Lawyers, divorce and libel

Passing the bar exams doesn’t mean one is automatically a lawyer. In order to practice law in the Philippines bar exam passers must also have taken the lawyer’s oath too and have maintained a good standing in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, where every lawyer is a compulsory member. However 4th year law students may practice law under a Supreme Court-sanctioned clinical legal education program, just like the U.P. College of Law Office of Legal Aid.

Just in case you know of someone who is stuck in a very unhappy marriage you may want to share this information. Even if a Filipino is on the otherside of the universe he/she is still governed by Philippine laws on marriage. Therefore a divorce secured in another country is NOT recognized in the Philippines. However if a Filipino becomes a naturalized foreign citizen and loses his/her Filipino citizenship, then the divorce he/she gets from abroad will be recognized and he/she may marry again.

Be careful what you say, libel in the country is defined as “a public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.” In short, even if what you say is true or the person involved is already dead you can be charged with libel. The sad thing about it is that “As a rule, every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if true, if no good intention and justifiable motive is shown (Art. 354, RPC).”

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