Law school dean to file perjury, libel cases vs. wife of poll chief

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Updated with statement from Aegis Juris Fraternity.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 28) — An embattled law school university dean on Thursday said he intends to fight a case of disbarment filed against him.

University of Santo Tomas (UST) Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina said he and his co-accused plan to file charges against Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andy Bautista's estranged wife Patricia and her lawyer Lorna Kapunan. He said libel, perjury, and damage suits are some of the likely charges.

"We will defend our good name and we will fight back. So cases upon cases will be filed against Patricia Bautista and her lawyer in all forums — civil, criminal, and admin," Divina told CNN Philippines' The Source.

"Not just me, but all the lawyers individually and collectively, we'll be filing cases. So they'll be very busy defending themselves," he added.

Bautista filed a disbarment complaint against Divina and 20 others from his firm, Divina Law. She alleged that the firm handed to her husband, Andy, referral fees in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Related: Patricia Bautista files disbarment complaint vs. UST Law Dean Divina, 20 others

Divina expressed disappointment, saying that Bautista is "just fishing for evidence."

"I feel sad because this is the same law firm that helped Tish in some of her corporate problems. We rendered legal services to her pro bono. We have not charged her a single centavo," he said. Divina is managing partner of the law firm that bears his name.

He added that under Supreme Court rules, a disbarment case must be kept "confidential and private."

Divina said her publicizing the case against him was done "in bad faith" and was "obviously meant to disparage me, ridicule me."

The disbarment complaint is among the latest woes besetting Divina, who is dealing with fallout following the death of UST law school freshman Horacio Castillo III. Castillo died September 17 after participating in hazing rites of the Aegis Juris fraternity. Divina is among the alumni of the fraternity.

Related: UST Law Dean mulls resigning from Aegis Juris

While Divina maintains he is on leave from the fraternity, it expressed solidarity with the law dean in a statement dated August 15.

"We implore the public to trust the legal processes and wait for the declaration of the court before giving out presumptions that may cast doubt on the character of our brother," Grand Praefectus Arvin Balag wrote.

"We are aware that as a Christian lawyer, all his dealings are clean, fair, and conscionable," he added.

Divina denies representing Smartmatic before Comelec

The Comelec chairman was accused by his wife of having received commissions for referring automated poll technology supplier, Smartmatic, to Divina's firm.

However, Divina maintained that their business with Smartmatic was not related to any business with the Comelec, and that there was no conflict of interest. He said the P2.9 million they received over the course of two years from the electronic voting company was only a small amount.

"There was a contract between us and Smartmatic but we never represented Smartmatic before the Comelec. The service we rendered to them [is] not in relation to Comelec," said Divina.

"I assure you, we did not represent Smartmatic. We never handled a claim, an account, transaction, a case with Comelec... and the amount they paid to us is pittance," he added.

He also said that the checks presented by Bautista as supposed proof were never deposited.

Divina declined to disclose the nature of the services rendered to Smartmatic, citing confidentiality rules between lawyer and client.

The Comelec chief had faced an impeachment complaint that referenced his wife's allegations against him. It was junked by the House Committee on Justice on September 20.

Patricia Bautista faces charges of extortion, robbery, and grave coercion filed by her husband in August.

Related: Comelec Chair Andy Bautista files criminal cases against estranged wife