ISSUE: Whether or not Assemblyman Fernandez, as a stockholder of IPI, may intervene in the SEC case without violating Sec. 11, Art. VIII (now Sec. 14, Art. VI) of the Constitution
FACTS: After an election for the Directors of the International Pipe Industries Corporation (IPI) was held, one group, the respondent Acero group, instituted at the SEC quo warranto proceedings, questioning the election. Justice Estanislao Fernandez, then a member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa, entered his appearance as counsel for respondent Acero to which the petitioner, Puyat group, objected on Constitutional ground that no Assemblyman could “appear as counsel before any administrative body,” and SEC was an administrative body. Assemblyman Fernandez did not continue his appearance for respondent Acero. Assemblyman Fernandez had purchased 10 shares of IPI for P200.00 upon request of respondent Acero. Following the notarization of Assemblyman Fernandez’ purchase, he filed a motion for intervention in the SEC case as the owner of 10 IPI shares alleging legal interest in the matter in litigation. The SEC granted leave to intervene on the basis of Fernandez’ ownership of the said 10 shares.
DECISION: The intervention of Assemblyman Fernandez in SEC No. 1747 falls within the ambit of the prohibition contained in Section 11, Article VIII of the Constitution.
RATIO DECIDENDI: Ordinarily, by virtue of the motion for intervention, Assemblyman Fernandez cannot be said to be appearing as counsel. Ostensibly, he is not appearing on behalf of another, although he is joining the cause of the private respondents. His appearance could theoretically be for the protection of his ownership of 10 shares of IPI in respect of the matter in litigation. However, certain salient circumstances militate against the intervention of Assemblyman Fernandez in the SEC case. He had acquired a mere P200.00 worth of stock in IPI, representing 10 shares out of 262,843 outstanding shares. He acquired them “after the fact” that is, after the contested election of directors, after the quo warranto suit had been filed before the SEC and 1 day before the scheduled hearing of the case before the SEC. And what is more, before he moved to intervene, he had signified his intention to appear as counsel for respondent Acero, but which was objected to by petitioners. Realizing, perhaps, the validity of the objection, he decided, instead, to intervene on the ground of legal interest in the matter under litigation. The Court is constrained to find that there has been an indirect appearance as counsel before an administrative body, it is a circumvention of the Constitutional prohibition contained in Sec. 11, Art. VIII (now Sec. 14, Art. VI). The intervention was an afterthought to enable him to appear actively in the proceedings in some other capacity.