You are on page 1of 4

6/18/2015

BAR MATTER NO. 702 May 12, 1994

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation


BAR MATTER NO. 702 May 12, 1994

BAR MATTER NO. 702 May 12, 1994


Gentlemen:
Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a Resolution of the Court En Banc dated May 12, 1994.
Bar Matter No. 702 (In the Matter of Petition to authorize Sharia'h District Court Judges to Appoint Shari'a
Lawyers as Notaries Public, Atty. Royo M. Gampong, petitioner)
Petitioner Royo M. Gampong, a Bachelor of Laws (LIB) graduate of Notre Dame University who was admitted
to the Philippine Shari'a Bar on October 7, 1991, filed the instant petition praying that this Court, after due
notice and hearing, issue an order authorizing all Shari'a District Court Judges to appoint Shari'a Lawyers
who possess the qualifications and none of the disqualifications as notaries public within their respective
jurisdictions.
On the theory that Shari'a District Courts are co-equal with the regular Regional Trial Courts in the hierarchy
of the Philippine Judicial System, petitioner claims that by analogy, Shari'a District Court Judges may be
authorized to appoint the members of the Philippine Shari'a Bar. Petitioner further argues that, being a special
member of the Philippine Bar and a practicing Shari'a lawyer, notarial work is indispensable and imperative in
the exercise of his profession; therefore, he is qualified to be appointed as notary public by Shari'a District
Judge. Petitioner likewise claims that Shari'a lawyers cannot be appointed as notaries public in their places of
residence and in cities and other pilot centers where Shari'a courts are established because the RTC
Executive Judges in Cotabato and Maguindanao require them to secure certifications from the IBP Secretary
that there are no practicing lawyers in the place where they are applying. Thus, Shari'a lawyers lose their
chance to be appointed as notaries public because of the policy of the IBP chapters in Region 12 to appoint
regular IBP members practically in all municipalities and provinces.
The petition is denied.
The appointment, qualification, jurisdiction and powers of notaries public are governed by the provisions of
the Notarial Law embodied in Sections 231 to Section 241, Chapter 11 of the Revised Administrative Code,
Section 232 of the Revised Administrative Code as amended by Executive Order No. 41, May 11, 1945
provides:
Section 232. Appointment of notaries public. Judges of Court of First Instance (now
Regional Trial Court) in the respective may appoint as many notaries public as the public
good requires, and there shall be at least one for every municipality in each province.
Notaries public in the City of Manila shall be appointed by one of the judges of the Court of
First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Manila to be chosen by the judges of the
branches of said court" (Words in parenthesis supplied)
Strictly speaking, Shari'a District Courts do not form part of the integrated judicial system of the Philippines.
Section 2 of the Judiciary Reorganization Acts of 1980 (B.P. Blg. 129) enumerates the courts covered by the
Act, comprising the integrated judicial system. Shari'a Courts are not included in the enumeration
notwithstanding that, when said B.P. Blg. 129 took effect on August 14, 1981, P.D. No. 1083 (otherwise
known as "Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines") was already in force. The Shari'a Courts are
mentioned in Section 45 of the Act only for the purpose of including them "in the funding appropriations."
The fact that judges thereof are required by law to possess the same qualifications as those of Regional Trial
Courts does not signify that the Shari'a Court is a regular court like the Regional Trial Court. The latter is a
court of general jurisdiction, i.e., competent to decide all cases, civil and criminal, within its jurisdiction. A
Shari'a District Court, created pursuant to Article 137 of Presidential Decree No. 1083, is a court of limited
jurisdiction, exercising original only over cases specifically enumerated in Article 143 thereof. In other words,
a Shari'a District Court is not a regular court exercising general jurisdiction within the meaning of Section 232
of the Notarial Law.
http://www.lawphil.net/courts/bm/bm_702_1994.html

1/4

6/18/2015

BAR MATTER NO. 702 May 12, 1994

The fact, too, that Shari'a Courts are called "courts" does not imply that they are on equal footing or are
identical with regular courts, for the word "court" may be applied to tribunals which are not actually judicial in
character, but are quasi-judicial agencies, like the Securities and Exchange Commission, Land Registration
Authority, Social Security Commission, Civil Aeronautics Boards, Bureau of Patents, Trademark and
Technology, Energy Regulatory Board, etc. 1
Moreover, decisions of the Shari'a District Courts are not elevated to this Court by appeal under Rule 41, or by petition for review under Rule 45, of the
Rules of Court. Their decisions are final "whether on appeal from the Shari'a Circuit Court or not" 2 and hence, may reach this Court only by way of a
special civil action under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, similar to those of the National Labor Relations Commission, or the Central Board of Assessment
Appeals. 3
Furthermore, the qualifications for appointment as a judge of a Shari'a District Court are different from those required of a judge of a Regional Trial Court
under Section 15 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 which provides:

Section 15. Qualifications No person shall be appointed Regional trial Court Judge
unless he is a natural born citizen of the Philippines, at least thirty-five years of age, and,
for at least ten years, has been engaged in the practice of law in the Philippines requiring
admission to the practice of law as an indispensable requirement.
In case of Shari'a Court judges, on the other hand, a Special Bar Examination for Shari'a Courts was
authorized by the Supreme Court in its En Banc resolution dated September 20, 1983. Those who pass said
examination are qualified for appointment for Shari'a court judges and for admission to special membership in
the Philippine Bar to practice law in the Shari'a courts pursuant to Article 152, in relation to Articles 148 and
158 of P.D. No. 1083. Said Article 152, P.D. No. 1083 provides, thus:
Art. 152. Qualifications. No person shall be appointed judge of the Shari'a Circuit Court
unless he is a natural born citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-five years of age, and
has passed an examination in the Sharia' and Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) to be given by
the Supreme Court for admission to special membership in the Philippine Bar to practice
law in the Shari'a courts.
The authority thus conferred by the Notarial Law upon judges of the Court of First Instance, now the Regional
Trial Court, in their respective provinces to appoint notaries public cannot be expanded to cloth the judges of
the Shari'a District Court with the same statutory authority. The authority to appoint notaries public
contemplated under Section 232 of the Notarial Law and the corresponding supervising authority over them
authorized under Section 248 thereof require the qualifications and experience of an RTC Judge.
It must be made clear in this regard that since a person who has passed the Shari'a Bar Examination does
not automatically become a regular member of the Philippine Bar, he lacks the necessary qualification to be
appointed a notary public. Section 233 of the Notarial Law provides for the qualifications for appointment as
notary public, thus:
Section 233. Qualifications for Appointment. To be eligible for appointment as notary
public, a person must be a citizen of the Philippines (or of the United States) and over
twenty-one years of age. He must, furthermore, be a person who has been admitted to the
practice of law or who has completed and passed in the studies of law in a reputable
university or school of law, or has passed the examination for the office of the peace or
clerk or deputy clerk of court, or be a person who had qualified for the office of notary
public under the Spanish sovereignty.
In the chartered cities and in the capitals of the provinces, where there are two or more
lawyers appointed as notaries public, no person other than a lawyer or a person who had
qualified to hold the office of notary public under the Spanish sovereignty shall hold said
office.
In municipalities or municipal districts where no person resides having the qualifications
herein before specified or having them, refuses to hold such office, judges of first instance
may appoint other persons temporarily to exercise the office of notary public who have the
requisite qualifications or fitness and morality.
http://www.lawphil.net/courts/bm/bm_702_1994.html

2/4

6/18/2015

BAR MATTER NO. 702 May 12, 1994

In an En Banc resolution of the Court dated August 5, 1993, in Bar Matter No. 681 "Re: Petition to Allow
Shari'a Lawyers to exercise their profession at the regular courts," this Court categorically stated that a
person who has passed the Shari'a Bar Examination is only a special member of the Philippine Bar and not a
full-fledged member thereof even if he is a Bachelor of Laws degree holder. As such, he is authorized to
practice only in the Shari'a courts.
Only a person duly admitted as members of the Philippine Bar in accordance with the Rules of Court are
entitled to practice law before the regular courts. Section 1, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court provides:
Section 1. Who may practice law. Any person heretofore duly admitted as a member of
the bar, or hereafter admitted as such in accordance with the provisions of this rule, and
who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice law.
This Court further emphasized in its resolution in Bar Matter 681, that:
In order to be admitted as member of the Philippine Bar, the candidate must pass an
examination for admission covering the following subjects: Political and International Law;
Labor and Social Legislation; Civil Law and Taxation; Mercantile Law; Criminal Law;
Remedial Law; and Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises (Sec. 11, Rule 138) Further, in
order that a candidate may be deemed to have passed the bar examination, he must have
obtained a general average of 75% in all the aforementioned subjects without failing below
50% in any subject (Sec. 14, Rule 138). On the other hand, the subjects covered by the
special bar examination for Shari'a courts are: (1) Jurisprudence (Fiqh) and Customary
laws (Adat); (2) Persons, Family Relations and Property; (3) Successions,
Wills/Adjudication and Settlement of Property; (4) Procedure in Shari'a Courts (See
Resolution dated September 20, 1983).
It is quite obvious that the subject matter of the two examinations are different. The
Philippine Bar Examination covers the entire range of the Philippine Laws and
jurisprudence, while the Shari'a Bar Examination covers Muslim personal laws and
jurisprudence only. Hence, a person who has passed the Shari'a Bar Examination, who is
not a lawyer, is not qualified to practice law before the regular courts because he has not
passed the requisite examinations for admission as a member of the Philippine Bar.
However, the Shari'a bar lawyer may appear before the Municipal Trial Courts as agent or
friend of a litigant, if appointed by the latter for the purpose but not before the Regional
Trial Courts as only duly authorized members of the Bar may conduct litigations in the
latter court (Sec. 34, Rule 138).
Considering, therefore that a person who has passed the Shari'a Bar Examination is only a special member of
the Philippine Bar and not a full-fledged member thereof even if he holds a Bachelor of Laws Degree, he is
not qualified to practice to qualified to practice law before the regular courts. As a general rule, a Shari'a
Lawyer is not possessed of the basic requisite of "practice of law" in order to be appointed as a notary public
under Section 233 of the Notarial Law in relation to Section 1, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court.
WHEREFORE, the petition to authorize Shari'a District Court Judges to appoint Shari'a Lawyers as notaries
public in their respective jurisdiction is DENIED.
Very Truly Yours,
LUZVIMINDA D. PUNO
Clerk of Court
By:
(Sgd.) MA. LUISA D. VILLARAMA
Assistant Clerk of Court
http://www.lawphil.net/courts/bm/bm_702_1994.html

3/4

6/18/2015

BAR MATTER NO. 702 May 12, 1994

Footnotes
1 See Circular 1-91, February 27, 1991.
2 Art 145, P.D. 1083.
3 See Resolution of November 26, 1990, G.R. No. 95895, Heirs of Datu Mangindra
Sinsuat, represented by Lourdes Sinsuat v. Datu Haakon Sinsuat and Hon. Corocoy D.
Moson, Shari'a District Judge; cf., Tampar v. Usman, 200 SCRA 652 (1991); Rulona-Al
Awadhi v. Astih, 165 SCRA 771 (1988).
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

http://www.lawphil.net/courts/bm/bm_702_1994.html

4/4