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Pililla vs CA liens for alleged consultancy services and attorneys fees

G.R. No 105909/ June 28 1994 / Regalado,J./LOCGOV-The Municipality/JMQAquino amounting to more than P12M.
o RTC denied MR.
NATURE Petition for review on certiorari of CA judgment Atty. Mendiola, on behalf of Pililla, filed a petition for certiorari with
PETITIONERS Municipality of Pillila, Rizal the SC, which petition was referred to the CA.
RESPONDENTS RTC Judge Marave, Phillippine Petroleum o PPC filed a motion questioning his authority to represent
Corporation (PPC) the municipality.
o CA dismissed the petition for having been filed by a
SUMMARY. Private Counsel Atty Mendiola filed cases/MRs/motions on private counsel in violation of law and
behalf of the municipality re: the execution of judgment of payment of jurisprudence, without prejudice to the filing of a
taxes by PPC. His authority to do was challenged by PPC before the CA. CA similar petition by Pililla through the proper
dismissed the case filed by the atty since he wasnt authorized to act on provincial or municipal legal officer. CA also
the muns behalf. The SC agreed with the CA in saying that the one dismissed subsequent MR.
authorized to so is the provincial fiscal. An exception to the rule is when Hence, this petition
the provincial fiscals disqualified. However, theres no showing of such
disqualification in this case. It also said that his authority may be
challenged at any stage of the proceedings.
1. WoN CA erred in ruling that Atty Mendiola had no authority to file a
petition in behalf of and in the name of Pililla- NO

FACTS. Atty. Mendiola has no authority to file a petition in behalf of

In a previous case, the RTC ordered Philippine Petroleum and in the name of MP.
Corporation to pay plaintiff Municipality of Pililla a sum of money As held in Ramos v CA and Province of Cebu vs IAC: Private attorneys
representing business tax and several fees due thereto 1. cannot represent a province or municipality in lawsuits.
SC affirmed the judgment with modifications 2. The judgment then
became final and executory, and the records were remanded to the Also, When the provincial fiscal is disqualified to serve any
RTC for execution. municipality or other political subdivision of a province, a special attorney
Atty. Mendiola filed a motion on behalf of Pililla for examination of may be employed by its council.
PPCs gross sales for 1976-1978, and 1984-1991 in order to
determine the business tax. Under Sec. 16833 of the Revised Administrative Code,
o PPC later filed a manifestation to the effect that Pililla complemented by Sec. 34 of RA2264 or the Local Autonomy Law, only the
Mayor Patenia received P11.457M from PPC as full provincial fiscal and municipal attorney can represent a province or
satisfaction of the judgment as evidenced by trelease and municipality in their lawsuits. This provision is mandatory. According to
quitclaim documents. jurisprudence, the municipalitys authority to employ a private lawyer is
o Thus, RTC denied Pilillas motion on account of the expressly limited to situations where the provincial fiscals disqualified to
satisfaction of the judgment. represent it.
Atty Mendiola filed an MR, claiming that (1) PPCs liability
amounted to P24M while the amount involved in the release and
quitclaim was only P12M; and (2) that Mayor Patenia could not 3 Section 1683. Duty of fiscal to represent provinces and provincial
waive the balance representing taxes due the municipality and subdivisions in litigation.The provincial fiscal shall represent the province
over which judgment the Atty. Mendiolas firm had registered two and any municipality or municipal district thereof in any court, except in
cases whereof original jurisdiction is vested in the Supreme Court or in
1 (1) P5.3M as tax on business for 1979 1983 (Sec. 9(A) Mun. Ordinance cases where the municipality or municipal district in question is a party
No. 1 (MO#1)); (2) P3.3M as storage permit fee for 1975 1986 (Sec. 10 adverse to the provincial government or to some other municipality or
par (z)(3) MO#1); (3) P12.1k as mayors permit fee for 1975 1984 (Sec. municipal district in the same province. When the interests of a provincial
10 par (p)(2) MO#1); (4) P1k as sanitary inspection fee for 1975 1984 ; government and of any political division thereof are opposed, the provincial
and (5) costs of the suit fiscal shall act on behalf of the province
2 That (1) tax on business accruing prior to 1976 are not to be paid by 4 the municipal attorney, as the head of the legal division or office of a
PPC; (2) storage fees are not to be paid (since PPC owns such tanks and municipality, shall act as legal counsel of the municipality and perform
not the municipality hence latter cannot use same as basis of a charge of such duties and exercise such powers as may be assigned to him by the
service by it). council.
For the aforementioned exception to apply, the fact that without said counsels participation, entered into a compromise
the provincial fiscal was disqualified to handle the municipalitys agreement with herein private respondent with regard to the
case must appear on record. In the instant execution of the judgment in its favor and thereafter filed
case, there is nothing in the records to show that the provincial pleadings entitled Satisfaction of Judgment and Release and
fiscal is disqualified to act as counsel for the Municipality of Pililla Quitclaim.
on appeal.
A client, by appearing personally and presenting a motion
Atty. Mendiola: the exception is broad enough to include situations by himself is considered to have impliedly dismissed his lawyer. A
wherein the provincial fiscal refuses to handle the case. client may dismiss his lawyer at any time or at any stage of the
proceeding (Rule 26, RoC Rule 138), and theres nothing to prevent
SC: . The fiscals refusal to represent the municipality is not a legal litigant from conducting his own litigation.
justification for employing the services of private counsel. Unlike a
practising lawyer who has the right to decline employment, a fiscal cannot The client has also an undoubted right to compromise a
refuse to perform his functions on grounds not provided for by law without suit without the intervention of his lawyer. Even the lawyers right
violating his oath of office. Instead of engaging the services of a specia to fees from their clients may not be invoked by the lawyers
attorney, the municipal council should request the Secretary of Justice to themselves as a ground for disapproving or holding in abeyance
appoint an acting provincial fiscal in place of the provincial fiscal who has the approval of a compromise agreement. The lawyers concerned
declined to handle and prosecute its case in court, pursuant to Section can enforce their rights in the proper court in an appropriate
1679 of the Revised Administrative Code. proceeding in accordance with the Rules of Court, but said rights
may not be used to prevent the approval of the compromise
And Notably, Pililla itself raised lack of authority in its comment and agreement
opposition to Atty Mendiolas motion for execution of his lien
Atty. Mendiola: It is impossible that the municipality will file a similar
Atty. Mendiola: private respondent cannot raise for the first time on appeal petition, considering that the mayor who controls its legislative body will
his lack of authority to represent the municipality. not take the initiative

SC: The legality of Atty Mendiolas representation can be questioned at any SC: That is conjectural and without factual basis. In fact, there is presently
stage of the proceedings. The cases cited by Atty Mendiola are not a manifestation and motion pending with the trial court filed by the
applicable because in those cases, the issue of lack of authority of private aforesaid municipal mayor for the
counsel to represent a municipality was only raised for the first time in the withdrawal of the Satisfaction of Judgment and the Release and
proceedings for the collection of attorneys fees for services rendered in Quitclaim previously filed in the case therein as earlier mentioned.
the particular case, after the decision in that case had become final and
executory and/or had been duly executed.
DECISION. Petiton denied.
Even assuming that Atty Mendiola was duly authorized,
said authority has been deemed to have been revoked by the
municipality when the latter, through the municipal mayor and