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Attorneys of the Philippines Legal News

Welcome to our legal news pages. Here is where we provide updates about what's happening in Philippines legal news, and publish helpful articles and tips for Pinoys researching legal matters.

Gaining Temporary Freedom By Posting Bail

Bail secures the release of a person from jail, provided that he or she will return for court appearances or trial. In the event the suspect fails to return to court, the bail will be forfeited. It will only be returned if the suspect was able to comply with the required appearances. Regardless of whether the person is found guilty or not guilty, the bail money will be returned at the end of the trial. The laws governing bail vary from country to country. In the Philippines Rule 114 provides details on the conditions and requirements of bail.

Rule 114

Sec. 2. Conditions of the bail; requirements. — All kinds of bail are subject to the following conditions:

(a) The undertaking shall be effective upon approval and remain in force at all stages of the case, unless sooner cancelled, until the promulgation of the judgment of the Regional Trial Court, irrespective of whatever the case was originally filed in or appealed to it;

(b) The accused shall appear before the proper court whenever so required by the court or these Rules;

(c) The failure if the accused to appear at the trial without justification despite due notice to him r his bondsman shall be deemed an express waiver of his right to be present on the date specified in the notice. In such case, the trial may proceed in absentia; and

(d) The bondsman shall surrender the accused to the court for execution of the final judgment.

The original papers shall state the full name and address of the accused, the amount of the undertaking and the conditions herein required. Photographs (passport size) taken recently showing the face, left and right profiles of the accused must be attached thereto. (2a)

Sec. 3. No release or transfer except on court or bail. — No person under detention by legal process shall be released or transferred except upon lawful order of the court or when he is admitted to bail as prescribed in this Rule. (n)

Sec. 4. Bail, a matter of right. — All persons in custody shall: (a) before or after conviction by the Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities and Municipal Circuit Trial Court, and (b) before conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offenses not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, be admitted to bail as a matter of right, with sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as prescribed by law or this Rule. (3a)

Sec. 5. Bail, when discretionary. — Upon conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, the court, on application, may admit the accused to bail.

The court, in its discretion, may allow the accused to continue on provisional liberty under the same bail bond during the period of appeal subject to the consent of the bondsman.

If the court imposed a penalty of imprisonment exceeding six (6) years but not more than twenty (20)years, the accused shall be denied bail, or his bail previously granted shall be cancelled, upon a showing by the prosecution, with notice to the accused, of the following or other similar circumstances:

(a) That the accused is a recidivist, quasi-recidivist, or habitual delinquent, or has committed the crime aggravated by the circumstance of reiteration;

(b) That the accused is found to have previously escaped from legal confinement, evaded sentence, or has violated the conditions of his bail without valid justification;

(c) That the accused committed the offense while on probation, parole, or under conditional pardon;

(d) That the circumstances of the accused or his indicate the probability of flight of released on bail; or

(e) That there is undue risk that during the pendency of the appeal, the accused may commit another crime.

The appellate court may review the resolution of the Regional Trial Court, on motion and with notice to the adverse party. (n)

Sec. 6. Capital offense, defined. — A capital offense, as the term is used in these Rules, is an offense which, under the law existing at the time of its commission and at the time of the application to be admitted to bail, may be punished with death. (4)

Sec. 7. Capital offense or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, not bailable. — No person charged with a capital offense, or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, when evidence of guilt is strong, shall be admitted to bail regardless of the stage of the criminal prosecution. (n)

Sec. 8. Burden of proof in bail application. — At the hearing of an application for admission to bail filed by any person who is in custody for the commission of an offense punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, the prosecution has the burden of showing that evidence of guilt is strong. The evidence presented during the bail hearings shall be considered automatically reproduced at the trial, but upon motion of either party, the court may recall any witness for additional examination unless the witness is dead, outside of the Philippines or otherwise unable to testify. (5a)

Sec. 9. Amount of bail; guidelines. — The judge who issued the warrant or granted the application shall fix a reasonable amount of bail considering primarily, but not limited to the following guidelines:

(a) Financial ability of the accused to give bail;

(b) Nature and circumstances of the offense;

(c) Penalty of the offense charged;

(d) Character and reputation of the accused;

(e) Age and health of the accused;

(f) The weight of the evidence against the accused;

(g) Probability of the accused appearing in trial;

(h) Forfeiture of other bonds;

(i) The fact that accused was a fugitive from justice when arrested; and

(j) The pendency of other cases in which the accused is under bond.

Excessive bail shall not be required. (6)

What Is A Foreign Investments Act?

Foreign investments provide an economic boon, but investing in the Philippines proved to be a challenge because of the laws and processes involved. In 2015 alone, the country's economy has increased by 6.5%, and most of which are due to foreign investments. However, if you are a foreigner venturing into setting up a business in the Philippines, the process is not going to be easy. From endless paperwork to accomplishing BIR registration, the corporate law is, without a doubt, complicated.

Foreign investors and entrepreneurs have to be aware that there are government restrictions involved in foreign equity. This has been specified under Republic Act No. 7042 otherwise known as the Foreign Investments Act of 1991 (FIA). The act has been amended by Republic Act No. 8179. The Act provides a detailed explanation of the limitations on foreign equity.

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8179 - AN ACT TO FURTHER LIBERALIZE FOREIGN INVESTMENTS, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7042, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

Sec. 2. Sec. 7 of Republic Act No. 7042 is hereby amended to read as follows:

Sec. 7. Foreign Investments in Domestic Market Enterprises. – Non-Philippine nationals may own up to one hundred percent (100%) of domestic market enterprises unless foreign ownership therein is prohibited or limited by the Constitution and existing law or the Foreign Investment Negative List under Sec. 8 hereof.

Sec. 3. Sec. 8 of the Foreign Investments Act of 1991 is hereby amended to read as follows:

Sec. 8. List of Investment Areas Reserved to Philippine Nationals (Foreign Investment Negative List). – The Foreign Investment Negative List shall have two (2) component lists: A and B:

a) List A shall enumerate the areas of activities reserved to Philippine nationals by mandate of the Constitution and specific laws.

b) List B shall contain the areas of activities and enterprises regulated pursuant to law:

1) which are defense-related activities, requiring prior clearance and authorization from Department of National Defense (DND) to engage in such activity, such as the manufacture, repair, storage and/or distribution of firearms, ammunition, lethal weapons, military ordinances, explosives, pyrotechnics and similar materials, unless such manufacturing on repair activity is specifically authorized, with a substantial export component, to a non-Philippine national by the Secretary of National Defense; or

2) which have implications on public health and morals, such as the manufacture and distribution of dangerous drugs, all forms of gambling, nightclubs, bars, beer houses, dance halls, sauna and steam bathhouses and massage clinics.

Small and medium-sized domestic market enterprises with paid-in equity capital less than the equivalent of Two hundred thousand US dollars (US$200,000.00), are reserved to Philippine nationals: provided, that if (1) they involve advanced technology, or (2) they employ at least fifty (50) direct employees, then a minimum paid-in capital of One hundred thousand US dollars (US$100,000.00) shall be allowed to non-Philippine nationals.

Amendments to List B may be made upon recommendation of the Secretary of National Defense, or the Secretary of Health, or the Secretary of Education, Culture and Sports, indorsed by the NEDA, or upon recommendation motu propio, of NEDA, approved by the President, and promulgated by a Presidential Proclamation.

The Transitory Foreign Investment Negative List established in Section 15 hereof shall be replaced at the end of the transitory period by the first Regular Negative List to be formulated and recommended by NEDA, following the process and criteria, provided in Sections 8 and 9 of this Act. The first Regular Negative Lists shall be published not later than sixty (60) days before the end of the transitory period provided in said section and shall become immediately effective at the end of the transitory period. Subsequent Foreign Investment Negative Lists shall become effective fifteen (15) days after publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines: provided, however, that each Foreign Investment Negative List shall be prospective in operation and shall in no way affect foreign investment existing on the date of its publication.

Amendments to List B after promulgation and publication of the first Regular Foreign Investment Negative List at the end of the transitory period shall not be made more often than once every two (2) years.

Sec. 4. The Foreign Investments Act is further amended by inserting a new section designated as Sec. 9 to read as follows:

Sec. 9. Investment Rights of Former Natural-born Filipinos. – For purposes of this Act, former natural born citizens of the Philippines shall have the same investment rights of a Philippine citizen in Cooperatives under Republic Act No. 6938. Rural Banks under Republic Act No. 7353, Thrift Banks and Private Development Banks under Republic Act No. 7906, and Financing Companies under Republic Act No. 5980. These rights shall not extend to activities reserved by the Constitution, including (1) the exercise of profession, (2) in defense related activities under Sec. 8 (b) hereof, unless specifically authorized by the Secretary of National Defense, and (3) activities covered by Republic Act No. 1180 (Retail Trade Act), Republic Act No. 5487 (Security Agency Act). Republic Act No. 7076 (Small Scale Mining Act). Republic Act No. 3018, as amended (Rice and Corn Industry Act), and P.D. 449 (Cockpits Operation and Management).

Sec. 5. The Foreign Investments Act is further amended by inserting a new section designated as Section 10 to read as follows:

Sec. 10. Other Rights of Natural Born Citizen Pursuant to the Provisions of Article XII, Sec. 8 of the Constitution. – Any natural born citizen who has the legal capacity to enter into a contract under Philippine laws may be a transferee of a private land up to a maximum area of five thousand (5,000) square meters in the case of urban land or three (3) hectares in the case of rural land to be used by him for business or other purposes. In the case of married couples, one of them may avail of the privilege herein granted: provided, that if both shall avail of the same, the total area acquired shall not exceed the maximum herein fixed.

In case the transferee already owns urban or rural land for business or other purposes, he shall still be entitled to be a transferee of additional urban or rural land for business or other purposes which when added to those already owned by him shall not exceed the maximum areas herein authorized.

A transferee under this Act may acquire not more than two (2) lots which should be situated in different municipalities or cities anywhere in the Philippines: provided, that the total land area thereof shall not exceed five thousand (5,000) hectares in the case of rural land for use by him for business or other purposes. A transferee who has already acquired urban land shall be disqualified from acquiring rural land area and vice versa.

Sec. 6. The National Economic and Development Authority, in consultation with the Board of Investments, the Department of Trade and Industry and Securities and Exchange Commission, shall prepare and issue the necessary primer and other information campaign materials regarding the Foreign Investments Act and the amendments introduced thereto, with copies of said materials furnished all the Philippine embassies, consulates and other diplomatic offices abroad and disseminated to Filipino nationals, former natural-born Filipino citizens, and foreign investors, within sixty days after the effectivity hereof. 

Sec. 7. The NEDA is hereby directed to make the necessary amendments to the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act No. 7042 in order to reflect the changes embodied in this Act.

Sec. 8. Sections 9 and 10 of Republic Act No. 7042 and all references thereto in said law are hereby repealed or modified accordingly. All other laws, rules and regulations and/or parts thereof inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.

Sec. 9. If any part or section of this Act is declared unconstitutional for any reason whatsoever, such declarant shall not in any way affect the other parts or sections of this Act.

Sec. 10. This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after publication in two (2) newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines.

Prescription Period Of Crimes

Crimes are not immediately penalized due to the circumstances that deter the offended party from filing criminal charges. Sometimes, it may take years for offenders or perpetrators to pay for the crime they committed. However, the law prescribes a specific time within which an offender may be prosecuted for the crimes committed. Why is it important to know the prescription period of a crime? Does a guilty person go unpunished if the commission of violation already lapses the prescription period? The offended party or the proper authorities will lose their right to prosecute the perpetrators if they do not take legal actions within the prescribed period. 

Art. 90. Prescription of crime. — Crimes punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or reclusion temporal shall prescribe in twenty years.

Crimes punishable by other afflictive penalties shall prescribe in fifteen years.

Those punishable by a correctional penalty shall prescribe in ten years; with the exception of those punishable by arresto mayor, which shall prescribe in five years.

The crime of libel or other similar offenses shall prescribe in one year.

The crime of oral defamation and slander by deed shall prescribe in six months.

Light offenses prescribe in two months.

When the penalty fixed by law is a compound one, the highest penalty shall be made the basis of the application of the rules contained in the first, second and third paragraphs of this article.

Sections 1 and 2 of Act No. 3326 otherwise known as AN ACT TO ESTABLISH PERIODS OF PRESCRIPTION FOR VIOLATIONS PENALIZED BY SPECIAL ACTS AND MUNICIPAL ORDINANCES AND TO PROVIDE WHEN PRESCRIPTION SHALL BEGIN TO RUN states that:

Section 1. Violations penalized by special acts shall, unless otherwise provided in such acts, prescribe in accordance with the following rules: (a) after a year for offenses punished only by a fine or by imprisonment for not more than one month, or both; (b) after four years for those punished by imprisonment for more than one month, but less than two years; (c) after eight years for those punished by imprisonment for two years or more, but less than six years; and (d) after twelve years for any other offense punished by imprisonment for six years or more, except the crime of treason, which shall prescribe after twenty years. Violations penalized by municipal ordinances shall prescribe after two months.

Sec. 2. Prescription shall begin to run from the day of the commission of the violation of the law, and if the same be not known at the time, from the discovery thereof and the institution of judicial proceeding for its investigation and punishment.

The prescription shall be interrupted when proceedings are instituted against the guilty person, and shall begin to run again if the proceedings are dismissed for reasons not constituting jeopardy.

The Purpose Of Earnest Money

A contract is already a proof that two or more persons have entered an agreement. However, there are instances when a written contract is not enough to determine one's sincerity in fulfilling what has been agreed on. An earnest money or "arras" is usually given by the prospective buyer to the seller. This is to show that the buyer is interested in purchasing the property. The main purpose of the earnest money is to bind the bargain. It is also considered as part of the purchase price and will be deducted from the total price. Once the earnest money is given to the seller, it will perfect the contract of sale. A payment will only be considered an earnest money if it constitutes as part of the purchase price. The money will be refunded if the sale did not push through. 

Here is a scenario of how an earnest money is determined:

On March 28, 1990, respondent, through his counsel Atty. Ponciano Espiritu, wrote petitioners informing them of his readiness to pay the balance of the contract price and requesting them to prepare the final deed of sale.[3]

On April 4, 1990, petitioners, through Atty. Ruben V. Lopez, sent a letter[4] to respondent stating that petitioner Amparo Herrera is leaving for abroad on or before April 15, 1990 and that they are canceling the transaction. Petitioners also informed respondent that he can recover the earnest money of P100,000.00 anytime.

Again, on April 6, 1990,[5] petitioners wrote respondent stating that they delivered to his counsel Philippine National Bank Managers Check No. 790537 dated April 6, 1990 in the amount of P100,000.00 payable to him.

In view of the cancellation of the contract by petitioners, respondent filed with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 63, Makati City a complaint against them for specific performance and damages, docketed as Civil Case No. 90-1067.[6]

On June 27, 1994, after hearing, the trial court rendered its Decision[7] finding there was a perfected contract of sale between the parties and ordering petitioners to execute a final deed of sale in favor of respondent. The trial court held:

x x x

In the evaluation of the evidence presented by the parties as to the issue as to who was ready to comply with his obligation on the verbal agreement to sell on March 23, 1990, shows that plaintiffs position deserves more weight and credibility. First, the P100,000.00 that plaintiff paid whether as downpayment or earnest money showed that there was already a perfected contract. Art. 1482 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, reads as follows, to wit:

Art. 1482. Whenever earnest money is given in a contract of sale, it shall be considered as part of the price and as proof of the perfection of the contract.

Second, plaintiff was the first to react to show his eagerness to push through with the sale by sending defendants the letter dated March 25, 1990. (Exh. D) and reiterated the same intent to pursue the sale in a letter dated April 6, 1990. Third, plaintiff had the balance of the purchase price ready for payment (Exh. C). Defendants mere allegation that it was plaintiff who did not appear on March 23, 1990 is unavailing. Defendants letters (Exhs. 2 and 5) appear to be mere afterthought.

DOTr Might Revoke Franchises And Licenses Of Those Who Participate In Transport Strike

Following the two-day transport strike held on October 16-17, PISTON will once again organize another transport strike On December 4 and 5. This is still in relation to the modernization of jeepneys. As we all know, the drivers and operators were clamoring about the jeepney phase out when it was announced by President Rodrigo Duterte. Operators perceive this to be a wrong move as drivers and operators have to shoulder the expenses for overhauling the public transportation. 

The two-day transport strike is said to put a stop to the government's future plan. However, the repeated strike only prompted transport chief Arthur Tugade to cancel franchises and licenses of those who will participate in the transport strike  Tugade believes that protesters will only disrupt public convenience. 

He also added that PISTON has already been invited to dialogues, but they still preferred to hold strikes. Jeepney operators will also face legal consequences. 

The LTFRB  has filed cases against operators who stopped jeepney operations to take their turmoil and discontentment against jeepney modernization to the streets. 

Although the government has previously warned protesters, none of the participants' licenses and franchises has been revoked yet. 

What You Need To Know About The Modernization Program?

The modernization program covers jeepneys, buses and public utility vans. For the commuting public, the modernization will bring safer means of transportation as new vehicles will be equipped with CCTVs and GPs. These devices will monitor both passengers and drivers. The vehicles will also have speed limiters, and safety officers will also be assigned. 

Although jeepney drivers are not in favor of the modernization, the program will also make way for receiving monthly salaries and benefits. What's in it for them? The sight of drivers competing against each other to get as many passengers as possible will hopefully be reduced. Once OFG will be issued, existing franchises will continue to operate for a maximum of three years. The transition period will also be a time for operators to apply to operate in new or modified routes. 

How To Determine The Validity Of A Will?

Making a will ensures that conflict and controversy regarding the deceased person's estate are prevented. A will under Article 783 refers to " a will is an act whereby a person is permitted, with the formalities prescribed by law, to control to a certain degree the disposition of this estate, to take effect after his death."

Article 784 also states that the making of a will must be a personal act. The Civil Codes also specifies that a testator can execute can execute two kinds of wills. These are the attested and holographic will.

The ordinary or attested will is governed by Articles 804 to 809:

Art. 804.  Every will must be in writing and executed in a language or dialect known to the testator.

Art. 805.  Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end thereof by the testator himself or by the testator’s name written by some other person in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and subscribed by three or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another. The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof, except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively in letters placed on the upper part of each page.  The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the will is written, and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the presence of the instrumental witnesses, and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another. If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses, it shall be interpreted to them. 

Art. 806.  Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will, or file another with the office of the Clerk of Court. 

Art. 807.  If the testator be deaf, or a deaf-mute, he must personally read the will, if able to do so; otherwise, he shall designate two persons to read it and communicate to him, in some practicable manner, the contents thereof.

Art. 808.  If the testator is blind, the will shall be read to him twice; once, by one of the subscribing witnesses, and again, by the notary public before whom the will is acknowledged. 

Art. 809.  In the absence of bad faith, forgery, or fraud, or undue and improper pressure and influence, defects and imperfections in the form of attestation or in the language used therein shall not render the will invalid if it is proved that the will was in fact executed and attested in substantial compliance with all the requirements of article 805.

The holographic will is governed by Article 810 of the New Civil Code:

“A person may execute a holographic will which must be entirely written, dated, and signed by the hand of the testator himself. It is subject to no other form, and may be made in or out of the Philippines, and need not be witnessed.”

Guidelines On Filing For Child Support

Handling family cases is the hardest let alone settling conflicts between the opposing parties, especially on the issues of child support. Estranged spouses are not the only ones involved in the battle for support and custody but siblings and relatives as well. 

When it comes to child support, Articles 195 and 196 of the Family Code enumerate the people who are under obligation to support each other:

The following are obliged to support each other to the whole extent set forth in the preceding article:

(1) The spouses;

(2) Legitimate ascendants and descendants;

(3) Parents and their legitimate children and the legitimate and illegitimate children of the latter;

(4) Parents and their illegitimate children and the legitimate and illegitimate children of the latter; and

(5) Legitimate brothers and sisters, whether of full or half-blood (291a)

Art. 196. Brothers and sisters not legitimately related, whether of the full or half-blood, are likewise bound to support each other to the full extent set forth in Article 194, except only when the need for support of the brother or sister, being of age, is due to a cause imputable to the claimant's fault or negligence. 

Guidelines on filing for child support:

1. If women who are going to file and ask for support does not have the ability to pay for court fees, seeking help from the Public Attorney's Office is going to be your best bet. They can also go to Department of Justice and the Department of Social Welfare and Development. 

2. A Protection Order is issued to protect the woman and her children from violence and economic abuse. In this case, custody will be given automatically to the woman with an entitlement of support.

3. The cases shall be filed in the Regional Trial Courts. They will also serve as Family Courts for hearing cases. 

4. The support is applicable to both legitimate and illegitimate children. It includes clothing, education, transportation and food. The support will be in accordance with the capacity and resources of the father. 

5. The woman parent will be the one to file the support of the child. If the child is below 7 years old, the custody will be given automatically to the mother. 

6. Regardless of the marriage status, the father's support should be considered as compulsory. Support will be in monetary form if the children are in the mother's custody and children will be under the father's custody for survival. 

It is also important to note that support and child custody will depend on a case by case basis. For minor children, they are definitely entitled to parental support. 

The Philippine Competition Act

Republic Act No. 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act provides policy of the Philippines for protecting and promoting competitive market. The Act believes that competition is intended to:

-encourage private investments;

-promote entrepreneurial spirit;

-enhance resource productivity; and

-facilitate technology development and transfer.

Sec. 5. Philippine Competition Commission. – To implement the national competition policy and attain the objectives and purposes of this Act, an independent quasi-judicial body is hereby created, which shall be known as the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), hereinafter referred to as the Commission, and which shall be organized within sixty (60) days after the effectivity of this Act. Upon establishment of the Commission, Executive Order No. 45 designating the Department of Justice as the Competition Authority is hereby amended. The Office for Competition (OFC) under the Office of the Secretary of Justice shall however be retained, with its powers and functions modified pursuant to Section 13 of this Chapter.

The Commission shall be an attached agency to the Office of the President.

Sec. 6. Composition of the Commission. – The Commission shall be composed of a Chairperson and four (4) Commissioners. The Chairperson and the Commissioners shall be citizens and residents of the Philippines, of good moral character, of recognized probity and independence and must have distinguished themselves professionally in public, civic or academic service in any of the following fields: economics, law, finance, commerce or engineering. They must have been in the active practice of their professions for at least ten (10) years, and must not have been candidates for any elective national or local office in the immediately preceding elections, whether regular or special: Provided,That at least one (1) shall be a member of the Philippine Bar with at least ten (10) years of experience in the active practice of law, and at least one (1) shall be an economist. The Chairperson and the Commissioners who shall have the rank equivalent of cabinet secretary and undersecretary, respectively, shall be appointed by the President.

Sec. 7. Term of Office. – The term of office of the Chairperson and the Commissioners shall be seven (7) years without reappointment. Of the first set of appointees, the Chairperson shall hold office for seven (7) years and of the first four (4) Commissioners, two (2) shall hold office for a term of seven (7) years and two (2) for a term of five (5) years. In case a vacancy occurs before the expiration of the term of office, the appointment to such vacancy shall only be for the unexpired term of the predecessor.

The Chairperson and the Commissioners shall enjoy security of tenure and shall not be suspended or removed from office except for just cause as provided by law.

Sec. 8. Prohibitions and Disqualifications. – The Commissioners shall not, during their tenure, hold any other office or employment. They shall not, during their tenure, directly or indirectly practice any profession, except in a teaching capacity, participate in any business, or be financially interested in any contract with, or any franchise, or special privileges granted by the government or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned and -controlled corporations or their subsidiaries. They shall strictly avoid conflict of interest in the conduct of their office. They shall not be qualified to run for any office in the election immediately succeeding their cessation from office: Provided, That the election mentioned hereof is not a Barangay election or a Sangguniang Kabataan election. Provided, they shall not be allowed to personally appear or practice as counsel or agent on any matter pending before the Commission for two (2) years following their cessation from office.

No spouse or relative by consanguinity or affinity within the fourth civil degree of any of the Commissioners, the Chairperson and the Executive Director of the Commission may appear as counsel nor agent on any matter pending before the Commission or transact business directly or indirectly therein during incumbency and within two (2) years from cessation of office.

Sec. 9. Compensation and Other Emoluments for Members and Personnel of the Commission.— The compensation and other emoluments for the members and personnel of the Commission shall be exempted from the coverage of Republic Act No. 6758, otherwise known as the “Salary Standardization Act”. For this purpose, the salaries and other emoluments of the Chairperson, the Commissioners, and personnel of the Commission shall be set based on an objective classification system, taking into consideration the importance and responsibilities attached to the respective positions, and shall be submitted to the President of the Philippines for his approval.

Sec. 10. Quorum. – Three (3) members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum and the affirmative vote of three (3) members shall be necessary for the adoption of any rule, ruling, order, resolution, decision or other acts of the Commission.

Sec. 11. Staff. – The Commission shall appoint, fix the compensation, and determine the status, qualifications, and duties of an adequate staff, which shall include an Executive Director of the Commission. The Executive Director shall be appointed by the Commission and shall have relevant experience in any of the fields of law, economics, commerce, management, finance or engineering for at least ten (10) years. The members of the technical staff, except those performing purely clerical functions, shall possess at least a Bachelor’s Degree in any of the following lines of specialization: economics, law, finance, commerce, engineering, accounting, or management.

Sec. 12. Powers and Functions. — The Commission shall have original and primary jurisdiction over the enforcement and implementation of the provisions of this Act, and its implementing rules and regulations. The Commission shall exercise the following powers and functions:

(a) Conduct inquiry, investigate, and hear and decide on cases involving any violation of this Act and other existing competition laws motu proprio or upon receipt of a verified complaint from an interested party or upon referral by the concerned regulatory agency, and institute the appropriate civil or criminal proceedings;

(b) Review proposed mergers and acquisitions, determine thresholds for notification, determine the requirements and procedures for notification, and upon exercise of its powers to review, prohibit mergers and acquisitions that will substantially prevent, restrict, or lessen competition in the relevant market;

(c) Monitor and undertake consultation with stakeholders and affected agencies for the purpose of understanding market behavior;

(d) Upon finding, based on substantial evidence, that an entity has entered into an anti-competitive agreement or has abused its dominant position after due notice and hearing, stop or redress the same, by applying remedies, such as, but not limited to, issuance of injunctions, requirement of divestment, and disgorgement of excess profits under such reasonable parameters that shall be prescribed by the rules and regulations implementing this Act;

(e) Conduct administrative proceedings, impose sanctions, fines or penalties for any noncompliance with or breach of this Act and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) and punish for contempt;

(f) Issue subpoena duces tecum and subpoena ad testificandum to require the production of books, records, or other documents or data which relate to any matter relevant to the investigation and personal appearance before the Commission, summon witnesses, administer oaths, and issue interim orders such as show cause orders and cease and desist orders after due notice and hearing in accordance with the rules and regulations implementing this Act;

(g) Upon order of the court, undertake inspections of business premises and other offices, land and vehicles, as used by the entity, where it reasonably suspects that relevant books, tax records, or other documents which relate to any matter relevant to the investigation are kept, in order to prevent the removal, concealment, tampering with, or destruction of the books, records, or other documents;

(h) Issue adjustment or divestiture orders including orders for corporate reorganization or divestment in the manner and under such terms and conditions as may be prescribed in the rules and regulations implementing this Act. Adjustment or divestiture orders, which are structural remedies, should only be imposed:

(1) Where there is no equally effective behavioral remedy; or

(2) Where any equally effective behavioral remedy would be more burdensome for the enterprise concerned than the structural remedy. Changes to the structure of an enterprise as it existed before the infringement was committed would only be proportionate to the substantial risk of a lasting or repeated infringement that derives from the very structure of the enterprise;

(i) Deputize any and all enforcement agencies of the government or enlist the aid and support of any private institution, corporation, entity or association, in the implementation of its powers and functions;

(j) Monitor compliance by the person or entities concerned with the cease and desist order or consent judgment;

(k) Issue advisory opinions and guidelines on competition matters for the effective enforcement of this Act and submit annual and special reports to Congress, including proposed legislation for the regulation of commerce, trade, or industry;

(l) Monitor and analyze the practice of competition in markets that affect the Philippine economy; implement and oversee measures to promote transparency and accountability; and ensure that prohibitions and requirements of competition laws are adhered to;

(m) Conduct, publish, and disseminate studies and reports on anti-competitive conduct and agreements to inform and guide the industry and consumers;

(n) Intervene or participate in administrative and regulatory proceedings requiring consideration of the provisions of this Act that are initiated by government agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Telecommunications Commission;

(o) Assist the National Economic and Development Authority, in consultation with relevant agencies and sectors, in the preparation and formulation of a national competition policy;

(p) Act as the official representative of the Philippine government in international competition matters;

(q) Promote capacity building and the sharing of best practices with other competition-related bodies;

(r) Advocate pro-competitive policies of the government by:

(1) Reviewing economic and administrative regulations, motu proprio or upon request, as to whether or not they adversely affect relevant market competition, and advising the concerned agencies against such regulations; and

(2) Advising the Executive Branch on the competitive implications of government actions, policies and programs; and

(s) Charging reasonable fees to defray the administrative cost of the services rendered.

Sec. 13. Office for Competition (OFC), Powers and Functions. — The OFC under the Department of Justice (DOJ-OFC) shall only conduct preliminary investigation and undertake prosecution of all criminal offenses arising under this Act and other competition-related laws in accordance with Section 31 of Chapter VI of this Act. The OFC shall be reorganized and allocated resources as may be required therefor to effectively pursue such mandate.

CHAPTER III

PROHIBITED ACTS

Sec. 14. Anti-Competitive Agreements. –

(a) The following agreements, between or among competitors, are per se prohibited:

(1) Restricting competition as to price, or components thereof, or other terms of trade;

(2) Fixing price at an auction or in any form of bidding including cover bidding, bid suppression, bid rotation and market allocation and other analogous practices of bid manipulation;

(b) The following agreements, between or among competitors which have the object or effect of substantially preventing, restricting or lessening competition shall be prohibited:

(1) Setting or controlling production, markets, technical development, or investment;

(2) Dividing or sharing the market, whether by volume of sales or purchases, territory, type of goods or services, buyers or sellers or any other means;

(c) Agreements other than those specified in (a) and (b) of this section which have the object or effect of substantially preventing, restricting or lessening competition shall also be prohibited:Provided, Those which contribute to improving the production or distribution of goods and services or to promoting technical or economic progress, while allowing consumers a fair share of the resulting benefits, may not necessarily be deemed a violation of this Act.

An entity that controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with another entity or entities, have common economic interests, and are not otherwise able to decide or act independently of each other, shall not be considered competitors for purposes of this section.

SEC. 15. Abuse of Dominant Position. – It shall be prohibited for one or more entities to abuse their dominant position by engaging in conduct that would substantially prevent, restrict or lessen competition:

(a) Selling goods or services below cost with the object of driving competition out of the relevant market: Provided, That in the Commission’s evaluation of this fact, it shall consider whether the entity or entities have no such object and the price established was in good faith to meet or compete with the lower price of a competitor in the same market selling the same or comparable product or service of like quality;

(b) Imposing barriers to entry or committing acts that prevent competitors from growing within the market in an anti-competitive manner except those that develop in the market as a result of or arising from a superior product or process, business acumen, or legal rights or laws;

(c) Making a transaction subject to acceptance by the other parties of other obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the transaction;

(d) Setting prices or other terms or conditions that discriminate unreasonably between customers or sellers of the same goods or services, where such customers or sellers are contemporaneously trading on similar terms and conditions, where the effect may be to lessen competition substantially:Provided, That the following shall be considered permissible price differentials:

(1) Socialized pricing for the less fortunate sector of the economy;

(2) Price differential which reasonably or approximately reflect differences in the cost of manufacture, sale, or delivery resulting from differing methods, technical conditions, or quantities in which the goods or services are sold or delivered to the buyers or sellers;

(3) Price differential or terms of sale offered in response to the competitive price of payments, services or changes in the facilities furnished by a competitor; and

(4) Price changes in response to changing market conditions, marketability of goods or services, or volume;

(e) Imposing restrictions on the lease or contract for sale or trade of goods or services concerning where, to whom, or in what forms goods or services may be sold or traded, such as fixing prices, giving preferential discounts or rebate upon such price, or imposing conditions not to deal with competing entities, where the object or effect of the restrictions is to prevent, restrict or lessen competition substantially: Provided, That nothing contained in this Act shall prohibit or render unlawful:

(1) Permissible franchising, licensing, exclusive merchandising or exclusive distributorship agreements such as those which give each party the right to unilaterally terminate the agreement; or

(2) Agreements protecting intellectual property rights, confidential information, or trade secrets;

(f) Making supply of particular goods or services dependent upon the purchase of other goods or services from the supplier which have no direct connection with the main goods or services to be supplied;

(g) Directly or indirectly imposing unfairly low purchase prices for the goods or services of, among others, marginalized agricultural producers, fisherfolk, micro-, small-, medium-scale enterprises, and other marginalized service providers and producers;

(h) Directly or indirectly imposing unfair purchase or selling price on their competitors, customers, suppliers or consumers, provided that prices that develop in the market as a result of or due to a superior product or process, business acumen or legal rights or laws shall not be considered unfair prices; and

(i) Limiting production, markets or technical development to the prejudice of consumers, provided that limitations that develop in the market as a result of or due to a superior product or process, business acumen or legal rights or laws shall not be a violation of this Act:

Provided, That nothing in this Act shall be construed or interpreted as a prohibition on having a dominant position in a relevant market or on acquiring, maintaining and increasing market share through legitimate means that do not substantially prevent, restrict or lessen competition:

Provided, further, That any conduct which contributes to improving production or distribution of goods or services within the relevant market, or promoting technical and economic progress while allowing consumers a fair share of the resulting benefit may not necessarily be considered an abuse of dominant position:

Provided, finally, That the foregoing shall not constrain the Commission or the relevant regulator from pursuing measures that would promote fair competition or more competition as provided in this Act.

House Approves Mental Health Bill

According to the Department of Health (DOH), there are more than 4.5 million cases of depression in the Philippines. This report was released in 2004 and the number is more likely to be much higher considering the fact that many are still suffering in silence because of the stigma associated with mental disorders. Severe cases can even lead to death as the person suffering from depression, schizophrenia and other mental disorders are not given proper care because family members are not fully aware of the signs and symptoms that they often dismiss it as mood swings. Depression is even misconstrued for laziness, not knowing that sufferers are experiencing more than just the blues and blahs. In most cases, it is already too late for family members to realize that the person is suffering from mental disorder. 

These mental disorders can lead to suicide and most parents will even claim that they do not see a change in behavior in their children prior to committing such an act. However, there is more to depression and other mental disorders than meets the eye. If someone considers these disorders as a mere figment of one's imagination and it is all in the mind, the Mental Health Bill approved by the house of representatives will somehow shed light on the matter and make people more conscious.

House Bill Number 6452 or the "Comprehensive Mental Health Act" ensures that every person gains access to the best available mental health care. 

Objectives of Mental Health Act:

a. Ensure a community of Filipinos who are mentally healthy, able to contribute to the development of the country and attain a better quality of life through access to an integrated, well-planned, effectively organized and efficiently delivered mental health care system that responds to their mental health needs inequity with their physical needs; 

b . Promote mental health, protection of the rights and freedoms of persons with mental health needs and the reduction of the burden and consequences of mental health, mental and brain disorders and disabilities;

c.  Provide the direction for a coherent, rational, and unified response and efforts to address the nation's mental health problems and concerns;

d.  Integrate mental health care in the general health delivery system, especially in the programs of the Department of Health and the Department of Interior and Local Government for the mentally disabled persons; and

e.  Integrate, introduce and promote the study of mental health in both elementary and secondary educational systems to prevent depression, obesity, and teenage pregnancy among students of this age group. 

The bill will be enacted into a law before the year ends. 

Useful Laws For Online Businesses

Aside from brick and mortar stores, many entrepreneurs are now venturing into online businesses for global exposure and wider public reach. Unfortunately, not all online transactions are successful. This is why there are laws, rules and regulations that govern online businesses. These laws protect consumers and business owners to ensure a smooth and problem-free transaction. 

1. Republic Act No. 8792 or Electronic Commerce Act of 2000

This Act aims to facilitate domestic and international dealings, transactions, arrangements agreements, contracts and exchanges and storage of information through the utilization of electronic, optical and similar medium, mode, instrumentality and technology to recognize the authenticity and reliability of electronic documents related to such activities and to promote the universal use of electronic transaction in the government and general public.

2. Executive No. 810, s.2009 Institutionalizing The Certification Scheme For Digital Signatures And Directing The Application Of Digital Signatures In E-Government Services

The Rules on Electronic Evidence issued by the Supreme Court in 2001 in accordance with the provisions of the Electronic Commerce Act, defines digital signature as “an electronic signature consisting of a transformation of an electronic document or an electronic data message using an asymmetric or public cryptosystem such that a person having the initial untransformed electronic document and the signer’s public key can accurately determine: (i) whether the transformation was created using the private key that corresponds to the signer’s public key; and (ii) whether the initial electronic document had been altered after the transformation was made.

3. Executive Order No. 482, s.2005 or Creating The National Single Window Task Force For Cargo Clearance

SEC. 4. Functions of the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee shall be responsible for the following:

a. Setting of policy guidelines for the creation and operation of the NSW and the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) thereafter;

b. Crafting of financial schemes and strategies to finance the activities and projects under the NSW from its inception up to its operations to ensure sustainability; and

c. Ensuring the effective and efficient implementation of the NSW and ASW thereafter.

4. Executive Order No. 334, s. 2004 or Abolishing The Information Technology And Electronic Commerce Council And Transferring Its Budget, Assets, Personnel, Programs And Projects To The Commission on Information And Communications Technology

The Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), created pursuant to Executive Order No. 269 dated 12 January 2004, functions as the primary policy, planning, coordinating, implementing, regulating, and administrative entity for ICT of the Executive Branch of the Government;

It is desirable to centralize all ICT and ICT-related programs and projects, functions and initiatives in one government agency;

The government recognizes that the development of ICT will have a higher chance of success and sustainability if it is private sector-led, market-based and government-enabled; and

There is a need for close coordination between the government and the private sector for the promotion and continued growth and development of ICT in the country.

5. Republic Act No. 9184 or The Government Procurement Reform Act

This 2016 Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations, hereinafter called the IRR, is promulgated pursuant to Section 75 of Republic Act No. (R.A.) 9184, otherwise known as the “Government Procurement Reform Act,” for the purpose of prescribing the necessary rules and regulations for the modernization, standardization, and regulation of the procurement activities of the Government of the Philippines (GoP).

What Happens To The SSS Death Benefit When The Primary Beneficiary Remarries?

A spouse who is the primary beneficiary of a deceased member is entitled to death benefit if two qualifying factors are established: 1) that he/she is the legitimate spouse; and 2) that he/she is dependent upon the member for support. 

What if the spouse remarries? Will he/she still be entitled to the same benefits? As specified under Sections 8 and 13 of the Republic Act No. 1161, as amended otherwise known as Social Security (SS) Law, "Upon the covered employee's death, his primary beneficiaries shall be entitled to the monthly pension and his dependents to the dependents' pension: Provided, That he has paid at least thirty-six monthly contributions prior to the semester of death: Provided, further, That if the foregoing condition is not satisfied his primary beneficiaries shall be entitled to a lump sum benefit equivalent to thirty-five times the monthly pension: Provided, further, That if he has no primary beneficiaries, his secondary beneficiaries shall be entitled to a lump sum benefit equivalent to twenty times the monthly pension: Provided, however, That the minimum death benefit shall not be less than the total contributions paid by him and his employer on his behalf nor less than one thousand pesos: Provided, finally, That the beneficiaries of the covered employee who dies without having paid at least three monthly contributions shall be entitled to the minimum benefit. (As amended by Sec. 5, P.D. No. 1202, S-1977 and Sec. 8, P.D. No. 1636, S-1979)"

Factual Antecedents

On August 5, 2002, respondent Teresa G. Favila (Teresa) filed a Petition6 before petitioner SSC docketed as SSC Case No. 8-15348-02. She averred therein that after she was married to Florante Favila (Florante) on January 17, 1970, the latter designated her as the sole beneficiary in the E-1 Form he submitted before petitioner Social Security System (SSS), Quezon City Branch on June 30, 1970. When they begot their children Jofel, Floresa and Florante II, her husband likewise designated each one of them as beneficiaries. Teresa further averred that when Florante died on February 1, 1997, his pension benefits under the SSS were given to their only minor child at that time, Florante II, but only until his emancipation at age 21. Believing that as the surviving legal wife she is likewise entitled to receive Florante’s pension benefits, Teresa subsequently filed her claim for said benefits before the SSS. The SSS, however, denied the claim in a letter dated January 31, 2002, hence, the petition.

In its Answer,7 SSS averred that on May 6, 1999, the claim for Florante’s pension benefits was initially settled in favor of Teresa as guardian of the minor Florante II. Per its records, Teresa was paid the monthly pension for a total period of 57 months or from February 1997 to October 2001 when Florante II reached the age of 21. The claim was, however, re-adjudicated on July 11, 2002 and the balance of the five-year guaranteed pension was again settled in favor of Florante II.8 SSS also alleged that Estelita Ramos, sister of Florante, wrote a letter9 stating that her brother had long been separated from Teresa. She alleged therein that the couple lived together for only ten years and then decided to go their separate ways because Teresa had an affair with a married man with whom, as Teresa herself allegedly admitted, she slept with four times a week. SSS also averred that an interview conducted in Teresa’s neighborhood in Tondo, Manila on September 18, 1998 revealed that although she did not cohabit with another man after her separation with Florante, there were rumors that she had an affair with a police officer. To support Teresa’s non-entitlement to the benefits claimed, SSS cited the provisions of Sections 8(k) and 13 of Republic Act (RA) No. 1161, as amended otherwise known as Social Security (SS) Law.10

Ruling of the Social Security Commission

In a Resolution11 dated June 4, 2003, SSC held that the surviving spouse’s entitlement to an SSS member’s death benefits is dependent on two factors which must concur at the time of the latter’s death, to wit: (1) legality of the marital relationship; and (2) dependency for support. As to dependency for support, the SSC opined that same is affected by factors such as separation de facto of the spouses, marital infidelity and such other grounds sufficient to disinherit a spouse under the law. Thus, although Teresa is the legal spouse and one of Florante’s designated beneficiaries, the SSC ruled that she is disqualified from claiming the death benefits because she was deemed not dependent for support from Florante due to marital infidelity. Under Section 8(k) of the SS Law, the dependent spouse until she remarries is entitled to death benefits as a primary beneficiary, together with the deceased member’s legitimate minor children. According to SSC, the word "remarry" under said provision has been interpreted as to include a spouse who cohabits with a person other than his/her deceased spouse or is in an illicit relationship. This is for the reason that no support is due to such a spouse and to allow him/her to enjoy the member’s death benefits would be tantamount to circumvention of the law. Even if a spouse did not cohabit with another, SSC went on to state that for purposes of the SS Law, it is sufficient that the separation in-fact of the spouses was precipitated by an adulterous act since the actual absence of support from the member is evident from such separation. Notable in this case is that while Teresa denied having remarried or cohabited with another man, she did not, however, deny her having an adulterous relationship. SSC therefore concluded that Teresa was not dependent upon Florante for support and consequently disqualified her from enjoying her husband’s death benefits.

SSC further held that Teresa did not timely contest her non-entitlement to the award of benefits. It was only when Florante II’s pension was stopped that she deemed it wise to file her claim. For SSC, Teresa’s long silence led SSS to believe that she really suffered from a disqualification as a beneficiary, otherwise she would have immediately protested her non-entitlement. It thus opined that Teresa is now estopped from claiming the benefits. Hence, SSC dismissed the petition for lack of merit.

The Benefits That Solo Parents Can Get According To RA 8972

Solo parents carry a heavy responsibility as they are left alone to take care of their children. In 2015, the National Statistics Office (NSO) stated that there are about 14 million solo parents in the Philippines. This is why the national government took the initiative to pass Republic Act 8972 or the Solo Parents' Welfare Act of 2000. While rearing children as a solo parent is difficult, the law has somehow made it easier or less burdensome. What are the benefits that solo parent can get from the government?

Sec. 5. Comprehensive Package of Social Development and Welfare Services. - A comprehensive package of social development and welfare services for solo parents and their families will be developed by the DSWD, DOH, DECS, CHED, TESDA, DOLE, NHA and DILG, in coordination with local government units and a nongovernmental organization with proven track record in providing services for solo parents.

The DSWD shall coordinate with concerned agencies the implementation of the comprehensive package of social development and welfare services for solo parents and their families. The package will initially include:

(a) Livelihood development services which include trainings on livelihood skills, basic business management, value orientation and the provision of seed capital or job placement.

(b) Counseling services which include individual, peer group or family counseling. This will focus on the resolution of personal relationship and role conflicts.

(c) Parent effectiveness services which include the provision and expansion of knowledge and skills of the solo parent on early childhood development, behavior management, health care, rights and duties of parents and children.

(d) Critical incidence stress debriefing which includes preventive stress management strategy designed to assist solo parents in coping with crisis situations and cases of abuse.

(e) Special projects for individuals in need of protection which include temporary shelter, counseling, legal assistance, medical care, self-concept or ego-building, crisis management and spiritual enrichment.

Sec. 6. Flexible Work Schedule. - The employer shall provide for a flexible working schedule for solo parents: Provided, That the same shall not affect individual and company productivity: Provided, further, That any employer may request exemption from the above requirements from the DOLE on certain meritorious grounds.

Sec. 7. Work Discrimination. - No employer shall discriminate against any solo parent employee with respect to terms and conditions of employment on account of his/her status.

Sec. 8. Parental Leave. - In addition to leave privileges under existing laws, parental leave of not more than seven (7) working days every year shall be granted to any solo parent employee who has rendered service of at least one (1) year.

Sec. 9. Educational Benefits. - The DECS, CHED and TESDA shall provide the following benefits and privileges:

(1) Scholarship programs for qualified solo parents and their children in institutions of basic, tertiary and technical/skills education; and

(2) Nonformal education programs appropriate for solo parents and their children.

The DECS, CHED and TESDA shall promulgate rules and regulations for the proper implementation of this program.

Sec. 10. Housing Benefits. - Solo parents shall be given allocation in housing projects and shall be provided with liberal terms of payment on said government low-cost housing projects in accordance with housing law provisions prioritizing applicants below the poverty line as declared by the NEDA.

Sec. 11. Medical Assistance. - The DOH shall develop a comprehensive health care program for solo parents and their children. The program shall be implemented by the DOH through their retained hospitals and medical centers and the local government units (LGUs) through their provincial/district/city/municipal hospitals and rural health units (RHUs).

The Use Of Surnames

What's in a name? Why do people take matters to court because of the use of surnames? Whether it has to do with illegitimate children using their father's surname or a married woman adding her husband's surname, the process can become complicated without understanding the rule of law on using surnames. Republic Act 386 or An Act To Ordain And Institute The Civil Code Of The Philippines provides the following guidance on the use of surnames. 

AN ACT TO ORDAIN AND INSTITUTE THE CIVIL CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES

Title XIII. - USE OF SURNAMES (n)

Art. 364. Legitimate and legitimated children shall principally use the surname of the father.

Art. 365. An adopted child shall bear the surname of the adopter.

Art. 366. A natural child acknowledged by both parents shall principally use the surname of the father. If recognized by only one of the parents, a natural child shall employ the surname of the recognizing parent.

Art. 367. Natural children by legal fiction shall principally employ the surname of the father.

Art. 368. Illegitimate children referred to in Article 287 shall bear the surname of the mother.

Art. 369. Children conceived before the decree an'ing a voidable marriage shall principally use the surname of the father.

Art. 370. A married woman may use:

      (1) Her maiden first name and surname and add her husband's surname, or

      (2) Her maiden first name and her husband's surname or

      (3) Her husband's full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is his wife, such as "Mrs."

Art. 371. In case of annulment of marriage, and the wife is the guilty party, she shall resume her maiden name and surname. If she is the innocent spouse, she may resume her maiden name and surname. However, she may choose to continue employing her former husband's surname, unless:

      (1) The court decrees otherwise, or

      (2) She or the former husband is married again to another person.

Art. 372. When legal separation has been granted, the wife shall continue using her name and surname employed before the legal separation.

Art. 373. A widow may use the deceased husband's surname as though he were still living, in accordance with Article 370.

Art. 374. In case of identity of names and surnames, the younger person shall be obliged to use such additional name or surname as will avoid confusion.

Art. 375. In case of identity of names and surnames between ascendants and descendants, the word "Junior" can be used only by a son. Grandsons and other direct male descendants shall either:

      (1) Add a middle name or the mother's surname, or

      (2) Add the Roman Numerals II, III, and so on.

Art. 376. No person can change his name or surname without judicial authority.

Art. 377. Usurpation of a name and surname may be the subject of an action for damages and other relief.

Art. 378. The unauthorized or unlawful use of another person's surname gives a right of action to the latter.

Art. 379. The employment of pen names or stage names is permitted, provided it is done in good faith and there is no injury to third persons. Pen names and stage names cannot be usurped.

Art. 380. Except as provided in the preceding article, no person shall use different names and surnames.

Forcible Abduction: The Elements And Penalties

Forcible abduction under Article 342 of the Revised Penal Code is defined as "abduction of any woman against her will and with lewd designs." The penalty for this will be reclusion temporal. The elements of forcible abduction are: (a) that the person abducted is a woman, regardless of her age, civil status, or reputation; (b) that the abduction is against her will; and, (c) that the abduction is with lewd designs. 

On 5 May 1999 the trial court rejected the defenses of accused Lito Egan and convicted him of forcible abduction with rape;[45] hence, this appeal.

The only issue before us is the calibration of the competing evidence for the prosecution and the defense - verily, our resolution would hinge on whose version is more credible, more plausible and more trustworthy considering the circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime charged.

Accused-appellant Lito Egan was charged with forcible abduction with rape of twelve (12)-year old Lenie T. Camad.  Although from the records it appears that Lenie was less than twelve (12) years old as shown by her birth certificate (Exh. "B")[46] when the abduction took place on 6 January 1997 and the alleged rape was perpetrated a day after, the criminal liability of accused-appellant would nevertheless be confined only to the crime alleged in the Information.   Hence, a judgment of conviction is proper only where the prosecution was able to prove the elements of the complex crime of forcible abduction with rape -

Article 342 of the Revised Penal Code defines and penalizes the crime of forcible abduction.  The elements of forcible abduction are (a) that the person abducted is a woman, regardless of her age, civil status, or reputation; (b) that the abduction is against her will; and, (c) that the abduction is with lewd designs.   On the other hand, Art. 335 of the same Code defines the crime of rape and provides for its penalty.  The elements of rape pertinent to this case are:  (a) that the offender had carnal knowledge of a woman; and, (b) that such act is accomplished by using force or intimidation.[47]

All the elements of forcible abduction were proved in this case.  The victim, who is a young girl, was taken against her will as shown by the fact that at knife-point she was dragged and taken by accused-appellant to a place far from her abode.  At her tender age, Lenie could not be expected to physically resist considering the fact that even her companion, Jessica Silona, had to run home to escape accused-appellant's wrath as he brandished a hunting knife.  Fear gripped and paralyzed Lenie into helplessness as she was manhandled by accused-appellant who was armed and twenty-four (24) years her senior.  What we held in People v. Rapisora[48] could be said in the case at bar -

Appellant would urge the Court to ignore the testimony of complainant for her alleged failure to call for help.  In People vs. Akhtar, similarly involving the crime of forcible abduction with rape, the same contention was raised.  This Court, rejecting the proposition made by the alleged offender, held that '[c]omplainant's failure to ask for help when she was abducted, or to escape from appellant's house during her detention, should not be construed as a manifestation of consent to the acts done by appellant.  For her life was on the line.  Against the armed threats and physical abuses of appellant, she had no defense.  Moreover, at a time of grave peril, to shout could literally be to court disaster.  Her silence was born out of fear for her safety, to say the least, not a sign of approval'  x x x x  This Court, in several cases, has observed that behavioral psychology would indicate that most people, confronted by unusual events, react dissimilarly to like situations.  Intimidation, more subjective than not, is peculiarly addressed to the mind of the person against whom it may be employed, and its presence is basically incapable of being tested by any hard and fast rule.  Intimidation is normally best viewed in the light of the perception and judgment of the victim at the time and occasion of the crime.

The evidence likewise shows that the taking of the young victim against her will was done con miras deshonestas or in furtherance of lewd and unchaste designs.   The word lewd is defined as obscene, lustful, indecent, lascivious, lecherous.   It signifies that form of immorality which has relation to moral impurity; or that which is carried on in a wanton manner.[49] Such lewd designs were established by the prurient and lustful acts which accused-appellant displayed towards the victim after she was abducted.   This element may also be inferred from the fact that while Lenie was then a naive twelve (12)-year old, accused-appellant was thirty-six (36) years old and although unmarried was much wiser in the ways of the world than she.[50]

Given the straightforward and candid testimony of Lenie and her father Palmones as well as the absence of any motive to testify falsely against accused-appellant, the logical conclusion is that there was no improper motive on their part, and their respective testimonies as to facts proving forcible abduction are worthy of full faith and credit.[51] We generally sustain the factual findings of the trial court on account of its strategic access to circumstances decisive of the question of credibility as it saw and heard the witnesses themselves and observed  their  behavior  and  manner  of  testifying.   In the instant case, there is no reason to depart from the rule since no fact or circumstance of weight and influence proving that accused-appellant had abducted Lenie against her will and with lewd designs has been overlooked or the significance of which has been misinterpreted by the court a quo.[52] Significantly, accused-appellant has not even challenged the unequivocal pronouncement of the trial court that the complainant testified in a spontaneous and straightforward manner which thus leaves no doubt in the mind of this Court that she was telling the truth and that her declarations were positive, clear and convincing.   The best that he could do to assail the conviction was, unfortunately, to state mere speculations of inconsistencies in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses without however substantiating by specific examples such conjecture.   We have no doubt that his studied silence on the evaluation of evidentiary matters unmistakably preserves the integrity of the decision of the trial court.

Accused-appellant would however insist that he and Lenie had been engaged under Manobo rituals to marry each other and that her companionship was willful and voluntary.  Proof of this, he said, was the alleged dowry of one (1) horse, two (2) pigs, ten (10) sacks of palay, and P2,000.00, with two (2) wild horses forthcoming, he had given her father in exchange for her hand in marriage.   In moving from one place to another to look for the horses which the old man Palmones had demanded, it was allegedly only his intention to realize his matrimonial aspiration with Lenie.

The testimony of the victim negated this contrived posture of accused-appellant which in reality is simply a variation of the sweetheart defense.  If they were, surely, Lenie would not have jeopardized their relationship by accusing him of having held her against her will and molesting her and, on top of it all, by filing a criminal charge against him.   If it had been so, Lenie could have easily told her father after the latter had successfully traced their whereabouts that nothing untoward had happened between her and the accused.   Her normal reaction would have been to cover-up for the man she supposedly loved and with whom she had a passionate affair.   But, on the contrary, Lenie lost no time in denouncing accused-appellant and exposing to her family and the authorities the disgrace that had befallen her.   If they had indeed been lovers, Lenie's father would not have shown so much concern for her welfare and safety by searching for the couple for four (4) months, desperately wanting to rescue her from captivity and seeking the intervention of the datus in resolving the matter.

Neither was accused-appellant able to present any convincing evidence to substantiate his claim, like love letters, notes and other symbols of affection attesting to a consensual relationship.[53] In fact, none of the persons he and Lenie supposedly lived with during the period that he was allegedly looking for two (2) wild horses could corroborate his claim of engagement under the traditions of the Manobos.  Imbing Camad was not summoned to testify and Datu Salimbag Paguyan who took the supposed couple under custody would even admit in his testimony that he knew nothing about the relationship  between them.[54] Furthermore, Exh. "2," the letter which allegedly details the matrimonial offer of accused-appellant to Lenie, is inadmissible and otherwise barren of probative value.  For one, the letter is hearsay being as it is an out-of-court statement of a person who did not testify; moreover, it was not authenticated during the trial by either its author or its recipient.  Nor is it in any manner conclusive of any wedding plans prior to the abduction of Lenie on 6 January 1997, as Exh. "2" is explicitly dated 4 February 1997 and significantly coincides with the attempts of the several datus to rescue Lenie from the hands of accused-appellant.  Indubitably, all that was done and said in the letter with reference to marrying the girl was clearly an afterthought.[55]

Verily it is evident that accused-appellant was a rejected suitor of Lenie with no hope of having her in marriage and whose persistent offers of love and marriage had been decidedly spurned.  It was in the sleepy mid-afternoon of 6 January 1997 when he took the girl by force and at that time no marriage was proved to have been offered by accused-appellant much less considered by Lenie or her elders.  The accused dragged the victim to walk with him and to proceed to unknown destinations by warning her of a present and grave danger to her life should she refuse.  In the night which followed, he forcibly embraced, kissed, and handled her against her will.  No protestation of noble intentions can obviate the conclusion that all these acts proved lewd designs.

To be sure, several acts of accused-appellant would betray his criminal intentions.   For one he offered in evidence, partly through Exh. "2" and to a degree by his testimony, the settlement which  he together with Datu Salimbag Paguyan tried to broker with the family of Lenie to suppress the criminal act he had done.  The putative agreement was for the accused to deliver a horse to Lenie's father to settle the matter amicably but the agreement did not push through.  Since this offer of compromise was sponsored by accused-appellant himself, it clearly amounts to an implied admission of guilt which remains uncontested.[56] Moreover, if he were truly engaged to marry the victim he would not have eluded arrest for one (1) year and dodged several warrants for his arrest.  The flight of accused-appellant indubitably proves an awareness of guilt and a consciousness that he had no tenable defense to the crime charged. [57]

Nonetheless even assuming that the accused and the complainant were engaged by virtue of the dowry he had offered, this fact alone would not negate the commission of forcible abduction.   An indigenous ritual of betrothal, like any other love affair, does not justify forcibly banishing the beloved against her will with the intention of molesting her.  It is likewise well-settled that the giving of money does not beget an unbridled license to subject the assumed fiancée to carnal desires.   By asserting the existence of such relationship, the accused seeks to prove that the victim willingly participated in the act.  But, as shown above, she certainly did not.  Lenie was a Manobo with whom the accused ardently fell in love but was never her lover.  The evidence clearly does not speak of consensual love but of criminal lust which could not be disguised by the so-called sweetheart defense or its variant as in the instant case.  Finally, as held in People v. Crisostomo,[58] the intention to marry may constitute unchaste designs not by itself but by the concurring circumstances which may vitiate such an intention, as in the case of abduction of a minor with the latter's consent, in which the male knows that she cannot legally consent to the marriage and yet he elopes with her.   In the case at bar, there is no denying the fact that Lenie was incapacitated to marry accused-appellant under Manobo or Christian rites since she was still a minor[59] thereby demonstrating the existence of lewd designs.

Foreign Corporations: The Law On Doing Business In The Philippines

The Philippine business landscape has dramatically changed, thanks to the increasing number of foreign investors in the country. Even local businesses are now open to the idea of doing business with foreign corporations. It is to be expected that in years to come, there will be an impressive growth of foreign participants in boosting the Philippine economy. So what are implementing rules governing foreign corporations? 

Sec. 129. Law applicable. - Any foreign corporation lawfully doing business in the Philippines shall be bound by all laws, rules and regulations applicable to domestic corporations of the same class, except such only as provide for the creation, formation, organization or dissolution of corporations or those which fix the relations, liabilities, responsibilities, or duties of stockholders, members, or officers of corporations to each other or to the corporation. (73a)

Sec. 130. Amendments to articles of incorporation or by-laws of foreign corporations. - Whenever the articles of incorporation or by-laws of a foreign corporation authorized to transact business in the Philippines are amended, such foreign corporation shall, within sixty (60) days after the amendment becomes effective, file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and in the proper cases with the appropriate government agency, a duly authenticated copy of the articles of incorporation or by-laws, as amended, indicating clearly in capital letters or by underscoring the change or changes made, duly certified by the authorized official or officials of the country or state of incorporation. The filing thereof shall not of itself enlarge or alter the purpose or purposes for which such corporation is authorized to transact business in the Philippines. (n)

Sec. 131. Amended license. - A foreign corporation authorized to transact business in the Philippines shall obtain an amended license in the event it changes its corporate name, or desires to pursue in the Philippines other or additional purposes, by submitting an application therefor to the Securities and Exchange Commission, favorably endorsed by the appropriate government agency in the proper cases. (n)

Sec. 132. Merger or consolidation involving a foreign corporation licensed in the Philippines. - One or more foreign corporations authorized to transact business in the Philippines may merge or consolidate with any domestic corporation or corporations if such is permitted under Philippine laws and by the law of its incorporation: Provided, That the requirements on merger or consolidation as provided in this Code are followed.

Whenever a foreign corporation authorized to transact business in the Philippines shall be a party to a merger or consolidation in its home country or state as permitted by the law of its incorporation, such foreign corporation shall, within sixty (60) days after such merger or consolidation becomes effective, file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and in proper cases with the appropriate government agency, a copy of the articles of merger or consolidation duly authenticated by the proper official or officials of the country or state under the laws of which merger or consolidation was effected: Provided, however, That if the absorbed corporation is the foreign corporation doing business in the Philippines, the latter shall at the same time file a petition for withdrawal of its license in accordance with this Title. (n)

Sec. 133. Doing business without a license. - No foreign corporation transacting business in the Philippines without a license, or its successors or assigns, shall be permitted to maintain or intervene in any action, suit or proceeding in any court or administrative agency of the Philippines; but such corporation may be sued or proceeded against before Philippine courts or administrative tribunals on any valid cause of action recognized under Philippine laws. (69a)

Sec. 134. Revocation of license. - Without prejudice to other grounds provided by special laws, the license of a foreign corporation to transact business in the Philippines may be revoked or suspended by the Securities and Exchange Commission upon any of the following grounds:

1. Failure to file its annual report or pay any fees as required by this Code;

2. Failure to appoint and maintain a resident agent in the Philippines as required by this Title;

3. Failure, after change of its resident agent or of his address, to submit to the Securities and Exchange Commission a statement of such change as required by this Title;

4. Failure to submit to the Securities and Exchange Commission an authenticated copy of any amendment to its articles of incorporation or by-laws or of any articles of merger or consolidation within the time prescribed by this Title;

5. A misrepresentation of any material matter in any application, report, affidavit or other document submitted by such corporation pursuant to this Title;

6. Failure to pay any and all taxes, imposts, assessments or penalties, if any, lawfully due to the Philippine Government or any of its agencies or political subdivisions;

7. Transacting business in the Philippines outside of the purpose or purposes for which such corporation is authorized under its license;

8. Transacting business in the Philippines as agent of or acting for and in behalf of any foreign corporation or entity not duly licensed to do business in the Philippines; or

9. Any other ground as would render it unfit to transact business in the Philippines. (n)

Insanity Plea: No Guarantee To Exempt An Individual From Criminal Liability

It is easy to use insanity plea as an escape from possible prosecution due to committing a criminal offense. Insanity is the best defense for an individual to avoid criminal liability. However, there are some conditions that must be taken into consideration. An insane person under Paragraph 1, Article 1 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, the person is exempt from criminal liability if he or she acted during lucid interval. There should be clear and convincing evidence to prove the defendant's insanity. 

Art. 12. Circumstances which exempt from criminal liability. — the following are exempt from criminal liability:

1. An imbecile or an insane person, unless the latter has acted during a lucid interval.

When the imbecile or an insane person has committed an act which the law defines as a felony (delito), the court shall order his confinement in one of the hospitals or asylums established for persons thus afflicted, which he shall not be permitted to leave without first obtaining the permission of the same court.

Here's a court decision that did not accept insanity defense as a valid reason to absolve the perpetrator from the crime he committed: 

When insanity is used as a defense, the burden is on the defense as the appellant has to prove that the perpetrator is insane immediately before the commission of the crime or at the momen of its execution. There should be proof that the accused acted without discernment.

On November 26, 2002 at around 4 o'clock in the afternoon, Vicente Ringor was staying with his two-year old granddaughter, Maureen Joy Ringor, at the terrace of their house located at Villanueva, San Manuel, Isabela. Suddenly, Roger Ringor Umawid appeared and started attacking Vicente with a long bolo (panabas) without any reason. While Vicente was able to escape Umawid's blows, the latter nevertheless hit Maureen on her abdomen and back, causing her instant death. Upon seeing Maureen bloodied, Umawid walked away.

Thereafter, Umawid went to a nearby house which was only five meters away from Vicente's house where his nephew, Jeffrey Mercado, was sleeping. Awaken by the sudden noise, Jeffrey went outside only to see his uncle rushing to attack him with his panabas.

Jeffrey, along with his sister and cousin, rushed inside the house to seek for safety. However, Umawid was able to prevent Jeffrey from closing the door and the former barge into the house. Jeffrey crouched and covered his head with his arms to shield him from Umawid's impending attacks.

Umawid delivered fatal hacking blows to Jeffrey, causing the mutilation of the latter's fingers. Umawid only stopped upon seing Jeffrey, who was then pretending to be dead, leaning on the wall and blood-stained.

In court, Umawid set up the defense of insanity, but did not, however, take the witness stand to attest the same. Instead, he presented the testimonies of Dr. Arthur M. Quincina and Dr. Leonor Andres Juliana to support his claim. Dr. Quincina testifies that he evaluated Umawid's psychiatric condition in May 2002, February 2003, and on March 2003 and found that the latter was evident od psychotic symptoms. However, he could not tell with certainty whether Umawid was psychotic at the time of the commission of the crimes. On the other hand, Dr. Juliana failed to testify on Umawid's mental stare since she merely referred the latter to another doctor for further evaluation.

Issue:

Whether or not the accused is exempted from criminal liablity due to insanity?

Ruling:

No. Under Article 12 of the RPC:

Article 12. Circumstances which exempt from criminal liabity - The following are exempt from criminal liability:

 1. An imbecile or an insane person, unless the latter has acted during a lucid interval.

The defense of insanity is in the nature of confession and avoidance because an accused invoking the same admits to have committed the crime but claims that he or she is not guilty because of insanity. The presumption is in favor of sanity, anyone who pleads the said defense bears the burden of proving it with clear and convincing evidence. Considering the case, the evidence must relate to the time immediately before or during the commission of the offense/s with which one is charged. Also, to support the defense of insanity, it must be shown that the accused had no full and clear understanding of the nature and consequences of his or her acts.

In this case, Umawid relied solely on the defense of Dr. Quincina and Dr. Juliana to support his claim of insanity. However, Dr. Quincina only examined Umawid six months before he committed the crime and three months and four months thereafter. Her findings as she admitted did not include Umawid's mental disposition immediately before or during the commission of the crimes. Also, given that Dr. Juliana failed to testify in favor of the accused, Umawid's defense of insanity remained unsubstiantiated, hence, he was properly adjudged by the RTC and CA as criminally liable.

Warrantless Arrest: When Can It Be Lawful?

An individual who committed an offense was chased by a police officer. The individual attempted to go inside a house to hide from the police authorities. The officer followed and discovered drugs lying around. Can the drugs be confiscated and used as evidence? According to the plain view doctrice, the evidence can be used as the intrusion was valid. If the police officer peeks through the window of the house and sees the drugs, he can also confiscate the evidence without prejudice. However, the plain view doctrine cannot be used because there was no previous valid intrusion. 

Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court provides:

Sec 5.  Arrest without warrant, when lawful – A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing or is attempting to commit an offense;

(b) When an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it;  and

(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or is temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.

The Supreme Court summarizes the rule as follows:

Corolarilly, the 1987 Constitution states that a search and consequent seizure must be carried out with a judicial warrant; otherwise, it becomes unreasonable and any evidence obtained therefrom shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.  Said proscription, however, admits of exceptions, namely:

1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest;

2. Search of evidence in “plain view;”

3. Search of a moving vehicle;

4. Consented warrantless search;

5. Customs search;

6. Stop and Frisk; and

7. Exigent and emergency circumstances.

What constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable warrantless search or seizure is purely a judicial question, determinable from the uniqueness of the circumstances involved, including the purpose of the search or seizure, the presence or absence of probable cause, the manner in which the search and seizure was made, the place or thing searched, and the character of the articles procured.

In searches incident to a lawful arrest, the arrest must precede the search; generally, the process cannot be reversed.  Nevertheless, a search substantially contemporaneous with an arrest can precede the arrest if the police have probable cause to make the arrest at the outset of the search. Although probable cause eludes exact and concrete definition, it ordinarily signifies a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant a cautious man to believe that the person accused is guilty of the offense with which he is charged.

The Crime Of Usurpation Of Authority

Pretending to be a person of authority is a serious crime punishable by law. One instance that makes you liable for a crime of usurpation of authority is when you pretend to represent a department or agency of the Philippine government. A person was once imprisoned for pretending to be a member of the Philippine National Police (PNP). He was asked which division he was assigned and when the police authorities verified the veracity of the information, it was discovered that the man was not a member of PNP. Aside from usurpation of authority, rank and title, improper use of uniforms, names and insignia will hold you criminally liable as well. 

Sec. One. — Usurpation of authority, rank, title, and improper use of names, uniforms and insignia.

Art. 177. Usurpation of authority or official functions. — Any person who shall knowingly and falsely represent himself to be an officer, agent or representative of any department or agency of the Philippine Government or of any foreign government, or who, under pretense of official position, shall perform any act pertaining to any person in authority or public officer of the Philippine Government or any foreign government, or any agency thereof, without being lawfully entitled to do so, shall suffer the penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods.

Art. 178. Using fictitious name and concealing true name. — The penalty of arresto mayor and a fine not to exceed 500 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who shall publicly use a fictitious name for the purpose of concealing a crime, evading the execution of a judgment or causing damage.

Any person who conceals his true name and other personal circumstances shall be punished by arresto menor or a fine not to exceed 200 pesos.

Art. 179. Illegal use of uniforms or insignia. — The penalty of arresto mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall publicly and improperly make use of insignia, uniforms or dress pertaining to an office not held by such person or to a class of persons of which he is not a member.

The Adverse Consequences Of Non-Appearance At The Pre-Trial

The pre-trial provides an opportunity for both the defendant and the plaintiff to air both sides. However, if the defendant fails to appear, the plaintiff is given a chance to present evidence, which will serve as the court's basis for rendering judgment. The non-appearance of the defendant without valid cause increases the likelihood that the court will decide in favor of the plaintiff. It also has other serious consequences:

Section 4.  Appearance of parties. −  It shall be the duty of the parties and their counsel to appear at the pre-trial. The non-appearance of a party may be excused only if a valid cause is shown therefor, or if a representative shall appear in his behalf fully authorized in writing to enter into an amicable settlement, to submit to alternative modes of dispute resolution, and to enter into stipulations or admissions of facts and of documents.   

Section 5. Effect of failure to appear. − The failure of the plaintiff to appear when so required pursuant to the next preceding section shall be cause for dismissal of the action. The dismissal shall be with prejudice, unless otherwise ordered by the court.  A similar failure on the part of the defendant shall be cause to allow the plaintiff to present his evidence ex parte and the court to render judgment on the basis thereof.

Pre-trial is an essential part of the legal process because it seeks to achieve the following: 

(a) The possibility of an amicable settlement or of a submission to alternative modes of dispute resolution;

(b) The simplification of the issues;

(c) The necessity or desirability of amendments to the pleadings;

(d) The possibility of obtaining stipulations or admissions of facts and of documents to avoid unnecessary proof;

(e) The limitation of the number of witnesses;

(f) The advisability of a preliminary reference of issues to a commissioner;

(g) The propriety of rendering judgment on the pleadings, or summary judgment, or of dismissing the action should a valid ground therefor be found to exist;

(h) The advisability or necessity of suspending the proceedings; and

(i) Such other matters as may aid in the prompt disposition of the action.

Passport Validity Extended To 10 Years

It is a breath of fresh air for all of us to know that the validity of passports has finally been extended from 5 years to 10 years. Now we don't have to endure long hours of waiting in line to get our passports.  As we all know the previous law only limited validity to 5 years. This law is known as the Republic Act No. 8239 otherwise known as the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 "Regular passports issued under this Act shall be valid for a period of five (5) years: Provided, however, That the issuing authority may limit the period of validity to less than five (5) years; whenever in the national economic interest or political stability of the country such restriction is necessary: Provided, finally, That a new passport may be issued to replace one which validity has expired, the old passport being returned to the holder after cancellation."

Amended by Republic Act No. 10928 Sec 10 states that:

" Regular passports issued under this Act shall be valid for a period of ten (10) years; Provided, however, that for individuals under (18) years of age, only a passport with five (5)-year validity shall be issued; Provided, further; that the issuing authority may limit the period of validity to less than ten (10) years, whenever in the national economic interest or political stability of the country such restriction is necessary."

The new law on the validity of passports will take effect in January 2018. There will be no additional cost to passport holders and applicants. The implementing rules and regulations of the new Philippine Passport Act have been signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last August 2. 

The passports' validity cannot be extended immediately because the Department of Foreign Affairs will still need to notify other countries of the validity's extension.  



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