IBP to tackle defiance of lawyer in bikini brouhaha

by Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Apr 03 2012 03:52 PM | Updated as of Apr 04 2012 03:38 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) will tackle the case of a lawyer who defied a court order allowing students to take part in graduation rites despite their supposedly lewd bikini photos posted on Facebook.

IBP President Roan Libarios told ABS-CBNnews.com: “The lawyer should follow the rule. If the judge or any of the litigants feel aggrieved, I advise them to file appropriate disciplinary action before the IBP against the lawyer.”

Nonetheless, he said the IBP can act on its own regarding sanctions against lawyer Romeo Balili.

“But this has to be tackled by the board in a meeting,” he said.  The meeting will be held on April 28.

An outraged Cebu Regional Trial Court Judge Wilfredo Navarro decided to inhibit himself, saying he could “no longer muster the cold neutrality” in deciding the case. 

The Catholic-run St. Theresa's College (STC) barred five of its graduating high school students from joining the commencement exercises for supposedly violating provisions in the “Student Handbook”.

The girls posted pictures of themselves on Facebook in their bikinis. They were holding bottles of alcohol.

Acting on a damage suit filed by parents, Navarro ordered the school to allow the students to march.

The commencement exercises pushed through on March 30 sans the 5 students in the case. Balili, the school’s lawyer, defied the temporary restraining order from Navarro, saying it lacked a bond. He also said the court has yet to act on a motion for reconsideration.

Navarro, in bowing out of the case, lambasted Balili for his “lame and flimsy excuses.” He said the lawyer made a mockery of the court.

He said he was not able to sleep after the incident.

Balili’s act “had certainly caused an outrage that has cut deep into the psyche and the equanimity of the presiding judge,” Navarro added.

The case will now have to be re-raffled. Any motion for contempt of court will be handled by the next handling judge.