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Resolution

March 18, 1954


In the Matter of the Petitions for Admission to the Bar of Unsuccessful Candidates of
1946
to
1953;
ALBINO CUNANAN, ET AL., petitioners.
In recent years few controversial issues have aroused so much public interest and concern as
Republic Act No. 972, popularly known as the "Bar Flunkers' Act of 1953." Under the Rules of
Court governing admission to the bar, "in order that a candidate (for admission to the Bar) 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 subject." (Rule
127, sec. 14, Rules of Court). Nevertheless, considering the varying difficulties of the different
bar examinations held since 1946 and the varying degree of strictness with which the
examination papers were graded, this court passed and admitted to the bar those candidates
who had obtained an average of only 72 per cent in 1946, 69 per cent in 1947, 70 per cent in
1948, and 74 per cent in 1949. In 1950 to 1953, the 74 per cent was raised to 75 per cent.
Believing themselves as fully qualified to practice law as those reconsidered and passed by this
court, and feeling conscious of having been discriminated against (See Explanatory Note to R.A.
No. 972), unsuccessful candidates who obtained averages of a few percentage lower than those
admitted to the Bar agitated in Congress for, and secured in 1951 the passage of Senate Bill No.
12 which, among others, reduced the passing general average in bar examinations to 70 per
cent effective since 1946. The President requested the views of this court on the bill. Complying
with that request, seven members of the court subscribed to and submitted written comments
adverse thereto, and shortly thereafter the President vetoed it. Congress did not override the
veto. Instead, it approved Senate Bill No. 371, embodying substantially the provisions of the
vetoed bill. Although the members of this court reiterated their unfavorable views on the matter,
the President allowed the bill to become a law on June 21, 1953 without his signature. The law,
which incidentally was enacted in an election year, reads in full as follows:
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 972
AN ACT TO FIX THE PASSING MARKS FOR BAR EXAMINATIONS FROM NINETEEN HUNDRED AND
FORTY-SIX UP TO AND INCLUDING NINETEEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY-FIVE.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress
assembled:
SECTION 1. Notwithstanding the provisions of section fourteen, Rule numbered one hundred
twenty-seven of the Rules of Court, any bar candidate who obtained a general average of
seventy per cent in any bar examinations after July fourth, nineteen hundred and forty-six up to
the August nineteen hundred and fifty-one bar examinations; seventy-one per cent in the
nineteen hundred and fifty-two bar examinations; seventy-two per cent in the in the nineteen
hundred and fifty-three bar examinations; seventy-three per cent in the nineteen hundred and
fifty-four bar examinations; seventy-four per cent in the nineteen hundred and fifty-five bar
examinations without a candidate obtaining a grade below fifty per cent in any subject, shall be
allowed to take and subscribe the corresponding oath of office as member of the Philippine
Bar:Provided, however, That for the purpose of this Act, any exact one-half or more of a fraction,
shall be considered as one and included as part of the next whole number.
SEC. 2. Any bar candidate who obtained a grade of seventy-five per cent in any subject in any
bar examination after July fourth, nineteen hundred and forty-six shall be deemed to have passed
in such subject or subjects and such grade or grades shall be included in computing the passing
general average that said candidate may obtain in any subsequent examinations that he may
take.
SEC. 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
Enacted on June 21, 1953, without the Executive approval.
After its approval, many of the unsuccessful postwar candidates filed petitions for admission to
the bar invoking its provisions, while others whose motions for the revision of their examination
papers were still pending also invoked the aforesaid law as an additional ground for admission.
There are also others who have sought simply the reconsideration of their grades without,
however, invoking the law in question. To avoid injustice to individual petitioners, the court first
reviewed the motions for reconsideration, irrespective of whether or not they had invoked
Republic Act No. 972. Unfortunately, the court has found no reason to revise their grades. If they
are to be admitted to the bar, it must be pursuant to Republic Act No. 972 which, if declared
valid, should be applied equally to all concerned whether they have filed petitions or not. Of the
total 1,168 candidates, 92 have passed in subsequent examination, and only 586 have filed
either motions for admission to the bar pursuant to said Republic Act, or mere motions for
reconsideration.
(2) In addition, some other 10 unsuccessful candidates are to be benefited by section 2 of said
Republic Act. These candidates had each taken from two to five different examinations, but failed
to obtain a passing average in any of them. Consolidating, however, their highest grades in
different subjects in previous examinations, with their latest marks, they would be sufficient to
reach the passing average as provided for by Republic Act No. 972.

(3) The total number of candidates to be benefited by this Republic Acts is therefore 1,094, of
which only 604 have filed petitions. Of these 604 petitioners, 33 who failed in 1946 to 1951 had
individually presented motions for reconsideration which were denied, while 125 unsuccessful
candidates of 1952, and 56 of 1953, had presented similar motions, which are still pending
because they could be favorably affected by Republic Act No. 972, although as has been
already stated, this tribunal finds no sufficient reasons to reconsider their grades
UNCONSTITUTIONALITY OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 972
Having been called upon to enforce a law of far-reaching effects on the practice of the legal
profession and the administration of justice, and because some doubts have been expressed as
to its validity, the court set the hearing of the afore-mentioned petitions for admission on the
sole question of whether or not Republic Act No. 972 is constitutional.
We have been enlightened in the study of this question by the brilliant assistance of the
members of the bar who have amply argued, orally an in writing, on the various aspects in which
the question may be gleaned. The valuable studies of Messrs. E. Voltaire Garcia, Vicente J.
Francisco, Vicente Pelaez and Buenaventura Evangelista, in favor of the validity of the law, and of
the U.P. Women's Lawyers' Circle, the Solicitor General, Messrs. Arturo A. Alafriz, Enrique M.
Fernando, Vicente Abad Santos, Carlos A. Barrios, Vicente del Rosario, Juan de Blancaflor,
Mamerto V. Gonzales, and Roman Ozaeta against it, aside from the memoranda of counsel for
petitioners, Messrs. Jose M. Aruego, M.H. de Joya, Miguel R. Cornejo and Antonio Enrile Inton, and
of petitioners Cabrera, Macasaet and Galema themselves, has greatly helped us in this task. The
legal researchers of the court have exhausted almost all Philippine and American jurisprudence
on the matter. The question has been the object of intense deliberation for a long time by the
Tribunal, and finally, after the voting, the preparation of the majority opinion was assigned to a
new member in order to place it as humanly as possible above all suspicion of prejudice or
partiality.
Republic Act No. 972 has for its object, according to its author, to admit to the Bar, those
candidates who suffered from insufficiency of reading materials and inadequate preparation.
Quoting a portion of the Explanatory Note of the proposed bill, its author Honorable Senator
Pablo Angeles David stated:
The reason for relaxing the standard 75 per cent passing grade is the tremendous handicap
which students during the years immediately after the Japanese occupation has to overcome
such as the insufficiency of reading materials and the inadequacy of the preparation of students
who took up law soon after the liberation.
Of the 9,675 candidates who took the examinations from 1946 to 1952, 5,236 passed. And now it
is claimed that in addition 604 candidates be admitted (which in reality total 1,094), because
they suffered from "insufficiency of reading materials" and of "inadequacy of preparation."
By its declared objective, the law is contrary to public interest because it qualifies 1,094 law
graduates who confessedly had inadequate preparation for the practice of the profession, as was
exactly found by this Tribunal in the aforesaid examinations. The public interest demands of legal
profession adequate preparation and efficiency, precisely more so as legal problem evolved by
the times become more difficult. An adequate legal preparation is one of the vital requisites for
the practice of law that should be developed constantly and maintained firmly. To the legal
profession is entrusted the protection of property, life, honor and civil liberties. To approve
officially of those inadequately prepared individuals to dedicate themselves to such a delicate
mission is to create a serious social danger. Moreover, the statement that there was an
insufficiency of legal reading materials is grossly exaggerated. There were abundant materials.
Decisions of this court alone in mimeographed copies were made available to the public during
those years and private enterprises had also published them in monthly magazines and annual
digests. The Official Gazette had been published continuously. Books and magazines published
abroad have entered without restriction since 1945. Many law books, some even with revised
and enlarged editions have been printed locally during those periods. A new set of Philippine
Reports began to be published since 1946, which continued to be supplemented by the addition
of new volumes. Those are facts of public knowledge.
Notwithstanding all these, if the law in question is valid, it has to be enforced.
The question is not new in its fundamental aspect or from the point of view of applicable
principles, but the resolution of the question would have been easier had an identical case of
similar background been picked out from the jurisprudence we daily consult. Is there any
precedent in the long Anglo-Saxon legal history, from which has been directly derived the judicial
system established here with its lofty ideals by the Congress of the United States, and which we
have preserved and attempted to improve, or in our contemporaneous judicial history of more
than half a century? From the citations of those defending the law, we can not find a case in
which the validity of a similar law had been sustained, while those against its validity cite, among
others, the cases of Day (In re Day, 54 NE 646), of Cannon (State vs. Cannon, 240 NW, 441), the
opinion of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts in 1932 (81 ALR 1061), of Guaria (24 Phil., 37),
aside from the opinion of the President which is expressed in his vote of the original bill and
which the postponement of the contested law respects.

This law has no precedent in its favor. When similar laws in other countries had been
promulgated, the judiciary immediately declared them without force or effect. It is not within our
power to offer a precedent to uphold the disputed law.
To be exact, we ought to state here that we have examined carefully the case that has been
cited to us as a favorable precedent of the law that of Cooper (22 NY, 81), where the Court of
Appeals of New York revoked the decision of the Supreme court of that State, denying the
petition of Cooper to be admitted to the practice of law under the provisions of a statute
concerning the school of law of Columbia College promulgated on April 7, 1860, which was
declared by the Court of Appeals to be consistent with the Constitution of the state of New York.
It appears that the Constitution of New York at that time provided:
They (i.e., the judges) shall not hold any other office of public trust. All votes for either of them
for any elective office except that of the Court of Appeals, given by the Legislature or the people,
shall be void. They shall not exercise any power of appointment to public office. Any male citizen
of the age of twenty-one years, of good moral character, and who possesses the requisite
qualifications of learning and ability, shall be entitled to admission to practice in all the courts of
this State. (p. 93).
According to the Court of Appeals, the object of the constitutional precept is as follows:
Attorneys, solicitors, etc., were public officers; the power of appointing them had previously
rested with the judges, and this was the principal appointing power which they possessed. The
convention was evidently dissatisfied with the manner in which this power had been exercised,
and with the restrictions which the judges had imposed upon admission to practice before them.
The prohibitory clause in the section quoted was aimed directly at this power, and the insertion
of the provision" expecting the admission of attorneys, in this particular section of the
Constitution, evidently arose from its connection with the object of this prohibitory clause. There
is nothing indicative of confidence in the courts or of a disposition to preserve any portion of
their power over this subject, unless the Supreme Court is right in the inference it draws from the
use of the word `admission' in the action referred to. It is urged that the admission spoken of
must be by the court; that to admit means to grant leave, and that the power of granting
necessarily implies the power of refusing, and of course the right of determining whether the
applicant possesses the requisite qualifications to entitle him to admission.
These positions may all be conceded, without affecting the validity of the act. (p. 93.)
Now, with respect to the law of April 7, 1860, the decision seems to indicate that it provided that
the possession of a diploma of the school of law of Columbia College conferring the degree of
Bachelor of Laws was evidence of the legal qualifications that the constitution required of
applicants for admission to the Bar. The decision does not however quote the text of the law,
which we cannot find in any public or accessible private library in the country.
In the case of Cooper, supra, to make the law consistent with the Constitution of New York, the
Court of Appeals said of the object of the law:
The motive for passing the act in question is apparent. Columbia College being an institution of
established reputation, and having a law department under the charge of able professors, the
students in which department were not only subjected to a formal examination by the law
committee of the institution, but to a certain definite period of study before being entitled to a
diploma of being graduates, the Legislature evidently, and no doubt justly, considered this
examination, together with the preliminary study required by the act, as fully equivalent as a test
of legal requirements, to the ordinary examination by the court; and as rendering the latter
examination, to which no definite period of preliminary study was essential, unnecessary and
burdensome.
The act was obviously passed with reference to the learning and ability of the applicant, and for
the mere purpose of substituting the examination by the law committee of the college for that of
the court. It could have had no other object, and hence no greater scope should be given to its
provisions. We cannot suppose that the Legislature designed entirely to dispense with the plain
and explicit requirements of the Constitution; and the act contains nothing whatever to indicate
an intention that the authorities of the college should inquire as to the age, citizenship, etc., of
the students before granting a diploma. The only rational interpretation of which the act admits
is, that it was intended to make the college diploma competent evidence as to the legal
attainments of the applicant, and nothing else. To this extent alone it operates as a modification
of pre-existing statutes, and it is to be read in connection with these statutes and with the
Constitution itself in order to determine the present condition of the law on the subject. (p.89)
The Legislature has not taken from the court its jurisdiction over the question of admission, that
has simply prescribed what shall be competent evidence in certain cases upon that question.
(p.93)
From the foregoing, the complete inapplicability of the case of Cooper with that at bar may be
clearly seen. Please note only the following distinctions:
(1) The law of New York does not require that any candidate of Columbia College who failed in
the bar examinations be admitted to the practice of law.

(2) The law of New York according to the very decision of Cooper, has not taken from the court its
jurisdiction over the question of admission of attorney at law; in effect, it does not decree the
admission of any lawyer.
(3) The Constitution of New York at that time and that of the Philippines are entirely different on
the matter of admission of the practice of law.
In the judicial system from which ours has been evolved, the admission, suspension, disbarment
and reinstatement of attorneys at law in the practice of the profession and their supervision have
been disputably a judicial function and responsibility. Because of this attribute, its continuous and
zealous possession and exercise by the judicial power have been demonstrated during more than
six centuries, which certainly "constitutes the most solid of titles." Even considering the power
granted to Congress by our Constitution to repeal, alter supplement the rules promulgated by
this Court regarding the admission to the practice of law, to our judgment and proposition that
the admission, suspension, disbarment and reinstatement of the attorneys at law is a legislative
function, properly belonging to Congress, is unacceptable. The function requires (1) previously
established rules and principles, (2) concrete facts, whether past or present, affecting
determinate individuals. and (3) decision as to whether these facts are governed by the rules and
principles; in effect, a judicial function of the highest degree. And it becomes more undisputably
judicial, and not legislative, if previous judicial resolutions on the petitions of these same
individuals are attempted to be revoked or modified.
We have said that in the judicial system from which ours has been derived, the act of admitting,
suspending, disbarring and reinstating attorneys at law in the practice of the profession is
concededly judicial. A comprehensive and conscientious study of this matter had been
undertaken in the case of State vs. Cannon (1932) 240 NW 441, in which the validity of a
legislative enactment providing that Cannon be permitted to practice before the courts was
discussed. From the text of this decision we quote the following paragraphs:
This statute presents an assertion of legislative power without parallel in the history of the
English speaking people so far as we have been able to ascertain. There has been much
uncertainty as to the extent of the power of the Legislature to prescribe the ultimate
qualifications of attorney at law has been expressly committed to the courts, and the act of
admission has always been regarded as a judicial function. This act purports to constitute Mr.
Cannon an attorney at law, and in this respect it stands alone as an assertion of legislative
power. (p. 444)
Under the Constitution all legislative power is vested in a Senate and Assembly. (Section 1, art.
4.) In so far as the prescribing of qualifications for admission to the bar are legislative in
character, the Legislature is acting within its constitutional authority when it sets up and
prescribes such qualifications. (p. 444)
But when the Legislature has prescribed those qualifications which in its judgment will serve the
purpose of legitimate legislative solicitude, is the power of the court to impose other and further
exactions and qualifications foreclosed or exhausted? (p. 444)
Under our Constitution the judicial and legislative departments are distinct, independent, and
coordinate branches of the government. Neither branch enjoys all the powers of sovereignty
which properly belongs to its department. Neither department should so act as to embarrass the
other in the discharge of its respective functions. That was the scheme and thought of the people
setting upon the form of government under which we exist. State vs. Hastings, 10 Wis., 525;
Attorney General ex rel. Bashford vs. Barstow, 4 Wis., 567. (p. 445)
The judicial department of government is responsible for the plane upon which the
administration of justice is maintained. Its responsibility in this respect is exclusive. By
committing a portion of the powers of sovereignty to the judicial department of our state
government, under 42a scheme which it was supposed rendered it immune from embarrassment
or interference by any other department of government, the courts cannot escape responsibility
fir the manner in which the powers of sovereignty thus committed to the judicial department are
exercised. (p. 445)
The relation at the bar to the courts is a peculiar and intimate relationship. The bar is an attache
of the courts. The quality of justice dispense by the courts depends in no small degree upon the
integrity of its bar. An unfaithful bar may easily bring scandal and reproach to the administration
of justice and bring the courts themselves into disrepute. (p.445)
Through all time courts have exercised a direct and severe supervision over their bars, at least in
the English speaking countries. (p. 445)
After explaining the history of the case, the Court ends thus:
Our conclusion may be epitomized as follows: For more than six centuries prior to the adoption of
our Constitution, the courts of England, concededly subordinate to Parliament since the
Revolution of 1688, had exercise the right of determining who should be admitted to the practice
of law, which, as was said in Matter of the Sergeant's at Law, 6 Bingham's New Cases 235,
"constitutes the most solid of all titles." If the courts and judicial power be regarded as an entity,
the power to determine who should be admitted to practice law is a constituent element of that
entity. It may be difficult to isolate that element and say with assurance that it is either a part of
the inherent power of the court, or an essential element of the judicial power exercised by the

court, but that it is a power belonging to the judicial entity and made of not only a sovereign
institution, but made of it a separate independent, and coordinate branch of the government.
They took this institution along with the power traditionally exercise to determine who should
constitute its attorney at law. There is no express provision in the Constitution which indicates an
intent that this traditional power of the judicial department should in any manner be subject to
legislative control. Perhaps the dominant thought of the framers of our constitution was to make
the three great departments of government separate and independent of one another. The idea
that the Legislature might embarrass the judicial department by prescribing inadequate
qualifications for attorneys at law is inconsistent with the dominant purpose of making the
judicial independent of the legislative department, and such a purpose should not be inferred in
the absence of express constitutional provisions. While the legislature may legislate with respect
to the qualifications of attorneys, but is incidental merely to its general and unquestioned power
to protect the public interest. When it does legislate a fixing a standard of qualifications required
of attorneys at law in order that public interests may be protected, such qualifications do not
constitute only a minimum standard and limit the class from which the court must make its
selection. Such legislative qualifications do not constitute the ultimate qualifications beyond
which the court cannot go in fixing additional qualifications deemed necessary by the course of
the proper administration of judicial functions. There is no legislative power to compel courts to
admit to their bars persons deemed by them unfit to exercise the prerogatives of an attorney at
law. (p. 450)
Furthermore, it is an unlawful attempt to exercise the power of appointment. It is quite likely true
that the legislature may exercise the power of appointment when it is in pursuance of a
legislative functions. However, the authorities are well-nigh unanimous that the power to admit
attorneys to the practice of law is a judicial function. In all of the states, except New Jersey ( In
re Reisch, 83 N.J. Eq. 82, 90 A. 12), so far as our investigation reveals, attorneys receive their
formal license to practice law by their admission as members of the bar of the court so
admitting. The power of admitting an attorney to practice having been perpetually exercised by
the courts, it having been so generally held that the act of the court in admitting an attorney to
practice is the judgment of the court, and an attempt as this on the part of the Legislature to
confer such right upon any one being most exceedingly uncommon, it seems clear that the
licensing of an attorney is and always has been a purely judicial function, no matter where the
power to determine the qualifications may reside. (p. 451)
In that same year of 1932, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, in answering a consultation of
the Senate of that State, 180 NE 725, said:
It is indispensible to the administration of justice and to interpretation of the laws that there be
members of the bar of sufficient ability, adequate learning and sound moral character. This arises
from the need of enlightened assistance to the honest, and restraining authority over the
knavish, litigant. It is highly important, also that the public be protected from incompetent and
vicious practitioners, whose opportunity for doing mischief is wide. It was said by Cardoz, C.L., in
People ex rel. Karlin vs. Culkin, 242 N.Y. 456, 470, 471, 162 N.E. 487, 489, 60 A.L.R. 851:
"Membership in the bar is a privilege burden with conditions." One is admitted to the bar "for
something more than private gain." He becomes an "officer of the court", and ,like the court
itself, an instrument or agency to advance the end of justice. His cooperation with the court is
due "whenever justice would be imperiled if cooperation was withheld." Without such attorneys
at law the judicial department of government would be hampered in the performance of its
duties. That has been the history of attorneys under the common law, both in this country and
England. Admission to practice as an attorney at law is almost without exception conceded to be
a judicial function. Petition to that end is filed in courts, as are other proceedings invoking judicial
action. Admission to the bar is accomplish and made open and notorious by a decision of the
court entered upon its records. The establishment by the Constitution of the judicial department
conferred authority necessary to the exercise of its powers as a coordinate department of
government. It is an inherent power of such a department of government ultimately to determine
the qualifications of those to be admitted to practice in its courts, for assisting in its work, and to
protect itself in this respect from the unfit, those lacking in sufficient learning, and those not
possessing good moral character. Chief Justice Taney stated succinctly and with finality in Ex
parte Secombe, 19 How. 9, 13, 15 L. Ed. 565, "It has been well settled, by the rules and practice
of common-law courts, that it rests exclusively with the court to determine who is qualified to
become one of its officers, as an attorney and counselor, and for what cause he ought to be
removed." (p.727)
In the case of Day and others who collectively filed a petition to secure license to practice the
legal profession by virtue of a law of state (In re Day, 54 NE 646), the court said in part:
In the case of Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall, 333, 18 L. Ed. 366, the court, holding the test oath for
attorneys to be unconstitutional, explained the nature of the attorney's office as follows: "They
are officers of the court, admitted as such by its order, upon evidence of their possessing
sufficient legal learning and fair private character. It has always been the general practice in this
country to obtain this evidence by an examination of the parties. In this court the fact of the
admission of such officers in the highest court of the states to which they, respectively, belong

for, three years preceding their application, is regarded as sufficient evidence of the possession
of the requisite legal learning, and the statement of counsel moving their admission sufficient
evidence that their private and professional character is fair. The order of admission is the
judgment of the court that the parties possess the requisite qualifications as attorneys and
counselors, and are entitled to appear as such and conduct causes therein. From its entry the
parties become officers of the court, and are responsible to it for professional misconduct. They
hold their office during good behavior, and can only be deprived of it for misconduct ascertained
and declared by the judgment of the court after opportunity to be heard has been afforded. Ex
parte Hoyfron, admission or their exclusion is not the exercise of a mere ministerial power. It is
the exercise of judicial power, and has been so held in numerous cases. It was so held by the
court of appeals of New York in the matter of the application of Cooper for admission. Re Cooper
22 N. Y. 81. "Attorneys and Counselors", said that court, "are not only officers of the court, but
officers whose duties relate almost exclusively to proceedings of a judicial nature; and hence
their appointment may, with propriety, be entrusted to the court, and the latter, in performing
his duty, may very justly considered as engaged in the exercise of their appropriate judicial
functions." (pp. 650-651).
We quote from other cases, the following pertinent portions:
Admission to practice of law is almost without exception conceded everywhere to be the exercise
of a judicial function, and this opinion need not be burdened with citations in this point.
Admission to practice have also been held to be the exercise of one of the inherent powers of the
court. Re Bruen, 102 Wash. 472, 172 Pac. 906.
Admission to the practice of law is the exercise of a judicial function, and is an inherent power of
the court. A.C. Brydonjack, vs. State Bar of California, 281 Pac. 1018; See Annotation on Power
of Legislature respecting admission to bar, 65, A.L. R. 1512.
On this matter there is certainly a clear distinction between the functions of the judicial and
legislative departments of the government.
The distinction between the functions of the legislative and the judicial departments is that it is
the province of the legislature to establish rules that shall regulate and govern in matters of
transactions occurring subsequent to the legislative action, while the judiciary determines rights
and obligations with reference to transactions that are past or conditions that exist at the time of
the exercise of judicial power, and the distinction is a vital one and not subject to alteration or
change either by legislative action or by judicial decree.
The judiciary cannot consent that its province shall be invaded by either of the other
departments of the government. 16 C.J.S., Constitutional Law, p. 229.
If the legislature cannot thus indirectly control the action of the courts by requiring of them
construction of the law according to its own views, it is very plain it cannot do so directly, by
settling aside their judgments, compelling them to grant new trials, ordering the discharge of
offenders, or directing what particular steps shall be taken in the progress of a judicial inquiry.
Cooley's Constitutional Limitations, 192.
In decreeing the bar candidates who obtained in the bar examinations of 1946 to 1952, a general
average of 70 per cent without falling below 50 per cent in any subject, be admitted in mass to
the practice of law, the disputed law is not a legislation; it is a judgment a judgment revoking
those promulgated by this Court during the aforecited year affecting the bar candidates
concerned; and although this Court certainly can revoke these judgments even now, for
justifiable reasons, it is no less certain that only this Court, and not the legislative nor executive
department, that may be so. Any attempt on the part of any of these departments would be a
clear usurpation of its functions, as is the case with the law in question.
That the Constitution has conferred on Congress the power to repeal, alter or supplement the
rule promulgated by this Tribunal, concerning the admission to the practice of law, is no valid
argument. Section 13, article VIII of the Constitution provides:
Section 13. The Supreme Court shall have the power to promulgate rules concerning pleading,
practice, and procedure in all courts, and the admission to the practice of law. Said rules shall be
uniform for all courts of the same grade and shall not diminish, increase or modify substantive
rights. The existing laws on pleading, practice and procedure are hereby repealed as statutes,
and are declared Rules of Court, subject to the power of the Supreme Court to alter and modify
the same. The Congress shall have the power to repeal, alter, or supplement the rules
concerning pleading, practice, and procedure, and the admission to the practice of law in the
Philippines. Constitution of the Philippines, Art. VIII, sec. 13.
It will be noted that the Constitution has not conferred on Congress and this Tribunal equal
responsibilities concerning the admission to the practice of law. the primary power and
responsibility which the Constitution recognizes continue to reside in this Court. Had Congress
found that this Court has not promulgated any rule on the matter, it would have nothing over
which to exercise the power granted to it. Congress may repeal, alter and supplement the rules
promulgated by this Court, but the authority and responsibility over the admission, suspension,
disbarment and reinstatement of attorneys at law and their supervision remain vested in the
Supreme Court. The power to repeal, alter and supplement the rules does not signify nor permit
that Congress substitute or take the place of this Tribunal in the exercise of its primary power on

the matter. The Constitution does not say nor mean that Congress may admit, suspend, disbar or
reinstate directly attorneys at law, or a determinate group of individuals to the practice of law. Its
power is limited to repeal, modify or supplement the existing rules on the matter, if according to
its judgment the need for a better service of the legal profession requires it. But this power does
not relieve this Court of its responsibility to admit, suspend, disbar and reinstate attorneys at law
and supervise the practice of the legal profession.
Being coordinate and independent branches, the power to promulgate and enforce rules for the
admission to the practice of law and the concurrent power to repeal, alter and supplement them
may and should be exercised with the respect that each owes to the other, giving careful
consideration to the responsibility which the nature of each department requires. These powers
have existed together for centuries without diminution on each part; the harmonious delimitation
being found in that the legislature may and should examine if the existing rules on the admission
to the Bar respond to the demands which public interest requires of a Bar endowed with high
virtues, culture, training and responsibility. The legislature may, by means of appeal, amendment
or supplemental rules, fill up any deficiency that it may find, and the judicial power, which has
the inherent responsibility for a good and efficient administration of justice and the supervision of
the practice of the legal profession, should consider these reforms as the minimum standards for
the elevation of the profession, and see to it that with these reforms the lofty objective that is
desired in the exercise of its traditional duty of admitting, suspending, disbarring and reinstating
attorneys at law is realized. They are powers which, exercise within their proper constitutional
limits, are not repugnant, but rather complementary to each other in attaining the establishment
of a Bar that would respond to the increasing and exacting necessities of the administration of
justice.
The case of Guaria (1913) 24 Phil., 37, illustrates our criterion. Guaria took examination and
failed by a few points to obtain the general average. A recently enacted law provided that one
who had been appointed to the position of Fiscal may be admitted to the practice of law without
a previous examination. The Government appointed Guaria and he discharged the duties of
Fiscal in a remote province. This tribunal refused to give his license without previous
examinations. The court said:
Relying upon the provisions of section 2 of Act No. 1597, the applicant in this case seeks
admission to the bar, without taking the prescribed examination, on the ground that he holds the
office of provincial fiscal for the Province of Batanes.
Section 2 of Act No. 1597, enacted February 28, 1907, is as follows:
Sec. 2. Paragraph one of section thirteen of Act Numbered One Hundred and ninety, entitled "An
Act providing a Code of Procedure in Civil Actions and Special Proceedings in the Philippine
Islands," is hereby amended to read as follows:
1. Those who have been duly licensed under the laws and orders of the Islands under the
sovereignty of Spain or of the United States and are in good and regular standing as members of
the bar of the Philippine Islands at the time of the adoption of this code; Provided, That any
person who, prior to the passage of this act, or at any time thereafter, shall have held, under the
authority of the United States, the position of justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of
First Instance, or judge or associate judge of the Court of Land Registration, of the Philippine
Islands, or the position of Attorney General, Solicitor General, Assistant Attorney General,
assistant attorney in the office of the Attorney General, prosecuting attorney for the City of
Manila, city attorney of Manila, assistant city attorney of Manila, provincial fiscal, attorney for the
Moro Province, or assistant attorney for the Moro Province, may be licensed to practice law in the
courts of the Philippine Islands without an examination, upon motion before the Supreme Court
and establishing such fact to the satisfaction of said court.
The records of this court disclose that on a former occasion this appellant took, and failed to pass
the prescribed examination. The report of the examining board, dated March 23, 1907, shows
that he received an average of only 71 per cent in the various branches of legal learning upon
which he was examined, thus falling four points short of the required percentage of 75. We would
be delinquent in the performance of our duty to the public and to the bar, if, in the face of this
affirmative indication of the deficiency of the applicant in the required qualifications of learning
in the law at the time when he presented his former application for admission to the bar, we
should grant him license to practice law in the courts of these Islands, without first satisfying
ourselves that despite his failure to pass the examination on that occasion, he now "possesses
the necessary qualifications of learning and ability."
But it is contented that under the provisions of the above-cited statute the applicant is entitled
as of right to be admitted to the bar without taking the prescribed examination "upon motion
before the Supreme Court" accompanied by satisfactory proof that he has held and now holds
the office of provincial fiscal of the Province of Batanes. It is urged that having in mind the object
which the legislator apparently sought to attain in enacting the above-cited amendment to the
earlier statute, and in view of the context generally and especially of the fact that the
amendment was inserted as a proviso in that section of the original Act which specifically
provides for the admission of certain candidates without examination. It is contented that this

mandatory construction is imperatively required in order to give effect to the apparent intention
of the legislator, and to the candidate's claim de jure to have the power exercised.
And after copying article 9 of Act of July 1, 1902 of the Congress of the United States, articles 2,
16 and 17 of Act No. 136, and articles 13 to 16 of Act 190, the Court continued:
Manifestly, the jurisdiction thus conferred upon this court by the commission and confirmed to it
by the Act of Congress would be limited and restricted, and in a case such as that under
consideration wholly destroyed, by giving the word "may," as used in the above citation from Act
of Congress of July 1, 1902, or of any Act of Congress prescribing, defining or limiting the power
conferred upon the commission is to that extent invalid and void, as transcending its rightful
limits and authority.
Speaking on the application of the law to those who were appointed to the positions enumerated,
and with particular emphasis in the case of Guaria, the Court held:
In the various cases wherein applications for the admission to the bar under the provisions of this
statute have been considered heretofore, we have accepted the fact that such appointments had
been made as satisfactory evidence of the qualifications of the applicant. But in all of those
cases we had reason to believe that the applicants had been practicing attorneys prior to the
date of their appointment.
In the case under consideration, however, it affirmatively appears that the applicant was not and
never had been practicing attorney in this or any other jurisdiction prior to the date of his
appointment as provincial fiscal, and it further affirmatively appears that he was deficient in the
required qualifications at the time when he last applied for admission to the bar.
In the light of this affirmative proof of his defieciency on that occasion, we do not think that his
appointment to the office of provincial fiscal is in itself satisfactory proof if his possession of the
necessary qualifications of learning and ability. We conclude therefore that this application for
license to practice in the courts of the Philippines, should be denied.
In view, however, of the fact that when he took the examination he fell only four points short of
the necessary grade to entitle him to a license to practice; and in view also of the fact that since
that time he has held the responsible office of the governor of the Province of Sorsogon and
presumably gave evidence of such marked ability in the performance of the duties of that office
that the Chief Executive, with the consent and approval of the Philippine Commission, sought to
retain him in the Government service by appointing him to the office of provincial fiscal, we think
we would be justified under the above-cited provisions of Act No. 1597 in waiving in his case the
ordinary examination prescribed by general rule, provided he offers satisfactory evidence of his
proficiency in a special examination which will be given him by a committee of the court upon his
application therefor, without prejudice to his right, if he desires so to do, to present himself at
any of the ordinary examinations prescribed by general rule. (In re Guaria, pp. 48-49.)
It is obvious, therefore, that the ultimate power to grant license for the practice of law belongs
exclusively to this Court, and the law passed by Congress on the matter is of permissive
character, or as other authorities say, merely to fix the minimum conditions for the license.
The law in question, like those in the case of Day and Cannon, has been found also to suffer from
the fatal defect of being a class legislation, and that if it has intended to make a classification, it
is arbitrary and unreasonable.
In the case of Day, a law enacted on February 21, 1899 required of the Supreme Court, until
December 31 of that year, to grant license for the practice of law to those students who began
studying before November 4, 1897, and had studied for two years and presented a diploma
issued by a school of law, or to those who had studied in a law office and would pass an
examination, or to those who had studied for three years if they commenced their studies after
the aforementioned date. The Supreme Court declared that this law was unconstitutional being,
among others, a class legislation. The Court said:
This is an application to this court for admission to the bar of this state by virtue of diplomas
from law schools issued to the applicants. The act of the general assembly passed in 1899, under
which the application is made, is entitled "An act to amend section 1 of an act entitled "An act to
revise the law in relation to attorneys and counselors," approved March 28, 1884, in force July 1,
1874." The amendment, so far as it appears in the enacting clause, consists in the addition to
the section of the following: "And every application for a license who shall comply with the rules
of the supreme court in regard to admission to the bar in force at the time such applicant
commend the study of law, either in a law or office or a law school or college, shall be granted a
license under this act notwithstanding any subsequent changes in said rules". In re Day et al,
54 N.Y., p. 646.
. . . After said provision there is a double proviso, one branch of which is that up to December 31,
1899, this court shall grant a license of admittance to the bar to the holder of every diploma
regularly issued by any law school regularly organized under the laws of this state, whose regular
course of law studies is two years, and requiring an attendance by the student of at least 36
weeks in each of such years, and showing that the student began the study of law prior to
November 4, 1897, and accompanied with the usual proofs of good moral character. The other
branch of the proviso is that any student who has studied law for two years in a law office, or
part of such time in a law office, "and part in the aforesaid law school," and whose course of

study began prior to November 4, 1897, shall be admitted upon a satisfactory examination by
the examining board in the branches now required by the rules of this court. If the right to
admission exists at all, it is by virtue of the proviso, which, it is claimed, confers substantial
rights and privileges upon the persons named therein, and establishes rules of legislative
creation for their admission to the bar. (p. 647.)
Considering the proviso, however, as an enactment, it is clearly a special legislation, prohibited
by the constitution, and invalid as such. If the legislature had any right to admit attorneys to
practice in the courts and take part in the administration of justice, and could prescribe the
character of evidence which should be received by the court as conclusive of the requisite
learning and ability of persons to practice law, it could only be done by a general law, persons or
classes of persons. Const. art 4, section 2. The right to practice law is a privilege, and a license
for that purpose makes the holder an officer of the court, and confers upon him the right to
appear for litigants, to argue causes, and to collect fees therefor, and creates certain
exemptions, such as from jury services and arrest on civil process while attending court. The law
conferring such privileges must be general in its operation. No doubt the legislature, in framing
an enactment for that purpose, may classify persons so long as the law establishing classes in
general, and has some reasonable relation to the end sought. There must be some difference
which furnishes a reasonable basis for different one, having no just relation to the subject of the
legislation. Braceville Coal Co. vs. People, 147 Ill. 66, 35 N.E. 62; Ritchie vs. People, 155 Ill. 98, 40
N.E. 454; Railroad Co. vs. Ellis, 165 U.S. 150, 17 Sup. Ct. 255.
The length of time a physician has practiced, and the skill acquired by experience, may furnish a
basis for classification (Williams vs. People 121 Ill. 48, II N.E. 881); but the place where such
physician has resided and practiced his profession cannot furnish such basis, and is an arbitrary
discrimination, making an enactment based upon it void (State vs. Pennyeor, 65 N.E. 113, 18 Atl.
878). Here the legislature undertakes to say what shall serve as a test of fitness for the
profession of the law, and plainly, any classification must have some reference to learning,
character, or ability to engage in such practice. The proviso is limited, first, to a class of persons
who began the study of law prior to November 4, 1897. This class is subdivided into two classes
First, those presenting diplomas issued by any law school of this state before December 31,
1899; and, second, those who studied law for the period of two years in a law office, or part of
the time in a law school and part in a law office, who are to be admitted upon examination in the
subjects specified in the present rules of this court, and as to this latter subdivision there seems
to be no limit of time for making application for admission. As to both classes, the conditions of
the rules are dispensed with, and as between the two different conditions and limits of time are
fixed. No course of study is prescribed for the law school, but a diploma granted upon the
completion of any sort of course its managers may prescribe is made all-sufficient. Can there be
anything with relation to the qualifications or fitness of persons to practice law resting upon the
mere date of November 4, 1897, which will furnish a basis of classification. Plainly not. Those
who began the study of law November 4th could qualify themselves to practice in two years as
well as those who began on the 3rd. The classes named in the proviso need spend only two years
in study, while those who commenced the next day must spend three years, although they would
complete two years before the time limit. The one who commenced on the 3rd. If possessed of a
diploma, is to be admitted without examination before December 31, 1899, and without any
prescribed course of study, while as to the other the prescribed course must be pursued, and the
diploma is utterly useless. Such classification cannot rest upon any natural reason, or bear any
just relation to the subject sought, and none is suggested. The proviso is for the sole purpose of
bestowing privileges upon certain defined persons. (pp. 647-648.)
In the case of Cannon above cited, State vs. Cannon, 240 N.W. 441, where the legislature
attempted by law to reinstate Cannon to the practice of law, the court also held with regards to
its aspect of being a class legislation:
But the statute is invalid for another reason. If it be granted that the legislature has power to
prescribe ultimately and definitely the qualifications upon which courts must admit and license
those applying as attorneys at law, that power can not be exercised in the manner here
attempted. That power must be exercised through general laws which will apply to all alike and
accord equal opportunity to all. Speaking of the right of the Legislature to exact qualifications of
those desiring to pursue chosen callings, Mr. Justice Field in the case of Dent. vs. West
Virginia, 129 U.S. 114, 121, 9 S. Ct. 232, 233, 32 L. Ed. 626, said: "It is undoubtedly the right of
every citizen of the United States to follow any lawful calling, business or profession he may
choose, subject only to such restrictions as are imposed upon all persons of like age, sex, and
condition." This right may in many respects be considered as a distinguishing feature of our
republican institutions. Here all vocations are all open to every one on like conditions. All may be
pursued as sources of livelihood, some requiring years of study and great learning for their
successful prosecution. The interest, or, as it is sometimes termed, the "estate" acquired in them
that is, the right to continue their prosecution is often of great value to the possessors and
cannot be arbitrarily taken from them, any more than their real or personal property can be thus
taken. It is fundamental under our system of government that all similarly situated and
possessing equal qualifications shall enjoy equal opportunities. Even statutes regulating the

practice of medicine, requiring medications to establish the possession on the part of the
application of his proper qualifications before he may be licensed to practice, have been
challenged, and courts have seriously considered whether the exemption from such
examinations of those practicing in the state at the time of the enactment of the law rendered
such law unconstitutional because of infringement upon this general principle. State vs. Thomas
Call, 121 N.C. 643, 28 S.E. 517; see, also, The State ex rel. Winkler vs. Rosenberg, 101 Wis. 172,
76 N.W. 345; State vs. Whitcom, 122 Wis. 110, 99 N.W. 468.
This law singles out Mr. Cannon and assumes to confer upon him the right to practice law and to
constitute him an officer of this Court as a mere matter of legislative grace or favor. It is not
material that he had once established his right to practice law and that one time he possessed
the requisite learning and other qualifications to entitle him to that right. That fact in no matter
affect the power of the Legislature to select from the great body of the public an individual upon
whom it would confer its favors.
A statute of the state of Minnesota (Laws 1929, c. 424) commanded the Supreme Court to admit
to the practice of law without examination, all who had served in the military or naval forces of
the United States during the World War and received a honorable discharge therefrom and who
(were disabled therein or thereby within the purview of the Act of Congress approved June 7th,
1924, known as "World War Veteran's Act, 1924 and whose disability is rated at least ten per cent
thereunder at the time of the passage of this Act." This Act was held |unconstitutional on the
ground that it clearly violated the quality clauses of the constitution of that state. In
re Application of George W. Humphrey, 178 Minn. 331, 227 N.W. 179.
A good summary of a classification constitutionally acceptable is explained in 12 Am. Jur. 151153 as follows:
The general rule is well settled by unanimity of the authorities that a classification to be valid
must rest upon material differences between the person included in it and those excluded and,
furthermore, must be based upon substantial distinctions. As the rule has sometimes avoided the
constitutional prohibition, must be founded upon pertinent and real differences, as distinguished
from irrelevant and artificial ones. Therefore, any law that is made applicable to one class of
citizens only must be based on some substantial difference between the situation of that class
and other individuals to which it does not apply and must rest on some reason on which it can be
defended. In other words, there must be such a difference between the situation and
circumstances of all the members of the class and the situation and circumstances of all other
members of the state in relation to the subjects of the discriminatory legislation as presents a
just and natural cause for the difference made in their liabilities and burdens and in their rights
and privileges. A law is not general because it operates on all within a clause unless there is a
substantial reason why it is made to operate on that class only, and not generally on all. (12 Am.
Jur. pp. 151-153.)
Pursuant to the law in question, those who, without a grade below 50 per cent in any subject,
have obtained a general average of 69.5 per cent in the bar examinations in 1946 to 1951, 70.5
per cent in 1952, 71.5 per cent in 1953, and those will obtain 72.5 per cent in 1954, and 73.5 per
cent in 1955, will be permitted to take and subscribe the corresponding oath of office as
members of the Bar, notwithstanding that the rules require a minimum general average of 75
per cent, which has been invariably followed since 1950. Is there any motive of the nature
indicated by the abovementioned authorities, for this classification ? If there is none, and none
has been given, then the classification is fatally defective.
It was indicated that those who failed in 1944, 1941 or the years before, with the general
average indicated, were not included because the Tribunal has no record of the unsuccessful
candidates of those years. This fact does not justify the unexplained classification of
unsuccessful candidates by years, from 1946-1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955. Neither is the
exclusion of those who failed before said years under the same conditions justified. The fact that
this Court has no record of examinations prior to 1946 does not signify that no one concerned
may prove by some other means his right to an equal consideration.
To defend the disputed law from being declared unconstitutional on account of its retroactivity, it
is argued that it is curative, and that in such form it is constitutional. What does Rep. Act 972
intend to cure ? Only from 1946 to 1949 were there cases in which the Tribunal permitted
admission to the bar of candidates who did not obtain the general average of 75 per cent: in
1946 those who obtained only 72 per cent; in the 1947 and those who had 69 per cent or more;
in 1948, 70 per cent and in 1949, 74 per cent; and in 1950 to 1953, those who obtained 74 per
cent, which was considered by the Court as equivalent to 75 per cent as prescribed by the Rules,
by reason of circumstances deemed to be sufficiently justifiable. These changes in the passing
averages during those years were all that could be objected to or criticized. Now, it is desired to
undo what had been done cancel the license that was issued to those who did not obtain the
prescribed 75 per cent ? Certainly not. The disputed law clearly does not propose to do so.
Concededly, it approves what has been done by this Tribunal. What Congress lamented is that
the Court did not consider 69.5 per cent obtained by those candidates who failed in 1946 to 1952
as sufficient to qualify them to practice law. Hence, it is the lack of will or defect of judgment of
the Court that is being cured, and to complete the cure of this infirmity, the effectivity of the

disputed law is being extended up to the years 1953, 1954 and 1955, increasing each year the
general average by one per cent, with the order that said candidates be admitted to the Bar. This
purpose, manifest in the said law, is the best proof that what the law attempts to amend and
correct are not the rules promulgated, but the will or judgment of the Court, by means of simply
taking its place. This is doing directly what the Tribunal should have done during those years
according to the judgment of Congress. In other words, the power exercised was not to repeal,
alter or supplement the rules, which continue in force. What was done was to stop or suspend
them. And this power is not included in what the Constitution has granted to Congress, because
it falls within the power to apply the rules. This power corresponds to the judiciary, to which such
duty been confided.
Article 2 of the law in question permits partial passing of examinations, at indefinite intervals.
The grave defect of this system is that it does not take into account that the laws and
jurisprudence are not stationary, and when a candidate finally receives his certificate, it may
happen that the existing laws and jurisprudence are already different, seriously affecting in this
manner his usefulness. The system that the said law prescribes was used in the first bar
examinations of this country, but was abandoned for this and other disadvantages. In this case,
however, the fatal defect is that the article is not expressed in the title will have temporary effect
only from 1946 to 1955, the text of article 2 establishes a permanent system for an indefinite
time. This is contrary to Section 21 (1), article VI of the Constitution, which vitiates and annuls
article 2 completely; and because it is inseparable from article 1, it is obvious that its nullity
affect the entire law.
Laws are unconstitutional on the following grounds: first, because they are not within the
legislative powers of Congress to enact, or Congress has exceeded its powers; second, because
they create or establish arbitrary methods or forms that infringe constitutional principles; and
third, because their purposes or effects violate the Constitution or its basic principles. As has
already been seen, the contested law suffers from these fatal defects.
Summarizing, we are of the opinion and hereby declare that Republic Act No. 972 is
unconstitutional and therefore, void, and without any force nor effect for the following reasons, to
wit:
1. Because its declared purpose is to admit 810 candidates who failed in the bar examinations of
1946-1952, and who, it admits, are certainly inadequately prepared to practice law, as was
exactly found by this Court in the aforesaid years. It decrees the admission to the Bar of these
candidates, depriving this Tribunal of the opportunity to determine if they are at present already
prepared to become members of the Bar. It obliges the Tribunal to perform something contrary to
reason and in an arbitrary manner. This is a manifest encroachment on the constitutional
responsibility of the Supreme Court.
2. Because it is, in effect, a judgment revoking the resolution of this Court on the petitions of
these 810 candidates, without having examined their respective examination papers, and
although it is admitted that this Tribunal may reconsider said resolution at any time for justifiable
reasons, only this Court and no other may revise and alter them. In attempting to do it directly
Republic Act No. 972 violated the Constitution.
3. By the disputed law, Congress has exceeded its legislative power to repeal, alter and
supplement the rules on admission to the Bar. Such additional or amendatory rules are, as they
ought to be, intended to regulate acts subsequent to its promulgation and should tend to
improve and elevate the practice of law, and this Tribunal shall consider these rules as minimum
norms towards that end in the admission, suspension, disbarment and reinstatement of lawyers
to the Bar, inasmuch as a good bar assists immensely in the daily performance of judicial
functions and is essential to a worthy administration of justice. It is therefore the primary and
inherent prerogative of the Supreme Court to render the ultimate decision on who may be
admitted and may continue in the practice of law according to existing rules.
4. The reason advanced for the pretended classification of candidates, which the law makes, is
contrary to facts which are of general knowledge and does not justify the admission to the Bar of
law students inadequately prepared. The pretended classification is arbitrary. It is undoubtedly a
class legislation.
5. Article 2 of Republic Act No. 972 is not embraced in the title of the law, contrary to what the
Constitution enjoins, and being inseparable from the provisions of article 1, the entire law is void.
6. Lacking in eight votes to declare the nullity of that part of article 1 referring to the
examinations of 1953 to 1955, said part of article 1, insofar as it concerns the examinations in
those years, shall continue in force.
RESOLUTION
Upon mature deliberation by this Court, after hearing and availing of the magnificent and
impassioned discussion of the contested law by our Chief Justice at the opening and close of the
debate among the members of the Court, and after hearing the judicious observations of two of
our beloved colleagues who since the beginning have announced their decision not to take part
in voting, we, the eight members of the Court who subscribed to this decision have voted and
resolved, and have decided for the Court, and under the authority of the same:

1. That (a) the portion of article 1 of Republic Act No. 972 referring to the examinations of 1946
to 1952, and (b) all of article 2 of said law are unconstitutional and, therefore, void and without
force and effect.
2. That, for lack of unanimity in the eight Justices, that part of article 1 which refers to the
examinations subsequent to the approval of the law, that is from 1953 to 1955 inclusive, is valid
and shall continue to be in force, in conformity with section 10, article VII of the Constitution.
Consequently, (1) all the above-mentioned petitions of the candidates who failed in the
examinations of 1946 to 1952 inclusive are denied, and (2) all candidates who in the
examinations of 1953 obtained a general average of 71.5 per cent or more, without having a
grade below 50 per cent in any subject, are considered as having passed, whether they have
filed petitions for admission or not. After this decision has become final, they shall be permitted
to take and subscribe the corresponding oath of office as members of the Bar on the date or
dates that the chief Justice may set. So ordered.

G.R. No. 100113 September 3, 1991


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.
We are faced here with a controversy of far-reaching proportions. While ostensibly only legal
issues are involved, the Court's decision in this case would indubitably have a profound effect on
the political aspect of our national existence.
The 1987 Constitution provides in Section 1 (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. (Emphasis supplied)
The aforequoted provision is patterned after Section l(l), Article XII-C of the 1973 Constitution
which similarly provides:
There shall be an independent Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and eight
Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of their
appointment, at least thirty-five years of age and holders of a college degree. 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.' (Emphasis supplied)
Regrettably, however, there seems to be no jurisprudence as to what constitutes practice of law
as a legal qualification to an appointive office.
Black defines "practice of law" as:
The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the application of legal principles and
technique to serve the interest of another with his consent. It is not limited to appearing in court,
or advising and assisting in the conduct of litigation, but embraces the preparation of pleadings,
and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, conveyancing, the preparation of
legal instruments of all kinds, and the giving of all legal advice to clients. It embraces all advice
to clients and all actions taken for them in matters connected with the law. An attorney engages
in the practice of law by maintaining an office where he is held out to be-an attorney, using a
letterhead describing himself as an attorney, counseling clients in legal matters, negotiating with
opposing counsel about pending litigation, and fixing and collecting fees for services rendered by
his associate. (Black's Law Dictionary, 3rd ed.)
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. ( Land Title Abstract and Trust
Co. v. Dworken,129 Ohio St. 23, 193 N.E. 650) 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 and
there, in such representative capacity performs any act or acts for the purpose of obtaining or
defending the rights of their clients under the law. 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. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v..C.S. Dudley and Co., 102 S.W. 2d 895, 340 Mo.
852)
This Court in the case of Philippine Lawyers Association v.Agrava, (105 Phil. 173,176-177) stated:
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in court; it embraces the
preparation of pleadings and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, the
management of such actions and proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and
in addition, conveying. In general, all advice to clients, and all action taken for them in
mattersconnected with the law incorporation services, assessment and condemnation services
contemplating an appearance before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a 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,
as do the preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the work done involves the
determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect of facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jr. p.
262, 263). (Emphasis supplied)
Practice of law under modem conditions consists in no small part of work performed outside of
any court and having no immediate relation to proceedings in court. It embraces conveyancing,
the giving of legal advice on a large variety of subjects, and the preparation and execution of
legal instruments covering an extensive field of business and trust relations and other
affairs. Although these transactions may have no direct connection with court proceedings, they
are always subject to become involved in litigation. They require in many aspects a high degree
of legal skill, a wide experience with men and affairs, and great capacity for adaptation to
difficult and complex situations. These customary functions of an attorney or counselor at law
bear an intimate relation to the administration of justice by the courts. No valid distinction, so far
as concerns the question set forth in the order, can be drawn between that part of the work of
the lawyer which involves appearance in court and that part which involves advice and drafting
of instruments in his office. It is of importance to the welfare of the public that these manifold
customary functions be performed by persons possessed of adequate learning and skill, of sound
moral character, and acting at all times under the heavy trust obligations to clients which rests
upon all attorneys. (Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, Vol. 3 [1953 ed.] , p. 665-666,
citing In re Opinion of the Justices [Mass.], 194 N.E. 313, quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. v.
Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.] 179 A. 139,144). (Emphasis ours)
The University of the Philippines Law Center in conducting orientation briefing for new lawyers
(1974-1975) listed the dimensions of the practice of law in even broader terms as advocacy,
counselling and public service.
One may be a practicing attorney in following any line of employment in the profession. If what
he does exacts knowledge of the law and is of a kind usual for attorneys engaging in the active
practice of their profession, and he follows some one or more lines of employment such as this
he is a practicing attorney at law within the meaning of the statute. (Barr v. Cardell, 155 NW 312)
Practice of law means any activity, in or out of 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." (111 ALR 23)
Section 1(1), Article IX-D of the 1987 Constitution, provides, among others, that the Chairman
and two Commissioners of the Commission on Audit (COA) should either be certified public
accountants with not less than ten years of auditing practice, or members of the Philippine Bar
who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. (emphasis supplied)

Corollary to this is the term "private practitioner" and which is in many ways synonymous with
the word "lawyer." Today, although many lawyers do not engage in private practice, it is still a
fact that the majority of lawyers are private practitioners. (Gary Munneke, Opportunities in Law
Careers [VGM Career Horizons: Illinois], [1986], p. 15).
At this point, it might be helpful to define private practice. The term, as commonly understood,
means "an individual or organization engaged in the business of delivering legal services." (Ibid.).
Lawyers who practice alone are often called "sole practitioners." Groups of lawyers are called
"firms." The firm is usually a partnership and members of the firm are the partners. Some firms
may be organized as professional corporations and the members called shareholders. In either
case, the members of the firm are the experienced attorneys. In most firms, there are younger or
more inexperienced salaried attorneyscalled "associates." (Ibid.).
The test that defines law practice by looking to traditional areas of law practice is essentially
tautologous, unhelpful defining the practice of law as that which lawyers do. (Charles W.
Wolfram, Modern Legal Ethics [West Publishing Co.: Minnesota, 1986], p. 593). The practice of
law is defined as the performance of any acts . . . in or out of court, commonly understood to be
the practice of law. (State Bar Ass'n v. Connecticut Bank & Trust Co., 145 Conn. 222, 140 A.2d
863, 870 [1958] [quoting Grievance Comm. v. Payne, 128 Conn. 325, 22 A.2d 623, 626 [1941]).
Because lawyers perform almost every function known in the commercial and governmental
realm, such a definition would obviously be too global to be workable.(Wolfram, op. cit.).
The appearance of a lawyer in litigation in behalf of a client is at once the most publicly familiar
role for lawyers as well as an uncommon role for the average lawyer. Most lawyers spend little
time in courtrooms, and a large percentage spend their entire practice without litigating a case.
(Ibid., p. 593). Nonetheless, many lawyers do continue to litigate and the litigating lawyer's role
colors much of both the public image and the self perception of the legal profession. (Ibid.).
In this regard thus, the dominance of litigation in the public mind reflects history, not reality.
(Ibid.). Why is this so? Recall that the late Alexander SyCip, a corporate lawyer, once articulated
on the importance of a lawyer as a business counselor in this wise: "Even today, there are still
uninformed laymen whose concept of an attorney is one who principally tries cases before the
courts. The members of the bench and bar and the informed laymen such as businessmen, know
that in most developed societies today, substantially more legal work is transacted in law offices
than in the courtrooms. General practitioners of law who do both litigation and non-litigation
work also know that in most cases they find themselves spending more time doing what [is]
loosely desccribe[d] as business counseling than in trying cases. The business lawyer has been
described as the planner, the diagnostician and the trial lawyer, the surgeon. I[t] need not [be]
stress[ed] that in law, as in medicine, surgery should be avoided where internal medicine can be
effective." (Business Star, "Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
In the course of a working day the average general practitioner wig engage in a number of legal
tasks, each involving different legal doctrines, legal skills, legal processes, legal institutions,
clients, and other interested parties. Even the increasing numbers of lawyers in specialized
practice wig usually perform at least some legal services outside their specialty. And even within
a narrow specialty such as tax practice, a lawyer will shift from one legal task or role such as
advice-giving to an importantly different one such as representing a client before an
administrative agency. (Wolfram, supra, p. 687).
By no means will most of this work involve litigation, unless the lawyer is one of the relatively
rare types a litigator who specializes in this work to the exclusion of much else. Instead, the
work will require the lawyer to have mastered the full range of traditional lawyer skills of client
counselling, advice-giving, document drafting, and negotiation. And increasingly lawyers find
that the new skills of evaluation and mediation are both effective for many clients and a source
of employment. (Ibid.).
Most lawyers will engage in non-litigation legal work or in litigation work that is constrained in
very important ways, at least theoretically, so as to remove from it some of the salient features
of adversarial litigation. Of these special roles, the most prominent is that of prosecutor. In some
lawyers' work the constraints are imposed both by the nature of the client and by the way in
which the lawyer is organized into a social unit to perform that work. The most common of these
roles are those of corporate practice and government legal service. (Ibid.).

In several issues of the Business Star, a business daily, herein below quoted are emerging trends
in corporate law practice, a departure from the traditional concept of practice of law.
We are experiencing today what truly may be called a revolutionary transformation in corporate
law practice. Lawyers and other professional groups, in particular those members participating in
various legal-policy decisional contexts, are finding that understanding the major emerging
trends in corporation law is indispensable to intelligent decision-making.
Constructive adjustment to major corporate problems of today requires an accurate
understanding of the nature and implications of the corporate law research function
accompanied by an accelerating rate of information accumulation. The recognition of the need
for such improved corporate legal policy formulation, particularly "model-making" and
"contingency planning," has impressed upon us the inadequacy of traditional procedures in many
decisional contexts.
In a complex legal problem the mass of information to be processed, the sorting and weighing of
significant conditional factors, the appraisal of major trends, the necessity of estimating the
consequences of given courses of action, and the need for fast decision and response in
situations of acute danger have prompted the use of sophisticated concepts of information flow
theory, operational analysis, automatic data processing, and electronic computing equipment.
Understandably, an improved decisional structure must stress the predictive component of the
policy-making process, wherein a "model", of the decisional context or a segment thereof is
developed to test projected alternative courses of action in terms of futuristic effects flowing
therefrom.
Although members of the legal profession are regularly engaged in predicting and projecting the
trends of the law, the subject of corporate finance law has received relatively little organized and
formalized attention in the philosophy of advancing corporate legal education. Nonetheless, a
cross-disciplinary approach to legal research has become a vital necessity.
Certainly, the general orientation for productive contributions by those trained primarily in the
law can be improved through an early introduction to multi-variable decisional context and the
various approaches for handling such problems. Lawyers, particularly with either a master's or
doctorate degree in business administration or management, functioning at the legal policy level
of decision-making now have some appreciation for the concepts and analytical techniques of
other professions which are currently engaged in similar types of complex decision-making.
Truth to tell, many situations involving corporate finance problems would require the services of
an astute attorney because of the complex legal implications that arise from each and every
necessary step in securing and maintaining the business issue raised. (Business Star, "Corporate
Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
In our litigation-prone country, a corporate lawyer is assiduously referred to as the "abogado de
campanilla." He is the "big-time" lawyer, earning big money and with a clientele composed of the
tycoons and magnates of business and industry.
Despite the growing number of corporate lawyers, many people could not explain what it is that
a corporate lawyer does. For one, the number of attorneys employed by a single corporation will
vary with the size and type of the corporation. Many smaller and some large corporations farm
out all their legal problems to private law firms. Many others have in-house counsel only for
certain matters. Other corporation have a staff large enough to handle most legal problems inhouse.
A corporate lawyer, for all intents and purposes, is a lawyer who handles the legal affairs of a
corporation. His areas of concern or jurisdiction may include, inter alia: corporate legal research,
tax laws research, acting out as corporate secretary (in board meetings), appearances in both
courts and other adjudicatory agencies (including the Securities and Exchange Commission), and
in other capacities which require an ability to deal with the law.
At any rate, a corporate lawyer may assume responsibilities other than the legal affairs of the
business of the corporation he is representing. These include such matters as determining policy
and becoming involved in management. ( Emphasis supplied.)

In a big company, for example, one may have a feeling of being isolated from the action, or not
understanding how one's work actually fits into the work of the orgarnization. This can be
frustrating to someone who needs to see the results of his work first hand. In short, a corporate
lawyer is sometimes offered this fortune to be more closely involved in the running of the
business.
Moreover, a corporate lawyer's services may sometimes be engaged by a multinational
corporation (MNC). Some large MNCs provide one of the few opportunities available to corporate
lawyers to enter the international law field. After all, international law is practiced in a relatively
small number of companies and law firms. Because working in a foreign country is perceived by
many as glamorous, tills is an area coveted by corporate lawyers. In most cases, however, the
overseas jobs go to experienced attorneys while the younger attorneys do their "international
practice" in law libraries. (Business Star, "Corporate Law Practice," May 25,1990, p. 4).
This brings us to the inevitable, i.e., the role of the lawyer in the realm of finance. To borrow the
lines of Harvard-educated lawyer Bruce Wassertein, to wit: "A bad lawyer is one who fails to spot
problems, a good lawyer is one who perceives the difficulties, and the excellent lawyer is one
who surmounts them." (Business Star, "Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
Today, the study of corporate law practice direly needs a "shot in the arm," so to speak. No
longer are we talking of the traditional law teaching method of confining the subject study to the
Corporation Code and the Securities Code but an incursion as well into the intertwining modern
management issues.
Such corporate legal management issues deal primarily with three (3) types of learning: (1)
acquisition of insights into current advances which are of particular significance to the corporate
counsel; (2) an introduction to usable disciplinary skins applicable to a corporate counsel's
management responsibilities; and (3) a devotion to the organization and management of the
legal function itself.
These three subject areas may be thought of as intersecting circles, with a shared area linking
them. Otherwise known as "intersecting managerial jurisprudence," it forms a unifying theme for
the corporate counsel's total learning.
Some current advances in behavior and policy sciences affect the counsel's role. For that matter,
the corporate lawyer reviews the globalization process, including the resulting strategic
repositioning that the firms he provides counsel for are required to make, and the need to think
about a corporation's; strategy at multiple levels. The salience of the nation-state is being
reduced as firms deal both with global multinational entities and simultaneously with subnational governmental units. Firms increasingly collaborate not only with public entities but with
each other often with those who are competitors in other arenas.
Also, the nature of the lawyer's participation in decision-making within the corporation is rapidly
changing. The modem corporate lawyer has gained a new role as a stakeholder in some cases
participating in the organization and operations of governance through participation on boards
and other decision-making roles. Often these new patterns develop alongside existing legal
institutions and laws are perceived as barriers. These trends are complicated as corporations
organize for global operations. ( Emphasis supplied)
The practising lawyer of today is familiar as well with governmental policies toward the
promotion and management of technology. New collaborative arrangements for promoting
specific technologies or competitiveness more generally require approaches from industry that
differ from older, more adversarial relationships and traditional forms of seeking to influence
governmental policies. And there are lessons to be learned from other countries. In
Europe, Esprit, Eureka and Race are examples of collaborative efforts between governmental and
business Japan's MITI is world famous. (Emphasis supplied)
Following the concept of boundary spanning, the office of the Corporate Counsel comprises a
distinct group within the managerial structure of all kinds of organizations. Effectiveness of both
long-term and temporary groups within organizations has been found to be related to
indentifiable factors in the group-context interaction such as the groups actively revising their
knowledge of the environment coordinating work with outsiders, promoting team achievements

within the organization. In general, such external activities are better predictors of team
performance than internal group processes.
In a crisis situation, the legal managerial capabilities of the corporate lawyer vis-a-vis the
managerial mettle of corporations are challenged. Current research is seeking ways both to
anticipate effective managerial procedures and to understand relationships of financial liability
and insurance considerations. (Emphasis supplied)
Regarding the skills to apply by the corporate counsel, three factors are apropos:
First System Dynamics. The field of systems dynamics has been found an effective tool for new
managerial thinking regarding both planning and pressing immediate problems. An
understanding of the role of feedback loops, inventory levels, and rates of flow, enable users to
simulate all sorts of systematic problems physical, economic, managerial, social, and
psychological. New programming techniques now make the system dynamics principles more
accessible to managers including corporate counsels. (Emphasis supplied)
Second Decision Analysis. This enables users to make better decisions involving complexity and
uncertainty. In the context of a law department, it can be used to appraise the settlement value
of litigation, aid in negotiation settlement, and minimize the cost and risk involved in managing a
portfolio of cases. (Emphasis supplied)
Third Modeling for Negotiation Management. Computer-based models can be used directly by
parties and mediators in all lands of negotiations. All integrated set of such tools provide
coherent and effective negotiation support, including hands-on on instruction in these
techniques. A simulation case of an international joint venture may be used to illustrate the
point.
[Be this as it may,] the organization and management of the legal function, concern three
pointed areas of consideration, thus:
Preventive Lawyering. Planning by lawyers requires special skills that comprise a major part of
the general counsel's responsibilities. They differ from those of remedial law. Preventive
lawyering is concerned with minimizing the risks of legal trouble and maximizing legal rights for
such legal entities at that time when transactional or similar facts are being considered and
made.
Managerial Jurisprudence. This is the framework within which are undertaken those activities of
the firm to which legal consequences attach. It needs to be directly supportive of this nation's
evolving economic and organizational fabric as firms change to stay competitive in a global,
interdependent environment. The practice and theory of "law" is not adequate today to facilitate
the relationships needed in trying to make a global economy work.
Organization and Functioning of the Corporate Counsel's Office. The general counsel has
emerged in the last decade as one of the most vibrant subsets of the legal profession. The
corporate counsel hear responsibility for key aspects of the firm's strategic issues, including
structuring its global operations, managing improved relationships with an increasingly
diversified body of employees, managing expanded liability exposure, creating new and varied
interactions with public decision-makers, coping internally with more complex make or by
decisions.
This whole exercise drives home the thesis that knowing corporate law is not enough to make
one a good general corporate counsel nor to give him a full sense of how the legal system
shapes corporate activities. And even if the corporate lawyer's aim is not the understand all of
the law's effects on corporate activities, he must, at the very least, also gain a working
knowledge of the management issues if only to be able to grasp not only the basic legal
"constitution' or makeup of the modem corporation. "Business Star", "The Corporate Counsel,"
April 10, 1991, p. 4).
The challenge for lawyers (both of the bar and the bench) is to have more than a passing
knowledge of financial law affecting each aspect of their work. Yet, many would admit to
ignorance of vast tracts of the financial law territory. What transpires next is a dilemma of

professional security: Will the lawyer admit ignorance and risk opprobrium?; or will he feign
understanding and risk exposure? (Business Star, "Corporate Finance law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President Corazon C. Aquino to the position of
Chairman of the COMELEC in a letter received by the Secretariat of the Commission on
Appointments on April 25, 1991. Petitioner opposed the nomination because allegedly Monsod
does not possess the required qualification of having been engaged in the practice of law for at
least ten years.
On June 5, 1991, the Commission on Appointments confirmed the nomination of Monsod as
Chairman of the COMELEC. On June 18, 1991, he took his oath of office. On the same day, he
assumed office as Chairman of the COMELEC.
Challenging the validity of the confirmation by the Commission on Appointments of Monsod's
nomination, petitioner as a citizen and taxpayer, filed the instant petition for certiorari and
Prohibition praying that said confirmation and the consequent appointment of Monsod as
Chairman of the Commission on Elections be declared null and void.
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 ten years. (p. 124, Rollo)
After graduating from the College of Law (U.P.) and having hurdled the bar, Atty. Monsod worked
in the law office of his father. During his stint in the World Bank Group (1963-1970), Monsod
worked as an operations officer for about two years in Costa Rica and Panama, 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 in 1970, he worked
with the Meralco Group, served as chief executive officer of an investment bank and
subsequently of a business conglomerate, and since 1986, has rendered services to various
companies as a legal and economic consultant or chief executive officer. As former SecretaryGeneral (1986) and National Chairman (1987) of NAMFREL. Monsod's work involved being
knowledgeable in election law. He appeared for NAMFREL in its accreditation hearings before the
Comelec. In the field of advocacy, Monsod, in his personal capacity and as former Co-Chairman
of the Bishops Businessmen's Conference for Human Development, has worked with the under
privileged sectors, such as the farmer and urban poor groups, in initiating, lobbying for and
engaging in affirmative action for the agrarian reform law and lately the urban land reform bill.
Monsod also made use of his legal knowledge as a member of the Davide Commission, a quast
judicial body, which conducted numerous hearings (1990) and as a member of the Constitutional
Commission (1986-1987), and Chairman of its Committee on Accountability of Public Officers, for
which he was cited by the President of the Commission, Justice Cecilia Muoz-Palma for
"innumerable amendments to reconcile government functions with individual freedoms and
public accountability and the party-list system for the House of Representative. (pp. 128-129
Rollo) ( Emphasis supplied)
Just a word about the work of a negotiating team of which Atty. Monsod used to be a member.
In a loan agreement, for instance, a negotiating panel acts as a team, and which is adequately
constituted to meet the various contingencies that arise during a negotiation. Besides top
officials of the Borrower concerned, there are the legal officer (such as the legal counsel), the
finance manager, and an operations officer (such as an official involved in negotiating the
contracts) who comprise the members of the team. (Guillermo V. Soliven, "Loan Negotiating
Strategies for Developing Country Borrowers," Staff Paper No. 2, Central Bank of the Philippines,
Manila, 1982, p. 11). (Emphasis supplied)
After a fashion, the loan agreement is like a country's Constitution; it lays down the law as far as
the loan transaction is concerned. Thus, the meat of any Loan Agreement can be
compartmentalized into five (5) fundamental parts: (1) business terms; (2) borrower's
representation; (3) conditions of closing; (4) covenants; and (5) events of default. (Ibid., p. 13).
In the same vein, lawyers play an important role in any debt restructuring program. For aside
from performing the tasks of legislative drafting and legal advising, they score national
development policies as key factors in maintaining their countries' sovereignty. (Condensed from

the work paper, entitled "Wanted: Development Lawyers for Developing Nations," submitted by
L. Michael Hager, regional legal adviser of the United States Agency for International
Development, during the Session on Law for the Development of Nations at the Abidjan World
Conference in Ivory Coast, sponsored by the World Peace Through Law Center on August 26-31,
1973). ( Emphasis supplied)
Loan concessions and compromises, perhaps even more so than purely renegotiation policies,
demand expertise in the law of contracts, in legislation and agreement drafting and in
renegotiation. Necessarily, a sovereign lawyer may work with an international business specialist
or an economist in the formulation of a model loan agreement. Debt restructuring contract
agreements contain such a mixture of technical language that they should be carefully drafted
and signed only with the advise of competent counsel in conjunction with the guidance of
adequate technical support personnel. (See International Law Aspects of the Philippine External
Debts, an unpublished dissertation, U.S.T. Graduate School of Law, 1987, p. 321). ( Emphasis
supplied)
A critical aspect of sovereign debt restructuring/contract construction is the set of terms and
conditions which determines the contractual remedies for a failure to perform one or more
elements of the contract. A good agreement must not only define the responsibilities of both
parties, but must also state the recourse open to either party when the other fails to discharge
an obligation. For a compleat debt restructuring represents a devotion to that principle which in
the ultimate analysis issine qua non for foreign loan agreements-an adherence to the rule of law
in domestic and international affairs of whose kind U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell
Holmes, Jr. once said: "They carry no banners, they beat no drums; but where they are, men
learn that bustle and bush are not the equal of quiet genius and serene mastery." (See Ricardo J.
Romulo, "The Role of Lawyers in Foreign Investments," Integrated Bar of the Philippine Journal,
Vol. 15, Nos. 3 and 4, Third and Fourth Quarters, 1977, p. 265).
Interpreted in the light of the various definitions of the term Practice of law". particularly the
modern concept of law practice, and taking into consideration the liberal construction intended
by the framers of the Constitution, 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 ten years.
Besides in the leading case of Luego v. Civil Service Commission, 143 SCRA 327, the Court said:
Appointment is an essentially discretionary power and must be performed by the officer in which
it is vested according to his best lights, the only condition being that the appointee should
possess the qualifications required by law. If he does, then the appointment cannot be faulted on
the ground that there are others better qualified who should have been preferred. This is a
political question involving considerations of wisdom which only the appointing authority can
decide. (emphasis supplied)
No less emphatic was the Court in the case of (Central Bank v. Civil Service Commission, 171
SCRA 744) where it stated:
It is well-settled that when the appointee is qualified, as in this case, and all the other legal
requirements are satisfied, the Commission has no alternative but to attest to the appointment in
accordance with the Civil Service Law. The Commission has no authority to revoke an
appointment on the ground that another person is more qualified for a particular position. It also
has no authority to direct the appointment of a substitute of its choice. To do so would be an
encroachment on the discretion vested upon the appointing authority. An appointment is
essentially within the discretionary power of whomsoever it is vested, subject to the only
condition that the appointee should possess the qualifications required by law. ( Emphasis
supplied)
The appointing process in a regular appointment as in the case at bar, consists of four (4) stages:
(1) nomination; (2) confirmation by the Commission on Appointments; (3) issuance of a
commission (in the Philippines, upon submission by the Commission on Appointments of its
certificate of confirmation, the President issues the permanent appointment; and (4) acceptance
e.g., oath-taking, posting of bond, etc. . . . (Lacson v. Romero, No. L-3081, October 14, 1949;
Gonzales, Law on Public Officers, p. 200)

The power of the Commission on Appointments to give its consent to the nomination of Monsod
as Chairman of the Commission on Elections is mandated by Section 1(2) Sub-Article C, Article IX
of the Constitution which provides:
The Chairman and the Commisioners shall be appointed by the President with the consent of the
Commission on Appointments for a term of seven years without reappointment. Of those first
appointed, three Members shall hold office for seven years, two Members for five years, and the
last Members for three years, without reappointment. Appointment to any vacancy shall be only
for the unexpired term of the predecessor. In no case shall any Member be appointed or
designated in a temporary or acting capacity.
Anent Justice Teodoro Padilla's separate opinion, suffice it to say that his definition of the practice
of law is the traditional or stereotyped notion of law practice, as distinguished from the modern
concept of the practice of law, which modern connotation is exactly what was intended by the
eminent framers of the 1987 Constitution. Moreover, Justice Padilla's definition would require
generally a habitual law practice, perhaps practised two or three times a week and would
outlaw say, law practice once or twice a year for ten consecutive years. Clearly, this is far from
the constitutional intent.
Upon the other hand, the separate opinion of Justice Isagani Cruz states that in my written
opinion, I made use of a definition of law practice which really means nothing because the
definition says that law practice " . . . is what people ordinarily mean by the practice of law." True
I cited the definition but only by way of sarcasm as evident from my statement that the definition
of law practice by "traditional areas of law practice is essentially tautologous" or defining a
phrase by means of the phrase itself that is being defined.
Justice Cruz goes on to say in substance that since the law covers almost all situations, most
individuals, in making use of the law, or in advising others on what the law means, are actually
practicing law. In that sense, perhaps, but we should not lose sight of the fact that Mr. Monsod
is a lawyer, a member of the Philippine Bar, who has been practising law for over ten years. This
is different from the acts of persons practising law, without first becoming lawyers.
Justice Cruz also says that the Supreme Court can even disqualify an elected President of the
Philippines, say, on the ground that he lacks one or more qualifications. This matter, I greatly
doubt. For one thing, how can an action or petition be brought against the President? And even
assuming that he is indeed disqualified, how can the action be entertained since he is the
incumbent President?
We now proceed:
The Commission on the basis of evidence submitted doling the public hearings on Monsod's
confirmation, implicitly determined that he possessed the necessary qualifications as required by
law. The judgment rendered by the Commission in the exercise of such an acknowledged power
is beyond judicial interference except only upon a clear showing of a grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. (Art. VIII, Sec. 1 Constitution). Thus, only where such
grave abuse of discretion is clearly shown shall the Court interfere with the Commission's
judgment. In the instant case, there is no occasion for the exercise of the Court's corrective
power, since no abuse, much less a grave abuse of discretion, that would amount to lack or
excess of jurisdiction and would warrant the issuance of the writs prayed, for has been clearly
shown.
Additionally, consider the following:
(1) If the Commission on Appointments rejects a nominee by the President, may the Supreme
Court reverse the Commission, and thus in effect confirm the appointment? Clearly, the answer
is in the negative.
(2) In the same vein, may the Court reject the nominee, whom the Commission has confirmed?
The answer is likewise clear.
(3) If the United States Senate (which is the confirming body in the U.S. Congress) decides
to confirma Presidential nominee, it would be incredible that the U.S. Supreme Court would
still reverse the U.S. Senate.

Finally, one significant legal maxim is:


We must interpret not by the letter that killeth, but by the spirit that giveth life.
In view of the foregoing, this petition is hereby DISMISSED.

May 27, 1965


G.R. No. L-19450
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs.SIMPLICIO VILLANUEVA, defendantappellant.

On September 4, 1959, the Chief of Police of Alaminos, Laguna, charged Simplicio Villanueva
with the Crime of Malicious Mischief before the Justice of the Peace Court of said municipality.
Said accused was represented by counsel de officio but later on replaced by counsel de parte.
The complainant in the same case was represented by City Attorney Ariston Fule of San Pablo
City, having entered his appearance as private prosecutor, after securing the permission of the
Secretary of Justice. The condition of his appearance as such, was that every time he would
appear at the trial of the case, he would be considered on official leave of absence, and that he
would not receive any payment for his services. The appearance of City Attorney Fule as private
prosecutor was questioned by the counsel for the accused, invoking the case of Aquino, et al. vs.
Blanco, et al.,
L-1532, Nov. 28, 1947, wherein it was ruled that "when an attorney had been appointed to the
position of Assistant Provincial Fiscal or City Fiscal and therein qualified, by operation of law, he
ceased to engage in private law practice." Counsel then argued that the JP Court in entertaining
the appearance of City Attorney Fule in the case is a violation of the above ruling. On December
17, 1960 the JP issued an order sustaining the legality of the appearance of City Attorney Fule.
Under date of January 4, 1961, counsel for the accused presented a "Motion to Inhibit Fiscal Fule
from Acting as Private Prosecutor in this Case," this time invoking Section 32, Rule 27, now Sec.
35, Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court, which bars certain attorneys from practicing. Counsel
claims that City Attorney Fule falls under this limitation. The JP Court ruled on the motion by
upholding the right of Fule to appear and further stating that he (Fule) was not actually enagaged
in private law practice. This Order was appealed to the CFI of Laguna, presided by the Hon.
Hilarion U. Jarencio, which rendered judgment on December 20, 1961, the pertinent portions of
which read:
The present case is one for malicious mischief. There being no reservation by the offended party
of the civil liability, the civil action was deemed impliedly instituted with the criminal action. The
offended party had, therefore, the right to intervene in the case and be represented by a legal
counsel because of her interest in the civil liability of the accused.
Sec. 31, Rule 127 of the Rules of Court provides that 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 that
purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. Assistant City Attorney Fule appeared in the Justice of the
Peace Court as an agent or friend of the offended party. It does not appear that he was being
paid for his services or that his appearance was in a professional capacity. As Assistant City
Attorney of San Pablo he had no control or intervention whatsoever in the prosecution of crimes
committed in the municipality of Alaminos, Laguna, because the prosecution of criminal cases
coming from Alaminos are handled by the Office of the Provincial Fiscal and not by the City
Attornev of San Pablo. There could be no possible conflict in the duties of Assistant City Attorney
Fule as Assistant City Attorney of San Pablo and as private prosecutor in this criminal case. On
the other hand, as already pointed out, the offended party in this criminal case had a right to be
represented by an agent or a friend to protect her rights in the civil action which was impliedly
instituted together with the criminal action.

In view of the foregoing, this Court holds that Asst. City Attorney Ariston D. Fule may appear
before the Justice of the Peace Court of Alaminos, Laguna as private prosecutor in this criminal
case as an agent or a friend of the offended party.
WHEREFORE, the appeal from the order of the Justice of the Peace Court of Alaminos, Laguna,
allowing the apprearance of Ariston D. Fule as private prosecutor is dismissed, without costs.
The above decision is the subject of the instant proceeding.
The appeal should be dismissed, for patently being without merits.
Aside from the considerations advanced by the learned trial judge, heretofore reproduced, and
which we consider plausible, the fallacy of the theory of defense counsel lies in his confused
interpretation of Section 32 of Rule 127 (now Sec. 35, Rule 138, Revised Rules), which provides
that "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." He claims that City Attorney Fule, in appearing as private prosecutor in the case was
engaging in private practice. We believe that the isolated appearance of City Attorney Fule did
not constitute private practice within the meaning and contemplation of the Rules. Practice is
more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or customary actions, a succession
of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise (State vs. Cotner, 127, p.
1, 87 Kan. 864, 42 LRA, M.S. 768). Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute has been
interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the public, as customarily and
demanding payment for such services (State vs. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644, 647). The
appearance as counsel on one occasion is not conclusive as determinative of engagement in the
private practice of law. The following observation of the Solicitor General is noteworthy:
Essentially, the word private practice of law implies that one must have presented himself to be
in the active and continued practice of the legal profession and that his professional services are
available to the public for a compensation, as a source of his livelihood or in consideration of his
said services.
For one thing, it has never been refuted that City Attorney Fule had been given permission by his
immediate superior, the Secretary of Justice, to represent the complainant in the case at bar,
who is a relative.
CONFORMABLY WITH ALL THE FOREGOING, the decision appealed from should be, as it is hereby
affirmed, in all respects, with costs against appellant.

A.C. No. 6705

March 31, 2006

RUTHIE LIM-SANTIAGO, Complainant, vs.ATTY. CARLOS B. SAGUCIO, Respondent.


This is a disbarment complaint against Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio for violating Rule 15.03 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility and for defying the prohibition against private practice of law
while working as government prosecutor.

The Facts
Ruthie Lim-Santiago ("complainant") is the daughter of Alfonso Lim and Special Administratrix of
his estate. 1 Alfonso Lim is a stockholder and the former President of Taggat Industries, Inc. 2
Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio ("respondent") was the former Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel
of Taggat Industries, Inc. 3 until his appointment as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of
Tuguegarao, Cagayan in 1992. 4

Taggat Industries, Inc. ("Taggat") is a domestic corporation engaged in the operation of timber
concessions from the government. The Presidential Commission on Good Government
sequestered it sometime in 1986, 5 and its operations ceased in 1997. 6
Sometime in July 1997, 21 employees of Taggat ("Taggat employees") filed a criminal complaint
entitled "Jesus Tagorda, Jr. et al. v. Ruthie Lim-Santiago," docketed as I.S. No. 97-240 ("criminal
complaint"). 7 Taggat employees 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 from 1 April 1996 to 15 July 1997.
Respondent, as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, was assigned to conduct the preliminary
investigation. 9 He resolved the criminal complaint by recommending the filing of 651
Informations 10 for violation of Article 288 11 in relation to Article 116 12 of the Labor Code of
the Philippines. 13
Complainant now charges respondent with the following violations:
1. Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
Complainant contends that respondent is guilty of representing conflicting interests. Respondent,
being the former Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel of Taggat, knew the operations of
Taggat very well. Respondent should have inhibited himself from hearing, investigating and
deciding the case filed by Taggat employees. 14 Furthermore, complainant claims that
respondent instigated the filing of the cases and even harassed and threatened Taggat
employees to accede and sign an affidavit to support the complaint. 15
2. Engaging in the private practice of law while working as a government prosecutor
Complainant also contends that respondent is guilty of engaging in the private practice of law
while working as a government prosecutor. Complainant presented evidence to prove that
respondent received P10,000 as retainers fee for the months of January and February 1995, 16
another P10,000 for the months of April and May 1995, 17 and P5,000 for the month of April
1996. 18
Complainant seeks the disbarment of respondent for violating Rule 15.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and for defying the prohibition against private practice of law while
working as government prosecutor.
Respondent refutes complainants allegations and counters that complainant was merely
aggrieved by the resolution of the criminal complaint which was adverse and contrary to her
expectation. 19
Respondent claims that when the criminal complaint was filed, respondent had resigned from
Taggat for more than five years. 20 Respondent asserts that he no longer owed his undivided
loyalty to Taggat. 21 Respondent argues that it was his sworn duty to conduct the necessary
preliminary investigation. 22 Respondent contends that complainant failed to establish lack of
impartiality when he performed his duty. 23 Respondent points out that complainant did not file a
motion to inhibit respondent from hearing the criminal complaint 24 but instead complainant
voluntarily executed and filed her counter-affidavit without mental reservation. 25
Respondent states that complainants reason in not filing a motion to inhibit was her impression
that respondent would exonerate her from the charges filed as gleaned from complainants
statement during the hearing conducted on 12 February 1999:
Q. (Atty. Dabu). What do you mean you didnt think he would do it, Madam Witness?
A. Because he is supposed to be my fathers friend and he was working with my Dad and he was
supposed to be trusted by my father. And he came to me and told me he gonna help me. x x x.
26
Respondent also asserts that no conflicting interests exist because he was not representing
Taggat employees or complainant. Respondent claims he was merely performing his official duty

as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor. 27 Respondent argues that complainant failed to establish that
respondents act was tainted with personal interest, malice and bad faith. 28
Respondent denies complainants allegations that he instigated the filing of the cases,
threatened and harassed Taggat employees. Respondent claims that this accusation is bereft of
proof because complainant failed to mention the names of the employees or present them for
cross-examination. 29
Respondent does not dispute his receipt, after his appointment as government prosecutor, of
retainer fees from complainant but claims that it
was only on a case-to-case basis and it ceased in 1996. 30 Respondent contends that the fees
were paid for his consultancy services and not for representation. Respondent submits that
consultation is not the same as representation and that rendering consultancy services is not
prohibited. 31 Respondent, in his Reply-Memorandum, states:
x x x [I]f ever Taggat paid him certain amounts, these were paid voluntarily by Taggat without the
respondents asking, intended as token consultancy fees on a case-to-case basis and not as or
for retainer fees. These payments do not at all show or translate as a specie of conflict of
interest. Moreover, these consultations had no relation to, or connection with, the abovementioned labor complaints filed by former Taggat employees. 32
Respondent insists that complainants evidence failed to prove that when the criminal complaint
was filed with the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Cagayan, respondent was still the
retained counsel or legal consultant. 33
While this disbarment case was pending, the Resolution and Order issued by respondent to file
651 Informations against complainant was reversed and set aside by Regional State Prosecutor
of Cagayan Rodolfo B. Cadelina last 4 January 1999. 34 Hence, the criminal complaint was
dismissed. 35
The IBPs Report and Recommendation
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines Investigating Commissioner Ma. Carmina M. AlejandroAbbas ("IBP Commissioner Abbas") heard the case 36 and allowed the parties to submit their
respective memoranda. 37 Due to IBP Commissioner Abbas resignation, the case was
reassigned to Commissioner Dennis A.B. Funa ("IBP Commissioner Funa"). 38
After the parties filed their memoranda and motion to resolve the case, the IBP Board of
Governors issued Resolution No. XVI-2004-479 ("IBP Resolution") dated 4 November 2004
adopting with modification 39 IBP Commissioner Funas Report and Recommendation ("Report")
finding respondent guilty of conflict of interests, failure to safeguard a former clients interest,
and violating the prohibition against the private practice of law while being a government
prosecutor. The IBP Board of Governors recommended the imposition of a penalty of three years
suspension from the practice of law. The Report reads:
Now the issue here is whether being a former lawyer of Taggat conflicts with his role as Assistant
Provincial Prosecutor in deciding I.S. No. 97-240. A determination of this issue will require the test
of whether the matter in I.S. No. 97-240 will conflict with his former position of Personnel
Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat.
I.S. No. 97-240 was filed for "Violation of Labor Code" (see Resolution of the Provincial
Prosecutors Office, Annex "B" of Complaint). Herein Complainant, Ruthie Lim-Santiago, was being
accused as having the "management and control" of Taggat (p. 2, Resolution of the Prov. Pros.
Office, supra).
Clearly, as a former Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat, herein Respondent
undoubtedly handled the personnel and labor concerns of Taggat. Respondent, undoubtedly dealt
with and related with the employees of Taggat. Therefore, Respondent undoubtedly dealt with
and related with complainants in I.S. No. 97-240. The issues, therefore, in I.S. No. 97-240, are
very much familiar with Respondent. While the issues of unpaid salaries pertain to the periods
1996-1997, the mechanics and personalities in that case are very much familiar with
Respondent.

A lawyer owes something to a former client. Herein Respondent owes to Taggat, a former client,
the duty to "maintain inviolate the clients confidence or to refrain from doing anything which will
injuriously affect him in any matter in which he previously represented him" (Natam v. Capule, 91
Phil. 640; p. 231, Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 4th ed.)
Respondent argues that as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, he does not represent any client or
any interest except justice. It should not be forgotten, however, that a lawyer has an immutable
duty to a former client with respect to matters that he previously handled for that former client.
In this case, matters relating to personnel, labor policies, and labor relations that he previously
handled as Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat. I.S. No. 97-240 was for "Violation of
the Labor Code." Here lies the conflict. Perhaps it would have been different had I.S. No. 97-240
not been labor-related, or if Respondent had not been a Personnel Manager concurrently as Legal
Counsel. But as it is, I.S. No. 97-240 is labor-related and Respondent was a former Personnel
Manager of Taggat.
While Respondent ceased his relations with Taggat in 1992 and the unpaid salaries being sought
in I.S. No. 97-240 were of the years 1996 and 1997, the employees and management involved
are the very personalities he dealt with as Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat.
Respondent dealt with these persons in his fiduciary relations with Taggat. Moreover, he was an
employee of the corporation and part of its management.
As to the propriety of receiving "Retainer Fees" or "consultancy fees" from herein Complainant
while being an Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, and for rendering legal consultancy work while
being an Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, this matter had long been settled. Government
prosecutors are prohibited to engage in the private practice of law (see Legal and Judicial Ethics,
Ernesto Pineda, 1994 ed., p. 20; People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109; Aquino v. Blanco 70 Phil.
647). The act of being a legal consultant is a practice of law. To engage in the practice of law is to
do any of those acts that are characteristic of the legal profession (In re: David, 93 Phil. 461). It
covers any activity, in or out of court, which required the application of law, legal principles,
practice or procedures and calls for legal knowledge, training and experience (PLA v. Agrava, 105
Phil. 173; People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 111; Cayetano v. Monsod, 201 SCRA 210).
Respondent clearly violated this prohibition.
As for the secondary accusations of harassing certain employees of Taggat and instigating the
filing of criminal complaints, we find the evidence insufficient.
Accordingly, Respondent should be found guilty of conflict of interest, failure to safeguard a
former clients interest, and violating the prohibition against the private practice of law while
being a government prosecutor. 40
The IBP Board of Governors forwarded the Report to the Court as provided under Section 12(b),
Rule 139-B 41 of the Rules of Court.
The Ruling of the Court
The Court exonerates respondent from the charge of violation of Rule 15.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility ("Code"). However, the Court finds respondent liable for violation of
Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility against unlawful conduct. 42
Respondent committed unlawful conduct when he violated Section 7(b)(2) of the Code of
Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees or Republic Act No. 6713 ("RA
6713").
Canon 6 provides that the Code "shall apply to lawyers in government service in the discharge of
their official duties." 43 A government lawyer is thus bound by the prohibition "not [to] represent
conflicting interests." 44 However, this rule is subject to certain limitations. The prohibition to
represent conflicting interests does not apply when no conflict of interest exists, when a written
consent of all concerned is given after a full disclosure of the facts or when no true attorneyclient relationship exists. 45 Moreover, considering the serious consequence of the disbarment or
suspension of a member of the Bar, clear preponderant evidence is necessary to justify the
imposition of the administrative penalty. 46

Respondent is also mandated under Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 not to engage in "unlawful x x x
conduct." Unlawful conduct includes violation of the statutory prohibition on a government
employee to "engage in the private practice of [his] profession unless authorized by the
Constitution or law, provided, that such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with [his]
official functions." 47
Complainants evidence failed to substantiate the claim that respondent represented conflicting
interests
In Quiambao v. Bamba, 48 the Court enumerated various tests to determine conflict of interests.
One test of inconsistency of interests is whether the lawyer will be asked to use against his
former client any confidential information acquired through their connection or previous
employment. 49 In essence, what a lawyer owes his former client is to maintain inviolate the
clients confidence or to refrain from doing anything which will injuriously affect him in any
matter in which he previously represented him. 50
In the present case, we find no conflict of interests when respondent handled the preliminary
investigation of the criminal complaint filed by Taggat employees in 1997. The issue in the
criminal complaint pertains to non-payment of wages that occurred from 1 April 1996 to 15 July
1997. Clearly, respondent was no longer connected with Taggat during that period since he
resigned sometime in 1992.
In order to charge respondent for representing conflicting interests, evidence must be presented
to prove that respondent used against Taggat, his former client, any confidential information
acquired through his previous employment. The only established participation respondent had
with respect to the criminal complaint is that he was the one who conducted the preliminary
investigation. On that basis alone, it does not necessarily follow that respondent used any
confidential information from his previous employment with complainant or Taggat in resolving
the criminal complaint.
The fact alone that respondent was the former Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel of
Taggat and the case he resolved as government prosecutor was labor-related is not a sufficient
basis to charge respondent for representing conflicting interests. A lawyers immutable duty to a
former client does not cover transactions that occurred beyond the lawyers employment with
the client. The intent of the law is to impose upon the lawyer the duty to protect the clients
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.
Further, complainant failed to present a single iota of evidence to prove her allegations. Thus,
respondent is not guilty of violating Rule 15.03 of the Code.
Respondent engaged in the private practice of law while working as a government prosecutor
The Court has defined the practice of law broadly as
x x x any activity, in or out of 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." 51
"Private practice of law" contemplates a succession of acts of the same nature habitually or
customarily holding ones self to the public as a lawyer. 52
Respondent argues that he only rendered consultancy services to Taggat intermittently and he
was not a retained counsel of Taggat from 1995 to 1996 as alleged. This argument is without
merit because the law does not distinguish between consultancy services and retainer
agreement. For as long as respondent 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."
Nonetheless, respondent admitted that he rendered his legal services to complainant while
working as a government prosecutor. Even the receipts he signed stated that the payments by

Taggat were for "Retainers fee." 53 Thus, as correctly pointed out by complainant, respondent
clearly violated the prohibition in RA 6713.
However, violations of RA 6713 are not subject to disciplinary action under the Code of
Professional Responsibility unless the violations also constitute infractions of specific provisions
of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Certainly, the IBP has no jurisdiction to investigate
violations of RA 6713 the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and
Employees unless the acts involved also transgress provisions of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.
Here, respondents violation of RA 6713 also 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." Respondents admission that he received from Taggat fees for legal services while
serving as a government prosecutor is an unlawful conduct, which constitutes a violation of Rule
1.01.
Respondent admitted that complainant also charged him with unlawful conduct when respondent
stated in his Demurrer to Evidence:
In this instant case, the complainant prays that the respondent be permanently and indefinitely
suspended or disbarred from the practice of the law profession and his name removed from the
Roll of Attorneys on the following grounds:
d) that respondent manifested gross misconduct and gross violation of his oath of office and in
his dealings with the public. 54
On the Appropriate Penalty on Respondent
The appropriate penalty on an errant lawyer depends on the exercise of sound judicial discretion
based on the surrounding facts. 55
Under Civil Service Law and rules, the penalty for government employees engaging in
unauthorized private practice of profession is suspension for six months and one day to one year.
56 We find this penalty appropriate for respondents violation in this case of Rule 1.01, Canon 1
of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio GUILTY of violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1
of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, we SUSPEND respondent Atty. Carlos B.
Sagucio from the practice of law for SIX MONTHS effective upon finality of this Decision.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended to
respondents personal record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the
Department of Justice, and all courts in the country for their information and guidance.
A.M. No. 10-10-4-SC

March 8, 2011

RE: LETTER OF THE UP LAW FACULTY ENTITLED "RESTORING INTEGRITY: A STATEMENT BY THE
FACULTY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES COLLEGE OF LAW ON THE ALLEGATIONS OF
PLAGIARISM AND MISREPRESENTATION IN THE SUPREME COURT"

DECISION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

For disposition of the Court are the various submissions of the 37 respondent law professors1 in
response to the Resolution dated October 19, 2010 (the Show Cause Resolution), directing them
to show cause why they should not be disciplined as members of the Bar for violation of specific
provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility enumerated therein.

At the outset, it must be stressed that the Show Cause Resolution clearly dockets this as an
administrative matter, not a special civil action for indirect contempt under Rule 71 of the Rules
of Court, contrary to the dissenting opinion of Associate Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno
(Justice Sereno) to the said October 19, 2010 Show Cause Resolution. Neither is this a
disciplinary proceeding grounded on an allegedly irregularly concluded finding of indirect
contempt as intimated by Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales (Justice Morales) in her
dissenting opinions to both the October 19, 2010 Show Cause Resolution and the present
decision.

With the nature of this case as purely a bar disciplinary proceeding firmly in mind, the Court finds
that with the exception of one respondent whose compliance was adequate and another who
manifested he was not a member of the Philippine Bar, the submitted explanations, being mere
denials and/or tangential to the issues at hand, are decidedly unsatisfactory. The proffered
defenses even more urgently behoove this Court to call the attention of respondent law
professors, who are members of the Bar, to the relationship of their duties as such under the
Code of Professional Responsibility to their civil rights as citizens and academics in our free and
democratic republic.

The provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility involved in this case are as follows:

CANON 1 A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote
respect for law and legal processes.

RULE 1.02 - A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at
lessening confidence in the legal system.

CANON 10 - A lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the court.

Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; nor
shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.

Rule 10.02 - A lawyer shall not knowingly misquote or misrepresent the contents of paper, the
language or the argument of opposing counsel, or the text of a decision or authority, or
knowingly cite as law a provision already rendered inoperative by repeal or amendment, or
assert as a fact that which has not been proved.

Rule 10.03 - A lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure and shall not misuse them to defeat
the ends of justice.

CANON 11 A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial
officers and should insist on similar conduct by others.

RULE 11.05 A lawyer shall submit grievances against a Judge to the proper authorities only.

CANON 13 A lawyer shall rely upon the merits of his cause and refrain from any impropriety
which tends to influence, or gives the appearance of influencing the court.

Established jurisprudence will undeniably support our view that when lawyers speak their minds,
they must ever be mindful of their sworn oath to observe ethical standards of their profession,
and in particular, avoid foul and abusive language to condemn the Supreme Court, or any court
for that matter, for a decision it has rendered, especially during the pendency of a motion for
such decisions reconsideration. The accusation of plagiarism against a member of this Court is
not the real issue here but rather this plagiarism issue has been used to deflect everyones
attention from the actual concern of this Court to determine by respondents explanations
whether or not respondent members of the Bar have crossed the line of decency and acceptable
professional conduct and speech and violated the Rules of Court through improper intervention
or interference as third parties to a pending case. Preliminarily, it should be stressed that it was
respondents themselves who called upon the Supreme Court to act on their Statement,2 which
they formally submitted, through Dean Marvic M.V.F. Leonen (Dean Leonen), for the Courts
proper disposition. Considering the defenses of freedom of speech and academic freedom
invoked by the respondents, it is worth discussing here that the legal reasoning used in the past
by this Court to rule that freedom of expression is not a defense in administrative cases against
lawyers for using intemperate speech in open court or in court submissions can similarly be
applied to respondents invocation of academic freedom. Indeed, it is precisely because
respondents are not merely lawyers but lawyers who teach law and mould the minds of young
aspiring attorneys that respondents own non-observance of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, even if purportedly motivated by the purest of intentions, cannot be ignored nor
glossed over by this Court.

To fully appreciate the grave repercussions of respondents actuations, it is apropos to revisit the
factual antecedents of this case.

BACKGROUND OF THE CASE

Antecedent Facts and Proceedings

On April 28, 2010, the ponencia of Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo (Justice Del Castillo) in
Vinuya, et al. v. Executive Secretary (G.R. No. 162230) was promulgated. On May 31, 2010, the
counsel3 for Vinuya, et al. (the "Malaya Lolas"), filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Vinuya
decision, raising solely the following grounds:

I. Our own constitutional and jurisprudential histories reject this Honorable Courts (sic) assertion
that the Executives foreign policy prerogatives are virtually unlimited; precisely, under the

relevant jurisprudence and constitutional provisions, such prerogatives are proscribed by


international human rights and humanitarian standards, including those provided for in the
relevant international conventions of which the Philippines is a party.4

II. This Honorable Court has confused diplomatic protection with the broader, if fundamental,
responsibility of states to protect the human rights of its citizens especially where the rights
asserted are subject of erga omnes obligations and pertain to jus cogens norms.5

On July 19, 2010,6 counsel for the Malaya Lolas, Attys. H. Harry L. Roque, Jr. (Atty. Roque) and
Romel Regalado Bagares (Atty. Bagares), filed a Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration in G.R.
No. 162230, where they posited for the first time their charge of plagiarism as one of the grounds
for reconsideration of the Vinuya decision. Among other arguments, Attys. Roque and Bagares
asserted that:

I.

IN THE FIRST PLACE, IT IS HIGHLY IMPROPER FOR THIS HONORABLE COURTS JUDGMENT OF APRIL
28, 2010 TO PLAGIARIZE AT LEAST THREE SOURCES AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN 2009 IN THE
YALE LAW JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, A BOOK PUBLISHED BY THE CAMBRIDGE
UNIVERSITY PRESS IN 2005 AND AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN 2006 IN THE CASE WESTERN
RESERVE JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW AND MAKE IT APPEAR THAT THESE SOURCES
SUPPORT THE JUDGMENTS ARGUMENTS FOR DISMISSING THE INSTANT PETITION WHEN IN
TRUTH, THE PLAGIARIZED SOURCES EVEN MAKE A STRONG CASE FOR THE PETITIONS CLAIMS.7

They also claimed that "[i]n this controversy, the evidence bears out the fact not only of
extensive plagiarism but of (sic) also of twisting the true intents of the plagiarized sources by the
ponencia to suit the arguments of the assailed Judgment for denying the Petition."8

According to Attys. Roque and Bagares, the works allegedly plagiarized in the Vinuya decision
were namely: (1) Evan J. Criddle and Evan Fox-Decents article "A Fiduciary Theory of Jus
Cogens;"9 (2) Christian J. Tams book Enforcing Erga Omnes Obligations in International Law;10
and (3) Mark Ellis article "Breaking the Silence: On Rape as an International Crime."11

On the same day as the filing of the Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration on July 19, 2010,
journalists Aries C. Rufo and Purple S. Romero posted an article, entitled "SC justice plagiarized
parts of ruling on comfort women," on the Newsbreak website.12 The same article appeared on
the GMA News TV website also on July 19, 2010.13

On July 22, 2010, Atty. Roques column, entitled "Plagiarized and Twisted," appeared in the Manila
Standard Today.14 In the said column, Atty. Roque claimed that Prof. Evan Criddle, one of the
authors purportedly not properly acknowledged in the Vinuya decision, confirmed that his work,
co-authored with Prof. Evan Fox-Decent, had been plagiarized. Atty. Roque quoted Prof. Criddles
response to the post by Julian Ku regarding the news report15 on the alleged plagiarism in the
international law blog, Opinio Juris. Prof. Criddle responded to Kus blog entry in this wise:

The newspapers16 [plagiarism] claims are based on a motion for reconsideration filed yesterday
with the Philippine Supreme Court yesterday. The motion is available here:

http://harryroque.com/2010/07/18/supplemental-motion-alleging-plagiarism-in-the-supremecourt/

The motion suggests that the Courts decision contains thirty-four sentences and citations that
are identical to sentences and citations in my 2009 YJIL article (co-authored with Evan FoxDecent). Professor Fox-Decent and I were unaware of the petitioners [plagiarism] allegations
until after the motion was filed today.

Speaking for myself, the most troubling aspect of the courts jus cogens discussion is that it
implies that the prohibitions against crimes against humanity, sexual slavery, and torture are not
jus cogens norms. Our article emphatically asserts the opposite. The Supreme Courts decision is
available here: http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2010/april2010/162230.htm17

On even date, July 22, 2010, Justice Del Castillo wrote to his colleagues on the Court in reply to
the charge of plagiarism contained in the Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration.18

In a letter dated July 23, 2010, another purportedly plagiarized author in the Vinuya decision, Dr.
Mark Ellis, wrote the Court, to wit:

Your Honours:

I write concerning a most delicate issue that has come to my attention in the last few days.

Much as I regret to raise this matter before your esteemed Court, I am compelled, as a question
of the integrity of my work as an academic and as an advocate of human rights and
humanitarian law, to take exception to the possible unauthorized use of my law review article on
rape as an international crime in your esteemed Courts Judgment in the case of Vinuya et al. v.
Executive Secretary et al. (G.R. No. 162230, Judgment of 28 April 2010).

My attention was called to the Judgment and the issue of possible plagiarism by the Philippine
chapter of the Southeast Asia Media Legal Defence Initiative (SEAMLDI),19 an affiliate of the
London-based Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI), where I sit as trustee.

In particular, I am concerned about a large part of the extensive discussion in footnote 65, pp.
27-28, of the said Judgment of your esteemed Court. I am also concerned that your esteemed
Court may have misread the arguments I made in the article and employed them for cross
purposes. This would be ironic since the article was written precisely to argue for the appropriate
legal remedy for victims of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.

I believe a full copy of my article as published in the Case Western Reserve Journal of
International Law in 2006 has been made available to your esteemed Court. I trust that your
esteemed Court will take the time to carefully study the arguments I made in the article.

I would appreciate receiving a response from your esteemed Court as to the issues raised by this
letter.

With respect,

(Sgd.)
Dr. Mark Ellis20

In Memorandum Order No. 35-2010 issued on July 27, 2010, the Court formed the Committee on
Ethics and Ethical Standards (the Ethics Committee) pursuant to Section 13, Rule 2 of the
Internal Rules of the Supreme Court. In an En Banc Resolution also dated July 27, 2010, the Court
referred the July 22, 2010 letter of Justice Del Castillo to the Ethics Committee. The matter was
subsequently docketed as A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC.

On August 2, 2010, the Ethics Committee required Attys. Roque and Bagares to comment on the
letter of Justice Del Castillo.21

On August 9, 2010, a statement dated July 27, 2010, entitled "Restoring Integrity: A Statement
by the Faculty of the University of the Philippines College of Law on the Allegations of Plagiarism
and Misrepresentation in the Supreme Court" (the Statement), was posted in Newsbreaks
website22 and on Atty. Roques blog.23 A report regarding the statement also appeared on
various on-line news sites, such as the GMA News TV24 and the Sun Star25 sites, on the same
date. The statement was likewise posted at the University of the Philippines College of Laws
bulletin board allegedly on August 10, 201026 and at said colleges website.27

On August 11, 2010, Dean Leonen submitted a copy of the Statement of the University of the
Philippines College of Law Faculty (UP Law faculty) to the Court, through Chief Justice Renato C.
Corona (Chief Justice Corona). The cover letter dated August 10, 2010 of Dean Leonen read:

The Honorable
Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines

Through:
Chief Justice

Hon. Renato C. Corona

Subject:

Statement of faculty

from the UP College of Law


on the Plagiarism in the case of
Vinuya v Executive Secretary
Your Honors:

We attach for your information and proper disposition a statement signed by thirty[-]eight (38)28
members of the faculty of the UP College of Law. We hope that its points could be considered by
the Supreme Court en banc.

Respectfully,

(Sgd.)
Marvic M.V.F. Leonen
Dean and Professor of Law

(Emphases supplied.)

The copy of the Statement attached to the above-quoted letter did not contain the actual
signatures of the alleged signatories but only stated the names of 37 UP Law professors with the
notation (SGD.) appearing beside each name. For convenient reference, the text of the UP Law
faculty Statement is reproduced here:

RESTORING INTEGRITY
A STATEMENT BY THE FACULTY OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES COLLEGE OF LAW
ON THE ALLEGATIONS OF PLAGIARISM AND MISREPRESENTATION
IN THE SUPREME COURT

An extraordinary act of injustice has again been committed against the brave Filipinas who had
suffered abuse during a time of war. After they courageously came out with their very personal
stories of abuse and suffering as "comfort women", waited for almost two decades for any
meaningful relief from their own government as well as from the government of Japan, got their
hopes up for a semblance of judicial recourse in the case of Vinuya v. Executive Secretary, G.R.
No. 162230 (28 April 2010), they only had these hopes crushed by a singularly reprehensible act
of dishonesty and misrepresentation by the Highest Court of the land.

It is within this frame that the Faculty of the University of the Philippines College of Law views the
charge that an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court committed plagiarism and
misrepresentation in Vinuya v. Executive Secretary. The plagiarism and misrepresentation are not
only affronts to the individual scholars whose work have been appropriated without correct
attribution, but also a serious threat to the integrity and credibility of the Philippine Judicial
System.

In common parlance, plagiarism is the appropriation and misrepresentation of another persons


work as ones own. In the field of writing, it is cheating at best, and stealing at worst. It
constitutes a taking of someone elses ideas and expressions, including all the effort and
creativity that went into committing such ideas and expressions into writing, and then making it
appear that such ideas and expressions were originally created by the taker. It is dishonesty,
pure and simple. A judicial system that allows plagiarism in any form is one that allows
dishonesty. Since all judicial decisions form part of the law of the land, to allow plagiarism in the
Supreme Court is to allow the production of laws by dishonest means. Evidently, this is a
complete perversion and falsification of the ends of justice.

A comparison of the Vinuya decision and the original source material shows that the ponente
merely copied select portions of other legal writers works and interspersed them into the
decision as if they were his own, original work. Under the circumstances, however, because the
Decision has been promulgated by the Court, the Decision now becomes the Courts and no
longer just the ponentes. Thus the Court also bears the responsibility for the Decision. In the
absence of any mention of the original writers names and the publications from which they
came, the thing speaks for itself.

So far there have been unsatisfactory responses from the ponente of this case and the
spokesman of the Court.

It is argued, for example, that the inclusion of the footnotes from the original articles is a
reference to the primary sources relied upon. This cursory explanation is not acceptable,
because the original authors writings and the effort they put into finding and summarizing those
primary sources are precisely the subject of plagiarism. The inclusion of the footnotes together
with portions of their writings in fact aggravates, instead of mitigates, the plagiarism since it
provides additional evidence of a deliberate intention to appropriate the original authors work of
organizing and analyzing those primary sources.

It is also argued that the Members of the Court cannot be expected to be familiar with all legal
and scholarly journals. This is also not acceptable, because personal unfamiliarity with sources all
the more demands correct and careful attribution and citation of the material relied upon. It is a
matter of diligence and competence expected of all Magistrates of the Highest Court of the Land.

But a far more serious matter is the objection of the original writers, Professors Evan Criddle and
Evan Fox-Descent, that the High Court actually misrepresents the conclusions of their work
entitled "A Fiduciary Theory of Jus Cogens," the main source of the plagiarized text. In this article
they argue that the classification of the crimes of rape, torture, and sexual slavery as crimes
against humanity have attained the status of jus cogens, making it obligatory upon the State to
seek remedies on behalf of its aggrieved citizens. Yet, the Vinuya decision uses parts of the same
article to arrive at the contrary conclusion. This exacerbates the intellectual dishonesty of
copying works without attribution by transforming it into an act of intellectual fraud by copying
works in order to mislead and deceive.

The case is a potential landmark decision in International Law, because it deals with State
liability and responsibility for personal injury and damage suffered in a time of war, and the role
of the injured parties home States in the pursuit of remedies against such injury or damage.
National courts rarely have such opportunities to make an international impact. That the
petitioners were Filipino "comfort women" who suffered from horrific abuse during the Second
World War made it incumbent on the Court of last resort to afford them every solicitude. But
instead of acting with urgency on this case, the Court delayed its resolution for almost seven
years, oblivious to the deaths of many of the petitioners seeking justice from the Court. When it
dismissed the Vinuya petition based on misrepresented and plagiarized materials, the Court
decided this case based on polluted sources. By so doing, the Supreme Court added insult to
injury by failing to actually exercise its "power to urge and exhort the Executive Department to
take up the claims of the Vinuya petitioners. Its callous disposition, coupled with false sympathy
and nonchalance, belies a more alarming lack of concern for even the most basic values of
decency and respect. The reputation of the Philippine Supreme Court and the standing of the
Philippine legal profession before other Judiciaries and legal systems are truly at stake.

The High Court cannot accommodate less than absolute honesty in its decisions and cannot
accept excuses for failure to attain the highest standards of conduct imposed upon all members
of the Bench and Bar because these undermine the very foundation of its authority and power in
a democratic society. Given the Courts recent history and the controversy that surrounded it, it
cannot allow the charges of such clear and obvious plagiarism to pass without sanction as this
would only further erode faith and confidence in the judicial system. And in light of the
significance of this decision to the quest for justice not only of Filipino women, but of women
elsewhere in the world who have suffered the horrors of sexual abuse and exploitation in times of
war, the Court cannot coldly deny relief and justice to the petitioners on the basis of pilfered and
misinterpreted texts.

The Court cannot regain its credibility and maintain its moral authority without ensuring that its
own conduct, whether collectively or through its Members, is beyond reproach. This necessarily
includes ensuring that not only the content, but also the processes of preparing and writing its
own decisions, are credible and beyond question. The Vinuya Decision must be conscientiously
reviewed and not casually cast aside, if not for the purpose of sanction, then at least for the
purpose of reflection and guidance. It is an absolutely essential step toward the establishment of
a higher standard of professional care and practical scholarship in the Bench and Bar, which are
critical to improving the system of administration of justice in the Philippines. It is also a very
crucial step in ensuring the position of the Supreme Court as the Final Arbiter of all controversies:
a position that requires competence and integrity completely above any and all reproach, in
accordance with the exacting demands of judicial and professional ethics.

With these considerations, and bearing in mind the solemn duties and trust reposed upon them
as teachers in the profession of Law, it is the opinion of the Faculty of the University of the
Philippine College of Law that:

(1) The plagiarism committed in the case of Vinuya v. Executive Secretary is unacceptable,
unethical and in breach of the high standards of moral conduct and judicial and professional
competence expected of the Supreme Court;

(2) Such a fundamental breach endangers the integrity and credibility of the entire Supreme
Court and undermines the foundations of the Philippine judicial system by allowing implicitly the
decision of cases and the establishment of legal precedents through dubious means;

(3) The same breach and consequent disposition of the Vinuya case does violence to the
primordial function of the Supreme Court as the ultimate dispenser of justice to all those who
have been left without legal or equitable recourse, such as the petitioners therein;

(4) In light of the extremely serious and far-reaching nature of the dishonesty and to save the
honor and dignity of the Supreme Court as an institution, it is necessary for the ponente of
Vinuya v. Executive Secretary to resign his position, without prejudice to any other sanctions that
the Court may consider appropriate;

(5) The Supreme Court must take this opportunity to review the manner by which it conducts
research, prepares drafts, reaches and finalizes decisions in order to prevent a recurrence of
similar acts, and to provide clear and concise guidance to the Bench and Bar to ensure only the
highest quality of legal research and writing in pleadings, practice, and adjudication.

Meanwhile, in a letter dated August 18, 2010, Prof. Christian J. Tams made known his sentiments
on the alleged plagiarism issue to the Court.30 We quote Prof. Tams letter here:

Glasgow, 18 August 2010

Vinuya, et al. v. Executive Secretary et al. (G.R. No. 162230)

Hon. Renato C. Corona, Chief Justice

Your Excellency,

My name is Christian J. Tams, and I am a professor of international law at the University of


Glasgow. I am writing to you in relation to the use of one of my publications in the abovementioned judgment of your Honourable Court.

The relevant passage of the judgment is to be found on p. 30 of your Courts Judgment, in the
section addressing the concept of obligations erga omnes. As the table annexed to this letter
shows, the relevant sentences were taken almost word by word from the introductory chapter of
my book Enforcing Obligations Erga Omnes in International Law (Cambridge University Press
2005). I note that there is a generic reference to my work in footnote 69 of the Judgment, but as
this is in relation to a citation from another author (Bruno Simma) rather than with respect to the
substantive passages reproduced in the Judgment, I do not think it can be considered an
appropriate form of referencing.

I am particularly concerned that my work should have been used to support the Judgments
cautious approach to the erga omnes concept. In fact, a most cursory reading shows that my

books central thesis is precisely the opposite: namely that the erga omnes concept has been
widely accepted and has a firm place in contemporary international law. Hence the introductory
chapter notes that "[t]he present study attempts to demystify aspects of the very mysterious
concept and thereby to facilitate its implementation" (p. 5). In the same vein, the concluding
section notes that "the preceding chapters show that the concept is now a part of the reality of
international law, established in the jurisprudence of courts and the practice of States" (p. 309).

With due respect to your Honourable Court, I am at a loss to see how my work should have been
cited to support as it seemingly has the opposite approach. More generally, I am concerned at
the way in which your Honourable Courts Judgment has drawn on scholarly work without
properly acknowledging it.

On both aspects, I would appreciate a prompt response from your Honourable Court.

I remain

Sincerely yours

(Sgd.)
Christian J. Tams31

In the course of the submission of Atty. Roque and Atty. Bagares exhibits during the August 26,
2010 hearing in the ethics case against Justice Del Castillo, the Ethics Committee noted that
Exhibit "J" (a copy of the Restoring Integrity Statement) was not signed but merely reflected the
names of certain faculty members with the letters (SGD.) beside the names. Thus, the Ethics
Committee directed Atty. Roque to present the signed copy of the said Statement within three
days from the August 26 hearing.32

It was upon compliance with this directive that the Ethics Committee was given a copy of the
signed UP Law Faculty Statement that showed on the signature pages the names of the full
roster of the UP Law Faculty, 81 faculty members in all. Indubitable from the actual signed copy
of the Statement was that only 37 of the 81 faculty members appeared to have signed the same.
However, the 37 actual signatories to the Statement did not include former Supreme Court
Associate Justice Vicente V. Mendoza (Justice Mendoza) as represented in the previous copies of
the Statement submitted by Dean Leonen and Atty. Roque. It also appeared that Atty. Miguel R.
Armovit (Atty. Armovit) signed the Statement although his name was not included among the
signatories in the previous copies submitted to the Court. Thus, the total number of ostensible
signatories to the Statement remained at 37.

The Ethics Committee referred this matter to the Court en banc since the same Statement,
having been formally submitted by Dean Leonen on August 11, 2010, was already under
consideration by the Court.33

In a Resolution dated October 19, 2010, the Court en banc made the following observations
regarding the UP Law Faculty Statement:

Notably, while the statement was meant to reflect the educators opinion on the allegations of
plagiarism against Justice Del Castillo, they treated such allegation not only as an established
fact, but a truth. In particular, they expressed dissatisfaction over Justice Del Castillos
explanation on how he cited the primary sources of the quoted portions and yet arrived at a
contrary conclusion to those of the authors of the articles supposedly plagiarized.

Beyond this, however, the statement bore certain remarks which raise concern for the Court. The
opening sentence alone is a grim preamble to the institutional attack that lay ahead. It reads:

An extraordinary act of injustice has again been committed against the brave Filipinas who had
suffered abuse during a time of war.

The first paragraph concludes with a reference to the decision in Vinuya v. Executive Secretary as
a reprehensible act of dishonesty and misrepresentation by the Highest Court of the land. x x x.

The insult to the members of the Court was aggravated by imputations of deliberately delaying
the resolution of the said case, its dismissal on the basis of "polluted sources," the Courts
alleged indifference to the cause of petitioners [in the Vinuya case], as well as the supposed
alarming lack of concern of the members of the Court for even the most basic values of decency
and respect.34 x x x. (Underscoring ours.)

In the same Resolution, the Court went on to state that:

While most agree that the right to criticize the judiciary is critical to maintaining a free and
democratic society, there is also a general consensus that healthy criticism only goes so far.
Many types of criticism leveled at the judiciary cross the line to become harmful and
irresponsible attacks. These potentially devastating attacks and unjust criticism can threaten the
independence of the judiciary. The court must "insist on being permitted to proceed to the
disposition of its business in an orderly manner, free from outside interference obstructive of its
functions and tending to embarrass the administration of justice."

The Court could hardly perceive any reasonable purpose for the facultys less than objective
comments except to discredit the April 28, 2010 Decision in the Vinuya case and undermine the
Courts honesty, integrity and competence in addressing the motion for its reconsideration. As if
the case on the comfort womens claims is not controversial enough, the UP Law faculty would
fan the flames and invite resentment against a resolution that would not reverse the said
decision. This runs contrary to their obligation as law professors and officers of the Court to be
the first to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court, to which they owe fidelity according to
the oath they have taken as attorneys, and not to promote distrust in the administration of
justice.35 x x x. (Citations omitted; emphases and underscoring supplied.)

Thus, the Court directed Attys. Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, Froilan M. Bacungan, Pacifico A. Agabin,
Merlin M. Magallona, Salvador T. Carlota, Carmelo V. Sison, Patricia R.P. Salvador Daway, Dante B.
Gatmaytan, Theodore O. Te, Florin T. Hilbay, Jay L. Batongbacal, Evelyn (Leo) D. Battad, Gwen G.
De Vera, Solomon F. Lumba, Rommel J. Casis, Jose Gerardo A. Alampay, Miguel R. Armovit, Arthur
P. Autea, Rosa Maria J. Bautista, Mark R. Bocobo, Dan P. Calica, Tristan A. Catindig, Sandra Marie
O. Coronel, Rosario O. Gallo, Concepcion L. Jardeleza, Antonio G.M. La Via, Carina C. Laforteza,
Jose C. Laureta, Owen J. Lynch, Rodolfo Noel S. Quimbo, Antonio M. Santos, Gmeleen Faye B.
Tomboc, Nicholas Felix L. Ty, Evalyn G. Ursua, Raul T. Vasquez, Susan D. Villanueva and Dina D.
Lucenario to show cause, within ten (10) days from receipt of the copy of the Resolution, why
they should not be disciplined as members of the Bar for violation of Canons 1,36 11 and 13 and
Rules 1.02 and 11.05 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.37

Dean Leonen was likewise directed to show cause within the same period why he should not be
disciplinarily dealt with for violation of Canon 10, Rules 10.01, 10.02 and 10.03 for submitting
through his letter dated August 10, 2010, during the pendency of G.R. No. 162230 and of the
investigation before the Ethics Committee, for the consideration of the Court en banc, a dummy
which is not a true and faithful reproduction of the UP Law Faculty Statement.38

In the same Resolution, the present controversy was docketed as a regular administrative matter.

Summaries of the Pleadings Filed by Respondents in Response to the October 19, 2010 Show
Cause Resolution

On November 19, 2010, within the extension for filing granted by the Court, respondents filed
the following pleadings:

(1) Compliance dated November 18, 2010 by counsels for 35 of the 37 respondents, excluding
Prof. Owen Lynch and Prof. Raul T. Vasquez, in relation to the charge of violation of Canons 1, 11
and 13 and Rules 1.02 and 11.05 of the Code of Professional Responsibility;

(2) Compliance and Reservation dated November 18, 2010 by Prof. Rosa Maria T. Juan-Bautista in
relation to the same charge in par. (1);

(3) Compliance dated November 19, 2010 by counsel for Prof. Raul T. Vasquez in relation to the
same charge in par. (1);

(4) Compliance dated November 19, 2010 by counsels for Dean Leonen, in relation to the charge
of violation of Canon 10, Rules 10.01, 10.02 and 10.03; and

(5) Manifestation dated November 19, 2010 by counsel for Prof. Owen Lynch.

Common Compliance of 35 Respondents (Excluding Prof. Owen Lynch and Prof. Raul Vasquez)

Thirty-five (35) of the respondent UP Law professors filed on November 19, 2010 a common
compliance which was signed by their respective counsels (the Common Compliance). In the
"Preface" of said Common Compliance, respondents stressed that "[they] issued the Restoring
Integrity Statement in the discharge of the solemn duties and trust reposed upon them as
teachers in the profession of law, and as members of the Bar to speak out on a matter of public
concern and one that is of vital interest to them."39 They likewise alleged that "they acted with
the purest of intentions" and pointed out that "none of them was involved either as party or
counsel"40 in the Vinuya case. Further, respondents "note with concern" that the Show Cause
Resolutions findings and conclusions were "a prejudgment that respondents indeed are in
contempt, have breached their obligations as law professors and officers of the Court, and have
violated Canons [1], 11 and 13 and Rules 1.02 and 11.05 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility."41

By way of explanation, the respondents emphasized the following points:

(a) Respondents alleged noble intentions

In response to the charges of failure to observe due respect to legal processes42 and the
courts43 and of tending to influence, or giving the appearance of influencing the Court44 in the
issuance of their Statement, respondents assert that their intention was not to malign the Court
but rather to defend its integrity and credibility and to ensure continued confidence in the legal
system. Their noble motive was purportedly evidenced by the portion of their Statement
"focusing on constructive action."45 Respondents call in the Statement for the Court "to provide
clear and concise guidance to the Bench and Bar to ensure only the highest quality of legal
research and writing in adjudication," was reputedly "in keeping with strictures enjoining lawyers
to participate in the development of the legal system by initiating or supporting efforts in law
reform and in the improvement of the administration of justice" (under Canon 4 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility) and to "promote respect for the law and legal processes" (under
Canon 1, id.).46 Furthermore, as academics, they allegedly have a "special interest and duty to
vigilantly guard against plagiarism and misrepresentation because these unwelcome occurrences
have a profound impact in the academe, especially in our law schools."47

Respondents further "[called] on this Court not to misconstrue the Restoring Integrity Statement
as an institutional attack x x x on the basis of its first and ninth paragraphs."48 They further
clarified that at the time the Statement was allegedly drafted and agreed upon, it appeared to
them the Court "was not going to take any action on the grave and startling allegations of
plagiarism and misrepresentation."49 According to respondents, the bases for their belief were
(i) the news article published on July 21, 2010 in the Philippine Daily Inquirer wherein Court
Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez was reported to have said that Chief Justice Corona would
not order an inquiry into the matter;50 and (ii) the July 22, 2010 letter of Justice Del Castillo
which they claimed "did nothing but to downplay the gravity of the plagiarism and
misrepresentation charges."51 Respondents claimed that it was their perception of the Courts
indifference to the dangers posed by the plagiarism allegations against Justice Del Castillo that
impelled them to urgently take a public stand on the issue.

(b) The "correctness" of respondents position that Justice Del Castillo committed plagiarism and
should be held accountable in accordance with the standards of academic writing

A significant portion of the Common Compliance is devoted to a discussion of the merits of


respondents charge of plagiarism against Justice Del Castillo. Relying on University of the
Philippines Board of Regents v. Court of Appeals52 and foreign materials and jurisprudence,
respondents essentially argue that their position regarding the plagiarism charge against Justice
Del Castillo is the correct view and that they are therefore justified in issuing their Restoring
Integrity Statement. Attachments to the Common Compliance included, among others: (i) the
letter dated October 28, 2010 of Peter B. Payoyo, LL.M, Ph.D.,53 sent to Chief Justice Corona
through Justice Sereno, alleging that the Vinuya decision likewise lifted without proper attribution
the text from a legal article by Mariana Salazar Albornoz that appeared in the Anuario Mexicano
De Derecho Internacional and from an International Court of Justice decision; and (ii) a 2008
Human Rights Law Review Article entitled "Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and International
Human Rights Law" by Michael OFlaherty and John Fisher, in support of their charge that Justice
Del Castillo also lifted passages from said article without proper attribution, but this time, in his
ponencia in Ang Ladlad LGBT Party v. Commission on Elections.54

(c) Respondents belief that they are being "singled out" by the Court when others have likewise
spoken on the "plagiarism issue"

In the Common Compliance, respondents likewise asserted that "the plagiarism and
misrepresentation allegations are legitimate public issues."55 They identified various published
reports and opinions, in agreement with and in opposition to the stance of respondents, on the
issue of plagiarism, specifically:

(i) Newsbreak report on July 19, 2010 by Aries Rufo and Purple Romero;56

(ii) Column of Ramon Tulfo which appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on July 24, 2010;57

(iii) Editorial of the Philippine Daily Inquirer published on July 25, 2010;58

(iv) Letter dated July 22, 2010 of Justice Del Castillo published in the Philippine Star on July 30,
2010;59

(v) Column of Former Intellectual Property Office Director General Adrian Cristobal, Jr. published
in the Business Mirror on August 5, 2010;60

(vi) Column of Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer
on August 8, 2010;61

(vii) News report regarding Senator Francis Pangilinans call for the resignation of Justice Del
Castillo published in the Daily Tribune and the Manila Standard Today on July 31, 2010;62

(viii) News reports regarding the statement of Dean Cesar Villanueva of the Ateneo de Manila
University School of Law on the calls for the resignation of Justice Del Castillo published in The
Manila Bulletin, the Philippine Star and the Business Mirror on August 11, 2010;63

(ix) News report on expressions of support for Justice Del Castillo from a former dean of the
Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, the Philippine Constitutional Association, the Judges
Association of Bulacan and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Bulacan Chapter published in
the Philippine Star on August 16, 2010;64 and

(x) Letter of the Dean of the Liceo de Cagayan University College of Law published in the
Philippine Daily Inquirer on August 10, 2010.65

In view of the foregoing, respondents alleged that this Court has singled them out for sanctions
and the charge in the Show Cause Resolution dated October 19, 2010 that they may have
violated specific canons of the Code of Professional Responsibility is unfair and without basis.

(d) Freedom of expression

In paragraphs 28 to 30 of the Common Compliance, respondents briefly discussed their position


that in issuing their Statement, "they should be seen as not only to be performing their duties as
members of the Bar, officers of the court, and teachers of law, but also as citizens of a
democracy who are constitutionally protected in the exercise of free speech."66 In support of this
contention, they cited United States v. Bustos,67 In re: Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen, 68 and In the
Matter of Petition for Declaratory Relief Re: Constitutionality of Republic Act 4880, Gonzales v.
Commission on Elections.69

(e) Academic freedom

In paragraphs 31 to 34 of the Common Compliance, respondents asserted that their Statement


was also issued in the exercise of their academic freedom as teachers in an institution of higher
learning. They relied on Section 5 of the University of the Philippines Charter of 2008 which
provided that "[t]he national university has the right and responsibility to exercise academic
freedom." They likewise adverted to Garcia v. The Faculty Admission Committee, Loyola School of
Theology70 which they claimed recognized the extent and breadth of such freedom as to
encourage a free and healthy discussion and communication of a faculty members field of study
without fear of reprisal. It is respondents view that had they remained silent on the plagiarism
issue in the Vinuya decision they would have "compromised [their] integrity and credibility as
teachers; [their silence] would have created a culture and generation of students, professionals,
even lawyers, who would lack the competence and discipline for research and pleading; or,
worse, [that] their silence would have communicated to the public that plagiarism and
misrepresentation are inconsequential matters and that intellectual integrity has no bearing or
relevance to ones conduct."71

In closing, respondents Common Compliance exhorted this Court to consider the following
portion of the dissenting opinion of Justice George A. Malcolm in Salcedo v. Hernandez,72 to wit:

Respect for the courts can better be obtained by following a calm and impartial course from the
bench than by an attempt to compel respect for the judiciary by chastising a lawyer for a too
vigorous or injudicious exposition of his side of a case. The Philippines needs lawyers of
independent thought and courageous bearing, jealous of the interests of their clients and
unafraid of any court, high or low, and the courts will do well tolerantly to overlook occasional
intemperate language soon to be regretted by the lawyer which affects in no way the outcome of
a case.73

On the matter of the reliefs to which respondents believe they are entitled, the Common
Compliance stated, thus:

WHEREFORE:

A. Respondents, as citizens of a democracy, professors of law, members of the Bar and officers of
the Court, respectfully pray that:

1. the foregoing be noted; and

2. the Court reconsider and reverse its adverse findings in the Show Cause Resolution, including
its conclusions that respondents have: [a] breached their "obligation as law professors and
officers of the Court to be the first to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court, and not to
promote distrust in the administration of justice;" and [b] committed "violations of Canons 10,
11, and 13 and Rules 1.02 and 11.05 of the Code of Professional Responsibility."

B. In the event the Honorable Court declines to grant the foregoing prayer, respondents
respectfully pray, in the alternative, and in assertion of their due process rights, that before final
judgment be rendered:

1. the Show Cause Resolution be set for hearing;

2. respondents be given a fair and full opportunity to refute and/or address the findings and
conclusions of fact in the Show Cause Resolution (including especially the finding and conclusion
of a lack of malicious intent), and in that connection, that appropriate procedures and schedules
for hearing be adopted and defined that will allow them the full and fair opportunity to require
the production of and to present testimonial, documentary, and object evidence bearing on the
plagiarism and misrepresentation issues in Vinuya v. Executive Secretary (G.R. No. 162230, April
28, 2010) and In the Matter of the Charges of Plagiarism, etc. Against Associate Justice Mariano
C. Del Castillo (A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC); and

3. respondents be given fair and full access to the transcripts, records, drafts, reports and
submissions in or relating to, and accorded the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses who

were or could have been called in In The Matter of the Charges of Plagiarism, etc. Against
Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo (A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC).74

Compliance and Reservation of Prof. Rosa Maria T. Juan-Bautista

Although already included in the Common Compliance, Prof. Rosa Maria T. Juan-Bautista (Prof.
Juan-Bautista) filed a separate Compliance and Reservation (the Bautista Compliance), wherein
she adopted the allegations in the Common Compliance with some additional averments.

Prof. Juan-Bautista reiterated that her due process rights allegedly entitled her to challenge the
findings and conclusions in the Show Cause Resolution. Furthermore, "[i]f the Restoring Integrity
Statement can be considered indirect contempt, under Section 3 of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court,
such may be punished only after charge and hearing."75

Prof. Juan-Bautista stressed that respondents signed the Statement "in good faith and with the
best intentions to protect the Supreme Court by asking one member to resign."76 For her part,
Prof. Juan-Bautista intimated that her deep disappointment and sadness for the plight of the
Malaya Lolas were what motivated her to sign the Statement.

On the point of academic freedom, Prof. Juan-Bautista cited jurisprudence77 which in her view
highlighted that academic freedom is constitutionally guaranteed to institutions of higher
learning such that schools have the freedom to determine for themselves who may teach, what
may be taught, how lessons shall be taught and who may be admitted to study and that courts
have no authority to interfere in the schools exercise of discretion in these matters in the
absence of grave abuse of discretion. She claims the Court has encroached on the academic
freedom of the University of the Philippines and other universities on their right to determine how
lessons shall be taught.

Lastly, Prof. Juan-Bautista asserted that the Statement was an exercise of respondents
constitutional right to freedom of expression that can only be curtailed when there is grave and
imminent danger to public safety, public morale, public health or other legitimate public
interest.78

Compliance of Prof. Raul T. Vasquez

On November 19, 2010, Prof. Raul T. Vasquez (Prof. Vasquez) filed a separate Compliance by
registered mail (the Vasquez Compliance). In said Compliance, Prof. Vasquez narrated the
circumstances surrounding his signing of the Statement. He alleged that the Vinuya decision was
a topic of conversation among the UP Law faculty early in the first semester (of academic year
2010-11) because it reportedly contained citations not properly attributed to the sources; that he
was shown a copy of the Statement by a clerk of the Office of the Dean on his way to his class;
and that, agreeing in principle with the main theme advanced by the Statement, he signed the
same in utmost good faith.79

In response to the directive from this Court to explain why he should not be disciplined as a
member of the Bar under the Show Cause Resolution, Prof. Vasquez also took the position that a
lawyer has the right, like all citizens in a democratic society, to comment on acts of public
officers. He invited the attention of the Court to the following authorities: (a) In re: Vicente
Sotto;80 (b) In re: Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen;81 and (c) a discussion appearing in American
Jurisprudence (AmJur) 2d.82 He claims that he "never had any intention to unduly influence, nor
entertained any illusion that he could or should influence, [the Court] in its disposition of the
Vinuya case"83 and that "attacking the integrity of [the Court] was the farthest thing on
respondents mind when he signed the Statement."84 Unlike his colleagues, who wish to impress
upon this Court the purported homogeneity of the views on what constitutes plagiarism, Prof.
Vasquez stated in his Compliance that:

13. Before this Honorable Court rendered its Decision dated 12 October 2010, some espoused
the view that willful and deliberate intent to commit plagiarism is an essential element of the
same. Others, like respondent, were of the opinion that plagiarism is committed regardless of the
intent of the perpetrator, the way it has always been viewed in the academe. This uncertainty
made the issue a fair topic for academic discussion in the College. Now, this Honorable Court has
ruled that plagiarism presupposes deliberate intent to steal anothers work and to pass it off as
ones own.85 (Emphases supplied.)

Also in contrast to his colleagues, Prof. Vasquez was willing to concede that he "might have been
remiss in correctly assessing the effects of such language [in the Statement] and could have
been more careful."86 He ends his discussion with a respectful submission that with his
explanation, he has faithfully complied with the Show Cause Resolution and that the Court will
rule that he had not in any manner violated his oath as a lawyer and officer of the Court.

Separate Compliance of Dean Leonen regarding the charge of violation of Canon 10 in relation to
his submission of a "dummy" of the UP Law Faculty Statement to this Court

In his Compliance, Dean Leonen claimed that there were three drafts/versions of the UP Law
Faculty Statement, which he described as follows:

"Restoring Integrity I" which bears the entire roster of the faculty of the UP College of Law in its
signing pages, and the actual signatures of the thirty-seven (37) faculty members subject of the
Show Cause Resolution. A copy was filed with the Honorable Court by Roque and Butuyan on 31
August 2010 in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC.

"Restoring Integrity II" which does not bear any actual physical signature, but which reflects as
signatories the names of thirty-seven (37) members of the faculty with the notation "(SGD.)". A
copy of Restoring Integrity II was publicly and physically posted in the UP College of Law on 10
August 2010. Another copy of Restoring Integrity II was also officially received by the Honorable
Court from the Dean of the UP College of Law on 11 August 2010, almost three weeks before the
filing of Restoring Integrity I.

"Restoring Integrity III" which is a reprinting of Restoring Integrity II, and which presently serves
as the official file copy of the Deans Office in the UP College of Law that may be signed by other
faculty members who still wish to. It bears the actual signatures of the thirty- seven original
signatories to Restoring Integrity I above their printed names and the notation "(SGD.") and, in

addition, the actual signatures of eight (8) other members of the faculty above their handwritten
or typewritten names.87

For purposes of this discussion, only Restoring Integrity I and Restoring Integrity II are relevant
since what Dean Leonen has been directed to explain are the discrepancies in the signature
pages of these two documents. Restoring Integrity III was never submitted to this Court.

On how Restoring Integrity I and Restoring Integrity II were prepared and came about, Dean
Leonen alleged, thus:

2.2 On 27 July 2010, sensing the emergence of a relatively broad agreement in the faculty on a
draft statement, Dean Leonen instructed his staff to print the draft and circulate it among the
faculty members so that those who wished to may sign. For this purpose, the staff encoded the
law faculty roster to serve as the printed drafts signing pages. Thus did the first printed draft of
the Restoring Integrity Statement, Restoring Integrity I, come into being.

2.3. As of 27 July 2010, the date of the Restoring Integrity Statement, Dean Leonen was unaware
that a Motion for Reconsideration of the Honorable Courts Decision in Vinuya vs. Executive
Secretary (G.R. No. 162230, 28 April 2010) had already been filed, or that the Honorable Court
was in the process of convening its Committee on Ethics and Ethical Standards in A.M. No. 10-717-SC.

2.4. Dean Leonens staff then circulated Restoring Integrity I among the members of the faculty.
Some faculty members visited the Deans Office to sign the document or had it brought to their
classrooms in the College of Law, or to their offices or residences. Still other faculty members
who, for one reason or another, were unable to sign Restoring Integrity I at that time,
nevertheless conveyed to Dean Leonen their assurances that they would sign as soon as they
could manage.

2.5. Sometime in the second week of August, judging that Restoring Integrity I had been
circulated long enough, Dean Leonen instructed his staff to reproduce the statement in a style
and manner appropriate for posting in the College of Law. Following his own established practice
in relation to significant public issuances, he directed them to reformat the signing pages so that
only the names of those who signed the first printed draft would appear, together with the
corresponding "(SGD.)" note following each name. Restoring Integrity II thus came into being.88

According to Dean Leonen, the "practice of eliminating blanks opposite or above the names of
non-signatories in the final draft of significant public issuances, is meant not so much for
aesthetic considerations as to secure the integrity of such documents."89 He likewise claimed
that "[p]osting statements with blanks would be an open invitation to vandals and pranksters."90

With respect to the inclusion of Justice Mendozas name as among the signatories in Restoring
Integrity II when in fact he did not sign Restoring Integrity I, Dean Leonen attributed the mistake
to a miscommunication involving his administrative officer. In his Compliance, he narrated that:

2.7. Upon being presented with a draft of Restoring Integrity II with the reformatted signing
pages, Dean Leonen noticed the inclusion of the name of Justice Mendoza among the "(SGD.)"
signatories. As Justice Mendoza was not among those who had physically signed Restoring
Integrity I when it was previously circulated, Dean Leonen called the attention of his staff to the
inclusion of the Justices name among the "(SGD.)" signatories in Restoring Integrity II.

2.8. Dean Leonen was told by his administrative officer that she had spoken to Justice Mendoza
over the phone on Friday, 06 August 2010. According to her, Justice Mendoza had authorized the
dean to sign the Restoring Integrity Statement for him as he agreed fundamentally with its
contents. Also according to her, Justice Mendoza was unable at that time to sign the Restoring
Integrity Statement himself as he was leaving for the United States the following week. It would
later turn out that this account was not entirely accurate.91 (Underscoring and italics supplied.)

Dean Leonen claimed that he "had no reason to doubt his administrative officer, however, and so
placed full reliance on her account"92 as "[t]here were indeed other faculty members who had
also authorized the Dean to indicate that they were signatories, even though they were at that
time unable to affix their signatures physically to the document."93

However, after receiving the Show Cause Resolution, Dean Leonen and his staff reviewed the
circumstances surrounding their effort to secure Justice Mendozas signature. It would turn out
that this was what actually transpired:

2.22.1. On Friday, 06 August 2010, when the deans staff talked to Justice Mendoza on the
phone, he [Justice Mendoza] indeed initially agreed to sign the Restoring Integrity Statement as
he fundamentally agreed with its contents. However, Justice Mendoza did not exactly say that he
authorized the dean to sign the Restoring Integrity Statement. Rather, he inquired if he could
authorize the dean to sign it for him as he was about to leave for the United States. The deans
staff informed him that they would, at any rate, still try to bring the Restoring Integrity Statement
to him.

2.22.2. Due to some administrative difficulties, Justice Mendoza was unable to sign the Restoring
Integrity Statement before he left for the U.S. the following week.

2.22.3. The staff was able to bring Restoring Integrity III to Justice Mendoza when he went to the
College to teach on 24 September 2010, a day after his arrival from the U.S. This time, Justice
Mendoza declined to sign.94

According to the Dean:

2.23. It was only at this time that Dean Leonen realized the true import of the call he received
from Justice Mendoza in late September. Indeed, Justice Mendoza confirmed that by the time the
hard copy of the Restoring Integrity Statement was brought to him shortly after his arrival from
the U.S., he declined to sign it because it had already become controversial. At that time, he
predicted that the Court would take some form of action against the faculty. By then, and under
those circumstances, he wanted to show due deference to the Honorable Court, being a former

Associate Justice and not wishing to unduly aggravate the situation by signing the Statement.95
(Emphases supplied.)

With respect to the omission of Atty. Armovits name in the signature page of Restoring Integrity
II when he was one of the signatories of Restoring Integrity I and the erroneous description in
Dean Leonens August 10, 2010 letter that the version of the Statement submitted to the Court
was signed by 38 members of the UP Law Faculty, it was explained in the Compliance that:

Respondent Atty. Miguel Armovit physically signed Restoring Integrity I when it was circulated to
him. However, his name was inadvertently left out by Dean Leonens staff in the reformatting of
the signing pages in Restoring Integrity II. The dean assumed that his name was still included in
the reformatted signing pages, and so mentioned in his cover note to Chief Justice Corona that
38 members of the law faculty signed (the original 37 plus Justice Mendoza.)96

Dean Leonen argues that he should not be deemed to have submitted a dummy of the
Statement that was not a true and faithful reproduction of the same. He emphasized that the
main body of the Statement was unchanged in all its three versions and only the signature pages
were not the same. This purportedly is merely "reflective of [the Statements] essential nature as
a live public manifesto meant to continuously draw adherents to its message, its signatory
portion is necessarily evolving and dynamic x x x many other printings of [the Statement] may
be made in the future, each one reflecting the same text but with more and more signatories."97
Adverting to criminal law by analogy, Dean Leonen claims that "this is not an instance where it
has been made to appear in a document that a person has participated in an act when the latter
did not in fact so participate"98 for he "did not misrepresent which members of the faculty of the
UP College of Law had agreed with the Restoring Integrity Statement proper and/or had
expressed their desire to be signatories thereto."99

In this regard, Dean Leonen believes that he had not committed any violation of Canon 10 or
Rules 10.01 and 10.02 for he did not mislead nor misrepresent to the Court the contents of the
Statement or the identities of the UP Law faculty members who agreed with, or expressed their
desire to be signatories to, the Statement. He also asserts that he did not commit any violation
of Rule 10.03 as he "coursed [the Statement] through the appropriate channels by transmitting
the same to Honorable Chief Justice Corona for the latters information and proper disposition
with the hope that its points would be duly considered by the Honorable Court en banc."100
Citing Rudecon Management Corporation v. Camacho,101 Dean Leonen posits that the required
quantum of proof has not been met in this case and that no dubious character or motivation for
the act complained of existed to warrant an administrative sanction for violation of the standard
of honesty provided for by the Code of Professional Responsibility.102

Dean Leonen ends his Compliance with an enumeration of nearly identical reliefs as the Common
Compliance, including the prayers for a hearing and for access to the records, evidence and
witnesses allegedly relevant not only in this case but also in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC, the ethical
investigation involving Justice Del Castillo.

Manifestation of Prof. Owen Lynch (Lynch Manifestation)

For his part, Prof. Owen Lynch (Prof. Lynch) manifests to this Court that he is not a member of the
Philippine bar; but he is a member of the bar of the State of Minnesota. He alleges that he first
taught as a visiting professor at the UP College of Law in 1981 to 1988 and returned in the same

capacity in 2010. He further alleges that "[h]e subscribes to the principle, espoused by this Court
and the Supreme Court of the United States, that [d]ebate on public issues should be
uninhibited, robust and wide open and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and
sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials."103 In signing the
Statement, he believes that "the right to speak means the right to speak effectively."104 Citing
the dissenting opinions in Manila Public School Teachers Association v. Laguio, Jr.,105 Prof. Lynch
argued that "[f]or speech to be effective, it must be forceful enough to make the intended
recipients listen"106 and "[t]he quality of education would deteriorate in an atmosphere of
repression, when the very teachers who are supposed to provide an example of courage and selfassertiveness to their pupils can speak only in timorous whispers."107 Relying on the doctrine in
In the Matter of Petition for Declaratory Relief Re: Constitutionality of Republic Act 4880,
Gonzales v. Commission on Elections,108 Prof. Lynch believed that the Statement did not pose
any danger, clear or present, of any substantive evil so as to remove it from the protective
mantle of the Bill of Rights (i.e., referring to the constitutional guarantee on free speech).109 He
also stated that he "has read the Compliance of the other respondents to the Show Cause
Resolution" and that "he signed the Restoring Integrity Statement for the same reasons they
did."110

ISSUES

Based on the Show Cause Resolution and a perusal of the submissions of respondents, the
material issues to be resolved in this case are as follows:

1.) Does the Show Cause Resolution deny respondents their freedom of expression?

2.) Does the Show Cause Resolution violate respondents academic freedom as law professors?

3.) Do the submissions of respondents satisfactorily explain why they should not be disciplined
as Members of the Bar under Canons 1, 11, and 13 and Rules 1.02 and 11.05 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility?

4.) Does the separate Compliance of Dean Leonen satisfactorily explain why he should not be
disciplined as a Member of the Bar under Canon 10, Rules 10.01, 10.02 and 10.03?

5.) Are respondents entitled to have the Show Cause Resolution set for hearing and in relation to
such hearing, are respondents entitled to require the production or presentation of evidence
bearing on the plagiarism and misrepresentation issues in the Vinuya case (G.R. No. 162230) and
the ethics case against Justice Del Castillo (A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC) and to have access to the
records and transcripts of, and the witnesses and evidence presented, or could have been
presented, in the ethics case against Justice Del Castillo (A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC)?

DISCUSSION

The Show Cause Resolution does not deny respondents their freedom of expression.

It is respondents collective claim that the Court, with the issuance of the Show Cause Resolution,
has interfered with respondents constitutionally mandated right to free speech and expression.
It appears that the underlying assumption behind respondents assertion is the misconception
that this Court is denying them the right to criticize the Courts decisions and actions, and that
this Court seeks to "silence" respondent law professors dissenting view on what they
characterize as a "legitimate public issue."

This is far from the truth. A reading of the Show Cause Resolution will plainly show that it was
neither the fact that respondents had criticized a decision of the Court nor that they had charged
one of its members of plagiarism that motivated the said Resolution. It was the manner of the
criticism and the contumacious language by which respondents, who are not parties nor counsels
in the Vinuya case, have expressed their opinion in favor of the petitioners in the said pending
case for the "proper disposition" and consideration of the Court that gave rise to said Resolution.
The Show Cause Resolution painstakingly enumerated the statements that the Court considered
excessive and uncalled for under the circumstances surrounding the issuance, publication, and
later submission to this Court of the UP Law facultys Restoring Integrity Statement.

To reiterate, it was not the circumstance that respondents expressed a belief that Justice Del
Castillo was guilty of plagiarism but rather their expression of that belief as "not only as an
established fact, but a truth"111 when it was "[o]f public knowledge [that there was] an ongoing
investigation precisely to determine the truth of such allegations."112 It was also pointed out in
the Show Cause Resolution that there was a pending motion for reconsideration of the Vinuya
decision.113 The Show Cause Resolution made no objections to the portions of the Restoring
Integrity Statement that respondents claimed to be "constructive" but only asked respondents to
explain those portions of the said Statement that by no stretch of the imagination could be
considered as fair or constructive, to wit:

Beyond this, however, the statement bore certain remarks which raise concern for the Court. The
opening sentence alone is a grim preamble to the institutional attack that lay ahead. It reads:

An extraordinary act of injustice has again been committed against the brave Filipinas who had
suffered abuse during a time of war.

The first paragraph concludes with a reference to the decision in Vinuya v. Executive Secretary as
a reprehensible act of dishonesty and misrepresentation by the Highest Court of the land. x x x.

The insult to the members of the Court was aggravated by imputations of deliberately delaying
the resolution of the said case, its dismissal on the basis of "polluted sources," the Courts
alleged indifference to the cause of petitioners [in the Vinuya case], as well as the supposed
alarming lack of concern of the members of the Court for even the most basic values of decency
and respect.114 x x x. (Underscoring ours.)

To be sure, the Show Cause Resolution itself recognized respondents freedom of expression
when it stated that:

While most agree that the right to criticize the judiciary is critical to maintaining a free and
democratic society, there is also a general consensus that healthy criticism only goes so far.
Many types of criticism leveled at the judiciary cross the line to become harmful and
irresponsible attacks. These potentially devastating attacks and unjust criticism can threaten the
independence of the judiciary. The court must "insist on being permitted to proceed to the
disposition of its business in an orderly manner, free from outside interference obstructive of its
functions and tending to embarrass the administration of justice."

The Court could hardly perceive any reasonable purpose for the facultys less than objective
comments except to discredit the April 28, 2010 Decision in the Vinuya case and undermine the
Courts honesty, integrity and competence in addressing the motion for its reconsideration. As if
the case on the comfort womens claims is not controversial enough, the UP Law faculty would
fan the flames and invite resentment against a resolution that would not reverse the said
decision. This runs contrary to their obligation as law professors and officers of the Court to be
the first to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court, to which they owe fidelity according to
the oath they have taken as attorneys, and not to promote distrust in the administration of
justice.115 x x x. (Citations omitted; emphases and underscoring supplied.)

Indeed, in a long line of cases, including those cited in respondents submissions, this Court has
held that the right to criticize the courts and judicial officers must be balanced against the
equally primordial concern that the independence of the Judiciary be protected from due
influence or interference. In cases where the critics are not only citizens but members of the Bar,
jurisprudence has repeatedly affirmed the authority of this Court to discipline lawyers whose
statements regarding the courts and fellow lawyers, whether judicial or extrajudicial, have
exceeded the limits of fair comment and common decency.

As early as the 1935 case of Salcedo v. Hernandez,116 the Court found Atty. Vicente J. Francisco
both guilty of contempt and liable administratively for the following paragraph in his second
motion for reconsideration:

We should like frankly and respectfully to make it of record that the resolution of this court,
denying our motion for reconsideration, is absolutely erroneous and constitutes an outrage to the
rights of the petitioner Felipe Salcedo and a mockery of the popular will expressed at the polls in
the municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas. We wish to exhaust all the means within our power in order
that this error may be corrected by the very court which has committed it, because we should
not want that some citizen, particularly some voter of the municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas, resort
to the press publicly to denounce, as he has a right to do, the judicial outrage of which the herein
petitioner has been the victim, and because it is our utmost desire to safeguard the prestige of
this honorable court and of each and every member thereof in the eyes of the public. But, at the
same time we wish to state sincerely that erroneous decisions like these, which the affected
party and his thousands of voters will necessarily consider unjust, increase the proselytes of
'sakdalism' and make the public lose confidence in the administration of justice.117 (Emphases
supplied.)

The highlighted phrases were considered by the Court as neither justified nor necessary and
further held that:

[I]n order to call the attention of the court in a special way to the essential points relied upon in
his argument and to emphasize the force thereof, the many reasons stated in his said motion
were sufficient and the phrases in question were superfluous. In order to appeal to reason and
justice, it is highly improper and amiss to make trouble and resort to threats, as Attorney Vicente

J. Francisco has done, because both means are annoying and good practice can never sanction
them by reason of their natural tendency to disturb and hinder the free exercise of a serene and
impartial judgment, particularly in judicial matters, in the consideration of questions submitted
for resolution.

There is no question that said paragraph of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco's motion contains a
more or less veiled threat to the court because it is insinuated therein, after the author shows the
course which the voters of Tiaong should follow in case he fails in his attempt, that they will
resort to the press for the purpose of denouncing, what he claims to be a judicial outrage of
which his client has been the victim; and because he states in a threatening manner with the
intention of predisposing the mind of the reader against the court, thus creating an atmosphere
of prejudices against it in order to make it odious in the public eye, that decisions of the nature of
that referred to in his motion promote distrust in the administration of justice and increase the
proselytes of sakdalism, a movement with seditious and revolutionary tendencies the activities of
which, as is of public knowledge, occurred in this country a few days ago. This cannot mean
otherwise than contempt of the dignity of the court and disrespect of the authority thereof on the
part of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, because he presumes that the court is so devoid of the
sense of justice that, if he did not resort to intimidation, it would maintain its error
notwithstanding the fact that it may be proven, with good reasons, that it has acted
erroneously.118 (Emphases supplied.)

Significantly, Salcedo is the decision from which respondents culled their quote from the minority
view of Justice Malcolm. Moreover, Salcedo concerned statements made in a pleading filed by a
counsel in a case, unlike the respondents here, who are neither parties nor counsels in the
Vinuya case and therefore, do not have any standing at all to interfere in the Vinuya case.
Instead of supporting respondents theory, Salcedo is authority for the following principle:

As a member of the bar and an officer of this court, Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, as any
attorney, is in duty bound to uphold its dignity and authority and to defend its integrity, not only
because it has conferred upon him the high privilege, not a right (Malcolm, Legal Ethics, 158 and
160), of being what he now is: a priest of justice (In re Thatcher, 80 Ohio St. Rep., 492, 669), but
also because in so doing, he neither creates nor promotes distrust in the administration of
justice, and prevents anybody from harboring and encouraging discontent which, in many cases,
is the source of disorder, thus undermining the foundation upon which rests that bulwark called
judicial power to which those who are aggrieved turn for protection and relief.119 (Emphases
supplied.)

Thus, the lawyer in Salcedo was fined and reprimanded for his injudicious statements in his
pleading, by accusing the Court of "erroneous ruling." Here, the respondents Statement goes
way beyond merely ascribing error to the Court.

Other cases cited by respondents likewise espouse rulings contrary to their position. In re: Atty.
Vicente Raul Almacen,120 cited in the Common Compliance and the Vasquez Compliance, was
an instance where the Court indefinitely suspended a member of the Bar for filing and releasing
to the press a "Petition to Surrender Lawyers Certificate of Title" in protest of what he claimed
was a great injustice to his client committed by the Supreme Court. In the decision, the petition
was described, thus:

He indicts this Court, in his own phrase, as a tribunal "peopled by men who are calloused to our
pleas for justice, who ignore without reasons their own applicable decisions and commit culpable
violations of the Constitution with impunity." His client's he continues, who was deeply aggrieved

by this Court's "unjust judgment," has become "one of the sacrificial victims before the altar of
hypocrisy." In the same breath that he alludes to the classic symbol of justice, he ridicules the
members of this Court, saying "that justice as administered by the present members of the
Supreme Court is not only blind, but also deaf and dumb." He then vows to argue the cause of
his client "in the people's forum," so that "the people may know of the silent injustices
committed by this Court," and that "whatever mistakes, wrongs and injustices that were
committed must never be repeated." He ends his petition with a prayer that

"x x x a resolution issue ordering the Clerk of Court to receive the certificate of the undersigned
attorney and counsellor-at-law IN TRUST with reservation that at any time in the future and in the
event we regain our faith and confidence, we may retrieve our title to assume the practice of the
noblest profession."121

It is true that in Almacen the Court extensively discussed foreign jurisprudence on the principle
that a lawyer, just like any citizen, has the right to criticize and comment upon actuations of
public officers, including judicial authority. However, the real doctrine in Almacen is that such
criticism of the courts, whether done in court or outside of it, must conform to standards of
fairness and propriety. This case engaged in an even more extensive discussion of the legal
authorities sustaining this view.1awphi1 To quote from that decision:

But it is the cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall be bona fide, and shall not spill
over the walls of decency and propriety. A wide chasm exists between fair criticism, on the one
hand, and abuse and slander of courts and the judges thereof, on the other. Intemperate and
unfair criticism is a gross violation of the duty of respect to courts. It is such a misconduct that
subjects a lawyer to disciplinary action.

For, membership in the Bar imposes upon a person obligations and duties which are not mere
flux and ferment. His investiture into the legal profession places upon his shoulders no burden
more basic, more exacting and more imperative than that of respectful behavior toward the
courts. He vows solemnly to conduct himself "with all good fidelity x x x to the courts;" and the
Rules of Court constantly remind him "to observe and maintain the respect due to courts of
justice and judicial officers." The first canon of legal ethics enjoins him "to maintain towards the
courts a respectful attitude, not for the sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office,
but for the maintenance of its supreme importance."

As Mr. Justice Field puts it:

"x x x the obligation which attorneys impliedly assume, if they do not by express declaration take
upon themselves, when they are admitted to the Bar, is not merely to be obedient to the
Constitution and laws, but to maintain at all times the respect due to courts of justice and judicial
officers. This obligation is not discharged by merely observing the rules of courteous demeanor
in open court, but includes abstaining out of court from all insulting language and offensive
conduct toward judges personally for their judicial acts." (Bradley, v. Fisher, 20 Law. 4d. 647,
652)

The lawyer's duty to render respectful subordination to the courts is essential to the orderly
administration of justice. Hence, in the assertion of their clients' rights, lawyers even those
gifted with superior intellect are enjoined to rein up their tempers.

"The counsel in any case may or may not be an abler or more learned lawyer than the judge, and
it may tax his patience and temper to submit to rulings which he regards as incorrect, but
discipline and self-respect are as necessary to the orderly administration of justice as they are to
the effectiveness of an army. The decisions of the judge must be obeyed, because he is the
tribunal appointed to decide, and the bar should at all times be the foremost in rendering
respectful submission." (In Re Scouten, 40 Atl. 481)

xxxx

In his relations with the courts, a lawyer may not divide his personality so as to be an attorney at
one time and a mere citizen at another. Thus, statements made by an attorney in private
conversations or communications or in the course of a political campaign, if couched in insulting
language as to bring into scorn and disrepute the administration of justice, may subject the
attorney to disciplinary action.122 (Emphases and underscoring supplied.)

In a similar vein, In re: Vicente Sotto,123 cited in the Vasquez Compliance, observed that:

[T]his Court, in In re Kelly, held the following:

The publication of a criticism of a party or of the court to a pending cause, respecting the same,
has always been considered as misbehavior, tending to obstruct the administration of justice,
and subjects such persons to contempt proceedings. Parties have a constitutional right to have
their causes tried fairly in court, by an impartial tribunal, uninfluenced by publications or public
clamor. Every citizen has a profound personal interest in the enforcement of the fundamental
right to have justice administered by the courts, under the protection and forms of law, free from
outside coercion or interference. x x x.

Mere criticism or comment on the correctness or wrongness, soundness or unsoundness of the


decision of the court in a pending case made in good faith may be tolerated; because if well
founded it may enlighten the court and contribute to the correction of an error if committed; but
if it is not well taken and obviously erroneous, it should, in no way, influence the court in
reversing or modifying its decision. x x x.

xxxx

To hurl the false charge that this Court has been for the last years committing deliberately "so
many blunders and injustices," that is to say, that it has been deciding in favor of one party
knowing that the law and justice is on the part of the adverse party and not on the one in whose
favor the decision was rendered, in many cases decided during the last years, would tend
necessarily to undermine the confidence of the people in the honesty and integrity of the
members of this Court, and consequently to lower or degrade the administration of justice by this
Court. The Supreme Court of the Philippines is, under the Constitution, the last bulwark to which
the Filipino people may repair to obtain relief for their grievances or protection of their rights
when these are trampled upon, and if the people lose their confidence in the honesty and

integrity of the members of this Court and believe that they cannot expect justice therefrom,
they might be driven to take the law into their own hands, and disorder and perhaps chaos might
be the result. As a member of the bar and an officer of the courts Atty. Vicente Sotto, like any
other, is in duty bound to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court, to which he owes fidelity
according to the oath he has taken as such attorney, and not to promote distrust in the
administration of justice. Respect to the courts guarantees the stability of other institutions,
which without such guaranty would be resting on a very shaky foundation.124 (Emphases and
underscoring supplied.)

That the doctrinal pronouncements in these early cases are still good law can be easily gleaned
even from more recent jurisprudence.

In Choa v. Chiongson,125 the Court administratively disciplined a lawyer, through the imposition
of a fine, for making malicious and unfounded criticisms of a judge in the guise of an
administrative complaint and held, thus:

As an officer of the court and its indispensable partner in the sacred task of administering justice,
graver responsibility is imposed upon a lawyer than any other to uphold the integrity of the
courts and to show respect to its officers. This does not mean, however, that a lawyer cannot
criticize a judge. As we stated in Tiongco vs. Hon. Aguilar:

It does not, however, follow that just because a lawyer is an officer of the court, he cannot
criticize the courts. That is his right as a citizen, and it is even his duty as an officer of the court
to avail of such right. Thus, in In Re: Almacen (31 SCRA 562, 579-580 [1970]), this Court explicitly
declared:

Hence, as a citizen and as officer of the court, a lawyer is expected not only to exercise the right,
but also to consider it his duty to avail of such right. No law may abridge this right. Nor is he
"professionally answerable to a scrutiny into the official conduct of the judges, which would not
expose him to legal animadversion as a citizen." (Case of Austin, 28 Am Dec. 657, 665).

xxxx

Nevertheless, such a right is not without limit. For, as this Court warned in Almacen:

But it is a cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall be bona fide, and shall not spill over
the walls of decency and propriety. A wide chasm exists between fair criticism, on the one hand,
and abuse and slander of courts and the judges thereof, on the other. Intemperate and unfair
criticism is a gross violation of the duty of respect to courts. It is such a misconduct, that subjects
a lawyer to disciplinary action.

xxxx

Elsewise stated, the right to criticize, which is guaranteed by the freedom of speech and of
expression in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution, must be exercised responsibly, for every right
carries with it a corresponding obligation. Freedom is not freedom from responsibility, but
freedom with responsibility. x x x.

xxxx

Proscribed then are, inter alia, the use of unnecessary language which jeopardizes high esteem
in courts, creates or promotes distrust in judicial administration (Rheem, supra), or tends
necessarily to undermine the confidence of people in the integrity of the members of this Court
and to degrade the administration of justice by this Court (In re: Sotto, 82 Phil. 595 [1949]); or of
offensive and abusive language (In re: Rafael Climaco, 55 SCRA 107 [1974]); or abrasive and
offensive language (Yangson vs. Salandanan, 68 SCRA 42 [1975]; or of disrespectful, offensive,
manifestly baseless, and malicious statements in pleadings or in a letter addressed to the judge
(Baja vs. Macandog, 158 SCRA [1988], citing the resolution of 19 January 1988 in Phil. Public
Schools Teachers Association vs. Quisumbing, G.R. No. 76180, and Ceniza vs. Sebastian, 130
SCRA 295 [1984]); or of disparaging, intemperate, and uncalled-for remarks (Sangalang vs.
Intermediate Appellate Court, 177 SCRA 87 [1989]).

Any criticism against a judge made in the guise of an administrative complaint which is clearly
unfounded and impelled by ulterior motive will not excuse the lawyer responsible therefor under
his duty of fidelity to his client. x x x.126 (Emphases and underscoring supplied.)

In Saberon v. Larong,127 where this Court found respondent lawyer guilty of simple misconduct
for using intemperate language in his pleadings and imposed a fine upon him, we had the
occasion to state:

The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates:

CANON 8 - A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor toward his
professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel.

Rule 8.01 - A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive,
offensive or otherwise improper.

CANON 11 - A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial
officers and should insist on similar conduct by others.

Rule 11.03 - A lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing language or behavior
before the Courts.

To be sure, the adversarial nature of our legal system has tempted members of the bar to use
strong language in pursuit of their duty to advance the interests of their clients.

However, while a lawyer is entitled to present his case with vigor and courage, such enthusiasm
does not justify the use of offensive and abusive language. Language abounds with countless
possibilities for one to be emphatic but respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating
but not offensive.

On many occasions, the Court has reminded members of the Bar 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. In keeping with the dignity
of the legal profession, a lawyers language even in his pleadings must be dignified.128

Verily, the accusatory and vilifying nature of certain portions of the Statement exceeded the
limits of fair comment and cannot be deemed as protected free speech. Even In the Matter of
Petition for Declaratory Relief Re: Constitutionality of Republic Act 4880, Gonzales v. Commission
on Elections,129 relied upon by respondents in the Common Compliance, held that:

From the language of the specific constitutional provision, it would appear that the right is not
susceptible of any limitation. No law may be passed abridging the freedom of speech and of the
press. The realities of life in a complex society preclude however a literal interpretation. Freedom
of expression is not an absolute. It would be too much to insist that at all times and under all
circumstances it should remain unfettered and unrestrained. There are other societal values that
press for recognition. x x x.130 (Emphasis supplied.)

One such societal value that presses for recognition in the case at bar is the threat to judicial
independence and the orderly administration of justice that immoderate, reckless and unfair
attacks on judicial decisions and institutions pose. This Court held as much in Zaldivar v.
Sandiganbayan and Gonzales,131 where we indefinitely suspended a lawyer from the practice of
law for issuing to the media statements grossly disrespectful towards the Court in relation to a
pending case, to wit:

Respondent Gonzales is entitled to the constitutional guarantee of free speech. No one seeks to
deny him that right, least of all this Court. What respondent seems unaware of is that freedom of
speech and of expression, like all constitutional freedoms, is not absolute and that freedom of
expression needs on occasion to be adjusted to and accommodated with the requirements of
equally important public interest. One of these fundamental public interests is the maintenance
of the integrity and orderly functioning of the administration of justice. There is no antinomy
between free expression and the integrity of the system of administering justice. For the
protection and maintenance of freedom of expression itself can be secured only within the
context of a functioning and orderly system of dispensing justice, within the context, in other
words, of viable independent institutions for delivery of justice which are accepted by the general
community. x x x.132 (Emphases supplied.)

For this reason, the Court cannot uphold the view of some respondents133 that the Statement
presents no grave or imminent danger to a legitimate public interest.

The Show Cause Resolution does not interfere with respondents academic freedom.

It is not contested that respondents herein are, by law and jurisprudence, guaranteed academic
freedom and undisputably, they are free to determine what they will teach their students and
how they will teach. We must point out that there is nothing in the Show Cause Resolution that
dictates upon respondents the subject matter they can teach and the manner of their instruction.
Moreover, it is not inconsistent with the principle of academic freedom for this Court to subject
lawyers who teach law to disciplinary action for contumacious conduct and speech, coupled with
undue intervention in favor of a party in a pending case, without observing proper procedure,
even if purportedly done in their capacity as teachers.

A novel issue involved in the present controversy, for it has not been passed upon in any
previous case before this Court, is the question of whether lawyers who are also law professors
can invoke academic freedom as a defense in an administrative proceeding for intemperate
statements tending to pressure the Court or influence the outcome of a case or degrade the
courts.

Applying by analogy the Courts past treatment of the "free speech" defense in other bar
discipline cases, academic freedom cannot be successfully invoked by respondents in this case.
The implicit ruling in the jurisprudence discussed above is that the constitutional right to freedom
of expression of members of the Bar may be circumscribed by their ethical duties as lawyers to
give due respect to the courts and to uphold the publics faith in the legal profession and the
justice system. To our mind, the reason that freedom of expression may be so delimited in the
case of lawyers applies with greater force to the academic freedom of law professors.

It would do well for the Court to remind respondents that, in view of the broad definition in
Cayetano v. Monsod,134 lawyers when they teach law are considered engaged in the practice of
law. Unlike professors in other disciplines and more than lawyers who do not teach law,
respondents are bound by their oath to uphold the ethical standards of the legal profession.
Thus, their actions as law professors must be measured against the same canons of professional
responsibility applicable to acts of members of the Bar as the fact of their being law professors is
inextricably entwined with the fact that they are lawyers.

Even if the Court was willing to accept respondents proposition in the Common Compliance that
their issuance of the Statement was in keeping with their duty to "participate in the development
of the legal system by initiating or supporting efforts in law reform and in the improvement of the
administration of justice" under Canon 4 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, we cannot
agree that they have fulfilled that same duty in keeping with the demands of Canons 1, 11 and
13 to give due respect to legal processes and the courts, and to avoid conduct that tends to
influence the courts. Members of the Bar cannot be selective regarding which canons to abide by
given particular situations. With more reason that law professors are not allowed this indulgence,
since they are expected to provide their students exemplars of the Code of Professional
Responsibility as a whole and not just their preferred portions thereof.

The Courts rulings on the submissions regarding the charge of violation of Canons 1, 11 and 13.

Having disposed of respondents main arguments of freedom of expression and academic


freedom, the Court considers here the other averments in their submissions.

With respect to good faith, respondents allegations presented two main ideas: (a) the validity of
their position regarding the plagiarism charge against Justice Del Castillo, and (b) their pure
motive to spur this Court to take the correct action on said issue.

The Court has already clarified that it is not the expression of respondents staunch belief that
Justice Del Castillo has committed a misconduct that the majority of this Court has found so
unbecoming in the Show Cause Resolution. No matter how firm a lawyers conviction in the
righteousness of his cause there is simply no excuse for denigrating the courts and engaging in
public behavior that tends to put the courts and the legal profession into disrepute. This doctrine,
which we have repeatedly upheld in such cases as Salcedo, In re Almacen and Saberong, should
be applied in this case with more reason, as the respondents, not parties to the Vinuya case,
denounced the Court and urged it to change its decision therein, in a public statement using
contumacious language, which with temerity they subsequently submitted to the Court for
"proper disposition."

That humiliating the Court into reconsidering the Vinuya Decision in favor of the Malaya Lolas
was one of the objectives of the Statement could be seen in the following paragraphs from the
same:

And in light of the significance of this decision to the quest for justice not only of Filipino women,
but of women elsewhere in the world who have suffered the horrors of sexual abuse and
exploitation in times of war, the Court cannot coldly deny relief and justice to the petitioners on
the basis of pilfered and misinterpreted texts.

xxxx

(3) The same breach and consequent disposition of the Vinuya case does violence to the
primordial function of the Supreme Court as the ultimate dispenser of justice to all those who
have been left without legal or equitable recourse, such as the petitioners therein.135
(Emphases and underscoring supplied.)

Whether or not respondents views regarding the plagiarism issue in the Vinuya case had valid
basis was wholly immaterial to their liability for contumacious speech and conduct. These are
two separate matters to be properly threshed out in separate proceedings. The Court considers it
highly inappropriate, if not tantamount to dissembling, the discussion devoted in one of the
compliances arguing the guilt of Justice Del Castillo. In the Common Compliance, respondents
even go so far as to attach documentary evidence to support the plagiarism charges against
Justice Del Castillo in the present controversy. The ethics case of Justice Del Castillo (A.M. No. 107-17-SC), with the filing of a motion for reconsideration, was still pending at the time of the filing
of respondents submissions in this administrative case. As respondents themselves admit, they
are neither parties nor counsels in the ethics case against Justice Del Castillo. Notwithstanding
their professed overriding interest in said ethics case, it is not proper procedure for respondents
to bring up their plagiarism arguments here especially when it has no bearing on their own
administrative case.

Still on motive, it is also proposed that the choice of language in the Statement was intended for
effective speech; that speech must be "forceful enough to make the intended recipients
listen."136 One wonders what sort of effect respondents were hoping for in branding this Court
as, among others, callous, dishonest and lacking in concern for the basic values of decency and
respect. The Court fails to see how it can ennoble the profession if we allow respondents to send
a signal to their students that the only way to effectively plead their cases and persuade others
to their point of view is to be offensive.

This brings to our mind the letters of Dr. Ellis and Prof. Tams which were deliberately quoted in
full in the narration of background facts to illustrate the sharp contrast between the civil tenor of
these letters and the antagonistic irreverence of the Statement. In truth, these foreign authors
are the ones who would expectedly be affected by any perception of misuse of their works.
Notwithstanding that they are beyond the disciplinary reach of this Court, they still obviously
took pains to convey their objections in a deferential and scholarly manner. It is unfathomable to
the Court why respondents could not do the same. These foreign authors letters underscore the
universality of the tenet that legal professionals must deal with each other in good faith and due
respect. The mark of the true intellectual is one who can express his opinions logically and
soberly without resort to exaggerated rhetoric and unproductive recriminations.

As for the claim that the respondents noble intention is to spur the Court to take "constructive
action" on the plagiarism issue, the Court has some doubts as to its veracity. For if the Statement
was primarily meant for this Courts consideration, why was the same published and reported in
the media first before it was submitted to this Court? It is more plausible that the Statement was
prepared for consumption by the general public and designed to capture media attention as part
of the effort to generate interest in the most controversial ground in the Supplemental Motion for
Reconsideration filed in the Vinuya case by Atty. Roque, who is respondents colleague on the UP
Law faculty.

In this regard, the Court finds that there was indeed a lack of observance of fidelity and due
respect to the Court, particularly when respondents knew fully well that the matter of plagiarism
in the Vinuya decision and the merits of the Vinuya decision itself, at the time of the Statements
issuance, were still both sub judice or pending final disposition of the Court. These facts have
been widely publicized. On this point, respondents allege that at the time the Statement was first
drafted on July 27, 2010, they did not know of the constitution of the Ethics Committee and they
had issued the Statement under the belief that this Court intended to take no action on the
ethics charge against Justice Del Castillo. Still, there was a significant lapse of time from the
drafting and printing of the Statement on July 27, 2010 and its publication and submission to this
Court in early August when the Ethics Committee had already been convened. If it is true that
the respondents outrage was fueled by their perception of indifference on the part of the Court
then, when it became known that the Court did intend to take action, there was nothing to
prevent respondents from recalibrating the Statement to take this supervening event into
account in the interest of fairness.

Speaking of the publicity this case has generated, we likewise find no merit in the respondents
reliance on various news reports and commentaries in the print media and the internet as proof
that they are being unfairly "singled out." On the contrary, these same annexes to the Common
Compliance show that it is not enough for one to criticize the Court to warrant the institution of
disciplinary137 or contempt138 action. This Court takes into account the nature of the criticism
and weighs the possible repercussions of the same on the Judiciary. When the criticism comes
from persons outside the profession who may not have a full grasp of legal issues or from
individuals whose personal or other interests in making the criticism are obvious, the Court may
perhaps tolerate or ignore them. However, when law professors are the ones who appear to have
lost sight of the boundaries of fair commentary and worse, would justify the same as an exercise
of civil liberties, this Court cannot remain silent for such silence would have a grave implication
on legal education in our country.

With respect to the 35 respondents named in the Common Compliance, considering that this
appears to be the first time these respondents have been involved in disciplinary proceedings of
this sort, the Court is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they were for the most
part well-intentioned in the issuance of the Statement. However, it is established in jurisprudence
that where the excessive and contumacious language used is plain and undeniable, then good
intent can only be mitigating. As this Court expounded in Salcedo:

In his defense, Attorney Vicente J. Francisco states that it was not his intention to offend the court
or to be recreant to the respect thereto but, unfortunately, there are his phrases which need no
further comment. Furthermore, it is a well settled rule in all places where the same conditions
and practice as those in this jurisdiction obtain, that want of intention is no excuse from liability
(13 C. J., 45). Neither is the fact that the phrases employed are justified by the facts a valid
defense:

"Where the matter is abusive or insulting, evidence that the language used was justified by the
facts is not admissible as a defense. Respect for the judicial office should always be observed
and enforced." (In re Stewart, 118 La., 827; 43 S., 455.) Said lack or want of intention constitutes
at most an extenuation of liability in this case, taking into consideration Attorney Vicente J.
Francisco's state of mind, according to him when he prepared said motion. This court is disposed
to make such concession. However, in order to avoid a recurrence thereof and to prevent others,
by following the bad example, from taking the same course, this court considers it imperative to
treat the case of said attorney with the justice it deserves.139 (Emphases supplied.)

Thus, the 35 respondents named in the Common Compliance should, notwithstanding their claim
of good faith, be reminded of their lawyerly duty, under Canons 1, 11 and 13, to give due respect
to the courts and to refrain from intemperate and offensive language tending to influence the
Court on pending matters or to denigrate the courts and the administration of justice.

With respect to Prof. Vasquez, the Court favorably notes the differences in his Compliance
compared to his colleagues. In our view, he was the only one among the respondents who
showed true candor and sincere deference to the Court. He was able to give a straightforward
account of how he came to sign the Statement. He was candid enough to state that his
agreement to the Statement was in principle and that the reason plagiarism was a "fair topic of
discussion" among the UP Law faculty prior to the promulgation of the October 12, 2010 Decision
in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC was the uncertainty brought about by a division of opinion on whether or
not willful or deliberate intent was an element of plagiarism. He was likewise willing to
acknowledge that he may have been remiss in failing to assess the effect of the language of the
Statement and could have used more care. He did all this without having to retract his position
on the plagiarism issue, without demands for undeserved reliefs (as will be discussed below) and
without baseless insinuations of deprivation of due process or of prejudgment. This is all that this
Court expected from respondents, not for them to sacrifice their principles but only that they
recognize that they themselves may have committed some ethical lapse in this affair. We
commend Prof. Vaquez for showing that at least one of the respondents can grasp the true
import of the Show Cause Resolution involving them. For these reasons, the Court finds Prof.
Vasquezs Compliance satisfactory.

As for Prof. Lynch, in view of his Manifestation that he is a member of the Bar of the State of
Minnesota and, therefore, not under the disciplinary authority of this Court, he should be excused
from these proceedings. However, he should be reminded that while he is engaged as a
professor in a Philippine law school he should strive to be a model of responsible and professional
conduct to his students even without the threat of sanction from this Court. For even if one is not

bound by the Code of Professional Responsibility for members of the Philippine Bar, civility and
respect among legal professionals of any nationality should be aspired for under universal
standards of decency and fairness.

The Courts ruling on Dean Leonens Compliance regarding the charge of violation of Canon 10.

To recall, the Show Cause Resolution directed Dean Leonen to show cause why he should not be
disciplinary dealt with for violation of Canon 10, Rules 10.01, 10.02 and 10.03 and for submitting
a "dummy" that was not a true and faithful reproduction of the signed Statement.

In his Compliance, Dean Leonen essentially denies that Restoring Integrity II was not a true and
faithful reproduction of the actual signed copy, Restoring Integrity I, because looking at the text
or the body, there were no differences between the two. He attempts to downplay the
discrepancies in the signature pages of the two versions of the Statement (i.e., Restoring
Integrity I and Restoring Integrity II) by claiming that it is but expected in "live" public manifestos
with dynamic and evolving pages as more and more signatories add their imprimatur thereto. He
likewise stresses that he is not administratively liable because he did not misrepresent the
members of the UP Law faculty who "had agreed with the Restoring Integrity Statement proper
and/or who had expressed their desire to be signatories thereto."140

To begin with, the Court cannot subscribe to Dean Leonens implied view that the signatures in
the Statement are not as significant as its contents. Live public manifesto or not, the Statement
was formally submitted to this Court at a specific point in time and it should reflect accurately its
signatories at that point. The value of the Statement as a UP Law Faculty Statement lies precisely
in the identities of the persons who have signed it, since the Statements persuasive authority
mainly depends on the reputation and stature of the persons who have endorsed the same.
Indeed, it is apparent from respondents explanations that their own belief in the "importance" of
their positions as UP law professors prompted them to publicly speak out on the matter of the
plagiarism issue in the Vinuya case.

Further, in our assessment, the true cause of Dean Leonens predicament is the fact that he did
not from the beginning submit the signed copy, Restoring Integrity I, to this Court on August 11,
2010 and, instead, submitted Restoring Integrity II with its retyped or "reformatted" signature
pages. It would turn out, according to Dean Leonens account, that there were errors in the
retyping of the signature pages due to lapses of his unnamed staff. First, an unnamed
administrative officer in the deans office gave the dean inaccurate information that led him to
allow the inclusion of Justice Mendoza as among the signatories of Restoring Integrity II. Second,
an unnamed staff also failed to type the name of Atty. Armovit when encoding the signature
pages of Restoring Integrity II when in fact he had signed Restoring Integrity I.

The Court can understand why for purposes of posting on a bulletin board or a website a signed
document may have to be reformatted and signatures may be indicated by the notation (SGD).
This is not unusual. We are willing to accept that the reformatting of documents meant for
posting to eliminate blanks is necessitated by vandalism concerns.

However, what is unusual is the submission to a court, especially this Court, of a signed
document for the Courts consideration that did not contain the actual signatures of its authors.
In most cases, it is the original signed document that is transmitted to the Court or at the very
least a photocopy of the actual signed document. Dean Leonen has not offered any explanation

why he deviated from this practice with his submission to the Court of Restoring Integrity II on
August 11, 2010. There was nothing to prevent the dean from submitting Restoring Integrity I to
this Court even with its blanks and unsigned portions. Dean Leonen cannot claim fears of
vandalism with respect to court submissions for court employees are accountable for the care of
documents and records that may come into their custody. Yet, Dean Leonen deliberately chose to
submit to this Court the facsimile that did not contain the actual signatures and his silence on
the reason therefor is in itself a display of lack of candor.

Still, a careful reading of Dean Leonens explanations yield the answer. In the course of his
explanation of his willingness to accept his administrative officers claim that Justice Mendoza
agreed to be indicated as a signatory, Dean Leonen admits in a footnote that other professors
had likewise only authorized him to indicate them as signatories and had not in fact signed the
Statement. Thus, at around the time Restoring Integrity II was printed, posted and submitted to
this Court, at least one purported signatory thereto had not actually signed the same. Contrary
to Dean Leonens proposition, that is precisely tantamount to making it appear to this Court that
a person or persons participated in an act when such person or persons did not.

We are surprised that someone like Dean Leonen, with his reputation for perfection and stringent
standards of intellectual honesty, could proffer the explanation that there was no
misrepresentation when he allowed at least one person to be indicated as having actually signed
the Statement when all he had was a verbal communication of an intent to sign. In the case of
Justice Mendoza, what he had was only hearsay information that the former intended to sign the
Statement. If Dean Leonen was truly determined to observe candor and truthfulness in his
dealings with the Court, we see no reason why he could not have waited until all the professors
who indicated their desire to sign the Statement had in fact signed before transmitting the
Statement to the Court as a duly signed document. If it was truly impossible to secure some
signatures, such as that of Justice Mendoza who had to leave for abroad, then Dean Leonen
should have just resigned himself to the signatures that he was able to secure.

We cannot imagine what urgent concern there was that he could not wait for actual signatures
before submission of the Statement to this Court. As respondents all asserted, they were neither
parties to nor counsels in the Vinuya case and the ethics case against Justice Del Castillo. The
Statement was neither a pleading with a deadline nor a required submission to the Court; rather,
it was a voluntary submission that Dean Leonen could do at any time.

In sum, the Court likewise finds Dean Leonens Compliance unsatisfactory. However, the Court is
willing to ascribe these isolated lapses in judgment of Dean Leonen to his misplaced zeal in
pursuit of his objectives. In due consideration of Dean Leonens professed good intentions, the
Court deems it sufficient to admonish Dean Leonen for failing to observe full candor and honesty
in his dealings with the Court as required under Canon 10.

Respondents requests for a hearing, for production/presentation of evidence bearing on the


plagiarism and misrepresentation issues in G.R. No. 162230 and A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC, and for
access to the records of A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC are unmeritorious.

In the Common Compliance, respondents named therein asked for alternative reliefs should the
Court find their Compliance unsatisfactory, that is, that the Show Cause Resolution be set for
hearing and for that purpose, they be allowed to require the production or presentation of
witnesses and evidence bearing on the plagiarism and misrepresentation issues in the Vinuya
case (G.R. No. 162230) and the plagiarism case against Justice Del Castillo (A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC)
and to have access to the records of, and evidence that were presented or may be presented in

the ethics case against Justice Del Castillo. The prayer for a hearing and for access to the records
of A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC was substantially echoed in Dean Leonens separate Compliance. In Prof.
Juan-Bautistas Compliance, she similarly expressed the sentiment that "[i]f the Restoring
Integrity Statement can be considered indirect contempt, under Section 3 of Rule 71 of the Rules
of Court, such may be punished only after charge and hearing."141 It is this group of
respondents premise that these reliefs are necessary for them to be accorded full due process.

The Court finds this contention unmeritorious.

Firstly, it would appear that the confusion as to the necessity of a hearing in this case springs
largely from its characterization as a special civil action for indirect contempt in the Dissenting
Opinion of Justice Sereno (to the October 19, 2010 Show Cause Resolution) and her reliance
therein on the majoritys purported failure to follow the procedure in Rule 71 of the Rules of Court
as her main ground for opposition to the Show Cause Resolution.

However, once and for all, it should be clarified that this is not an indirect contempt proceeding
and Rule 71 (which requires a hearing) has no application to this case. As explicitly ordered in the
Show Cause Resolution this case was docketed as an administrative matter.

The rule that is relevant to this controversy is Rule 139-B, Section 13, on disciplinary proceedings
initiated motu proprio by the Supreme Court, to wit:

SEC. 13. Supreme Court Investigators.In proceedings initiated motu proprio by the Supreme
Court or in other proceedings when the interest of justice so requires, the Supreme Court may
refer the case for investigation to the Solicitor General or to any officer of the Supreme Court or
judge of a lower court, in which case the investigation shall proceed in the same manner
provided in sections 6 to 11 hereof, save that the review of the report of investigation shall be
conducted directly by the Supreme Court. (Emphasis supplied.)

From the foregoing provision, it cannot be denied that a formal investigation, through a referral
to the specified officers, is merely discretionary, not mandatory on the Court. Furthermore, it is
only if the Court deems such an investigation necessary that the procedure in Sections 6 to 11 of
Rule 139-A will be followed.

As respondents are fully aware, in general, administrative proceedings do not require a trial type
hearing. We have held that:

The essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard or, as applied to administrative
proceedings, an opportunity to explain one's side or an opportunity to seek a reconsideration of
the action or ruling complained of. What the law prohibits is absolute absence of the opportunity
to be heard, hence, a party cannot feign denial of due process where he had been afforded the
opportunity to present his side. A formal or trial type hearing is not at all times and in all
instances essential to due process, the requirements of which are satisfied where the parties are
afforded fair and reasonable opportunity to explain their side of the controversy.142 (Emphases
supplied.)

In relation to bar discipline cases, we have had the occasion to rule in Pena v. Aparicio143 that:

Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor purely criminal,
they do not involve a trial of an action or a suit, but is rather an investigation by the Court into
the conduct of one of its officers. Not being intended to inflict punishment, it is in no sense a
criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. It may be
initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is its primary objective, and the real question
for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the privileges as
such. Hence, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of
the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of the Court with the end in view of preserving
the purity of the legal profession and the proper and honest administration of justice by purging
the profession of members who by their misconduct have proved themselves no longer worthy to
be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of an attorney. In such
posture, there can thus be no occasion to speak of a complainant or a prosecutor.144 (Emphases
supplied.)

In Query of Atty. Karen M. Silverio-Buffe, Former Clerk of Court Br. 81, Romblon On the
Prohibition from Engaging in the Private Practice of Law,145 we further observed that:

[I]n several cases, the Court has disciplined lawyers without further inquiry or resort to any
formal investigation where the facts on record sufficiently provided the basis for the
determination of their administrative liability.

In Prudential Bank v. Castro, the Court disbarred a lawyer without need of any further
investigation after considering his actions based on records showing his unethical misconduct;
the misconduct not only cast dishonor on the image of both the Bench and the Bar, but was also
inimical to public interest and welfare. In this regard, the Court took judicial notice of several
cases handled by the errant lawyer and his cohorts that revealed their modus operandi in
circumventing the payment of the proper judicial fees for the astronomical sums they claimed in
their cases. The Court held that those cases sufficiently provided the basis for the determination
of respondents' administrative liability, without need for further inquiry into the matter under the
principle of res ipsa loquitur.

Also on the basis of this principle, we ruled in Richards v. Asoy, that no evidentiary hearing is
required before the respondent may be disciplined for professional misconduct already
established by the facts on record.

xxxx

These cases clearly show that the absence of any formal charge against and/or formal
investigation of an errant lawyer do not preclude the Court from immediately exercising its
disciplining authority, as long as the errant lawyer or judge has been given the opportunity to be
heard. As we stated earlier, Atty. Buffe has been afforded the opportunity to be heard on the
present matter through her letter-query and Manifestation filed before this Court.146 (Emphases
supplied.)

Under the rules and jurisprudence, respondents clearly had no right to a hearing and their
reservation of a right they do not have has no effect on these proceedings. Neither have they
shown in their pleadings any justification for this Court to call for a hearing in this instance. They
have not specifically stated what relevant evidence, documentary or testimonial, they intend to
present in their defense that will necessitate a formal hearing.

Instead, it would appear that they intend to present records, evidence, and witnesses bearing on
the plagiarism and misrepresentation issues in the Vinuya case and in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC on
the assumption that the findings of this Court which were the bases of the Show Cause
Resolution were made in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC, or were related to the conclusions of the Court in
the Decision in that case. This is the primary reason for their request for access to the records
and evidence presented in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC.

This assumption on the part of respondents is erroneous. To illustrate, the only incident in A.M.
No. 10-7-17-SC that is relevant to the case at bar is the fact that the submission of the actual
signed copy of the Statement (or Restoring Integrity I, as Dean Leonen referred to it) happened
there. Apart from that fact, it bears repeating that the proceedings in A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC, the
ethics case against Justice Del Castillo, is a separate and independent matter from this case.

To find the bases of the statements of the Court in the Show Cause Resolution that the
respondents issued a Statement with language that the Court deems objectionable during the
pendency of the Vinuya case and the ethics case against Justice Del Castillo, respondents need
to go no further than the four corners of the Statement itself, its various versions, news
reports/columns (many of which respondents themselves supplied to this Court in their Common
Compliance) and internet sources that are already of public knowledge.

Considering that what respondents are chiefly required to explain are the language of the
Statement and the circumstances surrounding the drafting, printing, signing, dissemination, etc.,
of its various versions, the Court does not see how any witness or evidence in the ethics case of
Justice Del Castillo could possibly shed light on these facts. To be sure, these facts are within the
knowledge of respondents and if there is any evidence on these matters the same would be in
their possession.

We find it significant that in Dean Leonens Compliance he narrated how as early as September
2010, i.e., before the Decision of this Court in the ethics case of Justice Del Castillo on October
12, 2010 and before the October 19, 2010 Show Cause Resolution, retired Supreme Court Justice
Vicente V. Mendoza, after being shown a copy of the Statement upon his return from abroad,
predicted that the Court would take some form of action on the Statement. By simply reading a
hard copy of the Statement, a reasonable person, even one who "fundamentally agreed" with the
Statements principles, could foresee the possibility of court action on the same on an implicit
recognition that the Statement, as worded, is not a matter this Court should simply let pass. This
belies respondents claim that it is necessary for them to refer to any record or evidence in A.M.
No. 10-7-17-SC in order to divine the bases for the Show Cause Resolution.

If respondents have chosen not to include certain pieces of evidence in their respective
compliances or chosen not to make a full defense at this time, because they were counting on
being granted a hearing, that is respondents own look-out. Indeed, law professors of their
stature are supposed to be aware of the above jurisprudential doctrines regarding the non-

necessity of a hearing in disciplinary cases. They should bear the consequence of the risk they
have taken.

Thus, respondents requests for a hearing and for access to the records of, and evidence
presented in, A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC should be denied for lack of merit.

A final word

In a democracy, members of the legal community are hardly expected to have monolithic views
on any subject, be it a legal, political or social issue. Even as lawyers passionately and vigorously
propound their points of view they are bound by certain rules of conduct for the legal profession.
This Court is certainly not claiming that it should be shielded from criticism. All the Court
demands is the same respect and courtesy that one lawyer owes to another under established
ethical standards. All lawyers, whether they are judges, court employees, professors or private
practitioners, are officers of the Court and have voluntarily taken an oath, as an indispensable
qualification for admission to the Bar, to conduct themselves with good fidelity towards the
courts. There is no exemption from this sworn duty for law professors, regardless of their status
in the academic community or the law school to which they belong.

WHEREFORE, this administrative matter is decided as follows:

(1) With respect to Prof. Vasquez, after favorably noting his submission, the Court finds his
Compliance to be satisfactory.

(2) The Common Compliance of 35 respondents, namely, Attys. Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, Froilan M.
Bacungan, Pacifico A. Agabin, Merlin M. Magallona, Salvador T. Carlota, Carmelo V. Sison, Patricia
R.P. Salvador Daway, Dante B. Gatmaytan, Theodore O. Te, Florin T. Hilbay, Jay L. Batongbacal,
Evelyn (Leo) D. Battad, Gwen G. De Vera, Solomon F. Lumba, Rommel J. Casis, Jose Gerardo A.
Alampay, Miguel R. Armovit, Arthur P. Autea, Rosa Maria J. Bautista, Mark R. Bocobo, Dan P.
Calica, Tristan A. Catindig, Sandra Marie O. Coronel, Rosario O. Gallo, Concepcion L. Jardeleza,
Antonio G.M. La Via, Carina C. Laforteza, Jose C. Laureta, Rodolfo Noel S. Quimbo, Antonio M.
Santos, Gmeleen Faye B. Tomboc, Nicholas Felix L. Ty, Evalyn G. Ursua, Susan D. Villanueva and
Dina D. Lucenario, is found UNSATISFACTORY. These 35 respondent law professors are reminded
of their lawyerly duty, under Canons 1, 11 and 13 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, to
give due respect to the Court and to refrain from intemperate and offensive language tending to
influence the Court on pending matters or to denigrate the Court and the administration of
justice and warned that the same or similar act in the future shall be dealt with more severely.

(3) The separate Compliance of Dean Marvic M.V.F. Leonen regarding the charge of violation of
Canon 10 is found UNSATISFACTORY. He is further ADMONISHED to be more mindful of his duty,
as a member of the Bar, an officer of the Court, and a Dean and professor of law, to observe full
candor and honesty in his dealings with the Court and warned that the same or similar act in the
future shall be dealt with more severely.

(4) Prof. Lynch, who is not a member of the Philippine bar, is excused from these proceedings.
However, he is reminded that while he is engaged as a professor in a Philippine law school he

should strive to be a model of responsible and professional conduct to his students even without
the threat of sanction from this Court.

(5) Finally, respondents requests for a hearing and for access to the records of A.M. No. 10-7-17SC are denied for lack of merit.

Bar Matter No. 553 June 17, 1993

MAURICIO C. ULEP, petitioner, vs. THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC., respondent.

Petitioner prays this Court "to order the respondent to cease and desist from issuing
advertisements similar to or of the same tenor as that of annexes "A" and "B" (of said petition)
and to perpetually prohibit persons or entities from making advertisements pertaining to the
exercise of the law profession other than those allowed by law."

The advertisements complained of by herein petitioner are as follows:

Annex A

SECRET MARRIAGE?
P560.00 for a valid marriage.
Info on DIVORCE. ABSENCE.
ANNULMENT. VISA.

THE Please call: 521-0767


Victoria Bldg., UN Ave., Mla.

LEGAL5217232, 5222041 CLINIC, INC. 8:30 am 6:00 pm 7-Flr.

Annex B

GUAM DIVORCE.

DON PARKINSON

an Attorney in Guam, is giving FREE BOOKS on Guam Divorce through The Legal Clinic beginning
Monday to Friday during office hours.

Guam divorce. Annulment of Marriage. Immigration Problems, Visa Ext. Quota/Non-quota Res. &
Special Retiree's Visa. Declaration of Absence. Remarriage to Filipina Fiancees. Adoption.
Investment in the Phil. US/Foreign Visa for Filipina Spouse/Children. Call Marivic.

THE

7F Victoria Bldg. 429 UN Ave., LEGAL Ermita, Manila nr. US Embassy CLINIC, INC. 1 Tel.
521-7232; 521-7251;
522-2041; 521-0767

It is the submission of petitioner that the advertisements above reproduced are champterous,
unethical, demeaning of the law profession, and destructive of the confidence of the community
in the integrity of the members of the bar and that, as a member of the legal profession, he is
ashamed and offended by the said advertisements, hence the reliefs sought in his petition as
hereinbefore quoted.

In its answer to the petition, respondent admits the fact of publication of said advertisement at
its instance, but claims that it is not engaged in the practice of law but in the rendering of "legal
support services" through paralegals with the use of modern computers and electronic machines.
Respondent further argues that assuming that the services advertised are legal services, the act
of advertising these services should be allowed supposedly
in the light of the case of John R. Bates and Van O'Steen vs. State Bar of Arizona, 2 reportedly
decided by the United States Supreme Court on June 7, 1977.

Considering the critical implications on the legal profession of the issues raised herein, we
required the (1) Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), (2) Philippine Bar Association (PBA), (3)
Philippine Lawyers' Association (PLA), (4) U.P. Womens Lawyers' Circle (WILOCI), (5) Women
Lawyers Association of the Philippines (WLAP), and (6) Federacion International de Abogadas
(FIDA) to submit their respective position papers on the controversy and, thereafter, their
memoranda. 3 The said bar associations readily responded and extended their valuable services
and cooperation of which this Court takes note with appreciation and gratitude.

The main issues posed for resolution before the Court are whether or not the services offered by
respondent, The Legal Clinic, Inc., as advertised by it constitutes practice of law and, in either
case, whether the same can properly be the subject of the advertisements herein complained of.

Before proceeding with an in-depth analysis of the merits of this case, we deem it proper and
enlightening to present hereunder excerpts from the respective position papers adopted by the
aforementioned bar associations and the memoranda submitted by them on the issues involved
in this bar matter.

1.

Integrated Bar of the Philippines:

xxx

xxx

xxx

Notwithstanding the subtle manner by which respondent endeavored to distinguish the two
terms, i.e., "legal support services" vis-a-vis "legal services", common sense would readily
dictate that the same are essentially without substantial distinction. For who could deny that
document search, evidence gathering, assistance to layman in need of basic institutional
services from government or non-government agencies like birth, marriage, property, or business
registration, obtaining documents like clearance, passports, local or foreign visas, constitutes
practice of law?

xxx

xxx

xxx

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) does not wish to make issue with respondent's foreign
citations. Suffice it to state that the IBP has made its position manifest, to wit, that it strongly
opposes the view espoused by respondent (to the effect that today it is alright to advertise one's
legal services).

The IBP accordingly declares in no uncertain terms its opposition to respondent's act of
establishing a "legal clinic" and of concomitantly advertising the same through newspaper
publications.

The IBP would therefore invoke the administrative supervision of this Honorable Court to
perpetually restrain respondent from undertaking highly unethical activities in the field of law
practice as aforedescribed. 4

xxx

xxx

xxx

A.
The use of the name "The Legal Clinic, Inc." gives the impression that respondent
corporation is being operated by lawyers and that it renders legal services.

While the respondent repeatedly denies that it offers legal services to the public, the
advertisements in question give the impression that respondent is offering legal services. The
Petition in fact simply assumes this to be so, as earlier mentioned, apparently because this (is)
the effect that the advertisements have on the reading public.

The impression created by the advertisements in question can be traced, first of all, to the very
name being used by respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." Such a name, it is respectfully
submitted connotes the rendering of legal services for legal problems, just like a medical clinic
connotes medical services for medical problems. More importantly, the term "Legal Clinic"
connotes lawyers, as the term medical clinic connotes doctors.

Furthermore, the respondent's name, as published in the advertisements subject of the present
case, appears with (the) scale(s) of justice, which all the more reinforces the impression that it is
being operated by members of the bar and that it offers legal services. In addition, the
advertisements in question appear with a picture and name of a person being represented as a

lawyer from Guam, and this practically removes whatever doubt may still remain as to the nature
of the service or services being offered.

It thus becomes irrelevant whether respondent is merely offering "legal support services" as
claimed by it, or whether it offers legal services as any lawyer actively engaged in law practice
does. And it becomes unnecessary to make a distinction between "legal services" and "legal
support services," as the respondent would have it. The advertisements in question leave no
room for doubt in the minds of the reading public that legal services are being offered by
lawyers, whether true or not.

B.
The advertisements in question are meant to induce the performance of acts contrary to
law, morals, public order and public policy.

It may be conceded that, as the respondent claims, the advertisements in question are only
meant to inform the general public of the services being offered by it. Said advertisements,
however, emphasize to Guam divorce, and any law student ought to know that under the Family
Code, there is only one instance when a foreign divorce is recognized, and that is:

Article 26.

...

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.

It must not be forgotten, too, that the Family Code (defines) a marriage as follows:

Article 1.
Marriage is special contract of permanent union between a man and woman entered
into accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of
the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences, and incidents are
governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix the
property relation during the marriage within the limits provided by this Code.

By simply reading the questioned advertisements, it is obvious that the message being conveyed
is that Filipinos can avoid the legal consequences of a marriage celebrated in accordance with
our law, by simply going to Guam for a divorce. This is not only misleading, but encourages, or
serves to induce, violation of Philippine law. At the very least, this can be considered "the dark
side" of legal practice, where certain defects in Philippine laws are exploited for the sake of
profit. At worst, this is outright malpractice.

Rule 1.02. A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at
lessening confidence in the legal system.

In addition, it may also be relevant to point out that advertisements such as that shown in Annex
"A" of the Petition, which contains a cartoon of a motor vehicle with the words "Just Married" on
its bumper and seems to address those planning a "secret marriage," if not suggesting a "secret
marriage," makes light of the "special contract of permanent union," the inviolable social
institution," which is how the Family Code describes marriage, obviously to emphasize its
sanctity and inviolability. Worse, this particular advertisement appears to encourage marriages
celebrated in secrecy, which is suggestive of immoral publication of applications for a marriage
license.

If the article "Rx for Legal Problems" is to be reviewed, it can readily be concluded that the above
impressions one may gather from the advertisements in question are accurate. The Sharon
Cuneta-Gabby Concepcion example alone confirms what the advertisements suggest. Here it can
be seen that criminal acts are being encouraged or committed
(a bigamous marriage in Hong Kong or Las Vegas) with impunity simply because the jurisdiction
of Philippine courts does not extend to the place where the crime is committed.

Even if it be assumed, arguendo, (that) the "legal support services" respondent offers do not
constitute legal services as commonly understood, the advertisements in question give the
impression that respondent corporation is being operated by lawyers and that it offers legal
services, as earlier discussed. Thus, the only logical consequence is that, in the eyes of an
ordinary newspaper reader, members of the bar themselves are encouraging or inducing the
performance of acts which are contrary to law, morals, good customs and the public good,
thereby destroying and demeaning the integrity of the Bar.

xxx

xxx

xxx

It is respectfully submitted that respondent should be enjoined from causing the publication of
the advertisements in question, or any other advertisements similar thereto. It is also submitted
that respondent should be prohibited from further performing or offering some of the services it
presently offers, or, at the very least, from offering such services to the public in general.

The IBP is aware of the fact that providing computerized legal research, electronic data
gathering, storage and retrieval, standardized legal forms, investigators for gathering of
evidence, and like services will greatly benefit the legal profession and should not be stifled but
instead encouraged. However, when the conduct of such business by non-members of the Bar
encroaches upon the practice of law, there can be no choice but to prohibit such business.

Admittedly, many of the services involved in the case at bar can be better performed by
specialists in other fields, such as computer experts, who by reason of their having devoted time
and effort exclusively to such field cannot fulfill the exacting requirements for admission to the
Bar. To prohibit them from "encroaching" upon the legal profession will deny the profession of the
great benefits and advantages of modern technology. Indeed, a lawyer using a computer will be
doing better than a lawyer using a typewriter, even if both are (equal) in skill.

Both the Bench and the Bar, however, should be careful not to allow or tolerate the illegal
practice of law in any form, not only for the protection of members of the Bar but also, and more

importantly, for the protection of the public. Technological development in the profession may be
encouraged without tolerating, but instead ensuring prevention of illegal practice.

There might be nothing objectionable if respondent is allowed to perform all of its services, but
only if such services are made available exclusively to members of the Bench and Bar.
Respondent would then be offering technical assistance, not legal services. Alternatively, the
more difficult task of carefully distinguishing between which service may be offered to the public
in general and which should be made available exclusively to members of the Bar may be
undertaken. This, however, may require further proceedings because of the factual
considerations involved.

It must be emphasized, however, that some of respondent's services ought to be prohibited


outright, such as acts which tend to suggest or induce celebration abroad of marriages which are
bigamous or otherwise illegal and void under Philippine law. While respondent may not be
prohibited from simply disseminating information regarding such matters, it must be required to
include, in the information given, a disclaimer that it is not authorized to practice law, that
certain course of action may be illegal under Philippine law, that it is not authorized or capable of
rendering a legal opinion, that a lawyer should be consulted before deciding on which course of
action to take, and that it cannot recommend any particular lawyer without subjecting itself to
possible sanctions for illegal practice of law.

If respondent is allowed to advertise, advertising should be directed exclusively at members of


the Bar, with a clear and unmistakable disclaimer that it is not authorized to practice law or
perform legal services.

The benefits of being assisted by paralegals cannot be ignored. But nobody should be allowed to
represent himself as a "paralegal" for profit, without such term being clearly defined by rule or
regulation, and without any adequate and effective means of regulating his activities. Also, law
practice in a corporate form may prove to be advantageous to the legal profession, but before
allowance of such practice may be considered, the corporation's Article of Incorporation and Bylaws must conform to each and every provision of the Code of Professional Responsibility and the
Rules of Court. 5

2.

Philippine Bar Association:

xxx

xxx

xxx.

Respondent asserts that it "is not engaged in the practice of law but engaged in giving legal
support services to lawyers and laymen, through experienced paralegals, with the use of modern
computers and electronic machines" (pars. 2 and 3, Comment). This is absurd. Unquestionably,
respondent's acts of holding out itself to the public under the trade name "The Legal Clinic, Inc.,"
and soliciting employment for its enumerated services fall within the realm of a practice which
thus yields itself to the regulatory powers of the Supreme Court. For respondent to say that it is
merely engaged in paralegal work is to stretch credulity. Respondent's own commercial
advertisement which announces a certain Atty. Don Parkinson to be handling the fields of law
belies its pretense. From all indications, respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." is offering and
rendering legal services through its reserve of lawyers. It has been held that the practice of law
is not limited to the conduct of cases in court, but includes drawing of deeds, incorporation,
rendering opinions, and advising clients as to their legal right and then take them to an attorney

and ask the latter to look after their case in court See Martin, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 1984 ed.,
p. 39).

It is apt to recall that only natural persons can engage in the practice of law, and such limitation
cannot be evaded by a corporation employing competent lawyers to practice for it. Obviously,
this is the scheme or device by which respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." holds out itself to the
public and solicits employment of its legal services. It is an odious vehicle for deception,
especially so when the public cannot ventilate any grievance for malpractice against the
business conduit. Precisely, the limitation of practice of law to persons who have been duly
admitted as members of the Bar (Sec. 1, Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court) is to subject the
members to the discipline of the Supreme Court. Although respondent uses its business name,
the persons and the lawyers who act for it are subject to court discipline. The practice of law is
not a profession open to all who wish to engage in it nor can it be assigned to another (See 5 Am.
Jur. 270). It is a personal right limited to persons who have qualified themselves under the law. It
follows that not only respondent but also all the persons who are acting for respondent are the
persons engaged in unethical law practice. 6

3.

Philippine Lawyers' Association:

The Philippine Lawyers' Association's position, in answer to the issues stated herein, are wit:

1.

The Legal Clinic is engaged in the practice of law;

2.

Such practice is unauthorized;

3.
The advertisements complained of are not only unethical, but also misleading and patently
immoral; and

4.
The Honorable Supreme Court has the power to supress and punish the Legal Clinic and its
corporate officers for its unauthorized practice of law and for its unethical, misleading and
immoral advertising.

xxx

xxx

xxx

Respondent posits that is it not engaged in the practice of law. It claims that it merely renders
"legal support services" to answers, litigants and the general public as enunciated in the Primary
Purpose Clause of its Article(s) of Incorporation. (See pages 2 to 5 of Respondent's Comment).
But its advertised services, as enumerated above, clearly and convincingly show that it is indeed
engaged in law practice, albeit outside of court.

As advertised, it offers the general public its advisory services on Persons and Family Relations
Law, particularly regarding foreign divorces, annulment of marriages, secret marriages, absence

and adoption; Immigration Laws, particularly on visa related problems, immigration problems;
the Investments Law of the Philippines and such other related laws.

Its advertised services unmistakably require the application of the aforesaid law, the legal
principles and procedures related thereto, the legal advices based thereon and which activities
call for legal training, knowledge and experience.

Applying the test laid down by the Court in the aforecited Agrava Case, the activities of
respondent fall squarely and are embraced in what lawyers and laymen equally term as "the
practice of law." 7

4.

U.P. Women Lawyers' Circle:

In resolving, the issues before this Honorable Court, paramount consideration should be given to
the protection of the general public from the danger of being exploited by unqualified persons or
entities who may be engaged in the practice of law.

At present, becoming a lawyer requires one to take a rigorous four-year course of study on top of
a four-year bachelor of arts or sciences course and then to take and pass the bar examinations.
Only then, is a lawyer qualified to practice law.

While the use of a paralegal is sanctioned in many jurisdiction as an aid to the administration of
justice, there are in those jurisdictions, courses of study and/or standards which would qualify
these paralegals to deal with the general public as such. While it may now be the opportune time
to establish these courses of study and/or standards, the fact remains that at present, these do
not exist in the Philippines. In the meantime, this Honorable Court may decide to make measures
to protect the general public from being exploited by those who may be dealing with the general
public in the guise of being "paralegals" without being qualified to do so.

In the same manner, the general public should also be protected from the dangers which may be
brought about by advertising of legal services. While it appears that lawyers are prohibited under
the present Code of Professional Responsibility from advertising, it appears in the instant case
that legal services are being advertised not by lawyers but by an entity staffed by "paralegals."
Clearly, measures should be taken to protect the general public from falling prey to those who
advertise legal services without being qualified to offer such services. 8

A perusal of the questioned advertisements of Respondent, however, seems to give the


impression that information regarding validity of marriages, divorce, annulment of marriage,
immigration, visa extensions, declaration of absence, adoption and foreign investment, which are
in essence, legal matters , will be given to them if they avail of its services. The Respondent's
name The Legal Clinic, Inc. does not help matters. It gives the impression again that
Respondent will or can cure the legal problems brought to them. Assuming that Respondent is, as
claimed, staffed purely by paralegals, it also gives the misleading impression that there are
lawyers involved in The Legal Clinic, Inc., as there are doctors in any medical clinic, when only
"paralegals" are involved in The Legal Clinic, Inc.

Respondent's allegations are further belied by the very admissions of its President and majority
stockholder, Atty. Nogales, who gave an insight on the structure and main purpose of Respondent
corporation in the aforementioned "Starweek" article." 9

5.

Women Lawyer's Association of the Philippines:

Annexes "A" and "B" of the petition are clearly advertisements to solicit cases for the purpose of
gain which, as provided for under the above cited law, (are) illegal and against the Code of
Professional Responsibility of lawyers in this country.

Annex "A" of the petition is not only illegal in that it is an advertisement to solicit cases, but it is
illegal in that in bold letters it announces that the Legal Clinic, Inc., could work out/cause the
celebration of a secret marriage which is not only illegal but immoral in this country. While it is
advertised that one has to go to said agency and pay P560 for a valid marriage it is certainly
fooling the public for valid marriages in the Philippines are solemnized only by officers authorized
to do so under the law. And to employ an agency for said purpose of contracting marriage is not
necessary.

No amount of reasoning that in the USA, Canada and other countries the trend is towards
allowing lawyers to advertise their special skills to enable people to obtain from qualified
practitioners legal services for their particular needs can justify the use of advertisements such
as are the subject matter of the petition, for one (cannot) justify an illegal act even by whatever
merit the illegal act may serve. The law has yet to be amended so that such act could become
justifiable.

We submit further that these advertisements that seem to project that secret marriages and
divorce are possible in this country for a fee, when in fact it is not so, are highly reprehensible.

It would encourage people to consult this clinic about how they could go about having a secret
marriage here, when it cannot nor should ever be attempted, and seek advice on divorce, where
in this country there is none, except under the Code of Muslim Personal Laws in the Philippines. It
is also against good morals and is deceitful because it falsely represents to the public to be able
to do that which by our laws cannot be done (and) by our Code of Morals should not be done.

In the case (of) In re Taguda, 53 Phil. 37, the Supreme Court held that solicitation for clients by
an attorney by circulars of advertisements, is unprofessional, and offenses of this character
justify permanent elimination from the Bar. 10

6.

Federacion Internacional de Abogados:

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1.7 That entities admittedly not engaged in the practice of law, such as management
consultancy firms or travel agencies, whether run by lawyers or not, perform the services
rendered by Respondent does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that Respondent is not
unlawfully practicing law. In the same vein, however, the fact that the business of respondent
(assuming it can be engaged in independently of the practice of law) involves knowledge of the
law does not necessarily make respondent guilty of unlawful practice of law.

. . . . Of necessity, no one . . . . acting as a consultant can render effective service unless he is


familiar with such statutes and regulations. He must be careful not to suggest a course of
conduct which the law forbids. It seems . . . .clear that (the consultant's) knowledge of the law,
and his use of that knowledge as a factor in determining what measures he shall recommend, do
not constitute the practice of law . . . . It is not only presumed that all men know the law, but it is
a fact that most men have considerable acquaintance with broad features of the law . . . . Our
knowledge of the law accurate or inaccurate moulds our conduct not only when we are
acting for ourselves, but when we are serving others. Bankers, liquor dealers and laymen
generally possess rather precise knowledge of the laws touching their particular business or
profession. A good example is the architect, who must be familiar with zoning, building and fire
prevention codes, factory and tenement house statutes, and who draws plans and specification
in harmony with the law. This is not practicing law.

But suppose the architect, asked by his client to omit a fire tower, replies that it is required by
the statute. Or the industrial relations expert cites, in support of some measure that he
recommends, a decision of the National Labor Relations Board. Are they practicing law? In my
opinion, they are not, provided no separate fee is charged for the legal advice or information,
and the legal question is subordinate and incidental to a major non-legal problem.

It is largely a matter of degree and of custom.

If it were usual for one intending to erect a building on his land to engage a lawyer to advise him
and the architect in respect to the building code and the like, then an architect who performed
this function would probably be considered to be trespassing on territory reserved for licensed
attorneys. Likewise, if the industrial relations field had been pre-empted by lawyers, or custom
placed a lawyer always at the elbow of the lay personnel man. But this is not the case. The most
important body of the industrial relations experts are the officers and business agents of the
labor unions and few of them are lawyers. Among the larger corporate employers, it has been
the practice for some years to delegate special responsibility in employee matters to a
management group chosen for their practical knowledge and skill in such matter, and without
regard to legal thinking or lack of it. More recently, consultants like the defendants have the
same service that the larger employers get from their own specialized staff.

The handling of industrial relations is growing into a recognized profession for which appropriate
courses are offered by our leading universities. The court should be very cautious about
declaring [that] a widespread, well-established method of conducting business is unlawful, or
that the considerable class of men who customarily perform a certain function have no right to
do so, or that the technical education given by our schools cannot be used by the graduates in
their business.

In determining whether a man is practicing law, we should consider his work for any particular
client or customer, as a whole. I can imagine defendant being engaged primarily to advise as to

the law defining his client's obligations to his employees, to guide his client's obligations to his
employees, to guide his client along the path charted by law. This, of course, would be the
practice of the law. But such is not the fact in the case before me. Defendant's primarily efforts
are along economic and psychological lines. The law only provides the frame within which he
must work, just as the zoning code limits the kind of building the limits the kind of building the
architect may plan. The incidental legal advice or information defendant may give, does not
transform his activities into the practice of law. Let me add that if, even as a minor feature of his
work, he performed services which are customarily reserved to members of the bar, he would be
practicing law. For instance, if as part of a welfare program, he drew employees' wills.

Another branch of defendant's work is the representations of the employer in the adjustment of
grievances and in collective bargaining, with or without a mediator. This is not per se the practice
of law. Anyone may use an agent for negotiations and may select an agent particularly skilled in
the subject under discussion, and the person appointed is free to accept the employment
whether or not he is a member of the bar. Here, however, there may be an exception where the
business turns on a question of law. Most real estate sales are negotiated by brokers who are not
lawyers. But if the value of the land depends on a disputed right-of-way and the principal role of
the negotiator is to assess the probable outcome of the dispute and persuade the opposite party
to the same opinion, then it may be that only a lawyer can accept the assignment. Or if a
controversy between an employer and his men grows from differing interpretations of a contract,
or of a statute, it is quite likely that defendant should not handle it. But I need not reach a
definite conclusion here, since the situation is not presented by the proofs.

Defendant also appears to represent the employer before administrative agencies of the federal
government, especially before trial examiners of the National Labor Relations Board. An agency
of the federal government, acting by virtue of an authority granted by the Congress, may
regulate the representation of parties before such agency. The State of New Jersey is without
power to interfere with such determination or to forbid representation before the agency by one
whom the agency admits. The rules of the National Labor Relations Board give to a party the
right to appear in person, or by counsel, or by other representative. Rules and Regulations,
September 11th, 1946, S. 203.31. 'Counsel' here means a licensed attorney, and ther
representative' one not a lawyer. In this phase of his work, defendant may lawfully do whatever
the Labor Board allows, even arguing questions purely legal. (Auerbacher v. Wood, 53 A. 2d 800,
cited in Statsky, Introduction to Paralegalism [1974], at pp. 154-156.).

1.8
From the foregoing, it can be said that a person engaged in a lawful calling (which may
involve knowledge of the law) is not engaged in the practice of law provided that:

(a)

The legal question is subordinate and incidental to a major non-legal problem;.

(b)

The services performed are not customarily reserved to members of the bar; .

(c)

No separate fee is charged for the legal advice or information.

All these must be considered in relation to the work for any particular client as a whole.

1.9. If the person involved is both lawyer and non-lawyer, the Code of Professional
Responsibility succintly states the rule of conduct:

Rule 15.08 A lawyer who is engaged in another profession or occupation concurrently with the
practice of law shall make clear to his client whether he is acting as a lawyer or in another
capacity.

1.10. In the present case. the Legal Clinic appears to render wedding services (See Annex "A"
Petition). Services on routine, straightforward marriages, like securing a marriage license, and
making arrangements with a priest or a judge, may not constitute practice of law. However, if the
problem is as complicated as that described in "Rx for Legal Problems" on the Sharon CunetaGabby Concepcion-Richard Gomez case, then what may be involved is actually the practice of
law. If a non-lawyer, such as the Legal Clinic, renders such services then it is engaged in the
unauthorized practice of law.

1.11. The Legal Clinic also appears to give information on divorce, absence, annulment of
marriage and visas (See Annexes "A" and "B" Petition). Purely giving informational materials may
not constitute of law. The business is similar to that of a bookstore where the customer buys
materials on the subject and determines on the subject and determines by himself what courses
of action to take.

It is not entirely improbable, however, that aside from purely giving information, the Legal
Clinic's paralegals may apply the law to the particular problem of the client, and give legal
advice. Such would constitute unauthorized practice of law.

It cannot be claimed that the publication of a legal text which publication of a legal text which
purports to say what the law is amount to legal practice. And the mere fact that the principles or
rules stated in the text may be accepted by a particular reader as a solution to his problem does
not affect this. . . . . Apparently it is urged that the conjoining of these two, that is, the text and
the forms, with advice as to how the forms should be filled out, constitutes the unlawful practice
of law. But that is the situation with many approved and accepted texts. Dacey's book is sold to
the public at large. There is no personal contact or relationship with a particular individual. Nor
does there exist that relation of confidence and trust so necessary to the status of attorney and
client. THIS IS THE ESSENTIAL OF LEGAL PRACTICE THE REPRESENTATION AND ADVISING OF A
PARTICULAR PERSON IN A PARTICULAR SITUATION. At most the book assumes to offer general
advice on common problems, and does not purport to give personal advice on a specific problem
peculiar to a designated or readily identified person. Similarly the defendant's publication does
not purport to give personal advice on a specific problem peculiar to a designated or readily
identified person in a particular situation in their publication and sale of the kits, such
publication and sale did not constitutes the unlawful practice of law . . . . There being no legal
impediment under the statute to the sale of the kit, there was no proper basis for the injunction
against defendant maintaining an office for the purpose of selling to persons seeking a divorce,
separation, annulment or separation agreement any printed material or writings relating to
matrimonial law or the prohibition in the memorandum of modification of the judgment against
defendant having an interest in any publishing house publishing his manuscript on divorce and
against his having any personal contact with any prospective purchaser. The record does fully
support, however, the finding that for the change of $75 or $100 for the kit, the defendant gave
legal advice in the course of personal contacts concerning particular problems which might arise
in the preparation and presentation of the purchaser's asserted matrimonial cause of action or
pursuit of other legal remedies and assistance in the preparation of necessary documents (The
injunction therefore sought to) enjoin conduct constituting the practice of law, particularly with
reference to the giving of advice and counsel by the defendant relating to specific problems of
particular individuals in connection with a divorce, separation, annulment of separation

agreement sought and should be affirmed. (State v. Winder, 348, NYS 2D 270 [1973], cited in
Statsky, supra at p. 101.).

1.12. Respondent, of course, states that its services are "strictly non-diagnostic, non-advisory. "It
is not controverted, however, that if the services "involve giving legal advice or counselling,"
such would constitute practice of law (Comment, par. 6.2). It is in this light that FIDA submits that
a factual inquiry may be necessary for the judicious disposition of this case.

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2.10. Annex "A" may be ethically objectionable in that it can give the impression (or perpetuate
the wrong notion) that there is a secret marriage. With all the solemnities, formalities and other
requisites of marriages (See Articles 2, et seq., Family Code), no Philippine marriage can be
secret.

2.11. Annex "B" may likewise be ethically objectionable. The second paragraph thereof (which is
not necessarily related to the first paragraph) fails to state the limitation that only "paralegal
services?" or "legal support services", and not legal services, are available." 11

A prefatory discussion on the meaning of the phrase "practice of law" becomes exigent for the
proper determination of the issues raised by the petition at bar. On this score, we note that the
clause "practice of law" has long been the subject of judicial construction and interpretation. The
courts have laid down general principles and doctrines explaining the meaning and scope of the
term, some of which we now take into account.

Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal
procedures, knowledge, training and experience. To engage in the practice of law is to perform
those acts which are characteristic of the profession. Generally, to practice law is to give advice
or render any kind of service that involves legal knowledge or skill. 12

The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. It includes legal advice and
counsel, and the preparation of legal instruments and contract by which legal rights are secured,
although such matter may or may not be pending in a court. 13

In the practice of his profession, a licensed attorney at law generally engages in three principal
types of professional activity: legal advice and instructions to clients to inform them of their
rights and obligations, preparation for clients of documents requiring knowledge of legal
principles not possessed by ordinary layman, and appearance for clients before public tribunals
which possess power and authority to determine rights of life, liberty, and property according to
law, in order to assist in proper interpretation and enforcement of law. 14

When a person participates in the a trial and advertises himself as a lawyer, he is in the practice
of law. 15 One who confers with clients, advises them as to their legal rights and then takes the
business to an attorney and asks the latter to look after the case in court, is also practicing law.

16 Giving advice for compensation regarding the legal status and rights of another and the
conduct with respect thereto constitutes a practice of law. 17 One who renders an opinion as to
the proper interpretation of a statute, and receives pay for it, is, to that extent, practicing law. 18

In the recent case of Cayetano vs. Monsod, 19 after citing the doctrines in several cases, we laid
down the test to determine whether certain acts constitute "practice of law," thus:

Black defines "practice of law" as:

The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the application of legal principles and
technique to serve the interest of another with his consent. It is not limited to appearing in court,
or advising and assisting in the conduct of litigation, but embraces the preparation of pleadings,
and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, conveyancing, the preparation of
legal instruments of all kinds, and the giving of all legal advice to clients. It embraces all advice
to clients and all actions taken for them in matters connected with the law.

The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases on court.(Land Title Abstract and Trust
Co. v. Dworken , 129 Ohio St. 23, 193N. E. 650). 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 right 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
and there, in such representative capacity, performs any act or acts for the purpose of obtaining
or defending the rights of their clients under the law. 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. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v. C.S. Dudley and Co., 102 S.
W. 2d 895, 340 Mo. 852).

This Court, in the case of Philippines Lawyers Association v. Agrava (105 Phil. 173, 176177),stated:

The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in court; it embraces the
preparation of pleadings and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, the
management of such actions and proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and
in addition, conveying. 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 a judicial body, the foreclosure of a mortgage, enforcement
of a creditor's claim in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and conducting proceedings in
attachment, and in matters or estate and guardianship have been held to constitute law practice,
as do the preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the work done involves the
determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect of facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jr. p.
262, 263).

Practice of law under modern conditions consists in no small part of work performed outside of
any court and having no immediate relation to proceedings in court. It embraces conveyancing,
the giving of legal advice on a large variety of subjects and the preparation and execution of
legal instruments covering an extensive field of business and trust relations and other affairs.
Although these transactions may have no direct connection with court proceedings, they are
always subject to become involved in litigation. They require in many aspects a high degree of
legal skill, a wide experience with men and affairs, and great capacity for adaptation to difficult
and complex situations. These customary functions of an attorney or counselor at law bear an
intimate relation to the administration of justice by the courts. No valid distinction, so far as
concerns the question set forth in the order, can be drawn between that part of the work of the
lawyer which involves appearance in court and that part which involves advice and drafting of
instruments in his office. It is of importance to the welfare of the public that these manifold
customary functions be performed by persons possessed of adequate learning and skill, of sound
moral character, and acting at all times under the heavy trust obligations to clients which rests
upon all attorneys. (Moran, Comments on the Rules o Court, Vol. 3 [1973 ed.], pp. 665-666, citing
In Re Opinion of the Justices [Mass], 194 N. E. 313, quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. v. Automobile
Service Assoc. [R.I.] 197 A. 139, 144).

The practice of law, therefore, covers a wide range of activities in and out of court. Applying the
aforementioned criteria to the case at bar, we agree with the perceptive findings and
observations of the aforestated bar associations that the activities of respondent, as advertised,
constitute "practice of law."

The contention of respondent that it merely offers legal support services can neither be seriously
considered nor sustained. Said proposition is belied by respondent's own description of the
services it has been offering, to wit:

Legal support services basically consists of giving ready information by trained paralegals to
laymen and lawyers, which are strictly non-diagnostic, non-advisory, through the extensive use
of computers and modern information technology in the gathering, processing, storage,
transmission and reproduction of information and communication, such as computerized legal
research; encoding and reproduction of documents and pleadings prepared by laymen or
lawyers; document search; evidence gathering; locating parties or witnesses to a case; fact
finding investigations; and assistance to laymen in need of basic institutional services from
government or non-government agencies, like birth, marriage, property, or business
registrations; educational or employment records or certifications, obtaining documentation like
clearances, passports, local or foreign visas; giving information about laws of other countries that
they may find useful, like foreign divorce, marriage or adoption laws that they can avail of
preparatory to emigration to the foreign country, and other matters that do not involve
representation of clients in court; designing and installing computer systems, programs, or
software for the efficient management of law offices, corporate legal departments, courts and
other entities engaged in dispensing or administering legal services. 20

While some of the services being offered by respondent corporation merely involve mechanical
and technical knowhow, such as the installation of computer systems and programs for the
efficient management of law offices, or the computerization of research aids and materials, these
will not suffice to justify an exception to the general rule.

What is palpably clear is that respondent corporation gives out legal information to laymen and
lawyers. Its contention that such function is non-advisory and non-diagnostic is more apparent
than real. In providing information, for example, about foreign laws on marriage, divorce and
adoption, it strains the credulity of this Court that all the respondent corporation will simply do is
look for the law, furnish a copy thereof to the client, and stop there as if it were merely a

bookstore. With its attorneys and so called paralegals, it will necessarily have to explain to the
client the intricacies of the law and advise him or her on the proper course of action to be taken
as may be provided for by said law. That is what its advertisements represent and for the which
services it will consequently charge and be paid. That activity falls squarely within the
jurisprudential definition of "practice of law." Such a conclusion will not be altered by the fact
that respondent corporation does not represent clients in court since law practice, as the weight
of authority holds, is not limited merely giving legal advice, contract drafting and so forth.

The aforesaid conclusion is further strengthened by an article published in the January 13, 1991
issue of the Starweek/The Sunday Magazine of the Philippines Star, entitled "Rx for Legal
Problems," where an insight into the structure, main purpose and operations of respondent
corporation was given by its own "proprietor," Atty. Rogelio P. Nogales:

This is the kind of business that is transacted everyday at The Legal Clinic, with offices on the
seventh floor of the Victoria Building along U. N. Avenue in Manila. No matter what the client's
problem, and even if it is as complicated as the Cuneta-Concepcion domestic situation, Atty.
Nogales and his staff of lawyers, who, like doctors are "specialists" in various fields can take care
of it. The Legal Clinic, Inc. has specialists in taxation and criminal law, medico-legal problems,
labor, litigation, and family law. These specialist are backed up by a battery of paralegals,
counsellors and attorneys.

Atty. Nogales set up The Legal Clinic in 1984. Inspired by the trend in the medical field toward
specialization, it caters to clients who cannot afford the services of the big law firms.

The Legal Clinic has regular and walk-in clients. "when they come, we start by analyzing the
problem. That's what doctors do also. They ask you how you contracted what's bothering you,
they take your temperature, they observe you for the symptoms and so on. That's how we
operate, too. And once the problem has been categorized, then it's referred to one of our
specialists.

There are cases which do not, in medical terms, require surgery or follow-up treatment. These
The Legal Clinic disposes of in a matter of minutes. "Things like preparing a simple deed of sale
or an affidavit of loss can be taken care of by our staff or, if this were a hospital the residents or
the interns. We can take care of these matters on a while you wait basis. Again, kung baga sa
hospital, out-patient, hindi kailangang ma-confine. It's just like a common cold or diarrhea,"
explains Atty. Nogales.

Those cases which requires more extensive "treatment" are dealt with accordingly. "If you had a
rich relative who died and named you her sole heir, and you stand to inherit millions of pesos of
property, we would refer you to a specialist in taxation. There would be real estate taxes and
arrears which would need to be put in order, and your relative is even taxed by the state for the
right to transfer her property, and only a specialist in taxation would be properly trained to deal
with the problem. Now, if there were other heirs contesting your rich relatives will, then you
would need a litigator, who knows how to arrange the problem for presentation in court, and
gather evidence to support the case. 21

That fact that the corporation employs paralegals to carry out its services is not controlling. What
is important is that it is engaged in the practice of law by virtue of the nature of the services it

renders which thereby brings it within the ambit of the statutory prohibitions against the
advertisements which it has caused to be published and are now assailed in this proceeding.

Further, as correctly and appropriately pointed out by the U.P. WILOCI, said reported facts
sufficiently establish that the main purpose of respondent is to serve as a one-stop-shop of sorts
for various legal problems wherein a client may avail of legal services from simple
documentation to complex litigation and corporate undertakings. Most of these services are
undoubtedly beyond the domain of paralegals, but rather, are exclusive functions of lawyers
engaged in the practice of law. 22

It should be noted that in our jurisdiction the services being offered by private respondent which
constitute practice of law cannot be performed by paralegals. Only a person duly admitted as a
member of the bar, or hereafter admitted as such in accordance with the provisions of the Rules
of Court, and who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice law. 23

Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to those individuals found duly qualified
in education and character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyers is an individual and
limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to maintain proper standards of moral and
professional conduct. The purpose is to protect the public, the court, the client and the bar from
the incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed to practice law and not subject to the
disciplinary control of the court. 24

The same rule is observed in the american jurisdiction wherefrom respondent would wish to draw
support for his thesis. The doctrines there also stress that the practice of law is limited to those
who meet the requirements for, and have been admitted to, the bar, and various statutes or
rules specifically so provide. 25 The practice of law is not a lawful business except for members
of the bar who have complied with all the conditions required by statute and the rules of court.
Only those persons are allowed to practice law who, by reason of attainments previously
acquired through education and study, have been recognized by the courts as possessing
profound knowledge of legal science entitling them to advise, counsel with, protect, or defend
the rights claims, or liabilities of their clients, with respect to the construction, interpretation,
operation and effect of law. 26 The justification for excluding from the practice of law those not
admitted to the bar is found, not in the protection of the bar from competition, but in the
protection of the public from being advised and represented in legal matters by incompetent and
unreliable persons over whom the judicial department can exercise little control. 27

We have to necessarily and definitely reject respondent's position that the concept in the United
States of paralegals as an occupation separate from the law profession be adopted in this
jurisdiction. Whatever may be its merits, respondent cannot but be aware that this should first be
a matter for judicial rules or legislative action, and not of unilateral adoption as it has done.

Paralegals in the United States are trained professionals. As admitted by respondent, there are
schools and universities there which offer studies and degrees in paralegal education, while there
are none in the Philippines. 28 As the concept of the "paralegals" or "legal assistant" evolved in
the United States, standards and guidelines also evolved to protect the general public. One of
the major standards or guidelines was developed by the American Bar Association which set up
Guidelines for the Approval of Legal Assistant Education Programs (1973). Legislation has even
been proposed to certify legal assistants. There are also associations of paralegals in the United
States with their own code of professional ethics, such as the National Association of Legal
Assistants, Inc. and the American Paralegal Association. 29

In the Philippines, we still have a restricted concept and limited acceptance of what may be
considered as paralegal service. As pointed out by FIDA, some persons not duly licensed to
practice law are or have been allowed limited representation in behalf of another or to render
legal services, but such allowable services are limited in scope and extent by the law, rules or
regulations granting permission therefor. 30

Accordingly, we have adopted the American judicial policy that, in the absence of constitutional
or statutory authority, a person who has not been admitted as an attorney cannot practice law
for the proper administration of justice cannot be hindered by the unwarranted intrusion of an
unauthorized and unskilled person into the practice of law. 31 That policy should continue to be
one of encouraging persons who are unsure of their legal rights and remedies to seek legal
assistance only from persons licensed to practice law in the state. 32

Anent the issue on the validity of the questioned advertisements, the Code of Professional
Responsibility provides that a lawyer in making known his legal services shall use only true,
honest, fair, dignified and objective information or statement of facts. 33 He is not supposed to
use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory
or unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or legal services. 34 Nor shall he pay or
give something of value to representatives of the mass media in anticipation of, or in return for,
publicity to attract legal business. 35 Prior to the adoption of the code of Professional
Responsibility, the Canons of Professional Ethics had also warned that lawyers should not resort
to indirect advertisements for professional employment, such as furnishing or inspiring
newspaper comments, or procuring his photograph to be published in connection with causes in
which the lawyer has been or is engaged or concerning the manner of their conduct, the
magnitude of the interest involved, the importance of the lawyer's position, and all other like selflaudation. 36

The standards of the legal profession condemn the lawyer's advertisement of his talents. A
lawyer cannot, without violating the ethics of his profession. advertise his talents or skill as in a
manner similar to a merchant advertising his goods. 37 The prescription against advertising of
legal services or solicitation of legal business rests on the fundamental postulate that the that
the practice of law is a profession. Thus, in the case of The Director of Religious Affairs. vs.
Estanislao R. Bayot 38 an advertisement, similar to those of respondent which are involved in the
present proceeding, 39 was held to constitute improper advertising or solicitation.

The pertinent part of the decision therein reads:

It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a flagrant violation by the respondent of
the ethics of his profession, it being a brazen solicitation of business from the public. Section 25
of Rule 127 expressly provides among other things that "the practice of soliciting cases at law for
the purpose of gain, either personally or thru paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." It
is highly unethical for an attorney to advertise his talents or skill as a merchant advertises his
wares. Law is a profession and not a trade. The lawyer degrades himself and his profession who
stoops to and adopts the practices of mercantilism by advertising his services or offering them to
the public. As a member of the bar, he defiles the temple of justice with mercenary activities as
the money-changers of old defiled the temple of Jehovah. "The most worthy and effective
advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer, . . . . is the establishment of a well-merited
reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced but must be the
outcome of character and conduct." (Canon 27, Code of Ethics.).

We repeat, the canon of the profession tell us that the best advertising possible for a lawyer is a
well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust, which must be earned as
the outcome of character and conduct. Good and efficient service to a client as well as to the
community has a way of publicizing itself and catching public attention. That publicity is a normal
by-product of effective service which is right and proper. A good and reputable lawyer needs no
artificial stimulus to generate it and to magnify his success. He easily sees the difference
between a normal by-product of able service and the unwholesome result of propaganda. 40

Of course, not all types of advertising or solicitation are prohibited. The canons of the profession
enumerate exceptions to the rule against advertising or solicitation and define the extent to
which they may be undertaken. The exceptions are of two broad categories, namely, those which
are expressly allowed and those which are necessarily implied from the restrictions. 41

The first of such exceptions is the publication in reputable law lists, in a manner consistent with
the standards of conduct imposed by the canons, of brief biographical and informative data.
"Such data must not be misleading and may include only a statement of the lawyer's name and
the names of his professional associates; addresses, telephone numbers, cable addresses;
branches of law practiced; date and place of birth and admission to the bar; schools attended
with dates of graduation, degrees and other educational distinction; public or quasi-public
offices; posts of honor; legal authorships; legal teaching positions; membership and offices in bar
associations and committees thereof, in legal and scientific societies and legal fraternities; the
fact of listings in other reputable law lists; the names and addresses of references; and, with
their written consent, the names of clients regularly represented." 42

The law list must be a reputable law list published primarily for that purpose; it cannot be a mere
supplemental feature of a paper, magazine, trade journal or periodical which is published
principally for other purposes. For that reason, a lawyer may not properly publish his brief
biographical and informative data in a daily paper, magazine, trade journal or society program.
Nor may a lawyer permit his name to be published in a law list the conduct, management or
contents of which are calculated or likely to deceive or injure the public or the bar, or to lower
the dignity or standing of the profession. 43

The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also permitted. The card may contain only a
statement of his name, the name of the law firm which he is connected with, address, telephone
number and special branch of law practiced. The publication of a simple announcement of the
opening of a law firm or of changes in the partnership, associates, firm name or office address,
being for the convenience of the profession, is not objectionable. He may likewise have his name
listed in a telephone directory but not under a designation of special branch of law. 44

Verily, taking into consideration the nature and contents of the advertisements for which
respondent is being taken to task, which even includes a quotation of the fees charged by said
respondent corporation for services rendered, we find and so hold that the same definitely do not
and conclusively cannot fall under any of the above-mentioned exceptions.

The ruling in the case of Bates, et al. vs. State Bar of Arizona, 45 which is repeatedly invoked and
constitutes the justification relied upon by respondent, is obviously not applicable to the case at
bar. Foremost is the fact that the disciplinary rule involved in said case explicitly allows a lawyer,
as an exception to the prohibition against advertisements by lawyers, to publish a statement of
legal fees for an initial consultation or the availability upon request of a written schedule of fees
or an estimate of the fee to be charged for the specific services. No such exception is provided
for, expressly or impliedly, whether in our former Canons of Professional Ethics or the present

Code of Professional Responsibility. Besides, even the disciplinary rule in the Bates case contains
a proviso that the exceptions stated therein are "not applicable in any state unless and until it is
implemented by such authority in that state." 46 This goes to show that an exception to the
general rule, such as that being invoked by herein respondent, can be made only if and when the
canons expressly provide for such an exception. Otherwise, the prohibition stands, as in the case
at bar.

It bears mention that in a survey conducted by the American Bar Association after the decision in
Bates, on the attitude of the public about lawyers after viewing television commercials, it was
found that public opinion dropped significantly 47 with respect to these characteristics of
lawyers:

Trustworthy from 71% to 14%


Professional from 71% to 14%
Honest

from 65% to 14%

Dignified

from 45% to 14%

Secondly, it is our firm belief that with the present situation of our legal and judicial systems, to
allow the publication of advertisements of the kind used by respondent would only serve to
aggravate what is already a deteriorating public opinion of the legal profession whose integrity
has consistently been under attack lately by media and the community in general. At this point
in time, it is of utmost importance in the face of such negative, even if unfair, criticisms at times,
to adopt and maintain that level of professional conduct which is beyond reproach, and to exert
all efforts to regain the high esteem formerly accorded to the legal profession.

In sum, it is undoubtedly a misbehavior on the part of the lawyer, subject to disciplinary action,
to advertise his services except in allowable instances 48 or to aid a layman in the unauthorized
practice of law. 49 Considering that Atty. Rogelio P. Nogales, who is the prime incorporator, major
stockholder and proprietor of The Legal Clinic, Inc. is a member of the Philippine Bar, he is
hereby reprimanded, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts which are
involved in this proceeding will be dealt with more severely.

While we deem it necessary that the question as to the legality or illegality of the purpose/s for
which the Legal Clinic, Inc. was created should be passed upon and determined, we are
constrained to refrain from lapsing into an obiter on that aspect since it is clearly not within the
adjudicative parameters of the present proceeding which is merely administrative in nature. It is,
of course, imperative that this matter be promptly determined, albeit in a different proceeding
and forum, since, under the present state of our law and jurisprudence, a corporation cannot be
organized for or engage in the practice of law in this country. This interdiction, just like the rule
against unethical advertising, cannot be subverted by employing some so-called paralegals
supposedly rendering the alleged support services.

The remedy for the apparent breach of this prohibition by respondent is the concern and
province of the Solicitor General who can institute the corresponding quo warranto action, 50
after due ascertainment of the factual background and basis for the grant of respondent's
corporate charter, in light of the putative misuse thereof. That spin-off from the instant bar

matter is referred to the Solicitor General for such action as may be necessary under the
circumstances.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to RESTRAIN and ENJOIN herein respondent, The Legal Clinic,
Inc., from issuing or causing the publication or dissemination of any advertisement in any form
which is of the same or similar tenor and purpose as Annexes "A" and "B" of this petition, and
from conducting, directly or indirectly, any activity, operation or transaction proscribed by law or
the Code of Professional Ethics as indicated herein. Let copies of this resolution be furnished the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Office of the Bar Confidant and the Office of the Solicitor
General for appropriate action in accordance herewith.

[A.C. No. 5830. January 26, 2004]

MARY D. MALECDAN, complainant, vs. ATTY. PERCIVAL L. PEKAS and ATTY. MATTHEW P. KOLLIN,
respondents.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:

The instant case arose when Mary D. Malecdan filed a verified Letter-Complaint dated January
19, 2001 addressed to Atty. Ceasar G. Oracion, then President of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP), Baguio and Benguet Chapters, charging Atty. Percival L. Pekas and Atty.
Matthew P. Kollin, with violation of the lawyers oath, as they committed acts not only prejudicial
to [the IBP] but are in themselves in violation of the oath that they have sworn to uphold as [a]
condition for their admission to the bar.[1]

The undisputed facts as culled from the records are as follows:

On November 25, 1999, the complainant entered into a deed of sale with the Spouses
Washington and Eliza Fanged over a parcel of land located in Baguio City, covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title No. T-71030.[2] The complainant paid P10,000 as earnest money, and
P2,600,000 as the full and final payment of the consideration of the sale. The money was
received by Eliza Fanged and deposited in the account of Atty. Artemio Bustamante, then counsel
for the latter. The complainant later found out, however, that the said lot was the subject of a
controversy[3] between the former owners and the Fanged Spouses.

When Atty. Bustamante refused to release the proceeds of the sale to Eliza Fanged, the latter,
through her new counsel respondent Atty. Kollin, filed a complaint for rescission of contract with
prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order with damages[4] against the
complainant, Atty. Bustamante, Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank (PCIB) and Washington
Fanged on December 2, 1999.[5]

Eliza Fanged and the respondents thereafter caused the filing of a Manifestation of Compromise
Settlement with Motion dated December 14, 1999.[6] It was prayed, among others, that an order
be issued directing defendant PCIB to transfer the amount of P30,000 from the account of Atty.

Bustamante to a joint account in the name of respondents Atty. Kollin and Atty. Pekas by way of
attorneys fees. The complainant was not a signatory to the compromise settlement, as she was
in the United States at the time. The money was then transferred to the respective accounts as
prayed for in the compromise settlement.

The Complainants Allegations

According to the complainant, respondent Atty. Kollin knew very well that the money entrusted to
him did not belong to his client, Eliza Fanged. Yet, when the complainants duly authorized
representative Wilfreda Colorado requested that the money be released to her, Atty. Kolin refused
to do so, on the pretext that there was no written authorization from the latter. The respondent,
however, admitted that the money was in his possession.[7] The complainant further averred
that:

11. The said lawyers were aware that the money in the bank which was the subject of Civil Case
No. 4580-R was the consideration for a supposed sale between me and Eliza Fanged which did
not materialize because it could not be registered aside from the fact that it is void pursuant to
the decision in Civil Case No. 4528-R. They knew that the money is not owned by Eliza Fanged.
Yet, despite this knowledge, they misled the court by making it appear that all the parties agreed
to the settlement by filing the manifestation of compromise settlement with motion (Annex G)
knowing that I was abroad and could not have given my consent thereto.

12. Worse, they made it appear that I was copy furnished of the pleading when in truth and in
fact I never received the same as I was in the United States of America. My investigation of the
matter reveals that the sister of Eliza Fanged, Veronica Buking, received the pleading for me.

13. When confronted, Eliza Fanged admitted to me that the money was actually entrusted to
respondent Atty. Matthew Kollin.[8]

The complainant also alleged that she filed the complaint against the respondents because of
the latters connivance in causing the withdrawal of the money in the bank. She pointed out that
while the manifestation of compromise settlement does not bear the signature of Atty. Kollin,
paragraph (b) of the prayer clearly shows that the amount of P30,000 was appropriated to a joint
account belonging to the respondents by way of attorneys fees.

The complainant explained that respondent Atty. Kollin, as counsel for Eliza Fanged in Civil Case
No. 4580-R, prayed that the sale of the property to her (the complainant) be declared null and
void. Proceeding from this premise, then, Eliza Fanged had no right to the money in the bank; the
respondents, likewise, had no right to withdraw the amount of P30,000 to answer for their
attorneys fees. She further averred that the respondents made it appear to the trial court that
she (the complainant) was duly notified of the purported settlement, when she was, in fact, not a
party thereto as evidenced by the records. Thus:

[T]he records reveal that the person who received the copy of the document purporting to cover
the settlement intended for me is the very sister of his client, Eliza Fanged, in the person of

Veronica Buking. Veronica Buking is not and was never a resident of Dagsian, Baguio City, the
location of my permanent residence. Eliza Fanged could not have thought of this scheme.

9. But lawyer as he is, Atty. Kollin must have anticipated possible legal repercussion[s] that would
ensue as a result of this scheme. In the Manifestation of Compromise Settlement with Motion, he
asked his co-respondent, Atty. Pekas, to sign as counsel for Eliza Fanged. Atty. Pekas seem[ed] to
be too willing to extend assistance to Eliza Fanged if only to get the money from the bank.
However, in the actual release, and the partition of the money, the respondents reportedly
actively participated to insure their share of P30,000.00 as attorneys fees. Atty. Pekas did not
stop there. As counsel for Eliza Fanged, he signed the Notice of Dismissal dated December 16,
1999 with a misleading statement that the parties have extrajudicially settled this case amicably
among themselves, when in truth and in fact, I was never consulted. [9]

The Respondents Allegations

The respondents denied the foregoing allegations in their respective answers.

Respondent Atty. Kollin admitted that he knew that the money in the bank was the complainants
payment for the land purchased from the Fanged Spouses. He pointed out, however, that it was
unfair to state that his client Eliza Fanged was not entitled thereto, since in the first place, she
appeared as the vendor in the deed of sale executed between her and the complainant.
Furthermore, although Civil Case No. 4528-R had already been decided by the trial court, the
same was appealed to the Court of Appeals,[10] and did not become final and executory as
erroneously stated by the complainant. Atty. Kollin also pointed out that he was not the original
counsel of the Spouses Fanged in the said case, but merely inherited the same from Atty. Artemio
Bustamante.[11]

The respondent further averred that because Atty. Bustamante and the Fangeds failed to settle
the problem, he filed a complaint for the rescission of the sale, and not for the release of the
money in Atty. Bustamantes possession. According to the respondent:

To me, this is the gist of the problem. Complainant Mary Malecdan strongly believes that she was
swindled because of the said decision. However, the only problem between Dato and Fanged is
the determination of the actual balance and the payment thereof. Settle the balance with Mrs.
Dato and everything would be settled likewise. As of this time, it is very safe to say that the issue
is still SUB JUDICE and complainant could not even be sure of the outcome of said case, although
there is a pending proposal for the eventual settlement of the case by the payment of the unpaid
balance.

Moreover, the title of the subject land is in the possession of the Complainant and could transfer
said title in her name anytime. Perhaps, what the complainant is saying is that the title could be
transferred in her name, however, a notice of lis pendens was annotated therein due to the filing
of the case between O. Dato and the spouses Fanged.

For all intents and purposes, complainant could transfer the title in her name and take
possession of the property although the notice of lis pendens will be transferred or be likewise

annotated in her title. Complainant knows very well that the problem between O. Dato and Eliza
Fanged is the actual balance to be paid as per the first deed of sale; [12]

Respondent Atty. Pekas, for his part, admitted that the amount of P30,000 was transferred by
Atty. Bustamante to their account, but averred that it was done voluntarily. He denied the
allegation that they misled the court by making it appear that the parties agreed to the
compromise settlement with motion, since, as can be gleaned from the compromise agreement
itself, the complainant was not a party thereto.[13] The respondent further alleged that:

20. As best as the respondent can recall, on the late afternoon of December 12, 1999, Atty.
Matthew Kollin called up respondent on the telephone. He was requesting for respondent to
attend a hearing of his case the following day, December 13, 1999, for the issuance of a
temporary restraining order. This was on the pretext that he has another out of town case on the
same date and cannot attend the hearing. As it is a common practice among lawyers,
respondent acceded to the request;

21. As agreed by the respondent and Atty. Matthew Kollin, respondent shall enter a special
appearance for that hearing only. Respondent shall not argue on the matter but shall only
manifest submission of the matter for resolution;

27. That after Eliza Fanged and Wilfreda Colorado related the foregoing story, respondent asked
about the settlement being proposed by the Honorable Court. Eliza Fanged then expressed her
willingness to accept the counter-offer of Atty. Artemio Bustamante to settle the case in the
amount of Two Million;

28. With the new development, respondent contacted the office of Atty. Matthew Kollin to refer
the matter but was informed that the latter is still out of town. Respondent then advised that if
Eliza Fanged is willing, he can assist her in the settlement, to which advice Eliza Fanged acceded;

29. Respondent contacted Atty. Artemio Bustamante who likewise was willing to settle and the
details of the settlement were agreed upon. Afterwhich the proper manifestation and motion was
submitted to the Honorable Court for consideration and ultimately dismissal of the case;

31. That during the whole time that respondent participated in the resolution of the case, he
never committed any act involving deceit and machination. He acted in a way which he thinks is
proper [14]

Respondent Atty. Pekas prayed that the case be dismissed for lack of merit, averring that as a
new and young lawyer, there was no reason for him to risk his future for a measly sum, through
dishonest conduct.[15]

The Proceedings Before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)


Commission on Bar Discipline

On May 7, 2002, Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan issued the following Order:

When this case was called for hearing, Atty. Percival Pekas appeared. Atty. Matthew P. Kollin failed
to appear despite the notice duly served on him.

Complainant Mary D. Malecdan appeared without counsel. She manifested that she is submitting
her case for resolution based on the pleadings on record.

The complainant was ordered to present certified true copies of Annex A attached to her
complaint, the Agreement of Purchase and Sale and the Deed of Absolute Sale, Annex B of her
complaint in favor of Mary Malecdan and the Decision Annex D. Complainant is given ten (10)
days from today to present true copies of her documentary evidence.

Atty. Percival Pekas is given ten (10) days from today to file his rejoinder. Atty. Pekas likewise
manifested that after he shall have filed his rejoinder he submits this case for resolution.[16]

In his Rejoinder, respondent Atty. Pekas reiterated that he acted in good faith, and did not
commit any act of deceit or machination. He also averred that Atty. Artemio Bustamante would
have been a great help in determining the truth, but unfortunately, the complainant chose not to
implead him.[17]

On August 3, 2002, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XV-2002-395, finding
respondent Atty. Kollin guilty of dishonesty to the court, while dismissing the complaint as to
respondent Atty. Pekas, thus:

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part
of this Resolution/Decision as Annex A; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the
evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering Atty. Matthew P. Kollins
dishonesty to the court with resulting damage and prejudice to the complainant, Respondent
Atty. Kollins (sic) is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) years. The
complaint against Atty. Pekas is DISMISSED for there is no evidence on record to prove that he
was aware of the defect in Eliza Fange[d]s right to claim the sales proceeds with a WARNING that
Atty. Pekas should be more circumspect with respect to taking over other lawyers cases and
handling sensitive matters such as the compromise settlement in Civil Case No. 4580-R.

According to IBP Commissioner Milagros V. San Juans Report dated May 30, 2002, the main issue
to be resolved in the case was factual in nature: whether or not the respondents knowingly
caused the withdrawal from the bank of the purchase price of the lot in question, despite their
knowledge of a defect in their clients right to claim the said amount. The Commission found that
respondent Atty. Kollin knew that his clients title was defective, having represented her in Civil
Case No. 4528-R. He should have been mindful that his client had no right over the purchase
price as paid by the complainant. Respondent Atty. Pekas was, however, exonerated of the
charges against him, thus:

Insofar as respondent Atty. Pekas is concerned, it should be noted that there is no evidence on
record to prove that respondent Atty. Pekas was aware of the defect in Eliza Fangeds right to
claim [t]he sales proceeds. It is likely that respondent Atty. Pekas unwittingly played into the
hands of respondent Atty. Kolin when he signed said Manifestation of Compromise Settlement.
[18]

In his October 12, 2002 Motion for Reconsideration of the foregoing IBP Resolution, respondent
Atty. Kollin alleged that contrary to the finding of the Commission, he was unaware of the defect
in his clients (Eliza Fangeds) right to claim the sales proceeds. He filed the case for nullification of
contract with prayer for the rescission of the sale between the complainant and his client on the
ground that the latter would be disadvantaged if Atty. Bustamante succeeded in taking a huge
chunk of the money deposited in his name. According to the respondent, if he was, indeed,
interested in the money, he could have filed a case to compel Atty. Bustamante to release the
money to his client, and not a complaint for rescission of contract. The respondent also reiterated
that the reason why he requested respondent Atty. Pekas to attend the hearing of the case as
collaborating counsel was that he attended a hearing in Bontoc, Mt. Province on December 14,
2002.[19]

According to the respondent, the complainant should have filed the instant case against Atty.
Bustamante who was the real architect in the release of the money and the execution of the
compromise settlement with motion. The complainant should have also questioned the order of
the RTC judge concerned as to why no notice was issued to her before the money was released.

The Ruling of the Court

It is a settled principle that the compensation of a lawyer should be but a mere incident of the
practice of law, the primary purpose of which is to render public service.[20] The practice of law
is a profession and not a money-making trade.[21] As they are an indispensable part of the
system of administering justice, attorneys must comply strictly with the oath of office and the
canons of professional ethics a duty more than imperative during these critical times when
strong and disturbing criticisms are hurled at the practice of law. The process of imbibing ethical
standards can begin with the simple act of openness and candor in dealing with clients, which
would progress thereafter towards the ideal that a lawyers vocation is not synonymous with an
ordinary business proposition but a serious matter of public interest. [22]

Respondent Atty. Kollin knew that the money did not belong to his client, Eliza Fanged. He
admitted this much in the complaint he himself prepared in Civil Case No. 4580-R, thus:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, it is most respectfully prayed of this Honorable
Court:

I. BEFORE HEARING:

1. That it orders (sic) the issuance of a temporary restraining order directing the manager of the
PCIBank Session Rd., Baguio City branch, through its branch manager, Oscar Aquino, to cease
and desist from allowing withdrawal by Atty. Bustamante of the amount of P2,450,000.00 deposit
in his account;

II. DURING HEARING:

1. That it orders the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction restraining the defendant
PCIBank or its agents from disbursing or allowing withdrawal by Atty. Bustamante of the amount
of P2,450,000.00 deposited in his account;

III. AFTER HEARING:

1. To order defendants Atty. Artemio Bustamante and the PCIBank, Session Rd., Baguio City
branch, to release the amount of P2,450,000.00 in favor of Mary Malicdan (sic);

2. To order defendant Atty. Artemio Bustamante to pay the amount of P30,000.00 as attorneys
fees;

3. To order that the deed of sale executed between the Spouses Washington Fanged and Eliza
Fanged in favor of Mary Malicdan (sic) be declared null and void;

4. To order Atty. Artemio Bustamante to release the original owners copy of title no. T-71030 of
the registry of deeds of Baguio City to the complainant;[23]

Respondent Atty. Kollin cannot now assert that the reason why the prayer in the complaint
included the release of the money in favor of the complainant was that his client realized that
P600,000 would be too much to be given to Atty. Bustamante as attorneys fees. The respondent
is bound by this assertion in his pleading,[24] which, as can reasonably be inferred, was made
because he himself believed that his client was not entitled to the money in question. The
respondent cannot, likewise, find refuge in the fact that his signature did not appear in the
compromise agreement executed between the parties. As found by the IBP Commission on Bar
Discipline:

[A]lthough it was respondent Atty. Pekas who signed the Manifestation of Compromise
Settlement with Motion as counsel for Eliza Fanged, it is unbelievable that respondent Atty. Pekas
would dare to sign said Manifestation without the approval or consent of respondent Atty. Kollin,
the counsel of record of Eliza Fanged. As respondent Atty. Pekas himself stated his authority with
respect to Civil Case No. 4580-R was limited as follows: As agreed by the respondent and Atty.
Matthew Kollin, respondent shall enter a special appearance for that hearing only. Respondent
shall not argue on the matter but shall only manifest submission of the matter for resolution. If as
respondent Atty. Pekas claims he was only authorized by respondent Atty. Kollin to attend one
hearing of Civil Case No. 4580-R, why did he exceed such authority by executing the

Manifestation of Compromise Settlement on behalf of Eliza Fanged, respondent Atty. Kollins


client?

The most plausible explanation in this matter is that respondent Atty. Kollin in fact authorized
respondent Atty. Pekas to execute the Manifestation of Compromise Settlement on behalf of his
(respondent Atty. Kollin) client Eliza Fanged in order to pave the way for the release of the sales
proceeds. This maneuver was resorted to by the respondent Atty. Kollin in order to avoid any
responsibility for securing the release of the sales proceeds to his client despite his knowledge
that his client Eliza Fanged had no right thereto. By having respondent Atty. Pekas sign the
Manifestation of Compromise Settlement, it was the intention of respondent Atty. Kollin to
distance himself from such pleading and claim no responsibility or participation therein so that
the same would not be tainted by his apparent knowledge of the defect in Eliza Fangeds right to
claim the sales proceeds. In this respect, respondent Atty. Kollin and his client Eliza [F]anged
have succeeded as they have secured the release of the sales proceeds to the detriment and
prejudice of herein complainant.[25]

Contrary to the findings of the IBP, respondent Atty. Pekas cannot validly claim that he acted in
good faith as his superior, respondent Atty. Kollin, merely authorized him to attend the December
2, 1999 hearing of Civil Case No. 4580-R. Atty. Pekas, in entering into a compromise agreement,
overstepped the authority he was purportedly given. He was only authorized to manifest
submission of the matter for resolution. Furthermore, respondent Atty. Pekas himself claimed that
the complainant could not question the compromise agreement as she was not a party thereto.
Atty. Pekas, thus, knew that there was no valid compromise agreement, as one of the parties in
the case was absent at the time it was entered into. He knew that no valid notice was given to
the complainant, since the signatory to the notice of the manifestation of compromise
agreement was a certain Veronica Buking.[26]

Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility mandates all members of the bar to obey the
laws of the land and promote respect for the law. Rule 1.01 of the Code specifically provides that
a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.[27] A lawyer is
expected, at all times, to uphold the integrity of the legal profession. Whenever it is made to
appear that a lawyer is no longer worthy of the trust and confidence of the public, it becomes not
only the right but the duty of the Court which made him one of its officers and gave him the
privilege of ministering within its bar to withdraw the privilege.[28]

A lawyer may legally apply a clients funds in his possession to satisfy professional fees which the
client owes him, in the absence of any dispute as to the legality of the amount thereof.[29]
However, the fact that a lawyer has a lien for his fees on the clients money in his possession or
the circumstance that the client owes him more than the clients funds in his hands may not
excuse him from making an accounting nor entitle him to unilaterally apply the clients money to
satisfy his disputed claims.[30] In this case, the amount of P30,000 which the respondents took
for themselves as attorneys fees belonged to a third person, not their client, as admitted by
them in their complaint; the owner was, in fact, an adverse party. It was the possession of the
money, its entitlement, which was in fact put in issue in the complaint for rescission of contract,
and, if respondent Atty. Kollin is to be believed, prompted the filing of the complaint itself. Thus,
the respondents could not, without a claiming partys knowledge, apply the amount of P30,000
for themselves as attorneys fees. If there was someone liable for the respondents attorneys fees,
it was their client, Eliza Fanged. It cannot be said that there was a real compromise as to the
manner in which the amount of P2,600,000 was to be applied, since the complainant was not
present when the said agreement was made.

In the recent case of Emiliano Court Townhouses Homeowners Association v. Atty. Michael
Dioneda,[31] we had the occasion to state, thus:

The primary objective of administrative cases against lawyers is not only to punish and discipline
the erring individual lawyers but also to safeguard the administration of justice by protecting the
courts and the public from the misconduct of lawyers, and to remove from the legal profession
persons whose utter disregard of their lawyers oath has proven them unfit to continue
discharging the trust reposed in them as members of the bar. A lawyer may be disbarred or
suspended for misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity, which shows him to
be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity and good demeanor or unworthy to continue as
an officer of the court.[32]

An attorneys only safe guide is high moral principle, as the torch to light his way; his best shield
is a clear conscience and an unblemished personal record; and his just reward is to find his
highest honor in a deserved reputation for fidelity to private trust and to public duty, as an
honest man and as a patriotic and loyal citizen.[33] The fiduciary duty of a lawyer and advocate
is what places the law profession in a unique position of trust and confidence, and distinguishes
it from any other calling. Once this trust and confidence is betrayed, the faith of the people not
only on the individual lawyer but also in the legal profession as a whole is eroded. To this end, all
members of the bar are strictly required to, at all times, maintain the highest degree of public
confidence in the fidelity, honesty, and integrity of their profession.[34]

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Matthew P. Kollin is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a
period of three (3) years. Atty. Percival L. Pekas is, likewise, SUSPENDED from the practice of law
for a period of six (6) months.

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished to the Office of the Court Administrator, the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines, and the Office of the Bar Confidant.

G.R. No. 155224 August 23, 2006

VINSON B. PINEDA, Petitioner,


vs.
ATTY. CLODUALDO C. DE JESUS, ATTY. CARLOS AMBROSIO and ATTY. EMMANUEL MARIANO,
Respondents.

DECISION

CORONA, J.:

The subject of this petition for review is the April 30, 2002 decision1 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CV No. 68080 which modified the order2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City,
Branch 151, in JDRC Case No. 2568 entitled Ma. Aurora D. Pineda v. Vinson B. Pineda.

The facts follow.

On April 6, 1993, Aurora Pineda filed an action for declaration of nullity of marriage against
petitioner Vinson Pineda in the RTC of Pasig City, Branch 151, docketed as JDRC Case No. 2568.
Petitioner was represented by respondents Attys. Clodualdo de Jesus, Carlos Ambrosio and
Emmanuel Mariano.

During the pendency of the case, Aurora proposed a settlement to petitioner regarding her
visitation rights over their minor child and the separation of their properties. The proposal was
accepted by petitioner and both parties subsequently filed a motion for approval of their
agreement. This was approved by the trial court. On November 25, 1998, the marriage between
petitioner and Aurora Pineda was declared null and void.

Throughout the proceedings, respondent counsels were well-compensated.3 They, including their
relatives and friends, even availed of free products and treatments from petitioners dermatology
clinic. This notwithstanding, they billed petitioner additional legal fees amounting to P16.5
million4 which the latter, however, refused to pay. Instead, petitioner issued them several checks
totaling P1.12 million5 as "full payment for settlement."6

Still not satisfied, respondents filed in the same trial court7 a motion

for payment of lawyers fees for P50 million.8

On April 14, 2000, the trial court ordered petitioner to pay P5 million to Atty. de Jesus, P2 million
to Atty. Ambrosio and P2 million to Atty. Mariano.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals reduced the amount as follows: P1 million to Atty. de Jesus,
P500,000 to Atty. Ambrosio and P500,000 to Atty. Mariano. The motion for reconsideration was
denied. Hence, this recourse.

The issues raised in this petition are:

(1) whether the Pasig RTC, Branch 151 had jurisdiction over the claim for additional legal fees
and

(2) whether respondents were entitled to additional legal fees.

First, a lawyer may enforce his right to his fees by filing the necessary petition as an incident of
the main action in which his services were rendered or in an independent suit against his client.
The former is preferable to avoid multiplicity of suits.9

The Pasig RTC, Branch 151, where the case for the declaration of nullity of marriage was filed,
had jurisdiction over the motion for the payment of legal fees. Respondents sought to collect P50
million which was equivalent to 10% of the value of the properties awarded to petitioner in that
case. Clearly, what respondents were demanding was additional payment for legal services
rendered in the same case.

Second, the professional engagement between petitioner and respondents was governed by the
principle of quantum meruit which means "as much as the lawyer deserves."10 The recovery of
attorneys fees on this basis is permitted, as in this case, where there is no express agreement
for the payment of attorneys fees. Basically, it is a legal mechanism which prevents an
unscrupulous client from running away with the fruits of the legal services of counsel without
paying for it. In the same vein, it avoids unjust enrichment on the part of the lawyer himself.

Further, Rule 20.4 of the Code of Professional Responsibility advises lawyers to avoid
controversies with clients concerning their compensation and to resort to judicial action only to
prevent imposition, injustice or fraud. Suits to collect fees should be avoided and should be filed
only when circumstances force lawyers to resort to it.11

In the case at bar, respondents motion for payment of their lawyers fees was not meant to
collect what was justly due them; the fact was, they had already been adequately paid.

Demanding P50 million on top of the generous sums and perks already given to them was an act
of unconscionable greed which is shocking to this Court.

As lawyers, respondents should be reminded that they are members of an honorable profession,
the primary vision of which is justice. It is respondents despicable behavior which gives
lawyering a bad name in the minds of some people. The vernacular has a word for it:
nagsasamantala. The practice of law is a decent profession and not a money-making trade.
Compensation should be but a mere incident.12

Respondents claim for additional legal fees was not justified. They could not charge petitioner a
fee based on percentage, absent an express agreement to that effect. The payments to them in
cash, checks, free products and services from petitioners business all of which were not
denied by respondents more than sufficed for the work they did. The "full payment for
settlement"13 should have discharged petitioners obligation to them.

The power of this Court to reduce or even delete the award of attorneys fees cannot be denied.
Lawyers are officers of the Court and they participate in the fundamental function of
administering justice.14 When they took their oath, they submitted themselves to the authority
of the Court and subjected their professional fees to judicial control. 15

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby PARTIALLY GRANTED. The decision of the Court of Appeals
dated April 30, 2002 in CAG.R. CV No. 68080 is hereby MODIFIED. The award of additional
attorneys fees in favor of respondents is hereby DELETED.

BAR MATTER No. 914

October 1, 1999

RE: APPLICATION FOR ADMISSION TO THE PHILIPPINE BAR,

vs.

VICENTE D. CHING, applicant.

RESOLUTION

KAPUNAN, J.:

Can a legitimate child born under the 1935 Constitution of a Filipino mother and an alien father
validly elect Philippine citizenship fourteen (14) years after he has reached the age of majority?
This is the question sought to be resolved in the present case involving the application for
admission to the Philippine Bar of Vicente D. Ching.

The facts of this case are as follows:

Vicente D. Ching, the legitimate son of the spouses Tat Ching, a Chinese citizen, and Prescila A.
Dulay, a Filipino, was born in Francia West, Tubao, La Union on 11 April 1964. Since his birth,
Ching has resided in the Philippines.

On 17 July 1998, Ching, after having completed a Bachelor of Laws course at the St. Louis
University in Baguio City, filed an application to take the 1998 Bar Examinations. In a Resolution
of this Court, dated 1 September 1998, he was allowed to take the Bar Examinations, subject to
the condition that he must submit to the Court proof of his Philippine citizenship.

In compliance with the above resolution, Ching submitted on 18 November 1998, the following
documents:

1.
Certification, dated 9 June 1986, issued by the Board of Accountancy of the Professional
Regulations Commission showing that Ching is a certified public accountant;

2.
Voter Certification, dated 14 June 1997, issued by Elizabeth B. Cerezo, Election Officer of
the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in Tubao La Union showing that Ching is a registered
voter of the said place; and

3.
Certification, dated 12 October 1998, also issued by Elizabeth B. Cerezo, showing that
Ching was elected as a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Tubao, La Union during the 12 May
1992 synchronized elections.

On 5 April 1999, the results of the 1998 Bar Examinations were released and Ching was one of
the successful Bar examinees. The oath-taking of the successful Bar examinees was scheduled
on 5 May 1999. However, because of the questionable status of Ching's citizenship, he was not
allowed to take his oath. Pursuant to the resolution of this Court, dated 20 April 1999, he was
required to submit further proof of his citizenship. In the same resolution, the Office of the
Solicitor General (OSG) was required to file a comment on Ching's petition for admission to the
bar and on the documents evidencing his Philippine citizenship.

The OSG filed its comment on 8 July 1999, stating that Ching, being the "legitimate child of a
Chinese father and a Filipino mother born under the 1935 Constitution was a Chinese citizen and
continued to be so, unless upon reaching the age of majority he elected Philippine citizenship" 1
in strict compliance with the provisions of Commonwealth Act No. 625 entitled "An Act Providing
for the Manner in which the Option to Elect Philippine Citizenship shall be Declared by a Person
Whose Mother is a Filipino Citizen." The OSG adds that "(w)hat he acquired at best was only an
inchoate Philippine citizenship which he could perfect by election upon reaching the age of
majority." 2 In this regard, the OSG clarifies that "two (2) conditions must concur in order that the
election of Philippine citizenship may be effective, namely: (a) the mother of the person making
the election must be a citizen of the Philippines; and (b) said election must be made upon
reaching the age of majority." 3 The OSG then explains the meaning of the phrase "upon
reaching the age of majority:"

The clause "upon reaching the age of majority" has been construed to mean a reasonable time
after reaching the age of majority which had been interpreted by the Secretary of Justice to be
three (3) years (VELAYO, supra at p. 51 citing Op., Sec. of Justice No. 70, s. 1940, Feb. 27, 1940).
Said period may be extended under certain circumstances, as when a (sic) person concerned has
always considered himself a Filipino (ibid., citing Op. Nos. 355 and 422, s. 1955; 3, 12, 46, 86 and
97, s. 1953). But in Cuenco, it was held that an election done after over seven (7) years was not
made within a reasonable time.

In conclusion, the OSG points out that Ching has not formally elected Philippine citizenship and, if
ever he does, it would already be beyond the "reasonable time" allowed by present
jurisprudence. However, due to the peculiar circumstances surrounding Ching's case, the OSG
recommends the relaxation of the standing rule on the construction of the phrase "reasonable
period" and the allowance of Ching to elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with C.A. No. 625
prior to taking his oath as a member of the Philippine Bar.

On 27 July 1999, Ching filed a Manifestation, attaching therewith his Affidavit of Election of
Philippine Citizenship and his Oath of Allegiance, both dated 15 July 1999. In his Manifestation,
Ching states:

1.

I have always considered myself as a Filipino;

2.
I was registered as a Filipino and consistently declared myself as one in my school records
and other official documents;

3.

I am practicing a profession (Certified Public Accountant) reserved for Filipino citizens;

4.

I participated in electoral process[es] since the time I was eligible to vote;

5.
I had served the people of Tubao, La Union as a member of the Sangguniang Bayan from
1992 to 1995;

6.
625;

I elected Philippine citizenship on July 15, 1999 in accordance with Commonwealth Act No.

7.
My election was expressed in a statement signed and sworn to by me before a notary
public;

8.
I accompanied my election of Philippine citizenship with the oath of allegiance to the
Constitution and the Government of the Philippines;

9.
I filed my election of Philippine citizenship and my oath of allegiance to (sic) the Civil
Registrar of Tubao La Union, and

10.

I paid the amount of TEN PESOS (Ps. 10.00) as filing fees.

Since Ching has already elected Philippine citizenship on 15 July 1999, the question raised is
whether he has elected Philippine citizenship within a "reasonable time." In the affirmative,
whether his citizenship by election retroacted to the time he took the bar examination.

When Ching was born in 1964, the governing charter was the 1935 Constitution. Under Article IV,
Section 1(3) of the 1935 Constitution, the citizenship of a legitimate child born of a Filipino
mother and an alien father followed the citizenship of the father, unless, upon reaching the age
of majority, the child elected Philippine citizenship. 4 This right to elect Philippine citizenship was
recognized in the 1973 Constitution when it provided that "(t)hose who elect Philippine
citizenship pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of nineteen hundred and thirty-five" are
citizens of the Philippines. 5 Likewise, this recognition by the 1973 Constitution was carried over
to the 1987 Constitution which states that "(t)hose born before January 17, 1973 of Filipino
mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority" are Philippine
citizens. 6 It should be noted, however, that the 1973 and 1987 Constitutional provisions on the

election of Philippine citizenship should not be understood as having a curative effect on any
irregularity in the acquisition of citizenship for those covered by the 1935 Constitution. 7 If the
citizenship of a person was subject to challenge under the old charter, it remains subject to
challenge under the new charter even if the judicial challenge had not been commenced before
the effectivity of the new Constitution. 8

C.A. No. 625 which was enacted pursuant to Section 1(3), Article IV of the 1935 Constitution,
prescribes the procedure that should be followed in order to make a valid election of Philippine
citizenship. Under Section 1 thereof, legitimate children born of Filipino mothers may elect
Philippine citizenship by expressing such intention "in a statement to be signed and sworn to by
the party concerned before any officer authorized to administer oaths, and shall be filed with the
nearest civil registry. The said party shall accompany the aforesaid statement with the oath of
allegiance to the Constitution and the Government of the Philippines."

However, the 1935 Constitution and C.A. No. 625 did not prescribe a time period within which the
election of Philippine citizenship should be made. The 1935 Charter only provides that the
election should be made "upon reaching the age of majority." The age of majority then
commenced upon reaching twenty-one (21) years. 9 In the opinions of the Secretary of Justice on
cases involving the validity of election of Philippine citizenship, this dilemma was resolved by
basing the time period on the decisions of this Court prior to the effectivity of the 1935
Constitution. In these decisions, the proper period for electing Philippine citizenship was, in turn,
based on the pronouncements of the Department of State of the United States Government to
the effect that the election should be made within a "reasonable time" after attaining the age of
majority. 10 The phrase "reasonable time" has been interpreted to mean that the election should
be made within three (3) years from reaching the age of
majority. 11 However, we held in Cuenco vs. Secretary of Justice, 12 that the three (3) year
period is not an inflexible rule. We said:

It is true that this clause has been construed to mean a reasonable period after reaching the age
of majority, and that the Secretary of Justice has ruled that three (3) years is the reasonable time
to elect Philippine citizenship under the constitutional provision adverted to above, which period
may be extended under certain circumstances, as when the person concerned has always
considered himself a Filipino. 13

However, we cautioned in Cuenco that the extension of the option to elect Philippine citizenship
is not indefinite:

Regardless of the foregoing, petitioner was born on February 16, 1923. He became of age on
February 16, 1944. His election of citizenship was made on May 15, 1951, when he was over
twenty-eight (28) years of age, or over seven (7) years after he had reached the age of majority.
It is clear that said election has not been made "upon reaching the age of majority." 14

In the present case, Ching, having been born on 11 April 1964, was already thirty-five (35) years
old when he complied with the requirements of C.A. No. 625 on 15 June 1999, or over fourteen
(14) years after he had reached the age of majority. Based on the interpretation of the phrase
"upon reaching the age of majority," Ching's election was clearly beyond, by any reasonable
yardstick, the allowable period within which to exercise the privilege. It should be stated, in this
connection, that the special circumstances invoked by Ching, i.e., his continuous and
uninterrupted stay in the Philippines and his being a certified public accountant, a registered

voter and a former elected public official, cannot vest in him Philippine citizenship as the law
specifically lays down the requirements for acquisition of Philippine citizenship by election.

Definitely, the so-called special circumstances cannot constitute what Ching erroneously labels
as informal election of citizenship. Ching cannot find a refuge in the case of In re: Florencio
Mallare, 15 the pertinent portion of which reads:

And even assuming arguendo that Ana Mallare were (sic) legally married to an alien, Esteban's
exercise of the right of suffrage when he came of age, constitutes a positive act of election of
Philippine citizenship. It has been established that Esteban Mallare was a registered voter as of
April 14, 1928, and that as early as 1925 (when he was about 22 years old), Esteban was already
participating in the elections and campaigning for certain candidate[s]. These acts are sufficient
to show his preference for Philippine citizenship. 16

Ching's reliance on Mallare is misplaced. The facts and circumstances obtaining therein are very
different from those in the present case, thus, negating its applicability. First, Esteban Mallare
was born before the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution and the enactment of C.A. No. 625.
Hence, the requirements and procedures prescribed under the 1935 Constitution and C.A. No.
625 for electing Philippine citizenship would not be applicable to him. Second, the ruling in
Mallare was an obiter since, as correctly pointed out by the OSG, it was not necessary for
Esteban Mallare to elect Philippine citizenship because he was already a Filipino, he being a
natural child of a Filipino mother. In this regard, the Court stated:

Esteban Mallare, natural child of Ana Mallare, a Filipina, is therefore himself a Filipino, and no
other act would be necessary to confer on him all the rights and privileges attached to Philippine
citizenship (U.S. vs. Ong Tianse, 29 Phil. 332; Santos Co vs. Government of the Philippine Islands,
42 Phil. 543, Serra vs. Republic, L-4223, May 12, 1952, Sy Quimsuan vs. Republic, L-4693, Feb.
16, 1953; Pitallano vs. Republic, L-5111, June 28, 1954). Neither could any act be taken on the
erroneous belief that he is a non-filipino divest him of the citizenship privileges to which he is
rightfully entitled. 17

The ruling in Mallare was reiterated and further elaborated in Co vs. Electoral Tribunal of the
House of Representatives, 18 where we held:

We have jurisprudence that defines "election" as both a formal and an informal process.

In the case of In re: Florencio Mallare (59 SCRA 45 [1974]), the Court held that the exercise of the
right of suffrage and the participation in election exercises constitute a positive act of election of
Philippine citizenship. In the exact pronouncement of the Court, we held:

Esteban's exercise of the right of suffrage when he came of age constitutes a positive act of
Philippine citizenship. (p. 52: emphasis supplied)

The private respondent did more than merely exercise his right of suffrage. He has established
his life here in the Philippines.

For those in the peculiar situation of the respondent who cannot be excepted to have elected
Philippine citizenship as they were already citizens, we apply the In Re Mallare rule.

xxx

xxx

xxx

The filing of sworn statement or formal declaration is a requirement for those who still have to
elect citizenship. For those already Filipinos when the time to elect came up, there are acts of
deliberate choice which cannot be less binding. Entering a profession open only to Filipinos,
serving in public office where citizenship is a qualification, voting during election time, running
for public office, and other categorical acts of similar nature are themselves formal
manifestations for these persons.

An election of Philippine citizenship presupposes that the person electing is an alien. Or his
status is doubtful because he is a national of two countries. There is no doubt in this case about
Mr. Ong's being a Filipino when he turned twenty-one (21).

We repeat that any election of Philippine citizenship on the part of the private respondent would
not only have been superfluous but it would also have resulted in an absurdity. How can a Filipino
citizen elect Philippine citizenship? 19

The Court, like the OSG, is sympathetic with the plight of Ching. However, even if we consider
the special circumstances in the life of Ching like his having lived in the Philippines all his life and
his consistent belief that he is a Filipino, controlling statutes and jurisprudence constrain us to
disagree with the recommendation of the OSG. Consequently, we hold that Ching failed to validly
elect Philippine citizenship. The span of fourteen (14) years that lapsed from the time he reached
the age of majority until he finally expressed his intention to elect Philippine citizenship is clearly
way beyond the contemplation of the requirement of electing "upon reaching the age of
majority." Moreover, Ching has offered no reason why he delayed his election of Philippine
citizenship. The prescribed procedure in electing Philippine citizenship is certainly not a tedious
and painstaking process. All that is required of the elector is to execute an affidavit of election of
Philippine citizenship and, thereafter, file the same with the nearest civil registry. Ching's
unreasonable and unexplained delay in making his election cannot be simply glossed over.

Philippine citizenship can never be treated like a commodity that can be claimed when needed
and suppressed when convenient. 20 One who is privileged to elect Philippine citizenship has
only an inchoate right to such citizenship. As such, he should avail of the right with fervor,
enthusiasm and promptitude. Sadly, in this case, Ching slept on his opportunity to elect
Philippine citizenship and, as a result. this golden privilege slipped away from his grasp.
B.M. No. 44 February 24, 1992

EUFROSINA Y. TAN, complainant,

vs.
NICOLAS EL. SABANDAL, respondent.

SBC No. 609 February 24, 1992

MOISES B. BOQUIA, complainant,


vs.
NICOLAS EL. SABANDAL, respondent.

SBC No. 616 February 24, 1992

HERVE DAGPIN, complainant,


vs.
NICOLAS EL. SABANDAL, respondent.

Nelbert T. Paculan for respondent.

Moises B. Boquia for himself and Herve Dagpin.

RESOLUTION

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:

On 29 November 1983, * this Court sustained the charge of unauthorized practice of law filed
against respondent Sabandal and accordingly denied the latter's petition to be allowed to take
the oath as member of the Philippine Bar and to sign the Roll of Attorneys.

From 1984-1988, Sabandal filed Motions for Reconsideration of the aforesaid Resolution, all of
which were either denied or "Noted without action." The Court, however, on 10 February 1989,
after considering his plea for mercy and forgiveness, his willingness to reform and the several
testimonials attesting to his good moral character and civic consciousness, reconsidered its
earlier Resolution and finally allowed him to take the lawyer's oath "with the Court binding him to
his assurance that he shall strictly abide by and adhere to the language, meaning and spirit of

the Lawyer's Oath and the highest standards of the legal profession" (Yap Tan v. Sabandal, 10
February 1989, 170 SCRA 211).

However, before a date could be set for Sabandal's oath-taking, complainants Tan, Dagpin and
Boquia each filed separate motions for reconsideration of the Resolution of 10 February 1989.
These were acted upon in the Resolution of 4 July 1989 hereunder quoted, in part, for ready
reference:

On 7 April 1989, Complainant Herve Dagpin in SBC No. 616, and Complainant Moises Boquia in
SBC No. 609 also filed a Motion for Reconsideration of our Resolution allowing respondent to take
his oath. They alleged that respondent had deliberately and maliciously excluded them in his
Petition of 28 June 1988. That, of course, is without merit considering that in his Petition of 28
June 1988, respondent had discussed said cases quite lengthily.

On 27 April 1989, Complainant Tan also manifested that Complainant Benjamin Cabigon in BM
No. 59 and Complainant Cornelio Agnis in SBC No. 624, had passed away so that they are in no
position to submit their respective Comments.

One of the considerations we had taken into account in allowing respondent to take his oath, was
a testimonial from the IBP Zamboanga del Norte Chapter, dated 29 December 1986, certifying
that respondent was "acting with morality and has been careful in his actuations in the
community."

Complainant Tan maintains that said IBP testimonial was signed only by the then President of the
IBP, Zamboanga del Norte Chapter, Atty. Senen O. Angeles, without authorization from the Board
of Officers of said Chapter; and that Atty. Angeles was respondent's own counsel as well as the
lawyer of respondent's parents-in-law in CAR Case No. 347, Ozamiz City. Attached to
Complainant's Motion for Reconsideration was a Certification, dated 24 February 1989, signed by
the IBP Zamboanga del Norte Chapter President, Atty. Norberto L. Nuevas, stating that "the
present Board of Officers with the undersigned as President had not issued any testimonial
attesting to the good moral character and civic consciousness of Mr. Nicolas Sabandal."

In his Comment, received by the Court on 27 March 1989, respondent states that the IBP
testimonial referred to by Complainant Tan must have been that signed by the former IBP
Zamboanga del Norte Chapter President, Atty. Senen O. Angeles, addressed to the Chief Justice,
dated 29 December 1986, and that he himself had not submitted to the Court any certification
from the IBP Zamboanga del Norte Chapter Board of Officers of 1988-1989.

Under the circumstances, the Court has deemed it best to require the present Board of Officers
of the IBP, Zamboanga del Norte Chapter, to MANIFEST whether or not it is willing to give a
testimonial certifying to respondent's good moral character as to entitle him to take the lawyer's
oath, and if not, the reason therefor. The Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of
Zamboanga del Norte is likewise required to submit a COMMENT on respondent's moral fitness to
be a member of the Bar.

Compliance herewith is required within ten (10) days from notice.

Pursuant to the aforesaid Resolution, Judge Pelagio R. Lachica, Executive Judge of the Regional
Trial Court of Zamboanga del Norte, filed his Comment, dated 4 August 1989, and received on 25
August 1989, pertinently reading:

The undersigned, who is not well acquainted personally with the respondent, is not aware of any
acts committed by him as would disqualify him from admission to the Bar. It might be relevant to
mention, however, that there is Civil Case No. 3747 entitled Republic of the Philippines,
Represented by the Director of Lands, Plaintiff, versus Nicolas Sabandal, Register of Deeds of
Zamboanga del Norte and Rural Bank of Pinan, (Zamboanga del Norte), Inc., for Cancellation of
Title and/or Reversion pending in this Court in which said respondent, per complaint filed by the
Office of the Solicitor General, is alleged to have secured a free patent and later a certificate of
title to a parcel of land which, upon investigation, turned out to be a swampland and not
susceptible of acquisition under a free patent, and which he later mortgaged to the Rural Bank of
Pinan (ZN) Inc. The mortgage was later foreclosed and the land sold at public auction and
respondent has not redeemed the land until the present. (Emphasis Supplied)

The IBP Zamboanga del Norte Chapter also submitted a Certification, dated 2 February 1990,
signed by its Secretary Peter Y. Co and attested to by its President Gil L. Batula, to wit:

This is to certify that based on the certifications issued by the Office of the Clerk of Court
Municipal Trial Court in the City of Dipolog; Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga del Norte and the
Office of the Provincial and City Prosecutors, Mr. Nicolas E. Sabandal has not been convicted of
any crime, nor is there any pending derogatory criminal case against him. Based on the above
findings, the Board does not find any acts committed by the petitioner to disqualify him from
admission to the Philippine Bar.

We required the complainants to comment on the aforesaid IBP Certification and to reply to
Executive Judge Pelagio Lachica's comment in our Resolution of 15 February 1990.

On 17 April 1990, after taking note of the unrelenting vehement objections of complainants Tan
(in BM 44) and Boquia (in SBC 616) and the Certification by Executive Judge Lachica, dated 4
August 1989, that there is a pending case before his Court involving respondent Sabandal, this
Court resolved to DEFER the setting of a date for the oath-taking of respondent Sabandal and
required Judge Lachica to inform this Court of the outcome of the case entitled Republic v.
Sabandal, (Civil Case 3747), pending before his "Sala" as soon as resolved.

In the meantime, on 18 April 1990, the Court received another Comment, dated 13 March 1990,
by complainant Herve Dagpin in SBC 609, vehemently objecting to the oath-taking of respondent
Sabandal and describing his actuations in Civil Case 3747 as manipulative and surreptitious. This
comment was Noted in the Resolution of 22 May 1990.

In a letter, addressed to the Chief Justice, dated 15 August 1990, complainant Tan in Bar Matter
44, informed the Court that her relationship with Sabandal has "already been restored," as he
had asked forgiveness for what has been done to her and that she finds no necessity in pursuing
her case against him. Complainant Tan further stated that she sees no further reason to oppose
his admission to the Bar as he had shown sincere repentance and reformation which she believes

make him morally fit to become a member of the Philippine Bar. "In view of this development,"
the letter stated, "we highly recommend him for admission to the legal profession and request
this Honorable Court to schedule his oath-taking at a time most convenient." This letter was
Noted in the Resolution of 2 October 1990, which also required a comment on Tan's letter from
complainants Boquia and Dagpin.

Moises Boquia, for himself, and complainant Dagpin, in their comment, dated 5 November 1990,
stated thus:

Eufrosina Yap Tan's letter dated 15 August 1990 is a private personal disposition which raises the
question whether personal forgiveness is enough basis to exculpate and obliterate these cases.
On our part, we believe and maintain the importance and finality of the Honorable Supreme
Court's resolutions in these cases. . . .

It is not within the personal competence, jurisdiction and discretion of any party to change or
amend said final resolutions which are already res judicata. Viewed in the light of the foregoing
final and executory resolutions, these cases therefore should not in the least be considered as
anything which is subject and subservient to the changing moods and dispositions of the parties,
devoid of any permanency or finality. Respondent's scheming change in tactics and strategy
could not improve his case.

The above was "Noted" in the Resolution of 29 November 1990.

In compliance with the Resolution of 2 October 1990, Judge Pacifico M. Garcia, Regional Trial
Court Judge of Branch 8, Dipolog City (who apparently succeeded Judge Pelagio Lachica, the
latter having availed of optional retirement on 30 June 1990) submitted to this Court, on 17
December 1990, a copy of the "Judgment," dated 12 December 1990, in Civil Case 3747, entitled
"Republic of the Philippines v. Nicolas Sabandal et al" for Cancellation of Title and/or Reversion,
which, according to him, was already considered closed and terminated.

Said judgment reveals that an amicable settlement, dated 24 October 1990, had been reached
between the principal parties, approved by the Trial Court, and conformed to by the counsel for
defendant Rural Bank of Pinan.

Briefly, the said amicable settlement cancelled the Original Certificate of Title under Free Patent
in Sabandal's name and the latter's mortgage thereof in favor of the Rural Bank of Pinan;
provided for the surrender of the certificate of title to the Register of Deeds for proper
annotation; reverted to the mass of public domain the land covered by the aforesaid Certificate
of' Title with defendant Sabandal refraining from exercising acts of possession or ownership over
said land; caused the defendant Sabandal to pay defendant Rural Bank of Pinan the sum of
P35,000 for the loan and interest; and the Rural Bank of Pinan to waive its cross-claims against
defendant Nicolas Sabandal.

Judge Pacifico Garcia's letter and the afore-mentioned Judgment were NOTED in our Resolution of
29 January 1991. In the same Resolution, complainants Tan, Boquia and Dagpin were required to
comment on the same.

Upon request of Sabandal, a certification, dated 20 December 1990, was sent by Executive judge
Jesus Angeles of the RTC of Zamboanga del Norte, certifying that Sabandal has no pending case
with his Court and that he has no cause to object to his admission to the Philippine Bar. This was
"Noted" in the Resolution of 26 February 1991.

Meanwhile, Sabandal reiterated his prayer to be allowed to take the lawyer's oath in a Motion
dated 8 June 1991. In our Resolution of 1 August 1991, we deferred action on the aforesaid
Motion pending compliance by the complainants with the Resolution of 29 January 1991 requiring
them to comment on the letter of Judge Pacifico M. Garcia.

To date, only complainant Tan has complied with the said Resolution by submitting a Comment,
dated 29 August 1991, stating that the termination of Civil Case No. 3747 is "proof of Sabandal's
sincere reformation, of his repentance with restitution of the rights of complainants he violated,"
and that "there is no more reason to oppose his admission to the Bar." This was "Noted" in the
Resolution of 24 September 1991.

In a Manifestation, dated 6 December 1991, Sabandal reiterates his plea to be allowed to take
the Lawyer's Oath.

His plea must be DENIED.

In our Resolution of 10 February 1989, Sabandal was allowed to take the oath, ten (10) years
having elapsed from the time he took and passed the 1976 Bar examinations, after careful
consideration of his show of contrition and willingness to reform. Also taken cognizance of were
the several testimonials attesting to his good moral character and civic consciousness. At that
time, we had not received the objections from complainant Tan to Sabandal's taking the oath nor
were we aware of the gravity of the civil case against him.

It turns out that Civil Case No. 3747 entitled "Republic of the Philippines v. Nicolas Sabandal" was
instituted by the Government in 1985 and was brought about because of respondent's
procurement of a certificate of free patent over a parcel of land belonging to the public domain
and its use as security for a mortgage in order to obtain a loan. At that time, Sabandal was an
employee of the Bureau of Lands. He did not submit any defense and was declared it default by
order of the RTC dated 26 November 1986. The controversy was eventually settled by mere
compromise with respondent surrendering the bogus certificate of title to the government and
paying-off the mortgagor, "to buy peace and forestall further expenses of litigation incurred by
defendants" (Rollo, Judgment in Civil Case No. 3747). The Office of the Solicitor General
interposed no objection to the approval of the said amicable settlement and prayed that
judgment be rendered in accordance therewith, "as the amicable settlement may amount to a
confession by the defendant" (Rollo, supra). It must also be stressed that in 1985, at the time
said case was instituted, Sabandal's petition to take the lawyer's oath had already been denied
on 29 November 1983 and he was then submitting to this Court motions for reconsideration
alleging his good moral character without, however, mentioning the pendency of that civil case
against him.

In view of the nature of that case and the circumstances attending its termination, the Court now
entertains second thoughts about respondent's fitness to become a member of the Bar.

It should be recalled that Sabandal worked as Land Investigator at the Bureau of Lands. Said
employment facilitated his procurement of the free patent title over property which he could not
but have known was public land. This was manipulative on his part and does not speak well of his
moral character. It is a manifestation of gross dishonesty while in the public service, which can
not be erased by the termination of the case filed by the Republic against him where no
determination of his guilt or innocence was made because the suit had been compromised.
Although as the Solicitor General had pointed out, the amicable settlement was tantamount to a
confession on his part. What is more, he could not but have known of the intrinsic invalidity of his
title and yet he took advantage of it by securing a bank loan, mortgaging it as collateral, and
notwithstanding the foreclosure of the mortgage and the sale of the land at public auction, he did
not lift a finger to redeem the same until the civil case filed against him was eventually
compromised. This is a sad reflection on his sense of honor and fair dealing. His failure to reveal
to this Court the pendency of the civil case for Reversion filed against him during the period that
he was submitting several Motions for Reconsideration before us also reveal his lack of candor
and truthfulness.

There are testimonials attesting to his good moral character, yes. But these were confined to lack
of knowledge of the pendency of any criminal case against him and were obviously made without
awareness of the facts and circumstances surrounding the case instituted by the Government
against him. Those testimonials can not, therefore, outweigh nor smother his acts of dishonesty
and lack of good moral character.

That the other complainants, namely, Moises Boquia (in SBC 606) and Herve Dagpin (in SBC 619)
have not submitted any opposition to his motion to take the oath, is of no moment. They have
already expressed their objections in their earlier comments. That complainant Tan has
withdrawn her objection to his taking the oath can neither tilt the balance in his favor, the basis
of her complaint treating as it does of another subject matter.

Time and again, it has been held that the practice of law is not a matter of right. It is a privilege
bestowed upon individuals who are not only learned in the law but who are also known to
possess good moral character:

The Supreme Court and the Philippine Bar have always tried to maintain a high standard for the
legal profession, both in academic preparation and legal training as well as in honesty and fair
dealing. The Court and the licensed lawyers themselves are vitally interested in keeping this high
standard; and one of the ways of achieving this end is to admit to the practice of this noble
profession only those persons who are known to be honest and to possess good moral
character. . . . (In re Parazo, 82 Phil. 230).

Although the term "good moral character" admits of broad dimensions, it has been defined as
"including at least common honesty" (Royong v. Oblena, Adm. Case No. 376, April 30, 1963, 7
SCRA 859; In re Del Rosario, 52 Phil. 399 [1928]). It has also been held that no moral qualification
for bar membership is more important than truthfulness or candor (Fellner v. Bar Association of
Baltimore City, 131 A. 2d 729).

WHEREFORE, finding respondent Sabandal to be unfit to become a member of the BAR, this
Court's Resolution, dated 10 February 1989 is RECALLED and his prayer to be allowed to take the
lawyer's oath is hereby denied.

[B.M. No. 1131.October 15, 2002]

IN RE:PETITION TO TAKE THE LAWYER'S OATH, VILLANUEVA

EN BANC

Gentlemen:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated 15 OCT 2002.

BAR MATTER NO. 1131 (In Re: Petition to Take the Lawyer's Oath, Jose M. Villanueva, Petitioner.)

Before this Court is a Petition filed by Jose M. Villanueva, an Election Assistant of the COMELEC
with permanent assignment in Glan, Sarangani, praying, that he be allowed to take the lawyer's
oath.

It appears that the Petitioner was an election assistant, With permanent assignment in Glan,
Sarangani. He graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Laws.During the synchronized elections on
May 14, 2002, the Petitioner, although not yet a member of the Philippine Bar, was appointed as
Substitute Chairman of the Municipal Board of Canvassers, representing the Commission on
Elections in Glan, Sarangani. He accepted the appointment and served as Chairman of the Board
of Canvassers. The losing candidates filed, on May 22, 2001, a Petition, with the Commission on
Elections (En Banc), against the Municipal Board of Canvassers including the Petitioner its
Chairman, docketed as SPC No. 01-031 for the declaration of the nullity of the canvass and for
nullification and recall of the proclamation of the winning candidates, with a plea for injunctive
relief. The Petitioners alleged, inter alia, that the Municipal Board of Canvassers was illegally
constituted as the Chairman of the said Board, Jose M. Villanueva, was not a lawyer at the time of
his appointment, as required by Section 226 of the Omnibus Election Code, as amended by
Section 21 of Republic Act 6646.

The COMELEC issued a Resolution granting the petition and declaring the proclamation of the
winning candidates a nullity predicated on the failure of the Board to notify the candidates of the
change of venue of the canvass of the votes.The Municipal Board of Canvassers filed a Petition
for Certiorari with this Court, docketed as G.R. No. 150946, with plea for an injunctive relief The
Court issued a Resolution directing the issuance of a temporary restraining order. The said
Petition Is still pending before the Court.

The losing candidates also filed an election protest, with the Regional Trial Court, docketed as
Election Case No. 01-18, with the Petitioner, as the Chairman and three members of the Board of
Canvassers, as parties-Respondents. The Petitioners therein alleged, inter alia, that the
appointments of the Board of Canvassers were without notice to the Petitioners and without legal
basis. The Petition is still pending with the said Court.

In the meantime, the Petitioner filed an application, with the Court, for him to be allowed to take
the 2001 Bar Examinations.He alleged, in said application, that he was a Respondent in SPC Case
No. 01-032 and Election Case No. 01-18.The Court issued a Resolution allowing the Petitioner to
take the bar examinations, on condition that he submit to the Court, not later than November 23,
2001, copies of the complaints in the election cases filed against him.The Petitioner took the
2001 Bar Examinations end passed with a general weighted average of 78.6000%.The Petitioner
then inquired if he can join the mass oath taking of the successful examinees but was verbally
informed by the Office of the Bar Confidant that he had to submit to the Court clearances in
connection with the election cases lodged against him.

In his Petition, the Petitioner avers that he was impleaded, as Respondent, in his official capacity
as Substitute Chairman of the Municipal Board of Canvassers and not in his personal capacity
and is merely a nominal party. On September 9, 2002, the Bar Confidant submitted a
Memorandum to the Court recommending that the Petition of the Petitioner be granted.

The Petition is denied.

To be admitted as a member of the Bar, the Petitioner must be a person of good moral character.
He has to show that no charges involving moral turpitude are pending against him.In this case,
the Petitioner, although not yet a member of the Philippine Bar, accepted the position of
Substitute Chairman Of the Board of Canvassers, and discharged the duties appurtenant to the
position, although under Section 21 of Republic Act 6646, a substitute Chairman of the Board of
Canvasser must be a ranking lawyer of the Commission on Elections.Under Article XXI, Section
261 of the Omnibus Election Code, one of the prohibited acts is the acceptance by him, although
ineligible, of an appointment for the position of Substitute Chairman or Member of the Board of
Canvassers, and his assumption to office. The outcome of the election cases against the
Petitioner has a bearing on his qualifications as a member of the Philippine Bar.Unless and until
the Petitioner is cleansed of liability for violation of the Omnibus Election Code, it cannot be
gainsaid that the Petitioner possessed a good moral character and that there are no pending
charges against him, involving moral turpitude.

PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Petition is DENIED.The oath-taking of the Petitioner, as a member of


the Philippine Bar is DEFERRED.

B. M. No. 1036. June 10, 2003]

DONNA MARIE S. AGUIRRE, complainant, vs. EDWIN L. RANA, respondent.


DECISION
CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Before one is admitted to the Philippine Bar, he must possess the requisite moral integrity for
membership in the legal profession. Possession of moral integrity is of greater importance than
possession of legal learning. The practice of law is a privilege bestowed only on the morally fit. A
bar candidate who is morally unfit cannot practice law even if he passes the bar examinations.

The Facts

Respondent Edwin L. Rana (respondent) was among those who passed the 2000 Bar
Examinations.

On 21 May 2001, one day before the scheduled mass oath-taking of successful bar examinees as
members of the Philippine Bar, complainant Donna Marie Aguirre (complainant) filed against
respondent a Petition for Denial of Admission to the Bar. Complainant charged respondent with
unauthorized practice of law, grave misconduct, violation of law, and grave misrepresentation.

The Court allowed respondent to take his oath as a member of the Bar during the scheduled
oath-taking on 22 May 2001 at the Philippine International Convention Center. However, the
Court ruled that respondent could not sign the Roll of Attorneys pending the resolution of the
charge against him. Thus, respondent took the lawyers oath on the scheduled date but has not
signed the Roll of Attorneys up to now.

Complainant charges respondent for unauthorized practice of law and grave misconduct.
Complainant alleges that respondent, while not yet a lawyer, appeared as counsel for a
candidate in the May 2001 elections before the Municipal Board of Election Canvassers (MBEC) of
Mandaon, Masbate. Complainant further alleges that respondent filed with the MBEC a pleading
dated 19 May 2001 entitled Formal Objection to the Inclusion in the Canvassing of Votes in Some
Precincts for the Office of Vice-Mayor. In this pleading, respondent represented himself as
counsel for and in behalf of Vice Mayoralty Candidate, George Bunan, and signed the pleading as
counsel for George Bunan (Bunan).

On the charge of violation of law, complainant claims that respondent is a municipal government
employee, being a secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan of Mandaon, Masbate. As such,
respondent is not allowed by law to act as counsel for a client in any court or administrative
body.

On the charge of grave misconduct and misrepresentation, complainant accuses respondent of


acting as counsel for vice mayoralty candidate George Bunan (Bunan) without the latter
engaging respondents services. Complainant claims that respondent filed the pleading as a ploy
to prevent the proclamation of the winning vice mayoralty candidate.

On 22 May 2001, the Court issued a resolution allowing respondent to take the lawyers oath but
disallowed him from signing the Roll of Attorneys until he is cleared of the charges against him.
In the same resolution, the Court required respondent to comment on the complaint against him.

In his Comment, respondent admits that Bunan sought his specific assistance to represent him
before the MBEC. Respondent claims that he decided to assist and advice Bunan, not as a lawyer
but as a person who knows the law. Respondent admits signing the 19 May 2001 pleading that
objected to the inclusion of certain votes in the canvassing. He explains, however, that he did not
sign the pleading as a lawyer or represented himself as an attorney in the pleading.

On his employment as secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan, respondent claims that he submitted
his resignation on 11 May 2001 which was allegedly accepted on the same date. He submitted a
copy of the Certification of Receipt of Revocable Resignation dated 28 May 2001 signed by ViceMayor Napoleon Relox. Respondent further claims that the complaint is politically motivated
considering that complainant is the daughter of Silvestre Aguirre, the losing candidate for mayor
of Mandaon, Masbate. Respondent prays that the complaint be dismissed for lack of merit and
that he be allowed to sign the Roll of Attorneys.

On 22 June 2001, complainant filed her Reply to respondents Comment and refuted the claim of
respondent that his appearance before the MBEC was only to extend specific assistance to
Bunan. Complainant alleges that on 19 May 2001 Emily Estipona-Hao (Estipona-Hao) filed a
petition for proclamation as the winning candidate for mayor. Respondent signed as counsel for
Estipona-Hao in this petition. When respondent appeared as counsel before the MBEC,
complainant questioned his appearance on two grounds: (1) respondent had not taken his oath
as a lawyer; and (2) he was an employee of the government.

Respondent filed a Reply (Re: Reply to Respondents Comment) reiterating his claim that the
instant administrative case is motivated mainly by political vendetta.

On 17 July 2001, the Court referred the case to the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) for
evaluation, report and recommendation.

OBCs Report and Recommendation

The OBC found that respondent indeed appeared before the MBEC as counsel for Bunan in the
May 2001 elections. The minutes of the MBEC proceedings show that respondent actively
participated in the proceedings. The OBC likewise found that respondent appeared in the MBEC
proceedings even before he took the lawyers oath on 22 May 2001. The OBC believes that
respondents misconduct casts a serious doubt on his moral fitness to be a member of the Bar.
The OBC also believes that respondents unauthorized practice of law is a ground to deny his
admission to the practice of law. The OBC therefore recommends that respondent be denied
admission to the Philippine Bar.

On the other charges, OBC stated that complainant failed to cite a law which respondent
allegedly violated when he appeared as counsel for Bunan while he was a government employee.

Respondent resigned as secretary and his resignation was accepted. Likewise, respondent was
authorized by Bunan to represent him before the MBEC.

The Courts Ruling

We agree with the findings and conclusions of the OBC that respondent engaged in the
unauthorized practice of law and thus does not deserve admission to the Philippine Bar.

Respondent took his oath as lawyer on 22 May 2001. However, the records show that respondent
appeared as counsel for Bunan prior to 22 May 2001, before respondent took the lawyers oath. In
the pleading entitled Formal Objection to the Inclusion in the Canvassing of Votes in Some
Precincts for the Office of Vice-Mayor dated 19 May 2001, respondent signed as counsel for
George Bunan. In the first paragraph of the same pleading respondent stated that he was the
(U)ndersigned Counsel for, and in behalf of Vice Mayoralty Candidate, GEORGE T. BUNAN. Bunan
himself wrote the MBEC on 14 May 2001 that he had authorized Atty. Edwin L. Rana as his
counsel to represent him before the MBEC and similar bodies.

On 14 May 2001, mayoralty candidate Emily Estipona-Hao also retained respondent as her
counsel. On the same date, 14 May 2001, Erly D. Hao informed the MBEC that Atty. Edwin L.
Rana has been authorized by REFORMA LM-PPC as the legal counsel of the party and the
candidate of the said party. Respondent himself wrote the MBEC on 14 May 2001 that he was
entering his appearance as counsel for Mayoralty Candidate Emily Estipona-Hao and for the
REFORMA LM-PPC. On 19 May 2001, respondent signed as counsel for Estipona-Hao in the
petition filed before the MBEC praying for the proclamation of Estipona-Hao as the winning
candidate for mayor of Mandaon, Masbate.

All these happened even before respondent took the lawyers oath. Clearly, respondent engaged
in the practice of law without being a member of the Philippine Bar.

In Philippine Lawyers Association v. Agrava,[1] the Court elucidated that:

The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in court; it embraces the
preparation of pleadings and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, the
management of such actions and proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and
in addition, conveyancing. 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 a judicial body, the foreclosure of a 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,
as do the preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the work done involves the
determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect of facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jur. p.
262, 263). (Italics supplied) x x x

In Cayetano v. Monsod,[2] the Court held that practice of law means any activity, in or out of
court, which requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience.
To engage in the practice of law is to perform acts which are usually performed by members of

the legal profession. Generally, to practice law is to render any kind of service which requires the
use of legal knowledge or skill.

Verily, respondent was engaged in the practice of law when he appeared in the proceedings
before the MBEC and filed various pleadings, without license to do so. Evidence clearly supports
the charge of unauthorized practice of law. Respondent called himself counsel knowing fully well
that he was not a member of the Bar. Having held himself out as counsel knowing that he had no
authority to practice law, respondent has shown moral unfitness to be a member of the
Philippine Bar.[3]

The right to practice law is not a natural or constitutional right but is a privilege. It is limited to
persons of good moral character with special qualifications duly ascertained and certified. The
exercise of this privilege presupposes possession of integrity, legal knowledge, educational
attainment, and even public trust[4] since a lawyer is an officer of the court. A bar candidate
does not acquire the right to practice law simply by passing the bar examinations. The practice
of law is a privilege that can be withheld even from one who has passed the bar examinations, if
the person seeking admission had practiced law without a license.[5]

The regulation of the practice of law is unquestionably strict. In Beltran, Jr. v. Abad,[6] a
candidate passed the bar examinations but had not taken his oath and signed the Roll of
Attorneys. He was held in contempt of court for practicing law even before his admission to the
Bar. Under Section 3 (e) of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, a person who engages in the
unauthorized practice of law is liable for indirect contempt of court.[7]

True, respondent here passed the 2000 Bar Examinations and took the lawyers oath. However, it
is the signing in the Roll of Attorneys that finally makes one a full-fledged lawyer. The fact that
respondent passed the bar examinations is immaterial. Passing the bar is not the only
qualification to become an attorney-at-law.[8] Respondent should know that two essential
requisites for becoming a lawyer still had to be performed, namely: his lawyers oath to be
administered by this Court and his signature in the Roll of Attorneys.[9]

On the charge of violation of law, complainant contends that the law does not allow respondent
to act as counsel for a private client in any court or administrative body since respondent is the
secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan.

Respondent tendered his resignation as secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan prior to the acts
complained of as constituting unauthorized practice of law. In his letter dated 11 May 2001
addressed to Napoleon Relox, vice- mayor and presiding officer of the Sangguniang Bayan,
respondent stated that he was resigning effective upon your acceptance.[10] Vice-Mayor Relox
accepted respondents resignation effective 11 May 2001.[11] Thus, the evidence does not
support the charge that respondent acted as counsel for a client while serving as secretary of the
Sangguniang Bayan.

On the charge of grave misconduct and misrepresentation, evidence shows that Bunan indeed
authorized respondent to represent him as his counsel before the MBEC and similar bodies. While
there was no misrepresentation, respondent nonetheless had no authority to practice law.

WHEREFORE, respondent Edwin L. Rana is DENIED admission to the Philippine Bar.

[. June 14, 2005]

VILLA vs. AMA

EN BANC

Sirs/Mesdames:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated JUN 14 2005.

Bar Matter No. 674 (ROMULO M. VILLA vs. JUNEL ANTHONY AMA, MICHAEL FREDERICK MUSNGI
and CRISANTO SARUCA, JR., Successful Bar Examinees.)

Before this Court is a Petition filed on April 13, 2005 by Junel Anthony D. Ama, a successful 1992
Bar Examinee, praying that he be admitted to the Philippine Bar, be allowed to take the Lawyer's
Oath and sign the Roll of Attorneys.

The petitioner, along with other members of the Aquila Legis Fraternity of the Ateneo de Manila
School of Law, was implicated and criminally charged for the death of Jose Leonardo "Lenny"
Villa. An Amended Information for serious physical injuries was filed with the Metropolitan Trial
Court (MTC) of Caloocan City, Branch 53, against the petitioner, docketed as Criminal Case No.
155211. Another criminal Information for Homicide, in relation to the death of Villa, was filed with
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Caloocan City, docketed as Criminal Case No. C-38340.

On April 16, 1993, Romulo Villa, the victim's father, filed a petition with the Court praying that
the petitioner be disallowed from taking the Lawyer's Oath and from signing the Roll of Attorneys
pending final judgment in the criminal cases filed against him.

Eventually, on February 28, 1996, the MTC rendered its decision and acquitted the petitioner. On
the other hand, the RTC, in its Decision dated November 27, 1993, found the petitioner guilty of
homicide through conspiracy.

The RTC Decision was appealed to the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 15520. On
January 10, 2002 the appellate court rendered its decision, setting aside the lower court's finding
of conspiracy and considered the individual actuation of the accused. As for herein petitioner, the
appellate court found him guilty of slight physical injuries under Article 266 of the Revised Penal

Code, and sentenced him to twenty (20) days of arresto menor. He, along with the other
accused, was likewise ordered to jointly pay the heirs of the victim the sum of P30,000.00 as
indemnity.

Instead of serving the twenty (20) day imprisonment, the petitioner applied for
probation[1]cralaw which the RTC of Caloocan City, Branch 130 granted on October 11, 2002.
[2]cralaw

After six (6) months, or on April 10, 2003, the RTC issued its Order[3]cralaw discharging the
petitioner on probation, and declared the case terminated.

Appended to the present petition are various certifications[4]cralaw attesting to the petitioner's
moral character.

On May 6, 2005, the petitioner manifested that he made a manifestation in the case entitled
People vs. Court of Appeals, et al, docketed as G.R. No. 154954, that he is willing to deposit his
share of P7,500.00 in the civil indemnity provided in the CA Decision.

In her Report dated May 10, 2005, Deputy Clerk of Court and Bar Confidant Atty. Ma. Cristina B.
Layusa recommended that petitioner be allowed to take the lawyer's oath and sign the Roll of
Attorneys, citing the cases of In Re: Al Argosino[5]cralaw and In Re: Arthur M. Cuevas, Jr.,
[6]cralaw both involving bar passers who were convicted of the crime reckless imprudence
resulting in homicide, but after serving their respective sentences, were nevertheless allowed by
the Court to take the Lawyer's Oath and sign the Roll of Attorneys. It was also pointed out that in
Bar Matter No. 832, the Court allowed Antonio M. Tuliao, convicted of reckless imprudence
resulting in homicide (which arose out of the same incident as that of Argosino and Cuevas, Jr.,)
to take the Lawyer's Oath and sign the Roll of Attorneys.

The Court agrees with the foregoing recommendation. The crime for which the petitioner was
convicted - slight physical injuries - is after all, a light offense, and cannot be considered a grave
violation of the moral sentiment of the community or done in the spirit of cruelty, hostility, or
revenge; certainly not a crime involving moral turpitude.[7]cralaw

The Court thus resolves to GRANT the petition of Junel Anthony D. Ama. He is hereby allowed to
take the Lawyer's Oath and sign the Roll of Attorneys upon a showing of proof of having
deposited his share in the civil indemnity stated in the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. CR No. 15520, and upon payment of the required fees.

B.M. No. 1678

December 17, 2007

PETITION FOR LEAVE TO RESUME PRACTICE OF LAW,


BENJAMIN M. DACANAY, petitioner.

RESOLUTION

CORONA, J.:

This bar matter concerns the petition of petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay for leave to resume the
practice of law.

Petitioner was admitted to the Philippine bar in March 1960. He practiced law until he migrated
to Canada in December 1998 to seek medical attention for his ailments. He subsequently applied
for Canadian citizenship to avail of Canadas free medical aid program. His application was
approved and he became a Canadian citizen in May 2004.

On July 14, 2006, pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9225 (Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition
Act of 2003), petitioner reacquired his Philippine citizenship.1 On that day, he took his oath of
allegiance as a Filipino citizen before the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto, Canada.
Thereafter, he returned to the Philippines and now intends to resume his law practice. There is a
question, however, whether petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay lost his membership in the
Philippine bar when he gave up his Philippine citizenship in May 2004. Thus, this petition.

In a report dated October 16, 2007, the Office of the Bar Confidant cites Section 2, Rule 138
(Attorneys and Admission to Bar) of the Rules of Court:

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 a 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.

Applying the provision, the Office of the Bar Confidant opines that, by virtue of his reacquisition
of Philippine citizenship, in 2006, petitioner has again met all the qualifications and has none of
the disqualifications for membership in the bar. It recommends that he be allowed to resume the
practice of law in the Philippines, conditioned on his retaking the lawyers oath to remind him of
his duties and responsibilities as a member of the Philippine bar.

We approve the recommendation of the Office of the Bar Confidant with certain modifications.

The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions.2 It is so delicately affected with
public interest that it is both a power and a duty of the State (through this Court) to control and
regulate it in order to protect and promote the public welfare.3

Adherence to rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the highest degree of morality,
faithful observance of the rules of the legal profession, compliance with the mandatory
continuing legal education requirement and payment of membership fees to the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines (IBP) are the conditions required for membership in good standing in the bar
and for enjoying the privilege to practice law. Any breach by a lawyer of any of these conditions
makes him unworthy of the trust and confidence which the courts and clients repose in him for
the continued exercise of his professional privilege.4

Section 1, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides:

SECTION 1. Who may practice law. Any person heretofore duly admitted as a member of the
bar, or thereafter admitted as such in accordance with the provisions of this Rule, and who is in
good and regular standing, is entitled to practice law.

Pursuant thereto, any person admitted as a member of the Philippine bar in accordance with the
statutory requirements and who is in good and regular standing is entitled to practice law.

Admission to the bar requires certain qualifications. The Rules of Court mandates that an
applicant for admission to the bar be a citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-one years of
age, of good moral character and a resident of the Philippines.5 He must also produce before this
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.6

Moreover, admission to the bar involves various phases such as furnishing satisfactory proof of
educational, moral and other qualifications;7 passing the bar examinations;8 taking the lawyers
oath9 and signing the roll of attorneys and receiving from the clerk of court of this Court a
certificate of the license to practice.10

The second requisite for the practice of law membership in good standing is a continuing
requirement. This means continued membership and, concomitantly, payment of annual
membership dues in the IBP;11 payment of the annual professional tax;12 compliance with the
mandatory continuing legal education requirement;13 faithful observance of the rules and ethics
of the legal profession and being continually subject to judicial disciplinary control.14

Given the foregoing, may a lawyer who has lost his Filipino citizenship still practice law in the
Philippines? No.

The Constitution provides that the practice of all professions in the Philippines shall be limited to
Filipino citizens save in cases prescribed by law.15 Since Filipino citizenship is a requirement for
admission to the bar, loss thereof terminates membership in the Philippine bar and,
consequently, the privilege to engage in the practice of law. In other words, the loss of Filipino
citizenship ipso jure terminates the privilege to practice law in the Philippines. The practice of law
is a privilege denied to foreigners.16

The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by reason of naturalization as a citizen of


another country but subsequently reacquired pursuant to RA 9225. This is because "all Philippine
citizens who become citizens of another country shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine
citizenship under the conditions of [RA 9225]."17 Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a
citizen of another country is deemed never to have lost his Philippine citizenship if he reacquires
it in accordance with RA 9225. Although he is also deemed never to have terminated his
membership in the Philippine bar, no automatic right to resume law practice accrues.

Under RA 9225, if a person intends to practice the legal profession in the Philippines and he
reacquires his Filipino citizenship pursuant to its provisions "(he) shall apply with the proper
authority for a license or permit to engage in such practice."18 Stated otherwise, before a lawyer
who reacquires Filipino citizenship pursuant to RA 9225 can resume his law practice, he must first
secure from this Court the authority to do so, conditioned on:

(a) the updating and payment in full of the annual membership dues in the IBP;

(b) the payment of professional tax;

(c) the completion of at least 36 credit hours of mandatory continuing legal education; this is
specially significant to refresh the applicant/petitioners knowledge of Philippine laws and update
him of legal developments and

(d) the retaking of the lawyers oath which will not only remind him of his duties and
responsibilities as a lawyer and as an officer of the Court, but also renew his pledge to maintain
allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.

Compliance with these conditions will restore his good standing as a member of the Philippine
bar.

WHEREFORE, the petition of Attorney Benjamin M. Dacanay is hereby GRANTED, subject to


compliance with the conditions stated above and submission of proof of such compliance to the
Bar Confidant, after which he may retake his oath as a member of the Philippine bar.