PHILIPPINE JURISPRUDENCE - FULL TEXT
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B.M. No. 1755             June 17, 2008
RE. CLARIFICATION ON RULES OF PROCEDURE OF THE COMMISSION ON BAR DISCIPLINE


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

B.M. No. 1755             June 17, 2008

RE. CLARIFICATION ON RULES OF PROCEDURE OF THE COMMISSION ON BAR DISCIPLINE.

Sirs/Mesdames:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of the Court En Banc dated June 17, 2008 B.M. No. 1755 (Re. Rules of Procedure of the Commission on Bar Discipline)

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Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court governs the investigation of administrative complaints against lawyers by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Section 12 of said rule prescribes the procedure before the IBP, thus:

a) Every case heard by an investigator shall be reviewed by the IBP Board of Governors upon the record and evidence transmitted to it by the Investigator with his report. The decision of the Board upon such review shall be in writing and shall clearly and distinctly state the facts and the reasons on which it is based. It shall be promulgated within a period not exceeding thirty (30) days from the next meeting of the Board following the submittal of the Investigator's report.

b) If the Board, by the vote of a majority of its total membership, determines that the respondent should be suspended from the practice of law or disbarred, it shall issue a resolution setting forth its findings and recommendations which, together with the whole record of the case, shall forthwith be transmitted to the Supreme Court for final action.

c) If the respondent is exonerated by the Board or the disciplinary sanction imposed by it is less than suspension or disbarment (such as admonition, reprimand, or fine) it shall issue a decision exonerating respondent or imposing such sanction. The case shall be deemed terminated unless upon petition of the complainant or other interested party filed with the Supreme Court within fifteen (15) days from notice of the Board's resolution, the Supreme Court orders otherwise.

d) Notice of the resolution or decision of the Board shall be given to all parties through their counsel. A copy of the same shall be transmitted to the Supreme Court.

To implement Rule 139-B, the Court, in Bar Matter No. 1755, approved the Rules of Procedure of the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the IBP on September 25, 2007. The rules pertinent to pleadings, notices, and appearances are provided in Secs. 1 and 2 of Rule III which read:

RULE III

PLEADINGS, NOTICES AND APPEARANCES

SECTION 1. Pleadings. The only pleadings allowed are verified complaint, verified answer and verified position papers and motion for reconsideration of a resolution.

SEC. 2. Prohibited Pleadings. The following pleadings shall not be allowed, to wit:

a. Motion to dismiss the complaint or petition

b. Motion for a bill of particulars

c. Motion for a new trial

d. Petition for relief from judgment

e. Motion for reconsideration

f. Supplemental pleadings

Upon query of IBP National President Feliciano M. Bautista, the Court issued on February 12, 2008 a Resolution amending Sec. 1, Rule III of the same rules by deleting the phrase "motion for reconsideration of a resolution," to resolve the conflicting provisions of Secs. 1 and 2 of said Rule III, thus:

Sec. 1. Pleadings. The only pleadings allowed are verified complaint, verified answer and verified position papers.

Pursuant to the February 12, 2008 Resolution, a party cannot file a motion for reconsideration of any order or resolution with the Investigating Commissioner of the CBD hearing the case.

In the Resolution dated July 31, 2006 in A.C. No. 7055 entitled Ramientas v. Reyala, the Court held that:

IN CONCURRENCE WITH THE ABOVE, NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, as it is hereby resolved the accordance with our ruling in Halimao v. Villanueva, pertinent provisions of Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission on Bar Discipline, as contained in the By-Laws of the IBP, particularly 1 and 2, are hereby deemed amended. Accordingly, 1 of said rules now reads as follows:

SECTION 1. Pleadings. The only pleadings allowed are verified complaint, verified answer, verified position paper and motion for reconsideration of resolution. x x x

And in 2, a motion for reconsideration is, thus, removed from the purview of the class of prohibited pleadings.

Further, the following guidelines shall be observed by the IBP in respect of disciplinary cases against lawyers:

1. The IBP must first afford a chance to either party to file a motion for reconsideration of the IBP resolution containing its findings and recommendations within fifteen (15) days from notice of receipt by the parties thereon;

2. If a motion for reconsideration has been timely filed by an aggrieved party, the IBP must first resolve the same prior to elevating to this Court the subject resolution together with the whole record of the case;

3. If no motion for reconsideration has been filed within the period provided for, the IBP is directed to forthwith transmit to this Court, for final action, the subject resolution together with the whole record of the case;

4. A party desiring to appeal from the resolution of the IPB may file a petition for review before this Court within fifteen (15) days from notice of said resolution sought to be reviewed; and

5. For records of cases already transmitted to this Court where there exist pending motions for reconsideration filed in due time before the IBP, the latter is directed to withdraw from this Court the subject resolutions together with the whole records of the cases, within 30 days from notice, and, thereafter, to act on said motions with reasonable dispatch.1

In view of the February 12, 2008 Resolution, the fallo of Ramientas amending Secs. 1 and 2 of Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the CBD is consequently repealed. At present, a motion for reconsideration is a prohibited pleading in CBD proceedings before the Investigating Commissioner. It has to be clarified further that said CBD rules of procedure apply exclusively to proceedings before said CBD Commissioner and not proceedings before the IBP Board of Governors (BOG) which are governed by Sec. 12, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court. As such, the other dispositions in Ramientas relative to the filing of a motion for reconsideration before the IPB BOG are still valid and subsisting. In fact, Ramientas has amplified the rules laid down in Rule 139-B by supplying the procedure for the filing of motions for reconsiderations before the BOG.

Thus, in answer to the query of Deputy Clerk of Court and Bar Confidant Ma. Cristina B. Layusa dated March 17, 2008 on whether the February 12, 2008 Resolution in Bar Matter No. 1755 has effectively superseded Ramientas, the Court resolved as follows:

1. On the amendment to Secs. 1 and 2 of Rule III of the CBD Rules of Procedure, the fallo in Ramientas is repealed and superseded by the February 12, 2008 Resolution. A party can no longer file a motion for reconsideration of any order or resolution of the Investigating Commissioner, such motion being a prohibited pleading.

2. Regarding the issue of whether a motion for reconsideration of a decision or resolution of the BOG can be entertained, an aggrieved party can file said motion with the BOG within fifteen (15) days from notice of receipt thereof by said party.

In case a decision is rendered by the BOG that exonerates the respondent or imposes a sanction less than suspension or disbarment, the aggrieved party can file a motion for reconsideration within the 15-day period from notice. If the motion is denied, said party can file a petition for a review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court with this Court within fifteen (15) days from notice of the resolution resolving the motion. If no motion for reconsideration is filed, the decision shall become final and executory and a copy of said decision shall be furnished this Court.

If the imposable penalty is suspension from the practice of law or disbarment, the BOG shall issue a resolution setting forth its findings and recommendations. The aggrieved party can file a motion for reconsideration of said resolution with the BOG within fifteen (15) days from notice. The BOG shall first resolve the incident and shall thereafter elevate the assailed resolution with the entire case records to this Court for final action. If the 15-day period lapses without any motion for reconsideration having been filed, then the BOG shall likewise transmit to this Court the resolution with the entire case records for appropriate action.

Let this Resolution be published once in a newspaper of general circulation.

Very truly yours,

MA. LUISA D. VILLARAMA (sgd.)
Clerk of Court

Footnote

1 497 SCRA 130, 137-138


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