Tuesday, October 9, 2007

On Atty. Leonard de Vera

In 2005 I supported the stand of Atty. Leonard de Vera, who I felt had been unjustly oppressed and victimized by the national board of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for taking an oppositionist stand with respect to the new law granting special allowances to judges, a law that led to drastic hikes in docket and filing fees being paid by litigants and the general public transacting business with the courts.

Below is the full text of my letter to then Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr.

The Supreme Court suspended Atty. De Vera in 2006 for two years based on an unrelated California administrative case against him.

He has suffered in silence to this very day. He continues his anti-corruption and anti-crime advocacies as a citizen.

In a sense, the said law was also wise because it induced good lawyers to join the judiciary. A judge now reportedly earns a gross monthly income of more than 80,000 Pesos a month.


LAS PINAS CITY BAR ASSOCIATION (LPBA), INC.

Unit 15, Star Arcade, C.V. Starr Avenue

Philamlife Village, Las Pinas City 1743, Philippines

Tels (632) 8725443, 8742539, 8725446

Fax (632) 8742539

Email: lcmlaw@edsamail.com.ph

Website: http://groups.msn.com/laspinascitybarassociation

May 27, 2005

Personal Delivery

Urgent

HON. HILARIO G. DAVIDE JR..

Chief Justice

Supreme Court

Manila

RE : EXPULSION OF ATTY. LEONARDO DE VERA

BY THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE

INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES

MABUHAY:

I am writing in my capacity as a member of the Philippine Bar, as a Professor of Law of the Far Eastern University, as the Chairman of the Las Pinas City Bar Association (LPBA), Inc., and as the Vice President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) – Pasay Paranaque Las Pinas Muntinlupa (PPLM) Chapter, in connection with the recent expulsion of Atty. LEONARDO DE VERA, Executive Vice President and In-Coming 2005-2007 National President of the IBP, by the IBP Board of Governors.

It appears that the facts of the abovementioned controversy are as follows:

1. At 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon of 12 May 2005, Atty. Romulo A. Rivera, incumbent Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Governor for Northern Luzon, filed before the IBP Board of Governors an unverified Complaint against incumbent National Executive Vice-President and Governor for Eastern Mindanao Leonard S. De Vera;

2. The said Complaint asked for the removal of Vice-President De Vera as IBP Governor by falsely alleging that Vice-President De Vera supposedly rallied and lead the delegates during the Plenary Session of the recently-concluded IBP National Convention at Baguio City to oppose the Board Resolution dated 13 January 2005 withdrawing the pending Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition questioning constitutionality of the increased legal fees under Republic Act No. 9227;

3. Less than 24 hours after the filing of said Complaint, at 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon of 13 May 2005, during the Regular Meeting of the IBP Board of Governors at Cebu City, the Board discussed the Complaint against Vice-President De Vera;

4. The Board of Governors, claiming that no hearing was necessary, denied Vice-President De Vera’s motion for a hearing so he can confront and cross-examine witnesses against him and present evidence and testimony in his defense;

5. The Complainant, Governor Rivera — who was acting in a three-fold capacity as accuser, prosecutor, and judge — initially inhibited himself from voting when Vice-President De Vera challenged him that he should not be accuser, prosecutor, and judge all at the same time, which resulted in a 5-3 vote by the Board in favor of expulsion;

6. As a result of said vote, the motion to expel Vice-President De Vera was lost y reason that Section 44, Article VI of the By-Laws of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines provides that a 2/3 votes, i.e., six votes, of the Board of Governors is necessary to remove any member of the Board for cause;

7. Realizing that his vote was needed to carry his own motion, the Complainant, Governor Rivera, insisted that he wanted another voting because this time he will vote for Vice-President De Vera’s expulsion and support his own motion even if he had already inhibited himself;

8. Over the objections of Vice-President De Vera and Governors Dante G. Ilaya and Carlos L. Valdez, Jr., the presiding officer, President Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz, ILLEGALLY and UNJUSTLY allowed another round of voting to allow the Complainant, Governor Rivera, to make sure that his vote against Vice-President De Vera would be recorded and would carry his own motion for expulsion;

9. After the second voting, the Board, acting no different from a kangaroo court, expelled Vice-President De Vera from the Board by a vote of 6-3;

10. Vice-President De Vera, Governor Ilaya, and Governor Valdez voted not to expel Vice-President Vera;

11. Governors Rivera, Pura Angelica Y. Santiago, Rosario T. Setias-Reyes, Jose Vicente B. Salazar, Manuel M. Monzon, Immanuel L. Sodusta worked together to expel Vice-President De Vera, while President Cadiz presided over such meeting;

12. The IBP Board Resolution expelling Vice-President De Vera is NOT automatic and requires the approval of no less than the Supreme Court of the Philippines;

13. Tape recordings of the Baguio plenary session appears to belie the charges made by the Complainant, Governor Rivera, that Vice-President De Vera committed acts inimical to the interests of the Board of Governors by reason that not only Vice-President de Vera but also Governor Ilaya, and former governors and many incumbent chapter presidents and officers all over the country disagreed with the Board Resolution withdrawing the pending Petition questioning the increased legal fees;

14. A demand by Vice-President De Vera during the Board meeting to replay the tape recordings of the Baguio plenary session was DENIED even if this was vital evidence on the issue;

15. It appears that not one member of the Board of Governors who voted to withdraw the Court Petition questioning R.A. No. 9227 on the hiked legal fees spoke at the Baguio plenary session to explain the undue withdrawal of the Petition, refusing to answer the clamor of the lawyer-delegates to the National Convention to explain the unilateral withdrawal of the Petition;

I hope and pray that the Board Resolution expelling Vice-President De Vera would be reversed by the Supreme Court by reason that No Due Process in whatever form or manner accompanied the proceedings leading to Vice-President De Vera’s expulsion;

WHEREFORE, with all due respect to the IBP Board of Governors, for the record, I hereby deplore the expulsion of Atty. Leonardo de Vera from his position as the IBP Executive Vice President and as the in-coming 2005-2007 IBP National President, and I humbly appeal to the Supreme Court, thru your good Office, to invalidate the same, in the interest of justice and to maintain the credibility and effectiveness of the IBP as a pillar of the Philippine Justice System.

FURTHER, it the Supreme Court would treat the controversy as a formal administrative matter, please treat this letter as a manifestation of my desire to be classified as a co-complainant against the abovecited IBP expulsion resolution, considering my legal standing and interest therein as a private lawyer and as a local Bar leader.

FINALLY, considering that Atty. Leonardo de Vera is scheduled to assume office as the 2005-2007 IBP National President on July 1, 2005, or five (5) weeks from now, it is humbly prayed that the Supreme Court act on the matter with reasonable speed to prevent any unnecessary confusion and disorder within the IBP as an organization which may lead to the paralysis of its operations and programs.

IN CLOSING, I respectfully manifest that I shall refer the matter to the respective boards of directors of the LPBA and the IBP PPLM Chapter during the June 2005 board meetings thereof, for purposes of sponsoring a formal board resolution in support of his letter.

Thank you and God bless.

Sincerely,

Atty. MANUEL J. LASERNA JR.

Chairman, Las Pinas City Bar Assn

Vice President, IBP Pasay Paranaque

Las Pinas Muntinlupa Chapter

Professor of Law, FEU

Cc : Board of Directors

Las Pinas City Bar Assn Inc. (Fax)

Board of Directors

IBP PPLM Chapter (Fax)

The Dean

FEU Institute of Law (Fax)

The Executive Judge

Regional Trial Court

Las Pinas City (Fax)

The National Secretariat

IBP National Office (Fax)

Atty. Leonardo de Vera (Fax)

File

RESOLUTION

Condemning the Illegal and Unjust Expulsion

of IBP National Executive Vice-President Leonard S. De Vera

and Appealing to the Supreme Court to Invalidate

the Ignominious Denial of Due Process

WHEREAS, at 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon of 12 May 2005, Atty. Romulo A. Rivera, incumbent Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Governor for Northern Luzon, filed before the IBP Board of Governors an unverified Complaint against incumbent National Executive Vice-President and Governor for Eastern Mindanao Leonard S. De Vera;

WHEREAS, said Complaint asked for the removal of Vice-President De Vera as IBP Governor by falsely alleging that Vice-President De Vera supposedly rallied and lead the delegates during the Plenary Session of the recently-concluded IBP National Convention at Baguio City to oppose the Board Resolution dated 13 January 2005 withdrawing the pending Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition questioning constitutionality of the increased legal fees under Republic Act No. 9227;

WHEREAS, less than 24 hours after the filing of said Complaint, at 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon of 13 May 2005, during the Regular Meeting of the IBP Board of Governors at Cebu City, the Board discussed the Complaint against Vice-President De Vera;

WHEREAS, the Board of Governors, claiming that no hearing was necessary, denied Vice-President De Vera’s motion for a hearing so he can confront and cross-examine witnesses against him and present evidence and testimony in his defense;

WHEREAS, the Complainant, Governor Rivera — who was acting in a three-fold capacity as accuser, prosecutor, and judge — initially inhibited himself from voting when Vice-President De Vera challenged him that he should not be accuser, prosecutor, and judge all at the same time, which resulted in a 5-3 vote by the Board in favor of expulsion;

WHEREAS, as a result of said vote, the motion to expel Vice-President De Vera was lost by reason that Section 44, Article VI of the By-Laws of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines provides that a 2/3 votes, i.e., six votes, of the Board of Governors is necessary to remove any member of the Board for cause;

WHEREAS, realizing that his vote was needed to carry his own motion, the Complainant, Governor Rivera, insisted that he wanted another voting because this time he will vote for Vice-President De Vera’s expulsion and support his own motion even if he had already inhibited himself;

WHEREAS, over the objections of Vice-President De Vera and Governors Dante G. Ilaya and Carlos L. Valdez, Jr., the presiding officer, President Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz, ILLEGALLY and UNJUSTLY allowed another round of voting to allow the Complainant, Governor Rivera, to make sure that his vote against Vice-President De Vera would be recorded and would carry his own motion for expulsion;

WHEREAS, after the second voting, the Board, acting no different from a kangaroo court, expelled Vice-President De Vera from the Board by a vote of 6-3;

WHEREAS, Vice-President De Vera, Governor Ilaya, and Governor Valdez voted not to expel Vice-President Vera;

WHEREAS, Governors Rivera, Pura Angelica Y. Santiago, Rosario T. Setias-Reyes, Jose Vicente B. Salazar, Manuel M. Monzon, Immanuel L. Sodusta conspired to expel Vice-President De Vera, while President Cadiz presided;

WHEREAS, the IBP Board Resolution expelling Vice-President De Vera is NOT automatic and requires the approval of no less than the Supreme Court of the Philippines;

WHEREAS, tape recordings of the Baguio plenary session will belie the charges made by the Complainant, Governor Rivera, that Vice-President De Vera committed acts inimical to the interests of the Board of Governors by reason that not only Vice-President de Vera but also Governor Ilaya, and former governors and many incumbent chapter presidents and officers all over the country passionately spoke in disagreement with the Board Resolution withdrawing the pending Petition questioning the increased legal fees;

WHEREAS, a demand by Vice-President De Vera during the Board meeting to replay the tape recordings of the Baguio plenary session was DENIED even if this was vital evidence on the issue;

WHEREAS, not one member of the Board of Governors who voted to withdraw the Court Petition questioning R.A. No. 9227 on the hiked legal fees spoke at the Baguio plenary session to explain the undue withdrawal of the Petition, refusing to answer the clamor of hundreds of lawyer-delegates of the National Convention to explain the unilateral withdrawal of the Petition;

WHEREAS, we are confident that the Board Resolution expelling Vice-President De Vera shall be reversed and that this BLATANT INJUSTICE will not be affirmed by the Supreme Court by reason that No Due Process in whatever form or manner accompanied the proceedings leading to Vice-President De Vera’s expulsion;

NOW, THEREFORE, WE Condemn and Deplore in no uncertain terms the Illegal and Unjust Expulsion of National Executive Vice-President Leonard S. De Vera and appeal to the Supreme Court to Invalidate the Ignominious Denial of Due Process, which is an immense blot to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines as an institution and to the thousands of Lawyers it represents.

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