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 May 26, 2024

Supreme Court Bans Lawyer For Misconduct Involving Bounced Checks

In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court has stripped attorney Elerizza Libiran-Meteoro of her legal practicing rights, permanently banning her following a series of financial misdeeds.

The Philipine Daily Inquirer reported that this decision comes as a result of her involvement in issuing several bouncing checks and consistently failing to clear her debts, which not only broke the law but also breached the ethical standards expected of her profession.

The high court concluded that Libiran-Meteoro's behavior, notably her negligence in financial commitments and legal directives, warranted a severe penalty including disbarment and a fine.

This incident calls into question the standards to which lawyers are held, particularly in their personal and professional financial dealings.

The Supreme Court, during its full bench hearing, found Libiran-Meteoro guilty of gross misconduct, emphasizing that her actions undermined both the legal fraternity and public trust.

Background of Financial Misconduct

Elerizza Libiran-Meteoro's troubles began in 2013 when she entered into a loan agreement with Maliliw Lending Corp. Over the course of this arrangement, she issued multiple postdated checks intended to settle the borrowed amounts.

However, these checks were soon returned by the bank, marked either because they were drawn from a closed account or due to insufficient funds being available.

William Uy, representing Maliliw Lending Corp., faced substantial financial losses amounting to P245,000. His repeated attempts to reconcile the amounts with Libiran-Meteoro were ignored, prompting a formal complaint.

His discoveries also included past disciplinary actions against Libiran-Meteoro, revealing a six-month suspension for similar misconduct.

This discovery added to the gravity of her actions, painting a picture of a professional habitually neglecting her legal and financial obligations.

The Supreme Court's scrutiny revealed that the issued checks were in violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, better known as the Bouncing Checks Law.

This law protects the banking system and ensures public trust in financial transactions, which Libiran-Meteoro's actions directly jeopardized.

“As a member of the Bar, Atty. Libiran-Meteoro was expected not only to know the harmful effect of issuing worthless checks and the fact that this is prohibited, but to be the first to faithfully follow the law,” the Supreme Court stated, addressing the basics of legal accountability.

The court also highlighted that her continuous refusal to acknowledge or settle her debts demonstrated a deliberate disregard for her professional responsibilities.

“Her continued refusal to pay, much less acknowledge, her obligation, further shows that her acts were willful and intentional,” further exemplified the court's observations regarding her deceitful practices.

Initially, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBN) took charge of the disciplinary complaint against Libiran-Meteoro. Their findings suggested a deep-seated pattern of dishonesty and recommended suspending her for one year while also mandating the repayment of debts totaling P245,000 to William Uy.

However, upon further deliberation, the IBP Board of Governors adjusted the recommendation. While they agreed with the findings of gross misconduct, they proposed that the debt repayment be resolved separately through a civil lawsuit, rather than as part of the disciplinary proceedings.

This nuanced approach by the IBP underlines the complexity of legal and ethical breaches, separating criminal behavior from civil debt obligations.

Implications of Supreme Court Ruling

As the profession of law demands high ethical standards and strict adherence to legal norms, this case serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of failing to uphold these principles. The judiciary's actions in this instance signify a commitment to maintaining public trust and integrity within the legal community.

As this case concludes with a significant judgment, it also opens discussions on financial responsibility and ethical conduct, not just within legal circles but also among the general public.

By sternly administering justice in the case of Elerizza Libiran-Meteoro, the Supreme Court has reinforced the message that professional misbehavior, especially involving financial malfeasance, will not be tolerated.

Written By:
Christina Davie

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