Attorneys and Admission to Bar
Section 1. Who may practice law. – Any person heretofore duly admitted as a member of the bar, or hereafter admitted as such in accordance with the provisions of this rule, and who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice law.
Section 2. Requirements for all applicants for admission to the bar. – Every applicant for admission as a member of the bar must be a citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, of good moral character, and resident of the Philippines; and must produce before the Supreme Court satisfactory evidence of good moral character, and that no charges against him, involving moral turpitude, have been filed or are pending in any court in the Philippines.
Section 3. Requirements for lawyers who are citizens of the United States of America. – Citizens of the United States of America who, before July 4, 1946, were duly licensed members of the Philippine Bar, in active practice in the courts of the Philippines and in good and regular standing as such may, upon satisfactory proof of those facts before the Supreme Court, be allowed to continue such practice after taking the following oath of office:
I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ., having been permitted to continue in the practice of law in the Philippines, do solemnly swear that I recognize the supreme authority of the Republic of the Philippines; I will support its Constitution and obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of may knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well as to the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon myself this voluntary obligation without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God.
Section 4. Requirements for applicants from other jurisdictions. – Applicants for admission who, being Filipino citizens, are enrolled attorneys in good standing in the Supreme Court of the United States or in any circuit court of appeals or district court therein, or in the highest court of any State or Territory of the United States, and who can show by satisfactory certificates that they have practiced at least five years in any of said courts, that such practice began before July 4, 1946, and that they have never been suspended or disbarred, may, in the discretion of the Court, be admitted without examination.
Section 5. Additional requirements for other applicants. – All applicants for admission other than those referred to in the two preceding section shall, before being admitted to the examination, satisfactorily show that they have regularly studied law for four years, and successfully completed all prescribed courses, in a law school or university, officially approved and recognized by the Secretary of Education. The affidavit of the candidate, accompanied by a certificate from the university or school of law, shall be filed as evidence of such facts, and further evidence may be required by the court.
No applicant shall be admitted to the bar examinations unless he has satisfactorily completed the following courses in a law school or university duly recognized by the government: civil law, commercial law, remedial law, criminal law, public and private international law, political law, labor and social legislation, medical jurisprudence, taxation and legal ethics.
Section 6. Pre-Law. – No applicant for admission to the bar examination shall be admitted unless he presents a certificate that he has satisfied the Secretary of Education that, before he began the study of law, he had pursued and satisfactorily completed in an authorized and recognized university or college, requiring for admission thereto the completion of a four-year high school course, the course of study prescribed therein for a bachelor’s degree in arts or sciences with any of the following subjects as major or field of concentration: political science, logic, english, spanish, history and economics.
Section 7. Time for filing proof of qualifications. – All applicants for admission shall file with the clerk of the Supreme Court the evidence required by section 2 of this rule at least fifteen (15) days before the beginning of the examination. If not embraced within section 3 and 4 of this rule they shall also file within the same period the affidavit and certificate required by section 5, and if embraced within sections 3 and 4 they shall exhibit a license evidencing the fact of their admission to practice, satisfactory evidence that the same has not been revoked, and certificates as to their professional standing. Applicants shall also file at the same time their own affidavits as to their age, residence, and citizenship.
Section 8. Notice of Applications. – Notice of applications for admission shall be published by the clerk of the Supreme Court in newspapers published in Pilipino, English and Spanish, for at least ten (10) days before the beginning of the examination.
Section 9. Examination; subjects. – Applicants, not otherwise provided for in sections 3 and 4 of this rule, shall be subjected to examinations in the following subjects: Civil Law; Labor and Social Legislation; Mercantile Law; Criminal Law; Political Law (Constitutional Law, Public Corporations, and Public Officers); International Law (Private and Public); Taxation; Remedial Law (Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence); Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises (in Pleadings and Conveyancing).
Section 10. Bar examination, by questions and answers, and in writing. – Persons taking the examination shall not bring papers, books or notes into the examination rooms. The questions shall be the same for all examinees and a copy thereof, in English or Spanish, shall be given to each examinee. Examinees shall answer the questions personally without help from anyone.
Upon verified application made by an examinee stating that his penmanship is so poor that it will be difficult to read his answers without much loss of time., the Supreme Court may allow such examinee to use a typewriter in answering the questions. Only noiseless typewriters shall be allowed to be used.
The committee of bar examiner shall take such precautions as are necessary to prevent the substitution of papers or commission of other frauds. Examinees shall not place their names on the examination papers. No oral examination shall be given.
Section 11. Annual examination. – Examinations for admission to the bar of the Philippines shall take place annually in the City of Manila. They shall be held in four days to be disignated by the chairman of the committee on bar examiners. The subjects shall be distributed as follows: First day: Political and International Law (morning) and Labor and Social Legislation (afternoon); Second day: Civil Law (morning) and Taxation (afternoon); Third day: Mercantile Law (morning) and Criminal Law (afternoon); Fourth day: Remedial Law (morning) and legal Ethics and Practical Exercises (afternoon).
Section 12. Committee of examiners. – Examinations shall be conducted by a committee of bar examiners to be appointed by the Supreme Court. This committee shall be composed of a Justice of the Supreme Court, who shall act as chairman, and who shall be designated by the court to serve for one year, and eight members of the bar of the Philippines, who shall hold office for a period of one year. The names of the members of this committee shall be published in each volume of the official reports.
Section 13. Disciplinary measures. – No candidate shall endeavor to influence any member of the committee, and during examination the candidates shall not communicate with each other nor shall they give or receive any assistance. The candidate who violates this provisions, or any other provision of this rule, shall be barred from the examination, and the same to count as a failure against him, and further disciplinary action, including permanent disqualification, may be taken in the discretion of the court.
Section 14. Passing average. – In order that a candidate may be deemed to have passed his examinations successfully, he must have obtained a general average of 75 per cent in all subjects, without falling below 50 per cent in any subjects. In determining the average, the subjects in the examination shall be given the following relative weights: Civil Law, 15 per cent; Labor and Social Legislation, 10 per cent; Mercantile Law, 15 per cent; Criminal Law; 10 per cent: Political and International Law, 15 per cent; Taxation, 10 per cent; Remedial Law, 20 per cent; Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises, 5 per cent.
Section 15. Report of the committee; filing of examination papers. – Not later than February 15th after the examination, or as soon thereafter as may be practicable, the committee shall file its report on the result of such examination. The examination papers and notes of the committee shall be filed with the clerk and may there be examined by the parties in interest, after the court has approved the report.
Section 16. Failing candidates to take review course. – Candidates who have failed the bar examinations for three times shall be disqualified from taking another examination unless they show the satisfaction of the court that they have enrolled in and passed regular fourth year review classes as well as attended a pre-bar review course in a recognized law school.
The professors of the individual review subjects attended by the candidates under this rule shall certify under oath that the candidates have regularly attended classes and passed the subjects under the same conditions as ordinary students and the ratings obtained by them in the particular subject.
Section 17. Admission and oath of successful applicants. – An applicant who has passed the required examination, or has been otherwise found to be entitled to admission to the bar, shall take and subscribe before the Supreme Court the corresponding oath of office.
Section 18. Certificate. – The supreme Court shall thereupon admit the applicant as a member of the bar for all the courts of the Philippines, and shall direct an order to be entered to that effect upon its records, and that a certificate of such record be given to him by the clerk of court, which certificate shall be his authority to practice.
Section 19. Attorney’s roll. – The clerk of the Supreme Court shall kept a roll of all attorneys admitted to practice, which roll shall be signed by the person admitted when he receives his certificate.
Section 20. Duties of attorneys. – It is the duty of an attorney:
(a) To maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and to support the Constitution and obey the laws of the Philippines.
(b) To observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers;
(c) To counsel or maintain such actions or proceedings only as appear to him to be just, and such defenses only as he believes to be honestly debatable under the law.
(d) To employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to him, such means only as are consistent with truth and honor, and never seek to mislead the judge or any judicial officer by an artifice or false statement of fact or law;
(e) To maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to himself, to preserve the secrets of his client, and to accept no compensation in connection with his client’s business except from him or with his knowledge and approval;
(f) To abstain from all offensive personality and to advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which he is charged;
(g) Not to encourage either the commencement or the continuance of an action or proceeding, or delay any man’s cause, from any corrupt motive or interest;
(h) Never to reject, for any consideration personal to himself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed;
(i) In the defense of a person accused of crime, by all fair and honorable means, regardless of his personal opinion as to the guilt of the accused, to present every defense that the law permits, to the end that no person may be deprived of life or liberty, but by due process of law.
Section 21. Authority of attorney to appear. – an attorney is presumed to be properly authorized to represent any cause in which he appears, and no written power of attorney is required to authorize him to appear in court for his client, but the presiding judge may, on motion of either party and on reasonable grounds therefor being shown, require any attorney who assumes the right to appear in a case to produce or prove the authority under which he appears, and to disclose, whenever pertinent to any issue, the name of the person who employed him, and may thereupon make such order as justice requires. An attorneys wilfully appear in court for a person without being employed, unless by leave of the court, may be punished for contempt as an officer of the court who has misbehaved in his official transactions.
Section 22. Attorney who appears in lower court presumed to represent client on appeal. – An attorney who appears de parte in a case before a lower court shall be presumed to continue representing his client on appeal, unless he files a formal petition withdrawing his appearance in the appellate court.
Section 23. Authority of attorneys to bind clients. – Attorneys have authority to bind their clients in any case by any agreement in relation thereto made in writing, and in taking appeals, and in all matters of ordinary judicial procedure. But they cannot, without special authority, compromise their client’s litigation, or receive anything in discharge of a client’s claim but the full amount in cash.
Section 24. Compensation of attorneys; agreement as to fees. – An attorney shall be entitled to have and recover from his client no more than a reasonable compensation for his services, with a view to the importance of the subject matter of the controversy, the extent of the services rendered, and the professional standing of the attorney. No court shall be bound by the opinion of attorneys as expert witnesses as to the proper compensation, but may disregard such testimony and base its conclusion on its own professional knowledge. A written contract for services shall control the amount to be paid therefor unless found by the court to be unconscionable or unreasonable.
Section 25. Unlawful retention of client’s funds; contempt. – When an attorney unjustly retains in his hands money of his client after it has been demanded, he may be punished for contempt as an officer of the Court who has misbehaved in his official transactions; but proceedings under this section shall not be a bar to a criminal prosecution.
Section 26. Change of attorneys. – An attorney may retire at any time from any action or special proceeding, by the written consent of his client filed in court. He may also retire at any time from an action or special proceeding, without the consent of his client, should the court, on notice to the client and attorney, and on hearing, determine that he ought to be allowed to retire. In case of substitution, the name of the attorney newly employed shall be entered on the docket of the court in place of the former one, and written notice of the change shall be given to the advance party.
A client may at any time dismiss his attorney or substitute another in his place, but if the contract between client and attorney has been reduced to writing and the dismissal of the attorney was without justifiable cause, he shall be entitled to recover from the client the full compensation stipulated in the contract. However, the attorney may, in the discretion of the court, intervene in the case to protect his rights. For the payment of his compensation the attorney shall have a lien upon all judgments for the payment of money, and executions issued in pursuance of such judgment, rendered in the case wherein his services had been retained by the client.
Section 27. Attorneys removed or suspended by Supreme Court on what grounds. – 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 wilfull disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willful appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.
Section 28. Suspension of attorney by the Court of Appeals or a Court of First Instance. – The Court of Appeals or a Court of First Instance may suspend an attorney from practice for any of the causes named in the last preceding section, and after such suspension such attorney shall not practice his profession until further action of the Supreme Court in the premises.
Section 29. Upon suspension by the Court of Appeals or Court of First Instance, further proceedings in Supreme Court. – Upon such suspension, the Court of Appeals or the Court of First Instance shall forthwith transmit to the Supreme Court a certified copy of the order of suspension and a full statement of the facts upon which the same was based. Upon the receipt of such certified copy and statement, the Supreme Court shall make a full investigation of the facts involved and make such order revoking or extending the suspension, or removing the attorney from his office as such, as the facts warrant.
Section 30. Attorney to be heard before removal or suspension. – No attorney shall be removed or suspended from the practice of his profession, until he has had full opportunity upon reasonable notice to answer the charges against him, to produce witnesses in his own behalf, and to be heard by himself or counsel. But if upon reasonable notice he fails to appear and answer the accusation, the court may proceed to determine the matter ex parte.
Section 31. Attorneys for destitute litigants. – A court may assign an attorney to render professional aid free of charge to any party in a case, if upon investigation it appears that the party is destitute and unable to employ an attorney, and that the services of counsel are necessary to secure the ends of justice and to protect the rights of the party. It shall be the duty of the attorney so assigned to render the required service, unless he is excused therefrom by the court for sufficient cause shown.
Section 32. Compensation for attorneys de oficio. – Subject to availability of funds as may be provided by the law the court may, in its discretion, order an attorney employed as counsel de oficio to be compensates in such sum as the court may fix in accordance with section 24 of this rule. Whenever such compensation is allowed, it shall be not less than thirty pesos (P30) in any case, nor more than the following amounts: (1) Fifty pesos (P50) in light felonies; (2) One hundred pesos (P100) in less grave felonies; (3) Two hundred pesos (P200) in grave felonies other than capital offenses; (4) Five Hundred pesos (P500) in capital offenses.
Section 33. Standing in court of person authorized to appear for Government. – Any official or other person appointed or designated in accordance with law to appear for the Government of the Philippines shall have all the rights of a duly authorized member of the bar to appear in any case in which said government has an interest direct or indirect.
Section 34. By whom litigation conducted. – In the court of a justice of the peace a party may conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for the purpose, or with the aid an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly authorized member of the bar.
Section 35. Certain attorneys not to practice. – No judge or other official or employee of the superior courts or of the Office of the Solicitor General, shall engage in private practice as a member of the bar or give professional advice to clients.
Section 36. Amicus Curiae. – Experienced and impartial attorneys may be invited by the Court to appear as amici curiae to help in the disposition of issues submitted to it.
Section 37. Attorneys’ liens. – An attorney shall have a lien upon the funds, documents and papers of his client which have lawfully come into his possession and may retain the same until his lawful fees and disbursements have been paid, and may apply such funds to the satisfaction thereof. He shall also have a lien to the same extent upon all judgments for the payment of money, and executions issued in pursuance of such judgments, which he has secured in a litigation of his client, from and after the time when he shall have the caused a statement of his claim of such lien to be entered upon the records of the court rendering such judgment, or issuing such execution, and shall have the caused written notice thereof to be delivered to his client and to the adverse paty; and he shall have the same right and power over such judgments and executions as his client would have to enforce his lien and secure the payment of his just fees and disbursements.
a. Supreme Court- Consti Art VIII sec. 5 (5)
Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the integrated bar, and legal assistance to the under-privileged. Such rules shall provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights. Rules of procedure of special courts and quasi-judicial bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the Supreme Court.
b. Congress – Consti Art XII Sec . 14
Section 14. The sustained development of a reservoir of national talents consisting of Filipino scientists, entrepreneurs, professionals, managers, high-level technical manpower and skilled workers and craftsmen in all fields shall be promoted by the State. The State shall encourage appropriate technology and regulate its transfer for the national benefit. The practice of all professions in the Philippines shall be limited to Filipino citizens, save in cases prescribed by law.
Art XVIII sec 10
Section 10. All courts existing at the time of the ratification of this Constitution shall continue to exercise their jurisdiction, until otherwise provided by law. The provisions of the existing Rules of Court, judiciary acts, and procedural laws not inconsistent with this Constitution shall remain operative unless amended or repealed by the Supreme Court or the Congress.
What constitutes practice of law
RENATO CAYETANO, petitioner, vs.CHRISTIAN MONSOD, HON. JOVITO R. SALONGA, COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENT, and HON. GUILLERMO CARAGUE, in his capacity as Secretary of Budget and Management, respondents.
G.R. No. 100113 September 3, 1991
Christian Monsod was nominated by then President Corazon C. Aquino as chairman of the COMELEC. Cayetano questioned the appointment for Monsod allegedly lacked the necessary qualification of having been engaged in the practice of law for at least 10 years.
The 1987 constitution provides in Section 1, Article IX-C: There shall be a Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and six Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five years of age, holders of a college degree, and must not have been candidates for any elective position in the immediately preceding elections.However, a majority thereof, including the Chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.
It was established that after graduating from the College of Law and hurdling the Bar, respondent worked in his father’s law office for a short while, then worked as an Operations Officer in the World Bank Group for about 2 years, which involved getting acquainted with the laws of member-countries, negotiating loans, and coordinating legal, economic and project work of the Bank. Upon returning to the Philippines, he worked with the Meralco Group, served as Chief Executive Officer of an investment bank and has subsequently worked either as Chief Executive Officer or Consultant of various companies.
1. Whether or not Monsod satisfies the requirement of the position of Chairman of the COMELEC.
2. Whether or not the Commission on Appointments committed grave abuse of discretion in confirming Monsod’s appointment.
1. YES. In the case of Philippine Lawyers Association vs. Agrava: The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in court…In general, all advice to clients, and all action taken for them in matters connected with the law incorporation services, assessment and condemnation services, contemplating an appearance before judicial body, the foreclosure of mortgage, enforcement of a creditor’s claim in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and conducting proceedings in attachment, and in matters of estate and guardianship have been held to constitute law practice.
Practice of law means any activity, in or out court, which requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience. “To engage in the practice of law is to perform those acts which are characteristics of the profession. Generally, to practice law is to give notice or render any kind of service, which device or service requires the use in any degree of legal knowledge or skill. In general, a practice of law requires a lawyer and client relationship, it is whether in or out of court.
A person is also considered to be in the practice of law when he: “. . . for valuable consideration engages in the business of advising person, firms, associations or corporations as to their rights under the law, or appears in a representative capacity as an advocate in proceedings pending or prospective, before any court, commissioner, referee, board, body, committee, or commission constituted by law or authorized to settle controversies. Otherwise stated, one who, in a representative capacity, engages in the business of advising clients as to their rights under the law, or while so engaged performs any act or acts either in court or outside of court for that purpose, is engaged in the practice of law.”
Atty. Christian Monsod is a member of the Philippine Bar, having passed the bar examinations of 1960 with a grade of 86.55%. He has been a dues paying member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines since its inception in 1972-73. He has also been paying his professional license fees as lawyer for more than 10 years. Atty. Monsod’s past work experiences as a lawyer-economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry, a lawyer-negotiator of contracts, and a lawyer-legislator of both the rich and the poor – verily more than satisfy the constitutional requirement – that he has been engaged in the practice of law for at least 10 years.
2. NO. The power of the COA to give consent to the nomination of the Comelec Chairman by the president is mandated by the constitution. The power of appointment is essentially within the discretion of whom it is so vested subject to the only condition that the appointee should possess the qualification required by law. From the evidence, there is no occasion for the SC to exercise its corrective power since there is no such grave abuse of discretion on the part of the CA.
RUTHIE LIM-SANTIAGO, Complainant, vs. ATTY. CARLOS B. SAGUCIO, Respondent.
A.C. No. 6705 March 31, 2006
FACTS: Atty. Sagucio was the former Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel of Taggat industries, Inc. until his appointment as Asst. Provincial Prosecutor of Tuguegarao, Cagayan in 1992. Employees of Taggat filed a criminal complaint, they alleged that complainant, who took over the management and control of Taggat after the death of her father, withheld payment of their salaries and wages without valid cause. Complainant now charges respondent with the violations Rule 15.03 of CPR and engaging in the private practice of law while working as a gov’t prosecutor.
ISSUE: WON respondent violated Rule 15.03 of CPR. WON being a former lawyer of Taggat conflicts with his role as Asst. Provincial Prosecutor
HELD: The Supreme Court finds no conflict of interests when respondent handled preliminary investigation of criminal complaint filed by Taggat employees in 1997. The issue in the criminal complaint pertains to non-payment of wages that occurred from April 1 1996 to July 15, 1997. Clearly, respondent was no longer connected with Taggat during that period since he resigned sometime in 1992. In order to change respondent for representing conflicting interests, evidence must be presented to prove that respondent used against Taggat, his former client, any confidential information acquired thru his previous employment. It does not necessarily follow that respondent used any confidential information from his previous employment with complainant or Taggat in resolving the criminal complaint.
As the former Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel of Taggat and the case he resolved as gov’t prosecutor was labor-related is not a sufficient basis to charge respondent for representing conflicting interests. A lawyer’s immutable duty to a former client does not cover transactions that occurred beyond the lawyer’s employment with the client. The intent of the law is to impose upon the lawyer the duty to protect the client’s interests only on matters that he previously handled for the former client and not for matters that arose after the lawyer-client relationship has terminated. Thus, respondent is NOT guilty of violating Rule 15.03 of the Code.
As to the second issue, respondent clearly violated the prohibition in Ra 6718 which constitutes a violation of Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, which mandates that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.”. The respondent here performed acts that are usually rendered by lawyers with the use of their legal knowledge, the same falls within the ambit of the term “practice of law”. Respondent’s admission that he received from Taggat fees for legal services while serving as a gov’t prosecutor is unlawful conduct, which constitutes a violation of Rule 1.01.
Good Moral Character
FATHER RANHILIO C. AQUINO, LINA M. GARAN, ESTRELLA C. LOZADA, POLICARPIO L. MABBORANG, DEXTER R. MUNAR, MONICO U. TENEDRO, ANDY R. QUEBRAL, NESTOR T. RIVERA, EDUARDO C. RICAMORA, ARTHUR G. IBAÑEZ, AURELIO C. CALDEZ and DENU A. AGATEP, complainants, vs. ATTY. EDWIN PASCUA, respondent.
A.C. No. 5095 November 28, 2007
For our resolution is the letter-complaint dated August 3, 1999 of Father Ranhilio C. Aquino, then Academic Head of the Philippine Judicial Academy, joined by Lina M. Garan and the other above-named complainants, against Atty. Edwin Pascua, a Notary Public in Cagayan.
In his letter-complaint, Father Aquino alleged that Atty. Pascua falsified two documents committed as follows:
(1) He made it appear that he had notarized the “Affidavit-Complaint” of one Joseph B. Acorda entering the same as “Doc. No. 1213, Page No. 243, Book III, Series of 1998, dated December 10, 1998”.
(2) He also made it appear that he had notarized the “Affidavit-Complaint” of one Remigio B. Domingo entering the same as “Doc. No. 1214, Page 243, Book III, Series of 1998, dated December 10, 1998.
Father Aquino further alleged that on June 23 and July 26, 1999, Atty. Angel Beltran, Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court, Tuguegarao, certified that none of the above entries appear in the Notarial Register of Atty. Pascua; that the last entry therein was Document No. 1200 executed on December 28, 1998; and that, therefore, he could not have notarized Documents Nos. 1213 and 1214 on December 10, 1998.
In his comment on the letter-complaint dated September 4, 1999, Atty. Pascua admitted having notarized the two documents on December 10, 1998, but they were not entered in his Notarial Register due to the oversight of his legal secretary, Lyn Elsie C. Patli, whose affidavit was attached to his comment.
The affidavit-complaints referred to in the notarized documents were filed by Atty. Pascua with the Civil Service Commission. Impleaded as respondents therein were Lina M. Garan and the other above-named complainants. They filed with this Court a “Motion to Join the Complaint and Reply to Respondent’s Comment.” They maintain that Atty. Pascua’s omission was not due to inadvertence but a clear case of falsification.1 On November 16, 1999, we granted their motion.2
Thereafter, we referred the case to the Office of the Bar Confidant for investigation, report and recommendation.
On April 21, 2003, the Office of the Bar Confidant issued its Report and Recommendation partly reproduced as follows:
A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face. For this reason, notaries public must observe the utmost care to comply with the formalities and the basic requirement in the performance of their duties (Realino v. Villamor, 87 SCRA 318).
Under the notarial law, “the notary public shall enter in such register, in chronological order, the nature of each instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him, the person executing, swearing to, or acknowledging the instrument, xxx xxx. The notary shall give to each instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him a number corresponding to the one in his register, and shall also state on the instrument the page or pages of his register on which the same is recorded. No blank line shall be left between entries” (Sec. 246, Article V, Title IV, Chapter II of the Revised Administrative Code).
Failure of the notary to make the proper entry or entries in his notarial register touching his notarial acts in the manner required by law is a ground for revocation of his commission (Sec. 249, Article VI).
In the instant case, there is no question that the subject documents allegedly notarized by Atty. Pascua were not recorded in his notarial register.
Atty. Pascua claims that the omission was not intentional but due to oversight of his staff. Whichever is the case, Atty. Pascua cannot escape liability. His failure to enter into his notarial register the documents that he admittedly notarized is a dereliction of duty on his part as a notary public and he is bound by the acts of his staff.
The claim of Atty. Pascua that it was simple inadvertence is far from true.
The photocopy of his notarial register shows that the last entry which he notarized on December 28, 1998 is Document No. 1200 on Page 240. On the other hand, the two affidavit-complaints allegedly notarized on December 10, 1998 are Document Nos. 1213 and 1214, respectively, under Page No. 243, Book III. Thus, Fr. Ranhilio and the other complainants are, therefore, correct in maintaining that Atty. Pascua falsely assigned fictitious numbers to the questioned affidavit-complaints, a clear dishonesty on his part not only as a Notary Public, but also as a member of the Bar.
This is not to mention that the only supporting evidence of the claim of inadvertence by Atty. Pascua is the affidavit of his own secretary which is hardly credible since the latter cannot be considered a disinterested witness or party.
Noteworthy also is the fact that the questioned affidavit of Acorda (Doc. No. 1213) was submitted only when Domingo’s affidavit (Doc. No. 1214) was withdrawn in the administrative case filed by Atty. Pascua against Lina Garan, et al. with the CSC. This circumstance lends credence to the submission of herein complainants that Atty. Pascua ante-dated another affidavit-complaint making it appear as notarized on December 10, 1998 and entered as Document No. 1213. It may not be sheer coincidence then that both documents are dated December 10, 1998 and numbered as 1213 and 1214.
A member of the legal fraternity should refrain from doing any act which might lessen in any degree the confidence and trust reposed by the public in the fidelity, honesty and integrity of the legal profession (Maligsa v. Cabanting, 272 SCRA 409).
As a lawyer commissioned to be a notary public, Atty. Pascua is mandated to subscribe to the sacred duties appertaining to his office, such duties being dictated by public policy and impressed with public interest.
A member of the Bar may be disciplined or disbarred for any misconduct in his professional or private capacity. The Court has invariably imposed a penalty for notaries public who were found guilty of dishonesty or misconduct in the performance of their duties.
In Villarin v. Sabate, Jr. (325 SCRA 123), respondent lawyer was suspended from his Commission as Notary Public for a period of one year for notarizing a document without affiants appearing before him, and for notarizing the same instrument of which he was one of the signatories. The Court held that respondent lawyer failed to exercise due diligence in upholding his duties as a notary public.
In Arrieta v. Llosa (282 SCRA 248), respondent lawyer who certified under oath a Deed of Absolute Sale knowing that some of the vendors were dead was suspended from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months, with a warning that another infraction would be dealt with more severely. In said case, the Court did not impose the supreme penalty of disbarment, it being the respondent’s first offense.
In Maligsa v. Cabanting (272 SCRA 409), respondent lawyer was disbarred from the practice of law, after being found guilty of notarizing a fictitious or spurious document. The Court considered the seriousness of the offense and his previous misconduct for which he was suspended for six months from the practice of law.
It appearing that this is the first offense of Atty. Pascua, a suspension from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months may be considered enough penalty for him as a lawyer. Considering that his offense is also a ground for revocation of notarial commission, the same should also be imposed upon him.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, it is most respectfully recommended that the notarial commission of Atty. EDWIN V. PASCUA, if still existing, be REVOKED and that he be SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months.”3
After a close review of the records of this case, we resolve to adopt the findings of facts and conclusion of law by the Office of the Bar Confidant. We find Atty. Pascua guilty of misconduct in the performance of his duties for failing to register in his Notarial Register the affidavit-complaints of Joseph B. Acorda and Remigio B. Domingo.
“Misconduct” generally means wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct motivated by a premeditated, obstinate or intentional purpose.4 The term, however, does not necessarily imply corruption or criminal intent.5
The penalty to be imposed for such act of misconduct committed by a lawyer is addressed to the sound discretion of the Court. In Arrieta v. Llosa,6 wherein Atty. Joel A. Llosa notarized a Deed of Absolute Sale knowing that some of the vendors were already dead, this Court held that such wrongful act “constitutes misconduct” and thus imposed upon him the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for six months, this being his first administrative offense. Also, in Vda. de Rosales v. Ramos,7 we revoked the notarial commission of Atty. Mario G. Ramos and suspended him from the practice of law for six months for violating the Notarial Law in not registering in his notarial book the Deed of Absolute Sale he notarized. In Mondejar v. Rubia,8 however, a lesser penalty of one month suspension from the practice of law was imposed on Atty. Vivian G. Rubia for making a false declaration in the document she notarized.
In the present case, considering that this is Atty. Pascua’s first offense, we believe that the imposition of a three-month suspension from the practice of law upon him is in order. Likewise, since his offense is a ground for revocation of notarial commission, the same should also be imposed upon him.
WHEREFORE, Atty. Edwin Pascua is declared GUILTY of misconduct and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) months with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely. His notarial commission, if still existing, is ordered REVOKED.
Non-disclosure Before the Judicial and Bar Council of the Administrative Case Filed Against Judge Jaime V. Quitain, in His Capacity as the then Asst. Regional Director of the National Police Commission, Regional Office XI, Davao City.
JBC No. 013 | Aug 22, 2007
* Judge Jaime Vega Quitain was appointed Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 10, Davao City on May 17, 2003.
* Subsequent thereto, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) received confidential information that administrative and criminal charges were filed against Judge Quitain in his capacity as then Assistant Regional Director, National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), Regional Office 11, Davao City, as a result of which he was dismissed from the service per Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 183 dated April 10, 1995.
* In Personal Data Sheet (PDS) submitted to the JBC judge quitan declared that there were 5 criminal cases filed against him before the Sandiganbayan, all were dismissed. No Administrative Case was disclosed by Quitan in his PDS
* Deputy Court administrator Christopher Lock requested certifie true copies of the criminal cases relative to the administrative complaints filed against Quitan, particularly Adminisrative Order 180 which dismissed Quitan from service.
* In a letter dated November 28, 2003, the NAPOLCOM furnished the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) a copy of A.O. No. 183 showing that respondent Judge was indeed dismissed from the service for Grave Misconduct for falsifying or altering the amounts reflected in disbursement vouchers in support of his claim for reimbursement of expenses.
* The Administrative order stated that Quitan was dismissed from service with forfeiture of pay and benefits, this was signed by President Ramos himself.
* In a letter dated October 22, 2003 addressed to DCA Lock, Judge Quitain denied having committed any misrepresentation before the JBC. He alleged that during his interview, the members thereof only inquired about the status of the criminal cases filed by the NAPOLCOM before the Sandiganbayan, and not about the administrative case simultaneously filed against him. He also alleged that he never received from the Office of the President an official copy of A.O. No. 183 dismissing him from the service.
* The DCA Lock directed Quitan to explain within 10 days from notce why he did not include in his Personal Data Sheet (PDS), which was sworn before a notary public , the administrative cases filed against him and the fact that he was dismissed from service.
* The respondent said that during the administrative case by the NAPOLCOM one of its members suggested to him that he will no longer be persecuted if he tendered his resignation from the NAPOLCOM.
o The Secretary of the DILG accepted the resignation.
* Quitan said that he did not disclose the administrative charge because he was of the honest belief that he had no more pending administrative case by reason of his resignation.
* This did not persuade Administrator Presbitero Velasco and DCA Lock that he should not be held administratively liable. They submitted a Memorandu, to then Chief Justice Davide which read:
o An examination of the PDS submitted by Quitan with the JBC he concealed material facts and even committed perjury in having answered yes to question 24, but without disclosing the fact that he was dismissed from government service.
* Question 24: Have you ever been charged with or convicted of or otherwise imposed a sanction for the violation of any law, decree, ordinance or regulation by any court, tribunal or any other government office, agency or instrumentality in the Philippines or in any foreign country or found guilty of an administrative offense or imposed any administrative sanction?
* In the Mindanao Times quitan said: “I was dismissed from the NAPOLCOM office without due process”
* In the Mindanao Daily Inquirer: Quitan vowed to clear his name.
* The OCA recommended that: (1) the instant administrative case against respondent be docketed as an administrative matter;; and (2) that he be dismissed from the service with prejudice to his reappointment to any position in the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations, and with forfeiture of all retirement benefits except accrued leave credits.
* Quitan contended that before he filed his application for RTC Judge with the JBC, he had no knowledge that he was administratively dismissed from the NAPOLCOM service as the case was “secretly heard and decided.”
* OCA submitted its Memorandum dated stating therein that it was adopting its earlier findings contained in its Memorandum. Based on the documents presented, it can not be denied that at the time Judge Quitain applied as an RTC judge, he had full knowledge of A.O. No. 183 dismissing him from government service.
* W/N Judge Quitan concealed his Administrative Charges and Dismissal in the PDS and filed his application with knowledge of those preceedingly mentioned.
* Judge Quitan did not comply with the requirements that were set by Article VII Section 7(3) of the constitution.
* Judge Quitain failed to disclose that he was administratively charged and dismissed from the service for grave misconduct per A.O. No. 183, 1995 by no less than the former President of the Philippines
* No amount of explanation or justification can erase the fact that Judge Quitan was dismissed from public service and that he deliberately withheld this information.
* Resignation does not warrant the dismissal of the administrative complaint filed against him while he was still in service. Netither does his resignation render the administrative case Moot and Academic.
* Judge Quitain was removed from office after investigation and was found guilty of grave misconduct. His dismissal from the service is a clear proof of his lack of the required qualifications to be a member of the Bench.
WHEREFORE, in view of our finding that JUDGE JAIME V. QUITAIN is guilty of grave misconduct which would have warranted his dismissal from the service had he not resigned during the pendency of this case, he is hereby meted the penalty of a fine of P40,000.00. It appearing that he has yet to apply for his retirement benefits and other privileges, if any, the Court likewise ORDERS the FORFEITURE of all benefits, except earned leave credits which Judge Quitain may be entitled to, and he is PERPETUALLY DISQUALIFIED from reinstatement and appointment to any branch, instrumentality or agency of the government, including government-owned and/or controlled corporations.
This Decision is immediately executory.
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to Judge Jaime V. Quitain’s 201 File.
RODOLFO M. BERNARDO, Complainant, v ATTY. ISMAEL F. MEJIA, Respondent.
Adm. Case No. 2984 August 31, 2007
Before the Court is a petition for review of Administrative Case No. 2984 with plea for reinstatement in the practice of law filed by Ismael F. Mejia (Mejia) who is already seventy-one years old and barred from the practice of law for fifteen years.
The antecedent facts that led to Mejia’s disbarment are as follows.
On January 23, 1987, Rodolfo M. Bernardo, Jr. accused his retained attorney, Ismael F. Mejia, of the following administrative offenses:
1) misappropriating and converting to his personal use:
a) part of the sum of P27,710.00 entrusted to him for payment of real estate taxes on property belonging to Bernardo, situated in a subdivision known as Valle Verde I; and
b) part of another sum of P40,000.00 entrusted to him for payment of taxes and expenses in connection with the registration of title of Bernardo to another property in a subdivision known as Valle Verde V;
2) falsification of certain documents, to wit:
a) a special power of attorney dated March 16, 1985, purportedly executed in his favor by Bernardo (Annex P, par. 51, complainant’s affidavit dates October 4, 1989);
b) a deed of sale dated October 22, 1982 (Annex O, par. 48, id.); and
c) a deed of assignment purportedly executed by the spouses Tomas and Remedios Pastor, in Bernardo’s favor (Annex Q, par. 52, id.);
3) issuing a check, knowing that he was without funds in the bank, in payment of a loan obtained from Bernardo in the amount of P50,000.00, and thereafter, replacing said check with others known also to be insufficiently funded.
On July 29, 1992, the Supreme Court En Banc rendered a Decision Per Curiam, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the Court DECLARES the [sic] respondent, Atty. Ismael F. Mejia, guilty of all the charges against him and hereby imposes on him the penalty of DISBARMENT. Pending finality of this judgment, and effective immediately, Atty. Ismael F. Mejia is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law. Let a copy of this Decision be spread in his record in the Bar Confidant’s Office, and notice thereof furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, as well as the Court Administrator who is DIRECTED to inform all the Courts concerned of this Decision.
On June 1, 1999, Mejia filed a Petition praying that he be allowed to reengage in the practice of law. On July 6, 1999, the Supreme Court En Banc issued a Resolution denying the petition for reinstatement.
On January 23, 2007, Mejia filed the present petition for review of Administrative Case No. 2984 with a plea for reinstatement in the practice of law. No comment or opposition was filed against the petition.
Whether the applicant shall be reinstated in the Roll of Attorneys rests to a great extent on the sound discretion of the Court. The action will depend on whether or not the Court decides that the public interest in the orderly and impartial administration of justice will continue to be preserved even with the applicant’s reentry as a counselor at law. The applicant must, like a candidate for admission to the bar, satisfy the Court that he is a person of good moral character, a fit and proper person to practice law. The Court will take into consideration the applicant’s character and standing prior to the disbarment, the nature and character of the charge/s for which he was disbarred, his conduct subsequent to the disbarment, and the time that has elapsed between the disbarment and the application for reinstatement.
In the petition, Mejia acknowledged his indiscretions in the law profession. Fifteen years had already elapsed since Mejia’s name was dropped from the Roll of Attorneys. At the age of seventy-one, he is begging for forgiveness and pleading for reinstatement. According to him, he has long repented and he has suffered enough. Through his reinstatement, he wants to leave a legacy to his children and redeem the indignity that they have suffered due to his disbarment.
After his disbarment, he put up the Mejia Law Journal, a publication containing his religious and social writings. He also organized a religious organization and named it “El Cristo Movement and Crusade on Miracle of Heart and Mind.”
The Court is inclined to grant the present petition. Fifteen years has passed since Mejia was punished with the severe penalty of disbarment. Although the Court does not lightly take the bases for Mejia’s disbarment, it also cannot close its eyes to the fact that Mejia is already of advanced years. While the age of the petitioner and the length of time during which he has endured the ignominy of disbarment are not the sole measure in allowing a petition for reinstatement, the Court takes cognizance of the rehabilitation of Mejia. Since his disbarment in 1992, no other transgression has been attributed to him, and he has shown remorse. Obviously, he has learned his lesson from this experience, and his punishment has lasted long enough. Thus, while the Court is ever mindful of its duty to discipline its erring officers, it also knows how to show compassion when the penalty imposed has already served its purpose. After all, penalties, such as disbarment, are imposed not to punish but to correct offenders.
We reiterate, however, and remind petitioner that the practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions. Adherence to the rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the highest degree of morality and faithful compliance with the rules of the legal profession are the continuing requirements for enjoying the privilege to practice law.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition for reinstatement in the Roll of Attorneys by Ismael F. Mejia is hereby GRANTED.
Succession to the IBP Presidency
In AC No. 6697, Complainant Zoilo Antonio Velez sought the suspension or
disbarment of Respondent Atty. Leonard de Vera (1) for misrepresentation through
his concealment of the suspension order rendered against him by the State Bar of
California; and (2) for violation of the “rotation rule” enunciated in Administrative
Matter No. 491.
The first ground concerned an administrative case filed against Atty. de Vera
before the State Bar of California. The action arose from an insurance case he had
handled involving Julius Wills III, who had figured in an automobile accident in 1986.
To settle the case amicably, Atty. de Vera received — on his client’s behalf — a $12,000
check, which he then deposited in his personal account. Because of his irregular
deposit of his client’s funds, respondent was suspended from the practice of law for
three years, upon the recommendation of the hearing referee. The case was not
decided on the merits, because Atty. de Vera resigned from the California Bar. Later,
his resignation was accepted by the Supreme Court of California.
On the second ground, complainant averred that respondent’s transfer of
membership from the Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas and Muntinlupa (PPLM) IBP
Chapter to the Agusan del Sur IBP Chapter was a circumvention of the rotation rule.
Allegedly, Atty. de Vera made the transfer for the sole purpose of becoming IBP
national president. Complainant stressed that respondent neither resided in Agusan
del Sur nor held office there.
A companion case, Bar Matter No. 1227, referred to the letter-request of
respondent, asking the Supreme Court to schedule his oath-taking as IBP national
president. On the other hand, AM No. 05-5-15-SC referred to the letter-report of
IBP National President Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz, furnishing the Court with the May 13,
2005, IBP Resolution removing Atty. de Vera from the latter’s positions as IBP board
member and executive vice-president, for committing acts inimical to the board and
the IBP in general.
The controversy in these two consolidated cases started when the IBP board
approved the withdrawal of a Petition docketed at the Supreme Court as “Integrated
Bar of the Philippines et al v. Senate of the Philippines et al. – SC-R165108. Subsequently,
during the plenary session held at the 10th National IBP Convention, respondent
allegedly made some untruthful statements, innuendos, and blatant lies in connection
with the IBP board’s Resolution to withdraw the Petition
On May 12, 2005, IBP Governor Romulo A. Rivera wrote to IBP National
President Cadiz, praying for the removal of the IBP board membership of Atty. de
Vera, who had allegedly committed acts inimical to the board and the IBP in general.
The following day, during its 20th regular meeting, the IBP board resolved by a twothirds
vote to remove respondent from his positions as a member of the board of
governors and as the executive vice-president (EVP) of the IBP.
On June 13, 2005, the IBP board took note of the vacancy in the EVP position,
brought about by the removal of Atty. de Vera. In his stead, IBP Governor Pura
Angelica Y. Santiago was formally elected and declared as EVP.
On June 20, 2005, Atty. Santiago voluntarily relinquished that position. Thus,
on June 25, 2005, during its last regular meeting, the IBP board elected a new EVP in
the person of IBP Governor Jose Vicente B. Salazar.
On June 28, 2005, IBP National President Cadiz requested the Supreme Court’s
approval of Atty. Salazar’s election and assumption of office as national president, in
the event that Atty. de Vera would be disbarred or suspended from the practice of law;
or should his removal from his positions as member of the 2003-2005 board of
governors and as EVP of the IBP be approved by the Court.
Protesting the election of both Atty. Santiago and Atty. Salazar, respondent also
denied having committed acts inimical to the IBP and its board. He maintained that
his removal from his two positions had been done without due notice and due
The issues were as follows:
1. Whether the judgment in AC No. 6052 constituted a bar to the filing of
2. Whether, in the course of his practice of law, Respondent Atty. de Vera
committed malpractice amounting to moral turpitude in the State Bar of California
and in the Philippines
3. Whether on May 13, 2005, the board of governors validly removed
respondent from his positions as governor and EVP of the IBP
4. Whether Governor Salazar was validly elected as EVP on June 25, 2005,
and whether he could consequently assume the presidency of the IBP for the term
The Court’s Ruling
Res Judicata Res Judicata
The Court unanimously held in a per curiam Decision that AC No. 6052 did not
constitute a bar to the filing of AC No. 6697. The two administrative cases involved
different subject matters and causes of action. In AC No. 6052, the subject matter
was the qualification of Atty. de Vera to run for the position of IBP governor for
Eastern Mindanao. In the present Administrative Complaint, the subject matter was
his privilege to practice law.
The two aforementioned cases did not seek the same relief. In the first case, the
complainants sought to prevent respondent from assuming his post as IBP governor
for Eastern Mindanao; the cause of action referred to his alleged violation of IBP
bylaws. In the second case, what was principally sought was his suspension or
disbarment; the primary cause of action was his alleged violation of the Lawyer’s Oath
and the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Moral Turpitude Moral Turpitude
In resolving the second issue, the Court cited Maquera,
 according to which a
judgment of suspension against a Filipino lawyer in a foreign jurisdiction may
transmute into a similar judgment of suspension in the Philippines, only if the basis
of the foreign court’s action included any of the grounds for disbarment or
suspension in our jurisdiction.
The Court opined that by insisting that he was authorized by his client’s father
and attorney-in-fact to use the funds, Atty. de Vera was impliedly admitting his use of
the Willis funds for his own personal use. Undoubtedly, his unauthorized use of his
client’s funds was highly unethical.
Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is emphatic about this
matter. The conduct of Atty. de Vera — holding on to the money of his client without
the latter’s acquiescence — was indicative of lack of integrity and propriety.
It was clear that by depositing the $12,000 check in his own bank account and
using it for his own benefit, respondent was guilty of malpractice, gross misconduct,
and unethical behavior. He violated his oath to conduct himself with all good fidelity
to his client. Nevertheless, the Court decreed that, where any lesser penalty could
accomplish the end desired, disbarment should not be decreed. Considering the
amount involved in this case, the Court considered the penalty of suspension for two
The Court found that the transfer by Atty. de Vera of his membership to the
Agusan del Sur IBP Chapter was within his rights. He could not be deemed to be
guilty of unethical conduct or behavior. Neither the Code of Professional
Responsibility nor the Lawyer’s Oath punished lawyers for aspiring to be the IBP
national president or prohibited them from doing perfectly legal acts in accomplishing
Validity of the Removal Validity of the Removal
The Court ruled that the constitutional provision on due process safeguarded
life, liberty and property. The position of EVP of the IBP, however, was not a
property within the constitutional sense. Further, there was no right to security of
tenure over that position, as all that was required to remove any member of the board
of governors for cause was a resolution adopted by two thirds of the remaining board
Furthermore, in administrative proceedings, the essence of due process was
simply the opportunity to explain one’s side. The cross-examination of witnesses was
not indispensable to due process. Neither was an actual hearing always essential,
especially under the factual milieu of this case. Atty. de Vera’s actuations during the
IBP National Convention in question had been witnessed by all the members of the
board, upon whose shoulders the determination of the cause for removal of an IBP
governor was placed, subject to the approval of the Supreme Court.
Atty. de Vera received a copy of the Complaint against him; indeed, he was
present in the meeting when the matter was taken up. From the transcript of
stenographic notes of the meeting on May 13, 2005, in which he was removed, it was
patent that he had been given a fair opportunity to defend himself against the
accusations of Atty. Rivera.
Under the IBP rules, the expulsion of an IBP governor was done via a
Resolution adopted by two thirds of the remaining members. The phrase “remaining
members” excluded the complainant and the respondent. Of the 7 remaining
members qualified to vote, 5 voted for expulsion, while 2 voted against it. The five
votes still added up to the two thirds vote required for expulsion.
Removal for Cause Removal for Cause
Conflicts and disagreements of varying degrees of intensity are inherent in the
internal life of an organization. Like that of any other organization, however, the
effectiveness of the IBP would be diluted if the conflicts are brought outside its
governing body. The impression would be that the IBP, which speaks through its
board of governors, does not and cannot authoritatively speak for its members. Its
prestige and reputation with lawyers, as well as with the general public, would diminish
Because of the importance of retaining group cohesiveness and unity, no fault
was attributed to the expulsion from the board of Atty. de Vera, who had insisted on
bringing to the public his disagreement with a policy/resolution approved by the
majority after due discussion. The cause for expulsion was legal, because the
effectiveness of the board as a governing body was being lessened.
Validity of Governor Salazar’s Validity of Governor Salazar’s
Election as EVP Election as EVP
The removal of Atty. de Vera from his membership in the board of governors
ipso facto meant also his removal as EVP. The IBP board had shown no grave abuse of
discretion; thus, the Court found no reason to interfere in the resolution to remove
The board had specific and sufficient guidelines in its rules and bylaws on how
to fill the vacancies left by the removal of Atty. de Vera. The 2003-2005 IBP board of
governors’ election of a new EVP, who would assume the presidency for the term
2005-2007, was well within the authority and prerogative granted to the board by the
According to Article VII, specifically Section 47, “[t]he EVP shall automatically
become president for the next succeeding term.” The phrase “for the next succeeding
term” necessarily implied that the EVP who should succeed Atty. Cadiz as IBP
president for the next succeeding term (2005-2007) should come from the members
of the 2003-2005 IBP board of governors. Accordingly, the election of Governor
Santiago, and later of Governor Salazar upon the former’s relinquishment of her EVP
position, was valid.
In Bar Matter 491, the Court said that it was the position of EVP that was
actually rotated among the nine regional governors. The rotation with respect to the
presidency was merely the result of the automatic succession rule of the IBP. Thus,
the rotation rule pertained in particular to the position of EVP; the automatic
succession rule, to the presidency.
Intrinsic to the IBP bylaws was the principle that one who was to assume the
highest position in its hierarchy must have been exposed to the demands and
responsibilities of national leadership. By electing the replacement EVP from among
the members of the 2003-2005 board of governors, the IBP stood to benefit from the
experience of the 2003-2005 EVP, who would have served in a national capacity prior
to the latter’s assumption of the highest position. Therefore, in electing Atty. Salazar
as EVP and thus ensuring a succession in the leadership of the IBP, its board of
governors acted in accordance with its bylaws.