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FACTS: In 1991, Christian Monsod was appointed as the Chairman of the Commission on Elections. His
appointment was affirmed by the Commission on Appointments. Monsods appointment was opposed by
Renato Cayetano on the ground that he does not qualify for he failed to meet the Constitutional requirement
which provides that the chairman of the COMELEC should have been engaged in the practice law for at least
ten years.
Monsods track record as a lawyer:
Passed the bar in 1960 with a rating of 86.55%.
Immediately after passing, worked in his fathers law firm for one year.
Thereafter, until 1970, he went abroad where he had a degree in economics and held various positions in
various foreign corporations.
In 1970, he returned to the Philippines and held executive jobs for various local corporations until 1986.
In 1986, he became a member of the Constitutional Commission.
ISSUE: Whether or not Monsod qualifies as chairman of the COMELEC. What constitutes practice of law?
HELD: Yes. Atty. Monsods past work experiences as a lawyer-economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyerentrepreneur of industry, a lawyer-negotiator of contracts, and a lawyer-legislator of both the rich and the
poor verily more than satisfy the constitutional requirement that he has been engaged in the practice of
law for at least ten years.
As noted by various authorities, the practice of law is not limited to court appearances. The members of the
bench and bar and the informed laymen such as businessmen, know that in most developed societies today,
substantially more legal work is transacted in law offices than in the courtrooms. General practitioners of law
who do both litigation and non-litigation work also know that in most cases they find themselves spending
more time doing what is loosely described as business counseling than in trying cases. In the course of a
working day the average general practitioner wig engage in a number of legal tasks, each involving different
legal doctrines, legal skills, legal processes, legal institutions, clients, and other interested parties. Even the
increasing numbers of lawyers in specialized practice wig usually perform at least some legal services outside
their specialty. By no means will most of this work involve litigation, unless the lawyer is one of the relatively
rare types a litigator who specializes in this work to the exclusion of much else. Instead, the work will
require the lawyer to have mastered the full range of traditional lawyer skills of client counseling, advicegiving, document drafting, and negotiation.
B. M. No. 1036

June 10, 2003

FACTS: Respondent Edwin L. Rana was among those who passed the 2000 Bar Examinations. Respondent,
while not yet a lawyer, appeared as counsel for a candidate in the May 2001 elections before the Municipal
Board of Election Canvassers of Mandaon, Masbate and filed with the MBEC a pleading dated 19 May 2001
entitled Formal Objection to the Inclusion in the Canvassing of Votes in some Precincts for the Office of ViceMayor. In this pleading, respondent represented himself as "counsel for and in behalf of Vice Mayoralty
Candidate, George Bunan," and signed the pleading as counsel for George Bunan. Furthermore, respondent
also signed as counsel for Emily Estipona-Hao on 19 May 2001 in the petition filed before the MBEC praying
for the proclamation of Estipona-Hao as the winning candidate for mayor of Mandaon, Masbate. On 21 May
2001, one day before the scheduled mass oath-taking of successful bar examinees as members of the
Philippine Bar, complainant Donna Marie Aguirre filed against respondent a Petition for Denial of Admission to
the Bar. On 22 May 2001, respondent was allowed to take the lawyers oath but was disallowed from signing
the Roll of Attorneys until he is cleared of the charges against him.
ISSUE: Whether or not respondent shall be denied Admission to the Bar.
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 clearly supports the charge of
unauthorized practice of law. Respondent called himself "counsel" knowing fully well that he was not a
member of the Bar. Having held himself out as "counsel" knowing that he had no authority to practice law,
respondent has shown moral unfitness to be a member of the Philippine Bar.

The right to practice law is not a natural or constitutional right but is a privilege. It is limited to persons of good
moral character with special qualifications duly ascertained and certified. The exercise of this privilege
presupposes possession of integrity, legal knowledge, educational attainment, and even public trust since a
lawyer is an officer of the court. A bar candidate does not acquire the right to practice law simply by passing
the bar examinations. The practice of law is a privilege that can be withheld even from one who has passed
the bar examinations, if the person seeking admission had practiced law without a license. True, respondent
here passed the 2000 Bar Examinations and took the lawyers oath. However, it is the signing in the Roll of
Attorneys that finally makes one a full-fledged lawyer. The fact that respondent passed the bar examinations
is immaterial. Passing the bar is not the only qualification to become an attorney-at-law. Respondent should
know that two essential requisites for becoming a lawyer still had to be performed, namely: his lawyers oath
to be administered by this Court and his signature in the Roll of Attorneys.
A.M. No. 10-10-4-SC, 08 March 2011, EN BANC, (Leonardo-De Castro, J.)
Sanction awaits a subordinate who misbehaves.
The right to criticize the courts and judicial officers must be balanced against the equally primordial
concern that the independence of the Judiciary be protected from due influence or interference. In cases where
the critics are not only citizens but members of the Bar, jurisprudence has repeatedly affirmed the authority of
this Court to discipline lawyers whose statements regarding the courts and fellow lawyers, whether judicial or
extrajudicial, have exceeded the limits of fair comment and common decency.
Shortly after the promulgation of the Supreme Court decision in Vinuya v. Executive Secretary (the
Vinuya decision), the case involving the Filipino comfort women during the Japanese occupation, the counsel
for the petitioners therein filed, first, a Motion for Reconsideration reiterating the fundamental responsibility
of states in protecting its citizens human rights specifically pertaining to jus cogens norms and, second, a
supplement thereto asserting that the Vinuya decision was plagiarized from different sources and that the
true intents of the plagiarized sources were twisted by the ponente, Justice Mariano del Castillo (Justice del
Castillo), to suit the arguments laid down in said decision.
Vis-a-vis the Courts formation of an ethics committee tasked to investigate the veracity of the alleged
plagiarism, the authors who were purportedly plagiarized sent their respective letters to the Supreme Court,
noting the misreading and/or misrepresentation of their articles. Hence, in their articles, they argue that the
crimes of rape, torture and sexual slavery can be classified as crimes against humanity, thus attaining the jus
cogens status; consequently, it shall be obligatory upon the State to seek remedies on behalf of its aggrieved
citizens. However, the Vinuya decision cited them to support the contrary stand.
In response to this controversy, the faculty of UP College of Law came up with a statement entitled
Restoring Integrity: A Statement by the Faculty of the University of the Philippines College of Law on the
Allegations of Plagiarism and Misrepresentation in the Supreme Court (Restoring Integrity Statement), which
statement alleged plagiarism against Justice del Castillo, treating the same not only as an established fact, but
as a truth. Said statement was posted online and at the Colleges bulletin board and was submitted to the
Supreme Court. The manner in presenting the arguments and the language used therein, the Court believed,
were inappropriate considering its signatories are lawyers. Thus, the Supreme Court issued a Show Cause
Resolution directing respondents to show cause why they should not be disciplined as members of the Bar for
violations of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Conversely, compliance to such resolution was
unsatisfactory, except for one respondent.
1.) Whether or not the Show Cause Resolution denies respondents their freedom of expression
2.) Whether or not the Show Cause Resolution violates respondents academic freedom as law

Petition DENIED.
The Show Cause Resolution does not deny respondents their freedom of expression
A reading of the Show Cause Resolution will plainly show that it was neither the fact that respondents
had criticized a decision of the Court nor that they had charged one of its members of plagiarism that
motivated the said Resolution. It was the manner of the criticism and the contumacious language by which
respondents, who are not parties nor counsels in the Vinuya case, have expressed their opinion in favor of the
petitioners in the said pending case for the proper disposition and consideration of the Court that gave rise
to said Resolution. The Show Cause Resolution painstakingly enumerated the statements that the Court
considered excessive and uncalled for under the circumstances surrounding the issuance, publication, and
later submission to this Court of the UP Law facultys Restoring Integrity Statement.
The right to criticize, which is guaranteed by the freedom of speech and of expression in the Bill of
Rights of the Constitution, must be exercised responsibly, for every right carries with it a corresponding
obligation. Freedom is not freedom from responsibility, but freedom with responsibility. Thus, proscribed are
the use of unnecessary language which jeopardizes high esteem in courts, creates or promotes distrust in
judicial administration, or tends necessarily to undermine the confidence of people in the integrity of the
members of the Court. In other words, while a lawyer is entitled to present his case with vigor and courage,
such enthusiasm does not justify the use of offensive and abusive language. Language abounds with countless
possibilities for one to be emphatic but respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not
In a long line of cases, the Court has held that the right to criticize the courts and judicial officers must
be balanced against the equally primordial concern that the independence of the Judiciary be protected from
due influence or interference. In cases where the critics are not only citizens but members of the Bar,
jurisprudence has repeatedly affirmed the authority of this Court to discipline lawyers whose statements
regarding the courts and fellow lawyers, whether judicial or extrajudicial, have exceeded the limits of fair
comment and common decency.
The Show Cause Resolution does not violate respondents academic freedom as law professors
There is nothing in the Show Cause Resolution that dictates upon respondents the subject matter they
can teach and the manner of their instruction. Moreover, it is not inconsistent with the principle of academic
freedom for this Court to subject lawyers who teach law to disciplinary action for contumacious conduct and
speech, coupled with undue intervention in favor of a party in a pending case, without observing proper
procedure, even if purportedly done in their capacity as teachers.
Academic freedom cannot be successfully invoked by respondents in this case. The constitutional right
to freedom of expression of members of the Bar may be circumscribed by their ethical duties as lawyers to
give due respect to the courts and to uphold the publics faith in the legal profession and the justice
system. The Court believes that the reason that freedom of expression may be so delimited in the case of
lawyers applies with greater force to the academic freedom of law professors.
The Court reiterates that lawyers when they teach law are considered engaged in the practice of
law. Unlike professors in other disciplines and more than lawyers who do not teach law, respondents are
bound by their oath to uphold the ethical standards of the legal profession. Thus, their actions as law
professors must be measured against the same canons of professional responsibility applicable to acts of
members of the Bar as the fact of their being law professors is inextricably entwined with the fact that they
are lawyers.