SC suspends ex-BI chief from practice of law

By Perfecto T. Raymundo

MANILA, Sept. 28 (PNA) — The Supreme Court (SC) has declared former Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Homobono A. Adaza as a delinquent member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for his failure to comply with the requirements of the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE).

In a ruling, the SC’s Second Division, through Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio, said that Adaza’s failure to comply with the MCLE requirements jeopardized the causes of his clients because the pleadings he filed could be stricken off from the records and considered invalid.

The SC also suspended him “from the practice of law for six months, or until he has fully complied with the MCLE requirements for the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Compliance Periods, whichever is later, and he has fully paid the required non-compliance and reinstatement fees.”

The case arose from the March 15, 2013 letter of Atty. Samuel B. Arnado calling the attention of the SC to the practice of respondent of indicating “MCLE application for exemption under process” in his pleadings filed in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, and “MCLE Application for Exemption for Reconsideration” in a pleading filed in 2012.

Adaza alleged that he did not receive a copy of the Aug. 5, 2013 letter of the MCLE Board and stressed that he was wondering why his application for exemption could not be granted.

He also alleged that he did not receive a formal denial of his application for exemption by the MCLE Governing Board, and that the notice sent was based on the letter of complainant of Arnado, until the case reached the SC.

In its Aug. 26, 2015 ruling, the SC said that Adaza’s failure “to comply with the MCLE requirements and disregard of the directives of the MCLE Office warrant his declaration as a delinquent member of the IBP.”

“While the MCLE Implementing Regulations state that the MCLE Committee should recommend to the IBP Board of Governors the listing of a lawyer as a delinquent member, there is nothing that prevents the Court from using its administrative power and supervision to discipline erring lawyers and from directing the IBP Board of Governors to declare such lawyers as delinquent members of the IBP.”

The SC reminded Adaza that “the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Office to promptly act on matters that require its immediate attention, such as but not limited to applications for exemptions, and to communicate its action to the interested parties within a reasonable period[.]”

The SC denied Adaza’s prayer to be exempted from MCLE compliance as the matter had already been denied with finality by the MCLE Governing Board on Nov. 28, 2013.

“Let a copy of this Decision be attached to [Adaza’s] personal record in the Office of the Bar Confidant and copies be furnished to all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to all courts in the land. Let copies be also furnished the MCLE Office and the IBP Governing Board for their appropriate actions,” the SC said. (PNA)