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Brief History of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (the “IBP”) is the official organization of all Philippine lawyers whose names appear in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court. The IBP came into being when the Supreme Court created on October 5, 1970 the Commission on Bar Integration which was tasked “not only to ascertain the advisability of integration of the Bar, but even more, to serve as a common vehicle of the Court and the Bar in fashioning a blueprint for integration and putting the same into actual operation.” Republic Act No. 6397, which became effective September 17, 1971, confirmed the power of the Supreme Court to adopt rules of court to effect the integration of the Philippine Bar. Then on January 9, 1973, the Supreme Court, by a per curiam resolution, pursuant to its constitutional mandate, ordained the integration of the Bar in accordance with its Rule 139-A, effective January 16, 1973. Within the next succeeding months, the IBP was organized. On February 17, 1973, local chapters all over the country were finally formed and elections for chapter officers were held. Then on March 17, 1973, the first batch of representatives to the IBP House of Delegates composed of 104 delegates representing the IBP Chapters nationwide convened in Manila and elected its first set of IBP Governors.

Official Organization of Lawyers

It is an official organization - and by “official” we mean that it is established by the State. Republic Act No. 6397 confirmed the power of the Supreme Court to adopt rules of court to effect the integration of the Philippine Bar. Presidential Decree. No. 181 was promulgated on May 4, 1973 constituting the IBP into a body corporate and providing government assistance thereto for the accomplishment of its purposes.

All Attorneys


The IBP is composed of all Philippine attorneys now numbering about 50,000. All persons whose names appear in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court (having qualified for and passed the Bar examinations and taken their attorney’s oath, unless otherwise disbarred) are members of the IBP. If any such person does not agree to join the organization and regulations (such as payments of annual membership dues, now fixed at P1,000), he does not become, or he ceases to be, an IBP member, and at the same time his name is removed from the Roll of Attorneys. The effect of the removal is that he ceases to be an attorney. He loses the privilege to practice law in the Philippines.

Commission on Bar Integration


It fell upon the Commission on Bar Integration, which the Supreme Court created on October 5, 1970, not only to ascertain the advisability of integration of the Bar but, even more, to serve as a common vehicle of the Court and the Bar in fashioning a blueprint for integration and putting the same into actual operation. The Commission was headed by Supreme Court Associate Justice (later Chief Justice) Fred Ruiz Castro. The members were Jose J. Roy, Conrado V. Sanchez, Salvador V. Esguerra, Crisolito S. Pascual, Tecla San Andres Ziga and Feliciano Jover Ledesma.

Culmination


The integration of the Bar was the culmination of efforts exerted by far-sighted leaders of the profession dating back to the year 1928. And it was accomplished not by arbitrary or unwanted imposition from above but by the vote of the overwhelming majority of the legal profession throughout the Philippines who urged the Supreme Court to ordain it. Indeed, it had long been felt that without their official unification the lawyers were bound to remain disassociated and fragmented, bereft of the force of unity needed to propel the Bar to loftier heights than the voluntary Bar associations which had remained mostly social aggrupations.

Semi-governmental


Some people ask whether the IBP is a governmental (public) or non-governmental (private) entity. The answer is that it is an essentially private (or non-governmental) organization. It is not an agency of the Government. For one thing, the lawyers, who are its members, are private individuals. For another, the funding is derived essentially from their membership dues. We cannot of course deny that the IBP exists to perform certain vital public functions and to assist the Government particularly in the improvement of the administration of justice, the upgrading of the standards of the legal profession, and its proper regulation. Moreover, financial assistance is extended to it by the Government itself. Lawyers are officers of the court, and it is this common aspect of their varied personalities that provides the IBP with its bond of unity. Putting it more precisely, therefore, the IBP is a semi-governmental entity; a private organization endowed with certain governmental attributes.

First Board of Governors

On March 17, 1973, the first IBP House of Delegates, composed of 104 delegates representing all the original 78 IBP Chapters, convened in Manila and elected nine IBP governors: Melanio T. Singson (Northern Luzon), Vicente D. Millora (Central Luzon), Ponciano M. Mortera (Greater Manila), Raul I. Goco (Southern Luzon), Tecla San Andres Ziga (Bicolandia), Pablo P. Garcia (Eastern Visayas), Amado A. Parreño, Jr. (Western Visayas), Manuel M. Garcia (Eastern Mindanao) and Liliano B. Neri (Western Mindanao). In the next few days, the governors-elect chose retired Supreme Court Justice Jose B.L. Reyes as IBP President, and Governor Liliano B. Neri as IBP Executive Vice President. On March 25, 1973, these ten top officials of the IBP took their oath of office in simple but solemn ceremonies before the Supreme Court en banc.








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