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EN BANC is your purpose in using the letterhead of another law office.

" Not
having received any reply, he filed the instant complaint.
Adm. Case No. 2131 May 10, 1985
We hold that Baker & McKenzie, being an alien law firm, cannot
ADRIANO E. DACANAY, complainant practice law in the Philippines (Sec. 1, Rule 138, Rules of Court). As
vs. admitted by the respondents in their memorandum, Baker & McKenzie
BAKER & MCKENZIE and JUAN G. COLLAS JR., LUIS MA. is a professional partnership organized in 1949 in Chicago, Illinois with
GUERRERO, VICENTE A. TORRES, RAFAEL E. members and associates in 30 cities around the world. Respondents,
EVANGELISTA, JR., ROMEO L. SALONGA, JOSE R. aside from being members of the Philippine bar, practising under the
SANDEJAS, LUCAS M. NUNAG, J. CLARO TESORO, firm name of Guerrero & Torres, are members or associates of Baker
JR., respondents.
As pointed out by the Solicitor General, respondents' use of the firm
Adriano E. Dacanay for and his own behalf. name Baker & McKenzie constitutes a representation that being
associated with the firm they could "render legal services of the highest
Madrid, Cacho, Angeles, Dominguez & Pecson Law Office for quality to multinational business enterprises and others engaged in
respondents. foreign trade and investment" (p. 3, respondents' memo). This is
unethical because Baker & McKenzie is not authorized to practise law
here. (See Ruben E. Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1983 Ed., p. 115.)

AQUINO, J.: WHEREFORE, the respondents are enjoined from practising law under
the firm name Baker & McKenzie.
Lawyer Adriano E. Dacanay, admitted to the bar in 1954, in his 1980
verified complaint, sought to enjoin Juan G. Collas, Jr. and nine other SO ORDERED.
lawyers from practising law under the name of Baker & McKenzie, a
law firm organized in Illinois. Teehankee, Acting CJ., Makasiar, Abad Santos, Melencio-Herrera,
Escolin, Relova, Gutierrez, Jr., De la Fuente, Cuevas and Alampay, JJ.,
In a letter dated November 16, 1979 respondent Vicente A. Torres, concur.
using the letterhead of Baker & McKenzie, which contains the names
of the ten lawyers, asked Rosie Clurman for the release of 87 shares of Plana, J., took no part.
Cathay Products International, Inc. to H.E. Gabriel, a client.
Fernando, C.J., and Concepcion, Jr., J., are on leave.
Attorney Dacanay, in his reply dated December 7, 1979, denied any
liability of Clurman to Gabriel. He requested that he be informed
whether the lawyer of Gabriel is Baker & McKenzie "and if not, what
EN BANC In her complaint, Judge Paas alleged that Almarvez is discourteous to
his co-employees, lawyers and party litigants; has failed to maintain the
A.M. No. P-03-1690 April 4, 2003 cleanliness in and around the court premises despite order to do so, thus
(formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 00-956-P) amounting to insubordination; was, and on several instances, habitually
absent from work or made it appear that he reported for work by signing
JUDGE ESTRELLITA M. PAAS, petitioner, the logbook in the morning, only to stay out of the office the whole day;
vs. asked from detention prisoners P100.00 to P200.00 before he released
EDGAR E. ALMARVEZ, respondent. to them their Release Orders; asked for amounts in excess of what was
necessary for the purchase of stamps and pocketed the difference; once
x-----------------------------x failed to mail printed matter on July 11, 2000 and kept for his own use
the amount given to him for the purpose; and divulged confidential
A.M. No. MTJ-01-1363 April 4, 2003 information to litigants in advance of its authorized release date for a
monetary consideration, thus giving undue advantage or favor to the
EDGAR E. ALMARVEZ, petitioner, paying party, in violation of Rep. Act No. 3019 (The Anti-Graft and
vs. Corrupt Practices Act).1
Pasay City MeTC Branch 44 Clerk of Court Pedro C. Doctolero, Jr., by
x-----------------------------x his Affidavit,2 and members of the court staff,3 by a Joint Affidavit,
attested that Almarvez failed to maintain the cleanliness in and around
A.M. No. 01-12-02-SC April 4, 2003 the court premises, and had shown discourtesy in dealing with Judge
Paas and his co-employees. Doctolero's affidavit also corroborated
IN RE: USE BY ATTY. RENERIO G. PAAS AS AN OFFICE IN Judge Paas' allegation that Almarvez would merely sign the logbook in
HIS PRIVATE PRACTICE OF HIS PROFESSION THE OFFICE the morning and thereafter stay out of the office.
PAAS. Pasay City Postmaster Emma Z. Espiritu, by Certification dated August
2, 2000,4 attested that the alleged printed matter intended to be mailed
CARPIO MORALES, J.: on July 11, 2000 was not included in the list of registered mails posted
in the Pasay City Post Office on said date.
Pasay City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Branch 44 Presiding
Judge Estrellita M. Paas administratively charged Court Aide/Utility
Jail Escort Russel S. Hernandez and Jail Officer II Rosendo
Worker Edgar E. Almarvez with "discourtesy, disrespect,
Macabasag, both assigned to the Pasay City Jail, by their respective
insubordination, neglect in performing his duties, disloyalty,
affidavits,5 attested that on several occasions, they saw Almarvez
solicitation of monetary consideration and gross violation of the Civil
receive from detention prisoners P100.00 to P200.00 in consideration
Service Law." The case was docketed as A.M. OCA IPI No. 00-956-P.
of the release of their Release Orders.
Almarvez, by Answer of September 25, 2000,6 denied Judge Paas' Judge Paas was a principal sponsor at their respective weddings;
charges, and alleged that the real reason why Judge Paas filed the case Hernandez was in fact indebted to the Judge for helping him cover-up
against him was because she suspected him of helping her husband, the escape of a detainee under his charge; the court's mail matters were
Atty. Renerio G. Paas, conceal his marital indiscretions; since she failed always sealed whenever he received them for mailing and he never
to elicit any information from him, she resorted to calling him names tampered with their contents; the alleged unmailed printed matter was
and other forms of harassment; on September 6, 2000, she hurled at him actually posted on June 28, 2000, not on July 11, 2000, via ordinary
the following invectives before the other employees of the court: instead of registered mail, because the money given to him for the
"Walang kuwenta, ahas ka, driver lang kita, pinaasenso kita, walang purpose was insufficient; and on the days when he was out of the office,
utang na loob, pinagtatakpan mo pa ang asawa ko, ulupong;" and she he was actually performing personal errands for the judge and her
insisted that he sign a prepared resignation letter, a copy of which he husband, Atty. Paas, who treated him as their personal driver and
was not able to keep. messenger.

Almarvez added that he had been subjected by Judge Paas to the As further proof of Judge Paas' oppressive behavior towards him,
following incidents of oppression and abuse of authority: On July 28, Almarvez claimed that she ordered him to undergo a drug test per
2000, he was called by the Judge to her chambers where she berated Memorandum dated September 7, 2000,8 even if he had no history of
him as follows: "Sinungaling ka, ang dami mong alam, hindi ka drug abuse on a periodic or continuous basis as shown by the test results
nagsasabi ng totoo sa akin, gago, tanga, pirmahan mo itong of his examination.9
resignation letter, kung hindi kakasuhan kita ng estafa at falsification;"
the next day, the Judge, on seeing him, told him "Bakit ka nandiyan, The Court treated respondent's Answer as a counter-complaint against
mag-leave ka sa Lunes;" and on July 31, 2000, the Judge called him Judge Paas and docketed it as A.M. No. MTJ-01-1363.
again to her chambers and told him "Ang kapal ng mukha mo, pumasok
ka pa dito, gago, kaya kita ipinasok dito dahil driver kita." The two administrative cases were consolidated and referred for
evaluation to the OCA, which assigned them to Executive Judge
Continuing, Almarvez claimed that on July 31, 2000, he reported the Vicente L. Yap of Pasay City RTC, Branch 114 for investigation.
foregoing incidents to Pasay City MeTC Executive Judge Maria
Cancino Erum who advised him to report the same to the Office of the In a separate case for inhibition of Judge Paas in a criminal case, it was
Clerk of Court; and on August 1, 2000, he executed a sworn statement- revealed that Judge Paas' husband, private practitioner Atty. Paas, was
complaint7 against Judge Paas and went to the Office of the Court using his wife's office as his office address in his law practice, in
Administrator (OCA) to file it, but he was advised to try to talk the support of which were submitted copies of a Notice of Appeal signed
matter over with her who then told him that they should forget all about by Atty. Paas, notices from Pasay City RTC Branch 109 and from the
it. Supreme Court with respect to the case of People vs. Louie Manabat,
et al. (GR Nos. 140536-37) which indicated Atty. Paas' address to be
On the merits of the charges, Almarvez denied ever requesting for Room 203, Hall of Justice, Pasay City,10 the office assigned to Pasay
money in exchange for the release of court orders and alleged that both City MeTC, Branch 44.
Hernandez and Macabasag executed their respective affidavits because
Pursuant to Sec. 1 of Rule 139-B11 of the Rules of Court which allows By Resolution of February 12, 2002,18 the Court referred the matter to
the Supreme Court to motu proprio initiate proceedings for the the OCA for evaluation, report and recommendation.
discipline of attorneys, this Court resolved to docket the matter as A.M.
No. 01-12-02-SC and to consolidate it with A.M. OCA IPI No. 00-956- After the completion of his investigation of A.M. OCA IPI No. 00-956-
P and AM No. MTJ-01-1363. P and A.M. No. MTJ-01-1363, Judge Yap submitted his
Report/Recommendation dated February 28, 2002.19
In compliance with the December 4, 2001 Resolution12 of the Court en
banc, Judge and Atty. Paas submitted their January 16, 2002 Joint On March 11, 2002, the OCA submitted its Report on A.M. No. 01-12-
Affidavit13 wherein they vehemently denied the charge that the latter 02-SC dated March 1, 2002.20
was using Room 203 of the Pasay City Hall of Justice as his office
address, they claiming that Atty. Paas actually holds office at 410 I. OCA Findings and Recommendations
Natividad Building, Escolta, Manila with his partner Atty. Herenio
Martinez; Atty. Paas would visit his wife at her office only when he has A. On the charges against Almarvez:
a hearing before the Pasay City courts or Prosecutor's Office, or when
he lunches with or fetches her, or when he is a guest during special The OCA, for lack of evidence, recommended the dismissal of the
occasions such as Christmas party and her birthday which are charges against Almarvez of exacting money from detainees, violating
celebrated therein; and Judge Paas would never consent nor tolerate the confidentiality of official communication, absence without official
use of the court for any personal activities. Attached to the Joint leave, discourtesy and insubordination. Given Almarvez' unsatisfactory
Affidavit were the separate sworn statements of Atty. Paas' law partner performance ratings for three rating periods covering January to June
Atty. Herenio E. Martinez14 and secretary Nilda L. Gatdula15 attesting 2000,21 July to December 2000,22 and January to April
that he is holding office at the above-said address in Escolta, and the 2001,23 however, the OCA recommended that he be duly penalized
Joint Affidavit of the Pasay City MeTC Branch 44 court for inefficiency in the performance of his official duties with One (1)
personnel16 attesting that Atty. Paas' visits to the court are neither Month suspension without pay, instead of dismissal as warranted under
routine nor daily occurrences, and he never used the court in the Memorandum Circular No. 12, s. 1994, his supervisor having failed to
practice of his profession. observe the procedure thereunder for dropping of employees from the
rolls, which procedure is quoted at the later portion of this decision.
On January 24, 2002, Judge Paas executed a Supplemental
Affidavit17 wherein she admitted that Atty. Paas did use her office as B. On the charges against Judge Paas:
his return address for notices and orders in Crim. Case Nos. 98-1197 to
98-1198, "People vs. Louie Manabat y Valencia and Raymond dela With respect to the complaint of Almarvez against Judge Paas, the
Cruz y Salita," (now docketed in this Court as G.R. Nos. 140536-37), OCA, for lack of supporting evidence, recommended the dismissal of
lodged at the Pasay City RTC, Branch 109, but only to ensure and the charges of maltreatment, harassment and verbal abuse. It found,
facilitate delivery of those notices, but after the cases were terminated, however, that Judge Paas "had used her administrative power of
all notices were sent to his office address in Escolta. supervision and control over court personnel for her personal pride,
prejudice and pettiness"24 when she issued her September 7, 2000
Memorandum ordering Alvarez to undergo a drug test after she had On the charge of violation of Rep. Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and
already filed an administrative case against him. It thus concluded that, Corrupt Practices Act): Absent any evidence to support the charge, the
in all probability, the purpose of Judge Paas in ordering Almarvez to affiants jail officers who claimed to have witnessed Almarvez receive
undergo a drug test was to fish for evidence to support the money from detention prisoners in exchange for the release of their
administrative case she had already filed against him. Release Orders not having been presented, hence, their claim remains
hearsay, Almarvez' categorical denial and counter-allegation that these
Accordingly, the OCA recommended that Judge Paas be found guilty affiants executed their affidavits only out of fear of or favor to Judge
of simple misconduct in office, and be penalized with reprimand with Paas gain light.
a warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with
more severely. As for the charge that Almarvez would merely sign the logbook and
would thereafter leave the office, again Judge Paas failed to present the
II. This Court's Findings: affiant-Clerk of Court Atty. Pedro C. Doctolero, Jr. While she
submitted in evidence a copy of her October 6, 2000
A. On the charges against Almarvez: memorandum26 requiring Almarvez to explain why he was not in the
office on September 8, 11, and 13, and October 5, 2000, despite his
Indeed, this Court finds that there is no sufficient evidence to support affixing of his signature in the logbook on those dates indicating that
the charge of violation of confidentiality of official he reported for work, Almarvez satisfactorily explained that on
communication against Almarvez. The charge against Almarvez in September 8, 11, and 13, 2000, he submitted himself to drug testing as
Judge Paas' complaint-affidavit which reads: required by her in her September 7, 200027 memorandum, which
explanation is supported by the September 14, 2000 letter of Dr.
That said ALMARVEZ being in charge of the mails had Rosendo P. Saulog, Medical Specialist II of the Dangerous Drug
divulged informations which is confidential in nature to party Board.28 As to his whereabouts on October 5, 2000, Almarvez'
litigants in advance of its authorized release date before the explanation that he was actually present in the morning but left in the
release of Court Order and Decision for consideration of a sum afternoon for the Supreme Court29 was not controverted.
of money thus giving undue advantage or favor to the paying
party detrimental to the due administration of justice.25 On the charge of inefficiency, this Court concurs with the following
findings of the OCA that he should be faulted therefor:
in fact lacks particularity. It is devoid of material details to enable
Almarvez to intelligently meet the same. The performance ratings of respondent Almarvez for three (3)
rating periods covering January to June 2000, July to December
As for the charges of neglect of duty, discourtesy and 2000 and January to April 2001 evidently shows that he failed
insubordination which were echoed in the affidavits of court personnel, to perform his official duties. The fact that respondent Almarvez
they are also too general to support a conviction and are contrary to never disputed the performance ratings given him is tantamount
what is reflected in his performance rating that he cooperated willingly, to an implied acceptance thereof pursuant to Sec. 5 Rule IX
even wholeheartedly, with his fellow employees. Book V of Executive Order No. 292, quoted as follows:
"Sec. 5. An employee who expresses dissatisfaction with which shall enable the employee to prepare an explanation.
the rating given him may appeal through the established (Emphasis and italics supplied.)
Grievance Procedure of the Department or Agency
within fifteen (15) days after receipt of his copy of his The suspension of Almarvez for One (1) Month without pay, as
performance rating. Failure to file an appeal within the recommended by the OCA, is thus in order.
prescribed period shall be deemed a waiver of such
right." B. On the charges against Judge Paas:

The performance ratings of respondent for the said periods are Regarding the charges of abuse of authority and oppression against
valid grounds to drop him from the Rolls. However, considering Judge Paas, Almarvez failed to substantiate the same.
that his superior/supervisor failed to comply with the
requirements set forth in Memorandum Circular No. 12, Series Judge Paas' order for Almarvez to undergo a drug test is not an unlawful
of 1994 of the Civil Service Commission, which is hereunder order. Per Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 34, s.
quoted, and that he was able to make up and cure his 1997, public employees are required to undergo a drug test prior to
inefficiency after he was given the opportunity to improve his employment to determine if they are drug-free. To be drug-free is not
performance in his detail to Branch 11, MeTC, Manila, as merely a pre-employment prerequisite but is a continuing requirement
shown by his performance rating for the period April to June to ensure the highest degree of productivity of the civil service.
2001 with a "very satisfactory" rating, dropping him from the However, considering that the order was issued after Judge Paas filed
roll will no longer be appropriate30 (Emphasis and italics the administrative case against Almarvez, it elicits the suspicion that it
supplied.) was only a fishing expedition against him. This is conduct unbecoming
of a member of the judiciary, for which Judge Paas should be duly
Par. 2.2 of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 12, s. 1994 referred to in reprimanded.
the above-quoted findings of the OCA reads:
C. On the charges against Judge Paas and Atty. Paas:
2.2 Unsatisfactory or Poor Performance.
By Judge Paas' own admission in her January 24, 2002 Supplemental
(a) An official or employee who is given two (2) consecutive Affidavit,31 she was aware that her husband Atty. Paas was using her
unsatisfactory ratings may be dropped from the rolls after due office to receive court notices and orders in a case lodged in a Pasay
notice. Notice shall mean that the officer or employee concerned court. As the OCA puts it, "[w]hile the same appears to be innocuous,
is informed in writing of his unsatisfactory performance for a it could be interpreted as a subtle way of sending a message that Atty.
semester and is sufficiently warned that a succeeding Paas is the husband of a judge in the same building and should be given
unsatisfactory performance shall warrant his separation from the special treatment by other judges or court personnel."32
service. Such notice shall be given not later than 30 days from
the end of the semester and shall contain sufficient information The following are instructive in the disposition of these charges against
the judge and her spouse, Atty. Paas:
SC Administrative Circular No. 01-99, "Enhancing the Dignity of to convey the impression that they are in a special position
Courts as Temples of Justice and Promoting Respect for their Officials to influence the judge. (Emphasis supplied.)
and Employers" reads:
SC Circular No. 3-92,33 dated August 31, 1992, of this Court reads:
As courts are temples of justice, their dignity and sanctity must,
at all times be preserved and enhanced. In inspiring public SUBJECT: PROHIBITION AGAINST USE OF HALLS OF
respect for the justice system, court officials and employees JUSTICE FOR RESIDENTIAL OR COMMERCIAL

1. In general: (a) avoid committing any act which would All judges and court personnel are hereby reminded that the
constitute grounds for disciplinary action under, as the case may Halls of Justice may be used only for purposes directly related
be, the Canons of Judicial Ethics, Code of Judicial Conduct; and to the functioning and operation of the courts of justice, and may
Section 46, Chapter 7, Subtitle A, Title I, Book V of the not be devoted to any other use, least of all as residential quarters
Administrative Code of 1987 (Executive Order No. 292); and of the judges or court personnel, or for carrying on therein any
(b) faithfully comply with the norms of conduct and perform the trade or profession.
duties prescribed in the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards
for Public Officials and Employees (R.A. No. 6713); Attention is drawn to A.M. No. RTJ-89-327 (Nellie Kelly
Austria vs. Judge Singuat Guerra), a case involving
2. Zealously guard the public trust character of their offices; unauthorized and improper use of the court's premises for
dwelling purposes by respondent and his family, in which the
xxx xxx xxx Court, by Resolution dated October 17, 1991, found respondent
Judge guilty of irresponsible and improper conduct prejudicial
6. Never use their offices as a residence or for any other to the efficient administration of justice and best interest of the
purpose than for court or judicial functions. (Emphasis and service, and imposed on him the penalty of SEVERE
italics supplied.) CENSURE, the Court declaring that such use of the court's
premises inevitably degrades the honor and dignity of the court
Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides that "A judge should in addition to exposing judicial records to danger of loss or
avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities." damage. (emphasis supplied.)
Specifically, Rule 2.03 thereof provides that:
By allowing her husband to use the address of her court in pleadings
Rule 2.03. A judge shall not allow family, social, or other before other courts, Judge Paas indeed "allowed [him] to ride on her
relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. The prestige for purposes of advancing his private interest, in violation of
prestige of judicial office shall not be used or lent to advance the Code of Judicial Conduct"34 and of the above-stated Supreme Court
the private interests of others, nor convey or permit others circulars, which violation is classified as a less serious charge under the
Rules of Court35 and is punishable under the same Rule.36
A judge's official conduct should indeed be free from the appearance CANON 15 A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR,
of impropriety; and his behavior not only in the performance of judicial FAIRNESS AND LOYALTY IN ALL HIS DEALINGS AND
duties, but also in his everyday life should be beyond reproach. This is TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENTS.
premised on the truism that a Judge's official life cannot simply be
detached or separated from his personal existence and that upon a Rule 15.06. A lawyer shall not state or imply that he is able to
Judge's attributes depend the public perception of the Judiciary.37 influence any public official, tribunal or legislative body.

On his part, Atty. Paas was guilty of using a fraudulent, misleading, and The need for relying on the merits of a lawyer's case, instead of banking
deceptive address that had no purpose other than to try to impress either on his relationship with a member of the bench which tends to influence
the court in which his cases are lodged, or his client, that he has close or gives the appearance of influencing the court, cannot be
ties to a member of the juiciary, in violation of the following rules of overemphasized. It is unprofessional and dishonorable, to say the least,
the Code of Professional Responsibility: to misuse a public office to enhance a lawyer's prestige. Public
confidence in law and lawyers may be eroded by such reprehensible
CANON 3 A LAWYER IN MAKING KNOWN HIS and improper conduct.
FAIR, DIGNIFIED AND OBJECTIVE INFORMATION OR This Court does not subscribe to the proffered excuse that expediency
STATEMENT OF FACTS. and a desire to ensure receipt of court orders and notices prompted Atty.
Paas and Judge Paas to allow him to have his court notices sent to office
Rule 3.01. A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any false, of Judge Paas, especially given the fact that for his other cases, Atty.
fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or Paas used his office address but there is no showing that he failed to
unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or legal receive the notices sent to that address. While a lawyer should make the
services. necessary arrangements to ensure that he is properly informed of any
court action, these should not violate his lawyer's oath or the Code of
CANON 10 A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS Professional Responsibility, nor provide an opportunity for a member
AND GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT. of the judiciary to breach his or her responsibilities under Supreme
Court circulars and the Code of Judicial Conduct.
Rule 10.01 A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to
the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the WHEREFORE, this Court finds:
Court to be misled by any artifice.
(1) In A.M. OCA IPI No. 00-956-P, respondent Edgar E.
CANON 13 A LAWYER SHALL RELY UPON THE Almarvez GUILTY of inefficiency and is hereby SUSPENDED
MERITS OF HIS CAUSE AND REFRAIN FROM ANY for One (1) Month without pay;
GIVES THE APPEARANCE OF INFLUENCING THE (2) In A.M. No. MTJ-01-1363, respondent, Judge Estrellita M.
COURT. Paas GUILTY of conduct unbecoming of a member of the
judiciary and is hereby REPRIMANDED, with warning that
repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more

(3) In A.M. No. 01-12-02-SC,

(a) Judge Paas GUILTY of violating SC Administrative

Circular No. 01-99, SC Circular No. 3-92 and Canon 2,
Rule 2.03 of the Code of Judicial Conduct and is hereby
ordered to pay a FINE of TWELVE THOUSAND
PESOS (P12,000.00), with warning that repetition of the
same or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely;

(b) Atty. Renerio Paas GUILTY of SIMPLE

MISCONDUCT and is hereby SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for a period of THREE (3) MONTHS,
with warning that repetition of the same or similar act
shall be dealt with more severely.

This Decision shall take effect immediately.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant,
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and appended to respondents'
personal record.

EN BANC respondents services as counsel and engaged another lawyer to
represent the association.
Respondent also acted as counsel for Lydia Durano-Rodriguez who
[A.C. No. 5580. June 15, 2005] substituted for DCI in Civil Case No. 18014 entitled San Jose
SAN JOSE HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION INC., as Homeowners, Inc. v. Durano and Corp., Inc. filed before the Regional
represented by REBECCA V. LABRADOR, complainant, Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 134. Thus, SJHAI filed a
disbarment case against respondent for representing conflicting
vs. ATTY. ROBERTO B. ROMANILLOS, respondent.
interests, docketed as Administrative Case No. 4783.
DECISION In her Report[4] dated August 3, 1998, Investigating Commissioner
PER CURIAM: Lydia A. Navarro of the Commission on Bar Discipline of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) made the following findings:
This is a Petition[1] for disbarment against Atty. Roberto B.
Romanillos for allegedly representing conflicting interests and for Respondent failed to observe candor and fairness in dealing with his
using the title Judge despite having been found guilty of grave and clients, knowing fully well that the Montealegre case was adverse to
serious misconduct in Zarate v. Judge Romanillos.[2] the Complainant wherein he had previously been not only an active
The facts are as follows: board member but its corporate secretary having access to all its
documents confidential or otherwise and its counsel in handling the
In 1985, respondent represented San Jose Homeowners implementation of the writ of execution against its developer and
Association, Inc. (SJHAI) before the Human Settlements Regulation owner, Durano and Co. Inc.
Commission (HSRC) in a case[3] against Durano and Corp., Inc. (DCI)
for violation of the Subdivision and Condominium Buyers Protection Moreso, when Respondent acted as counsel for the substituted
Act (P.D. No. 957). SJHAI alleged that Lot No. 224 was designated as defendant Durano and Co. Inc., Lydia Durano-Rodriguez; the conflict
a school site in the subdivision plan that DCI submitted to the Bureau of interest between the latter and the Complainant became so revealing
of Lands in 1961 but was sold by DCI to spouses Ramon and Beatriz and yet Respondent proceeded to represent the former.
Durano without disclosing it as a school site.
For his defense of good faith in doing so; inasmuch as the same wasnt
While still the counsel for SJHAI, respondent represented Myrna
controverted by the Complainant which was his first offense;
and Antonio Montealegre in requesting for SJHAIs conformity to
Respondent must be given the benefit of the doubt to rectify his error
construct a school building on Lot No. 224 to be purchased from
subject to the condition that should he commit the same in the future;
severe penalty will be imposed upon him.[5]
When the request was denied, respondent applied for clearance
The Investigating Commissioner recommended dismissal of the
before the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) in
complaint with the admonition that respondent should observe extra
behalf of Montealegre. Petitioners Board of Directors terminated
care and diligence in the practice of his profession to uphold its dignity The Investigating Commissioner, however, believed that
and integrity beyond reproach. respondent was deceitful when he used the title Judge, thus creating a
false impression that he was an incumbent.
The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the report and
recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, which we noted The Investigating Commissioner recommended thus:
in a resolution dated March 8, 1999.
In view of the foregoing considerations, this Commissioner respectfully
Notwithstanding the admonition, respondent continued
recommends the following penalty range to be deliberated upon by the
representing Lydia Durano-Rodriguez before the Court of
Board for imposition on Respondent: minimum penalty of reprimand
Appeals[6] and this Court[7] and even moved for the execution of the
to a maximum penalty of four (4) months suspension. It is further
recommended that in addition to the penalty to be imposed, a stern
Thus, a second disbarment case was filed against respondent for warning be given to Respondent in that should he violate his
violation of the March 8, 1999 Resolution in A.C. No. 4783 and for his undertaking/promise not to handle any case in the future where the
alleged deceitful conduct in using the title Judge although he was found Complainant would be the adverse party and/or should he again use the
guilty of grave and serious misconduct. title of Judge which would create an impression that he is still
connected to the judiciary, a more severe penalty shall be imposed on
Respondent used the title Judge in his office letterhead,
him by the Commission.
correspondences and billboards which was erected in several areas
within the San Jose Subdivision sometime in October 2001. RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED.
In his Comment and Explanation, respondent claimed that he The IBP Board of Governors approved with modification the report
continued to represent Lydia Durano-Rodriguez against petitioner and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, thus:
despite the March 8, 1999 Resolution because it was still pending when
the second disbarment case was filed. He maintained that the instant RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED
petition is a rehash of the first disbarment case from which he was and APPROVED, with modification, the Report and
exonerated. Concerning the title Judge, respondent stated that since the Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-
filing of the instant petition he had ceased to attach the title to his name. entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex A, and,
On July 7, 2003, the matter was referred to the IBP for finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record
investigation, report and recommendation.[9] and the applicable laws and rules, and considering Respondents
violation of Rule 1.01 and Rule 3.01 of the Code of Professional
Investigating Commissioner Leland R. Villadolid, Jr. reported that Responsibility, Atty. Roberto Romanillos is hereby SUSPENDED
respondent did not violate the admonition because it referred to future from the practice of law for six (6) months with a WARNING that
cases only and not to cases subject of A.C. No. 4783. Besides, petitioner should he violate his undertaking/promise a more severe penalty shall
never questioned the propriety of respondents continued representation be imposed against him.
of Lydia Durano-Rodriguez on appeal until the case was terminated.
Undoubtedly, respondent represented the inconsistent interests of integrity and honesty. He deserves the supreme penalty of dismissal.
SJHAI, DCI as substituted by Lydia Durano-Rodriguez and the However, respondent, in an obvious attempt to escape punishment for
Montealegres. Respondent was admonished yet he continued to his misdeeds, tendered his resignation during the pendency of this case.
represent Durano-Rodriguez against SJHAI. Consequently, we are now precluded from dismissing respondent from
the service. Nevertheless, the ruling in People v. Valenzuela (135
It is inconsequential that petitioner never questioned the propriety
SCRA 712 [1985]), wherein the respondent judge likewise resigned
of respondents continued representation of Lydia Durano-Rodriguez.
before the case could be resolved, finds application in this case. Therein
The lack of opposition does not mean tacit consent. As long as the
it was held that the rule that the resignation or retirement of a
lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two (2) or more opposing
respondent judge in an administrative case renders the case moot and
clients, he is guilty of violating his oath. Rule 15.03 of the Code of
academic, is not a hard and fast rule.
Professional Responsibility specifically mandates that a lawyer shall
not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all
ACCORDINGLY, in view of our aforestated finding that respondent
concerned given after a full disclosure. Incidentally, it is also
Judge Romanillos is guilty of grave and serious misconduct which
misleading for respondent to insist that he was exonerated in A.C. No.
would have warranted his dismissal from the service had he not
resigned during the pendency of this case, and it appearing that
We agree with the IBP that respondents continued use of the title respondent has yet to apply for his retirement benefits and other
Judge violated Rules 1.01 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional privileges if any; the Court, consistent with the penalties imposed in
Responsibility prohibiting a lawyer from engaging in deceitful conduct Valenzuela (supra.), hereby orders the FORFEITURE of all leave and
and from using any misleading statement or claim regarding retirement benefits and privileges to which herein respondent Judge
qualifications or legal services. The quasi-judicial notice he posted in Romanillos may be entitled WITH PREJUDICE to reinstatement
the billboards referring to himself as a judge is deceiving. It was a clear and/or reemployment in any branch or instrumentality of government,
attempt to mislead the public into believing that the order was issued in including government-owned or controlled agencies or corporations.
his capacity as a judge when he was dishonorably stripped of the
privilege. SO ORDERED.[10]
Respondent did not honorably retire from the judiciary. He The penalty imposed upon him in said case included forfeiture of
resigned from being a judge during the pendency of Zarate v. Judge all leave and retirement benefits and privileges to which he may be
Romanillos, where he was eventually found guilty of grave and serious entitled with prejudice to reinstatement and/or reemployment in any
misconduct and would have been dismissed from the service had he not branch or instrumentality of government, including government-owned
resigned. or controlled agencies or corporations. Certainly, the use of the title
Judge is one of such privileges.
In that case, respondent was found guilty of illegal solicitation and
receipt of P10,000.00 from a party litigant. We ruled thus: We have previously declared that the use of titles such as Justice is
reserved to incumbent and retired members of the Supreme Court, the
Considering the foregoing, respondent Judge Roberto B. Romanillos is Court of Appeals and the Sandiganbayan and may not be used by any
hereby found guilty of grave and serious misconduct affecting his other official of the Republic, including those given the rank of
Justice.[11] By analogy, the title Judge should be reserved only to of his office and unworthy of the trust and confidence reposed on him
judges, incumbent and retired, and not to those who were dishonorably as an officer of the court. His disbarment is consequently warranted.
discharged from the service. As correctly pointed out by the
Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court provides:
Investigating Commissioner, the right to retain and use said title applies
only to the aforementioned members of the bench and no other, and SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court;
certainly not to those who were removed or dismissed from the grounds therefor. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended
judiciary, such as respondent. from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit,
Membership in the legal profession is a special privilege burdened malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral
with conditions.[12] It is bestowed upon individuals who are not only conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral
learned in law, but also known to possess good moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take
character.[13] Lawyers should act and comport themselves with honesty before admission to practice, or for a wilful disobedience of any lawful
and integrity in a manner beyond reproach, in order to promote the order of a superior court, or for corruptly or wilfully appearing as an
publics faith in the legal profession.[14] attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of
soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or
To say that lawyers must at all times uphold and respect the law is
through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.
to state the obvious, but such statement can never be overemphasized.
Considering that, of all classes and professions, [lawyers are] most WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Roberto B. Romanillos is
sacredly bound to uphold the law, it is imperative that they live by the DISBARRED and his name is ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll
law. Accordingly, lawyers who violate their oath and engage in of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be entered in respondents
deceitful conduct have no place in the legal profession.[15] record as a member of the Bar, and notice of the same be served on the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and on the Office of the Court
Disbarment is the most severe form of disciplinary sanction. We
Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.
are mindful that the power to disbar must always be exercised with
great caution, for only the most imperative reasons,[16] and in clear SO ORDERED.
cases of misconduct affecting the standing and moral character of the
lawyer as an officer of the court and as a member of the bar.[17]
This is not respondents first infraction as an officer of the court and
a member of the legal profession. He was stripped of his retirement
benefits and other privileges in Zarate v. Judge Romanillos.[18] In A.C.
No. 4783, he got off lightly with just an admonition. Considering his
previous infractions, respondent should have adhered to the tenets of
his profession with extra fervor and vigilance. He did not. On the
contrary, he manifested undue disrespect to our mandate and exhibited
a propensity to violate the laws. He is thus unfit to discharge the duties


Bar Matter No. 553 June 17, 1993 DON PARKINSON

MAURICIO C. ULEP, petitioner, an Attorney in Guam, is giving FREE BOOKS on Guam

vs. Divorce through The Legal Clinic beginning Monday to
THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC., respondent. Friday during office hours.

R E SO L U T I O N Guam divorce. Annulment of Marriage. Immigration

Problems, Visa Ext. Quota/Non-quota Res. & Special
Retiree's Visa. Declaration of Absence. Remarriage to
Filipina Fiancees. Adoption. Investment in the Phil.
REGALADO, J.: US/Foreign Visa for Filipina Spouse/Children. Call
Petitioner prays this Court "to order the respondent to cease and desist
from issuing advertisements similar to or of the same tenor as that of THE 7F Victoria Bldg. 429 UN Ave., LEGAL Ermita,
annexes "A" and "B" (of said petition) and to perpetually prohibit Manila nr. US Embassy CLINIC, INC. 1 Tel. 521-7232;
persons or entities from making advertisements pertaining to the 521-7251; 522-2041; 521-0767
exercise of the law profession other than those allowed by law."
It is the submission of petitioner that the advertisements above
The advertisements complained of by herein petitioner are as follows: reproduced are champterous, unethical, demeaning of the law
profession, and destructive of the confidence of the community in the
Annex A integrity of the members of the bar and that, as a member of the legal
profession, he is ashamed and offended by the said advertisements,
SECRET MARRIAGE? hence the reliefs sought in his petition as hereinbefore quoted.
P560.00 for a valid marriage.
Info on DIVORCE. ABSENCE. In its answer to the petition, respondent admits the fact of publication
ANNULMENT. VISA. of said advertisement at its instance, but claims that it is not engaged in
the practice of law but in the rendering of "legal support services"
THE Please call: 521-0767 LEGAL 5217232, 5222041 through paralegals with the use of modern computers and electronic
CLINIC, INC. 8:30 am 6:00 pm 7-Flr. Victoria Bldg., machines. Respondent further argues that assuming that the services
UN Ave., Mla. advertised are legal services, the act of advertising these services should
be allowed supposedly
in the light of the case of John R. Bates and Van O'Steen vs. State Bar without substantial distinction. For who could deny that
of Arizona, 2 reportedly decided by the United States Supreme Court on document search, evidence gathering, assistance to
June 7, 1977. layman in need of basic institutional services from
government or non-government agencies like birth,
Considering the critical implications on the legal profession of the marriage, property, or business registration, obtaining
issues raised herein, we required the (1) Integrated Bar of the documents like clearance, passports, local or foreign
Philippines (IBP), (2) Philippine Bar Association (PBA), (3) Philippine visas, constitutes practice of law?
Lawyers' Association (PLA), (4) U.P. Womens Lawyers' Circle
(WILOCI), (5) Women Lawyers Association of the Philippines xxx xxx xxx
(WLAP), and (6) Federacion International de Abogadas (FIDA) to
submit their respective position papers on the controversy and, The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) does not wish
thereafter, their memoranda. 3 The said bar associations readily to make issue with respondent's foreign citations. Suffice
responded and extended their valuable services and cooperation of it to state that the IBP has made its position manifest, to
which this Court takes note with appreciation and gratitude. wit, that it strongly opposes the view espoused by
respondent (to the effect that today it is alright to
The main issues posed for resolution before the Court are whether or advertise one's legal services).
not the services offered by respondent, The Legal Clinic, Inc., as
advertised by it constitutes practice of law and, in either case, whether The IBP accordingly declares in no uncertain terms its
the same can properly be the subject of the advertisements herein opposition to respondent's act of establishing a "legal
complained of. clinic" and of concomitantly advertising the same
through newspaper publications.
Before proceeding with an in-depth analysis of the merits of this case,
we deem it proper and enlightening to present hereunder excerpts from The IBP would therefore invoke the administrative
the respective position papers adopted by the aforementioned bar supervision of this Honorable Court to perpetually
associations and the memoranda submitted by them on the issues restrain respondent from undertaking highly unethical
involved in this bar matter. activities in the field of law practice as aforedescribed. 4

1. Integrated Bar of the Philippines: xxx xxx xxx

xxx xxx xxx A. The use of the name "The Legal Clinic, Inc." gives the
impression that respondent corporation is being operated
Notwithstanding the subtle manner by which respondent by lawyers and that it renders legal services.
endeavored to distinguish the two terms, i.e., "legal
support services" vis-a-vis "legal services", common While the respondent repeatedly denies that it offers legal
sense would readily dictate that the same are essentially services to the public, the advertisements in question give
the impression that respondent is offering legal services. B. The advertisements in question are meant to induce the
The Petition in fact simply assumes this to be so, as performance of acts contrary to law, morals, public order
earlier mentioned, apparently because this (is) the effect and public policy.
that the advertisements have on the reading public.
It may be conceded that, as the respondent claims, the
The impression created by the advertisements in question advertisements in question are only meant to inform the
can be traced, first of all, to the very name being used by general public of the services being offered by it. Said
respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." Such a name, it is advertisements, however, emphasize to Guam divorce,
respectfully submitted connotes the rendering of legal and any law student ought to know that under the Family
services for legal problems, just like a medical clinic Code, there is only one instance when a foreign divorce
connotes medical services for medical problems. More is recognized, and that is:
importantly, the term "Legal Clinic" connotes lawyers, as
the term medical clinic connotes doctors. Article 26. . . .

Furthermore, the respondent's name, as published in the Where a marriage between a Filipino
advertisements subject of the present case, appears with citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated
(the) scale(s) of justice, which all the more reinforces the and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained
impression that it is being operated by members of the abroad by the alien spouse capacitating
bar and that it offers legal services. In addition, the him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse
advertisements in question appear with a picture and shall have capacity to remarry under
name of a person being represented as a lawyer from Philippine Law.
Guam, and this practically removes whatever doubt may
still remain as to the nature of the service or services It must not be forgotten, too, that the Family Code
being offered. (defines) a marriage as follows:

It thus becomes irrelevant whether respondent is merely Article 1. Marriage is special contract of
offering "legal support services" as claimed by it, or permanent union between a man and
whether it offers legal services as any lawyer actively woman entered into accordance with law
engaged in law practice does. And it becomes for the establishment of conjugal and
unnecessary to make a distinction between "legal family life. It is the foundation of the family
services" and "legal support services," as the respondent and an inviolable social institution whose
would have it. The advertisements in question leave no nature, consequences, and incidents are
room for doubt in the minds of the reading public that governed by law and not subject to
legal services are being offered by lawyers, whether true stipulation, except that marriage
or not. settlements may fix the property relation
during the marriage within the limits one may gather from the advertisements in question are
provided by this Code. accurate. The Sharon Cuneta-Gabby Concepcion
example alone confirms what the advertisements suggest.
By simply reading the questioned advertisements, it is Here it can be seen that criminal acts are being
obvious that the message being conveyed is that Filipinos encouraged or committed
can avoid the legal consequences of a marriage celebrated (a bigamous marriage in Hong Kong or Las Vegas) with
in accordance with our law, by simply going to Guam for impunity simply because the jurisdiction of Philippine
a divorce. This is not only misleading, but encourages, or courts does not extend to the place where the crime is
serves to induce, violation of Philippine law. At the very committed.
least, this can be considered "the dark side" of legal
practice, where certain defects in Philippine laws are Even if it be assumed, arguendo, (that) the "legal support
exploited for the sake of profit. At worst, this is outright services" respondent offers do not constitute legal
malpractice. services as commonly understood, the advertisements in
question give the impression that respondent corporation
Rule 1.02. A lawyer shall not counsel or is being operated by lawyers and that it offers legal
abet activities aimed at defiance of the law services, as earlier discussed. Thus, the only logical
or at lessening confidence in the legal consequence is that, in the eyes of an ordinary newspaper
system. reader, members of the bar themselves are encouraging
or inducing the performance of acts which are contrary to
In addition, it may also be relevant to point out that law, morals, good customs and the public good, thereby
advertisements such as that shown in Annex "A" of the destroying and demeaning the integrity of the Bar.
Petition, which contains a cartoon of a motor vehicle with
the words "Just Married" on its bumper and seems to xxx xxx xxx
address those planning a "secret marriage," if not
suggesting a "secret marriage," makes light of the It is respectfully submitted that respondent should be
"special contract of permanent union," the inviolable enjoined from causing the publication of the
social institution," which is how the Family Code advertisements in question, or any other advertisements
describes marriage, obviously to emphasize its sanctity similar thereto. It is also submitted that respondent should
and inviolability. Worse, this particular advertisement be prohibited from further performing or offering some
appears to encourage marriages celebrated in secrecy, of the services it presently offers, or, at the very least,
which is suggestive of immoral publication of from offering such services to the public in general.
applications for a marriage license.
The IBP is aware of the fact that providing computerized
If the article "Rx for Legal Problems" is to be reviewed, legal research, electronic data gathering, storage and
it can readily be concluded that the above impressions retrieval, standardized legal forms, investigators for
gathering of evidence, and like services will greatly require further proceedings because of the factual
benefit the legal profession and should not be stifled but considerations involved.
instead encouraged. However, when the conduct of such
business by non-members of the Bar encroaches upon the It must be emphasized, however, that some of
practice of law, there can be no choice but to prohibit respondent's services ought to be prohibited outright,
such business. such as acts which tend to suggest or induce celebration
abroad of marriages which are bigamous or otherwise
Admittedly, many of the services involved in the case at illegal and void under Philippine law. While respondent
bar can be better performed by specialists in other fields, may not be prohibited from simply disseminating
such as computer experts, who by reason of their having information regarding such matters, it must be required
devoted time and effort exclusively to such field cannot to include, in the information given, a disclaimer that it is
fulfill the exacting requirements for admission to the Bar. not authorized to practice law, that certain course of
To prohibit them from "encroaching" upon the legal action may be illegal under Philippine law, that it is not
profession will deny the profession of the great benefits authorized or capable of rendering a legal opinion, that a
and advantages of modern technology. Indeed, a lawyer lawyer should be consulted before deciding on which
using a computer will be doing better than a lawyer using course of action to take, and that it cannot recommend
a typewriter, even if both are (equal) in skill. any particular lawyer without subjecting itself to possible
sanctions for illegal practice of law.
Both the Bench and the Bar, however, should be careful
not to allow or tolerate the illegal practice of law in any If respondent is allowed to advertise, advertising should
form, not only for the protection of members of the Bar be directed exclusively at members of the Bar, with a
but also, and more importantly, for the protection of the clear and unmistakable disclaimer that it is not authorized
public. Technological development in the profession may to practice law or perform legal services.
be encouraged without tolerating, but instead ensuring
prevention of illegal practice. The benefits of being assisted by paralegals cannot be
ignored. But nobody should be allowed to represent
There might be nothing objectionable if respondent is himself as a "paralegal" for profit, without such term
allowed to perform all of its services, but only if such being clearly defined by rule or regulation, and without
services are made available exclusively to members of any adequate and effective means of regulating his
the Bench and Bar. Respondent would then be offering activities. Also, law practice in a corporate form may
technical assistance, not legal services. Alternatively, the prove to be advantageous to the legal profession, but
more difficult task of carefully distinguishing between before allowance of such practice may be considered, the
which service may be offered to the public in general and corporation's Article of Incorporation and By-laws must
which should be made available exclusively to members conform to each and every provision of the Code of
of the Bar may be undertaken. This, however, may Professional Responsibility and the Rules of Court. 5
2. Philippine Bar Association: the public cannot ventilate any grievance
for malpractice against the business conduit. Precisely,
xxx xxx xxx. the limitation of practice of law to persons who have been
duly admitted as members of the Bar (Sec. 1, Rule 138,
Respondent asserts that it "is not engaged in the practice Revised Rules of Court) is to subject the members to
of law but engaged in giving legal support services to the discipline of the Supreme Court. Although
lawyers and laymen, through experienced paralegals, respondent uses its business name, the persons and the
with the use of modern computers and electronic lawyers who act for it are subject to court discipline. The
machines" (pars. 2 and 3, Comment). This is absurd. practice of law is not a profession open to all who wish
Unquestionably, respondent's acts of holding out itself to to engage in it nor can it be assigned to another (See 5
the public under the trade name "The Legal Clinic, Inc.," Am. Jur. 270). It is a personal right limited to persons
and soliciting employment for its enumerated services who have qualified themselves under the law. It follows
fall within the realm of a practice which thus yields itself that not only respondent but also all the persons who are
to the regulatory powers of the Supreme Court. For acting for respondent are the persons engaged in
respondent to say that it is merely engaged in paralegal unethical law practice. 6
work is to stretch credulity. Respondent's own
commercial advertisement which announces a 3. Philippine Lawyers' Association:
certain Atty. Don Parkinson to be handling the fields of
law belies its pretense. From all indications, respondent The Philippine Lawyers' Association's position, in
"The Legal Clinic, Inc." is offering and rendering legal answer to the issues stated herein, are wit:
services through its reserve of lawyers. It has been held
that the practice of law is not limited to the conduct of 1. The Legal Clinic is engaged in the practice of law;
cases in court, but includes drawing of deeds,
incorporation, rendering opinions, and advising clients 2. Such practice is unauthorized;
as to their legal right and then take them to an attorney
and ask the latter to look after their case in court See 3. The advertisements complained of are not only
Martin, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 1984 ed., p. 39). unethical, but also misleading and patently immoral; and

It is apt to recall that only natural persons can engage in 4. The Honorable Supreme Court has the power to
the practice of law, and such limitation cannot be evaded supress and punish the Legal Clinic and its corporate
by a corporation employing competent lawyers to officers for its unauthorized practice of law and for its
practice for it. Obviously, this is the scheme or device by unethical, misleading and immoral advertising.
which respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." holds out itself
to the public and solicits employment of its legal services. xxx xxx xxx
It is an odious vehicle for deception, especially so when
Respondent posits that is it not engaged in the practice of At present, becoming a lawyer requires one to take a
law. It claims that it merely renders "legal support rigorous four-year course of study on top of a four-year
services" to answers, litigants and the general public as bachelor of arts or sciences course and then to take and
enunciated in the Primary Purpose Clause of its Article(s) pass the bar examinations. Only then, is a lawyer
of Incorporation. (See pages 2 to 5 of Respondent's qualified to practice law.
Comment). But its advertised services, as enumerated
above, clearly and convincingly show that it is indeed While the use of a paralegal is sanctioned in many
engaged in law practice, albeit outside of court. jurisdiction as an aid to the administration of justice, there
are in those jurisdictions, courses of study and/or
As advertised, it offers the general public its advisory standards which would qualify these paralegals to deal
services on Persons and Family Relations Law, with the general public as such. While it may now be the
particularly regarding foreign divorces, annulment of opportune time to establish these courses of study and/or
marriages, secret marriages, absence and adoption; standards, the fact remains that at present, these do not
Immigration Laws, particularly on visa related problems, exist in the Philippines. In the meantime, this Honorable
immigration problems; the Investments Law of the Court may decide to make measures to protect the general
Philippines and such other related laws. public from being exploited by those who may be dealing
with the general public in the guise of being "paralegals"
Its advertised services unmistakably require the without being qualified to do so.
application of the aforesaid law, the legal principles and
procedures related thereto, the legal advices based In the same manner, the general public should also be
thereon and which activities call for legal training, protected from the dangers which may be brought about
knowledge and experience. by advertising of legal services. While it appears that
lawyers are prohibited under the present Code of
Applying the test laid down by the Court in the aforecited Professional Responsibility from advertising, it appears
Agrava Case, the activities of respondent fall squarely in the instant case that legal services are being advertised
and are embraced in what lawyers and laymen equally not by lawyers but by an entity staffed by "paralegals."
term as "the practice of law." 7 Clearly, measures should be taken to protect the general
public from falling prey to those who advertise legal
4. U.P. Women Lawyers' Circle: services without being qualified to offer such services. 8

In resolving, the issues before this Honorable Court, A perusal of the questioned advertisements of
paramount consideration should be given to the Respondent, however, seems to give the impression that
protection of the general public from the danger of being information regarding validity of marriages, divorce,
exploited by unqualified persons or entities who may be annulment of marriage, immigration, visa extensions,
engaged in the practice of law. declaration of absence, adoption and foreign investment,
which are in essence, legal matters , will be given to them an agency for said purpose of contracting marriage is not
if they avail of its services. The Respondent's name necessary.
The Legal Clinic, Inc. does not help matters. It gives
the impression again that Respondent will or can cure the No amount of reasoning that in the USA, Canada and
legal problems brought to them. Assuming that other countries the trend is towards allowing lawyers to
Respondent is, as claimed, staffed purely by paralegals, advertise their special skills to enable people to obtain
it also gives the misleading impression that there are from qualified practitioners legal services for their
lawyers involved in The Legal Clinic, Inc., as there are particular needs can justify the use of advertisements
doctors in any medical clinic, when only "paralegals" are such as are the subject matter of the petition, for one
involved in The Legal Clinic, Inc. (cannot) justify an illegal act even by whatever merit the
illegal act may serve. The law has yet to be amended so
Respondent's allegations are further belied by the very that such act could become justifiable.
admissions of its President and majority stockholder,
Atty. Nogales, who gave an insight on the structure and We submit further that these advertisements that seem to
main purpose of Respondent corporation in the project that secret marriages and divorce are possible in
aforementioned "Starweek" article." 9 this country for a fee, when in fact it is not so, are highly
5. Women Lawyer's Association of the Philippines:
It would encourage people to consult this clinic about
Annexes "A" and "B" of the petition are clearly how they could go about having a secret marriage here,
advertisements to solicit cases for the purpose of gain when it cannot nor should ever be attempted, and seek
which, as provided for under the above cited law, (are) advice on divorce, where in this country there is none,
illegal and against the Code of Professional except under the Code of Muslim Personal Laws in the
Responsibility of lawyers in this country. Philippines. It is also against good morals and is deceitful
because it falsely represents to the public to be able to do
Annex "A" of the petition is not only illegal in that it is that which by our laws cannot be done (and) by our Code
an advertisement to solicit cases, but it is illegal in that in of Morals should not be done.
bold letters it announces that the Legal Clinic, Inc., could
work out/cause the celebration of a secret marriage which In the case (of) In re Taguda, 53 Phil. 37, the Supreme
is not only illegal but immoral in this country. While it is Court held that solicitation for clients by an attorney by
advertised that one has to go to said agency and pay P560 circulars of advertisements, is unprofessional, and
for a valid marriage it is certainly fooling the public for offenses of this character justify permanent elimination
valid marriages in the Philippines are solemnized only by from the Bar. 10
officers authorized to do so under the law. And to employ
6. Federacion Internacional de Abogados:
xxx xxx xxx architect, who must be familiar with
zoning, building and fire prevention codes,
1.7 That entities admittedly not engaged in the practice factory and tenement house statutes, and
of law, such as management consultancy firms or travel who draws plans and specification in
agencies, whether run by lawyers or not, perform the harmony with the law. This is not
services rendered by Respondent does not necessarily practicing law.
lead to the conclusion that Respondent is not unlawfully
practicing law. In the same vein, however, the fact that But suppose the architect, asked by his
the business of respondent (assuming it can be engaged client to omit a fire tower, replies that it is
in independently of the practice of law) involves required by the statute. Or the industrial
knowledge of the law does not necessarily make relations expert cites, in support of some
respondent guilty of unlawful practice of law. measure that he recommends, a decision of
the National Labor Relations Board. Are
. . . . Of necessity, no one . . . . acting as a they practicing law? In my opinion, they
consultant can render effective service are not, provided no separate fee is charged
unless he is familiar with such statutes and for the legal advice or information, and the
regulations. He must be careful not to legal question is subordinate and incidental
suggest a course of conduct which the law to a major non-legal problem.
forbids. It seems . . . .clear that (the
consultant's) knowledge of the law, and his It is largely a matter of degree and of
use of that knowledge as a factor in custom.
determining what measures he shall
recommend, do not constitute the practice If it were usual for one intending to erect a
of law . . . . It is not only presumed that all building on his land to engage a lawyer to
men know the law, but it is a fact that most advise him and the architect in respect to
men have considerable acquaintance with the building code and the like, then an
broad features of the law . . . . Our architect who performed this function
knowledge of the law accurate or would probably be considered to be
inaccurate moulds our conduct not only trespassing on territory reserved for
when we are acting for ourselves, but when licensed attorneys. Likewise, if the
we are serving others. Bankers, liquor industrial relations field had been pre-
dealers and laymen generally possess empted by lawyers, or custom placed a
rather precise knowledge of the laws lawyer always at the elbow of the lay
touching their particular business or personnel man. But this is not the case. The
profession. A good example is the most important body of the industrial
relations experts are the officers and path charted by law. This, of course, would
business agents of the labor unions and few be the practice of the law. But such is not
of them are lawyers. Among the larger the fact in the case before me. Defendant's
corporate employers, it has been the primarily efforts are along economic and
practice for some years to delegate special psychological lines. The law only provides
responsibility in employee matters to a the frame within which he must work, just
management group chosen for their as the zoning code limits the kind of
practical knowledge and skill in such building the limits the kind of building the
matter, and without regard to legal thinking architect may plan. The incidental legal
or lack of it. More recently, consultants like advice or information defendant may give,
the defendants have the same service that does not transform his activities into the
the larger employers get from their own practice of law. Let me add that if, even as
specialized staff. a minor feature of his work, he performed
services which are customarily reserved to
The handling of industrial relations is members of the bar, he would be practicing
growing into a recognized profession for law. For instance, if as part of a welfare
which appropriate courses are offered by program, he drew employees' wills.
our leading universities. The court should
be very cautious about declaring [that] a Another branch of defendant's work is the
widespread, well-established method of representations of the employer in the
conducting business is unlawful, or that the adjustment of grievances and in collective
considerable class of men who customarily bargaining, with or without a mediator.
perform a certain function have no right to This is not per se the practice of law.
do so, or that the technical education given Anyone may use an agent for negotiations
by our schools cannot be used by the and may select an agent particularly skilled
graduates in their business. in the subject under discussion, and the
person appointed is free to accept the
In determining whether a man is practicing employment whether or not he is a member
law, we should consider his work for any of the bar. Here, however, there may be an
particular client or customer, as a whole. I exception where the business turns on a
can imagine defendant being engaged question of law. Most real estate sales are
primarily to advise as to the law defining negotiated by brokers who are not lawyers.
his client's obligations to his employees, to But if the value of the land depends on a
guide his client's obligations to his disputed right-of-way and the principal role
employees, to guide his client along the of the negotiator is to assess the probable
outcome of the dispute and persuade the in Statsky, Introduction to Paralegalism
opposite party to the same opinion, then it [1974], at pp. 154-156.).
may be that only a lawyer can accept the
assignment. Or if a controversy between an 1.8 From the foregoing, it can be said that a person
employer and his men grows from differing engaged in a lawful calling (which may involve
interpretations of a contract, or of a statute, knowledge of the law) is not engaged in the practice of
it is quite likely that defendant should not law provided that:
handle it. But I need not reach a definite
conclusion here, since the situation is not (a) The legal question is subordinate and incidental to a
presented by the proofs. major non-legal problem;.

Defendant also appears to represent the (b) The services performed are not customarily reserved
employer before administrative agencies of to members of the bar; .
the federal government, especially before
trial examiners of the National Labor (c) No separate fee is charged for the legal advice or
Relations Board. An agency of the federal information.
government, acting by virtue of an
authority granted by the Congress, may All these must be considered in relation to the work for
regulate the representation of parties before any particular client as a whole.
such agency. The State of New Jersey is
without power to interfere with such 1.9. If the person involved is both lawyer and non-lawyer,
determination or to forbid representation the Code of Professional Responsibility succintly states
before the agency by one whom the agency the rule of conduct:
admits. The rules of the National Labor
Relations Board give to a party the right to Rule 15.08 A lawyer who is engaged in another
appear in person, or by counsel, or by other profession or occupation concurrently with the practice
representative. Rules and Regulations, of law shall make clear to his client whether he is acting
September 11th, 1946, S. 203.31. 'Counsel' as a lawyer or in another capacity.
here means a licensed attorney, and ther
1.10. In the present case. the Legal Clinic appears to
representative' one not a lawyer. In this
render wedding services (See Annex "A" Petition).
phase of his work, defendant may lawfully
Services on routine, straightforward marriages, like
do whatever the Labor Board allows, even
securing a marriage license, and making arrangements
arguing questions purely legal.
with a priest or a judge, may not constitute practice of
(Auerbacher v. Wood, 53 A. 2d 800, cited
law. However, if the problem is as complicated as that
described in "Rx for Legal Problems" on the Sharon texts. Dacey's book is sold to the public at
Cuneta-Gabby Concepcion-Richard Gomez case, then large. There is no personal contact or
what may be involved is actually the practice of law. If a relationship with a particular individual.
non-lawyer, such as the Legal Clinic, renders such Nor does there exist that relation of
services then it is engaged in the unauthorized practice of confidence and trust so necessary to the
law. status of attorney and client. THIS IS THE
1.11. The Legal Clinic also appears to give information THE REPRESENTATION AND
on divorce, absence, annulment of marriage and visas ADVISING OF A PARTICULAR PERSON
(See Annexes "A" and "B" Petition). Purely giving IN A PARTICULAR SITUATION. At most
informational materials may not constitute of law. The the book assumes to offer general advice on
business is similar to that of a bookstore where the common problems, and does not purport to
customer buys materials on the subject and determines on give personal advice on a specific problem
the subject and determines by himself what courses of peculiar to a designated or readily
action to take. identified person. Similarly the defendant's
publication does not purport to give
It is not entirely improbable, however, that aside from personal advice on a specific problem
purely giving information, the Legal Clinic's paralegals peculiar to a designated or readily
may apply the law to the particular problem of the client, identified person in a particular situation
and give legal advice. Such would constitute in their publication and sale of the kits,
unauthorized practice of law. such publication and sale did not
constitutes the unlawful practice of law . . .
It cannot be claimed that the publication of . There being no legal impediment under
a legal text which publication of a legal text the statute to the sale of the kit, there was
which purports to say what the law is no proper basis for the injunction against
amount to legal practice. And the mere fact defendant maintaining an office for the
that the principles or rules stated in the text purpose of selling to persons seeking a
may be accepted by a particular reader as a divorce, separation, annulment or
solution to his problem does not affect this. separation agreement any printed material
. . . . Apparently it is urged that the or writings relating to matrimonial law or
conjoining of these two, that is, the text and the prohibition in the memorandum of
the forms, with advice as to how the forms modification of the judgment against
should be filled out, constitutes the defendant having an interest in any
unlawful practice of law. But that is the publishing house publishing his manuscript
situation with many approved and accepted on divorce and against his having any
personal contact with any prospective formalities and other requisites of marriages (See Articles
purchaser. The record does fully support, 2, et seq., Family Code), no Philippine marriage can be
however, the finding that for the change of secret.
$75 or $100 for the kit, the defendant gave
legal advice in the course of personal 2.11. Annex "B" may likewise be ethically objectionable.
contacts concerning particular problems The second paragraph thereof (which is not necessarily
which might arise in the preparation and related to the first paragraph) fails to state the limitation
presentation of the purchaser's asserted that only "paralegal services?" or "legal support
matrimonial cause of action or pursuit of services", and not legal services, are available." 11
other legal remedies and assistance in the
preparation of necessary documents (The A prefatory discussion on the meaning of the phrase "practice of law"
injunction therefore sought to) enjoin becomes exigent for the proper determination of the issues raised by
conduct constituting the practice of law, the petition at bar. On this score, we note that the clause "practice of
particularly with reference to the giving of law" has long been the subject of judicial construction and
advice and counsel by the defendant interpretation. The courts have laid down general principles and
relating to specific problems of particular doctrines explaining the meaning and scope of the term, some of which
individuals in connection with a divorce, we now take into account.
separation, annulment of separation
agreement sought and should be affirmed. Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires
(State v. Winder, 348, NYS 2D 270 [1973], the application of law, legal procedures, knowledge, training and
cited in Statsky, supra at p. 101.). experience. To engage in the practice of law is to perform those acts
which are characteristic of the profession. Generally, to practice law is
1.12. Respondent, of course, states that its services are to give advice or render any kind of service that involves legal
"strictly non-diagnostic, non-advisory. "It is not knowledge or skill. 12
controverted, however, that if the services "involve
giving legal advice or counselling," such would The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. It
constitute practice of law (Comment, par. 6.2). It is in this includes legal advice and counsel, and the preparation of legal
light that FIDA submits that a factual inquiry may be instruments and contract by which legal rights are secured, although
necessary for the judicious disposition of this case. such matter may or may not be pending in a court. 13

xxx xxx xxx In the practice of his profession, a licensed attorney at law generally
engages in three principal types of professional activity: legal advice
2.10. Annex "A" may be ethically objectionable in that it and instructions to clients to inform them of their rights and obligations,
can give the impression (or perpetuate the wrong notion) preparation for clients of documents requiring knowledge of legal
that there is a secret marriage. With all the solemnities, principles not possessed by ordinary layman, and appearance for clients
before public tribunals which possess power and authority to determine . . . . for valuable consideration engages in the business
rights of life, liberty, and property according to law, in order to assist of advising person, firms, associations or corporations as
in proper interpretation and enforcement of law. 14 to their right under the law, or appears in a representative
capacity as an advocate in proceedings, pending or
When a person participates in the a trial and advertises himself as a prospective, before any court, commissioner, referee,
lawyer, he is in the practice of law. 15 One who confers with clients, board, body, committee, or commission constituted by
advises them as to their legal rights and then takes the business to an law or authorized to settle controversies and there, in such
attorney and asks the latter to look after the case in court, is also representative capacity, performs any act or acts for the
practicing law. 16 Giving advice for compensation regarding the legal purpose of obtaining or defending the rights of their
status and rights of another and the conduct with respect thereto clients under the law. Otherwise stated, one who, in a
constitutes a practice of law. 17 One who renders an opinion as to the representative capacity, engages in the business of
proper interpretation of a statute, and receives pay for it, is, to that advising clients as to their rights under the law, or while
extent, practicing law. 18 so engaged performs any act or acts either in court or
outside of court for that purpose, is engaged in the
In the recent case of Cayetano vs. Monsod, 19 after citing the doctrines practice of law. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v. C.S. Dudley
in several cases, we laid down the test to determine whether certain acts and Co., 102 S. W. 2d 895, 340 Mo. 852).
constitute "practice of law," thus:
This Court, in the case of Philippines Lawyers Association
Black defines "practice of law" as: v. Agrava (105 Phil. 173, 176-177),stated:

The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases
application of legal principles and technique to serve the or litigation in court; it embraces the preparation of
interest of another with his consent. It is not limited to pleadings and other papers incident to actions and special
appearing in court, or advising and assisting in the proceedings, the management of such actions and
conduct of litigation, but embraces the preparation of proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts,
pleadings, and other papers incident to actions and and in addition, conveying. In general, all advice to
special proceedings, conveyancing, the preparation of clients, and all action taken for them in matters connected
legal instruments of all kinds, and the giving of all legal with the law incorporation services, assessment and
advice to clients. It embraces all advice to clients and all condemnation services contemplating an appearance
actions taken for them in matters connected with the law. before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a mortgage,
enforcement of a creditor's claim in bankruptcy and
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases on court.(Land insolvency proceedings, and conducting proceedings in
Title Abstract and Trust Co. v. Dworken , 129 Ohio St. 23, 193N. E. attachment, and in matters or estate and guardianship
650). A person is also considered to be in the practice of law when he: have been held to constitute law practice, as do the
preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the
work done involves the determination by the trained legal The practice of law, therefore, covers a wide range of activities in and
mind of the legal effect of facts and conditions. (5 Am. out of court. Applying the aforementioned criteria to the case at bar, we
Jr. p. 262, 263). agree with the perceptive findings and observations of the aforestated
bar associations that the activities of respondent, as advertised,
Practice of law under modern conditions consists in no constitute "practice of law."
small part of work performed outside of any court and
having no immediate relation to proceedings in court. It The contention of respondent that it merely offers legal support services
embraces conveyancing, the giving of legal advice on a can neither be seriously considered nor sustained. Said proposition is
large variety of subjects and the preparation and belied by respondent's own description of the services it has been
execution of legal instruments covering an extensive field offering, to wit:
of business and trust relations and other affairs. Although
these transactions may have no direct connection with Legal support services basically consists of giving ready
court proceedings, they are always subject to become information by trained paralegals to laymen and lawyers,
involved in litigation. They require in many aspects a which are strictly non-diagnostic, non-advisory, through
high degree of legal skill, a wide experience with men the extensive use of computers and modern information
and affairs, and great capacity for adaptation to difficult technology in the gathering, processing, storage,
and complex situations. These customary functions of an transmission and reproduction of information and
attorney or counselor at law bear an intimate relation to communication, such as computerized legal research;
the administration of justice by the courts. No valid encoding and reproduction of documents and pleadings
distinction, so far as concerns the question set forth in the prepared by laymen or lawyers; document search;
order, can be drawn between that part of the work of the evidence gathering; locating parties or witnesses to a
lawyer which involves appearance in court and that part case; fact finding investigations; and assistance to laymen
which involves advice and drafting of instruments in his in need of basic institutional services from government or
office. It is of importance to the welfare of the public that non-government agencies, like birth, marriage, property,
these manifold customary functions be performed by or business registrations; educational or employment
persons possessed of adequate learning and skill, of records or certifications, obtaining documentation like
sound moral character, and acting at all times under the clearances, passports, local or foreign visas; giving
heavy trust obligations to clients which rests upon all information about laws of other countries that they may
attorneys. (Moran, Comments on the Rules o Court, Vol. find useful, like foreign divorce, marriage or adoption
3 [1973 ed.], pp. 665-666, citing In Re Opinion of the laws that they can avail of preparatory to emigration to
Justices [Mass], 194 N. E. 313, quoted in Rhode Is. Bar the foreign country, and other matters that do not involve
Assoc. v. Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.] 197 A. 139, representation of clients in court; designing and installing
144). computer systems, programs, or software for the efficient
management of law offices, corporate legal departments,
courts and other entities engaged in dispensing or This is the kind of business that is transacted everyday at
administering legal services. 20 The Legal Clinic, with offices on the seventh floor of the
Victoria Building along U. N. Avenue in Manila. No
While some of the services being offered by respondent corporation matter what the client's problem, and even if it is as
merely involve mechanical and technical knowhow, such as the complicated as the Cuneta-Concepcion domestic
installation of computer systems and programs for the efficient situation, Atty. Nogales and his staff of lawyers, who,
management of law offices, or the computerization of research aids and like doctors are "specialists" in various fields can take
materials, these will not suffice to justify an exception to the general care of it. The Legal Clinic, Inc. has specialists in taxation
rule. and criminal law, medico-legal problems, labor,
litigation, and family law. These specialist are backed up
What is palpably clear is that respondent corporation gives out legal by a battery of paralegals, counsellors and attorneys.
information to laymen and lawyers. Its contention that such function is
non-advisory and non-diagnostic is more apparent than real. In Atty. Nogales set up The Legal Clinic in 1984. Inspired
providing information, for example, about foreign laws on marriage, by the trend in the medical field toward specialization, it
divorce and adoption, it strains the credulity of this Court that all the caters to clients who cannot afford the services of the big
respondent corporation will simply do is look for the law, furnish a law firms.
copy thereof to the client, and stop there as if it were merely a
bookstore. With its attorneys and so called paralegals, it will The Legal Clinic has regular and walk-in clients. "when
necessarily have to explain to the client the intricacies of the law and they come, we start by analyzing the problem. That's
advise him or her on the proper course of action to be taken as may be what doctors do also. They ask you how you contracted
provided for by said law. That is what its advertisements represent and what's bothering you, they take your temperature, they
for the which services it will consequently charge and be paid. That observe you for the symptoms and so on. That's how we
activity falls squarely within the jurisprudential definition of "practice operate, too. And once the problem has been categorized,
of law." Such a conclusion will not be altered by the fact that then it's referred to one of our specialists.
respondent corporation does not represent clients in court since law
practice, as the weight of authority holds, is not limited merely giving There are cases which do not, in medical terms, require
legal advice, contract drafting and so forth. surgery or follow-up treatment. These The Legal Clinic
disposes of in a matter of minutes. "Things like preparing
The aforesaid conclusion is further strengthened by an article published a simple deed of sale or an affidavit of loss can be taken
in the January 13, 1991 issue of the Starweek/The Sunday Magazine of care of by our staff or, if this were a hospital the residents
the Philippines Star, entitled "Rx for Legal Problems," where an insight or the interns. We can take care of these matters on a
into the structure, main purpose and operations of respondent while you wait basis. Again, kung baga sa hospital, out-
corporation was given by its own "proprietor," Atty. Rogelio P. patient, hindi kailangang ma-confine. It's just like a
Nogales: common cold or diarrhea," explains Atty. Nogales.
Those cases which requires more extensive "treatment" of the Rules of Court, and who is in good and regular standing, is
are dealt with accordingly. "If you had a rich relative who entitled to practice law. 23
died and named you her sole heir, and you stand to inherit
millions of pesos of property, we would refer you to a Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to those
specialist in taxation. There would be real estate taxes and individuals found duly qualified in education and character. The
arrears which would need to be put in order, and your permissive right conferred on the lawyers is an individual and limited
relative is even taxed by the state for the right to transfer privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to maintain proper standards
her property, and only a specialist in taxation would be of moral and professional conduct. The purpose is to protect the public,
properly trained to deal with the problem. Now, if there the court, the client and the bar from the incompetence or dishonesty of
were other heirs contesting your rich relatives will, then those unlicensed to practice law and not subject to the disciplinary
you would need a litigator, who knows how to arrange control of the court. 24
the problem for presentation in court, and gather evidence
to support the case. 21 The same rule is observed in the american jurisdiction wherefrom
respondent would wish to draw support for his thesis. The doctrines
That fact that the corporation employs paralegals to carry out its there also stress that the practice of law is limited to those who meet
services is not controlling. What is important is that it is engaged in the the requirements for, and have been admitted to, the bar, and various
practice of law by virtue of the nature of the services it renders which statutes or rules specifically so provide. 25 The practice of law is not a
thereby brings it within the ambit of the statutory prohibitions against lawful business except for members of the bar who have complied with
the advertisements which it has caused to be published and are now all the conditions required by statute and the rules of court. Only those
assailed in this proceeding. persons are allowed to practice law who, by reason of attainments
previously acquired through education and study, have been recognized
Further, as correctly and appropriately pointed out by the U.P. by the courts as possessing profound knowledge of legal science
WILOCI, said reported facts sufficiently establish that the main entitling them to advise, counsel with, protect, or defend the rights
purpose of respondent is to serve as a one-stop-shop of sorts for various claims, or liabilities of their clients, with respect to the construction,
legal problems wherein a client may avail of legal services from simple interpretation, operation and effect of law. 26 The justification for
documentation to complex litigation and corporate undertakings. Most excluding from the practice of law those not admitted to the bar is
of these services are undoubtedly beyond the domain of paralegals, but found, not in the protection of the bar from competition, but in the
rather, are exclusive functions of lawyers engaged in the practice of protection of the public from being advised and represented in legal
law. 22 matters by incompetent and unreliable persons over whom the judicial
department can exercise little control. 27
It should be noted that in our jurisdiction the services being offered by
private respondent which constitute practice of law cannot be We have to necessarily and definitely reject respondent's position that
performed by paralegals. Only a person duly admitted as a member of the concept in the United States of paralegals as an occupation separate
the bar, or hereafter admitted as such in accordance with the provisions from the law profession be adopted in this jurisdiction. Whatever may
be its merits, respondent cannot but be aware that this should first be a
matter for judicial rules or legislative action, and not of unilateral objective information or statement of facts. 33 He is not supposed to use
adoption as it has done. or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive,
undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his
Paralegals in the United States are trained professionals. As admitted qualifications or legal services. 34 Nor shall he pay or give something
by respondent, there are schools and universities there which offer of value to representatives of the mass media in anticipation of, or in
studies and degrees in paralegal education, while there are none in the return for, publicity to attract legal business. 35 Prior to the adoption of
Philippines. 28 As the concept of the "paralegals" or "legal assistant" the code of Professional Responsibility, the Canons of Professional
evolved in the United States, standards and guidelines also evolved to Ethics had also warned that lawyers should not resort to indirect
protect the general public. One of the major standards or guidelines was advertisements for professional employment, such as furnishing or
developed by the American Bar Association which set up Guidelines inspiring newspaper comments, or procuring his photograph to be
for the Approval of Legal Assistant Education Programs (1973). published in connection with causes in which the lawyer has been or is
Legislation has even been proposed to certify legal assistants. There are engaged or concerning the manner of their conduct, the magnitude of
also associations of paralegals in the United States with their own code the interest involved, the importance of the lawyer's position, and all
of professional ethics, such as the National Association of Legal other like self-laudation. 36
Assistants, Inc. and the American Paralegal Association. 29
The standards of the legal profession condemn the lawyer's
In the Philippines, we still have a restricted concept and limited advertisement of his talents. A lawyer cannot, without violating the
acceptance of what may be considered as paralegal service. As pointed ethics of his profession. advertise his talents or skill as in a manner
out by FIDA, some persons not duly licensed to practice law are or have similar to a merchant advertising his goods. 37 The prescription against
been allowed limited representation in behalf of another or to render advertising of legal services or solicitation of legal business rests on the
legal services, but such allowable services are limited in scope and fundamental postulate that the that the practice of law is a profession.
extent by the law, rules or regulations granting permission therefor. 30 Thus, in the case of The Director of Religious Affairs. vs. Estanislao R.
Bayot 38 an advertisement, similar to those of respondent which are
Accordingly, we have adopted the American judicial policy that, in the involved in the present proceeding, 39 was held to constitute improper
absence of constitutional or statutory authority, a person who has not advertising or solicitation.
been admitted as an attorney cannot practice law for the proper
administration of justice cannot be hindered by the unwarranted The pertinent part of the decision therein reads:
intrusion of an unauthorized and unskilled person into the practice of
law. 31 That policy should continue to be one of encouraging persons It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a
who are unsure of their legal rights and remedies to seek legal flagrant violation by the respondent of the ethics of his
assistance only from persons licensed to practice law in the state. 32 profession, it being a brazen solicitation of business from
the public. Section 25 of Rule 127 expressly provides
Anent the issue on the validity of the questioned advertisements, the among other things that "the practice of soliciting cases
Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer in making at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or thru
known his legal services shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified and paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." It is
highly unethical for an attorney to advertise his talents or be misleading and may include only a statement of the lawyer's name
skill as a merchant advertises his wares. Law is a and the names of his professional associates; addresses, telephone
profession and not a trade. The lawyer degrades himself numbers, cable addresses; branches of law practiced; date and place of
and his profession who stoops to and adopts the practices birth and admission to the bar; schools attended with dates of
of mercantilism by advertising his services or offering graduation, degrees and other educational distinction; public or quasi-
them to the public. As a member of the bar, he defiles the public offices; posts of honor; legal authorships; legal teaching
temple of justice with mercenary activities as the money- positions; membership and offices in bar associations and committees
changers of old defiled the temple of Jehovah. "The most thereof, in legal and scientific societies and legal fraternities; the fact
worthy and effective advertisement possible, even for a of listings in other reputable law lists; the names and addresses of
young lawyer, . . . . is the establishment of a well-merited references; and, with their written consent, the names of clients
reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. regularly represented." 42
This cannot be forced but must be the outcome of
character and conduct." (Canon 27, Code of Ethics.). The law list must be a reputable law list published primarily for that
purpose; it cannot be a mere supplemental feature of a paper, magazine,
We repeat, the canon of the profession tell us that the best advertising trade journal or periodical which is published principally for other
possible for a lawyer is a well-merited reputation for professional purposes. For that reason, a lawyer may not properly publish his brief
capacity and fidelity to trust, which must be earned as the outcome of biographical and informative data in a daily paper, magazine, trade
character and conduct. Good and efficient service to a client as well as journal or society program. Nor may a lawyer permit his name to be
to the community has a way of publicizing itself and catching public published in a law list the conduct, management or contents of which
attention. That publicity is a normal by-product of effective service are calculated or likely to deceive or injure the public or the bar, or to
which is right and proper. A good and reputable lawyer needs no lower the dignity or standing of the profession. 43
artificial stimulus to generate it and to magnify his success. He easily
sees the difference between a normal by-product of able service and the The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also permitted. The
unwholesome result of propaganda. 40 card may contain only a statement of his name, the name of the law
firm which he is connected with, address, telephone number and special
Of course, not all types of advertising or solicitation are prohibited. The branch of law practiced. The publication of a simple announcement of
canons of the profession enumerate exceptions to the rule against the opening of a law firm or of changes in the partnership, associates,
advertising or solicitation and define the extent to which they may be firm name or office address, being for the convenience of the
undertaken. The exceptions are of two broad categories, namely, those profession, is not objectionable. He may likewise have his name listed
which are expressly allowed and those which are necessarily implied in a telephone directory but not under a designation of special branch
from the restrictions. 41 of law. 44

The first of such exceptions is the publication in reputable law lists, in Verily, taking into consideration the nature and contents of the
a manner consistent with the standards of conduct imposed by the advertisements for which respondent is being taken to task, which even
canons, of brief biographical and informative data. "Such data must not includes a quotation of the fees charged by said respondent corporation
for services rendered, we find and so hold that the same definitely do kind used by respondent would only serve to aggravate what is already
not and conclusively cannot fall under any of the above-mentioned a deteriorating public opinion of the legal profession whose integrity
exceptions. has consistently been under attack lately by media and the community
in general. At this point in time, it is of utmost importance in the face
The ruling in the case of Bates, et al. vs. State Bar of Arizona, 45 which of such negative, even if unfair, criticisms at times, to adopt and
is repeatedly invoked and constitutes the justification relied upon by maintain that level of professional conduct which is beyond reproach,
respondent, is obviously not applicable to the case at bar. Foremost is and to exert all efforts to regain the high esteem formerly accorded to
the fact that the disciplinary rule involved in said case explicitly allows the legal profession.
a lawyer, as an exception to the prohibition against advertisements by
lawyers, to publish a statement of legal fees for an initial consultation In sum, it is undoubtedly a misbehavior on the part of the lawyer,
or the availability upon request of a written schedule of fees or an subject to disciplinary action, to advertise his services except in
estimate of the fee to be charged for the specific services. No such allowable instances 48 or to aid a layman in the unauthorized practice
exception is provided for, expressly or impliedly, whether in our former of law. 49 Considering that Atty. Rogelio P. Nogales, who is the prime
Canons of Professional Ethics or the present Code of Professional incorporator, major stockholder and proprietor of The Legal Clinic, Inc.
Responsibility. Besides, even the disciplinary rule in the Bates case is a member of the Philippine Bar, he is hereby reprimanded, with a
contains a proviso that the exceptions stated therein are "not applicable warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts which are involved
in any state unless and until it is implemented by such authority in that in this proceeding will be dealt with more severely.
state." 46 This goes to show that an exception to the general rule, such
as that being invoked by herein respondent, can be made only if and While we deem it necessary that the question as to the legality or
when the canons expressly provide for such an exception. Otherwise, illegality of the purpose/s for which the Legal Clinic, Inc. was created
the prohibition stands, as in the case at bar. should be passed upon and determined, we are constrained to refrain
from lapsing into an obiter on that aspect since it is clearly not within
It bears mention that in a survey conducted by the American Bar the adjudicative parameters of the present proceeding which is merely
Association after the decision in Bates, on the attitude of the public administrative in nature. It is, of course, imperative that this matter be
about lawyers after viewing television commercials, it was found that promptly determined, albeit in a different proceeding and forum, since,
public opinion dropped significantly 47 with respect to these under the present state of our law and jurisprudence, a corporation
characteristics of lawyers: cannot be organized for or engage in the practice of law in this country.
This interdiction, just like the rule against unethical advertising, cannot
Trustworthy from 71% to 14% be subverted by employing some so-called paralegals supposedly
Professional from 71% to 14% rendering the alleged support services.
Honest from 65% to 14%
Dignified from 45% to 14% The remedy for the apparent breach of this prohibition by respondent is
the concern and province of the Solicitor General who can institute the
Secondly, it is our firm belief that with the present situation of our legal corresponding quo warranto action, 50 after due ascertainment of the
and judicial systems, to allow the publication of advertisements of the factual background and basis for the grant of respondent's corporate
charter, in light of the putative misuse thereof. That spin-off from the
instant bar matter is referred to the Solicitor General for such action as
may be necessary under the circumstances.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to RESTRAIN and ENJOIN

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


August 28, 2009
WHEREAS, Section 1, Article I of the
x-------------------------------------------------- Guidelines Governing the Establishment and Operation
-x of Legal Aid Offices in All Chapters of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (otherwise known as
[]Guideline[s] on Legal Aid[]) provides: Legal aid is not
a matter of charity. It is a means for the correction of
social imbalances that may often lead to injustice, for
which reason, it is a public responsibility of the Bar. The
spirit of public service should therefore unde[r]ly all
legal aid offices. The same should be so administered as
On September 23, 2008 the Misamis Oriental Chapter of the
to give maximum possible assistance to indigent and
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) promulgated Resolution No. 24, deserving members of the community in all cases,
matters and situations in which legal aid may be
series of 2008.[2] The resolution requested the IBPs National
necessary to forestall injustice.
Committee on Legal Aid[3] (NCLA) to ask for the exemption from the
WHEREAS, Section 2 of the same provides: In
payment of filing, docket and other fees of clients of the legal aid
order to attain the objectives of legal aid, legal aid office
offices in the various IBP chapters. Resolution No. 24, series of 2008 should be as close as possible to those who are in need
thereof the masses. Hence, every chapter of the IBP must clients the same benefits or privileges enjoyed by PAO
establish and operate an adequate legal aid office. clients with respect to the payment of docket and other
fees before the courts, quasi-judicial bodies and
WHEREAS, the Legal Aid Office of the prosecutors offices;
IBPMisamis Oriental Chapter has long been operational,
providing free legal services to numerous indigent WHEREAS, the collection of docket and other
clients, through the chapters members who render fees from the IBP Legal Aid clients poses an additional
volunteer services in the spirit of public service; strain to their next to non-existent finances;

WHEREAS, the courts, quasi-judicial bodies, the WHEREAS, the quarterly allowance given by the
various mediation centers and prosecutors offices are National Legal Aid Office to the IBP Misamis Oriental
collecting fees, be they filing, docket, motion, mediation Chapter is insufficient to even cover the incidental
or other fees in cases, be they original proceedings or on expenses of volunteer legal aid lawyers, much less
appeal; answer for the payment of docket and other fees
collected by the courts, quasi-judicial bodies and
WHEREAS, IBP Legal Aid clients are qualified prosecutors offices and mediation fees collected by the
under the same indigency and merit tests used by the Philippine Mediation Center;
Public Attorneys Office (PAO), and would have
qualified for PAO assistance, but for reasons other than NOW THEREFORE, on motion of the Board of
indigency, are disqualified from availing of the services Officers of the IBPMisamis Oriental Chapter, be it
of the PAO, like the existence of a conflict of interests resolved as it is hereby resolved, to move the IBP
or conflicting defenses, and other similar causes; National Legal Aid Office to make the necessary
requests or representations with the Supreme Court, the
WHEREAS, PAO clients are automatically Philippine Mediation Center, the Department of Justice
exempt from the payment of docket and other fees for and the National Prosecution Service and other quasi-
cases, be they original proceedings or on appeal, by judicial agencies to effect the grant of a like exemption
virtue of the provisions of Section 16D of R.A. 9406 from the payment of filing, docket and other fees to the
(PAO Law), without the need for the filing of any IBP Legal Aid clients as that enjoyed by PAO clients,
petition or motion to declare them as pauper litigants; towards the end that IBP Legal Aid clients be
automatically exempted from the filing of the
WHEREAS, there is no similar provision in any abovementioned fees;
substantive law or procedural law giving IBP Legal Aid
RESOLVED FURTHER, that copies of this
In a comment dated December 18, 2008,[6] the IBP, through the NCLA,
Resolution be furnished to Supreme Court Chief Justice
Honorable Reynato S. Puno, IBP National President made the following comments:
Feliciano M. Bautista, the IBP Board of Governors,
Secretary of Justice Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez, the (a) Under Section 16-D of RA[7] 9406, clients of the Public
National Supervisor of the Philippine Mediation Center, Attorneys Office (PAO) are exempt from the payment of
the National Labor Relations Commission, the Civil docket and other fees incidental to the institution of
Service Commission and other quasi-judicial bodies and action in court and other quasi-judicial bodies. On the
their local offices; other hand, clients of legal aid offices in the various IBP
chapters do not enjoy the same exemption. IBPs indigent
RESOLVED FINALLY to move the IBP Board clients are advised to litigate as pauper litigants under
of Governors and National Officers to make the Section 21, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court;
necessary representations with the National Legislature (b) They are further advised to submit documentary evidence to
and its members to effect the filing of a bill before the prove compliance with the requirements under Section
House of Representatives and the Senate granting 21, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, i.e., certifications from
exemption to IBP Legal Aid clients from the payment of the barangay and the Department of Social Welfare and
docket, filing and or other fees in cases before the courts, Development. However, not only does the process
quasi-judicial agencies and prosecutors offices and the involve some expense which indigent clients could ill-
mediation centers. afford, clients also lack knowledge on how to go about
the tedious process of obtaining these documents;
Done this 23rd day of September 2008, Cagayan
De Oro City. (c) Although the IBP is given an annual legal aid subsidy, the
amount it receives from the government is barely enough
Unanimously approved upon motion severally to cover various operating expenses;[8]
(d) While each IBP local chapter is given a quarterly allocation
(from the legal aid subsidy),[9] said allocation covers
neither the incidental expenses defrayed by legal aid
The Court noted Resolution No. 24, series of 2008 and required the
lawyers in handling legal aid cases nor the payment of
IBP, through the NCLA, to comment thereon.[5] docket and other fees collected by the courts, quasi-
judicial bodies and the prosecutors office, as well as
mediation fees and
(e) Considering the aforementioned factors, a directive may be
issued by the Supreme Court granting IBPs indigent
Access to justice by all, especially by the poor, is not simply an
clients an exemption from the payment of docket and
other fees similar to that given to PAO clients under ideal in our society. Its existence is essential in a democracy and in the
Section 16-D of RA 9406. In this connection, the
rule of law. As such, it is guaranteed by no less than the fundamental
Supreme Court previously issued a circular exempting
IBP clients from the payment of transcript of law:
stenographic notes.[10]
Sec. 11. Free access to the courts and quasi-
judicial bodies and adequate legal assistance shall not
be denied to any person by reason of
At the outset, we laud the Misamis Oriental Chapter of the IBP poverty.[12] (emphasis supplied)
for its effort to help improve the administration of justice, particularly,
the access to justice by the poor. Its Resolution No. 24, series of 2008
The Court recognizes the right of access to justice as the most
in fact echoes one of the noteworthy recommendations during
important pillar of legal empowerment of the marginalized sectors of
the Forum on Increasing Access to Justice spearheaded by the Court
our society.[13] Among others, it has exercised its power to promulgate
last year. In promulgating Resolution No. 24, the Misamis Oriental
rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional
Chapter of the IBP has effectively performed its duty to participate in
rights[14] to open the doors of justice to the underprivileged and to allow
the development of the legal system by initiating or supporting efforts
them to step inside the courts to be heard of their plaints. In particular,
in law reform and in the administration of justice.[11]
indigent litigants are permitted under Section 21, Rule 3[15] and Section
We now move on to determine the merits of the request. 19, Rule 141[16] of the Rules of Court to bring suits in forma pauperis.
The IBP, pursuant to its general objectives to improve the
administration of justice and enable the Bar to discharge its public
responsibility more effectively,[17]assists the Court in providing the
his family, considering the number of his dependents
poor access to justice. In particular, it renders free legal aid under the
and the conditions prevailing in the locality.
supervision of the NCLA.
The means test shall not be applicable to applicants who
fall under the Developmental Legal Aid Program such
A NEW RULE, A NEW TOOL as Overseas Filipino Workers, fishermen, farmers,
FOR ACCESS TO JUSTICE women and children and other disadvantaged groups.

SEC. 21. Merit test. The merit test seeks to ascertain

whether or not the applicants cause of action or his
Under the IBPs Guidelines Governing the Establishment and
defense is valid and chances of establishing the same
Operation of Legal Aid Offices in All Chapters of the IBP (Guidelines appear reasonable.
on Legal Aid), the combined means and merit tests shall be used to
SEC. 22. Other factors. The effect of the Legal Aid
determine the eligibility of an applicant for legal aid: Service or of the failure to render the same upon the Rule
of Law, the proper administration of justice, the public
ARTICLE VIII interest involved in given cases and the practice of law
TESTS in the locality shall likewise be considered.

SEC. 19. Combined tests. The Chapter Legal Aid SEC. 23. Private practice. Care shall be taken that the
Committee or the [NCLA], as the case may be, shall pass Legal aid is not availed of to the detriment of the private
upon the request for legal aid by the combined practice of law, or taken advantage of by anyone for
application of the means test and merit test, and the personal ends.
consideration of other factors adverted to in the
following sections. SEC. 24. Denial. Legal aid may be denied to an
applicant already receiving adequate assistance from
SEC. 20. Means test. The means test aims at determining any source other than the Integrated Bar.
whether the applicant has no visible means of support or
his income is otherwise insufficient to provide the
financial resources necessary to engage competent
private counsel owing to the demands for subsistence of The means and merit tests appear to be reasonable determinants
of eligibility for coverage under the legal aid program of the IBP.
justice by the poor by exempting from the payment of
Nonetheless, they may be improved to ensure that any exemption from
legal fees incidental to instituting an action in court, as
the payment of legal fees that may be granted to clients of the NCLA an original proceeding or on appeal, qualified indigent
clients of the NCLA and of the legal aid offices in local
and the legal aid offices of the various IBP chapters will really further
IBP chapters nationwide.
the right of access to justice by the poor. This will guarantee that the
exemption will neither be abused nor trivialized. Towards this end, the
Definition of Terms
following shall be observed by the NCLA and the legal aid offices in
Section 1. Definition of important terms. For purposes
IBP chapters nationwide in accepting clients and handling cases for the
of this Rule and as used herein, the following terms shall
said clients: be understood to be how they are defined under this
A.M. No. 08-11-7-SC (IRR): Re: Rule on the
(a) Developmental legal aid means the rendition
Exemption From the Payment of Legal Fees of the
of legal services in public interest causes
Clients of the National Committee on Legal Aid and
involving overseas workers, fisherfolk,
of the Legal Aid Offices in the Local Chapters of the
farmers, laborers, indigenous cultural
Integrated Bar of the Philippines
communities, women, children and other
disadvantaged groups and marginalized
Rule on the Exemption From the Payment of Legal
Fees of the Clients of the National Committee on
Legal Aid (NCLA) and of the Legal Aid Offices in the
(b) Disinterested person refers to the punong
Local Chapters of the Integrated Bar of the
barangay having jurisdiction over the
Philippines (IBP)
place where an applicant for legal aid or
ARTICLE I client of the NCLA or chapter legal aid
Purpose office resides;

Section 1. Purpose. This Rule is issued for the purpose (c) Falsity refers to any material
of enforcing the right of free access to courts by the poor misrepresentation of fact or any
guaranteed under Section 11, Article III of the fraudulent, deceitful, false, wrong or
Constitution. It is intended to increase the access to misleading statement in the application or
affidavits submitted to support it or the (g) Representative refers to the person authorized
affidavit of a disinterested person required to file an application for legal aid in behalf
to be submitted annually under this Rule of the applicant when the said applicant is
which may substantially affect the prevented by a compelling reason from
determination of the qualifications of the personally filing his application. As a rule,
applicant or the client under the means and it refers to the immediate family members
merit tests; of the applicant. However, it may include
(d) Legal fees refers to the legal fees imposed any of the applicants relatives or any
under Rule 141 of the Rules of Court as a person or concerned citizen of sufficient
necessary incident of instituting an action discretion who has first-hand knowledge
in court either as an original proceeding or of the personal circumstances of the
on appeal. In particular, it includes filing applicant as well as of the facts of the
or docket fees, appeal fees, fees for applicants case.
issuance of provisional remedies,
mediation fees, sheriffs fees, ARTICLE III
stenographers fees (that is fees for Coverage
transcript of stenographic notes) and
commissioners fees; Section 1. Persons qualified for exemption from
payment of legal fees. Persons who shall enjoy the
(e) Means test refers to the set of criteria used to benefit of exemption from the payment of legal fees
determine whether the applicant is one incidental to instituting an action in court, as an original
who has no money or property sufficient proceeding or on appeal, granted under this Rule shall
and available for food, shelter and basic be limited only to clients of the NCLA and the chapter
necessities for himself and his family; legal aid offices.

(f) Merit test refers to the ascertainment of The said clients shall refer to those indigents
whether the applicants cause of action or qualified to receive free legal aid service from the NCLA
his defense is valid and whether the and the chapter legal aid offices. Their qualifications
chances of establishing the same appear shall be determined based on the tests provided in this
reasonable and Rule.
Section 2. Persons not covered by the Rule. The
following shall be disqualified from the coverage of this Section 3. Cases not covered by the Rule. The NCLA
Rule. Nor may they be accepted as clients by the NCLA and the chapter legal aid offices shall not handle the
and the chapter legal aid offices. following:

(a) Juridical persons; except in cases covered by (a) Cases where conflicting interests will be
developmental legal aid or public interest represented by the NCLA and the chapter
causes involving juridical entities which legal aid offices and
are non-stock, non-profit organizations,
non-governmental organizations and (b) Prosecution of criminal cases in court.
peoples organizations whose individual
members will pass the means test provided ARTICLE IV
in this Rule; Tests of Indigency

(b) Persons who do not pass the means and merit Section 1. Tests for determining who may be clients of
tests; the NCLA and the legal aid offices in local IBP
chapters. The NCLA or the chapter legal aid committee,
(c) Parties already represented by a counsel de as the case may be, shall pass upon requests for legal aid
parte; by the combined application of the means and merit tests
and the consideration of other relevant factors provided
(d) Owners or lessors of residential lands or for in the following sections.
buildings with respect to the filing of
collection or unlawful detainer suits Section 2. Means test; exception. (a) This test shall be
against their tenants and based on the following criteria: (i) the applicant and that
of his immediate family must have a gross monthly
(e) Persons who have been clients of the NCLA income that does not exceed an amount double the
or chapter legal aid office previously in a monthly minimum wage of an employee in the place
case where the NCLA or chapter legal aid where the applicant resides and (ii) he does not own real
office withdrew its representation because property with a fair market value as stated in the current
of a falsity in the application or in any of tax declaration of more than Three Hundred Thousand
the affidavits supporting the said (P300,000.00) Pesos.
In this connection, the applicant shall execute an a given case and the practice of law in the locality shall
affidavit of indigency (printed at the back of the likewise be considered.
application form) stating that he and his immediate
family do not earn a gross income abovementioned, nor ARTICLE V
own any real property with the fair value Acceptance and Handling of Cases
aforementioned, supported by an affidavit of a
disinterested person attesting to the truth of the Section 1. Procedure in accepting cases. The following
applicants affidavit. The latest income tax return and/or procedure shall be observed in the acceptance of cases
current tax declaration, if any, shall be attached to the for purposes of this Rule:
applicants affidavit.
(a) Filing of application An application shall be
(b) The means test shall not be applicable to applicants made personally by the applicant, unless
who fall under the developmental legal aid program such there is a compelling reason which
as overseas workers, fisherfolk, farmers, laborers, prevents him from doing so, in which case
indigenous cultural communities, women, children and his representative may apply for him. It
other disadvantaged groups. shall adhere substantially to the form made
for that purpose. It shall be prepared and
Section 3. Merit test. A case shall be considered signed by the applicant or, in proper cases,
meritorious if an assessment of the law and evidence at his duly authorized representative in at
hand discloses that the legal service will be in aid of least three copies.
justice or in the furtherance thereof, taking into
consideration the interests of the party and those of Applications for legal aid shall be filed with the
society. A case fails this test if, after consideration of the NCLA or with the chapter legal aid
law and evidence presented by the applicant, it appears committee.
that it is intended merely to harass or injure the opposite
party or to work oppression or wrong. The NCLA shall, as much as possible,
concentrate on cases of paramount
Section 4. Other relevant factors that may be importance or national impact.
considered. The effect of legal aid or of the failure to
render the same upon the rule of law, the proper Requests received by the IBP National Office
administration of justice, the public interest involved in shall be referred by the NCLA to the
proper chapter legal aid committee of the
locality where the cases have to be filed or the interview of the applicant. The basis of
are pending. The chapter president and the the recommendation shall be stated.
chairman of the chapters legal aid
committee shall be advised of such The chapter board of officers shall
referral. review and act on the recommendation of
the chapter legal aid committee within two
(b) Interview The applicant shall be interviewed (2) working days from receipt
by a member of the chapter legal aid thereof; Provided, however, that in urgent
committee or any chapter member matters requiring prompt or immediate
authorized by the chapter legal aid action, the chapters executive director of
committee to determine the applicants legal aid or whoever performs his
qualifications based on the means and functions may provisionally act on the
merit tests and other relevant factors. He application, subject to review by the
shall also be required to submit copies of chapter legal aid committee and,
his latest income tax returns and/or current thereafter, by the chapter board of officers.
tax declaration, if available, and execute
an affidavit of indigency printed at the The action of the chapter board of officers on the
back of the application form with application shall be final.
the supporting affidavit of a disinterested
person attesting to the truth of the (d) Cases which may be provisionally accepted.
applicants affidavit. In the following cases, the NCLA or the
chapter legal aid office, through the
After the interview, the applicant shall be chapters executive director of legal aid or
informed that he can follow up the action whoever performs his functions may
on his application after five (5) working accept cases provisionally pending
days. verification of the applicants indigency
and an evaluation of the merit of his case.
(c) Action on the application The chapter legal
aid committee shall pass upon every (i) Where a warrant for the arrest of the
request for legal aid and submit its applicant has been issued;
recommendation to the chapter board of
officers within three (3) working days after
(ii) Where a pleading has to be filed office. The certification shall bear the
immediately to avoid adverse control number of the case and shall state
effects to the applicant; the name of the client and the nature of the
judicial action subject of the legal aid of
(iii) Where an appeal has to be urgently the NCLA or the legal aid office of a local
perfected or a petition for certiorari, IBP chapter.
prohibition or mandamus filed has The certification shall be issued to the successful
to be filed immediately; and applicant free of charge.

(iv) Other similar urgent cases. Section 2. Assignment of cases. After a case is given a
control number, the chapter board of officers shall refer
(e) Assignment of control number Upon approval it back to the chapter legal aid committee. The chapter
of the chapter board of officers of a legal aid committee shall assign the case to any chapter
persons application and the applicant is member who is willing to handle the case.
found to be qualified for legal assistance,
the case shall be assigned a control In case no chapter member has signified an
number. The numbering shall be intention to handle the case voluntarily, the chapter legal
consecutive starting from January to aid committee shall refer the matter to the chapter board
December of every year. The control of officers together with the names of at least three
number shall also indicate the region and members who, in the chapter legal aid committees
the chapter handling the case. discretion, may competently render legal aid on the
matter. The chapter board of officers shall appoint one
Example: chapter member from among the list of names submitted
Region[18] Chapter Year Month Number by the chapter legal aid committee. The chapter member
GM - Manila - 2009 - 03 - 099 chosen may not refuse the appointment except on the
ground of conflict of interest or other equally compelling
(f) Issuance of a certification After an application grounds as provided in the Code of Professional
is approved and a control number duly Responsibility,[19] in which case the chapter board of
assigned, the chapter board of officers officers shall appoint his replacement from among the
shall issue a certification that the person remaining names in the list previously submitted by the
(that is, the successful applicant) is a client chapter legal aid committee.
of the NCLA or of the chapter legal aid
The chapter legal aid committee and the chapter of choosing the substitute handling lawyer,
board of officers shall take the necessary measures to the rule in the immediately preceding
ensure that cases are well-distributed to chapter section shall be observed.
(c) Legal aid is purely gratuitous and honorary No
Section 3. Policies and guidelines in the acceptance and member of the chapter or member of the
handling of cases. The following policies and guidelines staff of the NCLA or chapter legal aid
shall be observed in the acceptance and handling of office shall directly or indirectly demand
cases: or request from an applicant or client any
compensation, gift or present for legal aid
(a) First come, first served Where both the services being applied for or rendered.
complainant/plaintiff/petitioner and
defendant/ respondent apply for legal aid (d) Same standard of conduct and equal treatment
and both are qualified, the first to seek A chapter member who is tasked to handle
assistance shall be given preference. a case accepted by the NCLA or by the
chapter legal aid office shall observe the
(b) Avoidance of conflict of interest Where same standard of conduct governing his
acceptance of a case will give rise to a relations with paying clients. He shall treat
conflict of interest on the part of the the client of the NCLA or of the chapter
chapter legal aid office, the applicant shall legal aid office and the said clients case in
be duly informed and advised to seek the a manner that is equal and similar to his
services of a private counsel or another treatment of a paying client and his case.
legal aid organization.
(e) Falsity in the application or in the affidavits
Where handling of the case will give rise to a Any falsity in the application or in the
conflict of interest on the part of the affidavit of indigency or in the affidavit of
chapter member assigned to the case, the a disinterested person shall be sufficient
client shall be duly informed and advised cause for the NCLA or chapter legal aid
about it. The handling lawyer shall also office to withdraw or terminate the legal
inform the chapter legal aid committee so aid. For this purpose, the chapter board of
that another chapter member may be officers shall authorize the handling
assigned to handle the case. For purposes lawyer to file the proper manifestation of
withdrawal of appearance of the chapter
legal aid office in the case with a motion (g) Attachment of certification in initiatory
for the dismissal of the complaint or action pleading A certified true copy of the
of the erring client. The court, after certification issued pursuant to Section
hearing, shall approve the withdrawal of 1(e), of this Article shall be attached as an
appearance and grant the motion, without annex to the initiatory pleading.
prejudice to whatever criminal liability
may have been incurred. Failure to attach a certified true
copy of the said certification shall be a
Violation of this policy shall disqualify the erring ground for the dismissal of the action
client from availing of the benefits of this without prejudice to its refiling.
Rule in the future. The same rule shall apply in case the client,
through the NCLA or chapter legal aid
(f) Statement in the initiatory pleading To avail of office, files an appeal.
the benefits of the Rule, the initiatory
pleading shall state as an essential (h) Signing of pleadings All complaints,
preliminary allegation that (i) the party petitions, answers, replies, memoranda
initiating the action is a client of the and other important pleadings or motions
NCLA or of the chapter legal aid office to be filed in courts shall be signed by the
and therefore entitled to exemption from handling lawyer and co-signed by the
the payment of legal fees under this Rule chairperson or a member of the chapter
and (ii) a certified true copy of legal aid committee, or in urgent cases, by
the certification issued pursuant to Section the executive director of legal aid or
1(e), of this Article is attached or annexed whoever performs his functions.
to the pleading.
Ordinary motions such as motions for extension
Failure to make the statement shall be a ground of time to file a pleading or for
for the dismissal of the action without postponement of hearing and
prejudice to its refiling. manifestations may be signed by the
The same rule shall apply in case the client, handling lawyer alone.
through the NCLA or chapter legal aid
office, files an appeal.
(i) Motions for extension of time or for
postponement The filing of motions for
extension of time to file a pleading or for ARTICLE VI
postponement of hearing shall be avoided Withdrawal of Legal Aid and Termination of
as much as possible as they cause delay to Exemption
the case and prolong the proceedings.
Section 1. Withdrawal of legal aid. The NCLA or the
(j) Transfer of cases Transfer of cases from one chapter legal aid committee may, in justifiable instances
handling lawyer to another shall be as provided in the next Section, direct the handling
affected only upon approval of the chapter lawyer to withdraw representation of a clients cause
legal aid committee. upon approval of the IBP Board of Governors (in the
case of the NCLA) or of the chapter board of officers (in
Section 4. Decision to appeal. (a) All appeals must be the case of the chapter legal aid committee) and through
made on the request of the client himself. For this a proper motion filed in Court.
purpose, the client shall be made to fill up a request to
appeal. Section 2. Grounds for withdrawal of legal aid.
Withdrawal may be warranted in the following
(b) Only meritorious cases shall be appealed. If situations:
the handling lawyer, in consultation with the chapter
legal aid committee, finds that there is no merit to the (a) In a case that has been provisionally accepted,
appeal, the client should be immediately informed where it is subsequently ascertained that
thereof in writing and the record of the case turned over the client is not qualified for legal aid;
to him, under proper receipt. If the client insists on
appealing the case, the lawyer handling the case should (b) Where the clients income or resources
perfect the appeal before turning over the records of the improve and he no longer qualifies for
case to him. continued assistance based on the means
test. For this purpose, on or before January
Section 5. Protection of private practice. Utmost care 15 every year, the client shall submit an
shall be taken to ensure that legal aid is neither availed affidavit of a disinterested person stating
of to the detriment of the private practice of law nor that the client and his immediate family do
taken advantage of by anyone for purely personal ends. not earn a gross income mentioned in
Section 2, Article V, nor own any real
property with the fair market value unreasonably fails to attend hearings when
mentioned in the same Section; his presence thereat is required; and

(c) When it is shown or found that the client (g) When it becomes apparent that the
committed a falsity in the application or in representation of the clients cause will
the affidavits submitted to support the result in a representation of conflicting
application; interests, as where the adverse party had
previously engaged the services of the
(d) When the client subsequently engages a de NCLA or of the chapter legal aid office
parte counsel or is provided with a de and the subject matter of the litigation is
oficio counsel; directly related to the services previously
rendered to the adverse party.
(e) When, despite proper advice from the
handling lawyer, the client cannot be Section 3. Effect of withdrawal. The court, after hearing,
refrained from doing things which the shall allow the NCLA or the chapter legal aid office to
lawyer himself ought not do under the withdraw if it is satisfied that the ground for such
ethics of the legal profession, particularly withdrawal exists.
with reference to their conduct towards
courts, judicial officers, witnesses and Except when the withdrawal is based on paragraphs (b),
litigants, or the client insists on having (d) and (g) of the immediately preceding Section, the
control of the trial, theory of the case, or court shall also order the dismissal of the case. Such
strategy in procedure which would tend to dismissal is without prejudice to whatever criminal
result in incalculable harm to the interests liability may have been incurred if the withdrawal is
of the client; based on paragraph (c) of the immediately preceding
(f) When, despite notice from the handling
lawyer, the client does not cooperate or ARTICLE VII
coordinate with the handling lawyer to the Miscellaneous Provisions
prejudice of the proper and effective
rendition of legal aid such as when the Section 1. Lien on favorable judgment. The amount of
client fails to provide documents the docket and other lawful fees which the client was
necessary to support his case or exempted from paying shall be a lien on any judgment
rendered in the case favorable to the indigent, unless the
court otherwise provides. Section 3. Effect of Rule on right to bring suits in forma
pauperis. Nothing in this Rule shall be considered to
In case, attorneys fees have been awarded to the client, preclude those persons not covered either by this Rule
the same shall belong to the NCLA or to the chapter or by the exemption from the payment of legal fees
legal aid office that rendered the legal aid, as the case granted to clients of the Public Attorneys Office under
may be. It shall form part of a special fund which shall Section 16-D of RA 9406 to litigate in forma
be exclusively used to support the legal aid program of pauperis under Section 21, Rule 3 and Section 19 Rule
the NCLA or the chapter legal aid office. In this 141 of the Rules of Court.
connection, the chapter board of officers shall report the
receipt of attorneys fees pursuant to this Section to the Section 4. Compliance with Rule on Mandatory Legal
NCLA within ten (10) days from receipt thereof. The Aid Service. Legal aid service rendered by a lawyer
NCLA shall, in turn, include the data on attorneys fees under this Rule either as a handling lawyer or as an
received by IBP chapters pursuant to this Section in its interviewer of applicants under Section 1(b), Article IV
liquidation report for the annual subsidy for legal aid. hereof shall be credited for purposes of compliance with
the Rule on Mandatory Legal Aid Service.
Section 2. Duty of NCLA to prepare forms. The NCLA
shall prepare the standard forms to be used in connection The chairperson of the chapter legal aid office shall issue
with this Rule. In particular, the NCLA shall prepare the the certificate similar to that issued by the Clerk of Court
following standard forms: the application form, the in Section 5(b) of the Rule on Mandatory Legal Aid
affidavit of indigency, the supporting affidavit of a Service.
disinterested person, the affidavit of a disinterested
person required to be submitted annually under Section ARTICLE VIII
2(b), Article VI, the certification issued by the NCLA or Effectivity
the chapter board of officers under Section 1(f), Article
V and the request to appeal. Section 1. Effectivity. This Rule shall become effective
after fifteen days following its publication in a
The said forms, except the certification, shall be in newspaper of general circulation.
Filipino. Within sixty (60) days from receipt of the
forms from the NCLA, the chapter legal aid offices shall
make translations of the said forms in the dominant
dialect used in their respective localities.
The above rule, in conjunction with Section 21, Rule 3 and Constitution is advanced and access to justice is increased by bridging
Section 19, Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, the Rule on Mandatory a significant gap and removing a major roadblock.
Legal Aid Service and the Rule of Procedure for Small Claims Cases,
WHEREFORE, the Misamis Oriental Chapter of the Integrated
shall form a solid base of rules upon which the right of access to courts
Bar of the Philippines is hereby COMMENDED for helping increase
by the poor shall be implemented. With these rules, we equip the poor
the access to justice by the poor. The request of the Misamis Oriental
with the tools to effectively, efficiently and easily enforce their rights
Chapter for the exemption from the payment of filing, docket and other
in the judicial system.
fees of the clients of the legal aid offices of the various IBP chapters
A FINAL WORD is GRANTED. The Rule on the Exemption From the Payment of Legal
Equity will not suffer a wrong to be without a remedy. Ubi jus Fees of the Clients of the National Committee on Legal Aid (NCLA)
ibi remedium. Where there is a right, there must be a remedy. The and of the Legal Aid Offices in the Local Chapters of the Integrated
remedy must not only be effective and efficient, but also readily Bar of the Philippines (IBP) (which shall be assigned the docket
accessible. For a remedy that is inaccessible is no remedy at all. number A.M. No. 08-11-7-SC [IRR] provided in this resolution is
hereby APPROVED. In this connection, the Clerk of Court
The Constitution guarantees the rights of the poor to free access
is DIRECTED to cause the publication of the said rule in a newspaper
to the courts and to adequate legal assistance. The legal aid service
of general circulation within five days from the promulgation of this
rendered by the NCLA and legal aid offices of IBP chapters nationwide
addresses only the right to adequate legal assistance. Recipients of the
service of the NCLA and legal aid offices of IBP chapters may enjoy The Office of the Court Administrator is hereby directed to
free access to courts by exempting them from the payment of fees promptly issue a circular to inform all courts in the Philippines of the
assessed in connection with the filing of a complaint or action in court. import of this resolution.
With these twin initiatives, the guarantee of Section 11, Article III of
THIRD DIVISION accompanied by his son, Lorenzito. Complainants objection to
respondents appearance elicited the response that Lorenzo Inos is
ATTY. EVELYN J. MAGNO, A.C. No. 6296 entitled to be represented by a lawyer inasmuch as complainant is
Complainant, herself a lawyer. And as to complainants retort that her being a lawyer
is merely coincidental, respondent countered that she is appearing as an
ATTY. OLIVIA VELASCO-JACOBA, Promulgated: attorney-in-fact, not as counsel, of Lorenzo Inos.
Respondent. November 22, 2005
Complainant enumerated specific instances, with supporting
RESOLUTION documentation, tending to prove that respondent had, in the course of
the conciliation proceedings before the Punong Barangay, acted as
Inos Lorenzos counsel instead of as his attorney-in-fact. This is what
GARCIA, J.: complainant said in her complaint: [2]

5. xxx Atty. Olivia Jacoba asked for an ocular

In her sworn complaint, as endorsed by the President of the inspection of the subject matter of the complaint. A
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Nueva Ecija Chapter, Atty. heated argument took place because Lorencito Inos said
Evelyn J. Magno charged Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba, a member of that [complainants brother] Melencio Magno, Jr. made
the same IBP provincial chapter, with willful violation of (a) Section alterations in the lagoon . Afterwards Atty. Olivia Jacoba
. . . returned to the barangay hall to have the incident
415 of the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 and (b) Canon 4 of recorded in the barangay blotter.... attached as Annex A
the Code of Professional Responsibility.
6. That on January 12, 2003, Lorenzo Inos
This disciplinary case arose out of a disagreement that appeared before the hearing also with the assistance of
complainant had with her uncle, Lorenzo Inos, over a landscaping [respondent]. When the minutes of the proceeding (sic)
contract they had entered into. In a bid to have the stand-off between was read, [respondent] averred that the minutes is partial
in favor of the complainant because only her statements
them settled, complainant addressed a letter, styled Sumbong,[1] to were recorded for which reason, marginal insertions were
Bonifacio Alcantara, barangay captain of Brgy. San Pascual, Talavera, made to include what [respondent] wanted to be put on
Nueva Ecija. At the barangay conciliation/confrontation proceedings record. She also signed as saksi in the minutes .
conducted on January 5, 2003, respondent, on the strength of a Special
Power of Attorney signed by Lorenzo Inos, appeared for the latter,
7. xxx In a letter (answer to the "sumbong) sent preponderance of evidence and, on that basis, recommended
to the Punong Barangay dated December 22, 2002, she that respondent be suspended from the practice of her profession for a
signed representing herself as Family Legal Counsel of
Inos Family, a copy of the letter is attached as Annex C . period of six (6) months. On the other hand, the Board of Governors,
. . . (Words in bracket added.) IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, while agreeing with the
inculpatory finding of the investigating commissioner, recommended
in its Resolution No. XVI-2003-235,[6] a lighter penalty, to wit:
In an Order dated February 17, 2003, Atty. Victor C. Fernandez,
IBP Director for Bar Discipline, directed the respondent to submit,
within fifteen (15) days from notice, her answer to the complaint, hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and
otherwise she will be considered as in default.[3] Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of
the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
The case, docketed as CBD No. 03-1061, was assigned to Resolution/Decision as Annex "A"; and, finding the
Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala, who admitted recommendation fully supported by the evidence on
record and the applicable laws and rules, with
respondents answer notwithstanding her earlier order of July 15, 2003, modification, and considering respondent's actuations
declaring respondent in default for failure to file an answer in due was in violation of Section 415 which expressly prohibits
time.[4] the presence and representation by lawyers in the
Katarungan Pambarangay, Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba
In her Answer, respondent alleged that the administrative is hereby ADMONISHED.
complaint was filed with the Office of the Punong Barangay, instead
of before the Lupong Tagapamayapa, and heard by Punong
This resolution is now before us for confirmation.
Barangay Bonifacio Alcantara alone, instead of the collegial Lupon or
a conciliation panel known as pangkat. Prescinding from this premise, Section 415 of the LGC of 1991[7], on the subject Katarungang
respondent submits that the prohibition against a lawyer appearing to Pambarangay, provides:
assist a client in katarungan pambarangay proceedings does not
apply. Further, she argued that her appearance was not as a lawyer, but
only as an attorney-in-fact. Section 415. Appearance of Parties in Person. -
In all katarungang pambarangay proceedings, the parties
must appear in person without the assistance of the
In her report dated October 6, 2003,[5] Commissioner Maala stated
counsel or representative, except for minors and
that the charge of complainant has been established by clear
incompetents who may be assisted by their next of kin Lest it be overlooked, the prohibition in question applies to
who are not lawyers. all katarungan barangay proceedings. Section 412(a)[11] the LGC of
1991 clearly provides that, as a precondition to filing a complaint in
The above-quoted provision clearly requires the personal court, the parties shall go through the conciliation process either before
appearance of the parties in katarungan pambarangay conciliation the lupon chairman or the lupon or pangkat. As what happened in this
proceedings, unassisted by counsel or representative. The rationale case, the punong barangay, as chairman of the Lupon Tagapamayapa,
behind the personal appearance requirement is to enable the lupon to conducted the conciliation proceedings to resolve the disputes between
secure first hand and direct information about the facts and issues,[8] the the two parties.
exception being in cases where minors or incompetents are parties.
Given the above perspective, we join the IBP Commission on Bar
There can be no quibbling that laymen of goodwill can easily agree to
Discipline in its determination that respondent transgressed the
conciliate and settle their disputes between themselves without what
prohibition prescribed in Section 415 of the LGC. However, its
sometimes is the unsettling assistance of lawyers whose presence could
recommended penalty of mere admonition must have to be modified.
sometimes obfuscate and confuse issues.[9] Worse still, the
Doubtless, respondents conduct tended to undermine the laudable
participation of lawyers with their penchant to use their analytical skills
purpose of the katarungan pambarangay system. What compounded
and legal knowledge tend to prolong instead of expedite settlement of
matters was when respondent repeatedly ignored complainants
the case.
protestation against her continued appearance in the barangay
conciliation proceedings.
The prohibition against the presence of a lawyer in a barangay
conciliation proceedings was not, to be sure, lost on respondent. Her WHEREFORE, Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba is
defense that the aforequoted Section 415 of the LGC does not apply hereby FINED in the amount of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) for
since complainant addressed her Sumbong to the barangay captain of willful violation of Section 415 of the Local Government Code of 1991
Brgy. San Pascual who thereafter proceeded to hear the same is with WARNING that commission of similar acts of impropriety on her
specious at best. In this regard, suffice it to state that complainant wrote part in the future will be dealt with more severely.
her Sumbong with the end in view of availing herself of the benefits of
barangay justice. That she addressed her Sumbong to the barangay SO ORDERED.
captain is really of little moment since the latter chairs the Lupong
EN BANC implementation of the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education
(MCLE) program in accordance with these Rules.
SEC. 2. Requirements of completion of MCLE. Members of the IBP
[B.M. 850. October 2, 2001] not exempt under Rule 7 shall complete every three (3) years at least
MANDATORY CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION thirty-six (36) hours of continuing legal education activities approved
by the MCLE Committee. Of the 36 hours:
RESOLUTION (a) At least six (6) hours shall be devoted to legal
ADOPTING THE REVISED RULES ON THE CONTINUING ethics equivalent to six (6) credit units.
LEGAL EDUCATION FOR MEMBERS OF THE (b) At least four (4) hours shall be devoted to trial and pretrial
INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES skills equivalent to four (4) credit units.
Considering the Rules on the Mandatory Continuing Legal (c) At least five (5) hours shall be devoted to alternative dispute
Education (MCLE) for members of the Integrated Bar of the resolution equivalent to five (5) credit units.
Philippines (IBP), recommended by the IBP, endorsed by the
Philippine Judicial Academy, and reviewed and passed upon by the (d) At least nine (9) hours shall be devoted to updates on
Supreme Court Committee on Legal Education, the Court hereby substantive and procedural laws, and
resolves to approve, as it hereby approves, the following Revised Rules jurisprudence equivalent to nine (9) credit units.
for proper implementation: (e) At least four (4) hours shall be devoted to legal writing and
oral advocacy equivalent to four (4) credit units.
Rule 1. PURPOSE (f) At least two (2) hours shall be devoted to international law
and international conventions equivalent to two (2) credit
SECTION 1. Purpose of the MCLE. Continuing legal education is units.
required of members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to
ensure that throughout their career, they keep abreast with law and (g) The remaining six (6) hours shall be devoted to such
jurisprudence, maintain the ethics of the profession and enhance the subjects as may be prescribed by the MCLE
standards of the practice of law. Committee equivalent to six (6) credit units.



SECTION 1. Commencement of the MCLE. Within two (2) months SECTION 1. Initial compliance period. -- The initial compliance
from the approval of these Rules by the Supreme Court En Banc, period shall begin not later than three (3) months from the adoption of
the MCLE Committee shall be constituted and shall commence the these Rules. Except for the initial compliance period for members
admitted or readmitted after the establishment of the program, all
compliance periods shall be for thirty-six (36) months and shall begin member shall be required to complete a number of hours of
the day after the end of the previous compliance period. approved continuing legal education activities equal to the
number of months remaining in the compliance period in
SEC. 2. Compliance Groups. -- Members of the IBP not exempt
which the member is admitted or readmitted. Such member
from the MCLE requirement shall be divided into three (3) compliance
shall be required to complete a number of hours of education
groups, namely:
in legal ethics in proportion to the number of months
(a) Compliance group 1. -- Members in the National Capital remaining in the compliance period. Fractions of hours shall
Region (NCR) or Metro Manila are assigned to Compliance be rounded up to the next whole number.
Group 1.
(b) Compliance group 2. -- Members in Luzon outside NCR Rule 4. COMPUTATION OF CREDIT UNITS(CU)
are assigned to Compliance Group 2.
(c) Compliance group 3. -- Members in Visayas and Mindanao
TO CREDIT HOURS. CREDIT UNITS measure compliance with
are assigned to Compliance Group 3.
the MCLE requirement under the Rules, based on the category of
Nevertheless, members may participate in any legal education the lawyers participation in the MCLE activity. The following are
activity wherever it may be available to earn credit unit toward the guidelines for computing credit units and the supporting
compliance with the MCLE requirement. documents required therefor:
SEC. 3. Compliance period of members admitted or readmitted
after establishment of the program. Members admitted or readmitted to
the Bar after the establishment of the program shall be assigned to the
appropriate Compliance Group based on their Chapter membership on 1. SEMINARS, CONVENTIONS, CONFERENCES, SYMPOSIA, IN-
the date of admission or readmission. HOUSE EDUCATION PROGRAMS, WORKSHOPS, DIALOGUES,
The initial compliance period after admission or readmission shall ROUND TABLE DISCUSSIONS BY APPROVED PROVIDERS
begin on the first day of the month of admission or readmission and UNDER RULE 7 AND OTHER RELATED RULES
shall end on the same day as that of all other members in the same 1.1 PARTICIPANT/ 1 CU PER HOUR OF CERTIFICATE OF
(a) Where four (4) months or less remain of the initial HOURS
compliance period after admission or readmission, the 1.2 LECTURER FULL CU FOR THE PHOTOCOPY OF
member is not required to comply with the program RESOURCE SUBJECT PER PLAQUE OR
requirement for the initial compliance. SPEAKER COMPLIANCE PERIOD SPONSORS
(b) Where more than four (4) months remain of the initial
compliance period after admission or readmission, the 1.3 PANELIST/REACTOR 1/2 OF CU FOR THE CERTIFICATION
COMMENTATOR/ SUBJECT PER FROM SEC. 2. Claim for participatory credit units. -- Participatory
MODERATOR/ COMPLIANCE PERIOD SPONSORING credit units may be claimed for:
(a) Attending approved education activities like seminars,
conferences, conventions, symposia, in-house education
programs, workshops, dialogues or round table discussion.
(b) Speaking or lecturing, or acting as assigned panelist,
2.1 LAW BOOK OF NOT FULL CU FOR THE PUBLISHED BOOK reactor, commentator, resource speaker, moderator,
LESS THAN 100 PAGES SUBJECT PER COMPLIANCE PERIOD coordinator or facilitator in approved education activities.
2.2 BOOK EDITOR 1/2 OF THE CU OF PUBLISHED BOOK (c) Teaching in a law school or lecturing in a bar review class.
SEC. 3. Claim for non-participatory credit units. Non-
2.3 RESEARCH PAPER 1/2 OF CU FOR THE DULY participatory credit units may be claimed per compliance period for:
INNOVATIVE PROGRAM/ SUBJECT PER CERTIFIED/ (a) Preparing, as an author or co-author, written materials
CREATIVE PROJECT COMPLIANCE PERIOD PUBLISHED published or accepted for publication, e.g., in the form of an
TECHNICAL REPORT/PAPER article, chapter, book, or book review which contribute to
the legal education of the author member, which were not
2.4 LEGAL ARTICLE OF AT 1/2 OF CU FOR THE PUBLISHED prepared in the ordinary course of the members practice or
(b) Editing a law book, law journal or legal newsletter.

2.6 PROFESSORIAL CHAIR/ FULL CU FOR THE CERTIFICATION SECTION 1. Computation of credit hours. -- Credit hours are
OF BAR REVIEW LECTURE SUBJECT PER LAW DEAN OR computed based on actual time spent in an education activity in hours
LAW TEACHING/ COMPLIANCE PERIOD BAR REVIEW to the nearest one-quarter hour reported in decimals.

SECTION 1. Parties exempted from the MCLE. -- The following
SECTION 1. Classes of Credit units. -- Credit units are either members of the Bar are exempt from the MCLE requirement:
participatory or non-participatory.
(a) The President and the Vice President of the Philippines, and SEC. 2. Other parties exempted from the MCLE. The following
the Secretaries and Undersecretaries of Executive Members of the Bar are likewise exempt:
(a) Those who are not in law practice, private or public.
(b) Senators and Members of the House of Representatives;
(b) Those who have retired from law practice with the approval
(c) The Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme of the IBP Board of Governors.
Court, incumbent and retired members of the judiciary,
SEC. 3. Good cause for exemption from or modification of
incumbent members of the Judicial and Bar Council and
requirement A member may file a verified request setting forth good
incumbent court lawyers covered by the Philippine Judicial
cause for exemption (such as physical disability, illness, post graduate
Academy program of continuing judicial education;
study abroad, proven expertise in law, etc.) from compliance with or
(d) The Chief State Counsel, Chief State Prosecutor and modification of any of the requirements, including an extension of time
Assistant Secretaries of the Department of Justice; for compliance, in accordance with a procedure to be established by the
MCLE Committee.
(e) The Solicitor General and the Assistant Solicitors General;
SEC. 4. Change of status. The compliance period shall begin on the
(f) The Government Corporate Counsel, Deputy and Assistant
first day of the month in which a member ceases to be exempt under
Government Corporate Counsel;
Sections 1, 2, or 3 of this Rule and shall end on the same day as that of
(g) The Chairmen and Members of the Constitutional all other members in the same Compliance Group.
SEC. 5. Proof of exemption. Applications for exemption from or
(h) The Ombudsman, the Overall Deputy Ombudsman, the modification of the MCLE requirement shall be under oath and
Deputy Ombudsman and the Special Prosecutor of the supported by documents.
Office of the Ombudsman;
(i) Heads of government agencies exercising quasi-judicial Rule 8. STANDARDS FOR APPROVAL OF

(j) Incumbent deans, bar reviewers and professors of law who

SECTION 1. Approval of MCLE program. Subject to
have teaching experience for at least ten (10) years in
the implementing regulations that may be adopted by the MCLE
accredited law schools;
Committee, continuing legal education program may be granted
(k) The Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and members of the approval in either of two (2) ways: (1) the provider of the activity is
Corps of Professors and Professorial Lecturers of the an accredited provider and certifies that the activity meets the criteria
Philippine Judicial Academy; and of Section 2 of this Rule; and (2) the provider is specifically mandated
by law to provide continuing legal education.
(l) Governors and Mayors.
SEC. 2. Standards for all education activities. All continuing legal (b) Contain all information requested in the form;
education activities must meet the following standards:
(c) Be accompanied by the appropriate approval fee.
(a) The activity shall have significant current intellectual or
SEC. 3. Requirements of all providers. -- All
practical content.
approved accredited providers shall agree to the following:
(b) The activity shall constitute an organized program of
(a) An official record verifying the attendance at the activity
learning related to legal subjects and the legal profession,
shall be maintained by the provider for at least four (4) years
including cross profession activities (e.g., accounting-tax or
after the completion date. The provider shall include the
medical-legal) that enhance legal skills or the ability to
member on the official record of attendance only if the
practice law, as well as subjects in legal writing and oral
members signature was obtained at the time of attendance at
the activity. The official record of attendance shall contain
(c) The activity shall be conducted by a provider with adequate the members name and number in the Roll of Attorneys and
professional experience. shall identify the time, date, location, subject matter, and
length of the education activity. A copy of such record shall
(d) Where the activity is more than one (1) hour in length,
be furnished the MCLE COMMITTEE.
substantive written materials must be distributed to all
participants. Such materials must be distributed at or before (b) The provider shall certify that:
the time the activity is offered.
(1) This activity has been approved BY THE MCLE COMMITTEE in
(e) In-house education activities must be scheduled at a time
the amount of ________ hours of which ______ hours will apply in
and location so as to be free from interruption like telephone
(legal ethics, etc.), as appropriate to the content of the activity;
calls and other distractions.
(2) The activity conforms to the standards for approved education
Rule 9. ACCREDITATION OF PROVIDERS activities prescribed by these Rules and such regulations as may be
prescribed by the MCLE COMMITTEE.
SECTION 1. Accreditation of providers. -- Accreditation of
providers shall be done by the MCLE Committee. (c) The provider shall issue a record or certificate to all participants
identifying the time, date, location, subject matter and length of
SEC. 2. Requirements for accreditation of providers. Any person
the activity.
or group may be accredited as a provider for a term of two (2) years,
which may be renewed, upon written application. All providers of (d) The provider shall allow in-person observation of all approved
continuing legal education activities, including in-house providers, are continuing legal education activity by THE MCLE
eligible to be accredited providers. Application for accreditation shall: COMMITTEE, members of the IBP Board of Governors, or
(a) Be submitted on a form provided by the MCLE Committee; designees of the Committee and IBP staff Board for purposes
of monitoring compliance with these Rules.
(e) The provider shall indicate in promotional materials, the nature compliance period. He shall complete the card by attesting under oath
of the activity, the time devoted to each topic and identity of the that he has complied with the education requirement or that he is
instructors. The provider shall make available to each participant exempt, specifying the nature of the exemption. Such Compliance Card
a copy of THE MCLE COMMITTEE-approved Education must be returned to the Committee not later than the day after the end
Activity Evaluation Form. of the members compliance period.
SEC. 2. Member record keeping requirement. -- Each member
(f) The provider shall maintain the completed Education Activity
shall maintain sufficient record of compliance or exemption, copy
Evaluation Forms for a period of not less than one (1) year after
furnished the MCLE Committee. The record required to be provided to
the activity, copy furnished the MCLE COMMITTEE.
the members by the provider pursuant to Section 3 of Rule 9 should be
(g) Any person or group who conducts an unauthorized activity a sufficient record of attendance at a participatory activity. A record of
under this program or issues a spurious certificate in violation of non-participatory activity shall also be maintained by the member, as
these Rules shall be subject to appropriate sanctions. referred to in Section 3 of Rule 5.

SEC. 4. Renewal of provider accreditation. The accreditation of a

provider may be renewed every two (2) years. It may be denied if the Rule 12. NON-COMPLIANCE PROCEDURES

provider fails to comply with any of the requirements of these Rules or

SECTION 1. What constitutes non-compliance. The following
fails to provide satisfactory education activities for the preceding
shall constitute non-compliance:
(a) Failure to complete the education requirement within the
SEC. 5. Revocation of provider accreditation. --
compliance period;
the accreditation of any provider referred to in Rule 9 may be revoked
by a majority vote of the MCLE Committee, after notice and hearing (b) Failure to provide attestation of compliance or exemption;
and for good cause.
(c) Failure to provide satisfactory evidence of compliance
(including evidence of exempt status) within the prescribed

SECTION 1. Payment of fees. Application for approval of an (d) Failure to satisfy the education requirement and furnish
education activity or accreditation as a provider requires payment of the evidence of such compliance within sixty (60) days from
appropriate fee as provided in the Schedule of MCLE Fees. receipt of non-compliance notice;
(e) Failure to pay non-compliance fee within the prescribed
(f) Any other act or omission analogous to any of the foregoing
SECTION 1. Compliance card. -- Each member shall secure from or intended to circumvent or evade compliance with the
the MCLE Committee a Compliance Card before the end of his MCLE requirements.
SEC. 2. Non-compliance notice and 60-day period to attain the IBPs Commission on Bar Discipline as a fact-finding arm of the
compliance. -Members failing to comply will receive a Non- MCLE Committee.
Compliance Notice stating the specific deficiency and will be given
SEC. 3. Accrual of membership fee. -- Membership fees shall
sixty (60) days from the date of notification to file a response clarifying
continue to accrue at the active rate against a member during the period
the deficiency or otherwise showing compliance with the requirements.
he/she is listed as a delinquent member.
Such notice shall contain the following language near the beginning of
the notice in capital letters:
COMPLIANCE WITH THE MCLE REQUIREMENT BY SECTION 1. Process. -- The involuntary listing as a delinquent
(INSERT DATE 60 DAYS FROM DATE OF NOTICE), YOU member shall be terminated when the member provides proof of
SHALL BE LISTED AS A DELINQUENT MEMBER AND compliance with the MCLE requirement, including payment of non-
SHALL NOT BE PERMITTED TO PRACTICE LAW UNTIL compliance fee. A member may attain the necessary credit units to
SUCH TIME AS ADEQUATE PROOF OF COMPLIANCE IS meet the requirement for the period of non-compliance during the
RECEIVED BY THE MCLE COMMITTEE. period the member is on inactive status. These credit units may not be
counted toward meeting the current compliance period requirement.
Members given sixty (60) days to respond to a Non-Compliance Credit units earned during the period of non-compliance in excess of
Notice may use this period to attain the adequate number of the number needed to satisfy the prior compliance period requirement
credit units for compliance. Credit units earned during this period may be counted toward meeting the current compliance period
may only be counted toward compliance with the prior compliance requirement.
period requirement unless units in excess of the requirement are
SEC. 2. Termination of delinquent listing is an administrative
earned, in which case the excess may be counted toward meeting
process. The termination of listing as a delinquent member is
the current compliance period requirement.
administrative in nature AND it shall be made by the MCLE

SECTION 1. Non-compliance fee. -- A member who, for whatever Rule. 15. COMMITTEE ON MANDATORY CONTINUING

reason, is in non-compliance at the end of the compliance period shall LEGAL EDUCATION

pay a non-compliance fee.

SECTION 1. Composition. The MCLE Committee shall be
SEC. 2. Listing as delinquent member. -- A member who fails to composed of five (5) members, namely, a retired Justice of the Supreme
comply with the requirements after the sixty (60) day period for Court as Chair, and four (4) members respectively nominated by the
compliance has expired, shall be listed as a delinquent member of the IBP, the Philippine Judicial Academy, a law center designated by the
IBP upon the recommendation of the MCLE Committee. The Supreme Court and associations of law schools and/or law professors.
investigation of a member for non-compliance shall be conducted by
The members of the Committee shall be of proven probity and
integrity. They shall be appointed by the Supreme Court for a term of
three (3) years and shall receive such compensation as may be
determined by the Court.
SEC. 2. Duty of committee. The MCLE Committee shall
administer and adopt such implementing rules as may be necessary
subject to the approval of the Supreme Court. It shall, in consultation
with the IBP Board of Governors, prescribe a schedule of MCLE fees
with the approval of the Supreme Court.
SEC. 3. Staff of the MCLE Committee. Subject to approval by
the Supreme Court, the MCLE Committee shall employ such staff as
may be necessary to perform the record-keeping, auditing, reporting,
approval and other necessary functions.
D. Lawyer and Society
SEC. 4. Submission of annual budget. The MCLE Committee
shall submit to the Supreme Court for approval, an annual budget [for a. CANON 3
a subsidy] to establish, operate and maintain the MCLE Program.
This resolution shall take effect on the fifteenth of September 2000,
following its publication in two (2) newspapers of general circulation
in the Philippines.
Adopted this 22nd day of August, 2000, as amended on 02 October
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Mendoza,
Panganiban, Quisumbing, Pardo, Buena, Ynares-Santiago, De Leon,
Jr., and Sandoval-Gutierrez, JJ., concur.
Kapunan, J., on official leave.
D. Lawyer and Society D. Lawyer and Society
a. CANON 4 a. CANON 5
En Banc Resolution Extending MCLE First Compliance Period to EN BANC SUPREME COURT RESOLUTION AMENDING
December 31, 2004 BAR MATTER NO. 850.


Republic of the Philippines Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court Supreme Court
Manila EN BANC
Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of the Court
Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of the Court En En Banc dated
Banc dated 13 July 2004
8 June 2004 Bar Matter No. 850. Re: Proposed Rules on Mandatory
"Bar Matter No. 850. Re: Proposed Rules on Mandatory Continuing Legal Education for Active Members of the IBP. Acting
Continuing Legal Education for Active Members of the IBP. - The Court on the Letter dated 18 June 2003 of Chairperson Carolina C. Grio-
Resolved to NOTE the 2003 Annual Report of the Mandatory Continuing Aquino, Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Committee (MCLE),
Legal Education Governing Board on the operations and activities of the requesting for the exemption of incumbent members of the MCLE
Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Office of the period of 1 January Office from complying with the MCLE requirements and the payment
2003 to 31 December 2003, submitted by Justice Carolina C. Grio- of the exemption fee, as well as the approval and publication of the
Aquino, Chairperson, MCLE Governing Board. amendments to Bar Matter No. 850 and its Implementing Regulations,
Acting on Resolution No. XVI-2004-188 of the Integrated Bar of the Court Resolved, upon the recommendation of the Committee on
the Philippines (IBP), and upon the recommendation of the Committee Legal Education, to
on legal Education and Bar Matters, the Court Resolved to APPROVE (a) APPROVE the proposed amendments to Bar Matter No. 850 and
the request of the IBP for an extension of the MCLE compliance period its Implementing Regulations, thus:
until 31 December 2004." 1.) Rule 7, Section 1, Bar Matter No. 850
Very truly yours, Rule 7. EXEMPTIONS
SECTION 1. Parties exempted from the MCLE.
(Sgd.) LUZVIMINDA D. PUNO - The following members of the Bar are exempt from the MCLE
Clerk of Court requirements:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
a) xxx;
b) xxx;
c) The Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court,
incumbent and retired members of the judiciary, incumbent members
of Judicial Bar Council, incumbent members of the Mandatory
Continuing Legal Education Committee, incumbent court lawyers recommendation of the MCLE Committee, in which case Rule 139-B
who have availed of the Philippine Judicial Academy programs of of the Court shall apply.
continuing judicial education
(b) APPROVE the proposed MCLE Forms for the effective
l) xxx; Implementation of the MCLE program, to
2) Section 5, MCLE Implementing Regulations wit:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Section 5. Exemptions 1. MCLE Form No. 08 - Certificate of Exemption
2. MCLE Form No. 09 - Application for Exemption
The following are exempted from the MCLE 3. MCLE Form No. 10 Application for Credit Unit/s for
requirements:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary Participating in MCLE Activity/Program as Lecturer/ Resource
a. The Executive Speaker or Panelist/ Reactor/ Commentator/ Moderator/
b. xxx.cralaw Coordinator/Facilitator
c. The Judiciary 4. MCLE Form No. 11 Application for Credit Unit/s for
The Chief Justice and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Teaching at an Accredited Law School
Incumbent and retired members of the Judiciary, incumbent members 5. MCLE Form No. 12 Application for Credit Unit/s for
of the Judicial and Bar Council incumbent members of the Mandatory Publication of a Legal Article or Book
Continuing Legal Education Committee, incumbent court lawyers 6. MCLE Form No. 13 Certificate of Compliance
who have availed of the Philippine Judicial Academy programs of and
continuing judicial education. (c) direct the Office of the Clerk of Court to cause the publication of
the aforecited provisions of Bar Matter No. 850 and its Implementing
d. xxx Regulations and the MCLE Forms for two (2) consecutive weeks in a
e. xxx newspaper of general circulation.
f. xxx
g. xxx.cralaw Very truly yours,
3) Section 12, MCLE Implementing Regulations
Section 12. Compliance Procedures LUZVIMINDA D. PUNO
a. xxx, Clerk of Court
b. xxx,
c. xxx, By:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
d. xxx,
e. A member who is in non-compliance at the end of the compliance Assistant Clerk of Court
period shall pay a non-compliance fee of P1,000.00 and shall be listed
as a delinquent member of IBP Board of Governors upon the
B.M. No. 1922 June 3, 2008 to REQUIRE practicing members of the bar
RE. NUMBER AND DATE OF MCLE to INDICATE in all pleadings filed before the courts or
CERTIFICATE OF quasi-judicial bodies, the number and date of issue of their
COMPLETION/EXEMPTION REQUIRED MCLE Certificate of Compliance or Certificate of Exemption,
IN ALL PLEADINGS/MOTIONS as may be applicable, for the immediately preceding
compliance period. Failure to disclose the required
information would cause the dismissal of the case and the
Republic of the Philippines expunction of the pleadings from the records.
Manila The New Rule shall take effect sixty (60) days after its
publication in a newspaper of general circulation." Caprio-
B.M. No. 1922 June 3, 2008 Morales Velasco, Jr., Nachura, JJ., on official leave.
Sirs/Mesdames: Clerk of Court

Quoted hereunder, for your information is a resolution of the

Court En Banc dated June 3, 2008

"Bar Matter No. 1922. Re: Recommendation of the

Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Board to
Indicate in All Pleadings Filed with the Courts the Counsels
MCLE Certificate of Compliance or Certificate of Exemption.
The Court Resolved to NOTE the Letter, dated May 2,
2008, of Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura,
Chairperson, Committee on Legal Education and Bar Matters,
informing the Court of the diminishing interest of the
members of the Bar in the MCLE requirement program.

The Court further Resolved, upon the recommendation of the

Committee on Legal Education and Bar Matters,
Presiding Judge, Regional
Complainant, (Formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 07-2664RTJ)
Trial Court, Malabang,
Lanao del Sur, Branch 12,
Respondent. Promulgated:
February 23, 2009
- v e r s u s - TINGA,**

VELASCO, JR.,* In a complaint dated April 30, 2007, complainant Dr. Edna
NACHURA, S.V. Ogka Benito, then acting mayor of the Municipality of

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, Balabagan, Lanao del Sur, charged respondent Judge Rasad G.
Balindong of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Malabang, Lanao del
Sur, Branch 12, with gross ignorance of the law.
In compliance with the decision of the Ombudsman, the Regional
Complainant alleged that on May 3, 2005, she filed
Secretary of the DILG-ARMM issued Department Order (D.O.) No.
administrative and criminal complaints against Mamarinta G.
2006-38 dated September 1, 2006 implementing said
Macabato, then municipal treasurer of Balabagan, Lanao del Sur,
decision.[4] Due to the suspension of Mayor Sampiano,
for grave misconduct in the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao
complainant was sworn in as acting mayor.[5]
(Ombudsman) docketed as OMB-M-A-05-175-E. On September
15, 2005, the Ombudsman impleaded then Mayor Hadji Amer R.
Sampiano as co-respondent. Complainant claimed that these Meanwhile, on September 4, 2006, respondents in OMB-M-A-05-
respondents refused to pay her salary as vice mayor since July 1, 175-E filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition[6] in the RTC of
2004 despite repeated demands.[1] Malabang, Lanao del Sur, Branch 12. The petition was raffled to
the sala of herein respondent and docketed as Special Civil Action
(SCA) No. 12-181. Their prayer was to annul and set aside D.O.
On May 16, 2006, the Ombudsman rendered a decision in
No. 2006-38 of the DILG-ARMM and prohibit its
that case finding respondents therein guilty of conduct
prejudicial to the best interest of the service and imposing on
them the penalty of suspension from office without pay for a
period of nine months. It further directed the Regional On the same date, respondent issued an order granting a
Secretary[2] of the Department of the Interior and Local temporary restraining order (TRO) effective for 72 hours
Government, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DILG- directing the Regional Secretary of the DILG-ARMM to cease,
ARMM) in Cotabato City to immediately implement the desist and refrain from implementing the D.O.[8]
In an order dated September 6, 2006, respondent October 5, 2006 decision. Hence, she submitted that respondent
extended the TRO for a period of 20 days.[9] should be administratively disciplined because of his gross
ignorance of the law which prejudiced the rights of her
constituents in Balabagan, Lanao del Sur. [13]
On September 25, 2006, respondent issued another order
for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction directing the
Regional Secretary to cease, desist and refrain from
Respondent countered that he issued the orders in good
implementing D.O. No. 2006-38.
faith. He was not moved by corrupt motives or improper
On October 5, 2006, respondent rendered an considerations. This could be shown by the fact that complainant
order/decision annulling D.O. No. 2006-38.[10] This decision and filed this complaint only after eight months from the resolution
the writ of preliminary injunction were annulled by the Court of of SCA No. 12-181. Considering that complainant failed to
Appeals (CA) in its February 8, 2007 decision.[11] The CA held that establish bad faith or malevolence on his part, the complaint
the RTC had no jurisdiction over the petition filed by the against him should be dismissed.
respondents in OMB-M-A-05-175-E pursuant to Sections 14 and
27 of Republic Act No. (RA) 6770[12] (Ombudsman Act of 1989)
The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), in its evaluation
and Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the
dated September 24, 2007, found that the pertinent provisions
Ombudsman, as amended by Administrative Order No. 17-03.
of the law were clear. It stated that:
the issuance of a TRO and writ of preliminary
Complainant asserted that, despite the clear provisions of injunction is not a mere deficiency in prudence, or
lapse of judgment by respondent judge but is a blatant
the law and procedure, respondent took cognizance of SCA No. disregard of basic rules constitutive of gross ignorance
12-181 and issued the TROs, writ of preliminary injunction and of the law. In the first place, respondent Judge should
have refrained from taking cognizance of the said
ARMM and prohibit its implementation.Since D.O. No. 2006-38
special civil action when it was raffled to his court, he
ought to know this, yet he did otherwise. was issued merely to implement the decision of the Ombudsman,
respondents in OMB-M-A-05-175-E were actually questioning
this decision and seeking to enjoin its implementation by filing a
It recommended that respondent be held administratively liable
petition for certiorari and prohibition in the RTC.
for gross ignorance of the law and fined P21,000.

We agree with the findings and evaluation of the OCA but we

This is not allowed under the law, rules and
modify the penalty.
jurisprudence. Under Sections 14 and 27 of RA 6770, no court
A patent disregard of simple, elementary and well-known
shall hear any appeal or application for a remedy against the
rules constitutes gross ignorance of the law. Judges are
decision or findings of the Ombudsman, except the Supreme
expected to exhibit more than just cursory acquaintance with
Court, on a pure question of law.
laws and procedural rules. They must know the law and apply
it properly in good faith.[17] They are likewise expected to keep
Section 14. Restrictions. No writ of injunction
abreast of prevailing jurisprudence.[18] For a judge who is plainly shall be issued by any court to delay an investigation
ignorant of the law taints the noble office and great privilege being conducted by the Ombudsman under this Act,
vested in him. Respondents gross ignorance of the law unless there is a prima facie evidence that the subject
matter of the investigation is outside the jurisd7iction
constituted inexcusable incompetence which was anathema to of the Office of the Ombudsman.
the effective dispensation of justice.
No court shall hear any appeal or application
for remedy against the decision or findings of the
Ombudsman, except the Supreme Court, on [a] pure
In SCA No. 12-181, respondents in OMB-M-A-05-175-E question of law.
sought to annul and set aside D.O. No. 2006-38 of the DILG-
xxx xxx xxx The above rules may be amended or modified
by the Office of the Ombudsman as the interest of
justice may require.
Section 27. Effectivity and Finality of Decisions.
(1) All provisionary orders of the Office of the
Ombudsman are immediately effective and executory.
A motion for reconsideration of any order, directive or However, in Fabian v. Desierto,[19] we enunciated the rule
decision of the Office of the Ombudsman must be filed that appeals from the decisions of the Ombudsman in
within five (5) days after receipt of written notice and
administrative disciplinary cases should be taken to the
shall be entertained only on any of the following
grounds: CA. Following our ruling in Fabian, the Ombudsman issued

xxx xxx xxx Administrative Order No. 17[20] amending Section 7, Rule III[21] of

Findings of fact by the Office of the

Administrative Order No. 07:[22]
Ombudsman when supported by substantial evidence
are conclusive. Any order, directive or decision
Section 7. Finality and execution of decision.
imposing the penalty of public censure or reprimand,
Where the respondent is absolved of the charge, and
suspension of not more than one (1) month's salary
in case of conviction where the penalty imposed is
shall be final and unappealable.
public censure or reprimand, suspension of not more
In all administrative disciplinary cases, than one month, or a fine not equivalent to one month
orders, directives, or decisions of the Office of the salary, the decision shall be final, executory and
Ombudsman may be appealed to the Supreme Court unappealable. In all other cases, the decision may be
by filing a petition for certiorari within ten (10) days appealed to the Court of Appeals on a verified
from receipt of the written notice of the order, petition for review under the requirements and
directive or decision or denial of the motion for conditions set forth in Rule 43 of the Rules of Court,
reconsideration in accordance with Rule 45 of the within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the written
Rules of Court. Notice of the Decision or Order denying the Motion
for Reconsideration.
An appeal shall not stop the decision from being
Respondents defense of good faith has no merit. Indeed,
executory. In case the penalty is suspension or
removal and the respondent wins such appeal, he shall good faith and absence of malice, corrupt motives or improper
be considered as having been under preventive considerations, are sufficient defenses in which a judge charged
suspension and shall be paid the salary and such other
with ignorance of the law can find refuge.[24] However
emoluments that he did not receive by reason of the
suspension or removal.
good faith in situations of fallible discretion
inheres only within the parameters of tolerable
A decision of the Office of the Ombudsman in
judgment and does not apply where the issues are so
administrative cases shall be executed as a matter of
simple and the applicable legal principles evident and
course. The Office of the Ombudsman shall ensure
basic as to be beyond possible margins of error.[25]
that the decision shall be strictly enforced and
properly implemented. The refusal or failure by any
officer without just cause to comply with an order of
the Office of the Ombudsman to remove, suspend, If ordinary people are presumed to know the law,[26] judges are
demote, fine, or censure shall be a ground for
duty-bound to actually know and understand it. A contrary rule
disciplinary action against said officer. (Emphasis
supplied) will not only lessen the faith of the people in the courts but will
also defeat the fundamental role of the judiciary to render justice
and promote the rule of law.

These provisions clearly show that respondent had no

jurisdiction to take cognizance of the petition and to issue his Gross ignorance of the law or procedure is a serious charge

subsequent orders. He proceeded against settled doctrine, an act under Section 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, as amended by

constituting gross ignorance of the law or procedure.[23] A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC,[27]punishable by either dismissal from
service, suspension or a fine of more than P20,000 but not ethics of the judicial office tends to diminish the peoples respect
exceeding P40,000.[28] Since this is respondents first offense, we for the law and legal processes.[32] He also fails to observe and
deem it proper to impose upon him a fine of P30,000. maintain the esteem due to the courts and to judicial
officers.[33] Thus, respondent violated Canons 1 and 11 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR):
Members of the bench are enjoined to behave at all times
in a way that promotes public confidence in the integrity and
Canon 1. A lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey
impartiality of the judiciary.[29]Respondent's act of taking
the laws of the land and promote respect for law and
cognizance of a case which was plainly not within his courts legal processes.
jurisdiction failed to meet the high standards of judicial conduct.

xxx xxx xxx

Pursuant to A.M. No. 02-9-02-SC,[30] this administrative
case against respondent as a judge, based on grounds which are Canon 11. A lawyer shall observe and maintain the
also grounds for disciplinary action against members of the Bar, respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and
should insist on similar conduct by others. (Emphasis
shall be considered as disciplinary proceedings against such judge supplied)
as a member of the Bar.[31]

When respondent entertained SCA No. 12-181, issued a

TRO and writ of preliminary injunction and subsequently granted
Respondents gross ignorance of the law also runs counter
the petition, he acted contrary to law, rules and jurisprudence. In
to Canons 5 and 6 of the CPR:
doing so, he consented to the filing of an unlawful suit, in
violation of the Lawyers Oath. A judge who falls short of the
Canon 5. A lawyer shall keep abreast of legal
WHEREFORE, Rasad G. Balindong, Presiding Judge of the
developments, participate in continuing legal
education programs, support efforts to achieve high Regional Trial Court, Malabang, Lanao del Sur, Branch 12 is
standards in law schools as well as in the practical hereby found GUILTY of gross ignorance of the law. He
training of law students and assist in disseminating
is FINED P30,000.
information regarding the law and jurisprudence.

Respondent is further hereby FINED P10,000 for his

Canon 6. These Canons shall apply to lawyers violation of the Lawyers Oath and Canons 1, 5, 6 and 11 of the
in government service in the discharge of their Code of Professional Responsibility.
official tasks. (Emphasis supplied)

He is STERNLY WARNED that the commission of the same

Judges should be well-informed of existing laws, recent or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.
amendments and current jurisprudence, in keeping with their
sworn duty as members of the bar (and bench) to keep abreast
Let this resolution be attached to the personal files of
of legal developments.
respondent in the Office of the Court Administrator and the
Office of the Bar Confidant.
For such violation of the Lawyers Oath and Canons 1, 5, 6
and 11 of the CPR, respondent is fined in the amount
of P10,000.[34]
FIRST DIVISION contained in the Joint Complaint-Affidavit for Disbarment[1] filed
by the spouses David W. Williams and Marisa B. Williams.

SPOUSES DAVID and A.C. No. 6353

MARISA WILLIAMS, It appears that respondent is the counsel of record of the
plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 13443[2] pending before the Regional
Trial Court, Branch 33, DumagueteCity where complainants are
PANGANIBAN, C.J., Chairperson,
YNARES-SANTIAGO, the defendants. According to the complainant-spouses, Marisa
- versus - AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, Williams bought the lot subject of the controversy. A Transfer
CALLEJO, SR., and Certificate of Title (TCT) was then issued in her favor, stating that
CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ. she is Filipino, married to David W. Williams, an American
citizen.[3] On January 8, 2004, respondent charged her with
ATTY. RUDY T. ENRIQUEZ, Promulgated: falsification of public documents before the Office of the City
Respondent. Prosecutor of Dumaguete City. The complaint was docketed as
February 27, 2006
I.S. No. 2004-34.[4]
RESOLUTION The spouses Williams further alleged, thus:

CALLEJO, SR., J.: 21. That, in malicious violation of the rules

governing the practice of law, Attorney Rudy T.
Enriquez cited outdated material in his complaint-
affidavit (Annex A-1) and in his comments to counter-
Atty. Rudy T. Enriquez stands charged with unlawful, affidavit (Annex A-2). He then knowingly applied this
dishonest, immoral and deceitful acts in violation of the Code of stale law in a perverse fashion to argue that Marisa
Professional Responsibility and the Canons of Professional Ethics, Batacan Williams automatically lost her Filipino
and with conduct unbecoming an attorney. The charges are citizenship when she married an American, and was
thus prohibited to own land in the Philippines,
thereby making her guilty of falsification in the Deed mere tactic to divert attention from the criminal charges against
she executed to buy property in Negros Oriental. the complainants, and that the charges against him were bereft
of any factual basis.

2.2. That in paragraph #1 of her counter-

affidavit (Annex A-2) Marisa cites Article IV, Section 4 On December 1, 2004, the case was referred to the
of the 1987 Constitution, which provides that she Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report
would not lose her citizenship when she married an and recommendation.[8] Forthwith, the IBP Commission on Bar
American unless she renounced it in a specific act. Discipline scheduled the case for mandatory conference/hearing.
However, only the respondent appeared. The parties were then
directed to submit their verified position papers.
2.3 That, in reply, Attorney Enriquez, quotes
more outdated law, declaring that her act of marrying
her husband was equivalent to renouncing her In their Position Paper, complainants claimed that
citizenship. He also doggedly attempts to show that respondent had maliciously and knowingly filed fabricated cases
the 1987 Constitution supports his position, not against them and that his acts were forms of attempted
Marisas (Annex A-4).[5] extortion. They also adopted their joint complaint-affidavit by
way of incorporation, along with their other pleadings.

Complainants pointed out that the respondent is a retired For his part, respondent maintained that complainant
judge, who knows that the false charge (that Marisa Williams is Marisa Williams was no longer a citizen of the Republic of
an American) will not prevail in the end.[6] the Philippines as a result of her marriage to David Williams.

In his Comments by Way of Motion to In her Report and Recommendation dated June 10, 1995,
Dismiss,[7] respondent enumerated matters which to his mind Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala ruled that respondent
were evidence of the acts of falsification of complainant Marisa was guilty of gross ignorance of the law and should be suspended
Williams. He insisted that the complaint for disbarment was a for six (6) months. The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline adopted
the foregoing recommendation in its Resolution No. XVII-2005- the dynamic movements of the law and
114 dated October 22, 2005, with the modification that jurisprudence. He must acquaint himself at least with
respondent be reprimanded, with a warning and advice to study the newly promulgated laws, the recent decisions of
each and every opinion he may give to his clients. the Supreme Court and of the significant decisions of
the Court of Appeals. There are other executive
orders, administrative circulars, regulations and other
The Court agrees that respondent is administratively liable rules promulgated by other competent authorities
for his actuations. As found by the Investigating Commissioner: engaged in the administration of justice. The lawyers
life is one of continuous and laborious study,
otherwise, his skill and knowledge of the law and
There is no evidence shown by respondent that related disciplines will lag behind and become obscure
complainant Marisa Bacatan-Williams has renounced due to obsoleteness (Canon 5, Code of Professional
her Filipino citizenship except her Certificate of Responsibility.)[9]
Marriage, which does not show that she has
automatically acquired her husbands citizenship upon
her marriage to him. The cases cited by respondent are
not applicable in this case as it is clear that they refer
to aliens acquiring lands in the Philippines. As pointed out by the Investigating Commissioner, Canon
5 of the Code of Professional Responsibility requires that a lawyer
be updated in the latest laws and jurisprudence.[10] Indeed, when
The Bar has been integrated for the attainment the law is so elementary, not to know it or to act as if one does
of the following objectives: (a) elevate the standards not know it constitutes gross ignorance of the law.[11] As a retired
of the legal profession, (b) improve the administration judge, respondent should have known that it is his duty to keep
of justice, and (c) to enable the bar to discharge its himself well-informed of the latest rulings of the Court on the
public responsibility more effectively (In re: issues and legal problems confronting a client.[12] In this case, the
Integration of the Bar of the Philippines, 49 SCRA 22). law he apparently misconstrued is no less than the
In line with these objectives of the Integrated Constitution,[13] the most basic law of the land.[14] Implicit in a
Bar, lawyers must keep themselves abreast of legal lawyers mandate to protect a clients interest to the best of
developments. To do this, the lawyer must walk with his/her ability and with utmost diligence is the duty to keep
abreast of the law and legal developments, and participate in
continuing legal education programs.[15] Thus, in championing
WHEREFORE, for gross ignorance of the law, Atty. Rudy T.
the interest of clients and defending cases, a lawyer must not
Enriquez is REPRIMANDED and ADVISED to carefully study the
only be guided by the strict standards imposed by the lawyers
opinions he may give to his clients. He is STERNLY WARNED that
oath, but should likewise espouse legally sound arguments for
a repetition of a similar act shall be dealt with more severely.
clients, lest the latters cause be dismissed on a technical
ground.[16] Ignorance encompasses both substantive and SO ORDERED.
procedural laws.[17]

We find too harsh the recommended penalty of the ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.
Investigating Commissioner. It must be stressed that the power
to disbar or suspend must be exercised with great caution. Only Associate Justice
in a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the standing
and character of a lawyer as an officer of the Court and member
of the bar will disbarment or suspension be imposed as a
penalty.[18] Pursuant to the IBP Commission on Bar Disciplines
Guidelines for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions,[19] and considering
further that this is respondents first infraction, we find that the WE CONCUR:
penalty of reprimand as recommended by the IBP Commission on
Bar Discipline, will suffice.

We likewise note that in their pleadings in this case, the

parties repeatedly invoked their arguments in their pending ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
cases below. Thus, we find it unnecessary to rule over such Chief Justice
arguments, which have yet to be determined on the merits in the Chairperson
courts a quo.