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> Cruz v Mina, 522 SCRA 387 (2007)


Ferdinand A. Cruz filed before the MeTC a formal Entry of Appearance, as private prosecutor, where his
father, Mariano Cruz, is the complaining witness.

The petitioner, describing himself as a third year law student, justifies his appearance as private
prosecutor on the bases of Section 34 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court and the ruling of the Court En Banc
in Cantimbuhan v. Judge Cruz, Jr. that a non-lawyer may appear before the inferior courts as an agent or
friend of a party litigant. The petitioner furthermore avers that his appearance was with the prior
conformity of the public prosecutor and a written authority of Mariano Cruz appointing him to be his
agent in the prosecution of the said criminal case.

However, in an Order dated February 1, 2002, the MeTC denied permission for petitioner to appear as
private prosecutor on the ground that Circular No. 19 governing limited law student practice in
conjunction with Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court (Law Student Practice Rule) should take precedence
over the ruling of the Court laid down in Cantimbuhan; and set the case for continuation of trial.


whether the petitioner, a law student, may appear before an inferior court as an agent or friend of a party


The rule, however, is different if the law student appears before an inferior court, where the issues and
procedure are relatively simple. In inferior courts, a law student may appear in his personal capacity
without the supervision of a lawyer. Section 34, Rule 138 provides:

Sec. 34. By whom litigation is conducted. — In the court of a justice of the peace, a party may conduct his
litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with the aid
of an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an attorney,
and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly authorized member of the bar.

Thus, a law student may appear before an inferior court as an agent or friend of a party without the
supervision of a member of the bar. (Emphasis supplied)

Cantimbuhan v. Hon Cruz, 211 Phil. 373 (1983)

FACTS: On April 6, 1979, petitioner Romulo Cantimbuhan filed separate criminal complaints against
Patrolmen Danilo San Antonio and Rodolfo Diaz for less serious physical injuries, respectively, and were
docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 58549 and 58550 in the then Municipal Court of Parañaque, Metro
Manila. Petitioners Nelson B. Malana and Robert V. Lucila, in 1979, were senior law students of the U.P.
College of Law where, as part of the curriculum of the university they were required to render legal
assistance to the needy clients in the Office of the Legal Aid. Thus, in August 1979, petitioners Malana and
Lucila filed their separate appearances, as friends of complainant-petitioner Cantimbuhan. Herein
respondent Fiscal Leodegario C, Quilatan opposed the appearances of said petitioners, and respondent
judge, in an Order dated August 16, 1979, sustained the respondent fiscal and disallowed the appearances
of petitioners Malana and Lucila, as private prosecutors in said criminal cases.
ISSUE: Whether or not Malana and Lucila can represent their friend Cantimbuhan despite being senior
law students

HELD: Yes. A non-member of the Philippine Bar - a party to an action is authorized to appear in court and
conduct his own case; and, in the inferior courts, the litigant may be aided by a friend or agent or by an
attorney. However, in the Courts of First Instance, now Regional Trial Courts, he can be aided only by an
attorney. On the other hand, it is the submission of the respondents that pursuant to Sections 4 and 15,
Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, it is the fiscal who is empowered to determine who shall be the private
prosecutor as was done by respondent fiscal when he objected to the appearances of petitioners Malana
and Lucila. The permission of the fiscal is not necessary for one to enter his appearance as private
prosecutor. In the first place, the law does not impose this condition. What the fiscal can do, if he wants
to handle the case personally is to disallow the private prosecutor's participation, whether he be a lawyer
or not, in the trial of the case. On the other hand, if the fiscal desires the active participation of the private
prosecutor, he can just manifest to the court that the private prosecutor, with its approval, will conduct
the prosecution of the case under his supervision and control Further, We may add that if a non-lawyer
can appear as defense counsel or as friend of the accused in a case before the municipal trial court, with
more reason should he be allowed to appear as private prosecutor under the supervision and control of
the trial fiscal.

> In PAFLU v Binalagbagan Isabela Sugar Company, G.R. No. L-23959, 29 November 1971



Cipriano Cid & Associates, counsel of Entila and Tenazas filed a notice of attorney's lien equivalent to 30%
of the total backwages.

i. Entila and Tenazas filed manifestation indicating their non-objection to an

award of attorney's fees for 25% of their backwages

ii. Quentin Muning filed a "Petition for the Award of Services Rendered"
equivalent to 20% of the backwages.

1. Opposed by Cipriano Cid & Associates the ground that he is not a lawyer.

a. Court of Industrial Relations awarded 25% of the backwages as compensation for professional services
rendered in the case, apportioned as follows:

i. Cipriano 10%

ii. Quintin Muning 10%

iii. Atanacio Pacis 5%

iii. CANON 34: condemns an agreement providing for the division of attorney's
fees, whereby a non-lawyer union president is allowed to share in said fees with lawyers
1. Sec 5(b) of RA 875 that —No justification for a ruling, that the person representing the party-litigant
in the Court of Industrial Relations, even if he is not a lawyer, is entitled to attorney's fees

a. Duty and obligation of the Court or Hearing Officer to examine and cross examine witnesses on behalf
of the parties and to assist in the orderly presentation of evidence.

b. Representation should be exclusively entrusted to duly qualified members of the bar.

The permission for a non-member does not entitle the representative to compensation for such

Sec 24, Rule 138 Compensation of attorney's agreement as to fees:

i. An attorney shall be entitled to have and recover from his client no more
than a reasonable compensation for his services.

a. Petition to take the Bar Exam in 1960 after failing in the 1959 Bar Examination.

b. His uncle, TAPEL, opposed the petition alleging that his nephew is not a person of good moral character
for having misrepresented, sometime in 1950, when he was 16 years old, that he was eligible for 3rd year
high school by utilizing the school records of his cousin and name-sake, Juan M. Publico.

ii. PUBLICO has not completed Grade 4

iii. Tapel instituted an administrative case against his nephew for falsification of
school records or credentials.

PUBLICO PASSED THE BAR, took the lawyer's oath, and signed the Roll of Attorneys.

Legal Officer-Investigator, Ricardo Paras, Jr., investigated and reported:

September 1961, Dulcisimo Tapel dropped the complaint on the ground that his witnesses had turned

i. Motion denied, his witnesses had already testified.

Recommended PUBLICO’s name to be stricken off the roll of attorneys.

i. Respondent falsified his school records

ii. Thereby violating the provisions of Sections 5 and 6, Rule 127 of the Rules
of Court, which require completion by a bar examinee or candidate of the prescribed courses in
elementary, high, pre-law and law school, prior to his admission to the practice of law.

11 years later, PUBLICO filed a Petition for Reinstatement alleging that he had never received, for had he
been informed, nor did he have any knowledge of the Resolution of the Court ordering the Bar Division
to strike his name from the Roll of Attorneys.

He was advised to inquire into the outcome of the disbarment case against him.

He resigned from all his positions in public and private offices, and transferred to Manila.
Prayed that Court allow reinstatement taking into consideration his exemplary conduct from the time he
became a lawyer, his services to the community the numerous awards, resolutions and/'or
commendations he received,

i. Court denied the Petition.

ii. Petitioner moved for reconsideration was denied by the Court for lack of

5th plea avers that his enrollment in Third Year High School in Manila was through the initiative of his
uncle, Dulcisimo B. Tapel who accompanied him to school and enrolled him in a grade level above his
qualifications in spite of his demonstrations

i. Misrepresentation committed was precipitated by his uncle; that being

merely 16 year old, he could not be expected to act with discernment as he was still under the influence
of his uncle, who later on caused his disbarment

ii. No opposition has been filed to any of the petitions.


May a non-lawyer recover attorney's fees for legal services rendered?

The award of 10% to Quintin Muning who is not a lawyer according to the order, is sought to be voided in
the present petition.

WON a union may appeal an award of attorney's fees which are deductible from the backpay of some of
its members. YES.

It was PAFLU that moved for an extension of time to file the present petition for review; union members
Entila and Tenazas did not ask for extension but they were included as petitioners in the present petition.
Their inclusion in the petition as co-petitioners was belated.



Lawyer-client relationship is only possible if one is a lawyer. Since respondent Muning is not one, he
cannot establish an attorney-client relationship with Enrique Entila and Victorino Tenezas or with PAFLU,
and he cannot, therefore, recover attorney's fees.

Public policy demands that legal work in representation of parties litigant should be entrusted only to
those possessing tested qualifications, for the ethics of the profession and for the protection of courts,
clients and the public.
The reasons are that the ethics of the legal profession should not be violated:

Acting as an attorney with authority constitutes contempt of court, which is punishable by fine or
imprisonment or both,

Law will not assist a person to reap the fruits or benefit of an act or an act done in violation of law

If were to be allowed to non-lawyers, it would leave the public in hopeless confusion as to whom to consult
in case of necessity and also leave the bar in a chaotic condition, aside from the fact that non-lawyers are
not amenable to disciplinary measures.

In response to UNION may appeal an award of attorney's fees which are deductible from the backpay of
some of its members:

YES because such union or labor organization is permitted to institute an action in the industrial court on
behalf of its members

If an award is disadvantageous to its members, the union may prosecute an appeal as an aggrieved party,
under Sec 6, RA 875:

i. Sec. 6. Unfair Labor Practice cases — Appeals. — Any person aggrieved by

any order of the Court may appeal to the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

Usually, individual unionist is not in a position to bear the financial burden of litigations