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A.M. No. 09-5-2-SC - In the matter of the Brewing Controversies in the Election of the IBP; Attys. Marcial M. Magsino, et al. v. Attys. Rogelio A. Vinluan, et al.

A.M. No. 09-5-2-SC - In the matter of the Brewing Controversies in the Election of the IBP; Attys. Marcial M. Magsino, et al. v. Attys. Rogelio A. Vinluan, et al.

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

A.M. No. 09-5-2-SC : April 11, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF THE BREWING CONTROVERSIES IN THE ELECTIONS OF THE INTEGRA TED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES.

A.C. No. 8292

ATTYS. MARCIAL M. MAGSINO, MANUEL M. MARAMBA and NASSER MARAHOMSALIC, Complainants, v.ATTYS. ROGELIO A. VINLUAN, ABELARDO C. ESTRADA, BONIFACIO T. BARANDON, JR., EVERGISTO S. ESCALON, and REYMUND JORGE A. MERCADO, Respondents.

R E S O L U T I O N

MENDOZA, J.:

The Court, exercising its power of supervision over the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), resolves this matter of the election of the Executive Vice-President (EVP) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for the 2011-2013 term.

This administrative matter was triggered by the Petition for Intervention filed by petitioner-intervenor IBP-Southern Luzon Region (IBP-Southern Luzon), seeking a declaration that the post of EVP-IBP for the 2011-2013 term be held open to all regions and that it is qualified to field a candidate for the said position.

This matter comes at the heels of the controversies resolved by the Court in its December 4, 2012 Resolution regarding the application of the rotation rule in determining which chapter of the IBP-Western Visayas region (IBP-Western Visayas) was qualified to field a candidate for the position of governor. In the said resolution, the Court clarified that the rotation rule was one by exclusion. Similar to this recently resolved controversy, the present dilemma calls for the application of the rotation system at the national level.

The Factual Antecedents

To understand the nature of the controversy and the issues presented for resolution, an examination of the structure of the IBP and its history is in order.

In 1973, the Philippine Bar was integrated1 to elevate the standards of the legal profession, to improve the administration of justice and to enable it to discharge its public responsibility more effectively.2 Governing the IBP was the IBP Board of Governors (IBP-BOG), consisting of the governors from each of the nine (9) geographic regions of the archipelago,3 namely: Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, Greater Manila, Bicolandia, Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, Eastern Mindanao, and Western Mindanao.4 The governors of the IBP-BOG are, in turn, elected by the House of Delegates which consists of members duly apportioned among the chapters of each region.5chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

At the helm of the IBP is the IBP National President (IBP-President),6 who is automatically succeeded by the EVP. When the Philippine Bar was first integrated, both the IBP-President and the EVP were elected by the IBP-BOG from among themselves or from other members of the Integrated Bar,7 with the right of automatic succession by the EVP to the presidency for the next succeeding full term. The presidency rotated among all the nine regions in such order as the IBP-BOG had prescribed.8 Both the IBP-President and the EVP held a term of one (1) year, with the presidency rotating from year to year among the regions.9chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

On November 1, 1974, the IBP By-Laws took effect, providing that the IBP-President and the EVP be chosen by the Board of Governors from among nine (9) regional governors, as much as practicable, on a rotation basis.10 It was also provided that the IBP-President and the EVP hold office for a term of two (2) years from July 1 following their election until June 30 of their second year in office and until their successors shall have been duly chosen and qualified.11chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Later, several amendments in the IBP By-Laws were introduced, among which were the provisions relating to the election of its national officers. In Bar Matter No. 287, dated July 9, 1985, the Court approved the recommendation allowing the IBP-President, the EVP and the officers of the House of Delegates to be directly elected by the House of Delegates.12chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Unfortunately, history recalls that this mode of electing the IBP national officers was marred with unethical politicking, electioneering and other distasteful practices. Thus, on October 6, 1989, the Court in Bar Matter No. 491, dated October 6, 1989, ordered: 1] the annulment of the just concluded national elections; 2] the abolition of the system of election of national officers by direct action of the House of Delegates; 3] the restoration of the former system of having the IBP-President and the EVP elected by the IBP-BOG from among themselves, with right of succession by the EVP to the presidency and subject to the rule that "the position of Executive Vice President of the IBP shall be rotated among the nine (9) IBP regions;"13 4] the holding of special elections for the election of the first set of IBP-President and EVP;14 and 5] the appointment of a caretaker board to administer the affairs of the IBP pending the holding of special elections.15chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

In the same Bar Matter No. 491, the Court ordered the amendment of Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-laws, to read:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

SEC. 47. National Officers. - The Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall have a President and Executive Vice President to be chosen by the Board of Governors from among nine (9) regional governors, as much as practicable, on a rotation basis. 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 to be appointed by the President with the consent of the Board. (As amended pursuant to Bar Matter No. 491)

The Executive Vice President shall automatically become President for the next succeeding term. The Presidency shall rotate among the nine Regions.16 [Emphasis supplied]

Following the rotation system just ordered, the following individuals representing the different regions of the IBP served as IBP-President:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

1.Eugene Tan (Capiz)Western VisayasJanuary 28, 1990-April 199117
2.Numeriano Tanopo, Jr.
(Pangasinan)
Central LuzonApril 1991-June 30, 1991
3.Mervin Encanto
(Quezon City)
Greater Manila1993-1995
4.Raoul R. Angangco
(Makati)
Southern Luzon1995-1997
5.Jose Aguila Grapilon
(Biliran)
Eastern Visayas1997-1999
6.Arthur Lim
(Zambasulta)
Western Mindanao1999-2001
7.Teofilo Pilando, Jr.
(Kalinga Apayao)
Northern Luzon2001-2003
8.Jose Anselmo Cadiz
(Camarines Sur)
Bicolandia2003-2005

On January 27, 1999, in Velez v. de Vera,18 reasoning that the rotation system applied only to the EVP, the Court considered the election of then EVP Leonard De Vera (De Vera), representing the Eastern Mindanao region, as one completing the first rotational cycle and affirmed the election of Jose Vicente B. Salazar (Salazar) of the Bicolandia region as EVP. The Court explained that the rotational cycle would have been completed with the succession of EVP De Vera, representing Eastern Mindanao as IBP-President. For having misappropriated his clients' funds and committing acts inimical to the IBP-BOG and the IBP in general, De Vera was removed as governor of Eastern Mindanao and as EVP, and his removal was affirmed by the Court.

Thus, Salazar became IBP-President for the 2005-2007 term with Feliciano Bautista (Bautista) of Central Luzon as EVP. The term of Salazar was the start of the second rotational cycle. Bautista eventually succeeded to the IBP presidency with Atty. Rogelio Vinluan (Vinluan) as his EVP.

In 2009, however, the national and regional IBP elections were again tainted with numerous controversies, which were resolved by the Court in its December 14, 2010 Resolution,19 in the following manner:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court resolves that:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

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;cralawlibrary

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;cralawlibrary

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;cralawlibrary

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.

Attempts to seek reconsideration of the Court's resolution were denied by the Court in its Resolution, dated February 8, 2011.20chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Despite Bar Matter No. 491 and Velez,21 which recognized the operational fact that the rotation was from the position of President to that of the EVP, Section 47 was not immediately amended to reflect the official position of the Court. It was only amended through the December 14, 2010 Resolution.22 Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws now reads:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

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.

In the special elections that were held thereafter, Roan I. Libarios (Libarios), representing IBP-Eastern Mindanao Region, was elected EVP and he later on succeeded as president.

On April 27, 2011, the IBP-BOG, acting on the letter of then Gov. Erwin M. Fortunato (Fortunato) of IBP-Western Visayas requested that the Court provide guidance on how it would proceed with the application of the rotational rule in the regional elections for governor of IBP-Western Visayas.23chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

On December 4, 2012, the Court issued a resolution24 addressing the issues with respect to the election of governor for IBP-Western Visayas. In clarifying that the rotational rule was one by exclusion, the Court explained that in the election of governor of a region, all chapters of the region should be given the opportunity to have their nominees elected as governor, to the exclusion of those chapters that had already served in the rotational cycle. Once a rotational cycle would be completed, all chapters of a region, except the chapter which won in the immediately preceding elections, could once again have the equal opportunity to vie for the position of governor of their region. The chapter that won in the immediately preceding election, under the rotational cycle just completed, could only vie for the position of governor after the election of the first governor in the new cycle.

The Current Controversy

Earlier, on July 27, 2012, IBP-Southern Luzon filed its Motion for Leave to Intervene and to Admit the Attached Petition In Intervention25 and the subject Petition In Intervention,26 seeking a declaration that the post of EVP for the 2011-2013 term be held open to all regions and that it be qualified to nominate a candidate for the position of EVP for the 2011-2013 term.

The Petition in Intervention was, in turn, opposed by Fortunato,27 who insisted that IBP-Western Visayas was the only region that could vie for the position of EVP for the 2011-2013 term.

In the December 4, 2012 Resolution, the Court deferred its action on the intervention sought by the IBP-Southern Luzon and required the IBP-BOG to submit its comment.28chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

In its Comment, dated January 2, 2013, the IBP-BOG prayed that the "IBP-Southern Luzon be allowed to nominate a candidate for EVP for the 2011-2013 term, without prejudice to the right of other regions except IBP-Eastern Mindanao, to do the same."29chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The opposition of Fortunato to the subject petition in intervention of IBP-Southern Luzon was joined by his successor, Marlou B. Ubano (Ubano), Gov. Manuel L. Enage, Jr. of IBP-Eastern Visayas,30 and the members of the House of Delegates of IBP-Western Visayas.31 Nasser A. Marohomsalic (Marohomsalic),32 one of the original parties in this case, Gov. Leonor Gernoa-Romeo33 of IBP-Bicolandia, and the IBP-BOG34 likewise filed their respective comments.

Position of IBP-Southern Luzon

In support of its bid to qualify in the election for EVP for the 2011-2013 term, IBP-Southern Luzon takes the following positions:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

● In view of the Court's resolution to bar its representative, Vinluan, from succeeding as IBP-President for the 2009-2011 term, the IBP-Southern Luzon was effectively deprived of its right to the IBP presidency.35chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

● With the election of Eugene A. Tan as IBP-President (January 29, 1990-April 1991), IBP-Western Visayas should no longer be allowed to field a candidate in the forthcoming election for EVP.36chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

● As he was just elected on January 5, 2013, Ubano cannot be considered qualified to seek the position of EVP cum IBP-President due to his lack of experience.37chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Position of IBP-Western Visayas

For its part, IBP-Western Visayas advances the following arguments in support of its position that it is the only region qualified to field a candidate for EVP for the 2011-2013 term:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

● The Petition in Intervention of IBP-Southern Luzon should not be entertained as it would be contrary to Section 2, Rule 19, it being filed following the finality of the December 14, 2010 Resolution of the Court.38chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

● With the term of current IBP-President Libarios coming to an end, IBP-Western Visayas is the only region left qualified to field a candidate for EVP, pursuant to the December 14, 2010 Resolution of the Court.39chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

● The IBP Southern Luzon had already taken its turn in the rotation system following the election of Vinluan as EVP (2007-2009) and Raoul R. Angangco (Angangco) who also served as EVP during the 1995-1997 term.40chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

● The election of Eugene Tan cannot be considered as part of the current rotation as he was elected following the special elections held as a result of the October 6, 1989 Resolution of the Court.

Synthesized, the core issues that must be addressed for the resolution of the Court are the following:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

A. Whether the motion for intervention of IBP-Southern Luzon can be allowed and admitted.

B. Whether the first rotational cycle was completed with the election of Atty. Leonard De Vera.

C. Whether IBP-Southern Luzon has already served in the current rotation.

D. Whether the IBP-Western Visayas has already served in the current rotation.

The Motion for Intervention Should be Allowed and Admitted

There is no dispute that the Constitution has empowered the Supreme Court to promulgate rules concerning "the integrated bar."41 Pursuant thereto, the Court wields a continuing power of supervision over the IBP and its affairs like the elections of its officers. The current controversy has been precipitated by the petition in intervention of IBP-Southern Luzon, praying that the election of the EVP for the 2011-2013 term be opened to all and that it be considered as qualified to field a candidate for the said position.

In the exercise of its continuing supervisory power, the Court is allowing the matter to be raised as an issue because it has not yet been squarely settled, as will be pointed out later on. Moreover, it is not only an exercise of its constitutional and statutory mandated duty, but also of its symbolic function of providing guiding principles, precepts and doctrines42 for the purpose of steering the members of the bench and the bar to the proper path.

It should be noted that this is merely an administrative matter, a bar matter to be specific, where technical rules are not strictly applied. In fact, in administrative cases, there is no rule regarding entry of judgment. Where there is no entry of judgment, finality and immutability do not come into play. On several occasions, the Court has re-opened administrative cases and modified its decisions that had long attained finality in the interest of justice. A recent example is Talens-Dabon v. Judge Arceo,43 where the Court lifted the ban against the disqualification of the respondent from re-employment in government. In Re: Letter of Judge Augustus C. Diaz, Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 37, Appealing for Clemency,44 the Court granted clemency so the respondent could transfer to a higher position. In Petition for Judicial Clemency of Judge Irma Zita v. Masamayor,45 the respondent was given judicial clemency for her past administrative offenses so she could apply for a lateral transfer.

At any rate, granting that technical rules are strictly applied in administrative matters, the Court can exercise its power and prerogative to suspend its own rules and to exempt a case from their operation if and when justice requires it. "The power to suspend or even disregard rules of procedure can be so pervasive and compelling as to alter even that which this Court itself had already declared final."46chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The First Rotational Cycle Already Completed

As earlier recited, Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws was amended in the December 14, 2010 Resolution47 of the Court to read as follows:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

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.

From the above, it is clear that the amendment was effected to underscore the shift of the rotation from the position of president to that of EVP. The purpose of the system being to ensure that all the regions will have an equal opportunity to serve as EVP and then automatically succeed as president.

As previously mentioned, in Velez,48 the Court stated that the rotation system applies to the election of the EVP only and considered the service of then EVP De Vera, representing the Eastern Mindanao region, as having completed the first rotational cycle. For said reason, the Court affirmed the election of Salazar of Bicolandia as EVP. The Court explained that the rotation cycle with respect to the presidency would have been completed with the succession of EVP De Vera as IBP-President. The specific words used in Velez49 were:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

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.

The notion that the ruling in Velez50 should not be considered at all by the Court because it is barred by the Omnibus Motion Rule deserves scant consideration. It may have been earlier overlooked, but the Court is not barred from motu propio taking judicial notice of such judicial pronouncement, pursuant to its continuing supervisory powers over the IBP.

The Second Rotational Cycle

While there may have been no categorical pronouncement in Velez that the second rotational cycle started with the election of Salazar as EVP, it cannot be denied that it was so. With the Velez declaration that the election of De Vera as EVP completed the first cycle, there can be no other consequence except that the term of EVP Salazar commenced a new rotational cycle. From the records, it appears that the following had already served as EVP in the Second Rotational Cycle:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

1. Jose Vicente SalazarBicolandia2005
2. Feliciano M. BautistaCentral Luzon2005-2007
3. Rogelio VinluanSouthern Luzon2007-2009
4. Roan L. LibariosEastern Mindanao2009-2011

As there were only four (4) regions which had served as EVP, there are still five (5) other regions which have not yet so served. These regions are:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

1. Northern Luzon

2. Greater Manila Area

3. Eastern Visayas

4. Western Visayas

5. Western Mindanao

Needless to state, Western Visayas is not the only region that can vie for EVP for the 2011-2013 term. This answers the query of Fortunato.

With respect to IBP-Southern Luzon, following the ruling in Velez,51 it is clear that it already had its turn to serve as EVP in the Second Rotational Cycle.

The Special Committee failed to take into account the Velez ruling

In arriving at its December 14, 2010 Resolution,52 the Court then was confronted with limited issues. Among those were: 1] the validity of the election of Nasser A. Marohomsalic as governor of the IBP-Western Mindanao Region; 2] the validity of the election of Manuel M. Maramba as governor for the Greater Manila Region for the term 2009-2011; 3] the validity of the election of Erwin M. Fortunato as governor for Western Visayas Region for the term 2009-2011; and 4] the validity of the elections for EVP for the 2009-2011 term presided by then IBP-President Bautista. The four issues were intertwined since the validity of the elections presided by IBP-President Bautista was questioned on the alleged lack of quorum, as it was attended by Marohomsalic, whose own election was then also being questioned.

With those limited issues resolved, the Court directed that special elections should be held for the election of EVP for the remaining 2009-2011 term "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."53 In ordering the special elections to be conducted, the Court took into account the report of the Special Committee as follows:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

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):chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Numeriano Tanopo, Jr. (Pangasinan) --- Central Luzon ------- 1991-1993

Mervin G. Encanto (Quezon City) -------- Manila --------------- 1993-1995

Raoul 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.54chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Apparently, the report of the Special Committee failed to take into account the ruling in Velez55 that the service of then EVP Leonard De Vera, representing the Eastern Mindanao region, completed the first rotational cycle.

Thus, it committed two inaccuracies. First, it erroneously reported that "only the governors of the Western Visayas and Eastern Mindanao regions have not yet had their turn as Executive Vice President." Second, it erroneously considered Central Luzon and Bicolandia as having had two terms each in the First Rotational Cycle, when their second services were for the Second Rotational Cycle.

The unfortunate fact, however, is that the erroneous statements of the Special Committee were used as bases for the recommendation that "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."

Worse, they were cited by IBP-Western Visayas as bases to oppose the Petition in Intervention of IBP-Southern Luzon, arguing that it would be contrary to Section 2, Rule 19, it being filed following the finality of the December 14, 2010 Resolution56 of the Court.

At any rate, the statement of the Court in its December 14, 2010 Resolution57 that "only the governors of the Western Visayas and Eastern Mindanao regions have not yet had their turn as Executive Vice President," did not pertain to the lis mota of the case. Thus, it did not settle anything so as to be deemed a precedent-setting ruling. Those statements, therefore, could not be considered as overturning, vacating and setting aside the ruling in Velez58 that the service of then EVP De Vera completed the first rotational cycle.

The election of Eugene Tan As IBP President

Much has been said about the election of Eugene Tan as IBP-President. IBP-Southern Luzon argues that with his election and service as IBP-President from January 29, 1990 to April 1991, the IBP-Western Visayas should no longer be allowed to field a candidate in the forthcoming elections for the EVP.59 IBP-Western Visayas counters that his election could not be considered as part of the current rotation as he was elected following the special elections held as a result of the October 6, 1989 Resolution of the Court. It has also been argued that he merely served as Interim President.

As Velez60 declared that the election of EVP De Vera completed the first rotational cycle, it could only mean that all regions had their respective turns in the first rotational cycle. Thus, in this second rotational cycle, issues as to the nature of his election and service as IBP-President during the First Rotational Cycle are inconsequential.

At any rate, Eugene Tan could not be considered as an interim president. It was Justice Felix Antonio who was designated by the Court as Interim Caretaker until the election of the IBP-President by the elected IBP-BOG. The election of the new President and Executive Vice-President was directed by the Court itself and in no way can it be said that they served on an interim basis. Besides, at that time, under Section 47, the rotation concerned the presidency only. Section 47 was ordered to be amended only in the December 14, 2010 Resolution,61 despite Bar Matter No. 491 and Velez,62 which recognized the operational fact that the rotation was from the position of President to that of EVP.

If Eugene Tan served only up to April, 1991, it was not because he served merely in the interim. He served up to that time only because he resigned. As reflected in Bar Matter No. 565, dated October 15, 1991, Tan resigned as IBP-President when he was charged by several staff members of the IBP in a letter-complaint to the Chief Justice, with favoritism or discrimination in the hiring of officers and employees in the IBP and with extravagant and irregular expenditure of IBP funds. The Court found the acts of Eugene Tan as constituting grave abuse of authority and serious misconduct in office, which would have warranted his removal from office. Considering that he had earlier tendered his resignation as IBP-President and his term of office already expired on June 30, 1991, the Court imposed on him the penalty of severe censure only.63chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Moreover, in A.M. No. 491, the Court stressed that: "One who has served as President of the IBP may not run for election as EVP-IBP in a succeeding election until after the rotation of the presidency among the nine (9) regions shall have completed; whereupon the rotation shall begin anew."

Rotation by Exclusion

As clarified in the December 4, 2012 Resolution of the Court, the rotation should be by exclusion. In said resolution, it was stated:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Resolution of the Court

Re: IBP-Western Visayas Region

After an assiduous review of the facts, the issues and the arguments raised by the parties involved, the Court finds wisdom in the position of the IBP-BOG, through retired Justice Santiago M. Kapunan, that at the start of a new rotational cycle "all chapters are deemed qualified to vie for the governorship for the 2011-2013 term without prejudice to the chapters entering into a consensus to adopt any pre-ordained sequence in the new rotation cycle provided each chapter will have its turn in the rotation." Stated differently, the IBP-BOG recommends the adoption of the rotation by exclusion scheme. The Court quotes with approval the reasons given by the IBP-BOG on this score:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

6. After due deliberation, the Board of Governors agreed and resolved to recommend adherence to the principle of "rotation by exclusion" based on the following reasons:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

a) Election through "rotation by exclusion" is the more established rule in the IBP. The rule prescribes that once a member of the chapter is elected as Governor, his chapter would be excluded in the next turn until all have taken their turns in the rotation cycle. Once a full rotation cycle ends and a fresh cycle commences, all the chapters in the region are once again entitled to vie but subject again to the rule on rotation by exclusion.

b) Election through a "rotation by exclusion" allows for a more democratic election process. The rule provides for freedom of choice while upholding the equitable principle of rotation which assures that every member-chapter has its turn in every rotation cycle.

c) On the other hand, rotation by pre-ordained sequence, or election based on the same order as the previous cycle, tends to defeat the purpose of an election. The element of choice which is crucial to a democratic process is virtually removed. Only one chapter could vie for election at every turn as the entire sequence, from first to last, is already predetermined by the order in the previous rotation cycle. This concept of rotation by pre-ordained sequence negates freedom of choice, which is the bedrock of any democratic election process.

d) The pronouncement of the Special Committee, which the Supreme Court may have adopted in AM No. 09-5-2-SC, involving the application of the rotation rule in the previous election for GMR may not be controlling, not being one of the principal issues raised in the GMR elections.

7. Thus, applying the principle of rotation by exclusion in Western Visayas which starts with a new rotation cycle, all chapters (with the exception of Romblon) are deemed qualified to vie for the Governorship for 2011-2013 term without prejudice to the chapters entering into a consensus to adopt any pre-ordained sequence in the new rotation cycle provided each chapter will have its turn in the rotation.

The Court takes notice of the predictability of the rotation by succession scheme. Through the rotation by exclusion scheme, the elections would be more genuine as the opportunity to serve as Governor at any time is once again open to all chapters, unless, of course, a chapter has already served in the new cycle. While predictability is not altogether avoided, as in the case where only one chapter remains in the cycle, still, as previously noted by the Court "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, as applied in the IBP-Western Visayas Region, initially, all the chapters shall have the equal opportunity to vie for the position of Governor for the next cycle except Romblon, so as no chapter shall serve consecutively. Every winner shall then be excluded after its term. Romblon then joins the succeeding elections after the first winner in the cycle.64chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

As stated therein, it would be without prejudice to the regions entering into a consensus to adopt any pre-ordained sequence in the new rotation cycle, provided each region would have its turn in the rotation.

As noted by the Court in its December 4, 2012 Resolution, there is a sense of predictability in the rotation by the pre-ordained scheme. Through the rotation by exclusion scheme, the elections will be more genuine, as the opportunity to serve at any time is once again open to all, unless, of course, a region has already served in the new cycle. While predictability is not altogether avoided, as in the case where only one region remains in the cycle, still, as previously noted by the Court "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."65chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The December 14, 2010 Resolution

That the Court, in its December 14, 2010 Resolution,66 ordered the election of the EVP-IBP for the next term based on the inaccurate report of the Special Committee, is a fact. That cannot be erased. As a consequence thereof, Libarios of IBP-Eastern Mindanao is now the IBP President. He, however, is part of the second rotational cycle because 1] in Velez67 it was categorically ruled that the service of then EVP De Vera, representing the Eastern Mindanao region, completed the first rotational cycle; and 2] he could not be part of the first rotational cycle because EVP de Vera of the same region had already been elected as such.

It is to be noted that in the December 14, 2010 Resolution,68 the Court did not categorically overturn the ruling in Velez.69 It merely directed the election of the next EVP, without any reference to any rotational cycle.

To declare that the first rotational cycle as not yet completed will cause more confusion than solution. In fact, it has spawned this current controversy. To consider the service of current president, Libarios, as part of the first rotational cycle would completely ignore the ruling in Velez.70chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The Best Option: Open to All Regions

How then do we treat the turns of those who had already served in the second rotational cycle? Shall we treat them as anomalies? As aberrant developments, as Justice Brion puts it?

A remedy is to reconcile the conflicting decisions and resolutions with nothing in mind but the best interest of the IBP. It appears from the pleadings, however, that the differences are irresoluble.

To avoid the endless conflicts, confusions and controversies which have been irritably plaguing the IBP, the solution is to start another rotational round, a new cycle, open to all regions. At any rate, all regions, after the election of Libarios, would be considered as already having its turn in the presidency. This is not to detract from the fact that under Section 47, as amended, and from the pertinent rulings, the position of EVP-IBP is the one being actually rotated, but as stated in the December 14, 2010 Resolution,71 it will enable the IBP "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."

Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws should be further amended

Whatever the decision of the Court may be, to prevent future wranglings and guide the IBP in their future course of action, Section 47 and Section 49 of the IBP By-laws should again be amended. Stress should be placed on the automatic succession of the EVP to the position of the president. Surprisingly, the automatic succession does not appear in present Section 47, as ordered amended by the Court in the December 14, 2010 Resolution. It should be restored. Accordingly, Section 47 and Section 49, Article VII, are recommended to read as follows:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Sec. 47. Election of National President Executive Vice President. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall have a President, an Executive Vice President, and nine (9) regional Governors. The Governors shall be ex-officio Vice President for their respective regions.

The Board of Governors shall elect the President and Executive Vice President from among themselves each by a vote of at least five (5) Governors. Upon expiration of the term of the President, the Executive Vice-President shall automatically succeed as President.

Each region, as enumerated under Section 3, Rule 139-A of the Rules of Court, shall have the opportunity to have its representative elected as Executive Vice-President, provided that, the election for the position of Executive Vice President shall be on a strict rotation by exclusion basis. A region, whose representative has just been elected as Executive Vice President, can no longer have its representative elected for the same position in subsequent elections until after all regions have had the opportunity to be elected as such. At the end of the rotational cycle, all regions, except the region whose representative has just served the immediately preceding term, may be elected for another term as Executive Vice-President in the new rotational cycle. The region whose representative served last in the previous rotational cycle may be elected Executive Vice-President only after the first term of the new rotational cycle ends, subject once more to the rule on exclusion.

The order of rotation by exclusion shall be without prejudice to the regions entering into a consensus to adopt any pre-ordained sequence in the new rotation cycle provided each region will have its turn in the rotation.

A 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.

SEC. 49. Terms of office. - The President and the Executive Vice-President shall hold office for a term of two years from July 1 following their election until June 30 of their second year in office and until their successors shall have been duly chosen and qualified.

In the event the President is absent or unable to act, his functions and duties shall be performed by the Executive Vice President, and in the event of the death, resignation, or removal of the President, the Executive Vice President shall serve as Acting President for the unexpired portion of the term. His tenure as such shall not be considered a new turn in the rotation.

In the event of death, resignation, removal or disability of the Executive Vice President, the Board of Directors shall elect among the regions qualified to be elected as Executive Vice President to serve the unexpired portion of the term or period of disability.

In the event of the death, resignation, removal or disability of both the President and the Executive Vice President, the Board of Governors shall elect an Acting President to hold office for the unexpired portion of the term or during the period of disability. Unless otherwise provided in these By-Laws, all other officers and employees appointed by the President with the consent of the Board shall hold office at the pleasure of the Board or for such term as the Board may fix.

u>Creation of a permanent Committee for IBP Affairs

To further avoid conflicting and confusing rulings in the various IBP cases like what happened to this one, the December 14,2010 Resolution and Velez,72 it is recommended that the Court create a committee for IBP affairs to primarily attend to the problems and needs of a very important professional body and to make recommendation for its improvement and strengthening.

WHEREFORE, the Court hereby resolves to:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

1] GRANT the Motion for Leave to Intervene and to Admit the Attached Petition In Intervention;cralawlibrary

2] DECLARE that the election for the position of the EVP for the 2011-2013 term be open to all regions.

3] AMEND Section 47 and Section 49, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws to read as recommended in the body of this disposition.

4] CREATE a permanent Committee for IBP Affairs.

SO ORDERED.


Endnotes:


* No part.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

1 http://www.ibp.ph/history.html (Last visited March 6, 2013).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

2 http://www.ibp.ph/mission.html (Last visited March 6, 2013).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

3 IBP By-Laws, Article VI, Sec. 47; see also Section 7, Rule 139-A.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

4 Section 37, IBP By-Laws in relation to Section 3, Rule 139-A.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

5 Section 6, Rule 139-A.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

6 IBP By-Laws, Article VI, Sec. 50.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

7 Section 7, Rule 139-A.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

8 Id.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

9 Id.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

10 IBP By-Laws, Article VI, Section 47.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

11 IBP By-Laws, Article VI, Section 50.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

12 See Bar Matter No. 491, p. 31.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

13 Id. at 32.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

14 Id. at 34-35.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

15 Id. at 35.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

16 http://www.ibp.ph/d03.html.(Last visited: March 9, 2013).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

17 Resigned as IBP-President following charges of favoritism and discrimination; see In The Matter of the Petition to Remove Atty. Jose A. Grapilon as President, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, A.C. No. 4826, January 27, 1999 (http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/1999/apr99/ac_4826.htm; last visited March 29, 2013).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

18 528 Phil. 783, 810-812 (2006).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

19 Rollo, pp. 2998-3026.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

20 Id. at 3240-3242.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

21 Velez v. de Vera, supra note 18.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

22 Rollo, pp. 2998-3026.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

23 Id. at 3282-3286.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

24 Id. at 3522-3532.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

25 Id. at 3450-3453.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

26 Id. at 3454-3460.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

27 Id. at 3475-3486.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

28 Id. at 3531.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

29 Rollo, p. 3608ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

30 Id. at 3587-3596.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

31 Id. at 3572-3584.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

32 Id. at 3544-3553.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

33 Id. at 3599-3602.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

34 Id. at 3607-3613.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

35 Id. at 3455.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

36 Id. at 3616-3617.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

37 Id. at 3620-3622.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

38 Id. at 3490.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

39 Id. at 3492-3493.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

40 Id. at 3493-3494.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

41 Section 5(5), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

42 Salonga v. Pano, 219 Phil. 402 (1985).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

43 A.M. No. RTJ-96-1336, November 20, 2012.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

44 A.M. No. 07-7-17-SC, September 19, 2007, 533 SCRA 534.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

45 A.M. No. 12-2-6-SC, March 6, 2012, 667 SCRA 467.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

46 Keppel Cebu Shipyard, Inc. v. Pioneer Insurance and Surety Corporation, G.R. No.180880-81, September 18, 2012.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

47 Rollo, pp. 2998-3026.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

48 Velez v. de Vera, supra note 18.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

49 Id.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

50 Id.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

51 Id.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

52 Rollo, pp. 3021-3022.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

53 Id. at 2998-3026.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

54 Resolution, December 14, 2010, id. at 3021-3022.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

55 Velez v. de Vera, supra note 18.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

56 Rollo, pp. 2998-3026.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

57 Id.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

58 Velez v. de Vera, supra note 18.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

59 Rollo, pp. 3616-3617.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

60 Velez v. de Vera, supra note 18.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

61 Rollo, pp. 2998-3026.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

62 Velez v. de Vera, supra note 18.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

63 Cited in A.M. No. 4826, January 27, 1999, In The Matter of the Petition To Remove Atty. Jose A. Grapilon as President, Integrated Bar of the Philippines. (http:// sc.judiciary.gov.ph/ jurisprudence /1999/apr99/ac_4826.htm; last visited March 29, 2013).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

64 Resolution, dated December 4, 2012, rollo, pp. 3004-3005.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

65 Id. at 3019.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

66 Id. at 2998-3026.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

67 Velez v. de Vera, supra note 18.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

68 Rollo, pp. 2998-3026.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

69 Velez v. de Vera, Supra note 18.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

70 Id.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

71 Rollo, pp. 2998-3026.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

72 Velez v. de Vera, supra note 18.



DISSENTING OPINION

VELASCO, JR., J.:

Prefatory Statement

What basically is a simple incident involving nothing more than the execution of the last phase of the Court's final and executory Resolution dated December 14, 2010 on the leadership structure of the IBP has all of a sudden turned into a complex proceeding where said resolution is being revisited and sought to be revised and set aside and new matters are considered. But worse, the adverted decision is claimed to be a mistake, reasons are proffered why it should not be executed as written, and the abandonment of what it perceives to be a flawed ruling based on the faulty recommendations of the Special Committee composed of highly respected retired Justices of the Court is now proposed. Lastly, even the ruling in Velez v. De Vera1 is seen as an erroneous disposition of the rotation issue of the Executive Vice President of the IBP. The better option under the premises, I submit, is first to allow the full implementation of the Court's Decision. The Court can later form a committee to recommend measures to improve the system and then adopt measures and/or promulgate new rules that will prevent perceived matters of contusion and- complication.

An open admission that the Court committed errors or made inaccurate findings and dispositions in Velez and in the above entitled administrative matters would expose the Court to unnecessary criticism. The reversal or modification of the December 14, 2010 Resolution, without doubt, will cause irreparable damage and extreme prejudice to the Court and the entire judicial institution. Hence, this dissent.

The Case

For resolution of the Court is the "Motion for Leave to Intervene and to Admit the Attached Petition for Intervention" filed by the IBP-Southern Luzon Region (IBP-SLR) on July 24, 2012.

Proposed intervening petitioner IBP-SLR seeks to re-open, set aside and nullify the Resolution of this Court dated December 14, 2010 which declared that "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," and that the "one who is not chosen for this term shall have his turn in the next 2011-2013 term." The said Resolution, which became final in February 2011, was penned by then Chief Justice Renato C. Corona and was concurred in by seven (7) Justices (Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo D. Brion, Lucas P. Bersamin, Roberto A. Abad, Martin S. Villarama, Jr., Jose Portugal Perez and Jose Catral Mendoza). Justice Antonio T. Carpio and the undersigned cast dissenting votes, while Justices Conchita Carpio-Morales (ret.), Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura (now also retired), Diosdado M. Peralta, Mariano C. Del Castillo and Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno (now Chief Justice) inhibited from these consolidated cases.

A YEAR and FIVE MONTHS after finality of the said December 14, 2010 Resolution and despite its partial execution with the election, representing Eastern Mindanao Region for the term 2009-2011, of Atty. Roan I. Libarios (Atty. Libarios) as Executive Vice President (EVP), IBP-SLR, represented by Governor Joyas, a non-party to the instant cases, who now wants to resurrect a case in repose.

To recall, there is not a single decision or resolution of this Court that reversed or annulled its previous final decision that was not based on a motion filed within the fifteen (15)-day period from notice of said assailed decision. The cases of Apo Fruits and Keppel are not precedents to the instant cases since the affected parties thereat filed their motions for reconsideration within the 15-day period. Simply put, Apo Fruits and Keppel were "LIVE" cases when the losing parties sought reconsideration. Unlike here.

If the proposition in the ponencia that the December 14, 2010 Decision on the EVP issue should be nullified is upheld, this case will be the very first instance where the Court will make a brazen volte-face of its already final and partially executed resolution. Worse, this will be done at the instance of a non-party who does not stand to benefit from the ponencia since his region (SLR) had already its turn to field its own EVP. Such a move would set a bad and dangerous precedent and seriously erode the stability of final decisions and resolutions.

Factual Antecedents

In 2009, some high-ranking officers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) filed an administrative case in relation to the leadership and election controversies in the IBP. In that case, docketed as A.C. No. 8292 and entitled Attys. Marcial M. Magsino, et al. v. Attys. Rogelio A. Vinluan, et al., the Court, in an En Banc Resolution dated June 2, 2009, created a Special (Investigating) Committee2 composed of Justices Carolina C. Griño-Aquino, Bernardo P. Pardo and Romeo J. Callejo, Sr. 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 x x x any other election controversy involving other chapters of the IBP, if any."

During the Preliminary Conference before the Special Committee, all concerned agreed to focus the investigation on the following issues or concerns:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

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

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?

As regards the election of the IBP-EVP, the Special Committee cited in its Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009 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." The Committee further stated:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

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):chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Numeriano Tanopo, Jr.
(Pangasinan)
Central Luzon1991-1993
Mervin G. Encanto
(Quezon City)
Greater Manila1993-1995
Raul R. Angangco
(Makati)
Southern Luzon1995-1997
Jose Aguila Grapilon
(Biliran)
Eastern Visayas1997-1999
Arthur D. Lim
(Zambasulta)
Western Mindanao1999-2001
Teofilo S. Pilando, Jr.
(Kalinga Apayao)
Northern Luzon2001-2003
Jose Anselmo L. Cadiz
(Camarines Sur)
Bicolandia2005-Aug. 2006
Jose Vicente B. Salazar
(Albay)
BicolandiaAug. 2006-2007
Feliciano M. Bautista
(Pangasinan)
Central Luzon2007-2009

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. (Emphasis supplied.)

On December 14, 2010, the Court, by Resolution (December 14, 2010 Resolution), adopted in toto the Report and Recommendation of the Special Committee thus created, and disposed of the controversies relating to the IBP elections as follows:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court resolves that:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

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;cralawlibrary

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;cralawlibrary

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. (Emphasis supplied.)

On February 8, 2011, the Court denied with finality the Motion for Reconsideration of the December 14, 2010 Resolution filed by Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III.3chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Pursuant to the December 14, 2010 Resolution, a special election was held to elect the IBP-EVP for the 2009-2011 term where Atty. Libarios of the IBP-Eastern Mindanao emerged as winner.4 Atty. Libarios eventually assumed the IBP Presidency for the 2011-2013 term.

On April 27, 2011, the IBP Board of Governors requested a clarification from the Court as to the application of the rotational rule in the elections for Governor of the IBP-Western Visayas Region.

On July 27, 2012, the IBP-SLR, represented by Governor Vicente M. Joyas ("Governor Joyas"), filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene and to Admit the Attached Petition-in-Intervention seeking a declaration from the Court that the IBP-SLR may field a candidate for the position of IBP-EVP for the 2011-2013 term. In its Petition-in-Intervention, the IBP-SLR contends that the non-assumption of Atty. Vinluan to the IBP-Presidency because of his disqualification pursuant to the December 14, 2010 Resolution denied the IBP-SLR the right to the IBP Presidency for the 2009-2011 term without fault attributable to the region. The petition further underscored that it will take another sixteen (16) years for the region to be entitled to vie for the position of IBP-EVP. The IBP-SLR rued that considering the twelve (12)-year interval between the end of the term of Atty. Raul R. Angangco in 1997 and the year 2009, when Atty. Vinluan was supposed to assume the IBP Presidency, the region will have to wait a total of twenty-eight (28) years before it can be afforded the chance under the rotation system to have somebody from the region elected as IBP-EVP and eventually become IBP president.5chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

In response, the IBP-Western Visayas Region (WVR) filed an "Ex Abundanti Ad Cautelam Vigorous Opposition/Comment"6 to the proposed intervention ("Opposition/Comment") asseverating that this Court, in its December 14, 20l0 Resolution, has already declared that "only the Governors of the Western Visayas and Eastern Mindanao Regions have not had their turns as EVPs." But since incumbent president Roan I. Libarios was elected EVP for the 2009-2011 term, then it is only IBP-WVR which is qualified to field a candidate for EVP for said term. It also argued that the proposed intervention is improper, filed as it was after the rendition and finality of the December l4, 20l0 Resolution. The IBP-SLR, IBP-WVR adds, is disqualified to field a candidate since it has served as IBP-EVP twice. Lastly, the IBP-WVR points out that, in Velez v. De Vera,7 this Court has held that "the rotation rule pertains in particular to the position of IBP-EVP while the automatic successions rule pertains to the Presidency."

The House of Delegates of IBP-WVR and the IBP Governors for Eastern Visayas and WV Regions filed their comments8 on the proposed intervention of IBP-SLR raising basically the same arguments of IBP-WVR in its Opposition/Comment.

By Resolution of December 4, 2012, the Court addressed the issue sought to be clarified by IBP-WVR on the rotational rule with respect to the election of governor of the said region. The Court explained that the rotational rule was one by exclusion such that in the election of the governor of a region, all chapters of the region shall be given the opportunity to have their nominee elected as governor, to the exclusion of those chapters that have already served in the rotational cycle. However, the Court deferred action on the proposed intervention sought by the IBP-SLR and required the IBP Board of Governors (BOG) to file its comment on the petition for intervention. The dispositive portion of the Resolution reads as follows:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

WHEREFORE, the Court hereby holds that in the IBP-Western Visayas Region, the rotation by exclusion shall be adopted such that, initially, all chapters of the region shall have the equal opportunity to vie for the position of Governor for the next cycle except Romblon.

The Temporary Restraining Order dated May 3, 2011 is hereby lifted and the IBP-Western Visayas Region is hereby ordered to proceed with its election of Governor for the 2011-2013 term pursuant to the rotation by exclusion rule.

The IBP Board of Governors is hereby ordered to file its comment on the Petition for Intervention of IBP-Southern Luzon, within ten (10) days from receipt hereof.

SO ORDERED.

In its Comment dated January 2, 2013, the IBP BOG prays that the "IBP-Southern Luzon be allowed to nominate a candidate for EVP for the 2011-2013 term, without prejudice to the right of other regions except IBP-Eastern Mindanao, to do the same."9chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Subsequently, Governor Joyas filed a Rejoinder10 stating that the Special Committee confined its computation of the rotation cycle to the past nine (9) terms of IBP presidents (l99l to 2009) and completely ignored the relevant period l990-l99l when Governor Eugene A. Tan of WV assumed the IBP Presidency. Since Western Visayas had its Governor Tan serving as president (l990-l99l) after the adoption of the rotation rule under Bar Matter No. 491, Governor Joyas then concludes that only Eastern Mindanao was eligible to vie for IBP-EBP for the 2009-2011 term. He also faults the Special Committee in considering WVR as not yet having an IBP-EVP. Based on the past rotation of the presidency, Governor Joyas now prays that IBP-SLR be declared eligible to vie for the position of IBP-EVP cum president for the 20l3-20l5 term "without prejudice to other regions also vying for the post."

Issues

I shall endeavor to address the following issues raised in the ponencia:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

A. Whether the motion for intervention of IBP-Southern Luzon can be allowed and admitted;cralawlibrary

B. Whether the first rotational cycle was completed with the election of Atty. Leonard De Vera; (This issue was not presented in the petition-in-intervention but was belatedly raised by IBP-SLR only in its Rejoinder.)

C. Whether IBP-Southern Luzon has already served in the current rotation; and

D. Whether the IBP-Western Visayas has already served in the current rotation.

DISCUSSION

First Issue:

Whether the motion for intervention of IBP- SLR can be allowed and admitted

Ruling on the issue in the affirmative, Justice Mendoza declares in his ponencia that the Court, exercising its prerogative to relax procedural rules on intervention, is allowing intervention in order to write finis to the present dispute and to prevent similar IBP election controversies in the future.

I believe otherwise.

The proposed intervention of IBP-SLR should be denied for the following reasons:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

1. IBP-SLR nor Governor Joyas has no legal interest in the subject matter of the litigation.

Neither IBP-SLR nor Governor Joyas has NO LEGAL INTEREST IN THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THE LITIGATION, OR IN THE SUCCESS OF EITHER OF THE PARTIES as required under Sec. 1, Rule 19 of the Rules of Court, which reads:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

SECTION 1. Who may intervene. A person who has a legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the parties, or an interest against both, or is so situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or other disposition of property in the custody of the court or of an officer thereof may, with leave of court, be allowed to intervene in the action. The court shall consider whether or not the intervenor's rights may be fully protected in a separate proceeding.

IBP-SLR is not qualified to field a candidate for IBP-EVP for the term 2011-2013 because the BOG had already elected Atty. Raul Angangco of that region as IBP-EVP for the term l993-l995 and, in addition, had also elected a 2nd IBP-EVP in the person of Atty. Vinluan for the term 2009 to 2011. Clearly, the IBP-SLR had already two (2) elected EVPs, thus precluding the election of movant as the 3rd EVP in this present rotation.

Considering that IBP-SLR can no longer field a candidate for the position of IBP-EVP and not qualified to field a candidate for IBP-EVP for the 2011-2013 term, IBP-SLR and Governor Joyas have NO legal interest in the matter subject of the assailed December 14, 20l0 Resolution. Ergo, the proposed intervention has no leg to stand on and is patently devoid of merit.

As correctly concluded by Justice Mendoza in his first and second drafts but which conclusion unfortunately was deleted in his third revision, IBP-SLR has NO right to vie for the position of EVP for the term 2011-2013. Thus, he explained:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The Court rules in the negative. The reason is that IBP-Southern Luzon already had its turn in the current rotational cycle. In its December 14, 2010 Resolution, the Court stated:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

x x x

With the election of Atty. Raul R. Angangco as EVP-IBP for the 1993-1995 term, and his consequent assumption as IBP president for the 1995-1997 term, it becomes clear that IBP-Southern Luzon already had its turn in the current rotation.

Thus, the disqualification of Atty. Rogelio Vinluan as IBP president would not qualify IBP-Southern Luzon to participate in the forthcoming elections for EVP-IBP, since, as stated in the Court's December 14, 2010 Resolution quoted above, IBP-Southern Luzon was able to serve as IBP-EVP for the 1993-1995 term. The rule was restated in Velez v. De Vera as follows:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

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.

At any rate, it bears mentioning that with the election and service of Atty. Vinluan of the IBP-Southern Luzon as EVP-IBP for the 2007-2009 term, the purpose of the rotation system to give equal opportunity to all regions of the IBP has already been satisfied.

Moreover, the latest version of Justice Mendoza's ponencia admitted that:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

With respect to IBP-Southern Luzon, following the ruling in Velez, it is clear that it already had its turn to serve as EVP in the Second Rotational Cycle.11chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Consequently, this finding of Justice Mendoza that IBP-SLR does not have any right to field a candidate for EVP for the 2011-2013 term precludes the Court from entertaining the petition-in-intervention of said region.

2. IBP-SLR and Governor Joyas are guilty of estoppel.

The intervention of IBP-SLR was filed only on July 27, 2012 or MORE THAN A YEAR after Governor Joyas assumed the position of Governor for Southern Luzon on July l, 2011 and over one (1) year and five (5) months after the judgment of a case in which intervention is sought has become final and executory.

In view thereof, Governor Joyas is considered estopped from questioning the already final and partially executed December 14, 2010 Resolution. As it were, Governor Joyas waited for more than ONE (1) FULL YEAR after assuming the position of SLR Governor before attempting to reopen the already final resolution of the Court. It cannot be denied that Governor Joyas was fully aware of the December 14, 2010 Resolution of this Court. Yet, without presenting any justifiable explanation, he did not lift a finger to question the same when he became Governor for Southern Luzon. Based on this factual setting, it is clear that there is already waiver on his part and the part of IBP-SLR to question the final and executory December 14, 2010 Resolution.

Also, just like the movants in the aforementioned case of Chavez, the IBP-SLR and Governor Joyas have not offered any explanation for their belated intervention considering that the December 14, 2010 Resolution and the proceedings leading up to the same were controversial, publicized and known to the movant. Indeed, they could not "feign unawareness" of the said resolution. Worse, the IBP-SLR had every opportunity to intervene before the finality of the December 14, 2010 Resolution but it chose to do so at this very late stage when the proposed intervention can only serve to delay the execution of the Resolution. Hence, because of their unjustified inaction for a considerable period of time, both the IBP-SLR and Governor Joyas are ESTOPPED from questioning said Resolution.

3. Pinlac v. Court of Appeals12 and the cases cited thereunder are not PRECEDENTS TO the petition at bar.

The ponencia cites Pinlac as justification for the Court to relax the procedural rules on intervention. However, it must be pointed out that Pinlac is not applicable to and, hence, cannot serve as precedent to the case at bar. In Pinlac, the Republic of the Philippines, as intervenor, undoubtedly had legal interest in a five (5)-hectare lot in Quezon City covered by OCT No. 333 where several government buildings, offices and complexes are situated, such as the House of Representatives and the Sandiganbayan, among others.

On the other hand, IBP-SLR and Governor Joyas have no interest in the matter in litigation, as admitted by Justice Mendoza in the first and second draft ponencias where he found that IBP-SLR already had two (2) EVPs (Angangco and Vinluan) and in the third draft ponencia where it was concluded that IBP-SLR already had its turn in choosing the EVP and, hence, is not qualified for the second rotation (p. 13, third draft ponencia).

Neither does Mago v. Court of Appeals13 apply to the case at bar. In said case, petitioner Mago filed a Petition for Relief from Judgment/Order and a Motion to Intervene before the trial court sixty-nine (69) days after he learned of the judgment and, hence, were denied on that ground. The intervention was allowed as the Court found the intervenors therein as indispensable parties with such substantial interest in the controversy or subject matter that a final adjudication cannot be made in their absence without affecting, nay injuring, such interest. The application of rules was relaxed to disregard the tardy filing of the petition by nine (9) days to serve the ends of equity and justice based on substance and merit.

This, however, cannot be said of IBP-SLR and Gov. Joyas because, as erstwhile stated, IBP-SLR is already precluded from fielding a candidate for the position of the EVP pursuant to the rotation by exclusion rule.

In addition, the judgment of the RTC in Mago has not yet been executed when it was questioned by Mago, et al. unlike the December 14, 2010 Resolution in the instant case.

The cited Director of Lands v. Court of Appeals14 is also inapplicable because, unlike IBP-SLR and Governor Joyas, the intervenors therein had substantial interest in the matter in litigation and, unlike the present case, there was no final and partially executed decision. In that case, Greenfield Development Corporation and Alabang Development Corporation filed their respective motions for intervention. Incidentally, their motions were filed when the petition for certiorari of the Director of Lands was submitted for decision but before this Court rendered any judgment thereon. The Court found that Greenfield and Alabang had interest in the title sought to be reconstituted by private respondent therein because the land covered by the title overlapped and included substantial portions of the land owned by Greenfield and Alabang. Aside from recognizing the movants as indispensable parties to the case, the Court granted the intervention in view of the higher and greater interest of the public in the efficacy and integrity of our land registration system.

In the instant case, however, there appears to be no higher or greater public interest which will be served in granting IBP-SLR's intervention. Thus, reliance on the case of Director of Lands is misplaced.

Similarly, Tahanan Development Corp. v. Court of Appeals15 (Tahanan) is not a precedent to the case at bar. In the said case, Tahanan filed a Petition to Set Aside Decision and Re-Open Proceedings 41 days after the trial court granted the petition for reconstitution of a title covering a parcel of land which overlaps a substantial part of Tahanan's land. This Court held that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion when it denied Tahanan's "Petition to Set Aside Decision and Re-Open Proceedings," for, while said petition was not captioned as "Motion for Intervention," the allegations of the petition clearly and succinctly averred Tahanan's legal interest in the matter in litigation, which interest is substantial and material, involving the boundaries, possession and ownership of about nine (9) hectares of land covered by the title sought to be reconstituted.

Like Director of Lands, the intervenors in Tahanan had legal interest in the matter in litigation and interposed their plea for intervention before the execution of the decision.

4. IBP-SLR can no longer intervene because the December 14, 2010 Resolution is already final and executory, and in fact, had already been PARTIALLY EXECUTED.

The December 14, 2010 Resolution has become FINAL AND EXECUTORY after the Court denied with finality the Motion for Reconsideration of Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano III on February 8, 2011.16chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Thus, the said Resolution has become IMMUTABLE AND UNALTERABLE and is no longer open to any amendment. Once a judgment becomes final, it may not be modified in any respect even if the modification is meant to correct what is perceived to be erroneous conclusions of law and fact.17chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

In Chavez v. PCGG,18 the Court expressly ruled that the intervention sought by the movants can no longer be allowed after its judgment has become final, to wit:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Movants Ma. Imelda Marcos-Manotoc, et al. allege that they are parties and signatories to the General and Supplemental Agreements dated December 28, 1993, which this Court, in its Decision promulgated on December 9, 1998, declared "NULL AND VOID for being contrary to law and the Constitution." As such, they claim to "have a legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the parties or an interest against both as to warrant their intervention." They add that their exclusion from the instant case resulted in a denial of their constitutional rights to due process and to equal protection of the laws. x x x

The motions are not meritorious.

Intervention Not Allowed After Final Judgment

First, we cannot allow the Motion for Leave to Intervene at this late stage of the proceedings. Section 2, Rule 19 of the Rules of Court, provides that a motion to intervene should be filed "before rendition of judgment . . ." Our Decision was promulgated December 9, 1998, while movants came to us only on January 22, 1999. Intervention can no longer be allowed in a case already terminated by final judgment.

Second, they do not even offer any valid plausible excuse for such late quest to assert their alleged rights. Indeed, they may have no cogent reason at all. As Petitioner Chavez asserts, the original petition, which was filed on October 3, 1997, was well-publicized. So were its proceedings, particularly the oral arguments heard on March 16, 1998. Movants have long been back in the mainstream of Philippine political and social life.

Indeed, they could not (and in fact did not) even feign unawareness of the petition prior to its disposition.

Third, the assailed Decision has become final and executory; the original parties have not filed any motion for reconsideration, and the period for doing so has long lapsed. Indeed, the movants are now legally barred from seeking leave to participate in this proceeding. (Emphasis supplied.)

Verily, there is NO jurisprudence allowing an intervention by a person who has not shown any legal interest in the matter in litigation after the decision has become final and executory. Section 2, Rule 19 is explicit that no intervention is allowed after the judgment has become final. Once finality sets in, what remains to be done is the purely ministerial enforcement and execution of the judgment.

The former practice under Section 2, Rule 12 was to allow intervention "before or during trial." Subsequently, the Court liberalized the rule even further by allowing intervention before judgment is rendered which is now captured in Section 2, Rule l9 of the Rules of Court. The rationale behind the revised rule is clear before a decision is rendered, the Court may still allow the introduction of additional evidence by applying the liberal interpretation of the period for trial which may be akin to reopening of trial. Since judgment has not yet been rendered, the issues and subject matter of the intervention may still be resolved and incorporated in the decision; thus, the court is able to dispose of all the issues in the case. However, after judgment has been rendered, the court will no longer have the opportunity to conduct a total and exhaustive reassessment of all the issues in the case and the reopening of the case will greatly delay its adjudication. Needless to say, the resurrection of the case will be strictly considered against the proposed intervention after the decision is rendered and has become final.

For instance, in Looyuko v. Court of Appeals,19 the motions for intervention were filed after judgment had already been rendered and when the same has become final and executory. Thus, this Court held that intervention can no longer be allowed in a case already terminated by final judgment. Since intervention is merely a collateral or accessory or ancillary to the principal action, and not an independent proceeding but rather a dependent on or subsidiary to the case between the original parties, when the main action ceases to exist, then there is no pending proceeding wherein the intervention may be based.20chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Obviously, in the instant case, there is no more pending principal action wherein IBP-SLR may intervene since the Court already rendered a judgment which has since become final and executory. And in this case, it is significant to note that the December 14, 2010 Resolution has already been PARTIALLY EXECUTED when Atty. Libarios of IBP-Eastern Mindanao was elected as IBP president and, hence, the only remaining ministerial act to be performed is the election of an IBP-EVP from the IBP-WVR for the term 2011 to 2013. Since the instant case is already in the execution stage, then there is no rhyme or reason why an intervention at this late stage will still be allowed.

Core Issue:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Whether the IBP-Western Visayas has already served in the current rotation

Of the three remaining issues espoused by the ponencia, I find the fourth issue, or the issue on whether the IBP-Western Visayas (IBP-WVR) has already served in the current rotation to be the most significant and hence, will be discussed here at length.

Right off, it is my considered view that this issue should be resolved in the negative. Necessarily, IBP-WVR should be considered as the only region which can vie for the position of the IBP EVP for the 2011-2013 term, or what is left of it.

The "rotation by exclusion rule" in the election of IBP-EVP was introduced in Bar Matter No. 491, In the Matter of the Inquiry into the 1989 Elections of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.21 In that case, the Court annulled the election of the national officers of the IBP held on June 3, 1989 and directed the holding of special elections for the Governors of each of the nine (9) IBP Regions and subsequent thereto, the election of the IBP national president and IBP-EVP. This is embodied in the Court's per curiam Resolution of October 6, l989, the fallo of which pertinently reads:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

It has been mentioned with no little insistence that the provision in the 1987 Constitution (Sec. 8, Art. VIII) providing for a Judicial and Bar Council composed of seven (7) members among whom is "a representative of the Integrated Bar," x x x may be the reason why the position of IBP president has attracted so much interest among the lawyers. The much coveted "power" erroneously perceived to be inherent in that office might have caused the corruption of the IBP elections. To impress upon the participants in that electoral exercise the seriousness of the misconduct which attended it and the stern disapproval with which it is viewed by this Court, and to restore the non-political character of the IBP and reduce, if not entirely eliminate, expensive electioneering for the top positions in the organization x x x the Court hereby ORDERS:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

1. The IBP elections held on June 3, 1989 should be as they are hereby annulled.

2. The provisions of the IBP By-Laws for the direct election by the House of Delegates (approved by this Court in its resolution of July 9, 1985 in Bar Matter No. 287) of the following national officers:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

(a) the officers of the House of Delegates;cralawlibrary

(b) the IBP president; and

(c) the executive vice-president.

be repealed, this Court being empowered to amend, modify or repeal the By-Laws of the IBP under Section 77, Art. XI of said By-Laws.

3. The former system of having the IBP president and EVP elected by the Board of Governors (composed of the governors of the nine (9) IBP regions) from among themselves (as provided in Sec. 47, Art. XII, Original IBP By-Laws) should be restored. The right of automatic succession by the EVP to the presidency upon the expiration of their two-year term (which was abolished by this Court's resolution dated July 9, 1985 in Bar Matter No. 287) should be as it is hereby restored.

4. At the end of the president's two-year term, the [EVP] shall automatically succeed to the office of president. The incoming board of governors shall then elect an EVP from among themselves. The position of EVP shall be rotated among the nine (9) IBP regions. One who has served as president may not run for election as [EVP] in a succeeding election until after the rotation of the presidency among the nine (9) regions shall have been completed; whereupon, the rotation shall begin anew.

5. Section 47 of Article VII is hereby amended to read as follows:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

'Section 47. National Officers .- The Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall have a President and Executive Vice President to be chosen by the Board of Governors from among nine (9) regional governors, as much as practicable, on a rotation basis. 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 to be appointed by the President with the consent of the Board.

6. Section 33(b), Art. V, IBP By-Laws, is hereby amended as follows:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

(b) The President and Executive Vice President of the IBP shall be the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively, of the House of Delegates. The Secretary, Treasurer, and Sergeant-at-Arms shall be appointed by the President with the consent of the House of Delegates.

7. Section 33(g) of Article V providing for the positions of Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Delegates is hereby repealed.

8. Section 37, Article VI is hereby amended to read as follows:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

'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 that region only. The position of Governor should be rotated among the different Chapters in the region.

9. Section 39, Article V is hereby amended as follows:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

'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.

10. Section 33(a), Article V is hereby amended by adding the following provision as part of the first paragraph:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

No convention of the House of Delegates nor of the general membership shall be held prior to any election in an election year.

11. Section 39 (a), (b), (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), and (7) of Article VI should be as they are hereby deleted.

All other provisions of the By-Laws including its amendment by the Resolution en banc of this Court of July 9, 1985 (Bar Matter No. 287) that are inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed or modified.

12. Special elections for the Board of Governors shall be held in the nine (9) IBP regions within three (3) months after the promulgation of the Court's resolution in this case. Within thirty (30) days thereafter, the Board of Governors shall meet at the IBP Central Office in Manila to elect from among themselves the IBP national president and executive vice-president. In these specialelections, the candidates in the election of the national officers held on June 3, 1989, particularly identified in Sub-Head 3 of this Resolution entitled "Formation of Tickets and Single Slates," as well as those identified in this Resolution as connected with any of the irregularities attendant upon that election, are ineligible and may not present themselves as candidate for any position.

13. Pending such special elections, a caretaker board shall be appointed by the Court to administer the affairs of the IBP.

The Court makes clear that the dispositions here made are without prejudice to its adoption in due time of such further and other measures as are warranted in the premises.

SO ORDERED. (Emphasis ours.)

Accordingly, to administer the affairs of the IBP pending the election of its national officers, the Court ordered the creation of the IBP Caretaker Board.22 Immediately after its constitution, the IBP Caretaker Board conducted and administered the simultaneous election of Governors for each of the nine (9) IBP Regions.23chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

A week thereafter, the then newly-constituted IBP BOG directly elected Atty. Eugene A. Tan (Atty. Tan), then IBP-WVR Governor, as Acting IBP National President, to serve for the remainder of the supposed 1989-1991 term or from January 1990 to April 1991. The 1989-1991 term pertained to that of President Violeta Calvo-Drilon of Greater Manila Region. Elected with Atty. Tan was Atty. Numeriano G. Tanopo, Jr. (Atty. Tanopo), the Governor from the IBP-Central Luzon Region, who was to assume the position of EVP-IBP pursuant to paragraph 4 of the fallo of Bar Matter No. 491. When Atty. Tan resigned before the expiration of his term as IBP president, Atty. Tanopo became Acting President but eventually assumed the position of national president for the term 1991-1993 in accordance with the IBP By-Laws.

It is on the basis of these factual antecedents that IBP-SLR, through Atty. Joyas, insists that IBP-WVR was already represented and was given the opportunity to serve as IBP national president in the person of Atty. Tan. Hence, IBP SLR insists that IBP WVR is no longer qualified to vie for IBP EVP.

The ponencia of Justice Mendoza would sustain the position of IBP-SLR, a posture I am inclined to disagree with for the following reasons:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

(1) The December 14, 2010 Resolution has already become final, immutable and unalterable.

Through their proposed intervention, IBP-SLR would like the Court to scuttle IBP-WVR's entitlement to field a candidate for IBP-EVP for the 2011-2013 term for the reason that the Special Committee erred when it failed to consider the election of Tan as temporary or interim IBP-president in l990. It may be conceded, for argument, that an error was committed by the Special Committee, but such error, if that be the case, was peremptorily adopted by the Court in its own final December 14, 20l0 Resolution.24chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

It is a fundamental legal principle that a final decision is immutable and unalterable, and may no longer be modified in any respect, whether it be made by the court that rendered it or by the highest court of the land.25chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Litigation must at some time end. Even at the risk of occasional errors, public policy dictates that once a judgment becomes final, executory and unappealable, the prevailing party should not be denied the fruits of his victory by some subterfuge devised by the losing party. Unjustified delay in the enforcement of a judgment sets to naught the role and purpose of the courts to resolve justiciable controversies with finality.26chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

As explained in Aliviado v. Procter and Gamble,27 the doctrine of immutability of judgment is grounded on fundamental considerations of public policy and that adherence to said principle must be maintained by those who exercise the power of adjudication. The Court said that:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

It is a hornbook rule that once a judgment has become final and executory, it may no longer be modified in any respect, even if the modification is meant to correct an erroneous conclusion of fact or law, and regardless of whether the modification is attempted to be made by the court rendering it or by the highest court of the land, as what remains to be done is the purely ministerial enforcement or execution of the judgment.

The doctrine of finality of judgment is grounded on fundamental considerations of public policy and sound practice that at the risk of occasional errors, the judgment of adjudicating bodies must become final and executory on some definite date fixed by law. The Supreme Court reiterated that the doctrine of immutability of final judgment is adhered to by necessity notwithstanding occasional errors that may result thereby, since litigations must somehow come to an end for otherwise, it would even be more intolerable than the wrong and injustice it is designed to correct.

In Mocorro, Jr. v. Ramirez, we held that:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

A definitive final judgment, however erroneous, is no longer subject to change or revision.

A decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable. This quality of immutability precludes the modification of a final judgment, even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact and law. And this postulate holds true whether the modification is made by the court that rendered it or by the highest court in the land. The orderly administration of justice requires that, at the risk of occasional errors, the judgments/resolutions of a court must reach a point of finality set by the law. The noble purpose is to write finis to dispute once and for all. This is a fundamental principle in our justice system, without which there would be no end to litigations. Utmost respect and adherence to this principle must always be maintained by those who exercise the power of adjudication. Any act, which violates such principle, must immediately be struck down. Indeed, the principle of conclusiveness of prior adjudications is not confined in its operation to the judgments of what are ordinarily known as courts, but extends to all bodies upon which judicial powers had been conferred." (Emphasis supplied.)

The doctrine of immutability of judgments protects the substantive rights of the winning party. Just as the losing party has the right to file an appeal within the prescribed period, the winning party also has the correlative right to enjoy the finality of the resolution of the case. The Court expounded on this postulate in Judge Angeles v. Hon. Gaite:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The doctrine of finality of judgment is grounded on the fundamental principle of public policy and sound practice that, at the risk of occasional error, the judgment of courts and the award of quasi-judicial agencies must become final on some definite date fixed by law. x x x

In Peña v. Government Service Insurance System (G.R. NO. 159520, September 19, 2006, 502 SCRA 383), we held that:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

x x x it is axiomatic that final and executory judgments can no longer be attacked by any of the parties or be modified, directly or indirectly, even by the highest court of the land. Just as the losing party has the right to file an appeal within the prescribed period, so also the winning party has the correlative right to enjoy the finality of the resolution of the case.

x x x

The rule on finality of decisions, orders or resolutions of a judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative body is "not a question of technicality but of substance and merit," the underlying consideration therefore, being the protection of the substantive rights of the winning party. Nothing is more settled in law than that a decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable and may no longer be modified in any respect even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact or law and whether it will be made by the court that rendered it or by the highest court of the land. (citing Sacdalan v. Court of Appeals, 428 SCRA 586, 599 (2004)28 (Emphasis supplied.)

In Banogon v. Zerna,29 the Court reminded litigants and lawyers that the time of the judiciary is too valuable to be wasted to evade the operation of a final decision. The Court explained, thus:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Litigation must end and terminate sometime and somewhere, and it is essential to an effective and efficient administration of justice that, once a judgment has become final, the winning party be not, through a mere subterfuge, deprived of the fruits of the verdict. Courts must therefore guard against any scheme calculated to bring about that result. Constituted as they are to put an end to controversies, courts should frown upon any attempt to prolong them.

There should be a greater awareness on the part of litigants that the time of the judiciary, much more so of this Court, is too valuable to be wasted or frittered away by efforts, far from commendable, to evade the operation of a decision final and executory, especially so, where, as shown in this case, the clear and manifest absence of any right calling for vindication, is quite obvious and in-disputable.

The immutability of judgments doctrine, to be sure, admits of several exceptions, to wit: (1) correction of clerical errors; (2) nunc pro tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any party; (3) void judgments; and (4) whenever circumstances transpire after the finality of the decision which render its execution unjust and inequitable.30 The Court has relaxed this rule in order to serve substantial justice considering (a) matters of life, liberty, honor or property; (b) the existence of special or compelling circumstances; (c) the merits of the case; (d) a cause not entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of the party favored by the suspension of the rules; (e) a lack of any showing that the review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory; and (f) the other party will not be unjustly prejudiced thereby.31chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

A careful review of the circumstances surrounding this case reveals that none of the foregoing exceptions warranting the relaxation of the doctrine of immutability of judgments or any circumstance analogous to the said exceptions is present in this case. Moreover, absolutely nothing transpired after the finality of the December 14, 2010 Resolution which would render its execution unjust and inequitable. It should, thus, be respected in its entirety.

(2) Atty. Tan's term should not be considered as the turn of IBP Western Visayas at the IBP leadership.

My reasons:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

First, Atty. Tan must be considered a mere acting president who served during the transition period and before the actual implementation of the rules on rotation by exclusion.

This is clear under Section 8 of Rule 139-A of the Rules of Court which provides:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Section 8. Vacancies. In the event the President is absent or unable to act, his duties shall be performed by the Executive Vice President; and in the event of the death, resignation, or removal of the President, the Executive Vice President shall serve as Acting President during the remainder of the term of the office thus vacated. In the event of the death, resignation, removal, or disability of both the President and the Executive Vice President, the Board of Governors shall elect an Acting President to hold office until the next succeeding election or during the period of disability.

The filling of vacancies in the House of Delegates, Board of Governors, and all other positions of Officers of the Integrated Bar shall be as provided in the By-Laws. Whenever the term of an office or position is for a fixed period, the person chosen to fill a vacancy therein shall serve only for the unexpired term.

Corollary thereto, Section 11 of the IBP By-Laws likewise states:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Section 11. Vacancies. - Except as otherwise provided in these By-Laws, whenever the term of office or position, whether elective or appointive, is for a fixed period, the person chosen to fill a vacancy therein shall serve only for the unexpired portion of the term.

From the foregoing, it is clear that in case of vacancy in the position of the IBP President, the person who shall act as Acting President would only serve during the remainder of the term.

For instance, for the term 1985-1987, on March 1986, when then IBP President Simeon M. Valdez of Northern Luzon resigned in the middle of his term, then EVP Vicente D. Millora of IBP Central Luzon immediately served as acting president for the remainder of Atty. Valdez's term. When Atty. Millora also resigned in March 1987, or before the term ended, this writer, as then Governor for Southern Luzon, was elected by the BOG as acting President and assumed office in that capacity until the remainder of the term ending June 30, 1987. In all these cases, the tenure of Atty. Millora of Central Luzon and that of this writer representing Southern Luzon as acting IBP presidents were not considered a new term for their respective regions for the position of EVP. The term 1985-1987 was specifically the term for and was accordingly charged against Northern Luzon.

The precedent that obtained during the 1985-1987 term of Atty. Valdez finds application to the case at bar. Atty. Tan was elected to fill the vacancy which was supposedly for Atty. Drilon of Greater Manila Region for the 1989-1991 term and with the understanding that, pursuant to the

Rules, Atty. Tan would only serve for the unexpired portion of the 1989-1991 term. In effect, Atty. Tan served as Acting President for the remainder of a term which was the turn of IBP Greater Manila Region from which Atty. Drilon belongs. After Atty. Tan resigned, EVP Tanopo of Central Luzon succeeded as Acting President pursuant to Section 8, Rule 139-A of the Rules until the end of Atty. Drilon's term on June 30, 1987. Thus, the tenure of Atty. Tan as Acting President for 1 year and 2 months during the 1989-1991 term of Atty. Drilon cannot in anyway be considered as the term of Western Visayas.

Furthermore, the remainder of the said term is still part of the previous term which, technically, is a term existing before Bar Matter 491 took into effect and, thus, prior to the full implementation of the rotation by exclusion scheme.

It must likewise be recalled that Atty. Tan's election as acting IBP national president was an aftermath of the nullification of the 1989 IBP elections, the subject matter of Bar Matter No. 491. At that time, there was a vacuum in the position of national president and the Court found it necessary to create a Caretaker Board to administer the affairs of the IBP until a new set of national officers shall have been elected.

Regardless of whether this case is an administrative matter or not, the doctrine of immutability of judgments should be applied. The public has to be sure the right to believe and feel secure that any decision or resolution of this Court will attain finality at some definite time. If this Court will just shun the doctrine because of this case being a "mere" administrative matter, then a dangerous precedent will be set and the public at large can no longer feel secure in whatever pronouncement this Court makes. In truth, administrative cases can and do affect a broad group of people. Example of this is the instant case and all other IBP-related matters previously discussed. Lawyers are members of the IBP and the result of this case will eventually have a large impact on how they will handle their current and future cases and how they will deal with and perceive this Court and other courts.

Since Atty. Tan became acting national president by virtue of a special election and due to special circumstances, Atty. Tan must be considered an interim president who served during the transition period and before the actual implementation of the rules on "rotation by exclusion" for the EVP and "automatic succession" for the position of national president. Atty. Tan was elected as acting national president for the remainder of what would have been the 1989-1991 term of then president-elect Atty. Violeta C. Drilon of the Greater Manila Region because precisely there was no IBP president at that time.

Bar Matter No. 491 would also reveal that Atty. Tan's election as a transition president cannot be considered as an implementation of the rotation. It is the election of Atty. Tanopo as EVP which must be considered as the beginning of the sequence under the new rotation scheme for EVPs. The conclusion that the election of Atty. Tanopo as EVP started the rotation finds mooring in the very directive of this Court in par. 4 of the fallo in Bar Matter No. 491, which reads:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The incoming board of governors shall then elect an Executive Vice President from among themselves. The position of Executive Vice President shall be rotated among the nine (9) IBP regions.

Analyzing the Court's disposition in that case, if this Court indeed meant that the election of Atty. Tan will be the beginning of the rotation, then it could have so stated and could have limited the succeeding election of the EVPs to the other eight IBP Regions, thus effectively excluding the IBP-WVR in the subsequent election for EVPs. The fallo does not say so and no interpretation is needed when the disposition of the Court is clear and unambiguous. This is further bolstered by the fact that during the elections for the 2005-2007 term, the IBP Board of Governors allowed the then Governor of IBP Western Visayas, Atty. J.B. Jovy C. Bernabe, to vie for the position of EVP. He eventually lost to Atty. Feliciano M. Bautista who was elected EVP for said term.

Second, the "rotation by exclusion" rule pertains in particular to the position of IBP-EVP, NOT to the position of the IBP Presidency.

In Bar Matter No. 491, this Court disposed:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

4. At the end of the President's two-year term, the Executive Vice-President shall automatically succeed to the office of president. The incoming board of governors shall then elect an Executive Vice-President from among themselves. The position of Executive Vice-President shall be rotated among the nine (9) IBP regions. One who has served as president may not run for election as Executive Vice-President in a succeeding election until after the rotation of the presidency among the nine (9) regions shall have been completed; whereupon, the rotation shall begin anew.

Also, Velez v. De Vera,32 penned by Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario, enunciated that the rule on "rotation by exclusion" pertains in particular to the position of IBP-EVP and the IBP Presidency is merely a result of the automatic succession of the IBP-EVP to the Presidency, thus:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

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. (Emphasis supplied.)

Further echoing the foregoing pronouncements, this Court, in its December 14, 2012 Resolution, ordered:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

4. The proposed amendments to Section 31, 33, par. (g), 39, 42 and 43, Article VI and Section 47, Article VI 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. (Emphasis supplied.)

In relation thereto, the Report and Recommendation of the Special Committee dated July 9, 2009 provides:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

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:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Sec. 47. National Officer. 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 the election or appointment to any office in the IBP.

By virtue of the foregoing amendments, it is already an established rule that the "rotation rule applies to the position of the IBP EVP" and NOT to the election of national president because the EVP merely assumes the position of the national president after the latter's term has expired. It is, therefore, clear as day that the national president is not elected by the IBP Board of Governors under the rotation by exclusion rule, and, hence, does not participate in the rotation. Whatever is sometimes described as a "rotation of the presidency" actually means the rotation of the EVPs, which necessarily results in the rotation of the national presidents.

Third, to be considered a complete turn at the IBP Leadership, one must first be elected as EVP for the current term before he or she can serve as national president for the next term.

With respect to the IBP Presidency, Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws provides the mandatory process of: first, election of a Governor as EVP and second, automatic succession to the office of IBP president after serving as EVP for the immediately preceding term. This means that for a turn in the rotation to be complete, one must first be elected as EVP for the current term before he or she can serve as national president for the next term.

This process must be satisfied in strict sequence in order to consider that a specific IBP region had already completed its turn at the IBP leadership under the rotation by exclusion rule. As a consequence, under ordinary circumstances, a complete turn at IBP leadership is equivalent to two years of service as EVP for the immediately preceding term plus another two years of service as IBP national president.

Hence, following the same line of thought and considering that Atty. Tan of the WVR did not become EVP in the immediately preceding term before he assumed office as IBP president, the start of the sequence or rotation should be reckoned from the time Atty. Tanopo, then Governor of IBP Central Luzon, became EVP, and that the turn of IBP Central Luzon was deemed completed when Atty. Tanopo became national president in 1991-1993. This was aptly reflected in the July 2009 Report and Recommendations of the Special Committee which deemed it appropriate to start the rotation with Atty. Tanopo and not with Atty. Tan.

Apparently, ALL of the other eight regions already had their complete turns at the IBP leadership except for IBP-WVR. From the term of Atty. Tanopo until the present term of Atty. Libarios, ALL of the eight regions were given the opportunity to serve as EVP during the immediately preceding term before they were able to assume office as IBP national president.

This is, however, not true in the case of Atty. Tan as he was directly elected by the then IBP Board of Governors. Atty. Tan was not elected as IBP-EVP for the immediately preceding term before assuming office as IBP president and, in fact, only IBP WVR has yet to have its turn for the IBP-EVP as a mandatory stepping stone to the IBP Presidency.

In all, the IBP EVP-to-IBP Presidency route prescribed under the IBP By-Laws was not, in the case of Atty. Tan, accomplished. Hence, there is no reason to conclude that IBP-Western Visayas had already completed its turn under the rotation by exclusion rule. Since the other eight IBP regions have already completed their respective turns, the preordained conclusion is that IBP-Western Visayas is the ninth region and, therefore, the only region left entitled to vie for EVP in the current rotation.

Lastly, the IBP top leadership structure provides for a two-year stint for the EVP and another two years for the national president.

From the context of fairness and under the objective of operationalizing the spirit and intention of the "rotation by exclusion rule" to give each and every region a chance at the IBP leadership, it would be unfair to consider Atty. Tan's tenure of just one year and three months as equal to the accumulated term of four years of service which has already been accorded to all of the other eight regions. The fact that Atty. Tan resigned while serving as interim IBP president is immaterial because even if he did not resign, his tenure would still be less than two years and, hence, less than the tenure already given to the other eight regions. This is clearly unfair for IBP-Western Visayas and definitely prejudicial to the interests of the lawyer-members of that region as it will be tantamount to deprivation of their right to elect an EVP, who will eventually become the regular national president.

Thus, fair play demands that IBP-Western Visayas be afforded no less than the opportunity to sit as IBP-EVP for the term 2011-2013 and as IBP president thereafter, before the position of the EVP may be made open to other regions.

(3) There is no reason to doubt the correctness of this Court's December 14, 20l0 Resolution.

As earlier adverted, the Court in its December 14, 2010 Resolution adopted the findings of the Special Committee created to investigate, analyze and make recommendations on brewing controversies which tainted the 2009 IBP Elections. These findings, as contained in the committee's Report and Recommendation, are reproduced anew:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

III. Rulings of the Court

x x x

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

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):chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Numeriano Tanopo, Jr.
(Pangasinan)
Central Luzon1991-1993
Mervin G. Encanto
(Quezon City)
Greater Manila1993-1995
Raul R. Anchangco
(Makati)
Southern Luzon1995-1997
Jose Aguila Grapilon
(Biliran)
Eastern Visayas1997-1999
Arthur D. Lim
(Zambasulta)
Western Mindanao1999-2001
Teofilo S. Pilando, Jr.
(Kalinga Apayao)
Northern Luzon2001-2003
Jose Anselmo L. Cadiz
(Camarines Sur)
Bicolandia2005-Aug. 2006
Jose Vicente B. Salazar
(Albay)
BicolandiaAug. 2006-2007
Feliciano M. Bautista
(Pangasinan)
Central Luzon2007-2009

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.33 (Emphasis ours.)

From the foregoing, it is clear that the special election to be held by the IBP BOG is for the election of the EVP for the 2009-2011 term, and that only the nominees of the IBP-WVR and IBP Eastern Mindanao were qualified to vie for the position of EVP. As aptly observed by the Special Committee in its Report:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

j. x x x 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.34 (Emphasis ours.)

Thus, the three-man Special Committee correctly concluded that "the one who is not chosen for 2009-2011 term shall have its turn in the next 2011-2013 term."

The ponencia, however, contends that the Special Committee in this Court's December 14, 2010 Resolution failed to take into account the Velez ruling and, in the process, committed two "inaccuracies," thus:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Apparently, the report of the Special Committee failed to take into account the ruling in Velez that the service of then EVP Leonard De Vera, representing the Eastern Mindanao region, completed the first rotational cycle.

Thus, it committed two inaccuracies. First, it erroneously reported that "only governors of the Western Visayas and Eastern Mindanao regions have not yet had their turn as Executive Vice President." Second, it erroneously considered Central Luzon and Bicolandia as having had two terms each in the First Rotational Cycle, when their second service was for the Second Rotational Cycle.

The unfortunate fact, however, is that the erroneous statements of the Special Committee were used as bases for the recommendation that "either the governor of the Western Visayas Region, or the government of the Eastern Mindanao Region should be elected as Executive Vice-President for the 2009-2011 term."

These conclusions were seconded by Justice Brion:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

It is to be noted that, the December 14, 2010 ruling itself has its imperfections that deepened the deviations from the rotation system instead of setting the system right. For one, it completely failed to take into account the Court's ruling in Velez. Also, the Court erroneously adopted the Special Committee's incomplete computation of the presidential rotational cycle. Instead of counting the cycle from the presidency of Atty. Eugene Tan of Western Visayas in the 1989-1991 term as Bar Matter 491 dictated, the Court counted the rotation from the Central Luzon Presidency in the 1991-1993 term. This mistaken premise led the Court to conclude that only the Governors of Western Visayas and Eastern Mindanao regions had not yet had their turn as EVP so that the choice of EVP for 2009-2011 term should be solely confined to them. (Emphasis supplied)

Again, I beg to disagree. After a circumspect review of the antecedents that attended the controversies subject of these administrative matters, to my mind, there was no mistake, and hence, I support the accuracy and correctness of the findings of the Special Committee, as adopted by the Court, based on the following reasons:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

First, as discussed earlier, Atty. Tan was elected as ACTING PRESIDENT who, as stated in Section 11 of the IBP By-Laws35 and Section 8 of Rule 139-A,36 had served only for the unexpired portion of what could have been the term of Atty. Drilon, representing the IBP Greater Manila Region. To reiterate, Atty. Tan served only for the remainder of a term which should have been the turn of IBP Greater Manila Region from which Atty. Drilon belongs and not that of Western Visayas. It is likewise significant to note that the remainder of the said term is still part of the previous term which, technically, is a term existing before Bar Matter No. 491 took into effect and prior to the full implementation of the rotation by exclusion scheme.

To my mind, it is correct and most logical for the Special Committee to exclude Atty. Tan's presidency as forming part of the rotational process and consider Atty. Tanopo's term as the beginning of the rotation. This likewise bolsters the fact that Atty. Tan served only as an ACTING PRESIDENT in the interim until the new rule on rotation of EVPs is implemented. Hence, the Western Visayas Region has not yet been accorded the turn to elect its own EVP. Ergo, the Court and the Special Committee are correct in ruling that said region is given the right to elect its EVP either for the term 2009-2011 or the term 2011-2013.

And second, that the Special Committee's Report is accurate would also find support in finding that, at that time, IBP Eastern Mindanao was also one of the only two remaining IBP regions eligible to field its candidate as EVP. Again, I now conclude that the Special Committee was correct in excluding the term of Atty. De Vera as a complete turn in favor of IBP Eastern Mindanao.

For one, it was undisputed that Atty. Leonard De Vera, though elected as EVP, was removed from office and was not able to assume office as President. This, according to the Court in Velez, is an unfortunate and supervening event which rendered it impossible for Atty. De Vera to assume the IBP Presidency. Thus, in view of the peculiarity of the circumstances surrounding the said removal, it is but fair for the Special Committee not to consider Atty. De Vera's term as a complete turn in favor of IBP Eastern Mindanao.

This is in consonance with the principle enunciated earlier that a turn in the IBP leadership would only be complete if the region would have an EVP for the immediately preceding term and then later assume the position of IBP President. Since Atty. De Vera was not able to assume the Presidency, his election cannot be considered as a complete turn in favor of IBP Eastern Mindanao. Again the Court and the Special Committee are correct in ruling that the Eastern Mindanao Region has the right to elect the EVP either for term 2009-2011 or the term 2011-2013. This paved the way for the election of Roan Libarios as EVP for the term 2009-2011.

As regards IBP-SLR, it completed its turn not when Atty. Vinluan became EVP for the 2009-2011 term because he was not able to assume presidency, but during the term when Raul Angangco became EVP for the term 1993-1995 and eventually assumed the IBP Presidency during the term 1995-1997 term. It is likewise for these reasons why IBP-SLR is, therefore, excluded and disqualified from running for the position of EVP for the term 2011-2013. Incidentally, this also answers the third issue raised in this case.

Pondering on this logic for inclusion and exclusion in the computation for purposes of the rotation, I find more reasons to adhere to the accuracy of the findings of the Special Committee. On a more important note, it cannot be over-emphasized that the December 14, 2010 Resolution was based on the Report of a Special Committee specifically commissioned to investigate, analyze and evaluate the brewing controversies and intricacies surrounding the IBP elections and the IBP itself. The Committee had for its members retired Justices of the Court with unquestionable competence and knowledge on IBP rules and history and they arrived at their conclusion after receiving testimonies and pieces of evidence adduced by the parties and after a careful and thorough evaluation and calibration of the facts.

In his ponencia, Justice Mendoza asserts:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

That the Court, in its December 14, 2010 Resolution, ordered the election of the EVP-IBP for the next term based on the inaccurate report of the Special Committee is a fact. That cannot be erased. As a consequence thereof, Libarios of IBP Eastern Mindanao is now IBP President.37 (Emphasis supplied)

Consequently, when the majority of the Court adopted the ponencia of Justice Mendoza, as seconded by Justice Brion, it will be etched in the history of this Court that, for the first time, the Court admitted that it committed a enormous blunder or mistake of adopting the findings of the Special Committee a mistake which, to my mind, never existed at all.

Also, by succumbing to the view that the Special Committee committed a mistake in its report, and that this Court erred in adopting the same in its December 14, 2010 Resolution, the Court, in effect, declared that the 2011-2013 term of Atty. Libarios of IBP Eastern Mindanao is null and void. Inevitably, this Court, in ruling so, likewise declared that all the acts of Atty. Libarios, in the exercise of his authority as IBP President, are likewise null and void and, hence, without force and binding effect. This is clearly an absurd situation.

Hence, in view of the foregoing, I find that there is no reason to doubt, as does the ponencia and the Separate Opinion of Justice Brion, the correctness of the conclusions reached by the Special Committee.

Consequently, for the same reasons and considering the correctness and accuracy of the findings of the Special Committee, it is my opinion that, contrary to the position of the ponencia on the second issue, the First Rotational Cycle is NOT yet done.

This is further bolstered by the fact the specific portion of the Velez ruling relied upon by the ponencia can be considered effectively overturned by this Court's December 14, 2010 Resolution.

The Court's conclusion in Velez that "the rotation was completed" is, to me, correct in a sense. In fact, this was the position I took and was one of the issues I discussed in my Dissenting Opinion in the Court's December 14, 2010 Resolution. However, in the said resolution, the majority, headed by then Chief Justice Renato C. Corona and wholly concurred in by Justices Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo D. Brion, Lucas P. Bersamin, Roberto A. Abad, Martin S. Villarama, Jr., Jose Portugal Perez and member-in-charge Jose Catral Mendoza, decided to abandon this ruling in Velez and adopt the findings of the Special Committee. Hence, to my mind, pursuant to the principle that between two apparently conflicting decisions, the latter prevails, I find that this specific part of this Court's ruling in Velez had already been overturned. Accordingly, this Court's December 14, 2010 Resolution should govern.

It must be also noted that the Court predicated its Velez ruling on this consideration: that "each of the nine IBP regions had already produced an EVP." However, as the records and history of the IBP would reveal, during the time Velez was decided, NOT ALL of the nine IBP Regions had actually produced an EVP. By readily adopting the conclusion in Velez that "the rotation was completed," the ponencia disregarded the truth that, since Bar Matter No. 491 or the implementation of the rotation by exclusion scheme, IBP Western Visayas never had an EVP. Similar thereto, the ponencia likewise failed to recognize that this was reflected by this Court's much later ruling in its December 14, 2010 Resolution.

Nevertheless, whatever misinterpretations or misconceptions were created by Velez, these were clarified by this Court's December 14, 2010 Resolution. In short, this Court had already corrected the situation.

Separate Opinion of Justice Brion

In this view, I also wish to address some of the points raised in the Separate Opinion of J. Arturo D. Brion, where he avers that the rulings of the Court in the December 14, 2010 Resolution were made in the exercise of the Court's administrative functions rather than its judicial or adjudicatory functions; that the aforementioned resolution was made in the exercise of the Court's power of supervision and not on the basis of its power of judicial review. Justice Brion also argues that being a continuing regulatory process, rulings of the Court issued under its supervisory power over the IBP are not cast in stone and remain open for review by the Court in light of prevailing circumstances as they develop.

In sum, the Separate Opinion insists that considering that the December 14, 2010 Resolution involves the Court's exercise of supervisory powers over the IBP and not judicial matters, the doctrine of immutability of judgments does not apply.

I beg to disagree.

To my mind, the exercise of the Court's supervisory power over the IBP and its members is two pronged meaning, it is exercised either through the Court's rule-making authority or through its adjudicatory or judicial power. Indeed, one is distinct from the other. The Court's rule-makingpower is dynamic in the sense that the Court may change the rules concerning the IBP as it deems best, necessary, practical and appropriate under the circumstances. On the other hand, the decisions arising from the Court's adjudicatory or judicial power cannot be easily changed as they involve a resolution of the contending rights of parties, which policy dictates should attain finality and, at some point, must reach an end.

I am of the opinion that in its December 14, 2010 Resolution, this Court exercised its adjudicatory functions as the issues in that case necessarily involved a question of who among the IBP Regions and candidates are eligible to serve as IBP EVP and National President and a determination of whether there is a necessity to impose disciplinary sanctions against some erring members and officers of the IBP.

As the title of the case would suggest, there were "brewing controversies" which required the exercise not only of the Court's supervisory powers over the IBP but also the Court's judicial power to settle actual case or controversies. By controversy means a disagreement or dispute, a litigated question, an adversary proceeding in a court of law, a civil action or suit either at law or in equity, a justiciable dispute.38 It involves an antagonistic assertion of a legal right on one side and denial thereof on the other concerning a real, and not a mere theoretical question or issue.39chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Verily, in the said Resolution, the Court ordered the amendments to Sections 31, 33 par. (g), 39, 42 and 43, Article VI and Section 47, Article VIII, pursuant to its rule-making power. However, these were merely incidental to the Court's adjudication of the brewing controversies in the IBP.

In this case, there is no question that actual controversies and concrete disputes were presented before the Court by factions with conflicting legal rights and interests pitted against each other, and demanding specific and conclusive reliefs. It must be remembered that these controversies originated from three (3) separate protests related to IBP elections held in April 2007 and an administrative complaint against erring officers and members. In particular, these protests were on: (1) the elections for the Governor of the IBP Greater Manila Region which involved the adverse interests of Atty. Elpidio Soriano and Atty. Manuel M. Maramba; (2) the elections for the Governor of the IBP Western Visayas which involved the adverse interests of Atty. Cornelio P. Aldon and Atty. Benjamin Ortega on the one hand, and Atty. Erwin Fortunato on the other; and (3) the elections for Governor of IBP Western Mindanao which involved the adverse interests of Atty. Benjamin B. Lanto and Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic. On the other hand, the administrative case was filed by Attys. Marcial M. Magsino, Manuel M. Maramba and Nasser A. Marohmsalic against Attys. Rogelio A. Vinluan, Evergisto S. Escalon, Bonifacio T. Barandon, Jr., Abelardo C. Estrada, and Raymund Jorge A. Mercado for professional misconduct, violation of attorney's oath and acts inimical to the IBP.

Needless to say, the foregoing cases involve assertions of legal rights of individuals in relation to crucial elective positions in the IBP on one side and denials thereof on the other. In resolving these warring interests, the Court had to evaluate and examine facts, interpret the rules governing the IBP, its members and officers, recall and study the IBP's history and structure, consider the report and recommendation of the Special Committee and rule on the rights and interests of the IBP regions and concerned IBP officials and members all of which were done by the Court not only as an act of supervision over the IBP but, most importantly, to resolve the disputes among the parties. Thus, as far as these issues have been settled and resolved by the Court, they became final and no longer subject to review.

Also, the view set forth in the Separate Opinion to the effect that decisions of the Court in relation to its supervision over the IBP is still subject to review and change is unsettling. If this is true, then what will prevent the Court from setting aside or amending a decision for or against a member of the bar or a decision settling disputes as regards IBP election controversies which were rendered ten or twenty years ago? Does this mean that the Court may thereafter overturn itself and find Atty. Vinluan innocent of the accusations against him and declare him actually fit to hold the position of IBP President for the 2007-2009 term? Further, following the conclusions in the Separate Opinion, may this Court, at any time, change its ruling in Bar Matter 491 rendered in 1989? That issues like these will remain open for review by the Court, as insisted by the Separate Opinion, is, to my view, extremely disturbing.

Moreover, in order to bolster the argument that rulings of the Court issued under its supervisory power over the IBP remain open to review, the Separate Opinion cites that administrative matters involving violations of ethical standards may be reviewed by the Court even years after the promulgation of the decision or resolution upon a petition for clemency by the respondent. Further, said Opinion posits that there were cases when the Court has changed its rulings in administrative matters in instances where there was proof that the petitioner has reformed or suffered enough on account of his or her unethical conduct.

I find the foregoing analogy misplaced.

Cases calling for the exercise of this Court's disciplinary powers over lawyers and judges belong to a separate genre. Once the Court renders a decision in a disciplinary action against a member of the bar, such member is either suspended, disbarred or disciplined by some other means after the said decision becomes final and executory upon the lapse of the reglementary period for appeal or reconsideration. That the Court may thereafter mitigate the sanction imposed or grant clemency or reprieve to the erring bar member does not mean that the decision finding him or her administratively liable did not become final and executory.

The mitigation or grant of clemency does not mean that the Court is changing its decision finding the bar member liable, rather it is an act of liberality and generosity on the part of the Court upon a showing of reformation of the petitioner. The mitigation of the sanction imposed or the grant of clemency by the Court is a matter or an issue entirely different from the issues involved in the administrative case finding the lawyer or judge liable. In a petition for clemency, the petitioner actually admits the unethical behavior committed in the past and prays for the pardon of the Court based on facts and circumstances entirely different from his defenses in the administrative case and which surface way long after the decision is rendered. In fact, one of the requisites for a grant of judicial clemency or pardon is that there should be a final judgment.

Thus, it is not true those administrative matters involving cases for unethical behavior of members of the bar do not become final and executory and that the doctrine of immutability of judgment does not apply to the same. Rather, the Court in effect affirms its decision but extends its liberality in exceptional circumstances where there is proof that the erring bar member has changed his or her ways or has suffered enough from the consequences of the sanctions imposed.

In view thereof, the doctrine of immutability of judgments clearly applies to this Court's December 14, 2010 Resolution.

Conclusion

It must be recalled that in the 2006 Velez case, this Court has ruled that the rotation was already completed. However, in its, December 14, 2010 Resolution, this Court deviated from Velez and declared that only IBP Eastern Mindanao and Western Visayas have not had their turn at the IBP leadership. Thus, the Court ruled that the rotation after all has not yet been completed contrary to the ruling in Velez.

And now, after the December 14, 2010 Resolution had been become final in February 2011 and partially executed, wherein IBP Eastern Mindanao had already given and completed its turn, the majority reverted to the Velez ruling that the rotation is already complete; effectively depriving IBP Western Visayas of its clearly stated right pursuant to the December 14, 2010 Resolution. Verily, by following the opinion of the ponencia, the Court is now exposed, once again, to charges of FLIP-FLOPPING.

Because of the position now assumed by the majority, the Court would appear to be TRIFLING with the long-settled doctrine of immutability of judgments. In the process, all the final decisions of the Court from its birth up to the present would be amenable to another review and reversal. It opened a Pandora's box, and thus, permit the parties and worse, even non-parties, in final and executed cases, to pray for the reopening of literally hundreds of thousands of final and fully implemented decisions on the pretext that this Court has committed an ERROR in or has MISREAD said cases.

In its Resolution, the majority nullified and disregarded a critical part of the December 14, 2010 Resolution. In a departure from its former holding, the majority now rules that the IBP-Western Visayas is not the only region that can vie for IBP-EVP for the 2011-2013 term and that position of IBP EVP is now open to all regions. This is a nullification of the unequivocal December 14, 2010 Resolution that "only IBP Eastern Mindanao and IBP Western Visayas are qualified to vie for the EVP position" in the two remaining terms in the rotation.

In retrospect, the Western Visayas Region was already deprived of its right to have an elected EVP who will eventually assume the IBP Presidency from 1990 when the rotation of the EVP started up to the present time or for more than THIRTY YEARS. With the new cycle, said region may even have to wait for 18 years more which is the total period for a new cycle before it can elect its EVP. All in all, the damage and prejudice to the members of the Western Visayas Region are unquantifiable.

More importantly, by declaring the EVP position open, the majority takes a sudden, but aberrant, turn around and, ruled against the final and partially executed December 14, 2010 Resolution by correcting alleged MISTAKES in said judgment. This is a first.

One can only imagine the possible irreparable damage and prejudice to the Court and the judicial institution by the rendition of what will be undoubtedly perceived as an amendment to the core of what has been a final and partly executed judgment. The December 14, 2010 Resolution is a fairly recent issuance. The integrity of the Court and the stability of its decisions shall be under attack and scrutiny once again due to the majority's admission that this Court committed mistakes in rendering the December 14, 2010 Resolutions. This will be deeply unsettling and will prejudice the stability and reliability of final judgments of the Court.

To repeat, the essence of the principle of immutability of final judgments is that "once a judgment becomes final, it may no longer be modified in any respect even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of law and fact."

The members of the Court must strongly adhere to and respect its final and executed decisions. To expose the decisions of this Court to the risk of being reopened or set aside any time would simply make the decisions of this Court a mockery and a farce. If the Court itself will resurrect final and executed decisions, then who and what will stop parties and non-parties from following suit? The potential damage to the institution is unthinkable.

Thus, I vote to deny the motion of IBP-SLR for lack of merit.


Endnotes:


1 A.C. No. 6697, July 25, 2006, 345 SCRA 496.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

2 Justice Carolina C. Griño-Aquino (Ret.), served as Chairperson and Justices Bernardo P. Pardo (Ret.) and Romeo J. Callejo, Sr. (Ret.), as Members.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

3 Rollo, p. 3240.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

4 Id. at 3112.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

5 Id. at 3454-3456.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

6 Id. at 3475.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

7 Supra note 1.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

8 Rollo, pp. 3569-3584.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

9 Id. at 3608.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

10 Id. at 3616.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

11 Decision, p. 13.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

12 G.R. NO. 91486, September 10, 2003, 410 SCRA 419.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

13 363 Phil. 225 (1999).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

14 G.R. NO. 45168, September 25, 1979, 93 SCRA 238ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

15 G.R. NO. 55771, November 15, 1982, 118 SCRA 273.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

16 Id. at 3240.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

17 Sacdalan v. Court of Appeals, G.R. NO. 128967, May 20, 2004, 428 SCRA 586, 599.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

18 G.R. NO. 13071, May 19, 1999, 307 SCRA 394, 398-399.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

19 G.R. Nos. 102696, 102716, 108257 & 120954, July 12, 2001, 361 SCRA 150.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

20 Id. at 165-166.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

21 October 6, 1989, 178 SCRA 398.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

22 Composed of former Justice Felix Q. Antonio, as Chairperson, and former Justices Efren I. Plana and Bienvenido Ejercito, as member, per October 19, 1989 Resolution of this Court.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

23 Selected members of the Judiciary were designated as Chairpersons and Members of the Board of Election Commissioners for each of the nine (9) IBP Regions, wherein Justice Reynato Puno (then of the Court of Appeals) was designated National Coordinator.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

24 The following voted in favor of the December 14, 2010 Resolution: Former Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, Associate Justices Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo D. Brion, Lucas P. Bersamin, Roberto A. Abad, Martin S. Villarama, Jr. Jose Portugal Perez and Jose Catral Mendoza.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

25 Sacdalan v. Court of Appeals, supra note 17.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

26 Sps. Heber & Charlita Edillo v. Sps. Dulpina, G.R. NO. 188360, January 21, 2010, 610 SCRA 590, 602.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

27 G.R. NO. 160506, June 6, 2011, 400 SCRA 650, 409-410.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

28 G.R. NO. 176596, March 23, 2011, 646 SCRA 309, 326-327.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

29 No. L-35469, October 9, 1987, 154 SCRA 593, 597.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

30 Sacdalan v. Court of Appeals, supra note 17.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

31 Apo Fruits Corporation and Hijo Plantation, Inc. v. Land Bank of the Philippines, G.R. NO. 164195, October 12, 2010, 632 SCRA 727, 761.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

32 Supra note 1, at 398.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

33 In the Matter of the Brewing Controversies in the Election in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, A.M. No. 09-5-2-SC, December 14, 2010, 638 SCRA 1, 27, 35-36.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

34 Id. at 15.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

35 Section 11. Vacancies. - Except as otherwise provided in these By-Laws, whenever the term of office or position, whether elective or appointive, is for a fixed period, the person chosen to fill a vacancytherein shall serve only for the unexpired portion of the term.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

36 Section 8. Vacancies. x x x Whenever the term of an office or position is for a fixed period, the person chosen to fill a vacancy therein shall serve only for the unexpired term.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

37 Decision, p. 18.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

38 BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 379 (9th ed., 2009).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

39 Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. NLRC, G.R. NO. 120567, March 20, 1998, 287 SCRA 672.



SEPARATE CONCURRING OPINION

BRION, J.:

I concur with the conclusion reached by Justice Jose Catral Mendoza that the IBP-Western Visayas is not the only region that has not been chosen by the Board of Governors (BOG) for the post of Executive Vice President (EVP) in the current rotational cycle, and cannot therefore automatically claim the EVP position for the 2011-2013 term.

I dispute the positions in Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr.'s Dissent relating to the nature of the rulings of this Court in administrative matters, particularly his application of the doctrine of immutability of judgments, the strict application of the Rules of Court in administrative matters, and all his other arguments proceeding from these premises.

The best and most responsible recourse for the Court to take under the circumstances - taking into account its constitutional supervisory authority over the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), and the already confused IBP electoral history - is to order an election for the EVP position for the 2011-2013 term open to all regions and thereby recognize the start of a new rotational cycle for the JBP pursuant to the December 14, 2010 amendment of Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-laws.

As a pro-active response of the Court to clear the seeds of confusion that has plagued the IBP and to stress the need for continuing study and consultations between the Court and the IBP on what is best for the organization, I propose the creation of a new continuing IBP Committee in the Court to generally handle the IBP's affairs; to study and suggest recommendations; to take the lead and initiative in efforts concerning the JBP; and to troubleshoot whatever problems may occur, instead of creating a special committee whenever an JBP problem arises.

The IBP

I begin with a brief background of the organizational structure of the IBP, the official organization of all Philippine lawyers (now numbering about 50,000) whose names appear in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court.1 The IBP is divided into nine (9) geographic regions, namely: "Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, Bicolandia, Greater Manila, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Western Mindanao and Eastern Mindanao."2chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Each of these regions is subdivided into Chapters and is represented by a Governor elected by delegates from among the member-Chapters of each region.3 These nine (9) Governors constitute the BOG which governs and has general charge of the IBP's affairs and activities.4 Aside from the Governors, the other national officers of the IBP are: the IBP President, the EVP, the National Secretary, the National Treasurer, and the heads of the National Committees.5chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The IBP President, the EVP and the Governors hold office for two (2) years, from July 1 of their first year until June 30 of their second year in office.6 After their election to the BOG, the members elect from among themselves the new EVP who previous to the recent December 14, 2010 amendments automatically and expressly served as the IBP President for the next term.7chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The IBP President is the Chief Executive Officer of the IBP. He presides over all meetings of the BOG.8 The EVP, on the other hand, exercises the powers, functions and duties of the IBP President during the latter's absence or inability to act, and performs such other functions and duties the IBP President and the BOG may assign to him. The EVP, as an incumbent Governor, is a voting member of the BOG.9chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The Controversy

The current controversy10 before us directly followed and is related to an earlier controversy the election of the Governor for the IBP-Western Visayas for the 2011-2013 term. This earlier controversy posed the question of how the required rotation of the post of Governor should be applied to the IBP member-Chapters in that region.

We resolved this earlier IBP-Western Visayas controversy through our December 4, 2012 Resolution in the present Administrative Matter.11 We held that all the chapters in a region shall have the equal opportunity to compete for the position of Governor during one rotational cycle and can only serve once during that cycle; every winning Chapter shall be excluded after serving its term during the cycle, and shall be eligible to serve as Governor only in the next rotational cycle.12chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

In contrast with the earlier local IBP-Western Visayas problem, the current problem affects the IBP at the national level as it raises the issue of who should be eligible for election as EVP for the current 2011-2013 term. This EVP post, incidentally, is still vacant for the reasons explained below.

The eligibility issue surfaced after IBP-Southern Luzon intervened in the present Administrative Matter with the position that the election for the post of EVP for the current 2011-2013 term should now be open to all regions.

IBP-Western Visayas opposes the IBP-Southern Luzon's position and maintains that under the IBP's prevailing rotation by exclusion rule, IBP-Western Visayas is the only region that has not been chosen by the BOG for the post of EVP in the current rotation cycle, and should thus automatically hold the EVP position for the 2011-2013 term.

At stake in these opposing positions is not only the EVP position for the current 2011-2013 term, but the IBP Presidency for the 2013-2015 term under the IBP's unexpressed rule on succession. At a deeper level, however, and from the perspective of IBP history and its best interest, the issue is best expressed as:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Should the Court now recognize the start of a new rotational cycle pursuant to the December 14, 2010 amendment of the IBP By-laws and thereby start a new rotational cycle with a clean slate and unburdened by the confused electoral records of the past?

This formulation poses complicated issues of interpretation, IBP history, objectives and best interests, and requires a bold and decisive solution from this Court.

The Primary Governing Law

The logical starting point of this consideration is the source from where the present problem can be traced Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws, as amended by Bar Matter No. 491. The provision states:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Section 47. National Officers. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall have a President and Executive Vice President to be chosen by the Board of Governors from among nine (9) regional governors, as much as practicable, on a rotation basis. 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 to be appointed by the President with the consent of the Board. x x x

The Executive Vice President shall automatically become President for the next succeeding term. The Presidency shall rotate among the nine Regions. [emphases ours; italics supplied]

In its December 14, 2010 Resolution in the present Administrative Matter,13 the Court further amended Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws by deleting the provision on the election of the President considering that the "IBP no longer elects its President" since "the EVP automatically succeeds the President at the end of his term."14 The provision, as further amended, now reads:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

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.15 (italics and emphasis supplied)

Interestingly, this new provision while intending an automatic succession to the Presidency does not expressly so provide.

a. The Elements of the amended Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws Broken down to its components, Section 47, as amended, contains the following elements:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

1. The IBP shall have a BOG consisting of nine (9) regional Governors, and its national officers shall be the President, the EVP, the Secretary, and the Treasurer, with each member of the BOG serving as ex officio Vice-President for their respective regions.

2. The EVP shall be elected on a strict rotation basis by the BOG from among themselves, by the vote of at least five (5) Governors.

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

Elements (1) and (3) do not materially figure in, nor do they contribute to, the controversy. The problem, as has happened in the past, relates to the element of rotation where its manner is the disputed issue.

b. Some Questions and Answers

A first basic question that should be answered is: what position, according to the IBP By-Laws, should rotate?

The previous version of Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws (as amended by Bar Matter No. 491) provides the ready and express answer the Presidency should rotate among the nine (9) regions.

In other words, a rotation previously required that all nine (9) regions, through their respective Governors, shall at some time during a rotational cycle take their "turn" as IBP President. This directive was by the express and direct wording of the By-Laws and could not thus be simply disregarded; it was the Presidency that must rotate among the regions, subject only to the "as much as practicable" qualifier.

In other words, the previous rule on rotation was considered from the prism of the Presidency, not from the prism of the EVP. This requirement for presidential rotation stood firm until its amendment under the Court's December 14, 2010 Resolution cited above.

The new amendment now requires that "the EVP shall be elected on a strict rotation basis by the BOG from among themselves." This means that the EVP position should rotate among the nine (9) regions. Whether the EVP will be the President in the next term, the present By-Laws do not expressly state but this is the intent expressed by the Court in its December 14, 2010 Resolution.

Thus, the rotation rule should now be considered from the prism of the EVP, not from the prism of the Presidency; it is now the EVP that must be counted, considered and assured. The rotation of the Presidency is now only a subsidiary consideration that must bow to the primacy of the EVP's rotation.

c. Historical Perspectives

How the IBP and the Supreme Court have actually applied the rotation requirement is interesting and, to some extent, confusing.

c.i. Evolution of the IBP Electoral System

An overriding consideration in looking at the rotational rule and its application is its origin since rotation has not consistently been the rule in the IBP.

The system of electing IBP Governors and the choice of national officials by the BOG came with the original IBP By-Laws in 1973.16 The direct system that then prevailed has been described as follows:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Before, members of the Board were directly elected by the members of the House of Delegates at its annual convention held every other year. The election was a two-tiered process. First, the Delegates from each region chose by secret plurality vote, not less than two nor more than five nominees for the position of Governor for their Region. The names of all the nominees, arranged by region and in alphabetical order, were written on the board within the full view of the House, unless complete mimeographed copies of the lists were distributed to all the Delegates. Thereafter, each Delegate, or, in his absence, his alternate voted for only one nominee for Governor for each Region. The nominee from every Region receiving the highest number of votes was declared and certified elected by the Chairman.17 (citations omitted)

The Governors elected as described above constituted the House of Delegates that directly elected the National President and Vice President.

c.ii. Bar Matter No. 491

The direct election system was changed after the 1989 IBP national election that was marred by massive irregularities. The matter was brought to this Court and was docketed as Bar Matter No. 491 which the Court resolved on October 6, 1989. The ruling, made pursuant to the Court's constitutional supervisory authority over the IBP, introduced sweeping electoral reforms in the election of the IBP national officers.

Under this ruling, the Court:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

(1) annulled the results of the 1989 national elections because of the massive irregularities;cralawlibrary

(2) abolished the direct election of national officers by the House of Delegates;cralawlibrary

(3) restored the former system of having the IBP President and the EVP elected by the BOG from among themselves, as well as the right of automatic succession by the EVP to the Presidency upon the expiration of the IBP President's two-year term; and

(4) reinstated the rotational rule.18chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

c.iii. The Rotation System

The Court explained in Garcia v. De Vera19 the rationale for the rotational rule, as follows:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The changes adopted by the Court simplified the election process and thus made it less controversial. The grounds for disqualification were reduced, if not totally eradicated, for the pool from which the Delegates may choose their nominees is diminished as the rotation process operates.

The simplification of the process was in line with this Court's vision of an Integrated Bar which is non-political and effective in the discharge of its role in elevating the standards of the legal profession, improving the administration of justice and contributing to the growth and progress of the Philippine society. [emphasis, italics and underscore ours]

Another Court ruling put it more bluntly and succinctly: the rotational rule was primarily instituted "in order to give all the regions and chapters their respective turns, each for a term of two years, to have a representative in the top positions, with the aim of restoring the non-political character of the IBP and reducing the temptation of electioneering for the said posts."20chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The Court made the rotational rule under Bar Matter No. 491 operational under the following terms:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

4. At the end of the President's two-year term, the Executive Vice-President shall automatically succeed to the office of President. The incoming Board of Governors shall then elect an Executive Vice-President from among themselves. The position of Executive Vice-President shall be rotated among the nine (9) IBP regions. One who has served as President may not run for election as Executive Vice-President in a succeeding election until after the rotation of the presidency among the nine (9) regions shall have been completed; whereupon, the rotation shall begin anew.21chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

In other words, while it was the Presidency that was expressly rotated, the rotation was made operational in the election of the EVP because of the rule on automatic succession,

To reflect the reinstatement of the rotational system and the other desired responses to the 1989 election irregularities, the Court under Bar Matter No. 491 ordered the amendment of Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws so that it read as quoted above. As an interim measure, the Court also designated an interim caretaker board22 that conducted the special elections for the Governors of the nine (9) regions.

c.iv. The Operation of the Rotational System

As envisioned, the elected Governors for the 1989-1991 term chose the IBP President and the EVP among themselves and thus started the implementation of the presidential rotational system. The members of the 1989-1991 BOG and their represented regions were:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Table No. 1

Elected GovernorsRegion
Conrado V. PosadasNorthern Luzon
Numeriano G. Tanopo, Jr.Central Luzon
Yolanda Q. JavellanaGreater Manila
Francisco B. SantiagoSouthern Luzon
Mariano M. SibuloBicolandia
Benedicto H. AloEastern Visayas
Eugene A. TanWestern Visayas
Elias B. LopezEastern Mindanao
Macabangkit B. LantoWestern Mindanao

The Board elected from among themselves on January 28, 1990 Eugene A. Tan of Capiz, Western Visayas, as IBP President, and Numeriano G. Tanopo, Jr. of Pangasinan, Central Luzon as EVP. The official records of the IBP indicate that Atty. Tan served as IBP President only from January 28, 1990 to April 1991.23 Atty. Tanopo succeeded Atty. Tan, initially as Acting President from the latter's remaining April to June 1991 term, and subsequently as President in his own right from 1991-1993 as the 2nd IBP President in the presidential rotational system.

In these lights, the rotational cycle should be counted from the time of Bar Matter No. 491, when the Court provided for the rotational system and the rule on automatic succession, and called for the election of the IBP President and EVP for the 1989-1991 term. This term constituted the first "turn" in the cycle. Part of this term, of course, was under a caretaker, as a preliminary and preparatory measure under the developments that spawned Bar Matter No. 491.

For easy consideration of how the Bar Matter No. 491 changes actually operated, the tabulation below shows the IBP election developments from the 1989-1991 term up to the present:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Table No. 224chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

PIBP TermPresidentExecutive Vice President
1989-19911. Eugene A. Tan
Western Visayas

a. Justice Felix Antonio served as
Interim Caretaker (Oct. 19, 1989-Jan. 27, 1990)
b. Pres. Tan resigned in April 1991
c. EVP Tanopo served as Acting
President from April 1991-June 30,
1991
1. Numeriano G.
Tanopo, Jr.
Central Luzon
1991-19932. Numeriano G. Tanopo. Jr.
Central Luzon

a. July 1, 1991-June 30, 1993
2. Mervin Encanto
Greater Manila Area
a. July 1, 1991-June
30, 1993
1993-19953. Mervin Encanto
Greater Manila Area

a. July 1, 1993-June 30, 1995
3. Raul R. Angangco
Southern Luzon

a. July 1, 1993-June 30,
1995
1995-19974. Raul R. Angangco
Southern Luzon

a. July 1, 1995-June 30, 1997
4. Jose Aguila Grapilon
Eastern Visayas
a. July 1, 1995-June 30,
1997
1997-19995. Jose Aguila Grapilon
Eastern Visayas

a. July 1, 1997-June 30, 1999
5. Arthur Lim
Western Mindanao
a. July 1, 1997-June 30,
1999
 6. Arthur Lim
Western Mindanao

a. July 1, 1999-June 30, 2001
6. Teopilo Pilanto, Jr.
Northern Luzon
a. July 1, 1999-June 30,
2001
2001-20037. Teopilo Pilanto, Jr.
Northern Luzon

a. July 1, 2001-June 30, 2003
7. Jose Anselmo Cadiz Bicolandia
a. July 1, 2001-June 30,
2003
2003-20058. Jose Anselmo Cadiz
Bicolandia

a. July 1, 2003-June 30, 2005
8. Leonard de Vera
Eastern Mindanao
a. July 1, 2003-removed
from office on May 13,
2005 as Governor and
EVP.
b. Replaced by Jose
Vicente Salazar

(Bicolandia) for the
rest of the term.
2005-2007

9. Jose Vicente Salazar
Bicolandia
August 2006-June 30, 2007
a. Jose A. Cadiz initially served as
Holdover President while case
was pending (July 1, 2005-Aug.
2006)
b. Assumed office in August 2006
up to June 30, 2007

9. Feliciano Bautista
Central Luzon
a. July 1, 2005-June 30,
2007
2007-200910. Feliciano Bautista
Central Luzon

a. July 1, 2007-June 30, 2009
10. Rogelio Vinluan
Southern Luzon
a. July 1, 2007-June 30,
2009
b. Committed election
irregularity in April
2009 but still served
out his term as EVP
c. In the Court's ruling
of Dec. 14, 2010, was
declared unfit to
assume the Presidency
for the 2009-2011 term.
2009-201111. Justice Santiago Kapunan
Caretaker

a. served out the whole 2009-2011
term
11. Roan Libarios
Eastern Mindanao

a. July 1, 2009-June 30,
2011
2011-201312. Roan Libarios
Eastern Mindanao

a. July 1, 2011- Present
12. Vacant - Still Disputed

d. The Seeds of Confusion

d.i. The First Seed of Confusion:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The De Vera EVP Term

Counting from the Presidency of Atty. Tan of IBP-Western Visayas, the presidential rotation followed the following pattern and succession:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

1. Western Visayas Eugene Tan, 1989-1991

2. Central Luzon Numeriano Tanopo, Jr., 1991-1993

3. Greater Manila Mervin Encanto, 1993-1995

4. Southern Luzon Raul Angangco, 1995-1997

5. Eastern Visayas Jose Grapilon, 1997-1999

6. Western Mindanao Arthur Lim, 1999-2001

7. Northern Luzon Teofilo Pilanto, Jr., 2001-2003

8. Bicolandia J. Anselmo Cadiz, 2003-2005

leaving only one region Eastern Mindanao without any IBP President from among the nine (9) regions; its turn as IBP President in the 2005-2007 term would have completed the rotation that Bar Matter No. 491 ushered in. The failure to complete the rotation was not due to any defect in the system, however, as Atty. Leonard De Vera was in fact elected the EVP for Eastern Mindanao for the IBP 2003-2005 term and would have been IBP President for the 2005-2007 term, had he not been removed as Governor and EVP very shortly before his term as EVP ended.

In Velez v. Atty. De Vera,25 the Court dealt with the issue of whether the replacement of Atty. De Vera as EVP should come from Eastern Mindanao to preserve the rotation rule under Section 47, Article VII, of the IBP By-Laws. The Court replied in the negative and held that the rotation rule had been completed despite the non-assumption of Atty. De Vera to the IBP Presidency. The ruling held that:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

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.26 (emphases ours)

By this ruling, the Court itself appear to have planted the first seed of confusion by separately considering the rotation system and the matter of presidential succession, thereby disregarding the express wordings of the IBP By-laws.

How and why Atty. De Vera was removed from the position of EVP is an interesting tale that should be told in order to fully appreciate the Court's ruling.

In the 20th regular meeting of the BOG held on May 13, 2005 at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City, the BOG, by a 2/3 vote, resolved to remove Atty. De Vera as member of the BOG and as EVP under a Resolution that mainly cites "the untruthful statements, innuendos and blatant lies in public about the Supreme Court and members of the IBP Board of Governors" that Atty. De Vera uttered during the plenary session of the IBP 10th National Convention in relation to the decision of the BOG to withdraw the petition docketed as "Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Jose Anselmo Cadiz, et al. v. The Senate of the Philippines, et al., SC-GR 165108." These acts were also cited as bases for the disbarment proceedings against Atty. De Vera.27chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

In EVP De Vera's stead, the BOG installed IBP Governor Pura Angelica Y. Santiago (of Southern Luzon) as EVP. Atty. De Vera immediately protested the election of Atty. Santiago who responded by voluntarily relinquishing her EVP position through a letter to the BOG.

On June 25, 2005, the BOG elected IBP Governor Salazar of Bicolandia as the new EVP to replace Atty. Santiago.28 With the election of Atty. Salazar of Bicolandia, Eastern Mindanao effectively lost its chance to claim the IBP Presidency by succession in the 2005-2007 term. In this manner the system of rotation and succession then in place was derailed.

d.ii. The Second Seed of Confusion:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The Cadiz & Salazar Presidencies

In the subsequent 2005-2007 IBP term (that should have been Eastern Mindanao's turn in the Presidency), EVP Salazar did not immediately assume the post of IBP President (in light of the legal controversy that attended his assumption as EVP), and Atty. Jose Anselmo Cadiz served as holdover President until a new President was chosen and qualified.

The elected EVP for the 2005-2007 term Atty. Feliciano Bautista of Central Luzon (who should have been the EVP of an Eastern Mindanao President) protested this arrangement, leading the Court to rule in A.M. No. 05-7-19-SC in favor of Atty. Cadiz as interim holdover President. The Court cited Section 49 of the IBP By-Laws that the outgoing IBP President shall continue to hold office until his successor is chosen and qualified. At the same time, the Court ordered the elected EVP for the term to cease exercising the powers and functions of the Acting IBP President.

In Velez v. Atty. De Vera,29 the Court confirmed Atty. Salazar's election by the BOG as EVP for the remainder of Atty. De Vera's 2003-2005 term. As a consequence, Atty. Salazar of the Bicolandia Region succeeded to the Presidency for the 2005 2007 IBP term (August 2006 to June 30, 2007) the term that should have been Eastern Mindanao's under the prevailing systems of rotation and succession, had De Vera continued in his 2003-2005 EVP post and succeeded to the Presidency in the 2005-2007 term.

The Court's Velez conclusion was apparently not a very precise one; despite the disruption of the rotational system by Atty. De Vera's removal as EVP and his consequent failure to succeed to the IBP Presidency, the Court still concluded that with the election of Atty. De Vera as EVP, each of the nine (9) regions had already produced an EVP so that the rotational cycle had been completed.

This conclusion based its consideration from the prism of the EVP and in this sense ran counter to the express terms of Section 47, as amended by Bar Matter No. 491. It could have only been correct if it proceeded from the implied premise that with the election of Atty. De Vera to the EVP post in the 2003-2005 term, the 2005-2007 Presidency could have been Eastern Mindanao's as Atty. De Vera should have succeeded to this post had it not been for his removal from office. Based on this line of reasoning, the Court would still have impliedly counted the rotation from the prism of the Presidency.

Another implied premise in the Court's conclusion was the counting of the rotational cycle from the Presidency of Atty. Eugene Tan in the 1989-1991 IBP term. While the basis for the count was correct, the Court did not express its reason in the manner demanded by the wording of the IBP By-laws, as amended by Bar Matter No. 491. The Court apparently looking at the operational side of the rotation and not at the requirements of Bar Matter No. 491amendement expressed its conclusion in terms of the completion of the rotational cycle with the election of Atty. De Vera as EVP.

The Velez seed of confusion further grew when the Court, while recognizing the completeness of the rotational cycle with the election of Atty. De Vera as EVP in 2003-2005, did not expressly declare that a new rotational cycle for EVP started under the 2005-2007 term of President Salazar. This declaration, had one been made, would have effectively recognized that a new presidential rotation was to take place by succession starting from the 2007-2009 term.

With Velez as the basic premise and take off point, the choice for the EVP for the 2005-2007 IBP term should have been open to all regions to usher in a new round of presidential rotation in the 2007-2009 IBP term. This was the term of Atty. Feliciano Bautista as the 2005-2007 EVP, making him the first EVP in the 2nd rotational cycle from the prism of the EVP post, and, by succession, the first President in the 2nd presidential rotational cycle in 2007-2009 IBP presidential term.

d.iii. Further Seeds of Confusion:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The Ghosts of 1989 in 2009

Under Atty. Bautista of Central Luzon's Presidency in the 2007 2009 IBP term, Atty. Rogelio Vinluan of Southern Luzon was elected as EVP without any accompanying controversy. In the regular course, EVP Vinluan would have assumed the presidency for the 2009 2011 term, but another election controversy intervened immediately before the end of the Bautista Presidency, i.e., immediately before EVP Vinluan succeeded as President.

In the election of 2009 (held on April 25, 2009), six members of the BOG were proclaimed without any question. They were: Atty. Ma. Milagros N. Fernan-Cayosa (Northern Luzon); Atty. Ferdinand Y. Miclat (Central Luzon); Atty. Amador Tolentino, Jr. (Southern Luzon); Atty. Jose V. Cabrera (Bicolandia); Atty. Roland B. Inting (Eastern Visayas) and Atty. Roan Y. Libarios (Eastern Mindanao).30chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The results of the election of the other Governors, namely: Attys. Manuel M. Maramba of Greater Manila, Erwin M. Fortunato of Western Visayas, and Nasser A. Marohomsalic of Western Mindanao, were held in abeyance because of the controversy that attended the Greater Manila election for Governor.

In resolving this controversy at the BOG level, certain officials in the 2007-2009 term (who were still in office prior to the turnover to the officials for the incoming 2009 2011 term) acted on their own by holding a special meeting presided over by EVP Vinluan, in defiance of the authority of 2007-2009 IBP President Bautista. In this special meeting, they proclaimed Atty. Elpidio Soriano as the Governor for Greater Manila.31 This move was contested and came to this Court under the present Administrative Matter Magsino, et al. v. Vinluan, et al., A.C. No. 8292 and A.M. No. 09-5-2-SC.32chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

In its Resolution of December 14, 2010, the Court, among others, confirmed the election of Governors Maramba, Fortunato and Marohomsalic; called for a special election for the position of EVP for the 2009-2011 term; found 2007-2009 officials EVP Vinluan, and Governors Abelardo Estrada, Bonifacio Barandon, Evergisto Escalon, and Raymund Mercado guilty of grave professional misconduct, and disqualified them from holding any IBP position in any future election; and declared EVP Vinluan unfit to hold his position and unqualified to assume the office of IBP President for the 2009-2011 term. The Court likewise designated retired Supreme Court Justice Santiago Kapunan as Office-in-Charge of the IBP until June 30, 2011.33 The Court decreed as well the further amendment of Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws, quoted above.

d.iv. The 2009-2011 Caretaker Term:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The Ailing IBP

The 2009-2011 can be described as ailing, not because of the caretaker or Officer-in-Charge, retired SC Justice Santiago Kapunan, but because of the unusual character of that term.

The term of the regular President for the 2009-2011 term should have started on July 1, 2009, but there was no President in place at that time. Neither was there any Executive Vice President as none had been elected in light of the incomplete composition of the BOG that resulted from the 2009 election controversy. The ruling of the Court on the controversy was not also immediately forthcoming. It was not until December 14, 2010 or seventeen (17) months of the 24-month term that the Court resolution came.

In the special election for the position of EVP for the 2009-2011 term, Atty. Roan Libarios of Eastern Mindanao was elected. His election came a short six (6) months before the end of the 2009-2011 term so that he was only effectively there to be President for the 2011-2013 term. Not to be forgotten at this juncture is that the Court also further amended Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws.

This was effectively the situation under which EVP Libarios took over as President on July 1, 2011. The IBP was not dead as the resurrected Lazarus of biblical fame had been, but it was an ailing organization that continued to be bedeviled by earlier-planted seeds of confusion.

d.v. The Libarios 2011-2013 Term:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Incomplete Normalcy

The Libarios presidency was a period generally characterized by a return to normalcy, except for the lingering uncertainty that the Western Visayas regional governorship controversy brought with it. The Western Visayas regional election, supposed to be held on May 7, 2011, was the subject of a Temporary Restraining Order from the Court and no election was held on that day.

This is the problem that was first mentioned in the opening of this Separate Opinion as the controversy that ushered in the rotational issue, albeit at the local level and one that had since been resolved. On the heels of this resolved regional problem came the present national rotational issue on who can run for the EVP position for the 2011-2013 term.

SOLUTIONS AND CONCLUSIONS

At this point, a completely legalistic solution may leap out of the recital of the laws involved and the attendant factual developments. The problem before the Court, however, is not a controversy that a completely legalistic approach would fully resolve. It does not involve the usual exercise of adjudicative power over justiciable controversies; it is not a dispute where the Court stands as a third party to the problem, i.e., a third party whom the disputing parties approached for an authoritative ruling and who would then leave the parties to themselves after it renders a ruling.

The Court's rule in the present controversy is closer to that of a direct participant than to that of an impartial third party judge or arbitrator. In a very real sense, it is a participant as it cannot choose to dissociate or distance itself from the problem, from the solutions, and from the consequences of the actions it has taken or will take on IBP matters.

The IBP is a mandatory association of Philippine lawyers and all Members of the Court, as a requirement of the Constitution and of the judicial positions they hold, are members of the IBP. The same Philippine Constitution also imposes direct duties on the Court; it exercises mandatory regulatory and supervisory powers over the IBP as well as over all the members of the organization. These are not simply powers but duties on the part of the Court. Pursuant to this power and duty, the Court has acted on the IBP By-laws and the regulation of its activities, in fact, over the same problems that spawned the present controversy; in fact, the Court may have had its own lapses in resolving these problems.

From these perspectives, the resolution of the present controversy is not simply a matter of direct application or interpretation of the laws or of the rules utilizing legal as norms, principles and rules of procedures. The present controversy requires, more than anything else, the use of foresight, wisdom, lessons learned from experience and history, a good feel for the objectives and purposes of the IBP, and to a large extent, a sense of mission for the organization and for the nation that the IBP and all its members are sworn to serve.

For these reasons, the various aspects of the present controversy ought to be examined closely without omitting or glossing over any matter offered as a solution. It is in this spirit that the various options and even the positions taken by the Dissent are examined below.

A. The First Option to Adopt and Apply the Velez ruling.

The first region to avail of its turn under the Bar Matter No. 491 rotational cycle, as shown by Table 2 above, was Western Visayas with the election of Atty. Tan as President and Atty. Tanopo of Central Luzon as EVP. This starting point is as a given, having been the first election decreed under Bar Matter No. 491 without any expressed qualification or terms of limitation. Specifically, the Tan Presidency was never, impliedly or expressly, considered a temporary or a transitional term under Bar Matter No. 491. It was simply the starting point of the presidential rotation that Bar Matter No. 491 established and should likewise be considered as the starting point for consideration in resolving the various aspects of the present controversy.

Under this premise, the first full round of rotation should have been completed with the Presidency of Eastern Mindanao in the 2005-2007 term, ushered in, under the rules on succession, by the election of Atty. De Vera of Eastern Mindanao as EVP for the 2003-2005 term. Both the rules on succession and rotation would then have been totally satisfied under the original terms of Section 47, Article VII of the By-laws, as amended by Bar Matter No. 491.

The Velez ruling, unfortunately, only declared the rule on rotation completed and satisfied upon Atty. De Vera's election as EVP and omitted to state that it would have effectively ushered in Eastern Mindanao's Presidency through succession in the following 2005-2007 term. Recall on this point that the original By-laws expressly required that it was the Presidency, not the EVP position that had to be rotated so that there was effectively a three-stage process leading to the rotation. First, there is the election of the EVP, then his or her succession, and finally, the assumption to the presidency and rotation. Velez only provided for the first stage and in this sense, was incomplete in its terms and explanation.

The incompleteness, however, does not necessarily lead to the invalidity of the Velez ruling as it was still partially correct, i.e., if the ruling would be understood in the sense that the 2005-2007 Presidency would have been an Eastern Mindanao turn that simply did not happen because of the removal of the duly elected EVP for Eastern Mindanao in the previous 2003-2005 term. In other words, the De Vera election as EVP was a reality that could not be erased but was not only carried to completion.

From this perspective, the EVP for the 2005-2007 term (i.e., the EVP who served under what would have been an Eastern Mindanao Presidency) can still be recognized as the Vice Presidency that ushered in the new presidential rotation that would have been served in the 2007-2009 term. This 2005-2007 EVP and 2007-2009 President was Atty. Feliciano Bautista. Under this view, the 2005-2007 EVP election should have been open to all regions as it was the EVP post that would have ushered in a new presidential rotation in the 2007-2009 IBP term.

With the Bautista election as EVP in the 2005-2007 term and his Presidency in 2007-2009 as the starting points, the IBP-Western Visayas' position that it should automatically get the 2011-2013 EVP post clearly fails.

It must necessarily fail as starting from Atty. Bautista of Central Luzon in 2005-2007 only two other EVPs have been elected, namely: Atty. Vinluan of Southern Luzon (who would have been disqualified as EVP were it not for the completion of his term as such, and who was declared unfit to assume the Presidency in the 2009-2011 term) and Atty. Libarios of Eastern Mindanao for the 2009-2011 term.

The South Luzon position that the 2011-2013 should be open to all regions similarly fails. With Eastern Mindanao excluded because it cannot serve successive presidencies (i.e., 2011-13 and 2013-15), all regions other than Central Luzon, Southern Luzon and Eastern Mindanao, can compete for the 2011-2013 EVP post. This is far from the completely open election that South Luzon advocates. Likewise, the EVP post should still be open to six other regions, not only to Western Visayas.

Thus, both the Western Visayas and South Luzon positions must fail if a properly viewed and understood Velez ruling would be followed. To this extent, I concur with the ponencia of Justice Mendoza.

I draw a limit however to the disposition of the present Administrative Matter based on Velez ruling even if this ruling is viewed and understood as discussed above. The simple reason for this position is that a Velez-based disposition is not the best ruling that this Court can make because of the gaps and the seeds of confusion that Velez generated. These seeds can only germinate and sow the wind with further confusion if adopted by this Court. In other words, a disposition based on Velez is far from the wise, reasonable and sober ruling that the Court's relationship with the IBP and its duties under the Constitution demand.

B. The Second Option Open the 2011-2013 EVP Election Open to All Regions by Considering the Present Term of Eastern Mindanao as the Completion of the Rotation that Started in the 1989-1991 Term.

Despite the amendment of Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws on December 14, 2010 mandating a rotation rule viewed from the prism of the EVP, the Court cannot ignore the reality that prior to the present amendment (i.e., from 1989-1991 term until December 2010), the prevailing rule was the rotation of the Presidency among the regions, i.e., the rotational rule must be considered from the prism of the Presidency and not of the Vice-Presidency.

This previous rule on rotation stood firm until its amendment only on December 14, 2010 - way into Atty. Libarios' EVP term or only six months before his EVP term ended on June 30, 2011.

Note in this regard that prior to the present amendment, the first rotational cycle would have been completed in the 2005-2007 term with the Presidency of Eastern Mindanao but no Eastern Mindanao Presidency actually came to pass. Note, too, that separately from the rule on presidential rotation, the By-Laws also provided for succession; the presidential rotation was carried out through the succession of the previous term's EVP to the Presidency.

Since Eastern Mindanao had not had its "turn" at the IBP Presidency (as the succession of its EVP did not take place) until the term of Atty. Libarios as President , the second option open to the Court is to consider the first cycle of presidential rotation completed only by the current Presidency of Atty. Libarios. This option proceeds from the following premises:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

(1) Bar Matter No. 491 lays down the starting point of the IBP's system of rotation from the prism of the Presidency under an arrangement that calls for the succession of the EVP to the Presidency; and

(2) these rules on rotation and succession prevailed until the amendment of Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws on December 14, 2010, decreeing the rotation of the EVP position but without any express reference to the rule on succession;cralawlibrary

(3) the recent amendment of Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws should be interpreted prospectively so that it would take effect from the 2011-2013 term the first turn in the EVP rotation; and

(4) the Court would further amend the By-Laws to restore the automatic succession of the EVP to the post of President effective 2011-2013.

This option means that both the Presidency of Bicolandia (IBP President Salazar) and the subsequent term of Central Luzon (IBP President Bautista) should be considered by this Court if it were to really uphold fairness, the principles of Bar Matter No. 491, and the then prevailing terms of Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws to be aberrant developments for purposes of the system of succession and rotation as they sidetracked what should have been these systems' smooth and proper implementation.

To be sure, these intervening presidencies can possibly be justified from the non-rotational and practical perspectives by the qualifier "as far as practicable" pointed out above; this interpretation is, in fact, the only justification available to support the Court's actions in the election of Salazar as EVP and his succession to the Presidency in 2005-2007 term.

The consequence though that cannot be denied under this view is that the 2011 2013 term of IBP President Libarios of Eastern Mindanao is that region's only "turn" at the Presidency and is thus the only turn that effectively completes the 1st presidential rotational cycle that started with IBP President Tan in the 1989 1991 term under Bar Matter No. 491. No rotation can simply be complete unless all the regions have taken their "turns" at the Presidency the position that matters under the terms of Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws prior to 2010.

Thus, while the Bicolandia 2005-2007 and Central Luzon 2007-2009 terms in the Presidency may find justification, for practical purposes, under the cover of the above qualifier, they remain aberrant terms because of their effects on the system of succession and rotation, and should be simply disregarded for purposes of the rotational rule. Of course, these regions were not in any way at fault; they simply followed the then current Supreme Court rulings. But at this later point, when we already act with the benefit of experience and hindsight, in a balancing test between the start of a new rotation cycle under the Bicolandia 2005-2007 presidency and a new beginning after the 2011 2013 Eastern Mindanao Presidency, the balance should tilt in favor of the latter after considering:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

● the wording of the IBP By-Laws prior to their amendment in 2010;cralawlibrary

● the nature and character of the irregularities, distortions and uncertainties that the rotation system seeks to address;cralawlibrary

● the long term effects of a Court ruling giving primacy to the strict application to the rotation rule (already signaled by the Court's December 14, 2010 ruling in the present Administrative Matter);cralawlibrary

● the fairness that this Court accords to Eastern Mindanao by its recognition of the turn of this Region in the IBP's first rotational cycle; and

● the opportunity for a very smooth and seamless transition in the implementation of the newly amended Section 47; the Court is now offered the unique opportunity of implementing the amended Section 47 without the need for any disruptive transitional measures since the 2011-2013 EVP position is vacant.

With the terms of Attys. Salazar and Bautista disregarded for purposes of the rotational rule, President Libarios effectively becomes the 9th President whose term completes one full presidential rotation, where each region had been given a "turn" at the Presidency. Thus, Bar Matter No. 491 valid and effective up to December 14, 2010 has been completely complied with.

B.1. A New Beginning under the Second Option.

To start the next cycle of rotation from the prism this time of the EVP position and to do this prospectively, the rotation must start from the 2011-2013 term the term immediately following the December 14, 2010 amendment, whose EVP still needs to be elected. Automatic succession to the Presidency will likewise start but this will have to actually take place in the 2013-2015 term as succession speaks of a future event reckoned from the effectivity of the EVP rotation in 2011-2013.

Thus, the choice of EVP who would serve with President Libarios in the 2011-2013 term should be open to all regions, except only for Eastern Mindanao which cannot serve as President for two (2) consecutive terms. This is the unique opportunity that is open to the Court as the present 2011-2013 EVP position is vacant. Notably, no region would be prejudiced as all regions have at this point served their respective turns in the Presidency.

To sum up the discussions above, the completion of one rotation through the "turn" of the 9th region to the Presidency, and the start of a new system of rotation through the EVP rotation, mean that:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

● The 2011-2013 Presidency of President Libarios will end the rotation of Presidency as decreed under Bar Matter No. 491.

● The 2011 2013 term will signal and count as the start of the new rule on strict rotation of the EVP position; this will be the first turn in the EVP rotation.

● Elections can be held without need of any special transitory measures as the post of EVP for the 2011-2013 term remains vacant.

● The 2011 2013 EVP should be chosen at large among the remaining eight regions (i.e., excluding the region of the 9th President since this will be the first turn for the EVP position and since the Presidency should not come in succession from the same region).

● The 2011 2013 EVP will automatically succeed to the position of President for the 2013 2015 term (effectively the start of a new turn from the prism of the Presidency); the Court though still needs to put an automatic succession provision in place after its deletion under the December 14, 2010 amendment.

This conclusion is fully in accord with the conclusion of Justice Jose Catral Mendoza, based on his parallel reasoning on the matter. I submit that this is the most sound, fair, reasonable and practical conclusion under the circumstances.

To reiterate, it is fully in accord with and fully respects the rotation and succession systems that Bar Matter No. 491 dictated, while at the same time seamlessly blending the old rule with the new terms of Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws, as amended.

Most importantly, this option essentially fosters a fair result as it has respected the right of all IBP regions to serve the EVP and the Presidency, and at the same time gives the IBP a fresh start at another round of rotation with clearer terms. More than all these, by its insistence on the rule of rotation and that all regions should serve their "turns," it signals the Court's strong commitment to the rotational rule.

C. Refutation of Justice Velasco's Dissent

The Dissent essentially posits that Western Visayas should automatically be entitled to the 2011-2013 EVP position as the only region that has not served as EVP a conclusion that no less than this Court has recognized in its December 14, 2010 Resolution. It defends this position through the invocation of technical arguments, particularly, the immutability of the Court's judgment, estoppel, the impropriety of South Luzon's intervention, and finally, the correctness in computing the 1st round of presidential rotation.

The Dissent particularly emphasizes that intervenor IBP-Southern Luzon seeks to re-open and set aside the Court's December 14, 2010 Resolution that had long attained finality and immutability and that has been partially executed with the election of Atty. Libarios as EVP for the 2009-2011 term. It maintains that there has been no decision or resolution in the Court's history that annulled its previous final decision which was not based on a motion for reconsideration filed within the fifteen-day period to appeal the decision; the cases of Apo Fruits and Keppel are not controlling since the parties therein filed their motions for reconsideration within the fifteen-day period.

The Dissent's concerns are more specifically outlined below.

First, it argues that the petition for intervention filed by IBP-Southern Luzon after the finality of the Court's December 14, 2010 Resolution violates Section 2, Rule 19 of the Rules of Court and settled jurisprudence on finality and immutability of judgments. It asserts that the December 14, 2010 Resolution became final and executory after the Court denied with finality the Motion for Reconsideration filed by Atty. Elpido G. Soriano on February 8, 2011. Thus, the Resolution is already immutable and unalterable and intervention is barred.

Second, the Dissent avers that the IBP-Southern Luzon and Governor Joyas are estopped from questioning the Court's December 14, 2010 Resolution considering that Governor Joyas waited for more than one (1) full year after assuming the IBP-Southern Luzon Governor position before attempting to reopen the final resolution of the Court.

Third, the Dissent contends that IBP-Southern Luzon and Governor Joyas have no legal interest in the subject matter of litigation or in the success of either of the parties, in violation of Section 1, Rule 19 of the Rules Court. It notes that under the factual circumstances of the present case, IBP-Southern Luzon can no longer compete for the EVP position as it has already had two elected EVPs in the current rotation; thus, neither IBP-Southern Luzon nor Governor Joyas has any legal interest in the subject matter of the present case.

Fourth, the Dissent maintains that the Court's December 14, 2010 Resolution has already settled the question of who among the regions are entitled to compete for the EVP position for the 2011-2013 term. The Court particularly decreed in its ruling that either the governor of Western Visayas or Eastern Mindanao should be elected as EVP for the 2009-2011 term; the one not chosen for this term shall have his turn in the 2011-2013 term. Considering that IBP-Eastern Mindanao became the 8th region to have successfully secured a seat as EVP for the 2009-2011 term (with Atty. Libarios' election as EVP in the 2009-2011 term and his assumption to the Presidency for the 2011-2013 term), the Dissent concludes that IBP-Western Visayas is the only remaining region left to compete for the EVP for the 2011-2013 term.

Fifth, the Dissent notes that for purposes of the rotation rule, the appropriate reckoning point for the start of the present rotation should be Atty. Tanopo's election as EVP and not Atty. Tan's election as President. It cites the Court's ruling in Velez v. De Vera where the Court held that the rule on rotation by exclusion particularly pertains to the position of EVP while the automatic succession rule pertains to the Presidency. Thus, it maintains that for the process to be complete, one must first be elected as EVP for the current term before he or she can serve as President for the next term; this process must be satisfied in strict sequence before a specific IBP region is deemed to have completed its turn to the IBP leadership. The Dissent also notes that Atty. Tan's term should not be counted against IBP Western Visayas for it would be unfair to consider his term of one year and three months (as a "transition President") as equal to the supposed service of two years as EVP and another two years as President as mandated by Section 47, Article VII of the IBP-By Laws.

Finally, the Dissent emphasizes that under the rule of immutability of judgment, the Court is duty-bound to: (1) uphold its December 14, 2010 Resolution; (2) deny IBP-Southern Luzon's petition for intervention and declare IBP-Western Visayas as the only region qualified to file a candidate for EVP for the 2011-2013 term. It emphasizes that exceptions to the doctrine of immutability of judgments do not obtain in the present case. In addition, the Dissent notes that there are no intervening developments after the finality of the December 14, 2010 Resolution rendering its execution unjust and inequitable.

These arguments are addressed in the same order they are posed under the topical headings below.

The doctrine of immutability of/>judgments does not apply to the/>Court's exercise of supervisory/>powers over the IBP

The Dissent's preoccupation and invocation of the principle of immutability of judgment apparently blinded it to the true nature of the Court's December 14, 2010 Resolution that the Court issued pursuant to its constitutionally-mandated supervisory power over the IBP. Section 5, Article VIII of the Constitution mandates the Court's power of supervision over the IBP. This is the same power that the Court exercised in the issuance of the rules on the Writ of Amparo, the rules on the Writ of Kalikasan, and the Rules of Court, among others.

In Garcia v. De Vera,34 the Court held that that implicit in the constitutional grant to the Supreme Court of the power to promulgate rules affecting the IBP (under Section 5, Article VIII of the Constitution) is the power to supervise all the activities of the IBP, including the election of its officers. In ruling that that it had jurisdiction over the election of officers of the IBP, the Court elaborated on the constitutional history and the extent of the Court's supervisory powers over the IBP, as follows:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The authority of the Supreme Court over the IBP has its origins in the 1935 Constitution. Section 13, Art. VIII thereof granted the Supreme Court the power to promulgate rules concerning the admission to the practice of law. It reads:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

SECTION 13. The Supreme Court shall have the power to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, and the admission to the practice of law. Said rules shall be uniform for all courts of the same grade and shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights. The existing laws on pleading, practice, and procedure are hereby repealed as statutes, and are declared Rules of Courts, subject to the power of the Supreme Court to alter and modify the same. The Congress shall have the power to repeal, alter or supplement the rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure, and the admission to the practice of law in the Philippines.

The above-quoted sections in both the 1987 and 1935 Constitution and the similarly worded provision in the intervening 1973 Constitution through all the years have been the sources of this Courts authority to supervise individual members of the Bar. The term Bar refers to the collectivity of all persons whose names appear in the Roll of Attorneys. Pursuant to this power of supervision, the Court initiated the integration of the Philippine Bar by creating on October 5, 1970 the Commission on Bar Integration, which was tasked to ascertain the advisability of unifying the Philippine Bar. Not long after, Republic Act No. 6397 was enacted and it confirmed the power of the Supreme Court to effect the integration of the Philippine Bar. Finally, on January 1, 1973, in the per curiam Resolution of this Court captioned In the Matter of the Integration of the Bar to the Philippines, we ordained the Integration of the Philippine Bar in accordance with Rule 139-A, of the Rules of Court, which we promulgated pursuant to our rule-making power under the 1935 Constitution.

The IBP By-Laws, the document invoked by respondent De Vera in asserting IBP independence from the Supreme Court, ironically recognizes the full range of the power of supervision of the Supreme Court over the IBP. For one, Section 77 of the IBP By-Laws vests on the Court the power to amend, modify or repeal the IBP By-Laws, either motu propio or upon recommendation of the Board of Governors of the IBP. Also in Section 15, the Court is authorized to send observers in IBP elections, whether local or national. Section 44 empowers the Court to have the final decision on the removal of the members of the Board of Governors.

On the basis of its power of supervision over the IBP, the Supreme Court looked into the irregularities which attended the 1989 elections of the IBP National Officers. In Bar Matter No. 491 entitled In the Matter of the Inquiry into the 1989 Elections of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines the Court formed a committee to make an inquiry into the 1989 elections. The results of the investigation showed that the elections were marred by irregularities, with the principal candidates for election committing acts in violation of Section 14 of the IBP By-Laws. The Court invalidated the elections and directed the conduct of special elections, as well as explicitly disqualified from running thereat the IBP members who were found involved in the irregularities in the elections, in order to impress upon the participants, in that electoral exercise the seriousness of the misconduct which attended it and the stern disapproval with which it is viewed by this Court, and to restore the non-political character of the IBP and reduce, if not entirely eliminate, expensive electioneering.

The Court likewise amended several provisions of the IBP By-Laws. First, it removed direct election by the House of Delegates of the (a) officers of the House of Delegates; (b) IBP President; and (c) Executive Vice-President (EVP). Second, it restored the former system of the IBP Board choosing the IBP President and the Executive Vice President (EVP) from among themselves on a rotation basis (Section 47 of the By-Laws, as amended) and the automatic succession by the EVP to the position of the President upon the expiration of their common two-year term. Third, it amended Sections 37 and 39 by providing that the Regional Governors shall be elected by the members of their respective House of Delegates and that the position of Regional Governor shall be rotated among the different chapters in the region.

The foregoing considerations demonstrate the power of the Supreme Court over the IBP and establish without doubt its jurisdiction to hear and decide the present controversy. [emphasis supplied]

Pursuant to this supervisory power, the Court created a Special Investigating Committee 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 and any other election controversy involving other chapters of the IBP, if any, including the election of the Governors for Western Mindanao and Western Visayas."35chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The investigation focused specifically on the following issues or controversies:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

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

"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?36chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

On the basis of the findings of the Special Investigating Committee, the Court resolved the various controversies relating to the elections in the various chapters of the IBP; declared EVP Vinluan unfit to hold his position and unqualified to assume the office of IBP President for the 2009-2011 term; designated retired Supreme Court Justice Santiago Kapunan as Officer-in-Charge of the IBP, and decreed the amendment of Sections 31, 33, par. (g), 39, 42 and 43, Article VI and Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws.

All these rulings and directives rested on the Court's supervisory authority and were made in the exercise of the Court's administrative rather than its judicial or adjudicatory functions, and were made in the exercise of its power of supervision, not on the basis of the power of judicial review. The Dissent apparently did not consider that in the exercise of these supervisory powers, the Court's issuances did not involve strictly judicial matters that become final and immutable under strict adjudication rules.

In blunter terms, the Court's exercise of supervision is a continuing regulatory process; the rulings issued under this power are not cast in stone as the Dissent inaccurately portrays; these rulings remain open for review by the Court in light of prevailing circumstances as they develop.

An example of this ongoing regulatory supervision by the Court over the IBP is Section 77 of the IBP-By Laws, which gives the Court the power to amend, modify or repeal the IBP By-laws, either motu proprio or upon the recommendation of the Board of Governors, as the Court did in fact, in Bar Matter No. 491 and subsequently in its December 14, 2010 Resolution when it ordered the amendment of Sections 31, 33, par. (g), 39, 42 and 43, Article VI and Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws.

This continuing regulatory supervision by the Court over the IBP is also exemplified by the way the Court dealt with the series of "brewing controversies" that beset the IBP starting with: (1) the 1989 IBP elections in Bar Matter No. 491; (2) the effects of the abbreviated term of EVP De Vera in Velez v. Atty. De Vera , (3) the brewing election controversies in various chapters of the IBP as well as the elections for the EVP for the 2009-2011 term that resulted in the issuance of the December 14, 2010 Resolution; (4) the issues with respect to the election of Governor for IBP-Western Visayas the outcome of which was the issuance of the Court's December 14, 2012 Resolution that clarified that the rotational rule was one by exclusion, and, finally, (5) the present Administrative Matter on the question of who is qualified to nominate a candidate for the position of EVP for the 2011-2013 term. Notably, the controversies starting from the 2009 IBP incidents have been subsumed under one consolidated A.M./A.C. docket number.

The dynamic character of the Court's power of supervision over the IBP is also evident from the manner the Court treats administrative matters brought before it.

An administrative matter (such as the one filed before the Court in A.M. No. 09-5-2-SC and A.C. No. 8292, subject matter of the December 14, 2010 Resolution) that is entered in the Court's docket is either an administrative case (A.C.) or an administrative matter (A.M.) submitted to the Court for its consideration and action pursuant to its power of supervision.37chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

An administrative case (A.C.) involves disciplinary and other actions over members of the Bar, based on the Court's supervision over them arising from the Supreme Court's authority to promulgate rules relating to the admission to the practice of law and its authority over the Integrated Bar. Closely related to A.C. cases are the Bar Matter (B.M.) cases particularly those involving admission to the practice of law.38chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

An administrative matter (A.M.) is a matter based on the Supreme Court's power of supervision: under Section 6, Article VIII of the Constitution (the Court's administrative supervision over all courts and the personnel thereof); under Section 8 (supervision over the JBC); and under Section 5(5) (supervision over the IBP).39chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

In administrative matters concerning the IBP, the Court can supervise the IBP by ensuring the legality and correctness of the exercise of its powers as to means and manner, and by interpreting for it the constitutional provisions, laws and regulations affecting the means and manner of the exercise of its powers. The Court, of course, is the final arbiter in the interpretation of all these instruments. For this precise reason, the IBP By-laws reiterates that the Court has the plenary power to amend, modify or repeal the IBP By-laws in accordance with policies it deems, not only consistent with the Constitution, laws and regulations, but also as may be necessary, practicable and appropriate in light of prevailing circumstances.

It is in this sense that no entry of judgment is made with respect to administrative matters brought before the Court because special circumstances may affect or radically change the directives or policies the Court may decree or adopt. In concrete terms, the Court may change, suspend or repeal these directives or policies if its finds their application to be contrary to law or public policy or inappropriate under the prevailing circumstances.

That administrative matters before the Court are not subject to the doctrine of immutability of judgments also find emphasis in administrative matters involving violations of ethical standards (such as the Code of Professional Responsibility or Code of Judicial Conduct) which are reviewed by the Court years after the promulgation of the decision or resolution upon a petition for clemency by the respondent. In many instances, the Court changes its rulings upon proof that the petitioner has reformed or suffered enough on account of his or her unethical conduct.

In the recent case of Talens-Dabo v. Judge Arceo,40 the Court lifted the penalty of disqualification from re-employment in government imposed on Judge Hermin E. Arceo (imposed on him in the Court's Decision of July 25, 1996 finding him guilty of gross misconduct and immorality). The Court so acted after Atty. Arceo demonstrated that he has "sufficiently shown his remorse and reformation after his dismissal from the service meriting the Court's liberality." Similarly, in Castillo v. Calanog,41 the Court granted former Judge Manuel M. Calanog's petition for clemency and compassion and lifted the penalty of disqualification from public office for immorality after the Court found him to be "sincerely repentant" three years after the Court's July 12, 1991 Decision dismissing him from the service.

In sum, the Dissent's invocation of the doctrine of immutability of judgments with respect to the Court's December 14, 2010 Resolution is clearly misplaced. To reiterate, the Court's issuances on administrative matters pursuant to its exercise of its regulatory supervision over the IBP does not become final and immutable as in ordinary adjudicated cases; it is always subject to continuing review by the Court, guided by the dictates of the Constitution, laws and regulations, as well as by policies the Court deem necessary, practicable, wise, and appropriate in light of prevailing circumstances.

The Rules of Court are not strictly
observed in administrative matters

I cannot agree with the Dissent's position that IBP Southern Luzon's petition for intervention is barred by Section 2, Rule 19 of the Rules of Court that allows intervention at any time before final judgment. If judgment does not really become final in the sense understood in the adjudicatory sense, then the admission of an intervention should always be subject to the Court's wise exercise of discretion. There, too, is the well-settled rule that the Dissent conveniently failed to mention: technical rules of procedure (i.e. the rules on Intervention in the Rules of Court) are not strictly applied in administrative proceedings such as the present case. In Office of the Court of Administrator v. Canque,42 we pointedly stated:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Technical rules of procedure and evidence are not strictly applied to administrative proceedings. Thus, administrative due process cannot be fully equated with due process in its strict judicial sense. A formal or trial-type hearing is not required. [Emphasis supplied]

Another misplaced argument is the Dissent's invocation of our ruling in Chavez v. PCGG43 and Looyuko v. Court of Appeals44 which brings to mind an apple and oranges comparison. These cited cases, although indisputably correct in their particular setting, cannot be compared with the present matter because they are adjudicated civil cases governed strictly by the Rules of Civil Procedure on intervention.

Beyond the rule on stability of our jurisprudence and procedural technicalities, the Dissent should appreciate the relationship of the Court to the IBP and the role that the Constitution has assigned to the Court, all of which have been mentioned and discussed elsewhere in this Separate Concurring Opinion.45 Likewise, it should have considered the importance of the administrative matter before us - issues that may determine future elections of the IBP. In these lights, insistence on the use of strict procedural rules cannot but be regarded as resort to petty arguments that only waste the time and attention of this Court. To use our usual phraseology on these kinds of arguments, rules of procedure should not be applied in a very rigid, technical sense; they are only used to help secure, not override, substantial justice. Note that we have made these rulings even in the exercise of our adjudicative power where stricter rules apply. In Ginete v. Court of Appeals,46 we said:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Let it be emphasized that the rules of procedure should be viewed as mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. Their strict and rigid application, which would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, must always be eschewed. Even the Rules of Court reflect this principle. The power to suspend or even disregard rules can be so pervasive and compelling as to alter even that which this Court itself has already declared to be final, as we are now constrained to do in the instant case.

x x x

The emerging trend in the rulings of this Court is to afford every party litigant the amplest opportunity for the proper and just determination of his cause, free from the constraints of technicalities. Time and again, this Court has consistently held that rules must not be applied rigidly so as not to override substantial justice. [Emphasis supplied.]

Similarly, in de Guzman v. Sandiganbayan,47 we had occasion to state:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The Rules of Court was conceived and promulgated to set forth guidelines in the dispensation of justice but not to bind and chain the hand that dispenses it, for otherwise, courts will be mere slaves to or robots of technical rules, shorn of judicial discretion. That is precisely why courts in rendering justice have always been, as they ought to be, conscientiously guided by the norm that when on the balance, technicalities take a backseat against substantive rights, and not the other way around. Truly then, technicalities, in the appropriate language of Justice Makalintal, "should give way to the realities of the situation." [Emphasis supplied.]

Estoppel by laches cannot be applied/>to IBP-Southern Luzon and/>Governor Joyas

The Dissent's invocation of the doctrine of estoppel by laches on the part of IBP-Southern Luzon and Governor Joyas is erroneous. Laches has been defined as the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained length time to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier, thus giving rise to a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned or declined to assert it.

Significantly, laches is not concerned with mere lapse of time; the fact of delay, standing alone, is insufficient to constitute laches. In Chavez v. Perez,48 we emphasized that the hallmark of the application of laches is a question of inequity or unfairness in permitting a right or claim to be enforced or asserted, thus:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The doctrine of laches is based upon grounds of public policy which requires, for the peace of society, the discouragement of stale claims, and is principally a question of the inequity or unfairness of permitting a right or claim to be enforced or asserted. There is no absolute rule as to what constitutes laches; each case is to be determined according to its particular circumstances. The question of laches is addressed to the sound discretion of the court, and since it is an equitable doctrine, its application is controlled by equitable considerations. It cannot be worked to defeat justice or to perpetrate fraud and injustice. [emphasis supplied]

In the present case, the Dissent failed to cite any instance of unfairness or inequity in allowing the alleged belated intervention of IBP-Southern Luzon and Governor Joyas. At any rate, as mentioned above, the Court's issuances, on administrative matters pursuant to its exercise of its regulatory supervision over the IBP (such as the Court's December 14, 2010 Resolution) do not become final and immutable as in ordinary adjudicatory cases; they are always subject to continuing review by the Court. In filing the petition for intervention, IBP-Southern Luzon and Governor Joyas are merely asking for proper guidance from the Court pertaining to the issues involved with the IBP elections for EVP for the 2011-2013 term by invoking the Court's regulatory supervision over the IBP.

IBP-Southern Luzon and Governor/>Joyas have legal interest in the/>subject matter of litigation

I disagree with the Dissent's claim that IBP-Southern Luzon or Governor Joyas has no legal interest in the subject matter of litigation that would justify their intervention.

Contrary to the Dissent's view, they have (as all the other eight regions of the IBP) a direct and immediate interest in the proper implementation of the rotational rule with respect to the position of EVP for the 2011-2013 term, in the same manner that this Court and all its Members have similar interests on the matter. In fact, this Court's ruling on the proper implementation of the rotational rule for the EVP for the 2011-2013 term will directly and immediately impact on IBP-Southern Luzon which will either gain or lose the opportunity for direct and meaningful participation in IBP affairs as a result of the direct legal operation and effect of the Court's determination in the present case. Section 47 of the IBP By-laws, as amended, guarantees this legal interest when it provides that "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.

At any rate, the Court, has recognized exceptions to Section Rule 19, in the interest of substantial justice, as reflected in the following ruling:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

The rule on intervention, like all other rules of procedure, is intended to make the powers of the Court fully and completely available for justice. It is aimed to facilitate a comprehensive adjudication of rival claims overriding technicalities on the timeliness of the filing thereof.49chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Prior to the 2010 amendment of/>Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-/>laws, the rotation rule should be/>considered from the prism of the/>Presidency and not EVP

I disagree with the dissent's unqualified position that the rotation rule pertains to the position of EVP and not the position of IBP President. As the above discussions fully explained, the previous version of Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-laws expressly required that the Presidency shall rotate among the nine (9) regions. The Dissent's view that a completed turn strictly requires election as EVP for the current term (two years of service as EVP) and then service as President for the next term (plus another two years as IBP President), is not supported by the plain import of the wordings of previous version of Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws that merely required that all the nine (9) regions, through their respective Governors, shall at some time during the rotation take their turn as IBP President. Under this system, it is the Presidency that must be counted, considered and assured and the election or effective rotation of the EVP is only a part of ensuring the rotation of the Presidency because the two positions are inextricably linked by the element of succession. In this sense, any rotation in the EVP post under the previous Section 47 was a subsidiary consideration that must bow to the primacy of the rotation of the Presidency.

Again, contrary to the Dissent's view, the Court's ruling Velez v. Atty. De Vera that the first rotation was completed with the election of Atty. De Vera as EVP is not a totally incorrect ruling; it is merely an incomplete ruling, but one that can nevertheless be put to good use with the correct appreciation and understanding of what Section 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws originally provided.

As previously discussed, the first region to avail of its turn in Bar Matter No. 491 was IBP-Western Visayas with the election of Atty. Tan as President and Atty. Tanopo of Central Luzon as EVP. This was the very first election under Bar Matter No. 941 and the import of this amendment would be trivialized if the first election conducted under it would not fall under its rule. To be sure, Bar Matter No. 941 never stated, expressly or impliedly, that this first election was to be an interim measure; it simply decreed that there shall be presidential rotation and called for an election. From this perspective, Velez could not be wrong in counting the election of Atty. Tan as President as the first turn in the presidential rotational cycle, even if President Tan did not go through any prior election as EVP. Under this premise, Velez could not have been a totally incorrect ruling. As I mentioned above, it is a ruling that can be put to good use with a proper and correct understanding of what Bar Matter No. 941 provided for.

Thus, in this limited sense, I agree with the ponencia that the Court effectively opened a new round of rotation for the EVP position, to start after the 2003-2005 term. The new rotation cycle for EVPs, preparatory to the presidential rotation that Bar Matter No. 941 expressly required, started with the 2005-2007 election of Atty. Bautista of Central Luzon as EVP. From the Velez view, the presidential rotation that Bar Matter No. 491 required came to pass as the first turn in 2nd rotational cycle when Atty. Bautista succeeded to the IBP Presidency in 2007-2009 term.

In sum, following Velez to its logical consequence and observing the principle of exclusion, all regions other than Central Luzon, Southern Luzon and Eastern Mindanao can compete for the EVP post for the 2011-2013 term. This conclusion, of course, contradicts the IBP-Western Visayas' wish to have the 2011-2013 EVP position handed to it unopposed in a golden platter.

The Court's December 14, 2010/>Resolution did not overturn the Velez/>ruling

I likewise take exception to the Dissent's position that the Court's December 14, 2010 Resolution effectively overturned the Velez ruling. To be sure, there never was any statement in the December 14, 2010 ruling that the Velez ruling is incorrect.

Even if there had been, this Court at this point is not powerless to correct whatever misimpressions there might have been because of the confusing rulings heretofore issued.

It is to be noted that, the December 14, 2010 ruling itself has its imperfections that deepened the deviations from the rotation system instead of setting the system aright. For one, it completely failed to take into account the Court's ruling in Velez. Also, the Court erroneously adopted the Special Committee's incomplete computation of the presidential rotational cycle. Instead of counting the cycle from the Presidency of Atty. Eugene Tan of Western Visayas in the 1989-1991 term as Bar Matter No. 491 dictated, the Court counted the rotation from the Central Luzon Presidency in the 1991-1993 term. This mistaken premise led the Court to conclude that only the Governors of the Western Visayas and Eastern Mindanao regions had not yet had their turn as EVP so that the choice of EVP for the 2009-2011 term should be solely confined to them.

The continued wranglings about the Court's past rulings as exemplified by the Dissent's own objections constitute the very reason why a clean slate, justified by a reasonably sensible reading of the By-laws, should now be made, to free up the IBP from any and all seeds of confusion that may linger. In other words, rather than continue to find fault with past rulings and with one another, let this Court now accept that a new rule on rotation is upon us, and start to apply and implement this new rule without any reservations or qualifications arising from past rulings this Court made. This is the wisest, most reasonable and most practical ruling we can make under the present circumstances.

The transitory and continuing nature/>of the Court's regulatory supervision/>over the IBP allows for a correction/>of the erroneous December 14, 2010/>Resolution and does not amount to a/>flip-flop

As previously discussed, the Court's issuances pertaining to its regulatory supervision over the IBP does not become final and immutable as ordinary cases, as it is always subject to continuing review by the Court. This notion debunks entirely the Dissent's charge of flip-flopping should the Court reconsider its December 14, 2010 Resolution.

In light of the role, participation, powers and duties that the Court and its Members hold with respect to the IBP, the worst move that this Court can make at this point is to be irretrievably wedded to decisions and rulings the Court has rendered in the past. Rather, as the Supreme Tribunal in the land with specific powers duties and powers imposed no less than the Constitution, it should now act wisely, with foresight and with due regard to the lessons of the past; it should seek to restore rational consistency in the future rulings affecting the IBP. In fact, the Court should itself strive not to be a part of the problem; it cannot but be in the IBP's stage as a participant in a constitutionally-designed play, but it must act more as a actor/director keenly keeping a close and critical eye on the events and ready to lead, guide and act with measured firmness if and when the play gets out of hand.

The essence of judicial and jurisprudential life is growth and greater understanding of our efforts and their results, particularly for our constituencies and the laws we interpret. For as long as we do not flip-flop on the same case, thus confusing not only the public but the same parties who have previously applied our rulings and decisions, we should not hesitate to backtrack and correct our actions in the past, particularly, if our new directions better serve the objectives and purposes of the laws we interpret and the greater public good. After all, one of the Court's own venerated doctrine - stare decisis et non quieta movere - itself recognizes that rulings are "not cast in stone for upon a showing that circumstances attendant in a particular case override the great benefits derived by our judicial system from the doctrine of stare decisis, the Court is justified in setting it aside."50chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

D. Creation of a Permanent IBP Committee in the Supreme Court.

Consistent with the above principles and as a pro-active response that the Court can offer the IBP and the public who depend on lawyers for their legal needs, the Court must now recognize the continuing need for study and consultations with the IBP on what is best for the organization. The Court cannot undertake its constitutional duties alone. The IBP itself-of which the Members of this Court are themselves a member - should always actively be consulted as the party directly and immediately affected by the rulings and actions of the Court.

Towards this end, I propose the creation of a new and continuing IBP Committee in the Court to generally handle the JBP's affairs; to study and suggest recommendations; to take the lead and initiative in efforts concerning the IBP; and to troubleshoot whatever problems may occur, instead of creating a special committee whenever IBP-related problems arise.


Endnotes:


1 See: IBP website, available online at http://www.ibp.ph/history.html (last visited on February 27, 2012).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

2 See: Dissenting Opinion of Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. in In the Matter of the Brewing Controversies in the Election in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, A.M. No. 09-5-2-SC and A.C. No. 8292, December 14, 2010, 638 SCRA 1, 55.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

3 IBP By-Laws, Article VI, Section 37.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

4 IBP By-Laws, Article VI, Section 41.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

5 IBP By-Laws, Article VII, Sections 47-48.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

6 IBP By Laws, Article VII, Section 49.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

7 IBP By-Laws, Article VII, Section 47. Supra note 2.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

8 IBP By-Laws, Article VII, Section 50(a).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

9 IBP By-Laws, Article VII, Section 50(b). See Dissenting Opinion of Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. in In the Matter of the Brewing Controversies in the Election in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, supra note 2.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

10 Note that, as shown in the discussions, the IBP has had a series of problems, coming one after another, subsumed under the title "Brewing Controversies" docketed as A.M. No. 09-5-2-SC IN THE MATTER OF THE BREWING CONTROVERSIES IN THE ELECTIONS OF THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES and A.C. No. 8292 ATTYS. MARCIAL M. MAGSINO, MANUEL M. MARAMBA AND NASSER MAROHOMSALIC, Complainants, versus ATTYS. ROGELIO A. VINLUAN, ABELARDO C. ESTRADA, BONIFACIO T. BARANDON, JR., EVERGISTO S. ESCALON AND REYMUND JORGE A. MERCADO, Respondents.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

11 A.M. No. 09-5-2-SC and A.C. No. 8292, December 4, 2012.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

12 Ibid.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

13 Supra note 2.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

14 Id. at 14.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

15 Id. at 15.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

16 See In the Matter of the Inquiry into the 1989 Elections of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Bar Matter No. 491, October 6, 1989, 178 SCRA 398.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

17 Garcia v. De Vera, A.C. No. 6052, December 11, 2003, 418 SCRA 27, 43-44.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

18 Ibid.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

19 Id. at 44-45.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

20 In Re: Compliance of IBP Chapters with Adm. Order No. 16-2007, Letter-Compliance of Atty. Ramon Edison C. Batacan, A.M. No. 07-3-13-SC, February 27, 2008, 547 SCRA 1, 7-8; emphases, underscore and italics ours.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

21 In the Matter of the Inquiry into the 1989 Elections of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, supra note 17, at 198.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

22 Justice Felix A. Antonio was designated as Interim Caretaker and he served as such from October 19, 1989 to January 27, 1990.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

23 Atty. Eugene Tan resigned as IBP President as a result of charges of favoritism or discrimination in the hiring of officers and employees in the IBP and extravagant and irregular expenditure of IBP funds filed by several staff members of the IBP via a letter-complaint with the Chief Justice. In Bar Matter No. 565, dated October 15, 1991, the Court found the actuations of Atty. Tan as constituting grave abuse of authority and serious misconduct in office which would have warranted his removal from office, but in view of the fact that he had earlier tendered his resignation as IBP President and his term of office already expired on June 30, 1991, the Court imposed upon him the penalty of severe censure. See Villaruel v. Grapilon, Adm. Case No. 4826, January 27, 1999, 302 SCRA 138, 158-159.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

24 Term with controversy.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

25 Supra note 16.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

26 Id. at 811.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

27 Id. at 775-776.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

28 Id. at 779.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

29 Supra note 16.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

30 Supra note 2, at 24-25.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

31 Ibid.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

32 Ibid.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

33 Id. at 38-39.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

34 Supra note 17.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

35 Supra note 2.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

36 Ibid.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

37 See: Separate Opinion of Associate Justice Arturo D. Brion in De Castro v. Judicial And Bar Council, G.R. Nos. 191002, 191032, 191057 and A.M. No. 10-2-5-SC, March 17, 2010, 615 SCRA 666.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

38 Ibid.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

39 Id.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

40 A.M. No. RTJ-96-1336, November 20, 2012.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

41 A.M. RTJ-90-447, December 16, 1994, 239 SCRA 268.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

42 A.M. No. P-04-1830, June 4, 2009, 588 SCRA 226, 236.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

43 G.R. NO. 13071, May 19, 1999, 307 SCRA 394.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

44 G.R. Nos. 102696,102716,108257 & 120954, July 12, 2001, 361 SCRA 150.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

45 See pp. 24-26 of this Separate Concurring Opinion.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

46 G.R. NO. 127596, September 24, 1998, 292 SCRA 38.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

47 326 Phil. 182 (1996).ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

48 G.R. NO. 109808, March 1, 1995, 242 SCRA 73, 80.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

49 Social Justice Society v. Atienza, G.R. NO. 156052, February 13, 2008, 545 SCRA 92.ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

50 Philippine Guardians Brotherhood, Inc. (PGBI) v. Commission on Elections, G.R. NO. 190529, April 29, 2010, 619 SCRA 585, 595.



CONCURRING OPINION

LEONEN, J.:

I concur with the ponencia of Justice Jose Catral Mendoza and the concurring opinion of Justice Arturo Brion. In addition, I wish to put on record the following observations.

The statement of events from the main, concurring and dissenting opinions in this case accurately chronicle the crises of leadership of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines at various periods in its history. These leadership crises may have alienated many ordinary practitioners from either taking full advantage of the benefits of an integrated bar or wanting to participate in the democratic processes for choosing its leaders. We should start to take judicial notice of the existence of many other organizations of lawyers that now exist that do not experience these earthshaking struggles for power. For instance, there is the WILOCI, Philippine Bar Association, Alternative Law Group Network, Free Legal Assistance Group and many others.

Perhaps, there may be other ways to integrate the bar that will more effectively and efficiently meet its purposes, further democratize its leadership and will not consume so much time and energy on the part of the Court. For instance, lawyers may choose to join an existing organization which in turn will be part of a council or coalition that comprises the new integrated bar. I am sure that there may be other more creative suggestions coming from the present membership of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. I am of the opinion that We should now engage the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to fundamentally rethink its structure.

Thus, in addition to the functions also mentioned by Justices Jose Catral Mendoza and Arturo Brion, the Committee on IBP Affairs should also have as its continuing mandate regular reviews of the alternative modalities to integrate our bar. In the spirit of inclusiveness, the members of the profession should be encouraged, under our supervision, to give full and unadulterated feedback and proposals. The IBP should submit to the Committee a viable and methodical plan to get these inputs. Perhaps it can even tap the law schools to assist in getting these feedback and proposals from their alumni. The IBP should then submit a Committee Report on the Views of the Profession on integrating the bar to this Court in order that future reforms will be properly guided.

We must remember that the present mode of integrating the bar was initiated by this Court in its per curiam Resolution dated January 9, 1973. Consistent with the views already expressed, I agree that it is also our duty to ensure that the organizational structure to .accomplish the integration of the bar continues to be responsive.

In the meantime, I vote to:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

(1) DECLARE that the election for the position of Executive Vice President of the IBP for the 2011 to 2013 term open to all regions;cralawlibrary

(2) CREATE a Committee for IBP Affairs with the functions mentioned in the opinions 'of Justice Mendoza and Justice Brion and this reflection; and

(3) AMEND sections 47 and 49, article VII of the IBP By-Laws as recommended in the main ponencia of Justice Jose Catral Mendoza.

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