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EN BANC

These prohibitions shall continue to apply for a period


of one (1) year after resignation, retirement, or separation from
QUERY OF ATTY. KAREN M. SILVERIO-BUFFE, public
A.M. office,
No. 08-6-352-RTC
except in the case of subparagraph (b) (2) above, but
FORMER Clerk of Court BRANCH 81, ROMBLON, ROMBLON ON the professional concerned cannot practice his profession in
THE PROHIBITION FROM ENGAGING IN THE PRIVATE PRACTICE connection
August 19,with
2009any matter before the office he used to be with,
OF LAW in which case the one-year prohibition shall likewise apply.

In her letter-query, Atty. Buffe posed these


questions: Why may an incumbent engage in private practice
under (b)(2), assuming the same does not conflict or tend to
conflict with his official duties, but a non-incumbent like myself
cannot, as is apparently prohibited by the last paragraph of Sec.
7? Why is the former allowed, who is still occupying the very
public position that he is liable to exploit, but a non-incumbent like
myself who is no longer in a position of possible
abuse/exploitation cannot?[1]

The query arose because Atty. Buffe previously worked


as Clerk of Court VI of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 81 of
Romblon; she resigned from her position effective February 1,
2008. Thereafter (and within the one-year period of prohibition
mentioned in the above-quoted provision), she engaged in the
private practice
x-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x of law by appearing as private counsel in several
cases before RTC-Branch 81 of Romblon.
DECISION
Atty. Buffe alleged that Section 7(b)(2) of R.A. No. 6713
BRION, J.: gives preferential treatment to an incumbent public employee,
who may engage in the private practice of his profession so long
as this practice does not conflict or tend to conflict with his official
This administrative matter started as a letter-query functions. In contrast, a public official or employee who has
dated March 4, 2008 of Atty. Karen M. Silverio-Buffe (Atty. retired, resigned, or has been separated from government service
Buffe) addressed to the Office of the Court Administrator, which like her, is prohibited from engaging in private practice on any
query the latter referred to the Court for consideration. In the matter before the office where she used to work, for a period of
course of its action on the matter, the Court discovered that the one (1) year from the date of her separation from government
query was beyond pure policy interpretation and referred to the employment.
actual situation of Atty. Buffe, and, hence, was a matter that
required concrete action on the factual situation presented. Atty. Buffe further alleged that the intention of the
above prohibition is to remove the exercise of clout, influence or
The query, as originally framed, related to Section privity to insider information, which the incumbent public
7(b)(2) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6713, as amended (or the Code employee may use in the private practice of his profession.
of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and However, this situation did not obtain in her case, since she had
Employees). This provision places a limitation on public already resigned as Clerk of Court of RTC-Branch 18 of Romblon.
officials and employees during their incumbency, and those She advanced the view that she could engage in the private
already separated from government employment for a period of practice of law before RTC-Branch 81 of Romblon, so long as her
one (1) year after separation, in engaging in the private practice of appearance as legal counsel shall not conflict or tend to conflict
their profession. Section 7(b)(2) of R.A. No. 6713 provides: with her former duties as former Clerk of Court of that Branch.
SECTION 7. Prohibited Acts and Transactions. In
addition to acts and omissions of public officials and employees Then Deputy Court Administrator (now Court
now prescribed in the Constitution and existing laws, the Administrator) Jose P. Perez made the following observations
following shall constitute prohibited acts and transactions of any when the matter was referred to him:
public official and employee and are hereby declared to be The general intent of the law, as defined in its title is to
unlawful: uphold the time-honored principle of public office being a public
trust. Section 4 thereof provides for the norms of conduct of
xxx public officials and employees, among others: (a) commitment to
public interest; (b) professionalism; and (c) justness and sincerity.
(b) Outside employment and other activities related Of particular significance is the statement under professionalism
thereto. Public officials and employees during their incumbency that [t]hey [public officials and employees] shall endeavor to
shall not: discourage wrong perceptions of their roles as dispensers or
xxx peddlers of undue patronage.
(2) Engage in the private practice of their profession
unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided, that such Thus, it may be well to say that the prohibition was
practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with their official intended to avoid any impropriety or the appearance of
functions; or impropriety which may occur in any transaction between the
retired government employee and his former colleagues,
xxx
subordinates or superiors brought about by familiarity, moral In compliance with this our Resolution, Executive
ascendancy or undue influence, as the case may be.[2] Judge Ramiro R. Geronimo of RTC-Branch 81 of Romblon reported
the following appearances made by Atty. Buffe:

Subsequently, in a Minute Resolution dated July 15, (1) Civil Case No. V-1564, entitled Oscar Madrigal
2008, we resolved to refer this case to the Office of the Chief Moreno, Jr. et al. versus Leonardo M. Macalam, et al. on February
Attorney (OCAT) for evaluation, report and 19, 2008, March 4, 2008, April 10, 2008 and July 9, 2008 as
recommendation.[3] The OCAT took the view that: counsel for the plaintiffs;

The premise of the query is erroneous. She interprets (2) Civil Case No. V-1620, entitled Melchor M. Manal
Section 7 (b) (2) as a blanket authority for an incumbent clerk of versus Zosimo Malasa, et al., on (sic) February, 2008, as counsel
court to practice law. Clearly, there is a misreading of that for the plaintiff;
provision of law.[4]
and further observed: (3) Civil Case No. V-1396, entitled Solomon Y. Mayor
The confusion apparently lies in the use of the term versus Jose J. Mayor, on February 21, 2008, as counsel for the
such practice after the phrase provided that. It may indeed be plaintiff; and
misinterpreted as modifying the phrase engage in the private
practice of their profession should be prefatory sentence that (4) Civil Case No. V-1639, entitled Philippine National
public officials during their incumbency shall not be disregarded. Bank versus Sps. Mariano and Olivia Silverio, on April 11,
However, read in its entirety, such practice may only refer to 2008 and July 9, 2008, as counsel for the defendants.
practice authorized by the Constitution or law or the exception to
the prohibition against the practice of profession. The term law Atty. Buffe herself was furnished a copy of
was intended by the legislature to include a memorandum or a our November 11, 2008 En Banc Resolution and she filed a
circular or an administrative order issued pursuant to the Manifestation (received by the Court on February 2, 2009)
authority of law. acknowledging receipt of our November 11, 2008 Resolution. She
likewise stated that her appearances are part of Branch 81
xxx records. As well, she informed the Court that she had previously
taken the following judicial remedies in regard to the above
The interpretation that Section 7 (b) query:
(2) generally prohibits incumbent public officials and employees
from engaging in the practice of law, which is declared therein a 1. SCA No. 089119028 (Annex C), filed with
prohibited and unlawful act, accords with the constitutional policy Branch 54 of the RTC Manila, which had been dismissed without
on accountability of public officers stated in Article XI of the prejudice on July 23, 2008 (Annex D) a recourse taken when
Constitution undersigned was still a private practitioner;

xxx 2. SCA No. 08120423 (Annex A), filed with


Branch 17 of the RTC of Manila, which had been also dismissed
The policy thus requires public officials and employees (with or without prejudice) on December 4, 2008 (Annex B) a
to devote full time public service so that in case of conflict recourse taken when undersigned was already a public
between personal and public interest, the latter should take prosecutor appearing before the same Branch 81, after she took
precedence over the former.[5][Footnotes omitted] her oath of office as such on August 15, 2008.[Emphasis supplied]

She also made known her intent to elevate the


With respect to lawyers in the judiciary, the OCAT dismissal of the above cases so that eventually, the Honorable
pointed to Section 5, Canon 3 of the Code of Conduct for Court Supreme Court may put to rest the legal issue/s presented in the
Personnel the rule that deals with outside employment by an above petitions which is, why is it that R.A. No. 6713, Sec. 7 (b)(2)
incumbent judicial employee and which limits such outside and last par. thereof, apparently contains an express prohibition
employment to one that does not require the practice of (valid or invalid) on the private practice of undersigneds law
law.[6] The prohibition to practice law with respect to any matter profession, before Branch 81, while on the other hand not
where they have intervened while in the government service is containing a similar, express prohibition in regard to undersigneds
reiterated in Rule 6.03, Canon 6 of the Code of Professional practice of profession, before the same court, as a public
Responsibility, which governs the conduct of lawyers in the prosecutor within the supposedly restricted 1-year period?
government service.[7]
OUR ACTION AND RULING
In view of the OCAT findings and recommendations,
we issued an En Banc Resolution dated November 11, Preliminary Considerations
2008 directing the Court Administrator to draft and submit to the
Court a circular on the practice of profession during employment As we stated at the outset, this administrative matter
and within one year from resignation, retirement from or confronts us, not merely with the task of determining how the
cessation of employment in the Judiciary. We likewise required Court will respond to the query, both with respect to the
the Executive Judge of the RTC of Romblon to (i) verify if Atty. substance and form (as the Court does not give interpretative
Buffe had appeared as counsel during her incumbency as clerk of opinions[9] but can issue circulars and regulations relating to
court and after her resignation in February 2008, and (ii) submit pleading, practice and procedure in all courts[10] and in the
to the Court a report on his verification.[8] exercise of its administrative supervision over all courts and
personnel thereof[11]), but also with the task of responding to
admitted violations of Section 7 (b)(2) of R.A. No. 6713 and to Section 7 of R.A. No. 6713 generally provides for the
multiple recourses on the same subject. prohibited acts and transactions of public officials and
employees. Subsection (b)(2) prohibits them from engaging in the
After our directive to the Office of the Court private practice of their profession during their incumbency. As an
Administrator to issue a circular on the subject of the query for exception, a public official or employee can engage in the practice
the guidance of all personnel in the Judiciary, we consider this of his or her profession under the following conditions: first, the
aspect of the present administrative matter a finished task, private practice is authorized by the Constitution or by the law;
subject only to confirmatory closure when the OCA reports the and second, the practice will not conflict, or tend to conflict, with
completion of the undertaking to us. his or her official functions.

Atty. Buffes admitted appearance, before the very The Section 7 prohibitions continue to apply for a
same branch she served and immediately after her resignation, is period of one year after the public official or employees
a violation that we cannot close our eyes to and that she cannot resignation, retirement, or separation from public office, except
run away from under the cover of the letter-query she filed and for the private practice of profession under subsection (b)(2),
her petition for declaratory relief, whose dismissal she manifested which can already be undertaken even within the one-year
she would pursue up to our level. We note that at the time she prohibition period. As an exception to this exception, the one-
filed her letter-query (on March 4, 2008), Atty. Buffe had already year prohibited period applies with respect to any matter before
appeared before Branch 81 in at least three (3) cases. The terms the office the public officer or employee used to work with.
of Section 7 (b)(2) of R.A. No. 6713 did not deter her in any way
and her misgivings about the fairness of the law cannot excuse The Section 7 prohibitions are predicated on the
any resulting violation she committed. In other words, she took principle that public office is a public trust; and serve to remove
the risk of appearing before her own Branch and should suffer the any impropriety, real or imagined, which may occur in
consequences of the risk she took. government transactions between a former government official
or employee and his or her former colleagues, subordinates or
Nor can she hide behind the two declaratory relief superiors. The prohibitions also promote the observance and the
petitions she filed, both of which were dismissed, and her intent efficient use of every moment of the prescribed office hours to
to elevate the dismissal to this Court for resolution. The first, filed serve the public.[15]
before the RTC, Branch 54, Manila, was dismissed on July 23, 2008
because the court declined to exercise the power to declare rights Parenthetically, in the case of court employees, Section
as prayed for in the petition, as any decision that may be 7(b)(2) of R.A. No. 6713 is not the only prohibition to contend
rendered will be inutile and will not generally terminate the with; Section 5, Canon 3 of the Code of Conduct for Court
uncertainty or controversy.[12] The second, filed with the RTC, Personnel also applies. The latter provision provides the definitive
Branch 17, Manila, was dismissed for being an inappropriate rule on the outside employment that an incumbent court official
remedy after the dismissal ordered by the RTC, Branch 54, Manila, or court employee may undertake in addition to his official duties:
on December 4, 2008.[13] Under these circumstances, we see Outside employment may be allowed by the head of
nothing to deter us from ruling on Atty. Buffes actions, as no office provided it complies with all of the following requirements:
actual court case other than the present administrative case, is (a) The outside employment is not with a person or
now actually pending on the issue she raised. On the contrary, we entity that practices law before the courts or conducts business
see from Atty. Buffes recourse to this Court and the filing of the with the Judiciary;
two declaratory petitions the intent to shop for a favorable (b) The outside employment can be performed
answer to her query. We shall duly consider this circumstance in outside of normal working hours and is not incompatible with the
our action on the case. performance of the court personnels duties and responsibilities;
(c) That outside employment does not require the
A last matter to consider before we proceed to the practice of law; Provided, however, that court personnel may
merits of Atty. Buffes actions relates to possible objections on render services as professor, lecturer, or resource person in law
procedural due process grounds, as we have not made any formal schools, review or continuing education centers or similar
directive to Atty. Buffe to explain why she should not be penalized institutions;
for her appearance before Branch 81 soon after her resignation (d) The outside employment does not require or
from that Branch. The essence of due process is the grant of the induce the court personnel to disclose confidential information
opportunity to be heard; what it abhors is the lack of the acquired while performing officials duties;
opportunity to be heard.[14] The records of this case show that (e) The outside employment shall not be with the
Atty. Buffe has been amply heard with respect to her actions.She legislative or executive branch of government, unless specifically
was notified, and she even responded to our November 11, authorized by the Supreme Court.
2008 directive for the Executive Judge of the RTC of Romblon to
report on Atty. Buffes appearances before Branch 81; she Where a conflict of interest exists, may reasonably
expressly manifested that these appearances were part of the appear to exist, or where the outside employment reflects
Branch records. Her legal positions on these appearances have adversely on the integrity of the Judiciary, the court personnel
also been expressed before this Court; first, in her original letter- shall not accept outside employment. [Emphasis supplied]
query, and subsequently, in her Manifestation. Thus, no due
process consideration needs to deter us from considering the In both the above discussed aspect of R.A. No. 6713
legal consequences of her appearances in her previous Branch and the quoted Canon 3, the practice of law is covered; the
within a year from her resignation. practice of law is a practice of profession, while Canon 3
specifically mentions any outside employment requiring the
The Governing Law: Section 7 of R.A. No. 6713 practice of law. In Cayetano v. Monsod,[16] we defined the practice
of law as any activity, in and out of court, that requires the
application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and
experience. Moreover, we ruled that to engage in the practice of find it disturbing that she first violated the law before making any
law is to perform those acts which are characteristics of the inquiry. She also justifies her position by referring to the practice
profession; to practice law is to give notice or render any kind of of other government lawyers known to her who, after separation
service, which device or service requires the use in any degree of from their judicial employment, immediately engaged in the
legal knowledge or skill.[17] Under both provisions, a common private practice of law and appeared as private counsels before
objective is to avoid any conflict of interest on the part of the the RTC branches where they were previously employed. Again
employee who may wittingly or unwittingly use confidential we find this a cavalier attitude on Atty. Buffes part and, to our
information acquired from his employment, or use his or her mind, only emphasizes her own willful or intentional disregard of
familiarity with court personnel still with the previous office. Section 7 (b)(2) of R.A. No. 6713.
After separation from the service, Section 5, Canon 3
of the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel ceases to apply as it By acting in a manner that R.A. No. 6713 brands
applies specifically to incumbents, but Section 7 and its subsection as unlawful, Atty. Buffe contravened Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the
(b)(2) of R.A. No. 6713 continue to apply to the extent discussed Code of
above. Atty. Buffes situation falls under Section 7. Professional Responsibility, which provides:

Atty. Buffes Situation CANON 1 A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE


CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE
A distinctive feature of this administrative matter is RESPECT FOR LAW AND FOR LEGAL PROCESSES
Atty. Buffes admission that she immediately engaged in private xxx
practice of law within the one-year period of prohibition stated in Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
Section 7(b)(2) of R.A. No. 6713. We find it noteworthy, too, that dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
she is aware of this provision and only objects to its application to As indicated by the use of the mandatory
her situation; she perceives it to be unfair that she cannot word shall, this provision must be strictly complied with. Atty.
practice before her old office Branch 81 for a year immediately Buffe failed to do this, perhaps not with an evil intent, considering
after resignation, as she believes that her only limitation is in the misgivings she had about Section 7 (b)(2)s
matters where a conflict of interest exists between her unfairness. Unlawful conduct under Rule 1.01 of Canon 1,
appearance as counsel and her former duties as Clerk of however, does not necessarily require the element of criminality,
Court. She believes that Section 7 (b)(2) gives preferential although the Rule is broad enough to include it.[18] Likewise, the
treatment to incumbent public officials and employees as against presence of evil intent on the part of the lawyer is not essential to
those already separated from government employment. bring his or her act or omission within the terms of Rule 1.01,
when it specifically prohibits lawyers from engaging in unlawful
Atty. Buffe apparently misreads the law. As the OCAT conduct.[19] Thus, we find Atty. Buffe liable under this quoted Rule.
aptly stated, she interprets Section 7 (b)(2) as a blanket authority
for an incumbent clerk of court to practice law. We reiterate what We also find that Atty. Buffe also failed to live up to
we have explained above, that the general rule under Section 7 her lawyers oath and thereby violated Canon 7 of the Code of
(b)(2) is to bar public officials and employees from the practice of Professional Responsibility when she blatantly and unlawfully
their professions; it is unlawful under this general rule for clerks of practised law within the prohibited period by appearing before
court to practice their profession. By way of exception, they can the RTC Branch she had just left. Canon 7 states:
practice their profession if the Constitution or the law allows CANON 7. A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD
them, but no conflict of interest must exist between their current THE INTEGRITY AND THE DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND
duties and the practice of their profession. As we also mentioned SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR. [Emphasis
above, no chance exists for lawyers in the Judiciary to practice supplied]
their profession, as they are in fact expressly prohibited by
Section 5, Canon 3 of the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel By her open disregard of R.A. No. 6713, she thereby
from doing so. Under both the general rule and the exceptions, followed the footsteps of the models she cited and wanted to
therefore, Atty. Buffes basic premise is misplaced. replicate the former court officials who immediately waded into
practice in the very same court they came from. She, like they,
As we discussed above, a clerk of court can already disgraced the dignity of the legal profession by openly disobeying
engage in the practice of law immediately after her separation and disrespecting the law.[20] By her irresponsible conduct, she
from the service and without any period limitation that applies to also eroded public confidence in the law and in lawyers.[21] Her
other prohibitions under Section 7 of R.A. No. 6713. The clerk of offense is not in any way mitigated by her transparent attempt to
courts limitation is that she cannot practice her profession within cover up her transgressions by writing the Court a letter-query,
one year before the office where he or she used to work with. In a which she followed up with unmeritorious petitions for
comparison between a resigned, retired or separated official or declaratory relief, all of them dealing with the same Section 7
employee, on the one hand, and an incumbent official or (b)(2) issue, in the hope perhaps that at some point she would
employee, on the other, the former has the advantage because find a ruling favorable to her cause. These are acts whose
the limitation is only with respect to the office he or she used to implications do not promote public confidence in the integrity of
work with and only for a period of one year. The incumbent the legal profession.[22]
cannot practice at all, save only where specifically allowed by the
Constitution and the law and only in areas where no conflict of Considering Atty. Buffes ready admission of violating
interests exists. This analysis again disproves Atty. Buffes basic Section 7(b)(2), the principle of res ipsa loquitur finds application,
premises. making her administratively liable for violation of Rule 1.01 of
Canon 1 and Canon 7 of the Code of Professional
A worrisome aspect of Atty. Buffes approach to Section Responsibility.[23] In several cases, the Court has disciplined
7 (b)(2) is her awareness of the law and her readiness to risk its lawyers without further inquiry or resort to any formal
violation because of the unfairness she perceives in the law. We
investigation where the facts on record sufficiently provided the Responsibility.[32] The appropriate penalty on an errant lawyer
basis for the determination of their administrative liability. depends on the exercise of sound judicial discretion based on the
surrounding facts.[33]
In Prudential Bank v. Castro,[24] the Court disbarred a
lawyer without need of any further investigation after considering In this case, we cannot discern any mitigating factors
his actions based on records showing his unethical misconduct; we can apply, save OCATs observation that Atty Buffes letter-
the misconduct not only cast dishonor on the image of both the query may really reflect a misapprehension of the parameters of
Bench and the Bar, but was also inimical to public interest and the prohibition on the practice of the law profession under
welfare. In this regard, the Court took judicial notice of several Section 7 (b) (2) of R.A. No. 6713. Ignorance of the law, however,
cases handled by the errant lawyer and his cohorts that revealed is no excuse, particularly on a matter as sensitive as practice of
their modus operandi in circumventing the payment of the proper the legal profession soon after ones separation from the service. If
judicial fees for the astronomical sums they claimed in their Atty. Buffe is correct in the examples she cited, it is time to ring
cases.[25] The Court held that those cases sufficiently provided the the bell and to blow the whistle signaling that we cannot allow
basis for the determination of respondents' administrative this practice to continue.
liability, without need for further inquiry into the matter under
the principle of res ipsa loquitur.[26] As we observed earlier,[34] Atty. Buffe had no qualms
about the simultaneous use of various fora in expressing her
Also on the basis of this principle, we ruled in Richards misgivings about the perceived unfairness of Section 7 of R.A.
v. Asoy,[27] that no evidentiary hearing is required before the 6713. She formally lodged a query with the Office of the Court
respondent may be disciplined for professional misconduct Administrator, and soon after filed her successive petitions for
already established by the facts on record. declaratory relief. Effectively, she exposed these fora to the
possibility of embarrassment and confusion through their possibly
We applied the principle of res ipsa loquitur once more differing views on the issue she posed. Although this is not strictly
in In re: Wenceslao Laureta[28] where we punished a lawyer for the forum-shopping that the Rules of Court prohibit, what she has
grave professional misconduct solely based on his answer to a done is something that we cannot help but consider with disfavor
show-cause order for contempt and without going into a trial-type because of the potential damage and embarrassment to the
hearing. We ruled then that due process is satisfied as long as the Judiciary that it could have spawned. This is a point against Atty.
opportunity to be heard is given to the person to be disciplined.[29] Buffe that cancels out the leniency we might have exercised
because of the OCATs observation about her ignorance of and
Likewise in Zaldivar v. Gonzales,[30] the respondent was misgivings on the extent of the prohibition after separation from
disciplined and punished for contempt for his slurs regarding the the service.
Courts alleged partiality, incompetence and lack of integrity on
the basis of his answer in a show-cause order for contempt. The Under the circumstances, we find that her actions
Court took note that the respondent did not deny making the merit a penalty of fine of P10,000.00, together with a stern
negative imputations against the Court through the media and warning to deter her from repeating her transgression and
even acknowledged the correctness of his degrading statements. committing other acts of professional misconduct.[35] This penalty
Through a per curiam decision, we justified imposing upon him reflects as well the Courts sentiments on how seriously the
the penalty of suspension in the following tenor: retired, resigned or separated officers and employees of the
Judiciary should regard and observe the prohibition against the
The power to punish for contempt of court does not practice of law with the office that they used to work with.
exhaust the scope of disciplinary authority of the Court over
lawyers. The disciplinary authority of the Court over members of WHEREFORE, premises considered, we find Atty. Karen
the Bar is but corollary to the Court's exclusive power of M. Silverio-Buffe GUILTY of professional misconduct for
admission to the Bar. A lawyer is not merely a professional but violating Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 and Canon 7 of the Code of
also an officer of the court and as such, he is called upon to share Professional Responsibility. She is hereby FINED in the amount of
in the task and responsibility of dispensing justice and resolving Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00), and STERNLY WARNED that a
disputes in society. Any act on his part which visibly tends to repetition of this violation and the commission of other acts of
obstruct, pervert, or impede and degrade the administration of professional misconduct shall be dealt with more severely.
justice constitutes both professional misconduct calling for the
exercise of disciplinary action against him, and contumacious Let this Decision be noted in Atty. Buffes record as a
conduct warranting application of the contempt power.[31] member of the Bar.

SO ORDERED.
These cases clearly show that the absence of any
formal charge against and/or formal investigation of an errant ARTURO D. BRION
lawyer do not preclude the Court from immediately exercising its Associate Justice
disciplining authority, as long as the errant lawyer or judge has WE CONCUR:
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. DIGEST:

A member of the bar may be penalized, even disbarred Query of Atty. Karen M. Silverio-Buffe, Former
or suspended from his office as an attorney, for violation of the Clerk of Court- Branch 81, Romblon, Romblon-
lawyers oath and/or for breach of the ethics of the legal On The Prohibition From Engaging In the
profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Private Practice of LawFACTS:
Atty. Buffe previously worked as Clerk of Court VI of the provision,the Court pointed out the limitation that only those authorized by the
RTC, Branch 81 of Romblon, sheresigned from her position Constitution orlaw and those that do not conflict or tend to conflict
effective February 1, 2008. Thereafter, she engaged in the with their official functions areallowed.
privatepractice of law by appearing as private counsel in
several cases before RTC Branch 81 of Romblonwithin 1 year Issue: Did Atty. Buffe, as a lawyer, violate the rules governing the practice of law by
after the effectivity of her resignation. means of her actions?
Is she guilty of professional misconduct?
RA6713, Code of Conduct and EthicalStandards for
Public Officials and Employees, Section Held: Yes, the Court found Atty. Buffe guilty of professional
7(b)(2)places a limitation on publicofficials and employees misconduct and wasfined. She was also sternly warned that
during their incumbency and those already separated from repetition of the violation shall be dealt withmore severely. As ruled by
government employment for a period of one (1) year after the Court, by acting in a manner that R.A. No. 6713brands as "unlawful," Atty.
separation, in engaging in the private practice of their Buffe contravened Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code ofProfessional
profession. Responsibility.

SECTION 7.Prohibited Acts and In addition, byfailing to live up to her lawyers oath, shealso violated
Transactions. Canon 7 of the same Code.

In addition to acts and omissions of public officials and employees The following are the violated rules, to wit:
now prescribed in theConstitution and existing laws, the following CANON 1: A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD
shall constitute prohibited actsand transactions of any public THECONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND
official and employee and are hereby declared to be unlawful: x x PROMOTERESPECT FOR LAW AND FOR LEGAL PROCESSESx x x
x (b) Outside employment and other activities related thereto. Rule 1.01A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct
Publicofficials and employees during their incumbency shall not: x
x x (2) CANON 7. A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE
Engage in the private practice of their profession unless INTEGRITYAND THE DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT
authorized by the Constitution or law, provided, that
THEACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.Although there was the absence
such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict
with their official functions; of any formal charge against and/or formalinvestigation of an
or These prohibitions shall continue to apply for a period of errant lawyer, it did not preclude the Court from
one (1) yearafter resignation, retirement, or separation from immediatelyexercising its disciplining authority, as long as the
public office, except inthe case of subparagraph (b) (2) errant lawyer or judge has beengiven the opportunity to be heard.
above, but the professional concernedcannot practice his In this case, Atty. Buffe has been afforded theopportunity to be
profession in connection with any matter before theoffice he heard on the present matter through her letter-query
used to be with, in which case the one-year prohibition shall andManifestation filed before this Court.
likewise apply.

Case 19: Query of Atty. Karen M. Silverio-BuffeA.M. No. 08-6-352-


RTC August 19, 2009Facts: Atty. Karen M. Silverio-Buffe, a former
clerk of court of Branch 81 of Romblon,addressed a letter-query to
the Office of the Court Administrator. It was related toSection
7(b)(2) of Republic Act (
R.A. No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and EthicalStandards for Public
Officials and Employees, which prohibits public officials
andemployees from
engaging during their incumbency in the private practice of their
profession unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided, that such practice
will not conflict or tend to conflict with their official functions.
Atty. Buffe questioned the provision giving preferential treatment
toincumbent public officials and employees as regards private
practice, while non-incumbents, according to the last paragraph of
Section 7 of RA 6713, cannot practicetheir profession in
connection with any matter before the office they used to be
withfor a period of one year after resignation, retirement or
separation from public office.Such question was due to the fact
that, within one year after her resignation from herposition, she
engaged in the private practice of law by appearing as private
counsel inseveral cases before RTC-Branch 81 of Romblon.After
review, the Court found that Atty. Buffe misinterpreted the law.
Theconfusion lay
in the use of the term such practice
after the phrase "provided that"and the notion that incumbent
public officials and employees are absolutelypermitted to the
practice of their profession. By a thorough analysis of the
ATTY. EDITA NOE-LACSAMANA, A.C. No. 7269 that Dela Rosa connived with his former secretary Macasieb so
Complainant, that the notices and pleadings would not reach him.
Present:
The IBP-CBD rejected the affidavit submitted by Judy
ATTY. YOLANDO F. BUSMENTE, Promulgated: M. Ortalez (Ortalez), Busmentes staff, alleging Macasiebs failure
Respondent. November 23, 2011 to endorse pleadings and notices of Civil Case No. 9284
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - to Busmente. The IBP-CBD noted that Ortalez did not exactly refer
----------x to Ulasos case in her affidavit and that there was no mention that
she actually witnessed Macasieb withholding pleadings and
notices from Busmente. The IBP-CBD also noted
DECISION that Macasieb was still working at Busmentes office in November
2003 as shown by the affidavit attached to a Motion to Lift Order
CARPIO, J.: of Default that she signed. However, even if Macasieb resigned in
November 2003, Dela Rosa continued to represent Ulaso until
The Case 2005, which belied Busmentes allegation that Dela Rosa was able
to illegally practice law using his office address without his
Before the Court is a complaint for disbarment filed by knowledge and only due to Dela Rosas connivance with Macasieb.
Atty. Edita Noe-Lacsamana (Noe-Lacsamana) against As regards Busmentes allegation that his signature on the Answer
Atty. Yolando F. Busmente (Busmente) before the Integrated Bar was forged, the IBP-CBD gave Busmente the opportunity to
of the Philippines (IBP). coordinate with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to
prove that his signature was forged but he failed to submit any
The Antecedent Facts report from the NBI despite the lapse of four months from the
time he reserved his right to submit the report.
Noe-Lacsamana alleged in her complaint that she was
the counsel for Irene Bides, the plaintiff in Civil Case No. SCA-2481 The IBP-CBD recommended Busmentes suspension
before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 167, from the practice of law for not less than five years. On 26 May
while Busmente was the counsel for the defendant Imelda 2006, in its Resolution No. XVII-2006-271,3 the IBP Board of
B. Ulaso (Ulaso). Noe-Lacsamana alleged that Ulasos deed of sale Governors adopted and approved the recommendation of the
over the property subject of Civil Case No. SCA-2481 was IBP-CBD, with modification by reducing the period
annulled, which resulted in the filing of an ejectment case before of Busmentes suspension to six months.
the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC), San Juan, docketed as Civil
Case No. 9284, where Busmente appeared as counsel. Another Busmente filed a motion for reconsideration and
case for falsification was filed against Ulaso where Busmente also submitted a report4 from the NBI stating that the signature in the
appeared as counsel. Noe-Lacsamana alleged that one Atty. Answer, when compared with standard/sample signatures
Elizabeth Dela Rosa or Atty. Liza Dela Rosa (Dela Rosa) would submitted to its office, showed that they were not written by one
accompany Ulaso in court, projecting herself and the same person. In its 14 May 2011 Resolution No. XIX-2011-
as Busmentes collaborating counsel. Dela Rosa signed the minutes 168, the IBP Board of Governors denied Busmentes motion for
of the court proceedings in Civil Case No. 9284 nine times from 25 reconsideration.
November 2003 to 8 February 2005. Noe-Lacsamana further
alleged that the court orders and notices specified Dela Rosa The Issue
as Busmentes collaborating counsel. Noe-Lacsamana alleged that
upon verification with this Court and the Integrated Bar of the The issue in this case is whether Busmente is guilty of
Philippines, she discovered that Dela Rosa was not a lawyer. directly or indirectly assisting Dela Rosa in her illegal practice of
law that warrants his suspension from the practice of law.
Busmente alleged that Dela Rosa was a law graduate
and was his paralegal assistant for a few years. Busmente alleged The Ruling of this Court
that Dela Rosas employment with him ended in 2000
but Dela Rosa was able to continue misrepresenting herself as a We agree with the IBP.
lawyer with the help
of Regine Macasieb (Macasieb), Busmentes former Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
secretary. Busmente alleged that he did not represent Ulaso in states:
Civil Case No. 9284 and that his signature in the
Answer1 presented as proof by Noe-Lacsamana was forged. Canon 9. A lawyer shall not, directly or indirectly, assist
in the unauthorized practice of law.
The Decision of the Commission on Bar Discipline
The Court ruled that the term practice of law implies
In its Report and Recommendation,2 the IBP customarily or habitually holding oneself out to the public as a
Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) found that Dela Rosa was lawyer for compensation as a source of livelihood or in
not a lawyer and that she consideration of his services.5 The Court further ruled that holding
represented Ulaso as Busmentes collaborating counsel in Civil ones self out as a lawyer may be shown by acts indicative of that
Case No. 9284. The IBP-CBD noted that while Busmente claimed purpose, such as identifying oneself as attorney, appearing in
that Dela Rosa no longer worked for him since 2000, there was no court in representation of a client, or associating oneself as a
proof of her separation from employment. The IBP-CBD found partner of a law office for the general practice of law.6
that notices from the MTC San Juan, as well as the pleadings of
the case, were all sent to Busmentes designated office address. The Court explained:
The IBP-CBD stated that Busmentes only excuse was
The lawyers duty to prevent, or at the very least not to status. Busmentesallegation contradicted the Joint Counter-
assist in, the unauthorized practice of law is founded on public Affidavit9 submitted by Ulaso and Eddie B. Bides stating that:
interest and policy. Public policy requires that the practice of law
be limited to those individuals found duly qualified in education a. That our legal counsel is Atty. YOLANDO F.
and character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyer is an BUSMENTE of the YOLANDO F. BUSMENTE AND ASSOCIATES LAW
individual and limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to OFFICES with address at suite 718 BPI Office Cond. Plaza
maintain proper standards of moral and professional conduct. The Cervantes, BinondoManila.
purpose is to protect the public, the court, the client, and the bar
from the incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed to b. That ELIZABETH DELA ROSA is not our legal counsel
practice law and not subject to the disciplinary control of the in the case which have been filed by IRENE BIDES and LILIA
Court. It devolves upon a lawyer to see that this purpose is VALERA in representation of her sister AMELIA BIDES
attained. Thus, the canons and ethics of the profession enjoin him for Ejectment docketed as Civil Case No. 9284 before Branch 58 of
not to permit his professional services or his name to be used in the Metropolitan Trial Court of San Juan, Metro Manila.
aid of, or to make possible the unauthorized practice of law by,
any agency, personal or corporate. And, the law makes it a c. That we never stated in any of the pleadings filed in
misbehavior on his part, subject to disciplinary action, to aid a the cases mentioned in the Complaint-Affidavit that ELIZABETH
layman in the unauthorized practice of law.7 DELA ROSA was our lawyer;

d. That if ever ELIZABETH DELA ROSA had affixed her


In this case, it has been established that Dela Rosa, signature in the notices or other court records as our legal counsel
who is not a member of the Bar, misrepresented herself the same could not be taken against us for, we believed in good
as Busmentes collaborating counsel in Civil Case No. 9284. The faith that she was a lawyer; and we are made to believe that it
only question is whether Busmente indirectly or directly was so since had referred her to us (sic), she was handling some
assisted Dela Rosa in her illegal practice of law. cases of Hortaleza and client of Atty. Yolando F. Busmente;
e. That we know for the fact that ELIZABETH DELA
Busmente alleged that Dela Rosas employment in his ROSA did not sign any pleading which she filed in court in
office ended in 2000 and that Dela Rosa was able to continue with connection with our cases at all of those were signed by Atty.
her illegal practice of law through connivance with Macasieb, YOLANDO BUSMENTE as our legal counsel; she just accompanied
another member of Busmentes staff. As pointed out by the IBP- us to the court rooms and/or hearings;
CBD, Busmente claimed that Macasieb resigned from his office in f. That we cannot be made liable for violation of Article
2003. Yet, Dela Rosa continued to represent Ulaso until 2005. 171 (for and in relation to Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code)
Pleadings and court notices were still sent to Busmentes office for the reason that the following elements of the offense are not
until 2005. The IBP-CBD noted that Dela Rosas practice should present, to wit:
have ended in 2003 when Macasieb left. 1. That offender has a legal obligation to disclose the
truth of the facts narrated;
We agree. Busmentes office continued to receive all 2. There must be wrongful intent to injure a 3rd party;
the notices of Civil Case No. 9284. The 7 December 2004 Order8 of 3. Knowledge that the facts narrated by him are
Judge Elvira DC. Panganiban (Judge Panganiban) in Civil Case No. absolutely false;
9284 showed that Atty. Elizabeth Dela Rosa was still 4. That the offender makes in a document untruthful
representing Ulaso in the case. In that Order, statements in the narration of facts.
Judge Panganiban set the preliminary conference of Civil Case No. And furthermore the untruthful narrations of facts
9284 on 8 February 2005. It would have been impossible must affect the integrity which is not so in the instant case.
for Dela Rosa to continue representing Ulaso in the case, g. That from the start of our acquaintance with
considering Busmentes claim that Macasieb already resigned, ELIZABETH DELA ROSA we never ask her whether she was a real
if Dela Rosa had no access to the files in Busmentesoffice. lawyer and allowed to practice law in the Philippines; it would
have been unethical and shameful on our part to ask her
Busmente, in his motion for reconsideration of qualification; we just presumed that she has legal qualifications
Resolution No. XVII-2006-271, submitted a copy of the NBI report to represent us in our cases because Atty. YOLANDO F.
stating that the signature on the Answer submitted in Civil Case BUSMENTE allowed her to accompany us and attend our
No. 9284 and the specimen signatures submitted hearings in short, she gave us paralegal assistance[.] (Emphasis
by Busmente were not written by one and the same person. The supplied)
report shows that Busmente only submitted to the NBI the
questioned signature in the Answer. The IBP-CBD report, The counter-affidavit clearly showed
however, showed that there were other documents signed that Busmente was the legal counsel in Civil Case No. 9284 and
by Busmente, including the Pre-Trial Brief dated 14 November that he allowed Dela Rosa to give legal assistance to Ulaso.
2003 and Motion to Lift Order of Default dated 22 November
2003. Noe-Lacsamana also submitted a letter dated 14 August Hence, we agree with the findings of the IBP-CBD that
2003 addressed to her as well as three letters dated 29 August there was sufficient evidence to prove that Busmente was guilty
2003 addressed to the occupants of the disputed property, all of violation of Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
signed by Busmente. Busmente failed to impugn his signatures in We agree with the recommendation of the IBP, modifying the
these other documents. recommendation of the IBP-CBD, that Busmente should be
suspended from the practice of law for six months.
Finally, Busmente claimed that he was totally unaware
of Civil Case No. 9284 and he only came to know about the case WHEREFORE,
when Ulaso went to his office to inquire about its we SUSPEND Atty. Yolando F. Busmente from the practice of law
for SIX MONTHS.
[B. M. No. 1036. June 10, 2003]
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to DONNA MARIE S. AGUIRRE, complainant, vs. EDWIN
Atty. Busmentes personal record in the Office of the Bar L. RANA, respondent.
Confidant. Let a copy of this Decision be also furnished to all DECISION
chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to all courts CARPIO, J.:
in the land. 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
DIGEST 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
Noe-Lacsamana v. Busmente those who passed the 2000 Bar Examinations.
On 21 May 2001, one day before the scheduled mass
Petitioners claim: Noe-Lacsamana alleged that she oath-taking of successful bar examinees as members of the
was the counsel for the plaintiff in a civil case while Busmente was Philippine Bar, complainant Donna Marie Aguirre (complainant)
the counsel for the defendant Imelda B. Ulaso (Ulaso). Noe- filed against respondent a Petition for Denial of Admission to the
Bar. Complainant charged respondent with unauthorized practice
Lacsamana alleged that Ulasos deed of sale over the property
of law, grave misconduct, violation of law, and grave
subject of the said civil case was annulled, which resulted in the
misrepresentation.
filing of an ejectment casewhere Busmente appeared as counsel.
The Court allowed respondent to take his oath as a
Another case for falsification was filledagainst Ulaso where
member of the Bar during the scheduled oath-taking on 22 May
Busmente also appeared as counsel.
2001 at the Philippine International Convention Center. However,
Noe-Lacsamana alleged that one Atty. Elizabeth Dela
Rosa or Atty.Liza Dela Rosawould accompany Ulaso in court the Court ruled that respondent could not sign the Roll of
Attorneys pending the resolution of the charge against him. Thus,
projecting herself as Busmentes collaborating counsel. Noe-
respondent took the lawyers oath on the scheduled date but has
Lacsamana alleged that upon verifcation with this Court and
not signed the Roll of Attorneys up to now.
theIntegrated Bar of the Philippines, she discovered that Dela
Complainant charges respondent for unauthorized
Rosa wasnot a lawyer. The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP- practice of law and grave misconduct. Complainant alleges that
CBD) foundthat Dela Rosa was not a lawyer and that respondent, while not yet a lawyer, appeared as counsel for a
sherepresented Ulaso as Busmentes collaborating counsel candidate in the May 2001 elections before the Municipal Board
whichrecommended Busmentes suspension from the practice of Election Canvassers (MBEC) of Mandaon,
of law for not less than five years. The IBP Board of Governors, in Masbate. Complainant further alleges that respondent filed with
itsresolution, adopted and approved the recommendation of the the MBEC a pleading dated 19 May 2001 entitled Formal
IBP-CBD Objection to the Inclusion in the Canvassing of Votes in Some
Respondents claim: Busmente alleged that Dela Rosa Precincts for the Office of Vice-Mayor. In this pleading, respondent
was a law graduate and washis paralegal assistant for a few years. represented himself as counsel for and in behalf of Vice Mayoralty
Busmente alleged that Dela Rosas employment with him ended Candidate, George Bunan, and signed the pleading as counsel for
in 2000 but Dela Rosa was able to continuemisrepresenting George Bunan (Bunan).
On the charge of violation of law, complainant claims
herself as a lawyer with the help of Regine Macasieb (Macasieb ),
that respondent is a municipal government employee, being a
Busmentes former secretary. Busmente alleged that he did not secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan of Mandaon, Masbate. As
represent Ulaso in Civil case No. 9284 and that his signature in the such, respondent is not allowed by law to act as counsel for a
Answer presented as proof by Noe-Lacsamana was forged. client in any court or administrative body.
On the charge of grave misconduct and
ISSUE: misrepresentation, complainant accuses respondent of acting as
Whether or not Busmente is guilty of directly counsel for vice mayoralty candidate George Bunan (Bunan)
or indirectly assisting Dela Rosa in her illegal practice of law without the latter engaging respondents services. Complainant
that warrants hissuspension from the practice of law? claims that respondent filed the pleading as a ploy to prevent the
proclamation of the winning vice mayoralty candidate.
RULING: On 22 May 2001, the Court issued a resolution
allowing respondent to take the lawyers oath but disallowed him
YES. Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states: from signing the Roll of Attorneys until he is cleared of the
A lawyer shall not directly or indirectly assist in the charges against him. In the same resolution, the Court required
unauthorized practice of law. 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.
EN BANC
On his employment as secretary of the Sangguniang party. Respondent himself wrote the MBEC on 14 May 2001 that
Bayan, respondent claims that he submitted his resignation on 11 he was entering his appearance as counsel for Mayoralty
May 2001 which was allegedly accepted on the same date. He Candidate Emily Estipona-Hao and for the REFORMA LM-PPC. On
submitted a copy of the Certification of Receipt of Revocable 19 May 2001, respondent signed as counsel for Estipona-Hao in
Resignation dated 28 May 2001 signed by Vice-Mayor Napoleon the petition filed before the MBEC praying for the proclamation of
Relox. Respondent further claims that the complaint is politically Estipona-Hao as the winning candidate for mayor of Mandaon,
motivated considering that complainant is the daughter of Masbate.
Silvestre Aguirre, the losing candidate for mayor of Mandaon, All these happened even before respondent took the
Masbate. Respondent prays that the complaint be dismissed for lawyers oath. Clearly, respondent engaged in the practice of law
lack of merit and that he be allowed to sign the Roll of Attorneys. without being a member of the Philippine Bar.
On 22 June 2001, complainant filed her Reply to In Philippine Lawyers Association v. Agrava,[1] the Court
respondents Comment and refuted the claim of respondent that elucidated that:
his appearance before the MBEC was only to extend specific The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of
assistance to Bunan. Complainant alleges that on 19 May 2001 cases or litigation in court; it embraces the preparation of
Emily Estipona-Hao (Estipona-Hao) filed a petition for pleadings and other papers incident to actions and special
proclamation as the winning candidate for mayor. Respondent proceedings, the management of such actions and proceedings on
signed as counsel for Estipona-Hao in this petition. When behalf of clients before judges and courts, and in addition,
respondent appeared as counsel before the MBEC, complainant conveyancing. In general, all advice to clients, and all action taken
questioned his appearance on two grounds: (1) respondent had for them in matters connected with the law, incorporation
not taken his oath as a lawyer; and (2) he was an employee of the services, assessment and condemnation services contemplating
government. an appearance before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a
Respondent filed a Reply (Re: Reply to Respondents mortgage, enforcement of a creditor's claim in bankruptcy and
Comment) reiterating his claim that the instant administrative insolvency proceedings, and conducting proceedings in
case is motivated mainly by political vendetta. attachment, and in matters of estate and guardianship have been
On 17 July 2001, the Court referred the case to the held to constitute law practice, as do the preparation and drafting
Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) for evaluation, report and of legal instruments, where the work done involves the
recommendation. determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect of facts
OBCs Report and Recommendation and conditions. (5 Am. Jur. p. 262, 263). (Italics supplied) x x x
The OBC found that respondent indeed appeared In Cayetano v. Monsod,[2] the Court held that practice
before the MBEC as counsel for Bunan in the May 2001 elections. of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the
The minutes of the MBEC proceedings show that respondent application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and
actively participated in the proceedings. The OBC likewise found experience. To engage in the practice of law is to perform acts
that respondent appeared in the MBEC proceedings even before which are usually performed by members of the legal profession.
he took the lawyers oath on 22 May 2001. The OBC believes that Generally, to practice law is to render any kind of service which
respondents misconduct casts a serious doubt on his moral fitness requires the use of legal knowledge or skill.
to be a member of the Bar. The OBC also believes that Verily, respondent was engaged in the practice of law
respondents unauthorized practice of law is a ground to deny his when he appeared in the proceedings before the MBEC and filed
admission to the practice of law. The OBC therefore recommends various pleadings, without license to do so. Evidence clearly
that respondent be denied admission to the Philippine Bar. supports the charge of unauthorized practice of law. Respondent
On the other charges, OBC stated that complainant called himself counsel knowing fully well that he was not a
failed to cite a law which respondent allegedly violated when he member of the Bar. Having held himself out as counsel knowing
appeared as counsel for Bunan while he was a government that he had no authority to practice law, respondent has shown
employee. Respondent resigned as secretary and his resignation moral unfitness to be a member of the Philippine Bar.[3]
was accepted. Likewise, respondent was authorized by Bunan to The right to practice law is not a natural or
represent him before the MBEC. constitutional right but is a privilege. It is limited to persons of
The Courts Ruling good moral character with special qualifications duly ascertained
We agree with the findings and conclusions of the OBC and certified. The exercise of this privilege presupposes
that respondent engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and possession of integrity, legal knowledge, educational attainment,
thus does not deserve admission to the Philippine Bar. and even public trust[4] since a lawyer is an officer of the court. A
Respondent took his oath as lawyer on 22 May 2001. bar candidate does not acquire the right to practice law simply by
However, the records show that respondent appeared as counsel passing the bar examinations. The practice of law is a privilege
for Bunan prior to 22 May 2001, before respondent took the that can be withheld even from one who has passed the bar
lawyers oath. In the pleading entitled Formal Objection to the examinations, if the person seeking admission had practiced law
Inclusion in the Canvassing of Votes in Some Precincts for the without a license.[5]
Office of Vice-Mayor dated 19 May 2001, respondent signed The regulation of the practice of law is unquestionably
as counsel for George Bunan.In the first paragraph of the same strict. In Beltran, Jr. v. Abad,[6] a candidate passed the bar
pleading respondent stated that he was the (U)ndersigned examinations but had not taken his oath and signed the Roll of
Counsel for, and in behalf of Vice Mayoralty Candidate, GEORGE Attorneys. He was held in contempt of court for practicing law
T. BUNAN. Bunan himself wrote the MBEC on 14 May 2001 that even before his admission to the Bar. Under Section 3 (e) of Rule
he had authorized Atty. Edwin L. Rana as his counsel to represent 71 of the Rules of Court, a person who engages in the
him before the MBEC and similar bodies. unauthorized practice of law is liable for indirect contempt of
On 14 May 2001, mayoralty candidate Emily Estipona- court.[7]
Hao also retained respondent as her counsel. On the same date, True, respondent here passed the 2000 Bar
14 May 2001, Erly D. Hao informed the MBEC that Atty. Edwin L. Examinations and took the lawyers oath. However, it is the signing
Rana has been authorized by REFORMA LM-PPC as the legal in the Roll of Attorneys that finally makes one a full-fledged
counsel of the party and the candidate of the said lawyer. The fact that respondent passed the bar examinations is
immaterial. Passing the bar is not the only qualification to become lawyer still had to be performed, namely: his lawyers oath to
an attorney-at-law.[8] Respondent should know that two essential be administered by this Court and his signature in the Roll of
requisites for becoming a lawyer still had to be performed, Attorneys. Because the court finds respondent not morally fit
namely: his lawyers oath to be administered by this Court and his to be admitted in the Bar, notwithstanding the fact that he
signature in the Roll of Attorneys.[9] already took his oath, he was denied admission to the bar.
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. AGUIRRE vs. RANA B. M. No. 1036
Respondent tendered his resignation as secretary of June 10, 2003 FACTS: Respondent Edwin L. Rana was
among those who passed the 2000 Bar Examinations.
the Sangguniang Bayan prior to the acts complained of as
Respondent, while not yet a lawyer, appeared as counsel for
constituting unauthorized practice of law. In his letter dated 11
a candidate in the May 2001 elections before the Municipal
May 2001 addressed to Napoleon Relox, vice- mayor and Board of Election Canvassers of Mandaon, Masbate and
presiding officer of the Sangguniang Bayan, respondent stated filed with the MBEC a pleading dated 19 May 2001 entitled
that he was resigning effective upon your acceptance.[10] Vice- Formal Objection to the Inclusion in the Canvassing of Votes
Mayor Relox accepted respondents resignation effective 11 May in some Precincts for the Office of Vice-Mayor. In this
2001.[11] Thus, the evidence does not support the charge that pleading, respondent represented himself as "counsel for
respondent acted as counsel for a client while serving as secretary and in behalf of Vice Mayoralty Candidate, George Bunan,"
of the Sangguniang Bayan. and signed the pleading as counsel for George Bunan.
On the charge of grave misconduct and Furthermore, respondent also signed as counsel for Emily
misrepresentation, evidence shows that Bunan indeed authorized Estipona-Hao on 19 May 2001 in the petition filed before the
respondent to represent him as his counsel before the MBEC and MBEC praying for the proclamation of Estipona-Hao as the
similar bodies. While there was no misrepresentation, respondent winning candidate for mayor of Mandaon, Masbate. On 21
nonetheless had no authority to practice law. May 2001, one day before the scheduled mass oath-taking
WHEREFORE, respondent Edwin L. Rana is DENIED of successful bar examinees as members of the Philippine
admission to the Philippine Bar. Bar, complainant Donna Marie Aguirre filed against
respondent a Petition for Denial of Admission to the Bar. On
SO ORDERED.
22 May 2001, respondent was allowed to take the
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Panganiban,
lawyers oath but was disallowed from signing the Roll
Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Austria- of Attorneys until he is cleared of the charges against him.
Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., and Azcuna,
JJ., concur. ISSUE: Whether or not respondent shall be denied
Admission to the Bar.

DIGEST RULING: 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
Aguirre v Rana B.M. No. 1036 June 10, 2000 clearly supports the charge of unauthorized practice of law.
Respondent called himself "counsel" knowing fully well that
FACTS: Respondent is a successful bar passer who was he was not a member of the Bar. Having held himself out as
allowed only to take oath but not to sign the roll of attorneys "counsel" knowing that he had no authority to practice law,
pending the resolution of the complaint of the petitioner who respondent has shown moral unfitness to be a member of
charges respondent with unauthorized practice of law, grave the Philippine Bar. The right to practice law is not a natural
misconduct, violation of law, and grave misrepresentation. or constitutional right but is a privilege. It is limited to persons
Apparently, the respondent appeared as counsel to an of good moral character with special qualifications duly
election candidate before the Municipal Board of Election ascertained and certified. The exercise of this privilege
Canvassers (MBEC) of Masbate before he took his oath presupposes possession of integrity, legal knowledge,
and signed the rolls of attorneys. In his comment, educational attainment, and even public trust since a
respondent alleges he only provide specific assistance and lawyer is an officer of the court. A bar candidate does not
advice not as a lawyer but as a person who knows the law. acquire the right to practice law simply by passing the bar
He contends that he did not sign the pleadings as a lawyer. examinations. The practice of law is a privilege that can be
The Office of the Bar Confidant was tasked to investigate withheld even from one who has passed the bar
and its findings disclosed that according to the minutes of examinations, if the person seeking admission had practiced
the meeting of the MBEC, the respondent actively law without a license. True, respondent here passed the
participated in the proceeding and signed in the pleading as 2000 Bar Examinations and took the lawyers oath.
counsel for the candidate. However, it is the signing in the Roll of Attorneys that finally
makes one a full-fledged lawyer. The fact that respondent
I: WON the respondent is fit for admission to the bar. passed the bar examinations is immaterial. Passing the bar
is not the only qualification to become an attorney-at-law.
R: The court held that respondent did engaged in Respondent should know that two essential requisites for
unauthorized practice of law. It held that all the activities he becoming a lawyer still had to be performed, namely: his
participated during that time involves the practice of law lawyers oath to be administered by this Court and his
despite the fact that he is not yet a member of the Bar. The signature in the Roll of Attorneys. (
right to practice law is not a right but a privilege extended to
those morally upright and with the proper knowledge and
skills. It involves strict regulation, one of which is on the
moral character of its members. Passing the bar is not the
only qualification to become an attorney-at-law. Respondent
should know that two essential requisites for becoming a
4)
AGUIRRE VS RANA
Republic of the Philippines
EN BANC[ B.M. No. 1036, June 10, 2003 ] SUPREME COURT
DONNA MARIE S. AGUIRRE, COMPLAINANT, Manila
VS. EN BANC
EDWIN L. RANA, RESPONDENT A.M. No. P-220 December 20, 1978
Facts: JULIO ZETA, complainant,
Rana was among those who passed the 2000 Bar vs.
Examinations. before the scheduled mass oath-taking, FELICISIMO MALINAO, respondent.
complainant Aguirre filed against respondent a Petition for Denial
of Admission to the Bar. BARREDO, J.:
The Court allowed respondent to take his oath. Administrative complaint against Felicisimo Malinao
Respondent took the lawyers oath on the scheduled date but has court interpreter of the Court of First Instance of Catbalogan,
not signed the Roll of Attorneys up to now. Samar charging as follows:
Complainant alleges that respondent, while not yet a l ILLEGALLY APPEARING IN COURT. MR. Malinao
lawyer, appeared as counsel for a candidate in an election. has been appearing in the municipal court of this town for parties
On the charge of violation of law, complainant claims like attorney when he is not an attorney. Reliable information also
that respondent is a municipal government employee, being a says he has been appearing in the municipal courts of Daram,
secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan of Mandaon, Masbate. As Zumarraga, Talalora and even Sta. Rita. He is not authorized to do
such, respondent is not allowed by law to act as counsel for a so we believe. He makes it his means of livelihood as he collects
client in any court or administrative body. fees from his clients. He competes with attorneys but does not
On the charge of grave misconduct and pay anything. We believe that his doing so should be stopped for
misrepresentation, complainant accuses respondent of acting as a good government. These facts can be checked with records of
counsel for vice mayoralty candidate George Bunan without the those municipal courts.
latter engaging respondents services. Complainant claims that 2 GRAVE MISCONDUCT IN OFFICE. Being
respondent filed the pleading as a ploy to prevent the employed in the Court of First Instance he would instigate
proclamation of the winning vice mayoralty candidate. persons, especially in his barrio to grab land rob or coerce. In fact
Issue: he has cases in the municipal court in this town involving himself
Whether or not respondent engaged in the and his men. He incite them telling them not to be afraid as he is a
unauthorized practice of law and thus does not deserve admission court employee and has influence over the judges. Those persons
to the Philippine Bar being ignorant would believe him and so would commit crimes.
Ruling: This act of Mr. Malinao is contrary to good order and peace as he
the Court held that practice of law means any is using his supposed influences to urge persons to commit
activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, crimes.
legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience. To engage in 3 CRIME OF FALSIFICATION. Information has it
the practice of law is to perform acts which are usually performed that he is unfaithfully filing his time record in the CFI. Even he has
by members of the legal profession. Generally, to practice law is been out practicing in the municipal courts sometimes he would
to render any kind of service which requires the use of legal fill his time record as present. He receives salary for those absent
knowledge or skill. days. This can be checked with time record he has submitted and
The right to practice law is not a natural or if he has any application for leave. He may try to cure it by
constitutional right but is a privilege. It is limited to persons of submitting application for leave but this should not be allowed as
good moral character with special qualifications duly ascertained he has already committed crime.
and certified. The exercise of this privilege presupposes 4 VIOLATION OF EXECUTIVE ORDER AND CIVIL
possession of integrity, legal knowledge, educational attainment, SERVICE LAW.-WE have reliable information it is prohibited for a
and even public trust since a lawyer is an officer of the court. A civil service employee to engage in private practice any profession
bar candidate does not acquire the right to practice law simply by or business without permission from the Department Head. Mr.
passing the bar examinations. The practice of law is a privilege Malinao we are sure has not secured that permission because he
that can be withheld even from one who has passed the bar should not be allowed to practice as he is not an attorney. If that
examinations, if the person seeking admission had practiced law were so, he violated that Executive Order and Civil Service Law
without a license. and we are urgently and earnestly requesting the Commissioner
True, respondent here passed the 2000 Bar of Civil Service to investigate him on this. If warranted he should
Examinations and took the lawyers oath. However, it is the be given the corresponding penalty as dismissal because we
signing in the Roll of Attorneys that finally makes one a full- believe he deserve it. (Page 2, Record.)
fledged lawyer. The fact that respondent passed the bar After respondent filed the following 3rd indorsement
examinations is immaterial. Passing the bar is not the only relative to the above complaint:
qualification to become an attorney-at-law. Respondent should Respectfully returned to the Honorable, the Secretary
know that two essential requisites for becoming a lawyer still had of Justice, Manila, thru the Honorable District Judge, Court of First
to be performed, namely: his lawyers oath to be administered by Instance, Branch I, Catbalogan, Samar, and thru the Honorable
this Court and his signature in the Roll of Attorneys. Judicial Superintendent, Department of Justice, Manila, the
Advertisements undersigned's reply to the preceding endorsements, to wit: That
the alleged letter-complaint of one Julio Zeta is not inclosed in the
first indorsement, which absence has also been noticed and noted
on the right hand corner of the said first indorsement by the Clerk
DIGEST: of Court, of this Court; that despite this absence, and without
waiving, however, his right to any pertinent provision of law, but in his Court on June 17, 1970. The respondent again made it
for respect and courtesy to a Superior, he hereby states that he appear in his daily time record that he was present with an
has not violated any rule or law, much less Sec. 12, Rule XVIII of undertime of five hours. The respondent did not offer any
the Civil Service Rules; that his participation for defendants' cause plausible explanation for this irregularity.
was gratuitous as they could not engage the services of counsel by xxx xxx xxx
reason of poverty and the absence of one in the locality, said With respect to the crime of falsification of his daily
assistance has also checked the miscarriage of justice by the time record as shown by the evidence, he had made it appear that
Presiding Municipal Judge, now resigned; that he is attaching he was present in his office on December 15, 1962, February 18,
herewith a carbon-original of a pleading submitted by Atty. 1963 and June 17, 1970 when as a matter of fact he was in the
Simeon Quiachon the attorney of record for the defendants in Municipal Court of Daram attending to a case entitled Felix
Civil Case No. 24, entitled 'Jose Kiskisan versus Fidel Pacate, et al. Versoza versus Victor Payao, et al., for forcible entry as well as in
for Forcible Entry, in the Municipal Court of Talalora, Samar, the Municipal Court of Zumarraga attending to Civil Case No. 318
which is a 'Motion To Withdraw Exhibits', as Annex 'A', as part of entitled Restituto Centino versus Jesus Tizon for forcible entry. The
this reply. (Page 5, Rec.) Inquest Judge respectfully recommends that he be given stern
the Department of Justice that had jurisdiction over warning and severe reprimand for this irregularity.
the matter then, referred the said complaint and answer to With respect to the fourth charge, for violation of
District Judge Segundo Zosa, Court of First Instance, Catbalogan, Section 12, Rule XVIII, Republic Act 2260, as amended, again the
Western Samar, for investigation, report and recommendation, evidence shows that respondent had been appearing as counsel
and after due hearing, Judge Zosa submitted his report pertinent in the municipal courts of Sta. Rita, Daram and Zumarraga in
parts of which read thus: violation of the rules of the Civil Service Law. (Pp. 28-31, Record.)
Inspite of diligent efforts exerted by the Court to We have carefully reviewed the record, and We find
subpoena the complainant, Julio Zeta, who is said to be a resident the conclusions of fact of the Investigator to be amply supported
of Zumarraga, Samar the same had failed because the said Julio by the evidence, particularly the documents consisting of public
Zeta appears to be a fictitious person records and the declarations of the judges before whom
Inspite of the failure of the complainant to appear in respondent had appeared. It is clear to Us that respondent, apart
the investigation in connection with his complaint against from appearing as counsel in various municipal courts without
Felicisimo Malinao, the Court nevertheless proceeded to prior permission of his superiors in violation of civil service rules
investigate the case against him by calling Judge Restituto Duran and regulations, falsified his time record of service by making it
of Sta. Rita, Samar, Judge Juanito Reyes of Zumarraga, Samar and appear therein that he was present in his office on occasions
Judge Miguel Avestruz of Daram, Samar. when in fact he was in the municipal courts appearing as counsel,
Judge Restituto Duran of Sta. Rita, Samar, declared without being a member of the bar, which, furthermore,
that according to his docket books the respondent appeared as constitutes illegal practice of law. We, therefore, adopt the above
counsel for Vicente Baculanlan in criminal case No. 1247 in the findings of fact of the Investigator.
Municipal Court of Sta. Rita, Samar, for grave threats and in The defense of respondent that "his participation (sic)
criminal case No. 1249 for the same accused and Romulo for defendants' cause was gratuitous as they could not engage the
Villagracia for illegal possession of firearm on August 5, 1960 and services of counsel by reason of poverty and the absence of one in
on September 17, 1970. the locality" cannot, even if true, carry the day for him,
Judge Miguel Avestruz of Daram, Samar, declared that considering that in appearing as counsel in court, he did so
the respondent appeared as counsel in civil case No. 39 in the without permission from his superiors and, worse, he falsified his
Municipal Court of Daram, Samar, entitled Felix Versoza versus time record of service to conceal his absence from his office on
Victor Payao, et al., for forcible entry on December 15, 1962, the dates in question. Indeed, the number of times that
January 26, 1963, February 18, 1963 and on March 1, 1963. respondent acted as counsel under the above circumstances
Judge Juanito Reyes declared that on March 27, 1969, would indicate that he was doing it as a regular practice obviously
the respondent appeared as counsel for the defendant in civil for considerations other than pure love of justice.
case No. 318 of the Municipal Court of Zumarraga In the premises, it is quite obvious that the offense
entitled Restituto Centino versus Jesus Tizon for forcible entry and committed by respondent is grave, hence it warrants a more
again on June 17, 1970 in the same case. drastic sanction than that of reprimand recommended by Judge
From the certification of the Clerk of this Court, it Zosa. We find no alternative than to separate him from the
appears that the respondent had the following entries in his daily service, with the admonition that he desist from appearing in any
time record: court or investigative body wherein Only members of the bar are
1. Was on leave from office on August 5, 1960 and allowed to practice.
September 17, 1960; WHEREFORE, respondent Felicisimo Malinao is hereby
2. Was present in office on December l5, 1962; ordered dismissed from his position as interpreter in the Court of
3. Was present in office on January 26, 1963, and First Instance, CFI, Zumarraga, Western Samar with prejudice to
present also on February 18, 1963 but undertime by 1 hour; reemployment in the judicial branch of the government.
4. Was on leave from office on March 1, 1963; Castro, C.J., Fernando, Teehankee, Makasiar, Antonio,
5. Was on leave from office on March 27, 1969; and Aquino, Concepcion, Jr., Santos, Fernandez and Guerrero, JJ.,
6. Was present in office on June 17, 1970 but concur.
undertime by 5 hours.
Comparing the dates when the respondent appeared
before the aforementioned Municipal Courts with his daily time
records, he made it appear that on December 15, 1962 and DIGEST:
February 18, 1963 he was present in his office although according
to the testimony of Judge Miguel Avestruz he was before his FACTS:
Court on December 15, 1962 as well as on February 18, 1963.
Again according to Judge Juanito Reyes the respondent appeared
Apart from appearing as counsel in various municipal courts On July 14, 2006, pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9225
without prior permission of his superiors in violation of civil (Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003), petitioner
service rules and regulations, respondent court interpreter also reacquired his Philippine citizenship.1 On that day, he took his
falsified his time records by making it appear therein that her was oath of allegiance as a Filipino citizen before the Philippine
present in his office on occasions when in fact he was in the Consulate General in Toronto, Canada. Thereafter, he returned to
municipal court appearing as counsel, without being a member of the Philippines and now intends to resume his law practice. There
the bar, which furthermore, constitutes illegal practice of law. The is a question, however, whether petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay
investigating judge recommenced the reprimand of respondent. lost his membership in the Philippine bar when he gave up his
Philippine citizenship in May 2004. Thus, this petition.
The Supreme Court dismissed the respondent from his position as In a report dated October 16, 2007, the Office of the
court interpreter. 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-
Zeta vs. Malinao, 87 SCRA 303 , December 20, one years of age, of good moral character, and a resident of the
1978 Philippines; and must produce before the Supreme Court
Attorneys; Courts; A lower court employee who satisfactory evidence of good moral character, and that no
has been appearing as counsel in court cases and falsifying charges against him, involving moral turpitude, have been filed or
his time record is dismissed from the service the acts are pending in any court in the Philippines.
committed being grave in nature.The defense of Applying the provision, the Office of the Bar Confidant
respondent that his participation (sic) for defendants opines that, by virtue of his reacquisition of Philippine citizenship,
cause was gratuitous as they could not engage the services in 2006, petitioner has again met all the qualifications and has
of counsel by reason of poverty and the absence of one in
none of the disqualifications for membership in the bar. It
the locality cannot, even if true, carry the day for him,
recommends that he be allowed to resume the practice of law in
considering that in appearing as counsel in court, he did so
without permission from his superiors and, worse, he the Philippines, conditioned on his retaking the lawyers oath to
falsified his time record of service to conceal his absence remind him of his duties and responsibilities as a member of the
from his office on the dates in question. Indeed, the Philippine bar.
number of times that respondent acted as counsel under We approve the recommendation of the Office of the
the above circumstances would indicate that he was doing Bar Confidant with certain modifications.
it as a regular practice obviously for considerations other The practice of law is a privilege burdened with
than pure love of justice. 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
Same; Same; Same.In the premises, it is quite control and regulate it in order to protect and promote the public
obvious that the offense committed by respondent is grave, welfare.3
hence it warrants a more drastic sanction than that of Adherence to rigid standards of mental fitness,
reprimand recommended by Judge Zosa. We find no maintenance of the highest degree of morality, faithful
alternative than to separate him from the service, with the observance of the rules of the legal profession, compliance with
admonition that he desist from appearing in any court or the mandatory continuing legal education requirement and
investigative body wherein only members of the bar are payment of membership fees to the Integrated Bar of the
allowed to practice. Wherefore, respondent Felicisimo Philippines (IBP) are the conditions required for membership in
Malinao is hereby ordered dismissed from his position as good standing in the bar and for enjoying the privilege to practice
interpreter in the Court of First Instance, CFI, Zumarraga,
law. Any breach by a lawyer of any of these conditions makes him
Western Samar, with prejudice to reemployment in the
unworthy of the trust and confidence which the courts and clients
judicial branch of the government.
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
EN BANC
law.
B.M. No. 1678 December 17, 2007
Pursuant thereto, any person admitted as a member of
PETITION FOR LEAVE TO RESUME PRACTICE OF LAW,
the Philippine bar in accordance with the statutory requirements
BENJAMIN M. DACANAY, petitioner.
and who is in good and regular standing is entitled to practice law.
RESOLUTION
Admission to the bar requires certain qualifications.
CORONA, J.:
The Rules of Court mandates that an applicant for admission to
This bar matter concerns the petition of petitioner
the bar be a citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-one years of
Benjamin M. Dacanay for leave to resume the practice of law.
age, of good moral character and a resident of the Philippines.5 He
Petitioner was admitted to the Philippine bar in March
must also produce before this Court satisfactory evidence of good
1960. He practiced law until he migrated to Canada in December
moral character and that no charges against him, involving moral
1998 to seek medical attention for his ailments. He subsequently
turpitude, have been filed or are pending in any court in the
applied for Canadian citizenship to avail of Canadas free medical
Philippines.6
aid program. His application was approved and he became a
Moreover, admission to the bar involves various
Canadian citizen in May 2004.
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 DIGEST
from the clerk of court of this Court a certificate of the license to
practice.10 Petition for Leave to Resume Practice of Law, Benjamin
The second requisite for the practice of law Dacanay 540 SCRA 424
membership in good standing is a continuing requirement. This
means continued membership and, concomitantly, payment of FACTS: Petitioner was admitted to the Philippine bar in
annual membership dues in the IBP;11 payment of the annual March 1960. He practiced law until he migrated to Canada in
professional tax;12 compliance with the mandatory continuing December 1998 to seek medical attention for his ailments. He
legal education requirement;13 faithful observance of the rules subsequently applied for Canadian citizenship to avail of Canadas
and ethics of the legal profession and being continually subject to free medical aid program. His application was approved and he
judicial disciplinary control.14 became a Canadian citizen in May 2004.
Given the foregoing, may a lawyer who has lost his In July 2006, pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9225
Filipino citizenship still practice law in the Philippines? No. (Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003), petitioner
The Constitution provides that the practice of all reacquired his Philippine citizenship. On that day, he took his oath
professions in the Philippines shall be limited to Filipino citizens of allegiance as a Filipino citizen before the Philippine Consulate
save in cases prescribed by law.15 Since Filipino citizenship is a General in Toronto, Canada. Thereafter, he returned to the
requirement for admission to the bar, loss thereof terminates Philippines and now intends to resume his law practice.
membership in the Philippine bar and, consequently, the privilege ISSUE: Whether petitioner may still resume practice?
to engage in the practice of law. In other words, the loss of RULING: Section 2, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court
Filipino citizenship ipso jure terminates the privilege to practice provides an applicant for admission to the bar be a citizen of the
law in the Philippines. The practice of law is a privilege denied to Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, of good moral
foreigners.16 character and a resident of the Philippines. He must also produce
The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by before this Court satisfactory evidence of good moral character
reason of naturalization as a citizen of another country but and that no charges against him, involving moral turpitude, have
subsequently reacquired pursuant to RA 9225. This is because "all been filed or are pending in any court in the Philippines.
Philippine citizens who become citizens of another country shall Since Filipino citizenship is a requirement for admission
be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under the to the bar, loss thereof terminates membership in the Philippine
conditions of [RA 9225]."17Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who bar and, consequently, the privilege to engage in the practice of
becomes a citizen of another country is deemed never to have law. In other words, the loss of Filipino citizenship ipso jure
lost his Philippine citizenship if he reacquires it in accordance terminates the privilege to practice law in the Philippines. The
with RA 9225. Although he is also deemed never to have practice of law is a privilege denied to foreigners.
terminated his membership in the Philippine bar, no automatic The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by
right to resume law practice accrues. reason of naturalization as a citizen of another country but
Under RA 9225, if a person intends to practice the legal subsequently reacquired pursuant to RA 9225. This is because all
profession in the Philippines and he reacquires his Filipino Philippine citizens who become citizens of another country shall
citizenship pursuant to its provisions "(he) shall apply with the be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under the
proper authority for a license or permit to engage in such conditions of [RA 9225]. Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who
practice."18 Stated otherwise, before a lawyer who reacquires becomes a citizen of another country is deemed never to have
Filipino citizenship pursuant to RA 9225 can resume his law lost his Philippine citizenship if he reacquires it in accordance with
practice, he must first secure from this Court the authority to do RA 9225.
so, conditioned on: Before he can can resume his law practice, he must
(a) the updating and payment in full of the annual first secure from this Court the authority to do so, conditioned on:
membership dues in the IBP; the updating and payment of of IBP membership dues;
(b) the payment of professional tax;
(c) the completion of at least 36 credit hours of
the payment of professional tax;
mandatory continuing legal education; this is specially significant the completion of at least 36 credit hours of
to refresh the applicant/petitioners knowledge of Philippine laws mandatory continuing legal education; this is specially
and update him of legal developments and significant to refresh the applicant/petitioners
(d) the retaking of the lawyers oath which will not knowledge of Philippine laws and update him of legal
only remind him of his duties and responsibilities as a lawyer and developments and
as an officer of the Court, but also renew his pledge to maintain the retaking of the lawyers oath.
allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.
Compliance with these conditions will restore his good DIGEST
standing as a member of the Philippine bar.
WHEREFORE, the petition of Attorney Benjamin M.
Dacanay is hereby GRANTED, subject to compliance with the Petition for Leave to resume practice of Law,
conditions stated above and submission of proof of such Benjamin M. DacanayFACTS
compliance to the Bar Confidant, after which he may retake his : Benjamin M. Dacanay was admitted to Philippine Bar
oath as a member of the Philippine bar. in March 1960. He practiced law in the country but
SO ORDERED. migrated to!anada to seek medical attention for his
Puno, C.J., Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, ailments to which he applied and was appro$ed #or
Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Carpio-Morales, Azcuna, Tinga, Chico- !anadian citi%enship in order toa$ail the country&s
Nazario, Velasco, Jr., Nachura, Reyes, Leonardo-de Castro, #ree medical pro ram.'n (006) He re*ac+uired
JJ., concur.
Quisumbing, J., on leave. his Philippine citi%enship throu h ,- 9(( /!iti%enship
,etention and ,e*ac+uisition -ct o# (00 and Although he is also deemed never to have terminated his
membership in the Philippine bar, no automatic right to
returned resume law practice accrues.

540 SCRA 424 Civil Law Private International Law Under RA 9225, if a person intends to practice the legal
Nationality Theory Practice of Law is Reserved for profession in the Philippines and he reacquires his Filipino
Filipinos citizenship pursuant to its provisions (he) shall apply with
the proper authority for a license or permit to engage in such
In 1998, Atty. Benjamin Dacanay went to Canada to seek
practice.
medical help. In order for him to take advantage of Canadas
free medical aid program he became a Canadian citizen in
2004. In 2006 however, he re-acquired his Philippine
citizenship pursuant to Republic Act 9225 of the Citizenship
Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003. In the same year,
he returned to the Philippines and he now intends to resume
his practice of law. RESOLUTION REYES, J.: On June 8, 2009, a petition was filed by
Epifanio B. Muneses (petitioner) with the Office of the Bar
ISSUE: Whether or not Benjamin Dacanay may still resume Confidant (OBC) praying that he be granted the privilege to
his practice of law. practice law in the Philippines. On Leave per Special Order No.
HELD: Yes. As a rule, the practice of law and other 1257 dated July 19, 2012. On leave. I Resolution 2 B.M. No. 2112
professions in the Philippines are reserved and limited only The petitioner alleged that he became a member of the
to Filipino citizens. Philippine citizenship is a requirement for Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on March 21, 1966; that he
admission to the bar. So when Dacanay became a Canadian lost his privilege to practice law when he became a citizen of the
citizen in 2004, he ceased to have the privilege to practice United States of America (USA) on August 28, 1981; that on
law in the Philippines. However, under RA 9225, a Filipino September 15, 2006, he re-acquired his Philippine citizenship
lawyer who becomes a citizen of another country is deemed pursuant to Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9225 or the Citizenship
never to have lost his Philippine citizenship if he reacquires Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003 by taking his oath of
his Filipino citizenship in accordance with RA 9225. allegiance as a Filipino citizen before the Philippine Consulate
Hence, when Dacanay reacquires his Filipino citizenship in General in Washington, D.C., USA; that he intends to retire in the
2006, his membership to the Philippine bar was deemed to Philippines and if granted, to resume the practice of law. Attached
have never been terminated.
to the petition were several documents in support of his petition,
albeit mere photocopies thereof, to wit: 1. Oath of Allegiance
dated September 15, 2006 before Consul General Domingo P.
Nolasco; 2. Petition for Re-Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship of
same date; 3. Order for Re-Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship
Issue: also of same date; 4. Letter dated March 13, 2008 evidencing
payment of membership dues with the IBP; 5. Attendance Forms
from the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE). In Bar
Whether petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay lost his
membership in the Philippine bar when he gave up his Matter No. 1678, dated December 17, 2007, the Court was
Philippine citizenship. confronted with a similar petition filed by Benjamin M. Dacanay
(Dacanay) who requested leave to resume his practice of law after
availing the benefits of R.A. No. 9225. Dacanay was admitted to
the Philippine Bar in March 1960. In December 1998, he migrated
to Canada to seek medical attention for his ailments and
eventually became a Canadian citizen in May 2004. On July 14,
Ruling: 2006, Dacanay re-acquired his Philippine citizenship pursuant to
R.A. No. 9225 after taking his oath of allegiance before the
Philippine Consulate General in Toronto, Canada. He returned to
The Constitution provides that the practice of all professions the Philippines and intended to resume his practice of law.
in the Philippines shall be limited to Filipino citizens save in
Resolution 3 B.M. No. 2112 The Court reiterates that Filipino
cases prescribed by law. Since Filipino citizenship is a
citizenship is a requirement for admission to the bar and is, in
requirement for admission to the bar, loss thereof terminates
membership in the Philippine bar and, consequently, the fact, a continuing requirement for the practice of law. The loss
privilege to engage in the practice of law. In other words, the thereof means termination of the petitioners membership in the
loss of Filipino citizenship ipso jure terminates the privilege bar; ipso jure the privilege to engage in the practice of law. Under
to practice law in the Philippines. The practice of law is a R.A. No. 9225, natural-born citizens who have lost their Philippine
privilege denied to foreigners. citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign
country are deemed to have re-acquired their Philippine
citizenship upon taking the oath of allegiance to the Republic.1
The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by reason Thus, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen of another country
of naturalization as a citizen of another country but and later re-acquires his Philippine citizenship under R.A. No.
subsequently reacquired pursuant to RA 9225. This is 9225, remains to be a member of the Philippine Bar. However, as
because all Philippine citizens who become citizens of stated in Dacanay, the right to resume the practice of law is not
another country shall be deemed not to have lost their automatic.2 R.A. No. 9225 provides that a person who intends to
Philippine citizenship under the conditions of [RA 9225].
practice his profession in the Philippines must apply with the
Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen of
another country is deemed never to have lost his Philippine proper authority for a license or permit to engage in such
citizenship if he reacquires it in accordance with RA 9225. practice.3 It can not be overstressed that: The practice of law is a
privilege burdened with conditions. It is so delicately affected with
public interest that it is both the power and duty of the State appropriate fees. Furthermore, the Office of the Bar Confidant is
(through this Court) to control and regulate it in order to protect directed to draft the necessary guidelines for the re-acquisition of
and promote the public welfare. Adherence to rigid standards of the privilege to resume the practice of law for the guidance of the
mental fitness, maintenance of the highest degree of morality, Bench and Bar. SO ORDERED. IENVENIDO L
faithful observance 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 1 Section 3. Retention of Philippine Citizenship - Any
provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, natural born
citizens of the Philippines by reason of their naturalization as
citizens of a foreign country are hereby deemed to have re-
acquired Philippine citizenship upon taking the following oath of
allegiance to the Republic: I ______, solemnly swear (or affirm)
that I will support and defend the Constitution of the Republic of
the Philippines and obey the laws and legal orders promulgated
by the duly constituted authorities of the Philippines and I hereby
declare that I recognize and accept the supreme authority of the
Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto;
and that I imposed this obligation upon myself voluntarily without
mental reservation or purpose of evasion. Natural-born citizens
of the Philippines who, after the effectivity of this Act, become
citizens of a foreign country shall retain their Philippine citizenship
upon taking the aforesaid oath. 2 Petition for Leave to Resume
Practice of Law, Benjamin Dacanay, Petitioner, B.M. No. 1678,
December 17, 2007. 3 R.A. No. 9225, Section 5. Resolution 4 B.M.
No. 2112 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 Thus, in
pursuance to the qualifications laid down by the Court for the
practice of law, the OBC required the herein petitioner to submit
the original or certified true copies of the following documents in
relation to his petition: 1. Petition for Re-Acquisition of Philippine
Citizenship; 2. Order (for Re-Acquisition of Philippine citizenship);
3. Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; 4.
Identification Certificate (IC) issued by the Bureau of Immigration;
5. Certificate of Good Standing issued by the IBP; 6.Certification
from the IBP indicating updated payments of annual membership
dues; 7.Proof of payment of professional tax; and 8.Certificate of
compliance issued by the MCLE Office. In compliance thereof, the
petitioner submitted the following: 1. Petition for Re-Acquisition
of Philippine Citizenship; 2. Order (for Re-Acquisition of Philippine
citizenship); 3. Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the
Philippines; 4.Certificate of Re-Acquisition/Retention of Philippine
Citizenship issued by the Bureau of Immigration, in lieu of the IC;
5. Certification dated May 19, 2010 of the IBP-Surigao City
Chapter attesting to his good moral character as well as his
updated payment of annual membership dues; 6. Professional Tax
Receipt (PTR) for the year 2010; 4 Supra note 2. Resolution 5 B.M.
No. 2112 7.Certificate of Compliance with the MCLE for the 2nd
compliance period; and 8. Certification dated December 5, 2008
of Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Coordinator, UC-MCLE Program,
University of Cebu, College of Law attesting to his compliance
with the MCLE. The OBC further required the petitioner to update
his compliance, particularly with the MCLE. After all the
requirements were satisfactorily complied with and finding that
the petitioner has met all the qualifications and none of the
disqualifications for membership in the bar, the OBC
recommended that the petitioner be allowed to resume his
practice of law. Upon this favorable recommendation of the OBC,
the Court adopts the same and sees no bar to the petitioner's
resumption to the practice of law in the Philippines. WHEREFORE,
the petition of Attorney Epifanio B. Muneses is hereby GRANTED,
subject to the condition that he shall re-take the Lawyer's Oath on
a date to be set by the Court and subject to the payment of
On June 8, 2009, petitioner Epifanio B. Muneses with lawyer who re-acquired Philippine citizenship to practice law. The
the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) praying that he be granted Supreme Court En Banc has recently granted the petition of a
the privilege to practice law in the Philippines. lawyer to practice law in the Philippines once again after losing
Petitioner became a member of the IBP in 1966 but lost his the said privilege to practice law when he became a citizen of the
privilege to practice law when he became a American citizen in United States of America in 1981 and then re-acquiring his
1981. In 2006, he re-acquired his Philippine citizenship pursuant Philippine citizenship in 2006 pursuant to RA 9225, the Citizenship
to RA 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003.The Court further
of 2003 by taking his oath of allegiance as a Filipino citizen directed the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) to draft the
before the Philippine Consulate in Washington, D.C. He intends to necessary guidelines for the re-acquisition of the privilege to
retire in the Philippines and if granted, to resume the practice of resume the practice of law for the guidance of the Bench and the
law. Bar. In a six-page resolution penned by Justice Bienvenido L.
Reyes, the Court unanimously held that upon favorable
The Court reiterates that Filipino citizenship is a requirement for recommendation from the OBC, Atty. Epifanio B. Muneses
admission to the bar and is, in fact, a continuing requirement for satisfactorily complied with all the requirements sought by the
the practice of law. The loss thereof means termination of the OBC and met all the qualifications and none of the
petitioners membership in the bar; ipso jure the privilege to disqualifications for membership in the Bar. In particular, he had
engage in the practice of law. Under R.A. No. 9225, natural-born submitted in compliance the following:1) Petition for Re-
citizens who have lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship;2) Order (for Re-Acquisition
their naturalization as citizens of a foreign country are deemed to of Philippine Citizenship);3) Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of
have re-acquired their Philippine citizenship upon taking the oath the Philippines;4) Certificate of Re-Acquisition/Retention of
of allegiance to the Republic. Thus, a Filipino lawyer who becomes Philippine Citizenship issued by the Bureau of Immigration, in lieu
a citizen of another country and later re-acquires his Philippine of the Identification Certicate;5) Certification dated May 19,
citizenship under R.A. No. 9225, remains to be a member of the 2010 of the IBP-Surigao City Chapter attesting to his good moral
Philippine Bar. However, as stated in Dacanay, the right to character as well as his updated payment of annual membership
resume the practice of law is not automatic. R.A. No. 9225 dues;6) Professional Tax Receipt (PTR) for the year 2010;7)
provides that a person who intends to practice his profession in Certificate of Compliance with the MCLE for the 2nd compliance
the Philippines must apply with the proper authority for a license period; and8) Certification dated December 5, 2008 of Atty. Gloria
or permit to engage in such practice. Estenzo-Ramos, Coordinator, UC-MCLE Program, University of
Cebu, College of Law attesting to his compliance with the
Thus, in pursuance to the qualifications laid down by the Court for MCLE.The Court sees no bar to the petitioners resumption to
the practice of law, the OBC required, and incompliance thereof, the practice of law in the Philippines, the Court declared, subject
petitioner submitted the following: to the condition that Atty. Muneses re-take the Lawyers Oath
and pay the appropriate fee. The Court reiterated that ilipino
1. Petition for Re-Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship; citizenship is a continuing requirement for the practice of law, loss
2. Order (for Re-Acquisition of Philippine citizenship); of which means the termination of ones membership in the Bar
3. Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; and the privilege to engage in the practice of law. Thus, a ilipino
4. Certificate of Re-Acquisition/Retention of Philippine Citizenship lawyer who becomes a citizen of another country but later re-
issued by the Bureau of Immigration, in lieu of the IC; acquires his Philippine citizenship under RA 9225 remains to be a
5. Certification dated May 19, 2010 of the IBP-Surigao City member of the Philippine Bar, it added. It also noted that the
Chapter attesting to his good moral character as well as his right to resume the practice of law, however, is not automatic and
updated payment of annual membership dues; Section 5 of RA 9225 states that a person who intends to practice
6. Professional Tax Receipt (PTR) for the year 2010; his profession in the Philippines must apply with the proper
7. Certificate of Compliance with the MCLE for the 2nd authority for the license or permit to engage in such practice.
compliance period; and
8. Certification dated December 5, 2008 of Atty. Gloria Estenzo-
Ramos, Coordinator, UC-MCLE Program, B.M. No. 1678PETITION FOR LEAVE TO RESUME
University of Cebu, College of Law attesting to his compliance PRACTICE OF LAW,BENJAMIN M. DACANAYThis bar matter
with the MCLE. concerns the petition of petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay for leave
to resume the practice of law.
The OBC further required the petitioner to update his compliance,
particularly with the MCLE. After all the requirements were
satisfactorily complied with and finding that the petitioner has EN BANC
met all the qualifications, the OBC recommended that the G.R. Nos. L-10236-48 January 31, 1958
petitioner be allowed to resume his practice of law. THE PFOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES plaintiff-appellant,
vs.
EUSTACIO DE LUNA, ET AL., defendants-appellees.
WHEREFORE, the petition of Attorney Epifanio B. Muneses is Office of the Solicitor General Ambrosio Padilla and
hereby GRANTED, subject to the condition that he shall re-take Solicitor Felicisimo R. Rosete for appellant.
the Lawyer's Oath on a date to be set by the Court and subject to Luis F. Gabinete for appellee Eustacio de Luna.
the payment of appropriate fees. Pedro B. Ayuda for appellee Estella R. Gordo.
Alejandro P. Capitulo for appellees Angelo T. Lopez and
Alawadin I. Bandon.
DIGEST Fransisco de la Fuente for appellee Oreste Arellano y
Rodriguez.
BM No. 2112,In Re: Petition to Re-Acquire the Privilege Bienvenido Peralta for appellee Abraham C. Calaguas.
to Practice Law in the Philippines, Epifanio B. Muneses. SC allows Santos L. Parina, Generosa H. Hubilla, Maria Velez y
Estrellas, Jaime P. Marco, Roque J. Briones, Balbino P. This conclusion is untenable. The above-quoted
Fajardo and Emilio P. Jardinico, Jr. in their own behalf. provisions of the Rules of court is permissive in nature.
CONCEPCION, J.: It is merely declaratory of the inherent power of courts
This is an appeal, taken by the prosecution, from an to punish those guilty of contempt against the same. It
order, of the Court of First Instance of Manila, granting does not declare that jurisdiction of the court
a motion to dismiss filed by the defendant in each one concerned to so punish the guilty party is exclusive.
of the above entitled cases, for lack of jurisdiction and, Indeed, in promulgating said Rules of Court, this Court
also, upon the ground that the facts alleged in the could not have validly denied to other Courts, to which
amended informations, filed in said cases, do not the jurisdiction may have been vested by statute, the
constitute the crime of contempt of court with which right to exercise said authority, for the rule-making
said defendants (Eustacio de Luna, Jaime P. Marco, power of the Supreme Court, under Article VIII, section
Santos L. Parina, Estela R. Gordo, Angelo T. Lopez, 13, of the Constitution, is limited to the promulgation
Generosa H. Hubilla Oreste Arellano y Rodriguez, of "rules concerning pleadings, practice and procedure
Abraham C. Calaguas, Roque J. Briones, Alawadin T. in all courts, and the admission to the practice of law,"
Bandon, Balbino P. Fajardo, Maria Velez y Estrellas and and does not extend to the determination of the
Emilio P. Jardinico, Jr., are charged. It is alleged in said jurisdiction of the courts of justice in the Philippines. In
amended informations that, on or about the 22nd day fact, section 2 of said Article VIII of the Constitution
of December, 1954, in the City of Manila, Philippines, explicitly ordains that "Congress shall have the power
the person accused in each one Of these cases. to define, prescribe and apportion the jurisdiction of
. . . well knowing that he has not passed the bar the various courts," thereby implying, necessarily, that
examination and was not in any way authorized to take such power is withheld from the Supreme Court.
his oath as a lawyer and after haing been duly Needless to say, the aforesaid view, quoted from
informed and notified that certain portions of Republic Corpus Juris Secundum, is good law only "unless
Act No. 972, known as the Bar Flunkers Act of 1953, otherwise provided by stattute" (17 C.J.S., 81), and
are unconstitutional and therefore void and without such statute, providing "otherwise", exists in the
force and effect, and that all the petitions of the Philippines.
candidates including the accused who failed in the Moreover, the amended informantions specifically
examinations of 1946 to 1952, inclusive, for admission allege that the defendants herein did "perform acts
to the bar were refused and denied by the Resolution constituting improper conduct and manifestations that
of the Honorable, the Supreme Court, promulgated on the tend directly or indirectly to impede, obstruct or
March 18, 1954, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully degrade the administration of justice in all courts of
and contemptously disobey and resist in an insolent the Philippines and impair the respect to and attack
and defiant manner the said Resolution of the the authority and dignity of the Honorable, the
Supreme Court directed to him and each and everyone Supreme Court and all other inferior courts." To put it
of the petitioners, and perform acts constituting differently the acts charged werecommitted, according
improper conduct and manifestations that tend to said amended informations, in contempt of the
directly or indirectly to impede, obstruct or degrade Supreme Court, as well as of "all other courts of the
the administration of justice in all courts of the Philippines," including the Court of First Instance of
Philippines and impair the respect to and attack the Manila. Thus, the very authorities cited in the order
authority and dignity of the Honorable, the Supreme appealed from do not justify the same.
Court and all other inferior courts by then and there, Again , section 236 of Act No. 190 and section 6 of Rule
without being lawfully authorized to do so, taking an 64 of the Rules of Court provide that a person guilty of
oath as a lawyer before a notary public and making any of the acts of contempt defined, respectively, in
manifestations to that effect before the Honorable, the section 232 of said Act and section 3 of said Rule 64,
Supreme Court. "may be fined not exceeding one thousand pesos, or
After quoting from Rule 64, section 4, of the Rules of imprisoned not more than six months." Pursuant to
Court, the pertinent part of which reads: section 44 of the Revised Judiciary Act of 1948
Where the contempt . . . has been committed against a (Republic Act No. 296), courts of first instance have
superior court or judge, or against an officer appointed original jurisdiction over criminal cases "in which the
by it, the charge may be filed with such superior court . penalty provided by law is imprisonment for more than
. . (Emphasis our.). six months, or a fine of more than two thousand
and from the Corpus Juris Secundum, the rule to the pesos." Inasmuch as a fine not exceeding P1,000 may
effect that . be imposed in the cases of contempt under
It is a well-established rule that the power to judge the consideration, it follows that the same are within the
contempt rest exclusively with the court contemned original jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance of
and that no court is authorized to punish a contempt Manila, although such jurisdiction is concurrent with
against another. Accordingly, disobedience of the that of the Supreme Court, in view of the inherent
order of a state court is not punishable as for contempt power of the latter to punish those guilty of contempt
by a court of another state or by a federal court. against the same.
the lower court concluded that the contemptuous act It may not be amiss to add that, in the event of such
allegedly committed by appellees herein "was concurrent jurisdiction over cases of contempt of
committed not against" said court "but against the court, it would be a good practice to acknowledge the
Supreme Court of the Philippines" and that, preferencial right of the court against which the act of
accordingly, the Court of First Instance of Manila "has contempt was committed to try and punish the guilty
no jurisdiction to try and punish" the appellees herein. party. However, insofar as appellees herein are
concerned, on February 3, 1955, this Court passed and C. The notary public Anatolio A. Alcoba, member of the
promulgated a resolution of the following tenor: Bar, who has illegally administered the oath to the said
The Court received from Pedro B. Ayuda a persons in disregard of this Court's resolution denying
communication of the following tenor: them admission to the Bar (except Capitulo, Gofredo
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES and Sugarol), is hereby given ten days to show cause
SUPREME COURT why he should not be disbarred or suspended from the
MANILA pratice of law;
IN-RE ATTORNEYS WHO TOOK THE OATH BEFORE A D. The clerk of Court is directed to furnish copy of this
NOTARY PUBLIC UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF REPUBLIC resolution to the Court of Appeals and to all courts of
ACT NO. 972. first instance, the Court of Industrial Relations, the
Public Service Commission, and the Department of
Oreste Arellano y Rodriguez. Justice;
Pedro B. Ayuda. E. As to Capitulo, Gofredo and Sugarol, proper action
Alawadin I. Bandon. will be taken later in their respective cases. (pp. 36-37,
Roque J. Briones. rec., G.R. No.L-10245.)
Abraham C. Calaguas. It is clear, from the foregoing resolution, that this
Balbino P. Fajardo. Court did not intend to exercise its concurrent
Claro C. Gofredo. jurisdiction over the acts of alleged contempt
Estela R. Gordo. committed by appellees herein and that we preferred
Generoso H. Hubilla. that the corresponding action be taken by the City
Emilio P. Jardinico, Jr. Fiscal of Manila in the Court of First Instance of Manila.
Angelo T. Lopez. In fine, the latter had no jurisdiction over the cases at
Eustacio de Luna. the bar.
Jaime P. Marco. The next question for determination is whetehr the
Santos L. Parina. acts charged in the amended informations constitute
Florencio P. Sugarol, and contempt of court. After quoting the allegation of said
Maria Velez y Estrellas. amended informations to the effect that the defendant
Attorneys. in each one of the instant cases.
xxx xxx xxx. . . . did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
MANIFESTATION contemptuously disobey and resist in an insolent snd
COMES NOW the undersigned for and in defiant manner the said Resolution of the Supreme
representation of the above-named attorneys and to Court directed to him, and each and everyone of the
this Honorable Court, hereby respectfully makes petitioners and perform acts constituting improper
manifestation that they have taken the oath of office conduct and manifestations that tend directly and
as Attorneys-at-Law on December 22, 1954 before Mr. indirectly to impede, obstruct or degrade the
Anatolio A. Alcova, a Notary Public in and for the City administration of justice. . .
of Manila, with office at R-201 Regina Building, Escolta, the lower court had the following to say:
Manila, in pursuance of the provisions of Republic Act From this allegation, there is no hint whatsoever that
No. 972; any command, order or notification from the judicial
There are attached to this manifestation seventeen court or any non-judicial person, committee or body
(17) copies of the oath of office as Annexes 'A', 'B', 'C', clothed by law with power to punish for contempt has
'D', 'E', 'F', 'G', 'H', 'I', 'K', 'L', 'M', 'N', 'O', 'P', and 'Q'. been disobeyed or violated by the herein accused.
Messrs, Alejandro P. Capitulo, Claro C. Godofredo, and Moreover, there is nothing shown in the resolution of
Florencio P. Sugarol of the group took the bar the Honorable Supreme Court of March 18, 1954
examination in August, 1954. They also had taken their directing the accused not to take their oath as lawyers.
oath before this Honorable Tribunal, January 20, 1955. The mere fact of taking an oath by any person as a
This manifestation is made for all legal effects as they lawyer does not make him automatically a lawyer
will practice law in all the Courts of the Philippines. without having completed the requirements
Manila, Philippines, January 28, 1955. prescribed by the Supreme Court for the admission to
the practice by law. It is necessary before his admission
(Sgd.) PEDRO B. AYUDA
to the Bar that he passes the required bar
examinations and is admitted by the Supreme Court to
In his own behalf and on behalf of the others in his practice as attorney. Our statutes punish as criminal
capacity as president of the 1946-1952 BAR contempt one 'assuming to be an attorney or an officer
EXAMINEES ASSOCIATION, 2034 Azcarraga, Manila. of a court and acting as such without authority.' (par.
It appearing that the persons mentioned, except F. Rule 64, Rules of Court.) The mere taking of oath of
Capitulo, Gefredo, and Sugarol, have not passed the lawyers by herein accused, in the humble opinion of
examinations, it was resolved: this Court, is not tantamount to practice law. However,
A. To refer the matter to the Fiscal, City of Manila for if this had taken one step further, as for example, after
investigation and appropriate action in connection taking their oaths, they have held out themselves as
with Section 3 (e), Rule 64; lawyers to the public, received cases for litigants,
B. As Pedro Ayuda has assumed to be an attorney appeared before any court of justice personally or by
without authority, he is given 10 days from notice filing pleadings therewith, would be considered that
thereof, within which to explain why he should not be they are really engaged in the practice of law. These
dealt with for contempt of the Court; accused have not committed any of these acts as
enunciated by our Supreme Tribunal in the case of
Bosque and Ney, 8 Phil., 146, nor have they disobeyed Spanish Law. Accused of contempt of court, both were
or defied any command, order or notification of this convicted as charged, although upon different
Court or of the Honorable Supreme Court. What they grounds. As regards the Spaniard, it was held that a
have done only was the taking of their oath as lawyers former order of this Court denying his admission to the
before a notary public who was not authorized by law practice of in the Philippines, on account of alienage,
to take their oath as lawyers, as the latter can only "was directly binding upon him;" that the
swear as such before the Supreme Court or any aforementioned circular "amounted to an assertation
member thereof. of his right and purpose" to engage in such practice of
Pursuant to the above stated reasons, this Court is of law; and that "consequently the conduct of the
the opinion and so holds that no criminal contempt has defendant Bosque amounts to disobedience of an order
been committed by the herein accused before this made in a proceeding to which he was a party." As
Court and neither before the highest Tribunal of this regards Ney, he was found guilty of "misbehaviour"
land. committed by "an officer of the court."
The aforementioned quotation from the amended Likewise, by their aforementioned acts, as set forth in
informations is, however, incomplete. It did not the amended informations, appellees herein expressed
include the allegation to the effect that the defendant clearly their intent to, and did, in fact, challenged and
in each one of the cases ar bar took his "oath as a defy the authority of this Court to pass upon and
lawyer before a notary public" and filed the settle, in a final and conclusive manner, the issue
manifestation transcribed in the resolutionabove whether or not they should be admitted to the bar, as
quoted, well as, embarrass, hinder and obstruct the
well knowing that he has not passed the bar administration of justice and impair the respect due to
examination and was not in any way authorized to take the courts of justice in general, and the Supreme
his oath as a lawyer and after having been duly Court, in particular. Thus, they performed acts
informed and notified that certain portions of Republic constituting an "improper conduct tending, directly or
Act No. 972, known as the Bar Flunkers Act of 1953, indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the
are unconstitutional and therefore void and without administration of justice," in violation of section 3,
force and effect, and that all the petition of the subdivision (b) of said Rule 64.
candidates including the accused who failed in the . . . Acts which bring the court into disrepute or
examinations of 1946 to 1952, inclusive for admission disrespect or which offend its dignity, affront its
to the bar were refused and denied by the resolution majesty, or challenge its authority constitute contempt
of the Honorable Supreme Court, on March 18, 1954, . of court. . . . (12 Am. Jur.395.).
.. The lower court is, seemingly, under the impression
In other words, appellees knew that they did not pass that appellees could not be guilty of contempt of court
the bar examination. Although they, likewise, sought unless they actually engaged in the practice of law or
admission to the Bar under the provisions of Republic "held out to the public" as lawyers "by means of
Act No. 972, known as the Bar Flunkers Act of 1953, circulars." Such view is inaccurate, for assuming to be
they were subsequently notified of the resolution of an attorney . . . and acting as such without authority,"
this Court denying said petition. Inasmuch as the oath is, only one of the means by which contempt of court
as lawyer is a prerequisite to the practice of law and may be committed, under said Rule 64, section 3, of
may be taken only, before the Supreme Court, by the Rules of Court. At any rate, by taking "'the oath of
those authorized by the latter to engage in such office as attorney-at-law" and notifying the Supreme
practice, the resolution denying the aforementioned Court that they had done so and would "practice law in
petition of appellees herein, implied, necessarily, a all courts of the Philippines", the appellees had for all
denial of the right to said oath, as well as a prohibition intents and purposes, "held out to the public" as such
of or injunction against the taking thereof. When, this attorneys-at-law (U.S. vs. Ney and Mosque, supra).
notwithstanding, appellees took the oath before a Wherefore, the order appealed from is hereby
notary public, and formally advised this Court, not only reversed, and let the records of these cases be
of such fact, but also, that "they will practice in all the remanded to the court of origin for further
courtr of the Philippines," they, accordingly, disobeyed proceedings not inconsistent with this decision. It is so
the order implied, in said resolution, thus violating ordered.
section 232 of Act No. 190, which declares in part: Bengzon, Paras, C.J., Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes, A.,
A person guilty of any of the following acts may be Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Reyes, J.B.L., Endencia, and
punished as for contempt: Felix, JJ., concur.
1. Disobedience of or resistance to a lawful writ,
process, order, judgment, or command of a court, or
injunction granted by a court or judge.
and section 3, subdivision (b), Rule 64, of the Rules of
Court, which is identical.
This case is, in principle, analogous to that of U.S. vs.
Ney and Bosque (8 Phil., 146), which involved two
lawyers, an American, C.W. Ney, and a Spaniard, Juan
Garcia Bosque, who sent out a circular, signed "Ney
and Bosque", stating that they had established an
office for the general practice of law in all courts of the
Islands and that Bosque would devote himself
especially to consultation and office work relating to