Memo to fellow lawyers and the IBP

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - March 3, 2021 - 12:00am

Now that all the chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines have elected their respective new set of officers, may I remind all lawyers in the country of the Canons of Professional Responsibility, and one of our most important subjects, Legal and Judicial Ethics. I teach this subject, aside from my main special focus on Labor Laws, to future lawyers and it’s my moral duty to remind all my brothers and sisters in the Bar. The IBP may wish to stress the importance of our canons to uphold the dignity of the Bar and save lawyers from disbarment.

I have written and published a 1113-page book titled “Molding the Character of Great Filipino Lawyers”, which my publisher called the ultimate compendium in legal and judicial ethics. It features Pope Francis' nuggets of wisdom on laws, lawyers, and judges. It also banners the famous speech of Justice Marvic Leonen in 2020 to the new lawyers who passed the 2019 Bar and took their oath, via digital platform, last year. My book also includes inspiring speeches of the Supreme Court’s most senior associate justice, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, US Justice David Souter's address to Harvard University graduates, Atty. Michelle Obama's speech to the graduating George Washington University Law students, and former president Bill Clinton's commencement address to Yale graduates. There are more, including the speech of John Grisham, author of “A Time to Kill”, “The Firm”, “The Client” and other best-selling legal fictions.

In my book, I also wrote about the lives of all the nine Philippine presidents who were lawyers, including Manuel L. Quezon, Sergio Osmeña Sr., Jose P. Laurel, Manuel A Roxas, Elpidio Qurino, Carlos P. Garcia, Diosdado Macapagal, Ferdinand Marcos, and Rodrigo Duterte. Also included were the Philippine vice presidents who were lawyers. Aside from Sergio Osmeña Sr., Elpidio Quirino, Carlos P. Garcia and Diosdado Macapagal, were Emmanuel Pelaez, Salvador Laurel, Teofisto Guingona III, Jejomar Binay, and Ma Leonora Robredo. This book is an inspiration to be lawyers of integrity, decency, fidelity, and excellence.

It also contains a stern warning against wayward behavior of some lawyers. The book has thousands of Supreme Court decisions on disbarment and suspension of lawyers. Last July 14, 2020, the Supreme Court ordered the disbarment of two lawyers, husband and wife, in AC 11118 for dishonesty and gross misconduct involving a real estate transaction worth P4 million. On June 23, 2020, another lawyer who was earlier disciplined for immorality in AC 6313 was disbarred in AC 12103 for filing multiple pleadings to delay the resolution of the case. Another lawyer was disbarred in AC 5314 on June 23, 2020 for refusal to return the money to his client. Still another lawyer was also disbarred on March 10, 2020, in AC 12418, for impersonating another person. And one more lawyer was disbarred on February 26, 2020 in AC 12085 for committing fraud, duress, and intimidation. On February 18, 2020, in AC 12452, a lawyer was disbarred for refusing to pay a party venue P200,000.

Too many disbarments and there are many more. On February 18, 2020, a lawyer was disbarred in AC 7253 for multiple violations of the canons. On January 7, 2020, a married lothario lawyer was disbarred in AC 9459, for having an adulterous relationship with a married woman. On December 3, 2019, another lawyer was disbarred in AC 11583 for serious violation of the notarial law and for using fraudulent documents. For multiple violations of the canons, one lawyer was disbarred on AC 12318, on October 15, 2019. A lawyer was disbarred in AC 7607, for insisting to continue practicing in court despite her earlier suspension. Another great lover, a married lawyer was disbarred on October 1, 2019 in AC 7733 for abandoning his wife and children and for cohabiting with another woman. Another lawyer abandoned his wife in AC 10439, on September 3, 2019 and maintained illicit affairs. There are many more.

Ninety-nine percent of lawyers are honest, decent, ethical, and honorable. But a few bad eggs are destroying the reputation of all members of the Bar. It’s time for the IBP to police their own ranks, to rid our noble profession of all shenanigans and condemn the notoriously undesirable members of the IBP. Let’s show all and sundry that we are men and women of dignity, integrity, and excellence. No ifs, no buts. No exceptions, no reservations. The law may be harsh but we heed to uphold it.

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