IN RE TESTATE ESTATE OF DOÑA GABINA RAQUEL. VICENTE J. FRANCISCO, petitioner-appellee, vs. AUREA MATIAS, oppositor-appellant.
On July 16, 1952, said Aurea Matias – named as executrix in the will – engaged the services of Atty. Vicente Francisco, who, with the assistance of Atty. Agbunag and of Attorneys Alberto J. Francisco and J. Gonzales Orense, personally handled the case before three different judges – successively.
After the decision of this Court had become final, said attorney filed on October 7, 1958, in the Cavite court, in this testate proceeding, motion to fix his attorney’s fees on the basis of quantum meruit. He alleged, among other things, that the Supreme Court had approved the probate of the will of Gabina Raquel, that he had agreed to receive a contingent fee of P15,000.00 under his erroneous belief, due to misrepresentations of Aurea Matias, that Gabina Raquel had left properties worth only P167,000.00; that he learned, after the decision of the Supreme Court that the said properties actually amounted to much more than that sum; and that, consequently, he was not bound by his agreement to receive a contingent fee of P15,000.00 only. Atty. Francisco prayed that his compensation be fixed at 30% of the market value of the estate.
In deciding the main petition in view of the testimonial and documentary evidence, it brushed aside, as immaterial, the alleged misrepresentation in the making of the written contract, – since “reasonable amount” had become the real issue.
It appears that the will of Gabina Raquel, who died without forced heirs, bequeathed the greatest part of the estate to appellant, and the rest to Santos Matias, Rafael Matias (her brothers) and to Victorina Salud, Santiago Salud and Policarpio Salud. Atty. Francisco said he contracted with her as the executrix. The will (shown to him) designated her as such;. She later asked to be noted in the estate proceedings, the amount of P15,000.00 (Francisco’s fees) as a lien upon the estate (p. 103, R.A.); 3. In her motion ex-parte of July 20, 1959, she petitioned for authority to pay from the estate, the sum of P2,000.00 as part of the retainer fees of Atty. Francisco; 4 She included in her statement of accounts as executrix, Francisco’s attorney’s fees in the amount of P11,000.00; and 5. The statement of assets and liabilities of the estate filed by her with the lower court on January 10, 1959, listed appellee’s fees in the amount of P15,000.00 as an item of estate liability.
Generally speaking, where the employment of an attorney is under an express valid contract fixing the compensation for the attorney, such contract is conclusive as to the amount of compensation.
At any rate, we may take judicial notice of the general information that the market value of real property in the provinces is usually three or more times the assessed valuation thereof. Citing Section 22, Rule 127 of the Rules of Court which says that “an attorney shall be entitled to have and recover from his client no more than a reasonable compensation for his services”. This Supreme Court has held the following as the guidelines to be observed in determining the compensation of an attorney: (a) the amount and character of the services rendered; (b) the labor, time and trouble involved; (c) the nature and importance of the litigation or business in which the services were rendered; (d) the responsibility imposed; (e) the amount of money or the value of the property affected by the controversy, or involved in the employment; (f) the skill and experience called for in the performance of the services; (g) the professional character and standing of the attorney; (h) the results secured; (i) and whether or not the fee is absolute or contingent, it being a recognized rule that an attorney may properly charge a much larger fee when it is to be contingent than when it is not.” (Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, Vol. III [1957 Ed.] pp. 644, 645, citing Haussermann vs. Rahmeyer.
The whole estate would have passed to the oppositor Basilia Salud, who is the first cousin of the deceased Gabina Raquel – to the exclusion of appellant and the other legatees named in the will. Aurea Matias, whose father is a first cousin of the deceased, stands five degrees removed from Gabina Raquel, whereas Basilia Salud is only four degrees removed from her; and under our rules on succession 13 in case of intestate or legal succession, the relative nearer in degree excludes the more remote ones and considering also, that in the collateral line, the right of representation holds only where nephews and nieces survive with brothers and sisters of the deceased. 14 Note incidentally, that the will favored Aurea because the latter lived with, and rendered services to, her aunt Gabina for more than 32 years.
Indeed, the legal services rendered in the lower court were expectably quite exacting. The trial alone covered almost a period of four years. The preparation and presentation of evidence called for strenuous work. Thirty-one documents were presented as evidence for the proponent of the will. The transcript of the stenographic notes consisted of more than a thousand pages. Numberless motions were filed. After the closing of the evidence, a memorandum had to be filed to answer the oppositor’s motion to reject the will. And then, despite the extensive study, research, and preparation of the evidence, and notwithstanding the skill and experience of Atty. Francisco, the Cavite court denied the probate of the will.
Taking into account all the variables of the process, in the light of our several pronouncements on the matter of contingent lawyer’s fees, we feel that modifying the appealed resolution and awarding 12.5% of the market value to the herein appellee would accomplish substantial justice. This figure represents a compromise, some members having voted for a bigger amount, while others voted for less. The Suntay and the Harden cases were specially mentioned, since they belonged to the million-peso class. This award sets a higher ratio than the first, because the latter involved over three million pesos and because Atty. Francisco rendered much greater services to this estate. For one thing, he handled tedious trial work which lasted for about four years – and for another, the fee was contingent. The Harden ratio (20%) was not applied, because attorney and client had entered therein into a valid written contract.
Several circumstances account for this drastic reduction, among them: (a) 25% of P1,236,993.46 equals P309,248.36; but Atty. Francisco expressed willingness to receive P100,000.00 only, in his letter of September 15, 1958 (Record on Appeal, p. 132); (b) although admittedly the leading legal counsel, he got the assistance of three other attorneys; (c) believing the estate amounted to P167,000.00, he agreed to receive P15,000.00 as contingent fee, i.e. 9% only; and (d) he has already received a total of P11,000.00.
TANADA vs CA UNLAWFUL RETENTION OF FUNDS AND CHARGING LIENS
This is a petition for review of the decision of the then Court of Appeals, which reduced the attorney’s fees adjudicated by the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija in favor of petitioners,
* Petitioner Lorenzo M, Tañada and the late Francisco A. Delgado were former partners in the law firm “Delgado and Tañada”,
* petitioners Modesto T. Flores and Santiago Macapagal, together with Alberto Dizon and Gregorio Fernandez, Jr., now both deceased, were assistant attorneys in said law office
* August 1940, Narcisa Mendoza, now deceased, retained the services of the law firm to represent her in Civil Cases Nos. 8246 and 8330 then pending before the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija. She agreed to pay the law firm a contingent fee equivalent to one-half of whatever amounts and/or properties she might recover after the termination of the aforesaid suits.
* the parties agreed that Mendoza would manage and administer the same with the obligation of giving to petitioners, after proper accounting, their one-half share in the income at the end of every crop year. In accordance with said agreement, Mendoza, from 1941 to 1958, delivered to the law firm its share in the proceeds of the disputed lands.
* Starting 1959, however, Mendoza stopped giving to the law firm its share in the produce.
* filed a complaint against Narcisa Mendoza 4 in the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija for partition of the properties in question, with accounting of all the fruits and/or income thereof, and for delivery of their share, plus interests.
* said litigations were in fact terminated through a compromise agreement; and that as petitioners did not utilize their legal knowledge and professional skill to win these actions, their claim over one-half of the properties adjudicated to her had become unconscionably disproportionate to the services actually rendered by them.
* respondent appellate court modified the above decision by reducing the awards adjudicated by the trial Court, to wit
Indeed, such actuation on her part was tantamount to virtual acquiesence in the order of Judge Rodas and she cannot now be allowed to repudiate her representations or assume an inconsistent posture. It is a rule constantly adhered to “that a party who voluntarily executes, either partially or in toto, a judgment rendered for or against him, or who voluntarily acquiesces in or ratifies, either partially or in toto, the execution of that judgment is not permitted to appeal from it.” 10
NASSER vs CUEVAS UNLAWFUL RETENTION OF FUNDS AND CHARGING LIENS
* In the proceedings for the settlement of the estate of the late Amadeo Matute Molave in the then Court of First Instance of Manila, 1 a document embodying a supplemental compromise agreement and project of partition was executed
* The agreement provided inter alia for the payment of the attorney’s fees of respondent Atty. Paterno Canlas in the aggregate amount of P600,000.00, in property (Hacienda Cadiatan, valued at P128,000.00) and cash (P412,000.00). Relative to said fees, the agreement also contained a provision creating a charging lien in Canlas’ favor
* a charging lien for attorney’s fees to secure the payment of said attorney’s fees and, by these present, all the signatories to this Compromise Agreement expressly agree to the establishment and creation of the aforesaid charging lien, provided that upon full payment of the corresponding liability of a party the lien on his/her share is extinguished.
o the heirs and transferee pendente lite to pay Atty. Paterno R. Canlas their corresponding shares of the attorney’s fees
* This Order of Judge Cuevas was assailed in this Court by the heirs (the Nassers and Matutes through the special civil action of certiorari and/or prohibition at bar, principally on the ground that execution was improper in the absence of a written agreement on the precise terms of payment of Canlas attorney’s fees
* Not too long afterwards, Mariano T. Nasser, Manuel S. Nasser and Fortunata Zambrano Vda. de Matute reached an agreement with respondent Canlas over the payment of the latter’s fees.
* In the proceedings for the settlement of the estate of the late Amadeo Matute, a document with a compromise agreement for partition was executed among the heirs and other parties. It was approved by the court but later rendered moot. Anyway, the agreement provided for the payment of attorney’s fees of Atty. Paterno Canlas of P600,000, in property and in cash (P412,000, the rest in property). The agreement contained the following clause:
* …a charging lien for attornye’s fees to secure the payment of said fees by signatories to this agreement expressly agree to the establishment and creation of the aforesaid charging lien, provided that upon full payment of the corresponding liability of a party, the lien on his/her share is extinguished.
* Shortly after the approval of the agreement, Atty Canlas moved for the execution, and it was granted.
* The order, issued by Judge Cuevas, was assailed in certiorari and prohibition, on the ground that the execution was improper in the absence of a written agreement on the precise terms of payment of Canlas’ attorney’s fees. Petitioners claim that they are entitled to pay Atty. Canlas at installment.
* Issue: Whether or not the agreement pertained to installment.
* Held: No. It evidently contemplates the probability that the heirs obliged to pay Canles would pay at different times and denotes nothing more than that if one of the obligors separately pays his share in Canlas’s fees, the lien on his share of the estate is thereby extinguish, a quite obvious proposition to be sure. the clause cannot be construed as granting to any of them the option of pay in installments. Also, the payment had been delayed for 14 years already
ARMOVIT vs CA
* It appears that Atty. Armovit was engaged as counsel for the private respondent in a complaint to have an extrajudicial foreclosure of certain properties by the Government Service Insurance System declared null and void;
* that the parties allegedly agreed that the private respondent shall pay P15,000.00 as initial compensation and twenty percent in contingent fees
* the defunct Court of First Instance rendered judgment annulling foreclosure and ordering the Government Service Insurance System to restructure the private respondent’s loan
* It also appears that when Atty. Armovit sought execution with the court a quo, he was informed by Romualdo Bengson president of the respondent corporation, that the firm has retained the services of Atty. Pacifico Yadao
* The private respondent, however, later ignored his billings and over the phone, directed him allegedly not to take part in the execution proceedings
* However, upon the turnover of the money to the private respondent, Mrs. Brenda Bengson (wife of Romualdo Bengzon delivered to Atty. Armovit the sum of P300,000.00 only. Armovit protested and demanded the amount of P552,000.0 twenty percent of P2,760,000.00), for which Mrs. Bengzon made assurances that he will be paid the balance.
* Reconsideration having been denied, Atty. Armovit went the Court of Appeals on a petition for certiorari and prohibition.
ISSUE: The only issue is whether or not Atty. Armovit is entitled to the sum of P252,000.00 more, in addition to the sum P300,000.00 already paid him by the private respondent
* The fact that the receipt evidencing payment by the private respondent of the amount of P300,000.00 “was without any qualification as ‘advance’ or ‘partial’ or ‘incomplete’,” 16 as the Court of Appeals noted and the Court of Appeals took to mean “full payment”, will not weaken Atty. Armovit’s demand for the balance.
* The private respondent can not justifiably downplay Atty. Armovit as negligent (for failing to appeal) or his demand for fees excessive (that he had been paid enough). Atty. Armovit, after all, succeeded in obtaining a favorable decision for his client, an although his prayer for various damages were denied, he secceeded in obtaining a substantial award (P1,900,00.00 in unpaid rentals) for his client
* The fact that Atty. Armovit may have been paid substantially (in initial fees) while the case was dragging is no justification for denying him the full amount under their agreement
* That the retainer agreement was never approved by the board of the corporation is also a poor excuse because the fact of the matter is that the private respondent did deliver to Atty. Armovit the sum of P300,000.00 in partial payment,
* , we do not find Atty. Armovit’s claim for “twenty percent of all recoveries” to be unreasonable.
FELIPE E. ABELLA, vs. ATTY. ASTERIA E. CRUZABRA
Felipe E. Abella (complainant) filed a complaint for violation of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Section 7(b)(2) of Republic Act No. 67131 (RA 6713) or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees against Atty. Asteria E. Cruzabra (respondent). In his affidavit-complaint2 dated 8 May 2002, complainant charged respondent with engaging in private practice while employed in the government service.
Complainant alleged that respondent was admitted to the Philippine Bar on 30 May 1986 and was appointed as Deputy Register of Deeds of General Santos City on 11 August 1987.3 Complainant asserted that as Deputy Register of Deeds, respondent filed a petition for commission as a notary public and was commissioned on 29 February 1988 without obtaining prior authority from the Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ).4 Complainant claimed that respondent has notarized some 3,000 documents.5 Complainant pointed out that respondent only stopped notarizing documents when she was reprimanded by the Chief of the Investigation Division of the Land Registration Authority.6
Complainant contended that respondent could not justify her act by pretending to be in good faith because even non-lawyers are not excused from ignorance of the law. Complainant branded as incredible respondent’s claim that she was merely motivated by public service in notarizing 3,000 documents. Complainant pointed out that respondent spent money to buy the Notarial Register Books and spent hours going over the documents subscribed before her, thereby prejudicing her efficiency and performance as Deputy Register of Deeds. Complainant believed that even if respondent had obtained authority from the DOJ, respondent would still be guilty of violating Section 7(b)(2) of RA 6713 because her practice as a notary public conflicts with her official functions.7
In her Comment, respondent admitted that she was a notary public from 29 February 1988 to 31 December 1989.8 Respondent stated that she was authorized by her superior, the Register of Deeds, to act as a notary public.
In her Report and Recommendation (Report) dated 25 January 2005, Investigating Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro recommended to the IBP Board of Governors the dismissal of the complaint against respondent for lack of merit.
In a Resolution dated 12 March 2005, the IBP Board of Governors, in adopting and approving the Report, dismissed the case for lack of merit.
It is clear that when respondent filed her petition for commission as a notary public, she did not obtain a written permission from the Secretary of the DOJ. Respondent’s superior, the Register of Deeds, cannot issue any authorization because he is not the head of the Department. And even assuming that the Register of Deeds authorized her, respondent failed to present any proof of that written permission. Respondent cannot feign ignorance or good faith because respondent filed her petition for commission as a notary public after Memorandum Circular No. 17 was issued in 1986.
Under the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, engaging in the private practice of profession, when unauthorized, is classified as a light offense punishable by reprimand.23
Wherefore, we find Atty. Asteria E. Cruzabra guilty of engaging in notarial practice without the written authority from the Secretary of the Department of Justice, and accordingly we REPRIMAND her. She is warned that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future shall merit a more severe sanction.
Orbos vs CSC
G.R. No. 92561 September 12, 1990
SECRETARY OSCAR ORBOS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS,petitioner,
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION and NERIO MADARANG, respondents.
The Solicitor General for petitioners.
Jose C. Cimano for private respondent.
Once again the extent of the authority of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to pass upon contested appointments is brought into focus in this petition. The appearance of the Solicitor General on behalf of the petitioner is also questioned.
In the course of the reorganization of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Guido C. Agon and Alfonso Magnayon were appointed to the positions of Head Telecommunications Engineer, range 74.
Nerio Madarang who was also appointed to the position of Supervising Telecommunications Engineer, range 12, questioned the appointments of Agon and Magnayon by filing an appeal with the Reorganization Appeals Board of the DOTC composed of Moises S. Tolentino, Jr. of the Office of the Secretary, as Chairman and Assistant Secretary Rosauro V. Sibal and Graciano L. Sitchon of the Office of the Secretary, as members. In a resolution dated January 9, 1989 the said Reorganization Appeals Board dismissed Madarang’s appeal for lack of merit. Hence, he appealed to the public respondent Civil Service Commission (CSC)
In its resolution dated August 29, 1989, respondent CSC revoked the appointments of Agon and Magnayon for the contested positions and directed the appointment of Madarang to the said position of Heads Telecommunications Engineer. 1 DOTC Assistant Secretary Sibal sought a reconsideration of the said resolution of the CSC but this was denied in a resolution dated November 2, 1989. 2
On November 21, 1989, Assistant Secretary Sibal filed a manifestation with the CSC stating:
The Telecommunications Office through the undersigned, hereby manifests that we received the CSC resolution in CSC Case No. 393 on November 12, 1989 and in compliance thereto, we will convene our Selection and Promotion Board to deliberate on the position of Head Telecommunications Engineer (reclassified to Engineer IV pursuant to National Compensation Circular No. 58 effective July 1, 1989) with qualified candidates including appellant Nerio Madarang. 3
In a letter dated November 27, 1989, respondent Madarang requested the CSC to take appropriate action by implementing its resolutions dated August 29, 1989 and November 2, 1989.
In an order dated December 19, 1989, the CSC directed the immediate implementation of its aforementioned resolution insofar as it concerned the appointment of Madarang. 4
Agon and Magnayon filed their separate motions for reconsideration of the aforestated resolutions of the CSC but these were denied by the said commission in a resolution dated January 19, 1990.
Hence, this petition for certiorari with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction or restraining order which was filed by the Solicitor General in behalf of petitioner. On March 29, 1990, the Court required the respondents to comment on the petition within ten (10) days from notice and issued a restraining order enjoining the CSC from enforcing its questioned resolutions until further orders.
The sole issue in this case is whether or not the CSC acted in excess of its jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction when it ordered the appointment of Nerio Madarang to the contested position.
While petitioner does not question the aforestated resolutions of the CSC insofar as it disapproved the appointments of Agon and Magnayon to the positions of Head Telecommunications Engineer, petitioner maintains that as the appointing authority, he has the right of choice and discretion to appoint the persons whom he deems fit to the position to be filled. 5 Petitioner emphasizes that when the CSC denied his motion for reconsideration in a resolution dated November 2, 1989, Assistant Secretary Sibal informed the CSC through a manifestation that the DOTC Selection and Promotions Board will be convened to deliberate on the position of Head Telecommunications Engineer, taking into consideration qualified candidates including Nerio Madarang. Nevertheless, the CSC stood pat on its resolution directing the appointment of Nerio Madarang to the contested position.
On the other hand, the CSC contends that it was properly exercising a constitutional and legal duty to enforce the merit and fitness principle in the appointment of civil servants and to uphold their equally guaranteed right to be appointed to similar or comparable positions in the reorganized agency consistent with applicable law and issuances of competent authorities. 6
Invoking the following provisions of the Constitution:
Section 3 (Article IX [B]). – The Civil Service Commission, as the central personnel agency of the Government, shall establish a career service and adopt measures to promote morale, efficiency, integrity, responsiveness, progressiveness, and courtesy in the civil service. It shall strengthen the writ and reward system, integrate all human resources development programs for all levels and ranks, and institutionalize a management climate conducive to public accountability. It shall submit to the President and the Congress an annual report on its personnel programs.’ (Emphasis supplied.);
Section 19, Book V of Executive Order No. 292 (The Administrative Code of 1987) which provides:
Section 19. Recruitment and Selection of Employees – (l) Opportunity for government employment shall be open to all qualified citizens, and positive efforts shall be exerted to attract the best qualified to enter the service. Employees shall be selected on the basis of the fitness to perform the duties and assume the responsibilities of the position.;
and Section 12 of the same Executive Order:
Sec. 12. – The Commission shall administer the Civil Service and shall have the following powers and functions: (a) Administer and enforce the constitutional and statutory provision of the said merit systems… (Emphasis supplied.)
respondent CSC argues that the primary objective of the CSC system is to promote and establish professionalism by ensuring a high level of morale among the employees and officers in the career civil service. Pursuant to this constitutional mandate, the CSC contends it should see to it that the merit system is applied, enforced and implemented in personnel actions involving appointments affecting all levels and ranks in the civil service at all times. 7
The Court finds the petition to be impressed with merit.
Paragraph H, Section 9 of Presidential Decree No. 807, otherwise known as the ‘Civil Service Decree of the Philippines,” provides:
Section 9. Powers and Function of the Commission. -The Commission shall administer the Civil Service and shall have the following powers and functions:
xxx xxx xxx
(h) Approve all appointments, whether original or promotional, to positions in the civil service, except those of presidential appointees, members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, police forces, firemen, and jailguards, and disapprove those where the appointees do not possess the appropriate eligibility or required qualifications. An appointment shall take effect immediately upon issue by the appointing authority if the appointee assumes his duties immediately and shall remain effective until it is disapproved by the Commission, if this should take place, without prejudice to the liability of the appointing authority for appointments issued in violation of existing laws or rules: Provided, finally, That the Commission shall keep a record of appointments of all officers and employees in the civil service. All appointments requiring the approval of the Commission as herein provided, shall be submitted to it by the appointing authority within thirty days from issuance, otherwise the appointment becomes ineffective thirty days thereafter. (Emphasis supplied)
From the foregoing provision it is clear that the CSC has the power to approve or disapprove an appointment and not the power to make the appointment itself or to direct that such appointment be made by the appointing authority. The CSC can only inquire into the eligibility of the person chosen to fill a vacant position and it finds the person qualified it must so attest. The duty of the CSC is to attest appointments. 8 That function being discharged, its participation in the appointment process ceases. 9
By the same token, should the CSC find that the appointee is not qualified for the position, it has the duty to disapprove the appointment. Thereafter, the responsibility of appointing the qualified person in lieu of the disqualified appointee rests upon the discretion of the appointing authority. The CSC cannot encroach upon such discretion vested solely in the appointing authority.
This Court has pronounced in no uncertain terms that the CSC has no authority to revoke an appointment on the ground that another person is more qualified for a particular position. The Court likewise held that the CSC does not have the authority to direct the appointment of a substitute of its choice. 10
Petitioner demonstrated his deference to the resolutions of the CSC disapproving the appointments of Agon and Magnayon. However, in the implementation of said resolutions he decided to convene the DOTC Selection and Promotions Board to deliberate on the person who should be appointed as Head Telecommunications Engineer among qualified candidates including respondent Nerio Madarang. Instead of acknowledging the authority of petitioner to exercise its discretion in the appointment of a replacement, the CSC, in excess of its jurisdiction and with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction, directed the appointment of Madarang as the substitute of its choice. This act of the CSC must be struck down.
Private respondent Madarang, besides his comment, filed a motion to disqualify the Office of the Solicitor General from appearing for petitioner and to cite petitioner in contempt of court for the filing of the petition.
The Solicitor General is the lawyer of the government, its agencies and instrumentalities, and its officials or agents including petitioner and public respondent. This is so provided under Presidential Decree No. 478:
SECTION 1. Functions and Organization. – (1) The Office of the Solicitor General shall represent the Government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities and its officials and agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of a lawyer. …. (Emphasis supplied.) 10-A
In the discharge of this task the Solicitor General must see to it that the best interest of the government is upheld within the limits set by law. When confronted with a situation where one government office takes an adverse position against another government agency, as in this case, the Solicitor General should not refrain from performing his duty as the lawyer of the government. It is incumbent upon him to present to the court what he considers would legally uphold the best interest of the government although it may run counter to a client’s position. 11 In such an instance the government office adversely affected by the position taken by the Solicitor General, if it still believes in the merit of its case, may appear in its own behalf through its legal personnel or representative.
In the present case, it appears that after the Solicitor General studied the issues he found merit in the cause of the petitioner based on the applicable law and jurisprudence. Thus, it is his duty to represent the petitioner as he did by filing this petition. He cannot be disqualified from appearing for the petitioner even if in so doing his representation runs against the interests of the CSC.
This is not the first time that the Office of the Solicitor General has taken a position adverse to his clients like the CSC, the National Labor Relations Commission, among others, and even the People of the Philippines. In such instances, the Solicitor General nevertheless manifests his opinion and recommendation to the Court which is an invaluable aid in the disposition of the case. On some occasions he begs leave to be excused from intervening in the case, more so, when the client had already filed its own comment different from the stand of the Solicitor General or in a situation when he finds the contention of a private party tenable as against that of the government or any of its agencies. The Solicitor General has recommended the acquittal of the accused in appealed criminal cases.
There are cases where a government agency declines the services of the Solicitor General or otherwise fails or refuses to forward the papers of the case to him for appropriate action. The Court finds and so holds that this practice should be stopped. To repeat, the Solicitor General is the lawyer of the government, any of its agents and officials in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of a lawyer. The exception is when such officials or agents are being charged criminally or are being civilly sued for damages arising from a felony. 12 His services cannot be lightly rejected, much less ignored by the office or officials concerned.
Indeed, the assistance of the Solicitor General should be welcomed by the parties. He should be given full support and cooperation by any agency or official involved in litigation. He should be enabled to faithfully discharge his duties and responsibilities as the government advocate. And he should do no less for his clients. His burden of assisting in the fair and just administration of justice is clear.
This Court does not expect the Solicitor General to waver in the performance of his duty. As a matter of fact, the Court appreciates the participation of the Solicitor General in many proceedings and his continued fealty to his assigned task. He should not therefore desist from appearing before this Court even in those cases he finds his opinion inconsistent with the Government or any of its agents he is expected to represent. The Court must be advised of his position just as well.
Private respondent Madarang also seeks to hold petitioner in contempt of court on the ground that the petition was filed in order to circumvent or obviate the dismissal of a similar petition in this Court filed by Guido Agon and Alfonso Magnayon. The legal personality of the petitioner to file the petition is also questioned on the ground it was Assistant Secretary Sibal and not the petitioner who issued the contested appointments.
The petitioner denies this contention. He asserts that the petition was properly brought in his name as head of the DOTC as what is in issue is the reorganization of the said department. The petitioner does not dispute the disapproval of the appointments of Agon and Magnayon; he only disagrees with the order of the CSC directing the appointment of Madarang to the contested position. The petitioner also alleges that he was not aware of the existence of a separate petition filed in this Court by Agon and Magnayon.
The Court finds the arguments and assertions of petitioner to be well taken.
It is true that the records of this Court show that there is such a case docketed as G.R. No. 92064 entitled “Guido Agon, et al., vs. CSC et al.” which is a special civil action for certiorari with a prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction. The petition was dismissed for late filing in a resolution dated February 27, 1990.
On March 29, 1990 this Court denied with finality the motion for reconsideration filed by the said petitioners there being no compelling reason to warrant the reversal of the questioned resolution.
Apparently, the disapproval of the appointments of Agon and Magnayon was the issue in said petition. In the present petition as aforestated, petitioner yields to the disapproval of the appointment of the two, but questions the authority of the CSC to direct the appointment of Madarang to the contested position.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the questioned resolutions of the respondent CSC dated August 29, 1989, November 2, 1989 and January 19, 1990 are hereby annulled insofar as they direct the appointment of Nerio Madarang to the contested position. The petitioner is hereby authorized to convene the DOTC Selection and Promotion Board to determine who shall replace Guido Agon and Alfonso Magnayon to the contested position by considering all qualified candidates including Nerio Madarang. The restraining order dated March 29, 1990 is hereby made permanent. No costs.