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CATU vs RELLOSA - Practice of Profession & related provisions -

FACTS:
WILFREDO CATU, petitioner, initiated a complaint against Elizabeth Catu and Antonio Pastor who were
occupying one of the units in a building in Malate which was owned by the former.
The said complaint was filed in the Lupong Tagapamayapa of Barangay in Manila where respondent Atty.
Vicente Rellosa was the punong barangay.
The parties, having been summoned for conciliation proceedings and failing to arrive at an amicable
settlement, were issued by the respondent a certification for the filing of the appropriate action in court.
Petitioner, thus, filed a complaint for ejectment against Elizabeth and Pastor in the Metropolitan Trial
Court of Manila where respondent entered his appearance as counsel for the defendants.
Because of this, petitioner filed the instant administrative complaint against the respondent on the ground
that he committed an act of impropriety as a lawyer and as a public officer when he stood as counsel for
the defendants despite the fact that he presided over the conciliation proceedings between the litigants as
punong barangay.
o Respondents defense, respondent claimed that as punong barangay, he performed his task
without bias and that he acceded to Elizabeths request to handle the case for free as she was
financially distressed.
The complaint was then referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) where after evaluation, they
found sufficient ground to discipline respondent. According to IBP-CBD (Comm. On Bar Discipline)
respondent violated Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and, as an elective official, the
prohibition under Section 7(b) (2) of RA 6713.
Consequently, for the violation of the latter prohibition, respondent committed a breach of Canon 1.
Consequently, for the violation of the latter prohibition, respondent was then recommended suspension
from the practice of law for one month with a stern warning that the commission of the same or similar act
will be dealt with more severely.
ISSUE:
(1) WON the findings and imposable penalty to respondent were proper
(2) WON Respondent as a lawyer may practice his profession while serving in the government

HELD:
(1) NO. First, respondent cannot be found liable for violation of Rule 6.03 the Code of Professional
Responsibility as this applies only to a lawyer who has left government service and in connection to former
government lawyers who are prohibited from accepting employment in connection with any matter in
which [they] had intervened while in their service. In the case at bar, respondent was an incumbent punong
barangay. Second, it is not Section 90 of RA 7160 but Section 7(b) (2) of RA 6713 which governs the
practice of profession of elective local government officials. While RA 6713 generally applies to all
public officials and employees, RA 7160, being a special law, constitutes an exception to RA 6713
.Moreover, while under RA 7160,certain local elective officials (like governors,
mayors, provincial board members and councilors) are expressly subjected to a total
or partial proscription to practice their profession or engage in any occupation, no such interdiction is
made on the punong barangay and the members of the sangguniang barangay. Expressio unius est
exclusio alterius since they are excluded from any prohibition, the presumption is that they are allowed to
practice their profession. Respondent, therefore, is not forbidden to practice his profession.

(2) YES. A lawyer who is in the government service is not prohibited to practice law provide he secure prior
authority from the head of his department. Respondent as punong barangay is not prohibited to practice his
profession, However, he SHOULD HAVE PROCURED PRIOR PERMISSION or authorization from the
head of his department as required by CS law. The failure of respondent to comply with Section 12, Rule
XVIII of the Revised Civil Service Rules constitutes a violation of his oath as a lawyer: to obey the laws.
In acting as counsel for a party without first securing the required written permission, respondent not only
engaged in the unauthorized practice of law but also violated a civil service rules which is a breach of
Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:
Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

For not living up to his oath as well as for not complying with the exacting ethical standards of the legal
profession, respondent failed to comply with Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:

CANON 7. A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND THE DIGNITY OF THE
LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.


A lawyer who disobeys the law disrespects it. In so doing, he disregards legal ethics and disgraces the
dignity of the legal profession. Every lawyer should act and comport himself in a manner that promotes public
confidence in the integrity of the legal profession. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his
office as an attorney for violation of the lawyer's oath and/or for breach of the ethics of the legal profession as
embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility.