May Non-Lawyers Engage in Practice Reserved for Lawyers?
VOL. XVII NO. 25 April 5 – 11, 2014
Obviously not, but in the LTFRB-CAR at Pacdal this practice is rampant and pervasive. So, franchise or CPC applications which under the LTFRB Rules can only be prepared and filed by lawyers are also being done by non-lawyers, with tolerance and participation by LTFRB-CAR personnel.
Supposedly, CPC applications prepared and filed by fixers and LTFRB personnel, not by counsels who must sign the applications, should not be accepted for filing but ironically they are, courtesy of the LTFRB Office-in-Charge who happened to be one Ms. Rosario Oyaman.
For, under Sec. 12, Rule IV of the Revised Rules of Practice and Procedures before the LTFRB, it says: “Sec. 12. Pleadings and Exceptions through counsel. — All pleadings except (a) complaints; (b) petition for dropping with expired CPC; and (c) petitions for cancellation of CPC filed by the operator; shall be through counsel of choice.”
Properly construed, this means that all applications for new CPC, all petitions for extension of validity or for sale and transfer of CPC and similar pleadings, can only be filed by lawyers or counsel signing the initial pleading or submitting Entry of Appearance thereof.
Surprisingly, however, these CPC applications and petitions after a thorough scrutiny of the documentary requirements are being accepted at Window No. 1 by one Edilberto Bungaoen or his sub-altern when he is not available. Thereafter, these applications / petitions are issued Notices of Hearing for publication by order of the Regional Director before they are formally heard on the scheduled time and date by the assigned Hearing Officer borrowed from LTFRB Region 1 who happen to be one Atty. Anabel Nullar. After hearing, the applications / petitions are again meticulously reviewed by the OIC before they are brought to the Regional Office for the approval and signature of the Honorable Regional Director.
If the above described processes from acceptance to approval of the CPC applications / petitions prepared and filed by non-lawyers in violation of the Rules of the Board is not tolerance, I don’t know what tolerance means!
Further proof of this patent tolerance is manifests in a sign or signage emblazoned at the office entrance of one concessionaire located just adjacent to the LTFRB-CAR building which says: “LAW OFFICE NOTARY PUBLIC.” Mind you, the concessionaire who happen to be one CONNIE TONGAWAN is not a lawyer who could be authorized by law or by business permit to adopt the said signage for her insurance office. The sign has been there ever since and it appears she is not bothered about it because LTFRB-CAR has tolerated it, not even tried to call her attention to it (although I did) and advised her of its impropriety Why? Why indeed!
Incidentally, these practices by non-lawyers which could also be called illegal practice of law and the tolerance extended by LTFRB personnel is tantamount or constitutive of violations of the Anti-Fixing provisions of Republic Act No.9485 punishable in its maximum by six (6) years imprisonment and a fine of P200,000.00.
If these practices by non-lawyers of filing CPC applications and tolerance extended by LTFRB personnel in contravention of LTFRB Rules will continue unabated, I will surely be constrained to file an action against those concerned, in defense of the legal profession which we lawyers in the LTFRB have professionally chosen to follow.