Integrity and Competence

Article excerpt

The IBP Board of Governors and Officers, led by its Officer-in-Charge Justice Santiago M. Kapunan, Executive Vice President and incoming President Roan Libarios, this year's Convention Director Atty. Rosario T. Setias Reyes, fellow lawyers, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, a warm and pleasant good morning to you all.Thank you for inviting me to the 13th National Convention of Lawyers. It is my great honor to address the collective members of the Philippine legal profession at this time when burning issues, now faced not just by the bar and bench but also by the nation as a whole, call for nothing but the most united and concerted action on our part as allies of truth and justice and as supreme defenders of the rule of law. As you all know, IBP was conceptualized by the Supreme Court even before Martial Law, with the full moral and financial support of both the Legislative and Executive Departments. On October 5, 1970, the High Court passed a resolution creating the Commission on Bar Integration, headed by then Supreme Court Associate Justice (later Chief Justice) Fred Ruiz Castro, to ascertain the advisability of integrating the Bar in the Philippines.A year later, on September 17, 1971, Congress passed RA 6397 authorizing the Supreme Court to adopt rules of court to effect the integration of the Philippine Bar within two years from the passage of the law, "in order to raise the standards of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice, and enable the bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively." Pursuant to the law, the Court, on January 9, 1973, ordained through a per curiam resolution, the integration of the Bar beginning January 16, 1973, and formulated Rule 139-A of the Rules of Court for that purpose. PD 181, dated May 3, 1973, later granted juridical personality to the IBP and provided it a donation or nominal lease from the government of a parcel of land on which to construct its building. Local chapters were thereafter formed and elections were held. On March 17, 1973, the first batch of representatives to the IBP House of Delegates from all IBP Chapters nationwide convened in Manila and elected its first set of IBP Governors.Thus, it is almost four decades ago that the Supreme Court established IBP as the official national body composed of all persons whose names appear in the Roll of Attorneys, the intention of which was "to elevate the standards of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice, and enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively." The lofty ideals which impelled the Supreme Court to push for bar integration necessarily subsumed the two primordial values of integrity and competence, the precise themes you have chosen to highlight in this conference. 2011 has ushered in a new decade of sweeping global and national challenges, transformations, and paradigm shifts in almost every facet of human life. At no other time has the practice of law become so diverse, multi-faceted, and competitive as it is today.The call of the moment is for each and every Filipino lawyer to step up to the needs of the times, securely covered by the breastplate of competence and integrity.Learning is a lifelong vocation and it is the only way to acquire superior knowledge and skills as counsel par excellence. Every lawyer owes it to himself and to his clients to continue studying and improving himself specially after passing the bar. He must keep abreast of the new laws, decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as the rules and regulations promulgated by the Government and concerned agencies. I often pity practitioners who have not kept up with legal developments in pleading and practice. Their petitions do not even reach first base and get dismissed or denied for violating Supreme Court circulars. …