Poll chief’s wife seeks to disbar UST dean, 20 others
THE estranged wife of Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to order the disbarment of University of Santo Tomas law dean Nilo Divina and 20 other lawyers of his law firm whom she accused of paying commissions to the poll chief.
In a complaint for disbarment, Patricia Paz Bautista sought disbarment of Divina, managing partner of Divina law firm, and the other lawyers for alleged violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility for lawyers.
Patricia also wanted the dissolution of the law firm used by Smartmatic, the technology provider of the automated polls last year, under Article 180 (3) of the Civil Code.
“Although I was informed that clamor for the dissolution of a partnership must be brought up before the Securities and Exchange Commission, it is out of concern to inform this Honorable Court that there really are law firms in this country who engage in highly dubious transactions yet make it appear as if their activities are without any hint of illegality,” Patricia said in her complaint.
Divina said the disbarment complaint filed by Patricia Bautista against him was probably borne out of her frustration over the dismissal of the impeachment complaint against her estranged husband.
In a statement, Divina said he believed the complaint had something to do with the impeachment complaint against the poll chief.
“They are probably sour that their impeachment complaint against Chairman Bautista was dismissed,” the lawyer said.
Just the same, Divina shrugged off the disbarment complaint even as he gave assurances he would respond to the allegations “accordingly.”
“I have always acted in accordance with law and the ethical demands of the law profession. I am not worried at all about any threat of disbarment,” he said in a statement.
According to Patricia, she chose to file the complaint with the high court and not with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines because Divina had strong ties with the leadership in the IBP and that “may cause bias and partiality in the investigation.”
She said it was proper for the SC to take cognizance of the complaint considering that the issue she had raised was important.
She also said the SC under Section 1 of Rule 139 B of the Rules of Court could, on its own, investigate erring lawyers upon the filing of the complaint.
Patricia accused the Comelec chairman of receiving commissions from Divina’s law firm for assisting its clients with the Comelec, including Smartmatic.
Bautista had previously denied the allegation, saying the payment he had received from the UST law dean was for the two condominium units he had bought from him.