IBP in hot water over Bikoy; heads face disbarment complaint

MANILA, Philippines – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) national chapter is in hot water over their brief accommodation of the man who released videos damaging to the first family.

The Kabalikat Partylist filed on Friday, May 10, before the Supreme Court a disbarment complaint against IBP national president Abdiel Dan Fajardo and incoming president and current vice-chairman Domingo Egon Cayosa.

The complaint accused Fajardo and Cayosa of violating Rule 1.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for allowing Peter Joemel Advincula alias Bikoy to use the IBP offices for his press conference on May 6. (PROFILE: Alias 'Bikoy': From seminarian to ex-con to whistle-blower)

Rule 1.02 says: “A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system.”

The complaint states that the IBP heads committed misconduct in “allowing, tolerating, and abetting” Advincula “in the commission of slander and/or uttering seditious words or speech and in circulating scurrilous libels against the duly constituted authority and a member of his family.”

No charges have been filed yet against Advincula over the Bikoy videos.

Hot water

On Thursday, May 9, Solicitor General Jose Calida called for the resignation of Fajardo, who appeared in the controversial press conference to explain that Advincula was received by the IBP just as anybody who comes to them for legal assistance.

Fajardo has since announced that the IBP declined Advincula’s request for legal aid, but the grounds remain unclear. Advincula is in hiding.

“Fajardo has turned the IBP into a highly politicized organization, when it should advance the rule of law and stand for truth and justice. He is a disgrace to the IBP,” Calida said. 

Fajardo has stood strong against some actions of the Duterte administration, especially the quo warranto ouster of former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

“He does not to speak for all the members of the IBP. But his actions reflect badly on the organization and consequently, the legal profession,” Calida said.

In defense of the IBP

Former IBP national president Jose Aguila Grapilon defended the IBP and said it was the organization’s duty to accommodate Advincula.

“The issue facing Mr Advincula is one concerning his freedoms of speech and of expression. While the IBP through the National Center for Legal Aid (NCLA) cannot represent him, his concerns are ones that cannot be belittled – especially in these dark times for our country and our constitutional rights,” said Grapilon.

Grapilon said lawyers are required to stand firm in favor of justice, human rights, and the rule of law.

“Therefore, I urge my brethren in the legal profession to bear witness to these trying times, and if they can, serve the causes that need their expertise and fighting spirit. We as a profession cannot afford to ignore the troubling tides slowly besetting our beloved Republic. We are lawyers for the Filipino – we are here, and we are watching,” said Grapilon.

The IBP is the mandatory organization of Philippine lawyers. It is typically the first forum for disbarment complaints, after which it makes recommendations to the Supreme Court. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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