Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 2010 > December 2010 Decisions > [A.M. No. 09-5-2-SC : December 14, 2010] IN THE MATTER OF THE BREWING CONTROVERSIES IN THE ELECTION IN THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, [A.C. NO. 8292] ATTYS. MARCIAL M. MAGSINO, MANUEL M. MARAMBA AND NASSER MAROHOMSALIC, COMPLAINANTS, VS. ATTYS. ROGELIO A. VINLUAN, ABELARDO C. ESTRADA, BONIFACIO T. BARANDON, JR., EVERGISTO S. ESCALON AND RAYMUND JORGE A. MERCADO, RESPONDENTS. :




EN BANC

[A.M. No. 09-5-2-SC : December 14, 2010]

IN THE MATTER OF THE BREWING CONTROVERSIES IN THE ELECTION IN THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES,

[A.C. NO. 8292]

ATTYS. MARCIAL M. MAGSINO, MANUEL M. MARAMBA AND NASSER MAROHOMSALIC, COMPLAINANTS, VS. ATTYS. ROGELIO A. VINLUAN, ABELARDO C. ESTRADA, BONIFACIO T. BARANDON, JR., EVERGISTO S. ESCALON AND RAYMUND JORGE A. MERCADO, RESPONDENTS.

R E S O L U T I O N


CORONA, C.J.:

This resolves the above matter involving the leadership controversy at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the administrative case that was filed against some of the high-ranking officers of the IBP on account thereof.

I. Antecedents

The Court in an En Banc Resolution dated June 2, 2009 created a Special (Investigating) Committee[1] to look into the "brewing controversies in the IBP elections, specifically in the elections of Vice-President for the Greater Manila Region and Executive Vice-President of the IBP itself xxx and any other election controversy involving other chapters of the IBP, if any", that includes as well the election of the Governors for Western Mindanao and Western Visayas.

Consequently, the Special Committee called the IBP officers involved to a preliminary conference on June 10, 2009. With respect thereto, Atty. Rogelio A. Vinluan then submitted a Preliminary Conference Brief on the same day. During the conference it was determined that the investigation would focus on the following issues or controversies:

1. What is the correct interpretation of Section 31, Article V of the IBP By-Laws which provides:

"SEC. 31. Membership. - The membership (of Delegates) shall consist of all the Chapter Presidents and, in the case of Chapters entitled to more than one Delegate each, the Vice-Presidents of the Chapters and such additional Delegates as the Chapters are entitled to. Unless the Vice-President is already a Delegate, he shall be an alternate Delegate. Additional Delegates and alternates shall in proper cases be elected by the Board of Officers of the Chapter. Members of the Board of Governors who are not Delegates shall be members ex officio of the House, without the right to vote."


2. Who was validly elected Governor for the Greater Manila Region?

3. Who was validly elected Governor for Western Visayas Region?

4. Who was validly elected Governor for Western Mindanao Region?

5. Who was validly elected IBP Executive Vice President for the next term?

6. What is the liability, if any, of respondent Atty. Rogelio A. Vinluan under the administrative complaint for "grave professional misconduct, violation of attorney's oath, and acts inimical to the IBP" filed against him by Attys. Marcial Magsino, Manuel Maramba and Nasser Marohomsalic?

Meanwhile, a Supplemental Complaint dated June 11, 2009 was received from Attys. Magsino, Maramba and Marohomsalic regarding the earlier complaint that they filed last May 21, 2009 against Atty. Vinluan.

As such, then IBP President Feliciano M. Bautista and then Executive Vice President (EVP) Vinluan agreed to submit their respective position papers on the above issues and controversies. Also, Atty. Vinluan was required to file his answer to the administrative complaint against him.

A Position Paper dated June 15, 2009 was then received from Atty. Vinluan. Attys. Elpidio G. Soriano, III and Erwin M. Fortunato also filed their Position Papers both dated June 15, 2009. It appears that an earlier Position Paper also dated June 15, 2009 was submitted by Atty. Benjamin B. Lanto.

For their part, Attys. Bautista, Maramba and Magsino filed their Position Paper dated June 16, 2009. Incidentally, in a Manifestation likewise dated June 16, 2009 Attys. Bautista, Maramba and Marcial M. Magsino submitted the same paper but already bearing the signature of Atty. Bautista.

Atty. Nasser A. Marohomsalic submitted his Position Paper dated June 17, 2009. The Special Committee, in the course of its investigation, further received a letter dated June 22, 2009 from Atty. Alex L. Macalawi, President of the IBP Lanao del Sur Chapter.

As to the administrative case filed against him, Atty. Vinluan, as respondent, filed his Comment dated June 15, 2009. In turn, Attys. Magsino, Maramba and Marohomsalic, as complainants, submitted their Reply dated June 23, 2009.

The Special Committee then submitted a Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009 the dispositive portion of which read as follows:

A. That to avoid further controversy regarding its proper interpretation and implementation, Sec. 31, Article V, of the By-Laws should be amended as follows (suggested amendments are in bold print):

"SEC. 31. Membership. - The membership of the House of Delegates shall consist of all the Chapter Presidents and in the case of Chapters entitled to mo(r)e than on(e) Delegate each, the Vice President of the Chapters and such additional Delegates as the Chapters are entitled to. Unless the Vice President is already (a) delegate, he shall be an alternate Delegate. Additional Delegates and their respective alternates shall be elected from, and by, the Board of Officers of the Chapter. If the Delegate chosen is incapacitated, or disqualified, or resigns, or refuses to serve, and there are enough members of the Board to be elected as Delegates, then the Board of Officers shall elect the additional delegates and alternates from the general membership of the Chapter, and his corresponding alternate shall take his place."

B. That to avoid any ambiguity as to how the President shall preside and vote in meetings of the House of Delegates, paragraph (g), Sec. 33, Article V of the By-Laws should be amended as follows:

"(g) In all meetings and deliberations of the House, whether in annual or special convention, the President shall preside, or the Executive Vice President, if the President is absent or incapacitated, but neither of them shall vote except to break a tie."

C. Similarly, Sec. 42, Article VI of the By-Laws, on meetings of the Board of Governors, should be amended to read as follows:

"Sec. 42. Meetings. - The Board shall meet regularly once a month, on such date and such time and place as it shall designate. Special meetings may be called by the President, and shall be called by him upon the written request of five (5) members of the Board. The President shall not vote except to break a tie in the voting. When for any reason, the President cannot preside on account of his absence, incapacity, or refusal to call a meeting, the Executive Vice President shall preside, there being a quorum to transact business, but he may not vote except to break a tie.

D. That Sec. 43, Article VI of the By-Laws, on the procedure for approving a resolution by the Board of Governors without a meeting, should be amended by adding the following exception thereto so that the procedure may not be abused in connection with any election in the IBP:

"This provision shall not apply when the Board shall hold an election or hear and decide an election protest."


E. That the provision for the strict implementation of the rotation rule among the Chapters in the Regions for the election of the Governor for the regions, (as ordered by this Honorable Court in Bar Matter No. 586, May 14, 1991) should be incorporated in Sec. 39, Article VI of the By-Laws, as follows:

"Sec. 39. Nomination and election of the Governors. - At least one (1) month before the national convention the delegates from each region shall elect the Governor for their region, who shall be chosen by rotation which is mandatory and shall be strictly implemented among the Chapters in the region. When a Chapter waives its turn in the rotation order, its place shall redound to the next Chapter in the line. Nevertheless, the former may reclaim its right to the Governorship at any time before the rotation is completed; otherwise, it will have to wait for its turn in the next round, in the same place that it had in the round completed.

F. That in view of the fact that the IBP no longer elects its President, because the Executive Vice President automatically succeeds the President at the end of his term, Sec. 47, Article VII of the By-Laws should be amended by deleting the provision for the election of the President. Moreover, for the strict implementation of the rotation rule, the Committee recommends that there should be a sanction for its violation, thus:

"Sec. 47. National Officers. - The Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall have a President, an Executive Vice President, and nine (9) regional Governors. The Executive Vice President shall be elected on a strict rotation basis by the Board of Governors from among themselves, by the vote of at least five (5) Governors. The Governors shall be ex officio Vice President for their respective regions. There shall also be a Secretary and Treasurer of the Board of Governors.

"The violation of the rotation rule in any election shall be penalized by annulment of the election and disqualification of the offender from election or appointment to any office in the IBP."

G. That Atty. Manuel M. Maramba should be declared the duly elected Governor of the Greater Manila Region for the 2009-2011 term.

H. That Atty. Erwin Fortunato of the Romblon Chapter should be declared the duly elected Governor of the Western Visayas Region for the 2009-2011 term.

I. That a special election should be held in the Western Mindanao Region, within fifteen (15) days from notice, to elect the Governor of that region for the 2009-2011 term. In accordance with the rotation rule, only the six (6) Chapters in the region that have not yet been elected to the Board of Governors, namely: Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, Za(m)boanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Maguindanao-Cotabato City, shall participate in the election.

J. That, thereafter, a special election should also be held by the Board of Governors to elect the Executive Vice President for the 2009-2011 term with strict observance of the rotation rule. Inasmuch as for the past nine (9) terms, i.e., since the 1991-1993 term, the nominees of the Western Visayas and Eastern Mindanao Regions have not yet been elected Executive Vice President of the IBP, the special election shall choose only between the nominees of these two (2) regions who shall become the Executive Vice President for the 2009-2011 term, in accordance with the strict rotation rule.

K. That the high-handed and divisive tactics of Atty. Rogelio A. Vinluan and his group of Governors, Abelardo Estrada, Bonifacio Barandon, Jr., Evergisto Escalon, and Raymund Mercado, which disrupted the peaceful and orderly flow of business in the IBP, caused chaos in the National Office, bitter disagreements, and ill-feelings, and almost disintegrated the Integrated Bar, constituted grave professional misconduct which should be appropriately sanctioned to discourage its repetition in the future.

II. Findings of the Special Committee

In its Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009, the Special Committee disclosed when it was discussing the Board of Officers of each chapter that:

The government of a Chapter is vested in its Board of Officers composed of nine (9) officers, namely: the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and five (5) Directors who shall be elected by the members of the Chapter at the biennial meeting on the last Saturday of February, and shall hold office for a term of two (2) years from the first day of April following their election and until their successors shall have been duly chosen and qualified. For the 2009-2011 term, the election of Chapter officers was held on February 28, 2009.

In 1983 up to 1995, the Quezon City Chapter elected the usual nine (9) officers to its Board of Officers and they were all delegates to the House of Delegates. Beginning with the 1997-1999 term, when it added a Public Relations Officer (P.R.O.) and Auditor to its Board of Officers, the number of delegates allotted to the Chapter was also increased to eleven (11) like the membership in its Board of Officers, pursuant to a reapportionment of delegates by the Board of Governors under Sec. 30, Art. V of the By-Laws.

Up to the 2007-2009 term, all the officers of the QC Chapter were also the Chapter's delegates to the House of Delegates. Atty. Victoria Loanzon who has been an officer of the Chapter in various capacities since 2003, like her fellow officers in the Board, automatically became a delegate since 2003 up to this time.

For the 2009-2011 term, the Board of Officers of the IBP-QC Chapter that assumed office on April 1, 2009, is composed of six (6) officers and (5) directors, namely:

President - - - - - - - - - - Tranquil Salvador III
Vice President - - - - - - Jonas Cabochan
Secretary - - - - - - - - - - Christian Fernandez
Treasurer - - - - - - - - - - Victoria Loanzon
Auditor - - - - - - - - - - - Ginger Anne Castillo
P.R.O. - - - - - - - - - - - - Ernesto Tabujara III
Director - - - - - - - - - - - Annalou Nachura
Director - - - - - - - - - - - Melody Sampaga
Director - - - - - - - - - - - Francois Rivera
Director - - - - - - - - - - - Joseph Cerezo
Director - - - - - - - - - - - Marita Iris Laqui

It is important to be an officer of one's Chapter and a delegate to the House of Delegates, because a delegate gets to elect the Governor for the Region (which must rotate among the Chapters in the region). The Governor of the Region becomes a member of the Board of Governors, and gets to elect, or be elected, as the next IBP Executive Vice President who automatically becomes President for the next succeeding term (which must also rotate among the Regions).[2]

The Special Committee then pointed out that with respect to the IBP Board of Governors this consists of "nine (9) Governors from the nine (9) Regions. One (1) Governor for each Region shall be elected by the members of the House of Delegates from that region only. The Governors, the President and the Executive Vice-President shall hold office for a term of two (2) years from July 1 immediately following their election, up to June 30 of their second year in office and until their successors shall have been duly chosen and qualified." It was further added by the Committee that:

At least one (1) month before the national convention, the delegates from each Region shall elect the Governor for their region. The IBP By-Laws provide that "starting in 1993-1995, the principle on rotation shall be strictly implemented so that all prior elections for Governor in the region shall be reckoned with or considered in determining who should be Governor to be selected from the different chapters to represent the region in the Board of Governors. Hence, the governorship of the region shall rotate among the chapters in the region.

The Governors-elect shall, by a vote of at least five (5), choose an Executive Vice-President, x x x  either from among themselves or from other members of the Integrated Bar. The Executive Vice-President shall automatically become President for the next succeeding term. The Presidency shall rotate among the nine (9) Regions.[3]
According to the Committee, the "rotation of the position of Governor of a region among the Chapters was ordered by the Supreme Court in its Resolution dated May 14, 1991 in Bar Matter No. 586 (Clarification Re: Bar Matter No. 491, Atty. Romulo T. Capulong petitioner)". With respect thereto, it was revealed that:

Pursuant to the principle of rotation, the governorship of a region shall rotate once in as many terms as the number of chapters there are in the region, to give every chapter a chance to represent the region in the Board of Governors. Thus, in a region composed of 5 chapters, each chapter is entitled to the governorship once in every 5 terms, or once every ten (10) years, since a term is two (2) years.

The record of the National IBP Secretariat shows that during the past five (5) terms, from 1999 up to 2009, the GMR (Greater Manila Region) governorship was occupied by the five (5) chapters of the region as follows:

1999-2001 ----- Jose P. Icaonapo ------------ Manila III
2001-2003 ----- Santos V. Catubay, Jr. ---- QuezonCity
2003-2005 ----- Rosario Setias-Reyes ------ Manila II
2005-2007 ----- Alicia A. Risos-Vidal ------ Manila I
2007-2009 ----- Marcial M. Magsino ------- Manila IV

In the next round, which starts with the 2009-2011 term, the same order of rotation should be followed by the five (5) chapters, i.e., Manila III shall begin the round, to be followed by Quezon City for 2011-2013 term, Manila for the 2013-2015 term, Manila I for the 2015-2017 term, and Manila IV for the 2017-2019 term.

In the Western Visayas Region which is composed of ten (10) chapters, each chapter is entitled to represent the governorship of the region once every ten (10) terms. The first chapter to occupy the governorship, must wait for the nine (9) other chapters to serve their respective terms, before it may have its turn again as Governor of the region.

The same rule applies to the Western Mindanao Region which is composed of twelve (12) chapters.

On April 25, 2009, the election of Governors for the nine (9) IBP regions proceeded as scheduled, presided over by their respective outgoing Governor.[4]

It was then cited by the Special Committee that "Sec. 47, Art. VII of the By-Laws, as amended by Bar Matter 491, Oct. 6, 1989, provides that the Executive Vice President shall be chosen by the Board of Governors from among the nine (9) regional governors. The Executive Vice President shall automatically become President for the next succeeding term. The Presidency shall rotate among the nine Regions." Further, the Committee averred that:

The list of national presidents furnished the Special Committee by the IBP National Secretariat, shows that the governors of the following regions were President of the IBP during the past nine (9) terms (1991-2009):

Numeriano Tanopo, Jr. (Pangasinan) --- Central Luzon --- 1991-1993
Mervin G. Encanto (Quezon City) ------ Manila ------------ 1993-1995
Raul R. Angangco (Makati) -------------- Southern Luzon - 1995-1997
Jose Aguila Grapilon (Biliran) ----------- Eastern Visayas - 1997-1999
Arthur D. Lim (Zambasulta) ------------- Western Mindanao-1999-2001
Teofilo S. Pilando, Jr. (Kalinga-Apayao)-Northern Luzon - 2001-2003
Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz (Camarines Sur) -Bicolandia -------- 2003-2005
Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz (Camarines Sur) -Bicolandia ----2005-Aug 2006
Jose Vicente B. Salazar (Albay) ---------- Bicolandia --- Aug. 2006-2007
Feliciano M. Bautista (Pangasinan) ------ Central Luzon ---- 2007-2009

Only the governors of the Western Visayas and Eastern Mindanao regions have not yet had their turn as Executive Vice President cum next IBP President, while Central Luzon and Bicolandia have had two (2) terms already.

Therefore, either the governor of the Western Visayas Region, or the governor of the Eastern Mindanao Region should be elected as Executive Vice-President for the 2009-2011 term. The one who is not chosen for this term, shall have his turn in the next (2011-2013) term. Afterwards, another rotation shall commence with Greater Manila in the lead, followed by Southern Luzon, Eastern Visayas, Western Mindanao, Northern Luzon, Bicolandia, Central Luzon, and either Western Visayas or Eastern Mindanao at the end of the round.[5]

The Committee then disclosed that the controversies involved herein and should be resolved are the following: (I) the dispute concerning additional delegates of the QC Chapter to the House of Delegates; (II) the election of the Governor for the Greater Manila Region (GMR); (III) the election of Governor for the Western Visayas Region; (IV) the election of Governor for the Western Mindanao Region; (V) the resolution of the election protests; (VI) the election of the IBP Executive Vice President for the 2009-2011 term; and, (VII) the administrative complaint against EVP Rogelio Vinluan.

In addressing the above controversies, the Committee arrived at the following findings and conclusions:

I. The silence of Sec. 31, Art. V of the IBP By-Laws on who may be elected as additional delegates and alternates by the remaining members of the Board of Officers of the Chapter when the Chapter is entitled to more than two (2) delegates to the House of Delegates, is the root cause of the conflicting resolutions of the Bautista and Vinluan factions on the proper interpretation of the aforementioned provision of the By-Laws.

According to the Resolution No. XVIII-2009 dated April 17, 2009 of the Bautista Group, "the additional delegate/s shall be elected by the Board of Officers of the Chapter only from among the remaining duly elected officers and members of the Board, in consideration of their mandate from the general membership.

According to the Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special-23 April 2009) of the Vinluan Group, "the election of the additional delegate/s for the Chapters entitled to more than two (2) delegates shall be elected by the Board of Officers of the Chapter from among the general membership who are in good standing to include the remaining duly elected officers and members of the Board."

The Committee finds the qualification introduced by Resolution No. XVIII-2009 - "that the additional delegate/s and alternates must be elected from among the remaining officers of the Chapter" - to be consistent with the precedent set by Section 31 itself in appointing members of the Board of Officers, namely, (a) the president of the Chapter as the delegate, and the vice president as the alternate, or second, delegate to the House of Delegates, when the Chapter is entitled to two (2) delegates. There is a manifest intention in Sec. 31, Art. V of the By-Laws to reserve membership in the House of Delegates (which is the deliberative body of the IBP) for the elected officers of the Chapter since they have already received the mandate of the general membership of the Chapter.

For the past four (4) terms (2003-2011), Atty. Loanzon has been an officer and delegate of the QC Chapter to the House of Delegates, until the Vinluan Group introduced its own interpretation of the aforementioned provision of the By-Laws and elected non-officers of the Chapter as delegates to the House of Delegates in lieu of herself and Atty. Laqui.

We find the Vinluan Group's interpretation of Sec. 31, Art. V, of the By-Laws in Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special - 23 April 2009) to be in error and devoid of rational and historical bases.

II. Attys. Victoria Loanzon and Marite Laqui were properly recognized as delegates of the QC Chapter by the Presiding Officer, GMR Governor Marcial Magsino, during the election on April 25, 2009 of the Governor for the Greater Manila Region, in accordance with the guideline in Resolution No. XVIII-2009.

The argument of the QC-Chapter President Tranquil Salvador, that Attys. Loanzon and Laqui were not delegates because they were not elected by the QC-Board of Officers, is not well taken.

Sec. 31, Art. V of the By-Laws provides that:

"Additional Delegates and alternates shall in proper cases be elected by the Board of Officers of the Chapter."

The QC Chapter is not a "proper case" for the election of additional delegates by the Board of Officers because the Chapter is entitled to the same number of delegates (11) to the House, as the number of officers in its Board of Officers. Its officers are ipso facto the Chapter's delegates to the House. There is no need for the Board of Officers to conduct an election.

A "proper case" for the election of additional delegates and alternates by the Board of Officers occurs when the number of additional delegates and alternates for the Chapter is less than the members of the Board of Officers, for, then, the Board of Officers must select, and elect, who among themselves should be the additional delegate/s and alternates of the Chapter to the House of Delegates. That has never been the case of the QC Chapter.

III. Atty. Manuel Maramba (Manila III Chapter) was validly elected as GMR Governor for the 2009-2011 term, not only because he outvoted his rival, Atty. Elpidio Soriano (Quezon City Chapter), but also because under the principle of rotation of the governorship (Bar Matter No. 586, May 14, 1991) since the five (5) chapters of the Greater Manila Region have all represented the region in the Board of Governors during the past five (5) terms, in the following order:

1999-2001 -------- Manila III -------- Jose P. Icaonapo
2001-2003 -------- Quezon City ----- Santos V. Catubay, Jr.
2003-2005 -------- Manila II ---------- Rosario Setias-Reyes
2005-2007 -------- Manila I ----------- Alicia A. Risos-Vidal
2007-2009 -------- Manila IV --------- Marcial M. Magsino

it is now the turn of the representative of the Manila III Chapter to sit again in the Board of Governors for the next round which begins in the 2009-2011 term. The Manila III representative, Atty. Manuel M. Maramba, has every right to the position not only because he won the election with 13 votes in his favor against 12 for Atty. Soriano, but also because his election follows the rotation rule decreed by the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, the election of Atty. Soriano (QC Chapter) in the special election that was presided over by EVP Vinluan on May 4, 2009, was a nullity on three (3) grounds: First, because Atty. Soriano already lost the election on April 25, 2009. Second, the special election conducted by the Vinluan Group on May 4, 2(00)8 was illegal because it was not called nor presided over by the regional Governor. Third, Atty. Soriano is disqualified to run for GMR Governor for the 2009-2011 term because his "election" as such would violate the rotation rule which the Supreme Court requires to be "strictly implemented". Under the rotation rule, the GMR governorship for the 2009-2011 term belongs to the Manila III Chapter, not to the QC Chapter, whose turn will come two (2) years later, in 2011-2013 yet.

IV. Atty. Erwin Fortunato of the Romblon Chapter was duly elected as Governor for the Western Visayas Region for the 2009-2011 term, not only because he obtained the highest number of votes among the three (3) candidates for the position, but also because under the rotation rule, it is now the turn of the Romblon Chapter to represent the Western Visayas Region in the IBP Board of Governors.

The contention of the protestants, Attys. Cornelio Aldon (Antique Chapter) and Benjamin Ortega (Negros Occidental Chapter) that the rotation rule in Sections 37 and 39 of the IBP By-Laws is not mandatory but only directory, betrays their ignorance of the resolution of the Supreme Court in Bar Matter No. 586 dated May 16, 1991, ruling that "the principle on rotation shall be strictly implemented so that all prior elections for governor in the region shall be reckoned with or considered in determining who should be the governor to be selected from the different chapters to represent the region in the Board of Governors."

V. Neither Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic nor Atty. Benjamin Lanto is qualified to be elected Governor of Western Mindanao Region. Sec. 39, Art. VI of the IBP By-Laws provides that: "Starting in 1993-1995, the principle of rotation in the position of governor among the different chapters to represent the region in the Board of Governors shall be strictly implemented.

Under Sec. 37, Art. VI of the By-Laws, the Governor of a region shall be elected by the members of the House of Delegates from that region only. Since the delegate of a Chapter to the House of Delegates is the President of the Chapter, not the Board of Officers, the nominee of the Chapter President, not the nominee of the Board of Officers, is the valid nominee for Governor of the Region.

However, under the rotation rule, it is not the Lanao del Sur Chapter that should represent the Western Mindanao Region in the Board of Governors for the 2009-2011 term. The record of the IBP National Secretariat shows that, starting in 1993-1995 when the strict implementation of the rotation rule began, the 12-chapter Western Mindanao Region has been represented in the Board of Governors by only six (6) Chapters, as follows:

1993-1995 ----- Lanao del Sur ------ Dimnatang T. Saro
1995-1997 ----- Cotabato ------------ George C. Jabido
1997-1999 ----- ZAMBASULTA -- Arthur D. Lim
1999-2001 ----- ZAMBASULTA -- Paulino R. Ersando
2001-2003 ----- North Cotabato --- Little Sarah A. Agdeppa
2003-2005 ----- Sultan Kudarat ---- Carlos L. Valdez, Jr.
2005-2007 ----- SOCSARGEN ----- Rogelio C. Garcia
2007-2009 ----- Sultan Kudarat ---- Carlos L. Valdez, Jr.

Therefore, pursuant to the strict rotation, the Lanao del Sur Chapter must wait for the six (6) other Chapters in the region (Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Maguindanao-Cotabato City) to have their turn in the Board of Governors before Lanao del Sur may again represent the Western Mindanao Region in the Board of Governors.

Since both Attys. Nasser Marohomsalic and B(e)njamin Lanto belong to the Lanao del Sur Chapter, both of them are disqualified to be elected as Governor of the Western Mindanao Region for the 2009-2011 term. With respect to Atty. Benjamin Lanto, his nomination by the Board of Officers was not only invalid, but also lost credibility after three (3), out of the thirteen (13) signatories to his nomination, resigned from the Board of Officers, and six (6) others signed "authorizations" in favor of Atty. Macalawi authorizing him to nominate and elect the Governor for the Western Mindanao Region. That left only four (4) votes in favor of his nomination for Governor of the Western Mindanao Region.

VI. The elections for the IBP Executive Vice President separately held on May 9, 2009 by the Bautista and Vinluan Groups were null and void for lack of quorum. The presence of five (5) Governors-elect is needed to constitute a quorum of the 9-member Board of Governors-elect who shall elect the Executive Vice President.

As previously stated, there were two (2) simultaneous elections for the Executive Vice President for the 2009-2011 term - one was called and presided over by EVP Vinluan in the Board Room of the IBP National Office, while the other election for the same position was presided over by outgoing IBP Pres. Bautista in another room of the same building, at the same time, 9:00 A.M., on the same date, May 9, 2009.

Those present at the meeting of the Vinluan Group were:

1. Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano
2. Atty. Benjamin B. Lanto
3. Atty. Amador Tolentino, Jr., Governor-elect for Southern Luzon
4. Atty. Jose V. Cabrera, Governor-elect for Bicolandia
5. Atty. Erwin Fortunato, Governor-elect for Western Visayas
6. Atty. Roland B. Inting, Governor-elect for Eastern Visayas

Since both Attys. Soriano and Lanto were not validly elected as Governors respectively of the Greater Manila Region and the Western Mindanao Region, they were disqualified to sit in the incoming Board of Governors and participate in the election of the succeeding Executive Vice President. The remaining four (4) Governors-elect - Governors Tolentino, Cabrera, Fortunato, and Inting, did not constitute a quorum of the Board of Governors to conduct a valid election of the IBP Executive Vice President. The election of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano as Executive Vice President by the Vinluan Group was invalid. Aside from lack of a quorum to conduct the elections, EVP Vinluan wrongly presided over the election. Thus, Atty. Soriano was not duly elected as Governor of the Greater Manila Region, hence, he is disqualified to sit in the Board of Governors.

Neither did the meeting of the Bautista Group fare any better, for those present were:

1. Atty. Milagros Fernan-Cayosa, Governor-elect for Northern Luzon
2.  Atty. Ferdinand Y. Miclat, Governor-elect for Central Luzon
3.  Atty. Manuel M. Maramba, Governor-elect for Greater Manila
4.  Atty. Roan Libarios, Governor-elect for Eastern Mindanao
5.  Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic

Atty. Marohomsalic's election as Governor for Western Mindanao was invalid for violating the rotation rule. The four (4) remaining governors-elect (Attys. Cayosa, Miclat, Maramba and Libarios) like those in the Vinluan Group, did not constitute a quorum to conduct the election of the IBP Executive Vice President for the current term. The election of Governor Roan Libarios as Executive Vice President by this group was therefore null and void.

Besides that flaw in his election, since the Eastern Visayas Region, represented by Governor Jose Aguila Grapilon of Biliran, had succeeded to the presidency in 1997-1999, its next turn will come after the eight (8) other regions shall have also served in the presidency. That will be after sixteen years, or, in 2015-2017 yet.

VII. The administrative complaint against EVP Rogelio A. Vinluan and his Group of Governors (Abelardo Estrada of Northern Luzon, Bonifacio Barandon of Bicolandia, Evergisto Escalon of Eastern Visayas, and Raymund Mercado of Western Visayas) is meritorious, for their conduct was fractious and high-handed, causing disunity and acrimonious disagreements in the IBP.

1. The request of the EVP Vinluan's Group for a special meeting of the Board of Governors on April 23, 2009 - two (2) days before the scheduled election of the regional Governors on April 25, 2009 - when IBP Pres. Bautista was in Zamboanga on IBP business, and the other Governors had just returned to their respective regions to prepare for the April 25 election of the regional governors, was unreasonable.

The special meeting on April 23, 2009 which he himself presided over, violated Sec. 42, Art. VI of the By-Laws which provides that it is the President who shall call a special meeting, and it is also the President who shall preside over the meeting, not Atty. Vinluan (Sec. 50, Art. VII, By-Laws).

The proper recourse for the Vinluan Group, in view of President Bautista's refusal to call a special meeting as requested by them, is found in Section 43, Art. VI of the By-Laws which provides that-

"The Board may take action, without a meeting, by resolution signed by at least five Governors provided that every member of the Board shall have been previously apprised of the contents of the resolution."


But the Vinluan Group ignored that procedure. They held a special meeting on April 23, 2009, where they adopted Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special-23 April 2009) striking out as ultra vires the earlier Resolution No. XVIII-2009 passed in the regular monthly meeting of the Board of Governors on April 17, 2009. That meeting was illegal, hence, the resolution adopted therein was null and void.

2. The second special meeting held by the Vinluan Group on April 30, 2009 wherein they approved Resolution XVIII-2009 (Special-A-30 April 2009) resolving the election protests in the GMR, Western Visayas and Western Mindanao governors' elections, with complete disregard for the protestees' right to due process, was likewise illegal, hence, the Group's resolution of the election protests was likewise null and void, and the new election of the GMR Governor which they set on May 4, 2009 was invalid.

3. The "Board Resolution" which was adopted and faxed to the Governors-elect on May 8, 2009, by the Vinluan Group, setting the election of the IBP Executive Vice President on May 9, 2009, at 9:00 A.M.; declaring Pres. Bautista "unfit to preside" over the election and "designating EVP Vinluan to preside over the election" in lieu of Pres. Bautista, was uncalled and unwarranted, and caused disunity and disorder in the IBP. It was in effect a coup to unseat Pres. Bautista before the end of his term, and prematurely install EVP Vinluan as president.

The actuations of Atty. Vinluan's Group in defying the lawful authority of IBP President Bautista, due to Atty. Vinluan's overweening desire to propel his fraternity brother, Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano, to the next presidency of the IBP, smacked of politicking, which is strongly condemned and strictly prohibited by the IBP By-Laws and the Bar Integration Rule.[6]

Again, it must be noted that while the pending administrative case against Atty. Vinluan and his co-respondents has not yet been resolved, Atty. Vinluan was not allowed to assume his position as President of the IBP for 2009-2011. Instead, the Supreme Court designated retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Santiago Kapunan as Officer-in-Charge of the IBP.

III. Rulings of the Court

The Court completely agrees with the recommendations of the Special Committee with respect to, among others, the following:

  1. Declaring Atty. Manuel M. Maramba (Manila III Chapter) as the duly elected Governor of the Greater Manila Region for the 2009-2011 term[7]; and,

  2. Declaring Atty. Erwin M. Fortunato (Romblon Chapter) as the duly elected Governor of the Western Visayas Region for the 2009-2011 term[8].

As far as the Court is concerned, there is no dispute that the election of Atty. Maramba was in order. During the election held last April 25, 2009 which was duly presided over by then outgoing Greater Manila Region Governor Marcial Magsino, it was Atty. Maramba who garnered the highest number of votes among the delegates compared to Atty. Soriano, 13 votes to 12 votes. However, instead of accepting the said defeat graciously, Atty. Soriano then filed an election protest on April 27, 2009 claiming that the said election was void because there were non-delegates, particularly Attys. Loanzon and Laqui of the Quezon City Chapter, who were allowed to vote. Consequently, Atty. Soriano got a favorable ruling from the group of Atty. Vinluan, as EVP, and former Governors Estrada (Northern Luzon), Barandon, Jr. (Bicolandia), Escalon (Eastern Visayas) and Mercado (Western Visayas) per Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special A-30 April 2009). This then resulted in the anomalous election of Atty. Soriano as Governor of the Greater Manila Region last May 4, 2009.

In addressing the said controversy, and as already discussed, the Committee concluded that "the Vinluan Group's interpretation of Sec. 31, Art. V, of the By-Laws in Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special-23 April 2009) to be in error and devoid of rational and historical bases." It was then pointed out that "(t)he argument of the QC-Chapter President Tranquil Salvador, (as well as by Atty. Soriano), that Attys. Loanzon and Laqui were not delegates because they were not elected by the QC-Board of Officers, is not well taken." Likewise, the Committee considered the situation then involving the Quezon City Chapter as "not a `proper case' for the election of additional delegates by the Board of Officers because the Chapter is entitled to the same number of delegates (11) to the House (of Delegates), as the number of officers in its Board of Officers. Its officers are ipso facto the Chapter's delegates to the House. There is no need for the Board of Officers to conduct an election."

Thus, and as rightly determined by the Committee to which the Court subscribes to, "the election of Atty. Soriano (QC Chapter) in the special election that was presided over by EVP Vinluan on May 4, 2009, was a nullity on three (3) grounds: First, because Atty. Soriano already lost the election on April 25, 2009. Second, the special election conducted by the Vinluan Group on May 4, 2(009) was illegal because it was not called nor presided by the regional Governor (Atty. Magsino). Third, Atty. Soriano is disqualified to run for GMR Governor for the 2009-2011 term because his "election" as such would violate the rotation rule which the Supreme Court requires to be "strictly implemented"." This being so, since he was not a duly elected Governor of the Greater Manila Region, then Atty. Soriano cannot be voted as well as IBP Executive Vice President for 2009-2011.

With respect to the case of Atty. Fortunato, his election as Governor for the Western Visayas Region was upheld since "he obtained the highest number of votes among the three (3) candidates for the position" and "also because under the rotation rule, it is now the turn of the Romblon Chapter to represent the Western Visayas Region in the IBP Board of Governors." On account thereof, the Court is convinced that the contentions of protestees Attys. Cornelio Aldon (Antique Chapter) and Benjamin Ortega (Negros Occidental Chapter) cannot prosper. After all, the Court already upheld per its Resolution in Bar Matter No. 586 dated May 16, 1991 that the "rotation rule" under Sections 37 and 39 of the IBP By-Laws "shall be strictly implemented so that all prior elections for governor in the region shall be reckoned with or considered in determining who should be the governor to be selected from the different chapters to represent the region in the Board of Governors." More so, when the concerned chapter invoked its right thereto as in the case of Atty. Fortunato who came from the Romblon Chapter which was next in the rotation.

To the Court, the election of Atty. Fortunato as Governor last April 25, 2009 is well-settled. He did not only come from the chapter which is entitled to be elected for the said position, but also got the highest number of votes among the candidates that included protestees Attys. Aldon and Ortega. As the election was presided over by then outgoing Governor Raymund Mercado, the Court finds no cogent reason as well to reverse the findings of the Committee insofar as upholding the election of Atty. Fortunato is concerned. Suffice it to say, the Committee was correct in not finding any anomaly with respect thereto.

On the nullification of the election of Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic as Governor for the Western Mindanao Region, the Court does not agree with the recommendation of the Committee to hold a special election in the said region[9]. Instead, the Court rules to uphold the election of Atty. Marohomsalic last April 25, 2009 which was presided over by then outgoing Governor Carlos Valdez, Jr.

It must be pointed out that Atty. Marohomsalic was duly nominated by Atty. Alex Macalawi, President of the Lanao del Sur Chapter, and the official delegate of the said chapter to the House of Delegates for the Western Mindanao Region during the elections held last April 25, 2009. On the other hand, Atty. Benjamin Lanto was supposedly nominated by the Board of Officers of the Lanao del Sur Chapter, except Atty. Macalawi, in Resolution No. 002-2009 dated February 28, 2009. However, it appears that, as discovered by the Committee, "three (3) signatories of the resolution" apparently "resigned as members of the Board of Officers" since they are prosecutors who are "ineligible for election or appointment to any position in the Integrated Bar or any Chapter thereof", while "(s)ix (6) other signatories of the resolution" allegedly "recalled their signatures" and they, instead, "signed an `authorization' authorizing the Chapter President, Atty. Macalawi, "to select and vote" "for the Regional Governor for Western Mindanao"." Thus, "(t)he withdrawal of nine (9) signatures from the Resolution No. 002, left only four (4) votes in support of Lanto's nomination - a puny minority of the 14-member Board of Officers of the Lanao del Sur Chapter." [10]

The attempt of Atty. Vinluan and his group of Governors to nullify the election of Atty. Marohomsalic through Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special A-30 April 2009) was clearly irregular and unjustified. Based on the April 25, 2009 election results, Atty. Marohomsalic won over his rival Atty. Lanto, 6 votes to 5 votes. Consequently, he was duly proclaimed as the elected Governor of the Western Mindanao Region. On April 27, 2009, Atty.  Lanto filed an election protest, "questioning the validity of Atty. Marohomsalic's nomination by Atty. Macalawi, President of the IBP Lanao del Sur Chapter, and claiming that his  (Lanto's) nomination  by the Board of Officers of the Lanao del Sur Chapter was the valid nomination."

Immediately, on April 30, 2009, the group of Atty. Vinluan issued Resolution No. XVIII-2009 proclaiming Atty. Lanto as the duly elected Governor without affording Atty. Marohomsalic his right to due process.  More importantly, instead of calling for another election like what it did for the Greater Manila Region, the group of Atty. Vinluan proceeded to instantly declare Atty. Lanto as having been duly elected "on the ground that the nomination of the protestee, Nasser Marohomsalic, was contrary to the will of the Lanao del Sur Chapter expressed through Board Resolution No. 00(2)-2009 of the Board of Officers (of the Lanao del Sur Chapter)."[11]

As borne out by the records, Atty. Marohomsalic was duly nominated by Atty. Alex Macalawi, President of the Lanao del Sur Chapter, and the official delegate of the said chapter to the House of Delegates for the Western Mindanao Region during the elections. On the other hand, Atty. Lanto was supposedly nominated by the Board of Officers of the same Chapter in a resolution dated February 28, 2009, which was not signed and approved by Atty. Macalawi. However,  and as already pointed out by the Committee, the "withdrawal of nine (9) signatures from the Resolution No. 002, left only four (4) votes in support of Lanto's nomination - a puny minority of the 14-member Board of Officers of the Lanao del Sur Chapter."[12]

Thus, the Committee, citing Sec. 37, Art. VI of the By-Laws, clearly repudiated  and overturned Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special A-  30 April 2009)  of Atty. Vinluan and his group of Governors. In its Report, it declared that the "nominee of the Chapter President, not the nominee of the Board of Officers, is the valid nominee for Governor of the Region,"[13] thereby sustaining the position of Atty. Marohomsalic and, in effect,  the validity of his nomination by Atty. Macalawi.

Despite the said findings, Atty. Marohomsalic was stripped of his electoral mandate and victory when the Committee, invoking the strict application of the "rotation rule," proceeded to altogether nullify the result of the elections duly conducted on April 25, 2009.  According to the Committee, neither Lanto nor Marohomsalic is qualified to be elected governor because it was not the turn of Lanao del Sur chapter to represent the Western Mindanao Region in the Board of Governors for the 2009-2011 term. As declared in the Report --

However, under the rotation rule, it is not the Lanao del Sur Chapter that should represent the Western Mindanao Region in the Board of Governors for the 2009-2011 term. The record of the IBP National Secretariat shows that, starting in 1993-1995 when the strict implementation of the rotation rule began, the 12 -chapter Western Mindanao Region has been represented in the Board of Governors only six (6) Chapters, as follows:

1993-1995---Lanao del Sur-----Dimnatang T. Saro
1995-1997---Cotatabato---------George C. Jabido
1997-1999---ZAMBASULTA--Arthur D. Lim
1999-2001---ZAMBASULTA---Paulino R. Ersando
2001-2003---North Cotabato---- Little Sarah A. Agdeppa
2003-2005---Sultan Kudarat-----Carlos L. Valdez, Jr.
2005-2007---SOCSARGEN-----Rogelio C. Garcia
2007-2009---Sultan Kudarat-----Carlos L. Valdez, Jr.

Therefore, pursuant to the strict rotation rule, the Lanao del Sur Chapter must wait for the six (6) other Chapters in the region (Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Maguindanao-Cotabato City) to have their turn in the Board of Governors before Lanao del Sur may again represent the Western Mindanao Region in the Board of Governors.

Since both Attys. Nasser Marohomsalic and Benjamin Lanto belong to the Lanao del Sur Chapter, both of them are disqualified to be elected as Governor of the Western Mindanao Region for the 2009-2011 term.

The ruling of the Committee insofar as it nullified the election of Atty. Marohomsalic as Governor of the Western Mindanao Region cannot be sustained for not being in full accord with facts and the rules. While the Committee may have correctly pointed out that under the rotation rule it was not yet the turn of IBP Lanao del Sur Chapter to represent the region in the Board of Governors for the 2009-2011 term, it does not necessarily follow that the result of the elections should be altogether nullified on that ground. Evidently, and as determined by the Committee itself, there are instances when the "rotation rule" was not followed insofar as the elections in 1999 and 2007 were concerned with respect to the Western Mindanao Region.

In the regular election of April 25, 2009, there is no dispute that the voting delegates of IBP Western Mindanao Region voted into office Atty. Marohomsalic of Lanao del Sur Chapter as Governor for the 2009-2011 term. During the said election, his only rival was Atty. Benjamin Lanto who also belongs to the same Lanao del Sur Chapter. A third candidate, Atty. Escobar from the Sarangani Chapter, was nominated but he declined the nomination.

While the Committee points out that six (6) chapters in the region, including Sarangani, are entitled to precedence over the Lanao del Sur chapter in the order of rotation, the fact remains that not one of them nominated or fielded a candidate from their respective ranks during the April 25, 2009 election.  Neither did any one of them challenge the nominations of the Lanao del Sur Chapter based on the order of rotation.

By not fielding a candidate for Governor and by declining the nomination raised in favor of its Chapter President (Atty. Escobar), the IBP Sarangani Chapter is deemed to have waived its turn in the rotation order. The same can be said of the remaining chapters. They too are deemed to have waived their turn in the rotation as they opted not to field or nominate a candidate from among their respective members. Neither did they invoke the rotation rule to challenge the nominations from the Lanao del Sur Chapter. On the contrary, they fully expressed their concurrence to the cited nominations, which may be interpreted as a waiver of their right to take their turn to represent the region in the Board of Governors for the 2009-2011 term.

It need not be stressed that, as cited by the Committee itself, there were instances when the Governor of the Western Mindanao Region came from the same chapter such as ZAMBASULTA (1997-1999 & 1999-2001) and Sultan Kudarat (2003-2005 & 2007-2009). Thus, Atty. Marohomsalic could  not  be faulted if the other chapters opted not to field or nominate their own candidates. Having been validly nominated and duly proclaimed as the duly elected Governor of Western Mindanao, Atty. Marohomsalic therefore deserves to assume his position during the remainder of the term.

It would have been a different story if another Chapter in the order of rotation fielded its own candidate or invoked the rotation rule to challenge Atty. Marohomsalic's nomination. But the record is bereft of any showing that his nomination and subsequent election was challenged on that basis. If there was any challenge at all, it merely referred to his nomination by Atty. Macalawi which the Committee itself has found to be in order. Thus, no compelling reason exists to disregard the electoral mandate and nullify the will of the voting delegates as expressed through the ballot.

The "rotation rule" is not absolute but subject to waiver as when the chapters in the order of rotation opted not to field or nominate their own candidates for Governor during the election regularly done for that purpose. If a validly nominated candidate obtains the highest number of votes in the election conducted, his electoral mandate deserves to be respected unless obtained through fraud as established by evidence. Such is not the case here.

Suffice it to say, the "rotation rule" should be applied in harmony with, and not in derogation of, the sovereign will of the electorate as expressed through the ballot. Thus, Atty. Marohomsalic cannot be divested and deprived of his electoral mandate and victory. The order of rotation is not a rigid and inflexible rule as to bar its relaxation in exceptional and compelling circumstances.

If only to stress, compared to the case of Atty. Fortunato whose Romblon Chapter invoked the "rotation rule," no chapter in the Western Mindanao Region which was next in the rotation invoked the said rule.

Now, in its Report, the Committee nullified the elections for the IBP EVP separately and simultaneously conducted by President Bautista and EVP Vinluan on May 9, 2009 and called for a special election[14] for the same. In the case of the election conducted by EVP Vinluan, the results were nullified for lack of authority to preside over the election and for lack quorum, citing the disqualification of Attys. Soriano and Lanto to sit in the incoming Board of Governors.  The finding deserves to be sustained.

In the same Report, the Committee also nullified the result of the election for the incoming EVP conducted by President Bautista.  While recognizing  President Bautista's authority to conduct the election, the Committee nonetheless  nullified the election results for lack of quorum, citing the ineligibility of Atty. Marohomsalic to sit in the incoming Board of Governors, thereby leaving only four (out of nine) Governors-elect in attendance which did not constitute a quorum.

With the election of Atty. Marohomsalic as Governor of Western Mindanao being deemed valid, then the defect of lack of quorum that supposedly tainted the election proceedings for EVP separately conducted by IBP President Bautista may have been cured, five (5) Governors being sufficient to constitute a quorum.

Be that as it may, the recommendation of the Committee to hold a special election for the EVP for the remaining 2009-2011 term deserves to be upheld  to heal the divisions in the IBP and promote unity by enabling all the nine (9) Governors-elect  to elect the EVP in a unified meeting called for that purpose. This will enable matters to start on a clean and correct slate, free from the politicking and the under handed tactics that have characterized the IBP elections for so long.

In the conduct of the unified election of the incoming EVP, the following findings and recommendations of the Committee shall be adopted:

THE ROTATION OF THE
PRESIDENCY AMONG THE REGIONS-

Sec. 47, Art. VII of the By-Laws, as amended by Bar Matter 491, Oct. 6, 1989, provides that the Executive Vice President shall be chosen by the Board of Governors from among the nine (9) regional governors. The Executive Vice President shall automatically become President for the next succeeding term. The Presidency shall rotate  among the nine Regions."

The list of national presidents furnished the Special Committee by the IBP National Secretariat, shows that the governors of the following regions were President of the IBP during the past nine  (9) terms (1991-2009):

Numeriano Tanopo, Jr. (Pangasinan)...Central Luzon...1991-1993
Mervin G. Encanto (Quezon City)... Greater Manila 1993-1995
Raul R. Anchangco (Makati)...Southern Luzon...1995-1997
Jose Aguila Grapilon (Biliran)... Eastewrn Visayas ... 1997-1999
Arthur D. Lim ( Zambasulta)...Western Mindanao...1999-2001
Teofilo S. Pilando, Jr. (Kalinga Apayao)...Northern Luzon...2001-2003
Jose Anselmo L. Cadiz (Camarines Sur)...Bicolandia...2005-Aug. 2006
Jose Vicente B. Salazar (Albay)...Bicolandia... Aug. 2006-2007
Feliciano M. Bautista (Pangasinan)...Central Luzon...2007-2009

Only the Governors of the Western Visayas and Eastern Mindanao regions have not yet had their turn as Executive Vice President cum next IBP President, while Central Luzon and Bicolandia have had two (2) terms already.

Therefore, either the governor of the Western Visayas Region, or the governor of the Eastern Mindanao Region should be elected as Executive Vice President for the 2009-2011 term.

Accordingly, a special election shall be held by the present nine-man IBP Board of Governors to elect the EVP for the remainder of the term of 2009-2011, which shall be presided over and conducted by IBP Officer-in-Charge Justice Santiago Kapunan (Ret.) within seven (7) days from notice.

Further, in its report, the Committee declared that "the high-handed and divisive tactics of Atty. Rogelio A. Vinluan and his group of  Governors, Abelardo Estrada, Bonifacio Barandon Jr., Evergisto Escalon, and Raymund Mercado, which disrupted the peaceful and orderly flow of business in the IBP, caused chaos in the National Office, bitter disagreements, and ill-feelings, and almost disintegrated the Integrated Bar, constituted grave professional misconduct which should be appropriately sanctioned to discourage its repetition in the future." [15]

The Committee, however, fell short of determining and recommending the appropriate penalty for the grave professional misconduct found to have been committed by Atty. Vinluan and his group of Governors. Still, with the above firm and unequivocal findings and declarations of the Committee against Atty. Vinluan and his group that included Attys. Estrada, Barandon, Jr., Escalon and Mercado as "unprofessional" members of the IBP Board of Governors (2007-2009 term) they certainly do not deserve to hold such esteemed positions.

It has long been held that, as provided for in Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility[16] that "(a) lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct." Added to this, Rule 7.03, Canon 7 requires that "(a) lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession." In the case at bar, such canons find application.

In addition, it was clear to the Committee, and the Court agrees, that "(t)he actuations of Atty. Vinluan's Group in defying the lawful authority of IBP President Bautista, due to Atty. Vinluan's overweening desire to propel his fraternity brother, Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano, to the next presidency of the IBP, smacked of politicking, which is strongly condemned and strictly prohibited by the IBP By-Laws and the Bar Integration Rule." Indeed, said actuations of Atty. Vinluan and his group of former IBP Governors Estrada, Barandon, Jr., Escalon and Mercado were grossly inimical to the interest of the IBP and were violative of their solemn oath as lawyers. After all, what they did served only to benefit the apparently selfish goals of defeated candidate Atty. Elpidio Soriano to be elected as IBP EVP and be the next IBP President for the 2011-2013 term by hook or by crook.

Bearing the above in mind, what Attys. Vinluan, Estrada, Barandon, Jr., Escalon and Mercado conspired to do was truly "high-handed and divisive" that must not pass unsanctioned. Otherwise, future leaders of the IBP, Governors at that, might be similarly inclined to do what they did, much to the prejudice of the IBP and its membership. Surely, this should be addressed without much delay so as to nip-in-the-bud such gross misconduct and unprofessionalism. They all deserve to suffer the same fate for betraying as well the trust bestowed on them for the high positions that they previously held.

The Resolution of the Court in the case of Re: 1989 Elections of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines[17] already declared that unethical practices of lawyers during IBP elections cannot but result in the stature of the IBP as an association of the practitioners of a noble and honored profession being diminished. As held therein, "(r)espect for law is gravely eroded when lawyers themselves, who are supposed to be minions of the law, engage in unlawful practices and cavalierly brush aside the very rules that the IBP formulated for their observance."[18] Indeed, the said strong and vigorous declaration of this Court on the 1989 IBP Election scandal is relevant here.

While Atty. Vinluan and his group deserve to be stripped of their positions in the IBP, this can no longer be done as their terms as Governors already expired, specially on the part of Attys. Estrada, Barandon, Jr., Escalon and Mercado. However, in the case of Atty. Vinluan, as former EVP of the IBP he would have automatically succeeded to the presidency for the term 2009-2011 but now should not be allowed to. After all, and considering the findings of the Committee, he has clearly manifested his unworthiness to hold the said post. On account thereof, Atty. Vinluan is thus declared unfit to assume the position of IBP President. To the Court, if Atty. Vinluan cannot be fit to become a Governor and EVP of the IBP then he is not entitled to succeed as its President for the 2009-2011 term.

Also, Atty. Vinluan and his group should no longer be allowed to run as national officers to prevent such similar irregularity from happening again.  Thus, in subsequent elections of the IBP, they are disqualified to run as candidates.

On the recommendation of the Committee to amend Sections 31[19], 33, par. (g) [20], 39[21], 42[22], and 43[23], Article VI and Section 47[24], Article VII of the IBP By-Laws, the Court finds the same in order. As such, and in order to immediately effect reforms in the IBP, particularly in the holding of its elections for national officers, the subject amendments are hereby adopted and approved.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court resolves that:

1. The elections of Attys. Manuel M. Maramba, Erwin M. Fortunato and Nasser A. Marohomsalic as Governors for the Greater Manila Region, Western Visayas Region and Western Mindanao Region, respectively, for the term 2009-2011 are UPHELD;

2. A special election to elect the IBP Executive Vice President for the 2009-2011 term is hereby ORDERED to be held under the supervision of this Court within seven (7) days from receipt of this Resolution with Attys. Maramba, Fortunato and Marohomsalic being allowed to represent and vote as duly-elected Governors of their respective regions;

3. Attys. Rogelio Vinluan, Abelardo Estrada, Bonifacio Barandon, Jr., Evergisto Escalon and Raymund Mercado are all found GUILTY of grave professional misconduct arising from their actuations in connection with the controversies in the elections in the IBP last April 25, 2009 and May 9, 2009 and are hereby disqualified to run as national officers of the IBP in any subsequent election. While their elections as Governors for the term 2007-2009 can no longer be annulled as this has already expired, Atty. Vinluan is declared unfit to hold the position of IBP Executive Vice President for the 2007-2009 term and therefore barred from succeeding as IBP President for the 2009-2011 term;

4. The proposed amendments to Sections 31, 33, par. (g), 39, 42, and 43, Article VI and Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws as contained in the Report and Recommendation of the Special Committee dated July 9, 2009 are hereby approved and adopted; and

5. The designation of retired SC Justice Santiago Kapunan as Officer-in-Charge of the IBP shall continue, unless earlier revoked by the Court, but not to extend beyond June 30, 2011.

SO ORDERED.

Leonardo-De Castro, Brion,** Bersamin, Abad, Villarama, Jr., Perez, and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
Carpio, J., join the dissenting opinion of J. Velasco.
Carpio Morales, Nachura, Peralta, Del Castillo, and Sereno, JJ., no part.
Velasco, Jr., J., on official leave but left dissenting opinion, see dissenting opinion.

Endnotes:


**  On sick leave but left concurring vote.

[1] Composed of Justice Carolina C. Gri├▒o-Aquino (Ret.), as Chairman, and Justices Bernardo P. Pardo (Ret.) and Romeo J. Callejo, Sr. (Ret.), as Members.

[2] Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009, pp. 4-5.

[3] Ibid, p. 6.

[4] Ibid, pp. 7-8.

[5] Ibid, pp. 8-9.

[6] Ibid, pp. 21-28.

[7] Letter G, Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009.

[8] Letter H, Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009.

[9] Letter (I), Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009.

[10] Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009, pp. 14-15.

[11] Ibid, p. 17.

[12]  Ibid, pp. 14-15.

[13] Ibid, p. 24.

[14] Letter J, Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009.

[15]  Letter K, Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009.

[16]  Promulgated on June 21, 1988.

[17] 178 SCRA 398.

[18]  Re: 1989 Elections of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, 178 SCRA 398, 418.

[19] Letter A, Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009.

[20] Letter B, Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009.

[21] Letter C, Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009.

[22] Letter C, Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009.

[23] Letter E, Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009.

[24] Letter F, Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009..





D I S S E N T I N G  O P I N I O N


VELASCO, JR. J.:




With due respect to the Chief Justice, I am constrained to register my dissent.

A.M. No. 09-5-2-SC originated from three (3) separate Protests filed regarding the elections for the Regional Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for the Greater Manila Region (hereafter, GMR), Western Visayas, and Western Mindanao held in April 2007 for a term of two (2) years starting  July 1, 2007.  Consolidated with A.M. No. 09-5-2-SC is A.C. No. 8292 filed by Attys. Marcial M. Magsino, Manuel M. Maramba and Nasser A. Marohomsalic against Attys. Rogelio A. Vinluan, Evergisto S. Escalon, Bonifacio T. Barandon, Jr., Abelardo C. Estrada, and Raymund Jorge A. Mercado for grave professional misconduct, violation of attorney's oath and acts inimical to the IBP.

The facts culled from the pleadings and evidence extant on record are as follows:

The GMR Election Protest
(Atty. Elpidio Soriano v. Atty. Manuel M. Maramba)

Atty. Victoria Loanzon, the incumbent Treasurer of the IBP-Quezon City Chapter (IBP-QC Chapter), filed an undated letter on April 15, 2009 with the office of the outgoing IBP National President, Atty. Feliciano Bautista, seeking an interpretation of Section 8 on the Chapter By-Laws of Article IV and Sec. 31, Article V of the IBP By-Laws in reference to the qualification of the delegates who would vote in the election for GMR Governor on April 25, 2009.[1] Said Sections read:

Section 8. Delegates. - The President shall concurrently be the Delegate of the Chapter to the House of Delegates. The Vice President shall be his alternate, unless the chapter is entitled to have more than one Delegate, in which case the Vice President shall also be a Delegate. Additional Delegates and alternates shall in proper cases be elected by the Board."

Section 31. Membership. - The membership of the House of Delegates shall consist of all the Chapter Presidents and in the case of Chapters entitled to more than one Delegate each, the Vice Presidents of the Chapters and such additional Delegates as the Chapters are entitled to. Unless the Vice President is already a Delegate, he shall be an alternate Delegate. Additional Delegates and alternates shall in proper cases be elected by the Board of Officers of the Chapter. Members of the Board of Governors who are not Delegates shall be members ex officio of the House, without the right to vote.

The Loanzon letter was taken up in the IBP Board of Governors (BOG) meeting held on April 17, 2009.  In attendance were five (5) IBP Governors, namely:

Gov. Marcial Magsino
Greater Manila (Sponsor)
Gov. Ramon Edison Batacan 
Eastern Mindanao (Affirmative vote)
Gov. Carlos Valdez, Jr. 
Western Mindanao (Affirmative vote)
Gov. Raymund Jorge Mercado
Western Visayas (Abstain/Affirmative)
Gov. Evergisto Escalon
Eastern Visayas (Negative vote)[2]


Upon motion of then Governor Marcial Magsino, the Board approved, by a vote of 4-1, Resolution No. XVIII-2009, which I quote:

Resolved as it is hereby resolved by this Board of Governors that in case of Chapters entitled to more than two delegates as provided under Section 8, Chapter By-Laws of Article IV, Section 29 and Article V, Section 31 of the By-Laws of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the additional delegate(s) shall be elected by the Board of Officers of the Chapter only from among the remaining duly elected officers and members of the Board, in consideration of their mandate from the general membership of the Chapter.[3]

On the belief that BOG Resolution No. XVIII-2009 imposed an additional qualification for the Delegates to be elected by the Board of Officers of  IBP Chapters that are entitled to more than two (2) delegates, the IBP-QC Chapter, through its Board of Officers, passed Resolution No. 09-005, dated April 20, 2009, urging the BOG to recall Resolution No. XVIII-2009.[4] Resolution No. 09-005 was received by the Office of the National President on April 21, 2009.[5]

On April 23, 2009, five (5) members of the BOG, namely: Gov. Rogelio A. Vinluan (Executive Vice President and Governor for Southern Luzon); Gov. Abelardo C. Estrada (Governor for Northern Luzon); Gov. Bonifacio T. Barandon, Jr. (Governor for Bicolandia); Gov. Evergisto S. Escalon (Governor for Eastern Visayas); and Gov. Raymund Jorge A. Mercado (Governor for Western Visayas), met at the National Office. They voted unanimously to recall and set aside Resolution No. XVIII-2009, through another resolution which reads:

Resolved, further, that the appropriate interpretation of the aforementioned provision of the By-Laws, consistent with the long established practice of the IBP, is that the election of the additional delegate(s) for Chapters entitled to more than two (2) delegates shall be elected by the Board of Officers of the Chapter from among the general membership who are in good standing to include the remaining duly elected officers and members of the Board.[6]

On the same day, the Board of Officers of the IBP-QC Chapter held a special meeting where the majority of its officers nominated Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III as candidate for the position of Governor for GMR. At the same time, the Board elected its Delegates for the election of the IBP Governor for GMR to be held on April 25, 2009. The following won as official, elected regular, and elected alternate delegates, of the Chapter pursuant to Resolution No. 09-007,[7] viz:
 
Official Delegates
Elected Alternate Delegates
   
1. Tranquil G. S. Salvador III
Ruel Ulysses E. De Guzman
2. Jonas L. Cabochan
Sherwin V. Reyes

Elected Regular Delegates
Elected Alternate Delegates

1. Christian R. Fernandez (Secretary)
Roland A. Tulay
2. Ginger Anne S. Castillo (Auditor)
Anthony Raymond M. Velicaria
3. Ernesto A. Tabujara III (P.R.O.)
Anna Celeste P. Bernad
4. Annalou S. Nachura (Director)
Maria Clarissa L. Pacis-Trinidad
5. Melody S. Sampaga (Director)
Rhea R. Julian
6. Joseph Cerezo (Director)
Cherrie B. Belmonte-Lim
7. Francois D. Rivera III (Director)
Gerely C. Rico
8. Renato M. Callanta (Past President)
Ramon C. Chingcuangco
9. George S. Briones (Past President)
Felix Jasper D.C. Tumaneng

In the same special meeting, IBP-QC Chapter Treasurer, Atty. Loanzon and Director Atty. Marita Iris Laqui, who were both present, were nominated for the position of chapter delegates.  However, they failed to get elected.

During the April 25, 2009 election of the IBP Governor of GMR, then incumbent GMR Governor Magsino, who was Presiding Officer of the GMR elections, noted the IBP-QC Chapter Resolution No. 09-007.[8] He also acknowledged the April 24, 2009 Memorandum issued by IBP President Atty. Bautista:

MEMORANDUM

TO  : EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT ROGELIO A. VINLUAN

GOVERNOR ABELARDO C. ESTRADA
GOVERNOR ERNESTO A. GONZALES, JR.
GOVERNOR MARCIAL M. MAGSINO
GOVERNOR BONIFACIO T. BARANDON, JR.
GOVERNOR EVERGISTO S. ESCALON
GOVERNOR RAYMUND JORGE M. MERCADO
GOVERNOR RAMON EDISON C. BATACAN
GOVERNOR CARLOS L. VALDEZ, JR.

RE  : ELECTION OF REGIONAL GOVERNORS, APRIL 25, 2009

FROM : NATIONAL PRESIDENT

DATE : APRIL 24, 2009

x---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

For purposes of the conduct of the election of the Regional Governors tomorrow, April 25, 2009, only the following resolution passed and approved at the regular meeting of the Board of Governors on April 17, 2009 will apply, to wit:

RESOLUTION NO. XVIII-2009-____

"Resolved as it is hereby resolved by this Board of Governors that in case of Chapters entitled to more than two delegates as provided under Section 8, Chapter By-Laws of Article IV, Section 29 and Article V, Section 31 of the By-Laws of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the additional delegate(s) shall be elected by the Board of Officers of the Chapter only from among the remaining duly elected officers and members of the Board, in consideration of their mandate from the general membership of the Chapter."

No other resolution shall be applicable.

For your strict compliance and guidance.

(Sgd.) FELICIANO M. BAUTISTA[9]

Pursuant to Bautista's Memorandum, Gov. Magsino declared Atty. Loanzon and Atty. Laqui as Delegates of the IBP-QC Chapter[10] entitled to vote in the election of the GMR Governor.

Atty. Tranquil Salvador III, the incumbent President of the IBP-QC Chapter, questioned the declaration of Magsino for the following reasons: (1) the April 23, 2009 Resolution issued by the BOG superseded the April 17, 2009 Resolution, alleging that the latter was in violation of the IBP By-Laws, particularly Section 8 on the Chapter By-Laws of Article IV and Section 31, Article V thereof; (2) the Presiding Officer, Gov. Magsino, wrote a letter dated April 20, 2009 addressed to Atty. Salvador, advising him to require the regular and alternate delegates to attend the election of the new IBP Governor for GMR, without any reference to the April 17, 2009 Resolution of the BOG; and (3) the Board of Officers of the IBP-QC Chapter has passed a Resolution electing their regular and alternate delegates pursuant to the IBP By-Laws and the April 23, 2009 Resolution of the BOG.[11]

Gov. Magsino overruled the challenge of Salvador and explained that the April 23, 2009 Resolution of the BOG is void, because: (1) the IBP National President was not present at the special meeting which resulted in the issuance of such resolution; (2) there was no quorum in the April 23, 2009 special meeting as only four (4) governors met and approved the resolution; and (3) the recall of the April 17, 2009 Resolution was not validly done, as the recall of a Resolution needs the 3/4 vote of the BOG.[12]

Atty. Salvador, however, countered that the IBP By-Laws should be controlling and that the IBP-QC Chapter merely complied with the IBP By-Laws when it elected its regular and alternate delegates, who should be the only delegates from IBP-QC Chapter allowed to vote. To resolve the issue, Atty. Salvador suggested that all the elected delegates of IBP-QC Chapter, as well as two (2) officers not elected as delegates (Loanzon and Laqui), be allowed to vote.  Thereafter, the four (4) votes in question can be set aside and opened only if these would be determinative of the results of the election. Gov. Magsino again disagreed with Atty. Salvador.[13]

Atty. Verena Kasilag-Villanueva of the Manila II Chapter posed the query if under both the April 17 and the April 23 BOG resolutions, the Delegates must be elected. Gov. Magsino, citing the April 17, 2009 Resolution of the BOG,[14] answered in the affirmative.

Finally, Gov. Magsino ruled that the April 23, 2009 IBP-QC Chapter Resolution, electing its delegates, is illegal because: (1) it did not comply with the BOG April 17, 2009 Resolution that the delegates must be elected from among the Board of Officers of the Chapter concerned; and (2) it disenfranchised two (2) members of the Board of Officers of the IBP-QC Chapter--Atty.  Loanzon and Atty. Laqui.[15] Atty. Salvador opposed the view that Attys. Loanzon and Laqui were disenfranchised as, in fact, they were nominated for the position of Delegates but unfortunately were not elected.  The procedure adopted by the IBP-QC was strictly in accordance with Section 8 on the Chapter By-Laws of Article IV and Section 31, Article V of the IBP By-Laws.[16]

After voiding Board Resolution No. 09-007 of the IBP-QC Chapter, Gov. Magsino ruled that only officers of IBP-QC Chapter may be Delegates, and, thus, Attys. Loanzon and Laqui can vote as Delegates of their Chapter.[17]

Thereafter, the elections were held. Atty. Soriano and Atty. Maramba were nominated for the position of IBP Governor for GMR.  After the casting of votes and counting of ballots, including those cast by Loanzon and Laqui (the alleged non-delegates), Atty. Maramba was declared winner by garnering a vote of 13 as against Atty. Soriano's 12.[18]

On April 27, 2009, Atty. Soriano filed his Protest[19] with the office of the IBP National President pursuant to Section 40, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws.

The Western Mindanao Region Election Protest
(Atty. Benjamin B. Lanto v. Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic)

Atty. Benjamin B. Lanto of the IBP-Lanao del Sur Chapter was a nominee of the Lanao Del Sur Chapter for the position of IBP Governor for Western Mindanao. On the other hand, Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic of the IBP-Lanao del Sur Chapter was nominated by Atty. Alex Macalawi, the President of the same chapter.[20]

During the April 25, 2009 meeting for the nomination and election of the candidates for the Regional Governor of Western Mindanao, Atty. Macabangkit Lanto, an officer of the IBP-Lanao del Sur Chapter, informed the delegates that the Board of Officers of his Chapter--through a resolution signed by all its officers except for Chapter President Atty. Macalawi--officially nominated Lanto for Regional Governor of Western Mindanao.[21]

Despite said resolution, Macalawi nominated Marohomsalic for Regional Governor of Western Mindanao. The nomination of Marohomsalic was recognized and accepted by the presiding officer, outgoing Gov. Carlos L. Valdez Jr.  Lanto and Marohomsalic each received five (5) votes after the votes were counted.[22]

On April 27, 2009, Lanto filed a Protest questioning Marohomsalic's nomination and the counting of votes in his favor and claiming that under Section 6, Rule 139-A of the Rules of Court, only one nominee shall come from any IBP chapter. He asserted that the Chapter's Board of Officers, not the Chapter President, by a majority vote shall determine the Chapter's official nominee for Governor of its region.[23]

The Western Visayas Region Election Protest
(Atty. Cornelio P. Aldon and Atty. Benjamin
Ortega v. Atty. Erwin Fortunato)

Atty. Erwin Fortunato of the IBP-Romblon Chapter was proclaimed the duly-elected Regional Governor for Western Visayas in the April 25, 2009 elections.[24]

In separate protests, Atty. Cornelio P. Aldon of IBP-Antique Chapter and Atty. Benjamin Ortega of IBP-Negros Occidental Chapter claimed they were nominated by their respective chapters for Governor of Western Visayas but were not allowed to be elected on account of the "Rotation Rule" under Sections 37 and 39 of the IBP By-Laws.[25]

Despite their disqualification, Ortega obtained three (3) votes, Aldon obtained one (1) vote; and Fortunato, the eventual winner, obtained five (5) votes, with one (1) delegate opting to abstain.[26]

Aldon and Ortega argued that the rotation rule is merely directory and not mandatory and claimed a failure of elections, as nominees from the other chapters were disqualified.[27]

Resolution of the Protests

On April 28, 2009, pending Soriano's Protest, Maramba took his oath as GMR Governor before Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Antonio Eugenio.[28]

On April 30, 2009, Soriano and his counsel, Atty. Salvador, and the respective counsels of Fortunato and Aldon appeared before the BOG for the hearing of their respective protests. Maramba and Marohomsalic did not appear or file any comment/opposition to the protests, despite due notice to them.[29]

On April 30, 2009, the BOG resolved the three (3) Protests, as follows:

Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special-A-30 April 2009)

RESOLVED, as it is hereby RESOLVED, that the petition filed by Atty. Cornelio P. Aldon be DENIED and the election of Atty. Erwin Fortunato be UPHELD on the ground that he is rightfully entitled to be elected Governor of Western Visayas pursuant to the rotation rule as set forth under Section 39 of the IBP By-Laws;

RESOLVED, FURTHER, that the protest of Atty. Benjamin Ortega, involving as it does identical issues and having been filed out of time, be likewise DISMISSED.

Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special-B-30 April 2009)

RESOLVED, as it is hereby RESOLVED, that the protest filed by Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III, be GRANTED for being meritorious and that the election of the IBP Greater Manila Region held on 25 April 2009 be declared as NULL and VOID.

RESOLVED, FURTHER, that a new election for the IBP Governor for the Greater Manila Region be held on Monday, May 4, 2009, at 6:00 P.M. at the IBP National Office, Ortigas Center, Pasig City and that the Presiding Officer thereof be directed to follow the Resolution of the Board of Governors issued on April 23, 2009 on who can be properly designated as delegates by the Board of Officers of the Chapters;

RESOLVED, FURTHER, that the Executive Vice President be directed to preside at the said election;

RESOLVED, FURTHER, that the protestant, Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III, the protestee, Atty. Manuel M. Maramba, and the different Chapter Presidents of the Greater Manila Region be notified immediately about this Resolution and the holding of a new election aforestated.

Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special-C-30 April 2009)

RESOLVED, as it is hereby RESOLVED, that the protest of Atty. Benjamin B. Lanto be GRANTED on the ground that the nomination of the protestee, Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic, was in contravention of the will of the Lanao Del Sur Chapter expressed thru Board Resolution No. 002, 2009.

RESOLVED, FURTHER, that the petitioner, Atty. Benjamin B. Lanto, be declared as the duly elected Governor of the Western Mindanao Region.[30]

The member-chapters of the GMR, namely Manila I, II, III, IV and Quezon City, were duly served copies of the above resolution by facsimile message and personal service.[31]

On May 4, 2009, the special election for the GMR Governor was held at the IBP National Office.  On the other hand, President Bautista, Gov. Magsino,  Atty. Maramba and others held a press conference in the morning of that same day questioning the special election and other actions taken by the BOG.[32]

During the special election, a total of fifteen (15), out of twenty-five (25) delegates from the five (5) GMR chapters (Manila I, Manila II, Manila III, Manila IV, and Quezon City), attended.[33]

Soriano was nominated by the IBP-QC Chapter, and was the sole nominee for the position of GMR Governor. After the casting of ballots and counting of votes, Soriano was declared the duly-elected GMR Governor, garnering a total of fifteen (15) votes.[34]

Election of the next IBP Executive Vice President (EVP)

After the special election for the GMR Governor, the BOG sent notices to IBP National President Bautista and both the incumbent and newly-elected members of the BOG regarding the election for the next IBP EVP on May 9, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. at the IBP Board Room. In the said election held on May 9, 2009, the following were present:

Incumbent members of the Board of Governors:

Rogelio A. Vinluan  EVP and Governor for Southern Luzon
Abelardo C. Estrada  Governor for Northern Luzon
Bonifacio T. Barandon, Jr.  Governor for Bicolandia
Evergisto S. Escalon  Governor for Eastern Visayas
Raymund Jorge A. Mercado  Governor for Western Visayas

Newly-elected members of the Board of Governors:

Elpidio G. Soriano III  Governor for GMR
Amador Z. Tolentino, Jr.  Governor for Southern Luzon
Jose V. Cabrera Governor for Bicolandia
Erwin M. Fortunato Governor for Western Visayas
Roland B. Inting  Governor for Eastern Visayas
Benjamin B. Lanto  Governor for Western Mindanao

GMR Governor Soriano was the sole nominee for the position of IBP EVP.  All the newly-elected members of the BOG in attendance unanimously voted for Soriano as the next IBP EVP and he was proclaimed as the new IBP EVP.[35]

On the other hand, National President Bautista presided over the meeting of the other group of Governors, consisting of the following:

Incumbent members of the Board of Governors:

Marcial M. Magsino
Governor for GMR
Ramon Edison Batacan
Governor for Eastern Mindanao
Carlos Valdez, Jr. 
Governor for Western Mindanao


Newly-elected members of the Board of Governors:

Manuel M. Maramba
Governor for GMR
Ma. Milagros N. Fernan-Cayosa
Governor for Northern Luzon
Ferdinand Y. Miclat
Governor for Central Luzon
Roan I. Libarios 
Governor for Eastern Mindanao
Nasser Marohomsalic 
Governor for Western Mindanao

In this meeting presided by Bautista, Atty. Roan Libarios was elected as the next IBP EVP.[36]

Thereafter, this Court received separate reports of Bautista and Vinluan regarding the election of the incoming IBP EVP.

Creation of the Special Committee

In its June 2, 2009 En Banc Resolution, this Court created a Special Committee to investigate the disputes relating to the elections for Governor of the GMR, Executive Vice-President of the IBP, and other IBP positions. Named to the Special Committee were Justice Carolina Gri├▒o-Aquino (retired) as Chairperson and Justices Bernardo P. Pardo and Romeo J. Callejo, Sr. as Members.

The Special Committee conducted hearings and the parties adduced their respective evidence.[37]

Thereafter, the Special Committee submitted its Report and Recommendation dated July 2, 2009 to the Court, the fallo of which reads:

A. That to avoid further controversy regarding its proper interpretation and implementation, Sec. 31, Article V, of the By-Laws should be amended as follows (suggested amendments are in bold print):

SEC. 31. Membership. - The membership of the House of Delegates shall consist of all the Chapter Presidents and in the case of Chapters entitled to more than one Delegate each, the Vice President of the Chapters and such additional Delegates as the Chapters are entitled to. Unless the Vice President is already a delegate, he shall be an alternate Delegate. Additional Delegates and their respective alternates shall be elected from, and by, the Board of Officers of the Chapter. If the Delegate chosen is incapacitated, or disqualified, or resigns, or refuses to serve, and there are enough members of the Board to be elected as Delegates, then the Board of Officers shall elect the additional delegates and alternates from the general membership of the Chapter, and his corresponding alternate shall take his place.

B. That to avoid any ambiguity as to how the President shall preside and vote in the meetings of the House of Delgates, paragraph (g), Sec. 33, Article V of the By-Laws should be amended as follows:

(g) In all meetings and deliberations of the House, whether in annual or special convention, the President shall preside, or the Executive Vice President, if the President is absent or incapacitated, but neither of them shall vote except to break a tie.

C. Similarly, Sec. 42, Article VI of the By-Laws, on meetings of the Board of Governors, should be amended to read as follows:

Sec. 42. Meetings. - The Board shall meet regularly once a month, on such date and such time and place as it shall designate. Special meetings may be called by the President, and shall be called by him upon written request of five (5) members of the Board. The President shall not vote except to break a tie in the voting. when for any reason, the President  cannot preside on account of his absence, incapacity or refusal to call a meeting, the Executive Vice President shall preside, there being quorum to transact business, but he may not vote except to break a tie.

D. That Sec. 43, Article VI of the By-Laws, on the procedure for approving a resolution by the Board of Governors without a meeting, should be amended by adding the following exception thereto so that the procedure may not be abused in connection with any election in the IBP:

This provision shall not apply when the Board shall hold an election or hear and decide an election protest.

E. That the provision for the strict implementation of the rotation rule among the Chapters in the Regions for the election of the Governor for the regions, (as ordered by this Honorable Court in Bar Matter No. 586, May 14, 1991) should be incorporated in Sec. 39, Article VI of the By-Laws, as follows:

Sec. 39. Nomination and election of the Governors. -At least one (1) month before the national convention the delegates from each region shall elect the Governor for the region, who shall be chosen by rotation which is mandatory and shall be strictly implemented among the Chapters in the region. When a Chapter waives its turn in the rotation order, its place shall redound to the next Chapter in the line. Nevertheless, the former may reclaim its right to the Governorship at any time before the rotation is completed; otherwise, it will have to wait for its turn in the next round, in the same place that it had in the round completed.

F. That in view of the fact that the IBP no longer elects its President, because the Executive Vice President automatically succeeds the President at the end of his term, Sec 47, Article VII of the By-Laws should be amended by deleting the provision for the election of the President, moreover, for the strict implementation of the rotation rule, the Committee recommends that there should be a sanction for its violation, thus:

Sec. 47. National Officers. - The integrated Bar of the Philippines shall have a President, an Executive Vice President, and nine (9) regional Governors. The Executive Vice President shall be elected on a strict rotation basis by the Board of Governors from among themselves, by the vote of at least five (5) Governors. The Governors shall be ex officio Vice President for their respective regions. There shall also be a Secretary and Treasurer of the Board of Governors.

The violation of the rotation rule in any election shall be penalized by annulment of the election from election or appointment to any office of the IBP.

G. That Atty. Manuel M. Maramba should be declared the duly elected Governor of the Greater Manila Region for the 2009-2011 term.

H. That Atty. Erwin Fortunato of the Romblon Chapter should be declared the duly elected Governor of the Western Visayas Region for the 2009-2011 term.

(I.) That a special election should be held in the Western Mindanao Region, within fifteen (15) days from the notice, to elect the Governor of that region for the 2009-2011 term. In accordance with the rotation rule, only the six (6) Chapters in the region that have not yet been elected to the Board of Governors, namely: Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, Za(m)boanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Maguindanao-Cotabato City, shall participate in the election.

J. That, thereafter, a special election should also be held by the Board of Governors to elect the Executive Vice President for the 2009-2011 term with strict observance of the rotation rule. Inasmuch as for the past nine (9) terms, i.e., since the 1991-1993 term, the nominees of the Western Visayas and Eastern Mindanao Regions have not yet been chosen only between the nominees of these two (2) regions who shall become the Executive Vice President for the 2009-2011 term, in accordance with the strict rotation rule.

K. That the high-handed and divisive tactics of Atty. Rogelio A. Vinluan and his group of Governors, Abelardo Estrada, Bonifacio Barandon, Jr., Evergisto Escalon, and Raymund Mercado, which disrupted the peaceful and orderly flow of business in the IBP, caused chaos in the National Office, bitter disagreements, and ill-feelings, and almost disintegrated the Integrated Bar, constituted grave professional misconduct which should be appropriately sanctioned discourage its repetition in the future.

In the meantime, the Court designated Justice Santiago M. Kapunan (retired) as Officer-in-Charge of the IBP, tasked with managing its day-to-day activities.

Issues to Be Resolved

1. What is the correct application of Section 8 on the Chapter By-Laws of Article IV and Section 31, Article V of the IBP By-Laws?

2. Was the 30 April 2009 Resolution of the BOG, which resolved the protests filed by Atty. Soriano, Atty. Lanto, Atty. Aldon, and Atty. Ortega, valid?

3. Who was validly elected IBP Executive Vice President for the next term?

4. What is the liability, if any, of respondents Attys. Rogelio A. Vinluan, Abelardo Estrada, Bonifacio Barandon, Jr., Evergisto Escalon and Raymond Mercado under the administrative complaint for "grave professional misconduct, violation of attorney's oath, and acts inimical to the IBP" filed against them by Attys. Marcial Magsino, Manuel Maramba, and Nasser Marohomsalic?

As a backgrounder, allow me to explain the structure of the Intergrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).

The IBP is divided into nine (9) regions:  Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, Bicolandia, Greater Manila, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Western Mindanao and Eastern Mindanao.  Each of these regions is represented by a Governor elected by delegates from among the member-Chapters of each region.  These nine Governors constitute the Board of Governors (BOG), which is the governing body of the IBP and has the general charge of its affairs and activities.  Aside from the Governors, the other national officers of the IBP include:  the National President, the Executive Vice-President (EVP), the National Secretary, the National Treasurer, and the heads of the National Committees.

The National President, the EVP and the Governors sit for a period of two (2) years, assume office on July 1 and serve until June 30 of their second year.

After their election to the Board, the members of the BOG elect from among themselves the new EVP, who shall automatically become the next IBP National President for the next term.

The National President is designated as the Chief Executive Officer of the IBP.  He is tasked with presiding over all meetings of the BOG.  On the other hand, the EVP shall exercise the powers and perform the functions and duties of the President during the absence or inability of the latter to act and shall perform such other functions and duties as are assigned to him by the President and the Board of Governors. The EVP is a voting member of the Board, since he is an incumbent Governor elected by and from among the Governors.  Meanwhile, the BOG shall have general charge of the affairs and activities of the IBP.

The BOG holds a regular meeting once a month.  However, special meetings may be called by the IBP National President and shall be called by him upon written request of five (5) members of the BOG.  In the special meetings, five members of the BOG shall constitute a quorum to transact business.  However, even without a meeting, the BOG is empowered to issue resolution as long as it is signed by at least five (5) members, with notice of the contents thereof to the other members of the BOG.

The BOG also decides on all election protests within the IBP. Their resolutions on protests are final and conclusive.

Having put the issues in the proper context, we now go to the merits of the protests and complaint.

Contrary to the fallo of the ponencia, the protests of Soriano and Lanto in A.M. No. 09-5-2-SC should be granted, while the protests of Aldon and Ortega should be dismissed for lack of merit.  The complaint against Vinluan and others in A.C. No. 8292 should be dismissed likewise for lack of merit.

Additional Delegates Must Be Elected
by the IBP Chapter Board of Officers

The threshold issue is the conflicting positions on the correct meaning and application of Section 8, Article IV of the Chapter By-Laws and Sec. 31, Article V of the IBP By-Laws.

Former National President Bautista and his group of IBP Governors contend that Section 8 on the Chapter By-Laws of Article IV and Section 31, Article V of the IBP By-Laws should be interpreted to mean that in Chapters which are entitled to more than two delegates, the additional delegate(s) shall be elected by the Board of Officers of the Chapter only from among the remaining duly elected officers and members of the Board, in consideration of their mandate from the general membership of the Chapter. This interpretation is expressed in the April 17, 2009 Resolution of the IBP BOG led by Bautista.

EVP Vinluan and his group of Governors contend otherwise, claiming that the April 17, 2009 Resolution is invalid for being substantially and procedurally flawed. They asseverate that the April 17, 2009 Resolution effectively amended the IBP By-Laws, an act which cannot be done without the approval of this Court. Thus, the BOG led by EVP Vinluan passed the April 23, 2009 Resolution, which recalled the April 17, 2009 Resolution.

I submit that the April 17, 2009 Resolution of the BOG led by President Bautista is invalid.

On the basis of Loanzon's letter seeking clarification of certain provisions of the IBP By-Laws, the BOG issued the April 17, 2009 Resolution, the pertinent portion is quoted as follows:

Resolution No. XVIII-2009-

Resolved as it is hereby resolved by this Board of Governors that in case of Chapters entitled to more than two delegates as provided under Section 8, Chapter By-Laws of Article IV, Section 29 and Article V, Section 31 of the By-Laws of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the additional delegate(s) shall be elected by the Board of Officers of the Chapter only from among the remaining duly elected officers and members of the Board, in consideration of their mandate from the general membership of the Chapter.

This assailed resolution is invalid for the following reasons:

First, the provisions of the By-Laws are unequivocal and do not need any interpretation.

Section 39, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws provides for the nomination and election of the Governors, as follows:

Section 39. Nomination and election of the Governors. - At least one (1) month before the national convention the delegates from each region shall elect the governor for their region, the choice of which shall as much as possible be rotated among the chapters in the region.

For purposes of the election of a Governor, the number, designation and election of the delegates are crucial. Thus, to reiterate, Section 8 on the Chapter By-Laws of Article IV and Section 31, Article V of the IBP By-Laws provide, as follows:

Section 8. Delegates. - The President shall concurrently be the Delegate of the Chapter to the House of Delegates. The Vice President shall be his alternate, unless the chapter is entitled to have more than one Delegate, in which case the Vice President shall also be a Delegate. Additional Delegates and alternates shall in proper cases be elected by the Board.

Section 31. Membership. - The membership of the House of Delegates shall consist of all the Chapter Presidents and in the case of Chapters entitled to more than one Delegate each, the Vice Presidents of the Chapters and such additional Delegates as the Chapters are entitled to. Unless the Vice President is already a Delegate, he shall be an alternate Delegate. Additional Delegates and alternates shall in proper cases be elected by the Board of Officers of the Chapter. Members of the Board of Governors who are not Delegates shall be members ex officio of the House, without the right to vote.

These provisions say that the additional delegates and alternates shall be elected by the Chapter Board of Officers. The only restriction is the requirement that the Chapter President and the Vice President are automatically Delegates in Chapters which are entitled to two (2) delegates.  If a Chapter is entitled to more than two delegates, the additional delegates shall be elected by the Board of Officers of the Chapter, not necessarily from among the members of the Board. The phrase "in proper cases" means if the Chapter is entitled to two (2) delegates, then the President and Vice-President are mandatorily delegates and the alternate delegate shall be elected by the Chapter Board of Officers.  In case the Chapter is entitled to three (3) delegates, then the first two (2) delegates shall be the Chapter President and Vice-President, and the third regular delegate shall be elected by the Chapter Board of Officers from the members of the Chapter, and so on.

The interpretation that the other elected Board Members and Officers of the Chapter are automatically delegates has no basis at all from the challenged By-Laws.  There is nothing in said By-Laws to imply such strained construction.

Second, this absence of a restriction enveloped in the clear wordings of the By-Laws is consistent with the autonomy granted to the Chapters with respect to their chapter-activities.

By imposing an additional requirement that all delegates should be Chapter Officers, the BOG clearly weakened the authority of the local chapters to freely elect their additional delegates. The operative term in Section 8 on the Chapter By-Laws of Article IV and Section 31, Article V of the IBP By-Laws is to "elect" the delegates. Logic dictates that if it were the intention to limit the delegates to the officers of a particular chapter, then the IBP By-Laws should not have given the chapters the freedom to "elect" their delegates. It would be an exercise in futility to hold an election if the same would be limited to the officers of the chapters. The IBP Rules should have simply stated that the additional Delegates should be the members of the Board of each chapter, or that the members of the Board automatically become Delegates.

The IBP By-Laws created local chapters having in mind the autonomy of its own government within its territorial jurisdiction. Thus, Section 28, Article IV and Section 5 of the Chapter By-Laws provide:

Section 28. Chapter Local Government. - Each Chapter shall have its own government.

Section 5. Board of Officers. - The government of the Chapter is vested in a Board of Officers composed of a President, a Vice President, a Secretary, a Treasurer, an Auditor, a Public Relations Officer and five Directors, who shall be elected at the biennial meeting and shall hold office for a term of two years from the first day of April next following their election and until their successors shall have been duly chosen and qualified.

While the chapters are under the general direction and supervision of the BOG as provided in Section 1 of the Chapter By-Laws, each Chapter has the power to administer the affairs of the Integrated Bar within its territorial jurisdiction.  To enforce this, the Chapters were expressly given the powers, prerogatives, functions, duties and responsibilities under Section 3 of Article I of the IBP By-Laws, to wit:

Section 3. Powers, Prerogatives, Functions, Duties And Responsibilities. - The powers, prerogatives, functions, duties and responsibilities, of the Integrated Bar, its Chapters and other agencies, its officers and committees, national and local, its commissions, and its members, are as provided by law, the Integration Rule, Presidential Decree No. 181, these By-Laws, and pertinent rules and regulations.

The abovementioned powers of the Chapters are exercised by their respective Boards with full discretion and without restriction, save for the minimum requirement of the Integration Rule that a member must first be in good standing to avail of its membership privileges.  To impose an additional requirement, such as the one provided under the April 17, 2009 Resolution, would be to restrict the authority of the Board of Officers to freely elect the additional and alternate Delegates of their respective Chapters.

Third, to impose that only Chapter Officers may be Delegates is illogical given the basic and essential differences between the functions of a Chapter Officer and a Member of the House of Delegates.

Thus, I find the submission of the proponents of the April 17, 2009 Resolution that the Board of Officers of a particular Chapter should be Delegates because they enjoy the mandate of general membership having been elected to their respective positions,  illogical and without legal basis.

With this, I would like to emphasize the difference between a Delegate and a Chapter Officer pursuant to the different functions given them under the IBP By-Laws.

On one hand, Chapter Officers constitute the governing body of a Chapter, as set forth in Section 5 on the Chapter By-Laws of Article IV, as follows:

Sec. 5. Board of Officers. - The government of the Chapter is vested in a Board of Officers composed of a President, a Vice President, a Secretary, a Treasurer, an Auditor, a Public Relations Officer and five Directors, who shall be elected at the biennial meeting and shall hold office for a term of two years from the first day of April next following their election and until their successor shall have been duly chosen and qualified. (As amended pursuant to Bar Matter No. 668)

In addition to the elected officers, the immediate Past-President shall ipso facto become an ex-officio (non-voting) member of the Board of Directors. (As amended pursuant to Bar Matter No. 1049)

The President and Vice President shall be chairman and vice chairman, respectively.

Chapter Officers are also elected at large by the general membership of the Chapter.  This is clearly provided under Section 12 (a) and (c) on the Chapter By-Laws of Article IV, as follows:

Sec. 12. Rules governing elections. - The following rules shall govern elections:

Date and place of elections. - Elections of Officers and Directors shall be held on the last Saturday of February every other year at such time and place as the Board shall designate, which shall be stated in the notice to be sent to every member by personal delivery or by mail not less than thirty days prior to the elections.

x x x x

Voters' list. - Not earlier than twenty-five days nor later than fifteen days prior to the elections, the Secretary shall submit to the Board of Officers a list of the names of all the members entitled to vote. The voters' list shall then remain closed and shall not be altered except upon direction of the Board. However, it shall be open to inspection by all members, and, upon request, copies thereof shall be furnished to any member upon payment of actual cost.

Any member who is delinquent in the payment of dues or any assessment, including surcharges owing, twenty-five days prior to the day of the elections, shall be excluded from the voters' list.

On the other hand, Delegates compose the House of Delegates which acts under Section 33(f) of Article V of the IBP By-Laws. It is the IBP's deliberative body whose resolutions bind the Integrated Bar when concurred in by the BOG.  Under Section 36 of the same Article, Delegates have a separate duty from that of a Chapter Officer, to wit:

Sec. 36. Duties of Delegates. - The Delegates shall attend every convention of the House, promote the work of the convention and make reports of the proceedings thereof to their respective Chapters.

Also, for the purpose of electing Regional Governors, the IBP By-Laws designates Chapter Presidents and Vice Presidents as members of the House of Delegates, while additional Delegates are elected by the Board of Officers of a Chapter, as clearly stated in Section 31, Article V of the IBP By-Laws, which is again quoted below:

Section 31. Membership. - The membership of the House of Delegates shall consist of all the Chapter Presidents and in the case of Chapters entitled to more than one Delegate each, the Vice Presidents of the Chapters and such additional Delegates as the Chapters are entitled to. Unless the Vice President is already a Delegate, he shall be an alternate Delegate. Additional Delegates and alternates shall in proper cases be elected by the Board of Officers of the Chapter. Members of the Board of Governors who are not Delegates shall be members ex officio of the House, without the right to vote.

Furthermore, Article V of the IBP By-Laws provides a term of office for a Delegate, thus:

Section 32. Term of Office. - The term of office of additional and alternate Delegates shall be coterminous with that of the Chapter Delegates.

A study of the abovementioned provisions would show that if the intention of the IBP By-Laws were to limit the position of a Delegate to only the incumbent Chapter, then there would no longer be a need to provide for a separate term of office for "additional and alternate delegates" under Section 32, Article V of the IBP By-Laws.  This is due to the fact that a Chapter Officer's term of office would coincide with that of the "Chapter Delegates," which in this case are the President and/or the Vice President of a Chapter.

Fourth, consistent with the foregoing arguments and gleaned from the records of this case, [38] it has been the practice of the IBP House of Delegates, since its inception in 1973, to allow members who are not officers of their respective chapters, to wit:

SUMMARY OF MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF DELEGATES
WHO ARE NOT OFFICERS OF THEIR RESPECTIVE CHAPTERS
´┐Ż ´┐Ż ´┐Ż ´┐Ż ´┐Ż ´┐Ż ´┐Ż ´┐Ż
TERM OF THE HOUSE OF DELEGATES
  
NAME OF DELEGATE
  
CHAPTER


1973-1974
Atty. Alexander Castro
Pangasinan
Atty. Abelardo Subido
Manila IV
Atty. Cirilo Asperilla
Manila IV

1975-1977
Atty. Francisco Santiago
Rizal
Atty. Pablo Garcia
Cebu City
Atty. Angel Purisima
Manila IV
Atty. Gonzalo River
Manila IV

1977-1979
Atty. Jose Balajadia
Rizal
Atty. Ponciano Mortera
Quezon City

1979-1981
No records were made available
1981-1983
1983-1985
Atty. Teodoro Regino
Pangasinan
Atty. Gines Abellana
Cebu City
Atty. Leoncio Mercado
Manila II
Atty. Ponciano Mortera
Quezon City

1985-1987
No records were made available
1987-1989
1989-1991
No records were made available
1991-1993
1993-1995
1995-1997
Atty. Oscar Fernandez
Pangasinan
Atty. Ma. Elena Francisco
Manila II
Atty. Yolando Lim
Manila IV
Atty. Antonio Abad, Jr.
Quezon City
Atty. Teresita Oledan
Quezon City

1997-1999
Atty. Hermogenes Decano
Pangasinan

1999-2001
No records were made available
2001-2003
Atty. Ma. Victoria Cabrera
Pangasinan
Atty. Gines Abellana
Cebu City

2003-2005
Atty. Nicasio Templanza
Manila IV
Atty. Napoleon Espiritu
Manila IV

2005-2007
Atty. Hermogenes Decano
Pangasinan
Atty. Nestor Nuez
Cebu City

2007-2009
Atty. Baltazar Servito
Pangasinan
Atty. Bienvenido Somera, Jr.
Makati City
Atty. Grace Quevendo-Panagsagan
Makati City
  Atty. Democrito Barcenas
Cebu City

The table displayed above confirms the practice of the IBP House of Delegates to allow the participation of non-officers of the different Chapters in its proceedings.  I further note that this practice has been prevalent among some Chapters of the Greater Manila Region itself, among them Quezon City, where one of whose officers oddly enough instituted this quandary. As the provisions of the By-Laws have in fact been accepted and practiced by the IBP since 1973, I cannot find a reason to detract from the same.

Fifth, the April 17, 2009 Resolution of the BOG constitutes an introduction of an amendment to the IBP By-Laws.

By requiring that only "duly elected officers" of a Chapter are to be elected as additional delegates, the April 17, 2009 Resolution effectively imposed an additional qualification on the delegates of a Chapter.  Indeed, a "deliberate selection of language other than that used in an earlier act is indicative that a change in the law was intended."[39]

Therefore, since the April 17, 2009 Resolution is an amendment to the IBP By-Laws, it must be approved by this Court, as required by Section 17 on the Chapter By-Laws of Article IV and Section 77 of the IBP By-Laws, which state, as follows:

Section 17. Amendments. - These by-laws may be amended by the Board of Governors with the approval of the Supreme Court.

The rules and regulations which may be adopted by the Chapter under the authority of Section 29 (Uniform by-laws) of the By-Laws of the Integrated Bar may be amended by the vote of two-thirds of the members present at a meeting called for the purpose, subject to the approval of the Board of Governors.

Section 77. Amendments. - These By-Laws may be amended, modified or repealed by the Supreme Court motu proprio or upon the recommendation of the Board of Governors.

A perusal of the wordings of these provisions shows that the approval of the Supreme Court is mandatory whenever amendments are introduced by the BOG.  In fact, Sections 17 and 77 demonstrate that the power of the  BOG to amend the IBP By-Laws is merely recommendatory, since the Supreme Court has the power to "amend, modify or repeal" and finally approve the amendments to the By-Laws motu proprio.

Thus, the April 17, 2009 Resolution of the BOG, being an amendment to the IBP By-Laws, is ineffective and should not have been used in the April 25, 2009 elections since it was not approved by this Court.

Validity of the April 23, 2009 Resolution of the BOG

As discussed, the BOG voted to recall and set aside its April 17, 2009 Resolution thru its April 23, 2009 Resolution, which provides that:

Resolved, further, that the appropriate interpretation of the aforementioned provision of the By-Laws, consistent with the long established practice of the IBP, is that the election of the additional delegate(s) for Chapters entitled to more than two (2) delegates shall be elected by the Board of Officers of the Chapter from among the general membership who are in good standing to include the remaining duly elected officers and members of the Board.

After carefully studying the Report and Recommendation of the Special Committee and the arguments of the parties to this case, I find that the April 23, 2009 Resolution of the BOG is valid.

In general, for the BOG to carry out its business, Section 6, Rule 139-A of the Rules of Court provides, among other things:

Section 6. Board of Governors. - x x x.

The Board shall meet regularly once every three months, on such date at such time and place as it shall designate. A majority of all the members of the Board shall constitute a quorum to do business. Special meetings may be called by the President or by five members of the Board. x x x

Similarly, Section 43, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws provides:

Section 43. Quorum. - Five members of the Board shall constitute a quorum to transact business. However, the Board may take action, without a meeting, by resolution signed by at least five governors, provided that every member of the Board shall have been previously apprised of the contents of the resolution.

Lastly, Section 37, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws plainly states that the BOG is the governing body of the IBP, as follows:

Section 37. Composition of the Board. - The Integrated Bar shall be governed by a Board of Governors consisting of nine (9) Governors from the (9) regions as delineated in Section 3 of the Integration Rule, on the representation basis of one (1) Governor for each region to be elected by the members of the House of Delegates from the region only. The position of Governor should be rotated among the different Chapters in the Region. (As amended pursuant to Bar Matter No. 491)

Based on the above-quoted provisions and the facts of this case, there is no question that a quorum was formed and present when Governors Vinluan, Estrada, Barandon, Escalon and Mercado passed the April 23, 2009 Resolution.  Proceeding from this, I can also conclude that a majority of the BOG in fact voted and approved said Resolution.  Thus, the April 23, 2009 Resolution was validly issued pursuant to the requirements under the Rules of Court and the IBP By-Laws.

On the other hand, the Memorandum issued on April 24, 2009 by the incumbent IBP National President, Atty. Bautista, wherein he stated that the April 17, 2009 Resolution of the BOG should be the one followed for purposes of the election of the new Governors, cannot be given any effect.  Clearly, nothing in the IBP By-Laws granted authority upon the IBP National President to overrule the valid actions of the IBP BOG.

In fact, as provided for under Section 50(a), Article VII of the IBP By-Laws, the duties of the IBP National President are to primarily act as the chief executive of the IBP and to preside at all meetings of the BOG.  Thus:

Section 50. Duties of Officers. - (a) President:  The President shall be the chief executive of the Integrated Bar, and shall preside at all meetings of the Board of Governors.

From assumption of office and for the duration of his term, the President shall dissociate himself from any and all activities that may, in one way or another, restrict or hamper the effective exercise of his powers and performance of his functions and duties.

Therefore, Atty. Bautista cannot, in his capacity as IBP National President, set aside or render null and void any lawful resolution of the BOG, simply because he was not given any power to do so.  Being the IBP President, he merely executes the lawful resolutions and actions of the BOG, which is the entity vested with the power and authority to act as the governing board in charge of the affairs of the Integrated Bar.

Anent the argument that the recall of the April 17, 2009 Resolution was not validly done since the recall of a Resolution needs the 3/4 vote of the BOG, I find the argument to be without merit.

Nothing in the IBP By-Laws requires a 3/4 vote of the BOG for the approval of a recall of its previous Resolutions. Indeed, the "3/4 vote" argument is without legal basis.

With regard to the contention that Gov. Vinluan, as the EVP of the IBP, lost his right to vote when he assumed the post of Presiding Officer during the April 23, 2009 meeting, I find the same to be without merit.

Unlike the IBP National President, an EVP is chosen by and from among the nine (9) Regional Governors who have been duly elected by the respective regions' Delegates.  Like the other Regional Governors, the EVP has the right to vote in the proceedings of the BOG.  Nothing in the IBP By-Laws indicates the loss of an EVP's right to vote when he presides over a meeting.  Therefore, even if the EVP presides over the meeting of the IBP BOG, he remains to be a Governor, unlike the President, and is entitled to vote as a Governor on matters within the authority of the IBP BOG.

Moreover, the special meeting held on April 23, 2009 called for by Governors Vinluan, Estrada, Barandon, Escalon and Mercado to discuss the April 17, 2009 Resolution was done in accordance with Section 6 of Rule 139-A of the Rules of Court which provides that "special meetings may be called by the President or by five members of the Board."

Also, Section 50(b), Article VII of the IBP By-Laws states:

Section 50. Duties of officers. - x x x.

(b) Executive Vice President: The Executive Vice President shall exercise the powers and perform the functions and duties of the President during the absence or inability of the latter to act, and shall perform such other functions and duties as are assigned to him by the President and the Board of Governors.

Based on this provision, EVP Vinluan's act of presiding over the special meeting held on April 23, 2009 was validly and legally made, since the IBP National President, Atty. Bautista, was absent.  Hence, the absence of Atty. Bautista during the special meeting does not invalidate its proceedings.

Furthermore, the April 23, 2009 Resolution enjoys a disputable presumption of validity.

The Court, in Velez v. De Vera, ruled:[40]

It should be noted that the general charge of the affairs and activities of the IBP has been vested in the Board of Governors. The members of the Board are elective and representative of each of the nine regions of the IBP as delineated in its By-Laws. The Board acts as a collegiate body and decides in accordance with the will of the majority. The foregoing rules serve to negate the possibility of the IBP Board acting on the basis of personal interest or malice of its individual members. Hence, the actions and resolutions of the IBP Board deserve to be accorded the disputable presumption of validity, which shall continue, until and unless it is overcome by substantial evidence and actually declared invalid by the Supreme Court. In the absence of any allegation and substantial proof that the IBP Board has acted without or in excess of its authority or with grave abuse of discretion, we shall not be persuaded to overturn and set aside the Board's action or resolution.

Thus, it is the BOG, not the IBP National President, which has general charge of the affairs of the IBP.  Besides, the BOG acts as a collegial body and decides in accordance with the will of the majority.  In relation to the instant controversy, no evidence was provided to show the alleged grave abuse of discretion on the part of the five (5) Governors in passing the April 23, 2009 Resolution.  Also, the special meeting was called by the majority of the BOG due to the refusal of Atty. Bautista to call the meeting despite the request of the majority of the BOG. Thus, Governors Vinluan, Estrada, Barandon, Escalon and Mercado merely exercised the available administrative remedies provided by both the Rules of Court under Rule 139-A and the IBP By-Laws. Resort to the Court was not necessary in view of said available administrative remedies. As clearly stated in Velez:[41]

x x x [T]he effectiveness of the IBP, like any other organization, is diluted if the conflicts are brought outside its governing body for then there would be the impression that the IBP, which speaks through the Board of Governors, does not and cannot speak for its members in an authoritative fashion. It would accordingly diminish the IBP's prestige and repute with the lawyers as well as with the general public.

As a means of self-preservation, internecine conflicts must thus be adjusted within the governing board itself so as to free it from the stresses that invariably arise when internal cleavages are made public.

The doctrine of majority rule is almost universally used as a mechanism for adjusting and resolving conflicts and disagreements within the group after the members have been given an opportunity to be heard. While it does not efface conflicts, nonetheless, once a decision on a contentious matter is reached by a majority vote, the dissenting minority is bound thereby so that the board can speak with one voice, for those elected to the governing board are deemed to implicitly contract that the will of the majority shall govern in matters within the authority of the board.

Indeed, the April 23, 2009 Resolution of the IBP BOG was made in compliance with the Rules of Court and the IBP By-Laws.

In view of all the foregoing, Section 8 on the Chapter By-Laws of Article IV and Section 31, Article V of the IBP By-Laws should be applied as it is. Accordingly, in cases where IBP Chapters are entitled to more than two delegates as provided under Section 8, Chapter By-Laws of Article IV and Section 31, Article V of the By-Laws of the IBP, the additional delegate(s) shall be elected by the Board of Officers of the Chapter not only from among the remaining duly elected officers and members of the Board but also from other members as well.

Was the April 30, 2009 Resolution of the BOG, which resolved
the protests filed by
Atty. Soriano, Atty. Lanto, Atty. Aldon,
and Atty. Ortega, valid?


Section 40 of the IBP By-Laws provides that the jurisdiction to hear and decide all protests concerning elections in the IBP is vested with the Board of Governors, to wit:

Section 40. Election contests. - Any nominee desiring to contest an election shall, within two days after the announcement of the results of the elections, file with the President of the Integrated Bar a written protest setting forth the grounds therefor. Upon receipt of such petition, the President shall forthwith call a special meeting of the outgoing Board of Governors to consider and hear the protest, with due notice to the contending parties. The decision of the Board shall be announced not later than the following May 31 and shall be final and conclusive.

Under the same provision, the IBP National President is mandated to call a special meeting of the IBP BOG upon receipt of election protests.  When Soriano, Lanto, Aldon, and Ortega filed their respective election protests with the IBP, Atty. Bautista failed to call a special meeting. Instead, he ordered the protestees and protestants to file their respective comments and replies. After the parties' compliance with his order, he would direct the national secretary to issue a notice of special meeting of the Board after five (5) days from the time all the pleadings have been filed.  This was done despite the fact that the election for EVP was scheduled on May 9, 2009 or thirteen (13) days after the protests were filed.

In view of the refusal of Atty. Bautista to call a special meeting regarding the election protest, Atty. Vinluan and his group of Governors called for the special meeting themselves.  On April 28, 2009, Atty. Jaime Vibar, acting upon instructions of the BOG, sent notices to all parties to the protests, namely: Atty. Benjamin Lanto, Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic, Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III, Atty. Manuel Maramba, Atty. Cornelio P. Aldon, and Atty. Erwin M. Fortunato. The parties were instructed to be present at the hearing that would be conducted on April 30, 2009 and to submit whatever comment or opposition they may deem proper.  Copies of the notice were likewise sent to the IBP National President and the other governors: Ernesto A. Gonzales, Marcial Magsino, Ramon Edison Batacan, and Carlos Valdez, through the staff facilities of the IBP.[42] All notices were duly received by the parties.  The proceeding for the hearing and the BOG's deliberations were thereafter conducted on the same day.[43]

Considering that the parties were duly notified and given the opportunity to present their respective positions on the protest, I find nothing irregular with the actions of the BOG in calling for a special meeting on the election protests.

The actuations of the BOG in setting the protests for hearing on April 30, 2009 are logical under the circumstances. I note that the election of the next EVP of the IBP was slated on May 9, 2009.  Time was of the essence to resolve the protests in order to proceed with the election of the next EVP of the IBP.  Thus, it was necessary to hold the election prior to the EVP elections, since duly-elected Governors are required to validly conduct the election of the next EVP of the IBP within their rank.  Considering further that since nobody among the parties of these cases even endeavored to move the schedule of the election of the next EVP of the IBP to another date to provide more time to resolve the election protests, then it was necessary to resolve the protests prior to the pre-determined EVP election date. The BOG in this case was hard pressed to move forward, in accordance with the IBP Rules on notices and voting, because they were not given much leeway to resolve the possible impasse.

As to who were validly elected Governor for Western Visayas, Greater Manila, and Western Mindanao Regions, I shall discuss the rulings of the BOG in seriatim.

Prefatorily, it bears stressing that the decisions made by the BOG regarding election protests are final and conclusive. The Court held in Parlade v. Board of Governors:[44]

As correctly observed by the respondents, the decision of the Board of Governors in election contests is final (Sec. 13, IBP By-Laws). And one of the governing principles in the integration of the bar is "maximum Bar autonomy with minimum supervision and regulation by the Supreme Court.

Nevertheless, I shall discuss the issues on the election of the Governors for the three aforementioned regions due to their paramount significance.

Western Visayas Region Protest

The election of Fortunato as Governor for the Western Visayas Region was upheld by the BOG since he obtained the highest number of votes among the three candidates for the position; and under the rotation rule, it is now the turn of the Romblon Chapter to represent the Western Visayas Region in the IBP Board of Governors. The Special Committee, in its Report and Recommendation, concurred with the BOG.

I agree with the said ruling.

Again, Section 37 of the IBP By-Laws provides:

Section 37. Composition of the Board. - The Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall be governed by a Board of Governors consisting of nine (9) Governors from the nine (9) regions as delineated in Section 3 of the Integration Rule, on the representation basis of one (1) Governor for each region to be elected by the members of the House of Delegates from the region only. The position of Governor should be rotated among the different Chapters in the Region. (As amended pursuant to Bar Matter 491).

The above section applicable to the selection of Governors for the regions is mandatory. As correctly pointed out during the hearing, the mandatory nature of the "rotation rule" under Section 37 was necessary to give a chance to every chapter to have at least a governor at some time.

Considering that the only remaining chapter in the Western Visayas Region that has not yet had a Governor is Romblon and that since Fortunato obtained the highest number of votes among the three candidates for the position, then Fortunato should be the validly elected Governor for Western Visayas.

Greater Manila Region Protest

With respect to the protest filed by Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III, the BOG granted the protest and declared the election of the IBP Greater Manila Region held on April 25, 2009 as null and void.  Thereafter, new elections were ordered to be held on May 4, 2009.

Having earlier passed upon the non-validity of the April 17, 2009 Resolution of the BOG, I now consider the validity of the April 25, 2009 election for the Greater Manila Region. Specifically, I shall focus on the validity of the votes cast by the delegates from the Quezon City Chapter.

It is not disputed that of the eleven (11) delegates from Quezon City Chapter, two (2) are automatic delegates and nine (9) are additional delegates. From among those who were allowed to cast their votes, two (2) were not elected by the QC Board of Officers: Atty. Victoria Loanzon and Atty. Iris Laqui.  Unfortunately for Atty. Loanzon and Atty. Laqui, neither of them holds the position of either President or Vice-President of the Chapter and, thus, cannot be considered as an automatic delegate.  Therefore, pursuant to the provisions of Section 31, Article V of the IBP By-Laws, Atty. Loanzon and Atty. Laqui need to be elected by the Board of Officers to qualify as additional delegates.

Per Board Resolution 09-007 of the IBP-QC Chapter, neither Atty. Loanzon nor Atty. Laqui was an official delegate duly elected by the Board and should not have been allowed by Presiding Officer Atty. Marcial Magsino to cast their votes.  The BOG then ruled correctly in ordering elections for the GMR to be held anew, since the declaration of Atty. Loanzon and Atty. Laqui as Delegates of the IBP-QC Chapter is material in deciding the tight race between Atty. Elpidio Soriano III and Atty. Manuel Maramba.

On the argument that Atty. Soriano cannot be elected as GMR Governor by virtue of the "rotation rule," the same lacks merit.

For clarity, I quote again Section 37, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws:

Section 37. Composition of the Board. - The Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall be governed by a Board of Governors consisting of nine (9) Governors from the (9) regions as delineated in Section 3 of the Integration Rule, on the representation basis of one (1) Governor for each region to be elected by the members of the House of Delegates from the region only. The position of Governor should be rotated among the different Chapters in the Region. (As amended by Bar Matter 491)

Based on the records turned over to the Special Committee, the following has been the rotation of the Governors for GMR within the chapters comprising the region:

Term
Chapter
Governor
2007-2009
Manila IV
Atty. Marcial Magsino
2005-2007 
Manila I 
Atty. Alicia Risos-Vidal
2003-2005 
Manila II
Atty. Rosario Setias-Reyes
2001-2003 
Quezon City 
Atty. Santos Catubay Jr.
1999-2001 
Manila III 
Atty. Jose Icaonapo Jr.
1997-1999 
Manila I 
Atty. Jacinto Formes
1995-1997 
Manila III 
Atty. Amy Wong
2/1994 - 6/1995
Manila III
Atty. Amy Wong
7/1993 - 2/1994
Manila II
Atty. Gonzalo Santos, Jr.
1991-1993 
Quezon City 
Atty. Mervyn G. Encanto
1989-1991 
Manila IV
Atty. Yolanda Q. Javellana


During the hearings before the Special Committee, it was submitted that since the cycle of the rotation from 1999-2009 had already been completed, the next GMR Governor should come from the Manila III Chapter because in the previous cycle, the first Governor was a member of the Manila III Chapter.

This contention is untenable.

An analysis of the history of the "rotation rule" would show that when the "rotation rule" was ordained by Bar Matter No. 491 in 1989, for the GMR, the first GMR Governor for the term 1989-1991 was Atty. Yolanda Quisumbing-Javellana who came from the Manila IV Chapter.

This shows that in the cycle prior to when Manila III (Jose Icaonapo, Jr.) was first elected as the GMR Governor, the first GMR Governor actually came from Manila IV (Yolanda Quisumbing-Javellana). This clearly negates the theory that each cycle must start with Manila III.  Besides, the contention renders nugatory the necessity of electing Governors. If the rotation rule were implemented as such, there would be no need to conduct elections. The Chapters would simply wait for their turn every time a new cycle commences. This would unduly restrict the discretion of the Chapters (as well as the individual nominees) to field and choose their next Governor whose responsibilities are neither miniscule nor trivial. The "rotation rule" is meant to ensure an equitable sharing of responsibility in the professional organization. It is not intended to shackle the IBP or to reduce its Chapters into automatons.

Thus, the "rotation rule" should mean that once a member of a Chapter is elected Governor, the said Chapter is excluded and becomes ineligible to have another member elected as Governor until all the other Chapters in the region have had a chance to elect a Governor from among its members. The series of exclusions takes place at each election until the cycle of rotation among all the Chapters is concluded.  After all the Chapters have had their respective Governors elected, then the Governor-slate is wiped clean. Thereafter, the second rotation cycle begins and all the Chapters are once again eligible to have one of their members elected as Governor. Once a Chapter has its member elected as Governor, it is again excluded from having another member elected as Governor until all the other Chapters in the region have had a chance to elect a governor in the second cycle, and so on.

Considering that in the last cycle, all the five (5) chapters in the Greater Manila Region had already elected a Governor, the cycle began anew in 2009 and any of the Chapters could field a candidate. In view thereof, Atty. Soriano is not disqualified to be elected as GMR Governor under the "rotation rule."

As I have discussed the reason for holding as void the election of the IBP Greater Manila Region held on April 25, 2009, I now delve into the validity of the election of Atty. Soriano for the position of Governor for GMR on May 4, 2009.

Records[45] show that after the BOG resolved all the individual protests on April 30, 2009, the concerned parties and the various Chapters of GMR were notified of the special election to be held on May 4, 2009.

Atty. Vinluan presided over the said special election for the Governor of GMR pursuant to the April 30, 2009 Resolution of the BOG.  A total of fifteen (15), out of twenty-five (25), delegates from the five (5) chapters comprising the GMR attended. Soriano was the sole nominee for the position of GMR Governor. After the casting of ballots and counting of votes, Soriano was declared the duly-elected GMR Governor, garnering a total of fifteen (15) votes.

In assailing the validity of the said proceedings, Atty. Magsino argues that it was irregular for EVP Vinluan to have presided over the special election of the GMR Governor on May 4, 2009, since he alone, being the incumbent GMR Governor, has the authority to call and preside over the election of the next GMR Governor.

This argument, however, is bereft of any merit.

Section 39, Article VI of the By-Laws provides:

Section 39. Nomination and election of the Governors. - At least one (1) month before the national convention the delegates from each region shall elect the governor for their region, the choice of which shall as much as possible be rotated among the chapters in the region. (As amended pursuant to Bar Matter 491).

A study of Section 9, Article VI of the By-Laws shows that there is no explicit rule as to who shall preside in the election of Regional Governors.  By tradition, however, the incumbent Governor of a particular region acts as the Presiding Officer for the election of the Governor of his or her region.

Meanwhile, Section 41, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws provides the functions of the BOG, to wit:

Section 41. Functions of the Board. - The Board of Governors shall have general charge of the affairs and activities of the Integrated Bar. It shall have authority, inter alia, to:

(a) Fix the date, time and place of every convention of the House of Delegates, subject to the provisions of Sections 33 (Annual convention) and 34 (Special conventions);

(b) Make appropriations and authorize disbursements from the funds of the Integrated Bar, subject to the provisions of Sec. 14 of the Integration Rule and Section 5 (Positions honorary) of these By-Laws;

(c) Engage the services of employees, define their duties and fix their compensation;

(d) Receive, consider and act on reports and recommendations submitted by the House of Delegates or its committees;

(e) Provide for the publication of the Journal of the Integrated Bar;

(f) Administer the Welfare Fund in accordance with such rules and regulations as it may promulgate;

(g) Fill vacancies, however arising in the positions of officers of the Integrated Bar, subject to the provisions of Sec. 8 of the Integration Rule, and Section 11 (Vacancies), Section 44 (Removal of members), Section 47 (National officers), Section 48 (Other officers), and Section 49 (Terms of office) of these By-Laws;

(h) Subject to the approval of the Supreme Court, promulgate Canons of Professional Responsibility for all members of the Integrated Bar;

(i) Promulgate rules and regulations for the establishment and maintenance of lawyer referral services throughout the Philippines;

(j) Subject to the approval of the Supreme Court, impose special assessments for specific national purposes, and impose, or recommend in proper cases to the Court the imposition of, sanctions for non-payment or delinquency in the payment thereof;

(k) Prescribe such rules and regulations as may be necessary and proper to carry out the objectives and purposes of the Integrated Bar as well as the provisions of the Integration Rule and Presidential Decree No. 181; and

(l) Perform such other functions as may be necessary or expedient in the interest of the Integrated Bar.

As to the duties of individual Governors, Section 50(c), Article VII of the IBP By-Laws provides:

Section 50. Duties of officers. - x x x.

(c) Governors: In addition to his duties as a member of the Board of Governors, each elective Governor shall act as representative of his Region in the Board. He shall promote, coordinate and correlate activities of the Chapters within his Region.

Again, a careful reading of these two (2) provisions would show that there is no rule which states that the Regional Governors must call and preside over the election of the incoming Governors of their respective regions.

Therefore, Atty. Magsino's claim that he is the only one authorized to call and preside over the election of the GMR Governor has no legal basis.  Also, it must be remembered that the special election on May 4, 2009 was brought about by a resolution of Atty. Soriano's protest by the BOG, which is final and conclusive; hence, the act of Atty. Vinluan in presiding over the said special election is not irregular or illegal.

Western Mindanao Protest

As ruled by the BOG on April 30, 2009, the petition of Lanto was granted and he was declared as the duly elected Governor for Western Mindanao.

I agree with the ruling of the BOG on April 30, 2009.

The main issue raised by Lanto in his protest is the validity of the nomination of Marohomsalic.

Section 6 of Rule 139-A provides that:

Sec. 6.  Board of Governors. - The Integrated Bar shall be governed by a Board of Governors. Nine governors shall be elected by the House of Delegates from the nine Regions on the representation basis of one Governor from each Region. Each Governor shall be chosen from a list of nominees submitted by the Delegates from the Region, provided that not more than one nominee shall come from any Chapter. The President and the Executive Vice-President, chosen by the Governors from outside of themselves as provided in Section 7 of this Rule, shall ipso facto become members of the Board.

A perusal of the said provision would show that there should only be one (1) nominee for Governor for each Chapter.

Section 5 of the Chapter By-Laws provides that:

Sec. 5. Board of Officers. - The government of the Chapter is vested in a Board of Officers composed of a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary, a Treasurer, an Auditor, a Public Relations Officer and five Directors, who shall be elected at the biennial meeting and shall hold office for a term of two (2) years from the first day of April next following their election and until their successors shall have been duly chosen and qualified. x x x

Meanwhile, Section 7 of the Chapter By-Laws provides that:

Sec. 7.  Duties of officers.

(a) President. - The President shall be the chief executive of the Chapter. He shall preside at all chapter meetings and at all meetings of the Board of Officers. x x x

A comparison of these two provisions would show that the will of a Chapter is manifested through the acts of the Board of Officers as a collegial body.

Thus, the Chapter resolution which was jointly passed last February 28, 2009 by both the outgoing and incoming Board of Officers of Lanao del Sur Chapter and which also designated Lanto as the official nominee of the Chapter for Governor prevails over the nomination of Atty. Marohomsalic by the Chapter President, Macalawi.

Neither is Lanto disqualified under the "rotation rule" for the position of Western Mindanao Governor.

While the Special Committee points out that six (6) chapters in the region, including Sarangani, are entitled to precedence over the Lanao Del Sur Chapter in the order of rotation, the fact remains that not one of them nominated a candidate from their respective ranks during the April 25, 2009 election. Neither did any one of them challenge the nominations of the Lanao Del Sur Chapter based on the order of rotation. Thus, the six (6) chapters in the region that are entitled to precedence over the Lanao Del Sur Chapter in the order of rotation are deemed to have waived their turn in the rotation order.

Who was validly elected IBP EVP for the next term?

In accordance with Section 43 of the By-Laws, the BOG passed a Resolution recognizing the duly-elected Governors of the various regions of the IBP. Thereafter, a call for the election of the next IBP Executive Vice President would follow.

Considering that the May 4, 2009 election wherein Soriano won the seat of GMR Governor is valid, it follows that he is entitled to vote and be voted for in the May 9, 2009 election of the Executive Vice President.  Also, since the records[46] disclose that Soriano was unanimously voted by all six (6) newly-elected members of the Board of Governors on May 9, 2010, there is no question that his election to the position of IBP Executive Vice President is legally binding.

In contrast, the election of Atty. Roan I. Libarios as IBP Executive Vice President, which was conducted on the same date, is invalid. Apart from the assailed validity of its proceedings, he was voted upon to such position by only three (3) newly-elected Governors, as Marohomsalic and Maramba were not the duly elected Governors of their respective regions, and their votes cannot be considered.

I also disagree with the finding of the Special Committee that the Governors of the Western Visayas and Eastern Mindanao regions are the only ones qualified to be elected as Executive Vice President for the term 2009-2011. Contrary to the said finding, all the nine (9) regions of the IBP have already produced an Executive Vice President. As held by this Court in Velez:[47]

In Bar Matter 491, it is clear that it is the position of IBP EVP which is actually rotated among the nine Regional Governors. The rotation with respect to the Presidency is merely a result of the automatic succession rule of the IBP EVP to the Presidency. Thus, the rotation rule pertains in particular to the position of IBP EVP, while the automatic succession rule pertains to the Presidency. The rotation with respect to the Presidency is but a consequence of the automatic succession rule provided in Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws.

In the case at bar, the rotation rule was duly complied with since upon the election of Atty. De Vera as IBP EVP, each of the nine IBP regions had already produced an EVP and, thus, the rotation was completed. It is only unfortunate that the supervening event of Atty. de Vera's removal as IBP Governor and EVP rendered it impossible for him to assume the IBP Presidency. The fact remains, however, that the rotation rule had been completed despite the non-assumption by Atty. de Vera to the IBP Presidency

Thus, after the election of Atty. Jose Vicente B. Salazar as EVP and eventually, as IBP President for the term 2005-2007, the rotation of all the nine regions of the IBP had been completed.  A new rotation cycle commenced for the term 2007-2009.

It is also my opinion that the Special Committee's finding that Eastern Mindanao has not had its turn of having an Executive Vice President of the IBP is erroneous.  In A.M. No. 07-3-13-SC, entitled In Re: Compliance of IBP Chapters with Adm. Order No. 16-2007, Letter-Compliance of Atty. Ramon Edison C. Batacan,[48] the Court held:

There is no merit to Atty. Batacan's claim that in view of the removal of Atty. Leonardo de Vera, IBP Eastern Mindanao Region was denied meaningful participation.

In Velez, the Court held that "the rotation rule had been completed despite the non-assumption by Atty. De Vera to the IBP Presidency." Atty. De Vera's removal from the position of EVP took place on the twenty-third month of his term for 2003 to 2005. Only a month short of completing his term, it is clear that he had effectively exercised the functions of an EVP as representative of the IBP Eastern Mindanao Region.

Contrary to the conclusion reached by the Special Committee, the Eastern Mindanao region already had its turn of having an EVP representative in the person of Atty. Leonard De Vera, who served as EVP for 23 months during the term 2005-2007.

In light of the foregoing, for the term 2009-2011, all Regional Governors, except that of Central Luzon,[49] are qualified to run for the post of Executive Vice President.

What is the liability, if any, of respondents Attys. Rogelio A. Vinluan, Abelardo Estrada, Bonifacio Barandon, Jr., Evergisto Escalon and Raymond Mercado if guilty of "grave professional misconduct, violation of attorney's oath, and acts inimical to the IBP"?

Having shown that the acts of Atty. Vinluan and the four other members of the BOG were in accordance with the IBP By-Laws, I see no reason to hold them liable for grave misconduct, violation of their oath as lawyers, and for committing acts inimical to the interest of the IBP. As a matter of fact, respondent Attys. Vinluan, Estrada, Barandon, Jr., Escalon and Mercado have always followed to the letter, the relevant provisions of the IBP By-Laws.

But the same cannot be said with regard to the actions taken by Atty. Bautista and his group, which also includes his co-complainants, Atty. Manuel Maramba and Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic. The evidence clearly shows that Atty. Bautista's actuations produced conflict among the leaders and members of the IBP.

One last point.  The complainants failed to clearly show that the respondents were motivated by ulterior motives in committing the acts alleged to be violative of their oath as members of the legal profession.  As held in Arboleda v. Gatchalian:[50]

x x x [I]n disbarment proceedings, the burden of proof rests upon the complainant and the charge against the lawyer must be established by convincing proof. The record must disclose as free from doubt a case which compels the exercise by this Court of its disciplinary powers. The corrupt character of the act must be clearly demonstrated. Moreover, considering the serious consequences of the disbarment or suspension of a member of the Bar, We have consistently held that clearly preponderant evidence is necessary to justify the imposition of either penalty.

A difference in opinion as to the proper interpretation of a provision in the Rules or the IBP By-Laws should never be used as a ground to charge another member of the legal profession for unethical conduct.

As a result, the administrative complaint filed against Attys. Vinluan, Estrada, Barandon, Jr., Escalon and Mercado should be dismissed for lack of merit.

WHEREFORE, I recommend that this Court RULE and UPHOLD the following:

  1. The proclamation of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III as the duly-elected Governor for the Greater Manila Region of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for the term 2009-2011;

  2. The proclamation of Atty. Benjamin B. Lanto as the duly-elected Governor for the Western Mindanao Region of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for the term 2009-2011;

  3. The proclamation of Atty. Erwin M. Fortunato as the duly-elected Governor for the Western Visayas Region of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for the term 2009-2011;

  4. The May 6, 2009 Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors recognizing the following as the duly-elected Regional Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for the term 2009-2011:

    a. Northern Luzon              - Atty. Ma. Milagros F. Cayosa
    b. Central Luzon                 - Atty. Ferdinand Y. Miclat
    c. Southern Luzon               - Atty. Amador Z. Tolentino, Jr.
    d. Greater Manila Region    - Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III
    e. Bicolandia                       - Atty. Jose V. Cabrera
    f. Western Visayas              - Atty. Erwin M. Fortunato
    g. Eastern Visayas               - Atty. Roland B. Inting
    h. Eastern Mindanao            - Atty. Roan I. Libarios
    i. Western Mindanao            - Atty. Benjamin B. Lanto

  5. The proclamation by the IBP Board of Governors in the May 9, 2009 election of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III as the duly-elected Executive Vice President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for the term 2009-2011.

  6. That the administrative complaint against Atty. Rogelio Vinluan, Atty. Abelardo Estrada, Atty. Bonifacio Banrandon, Jr., Atty. Evergisto Escalon, and Atty. Raymund Jorge Mercado be DISMISSED for lack of merit.

  7. Finally, to ALLOW Atty. Rogelio Vinluan to assume his post as IBP National President for the remaining portion of the term 2009-2011.

With regard to the recommendations of the Special Committee on the possible revision of the IBP Rules in order to prevent similar instances or controversies in the future, said recommendations should be referred to the Court Oversight Committee on Integrated Bar Affairs for further study and consideration.

Endnotes:


[1] Exhibit "A" of the Position Paper of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III.

[2] Position Paper of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III, p. 5.

[3] Exhibit "B" of the Position Paper of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III.

[4] Exhibit "C," id.

[5] Position Paper of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III, p. 7.

[6] Exhibits "D" and "D-1" of the Position Paper of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III.

[7] Exhibit "E," id.

[8] Memorandum of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III, p. 7.

[9] Exhibit "G" of the Position Paper of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III.

[10] Memorandum dated July 3, 2009 of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III, p. 10.

[11] Position Paper of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III, pp. 10-11.

[12] Id. at 11.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Memorandum of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III, p. 11.

[16] Position Paper of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III, p. 12.

[17] Id.

[18] Id. at 12-13.

[19] Exhibit "H" of the Position Paper of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III. Art. VI, Sec. 40 of the IBP By-Laws provides:

Sec. 40. Election contests.--Any nominee desiring to contest an election shall, within two days after the announcement of the results of the elections, file with the President of the Integrated Bar a written protest setting forth the grounds therefor. Upon receipt of such petition, the President shall forthwith call a special meeting of the outgoing Board of Governors to consider and hear the protest, with due notice to the contending parties. The decision of the Board shall be announced not later than the following May 31, and shall be final and conclusive.

[20] Memorandum dated July 3, 2009 of Atty. Rogelio Vinluan, pp. 13-14.

[21] Id. at 14.

[22] Id.

[23] Id. at 15.

[24] Id.

[25] Id. at 15.

[26] Id.

[27] Id. at 15-16.

[28] Position Paper of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III, p. 14.

[29] Memorandum dated July 3, 2009 of Atty. Rogelio Vinluan, pp. 53-59.

[30] Exhibit "L-4" of the Memorandum dated  July 3, 2009 of Atty. Rogelio Vinluan.

[31] Exhibit "J-2" of the Position Paper of Atty. Elipidio G. Soriano III.

[32] Position Paper of Atty. Elipidio G. Soriano III, p. 15.

[33] Id. at 15-16.

[34] Exhibits "K," "K-1" to "K-10" of the Position Paper of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III.

[35] Exhibits "M," "N," "O" and "P," id.

[36] Memorandum dated July 3, 2009 of Atty. Rogelio Vinluan, pp. 26-27.

[37] The hearings were held on June 10, 2009; June 23, 2009; June 25, 2009; June 26, 2009; and July 2, 2009 at the Division Hearing Room, Supreme Court, Manila.

[38] Exhibit "U," Memorandum of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III.

[39] Aves v. Joson, No. L-29922, August 29, 1969, 29 SCRA 268, 270.

[40] A.C. No. 6697, Bar Matter No. 1227, A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC, July 25, 2006, 496 SCRA 345, 392-393.

[41] Supra note 40, at 390-391.

[42] Exhibit "J," "J-1" to "J-6" of the Memorandum of Atty. Rogelio A. Vinluan dated  July 3, 2009.

[43] Exhibits "L-1," "L-2," "L-3," "J-5," and "J-6" of the Memorandum of Atty. Rogelio A. Vinluan dated July 3, 2009.

[44] No. L-56532, September 21, 1981, 107 SCRA 589, 592.

[45] Exhibits "J," "J-1" to "J-2," Position Paper of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III; and Exhibits "L-5" to "L-7," Memorandum of Atty. Rogelio A. Vinluan dated July 3, 2009.

[46] Memorandum of Atty. Rogelio A. Vinluan dated July 3, 2009, p. 76.

[47] Supra note 40, at 398.

[48] February 27, 2008, 547 SCRA 1, 8-9.

[49] Atty. Feliciano M. Bautista, then Regional Governor for Central Luzon, was elected EVP and assumed the Presidency for the term 2007-2009.

[50] A.C. No. 1034, July 23, 1974, 58 SCRA 64, 67; citations omitted.



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  • A.M. No. RTJ-06-2007 (Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 05-2368-RTJ) : December 6, 2010 CARMEN EDA´┐ŻO, Complainant, v. Judge FATIMA G. ASDALA, Regional Trial Court, Branch 87, Quezon City, Respondent.

  • A.M. No. P-05-2003 (Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 97-218-P) : December 6, 2010 GERMAN AGUNDAY, Complainant, v. LEMUEL B. VELASCO, Deputy Sheriff, Office of the Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court, Virac, Catanduanes, Respondent.

  • G.R. No. 155832 : December 7, 2010 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. SANDIGANBAYAN (Fourth Division) and IMELDA R. MARCOS, Respondents.

  • G.R. No. 185899 : December 8, 2010 SPOUSES REUBEN DELA CRUZ AND MINERVA DELA CRUZ, Petitioner, v. RAMON C. PAPA IV, in his capacity as Co-Administrator of the Estate of Angela M. Butte, Respondent.

  • G.R. No. 177556 : December 8, 2010 TRANSCEPT CONSTRUCTION AND MANAGEMENT PROFESSIONALS, INC., Petitioner, v. TERESA C. AGUILAR, Respondent.

  • [G.R. No. 191963, December 01 : 2010] RITA NATAL, CHARITO LABATETE, RAMUEL MAGAHIS, FRANCISCA LOGDAT, JOCELYN MACUNAT, LUCENA MITANTE, GUADALUPE M. LLAMAS, NORITA MODIONG, AMELIA PANTOJA, MIRASOL NABIONG, ROMEO LOGDAT, EDUARDO JAQUECA, NATIVIDAD NAGUTOM, EMERENCIANA VILLA, JUANITO MALAGOTNOT, GORGONIO L. LICON, ACELA FORTON, JULIO NATAL, CONSORCIA LAZO, LUCENIO MATAYA, ELISA LOGDAT, HELEN LIVELO, ISIDRA LEYNES, VICENTE LAURESTA, LEONOR NUNEZ, CONCEPCION MALAGOTNOT, JUANA LUSTRE, PERLITO NAGUTOM, JULIA NALANGIS, RUSTICO LEYNES, FERNANDITO MAGUTOM, NARCISO RICOHERMOSO, DAISY MIRANDA, MARIA MIRONES, PERPETUA MIRANDA, PETITIONERS, VS. HON. MANUELITO O. CABALLES, PRESIDING JUDGE, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT- DECEMBER 1, 2010 BRANCH 38, BOAC, MARINDUQUE, PUBLIC RESPONDENT, MARCOPPER MINING CORP., PRIVATE RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 191963, December 01 : 2010] RITA NATAL, CHARITO LABATETE, RAMUEL MAGAHIS, FRANCISCA LOGDAT, JOCELYN MACUNAT, LUCENA MITANTE, GUADALUPE M. LLAMAS, NORITA MODIONG, AMELIA PANTOJA, MIRASOL NABIONG, ROMEO LOGDAT, EDUARDO JAQUECA, NATIVIDAD NAGUTOM, EMERENCIANA VILLA, JUANITO MALAGOTNOT, GORGONIO L. LICON, ACELA FORTON, JULIO NATAL, CONSORCIA LAZO, LUCENIO MATAYA, ELISA LOGDAT, HELEN LIVELO, ISIDRA LEYNES, VICENTE LAURESTA, LEONOR NUNEZ, CONCEPCION MALAGOTNOT, JUANA LUSTRE, PERLITO NAGUTOM, JULIA NALANGIS, RUSTICO LEYNES, FERNANDITO MAGUTOM, NARCISO RICOHERMOSO, DAISY MIRANDA, MARIA MIRONES, PERPETUA MIRANDA, PETITIONERS, VS. HON. MANUELITO O. CABALLES, PRESIDING JUDGE, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT- DECEMBER 1, 2010 BRANCH 38, BOAC, MARINDUQUE, PUBLIC RESPONDENT, MARCOPPER MINING CORP., PRIVATE RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 173138, December 01 : 2010] NOEL B. BACCAY, PETITIONER, VS. MARIBEL C. BACCAY AND REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 154486, December 01 : 2010] FEDERICO JARANTILLA, JR., PETITIONER, VS. ANTONIETA JARANTILLA, BUENAVENTURA REMOTIGUE, SUBSTITUTED BY CYNTHIA REMOTIGUE, DOROTEO JARANTILLA AND TOMAS JARANTILLA, RESPONDENTS.

  • [A.M. No. P-09-2714 [Formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 08-2707-P], December 06 : 2010] FERNANDO P. CHAN, COMPLAINANT, VS. JOVEN T. OLEGARIO, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 179044, December 06 : 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, APPELLEE, VS. RODRIGUEZ LUCERO Y PAW-AS ALIAS "KIKIT," APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 189311, December 06 : 2010] DENNIS R. MANZANAL AND BAGUIO COUNTRY CLUB CORPORATION, PETITIONERS, VS. RAMON K. ILUSORIO, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 162943, December 06 : 2010] EMPLOYEES UNION OF BAYER PHILS., FFW AND JUANITO S. FACUNDO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDENT, PETITIONERS, VS. BAYER PHILIPPINES, INC., DIETER J. LONISHEN (PRESIDENT), ASUNCION AMISTOSO (HRD MANAGER), AVELINA REMIGIO AND ANASTACIA VILLAREAL, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 172020, December 06 : 2010] TRADERS ROYAL BANK, PETITIONER, VS. NORBERTO CASTA├ĹARES AND MILAGROS CASTA├ĹARES, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 188484, December 06 : 2010] SALUD GEPIGA VDA. DE SOCO, GENARO G. SOCO, ELENO G. SOCO, FRANCISCO G. SOCO, TRINIDAD S. MENDEZ, FLORA S. HONRADA, ANITA S. ILUSTRISIMO, JULITA S. JAVIER, AND PATRICIO G. SOCO, PETITIONERS, VS. FERMINA SOCO VDA. DE BARBON, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 171624, December 06 : 2010] BF HOMES, INC. AND THE PHILIPPINE WATERWORKS AND CONSTRUCTION CORP., PETITIONERS, VS. MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 183709, December 06 : 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, APPELLEE, VS. MANUEL "AWIL" POJO, APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 191998, December 07 : 2010] WALDEN F. BELLO AND LORETTA ANN P. ROSALES, PETITIONERS, VS. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, RESPONDENT. [G.R. NO. 192769] LIZA L. MAZA AND SATURNINO C. OCAMPO, PETITIONERS, VS. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND JUAN MIGUEL "MIKEY" ARROYO, RESPONDENTS. [G.R. NO. 192832] BAYAN MUNA PARTY-LIST, REPRESENTED BY TEODORO CASINO, PETITIONER, VS. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND JUAN MIGUEL "MIKEY" ARROYO OF ANG GALING PINOY PARTY-LIST, RESPONDENTS.

  • [A.M. No. P-09-2638 (Formerly A.M. No. 09-4-68-MTC), December 07 : 2010] OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, COMPLAINANT, VS. JULIET C. BANAG, CLERK OF COURT AND MS. EVELYN R. GALVEZ, INTERPRETER AND FORMER OFFICER-IN-CHARGE CLERK OF COURT, BOTH OF THE MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT, PLARIDEL, BULACAN, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 178652, December 08 : 2010] SPOUSES REVELO VILLAMAR AND CORAZON PENULIAR- VILLAMAR, PETITIONERS, VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT.

  • [A. M. No. P-10-2825 : December 07, 2010] DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, REPRESENTED BY ATTY. BENILDA A. TEJADA, PETITIONER, VS. CLERK OF COURT VI LUNINGNING Y. CENTRON AND SHERIFF IV ALEJANDRO L. TOBILLO, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 39, CALAPAN CITY, ORIENTAL MINDORO, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 168325 : December 08, 2010] ROBERTO D. TUAZON, PETITIONER, VS. LOURDES Q. DEL ROSARIO-SUAREZ, CATALINA R. SUAREZ-DE LEON, WILFREDO DE LEON, MIGUEL LUIS S. DE LEON, ROMMEL LEE S. DE LEON, AND GUILLERMA L. SANDICO-SILVA, AS ATTORNEY-IN-FACT OF THE DEFENDANTS, EXCEPT LOURDES Q. DEL ROSARIO-SUAREZ, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 183824 : December 08, 2010] MYRNA P. ANTONE, PETITIONER, VS. LEO R. BERONILLA, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 174006 : December 08, 2010] BANK OF COMMERCE AND STEPHEN Z. TAALA, PETITIONERS, VS. SPOUSES ANDRES AND ELIZA FLORES, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 185371 : December 08, 2010] COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, PETITIONER, VS. METRO STAR SUPERAMA, INC., RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 179948 : December 08, 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, APPELLEE, VS. EMINIANO BARCELA Y MEDINA, APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 188855 : December 08, 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. RUEL TAMANO Y PASIA, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 188855 : December 08, 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. RUEL TAMANO Y PASIA, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 178774 : December 08, 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, APPELLEE, VS. MARLYN P. BACOS, APPELLANT.

  • [A.M. No. RTJ-06-1999 (FORMERLY OCA IPI NO. 03-1903-RTJ) : December 08, 2010] BANGKO SENTRAL NG PILIPINAS, COMPLAINANT, VS. EXECUTIVE JUDGE ENRICO A. LANZANAS, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 7, MANILA, CLERK OF COURT JENNIFER DELA CRUZ-BUENDIA AND DEPUTY SHERIFF CARMELO V. CACHERO, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, OFFICE OF THE CLERK OF COURT, MANILA, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 170729 : December 08, 2010] ENRIQUE AGRAVIADOR Y ALUNAN, PETITIONER, VS. ERLINDA AMPARO-AGRAVIADOR AND REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 168840 : December 08, 2010] ENRIQUE MIGUEL L. LACSON, PETITIONER, VS. MJ LACSON DEVELOPMENT COMPANY, INC., RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 190231 : December 08, 2010] ASIA UNITED BANK AND ABRAHAM CO, PETITIONERS, VS. GOODLAND COMPANY, INC., RESPONDENT.

  • [A.M. No. RTJ-10-2253 (FORMERLY A.M. OCA IPI NO. 02-1557-RTJ) : December 08, 2010] ATTY. PERSEVERANDA L. RICON, CLERK OF COURT, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 39, MANILA, COMPLAINANT, VS. JUDGE PLACIDO C. MARQUEZ, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 40, MANILA, RESPONDENT. [A.M. NO. P-06-2138 (FORMERLY A.M. OCA IPI NO. 05-2208-P)] JUDGE PLACIDO C. MARQUEZ, COMPLAINANT, VS. ATTY. PERSEVERANDA L. RICON, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 172316 : December 08, 2010] SPOUSES JOSE CHUA AND MARGARITA CHUA, PETITIONERS, VS. THE HONORABLE PEDRO GUTIERREZ, IN HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDING JUDGE OF BRANCH 119, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, PASAY CITY, PEDRO A. ABADILLA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SHERIFF IV OF BRANCH 119, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, PASAY CITY, AND TAN TEK SING, A.K.A. PETER TAN, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 189366 : December 08, 2010] PHILIPPINE LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE COMPANY, PETITIONER, VS. EUSEBIO M. HONRADO, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 172139 : December 08, 2010] JOCELYN M. TOLEDO, PETITIONER, VS. MARILOU M. HYDEN, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 186027 : December 08, 2010] REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, PETITIONER, VS. MERLYN MERCADERA THROUGH HER ATTORNEY-IN-FACT, EVELYN M. OGA, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 169718 : December 13, 2010] DANTE HERNANDEZ DATU, PETITIONER, VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. Nos. 163293 & 163297 : December 13, 2010] EQUITABLE PCI BANK (NOW BANCO DE ORO UNIBANK, INC.), PETITIONER, VS. CASTOR A. DOMPOR, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 192187 : December 13, 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. ALEX LINGASA, JORGE BI-AY, AND "JOHN DOE," ACCUSED, ELISEO BI-AY, JR. Y SARINTAS ALIAS "GIDEON," ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 191366 : December 13, 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. ARNOLD MARTINEZ Y ANGELES, EDGAR DIZON Y FERRER, REZIN MARTINEZ Y CAROLINO, AND RAFAEL GONZALES Y CUNANAN, ACCUSED-APPELLANTS.

  • [G.R. No. 164695 : December 13, 2010] HEIRS OF JOSE BARREDO, NAMELY, LOLITA BARREDO, ANNALIZA BARREDO AND MARICHU BARREDO-EPE, REPRESENTED BY MARICHU BARREDO-EPE, PETITIONERS, VS. LAVOISER BESA├ĹES, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 168692 : December 13, 2010] FRANCISCO TAYCO, SUBSTITUTED BY LUCRESIA TAYCO AND NOEL TAYCO, PETITIONERS, VS. HEIRS OF CONCEPCION TAYCO-FLORES, NAMELY: LUCELI F. DIAZ, RONELE F. BESA, MONELE FLORES, PERLA FLORES, RUPERTO FLORES, WENCESLAO FLORES, PURISIMA FLORES, AND FELIPE FLORES, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. Nos. 170542-43 : December 13, 2010] ANTONIO A. ABOC, PETITIONER, VS. METROPOLITAN BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, RESPONDENT. [G.R. No. 176460] METROPOLITAN BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, PETITIONER, VS. ANTONIO A. ABOC, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 177779 : December 14, 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, APPELLEE, VS. FELIPE NACHOR Y OMAYAN, APPELLANT.

  • [A. M. No. P-10-2833 : December 14, 2010] RETIRED EMPLOYEE, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT, SIBONGA, CEBU, COMPLAINANT, VS. MERLYN G. MANUBAG, CLERK OF COURT II, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT, SIBONGA, CEBU, RESPONDENT.

  • [A.M. No. 09-5-2-SC : December 14, 2010] IN THE MATTER OF THE BREWING CONTROVERSIES IN THE ELECTION IN THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, [A.C. NO. 8292] ATTYS. MARCIAL M. MAGSINO, MANUEL M. MARAMBA AND NASSER MAROHOMSALIC, COMPLAINANTS, VS. ATTYS. ROGELIO A. VINLUAN, ABELARDO C. ESTRADA, BONIFACIO T. BARANDON, JR., EVERGISTO S. ESCALON AND RAYMUND JORGE A. MERCADO, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 149548 : December 14, 2010] ROXAS & COMPANY, INC., PETITIONER, VS. DAMBA-NFSW AND THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM, RESPONDENTS. [G.R. NO. 167505] DAMAYAN NG MGA MANGGAGAWANG BUKID SA ASYENDA ROXAS-NATIONAL FEDERATION OF SUGAR WORKERS (DAMBA-NFSW), PETITIONER, VS. SECRETARY OF THE DEPT. OF AGRARIAN REFORM, ROXAS & CO., INC. AND/OR ATTY. MARIANO AMPIL, RESPONDENTS. [G.R. NO. 167540] KATIPUNAN NG MGA MAGBUBUKID SA HACIENDA ROXAS, INC. (KAMAHARI), ET AL., PETITIONERS, VS. SECRETARY OF THE DEPT. OF AGRARIAN REFORM, ROXAS & CO., INC., RESPONDENTS. [G.R. NO. 167543] DEPARTMENT OF LAND REFORM, FORMERLY DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM (DAR), PETITIONER, VS.ROXAS & CO, INC., RESPONDENT. [G.R. NO. 167845] VS. ROXAS & CO., INC., PETITIONER, VS. DAMBA-NFSW, RESPONDENT. [G.R. NO. 169163] DAMBA-NFSW REPRESENTED BY LAURO V. MARTIN, PETITIONER, VS. ROXAS & CO., INC., RESPONDENT. [G.R. NO. 179650] DAMBA-NFSW, PETITIONER, VS. ROXAS & CO., INC., RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 178030 : December 15, 2010] PHILIPPINE FISHERIES DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (PFDA), PETITIONER, VS. CENTRAL BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS, LOCAL BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS OF LUCENA CITY, CITY OF LUCENA, LUCENA CITY ASSESSOR AND LUCENA CITY TREASURER, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 189841 : December 15, 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, APPELLEE, VS. EFREN DITONA Y MONTEFALCON, BERNARD FERNANDEZ AND ERNESTO EMNAS, ACCUSED. EFREN DITONA Y MONTEFALCON, APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 188560 : December 15, 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. RICKY ALFREDO Y NORMAN, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 188901 : December 15, 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. GILBERT CASTRO Y AGUILAR, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 189776 : December 15, 2010] AMELIA P. ARELLANO, REPRESENTED BY HER DULY APPOINTED GUARDIANS, AGNES P. ARELLANO AND NONA P. ARELLANO, PETITIONER, VS. FRANCISCO PASCUAL AND MIGUEL PASCUAL, RESPONDENTS.BR

  • [G.R. No. 149433 : December 15, 2010] THE COCA-COLA EXPORT CORPORATION, PETITIONER, VS. CLARITA P. GACAYAN, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 182147 : December 15, 2010] ARNEL U. TY, MARIE ANTONETTE TY, JASON ONG, WILLY DY, AND ALVIN TY, PETITIONERS, VS. NBI SUPERVISING AGENT MARVIN E. DE JEMIL, PETRON GASUL DEALERS ASSOCIATION, AND TOTALGAZ DEALERS ASSOCIATION, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 177355 : December 15, 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. MONTANO FLORES Y PARAS, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 152086 : December 15, 2010] FEDERICO SORIANO, CIPRIANO BAUTISTA, JOSE TORALBA, CILODONIO TANTAY, MARIANO BRAVO, ROLANDO TORALBA, FAUSTINO BRAVO, CRISTINA TORALBA, BENJAMIN LACAYANGA, ROSALIA TANTAY, GABRIEL DELA VEGA, ROGELIO BRAVO, AND ROMEO TANTAY, REPRESENTED BY THEIR ATTORNEY-IN-FACT, TEODORICO GAMBA, PETITIONERS, VS. ANA SHARI B. BRAVO, REBECCA BENITO, JOHN MEJIA, MILA BRAVO, BENITO BRAVO, ERNESTO BRAVO, JOSE ISRAEL BRAVO, JUANA BRAVO, DARAB CENTRAL, AND THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, FORMER FIFTH DIVISION, RESPONDENTS.

  • [A.M. No. RTJ-06-2015 (Formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 05-2348-RTJ) : December 15, 2010] ATTY. NORLINDA R. AMANTE-DESCALLAR, PETITIONER, VS. HON. REINERIO (ABRAHAM) B. RAMAS, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 162575 : December 15, 2010] BEATRIZ SIOK PING TANG, PETITIONER, VS. SUBIC BAY DISTRIBUTION, INC., RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 172841 : December 15, 2010] RENATO REYES, REPRESENTED BY RAMON REYES, PETITIONER, VS. LEOPOLDO BARRIOS, SUBSTITUTED BY LUCIA MANALUS-BARRIOS, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 179395 : December 15, 2010] MAXWELL HEAVY EQUIPMENT CORPORATION, PETITIONER, VS. ERIC UYCHIAOCO YU, RESPONDENT.

  • [A.M. No. P-07-2383 : December 15, 2010] CRISPIN SARMIENTO, COMPLAINANT, VS. LUISITO P. MENDIOLA, SHERIFF III, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 20, MANILA, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 167363 : December 15, 2010] SEALOADER SHIPPING CORPORATION, PETITIONER, VS. GRAND CEMENT MANUFACTURING CORPORATION, JOYCE LAUNCH & TUG CO., INC., ROMULO DIANTAN & JOHNNY PONCE, RESPONDENTS. [G.R. NO. 177466] TAIHEIYO CEMENT PHILIPPINES, INC. (FORMERLY GRAND CEMENT MANUFACTURING CORPORATION), PETITIONER, VS. SEALOADER SHIPPING CORPORATION, JOYCE LAUNCH & TUG CO., INC., ROMULO DIANTAN & JOHNNY PONCE, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 149261 : December 15, 2010] AZUCENA B. CORPUZ, PETITIONER, VS. ROMAN G. DEL ROSARIO, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 174833 : December 15, 2010] MYRNA P. MAGANA, PETITIONER, VS. MEDICARD PHILIPPINES, INC., AND COURT OF APPEALS, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 182229 : December 15, 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, APPELLEE, VS. JUN-JUN ASUELA, APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 165266 : December 15, 2010] AIR FRANCE, PETITIONER, VS. BONIFACIO H. GILLEGO, SUBSTITUTED BY HIS SURVIVING HEIRS REPRESENTED BY DOLORES P. GILLEGO, RESPONDENT.

  • [A.M. No. P-10-2753 [FORMERLY A.M. OCA IPI NO. 09-3088-P] : December 15, 2010] DONNABELLE D. RUBEN, COMPLAINANT, VS. RAMIL L. ABON, UTILITY WORKER I, RESPONDENT,

  • [G.R. No. 157852 : December 15, 2010] HEIRS OF DOMINGO VALIENTES, PETITIONERS, VS. HON. REINERIO (ABRAHAM) B. RAMAS, ACTING PRESIDING JUDGE, RTC, BRANCH 29, 9TH JUDICIAL REGION, SAN MIGUEL, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR AND VILMA V. MINOR, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 173326 : December 15, 2010] SOUTH COTABATO COMMUNICATIONS CORPORATION AND GAUVAIN J. BENZONAN, PETITIONERS, VS. HON. PATRICIA A. STO. TOMAS, SECRETARY OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT, ROLANDO FABRIGAR, MERLYN VELARDE, VINCE LAMBOC, FELIPE GALINDO, LEONARDO MIGUEL, JULIUS RUBIN, EDEL RODEROS, MERLYN COLIAO AND EDGAR JOPSON, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 173081 : December 15, 2010] ERNESTO MARCELO, JR. AND LAURO LLAMES, PETITIONERS, VS. RAFAEL R. VILLORDON, ASSISTANT CITY PROSECUTOR OF QUEZON CITY, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 180979 : December 15, 2010] NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION, PETITIONER, VS. TERESITA DIATO-BERNAL, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 182645 : December 15, 2010] IN THE MATTER OF THE HEIRSHIP (INTESTATE ESTATES) OF THE LATE HERMOGENES RODRIGUEZ, ANTONIO RODRIGUEZ, MACARIO J. RODRIGUEZ, DELFIN RODRIGUEZ, AND CONSUELO M. RODRIGUEZ AND SETTLEMENT OF THEIR ESTATES, RENE B. PASCUAL, PETITIONER, VS. JAIME M. ROBLES, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 173798 : December 15, 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. RENE CELOCELO, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 171717 : December 15, 2010] RAMON B. BRITO, SR., PETITIONER, VS. SEVERINO D. DIANALA, VIOLETA DIANALA SALES, JOVITA DIANALA DEQUINTO, ROSITA DIANALA, CONCHITA DIANALA AND JOEL DEQUINTO, RESPONDENTS.BR>

  • [A.C. No. 7907 : December 15, 2010] SPOUSES VIRGILIO AND ANGELINA ARANDA, PETITIONERS, VS. ATTY. EMMANUEL F. ELAYDA, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 184177 : December 15, 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. ANDRES C. FONTILLAS ALIAS "ANDING," ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 188637 : December 15, 2010] ARNALDO G. GABUNAS, SR., PETITIONER, VS. SCANMAR MARITIME SERVICES INC., MR. VICENTE BRILLANTES AND IUM SHIP MANAGEMENT, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. Nos. 169965-66 : December 15, 2010] CARLOS V. VALENZUELA, PETITIONER, VS. CALTEX PHILIPPINES, INC., RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. Nos. 169965-66 : December 15, 2010] CARLOS V. VALENZUELA, PETITIONER, VS. CALTEX PHILIPPINES, INC., RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 174570 : December 15, 2010] ROMER SY TAN, PETITIONER, VS. SY TIONG GUE, FELICIDAD CHAN SY, SY CHIM, SY TIONG SAN, SY YU BUN, SY YU SHIONG, SY YU SAN, AND BRYAN SY LIM, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 182367 : December 15, 2010] CHERRYL B. DOLINA, PETITIONER, VS. GLENN D. VALLECERA, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 189301 : December 15, 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. JOSE PEPITO D. COMBATE A.K.A. "PEPING," ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

  • [G.R. No. 186091 : December 15, 2010] EMMANUEL BABAS, DANILO T. BANAG, ARTURO V. VILLARIN, SR., EDWIN JAVIER, SANDI BERMEO, REX ALLESA, MAXIMO SORIANO, JR., ARSENIO ESTORQUE, AND FELIXBERTO ANAJAO, PETITIONERS, VS. LORENZO SHIPPING CORPORATION, RESPONDENT

  • [G.R. No. 152423 : December 15, 2010] SPOUSES MARCOS R. ESMAQUEL AND VICTORIA SORDEVILLA, PETITIONERS, VS. MARIA COPRADA, RESPONDENT.

  • [G.R. No. 174251 : December 15, 2010] RAUL PALOMATA, PETITIONER, VS. NESTOR COLMENARES AND TERESA GURREA, RESPONDENTS.

  • [G.R. No. 175595 : July 28, 2010] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. TEDDY MAGAYON, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.