SC suspends ex-Naga City legal officer for 3 years over immorality
The Supreme Court (SC) has suspended former Naga City legal officer Manuel Teoxon from practicing law for 3 years, finding him guilty of gross immorality for having an affair—and the gall to lie about it before the court.
In a recent 14-page en banc decision, the SC said Teoxon’s “blatant attempts to deceive the courts” and even the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) about his relationship with complainant Gizale Tumbaga merited the harsh penalty.
Tumbaga said she began living with Teoxon in an apartment in December 1999 and claimed she was misled into thinking his marriage to Luzviminda Balang was invalid and not registered. Tumbaga later gave birth to a boy, but things went sour as she claimed he reneged on his promise to support the child.
Teoxon, for his part, claimed his relationship to Tumbaga was limited to his being a godfather of her older child. He accused her of trying to extort money from him and claimed her pictures of him with the child were taken without his knowledge.
The abogado claimed he was not living together with Tumbaga—reasoning out that he left a bag of his clothes in her house since it was on his way to the house of his boss, Rep. Sulpicio Roco Jr.
Tumbaga would later refuse to hand over the clothes, as well as furniture and his case files, leading Teoxon to file a complaint for replevin (return of property to the owner).
But, the Naga City Municipal Trial Court in Cities’ (MTCC) May 8, 2006 decision ended up being a key piece of evidence for the IBP to recommend sanctions against the abogado.
The trial court made clear in its strongly-worded decision that it did not buy his denial of the affair, questioning why he would leave his clothes with a woman he visited “only twice” and saying Tumbaga appeared to have only held on to his belongings to pressure him into giving child support.
The SC agreed with the IBP that the MTCC ruling was sufficient to show Teoxon “tried to distort the truth” about his affair. Since the lower court held a trial, the SC said it “cannot be accused of arriving at the aforementioned findings lightly.”
The SC also cited the pictures presented by Tumbaga which showed them smiling at the camera while sitting beside each other.
“From the facial expressions and the body language of respondent and complainant in these pictures, the same unfailingly demonstrate their unmistakable closeness and their lack of qualms over publicly displaying their affection towards one another. Thus, the attempts of respondent to downplay his relationship with complainant flop miserably,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro.
The SC was also not convinced by Teoxon’s claim that his signature was forged in the letters promising child support and the birth certificate of the love child. This was because his signatures even in his court pleadings suggested he “uses several different signatures.”