LEGAL ETHICS CASE DIGESTS Submitted by: de Lira, Dana Flynch EH 307 PHILIPPINE ASSOCIATION OF FREE LABOR UNIONS (PAFLU), ENRIQUE ENTILA & VICTORIANO TENEZA, petitioners, vs.BINALBANGAN ISABELA SUGAR COMPANY, COURT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS & QUINTIN MUNING, respondents. The above-named petitioners were complainants in Case No. 72-ULP-Iloilo, entitled, "PAFLU, et al, vs. Binalbagan-Isabela Sugar Co., et al." After trial, the Court of Industrial Relations rendered a decision, on 29 March 1961, ordering the reinstatement with backwages of complainants Enrique Entila and Victorino Tenazas. Said decision became final On 18 October 1963, Cipriano Cid & Associates, counsel of record for the winning complainants, filed a notice of attorney's hen equivalent to 30% of the total backwages. On 22 November 1963, Atty. Atanacio Pacis also filed a similar notice for a reasonable amount. Complainants Entila and Tenazas, on 3 December 1963, filed a manifestation indicating their non-objection to an award of attorney's fees for 25% of their backwages, and, on the same day, Quintin Muning filed a "Petition for Award of Services Rendered" equivalent to 20% of the backwages. Muning's petition was opposed by Cipriano Cid & Associates on the ground that he is not a lawyer. The award of 10% to Quintin Muning, who is not a lawyer according to the order, is sought to be voided in the present petition. Applicable to the issue at hand is the principle enunciated in Amalgamated Laborers' Association, et al. vs. Court of Industrial Relations, et al., L-23467, 27 March 1968, that an agreement providing for the division of attorney's fees, whereby a non-lawyer union president is allowed to share in said fees with lawyers, is condemned by Canon 34 of Legal Ethics and is immoral and cannot be justified. An award by a court of attorney's fees is no less immoral in the absence of a contract, as in the present case. The reasons are that the ethics of the legal profession should not be violated; that acting as an attorney without authority constitutes contempt of court, which is punishable by fine or imprisonment or both, and the law will not assist a person to reap the fruits or benefit of an unlawful act or an act done in violation of law; and that if fees were to be allowed to nonlawyers, it would leave the public in hopeless confusion as to whom to consult in case of necessity and also leave the bar in a chaotic condition, aside from the fact that non-lawyers are not amenable to disciplinary measures. The weight of the reasons heretofore stated why a non-lawyer may not be awarded attorney's fees should suffice to refute the possible argument that appearances by non-lawyers before the Court of Industrial Relations should be excepted on the ground that said court is a court of special jurisdiction; such special jurisdiction does not outweigh the aforesaid reasons and cannot justify an exception. WHEREFORE, the orders under review are hereby set aside insofar as they awarded 10% of the backwages as attorney's fees for respondent Quintin Muning. Said orders are affirmed in all other respects. Costs against respondent Muning. B. R. SEBASTIAN ENTERPRISES, INC., petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, EULOGIO B. REYES, NICANOR G. SALAYSAY, in his capacity as Provincial Sheriff of Rizal; and ANTONIO MARINAS, in his capacity as Deputy Sheriff, respondents. This is a petition for prohibition and mandamus, with prayer for preliminary injunction, to review the Resolution dated 10 November 1975 of respondent Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. No. 53546-R denying petitioner's motion to reinstate its appeal, earlier dismissed for failure to file the Appellant's Brief. Eulogio B. Reyes, now deceased, filed an action for damages with the then Court of First Instance (now regional Trial Court) of Rizal, Pasay City Branch, against the Director of Public Works, the Republic of the Philippines and petitioner herein, B.R. Sebastian Enterprises, Inc. On 7 May 1973, the trial court rendered a decision finding petitioner liable for damages but absolving the other defendants. Petitioner, thru its counsel, the law firm of Baizas, Alberto and Associates, timely appealed the adverse decision to the respondent Court of Appeals. During the pendency of the appeal, the plaintiff-appellee therein, Eulogio B. Reyes, died. Upon prior leave of the respondent Court, he was substituted by his heirs — Enrique N. Reyes, Felicisima R. Natividad, Donna Marie N. Reyes and Renne Marie N. Reyes — who are now the private respondents in this present petition. On 19 February 1974, petitioner, thru its then counsel of record, received notice to file Appellant's Brief within 45 days from receipt thereof. It had, therefore, until 5 April 1974 within which to comply. Counsel for petitioner failed to file the Brief; thus, on 9 July 1974, respondent Court issued a Resolution requiring said counsel to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed for failure to file the Appellant's Brief within the reglementary period. A copy of this Resolution was received by counsel for petitioner on 17 July 1974. As the latter failed to comply with the above Resolution, respondent court, on 9 September 1974, issued another Resolution this time dismissing petitioner's appeal. On 28 September 1974, petitioner, this time thru the BAIZAS LAW OFFICE, filed a motion for reconsideration of the resolution dismissing its appeal alleging that as a result of the death of Atty. Crispin Baizas, senior partner in the law firm of BAIZAS, ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES, the affairs of the said firm are still being settled between Atty. Jose Baizas (son of Crispin Baizas) and Atty. Ruby Alberto, the latter having established her own law office; furthermore, Atty. Rodolfo Espiritu, the lawyer who handled this case in the trial court and who is believed to have also attended to the preparation of the Appellant's brief but failed to submit it through oversight and inadvertence, had also left the firm. In its Resolution of 9 October 1974, respondent Court denied the motion for reconsideration, considering that six (6) months had elapsed since the expiration of the original period and more than two and one-half (2-1/2) months since counsel received copy of the resolution requiring him to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed for failure to file brief. The trial court issued a writ of execution on 21 October 1975. On 13 November 1975, petitioner filed the original petition in this case against the Court of Appeals, Eulogio B. Reyes, Nicanor G. Salaysay, as Provincial Sheriff of Rizal, and Antonio Marinas, as Deputy Sheriff. The petition likewise prayed for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order. In the Resolution of 12 May 1976, Court denied the petition for lack of merit. However, on 31 May 1976, petitioner filed a motion for its reconsideration claiming that since it was deprived of the right to appeal without fault on its part, the petition should be given due course. On 10 September 1976, Court resolved to reconsider its Resolution of 12 May 1976 and required both parties to submit simultaneously their respective Memoranda within thirty (30) days from notice thereof. Petitioner submitted its Memorandum on 5 November 1976 while respondents submitted theirs on 22 November 1976. On 29 November 1976, this Court deemed the present case submitted for decision. ISSUE: Whether or not the respondent Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion in denying petitioner's motion to reinstate its appeal, previously dismissed for failure to file the Appellant's Brief. RULING: In the instant case, no fraud is involved; what obtains is simple negligence on the part of petitioner's counsel, which is neither excusable nor unavoidable. Petitioner thus failed to demonstrate sufficient cause to warrant a favorable action on its plea. To justify its failure to file the Appellant's Brief, petitioner relies mainly on the death of Atty. Crispin Baizas and the supposed confusion it brought to the firm of BAIZAS, ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES. No merit in petitioner's contentions. Petitioner's counsel was the law firm of BAIZAS, ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES and not merely Atty. Crispin Baizas. Hence, the death of the latter did not extinguish the lawyer-client relationship between said firm and petitioner. Undoubtedly, there was inexcusable negligence on the part of petitioner's counsel in failing to file the Appellant's Brief. As revealed by the records, petitioner's counsel, the BAIZAS, ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES law firm, received the notice to file Brief on 19 February 1974. It failed to do so within the 45 days granted to it. Said law firm also received a copy of the respondent Court's Resolution of 9 July 1974 requiring it to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed for failure to file the Brief within the reglementary period. Petitioner chose not to comply with it, thus compelling the respondent Court to issue on 9 September 1974 a Resolution dismissing the appeal, a copy of which the former also received. Then, on 28 September 1974, the BAIZAS LAW OFFICE moved for a reconsideration of the said Resolution which respondent Court denied in its Resolution of 9 October 1974. Nothing more was heard from petitioner until after a year when, on 6 November 1975, it filed the instant petition in reaction to the issuance of a writ of execution by the trial court following receipt of the records from the respondent Court. The "confusion" in the office of the law firm following the death of Atty. Crispin Baizas is not a valid justification for its failure to file the Brief. With Baizas' death, the responsibility of Atty. Alberto and his associates to the petitioner as counsel remained until withdrawal by the former of their appearance in the manner provided by the Rules of Court. This is so because it was the law firm which handled the case for petitioner before both the trial and appellate courts. That Atty. Espiritu, an associate who was designated to handle the case, later left the office after the death of Atty. Baizas is of no moment since others in the firm could have replaced him. Upon receipt of the notice to file Brief, the law firm should have re-assigned the case to another associate or, it could have withdrawn as counsel in the manner provided by the Rules of Court so that the petitioner could contract the services of a new lawyer. Compounding such negligence is the failure of the BAIZAS LAW OFFICE, which filed on 28 September 1974 the motion to reconsider the Resolution of 9 September 1974, to take any further appropriate action after the respondent Court denied said motion on 9 October 1974. The appearance of said counsel is presumed to be duly authorized by petitioner. The latter has neither assailed nor questioned such appearance. The rule is settled that negligence of counsel binds the client. Moreover, petitioner itself was guilty of negligence when it failed to make inquiries from counsel regarding its case. As pointed out by respondents, the president of petitioner corporation claims to be the intimate friend of Atty. Crispin Baizas; hence, the death of the latter must have been known to the former. This fact should have made petitioner more vigilant with respect to the case at bar. Petitioner failed to act with prudence and diligence; thus, its plea that they were not accorded the right to procedural due process cannot elicit either approval or sympathy. Based on the foregoing, it is clear that there was failure to show a good and sufficient cause which would justify the reinstatement of petitioner's appeal. Respondent Court of Appeals did not then commit any grave abuse of discretion when it denied petitioner's motion to reinstate its appeal. WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DISMISSED and the temporary restraining order issued in this case is lifted. ADELINO H. LEDESMA, petitioner, vs. HON. RAFAEL C. CLIMACO, Presiding Judge of the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, Branch I, Silay City, respondent. What is assailed in this certiorari proceeding is an order of respondent Judge denying a motion filed by petitioner to be allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio. One of the grounds for such a motion was his allegation that with his appointment as Election Registrar by the Commission on Elections, he was not in a position to devote full time to the defense of the two accused. The denial by respondent Judge of such a plea, notwithstanding the conformity of the defendants, was due "its principal effect [being] to delay this case." It was likewise noted that the prosecution had already rested and that petitioner was previously counsel de parte, his designation in the former category being precisely to protect him in his new position without prejudicing the accused. It cannot be plausibly asserted that such failure to allow withdrawal of de oficio counsel could ordinarily be characterized as a grave abuse of discretion correctible by certiorari. Petitioner, on October 13, 1964, was appointed Election Registrar for the Municipality of Cadiz, Province of Negros Occidental. Then and there, he commenced to discharge its duties. As he was counsel de parte for one of the accused in a case pending in the sala of respondent Judge, he filed a motion to withdraw as such. Not only did respondent Judge deny such motion, but he also appointed him counsel de oficio for the two defendants. Subsequently, on November 3, 1964, petitioner filed an urgent motion to be allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio, premised on the policy of the Commission on Elections to require full time service as well as on the volume or pressure of work of petitioner, which could prevent him from handling adequately the defense. Respondent Judge, in the challenged order of November 6, 1964, denied said motion. A motion for reconsideration having proved futile, he instituted this certiorari proceeding. What is readily apparent therefore, is that petitioner was less than duly mindful of his obligation as counsel de oficio. He ought to have known that membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. It could be that for some lawyers, especially the neophytes in the profession, being appointed counsel de oficio is an irksome chore. For those holding such belief, it may come as a surprise that counsel of repute and of eminence welcome such an opportunity. It makes even more manifest that law is indeed a profession dedicated to the ideal of service and not a mere trade. It is understandable then why a high degree of fidelity to duty is required of one so designated. The weakness of the petition is thus quite evident. If respondent Judge were required to answer the petition, it was only due to the apprehension that considering the frame of mind of a counsel loath and reluctant to fulfill his obligation, the welfare of the accused could be prejudiced. His right to counsel could in effect be rendered nugatory. Its importance was rightfully stressed by Chief Justice Moran in People v. Holgado in these words: "In criminal cases there can be no fair hearing unless the accused be given an opportunity to be heard by counsel. The right to be heard would be of little avail if it does not include the right to be heard by counsel. Even the most intelligent or educated man may have no skill in the science of law, particularly in the rules of procedure, and, without counsel, he may be convicted not because he is guilty but because he does not know how to establish his innocence. And this can happen more easily to persons who are ignorant or uneducated. It is for this reason that the right to be assisted by counsel is deemed so important that it has become a constitutional right and it is so implemented that under our rules of procedure it is not enough for the Court to apprise an accused of his right to have an attorney, it is not enough to ask him whether he desires the aid of an attorney, but it is essential that the court should assign one de oficio for him if he so desires and he is poor or grant him a reasonable time to procure an attorney of his own." So it was under the previous Organic Acts. The present Constitution is even more emphatic. For, in addition to reiterating that the accused "shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel," Thus is made manifest the indispensable role of a member of the Bar in the defense of an accused. Such a consideration could have sufficed for petitioner not being allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio. For he did betray by his moves his lack of enthusiasm for the task entrusted to him, to put matters mildly. He did point though to his responsibility as an election registrar. Assuming his good faith, no such excuse could be availed now. There is not likely at present, and in the immediate future, an exorbitant demand on his time. It may likewise be assumed, considering what has been set forth above, that petitioner would exert himself sufficiently to perform his task as defense counsel with competence, if not with zeal, if only to erase doubts as to his fitness to remain a member of the profession in good standing. The admonition is ever timely for those enrolled in the ranks of legal practitioners that there are times, and this is one of them, when duty to court and to client takes precedence over the promptings of self-interest. WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is dismissed. EDUARDO J. BERENGUER, complainant, vs. PEDRO CARRANZA, respondent. B. A complaint against respondent Pedro B. Carranza was filed on July 15, 1966, for deception practiced on the Court of First Instance of Sorsogon, in that aware of the falsity of an Affidavit of Adjudication and Transfer executed by the mother of his client to the effect that her own mother left no legitimate ascendants or descendants or any other heirs except herself, when, as a matter of fact, the deceased was survived by four other daughters and one son, father of the complainant, he introduced the same in evidence. Respondent Carranza was required in the resolution of July 22, 1966, to file an answer. Thereafter, on August 17, 1966, he did so, alleging as the truth of the matter that the aforesaid Affidavit of Adjudication and Transfer was introduced in evidence only to prove the fact of such transfer of the property in question to his client, respondent having "no hand in the making of said affidavit nor of the petition, both of which were prepared in Pasay City.” On September 1, 1966, the matter was referred by us to the Solicitor General for investigation, report and recommendation. Then Solicitor General, the Honorable Antonio Barredo, now a member of this Court, as set forth in his report of March 18, 1968, is whether respondent "consented in violation of his oath, to the doing of any falsehood in court." Nonetheless, while recognizing the absence of evidence that such falsehood in the Affidavit of Adjudication could be traced to respondent, the report would hold him liable for discretionary action as the circumstance that various estates are involved "certainly warranted a greater exercise of diligence on respondent's part." Respondent was charged with "violation of his oath of office, [having] caused confusion and prolongation of the cadastral suit for presenting evidence therein containing a false statement inconsistent with facts he definitely knows by reason of the family litigations between his client and complainant herein, which are rooted in successional rights [and that] respondent's failure to discharge his duties as a lawyer consistent with his oath of office finds sanction in Rule 138, Section 27, Revised Rules of Court. . . ." With the finding of the then Solicitor General Barredo that there was nothing willful in the conduct pursued by respondent in thus introducing in evidence the Affidavit of Adjudication and Transfer which turned out to be false, in the preparation of which, however, he had nothing to do, the charge of deliberate deception obviously cannot be sustained. Would that of itself entirely exculpate him from any responsibility? The answer must be in the negative. As was correctly pointed out in the complaint, his failure to exercise greater care did result in the "confusion and prolongation of the cadastral suit." Under the circumstances, it would be to err on the side of undue leniency if he would be held blameless. He had incurred liability. His fidelity to his oath as attorney was less than entire. Every member of the bar must be on his guard, lest through oversight or inadvertence, the way he conducts his case or the evidence he presents could conceivably result in a failure of justice. Time and time again, lawyers have been admonished to remember that they are officers of the court, and that while they owe their clients the duty of complete fidelity and the utmost diligence, they are likewise held to strict accountability insofar as candor and honesty towards the court is concerned. Even if there be no intent to deceive, therefore, a lawyer whose conduct, as in this case, betrays inattention or carelessness should not be allowed to free himself from a charge thereafter instituted against him by the mere plea that his conduct was not willful and that he has not consented to the doing of the falsity. A lawyer's oath is one impressed with the utmost seriousness; it must not be taken lightly. Every lawyer must do his best to live up to it. There would be a failure of justice if courts cannot rely on the submission as well as the representations made by lawyers, insofar as the presentation of evidence, whether oral or documentary, is concerned. If, as unfortunately happened in this case, even without any intent on the part of a member of the bar to mislead the court, such deplorable event did occur, he must not be allowed to escape the responsibility that justly attaches to a conduct far from impeccable. WHEREFORE, respondent Pedro B. Carranza is reprimanded and warned that a repetition of an offense of this character would be much more severely dealt with. EUSEBIA BARRAMEDA, plaintiff-appellant, vs. ENGRACIO CASTILLO, defendantappellee. Eusebia Barrameda sued Engracio Castillo in the municipal court of Lopez, Quezon Province in Civil Case No. 269. (The record does not show the nature of the suit). A copy of the court's decision, which was adverse to Barrameda, was sent by registered mail on January 28, 1966 to her lawyer at San Pablo City. That mail was received in the city post office on the following day, January 29. On that day and on February 3 and 9, 1966 the city postmaster's office supposedly sent to Barrameda's counsel three notices regarding the registered mail. Barrameda's lawyer did not claim that mail. It was returned to the municipal court and was received there on March 3, 1966 as unclaimed mail. Eusebia Barrameda must have been informed that the adverse decision could not be served upon her lawyer. On March 9, 1966 she received personally a copy of the decision. Through a lawyer, Barrameda filed a notice of appeal on March 11, 1966. Castillo did not interpose in the municipal court any objection to her appeal. The court gave it due course. On April 21, 1966 Castillo filed in the Court of First Instance a motion to dismiss the appeal on the ground that it was filed out of time. His theory was that the fifteen-day reglementary period within which Barrameda could appeal should be counted from the expiration of five days from the date of the first notice sent by the postmaster to Barrameda's lawyer. In this case, the supposed first notice was sent on January 29, 1966, when the mail in question was received in the San Pablo City post office (not January 28, 1966, as erroneously assumed by Castillo and the lower court). The five days counted from that date expired on February 3, 1966 when the second notice was allegedly sent to Barrameda's lawyer. Eusebia Barrameda opposed Castillo's motion to dismiss her appeal. She contended that Castillo failed to prove that her counsel actually received the supposed three notices sent by the postmaster. She argued that because in the municipal court Castillo did not object to her appeal, his motion could no longer be entertained in the Court of First Instance. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the appeal. It assumed that the fifteen-day period should be counted from February 7, 1966, the date of the third notice (the third notice was allegedly sent on February 9, 1966) and the period expired on February 21, 1966, according to the trial court's computation. Eusebia Barrameda appealed to this Court. She Specified that she was going to question the legality of the order of dismissal. In service by registered mail, the general rule is that service is complete upon actual receipt by the addressee. The exception is that when the addressee does not claim his mail within five days from the date of the first notice of the postmaster, then the service takes effect at the expiration of such time. If the addressee never gets the mail, service is also deemed complete on December 6, as provided in the exception to the general rule. If he receives his mail two months after it is registered and there is no proof of the first notice, then service is complete on the date of actual receipt, following the general rule. Bearing in mind that the exception in service by registered mail refers to constructive service, not to actual receipt of the mail, it is evident that the fair and just application of that exception depends upon conclusive proof that a first notice was sent by the postmaster to the addressee. The presumption that official duty has been regularly performed should not be applied to such a situation. Therefore, to obviate injustice, it is incumbent upon a party, who relies on constructive service or who contends that his adversary was served with a copy of a final order or judgment upon the expiration of five days from the first notice of registered mail sent by the postmaster to prove that the first notice was sent and delivered to the addressee. A certification from the postmaster would be the best evidence of that fact. As stressed by Justice Barredo in a recent case, "there must be clear proof of compliance with the postal regulations governing the sending and receipt of the notice referred to in" section 8 of Rule 13. In the instant case, there is no evidence that the first notice was sent to Barrameda's lawyer and that it was delivered to him or should have been received by him. The envelope containing the unclaimed mail was presented in court. The face of the envelope contains the notation "Returned to sender. Reason: Unclaimed". Relying on those notations on the envelope, the trial court literally and rigidly applied the presumption as to constructive service. It did not require appellee Castillo to present the postmaster's certification that a first notice was sent to Barrameda's lawyer and that the notice was received by the latter. Under those circumstances, the trial court's order dismissing Barrameda's appeal is fraught with injustice. LibLex WHEREFORE, the trial court's order of dismissal is reversed and set aside. It is directed to give due course to the appeal of Eusebia Barrameda. PRIMA MALIPOL, in her own behalf and as guardian ad litem of her minor children, LYDIA MALIJAN, JOSEFINA MALIJAN, TEODORA MALIJAN, and SEBASTIAN MALIJAN, plaintiffs-appellees, vs. LILY LIM TAN and ERNESTO LABSAN, defendantsappellants. In the evening of February 6, 1965, at about 8:35 o'clock, Pantaleon Malijan, who was walking with his companion Leonardo Amante on the shoulder of the road in Barrio San Felix, Sto. Tomas, Batangas, was hit by a gasoline tanker and was thrown to the ground. While he was sprawling on the ground Malijan was run over by the tanker's right wheel that got detached from its axle. Malijan's companion, with the aid of the barrio captain, brought Malijan to the San Pablo City Hospital where he died that same night, the cause of death being "possible traumatic cerebral hemorrhage due to vehicular accident." Representations and demands for payment of damages having been ignored by appellants, appellees filed on May 18, 1966 a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Batangas, praying that appellants be condemned to pay, jointly and severally, the damages as specified in said complaint. The appellees are the mother and the minor brothers and sisters of the deceased Pantaleon Malijan. Appellants were duly served with summons on May 19, 1966, but they failed to file their answer within the reglementary period. Upon appellees' motion of June 8, 1966, the trial court, in an order dated June 10, 1966, declared the appellants in default, and appellees were permitted to present their evidence in the absence of the appellants. On September 21, 1966 appellants filed a verified motion to lift the order of default and for a new trial. Appellants contends that: (a)The trial court erred in finding that appellants took the complaint for granted by reason of the fact that appellants referred to their lawyer the complaint for answer only after the lapse of eleven (11) days from receipt thereof; (b)The trial court erred in not holding that the mistake committed by the late Atty. Daniel Chavez in giving the wrong date of receipt by appellants of the summons and the complaint to Atty. Romulo R. de Castro on June 10, 1966 due to the abnormal mental condition of the late Atty. Daniel Chavez on June 10, 1966 which thereafter resulted in the commission of suicide by the latter on June 17, 1966, constitutes the mistake and accident in law which warrant the relief from default and the granting of the new trial; In support of their first assignment of error, counsel for appellants contends that the finding of the trial court, that the appellants took the complaint for granted when they referred the complaint to their lawyer only on the eleventh day after receipt thereof, was unwarranted, because appellants had 15 days from receipt of the summons and complaint to answer and their lawyer, the late Atty. Daniel Chavez, after the complaint was referred to him on the eleventh day, had still four days to file the answer, which he could very well do inasmuch as he was well acquainted with the facts because he was the lawyer of appellant Ernesto Labsan in Criminal Case No. 2200 of the Court of First Instance of Batangas for homicide thru reckless imprudence — which case arose from the very accident subject of appellees' complaint; that appellant Lily Lim Tan, furthermore, had instructed her employee, Eleuterio Dizon, to handcarry the summons and to deliver it to nobody except to Atty. Chavez; that Atty. Chavez, in a long distance telephone conversation with appellant Lily Lim Tan, assured the latter that he would attend to the complaint. Appellant Lily Lim Tan took for granted that the answer would be filed on time. Said appellant should have checked before the expiration of the period for filing the answer whether the complaint was really taken care of, or not. But this, appellant Lily Lim Tan failed to do, and this is another instance showing her lack of concern over the complaint. There was, therefore, no showing of due diligence on the part of appellants which would excuse their failure to file their answer on time. In support of the second assignment of error, appellants contend that the facts show that on June 10, 1966, Atty. Chavez, who was then acting strangely, endorsed the summons and complaint to Atty. Romulo R. de Castro; that upon inquiry by Atty. de Castro from Atty. Chavez the latter informed him that the summons was served on appellants on May 30, 1966; that appellant Lily Lim Tan, who was assured by Atty. Chavez in their long distance telephone conversation that the complaint would be attended to, could not, by the exercise of ordinary diligence, have foreseen, and avoided, the circumstance that at the time she referred the summons to Atty. Chavez, the latter was already in an abnormal condition which later resulted in his committing suicide on June 17, 1966; that it was Atty. Chavez's abnormal condition and his having given to Atty. de Castro the wrong date of the receipt of the summons by the appellees that caused the delay in the filing of the answer; that said circumstances constituted mistake and accident which entitled appellants to relief from default and a grant of new trial. Appellants' contention that the delay in filing the answer was due to mistake and accident is untenable. It is claimed by appellants that on June 10, 1966 Atty. Chavez endorsed the complaint to Atty. de Castro, and told the latter that the summons and complaint were received by the appellants on May 30, 1966. It is further claimed by appellants that this information given by Atty. Chavez — that the summons and complaint were received by the appellants on May 30, 1966 — was the mistake that caused the delay of the filing of the answer. But it should be noted that on June 10, 1966 when Atty. Chavez endorsed the complaint to Atty. de Castro and informed the latter that the summons and complaint were received by the appellants on May 30, 1966, the period within which the answer should be filed had already expired — the expiry date being June 3, 1966. There is no showing that between May 30, when Atty. Chavez received the summons and complaint from the employee of Lily Lim Tan, and June 3, 1973 Atty. Chavez was incapacitated to file the answer. And so it is clear that before the case was endorsed to Atty. de Castro, the appellants were already in default. The failure to file the answer on time may well be attributed to the mistake or negligence of Atty. Chavez. The appellants are bound by the mistakes, and may suffer by the negligence, of their lawyer. The fact that Atty. Chavez committed suicide on June 17, 1966 does not necessarily prove that he was abnormal, incompetent or insane on May 50, 1966. Although there is a judicial declaration that a sane man would not commit suicide, cognizance is nevertheless taken of the fact that circumstances at some given time may impel a person to commit suicide. 4 The probative value of suicide in determining the sanity of a person is dependent on the factual situation in each case. Such matters as the reasons for the act of selfdestruction, the circumstances indicating the person's state of mind at the time, and other pertinent facts must be considered. The appellants had not indicated to the trial court any circumstance from which the trial court could form an opinion of the mental condition of Atty. Chavez before he committed suicide. The trial court, therefore, did not err when it did not favorably consider the claim of the appellant that their failure to file their answer to the complaint was due to accident or mistake, as contemplated in Section 3 of Rule 18 of the Rules of Court. Hence the trial court correctly denied the motion to set aside order of default and for new trial. INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED LUIS C. DOMINGO, SR., CONSUELO DOMINGO DE LOPEZ, administratrix-petitioner, vs. PEDRO A. AQUINO, deceased, substituted by SALVACION YUSAY AQUlNO ETC., and the HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents. On August 7, 1961, the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan rendered judgment approving the money claim of respondent Pedro A. Aquino against the petitioner estate by ordering the then special administratrix, Asuncion Domingo Sta. Maria, "to pay from the available funds of the estate the sum of P20,000.00 with 12% interest per annum from June 10, 1954 to Pedro A. Aquino." Both parties appealed from the said judgment to the Court of Appeals, insofar as it was adverse to them, and on January 20, 1967, the appellate court found for respondent as appellant, and affirmed the lower court's judgment with modifications in favor of respondent. According to the present petition itself, the estate's counsel of record in the appellate court, Atty. Jose A. Unson, did not receive the notice and copy of the appellate court's judgment sent to him by registered mail; but the estate's attorneys in the intestate proceedings pending in the lower court, Attys. Primicias, Del Castillo and Macaraeg, were verbally informed by respondent's counsel of the judgment rendered on appeal by the appellate court. Pursuant to said information, petitioner caused to be filed on March 9, 1967, with the appellate court an "Appearance with Motions for Substitution and to be served with a copy of the Judgment," and that Mrs. Consuelo Domingo de Lopez was appointed judicial administratrix and has since been administering the estate alone; that Mrs. Lopez as judicial administratrix wished to file a motion for reconsideration of the appellate court's judgment and that the clerk of court be directed to serve copy of said judgment on her counsel instead of on Atty. Unson as the former special administrator's counsel "for purposes of starting of time to move for re hearing or reconsideration;" and praying that as present judicial administratrix, she be substituted in lieu of the former joint administrators and that her counsel be served with copy of the appellate court's decision. Upon due opposition of respondent on the ground of finality of the judgment, the appellate court denied the petitioner's motion for reconsideration per its resolution ofApril 27, 1967. No further move was made by petitioner thereafter until almost five months later when on September 23, 1967, after respondent had filed in the intestate court a motion for execution of the judgment, as affirmed in his favor by the appellate court, it filed the present petition. Upon the representations — contrary to the records — that the appellate court had granted "new or further relief" in favor of respondent by awarding compound interest on the sum due respondent and that Atty. Unson has ceased to be the estate's lawyer since May 21, 1963 with the removal of the former administrator, Luis Domingo, Jr. as such, the Court issued on October 3, 1967, the corresponding summons and required respondents to answer the petition. The court finds no merit in the petition. Notice and copy of the appellate court's decision of January 20, 1967, were therefore duly served by registered mail on the estate's counsel of record at his address of record at 307 Trinity Building, San Luis, Ermita, Manila, in accordance with Rule 13, section 8 of the Rules of Court. 3 And in accordance with said Rule, service by registered mail of the appellate court's decision upon the petitioner's counsel of record was deemed completed and effected upon the addressee's failure to claim his mail on the fifth day after the first notice of the postmaster. The present administratrix gives no satisfactory explanation as to her failure to substitute herself vice Luis Domingo, Jr., since the latter's removal on May 21, 1963, when she became the sole administrator (which she previously shared with Luis from December 21, 1961), or to then engage new counsel vice Atty. Unson in the appellate court. Her very motion for substitution filed on March 9, 1967 with the appellate court after its decision of January 20, 1967 recognized the fact that the appellate court had already duly handed down its adverse decision and merely expressed her wish to belatedly file a motion for reconsideration on behalf of the petitioner estate. One vital factor that the present administratrix, Mrs. Lopez, has obviously failed to appreciate, wittingly or otherwise, is that the party in the subject case was the intestate estate of the deceased Luis C. Domingo, Sr. and that Atty. Unson represented the estate as counsel in the said case. The fact that his services were engaged by Luis Domingo, Jr. in his (Luis') official capacity as administrator, did not make him the personal counsel of Luis. Thus, notwithstanding Luis' removal as administrator, Atty. Unson continued to represent the estate as counsel in the appellate court. He continued to be authorized to represent the estate as its counsel, until the new administrator should terminate his services, which she never did. It results clearly that the petition, alleging and praying that the appellate court's decision of January 20, 1967, be declared null and void for having been rendered and entered in excess of or without jurisdiction or that this Court send for the records from the appellate court "for purposes of review and thereafter render its own decision reversing the judgment [of the appellate court]" notwithstanding its long having become final and executory, is utterly untenable and without legal justification. Petitioner's counsel are reminded of this Court's admonition in Pajares vs. Abad Santos, 6 and other cases cited therein, to wit, that "the cooperation of litigants and their attorneys is needed so that needless clogging of the court dockets with unmeritorious cases may be avoided. There must be more faithful adherence to Rule 7, section 5 of the Rules of Court which provides that 'the signature of an attorney constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading and that to the best of his knowledge, information and belief, there is good ground to support it; and that it is not interposed for delay' and expressly admonishes that 'for a willful violation of this rule, an attorney may be subjected to disciplinary action.'" WHEREFORE, the petition is ordered dismissed and petitioner's counsel shall pay treble costs. MARIA CRISTINA MANALOTO, petitioner, vs. SIXTO L. REYES, respondent Sixto L. Reyes, a member of the Philippine Bar, was legal counsel for the Manaloto family in the following cases during the period from October 1960 to July 1961. On October 13, 1961, Maria Cristina Manaloto instituted disbarment proceedings against Sixto L. Reyes for abandonment of the above-mentioned cases and conversion of sums of money entrusted to him by the petitioner and her sister, Rosario. This case was referred to the Solicitor General for investigation. After hearing the parties, disciplinary action was recommended by him against respondent. Petitioner charges respondent of abandonment for failure to observe the provision of Section 24, Rule 127 of the Rules of Court, in that he retired from the aforesaid cases without the prior written consent of his client filed in court. This charge preferred by petitioner cannot prosper. First of all, respondent did not retire from the cases. Petitioner dismissed respondent and substituted him with Atty. Vicente Fernando. Secondly, the act of respondent in proposing to petitioner that Atty. Jacinto de los Reyes conduct the hearing of the cases scheduled for July 18, 1961, did not amount to abandonment by respondent of said cases. On the contrary, it tended to show his interest in said cases, otherwise, he would not have proposed that another lawyer attend to the hearing of the two cases in his absence. True, Atty. de los Reyes did not actually proceed to Victoria and Tarlac but it was because petitioner herself took steps to have the hearing postponed. Hence, there was actually no hearing to take care of. In Civil Case No. 43248, Republic Savings Bank v. Belina Rigor, et al., Belina Rigor's counsel was Atty. Manuel Domingo but when the former's property was about to be sold at public auction, her said counsel was in Tuguegarao, Cagayan. So, Belina Rigor sought the help of respondent for the purpose of stopping the sheriff from selling the property. In the morning of January 31, 1961 respondent asked and received from the Manaloto family the sum of P500.00 allegedly to be used in filing the proper action in court to stay the auction sale scheduled at ten o'clock in the same morning. Acting upon respondent's advice and assurance that the sale would be stopped, petitioner stayed at home on that day and did not anymore bother to check with the sheriff's office. Later, petitioner was informed that, the assurances of respondent notwithstanding, the auction sale went on as scheduled and her mother's property was sold to the highest bidder. Upon inquiry with the clerk of court she further learned that respondent filed no motion with, and paid no money to, the court in order to stop or postpone the auction sale. The sum of P500.00 was never returned to her. On another occasion, petitioner solicited respondent's help in applying for an industrial loan with the Development Bank of the Philippines. Later, she found out that respondent did not file the application for loan. Not only that, he did not pay to the bank the amount of P30.00 which she gave him for filing fee. Said amount was likewise never returned to her by respondent. Respondent denies having received both sum of P500.00 and P30.00. Against this denial is the positive testimony of petitioner and her sister, Rosario. Although petitioner could not present any receipt signed by respondent therefor — for there was none — we have found her oral evidence sufficiently convincing. And, considering that respondent never returned to her the amounts involved, the presumption is that he appropriated the same for his own use to the prejudice of, and in violation of the trust reposed in him by, his client. WHEREFORE, respondent Sixto L. Reyes is found guilty of malpractice and hereby suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year. DON LINO GUTIERREZ & SONS, INC., petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS and JESUS ALVENDIA, respondents. In 1963 a judgment based on a compromise was rendered by the City Court of Manila in a case instituted by Don Lino Gutierrez & Sons, Inc. against Jesus Alvendia. In 1968 the said corporation again sued Alvendia in the City Court of Manila for the revival of the judgment. The City Court rendered a judgment in favor of Don Lino Gutierrez & Sons, Inc. Alvendia appealed to the Court of First Instance of Manila, which, after a trial de novo (there being no stenographic notes of the hearing in the City Court), affirmed the judgment of the City Court with some modifications in its decision dated June 5, 1973. In all those proceedings, Alvendia's counsel of record was Escolastico Viola. The law firm of Baizas, Alberto & Associates, through Rodolfo A. Espiritu, collaborated with Attorney Viola. The copy of the decision was served on Viola and not on Baizas, Alberto & Associates. In a letter dated February 26, 1974 the Court of Appeals notified Viola that the docket fee of forty-eight pesos and the legal research fee of five pesos should be paid within fifteen days from notice and that forty copies of the printed record on appeal should be filed within sixty days, with the warning that failure to do so would constitute an abandonment of the appeal and cause the dismissal thereof. Viola received that notice on February 28, 1974. In view of Alvendia's failure to comply with that notice, the Court of Appeals in its resolution of May 3,1974 dismissed his appeal. A copy of that resolution was served upon Viola on May 8, 1974. Viola in his affidavit admitted that he received on February 28, 1974 the notice to pay the docket fee and to file forty copies of the record on appeal but he allegedly "did not give any importance to it" because he was then no longer Alvendia's counsel and his impression was that the Baizas law office was also given a copy of that notification. The Court of Appeals, in its resolution of July 15, 1974, granted the motion and reinstated Alvendia's appeal. At that time the docket fee had already been paid. Later, the printed record on appeal was filed. The motion of Don Lino Gutierrez & Sons, Inc. for the reconsideration of the resolution of July 15, 1974 was denied. On August 19, 1974 the said corporation filed in this Court a petition for certiorari and mandamus to set aside the resolution reinstating Alvendia's appeal and to compel the Court of Appeals to remand the record to the lower court for the execution of its final judgment. The Court of Appeals did not err in motu proprio dismissing Alvendia's appeal for failure to pay on time the docket fee and to submit forty copies of his printed record on appeal. Attorney Viola was negligent in not apprising Alvendia of the notice to pay the docket and legal research fees and to file forty copies of the printed record on appeal. Alvendia is bound by his lawyer's negligence. Viola was also negligent in not making a formal withdrawal as Alvendia's counsel and in not apprising the Court of Appeals that Baizas was supposedly appellant's new counsel. In the absence of a formal withdrawal, he continued to be Alvendia's counsel of record. His alibi that it was his honest impression that the Baizas' law office was also notified by the Court of Appeals to pay the docket and legal research fees is flimsy because he could have easily ascertained from the notice itself that Baizas' name did not appear therein. Under the environmental circumstances of this eleven-year-old litigation, it was a grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Court of Appeals to reinstate Alvendia's appeal and to relax the rule regarding dismissal of an appeal for appellant's failure to pay on time the docket and legal research fees and to file forty copies of his record on appeal within the sixty-day period. It is necessary to impress upon litigants and their lawyers the necessity of a strict compliance with the periods for performing certain acts incident to the appeal and that transgressions thereof, as a rule, would not be tolerated; otherwise, those periods could be evaded by subterfuges and manufactured excuses and would ultimately become inutile. It suffices to note that, according to section 45, generally, the decision of the Court of First Instance in cases falling under the exclusive original jurisdiction of municipal and city courts, which are appealed to it, "shall be final". WHEREFORE, the resolution of the Court of Appeals dated July 15, 1974, reinstating the appeal of respondent Jesus Alvendia, is set aside and its resolution of May 3, 1974, dismissing his appeal for failure to pay the docket and legal research fees within the reglementary period, is affirmed with costs against him. REGINO B. ARO, petitioner, vs. THE HON. ARSENIO NAÑAWA, Presiding Judge of Branch IV, Court of First Instance of Laguna, LUIS MAGTIBAY, PABLO MAGTIBAY, AURELIA MARTINEZ, GREGORIO LONTOK, MARIA MENDOZA, MAXIMO PORTO and ROSARIO ANDAYA, respondents. That the services of herein petitioner, as practicing attorney, was engaged by respondents Luis Magtibay and Pablo Magtibay for the prosecution of their claim, as heirs, in the estate of their deceased uncle Lucio Magtibay. Luis Magtibay and Pablo Magtibay agreed with herein petitioner to avail of his services and entrust the prosecution of their claim on a contingent basis. The petitioner took the necessary steps to gather the needed papers and documents for the filing of a petition to litigate as pauper and a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Laguna, in which respondents Luis Magtibay and Pablo Magtibay were the plaintiffs and the other respondents, excepting the respondent Judge, were the defendants. on October 24, 1964, there was a conversation which took place between herein petitioner and the attorney of the defendants, Atty. Rustico de los Reyes, Jr., in the civil case and one who was then acting as a sort of spokesman for the defendants (Ex-mayor Cordova of Sta. Maria, Laguna) for the amicable settlement of the case between the plaintiffs and the defendants to the effect that a certain property of the spouses Lucio Magtibay (deceased) and respondent Aurelia Martinez, worth P3,000.00, would be given to the plaintiffs in full settlement of their claim, as share in the properties left by their deceased uncle Lucio Magtibay, if having been agreed by herein petitioner and Atty. de los Reyes and the spokesman of the defendants that for the purpose of said amicable settlement, the plaintiffs or one of them and herein petitioner would go to Sta. Maria, Laguna, on October 23, 1964. On October 28, 1964, petitioner received on the said day a second motion to dismiss dated October 26, 1964, together with Annex 'A' of said motion, which is entitled KASULATAN NG PAGHAHATIAN NA LABAS SA HUKUMAN AT PAGPAPALABI, dated October 23, 1964 at Sta. Cruz, Laguna and signed by the plaintiffs and defendant Aurelia Martinez (the three being now respondents in this case), it having been made to appear that the plaintiffs and defendant Aurelia Martinez had made an extrajudicial partition of the properties of the deceased Lucio Magtibay and the said Aurelia Martinez adjudicating to the plaintiffs one-fourth (1/4) share in the properties of the spouses and three-fourth (3/4) share of the defendant Aurelia Martinez, but making it appear also that said plaintiffs waived their share in favor of Aurelia Martinez, . . ., thru which fraudulent waiver, herein petitioner was deprived of his contingent fees, agreed upon. Petitioner filed his opposition to the second motion to dismiss and prayed, among others, invoking the provisions of Section 5(d) and Section 6, Rule 135 of the Revised Rules of Court, for the protection of the rights of herein petitioner as an officer of the Court. The respondent Judge, instead of denying the second motion to dismiss and fixing his attorney's fees in the said case and recording the same as lien, .. dismissed the case and refused to give herein petitioner any kind of immediate protection to safeguard his rights. Upon these facts, petitioner tries to make out before this Court a case of certiorari for grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent Judge in dismissing the case on the basis of the compromise agreement of the parties, entered into at the back of petitioner, notwithstanding the reservation made in his favor to file an action against both parties "with respect to his alleged attorney's fees," as well as a case of mandamus "to order and command the said respondent judge" to take cognizance of and resolve his opposition and counter- motion for the court to fix the compensation he should be paid. RULING: While We here reaffirm the rule that "the client has an undoubted right to compromise a suit without the intervention of his lawyer," We hold that when such compromise is entered into in fraud of the lawyer, with intent to deprive him of the fees justly due him, the compromise must be subject to the said fees, and that when it is evident that the said fraud is committed in confabulation with the adverse party who had knowledge of the lawyer's contingent interest or such interest appears of record and who would benefit under such compromise, the better practice is to settle the matter of the attorney's fees in the same proceeding, after hearing all the affected parties and without prejudice to the finality of the compromise in so far as it does not adversely affect the rights of the lawyer. Under Canon 12 of the Canons of Professional Ethics, "in fixing fees, it should not be forgotten that the profession is a branch of the administration of justice and not a mere money-getting trade." In the case at bar, by entering into the compromise agreement in question and even inserting therein a prayer to the court to dismiss their case filed by petitioner, petitioner's clients impliedly dismissed him. In other words, through the services of petitioner, his clients secured, in effect, a recognition, which had been previously denied by their aunt-in-law, that they were entitled to a 1/4 share in the estate left by their uncle. We hold that under these circumstances, and since it appears that said clients have no other means to pay petitioner, since they instituted their case as paupers, and that their aunt-in-law was aware of the terms of their contract of professional services with petitioner, said clients had no right to waive the portion of their such acknowledged rights in favor of their opponent to the extent that such waiver would prejudice the stipulated contingent interest of their lawyer and their aunt-in- law had no right to accept such waiver unqualifiedly. Under the circumstance extant in the record, it is clear that the compromise agreement in question falls short of the moral requirements of this quoted article of the Civil Code. If for this reason alone, it should not be allowed to prejudice the rights of petitioner. Accordingly, as all of these circumstances were presented to respondent judge before he issued the challenged order of dismissal and all the parties were heard thereon, it was incumbent upon His Honor, in equity and to avoid multiplicity of suits, particularly, because the amount claimed by petitioner is only P1,000.00, to have directly passed upon petitioner's claim, and not having done so, it would appear that the court a quo abused its discretion gravely enough to warrant the writ of certiorari herein prayed for in so far as the questioned orders prejudiced petitioner's right to the fees for the professional services which appear to have been creditably rendered by him. Respondents allege that the judgment of dismissal in question is already final because no appeal was taken therefrom, but since We hold that the same was rendered with enough grave abuse of discretion to warrant the certiorari prayed for, such alleged finality could not have materialized; obviously, petitioner could not have appealed, not being a party in the case. The orders of the respondent court dated November 21, 1964 and January 9, 1965 in Civil Case No. SC-525 are hereby set aside in so far as they prejudice the payment of petitioner's claim of attorney's fees in the form of either one-third of the 1/4 share acknowledged as his clients in the compromise in question or P1,000.00, which should constitute as a lien on the said share, in spite of the waiver thereof in favor of respondent Aurelia Martinez. It is unnecessary to consider the petition for mandamus. 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. CELEDONIO QUILBAN, ROMUALDO DALAGAN, FORTUNATO RAMIREZ, AMADOR ALARCON and LUIS AGAWAN, complainant, vs. ATTY. SANTIAGO R. ROBINOL, respondent. The Colegio de San Jose, a Jesuit corporation, (Colegio, for short) used to own a parcel of land at the Seminary Road, Barrio Bathala, Quezon City. Through its administrator, Father Federico Escaler, it sold said land to the Quezon City Government as the site for the Quezon City General Hospital but reserved an area of 2,743 square meters as a possible development site. Squatters, however, settled in the area since 1965 or 1966. Sometime in 1970, the Colegio, through Father Escaler gave permission to Congressman Luis R. Taruc to build on the reserved site a house for his residence and a training center for the Christian Social Movement. Seeing the crowded shanties of squatters, Congressman Taruc broached to Father Escaler the idea of donating or selling the land cheap to the squatters. Congressman Taruc then advised the squatters to form an organization and choose a leader authorized to negotiate with Father Escaler. Following that advice, the squatters formed the a Samahang Pagkakaisa ng Barrio Bathala" (Samahan, for brevity), with Bernabe Martin as President, who was entrusted with the task of negotiating on their behalf for the sale of the land to them. But instead of working for the welfare of the Samahan, Martin went to one Maximo Rivera, a realtor, with whom he connived to obtain the sale to the exclusion of the other Samahan members. On 28 March 1971, the land was ultimately sold to Rivera at P15 per square meter or a total consideration of P41,961.65. The prevailing price of the land in the vicinity then was P100 to P120 per square meter. It was evident that Father Escaler had been made to believe that Rivera represented the squatters on the property. In 1972, thirty-two heads of families of the Samahan filed a case against Rivera with a prayer that said defendants be ordered to execute a deed of conveyance in favor of said plaintiffs after reimbursement by the latter of the corresponding amount paid by Rivera to the Colegio. To prosecute the appeal before the Court of Appeals, the Samahan members hired as their counsel Atty. Santiago R. Robinol for which the latter was paid P2,000.00 as attorney's fees on 8 October 1975. Atty. Robinol was also to be given by the members a part of the land, subject matter of the case, equal to the portion that would pertain to each of them. What was initially a verbal commitment on the land sharing was confirmed in writing on 10 March 1979. On 18 May 1979, the sum of P68,970.00 was turned over to Atty. Robinol by the officers; on 31 May 1979 the amounts of P1,030.00 and P2,500.00 respectively; and on 2 June 1979, the sum of P2,500.00, or a total of P75,000.00. After almost a year, the five officers discovered that no payment had been made to Rivera. When queried, Atty. Robinol replied that there was an intervention filed in the civil case and that a Writ of Execution had not yet been issued by the Court of First Instance of Quezon City. However, it turned out that the motion for intervention had already been dismissed. After confronting Atty. Robinol with that fact, the latter gave other excuses, which the officers discovered to have no basis at all. The officers of the Samahan thereafter approached Atty. Anacleto R. Montemayor, who agreed to be their counsel, after he was shown the document of 6 March 1980 containing the consensus of the Samahan members to change Atty. Robinol as their lawyer. Upon Atty. Montemayor's advice, the officers sent Atty. Robinol a letter dated 17 March 1980 informing the latter of their decision to terminate his services and demanding the return of the P75,000.00 deposited with him. Atty. Robinol turned deaf ears to the demand. A subsequent letter of the same tenor, dated 31 March 1980, was similarly disregarded by Atty. Robinol. On 15 April 1980 the Samahan officers filed this Administrative Complaint before this Court requesting the investigation of Atty. Robinol for refusal to return the P75,000.00 and praying that the Court exercise its power of discipline over members of the Bar unworthy to practice law. The details of their Complaint were embodied in their Joint Affidavit executed on 14 April 1980 describing what had transpired between them and Atty. Robinol. RULING: Atty. Robinol has, in fact, been guilty of ethical infractions and grave misconduct that make him unworthy to continue in the practice of the profession. After the Court of Appeals had rendered a Decision favorable to his clients and he had received the latter's funds, suddenly, he had a change of mind and decided to convert the payment of his fees from a portion of land equivalent to that of each of the plaintiffs to P50,000.00, which he alleges to be the monetary value of that area. Certainly, Atty. Robinol had no right to unilaterally appropriate his clients' money not only because he is bound by a written agreement but also because, under the circumstances, it was highly unjust for him to have done so. His clients were mere squatters who could barely eke out an existence. They had painstakingly raised their respective quotas of P2,500.00 per family with which to pay for the land only to be deprived of the same by one who, after having seen the color of money, heartlessly took advantage of them. Atty. Robinol has no basis to claim that since he was unjustly dismissed by his clients he had the legal right to retain the money in his possession. Firstly, there was justifiable ground for his discharge as counsel. His clients had lost confidence in him for he had obviously engaged in dilatory tactics to the detriment of their interests, which he was duty-bound to protect. Secondly, even if there were no valid ground, he is bereft of any legal right to retain his client's funds intended for a specific purpose — the purchase of land. He stands obliged to return the money immediately to their rightful owners. The principle of quantum meruit applies if a lawyer is employed without a price agreed upon for his services in which case he would be entitled to receive what he merits for his services, as much as he has earned. In this case, however, there was an express contract and a stipulated mode of compensation. The implied assumpsit on quantum meruit, therefore, is inapplicable. Inevitable, therefore, is the conclusion that Atty. Robinol has rendered himself unfit to continue in the practice of law. He has not only violated his oath not to delay any man for money and to conduct himself with all good fidelity to his clients. He has also brought the profession into disrepute with people who had reposed in it full faith and reliance for the fulfillment of a lifetime ambition to acquire a homelot they could call their own. ACCORDINGLY, In Administrative Case No. 2144, Atty. Santiago R. Robinol is hereby DISBARRED for having violated his lawyer's oath to delay no man for money, broken the fiduciary relation between lawyer and client, and proven himself unworthy to continue in the practice of law. By reason of his unethical actuations, he is hereby declared to have forfeited his rights to attorney's fees and is ordered to return the amount of P75,000.00 to the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. Q-16433 through the complainant in the aforementioned Administrative Case. TESTATE ESTATE OF AMADEO MATUTE OLAVE, Deceased, CARLOS V. MATUTE, general administrator-appellant, MATIAS S. MATUTE, co-administrative-appellant, PATERNO R. CANLAS, appellant, vs. JOSE S. MATUTE, ANUNCIACION CANDELARIO, ELENA MATUTE Y CANDELARIO and AMADEO MATUTE Y CANDELARIO, JR., appellees. The incident originated in a motion filed by respondents Jose S. Matute, Anunciacion Candelario, and Elena and Amadeo, both surnamed Matute y Candelario, praying that the former administrator, Matias S. Matute, be ordered to surrender 17 titles to various properties of the Estate to the assistant clerk of court, from whom said Matias had received them on 28 September 1966. The motion was vigorously resisted by the co-administrators Matias and Carlos Matute and several other heirs (through counsel Paterno Canlas), who pleaded that the removal of Matias as administrator and his replacement by Jose S. Matute were still under appeal; that the titles aforesaid had been delivered to both Matias and Carlos Matute; that the latter "is at present and from time to time in possession of the said seventeen (17) titles", and "the co-administrator Matias S. Matute is no longer in possession of said titles" (Record on Appeal, page 6); that Attorney Paterno Canlas had a pending claim for P261,000.00, on account of legal services rendered to the estate for the study, preparation, drafting, due execution and probate of the 1962 testament of the deceased; and invoked Rule 138, Section 37, of the Rules of Court. As aforesaid, the probate court granted the motion to surrender the documents to the clerk of court for safekeeping, "in order to prevent any possible controversy regarding any transaction involving the remaining properties of the estate". Reconsideration of the order was sought and denied 29 May 1967, the Court ordering Attorney Paterno S. Canlas to surrender said documents "immediately . . . upon receipt hereof." Wherefore, the oppositors duly perfected the present appeal, insisting that it was error for the court below to have granted the motion to surrender the titles in question in view of Rule 138, Section 37, of the Rules of Court, specifically prescribing that — "SEC. 37.Attorneys' liens. — An attorney shall have a lien upon the funds, documents and papers of his client which have lawfully come into his possession and may retain the same until his lawful fees and disbursements have been paid, and may apply such funds to the satisfaction thereof . . . " The explicit terms of this section afford no alternative but to uphold the claim of appellant Paterno Canlas with respect to the seventeen documents in his possession. His right, as counsel for the deceased and his estate, "to retain the same until his lawful fees and disbursements have been paid "is incontestable, and under the rule and section aforesaid, the attorney cannot be compelled to surrender the muniments of title mentioned without prior proof that his fees have been duly satisfied. The courts, in the exercise of their supervisory authority over attorneys as officers of the court, are bound to respect and protect the attorney's lien as a necessary means to preserve the decorum and respectability of the profession. In so far as the court below required surrender of the documents here in question without first providing for satisfaction of his fees or, at least, proper security for their payment, the appealed order is plainly in error. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the orders of the probate court dated 22 April 1967 and 29 May 1967, in so far as denying appellant Attorney Paterno Canlas' right to retain the seventeen (17) documents in his hands, as counsel for the estate, and requiring him to surrender the same without his claim for fees being first satisfied, are hereby reversed and set aside. ARMANDO V. AMPIL, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE JUDGE CORAZON JULIANO-AGRAVA, ANTONIO M. PEREZ and BENIGNO PEREZ Y TUASON, respondents. An original action of certiorari to annul the lower court's questioned order requiring petitioner to surrender three certificates of title, notwithstanding his assertion of his right of an attorney's retaining lien over them. Petitioner, for a considerable period of time, was the counsel for Angela Tuason de Perez in several cases which he handled successfully. Petitioner asserts and it is not disputed, that sometime in November, 1966, Angela, acting through a new attorney in-fact in the person of her daughter, Angela Perez y Tuason de Staley, terminated his services as counsel without just and lawful cause and without paying him for his professional services, for which he presented his bill in due course, as well as asserted his retaining lien over the three titles entrusted to him by Angela in the course of his professional employment in his letter of February 16, 1967 to respondents' counsel. After petitioner's discharge as counsel, developments ensued which gave rise to the present action. Thereafter, respondents Perezes, having failed to obtain from petitioner the three titles to the properties ceded to them as above stated in the compromise agreement, as petitioner asserted his retaining lien over them, filed on February 22, 1967 with respondent domestic court a so-called motion ,for partial execution disputing petitioner's asserted lien of retention and asking the court to order petitioner to surrender the three titles to them. Overruling petitioner's opposition asking the court to respect his right to retain the titles until the value of the professional services rendered by him to Angela shall have been paid in full by the latter, respondent court ordered under date of March 8, 1967 petitioner to surrender the titles to respondents Perezes within five days from notice, holding that "(A)s the Compromise Agreement has already been approved, it is believed that the Court can have it enforced and, in connection therewith, can compel Atty. Ampil to deliver the owners duplicates of T.C.T.'s Nos. 24927, 24928 and 34769 to the Perezes . . . Any attorney's lien in favor of Mr. Ampil, as attorney of Tuason should be enforced against his client. and not against the Perezes." The Court cited therein the late Justice Laurel's opinion in Rustia vs. Abeto, with regard to the inconvenience that may accrue to the client, and to the client's adversary for that matter as in the case at bar, because of the retaining lien thus exercised by an attorney, that such inconvenience "is the reason and essence of the lien." But as in Rustia, we pointed out that "if it be entirely indispensable for the court to gain possession of the documents that have come to the attorney and are held by him in the course of his employment as counsel, it can require the surrender thereof by requiring the client or claimant to first file proper and adequate security for the lawyers' compensation." 11 This alternative was in fact availed of by respondent Antonio M. Perez, who, upon motion filed on August 10, 1967 alleging that "the properties in question awarded to Antonio Perez have a market value of easily a quarter of a million pesos and the property awarded to Benigno Perez easily has an equal value," secured from the Court its resolution of October 13, 1967 lifting the preliminary injunction as to Titles Nos. 24927 and 24928 of Manila upon his filing and the approval of a bond in the sum of P25,000.00 answerable for whatever damages may be suffered by petitioner. Such charging lien covers only the services rendered by an attorney in the action in which the judgment was obtained and takes effect under the cited rule after the attorney shall have caused a statement of his claim of such lien to be entered upon the records of the particular action with written notice thereof to his client and to the adverse party. The fact that the client Angela, in the compromise agreement, undertook to transfer her properties covered by the titles in question to respondents Perezes would not defeat petitioner's retaining lien over the same. Petitioner's position is similar to that of a creditor who holds an attachment lien over the properties, and the client debtor must discharge the lien before he can dispose the properties to a third person free of such lien. In enforcing his retaining lien over the titles, petitioner was enforcing the same against Angela as his former client who was admittedly the owner of the properties and not against her adversaries to whom the client had undertaken to transfer the same under the compromise agreement, without first discharging the attorney's lien by payment of the fees due to petitioner. What obviously was lost sight of by respondent court in ruling that petitioner's lien "should be enforced against his client and not against the Perezes" was that petitioner obtained possession of the titles when ,they did appertain to his then client, Angela. As of that time, petitioner's retaining lien was fastened to the titles and respondent court was bound to respect and protect the same. There can be no question, then, that these properties were exclusively Angela's prior to November, 1966 and that respondents could lay no claim thereto by virtue of the transfers provided in the compromise agreement until after its confirmation by Angela and approval in November, 1966; and that respondents' contention that petitioner could not exercise his retaining lien over the titles which had properly come into his possession during his engagement as Angela's counsel long before November, 1966 is untenable. ACCORDINGLY, the writ of certiorari is granted and the order of respondent court of March 8, 1967 is hereby declared null and void and set aside. ALFREDO C. TAJAN, petitioner, vs. HON. VICENTE N. CUSI, JR., Judge, Court of First Instance of Davao, respondent. In this original action of prohibition petitioner Alfredo C. Tajan challenges the authority of respondent Judge of the Court of First Instance of Davao to hear Administrative Case No. 59 of said court involving a disciplinary action initiated against petitioner as a member of the Philippine Bar. In a letter dated December 5, 1967 addressed to petitioner Alfredo C. Tajan, he was required by respondent Judge to explain within 72 hours why he should not be removed or suspended from the practice of law for preparing, or causing to be prepared, a petition in court containing factual averments which petitioner knew were false. At the hearing on January 24, 1968, petitioner questioned, among others, the propriety of the proceedings, contending that since the case was one for disbarment, respondent Judge had no jurisdiction over the person of petitioner as well as the subject matter thereof. Petitioner orally moved that respondent Judge inhibit himself from hearing the administrative case in view of the latter's conflicting positions as prosecutor and judge at the same time. The oral motion was denied. Petitioner's thesis is that respondent Judge has no authority on his own motion to hear and determine proceedings for disbarment or suspension of attorneys because jurisdiction thereon is vested exclusively and originally in the Supreme Court and not in courts of first instance. Petitioner also contends that assuming arguendo that courts of first instance have such authority, the procedure outlined in Rule 139 of the Revised Rules of Court should govern the filing and investigation of the complaint. Petition is bereft of merit. When it appears by acts of misconduct that he has become unfit to continue with the trust reposed upon him, his right to continue in the enjoyment of that trust and for the enjoyment of the professional privilege accorded to him may and ought to be forfeited. The law accords to the Court of Appeals and the Court of First Instance the power to investigate and suspend members of the bar. Section 28, 29 and 30 of the Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court are applicable in the case at bar. Disciplinary proceedings involve no private interest and afford no redress for private grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted solely for the public welfare. They are undertaken for the purpose of preserving courts of justice from the official ministration of persons unfit to practice in them. The attorney is called to answer to the court for his conduct as an officer of the court. The complainant or the person who called the attention of the court to the attorney's alleged misconduct is in no sense a party, and has generally no interest in the outcome except as all good citizens may have in the proper administration of justice. The court may therefore act upon its own motion and thus be the initiator of the proceedings, because, obviously the court may investigate into the conduct of its own officers. Indeed it is not only the right but the duty of the Court to institute upon its own motion, proper proceedings for the suspension or the disbarment of an attorney, when from information submitted to it or of its own knowledge it appears that any attorney has so conducted himself in a case pending before said court as to show that he is wanting in the proper measure of respect for the court of which he is an officer, or is lacking in the good character essential to his continuance as an attorney. The investigation by the Solicitor General in Section 8 of Rule 139 refers to complaints referred to said office by this Court and not to investigations in suspension proceedings before the Court of Appeals or Courts of First Instance, because Sections 28 to 30 of Rule 138 authorize said courts and confer upon them the power to conduct the investigation themselves, subject to another and final investigation by the Supreme Court in the event of suspension of the lawyer. On the basis of the certified copy of the order of suspension and the statement of the facts upon which the same is based, required by Section 29 of Rule 138, the Supreme Court "shall make full investigation of the facts involved and make such order revoking or extending the suspension or removing the attorney from his office as such, as the facts warrant." WHEREFORE, the present petition is denied, and the writ of preliminary injunction previously issued by this Court is ordered dissolved, with costs against petitioner. LIGAYA GONZALES-AUSTRIA, LEONILA FUERTES and EDGARDO SERVANDO, complainants, vs. JUDGE EMMANUEL M. ABAYA, RTC, Br. 51, Puerto Princesa City and ANNABELLE CARDENAS, respondents. In a complaint under oath dated July 21, 1986, Atty. Ligaya Gonzales-Austria, then Branch Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 52, Puerto Princesa City, Mrs. Leonila Fuertes and Mr. Edgardo Servando charged Judge Emmanuel M. Abaya, then Presiding Judge of RTC, Branch 51, Puerto Princesa City with: 1. Estafa through falsification of public or official documents, by verifying official hours rendered by one employee in the person of Miss Anabelle Cardenas who never reported for duty from August 1983 to May 1984 by encashing and receiving salaries of said Miss Cardenas through forgery of payee's signature in the treasury warrants, thus deceiving the government and defrauding the Government treasury of a big amount of money; 2.Gross dishonesty and corruption by soliciting, demanding, receiving bribed money in exchange for favorable resolutions and decisions from different litigants in Branch 52, where said Judge was temporarily assigned from November 1984 to April 1986 and of which one of the undersigned complainant, LIGAYA GONZALES-AUSTRIA is the Branch Clerk of Court; 3.Illegal exaction of portion of the salaries of his subordinate Edgardo Servando as part and condition of his continued employment in Branch 51, where Judge Abaya is the presiding judge. The court found the charges against Judge Abaya and Annabelle Cardenas to be supported by substantial evidence. Especially damaging to the pretensions of the respondents that Annabelle Cardenas rendered service as stenographic reporter during the period under consideration are the school records of the Holy Trinity College, showing that Annabelle Cardenas was attending school in the first semester of school year 1983-1984 from 2:00 P.M. to 8:15 P.M. It is indeed quite intriguing that during the ten-month period under consideration, the court calendar for Branch 51 never once carried Annabelle Cardenas' name to signify her attendance at a court session. Moreover, she could not produce any single order, transcript or official stenographic notes that had been taken by her in any case, civil or criminal. All she presented were so-called practice notes. As for the charge against the respondent judge for bribery, the court quote with approval Justice Herrera's perceptive reasons for giving full faith and credence to Mrs. Fuertes' testimony: "We find no improper motive as to why Mrs. Fuertes, a school teacher, would impute such a serious offense against a judge unless it be the truth. Mrs. Fuertes is not a disgruntled litigant. Judge Abaya having denied the petition for bail of the suspected killer of Mrs. Fuertes' son, she should, under normal circumstances be grateful to the Judge. Yet she charged him with a serious offense, and travelled all the way from Palawan to Manila to testify against the Judge. Under the circumstances, We cannot accept Judge Abaya's contention that Mrs. Fuertes perjured herself just to accommodate the vengeance-ful ire of Atty. Austria against Judge Abaya. That would be contrary to the ordinary promptings of men. "Upon the other hand, the testimony of Mrs. Fuertes is too rich in details brought out on cross-examination which cannot simply be swept aside as mere fabrications. They find support in collateral but highly significant circumstances pointed to by Mrs. Teologo, such as (1) the visible presence of Mrs. Fuertes in the courtroom in conference with Judge Abaya at 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon of August 15, (should be 13) 1985; and (2) the highly credible testimony of Judge Miclat on the report made to him by Mrs. Fuertes, as then acting City Fiscal, on the solicitation of Judge Abaya. It certainly cannot be said that Mrs. Fuertes merely concocted her story at the time regarding the solicitation of Judge Abaya in connection with the pending case of the suspected killers of her son. There was absolutely no motive for her to do so." Charge of Illegal Exaction against Judge Abaya. While the investigating officer, Justice Herrera observed that both Servando and Jamora "testified in a natural and straightforward, albeit in an angry manner without attempting to conceal their contempt for Judge Abaya," he concluded that "the evidence in this regard would be unable to withstand judicial scrutiny for want of ample corroboration. It would simply be the word of one against a judge." We are in accord with this observation, for indeed, the charge if true is so demeaning to an RTC judge that it requires more than a bare allegation to sustain it. In this regard, we give respondent Judge the benefit of the doubt. In summation, we find Judge Emmanuel M. Abaya guilty of grave and serious misconduct affecting his integrity and moral character which would have warranted his dismissal from the service had his resignation not been accepted. The office of a judge exists for one solemn end — to promote justice by administering it fairly and impartially. In regarding justice as a commodity to be sold at a price, Judge Abaya betrayed the very essence of magistracy. In complicity with Annabelle Cardenas, he likewise abused the trust and confidence of the people, shortchanging them of services undoubtedly vital to the speedy administration of justice. By these acts, Judge Abaya has demonstrated his unfitness and unworthiness of the honor and perquisites attached to his office. As he had previously resigned, we hereby order the forfeiture of his retirement benefits, except earned leave credits, as recommended by the investigating officer Justice Herrera. Generally speaking, a lawyer who holds a government office may not be disciplined as a member of the bar for misconduct in the discharge of his duties as a government official. However, if that misconduct as a government official is of such a character as to affect his qualification as a lawyer or to show moral delinquency, then he may be disciplined as a member of the bar on such ground. In Adm. Matter No. R-705-RTJ, the FORFEITURE of the retirement benefits of Judge Emmanuel M. Abaya, except his earned leave credits; and the DISMISSAL from office of Annabelle Cardenas as Stenographic Reporter with prejudice to her reappointment to the Judiciary. JOEY CUARESMA AND ABRAHAM RESTITUTO AGUILAR, respondent. CUARESMA, complainants, vs. JUDGE The facts show that in an Information dated November 15, 1991, the Provincial Prosecutor of Occidental Mindoro, Gorgonio D. Olarte, charged Florencio Banite with the murder of Daniel Acosta, a relative of herein complainants. The accused Banite was arraigned on January 3, 1992 where he pleaded not guilty. His case was set for pre-trial and trial on February 24, 25 and 26, 1992. It appears, however, that on January 28, 1992, Prosecutor Olarte amended the Information against Banite to Homicide and recommended a bail of P20,000.00, without leave of court. Judge Tarriela ordered Prosecutor Olarte to explain his action considering that the accused Acosta had already been arraigned. The case against accused Banite was filed in Branch 44, presided by the Judge Tarriela. Respondent judge who presides in Branch 45, had no power to act on the request to release on bail accused Banite. The record does not show that at the time respondent judge ordered Banite's release, Judge Tarriela was absent or unavailable and could not have acted on the request. It was also irregular for respondent judge to entertain the request considering that it did not appear that a formal motion had been filed by the accused to that effect. Indeed, respondent judge did not even examine the records of the case as he merely signed the Orders allegedly prepared by Prosecutor Olarte. His indifference to duty prevented him from discovering that at the time he ordered the release of accused Banite, the Information charging the latter with Murder with no recommendation for bail had not been properly amended. This Court has not been wanting in its warnings that judges should endeavor to maintain at all times the confidence and high respect accorded to those who wield the gavel of justice. Circular No. 13, dated July 1, 1987, enjoins judges "to conduct themselves strictly in accordance with the mandate of existing laws and the Code of Judicial Conduct that they be exemplars in their communities and the living personification of justice and the Rule of Law." Respondent judge's action shows such lack of familiarity with our laws, rules and regulations as to undermine the public confidence in the integrity of our courts. PREMISES CONSIDERED, respondent Judge Restituto Aguilar, Executive Judge and Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 45, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, is hereby ordered to pay a fine of two thousand pesos (P2,000.00). Further, he is admonished to exercise greater care and prudence in the performance of his official duties for repetition of the same or similar act or omission in the future shall be dealt with more severely by this Court. ROSA YAP PARAS, complainant, vs. ATTY. JUSTO DE JESUS PARAS, respondent On May 21, 1964, petitioner Rosa Yap married respondent Justo J. Paras in Bindoy,Negros Oriental. They begot four (4) children, namely: Raoul (deceased), Cindy Rose(deceased), Dahlia, and Reuel. Twenty-nine (29) years thereafter, or on May 27, 1993,Rosafiled with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 31, Dumaguete City, a complaint for annulment of her marriage with Justo, under Article 36 of the Family Code, docketed as Civil Case No. 10613. She alleged that Justo is psychologically incapacitated to exercise the essential obligations of marriage as shown by the following circumstances: (a) he dissipated her business assets and forged her signature in one mortgage transaction; (b) he lived with a concubine and sired a child with her; (c) he did not give financial support to his children; and (d)he has been remiss in his duties both as a husband and as a father. She met Justo in 1961in Bindoy. She was then a student of San Carlos University, Cebu City. He courted her, frequently spending time at her "Botica." Eventually, in1964 convinced that he lovedher, she agreed to marry him. Their wedding was considered one of the "most celebrated "marriages in Bindoy. Sometime in 1975, their daughter Cindy Rose was afflicted with leukemia. It was her family who paid for her medication. Also, in 1984, their son Raoul was electrocuted while Justo was in their rest house with his "barkadas." He did not heed her earlier advice tobring Raoul in the rest house as the latter has the habit of climbing the rooftop. To cope with the death of the children, the entire family went to the United States. However, after three months, Justo abandoned them and left for the Philippines. Upon her return to the Philippines, she was shocked to find her "Botica" and other businesses heavy in debt and he disposed without her consent a conjugal piece of land. At other times, he permitted the municipal government to take gasoline from their gas station free of charge. His act of maintaining a mistress and siring an illegitimate child was the last straw that prompted her to file the present case. She found that after leaving their conjugal house in 1988, Justo lived with Jocelyn Ching. Their cohabitation resulted in the birth of a baby girl, Cyndee Rose, obviously named after her (Rosa) and Justo‘s deceased daughter Cindy Rose Paras. He also denied forging her signature in one mortgage transaction. He maintained that the did not dispose of a conjugal property and that he and Rosa personally signed the renewal ofa sugar crop loan before the bank’s authorized employee. He did not abandon his family in the United States. For his part, he was granted only three (3) months leave as municipal mayor of Bindoy, thus, he immediately returned to the Philippines. He spent for his children’s education. At first, he resented supporting them because he was just starting his law practice and besides, their conjugal assets were more than enough to provide for their needs. He admitted though that there were times he failed to give them financial support because of his lack of income. What caused the inevitable family break-out was Rosa’s act of embarrassing him during his birthday celebration in 1987. She did not prepare food for the guests. When confronted, she retorted that she has nothing to do with his birthday. This convinced him of her lack of concern. This was further aggravated when she denied his request for engine oil when his vehicle broke down in a mountainous and NPAinfested area. As to the charge of concubine, he alleged that Jocelyn Ching is not his mistress, but her secretary in his Law Office. She was impregnated by her boyfriend, a certain Grelle Leccioness. Cyndee Rose Ching Leccioness is not his daughter. After trial or on February 28, 1995, the RTC rendered a Decision upholding the validity of the marriage. It found that: (a) Justo did not abandon the conjugal home as he was forced to leave after Rosa posted guards at the gates of their house; (b) the conjugal assets were sufficient to support the family needs, thus, there was no need for Justo to shell out his limited salary; and (c) the charge of infidelity is unsubstantiated. The RTC observed that the relationship between the parties started well, negating the existence of psychological incapacity on either party at the time of the celebration of their marriage. And lastly, it ruled that there appeared to be a collusion between them as both sought the declaration of nullity of their marriage.On October 18, 2000, this Court rendered its Decision finding him guilty of falsifying Rosa’s signature in bank documents, immorality, and abandonment of his family. He was suspended from the practice of law, thus: the respondent is suspended from the practice of law for SIX (6) MONTHS on the charge of falsifying his wife’s signature in bank documents and other related loan instruments; and for ONE (1) YEAR from the practice of law on the charges of immorality and abandonment of his own family, the penalties to be served simultaneously. Let notice of this Decision be spread in respondent’s record as an attorney, and notice of the same served on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and on the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all the courts concerned. On December 8, 2000, the Court of Appeals affirmed the RTC Decision in the present case, holding that "the evidence of the plaintiff (Rosa) falls short of the standards required by law to decree a nullity of marriage." It ruled that Justo’s alleged defects or idiosyncrasies "were sufficiently explained by the evidence," Rosa contends that this Court’s factual findings in A.C. No. 5333 for disbarment are conclusive on the present case. Consequently, the Court of Appeals erred in rendering contrary factual findings. Also, shear gues that she filed the instant complaint sometime in May, 1993 Issues: 1) Whether the factual findings of this Court in A.C. No. 5333 are conclusive on the present case; 2) Whether a remand of this case to the RTC for reception of expert testimony on the root cause of Justo’s alleged psychological incapacity is necessary; and3) Whether the totality of evidence in the case shows psychological incapacity on the part of Justo Held: 1) A reading of the Court of Appeals’ Decision shows that she has no reason to feel aggrieved. In fact, the appellate court even assumed that her charges "are true," but concluded that they are insufficient to declare the marriage void on the ground of psychological incapacity. Justo's alleged infidelity, failure to support his family and alleged abandonment of their family home are true, such traits are at best indicators that he is unfit to become an ideal husband and father. However, by themselves, these grounds are insufficient to declare the marriage void due to an incurable psychological incapacity. These grounds, we must emphasize, do not manifest that was truly in cognitive of the basic marital covenants that he must assume and discharge as a married person. While they may manifest the "gravity" of his alleged psychological incapacity,they do not necessarily show ‘incurability’, such that while his acts violated the covenants of marriage, they do not necessarily show that such acts show an irreparably hopeless state of psychological incapacity which prevents him from undertaking the basic obligations of marriage in the future. 2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or clinically identified,(b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts, and (d) clearly explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be psychological --not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical. ON THE CHARGE OF IMMORALITY AND CONCUBINAGE The evidence against respondent is overwhelming. The affidavit statements of his children and three other persons who used to work with him and have witnessed the acts indicative of his infidelity more than satisfy this Court that respondent has strayed from the marital path. The baptismal certificate of Cyndee Rose Paras where respondent was named as the father of the child (Annex "J", Rollo, p. 108); his naming the child after his deceased first-born daughter Cyndee Rose; and his allowing Jocelyn Ching and the child to live in their house in Dumaguete City bolster the allegation that respondent is carrying on an illicit affair with Ms. Ching, the mother of his illegitimate child. It is a time-honored rule that good moral character is not only a condition precedent to admission to the practice of law. Its continued possession is also essential for remaining in the practice of law (People vs. Tunda, 181 SCRA 692 ; Leda vs. Tabang, 206 SCRA 395 ). In the case at hand, respondent has fallen below the moral bar when he forged his wife's signature in the bank loan documents, and, sired a daughter with a woman other than his wife. However, the power to disbar must be exercised with great caution, and only in a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the Court and as a member of the bar (Tapucar vs. Tapucar, Adm. Case No. 4148, July 30, 1998). Disbarment should never be decreed where any lesser penalty, such as temporary suspension, could accomplish the end desired. In the light of the foregoing, respondent is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for SIX (6) MONTHS on the charge of falsifying his wife's signature in bank documents and other related loan instruments; and for ONE (1) YEAR from the practice of law on the charges of immorality and abandonment of his own family, the penalties to be served simultaneously. HECTOR FULE, ET AL. petitioners, vs. SOLON F. CORDERO, respondent. Respondent, Solon F. Cordero, a member of the Philippine Bar and Auxiliary Justice of the Peace of San Pablo City stands charged — by his first cousins, namely, Attorneys Hector C. Fule and Conrado C. Fule (brothers), the latter being the Justice of the Peace of Alaminos, Laguna — with violation of his attorney's oath, allegedly by blackmailing the Fule brothers. The alleged blackmail consists in respondent's threat to file criminal and administrative charges against Conrado C. Fule for alleged falsification of public documents. Whereupon, respondent made good his threat and filed five (5) separate administrative charges with the Department of Justice and a criminal complaint on five (5) counts with the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Laguna, against Conrado C. Fule, i.e., Estafa Through Falsification of Public Documents, allegedly for having falsified daily time records or Municipal Form No. 45 (A), a form prescribed by the General Auditing Office for certification of services rendered by members of the judiciary, for the purpose of entitling them to the salaries claimed for a particular period of time. A series of charges and countercharges were thereafter filed by respondent against petitioners and vice-versa, ranging from criminal cases to administrative charges, coupled with an exchange of unsavory vilifications. In due time, the criminal complaint filed against Conrado C. Fule by Solon F. Cordero was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence by the Investigating Fiscal, after preliminary investigation, in a resolution dated October 11, 1960, which is now under appeal to the Secretary of Justice. The administrative charges resulted in admonition to Municipal Judge Conrado C. Fule. The Solicitor General recommends that, in view of the death of respondent, Solon F. Cordero, on January 9, 1977 (as reported by Cordero's counsel) the instant petition should be dismissed as moot and academic. WHEREFORE, let this administrative case be, as it is hereby, DISMISSED. PRUDENTIAL BANK, petitioner, vs. BENJAMIN M. GRECIA, respondent. In a Decision, dated 12 November 1987, this Court, upon finding that respondent Benjamin Grecia had "proven himself unfit to continue in the pursuit of his profession," ordered his disbarment. Respondent Grecia thereafter sought a reconsideration of the said Resolution on 14 December 1987. This was denied in the Resolution of 12 January 1988 for lack of merit, the issues raised having previously been duly considered and passed upon. Seven months later, or on 29 December 1988, respondent, through counsel, filed a "Petition for Reinstatement as a Member of the Bar," this time praying for "justice, leniency, understanding and mercy from the Members of this Honorable Court," citing several cases of lawyers previously disbarred but who were eventually reinstated. Respondent averred that he comes to court "on bended knees asking for the same kindness, understanding, liberality and leniency." On 24 November 1989, respondent filed a "Motion for Permission to Reiterate his Petition for Reinstatement" stating that he humbly begs permission to plead again for its forgiveness and clemency; that he has suffered the harsh and supreme sanction of disbarment for two long years now; that this is his first offense; that he solemnly declares that he has fully realized his mistake and the gravity of his offense for which he is fully repentant and learned the most bitter lesson of his life to such an extent that he solemnly vows never to commit any offense again; that his sufferance of the extreme sanction of disbarment has changed him for the better; that he had fully purged himself in the proper and irreproachable manner and that he prays that he be forgiven and pardoned by this Court. The Motion was denied with finality in the Resolution of 21 December 1989. On 21 May 1990, Mrs. Maria Luisa B. Grecia, wife of respondent wrote a letter addressed to the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of this Court stating that she has long wanted to write and if it need be, on bended knees, to ask the Court sincerely to forgive her husband and permit him to practice his profession; that it is not only he who is suffering the anguish and shame caused by his disbarment but also his children and herself; that it is now two and a half (2 1/2) years since her husband has been disbarred and completely without any means to support his family; that their youngest daughter may altogether have to stop studying; that during these years, her husband has deeply repented and is now very humble and prayerful and has reformed for the better and that she pleads that her husband be forgiven and reinstated as a lawyer. The testimonials submitted in respondent's favor are from well-respected and prominent members of the legal community namely: Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Querube Makalintal, Senate President Jovito R. Salonga, Former Senator Ambrosio Padilla, former Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals, Lourdes Paredes San Diego, former Supreme Court Justice Ruperto Martin, Senator Neptali Gonzales, Attys. Dakila F. Castro, Camilo Quiason, Gregorio Purugganan, Teofilo F. Manalo (Past Governor, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, 1975-1977), Manuel T. Molina and Diosdado P. Peralta, President of the Capitol Bar Association. All their testimonials attest to respondent's good moral character and to the fact that he has mended his ways towards the rehabilitation of his character such that his reinstatement "will not only be an act of compassion but also of justice" Cognizant, therefore, "that the power to discipline, especially if amounting to disbarment, should be exercised on the preservative and not on the vindictive principle," (In re Juan T. Publico, supra), we heed respondent's plea for reinstatement. His expiation subsequent to his disbarment; his realization of his mistake and the gravity of his offense; the testimonials from exemplary members of the Bar as to his fitness to resume the practice of law; and his solemn pledge to the Court, that if his disbarment is lifted, he will always closely and faithfully abide by the ideals, canons and ethics of the legal profession, call for this affirmative response. prcd ACCORDINGLY, respondent Benjamin M. Grecia is hereby ordered READMITTED to membership in the Bar.