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March 18, 1954 SECTION 1.

Notwithstanding the provisions of section fourteen, Rule


numbered one hundred twenty-seven of the Rules of Court, any bar
In the Matter of the Petitions for Admission to the Bar of Unsuccessful candidate who obtained a general average of seventy per cent in any
Candidates of 1946 to 1953; bar examinations after July fourth, nineteen hundred and forty-six up to
ALBINO CUNANAN, ET AL the August nineteen hundred and fifty-one bar examinations; seventy-
one per cent in the nineteen hundred and fifty-two bar examinations;
seventy-two per cent in the in the nineteen hundred and fifty-three bar
DIOKNO, J.:
examinations; seventy-three per cent in the nineteen hundred and fifty-
four bar examinations; seventy-four per cent in the nineteen hundred
In recent years few controversial issues have aroused so much public interest and fifty-five bar examinations without a candidate obtaining a grade
and concern as Republic Act No. 972, popularly known as the "Bar Flunkers' Act below fifty per cent in any subject, shall be allowed to take and
of 1953." Under the Rules of Court governing admission to the bar, "in order that subscribe the corresponding oath of office as member of the Philippine
a candidate (for admission to the Bar) may be deemed to have passed his Bar: Provided, however, That for the purpose of this Act, any exact one-
examinations successfully, he must have obtained a general average of 75 per half or more of a fraction, shall be considered as one and included as
cent in all subjects, without falling below 50 per cent in any subject." (Rule 127, part of the next whole number.
sec. 14, Rules of Court). Nevertheless, considering the varying difficulties of the
different bar examinations held since 1946 and the varying degree of strictness
SEC. 2. Any bar candidate who obtained a grade of seventy-five per cent
with which the examination papers were graded, this court passed and admitted
in any subject in any bar examination after July fourth, nineteen
to the bar those candidates who had obtained an average of only 72 per cent in
hundred and forty-six shall be deemed to have passed in such subject or
1946, 69 per cent in 1947, 70 per cent in 1948, and 74 per cent in 1949. In 1950
subjects and such grade or grades shall be included in computing the
to 1953, the 74 per cent was raised to 75 per cent.
passing general average that said candidate may obtain in any
subsequent examinations that he may take.
Believing themselves as fully qualified to practice law as those reconsidered and
passed by this court, and feeling conscious of having been discriminated against
SEC. 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
(See Explanatory Note to R.A. No. 972), unsuccessful candidates who obtained
averages of a few percentage lower than those admitted to the Bar agitated in
Congress for, and secured in 1951 the passage of Senate Bill No. 12 which, Enacted on June 21, 1953, without the Executive approval.
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 After its approval, many of the unsuccessful postwar candidates filed petitions for
the bill. Complying with that request, seven members of the court subscribed to admission to the bar invoking its provisions, while others whose motions for the
and submitted written comments adverse thereto, and shortly thereafter the revision of their examination papers were still pending also invoked the aforesaid
President vetoed it. Congress did not override the veto. Instead, it approved law as an additional ground for admission. There are also others who have
Senate Bill No. 371, embodying substantially the provisions of the vetoed bill. sought simply the reconsideration of their grades without, however, invoking the
Although the members of this court reiterated their unfavorable views on the law in question. To avoid injustice to individual petitioners, the court first
matter, the President allowed the bill to become a law on June 21, 1953 without reviewed the motions for reconsideration, irrespective of whether or not they had
his signature. The law, which incidentally was enacted in an election year, reads invoked Republic Act No. 972. Unfortunately, the court has found no reason to
in full as follows: revise their grades. If they are to be admitted to the bar, it must be pursuant to
Republic Act No. 972 which, if declared valid, should be applied equally to all
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 972 concerned whether they have filed petitions or not. A complete list of the
petitioners, properly classified, affected by this decision, as well as a more
detailed account of the history of Republic Act No. 972, are appended to this
AN ACT TO FIX THE PASSING MARKS FOR BAR EXAMINATIONS
decision as Annexes I and II. And to realize more readily the effects of the law,
FROM NINETEEN HUNDRED AND FORTY-SIX UP TO AND
the following statistical data are set forth:
INCLUDING NINETEEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY-FIVE.

(1) The unsuccessful bar candidates who are to be benefited by section 1 of


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of
Republic Act No. 972 total 1,168, classified as follows:
the Philippines in Congress assembled:

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1946 (August) 206 121 18 various aspects in which the question may be gleaned. The valuable studies of
Messrs. E. Voltaire Garcia, Vicente J. Francisco, Vicente Pelaez and Buenaventura
1946 (November) 477 228 43 Evangelista, in favor of the validity of the law, and of the U.P. Women's Lawyers'
1947 749 340 0 Circle, the Solicitor General, Messrs. Arturo A. Alafriz, Enrique M. Fernando,
1948 899 409 11 Vicente Abad Santos, Carlos A. Barrios, Vicente del Rosario, Juan de Blancaflor,
Mamerto V. Gonzales, and Roman Ozaeta against it, aside from the memoranda
1949 1,218 532 164 of counsel for petitioners, Messrs. Jose M. Aruego, M.H. de Joya, Miguel R.
1950 1,316 893 26 Cornejo and Antonio Enrile Inton, and of petitioners Cabrera, Macasaet and
Galema themselves, has greatly helped us in this task. The legal researchers of
1951 2,068 879 196
the court have exhausted almost all Philippine and American jurisprudence on
1952 2,738 1,033 426 the matter. The question has been the object of intense deliberation for a long
1953 2,555 968 284 time by the Tribunal, and finally, after the voting, the preparation of the majority
opinion was assigned to a new member in order to place it as humanly as
TOTAL 12,230 5,421 1,168 possible above all suspicion of prejudice or partiality.

Of the total 1,168 candidates, 92 have passed in subsequent examination, and Republic Act No. 972 has for its object, according to its author, to admit to the
only 586 have filed either motions for admission to the bar pursuant to said Bar, those candidates who suffered from insufficiency of reading materials and
Republic Act, or mere motions for reconsideration. inadequate preparation. Quoting a portion of the Explanatory Note of the
proposed bill, its author Honorable Senator Pablo Angeles David stated:
(2) In addition, some other 10 unsuccessful candidates are to be benefited by
section 2 of said Republic Act. These candidates had each taken from two to five The reason for relaxing the standard 75 per cent passing grade is the
different examinations, but failed to obtain a passing average in any of them. tremendous handicap which students during the years immediately after
Consolidating, however, their highest grades in different subjects in previous the Japanese occupation has to overcome such as the insufficiency of
examinations, with their latest marks, they would be sufficient to reach the reading materials and the inadequacy of the preparation of students
passing average as provided for by Republic Act No. 972. who took up law soon after the liberation.

(3) The total number of candidates to be benefited by this Republic Acts is Of the 9,675 candidates who took the examinations from 1946 to 1952, 5,236
therefore 1,094, of which only 604 have filed petitions. Of these 604 petitioners, passed. And now it is claimed that in addition 604 candidates be admitted (which
33 who failed in 1946 to 1951 had individually presented motions for in reality total 1,094), because they suffered from "insufficiency of reading
reconsideration which were denied, while 125 unsuccessful candidates of 1952, materials" and of "inadequacy of preparation."
and 56 of 1953, had presented similar motions, which are still pending because
they could be favorably affected by Republic Act No. 972, — although as has By its declared objective, the law is contrary to public interest because it qualifies
been already stated, this tribunal finds no sufficient reasons to reconsider their 1,094 law graduates who confessedly had inadequate preparation for the
grades practice of the profession, as was exactly found by this Tribunal in the aforesaid
examinations. The public interest demands of legal profession adequate
UNCONSTITUTIONALITY OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 972 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
Having been called upon to enforce a law of far-reaching effects on the practice requisites for the practice of law that should be developed constantly and
of the legal profession and the administration of justice, and because some maintained firmly. To the legal profession is entrusted the protection of property,
doubts have been expressed as to its validity, the court set the hearing of the life, honor and civil liberties. To approve officially of those inadequately prepared
afore-mentioned petitions for admission on the sole question of whether or not individuals to dedicate themselves to such a delicate mission is to create a
Republic Act No. 972 is constitutional. serious social danger. Moreover, the statement that there was an insufficiency of
legal reading materials is grossly exaggerated. There were abundant materials.
We have been enlightened in the study of this question by the brilliant assistance Decisions of this court alone in mimeographed copies were made available to the
of the members of the bar who have amply argued, orally an in writing, on the public during those years and private enterprises had also published them in
monthly magazines and annual digests. The Official Gazette had been published

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continuously. Books and magazines published abroad have entered without be entitled to admission to practice in all the courts of this State. (p.
restriction since 1945. Many law books, some even with revised and enlarged 93).
editions have been printed locally during those periods. A new set of Philippine
Reports began to be published since 1946, which continued to be supplemented According to the Court of Appeals, the object of the constitutional precept is as
by the addition of new volumes. Those are facts of public knowledge. follows:

Notwithstanding all these, if the law in question is valid, it has to be enforced. Attorneys, solicitors, etc., were public officers; the power of appointing
them had previously rested with the judges, and this was the principal
The question is not new in its fundamental aspect or from the point of view of appointing power which they possessed. The convention was evidently
applicable principles, but the resolution of the question would have been easier dissatisfied with the manner in which this power had been exercised,
had an identical case of similar background been picked out from the and with the restrictions which the judges had imposed upon admission
jurisprudence we daily consult. Is there any precedent in the long Anglo-Saxon to practice before them. The prohibitory clause in the section quoted
legal history, from which has been directly derived the judicial system was aimed directly at this power, and the insertion of the provision"
established here with its lofty ideals by the Congress of the United States, and expecting the admission of attorneys, in this particular section of the
which we have preserved and attempted to improve, or in our contemporaneous Constitution, evidently arose from its connection with the object of this
judicial history of more than half a century? From the citations of those prohibitory clause. There is nothing indicative of confidence in the courts
defending the law, we can not find a case in which the validity of a similar law or of a disposition to preserve any portion of their power over this
had been sustained, while those against its validity cite, among others, the cases subject, unless the Supreme Court is right in the inference it draws from
of Day (In re Day, 54 NE 646), of Cannon (State vs. Cannon, 240 NW, 441), the the use of the word `admission' in the action referred to. It is urged that
opinion of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts in 1932 (81 ALR 1061), of the admission spoken of must be by the court; that to admit means to
Guariña (24 Phil., 37), aside from the opinion of the President which is expressed grant leave, and that the power of granting necessarily implies the
in his vote of the original bill and which the postponement of the contested law power of refusing, and of course the right of determining whether the
respects. applicant possesses the requisite qualifications to entitle him to
admission.
This law has no precedent in its favor. When similar laws in other countries had
been promulgated, the judiciary immediately declared them without force or These positions may all be conceded, without affecting the validity of
effect. It is not within our power to offer a precedent to uphold the disputed law. the act. (p. 93.)

To be exact, we ought to state here that we have examined carefully the case Now, with respect to the law of April 7, 1860, the decision seems to indicate that
that has been cited to us as a favorable precedent of the law — that of Cooper it provided that the possession of a diploma of the school of law of Columbia
(22 NY, 81), where the Court of Appeals of New York revoked the decision of the College conferring the degree of Bachelor of Laws was evidence of the legal
Supreme court of that State, denying the petition of Cooper to be admitted to qualifications that the constitution required of applicants for admission to the
the practice of law under the provisions of a statute concerning the school of law Bar. The decision does not however quote the text of the law, which we cannot
of Columbia College promulgated on April 7, 1860, which was declared by the find in any public or accessible private library in the country.
Court of Appeals to be consistent with the Constitution of the state of New York.
In the case of Cooper, supra, to make the law consistent with the Constitution of
It appears that the Constitution of New York at that time provided: New York, the Court of Appeals said of the object of the law:

They (i.e., the judges) shall not hold any other office of public trust. All The motive for passing the act in question is apparent. Columbia College
votes for either of them for any elective office except that of the Court being an institution of established reputation, and having a law
of Appeals, given by the Legislature or the people, shall be void. They department under the charge of able professors, the students in which
shall not exercise any power of appointment to public office. Any male department were not only subjected to a formal examination by the law
citizen of the age of twenty-one years, of good moral character, and committee of the institution, but to a certain definite period of study
who possesses the requisite qualifications of learning and ability, shall before being entitled to a diploma of being graduates, the Legislature
evidently, and no doubt justly, considered this examination, together

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with the preliminary study required by the act, as fully equivalent as a centuries, which certainly "constitutes the most solid of titles." Even considering
test of legal requirements, to the ordinary examination by the court; and the power granted to Congress by our Constitution to repeal, alter supplement
as rendering the latter examination, to which no definite period of the rules promulgated by this Court regarding the admission to the practice of
preliminary study was essential, unnecessary and burdensome. law, to our judgment and proposition that the admission, suspension, disbarment
and reinstatement of the attorneys at law is a legislative function, properly
The act was obviously passed with reference to the learning and ability belonging to Congress, is unacceptable. The function requires (1) previously
of the applicant, and for the mere purpose of substituting the established rules and principles, (2) concrete facts, whether past or present,
examination by the law committee of the college for that of the court. It affecting determinate individuals. and (3) decision as to whether these facts are
could have had no other object, and hence no greater scope should be governed by the rules and principles; in effect, a judicial function of the highest
given to its provisions. We cannot suppose that the Legislature designed degree. And it becomes more undisputably judicial, and not legislative, if
entirely to dispense with the plain and explicit requirements of the previous judicial resolutions on the petitions of these same individuals are
Constitution; and the act contains nothing whatever to indicate an attempted to be revoked or modified.
intention that the authorities of the college should inquire as to the age,
citizenship, etc., of the students before granting a diploma. The only We have said that in the judicial system from which ours has been derived, the
rational interpretation of which the act admits is, that it was intended to act of admitting, suspending, disbarring and reinstating attorneys at law in the
make the college diploma competent evidence as to the legal practice of the profession is concededly judicial. A comprehensive and
attainments of the applicant, and nothing else. To this extent alone it conscientious study of this matter had been undertaken in the case of State vs.
operates as a modification of pre-existing statutes, and it is to be read in Cannon (1932) 240 NW 441, in which the validity of a legislative enactment
connection with these statutes and with the Constitution itself in order providing that Cannon be permitted to practice before the courts was discussed.
to determine the present condition of the law on the subject. (p.89) From the text of this decision we quote the following paragraphs:

xxx xxx xxx This statute presents an assertion of legislative power without parallel in
the history of the English speaking people so far as we have been able
The Legislature has not taken from the court its jurisdiction over the to ascertain. There has been much uncertainty as to the extent of the
question of admission, that has simply prescribed what shall be power of the Legislature to prescribe the ultimate qualifications of
competent evidence in certain cases upon that question. (p.93) attorney at law has been expressly committed to the courts, and the act
of admission has always been regarded as a judicial function. This act
purports to constitute Mr. Cannon an attorney at law, and in this respect
From the foregoing, the complete inapplicability of the case of Cooper with that
it stands alone as an assertion of legislative power. (p. 444)
at bar may be clearly seen. Please note only the following distinctions:

Under the Constitution all legislative power is vested in a Senate and


(1) The law of New York does not require that any candidate of Columbia College
Assembly. (Section 1, art. 4.) In so far as the prescribing of
who failed in the bar examinations be admitted to the practice of law.
qualifications for admission to the bar are legislative in character, the
Legislature is acting within its constitutional authority when it sets up
(2) The law of New York according to the very decision of Cooper, has not taken and prescribes such qualifications. (p. 444)
from the court its jurisdiction over the question of admission of attorney at law;
in effect, it does not decree the admission of any lawyer.
But when the Legislature has prescribed those qualifications which in its
judgment will serve the purpose of legitimate legislative solicitude, is the
(3) The Constitution of New York at that time and that of the Philippines are power of the court to impose other and further exactions and
entirely different on the matter of admission of the practice of law. qualifications foreclosed or exhausted? (p. 444)

In the judicial system from which ours has been evolved, the admission, Under our Constitution the judicial and legislative departments are
suspension, disbarment and reinstatement of attorneys at law in the practice of distinct, independent, and coordinate branches of the government.
the profession and their supervision have been disputably a judicial function and Neither branch enjoys all the powers of sovereignty which properly
responsibility. Because of this attribute, its continuous and zealous possession belongs to its department. Neither department should so act as to
and exercise by the judicial power have been demonstrated during more than six

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embarrass the other in the discharge of its respective functions. That subject to legislative control. Perhaps the dominant thought of the
was the scheme and thought of the people setting upon the form of framers of our constitution was to make the three great departments of
government under which we exist. State vs. Hastings, 10 Wis., 525; government separate and independent of one another. The idea that the
Attorney General ex rel. Bashford vs. Barstow, 4 Wis., 567. (p. 445) Legislature might embarrass the judicial department by prescribing
inadequate qualifications for attorneys at law is inconsistent with the
The judicial department of government is responsible for the plane upon dominant purpose of making the judicial independent of the legislative
which the administration of justice is maintained. Its responsibility in this department, and such a purpose should not be inferred in the absence
respect is exclusive. By committing a portion of the powers of of express constitutional provisions. While the legislature may legislate
sovereignty to the judicial department of our state government, under with respect to the qualifications of attorneys, but is incidental merely to
42a scheme which it was supposed rendered it immune from its general and unquestioned power to protect the public interest. When
embarrassment or interference by any other department of government, it does legislate a fixing a standard of qualifications required of attorneys
the courts cannot escape responsibility fir the manner in which the at law in order that public interests may be protected, such qualifications
powers of sovereignty thus committed to the judicial department are do not constitute only a minimum standard and limit the class from
exercised. (p. 445) which the court must make its selection. Such legislative qualifications
do not constitute the ultimate qualifications beyond which the court
cannot go in fixing additional qualifications deemed necessary by the
The relation at the bar to the courts is a peculiar and intimate
course of the proper administration of judicial functions. There is no
relationship. The bar is an attache of the courts. The quality of justice
legislative power to compel courts to admit to their bars persons
dispense by the courts depends in no small degree upon the integrity of
deemed by them unfit to exercise the prerogatives of an attorney at law.
its bar. An unfaithful bar may easily bring scandal and reproach to the
(p. 450)
administration of justice and bring the courts themselves into disrepute.
(p.445)
Furthermore, it is an unlawful attempt to exercise the power of
appointment. It is quite likely true that the legislature may exercise the
Through all time courts have exercised a direct and severe supervision
power of appointment when it is in pursuance of a legislative functions.
over their bars, at least in the English speaking countries. (p. 445)
However, the authorities are well-nigh unanimous that the power to
admit attorneys to the practice of law is a judicial function. In all of the
After explaining the history of the case, the Court ends thus: states, except New Jersey (In re Reisch, 83 N.J. Eq. 82, 90 A. 12), so far
as our investigation reveals, attorneys receive their formal license to
Our conclusion may be epitomized as follows: For more than six practice law by their admission as members of the bar of the court so
centuries prior to the adoption of our Constitution, the courts of admitting. Cor. Jur. 572; Ex parte Secombre, 19 How. 9,15 L. Ed.
England, concededly subordinate to Parliament since the Revolution of 565; Ex parteGarland, 4 Wall. 333, 18 L. Ed. 366; Randall vs. Brigham, 7
1688, had exercise the right of determining who should be admitted to Wall. 53, 19 L. Ed. 285; Hanson vs. Grattan, 48 Kan, 843, 115 P. 646,
the practice of law, which, as was said in Matter of the Sergeant's at 34 L.R.A. 519; Danforth vs. Egan, 23 S. D. 43, 119 N.W. 1021, 130 Am.
Law, 6 Bingham's New Cases 235, "constitutes the most solid of all St. Rep. 1030, 20 Ann. Cas. 413.
titles." If the courts and judicial power be regarded as an entity, the
power to determine who should be admitted to practice law is a The power of admitting an attorney to practice having been perpetually
constituent element of that entity. It may be difficult to isolate that exercised by the courts, it having been so generally held that the act of
element and say with assurance that it is either a part of the inherent the court in admitting an attorney to practice is the judgment of the
power of the court, or an essential element of the judicial power court, and an attempt as this on the part of the Legislature to confer
exercised by the court, but that it is a power belonging to the judicial such right upon any one being most exceedingly uncommon, it seems
entity and made of not only a sovereign institution, but made of it a clear that the licensing of an attorney is and always has been a purely
separate independent, and coordinate branch of the government. They judicial function, no matter where the power to determine the
took this institution along with the power traditionally exercise to qualifications may reside. (p. 451)
determine who should constitute its attorney at law. There is no express
provision in the Constitution which indicates an intent that this
In that same year of 1932, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, in answering a
traditional power of the judicial department should in any manner be
consultation of the Senate of that State, 180 NE 725, said:

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It is indispensible to the administration of justice and to interpretation of respectively, belong for, three years preceding their application, is
the laws that there be members of the bar of sufficient ability, adequate regarded as sufficient evidence of the possession of the requisite legal
learning and sound moral character. This arises from the need of learning, and the statement of counsel moving their admission sufficient
enlightened assistance to the honest, and restraining authority over the evidence that their private and professional character is fair. The order
knavish, litigant. It is highly important, also that the public be protected of admission is the judgment of the court that the parties possess the
from incompetent and vicious practitioners, whose opportunity for doing requisite qualifications as attorneys and counselors, and are entitled to
mischief is wide. It was said by Cardoz, C.L., in People ex rel. Karlin vs. appear as such and conduct causes therein. From its entry the parties
Culkin, 242 N.Y. 456, 470, 471, 162 N.E. 487, 489, 60 A.L.R. 851: become officers of the court, and are responsible to it for professional
"Membership in the bar is a privilege burden with conditions." One is misconduct. They hold their office during good behavior, and can only
admitted to the bar "for something more than private gain." He becomes be deprived of it for misconduct ascertained and declared by the
an "officer of the court", and ,like the court itself, an instrument or judgment of the court after opportunity to be heard has been
agency to advance the end of justice. His cooperation with the court is afforded. Ex parte Hoyfron, admission or their exclusion is not the
due "whenever justice would be imperiled if cooperation was withheld." exercise of a mere ministerial power. It is the exercise of judicial power,
Without such attorneys at law the judicial department of government and has been so held in numerous cases. It was so held by the court of
would be hampered in the performance of its duties. That has been the appeals of New York in the matter of the application of Cooper for
history of attorneys under the common law, both in this country and admission. Re Cooper 22 N. Y. 81. "Attorneys and Counselors", said that
England. Admission to practice as an attorney at law is almost without court, "are not only officers of the court, but officers whose duties relate
exception conceded to be a judicial function. Petition to that end is filed almost exclusively to proceedings of a judicial nature; and hence their
in courts, as are other proceedings invoking judicial action. Admission to appointment may, with propriety, be entrusted to the court, and the
the bar is accomplish and made open and notorious by a decision of the latter, in performing his duty, may very justly considered as engaged in
court entered upon its records. The establishment by the Constitution of the exercise of their appropriate judicial functions." (pp. 650-651).
the judicial department conferred authority necessary to the exercise of
its powers as a coordinate department of government. It is an inherent We quote from other cases, the following pertinent portions:
power of such a department of government ultimately to determine the
qualifications of those to be admitted to practice in its courts, for
Admission to practice of law is almost without exception conceded
assisting in its work, and to protect itself in this respect from the unfit,
everywhere to be the exercise of a judicial function, and this opinion
those lacking in sufficient learning, and those not possessing good moral
need not be burdened with citations in this point. Admission to practice
character. Chief Justice Taney stated succinctly and with finality in Ex
have also been held to be the exercise of one of the inherent powers of
parte Secombe, 19 How. 9, 13, 15 L. Ed. 565, "It has been well settled,
the court. — Re Bruen, 102 Wash. 472, 172 Pac. 906.
by the rules and practice of common-law courts, that it rests exclusively
with the court to determine who is qualified to become one of its
officers, as an attorney and counselor, and for what cause he ought to Admission to the practice of law is the exercise of a judicial function,
be removed." (p.727) and is an inherent power of the court. — A.C. Brydonjack, vs. State Bar
of California, 281 Pac. 1018; See Annotation on Power of Legislature
respecting admission to bar, 65, A.L. R. 1512.
In the case of Day and others who collectively filed a petition to secure license to
practice the legal profession by virtue of a law of state ( In re Day, 54 NE 646),
the court said in part: On this matter there is certainly a clear distinction between the functions of the
judicial and legislative departments of the government.
In the case of Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall, 333, 18 L. Ed. 366, the court,
holding the test oath for attorneys to be unconstitutional, explained the The distinction between the functions of the legislative and the judicial
nature of the attorney's office as follows: "They are officers of the court, departments is that it is the province of the legislature to establish rules
admitted as such by its order, upon evidence of their possessing that shall regulate and govern in matters of transactions occurring
sufficient legal learning and fair private character. It has always been subsequent to the legislative action, while the judiciary determines
the general practice in this country to obtain this evidence by an rights and obligations with reference to transactions that are past or
examination of the parties. In this court the fact of the admission of conditions that exist at the time of the exercise of judicial power, and
such officers in the highest court of the states to which they,

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the distinction is a vital one and not subject to alteration or change to reside in this Court. Had Congress found that this Court has not promulgated
either by legislative action or by judicial decree. any rule on the matter, it would have nothing over which to exercise the power
granted to it. Congress may repeal, alter and supplement the rules promulgated
The judiciary cannot consent that its province shall be invaded by either by this Court, but the authority and responsibility over the admission,
of the other departments of the government. — 16 C.J.S., Constitutional suspension, disbarment and reinstatement of attorneys at law and their
Law, p. 229. supervision remain vested in the Supreme Court. The power to repeal, alter and
supplement the rules does not signify nor permit that Congress substitute or take
the place of this Tribunal in the exercise of its primary power on the matter. The
If the legislature cannot thus indirectly control the action of the courts
Constitution does not say nor mean that Congress may admit, suspend, disbar or
by requiring of them construction of the law according to its own views,
reinstate directly attorneys at law, or a determinate group of individuals to the
it is very plain it cannot do so directly, by settling aside their judgments,
practice of law. Its power is limited to repeal, modify or supplement the existing
compelling them to grant new trials, ordering the discharge of offenders,
rules on the matter, if according to its judgment the need for a better service of
or directing what particular steps shall be taken in the progress of a
the legal profession requires it. But this power does not relieve this Court of its
judicial inquiry. — Cooley's Constitutional Limitations, 192.
responsibility to admit, suspend, disbar and reinstate attorneys at law and
supervise the practice of the legal profession.
In decreeing the bar candidates who obtained in the bar examinations of 1946 to
1952, a general average of 70 per cent without falling below 50 per cent in any
Being coordinate and independent branches, the power to promulgate and
subject, be admitted in mass to the practice of law, the disputed law is not a
enforce rules for the admission to the practice of law and the concurrent power
legislation; it is a judgment — a judgment revoking those promulgated by this
to repeal, alter and supplement them may and should be exercised with the
Court during the aforecited year affecting the bar candidates concerned; and
respect that each owes to the other, giving careful consideration to the
although this Court certainly can revoke these judgments even now, for
responsibility which the nature of each department requires. These powers have
justifiable reasons, it is no less certain that only this Court, and not the legislative
existed together for centuries without diminution on each part; the harmonious
nor executive department, that may be so. Any attempt on the part of any of
delimitation being found in that the legislature may and should examine if the
these departments would be a clear usurpation of its functions, as is the case
existing rules on the admission to the Bar respond to the demands which public
with the law in question.
interest requires of a Bar endowed with high virtues, culture, training and
responsibility. The legislature may, by means of appeal, amendment or
That the Constitution has conferred on Congress the power to repeal, alter or supplemental rules, fill up any deficiency that it may find, and the judicial power,
supplement the rule promulgated by this Tribunal, concerning the admission to which has the inherent responsibility for a good and efficient administration of
the practice of law, is no valid argument. Section 13, article VIII of the justice and the supervision of the practice of the legal profession, should
Constitution provides: consider these reforms as the minimum standards for the elevation of the
profession, and see to it that with these reforms the lofty objective that is
Section 13. The Supreme Court shall have the power to promulgate desired in the exercise of its traditional duty of admitting, suspending, disbarring
rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, and the and reinstating attorneys at law is realized. They are powers which, exercise
admission to the practice of law. Said rules shall be uniform for all courts within their proper constitutional limits, are not repugnant, but rather
of the same grade and shall not diminish, increase or modify substantive complementary to each other in attaining the establishment of a Bar that would
rights. The existing laws on pleading, practice and procedure are hereby respond to the increasing and exacting necessities of the administration of
repealed as statutes, and are declared Rules of Court, subject to the justice.
power of the Supreme Court to alter and modify the same. The
Congress shall have the power to repeal, alter, or supplement the rules The case of Guariña (1913) 24 Phil., 37, illustrates our criterion. Guariña took
concerning pleading, practice, and procedure, and the admission to the examination and failed by a few points to obtain the general average. A recently
practice of law in the Philippines. — Constitution of the Philippines, Art. enacted law provided that one who had been appointed to the position of Fiscal
VIII, sec. 13. may be admitted to the practice of law without a previous examination. The
Government appointed Guariña and he discharged the duties of Fiscal in a
It will be noted that the Constitution has not conferred on Congress and this remote province. This tribunal refused to give his license without previous
Tribunal equal responsibilities concerning the admission to the practice of law. examinations. The court said:
the primary power and responsibility which the Constitution recognizes continue

7
Relying upon the provisions of section 2 of Act No. 1597, the applicant But it is contented that under the provisions of the above-cited statute
in this case seeks admission to the bar, without taking the prescribed the applicant is entitled as of right to be admitted to the bar without
examination, on the ground that he holds the office of provincial fiscal taking the prescribed examination "upon motion before the Supreme
for the Province of Batanes. Court" accompanied by satisfactory proof that he has held and now
holds the office of provincial fiscal of the Province of Batanes. It is urged
Section 2 of Act No. 1597, enacted February 28, 1907, is as follows: that having in mind the object which the legislator apparently sought to
attain in enacting the above-cited amendment to the earlier statute, and
in view of the context generally and especially of the fact that the
Sec. 2. Paragraph one of section thirteen of Act Numbered One Hundred
amendment was inserted as a proviso in that section of the original Act
and ninety, entitled "An Act providing a Code of Procedure in Civil
which specifically provides for the admission of certain candidates
Actions and Special Proceedings in the Philippine Islands," is hereby
without examination. It is contented that this mandatory construction is
amended to read as follows:
imperatively required in order to give effect to the apparent intention of
the legislator, and to the candidate's claim de jure to have the power
1. Those who have been duly licensed under the laws and orders of the exercised.
Islands under the sovereignty of Spain or of the United States and are in
good and regular standing as members of the bar of the Philippine
And after copying article 9 of Act of July 1, 1902 of the Congress of the United
Islands at the time of the adoption of this code; Provided, That any
States, articles 2, 16 and 17 of Act No. 136, and articles 13 to 16 of Act 190, the
person who, prior to the passage of this act, or at any time thereafter,
Court continued:
shall have held, under the authority of the United States, the position of
justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of First Instance, or
judge or associate judge of the Court of Land Registration, of the Manifestly, the jurisdiction thus conferred upon this court by the
Philippine Islands, or the position of Attorney General, Solicitor General, commission and confirmed to it by the Act of Congress would be limited
Assistant Attorney General, assistant attorney in the office of the and restricted, and in a case such as that under consideration wholly
Attorney General, prosecuting attorney for the City of Manila, city destroyed, by giving the word "may," as used in the above citation from
attorney of Manila, assistant city attorney of Manila, provincial fiscal, Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, or of any Act of Congress prescribing,
attorney for the Moro Province, or assistant attorney for the Moro defining or limiting the power conferred upon the commission is to that
Province, may be licensed to practice law in the courts of the Philippine extent invalid and void, as transcending its rightful limits and authority.
Islands without an examination, upon motion before the Supreme Court
and establishing such fact to the satisfaction of said court. Speaking on the application of the law to those who were appointed to the
positions enumerated, and with particular emphasis in the case of Guariña, the
The records of this court disclose that on a former occasion this Court held:
appellant took, and failed to pass the prescribed examination. The
report of the examining board, dated March 23, 1907, shows that he In the various cases wherein applications for the admission to the bar
received an average of only 71 per cent in the various branches of legal under the provisions of this statute have been considered heretofore, we
learning upon which he was examined, thus falling four points short of have accepted the fact that such appointments had been made as
the required percentage of 75. We would be delinquent in the satisfactory evidence of the qualifications of the applicant. But in all of
performance of our duty to the public and to the bar, if, in the face of those cases we had reason to believe that the applicants had been
this affirmative indication of the deficiency of the applicant in the practicing attorneys prior to the date of their appointment.
required qualifications of learning in the law at the time when he
presented his former application for admission to the bar, we should In the case under consideration, however, it affirmatively appears that
grant him license to practice law in the courts of these Islands, without the applicant was not and never had been practicing attorney in this or
first satisfying ourselves that despite his failure to pass the examination any other jurisdiction prior to the date of his appointment as provincial
on that occasion, he now "possesses the necessary qualifications of fiscal, and it further affirmatively appears that he was deficient in the
learning and ability." required qualifications at the time when he last applied for admission to
the bar.

8
In the light of this affirmative proof of his defieciency on that occasion, 28, 1884, in force July 1, 1874." The amendment, so far as it appears in
we do not think that his appointment to the office of provincial fiscal is the enacting clause, consists in the addition to the section of the
in itself satisfactory proof if his possession of the necessary qualifications following: "And every application for a license who shall comply with the
of learning and ability. We conclude therefore that this application for rules of the supreme court in regard to admission to the bar in force at
license to practice in the courts of the Philippines, should be denied. the time such applicant commend the study of law, either in a law or
office or a law school or college, shall be granted a license under this act
In view, however, of the fact that when he took the examination he fell notwithstanding any subsequent changes in said rules". — In re Day et
only four points short of the necessary grade to entitle him to a license al, 54 N.Y., p. 646.
to practice; and in view also of the fact that since that time he has held
the responsible office of the governor of the Province of Sorsogon and . . . After said provision there is a double proviso, one branch of which is
presumably gave evidence of such marked ability in the performance of that up to December 31, 1899, this court shall grant a license of
the duties of that office that the Chief Executive, with the consent and admittance to the bar to the holder of every diploma regularly issued by
approval of the Philippine Commission, sought to retain him in the any law school regularly organized under the laws of this state, whose
Government service by appointing him to the office of provincial fiscal, regular course of law studies is two years, and requiring an attendance
we think we would be justified under the above-cited provisions of Act by the student of at least 36 weeks in each of such years, and showing
No. 1597 in waiving in his case the ordinary examination prescribed by that the student began the study of law prior to November 4, 1897, and
general rule, provided he offers satisfactory evidence of his proficiency accompanied with the usual proofs of good moral character. The other
in a special examination which will be given him by a committee of the branch of the proviso is that any student who has studied law for two
court upon his application therefor, without prejudice to his right, if he years in a law office, or part of such time in a law office, "and part in the
desires so to do, to present himself at any of the ordinary examinations aforesaid law school," and whose course of study began prior to
prescribed by general rule. — (In re Guariña, pp. 48-49.) November 4, 1897, shall be admitted upon a satisfactory examination by
the examining board in the branches now required by the rules of this
It is obvious, therefore, that the ultimate power to grant license for the practice court. If the right to admission exists at all, it is by virtue of the proviso,
of law belongs exclusively to this Court, and the law passed by Congress on the which, it is claimed, confers substantial rights and privileges upon the
matter is of permissive character, or as other authorities say, merely to fix the persons named therein, and establishes rules of legislative creation for
minimum conditions for the license. their admission to the bar. (p. 647.)

The law in question, like those in the case of Day and Cannon, has been found Considering the proviso, however, as an enactment, it is clearly a special
also to suffer from the fatal defect of being a class legislation, and that if it has legislation, prohibited by the constitution, and invalid as such. If the
intended to make a classification, it is arbitrary and unreasonable. legislature had any right to admit attorneys to practice in the courts and
take part in the administration of justice, and could prescribe the
character of evidence which should be received by the court as
In the case of Day, a law enacted on February 21, 1899 required of the Supreme
conclusive of the requisite learning and ability of persons to practice law,
Court, until December 31 of that year, to grant license for the practice of law to
it could only be done by a general law, persons or classes of persons.
those students who began studying before November 4, 1897, and had studied
Const. art 4, section 2. The right to practice law is a privilege, and a
for two years and presented a diploma issued by a school of law, or to those
license for that purpose makes the holder an officer of the court, and
who had studied in a law office and would pass an examination, or to those who
confers upon him the right to appear for litigants, to argue causes, and
had studied for three years if they commenced their studies after the
to collect fees therefor, and creates certain exemptions, such as from
aforementioned date. The Supreme Court declared that this law was
jury services and arrest on civil process while attending court. The law
unconstitutional being, among others, a class legislation. The Court said:
conferring such privileges must be general in its operation. No doubt the
legislature, in framing an enactment for that purpose, may classify
This is an application to this court for admission to the bar of this state persons so long as the law establishing classes in general, and has some
by virtue of diplomas from law schools issued to the applicants. The act reasonable relation to the end sought. There must be some difference
of the general assembly passed in 1899, under which the application is which furnishes a reasonable basis for different one, having no just
made, is entitled "An act to amend section 1 of an act entitled "An act to relation to the subject of the legislation. Braceville Coal Co. vs. People,
revise the law in relation to attorneys and counselors," approved March

9
147 Ill. 66, 35 N.E. 62; Ritchie vs. People, 155 Ill. 98, 40 N.E. But the statute is invalid for another reason. If it be granted that the
454; Railroad Co. vs. Ellis, 165 U.S. 150, 17 Sup. Ct. 255. legislature has power to prescribe ultimately and definitely the
qualifications upon which courts must admit and license those applying
The length of time a physician has practiced, and the skill acquired by as attorneys at law, that power can not be exercised in the manner here
experience, may furnish a basis for classification (Williams vs. People attempted. That power must be exercised through general laws which
121 Ill. 48, II N.E. 881); but the place where such physician has resided will apply to all alike and accord equal opportunity to all. Speaking of the
and practiced his profession cannot furnish such basis, and is an right of the Legislature to exact qualifications of those desiring to pursue
arbitrary discrimination, making an enactment based upon it void chosen callings, Mr. Justice Field in the case of Dent. vs. West
(State vs. Pennyeor, 65 N.E. 113, 18 Atl. 878). Here the legislature Virginia, 129 U.S. 114, 121, 9 S. Ct. 232, 233, 32 L. Ed. 626, said: "It is
undertakes to say what shall serve as a test of fitness for the profession undoubtedly the right of every citizen of the United States to follow any
of the law, and plainly, any classification must have some reference to lawful calling, business or profession he may choose, subject only to
learning, character, or ability to engage in such practice. The proviso is such restrictions as are imposed upon all persons of like age, sex, and
limited, first, to a class of persons who began the study of law prior to condition." This right may in many respects be considered as a
November 4, 1897. This class is subdivided into two classes — First, distinguishing feature of our republican institutions. Here all vocations
those presenting diplomas issued by any law school of this state before are all open to every one on like conditions. All may be pursued as
December 31, 1899; and, second, those who studied law for the period sources of livelihood, some requiring years of study and great learning
of two years in a law office, or part of the time in a law school and part for their successful prosecution. The interest, or, as it is sometimes
in a law office, who are to be admitted upon examination in the subjects termed, the "estate" acquired in them — that is, the right to continue
specified in the present rules of this court, and as to this latter their prosecution — is often of great value to the possessors and cannot
subdivision there seems to be no limit of time for making application for be arbitrarily taken from them, any more than their real or personal
admission. As to both classes, the conditions of the rules are dispensed property can be thus taken. It is fundamental under our system of
with, and as between the two different conditions and limits of time are government that all similarly situated and possessing equal qualifications
fixed. No course of study is prescribed for the law school, but a diploma shall enjoy equal opportunities. Even statutes regulating the practice of
granted upon the completion of any sort of course its managers may medicine, requiring medications to establish the possession on the part
prescribe is made all-sufficient. Can there be anything with relation to of the application of his proper qualifications before he may be licensed
the qualifications or fitness of persons to practice law resting upon the to practice, have been challenged, and courts have seriously considered
mere date of November 4, 1897, which will furnish a basis of whether the exemption from such examinations of those practicing in
classification. Plainly not. Those who began the study of law November the state at the time of the enactment of the law rendered such law
4th could qualify themselves to practice in two years as well as those unconstitutional because of infringement upon this general principle.
who began on the 3rd. The classes named in the proviso need spend State vs. Thomas Call, 121 N.C. 643, 28 S.E. 517; see, also, The State
only two years in study, while those who commenced the next day must ex rel. Winkler vs. Rosenberg, 101 Wis. 172, 76 N.W. 345; State vs.
spend three years, although they would complete two years before the Whitcom, 122 Wis. 110, 99 N.W. 468.
time limit. The one who commenced on the 3rd. If possessed of a
diploma, is to be admitted without examination before December 31, This law singles out Mr. Cannon and assumes to confer upon him the
1899, and without any prescribed course of study, while as to the other right to practice law and to constitute him an officer of this Court as a
the prescribed course must be pursued, and the diploma is utterly mere matter of legislative grace or favor. It is not material that he had
useless. Such classification cannot rest upon any natural reason, or bear once established his right to practice law and that one time he
any just relation to the subject sought, and none is suggested. The possessed the requisite learning and other qualifications to entitle him to
proviso is for the sole purpose of bestowing privileges upon certain that right. That fact in no matter affect the power of the Legislature to
defined persons. (pp. 647-648.) select from the great body of the public an individual upon whom it
would confer its favors.
In the case of Cannon above cited, State vs. Cannon, 240 N.W. 441, where the
legislature attempted by law to reinstate Cannon to the practice of law, the court A statute of the state of Minnesota (Laws 1929, c. 424) commanded the
also held with regards to its aspect of being a class legislation: Supreme Court to admit to the practice of law without examination, all
who had served in the military or naval forces of the United States
during the World War and received a honorable discharge therefrom and

10
who (were disabled therein or thereby within the purview of the Act of before said years under the same conditions justified. The fact that this Court
Congress approved June 7th, 1924, known as "World War Veteran's Act, has no record of examinations prior to 1946 does not signify that no one
1924 and whose disability is rated at least ten per cent thereunder at concerned may prove by some other means his right to an equal consideration.
the time of the passage of this Act." This Act was held |unconstitutional
on the ground that it clearly violated the quality clauses of the To defend the disputed law from being declared unconstitutional on account of
constitution of that state. In re Application of George W. Humphrey, 178 its retroactivity, it is argued that it is curative, and that in such form it is
Minn. 331, 227 N.W. 179. constitutional. What does Rep. Act 972 intend to cure ? Only from 1946 to 1949
were there cases in which the Tribunal permitted admission to the bar of
A good summary of a classification constitutionally acceptable is explained in 12 candidates who did not obtain the general average of 75 per cent: in 1946 those
Am. Jur. 151-153 as follows: who obtained only 72 per cent; in the 1947 and those who had 69 per cent or
more; in 1948, 70 per cent and in 1949, 74 per cent; and in 1950 to 1953, those
The general rule is well settled by unanimity of the authorities that a who obtained 74 per cent, which was considered by the Court as equivalent to
classification to be valid must rest upon material differences between 75 per cent as prescribed by the Rules, by reason of circumstances deemed to
the person included in it and those excluded and, furthermore, must be be sufficiently justifiable. These changes in the passing averages during those
based upon substantial distinctions. As the rule has sometimes avoided years were all that could be objected to or criticized. Now, it is desired to undo
the constitutional prohibition, must be founded upon pertinent and real what had been done — cancel the license that was issued to those who did not
differences, as distinguished from irrelevant and artificial ones. obtain the prescribed 75 per cent ? Certainly not. The disputed law clearly does
Therefore, any law that is made applicable to one class of citizens only not propose to do so. Concededly, it approves what has been done by this
must be based on some substantial difference between the situation of Tribunal. What Congress lamented is that the Court did not consider 69.5 per
that class and other individuals to which it does not apply and must rest cent obtained by those candidates who failed in 1946 to 1952 as sufficient to
on some reason on which it can be defended. In other words, there qualify them to practice law. Hence, it is the lack of will or defect of judgment of
must be such a difference between the situation and circumstances of the Court that is being cured, and to complete the cure of this infirmity, the
all the members of the class and the situation and circumstances of all effectivity of the disputed law is being extended up to the years 1953, 1954 and
other members of the state in relation to the subjects of the 1955, increasing each year the general average by one per cent, with the order
discriminatory legislation as presents a just and natural cause for the that said candidates be admitted to the Bar. This purpose, manifest in the said
difference made in their liabilities and burdens and in their rights and law, is the best proof that what the law attempts to amend and correct are not
privileges. A law is not general because it operates on all within a clause the rules promulgated, but the will or judgment of the Court, by means of simply
unless there is a substantial reason why it is made to operate on that taking its place. This is doing directly what the Tribunal should have done during
class only, and not generally on all. (12 Am. Jur. pp. 151-153.) those years according to the judgment of Congress. In other words, the power
exercised was not to repeal, alter or supplement the rules, which continue in
force. What was done was to stop or suspend them. And this power is not
Pursuant to the law in question, those who, without a grade below 50 per cent in
included in what the Constitution has granted to Congress, because it falls within
any subject, have obtained a general average of 69.5 per cent in the bar
the power to apply the rules. This power corresponds to the judiciary, to which
examinations in 1946 to 1951, 70.5 per cent in 1952, 71.5 per cent in 1953, and
such duty been confided.
those will obtain 72.5 per cent in 1954, and 73.5 per cent in 1955, will be
permitted to take and subscribe the corresponding oath of office as members of
the Bar, notwithstanding that the rules require a minimum general average of 75 Article 2 of the law in question permits partial passing of examinations, at
per cent, which has been invariably followed since 1950. Is there any motive of indefinite intervals. The grave defect of this system is that it does not take into
the nature indicated by the abovementioned authorities, for this classification ? If account that the laws and jurisprudence are not stationary, and when a
there is none, and none has been given, then the classification is fatally candidate finally receives his certificate, it may happen that the existing laws and
defective. jurisprudence are already different, seriously affecting in this manner his
usefulness. The system that the said law prescribes was used in the first bar
examinations of this country, but was abandoned for this and other
It was indicated that those who failed in 1944, 1941 or the years before, with
disadvantages. In this case, however, the fatal defect is that the article is not
the general average indicated, were not included because the Tribunal has no
expressed in the title will have temporary effect only from 1946 to 1955, the text
record of the unsuccessful candidates of those years. This fact does not justify
of article 2 establishes a permanent system for an indefinite time. This is
the unexplained classification of unsuccessful candidates by years, from 1946-
contrary to Section 21 (1), article VI of the Constitution, which vitiates and
1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955. Neither is the exclusion of those who failed

11
annuls article 2 completely; and because it is inseparable from article 1, it is justify the admission to the Bar of law students inadequately prepared. The
obvious that its nullity affect the entire law. pretended classification is arbitrary. It is undoubtedly a class legislation.

Laws are unconstitutional on the following grounds: first, because they are not 5. Article 2 of Republic Act No. 972 is not embraced in the title of the law,
within the legislative powers of Congress to enact, or Congress has exceeded its contrary to what the Constitution enjoins, and being inseparable from the
powers; second, because they create or establish arbitrary methods or forms provisions of article 1, the entire law is void.
that infringe constitutional principles; and third, because their purposes or effects
violate the Constitution or its basic principles. As has already been seen, the 6. Lacking in eight votes to declare the nullity of that part of article 1 referring to
contested law suffers from these fatal defects. the examinations of 1953 to 1955, said part of article 1, insofar as it concerns
the examinations in those years, shall continue in force.
Summarizing, we are of the opinion and hereby declare that Republic Act No.
972 is unconstitutional and therefore, void, and without any force nor effect for
the following reasons, to wit:

1. Because its declared purpose is to admit 810 candidates who failed in the bar RESOLUTION
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
Upon mature deliberation by this Court, after hearing and availing of the
years. It decrees the admission to the Bar of these candidates, depriving this
magnificent and impassioned discussion of the contested law by our Chief Justice
Tribunal of the opportunity to determine if they are at present already prepared
at the opening and close of the debate among the members of the Court, and
to become members of the Bar. It obliges the Tribunal to perform something
after hearing the judicious observations of two of our beloved colleagues who
contrary to reason and in an arbitrary manner. This is a manifest encroachment
since the beginning have announced their decision not to take part in voting, we,
on the constitutional responsibility of the Supreme Court.
the eight members of the Court who subscribed to this decision have voted and
resolved, and have decided for the Court, and under the authority of the same:
2. Because it is, in effect, a judgment revoking the resolution of this Court on the
petitions of these 810 candidates, without having examined their respective
1. That (a) the portion of article 1 of Republic Act No. 972 referring to the
examination papers, and although it is admitted that this Tribunal may
examinations of 1946 to 1952, and (b) all of article 2 of said law are
reconsider said resolution at any time for justifiable reasons, only this Court and
unconstitutional and, therefore, void and without force and effect.
no other may revise and alter them. In attempting to do it directly Republic Act
No. 972 violated the Constitution.
2. That, for lack of unanimity in the eight Justices, that part of article 1 which
refers to the examinations subsequent to the approval of the law, that is from
3. By the disputed law, Congress has exceeded its legislative power to repeal,
1953 to 1955 inclusive, is valid and shall continue to be in force, in conformity
alter and supplement the rules on admission to the Bar. Such additional or
with section 10, article VII of the Constitution.
amendatory rules are, as they ought to be, intended to regulate acts subsequent
to its promulgation and should tend to improve and elevate the practice of law,
and this Tribunal shall consider these rules as minimum norms towards that end Consequently, (1) all the above-mentioned petitions of the candidates who failed
in the admission, suspension, disbarment and reinstatement of lawyers to the in the examinations of 1946 to 1952 inclusive are denied, and (2) all candidates
Bar, inasmuch as a good bar assists immensely in the daily performance of who in the examinations of 1953 obtained a general average of 71.5 per cent or
judicial functions and is essential to a worthy administration of justice. It is more, without having a grade below 50 per cent in any subject, are considered
therefore the primary and inherent prerogative of the Supreme Court to render as having passed, whether they have filed petitions for admission or not. After
the ultimate decision on who may be admitted and may continue in the practice this decision has become final, they shall be permitted to take and subscribe the
of law according to existing rules. corresponding oath of office as members of the Bar on the date or dates that the
chief Justice may set. So ordered.
4. The reason advanced for the pretended classification of candidates, which the
law makes, is contrary to facts which are of general knowledge and does not Bengzon, Montemayor, Jugo, Labrador, Pablo, Padilla, and Reyes, JJ., concur.

12
13
Separate Opinions With reference to the bar examinations given in August, 1946, the original list of
successful candidates included only those who obtained a general average of 75
LABRADOR, J., concurring and dissenting: per cent or more. Upon motion for reconsideration, however, 12 candidates with
general averages ranging from 72 to 73 per cent were raised to 75 per cent by
resolution of December 18, 1946. In the examinations of November, 1946 the list
The right to admit members to the Bar is, and has always been, the exclusive
first released containing the names of successful candidates covered only those
privilege of this Court, because lawyers are members of the Court and only this
who obtained a general average of 75 per cent or more; but, upon motion for
Court should be allowed to determine admission thereto in the interest of the
reconsideration, 19 candidates with a general average of 72 per cent were raised
principle of the separation of powers. The power to admit is judicial in the sense
to 75 per cent by resolution of March 31, 1947. This would indicate that in the
that discretion is used in is exercise. This power should be distinguished from the
original list of successful candidates those having a general average of 73 per
power to promulgate rules which regulate admission. It is only this power (to
cent or more but below 75 per cent were included. After the original list of 1947
promulgate amendments to the rules) that is given in the Constitution to the
successful bar candidates had been released, and on motion for reconsideration,
Congress, not the exercise of the discretion to admit or not to admit. Thus the
all candidates with a general average of 69 per cent were allowed to pass by
rules on the holding of examination, the qualifications of applicants, the passing
resolution of July 15, 1948. With respect to the bar examinations held in August,
grades, etc. are within the scope of the legislative power. But the power to
1948, in addition to the original list of successful bar candidates, all those who
determine when a candidate has made or has not made the required grade is
obtained a general average of 70 per cent or more, irrespective of the grades in
judicial, and lies completely with this Court.
any one subject and irrespective of whether they filed petitions for
reconsideration, were allowed to pass by resolution of April 28, 1949. Thus, for
I hold that the act under consideration is an exercise of the judicial function, and the year 1947 the Court in effect made 69 per cent as the passing average, and
lies beyond the scope of the congressional prerogative of amending the rules. To for the year 1948, 70 per cent; and this amounted, without being noticed
say that candidates who obtain a general average of 72 per cent in 1953, 73 per perhaps, to an amendment of section 14 of Rule 127.
cent in 1954, and 74 per cent in 1955 should be considered as having passed the
examination, is to mean exercise of the privilege and discretion judged in this
Numerous flunkers in the bar examinations held subsequent to 1948, whose
Court. It is a mandate to the tribunal to pass candidates for different years with
general averages mostly ranged from 69 to 73 per cent, filed motions for
grades lower than the passing mark. No reasoning is necessary to show that it is
reconsideration invoking the precedents set by this Court in 1947 and 1948, but
an arrogation of the Court's judicial authority and discretion. It is furthermore
said motions were uniformly denied.
objectionable as discriminatory. Why should those taking the examinations in
1953, 1954 and 1955 be allowed to have the privilege of a lower passing grade,
while those taking earlier or later are not? In the year 1951, the Congress, after public hearings where law deans and
professors, practising attorneys, presidents of bar associations, and law
graduates appeared and argued lengthily pro or con, approved a bill providing,
I vote that the act in toto be declared unconstitutional, because it is not
among others, for the reduction of the passing general average from 75 per cent
embraced within the rule-making power of Congress, because it is an undue
to 70 per cent, retroactive to any bar examination held after July 4, 1946. This
interference with the power of this Court to admit members thereof, and
bill was vetoed by the President mainly in view of an unfavorable comment of
because it is discriminatory.
Justices Padilla, Tuason, Montemayor, Reyes, Bautista and Jugo. In 1953, the
Congress passed another bill similar to the previous bill vetoed by the President,
with the important difference that in the later bill the provisions in the first bill
regarding (1) the supervision and regulation by the Supreme Court of the study
of law, (2) the inclusion of Social Legislation and Taxation as new bar subjects,
PARAS, C.J., dissenting: (3) the publication of the bar examiners before the holding of the examination,
and (4) the equal division among the examiners of all the admission fees paid by
Under section 145 of Rule of Court No. 127, in order that a bar candidate "may bar applicants, were eliminated. This second bill was allowed to become a law,
be deemed to have passed his examinations successfully, he must have obtained Republic Act No. 972, by the President by merely not signing it within the
a general average of 75 per cent in all subjects, without falling below 50 per cent required period; and in doing so the President gave due respect to the will of the
in any subject.' This passing mark has always been adhered to, with certain Congress which, speaking for the people, chose to repass the bill first vetoed by
exception presently to be specified. him.

14
Under Republic Act No. 972, any bar candidates who obtained a general average The opponents of Republic Act No. 972 argue that this Act, in so far as it covers
of 70 per cent in any examinations after July 4, 1946 up to August 1951; 71 per bar examinations held prior to its approval, is unconstitutional, because it sets
cent in the 1952 bar examinations; 72 per cent in 1953 bar examinations; 73 per aside the final resolutions of the Supreme Court refusing to admit to the practice
cent in the 1954 bar examinations; and 74 per cent in the 1955 bar of law the various petitioners, thereby resulting in a legislative encroachment
examinations, without obtaining a grade below 50 per cent in any subject, shall upon the judicial power. In my opinion this view is erroneous. In the first place,
be allowed to pass. Said Act also provides that any bar candidate who obtained a resolutions on the rejection of bar candidates do not have the finality of
grade of 75 per cent in any subject in any examination after July 4, 1946, shall decisions in justiciable cases where the Rules of Court expressly fix certain
be deemed to have passed in such subject or subjects and such grade or grades periods after which they become executory and unalterable. Resolutions on bar
shall be included in computing the passing in any subsequent examinations. matters, specially on motions for reconsiderations filed by flunkers in any give
year, are subject to revision by this Court at any time, regardless of the period
Numerous candidates who had taken the bar examinations previous to the within which the motion were filed, and this has been the practice heretofore.
approval of Republic Act No. 972 and failed to obtain the necessary passing The obvious reason is that bar examinations and admission to the practice of law
average, filed with this Court mass or separate petitions, praying that they be may be deemed as a judicial function only because said matters happen to be
admitted to the practice of law under and by virtue of said Act, upon the entrusted, under the Constitution and our Rules of Court, to the Supreme Court.
allegation that they have obtained the general averages prescribed therein. In There is no judicial function involved, in the subject and constitutional sense of
virtue of the resolution of July 6, 1953, this Court held on July 11, 1953 a the word, because bar examinations and the admission to the practice of law,
hearing on said petitions, and members of the bar, especially authorized unlike justiciable cases, do not affect opposing litigants. It is no more than the
representatives of bar associations, were invited to argue or submit memoranda function of other examining boards. In the second place, retroactive laws are not
as amici curiae, the reason alleged for said hearing being that some doubt had prohibited by the Constitution, except only when they would be ex post facto,
"been expressed on the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 972 in so far as it would impair obligations and contracts or vested rights or would deny due
affects past bar examinations and the matter" involved "a new question of public process and equal protection of the law. Republic Act No. 972 certainly is not
interest." an ex post facto enactment, does not impair any obligation and contract or
vested rights, and denies to no one the right to due process and equal protection
of the law. On the other hand, it is a mere curative statute intended to correct
All discussions in support of the proposition that the power to regulate the
certain obvious inequalities arising from the adoption by this Court of different
admission to the practice of law is inherently judicial, are immaterial, because
passing general averages in certain years.
the subject is now governed by the Constitution which in Article VII, section 13,
provides as follows:
Neither can it be said that bar candidates prior to July 4, 1946, are being
discriminated against, because we no longer have any record of those who might
The Supreme Court shall have the power to promulgate rules concerning
have failed before the war, apart from the circumstance that 75 per cent had
pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, and the admission to the
always been the passing mark during said period. It may also be that there are
practice of law. Said rules shall be uniform for all courts of the same
no pre-war bar candidates similarly situated as those benefited by Republic Act
grade and shall not diminish, increase or modify substantive right. The
No. 972. At any rate, in the matter of classification, the reasonableness must be
existing laws on pleading, practice, and procedure are hereby repealed
determined by the legislative body. It is proper to recall that the Congress held
as statutes and are declared Rules of Court, subject to the power of the
public hearings, and we can fairly suppose that the classification adopted in the
Supreme Court to alter and modify the same. The Congress shall have
Act reflects good legislative judgment derived from the facts and circumstances
the power to repeal, alter, or supplement the rules concerning pleading,
then brought out.
practice, and procedure, and the admission to the practice of law in the
Philippines.
As regards the alleged interference in or encroachment upon the judgment of
this Court by the Legislative Department, it is sufficient to state that, if there is
Under this constitutional provision, while the Supreme Court has the power to
any interference at all, it is one expressly sanctioned by the Constitution.
promulgate rules concerning the admission to the practice of law, the Congress
Besides, interference in judicial adjudication prohibited by the Constitution is
has the power to repeal, alter or supplement said rules. Little intelligence is
essentially aimed at protecting rights of litigants that have already been vested
necessary to see that the power of the Supreme Court and the Congress to
or acquired in virtue of decisions of courts, not merely for the empty purpose of
regulate the admission to the practice of law is concurrent.
creating appearances of separation and equality among the three branches of
the Government. Republic Act No. 972 has not produced a case involving two

15
parties and decided by the Court in favor of one and against the other. Needless Court regarding the admission to the practice of law, may act in an arbitrary or
to say, the statute will not affect the previous resolutions passing bar candidates capricious manner, in the same way that this Court may not do so. We are thus
who had obtained the general average prescribed by section 14 of Rule 127. A left in the situation, incidental to a democracy, where we can and should only
law would be objectionable and unconstitutional if, for instance, it would provide hope that the right men are put in the right places in our Government.
that those who have been admitted to the bar after July 4, 1946, whose general
average is below 80 per cent, will not be allowed to practice law, because said Wherefore, I hold that Republic Act No. 972 is constitutional and should
statute would then destroy a right already acquired under previous resolutions of therefore be given effect in its entirety.
this Court, namely, the bar admission of those whose general averages were
from 75 to 79 per cent.

Without fear of contradiction, I think the Supreme Court, in the exercise of its
rule-making power conferred by the Constitution, may pass a resolution
Separate Opinions
amending section 14 of Rule 127 by reducing the passing average to 70 per
cent, effective several years before the date of the resolution. Indeed, when this
Court on July 15, 1948 allowed to pass all candidates who obtained a general LABRADOR, J., concurring and dissenting:
average of 69 per cent or more and on April 28, 1949 those who obtained a
general average of 70 per cent or more, irrespective of whether they filed The right to admit members to the Bar is, and has always been, the exclusive
petitions for reconsideration, it in effect amended section 14 of Rule 127 privilege of this Court, because lawyers are members of the Court and only this
retroactively, because during the examinations held in August 1947 and August Court should be allowed to determine admission thereto in the interest of the
1948, said section (fixing the general average at 75 per cent) was supposed to principle of the separation of powers. The power to admit is judicial in the sense
be in force. In stands to reason, if we are to admit that the Supreme Court and that discretion is used in is exercise. This power should be distinguished from the
the Congress have concurrent power to regulate the admission to the practice of power to promulgate rules which regulate admission. It is only this power (to
law, that the latter may validly pass a retroactive rule fixing the passing general promulgate amendments to the rules) that is given in the Constitution to the
average. 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
Republic Act No. 972 cannot be assailed on the ground that it is unreasonable, grades, etc. are within the scope of the legislative power. But the power to
arbitrary or capricious, since this Court had already adopted as passing averages determine when a candidate has made or has not made the required grade is
69 per cent for the 1947 bar examinations and 70 per cent for the 1948 judicial, and lies completely with this Court.
examinations. Anyway, we should not inquire into the wisdom of the law, since
this is a matter that is addressed to the judgment of the legislators. This Court in I hold that the act under consideration is an exercise of the judicial function, and
many instances had doubted the propriety of legislative enactments, and yet it lies beyond the scope of the congressional prerogative of amending the rules. To
has consistently refrained from nullifying them solely on that ground. say that candidates who obtain a general average of 72 per cent in 1953, 73 per
cent in 1954, and 74 per cent in 1955 should be considered as having passed the
To say that the admission of the bar candidates benefited under Republic Act examination, is to mean exercise of the privilege and discretion judged in this
972 is against public interest, is to assume that the matter of whether said Act is Court. It is a mandate to the tribunal to pass candidates for different years with
beneficial or harmful to the general public was not considered by the Congress. grades lower than the passing mark. No reasoning is necessary to show that it is
As already stated, the Congress held public hearings, and we are bound to an arrogation of the Court's judicial authority and discretion. It is furthermore
assume that the legislators, loyal, as do the members of this Court, to their oath objectionable as discriminatory. Why should those taking the examinations in
of office, had taken all the circumstances into account before passing the Act. On 1953, 1954 and 1955 be allowed to have the privilege of a lower passing grade,
the question of public interest I may observe that the Congress, representing the while those taking earlier or later are not?
people who elected them, should be more qualified to make an appraisal. I am
inclined to accept Republic Act No. 972 as an expression of the will of the people I vote that the act in toto be declared unconstitutional, because it is not
through their duly elected representatives. embraced within the rule-making power of Congress, because it is an undue
interference with the power of this Court to admit members thereof, and
I would, however, not go to the extent of admitting that the Congress, in the because it is discriminatory.
exercise of its concurrent power to repeal, alter, or supplement the Rules of

16
Congress passed another bill similar to the previous bill vetoed by the President,
with the important difference that in the later bill the provisions in the first bill
regarding (1) the supervision and regulation by the Supreme Court of the study
PARAS, C.J., dissenting: of law, (2) the inclusion of Social Legislation and Taxation as new bar subjects,
(3) the publication of the bar examiners before the holding of the examination,
and (4) the equal division among the examiners of all the admission fees paid by
Under section 145 of Rule of Court No. 127, in order that a bar candidate "may
bar applicants, were eliminated. This second bill was allowed to become a law,
be deemed to have passed his examinations successfully, he must have obtained
Republic Act No. 972, by the President by merely not signing it within the
a general average of 75 per cent in all subjects, without falling below 50 per cent
required period; and in doing so the President gave due respect to the will of the
in any subject.' This passing mark has always been adhered to, with certain
Congress which, speaking for the people, chose to repass the bill first vetoed by
exception presently to be specified.
him.

With reference to the bar examinations given in August, 1946, the original list of
Under Republic Act No. 972, any bar candidates who obtained a general average
successful candidates included only those who obtained a general average of 75
of 70 per cent in any examinations after July 4, 1946 up to August 1951; 71 per
per cent or more. Upon motion for reconsideration, however, 12 candidates with
cent in the 1952 bar examinations; 72 per cent in 1953 bar examinations; 73 per
general averages ranging from 72 to 73 per cent were raised to 75 per cent by
cent in the 1954 bar examinations; and 74 per cent in the 1955 bar
resolution of December 18, 1946. In the examinations of November, 1946 the list
examinations, without obtaining a grade below 50 per cent in any subject, shall
first released containing the names of successful candidates covered only those
be allowed to pass. Said Act also provides that any bar candidate who obtained a
who obtained a general average of 75 per cent or more; but, upon motion for
grade of 75 per cent in any subject in any examination after July 4, 1946, shall
reconsideration, 19 candidates with a general average of 72 per cent were raised
be deemed to have passed in such subject or subjects and such grade or grades
to 75 per cent by resolution of March 31, 1947. This would indicate that in the
shall be included in computing the passing in any subsequent examinations.
original list of successful candidates those having a general average of 73 per
cent or more but below 75 per cent were included. After the original list of 1947
successful bar candidates had been released, and on motion for reconsideration, Numerous candidates who had taken the bar examinations previous to the
all candidates with a general average of 69 per cent were allowed to pass by approval of Republic Act No. 972 and failed to obtain the necessary passing
resolution of July 15, 1948. With respect to the bar examinations held in August, average, filed with this Court mass or separate petitions, praying that they be
1948, in addition to the original list of successful bar candidates, all those who admitted to the practice of law under and by virtue of said Act, upon the
obtained a general average of 70 per cent or more, irrespective of the grades in allegation that they have obtained the general averages prescribed therein. In
any one subject and irrespective of whether they filed petitions for virtue of the resolution of July 6, 1953, this Court held on July 11, 1953 a
reconsideration, were allowed to pass by resolution of April 28, 1949. Thus, for hearing on said petitions, and members of the bar, especially authorized
the year 1947 the Court in effect made 69 per cent as the passing average, and representatives of bar associations, were invited to argue or submit memoranda
for the year 1948, 70 per cent; and this amounted, without being noticed as amici curiae, the reason alleged for said hearing being that some doubt had
perhaps, to an amendment of section 14 of Rule 127. "been expressed on the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 972 in so far as it
affects past bar examinations and the matter" involved "a new question of public
interest."
Numerous flunkers in the bar examinations held subsequent to 1948, whose
general averages mostly ranged from 69 to 73 per cent, filed motions for
reconsideration invoking the precedents set by this Court in 1947 and 1948, but All discussions in support of the proposition that the power to regulate the
said motions were uniformly denied. admission to the practice of law is inherently judicial, are immaterial, because
the subject is now governed by the Constitution which in Article VII, section 13,
provides as follows:
In the year 1951, the Congress, after public hearings where law deans and
professors, practising attorneys, presidents of bar associations, and law
graduates appeared and argued lengthily pro or con, approved a bill providing, The Supreme Court shall have the power to promulgate rules concerning
among others, for the reduction of the passing general average from 75 per cent pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, and the admission to the
to 70 per cent, retroactive to any bar examination held after July 4, 1946. This practice of law. Said rules shall be uniform for all courts of the same
bill was vetoed by the President mainly in view of an unfavorable comment of grade and shall not diminish, increase or modify substantive right. The
Justices Padilla, Tuason, Montemayor, Reyes, Bautista and Jugo. In 1953, the existing laws on pleading, practice, and procedure are hereby repealed
as statutes and are declared Rules of Court, subject to the power of the

17
Supreme Court to alter and modify the same. The Congress shall have Act reflects good legislative judgment derived from the facts and circumstances
the power to repeal, alter, or supplement the rules concerning pleading, then brought out.
practice, and procedure, and the admission to the practice of law in the
Philippines. As regards the alleged interference in or encroachment upon the judgment of
this Court by the Legislative Department, it is sufficient to state that, if there is
Under this constitutional provision, while the Supreme Court has the power to any interference at all, it is one expressly sanctioned by the Constitution.
promulgate rules concerning the admission to the practice of law, the Congress Besides, interference in judicial adjudication prohibited by the Constitution is
has the power to repeal, alter or supplement said rules. Little intelligence is essentially aimed at protecting rights of litigants that have already been vested
necessary to see that the power of the Supreme Court and the Congress to or acquired in virtue of decisions of courts, not merely for the empty purpose of
regulate the admission to the practice of law is concurrent. creating appearances of separation and equality among the three branches of
the Government. Republic Act No. 972 has not produced a case involving two
The opponents of Republic Act No. 972 argue that this Act, in so far as it covers parties and decided by the Court in favor of one and against the other. Needless
bar examinations held prior to its approval, is unconstitutional, because it sets to say, the statute will not affect the previous resolutions passing bar candidates
aside the final resolutions of the Supreme Court refusing to admit to the practice who had obtained the general average prescribed by section 14 of Rule 127. A
of law the various petitioners, thereby resulting in a legislative encroachment law would be objectionable and unconstitutional if, for instance, it would provide
upon the judicial power. In my opinion this view is erroneous. In the first place, that those who have been admitted to the bar after July 4, 1946, whose general
resolutions on the rejection of bar candidates do not have the finality of average is below 80 per cent, will not be allowed to practice law, because said
decisions in justiciable cases where the Rules of Court expressly fix certain statute would then destroy a right already acquired under previous resolutions of
periods after which they become executory and unalterable. Resolutions on bar this Court, namely, the bar admission of those whose general averages were
matters, specially on motions for reconsiderations filed by flunkers in any give from 75 to 79 per cent.
year, are subject to revision by this Court at any time, regardless of the period
within which the motion were filed, and this has been the practice heretofore. Without fear of contradiction, I think the Supreme Court, in the exercise of its
The obvious reason is that bar examinations and admission to the practice of law rule-making power conferred by the Constitution, may pass a resolution
may be deemed as a judicial function only because said matters happen to be amending section 14 of Rule 127 by reducing the passing average to 70 per
entrusted, under the Constitution and our Rules of Court, to the Supreme Court. cent, effective several years before the date of the resolution. Indeed, when this
There is no judicial function involved, in the subject and constitutional sense of Court on July 15, 1948 allowed to pass all candidates who obtained a general
the word, because bar examinations and the admission to the practice of law, average of 69 per cent or more and on April 28, 1949 those who obtained a
unlike justiciable cases, do not affect opposing litigants. It is no more than the general average of 70 per cent or more, irrespective of whether they filed
function of other examining boards. In the second place, retroactive laws are not petitions for reconsideration, it in effect amended section 14 of Rule 127
prohibited by the Constitution, except only when they would be ex post facto, retroactively, because during the examinations held in August 1947 and August
would impair obligations and contracts or vested rights or would deny due 1948, said section (fixing the general average at 75 per cent) was supposed to
process and equal protection of the law. Republic Act No. 972 certainly is not be in force. In stands to reason, if we are to admit that the Supreme Court and
an ex post facto enactment, does not impair any obligation and contract or the Congress have concurrent power to regulate the admission to the practice of
vested rights, and denies to no one the right to due process and equal protection law, that the latter may validly pass a retroactive rule fixing the passing general
of the law. On the other hand, it is a mere curative statute intended to correct average.
certain obvious inequalities arising from the adoption by this Court of different
passing general averages in certain years. Republic Act No. 972 cannot be assailed on the ground that it is unreasonable,
arbitrary or capricious, since this Court had already adopted as passing averages
Neither can it be said that bar candidates prior to July 4, 1946, are being 69 per cent for the 1947 bar examinations and 70 per cent for the 1948
discriminated against, because we no longer have any record of those who might examinations. Anyway, we should not inquire into the wisdom of the law, since
have failed before the war, apart from the circumstance that 75 per cent had this is a matter that is addressed to the judgment of the legislators. This Court in
always been the passing mark during said period. It may also be that there are many instances had doubted the propriety of legislative enactments, and yet it
no pre-war bar candidates similarly situated as those benefited by Republic Act has consistently refrained from nullifying them solely on that ground.
No. 972. At any rate, in the matter of classification, the reasonableness must be
determined by the legislative body. It is proper to recall that the Congress held To say that the admission of the bar candidates benefited under Republic Act
public hearings, and we can fairly suppose that the classification adopted in the 972 is against public interest, is to assume that the matter of whether said Act is

18
beneficial or harmful to the general public was not considered by the Congress.
As already stated, the Congress held public hearings, and we are bound to
assume that the legislators, loyal, as do the members of this Court, to their oath
of office, had taken all the circumstances into account before passing the Act. On
the question of public interest I may observe that the Congress, representing the
people who elected them, should be more qualified to make an appraisal. I am
inclined to accept Republic Act No. 972 as an expression of the will of the people
through their duly elected representatives.

I would, however, not go to the extent of admitting that the Congress, in the
exercise of its concurrent power to repeal, alter, or supplement the Rules of
Court regarding the admission to the practice of law, may act in an arbitrary or
capricious manner, in the same way that this Court may not do so. We are thus
left in the situation, incidental to a democracy, where we can and should only
hope that the right men are put in the right places in our Government.

Wherefore, I hold that Republic Act No. 972 is constitutional and should
therefore be given effect in its entirety.

19
January 9, 1973 integration of the Philippine Bar under such conditions as it shall
see fit in order to raise the standards of the legal profession,
IN THE MATTER OF THE INTEGRATION OF THE BAR OF THE improve the administration of justice, and enable the Bar to
PHILIPPINES. discharge its public responsibility more effectively.

RESOLUTION SEC. 2. The sum of five hundred thousand pesos is hereby


appropriated, out of any funds in the National Treasury not
otherwise appropriated, to carry out the purposes of this Act.
Thereafter, such sums as may be necessary for the same
purpose shall be included in the annual appropriations for the
PER CURIAM: Supreme Court.

On December 1, 1972, the Commission on Bar Integration1 submitted its Report SEC. 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
dated November 30, 1972, with the "earnest recommendation" — on the basis of
the said Report and the proceedings had in Administrative Case No. 5262 of the
The Report of the Commission abounds with argument on the constitutionality of
Court, and "consistently with the views and counsel received from its [the
Bar integration and contains all necessary factual data bearing on the advisability
Commission's] Board of Consultants, as well as the overwhelming nationwide
(practicability and necessity) of Bar integration. Also embodied therein are the
sentiment of the Philippine Bench and Bar" — that "this Honorable Court ordain
views, opinions, sentiments, comments and observations of the rank and file of
the integration of the Philippine Bar as soon as possible through the adoption
the Philippine lawyer population relative to Bar integration, as well as a proposed
and promulgation of an appropriate Court Rule."
integration Court Rule drafted by the Commission and presented to them by that
body in a national Bar plebiscite. There is thus sufficient basis as well as ample
The petition in Adm. Case No. 526 formally prays the Court to order the material upon which the Court may decide whether or not to integrate the
integration of the Philippine Bar, after due hearing, giving recognition as far as Philippine Bar at this time.
possible and practicable to existing provincial and other local Bar associations.
On August 16, 1962, arguments in favor of as well as in opposition to the
The following are the pertinent issues:
petition were orally expounded before the Court. Written oppositions were
admitted,3 and all parties were thereafter granted leave to file written
memoranda.4 (1) Does the Court have the power to integrate the Philippine
Bar?
Since then, the Court has closely observed and followed significant developments
relative to the matter of the integration of the Bar in this jurisdiction. (2) Would the integration of the Bar be constitutional?

In 1970, convinced from preliminary surveys that there had grown a strong (3) Should the Court ordain the integration of the Bar at this
nationwide sentiment in favor of Bar integration, the Court created the time?
Commission on Bar Integration for the purpose of ascertaining the advisability of
unifying the Philippine Bar. A resolution of these issues requires, at the outset, a statement of the meaning
of Bar integration. It will suffice, for this purpose, to adopt the concept given by
In September, 1971, Congress passed House Bill No. 3277 entitled "An Act the Commission on Bar Integration on pages 3 to 5 of its Report, thus:
Providing for the Integration of the Philippine Bar, and Appropriating Funds
Therefor." The measure was signed by President Ferdinand E. Marcos on Integration of the Philippine Bar means the official unification of
September 17, 1971 and took effect on the same day as Rep. Act 6397. This law the entire lawyer population of the Philippines. This
provides as follows: requires membership and financial support (in reasonable
amount) of every attorney as conditions sine qua non to the
SECTION 1. Within two years from the approval of this Act, the practice of law and the retention of his name in the Roll of
Supreme Court may adopt rules of court to effect the Attorneys of the Supreme Court.

20
The term "Bar" refers to the collectivity of all persons whose Integration of the Bar will, among other things, make it possible
names appear in the Roll of Attorneys. An Integrated Bar (or for the legal profession to:
Unified Bar) perforce must include all lawyers.
(1) Render more effective assistance in maintaining the Rule of
Complete unification is not possible unless it is decreed by an Law;
entity with power to do so: the State. Bar integration, therefore,
signifies the setting up by Government authority of a national (2) Protect lawyers and litigants against the abuse of tyrannical
organization of the legal profession based on the recognition of judges and prosecuting officers;
the lawyer as an officer of the court.
(3) Discharge, fully and properly, its responsibility in the
Designed to improve the position of the Bar as an disciplining and/or removal of incompetent and unworthy
instrumentality of justice and the Rule of Law, integration judges and prosecuting officers;
fosters cohesion among lawyers, and ensures, through their
own organized action and participation, the promotion of the
(4) Shield the judiciary, which traditionally cannot defend itself
objectives of the legal profession, pursuant to the principle of
except within its own forum, from the assaults that politics and
maximum Bar autonomy with minimum supervision and
self-interest may level at it, and assist it to maintain its
regulation by the Supreme Court.
integrity, impartiality and independence;

The purposes of an integrated Bar, in general, are:


(5) Have an effective voice in the selection of judges and
prosecuting officers;
(1) Assist in the administration of justice;
(6) Prevent the unauthorized practice of law, and break up any
(2) Foster and maintain on the part of its members high ideals monopoly of local practice maintained through influence or
of integrity, learning, professional competence, public service position;
and conduct;
(7) Establish welfare funds for families of disabled and
(3) Safeguard the professional interests of its members; deceased lawyers;

(4) Cultivate among its members a spirit of cordiality and (8) Provide placement services, and establish legal aid offices
brotherhood; and set up lawyer reference services throughout the country so
that the poor may not lack competent legal service;
(5) Provide a forum for the discussion of law, jurisprudence, law
reform, pleading, practice and procedure, and the relations of (9) Distribute educational and informational materials that are
the Bar to the Bench and to the public, and publish information difficult to obtain in many of our provinces;
relating thereto;
(10) Devise and maintain a program of continuing legal
(6) Encourage and foster legal education; education for practising attorneys in order to elevate the
standards of the profession throughout the country;
(7) Promote a continuing program of legal research in
substantive and adjective law, and make reports and (11) Enforce rigid ethical standards, and promulgate minimum
recommendations thereon; and fees schedules;

(8) Enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility (12) Create law centers and establish law libraries for legal
effectively. research;

21
(13) Conduct campaigns to educate the people on their legal brethren in the profession, to the courts, and to the nation; and
rights and obligations, on the importance of preventive legal takes part in one of the most important functions of the State,
advice, and on the functions and duties of the Filipino lawyer; the administration of justice, as an officer of the court.
and
— Because the practice of law is privilege clothed with public
(14) Generate and maintain pervasive and meaningful country- interest, it is far and just that the exercise of that privilege be
wide involvement of the lawyer population in the solution of the regulated to assure compliance with the lawyer's public
multifarious problems that afflict the nation. responsibilities.

Anent the first issue, the Court is of the view that it may integrate the Philippine — These public responsibilities can best be discharged through
Bar in the exercise of its power, under Article VIII, Sec. 13 of the Constitution, collective action; but there can be no collective action without
"to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, an organized body; no organized body can operate effectively
and the admission to the practice of law." Indeed, the power to integrate is an without incurring expenses; therefore, it is fair and just that all
inherent part of the Court's constitutional authority over the Bar. In providing attorneys be required to contribute to the support of such
that "the Supreme Court may adopt rules of court to effect the integration of the organized body; and, given existing Bar conditions, the most
Philippine Bar," Republic Act 6397 neither confers a new power nor restricts the efficient means of doing so is by integrating the Bar through a
Court's inherent power, but is a mere legislative declaration that the integration rule of court that requires all lawyers to pay annual dues to the
of the Bar will promote public interest or, more specifically, will "raise the Integrated Bar.
standards of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice, and
enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively." 1. Freedom of Association.

Resolution of the second issue — whether the unification of the Bar would be To compel a lawyer to be a member of an integrated Bar is not
constitutional — hinges on the effects of Bar integration on the lawyer's violative of his constitutional freedom to associate (or the
constitutional rights of freedom of association and freedom of speech, and on corollary right not to associate).
the nature of the dues exacted from him.
Integration does not make a lawyer a member of any group of
The Court approvingly quotes the following pertinent discussion made by the which he is not already a member. He became a member of the
Commission on Bar Integration pages 44 to 49 of its Report: Bar when he passed the Bar examinations. All that integration
actually does is to provide an official national organization for
Constitutionality of Bar Integration the well-defined but unorganized and incohesive group of which
every lawyer is already a member.
Judicial Pronouncements.
Bar integration does not compel the lawyer to associate with
In all cases where the validity of Bar integration measures has anyone. He is free to attend or not attend the meetings of his
been put in issue, the Courts have upheld their constitutionality. Integrated Bar Chapter or vote or refuse to vote in its elections
as he chooses. The body compulsion to which he is subjected is
the payment of annual dues.
The judicial pronouncements support this reasoning:

Otherwise stated, membership in the Unified Bar imposes only


— Courts have inherent power to supervise and regulate the
the duty to pay dues in reasonable amount. The issue
practice of law.
therefore, is a question of compelled financial support of group
activities, not involuntary membership in any other aspect.
— The practice of law is not a vested right but a privilege; a
privilege, moreover, clothed with public interest, because a
The greater part of Unified Bar activities serves the function of
lawyer owes duties not only to his client, but also to his
elevating the educational and ethical standards of the Bar to the

22
end of improving the quality of the legal service available to the Since a State may constitutionally condition the right to practice
people. The Supreme Court, in order to further the State's law upon membership in the Integrated Bar, it is difficult to
legitimate interest in elevating the quality of professional understand why it should become unconstitutional for the Bar
services, may require that the cost of improving the profession to use the member's dues to fulfill the very purposes for which
in this fashion be shared by the subjects and beneficiaries of it was established.
the regulatory program — the lawyers.
The objection would make every Governmental exaction the
Assuming that Bar integration does compel a lawyer to be a material of a "free speech" issue. Even the income tax would be
member of the Integrated Bar, such compulsion is justified as suspect. The objection would carry us to lengths that have
an exercise of the police power of the State. The legal never been dreamed of. The conscientious objector, if his
profession has long been regarded as a proper subject of liberties were to be thus extended, might refuse to contribute
legislative regulation and control. Moreover, the inherent power taxes in furtherance of war or of any other end condemned by
of the Supreme Court to regulate the Bar includes the authority his conscience as irreligious or immoral. The right of private
to integrate the Bar. judgment has never yet been exalted above the powers and the
compulsion of the agencies of Government.
2. Regulatory Fee.
4. Fair to All Lawyers.
For the Court to prescribe dues to be paid by the members does
not mean that the Court levies a tax. Bar integration is not unfair to lawyers already practising
because although the requirement to pay annual dues is a new
A membership fee in the Integrated Bar is an exaction for regulation, it will give the members of the Bar a new system
regulation, while the purpose of a tax is revenue. If the Court which they hitherto have not had and through which, by proper
has inherent power to regulate the Bar, it follows that as an work, they will receive benefits they have not heretofore
incident to regulation, it may impose a membership fee for that enjoyed, and discharge their public responsibilities in a more
purpose. It would not be possible to push through an effective manner than they have been able to do in the past.
Integrated Bar program without means to defray the Because the requirement to pay dues is a valid exercise of
concomitant expenses. The doctrine of implied powers regulatory power by the Court, because it will apply equally to
necessarily includes the power to impose such an exaction. all lawyers, young and old, at the time Bar integration takes
effect, and because it is a new regulation in exchange for new
benefits, it is not retroactive, it is not unequal, it is not unfair.
The only limitation upon the State's power to regulate the Bar is
that the regulation does not impose an unconstitutional burden.
The public interest promoted by the integration of the Bar far To resolve the third and final issue — whether the Court should ordain the
outweighs the inconsequential inconvenience to a member that integration of the Bar at this time — requires a careful overview of the
might result from his required payment of annual dues. practicability and necessity as well as the advantages and disadvantages of Bar
integration.
3. Freedom of Speech.
In many other jurisdictions, notably in England, Canada and the United States,
Bar integration has yielded the following benefits: (1) improved discipline among
A lawyer is free, as he has always been, to voice his views on
the members of the Bar; (2) greater influence and ascendancy of the Bar; (3)
any subject in any manner he wishes, even though such views
better and more meaningful participation of the individual lawyer in the activities
be opposed to positions taken by the Unified Bar.
of the Integrated Bar; (4) greater Bar facilities and services; (5) elimination of
unauthorized practice; (6) avoidance of costly membership campaigns; (7)
For the Integrated Bar to use a member's due to promote establishment of an official status for the Bar; (8) more cohesive profession; and
measures to which said member is opposed, would not nullify (9) better and more effective discharge by the Bar of its obligations and
or adversely affect his freedom of speech. responsibilities to its members, to the courts, and to the public. No less than

23
these salutary consequences are envisioned and in fact expected from the Philippines in accordance with the attached COURT RULE, effective on January
unification of the Philippine Bar. 16, 1973.

Upon the other hand, it has been variously argued that in the event of Concepcion, C.J., Makalintal, Zaldivar, Castillo, Fernando, Teehankee, Barredo,
integration, Government authority will dominate the Bar; local Bar associations Makasiar, Antonio and Esguerra, JJ., concur.
will be weakened; cliquism will be the inevitable result; effective lobbying will not
be possible; the Bar will become an impersonal Bar; and politics will intrude into
its affairs.

It is noteworthy, however, that these and other evils prophesied by opponents of


Bar integration have failed to materialize in over fifty years of Bar integration
experience in England, Canada and the United States. In all the jurisdictions
where the Integrated Bar has been tried, none of the abuses or evils feared has
arisen; on the other hand, it has restored public confidence in the Bar, enlarged
professional consciousness, energized the Bar's responsibilities to the public, and
vastly improved the administration of justice.

How do the Filipino lawyers themselves regard Bar integration? The official
statistics compiled by the Commission on Bar integration show that in
the national poll recently conducted by the Commission in the matter of the
integration of the Philippine Bar, of a total of 15,090 lawyers from all over the
archipelago who have turned in their individual responses, 14,555 (or 96.45 per
cent) voted in favor of Bar integration, while only 378 (or 2.51 per cent) voted
against it, and 157 (or 1.04 per cent) are non-commital. In addition, a total of
eighty (80) local Bar association and lawyers' groups all over the Philippines have
submitted resolutions and other expressions of unqualified endorsement and/or
support for Bar integration, while not a single local Bar association or lawyers'
group has expressed opposed position thereto. Finally, of the 13,802 individual
lawyers who cast their plebiscite ballots on the proposed integration Court Rule
drafted by the Commission, 12,855 (or 93.14 per cent) voted in favor thereof,
662 (or 4.80 per cent) vote against it, and 285 (or 2.06 per cent) are non-
committal.5 All these clearly indicate an overwhelming nationwide demand for
Bar integration at this time.

The Court is fully convinced, after a thoroughgoing conscientious study of all the
arguments adduced in Adm. Case No. 526 and the authoritative materials and
the mass of factual data contained in the exhaustive Report of the Commission
on Bar Integration, that the integration of the Philippine Bar is "perfectly
constitutional and legally unobjectionable," within the context of contemporary
conditions in the Philippines, has become an imperative means to raise the
standards of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice, and
enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility fully and effectively.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court, by virtue of the power vested in it by Section 13 of


Article VIII of the Constitution, hereby ordains the integration of the Bar of the

24
A.C. No. 5299 August 19, 2003 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the
Rules of Court.3
ATTY. ISMAEL G. KHAN, JR., Assistant Court Administrator and Chief,
Public Information Office In his answer, respondent admitted the acts imputed to him, but argued that
vs. advertising and solicitation per se are not prohibited acts; that the time has come
ATTY. RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO, Respondent. to change our views about the prohibition on advertising and solicitation; that
the interest of the public is not served by the absolute prohibition on lawyer
x-----------------------x advertising; that the Court can lift the ban on lawyer advertising; and that the
rationale behind the decades-old prohibition should be abandoned. Thus, he
prayed that he be exonerated from all the charges against him and that the
G.R. No. 157053 August 19, 2003
Court promulgate a ruling that advertisement of legal services offered by a
lawyer is not contrary to law, public policy and public order as long as it is
ATTY. RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO, Petitioner, dignified.4
vs.
IBP COMMISSION ON BAR DISCIPLINE and ATTY. ISMAEL G. KHAN,
The case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation,
JR., in his capacity as Assistant Court Administrator and Chief, Public
report and recommendation.5 On June 29, 2002, the IBP Commission on Bar
Information Office, Respondents.
Discipline passed Resolution No. XV-2002-306,6 finding respondent guilty of
violation of Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and
RESOLUTION Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court, and suspended him from the practice
of law for one (1) year with the warning that a repetition of similar acts would be
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: dealt with more severely. The IBP Resolution was noted by this Court on
November 11, 2002.7
This administrative complaint arose from a paid advertisement that appeared in
the July 5, 2000 issue of the newspaper, Philippine Daily Inquirer, which reads: In the meantime, respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration,8 which
"ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE Specialist 532-4333/521-2667."1 was denied by the IBP in Resolution No. XV-2002-606 dated October 19, 20029

Ms. Ma. Theresa B. Espeleta, a staff member of the Public Information Office of Hence, the instant petition for certiorari, which was docketed as G.R. No. 157053
the Supreme Court, called up the published telephone number and pretended to entitled, "Atty. Rizalino T. Simbillo, Petitioner versus IBP Commission on Bar
be an interested party. She spoke to Mrs. Simbillo, who claimed that her Discipline, Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., Asst. Court Administrator and Chief, Public
husband, Atty. Rizalino Simbillo, was an expert in handling annulment cases and Information Office, Respondents." This petition was consolidated with A.C. No.
can guarantee a court decree within four to six months, provided the case will 5299 per the Court’s Resolution dated March 4, 2003.
not involve separation of property or custody of children. Mrs. Simbillo also said
that her husband charges a fee of P48,000.00, half of which is payable at the In a Resolution dated March 26, 2003, the parties were required to manifest
time of filing of the case and the other half after a decision thereon has been whether or not they were willing to submit the case for resolution on the basis of
rendered. the pleadings.10 Complainant filed his Manifestation on April 25, 2003, stating
that he is not submitting any additional pleading or evidence and is submitting
Further research by the Office of the Court Administrator and the Public the case for its early resolution on the basis of pleadings and records
Information Office revealed that similar advertisements were published in the thereof. 11 Respondent, on the other hand, filed a Supplemental Memorandum on
August 2 and 6, 2000 issues of the Manila Bulletin and August 5, 2000 issue of June 20, 2003.
The Philippine Star.2
We agree with the IBP’s Resolutions Nos. XV-2002-306 and XV-2002-606.
On September 1, 2000, Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., in his capacity as Assistant
Court Administrator and Chief of the Public Information Office, filed an Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility read:
administrative complaint against Atty. Rizalino T. Simbillo for improper
advertising and solicitation of his legal services, in violation of Rule 2.03 and Rule

25
Rule 2.03. – A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed pleaded for compassion and after claiming that he had no intention to violate the
primarily to solicit legal business. rules. Eight months after filing his answer, he again advertised his legal services
in the August 14, 2001 issue of the Buy & Sell Free Ads Newspaper. 17 Ten
Rule 3.01. – A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, months later, he caused the same advertisement to be published in the October
misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim 5, 2001 issue of Buy & Sell.18 Such acts of respondent are a deliberate and
regarding his qualifications or legal services. contemptuous affront on the Court’s authority.

Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court states: What adds to the gravity of respondent’s acts is that in advertising himself as a
self-styled "Annulment of Marriage Specialist," he wittingly or unwittingly erodes
and undermines not only the stability but also the sanctity of an institution still
SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds
considered sacrosanct despite the contemporary climate of permissiveness in our
therefor. – A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office
society. Indeed, in assuring prospective clients that an annulment may be
as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice or other gross
obtained in four to six months from the time of the filing of the case,19 he in fact
misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct or by reason of his conviction
encourages people, who might have otherwise been disinclined and would have
of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is
refrained from dissolving their marriage bonds, to do so.
required to take before the admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience
appearing as attorney for a party without authority to do so.
Nonetheless, the solicitation of legal business is not altogether proscribed.
12 However, for solicitation to be proper, it must be compatible with the dignity of
It has been repeatedly stressed that the practice of law is not a business. It is a
the legal profession. If it is made in a modest and decorous manner, it would
profession in which duty to public service, not money, is the primary
bring no injury to the lawyer and to the bar.20 Thus, the use of simple signs
consideration. Lawyering is not primarily meant to be a money-making venture,
stating the name or names of the lawyers, the office and residence address and
and law advocacy is not a capital that necessarily yields profits. 13 The gaining of
fields of practice, as well as advertisement in legal periodicals bearing the same
a livelihood should be a secondary consideration. 14 The duty to public service and
brief data, are permissible. Even the use of calling cards is now
to the administration of justice should be the primary consideration of lawyers,
acceptable.21 Publication in reputable law lists, in a manner consistent with the
who must subordinate their personal interests or what they owe to
standards of conduct imposed by the canon, of brief biographical and informative
themselves.15 The following elements distinguish the legal profession from a
data is likewise allowable. As explicitly stated in Ulep v. Legal Clinic, Inc.: 22
business:

Such data must not be misleading and may include only a statement of the
1. A duty of public service, of which the emolument is a by-product, and
lawyer’s name and the names of his professional associates; addresses,
in which one may attain the highest eminence without making much
telephone numbers, cable addresses; branches of law practiced; date and place
money;
of birth and admission to the bar; schools attended with dates of graduation,
degrees and other educational distinctions; public or quasi-public offices; posts
2. A relation as an "officer of the court" to the administration of justice of honor; legal authorships; legal teaching positions; membership and offices in
involving thorough sincerity, integrity and reliability; bar associations and committees thereof, in legal and scientific societies and
legal fraternities; the fact of listings in other reputable law lists; the names and
3. A relation to clients in the highest degree of fiduciary; addresses of references; and, with their written consent, the names of clients
regularly represented.
4. A relation to colleagues at the bar characterized by candor, fairness,
and unwillingness to resort to current business methods of advertising The law list must be a reputable law list published primarily for that purpose; it
and encroachment on their practice, or dealing directly with their cannot be a mere supplemental feature of a paper, magazine, trade journal or
clients.16 periodical which is published principally for other purposes. For that reason, a
lawyer may not properly publish his brief biographical and informative data in a
There is no question that respondent committed the acts complained of. He daily paper, magazine, trade journal or society program. Nor may a lawyer
himself admits that he caused the publication of the advertisements. While he permit his name to be published in a law list the conduct, management, or
professes repentance and begs for the Court’s indulgence, his contrition rings contents of which are calculated or likely to deceive or injure the public or the
hollow considering the fact that he advertised his legal services again after he bar, or to lower dignity or standing of the profession.

26
The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also permitted. The card may
contain only a statement of his name, the name of the law firm which he is
connected with, address, telephone number and special branch of law practiced.
The publication of a simple announcement of the opening of a law firm or of
changes in the partnership, associates, firm name or office address, being for the
convenience of the profession, is not objectionable. He may likewise have his
name listed in a telephone directory but not under a designation of special
branch of law. (emphasis and italics supplied)

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO is


found GUILTY of violation of Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court. He is SUSPENDED
from the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR effective upon receipt of this
Resolution. He is likewise STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or
similar offense will be dealt with more severely.

Let copies of this Resolution be entered in his record as attorney and be


furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts in the country for
their information and guidance.

SO ORDERED.

27
G.R. No. L-18727 August 31, 1964 apostolica, Romana, que tuviere asiento en la cabecera de esta Provincia
de Cebu, y en su defecto, al Gobierno Provincial de Cebu.
JESUS MA. CUI vs. ANTONIO MA. CUI, ROMULO CUI
Don Pedro Cui died in 1926, and his widow continued to administer
MAKALINTAL, J.: the Hospicio until her death in 1929. Thereupon the administration passed to
Mauricio Cui and Dionisio Jakosalem. The first died on 8 May 1931 and the
second on 1 July 1931. On 2 July 1931 Dr. Teodoro Cui, only son of Mauricio Cui,
This is a proving in quo warranto originally filed in the Court of First Instance of
became the administrator. Thereafter, beginning in 1932, a series of
Cebu. The office in contention is that of Administrator of the Hospicio de San
controversies and court litigations ensued concerning the position of
Jose de Barili. Judgment was rendered on 27 April 1961 in favor of the plaintiff,
administrator, to which, in so far as they are pertinent to the present case,
Jesus Ma. Cui, and appealed to us by the defendant, Antonio Ma. Cui, and by the
reference will be made later in this decision.
intervenor, Romulo Cui.

Plaintiff Jesus Ma. Cui and defendant Antonio Ma. Cui are brothers, being the
The Hospicio is a charitable institution established by the spouses Don Pedro Cui
sons of Mariano Cui, one of the nephews of the spouses Don Pedro Cui and Doña
and Doña Benigna Cui, now deceased, "for the care and support, free of charge,
Benigna Cui. On 27 February 1960 the then incumbent administrator, Dr.
of indigent invalids, and incapacitated and helpless persons." It acquired
Teodoro Cui, resigned in favor of Antonio Ma. Cui pursuant to a "convenio"
corporate existence by legislation (Act No. 3239 of the Philippine Legislature
entered into between them and embodied in a notarial document. The next day,
passed 27 November 1925) and endowed with extensive properties by the said
28 February, Antonio Ma. Cui took his oath of office. Jesus Ma. Cui, however,
spouses through a series of donations, principally the deed of donation executed
had no prior notice of either the "convenio" or of his brother's assumption of the
on 2 January 1926.
position.

Section 2 of Act No. 3239 gave the initial management to the founders jointly
Dr. Teodoro Cui died on 27 August 1960; on 5 September 1960 the plaintiff
and, in case of their incapacity or death, to "such persons as they may nominate
wrote a letter to the defendant demanding that the office be turned over to him;
or designate, in the order prescribed to them." Section 2 of the deed of donation
and on 13 September 1960, the demand not having been complied with the
provides as follows:
plaintiff filed the complaint in this case. Romulo Cui later on intervened, claiming
a right to the same office, being a grandson of Vicente Cui, another one of the
Que en caso de nuestro fallecimiento o incapacidad para administrar, nephews mentioned by the founders of the Hospicio in their deed of donation.
nos sustituyan nuestro legitime sobrino Mariano Cui, si al tiempo de
nuestra muerte o incapacidad se hallare residiendo en la caudad de
As between Jesus and Antonio the main issue turns upon their respective
Cebu, y nuestro sobrino politico Dionisio Jakosalem. Si nuestro dicho
qualifications to the position of administrator. Jesus is the older of the two and
sobrino Mariano Cui no estuviese residiendo entonces en la caudad de
therefore under equal circumstances would be preferred pursuant to section 2 of
Cebu, designamos en su lugar a nuestro otro sobrino legitime Mauricio
the deed of donation. However, before the test of age may be, applied the deed
Cui. Ambos sobrinos administraran conjuntamente el HOSPICIO DE SAN
gives preference to the one, among the legitimate descendants of the nephews
JOSE DE BARILI. A la muerte o incapacidad de estos dos
therein named, "que posea titulo de abogado, o medico, o ingeniero civil, o
administradores, la administracion del HOSPICIO DE SAN JOSE DE
farmaceutico, o a falta de estos titulos el que pague al estado mayor impuesto o
BARILI pasara a una sola persona que sera el varon, mayor de edad,
contribucion."
que descienda legitimainente de cualquiera de nuestros sobrinos
legitimos Mariano Cui, Mauricio Cui, Vicente Cui y Victor Cui, y que
posea titulo de abogado, o medico, o ingeniero civil, o farmaceutico, o a The specific point in dispute is the mealing of the term "titulo de abogado." Jesus
falta de estos titulos, el que pague al Estado mayor impuesto o Ma. Cui holds the degree of Bachelor of Laws from the University of Santo
contribution. En igualdad de circumstancias, sera preferida el varon de Tomas (Class 1926) but is not a member of the Bar, not having passed the
mas edad descendiente de quien tenia ultimamente la administracion. examinations to qualify him as one. Antonio Ma. Cui, on the other hand, is a
Cuando absolutamente faltare persona de estas cualificaciones, la member of the Bar and although disbarred by this Court on 29 March 1957
administracion del HOSPICIO DE SAN JOSE DE BARILI pasara al senor (administrative case No. 141), was reinstated by resolution promulgated on 10
Obispo de Cebu o quien sea el mayor dignatario de la Iglesia Catolica, February 1960, about two weeks before he assumed the position of
administrator of the Hospicio de Barili.

28
The Court a quo, in deciding this point in favor of the plaintiff, said that the those otherwise qualified. A lawyer, first of all, because under Act No. 3239 the
phrase "titulo de abogado," taken alone, means that of a full-fledged lawyer, but managers or trustees of the Hospicio shall "make regulations for the government
that has used in the deed of donation and considering the function or purpose of of said institution (Sec. 3, b); shall "prescribe the conditions subject to which
the administrator, it should not be given a strict interpretation but a liberal one," invalids and incapacitated and destitute persons may be admitted to the
and therefore means a law degree or diploma of Bachelor of Laws. This ruling is institute" (Sec. 3, d); shall see to it that the rules and conditions promulgated for
assailed as erroneous both by the defendant and by the intervenor. admission are not in conflict with the provisions of the Act; and shall administer
properties of considerable value — for all of which work, it is to be presumed, a
We are of the opinion, that whether taken alone or in context the term "titulo de working knowledge of the law and a license to practice the profession would be a
abogado" means not mere possession of the academic degree of Bachelor of distinct asset.
Laws but membership in the Bar after due admission thereto, qualifying one for
the practice of law. In Spanish the word "titulo" is defined as "testimonies o Under this particular criterion we hold that the plaintiff is not entitled, as against
instrumento dado para ejercer un empleo, dignidad o profesion" (Diccionario de the defendant, to the office of administrator. But it is argued that although the
la Lengua Española, Real Academia Espanola, 1947 ed., p. 1224) and the word latter is a member of the Bar he is nevertheless disqualified by virtue of
"abogado," as follows: "Perito en el derecho positivo que se dedica a defender paragraph 3 of the deed of donation, which provides that the administrator may
en juicio, por escrito o de palabra, los derechos o intereses de los litigantes, y be removed on the ground, among others, of ineptitude in the discharge of his
tambien a dar dictmen sobre las cuestiones o puntos legales que se le consultan office or lack of evident sound moral character. Reference is made to the fact
(Id., p.5) A Bachelor's degree alone, conferred by a law school upon completion that the defendant was disbarred by this Court on 29 March 1957 for immorality
of certain academic requirements, does not entitle its holder to exercise the legal and unprofessional conduct. It is also a fact, however, that he was reinstated on
profession. The English equivalent of "abogado" is lawyer or attorney-at-law. 10 February 1960, before he assumed the office of administrator. His
This term has a fixed and general signification, and has reference to that class of reinstatement is a recognition of his moral rehabilitation, upon proof no less than
persons who are by license officers of the courts, empowered to appear, that required for his admission to the Bar in the first place.
prosecute and defend, and upon whom peculiar duties, responsibilities and
liabilities are devolved by law as a consequence. Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts be
admitted and approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the parties
In this jurisdiction admission to the Bar and to the practice of law is under the adducing other evidence to prove their case not covered by this stipulation of
authority of the Supreme Court. According to Rule 138 such admission requires facts. 1äwphï1.ñët
passing the Bar examinations, taking the lawyer's oath and receiving a certificate
from the Clerk of Court, this certificate being his license to practice the Whether or not the applicant shall be reinstated rests to a great extent
profession. The academic degree of Bachelor of Laws in itself has little to do with in the sound discretion of the court. The court action will depend,
admission to the Bar, except as evidence of compliance with the requirements generally speaking, on whether or not it decides that the public interest
that an applicant to the examinations has "successfully completed all the in the orderly and impartial administration of justice will be conserved by
prescribed courses, in a law school or university, officially approved by the the applicant's participation therein in the capacity of an attorney and
Secretary of Education." For this purpose, however, possession of the degree counselor at law. The applicant must, like a candidate for admission to
itself is not indispensable: completion of the prescribed courses may be shown in the bar, satisfy the court that he is a person of good moral character —
some other way. Indeed there are instances, particularly under the former Code a fit and proper person to practice law. The court will take into
of Civil Procedure, where persons who had not gone through any formal legal consideration the applicant's character and standing prior to the
education in college were allowed to take the Bar examinations and to qualify as disbarment, the nature and character of the charge for which he was
lawyers. (Section 14 of that code required possession of "the necessary disbarred, his conduct subsequent to the disbarment, and the time that
qualifications of learning ability.") Yet certainly it would be incorrect to say that has elapsed between the disbarment and the application for
such persons do not possess the "titulo de abogado" because they lack the reinstatement. (5 Am. Jur., Sec. 301, p. 443)
academic degree of Bachelor of Laws from some law school or university.
Evidence of reformation is required before applicant is entitled to
The founders of the Hospicio de San Jose de Barili must have established the reinstatement, notwithstanding the attorney has received a pardon
foregoing test advisely, and provided in the deed of donation that if not a lawyer, following his conviction, and the requirements for reinstatement have
the administrator should be a doctor or a civil engineer or a pharmacist, in that been held to be the same as for original admission to the bar, except
order; or failing all these, should be the one who pays the highest taxes among

29
that the court may require a greater degree of proof than in an original thought that he had already assumed the position as stated in his
admission. (7 C.J.S., Attorney & Client, Sec. 41, p. 815.) communication of 4 February 1950. The rather muddled situation was referred
by the Commissioner to the Secretary of Justice, who, in an opinion dated 3 April
The decisive questions on an application for reinstatement are whether 1950 (op. No. 45, S. 1950), correcting another opinion previously given, in effect
applicant is "of good moral character" in the sense in which that phrase ruled that the plaintiff, not beings lawyer, was not entitled to the administration
is used when applied to attorneys-at-law and is a fit and proper person of the Hospicio.
to be entrusted with the privileges of the office of an attorney, and
whether his mental qualifications are such as to enable him to discharge Meanwhile, the question again became the subject of a court controversy. On 4
efficiently his duty to the public, and the moral attributes are to be March 1950, the Hospicio commenced an action against the Philippine National
regarded as a separate and distinct from his mental qualifications. (7 Bank in the Court of First Instance of Cebu (Civ. No. R-1216) because the Bank
C.J.S., Attorney & Client, Sec. 41, p. 816). had frozen the Hospicio's deposits therein. The Bank then filed a third-party
complaint against herein plaintiff-appellee, Jesus Ma. Cui, who had, as stated
As far as moral character is concerned, the standard required of one seeking above, taken oath as administrator. On 19 October 1950, having been deprived
reinstatement to the office of attorney cannot be less exacting than that implied of recognition by the opinion of the Secretary of Justice he moved to dismiss the
in paragraph 3 of the deed of donation as a requisite for the office which is third-party complaint on the ground that he was relinquishing "temporarily" his
disputed in this case. When the defendant was restored to the roll of lawyers the claim to the administration of the Hospicio. The motion was denied in an order
restrictions and disabilities resulting from his previous disbarment were wiped dated 2 October 1953. On 6 February 1954 he was able to take another oath of
out. office as administrator before President Magsaysay, and soon afterward filed a
second motion to dismiss in Civil case No. R-1216. President Magsaysay, be it
said, upon learning that a case was pending in Court, stated in a telegram to his
This action must fail on one other ground: it is already barred by lapse of time
Executive Secretary that "as far as (he) was concerned the court may disregard
amounting the prescription or laches. Under Section 16 of Rule 66 (formerly sec.
the oath" thus taken. The motion to dismiss was granted nevertheless and the
16, Rule 68, taken from section 216 of Act 190), this kind of action must be filed
other parties in the case filed their notice of appeal from the order of dismissal.
within one (1) year after the right of plaintiff to hold the office arose.
The plaintiff then filed an ex-parte motion to be excluded as party in the appeal
and the trial Court again granted the motion. This was on 24 November 1954.
Plaintiff Jesus Ma. Cui believed himself entitled to the office in question as long Appellants thereupon instituted a mandamus proceeding in the Supreme Court
ago as 1932. On January 26 of that year he filed a complaint in quo (G.R. No. L-8540), which was decided on 28 May 1956, to the effect that Jesus
warranto against Dr. Teodoro Cui, who assumed the administration of Ma. Cui should be included in the appeal. That appeal, however, after it reached
the Hospicio on 2 July 1931. Mariano Cui, the plaintiff's father and Antonio Ma. this Court was dismiss upon motion of the parties, who agreed that "the office of
Cui came in as intervenors. The case was dismissed by the Court of First administrator and trustee of the Hospicio ... should be ventilated in quo
Instance upon a demurrer by the defendant there to the complaint and warranto proceedings to be initiated against the incumbent by whomsoever is
complaint in intervention. Upon appeal to the Supreme Court from the order of not occupying the office but believes he has a right to it" (G.R. No. L-9103). The
dismissal, the case was remanded for further proceedings (Cui v. Cui, 60 Phil. 37, resolution of dismissal was issued 31 July 1956. At that time the incumbent
48). The plaintiff, however, did not prosecute the case as indicated in the administrator was Dr. Teodoro Cui, but no action in quo warranto was filed
decision of this Court, but acceded to an arrangement whereby Teodoro Cui against him by plaintiff Jesus Ma. Cui as indicated in the aforesaid motion for
continued as administrator, Mariano Cui was named "legal adviser" and plaintiff dismissal.
Jesus Ma. Cui accepted a position as assistant administrator.
On 10 February 1960, defendant Antonio Ma. Cui was reinstated by this Court as
Subsequently the plaintiff tried to get the position by a series of extra-judicial member of the Bar, and on the following 27 February Dr. Teodoro Cui resigned
maneuvers. First he informed the Social Welfare Commissioner, by letter dated 1 as administrator in his favor, pursuant to the "convenio" between them executed
February 1950, that as of the previous 1 January he had "made clear" his on the same date. The next day Antonio Ma. Cui took his oath of office.
intention of occupying the office of administrator of the Hospicio." He followed
that up with another letter dated 4 February, announcing that he had taken over
The failure of the plaintiff to prosecute his claim judicially after this Court decided
the administration as of 1 January 1950. Actually, however, he took his oath of
the first case of Cui v. Cui in 1934 (60 Phil. 3769), remanding it to the trial court
office before a notary public only on 4 March 1950, after receiving a reply of
for further proceedings; his acceptance instead of the position of assistant
acknowledgment, dated 2 March, from the Social Welfare Commissioner, who
administrator, allowing Dr. Teodoro Cui to continue as administrator and his

30
failure to file an action in quo warranto against said Dr. Cui after 31 July 1956,
when the appeal in Civil Case No. R-1216 of the Cebu Court was dismissed upon
motion of the parties precisely so that the conflicting claims of the parties could
be ventilated in such an action — all these circumstances militate against the
plaintiff's present claim in view of the rule that an action in quo warranto must
be filed within one year after the right of the plaintiff to hold the office arose.
The excuse that the plaintiff did not file an action against Dr. Teodoro Cui after
31 July 1956 because of the latter's illness did not interrupt the running of the
statutory period. And the fact that this action was filed within one year of the
defendant's assumption of office in September 1960 does not make the plaintiff's
position any better, for the basis of the action is his own right to the office and it
is from the time such right arose that the one-year limitation must be counted,
not from the date the incumbent began to discharge the duties of said
office. Bautista v. Fajardo, 38 Phil. 624; Lim vs. Yulo, 62 Phil. 161.

Now for the claim of intervenor and appellant Romulo Cui. This party is also a
lawyer, grandson of Vicente Cui, one of the nephews of the founders of
the Hospicio mentioned by them in the deed of donation. He is further, in the
line of succession, than defendant Antonio Ma. Cui, who is a son of Mariano Cui,
another one of the said nephews. The deed of donation provides: "a la muerte o
incapacidad de estos administradores (those appointed in the deed itself) pasara
a una sola persona que sera el varon, mayor de edad, que descienda
legitimamente de cualquiera de nuestros sobrinos legitimos Mariano Cui, Mauricio
Cui, Vicente Cui, Victor Cui, y que posea titulo de abogado ... En igualdad de
circumstancias, sera preferido el varon de mas edad descendiente de quien tenia
ultimamente la administration." Besides being a nearer descendant than Romulo
Cui, Antonio Ma. Cui is older than he and therefore is preferred when the
circumstances are otherwise equal. The intervenor contends that the intention of
the founders was to confer the administration by line and successively to the
descendants of the nephews named in the deed, in the order they are named.
Thus, he argues, since the last administrator was Dr. Teodoro Cui, who belonged
to the Mauricio Cui line, the next administrator must come from the line of
Vicente Cui, to whom the intervenor belongs. This interpretation, however, is not
justified by the terms of the deed of donation.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, the judgment appealed from


is reversed and set aside, and the complaint as well as the complaint in
intervention are dismissed, with costs equally against plaintiff-appellee and
intervenor-appellant.

31
SOPHIA ALAWI vs. ASHARY M. ALAUYA, Clerk of Court VI, Shari'a above the description of the addressee, the words, "Free Postage PD 26," had
District Court, Marawi City been typed.

NARVASA, C.J.: On the same date, December 15, 1995, Alauya also wrote to Mr. Fermin T.
Arzaga, Vice-President, Credit & Collection Group of the National Home Mortgage
Sophia Alawi was (and presumably still is) a sales representative (or coordinator) Finance Corporation (NHMFC) at Salcedo Village, Makati City, repudiating as
of E. B. Villarosa & Partners Co., Ltd. of Davao City, a real estate and housing fraudulent and void his contract with Villarosa & Co.; and asking for cancellation
company. Ashari M. Alauya is the incumbent executive clerk of court of the 4th of his housing loan in connection therewith, which was payable from salary
Judicial Shari'a District in Marawi City. They were classmates, and used to be deductions at the rate of P4,338.00 a month. Among other things, he said:
friends.
" ** (T)hrough this written notice, I am terminating, as I hereby annul, cancel,
It appears that through Alawi's agency, a contract was executed for the purchase rescind and voided, the 'manipulated contract' entered into between me and the
on installments by Alauya of one of the housing units belonging to the above E.B. Villarosa & Partner Co., Ltd., as represented by its sales agent/coordinator,
mentioned firm (hereafter, simply Villarosa & Co.); and in connection therewith, SOPHIA ALAWI, who maliciously and fraudulently manipulated said contract and
a housing loan was also granted to Alauya by the National Home Mortgage unlawfully secured and pursued the housing loan without my authority and
Finance Corporation (NHMFC). against my will. Thus, the contract itself is deemed to be void ab initio in view of
the attending circumstances, that my consent was vitiated by misrepresentation,
fraud, deceit, dishonesty, and abuse of confidence; and that there was no
Not long afterwards, or more precisely on December 15, 1995, Alauya addressed
meeting of the minds between me and the swindling sales agent who concealed
a letter to the President of Villarosa & Co. advising of the termination of his
the real facts from me."
contract with the company. He wrote:

And, as in his letter to Villarosa & Co., he narrated in some detail what he took
" ** I am formally and officially withdrawing from and notifying you of my intent
to be the anomalous actuations of Sophia Alawi.
to terminate the Contract/Agreement entered into between me and your
company, as represented by your Sales Agent/Coordinator, SOPHIA ALAWI, of
your company's branch office here in Cagayan de Oro City, on the grounds that Alauya wrote three other letters to Mr. Arzaga of the NHMFC, dated February 21,
my consent was vitiated by gross misrepresentation, deceit, fraud, dishonesty 1996, April 15, 1996, and May 3, 1996, in all of which, for the same reasons
and abuse of confidence by the aforesaid sales agent which made said contract already cited, he insisted on the cancellation of his housing loan and
void ab initio. Said sales agent acting in bad faith perpetrated such illegal and discontinuance of deductions from his salary on account thereof.a He also wrote
unauthorized acts which made said contract an Onerous Contract prejudicial to on January 18, 1996 to Ms. Corazon M. Ordoez, Head of the Fiscal Management
my rights and interests." & Budget Office, and to the Chief, Finance Division, both of this Court, to stop
deductions from his salary in relation to the loan in question, again asserting the
anomalous manner by which he was allegedly duped into entering into the
He then proceeded to expound in considerable detail and quite acerbic language
contracts by "the scheming sales agent."b
on the "grounds which could evidence the bad faith, deceit, fraud,
misrepresentation, dishonesty and abuse of confidence by the unscrupulous
sales agent ** ;" and closed with the plea that Villarosa & Co. "agree for the The upshot was that in May, 1996, the NHMFC wrote to the Supreme Court
mutual rescission of our contract, even as I inform you that I categorically state requesting it to stop deductions on Alauya's UHLP loan "effective May 1996," and
on record that I am terminating the contract **. I hope I do not have to resort began negotiating with Villarosa & Co. "for the buy-back of ** (Alauya's)
to any legal action before said onerous and manipulated contract against my mortgage, and ** the refund of ** (his) payments."c
interest be annulled. I was actually fooled by your sales agent, hence the need
to annul the controversial contract." On learning of Alauya's letter to Villarosa & Co. of December 15, 1995, Sophia
Alawi filed with this Court a verified complaint dated January 25, 1996 -- to
Alauya sent a copy of the letter to the Vice-President of Villarosa & Co. at San which she appended a copy of the letter, and of the above mentioned envelope
Pedro, Gusa, Cagayan de Oro City. The envelope containing it, and which bearing the typewritten words, "Free Postage PD 26."1 In that complaint, she
actually went through the post, bore no stamps. Instead at the right hand corner accused Alauya of:

32
1. "Imputation of malicious and libelous charges with no solid grounds through sleepless nights, wounded feelings and untold financial suffering," considering
manifest ignorance and evident bad faith;" that in six months, a total of P26,028.60 had been deducted from his salary.7He
declared that there was no basis for the complaint; in communicating with
2. "Causing undue injury to, and blemishing her honor and established Villarosa & Co. he had merely acted in defense of his rights. He denied any
reputation;" abuse of the franking privilege, saying that he gave P20.00 plus transportation
fare to a subordinate whom he entrusted with the mailing of certain letters; that
the words: "Free Postage PD 26," were typewritten on the envelope by some
3. "Unauthorized enjoyment of the privilege of free postage **;" and
other person, an averment corroborated by the affidavit of Absamen C.
Domocao, Clerk IV (subscribed and sworn to before respondent himself, and
4. Usurpation of the title of "attorney," which only regular members of the attached to the comment as Annex J);8 and as far as he knew, his subordinate
Philippine Bar may properly use. mailed the letters with the use of the money he had given for postage, and if
those letters were indeed mixed with the official mail of the court, this had
She deplored Alauya's references to her as "unscrupulous, swindler, forger, occurred inadvertently and because of an honest
manipulator, etc." without "even a bit of evidence to cloth (sic) his allegations mistake.9chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
with the essence of truth," denouncing his imputations as irresponsible, "all
concoctions, lies, baseless and coupled with manifest ignorance and evident bad Alauya justified his use of the title, "attorney," by the assertion that it is "lexically
faith," and asserting that all her dealings with Alauya had been regular and synonymous" with "Counsellors-at-law," a title to which Shari'a lawyers have a
completely transparent. She closed with the plea that Alauya "be dismissed from rightful claim, adding that he prefers the title of "attorney" because "counsellor"
the service, or be appropriately disciplined (sic) ** " is often mistaken for "councilor," "konsehal or the Maranao term "consial,"
connoting a local legislator beholden to the mayor. Withal, he does not consider
The Court resolved to order Alauya to comment on the complaint. Conformably himself a lawyer.
with established usage that notices of resolutions emanate from the
corresponding Office of the Clerk of Court, the notice of resolution in this case He pleads for the Court's compassion, alleging that what he did "is expected of
was signed by Atty. Alfredo P. Marasigan, Assistant Division Clerk of any man unduly prejudiced and injured."10 He claims he was manipulated into
Court.2chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary reposing his trust in Alawi, a classmate and friend.11 He was induced to sign a
blank contract on Alawi's assurance that she would show the completed
Alauya first submitted a "Preliminary Comment"3 in which he questioned the document to him later for correction, but she had since avoided him; despite
authority of Atty. Marasigan to require an explanation of him, this power "numerous letters and follow-ups" he still does not know where the property --
pertaining, according to him, not to "a mere Asst. Div. Clerk of Court subject of his supposed agreement with Alawi's principal, Villarosa & Co. -- is
investigating an Executive Clerk of Court." but only to the District Judge, the situated;12 He says Alawi somehow got his GSIS policy from his wife, and
Court Administrator or the Chief Justice, and voiced the suspicion that the although she promised to return it the next day, she did not do so until after
Resolution was the result of a "strong link" between Ms. Alawi and Atty. several months. He also claims that in connection with his contract with Villarosa
Marasigan's office. He also averred that the complaint had no factual basis; Alawi & Co., Alawi forged his signature on such pertinent documents as those
was envious of him for being not only "the Executive Clerk of court and ex-officio regarding the down payment, clearance, lay-out, receipt of the key of the house,
Provincial Sheriff and District Registrar," but also "a scion of a Royal Family **." 4 salary deduction, none of which he ever saw.13chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

In a subsequent letter to Atty. Marasigan, but this time in much less aggressive, Averring in fine that his acts in question were done without malice, Alauya prays
even obsequious tones,5 Alauya requested the former to give him a copy of the for the dismissal of the complaint for lack of merit, it consisting of "fallacious,
complaint in order that he might comment thereon.6 He stated that his acts as malicious and baseless allegations," and complainant Alawi having come to the
clerk of court were done in good faith and within the confines of the law; and Court with unclean hands, her complicity in the fraudulent housing loan being
that Sophia Alawi as sales agent of Villarosa & Co. had, by falsifying his apparent and demonstrable.
signature, fraudulently bound him to a housing loan contract entailing monthly
deductions of P4,333.10 from his salary. It may be mentioned that in contrast to his two (2) letters to Assistant Clerk of
Court Marasigan (dated April 19, 1996 and April 22, 1996), and his two (2)
And in his comment thereafter submitted under date of June 5, 1996, Alauya earlier letters both dated December 15, 1996 -- all of which he signed as "Atty.
contended that it was he who had suffered "undue injury, mental anguish,

33
Ashary M. Alauya" -- in his Comment of June 5, 1996, he does not use the title Now, it does not appear to the Court consistent with good morals, good customs
but refers to himself as "DATU ASHARY M. ALAUYA." or public policy, or respect for the rights of others, to couch denunciations of
acts believed -- however sincerely -- to be deceitful, fraudulent or malicious, in
The Court referred the case to the Office of the Court Administrator for excessively intemperate. insulting or virulent language. Alauya is evidently
evaluation, report and recommendation.14chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary convinced that he has a right of action against Sophia Alawi. The law requires
that he exercise that right with propriety, without malice or vindictiveness, or
undue harm to anyone; in a manner consistent with good morals, good customs,
The first accusation against Alauya is that in his aforesaid letters, he made
public policy, public order, supra; or otherwise stated, that he "act with justice,
"malicious and libelous charges (against Alawi) with no solid grounds through
give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith." 19 Righteous
manifest ignorance and evident bad faith," resulting in "undue injury to (her) and
indignation, or vindication of right cannot justify resort to vituperative language,
blemishing her honor and established reputation." In those letters, Alauya had
or downright name-calling. As a member of the Shari'a Bar and an officer of a
written inter alia that:
Court, Alawi is subject to a standard of conduct more stringent than for most
other government workers. As a man of the law, he may not use language which
1) Alawi obtained his consent to the contracts in question "by gross is abusive, offensive, scandalous, menacing, or otherwise improper.20 As a
misrepresentation, deceit, fraud, dishonesty and abuse of confidence;" judicial employee, it is expected that he accord respect for the person and the
rights of others at all times, and that his every act and word should be
2) Alawi acted in bad faith and perpetrated ** illegal and unauthorized acts ** characterized by prudence, restraint, courtesy, dignity. His radical deviation from
** prejudicial to ** (his) rights and interests;" these salutary norms might perhaps be mitigated, but cannot be excused, by his
strongly held conviction that he had been grievously wronged.
3) Alawi was an "unscrupulous (and "swindling") sales agent" who had fooled
him by "deceit, fraud, misrepresentation, dishonesty and abuse of confidence;" As regards Alauya's use of the title of "Attorney," this Court has already had
and occasion to declare that persons who pass the Shari'a Bar are not full-fledged
members of the Philippine Bar, hence may only practice law before Shari'a
4) Alawi had maliciously and fraudulently manipulated the contract with Villarosa courts.21 While one who has been admitted to the Shari'a Bar, and one who has
& Co., and unlawfully secured and pursued the housing loan without ** (his) been admitted to the Philippine Bar, may both be considered "counsellors," in the
authority and against ** (his) will," and "concealed the real facts **." sense that they give counsel or advice in a professional capacity, only the latter
is an "attorney." The title of "attorney" is reserved to those who, having obtained
Alauya's defense essentially is that in making these statements, he was merely the necessary degree in the study of law and successfully taken the Bar
acting in defense of his rights, and doing only what "is expected of any man Examinations, have been admitted to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and
unduly prejudiced and injured," who had suffered "mental anguish, sleepless remain members thereof in good standing; and it is they only who are authorized
nights, wounded feelings and untold financial suffering," considering that in six to practice law in this jurisdiction.
months, a total of P26,028.60 had been deducted from his
salary.15chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary Alauya says he does not wish to use the title, "counsellor" or "counsellor-at-law,"
because in his region, there are pejorative connotations to the term, or it is
The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees confusingly similar to that given to local legislators. The ratiocination, valid or
(RA 6713) inter alia enunciates the State policy of promoting a high standard of not, is of no moment. His disinclination to use the title of "counsellor" does not
ethics and utmost responsibility in the public service.16 Section 4 of the Code warrant his use of the title of attorney.
commands that "(p)ublic officials and employees ** at all times respect the
rights of others, and ** refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals, Finally, respecting Alauya's alleged unauthorized use of the franking privilege,
good customs, public policy, public order, public safety and public the record contains no evidence adequately establishing the accusation.
interest."17 More than once has this Court emphasized that "the conduct and
behavior of every official and employee of an agency involved in the WHEREFORE, respondent Ashari M. Alauya is hereby REPRIMANDED for the
administration of justice, from the presiding judge to the most junior clerk, use of excessively intemperate, insulting or virulent language, i.e., language
should be circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility. Their conduct unbecoming a judicial officer, and for usurping the title of attorney; and he is
must at all times be characterized by, among others, strict propriety and warned that any similar or other impropriety or misconduct in the future will be
decorum so as to earn and keep the respect of the public for the judiciary." 18 dealt with more severely.

34
A.C. No. L-1117 March 20, 1944 defiles the temple of justice with mercenary activities as the money-changers of
old defiled the temple of Jehovah. "The most worth and effective advertisement
THE DIRECTOR OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS, complainant, possible, even for a young lawyer, . . . is the establishment of a well-merited
vs. reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced but
ESTANISLAO R. BAYOT, respondent. must be the outcome of character and conduct." (Canon 27, Code of Ethics.)

Office of the Solicitor General De la Costa and Solicitor Feria for complainant. In In re Tagorda, 53 Phil., the respondent attorney was suspended from the
Francisco Claravall for respondent. practice of law for the period of one month for advertising his services and
soliciting work from the public by writing circular letters. That case, however, was
more serious than this because there the solicitations were repeatedly made and
OZAETA, J.:
were more elaborate and insistent.

The respondent, who is an attorney-at-law, is charged with malpractice for having


Considering his plea for leniency and his promise not to repeat the misconduct,
published an advertisement in the Sunday Tribune of June 13, 1943, which reads
the Court is of the opinion and so decided that the respondent should be, as he
as follows:
hereby is, reprimanded.

Marriage

license promptly secured thru our assistance & the annoyance of delay
or publicity avoided if desired, and marriage arranged to wishes of
parties. Consultation on any matter free for the poor. Everything
confidential.

Legal assistance service


12 Escolta, Manila, Room, 105
Tel. 2-41-60.

Appearing in his own behalf, respondent at first denied having published the said
advertisement; but subsequently, thru his attorney, he admitted having caused its
publication and prayed for "the indulgence and mercy" of the Court, promising
"not to repeat such professional misconduct in the future and to abide himself to
the strict ethical rules of the law profession." In further mitigation he alleged that
the said advertisement was published only once in the Tribune and that he never
had any case at law by reason thereof.

Upon that plea the case was submitted to the Court for decision.

It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a flagrant violation by the


respondent of the ethics of his profession, it being a brazen solicitation of
business from the public. Section 25 of Rule 127 expressly provides among other
things that "the practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either
personally or thru paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." It is highly
unethical for an attorney to advertise his talents or skill as a merchant advertises
his wares. Law is a profession and not a trade. The lawyer degrades himself and
his profession who stoops to and adopts the practices of mercantilism by
advertising his services or offering them to the public. As a member of the bar, he

35
G.R. No. 100113 September 3, 1991 all actions taken for them in matters connected with the law. An attorney
engages in the practice of law by maintaining an office where he is held
RENATO CAYETANO vs. CHRISTIAN MONSOD, HON. JOVITO R. out to be-an attorney, using a letterhead describing himself as an
SALONGA, COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENT, and HON. GUILLERMO attorney, counseling clients in legal matters, negotiating with opposing
CARAGUE counsel about pending litigation, and fixing and collecting fees for
services rendered by his associate. (Black's Law Dictionary, 3rd ed.)
PARAS, J.:
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. (Land Title
Abstract and Trust Co. v. Dworken, 129 Ohio St. 23, 193 N.E. 650) A person is
We are faced here with a controversy of far-reaching proportions. While also considered to be in the practice of law when he:
ostensibly only legal issues are involved, the Court's decision in this case would
indubitably have a profound effect on the political aspect of our national
existence. ... for valuable consideration engages in the business of advising
person, firms, associations or corporations as to their rights under the
law, or appears in a representative capacity as an advocate in
The 1987 Constitution provides in Section 1 (1), Article IX-C:
proceedings pending or prospective, before any court, commissioner,
referee, board, body, committee, or commission constituted by law or
There shall be a Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and authorized to settle controversies and there, in such representative
six Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines capacity performs any act or acts for the purpose of obtaining or
and, at the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five years of age, defending the rights of their clients under the law. Otherwise stated, one
holders of a college degree, and must not have been candidates for any who, in a representative capacity, engages in the business of advising
elective position in the immediately preceding -elections. However, a clients as to their rights under the law, or while so engaged performs any
majority thereof, including the Chairman, shall be members of the act or acts either in court or outside of court for that purpose, is engaged
Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least in the practice of law. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v..C.S. Dudley and
ten years. (Emphasis supplied) Co., 102 S.W. 2d 895, 340 Mo. 852)

The aforequoted provision is patterned after Section l(l), Article XII-C of the 1973 This Court in the case of Philippine Lawyers Association v.Agrava, (105 Phil.
Constitution which similarly provides: 173,176-177) stated:

There shall be an independent Commission on Elections composed of a The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in
Chairman and eight Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of the court; it embraces the preparation of pleadings and other papers incident
Philippines and, at the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five years of age to actions and special proceedings, the management of such actions
and holders of a college degree. However, a majority thereof, including the and proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and in
Chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the addition, conveying. In general, all advice to clients, and all action taken
practice of law for at least ten years.' (Emphasis supplied) for them in matters connected with the law incorporation services,
assessment and condemnation services contemplating an appearance
Regrettably, however, there seems to be no jurisprudence as to what constitutes before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a mortgage, enforcement of a
practice of law as a legal qualification to an appointive office. creditor's claim in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and
conducting proceedings in attachment, and in matters of estate and
Black defines "practice of law" as: guardianship have been held to constitute law practice, as do the
preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the work done
involves the determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect of
The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the application of facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jr. p. 262, 263). (Emphasis supplied)
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, Practice of law under modem conditions consists in no small part of work
and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, performed outside of any court and having no immediate relation to
conveyancing, the preparation of legal instruments of all kinds, and the proceedings in court. It embraces conveyancing, the giving of legal
giving of all legal advice to clients. It embraces all advice to clients and advice on a large variety of subjects, and the preparation and execution
of legal instruments covering an extensive field of business and trust

36
relations and other affairs. Although these transactions may have no MR. FOZ. This has to do with the qualifications of the members of the
direct connection with court proceedings, they are always subject to Commission on Audit. Among others, the qualifications provided for by
become involved in litigation. They require in many aspects a high Section I is that "They must be Members of the Philippine Bar" — I am
degree of legal skill, a wide experience with men and affairs, and great quoting from the provision — "who have been engaged in the practice of
capacity for adaptation to difficult and complex situations. These law for at least ten years".
customary functions of an attorney or counselor at law bear an intimate
relation to the administration of justice by the courts. No valid distinction, To avoid any misunderstanding which would result in excluding members of the
so far as concerns the question set forth in the order, can be drawn Bar who are now employed in the COA or Commission on Audit, we would like to
between that part of the work of the lawyer which involves appearance in make the clarification that this provision on qualifications regarding members of
court and that part which involves advice and drafting of instruments in the Bar does not necessarily refer or involve actual practice of law outside the
his office. It is of importance to the welfare of the public that these COA We have to interpret this to mean that as long as the lawyers who are
manifold customary functions be performed by persons possessed of employed in the COA are using their legal knowledge or legal talent in their
adequate learning and skill, of sound moral character, and acting at all respective work within COA, then they are qualified to be considered for
times under the heavy trust obligations to clients which rests upon all appointment as members or commissioners, even chairman, of the Commission
attorneys. (Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, Vol. 3 [1953 ed.] , on Audit.
p. 665-666, citing In re Opinion of the Justices [Mass.], 194 N.E. 313,
quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. v. Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.] 179
A. 139,144). (Emphasis ours) This has been discussed by the Committee on Constitutional Commissions and
Agencies and we deem it important to take it up on the floor so that this
interpretation may be made available whenever this provision on the
The University of the Philippines Law Center in conducting orientation briefing for qualifications as regards members of the Philippine Bar engaging in the practice
new lawyers (1974-1975) listed the dimensions of the practice of law in even of law for at least ten years is taken up.
broader terms as advocacy, counselling and public service.
MR. OPLE. Will Commissioner Foz yield to just one question.
One may be a practicing attorney in following any line of employment in
the profession. If what he does exacts knowledge of the law and is of a
MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer.
kind usual for attorneys engaging in the active practice of their
profession, and he follows some one or more lines of employment such
as this he is a practicing attorney at law within the meaning of the MR. OPLE. Is he, in effect, saying that service in the COA by a lawyer is
statute. (Barr v. Cardell, 155 NW 312) equivalent to the requirement of a law practice that is set forth in the
Article on the Commission on Audit?
Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the
application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience. "To MR. FOZ. We must consider the fact that the work of COA, although it is
engage in the practice of law is to perform those acts which are characteristics of auditing, will necessarily involve legal work; it will involve legal work.
the profession. Generally, to practice law is to give notice or render any kind of And, therefore, lawyers who are employed in COA now would have the
service, which device or service requires the use in any degree of legal necessary qualifications in accordance with the Provision on
knowledge or skill." (111 ALR 23) qualifications under our provisions on the Commission on Audit. And,
therefore, the answer is yes.
The following records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission show that it has
adopted a liberal interpretation of the term "practice of law." MR. OPLE. Yes. So that the construction given to this is that this is
equivalent to the practice of law.
MR. FOZ. Before we suspend the session, may I make a manifestation
which I forgot to do during our review of the provisions on the MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer.
Commission on Audit. May I be allowed to make a very brief statement?
MR. OPLE. Thank you.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir).
... ( Emphasis supplied)
The Commissioner will please proceed.

37
Section 1(1), Article IX-D of the 1987 Constitution, provides, among others, that do both litigation and non-litigation work also know that in most cases they find
the Chairman and two Commissioners of the Commission on Audit (COA) should themselves spending more time doing what [is] loosely desccribe[d] as business
either be certified public accountants with not less than ten years of auditing counseling than in trying cases. The business lawyer has been described as the
practice, or members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in planner, the diagnostician and the trial lawyer, the surgeon. I[t] need not [be]
the practice of law for at least ten years. (emphasis supplied) stress[ed] that in law, as in medicine, surgery should be avoided where internal
medicine can be effective." (Business Star, "Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11,
Corollary to this is the term "private practitioner" and which is in many ways 1989, p. 4).
synonymous with the word "lawyer." Today, although many lawyers do not
engage in private practice, it is still a fact that the majority of lawyers are private In the course of a working day the average general practitioner wig engage in a
practitioners. (Gary Munneke, Opportunities in Law Careers [VGM Career number of legal tasks, each involving different legal doctrines, legal skills, legal
Horizons: Illinois], [1986], p. 15). processes, legal institutions, clients, and other interested parties. Even the
increasing numbers of lawyers in specialized practice wig usually perform at least
At this point, it might be helpful to define private practice. The term, as commonly some legal services outside their specialty. And even within a narrow specialty
understood, means "an individual or organization engaged in the business of such as tax practice, a lawyer will shift from one legal task or role such as advice-
delivering legal services." (Ibid.). Lawyers who practice alone are often called giving to an importantly different one such as representing a client before an
"sole practitioners." Groups of lawyers are called "firms." The firm is usually a administrative agency. (Wolfram, supra, p. 687).
partnership and members of the firm are the partners. Some firms may be
organized as professional corporations and the members called shareholders. In By no means will most of this work involve litigation, unless the lawyer is one of
either case, the members of the firm are the experienced attorneys. In most the relatively rare types — a litigator who specializes in this work to the exclusion
firms, there are younger or more inexperienced salaried attorneyscalled of much else. Instead, the work will require the lawyer to have mastered the full
"associates." (Ibid.). range of traditional lawyer skills of client counselling, advice-giving, document
drafting, and negotiation. And increasingly lawyers find that the new skills of
The test that defines law practice by looking to traditional areas of law practice is evaluation and mediation are both effective for many clients and a source of
essentially tautologous, unhelpful defining the practice of law as that which employment. (Ibid.).
lawyers do. (Charles W. Wolfram, Modern Legal Ethics [West Publishing Co.:
Minnesota, 1986], p. 593). The practice of law is defined as the performance of Most lawyers will engage in non-litigation legal work or in litigation work that is
any acts . . . in or out of court, commonly understood to be the practice of law. constrained in very important ways, at least theoretically, so as to remove from it
(State Bar Ass'n v. Connecticut Bank & Trust Co., 145 Conn. 222, 140 A.2d 863, some of the salient features of adversarial litigation. Of these special roles, the
870 [1958] [quoting Grievance Comm. v. Payne, 128 Conn. 325, 22 A.2d 623, most prominent is that of prosecutor. In some lawyers' work the constraints are
626 [1941]). Because lawyers perform almost every function known in the imposed both by the nature of the client and by the way in which the lawyer is
commercial and governmental realm, such a definition would obviously be too organized into a social unit to perform that work. The most common of these
global to be workable.(Wolfram, op. cit.). roles are those of corporate practice and government legal service. (Ibid.).

The appearance of a lawyer in litigation in behalf of a client is at once the most In several issues of the Business Star, a business daily, herein below quoted are
publicly familiar role for lawyers as well as an uncommon role for the average emerging trends in corporate law practice, a departure from the traditional
lawyer. Most lawyers spend little time in courtrooms, and a large percentage concept of practice of law.
spend their entire practice without litigating a case. (Ibid., p. 593). Nonetheless,
many lawyers do continue to litigate and the litigating lawyer's role colors much of We are experiencing today what truly may be called a revolutionary
both the public image and the self perception of the legal profession. (Ibid.). transformation in corporate law practice. Lawyers and other professional
groups, in particular those members participating in various legal-policy
In this regard thus, the dominance of litigation in the public mind reflects history, decisional contexts, are finding that understanding the major emerging
not reality. (Ibid.). Why is this so? Recall that the late Alexander SyCip, a trends in corporation law is indispensable to intelligent decision-making.
corporate lawyer, once articulated on the importance of a lawyer as a business
counselor in this wise: "Even today, there are still uninformed laymen whose Constructive adjustment to major corporate problems of today requires
concept of an attorney is one who principally tries cases before the courts. The an accurate understanding of the nature and implications of the
members of the bench and bar and the informed laymen such as businessmen, corporate law research function accompanied by an accelerating rate of
know that in most developed societies today, substantially more legal work is information accumulation. The recognition of the need for such improved
transacted in law offices than in the courtrooms. General practitioners of law who

38
corporate legal policy formulation, particularly "model-making" and type of the corporation. Many smaller and some large corporations farm
"contingency planning," has impressed upon us the inadequacy of out all their legal problems to private law firms. Many others have in-
traditional procedures in many decisional contexts. house counsel only for certain matters. Other corporation have a staff
large enough to handle most legal problems in-house.
In a complex legal problem the mass of information to be processed, the
sorting and weighing of significant conditional factors, the appraisal of A corporate lawyer, for all intents and purposes, is a lawyer who handles
major trends, the necessity of estimating the consequences of given the legal affairs of a corporation. His areas of concern or jurisdiction may
courses of action, and the need for fast decision and response in include, inter alia: corporate legal research, tax laws research, acting out
situations of acute danger have prompted the use of sophisticated as corporate secretary (in board meetings), appearances in both courts
concepts of information flow theory, operational analysis, automatic data and other adjudicatory agencies (including the Securities and Exchange
processing, and electronic computing equipment. Understandably, an Commission), and in other capacities which require an ability to deal with
improved decisional structure must stress the predictive component of the law.
the policy-making process, wherein a "model", of the decisional context
or a segment thereof is developed to test projected alternative courses At any rate, a corporate lawyer may assume responsibilities other than
of action in terms of futuristic effects flowing therefrom. the legal affairs of the business of the corporation he is
representing. These include such matters as determining policy and
Although members of the legal profession are regularly engaged in becoming involved in management. ( Emphasis supplied.)
predicting and projecting the trends of the law, the subject of corporate
finance law has received relatively little organized and formalized In a big company, for example, one may have a feeling of being isolated
attention in the philosophy of advancing corporate legal education. from the action, or not understanding how one's work actually fits into
Nonetheless, a cross-disciplinary approach to legal research has the work of the orgarnization. This can be frustrating to someone who
become a vital necessity. needs to see the results of his work first hand. In short, a corporate
lawyer is sometimes offered this fortune to be more closely involved in
Certainly, the general orientation for productive contributions by those the running of the business.
trained primarily in the law can be improved through an early
introduction to multi-variable decisional context and the various Moreover, a corporate lawyer's services may sometimes be engaged by
approaches for handling such problems. Lawyers, particularly with either a multinational corporation (MNC). Some large MNCs provide one of the
a master's or doctorate degree in business administration or few opportunities available to corporate lawyers to enter the international
management, functioning at the legal policy level of decision-making law field. After all, international law is practiced in a relatively small
now have some appreciation for the concepts and analytical techniques number of companies and law firms. Because working in a foreign
of other professions which are currently engaged in similar types of country is perceived by many as glamorous, tills is an area coveted by
complex decision-making. corporate lawyers. In most cases, however, the overseas jobs go to
experienced attorneys while the younger attorneys do their "international
Truth to tell, many situations involving corporate finance problems would practice" in law libraries. (Business Star, "Corporate Law Practice," May
require the services of an astute attorney because of the complex legal 25,1990, p. 4).
implications that arise from each and every necessary step in securing
and maintaining the business issue raised. (Business Star, "Corporate This brings us to the inevitable, i.e., the role of the lawyer in the realm of
Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4). finance. To borrow the lines of Harvard-educated lawyer Bruce
Wassertein, to wit: "A bad lawyer is one who fails to spot problems, a
In our litigation-prone country, a corporate lawyer is assiduously referred good lawyer is one who perceives the difficulties, and the excellent
to as the "abogado de campanilla." He is the "big-time" lawyer, earning lawyer is one who surmounts them." (Business Star, "Corporate Finance
big money and with a clientele composed of the tycoons and magnates Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
of business and industry.
Today, the study of corporate law practice direly needs a "shot in the
Despite the growing number of corporate lawyers, many people could arm," so to speak. No longer are we talking of the traditional law
not explain what it is that a corporate lawyer does. For one, the number teaching method of confining the subject study to the Corporation Code
of attorneys employed by a single corporation will vary with the size and

39
and the Securities Code but an incursion as well into the intertwining groups within organizations has been found to be related to indentifiable
modern management issues. factors in the group-context interaction such as the groups actively
revising their knowledge of the environment coordinating work with
Such corporate legal management issues deal primarily with three (3) outsiders, promoting team achievements within the organization. In
types of learning: (1) acquisition of insights into current advances which general, such external activities are better predictors of team
are of particular significance to the corporate counsel; (2) an introduction performance than internal group processes.
to usable disciplinary skins applicable to a corporate counsel's
management responsibilities; and (3) a devotion to the organization and In a crisis situation, the legal managerial capabilities of the corporate
management of the legal function itself. lawyer vis-a-vis the managerial mettle of corporations are challenged.
Current research is seeking ways both to anticipate effective managerial
These three subject areas may be thought of as intersecting circles, with procedures and to understand relationships of financial liability and
a shared area linking them. Otherwise known as "intersecting insurance considerations. (Emphasis supplied)
managerial jurisprudence," it forms a unifying theme for the corporate
counsel's total learning. Regarding the skills to apply by the corporate counsel, three factors
are apropos:
Some current advances in behavior and policy sciences affect the
counsel's role. For that matter, the corporate lawyer reviews the First System Dynamics. The field of systems dynamics has been found
globalization process, including the resulting strategic repositioning that an effective tool for new managerial thinking regarding both planning
the firms he provides counsel for are required to make, and the need to and pressing immediate problems. An understanding of the role of
think about a corporation's; strategy at multiple levels. The salience of feedback loops, inventory levels, and rates of flow, enable users to
the nation-state is being reduced as firms deal both with global simulate all sorts of systematic problems — physical, economic,
multinational entities and simultaneously with sub-national governmental managerial, social, and psychological. New programming techniques
units. Firms increasingly collaborate not only with public entities but with now make the system dynamics principles more accessible to managers
each other — often with those who are competitors in other arenas. — including corporate counsels. (Emphasis supplied)

Also, the nature of the lawyer's participation in decision-making within Second Decision Analysis. This enables users to make better decisions
the corporation is rapidly changing. The modem corporate lawyer has involving complexity and uncertainty. In the context of a law department,
gained a new role as a stakeholder — in some cases participating in the it can be used to appraise the settlement value of litigation, aid in
organization and operations of governance through participation on negotiation settlement, and minimize the cost and risk involved in
boards and other decision-making roles. Often these new patterns managing a portfolio of cases. (Emphasis supplied)
develop alongside existing legal institutions and laws are perceived as
barriers. These trends are complicated as corporations organize for Third Modeling for Negotiation Management. Computer-based models
global operations. ( Emphasis supplied) can be used directly by parties and mediators in all lands of negotiations.
All integrated set of such tools provide coherent and effective negotiation
The practising lawyer of today is familiar as well with governmental support, including hands-on on instruction in these techniques. A
policies toward the promotion and management of technology. New simulation case of an international joint venture may be used to illustrate
collaborative arrangements for promoting specific technologies or the point.
competitiveness more generally require approaches from industry that
differ from older, more adversarial relationships and traditional forms of [Be this as it may,] the organization and management of the legal
seeking to influence governmental policies. And there are lessons to be function, concern three pointed areas of consideration, thus:
learned from other countries. In Europe, Esprit, Eureka and Race are
examples of collaborative efforts between governmental and business
Japan's MITI is world famous. (Emphasis supplied) Preventive Lawyering. Planning by lawyers requires special skills that
comprise a major part of the general counsel's responsibilities. They
differ from those of remedial law. Preventive lawyering is concerned with
Following the concept of boundary spanning, the office of the Corporate minimizing the risks of legal trouble and maximizing legal rights for such
Counsel comprises a distinct group within the managerial structure of all legal entities at that time when transactional or similar facts are being
kinds of organizations. Effectiveness of both long-term and temporary considered and made.

40
Managerial Jurisprudence. This is the framework within which are Challenging the validity of the confirmation by the Commission on Appointments
undertaken those activities of the firm to which legal consequences of Monsod's nomination, petitioner as a citizen and taxpayer, filed the instant
attach. It needs to be directly supportive of this nation's evolving petition for certiorari and Prohibition praying that said confirmation and the
economic and organizational fabric as firms change to stay competitive consequent appointment of Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on
in a global, interdependent environment. The practice and theory of Elections be declared null and void.
"law" is not adequate today to facilitate the relationships needed in trying
to make a global economy work. Atty. Christian Monsod is a member of the Philippine Bar, having passed the bar
examinations of 1960 with a grade of 86-55%. He has been a dues paying
Organization and Functioning of the Corporate Counsel's Office. The member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines since its inception in 1972-73. He
general counsel has emerged in the last decade as one of the most has also been paying his professional license fees as lawyer for more than ten
vibrant subsets of the legal profession. The corporate counsel hear years. (p. 124, Rollo)
responsibility for key aspects of the firm's strategic issues, including
structuring its global operations, managing improved relationships with After graduating from the College of Law (U.P.) and having hurdled the bar, Atty.
an increasingly diversified body of employees, managing expanded Monsod worked in the law office of his father. During his stint in the World Bank
liability exposure, creating new and varied interactions with public Group (1963-1970), Monsod worked as an operations officer for about two years
decision-makers, coping internally with more complex make or by in Costa Rica and Panama, which involved getting acquainted with the laws of
decisions. member-countries negotiating loans and coordinating legal, economic, and
project work of the Bank. Upon returning to the Philippines in 1970, he worked
This whole exercise drives home the thesis that knowing corporate law with the Meralco Group, served as chief executive officer of an investment bank
is not enough to make one a good general corporate counsel nor to give and subsequently of a business conglomerate, and since 1986, has rendered
him a full sense of how the legal system shapes corporate activities. And services to various companies as a legal and economic consultant or chief
even if the corporate lawyer's aim is not the understand all of the law's executive officer. As former Secretary-General (1986) and National Chairman
effects on corporate activities, he must, at the very least, also gain a (1987) of NAMFREL. Monsod's work involved being knowledgeable in election
working knowledge of the management issues if only to be able to grasp law. He appeared for NAMFREL in its accreditation hearings before the
not only the basic legal "constitution' or makeup of the modem Comelec. In the field of advocacy, Monsod, in his personal capacity and as
corporation. "Business Star", "The Corporate Counsel," April 10, 1991, former Co-Chairman of the Bishops Businessmen's Conference for Human
p. 4). Development, has worked with the under privileged sectors, such as the farmer
and urban poor groups, in initiating, lobbying for and engaging in affirmative
The challenge for lawyers (both of the bar and the bench) is to have action for the agrarian reform law and lately the urban land reform bill. Monsod
more than a passing knowledge of financial law affecting each aspect of also made use of his legal knowledge as a member of the Davide Commission, a
their work. Yet, many would admit to ignorance of vast tracts of the quast judicial body, which conducted numerous hearings (1990) and as a
financial law territory. What transpires next is a dilemma of professional member of the Constitutional Commission (1986-1987), and Chairman of its
security: Will the lawyer admit ignorance and risk opprobrium?; or will he Committee on Accountability of Public Officers, for which he was cited by the
feign understanding and risk exposure? (Business Star, "Corporate President of the Commission, Justice Cecilia Muñoz-Palma for "innumerable
Finance law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4). amendments to reconcile government functions with individual freedoms and
public accountability and the party-list system for the House of Representative.
(pp. 128-129 Rollo) ( Emphasis supplied)
Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President Corazon C. Aquino
to the position of Chairman of the COMELEC in a letter received by the
Secretariat of the Commission on Appointments on April 25, 1991. Petitioner Just a word about the work of a negotiating team of which Atty. Monsod used to
opposed the nomination because allegedly Monsod does not possess the be a member.
required qualification of having been engaged in the practice of law for at least
ten years. In a loan agreement, for instance, a negotiating panel acts as a team,
and which is adequately constituted to meet the various contingencies
On June 5, 1991, the Commission on Appointments confirmed the nomination of that arise during a negotiation. Besides top officials of the Borrower
Monsod as Chairman of the COMELEC. On June 18, 1991, he took his oath of concerned, there are the legal officer (such as the legal counsel), the
office. On the same day, he assumed office as Chairman of the COMELEC. finance manager, and an operations officer (such as an official involved
in negotiating the contracts) who comprise the members of the team.
(Guillermo V. Soliven, "Loan Negotiating Strategies for Developing

41
Country Borrowers," Staff Paper No. 2, Central Bank of the Philippines, Interpreted in the light of the various definitions of the term Practice of law".
Manila, 1982, p. 11). (Emphasis supplied) particularly the modern concept of law practice, and taking into consideration the
liberal construction intended by the framers of the Constitution, Atty. Monsod's
After a fashion, the loan agreement is like a country's Constitution; it lays past work experiences as a lawyer-economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyer-
down the law as far as the loan transaction is concerned. Thus, the meat entrepreneur of industry, a lawyer-negotiator of contracts, and a lawyer-legislator
of any Loan Agreement can be compartmentalized into five (5) of both the rich and the poor — verily more than satisfy the constitutional
fundamental parts: (1) business terms; (2) borrower's representation; (3) requirement — that he has been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten
conditions of closing; (4) covenants; and (5) events of default. (Ibid., p. years.
13).
Besides in the leading case of Luego v. Civil Service Commission, 143 SCRA
In the same vein, lawyers play an important role in any debt restructuring 327, the Court said:
program. For aside from performing the tasks of legislative drafting and
legal advising, they score national development policies as key factors in Appointment is an essentially discretionary power and must be
maintaining their countries' sovereignty. (Condensed from the work performed by the officer in which it is vested according to his best lights,
paper, entitled "Wanted: Development Lawyers for Developing Nations," the only condition being that the appointee should possess the
submitted by L. Michael Hager, regional legal adviser of the United qualifications required by law. If he does, then the appointment cannot
States Agency for International Development, during the Session on Law be faulted on the ground that there are others better qualified who
for the Development of Nations at the Abidjan World Conference in Ivory should have been preferred. This is a political question involving
Coast, sponsored by the World Peace Through Law Center on August considerations of wisdom which only the appointing authority can
26-31, 1973). ( Emphasis supplied) decide. (emphasis supplied)

Loan concessions and compromises, perhaps even more so than purely No less emphatic was the Court in the case of (Central Bank v. Civil Service
renegotiation policies, demand expertise in the law of contracts, in Commission, 171 SCRA 744) where it stated:
legislation and agreement drafting and in renegotiation. Necessarily, a
sovereign lawyer may work with an international business specialist or It is well-settled that when the appointee is qualified, as in this case, and
an economist in the formulation of a model loan agreement. Debt all the other legal requirements are satisfied, the Commission has no
restructuring contract agreements contain such a mixture of technical alternative but to attest to the appointment in accordance with the Civil
language that they should be carefully drafted and signed only with the Service Law. The Commission has no authority to revoke an
advise of competent counsel in conjunction with the guidance of appointment on the ground that another person is more qualified for a
adequate technical support personnel. (See International Law Aspects of particular position. It also has no authority to direct the appointment of a
the Philippine External Debts, an unpublished dissertation, U.S.T. substitute of its choice. To do so would be an encroachment on the
Graduate School of Law, 1987, p. 321). ( Emphasis supplied) discretion vested upon the appointing authority. An appointment is
essentially within the discretionary power of whomsoever it is vested,
A critical aspect of sovereign debt restructuring/contract construction is subject to the only condition that the appointee should possess the
the set of terms and conditions which determines the contractual qualifications required by law. ( Emphasis supplied)
remedies for a failure to perform one or more elements of the contract. A
good agreement must not only define the responsibilities of both parties, The appointing process in a regular appointment as in the case at bar, consists
but must also state the recourse open to either party when the other fails of four (4) stages: (1) nomination; (2) confirmation by the Commission on
to discharge an obligation. For a compleat debt restructuring represents Appointments; (3) issuance of a commission (in the Philippines, upon submission
a devotion to that principle which in the ultimate analysis is sine qua by the Commission on Appointments of its certificate of confirmation, the
non for foreign loan agreements-an adherence to the rule of law in President issues the permanent appointment; and (4) acceptance e.g., oath-
domestic and international affairs of whose kind U.S. Supreme Court taking, posting of bond, etc. . . . (Lacson v. Romero, No. L-3081, October 14,
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said: "They carry no banners, 1949; Gonzales, Law on Public Officers, p. 200)
they beat no drums; but where they are, men learn that bustle and bush
are not the equal of quiet genius and serene mastery." (See Ricardo J.
The power of the Commission on Appointments to give its consent to the
Romulo, "The Role of Lawyers in Foreign Investments," Integrated Bar
nomination of Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on Elections is mandated
of the Philippine Journal, Vol. 15, Nos. 3 and 4, Third and Fourth
by Section 1(2) Sub-Article C, Article IX of the Constitution which provides:
Quarters, 1977, p. 265).

42
The Chairman and the Commisioners shall be appointed by the except only upon a clear showing of a grave abuse of discretion amounting to
President with the consent of the Commission on Appointments for a lack or excess of jurisdiction. (Art. VIII, Sec. 1 Constitution). Thus, only where
term of seven years without reappointment. Of those first appointed, such grave abuse of discretion is clearly shown shall the Court interfere with the
three Members shall hold office for seven years, two Members for five Commission's judgment. In the instant case, there is no occasion for the exercise
years, and the last Members for three years, without reappointment. of the Court's corrective power, since no abuse, much less a grave abuse of
Appointment to any vacancy shall be only for the unexpired term of the discretion, that would amount to lack or excess of jurisdiction and would warrant
predecessor. In no case shall any Member be appointed or designated the issuance of the writs prayed, for has been clearly shown.
in a temporary or acting capacity.
Additionally, consider the following:
Anent Justice Teodoro Padilla's separate opinion, suffice it to say that
his definition of the practice of law is the traditional or stereotyped notion (1) If the Commission on Appointments rejects a nominee by the
of law practice, as distinguished from the modern concept of the practice President, may the Supreme Court reverse the Commission, and thus in
of law, which modern connotation is exactly what was intended by the effect confirm the appointment? Clearly, the answer is in the negative.
eminent framers of the 1987 Constitution. Moreover, Justice Padilla's
definition would require generally a habitual law practice, perhaps
(2) In the same vein, may the Court reject the nominee, whom the
practised two or three times a week and would outlaw say, law practice
Commission has confirmed? The answer is likewise clear.
once or twice a year for ten consecutive years. Clearly, this is far from
the constitutional intent.
(3) If the United States Senate (which is the confirming body in the U.S.
Congress) decides to confirm a Presidential nominee, it would be
Upon the other hand, the separate opinion of Justice Isagani Cruz states that in
incredible that the U.S. Supreme Court would still reverse the U.S.
my written opinion, I made use of a definition of law practice which really means
Senate.
nothing because the definition says that law practice " . . . is what people
ordinarily mean by the practice of law." True I cited the definition but only by way
of sarcasm as evident from my statement that the definition of law practice by Finally, one significant legal maxim is:
"traditional areas of law practice is essentially tautologous" or defining a phrase
by means of the phrase itself that is being defined. We must interpret not by the letter that killeth, but by the spirit that giveth
life.
Justice Cruz goes on to say in substance that since the law covers almost all
situations, most individuals, in making use of the law, or in advising others on Take this hypothetical case of Samson and Delilah. Once, the procurator of
what the law means, are actually practicing law. In that sense, perhaps, but we Judea asked Delilah (who was Samson's beloved) for help in capturing Samson.
should not lose sight of the fact that Mr. Monsod is a lawyer, a member of the Delilah agreed on condition that —
Philippine Bar, who has been practising law for over ten years. This is different
from the acts of persons practising law, without first becoming lawyers. No blade shall touch his skin;

Justice Cruz also says that the Supreme Court can even disqualify an elected No blood shall flow from his veins.
President of the Philippines, say, on the ground that he lacks one or more
qualifications. This matter, I greatly doubt. For one thing, how can an action or
petition be brought against the President? And even assuming that he is indeed When Samson (his long hair cut by Delilah) was captured, the procurator placed
disqualified, how can the action be entertained since he is the incumbent an iron rod burning white-hot two or three inches away from in front of Samson's
President? eyes. This blinded the man. Upon hearing of what had happened to her beloved,
Delilah was beside herself with anger, and fuming with righteous fury, accused
the procurator of reneging on his word. The procurator calmly replied: "Did any
We now proceed: blade touch his skin? Did any blood flow from his veins?" The procurator was
clearly relying on the letter, not the spirit of the agreement.
The Commission on the basis of evidence submitted doling the public hearings
on Monsod's confirmation, implicitly determined that he possessed the necessary In view of the foregoing, this petition is hereby DISMISSED.
qualifications as required by law. The judgment rendered by the Commission in
the exercise of such an acknowledged power is beyond judicial interference
SO ORDERED

43
Separate Opinions The Constitution has imposed clear and specific standards for a COMELEC
Chairman. Among these are that he must have been "engaged in the practice of
law for at least ten (10) years." It is the bounden duty of this Court to ensure that
such standard is met and complied with.
NARVASA, J., concurring:
What constitutes practice of law? As commonly understood, "practice" refers to
the actual performance or application of knowledge as distinguished from mere
I concur with the decision of the majority written by Mr. Justice Paras, albeit only
possession of knowledge; it connotes an active, habitual, repeated or customary
in the result; it does not appear to me that there has been an adequate showing
action.1 To "practice" law, or any profession for that matter, means, to exercise or
that the challenged determination by the Commission on Appointments-that the
pursue an employment or profession actively, habitually,
appointment of respondent Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on Elections repeatedly or customarily.
should, on the basis of his stated qualifications and after due assessment
thereof, be confirmed-was attended by error so gross as to amount to grave
abuse of discretion and consequently merits nullification by this Court in Therefore, a doctor of medicine who is employed and is habitually performing the
accordance with the second paragraph of Section 1, Article VIII of the tasks of a nursing aide, cannot be said to be in the "practice of medicine." A
Constitution. I therefore vote to DENY the petition. certified public accountant who works as a clerk, cannot be said to practice his
profession as an accountant. In the same way, a lawyer who is employed as a
business executive or a corporate manager, other than as head or attorney of a
Legal Department of a corporation or a governmental agency, cannot be said to
be in the practice of law.
PADILLA, J., dissenting:
As aptly held by this Court in the case of People vs. Villanueva:2
The records of this case will show that when the Court first deliberated on the
Petition at bar, I voted not only to require the respondents to comment on the Practice is more than an isolated appearance for it consists in frequent
Petition, but I was the sole vote for the issuance of a temporary restraining order or customary actions, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other
to enjoin respondent Monsod from assuming the position of COMELEC words, it is frequent habitual exercise (State vs- Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87
Chairman, while the Court deliberated on his constitutional qualification for the Kan. 864, 42 LRA, M.S. 768). Practice of law to fall within the prohibition
office. My purpose in voting for a TRO was to prevent the inconvenience and of statute has been interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's
even embarrassment to all parties concerned were the Court to finally decide for self out to the public as a lawyer and demanding payment for such
respondent Monsod's disqualification. Moreover, a reading of the Petition then in services (State vs. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644,647.) ... (emphasis
relation to established jurisprudence already showed prima facie that respondent supplied).
Monsod did not possess the needed qualification, that is, he had not engaged in
the practice of law for at least ten (10) years prior to his appointment as
COMELEC Chairman. It is worth mentioning that the respondent Commission on Appointments in a
Memorandum it prepared, enumerated several factors determinative of whether a
particular activity constitutes "practice of law." It states:
After considering carefully respondent Monsod's comment, I am even more
convinced that the constitutional requirement of "practice of law for at least ten
(10) years" has not been met. 1. Habituality. The term "practice of law" implies customarily or habitually
holding one's self out to the public as a lawyer (People vs. Villanueva, 14
SCRA 109 citing State v. Boyen, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644) such as when
The procedural barriers interposed by respondents deserve scant consideration
one sends a circular announcing the establishment of a law office for the
because, ultimately, the core issue to be resolved in this petition is the proper
general practice of law (U.S. v. Ney Bosque, 8 Phil. 146), or when one
construal of the constitutional provision requiring a majority of the membership of
takes the oath of office as a lawyer before a notary public, and files a
COMELEC, including the Chairman thereof to "have been engaged in the
manifestation with the Supreme Court informing it of his intention to
practice of law for at least ten (10) years." (Art. IX(C), Section 1(1), 1987
practice law in all courts in the country (People v. De Luna, 102 Phil.
Constitution). Questions involving the construction of constitutional provisions are 968).
best left to judicial resolution. As declared in Angara v. Electoral Commission, (63
Phil. 139) "upon the judicial department is thrown the solemn and inescapable
obligation of interpreting the Constitution and defining constitutional boundaries." Practice is more than an isolated appearance for it consists in frequent
or customary action, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other

44
words, it is a habitual exercise (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109 Given the employment or job history of respondent Monsod as appears from the
citing State v. Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan, 864). records, I am persuaded that if ever he did perform any of the tasks which
constitute the practice of law, he did not do so HABITUALLY for at least ten (10)
2. Compensation. Practice of law implies that one must have presented years prior to his appointment as COMELEC Chairman.
himself to be in the active and continued practice of the legal profession
and that his professional services are available to the public for While it may be granted that he performed tasks and activities which could be
compensation, as a service of his livelihood or in consideration of his latitudinarianly considered activities peculiar to the practice of law, like the
said services. (People v. Villanueva, supra). Hence, charging for drafting of legal documents and the rendering of legal opinion or advice, such
services such as preparation of documents involving the use of legal were isolated transactions or activities which do not qualify his past endeavors as
knowledge and skill is within the term "practice of law" (Ernani Paño, Bar "practice of law." To become engaged in the practice of law, there must be
Reviewer in Legal and Judicial Ethics, 1988 ed., p. 8 citing People v. a continuity, or a succession of acts. As observed by the Solicitor General
People's Stockyards State Bank, 176 N.B. 901) and, one who renders in People vs. Villanueva:4
an opinion as to the proper interpretation of a statute, and receives pay
for it, is to that extent, practicing law (Martin, supra, p. 806 citing Essentially, the word private practice of law implies that one must have
Mendelaun v. Gilbert and Barket Mfg. Co., 290 N.Y.S. 462) If presented himself to be in the activeand continued practice of the legal
compensation is expected, all advice to clients and all action taken for profession and that his professional services are available to the public
them in matters connected with the law; are practicing law. (Elwood for a compensation, as a source of his livelihood or in consideration of
Fitchette et al., v. Arthur C. Taylor, 94A-L.R. 356-359) his said services.

3. Application of law legal principle practice or procedure which calls for ACCORDINGLY, my vote is to GRANT the petition and to declare respondent
legal knowledge, training and experience is within the term "practice of Monsod as not qualified for the position of COMELEC Chairman for not having
law". (Martin supra) engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years prior to his appointment
to such position.
4. Attorney-client relationship. Engaging in the practice of law
presupposes the existence of lawyer-client relationship. Hence, where a CRUZ, J., dissenting:
lawyer undertakes an activity which requires knowledge of law but
involves no attorney-client relationship, such as teaching law or writing
I am sincerely impressed by the ponencia of my brother Paras but find I must
law books or articles, he cannot be said to be engaged in the practice of
his profession or a lawyer (Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1989 ed., p. 30).3 dissent just the same. There are certain points on which I must differ with him
while of course respecting hisviewpoint.
The above-enumerated factors would, I believe, be useful aids in determining
To begin with, I do not think we are inhibited from examining the qualifications of
whether or not respondent Monsod meets the constitutional qualification of
the respondent simply because his nomination has been confirmed by the
practice of law for at least ten (10) years at the time of his appointment as
COMELEC Chairman. Commission on Appointments. In my view, this is not a political question that we
are barred from resolving. Determination of the appointee's credentials is made
on the basis of the established facts, not the discretion of that body. Even if it
The following relevant questions may be asked: were, the exercise of that discretion would still be subject to our review.

1. Did respondent Monsod perform any of the tasks which are peculiar to the In Luego, which is cited in the ponencia, what was involved was the discretion of
practice of law? the appointing authority to choosebetween two claimants to the same office who
both possessed the required qualifications. It was that kind of discretion that we
2. Did respondent perform such tasks customarily or habitually? said could not be reviewed.

3. Assuming that he performed any of such tasks habitually, did he do so If a person elected by no less than the sovereign people may be ousted by this
HABITUALLY FOR AT LEAST TEN (10) YEARS prior to his appointment as Court for lack of the required qualifications, I see no reason why we cannot
COMELEC Chairman? disqualified an appointee simply because he has passed the Commission on
Appointments.

45
Even the President of the Philippines may be declared ineligible by this Court in business and finance, in which areas he has distinguished himself, but as an
an appropriate proceeding notwithstanding that he has been found acceptable by executive and economist and not as a practicing lawyer. The plain fact is that he
no less than the enfranchised citizenry. The reason is that what we would be has occupied the various positions listed in his resume by virtue of his
examining is not the wisdom of his election but whether or not he was qualified to experience and prestige as a businessman and not as an attorney-at-law whose
be elected in the first place. principal attention is focused on the law. Even if it be argued that he was acting
as a lawyer when he lobbied in Congress for agrarian and urban reform, served
Coming now to the qualifications of the private respondent, I fear that in the NAMFREL and the Constitutional Commission (together with non-lawyers
the ponencia may have been too sweeping in its definition of the phrase "practice like farmers and priests) and was a member of the Davide Commission, he has
of law" as to render the qualification practically toothless. From the numerous not proved that his activities in these capacities extended over the prescribed 10-
activities accepted as embraced in the term, I have the uncomfortable feeling that year period of actual practice of the law. He is doubtless eminently qualified for
one does not even have to be a lawyer to be engaged in the practice of law as many other positions worthy of his abundant talents but not as Chairman of the
long as his activities involve the application of some law, however peripherally. Commission on Elections.
The stock broker and the insurance adjuster and the realtor could come under
the definition as they deal with or give advice on matters that are likely "to I have much admiration for respondent Monsod, no less than for Mr. Justice
become involved in litigation." Paras, but I must regretfully vote to grant the petition.

The lawyer is considered engaged in the practice of law even if his main GUTIERREZ, JR., J., dissenting:
occupation is another business and he interprets and applies some law only as
an incident of such business. That covers every company organized under the When this petition was filed, there was hope that engaging in the practice of law
Corporation Code and regulated by the SEC under P.D. 902-A. Considering the as a qualification for public office would be settled one way or another in fairly
ramifications of the modern society, there is hardly any activity that is not affected definitive terms. Unfortunately, this was not the result.
by some law or government regulation the businessman must know about and
observe. In fact, again going by the definition, a lawyer does not even have to be
Of the fourteen (14) member Court, 5 are of the view that Mr. Christian Monsod
part of a business concern to be considered a practitioner. He can be so deemed
engaged in the practice of law (with one of these 5 leaving his vote behind while
when, on his own, he rents a house or buys a car or consults a doctor as these
on official leave but not expressing his clear stand on the matter); 4 categorically
acts involve his knowledge and application of the laws regulating such
stating that he did not practice law; 2 voting in the result because there was no
transactions. If he operates a public utility vehicle as his main source of
error so gross as to amount to grave abuse of discretion; one of official leave with
livelihood, he would still be deemed engaged in the practice of law because he
no instructions left behind on how he viewed the issue; and 2 not taking part in
must obey the Public Service Act and the rules and regulations of the Energy
the deliberations and the decision.
Regulatory Board.

There are two key factors that make our task difficult. First is our reviewing the
The ponencia quotes an American decision defining the practice of law as the
work of a constitutional Commission on Appointments whose duty is precisely to
"performance of any acts ... in or out of court, commonly understood to be the
look into the qualifications of persons appointed to high office. Even if the
practice of law," which tells us absolutely nothing. The decision goes on to say
Commission errs, we have no power to set aside error. We can look only into
that "because lawyers perform almost every function known in the commercial
grave abuse of discretion or whimsically and arbitrariness. Second is our belief
and governmental realm, such a definition would obviously be too global to be
workable." that Mr. Monsod possesses superior qualifications in terms of executive ability,
proficiency in management, educational background, experience in international
banking and finance, and instant recognition by the public. His integrity and
The effect of the definition given in the ponencia is to consider virtually every competence are not questioned by the petitioner. What is before us is
lawyer to be engaged in the practice of law even if he does not earn his living, or compliance with a specific requirement written into the Constitution.
at least part of it, as a lawyer. It is enough that his activities are incidentally (even
if only remotely) connected with some law, ordinance, or regulation. The possible
Inspite of my high regard for Mr. Monsod, I cannot shirk my constitutional duty.
exception is the lawyer whose income is derived from teaching ballroom dancing
or escorting wrinkled ladies with pubescent pretensions. He has never engaged in the practice of law for even one year. He is a member
of the bar but to say that he has practiced law is stretching the term beyond
rational limits.
The respondent's credentials are impressive, to be sure, but they do not
persuade me that he has been engaged in the practice of law for ten years as
required by the Constitution. It is conceded that he has been engaged in

46
A person may have passed the bar examinations. But if he has not dedicated his 4. 1973-1976: Yujuico Group — President, Fil-Capital Development
life to the law, if he has not engaged in an activity where membership in the bar Corporation and affiliated companies
is a requirement I fail to see how he can claim to have been engaged in the
practice of law. 5. 1976-1978: Finaciera Manila — Chief Executive Officer

Engaging in the practice of law is a qualification not only for COMELEC chairman 6. 1978-1986: Guevent Group of Companies — Chief Executive Officer
but also for appointment to the Supreme Court and all lower courts. What kind of
Judges or Justices will we have if there main occupation is selling real estate,
7. 1986-1987: Philippine Constitutional Commission — Member
managing a business corporation, serving in fact-finding committee, working in
media, or operating a farm with no active involvement in the law, whether in
Government or private practice, except that in one joyful moment in the distant 8. 1989-1991: The Fact-Finding Commission on the December 1989
past, they happened to pass the bar examinations? Coup Attempt — Member

The Constitution uses the phrase "engaged in the practice of law for at least ten 9. Presently: Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the
years." The deliberate choice of words shows that the practice envisioned is following companies:
active and regular, not isolated, occasional, accidental, intermittent, incidental,
seasonal, or extemporaneous. To be "engaged" in an activity for ten years a. ACE Container Philippines, Inc.
requires committed participation in something which is the result of one's decisive
choice. It means that one is occupied and involved in the enterprise; one is b. Dataprep, Philippines
obliged or pledged to carry it out with intent and attention during the ten-year
period.
c. Philippine SUNsystems Products, Inc.
I agree with the petitioner that based on the bio-data submitted by respondent
Monsod to the Commission on Appointments, the latter has not been engaged in d. Semirara Coal Corporation
the practice of law for at least ten years. In fact, if appears that Mr. Monsod has
never practiced law except for an alleged one year period after passing the bar e. CBL Timber Corporation
examinations when he worked in his father's law firm. Even then his law practice
must have been extremely limited because he was also working for M.A. and Ph. Member of the Board of the Following:
D. degrees in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania during that period.
How could he practice law in the United States while not a member of the Bar
a. Engineering Construction Corporation of the Philippines
there?

b. First Philippine Energy Corporation


The professional life of the respondent follows:

c. First Philippine Holdings Corporation


1.15.1. Respondent Monsod's activities since his passing the Bar
examinations in 1961 consist of the following:
d. First Philippine Industrial Corporation
1. 1961-1963: M.A. in Economics (Ph. D. candidate), University of
Pennsylvania e. Graphic Atelier

2. 1963-1970: World Bank Group — Economist, Industry Department; f. Manila Electric Company
Operations, Latin American Department; Division Chief, South Asia and
Middle East, International Finance Corporation g. Philippine Commercial Capital, Inc.

3. 1970-1973: Meralco Group — Executive of various companies, i.e., h. Philippine Electric Corporation
Meralco Securities Corporation, Philippine Petroleum Corporation,
Philippine Electric Corporation

47
i. Tarlac Reforestation and Environment Enterprises It would be difficult, if not impossible to lay down a formula or definition
of what constitutes the practice of law. "Practicing law" has been defined
j. Tolong Aquaculture Corporation as "Practicing as an attorney or counselor at law according to the laws
and customs of our courts, is the giving of advice or rendition of any sort
of service by any person, firm or corporation when the giving of such
k. Visayan Aquaculture Corporation
advice or rendition of such service requires the use of any degree of
legal knowledge or skill." Without adopting that definition, we referred to
l. Guimaras Aquaculture Corporation (Rollo, pp. 21-22) it as being substantially correct in People ex rel. Illinois State Bar Ass'n
v. People's Stock Yards State Bank, 344 Ill. 462,176 N.E. 901. (People
There is nothing in the above bio-data which even remotely indicates that v. Schafer, 87 N.E. 2d 773, 776)
respondent Monsod has given the lawenough attention or a certain degree of
commitment and participation as would support in all sincerity and candor the For one's actions to come within the purview of practice of law they should not
claim of having engaged in its practice for at least ten years. Instead of working only be activities peculiar to the work of a lawyer, they should also be performed,
as a lawyer, he has lawyers working for him. Instead of giving receiving that legal habitually, frequently or customarily, to wit:
advice of legal services, he was the oneadvice and those services as an
executive but not as a lawyer.
xxx xxx xxx

The deliberations before the Commission on Appointments show an effort to Respondent's answers to questions propounded to him were rather
equate "engaged in the practice of law" with the use of legal knowledge in
evasive. He was asked whether or not he ever prepared contracts for
various fields of endeavor such as commerce, industry, civic work, blue ribbon
the parties in real-estate transactions where he was not the procuring
investigations, agrarian reform, etc. where such knowledge would be helpful.
agent. He answered: "Very seldom." In answer to the question as to how
many times he had prepared contracts for the parties during the twenty-
I regret that I cannot join in playing fast and loose with a term, which even an one years of his business, he said: "I have no Idea." When asked if it
ordinary layman accepts as having a familiar and customary well-defined would be more than half a dozen times his answer was I suppose.
meaning. Every resident of this country who has reached the age of discernment Asked if he did not recall making the statement to several parties that he
has to know, follow, or apply the law at various times in his life. Legal knowledge had prepared contracts in a large number of instances, he answered: "I
is useful if not necessary for the business executive, legislator, mayor, barangay don't recall exactly what was said." When asked if he did not remember
captain, teacher, policeman, farmer, fisherman, market vendor, and student to saying that he had made a practice of preparing deeds, mortgages and
name only a few. And yet, can these people honestly assert that as such, they contracts and charging a fee to the parties therefor in instances where
are engaged in the practice of law? he was not the broker in the deal, he answered: "Well, I don't believe so,
that is not a practice." Pressed further for an answer as to his practice in
The Constitution requires having been "engaged in the practice of law for at least preparing contracts and deeds for parties where he was not the broker,
ten years." It is not satisfied with having been "a member of the Philippine bar for he finally answered: "I have done about everything that is on the books
at least ten years." as far as real estate is concerned."

Some American courts have defined the practice of law, as follows: xxx xxx xxx

The practice of law involves not only appearance in court in connection Respondent takes the position that because he is a real-estate broker he
with litigation but also services rendered out of court, and it includes the has a lawful right to do any legal work in connection with real-estate
giving of advice or the rendering of any services requiring the use of transactions, especially in drawing of real-estate contracts, deeds,
legal skill or knowledge, such as preparing a will, contract or other mortgages, notes and the like. There is no doubt but that he has
instrument, the legal effect of which, under the facts and conditions engaged in these practices over the years and has charged for his
involved, must be carefully determined. People ex rel. Chicago Bar Ass'n services in that connection. ... (People v. Schafer, 87 N.E. 2d 773)
v. Tinkoff, 399 Ill. 282, 77 N.E.2d 693; People ex rel. Illinois State Bar
Ass'n v. People's Stock Yards State Bank, 344 Ill. 462,176 N.E. 901, and xxx xxx xxx
cases cited.

48
... An attorney, in the most general sense, is a person designated or Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent
employed by another to act in his stead; an agent; more especially, one or customary action, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other
of a class of persons authorized to appear and act for suitors or words, it is a habitual exercise (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 1 09
defendants in legal proceedings. Strictly, these professional persons are citing State v. Cotner, 1 27, p. 1, 87 Kan, 864)." (Rollo, p. 115)
attorneys at law, and non-professional agents are properly styled
"attorney's in fact;" but the single word is much used as meaning an xxx xxx xxx
attorney at law. A person may be an attorney in facto for another,
without being an attorney at law. Abb. Law Dict. "Attorney." A public
attorney, or attorney at law, says Webster, is an officer of a court of law, While the career as a businessman of respondent Monsod may have profited
legally qualified to prosecute and defend actions in such court on from his legal knowledge, the use of such legal knowledge is incidental and
the retainer of clients. "The principal duties of an attorney are (1) to be consists of isolated activities which do not fall under the denomination of practice
true to the court and to his client; (2) to manage the business of his client of law. Admission to the practice of law was not required for membership in the
with care, skill, and integrity; (3) to keep his client informed as to the Constitutional Commission or in the Fact-Finding Commission on the 1989 Coup
state of his business; (4) to keep his secrets confided to him as such. ... Attempt. Any specific legal activities which may have been assigned to Mr.
His rights are to be justly compensated for his services." Bouv. Law Dict. Monsod while a member may be likened to isolated transactions of foreign
corporations in the Philippines which do not categorize the foreign corporations
tit. "Attorney." The transitive verb "practice," as defined by Webster,
as doing business in the Philippines. As in the practice of law, doing
means 'to do or perform frequently, customarily, or habitually; to perform
business also should be active and continuous. Isolated business transactions or
by a succession of acts, as, to practice gaming, ... to carry on in practice,
occasional, incidental and casual transactions are not within the context of doing
or repeated action; to apply, as a theory, to real life; to exercise, as a
business. This was our ruling in the case of Antam Consolidated, Inc. v. Court of
profession, trade, art. etc.; as, to practice law or medicine,' etc...." (State
appeals, 143 SCRA 288 [1986]).
v. Bryan, S.E. 522, 523; Emphasis supplied)

In this jurisdiction, we have ruled that the practice of law denotes frequency or a Respondent Monsod, corporate executive, civic leader, and member of the
succession of acts. Thus, we stated in the case of People v. Villanueva (14 Constitutional Commission may possess the background, competence, integrity,
SCRA 109 [1965]): and dedication, to qualify for such high offices as President, Vice-President,
Senator, Congressman or Governor but the Constitution in prescribing the
specific qualification of having engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10)
xxx xxx xxx years for the position of COMELEC Chairman has ordered that he may not be
confirmed for that office. The Constitution charges the public respondents no less
... Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or than this Court to obey its mandate.
customary actions, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is
frequent habitual exercise (State v. Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan. 864, 42 LRA, M.S. I, therefore, believe that the Commission on Appointments committed grave
768). Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute has been interpreted abuse of discretion in confirming the nomination of respondent Monsod as
as customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the public, as a lawyer and Chairman of the COMELEC.
demanding payment for such services. ... . (at p. 112)
I vote to GRANT the petition.
It is to be noted that the Commission on Appointment itself
recognizes habituality as a required component of the meaning of practice of law
Bidin, J., dissent
in a Memorandum prepared and issued by it, to wit:

l. Habituality. The term 'practice of law' implies customarilyor habitually


holding one's self out to the public as a lawyer (People v. Villanueva, 14
SCRA 109 citing State v. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644) such as when Separate Opinions
one sends a circular announcing the establishment of a law office for the
general practice of law (U.S. v. Noy Bosque, 8 Phil. 146), or when one NARVASA, J., concurring:
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 I concur with the decision of the majority written by Mr. Justice Paras, albeit only
practice law in all courts in the country (People v. De Luna, 102 Phil. in the result; it does not appear to me that there has been an adequate showing
968).

49
that the challenged determination by the Commission on Appointments-that the action.1 To "practice" law, or any profession for that matter, means, to exercise or
appointment of respondent Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on Elections pursue an employment or profession actively, habitually,
should, on the basis of his stated qualifications and after due assessment repeatedly or customarily.
thereof, be confirmed-was attended by error so gross as to amount to grave
abuse of discretion and consequently merits nullification by this Court in Therefore, a doctor of medicine who is employed and is habitually performing the
accordance with the second paragraph of Section 1, Article VIII of the tasks of a nursing aide, cannot be said to be in the "practice of medicine." A
Constitution. I therefore vote to DENY the petition. certified public accountant who works as a clerk, cannot be said to practice his
profession as an accountant. In the same way, a lawyer who is employed as a
Melencio-Herrera, J., concur. business executive or a corporate manager, other than as head or attorney of a
Legal Department of a corporation or a governmental agency, cannot be said to
PADILLA, J., dissenting: be in the practice of law.

The records of this case will show that when the Court first deliberated on the As aptly held by this Court in the case of People vs. Villanueva:2
Petition at bar, I voted not only to require the respondents to comment on the
Petition, but I was the sole vote for the issuance of a temporary restraining order Practice is more than an isolated appearance for it consists in frequent
to enjoin respondent Monsod from assuming the position of COMELEC or customary actions, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other
Chairman, while the Court deliberated on his constitutional qualification for the words, it is frequent habitual exercise (State vs- Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87
office. My purpose in voting for a TRO was to prevent the inconvenience and Kan. 864, 42 LRA, M.S. 768). Practice of law to fall within the prohibition
even embarrassment to all parties concerned were the Court to finally decide for of statute has been interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's
respondent Monsod's disqualification. Moreover, a reading of the Petition then in self out to the public as a lawyer and demanding payment for such
relation to established jurisprudence already showed prima facie that respondent services (State vs. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644,647.) ... (emphasis
Monsod did not possess the needed qualification, that is, he had not engaged in supplied).
the practice of law for at least ten (10) years prior to his appointment as
COMELEC Chairman. It is worth mentioning that the respondent Commission on Appointments in a
Memorandum it prepared, enumerated several factors determinative of whether a
After considering carefully respondent Monsod's comment, I am even more particular activity constitutes "practice of law." It states:
convinced that the constitutional requirement of "practice of law for at least ten
(10) years" has not been met. 1. Habituality. The term "practice of law" implies customarily or habitually
holding one's self out to the public as a lawyer (People vs. Villanueva, 14
The procedural barriers interposed by respondents deserve scant consideration SCRA 109 citing State v. Boyen, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644) such as when
because, ultimately, the core issue to be resolved in this petition is the proper one sends a circular announcing the establishment of a law office for the
construal of the constitutional provision requiring a majority of the membership of general practice of law (U.S. v. Ney Bosque, 8 Phil. 146), or when one
COMELEC, including the Chairman thereof to "have been engaged in the takes the oath of office as a lawyer before a notary public, and files a
practice of law for at least ten (10) years." (Art. IX(C), Section 1(1), 1987 manifestation with the Supreme Court informing it of his intention to
Constitution). Questions involving the construction of constitutional provisions are practice law in all courts in the country (People v. De Luna, 102 Phil.
best left to judicial resolution. As declared in Angara v. Electoral Commission, (63 968).
Phil. 139) "upon the judicial department is thrown the solemn and inescapable
obligation of interpreting the Constitution and defining constitutional boundaries." Practice is more than an isolated appearance for it consists in frequent
or customary action, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other
The Constitution has imposed clear and specific standards for a COMELEC words, it is a habitual exercise (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109
Chairman. Among these are that he must have been "engaged in the practice of citing State v. Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan, 864).
law for at least ten (10) years." It is the bounden duty of this Court to ensure that
such standard is met and complied with. 2. Compensation. Practice of law implies that one must have presented
himself to be in the active and continued practice of the legal profession
What constitutes practice of law? As commonly understood, "practice" refers to and that his professional services are available to the public for
the actual performance or application of knowledge as distinguished from mere compensation, as a service of his livelihood or in consideration of his
possession of knowledge; it connotes an active, habitual, repeated or customary said services. (People v. Villanueva, supra). Hence, charging for

50
services such as preparation of documents involving the use of legal were isolated transactions or activities which do not qualify his past endeavors as
knowledge and skill is within the term "practice of law" (Ernani Paño, Bar "practice of law." To become engaged in the practice of law, there must be
Reviewer in Legal and Judicial Ethics, 1988 ed., p. 8 citing People v. a continuity, or a succession of acts. As observed by the Solicitor General
People's Stockyards State Bank, 176 N.B. 901) and, one who renders in People vs. Villanueva:4
an opinion as to the proper interpretation of a statute, and receives pay
for it, is to that extent, practicing law (Martin, supra, p. 806 citing Essentially, the word private practice of law implies that one must have
Mendelaun v. Gilbert and Barket Mfg. Co., 290 N.Y.S. 462) If presented himself to be in the activeand continued practice of the legal
compensation is expected, all advice to clients and all action taken for profession and that his professional services are available to the public
them in matters connected with the law; are practicing law. (Elwood for a compensation, as a source of his livelihood or in consideration of
Fitchette et al., v. Arthur C. Taylor, 94A-L.R. 356-359) his said services.

3. Application of law legal principle practice or procedure which calls for ACCORDINGLY, my vote is to GRANT the petition and to declare respondent
legal knowledge, training and experience is within the term "practice of Monsod as not qualified for the position of COMELEC Chairman for not having
law". (Martin supra) engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years prior to his appointment
to such position.
4. Attorney-client relationship. Engaging in the practice of law
presupposes the existence of lawyer-client relationship. Hence, where a CRUZ, J., dissenting:
lawyer undertakes an activity which requires knowledge of law but
involves no attorney-client relationship, such as teaching law or writing
I am sincerely impressed by the ponencia of my brother Paras but find I must
law books or articles, he cannot be said to be engaged in the practice of
his profession or a lawyer (Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1989 ed., p. 30).3 dissent just the same. There are certain points on which I must differ with him
while of course respecting hisviewpoint.

The above-enumerated factors would, I believe, be useful aids in determining


To begin with, I do not think we are inhibited from examining the qualifications of
whether or not respondent Monsod meets the constitutional qualification of
the respondent simply because his nomination has been confirmed by the
practice of law for at least ten (10) years at the time of his appointment as
COMELEC Chairman. Commission on Appointments. In my view, this is not a political question that we
are barred from resolving. Determination of the appointee's credentials is made
on the basis of the established facts, not the discretion of that body. Even if it
The following relevant questions may be asked: were, the exercise of that discretion would still be subject to our review.

1. Did respondent Monsod perform any of the tasks which are peculiar to the In Luego, which is cited in the ponencia, what was involved was the discretion of
practice of law? the appointing authority to choosebetween two claimants to the same office who
both possessed the required qualifications. It was that kind of discretion that we
2. Did respondent perform such tasks customarily or habitually? said could not be reviewed.

3. Assuming that he performed any of such tasks habitually, did he do so If a person elected by no less than the sovereign people may be ousted by this
HABITUALLY FOR AT LEAST TEN (10) YEARS prior to his appointment as Court for lack of the required qualifications, I see no reason why we cannot
COMELEC Chairman? disqualified an appointee simply because he has passed the Commission on
Appointments.
Given the employment or job history of respondent Monsod as appears from the
records, I am persuaded that if ever he did perform any of the tasks which Even the President of the Philippines may be declared ineligible by this Court in
constitute the practice of law, he did not do so HABITUALLY for at least ten (10) an appropriate proceeding notwithstanding that he has been found acceptable by
years prior to his appointment as COMELEC Chairman. no less than the enfranchised citizenry. The reason is that what we would be
examining is not the wisdom of his election but whether or not he was qualified to
While it may be granted that he performed tasks and activities which could be be elected in the first place.
latitudinarianly considered activities peculiar to the practice of law, like the
drafting of legal documents and the rendering of legal opinion or advice, such

51
Coming now to the qualifications of the private respondent, I fear that in the NAMFREL and the Constitutional Commission (together with non-lawyers
the ponencia may have been too sweeping in its definition of the phrase "practice like farmers and priests) and was a member of the Davide Commission, he has
of law" as to render the qualification practically toothless. From the numerous not proved that his activities in these capacities extended over the prescribed 10-
activities accepted as embraced in the term, I have the uncomfortable feeling that year period of actual practice of the law. He is doubtless eminently qualified for
one does not even have to be a lawyer to be engaged in the practice of law as many other positions worthy of his abundant talents but not as Chairman of the
long as his activities involve the application of some law, however peripherally. Commission on Elections.
The stock broker and the insurance adjuster and the realtor could come under
the definition as they deal with or give advice on matters that are likely "to I have much admiration for respondent Monsod, no less than for Mr. Justice
become involved in litigation." Paras, but I must regretfully vote to grant the petition.

The lawyer is considered engaged in the practice of law even if his main GUTIERREZ, JR., J., dissenting:
occupation is another business and he interprets and applies some law only as
an incident of such business. That covers every company organized under the
When this petition was filed, there was hope that engaging in the practice of law
Corporation Code and regulated by the SEC under P.D. 902-A. Considering the
as a qualification for public office would be settled one way or another in fairly
ramifications of the modern society, there is hardly any activity that is not affected
definitive terms. Unfortunately, this was not the result.
by some law or government regulation the businessman must know about and
observe. In fact, again going by the definition, a lawyer does not even have to be
part of a business concern to be considered a practitioner. He can be so deemed Of the fourteen (14) member Court, 5 are of the view that Mr. Christian Monsod
when, on his own, he rents a house or buys a car or consults a doctor as these engaged in the practice of law (with one of these 5 leaving his vote behind while
acts involve his knowledge and application of the laws regulating such on official leave but not expressing his clear stand on the matter); 4 categorically
transactions. If he operates a public utility vehicle as his main source of stating that he did not practice law; 2 voting in the result because there was no
livelihood, he would still be deemed engaged in the practice of law because he error so gross as to amount to grave abuse of discretion; one of official leave with
must obey the Public Service Act and the rules and regulations of the Energy no instructions left behind on how he viewed the issue; and 2 not taking part in
Regulatory Board. the deliberations and the decision.

The ponencia quotes an American decision defining the practice of law as the There are two key factors that make our task difficult. First is our reviewing the
"performance of any acts . . . in or out of court, commonly understood to be the work of a constitutional Commission on Appointments whose duty is precisely to
practice of law," which tells us absolutely nothing. The decision goes on to say look into the qualifications of persons appointed to high office. Even if the
that "because lawyers perform almost every function known in the commercial Commission errs, we have no power to set aside error. We can look only into
and governmental realm, such a definition would obviously be too global to be grave abuse of discretion or whimsically and arbitrariness. Second is our belief
workable." that Mr. Monsod possesses superior qualifications in terms of executive ability,
proficiency in management, educational background, experience in international
banking and finance, and instant recognition by the public. His integrity and
The effect of the definition given in the ponencia is to consider virtually every
competence are not questioned by the petitioner. What is before us is
lawyer to be engaged in the practice of law even if he does not earn his living, or
compliance with a specific requirement written into the Constitution.
at least part of it, as a lawyer. It is enough that his activities are incidentally (even
if only remotely) connected with some law, ordinance, or regulation. The possible
exception is the lawyer whose income is derived from teaching ballroom dancing Inspite of my high regard for Mr. Monsod, I cannot shirk my constitutional duty.
or escorting wrinkled ladies with pubescent pretensions. He has never engaged in the practice of law for even one year. He is a member
of the bar but to say that he has practiced law is stretching the term beyond
rational limits.
The respondent's credentials are impressive, to be sure, but they do not
persuade me that he has been engaged in the practice of law for ten years as
required by the Constitution. It is conceded that he has been engaged in A person may have passed the bar examinations. But if he has not dedicated his
business and finance, in which areas he has distinguished himself, but as an life to the law, if he has not engaged in an activity where membership in the bar
executive and economist and not as a practicing lawyer. The plain fact is that he is a requirement I fail to see how he can claim to have been engaged in the
has occupied the various positions listed in his resume by virtue of his practice of law.
experience and prestige as a businessman and not as an attorney-at-law whose
principal attention is focused on the law. Even if it be argued that he was acting Engaging in the practice of law is a qualification not only for COMELEC chairman
as a lawyer when he lobbied in Congress for agrarian and urban reform, served but also for appointment to the Supreme Court and all lower courts. What kind of

52
Judges or Justices will we have if there main occupation is selling real estate, 6. 1978-1986: Guevent Group of Companies — Chief Executive Officer
managing a business corporation, serving in fact-finding committee, working in
media, or operating a farm with no active involvement in the law, whether in 7. 1986-1987: Philippine Constitutional Commission — Member
Government or private practice, except that in one joyful moment in the distant
past, they happened to pass the bar examinations?
8. 1989-1991: The Fact-Finding Commission on the December 1989
Coup Attempt — Member
The Constitution uses the phrase "engaged in the practice of law for at least ten
years." The deliberate choice of words shows that the practice envisioned is
9. Presently: Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the
active and regular, not isolated, occasional, accidental, intermittent, incidental,
following companies:
seasonal, or extemporaneous. To be "engaged" in an activity for ten years
requires committed participation in something which is the result of one's decisive
choice. It means that one is occupied and involved in the enterprise; one is a. ACE Container Philippines, Inc.
obliged or pledged to carry it out with intent and attention during the ten-year
period. b. Dataprep, Philippines

I agree with the petitioner that based on the bio-data submitted by respondent c. Philippine SUNsystems Products, Inc.
Monsod to the Commission on Appointments, the latter has not been engaged in
the practice of law for at least ten years. In fact, if appears that Mr. Monsod has d. Semirara Coal Corporation
never practiced law except for an alleged one year period after passing the bar
examinations when he worked in his father's law firm. Even then his law practice
must have been extremely limited because he was also working for M.A. and Ph. e. CBL Timber Corporation
D. degrees in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania during that period.
How could he practice law in the United States while not a member of the Bar Member of the Board of the Following:
there?
a. Engineering Construction Corporation of the Philippines
The professional life of the respondent follows:
b. First Philippine Energy Corporation
1.15.1. Respondent Monsod's activities since his passing the Bar
examinations in 1961 consist of the following: c. First Philippine Holdings Corporation

1. 1961-1963: M.A. in Economics (Ph. D. candidate), University of d. First Philippine Industrial Corporation
Pennsylvania
e. Graphic Atelier
2. 1963-1970: World Bank Group — Economist, Industry Department;
Operations, Latin American Department; Division Chief, South Asia and
f. Manila Electric Company
Middle East, International Finance Corporation

g. Philippine Commercial Capital, Inc.


3. 1970-1973: Meralco Group — Executive of various companies, i.e.,
Meralco Securities Corporation, Philippine Petroleum Corporation,
Philippine Electric Corporation h. Philippine Electric Corporation

4. 1973-1976: Yujuico Group — President, Fil-Capital Development i. Tarlac Reforestation and Environment Enterprises
Corporation and affiliated companies
j. Tolong Aquaculture Corporation
5. 1976-1978: Finaciera Manila — Chief Executive Officer
k. Visayan Aquaculture Corporation

53
l. Guimaras Aquaculture Corporation (Rollo, pp. 21-22) it as being substantially correct in People ex rel. Illinois State Bar Ass'n
v. People's Stock Yards State Bank, 344 Ill. 462,176 N.E. 901. (People
There is nothing in the above bio-data which even remotely indicates that v. Schafer, 87 N.E. 2d 773, 776)
respondent Monsod has given the lawenough attention or a certain degree of
commitment and participation as would support in all sincerity and candor the For one's actions to come within the purview of practice of law they should not
claim of having engaged in its practice for at least ten years. Instead of working only be activities peculiar to the work of a lawyer, they should also be performed,
as a lawyer, he has lawyers working for him. Instead of giving receiving that legal habitually, frequently or customarily, to wit:
advice of legal services, he was the oneadvice and those services as an
executive but not as a lawyer. xxx xxx xxx

The deliberations before the Commission on Appointments show an effort to Respondent's answers to questions propounded to him were rather
equate "engaged in the practice of law" with the use of legal knowledge in evasive. He was asked whether or not he ever prepared contracts for
various fields of endeavor such as commerce, industry, civic work, blue ribbon the parties in real-estate transactions where he was not the procuring
investigations, agrarian reform, etc. where such knowledge would be helpful. agent. He answered: "Very seldom." In answer to the question as to how
many times he had prepared contracts for the parties during the twenty-
I regret that I cannot join in playing fast and loose with a term, which even an one years of his business, he said: "I have no Idea." When asked if it
ordinary layman accepts as having a familiar and customary well-defined would be more than half a dozen times his answer was I suppose.
meaning. Every resident of this country who has reached the age of discernment Asked if he did not recall making the statement to several parties that he
has to know, follow, or apply the law at various times in his life. Legal knowledge had prepared contracts in a large number of instances, he answered: "I
is useful if not necessary for the business executive, legislator, mayor, barangay don't recall exactly what was said." When asked if he did not remember
captain, teacher, policeman, farmer, fisherman, market vendor, and student to saying that he had made a practice of preparing deeds, mortgages and
name only a few. And yet, can these people honestly assert that as such, they contracts and charging a fee to the parties therefor in instances where
are engaged in the practice of law? he was not the broker in the deal, he answered: "Well, I don't believe so,
that is not a practice." Pressed further for an answer as to his practice in
The Constitution requires having been "engaged in the practice of law for at least preparing contracts and deeds for parties where he was not the broker,
ten years." It is not satisfied with having been "a member of the Philippine bar for he finally answered: "I have done about everything that is on the books
at least ten years." as far as real estate is concerned."

Some American courts have defined the practice of law, as follows: xxx xxx xxx

The practice of law involves not only appearance in court in connection Respondent takes the position that because he is a real-estate broker he
with litigation but also services rendered out of court, and it includes the has a lawful right to do any legal work in connection with real-estate
giving of advice or the rendering of any services requiring the use of transactions, especially in drawing of real-estate contracts, deeds,
legal skill or knowledge, such as preparing a will, contract or other mortgages, notes and the like. There is no doubt but that he has
instrument, the legal effect of which, under the facts and conditions engaged in these practices over the years and has charged for his
involved, must be carefully determined. People ex rel. Chicago Bar Ass'n services in that connection. ... (People v. Schafer, 87 N.E. 2d 773)
v. Tinkoff, 399 Ill. 282, 77 N.E.2d 693; People ex rel. Illinois State Bar
Ass'n v. People's Stock Yards State Bank, 344 Ill. 462,176 N.E. 901, and xxx xxx xxx
cases cited.
... An attorney, in the most general sense, is a person designated or
It would be difficult, if not impossible to lay down a formula or definition employed by another to act in his stead; an agent; more especially, one
of what constitutes the practice of law. "Practicing law" has been defined of a class of persons authorized to appear and act for suitors or
as "Practicing as an attorney or counselor at law according to the laws defendants in legal proceedings. Strictly, these professional persons are
and customs of our courts, is the giving of advice or rendition of any sort attorneys at law, and non-professional agents are properly styled
of service by any person, firm or corporation when the giving of such "attorney's in fact;" but the single word is much used as meaning an
advice or rendition of such service requires the use of any degree of attorney at law. A person may be an attorney in facto for another,
legal knowledge or skill." Without adopting that definition, we referred to without being an attorney at law. Abb. Law Dict. "Attorney." A public

54
attorney, or attorney at law, says Webster, is an officer of a court of law, While the career as a businessman of respondent Monsod may have profited
legally qualified to prosecute and defend actions in such court on from his legal knowledge, the use of such legal knowledge is incidental and
the retainer of clients. "The principal duties of an attorney are (1) to be consists of isolated activities which do not fall under the denomination of practice
true to the court and to his client; (2) to manage the business of his client of law. Admission to the practice of law was not required for membership in the
with care, skill, and integrity; (3) to keep his client informed as to the Constitutional Commission or in the Fact-Finding Commission on the 1989 Coup
state of his business; (4) to keep his secrets confided to him as such. ... Attempt. Any specific legal activities which may have been assigned to Mr.
His rights are to be justly compensated for his services." Bouv. Law Dict. Monsod while a member may be likened to isolated transactions of foreign
tit. "Attorney." The transitive verb "practice," as defined by Webster, corporations in the Philippines which do not categorize the foreign corporations
means 'to do or perform frequently, customarily, or habitually; to perform as doing business in the Philippines. As in the practice of law, doing
by a succession of acts, as, to practice gaming, ... to carry on in practice, business also should be active and continuous. Isolated business transactions or
or repeated action; to apply, as a theory, to real life; to exercise, as a occasional, incidental and casual transactions are not within the context of doing
profession, trade, art. etc.; as, to practice law or medicine,' etc...." (State business. This was our ruling in the case of Antam Consolidated, Inc. v. Court of
v. Bryan, S.E. 522, 523; Emphasis supplied) appeals, 143 SCRA 288 [1986]).

In this jurisdiction, we have ruled that the practice of law denotes frequency or a Respondent Monsod, corporate executive, civic leader, and member of the
succession of acts. Thus, we stated in the case of People v. Villanueva (14 Constitutional Commission may possess the background, competence, integrity,
SCRA 109 [1965]): and dedication, to qualify for such high offices as President, Vice-President,
Senator, Congressman or Governor but the Constitution in prescribing the
xxx xxx xxx specific qualification of having engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10)
years for the position of COMELEC Chairman has ordered that he may not be
confirmed for that office. The Constitution charges the public respondents no less
... Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or than this Court to obey its mandate.
customary actions, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is
frequent habitual exercise (State v. Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan. 864, 42 LRA, M.S.
768). Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute has been interpreted I, therefore, believe that the Commission on Appointments committed grave
as customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the public, as a lawyer and abuse of discretion in confirming the nomination of respondent Monsod as
demanding payment for such services. ... . (at p. 112) Chairman of the COMELEC.

It is to be noted that the Commission on Appointment itself I vote to GRANT the petition.
recognizes habituality as a required component of the meaning of practice of law
in a Memorandum prepared and issued by it, to wit:

l. Habituality. The term 'practice of law' implies customarilyor habitually


holding one's self out to the public as a lawyer (People v. Villanueva, 14
SCRA 109 citing State v. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644) such as when
one sends a circular announcing the establishment of a law office for the
general practice of law (U.S. v. Noy Bosque, 8 Phil. 146), 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 (People v. De Luna, 102 Phil.
968).

Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent


or customary action, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other
words, it is a habitual exercise (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 1 09
citing State v. Cotner, 1 27, p. 1, 87 Kan, 864)." (Rollo, p. 115)

xxx xxx xxx

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