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ZOILO ANTONIO VELEZ vs. ATTY. LEONARD S.

DE VERA
A.C. No. 6697, Bar Matter 1227 and A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC,
25 July 2006, Per Curium (En Banc)

Atty. De Vera vehemently insists that there is no proof that he


misappropriated his client's funds as the elder Willis gave him authority
to use the same and that the latter even testified under oath that he
"expected de Vera might use the money for a few days." He also questions
his removal from the IBP Board on the ground that he was denied "very
basic rights of due process recognized by the Honorable Court even in
administrative cases" like the right to answer formally or in writing and
within reasonable time, the right to present witnesses in his behalf, the
right to a fair hearing. He protests the fact that he was not able to crossexamine the complainant, IBP Governor
Romulo Rivera and that the latter
voted as well for his expulsion which made him accuser, prosecutor and
judge at the same time. Atty. de Vera emphasizes the fact that Atty. Rivera
initially inhibited himself from voting on his own motion. However, when
his inhibition resulted in the defeat of his motion as the necessary 2/3
vote could not be mustered, Atty. Rivera asked for another round of
voting so he could vote to support his own motion.
The IBP Board counters that since its members were present during
the plenary session, and personally witnessed and heard Atty. de Vera's
actuations, an evidentiary or formal hearing was no longer necessary.
Since they all witnessed and heard Atty. de Vera, it was enough that he
was given an opportunity to refute and answer all the charges imputed
against him. They emphasized that Atty. de Vera was given a copy of the
complaint and that he was present at the Board Meeting on May 13, 2005
wherein the letter-complaint against him was part of the agenda. Therein,
he was given the opportunity to be heard and that, in fact, Atty. de Vera
did argue his case.
ISSUES:
1) Whether or not there is substantial proof that Atty. De Vera violated
Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for Lawyers
2) Whether or not Atty. de Vera was removed for just and valid cause
3) Whether or not Atty. De Vera was denied due process when he
was removed from the IBP Board and as IBP EVP

HELD:
Atty. De Vera is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for two
years. His letter-complaint praying for the disapproval of the Resolution
removing him from the IBP Board and as IBP EVP is DISMISSED. The
election of Atty. Salazar as IBP EVP for the remainder of the term 20032005 is AFFIRMED and he is DIRECTED to immediately take his oath
of office and assume the Presidency of the IBP for the term 2005-2007.