1. The Honorable Court has denied with finality the First Motion for Reconsideration filed by the respondent to lift his suspension for one year from the practice of law for “Technical Extortion” in a resolution dated February 6, 2006, copy of which was received by the respondent at his house in Quezon City on February 24, 2006. The resolution states:
Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this court dated 06 February 2006:
Adm. Case No. 6504 [Formerly CBD No. 019] (GEORGE C. SOLATAN VS. ATTYS. OSCAR A. INOCENTES AND JOSE C. CAMANO). — Acting on the motion of respondent Atty. Jose C. Camano for reconsideration of the resolution dated 09 August 2005 suspending him from the practice of law for one (1) year, with prayer that he be absolved from the alleged act of “technical extortion” and from acts tending to degrade the law profession, the Court Resolves to DENY the motion with FINALITY, no substantial argument having been adduce to warrant the reconsideration sought.
Respondent Camano begs to differ to the claim of the Honorable Court that there is no substantial argument he made in his Motion for Reconsideration to warrant the reconsideration sought.
First, respondent Camano would like to point out that in the Resolution of this Honorable Court dated August 9, 2005, it said:
This administrative case traces its roots from the manner by which Attys. Jose C. Camano and Oscar A. Inocentes responded to the efforts of complainant, George C. Solatan, to lease a certain Quezon City apartment belonging to the attorneys’ clients. On the basis of acts branded by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) as “bordering on technical extortion” accepting funds and giving unsolicited advice to an adverse party, and casting doubts as to the procedure of levy, the IBP resolved to recommend the suspension of Atty. Camano from the practice of law for one (1) year. It likewise recommended the reprimand of Atty. Inocentes, whom it held liable for the aforementioned acts of his associate, under the principle of command responsibility. Only Atty. Inocentes has elected to contest the resolution of the IBP, (underscoring supplied) as he questions the propriety of his being held administratively liable for acts done by Atty. Camano. However, the recommendation to suspend Atty. Camano shall also be passed upon by virtue of Section 12, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court.
Atty. Camano did not respond/contest the recommendation of the IBP because he was not furnished a copy of the resolution of the IBP. He was furnished though of a copy of the resolution of this Honorable Court dated August 9, 2005 suspending him from the practice of law for one year and forthwith he asked that the same be reconsidered and for the Court to read the records of the case if only to find out that Atty. Camano has acted decently and professionally in dealing with the complainant George Solatan. Thus, it was entirely erroneous to claim that Atty. Camano did not raise substantial issues in his Motion for Reconsideration because the very issues raised in his Motion for Reconsideration are at odds and entirely opposed to the theories formulated and adopted by the IBP which was made as the basis of the Supreme Court resolution and this Honorable Court has not addressed these issues.
Atty. Camano believes that before this Honorable Supreme Court can suspend him and deny him his right to practice law, there should be clear and unequivocal findings that he had violated his oath of office and he had infracted the professional code of conduct for lawyers.
His suspension is criminal in nature because it deprives him the right to practice law and impacted his liberty and property right to exercise one’s profession to earn his livelihood, hence evidence of his guilt must be established beyond doubt or at least with clear and convincing proof of professional misconduct.
If respondent cannot seek his conscience for guilt and offer atonement for such guilt, he could develop disdain and contempt for a system that has failed and a feeling that the same system must have failed countless other lawyers who were victims of malicious complainants.
Accordingly, and for the second time Atty. Camano would most reverently ask the Honorable Supreme Court to give him the legal definition of “extortion” and its dichotomy, “technical extortion”.
There is a larger issue involved in respondent’s case, and this is the fact that if respondent cannot seek justice for himself, he cannot seek justice for others. His license to practice law becomes meaningless. This Court might as well take it and revoke it.
But one thing respondent cannot allow this Honorable Court to do and that is to take back his license with his honor in it. Respondent will defend his honor with all his might and metaphorically, with the last drop of his blood.
Another larger issue is at hand. If a lawyer like respondent cannot seek justice before this Honorable Court, most mortals cannot seek justice either. It must have been providential that respondent had been thrust into this controversy because he is in a position to speak out his mind freely and impervious of any consequences of censure that could hurt his pocket and harm his family. But countless other lawyers brought before this Honorable Court by losing litigants were not as lucky. They have become too timid and subservient because their license is their only ticket to provide decent meals to their families. They cannot “talk back” to the Supreme Court because this Honorable Court has the final say. A shade of such institutional infallibility was very much evident when the Honorable Court said in its February 6, 2006 minute resolution: x x x the Court Resolves to DENY the motion with FINALITY, x x x.
While respondent may reiterate his respect to this Court, such respect by no means include blind obedience and complete surrender to everything it says and it does, for like any human institution, it is subject to errors of judgment and could be blinded by its own biases and institutional prejudices. Respondent wishes to talk back to the Supreme Court and for the second time implores it to please read the records of the case and answer respondent’s vexing question which like a toothache keeps pulsating and throbbing in his brain: What is “extortion” and its dichotomy, “technical extortion”.
Can a lawyer be subjected for “technical extortion” because he implemented a court order to vacate the premises and to pay the judgment debt and accepted payment from persons who offered to pay and actually paid pittance of the arrears but not the entire arrears?
This Honorable Court must accept the challenge of the respondent to define to him the term extortion and/or technical extortion. If respondent could be satisfied with any definition the Court may offer and such definition applies in Respondent’s situation, respondent might in due time consult his conscience, accept his wrongdoing and repent.
Without these conditions however, respondent cannot accept any imputation of wrongdoing and would stay the course and defend his honor with the “last drop of his blood” (metaphorically, of course).
Accordingly, respondent reiterates that the facts of the case are as follows:
“The dispositive portion of the decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court Dated 3 March 1988 rendered by late Judge Ricardo A. Buenviaje of MTC Quezon City, Branch 38 against Gliceria Solatan required her to pay the Genito spouses the amount of Thirty Thousand Six Hundred Pesos (P30,600.00) as unpaid rentals from February 1986 to July 1987 with interest at 24% per annum from 20 August 1987 until the premises are vacated, Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) as attorney’s fees, and costs of the suit.
The deputy sheriff of the trial court served a notice to vacate and to pay the arrears against Gliceria, who incidentally had long left for the United States and left in the apartment unit to her mother, Elvira and brother George. Elvira and George came forward upon receipt of the notice to vacate and to pay the arrears and tried to see Atty. Inocentes but were shunned by the former because George was so arrogant and so they tried to see respondent Atty. Camano instead on instruction by Atty. Inocentes.
George and Elvira offered to liquidate the judgment debts. They were allowed to stay by the authority of the landlords acting through their lawyer, respondent Atty. Jose C. Camano but on onditions that they pay the judgment debt. Unable to come up with one-time payment, they offered to pay on installments. George came up with the payment of 50% of the attorneys. fee and P1,000 sheriff’s fee.
They were never coerced, forced, harassed and intimidated to pay the attorney’s fee and arrears. They voluntarily went to the office of respondent Atty. Camano to offer payment. When the promised payment for the arrears become due, George and Elvira failed to pay. Atty. Camano had asked the deputy sheriff to implement the ejectment order and to enforce the collection of the unpaid debts. George and his mother offered to pay the second time around and in fact George issued 4 postdated checks in the amount of P3,400 each, 50% of the amount as payment for current rent and the other 50% to liquidate the arrears which at that period of time has already ballooned to P60,000.
This time they were forced to pay not by coercion employed by Atty. Camano as alleged but by virtue of a court decree being implemented by the sheriff.
The ejectment order was postponed precisely because George tried to come up with the payment in accordance with what he had promised the first time he and his mother went to the office of Atty. Camano. The first check issued by George was encashed but the second check bounced. It was at this time that Atty. Camano finally decided to eject George and his mother from the apartment unit because he found that George was faithless to his bargain. The third and fourth checks issued by George would similarly bounce for reason of “account closed” because the second one was already dishonored for such reason.
Belatedly and at his complaint before the IBP, George claimed that respondent Camano had agreed to lease the apartment unit without conditions. It was not true. The verbal agreement reached that day was that as long George and Elvira keep their promise to amortize the arrears and pay the current rents they can stay at the apartment unit. When they failed to honor their promise, it is but logical to proceed with the ejectment to protect also the interest of the lessors, the Spouses Andres and Ludivina Genito. It was not also true that Atty. Camano promised a new lease contract in favor of George. Any lawyer worth his name would require the substantial payment of the adjudged arrears before a new lease could be made over the same apartment unit in the name of George given the track record of his sister in defaulting in the payment plus the fact that any new lease agreement over the same unit would vacate the judgment already issued by the Metropolitan Trial Court. Atty. Camano’s commitment to George was to allow him to stay at the unit as long as payment was made for the rent. When he failed to pay the rent, he could not expect that Atty. Camano should continue to honor his own commitment for George’s undisturbed enjoyment of the apartment unit. He wanted to push his luck too far but he was not too lucky enough.
Before the sheriff could auction off the items levied at the subject apartment unit, George decided to stash away the levied properties at the dead of the night. It was Mr. Esberto Recto who called the police to accost George for surreptitiously removing the levied properties from the apartment unit. He claimed he owned these chattels. Atty. Camano was asked by Mr. Recto to accompany him to the police precinct and at the precinct, George told Atty. Camano that the properties levied by the sheriff were actually his and not of his absconding sister, Gliceria, he advised George to execute an affidavit of ownership and present it to the deputy sheriff in-charge of the levy. George was asked by the police to return the chattels inside the apartment unit.
These facts vary substantially from the unsupported claim of the IBP that the manner by which George and Elvira were ejectedfrom the premises borders on “technical extortion”. Absence of any legalese, it was George who ejected himself by not paying the then current rent which was equitably was his own obligation already and his promise to amortize the arrears of his sister Gliceria, though technically, it was his own obligation too because he was the one using the apartment when Gliceria left for the US. He had ejected himself too by running away from the apartment in the dead of the night with his chattels in tow.
Respondent Atty. Camano had for a while resided in the US and he could competently say that one of the reasons why the US economy is relatively stable because courts are strict in enforcing rental laws and frown upon the practice of lessees who defaulted in their rental payments.
Also, businessmen here would be free to agree and hold each other on the basis of their words and good faith dealing. Here, George had agreed to pay for the arrears but when he breached his word, he went to the IBP to put to task the person whom he had breached honor with for malfeasance. If every George in town is believed by the Court, no businessman would invest in an apartment construction and with the lack of housing units, squatting problem is magnified. This Honorable Court should give the right message that if one uses of the utilities and amenities provided by another, he should answer for the cost thereof, legalese to the contrary, notwithstanding.
The Court’s decision in this case has some far reaching significance. If it would favor George, it would have directly encouraged dishonesty and deception. And if the economy is in shambles, it was partly because our courts have contributed to its ruin. Respondent Camano would not tire asking this Honorable Court to please read the records because his narrations of the incident were truthful, credible and supported by the records. To the point of being repetitious, Atty. Camano would ask this Honorable Court again to answer one vexing question:
“Since when implementing a lawful court decree of eviction and to pay the unpaid rents become extortion, technical or otherwise?”
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that the second motion for reconsideration be granted by the Honorable Court in the interest of justice.
February 27, 2006 Dearborn, MI., 48126, for Manila, Philippines.
JOSE C. CAMANO
Atty. Rogelio A. Vinluan
Integrated Bar of the Philippines
Dona Julia Vargas Avenue
Ortigas Office Complex, Pasig City
George C. Solatan
21 Molave St. Southgreenpark Village
Tandang Sora, Quezon City
Atty. Oscar Inocentes
19 Marunong St., Diliman, Quezon City
Again, the Supreme Court had denied the motion in a minute resolution without any explanation and it had refused to answer the questions raised in the motion.