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Republic of the Philippines

G.R. No. 176278

June 25, 2010

ALAN F. PAGUIA, Petitioner,

DAVIDE, JR. in his capacity as Permanent
Representative of the Philippines to the United
Nations, Respondents.
At issue is the power of Congress to limit the
Presidents prerogative to nominate ambassadors by
legislating age qualifications despite the constitutional
rule limiting Congress role in the appointment of
ambassadors to the Commission on Appointments
confirmation of nominees.1 However, for lack of a case
or controversy grounded on petitioners lack of
capacity to sue and mootness,2 we dismiss the petition
without reaching the merits, deferring for another day
the resolution of the question raised, novel and
fundamental it may be.
Petitioner Alan F. Paguia (petitioner), as citizen and
taxpayer, filed this original action for the writ of
certiorari to invalidate President Gloria MacapagalArroyos nomination of respondent former Chief
Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. (respondent Davide) as
Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN)
for violation of Section 23 of Republic Act No. 7157
(RA 7157), the Philippine Foreign Service Act of

1991. Petitioner argues that respondent Davides age at

that time of his nomination in March 2006, 70,
disqualifies him from holding his post. Petitioner
grounds his argument on Section 23 of RA 7157
pegging the mandatory retirement age of all officers
and employees of the Department of Foreign Affairs
(DFA) at 65.3 Petitioner theorizes that Section 23
imposes an absolute rule for all DFA employees, career
or non-career; thus, respondent Davides entry into the
DFA ranks discriminates against the rest of the DFA
officials and employees.
In their separate Comments, respondent Davide, the
Office of the President, and the Secretary of Foreign
Affairs (respondents) raise threshold issues against the
petition. First, they question petitioners standing to
bring this suit because of his indefinite suspension
from the practice of law.4 Second, the Office of the
President and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs (public
respondents) argue that neither petitioners citizenship
nor his taxpayer status vests him with standing to
question respondent Davides appointment because
petitioner remains without personal and substantial
interest in the outcome of a suit which does not
involve the taxing power of the state or the illegal
disbursement of public funds. Third, public
respondents question the propriety of this petition,
contending that this suit is in truth a petition for quo
warranto which can only be filed by a contender for
the office in question.
On the eligibility of respondent Davide, respondents
counter that Section 23s mandated retirement age
applies only to career diplomats, excluding from its
ambit non-career appointees such as respondent
The petition presents no case or controversy for
petitioners lack of capacity to sue and mootness.

First. Petitioners citizenship and taxpayer status do

not clothe him with standing to bring this suit. We have
granted access to citizens suits on the narrowest of
ground: when they raise issues of "transcendental"
importance calling for urgent resolution.5 Three factors
are relevant in our determination to allow third party
suits so we can reach and resolve the merits of the
crucial issues raised the character of funds or assets
involved in the controversy, a clear disregard of
constitutional or statutory prohibition, and the lack of
any other party with a more direct and specific interest
to bring the suit.6 None of petitioners allegations
comes close to any of these parameters. Indeed,
implicit in a petition seeking a judicial interpretation of
a statutory provision on the retirement of government
personnel occasioned by its seemingly ambiguous
crafting is the admission that a "clear disregard of
constitutional or statutory prohibition" is absent.
Further, the DFA is not devoid of personnel with "more
direct and specific interest to bring the suit." Career
ambassadors forced to leave the service at the
mandated retirement age unquestionably hold interest
far more substantial and personal than petitioners
generalized interest as a citizen in ensuring
enforcement of the law.1avvphi1
The same conclusion holds true for petitioners
invocation of his taxpayer status. Taxpayers
contributions to the states coffers entitle them to
question appropriations for expenditures which are
claimed to be unconstitutional or illegal.7 However, the
salaries and benefits respondent Davide received
commensurate to his diplomatic rank are fixed by law
and other executive issuances, the funding for which
was included in the appropriations for the DFAs total
expenditures contained in the annual budgets Congress
passed since respondent Davides nomination. Having
assumed office under color of authority (appointment),
respondent Davide is at least a de facto officer entitled
to draw salary,8 negating petitioners claim of "illegal
expenditure of scarce public funds."9

Second. An incapacity to bring legal actions peculiar to

petitioner also obtains. Petitioners suspension from
the practice of law bars him from performing "any
activity, in or out of court, which requires the
application of law, legal procedure, knowledge,
training and experience."10 Certainly, preparing a
petition raising carefully crafted arguments on equal
protection grounds and employing highly legalistic
rules of statutory construction to parse Section 23 of
RA 7157 falls within the proscribed conduct.
Third. A supervening event has rendered this case
academic and the relief prayed for moot. Respondent
Davide resigned his post at the UN on 1 April 2010.
WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the petition.

Republic of the Philippines

G.R. No. 100113 September 3, 1991
RENATO CAYETANO, petitioner,
capacity as Secretary of Budget and
Management, respondents.
Renato L. Cayetano for and in his own behalf.
Sabina E. Acut, Jr. and Mylene Garcia-Albano cocounsel for petitioner.

We are faced here with a controversy of far-reaching
proportions. While ostensibly only legal issues are
involved, the Court's decision in this case would
indubitably have a profound effect on the political
aspect of our national existence.
The 1987 Constitution provides in Section 1 (1),
Article IX-C:
There shall be a Commission on
Elections composed of a Chairman
and six Commissioners who shall be
natural-born citizens of the
Philippines and, at the time of their
appointment, at least thirty-five

years of age, holders of a college

degree, and must not have been
candidates for any elective position
in the immediately preceding
-elections. However, a majority
thereof, including the Chairman,
shall be members of the Philippine
Bar who have been engaged in the
practice of law for at least ten years.
(Emphasis supplied)
The aforequoted provision is patterned after Section
l(l), Article XII-C of the 1973 Constitution which
similarly provides:
There shall be an independent Commission on
Elections composed of a Chairman and eight
Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of
the Philippines and, at the time of their appointment, at
least thirty-five years of age and holders of a college
degree. However, a majority thereof, including the
Chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar who
have been engaged in the practice of law for at least
ten years.' (Emphasis supplied)
Regrettably, however, there seems to be no
jurisprudence as to what constitutes practice of law as
a legal qualification to an appointive office.
Black defines "practice of law" as:
The rendition of services requiring
the knowledge and the application of
legal principles and technique to
serve the interest of another with his
consent. It is not limited to appearing
in court, or advising and assisting in
the conduct of litigation, but
embraces the preparation of
pleadings, and other papers incident

to actions and special proceedings,

conveyancing, the preparation of
legal instruments of all kinds, and
the giving of all legal advice to
clients. It embraces all advice to
clients and all actions taken for them
in matters connected with the law.
An attorney engages in the practice
of law by maintaining an office
where he is held out to be-an
attorney, using a letterhead
describing himself as an attorney,
counseling clients in legal matters,
negotiating with opposing counsel
about pending litigation, and fixing
and collecting fees for services
rendered by his associate. (Black's
Law Dictionary, 3rd ed.)
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of
cases in court. (Land Title Abstract and Trust Co. v.
Dworken,129 Ohio St. 23, 193 N.E. 650) A person is
also considered to be in the practice of law when he:
... for valuable consideration engages
in the business of advising person,
firms, associations or corporations as
to their rights under the law, or
appears in a representative capacity
as an advocate in proceedings
pending or prospective, before any
court, commissioner, referee, board,
body, committee, or commission
constituted by law or authorized to
settle controversies and there, in
such representative capacity
performs any act or acts for the
purpose of obtaining or defending
the rights of their clients under the
law. Otherwise stated, one who, in a
representative capacity, engages in

the business of advising clients as to

their rights under the law, or while so
engaged performs any act or acts
either in court or outside of court for
that purpose, is engaged in the
practice of law. (State ex. rel.
Mckittrick v..C.S. Dudley and
Co., 102 S.W. 2d 895, 340 Mo. 852)
This Court in the case of Philippine Lawyers
Association v.Agrava, (105 Phil. 173,176-177) stated:
The practice of law is not limited to
the conduct of cases or litigation in
court; it embraces the preparation of
pleadings and other papers incident
to actions and special proceedings,
the management of such actions and
proceedings on behalf of clients
before judges and courts, and in
addition, conveying. In general,
all advice to clients, and all action
taken for them in mattersconnected
with the law incorporation services,
assessment and condemnation
services contemplating an
appearance before a judicial body,
the foreclosure of a mortgage,
enforcement of a creditor's claim in
bankruptcy and insolvency
proceedings, and conducting
proceedings in attachment, and in
matters of estate and guardianship
have been held to constitute law
practice, as do the preparation and
drafting of legal instruments, where
the work done involves the
determination by the trained legal
mind of the legal effect of facts and
conditions. (5 Am. Jr. p. 262, 263).
(Emphasis supplied)

Practice of law under modem

conditions consists in no small part
of work performed outside of any
court and having no immediate
relation to proceedings in court. It
embraces conveyancing, the giving
of legal advice on a large variety of
subjects, and the preparation and
execution of legal instruments
covering an extensive field of
business and trust relations and other
affairs. Although these transactions
may have no direct connection with
court proceedings, they are always
subject to become involved in
litigation. They require in many
aspects a high degree of legal skill, a
wide experience with men and
affairs, and great capacity for
adaptation to difficult and complex
situations. These customary
functions of an attorney or counselor
at law bear an intimate relation to the
administration of justice by the
courts. No valid distinction, so far as
concerns the question set forth in the
order, can be drawn between that
part of the work of the lawyer which
involves appearance in court and that
part which involves advice and
drafting of instruments in his office.
It is of importance to the welfare of
the public that these manifold
customary functions be performed
by persons possessed of adequate
learning and skill, of sound moral
character, and acting at all times
under the heavy trust obligations to
clients which rests upon all
attorneys. (Moran, Comments on the
Rules of Court, Vol. 3 [1953 ed.] , p.

665-666, citing In re Opinion of the

Justices [Mass.], 194 N.E. 313,
quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. v.
Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.] 179
A. 139,144). (Emphasis ours)
The University of the Philippines Law Center in
conducting orientation briefing for new lawyers (19741975) listed the dimensions of the practice of law in
even broader terms as advocacy, counselling and
public service.
One may be a practicing attorney in
following any line of employment in
the profession. If what he does
exacts knowledge of the law and is
of a kind usual for attorneys
engaging in the active practice of
their profession, and he follows
some one or more lines of
employment such as this he is a
practicing attorney at law within the
meaning of the statute. (Barr v.
Cardell, 155 NW 312)
Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court,
which requires the application of law, legal procedure,
knowledge, training and experience. "To engage in the
practice of law is to perform those acts which are
characteristics of the profession. Generally, to practice
law is to give notice or render any kind of service,
which device or service requires the use in any degree
of legal knowledge or skill." (111 ALR 23)
The following records of the 1986 Constitutional
Commission show that it has adopted a liberal
interpretation of the term "practice of law."
MR. FOZ. Before
we suspend the

session, may I
make a
which I forgot to
do during our
review of the
provisions on the
Commission on
Audit. May I be
allowed to make a
very brief
The Commissioner
will please
MR. FOZ. This
has to do with the
qualifications of
the members of the
Commission on
Audit. Among
others, the
provided for by
Section I is that
"They must be
Members of the
Philippine Bar"
I am quoting from
the provision
"who have been
engaged in the
practice of law for
at least ten years".

To avoid any misunderstanding

which would result in excluding
members of the Bar who are now
employed in the COA or
Commission on Audit, we would like
to make the clarification that this
provision on qualifications
regarding members of the Bar does
not necessarily refer or involve
actual practice of law outside the
COA We have to interpret this to
mean that as long as the lawyers
who are employed in the COA are
using their legal knowledge or legal
talent in their respective work within
COA, then they are qualified to be
considered for appointment as
members or commissioners, even
chairman, of the Commission on
This has been discussed by the
Committee on Constitutional
Commissions and Agencies and we
deem it important to take it up on the
floor so that this interpretation may
be made available whenever this
provision on the qualifications as
regards members of the Philippine
Bar engaging in the practice of law
for at least ten years is taken up.
MR. OPLE. Will
Commissioner Foz
yield to just one
MR. FOZ. Yes,
Mr. Presiding

MR. OPLE. Is he,

in effect, saying
that service in the
COA by a lawyer
is equivalent to the
requirement of a
law practice that
is set forth in the
Article on the
Commission on
must consider the
fact that the work
of COA, although
it is auditing, will
necessarily involve
legal work; it will
involve legal work.
And, therefore,
lawyers who are
employed in COA
now would have
the necessary
qualifications in
accordance with
the Provision on
under our
provisions on the
Commission on
Audit. And,
therefore, the
answer is yes.
MR. OPLE. Yes.
So that the
construction given
to this is that this is

equivalent to the
practice of law.

or more inexperienced salaried attorneyscalled

"associates." (Ibid.).

MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr.

Presiding Officer.

The test that defines law practice by looking to

traditional areas of law practice is essentially
tautologous, unhelpful defining the practice of law as
that which lawyers do. (Charles W. Wolfram, Modern
Legal Ethics [West Publishing Co.: Minnesota, 1986],
p. 593). The practice of law is defined as the
performance of any acts . . . in or out of court,
commonly understood to be the practice of law. (State
Bar Ass'n v. Connecticut Bank & Trust Co., 145 Conn.
222, 140 A.2d 863, 870 [1958] [quoting Grievance
Comm. v. Payne, 128 Conn. 325, 22 A.2d 623, 626
[1941]). Because lawyers perform almost every
function known in the commercial and governmental
realm, such a definition would obviously be too global
to be workable.(Wolfram, op. cit.).

MR. OPLE. Thank

... ( Emphasis
Section 1(1), Article IX-D of the 1987 Constitution,
provides, among others, that the Chairman and two
Commissioners of the Commission on Audit (COA)
should either be certified public accountants with not
less than ten years of auditing practice, or members of
the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in
the practice of law for at least ten years. (emphasis
Corollary to this is the term "private practitioner" and
which is in many ways synonymous with the word
"lawyer." Today, although many lawyers do not engage
in private practice, it is still a fact that the majority of
lawyers are private practitioners. (Gary
Munneke, Opportunities in Law Careers [VGM Career
Horizons: Illinois], [1986], p. 15).

The appearance of a lawyer in litigation in behalf of a

client is at once the most publicly familiar role for
lawyers as well as an uncommon role for the average
lawyer. Most lawyers spend little time in courtrooms,
and a large percentage spend their entire practice
without litigating a case. (Ibid., p. 593). Nonetheless,
many lawyers do continue to litigate and the litigating
lawyer's role colors much of both the public image and
the self perception of the legal profession. (Ibid.).

At this point, it might be helpful to define private

practice. The term, as commonly understood, means
"an individual or organization engaged in the business
of delivering legal services." (Ibid.). Lawyers who
practice alone are often called "sole practitioners."
Groups of lawyers are called "firms." The firm is
usually a partnership and members of the firm are the
partners. Some firms may be organized as professional
corporations and the members called shareholders. In
either case, the members of the firm are the
experienced attorneys. In most firms, there are younger

In this regard thus, the dominance of litigation in the

public mind reflects history, not reality. (Ibid.). Why is
this so? Recall that the late Alexander SyCip, a
corporate lawyer, once articulated on the importance of
a lawyer as a business counselor in this wise: "Even
today, there are still uninformed laymen whose
concept of an attorney is one who principally tries
cases before the courts. The members of the bench and
bar and the informed laymen such as businessmen,
know that in most developed societies today,
substantially more legal work is transacted in law

offices than in the courtrooms. General practitioners of

law who do both litigation and non-litigation work also
know that in most cases they find themselves spending
more time doing what [is] loosely desccribe[d] as
business counseling than in trying cases. The business
lawyer has been described as the planner, the
diagnostician and the trial lawyer, the surgeon. I[t]
need not [be] stress[ed] that in law, as in medicine,
surgery should be avoided where internal medicine can
be effective." (Business Star, "Corporate Finance
Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
In the course of a working day the average general
practitioner wig engage in a number of legal tasks,
each involving different legal doctrines, legal skills,
legal processes, legal institutions, clients, and other
interested parties. Even the increasing numbers of
lawyers in specialized practice wig usually perform at
least some legal services outside their specialty. And
even within a narrow specialty such as tax practice, a
lawyer will shift from one legal task or role such as
advice-giving to an importantly different one such as
representing a client before an administrative agency.
(Wolfram, supra, p. 687).
By no means will most of this work involve litigation,
unless the lawyer is one of the relatively rare types
a litigator who specializes in this work to the exclusion
of much else. Instead, the work will require the lawyer
to have mastered the full range of traditional lawyer
skills of client counselling, advice-giving, document
drafting, and negotiation. And increasingly lawyers
find that the new skills of evaluation and mediation are
both effective for many clients and a source of
employment. (Ibid.).
Most lawyers will engage in non-litigation legal work
or in litigation work that is constrained in very
important ways, at least theoretically, so as to remove
from it some of the salient features of adversarial

litigation. Of these special roles, the most prominent is

that of prosecutor. In some lawyers' work the
constraints are imposed both by the nature of the client
and by the way in which the lawyer is organized into a
social unit to perform that work. The most common of
these roles are those of corporate practice and
government legal service. (Ibid.).
In several issues of the Business Star, a business daily,
herein below quoted are emerging trends in corporate
law practice, a departure from the traditional concept
of practice of law.
We are experiencing today what
truly may be called a revolutionary
transformation in corporate law
practice. Lawyers and other
professional groups, in particular
those members participating in
various legal-policy decisional
contexts, are finding that
understanding the major emerging
trends in corporation law is
indispensable to intelligent decisionmaking.
Constructive adjustment to major
corporate problems of today requires
an accurate understanding of the
nature and implications of the
corporate law research function
accompanied by an accelerating rate
of information accumulation. The
recognition of the need for such
improved corporate legal policy
formulation, particularly "modelmaking" and "contingency
planning," has impressed upon us the
inadequacy of traditional procedures
in many decisional contexts.

In a complex legal problem the mass

of information to be processed, the
sorting and weighing of significant
conditional factors, the appraisal of
major trends, the necessity of
estimating the consequences of given
courses of action, and the need for
fast decision and response in
situations of acute danger have
prompted the use of sophisticated
concepts of information flow theory,
operational analysis, automatic data
processing, and electronic computing
equipment. Understandably, an
improved decisional structure must
stress the predictive component of
the policy-making process, wherein
a "model", of the decisional context
or a segment thereof is developed to
test projected alternative courses of
action in terms of futuristic effects
flowing therefrom.

approaches for handling such

problems. Lawyers, particularly with
either a master's or doctorate degree
in business administration or
management, functioning at the legal
policy level of decision-making now
have some appreciation for the
concepts and analytical techniques of
other professions which are currently
engaged in similar types of complex

Although members of the legal

profession are regularly engaged in
predicting and projecting the trends
of the law, the subject of corporate
finance law has received relatively
little organized and formalized
attention in the philosophy of
advancing corporate legal education.
Nonetheless, a cross-disciplinary
approach to legal research has
become a vital necessity.

In our litigation-prone country, a

corporate lawyer is assiduously
referred to as the "abogado de
campanilla." He is the "big-time"
lawyer, earning big money and with
a clientele composed of the tycoons
and magnates of business and

Certainly, the general orientation for

productive contributions by those
trained primarily in the law can be
improved through an early
introduction to multi-variable
decisional context and the various

Truth to tell, many situations

involving corporate finance
problems would require the services
of an astute attorney because of the
complex legal implications that arise
from each and every necessary step
in securing and maintaining the
business issue raised. (Business Star,
"Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11,
1989, p. 4).

Despite the growing number of

corporate lawyers, many people
could not explain what it is that a
corporate lawyer does. For one, the
number of attorneys employed by a
single corporation will vary with the
size and type of the corporation.
Many smaller and some large

corporations farm out all their legal

problems to private law firms. Many
others have in-house counsel only
for certain matters. Other
corporation have a staff large enough
to handle most legal problems inhouse.
A corporate lawyer, for all intents
and purposes, is a lawyer who
handles the legal affairs of a
corporation. His areas of concern or
jurisdiction may include, inter alia:
corporate legal research, tax laws
research, acting out as corporate
secretary (in board meetings),
appearances in both courts and other
adjudicatory agencies (including the
Securities and Exchange
Commission), and in other capacities
which require an ability to deal with
the law.
At any rate, a corporate lawyer may
assume responsibilities other than
the legal affairs of the business of
the corporation he is
representing. These include such
matters as determining policy and
becoming involved in management. (
Emphasis supplied.)
In a big company, for example, one
may have a feeling of being isolated
from the action, or not understanding
how one's work actually fits into the
work of the orgarnization. This can
be frustrating to someone who needs
to see the results of his work first
hand. In short, a corporate lawyer is

sometimes offered this fortune to be

more closely involved in the running
of the business.
Moreover, a corporate lawyer's
services may sometimes be engaged
by a multinational corporation
(MNC). Some large MNCs provide
one of the few opportunities
available to corporate lawyers to
enter the international law field.
After all, international law is
practiced in a relatively small
number of companies and law firms.
Because working in a foreign
country is perceived by many as
glamorous, tills is an area coveted by
corporate lawyers. In most cases,
however, the overseas jobs go to
experienced attorneys while the
younger attorneys do their
"international practice" in law
libraries. (Business Star, "Corporate
Law Practice," May 25,1990, p. 4).
This brings us to the inevitable, i.e.,
the role of the lawyer in the realm of
finance. To borrow the lines of
Harvard-educated lawyer Bruce
Wassertein, to wit: "A bad lawyer is
one who fails to spot problems, a
good lawyer is one who perceives
the difficulties, and the excellent
lawyer is one who surmounts them."
(Business Star, "Corporate Finance
Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
Today, the study of corporate law
practice direly needs a "shot in the
arm," so to speak. No longer are we

talking of the traditional law

teaching method of confining the
subject study to the Corporation
Code and the Securities Code but an
incursion as well into the
intertwining modern management
Such corporate legal management
issues deal primarily with three (3)
types of learning: (1) acquisition of
insights into current advances which
are of particular significance to the
corporate counsel; (2) an
introduction to usable disciplinary
skins applicable to a corporate
counsel's management
responsibilities; and (3) a devotion to
the organization and management of
the legal function itself.
These three subject areas may be
thought of as intersecting circles,
with a shared area linking them.
Otherwise known as "intersecting
managerial jurisprudence," it forms a
unifying theme for the corporate
counsel's total learning.
Some current advances in behavior
and policy sciences affect the
counsel's role. For that matter, the
corporate lawyer reviews the
globalization process, including the
resulting strategic repositioning that
the firms he provides counsel for are
required to make, and the need to
think about a corporation's; strategy
at multiple levels. The salience of the
nation-state is being reduced as firms

deal both with global multinational

entities and simultaneously with subnational governmental units. Firms
increasingly collaborate not only
with public entities but with each
other often with those who are
competitors in other arenas.
Also, the nature of the lawyer's
participation in decision-making
within the corporation is rapidly
changing. The modem corporate
lawyer has gained a new role as a
stakeholder in some cases
participating in the organization and
operations of governance through
participation on boards and other
decision-making roles. Often these
new patterns develop alongside
existing legal institutions and laws
are perceived as barriers. These
trends are complicated as
corporations organize for global
operations. ( Emphasis supplied)
The practising lawyer of today is
familiar as well with governmental
policies toward the promotion and
management of technology. New
collaborative arrangements for
promoting specific technologies or
competitiveness more generally
require approaches from industry
that differ from older, more
adversarial relationships and
traditional forms of seeking to
influence governmental policies. And
there are lessons to be learned from
other countries. In
Europe, Esprit, Eureka and Race are
examples of collaborative efforts

between governmental and business

Japan's MITI is world famous.
(Emphasis supplied)
Following the concept of boundary
spanning, the office of the Corporate
Counsel comprises a distinct group
within the managerial structure of all
kinds of organizations. Effectiveness
of both long-term and temporary
groups within organizations has been
found to be related to indentifiable
factors in the group-context
interaction such as the groups
actively revising their knowledge of
the environment coordinating work
with outsiders, promoting team
achievements within the
organization. In general, such
external activities are better
predictors of team performance than
internal group processes.
In a crisis situation, the legal
managerial capabilities of the
corporate lawyer vis-a-vis the
managerial mettle of corporations
are challenged. Current research is
seeking ways both to anticipate
effective managerial procedures and
to understand relationships of
financial liability and insurance
considerations. (Emphasis supplied)
Regarding the skills to apply by the
corporate counsel, three factors
are apropos:
First System Dynamics. The field of
systems dynamics has been found an

effective tool for new managerial

thinking regarding both planning and
pressing immediate problems. An
understanding of the role of
feedback loops, inventory levels, and
rates of flow, enable users to
simulate all sorts of systematic
problems physical, economic,
managerial, social, and
psychological. New programming
techniques now make the system
dynamics principles more accessible
to managers including corporate
counsels. (Emphasis supplied)
Second Decision Analysis. This
enables users to make better
decisions involving complexity and
uncertainty. In the context of a law
department, it can be used to
appraise the settlement value of
litigation, aid in negotiation
settlement, and minimize the cost
and risk involved in managing a
portfolio of cases. (Emphasis
Third Modeling for Negotiation
Management. Computer-based
models can be used directly by
parties and mediators in all lands of
negotiations. All integrated set of
such tools provide coherent and
effective negotiation support,
including hands-on on instruction in
these techniques. A simulation case
of an international joint venture may
be used to illustrate the point.

[Be this as it may,] the organization

and management of the legal
function, concern three pointed areas
of consideration, thus:
Preventive Lawyering. Planning by
lawyers requires special skills that
comprise a major part of the general
counsel's responsibilities. They differ
from those of remedial law.
Preventive lawyering is concerned
with minimizing the risks of legal
trouble and maximizing legal rights
for such legal entities at that time
when transactional or similar facts
are being considered and made.
Managerial Jurisprudence. This is
the framework within which are
undertaken those activities of the
firm to which legal consequences
attach. It needs to be directly
supportive of this nation's evolving
economic and organizational fabric
as firms change to stay competitive
in a global, interdependent
environment. The practice and
theory of "law" is not adequate today
to facilitate the relationships needed
in trying to make a global economy
Organization and Functioning of the
Corporate Counsel's Office. The
general counsel has emerged in the
last decade as one of the most
vibrant subsets of the legal
profession. The corporate counsel
hear responsibility for key aspects of
the firm's strategic issues, including

structuring its global operations,

managing improved relationships
with an increasingly diversified body
of employees, managing expanded
liability exposure, creating new and
varied interactions with public
decision-makers, coping internally
with more complex make or by
This whole exercise drives home the
thesis that knowing corporate law is
not enough to make one a good
general corporate counsel nor to give
him a full sense of how the legal
system shapes corporate activities.
And even if the corporate lawyer's
aim is not the understand all of the
law's effects on corporate activities,
he must, at the very least, also gain a
working knowledge of the
management issues if only to be able
to grasp not only the basic legal
"constitution' or makeup of the
modem corporation. "Business Star",
"The Corporate Counsel," April 10,
1991, p. 4).
The challenge for lawyers (both of
the bar and the bench) is to have
more than a passing knowledge of
financial law affecting each aspect of
their work. Yet, many would admit
to ignorance of vast tracts of the
financial law territory. What
transpires next is a dilemma of
professional security: Will the
lawyer admit ignorance and risk
opprobrium?; or will he feign
understanding and risk exposure?

(Business Star, "Corporate Finance

law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by
President Corazon C. Aquino to the position of
Chairman of the COMELEC in a letter received by the
Secretariat of the Commission on Appointments on
April 25, 1991. Petitioner opposed the nomination
because allegedly Monsod does not possess the
required qualification of having been engaged in the
practice of law for at least ten years.
On June 5, 1991, the Commission on Appointments
confirmed the nomination of Monsod as Chairman of
the COMELEC. On June 18, 1991, he took his oath of
office. On the same day, he assumed office as
Chairman of the COMELEC.
Challenging the validity of the confirmation by the
Commission on Appointments of Monsod's
nomination, petitioner as a citizen and taxpayer, filed
the instant petition for certiorari and Prohibition
praying that said confirmation and the consequent
appointment of Monsod as Chairman of the
Commission on Elections be declared null and void.
Atty. Christian Monsod is a member of the Philippine
Bar, having passed the bar examinations of 1960 with
a grade of 86-55%. He has been a dues paying member
of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines since its
inception in 1972-73. He has also been paying his
professional license fees as lawyer for more than ten
years. (p. 124, Rollo)
After graduating from the College of Law (U.P.) and
having hurdled the bar, Atty. Monsod worked in the
law office of his father. During his stint in the World
Bank Group (1963-1970), Monsod worked as an
operations officer for about two years in Costa Rica
and Panama, which involved getting acquainted with

the laws of member-countries negotiating loans and

coordinating legal, economic, and project work of the
Bank. Upon returning to the Philippines in 1970, he
worked with the Meralco Group, served as chief
executive officer of an investment bank and
subsequently of a business conglomerate, and since
1986, has rendered services to various companies as a
legal and economic consultant or chief executive
officer. As former Secretary-General (1986) and
National Chairman (1987) of NAMFREL. Monsod's
work involved being knowledgeable in election law.
He appeared for NAMFREL in its accreditation
hearings before the Comelec. In the field of advocacy,
Monsod, in his personal capacity and as former CoChairman of the Bishops Businessmen's Conference
for Human Development, has worked with the under
privileged sectors, such as the farmer and urban poor
groups, in initiating, lobbying for and engaging in
affirmative action for the agrarian reform law and
lately the urban land reform bill. Monsod also made
use of his legal knowledge as a member of the Davide
Commission, a quast judicial body, which conducted
numerous hearings (1990) and as a member of the
Constitutional Commission (1986-1987), and
Chairman of its Committee on Accountability of
Public Officers, for which he was cited by the
President of the Commission, Justice Cecilia MuozPalma for "innumerable amendments to reconcile
government functions with individual freedoms and
public accountability and the party-list system for the
House of Representative. (pp. 128-129 Rollo)
( Emphasis supplied)
Just a word about the work of a negotiating team of
which Atty. Monsod used to be a member.
In a loan agreement, for instance, a
negotiating panel acts as a team, and
which is adequately constituted to
meet the various contingencies that
arise during a negotiation. Besides

top officials of the Borrower

concerned, there are the legal officer
(such as the legal counsel), the
finance manager, and an operations
officer (such as an official involved
in negotiating the contracts) who
comprise the members of the team.
(Guillermo V. Soliven, "Loan
Negotiating Strategies for
Developing Country Borrowers,"
Staff Paper No. 2, Central Bank of
the Philippines, Manila, 1982, p. 11).
(Emphasis supplied)
After a fashion, the loan agreement
is like a country's Constitution; it
lays down the law as far as the loan
transaction is concerned. Thus, the
meat of any Loan Agreement can be
compartmentalized into five (5)
fundamental parts: (1) business
terms; (2) borrower's representation;
(3) conditions of closing; (4)
covenants; and (5) events of default.
(Ibid., p. 13).
In the same vein, lawyers play an
important role in any debt
restructuring program. For aside
from performing the tasks of
legislative drafting and legal
advising, they score national
development policies as key factors
in maintaining their countries'
sovereignty. (Condensed from the
work paper, entitled "Wanted:
Development Lawyers for
Developing Nations," submitted by
L. Michael Hager, regional legal
adviser of the United States Agency
for International Development,

during the Session on Law for the

Development of Nations at the
Abidjan World Conference in Ivory
Coast, sponsored by the World Peace
Through Law Center on August 2631, 1973). ( Emphasis supplied)
Loan concessions and compromises,
perhaps even more so than purely
renegotiation policies, demand
expertise in the law of contracts, in
legislation and agreement drafting
and in renegotiation. Necessarily, a
sovereign lawyer may work with an
international business specialist or an
economist in the formulation of a
model loan agreement. Debt
restructuring contract agreements
contain such a mixture of technical
language that they should be
carefully drafted and signed only
with the advise of competent counsel
in conjunction with the guidance of
adequate technical support
personnel. (See International Law
Aspects of the Philippine External
Debts, an unpublished dissertation,
U.S.T. Graduate School of Law,
1987, p. 321). ( Emphasis supplied)
A critical aspect of sovereign debt
restructuring/contract construction is
the set of terms and conditions which
determines the contractual remedies
for a failure to perform one or more
elements of the contract. A good
agreement must not only define the
responsibilities of both parties, but
must also state the recourse open to
either party when the other fails to
discharge an obligation. For a

compleat debt restructuring

represents a devotion to that
principle which in the ultimate
analysis issine qua non for foreign
loan agreements-an adherence to the
rule of law in domestic and
international affairs of whose kind
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver
Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said:
"They carry no banners, they beat no
drums; but where they are, men learn
that bustle and bush are not the equal
of quiet genius and serene mastery."
(See Ricardo J. Romulo, "The Role
of Lawyers in Foreign Investments,"
Integrated Bar of the Philippine
Journal, Vol. 15, Nos. 3 and 4, Third
and Fourth Quarters, 1977, p. 265).
Interpreted in the light of the various definitions of the
term Practice of law". particularly the modern concept
of law practice, and taking into consideration the
liberal construction intended by the framers of the
Constitution, Atty. Monsod's past work experiences as
a lawyer-economist, a lawyer-manager, a 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.
Besides in the leading case of Luego v. Civil Service
Commission, 143 SCRA 327, the Court said:
Appointment is an essentially
discretionary power and must be
performed by the officer in which it
is vested according to his best lights,
the only condition being that the
appointee should possess the

qualifications required by law. If he

does, then the appointment cannot be
faulted on the ground that there are
others better qualified who should
have been preferred. This is a
political question involving
considerations of wisdom which only
the appointing authority can decide.
(emphasis supplied)
No less emphatic was the Court in the case of (Central
Bank v. Civil Service Commission, 171 SCRA 744)
where it stated:
It is well-settled that when the
appointee is qualified, as in this case,
and all the other legal requirements
are satisfied, the Commission has no
alternative but to attest to the
appointment in accordance with the
Civil Service Law. The Commission
has no authority to revoke an
appointment on the ground that
another person is more qualified for
a particular position. It also has no
authority to direct the appointment
of a substitute of its choice. To do so
would be an encroachment on the
discretion vested upon the
appointing authority. An
appointment is essentially within the
discretionary power of whomsoever
it is vested, subject to the only
condition that the appointee should
possess the qualifications required
by law. ( Emphasis supplied)
The appointing process in a regular appointment as in
the case at bar, consists of four (4) stages: (1)
nomination; (2) confirmation by the Commission on

Appointments; (3) issuance of a commission (in the

Philippines, upon submission by the Commission on
Appointments of its certificate of confirmation, the
President issues the permanent appointment; and (4)
acceptance e.g., oath-taking, posting of bond, etc. . . .
(Lacson v. Romero, No. L-3081, October 14, 1949;
Gonzales, Law on Public Officers, p. 200)
The power of the Commission on Appointments to
give its consent to the nomination of Monsod as
Chairman of the Commission on Elections is mandated
by Section 1(2) Sub-Article C, Article IX of the
Constitution which provides:
The Chairman and the
Commisioners shall be appointed by
the President with the consent of the
Commission on Appointments for a
term of seven years without
reappointment. Of those first
appointed, three Members shall hold
office for seven years, two Members
for five years, and the last Members
for three years, without
reappointment. Appointment to any
vacancy shall be only for the
unexpired term of the predecessor. In
no case shall any Member be
appointed or designated in a
temporary or acting capacity.
Anent Justice Teodoro Padilla's
separate opinion, suffice it to say
that his definition of the practice of
law is the traditional or stereotyped
notion of law practice, as
distinguished from the modern
concept of the practice of law, which
modern connotation is exactly what
was intended by the eminent framers

of the 1987 Constitution. Moreover,

Justice Padilla's definition would
require generally a habitual law
practice, perhaps practised two or
three times a week and would
outlaw say, law practice once or
twice a year for ten consecutive
years. Clearly, this is far from the
constitutional intent.
Upon the other hand, the separate opinion of Justice
Isagani Cruz states that in my written opinion, I made
use of a definition of law practice which really means
nothing because the definition says that law practice " .
. . is what people ordinarily mean by the practice of
law." True I cited the definition but only by way of
sarcasm as evident from my statement that the
definition of law practice by "traditional areas of law
practice is essentially tautologous" or defining a
phrase by means of the phrase itself that is being
Justice Cruz goes on to say in substance that since the
law covers almost all situations, most individuals, in
making use of the law, or in advising others on what
the law means, are actually practicing law. In that
sense, perhaps, but we should not lose sight of the fact
that Mr. Monsod is a lawyer, a member of the
Philippine Bar, who has been practising law for over
ten years. This is different from the acts of persons
practising law, without first becoming lawyers.
Justice Cruz also says that the Supreme Court can even
disqualify an elected President of the Philippines, say,
on the ground that he lacks one or more qualifications.
This matter, I greatly doubt. For one thing, how can an
action or petition be brought against the President?
And even assuming that he is indeed disqualified, how
can the action be entertained since he is the incumbent

We now proceed:

Court would still reverse the U.S.


The Commission on the basis of evidence submitted

doling the public hearings on Monsod's confirmation,
implicitly determined that he possessed the necessary
qualifications as required by law. The judgment
rendered by the Commission in the exercise of such an
acknowledged power is beyond judicial interference
except only upon a clear showing of a grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
(Art. VIII, Sec. 1 Constitution). Thus, only where such
grave abuse of discretion is clearly shown shall the
Court interfere with the Commission's judgment. In the
instant case, there is no occasion for the exercise of the
Court's corrective power, since no abuse, much less a
grave abuse of discretion, that would amount to lack or
excess of jurisdiction and would warrant the issuance
of the writs prayed, for has been clearly shown.
Additionally, consider the following:
(1) If the Commission on
Appointments rejects a nominee by
the President, may the Supreme
Court reverse the Commission, and
thus in effect confirm the
appointment? Clearly, the answer is
in the negative.
(2) In the same vein, may the
Court reject the nominee, whom the
Commission has confirmed? The
answer is likewise clear.
(3) If the United States Senate
(which is the confirming body in the
U.S. Congress) decides to confirma
Presidential nominee, it would be
incredible that the U.S. Supreme

Finally, one significant legal maxim is:

We must interpret not by the letter
that killeth, but by the spirit that
giveth life.
Take this hypothetical case of Samson and Delilah.
Once, the procurator of Judea asked Delilah (who was
Samson's beloved) for help in capturing Samson.
Delilah agreed on condition that
No blade shall touch his skin;
No blood shall flow from his veins.
When Samson (his long hair cut by Delilah) was
captured, the procurator placed an iron rod burning
white-hot two or three inches away from in front of
Samson's eyes. This blinded the man. Upon hearing of
what had happened to her beloved, Delilah was beside
herself with anger, and fuming with righteous fury,
accused the procurator of reneging on his word. The
procurator calmly replied: "Did any blade touch his
skin? Did any blood flow from his veins?" The
procurator was clearly relying on the letter, not the
spirit of the agreement.
In view of the foregoing, this petition is hereby

Republic of the Philippines


8:30 am 6:00 pm 7-Flr. Victoria

Bldg., UN Ave., Mla.
Annex B

Bar Matter No. 553 June 17, 1993
MAURICIO C. ULEP, petitioner,
THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC., respondent.

an Attorney in Guam, is giving

FREE BOOKS on Guam Divorce
through The Legal Clinic beginning
Monday to Friday during office


Petitioner prays this Court "to order the respondent to
cease and desist from issuing advertisements similar to
or of the same tenor as that of annexes "A" and "B" (of
said petition) and to perpetually prohibit persons or
entities from making advertisements pertaining to the
exercise of the law profession other than those allowed
by law."
The advertisements complained of by herein petitioner
are as follows:
Annex A
P560.00 for a valid marriage.
THE Please call: 521-0767 LEGAL
5217232, 5222041 CLINIC, INC.

Guam divorce. Annulment of

Marriage. Immigration Problems,
Visa Ext. Quota/Non-quota Res. &
Special Retiree's Visa. Declaration of
Absence. Remarriage to Filipina
Fiancees. Adoption. Investment in
the Phil. US/Foreign Visa for
Filipina Spouse/Children. Call
THE 7F Victoria Bldg. 429 UN Ave.,
LEGAL Ermita, Manila nr. US
Embassy CLINIC, INC. 1 Tel. 5217232; 521-7251; 522-2041; 5210767
It is the submission of petitioner that the
advertisements above reproduced are champterous,
unethical, demeaning of the law profession, and
destructive of the confidence of the community in the
integrity of the members of the bar and that, as a
member of the legal profession, he is ashamed and
offended by the said advertisements, hence the reliefs
sought in his petition as hereinbefore quoted.

In its answer to the petition, respondent admits the fact

of publication of said advertisement at its instance, but
claims that it is not engaged in the practice of law but
in the rendering of "legal support services" through
paralegals with the use of modern computers and
electronic machines. Respondent further argues that
assuming that the services advertised are legal
services, the act of advertising these services should be
allowed supposedly
in the light of the case of John R. Bates and Van
O'Steen vs. State Bar of Arizona, 2 reportedly decided
by the United States Supreme Court on June 7, 1977.
Considering the critical implications on the legal
profession of the issues raised herein, we required the
(1) Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), (2)
Philippine Bar Association (PBA), (3) Philippine
Lawyers' Association (PLA), (4) U.P. Womens
Lawyers' Circle (WILOCI), (5) Women Lawyers
Association of the Philippines (WLAP), and (6)
Federacion International de Abogadas (FIDA) to
submit their respective position papers on the
controversy and, thereafter, their memoranda. 3 The
said bar associations readily responded and extended
their valuable services and cooperation of which this
Court takes note with appreciation and gratitude.
The main issues posed for resolution before the Court
are whether or not the services offered by respondent,
The Legal Clinic, Inc., as advertised by it constitutes
practice of law and, in either case, whether the same
can properly be the subject of the advertisements
herein complained of.
Before proceeding with an in-depth analysis of the
merits of this case, we deem it proper and enlightening
to present hereunder excerpts from the respective
position papers adopted by the aforementioned bar
associations and the memoranda submitted by them on
the issues involved in this bar matter.

1. Integrated Bar of the Philippines:

xxx xxx xxx
Notwithstanding the subtle manner
by which respondent endeavored to
distinguish the two terms,i.e., "legal
support services" vis-a-vis "legal
services", common sense would
readily dictate that the same are
essentially without substantial
distinction. For who could deny that
document search, evidence
gathering, assistance to layman in
need of basic institutional services
from government or non-government
agencies like birth, marriage,
property, or business registration,
obtaining documents like clearance,
passports, local or foreign visas,
constitutes practice of law?
xxx xxx xxx
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) does not wish to make issue
with respondent's foreign citations.
Suffice it to state that the IBP has
made its position manifest, to wit,
that it strongly opposes the view
espoused by respondent (to the effect
that today it is alright to advertise
one's legal services).
The IBP accordingly declares in no
uncertain terms its opposition to
respondent's act of establishing a
"legal clinic" and of concomitantly
advertising the same through
newspaper publications.

The IBP would therefore invoke the

administrative supervision of this
Honorable Court to perpetually
restrain respondent from undertaking
highly unethical activities in the field
of law practice as aforedescribed. 4
xxx xxx xxx
A. The use of the name "The Legal
Clinic, Inc." gives the impression
that respondent corporation is being
operated by lawyers and that it
renders legal services.
While the respondent repeatedly
denies that it offers legal services to
the public, the advertisements in
question give the impression that
respondent is offering legal services.
The Petition in fact simply assumes
this to be so, as earlier mentioned,
apparently because this (is) the effect
that the advertisements have on the
reading public.
The impression created by the
advertisements in question can be
traced, first of all, to the very name
being used by respondent "The
Legal Clinic, Inc." Such a name, it is
respectfully submitted connotes the
rendering of legal services for legal
problems, just like a medical clinic
connotes medical services for
medical problems. More importantly,
the term "Legal Clinic" connotes
lawyers, as the term medical clinic
connotes doctors.

Furthermore, the respondent's name,

as published in the advertisements
subject of the present case, appears
with (the) scale(s) of justice, which
all the more reinforces the
impression that it is being operated
by members of the bar and that it
offers legal services. In addition, the
advertisements in question appear
with a picture and name of a person
being represented as a lawyer from
Guam, and this practically removes
whatever doubt may still remain as
to the nature of the service or
services being offered.
It thus becomes irrelevant whether
respondent is merely offering "legal
support services" as claimed by it, or
whether it offers legal services as
any lawyer actively engaged in law
practice does. And it becomes
unnecessary to make a distinction
between "legal services" and "legal
support services," as the respondent
would have it. The advertisements in
question leave no room for doubt in
the minds of the reading public that
legal services are being offered by
lawyers, whether true or not.
B. The advertisements in question
are meant to induce the performance
of acts contrary to law, morals,
public order and public policy.
It may be conceded that, as the
respondent claims, the
advertisements in question are only
meant to inform the general public of

the services being offered by it. Said

advertisements, however, emphasize
to Guam divorce, and any law
student ought to know that under the
Family Code, there is only one
instance when a foreign divorce is
recognized, and that is:
Article 26. . . .
Where a marriage
between a Filipino
citizen and a
foreigner is validly
celebrated and a
divorce is
thereafter validly
obtained abroad
by the alien spouse
capacitating him
or her to remarry,
the Filipino spouse
shall have capacity
to remarry under
Philippine Law.
It must not be forgotten, too, that the
Family Code (defines) a marriage as
Article 1. Marriage
is special contract
of permanent
union between a
man and woman
entered into
accordance with
law for the
establishment of
conjugal and

family life. It is
the foundation of
the family and an
inviolable social
institution whose
consequences, and
incidents are
governed by law
and not subject to
stipulation, except
that marriage
settlements may
fix the property
relation during the
marriage within
the limits provided
by this Code.
By simply reading the questioned
advertisements, it is obvious that the
message being conveyed is that
Filipinos can avoid the legal
consequences of a marriage
celebrated in accordance with our
law, by simply going to Guam for a
divorce. This is not only misleading,
but encourages, or serves to induce,
violation of Philippine law. At the
very least, this can be considered
"the dark side" of legal practice,
where certain defects in Philippine
laws are exploited for the sake of
profit. At worst, this is outright
Rule 1.02. A
lawyer shall not
counsel or abet
activities aimed at
defiance of the law

or at lessening
confidence in the
legal system.
In addition, it may also be relevant to
point out that advertisements such as
that shown in Annex "A" of the
Petition, which contains a cartoon of
a motor vehicle with the words "Just
Married" on its bumper and seems to
address those planning a "secret
marriage," if not suggesting a "secret
marriage," makes light of the
"special contract of permanent
union," the inviolable social
institution," which is how the Family
Code describes marriage, obviously
to emphasize its sanctity and
inviolability. Worse, this particular
advertisement appears to encourage
marriages celebrated in secrecy,
which is suggestive of immoral
publication of applications for a
marriage license.
If the article "Rx for Legal
Problems" is to be reviewed, it can
readily be concluded that the above
impressions one may gather from the
advertisements in question are
accurate. The Sharon Cuneta-Gabby
Concepcion example alone confirms
what the advertisements suggest.
Here it can be seen that criminal acts
are being encouraged or committed
(a bigamous marriage in Hong Kong
or Las Vegas) with impunity simply
because the jurisdiction of Philippine
courts does not extend to the place
where the crime is committed.

Even if it be assumed, arguendo,

(that) the "legal support services"
respondent offers do not constitute
legal services as commonly
understood, the advertisements in
question give the impression that
respondent corporation is being
operated by lawyers and that it offers
legal services, as earlier discussed.
Thus, the only logical consequence
is that, in the eyes of an ordinary
newspaper reader, members of the
bar themselves are encouraging or
inducing the performance of acts
which are contrary to law, morals,
good customs and the public good,
thereby destroying and demeaning
the integrity of the Bar.
xxx xxx xxx
It is respectfully submitted that
respondent should be enjoined from
causing the publication of the
advertisements in question, or any
other advertisements similar thereto.
It is also submitted that respondent
should be prohibited from further
performing or offering some of the
services it presently offers, or, at the
very least, from offering such
services to the public in general.
The IBP is aware of the fact that
providing computerized legal
research, electronic data gathering,
storage and retrieval, standardized
legal forms, investigators for
gathering of evidence, and like
services will greatly benefit the legal

profession and should not be stifled

but instead encouraged. However,
when the conduct of such business
by non-members of the Bar
encroaches upon the practice of law,
there can be no choice but to prohibit
such business.
Admittedly, many of the services
involved in the case at bar can be
better performed by specialists in
other fields, such as computer
experts, who by reason of their
having devoted time and effort
exclusively to such field cannot
fulfill the exacting requirements for
admission to the Bar. To prohibit
them from "encroaching" upon the
legal profession will deny the
profession of the great benefits and
advantages of modern technology.
Indeed, a lawyer using a computer
will be doing better than a lawyer
using a typewriter, even if both are
(equal) in skill.
Both the Bench and the Bar,
however, should be careful not to
allow or tolerate the illegal practice
of law in any form, not only for the
protection of members of the Bar but
also, and more importantly, for the
protection of the public.
Technological development in the
profession may be encouraged
without tolerating, but instead
ensuring prevention of illegal

There might be nothing

objectionable if respondent is
allowed to perform all of its services,
but only if such services are made
available exclusively to members of
the Bench and Bar. Respondent
would then be offering technical
assistance, not legal services.
Alternatively, the more difficult task
of carefully distinguishing between
which service may be offered to the
public in general and which should
be made available exclusively to
members of the Bar may be
undertaken. This, however, may
require further proceedings because
of the factual considerations
It must be emphasized, however, that
some of respondent's services ought
to be prohibited outright, such as
acts which tend to suggest or induce
celebration abroad of marriages
which are bigamous or otherwise
illegal and void under Philippine
law. While respondent may not be
prohibited from simply
disseminating information regarding
such matters, it must be required to
include, in the information given, a
disclaimer that it is not authorized to
practice law, that certain course of
action may be illegal under
Philippine law, that it is not
authorized or capable of rendering a
legal opinion, that a lawyer should
be consulted before deciding on
which course of action to take, and
that it cannot recommend any
particular lawyer without subjecting

itself to possible sanctions for illegal

practice of law.
If respondent is allowed to advertise,
advertising should be directed
exclusively at members of the Bar,
with a clear and unmistakable
disclaimer that it is not authorized to
practice law or perform legal
The benefits of being assisted by
paralegals cannot be ignored. But
nobody should be allowed to
represent himself as a "paralegal" for
profit, without such term being
clearly defined by rule or regulation,
and without any adequate and
effective means of regulating his
activities. Also, law practice in a
corporate form may prove to be
advantageous to the legal profession,
but before allowance of such
practice may be considered, the
corporation's Article of Incorporation
and By-laws must conform to each
and every provision of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and the
Rules of Court. 5
2. Philippine Bar Association:
xxx xxx xxx.
Respondent asserts that it "is not
engaged in the practice of law but
engaged in giving legal support
services to lawyers and laymen,
through experienced paralegals, with
the use of modern computers and

electronic machines" (pars. 2 and 3,

Comment). This is absurd.
Unquestionably, respondent's acts of
holding out itself to the public under
the trade name "The Legal Clinic,
Inc.," and soliciting employment for
its enumerated services fall within
the realm of a practice which thus
yields itself to the regulatory powers
of the Supreme Court. For
respondent to say that it is merely
engaged in paralegal work is to
stretch credulity. Respondent's own
commercial advertisement which
announces a certain Atty. Don
Parkinson to be handling the fields
of law belies its pretense. From all
indications, respondent "The Legal
Clinic, Inc." is offering and
rendering legal services through its
reserve of lawyers. It has been held
that the practice of law is not limited
to the conduct of cases in court, but
includes drawing of deeds,
incorporation, rendering
opinions, and advising clients as to
their legal right and then take them
to an attorney and ask the latter to
look after their case in court See
Martin, Legal and Judicial Ethics,
1984 ed., p. 39).

of its legal services. It is an odious

vehicle for deception, especially so
when the public cannot ventilate any
grievance for malpractice against the
business conduit. Precisely, the
limitation of practice of law to
persons who have been duly
admitted as members of the Bar
(Sec. 1, Rule 138, Revised Rules of
Court) is to subject the members to
the discipline of the Supreme Court.
Although respondent uses
its business name, the persons and
the lawyers who act for it are subject
to court discipline. The practice of
law is not a profession open to all
who wish to engage in it nor can it
be assigned to another (See 5 Am.
Jur. 270). It is a personal
right limited to persons who have
qualified themselves under the law.
It follows that not only respondent
but also all the persons who are
acting for respondent are the persons
engaged in unethical law practice. 6

It is apt to recall that only natural

persons can engage in the practice of
law, and such limitation cannot be
evaded by a corporation employing
competent lawyers to practice for it.
Obviously, this is the scheme or
device by which respondent "The
Legal Clinic, Inc." holds out itself to
the public and solicits employment

1. The Legal Clinic is engaged in the

practice of law;

3. Philippine Lawyers' Association:

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

2. Such practice is unauthorized;

3. The advertisements complained of
are not only unethical, but also

misleading and patently immoral;

4. The Honorable Supreme Court has
the power to supress and punish the
Legal Clinic and its corporate
officers for its unauthorized practice
of law and for its unethical,
misleading and immoral advertising.
xxx xxx xxx
Respondent posits that is it not
engaged in the practice of law. It
claims that it merely renders "legal
support services" to answers,
litigants and the general public as
enunciated in the Primary Purpose
Clause of its Article(s) of
Incorporation. (See pages 2 to 5 of
Respondent's Comment). But its
advertised services, as enumerated
above, clearly and convincingly
show that it is indeed engaged in law
practice, albeit outside of court.
As advertised, it offers the general
public its advisory services on
Persons and Family Relations Law,
particularly regarding foreign
divorces, annulment of marriages,
secret marriages, absence and
adoption; Immigration Laws,
particularly on visa related problems,
immigration problems; the
Investments Law of the Philippines
and such other related laws.
Its advertised services unmistakably
require the application of the

aforesaid law, the legal principles

and procedures related thereto, the
legal advices based thereon and
which activities call for legal
training, knowledge and experience.
Applying the test laid down by the
Court in the aforecited Agrava Case,
the activities of respondent fall
squarely and are embraced in what
lawyers and laymen equally term as
"the practice of law." 7
4. U.P. Women Lawyers' Circle:
In resolving, the issues before this
Honorable Court, paramount
consideration should be given to the
protection of the general public from
the danger of being exploited by
unqualified persons or entities who
may be engaged in the practice of
At present, becoming a lawyer
requires one to take a rigorous fouryear course of study on top of a fouryear bachelor of arts or sciences
course and then to take and pass the
bar examinations. Only then, is a
lawyer qualified to practice law.
While the use of a paralegal is
sanctioned in many jurisdiction as an
aid to the administration of justice,
there are in those jurisdictions,
courses of study and/or standards
which would qualify these paralegals
to deal with the general public as
such. While it may now be the

opportune time to establish these

courses of study and/or standards,
the fact remains that at present, these
do not exist in the Philippines. In the
meantime, this Honorable Court may
decide to make measures to protect
the general public from being
exploited by those who may be
dealing with the general public in the
guise of being "paralegals" without
being qualified to do so.
In the same manner, the general
public should also be protected from
the dangers which may be brought
about by advertising of legal
services. While it appears that
lawyers are prohibited under the
present Code of Professional
Responsibility from advertising, it
appears in the instant case that legal
services are being advertised not by
lawyers but by an entity staffed by
"paralegals." Clearly, measures
should be taken to protect the
general public from falling prey to
those who advertise legal services
without being qualified to offer such
services. 8
A perusal of the questioned
advertisements of Respondent,
however, seems to give the
impression that information
regarding validity of marriages,
divorce, annulment of marriage,
immigration, visa extensions,
declaration of absence, adoption and
foreign investment, which are in
essence, legal matters , will be given
to them if they avail of its services.

The Respondent's name The

Legal Clinic, Inc. does not help
matters. It gives the impression again
that Respondent will or can cure the
legal problems brought to them.
Assuming that Respondent is, as
claimed, staffed purely by
paralegals, it also gives the
misleading impression that there are
lawyers involved in The Legal
Clinic, Inc., as there are doctors in
any medical clinic, when only
"paralegals" are involved in The
Legal Clinic, Inc.
Respondent's allegations are further
belied by the very admissions of its
President and majority stockholder,
Atty. Nogales, who gave an insight
on the structure and main purpose of
Respondent corporation in the
aforementioned "Starweek" article." 9
5. Women Lawyer's Association of
the Philippines:

marriage which is not only illegal

but immoral in this country. While it
is advertised that one has to go to
said agency and pay P560 for a valid
marriage it is certainly fooling the
public for valid marriages in the
Philippines are solemnized only by
officers authorized to do so under the
law. And to employ an agency for
said purpose of contracting marriage
is not necessary.
No amount of reasoning that in the
USA, Canada and other countries the
trend is towards allowing lawyers to
advertise their special skills to
enable people to obtain from
qualified practitioners legal services
for their particular needs can justify
the use of advertisements such as are
the subject matter of the petition, for
one (cannot) justify an illegal act
even by whatever merit the illegal
act may serve. The law has yet to be
amended so that such act could
become justifiable.

Annexes "A" and "B" of the petition

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

We submit further that these

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

Annex "A" of the petition is not only

illegal in that it is an advertisement
to solicit cases, but it is illegal in that
in bold letters it announces that the
Legal Clinic, Inc., could work
out/cause the celebration of a secret

It would encourage people to consult

this clinic about how they could go
about having a secret marriage here,
when it cannot nor should ever be
attempted, and seek advice on
divorce, where in this country there

is none, except under the Code of

Muslim Personal Laws in the
Philippines. It is also against good
morals and is deceitful because it
falsely represents to the public to be
able to do that which by our laws
cannot be done (and) by our Code of
Morals should not be done.
In the case (of) In re Taguda, 53 Phil.
37, the Supreme Court held that
solicitation for clients by an attorney
by circulars of advertisements, is
unprofessional, and offenses of this
character justify permanent
elimination from the Bar. 10
6. Federacion Internacional de
xxx xxx xxx
1.7 That entities admittedly not
engaged in the practice of law, such
as management consultancy firms or
travel agencies, whether run by
lawyers or not, perform the services
rendered by Respondent does not
necessarily lead to the conclusion
that Respondent is not unlawfully
practicing law. In the same vein,
however, the fact that the business of
respondent (assuming it can be
engaged in independently of the
practice of law) involves knowledge
of the law does not necessarily make
respondent guilty of unlawful
practice of law.

. . . . Of necessity,
no one . . . . acting
as a consultant can
render effective
service unless he is
familiar with such
statutes and
regulations. He
must be careful not
to suggest a course
of conduct which
the law forbids. It
seems . . . .clear
that (the
knowledge of the
law, and his use of
that knowledge as
a factor in
determining what
measures he shall
recommend, do not
constitute the
practice of
law . . . . It is not
only presumed that
all men know the
law, but it is a fact
that most men
have considerable
acquaintance with
broad features of
the law . . . . Our
knowledge of the
law accurate or
moulds our
conduct not only
when we are acting
for ourselves, but
when we are

serving others.
Bankers, liquor
dealers and laymen
generally possess
rather precise
knowledge of the
laws touching their
particular business
or profession. A
good example is
the architect, who
must be familiar
with zoning,
building and fire
prevention codes,
factory and
tenement house
statutes, and who
draws plans and
specification in
harmony with the
law. This is not
practicing law.
But suppose the
architect, asked by
his client to omit a
fire tower, replies
that it is required
by the statute. Or
the industrial
relations expert
cites, in support of
some measure that
he recommends, a
decision of the
National Labor
Relations Board.
Are they practicing
law? In my
opinion, they are

not, provided no
separate fee is
charged for the
legal advice or
information, and
the legal question
is subordinate and
incidental to a
major non-legal
It is largely a
matter of degree
and of custom.
If it were usual for
one intending to
erect a building on
his land to engage
a lawyer to advise
him and the
architect in respect
to the building
code and the like,
then an architect
who performed
this function
would probably be
considered to be
trespassing on
territory reserved
for licensed
Likewise, if the
industrial relations
field had been preempted by
lawyers, or custom
placed a lawyer
always at the
elbow of the lay

personnel man.
But this is not the
case. The most
important body of
the industrial
relations experts
are the officers and
business agents of
the labor unions
and few of them
are lawyers.
Among the larger
employers, it has
been the practice
for some years to
delegate special
responsibility in
employee matters
to a management
group chosen for
their practical
knowledge and
skill in such
matter, and
without regard to
legal thinking or
lack of it. More
consultants like the
defendants have
the same service
that the larger
employers get
from their own
specialized staff.
The handling of
industrial relations
is growing into a

profession for
which appropriate
courses are offered
by our leading
universities. The
court should be
very cautious
about declaring
[that] a
widespread, wellestablished method
of conducting
business is
unlawful, or that
the considerable
class of men who
perform a certain
function have no
right to do so, or
that the technical
education given by
our schools cannot
be used by the
graduates in their
In determining
whether a man is
practicing law, we
should consider
his work for any
particular client
or customer, as a
whole. I can
imagine defendant
being engaged
primarily to advise
as to the law
defining his
client's obligations

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

performed services
which are
reserved to
members of the
bar, he would be
practicing law. For
instance, if as part
of a welfare
program, he drew
employees' wills.
Another branch of
defendant's work is
the representations
of the employer in
the adjustment of
grievances and in
bargaining, with or
without a mediator.
This is not per se
the practice of law.
Anyone may use
an agent for
negotiations and
may select an
agent particularly
skilled in the
subject under
discussion, and the
person appointed
is free to accept
the employment
whether or not he
is a member of the
bar. Here,
however, there
may be an
exception where
the business turns

on a question of
law. Most real
estate sales are
negotiated by
brokers who are
not lawyers. But if
the value of the
land depends on a
disputed right-ofway and the
principal role of
the negotiator is to
assess the probable
outcome of the
dispute and
persuade the
opposite party to
the same opinion,
then it may be that
only a lawyer can
accept the
assignment. Or if a
between an
employer and his
men grows from
interpretations of a
contract, or of a
statute, it is quite
likely that
defendant should
not handle it. But I
need not reach a
definite conclusion
here, since the
situation is not
presented by the

Defendant also
appears to
represent the
employer before
agencies of the
especially before
trial examiners of
the National Labor
Relations Board.
An agency of the
government, acting
by virtue of an
authority granted
by the Congress,
may regulate the
representation of
parties before such
agency. The State
of New Jersey is
without power to
interfere with such
determination or to
before the agency
by one whom the
agency admits.
The rules of the
National Labor
Relations Board
give to a party the
right to appear in
person, or by
counsel, or by
Rules and

September 11th,
1946, S. 203.31.
'Counsel' here
means a licensed
attorney, and ther
representative' one
not a lawyer. In
this phase of his
work, defendant
may lawfully do
whatever the
Labor Board
allows, even
arguing questions
purely legal.
(Auerbacher v.
Wood, 53 A. 2d
800, cited in
Introduction to
[1974], at pp. 154156.).
1.8 From the foregoing, it can be
said that a person engaged in a
lawful calling (which may involve
knowledge of the law) is not
engaged in the practice of law
provided that:
(a) The legal question is subordinate
and incidental to a major non-legal
(b) The services performed are not
customarily reserved to members of
the bar; .

(c) No separate fee is charged for the

legal advice or information.
All these must be considered in
relation to the work for any
particular client as a whole.
1.9. If the person involved is both
lawyer and non-lawyer, the Code of
Professional Responsibility succintly
states the rule of conduct:
Rule 15.08 A lawyer who is
engaged in another profession or
occupation concurrently with the
practice of law shall make clear to
his client whether he is acting as a
lawyer or in another capacity.
1.10. In the present case. the Legal
Clinic appears to render wedding
services (See Annex "A" Petition).
Services on routine, straightforward
marriages, like securing a marriage
license, and making arrangements
with a priest or a judge, may not
constitute practice of law. However,
if the problem is as complicated as
that described in "Rx for Legal
Problems" on the Sharon CunetaGabby Concepcion-Richard Gomez
case, then what may be involved is
actually the practice of law. If a nonlawyer, such as the Legal Clinic,
renders such services then it is
engaged in the unauthorized practice
of law.
1.11. The Legal Clinic also appears
to give information on divorce,

absence, annulment of marriage and

visas (See Annexes "A" and "B"
Petition). Purely giving
informational materials may not
constitute of law. The business is
similar to that of a bookstore where
the customer buys materials on the
subject and determines on the
subject and determines by himself
what courses of action to take.
It is not entirely improbable,
however, that aside from purely
giving information, the Legal
Clinic's paralegals may apply the law
to the particular problem of the
client, and give legal advice. Such
would constitute unauthorized
practice of law.
It cannot be
claimed that the
publication of a
legal text which
publication of a
legal text which
purports to say
what the law is
amount to legal
practice. And the
mere fact that the
principles or rules
stated in the text
may be accepted
by a particular
reader as a solution
to his problem
does not affect
this. . . . .
Apparently it is
urged that the

conjoining of these
two, that is, the
text and the forms,
with advice as to
how the forms
should be filled
out, constitutes the
unlawful practice
of law. But that is
the situation with
many approved
and accepted texts.
Dacey's book is
sold to the public
at large. There is
no personal
contact or
relationship with a
individual. Nor
does there exist
that relation of
confidence and
trust so necessary
to the status of
attorney and
client. THIS IS
most the book
assumes to offer
general advice on

common problems,
and does not
purport to give
personal advice on
a specific problem
peculiar to a
designated or
readily identified
person. Similarly
the defendant's
publication does
not purport to give
personal advice on
a specific problem
peculiar to a
designated or
readily identified
person in a
particular situation
in their
publication and
sale of the kits,
such publication
and sale did not
constitutes the
unlawful practice
of law . . . . There
being no legal
impediment under
the statute to the
sale of the kit,
there was no
proper basis for the
injunction against
maintaining an
office for the
purpose of selling
to persons seeking
a divorce,

annulment or
agreement any
printed material or
writings relating to
matrimonial law or
the prohibition in
the memorandum
of modification of
the judgment
against defendant
having an interest
in any publishing
house publishing
his manuscript on
divorce and
against his having
any personal
contact with any
purchaser. The
record does fully
support, however,
the finding that for
the change of $75
or $100 for the kit,
the defendant gave
legal advice in the
course of personal
problems which
might arise in the
preparation and
presentation of the
matrimonial cause
of action or pursuit
of other legal

remedies and
assistance in the
preparation of
documents (The
therefore sought
to) enjoin conduct
constituting the
practice of law,
particularly with
reference to the
giving of advice
and counsel by the
defendant relating
to specific
problems of
individuals in
connection with a
annulment of
agreement sought
and should be
affirmed. (State v.
Winder, 348, NYS
2D 270 [1973],
cited in
Statsky, supra at p.
1.12. Respondent, of course, states
that its services are "strictly nondiagnostic, non-advisory. "It is not
controverted, however, that if the
services "involve giving legal advice
or counselling," such would
constitute practice of law (Comment,
par. 6.2). It is in this light that FIDA

submits that a factual inquiry may be

necessary for the judicious
disposition of this case.

characteristic of the profession. Generally, to practice

law is to give advice or render any kind of service that
involves legal knowledge or skill. 12

xxx xxx xxx

The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of

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

2.10. Annex "A" may be ethically

objectionable in that it can give the
impression (or perpetuate the wrong
notion) that there is a secret
marriage. With all the solemnities,
formalities and other requisites of
marriages (See Articles 2, et seq.,
Family Code), no Philippine
marriage can be secret.
2.11. Annex "B" may likewise be
ethically objectionable. The second
paragraph thereof (which is not
necessarily related to the first
paragraph) fails to state the
limitation that only "paralegal
services?" or "legal support
services", and not legal services, are
available." 11
A prefatory discussion on the meaning of the phrase
"practice of law" becomes exigent for the proper
determination of the issues raised by the petition at bar.
On this score, we note that the clause "practice of law"
has long been the subject of judicial construction and
interpretation. The courts have laid down general
principles and doctrines explaining the meaning and
scope of the term, some of which we now take into
Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court,
which requires the application of law, legal procedures,
knowledge, training and experience. To engage in the
practice of law is to perform those acts which are

In the practice of his profession, a licensed attorney at

law generally engages in three principal types of
professional activity: legal advice and instructions to
clients to inform them of their rights and obligations,
preparation for clients of documents requiring
knowledge of legal principles not possessed by
ordinary layman, and appearance for clients before
public tribunals which possess power and authority to
determine rights of life, liberty, and property according
to law, in order to assist in proper interpretation and
enforcement of law. 14
When a person participates in the a trial and advertises
himself as a lawyer, he is in the practice of law. 15 One
who confers with clients, advises them as to their legal
rights and then takes the business to an attorney and
asks the latter to look after the case in court, is also
practicing law. 16 Giving advice for compensation
regarding the legal status and rights of another and the
conduct with respect thereto constitutes a practice of
law. 17 One who renders an opinion as to the proper
interpretation of a statute, and receives pay for it, is, to
that extent, practicing law. 18
In the recent case of Cayetano vs. Monsod, 19 after
citing the doctrines in several cases, we laid down the
test to determine whether certain acts constitute
"practice of law," thus:
Black defines "practice of law" as:

The rendition of services requiring

the knowledge and the application of
legal principles and technique to
serve the interest of another with his
consent. It is not limited to appearing
in court, or advising and assisting in
the conduct of litigation, but
embraces the preparation of
pleadings, and other papers incident
to actions and special proceedings,
conveyancing, the preparation of
legal instruments of all kinds, and
the giving of all legal advice to
clients. It embraces all advice to
clients and all actions taken for them
in matters connected with the law.
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of
cases on court.(Land Title Abstract and Trust Co. v.
Dworken , 129 Ohio St. 23, 193N. E. 650). A person is
also considered to be in the practice of law when he:
. . . . for valuable consideration
engages in the business of advising
person, firms, associations or
corporations as to their right under
the law, or appears in a
representative capacity as an
advocate in proceedings, pending or
prospective, before any court,
commissioner, referee, board, body,
committee, or commission
constituted by law or authorized to
settle controversies and there, in
such representative capacity,
performs any act or acts for the
purpose of obtaining or defending
the rights of their clients under the
law. Otherwise stated, one who, in a
representative capacity, engages in
the business of advising clients as to

their rights under the law, or while so

engaged performs any act or acts
either in court or outside of court for
that purpose, is engaged in the
practice of law. (State ex. rel.
Mckittrick v. C.S. Dudley and Co.,
102 S. W. 2d 895, 340 Mo. 852).
This Court, in the case of Philippines Lawyers
Association v. Agrava (105 Phil. 173, 176-177),stated:
The practice of law is not limited to
the conduct of cases or litigation in
court; it embraces the preparation of
pleadings and other papers incident
to actions and special proceedings,
the management of such actions and
proceedings on behalf of clients
before judges and courts, and in
addition, conveying. In general, all
advice to clients, and all action taken
for them in matters connected with
the law incorporation services,
assessment and condemnation
services contemplating an
appearance before a judicial body,
the foreclosure of a mortgage,
enforcement of a creditor's claim in
bankruptcy and insolvency
proceedings, and conducting
proceedings in attachment, and in
matters or estate and guardianship
have been held to constitute law
practice, as do the preparation and
drafting of legal instruments, where
the work done involves the
determination by the trained legal
mind of the legal effect of facts and
conditions. (5 Am. Jr. p. 262, 263).

Practice of law under modern

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

665-666, citing In Re Opinion of the

Justices [Mass], 194 N. E. 313,
quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. v.
Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.]
197 A. 139, 144).
The practice of law, therefore, covers a wide range of
activities in and out of court. Applying the
aforementioned criteria to the case at bar, we agree
with the perceptive findings and observations of the
aforestated bar associations that the activities of
respondent, as advertised, constitute "practice of law."
The contention of respondent that it merely offers legal
support services can neither be seriously considered
nor sustained. Said proposition is belied by
respondent's own description of the services it has
been offering, to wit:
Legal support services basically
consists of giving ready information
by trained paralegals to laymen and
lawyers, which are strictly nondiagnostic, non-advisory, through the
extensive use of computers and
modern information technology in
the gathering, processing, storage,
transmission and reproduction of
information and communication,
such as computerized legal research;
encoding and reproduction of
documents and pleadings prepared
by laymen or lawyers; document
search; evidence gathering; locating
parties or witnesses to a case; fact
finding investigations; and assistance
to laymen in need of basic
institutional services from
government or non-government
agencies, like birth, marriage,

property, or business registrations;

educational or employment records
or certifications, obtaining
documentation like clearances,
passports, local or foreign visas;
giving information about laws of
other countries that they may find
useful, like foreign divorce, marriage
or adoption laws that they can avail
of preparatory to emigration to the
foreign country, and other matters
that do not involve representation of
clients in court; designing and
installing computer systems,
programs, or software for the
efficient management of law offices,
corporate legal departments, courts
and other entities engaged in
dispensing or administering legal
services. 20
While some of the services being offered by
respondent corporation merely involve mechanical and
technical knowhow, such as the installation of
computer systems and programs for the efficient
management of law offices, or the computerization of
research aids and materials, these will not suffice to
justify an exception to the general rule.
What is palpably clear is that respondent corporation
gives out legal information to laymen and lawyers. Its
contention that such function is non-advisory and nondiagnostic is more apparent than real. In providing
information, for example, about foreign laws on
marriage, divorce and adoption, it strains the credulity
of this Court that all the respondent corporation will
simply do is look for the law, furnish a copy thereof to
the client, and stop there as if it were merely a
bookstore. With its attorneys and so called paralegals,
it will necessarily have to explain to the client the
intricacies of the law and advise him or her on the

proper course of action to be taken as may be provided

for by said law. That is what its advertisements
represent and for the which services it will
consequently charge and be paid. That activity falls
squarely within the jurisprudential definition of
"practice of law." Such a conclusion will not be altered
by the fact that respondent corporation does not
represent clients in court since law practice, as the
weight of authority holds, is not limited merely giving
legal advice, contract drafting and so forth.
The aforesaid conclusion is further strengthened by an
article published in the January 13, 1991 issue of the
Starweek/The Sunday Magazine of the Philippines
Star, entitled "Rx for Legal Problems," where an
insight into the structure, main purpose and operations
of respondent corporation was given by its own
"proprietor," Atty. Rogelio P. Nogales:
This is the kind of business that is
transacted everyday at The Legal
Clinic, with offices on the seventh
floor of the Victoria Building along
U. N. Avenue in Manila. No matter
what the client's problem, and even
if it is as complicated as the CunetaConcepcion domestic situation, Atty.
Nogales and his staff of lawyers,
who, like doctors are "specialists" in
various fields can take care of it. The
Legal Clinic, Inc. has specialists in
taxation and criminal law, medicolegal problems, labor, litigation, and
family law. These specialist are
backed up by a battery of paralegals,
counsellors and attorneys.
Atty. Nogales set up The Legal
Clinic in 1984. Inspired by the trend
in the medical field toward

specialization, it caters to clients

who cannot afford the services of the
big law firms.
The Legal Clinic has regular and
walk-in clients. "when they come,
we start by analyzing the problem.
That's what doctors do also. They
ask you how you contracted what's
bothering you, they take your
temperature, they observe you for
the symptoms and so on. That's how
we operate, too. And once the
problem has been categorized, then
it's referred to one of our specialists.
There are cases which do not, in
medical terms, require surgery or
follow-up treatment. These The
Legal Clinic disposes of in a matter
of minutes. "Things like preparing a
simple deed of sale or an affidavit of
loss can be taken care of by our staff
or, if this were a hospital the
residents or the interns. We can take
care of these matters on a while you
wait basis. Again, kung baga sa
hospital, out-patient, hindi
kailangang ma-confine. It's just like
a common cold or diarrhea,"
explains Atty. Nogales.
Those cases which requires more
extensive "treatment" are dealt with
accordingly. "If you had a rich
relative who died and named you her
sole heir, and you stand to inherit
millions of pesos of property, we
would refer you to a specialist in
taxation. There would be real estate

taxes and arrears which would need

to be put in order, and your relative
is even taxed by the state for the
right to transfer her property, and
only a specialist in taxation would be
properly trained to deal with the
problem. Now, if there were other
heirs contesting your rich relatives
will, then you would need a litigator,
who knows how to arrange the
problem for presentation in court,
and gather evidence to support the
case. 21
That fact that the corporation employs paralegals to
carry out its services is not controlling. What is
important is that it is engaged in the practice of law by
virtue of the nature of the services it renders which
thereby brings it within the ambit of the statutory
prohibitions against the advertisements which it has
caused to be published and are now assailed in this
Further, as correctly and appropriately pointed out by
the U.P. WILOCI, said reported facts sufficiently
establish that the main purpose of respondent is to
serve as a one-stop-shop of sorts for various legal
problems wherein a client may avail of legal services
from simple documentation to complex litigation and
corporate undertakings. Most of these services are
undoubtedly beyond the domain of paralegals, but
rather, are exclusive functions of lawyers engaged in
the practice of law. 22
It should be noted that in our jurisdiction the services
being offered by private respondent which constitute
practice of law cannot be performed by paralegals.
Only a person duly admitted as a member of the bar, or
hereafter admitted as such in accordance with the

provisions of the Rules of Court, and who is in good

and regular standing, is entitled to practice law. 23
Public policy requires that the practice of law be
limited to those individuals found duly qualified in
education and character. The permissive right
conferred on the lawyers is an individual and limited
privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to maintain
proper standards of moral and professional conduct.
The purpose is to protect the public, the court, the
client and the bar from the incompetence or dishonesty
of those unlicensed to practice law and not subject to
the disciplinary control of the court. 24
The same rule is observed in the american jurisdiction
wherefrom respondent would wish to draw support for
his thesis. The doctrines there also stress that the
practice of law is limited to those who meet the
requirements for, and have been admitted to, the bar,
and various statutes or rules specifically so
provide. 25 The practice of law is not a lawful business
except for members of the bar who have complied with
all the conditions required by statute and the rules of
court. Only those persons are allowed to practice law
who, by reason of attainments previously acquired
through education and study, have been recognized by
the courts as possessing profound knowledge of legal
science entitling them to advise, counsel with, protect,
or defend the rights claims, or liabilities of their
clients, with respect to the construction, interpretation,
operation and effect of law. 26 The justification for
excluding from the practice of law those not admitted
to the bar is found, not in the protection of the bar from
competition, but in the protection of the public from
being advised and represented in legal matters by
incompetent and unreliable persons over whom the
judicial department can exercise little control. 27
We have to necessarily and definitely reject
respondent's position that the concept in the United

States of paralegals as an occupation separate from the

law profession be adopted in this jurisdiction.
Whatever may be its merits, respondent cannot but be
aware that this should first be a matter for judicial
rules or legislative action, and not of unilateral
adoption as it has done.
Paralegals in the United States are trained
professionals. As admitted by respondent, there are
schools and universities there which offer studies and
degrees in paralegal education, while there are none in
the Philippines.28 As the concept of the "paralegals" or
"legal assistant" evolved in the United States,
standards and guidelines also evolved to protect the
general public. One of the major standards or
guidelines was developed by the American Bar
Association which set up Guidelines for the Approval
of Legal Assistant Education Programs (1973).
Legislation has even been proposed to certify legal
assistants. There are also associations of paralegals in
the United States with their own code of professional
ethics, such as the National Association of Legal
Assistants, Inc. and the American Paralegal
In the Philippines, we still have a restricted concept
and limited acceptance of what may be considered as
paralegal service. As pointed out by FIDA, some
persons not duly licensed to practice law are or have
been allowed limited representation in behalf of
another or to render legal services, but such allowable
services are limited in scope and extent by the law,
rules or regulations granting permission therefor. 30
Accordingly, we have adopted the American judicial
policy that, in the absence of constitutional or statutory
authority, a person who has not been admitted as an
attorney cannot practice law for the proper
administration of justice cannot be hindered by the
unwarranted intrusion of an unauthorized and

unskilled person into the practice of law. 31 That policy

should continue to be one of encouraging persons who
are unsure of their legal rights and remedies to seek
legal assistance only from persons licensed to practice
law in the state. 32
Anent the issue on the validity of the questioned
advertisements, the Code of Professional
Responsibility provides that a lawyer in making known
his legal services shall use only true, honest, fair,
dignified and objective information or statement of
facts. 33 He is not supposed to use or permit the use of
any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive,
undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim
regarding his qualifications or legal services. 34 Nor
shall he pay or give something of value to
representatives of the mass media in anticipation of, or
in return for, publicity to attract legal business. 35 Prior
to the adoption of the code of Professional
Responsibility, the Canons of Professional Ethics had
also warned that lawyers should not resort to indirect
advertisements for professional employment, such as
furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments, or
procuring his photograph to be published in connection
with causes in which the lawyer has been or is engaged
or concerning the manner of their conduct, the
magnitude of the interest involved, the importance of
the lawyer's position, and all other like selflaudation. 36
The standards of the legal profession condemn the
lawyer's advertisement of his talents. A lawyer cannot,
without violating the ethics of his profession. advertise
his talents or skill as in a manner similar to a merchant
advertising his goods. 37 The prescription against
advertising of legal services or solicitation of legal
business rests on the fundamental postulate that the
that the practice of law is a profession. Thus, in the
case of The Director of Religious Affairs. vs.
Estanislao R. Bayot 38 an advertisement, similar to
those of respondent which are involved in the present

proceeding,39 was held to constitute improper

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

We repeat, the canon of the profession tell us that the

best advertising possible for a lawyer is a well-merited
reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to
trust, which must be earned as the outcome of
character and conduct. Good and efficient service to a
client as well as to the community has a way of
publicizing itself and catching public attention. That
publicity is a normal by-product of effective service
which is right and proper. A good and reputable lawyer
needs no artificial stimulus to generate it and to
magnify his success. He easily sees the difference
between a normal by-product of able service and the
unwholesome result of propaganda. 40
Of course, not all types of advertising or solicitation
are prohibited. The canons of the profession enumerate
exceptions to the rule against advertising or solicitation
and define the extent to which they may be
undertaken. The exceptions are of two broad
categories, namely, those which are expressly allowed
and those which are necessarily implied from the
restrictions. 41
The first of such exceptions is the publication in
reputable law lists, in a manner consistent with the
standards of conduct imposed by the canons, of brief
biographical and informative data. "Such data must not
be misleading and may include only a statement of the
lawyer's name and the names of his professional
associates; addresses, telephone numbers, cable
addresses; branches of law practiced; date and place of
birth and admission to the bar; schools attended with
dates of graduation, degrees and other educational
distinction; public or quasi-public offices; posts of
honor; legal authorships; legal teaching positions;
membership and offices in bar associations and
committees thereof, in legal and scientific societies
and legal fraternities; the fact of listings in other
reputable law lists; the names and addresses of
references; and, with their written consent, the names
of clients regularly represented." 42

The law list must be a reputable law list published

primarily for that purpose; it cannot be a mere
supplemental feature of a paper, magazine, trade
journal or periodical which is published principally for
other purposes. For that reason, a lawyer may not
properly publish his brief biographical and informative
data in a daily paper, magazine, trade journal or
society program. Nor may a lawyer permit his name to
be published in a law list the conduct, management or
contents of which are calculated or likely to deceive or
injure the public or the bar, or to lower the dignity or
standing of the profession. 43
The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also
permitted. The card may contain only a statement of
his name, the name of the law firm which he is
connected with, address, telephone number and special
branch of law practiced. The publication of a simple
announcement of the opening of a law firm or of
changes in the partnership, associates, firm name or
office address, being for the convenience of the
profession, is not objectionable. He may likewise have
his name listed in a telephone directory but not under a
designation of special branch of law. 44
Verily, taking into consideration the nature and
contents of the advertisements for which respondent is
being taken to task, which even includes a quotation of
the fees charged by said respondent corporation for
services rendered, we find and so hold that the same
definitely do not and conclusively cannot fall under
any of the above-mentioned exceptions.
The ruling in the case of Bates, et al. vs. State Bar of
Arizona, 45 which is repeatedly invoked and constitutes
the justification relied upon by respondent, is
obviously not applicable to the case at bar. Foremost is
the fact that the disciplinary rule involved in said case
explicitly allows a lawyer, as an exception to the
prohibition against advertisements by lawyers, to

publish a statement of legal fees for an initial

consultation or the availability upon request of a
written schedule of fees or an estimate of the fee to be
charged for the specific services. No such exception is
provided for, expressly or impliedly, whether in our
former Canons of Professional Ethics or the present
Code of Professional Responsibility. Besides, even the
disciplinary rule in the Bates case contains a proviso
that the exceptions stated therein are "not applicable in
any state unless and until it is implemented by such
authority in that state." 46 This goes to show that an
exception to the general rule, such as that being
invoked by herein respondent, can be made only if and
when the canons expressly provide for such an
exception. Otherwise, the prohibition stands, as in the
case at bar.
It bears mention that in a survey conducted by the
American Bar Association after the decision in Bates,
on the attitude of the public about lawyers after
viewing television commercials, it was found that
public opinion dropped significantly 47 with respect to
these characteristics of lawyers:
Trustworthy from
71% to 14%
Professional from
71% to 14%
Honest from 65%
to 14%
Dignified from
45% to 14%
Secondly, it is our firm belief that with the present
situation of our legal and judicial systems, to allow the
publication of advertisements of the kind used by
respondent would only serve to aggravate what is
already a deteriorating public opinion of the legal
profession whose integrity has consistently been under
attack lately by media and the community in general.

At this point in time, it is of utmost importance in the

face of such negative, even if unfair, criticisms at
times, to adopt and maintain that level of professional
conduct which is beyond reproach, and to exert all
efforts to regain the high esteem formerly accorded to
the legal profession.

ascertainment of the factual background and basis for

the grant of respondent's corporate charter, in light of
the putative misuse thereof. That spin-off from the
instant bar matter is referred to the Solicitor General
for such action as may be necessary under the

In sum, it is undoubtedly a misbehavior on the part of

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

ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to RESTRAIN

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

While we deem it necessary that the question as to the

legality or illegality of the purpose/s for which the
Legal Clinic, Inc. was created should be passed upon
and determined, we are constrained to refrain from
lapsing into an obiter on that aspect since it is clearly
not within the adjudicative parameters of the present
proceeding which is merely administrative in nature. It
is, of course, imperative that this matter be promptly
determined, albeit in a different proceeding and forum,
since, under the present state of our law and
jurisprudence, a corporation cannot be organized for or
engage in the practice of law in this country. This
interdiction, just like the rule against unethical
advertising, cannot be subverted by employing some
so-called paralegals supposedly rendering the alleged
support services.
The remedy for the apparent breach of this prohibition
by respondent is the concern and province of the
Solicitor General who can institute the
corresponding quo warranto action, 50 after due

Republic of the Philippines

A.C. No. 2797

October 4, 2002

ROSAURA P. CORDON, complainant,

JESUS BALICANTA, respondent.
On August 21, 1985, herein complainant Rosaura
Cordon filed with this Court a complaint for
disbarment, docketed as Administrative Case No.
2797, against Atty. Jesus Balicanta. After respondents
comment to the complaint and complainants reply
thereto, this Court, on March 29, 1995 referred the
matter to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP, for
brevity) for investigation, report and recommendation
within 90 days from notice. Commissioner George
Briones of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline was
initially tasked to investigate the case. Commissioner
Briones was later on replaced by Commissioner
Renato Cunanan. Complainant filed a supplemental
complaint which was duly admitted and, as agreed
upon, the parties filed their respective position papers.
Based on her complaint, supplemental complaint, reply
and position paper, the complainant alleged the
following facts:
When her husband Felixberto C. Jaldon died, herein
complainant Rosaura Cordon and her daughter
Rosemarie inherited the properties left by the said
decedent. All in all, complainant and her daughter
inherited 21 parcels of land located in Zamboanga
City. The lawyer who helped her settle the estate of her
late husband was respondent Jesus Balicanta.

Sometime in the early part of 1981, respondent enticed

complainant and her daughter to organize a
corporation that would develop the said real properties
into a high-scale commercial complex with a beautiful
penthouse for complainant. Relying on these
apparently sincere proposals, complainant and her
daughter assigned 19 parcels of land to Rosaura
Enterprises, Incorporated, a newly-formed and duly
registered corporation in which they assumed majority
ownership. The subject parcels of land were then
registered in the name of the corporation.
Thereafter, respondent single-handedly ran the affairs
of the corporation in his capacity as Chairman of the
Board, President, General Manager and Treasurer. The
respondent also made complainant sign a document
which turned out to be a voting trust agreement.
Respondent likewise succeeded in making complainant
sign a special power of attorney to sell and mortgage
some of the parcels of land she inherited from her
deceased husband. She later discovered that
respondent transferred the titles of the properties to a
certain Tion Suy Ong who became the new registered
owner thereof. Respondent never accounted for the
proceeds of said transfers.
In 1981, respondent, using a spurious board resolution,
contracted a loan from the Land Bank of the
Philippines (LBP, for brevity) in the amount of Two
Million Two Hundred Twenty Pesos (P2,220,000)
using as collateral 9 of the real properties that the
complainant and her daughter contributed to the
corporation. The respondent ostensibly intended to use
the money to construct the Baliwasan Commercial
Center (BCC, for brevity). Complainant later on found
out that the structure was made of poor materials such
as sawali, coco lumber and bamboo which could not
have cost the corporation anything close to the amount
of the loan secured.
For four years from the time the debt was contracted,
respondent failed to pay even a single installment. As a
result, the LBP, in a letter dated May 22, 1985,
informed respondent that the past due amortizations
and interest had already accumulated to Seven

Hundred Twenty-nine Thousand Five Hundred Three

Pesos and Twenty-five Centavos (P729,503.25). The
LBP made a demand on respondent for payment for
the tenth time. Meanwhile, when the BCC commenced
its operations, respondent started to earn revenues
from the rentals of BCCs tenants. On October 28,
1987, the LBP foreclosed on the 9 mortgaged
properties due to non-payment of the loan.
Respondent did not exert any effort to redeem the
foreclosed properties. Worse, he sold the corporations
right to redeem the mortgaged properties to a certain
Hadji Mahmud Jammang through a fake board
resolution dated January 14, 1989 which clothed
himself with the authority to do so. Complainant and
her daughter, the majority stockholders, were never
informed of the alleged meeting held on that date.
Again, respondent never accounted for the proceeds of
the sale of the right to redeem. Respondent also sold to
Jammang a parcel of land belonging to complainant
and her daughter which was contiguous to the
foreclosed properties and evidenced by Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 62807. He never accounted for
the proceeds of the sale.
Sometime in 1983, complainants daughter,
Rosemarie, discovered that their ancestral home had
been demolished and that her mother, herein
complainant, was being detained in a small nipa shack
in a place called Culianan. Through the help of Atty.
Linda Lim, Rosemarie was able to locate her mother.
Rosemarie later learned that respondent took
complainant away from her house on the pretext that
said ancestral home was going to be remodeled and
painted. But respondent demolished the ancestral home
and sold the lot to Tion Suy Ong, using another
spurious board resolution designated as Board
Resolution No. 1, series of 1992. The resolution
contained the minutes of an alleged organizational
meeting of the directors of the corporation and was
signed by Alexander Wee, Angel Fernando, Erwin
Fernando and Gabriel Solivar. Complainant and her
daughter did not know how these persons became
stockholders and directors of the corporation.

Respondent again did not account for the proceeds of

the sale.
Complainant and her daughter made several demands
on respondent for the delivery of the real properties
they allegedly assigned to the corporation, for an
accounting of the proceeds of the LBP loan and as well
as the properties sold, and for the rentals earned by
BCC. But the demands remained unheeded. Hence,
complainant and her daughter, in a letter dated June 4,
1985, terminated the services of respondent as their
lawyer and repeated their demands for accounting and
turn-over of the corporate funds, and the return of the
19 titles that respondent transferred to the corporation.
They also threatened him with legal action in a letter
dated August 3, 1985.
Soon after, complainant found out from the Securities
and Exchange Commission (SEC, for brevity) that
Rosaura Enterprises, Inc., due to respondents refusal
and neglect, failed to submit the corporations annual
financial statements for 1981, 1982 and 1983; SEC
General Information Sheets for 1982, 1983 and 1984;
Minutes of Annual Meetings for 1982, 1983 and 1984;
and Minutes of Annual Meetings of Directors for 1982,
1983 and 1984.
Complainant also discovered that respondent collected
rental payments from the tenants of BCC and issued
handwritten receipts which he signed, not as an officer
of the corporation but as the attorney-at-law of
complainant. Respondent also used the tennis court of
BCC to dry his palay and did not keep the buildings in
a satisfactory state, so much so that the divisions were
losing plywood and other materials to thieves.
Complainant likewise accused respondent of
circulating rumors among her friends and relatives that
she had become insane to prevent them from believing
whatever complainant said. According to complainant,
respondent proposed that she legally separate from her
present husband so that the latter would not inherit
from her and that respondent be adopted as her son.

For his defense, respondent, in his comment and

position paper, denied employing deceit and
machination in convincing complainant and her
daughter to assign their real properties to the
corporation; that they freely and voluntary executed
the deeds of assignment and the voting trust agreement
that they signed; that he did not single-handedly
manage the corporation as evidenced by certifications
of the officers and directors of the corporation; that he
did not use spurious board resolutions authorizing him
to contract a loan or sell the properties assigned by the
complainant and her daughter; that complainant and
her daughter should be the ones who should render an
accounting of the records and revenues inasmuch as,
since 1984 up to the present, the part-time corporate
book-keeper, with the connivance of the complainant
and her daughter, had custody of the corporate records;
that complainant and her daughter sabotaged the
operation of BCC when they illegally took control of it
in 1986; that he never pocketed any of the proceeds of
the properties contributed by the complainant and her
daughter; that the demolition of the ancestral home
followed legal procedures; that complainant was never
detained in Culianan but she freely and voluntarily
lived with the family of P03 Joel Constantino as
evidenced by complainants own letter denying she
was kidnapped; and that the instant disbarment case
should be dismissed for being premature, considering
the pendency of cases before the SEC and the Regional
Trial Court of Zamboanga involving him and
Based on the pleadings and position papers submitted
by the parties, Commissioner Renato Cunanan, in his
report1 dated July 1, 1999, recommended respondents
disbarment based on the following findings:
"A. The complainant, Rosaura Jaldon-Cordon
and her daughter, Rosemarie were
stockholders of a corporation, together with
respondent, named Rosaura Enterprises, Inc.
"Per the Articles of Incorporation marked as
Annex A of Complainants Position Paper,
complainants subscription consists of 55% of
the outstanding capital stock while her

daughters consists of 18%, giving them a

total of 73%. Respondents holdings consist
of 24% while three other incorporators,
Rosauro L. Alvarez, Vicente T. Maalac and
Darhan S. Graciano each held 1% of the
capital stock of the corporation.
"B. On April 5, 1981, complainant and her
daughter Rosemarie Jaldon executed two
Deeds of Transfer and Assignment conveying
and transferring to the corporation 19 parcels
of land in exchange for shares of stock in the
"x x x



"C. Both Deeds of Assignment particularly

page 3 thereof indicate that respondent
accepted said assignment of properties and
titles in behalf of the corporation as Treasurer.
The deeds were signed on April 5, 1981.
"x x x



"Together, therefore, complainant and her

daughter owned 1,711 shares of the 1,750
shares comprising the authorized capital stock
of the corporation of 97% thereof.
"No increase in capitalization was applied for
by the corporation.
"F. Respondent claims in his Comment, his
Answer and his Position Paper that on April
4, 1981 he was elected as Chairman and
Director and on April 5, 1981 he was elected
President of the corporation. Respondents
own Annexes marked as G and G-1 of his
Comment show that on April 4, 1981 he was
not only elected as Chairman and Director as
he claims but as Director, Board Chairman
and President. The purported minutes was
only signed by respondent and an acting
Secretary by the name of Vicente Maalac.

"Said Annex does not show who was elected

"Respondents Annex H and H-1 shows
that in the alleged organizational meeting of
the directors on April 5, 1981 a certain
Farnacio Bucoy was elected Treasurer.
Bucoys name does not appear as an
incorporator nor a stockholder anywhere in
the documents submitted.
"The purported minutes of the organizational
meeting of the directors was signed only by
respondent Balicanta and a Secretary named
Verisimo Martin.
"G. Since respondent was elected as Director,
Chairman and President on April 4, 1981 as
respondents own Annexes G to G-1 would
show, then complainants claim that
respondent was likewise acting as Treasurer
of two corporations bear truth and credence as
respondent signed and accepted the titles to
19 parcels of land ceded by the complainant
and her daughter, as Treasurer on April 5,
1981 after he was already purportedly elected
as Chairman, President and Director.
"H. Respondent misleads the Commission
into believing that all the directors signed the
minutes marked as Exhibit H to H-1 by
stating that the same was duly signed by all
the Board of Directors when the document
itself shows that only he and one Verisimo
Martin signed the same.
"He also claims that all the stockholders
signed the minutes of organizational meeting
marked as Annexes G and G-1 of his
Comment yet the same shows that only the
acting Chairman and acting Secretary signed.
"I. Respondent claims that the Board or its
representative was authorized by the
stockholders comprising 2/3 of the

outstanding capital stock, as required by law,

to mortgage the parcels of land belonging to
the corporation, which were all assigned to
the corporation by complainant and her
daughter, by virtue of Annex I and I-1:
attached to his Comment.
"The subject attachment however reveals that
only the following persons signed their
conformity to the said resolution: respondent
Balicanta who owned 109 shares, Vicente
Maalac (1 share), Daihan Graciano (1
"Complainants who collectively held a total
of 1,711 shares out of the 1,750 outstanding
capital stock of the corporation were not
represented in the purported stockholders
meeting authorizing the mortgage of the
subject properties.
"The 2/3 vote required by law was therefore
not complied with yet respondent proceeded
to mortgage the subject 9 parcels of land by
the corporation.
"J. Respondent further relies on Annex J of
his Comment, purportedly the minutes of a
special meeting of the Board of Directors
authorizing him to obtain a loan and mortgage
the properties of the corporation dated August
29, 1981. This claim is baseless. The required
ratification of 2/3 by the stockholders of
records was not met. Again, respondent
attempts to mislead the Commission and
"K. Further, the constitution of the Board is
dubious. The alleged minutes of the
organizational meeting of the stockholders
electing the members of the Board, have not
been duly signed by the stockholders as
shown in respondents annex G which was
purportedly the organizational meeting of the

"L. Also, Annex J of respondents Comment

which purportedly authorized him to obtain a
loan and to mortgage the 9 parcels of land
was only signed by himself and a secretary.
"M. In said Annex 'J' of respondents
Comment he stated that complainant Rosaura
Cordon was on leave by virtue of a voting
trust agreement allegedly executed by
complainant in his favor covering all her
shares of stock. The claim is baseless. The
voting trust referred to by respondent (annex
D of his Comment), even if it were assumed
to be valid, covered only 266 shares of
complainants yet she owned a total of 1,039
shares after she and her daughter ceded in
favor of the corporation 19 parcels of land.
"Being a former lawyer to complainant,
respondent should have ensured that her
interest was safeguarded. Yet, complainant
was apparently and deliberately left our (sic)
on the pretext that, she had executed a voting
trust agreement in favor of respondent.
"It is suspicious that complainant was made to
sign a voting trust agreement on 21 August
1981 and immediately thereafter, the
resolutions authorizing respondent to obtain a
loan and to mortgage the 9 parcels of land
were passed and approved.
"N. It is also highly irregular for respondent
who is a lawyer, to allow a situation to
happen where, with the exclusion of
complainant as director the result was that
there remained only 4 members of the Board,.
"O. Respondents own pleadings submitted to
the Commission contradict each other.
"1. For instance, while in his
Comment respondent DENIES that
he employed deceit and machination
in convincing the complainant and

her daughter to sign the articles of

incorporation of Rosaura Enterprises
and in ceding to the corporation 19
parcels of land in Zamboanga City,
because they freely, intelligently
and voluntarily signed the same,
yet, in his Position Paper, respondent
took another stance.
"In paragraphs 1.1 and 1.2 of his
Position Paper which was submitted
12 years later, respondent claimed
that it was actually the idea of Atty.
Rosaura L. Alvarez that a
corporation be put up to incorporate
the estate of the late Felixberto D.
"2. Likewise, respondent claimed
that complainant and her daughter
were not directors, hence they were
not notified of meetings, in
paragraph 2-6 (c) of his Comment he
blamed the other stockholders and
directors for the corporations
inability to comply with the Land
Banks demands saying that they
have consistently failed since 1982
to convene (1.) for the annual
stockholders meetings and (i.i) for
the monthly board meeting.
"His own pleadings claim that he
had been the Chairman/President
since 1981 to the present. If (sic) so,
it was his duty to convene the
stockholders and the directors for
"Respondent appeared able to
convene the stockholders and
directors when he needed to make a
loan of p2.2 million; when he sold
the corporations right of redemption
over the foreclosed properties of the
corporation to Jammang, when he

sold one parcel of land covered by

TCT 62,807 to Jammang in addition
to the 9 parcels of land which were
foreclosed, and when he sold the
complainants ancestral home
covered by TCT No. 72,004.

of 1,283 shares back in her name in

August 1986.

"It is thus strange why respondent

claims that the corporation could not
do anything to save the corporations
properties from being
foreclosed because the stockholders
and directors did not convene.

"There was no explanation

whatsoever from respondent on how
complainant and her daughter lost
their 97% control holding in the

"This assertion of respondent is

clearly evident of dishonest,
deceitful and immoral conduct
especially because, in all his acts
constituting conveyances of
corporate property, respondent used
minutes of stockholders and
directors meetings signed only by
him and a secretary or signed by him
and persons who were not
incorporators much less
"It is worthy of note that in
respondents Exhibits 15, 16, 17 and
18 of his position paper, there were 7
new stockholders and complainant
appeared to have only 266 shares to
her name while her daughter
Rosemarie had no shares at all.
Respondent did not present any
proof of conveyance of shares by
complainant and her daughter.
"It is further worth noting that
complainants voting trust (annex
D of respondents Comment) where
she allegedly entrusted 266 shares to
respondent on August 21, 1981 had
only a validity of 5 years. Thus, she
should have had her entire holdings

"Respondents purported minutes of

stockholders meeting (Exhs. 15
and 17) do not reflect this.

"3. As a further contradiction in

respondents pleadings, we note that
in paragraph 2.7.C of his Comment
he said that only recently, this year,
1985, the complainant and her
aforenamed daughter examined said
voluminous supporting
receipts/documents which had
previously been examined by the
Land Bank for loan releases, during
which occasion respondent
suggested to them that the
corporation will have to hire a fulltime book-keeper to put in order said
voluminous supporting
receipts/documents, to which they
adversely reacted due to lack of
corporate money to pay for said
book-keeper. But in respondents
Position Paper par. 6.3 he stated that:
Anyway, it is not the respondent but
rather the complainant who should
render a detailed accounting to the
corporation of the corporate records
as well as corporate revenues/income
precisely becausesince 1994 to the
(a). The corporate part-time bookkeeper Edilberto Benedicto, with the
indispensable connivance and

instigation of the complainant and

her daughter, among others, has
custody of the corporate records,
"4. In other contradictory stance,
respondent claims in par. 7.3 of his
position paper that complainant and
her daughter sabotaged the BCC
operations of the corporation by
illegally taking over actual control
and supervision thereof sometime in
1986, xxx
"Yet respondents own exhibits in his
position paper particularly Exhibit
15 and 16 where the subject of the
foreclosed properties of the
corporation comprising the
Baliwasan Commercial Center
(BCC) was taken up, complainant
and her daughter were not even
present nor were they the subject of
the discussion, belying respondents
claim that the complainant and her
daughter illegally took actual control
of BCC.
"5. On the matter of the receipts
issued by respondent evidencing
payment to him of rentals by lessees
of the corporation, attached to the
complaint as Annexes H to H-17,
respondent claims that the receipts
are temporary in nature and that
subsequently regular corporate
receipts were issued. On their face
however the receipts clearly appear
to be official receipts, printed and
numbered duly signed by the
respondent bearing his printed name.
"It is difficult to believe that a
lawyer of respondent stature would
issue official receipts to lessees if he
only meant to issue temporary ones.

"6. With regard to respondents

claim that the complainant consented
to the sale of her ancestral home,
covered by TCT No. T-72,004 to one
Tion Suy Ong for which he attached
as Exhibit 22 to his Position Paper
the minutes of an annual meeting of
the stockholders, it behooves this
Commission why complainants
signature had to be accompanied by
her thumb mark. Furthermore,
complainants signature appears
unstable and shaky. This Office is
thus persuaded to believe
complainants allegation in
paragraph 3b of her position paper
that since September 1992 up to
March 1993 she was being detained
by one PO# (sic) Joel Constantino
and his wife under instructions from
respondent Balicanta.
"This conclusion is supported by a
letter from respondent dated March
1993, Annex H of complainants
position paper, where respondent
ordered Police Officer Constantino
to allow Atty. Linda Lim and
Rosemarie Jaldon to talk to Tita
"The complainants thumb mark
together with her visibly unstable
shaky signature lends credence to
her claim that she was detained in
the far flung barrio of Culianan
under instructions of respondent
while her ancestral home was
demolished and the lot sold to one
Tion Suy Ong.
"It appears that respondent felt
compelled to over-ensure
complainants consent by getting her
to affix her thumb mark in addition
to her signature.

"7. Respondent likewise denies that

he also acted as Corporate Secretary
in addition to being the Chairman,
President and Treasurer of the
corporation. Yet, respondent
submitted to this commission
documents which are supported to be
in the possession of the Corporate
Secretary such as the stock and
transfer book and minutes of
"The foregoing findings of this
Commission are virtual smoking
guns that prove on no uncertain
terms that respondent, who was the
legal counsel of complainant in the
latter part of the settlement of the
estate of her deceased husband,
committed unlawful, immoral and
deceitful conduct proscribed by Rule
1.01 of the code of professional
"Likewise, respondent clearly
committed a violation of Canon 15
of the same code which provides that
A lawyer should observe candor
fairness and loyalty in all his
dealings and transactions with his
"Respondents acts gravely diminish
the publics respect for the integrity
of the profession of law for which
this Commission recommends that
he be meted the penalty of
"The pendency of the cases at the
SEC and the Regional Trial Court of
Zamboanga filed by complainant
against respondent does not preclude
a determination of respondents
culpability as a lawyer.

"This Commission cannot further

delay the resolution of this complaint
filed in 1985 by complainant, and
old widow who deserves to find
hope and recover her confidence in
the judicial system.
"The findings of this office,
predominantly based on documents
adduced by both parties lead to only
one rather unpalatable conclusion.
That respondent Atty. Jesus F.
Balicanta, in his professional
relations with herein complainant did
in fact employ unlawful, dishonest,
and immoral conduct proscribed in
no uncertain terms by Rule 1.01 of
the Code of Professional
Responsibility. In addition,
respondents actions clearly violated
Canon 15 to 16 of the same Code.
"It is therefore our unpleasant duty
to recommend that respondent,
having committed acts in violation
of the Canons of Professional
Responsibility, thereby causing a
great disservice to the profession, be
meted the ultimate sanction of
On September 30, 1999, while Commissioner
Cunanans recommendation for respondents
disbarment was pending review before Executive VicePresident and Northern Luzon Governor Teofilo
Pilando, respondent filed a motion requesting "for a
full-blown investigation and for invalidation of the
entire proceedings and/or remedial action under
Section 11, Rule 139-B, Revised Rules of Court,"
alleging that he had evidence that Commissioner
Cunanans report was drafted by the lawyers of
complainant, Attys. Antonio Cope and Rita Linda
Jimeno. He presented two unsigned anonymous letters
allegedly coming from a disgruntled employee of
Attys. Cope and Jimeno. He claimed to have received
these letters in his mailbox.3

Respondents motion alleging that Attys. Antonio Cope

and Rita Linda Jimeno drafted Commissioner
Cunanans report was accompanied by a complaint
praying for the disbarment of said lawyers including
Commissioner Cunanan. The complaint was docketed
as CBD Case No. 99-658. After Attys. Cope and
Jimeno and Commissioner Cunanan filed their
answers, a hearing was conducted by the Investigating
Committee of the IBP Board of Governors.
On May 26, 2001, the IBP Board of Governors issued
a resolution4 dismissing for lack of merit the complaint
for disbarment against Attys. Cope and Jimeno and
Commissioner Cunanan. And in Adm. Case No. 2797,
the Board adopted and approved the report and
recommendation of Commissioner Cunanan, and
meted against herein respondent Balicanta the penalty
of suspension from the practice of law for 5 years "for
commission of acts of misconduct and disloyalty by
taking undue and unfair advantage of his legal
knowledge as a lawyer to gain material benefit for
himself at the expense of complainant Rosaura P.
Jaldon-Cordon and caused serious damage to the
To support its decision, the Board uncovered
respondents fraudulent acts in the very same
documents he presented to exonerate himself. It also
took note of respondents contradictory and
irreconcilable statements in the pleadings and position
papers he submitted. However, it regarded the penalty
of disbarment as too severe for respondents misdeeds,
considering that the same were his first offense.6
Pursuant to Section 12 (b), Rule 139-B of the Rules of
Court,7 the said resolution in Administrative Case No.
2797 imposing the penalty of suspension for 5 years on
respondent was automatically elevated to this Court for
final action. On the other hand, the dismissal of the
complaint for disbarment against Attys. Cope and
Jimeno and Commissioner Cunanan, docketed as CBD
Case No. 99-658, became final in the absence of any
petition for review.
This Court confirms the duly supported findings of the
IBP Board that respondent committed condemnable

acts of deceit against his client. The fraudulent acts he

carried out against his client followed a well thought of
plan to misappropriate the corporate properties and
funds entrusted to him. At the very outset, he
embarked on his devious scheme by making himself
the President, Chairman of the Board, Director and
Treasurer of the corporation, although he knew he was
prohibited from assuming the position of President and
Treasurer at the same time.8 As Treasurer, he accepted
in behalf of the corporation the 19 titles that
complainant and her daughter co-owned. The other
treasurer appointed, Farnacio Bucoy, did not appear to
be a stockholder or director in the corporate records.
The minutes of the meetings supposedly electing him
and Bucoy as officers of the corporation actually bore
the signatures of respondent and the secretary only,
contrary to his claim that they were signed by the
directors and stockholders.
He likewise misled the IBP investigating commission
in claiming that the mortgage of 9 of the properties of
the corporation previously belonging to complainant
and her daughter was ratified by the stockholders
owning two-thirds or 67% of the outstanding capital
stock when in fact only three stockholders owning 111
out of 1,750 outstanding shares or 6.3% assented
thereto. The alleged authorization granting him the
power to contract the LBP loan for Two Million Two
Hundred Twenty Pesos (P2,220,000) was also not
approved by the required minimum of two-thirds of
the outstanding capital stock despite respondents
claim to the contrary. In all these transactions,
complainant and her daughter who both owned 1,711
out of the 1,750 outstanding shares of the corporation
or 97.7% never had any participation. Neither were
they informed thereof.
Clearly, there was no quorum for a valid meeting for
the discussion and approval of these transactions.
Respondent cannot take refuge in the contested voting
trust agreement supposedly executed by complainant
and her daughter for the reason that it authorized
respondent to represent complainant for only 266

Aside from the dishonest transactions he entered into

under the cloak of sham resolutions, he failed to
explain several discrepancies in his version of the
facts. We hereby reiterate some of these statements
noted by Commissioner Cunanan in his findings.
First, respondent blamed the directors and the
stockholders who failed to convene for the required
annual meetings since 1982. However, respondent
appeared able to convene the stockholders and
directors when he contracted the LBP debt, when he
sold to Jammang the corporations right of redemption
over the foreclosed properties of the corporation, when
he sold one parcel of land covered by TCT No. 62807
to Jammang, when he mortgaged the 9 parcels of land
to LBP which later foreclosed on said mortgage, and
when he sold the complainants ancestral home
covered by TCT No. 72004.
Second, the factual findings of the investigating
commission, affirmed by the IBP Board, disclosed that
complainant and her daughter own 1,711 out of 1,750
shares of the outstanding capital stock of the
corporation, based on the Articles of Incorporation and
deeds of transfer of the properties. But respondents
evidence showed that complainant had only 266 shares
of stock in the corporation while her daughter had
none, notwithstanding the fact that there was nothing
to indicate that complainant and her daughter ever
conveyed their shares to others.
Respondent likewise did not explain why he did not
return the certificates representing the 266 shares after
the lapse of 5 years from the time the voting trust
certificate was executed in 1981.9
The records show that up to now, the complainant and
her daughter own 97% of the outstanding shares but
respondent never bothered to explain why they were
never asked to participate in or why they were never
informed of important corporate decisions.
Third, respondent, in his comment, alleged that due to
the objection of complainant and her daughter to his
proposal to hire an accountant, the corporation had no

formal accounting of its revenues and income.

However, respondents position paper maintained that
there was no accounting because the part-time
bookkeeper of the corporation connived with
complainant and her daughter in keeping the corporate
Fourth, respondents claim that complainant and her
daughter took control of the operations of the
corporation in 1986 is belied by the fact that
complainant and her daughter were not even present in
the alleged meeting of the board (which took place
after 1986) to discuss the foreclosure of the mortgaged
properties. The truth is that he never informed them of
such meeting and he never gave control of the
corporation to them.
Fifth, Commissioner Cunanan found that:
"5. on the matter of the receipts issued by respondent
evidencing payment to him of rentals by lessees of the
corporation, attached to the complaint as Annexes H
to H-17, respondent claims that the receipts are
temporary in nature and that subsequently regular
corporate receipts were issued. On their face however
the receipts clearly appear to be official receipts,
printed and numbered duly signed by the respondent
bearing his printed name.
"It is difficult to believe that a lawyer of respondents
stature would issue official receipts to lessees if he
only meant to issue temporary ones."10
Sixth, respondent denies that he acted as Corporate
Secretary aside from being the Chairman, President
and Treasurer of the corporation. Yet respondent
submitted to the investigating commission documents
which were supposed to be in the official possession of
the Corporate Secretary alone such as the stock and
transfer book and minutes of meetings.
Seventh, he alleged in his comment that he was the one
who proposed the establishment of the corporation that
would invest the properties of the complainant but, in
his position paper, he said that it was a certain Atty.

Rosauro Alvarez who made the proposal to put up the

After a thorough review of the records, we find that
respondent committed grave and serious misconduct
that casts dishonor on the legal profession. His
misdemeanors reveal a deceitful scheme to use the
corporation as a means to convert for his own personal
benefit properties left to him in trust by complainant
and her daughter.
Not even his deviousness could cover up the
wrongdoings he committed. The documents he thought
could exculpate him were the very same documents
that revealed his immoral and shameless ways. These
documents were extremely revealing in that they
unmasked a man who knew the law and abused it for
his personal gain without any qualms of conscience.
They painted an intricate web of lies, deceit and
opportunism beneath a carefully crafted smokescreen
of corporate maneuvers.
The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates
upon each lawyer, as his duty to society, the obligation
to obey the laws of the land and promote respect for
law and legal processes. Specifically, he is forbidden
to engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct.11 If the practice of law is to remain an
honorable profession and attain its basic ideal, those
enrolled in its ranks should not only master its tenets
and principles but should also, in their lives, accord
continuing fidelity to them.12 Thus, the requirement of
good moral character is of much greater import, as far
as the general public is concerned, than the possession
of legal learning.13 Lawyers are expected to abide by
the tenets of morality, not only upon admission to the
Bar but also throughout their legal career, in order to
maintain ones good standing in that exclusive and
honored fraternity.14 Good moral character is more
than just the absence of bad character. Such character
expresses itself in the will to do the unpleasant thing if
it is right and the resolve not to do the pleasant thing if
it is wrong.15 This must be so because "vast interests
are committed to his care; he is the recipient of
unbounded trust and confidence; he deals with his
clients property, reputation, his life, his all."16

Indeed, the words of former Presiding Justice of the

Court of Appeals Pompeyo Diaz cannot find a more
relevant application than in this case:
"There are men in any society who are so self-serving
that they try to make law serve their selfish ends. In
this group of men, the most dangerous is the man of
the law who has no conscience. He has, in the arsenal
of his knowledge, the very tools by which he can
poison and disrupt society and bring it to an ignoble
Good moral standing is manifested in the duty of the
lawyer "to hold in trust all moneys and properties of
his client that may come into his possession."18 He is
bound "to account for all money or property collected
or received for or from the client."19 The relation
between an attorney and his client is highly fiduciary
in nature. Thus, lawyers are bound to promptly account
for money or property received by them on behalf of
their clients and failure to do so constitutes
professional misconduct.20
This Court holds that respondent cannot invoke the
separate personality of the corporation to absolve him
from exercising these duties over the properties turned
over to him by complainant. He blatantly used the
corporate veil to defeat his fiduciary obligation to his
client, the complainant. Toleration of such fraudulent
conduct was never the reason for the creation of said
corporate fiction.
The massive fraud perpetrated by respondent on the
complainant leaves us no choice but to set aside the
veil of corporate entity. For purposes of this action
therefore, the properties registered in the name of the
corporation should still be considered as properties of
complainant and her daughter. The respondent merely
held them in trust for complainant (now an ailing 83year-old) and her daughter. The properties conveyed
fraudulently and/or without the requisite authority
should be deemed as never to have been transferred,
sold or mortgaged at all. Respondent shall be liable, in
his personal capacity, to third parties who may have
contracted with him in good faith.

Based on the aforementioned findings, this Court

believes that the gravity of respondents offenses
cannot be adequately matched by mere suspension as
recommended by the IBP. Instead, his wrongdoings
deserve the severe penalty of disbarment, without
prejudice to his criminal and civil liabilities for his
dishonest acts.
WHEREFORE, respondent Attorney Jesus T.
Balicanta is hereby DISBARRED. The Clerk of Court
is directed to strike out his name from the Roll of

Republic of the Philippines


on top of his attorneys fees, supposedly to cover the

expenses for "facilitation and processing." He in turn
promised to give the money back in case he was
unable to get the work done.

A.C. No. 8380

November 20, 2009


III, Respondent.
This disbarment case is about the need for a lawyer to
account for funds entrusted to him by his client.
The Facts and the Case
The facts are taken from the record of the case and the
report and recommendation of the Commission on Bar
Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
Sometime in January 2004, complainant Arellano
University, Inc. (the University) engaged the services
of respondent Leovigildo H. Mijares III, a member of
the Bar, for securing a certificate of title covering a
dried up portion of the Estero de San Miguel that the
University had been occupying. The property was the
subject of a Deed of Exchange dated October 1, 1958
between the City of Manila and the University.
In its complaint for disbarment against Mijares, the
University alleged that it gave him all the documents
he needed to accomplish his work. Later, Mijares
asked the University for and was given P500,000.00

On July 5, 2004 Mijares informed the University that

he already completed Phase I of the titling of the
property, meaning that he succeeded in getting the
Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to
approve it and that the documents had already been
sent to the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR). The University requested Mijares
for copies of the MMDA approval but he unjustifiably
failed to comply despite his clients repeated demands.
Then he made himself scarce, prompting the
University to withdraw all the cases it had entrusted to
him and demand the return of the P500,000.00 it gave
On November 23, 2005 the University wrote Mijares
by registered letter, formally terminating his services
in the titling matter and demanding the return of
the P500,000.00. But the letter could not be served
because he changed office address without telling the
University. Eventually, the University found his new
address and served him its letter on January 2, 2006.
Mijares personally received it yet he did not return the
money asked of him.
In his answer to the complaint, Mijares alleged that he
and the University agreed on a number of courses of
action relating to the project assigned to him: first, get
the Universitys application for a survey plan which
the DENR-NCR approved for a "facilitation cost"
of P500,000.00; second, get a favorable MMDA
endorsement for a "facilitation cost" of
another P500,000.00; and, third, the titling of the
property by the Land Registration Authority for a
"facilitation cost" of still another P500,000.00.

Mijares also alleged that the DENR-NCR Assistant

Regional Director told him that he needed to get a
favorable endorsement from MMDA and that the
person to talk to about it was Undersecretary Cesar
Lacuna. Mijares later met the latter through a common
friend. At their meeting, Mijares and Lacuna allegedly
agreed on what the latter would get for recommending
approval of the application. Later, Mijares said, he
gave the P500,000.00 to Lacuna through their common
friend on Lacunas instruction.
Mijares next alleged that, after he received the money,
Lacuna told him that the University filed an identical
application earlier on March 15, 2002. Mijares claimed
that the University deliberately withheld this fact from
him. Lacuna said that, because of the denial of that
prior application, he would have difficulty
recommending approval of the present application. It
appeared that Lacuna endorsed the previous
application to the Mayor of Manila on July 23, 2003
but the latter did not act on it.
Mijares finally alleged that he and Lacuna wanted to
bypass the Mayor of Manila in the paper work but they
were unable to arrive at a concrete plan. Mijares
claimed that the University gave him only P45,000.00
as his fees and that it was with the Universitys
conformity that he gave the P500,000.00 to Lacuna.
The IBP designated Atty. Dennis B. Funa as
Commissioner to conduct a formal investigation of the
complaint. Despite numerous settings, however,
Mijares failed to appear before the Commissioner and
adduce evidence in his defense.
On October 17, 2008 Commissioner Funa submitted
his Report and Recommendation1 in the case to the
Integrated Bar of the Phillippines Board of Governors.
The Report said that the University did not authorize
Mijares to give P500,000.00 to the then MMDA

Deputy Chairman Cesar Lacuna; that Mijares had been

unable to account for and return that money despite
repeated demands; and that he admitted under oath
having bribed a government official.
Commissioner Funa recommended a) that Mijares be
held guilty of violating Rules 1.01 and 1.02, Canon 15,
Rule 15.05, Canon 16, Rules 16.01 and 16.03, and
Canon 18, Rule 18.04 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and meted out the penalty of
disbarment; b) that he be ordered to return
the P500,000.00 and all the pertinent documents to the
University; and c) that Mijares sworn statement that
formed part of his Answer be endorsed to the Office of
the Ombudsman for investigation and, if warranted, for
prosecution with respect to his shady dealing with
Deputy Chairman Lacuna.
On December 11, 2008 the IBP Board of Governors
passed Resolution XVIII-2008-631, adopting and
approving the Investigating Commissioners
recommendation but modifying the penalty from
disbarment to indefinite suspension from the practice
of law and ordering Mijares to return the P500,000.00
and all pertinent documents to the University within
six months from receipt of the Courts decision.2
The Question Presented
The only question presented in this case is whether or
not respondent Mijares is guilty of misappropriating
theP500,000.00 that his client, the University,
entrusted to him for use in facilitating and processing
the titling of a property that it claimed.
The Courts Ruling
Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court
provides for the disbarment or suspension of a lawyer
for the following: (1) deceit; (2) malpractice; (3) gross

misconduct in office; (4) grossly immoral conduct; (5)

conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude; (6)
violation of the lawyers oath; (7) willful disobedience
of any lawful order of a superior court; and (8)
willfully appearing as an attorney for a party without
authority to do so.3
Every lawyer has the responsibility to protect and
advance the interests of his client such that he must
promptly account for whatever money or property his
client may have entrusted to him. As a mere trustee of
said money or property, he must hold them separate
from that of his own and make sure that they are used
for their intended purpose. If not used, he must return
the money or property immediately to his client upon
demand, otherwise the lawyer shall be presumed to
have misappropriated the same in violation of the trust
reposed on him.4 A lawyers conversion of funds
entrusted to him is a gross violation of professional
Here, respondent Mijares chose not to be heard on his
evidence. Technically, the only evidence on record that
the Court can consider is the Universitys evidence that
he got P500,000.00 from complainant for expenses in
facilitating and processing its title application; that he
undertook to return the money if he did not succeed in
his purpose; that he falsely claimed having obtained
the MMDA approval of the application; and that he
nonetheless refused to return the money despite
repeated demands. Unopposed, this evidence supports
the finding of guilt of the Investigating Commissioner
and the IBP Board of Governors.
Besides, even if the Court were to consider the defense
that Mijares laid out in his answer, the same does not
rouse sympathy. He claims that he gave
the P500,000.00 to Undersecretary Lacuna, with the
Universitys conformity, for a favorable MMDA
endorsement to the Mayor of Manila. He also claims

that, in a complete turnaround, Lacuna later said that

he could not provide the endorsement because, as it
turned out, the MMDA had previously given such
endorsement of the Universitys earlier application and
the Mayor of Manila did not act on that endorsement.
But, if this were so, there was no reason for Mijares
not to face the University and make it see that it had no
cause for complaint, having given him clearance to
pass on the P500,000.00 to Lacuna. Instead, Mijares
kept silent. He did not deny that the University went
all over town looking for him after he could not return
the money. Nor did he take any action to compel
Lacuna to hand back the money that the University
gave him. More, his not showing up to testify on his
behalf at the investigation of the case is a dead
giveaway of the lack of merit of his defense. No
evidence exists to temper the doom that he faces.
Even more unfortunate for Mijares, he admitted under
oath having bribed a government official to act
favorably on his clients application to acquire title to a
dried-up creek. That is quite dishonest. The Court is
not, therefore, inclined to let him off with the penalty
of indefinite suspension which is another way of
saying he can resume his practice after a time if he
returns the money and makes a promise to shape
The Court is also not inclined to go along with the
IBPs recommendation that the Court include in its
decision an order directing Mijares to return
the P500,000.00 that the University entrusted to him.
The University knowingly gave him that money to
spend for "facilitation" and processing. It is not nave.
There is no legitimate expense called "facilitation" fee.
This term is a deodorized word for bribe money. The
Court will not permit the conversion of a disbarment
proceeding into a remedy for recovering bribe money
lost in a bad deal.

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent

Leovigildo H. Mijares III, a member of the Bar,
GUILTY of violation of Rules 1.01 and 1.02, Canon
15, Rule 15.05, Canon 16, Rules 16.01 and 16.03, and
Canon 18, Rule 18.04 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and imposes on him the penalty of
DISBARMENT. He is, in addition, directed to return
to complainant Arellano University, Inc. all the
documents in his possession covering the titling matter
that it referred to him.
Let the sworn statement of respondent Mijares,
forming his Answer, be forwarded to the Office of the
Ombudsman for whatever action it deems proper under
the circumstances.

Republic of the Philippines


March 18, 1954

In the Matter of the Petitions for Admission to the

Bar of Unsuccessful Candidates of 1946 to 1953;
ALBINO CUNANAN, ET AL., petitioners.
Jose M. Aruego, M.H. de Joya, Miguel R. Cornejo,
and Antonio Enrile Inton for petitioners.
Office of the Solicitor General Juan R. Liwag for
In recent years few controversial issues have aroused
so much public interest and concern as Republic Act
No. 972, popularly known as the "Bar Flunkers' Act of
1953." Under the Rules of Court governing admission
to the bar, "in order that a candidate (for admission to
the Bar) may be deemed to have passed his
examinations successfully, he must have obtained a
general average of 75 per cent in all subjects, without
falling below 50 per cent in any subject." (Rule 127,
sec. 14, Rules of Court). Nevertheless, considering the
varying difficulties of the different bar examinations
held since 1946 and the varying degree of strictness
with which the examination papers were graded, this
court passed and admitted to the bar those candidates
who had obtained an average of only 72 per cent in
1946, 69 per cent in 1947, 70 per cent in 1948, and 74
per cent in 1949. In 1950 to 1953, the 74 per cent was
raised to 75 per cent.
Believing themselves as fully qualified to practice law
as those reconsidered and passed by this court, and
feeling conscious of having been discriminated against
(See Explanatory Note to R.A. No. 972), unsuccessful
candidates who obtained averages of a few percentage
lower than those admitted to the Bar agitated in

Congress for, and secured in 1951 the passage of

Senate Bill No. 12 which, among others, reduced the
passing general average in bar examinations to 70 per
cent effective since 1946. The President requested the
views of this court on the bill. Complying with that
request, seven members of the court subscribed to and
submitted written comments adverse thereto, and
shortly thereafter the President vetoed it. Congress did
not override the veto. Instead, it approved Senate Bill
No. 371, embodying substantially the provisions of the
vetoed bill. Although the members of this court
reiterated their unfavorable views on the matter, the
President allowed the bill to become a law on June 21,
1953 without his signature. The law, which
incidentally was enacted in an election year, reads in
full as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and
House of Representatives of the
Philippines in Congress assembled:
SECTION 1. Notwithstanding the provisions
of section fourteen, Rule numbered one
hundred twenty-seven of the Rules of Court,
any bar candidate who obtained a general
average of seventy per cent in any bar
examinations after July fourth, nineteen
hundred and forty-six up to the August
nineteen hundred and fifty-one bar
examinations; seventy-one per cent in the
nineteen hundred and fifty-two bar
examinations; seventy-two per cent in the in
the nineteen hundred and fifty-three bar
examinations; seventy-three per cent in the

nineteen hundred and fifty-four bar

examinations; seventy-four per cent in the
nineteen hundred and fifty-five bar
examinations without a candidate obtaining a
grade below fifty per cent in any subject, shall
be allowed to take and subscribe the
corresponding oath of office as member of the
Philippine Bar:Provided, however, That for
the purpose of this Act, any exact one-half or
more of a fraction, shall be considered as one
and included as part of the next whole
SEC. 2. Any bar candidate who obtained a
grade of seventy-five per cent in any subject
in any bar examination after July fourth,
nineteen hundred and forty-six shall be
deemed to have passed in such subject or
subjects and such grade or grades shall be
included in computing the passing general
average that said candidate may obtain in any
subsequent examinations that he may take.
SEC. 3. This Act shall take effect upon its
Enacted on June 21, 1953, without the
Executive approval.
After its approval, many of the unsuccessful postwar
candidates filed petitions for admission to the bar
invoking its provisions, while others whose motions
for the revision of their examination papers were still
pending also invoked the aforesaid law as an
additional ground for admission. There are also others
who have sought simply the reconsideration of their
grades without, however, invoking the law in question.
To avoid injustice to individual petitioners, the court
first reviewed the motions for reconsideration,
irrespective of whether or not they had invoked
Republic Act No. 972. Unfortunately, the court has
found no reason to revise their grades. If they are to be
admitted to the bar, it must be pursuant to Republic Act
No. 972 which, if declared valid, should be applied

equally to all concerned whether they have filed

petitions or not. A complete list of the petitioners,
properly classified, affected by this decision, as well as
a more detailed account of the history of Republic Act
No. 972, are appended to this decision as Annexes I
and II. And to realize more readily the effects of the
law, the following statistical data are set forth:
(1) The unsuccessful bar candidates who are to be
benefited by section 1 of Republic Act No. 972 total
1,168, classified as follows:

































Of the total 1,168 candidates, 92 have passed in

subsequent examination, and only 586 have filed either
motions for admission to the bar pursuant to said
Republic Act, or mere motions for reconsideration.
(2) In addition, some other 10 unsuccessful candidates
are to be benefited by section 2 of said Republic Act.
These candidates had each taken from two to five
different examinations, but failed to obtain a passing
average in any of them. Consolidating, however, their
highest grades in different subjects in previous
examinations, with their latest marks, they would be
sufficient to reach the passing average as provided for
by Republic Act No. 972.
(3) The total number of candidates to be benefited by
this Republic Acts is therefore 1,094, of which only
604 have filed petitions. Of these 604 petitioners, 33
who failed in 1946 to 1951 had individually presented
motions for reconsideration which were denied, while
125 unsuccessful candidates of 1952, and 56 of 1953,
had presented similar motions, which are still pending
because they could be favorably affected by Republic
Act No. 972, although as has been already stated,
this tribunal finds no sufficient reasons to reconsider
their grades
NO. 972
Having been called upon to enforce a law of farreaching effects on the practice of the legal profession
and the administration of justice, and because some
doubts have been expressed as to its validity, the court
set the hearing of the afore-mentioned petitions for
admission on the sole question of whether or not
Republic Act No. 972 is constitutional.
284 We have been enlightened in the study of this question
by the brilliant assistance of the members of the bar

who have amply argued, orally an in writing, on the

1,168 various aspects in which the question may be gleaned.
The valuable studies of Messrs. E. Voltaire Garcia,
Vicente J. Francisco, Vicente Pelaez and Buenaventura
Evangelista, in favor of the validity of the law, and of
the U.P. Women's Lawyers' Circle, the Solicitor
General, Messrs. Arturo A. Alafriz, Enrique M.
Fernando, Vicente Abad Santos, Carlos A. Barrios,
Vicente del Rosario, Juan de Blancaflor, Mamerto V.
Gonzales, and Roman Ozaeta against it, aside from the
memoranda of counsel for petitioners, Messrs. Jose M.
Aruego, M.H. de Joya, Miguel R. Cornejo and Antonio
Enrile Inton, and of petitioners Cabrera, Macasaet and
Galema themselves, has greatly helped us in this task.
The legal researchers of the court have exhausted
almost all Philippine and American jurisprudence on
the matter. The question has been the object of intense
deliberation for a long time by the Tribunal, and
finally, after the voting, the preparation of the majority
opinion was assigned to a new member in order to
place it as humanly as possible above all suspicion of
prejudice or partiality.
Republic Act No. 972 has for its object, according to
its author, to admit to the Bar, those candidates who
suffered from insufficiency of reading materials and
inadequate preparation. Quoting a portion of the
Explanatory Note of the proposed bill, its author
Honorable Senator Pablo Angeles David stated:
The reason for relaxing the standard 75 per
cent passing grade is the tremendous
handicap which students during the years
immediately after the Japanese occupation
has to overcome such as the insufficiency of
reading materials and the inadequacy of the
preparation of students who took up law soon
after the liberation.
Of the 9,675 candidates who took the examinations
from 1946 to 1952, 5,236 passed. And now it is
claimed that in addition 604 candidates be admitted
(which in reality total 1,094), because they suffered
from "insufficiency of reading materials" and of
"inadequacy of preparation."

By its declared objective, the law is contrary to public

interest because it qualifies 1,094 law graduates who
confessedly had inadequate preparation for the practice
of the profession, as was exactly found by this
Tribunal in the aforesaid examinations. The public
interest demands of legal profession adequate
preparation and efficiency, precisely more so as legal
problem evolved by the times become more difficult.
An adequate legal preparation is one of the vital
requisites for the practice of law that should be
developed constantly and maintained firmly. To the
legal profession is entrusted the protection of property,
life, honor and civil liberties. To approve officially of
those inadequately prepared individuals to dedicate
themselves to such a delicate mission is to create a
serious social danger. Moreover, the statement that
there was an insufficiency of legal reading materials is
grossly exaggerated. There were abundant materials.
Decisions of this court alone in mimeographed copies
were made available to the public during those years
and private enterprises had also published them in
monthly magazines and annual digests. The Official
Gazette had been published continuously. Books and
magazines published abroad have entered without
restriction since 1945. Many law books, some even
with revised and enlarged editions have been printed
locally during those periods. A new set of Philippine
Reports began to be published since 1946, which
continued to be supplemented by the addition of new
volumes. Those are facts of public knowledge.
Notwithstanding all these, if the law in question is
valid, it has to be enforced.
The question is not new in its fundamental aspect or
from the point of view of applicable principles, but the
resolution of the question would have been easier had
an identical case of similar background been picked
out from the jurisprudence we daily consult. Is there
any precedent in the long Anglo-Saxon legal history,
from which has been directly derived the judicial
system established here with its lofty ideals by the
Congress of the United States, and which we have
preserved and attempted to improve, or in our
contemporaneous judicial history of more than half a
century? From the citations of those defending the law,

we can not find a case in which the validity of a

similar law had been sustained, while those against its
validity cite, among others, the cases of Day (In
re Day, 54 NE 646), of Cannon (State vs. Cannon, 240
NW, 441), the opinion of the Supreme Court of
Massachusetts in 1932 (81 ALR 1061), of Guaria (24
Phil., 37), aside from the opinion of the President
which is expressed in his vote of the original bill and
which the postponement of the contested law respects.
This law has no precedent in its favor. When similar
laws in other countries had been promulgated, the
judiciary immediately declared them without force or
effect. It is not within our power to offer a precedent to
uphold the disputed law.
To be exact, we ought to state here that we have
examined carefully the case that has been cited to us as
a favorable precedent of the law that of Cooper (22
NY, 81), where the Court of Appeals of New York
revoked the decision of the Supreme court of that
State, denying the petition of Cooper to be admitted to
the practice of law under the provisions of a statute
concerning the school of law of Columbia College
promulgated on April 7, 1860, which was declared by
the Court of Appeals to be consistent with the
Constitution of the state of New York.
It appears that the Constitution of New York at that
time provided:
They (i.e., the judges) shall not hold any other
office of public trust. All votes for either of
them for any elective office except that of the
Court of Appeals, given by the Legislature or
the people, shall be void. They shall not
exercise any power of appointment to public
office. Any male citizen of the age of twentyone years, of good moral character, and who
possesses the requisite qualifications of
learning and ability, shall be entitled to
admission to practice in all the courts of this
State. (p. 93).

According to the Court of Appeals, the object of the

constitutional precept is as follows:
Attorneys, solicitors, etc., were public
officers; the power of appointing them had
previously rested with the judges, and this
was the principal appointing power which
they possessed. The convention was evidently
dissatisfied with the manner in which this
power had been exercised, and with the
restrictions which the judges had imposed
upon admission to practice before them. The
prohibitory clause in the section quoted was
aimed directly at this power, and the insertion
of the provision" expecting the admission of
attorneys, in this particular section of the
Constitution, evidently arose from its
connection with the object of this prohibitory
clause. There is nothing indicative of
confidence in the courts or of a disposition to
preserve any portion of their power over this
subject, unless the Supreme Court is right in
the inference it draws from the use of the
word `admission' in the action referred to. It is
urged that the admission spoken of must be
by the court; that to admit means to grant
leave, and that the power of granting
necessarily implies the power of refusing, and
of course the right of determining whether the
applicant possesses the requisite
qualifications to entitle him to admission.
These positions may all be conceded, without
affecting the validity of the act. (p. 93.)
Now, with respect to the law of April 7, 1860, the
decision seems to indicate that it provided that the
possession of a diploma of the school of law of
Columbia College conferring the degree of Bachelor of
Laws was evidence of the legal qualifications that the
constitution required of applicants for admission to the
Bar. The decision does not however quote the text of
the law, which we cannot find in any public or
accessible private library in the country.

In the case of Cooper, supra, to make the law

consistent with the Constitution of New York, the
Court of Appeals said of the object of the law:

determine the present condition of the law on

the subject. (p.89)

The motive for passing the act in question is

apparent. Columbia College being an
institution of established reputation, and
having a law department under the charge of
able professors, the students in which
department were not only subjected to a
formal examination by the law committee of
the institution, but to a certain definite period
of study before being entitled to a diploma of
being graduates, the Legislature evidently,
and no doubt justly, considered this
examination, together with the preliminary
study required by the act, as fully equivalent
as a test of legal requirements, to the ordinary
examination by the court; and as rendering
the latter examination, to which no definite
period of preliminary study was essential,
unnecessary and burdensome.
The act was obviously passed with reference
to the learning and ability of the applicant,
and for the mere purpose of substituting the
examination by the law committee of the
college for that of the court. It could have had
no other object, and hence no greater scope
should be given to its provisions. We cannot
suppose that the Legislature designed entirely
to dispense with the plain and explicit
requirements of the Constitution; and the act
contains nothing whatever to indicate an
intention that the authorities of the college
should inquire as to the age, citizenship, etc.,
of the students before granting a diploma. The
only rational interpretation of which the act
admits is, that it was intended to make the
college diploma competent evidence as to the
legal attainments of the applicant, and nothing
else. To this extent alone it operates as a
modification of pre-existing statutes, and it is
to be read in connection with these statutes
and with the Constitution itself in order to



The Legislature has not taken from the court

its jurisdiction over the question of admission,
that has simply prescribed what shall be
competent evidence in certain cases upon that
question. (p.93)
From the foregoing, the complete inapplicability of the
case of Cooper with that at bar may be clearly seen.
Please note only the following distinctions:
(1) The law of New York does not require that any
candidate of Columbia College who failed in the bar
examinations be admitted to the practice of law.
(2) The law of New York according to the very
decision of Cooper, has not taken from the court its
jurisdiction over the question of admission of attorney
at law; in effect, it does not decree the admission of
any lawyer.
(3) The Constitution of New York at that time and that
of the Philippines are entirely different on the matter of
admission of the practice of law.
In the judicial system from which ours has been
evolved, the admission, suspension, disbarment and
reinstatement of attorneys at law in the practice of the
profession and their supervision have been disputably
a judicial function and responsibility. Because of this
attribute, its continuous and zealous possession and
exercise by the judicial power have been demonstrated
during more than six centuries, which certainly
"constitutes the most solid of titles." Even considering
the power granted to Congress by our Constitution to
repeal, alter supplement the rules promulgated by this
Court regarding the admission to the practice of law, to
our judgment and proposition that the admission,
suspension, disbarment and reinstatement of the
attorneys at law is a legislative function, properly
belonging to Congress, is unacceptable. The function

requires (1) previously established rules and principles,

(2) concrete facts, whether past or present, affecting
determinate individuals. and (3) decision as to whether
these facts are governed by the rules and principles; in
effect, a judicial function of the highest degree. And it
becomes more undisputably judicial, and not
legislative, if previous judicial resolutions on the
petitions of these same individuals are attempted to be
revoked or modified.
We have said that in the judicial system from which
ours has been derived, the act of admitting,
suspending, disbarring and reinstating attorneys at law
in the practice of the profession is concededly judicial.
A comprehensive and conscientious study of this
matter had been undertaken in the case of State vs.
Cannon (1932) 240 NW 441, in which the validity of a
legislative enactment providing that Cannon be
permitted to practice before the courts was discussed.
From the text of this decision we quote the following
This statute presents an assertion of
legislative power without parallel in the
history of the English speaking people so far
as we have been able to ascertain. There has
been much uncertainty as to the extent of the
power of the Legislature to prescribe the
ultimate qualifications of attorney at law has
been expressly committed to the courts, and
the act of admission has always been regarded
as a judicial function. This act purports to
constitute Mr. Cannon an attorney at law, and
in this respect it stands alone as an assertion
of legislative power. (p. 444)
Under the Constitution all legislative power is
vested in a Senate and Assembly. (Section 1,
art. 4.) In so far as the prescribing of
qualifications for admission to the bar are
legislative in character, the Legislature is
acting within its constitutional authority when
it sets up and prescribes such qualifications.
(p. 444)

But when the Legislature has prescribed those

qualifications which in its judgment will
serve the purpose of legitimate legislative
solicitude, is the power of the court to impose
other and further exactions and qualifications
foreclosed or exhausted? (p. 444)
Under our Constitution the judicial and
legislative departments are distinct,
independent, and coordinate branches of the
government. Neither branch enjoys all the
powers of sovereignty which properly
belongs to its department. Neither department
should so act as to embarrass the other in the
discharge of its respective functions. That was
the scheme and thought of the people setting
upon the form of government under which we
exist. State vs. Hastings, 10 Wis., 525;
Attorney General ex rel. Bashford vs.
Barstow, 4 Wis., 567. (p. 445)
The judicial department of government is
responsible for the plane upon which the
administration of justice is maintained. Its
responsibility in this respect is exclusive. By
committing a portion of the powers of
sovereignty to the judicial department of our
state government, under 42a scheme which it
was supposed rendered it immune from
embarrassment or interference by any other
department of government, the courts cannot
escape responsibility fir the manner in which
the powers of sovereignty thus committed to
the judicial department are exercised. (p. 445)
The relation at the bar to the courts is a
peculiar and intimate relationship. The bar is
an attache of the courts. The quality of justice
dispense by the courts depends in no small
degree upon the integrity of its bar. An
unfaithful bar may easily bring scandal and
reproach to the administration of justice and
bring the courts themselves into disrepute.

Through all time courts have exercised a

direct and severe supervision over their bars,
at least in the English speaking countries. (p.
After explaining the history of the case, the Court ends
Our conclusion may be epitomized as
follows: For more than six centuries prior to
the adoption of our Constitution, the courts of
England, concededly subordinate to
Parliament since the Revolution of 1688, had
exercise the right of determining who should
be admitted to the practice of law, which, as
was said in Matter of the Sergeant's at Law, 6
Bingham's New Cases 235, "constitutes the
most solid of all titles." If the courts and
judicial power be regarded as an entity, the
power to determine who should be admitted
to practice law is a constituent element of that
entity. It may be difficult to isolate that
element and say with assurance that it is
either a part of the inherent power of the
court, or an essential element of the judicial
power exercised by the court, but that it is a
power belonging to the judicial entity and
made of not only a sovereign institution, but
made of it a separate independent, and
coordinate branch of the government. They
took this institution along with the power
traditionally exercise to determine who
should constitute its attorney at law. There is
no express provision in the Constitution
which indicates an intent that this traditional
power of the judicial department should in
any manner be subject to legislative control.
Perhaps the dominant thought of the framers
of our constitution was to make the three
great departments of government separate and
independent of one another. The idea that the
Legislature might embarrass the judicial
department by prescribing inadequate
qualifications for attorneys at law is
inconsistent with the dominant purpose of
making the judicial independent of the

legislative department, and such a purpose

should not be inferred in the absence of
express constitutional provisions. While the
legislature may legislate with respect to the
qualifications of attorneys, but is incidental
merely to its general and unquestioned power
to protect the public interest. When it does
legislate a fixing a standard of qualifications
required of attorneys at law in order that
public interests may be protected, such
qualifications do not constitute only a
minimum standard and limit the class from
which the court must make its selection. Such
legislative qualifications do not constitute the
ultimate qualifications beyond which the
court cannot go in fixing additional
qualifications deemed necessary by the course
of the proper administration of judicial
functions. There is no legislative power to
compel courts to admit to their bars persons
deemed by them unfit to exercise the
prerogatives of an attorney at law. (p. 450)
Furthermore, it is an unlawful attempt to
exercise the power of appointment. It is quite
likely true that the legislature may exercise
the power of appointment when it is in
pursuance of a legislative functions. However,
the authorities are well-nigh unanimous that
the power to admit attorneys to the practice of
law is a judicial function. In all of the states,
except New Jersey (In re Reisch, 83 N.J. Eq.
82, 90 A. 12), so far as our investigation
reveals, attorneys receive their formal license
to practice law by their admission as members
of the bar of the court so admitting. Cor. Jur.
572; Ex parte Secombre, 19 How. 9,15 L. Ed.
565;Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall. 333, 18 L. Ed.
366; Randall vs. Brigham, 7 Wall. 53, 19 L.
Ed. 285; Hanson vs. Grattan, 48 Kan, 843,
115 P. 646, 34 L.R.A. 519; Danforth vs. Egan,
23 S. D. 43, 119 N.W. 1021, 130 Am. St. Rep.
1030, 20 Ann. Cas. 413.
The power of admitting an attorney to
practice having been perpetually exercised by

the courts, it having been so generally held

that the act of the court in admitting an
attorney to practice is the judgment of the
court, and an attempt as this on the part of the
Legislature to confer such right upon any one
being most exceedingly uncommon, it seems
clear that the licensing of an attorney is and
always has been a purely judicial function, no
matter where the power to determine the
qualifications may reside. (p. 451)
In that same year of 1932, the Supreme Court of
Massachusetts, in answering a consultation of the
Senate of that State, 180 NE 725, said:
It is indispensible to the administration of
justice and to interpretation of the laws that
there be members of the bar of sufficient
ability, adequate learning and sound moral
character. This arises from the need of
enlightened assistance to the honest, and
restraining authority over the knavish,
litigant. It is highly important, also that the
public be protected from incompetent and
vicious practitioners, whose opportunity for
doing mischief is wide. It was said by Cardoz,
C.L., in People ex rel. Karlin vs. Culkin, 242
N.Y. 456, 470, 471, 162 N.E. 487, 489, 60
A.L.R. 851: "Membership in the bar is a
privilege burden with conditions." One is
admitted to the bar "for something more than
private gain." He becomes an "officer of the
court", and ,like the court itself, an instrument
or agency to advance the end of justice. His
cooperation with the court is due "whenever
justice would be imperiled if cooperation was
withheld." Without such attorneys at law the
judicial department of government would be
hampered in the performance of its duties.
That has been the history of attorneys under
the common law, both in this country and
England. Admission to practice as an attorney
at law is almost without exception conceded
to be a judicial function. Petition to that end is
filed in courts, as are other proceedings
invoking judicial action. Admission to the bar

is accomplish and made open and notorious

by a decision of the court entered upon its
records. The establishment by the
Constitution of the judicial department
conferred authority necessary to the exercise
of its powers as a coordinate department of
government. It is an inherent power of such a
department of government ultimately to
determine the qualifications of those to be
admitted to practice in its courts, for assisting
in its work, and to protect itself in this respect
from the unfit, those lacking in sufficient
learning, and those not possessing good moral
character. Chief Justice Taney stated
succinctly and with finality in Ex
parte Secombe, 19 How. 9, 13, 15 L. Ed. 565,
"It has been well settled, by the rules and
practice of common-law courts, that it rests
exclusively with the court to determine who is
qualified to become one of its officers, as an
attorney and counselor, and for what cause he
ought to be removed." (p.727)
In the case of Day and others who collectively filed a
petition to secure license to practice the legal
profession by virtue of a law of state (In re Day, 54 NE
646), the court said in part:
In the case of Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall, 333,
18 L. Ed. 366, the court, holding the test oath
for attorneys to be unconstitutional, explained
the nature of the attorney's office as follows:
"They are officers of the court, admitted as
such by its order, upon evidence of their
possessing sufficient legal learning and fair
private character. It has always been the
general practice in this country to obtain this
evidence by an examination of the parties. In
this court the fact of the admission of such
officers in the highest court of the states to
which they, respectively, belong for, three
years preceding their application, is regarded
as sufficient evidence of the possession of the
requisite legal learning, and the statement of
counsel moving their admission sufficient
evidence that their private and professional

character is fair. The order of admission is the

judgment of the court that the parties possess
the requisite qualifications as attorneys and
counselors, and are entitled to appear as such
and conduct causes therein. From its entry the
parties become officers of the court, and are
responsible to it for professional misconduct.
They hold their office during good behavior,
and can only be deprived of it for misconduct
ascertained and declared by the judgment of
the court after opportunity to be heard has
been afforded. Ex parte Hoyfron, admission
or their exclusion is not the exercise of a mere
ministerial power. It is the exercise of judicial
power, and has been so held in numerous
cases. It was so held by the court of appeals
of New York in the matter of the application
of Cooper for admission. Re Cooper 22 N. Y.
81. "Attorneys and Counselors", said that
court, "are not only officers of the court, but
officers whose duties relate almost
exclusively to proceedings of a judicial
nature; and hence their appointment may,
with propriety, be entrusted to the court, and
the latter, in performing his duty, may very
justly considered as engaged in the exercise
of their appropriate judicial functions." (pp.
We quote from other cases, the following pertinent
Admission to practice of law is almost
without exception conceded everywhere to be
the exercise of a judicial function, and this
opinion need not be burdened with citations
in this point. Admission to practice have also
been held to be the exercise of one of the
inherent powers of the court. Re Bruen,
102 Wash. 472, 172 Pac. 906.
Admission to the practice of law is the
exercise of a judicial function, and is an
inherent power of the court. A.C.
Brydonjack, vs. State Bar of California, 281
Pac. 1018; See Annotation on Power of

Legislature respecting admission to bar, 65,

A.L. R. 1512.
On this matter there is certainly a clear distinction
between the functions of the judicial and legislative
departments of the government.
The distinction between the functions of the
legislative and the judicial departments is that
it is the province of the legislature to establish
rules that shall regulate and govern in matters
of transactions occurring subsequent to the
legislative action, while the judiciary
determines rights and obligations with
reference to transactions that are past or
conditions that exist at the time of the
exercise of judicial power, and the distinction
is a vital one and not subject to alteration or
change either by legislative action or by
judicial decree.
The judiciary cannot consent that its province
shall be invaded by either of the other
departments of the government. 16 C.J.S.,
Constitutional Law, p. 229.
If the legislature cannot thus indirectly
control the action of the courts by requiring of
them construction of the law according to its
own views, it is very plain it cannot do so
directly, by settling aside their judgments,
compelling them to grant new trials, ordering
the discharge of offenders, or directing what
particular steps shall be taken in the progress
of a judicial inquiry. Cooley's
Constitutional Limitations, 192.
In decreeing the bar candidates who obtained in the bar
examinations of 1946 to 1952, a general average of 70
per cent without falling below 50 per cent in any
subject, be admitted in mass to the practice of law, the
disputed law is not a legislation; it is a judgment a
judgment revoking those promulgated by this Court
during the aforecited year affecting the bar candidates
concerned; and although this Court certainly can

revoke these judgments even now, for justifiable

reasons, it is no less certain that only this Court, and
not the legislative nor executive department, that may
be so. Any attempt on the part of any of these
departments would be a clear usurpation of its
functions, as is the case with the law in question.
That the Constitution has conferred on Congress the
power to repeal, alter or supplement the rule
promulgated by this Tribunal, concerning the
admission to the practice of law, is no valid argument.
Section 13, article VIII of the Constitution provides:
Section 13. The Supreme Court shall have the
power to promulgate rules concerning
pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts,
and the admission to the practice of law. Said
rules shall be uniform for all courts of the
same grade and shall not diminish, increase or
modify substantive rights. The existing laws
on pleading, practice and procedure are
hereby repealed as statutes, and are declared
Rules of Court, subject to the power of the
Supreme Court to alter and modify the same.
The Congress shall have the power to repeal,
alter, or supplement the rules concerning
pleading, practice, and procedure, and the
admission to the practice of law in the
Philippines. Constitution of the
Philippines, Art. VIII, sec. 13.
It will be noted that the Constitution has not conferred
on Congress and this Tribunal equal responsibilities
concerning the admission to the practice of law. the
primary power and responsibility which the
Constitution recognizes continue to reside in this
Court. Had Congress found that this Court has not
promulgated any rule on the matter, it would have
nothing over which to exercise the power granted to it.
Congress may repeal, alter and supplement the rules
promulgated by this Court, but the authority and
responsibility over the admission, suspension,
disbarment and reinstatement of attorneys at law and
their supervision remain vested in the Supreme Court.
The power to repeal, alter and supplement the rules
does not signify nor permit that Congress substitute or

take the place of this Tribunal in the exercise of its

primary power on the matter. The Constitution does
not say nor mean that Congress may admit, suspend,
disbar or reinstate directly attorneys at law, or a
determinate group of individuals to the practice of law.
Its power is limited to repeal, modify or supplement
the existing rules on the matter, if according to its
judgment the need for a better service of the legal
profession requires it. But this power does not relieve
this Court of its responsibility to admit, suspend,
disbar and reinstate attorneys at law and supervise the
practice of the legal profession.
Being coordinate and independent branches, the power
to promulgate and enforce rules for the admission to
the practice of law and the concurrent power to repeal,
alter and supplement them may and should be
exercised with the respect that each owes to the other,
giving careful consideration to the responsibility which
the nature of each department requires. These powers
have existed together for centuries without diminution
on each part; the harmonious delimitation being found
in that the legislature may and should examine if the
existing rules on the admission to the Bar respond to
the demands which public interest requires of a Bar
endowed with high virtues, culture, training and
responsibility. The legislature may, by means of
appeal, amendment or supplemental rules, fill up any
deficiency that it may find, and the judicial power,
which has the inherent responsibility for a good and
efficient administration of justice and the supervision
of the practice of the legal profession, should consider
these reforms as the minimum standards for the
elevation of the profession, and see to it that with these
reforms the lofty objective that is desired in the
exercise of its traditional duty of admitting,
suspending, disbarring and reinstating attorneys at law
is realized. They are powers which, exercise within
their proper constitutional limits, are not repugnant,
but rather complementary to each other in attaining the
establishment of a Bar that would respond to the
increasing and exacting necessities of the
administration of justice.
The case of Guaria (1913) 24 Phil., 37, illustrates our
criterion. Guaria took examination and failed by a

few points to obtain the general average. A recently

enacted law provided that one who had been appointed
to the position of Fiscal may be admitted to the
practice of law without a previous examination. The
Government appointed Guaria and he discharged the
duties of Fiscal in a remote province. This tribunal
refused to give his license without previous
examinations. The court said:
Relying upon the provisions of section 2 of
Act No. 1597, the applicant in this case seeks
admission to the bar, without taking the
prescribed examination, on the ground that he
holds the office of provincial fiscal for the
Province of Batanes.
Section 2 of Act No. 1597, enacted February
28, 1907, is as follows:
Sec. 2. Paragraph one of section thirteen of
Act Numbered One Hundred and ninety,
entitled "An Act providing a Code of
Procedure in Civil Actions and Special
Proceedings in the Philippine Islands," is
hereby amended to read as follows:
1. Those who have been duly licensed under
the laws and orders of the Islands under the
sovereignty of Spain or of the United States
and are in good and regular standing as
members of the bar of the Philippine Islands
at the time of the adoption of this
code; Provided, That any person who, prior to
the passage of this act, or at any time
thereafter, shall have held, under the authority
of the United States, the position of justice of
the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of First
Instance, or judge or associate judge of the
Court of Land Registration, of the Philippine
Islands, or the position of Attorney General,
Solicitor General, Assistant Attorney General,
assistant attorney in the office of the Attorney
General, prosecuting attorney for the City of
Manila, city attorney of Manila, assistant city
attorney of Manila, provincial fiscal, attorney
for the Moro Province, or assistant attorney

for the Moro Province, may be licensed to

practice law in the courts of the Philippine
Islands without an examination, upon motion
before the Supreme Court and establishing
such fact to the satisfaction of said court.
The records of this court disclose that on a
former occasion this appellant took, and
failed to pass the prescribed examination. The
report of the examining board, dated March
23, 1907, shows that he received an average
of only 71 per cent in the various branches of
legal learning upon which he was examined,
thus falling four points short of the required
percentage of 75. We would be delinquent in
the performance of our duty to the public and
to the bar, if, in the face of this affirmative
indication of the deficiency of the applicant in
the required qualifications of learning in the
law at the time when he presented his former
application for admission to the bar, we
should grant him license to practice law in the
courts of these Islands, without first satisfying
ourselves that despite his failure to pass the
examination on that occasion, he now
"possesses the necessary qualifications of
learning and ability."
But it is contented that under the provisions
of the above-cited statute the applicant is
entitled as of right to be admitted to the bar
without taking the prescribed examination
"upon motion before the Supreme Court"
accompanied by satisfactory proof that he has
held and now holds the office of provincial
fiscal of the Province of Batanes. It is urged
that having in mind the object which the
legislator apparently sought to attain in
enacting the above-cited amendment to the
earlier statute, and in view of the context
generally and especially of the fact that the
amendment was inserted as a proviso in that
section of the original Act which specifically
provides for the admission of certain
candidates without examination. It is
contented that this mandatory construction is

imperatively required in order to give effect

to the apparent intention of the legislator, and
to the candidate's claim de jure to have the
power exercised.
And after copying article 9 of Act of July 1, 1902 of
the Congress of the United States, articles 2, 16 and 17
of Act No. 136, and articles 13 to 16 of Act 190, the
Court continued:
Manifestly, the jurisdiction thus conferred
upon this court by the commission and
confirmed to it by the Act of Congress would
be limited and restricted, and in a case such as
that under consideration wholly destroyed, by
giving the word "may," as used in the above
citation from Act of Congress of July 1, 1902,
or of any Act of Congress prescribing,
defining or limiting the power conferred upon
the commission is to that extent invalid and
void, as transcending its rightful limits and
Speaking on the application of the law to those who
were appointed to the positions enumerated, and with
particular emphasis in the case of Guaria, the Court
In the various cases wherein applications for
the admission to the bar under the provisions
of this statute have been considered
heretofore, we have accepted the fact that
such appointments had been made as
satisfactory evidence of the qualifications of
the applicant. But in all of those cases we had
reason to believe that the applicants had been
practicing attorneys prior to the date of their
In the case under consideration, however, it
affirmatively appears that the applicant was
not and never had been practicing attorney in
this or any other jurisdiction prior to the date
of his appointment as provincial fiscal, and it
further affirmatively appears that he was

deficient in the required qualifications at the

time when he last applied for admission to the
In the light of this affirmative proof of his
defieciency on that occasion, we do not think
that his appointment to the office of
provincial fiscal is in itself satisfactory proof
if his possession of the necessary
qualifications of learning and ability. We
conclude therefore that this application for
license to practice in the courts of the
Philippines, should be denied.
In view, however, of the fact that when he
took the examination he fell only four points
short of the necessary grade to entitle him to a
license to practice; and in view also of the
fact that since that time he has held the
responsible office of the governor of the
Province of Sorsogon and presumably gave
evidence of such marked ability in the
performance of the duties of that office that
the Chief Executive, with the consent and
approval of the Philippine Commission,
sought to retain him in the Government
service by appointing him to the office of
provincial fiscal, we think we would be
justified under the above-cited provisions of
Act No. 1597 in waiving in his case the
ordinary examination prescribed by general
rule, provided he offers satisfactory evidence
of his proficiency in a special examination
which will be given him by a committee of
the court upon his application therefor,
without prejudice to his right, if he desires so
to do, to present himself at any of the
ordinary examinations prescribed by general
rule. (In re Guaria, pp. 48-49.)
It is obvious, therefore, that the ultimate power to grant
license for the practice of law belongs exclusively to
this Court, and the law passed by Congress on the
matter is of permissive character, or as other
authorities say, merely to fix the minimum conditions
for the license.

The law in question, like those in the case of Day and

Cannon, has been found also to suffer from the fatal
defect of being a class legislation, and that if it has
intended to make a classification, it is arbitrary and
In the case of Day, a law enacted on February 21, 1899
required of the Supreme Court, until December 31 of
that year, to grant license for the practice of law to
those students who began studying before November
4, 1897, and had studied for two years and presented a
diploma issued by a school of law, or to those who had
studied in a law office and would pass an examination,
or to those who had studied for three years if they
commenced their studies after the aforementioned
date. The Supreme Court declared that this law was
unconstitutional being, among others, a class
legislation. The Court said:
This is an application to this court for
admission to the bar of this state by virtue of
diplomas from law schools issued to the
applicants. The act of the general assembly
passed in 1899, under which the application is
made, is entitled "An act to amend section 1
of an act entitled "An act to revise the law in
relation to attorneys and counselors,"
approved March 28, 1884, in force July 1,
1874." The amendment, so far as it appears in
the enacting clause, consists in the addition to
the section of the following: "And every
application for a license who shall comply
with the rules of the supreme court in regard
to admission to the bar in force at the time
such applicant commend the study of law,
either in a law or office or a law school or
college, shall be granted a license under this
act notwithstanding any subsequent changes
in said rules". In re Day et al, 54 N.Y., p.
. . . After said provision there is a double
proviso, one branch of which is that up to
December 31, 1899, this court shall grant a
license of admittance to the bar to the holder
of every diploma regularly issued by any law

school regularly organized under the laws of

this state, whose regular course of law studies
is two years, and requiring an attendance by
the student of at least 36 weeks in each of
such years, and showing that the student
began the study of law prior to November 4,
1897, and accompanied with the usual proofs
of good moral character. The other branch of
the proviso is that any student who has
studied law for two years in a law office, or
part of such time in a law office, "and part in
the aforesaid law school," and whose course
of study began prior to November 4, 1897,
shall be admitted upon a satisfactory
examination by the examining board in the
branches now required by the rules of this
court. If the right to admission exists at all, it
is by virtue of the proviso, which, it is
claimed, confers substantial rights and
privileges upon the persons named therein,
and establishes rules of legislative creation
for their admission to the bar. (p. 647.)
Considering the proviso, however, as an
enactment, it is clearly a special legislation,
prohibited by the constitution, and invalid as
such. If the legislature had any right to admit
attorneys to practice in the courts and take
part in the administration of justice, and could
prescribe the character of evidence which
should be received by the court as conclusive
of the requisite learning and ability of persons
to practice law, it could only be done by a
general law, persons or classes of persons.
Const. art 4, section 2. The right to practice
law is a privilege, and a license for that
purpose makes the holder an officer of the
court, and confers upon him the right to
appear for litigants, to argue causes, and to
collect fees therefor, and creates certain
exemptions, such as from jury services and
arrest on civil process while attending court.
The law conferring such privileges must be
general in its operation. No doubt the
legislature, in framing an enactment for that
purpose, may classify persons so long as the

law establishing classes in general, and has

some reasonable relation to the end sought.
There must be some difference which
furnishes a reasonable basis for different one,
having no just relation to the subject of the
legislation. Braceville Coal Co. vs. People,
147 Ill. 66, 35 N.E. 62; Ritchie vs. People,
155 Ill. 98, 40 N.E. 454; Railroad Co. vs.
Ellis, 165 U.S. 150, 17 Sup. Ct. 255.
The length of time a physician has practiced,
and the skill acquired by experience, may
furnish a basis for classification (Williams vs.
People 121 Ill. 48, II N.E. 881); but the place
where such physician has resided and
practiced his profession cannot furnish such
basis, and is an arbitrary discrimination,
making an enactment based upon it void
(State vs. Pennyeor, 65 N.E. 113, 18 Atl. 878).
Here the legislature undertakes to say what
shall serve as a test of fitness for the
profession of the law, and plainly, any
classification must have some reference to
learning, character, or ability to engage in
such practice. The proviso is limited, first, to
a class of persons who began the study of law
prior to November 4, 1897. This class is
subdivided into two classes First, those
presenting diplomas issued by any law school
of this state before December 31, 1899; and,
second, those who studied law for the period
of two years in a law office, or part of the
time in a law school and part in a law office,
who are to be admitted upon examination in
the subjects specified in the present rules of
this court, and as to this latter subdivision
there seems to be no limit of time for making
application for admission. As to both classes,
the conditions of the rules are dispensed with,
and as between the two different conditions
and limits of time are fixed. No course of
study is prescribed for the law school, but a
diploma granted upon the completion of any
sort of course its managers may prescribe is
made all-sufficient. Can there be anything
with relation to the qualifications or fitness of

persons to practice law resting upon the mere

date of November 4, 1897, which will furnish
a basis of classification. Plainly not. Those
who began the study of law November 4th
could qualify themselves to practice in two
years as well as those who began on the 3rd.
The classes named in the proviso need spend
only two years in study, while those who
commenced the next day must spend three
years, although they would complete two
years before the time limit. The one who
commenced on the 3rd. If possessed of a
diploma, is to be admitted without
examination before December 31, 1899, and
without any prescribed course of study, while
as to the other the prescribed course must be
pursued, and the diploma is utterly useless.
Such classification cannot rest upon any
natural reason, or bear any just relation to the
subject sought, and none is suggested. The
proviso is for the sole purpose of bestowing
privileges upon certain defined persons. (pp.
In the case of Cannon above cited, State vs. Cannon,
240 N.W. 441, where the legislature attempted by law
to reinstate Cannon to the practice of law, the court
also held with regards to its aspect of being a class
But the statute is invalid for another reason. If
it be granted that the legislature has power to
prescribe ultimately and definitely the
qualifications upon which courts must admit
and license those applying as attorneys at law,
that power can not be exercised in the manner
here attempted. That power must be exercised
through general laws which will apply to all
alike and accord equal opportunity to all.
Speaking of the right of the Legislature to
exact qualifications of those desiring to
pursue chosen callings, Mr. Justice Field in
the case of Dent. vs. West Virginia, 129 U.S.
114, 121, 9 S. Ct. 232, 233, 32 L. Ed. 626,
said: "It is undoubtedly the right of every
citizen of the United States to follow any

lawful calling, business or profession he may

choose, subject only to such restrictions as are
imposed upon all persons of like age, sex, and
condition." This right may in many respects
be considered as a distinguishing feature of
our republican institutions. Here all vocations
are all open to every one on like conditions.
All may be pursued as sources of livelihood,
some requiring years of study and great
learning for their successful prosecution. The
interest, or, as it is sometimes termed, the
"estate" acquired in them that is, the right
to continue their prosecution is often of
great value to the possessors and cannot be
arbitrarily taken from them, any more than
their real or personal property can be thus
taken. It is fundamental under our system of
government that all similarly situated and
possessing equal qualifications shall enjoy
equal opportunities. Even statutes regulating
the practice of medicine, requiring
medications to establish the possession on the
part of the application of his proper
qualifications before he may be licensed to
practice, have been challenged, and courts
have seriously considered whether the
exemption from such examinations of those
practicing in the state at the time of the
enactment of the law rendered such law
unconstitutional because of infringement
upon this general principle. State vs. Thomas
Call, 121 N.C. 643, 28 S.E. 517; see, also,
The State ex rel. Winkler vs. Rosenberg, 101
Wis. 172, 76 N.W. 345; State vs. Whitcom,
122 Wis. 110, 99 N.W. 468.
This law singles out Mr. Cannon and assumes
to confer upon him the right to practice law
and to constitute him an officer of this Court
as a mere matter of legislative grace or favor.
It is not material that he had once established
his right to practice law and that one time he
possessed the requisite learning and other
qualifications to entitle him to that right. That
fact in no matter affect the power of the
Legislature to select from the great body of

the public an individual upon whom it would

confer its favors.
A statute of the state of Minnesota (Laws
1929, c. 424) commanded the Supreme Court
to admit to the practice of law without
examination, all who had served in the
military or naval forces of the United States
during the World War and received a
honorable discharge therefrom and who (were
disabled therein or thereby within the purview
of the Act of Congress approved June 7th,
1924, known as "World War Veteran's Act,
1924 and whose disability is rated at least ten
per cent thereunder at the time of the passage
of this Act." This Act was held |
unconstitutional on the ground that it clearly
violated the quality clauses of the constitution
of that state. In re Application of George W.
Humphrey, 178 Minn. 331, 227 N.W. 179.
A good summary of a classification constitutionally
acceptable is explained in 12 Am. Jur. 151-153 as
The general rule is well settled by unanimity
of the authorities that a classification to be
valid must rest upon material differences
between the person included in it and those
excluded and, furthermore, must be based
upon substantial distinctions. As the rule has
sometimes avoided the constitutional
prohibition, must be founded upon pertinent
and real differences, as distinguished from
irrelevant and artificial ones. Therefore, any
law that is made applicable to one class of
citizens only must be based on some
substantial difference between the situation of
that class and other individuals to which it
does not apply and must rest on some reason
on which it can be defended. In other words,
there must be such a difference between the
situation and circumstances of all the
members of the class and the situation and
circumstances of all other members of the
state in relation to the subjects of the

discriminatory legislation as presents a just

and natural cause for the difference made in
their liabilities and burdens and in their rights
and privileges. A law is not general because it
operates on all within a clause unless there is
a substantial reason why it is made to operate
on that class only, and not generally on all.
(12 Am. Jur. pp. 151-153.)
Pursuant to the law in question, those who, without a
grade below 50 per cent in any subject, have obtained
a general average of 69.5 per cent in the bar
examinations in 1946 to 1951, 70.5 per cent in 1952,
71.5 per cent in 1953, and those will obtain 72.5 per
cent in 1954, and 73.5 per cent in 1955, will be
permitted to take and subscribe the corresponding oath
of office as members of the Bar, notwithstanding that
the rules require a minimum general average of 75 per
cent, which has been invariably followed since 1950.
Is there any motive of the nature indicated by the
abovementioned authorities, for this classification ? If
there is none, and none has been given, then the
classification is fatally defective.
It was indicated that those who failed in 1944, 1941 or
the years before, with the general average indicated,
were not included because the Tribunal has no record
of the unsuccessful candidates of those years. This fact
does not justify the unexplained classification of
unsuccessful candidates by years, from 1946-1951,
1952, 1953, 1954, 1955. Neither is the exclusion of
those who failed before said years under the same
conditions justified. The fact that this Court has no
record of examinations prior to 1946 does not signify
that no one concerned may prove by some other means
his right to an equal consideration.
To defend the disputed law from being declared
unconstitutional on account of its retroactivity, it is
argued that it is curative, and that in such form it is
constitutional. What does Rep. Act 972 intend to cure ?
Only from 1946 to 1949 were there cases in which the
Tribunal permitted admission to the bar of candidates
who did not obtain the general average of 75 per cent:
in 1946 those who obtained only 72 per cent; in the
1947 and those who had 69 per cent or more; in 1948,

70 per cent and in 1949, 74 per cent; and in 1950 to

1953, those who obtained 74 per cent, which was
considered by the Court as equivalent to 75 per cent as
prescribed by the Rules, by reason of circumstances
deemed to be sufficiently justifiable. These changes in
the passing averages during those years were all that
could be objected to or criticized. Now, it is desired to
undo what had been done cancel the license that
was issued to those who did not obtain the prescribed
75 per cent ? Certainly not. The disputed law clearly
does not propose to do so. Concededly, it approves
what has been done by this Tribunal. What Congress
lamented is that the Court did not consider 69.5 per
cent obtained by those candidates who failed in 1946
to 1952 as sufficient to qualify them to practice law.
Hence, it is the lack of will or defect of judgment of
the Court that is being cured, and to complete the cure
of this infirmity, the effectivity of the disputed law is
being extended up to the years 1953, 1954 and 1955,
increasing each year the general average by one per
cent, with the order that said candidates be admitted to
the Bar. This purpose, manifest in the said law, is the
best proof that what the law attempts to amend and
correct are not the rules promulgated, but the will or
judgment of the Court, by means of simply taking its
place. This is doing directly what the Tribunal should
have done during those years according to the
judgment of Congress. In other words, the power
exercised was not to repeal, alter or supplement the
rules, which continue in force. What was done was to
stop or suspend them. And this power is not included
in what the Constitution has granted to Congress,
because it falls within the power to apply the rules.
This power corresponds to the judiciary, to which such
duty been confided.
Article 2 of the law in question permits partial passing
of examinations, at indefinite intervals. The grave
defect of this system is that it does not take into
account that the laws and jurisprudence are not
stationary, and when a candidate finally receives his
certificate, it may happen that the existing laws and
jurisprudence are already different, seriously affecting
in this manner his usefulness. The system that the said
law prescribes was used in the first bar examinations
of this country, but was abandoned for this and other

disadvantages. In this case, however, the fatal defect is

that the article is not expressed in the title will have
temporary effect only from 1946 to 1955, the text of
article 2 establishes a permanent system for an
indefinite time. This is contrary to Section 21 (1),
article VI of the Constitution, which vitiates and
annuls article 2 completely; and because it is
inseparable from article 1, it is obvious that its nullity
affect the entire law.
Laws are unconstitutional on the following grounds:
first, because they are not within the legislative powers
of Congress to enact, or Congress has exceeded its
powers; second, because they create or establish
arbitrary methods or forms that infringe constitutional
principles; and third, because their purposes or effects
violate the Constitution or its basic principles. As has
already been seen, the contested law suffers from these
fatal defects.
Summarizing, we are of the opinion and hereby
declare that Republic Act No. 972 is unconstitutional
and therefore, void, and without any force nor effect
for the following reasons, to wit:
1. Because its declared purpose is to admit 810
candidates who failed in the bar examinations of 19461952, and who, it admits, are certainly inadequately
prepared to practice law, as was exactly found by this
Court in the aforesaid years. It decrees the admission
to the Bar of these candidates, depriving this Tribunal
of the opportunity to determine if they are at present
already prepared to become members of the Bar. It
obliges the Tribunal to perform something contrary to
reason and in an arbitrary manner. This is a manifest
encroachment on the constitutional responsibility of
the Supreme Court.
2. Because it is, in effect, a judgment revoking the
resolution of this Court on the petitions of these 810
candidates, without having examined their respective
examination papers, and although it is admitted that
this Tribunal may reconsider said resolution at any
time for justifiable reasons, only this Court and no
other may revise and alter them. In attempting to do it

directly Republic Act No. 972 violated the

3. By the disputed law, Congress has exceeded its
legislative power to repeal, alter and supplement the
rules on admission to the Bar. Such additional or
amendatory rules are, as they ought to be, intended to
regulate acts subsequent to its promulgation and
should tend to improve and elevate the practice of law,
and this Tribunal shall consider these rules as
minimum norms towards that end in the admission,
suspension, disbarment and reinstatement of lawyers to
the Bar, inasmuch as a good bar assists immensely in
the daily performance of judicial functions and is
essential to a worthy administration of justice. It is
therefore the primary and inherent prerogative of the
Supreme Court to render the ultimate decision on who
may be admitted and may continue in the practice of
law according to existing rules.
4. The reason advanced for the pretended classification
of candidates, which the law makes, is contrary to facts
which are of general knowledge and does not justify
the admission to the Bar of law students inadequately
prepared. The pretended classification is arbitrary. It is
undoubtedly a class legislation.
5. Article 2 of Republic Act No. 972 is not embraced in
the title of the law, contrary to what the Constitution
enjoins, and being inseparable from the provisions of
article 1, the entire law is void.
6. Lacking in eight votes to declare the nullity of that
part of article 1 referring to the examinations of 1953
to 1955, said part of article 1, insofar as it concerns the
examinations in those years, shall continue in force.

Upon mature deliberation by this Court, after hearing
and availing of the magnificent and impassioned
discussion of the contested law by our Chief Justice at

the opening and close of the debate among the

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

Republic of the Philippines


committed on December 28, 1991, in the town of

Barangay San Luis, San Joaquin, Iloilo.
Upon arraignment, appellant entered a plea of not
guilty. Trial ensued and the prosecution presented as its
witnesses the victim, her mother, her six (6) year-old
playmate, and the medico-legal officer who examined
the victim.

G.R. No. 109149 December 21, 1999

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiffappellee,
LEONCIO SANTOCILDES, JR. y SIGAAN, accused-appellant.

Where an accused was not duly represented by a
member of the Philippine Bar during trial, the
judgment should be set aside and the case remanded to
the trial court for a new trial. A person who
misrepresents himself as a lawyer shall be held liable
for indirect contempt of court.
Subject of the present appeal is the decision dated
October 29, 1992, of the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo
City, Branch 33, convicting accused-appellant of the
crime of rape, sentencing him to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua, and ordering him to pay the
offended party the amount of P50,000.00 and to pay
the costs.
The antecedent facts of the case are as follows:
On February 17, 1992, appellant was charged with the
crime of rape 1 of a girl less than nine (9) years old,

For the defense, appellant presented one German

Toriales and himself. Appellant denied committing the
rape and claimed that he merely tried to stop the two
girls, the victim and her playmate, from quarreling.
On October 29, 1992, the trial court rendered a
decision 2 finding appellant guilty as charged. The
dispositive portion of the decision states:

Hence, appellant duly filed a Notice of Appeal. 3 In his
brief, 4 appellant made the following assignment of

WHEREFORE, the Court finds the

accused guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of rape and
sentences him to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua together its
accessory penalty. The accused is
ordered to pay the amount of
P50,000.00 to the complainant and
another amount for costs, without
subsidiary penalty in case of failure
to pay the civil liability and the cost.

Considering the importance of the constitutional right

to counsel, we shall now first resolve the issue of
proper representation by a member of the bar raised by

If qualified under Art. 29 of the

Revised Penal Code, as amended by
R.A. 6127, as amended, and he has
agreed in writing to abide by the
same rules imposed upon convicted
prisoners, he shall be credited with
the full duration of his preventive
imprisonment; otherwise, he shall
only be credited with 4/5 of the

Appellant contends that he was represented during trial

by a person named Gualberto C. Ompong, who for all
intents and purposes acted as his counsel and even
conducted the direct examination and crossexaminations of the witnesses. On appeal, however,
appellant secured the services of a new lawyer, Atty.
Igmedio S. Prado, Jr., who discovered that Gualberto
C. Ompong is actually not a member of the bar.
Further verification with the Office of the Bar
Confidant confirmed this fact. 5 Appellant therefore

argues that his deprivation of the right to counsel

should necessarily result in his acquittal of the crime
The Office of the Solicitor General, on the other hand,
maintains that notwithstanding the fact that appellant's
counsel during trial was not a member of the bar,
appellant was afforded due process since he has been
given an opportunity to be heard and the records reveal
that said person "presented the evidence for the
defense with the ability of a seasoned lawyer and in
general handled the case of appellant in a professional
and skillful manner." However, the right of the accused
to be heard by himself and his counsel, in our view,
goes much deeper than the question of ability or skill.
It lies at the heart of our adversarial system of justice.
Where the interplay of basic rights of the individual
may collide with the awesome forces of the state, we
need a professional learned in the law as well as
ethically committed to defend the accused by all
means fair and reasonable.
On the matter of proper representation by a member of
the bar, we had occasion to resolve a similar issue in
the case of Delgado v. Court of Appeals. 6 In Delgado,
petitioner and two others were convicted by the trial
court of the crime of estafa thru falsification of public
and/or official documents. One accused did not appeal.
Petitioner Delgado and her remaining co-accused
appealed to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed
petitioner's conviction but acquitted her co-accused.
After entry of judgment, petitioner discovered that her
lawyer was not a member of the bar and moved to set
aside the entry of judgment. The Court of Appeals
denied petitioner's motion, hence, she filed a petition
for certiorari with this Court. The Court set aside the
assailed judgment and remanded the case to the trial
court for a new trial, explaining that

This is so because an accused person

is entitled to be represented by a
member of the bar in a criminal case
filed against her before the Regional
Trial Court. Unless she is
represented by a lawyer, there is
great danger that any defense
presented in her behalf will be
inadequate considering the legal
perquisites and skills needed in the
court proceedings. This would
certainly be a denial of due process. 7
Indeed, the right to counsel is of such primordial
importance that even if an accused was represented by
three successive counsels from the Public Attorney's
Office, the Court has ordered the remand of a rape case
when it found that accused was given mere
perfunctory representation by aforesaid counsels such
that appellant was not properly and effectively
accorded the right to counsel. In the recent en
banc case of People v. Bermas, G.R. No. 120420,
April 21, 1999, the Court, speaking through Justice
Vitug, admonished three (3) PAO lawyers for failing to
genuinely protect the interests of the accused and for
having fallen much too short of their responsibility as
officers of the court and as members of the Bar. Verily,
we can do no less where the accused was not even duly
represented by a certified member of the Philippine
Bar, no matter how zealous his representation might
have been.
The presence and participation of counsel in criminal
proceedings should never be taken lightly. 8 Even the
most intelligent or educated man may have no skill in
the science of the law, particularly in the rules of
procedure, and, without counsel, he may be convicted
not because he is guilty but because he does not know
how to establish his innocence. 9 The right of an
accused to counsel is guaranteed to minimize the
imbalance in the adversarial system where the accused

is pitted against the awesome prosecutory machinery

of the State. 10 Such a right proceeds from the
fundamental principle of due process which basically
means that a person must be heard before being
condemned. The due process requirement is a part of a
person's basic rights; it is not a mere formality that
may be dispensed with or performed perfunctorily. 11
The right to counsel of an accused is enshrined in no
less than Article III, Sections 12 and 14 (2) of the 1987
Constitution. This constitutional mandate is reflected
in Section 1 of Rule 115 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal
Procedure which declares the right of the accused at
the trial to be present in person and by counsel at every
stage of the proceedings from the arraignment to the
promulgation of judgment. In turn, Section 5 of Article
VIII of the 1987 Constitution vests the power to
promulgate rules concerning the admission to the
practice of law to the Supreme Court. Section 1 of
Rule 138 of the Rules of Court explicitly states who
are entitled to practice law in the Philippines, and
Section 2 thereof clearly provides for the requirements
for all applicants for admission to the bar.
Jurisprudence has also held that "the right to practice
law is not a natural or constitutional right but is in the
nature of a privilege or franchise. It is limited to
persons of good moral character with special
qualifications duly ascertained and certified. The right
does not only presuppose in its possessor integrity,
legal standing and attainment, but also the exercise of
a special privilege, highly personal and partaking of
the nature of a public
trust." 12 Indeed, so strict is the regulation of the
practice of law that in Beltran, Jr. v. Abad, 13 a Bar
candidate who has already successfully hurdled the
Bar examinations but has not yet taken his oath and
signed the roll of attorneys, and who was caught in the
unauthorized practice of law was held in contempt of
court. Under Section 3 (e) of Rule 71 of the Rules of
Court, a person who undertakes the unauthorized
practice of law is liable for indirect contempt of court

for assuming to be an attorney and acting as such

without authority.
WHEREFORE, the assailed judgment is SET ASIDE,
and the case is hereby REMANDED to the trial court
for new trial.
With respect to the unauthorized practice of law by the
person named Gualberto C. Ompong in connection
with this case, the local Chapter of the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines of Iloilo City is DIRECTED to
conduct a prompt and thorough investigation regarding
this matter and to report its recommendations to the
Court within ninety (90) days from notice of this,
order. Let all concerned parties, including the Office of
the Bar Confidant, be each furnished a copy of this
Decision for their appropriate action.
No pronouncement as to costs.

Republic of the Philippines


the person or persons interested

2. Conduct unbecoming of public

A.C. No. 3056 August 16, 1991

3. Dishonesty.



4. Extortion.
5. Directly receiving pecuniary or
material benefit for himself in
connection with pending official
transaction before him.

This complaint for disbarment is related to the
administrative case which complainant Attorney
Fernando T. Collantes, house counsel for V & G Better
Homes Subdivision, Inc. (V & G for short), filed
against Attorney Vicente C. Renomeron, Register of
Deeds of Tacloban City, for the latter's irregular
actuations with regard to the application of V & G for
registration of 163 pro forma Deeds of Absolute Sale
with Assignment of lots in its subdivision. The present
complaint charges the respondent with the following
1. Neglecting or refusing inspite (sic)
repeated requests and without
sufficient justification, to act within
reasonable time (sic) the registration
of 163 Deeds of Absolute Sale with
Assignment and the eventual
issuance and transfer of the
corresponding 163 transfer
certificates of titles to the GSIS, for
the purpose of obtaining some
pecuniary or material benefit from

6. Causing undue injury to a party,

the GSIS [or] Government through
manifest partiality, evident bad faith
or gross inexcusable negligence.
7. Gross ignorance of the law and
procedure. (p. 10, Rollo.)
As early as January 15, 1987, V & G had requested the
respondent Register of Deeds to register some 163
deeds of sale with assignment (in favor of the GSIS) of
lots of the V & G mortgaged to GSIS by the lot buyers.
There was no action from the respondent.
Another request was made on February 16, 1987 for
him to approve or deny registration of the uniform
deeds of absolute sale with assignment. Still no action
except to require V & G to submit proof of real estate
tax payment and to clarify certain details about the
Although V & G complied with the desired
requirements, respondent Renomeron suspended the
registration of the documents pending compliance by
V & G with a certain "special arrangement" between

them, which was that V & G should provide him with

a weekly round trip ticket from Tacloban to Manila
plus P2,000.00 as pocket money per trip, or, in lieu
thereof, the sale of respondent's Quezon City house
and lot by V & G or GSIS representatives.
On May 19, 1987, respondent confided to the
complainant that he would act favorably on the 163
registrable documents of V & G if the latter would
execute clarificatory affidavits and send money for a
round trip plane ticket for him.
The plane fare amounting to P800 (without the pocket
money of P2,000) was sent to respondent through his
Because of V & G's failure to give him pocket money
in addition to plane fare, respondent imposed
additional registration requirements. Fed up with the
respondent's extortionate tactics, the complainant
wrote him a letter on May 20, 1987 challenging him to
act on all pending applications for registration of V &
G within twenty-four (24) hours.
On May 22, 1987, respondent formally denied
registration of the transfer of 163 certificates of title to
the GSIS on the uniform ground that the deeds of
absolute sale with assignment were ambiguous as to
parties and subject matter. On May 26, 1987, Attorney
Collantes moved for a reconsideration of said denial,
stressing that:
... since the year 1973 continuously
up to December 1986 for a period of
nearly fifteen (15) years or for a sum
total of more than 2,000 same set of
documents which have been
repeatedly and uniformly registered
in the Office of the Register of
Deeds of Tacloban City under Attys.

Modesto Garcia and Pablo Amascual

Jr., it is only during the incumbency
of Atty. Vicente C. Renomeron, that
the very same documents of the
same tenor have been refused or
denied registration ... (p. 15, Rollo.)
On May 27, 1987, respondent elevated the matter en
consulta to the Administrator, National Land Titles and
Deeds Registration Administration (NLTDRA) (now
the Land Registration Authority [LRA]). In a
Resolution dated July 27,1987 (Consulta No. 1579),
the NLTDRA ruled that the questioned documents
were registrable. Heedless of the NLTDRA's opinion,
respondent continued to sit on V & Gs 163 deeds of
sale with assignment.
Exasperated by respondent's conduct, the complainant
filed with the NLTDRA on June 4, 1987 administrative
charges (docketed as Adm. Case No. 87-15), against
respondent Register of Deeds.
Upon receipt of the charges, NLTDRA Administrator
Teodoro G. Bonifacio directed respondent to explain in
writing why no administrative disciplinary action
should be taken against him. Respondent was further
asked whether he would submit his case on the basis of
his answer, or be heard in a formal investigation.
In his answer dated July 9, 1987, respondent denied
the charges of extortion and of directly receiving
pecuniary or material benefit for himself in connection
with the official transactions awaiting his action.
Although an investigator was appointed by NLTDRA
Administrator Bonifacio to hear Attorney Collantes'
charges against him, Attorney Renomeron waived his
right to a formal investigation. Both parties submitted
the case for resolution based on the pleadings.

The investigator, Attorney Leonardo Da Jose,

recommended dropping the charges of: (1) dishonesty;
(2) causing undue injury to a party through manifest
partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable
negligence; and (3) gross ignorance of the law and
procedure. He opined that the charge of neglecting or
refusing, in spite repeated requests and without
sufficient justification, to act within a reasonable time
on the registration of the documents involved, in order
to extort some pecuniary or material benefit from the
interested party, absorbed the charges of conduct
unbecoming of a public official, extortion, and directly
receiving some pecuniary or material benefit for
himself in connection with pending official
transactions before him.
Brushing aside the investigator's recommendation,
NLTDRA Administrator Teodoro G. Bonifacio on
February 22, 1988, recommended to Secretary of
Justice Sedfrey A. Ordoez that the respondent: (1) be
found guilty of simple neglect of duty: (2) be
reprimanded to act with dispatch on documents
presented to him for registration; and (3) be warned
that a repetition of similar infraction will be dealt with
more severely.
After due investigation of the charges, Secretary
Ordoez found respondent guilty of grave misconduct.
Our study and consideration of the
records of the case indicate that
ample evidence supports the
Investigating Officer's findings that
the respondent committed grave
The respondent unreasonably
delayed action on the documents
presented to him for registration and,
notwithstanding representations by

the parties interested for expeditious

action on the said documents, he
continued with his inaction.
The records indicate that the
respondent eventually formally
denied the registration of the
documents involved; that he himself
elevated the question on the
registrability of the said documents
to Administrator Bonifacio after he
formally denied the registration
thereof, that the Administrator then
resolved in favor of the registrability
of the said documents in question;
and that, such resolution of the
Administrator notwithstanding, the
respondent still refused the
registration thereof but demanded
from the parties interested the
submission of additional
requirements not adverted to in his
previous denial.
xxx xxx xxx
In relation to the alleged 'special
arrangement,' although the
respondent claims that he neither
touched nor received the money sent
to him, on record remains
uncontroverted the circumstance that
his niece, Ms. de la Cruz, retrieved
from him the amount of P800.00
earlier sent to him as plane fare, not
in the original denomination of
P100.00 bills but in P50.00 bills. The
respondent had ample opportunity to
clarify or to countervail this related
incident in his letter dated 5

September 1987 to Administrator

Bonifacio but he never did so.
... We believe that, in this case, the
respondent's being new in office
cannot serve to mitigate his liability.
His being so should have motivated
him to be more aware of applicable
laws, rules and regulations and
should have prompted him to do his
best in the discharge of his duties.
(pp. 17-18, Rollo.)
Secretary Ordoez recommended to President Corazon
C. Aquino that Renomeron be dismissed from the
service, with forfeiture of leave credits and retirement
benefits, and with prejudice to re-employment in the
government service, effective immediately.
As recommended by the Secretary of Justice, the
President of the Philippines, by Adm. Order No. 165
dated May 3, 1990, dismissed the respondent from the
government service (pp. 1419, Rollo).
Less than two weeks after filing his complaint against
Renomeron in the NLTDRA, Attorney Collantes also
filed in this Court on June 16, 1987, a disbarment
complaint against said respondent.
The issue in this disbarment proceeding is whether the
respondent register of deeds, as a lawyer, may also be
disciplined by this Court for his malfeasances as a
public official. The answer is yes, for his misconduct
as a public official also constituted a violation of his
oath as a lawyer.
The lawyer's oath (Rule 138, Section 17, Rules of
Court; People vs. De Luna, 102 Phil. 968), imposes
upon every lawyer the duty to delay no man for money
or malice. The lawyer's oath is a source of his

obligations and its violation is a ground for his

suspension, disbarment or other disciplinary
action (Legal Ethics, Ruben E. Agpalo, 1983 Edition,
pp. 66-67).
As the late Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro said:
A person takes an oath when he is
admitted to the Bar which is
designed to impress upon him his
responsibilities. He thereby becomes
an "officer of the court" on whose
shoulders rests the grave
responsibility of assisting the courts
in the proper. fair, speedy, and
efficient administration of justice. As
an officer of the court he is subject to
a rigid discipline that demands that
in his every exertion the only
criterion he that truth and justice
triumph. This discipline is what as
given the law profession its nobility,
its prestige, its exalted place. From a
lawyer, to paraphrase Justice Felix
Frankfurter, are expected those
qualities of truth-speaking, a high
sense of honor, full candor,
intellectual honesty, and the strictest
observance of fiduciary
responsibility all of which,
throughout the centuries, have been
compendiously described as moral
Membership in the Bar is in the
category of a mandate to public
service of the highest order. A
lawyer is an oath-bound servant of
society whose conduct is clearly
circumscribed by inflexible norms of

law and ethics, and whose primary

duty is the advancement of the quest
of truth and justice, for which he has
sworn to be a fearless crusader.
(Apostacy in the Legal Profession,
64 SCRA 784, 789- 790; emphasis
The Code of Professional Responsibility applies to
lawyers in government service in the discharge of their
official tasks (Canon 6). Just as the Code of Conduct
and Ethical Standards for Public Officials requires
public officials and employees to process documents
and papers expeditiously (Sec. 5, subpars. [c] and [d]
and prohibits them from directly or indirectly having a
financial or material interest in any transaction
requiring the approval of their office, and likewise bars
them from soliciting gifts or anything of monetary
value in the course of any transaction which may be
affected by the functions of their office (See. 7,
subpars. [a] and [d]), the Code of Professional
Responsibility forbids a lawyer to engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct (Rule 1.01,
Code of Professional Responsibility), or delay any
man's cause "for any corrupt motive or interest" (Rule
A lawyer shall not engage in conduct
that adversely reflects on his fitness
to practice law, nor shall he, whether
in public or private life, behave in a
scandalous manner to the discredit
of the legal profession. (Rule 7.03,
Code of Professional Responsibility.)
This Court has ordered that only those who are
"competent, honorable, and reliable" may practice the
profession of law (Noriega vs. Sison, 125 SCRA 293)
for every lawyer must pursue "only the highest

standards in the practice of his calling" (Court

Administrator vs. Hermoso, 150 SCRA 269, 278).
The acts of dishonesty and oppression which Attorney
Renomeron committed as a public official have
demonstrated his unfitness to practice the high and
noble calling of the law (Bautista vs. Judge Guevarra,
142 SCRA 632; Court Administrator vs. Rodolfo G.
Hermoso, 150 SCRA 269). He should therefore be
WHEREFORE, it is hereby ordered that Attorney
Vicente C. Renomeron be disbarred from the practice
of law in the Philippines, and that his name be stricken
off the Roll of Attorneys

Republic of the Philippines

A.M. No. 1928 August 3, 1978
In the Matter of the IBP Membership Dues
Delinquency of Atty. MARCIAL A. EDILION (IBP
Administrative Case No. MDD-1)

The respondent Marcial A. Edillon is a duly licensed
practicing attorney in the Philippines.
On November 29, 1975, the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP for short) Board of Governors
unanimously adopted Resolution No. 75-65 in
Administrative Case No. MDD-1 (In the Matter of the
Membership Dues Delinquency of Atty. Marcial A.
Edillon) recommending to the Court the removal of the
name of the respondent from its Roll of Attorneys for
"stubborn refusal to pay his membership dues" to the
IBP since the latter's constitution notwithstanding due
On January 21, 1976, the IBP, through its then
President Liliano B. Neri, submitted the said resolution
to the Court for consideration and approval, pursuant
to paragraph 2, Section 24, Article III of the By-Laws
of the IBP, which reads:
.... Should the delinquency further
continue until the following June 29,

the Board shall promptly inquire into

the cause or causes of the continued
delinquency and take whatever
action it shall deem appropriate,
including a recommendation to the
Supreme Court for the removal of
the delinquent member's name from
the Roll of Attorneys. Notice of the
action taken shall be sent by
registered mail to the member and to
the Secretary of the Chapter
On January 27, 1976, the Court required the
respondent to comment on the resolution and letter
adverted to above; he submitted his comment on
February 23, 1976, reiterating his refusal to pay the
membership fees due from him.
On March 2, 1976, the Court required the IBP
President and the IBP Board of Governors to reply to
Edillon's comment: on March 24, 1976, they submitted
a joint reply.
Thereafter, the case was set for hearing on June 3,
1976. After the hearing, the parties were required to
submit memoranda in amplification of their oral
arguments. The matter was thenceforth submitted for
At the threshold, a painstaking scrutiny of the
respondent's pleadings would show that the propriety
and necessity of the integration of the Bar of the
Philippines are in essence conceded. The respondent,
however, objects to particular features of Rule of Court
139-A (hereinafter referred to as the Court Rule) 1
in accordance with which the Bar of the Philippines
was integrated and to the provisions of par. 2,
Section 24, Article III, of the IBP By-Laws
(hereinabove cited).

The authority of the IBP Board of Governors to

recommend to the Supreme Court the removal of a
delinquent member's name from the Roll of Attorneys
is found in par. 2 Section 24, Article Ill of the IBP ByLaws (supra), whereas the authority of the Court to
issue the order applied for is found in Section 10 of the
Court Rule, which reads:
SEC. 10. Effect of non-payment of
dues. Subject to the provisions of
Section 12 of this Rule, default in the
payment of annual dues for six
months shall warrant suspension of
membership in the Integrated Bar,
and default in such payment for one
year shall be a ground for the
removal of the name of the
delinquent member from the Roll of
The all-encompassing, all-inclusive scope of
membership in the IBP is stated in these words of the
Court Rule:
SECTION 1. Organization. There
is hereby organized an official
national body to be known as the
'Integrated Bar of the Philippines,'
composed of all persons whose
names now appear or may hereafter
be included in the Roll of Attorneys
of the Supreme Court.
The obligation to pay membership dues is couched in
the following words of the Court Rule:
SEC. 9. Membership dues. Every
member of the Integrated Bar shall
pay such annual dues as the Board of

Governors shall determine with the

approval of the Supreme Court. ...
The core of the respondent's arguments is that the
above provisions constitute an invasion of his
constitutional rights in the sense that he is being
compelled, as a pre-condition to maintaining his status
as a lawyer in good standing, to be a member of the
IBP and to pay the corresponding dues, and that as a
consequence of this compelled financial support of the
said organization to which he is admittedly personally
antagonistic, he is being deprived of the rights to
liberty and property guaranteed to him by the
Constitution. Hence, the respondent concludes, the
above provisions of the Court Rule and of the IBP ByLaws are void and of no legal force and effect.
The respondent similarly questions the jurisdiction of
the Court to strike his name from the Roll of
Attorneys, contending that the said matter is not
among the justiciable cases triable by the Court but is
rather of an "administrative nature pertaining to an
administrative body."
The case at bar is not the first one that has reached the
Court relating to constitutional issues that inevitably
and inextricably come up to the surface whenever
attempts are made to regulate the practice of law,
define the conditions of such practice, or revoke the
license granted for the exercise of the legal profession.
The matters here complained of are the very same
issues raised in a previous case before the Court,
entitled "Administrative Case No. 526, In the Matter of
the Petition for the Integration of the Bar of the
Philippines, Roman Ozaeta, et al., Petitioners." The
Court exhaustively considered all these matters in that
case in its Resolution ordaining the integration of the
Bar of the Philippines, promulgated on January 9,

1973. The Court there made the unanimous

pronouncement that it was
... fully convinced, after a
thoroughgoing conscientious study
of all the arguments adduced in
Adm. Case No. 526 and the
authoritative materials and the mass
of factual data contained in the
exhaustive Report of the
Commission on Bar Integration, that
the integration of the Philippine Bar
is 'perfectly constitutional and
legally unobjectionable'. ...
Be that as it may, we now restate briefly the posture of
the Court.
An "Integrated Bar" is a State-organized Bar, to which
every lawyer must belong, as distinguished from bar
associations organized by individual lawyers
themselves, membership in which is voluntary.
Integration of the Bar is essentially a process by which
every member of the Bar is afforded an opportunity to
do his share in carrying out the objectives of the Bar as
well as obliged to bear his portion of its
responsibilities. Organized by or under the direction of
the State, an integrated Bar is an official national body
of which all lawyers are required to be members. They
are, therefore, subject to all the rules prescribed for the
governance of the Bar, including the requirement of
payment of a reasonable annual fee for the effective
discharge of the purposes of the Bar, and adherence to
a code of professional ethics or professional
responsibility breach of which constitutes sufficient
reason for investigation by the Bar and, upon proper
cause appearing, a recommendation for discipline or
disbarment of the offending member. 2

The integration of the Philippine Bar was obviously

dictated by overriding considerations of public interest
and public welfare to such an extent as more than
constitutionally and legally justifies the restrictions
that integration imposes upon the personal interests
and personal convenience of individual lawyers. 3
Apropos to the above, it must be stressed that all
legislation directing the integration of the Bar have
been uniformly and universally sustained as a valid
exercise of the police power over an important
profession. The practice of law is not a vested right but
a privilege, a privilege moreover clothed with public
interest because a lawyer owes substantial duties not
only to his client, but also to his brethren in the
profession, to the courts, and to the nation, and takes
part in one of the most important functions of the State
the administration of justice as an officer of the
court. 4 The practice of law being clothed with public
interest, the holder of this privilege must submit to a
degree of control for the common good, to the extent
of the interest he has created. As the U. S. Supreme
Court through Mr. Justice Roberts explained, the
expression "affected with a public interest" is the
equivalent of "subject to the exercise of the police
power" (Nebbia vs. New York, 291 U.S. 502).
When, therefore, Congress enacted Republic Act No.
6397 5 authorizing the Supreme Court to "adopt rules
of court to effect the integration of the Philippine Bar
under such conditions as it shall see fit," it did so in the
exercise of the paramount police power of the State.
The Act's avowal is to "raise the standards of the legal
profession, improve the administration of justice, and
enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility
more effectively." Hence, the Congress in enacting
such Act, the Court in ordaining the integration of the
Bar through its Resolution promulgated on January 9,
1973, and the President of the Philippines in decreeing
the constitution of the IBP into a body corporate
through Presidential Decree No. 181 dated May 4,

1973, were prompted by fundamental considerations of

public welfare and motivated by a desire to meet the
demands of pressing public necessity.
The State, in order to promote the general welfare,
may interfere with and regulate personal liberty,
property and occupations. Persons and property may
be subjected to restraints and burdens in order to
secure the general prosperity and welfare of the State
(U.S. vs. Gomez Jesus, 31 Phil 218), for, as the Latin
maxim goes, "Salus populi est supreme lex." The
public welfare is the supreme law. To this fundamental
principle of government the rights of individuals are
subordinated. Liberty is a blessing without which life
is a misery, but liberty should not be made to prevail
over authority because then society win fall into
anarchy (Calalang vs. Williams, 70 Phil. 726). It is an
undoubted power of the State to restrain some
individuals from all freedom, and all individuals from
some freedom.
But the most compelling argument sustaining the
constitutionality and validity of Bar integration in the
Philippines is the explicit unequivocal grant of precise
power to the Supreme Court by Section 5 (5) of Article
X of the 1973 Constitution of the Philippines, which
Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall
have the following powers:
xxx xxx xxx
(5) Promulgate rules concerning
pleading, practice, and pro.
procedure in all courts, and the
admission to the practice of law and
the integration of the Bar ...,
and Section 1 of Republic Act No. 6397, which reads:

SECTION 1. Within two years from

the approval of this Act, the Supreme
Court may adopt rules of Court to
effect the integration of the
Philippine Bar under such conditions
as it shall see fit in order to raise the
standards of the legal profession,
improve the administration of
justice, and enable the Bar to
discharge its public responsibility
more effectively.
Quite apart from the above, let it be stated that even
without the enabling Act (Republic Act No. 6397), and
looking solely to the language of the provision of the
Constitution granting the Supreme Court the power "to
promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and
procedure in all courts, and the admission to the
practice of law," it at once becomes indubitable that
this constitutional declaration vests the Supreme Court
with plenary power in all cases regarding the
admission to and supervision of the practice of law.
Thus, when the respondent Edillon entered upon the
legal profession, his practice of law and his exercise of
the said profession, which affect the society at large,
were (and are) subject to the power of the body politic
to require him to conform to such regulations as might
be established by the proper authorities for the
common good, even to the extent of interfering with
some of his liberties. If he did not wish to submit
himself to such reasonable interference and regulation,
he should not have clothed the public with an interest
in his concerns.
On this score alone, the case for the respondent must
already fall.
The issues being of constitutional dimension, however,
we now concisely deal with them seriatim.

1. The first objection posed by the respondent is that

the Court is without power to compel him to become a
member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,
hence, Section 1 of the Court Rule is unconstitutional
for it impinges on his constitutional right of freedom to
associate (and not to associate). Our answer is: To
compel a lawyer to be a member of the Integrated Bar
is not violative of his constitutional freedom to
associate. 6
Integration does not make a lawyer a member of any
group of which he is not already a member. He became
a member of the Bar when he passed the Bar
examinations. 7 All that integration actually does is to
provide an official national organization for the welldefined but unorganized and incohesive group of
which every lawyer is a ready a member.8
Bar integration does not compel the lawyer to
associate with anyone. He is free to attend or not
attend the meetings of his Integrated Bar Chapter or
vote or refuse to vote in its elections as he chooses.
The only compulsion to which he is subjected is the
payment of annual dues. The Supreme Court, in order
to further the State's legitimate interest in elevating the
quality of professional legal services, may require that
the cost of improving the profession in this fashion be
shared by the subjects and beneficiaries of the
regulatory program the lawyers. 9
Assuming that the questioned provision does in a sense
compel a lawyer to be a member of the Integrated Bar,
such compulsion is justified as an exercise of the
police power of the State. 10
2. The second issue posed by the respondent is that the
provision of the Court Rule requiring payment of a
membership fee is void. We see nothing in the
Constitution that prohibits the Court, under its
constitutional power and duty to promulgate rules

concerning the admission to the practice of law and the

integration of the Philippine Bar (Article X, Section 5
of the 1973 Constitution) which power the
respondent acknowledges from requiring members
of a privileged class, such as lawyers are, to pay a
reasonable fee toward defraying the expenses of
regulation of the profession to which they belong. It is
quite apparent that the fee is indeed imposed as a
regulatory measure, designed to raise funds for
carrying out the objectives and purposes of
integration. 11
3. The respondent further argues that the enforcement
of the penalty provisions would amount to a
deprivation of property without due process and hence
infringes on one of his constitutional rights. Whether
the practice of law is a property right, in the sense of
its being one that entitles the holder of a license to
practice a profession, we do not here pause to consider
at length, as it clear that under the police power of the
State, and under the necessary powers granted to the
Court to perpetuate its existence, the respondent's right
to practise law before the courts of this country should
be and is a matter subject to regulation and inquiry.
And, if the power to impose the fee as a regulatory
measure is recognize, then a penalty designed to
enforce its payment, which penalty may be avoided
altogether by payment, is not void as unreasonable or
arbitrary. 12
But we must here emphasize that the practice of law is
not a property right but a mere privilege, 13 and as such
must bow to the inherent regulatory power of the Court
to exact compliance with the lawyer's public
4. Relative to the issue of the power and/or jurisdiction
of the Supreme Court to strike the name of a lawyer
from its Roll of Attorneys, it is sufficient to state that
the matters of admission, suspension, disbarment and

reinstatement of lawyers and their regulation and

supervision have been and are indisputably recognized
as inherent judicial functions and responsibilities, and
the authorities holding such are legion. 14

We thus reach the conclusion that the provisions of

Rule of Court 139-A and of the By-Laws of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines complained of are
neither unconstitutional nor illegal.

In In Re Sparks (267 Ky. 93, 101 S.W. (2d) 194), in

which the report of the Board of Bar Commissioners in
a disbarment proceeding was confirmed and
disbarment ordered, the court, sustaining the Bar
Integration Act of Kentucky, said: "The power to
regulate the conduct and qualifications of its officers
does not depend upon constitutional or statutory
grounds. It is a power which is inherent in this court as
a court appropriate, indeed necessary, to the proper
administration of justice ... the argument that this is an
arbitrary power which the court is arrogating to itself
or accepting from the legislative likewise
misconceives the nature of the duty. It has limitations
no less real because they are inherent. It is an
unpleasant task to sit in judgment upon a brother
member of the Bar, particularly where, as here, the
facts are disputed. It is a grave responsibility, to be
assumed only with a determination to uphold the
Ideals and traditions of an honorable profession and to
protect the public from overreaching and fraud. The
very burden of the duty is itself a guaranty that the
power will not be misused or prostituted. ..."

WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is the

unanimous sense of the Court that the respondent
Marcial A. Edillon should be as he is hereby disbarred,
and his name is hereby ordered stricken from the Roll
of Attorneys of the Court.

The Court's jurisdiction was greatly reinforced by our

1973 Constitution when it explicitly granted to the
Court the power to "Promulgate rules concerning
pleading, practice ... and the admission to the practice
of law and the integration of the Bar ... (Article X, Sec.
5(5) the power to pass upon the fitness of the
respondent to remain a member of the legal profession
is indeed undoubtedly vested in the Court.

Republic of the Philippines

G.R. No. L-12592

March 8, 1918

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee,

FELIPE BUSTOS, ET AL., defendants-appellants.
Kincaid and Perkins for appellants.
Acting Attorney-General Paredes, for appellee.
This appeal presents the specific question of whether
or not the defendants and appellants are guilty of a
libel of Roman Punsalan, justice of the peace of
Macabebe and Masantol, Province of Pampanga. The
appeal also submits the larger question of the attitude
which the judiciary should take interpreting and
enforcing the Libel Law in connection with the basic
prerogatives of freedom of speech and press, and of
assembly and petition. For a better understanding, the
facts in the present appeal are the first narrated in the
order of their occurrence, then certain suggestive
aspects relative to the rights of freedom of speech and
press and of assembly and petition are interpolated,
then the facts are tested by these principles, and,
finally, judgment is rendered.
First, the facts. In the latter part of 1915, numerous
citizens of the Province of Pampanga assembled, and
prepared and signed a petition to the Executive
Secretary through the law office of Crossfield and
O'Brien, and five individuals signed affidavits,
charging Roman Punsalan, justice of the peace of
Macabebe and Masantol, Pampanga, with malfeasance

in office and asking for his removal. Crossfield and

O'Brien submitted this petition and these affidavits
with a complaint to the Executive Secretary. The
petition transmitted by these attorneys was signed by
thirty-four citizens apparently of considerable
standing, including councilors and property owners
(now the defendants), and contained the statements set
out in the information as libelous. Briefly stated the
specific charges against the justice of the peace were.
1. That Francisca Polintan, desiring to make complaint
against Mariano de los Reyes, visited the justice of the
peace, who first told her that he would draw up
complaint for P5; afterwards he said he would take P3
which she paid; also kept her in the house for four days
as a servant and took from her two chickens and
twelve "gandus;"
2. That Valentin Sunga being interested in a case
regarding land which was on trial before the justice of
the peace, went to see the justice of the peace to
ascertain the result of the trial, and was told by the
justice of the peace that if he wished to win he must
give him P50. Not having this amount, Sunga gave the
justice nothing, and a few days later was informed that
he had lost the case. Returning again to the office of
the justice of the peace in order to appeal, the justice
told him that he could still win if he would pay P50;
3. That Leoncio Quiambao, having filed a complaint
for assault against four persons, on the day of the trial
the justice called him over to his house, where he
secretly gave him (Quiambao) P30; and the complaint
was thereupon shelved.
The Executive Secretary referred the papers to the
judge of first instance for the Seventh Judicial District
requesting investigation, proper action, and report. The
justice of the peace was notified and denied the
charges. The judge of first instance found the first

count not proved and counts 2 and 3 established. In

view of this result, the judge, the Honorable Percy M.
Moir, was of the opinion "that it must be, and it is
hereby, recommended to the Governor-General that the
respondent be removed from his position as justice of
the peace of Macabebe and Masantol, Province of
Pampanga, and it is ordered that the proceedings had
in this case be transmitted to the Executive Secretary."
Later the justice of the peace filled a motion for a new
trial; the judge of first instance granted the motion and
reopened the hearing; documents were introduced,
including a letter sent by the municipal president and
six councilors of Masantol, Pampanga, asserting that
the justice of the peace was the victim of prosecution,
and that one Agustin Jaime, the auxiliary justice of the
peace, had instituted the charges for personal reasons;
and the judge of first instance ordered a suppression of
the charges against Punsalan and acquitted him the
same. Attorneys for complainants thereupon appealed
to the Governor-General, but whether the papers were
forwarded to the Governor-General as requested the
record does not disclose.
Criminal action against the petitioners, now become
the defendants, was instituted on October 12, 1916, by
virtue of the following information:
That on or about the month of December,
1915, in the municipality of Macabebe,
Pampanga, P. I., the said accused, voluntarily,
illegally, and criminally and with malicious
intent to prejudice and defame Mr. Roman
Punsalan Serrano who was at said time and
place justice of the peace of Macabebe and
Masantol of this province, wrote, signed, and
published a writing which was false,
scandalous, malicious, defamatory, and
libelous against the justice of the peace Mr.

Roman Punsalan Serrano, in which writing

appear among other things the following:
That the justice of the peace, Mr. Roman
Punsalan Serrano, of this town of Macabebe,
on account of the conduct observed by him
heretofore, a conduct highly improper of the
office which he holds, is found to be a public
functionary who is absolutely unfair,
eminently immoral and dangerous to the
community, and consequently unworthy of
the office.
That this assertion of the undersigned is
evidenced in a clear and positive manner by
facts so certain, so serious, and so denigrating
which appear in the affidavits attached hereto,
and by other facts no less serious, but which
the undersigned refrain from citing herein for
the sake of brevity and in order not to bother
too much the attention of your Honor and due
to lack of sufficient proof to substantiate
That should the higher authorities allow the
said justice of the peace of this town to
continue in his office, the protection of the
rights and interests of its inhabitants will be
illusory and utopic; rights and interest
solemnly guaranteed by the Philippine Bill of
Rights, and justice in this town will not be
administered in accordance with law.
That on account of the wrongful discharge of
his office and of his bad conducts as such
justice of the peace, previous to this time,
some respectable citizens of this town of
Macabebe were compelled to present an
administrative case against the said Roman
Punsalan Serrano before the judge of first

instance of Pampanga, in which case there

were made against him various charges which
were true and certain and of different
That after the said administrative case was
over, the said justice of the peace, far from
charging his bad and despicable conduct,
which has roused the indignation of this town
of Macabebe, subsequently performed the
acts abovementioned, as stated in the
affidavits herewith attached, as if intending to
mock at the people and to show his mistaken
valor and heroism.'
All of this has been written and published by
the accused with deliberate purpose of
attacking the virtue, honor, and reputation of
the justice of the peace, Mr. Roman Punsalan
Serrano, and thus exposing him to public
hatred contempt, and ridicule. All contrary to
It should be noted that the information omits
paragraphs of the petition mentioning the investigation
before the judge of first instance, the affidavits upon
which based and concluding words, "To the Executive
Secretary, through the office of Crossfield and
The Honorable Percy M. Moir found all the
defendants, with the exception of Felix Fernandez,
Juan S. Alfonso, Restituto Garcia, and Manuel Mallari,
guilty and sentenced each of them to pay a fine of P10
and one thirty-second part of the costs, or to suffer
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. New
attorneys for the defense, coming into the case, after
the handing down of the decision, file on December
16, 1916, a motion for a new trial, the principal
purpose of which was to retire the objection interposed

by the then counsel for the defendants to the admission

of Exhibit A consisting of the entire administrative
proceedings. The trial court denied the motion. All the
defendants, except Melecio S. Sabado and Fortunato
Macalino appealed making the following assignments
of error:
1. The court erred in overruling the motion of
the convicted defendants for a new trial.
2. The court erred in refusing to permit the
defendants to retire the objection in
advertently interposed by their counsel to the
admission in evidence of the expediente
administrativo out of which the accusation in
this case arose.
3. The court erred in sustaining the objection
of the prosecution to the introduction in
evidence by the accused of the affidavits upon
which the petition forming the basis of the
libelous charge was based.
4. The court erred in not holding that the
alleged libelous statement was unqualifiedly
5. The court erred in assuming and impliedly
holding that the burden was on the defendants
to show that the alleged libelous statements
were true and free from malice.
6. The court erred in not acquitting the
7. The evidence adduced fails to show the
guilt of the defendants beyond a reasonable
doubt. This is especially true of all the
defendants, except Felipe Bustos, Dionisio
Mallari, and Jose T. Reyes.

We have thus far taken it for granted that all the

proceedings, administrative and judicial, were properly
before this court. As a matter of fact counsel for
defendants in the lower court made an improvident
objection to the admission of the administrative
proceedings on the ground that the signatures were not
identified and that the same was immaterial, which
objection was partially sustained by the trial court.
Notwithstanding this curious situation by reason of
which the attorney for the defense attempted to destroy
through his objection the very foundation for the
justification of his clients, we shall continue to
consider all the proceedings as before us. Not
indicating specifically the reason for this action, let the
following be stated: The administrative proceedings
were repeatedly mentioned during the trial. These
proceedings were the basis of the accusation, the
information, the evidence, and the judgment rendered.
The prosecution cannot be understood without
knowledge of anterior action. Nothing more unjust
could be imagined than to pick out certain words
which standing by themselves and unexplained are
libelous and then by shutting off all knowledge of facts
which would justify these words, to convict the
accused. The records in question are attached to the
rollo, and either on the ground that the attorneys for
the defense retired the objection to the introduction of
the administrative proceedings by the prosecution, or
that a new trial should have been had because under
section 42 of the Code of Criminal Procedure "a case
may be reopened on account of errors at law
committed at the trial," or because of the right of this
court to call in such records as are sufficiently
incorporated into the complaint and are essential to a
determination of the case, or finally, because of our
conceded right to take judicial notice of official action
in administrative cases and of judicial proceedings
supplemental to the basis action, we examine the
record as before us, containing not alone the trial for
libel, but the proceedings previous to that trial giving
rise to it. To this action, the Government can not

explain for it was the prosecution which tried to

incorporate Exhibit A into the record.
With these facts pleading justification, before testing
them by certain principles which make up the law of
libel and slander, we feel warranted in seizing the
opportunity to intrude an introductory and general
discussion of freedom of speech and press and
assembly and petition in the Philippine Islands. We
conceive that the time is ripe thus to clear up certain
misapprehensions on the subject and to place these
basic rights in their proper light.
Turning to the pages of history, we state nothing new
when we set down that freedom of speech as cherished
in democratic countries was unknown in the Philippine
Islands before 1900. A prime cause for revolt was
consequently ready made. Jose Rizal in "Filipinas
Despues de Cien Aos" (The Philippines a Century
Hence, pages 62 et seq.) describing "the reforms sine
quibus non," which the Filipinos insist upon, said: "
The minister, . . . who wants his reforms to be
reforms, must begin by declaring the press in
the Philippines free and by instituting
Filipinos delegates.
The Filipino patriots in Spain, through the columns of
"La Solidaridad" and by other means invariably in
exposing the wants of the Filipino people demanded
"liberty of the press, of cults, and associations."
(See Mabini, La Revolucion Filipina.) The Malolos
Constitution, the work of the Revolutionary Congress,
in its Bill of Rights, zealously guarded freedom of
speech and press and assembly and petition.

Mention is made of the foregoing data only to deduce

the proposition that a reform so sacred to the people of
these Islands and won at so dear a cost, should now be
protected and carried forward as one would protect and
preserve the covenant of liberty itself.
Next comes the period of American-Filipino
cooperative effort. The Constitution of the United
States and the State constitutions guarantee to the right
of freedom of speech and press and the right of
assembly and petition. We are therefore, not surprised
to find President McKinley in that Magna Charta of
Philippine Liberty, the Instructions to the Second
Philippine Commission, of April 7, 1900, laying down
the inviolable rule "That no law shall be passed
abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or of
the rights of the people to peaceably assemble and
petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
The Philippine Bill, the Act of Congress of July 1,
1902, and the Jones Law, the Act of Congress of
August 29, 1916, in the nature of organic acts for the
Philippines, continued this guaranty. The words quoted
are not unfamiliar to students of Constitutional Law,
for they are the counterpart of the first amendment to
the Constitution of the United States, which the
American people demanded before giving their
approval to the Constitution.
We mention the foregoing facts only to deduce the
position never to be forgotten for an instant that the
guaranties mentioned are part and parcel of the
Organic Law of the Constitution of the
Philippine Islands.
These paragraphs found in the Philippine Bill of
Rights are not threadbare verbiage. The language
carries with all the applicable jurisprudence of great
English and American Constitutional cases. (Kepner
vs. U. S. [1904], 195 U. S., 100; Serra vs. Mortiga

[1907], 204 U. S., 470.) And what are these principles?

Volumes would inadequately answer. But included are
the following:
The interest of society and the maintenance of good
government demand a full discussion of public affairs.
Completely liberty to comment on the conduct of
public men is a scalpel in the case of free speech. The
sharp incision of its probe relieves the abscesses of
officialdom. Men in public life may suffer under a
hostile and an unjust accusation; the wound can be
assuaged with the balm of a clear conscience. A public
officer must not be too thin-skinned with reference to
comment upon his official acts. Only thus can the
intelligence and the dignity of the individual be
exalted. Of course, criticism does not authorize
defamation. Nevertheless, as the individual is less than
the State, so must expected criticism be born for the
common good. Rising superior to any official or set of
officials, to the Chief of Executive, to the Legislature,
to the Judiciary to any or all the agencies of
Government public opinion should be the constant
source of liberty and democracy. (See the well
considered cases of Wason vs. Walter, 4 L. R. 4 Q. B.,
73; Seymour vs. Butterworth, 3F. and F., 372; The
Queen vs. Sir R. Carden, 5 Q. B. D., 1)
The guaranties of a free speech and a free press
include the right to criticize judicial conduct. The
administration of the law is a matter of vital public
concern. Whether the law is wisely or badly enforced
is, therefore, a fit subject for proper comment. If the
people cannot criticize a justice of the peace or a judge
the same as any other public officer, public opinion
will be effectively muzzled. Attempted terrorization of
public opinion on the part of the judiciary would be
tyranny of the basest sort. The sword of Damocles in
the hands of a judge does not hang suspended over the
individual who dares to assert his prerogative as a
citizen and to stand up bravely before any official. On
the contrary, it is a duty which every one owes to

society or to the State to assist in the investigation of

any alleged misconduct. It is further the duty of all
who know of any official dereliction on the part of a
magistrate or the wrongful act of any public officer to
bring the facts to the notice of those whose duty it is to
inquire into and punish them. In the words of Mr.
Justice Gayner, who contributed so largely to the law
of libel. "The people are not obliged to speak of the
conduct of their officials in whispers or with bated
breath in a free government, but only in a despotism."
(Howarth vs. Barlow [1906], 113 App. Div., N. Y.,
The right to assemble and petition is the necessary
consequence of republican institutions and the
complement of the part of free speech. Assembly
means a right on the part of citizens to meet peaceably
for consultation in respect to public affairs. Petition
means that any person or group of persons can apply,
without fear of penalty, to the appropriate branch or
office of the government for a redress of grievances.
The persons assembling and petitioning must, of
course, assume responsibility for the charges made.
Public policy, the welfare of society, and the orderly
administration of government have demanded
protection for public opinion. The inevitable and
incontestable result has been the development and
adoption of the doctrine of privilege.
The doctrine of privileged communications
rests upon public policy, 'which looks to the
free and unfettered administration of justice,
though, as an incidental result, it may in some
instances afford an immunity to the evildisposed and malignant slanderer.' (Abbott vs.
National Bank of Commerce, Tacoma [1899],
175 U. S., 409, 411.)

Privilege is classified as either absolute or qualified.

With the first, we are not concerned. As to qualified
privilege, it is as the words suggest a prima
facie privilege which may be lost by proof of malice.
The rule is thus stated by Lord Campbell, C. J.
A communication made bona fide upon any
subject-matter in which the party
communicating has an interest, or in reference
to which has a duty, is privileged, if made to a
person having a corresponding interest or
duty, although it contained criminatory matter
which without this privilege would be
slanderous and actionable. (Harrison vs.
Bush, 5 E. and B., 344; 1 Jur.[N. S.], 846; 25
L. J. Q. B., 25; 3 W. R., 474; 85 E. C. L.,
A pertinent illustration of the application of qualified
privilege is a complaint made in good faith and
without malice in regard to the character or conduct of
a public official when addressed to an officer or a
board having some interest or duty in the matter. Even
when the statements are found to be false, if there is
probable cause for belief in their truthfulness and the
charge is made in good faith, the mantle of privilege
may still cover the mistake of the individual. But the
statements must be made under an honest sense of
duty; a self-seeking motive is destructive. Personal
injury is not necessary. All persons have an interest in
the pure and efficient administration of justice and of
public affairs. The duty under which a party is
privileged is sufficient if it is social or moral in its
nature and this person in good faith believes he is
acting in pursuance thereof although in fact he is
mistaken. The privilege is not defeated by the mere
fact that the communication is made in intemperate
terms. A further element of the law of privilege
concerns the person to whom the complaint should be
made. The rule is that if a party applies to the wrong
person through some natural and honest mistake as to

the respective functions of various officials such

unintentional error will not take the case out of the
In the usual case malice can be presumed from
defamatory words. Privilege destroy that presumption.
The onus of proving malice then lies on the plaintiff.
The plaintiff must bring home to the defendant the
existence of malice as the true motive of his conduct.
Falsehood and the absence of probable cause will
amount to proof of malice. (See White vs. Nicholls
[1845], 3 How., 266.)
A privileged communication should not be subjected to
microscopic examination to discover grounds of
malice or falsity. Such excessive scrutiny would defeat
the protection which the law throws over privileged
communications. The ultimate test is that of bona
fides. (See White vs. Nicholls [1845], 3 How., 266;
Bradley vs. Heath [1831], 12 Pick. [Mass.], 163; Kent
vs. Bongartz [1885], 15 R. I., 72; Street Foundations of
Legal Liability, vol. 1, pp. 308, 309; Newell, Slander
and Libel, various citations; 25 Cyc. pages 385 et seq.)
Having ascertained the attitude which should be
assumed relative to the basic rights of freedom of
speech and press and of assembly and petition, having
emphasized the point that our Libel Law as a statute
must be construed with reference to the guaranties of
our Organic Law, and having sketched the doctrine of
privilege, we are in a position to test the facts of this
case with these principles.
It is true that the particular words set out in the
information, if said of a private person, might well be
considered libelous per se. The charges might also
under certain conceivable conditions convict one of a
libel of a government official. As a general rule words
imputing to a judge or a justice of the peace dishonesty
or corruption or incapacity or misconduct touching

him in his office are actionable. But as suggested in the

beginning we do not have present a simple case of
direct and vicious accusations published in the press,
but of charges predicated on affidavits made to the
proper official and thus qualifiedly privileged. Express
malice has not been proved by the prosecution.
Further, although the charges are probably not true as
to the justice of the peace, they were believed to be
true by the petitioners. Good faith surrounded their
action. Probable cause for them to think that
malfeasance or misfeasance in office existed is
apparent. The ends and the motives of these citizens
to secure the removal from office of a person thought
to be venal were justifiable. In no way did they
abuse the privilege. These respectable citizens did not
eagerly seize on a frivolous matter but on instances
which not only seemed to them of a grave character,
but which were sufficient in an investigation by a
judge of first instance to convince him of their
seriousness. No undue publicity was given to the
petition. The manner of commenting on the conduct of
the justice of the peace was proper. And finally the
charges and the petition were submitted through
reputable attorneys to the proper functionary, the
Executive Secretary. In this connection it is sufficient
to note that justices of the peace are appointed by the
Governor-General, that they may be removed by the
Governor-General upon the recommendation of a
Judge of First Instance, or on the Governor-General's
own motion, and that at the time this action took place
the Executive Bureau was the office through which the
Governor-General acted in such matter. (See
Administrative Code of 1917, secs. 203 and 229, in
connection with the cases of U. S. vs. Galesa [1915],
31 Phil., 365, and of Harrison vs. Bush, 5 E. and B.,
344, holding that where defendant was subject to
removal by the sovereign, a communication to the
Secretary of State was privileged.)
The present facts are further essentially different from
those established in other cases in which private

individuals have been convicted of libels of public

officials. Malice, traduction, falsehood, calumny,
against the man and not the officer, have been the
causes of the verdict of guilty. (See U. S. vs. Senado
[1909], 14 Phil., 338, 339; U. S. vs. Contreras [1912],
23 Phil., 513; U. S. vs. Montalvo [1915], 29 Phil.,
The Attorney-General bases his recommendation for
confirmation on the case of the United States vs. Julio
Bustos ([1909], 13 Phil., 690). The Julio Bustos case,
the Attorney-General says, is identical with the Felipe
Bustos case, with the exception that there has been
more publicity in the present instance and that the
person to whom the charge was made had less
jurisdiction than had the Secretary of Justice in the
Julio Bustos case. Publicity is immaterial if the charge
against Punsalan is in fact a privileged communication.
Moreover, in the Julio Bustos case we find wild
statements, with no basis in fact, made against
reputable members of the judiciary, "to persons who
could not furnish protection." Malicious and untrue
communications are not privileged. A later case and
one more directly in point to which we invite especial
attention is United States vs. Galeza ([1915], 31 Phil.,
365). (Note also Yancey vs. Commonwealth [1909],
122 So. W., 123.)
We find the defendants and appellants entitled to the
protection of the rules concerning qualified privilege,
growing out of constitutional guaranties in our bill of
rights. Instead of punishing citizens for an honest
endeavor to improve the public service, we should
rather commend them for their good citizenship. The
defendants and appellants are acquitted with the
costs de officio. So ordered.

Republic of the Philippines

July 30, 1979
BUENAVENTURA, petitioners.
Two separate Petitions were filed before this Court 1)
by the surviving partners of Atty. Alexander Sycip,
who died on May 5, 1975, and 2) by the surviving
partners of Atty. Herminio Ozaeta, who died on
February 14, 1976, praying that they be allowed to
continue using, in the names of their firms, the names
of partners who had passed away. In the Court's
Resolution of September 2, 1976, both Petitions were
ordered consolidated.

Petitioners base their petitions on the following

1. Under the law, a partnership is not prohibited from
continuing its business under a firm name which
includes the name of a deceased partner; in fact,
Article 1840 of the Civil Code explicitly sanctions the
practice when it provides in the last paragraph
that: t.hqw
The use by the person or partnership
continuing the business of the
partnership name, or the name of a
deceased partner as part
thereof, shall not of itself make the
individual property of the deceased
partner liable for any debts
contracted by such person or
partnership. 1
2. In regulating other professions, such as accountancy
and engineering, the legislature has authorized the
adoption of firm names without any restriction as to
the use, in such firm name, of the name of a deceased
partner; 2 the legislative authorization given to those
engaged in the practice of accountancy a profession
requiring the same degree of trust and confidence in
respect of clients as that implicit in the relationship of
attorney and client to acquire and use a trade name,
strongly indicates that there is no fundamental policy
that is offended by the continued use by a firm of
professionals of a firm name which includes the name
of a deceased partner, at least where such firm name
has acquired the characteristics of a "trade name." 3
3. The Canons of Professional Ethics are not
transgressed by the continued use of the name of a
deceased partner in the firm name of a law partnership
because Canon 33 of the Canons of Professional Ethics
adopted by the American Bar Association declares
that: t.hqw
... The continued use of the name of
a deceased or former partner when
permissible by local custom, is not

unethical but care should be taken

that no imposition or deception is
practiced through this use. ... 4
4. There is no possibility of imposition or deception
because the deaths of their respective deceased
partners were well-publicized in all newspapers of
general circulation for several days; the stationeries
now being used by them carry new letterheads
indicating the years when their respective deceased
partners were connected with the firm; petitioners will
notify all leading national and international law
directories of the fact of their respective deceased
partners' deaths. 5
5. No local custom prohibits the continued use of a
deceased partner's name in a professional firm's
name; 6 there is no custom or usage in the Philippines,
or at least in the Greater Manila Area, which
recognizes that the name of a law firm necessarily
Identifies the individual members of the firm. 7
6. The continued use of a deceased partner's name in
the firm name of law partnerships has been
consistently allowed by U.S. Courts and is an accepted
practice in the legal profession of most countries in the
world. 8
The question involved in these Petitions first came
under consideration by this Court in 1953 when a law
firm in Cebu (the Deen case) continued its practice of
including in its firm name that of a deceased partner,
C.D. Johnston. The matter was resolved with this
Court advising the firm to desist from including in
their firm designation the name of C. D. Johnston, who
has long been dead."
The same issue was raised before this Court in 1958 as
an incident in G. R. No. L-11964, entitled Register of
Deeds of Manila vs. China Banking Corporation. The
law firm of Perkins & Ponce Enrile moved to intervene
asamicus curiae. Before acting thereon, the Court, in a
Resolution of April 15, 1957, stated that it "would like
to be informed why the name of Perkins is still being
used although Atty. E. A. Perkins is already dead." In a

Manifestation dated May 21, 1957, the law firm of

Perkins and Ponce Enrile, raising substantially the
same arguments as those now being raised by
petitioners, prayed that the continued use of the firm
name "Perkins & Ponce Enrile" be held proper.
On June 16, 1958, this Court resolved: t.hqw
After carefully considering the
reasons given by Attorneys Alfonso
Ponce Enrile and Associates for their
continued use of the name of the
deceased E. G. Perkins, the Court
found no reason to depart from the
policy it adopted in June 1953 when
it required Attorneys Alfred P. Deen
and Eddy A. Deen of Cebu City to
desist from including in their firm
designation, the name of C. D.
Johnston, deceased. The Court
believes that, in view of the personal
and confidential nature of the
relations between attorney and
client, and the high standards
demanded in the canons of
professional ethics, no practice
should be allowed which even in a
remote degree could give rise to the
possibility of deception. Said
attorneys are accordingly advised to
drop the name "PERKINS" from
their firm name.
Petitioners herein now seek a re-examination of the
policy thus far enunciated by the Court.
The Court finds no sufficient reason to depart from the
rulings thus laid down.
A. Inasmuch as "Sycip, Salazar, Feliciano, Hernandez
and Castillo" and "Ozaeta, Romulo, De Leon, Mabanta
and Reyes" are partnerships, the use in their
partnership names of the names of deceased partners
will run counter to Article 1815 of the Civil Code
which provides: t.hqw

Art. 1815. Every partnership shall

operate under a firm name, which
may or may not include the name of
one or more of the partners.
Those who, not being members of
the partnership, include their names
in the firm name, shall be subject to
the liability, of a partner.
It is clearly tacit in the above provision that names in a
firm name of a partnership must either be those of
living partners and. in the case of non-partners, should
be living persons who can be subjected to liability. In
fact, Article 1825 of the Civil Code prohibits a third
person from including his name in the firm name under
pain of assuming the liability of a partner. The heirs of
a deceased partner in a law firm cannot be held liable
as the old members to the creditors of a firm
particularly where they are non-lawyers. Thus, Canon
34 of the Canons of Professional Ethics "prohibits an
agreement for the payment to the widow and heirs of a
deceased lawyer of a percentage, either gross or net, of
the fees received from the future business of the
deceased lawyer's clients, both because the recipients
of such division are not lawyers and because such
payments will not represent service or responsibility
on the part of the recipient. " Accordingly, neither the
widow nor the heirs can be held liable for transactions
entered into after the death of their lawyer-predecessor.
There being no benefits accruing, there ran be no
corresponding liability.
Prescinding the law, there could be practical objections
to allowing the use by law firms of the names of
deceased partners. The public relations value of the use
of an old firm name can tend to create undue
advantages and disadvantages in the practice of the
profession. An able lawyer without connections will
have to make a name for himself starting from scratch.
Another able lawyer, who can join an old firm, can
initially ride on that old firm's reputation established
by deceased partners.
B. In regards to the last paragraph of Article 1840 of
the Civil Code cited by petitioners, supra, the first

factor to consider is that it is within Chapter 3 of Title

IX of the Code entitled "Dissolution and Winding Up."
The Article primarily deals with the exemption from
liability in cases of a dissolved partnership, of the
individual property of the deceased partner for debts
contracted by the person or partnership which
continues the business using the partnership name or
the name of the deceased partner as part thereof. What
the law contemplates therein is a hold-over situation
preparatory to formal reorganization.
Secondly, Article 1840 treats more of
a commercial partnership with a good will to protect
rather than of aprofessional partnership, with no
saleable good will but whose reputation depends on
the personal qualifications of its individual members.
Thus, it has been held that a saleable goodwill can
exist only in a commercial partnership and cannot arise
in a professional partnership consisting of
lawyers. 9t.hqw
As a general rule, upon the
dissolution of a commercial
partnership the succeeding partners
or parties have the right to carry on
the business under the old name, in
the absence of a stipulation
forbidding it, (s)ince the name of a
commercial partnership is a
partnership asset inseparable from
the good will of the firm. ... (60 Am
Jur 2d, s 204, p. 115) (Emphasis
On the other hand, t.hqw
... a professional partnership the
reputation of which depends or; the
individual skill of the members, such
as partnerships of attorneys or
physicians, has no good win to be
distributed as a firm asset on its
dissolution, however intrinsically
valuable such skill and reputation
may be, especially where there is no
provision in the partnership

agreement relating to good will as an

asset. ... (ibid, s 203, p. 115)
(Emphasis supplied)
C. A partnership for the practice of law cannot be
likened to partnerships formed by other professionals
or for business. For one thing, the law on accountancy
specifically allows the use of a trade name in
connection with the practice of accountancy. 10 t.
A partnership for the practice of law
is not a legal entity. It is a mere
relationship or association for a
particular purpose. ... It is not a
partnership formed for the purpose
of carrying on trade or business or of
holding property." 11 Thus, it has
been stated that "the use of a nom de
plume, assumed or trade name in law
practice is improper. 12
The usual reason given for different
standards of conduct being
applicable to the practice of law
from those pertaining to business is
that the law is a profession.
Dean Pound, in his recently
published contribution to the Survey
of the Legal Profession, (The
Lawyer from Antiquity to Modern
Times, p. 5) defines a profession as
"a group of men pursuing a learned
art as a common calling in the spirit
of public service, no less a public
service because it may incidentally
be a means of livelihood."
xxx xxx xxx
Primary characteristics which
distinguish the legal profession from
business are:

1. A duty of public service, of which

the emolument is a byproduct, and in
which one may attain the highest
eminence without making much
2. A relation as an "officer of court"
to the administration of justice
involving thorough sincerity,
integrity, and reliability.
3. A relation to clients in the highest
degree fiduciary.
4. A relation to colleagues at the bar
characterized by candor, fairness,
and unwillingness to resort to current
business methods of advertising and
encroachment on their practice, or
dealing directly with their clients. 13
"The right to practice law is not a natural or
constitutional right but is in the nature of a privilege or
franchise. 14 It is limited to persons of good moral
character with special qualifications duly ascertained
and certified. 15 The right does not only presuppose in
its possessor integrity, legal standing and attainment,
but also the exercise of a special privilege, highly
personal and partaking of the nature of a public
trust." 16
D. Petitioners cited Canon 33 of the Canons of
Professional Ethics of the American Bar Association"
in support of their petitions.
It is true that Canon 33 does not consider as
unethical the continued use of the name of a deceased
or former partner in the firm name of a law partnership
when such a practice is permissible by local
custom but the Canon warns that care should be taken
that no imposition or deception is practiced through
this use.
It must be conceded that in the Philippines, no local
custom permits or allows the continued use of a

deceased or former partner's name in the firm names of

law partnerships. Firm names, under our custom,
Identify the more active and/or more senior members
or partners of the law firm. A glimpse at the history of
the firms of petitioners and of other law firms in this
country would show how their firm names have
evolved and changed from time to time as the
composition of the partnership changed. t.hqw
The continued use of a firm name
after the death of one or more of the
partners designated by it is proper
only where sustained by local
custom and not where by custom this
purports to Identify the active
members. ...
There would seem to be a question,
under the working of the Canon, as
to the propriety of adding the name
of a new partner and at the same
time retaining that of a deceased
partner who was never a partner
with the new one. (H.S. Drinker, op.
cit., supra, at pp. 207208) (Emphasis
The possibility of deception upon the public, real or
consequential, where the name of a deceased partner
continues to be used cannot be ruled out. A person in
search of legal counsel might be guided by the familiar
ring of a distinguished name appearing in a firm title.
E. Petitioners argue that U.S. Courts have consistently
allowed the continued use of a deceased partner's name
in the firm name of law partnerships. But that is so
because it is sanctioned by custom.
In the case of Mendelsohn v. Equitable Life Assurance
Society (33 N.Y.S. 2d 733) which petitioners Salazar,
et al. quoted in their memorandum, the New York
Supreme Court sustained the use of the firm name
Alexander & Green even if none of the present ten
partners of the firm bears either name because the
practice was sanctioned by custom and did not offend

any statutory provision or legislative policy and was

adopted by agreement of the parties. The Court stated
therein: t.hqw
The practice sought to be
proscribed has the sanction of
custom and offends no statutory
provision or legislative policy.
Canon 33 of the Canons of
Professional Ethics of both the
American Bar Association and the
New York State Bar Association
provides in part as follows: "The
continued use of the name of a
deceased or former partner, when
permissible by local custom is not
unethical, but care should be taken
that no imposition or deception is
practiced through this use." There is
no question as to local custom.
Many firms in the city use the names
of deceased members with the
approval of other attorneys, bar
associations and the courts. The
Appellate Division of the First
Department has considered the
matter and reached The conclusion
that such practice should not be
prohibited. (Emphasis supplied)
xxx xxx xxx
Neither the Partnership Law nor the
Penal Law prohibits the practice in
question. The use of the firm name
herein is also sustainable by reason
of agreement between the partners. 18
Not so in this jurisdiction where there is no local
custom that sanctions the practice. Custom has been
defined as a rule of conduct formed by repetition of
acts, uniformly observed (practiced) as a social rule,
legally binding and obligatory. 19 Courts take no
judicial notice of custom. A custom must be proved as
a fact, according to the rules of evidence. 20 A local
custom as a source of right cannot be considered by a

court of justice unless such custom is properly

established by competent evidence like any other
fact. 21 We find such proof of the existence of a local
custom, and of the elements requisite to constitute the
same, wanting herein. Merely because something is
done as a matter of practice does not mean that Courts
can rely on the same for purposes of adjudication as a
juridical custom. Juridical custom must be
differentiated from social custom. The former can
supplement statutory law or be applied in the absence
of such statute. Not so with the latter.

in competition with his professional

brethren. He is not bartering his
services as is the artisan nor
exchanging the products of his skill
and learning as the farmer sells
wheat or corn. There should be no
such thing as a lawyers' or
physicians' strike. The best service of
the professional man is often
rendered for no equivalent or for a
trifling equivalent and it is his pride
to do what he does in a way worthy
of his profession even if done with
no expectation of reward, This spirit
of public service in which the
profession of law is and ought to be
exercised is a prerequisite of sound
administration of justice according to
law. The other two elements of a
profession, namely, organization and
pursuit of a learned art have their
justification in that they secure and
maintain that spirit. 25

Moreover, judicial decisions applying or interpreting

the laws form part of the legal system. 22 When the
Supreme Court in the Deen and Perkins cases issued
its Resolutions directing lawyers to desist from
including the names of deceased partners in their firm
designation, it laid down a legal rule against which no
custom or practice to the contrary, even if proven, can
prevail. This is not to speak of our civil law which
clearly ordains that a partnership is dissolved by the
death of any partner. 23 Custom which are contrary to
law, public order or public policy shall not be
countenanced. 24
The practice of law is intimately and peculiarly related
to the administration of justice and should not be
considered like an ordinary "money-making
trade." t.hqw
... It is of the essence of a profession
that it is practiced in a spirit of
public service. A trade ... aims
primarily at personal gain; a
profession at the exercise of powers
beneficial to mankind. If, as in the
era of wide free opportunity, we
think of free competitive self
assertion as the highest good, lawyer
and grocer and farmer may seem to
be freely competing with their
fellows in their calling in order each
to acquire as much of the world's
good as he may within the allowed
him by law. But the member of a
profession does not regard himself as

In fine, petitioners' desire to preserve the Identity of

their firms in the eyes of the public must bow to legal
and ethical impediment.
ACCORDINGLY, the petitions filed herein are denied
and petitioners advised to drop the names "SYCIP"
and "OZAETA" from their respective firm names.
Those names may, however, be included in the listing
of individuals who have been partners in their firms
indicating the years during which they served as such.

Republic of the Philippines


G.R. No. L-28899 May 30, 1974

ALFREDO C. TAJAN, petitioner,
HON. VICENTE N. CUSI, JR., Judge, Court of
First Instance of Davao, respondent.
Jose P. Arro for petitioner.
Hon. Vicente N. Cusi, Jr. in his own behalf.

In this original action of prohibition petitioner Alfredo
C. Tajan challenges the authority of respondent Judge
of the Court of First Instance of Davao to hear
Administrative Case No. 59 of said court involving a
disciplinary action initiated against petitioner as a
member of the Philippine Bar.
In a letter dated December 5, 1967 addressed to
petitioner Alfredo C. Tajan, he was required by
respondent Judge to explain within 72 hours why he
should not be removed or suspended from the practice
of law for preparing, or causing to be prepared, a
petition in court containing factual averments which
petitioner knew were false, to wit:
The records and the transcript of
stenographic notes of Misc. Case

No. 2968 of this Court show that you

prepared and/or caused to be
prepared a verified petition for
issuance of a new owner's duplicate
copy of Transfer Certificate of Title
No. T-7312 in favor of Vicente
Calongo, alleging therein as grounds
therefor, "That the aforesaid Transfer
Certificate was lost by the herein
petitioner in his house in Mati,
Davao; That in spite of the diligent
search of the aforesaid title, the same
could not be found and is therefore
now presumed to be lost," and had
the petition signed by Atty. Justo
Cinco, when you know very well
that the owner's duplicate copy has
always been in the custody of
Municipal Judge Bernardo P.
Saludares of the Municipality of
Kapalong to whom the same was
entrusted by Vicente Calongo, and
that as a result of the petition, this
Court, through the Hon. Vicente P.
Bullecer, Presiding Judge of Branch
IV, issued an Order on June 28,
1967, directing the Register of Deeds
of the City of Davao to issue a new
owner's duplicate of Transfer
Certificate of Title No. T-7312.

Petitioner, in answer thereto, wrote a letter to

respondent Judge on December 7, 1967 denying the
material averments of respondent Judge's letter and
explaining the circumstances under which he prepared
the aforementioned petition.

In view thereof, you are hereby

given seventy-two (72) hours from
the receipt hereof to explain why you
shall not be removed or suspended
from the practice of law.

On April 15, 1968, petitioner filed the present petition,

and on April 17, 1968, this Court gave due course
thereto and ordered the issuance of a writ of
preliminary injunction upon petitioner's posting of a

Apparently not satisfied with petitioner's answer,

respondent Judge had his letter filed and docketed as
Adm. Case No. 59 against petitioner, and, together
with Adm. Case No. 58 against Atty. Justo Cinco, gave
due course thereto and set the same for hearing on
January 24 and 25, 1968. At the hearing on January 24,
1968, petitioner questioned, among others, the
propriety of the proceedings, contending that since the
case was one for disbarment, respondent Judge had no
jurisdiction over the person of petitioner as well as the
subject matter thereof. Petitioner orally moved that
respondent Judge inhibit himself from hearing the
administrative case in view of the latter's conflicting
positions as prosecutor and judge at the same time. The
oral motion was denied.
On February 1, 1968, respondent Judge proceeded to
hear the evidence against petitioner. At the said hearing
Municipal Judge Saludares testified by more or less
reiterating the testimony he previously gave at the
hearing of the petition for relief from the order in
Misc. Case No. 2968 allowing the issuance of an
owner's duplicate of title. The continuation of the
hearing was set for April 26, 1968.

Petitioner's thesis is that respondent Judge has no

authority on his own motion to hear and determine
proceedings for disbarment or suspension of attorneys

because jurisdiction thereon is vested exclusively and

originally in the Supreme Court and not in courts of
first instance. Petitioner also contends that
assumingarguendo that courts of first instance have
such authority, the procedure outlined in Rule 139 of
the Revised Rules of Court should govern the filing
and investigation of the complaint.
We find petitioner's contentions without merit.
1. The power to exclude unfit and unworthy members
of the legal profession stems from the inherent power
of the Supreme Court to regulate the practice of law
and the admission of persons to engage in that
practice. It is a necessary incident to the proper
administration of justice. An attorney-at-law is an
officer of the court in the administration of justice and
as such he is continually accountable to the Court for
the manner in which he exercises the privilege which
has been granted to him. His admission to the practice
of law is upon the implied condition that his continued
enjoyment of the right conferred, is dependent upon
his remaining a fit and safe person to exercise it. When
it appears by acts of misconduct, that he has become
unfit to continue with the trust reposed upon him, his
right to continue in the enjoyment of that trust and for
the enjoyment of the professional privilege accorded to
him may and ought to be forfeited. The law accords to
the Court of Appeals and the Court of First Instance
the power to investigate and suspend members of the
The following provisions of Rule 138 of the Revised
Rules of Court are applicable:
SEC. 28. Suspension of attorney by
the Court of Appeals or a Court of
First Instance. The Court of
Appeals or a Court of First Instance
may suspend an attorney from

practice for any of the causes named

in the last preceding section, and
after such suspension such attorney
shall not practice his profession until
further action of the Supreme Court
in the premises.
SEC. 29. Upon suspension by Court
of Appeals or Court of First
Instance, further proceedings in
Supreme Court. Upon such
suspension, the Court of Appeals or
the Court of First Instance forthwith
transmit to the Supreme Court a
certified copy of the order of
suspension and a full statement of
the facts upon which the same was
based. Upon the receipt of such
certified copy and statement, the
Supreme Court shall make full
investigation of the facts involved
and make such order revoking or
extending the suspension, or
removing the attorney from his
office as such, as the facts warrant.
SEC. 30. Attorney to be heard before
removal or suspension. No
attorney shall be removed or
suspended from the practice of his
profession, until he has had full
opportunity upon reasonable notice
to answer the charges against him, to
produce witnesses in his own behalf,
and to be heard by himself or
counsel. But if upon reasonable
notice he fails to appear and answer
the accusation, the court may
proceed to determine the matter ex

These provisions were taken from Sections 22, 23 and

25, respectively, of the Code of Civil Procedure, which
SEC. 22. Suspension of lawyers.
Courts of First Instance may suspend
a lawyer from the further practice of
his profession for any of the causes
named in the last preceding section,
and after such suspension such
lawyer will not be privileged to
practice his profession in any of the
courts of the Islands until further
action of the Supreme Court in the
SEC. 23. Proceedings upon
suspension. Upon such
suspension the judge of the Court of
First Instance ordering the
suspension shall forthwith transmit
to the Supreme Court a certified
copy of the order of suspension and
a full statement of the facts upon
which the same was based. Upon the
receipt of such certified copy and
statement, the Supreme Court shall
make full investigation of the facts
involved and make such order
revoking or extending the
suspension, or removing the lawyer
permanently from the roll as it shall
find the facts to warrant.
SEC. 25. Hearing of charges. No
lawyer shall be removed from the
roll or be suspended from the
performance of his profession until
he has had full opportunity to answer
the charges against him, and to

produce witnesses in his own behalf

and to be heard by himself and
counsel, if he so desires, upon
reasonable notice. But if upon
reasonable notice the accused fails to
appear and answer the accusation,
the court may proceed to determine
the matter ex parte.
2. It should be observed that proceedings for the
disbarment of members of the bar are not in any sense
a civil action where there is a plaintiff and the
respondent is a defendant. Disciplinary proceedings
involve no private interest and afford no redress for
private grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted
solely for the public welfare. They are undertaken for
the purpose of preserving courts of justice from the
official ministration of persons unfit to practice in
them. The attorney is called to answer to the court for
his conduct as an officer of the court. The complainant
or the person who called the attention of the court to
the attorney's alleged misconduct is in no sense a party,
and has generally no interest in the outcome except as
all good citizens may have in the proper administration
of justice. The court may therefore act upon its own
motion and thus be the initiator of the proceedings,
because, obviously the court may investigate into the
conduct of its own officers. 1 Indeed it is not only the
right but the duty of the Court to institute upon its own
motion, proper proceedings for the suspension or the
disbarment of an attorney, when from information
submitted to it or of its own knowledge it appears that
any attorney has so conducted himself in a case
pending before said court as to show that he is wanting
in the proper measure of respect for the court of which
he is an officer, or is lacking in the good character

essential to his continuance as an attorney. This is for

the protection of the general public and to promote the
purity of the administration of justice.
3. Procedural due process requires that no attorney
may be "removed or suspended from the practice of
his profession, until he has had full opportunity upon
reasonable notice to answer the charges against him, to
produce witnesses in his own behalf, and to be heard
by himself or counsel" (Sec. 30, Rule 138, Revised
Rules of Court). 2
While the aforecited Sec. 30 of Rule 138 does not state
what is a reasonable notice, Sec. 9 of Rule 139, of the
Revised Rules, provides that as far as applicable, the
procedure outlined by the preceding actions of Rule
139 "shall govern the filing and investigation of
complaints against attorneys in the Court of Appeals or
in Courts of First Instance." Section 2 of Rule 139,
provides that the respondent lawyer in disciplinary
proceedings is granted 10 days from service of a copy
of the complaint within which to file his answer. It is
desirable, therefore, that a similar period should be
granted by the Court of First Instance to attorneys
charged before it, for the purpose of uniformity in
procedure. We find, however, that in the case at bar,
petitioner not only failed to question as unreasonable,
the period granted to him by the court within which to
answer the complaint, but actually was not
substantially prejudiced thereby as he filed his answer
to the complaint within the period of 72 hours from
receipt thereof.
Petitioner claims that pursuant to Section 9 of Rule
139, which provides that as far as may be applicable,
the procedure for the investigation by the Solicitor

General of complaints against lawyers referred to said

official by the Supreme Court shall govern the filing
and investigation of complaints against lawyers in the
Court of Appeals and in Courts of First Instance, the
Solicitor General, and not respondent Judge, should be
the one to conduct the present investigation. Sections 3
to 6 of Rule 139 are not applicable to the investigation
of complaints against attorneys in the Court of Appeals
and in Courts of First Instance. The investigation by
the Solicitor General in Section 3 of Rule 139 refers to
complaints referred to said office by this Court and not
to investigations in suspension proceedings before the
Court of Appeals or Courts of First Instance, because
Sections 28 to 30 of Rule 138 authorize said courts and
confer upon them the power to conduct the
investigation themselves, subject to another and final
investigation by the Supreme Court in the event of
suspension of the lawyer. On the basis of the certified
copy of the order of suspension and the statement of
the facts upon which the same is based, required by
Section 29 of Rule 138, the Supreme Court "shall
make full investigation of the facts involved and make
such order revoking or extending the suspension or
removing the attorney from his office as such, as the
facts warrant." In other words, under such
circumstances the intervention of the Solicitor General
would, therefore, be unnecessary.
WHEREFORE, the present person is denied, and the
writ of preliminary injunction previously issued by this
Court is ordered dissolved, with costs against