SC sets rules on oral arguments on whether LEB encroaches on High Court’s jurisdiction over abogados

MANILA — The Supreme Court(SC) has announced the ground rules for parties in the oral arguments scheduled on the suits challenging the validity of the Legal Education Board (LEB).

In an advisory issued Wednesday, the SC en banc through Clerk of Court Edgar O. Aricheta gave parties in the case until Thursday to submit written copies of their opening statements, table of authorities as well copies of any document to be presented.

Among the substantive issues laid down by the Court for discussion is whether Republic Act 7662 creating the LEB encroaches upon the High Court’s power to regulate and supervise the legal profession under the Constitution.

Likewise, another issue at hand is whether the said law giving the LEB the power to prescribe minimum standards for law admission and to adopt a system of continuing legal education is valid and whether the board can validly require a uniform examination for aspiring law students, known as the Philippine Law School Admission Test (PhiLSAT).

In a resolution dated January 15, the High Court’s en banc set for oral argument the suits questioning the LEB on March 5 and 12, 2019 at 2 pm. at the SC New Session Hall.

Two noted legal academicians, Dean Sedfrey M. Candeleraria and Merlin M. Magallona, were invited to attend as “amici curiae” (friends of the court) to shed light on the controversy.

The two were given 10 minutes each to be heard by the court after the petitioners, the Office of the Solicitor General and parties-intervenors in the case.

Among the named respondents is LEB chairperson Emerson B. Aquende. The respondents were asked to comment on the two cases, which were ordered consolidated by the High Court.

The latest was initiated by a group led by Francis Jose L. Abayata, which was consolidated into an earlier suit filed on April 2017 by former Makati Regional Trial Court Judge Oscar Pimentel.

Pimentel and the other petitioners claimed that Republic Act 7662, or the Legal Education Reform Act, is unconstitutional, arguing that Congress cannot create the said administrative office or board because authority over the practice of law is reserved for the SC under the Constitution.

Article 8, Section 5 of the 1987 Constitution, states that the SC shall have the power over admission to the practice of law, the Integrated Bar, and legal assistance to the underprivileged. (PNA)

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