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Republic Act No.

7662 is unconstitutional
on the ground that it encroaches the power
of the Supreme Court to promulgate rules
concerning the admission to the practice of
law, the integrated bar and legal assistance
to underprivileged, thus violating the
doctrine of separation of powers.

Section 5, Par. 5, Article 8 of the 1987 Constitution provides that the Supreme Court has the
exclusive power to Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional
rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the
integrated bar, and legal assistance to the under-privileged. x x x. (Emphasis supplied)

Pursuant to the provisions of Section 5, Par. 5, Article 8 of the 1987 Constitution, the Supreme
Court adopted and promulgated the rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional
rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the
integrated bar, and legal assistance to the under-privileged.

Admission to the practice of law, in its literal and strict sense, is the constitutional power of
the Supreme Court to admit candidates to the legal profession through the Bar Examination
Committee.1 However, the definition shall not to be understood to limit the scope of such power to the
exclusion of the regulation of legal education in the Philippines. The reckoning point of the power to
admit into the practice of law does not start at the moment of administration over the applications to
take the bar examinations, but the regulation of the schools offering legal education as a post graduate
course.

Section 6, Rule 138 provides that:

No applicant for admission to the bar examination shall be admitted


unless he presents a certificate that he has satisfied the Secretary of Education that,
before he began the study of law, he had pursued and satisfactorily completed
in an authorized and recognized university or college, requiring for admission
thereto the completion of a four-year high school course, the course of study
prescribed therein for a bachelor's degree in arts or sciences with any of the
following subjects as major or field of concentration: political science, logic,
english, spanish, history and economics. (Emphasis supplied)

Section 5, par. 2, of the same rule further provides that:

No applicant shall be admitted to the bar examinations unless he has


satisfactorily completed the following courses in a law school or university duly
recognized by the government: civil law, commercial law, remedial law,
criminal law, public and private international law, political law, labor and

1
Ernesto Pineda, Legal Ethics, (Quezon City, Central Book Supply Inc., 2009), 17
social legislation, medical jurisprudence, taxation and legal ethics." (Emphasis
supplied).

To argue that the power to regulate the admission to the legal profession excludes the
regulation of legal education is illogical since it is a preparatory process to the application for the
admission itself, as provided for by the rules. It can be necessarily implied from the expressed powers
of the Supreme Court the supervision and regulation law schools and universities for it to ensure that
the academic qualifications laid by the Rules are met by the aspirants. It can be inferred that such
regulatory power is under the ambit of judicial sphere since the Rules provide for mandatory courses
to be taken by the candidates. The aforesaid rule made the universities design their curricula to fit this
requirement. Moreover, it is the Supreme Court that has the best standing to overlook the performance
of law schools because the products of these institutions will later on be fellow brothers and sisters in
the profession. It is an implicit duty of the Supreme Court to see to it that the forthcoming members
of the bar are well educated by the recognized institutions.

While it is true that the Rules of Court does not provide an express provision that it is the
Supreme Court that has regulatory powers of the legal education in the Philippines, such insufficiency
or gap does not operate to divest its implied powers or to permit another body to promulgate rules for
its performance.

Section 1, Article 1 of the 1987 Constitution provides that The legislative power shall be
vested in the Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a Senate and a House of
Representatives, except to the extent reserved to the people by the provision on initiative and
referendum. Legislative power is essentially the authority under the Constitution to make laws and
subsequently to alter, amend and repeal them.2 Congress can enact any law as long as they are not
contrary to the Constitution. 3

Under the doctrine of separation of powers, the officers commended with certain powers can
only exercise such powers that are expressly given and such other powers as are necessarily implied
from the given powers. In the exercise of each power, each is supreme in its own sphere. Accordingly,
each department is not permitted to encroach upon the powers confided to the others. If one department
goes beyond the limits set by the Constitution, its acts are null and void.4

On December 23, 1993, Republic Act No. 7662 was approved. This act seeks to reform the
legal education5 and created the Legal Education Board.6 It declared that it is the policy of the state to
uplift the standards of legal education in order to prepare law students for advocacy, counselling,
problem-solving, and decision-making, to infuse in them the ethics of the legal profession; to impress

2
Govt of the Phils. vs Springer, 50 Phil 259, 1927
3
De Leon and De Leon Jr., Philippine Constitutional Law: Principles and Cases (Quezon City, Rex Printing Company,
Inc., 2012), 4
4
De Leon and De Leon Jr, 10
5
RA No. 7662, Section 1. Title. - This Act shall be known as the "Legal Education Reform Act of 1993."
6
RA No. 7662, Section 4. Legal Education Board; Creation and Composition. - To carry out the purpose of this Act,
there is hereby created the Legal Education Board, hereinafter referred to as the Board, attached solely for budgetary
purposes and administrative support to the Department of Education, Culture and Sports. xxx
on them the importance, nobility and dignity of the legal profession as an equal and indispensable
partner of the Bench in the administration of justice and to develop social competence.Towards this
end, the State shall undertake appropriate reforms in the legal education system, require proper
selection of law students, maintain quality among law schools, and require legal apprenticeship and
continuing legal education.7

Section 3 of RA No. 7226 provides for General and Specific Objective of Legal Education:

(a) Legal education in the Philippines is geared to attain the following objectives:

(1) to prepare students for the practice of law;

(2) to increase awareness among members of the legal profession of the needs of
the poor, deprived and oppressed sectors of society;

(3) to train persons for leadership;

(4) to contribute towards the promotion and advancement of justice and the
improvement of its administration, the legal system and legal institutions in the
light of the historical and contemporary development of law in the Philippines and
in other countries.

(b) Legal education shall aim to accomplish the following specific objectives:

(1) to impart among law students a broad knowledge of law and its various fields
and of legal institutions;

(2) to enhance their legal research abilities to enable them to analyze, articulate
and apply the law effectively, as well as to allow them to have a holistic approach
to legal problems and issues;

(3) to prepare law students for advocacy, counselling, problem-solving and


decision-making, and to develop their ability to deal with recognized legal
problems of the present and the future;

(4) to develop competence in any field of law as is necessary for gainful


employment or sufficient as a foundation for future training beyond the basic
professional degree, and to develop in them the desire and capacity for continuing
study and self-improvement;

(5) to inculcate in them the ethics and responsibilities of the legal profession; and

(6) to produce lawyers who conscientiously pursue the lofty goals of their
profession and to fully adhere to its ethical norms.

7
RA No. 7662, Section 2
Section 7 of the same law provides for the powers and functions of the Legal Education Board:

For the purpose of achieving the objectives of this Act, the Board shall have the
following powers and functions:

(a) to administer the legal education system in the country in a manner consistent
with the provisions of this Act;

(b) to supervise the law schools in the country, consistent with its powers and
functions as herein enumerated;

(c) to set the standards of accreditation for law schools taking into account, among
others, the size of enrollment, the qualifications of the members of the faculty, the
library and other facilities, without encroaching upon the academic freedom of
institutions of higher learning;

(d) to accredit law schools that meet the standards of accreditation;

(e) to prescribe minimum standards for law admission and minimum qualifications
and compensation of faculty members;

(f) to prescribe the basic curricula for the course of study aligned to the
requirements for admission to the Bar, law practice and social consciousness, and
such other courses of study as may be prescribed by the law schools and colleges
under the different levels of accreditation status;

(g) to establish a law practice internship as a requirement for taking the Bar which
a law student shall undergo with any duly accredited private or public law office
or firm or legal assistance group anytime during the law course for a specific
period that the Board may decide, but not to exceed a total of twelve (12) months.
For this purpose, the Board shall prescribe the necessary guidelines for such
accreditation and the specifications of such internship which shall include the
actual work of a new member of the Bar.

(h) to adopt a system of continuing legal education. For this purpose, the Board
may provide for the mandatory attendance of practicing lawyers in such courses
and for such duration as the Board may deem necessary; and

(i) to perform such other functions and prescribe such rules and regulations
necessary for the attainment of the policies and objectives of this Act.

It can be gleaned in the foregoing provisions of RA No. 7662 that there exist constitutional
infirmities.

Under the declaration of policies in Section 2, the State "shall undertake appropriate reforms
in the legal education system, require the proper selection of law students, maintain quality among
law schools and require apprenticeship and continuing legal education. The declaration of policies
expressly provides that the Legal Education Board created by Congress through RA No. 7662, has the
power to exercise supervision over legal education in the Philippines. Moreover, Section 7 provides
for the functions of the Legal Education Board namely (i.) prescribing minimum standards of law
admission and (ii.) adopting a system of continuing legal education and, for that purpose, the Board
may provide for the mandatory attendance of practicing lawyers in such courses and for such
duration as the Board may deem necessary. The Supreme Court has the power to regulate legal
education, as it is necessarily implied from its express power to administer the admission to the
practice of law. The Rules of Court took effect on 1964 and it can be concluded that the supervision
over the legal education is long before established as a judicial function. The Legal Education Board
was created only in 1993 by virtue of RA No. 7662 and it effectively encroached the constitutionally
vested power to the Supreme Court. Regarding the continuing legal education, which embraces the
education of already members of the legal profession, Section 5, paragraph 5, Article 8 of the 1987
Constitution expressly vests power to the Supreme Court to regulate such. The act of the Congress of
passing RA No. 7662, thus creating of the Legal Education Board, violated the doctrine of separation
of powers as it encroached the power of the Supreme Court to promulgate rules concerning the
admission to the practice of law and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

Section 3 provides to increase awareness among members of the legal profession of the needs
of the poor, deprived and oppressed sectors of the society. The Constitution provides that the Supreme
Court shall have the power to promulgate rules on legal assistance to the underprivileged. At this point,
RA No. 7662 again violated the doctrine of separation of powers. Likewise, such motivation is
erroneous because RA No. 7662 primarily seeks to reform legal education to be provided to would be
applicants to the admission to the practice of law and not to those who are already members of the bar.

On September 4, 2001, almost eight years after RA No. 7662 was approved into law, the
Supreme Court en banc released a resolution regarding the Final Draft of the Proposed Amendments
to R.A. 7662 (Legal Education Reform Act of 1993).8 The explanatory note of the aforementioned
Bar Matter pointed out the possible constitutional issues enclosed in RA 7226 and the proposed
amendments on certain provisions to bend the probable infirmities. The issue in this development is
whether the resolution operates as a ratification, on the part of the Supreme Court, of RA No. 7662 to
make it a valid one. To reiterate, legislative power is vested by the Constitution on the Congress and
such power includes the power to alter, amend or repeal a law. The Supreme Court cannot make a
law valid by means of a Bar Matter because it was not vested the power to legislate. The resolution
would not activate as a shield of RA no. 7662 from issues of regarding its constitutionality. The
resolution itself admitted that certain provisions encroaches the powers of the Supreme Court on
promulgating rules concerning the admission to the practice of law, the integrated bar and legal
assistance to under privileged. An excerpt of the resolution provides:

Thus, under the declaration of policies in Section 2 of Republic Act No. 7662, the
State "shall undertake appropriate reforms in the legal education system, require

8
B.M. No. 979-B., RE: LEGAL EDUCATION, September 4, 2001
the proper selection of law students, maintain quality among law schools and
require apprenticeship and continuing legal education. The concept of continuing
legal education encompasses education not only of law students but also of
members of the legal profession. Its inclusion in the declaration of policies implies
that the Legal Education Board shall have jurisdiction over the education of
persons who have finished the law course and are already licensed to practice law.
Viewed in the light of Section 5, paragraph 5 of Article VIII of the Constitution
that vests the Supreme Court with powers over the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, said portion of Section 2 of Republic Act No. 7662 risks a declaration
of constitutional infirmity.

In the same vein Section 3 provides as one of the objectives of legal education
increasing "awareness among members of the legal profession of the needs of the
poor, deprived and oppressed sectors of the society." Such objective should not
find a place in the law that primarily aims to upgrade the standard of schools of
law as they perform the task of educating aspiring lawyers. Section 5, paragraph 5
of Article VIII of the Constitution also provides that the Supreme Court shall have
the power to promulgate rules on "legal assistance to the underprivileged" and
hence, implementation of Republic Act No. 7662 might give rise to infringement
of a constitutionally mandated power.

Apparently in consonance with said expressed, albeit offensive, policy and


objective of Republic Act No. 7662, Section 7 thereof includes the following as
functions of the Legal Education Board: (a) prescribing minimum standards of law
admission [paragraph e] and (b) adopting "a system of continuing legal education"
and, for that purpose, "the Board may provide for the mandatory attendance of
practicing lawyers in such courses and for such duration as the Board may deem
necessary" [paragraph h]. Again, these functions encroach upon the Supreme
Court's powers under Section 5, paragraph 5 of Article VIII of the Constitution.
Aside from its power over the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Supreme Court
is constitutionally mandated to promulgate rules concerning admission to the
practice of law.

Despite the efforts of the Supreme Court en banc to salvage RA No. 7662 by virtue of a
proposed amendment, the legislature did not amend the law. Assuming arguendo that RA No. 7662 is
amended in the similar fashion as the proposed amendment by the Supreme Court en banc, RA No.
7622 shall still be declared unconstitutional. The very act of the legislature of enacting a law infringing
the powers of the Supreme Court to promulgate rules concerning admission to the practice of law, the
integrated bar and legal assistance to the under privileged is violative of the Constitution creating a
body to fill in the shoes of the Supreme Court to take over the regulation of long-established judicial
functions.