Lawyers row sizzles

Angeles, Principe want IBP poll results

nullified; Victors’ reply: ‘Ano kayo hilo!’ 


MALOLOS CITY – “Ano kayo hilo!”  This in a nutshell describes the curt reply of winners in the IBP-Bulacan chapter elections to the Complaint-Petition filed by retired judge Adoracion G. Angeles, Pete Principe and other losing candidates in  the elections last February 26.

          In a 6-page ‘Petition’ and an additional 7-page ‘Supplement’ filed last March 10 before the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Angeles, Principe, and their ticketmates retired-justice Nicolas Lapeña, lawyers Rita Cruz, Vicente Bordador, Glicerio Villano, Edward Lontok, sought the annulment of the Feb. 26 IBP-Bulacan  elections and the subsequent proclamation of all the winning candidates.  Two other partymates of  the group, Romalino Valdez and  Rolando M. Castro, who ran for treasurer and director, respectively, but lost, did not join the petition.

          Atty. Cecilio ‘Ted’ Villanueva and all the members of his TEAM-IBP won by a landslide and swept all the positions at stake with Villanueva winning the presidency over Angeles with a margin of 229 votes (298-69).

          Others elected were: vice president Arni Topico, won over Lapeña (280-81); secretary Elvira Alpajora, won over Rita Cruz (281-61); treasurer Percy dela Cruz over Valdez (286-49); auditor Julius Bañez over Bordador (285-56); PRO Emily Viceo over Joie Macam (276-62).

Elected to the five (5) IBP directors’ seat were: Jay Gumasing (264 votes), Rey Christoper Gonzales (260), Minerva Aldaba-Morada (259), Glenn Palubon (248) and Robert Cruz (226).  Cruz won over sixth placer Pete Principe (143 votes) by a margin of 83 votes. Candidates for directors Castro got 115 votes, Villano (57) and Lontok (50), in that order.

The complaint of Angeles and her group, among others, cited alleged irregularities and fraudulent acts that allegedly marred the Feb. 26 IBP elections that includes, the following:  “1) that members were not duly informed of the time and place of elections, which is in violation of Art. IV, Sec. 12  of the IBP By-laws; 2) that the list of qualified voters, was maliciously not made available to all members; 3) the dues were not paid by some members, but their names were included in the list of qualified voters and were allowed to vote;

4) that some lawyers who did not file a transfer-intent to IBP-Bulacan were included in the voters’ list and were allowed to vote; 5) that the incumbent IBP president and treasurer maliciously delayed the remittances of membership dues to the IBP national office to purposely include payments that were made after the cut-off period; 6) that the incumbent IBP officers used the political amenities of a congressman which compromised the members of the bar in the future; 7) that IBP officers and Villanueva’s group treated and entertained several judges and lawyers  of Bulacan to Camp John Hay...”

Complainant Angeles and her group also named as respondents the entire out-going IBP (2009-2011) officers led by IBP president Renato ‘Jun’ Samonte, Jr. and Villanueva, who was formerly the chapter’s vice president, including  Kate Bustamante,  chapter secretary; Bernadette Tamayo-Mendiola, treasurer; Dory Castro-Blatazar, auditor;  Panfilo Santiago, asst. auditor; Arni Topico, PRO;  and out-going directors Emily Viceo, Pinky Bernabe, Nye Orquillas, Eugene Resurreccion, and Norman Roxas.

However, in a 12-page ‘Answer’ prepared by Villanueva’s Makati-based  law firm Quasha, Ancheta, Pena and Nolasco, the elected IBP officers asked the IBP Board of Governors to thrash and dismiss the petition of Angeles et al. for lack of merit and for being merely based on wild allegations that were not supported with evidence.

Short of calling the losers as cry-babies for a humiliating loss they suffered in the elections, president-elect Villanueva and his TEAM-IBP said their landslinde victory shows very clearly the unanimous choice of the IBP members in Bulacan.  “The alleged irregularities will not, in any event, affect the winners due to the extremely large margin of our victory,” the election winners said.

Like a veteran law professor teaching his freshmen students, Villanueva’s group answered that even before the allegations of complainant Angeles et al. are considered point by point, the latter’s complaint should be dismissed outright for being procedurally defective.

Villanueva said the complaint-petition failed to comply with Bar Matter No. 1922, promulgated by the Supreme Court on June 3, 2008, which required all practicing member of the bar  “to indicate in all their pleadings filed before the courts or quasi-judicial bodies, the number and date of issue of their MCLE Certificate of Compliance or Certificate of Exemption.”

Copies of Angeles’group ‘Petition’ and  ‘Supplement to the Petiton’ secured by MetroNEWS Bulacan show that the petitioner did not include the numbers and dates of their respective MCLE or Mandatory Continuing Legal Election compliance.

Thus, Villanueva said that the failure of the complaint-petition to comply with Bar Matter No. 1922 should cause the outright dismissal of the case filed before the IBP Board of Governors, which is a quasi-judicial entity.

Villanueva’s group also tackled head-on the litany of allegations made in the petition of Angeles’ group which they claimed as mere product of conjectures and exaggeration that does not deserve scant consideration.

“The Petiton as well as the Supplement are moot because the wide margin of victory will not be affected by the alleged irregularities even assuming these are true,” the winners’ Answer stated.

 The total number of members cited in the various allegation of the Petition totals only to 48. This number according to Villanueva’s group will not change the outcome of the elections even if these votes were added to the votes of the complaining candidates.

          The landslide victory of Villanueva and his Team-IBP was attributed to their solid teamwork with the support of veteran Bulakeño lawyers that includes former IBP presidents Jose ‘Peng’ dela Rama, Jr., Elenita Quintana, Oscar Bernardo, Pablo Cruz and Manuel Punzalan.

          The complaint also cited the alleged disqualification of Villanueva to run as a candidate on the ground that he was a lawyer of PAGCOR, a government-owned and controlled corporation, a year before the IBP elections.

          Villanueva said the complaint has no basis because the candidate/s prohibited under IBP rules are those who receive compensation from the government who can use their post to influence or yield pressure on lawyer-voters.  These are specifically, judges, fiscals aor presiding officers of quasi-judicial bodies.

          Veteran lawyers and political observers in the province, however, noted that Angeles, Principe et al., were merely sour-graping because of their humiliating loss and frustration to wrestle control over the local IBP chapter now named after the famous national hero and lawyer par-excellence ‘Marcelo H. Del Pilar’.

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