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No. 11 Cayetano v.

Monsod Case Digest

Cayetano v. Monsod G.R. No. 100113, September 3, 1991


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 opposed the nomination because Monsod allegedly does not possess the required qualification of having been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.

On June 5, 1991, the Commission on Appointments confirmed the nomination of Monsod as Chairman of the COMELEC. On June 18, 1991, he took his oath of office. On the same day, he assumed office as Chairman of the COMELEC. Challenging the validity of the confirmation by the Commission on Appointments of Monsod's nomination, petitioner as a citizen and taxpayer, filed the instant petition for certiorari and prohibition praying that said confirmation and the consequent appointment of Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on Elections be declared null and void.


Whether the appointment of Chairman Monsod of Comelec violates Section 1 (1), Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution?


The 1987 Constitution provides in Section 1 (1), Article IX-C, that there shall be a Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and six Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five years of age, holders

of a college degree, and must not have been candidates for any elective position in the immediately preceding elections. However, a majority thereof, including the Chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.

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 dues paying member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines since its inception in 1972-73. He has also been paying his professional license fees as lawyer for more than ten years.

At this point, it might be helpful to define private practice. The term, as commonly understood, means "an individual or organization engaged in the business of delivering legal services." (Ibid.). Lawyers who practice alone are often called "sole practitioners." Groups of lawyers are called "firms." The firm is usually a partnership and members of the firm are the partners. Some firms may be organized as professional corporations and the members called shareholders. In either case, the members of the firm are the experienced attorneys. In most firms, there are younger or more inexperienced salaried attorneys called "associates."

Hence, the Commission on the basis of evidence submitted doling the public hearings on Monsod's confirmation, implicitly determined that he possessed the necessary qualifications as required by law. The judgment rendered by the Commission in the exercise of such an acknowledged power is beyond judicial interference except only upon a clear showing of a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. (Art. VIII, Sec. 1 Constitution). Thus, only where such grave abuse of discretion is clearly shown shall the Court interfere with the Commission's judgment. In the instant case, there is no occasion for the exercise of the Court's corrective power, since no abuse, much less a grave abuse of discretion, that would amount to lack or excess of jurisdiction and would warrant the issuance of the writs prayed, for has been clearly shown.

Besides, in the leading case of Luego v. Civil Service Commission, the Court said that, Appointment is an essentially discretionary power and must be performed by the officer in which

it is vested according to his best lights, the only condition being that the appointee should possess the qualifications required by law. If he does, then the appointment cannot be faulted on the ground that there are others better qualified who should have been preferred. This is a political question involving considerations of wisdom which only the appointing authority can decide.

No. 25 Ulep v. The Legal Clinic 223 SCRA 378 42 SCAD 287 Legal Ethics Advertisement in the Legal Profession Practice of Law In 1984, The Legal Clinic was formed by Atty. Rogelio Nogales. Its aim, according to Nogales was to move toward specialization and to cater to clients who cannot afford the services of big law firms. Now, Atty. Mauricio Ulep filed a complaint against The Legal Clinic because of the latters advertisements which contain the following:

SECRET MARRIAGE? P560.00 for a valid marriage. Info on DIVORCE. ABSENCE. ANNULMENT. VISA. THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC. Please call: 521-0767; 521-7232; 522-2041 8:30am 6:00pm 7th Flr. Victoria Bldg., UN Ave., Manila GUAM DIVORCE DON PARKINSON

An attorney in Guam is giving FREE BOOKS on Guam Divorce through The Legal Clinic beginning Monday to Friday during office hours. Guam divorce. Annulment of Marriage. Immigration Problems, Visa Ext. Quota/Non-quota Res. & Special Retirees Visa. Declaration of Absence. Remarriage to Filipina Fiancees. Adoption. Investment in the Phil. US/Foreign Visa for Filipina Spouse/Children. Call Marivic. THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC. 7th Flr. Victoria Bldg., UN Ave., Manila nr. US Embassy Tel. 521-7232, 521-7251, 522-2041, 521-0767 It is also alleged that The Legal Clinic published an article entitled Rx for Legal Problems in Star Week of Philippine Star wherein Nogales stated that they The Legal Clinic is composed of specialists that can take care of a clients problem no matter how complicated it is even if it is as complicated as the Sharon Cuneta-Gabby Concepcion situation. He said that he and his staff of lawyers, who, like doctors, are specialists in various fields, can take care of it. The Legal Clinic, Inc. has specialists in taxation and criminal law, medico-legal problems, labor, litigation and family law. These specialists are backed up by a battery of paralegals, counselors and attorneys. As for its advertisement, Nogales said it should be allowed in view of the jurisprudence in the US which now allows it (John Bates vs The State Bar of Arizona). And that besides, the advertisement is merely making known to the public the services that The Legal Clinic offers. ISSUE: Whether or not The Legal Clinic is engaged in the practice of law; whether such is allowed; whether or not its advertisement may be allowed. HELD: Yes, The Legal Clinic is engaged in the practice of law however, such practice is not allowed. The Legal Clinic is composed mainly of paralegals. The services it offered include various legal problems wherein a client may avail of legal services from simple documentation to complex litigation and corporate undertakings. Most of these services are undoubtedly beyond the domain of paralegals, but rather, are exclusive functions of lawyers engaged in the practice of

law. Under Philippine jurisdiction however, the services being offered by Legal Clinic which constitute practice of law cannot be performed by paralegals. Only a person duly admitted as a member of the bar and who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice law. Anent the issue on the validity of the questioned advertisements, the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer in making known his legal services shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified and objective information or statement of facts. The standards of the legal profession condemn the lawyers advertisement of his talents. A lawyer cannot, without violating the ethics of his profession, advertise his talents or skills as in a manner similar to a merchant advertising his goods. Further, the advertisements of Legal Clinic seem to promote divorce, secret marriage, bigamous marriage, and other circumventions of law which their experts can facilitate. Such is highly reprehensible. The Supreme Court also noted which forms of advertisement are allowed. The best advertising possible for a lawyer is a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust, which must be earned as the outcome of character and conduct. Good and efficient service to a client as well as to the community has a way of publicizing itself and catching public attention. That publicity is a normal by-product of effective service which is right and proper. A good and reputable lawyer needs no artificial stimulus to generate it and to magnify his success. He easily sees the difference between a normal by-product of able service and the unwholesome result of propaganda. The Supreme Court also enumerated the following as allowed forms of advertisement: 1. Advertisement in a reputable law list 2. Use of ordinary simple professional card 3. Listing in a phone directory but without designation as to his specialization

No. 39 Stemmerick v. Atty Leonuel Mas

Facts: Complainant Keld Stemmerik is a citizen and resident of Denmark. He consulted the respondent who advised him that he could legally acquire and own real property in the Philippines and suggested an 86,998 sq.m. property in Quarry, Agusuin, Cawag, Subic, Zambales with the assurance that the property was alienable.

The complainant agreed to purchase the property through respondent as his representative or attorney-in-fact to which the latter demanded and received a P400,000 fee. The complainant then returned to Denmark, entrusting the processing of the necessary paperwork to respondent. He also gave the respondent the full amount of the purchase price (P3.8 million) for which respondent issued an acknowledgment receipt.

After the various contracts and agreements were executed, complainant tried to get in touch with respondent to inquire about when the property could be registered in his name. However, respondent suddenly became scarce and refused to answer complainants calls and email messages.

When complainant visited the Philippines again in January 2005, he engaged the services of the Jimenez Gonzales Liwanag Bello Valdez Caluya & Fernandez Law Office to ascertain the status of the property he supposedly bought. He was devastated to learn that aliens could not own land under Philippine laws. Moreover, verification at the Community Environment & Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Olongapo City revealed that the property was inalienable as it was situated within the former US Military Reservation. The CENRO also stated that the property was not subject to disposition or acquisition under Republic Act No. 141.

Thereafter, complainant, through his attorneys-in-fact, tried to locate respondent but upon inquiry with the Olongapo Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), they

discovered that respondent was in arrears in his annual dues and that he had already abandoned his law office in Olongapo City.

Complainant filed a complaint for disbarment against respondent in the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the IBP. He claimed that the respondents acts amounted to serious misconduct. He sought the expulsion of respondent from the legal profession for gravely misrepresenting that a foreigner could legally acquire land in the Philippines and for absconding with complainants P3.8 million. Respondent failed to file his answer and position paper despite service of notice at his last known address. Neither did he appear in the scheduled mandatory conference. The CBD then found that respondent abandoned his law practice in Olongapo City after his transaction with complainant and that he did not see it fit to contest the charges against him. The CBD ruled that respondent used his position as a lawyer to deceive complainant and abscond with his money. It consequently recommended the disbarment of respondent. The Board of Governors of the IBP adopted the findings and recommendation of the CBD with the modification that respondent was to return the amount of P4.2 million to complainant. Issues: 1. WON respondent properly given notice of the disbarment proceedings against him 2. WON respondent should be disbarred

Ruling: The respondent did not file any answer or position paper, nor did he appear during the scheduled mandatory conference and even abandoned his law office. He should not be allowed to benefit from his disappearing act. Thus, service of the complaint and other orders and

processes on respondents office was sufficient notice to him. The notice requirement cannot apply to him and he is thus considered to have waived it. In this connection, lawyers must update their records with the IBP by informing the IBP National Office or their respective chapters of any change in office or residential address and other contact details. In case such change is not duly updated, service of notice on the office or residential address appearing in the records of the IBP National Office shall constitute sufficient notice to a lawyer for purposes of administrative proceedings against him. Respondent committed a serious breach of his oath as a lawyer. He is also guilty of culpable violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility, the code of ethics of the legal profession. Respondent, in giving advice that directly contradicted a fundamental constitutional policy, showed disrespect for the Constitution and gross ignorance of basic law. Worse, he prepared spurious documents that he knew were void and illegal. Respondent spun an intricate web of lies. In the process, he committed unethical act after unethical act, wantonly violating laws and professional standards. For all this, respondent violated not only the lawyers oath and Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He also transgressed the following provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility: Rule 1.01. A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Rule 1.02. A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system. CANON 7 A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.


The respondent does not only tarnish the image of the bar and degrade the integrity and dignity of the legal profession, he also betrays everything that the legal profession stands for.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Leonuel N. Mas is hereby DISBARRED.