Andrew Corro: Ex-SC justice’s employee disbarred over P10M bribe, fake acquittal of drug dealer
The Supreme Court (SC) has disbarred Andrew Corro, a former court attorney with the office of retired Associate Justice Martin Villarama, for receiving a P10-million bribe and producing a fake decision acquitting a drug dealer in exchange.
In a recent 14-page en banc decision, the SC found Corro guilty of gross misconduct, grossly immoral conduct, violations of the Lawyer’s Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR), and willful disobedience of the lawful orders of the Court.
“He is not worthy of bearing the honor of being called an officer of the court or a member of the Bar,” read the per curiam decision.
“It is time for Atty. Corro to face the consequences of his utterly shameful and filthy actions. Participating, or even suggesting to participate in a corrupt act is and will never be tolerated by the Court,” it added.
Corro’s disbarment arose from the complaint filed by doctor Virgilio Rodil, who said he arranged for the payoff on behalf of his friend Ramel Aguinaldo, the lawyer of drug suspect Marco Alejandro.
Rodil claimed he sought the assistance of Court of Appeals (CA) records officer Imelda Posadas and SC 3rd Division records officer Samuel Ancheta, Jr. The latter got him in touch with Corro after learning that Alejandro’s case was raffled off to then-Justice Villarama.
Rodil alleged that he delivered the payoff in four installments between April 22, 2013 and February 21, 2014 at Max’s Restaurant along Maria Orosa Street.
During the first two meetings, it was allegedly Posadas who turned over the money to Ancheta for delivery to Corro within Rodil’s view. Rodil claimed he personally met Corro and gave him the money during the last two meetings.
It was during the third meeting on December 13, 2013 that Ancheta allegedly gave Posadas the draft decision in Alejandro’s case. Rodil asked that the decision be made in a proper signed form with the SC letterhead, which Posadas gave on February 21, 2014.
But, the SC, in an April 7, 2014 decision, affirmed Alejandro’s life sentence. Several months later, Rodil called Posadas to say Aguinaldo got furious about the fakery. Although Ancheta assured Rodil that Corro would handle the situation, the lawyer could no longer be contacted or found.
Ancheta confirmed in his testimony that he helped Posadas in assisting Rodil and setting up the meeting with Corro. He admitted that Corro gave him the draft decision after Rodil completed the P10-million payment.
The SC said it had “no doubt” regarding these accounts, adding that Rodil showed text messages by Corro in which the latter supposedly attempted to fix the problem until he stopped responding.
It said Corro merely gave general statements questioning the sufficiency of Rodil and Ancheta’s evidence. It faulted Corro for choosing not to submit any substantial documentary evidence to defend himself or “at least attend the hearings” of the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC).
The SC said Corro had “no solid alibi” to counter Rodil’s account. It dismissed his claim that he was in his work station or on leave, saying it was “not physically impossible” for him to go to the nearby Max’s Restaurant.
It also rejected Corro’s argument that he had not been charged with a specific offense, pointing out that if he really wanted to know the allegations, he should have appeared before the OBC. It said Corro had been given full opportunity to be heard, but this was waived as he only sent his lawyer.
“In fact, the Court is under the impression that Atty. Corro deliberately acted in such a way in order to show a semblance of lack of due process so that he could invoke it as a defense, when in actuality he was not denied such right. The Court win not be lured into such a deception and will not countenance such a reprehensible act by an officer of the court,” read the decision.
The SC also brushed aside Corro’s attempts to display his character through performance evaluation forms, his application to become a judge, and his clearance when he resigned.
“It is common sense to know that a person’s true character cannot be determined solely by such evaluations and documents. This is akin to the belief that one person may not look like a villain but can very well be one in secret or that a person may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” read the decision.