[A.C. No. 6651. February 27, 2006.] EDUARDO P. MENESES, complainant, vs. ATTY. RODOLFO P. MACALINO, respondent. DECISION CARPIO, J : p
This is a complaint for disbarment filed by Eduardo P. Meneses ("complainant") against Atty. Rodolfo P. Macalino ("respondent") for violation of the lawyer's oath. The Facts Complainant alleged that sometime in March 1993, respondent offered his legal services to complainant to help secure the release of complainant's car from the Bureau of Customs. Respondent proposed to handle the case for a "package deal" of P60,000. Complainant agreed and initially gave respondent P10,000 for processing of the papers. In June 1993, respondent asked for P30,000 to expedite the release of the car. In both instances, respondent did not issue a receipt but promised to furnish complainant with a receipt from the Bureau of Customs. Since then, respondent failed to give complainant an update on the matter. Complainant repeatedly went to respondent's house to inquire on the status of the release of the car. Complainant was always told that respondent was not around and to just return another day. This went on for more than a year. In April 1994, complainant went to the National Bureau of Investigation ("NBI") to file a complaint for estafa against respondent. 1 The NBI set the complaint for investigation on 27 April 1994.
Respondent wrote a letter 2 to the NBI dated 26 April 1994, requesting for postponement of the investigation to 12 May 1994. Respondent stated in his letter that he would settle the matter amicably with complainant and return the P40,000. Respondent failed to appear for the investigation scheduled on 12 May 1994. Respondent sent another letter 3 to the NBI dated 23 May 1994, requesting for the suspension of the proceedings because he had partially settled the case. Respondent attached the acknowledgment receipt 4 signed by complainant representing the partial refund of P20,000. Respondent promised to pay the balance on or before 8 June 1994. However, respondent did not pay the balance. The NBI set the complaint for investigation twice and subpoenaed respondent but he failed to appear. aHICDc
On 22 January 1996, the NBI, through Director Mariano M. Mison, found insufficient evidence to prosecute respondent for estafa. Nevertheless, the NBI advised complainant to file a complaint for disbarment against respondent. 5 On 30 April 1996, complainant filed a verified complaint 6 for disbarment against respondent with the Commission on Bar Discipline ("Commission") of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines ("IBP"). Complainant charged respondent with failure to render legal services, failure to refund balance of legal fees, and failure to apprise the complainant of the status of the case — all in violation of the lawyer's oath of office. In an Order 7 dated 23 July 1998, Investigating Commissioner Ma. Carmina M. Alejandro-Abbas ("Commissioner Abbas") ordered respondent to submit his answer to the complaint. Respondent was also warned that if he failed to file an answer, the Commission would consider him in default and the case would be heard ex-parte. Although he received the Order, respondent failed to file an answer. The case was set for initial hearing on 7 May 2002. Despite receipt of the notice of hearing, respondent failed to appear. Complainant was present and he informed Commissioner Abbas that he had previously filed a complaint for estafa against respondent with the NBI. Commissioner Abbas then issued a subpoena duces tecum to Mr. Waldo Palattao, or his duly authorized representative, of the Anti-Fraud Action Division of the NBI for the case folder and all the documents pertaining to the complaint. 8 Mr. Emil Rejano, a confidential agent of the NBI, submitted all the documents during the hearing on 29 July 2002. 9
Further hearings were scheduled for 27 June 2002, 29 July 2002, 9 September 2002, 8 October 2002 and 5 November 2002. Despite due notice,...