIWAG BEGNAEN LEGAL ETHICS (UC JD ID : 1ST SEM 2022) 9. Robbery 10. Murder, whether consummated or attempted 11. Estafa 12. Theft 13. Illicit Sexual Relations with a Fellow Worker 14. Violation of BP Bldg. 22 15. Falsification of Document 16. Intriguing against Honor 17. Violation of the Anti-Fencing Law 18. Violation of Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 (Drug-pushing) 19. Perjury 20. Forgery 21. Direct Bribery 22. Frustrated Homicide WHAT ARE EXAMPLES OF CRIME AGAINST MORAL TURPITUDE? (ZARI VS. FLORES) ● adultery, ● concubinage, ● rape, ● arson, ● evasion of income tax, ● barratry, ● bigamy, ● blackmail, ● bribery, ● criminal conspiracy to smuggle opium, dueling, ● embezzlement, ● extortion, ● forgery, ● libel, ● making fraudulent proof of loss on insurance contract, ● murder, ● mutilation of public records, ● fabrication of evidence, ● offenses against pension laws, ● perjury, seduction under the promise of marriage, ● estafa, ● falsification of public document, ● estafa thru falsification of public document. CASE DIGESTS EDGAR Y. TEVES VS COMELEC AND HERMINIO TEVES ISSUE FOR RESOLUTION Whether the crime of which petitioner Edgar Y. Teves was convicted in Teves v. Sandiganbayan of a crime involving moral turpitude. FACTS OF THE CASE Petitioner was a candidate for the position of Representative of the 3rd legislative district of Negros Oriental during the May 14, 2007 elections. On March 30, 2007, respondent Herminio G. Teves filed a petition to disqualify petitioner on the ground that he was convicted of violating Section 3(h), Republic Act (R.A.) No. NICOLE ATIWAG BEGNAEN LEGAL ETHICS (UC JD ID : 1ST SEM 2022) 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for possessing pecuniary or financial interest in a cockpit, which is prohibited under Section 89(2) of the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991, and was sentenced to pay a fine of P10,000.00. Respondent alleged that petitioner is disqualified from running for public office because he was convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude which carries the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office. On May 11, 2007, the COMELEC First Division disqualified petitioner from running for the position of member of House of Representatives and ordered the cancellation of his Certificate of Candidacy. Petitioner filed a MR before the COMELEC en banc which was denied for being moot. RELATED LAWS AND LEGAL PROVISIONS Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code: Sec. 12. Disqualifications. - Any person who has been declared by competent authority insane or incompetent, or has been sentenced by final judgment for subversion, insurrection, rebellion, or for any offense for which he has been sentenced to a penalty of more than eighteen months, or for a crime involving moral turpitude, shall be disqualified to be a candidate and to hold any office, unless he has been given plenary pardon or granted amnesty. Section 3(h) of R.A. 3019 of which petitioner was convicted, reads: Sec. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. -- In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful: (h) Directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest. LOCAL GOV’T CODE: Section 89. Prohibited Business and Pecuniary Interest. (a) It shall be unlawful for any local government official or employee, directly or indirectly, to: (2) Hold such interests in any cockpit or other games licensed by a local government unit.... SC RULING However, conviction under the second mode does not automatically mean that the same involved moral turpitude. A determination of all surrounding circumstances of the violation of the statute must be considered. Besides, moral turpitude does not include such acts as are not of themselves immoral but whose illegality lies in their being positively prohibited, as in the instant case. IN DELA TORRE VS COMISSION ON ELECTIONS: Not every criminal act, however, involves moral turpitude. It is for this reason that "as to what crime involves moral turpitude, is for the Supreme Court to determine." In resolving the foregoing question, the Court is guided by one of the general rules that crimes mala in se involve moral turpitude, while crimes mala prohibita do not. IN ZARI VS FLORES: "It (moral turpitude) implies something immoral in itself, regardless of the fact that it is punishable by law or not. It must not be merely mala prohibita, but the act itself must be inherently immoral. The doing of the act itself, and not its prohibition by statute fixes the moral turpitude. Moral turpitude does not, however, include such acts as are not of themselves immoral but whose illegality lies in their being positively prohibited." NICOLE ATIWAG BEGNAEN LEGAL ETHICS (UC JD ID : 1ST SEM 2022) Lastly, it may be argued that having an interest in a cockpit is detrimental to public morality as it tends to bring forth idlers and gamblers, hence, violation of Section 89(2) of the LGC involves moral turpitude. SC STAND ON COCK FIGHTING 1. PART OF TRADITION ● “…sabong…has a long and storied tradition in our culture and was prevalent even during the Spanish occupation.” 2. MORALITY OF GAMBLING IS NOT JUSTICIABLE ● “Gambling is not illegal per se...There is nothing in the Constitution categorically proscribing or penalizing gambling…” 3. CONGRESS ALLOWED SOME FORMS OF GAMBLING ● “In the exercise of its own discretion, the legislature may prohibit gambling altogether or allow it without limitation or it may prohibit some forms of gambling… That is the prerogative of the political departments…Whichever way these branches decide, they are answerable only to their own conscience and the constituents who will ultimately judge their acts, and not to the courts of justice.” SC DECISION WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Resolutions of the Commission on Elections dated May 11, 2007 and October 9, 2007 disqualifying petitioner Edgar Y. Teves from running for the position of Representative of the 3rd District of Negros Oriental, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one is entered declaring that the crime committed by petitioner (violation of Section 3(h) of R.A. 3019) did not involve moral turpitude. VS ATTY. RODOLFO PACTOLIN ISSUE FOR RESOLUTION Whether or not the conviction of a lawyer for a crime involving moral turpitude constitutes sufficient ground for his disbarment from the practice of law. FACTS OF THE CASE In May 1996, Elmer Abastillas, the playing coach of the Ozamis City volleyball team, wrote Mayor Benjamin A. Fuentes of Ozamis City, requesting financial assistance for his team. Mayor Fuentes approved the request and sent Abastillas’ letter to the City Treasurer for processing. Mayor Fuentes also designated Mario R. Ferraren, a city council member, as Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the city while Mayor Fuentes was away. Abastillas eventually got the ₱10,000.00 assistance for his volleyball team. FACTS OF THE CASE Aggrieved, Ferraren filed with the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case 25665 a complaint against Atty. Pactolin for falsification of public document which found Atty. Pactolin guilty of falsification and sentenced him to the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of 2 years and 4 months of prision correccional as minimum to 4 years, 9 months and 10 days of prision correccional as maximum, to suffer all the accessory penalties of prision correccional, and to pay a fine of ₱5,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. Meanwhile, respondent lawyer, Atty. Rodolfo D. Pactolin, then a Sangguniang Panlalawigan member of Misamis Occidental, got a photocopy of Abastillas’ letter and, NICOLE ATIWAG BEGNAEN LEGAL ETHICS (UC JD ID : 1ST SEM 2022) using it, filed on June 24, 1996 a complaint with the Office of the Deputy OmbudsmanMindanao against Ferraren for alleged illegal disbursement of ₱10,000.00 in public funds. Atty. Pactolin claimed it was Ferraren, not Mayor Fuentes, who approved the disbursement. SC affirmed his conviction. Since the Court treated the matter as an administrative complaint against him as well under Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court, it referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for appropriate action. Because complainant Ferraren neither appeared nor submitted any pleading during the administrative proceedings. The case against Atty. Pactolin was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence. RELATED LAWS AND LEGAL PROVISIONS Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court A lawyer may be removed or suspended on the following grounds: (1) deceit; (2) malpractice; (3) gross misconduct in office; (4) grossly immoral conduct; (5) conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude; (6) violation of the lawyer’s oath; (7) willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court; and (8) corruptly or willfully appearing as a lawyer for a party to a case without authority so to do. SC RULING This Court relied on the settled rule that in the absence of satisfactory explanation, one found in possession of and who used a forged document is the forger and therefore guilty of falsification. Moral turpitude includes everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals. It involves an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man owes his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and woman, or conduct contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals. SC DECISION WHEREFORE, Atty. Rodolfo D. Pactolin is hereby DISBARRED and his name REMOVED from the Rolls of Attorney. Let a copy of this decision be attached to his personal records and furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country. ELPIDIO P. TIONG VS GEORGE M. FLORENDO ISSUE FOR RESOLUTION Whether or not the pardon extended by complainant is sufficient to warrant the dismissal of a disbarment case against respondent for gross immoral conduct FACTS OF THE CASE Complainant Elpidio P. Tiong, an American Citizen, and his wife, Ma. Elena T. Tiong, are real estate lessors in Baguio City. They are likewise engaged in the assembly and repair of motor vehicles in Paldit, Sison, Pangasinan. In 1991, they engaged the services of respondent Atty. George M. Florendo not only as legal counsel but also as administrator of their businesses. NICOLE ATIWAG BEGNAEN LEGAL ETHICS (UC JD ID : 1ST SEM 2022) Sometime in 1993, complainant began to suspect that respondent and his wife were having an illicit affair. His suspicion was confirmed in the afternoon of May 13, 1995 when, in their residence, he chanced upon a telephone conversation between the two. When confronted, his wife initially denied any amorous involvement with respondent but eventually broke down and confessed to their love affair that began in 1993. Respondent likewise admitted the relationship. On May 15, 1995, in the presence of a Notary Public, Atty. Liberato Tadeo, respondent and Ma. Elena executed and signed an affidavit attesting to their illicit relationship and seeking their respective spouses' forgiveness RELATED LAWS AND LEGAL PROVISIONS CANON 1 A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES. Rule 1.01. - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. CANON 7 A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR. Rule 7.03. - 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 a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession." SC RULING It has been consistently held by the Court that possession of good moral character is not only a condition for admission to the Bar but is a continuing requirement to maintain one's good standing in the legal profession. It is the bounden duty of law practitioners to observe the highest degree of morality in order to safeguard the integrity of the Bar. Consequently, any errant behaviour on the part of a lawyer, be it in his public or private activities, which tends to show him deficient in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor, is sufficient to warrant his suspension or disbarment. Respondent's act of having an affair with his client's wife manifested his disrespect for the laws on the sanctity of marriage and his own marital vow of fidelity. It showed his utmost moral depravity and low regard for the ethics of his profession. Likewise, he violated the trust and confidence reposed on him by complainant which in itself is prohibited under Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. It bears to stress that a case of suspension or disbarment is sui generis and not meant to grant relief to a complainant as in a civil case but is intended to cleanse the ranks of the legal profession of its undesirable members in order to protect the public and the courts. It is not an investigation into the acts of respondent as a husband but on his conduct as an officer of the Court and his fitness to continue as a member of the Bar. Hence, the Affidavit, which is akin to an affidavit of desistance, cannot have the effect of abating the instant proceedings. WHEREFORE, respondent ATTY. GEORGE M. FLORENDO is hereby found GUILTY of Gross Immorality and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for SIX (6) MONTHS effective upon notice hereof, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt with more severely.