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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.

DILG Orders Probe On Kidapawan Incident

The devastating effects of El Niño have plagued everyone in the country. While we may whine about the scorching heat that makes us want to stay cooped up in our home, the farmers have bigger issues to face. These issues have urged 6000 Kidapawan farmers to take to the streets to protest due to the alleged failure of government to provide relief to starving families of farmers. These are not just shallow complaints about drought because the farmers’ livelihood has already been affected. When there is no food on your plate, you need to do something to provide food for your family who is already starving to death.

The problem started when the police opened fire on the protesters and when investigation was conducted, police said that one of the dead protesters came out positive for powder burns. The Kidapawan incident will bring forth fact-finding team and the National Police Commission will also conduct its own investigation. The PNP fact finding team will be headed by Police Director Isagani Nerez.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has also noticed some lapses on the dispersal of protesters and they are also going to conduct their own investigation to find out if there is indeed a violation committed during the incident. The investigation will not only look at the rights of protesters but the police as well.  Inspite of the bloody incident, the government has not yet lifted a finger to give in to the farmers’ demands. Whether it is political ideologies or purely a case of following standard operating procedure, the farmers just need food to eat. With the ongoing investigation, will the Kidapawan incident prove that this is a clear violation of human rights?

“Section 2. Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or Under Custodial Investigation; Duties of Public Officers.

(a) Any person arrested detained or under custodial investigation shall at all times be assisted by counsel.

(b) Any public officer or employee, or anyone acting under his order or his place, who arrests, detains or investigates any person for the commission of an offense shall inform the latter, in a language known to and understood by him, of his rights to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel, preferably of his own choice, who shall at all times be allowed to confer privately with the person arrested, detained or under custodial investigation. If such person cannot afford the services of his own counsel, he must be provided with a competent and independent counsel by the investigating officer.

(c) The custodial investigation report shall be reduced to writing by the investigating officer, provided that before such report is signed, or thumbmarked if the person arrested or detained does not know how to read and write, it shall be read and adequately explained to him by his counsel or by the assisting counsel provided by the investigating officer in the language or dialect known to such arrested or detained person, otherwise, such investigation report shall be null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

(d) Any extrajudicial confession made by a person arrested, detained or under custodial investigation shall be in writing and signed by such person in the presence of his counsel or in the latter's absence, upon a valid waiver, and in the presence of any of the parents, elder brothers and sisters, his spouse, the municipal mayor, the municipal judge, district school supervisor, or priest or minister of the gospel as chosen by him; otherwise, such extrajudicial confession shall be inadmissible as evidence in any proceeding.

(e) Any waiver by a person arrested or detained under the provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, or under custodial investigation, shall be in writing and signed by such person in the presence of his counsel; otherwise the waiver shall be null and void and of no effect.

(f) Any person arrested or detained or under custodial investigation shall be allowed visits by or conferences with any member of his immediate family, or any medical doctor or priest or religious minister chosen by him or by any member of his immediate family or by his counsel, or by any national non-governmental organization duly accredited by the Commission on Human Rights of by any international non-governmental organization duly accredited by the Office of the President. The person's "immediate family" shall include his or her spouse, fiancé or fiancée, parent or child, brother or sister, grandparent or grandchild, uncle or aunt, nephew or niece, and guardian or ward.

As used in this Act, "custodial investigation" shall include the practice of issuing an "invitation" to a person who is investigated in connection with an offense he is suspected to have committed, without prejudice to the liability of the "inviting" officer for any violation of law.”

Is It Time For Freedom Of Information Bill To Be Enacted Into A Law?

Corruption is a political cancer that the country has not yet found a viable solution for. Many anti-corruption advocates are aiming for good governance free of corruption, but some government agencies continue to mar the country with graft and corruption, stashing away millions and getting away with the crimes they committed scot-free. The proposed Freedom of Information Bill aims to mandate public documents’ disclosure and once this bill is enacted into a law, all government agencies are required to make information pertaining to transactions, official acts, or decisions available to the public.

“1.   Official acts of public officers done in the pursuit of their official functions;

2.    Judicial or quasi-judicial decisions or orders as well as records of court cases in whatever stage, and policy decisions of public officers, boards, commissions or tribunals;

3.    Transactions, contracts and agreements, whether the government is a nominal or active contracting or counter-party, including negotiations or definite propositions of the government leading to the consummation of the transactions, contracts and agreements;

4.    Government research data used as basis for policy development, enactment of statutes, rules and regulations, and execution of transactions, contracts and agreements, whether the government is a nominal or active contracting or counter-party, including negotiations or definite propositions of the government leading to the consummation of the transactions, contracts and agreements;

5.    Laws, policies, rules and procedure, work programs, projects and performance targets, performance reports;

6.    Public and private writings coming into the hands of public officers in connection with their official functions;

7.    Books of account, ledgers, and other documents of whatever nature or character used as basis for applications, reports or returns or other documents regardless of nature or character submitted to the government; and

8.    All other information required by law to be accessible to the public.”

Aside from minimizing graft and corruption, the bill gives citizens a chance to participate in matters related to the government. Although the bill has a good purpose especially when it comes to granting access to the public so they too can obtain necessary information, the bill has yet to undergo long process. Is this bill going to die a natural death? Is there still hope for the bill to become a law eventually? While the corrupt and powerful continues to sit on a throne and this bill has not yet win sustainable nods, the country’s fight against corruption will become a useless battle. The dream of a country free of corruption is probably dead and the hopes of openness and transparency may have also died along with it.

Human Trafficking, Illegal Recruitment And A Promise Of A Better Life

When victims of illegal recruitment and human trafficking are asked for reasons why they choose to bite the bait instead of waiting for a legal job opportunity to come, there is only one answer that comes to mind: a promise of a better life. Poverty drives a person to make hasty decisions. Someone who is desperate to free himself from poverty’s tight grip will focus on the solution, regardless of its sources. Law becomes non-existent as these unsuspecting victims want to improve their life.

The grass is greener on the other side because those fresh blades of grass are made of plastics. They are facades of the harsh reality that greets desperate job-seekers who just want a better life. They are victims who simply wish to have food on their plate or enjoy pleasures of life. Prostitution, organ sale, sex tourism and other illegal jobs can be in the guise of a decent job to lure people into recruitment.

The ripple effect of illegal recruitment becomes evident in the case of Mary Jane Veloso, an OFW who was put to prison due to being suspected as a drug mule and presently, on Indonesia’s death row. Due aspiring for a better life, illegal recruiters seized the opportunity to take advantage of Veloso. While Veloso was hoping for a better future ahead of her, human traffickers were up to something else.

Veloso’s boat of hope sinks before it reaches the sea. Sad, unfortunate, disheartening. Mary Jane Veloso represents millions of OFWs who continue to fight a difficult battle against poverty and a poor excuse of a system. Human trafficking schemes continue to turn dreams into nightmare. There are government agencies such as POEA that provide information to job-seekers to avoid falling victim to illegal recruitment and human trafficking, but people need more than just a piece of information. When your family is starving to death, wouldn’t you consider  once-in-a-lifetime job offer appealing?

Section 10 of Republic Act No. 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Person Act of 2012 provides details of penalties and sanctions for those who this law.

“SEC. 10. Penalties and Sanctions. – The following penalties and sanctions are hereby established for the offenses enumerated in this Act:

“(a) Any person found guilty of committing any of the acts enumerated in Section 4 shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of twenty (20) years and a fine of not less than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00) but not more than Two million pesos (P2,000,000.00);

“(b) Any person found guilty of committing any of the acts enumerated in Section 4-A of this Act shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of fifteen (15) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00);

“(c) Any person found guilty of Section 4-B of this Act shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of fifteen (15) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00);

“In every case, conviction shall cause and carry the automatic revocation of the license or registration of the recruitment agency involved in trafficking. The license of a recruitment agency which trafficked a child shall be automatically revoked.

“(d) Any person found, guilty of committing any of the acts enumerated in Section 5 shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of fifteen (15) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00);

“(e) Any person found guilty of qualified trafficking under Section 6 shall suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Two million pesos (P2,000,000.00) but not more than Five million pesos (P5,000,000.00);

“(f) Any person who violates Section 7 hereof shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of six (6) years and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00);

“(g) If the offender is a corporation, partnership, association, club, establishment or any juridical person, the penalty shall be imposed upon the owner, president, partner, manager, and/or any responsible officer who participated in the commission of the crime or who shall have knowingly permitted or failed to prevent its commission;

“(h) The registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and license to operate of the erring agency, corporation, association, religious group, tour or travel agent, club or establishment, or any place of entertainment shall be cancelled and revoked permanently. The owner, president, partner or manager thereof shall not be allowed to operate similar establishments in a different name;

“(i) If the offender is a foreigner, he or she shall be immediately deported after serving his or her sentence and be barred permanently from entering the country;

“(j) Any employee or official of government agencies who shall issue or approve the issuance of travel exit clearances, passports, registration certificates, counseling certificates, marriage license, and other similar documents to persons, whether juridical or natural, recruitment agencies, establishments or other individuals or groups, who fail to observe the prescribed procedures and the requirement as provided for by laws, rules and regulations, shall be held administratively liable, without prejudice to criminal liability under this Act. The concerned government official or employee shall, upon conviction, be dismissed from the service and be barred permanently to hold public office. His or her retirement and other benefits shall likewise be forfeited; and

“(k) Conviction, by final judgment of the adopter for any offense under this Act shall result in the immediate rescission of the decree of adoption.”

Urban Development And Housing Act Of 1992: A Misunderstood Law?

The Republic Act No. 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act is authored by former senator Jose D. Lina and the law has been in existence for many years but, until now, it is misunderstood. While the law aims to pay serious attention to homeless citizens more often referred to as informal settlers, there are some guidelines and procedures that need to be followed in the event of demolition. One of the misconceptions is that informal settlers have the right to own the land if they have been squatting on it for more than 10 years. Unfortunately, this claim has no basis in the law. Thus, it remains a false belief that informal settlers continue to embrace.

There are also scenarios when private landowners pay informal settlers as a form of compensation. Although, private landowners are not prohibited to provide financial assistance to informal settlers who have agreed to relocate, giving money to squatters should be a voluntary act. Prior to relocation, squatters need to be consulted, but consultation does not necessarily mean that their consent is also needed. The role of the government is to ensure that all available resources are exhausted to ensure that the relocation site is near the settlers’ job sites. Without the settlers’ consent, the government will still push through with searching for a suitable relocation site.

Informal settlers do not own the land and this is why they have limited rights. They can be ejected based on ejection and accion publiciana.  Ejectment refers to unlawful detainer or forcible entry while accion publiciana refers to the plenary action to recover the better possession right.

Section 28 of this Act outlines eviction and demolition procedures:

“Sec.  28. Eviction and Demolition. — Eviction or demolition as a practice shall be discouraged. Eviction or demolition, however, may be allowed under the following situations:

(a) When persons or entities occupy danger areas such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways, and other public places such as sidewalks, roads, parks, and playgrounds;      
    
(b) When government infrastructure projects with available funding are about to be implemented; or

(c) When there is a court order for eviction and demolition.chanrobles virtual law library

In the execution of eviction or demolition orders involving underprivileged and homeless citizens, the following shall be mandatory:

(1) Notice upon the effected persons or entities at least thirty (30) days prior to the date of eviction or demolition;     
           
(2) Adequate consultations on the matter of settlement with the duly designated representatives of the families to be resettled and the affected communities in the areas where they are to be relocated;

(3) Presence of local government officials or their representatives during eviction or demolition;

(4) Proper identification of all persons taking part in the demolition;

(5) Execution of eviction or demolition only during regular office hours from Mondays to Fridays and during good weather, unless the affected families consent otherwise;

(6) No use of heavy equipment for demolition except for structures that are permanent and of concrete materials;

(7) Proper uniforms for members of the Philippine National Police who shall occupy the first line of law enforcement and observe proper disturbance control procedures; and

(8) Adequate relocation, whether temporary or permanent: Provided, however, That in cases of eviction and demolition pursuant to a court order involving underprivileged and homeless citizens, relocation shall be undertaken by the local government unit concerned and the National Housing Authority with the assistance of other government agencies within forty-five (45) days from service of notice of final judgment by the court, after which period the said order shall be executed: Provided, further, That should relocation not be possible within the said period, financial assistance in the amount equivalent to the prevailing minimum daily wage multiplied by sixty (60) days shall be extended to the affected families by the local government unit concerned.

This Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council shall jointly promulgate the necessary rules and regulations to carry out the above provision.”

LTO’s Driver-Licensing Examination: A Red Flag?

Have you ever wondered why the roads in Manila and its neighbouring cities continue to be infested with reckless drivers? Aside from the stress that the heavy traffic brings, the tension arises when drivers fail to follow simple road rules and regulations. Countless incidents of road rage have ended into a bloody and deadly argument because of one reason: reckless driving. Why are these drivers granted license when they cannot even follow rules? Simple rules. Ah, it might have something to do with the way a written examination is administered.

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) plays a crucial role in ensuring that the drivers applying for a license are fit and capable of driving people to safety. Whether it is a private or public utility vehicle, it is the driver’s responsibility to provide a safe driving experience to passengers. Road accidents are not an isolated case. It has continued to plague individuals who venture into the concrete jungle of Metro Manila.

By merely looking into the process involved in applying for a driver’s license, you can easily spot where the problem lies. We know for a fact that before you can obtain a driver’s license, you need to pass the written examination, but why would you do that when you can skip the process by paying off the LTO officer in exchange for a passing mark? Upon entering LTO’s premise, you can sure sense the presence of a fixer. Now, if you do not have the luxury of time, a fixer can make your life less miserable. You hand the money, the fixer hands the answer key. Not a wise move though.

While this may not happen on a daily basis, it is a rather a familiar scene in LTO that one cannot afford to turn a blind eye on as road safety is at stake. How can LTO grant a driver’s license to a person who cannot recognize basic road signs and markings? If you plan to secure a driver’s license and take the written examination, these crooks will render your efforts useless because there are undeserving applicants who manage to get their license effortlessly.

So long as this issue is not properly addressed, the driver-licensing examination will continue to be marred by money-making schemes and its credibility will remain questionable. LTO should know that it is not just a simple cheating because as a government agency, they are held responsible for ensuring that the drivers are deserving of securing a license.  Ignorance of the law excuses no one, especially if it is feigned ignorance. How can an individual ensure road safety if being on the road feels as though you are on your final destination? If LTO continues to shrug off these concerns, they are going to build more highways to hell.

The Department Of Health Imposes Graphic Warnings On Cigarette Packs

Effective March 3, 2016, the Graphic Health Warnings Law or R.A No. 10643 will be implemented to raise awareness to the public on the deleterious effects of smoking to one’s health. It has been known that smoking can cause various illnesses such as stroke and mouth cancer. While the government has implemented SinTax Reform Law to reduce the number of smokers in the country, seeing images of the negative effects of smoking can somehow urge smokers to kick the habit.

The gruesome images will be printed on the cigarette packs and with the element of fear in these images, the frequency of smoking will eventually lessen. It is expected that all cigarettes sold in the market have graphic warnings that cover a pack’s lower half. There should also be additional information on side panels including the websites and hotlines that cater to smoke related concerns.

A fine of up to P500,000 will be imposed upon manufacturers, importers and distributors who violate the law on the first offense. The penalty will be raised to P1 million on the second offense. The fine can reach up to P2 million on the third offense and law violators will serve a sentence of not more than five years in prison. Shops that violate the law will also be at risk of losing their business permits.

Section 6 of Republic Act No. 10643 explains how the graphic images must printed on cigarette packs:

“SEC. 6. Graphic Health Warnings. – One (1) year after the issuance of the templates by the Department of Health (DOH), cigarette packages and other tobacco product packages, including package inserts and onserts, and any outside packaging and labelling, withdrawn from the manufacturing facilities, or imported into the Philippine customs territory shall bear the prescribed highly visible full-color Graphic Health Warnings, that shall have two (2) components: a photographic picture warning and an accompanying textual warning that is related to the picture.

(a) The Graphic Health Warnings shall be printed on fifty percent (50%) of the principal display surfaces of any tobacco package; it shall occupy fifty percent (50%) of the front and fifty percent (50%) of the back panel of the packaging, as described in Section 4;

(b) The Graphic Health Warnings shall be located at the lower portions of the said panels or Principal Display Areas;

(c) Nothing shall be printed or applied on a location where it is likely to obscure or cover, in part or in whole, the Graphic Health Warnings or the location where the internal revenue strip stamp is to be affixed as may be required by the BIR;

(d) No part of the warning may be obliterated, obscured, folded, severed or become unreadable when the tobacco package is opened or closed or when a wrapper on the package is removed;

(e) The Graphic Health Warnings shall be printed in four colors /-cmyk-/ screen 133 lines per inch based on a source file of 300 dpi;

(f) The printing of the Graphic Health Warnings shall be done using current available technology for purposes of providing vivid and realistic pictures, without the use of any border, frame or any other design that will effectively lessen the size of the warning;

The Graphic Health Warnings shall be printed or inscribed on the package in a color which contrasts conspicuously with the background of the package or its labels;

(g) A maximum of twelve (12) templates of Graphic Health Warnings shall be printed simultaneously and these shall be rotated periodically for each brand family and also for each variant, so that every twenty-four (24) months, the variations of the warnings shall appear in the market with approximately equal frequency and equal display of health warnings and messages on retail packages; and

(h) Graphic Health Warnings specifications –

(1) The text warning accompanying the photographic picture warning shall be worded in such manner that an ordinary layman will understand what the picture is about and what the ill-effects of smoking are on the health of the smoker and on the people around him;

(2) The text warning shall be placed on areas of the photograph where it will not obscure the picture itself but will be prominently displayed;

(3) The text shall use no more than twenty percent (20%) of the entire area of the Graphic Health Warnings and shall appear in clearly legible type and in contrast by typograph, layout and color, without the use of any border, frame or any other design that will effectively lessen the size of the textual warning; and

(4) The accompanying text shall be printed in Filipino on the front panel and English on the back panel. In the case of other containers where there is only one (1) external surface area, the accompanying text will alternately be in English or Filipino.

Did Manny Pacquiao Just Hit LGBT Community With A Sucker Punch?

Netizens irked by Manny Pacquiao’s statement on same-sex marriage and the boxer/politician seemed to throw the wrong punches. The statement was captured in a video that went viral and earned mixed reactions most of which were negative due to deeming those engaged in same-sex relationships to be “worse than animals”. Pacquiao runs for a seat in the senate and he has been known as a Christian devotee. The video was posted on the election site of a TV network.

Even celebrities have a negative reaction to his statement particularly those from the LGBT community. Pacquiao’s statement was based on his strong religious beliefs and in spite of apologizing to the LGBT group, he remains firm on his stand on same-sex marriage. Politicians have different views on same-sex marriage. Some want it legalized, while others still do not agree to the idea.  

Leni Robredo, a vice presidential aspirant of the Liberal Party wanted same-sex marriage legalized. Robredo is also an avid Catholic church-goer, but she also takes moral and legal standards into consideration. According to her statement, these standards must be protected by the church and the state. This statement was taken from her interview in November issue of Esquire.

However, the Catholic Church in the Philippines is not in favour of legalizing same-sex marriage. Archbishop Socrates Villegas, President of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, is against same-sex marriage legalization and urge Filipinos to do the same.

Senator Juan Ponce Enrile also supports Pacquiao’s stand on same-sex marriage. Enrile is confident that Pacquiao will still win without the votes from LGBT community. On the other hand, presidential candidates, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Grace Poe have nothing against same-sex marriage and strongly support gender-equality.

Same sex marriage bill has once been proposed in Congress, but its approval is far from happening due to mixed speculations. For those who are supporting same-sex marriage, it is more than just being entitled to the right to marry regardless of gender preferences. It is more of having equal protection, which has nothing to do with one’s religious beliefs.

Same-sex marriage needs to be viewed from a legal perspective and it will definitely breed never-ending debates before it can be legalized. While the bill is still pending in Congress, people who are in favour of enacting the bill into a law should hope for the best and of course, prepare for the worst because in a conservative country where majority of the population are Catholics, this bill still has a long way to go.

Towns Become A Trash Magnet, Local Governments Face Environmental Charges

One thing that locals and tourists explore in a town or city is its sights to behold, but behind the picturesque façade lays another ugly face of corruption that seems to lurk everywhere. Towns have been competing against each other to win the coveted title for the cleanest and greenest, but a town with a huge volume of garbage is just a living mockery of every town’s aspiration to become a liveable place. The plan for putting up a sanitary landfill has not been materialized and there are a thousand and one reasons the sanitary landfill never came to existence. None of these reasons seem believable considering there is budget allocated for this project.

Due to failing to construct sanitary landfills, the local governments will be facing environmental charges. According to Mayor Juancho Alvarez of Ajuy, in Iloilo province, they wanted to put up a sanitary landfill, but the cost of construction and the volume of garbage were just overwhelming. Alvarez also added that in spite of the presence of materials recovery facility (MRF) that caters to five of the town’s 34 barangays, the facility just wouldn’t suffice.

Aside from the huge volume of garbage in Iloilo province, Cebu province is also facing the same problem with disposal and according to Mayor Joel Quiño of Compostela, Cebu, the local government was taking all available measures to dispose of the town’s garbage. Quiño added that they do not have the estimated P20 million to build a sanitary landfill.

There are 50 local government units (LGUs) that are currently under investigation for violating RA 9003. According to the law, towns are mandated to put up sanitary landfills, recycling and material recovery facilities. The officials who failed to comply with the standards for solid waste management have yet to answer complaints filed by the National Solid Waste Management Commission on February 10.

Under section 49 of republic Act 9003, the fines and penalties for violation are the following:

“Section 49. Fines and Penalties -

(a) Any person who violates Sec. 48 paragraph (1) shall, upon conviction, be punished with a fine of not less than Three hundred pesos (P300.00) but not more than One thousand pesos (P1,000.00) or render community service for not less than one (1) day to not more than fifteen (15) days to an LGU where such prohibited acts are committed, or both;

(b) Any person who violates Sec. 48, pars. (2) and (3), shall, upon conviction be punished with a fine of not less than Three hundred pesos (P300.00) but not more than One thousand pesos (P1,000.00) or imprisonment of not less than one (1) day but to not more than fifteen (15) days, or both;
(c) Any person who violates Sec. 48, pars. (4), (5), (6) and (7) shall, upon conviction, be punished with a fine of not less than One thousand pesos (P1,000.00) but not more than Three thousand pesos (P3,000.00) or imprisonment of not less than fifteen (15) day but to not more than six (6) months, or both;

(d) Any person who violates Sec. 48, pars (8), (9), (10) and (11) for the first time shall, upon conviction, pay a fine of Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) plus and amount not less than five percent (5%) but not more than ten percent (10%) of his net annual income during the previous year.

The additional penalty of imprisonment of a minimum period of one (1) year but not to exceed three (3) years at the discretion of the court, shall be imposed for second or subsequent violations of Sec. 48, pars. (9) and (10).

(e) Any person who violates Sec. 48, pars. (12) and (13) shall, upon conviction, be punished with a fine not less than Ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00) but not more than Two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00) or imprisonment of not less than thirty (30) days but not more than three (3) years, or both;

(f) Any person who violates Sec. 48, pars. (14), (15) and (16) shall, upon conviction, be punished with a fine not less than One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) but not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00), or imprisonment not less than one (1) year but not more than six (6) years, or both.”

Where Have All The Fees For LTO Stickers Gone?

We paid, they collected, we suffered. How about diving in a cesspool full of corrupt government officials waiting for another unsuspecting victim to prey on? P50 fee may not seem like a big deal but when this is paid for the supposed Land Transporation Office (LTO) stickers, you will wonder, where in the world did your money go? Did it just self-destruct or disappear into thin air after the people from LTO receive the fee? This excuse is tongue-in-cheek. Maybe the stickers are really existent except that only wise people can see them (talk about Emperor’s New Clothes). Let us know if that is the case and we will pretend that we do see those “special stickers”.

While the amount may not be something for a car owner to worry about, after all, it is just 50 pesos, but collectively, they are worth millions. These fees are collected from an estimated eight million car owners, and when the owners of registered vehicles came to collect the stickers, the agency known for its notoriety has nothing (as in zero) to show. The million dollar question is: where have all those fees gone?

It is easy to fabricate stories as to why the stickers are not yet available. These people from LTO can just tell car owners that the magical paper used for creating the stickers are not yet available. Of course, these car owners are not gullible to buy such a phony story. If you are already getting used to this kind of system, paying another P50 for “new stickers” may no longer be a big deal, but it does leave a bad taste in your mouth. How can you put your trust in these agencies when all they do is to scam people in many guises?

LTO is not only facing serious issues with releasing of stickers but license plates as well. They require motorists to pay the fee, but the stickers are not delivered. According to reports, LTO only released stickers for two-wheeled vehicles, but not for four-wheeled vehicles. This waiting game is going to test the motorists’ patience.

If you have keenly observed the number of years you have been paying for these stickers, you will come to realize that you have been completely ripped off. You were tricked into believing that these stickers really exist, but they are just a façade of the dark truth about unscrupulous fee collection that has been dragging LTO into the quagmire of corruption. From a far, these people looked as though they were drowning, but they are simply waving the fees they collected from motorists.

Beware Of Fake Police Clearances

Before you earn yourself a spot in a company, there are pre-employment requirements that you need to comply as part of the hiring process. One of which is securing a police clearance certificate. This document is also one of the essential requirements in applying for passport and other government IDs. The purpose of police clearance is to prove that the person does not have any criminal record in the police department. It can also be used as a replacement for NBI clearance, if it is not yet available. Applying for a police clearance certificate is pretty straightforward because all you have to do is to go to the nearest Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters and fill out the form.

Police clearance certificates are much easier to secure than NBI Clearance, where you have to wait long hours to secure a certificate. Before you can secure a police clearance, you need to fill out an application form, which is available at the PNP headquarters. You will also need to secure a Barangay clearance, recent cedula or community tax certificate and P100 as payment for the certificate. You will need to bring the original and photocopy of these documents. The PNP office will also capture your photo so you do not have to bring one. Your purpose of getting a Police Clearance must also be stated.

It is important that everyone is aware of the correct process of getting a police clearance to keep scammers at bay. Distributors of fake police clearances were recently busted due to issuing fake clearance certificates. When the fake police clearance was checked, it looked like the genuine copy of the certificate. It even bore the signature of Police Chief Inspector Rogelio De Lumen, who is the chief of QCPD’s Warrant and Subpoena Section, and Police Chief Supt. Edgardo G. Tinio, QCPD director.

These fake police clearances are sold at P300, which is unusually higher than the actual cost of getting a clearance certificate from the PNP office. The said arrest took place when one applicant complained about the overpricing of the said document. Public documents can be easily copied as the distributors have the necessary tools and access for reproducing them. For an unsuspecting victim, these police clearances sure appear to be genuine. The public is advised to be keen on checking the document’s authenticity. Fixers often offer to process your documents, assuring you of a shorter processing time for a much higher price. The inconvenience can be avoided once you know where police clearances must be secured.

Identifying Fake Land Titles From Real Ones Only Takes A Few Seconds

Real estate regulations have already been put in place to reduce if not eradicate cases of land scams in the Philippines. Unfortunately, these regulations cannot deter scammers from victimizing individuals who only want to make a wise investment by means of purchasing real estate property. For unsuspecting buyers, being presented with a land title is enough to win their trust. What else could go wrong when buyers already see hard proof that a piece of land has undergone a correct legal process or so they thought.

With the alarming numbers of cases where hapless and unsuspecting victims fall prey to fake land title scams, being keen on land title details is a skill every land buyer should possess. If you have just caught a glimpse of what a land title looks like without taking some time to inspect every detail, you can subject yourself into a confusing situation once you are presented with a land title. However, when you arm yourself with appropriate knowledge on identifying fake from authentic land titles, then there is no reason you cannot be on the right track.

Check The Titles’ Physical Quality

One thing that sets authentic land titles from fake ones is their identifying marks. While fake titles may appear to be an exact replica of its authentic counterpart, there are physical qualities that make authentic land titles distinct. This means that no matter how skilled a scam artist may become in copying land title, they just cannot easily copy or duplicate the authentic land title’s physical quality.

Never mistake fake land titles for authentic ones by checking these following physical qualities:

•    The color of an old title is light yellow, but for new titles or e-Titles, the color should be pale straw.
•    The texture can be compared to a bank check.
•    Faint watermark that reads “LRA” can be seen on the title.
•    Dots and tiny fibers are visible.
•    The fibers shine slightly when under UV light.

There are also key details on the land title that must be present to verify its authenticity. An original certificate of title (OCT) should bear “Judicial Form No. 108-D” at the top. For a Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT), it should have “Judicial Form No. 109-D”. A red serial number label and black for the owner’s duplicate must be present. For the last two digits of the page number, which can be found on the upper right hand side of the title, it should correspond to the last two digits of the TCT number. The red or blue border is slightly embossed and not flatly printed.

For e-Titles, the information should be encoded and printed. For both new and old titles, there should be a dark red seal on the lower left hand side that should not blot even when tested with a little amount of water.  The land title should consist of 2 signatures from the Administrator and the Registrar. However, the Registrar’s signature must be present in TCT. Administrative titles should bear one signature from CENRO or PENRO officer and another signature from the registrar.

Tax-Exempt Value For Balikbayan Boxes Raised To 150,000

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who are trying their luck in other countries to seek greener pasture and to make dreams and aspirations of their family a reality always carry a heavy heart, knowing they are thousand miles away from their loved ones. Aside from taking advantage of modern technologies to speak with their loved ones, another way of showing their love is by means of sending Balikbayan boxes. It takes months to fill these boxes and raising tax-exempt value for these Balikbayan boxes is good news. Senator Ralph Recto authored Bill 2913 and before the bill was approved tax-exempt value only applied to boxes with contents more than P10,000.

OFW can also send two boxes at a time, but they must keep in mind that they can only enjoy this privilege up to three times in a calendar year. If an OFW sends two boxes which are not more than P150,000, these boxes are counted as one. Recto also reminds OFW that the boxes should only contain personal and household effects. They should not be intended for sale or barter.

Here is an overview of the bill’s explanatory note:

“Article XIII, Section 3 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution declared that the State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all. In recognition of this policy, Congress has enacted laws that  promote, protect and ensure full protection to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). In recognition of the significant contributions of OFWs and other Filipinos residing abroad to the Philippine economy through their foreign exchange remittances, the Government afforded some benefits and privileges to them such as those provided under the Republic Act No. 6768, as amended by Republic Act No. 9174, otherwise known as the "Balikbayan Program." Under the program, the "balikbayans" and their families shall be entitled to tax-exempt maximum purchase in the amount of One Thousand Five Hundred United States dollars (US$ 1,500.00) or its equivalent in Philippine peso and in other foreign currencies at all government-owned and-controlled/operated duty-free shops, and Kabuhayan shopping privilege and additional tax-exempt purchase in the maximum amount of Two Thousand United States dollars (US$ 2,000.00) or its equivalent in Philippine peso and other acceptable foreign currencies, exclusive for the purchase of livelihood tools at all government-owned and controlled/operated duty-free shops.

Section 105 (f) of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP), as amended by Executive Order No. 206, includes in the list of conditionally-free importations the personal and household effects of residents of the Philippines returning from abroad which shall neither be in commercial quantities nor intended for barter, sale or hire and that the total dutiable value of which shall not exceed Ten Thousand Pesos (10,000).”

P2000 Pension Hike Rejected: Where Do We Go From Here?

Following the President’s veto of the bill, which proposed a P2000 hike, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. seeks approval for a P1000 increase for the Social Security System (SSS) pensioners. This proposal can be carried out following the executive action. The passage of the bill will also accompany the proposal using the same powers vested in SSS and GSIS board. The bill that Belmonte was referring to, has already been approved on third and final reading, and just awaiting approval at the Senate.

The amendments of Republic Act No. 1162 or the Social Security Law is outlined in Sec. 12-B of the Presidential Decree No. 1636.

“Sec. 12-B.    Retirement benefits. —

(a) A covered employee who had paid at least one hundred twenty monthly contributions prior to the semester of retirement; and who (1) has reached the age of sixty years and is not receiving monthly compensation of at least three hundred pesos, or (2) has reached the age of sixty-five years, shall be entitled for as long as he lives to the monthly pension: Provided, That his dependents born before his retirement of a marriage subsisting when he was fifty-seven years old shall be entitled to the dependents' pension.

(b)    A covered member who is sixty years old at retirement and who does not qualify for pension benefits under paragraph (a) above, shall be entitled to a lump sum benefit equal to the total contributions paid by him and on his behalf; Provided, That he is separated from employment and is not continuing payment of contributions to the SSS on his own.

(c)    The monthly pension shall be reduced upon the re-employment of a retired employee who is less than sixty-five years old by an amount equivalent to one-half his earnings over three hundred pesos. He shall again be subject to section eighteen and his employer to section nineteen of this Act.

(d)    Upon the death of the retired employee pensioner, his primary beneficiaries shall be entitled to eighty percent of the monthly pension and his dependents to the dependent' pension: Provided, That if he has no primary beneficiaries and he dies within sixty months from the start of his monthly pension, his secondary beneficiaries shall be entitled to a lump sum benefit equivalent to the smaller of (1) twenty times the monthly pension or (2) the difference of sixty times the monthly pension and the total monthly pensions paid by the SSS excluding the dependents' pension."

Red Light As Courts Stop Uber And Grabcar

It is going to be bad news for the commuting public as the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) orders two government agencies DOTC and LTFRB to stop accepting applications or approving applications from motor vehicles, which are considered public utility vehicles under the Transport Network Vehicle Services scheme. Uber and GrabCar are two of the companies that are greatly affected when the temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued. 

When Uber and GrabCar operated, taxi operators and drivers are affected due to the decrease in their income. The 20-day TRO intends to stop accepting, processing and approving applications of those who want to establish partnership with GrabCar and Uber. 

Transport advocate groups are not happy with the fact that Uber and GrabCar are allowed to operate without franchises. The group wishes to protect the rights of public utility vehicles with franchises. Taxi drivers also cry foul as dissatisfied and ripped off customers have suddenly preferred Uber, Grab and other ride sharing or app-based services.

These services are a huge help in terms of meeting transport demands and with the issuance of TRO, the efficiency in transportation becomes a difficult thing to achieve. The TRO does not apply to on-going operations of Uber and GrabCar. Its sole purpose is to stop various government offices from accepting applications while TRO is still being served. 

The replete definition and purpose of Temporary Restraining Order can be found in administrative Circular No. 20-95:

“[1] Where an application for Temporary Restraining Order [TRO] or writ of preliminary injunction is included in a complaint or any initiatory pleading filed with the trial court, such complaint or initiatory pleading shall be raffled only after notice to the adverse party and in the presence of such party or counsel. 

[2] The application for a TRO shall be acted upon only after all parties are heard in a summary haering conducted within twenty-four [24] hours after the records are transmitted to the branch selected by raffle. The records shall be transmitted immediately after raffle. 

[3]  If the matter is of extreme urgency, such that unless a TRO is issued, grave injustice and irreparable injury will arise, the Executive Judge shall issue the TRO efective only for seventy-two [72] hours from issuance but shall immediately summon the parties for conference and immediately raffle the case in their presence. Thereafter, before the expiry of the seventy-two [72] hours, the Presiding Judge to whom the case is assigned shall conduct a summary hearing to determine whether the TRO can be extended for another period until a hearing in the pending application for preliminary injunction can be conducted. In no case shall the total period of the TRO exceed twenty [20] days, including the original seventy-two [72] hours, for the TRO issued by the Executive Judge.

[4] With the exception of the provisions which necessarily involve multiple-sala stations, these rules shall apply to single-sala stations especially with regard to immediate notice to all parties of all applications for TRO.”

APEC: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

This year, the Philippines hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and while it aimed to foster camaraderie and unity among participating nations, it continues to torment Juan Dela Cruz as though a daily dose of traffic woes is not enough to show the worsening traffic situation in the country.  People has taken their litany of complaints to social media with hashtags #APECfail, #APECtado, #APECtraffic and you do not need a regular update of the traffic situation because the status updates you get in rapid succession are enough to describe the horrifying truth that Leaders are so desperate to hide. 

It was a week filled with pretense as the government leaders tried to put their best foot forward. It only takes a week to hide the vicious cycle and the harsh truth,  that is poverty. It continues to plague the country, but in just a matter of weeks, the homeless families were taken off the streets of Metro Manila. They were provided with a dingy shelter to roost in so the city will look “pleasing” to the eyes of foreign visitors. 

This goes to show that everyone in the government office has an active participation in the preparation for APEC meeting from November 17 to 20 and with that said, the government claimed they have not ordered flight cancellations as it was the ‘call of the airlines’. According to Quezon City Representative Winston Castelo, flight cancellations can be detrimental to the economy. Acting Metro Manila Authority head Emerson Carlos said that measures will be put in place to ensure that major roads are passable for APEC delegates. From a bird’s eye view, you can clearly see the huge difference between the roads intended for APEC delegates and the roads for the locals. 

November 18 and 19 has also been declared special non-working days and the following pay rules are observed upon issuing Labor Advisory No. 14 of 2015 by Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz.

“If the employee did not work:

He/she will not be paid, unless there is a favourable company policy, practice, or collective bargaining agreement (CBA) grantingpayment of wages on 17-20 November; and

When the employee has accrued leave credits, he/she may be allowed to utilize such leave so that he/she will have compensation on said days.

If the employee worked:

No additional pay is given to the employee, but only their salary on said day.”

“The following pay rules shall apply for private sector workers in NCR from 18 to 19 November 2015:

If the employee did not work, the “no-work, no-pay” principle shall apply, unless there is a favorable company policy, practice, or collective bargaining agreement (CBA) granting payment on a special day;

If the employee worked, he or she shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his or her daily rate on the first eight hours of work [(daily rate x 130 percent) + COLA];

If the employee worked in excess of 8 hours (overtime work), he or she shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his or her hourly rate on said day (hourly rate of the basic daily wage x 130 percent x 130 percent x number of hours worked);

If the employee worked during a special day that also falls on his or her rest day, he or she shall be paid an additional 50 percent of his or her daily rate on the first 8 hours of work [(daily rate x 150 percent) + COLA];

If the employee worked in excess of 8 hours (overtime work) during a special day that also falls on his or her rest day, he or she shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his or her hourly rate on said day (hourly rate of the basic daily wage x 150 percent x 130 percent x number of hours worked).”

The Alarming Truth On Bullet Planting Scheme In NAIA

The alarming increase of bullet planting scam cases is indeed an unsettling news knowing the fact that anyone can be caught carrying bullets in their bags. A plethora of speculations have been heard but the truth remains in the dark. It is just another blame game that almost everyone can play at. While authorities are investigating on this matter, people just cannot help putting the blame on anyone who has access to their luggage. Anyone can be a suspect: the guards, taxi drivers, airport security personnel and porters. 

While the case remains unsolved, the livelihood of those who are working in and around the airport is also at risk. Passengers are also creating their own safety measures to avoid falling prey to the bullet planting scheme. Without a doubt, the luggage wrapping services at NAIA are becoming a lucrative business considering the fact that many passengers have become more vigilant.

Passengers who are caught carrying live bullets or ammunition in their bags violate Republic Act No. 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, which states that “It is the policy of the State to maintain peace and order and protect the people against violence. The State also recognizes the right of its qualified citizens to self-defense through, when it is the reasonable means to repel the unlawful aggression under the circumstances, the use of firearms. Towards this end, the State shall provide for a comprehensive law regulating the ownership, possession, carrying, manufacture, dealing in and importation of firearms, ammunition, or parts thereof, in order to provide legal support to law enforcement agencies in their campaign against crime, stop the proliferation of illegal firearms or weapons and the illegal manufacture of firearms or weapons, ammunition and parts thereof.”

The bullet planting cases in 2015 has a total of 1394 and still counting. While there are some passengers who admit to carrying live bullets in their bags due to superstition, others are completely clueless how the bullets got in their bags.  There are lingering questions that remain unanswered and this issue will continue to be a guessing game for everyone unless the people who are responsible for this bullet planting scheme is incarcerated. 

There are political figures who have already offered legal aid to the victims. If abuse of power and extortion are the reasons for the prevalence of bullet planting, the passengers must also consider safety measures for their protection. 

In the event an official claims to find a bullet in a passenger's bag, the passenger has the right to delay immediate opening of the bag, summon presence of the official’s supervisor and obtain lawyer’s presence or third party witnesses.  Keep in mind that no officer can force you to be a witness against yourself. If you are coerced into admitting ownership of the planted bullet, you have the right to remain silent. Any admission without the presence of a lawyer is considered inadmissible in court. If you are required to pay in exchange of your freedom, simply refer to Section 9 of the Republic Act No. 3019 or Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

“Penalties for violations. (a) Any public officer or private person committing any of the unlawful acts or omissions enumerated in Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 of this Act shall be punished with imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than ten years, perpetual disqualification from public office, and confiscation or forfeiture in favor of the Government of any prohibited interest and unexplained wealth manifestly out of proportion to his salary and other lawful income.”

Strange Laws You Never Knew Existed: Part 8 Of 15 Squatting Is Not Considered A Crime

In a country where poverty is one of the biggest challenges that the government faces, you just cannot turn a blind eye on squatters, which are clear and undeniable proof that something needs to be done when it comes to finding these individuals a better place to roost in. Past and present administrations have continued to delve deeper into the root cause of the growing numbers of squatters in and around Metro Manila. 

It constantly ignites a spark of controversy and many fingers have been pointed at the present administration. In the hopes of giving equal rights to the less fortunate, Republic Act 8368 or better known as the “Anti-Squatting Law Repeal Act of 1997” repealed Presidential Decree No. 772. The Presidential Decree penalized squatting and with the repeal act, squatting is deemed a non-crime due to the fact that the squatters themselves are also victims of injustice and unequal social system. 

Under Section 2 of Presidential Decree No. 772, “Any person who, with the use of force, intimidation or threat, or taking advantage of the absence or tolerance of the landowner, succeeds in occupying or possessing the property of the latter against his will for residential commercial or any other purposes, shall be punished by an imprisonment ranging from six months to one year or a fine of not less than one thousand nor more than five thousand pesos at the discretion of the court, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.”

Land owners may slightly have a clue which side this Republic Act is on and as a consolation the act does not exempt the so-called professional syndicates and squatters. The squatting syndicates refer to groups of people who are engaged in squatting housing business for their personal gain or profit. Professional squatters are individuals or groups who occupy the land without permission from the landowner. They are referred to as professional squatters because they have sufficient income for legitimate housing. People who have sold their housing units or homelots awarded by the government and chosen to settle illegally in the same place are also considered professional squatters. This law can be found in Republic Act 7279 or the “ Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.” 

Under Section 16 of the Republic Act:

“Sec.  16. Eligibility Criteria for Socialized Housing Program Beneficiaries. — To qualify for the socialized housing program, a beneficiary: 

(a) Must be a Filipino citizen; 

(b) Must be an underprivileged and homeless citizen, as defined in Section 3 of this Act; 

(c) Must not own any real property whether in the urban or rural areas; and 

(d) Must not be a professional squatter or a member of squatting syndicates.”

Strange Laws You Never Knew Existed: Part 7 Of 15 Drawing Of Lots Breaks An Election Tie

Elections provide voters a unique form or element of entertainment not only due to the list of candidates filing for certificate of candidacy, but also due to the complexities of the electoral system. Before the results are released, voters need to wait for several weeks as the canvassing of election results can be a long and tedious process. There will be disputes, which can delay the declaration process. 

The Philippine elections give voters some sort of confusion and excitement when two candidates have tied. Instead of undergoing another voting process, the tie is simply broken by drawing of lots. While this method may appear to be tongue-in-cheek, it is covered by Resolution No. 9648. “In case there are candidates receiving the same number of votes for the same position, the Board immediately notify the said candidates to appear before them for the drawing of lots to break the tie. The drawing of lots should be conducted within one (1) hour after issuance of notice by the Board of candidates concerned.” 

“The candidate who won in the drawing of lots and so proclaimed shall have the right to assume office in the same manner as if he had been elected by plurality of votes.”

This electoral system is also under Section 240 of the Omnibus Election Code: “Whenever it shall appear from the canvass that two or more candidates have received an equal and highest number of votes, or in cases where two or more candidates are to be elected for the same position and two or more candidates received the same number of votes for the last place in the number to be elected, the board of canvassers, after recording this fact in its minutes, shall by resolution, upon five days notice to all the tied candidates, hold a special public meeting at which the board of canvassers shall proceed to the drawing of lots of the candidates who have tied and shall proclaim as elected the candidates who may be favored by luck, and the candidates so proclaimed shall have the right to assume office in the same manner as if he had been elected by plurality of vote.”

During the 2013 general elections, San Teodoro, Oriental Mindoro mayoralty candidates tossed a coin to break the tie. Although this is considered an unconventional electoral system, it is not considered unique as there are states in the US that also follow the same method. 

Filing For Certificates Of Candidacy For Presidency And The 2016 National Elections

As you rivet to the TV screen, political campaign ads seem to remind voters that a few months from now, another person will lead the country. As the 2016 national elections approach, political aspirants are also making necessary preparations. On October 12, Commission on Elections (COMELEC) welcomed candidates who wished to pursue political seats. The filing for the Certificates of Candidacy (COC), has also been a source of entertainment for the nation. 

Aside from the familiar faces in Philippine government, there are also ordinary citizens who wish to give the presidential seat a try. These presidential hopefuls have platforms that are out of the ordinary. 

Under the Constitution, an individual can only aspire for the highest seat in the government if they meet the following criteria: 

1. natural born citizen of the Philippines

2. registered voter

3. able to read and write

4. at least 40 years of age on the day of election

5. resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years immediately preceding the election.

However, not everyone who files for certificate of candidacy for presidency is considered an official candidate. After filing, all of the candidates are subject for deliberation and it is then that the official candidates will be announced. 

Under Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code, “The Commission may motu proprio or upon a verified petition of an interested party, refuse to give due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy if it is shown that said certificate has been filed to put the election process in mockery or disrepute or to cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names of the registered candidates or by other circumstances or acts which clearly demonstrate that the candidate has no bona fide intention to run for the office for which the certificate of candidacy has been filed and thus prevent a faithful determination of the true will of the electorate.”

Under Section 72, “Any candidate who has been declared by final judgment to be disqualified shall not be voted for, and the votes cast for him shall not be counted. Nevertheless, if for any reason, a candidate is not declared by final judgment before an election to be disqualified and he is voted for and receives the winning number of votes in such election, his violation of the provisions of the preceding sections shall not prevent his proclamation and assumption to office.”

According to COMELEC, an independent candidate can also be considered nuisance if they do not have the capacity to support a national campaign. While these independent candidates can be a form of entertainment considering the fact that national elections are filled with tension, stringent laws weed them out when the number of candidates filing for candidacy becomes out of control.

Strange Laws You Never Knew Existed: Part 5 of 15 Bank Secrecy Law

The Bank Secrecy Law really rings a bell and it is just a great reminder of the significant event  that ousted one of the Philippine presidents from his office in 2001. People clamored and took their turmoil to the streets of EDSA, hence EDSA 2 came to existence. The Filipino people were compared to a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode due to the refusal of the former president to open "the envelope". 

The refusal was enough to create social mayhem and endless outburst, which were appeased when the impeachment trial finally pushed through. Former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada was charged with plunder and perjury. While he was not guilty of perjury, he was found guilty of plunder and was sentenced to reclusion perpetua. Well, being an actor and protagonist that he was, there was not even the slightest element of surprise when the "plot" worked in his favor, placing him on house arrest. 

Juan dela Cruz should not wonder when a politician charged of a crime, suddenly becomes ill. When politicians are plagued with diseases after being found guilty of a crime,  you know what is going to happen next: the politician will be sent home on vacation or words to that effect. 

Under Section 2 of the Republic Act No. 1405 or An Act Of Prohibiting Disclosure Of Or Inquiry Into, Deposits With Any Banking Institution And Providing Penalty Therefor, "all deposits of whatever nature with banks or banking institutions in the Philippines including investments in bonds issued by the Government of the Philippines, its political subdivisions and its instrumentalities, are hereby considered as of an absolutely confidential nature and may not be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office, except upon written permission of depositor, or in cases of impeachment or upon order of a competent court..."

Under Section 2 of the Republic Act No. 6426 or An Act Instituting Foreign Currency Deposit System In The Philippines, And For Other Purposes, "any person, natural or juridical, may, in accordance with the provisions of this Act, deposit with such Philippine banks in good standing, as may, upon application, be designated by the Central Bank for the purpose, foreign currencies which are acceptable as part of the international reserve, except those which are required by the Central Bank..."

With this law, any politician accused of plunder or perjury stands a chance of getting out of this situation scot-free. They can simply put up a facade as though nothing happened and after which, they are back to business. 



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