You are on page 1of 35

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. COURT VISIT

REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASAY CITY


II. QUASI-JUDICIAL COURT VISIT
THE INSURANCE COMMISSION
A. THE INSURANCE COMMISSION

The Insurance Commission considered to be a quasi-judicial agency was the group’s chosen
entity to pay a visit to The insurance commission is found at 1071 United Nations Ave, Ermita,
Manila, Metro Manila.

At present, the
Insurance
Commissioner is
Atty. Dennis B.
Funa duly
appointed by
President,
Rodrigo Roa
Duterte. The
said
Commission is
located in Manila
where it is
housed in a
large
building/infrastructure.

First impressions wise, the Commission is easily accessible to the public. Inside, the office was
fully furnished capable of accommodating employees as well as guests of the Commissioner.
Several monitors were also placed therein that display important announcements as well as
instructions to follow if you’re there for an official visit or for business purposes.

As this was the group’s first time visiting the Insurance Commission, the place was grand. The
area was spacious enough to accommodate the people coming and going. Upon arriving, the
group were taken into the conference room where Insurance Commissioner Funa hold his
meetings with various State officials. Said conference room was well lit and where the group
somehow felt that they were there for an important meeting with the Commissioner.

The room displays the seal of the office as


well as it carried the flag of the
Philippines. The table inside the
conference room was huge for
accommodating a large number of people.
Also worth mentioning were the walls
where it was lined with portraits of various
public officials that became insurance
commissioners throughout history such as
the distinguished Juan Ponce Enrile.

The group were honoured to be graced


with the presence of Commissioner Funa
as he was able to take the time to pay
them a visit and to talk to us for a little bit.
He was able to talk to them about his
journey from when he was still a law
student up to where he is now. He also
mentioned that as an author of several
books used by students and taking into consideration as to how being the commissioner takes a
lot of his time, he only finds time to write his books at 2 or 3 in the morning. This is usually the
time that he gets to focus on writing his book, gather several references for his book and think
about as to how to write that will be understood by its readers.

B. POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE COMMISSION

Mandate
To regulate and supervise the insurance, pre-need, and HMO industries in accordance with the
provisions of the Insurance Code, as amended, Pre-Need Code of the Philippines, and
Executive Order No. 192 (s. 2015)
RA No. 10607 entitled, “AN ACT
STRENGTHENING THE INSURANCE
INDUSTRY, FURTHER AMENDING
PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 612,
OTHERWISE KNOWN AS “THE
INSURANCE CODE”, AS AMENDED
BY PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NOS.
1141, 1280, 1455, 1460, 1814 AND
1981, AND BATAS PAMBANSA BLG.
874, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES”;
otherwise known as The Insurance
Code, as amended.

RA No. 9829 entitled, “AN ACT


ESTABLISHING THE PRE-NEED
CODE OF THE PHILlPPlNES”;
otherwise known as the “Pre-Need
Code of the Philippines”.

EO No. 192 (s. 2015) entitled, “TRANSFERRING THE REGULATION AND SUPERVISION
OVER HEALTH MAINTENANCE ORGANIZATIONS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
TO THE INSURANCE COMMISSION, DIRECTING THE IMPLEMENTATION THEREOF AND
FOR OTHER PURPOSES”

OBJECTIVES
To promote growth and financial stability of insurance, pre-need, and HMO companies

To professionalize insurance, pre-need, and HMO services, and develop insurance, pre-need,
and HMO consciousness among the general populace

To establish a sound national insurance market


To safeguard the rights and interest of the insuring public, pre-need and HMO customers
Functions
Promulgation and implementation of policies, rules and regulations governing the operations of
entities engaged in insurance,
pre-need, and HMO activities as
well as benevolent features

Licensing of insurance,
reinsurance companies, its
intermediaries, mutual benefit
associations, trusts for charitable
uses, pre-need companies, pre-
need intermediaries, and HMO
companies
Conducting insurance agent’s
examinations, as well as
processing of reinsurance treaties
and request for investments of
insurance companies

Examination/verification of the
financial condition and methods of
doing business of entities
engaged in insurance business,
pre-need, mutual benefit associations, trusts for charitable
uses, and HMO companies

Evaluation and preparation of statistical reports, studies, researches, annual reports, and
position papers relative to insurance, pre-need matters, and HMO matters
Review of premium rates imposed by life and non-life companies, mutual benefit associations;
statistical reports of adjusters to determine compliance with established standards.
Adjudication of claims and complaints involving loss, damage or liability incurred by an insurer
under any kind of policy or contract of insurance or suretyship;
Review and approval of all life and non-life policies, pre-need, and HMO plans before sale to
prospective clients.

Administrative and Adjudicatory Powers

“SEC. 437. The Insurance Commissioner shall be appointed by the President of the Republic of
the Philippines for a term of six (6) years without reappointment and who shall serve as such
until the successor shall have been appointed and qualified. If the Insurance Commissioner is
removed before the expiration of his term of office, the reason for the removal must be
published.

“The Insurance Commissioner shall have the duty to see that all laws relating to insurance,
insurance companies and other insurance matters, mutual benefit associations, and trusts for
charitable uses are faithfully executed and to perform the duties imposed upon him by this
Code, and shall, notwithstanding any existing laws to the contrary, have sole and exclusive
authority to regulate the issuance and sale of variable contracts as defined in Section 238
hereof and to provide for the licensing of persons selling such contracts, and to issue such
reasonable rules and regulations governing the same.

“The Commissioner may issue such rulings, instructions, circulars, orders and decisions as may
be deemed necessary to secure the enforcement of the provisions of this Code, to ensure the
efficient regulation of the insurance industry in accordance with global best practices and to
protect the insuring public. Except as otherwise specified, decisions made by the Commissioner
shall be appealable to the Secretary of Finance.

SEC. 438. In addition to the administrative sanctions provided elsewhere in this Code, the
Insurance Commissioner is hereby authorized, at his discretion, to impose upon insurance
companies, their directors and/or officers and/or agents, for any willful failure or refusal to
comply with, or violation of any provision of this Code, or any order, instruction, regulation, or
ruling of the Insurance Commissioner, or any commission or irregularities, and/or conducting
business in an unsafe or unsound manner as may be determined by the Insurance
Commissioner, the following:“(a) Fines not less than Five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) and not
more than Two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00); and

“(b) Suspension, or after due hearing, removal of directors and/or officers and/or agents.

“SEC. 439. The Commissioner shall have the power to adjudicate claims and complaints
involving any loss, damage or liability for which an insurer may be answerable under any kind of
policy or contract of insurance, or for which such insurer may be liable under a contract of
suretyship, or for which a reinsurer may be sued under any contract of reinsurance it may have
entered into; or for which a mutual benefit association may be held liable under the membership
certificates it has issued to its members, where the amount of any such loss, damage or liability,
excluding interest, cost and attorney’s fees, being claimed or sued upon any kind of insurance,
bond, reinsurance contract, or membership certificate does not exceed in any single claim Five
million pesos (P5,000,000.00).

“The power of the Commissioner does not cover the relationship between the insurance
company and its agents/brokers but is limited to adjudicating claims and complaints filed by the
insured against the insurance company.
“The Commissioner may authorize any officer or group of officers under him to conduct
investigation, inquiry and/or hearing and decide claims and he may issue rules governing the
conduct of adjudication and resolution of cases. The Rules of Court shall have suppletory
application.

“The party filing an action pursuant to the provisions of this section thereby submits his person
to the jurisdiction of the Commissioner. The Commissioner shall acquire jurisdiction over the
person of the impleaded party or parties in accordance with and pursuant to the provisions of
the Rules of Court.

“The authority to adjudicate granted to the Commissioner under this section shall be concurrent
with that of the civil courts, but the filing of a complaint with the Commissioner shall preclude the
civil courts from taking cognizance of a suit involving the same subject matter.
“Any decision, order or ruling rendered by the Commissioner after a hearing shall have the force
and effect of a judgment. Any party may appeal from a final order, ruling or decision of the
Commissioner by filing with the Commissioner within thirty (30) days from receipt of copy of
such order, ruling or decision a notice of appeal to the Court of Appeals in the manner provided
for in the Rules of Court for appeals from the Regional Trial Court to the Court of Appeals.

“For the purpose of any proceeding under this section, the Commissioner, or any officer thereof
designated by him is empowered to administer oaths and affirmation, subpoena witnesses,
compel their attendance, take evidence, and require the production of any books, papers,
documents, or contracts or other records which are relevant or material to the inquiry.

“A full and complete record shall be kept of all proceedings had before the Commissioner, or the
officers thereof designated by him, and all testimony shall be taken down and transcribed by a
stenographer appointed by the Commissioner.

“In order to promote party autonomy in the resolution of cases, the Commissioner shall establish
a system for resolving cases through the use of alternative dispute resolution.

“In addition to the foregoing, the Commissioner shall have the following powers and functions:

“(a) Formulate policies and recommendations on issues concerning the insurance industry,
advise Congress and other government agencies on all aspects of the insurance industry and
propose legislation and amendments thereto;

“(b) Approve, reject, suspend or revoke licenses or certificates of registration provided for by this
Code;

“(c) Impose sanctions for the violation of laws and the rules, regulations and orders issued
pursuant thereto;

“(d) Prepare, approve, amend or repeal rules, regulations and orders, and issue opinions and
provide guidance on and supervise compliance with such rules, regulations and orders;
“(e) Enlist the aid and support of, and/or deputize any and all enforcement agencies of the
government in the implementation of its powers and functions under this Code;

“(f) Issue cease and desist orders to prevent fraud or injury to the insuring public;

“(g) Punish for contempt of the Commissioner, both direct and indirect, in accordance with the
pertinent provisions of and penalties prescribed by the Rules of Court;

“(h) Compel the officers of any registered insurance corporation or association to call meetings
of stockholders or members thereof under its supervision;

“(i) Issue subpoena duces tecum and summon witnesses to appear in any proceeding of the
Commission and, in appropriate cases, order the examination, search and seizure of all
documents, papers, files and records, tax returns, and books of accounts of any entity or person
under investigation as may be necessary for the proper disposition of the cases before it,
subject to the provisions of existing laws;

“(j) Suspend or revoke, after proper notice and hearing, the license or certificate of authority of
any entity or person under its regulation, upon any of the grounds provided by law;
“(k) Conduct an examination to determine compliance with laws and regulations if the
circumstances so warrant as determined by appropriate rules and regulations;

“(l) Investigate not oftener than once a year from the last date of examination to determine
whether an institution is conducting its business on a safe and sound basis: Provided, That, the
deficiencies/irregularities found by or discovered by an audit shall be immediately addressed;

“(m) Inquire into the solvency and liquidity of the institutions under its supervision and enforce
prompt corrective action;

“(n) To retain and utilize, in addition to its annual budget, all fees, charges and other income
derived from the regulation of insurance companies and other supervised persons or entities;
“(o) To fix and assess fees, charges and penalties as the Commissioner may find reasonable in
the exercise of regulation; and

“(p) Exercise such other powers as may be provided by law as well as those which may be
implied from, or which are necessary or incidental to the express powers granted the
Commission to achieve the objectives and purposes of this Code.

Procedure of Hearings in the Commission

Pre Trial and Amicable Settlement

Sec. 1. Pre-trial Conference — In any action, the Commission shall direct the parties and their
counsel before the actual hearing to appear before him for a pre-trial conference to consider:
(a) the possibility of an amicable settlement;
(b) the simplification of the issues;
(c) the necessity or desirability of amendment to the pleadings;
(d) the possibility of obtaining admission on stipulation of facts;
(e) the exchange and acceptance of service of exhibits to be offered in evidence;
(f) the imitation of the number of witnesses;
(g) the admissibility and relevance of evidence proposed to be submitted by the parties;
(h) such other matters as may aid in the just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of the case.

All the parties and their attorneys shall attend the pre-trial conference. The presence of a party
is indispensable unless his counsel is authorized to enter into agreement on any or all the above
matters. The parties shall inform each other of the nature and character of evidence they
propose to offer, indicating the purpose of each item of evidence.

Sec. 2. Records of Pre-trial Conference. — After the pre-trial conference, the Commission shall
issue an order which recites the action taken thereat, the amendments allowed on the
pleadings, and/or the agreements made by the parties as to any of the matters considered.
Such order shall limit the issues for the formal hearing to these not disposed of by admissions
and agreements of the parties and when entered, shall serve as the guide in the subsequent
course of action or hearing unless modified before the formal hearing to prevent manifest
injustice.

Sec. 3. Amicable Settlement. — Unless it shall be prejudicial to public interest or to third parties,
the Insurance Commission shall endeavor to effect an amicable settlement of the case at any
stage of the proceedings, provided it shall not be contrary to any law, rule or regulation nor
against public policy. The settlement shall be reduced in writing duly signed by the parties and
their counsel, which shall be the basis of an order or decision of the Commission.

Proceedings Before the Designated Hearings

Sec. 1. Hearing Officer. — The Hearing Officer shall conduct hearings and shall be empowered
to administer oaths and affirmations, to issue subpoenas, take evidence and to compel
attendance of parties and witnesses and the production of any books, papers, correspondence,
memoranda, or other records relevant or material to the case under inquiry.

Sec. 2. Affidavits and Depositions. — Unless otherwise provided by special laws and without
prejudice to Section 12, Chapter 3, Book VII of the Administrative Code of 1987, the mandatory
use of affidavits in lieu of direct testimonies shall be required.

In any hearing, the Hearing Officer, upon appropriate order, may cause the deposition of
witnesses residing within or without the Philippines to be taken in the manner prescribed under
Rule 24 of the Rules of court. Where witnesses reside in a place distant from Manila and it
would be inconvenient and expensive for them to appear personally before the Hearing Officer,
a Municipal/Regional Trial Court Judge or any Clerk of Court may be requested to take
depositions of such witnesses in any case pending before the Commission. It shall be the duty
of the official so requested to set promptly a date or dates for the taking of such depositions,
giving timely notice to parties, and on said date to proceed to take the depositions, reducing
them in writing. After the depositions have been taken, the requested official shall certify the
correctness of the depositions thus taken and forward the same as soon as possible to the
Insurance Commission. It shall be the duty of the respective parties to furnish stenographers for
the taking and transcribing of the testimonies taken. In case there are no stenographers
available, the testimony shall be taken by such person as the Municipal/Regional Trial Court
Judge or any Clerk of Court may designate. The Hearing Officer may also request a notary
public to take the deposition in the manner herein provided.

Sec. 3. Postponement — Any motion for postponement or continuance of hearing may be


granted or denied by the Hearing Officer. Such motion, upon meritorious reason, must be filed
with the Commission and copy thereof furnished the other party at least five (5) days before the
date of hearing, otherwise, it shall not be considered; provided, however, that no more than
three (3) postponements shall be granted to any party.

Disposition of Cases

Sec. 1. Disposition of Case. — Unless a different period is fixed by special law, all contested
cases or incidents shall be decided within thirty (30) days from the date of submission for
resolution.

A case or incident is deemed submitted for resolution upon expiration of the period for filing
memorandum, position paper or last pleading required of the parties.

The Hearing Officer shall submit a draft of his resolution to the Insurance Commissioner within
twenty (20) days from date of submission of the case for resolution. The Insurance
Commissioner shall have ten (10) days from submission of the draft of the resolution to approve
the same and decide the case.

Unless otherwise provided by special laws, the parties may be required to submit in addition to
the memorandum, position paper, or last pleadings required of them, a draft of the decision they
seek, stating clearly and distinctly the facts and the law upon which it is based.

Following the termination of the hearing or trial, the Hearing Officer charged with resolving the
case may, after considering and appreciating the applicable laws, rules and regulations and the
evidence submitted, accept in whole or in part either of the parties’ draft decision or reject both.
This requirement shall likewise be applied to motions or applications for orders other than the
final judgment.
Motion for Reconsideration

Sec. 1. Motion for Reconsideration. — Only one motion for reconsideration shall be allowed
which shall be decided within fifteen (15) days from date of submission for resolution. The
motion for reconsideration may be based on any of the following specific grounds:

a) Newly discovered evidence which could not have been discovered and produced at the trial
and which if admitted, would probably alter the results. (Sec. 1, (6) Rule 37, Rev. Rules of
Court)

b) The decision is not supported by the evidence on record. (Sec. 39, (b) P.D. 807)

c) Errors of law or irregularities have been committed prejudicial to the interest of the
respondent. (Sec. 39, (b) P.D. 807)

d) Fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence which ordinary prudence could not have
guarded against and by reason of which such aggrieved party has probably been impaired of
his rights. (Sec. 1, (a) Rule 37, Rev. Rules of Court)
If the motion is denied, the movant may appeal during the remaining period for appeal reckoned
from notice of the resolution of denial. No other pleading shall be allowed other than one motion
for reconsideration and opposition thereto.

Sec. 2. Opposition to Motion for Reconsideration. — Within fifteen (15) days from receipt of a
copy of the Motion for Reconsideration, the adverse party may file his opposition thereto and
serve a copy thereof upon the movant.

Sec. 3. When Deemed Submitted. — After the opposition is filed or at the expiration of the
period for filing the same without any such opposition having been filed, the motion for
reconsideration shall be deemed submitted for resolution unless the Hearing Officer shall
consider it necessary to hear the corresponding order or notice to that effect.
Orders and Resolutions

Sec. 1. Finality of the Order or Resolution — Unless otherwise provided by special laws, any
order or resolution in the absence of appeal therefrom, shall become final and executory after
fifteen (15) days from the date of receipt thereof.

Appeals from the Order

Sec. 1. How Appeal Taken. — Any party to the contesting case affected by a final order, ruling
or resolution of the Insurance Commission may, within fifteen (15) days from receipt of such
order, ruling or resolution, file a notice of appeal and memorandum of appeal with the Secretary
of Finance, copies of which shall be served on the Insurance Commission and on the adverse
party.

C. Challenges in the Commission

When asked
about the
challenges the
Commission
faces,
Commissioner
Funa answered
that one of the
challenges in the
commission
involves the
regulation of the
industry. Not only
because
insurance is a
complicated commodity – one which not all Filipinos have a complete grasp on – it is also
because the regulations in the Insurance industry is mandated by an international body, which
makes rule formulation move slowly and on a piece-meal basis. The said organization is the
International Association of Insurance Association (IAIS), a voluntary membership-driven
standards-setting organization of insurance supervisors and regulators from over 190
jurisdictions in more than 140 countries.

Another difficulty involves the internal relations of the office. There is a lack of manpower and a
limit of the capacity of the employees. The high technicality required for the proper
implementation of the rules involving the insurance industry limits the potential pool of
employees that may be eligible to work in the Commission.

Right now, the Commission is trying to increase the capitalization requirement for companies
engaged in the insurance business. The current requirement for a company to be able to
register as an insurance company provides that the company must have at least five hundred
fifty million capital.

Even at the current value, Commissioner Funa expresses that there is hardship in
implementing such rule because there are companies engaged in the business particularly non-
life insurance companies which are family-owned and are therefore pressed for financial.
However, he provides that the planned increase of the capitalization requirement from 550
million to nine hundred million is necessary and a progressive step in ensuring the financial
stability of the companies engaged in ensuring their clients’ convenience in cases of death,
accidents, and other circumstances covered by insurance.

However, Commissioner Funa said there is a certain charm in working for the Commission.
Working in a government agency focusing on a specific service, in this case, insurance, gives
you the knowledge and experience necessary to know everything about it. Furthermore, the
insurance business has been booming for several years in the country and shows no signs of
stopping especially now that there are many insurance companies which are coming up with
affordable and beneficial insurance plans not only for the well-off businessmen or company
owners, but also for ordinary employees and even the younger generations.
As such, as future lawyers, it is important to have a good grasp on the topic of insurance and
this visit with the Insurance Commission and our conversation with Commissioner Funa opened
an array of knowledge and appreciation for the topic.
III. LAW FIRM VISIT
UNTAYAO, GARCIA, VAN HAUTE & UY LAW
FIRM
A. INTRODUCTION

“Partnering innovation and expertise to meet your legal needs”. This is the slogan of the Un
tayao Garcia Van Haute and Uy Law Firm (UGVULAW).

A law firm established


just in 2016, UGVULAW
set up their main office at
2/F Greenfield Building
Cabildo Street,
Intramuros, Manila City.
Their clients could
contact them at (02) 245-
5683 or in their official
website,
http://www.ugvlaw.com.

UGVULAW provides
professional legal service
specializing in corporate
and commercial
transactions, taxation,
immigration, labor, civil
and criminal cases, land
titles and deeds, family
relations, intellectual
property as well as
special projects invo lving
tie-up and close
coordination with government agencies and instrumentalities. The partners of
UGVULAW represent clients in various legal p roceedings, conduct legal researches, render
legal opinions, and provide legal documentation services that require the interpretation and
application of law.

Through the partners’ hard work and perseverance, UGVULAW was able to expand and
establish their secnd office in Ortigas City recently

The Office of UGVULAW

The office of
UGVULAW
in Intramuros
is just above
a cafeteria.
The bui lding
is painted
white and
UGVULAW
has its name
plate hanged
on the wall beside the stairs going to its
officeInside the office, it is noticeable that its
walls are covered with mirrors.

There are also table and sofas w here their


clients can wait while they are in line for the
consultation. The said office is also fully
furnished and airconditioned. Beside the
waiting area are the cubicles of the employees
of UGVLAW
Inside the office of Atty.
Dict is a long conference
table and his own office
table. He also displayed
UGVLAW’s first name
plate at the back wall of
his office. In a client’s
perspective, the office of
UGVLAW is cozy, neat
and organized.
B. THE PARTNERS

Atty. Dict V. Untayao

Atty. Dict Untayao or simply


Atty. “Dict”, was a graduated
from San Beda College
Mendiola with the degree of AB
Development Economics.He
was able to finish his pre law
degree with honors. In time, he
obtained his law degree in the
same institution and was a
Dean’s Lister. Eventually, Atty.
Dict was admitted to the bar in
2010.

After passing the bar, Atty. Dict


immediately worked with the
Department of Labor and
Employment (DOLE) and was
exposed to the resolution of
numerous labor disputes. In
2013, he worked with the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) where he was assigned to supervise the election in
Olongapo City, Zambales. Atty. Dict also served as a consultant at the Department of Education
(DepEd) - San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.

Atty. Dict is also a teacher. He teaches various law subjects in San Beda University, in San
Sebastian College, and in National University (NU).
Atty. Dict specializes in labor law, civil law, commercial law, election law, and immigration law.
Currently, he is taking up his Master of Laws (LLM) in Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU).

Atty. Jasyrr J. Garcia-Tiu

Atty. Jasyrr J. Garcia-Tiu, or more commonly referred to as Atty. “Jas”, is one of the Senior
Partners at Untayao Garcia Van Haute & Uy Law Offices. After attending La Consolacion
College- Manila for her secondary education, she obtained her pre-law course (AB Political
Science) from De La Salle University-Manila (DLSU) where she was a Dean’s Honor Lister. In
2010, Atty. Jas started her legal schooling at San Sebastian College-Recoletos (SSC-R), also
excelling as a student by then being a Dean’s Lister and a Legal Intern at the Sebastinian Office
of Legal Aid. Her academic load notwithstanding, she was even able to juggle law school with
work as she served as a Legal Researcher at Winluck Star Estate Corporation for four years.

The discipline and grit she has fostered within herself over the years has enabled her to become
the successful woman she is today. She has had a plethora of work experience having been the
Assistant Department Head of the City of Manila-Public Recreations Bureau and a financial
consultant at PruLife UK. At present, apart from being a beautiful mother to her only daughter,
Jaden, Atty. Jas presently is a professor of various law subjects in Philippine Women’s
University (PWU). She also specializes in criminal law, family relations, civil law, corporate law,
commercial transactions, contract review, intellectual property, and immigration law.

Atty. Donna S. Soriano-Van Haute

Another one of the Senior Partners at UGV Law Offices is Atty. Donna S. Soriano-Van Haute or
often regarded to by her colleagues as Atty. “Donna.” Also hailing from De La Salle University-
Manila (DLSU), Atty. Donna likewise took Bachelor of Arts in Political Science as her pre-law
course and was a Dean’s Honor Lister as well.

After graduating from college, she opted to attend San Beda University at Mendiola, Manila for
her legal education where she obtained her Bachelor of Laws (LLB) in 2008–all the while being
a Dean’s Lister in the College of Law. She started out as an Associate Lawyer at Kapunan
Lotilla Garcia & Castillo Law Offices and was subsequently appointed as Associate Solicitor at
the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) where she was twice promoted during her four-year
service thereat. Atty. Donna was among the the government lawyers who defended before the
Supreme Court the constitutionality of the Philippine Truth Commission, the Cybercrime
Prevention Act of 2012 and Executive Order No. 2 which recalled, withdrew and revoked about
800 midnight appointments made by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

After her stint with the government, Atty. Donna decided to go into private practice and often
handles the family and real-estate related cases in their firm because of her work experience
with the OSG. Her legal expertise includes family law, appellate law practice, criminal law,
estate law and succession, land titles and deeds, corporate and commercial law and intellectual
property law.

Atty. Vismarck S. Uy

Atty. Uy obtained his pre-law course (Legal Management) from De La Salle University-Manila
(DLSU) and completed his Bachelor of Laws in San Beda College of Law - Mendiola
(SBC). After passing the bar, he immediately joined the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) where
he gained extensive experience in litigation.

While in the government, Atty. Uy handled numerous criminal cases and provided legal
assistance to indigent clients. Atty. Uy is likewise a corporate law practitioner with expertise in
corporate governance and contract review. He served as corporate legal counsel of Araneta
Group of Companies for three years. Presently, he is the corporate legal counsel of ALN
Group of Companies and acts as internal adviser on myriad business and legal issues, including
employment issues, intellectual property issues, contractual issues, and liability issues. Atty. Uy
specializes in corporate law, taxation, real estate law, and criminal law . Aside from being a
practicing lawyer, Atty. Uy is also a licensed Real Estate Broker.
C. The Law Firm

History

A law firm is an entity formed by one or more lawyers to engage in the practice of law. Its creati
on calls for meticulous preparations in terms of experience, finances and connections. In fact,
most law firms are years in the making.

But, Untayao, Garcia, Van Haute & Uy Law firm is not your typical firm. It all started with - “Lets
take a risk while we are young!”. Driven by their passion for law and risk-taking attitude, it only
took days for these young lawyers to decide to build their own firm. Initially, it was only attorneys
Untayao, Garcia, and Van Haute who established UGVULAW. It was only later that UGVULAW
welcomed its new partner in the person of Atty. Vismarck S. Uy. The trust and confidence
between the partners are molded by their friendship established since their law school days in
San Beda. This is the reason why making such a life changing decision was not that difficult.
Each ones specialization prior to the creation of UGVULAW plays a significant role. Atty. Dict
Untayao worked at the Department of Labor to gain some exposure. He also worked at
Comelec as election officer in 2013 elections and was assigned at Olongapo City. After gaining
enough experience, he decided time to do private practice. Atty. Donna Soriano – Van Haute
had her stint as Associate lawyer at Kapunan Lotilla Garcia & Castillo Law offices before she
was appointed as Associate Solicitor at the Office of the Solicitor General.

Atty. Jas Garcia was once a director in City of Manila (recreations division). Atty. Vismarck
Uy worked at the Public Attorneys Office. He served as corporate legal counsel of Araneta
Group of Companies. Their diversified backgrounds enable their firm to do general practice.
The first year of UGVULAW was a bit of a challenge for these young and risk taker lawyers in
terms of acquiring clients. Nevertheless, with the help of their family and friends, UGVULAW
eventually established substantial referral network.

Early Years

UGVULAW has been established for two years now. The partners targeted Manila to establish
their firm. They come from different places (Makati, Quezon City, Las Piñas, and San Juan) and
it was a wise and fair decision for them to meet halfway. Manila is a familiar and laidback place
for them, as this is where their law school is situated. The parking is not expensive as well.

The partners luckily have a common friend, the owner of the building where they are renting to
house their firm at Intramuros. It helped them adjust to their expenses as a budding firm.

Untayao shared that their first year proved to be challenging. The partners were unsure whether
or not they will get any clients at that time. They were clouded with apprehensions, which was
only natural for young lawyers who ventured into something bigger than any of them combined.
Nevertheless, they were able to conquer the succeeding days, months, and years.

Atty, Untayao shared that having plenty of connections was a plus in putting up a law firm.
Further, the mental fortitude and determination of the partners to establish and work in their own
law firm cannot be discounted in its formation. And so, with their existing connections as well as
their gutsy attitude, UGVULAW flourished and became what it is now today.
Growth of The Law Firm

UGVULAW’s name in the profession grew by the power of word of mouth. Family, friends, law
school batchmates, and most especially their clients, helped them establish their reputation as a
firm. Atty. Dict shared that they indirectly post their work in social media in order to let people
within their connections to know the work that they do. They also took advantage of the fact that
most of their batchmates in law school work in the government. Given such situation, most of
the cases handled by their batchmates are referred to their law firm.

Above all else, UGVULAW


attributes its growth to the
clients themselves. “Once
satisfied ang client mo, hindi
mo mapapansin na irerefer ka
niyan sa mga friends niya”,
Atty. Dict said. One cannot
expect to have more clients if
the service of UGVULAW is
inadequate and inept.
Necessarily, service beyond
satisfaction guarantees a
firm’s continuous journey. With
its present standing, the
Untayao, Garcia, Van Haute &
Uy Law Offices evidently
delivered quality legal service
to its clients

Managing The Law Firm

Keeping the client’s trust and confidence – this is one which Atty. Dict emphasized on how they
manage UGVULAW. In maintaining the attorney-client relationship, keeping the confidentiality of
the client is very important. He added that one reason why the client hires a lawyer is for them
to have, or they need, a peace of mind. That when he seeks the lawyer’s assistance, the lawyer
will be able to help him. However, it is also important to note, according to Atty. Dict, that
lawyers are not guarantors. They should not be told that they will win the case, but at least the
lawyer will able to give the client a picture of the possible scenarios and laying down to them all
the possible remedies in respective cases. At the end of the day, the client can sleep in peace
at night knowing that his or her lawyer will that charge. “And that’s our job, tayo ang
namromroblema ng problema ng iba”, he wittingly said.

In the practice of law, and even in life, it is not always that the outcome favors us. Losing a case
is part of the game. In explaining such scenario to the client, Atty. Dict stressed that managing
the client’s expectation is the key. They explain to their clients beforehand what the situation is.
They avoid ensuring to their clients the triumph of the case and later on would eventually result
the opposite, as that will affect UGVULAW’s credibility. What they do is they directly tell their
clients that they are in a not-so-good situation [but] they will do this and that in order to
somehow provide the client possible solutions in their problem. Manage the client’s expectation,
be realistic, and do not
give them false hopes.
Atty. Dict compared a
boxing match and the
practice of law. He said
that unlike a boxing
match, in law practice, it
is not how many times a
lawyer wins a case,
what matters most is
protecting the rights of
the client in the course
of the proceedings, win
or lose, the important
thing is the lawyer was
able to safeguard the rights of the client.
UGVULAW charges their clients based on one’s capacity to pay. They can already gage such
capacity during their conversation and meetings since the client gives details about him or her
or the company. They still have a fixed rate for certain cases, but those are not fixed, meaning,
it is still negotiable especially if the client has a tight budget -- and that, he said, is one of the
beauties of having a law office of your own. They have the discretion to adjust the rates, unlike
when working for someone else wherein the lawyer is not the one who dictates the price. Atty.
Dict further shared that there are times that he wanted to help a client but the thing is he do not
own the office. Of course, it is not a pro bono, but at least he can now help by giving the client a
discount and that is also one way of helping clients with meritorious cases. After UGVULAW’s
early experiences where they have charged a client far less than their actual expenses in the
case, UGVULAW was able to established a system, through trial and error method, in such a
way that the company will still gain profit, of course to pay for UGVULAW’s usual expenses.
These expenses include operating costs, office rental, utilities, human resources, labor, office
supplies, and transportation costs although some of these like anything that has to do with the
case is chargeable to the client or what is called the out-of-pocket expenses.

In some firms, each partner has a certain percentage in the profit. In Untayao-Garcia-Van
Haute- Uy Law Office, they divide it equally and Atty. Dict cited their long-established friendship
for such arrangement. Stating further that they are comfortable with each other so they have
equal sharing.

Remarkable Case

Of the voluminous cases UGVULAW have handled, Atty. Dict highlighted this one case.
UGVULAW used to accept drug case. Their policy is actually not to take or handle drug cases,
but that one instance was because they were only requested to accept such. Atty. Dict
considered this as a very challenging case they have handled because of the current
administration’s War on Drugs, underscoring that it is not only the accused or those involved in
drugs, even the lawyers of the accused are likewise arrested. Thus, expressing his concern on
their lawyer’s safety, security, and welfare and its family which are likewise affected if handling
these certain cases.
There is another drug case that they are supposed to handle – the case of the DJ who was
arrested in The Fort BGC. Atty. Dict recalls his experience in the said case where he shared
that he went to the place after the arrest and stayed there from the wee hours in the morning
until afternoon of the same day. When he went back to their office, he and his partners
conversed and it is where they decided not to handle any drug case anymore.

D. Observations and Take Aways

With the majority of its member having no actual knowledge of the business operations and
transactions in a law firm, the group is thankful for the exciting and worthwhile activity.

Despite the fact that there are many other job options and opportunities available to a newly
admitted lawyer, the partners of UGVULAW through Atty Dict was able to prove that
establishing a law firm is a once in a lifetime experience. With the partners and clients that one
would be choosing to work with and engage respectively, the work in the law firm would
definitely hone one’s skill in the practice of law and as well as in dealing with the people.

Meanwhile, the group was not able to resist asking about Atty. Dict’s life as a Bedan law student
and how it affected the his career and so as the law firm.

The Difference of Law School and Law Practice

During the interview, the group had the opportunity to ask Atty. Dict to share his thoughts on
how different law school is from the real deal – law practice. In a student’s perspective, they
tend to think that it is just a simple formula. The students take their bachelor’s degree, study
law for four years. graduate, take the bar, pass and have the “Atty.” title.

However, Atty. Dict was able to shed some light when he said that practice in the legal world is
a totally different game. According to him, in law school students were taught with by the book
procedures, annotations from different on authors on how this provision should be applied or on
what methods should be taken.
“This is how my professor told me it should be so this is what I have to do.” But when it comes
to practice, that is when students would realize that, well, there is always a different way to do it,
and sometimes, it turns out to be the more efficient one.”

A lawyer really just have to make his way through. It is like walking a certain route everyone has
been telling him to take but once he plies to it, he will realize that there are actually detours and
shortcuts which he is allowed to take.

As Atty. Dict had put it, it is really all about “diskarte.” Even so, he reminded the group that a
lawyer should rely on strategy alone. It may be advantageous but one’s knowledge of the law, of
the basic principles and legal tenets is still the very core foundation that will help us succeed in
practice.

Advise to Aspiring lawyers

“Mag-aral kayong mabuti para pumasa sa bar!. ” Atty. Dict, wittingly said. Indeed, there is no
shortcut in fulffiling ones dream of becoming a lawyer. This is one of the priceless gems that our
group was able to gain in our law firm visit. It may not be original, but its essence is ever
timeless and timely. As struglling law students, this is the push each one needs. An
encouragement that is very grounded on reality – that it is through the bitterness of hardships
that one can truly taste the sweetness of success.

Another takeaway worth cherishing is Atty. Dict’s words of wisdom as regards direction in ones
profession. He said, “Once you pass the bar, try to reflect on yourself. Do you want to work for
the government? To be in private practice? To enggage in business? You have to know what
your heart desires. Kasi if you are not enjoying in what you are doing, chance are you will not be
successful. For as long as nag eenjoy ka sa ginagawa mo, you’ll never go wrong. you will not
feel that you are working. If ang concentration mo ay puro trabaho lang, you will feel
burdensome. Pag ineenjoy mo ginagawa mo, mafefeel mo ang sense of fulfillment.”

“Take the plunge!”, said Atty. Dict. He wants lawyers to take advantage of their youth. Starting a
law firm at a more mature age might be a little too late. He pointed out that others would say
that one needs to be a an Associate first in a big law form before building a law office. Atty. Dict
thinks otherwise; “yung mga matututunan ko dun na experience, kaya ko rin naman na
matutunan on my own”. Working for someone else is good as well because a mentor will guide
you along the way. But personal experiences matter.

Atty. Dict took pride in being a Bedan. He mentioned that they only hire Bedan lawyers because
the quality of work is evident in the output. He further shared that having various connections is
an advantage. It helps if one is an extrovert in putting up a law office.

In establishing a law office, it is not enough that the lawyer is excellent. A good lawyer must also
be a good entrepreneur. Atty. Dict said that what would practically be running is a business,
though not essentially. One still needs to earn in order to survive. And the partners must make
sure that they are able to manage their expenses in UGVULAW in order to run efficiently and
bring the services they offer to their clients.

All of the partners are Bedan lawyers, and they only accept associates in their firm who are also
graduates of San Beda. Atty. Dict shares the reason for such firm’s policy and what he thinks as
the leverage of a Bedan Lawyer.

Aside from being good-looking, he humorously started, graduates of San Beda are very
hardworking and not mediocre in terms of performance. He gave credit to the training that a
Bedan Lawyer got from the school. Having very challenging rules – such as the need to
maintain the QPI, and the two-flunk rule - it really makes a difference since one earned his or
her degree in the very hard way, unlike to some schools, he further stated, that it is easier to
pass the subjects. In San Beda, he believes that there is a certain degree of difficulty to pass,
that is why there is a rewarding feeling. So even after graduation, the student was able to carry
over such attitude – you have to work hard, then the reward will follow – when he is already
working. A Bedan Lawyer is very well rounded. Also, Atty. Dict highlighted a Bedista’s attitude of
being sympathetic and concern to other people. There is compassion to the clients, that the
Bedan Lawyers go extra mile to ensure that the client’s rights are protected.

In a nutshell, nothing can still replace studying and hard work as the main formula to achieve
one’s goal as a Bedan lawyer. Without resilience in studying, coupled with faith in God, a law
student in the prestigious San Beda University College of law would never be able to hurdle the
daily challenges and move forward.

Nevertheless, a Bedan law student is never alone as he face his challenges. Indeed, the stories
of Atty. Dict, Atty. Jas, Atty. Van haute and Atty. Uy would really inspire anyone who aspires for
the dream to become a Bedan lawyer someday.