MANILA – Accusing lawyer Renato Bondal for “gross immoral conduct,” a Makati City resident has recently asked the Supreme Court to disbar Vice President Jejomar Binay’s accuser for allegedly committing bigamy.
Bondal is among the witnesses accusing Binay of corruption during his term as Mayor in Makati. He is also one of the complainants who filed plunder cases in the Office of the Ombudsman against the Binays.
But this time, Bondal was the one accused not of corruption, but of bigamy, a violation committed when a person contracts a second marriage before the first marriage was legally dissolved or before the absent spouse was declared presumptively dead through a judgment rendered in proper proceedings.
Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, a penalty of “prison mayor” or imprisonment from six years to 12 years is imposed for this violation.
In the complaint submitted on Aug. 11 and addressed to the Office of the Court Administrator, a certain resident of Barangay (village) Palanan, Makati, named Eduardo Eridio claimed that Bondal married Rutchie B. Barcelona on March 19, 1997.
He said that the marriage was conducted before Judge Felicidad Navarro-Quiambao of the Makati Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 65.
But according to Eridio, Bondal contracted a second marriage with Janice N. Ramos at Malate Church in Manila, with Fr. Daniel O’Malley as the officiating priest on July 2, 2011.
To prove his claims, Bondal attarched to his sworn compliant certificates for both marriages with Registry No. 97-1088 and Registry No. 2011-06804 for Bondal’s first and second marriage, respectively.
In addition to the bigamy complaints, Eridio is also asking the courts to remove Bondal’s privilege to practice law because according to him, “abandoning his first wife and children and taking a second wife 20 years younger than he clearly showed that he was leading a life not in accordance with the highest moral standards of the community.”
He also cited section 27 Rule 138 of the Rules of Court that states: “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 willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do.”
Bondal, however, only laughed at the claims and said that it was done with the purpose of harassing him.
“I am shocked to learn from the members of the media that a disbarment case [has been filed] against me by someone who was not even related to my first wife. This disbarment case is part of the harassment against me. They cannot bring a good man down,” he told reporters in a phone interview.
He added that the second marriage happened after his first wife, now a US citizen filed a divorce and was approved by the court of the United States.
He further cited Article 26 of the Family Code: “Where 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.”