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3. Continuing requirements for membership in the bar

3. Continuing requirements for membership in the bar

a. Continuing requirements

1) Filipino Citizenship

2) Membership with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)

3) In good standing

4) IBP dues / annual payment

5) MCLE Compliance

6) Professional Tax payment

7) Good moral character (Arciga v. Maniwang, A.C. No. 1608, 14 August 1981)

a. Good moral character

1) Continuing requirement

If good moral character is a sine qua non for admission to the bar, then the continued possession of good moral character is also a requisite for retaining membership in the legal profession.  (Ibid.)

b. Citizenship; reacquisition of the privilege to practice law in the Philippines

1) Citizenship, a continuing requirement

The Court reiterates that Filipino citizenship is a requirement for admission to the bar and is, in fact, a continuing requirement for the practice of law. The loss thereof means termination of the petitioner’s membership in the bar; ipso jure the privilege to engage in the practice of law. (In Re: Muneses, B.M. No. 2112, 24 July 2012)

2) Constitutional requirement on practice of professions

The 1987 Constitution requires that the practice of all professions in the Philippines shall be limited to Filipino citizens, save in cases prescribed by law. (Paragraph 2, Section 14, Article XII, 1987 Constitution)

3) Reacquisition of citizenship, no automatic reacquisition of privilege to practice law

Since Filipino citizenship is a requirement for admission to the bar, loss thereof terminates membership in the Philippine bar and, consequently, the privilege to engage in the practice of law. In other words, the loss of Filipino citizenship ipso jure terminates the privilege to practice law in the Philippines. The practice of law is a privilege denied to foreigners. (Petition for Leave to Resume Practice of Law, Dacanay, B.M. No. 1678, 17 December 2007)

The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by reason of naturalization as a citizen of another country but subsequently reacquired pursuant to RA 9225. This is because “all Philippine citizens who become citizens of another country shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under the conditions of [RA 9225].” Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen of another country is deemed never to have lost his Philippine citizenship if he reacquires it in accordance with RA 9225. Although he is also deemed never to have terminated his membership in the Philippine bar, no automatic right to resume law practice accrues. (Ibid.)

a) No automatic re-acquisition to practice law

Under RA 9225, if a person intends to practice the legal profession in the Philippines and he reacquires his Filipino citizenship pursuant to its provisions “(he) shall apply with the proper authority for a license or permit to engage in such practice.”

Stated otherwise, before a lawyer who reacquires Filipino citizenship pursuant to RA 9225 can resume his law practice, he must first secure from this Court the authority to do so, conditioned on:

1) The updating and payment in full of the annual membership dues in the IBP;

2) The payment of professional tax;

3) The completion of at least 36 credit hours of mandatory continuing legal education; this is specially significant to refresh the applicant/petitioner’s knowledge of Philippine laws and update him of legal developments; and

4) The retaking of the lawyer’s oath which will not only remind him of his duties and responsibilities as a lawyer and as an officer of the Court, but also renew his pledge to maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines. (Ibid.)

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