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In his Comment, respondent admits that Bunan sought his specific

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


assistance to represent him before the MBEC. Respondent claims that he
RANA, respondent.
decided to assist and advice Bunan, not as a lawyer but as a person who
knows the law. Respondent admits signing the 19 May 2001 pleading that
D E C I S I O N | CARPIO, J.: The Case objected to the inclusion of certain votes in the canvassing. He explains,
Before one is admitted to the Philippine Bar, he must possess the however, that he did not sign the pleading as a lawyer or represented
requisite moral integrity for membership in the legal profession. himself as an attorney in the pleading.
Possession of moral integrity is of greater importance than possession of On his employment as secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan,
legal learning. The practice of law is a privilege bestowed only on the respondent claims that he submitted his resignation on 11 May 2001 which
morally fit. A bar candidate who is morally unfit cannot practice law even was allegedly accepted on the same date. He submitted a copy of the
if he passes the bar examinations. Certification of Receipt of Revocable Resignation dated 28 May 2001
The Facts signed by Vice-Mayor Napoleon Relox. Respondent further claims that the
complaint is politically motivated considering that complainant is the
Respondent Edwin L. Rana (respondent) was among those who daughter of Silvestre Aguirre, the losing candidate for mayor of Mandaon,
passed the 2000 Bar Examinations. Masbate. Respondent prays that the complaint be dismissed for lack of
merit and that he be allowed to sign the Roll of Attorneys.
On 21 May 2001, one day before the scheduled mass oath-taking
of successful bar examinees as members of the Philippine Bar, On 22 June 2001, complainant filed her Reply to respondents
complainant Donna Marie Aguirre (complainant) filed against respondent Comment and refuted the claim of respondent that his appearance before
a Petition for Denial of Admission to the Bar. Complainant charged the MBEC was only to extend specific assistance to Bunan. Complainant
respondent with unauthorized practice of law, grave misconduct, violation alleges that on 19 May 2001 Emily Estipona-Hao (Estipona-Hao) filed a
of law, and grave misrepresentation. petition for proclamation as the winning candidate for mayor. Respondent
signed as counsel for Estipona-Hao in this petition. When respondent
The Court allowed respondent to take his oath as a member of the
appeared as counsel before the MBEC, complainant questioned his
Bar during the scheduled oath-taking on 22 May 2001 at the Philippine
appearance on two grounds: (1) respondent had not taken his oath as a
International Convention Center. However, the Court ruled that
lawyer; and (2) he was an employee of the government.
respondent could not sign the Roll of Attorneys pending the resolution of
the charge against him. Thus, respondent took the lawyers oath on the Respondent filed a Reply (Re: Reply to Respondents
scheduled date but has not signed the Roll of Attorneys up to now. Comment) reiterating his claim that the instant administrative case is
motivated mainly by political vendetta.
Complainant charges respondent for unauthorized practice of law
and grave misconduct. Complainant alleges that respondent, while not yet On 17 July 2001, the Court referred the case to the Office of the Bar
a lawyer, appeared as counsel for a candidate in the May 2001 elections Confidant (OBC) for evaluation, report and recommendation.
before the Municipal Board of Election Canvassers (MBEC) of Mandaon,
Masbate. Complainant further alleges that respondent filed with the MBEC OBCs Report and Recommendation
a pleading dated 19 May 2001 entitled Formal Objection to the Inclusion The OBC found that respondent indeed appeared before the MBEC
in the Canvassing of Votes in Some Precincts for the Office of Vice- as counsel for Bunan in the May 2001 elections. The minutes of the MBEC
Mayor. In this pleading, respondent represented himself as counsel for proceedings show that respondent actively participated in the
and in behalf of Vice Mayoralty Candidate, George Bunan, and signed the proceedings. The OBC likewise found that respondent appeared in the
pleading as counsel for George Bunan (Bunan). MBEC proceedings even before he took the lawyers oath on 22 May 2001.
On the charge of violation of law, complainant claims that The OBC believes that respondents misconduct casts a serious doubt on
respondent is a municipal government employee, being a secretary of the his moral fitness to be a member of the Bar. The OBC also believes that
Sangguniang Bayan of Mandaon, Masbate. As such, respondent is not respondents unauthorized practice of law is a ground to deny his
allowed by law to act as counsel for a client in any court or administrative admission to the practice of law. The OBC therefore recommends that
body. respondent be denied admission to the Philippine Bar.

On the charge of grave misconduct and misrepresentation, On the other charges, OBC stated that complainant failed to cite a
complainant accuses respondent of acting as counsel for vice mayoralty law which respondent allegedly violated when he appeared as counsel for
candidate George Bunan (Bunan) without the latter engaging respondents Bunan while he was a government employee. Respondent resigned as
services. Complainant claims that respondent filed the pleading as a ploy secretary and his resignation was accepted. Likewise, respondent was
to prevent the proclamation of the winning vice mayoralty candidate. authorized by Bunan to represent him before the MBEC.

On 22 May 2001, the Court issued a resolution allowing respondent The Courts Ruling
to take the lawyers oath but disallowed him from signing the Roll of We agree with the findings and conclusions of the OBC that
Attorneys until he is cleared of the charges against him. In the same respondent engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and thus does not
resolution, the Court required respondent to comment on the complaint deserve admission to the Philippine Bar.
against him.
Respondent took his oath as lawyer on 22 May 2001. However, the The right to practice law is not a natural or constitutional right but is
records show that respondent appeared as counsel for Bunan prior to 22 a privilege. It is limited to persons of good moral character with special
May 2001, before respondent took the lawyers oath. In the pleading qualifications duly ascertained and certified. The exercise of this privilege
entitled Formal Objection to the Inclusion in the Canvassing of Votes in presupposes possession of integrity, legal knowledge, educational
Some Precincts for the Office of Vice-Mayor dated 19 May 2001, attainment, and even public trust[4] since a lawyer is an officer of the
respondent signed as counsel for George Bunan.In the first paragraph court. A bar candidate does not acquire the right to practice law simply by
of the same pleading respondent stated that he was the (U)ndersigned passing the bar examinations. The practice of law is a privilege that can
Counsel for, and in behalf of Vice Mayoralty Candidate, GEORGE T. be withheld even from one who has passed the bar examinations, if the
BUNAN. Bunan himself wrote the MBEC on 14 May 2001 that he had person seeking admission had practiced law without a license.[5]
authorized Atty. Edwin L. Rana as his counsel to represent him before the
The regulation of the practice of law is unquestionably
MBEC and similar bodies.
strict. In Beltran, Jr. v. Abad,[6] a candidate passed the bar examinations
On 14 May 2001, mayoralty candidate Emily Estipona-Hao also but had not taken his oath and signed the Roll of Attorneys. He was held
retained respondent as her counsel. On the same date, 14 May 2001, Erly in contempt of court for practicing law even before his admission to the
D. Hao informed the MBEC that Atty. Edwin L. Rana has been authorized Bar. Under Section 3 (e) of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, a person who
by REFORMA LM-PPC as the legal counsel of the party and the candidate engages in the unauthorized practice of law is liable for indirect contempt
of the said party. Respondent himself wrote the MBEC on 14 May 2001 of court.[7]
that he was entering his appearance as counsel for Mayoralty
True, respondent here passed the 2000 Bar Examinations and took
Candidate Emily Estipona-Hao and for the REFORMA LM-PPC. On 19
the lawyers oath. However, it is the signing in the Roll of Attorneys that
May 2001, respondent signed as counsel for Estipona-Hao in the petition
finally makes one a full-fledged lawyer. The fact that respondent passed
filed before the MBEC praying for the proclamation of Estipona-Hao as the
the bar examinations is immaterial. Passing the bar is not the only
winning candidate for mayor of Mandaon, Masbate.
qualification to become an attorney-at-law.[8] Respondent should know
All these happened even before respondent took the lawyers that two essential requisites for becoming a lawyer still had to be
oath. Clearly, respondent engaged in the practice of law without being a performed, namely: his lawyers oath to be administered by this Court and
member of the Philippine Bar. his signature in the Roll of Attorneys.[9]

In Philippine Lawyers Association v. Agrava,[1] the Court elucidated On the charge of violation of law, complainant contends that the law
that: does not allow respondent to act as counsel for a private client in any court
or administrative body since respondent is the secretary of the
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in Sangguniang Bayan.
court; it embraces the preparation of pleadings and other papers incident
Respondent tendered his resignation as secretary of the
to actions and special proceedings, the management of such actions and
Sangguniang Bayan prior to the acts complained of as constituting
proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and in
unauthorized practice of law. In his letter dated 11 May 2001 addressed
addition, conveyancing. In general, all advice to clients, and all action
to Napoleon Relox, vice- mayor and presiding officer of the Sangguniang
taken for them in matters connected with the law, incorporation services,
Bayan, respondent stated that he was resigning effective upon your
assessment and condemnation services contemplating an appearance
acceptance.[10] Vice-Mayor Relox accepted respondents resignation
before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a mortgage, enforcement of a
effective 11 May 2001.[11] Thus, the evidence does not support the charge
creditor's claim in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and
that respondent acted as counsel for a client while serving as secretary of
conducting proceedings in attachment, and in matters of estate and
the Sangguniang Bayan.
guardianship have been held to constitute law practice, as do the
preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the work done On the charge of grave misconduct and misrepresentation,
involves the determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect of evidence shows that Bunan indeed authorized respondent to represent
facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jur. p. 262, 263). (Italics supplied) x x x him as his counsel before the MBEC and similar bodies. While there was
no misrepresentation, respondent nonetheless had no authority to practice
In Cayetano v. Monsod,[2] the Court held that practice of law means law.
any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal
WHEREFORE, respondent Edwin L. Rana is DENIED admission to
procedure, knowledge, training and experience. To engage in the practice
the Philippine Bar.
of law is to perform acts which are usually performed by members of the
legal profession. Generally, to practice law is to render any kind of service SO ORDERED.
which requires the use of legal knowledge or skill.

Verily, respondent was engaged in the practice of law when he


appeared in the proceedings before the MBEC and filed various pleadings,
without license to do so. Evidence clearly supports the charge of
unauthorized practice of law. Respondent called himself counsel knowing
fully well that he was not a member of the Bar. Having held himself out as
counsel knowing that he had no authority to practice law, respondent has
shown moral unfitness to be a member of the Philippine Bar.[3]
DONNA MARIE S. AGUIRRE, COMPLAINANT, VS. Cayetano vs. Monsod 201 SCRA 210 September 1991
EDWIN L. RANA, RESPONDENT
Facts: Rana was among those who passed the 2000 Bar Examinations. Cayetano vs. Monsod 201 SCRA 210 September 1991
before the scheduled mass oath-taking, complainant Aguirre filed against
respondent a Petition for Denial of Admission to the Bar. Facts: Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President
Corazon C. Aquino to the position of chairman of the COMELEC.
The Court allowed respondent to take his oath. Respondent took the Petitioner opposed the nomination because allegedly Monsod does not
lawyer’s oath on the scheduled date but has not signed the Roll of posses required qualification of having been engaged in the practice of
Attorneys up to now. law for at least ten years. The 1987 constitution provides in Section 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
Complainant alleges that respondent, while not yet a lawyer, appeared as
the Philippines and, at the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five
counsel for a candidate in an election.
years of age, holders of a college degree, and must not have been
candidates for any elective position in the immediately preceding
On the charge of violation of law, complainant claims that respondent is a
elections. However, a majority thereof, including the Chairman, shall be
municipal government employee, being a secretary of the Sangguniang
members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of
Bayan of Mandaon, Masbate. As such, respondent is not allowed by law
law for at least ten years.
to act as counsel for a client in any court or administrative body.
Issue: Whether the respondent does not posses the required
On the charge of grave misconduct and misrepresentation, complainant qualification of having engaged in the practice of law for at least ten
accuses respondent of acting as counsel for vice mayoralty candidate years.
George Bunan without the latter engaging respondent’s services.
Complainant claims that respondent filed the pleading as a ploy to prevent Held: In the case of Philippine Lawyers Association vs. Agrava, stated:
the proclamation of the winning vice mayoralty candidate. 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
Issue: Whether or not respondent engaged in the unauthorized practice of to actions and special proceeding, the management of such actions and
law and thus does not deserve admission to the Philippine Bar proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and in
addition, conveying. In general, all advice to clients, and all action taken
Ruling: the Court held that “practice of law” means any activity, in or out of for them in matters connected with the law incorporation services,
court, which requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, assessment and condemnation services, contemplating an appearance
training and experience. To engage in the practice of law is to perform acts before judicial body, the foreclosure of mortgage, enforcement of a
which are usually performed by members of the legal profession. creditor’s claim in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and
Generally, to practice law is to render any kind of service which requires conducting proceedings in attachment, and in matters of estate and
the use of legal knowledge or skill. guardianship have been held to constitute law practice. Practice of law
means any activity, in or out court, which requires the application of law,
The right to practice law is not a natural or constitutional right but is a legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience.
privilege. It is limited to persons of good moral character with special
qualifications duly ascertained and certified. The exercise of this privilege The contention that Atty. Monsod does not posses the required
presupposes possession of integrity, legal knowledge, educational qualification of having engaged in the practice of law for at least ten
attainment, and even public trust since a lawyer is an officer of the court. years is incorrect since Atty. Monsod’s past work experience as a
A bar candidate does not acquire the right to practice law simply by lawyer-economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry,
passing the bar examinations. The practice of law is a privilege that can a lawyer-negotiator of contracts, and a lawyer-legislator of both rich and
be withheld even from one who has passed the bar examinations, if the the poor – verily more than satisfy the constitutional requirement for the
person seeking admission had practiced law without a license. position of COMELEC chairman, The respondent has been engaged in
the practice of law for at least ten years does In the view of the
True, respondent here passed the 2000 Bar Examinations and took the foregoing, the petition is DISMISSED.
lawyer’s oath. However, it is the signing in the Roll of Attorneys that finally
makes one a full-fledged lawyer. The fact that respondent passed the bar
examinations is immaterial. Passing the bar is not the only qualification to
become an attorney-at-law. Respondent should know that two essential
requisites for becoming a lawyer still had to be performed, namely: his
lawyer’s oath to be administered by this Court and his signature in the Roll
of Attorneys.
CRUZ VS CABRERA A.C. No. 6705 March 31, 2006
SECOND DIVISION[ A.C. No. 5737, October 25, 2004 ] RUTHIE LIM-SANTIAGO, Complainant, 
vs.
ATTY. CARLOS B. SAGUCIO,
FERDINAND A. CRUZ, COMPLAINANT, Respondent.
VS. CARPIO, J.:
ATTY. STANLEY CABRERA, RESPONDENT.

DOCTRINE: the law does not distinguish between consultancy services and
Facts: Complainant alleges that he is a fourth year law student; since the latter part of
retainer agreement. For as long as respondent performed acts that are usually
2001, he instituted several actions against his neighbors; he appeared for and in his
behalf in his own cases; he met respondent who acted as the counsel of his neighbors;
rendered by lawyers with the use of their legal knowledge, the same falls within the
during a hearing on January 14, 2002, in one case before the Regional Trial Court, ambit of the term "practice of law."
Branch 112, Pasay City, presided by Judge Caridad Cuerdo.
Respondent’s imputations were uncalled for and the latter’s act of compelling the NATURE: Disbarment complaint
court to ask complainant whether he is a lawyer or not was intended to malign him FACTS:
before the public, inasmuch as respondent knew that complainant is not a lawyer, 1. Ruthie Lim-Santiago ("complainant") is the daughter of Alfonso Lim and
having appeared for and in his behalf as a party litigant in prior cases; respondent’s Special Administratrix of his estate. Alfonso Lim is a stockholder and
imputations of complainant’s misrepresentation as a lawyer was patently with malice to the former President of Taggat Industries, Inc, a domestic corporation
discredit his honor, with the intention to threaten him not to appear anymore in cases engaged in the operation of timber concessions from the government.
respondent was handling; the manner, substance, tone of voice and how the words PCGG sequestered it and its operations ceased.
“appear ka ng appear, pumasa ka muna!” were uttered were totally with the intention 2. Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio ("respondent") was the former Personnel
to annoy, vex and humiliate, malign, ridicule, incriminate and discredit complainant Manager and Retained Counsel of Taggat Industries, Inc. until his
before the public. appointment as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Tuguegarao,
Cagayan.
Issue: Whether or not respondent violated Rule 8.01 of the Code of Professional
3. employees of Taggat ("Taggat employees") filed a criminal complaint
Responsibility
entitled "Jesus Tagorda, Jr. et al. v. Ruthie Lim-Santiago," docketed as
Whether or not complainant is not precluded from litigating personally his cases
Whether or not complainant is engaged in the practice of law
I.S. No. 97-240 ("criminal complaint"). Taggat employees alleged that
complainant, who took over the management and control of Taggat
Ruling: after the death of her father, withheld payment of their salaries and
wages without valid cause
1. We hold that respondent’s outburst of “appear ka ng appear, pumasa ka muna” 4. Respondent, as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, was assigned to
does not amount to a violation of Rule 8.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. conduct the preliminary investigation. He resolved the criminal
Such single outburst, though uncalled for, is not of such magnitude as to warrant complaint by recommending the filing of 651 Informations for violation
respondent’s suspension or reproof. It is but a product of impulsiveness or the heat of of Article 288 in relation to Article 116 of the Labor Code of the
the moment in the course of an argument between them. It has been said that lawyers Philippines.
should not be held to too strict an account for words said in the heat of the moment, 5. Complainant now charges respondent with the following violations:
because of chagrin at losing cases, and that the big way is for the court to condone a. Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility-
even contemptuous language. guilty of representing conflicting interests. Respondent,
2. Nonetheless, we remind respondent that complainant is not precluded from litigating
being the former Personnel Manager and Retained
personally his cases. A party’s right to conduct litigation personally is recognized by
Counsel of Taggat, knew the operations of Taggat very
Section 34 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court: SEC. 34. By whom litigation conducted.
well. Respondent should have inhibited himself from
— In the court of a justice of the peace a party may conduct his litigation in person,
hearing, investigating and deciding the case filed by Taggat
with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with the aid of
an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid employees.
of an attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly authorized b. Engaging in the private practice of law while working as a
member of the bar. government prosecutor- Engaging in the private practice of
3. The practice of law, though impossible to define exactly, involves the exercise of a law while working as a government prosecutor. He received
profession or vocation usually for gain, mainly as attorney by acting in a representative retainer’s fees which respondent claims to only consultation
capacity and as counsel by rendering legal advise to others. Private practice has been fees.
defined by this Court as follows: 6. Complainant seeks the disbarment of respondent for the violations
x x x. Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or committed.
customary action, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is frequent 7. Respondent claims that when the criminal complaint was filed,
habitual exercise. Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute [referring to the respondent had resigned from Taggat for more than five years and
prohibition for judges and other officials or employees of the superior courts or of the refutes complainant’s allegations and counters that complainant was
Office of the Solicitor General from engaging in private practice] has been interpreted merely aggrieved by the resolution of the criminal complaint which was
as customarily or habitually holding one’s self out to the public, as a lawyer and
adverse and contrary to her expectation.
demanding payment for such services. x x x.
8. Respondent points out that complainant did not file a motion to inhibit
Clearly, in appearing for herself, complainant was not customarily or habitually holding
respondent from hearing the criminal complaint and states that
herself out to the public as a lawyer. Neither was she demanding payment for such
complainant’s reason in not filing a motion to inhibit was her impression
services. Hence, she cannot be said to be in the practice of law.
On the other hand, all lawyers should take heed that lawyers are licensed officers of that respondent would exonerate her from the charges filed
the courts who are empowered to appear, prosecute and defend; and upon whom 9. While this disbarment case was pending, the Resolution and Order
peculiar duties, responsibilities and liabilities are devolved by law as a consequence. issued by respondent to file 651 Informations against complainant was
Membership in the bar imposes upon them certain obligations. Mandated to maintain reversed and set aside by Regional State Prosecutor. Hence, the
the dignity of the legal profession, they must conduct themselves honorably and fairly. criminal complaint was dismissed.
Though a lawyer’s language may be forceful and emphatic, it should always be
dignified and respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal profession. The use of ISSUE: Whether or not respondent was engaged in private practice of law
intemperate language and unkind ascriptions has no place in the dignity of judicial while being a public official.
forum.
YES. Government prosecutors are prohibited to engage in the private ALAWI V. ALAUYA AM No. SDC-97-2-P – February 24 1997 Narvasa
practice of law. The act of being a legal consultant is a practice of law. To engage SUBJECT: Canon 9 – Assisting in unauthorized practice of law
in the practice of law is to do any of those acts that are characteristic of the legal
profession. It covers any activity, in or out of court, which required the application FACTS: Sophia Alawi was a sales representative of EB Villarosa & Partners Co.,
of law, legal principles, practice or procedures and calls for legal knowledge, Ltd of Davao City, a real estate housing company. Ashari M. Alauya is the
training and experience. incumbent executive clerk of court of the 4th Judicial Shari’a District in Marawi City.

ISSUE: whether being a former lawyer of Taggat conflicts with his role as Through Alawi’s agency, a contract was executed for the purchase on installment
Assistant Provincial Prosecutor by Alauya of one of the housing units belonging to the Villarosa & Co. and in
connection therewith, a housing loan was also granted to Alauya by the National
HELD: YES. A lawyer owes something to a former client. Herein Respondent Home Mortgage Finance Corp. (NHMFC). Not long afterwards, Alauya addressed
owes to Taggat, a former client, the duty to "maintain inviolate the client’s a letter to the President of Villarosa & Co. and to NHMFC advising of the
confidence or to refrain from doing anything which will injuriously affect him in any termination of his contract with Villarosa & Co., as his consent was vitiated by gross
matter in which he previously represented him." misrepresentation, deceit, fraud, dishonesty, and abuse of confidence. According
to him, he was induced by Alawi to sign a blank contract on the assurance that
I.S. No. 97-240 was filed for "Violation of Labor Code" (see Resolution of the Alawi would show the completed document to him later for correction, but she never
Provincial Prosecutors Office, Annex "B" of Complaint). Herein Complainant, did.
Ruthie Lim-Santiago, was being accused as having the "management and control"
of Taggat. Clearly, as a former Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat, Alawi, in response, filed a verified complaint praying that Alauya be dismissed or
herein Respondent undoubtedly handled the personnel and labor concerns of disciplined, for the reason, among other that he usurped the title of attorney which
Taggat. Respondent, undoubtedly dealt with and related with the employees of only regular members of the Philippine Bar may use.
Taggat. Therefore, Respondent undoubtedly dealt with and related with
complainants in I.S. No. 97-240. In response, Alauya first submitted a preliminary comment in which he questioned
the authority of Atty. Marasigan, Asst. Div. Clerk of Court who signed the notices
It should not be forgotten, however, that a lawyer has an immutable duty to a of resolution, to require explanation of him, pertaining him as a mere assistant and
former client with respect to matters that he previously handled for that former that the resolution was a result of strong link between Alawi and Atty. Marasigan’s
client. In this case, matters relating to personnel, labor policies, and labor relations office.
that he previously handled as Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat.
I.S. No. 97-240 was for "Violation of the Labor Code." Here lies the conflict. Alauya justified his use of the title “attorney” by the assertion that it is lexically
Perhaps it would have been different had I.S. No. 97-240 not been labor-related, synonymous with “counselors-at-law”, a title to which Shari’a lawyers have a
or if Respondent had not been a Personnel Manager concurrently as Legal rightful claim, adding that he prefers the title of “attorney” because “counselor” is
Counsel. But as it is, I.S. No. 97-240 is labor-related and Respondent was a former often mistaken for “councilor”, “konsehal” or the Maranao term “consial,” connoting
Personnel Manager of Taggat. a local legislator beholden to the mayor. Withal, he does not consider himself a
lawyer.

RULING. The Court exonerates respondent from the charge of violation of Rule ISSUE: WON respondent Alauya is allowed to used the title “attorney” although
15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (conflicting interest.) In the present only passing the Shari’a Bar.
case, we find no conflict of interests when respondent handled the preliminary
investigation of the criminal complaint filed by Taggat employees in 1997. The issue HELD: No! Persons who pass the Shari’a Bar are not full-pledged members of the
in the criminal complaint pertains to non-payment of wages that occurred from 1 Philippines Bar, hence may only practice law before Shari’a courts. While one has
April 1996 to 15 July 1997. Clearly, respondent was no longer connected with been admitted to the Shari’a Bar, and one who was been admitted to the
Taggat during that period since he resigned sometime in 1992. Philippines Bar, may both be considered “counselors,” in the sense that they give
counsel or advice in a professional capacity, only the latter is an “attorney.” The
However, the Court finds respondent liable for violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of title of “attorney” is reserved to those who, having obtained the necessary degree
the Code of Professional Responsibility against unlawful conduct. 42 Respondent in the study of law and successfully taken the Bar Examinations, have been
committed unlawful conduct when he violated Section 7(b)(2) of the Code of admitted to the IBP and remain members thereof in good standing; and it is only
Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees or Republic Act them who are authorized to practice law in this jurisdiction. Respondent’s
No. 6713 ("RA 6713"). disinclination to use the title of “counselor” does not warrant his use of the title
attorney.
Respondent is mandated under Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 not to engage in "unlawful x
x x conduct." Unlawful conduct includes violation of the statutory prohibition on a As a member of the Shari’s Bar and an officer of the Court, Alawi is subject to a
government employee to "engage in the private practice of [his] profession unless standard of conduct more stringent than for most other government workers. As a
authorized by the Constitution or law, provided, that such practice will not conflict man of the law, he may not use language which is abusive, offensive, scandalous,
or tend to conflict with [his] official functions." menacing, or otherwise improper. As a judicial employee, it is expected that he
accord respect for the persons and the rights of others at all times, and that his
WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio GUILTY of violation of every act and word should be characterized by prudence, restraint, courtesy,
Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, we dignity. His radical deviation from these salutary norms might perhaps be mitigated,
SUSPEND respondent Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio from the practice of law for SIX but cannot be excused, but his strongly held conviction that he had been grievously
MONTHS effective upon finality of this Decision. wronged. Alauya was reprimanded for use of excessively intemperate insulting or
virulent language, i.e, language unbecoming a judicial officer, and for usurping the
title attorney; and is warned that any similar or other impropriety or misconduct in
the future will be dealt with more severely.
Encarnacion Banogon vs Melchor Zerna
Whether or not the order of the respondent judged in denying the
154 SCRA 593 – Legal Ethics – Speedy and Proper Administration motion of the petitioner is a grave abuse of discretion?
of Justice
Holding:
In 1926, a judgment favorable to Zerna was issued by a cadastral
court. In 1957 or thirty one years later, Banogon filed a motion to No, Ledesma's withdrawal would be an act showing his lack of
amend the 1926 decisions. An opposition was filed by Zerna in the fidelity to the duty rqeuired of the legal profession. He ought to have
same year. Banogon’s counsel repeatedly failed to set for hearing known that membership in the bar is burdened with conditions. The
and in 1971 or fourteen years later, Zerna filed for a motion to legal profession is dedicated to the ideal of service, and is not a
dismiss which was granted by reason of Banogon’s filing being out mere trade. A lawyer may be required to act as counsel de oficio to
of time. aid in the performance of the administration of justice. The fact that
such services are rendered without pay should not diminish the
ISSUE: Whether or not Banogon’s suit should prosper. lawyer's zeal.

HELD: No. He slept on his rights hence laches had set in. The Ratio:
Supreme Court also took time to remind lawyers to judiciously
study facts and laws so as to avoid the filing of improper cases such “The only attorneys who cannot practice law by reason of their
as this case where the filing of motions and pleadings was way out office are Judges, or other officials or employees of the superior
of time. One reason why there is a degree of public distrust for courts or the office of the solicitor General (Section 32 Rule 127 of
lawyers is the way some of them misinterpret the law to the point the Rules of Court [Section 35 of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of
of distortion in a cunning effort to achieve their purposes. As Court]. The lawyer involved not being among them, remained as
officers of the court, lawyers have a responsibility to assist in the counsel of record since he did not file a motion to withdraw as
proper administration of justice. They do not discharge this duty by defendant-appellant’s counsel after his appointment as Register of
filing pointless petitions that only add to the workload of the Deeds. Nor was substitution of attorney asked either by him or by
judiciary. Lawyers do not advance the cause of law or their clients the new counsel for the defendant-appellant (People vs. Williams
by commencing litigations that for sheer lack of merit do not CA G.R. Nos. 00375-76, February 28, 1963)
deserve the attention of the courts. To avoid any frustration thereof, especially in the case of
an indigent defendant, a lawyer may be required to act as counsel
de officio (People v. Daban) Moreover, The right of an accused in
Adelino H. Ledesma v. Hon. Rafael C. Climaco a criminal case to be represented by counsel is a constitutional right
of the highest importance, and there can be no fair hearing with due
G.R. No. L- 23815 (June 28, 1974) process of law unless he is fully informed of his rights in this regard
and given opportunity to enjoy them (People vs. Holgado, L-2809,
Legal Ethics : Definition March 22, 1950)
The trial court in a criminal case has authority to provide
Facts: the accused with a counsel de officio for such action as it may deem
fit to safeguard the rights of the accused (Provincial Fiscal of Rizal
Petitioner Ledesma was assigned as counsel de parte for an vs. Judge Muñoz Palma, L-15325, August 31, 1930)
accused in a case pending in the sala of the respondent judge. On
October 13, 1964, Ledesma was appointed Election Registrar for
the Municipality of Cadiz, Negros Occidental. He commenced
discharging his duties, and filed a motion to withdraw from his
position as counsel de parte. The respondent Judge denied him
and also appointed him as counsel de oficio for the two defendants.
On November 6, Ledesma filed a motion to be allowed to withdraw
as counsel de oficio, because the Comelec requires full time
service which could prevent him from handling adequately the
defense. Judge denied the motion. So Ledesma instituted this
certiorari proceeding.

Issue:
Santos, Jr. vs. Atty. Llamas, AC 4749
23JUL

FACTS: Atty. Francisco Llamas was complained of not paying his


IBP dues.He was also cited in the complaint as not paying his
professional tax or PTR as it was intermittently indicated in his
pleadings filed in court. It was also an alleged falsity when he
included his “IBP-Rizal 259060” where in fact he was not in good
standing. Petitioner cited that Atty. Llamas was dismissed as Pasay
City Judge. But later revealed that the decision was reversed and
he was subsequently promoted as RTC Judge of Makati. He also
had criminal case involving estafabut was appealed pending in the
Court of Appeals. In the numerous violations of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, he expressed willingness to settle the
IBP dues and plea for a more temperate application of the law.

ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Llamas is guilty of violating the Code


of Professional Responsibility.

HELD: YES. Respondent was suspended from the practice of law


for one (1) year, or until he has paid his IBP dues.

RATIO: Even if he had “limited” practice of law, it does not relieve


him of the duties such as payment of IBP dues. Rule 139-A
provides:

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 Attorneys.

Under the Code of Professional Responsibility:


Rule 1.01 — A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest,
immoral or deceitful conduct.
Rule 10.01 — A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to
the doing of any court; nor shall he mislead or allow the court to be
misled by any artifice.
FERDINAND A. CRUZ, complainant, vs. ATTY. STANLEY CABRERA, respondent. that complainant is not a lawyer was because the presiding judge did not know that
complainant is not a lawyer and complainant did not inform the presiding judge that he
RESOLUTION is not a lawyer when he stated: for the plaintiff your honor; he stated pumasa ka muna out
of indignation because of complainants temerity in misrepresenting himself as lawyer; it
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: is surprising that the City Prosecutor of Pasay City filed a complaint for oral defamation
against him considering that in a precedent case the Supreme Court stated: It is a settled
principle in this jurisdiction that statements made in the course of judicial proceedings
In an administrative complaint dated July 7, 2002, Ferdinand A. Cruz charges
are absolutely privileged (Navarrete vs. Court of Appeals, 325 SCRA 540); in another
Atty. Stanley Cabrera with misconduct in violation of the Code of Professional
malicious prosecution being perpetuated by the complainant against the Mina family
Responsibility.
pending before Judge Priscilla Mijares of RTC Branch 108, Pasay City, they were able
Complainant alleges that he is a fourth year law student; since the latter part of to prohibit the appearance of complainant as counsel for himself as authenticated by an
2001, he instituted several actions against his neighbors; he appeared for and in his Order of Judge Priscilla Mijares which allegedly stated among other; to wit:
behalf in his own cases; he met respondent who acted as the counsel of his neighbors;
during a hearing on January 14, 2002, in one case before the Regional Trial Court, In connection with Ferdinand A. Cruzs motion to appear as counsel, the motion is
Branch 112, Pasay City, presided by Judge Caridad Cuerdo, the following exchange likewise denied, movant not having satisfied the requirements and conditions under
transpired: Rule 138-A, Sections 1 and 2.

xxx xxx So, may we know your honor, if he is a lawyer or not? Respondent alleges that when complainant filed an administrative case against
Judge Priscilla Mijares when said Judge stated in Tagalog in open court Hay naku
The Court having been inhibited by the respondent from hearing the masama yung marunong pa sa Huwes! OK? the same was dismissed by the Honorable
case, replied: Courts Third Division which stated among others: That the questioned remarks of
respondent were uttered more out of frustration and in reaction to complainants
actuations and taking into account that complainant is not yet a lawyer but was already
You are asking for my inhibition and yet you want me to rule on his
lecturing the court on a matter which is not even a point of discussion was sheer
appearance xxx xxx.
arrogance on the part of the complainant. Respondent prays that the complaint against
him be dismissed for lack of merit.
Thereafter, the respondent said:
The administrative case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
Because your honor, he (pertaining to the complainant) is
misrepresenting himself to be a lawyer! In a report, dated March 4, 2004, IBP Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro
recommended respondents suspension from the practice of law for a period of three
To this the complainant remarked: months for violating Rule 8.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides:

Your Honor, Im not xxx xxx. A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive,
offensive or otherwise improper.
Respondent, this time engulfed with anger in a raising voice said:
In her report, Commissioner Navarro stated:
Appear ka ng appear, pumasa ka muna; x x x.
After going over the evidence submitted by the parties, the undersigned noted that
Respondents imputations were uncalled for and the latters act of compelling the court respondents averment that the utterances he made in open court is (sic) privileged
to ask complainant whether he is a lawyer or not was intended to malign him before the communication does not hold water for the same was (sic) not relevant to the issue of
public, inasmuch as respondent knew that complainant is not a lawyer, having appeared the case in question under trial before the said court.
for and in his behalf as a party litigant in prior cases; respondents imputations of
complainants misrepresentation as a lawyer was patently with malice to discredit his Respondent did not refute the fact that the same utterances he made in open court
honor, with the intention to threaten him not to appear anymore in cases respondent against the complainant had been the basis for his indictment of Oral Defamation and
was handling; the manner, substance, tone of voice and how the words appear ka ng later Unjust Vexation under Criminal Cases Nos. 02-1031 and No. 02-2136
appear, pumasa ka muna! were uttered were totally with the intention to annoy, vex and respectively, pending trial before MTC Branch 45, Pasay City.
humiliate, malign, ridicule, incriminate and discredit complainant before the public.
Likewise respondent did not refute complainants allegation that in 1979 he was held in
Complainant claims that respondents display of improper attitude, arrogance,
contempt and was not allowed to practice law for seven years by the Supreme Court in
misbehavior, misconduct in the performance of his duties both as a lawyer and officer
the administrative case filed against him by Emilia E. Andres on December 14, 1979
of the court, before the public and the court, was a patent transgression of the very ethics
docketed as A.M. L-585 for his fondness in using contumacious language in his
that lawyers are sworn to uphold in their dealings with society and corresponding
appropriate penalty or sanctions for the said administrative violations should be imposed dealing with others.
on the respondent.
From the facts obtaining, it is apparent that the utterance hurled by the respondent in
In his Comment, respondent contends that the complaint filed against him is a the manner, substance and tone of his voice which was not refuted by him that appear
vicious scheme to dissuade him from appearing as counsel for the Mina family against ka ng appear, pumasa ka muna in whatever manner it was uttered are in itself not only
whom complainant had filed several civil and criminal cases including him to further abusive but insulting specially on the part of law students who have not yet taken nor
complainants illegal practice of law; complainants complaint occurred during a judicial passed the bar examination required of them.
proceeding wherein complainant was able to represent himself considering that he was
appearing in barong tagalog thus the presiding judge was misled when she issued an
Respondent should have been more discreet and cautious in informing the court if it
order stating [i]n todays hearing both lawyers appeared; because of which, respondent
was his purpose relative to complainants appearance in court; although the latter
stated: Your honor I would like to manifest that this counsel (referring to complainant)
appeared only in his behalf but not for others if he had complied with the requirements
who represents the plaintiff in this case is not a lawyer, to which complainant replied:
of Rule 138 (Sections 1 and 3) of the Rules of Court.
The counsel very well know that I am not yet a lawyer; the reason he informed the court
Respondent should have been more temperate in making utterances in his This provision means that in a litigation, parties may personally do everything during its
professional dealings so as not to offend the sensitivities of the other party as in this progress -- from its commencement to its termination. When they, however, act as
case. their own attorneys, they are restricted to the same rules of evidence and procedure as
those qualified to practice law; otherwise, ignorance would be unjustifiably rewarded.
On April 16, 2004, the IBP Board of Governors passed a Resolution to annul and Individuals have long been permitted to manage, prosecute and defend their own
set aside the recommendation of the investigating commissioner and to approve the actions; and when they do so, they are not considered to be in the practice of law. One
dismissal of the case for lack of merit. does not practice law by acting for himself any more than he practices medicine by
rendering first aid to himself.
Prefatorily, we note that the IBP Board of Governors failed to observe the
procedural requirements of Sec. 12 of Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court on review and The practice of law, though impossible to define exactly, involves the exercise of a
decision by the Board of Governors which states: profession or vocation usually for gain, mainly as attorney by acting in a representative
capacity and as counsel by rendering legal advise to others. Private practice has been
SEC. 12. Review and decision by the Board of Governors. (a) Every case heard by an defined by this Court as follows:
investigator shall be reviewed by the IBP Board of Governors upon the record and
evidence transmitted to it by the Investigator with his report. The decision of the x x x. Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or
Board upon such review shall be in writing and shall clearly and distinctly state customary action, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is frequent
the facts and the reasons on which it is based. It shall be promulgated within a habitual exercise. Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute [referring to the
period not exceeding thirty (30) days from the next meeting of the Board following the prohibition for judges and other officials or employees of the superior courts or of the
submittal of the Investigators report. (Emphasis supplied) Office of the Solicitor General from engaging in private practice] has been interpreted
as customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the public, as a lawyer and
In Teodosio vs. Nava,[1] the Court stressed the important function of the demanding payment for such services. x x x.
requirement that the decision of the Board of Governors state the facts and the reasons
on which it is based, which is akin to what is required of the decisions of courts of record, Clearly, in appearing for herself, complainant was not customarily or habitually holding
thus: herself out to the public as a lawyer. Neither was she demanding payment for such
services. Hence, she cannot be said to be in the practice of law.[7]
For aside from informing the parties the reason for the decision to enable them to point
out to the appellate court the findings with which they are not in agreement, in case On the other hand, all lawyers should take heed that lawyers are licensed officers
any of them decides to appeal the decision, it is also an assurance that the judge, or of the courts who are empowered to appear, prosecute and defend; and upon whom
the Board of Governors in this case, reached his judgment through the process of legal peculiar duties, responsibilities and liabilities are devolved by law as a consequence.
reasoning.[2] Membership in the bar imposes upon them certain obligations. Mandated to maintain
the dignity of the legal profession, they must conduct themselves honorably and
In this case, the Board of Governors resolution absolving respondent of any fairly.[8] Though a lawyers language may be forceful and emphatic, it should always be
misconduct does not contain any findings of facts or law upon which it based its ruling. dignified and respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal profession. The use of
Ordinarily, non-compliance with the rule would result in the remand of the case. intemperate language and unkind ascriptions has no place in the dignity of judicial
Nonetheless, where the controversy has been pending resolution for quite sometime forum.[9]
and the issues involved could be resolved on the basis of the records on appeal, the
Court has opted to resolve the case in the interest of justice and speedy disposition of WHEREFORE, the complaint against respondent Atty. Stanley Cabrera for
cases.[3] This case falls within the exception. misconduct in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility is DISMISSED for lack
of merit. He is, however, admonished to be more circumspect in the performance of his
We hold that respondents outburst of appear ka ng appear, pumasa ka duties as an officer of the court.
muna does not amount to a violation of Rule 8.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. SO ORDERED.

Based on the facts of this case, such outburst came about when respondent Puno, (Chairman), Callejo, Sr., Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.
pointed out to the trial court that complainant is not a lawyer to correct the judges
impression of complainants appearance, inasmuch as the judge, in her Order of January
14, 2002, noted that complainant is a lawyer.[4] Such single outburst, though uncalled
for, is not of such magnitude as to warrant respondents suspension or reproof. It is but
a product of impulsiveness or the heat of the moment in the course of an argument
between them. It has been said that lawyers should not be held to too strict an account
for words said in the heat of the moment, because of chagrin at losing cases, and that
the big way is for the court to condone even contemptuous language.[5]

Nonetheless, we remind respondent that complainant is not precluded from


litigating personally his cases. A partys right to conduct litigation personally is recognized
by Section 34 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court:

SEC. 34. By whom litigation conducted. -- In the court of a justice of the peace a party
may conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him
for that purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct
his litigation personally or by aid of an attorney, and his appearance must be either
personal or by a duly authorized member of the bar.

In Maderada vs. Mediodea,[6] this Court expounded on the foregoing provision,


thus:
A.C. No. 6705 March 31, 2006 Complainant seeks the disbarment of respondent for violating Rule 15.03 of the
RUTHIE LIM-SANTIAGO, Complainant, vs. Code of Professional Responsibility and for defying the prohibition against private
ATTY. CARLOS B. SAGUCIO, Respondent. practice of law while working as government prosecutor.

DECISION Respondent refutes complainant’s allegations and counters that complainant was
merely aggrieved by the resolution of the criminal complaint which was adverse
CARPIO, J.: The Case and contrary to her expectation. 19

This is a disbarment complaint against Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio for violating Rule Respondent claims that when the criminal complaint was filed, respondent had
15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and for defying the prohibition resigned from Taggat for more than five years. 20 Respondent asserts that he no
against private practice of law while working as government prosecutor. longer owed his undivided loyalty to Taggat. 21 Respondent argues that it was his
sworn duty to conduct the necessary preliminary investigation. 22 Respondent
contends that complainant failed to establish lack of impartiality when he
The Facts
performed his duty. 23 Respondent points out that complainant did not file a
motion to inhibit respondent from hearing the criminal complaint 24 but instead
Ruthie Lim-Santiago ("complainant") is the daughter of Alfonso Lim and Special complainant voluntarily executed and filed her counter-affidavit without mental
Administratrix of his estate. 1Alfonso Lim is a stockholder and the former reservation. 25
President of Taggat Industries, Inc. 2
Respondent states that complainant’s reason in not filing a motion to inhibit was
Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio ("respondent") was the former Personnel Manager and her impression that respondent would exonerate her from the charges filed as
Retained Counsel of Taggat Industries, Inc. 3 until his appointment as Assistant gleaned from complainant’s statement during the hearing conducted on 12
Provincial Prosecutor of Tuguegarao, Cagayan in 1992. 4 February 1999:

Taggat Industries, Inc. ("Taggat") is a domestic corporation engaged in the xxx


operation of timber concessions from the government. The Presidential
Commission on Good Government sequestered it sometime in 1986, 5 and its
Q. (Atty. Dabu). What do you mean you didn’t think he would do it, Madam
operations ceased in 1997. 6
Witness?

Sometime in July 1997, 21 employees of Taggat ("Taggat employees") filed a


A. Because he is supposed to be my father’s friend and he was working with my
criminal complaint entitled "Jesus Tagorda, Jr. et al. v. Ruthie Lim-Santiago,"
Dad and he was supposed to be trusted by my father. And he came to me and
docketed as I.S. No. 97-240 ("criminal complaint"). 7 Taggat employees alleged
told me he gonna help me. x x x. 26
that complainant, who took over the management and control of Taggat after the
death of her father, withheld payment of their salaries and wages without valid
cause from 1 April 1996 to 15 July 1997. 8 Respondent also asserts that no conflicting interests exist because he was not
representing Taggat employees or complainant. Respondent claims he was
merely performing his official duty as Assistant Provincial
Respondent, as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, was assigned to conduct the
Prosecutor. 27Respondent argues that complainant failed to establish that
preliminary investigation. 9 He resolved the criminal complaint by recommending
respondent’s act was tainted with personal interest, malice and bad faith. 28
the filing of 651 Informations 10 for violation of Article 288 11 in relation to Article
116 12 of the Labor Code of the Philippines. 13
Respondent denies complainant’s allegations that he instigated the filing of the
cases, threatened and harassed Taggat employees. Respondent claims that this
Complainant now charges respondent with the following violations:
accusation is bereft of proof because complainant failed to mention the names of
the employees or present them for cross-examination. 29
1. Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
Respondent does not dispute his receipt, after his appointment as government
Complainant contends that respondent is guilty of representing conflicting prosecutor, of retainer fees from complainant but claims that it
interests. Respondent, being the former Personnel Manager and Retained
Counsel of Taggat, knew the operations of Taggat very well. Respondent should
was only on a case-to-case basis and it ceased in 1996. 30 Respondent contends
have inhibited himself from hearing, investigating and deciding the case filed by
that the fees were paid for his consultancy services and not for representation.
Taggat employees. 14 Furthermore, complainant claims that respondent instigated
Respondent submits that consultation is not the same as representation and that
the filing of the cases and even harassed and threatened Taggat employees to
rendering consultancy services is not prohibited. 31 Respondent, in his Reply-
accede and sign an affidavit to support the complaint. 15
Memorandum, states:

2. Engaging in the private practice of law while working as a government


x x x [I]f ever Taggat paid him certain amounts, these were paid voluntarily by
prosecutor
Taggat without the respondent’s asking, intended as token consultancy fees on a
case-to-case basis and not as or for retainer fees. These payments do not at all
Complainant also contends that respondent is guilty of engaging in the private show or translate as a specie of ‘conflict of interest’. Moreover, these
practice of law while working as a government prosecutor. Complainant consultations had no relation to, or connection with, the above-mentioned labor
presented evidence to prove that respondent received P10,000 as retainer’s fee complaints filed by former Taggat employees. 32
for the months of January and February 1995, 16 another P10,000 for the months
of April and May 1995, 17 and P5,000 for the month of April 1996. 18
Respondent insists that complainant’s evidence failed to prove that when the No. 97-240 is labor-related and Respondent was a former Personnel Manager of
criminal complaint was filed with the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Taggat.
Cagayan, respondent was still the retained counsel or legal consultant. 33
xxxx
While this disbarment case was pending, the Resolution and Order issued by
respondent to file 651 Informations against complainant was reversed and set While Respondent ceased his relations with Taggat in 1992 and the unpaid
aside by Regional State Prosecutor of Cagayan Rodolfo B. Cadelina last 4 salaries being sought in I.S. No. 97-240 were of the years 1996 and 1997, the
January 1999. 34 Hence, the criminal complaint was dismissed. 35 employees and management involved are the very personalities he dealt with
as Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat. Respondent dealt with
The IBP’s Report and Recommendation these persons in his fiduciary relations with Taggat. Moreover, he was an
employee of the corporation and part of its management.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ Investigating Commissioner Ma. Carmina
M. Alejandro-Abbas ("IBP Commissioner Abbas") heard the case 36 and allowed xxxx
the parties to submit their respective memoranda. 37 Due to IBP Commissioner
Abbas’ resignation, the case was reassigned to Commissioner Dennis A.B. Funa As to the propriety of receiving "Retainer Fees" or "consultancy fees" from herein
("IBP Commissioner Funa"). 38 Complainant while being an Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, and for rendering
legal consultancy work while being an Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, this matter
After the parties filed their memoranda and motion to resolve the case, the IBP had long been settled. Government prosecutors are prohibited to engage in
Board of Governors issued Resolution No. XVI-2004-479 ("IBP Resolution") the private practice of law (see Legal and Judicial Ethics, Ernesto Pineda, 1994
dated 4 November 2004 adopting with modification 39 IBP Commissioner Funa’s ed., p. 20; People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109; Aquino v. Blanco 70 Phil. 647).
Report and Recommendation ("Report") finding respondent guilty of conflict of The act of being a legal consultant is a practice of law. To engage in the practice
interests, failure to safeguard a former client’s interest, and violating the of law is to do any of those acts that are characteristic of the legal profession (In
prohibition against the private practice of law while being a government re: David, 93 Phil. 461). It covers any activity, in or out of court, which required
prosecutor. The IBP Board of Governors recommended the imposition of a the application of law, legal principles, practice or procedures and calls for legal
penalty of three years suspension from the practice of law. The Report reads: knowledge, training and experience (PLA v. Agrava, 105 Phil. 173; People v.
Villanueva, 14 SCRA 111; Cayetano v. Monsod, 201 SCRA 210).
Now the issue here is whether being a former lawyer of Taggat conflicts with his
role as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor in deciding I.S. No. 97-240. A Respondent clearly violated this prohibition.
determination of this issue will require the test of whether the matter in I.S. No.
97-240 will conflict with his former position of Personnel Manager and Legal As for the secondary accusations of harassing certain employees of Taggat and
Counsel of Taggat. instigating the filing of criminal complaints, we find the evidence insufficient.

I.S. No. 97-240 was filed for "Violation of Labor Code" (see Resolution of the Accordingly, Respondent should be found guilty of conflict of interest, failure to
Provincial Prosecutors Office, Annex "B" of Complaint). Herein Complainant, safeguard a former client’s interest, and violating the prohibition against the
Ruthie Lim-Santiago, was being accused as having the "management and private practice of law while being a government prosecutor. 40
control" of Taggat (p. 2, Resolution of the Prov. Pros. Office, supra).
The IBP Board of Governors forwarded the Report to the Court as provided under
Clearly, as a former Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat, herein Section 12(b), Rule 139-B 41 of the Rules of Court.
Respondent undoubtedly handled the personnel and labor concerns of Taggat.
Respondent, undoubtedly dealt with and related with the employees of
The Ruling of the Court
Taggat. Therefore, Respondent undoubtedly dealt with and related with
complainants in I.S. No. 97-240. The issues, therefore, in I.S. No. 97-240, are
very much familiar with Respondent. While the issues of unpaid salaries pertain The Court exonerates respondent from the charge of violation of Rule 15.03 of
to the periods 1996-1997, the mechanics and personalities in that case are very the Code of Professional Responsibility ("Code"). However, the Court finds
much familiar with Respondent. respondent liable for violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility against unlawful conduct. 42 Respondent committed unlawful
conduct when he violated Section 7(b)(2) of the Code of Conduct and Ethical
A lawyer owes something to a former client. Herein Respondent owes to
Standards for Public Officials and Employees or Republic Act No. 6713 ("RA
Taggat, a former client, the duty to "maintain inviolate the client’s confidence or to
6713").
refrain from doing anything which will injuriously affect him in any matter in which
he previously represented him" (Natam v. Capule, 91 Phil. 640; p. 231, Agpalo,
Legal Ethics, 4th ed.) Canon 6 provides that the Code "shall apply to lawyers in government service in
the discharge of their official duties." 43 A government lawyer is thus bound by the
prohibition "not [to] represent conflicting interests." 44However, this rule is subject
Respondent argues that as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, he does not
to certain limitations. The prohibition to represent conflicting interests does not
represent any client or any interest except justice. It should not be forgotten,
apply when no conflict of interest exists, when a written consent of all concerned
however, that a lawyer has an immutable duty to a former client with respect to
is given after a full disclosure of the facts or when no true attorney-client
matters that he previously handled for that former client. In this case, matters
relationship exists. 45 Moreover, considering the serious consequence of the
relating to personnel, labor policies, and labor relations that he previously handled
disbarment or suspension of a member of the Bar, clear preponderant evidence is
as Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat. I.S. No. 97-240 was
necessary to justify the imposition of the administrative penalty. 46
for "Violation of the Labor Code." Here lies the conflict. Perhaps it would have
been different had I.S. No. 97-240 not been labor-related, or if Respondent had
not been a Personnel Manager concurrently as Legal Counsel. But as it is, I.S. Respondent is also mandated under Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 not to engage in
"unlawful x x x conduct." Unlawful conduct includes violation of the statutory
prohibition on a government employee to "engage in the private practice of [his] performed acts that are usually rendered by lawyers with the use of their legal
profession unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided, that such knowledge, the same falls within the ambit of the term "practice of law."
practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with [his] official functions." 47
Nonetheless, respondent admitted that he rendered his legal services to
Complainant’s evidence failed to substantiate the claim that respondent complainant while working as a government prosecutor. Even the receipts he
represented conflicting interests signed stated that the payments by Taggat were for "Retainer’s fee." 53 Thus, as
correctly pointed out by complainant, respondent clearly violated the prohibition in
In Quiambao v. Bamba, 48 the Court enumerated various tests to determine RA 6713.
conflict of interests. One test of inconsistency of interests is whether the lawyer
will be asked to use against his former client any confidential information acquired However, violations of RA 6713 are not subject to disciplinary action under the
through their connection or previous employment. 49 In essence, what a lawyer Code of Professional Responsibility unless the violations also constitute
owes his former client is to maintain inviolate the client’s confidence or to refrain infractions of specific provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
from doing anything which will injuriously affect him in any matter in which he Certainly, the IBP has no jurisdiction to investigate violations of RA 6713 – the
previously represented him. 50 Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees –
unless the acts involved also transgress provisions of the Code of Professional
In the present case, we find no conflict of interests when respondent handled the Responsibility.
preliminary investigation of the criminal complaint filed by Taggat employees in
1997. The issue in the criminal complaint pertains to non-payment of wages that Here, respondent’s violation of RA 6713 also constitutes a violation of Rule 1.01
occurred from 1 April 1996 to 15 July 1997. Clearly, respondent was no longer of Canon 1, which mandates that "[a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
connected with Taggat during that period since he resigned sometime in 1992. dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct." Respondent’s admission that he
received from Taggat fees for legal services while serving as a government
In order to charge respondent for representing conflicting interests, evidence prosecutor is an unlawful conduct, which constitutes a violation of Rule 1.01.
must be presented to prove that respondent used against Taggat, his former
client, any confidential information acquired through his previous employment. Respondent admitted that complainant also charged him with unlawful conduct
The only established participation respondent had with respect to the criminal when respondent stated in his Demurrer to Evidence:
complaint is that he was the one who conducted the preliminary investigation. On
that basis alone, it does not necessarily follow that respondent used any In this instant case, the complainant prays that the respondent be permanently
confidential information from his previous employment with complainant or Taggat and indefinitely suspended or disbarred from the practice of the law profession
in resolving the criminal complaint. and his name removed from the Roll of Attorneys on the following grounds:

The fact alone that respondent was the former Personnel Manager and Retained xxxx
Counsel of Taggat and the case he resolved as government prosecutor was
labor-related is not a sufficient basis to charge respondent for representing
d) that respondent manifested gross misconduct and gross violation of his oath of
conflicting interests. A lawyer’s immutable duty to a former client does not cover
office and in his dealings with the public. 54
transactions that occurred beyond the lawyer’s employment with the client. The
intent of the law is to impose upon the lawyer the duty to protect the client’s
interests only on matters that he previously handled for the former client and not On the Appropriate Penalty on Respondent
for matters that arose after the lawyer-client relationship has terminated.
The appropriate penalty on an errant lawyer depends on the exercise of sound
Further, complainant failed to present a single iota of evidence to prove her judicial discretion based on the surrounding facts. 55
allegations. Thus, respondent is not guilty of violating Rule 15.03 of the Code.
Under Civil Service Law and rules, the penalty for government employees
Respondent engaged in the private practice of law while working as a engaging in unauthorized private practice of profession is suspension for six
government prosecutor months and one day to one year. 56 We find this penalty appropriate for
respondent’s violation in this case of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.
The Court has defined the practice of law broadly as –

WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio GUILTY of violation of


x x x any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal
Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly,
procedure, knowledge, training and experience. "To engage in the practice of law
we SUSPEND respondent Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio from the practice of law for SIX
is to perform those acts which are characteristics of the profession. Generally, to
MONTHS effective upon finality of this Decision.
practice law is to give notice or render any kind of service, which device or
service requires the use in any degree of legal knowledge or skill." 51
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be
appended to respondent’s personal record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar of
"Private practice of law" contemplates a succession of acts of the same nature
the Philippines, the Department of Justice, and all courts in the country for their
habitually or customarily holding one’s self to the public as a lawyer. 52
information and guidance.

Respondent argues that he only rendered consultancy services to Taggat


SO ORDERED.
intermittently and he was not a retained counsel of Taggat from 1995 to 1996 as
alleged. This argument is without merit because the law does not distinguish
between consultancy services and retainer agreement. For as long as respondent
SOPHIA ALAWI, complainant, vs. ASHARY M. ALAUYA, Clerk of Court And, as in his letter to Villarosa & Co., he narrated in some detail what he took
VI, Shari'a District Court, Marawi City, respondent. to be the anomalous actuations of Sophia Alawi.
Alauya wrote three other letters to Mr. Arzaga of the NHMFC, dated
DECISION February 21, 1996, April 15, 1996, and May 3, 1996, in all of which, for the
NARVASA, C.J.: same reasons already cited, he insisted on the cancellation of his housing loan
and discontinuance of deductions from his salary on account thereof.a He also
wrote on January 18, 1996 to Ms. Corazon M. Ordoez, Head of the Fiscal
Sophia Alawi was (and presumably still is) a sales representative (or Management & Budget Office, and to the Chief, Finance Division, both of this
coordinator) of E. B. Villarosa & Partners Co., Ltd. of Davao City, a real estate Court, to stop deductions from his salary in relation to the loan in question,
and housing company. Ashari M. Alauya is the incumbent executive clerk of again asserting the anomalous manner by which he was allegedly duped into
court of the 4th Judicial Shari'a District in Marawi City. They were classmates, entering into the contracts by "the scheming sales agent."b
and used to be friends.
The upshot was that in May, 1996, the NHMFC wrote to the Supreme
It appears that through Alawi's agency, a contract was executed for the Court requesting it to stop deductions on Alauya's UHLP loan "effective May
purchase on installments by Alauya of one of the housing units belonging to 1996," and began negotiating with Villarosa & Co. "for the buy-back of **
the above mentioned firm (hereafter, simply Villarosa & Co.); and in connection (Alauya's) mortgage, and ** the refund of ** (his) payments."c
therewith, a housing loan was also granted to Alauya by the National Home
Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC). On learning of Alauya's letter to Villarosa & Co. of December 15, 1995,
Sophia Alawi filed with this Court a verified complaint dated January 25, 1996
Not long afterwards, or more precisely on December 15, 1995, Alauya -- to which she appended a copy of the letter, and of the above mentioned
addressed a letter to the President of Villarosa & Co. advising of the envelope bearing the typewritten words, "Free Postage PD 26."[1] In that
termination of his contract with the company. He wrote: complaint, she accused Alauya of:

" ** I am formally and officially withdrawing from and notifying you of my 1. "Imputation of malicious and libelous charges with no solid grounds
intent to terminate the Contract/Agreement entered into between me and through manifest ignorance and evident bad faith;"
your company, as represented by your Sales Agent/Coordinator, SOPHIA
ALAWI, of your company's branch office here in Cagayan de Oro City, on the
2. "Causing undue injury to, and blemishing her honor and established
grounds that my consent was vitiated by gross misrepresentation, deceit,
reputation;"
fraud, dishonesty and abuse of confidence by the aforesaid sales agent
which made said contract void ab initio. Said sales agent acting in bad faith
perpetrated such illegal and unauthorized acts which made said contract an 3. "Unauthorized enjoyment of the privilege of free postage **;" and
Onerous Contract prejudicial to my rights and interests."
4. Usurpation of the title of "attorney," which only regular members of the
He then proceeded to expound in considerable detail and quite acerbic Philippine Bar may properly use.
language on the "grounds which could evidence the bad faith, deceit, fraud,
misrepresentation, dishonesty and abuse of confidence by the unscrupulous She deplored Alauya's references to her as "unscrupulous, swindler,
sales agent ** ;" and closed with the plea that Villarosa & Co. "agree for the forger, manipulator, etc." without "even a bit of evidence to cloth (sic) his
mutual rescission of our contract, even as I inform you that I categorically state allegations with the essence of truth," denouncing his imputations as
on record that I am terminating the contract **. I hope I do not have to resort irresponsible, "all concoctions, lies, baseless and coupled with manifest
to any legal action before said onerous and manipulated contract against my ignorance and evident bad faith," and asserting that all her dealings with
interest be annulled. I was actually fooled by your sales agent, hence the need Alauya had been regular and completely transparent. She closed with the plea
to annul the controversial contract." that Alauya "be dismissed from the service, or be appropriately disciplined (sic)
Alauya sent a copy of the letter to the Vice-President of Villarosa & Co. ** "
at San Pedro, Gusa, Cagayan de Oro City. The envelope containing it, and The Court resolved to order Alauya to comment on the complaint.
which actually went through the post, bore no stamps. Instead at the right hand Conformably with established usage that notices of resolutions emanate from
corner above the description of the addressee, the words, "Free Postage PD the corresponding Office of the Clerk of Court, the notice of resolution in this
26," had been typed. case was signed by Atty. Alfredo P. Marasigan, Assistant Division Clerk of
On the same date, December 15, 1995, Alauya also wrote to Mr. Fermin Court.[2]
T. Arzaga, Vice-President, Credit & Collection Group of the National Home Alauya first submitted a "Preliminary Comment"[3] in which he
Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC) at Salcedo Village, Makati City, questioned the authority of Atty. Marasigan to require an explanation of him,
repudiating as fraudulent and void his contract with Villarosa & Co.; and asking this power pertaining, according to him, not to "a mere Asst. Div. Clerk of Court
for cancellation of his housing loan in connection therewith, which was payable investigating an Executive Clerk of Court." but only to the District Judge, the
from salary deductions at the rate of P4,338.00 a month. Among other things, Court Administrator or the Chief Justice, and voiced the suspicion that the
he said: Resolution was the result of a "strong link" between Ms. Alawi and Atty.
Marasigan's office. He also averred that the complaint had no factual basis;
" ** (T)hrough this written notice, I am terminating, as I hereby annul, cancel, Alawi was envious of him for being not only "the Executive Clerk of court and
rescind and voided, the 'manipulated contract' entered into between me and ex-officio Provincial Sheriff and District Registrar," but also "a scion of a Royal
the E.B. Villarosa & Partner Co., Ltd., as represented by its sales Family **."[4]
agent/coordinator, SOPHIA ALAWI, who maliciously and fraudulently
manipulated said contract and unlawfully secured and pursued the housing In a subsequent letter to Atty. Marasigan, but this time in much less
loan without my authority and against my will. Thus, the contract itself is aggressive, even obsequious tones,[5] Alauya requested the former to give him
deemed to be void ab initio in view of the attending circumstances, that my a copy of the complaint in order that he might comment thereon.[6] He stated
consent was vitiated by misrepresentation, fraud, deceit, dishonesty, and that his acts as clerk of court were done in good faith and within the confines
abuse of confidence; and that there was no meeting of the minds between of the law; and that Sophia Alawi as sales agent of Villarosa & Co. had, by
me and the swindling sales agent who concealed the real facts from me." falsifying his signature, fraudulently bound him to a housing loan contract
entailing monthly deductions of P4,333.10 from his salary.
And in his comment thereafter submitted under date of June 5, 1996, 4) Alawi had maliciously and fraudulently manipulated the contract with
Alauya contended that it was he who had suffered "undue injury, mental Villarosa & Co., and unlawfully secured and pursued the housing loan
anguish, sleepless nights, wounded feelings and untold financial suffering," without ** (his) authority and against ** (his) will," and "concealed the real
considering that in six months, a total of P26,028.60 had been deducted from facts **."
his salary.[7] He declared that there was no basis for the complaint; in
communicating with Villarosa & Co. he had merely acted in defense of his Alauya's defense essentially is that in making these statements, he was
rights. He denied any abuse of the franking privilege, saying that he merely acting in defense of his rights, and doing only what "is expected of any
gave P20.00 plus transportation fare to a subordinate whom he entrusted with man unduly prejudiced and injured," who had suffered "mental anguish,
the mailing of certain letters; that the words: "Free Postage PD 26," were sleepless nights, wounded feelings and untold financial suffering," considering
typewritten on the envelope by some other person, an averment corroborated that in six months, a total of P26,028.60 had been deducted from his salary.[15]
by the affidavit of Absamen C. Domocao, Clerk IV (subscribed and sworn to
before respondent himself, and attached to the comment as Annex J);[8] and The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and
as far as he knew, his subordinate mailed the letters with the use of the money Employees (RA 6713) inter alia enunciates the State policy of promoting a high
he had given for postage, and if those letters were indeed mixed with the standard of ethics and utmost responsibility in the public service.[16] Section 4
official mail of the court, this had occurred inadvertently and because of an of the Code commands that "(p)ublic officials and employees ** at all times
honest mistake.[9] respect the rights of others, and ** refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good
morals, good customs, public policy, public order, public safety and public
Alauya justified his use of the title, "attorney," by the assertion that it is interest."[17] More than once has this Court emphasized that "the conduct and
"lexically synonymous" with "Counsellors-at-law," a title to which Shari'a behavior of every official and employee of an agency involved in the
lawyers have a rightful claim, adding that he prefers the title of "attorney" administration of justice, from the presiding judge to the most junior clerk,
because "counsellor" is often mistaken for "councilor," "konsehal or the should be circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility. Their conduct
Maranao term "consial," connoting a local legislator beholden to the mayor. must at all times be characterized by, among others, strict propriety and
Withal, he does not consider himself a lawyer. decorum so as to earn and keep the respect of the public for the judiciary."[18]
He pleads for the Court's compassion, alleging that what he did "is Now, it does not appear to the Court consistent with good morals, good customs
expected of any man unduly prejudiced and injured."[10] He claims he was or public policy, or respect for the rights of others, to couch denunciations of acts
manipulated into reposing his trust in Alawi, a classmate and friend.[11] He was believed -- however sincerely -- to be deceitful, fraudulent or malicious, in excessively
induced to sign a blank contract on Alawi's assurance that she would show the intemperate. insulting or virulent language. Alauya is evidently convinced that he has a
completed document to him later for correction, but she had since avoided right of action against Sophia Alawi. The law requires that he exercise that right with
him; despite "numerous letters and follow-ups" he still does not know where propriety, without malice or vindictiveness, or undue harm to anyone; in a manner
consistent with good morals, good customs, public policy, public order, supra; or
the property -- subject of his supposed agreement with Alawi's principal,
otherwise stated, that he "act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty
Villarosa & Co. -- is situated;[12] He says Alawi somehow got his GSIS policy and good faith."[19] Righteous indignation, or vindication of right cannot justify resort to
from his wife, and although she promised to return it the next day, she did not vituperative language, or downright name-calling. As a member of the Shari'a Bar and
do so until after several months. He also claims that in connection with his an officer of a Court, Alawi is subject to a standard of conduct more stringent than for
contract with Villarosa & Co., Alawi forged his signature on such pertinent most other government workers. As a man of the law, he may not use language which
documents as those regarding the down payment, clearance, lay-out, receipt is abusive, offensive, scandalous, menacing, or otherwise improper.[20] As a judicial
of the key of the house, salary deduction, none of which he ever saw.[13] employee, it is expected that he accord respect for the person and the rights of others
at all times, and that his every act and word should be characterized by prudence,
Averring in fine that his acts in question were done without malice, restraint, courtesy, dignity. His radical deviation from these salutary norms might
Alauya prays for the dismissal of the complaint for lack of merit, it consisting perhaps be mitigated, but cannot be excused, by his strongly held conviction that he had
of "fallacious, malicious and baseless allegations," and complainant Alawi been grievously wronged.
having come to the Court with unclean hands, her complicity in the fraudulent As regards Alauya's use of the title of "Attorney," this Court has already had
housing loan being apparent and demonstrable. occasion to declare that persons who pass the Shari'a Bar are not full-fledged members
of the Philippine Bar, hence may only practice law before Shari'a courts.[21] While one
It may be mentioned that in contrast to his two (2) letters to Assistant who has been admitted to the Shari'a Bar, and one who has been admitted to the
Clerk of Court Marasigan (dated April 19, 1996 and April 22, 1996), and his Philippine Bar, may both be considered "counsellors," in the sense that they give counsel
two (2) earlier letters both dated December 15, 1996 -- all of which he signed or advice in a professional capacity, only the latter is an "attorney." The title of "attorney"
as "Atty. Ashary M. Alauya" -- in his Comment of June 5, 1996, he does not is reserved to those who, having obtained the necessary degree in the study of law and
use the title but refers to himself as "DATU ASHARY M. ALAUYA." successfully taken the Bar Examinations, have been admitted to the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines and remain members thereof in good standing; and it is they only who
The Court referred the case to the Office of the Court Administrator for are authorized to practice law in this jurisdiction.
evaluation, report and recommendation.[14]
Alauya says he does not wish to use the title, "counsellor" or "counsellor-at-law,"
The first accusation against Alauya is that in his aforesaid letters, he because in his region, there are pejorative connotations to the term, or it is confusingly
similar to that given to local legislators. The ratiocination, valid or not, is of no moment.
made "malicious and libelous charges (against Alawi) with no solid grounds
His disinclination to use the title of "counsellor" does not warrant his use of the title of
through manifest ignorance and evident bad faith," resulting in "undue injury attorney.
to (her) and blemishing her honor and established reputation." In those letters,
Alauya had written inter alia that: Finally, respecting Alauya's alleged unauthorized use of the franking privilege,
the record contains no evidence adequately establishing the accusation.

1) Alawi obtained his consent to the contracts in question "by gross WHEREFORE, respondent Ashari M. Alauya is hereby REPRIMANDED for the
misrepresentation, deceit, fraud, dishonesty and abuse of confidence;" use of excessively intemperate, insulting or virulent language, i.e., language
unbecoming a judicial officer, and for usurping the title of attorney; and he is warned that
any similar or other impropriety or misconduct in the future will be dealt with more
2) Alawi acted in bad faith and perpetrated ** illegal and unauthorized acts ** severely.
** prejudicial to ** (his) rights and interests;"
SO ORDERED.

3) Alawi was an "unscrupulous (and "swindling") sales agent" who had fooled
him by "deceit, fraud, misrepresentation, dishonesty and abuse of
confidence;" and
ENCARNACION BANOGON, ZOSIMA MUNOZ, and DAVIDINA of the court's decision and before the expiration of one year from the entry of the
MUNOZ, petitioners, vs. final decree of registration. (Emphasissupplied).
MELCHOR ZERNA, CONSEJO ZERNA DE CORNELIO, FRANCISCO ZERNA, and
the HON. CIPRIANO VAMENTA, JR., Judge of the Court of First Instance of
Negros Oriental (Branch III). A reading thereof will show that it is against their contentions and that under this
doctrine they should not have delayed in asserting their claim of fraud. Their delay was
not only for thirty one days but for thirty one years. Laches bars their petition now.
CRUZ, J.:
Their position is clearly contrary to law and logic and to even ordinary common sense.

It's unbelievable. The original decision in this case was rendered by the cadastral court
way back on February 9, 1926, sixty one years ago. A motion to amend that decision This Court has repeatedly reminded litigants and lawyers alike:
was filed on March 6, 1957, thirty one years later. This was followed by an amended
petition for review of the judgment on March 18, 1957, and an opposition thereto on "Litigation must end and terminate sometime and somewhere, and it is assent
March 26, 1957. On October 11, 1971, or after fourteen years, a motion to dismiss the essential to an effective and efficient administration of justice that, once a
petition was filed. The petition was dismissed on December 8, 1971, and the motion judgment has become final, the winning party be not, through a mere subterfuge,
for reconsideration was denied on February 14, 1972. 1 The petitioners then came to deprived of the fruits of the verdict. Courts must therefore guard against any
us on certiorari to question the orders of the respondent judge.2 scheme calculated to bring about that result. Constituted as they are to put an
end to controversies, courts should frown upon any attempt to prolong them."8
These dates are not typographical errors. What is involved here are errors of law and
lawyers. There should be a greater awareness on the part of litigants that the time of the
judiciary, much more so of this Court, is too valuable to be wasted or frittered
The respondent court dismissed the petition for review of the decision rendered in away by efforts, far from commendable, to evade the operation of a decision final
1926 on the ground that it had been filed out of time, indeed thirty one years too late. and executory, especially so, where, as shown in this case, the clear and
Laches, it was held, had operated against the petitioners. 3 manifest absence of any right calling for vindication, is quite obvious and
indisputable. 9

The petitioners contend that the said judgment had not yet become final and executory
because the land in dispute had not yet been registered in favor of the private This appeal moreover, should fail, predicated as it is on an insubstantial objection
respondents. The said judgment would become so only after one year from the bereft of any persuasive force. Defendants had to display ingenuity to conjure a
issuance of the decree of registration. If any one was guilty of laches, it was the private technicality. From Alonso v. Villamor, a 1910 decision, we have left no doubt as to
respondents who had failed to enforce the judgment by having the land registered in our disapproval of such a practice. The aim of a lawsuit is to render justice to the
parties according to law. Procedural rules are precisely designed to accomplish
their the pursuant thereto.4
such a worthy objective. Necessarily, therefore, any attempt to pervert the ends
for which they are intended deserves condemnation. We have done so before.
For their part, the private respondents argue that the decision of February 9, 1926, We do so again. 10
became final and executory after 30 days, same not having been appealed by the
petitioners during that period. They slept on their rights for thirty one years before it
occurred to them to question the judgment of the cadastral court. In fact, their alleged Regarding the argument that the private respondents took fourteen years to move for
predecessor-in-interest, Filomeno Banogon, lived for nineteen more years after the the dismissal of the petition for review, it suffices to point out that an opposition thereto
1926 decision and did not see fit to challenge it until his death in 1945. The herein had been made as early as March 26, 1957, or nine days after the filing of the
petitioners themselves waited another twelve years, or until 195 7, to file their petition petition. 11 Moreover, it was for the petitioners to move for the hearing of the petition
for review. 5 instead of waiting for the private respondents to ask for its dismissal. After all, they
were the parties asking for relief, and it was the private respondents who were in
possession of the land in dispute.
While arguing that they were not guilty of laches because the 1926 decision had not
yet become final and executory because the land subject thereof had not yet been
registered, the petitioners rationalize: "If an aggrieved party is allowed the remedy of One reason why there is a degree of public distrust for lawyers is the way some of
re-opening the case within one year after the issuance of the decree, why should the them misinterpret the law to the point of distortion in a cunning effort to achieve their
same party be denied this remedy before the decree is issued? 6 purposes. By doing so, they frustrate the ends of justice and at the same time lessen
popular faith in the legal profession as the sworn upholders of the law. While this is not
to say that every wrong interpretation of the law is to be condemned, as indeed most
Why not indeed? Why then did they not file their petition earlier? Why do they now of them are only honest errors, this Court must express its disapproval of the adroit
pretend that they have all the time in the world because the land has not yet been and intentional misreading designed precisely to circumvent or violate it.
registered and the one-year reglementary period has not yet expired?

As officers of the court, lawyers have a responsibility to assist in the proper


Thinking to support their position, the petitioners cite Rivera v. Moran 7 where it was administration of justice. They do not discharge this duty by filing pointless petitions
held: that only add to the workload of the judiciary, especially this Court, which is burdened
enough as it is. A judicious study of the facts and the law should advise them when a
... It is conceded that no decree of registration has been entered and section 38 of case, such as this, should not be permitted to be filed to merely clutter the already
the Land Registration Act provides that a petition for review of such a decree on congested judicial dockets. They do not advance the cause of law or their clients by
the grounds of fraud must be filed "within one year after entry of the decree." commencing litigations that for sheer lack of merit do not deserve the attention of the
Giving this provision a literal interpretation, it may first blush seem that the petition courts.
for review cannot be presented until the final decree has been entered. But on
further reflection, it is obvious that such could not have been the intention of the This petition is DISMISSED, with costs against the petitioners. This decision is
Legislature and that what it meant would have been better expressed by stating immediately executory. It is so ordered.
that such petitioners must be presented before the expiration of one year from the
entry of the decree. Statutes must be given a reasonable construction and there
can be no possible reason for requiring the complaining party to wait until the final Teehankee, C.J., Narvasa and Paras, JJ., concur.
decree is entered before urging his claim of fraud. We therefore hold that a
petition for review under section 38, supra, may be filed at any time the rendition Gancayco, J., is on leave.
ADELINO H. LEDESMA, petitioner, vs. 1. The assailed order of November 6, 1964 denying the urgent
HON. RAFAEL C. CLIMACO, Presiding Judge of the Court of motion of petitioner to withdraw as counsel de oficiospeaks for itself.
First Instance of Negros Occidental, Branch I, Silay It began with a reminder that a crime was allegedly committed on
City, respondent. February 17, 1962, with the proceedings having started in the
municipal court of Cadiz on July 11, 1962. Then respondent Judge
Adelino H. Ledesma in his own behalf. spoke of his order of October 16, 1964 which reads thus: "In view of
the objection of the prosecution to the motion for postponement of
Hon. Rafael C. Climaco in his own behalf. October 15, 1964 (alleging that counsel for the accused cannot
continue appearing in this case without the express authority of the
FERNANDO, J.:p Commission on Elections); and since according to the prosecution
there are two witnesses who are ready to take the stand, after which
What is assailed in this certiorari proceeding is an order of the government would rest, the motion for postponement is denied.
respondent Judge denying a motion filed by petitioner to be allowed When counsel for the accused assumed office as Election Registrar
to withdraw as counsel de oficio.1One of the grounds for such a on October 13, 1964, he knew since October 2, 1964 that the trial
motion was his allegation that with his appointment as Election would be resumed today. Nevertheless, in order not to prejudice the
Registrar by the Commission on Elections, he was not in a position to civil service status of counsel for the accused, he is hereby
devote full time to the defense of the two accused. The denial by designated counsel de oficio for the accused. The defense obtained
respondent Judge of such a plea, notwithstanding the conformity of postponements on May 17, 1963, June 13, 1963, June 14, 1963,
the defendants, was due "its principal effect [being] to delay this October 28, 1963, November 27, 1963, February 11, 1964, March 9,
case."2 It was likewise noted that the prosecution had already rested 1964, June 8, 1964 July 26, 1964, and September 7,
and that petitioner was previously counsel de parte, his designation 1964."4 Reference was then made to another order of February 11,
in the former category being precisely to protect him in his new 1964: "Upon petition of Atty. Adelino H. Ledesma, alleging
position without prejudicing the accused. It cannot be plausibly indisposition, the continuation of the trial of this case is hereby
asserted that such failure to allow withdrawal of de oficio counsel transferred to March 9, 1964 at 8:30 in the morning. The defense is
could ordinarily be characterized as a grave abuse of discretion reminded that at its instance, this case has been postponed at least
correctible by certiorari. There is, however, the overriding concern for eight (8) times, and that the government witnesses have to come all
the right to counsel of the accused that must be taken seriously into the way from Manapala."5 After which, it was noted in such order that
consideration. In appropriate cases, it should tilt the balance. This is there was no incompatibility between the duty of petitioner to the
not one of them. What is easily discernible was the obvious accused and to the court and the performance of his task as an
reluctance of petitioner to comply with the responsibilities incumbent election registrar of the Commission on Elections and that the ends
on the counsel de oficio. Then, too, even on the assumption that he of justice "would be served by allowing and requiring Mr. Ledesma to
continues in his position, his volume of work is likely to be very much continue as counsel de oficio, since the prosecution has already
less at present. There is not now the slightest pretext for him to shirk rested its case."6
an obligation a member of the bar, who expects to remain in good
standing, should fulfill. The petition is clearly without merit. 2. What is readily apparent therefore, is that petitioner was less than
duly mindful of his obligation as counsel de oficio. He ought to have
According to the undisputed facts, petitioner, on October 13, 1964, known that membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with
was appointed Election Registrar for the Municipality of Cadiz, conditions. It could be that for some lawyers, especially the
Province of Negros Occidental. Then and there, he commenced to neophytes in the profession, being appointed counsel de oficio is an
discharge its duties. As he was counsel de parte for one of the irksome chore. For those holding such belief, it may come as a
accused in a case pending in the sala of respondent Judge, he filed a surprise that counsel of repute and of eminence welcome such an
motion to withdraw as such. Not only did respondent Judge deny opportunity. It makes even more manifest that law is indeed a
such motion, but he also appointed him counsel de oficio for the two profession dedicated to the ideal of service and not a mere trade. It is
defendants. Subsequently, on November 3, 1964, petitioner filed an understandable then why a high degree of fidelity to duty is required
urgent motion to be allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio, of one so designated. A recent statement of the doctrine is found
premised on the policy of the Commission on Elections to require full in People v. Daban:7 "There is need anew in this disciplinary
time service as well as on the volume or pressure of work of proceeding to lay stress on the fundamental postulate that
petitioner, which could prevent him from handling adequately the membership in the bar carries with it a responsibility to live up to its
defense. Respondent Judge, in the challenged order of November 6, exacting standard. The law is a profession, not a trade or a craft.
1964, denied said motion. A motion for reconsideration having Those enrolled in its ranks are called upon to aid in the performance
proved futile, he instituted this certiorari proceeding.3 of one of the basic purposes of the State, the administration of
justice. To avoid any frustration thereof, especially in the case of an
As noted at the outset, the petition must fail. indigent defendant, a lawyer may be required to act as counsel de
oficio. The fact that his services are rendered without remuneration
should not occasion a diminution in his zeal. Rather the contrary. remain silent and to counsel, and to be informed of such right. No
This is not, of course, to ignore that other pressing matters do force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiates
compete for his attention. After all, he has his practice to attend to. the free will shall be used against him. Any confession obtained in
That circumstance possesses a high degree of relevance since a violation of this section shall be inadmissible in evidence."16
lawyer has to live; certainly he cannot afford either to neglect his
paying cases. Nonetheless, what is incumbent upon him as counsel Thus is made manifest the indispensable role of a member of the Bar
de oficio must be fulfilled."8 in the defense of an accused. Such a consideration could have
sufficed for petitioner not being allowed to withdraw as counsel de
So it has been from the 1905 decision of In re Robles oficio. For he did betray by his moves his lack of enthusiasm for the
Lahesa,9 where respondent was de oficio counsel, the opinion task entrusted to him, to put matters mildly. He did point though to his
penned by Justice Carson making clear: "This Court should exact responsibility as an election registrar. Assuming his good faith, no
from its officers and subordinates the most scrupulous performance such excuse could be availed now. There is not likely at present, and
of their official duties, especially when negligence in the performance in the immediate future, an exorbitant demand on his time. It may
of those duties necessarily results in delays in the prosecution of likewise be assumed, considering what has been set forth above,
criminal cases ...."10 Justice Sanchez in People v. Estebia11reiterated that petitioner would exert himself sufficiently to perform his task as
such a view in these words: "It is true that he is a court-appointed defense counsel with competence, if not with zeal, if only to erase
counsel. But we do say that as such counsel de oficio, he has as high doubts as to his fitness to remain a member of the profession in good
a duty to the accused as one employed and paid by defendant standing. The admonition is ever timely for those enrolled in the
himself. Because, as in the case of the latter, he must exercise his ranks of legal practitioners that there are times, and this is one of
best efforts and professional ability in behalf of the person assigned them, when duty to court and to client takes precedence over the
to his care. He is to render effective assistance. The accused- promptings of self-interest.
defendant expects of him due diligence, not mere perfunctory
representation. For, indeed a lawyer who is a vanguard in the bastion WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is dismissed. Costs against
of justice is expected to have a bigger dose of social conscience and petitioner.
a little less of self-interest."12
Zaldivar (Chairman), Antonio, Fernandez and Aquino, JJ., concur.
The weakness of the petition is thus quite evident.
Barredo, J., took no part.
3. If respondent Judge were required to answer the petition, it was
only due to the apprehension that considering the frame of mind of a
counsel loath and reluctant to fulfill his obligation, the welfare of the
accused could be prejudiced. His right to counsel could in effect be
rendered nugatory. Its importance was rightfully stressed by Chief
Justice Moran in People v. Holgado in these words: "In criminal
cases there can be no fair hearing unless the accused be given an
opportunity to be heard by counsel. The right to be heard would be of
little avail if it does not include the right to be heard by counsel. Even
the most intelligent or educated man may have no skill in the science
of 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. And this can happen more
easily to persons who are ignorant or uneducated. It is for this reason
that the right to be assisted by counsel is deemed so important that it
has become a constitutional right and it is so implemented that under
rules of procedure it is not enough for the Court to apprise an
accused of his right to have an attorney, it is not enough to ask him
whether he desires the aid of an attorney, but it is essential that the
court should assign one de oficio for him if he so desires and he is
poor or grant him a reasonable time to procure an attorney of his
own."13 So it was under the previous Organic Acts.14 The present
Constitution is even more emphatic. For, in addition to reiterating that
the accused "shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and
counsel,"15 there is this new provision: "Any person under
investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to
In the Matter of the IBP Membership Dues Delinquency of Atty. Laws (supra), whereas the authority of the Court to issue the order
MARCIAL A. EDILION (IBP Administrative Case No. MDD-1) applied for is found in Section 10 of the Court Rule, which reads:

RESOLUTION 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
CASTRO, C.J.: 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 respondent Marcial A. Edillon is a duly licensed practicing attorney the removal of the name of the delinquent member from the Roll of
in the Philippines. Attorneys.

On November 29, 1975, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP for The all-encompassing, all-inclusive scope of membership in the IBP is
short) Board of Governors unanimously adopted Resolution No. 75-65 in stated in these words of the Court Rule:
Administrative Case No. MDD-1 (In the Matter of the Membership Dues
Delinquency of Atty. Marcial A. Edillon) recommending to the Court the SECTION 1. Organization. — There is hereby organized an official
removal of the name of the respondent from its Roll of Attorneys for national body to be known as the 'Integrated Bar of the Philippines,'
"stubborn refusal to pay his membership dues" to the IBP since the composed of all persons whose names now appear or may hereafter
latter's constitution notwithstanding due notice. be included in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court.

On January 21, 1976, the IBP, through its then President Liliano B. Neri, The obligation to pay membership dues is couched in the following
submitted the said resolution to the Court for consideration and approval, words of the Court Rule:
pursuant to paragraph 2, Section 24, Article III of the By-Laws of the IBP,
which reads: SEC. 9. Membership dues. Every member of the Integrated Bar shall
pay such annual dues as the Board of Governors shall determine
.... Should the delinquency further continue until the following June with the approval of the Supreme Court. ...
29, the Board shall promptly inquire into the cause or causes of the
continued delinquency and take whatever action it shall deem The core of the respondent's arguments is that the above provisions
appropriate, including a recommendation to the Supreme Court for constitute an invasion of his constitutional rights in the sense that he is
the removal of the delinquent member's name from the Roll of being compelled, as a pre-condition to maintaining his status as a lawyer
Attorneys. Notice of the action taken shall be sent by registered mail in good standing, to be a member of the IBP and to pay the
to the member and to the Secretary of the Chapter concerned. corresponding dues, and that as a consequence of this compelled
financial support of the said organization to which he is admittedly
On January 27, 1976, the Court required the respondent to comment on personally antagonistic, he is being deprived of the rights to liberty and
the resolution and letter adverted to above; he submitted his comment on property guaranteed to him by the Constitution. Hence, the respondent
February 23, 1976, reiterating his refusal to pay the membership fees concludes, the above provisions of the Court Rule and of the IBP By-
due from him. Laws are void and of no legal force and effect.

On March 2, 1976, the Court required the IBP President and the IBP The respondent similarly questions the jurisdiction of the Court to strike
Board of Governors to reply to Edillon's comment: on March 24, 1976, his name from the Roll of Attorneys, contending that the said matter is
they submitted a joint reply. not among the justiciable cases triable by the Court but is rather of an
"administrative nature pertaining to an administrative body."
Thereafter, the case was set for hearing on June 3, 1976. After the
hearing, the parties were required to submit memoranda in amplification The case at bar is not the first one that has reached the Court relating to
of their oral arguments. The matter was thenceforth submitted for constitutional issues that inevitably and inextricably come up to the
resolution. surface whenever attempts are made to regulate the practice of law,
define the conditions of such practice, or revoke the license granted for
At the threshold, a painstaking scrutiny of the respondent's pleadings the exercise of the legal profession.
would show that the propriety and necessity of the integration of the Bar
of the Philippines are in essence conceded. The respondent, however, The matters here complained of are the very same issues raised in a
objects to particular features of Rule of Court 139-A (hereinafter referred previous case before the Court, entitled "Administrative Case No. 526, In
to as the Court Rule) 1 — in accordance with which the Bar of the the Matter of the Petition for the Integration of the Bar of the Philippines,
Philippines was integrated — and to the provisions of par. 2, Section 24, Roman Ozaeta, et al., Petitioners." The Court exhaustively considered all
Article III, of the IBP By-Laws (hereinabove cited). these matters in that case in its Resolution ordaining the integration of
the Bar of the Philippines, promulgated on January 9, 1973. The Court
The authority of the IBP Board of Governors to recommend to the there made the unanimous pronouncement that it was
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 By-
... fully convinced, after a thoroughgoing conscientious study of all No. 181 dated May 4, 1973, were prompted by fundamental
the arguments adduced in Adm. Case No. 526 and the authoritative considerations of public welfare and motivated by a desire to meet the
materials and the mass of factual data contained in the exhaustive demands of pressing public necessity.
Report of the Commission on Bar Integration, that the integration of
the Philippine Bar is 'perfectly constitutional and legally The State, in order to promote the general welfare, may interfere with
unobjectionable'. ... and regulate personal liberty, property and occupations. Persons and
property may be subjected to restraints and burdens in order to secure
Be that as it may, we now restate briefly the posture of the Court. 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
An "Integrated Bar" is a State-organized Bar, to which every lawyer must lex." The public welfare is the supreme law. To this fundamental principle
belong, as distinguished from bar associations organized by individual of government the rights of individuals are subordinated. Liberty is a
lawyers themselves, membership in which is voluntary. Integration of the blessing without which life is a misery, but liberty should not be made to
Bar is essentially a process by which every member of the Bar is prevail over authority because then society win fall into anarchy
afforded an opportunity to do his share in carrying out the objectives of (Calalang vs. Williams, 70 Phil. 726). It is an undoubted power of the
the Bar as well as obliged to bear his portion of its responsibilities. State to restrain some individuals from all freedom, and all individuals
Organized by or under the direction of the State, an integrated Bar is an from some freedom.
official national body of which all lawyers are required to be members.
They are, therefore, subject to all the rules prescribed for the governance But the most compelling argument sustaining the constitutionality and
of the Bar, including the requirement of payment of a reasonable annual validity of Bar integration in the Philippines is the explicit unequivocal
fee for the effective discharge of the purposes of the Bar, and adherence grant of precise power to the Supreme Court by Section 5 (5) of Article X
to a code of professional ethics or professional responsibility breach of of the 1973 Constitution of the Philippines, which reads:
which constitutes sufficient reason for investigation by the Bar and, upon
proper cause appearing, a recommendation for discipline or disbarment Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
of the offending member. 2
xxx xxx xxx
The integration of the Philippine Bar was obviously dictated by overriding
considerations of public interest and public welfare to such an extent as (5) Promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and pro.
more than constitutionally and legally justifies the restrictions that procedure in all courts, and the admission to the practice of law and
integration imposes upon the personal interests and personal the integration of the Bar ...,
convenience of individual lawyers. 3
and Section 1 of Republic Act No. 6397, which reads:
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 SECTION 1. Within two years from the approval of this Act, the
valid exercise of the police power over an important profession. The Supreme Court may adopt rules of Court to effect the integration of
practice of law is not a vested right but a privilege, a privilege moreover the Philippine Bar under such conditions as it shall see fit in order to
clothed with public interest because a lawyer owes substantial duties not raise the standards of the legal profession, improve the
only to his client, but also to his brethren in the profession, to the courts, administration of justice, and enable the Bar to discharge its public
and to the nation, and takes part in one of the most important functions responsibility more effectively.
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
Quite apart from the above, let it be stated that even without the enabling
of this privilege must submit to a degree of control for the common good,
Act (Republic Act No. 6397), and looking solely to the language of the
to the extent of the interest he has created. As the U. S. Supreme Court
provision of the Constitution granting the Supreme Court the power "to
through Mr. Justice Roberts explained, the expression "affected with a
promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure in all
public interest" is the equivalent of "subject to the exercise of the police
courts, and the admission to the practice of law," it at once becomes
power" (Nebbia vs. New York, 291 U.S. 502).
indubitable that this constitutional declaration vests the Supreme Court
with plenary power in all cases regarding the admission to and
When, therefore, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 6397 5 authorizing supervision of the practice of law.
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
Thus, when the respondent Edillon entered upon the legal profession, his
exercise of the paramount police power of the State. The Act's avowal is
practice of law and his exercise of the said profession, which affect the
to "raise the standards of the legal profession, improve the administration
society at large, were (and are) subject to the power of the body politic to
of justice, and enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility more
require him to conform to such regulations as might be established by
effectively." Hence, the Congress in enacting such Act, the Court in
the proper authorities for the common good, even to the extent of
ordaining the integration of the Bar through its Resolution promulgated
interfering with some of his liberties. If he did not wish to submit himself
on January 9, 1973, and the President of the Philippines in decreeing the
to such reasonable interference and regulation, he should not have
constitution of the IBP into a body corporate through Presidential Decree
clothed the public with an interest in his concerns.
On this score alone, the case for the respondent must already fall. may be avoided altogether by payment, is not void as unreasonable or
arbitrary. 12
The issues being of constitutional dimension, however, we now concisely
deal with them seriatim. 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
1. The first objection posed by the respondent is that the Court is without regulatory power of the Court to exact compliance with the lawyer's
power to compel him to become a member of the Integrated Bar of the public responsibilities.
Philippines, hence, Section 1 of the Court Rule is unconstitutional for it
impinges on his constitutional right of freedom to associate (and not to 4. Relative to the issue of the power and/or jurisdiction of the Supreme
associate). Our answer is: To compel a lawyer to be a member of the Court to strike the name of a lawyer from its Roll of Attorneys, it is
Integrated Bar is not violative of his constitutional freedom to associate. 6 sufficient to state that the matters of admission, suspension, disbarment
and reinstatement of lawyers and their regulation and supervision have
Integration does not make a lawyer a member of any group of which he been and are indisputably recognized as inherent judicial functions and
is not already a member. He became a member of the Bar when he responsibilities, and the authorities holding such are legion. 14
passed the Bar examinations. 7 All that integration actually does is to
provide an official national organization for the well-defined but In In Re Sparks (267 Ky. 93, 101 S.W. (2d) 194), in which the report of
unorganized and incohesive group of which every lawyer is a ready a the Board of Bar Commissioners in a disbarment proceeding was
member. 8 confirmed and disbarment ordered, the court, sustaining the Bar
Integration Act of Kentucky, said: "The power to regulate the conduct and
Bar integration does not compel the lawyer to associate with anyone. He qualifications of its officers does not depend upon constitutional or
is free to attend or not attend the meetings of his Integrated Bar Chapter statutory grounds. It is a power which is inherent in this court as a court
or vote or refuse to vote in its elections as he chooses. The only — appropriate, indeed necessary, to the proper administration of justice
compulsion to which he is subjected is the payment of annual dues. The ... the argument that this is an arbitrary power which the court is
Supreme Court, in order to further the State's legitimate interest in arrogating to itself or accepting from the legislative likewise misconceives
elevating the quality of professional legal services, may require that the the nature of the duty. It has limitations no less real because they are
cost of improving the profession in this fashion be shared by the subjects inherent. It is an unpleasant task to sit in judgment upon a brother
and beneficiaries of the regulatory program — the lawyers.9 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
Assuming that the questioned provision does in a sense compel a lawyer uphold the Ideals and traditions of an honorable profession and to
to be a member of the Integrated Bar, such compulsion is justified as an protect the public from overreaching and fraud. The very burden of the
exercise of the police power of the State. 10 duty is itself a guaranty that the power will not be misused or prostituted.
..."
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 The Court's jurisdiction was greatly reinforced by our 1973 Constitution
nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the Court, under its when it explicitly granted to the Court the power to "Promulgate rules
constitutional power and duty to promulgate rules concerning the concerning pleading, practice ... and the admission to the practice of law
admission to the practice of law and the integration of the Philippine Bar and the integration of the Bar ... (Article X, Sec. 5(5) the power to pass
(Article X, Section 5 of the 1973 Constitution) — which power the upon the fitness of the respondent to remain a member of the legal
respondent acknowledges — from requiring members of a privileged profession is indeed undoubtedly vested in the Court.
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 We thus reach the conclusion that the provisions of Rule of Court 139-A
apparent that the fee is indeed imposed as a regulatory measure, and of the By-Laws of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines complained of
designed to raise funds for carrying out the objectives and purposes of are neither unconstitutional nor illegal.
integration. 11
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is the unanimous sense of the
3. The respondent further argues that the enforcement of the penalty Court that the respondent Marcial A. Edillon should be as he is hereby
provisions would amount to a deprivation of property without due process disbarred, and his name is hereby ordered stricken from the Roll of
and hence infringes on one of his constitutional rights. Whether the Attorneys of the Court.
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 Fernando, Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio, Muñoz Palma,
pause to consider at length, as it clear that under the police power of the Aquino, Concepcion, Jr., Santos, Fernandez and Guerrero, JJ., concur.
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
LETTER OF ATTY. CECILIO Y. AREVALO, JR., REQUESTING payment of annual membership dues suffers from constitutional
EXEMPTION FROM PAYMENT OF IBP DUES. infirmities, such as equal protection clause and the due process
clause. He also posits that compulsory payment of the IBP annual
DECISION membership dues would indubitably be oppressive to him considering
that he has been in an inactive status and is without income derived
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: from his law practice. He adds that his removal from nonpayment of
annual membership dues would constitute deprivation of property right
This is a request for exemption from payment of the Integrated without due process of law. Lastly, he claims that non-practice of law
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) dues filed by petitioner Atty. Cecilio Y. by a lawyer-member in inactive status is neither injurious to active law
Arevalo, Jr. practitioners, to fellow lawyers in inactive status, nor to the community
In his letter,[1] dated 22 September 2004, petitioner sought where the inactive lawyers-members reside.
exemption from payment of IBP dues in the amount of P12,035.00 as Plainly, the issue here is: whether or nor petitioner is entitled to
alleged unpaid accountability for the years 1977-2005. He alleged that exemption from payment of his dues during the time that he was
after being admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1961, he became part of inactive in the practice of law that is, when he was in the Civil Service
the Philippine Civil Service from July 1962 until 1986, then migrated from 1962-1986 and he was working abroad from 1986-2003?
to, and worked in, the USA in December 1986 until his retirement in
the year 2003. He maintained that he cannot be assessed IBP dues We rule in the negative.
for the years that he was working in the Philippine Civil Service since An Integrated Bar is a State-organized Bar, to which every
the Civil Service law prohibits the practice of ones profession while in lawyer must belong, as distinguished from bar association organized
government service, and neither can he be assessed for the years by individual lawyers themselves, membership in which is voluntary.
when he was working in the USA. Integration of the Bar is essentially a process by which every member
On 05 October 2004, the letter was referred to the IBP for of the Bar is afforded an opportunity to do his shares in carrying out
comment.[2] 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
On 16 November 2004, the IBP submitted its Integrated Bar is an official national body of which all lawyers are
comment[3] stating inter alia: that membership in the IBP is not based required to be members. They are, therefore, subject to all the rules
on the actual practice of law; that a lawyer continues to be included in prescribed for the governance of the Bar, including the requirement of
the Roll of Attorneys as long as he continues to be a member of the payment of a reasonable annual fee for the effective discharge of the
IBP; that one of the obligations of a member is the payment of annual purposes of the Bar, and adherence to a code of professional ethics
dues as determined by the IBP Board of Governors and duly approved or professional responsibility, breach of which constitutes sufficient
by the Supreme Court as provided for in Sections 9 and 10, Rule 139- reason for investigation by the Bar and, upon proper cause appearing,
A of the Rules of Court; that the validity of imposing dues on the IBP a recommendation for discipline or disbarment of the offending
members has been upheld as necessary to defray the cost of an member.[5]
Integrated Bar Program; and that the policy of the IBP Board of
Governors of no exemption from payment of dues is but an The integration of the Philippine Bar means the official unification
implementation of the Courts directives for all members of the IBP to of the entire lawyer population. This requires membership and financial
help in defraying the cost of integration of the bar. It maintained that support of every attorney as condition sine qua non to the practice of
there is no rule allowing the exemption of payment of annual dues as law and the retention of his name in the Roll of Attorneys of the
requested by respondent, that what is allowed is voluntary termination Supreme Court.[6]
and reinstatement of membership. It asserted that what petitioner Bar integration does not compel the lawyer to associate with
could have done was to inform the secretary of the IBP of his intention anyone. He is free to attend or not to attend the meetings of his
to stay abroad, so that his membership in the IBP could have been Integrated Bar Chapter or vote or refuse to vote in its elections as he
terminated, thus, his obligation to pay dues could have been stopped. chooses. The only compulsion to which he is subjected is the payment
It also alleged that the IBP Board of Governors is in the process of of his annual dues. The Supreme Court, in order to foster the States
discussing proposals for the creation of an inactive status for its legitimate interest in elevating the quality of professional legal
members, which if approved by the Board of Governors and by this services, may require that the cost of improving the profession in this
Court, will exempt inactive IBP members from payment of the annual fashion be shared by the subjects and beneficiaries of the regulatory
dues. program the lawyers.[7]
In his reply[4] dated 22 February 2005, petitioner contends that Moreover, there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the
what he is questioning is the IBP Board of Governors Policy of Non- Court, under its constitutional power and duty to promulgate rules
Exemption in the payment of annual membership dues of lawyers concerning the admission to the practice of law and in the integration
regardless of whether or not they are engaged in active or inactive of the Philippine Bar[8] - which power required members of a privileged
practice. He asseverates that the Policy of Non-Exemption in the 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 right to practice law before the courts of this country should be and is
quite apparent that the fee is, indeed, imposed as a regulatory a matter subject to regulation and inquiry. And, if the power to impose
measure, designed to raise funds for carrying out the noble objectives the fee as a regulatory measure is recognize[d], then a penalty
and purposes of integration. designed to enforce its payment, which penalty may be avoided
altogether by payment, is not void as unreasonable or arbitrary.
The rationale for prescribing dues has been explained in the
Integration of the Philippine Bar,[9] thus:
But we must here emphasize that the practice of law is not a property
right but a mere privilege, and as such must bow to the inherent
For the court to prescribe dues to be paid by the members does not
regulatory power of the Court to exact compliance with the lawyers
mean that the Court is attempting to levy a tax.
public responsibilities.

A membership fee in the Bar association is an exaction for regulation,


As a final note, it must be borne in mind that membership in the
while tax purpose of a tax is a revenue. If the judiciary has inherent
bar is a privilege burdened with conditions,[11] one of which is the
power to regulate the Bar, it follows that as an incident to regulation,
payment of membership dues. Failure to abide by any of them entails
it may impose a membership fee for that purpose. It would not be
the loss of such privilege if the gravity thereof warrants such drastic
possible to put on an integrated Bar program without means to defray
move.
the expenses. The doctrine of implied powers necessarily carries with
it the power to impose such exaction. WHEREFORE, petitioners request for exemption from payment
of IBP dues is DENIED. He is ordered to pay P12,035.00, the amount
The only limitation upon the States power to regulate the privilege of assessed by the IBP as membership fees for the years 1977-2005,
law is that the regulation does not impose an unconstitutional burden. within a non-extendible period of ten (10) days from receipt of this
The public interest promoted by the integration of the Bar far decision, with a warning that failure to do so will merit his suspension
outweighs the slight inconvenience to a member resulting from his from the practice of law.
required payment of the annual dues.
SO ORDERED.

Thus, payment of dues is a necessary consequence of


membership in the IBP, of which no one is exempt. This means that
the compulsory nature of payment of dues subsists for as long as ones
membership in the IBP remains regardless of the lack of practice of,
or the type of practice, the member is engaged in.

There is nothing in the law or rules which allows exemption from


payment of membership dues. At most, as correctly observed by the
IBP, he could have informed the Secretary of the Integrated Bar of his
intention to stay abroad before he left. In such case, his membership
in the IBP could have been terminated and his obligation to pay dues
could have been discontinued.

As abovementioned, the IBP in its comment stated that the IBP


Board of Governors is in the process of discussing the situation of
members under inactive status and the nonpayment of their dues
during such inactivity. In the meantime, petitioner is duty bound to
comply with his obligation to pay membership dues to the IBP.

Petitioner also contends that the enforcement of the penalty of


removal would amount to a deprivation of property without due process
and hence infringes on one of his constitutional rights.

This question has been settled in the case of In re Atty. Marcial


Edillon,[10] in this wise:

. . . 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 [is] clear that under
the police power of the State, and under the necessary powers
granted to the Court to perpetuate its existence, the respondents
SOLIMAN M. SANTOS, JR., complainant, vs. ATTY. FRANCISCO R. 2........his conviction for estafa per Decision dated June 30, 1994 in Crim.
LLAMAS, respondent. Case No. 11787, RTC Br. 66, Makati, MM (see attached copy of the
Order dated February 14, 1995 denying the motion for reconsideration of
DECISION the conviction which is purportedly on appeal in the Court of Appeals).

MENDOZA, J.: Attached to the letter-complaint were the pleadings dated December 1, 1995,
November 13, 1996, and January 17, 1997 referred to by complainant,
bearing, at the end thereof, what appears to be respondents signature above
This is a complaint for misrepresentation and non-payment of bar his name, address and the receipt number "IBP Rizal 259060."[1] Also
membership dues filed against respondent Atty. Francisco R. Llamas. attached was a copy of the order,[2] dated February 14, 1995, issued by
Judge Eriberto U. Rosario, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 66, Makati,
In a letter-complaint to this Court dated February 8, 1997, complainant denying respondents motion for reconsideration of his conviction, in Criminal
Soliman M. Santos, Jr., himself a member of the bar, alleged that: Case No. 11787, for violation of Art. 316, par. 2 of the Revised Penal Code.

On my oath as an attorney, I wish to bring to your attention and On April 18, 1997, complainant filed a certification[3] dated March 18, 1997,
appropriate sanction the matter of Atty. Francisco R. Llamas who, for a by the then president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Atty. Ida R.
number of years now, has not indicated the proper PTR and IBP O.R. Macalinao-Javier, that respondents "last payment of his IBP dues was in
Nos. and data (date & place of issuance) in his pleadings. If at all, he 1991. Since then he has not paid or remitted any amount to cover his
only indicates "IBP Rizal 259060" but he has been using this for at least membership fees up to the present."
three years already, as shown by the following attached sample
pleadings in various courts in 1995, 1996 and 1997: (originals available) On July 7, 1997, respondent was required to comment on the complaint
within ten days from receipt of notice, after which the case was referred to
Annex A .......- "Ex-Parte Manifestation and Submission" the IBP for investigation, report and recommendation. In his comment-
dated December 1, 1995 in Civil Case No. Q-95-25253, memorandum,[4] dated June 3, 1998, respondent alleged:[5]
RTC, Br. 224, QC
3. That with respect to the complainants absurd claim that for using in
Annex B .......-"Urgent Ex-Parte Manifestation Motion" 1995, 1996 and 1997 the same O.R. No. 259060 of the Rizal IBP,
dated November 13, 1996 in Sp. Proc. No. 95-030, RTC Br. respondent is automatically no longer a member in good standing.
259 (not 257), Paraaque, MM
Precisely, as cited under the context of Rule 138, only an admitted
Annex C .......- "An Urgent and Respectful Plea for member of the bar who is in good standing is entitled to practice law.
extension of Time to File Required Comment and
Opposition" dated January 17, 1997 in CA-G.R. SP (not The complainants basis in claiming that the undersigned was no longer
Civil Case) No. 42286, CA 6th Div. in good standing, were as above cited, the October 28, 1981 Supreme
Court decision of dismissal and the February 14, 1995 conviction for
This matter is being brought in the context of Rule 138, Section 1 which Violation of Article 316 RPC, concealment of encumbrances. Chief
qualifies that only a duly admitted member of the bar "who is in good and
regular standing, is entitled to practice law". There is also Rule 139-A, As above pointed out also, the Supreme Court dismissal decision was
Section 10 which provides that "default in the payment of annual dues set aside and reversed and respondent was even promoted from City
for six months shall warrant suspension of membership in the Integrated Judge of Pasay City to Regional Trial Court Judge of Makati, Br. 150.
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
Attorneys." Also as pointed out, the February 14, 1995 decision in Crim. Case No.
11787 was appealed to the Court of Appeals and is still pending.
Among others, I seek clarification (e.g. a certification) and appropriate
action on the bar standing of Atty. Francisco R. Llamas both with the Bar Complainant need not even file this complaint if indeed the decision of
Confidant and with the IBP, especially its Rizal Chapter of which Atty. dismissal as a Judge was never set aside and reversed, and also had
Llamas purports to be a member. Jksm the decision of conviction for a light felony, been affirmed by the Court of
Appeals. Undersigned himself would surrender his right or privilege to
practice law.
Please note that while Atty. Llamas indicates "IBP Rizal 259060"
sometimes, he does not indicate any PTR for payment of professional
tax. 4. That complainant capitalizes on the fact that respondent had been
delinquent in his dues.
Under the Rules, particularly Rule 138, Sections 27 and 28, suspension
of an attorney may be done not only by the Supreme Court but also by Undersigned since 1992 have publicly made it clear per his Income Tax
the Court of Appeals or a Regional Trial Court (thus, we are also copy Return, up to the present, that he had only a limited practice of law. In
furnishing some of these courts). fact, in his Income Tax Return, his principal occupation is a farmer of
which he is. His 30 hectares orchard and pineapple farm is located at
Calauan, Laguna.
Finally, it is relevant to note the track record of Atty. Francisco R.
Llamas, as shown by:
Moreover, and more than anything else, respondent being a Senior
Citizen since 1992, is legally exempt under Section 4 of Rep. Act 7432
1........his dismissal as Pasay City Judge per Supreme Court Admin. which took effect in 1992, in the payment of taxes, income taxes as an
Matter No. 1037-CJ En Banc Decision on October 28, 1981 ( in SCRA ) example. Being thus exempt, he honestly believe in view of his
detachment from a total practice of law, but only in a limited practice, the
subsequent payment by him of dues with the Integrated Bar is covered
by such exemption. In fact, he never exercised his rights as an IBP payment of taxes, such as income tax, under R.A. No. 7432, 4 as a senior
member to vote and be voted upon. citizen since 1992.

Nonetheless, if despite such honest belief of being covered by the Rule 139-A provides:
exemption and if only to show that he never in any manner wilfully and
deliberately failed and refused compliance with such dues, he is willing Sec. 9. Membership dues. - Every member of the Integrated Bar shall
at any time to fulfill and pay all past dues even with interests, charges pay such annual dues as the Board of Governors shall determine with
and surcharges and penalties. He is ready to tender such fulfillment or the approval of the Supreme Court. A fixed sum equivalent to ten
payment, not for allegedly saving his skin as again irrelevantly and percent (10%) of the collections from each Chapter shall be set aside as
frustratingly insinuated for vindictive purposes by the complainant, but as a Welfare Fund for disabled members of the Chapter and the
an honest act of accepting reality if indeed it is reality for him to pay such compulsory heirs of deceased members thereof.
dues despite his candor and honest belief in all food faith, to the
contrary. Esmsc
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
On December 4, 1998, the IBP Board of Governors passed a months shall warrant suspension of membership in the Integrated Bar,
resolution[6] adopting and approving the report and recommendation of the and default in such payment for one year shall be a ground for the
Investigating Commissioner which found respondent guilty, and removal of the name of the delinquent member from the Roll of
recommended his suspension from the practice of law for three months and Attorneys.
until he pays his IBP dues. Respondent moved for a reconsideration of the
decision, but this was denied by the IBP in a resolution,[7] dated April 22,
1999. Hence, pursuant to Rule 139-B, 12(b) of the Rules of Court, this case In accordance with these provisions, respondent can engage in the practice
is here for final action on the decision of the IBP ordering respondents of law only by paying his dues, and it does not matter that his practice is
suspension for three months. "limited." While it is true that R.A. No. 7432, 4 grants senior citizens
"exemption from the payment of individual income taxes: provided, that their
annual taxable income does not exceed the poverty level as determined by
The findings of IBP Commissioner Alfredo Sanz are as follows: the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for that year," the
exemption does not include payment of membership or association dues.
On the first issue, Complainant has shown "respondents non-indication
of the proper IBP O.R. and PTR numbers in his pleadings (Annexes "A", Second. By indicating "IBP-Rizal 259060" in his pleadings and thereby
"B" and "C" of the letter complaint, more particularly his use of "IBP Rizal misrepresenting to the public and the courts that he had paid his IBP dues to
259060 for at least three years." the Rizal Chapter, respondent is guilty of violating the Code of Professional
Responsibility which provides:
The records also show a "Certification dated March 24, 1997 from IBP
Rizal Chapter President Ida R. Makahinud Javier that respondents last Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
payment of his IBP dues was in 1991." deceitful conduct.

While these allegations are neither denied nor categorically admitted by CANON 7 - A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE
respondent, he has invoked and cited that "being a Senior Citizen since INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION, AND
1992, he is legally exempt under Section 4 of Republic Act No. 7432 SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.Esmso
which took effect in 1992 in the payment of taxes, income taxes as an
example."
CANON 10 - A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD
FAITH TO THE COURT.
....
Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the
The above cited provision of law is not applicable in the present case. In doing of any court; nor shall he mislead or allow the court to be misled
fact, respondent admitted that he is still in the practice of law when he by any artifice.
alleged that the "undersigned since 1992 have publicly made it clear per
his Income tax Return up to the present time that he had only a limited
practice of law." (par. 4 of Respondents Memorandum). Respondents failure to pay his IBP dues and his misrepresentation in the
pleadings he filed in court indeed merit the most severe penalty. However, in
view of respondents advanced age, his express willingness to pay his dues
Therefore respondent is not exempt from paying his yearly dues to the and plea for a more temperate application of the law,[8] we believe the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines. Esmmis penalty of one year suspension from the practice of law or until he has paid
his IBP dues, whichever is later, is appropriate.
On the second issue, complainant claims that respondent has misled the
court about his standing in the IBP by using the same IBP O.R. number WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Francisco R. Llamas is SUSPENDED from
in his pleadings of at least six years and therefore liable for his actions. the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR, or until he has paid his IBP dues,
Respondent in his memorandum did not discuss this issue. whichever is later. Let a copy of this decision be attached to Atty. Llamas
personal record in the Office of the Bar Confidant and copies be furnished to
First. Indeed, respondent admits that since 1992, he has engaged in law all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to all courts in the
practice without having paid his IBP dues. He likewise admits that, as land.
appearing in the pleadings submitted by complainant to this Court, he
indicated "IBP-Rizal 259060" in the pleadings he filed in court, at least for the SO ORDERED.
years 1995, 1996, and 1997, thus misrepresenting that such was his IBP
chapter membership and receipt number for the years in which those
pleadings were filed. He claims, however, that he is only engaged in a
"limited" practice and that he believes in good faith that he is exempt from the
B.M. No. 1678 December 17, 2007 Admission to the bar requires certain qualifications. The Rules of Court mandates that
an applicant for admission to the bar be a citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-one
years of age, of good moral character and a resident of the Philippines.5 He must also
PETITION FOR LEAVE TO RESUME PRACTICE OF LAW,
produce before this Court satisfactory evidence of good moral character and that no
BENJAMIN M. DACANAY, petitioner.
charges against him, involving moral turpitude, have been filed or are pending in any
court in the Philippines.6
RESOLUTION
Moreover, admission to the bar involves various phases such as furnishing satisfactory
CORONA, J.: proof of educational, moral and other qualifications;7 passing the bar
examinations;8 taking the lawyer’s oath9 and signing the roll of attorneys and receiving
from the clerk of court of this Court a certificate of the license to practice.10
This bar matter concerns the petition of petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay for leave to
resume the practice of law.
The second requisite for the practice of law ― membership in good standing ― is a
continuing requirement. This means continued membership and, concomitantly,
Petitioner was admitted to the Philippine bar in March 1960. He practiced law until he
payment of annual membership dues in the IBP;11 payment of the annual professional
migrated to Canada in December 1998 to seek medical attention for his ailments. He tax;12 compliance with the mandatory continuing legal education requirement;13 faithful
subsequently applied for Canadian citizenship to avail of Canada’s free medical aid observance of the rules and ethics of the legal profession and being continually subject
program. His application was approved and he became a Canadian citizen in May to judicial disciplinary control.14
2004.

Given the foregoing, may a lawyer who has lost his Filipino citizenship still practice law
On July 14, 2006, pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9225 (Citizenship Retention and Re- in the Philippines? No.
Acquisition Act of 2003), petitioner reacquired his Philippine citizenship.1 On that day,
he took his oath of allegiance as a Filipino citizen before the Philippine Consulate
General in Toronto, Canada. Thereafter, he returned to the Philippines and now The Constitution provides that the practice of all professions in the Philippines shall be
intends to resume his law practice. There is a question, however, whether petitioner limited to Filipino citizens save in cases prescribed by law.15 Since Filipino citizenship
Benjamin M. Dacanay lost his membership in the Philippine bar when he gave up his is a requirement for admission to the bar, loss thereof terminates membership in the
Philippine citizenship in May 2004. Thus, this petition. Philippine bar and, consequently, the privilege to engage in the practice of law. In
other words, the loss of Filipino citizenship ipso jure terminates the privilege to practice
law in the Philippines. The practice of law is a privilege denied to foreigners.16
In a report dated October 16, 2007, the Office of the Bar Confidant cites Section 2,
Rule 138 (Attorneys and Admission to Bar) of the Rules of Court:
The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by reason of naturalization as a
citizen of another country but subsequently reacquired pursuant to RA 9225. This is
SECTION 2. Requirements for all applicants for admission to the bar. – Every because "all Philippine citizens who become citizens of another country shall
applicant for admission as a member of the bar must be a citizen of the be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under the conditions of [RA
Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, of good moral character, and a
9225]."17Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen of another country is
resident of the Philippines; and must produce before the Supreme Court deemed never to have lost his Philippine citizenship if he reacquires it in
satisfactory evidence of good moral character, and that no charges against him, accordance with RA 9225. Although he is also deemed never to have terminated his
involving moral turpitude, have been filed or are pending in any court in the membership in the Philippine bar, no automatic right to resume law practice accrues.
Philippines.

Under RA 9225, if a person intends to practice the legal profession in the Philippines
Applying the provision, the Office of the Bar Confidant opines that, by virtue of his and he reacquires his Filipino citizenship pursuant to its provisions "(he) shall apply
reacquisition of Philippine citizenship, in 2006, petitioner has again met all the with the proper authority for a license or permit to engage in such practice."18 Stated
qualifications and has none of the disqualifications for membership in the bar. It
otherwise, before a lawyer who reacquires Filipino citizenship pursuant to RA 9225
recommends that he be allowed to resume the practice of law in the Philippines, can resume his law practice, he must first secure from this Court the authority to do so,
conditioned on his retaking the lawyer’s oath to remind him of his duties and conditioned on:
responsibilities as a member of the Philippine bar.

(a) the updating and payment in full of the annual membership dues in the IBP;
We approve the recommendation of the Office of the Bar Confidant with certain
modifications.
(b) the payment of professional tax;
The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions. It is so delicately affected
2

with public interest that it is both a power and a duty of the State (through this Court) to (c) the completion of at least 36 credit hours of mandatory continuing legal
control and regulate it in order to protect and promote the public welfare.3 education; this is specially significant to refresh the applicant/petitioner’s
knowledge of Philippine laws and update him of legal developments and
Adherence to rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the highest degree of
morality, faithful observance of the rules of the legal profession, compliance with the (d) the retaking of the lawyer’s oath which will not only remind him of his duties
mandatory continuing legal education requirement and payment of membership fees to and responsibilities as a lawyer and as an officer of the Court, but also renew his
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) are the conditions required for membership pledge to maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.
in good standing in the bar and for enjoying the privilege to practice law. Any breach
by a lawyer of any of these conditions makes him unworthy of the trust and confidence
Compliance with these conditions will restore his good standing as a member of the
which the courts and clients repose in him for the continued exercise of his
Philippine bar.
professional privilege.4

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


Section 1, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides:
subject to compliance with the conditions stated above and submission of proof of
such compliance to the Bar Confidant, after which he may retake his oath as a
SECTION 1. Who may practice law. – Any person heretofore duly admitted as a member of the Philippine bar.
member of the bar, or thereafter admitted as such in accordance with the
provisions of this Rule, and who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to
SO ORDERED.
practice law.

Puno, C.J., Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Carpio-


Pursuant thereto, any person admitted as a member of the Philippine bar in
Morales, Azcuna, Tinga, Chico-Nazario, Velasco, Jr., Nachura, Reyes, Leonardo-de
accordance with the statutory requirements and who is in good and regular standing is
Castro, JJ., concur.
entitled to practice law.
Quisumbing, J., on leave.