Lawyer Manuel F. Teoxon was suspended from the practice of law for one month by the court and was also slapped with a fine of PHP5,000 for his failure to comply with the Commission on Bar Discipline's directive for him to answer the disbarment complaint against him.
"As aptly found by the IBP Board of Governors, respondent's failure to promptly file the comment on both the petition for review on certiorari and the disbarment complaint is an evident manifestation of his negligence," the SC said.
"Clearly, Atty. Teoxon had been remiss in his duty as counsel for the complainants and had failed to comply with the utmost diligence required of him as a lawyer and as a member of the bar," it added.
The complainants, spouses Ildefonso and Francia Regulto, were the respondents in a petition for review before the High Court in 2013.
On Aug. 14, 2013, an SC resolution considered them to have waived the filing of their comment for their lawyer's failure to file the required comment despite the lapse of an appreciable length of time.
The complainants pointed out that they were surprised with the development as they had already paid Teoxon to handle their case and had frequently visited him to remind him of the need to file a comment.
The court, in a subsequent resolution, said it was treating the belatedly filed comment of the couple as a complaint for disbarment against Teoxon, who then failed to file the required pleading to refute or clarify his side in the disbarment complaint.
This prompted the SC to refer the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), which later recommended sanctions against Teoxon.