National president from indigenous tribe seeks for group to be more relevant to the administration of justice, free legal aid to marginalized sectors
Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo sworn in the 26th National President, Atty. Burt Estrada, and the 25th Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) at the En Banc Session Hall of the Supreme Court on July 6.
He exhorted all members to refocus the Bar's advocacy, "and, through social media and other platforms, help restore the faith of our people in the judicial system by raising their awareness and understanding of our legal processes."
The ceremony was broadcast online via the IBP Facebook Page.
The governing board composed of nine governors, plus the president as chairman, will serve from July 1, 2021 until June 30, 2023. They are Executive Vice President Tony Pido, Eastern Visayas; Gov. Mike Atanante, Greater Manila; Gov. Lucky Damasen, Northern Luzon; Gov. Paul Maglalang, Central Luzon; Gov. Jerwin Lopez, Southern Luzon; Gov. Jo Atibagos, Bicolandia; Gov. Vic De Asis, Western Visayas; Gov. Dan Campoamor, Eastern Mindanao; and Gov. Alena Gale Palileo-Yabes, Western Mindanao.
The Chief Justice reminded IBP members of their "duty, as vanguards of our legal system, to support the Court in its programs so we can achieve a full and popular adherence to the rule of law in our country," especially amid the changing times where technological advances have been adopted by the judiciary.
He likewise admonished all lawyers in the country to conduct themselves with honesty and integrity, the same attributes demanded from members of the judiciary.
"Requiring these attributes from our magistrates is only half the solution. Lawyers too must conduct themselves with honesty and integrity in all their dealings. Truly, we expect no less from you," he stressed.
Chief Justice Gesmundo said that the "most significant of all innovations the Court has introduced in the new Rules of Civil Procedure is that lawyer's signature certifies upon the courts that the case is filed not for any improper purpose."
"By signing the pleading, a lawyer attests that the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted under existing laws or by an argument for modifying or reversing existing jurisprudence," he explained.
He issued a warning against improper conduct of a lawyer.
"Should it be found otherwise, the courts will not hesitate to sanction the lawyer or even the law firm responsible for the violation," he said, adding, "we hope to put a stop to the wrongful practice by lawyers of giving our people false hopes through the filing of cases which serve no other purpose but to clog the dockets of our courts."
He pointed out that the caseload which bears upon the Court today effectively assures the breakdown of the judicial system.
IBP relevance on the road to 50
Established on January 16, 1973, the IBP Constitution and By-Laws considers as members all lawyers whose names are in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court. These are those who have qualified for and have passed the Philippine Bar Examination conducted annually, and have taken the attorney's oath, unless otherwise disbarred.
Membership in the IBP is compulsory for all lawyers in the country.
The Supreme Court requires all lawyers to indicate their Roll of Attorneys Number in all papers and pleadings filed in judicial and quasi-judicial bodies in addition to the Professional Tax Receipt (PTR) and IBP Official Receipt or Life Member Number.
New IBP President and Board of Governors Chairman Estrada - a private practitioner from Malaybalay, Bukidnon and a datu of the Bukidnon-Tagaloanon indigenous tribe - always believed that the bedrock of their society is the batasan, the jurisprudence and moral code of their society, which focuses on love and kinship to attain a harmonious community life.
As the recognized leader of the lawyers body, he seeks for the IBP to be more relevant to the lives of its members and to the community, and relevant to the administration of justice.
He also seeks to adopt programs that will help protect and promote the well-being of the members. He wants the IBP as well to refocus its advocacy to include community-based free legal aid programs for the marginalized sectors, including indigenous cultural communities, small farmers and fisher folk.
"As a mandatory organization for lawyers, I believe that we must ensure that the IBP is truly relevant to the lives of our individual member-lawyers. I believe the IBP can elevate the standard of the legal profession, not only by performing our duties in investigating and submitting our recommendations on cases of violation of our code of professional responsibility filed against fellow lawyers, but also by empowering our members through programs that promote mutual help and protection especially during times of emergency and in old age," he said in his speech.
He pointed out that the IBP "can only truly be the sentinel of rule of law and democracy if its members are able to rise to the challenge of protecting and promoting these noble ideals."
"And this is possible if we also make sure that their well-being is protected and promoted by organization," he stressed.
"From representing indigent litigants as individuals, IBP will also promote community-based free legal aid advocacy for the marginalized sectors, including but not limited to the indigenous peoples and indigenous cultural communities, small farmers and fisherfolk," he said.
Estrada succeeded Atty. Domingo Cayosa.