By Gerome Dalipe IV
The Supreme Court has disbarred a Bacolod City-based lawyer from the practice of law for forging a court ruling in an annulment case of his client.
The high tribunal found lawyer Ariel D. Maglalang guilty of violating the lawyers’ Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability for falsifying the order of Judge Ray Allan Drilon, of the Regional Trial Court branch 41 in Bacolod City.
Maglalang was barred from the practice of law and his name was stricken from the Roll of Attorneys effective immediately.
“Indubitably, Atty. Maglalang’s acts ultimately bring the legal profession into disrepute. His acts evince his disrespect for the rule of law and the courts,” read the SC’s en banc decision.
The case stemmed from the administrative complaint filed by Judge Drilon and lawyer Corazon Romero, RTC branch 41’s clerk of court. They charged Maglalang with the fabrication of an order in an annulment case of the lawyer’s client.
The forged order of Judge Drilon declared the presumptive death of one Ruby Madrininian.
Drilon and Romero said they retrieved the forged order in July 2008. They verified the petition and case number with the Office of the Clerk of Court and found inconsistencies in the order.
The complainants sought the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Region 6, which confirmed that such a court order was forged.
Court records showed that Maglalang offered to handle Madrinian’s annulment case for a legal fee of P100,000. The petitioner said she received a supposed copy of the annulment order from the court in November 2006.
But Madrinian said she discovered that the court order was fake when she tried to secure updated documents of his marital status with the statistics office.
She said she sought the assistance of another lawyer, who confirmed to her that the court order in her annulment case was forged.
The National Statistics Office confirmed that Madrinian was still married to Andren.
During the IBP’s conference brief, Maglalang denied that Madrinian availed his legal services in her annulment case.
In its recommendation, the IBP held that Maglalang “resorted to “taking shortcuts” by “making use of a non-existent order and furnished his client with the same.”
In the decision, the SC adopted the IBP’s finding showing that Maglalang forged the court order.
“His acts are evidence of his disrespect for the rule of law and the courts. Further, his use of the Forged Order reflects poorly of his fitness to practice law, and brings discredit upon the entire legal profession,” read the SC decision.