The Legal 500

Twitter Logo Youtube Circle Icon LinkedIn Icon
Work +63 2 810 0281

Founded in 1901, our firm has a reputation as the oldest continuously operating law office in the country.

The Philippines was a colony of the United States. Two American lawyers, John W. Hausserman – formerly of the U.S. Judge Advocate General’s Office – and Charles Cohn, were the firm’s founding partners.

In 1903, the Cohn & Hausserman Law Office was appointed the Philippine Branch of the Coudert Brothers, a New York law firm (in a nod to tradition, the firm’s cable address was “TREDOUC” – the reverse of “COUDERT”). Coudert Brothers closed their Philippine Branch in 1907. Cohn & Hausserman merged with the law firm of Ortigas and Fisher.

In 1923, Hausserman, Ortigas, Cohn & Fisher merged with Kincaid, Perkins & Kincaid, which later became Fisher, Dewitt, Perkins & Brady, after other American partners joined the practice. A notable event occurred in 1936, when Alfonso Ponce Enrile, one of the most noted trial lawyers of his time, became the first Filipino partner, and the firm became known as Dewitt, Perkins and Ponce Enrile. From that time on, the engagement of American lawyers ceased, and the firm evolved to be entirely Filipino.

Leonardo Siguion Reyna and Manuel Montecillo joined the firm in 1948 and became General Partners in 1961 and stayed  until they passed away in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Oscar Ongsiako, the third name partner, passed away in 1995.

Keeping to tradition, our firm’s leadership continues to be lodged with our General Partners. Our Chairman, Rolando Mario Villonco, was elevated to the General Partnership in 1996. Cesar Manalaysay, Mario Andres and Edgardo Balois became General Partners in 2011.

Types of work undertaken

Local implementation of the merger and  joint venture between R & R Ice Cream and Nestle N.A. through the formation of the local company as purchaser of the chilled products of NPI (more than Php1 billion in transaction value);

Advised Nestle on warehouse construction, financing and operation by third party of warehouses for Nestle products through construction and service operation agreement of Php400million a month fee for the operator;

Reorganization of land companies through cross sale and purchase of shares between two retirement plans in connection with land ownership and maximizing shareholders’ value of each plan in the process addressing the very restrictive land ownership limitation of foreigners.

Judicial estate settlement which involved the disposition of residential land in an exclusive village with contract value of P950 million, and payment estate and other taxes .

Assisted the purchaser of a residential house and lot with contract value of P325 million in an exclusive subdivision.

Advised the siblings in the consolidation and proposed sale of 30 hectares of rawland to a development with sale price of about P950 million.

Assisted an investor in the recovery of his investment worth US$11.9 million in an international boxing event.

Formation of branches from the SEC for Chinese and African airlines to register,  operate and obtain landing rights in the Philippines from the Civil Aeronautics Board and Civil Aviation Authority in the Philippines and Successfully obtaining them.

Initial Public Offering due diligence investigation of a memorial company and legal research and recommendation for the optimal investment approach of the foreign investor given in the memorial park foreign land ownership restriction.

Successfully defended in a construction arbitration and mediation a food manufacturing company against a local contractor claiming Php500 million damages for breach of contract.

Succesfully handling in the hiring of ultra-technical foreign personnel for the telco with the Bureau of Immigration surmounting objections from the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Justice .

Contesting up to the Supreme Court a Php6.5 billion tax assessment where it is still pending.

Advising probable participants in the 3rd Telco and MRT and LRT projects under the Build Build Build program.

Conducting labor and employment seminars for managers and providing seminars on strategy, approaches and responses by top level management and executives in collective bargaining negotiation.

Successful handling of CBA negotiations for food, telecom and TV companies.

Successful handling for the telecom companies on resisting by court action the regularization of 8,000 workers who were employees of bonafide independent contractors and therefore not covered by the alleged illegal arrangements

  • Languages
  • English
  • Japanese
  • Chinese (Mandarin)

Above material supplied by Siguion Reyna, Montecillo & Ongsiako.

Legal Developments in Philippines

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to