Disbarment case filed against Binay accuser
MANILA, Philippines – The lawyer who alleged that Vice President Jejomar Binay earned from an overpriced contract for the new Makati City Hall building is facing a disbarment complaint over bigamy.
In a 2-page petition dated August 11, Makati City resident Eduardo Eridio asked the Supreme Court (SC) to expel lawyer Renato Bondal from the Bar for allegedly employing deceit to get married twice.
Bondal said the case was just meant to harass him.
Eridio said Bondal married a second wife named Janice Ramos in 2011, despite being married to Rutchie Barcelona in 1997.
“As officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good moral character but must also be perceived to of good moral character and must lead a life accordance with the highest moral standards of the community,” Eridio said.
Eridio said Bondal married Barcelona before the Metropolitan Trial Court-Makati City, and married Ramos at the Malate Catholic Church. Ramos is said to be 20 years his junior.
Eridio added that Bondal even "tried to mislead the public" by altering his name in his second marriage certificate. He indicated "Renato L. Bondal" in his first marriage certificate, while he put "Renato Lou L. Bondal" in the second one.
However, the birth dates, addresses, and parents’ names of the groom in both certifcates were identical, which prove that the groom in both documents are one and the same.
Eridio cited Section 27 Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, which says:
A member of the bar may be removed or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before the admission to practice, or for a wilful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or wilfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do.
He added that Bondal should be penalized for violating Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) which prohibits bigamy and penalizes it with 6 to 12 years imprisonment.
In his defense, Bondal stressed that the complaint was intended to simply harass him. "They cannot bring a good man down,” he said.
Bondal explained that a United States court had approved his divorce from Barcelona, who is a US citizen, before he married Ramos. He added that he and Barcelona are still good friends, and that she has already remarried in the US and now has 3 children with her new husband.
Bondal explained that, under the Philippine Family Code, “if a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse, capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.”
“I was shocked to learn from the members of the media that a disbarment case against me [was filed] by someone who was not even related to my first wife,” Bondal said.
Bondal is one of the two complainants who accused Binay in July of overpricing a parking building contract by more than a billion pesos – a violation the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act – before the Office of the Ombudsman. (READ: Plunder case filed vs VP Binay, Makati officials)
He also accused the Binays of overpricing even the birthday cakes that the city government gives to senior citizens when he testified at a Senate hearing in August. (READ: From cakes to buildings, Binays ‘overprice, chop-chop’)
Bondal and two other witnesses have already been placed under the justice department’s Witness Protection Program upon their request. (READ: 3 Makati witnesses now under gov't protection). – Rappler.com