SC suspends abogado for berating, abandoning elderly client who couldn’t give ‘pocket money’
The Supreme Court (SC) has suspended abogado Ramon Gargantos Sr. for six months for berating and later abandoning his elderly client because the latter could not give him “pocket money” for his overseas travel.
In a recent 6-page decision, the SC 2nd Division sanctioned Gargantos for abandoning complainant Pelagio Sorongon, Jr., even as the latter already paid him P200,000 in acceptance and appearance fees until the resolution of the case before the Sandiganbayan.
The SC also faulted Gargantos for failing to return the fees even after he withdrew as Sorongon’s counsel. It warned that it would impose a more severe penalty if the abogado continued to fail to return Sorongon’s money and the documents.
Yet, the decision, penned by Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, only imposed a relatively light penalty, despite describing the case as a “serious charge.”
This was because of Gargantos’ old age of 82 and the fact that this was his first offense.
Sorongon was a retired businessman charged with graft as a coaccused of the personnel of the Davao Regional Health Office, prompting him to hire Gargantos.
The client said he was ordered by Gargantos to pick him up at his house under the threat that he would not attend the hearing on June 4, 2014. After the hearing, the lawyer demanded pocket money for his trip to the United States with his wife.
When Sorongon went to Gargantos’s house to pick him up, the lawyer harshly questioned him about the pocket money. But, the client could not give the money, leading to Gargantos’s outburst threatening to have him arrested for failure to pay.
Sorongon said he even begged Gargantos not to abandon him, but the lawyer only ordered him to leave.
Thus, Sorongon told the Sandiganbayan what happened and explained he could not afford to hire a new lawyer because he was a jobless senior citizen. During closing hours, Gargantos filed a letter of his withdrawal as Sorongon’s counsel.
Gargantos did not participate in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ (IBP) proceedings on the disciplinary case.