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A.Y. 2018-2019

Assistant Solicitor General
Marissa B. Dela Cruz-Galandines
3G A.Y. 2018 - 2019


ANDAL, Koreen
BALOLOY, Ma. Lalaine
CACHO, Camille
CASTILLO, Frances Gail
CHAVEZ, Hans Christian
DUNHAM, Katrina
EDNALAGA, Maria Eloisa
GADDUANG, Francheska
GEMPIS, Giancarlo
GERONIMO, Aira Marielle
HONRALES, Kimberly Ann
JAVIER, Therese Fatima
LIBIRAN, Jared Ruiz
MARASIGAN, Shiela Marie
MENDIOLA, Glenn Mikko
OLABRE, Ma. Aleli
PANTINO, Junna Lynne
PERALTA, Earl James
PEREZ, Maria Celina
REYES, Earl James
SALAMAT, Chrizller Meg
SESE, Nathalie Abigail
TECSON, Mary Joie
TEJADA, Princess
VALENCIA, Paola Ciara
VALLES, Penrose Ann
VICHO, Anne Kathleen
VILLANUEVA, Christine Joy
3G A.Y. 2018 - 2019


I. Legal Ethics Defined

II. Sources of Legal Ethics
III. Practice of Law and significant cases
IV. Privilege of Practice of Law and related cases
V. Power to Regulate Practice of Law
VI. Admission to the Bar
A. Who May Practice
B. Requirements for Admission
C. Bar scandals (cases)
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I. Legal Ethics defined

Legal ethics is the embodiment of all principles of morality and refinement that should govern the
conduct of every member of the bar. It is broadly defined as the living spirit of the profession, which
limits yet uplifts it as a livelihood.

Legal ethics is a branch of moral science which treats of the duties which an attorney owes to the court,
his client, to his colleagues in the profession and to the public. It refers to the minimum standards of
appropriate conduct within the legal profession. It is the behavioral norms and morals which govern
judges and lawyers.

II. Sources of Legal Ethics

1. The 1987 Philippine Constitution

It provides the basis of ethical and accountable behavior in the public sector. Section 1 of
Article XI states that: “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all
times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty,
and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.” This provision requires
every public official and employee to exhibit and live certain values while in government
service. In addition, the State has been mandated by the Constitution to “maintain honesty
and integrity in the public service and take positive and effective measures against graft and

In 1989, the Philippine legislature passed Republic Act No. 6713, a law embodying the Code of
Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. The Code spells out in fine
detail the do’s and don’ts for government officials and employees in and out of the workplace.
These do’s and don’ts are encapsulated in the eight norms of conduct to be observed by all
government officials and employees. These norms or standards are:
● Commitment to public interest
● Professionalism
● Justness and sincerity
● Political neutrality
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● Responsiveness to the public

● Nationalism and patriotism
● Commitment to democracy
● Simple living

The Code, likewise, introduced some reforms in the administrative systems like giving heads
of agencies the responsibility of ensuring there is a value development program for their
employees; continuing studies on work systems and procedures with the end in view of
improving the delivery if public services; and, mandating the designation of a resident
Ombudsman in every department, office and agency. Incentives and rewards system has
also been put in place.

2. Applicable Jurisprudence

3. Code of Professional Responsibility

It is the embodiment into one Code of the various pertinent and subsisting rules, guidelines, and
standards on the rule of conduct of lawyers which must be observed by all members of the Bar
in the exercise of their profession whether in or out of the court as well as in their public and
private lives.

4. Canons of Professional Ethics

These are actually canons of the American Bar Association (ABA) adopted by the Philippine Bar
Association (PBA) as its own in 1917 and in 1946. The PBA is a voluntary organization of
Filipino Lawyers as distinguish from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) where
membership thereto is mandatory for all lawyers who are admitted to the bar by the Philippine
Supreme Court.

The canons are adopted by the Philippine Bar Association as a general guide, yet the
enumeration of particular duties should not be construed as a denial of the existence of others
equally imperative, though not specifically mentioned.

5. New Civil Code

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6. Rules of Court
Pertinent provisions under the Rules of Court enumerate the duties of attorneys which are
related to the Code of Professional Responsibilities and to the Lawyer’s Oath.

7. Revised Penal Code

Articles 172, 209, and 315 of the Revised Penal Code provide for specific acts of lawyers that
may result to criminal liability.

8. Local Government Code

III. Practice of Law and Significant Cases

Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal
procedure, knowledge, training and experience. To engage in the practice of law is to perform acts
which are usually performed by members of the legal profession. Generally, to practice law is to render
any kind of service which requires the use in any degree of legal knowledge or skill.

General Coverage of Practice of Law

1. Legal Advice and instructions to clients to inform them of their rights and obligations;
2. Preparation of documents requiring knowledge of legal principles not possessed by ordinary
layman; and
3. Appearance for clients before public tribunals ​(Ulep vs Legal Clinic Inc).

Nature of the Practice of Law

1. It is in the nature of a mere privilege. It is not a right granted to anyone who demands it but a
privilege to be exercise of sound judicial discretion. More specifically, it is limited to persons of
good moral character with special qualifications duly ascertained and certified. ​(In re Ozaeta, 92
2. However, it becomes a right once a person is admitted to the practice of law. Valid reasons must
exist before a lawyer may be prevented from practicing law and can only be deprived of such
right for misconduct duly ascertained and after due process has been afforded him.
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Determinative Criteria of the Practice of Law

1. Habituality - The term practice of law implies customarily or habitually holding oneself out to
the public as a lawyer such as when one sends a circular announcing the establishment of a law
office for the general practice of law, or when one takes the oath of office as a lawyer before a
notary public, and files a manifestation with the Supreme Court informing it of his intention to
practice law in all courts in the country.
2. Compensation - Practice of law implies that one must have presented himself to be in active
practice and that his professional services are available to the public for compensation, as a
source of his livelihood or in consideration of his said services. Hence, charging for services such
as preparation of documents involving the use of legal knowledge and skill is within the term
‘practice of law’ and, one who renders an opinion as to the proper interpretation of a statute,
and receives pay for it, is to that extent, practicing law.
3. Application of law, legal principle, practice or procedure which calls for legal knowledge, training
and experience is within the term ‘practice of law.’
4. Attorney-client-relationship - Engaging in the practice of law presupposes the existence of
lawyer-client relationship. Hence, when a lawyer undertakes an activity which requires
knowledge of law but involves no attorney-client relationship, such as teaching law or writing
law books or articles, he cannot be said to be engaged in the practice of law. Thank

Persons entitled to practice law

Persons admitted as members of the bar and who are in good and regular standing are entitled to
practice law. (​Sec. 1, Rule 138, Rules of Court)

Effects of loss and re-acquisition of Philippine Citizenship

The practice of all professions in the Philippines shall be limited to Filipino citizens pursuant to ​Section
14, Article 12 of the 1987 Constitution. ​Hence, the loss of Philippine citizenship ​ipso jure terminated the
privilege to practice law in the Philippines.

​ r the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003, “a

However, pursuant to ​R.A. No. 9225 o
Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen of another country is deemed never to have lost his Philippine
citizenship if he reacquires it in accordance with R.A. No. 9225. Nevertheless, his right ti practice law
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does not automatically accrue. He must first secure authority from the Supreme Court upon compliance
with the following conditions:
1. The updating and payment in full of annual membership dues in the IBP;
2. Payment of professional tax;
3. Completion of at least 36 credit hours of mandatory continuing legal education; and
4. Retaking of the lawyer’s oath.

Practice of law by a Corporation

A corporation cannot practice law directly or indirectly by employing a lawyer to practice for it or to
appear for others for its benefit. However, it may hire an attorney to attend to and conduct its own legal
business or affairs.

Practice of law by Public Officials

Generally, the appointment or election of an attorney to a government office disqualifies him from
engaging in the private practice of law.

Public Officials who cannot practice law in the Philippines:

1. Judges and other officials or employees of the superior court (Sec.35, Rule 138 RRC);
2. Officials and employees of the Office of the Solicitor General (Sec.35, Rule 138 RRC);
3. Government Prosecutors;
4. President, Vice- President, members of the Cabinet, their deputies and assistants (Sec.
13 Art. VII, Constitution)
5. Chairman and members of the Constitutional Commissions (Sec. 2, Art. IX, Constitution);
6. Ombudsman and his deputies;
7. Governors, city, and municipal mayors;
8. Civil service officers or employees whose duties require them to devote their entire time
at the disposal of the government;
9. Those who, by special law, are prohibited from engaging in the practice of their legal
profession, but if so authorized by the department head, he may, in an isolated case, act
as counsel for a relative or close family friend (Agoali, 2009, p.50)

Public Officials with restrictions in the practice of law

1. Senators and Members of the House of Representative (Sec. 14 Art. VI, Constitution);
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2. Members of the Sanggunian;

3. Retire Justice of Judge; and
4. Civil Service officers or employees (whose duty does not require his entire time to be at
the disposal of the government) without permit from their respective department

Restrictions in the practice of law on members of the Legislature

A lawyer-member of the legislature is prohibited from appearing as counsel before any courts of
justice, electoral tribunals or quasi-judicial and administrative bodies. The word “appearance”
includes not only arguing a case before any such body but also filing a pleading on behalf of a
client as “by simply filing a formal motion, plea, or answer”. (​Ramos vs Manalac 89 Phil 27)

Furthermore, a lawyer-member is not allowed to appear in such pleading by itself or as part of a

firm name under the signature of another qualified lawyer because the signature of an agent
amounts to a signing of a non-qualified senator or congressman, the office of an attorney being
originally of agency, and because he will, by such act, be appearing in court or quasi-judicial or
administrative body in violation of the constitutional restriction. “He cannot do indirectly what
the Constitution prohibits directly” (​In re: David 93 Phil 461, 1954).

While certain local elective officials (like governors, mayors, provincial board members and councilors)
are expressly subjected to a total or partial proscription to practice their profession or engage in any
occupation, no such interdiction is made on the punong barangay and the members of the sangguniang
barangay. Expressio unius est exclusio alterius. Since they are excluded from any prohibition, the
presumption is that they are allowed to practice their profession. And this stands to reason because
they are not mandated to serve full time. In fact, the sangguniang barangay is supposed to hold regular
sessions only twice a month

Accordingly, as punong barangay, respondent was not forbidden to practice his profession. However, he
should have procured prior permission or authorization from the head of his Department, as required by
civil service regulations. (Wilfredo Catu vs Atty. Vicente Rellose, A.C. No. 5738, February 19, 2008)
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Significant Cases:

(a) Cayetano vs. Monsod (​ GR. No. 100133 September 3, 1991)

Facts: Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President Corazon C. Aquino to the
position of Chairman of the COMELEC. Petitioner opposed the nomination because allegedly
Monsod does not possess the required qualification of having been engaged in the practice of law
for at least ten years.

Challenging the validity of the confirmation by the Commission on Appointments of Monsod's

nomination, petitioner as a citizen and taxpayer, filed the instant petition for certiorari and
Prohibition praying that said confirmation and the consequent appointment of Monsod as
Chairman of the Commission on Elections be declared null and void.

Atty. Christian Monsod is a member of the Philippine Bar, having passed the bar examinations
of 1960. He has been a dues paying member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines andhas also
been paying his professional license fees as lawyer for more than ten years.

After graduating from the College of Law (U.P.) and having hurdled the bar, Atty. Monsod
worked in the law office of his father. During his stint in the World Bank Group (1963-1970),
Monsod worked as an operations officer for about two years in Costa Rica and Panama, which
involved getting acquainted with the laws of member-countries negotiating loans and coordinating
legal, economic, and project work of the Bank. Upon returning to the Philippines in 1970, he
worked with the Meralco Group, served as chief executive officer of an investment bank and
subsequently of a business conglomerate, and since 1986, has rendered services to various
companies as a legal and economic consultant or chief executive officer. As former
Secretary-General (1986) and National Chairman (1987) of NAMFREL. Monsod's work involved
being knowledgeable in election law. He appeared for NAMFREL in its accreditation hearings before
the Comelec. In the field of advocacy, Monsod, in his personal capacity and as former Co-Chairman
of the Bishops Businessmen's Conference for Human Development, has worked with the under
privileged sectors, such as the farmer and urban poor groups, in initiating, lobbying for and
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engaging in affirmative action for the agrarian reform law and lately the urban land reform bill.
Monsod also made use of his legal knowledge as a member of the Davide Commission, a quast
judicial body, which conducted numerous hearings (1990) and as a member of the Constitutional
Commission (1986-1987), and Chairman of its Committee on Accountability of Public Officers, for
which he was cited by the President of the Commission, Justice Cecilia Muñoz-Palma for
"innumerable amendments to reconcile government functions with individual freedoms and public
accountability and the party-list system for the House of Representative.

Issue: ​Whether or not the petitioner is engaged in the practice of law.

Ruling: I​ nterpreted in the light of the various definitions of the term Practice of law particularly the
modern concept of law practice, and taking into consideration the liberal construction intended by
the framers of the Constitution, Atty. Monsod's past work experiences as a lawyer-economist, a
lawyer-manager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry, a lawyer-negotiator of contracts, and a
lawyer-legislator of both the rich and the poor — verily more than satisfy the constitutional
requirement — that he has been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.

(b) In re Cunanan​ (Resolution March 18, 1954)

Facts:​ In recent years few controversial issues have aroused so much public interest and
concern as Republic Act No. 972, popularly known as the "Bar Flunkers' Act of 1953." Under the
Rules of Court governing admission to the bar, in order that a candidate (for admission to the Bar)
may be deemed to have passed his examinations successfully, he must have obtained a general
average of 75 per cent in all subjects, without falling below 50 per cent in any subject. Nevertheless,
considering the varying difficulties of the different bar examinations held since 1946 and the
varying degree of strictness with which the examination papers were graded, this court passed and
admitted to the bar those candidates who had obtained an average of only 72 per cent in 1946, 69
per cent in 1947, 70 per cent in 1948, and 74 per cent in 1949. In 1950 to 1953, the 74 per cent was
raised to 75 per cent.

Believing themselves as fully qualified to practice law as those reconsidered and passed by this
court, and feeling conscious of having been discriminated against, unsuccessful candidates who
obtained averages of a few percentage lower than those admitted to the Bar agitated in Congress
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for, and secured in 1951 the passage of Senate Bill No. 12 which, among others, reduced the
passing general average in bar examinations to 70 per cent effective since 1946. The President
requested the views of this court on the bill. Complying with that request, seven members of the
court subscribed to and submitted written comments adverse thereto, and shortly thereafter the
President vetoed it. Congress did not override the veto. Instead, it approved Senate Bill No. 371,
embodying substantially the provisions of the vetoed bill. Although the members of this court
reiterated their unfavorable views on the matter, the President allowed the bill to become a law on
June 21, 1953 without his signature.

Issue: ​Whether or not R.A. 972 is unconstitutional

Ruling: Y​ es. By its declared objective, the law is contrary to public interest because it qualifies 1,094
law graduates who confessedly had inadequate preparation for the practice of the profession, as
was exactly found by this Tribunal in the aforesaid examinations. The public interest demands of
legal profession adequate preparation and efficiency, precisely more so as legal problem evolved
by the times become more difficult. An adequate legal preparation is one of the vital requisites for
the practice of law that should be developed constantly and maintained firmly. To the legal
profession is entrusted the protection of property, life, honor and civil liberties. To approve
officially of those inadequately prepared individuals to dedicate themselves to such a delicate
mission is to create a serious social danger. Moreover, the statement that there was an
insufficiency of legal reading materials is grossly exaggerated. There were abundant materials.
Decisions of this court alone in mimeographed copies were made available to the public during
those years and private enterprises had also published them in monthly magazines and annual

(c) Mauricio C. Ulep vs. The Legal Clinic, Inc.​ (B

​ ar Matter No. 553 June 17, 1993​)

Facts: ​Atty. Ulep files a complaint against The Legal Clinic because of its advertisements which
invite potential clients to inquire about secret marriage and divorce in Guam and annulment,
absence, Visa, etc. It also says that they are giving free books on Guam Divorce.
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It is also alleged that The Legal Clinic published an article entitled Rx for Legal Problems in The
Philippine Star because it is composed of specialists that can take care of a client’s situation no
matter how complicated it is, especially on marriage problems like the ​Sharon and Gabby​ situation.

Ulep claims that such advertisements are unethical and destructive of the confidence of the
community in the integrity of lawyers. In its answer to the petition, respondent admits the fact of
publication of said advertisements at its instance, but claims that it is not engaged in the practice of
law but in the rendering of ​"legal support services" through paralegals​. As for its advertisement,
respondent said it ​should be allowed in view of the jurisprudence in the US which now allows it
(​John Bates vs The State Bar of Arizona​). And that besides, the advertisement is merely making
known to the public the services that The Legal Clinic offers.

1. Whether or not The Legal Clinic is engaged in the practice of law;
2. Whether or not such is allowed;
3. Whether or not its advertisement may be allowed.

Ruling: ​Yes. The Supreme Court held that the services offered by the respondent constitute practice
of law, however such practice is not allowed.

The Legal Clinic offers services for various legal problems wherein a client may avail of legal
services from installation of computer systems and programs to the giving out of legal information
to laymen and lawyers. The Legal Clinic is composed mainly of paralegals and such services
aforementioned are undoubtedly beyond the domain of the paralegals. As stated in a previous
jurisprudence, practice of law is only reserved for the ​members of the Philippine bar​, and not to
paralegals. As with the Legal Clinic’s advertisements, the ​Code of Professional Responsibility
provides that “a lawyer in making known his legal services must use only honest, fair, dignified and
objective information or statement of facts.

A lawyer cannot advertise his talents in a manner that a merchant advertise his goods. The
Legal Clinic promotes divorce, secret marriages, bigamous marriages which are undoubtedly
contrary to law. The only allowed form of advertisements by the Supreme Court would be:
1. Citing your involvement in a reputable law list,
2. An ordinary professional card
3. Phone directory listing without designation to a lawyer’s specialization.

(d) Paguia vs Office of the President​ ​(G.R. No. 176278, 25 June 2010)
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Facts: ​Petitioner Atty. Allan Paguia, as a citizen and taxpayer, filed and action for writ of certiorari
to invalidate President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's nomination of respondent former Chief Justice
Hilario G. Davide, Jr. as Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Paguia contends that it is a violation of Section 23 of RA 7157, the Philippine Foreign Service Act of
1991 which sets the mandatory retirement for officers and employees of DFA at 65 while Davide is
already 70 years old at the time of his appointment on March 2006.

In their separate Comments, respondent Davide, the Office of the President, and the Secretary of
Foreign Affairs (respondents) raise threshold issues against the petition. Among others, they
question petitioner's standing to bring this suit because of his indefinite suspension from the
practice of law.​|

Issue:​ Whether or not Paguia has a legal standing to sue.

Ruling: ​NO. ​An incapacity to bring legal actions peculiar to petitioner also obtains. Petitioner's
suspension from the practice of law bars him from performing "any activity, in or out of court,
which requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience."
Certainly, preparing a petition raising carefully crafted arguments on equal protection grounds and
employing highly legalistic rules of statutory construction to parse Section 23 of ​RA 7157 falls
within the proscribed conduct.

(e) Bonifacio v. Era

Facts: In 2003, an illegal dismissal case was filled against Bonifacio and his company. The
complainants, Abucejo et al. were represented by Atty. Era. The following year, Bonifacio was
found guilty and ordered to pay Php 674,128 as separation fee and back-wages, and Php 16,050.65
as 13th month pay. In 2006, a writ of execution was issued, which was followed by a notice of
garnishment. In 2013, an alias writ and a notice were also issued. Meanwhile in 2013, Atty. Era was
found guilty of representing conflicting interest in a separate administrative case and was
suspended from the practice of for two years. However, later that year, Atty. Era actively
participated in the public auction of Bonifacio’s company’s properties subject of the writ, and was
able to tender the highest bid. He then presented the certificate of sale to the company’s officers,
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and led the pulling out of the subject properties and only stopped to negotiate. He then summoned
the parties to his office to continue with the negotiation, and was able to raise the counter-offer
from Php 6M to Php 9M. Due to failure to settle, Atty. Era, accompanied by Atty. Braga, went back
to the company’s premises to pull out the subject properties. Bonifacio then filed criminal and
administrative complaints against Era. Era, in his defense, alleged that he did not violate the
suspension order, he merely acted as his clients’ attorney-in-fact pursuant to a Special Power of
Attorney, hence not in the practice of law.

Issue: Whether or not Era, by invoking the SPA in representing his clients, was not in the practice of

Ruling​: No. Era’s contention is untenable. He is engaged in an unauthorized practice of law. The
Court as held in Cayetano v. Monsod defines the practice of law as: “The rendition of services
requiring the knowledge and the application of legal principles and technique to serve the interest
of another with his consent. It is not limited to appearing in court, or advising and assisting in the
conduct of litigation, but embraces the preparation of pleadings, and other papers incident to
actions and special proceedings, conveyancing, the preparation of legal instruments of all kinds,
and the giving of all legal advice to clients. In this case, Atty. Era, actively represented his winning
clients in the public auction of the condemned properties. He secured the certificate of sale and
presented it to the adverse party. He led the pulling out of subject properties and insisted the
ownership of his clients over the said properties. He called all parties to his office to continue with
the negotiation. Clearly, Atty. Era's acts involved the determination by a trained legal mind of the
legal effects and consequences of each course of action in the satisfaction of the judgment award.
Precisely, this is why his clients chose Atty. Era to represent them in the public auction and in any
negotiation/settlement with the company arising from the labor case as stated in the SPA being
invoked by Atty. Era. Such trained legal mind is what his clients were relying upon in seeking
redress for their claims. This is evident from the fact that they agreed not to enter into any
amicable settlement without the prior written consent of Atty. Era, the latter being their lawyer. It
could readily be seen that the said SPA was executed by reason of Atty. Era being their legal
counsel. Thus, the said SPA cannot be invoked to support Atty. Era's claim that he was not engaged
in the practice of law in performing the acts above-cited as such SPA cunningly undermines the
suspension ordered by the Court against Atty. Era.
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IV. Privilege of Practice of Law and Related Cases

The practice of law is a privilege and a right. It is not a natural, property or constitutional right but a
mere privilege. It is not a right granted to any one who demands it but a privilege to be extended or
withheld in the exercise of a sound judicial discretion and accorded only to those who measure up to
certain rigid standards of mental and moral fitness. The attorney’s continued enjoyment of the privilege
conferred depends upon his remaining a fit and safe person to exercise it and his complying with the
rules and ethics of the profession. The practice of law cannot be assigned nor inherited. It is a privilege
burdened with conditions. It is a profession and not a business. The duty to serve the public and iad in
the administration of justice should be the primary consideration of lawyers and not their personal

The privileges of a lawyer include: (1) the practice of law during good behavior before any judicial,
quasi-judicial or administrative tribunal; (2) being the first one to sit in judgment on every case and to
set the judicial machinery in motion; (3) enjoyment of the presumption of regularity in the discharge of
his duty; (4) immunity in the performance of his obligation to his client, from liability to a third person
insofar as he does not materially depart from his character as a quasi-judicial officer; (5) statements
made being privileged as long as they are relevant, pertinent, or material to the subject of judicial
inquiry; (6) first grade civil service eligibility for any position in the classified service of the government,
duty of which requires the knowledge of law; (7) second grade civil service eligibility for any other
government position, which does not prescribe proficiency in law as a qualification; and (8) right to
protest in a respectful language, of any unwarranted treatment of a witness or any unjustified delay in
administration of justice.

Related Cases

(a) In re Edillon (​ AM. No. 1928 August 3, 1978)

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Facts: T​ he Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Board of Governors unanimously adopted a
Resolution recommending to the Court the removal of the name of the respondent Atty. Marcial
Edillon from its Roll of Attorneys for "stubborn refusal to pay his membership dues" to the IBP since
the latter's constitution notwithstanding due notice.

The core of the respondent's arguments is that there is an invasion of his constitutional rights
in the sense that he is being compelled, as a pre-condition to maintaining his status as a lawyer in
good standing, to be a member of the IBP and to pay the corresponding dues, and that as a
consequence of this compelled financial support of the said organization to which he is admittedly
personally antagonistic, he is being deprived of the rights to liberty and property guaranteed to him
by the Constitution. Hence, the respondent concludes, the above provisions of the Court Rule and
of the IBP By-Laws are void and of no legal force and effect.

Issue: ​Whether or not the constitutional right of the respondent is infringed as he is compelled to
pay dues to be a member of the IBP

Ruling: Bar integration does not compel the lawyer to associate with anyone. He is free to attend or
not attend the meetings of his Integrated Bar Chapter or vote or refuse to vote in its elections as he
chooses. The only compulsion to which he is subjected is the payment of annual dues. The Supreme
Court, in order to further the State's legitimate interest in elevating the quality of professional legal
services, may require that the cost of improving the profession in this fashion be shared by the
subjects and beneficiaries of the regulatory program — the lawyers.

(b) In re: Gutierrez​ ​(AM. No. L-363 July 31, 1962)

​ espondent Diosdado Q. Gutierrez is a member of the Philippine Bar. In criminal case, he

Facts: R
was convicted of the murder of Filemon Samaco, former municipal mayor of Calapan, and together
with his co-conspirators was sentenced to the penalty of death. Upon review by this Court the
judgment of conviction was affirmed, but the penalty was changed to reclusion perpetua. After
serving a portion of the sentence respondent was granted a conditional pardon by the President on
August 19, 1958. The unexecuted portion of the prison term was remitted on condition that he shall
not again violate any of the penal laws of the Philippines.
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Thereafter, the widow of the deceased Filemon Samaco, victim in the murder case, filed a
verified complaint before this Court praying that respondent be removed from the roll of lawyers
pursuant to Rule 127, section 5.

Issue: ​Whether or not the respondent should be disbarred

Ruling: ​Respondent Gutierrez must be judged upon the fact of his conviction for murder without
regard to the pardon he invokes in defense. The practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those
who measure up to certain rigid standards of mental and moral fitness. For the admission of a
candidate to the bar the Rules of Court not only prescribe a test of academic preparation but
require satisfactory testimonials of good moral character. These standards are neither dispensed
with nor lowered after admission: the lawyer must continue to adhere to them or else incur the risk
of suspension or removal. Of all classes and professions, the lawyer is most sacredly bound to
uphold the laws. He is their sworn servant; and for him, of all men in the world, to repudiate and
override the laws, to trample them under foot and to ignore the very bonds of society, argues
recreancy to his position and office and sets a pernicious example to the insubordinate and
dangerous elements of the body politic.

(c) In Re: Argosino​ ​(B.M. No. 712 July 13 1995)

Facts: Petitioner Al Caparros Argosino passed the bar examinations held in 1993. The Court
however deferred his oath-taking due to his previous conviction for Reckless Imprudence Resulting
In Homicide. The criminal case which resulted in petitioner' s conviction, arose from the death of a
neophyte, Raul Camaligan, during fraternity initiation rites sometime in September 1991. On 18
June 1993, the trial court granted herein petitioner's application for probation. On 11 April 1994,
the trial court issued an order recommending petitioner's discharge from probation On 14 April
1994, petitioner filed before this Court a petition to be allowed to take the lawyer's oath based on
the order of his discharge from probation.

On 13 July 1995, the Court through then Senior Associate Justice Florentino P. Feliciano
issued a resolution requiring petitioner Al C. Argosino to submit to the Court evidence that he may
now be regarded as complying with the requirement of good moral character imposed upon those
seeking admission to the bar. In compliance with the above resolution, petitioner submitted no less
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than fifteen (15) certifications/letters executed by among others two (2) senators, five (5) trial
court judges, and six (6) members of religious orders. Petitioner likewise submitted evidence that a
scholarship foundation had been established in honor of Raul Camaligan, the hazing victim, through
joint efforts of the latter's family and the eight (8) accused in the criminal case. The Court required
Atty Gilbert Camaligan, father of Raul, to comment on petitioner's prayer.

Issue: ​Whether or not the petitioner may be allowed to take the lawyer’s oath.

Ruling: ​Yes. The practice of law is a privilege granted only to those who possess the strict
intellectual and moral qualifications required of lawyers who are instruments in the effective and
efficient administration of justice. It is the sworn duty of this Court not only to "weed out" lawyers
who have become a disgrace to the noble profession of the law but, also of equal importance, to
prevent "misfits" from taking the lawyer's oath, thereby further tarnishing the public image of
lawyers which in recent years has undoubtedly become less than irreproachable.

In allowing Mr. Argosino to take the lawyer's oath, the Court recognizes that Mr. Argosino
is not inherently of bad moral fiber. On the contrary, the various certifications show that he is a
devout catholic with a genuine concern for civic duties and public service.

The Court is persuaded that Mr. Argosino has exerted all efforts to atone for the death of
Raul Camaligan. We are prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, taking judicial notice of the
general tendency of youth to be rash, temerarious and uncalculating.

We stress to Mr. Argosino that the lawyer's oath is NOT a mere ceremony or formality for
practicing law. Every lawyer should at ALL TIMES weigh his actions according to the sworn promises
he makes when taking the lawyer's oath. If all lawyers conducted themselves strictly according to
the lawyer's oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility, the administration of justice will
undoubtedly be faster, fairer and easier for everyone concerned.

(d) Tan v Sabandal (B.M. No. 44, February 24, 1992)

Facts:​ Respondent Sabandal passed the 1978 Bar Examinations but was denied to take his oath in
view of the finding of the Court that he was guilty of unauthorized practice of law. Since then, he
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had filed numerous petitions for him to be allowed to take his lawyer's oath.

Acting to his 1989 petition, the Court directed the executive judge of the province where
Sabandal is domiciled to submit a comment on respondent's moral fitness to be a member of the
Bar. In compliance therewith, the executive judge stated in his comment that he is not aware of
any acts committed by the respondent as would disqualify him to from admission to the Bar.
However, he added that respondent has a pending civil case before his court for
cancellation/reversion proceedings, in which respondent, then working as Land Investigator of the
Bureau of Lands, is alleged to have secured a free patent and later a certificate of title to a parcel of
land which, upon investigation, turned out to be a swampland and not susceptible of acquisition
under a free patent, and which he later mortgaged to the bank. The mortgage was later foreclosed
and the land subsequently sold at public auction and respondent has not redeemed the land since

The case was however been settled through amicable settlement. The said amicable settlement
canceled the OCT under Free Patent in the name of Sabandal and his mortgage in the bank;
provided for the surrender of the certificate of title to the RD for proper annotation; reverted to
the mass of public domain the land covered by the aforesaid certificate of title with respondent
refraining from exercising acts of possession or ownership over the said land. Respondent also paid
the bank a certain sum for the loan and interest.

Issue:​ Whether the respondent may be admitted to the practice of law considering that he already
submitted three (3) testimonials regarding his good moral character, and his pending civil case has
been terminated.

Ruling:​ His petition must be denied. Time and again, it has been held that practice of law is not a
matter of right. It is a privilege bestowed upon individuals who are not only learned in the law but
who are also known to possess good moral character.

It should be recalled that respondent worked as Land Investigator at the Bureau of Lands. Said
employment facilitated his procurement of the free patent title over the property which he could
not but have known was a public land. This was manipulative on his part and does not speak well of
his moral character. It is a manifestation of gross dishonesty while in the public service, which
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cannot be erased by the termination of the case and where no determination of guilt or innocence
was made because the suit has been compromised. This is a sad reflection of his sense of honor
and fair dealings.

Moreover, his failure to reveal to the Court the pendency of the civil case for Reversion filed
against him during the period that he was submitting several petitions and motions for
reconsiderations reveal his lack of candor and truthfulness.

Although, the term "good moral character" admits of broad dimensions, it has been defined as
"including at least common dishonesty." It has also been held that no moral qualification for
membership is more important than truthfulness or candor.

V. Power to regulate Practice of Law

As provided in Article 8, Section 5, paragraph 5 of the 1987 Constitution also known as the
rule-making power, the Supreme Court shall have the power to promulgate rules concerning the
protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice and procedure in all courts, the
admission to the practice of law, the Integrated Bar, and legal assistance to the underprivileged.

The right to admit members to the Bar is, and has always been, the exclusive privilege of this
Court, because lawyers are members of the Court and only this Court should be allowed to determine
admission thereto in the interest of the principle of the separation of powers. The power to admit is
judicial in the sense that discretion is used in is exercise. This power should be distinguished from the
power to promulgate rules which regulate admission. It is only this power (to promulgate amendments
to the rules) that is given in the Constitution to the Congress, not the exercise of the discretion to admit
or not to admit. Thus the rules on the holding of examination, the qualifications of applicants, the
passing grades, etc. are within the scope of the legislative power. But the power to determine when a
candidate has made or has not made the required grade is judicial, and lies completely with this Court.

The power of the Supreme Court to regulate the practice of law includes the authority to define
that term, prescribe qualifications of a candidate and the subjects of the bar exams, decide who will be
admitted to the practice, discipline members of the Philippine bar, reinstate any disbarred attorney,
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ordain the integration of the Philippine bar, punish for contempt any person for unauthorized practice of
law, exercise overall supervision of the legal profession, and exercise any other power as may be
necessary to elevate the standards of the bar and preserve its identity.

The Supreme Court acts through a Bar Examination Committee in the Exercise of his judicial
function to admit candidates to the legal profession.

The Bar Examination Committee: Composed of (1) member of the Supreme Court who acts as
Chairman and eight (8) members of the bar. The 8 members act as examiners for the 8 bar subjects with
one subject assigned to each.

The Bar Confidant acts as a sort of liaison officer between the court and the Bar Chairman on the
other hand, and the individual members of the committee on the other. He is at the same time a deputy
clerk of court. Admission of examinees is always subject to the final approval of the court.

Related Cases

(a) Tajan v Cusi, Jr. ​ (GR No. L-28899 May 30, 1974)

Facts: I​ n this original action of prohibition petitioner Alfredo C. Tajan challenges the authority of
respondent Judge of the Court of First Instance of Davao to hear Administrative Case No. 59 of said
court involving a disciplinary action initiated against petitioner as a member of the Philippine Bar.

Issue: ​WON respondent Judge has authority, on his own motion, to hear and determine proceedings
for disbarment or suspension of attorneys.

Ruling: ​YES. The power to exclude unfit and unworthy members of the legal profession stems from
the inherent power of the Supreme Court to regulate the practice of law and the admission of
persons to engage in that practice. It is a necessary incident to the proper administration of justice.
An attorney-at-law is an officer of the court for the manner in which he exercises the privilege which
has been granted to him, His admission to the practice of law is upon the implied condition that his
continued enjoyment of the right conferred, is dependent upon his remaining a fit and safe person
to exercise it. When it appears by acts of misconduct that he has become unfit to continue with the
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trust reposed upon him, his right to continue in the enjoyment of that trust and for the enjoyment
of the professional privilege accorded to him may and ought to be forfeited. The law accords to the
Court of Appeals and the Court of First Instance the power to investigate and suspend members of
the bar. The Applicable provisions are Sections 28, 29, and 30 of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of

b) In re Cunanan

Issue:​ Why is the Bar Flunkers' Act of 1953 unconstitutional?

Ruling:​ Because its declared purpose is to admit 810 candidates who failed in the bar examinations
of 1946-1952, and who, it admits, are certainly inadequately prepared to practice law, as was
exactly found by this Court in the aforesaid years. It decrees the admission to the Bar of these
candidates, depriving this Tribunal of the opportunity to determine if they are at present already
prepared to become members of the Bar. It obliges the Tribunal to perform something contrary to
reason and in an arbitrary manner. This is a manifest encroachment on the constitutional
responsibility of the Supreme Court. It is the primary and inherent prerogative of the Supreme Court
to render the ultimate decision on who may be admitted and may continue in the practice of law
according to existing rules.

VI. Admission to the bar; who may practice and requirements for admission

Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides: that any person heretofore duly admitted as a member
of the bar, or hereafter admitted as such in accordance with the provisions of this rule, and who is in
good and regular standing, is entitled to practice law. Every applicant for admission as a member of the
bar must be a citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, of good moral character, and
resident of the Philippines; and must produce before the Supreme Court satisfactory evidence of good
moral character, and that no charges against him, involving moral turpitude, have been filed or are
pending in any court in the Philippines.

All applicants for admission other than those referred to in the two preceding section shall,
before being admitted to the examination, satisfactorily show that they have regularly studied law for
four years, and successfully completed all prescribed courses, in a law school or university, officially
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approved and recognized by the Secretary of Education. The affidavit of the candidate, accompanied by
a certificate from the university or school of law, shall be filed as evidence of such facts, and further
evidence may be required by the court.

No applicant shall be admitted to the bar examinations unless he has satisfactorily completed
the following courses in a law school or university duly recognized by the government: civil law,
commercial law, remedial law, criminal law, public and private international law, political law, labor and
social legislation, medical jurisprudence, taxation and legal ethics.

While admission to the practice of law is the sole prerogative of the Supreme Court, the
accreditation of law schools falls within the competence of the Legal Education Board. However, the
Legal Education Board, which was established in 1993, only began operating in late 2009, and has yet to
prescribe the basic curriculum for the study of law.

In any case, to be able to take up law, one must first complete “a bachelor’s degree in arts or
sciences with any of the following subjects as major or field of concentration: political science, logic,
English, Spanish, history and economics.”These majors are, however, merely directory and not
mandatory, as one can gain admission to a duly accredited law school, provided his or her bachelor’s
degree meets the minimum requirements of the admitting law school.

To be eligible to take the bar examinations, a candidate must complete courses in “civil law,
commercial law, remedial law, criminal law, public and private international law, political law, labor and
social legislation, medical jurisprudence, taxation and legal ethics”.

After successfully completing the requisite number of course units towards the awarding of a
law degree, a candidate can file an application to take the bar examinations, provided he or she is“a
citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, of good moral character, and a resident of
the Philippines”.

The bar examinations are held once a year in the City of Manila, over a period of four (4) days,
with the first day being devoted to Political and International Law (morning) and Labor and Social
Legislation (afternoon); the second day, to Civil Law (morning) and Taxation (afternoon); the third day,
to Mercantile Law (morning) and Criminal Law (afternoon); and the fourth day, to Remedial Law
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(morning) and Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises (afternoon). For the first three days, the relative
weight of each morning subject is 15 per cent, while that of each afternoon subject is 10 per cent; on the
last day, the relative weights of the morning and afternoon subjects are 20 per cent and 5 per cent,

To pass the bar examinations, a candidate must obtain “a general average of 75 per cent in all
subjects, without falling below 50 per cent in any subject.” The successful candidate is entitled to take
the oath of office, receive his or her certificate of membership to the Philippine Bar, and, finally, sign the
roll of attorneys admitted to practice. Only then does the passer of the bar examinations officially
become a lawyer and can use the title of “Attorney”.

Bar Scandals

(a) In re Investigation of ANGEL J. PARAZO for alleged leakage of questions in some subjects in the
1948 Bar Examinations.

The present case had its origin in a story or news item prepared and written by the defendant,
Angel J. Parazo, a duly accredited reporter of the Star Reporter, a local daily of general circulation, that
appeared on the front page of the issue of September 14, 1948. The story was preceded by the headline
in large letters — "CLAIM 'LEAK' IN LAST BAR TESTS," followed by another in slightly smaller letters —
"Applicants In Uproar, Want Anomaly Probed; One School Favored”.

In this connection it may be stated that in the las Bar Examinations held in August, 1948,
approximately nine hundred candidates took them, each candidate writing his answers in a book for
each subject. There were eight subjects, each belonging to and corresponding to each one of the eight
bar examiners. There were therefore eight sets of bar examination questions, and multiplying these
eight sets of questions by nine hundred candidates, gives a total of seven thousand two hundred (7,200)
examination papers involved, in the hand of eight different examiners. The examination books or papers
bear no names or identifications of their writers or owners and said ownership and identification will not
be known until the books or papers are all corrected and graded. Without definite assurance based on
reliable witnesses under oath that the alleged anomaly had actually been committed, — evidence on the
identity of the persons in possession of the alleged copies of questions prematurely released or illegally
obtained and made use of, the law subjects or subjects involved, the university from which said persons
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come, this Court does not feel capable of or warranted in taking any step, such as blindly and
desperately revising each and every one of the 7,200 examination books with the fond but forlorn hope
of finding any similarity or identity in the answers of any group of examinees and basing thereon any
definite finding or conclusion. Apart from the enormity of the task and its hopelessness, this Court may
not and cannot base its findings and conclusions, especially in any serious and delicate matter as is the
present, on that kind of evidence. Under these circumstances, this Court, for lack of basis, data and
information, is unable to conduct, nay, even start, an investigation; and, unless and until the respondent
herein reveals the identities of his informants, and those informants and or others with facts and
reliable evidence, aid and cooperate with the Court in its endeavor to further examine and probe into
the charges contained in the news items, said charges are considered and held to be without basis,
proof or foundation


On 22 September 2003, the day following the bar examination in Mercantile Law, Justice Jose C.
Vitug, Chairman of the 2003 Bar Examinations Committee, was apprised of a rumored leakage in the
examination on the subject. After making his own inquiries, Justice Vitug reported the matter to Chief
Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., and to the other members of the Court, recommending that the bar
examination on the subject be nullified and that an investigation be conducted forthwith.

ATTORNEY MARCIAL O. T. BALGOS, 71 years of age, senior partner in the law firm of BALGOS
AND PEREZ with offices in Rm. 1009 West Tektite Tower, Exchange Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City,
testified that in November 2002, Justice Jose C. Vitug, as chair of the Committee on the 2003 Bar
Examinations, invited him to be the examiner in commercial law. Using his personal computer in the law
office, he prepared for three consecutive days, three (3) sets of test questions which covered the entire
subject of Mercantile Law. As he did not know how to prepare the questionnaire in final form, he asked
his private secretary, Cheryl Palma, to format and print the questions. All of this was done inside his
office with only him and his secretary there.

He thought that his computer was safely insulated from third parties, and that he alone had
access to it. He was surprised to discover, when reports of the bar leakage broke out, that his computer
was in fact interconnected with the computers of his nine (9) assistant attorneys. As a matter of fact, the
employees - Jovito M. Salonga and Benjamin R. Katly - of the Courts Management Information Systems
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Office (MISO) who, upon the request of Atty. Balgos, were directed by the Investigating Committee to
inspect the computer system in his office, reported that there were 16, not 9, computers connected to
each other via Local Area Network (LAN) and one (1) stand-alone computer connected to the internet.
Atty. De Guzman was disbarred and Atty. Balgos was reprimanded.


Agpalo, R.E. (2009). ​Legal and Judicial Ethics. ​Quezon City: REX Book Store Inc.

​ anila: Central Book Supply.

Pineda, E.L. (2009). ​Legal Ethics: Annotated. M


Cayetano vs. Monsod (​ GR. No. 100133; September 3, 1991)

In re Cunanan​ (Resolution March 18, 1954)
Mauricio C. Ulep vs. The Legal Clinic, Inc.​ (​Bar Matter No. 553; June 17, 1993)​
Paguia vs Office of the President​ ​(G.R. No. 176278; 25 June 2010)
Bonifacio v. Era (​ A.C. No. 11754; October 3, 2017​)
In re Edillon (​ AM. No. 1928; August 3, 1978)
In re: Gutierrez​ ​(AM. No. L-363; July 31, 1962)
In Re: Argosino​ ​(B.M. No. 712; July 13 1995)
Tajan v Cusi, Jr. ​ (GR No. L-28899; May 30, 1974)
In re Investigation of ANGEL J. PARAZO for alleged leakage of questions in some subjects in the 1948
Bar Examinations (​ GR No. 120348; December 3, 1948)
Re: 2003 BAR EXAMINATIONS​ (September 23, 2003)