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After 56 years as lawyer, Cebuano no longers wants to be called ‘attorney’

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CEBU CITY—Lawyer Dionisio Cañete’s statement of protest against widespread corruption in the judiciary and the prosecution service had to have an impact on where it mattered—himself.

Cañete had petitioned the Supreme Court to be stripped of the title “attorney” that he said had brought shame because of widespread corruption perpetrated by his brothers in the legal profession.

Cañete, in his petition to the high court, said he could no longer tolerate “unspeakable injustices” that had been committed in courts and the prosecution service because of corruption.

On Jan. 31, the high court, in a notice issued by the clerk of court, granted his petition and stripped Cañete of the title attorney which he had had for 56 years.

Cañete, 78, expressed elation upon receiving a copy of the high court notice on Wednesday.

Form of protest

He said he hoped his departure from the legal profession as a form of protest could lead to reforms that would reduce, if not remove, corruption in the judiciary and prosecution service.

“I have no regrets,” he said. He said he is, in fact, happy. “I will not be in the same association with corrupt prosecutors and judges.”

He said lawyers were aware of corruption in the legal system but chose to remain silent.

Cañete cited the case of a lawyer, who he did not identify, who lost a case because the opposing party had all the money to “buy” the prosecutor or the judge.

He petitioned to be removed as an attorney because of his “utter disappointment” at corruption being perpetrated by “my brothers in the legal profession who are members of the prosecution and judiciary.”

Cañete passed the bar exams in 1960 and became a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) the next year.

In 1981, he was elected vice president of the IBP Cebu Province Chapter. The following year, he became its president.

Extremely disappointed

He is currently the chair-emeritus of the World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation.

Cañete said he was extremely disappointed when nine of the 10 cases he filed at the prosecutor’s office from 2014 to 2016 were “maliciously dismissed” despite strong evidence.

Three of the nine dismissed cases were overturned by the regional state prosecutor. When he returned to the prosecutor’s office, Cañete said the records of the cases could no longer be found.

Corruption of prosecutors and judges, he said, convinced him that the criminal justice system in the Philippines is “like a spider’s web, wherein only the mosquitoes and flies are caught but the wealthy and government officials” are not.

“With all those cruel and brutal injustices heaped on me, I feel that being a lawyer does not anymore deserve respect and courtesy,” he said.

“There is no more logical and cogent reason for me to remain as a lawyer,” he added.

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