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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.

How Does A Person Get Compensated For Moral Damages?

There are things we often say or do that can hurt a person's feelings. Hurtful remarks can even destroy a person's reputation and it will take time to heal a wounded soul. This is why some people who have experienced serious anxiety,social humiliation and fright because of moral damages choose to take matters to court. You will only be awarded moral damages if such claims are supported by evidence. It is imperative for the claimant to establish the factual basis for claims to be considered valid. Article 2217 of the Civil Code of the Philippines refer to moral damages as "physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though incapable of pecuniary computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are the proximate result of the defendant's wrongful act for omission." Moral damages can be recovered if it meets the following conditions:

Art. 2218. In the adjudication of moral damages, the sentimental value of property, real or personal, may be considered.

Art. 2219. Moral damages may be recovered in the following and analogous cases:

(1) A criminal offense resulting in physical injuries;

(2) Quasi-delicts causing physical injuries;

(3) Seduction, abduction, rape, or other lascivious acts;

(4) Adultery or concubinage;

(5) Illegal or arbitrary detention or arrest;

(6) Illegal search;

(7) Libel, slander or any other form of defamation;

(8) Malicious prosecution;

(9) Acts mentioned in Article 309;

(10) Acts and actions referred to in Articles 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, and 35.

The parents of the female seduced, abducted, raped, or abused, referred to in No. 3 of this article, may also recover moral damages.

The spouse, descendants, ascendants, and brothers and sisters may bring the action mentioned in No. 9 of this article, in the order named.

Art. 2220. Willful injury to property may be a legal ground for awarding moral damages if the court should find that, under the circumstances, such damages are justly due. The same rule applies to breaches of contract where the defendant acted fraudulently or in bad faith. 

The Nature Of Slander And Libel

The advent of technology such as social media made it easy for rumor mongers and mud-slingers to spread lies and deceptions resulting in tainting an individual's reputation and dignity. These days, destroying a person can be done effortlessly, thanks to a plethora of social media platforms. Fortunately, these acts do not go unpunished because crimes against honor are penalised as stated under the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines. Whether spoken or written, a person who intends to dishonor or discredit a person is held liable for the crime of libel or slander. So, what are the nature and gravity of these crimes?

Art. 353. Definition of libel. — A libel is public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.

Art. 354. Requirement for publicity. — Every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is shown, except in the following cases:

1. A private communication made by any person to another in the performance of any legal, moral or social duty; and

2. A fair and true report, made in good faith, without any comments or remarks, of any judicial, legislative or other official proceedings which are not of confidential nature, or of any statement, report or speech delivered in said proceedings, or of any other act performed by public officers in the exercise of their functions.

Art. 355. Libel means by writings or similar means. — A libel committed by means of writing, printing, lithography, engraving, radio, phonograph, painting, theatrical exhibition, cinematographic exhibition, or any similar means, shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods or a fine ranging from 200 to 6,000 pesos, or both, in addition to the civil action which may be brought by the offended party.

Art. 356. Threatening to publish and offer to present such publication for a compensation. — The penalty of arresto mayor or a fine from 200 to 2,000 pesos, or both, shall be imposed upon any person who threatens another to publish a libel concerning him or the parents, spouse, child, or other members of the family of the latter or upon anyone who shall offer to prevent the publication of such libel for a compensation or money consideration.

Art. 357. Prohibited publication of acts referred to in the course of official proceedings. — The penalty of arresto mayor or a fine of from 20 to 2,000 pesos, or both, shall be imposed upon any reporter, editor or manager or a newspaper, daily or magazine, who shall publish facts connected with the private life of another and offensive to the honor, virtue and reputation of said person, even though said publication be made in connection with or under the pretext that it is necessary in the narration of any judicial or administrative proceedings wherein such facts have been mentioned.

Art. 358. Slander. — Oral defamation shall be punished by arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period if it is of a serious and insulting nature; otherwise the penalty shall be arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos.

Art. 359. Slander by deed. — The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from 200 to 1,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who shall perform any act not included and punished in this title, which shall cast dishonor, discredit or contempt upon another person. If said act is not of a serious nature, the penalty shall be arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos. 

Truth Be Told: Burden Of Proof And Presumptions

The pictorial maxim of three wise monkeys suggests that we should maintain good mind, speech and action. However, in today's world marred by deception, lies and pretensions, turning a blind eye is not an option.  In the digital age, turning to social media is like opening Pandora's box. You will be greeted by a smorgasbord of gossips, fake news and whatnot. 

However, reality does not get any better. You are judged based on your actions and that is the harsh truth everyone wants to hide in a sugar-coated lie. One would say that less talk means less mistake. When everyone is on the safe side, many people becomes a slave to mediocrity, which is quite boring unless you prefer to become completely dead to the world, unperturbed to what is happening around you. 

We are human microscopes prying something out of a hapless specimen. When you just want to call a spade a spade, it does not give you absolute freedom to spew the words without inflicting harm. Call it accusation or allegation, but it has a certain degree of damage that awakens law from its deep slumber.

You mince your words, but without evidence, it becomes a fabricated story...hearsay. The ears can be selective. It can twist your words and even make things more confusing than you know leaving a bad taste in your mouth. I rest my case.

Burden of Proof and Presumptions

Section 1. Burden of Proof… the Duty of a party to present evidence on the facts in issue necessary to establish his claim by the amount of evidence required by law. This is also known as the Onus Probandi

I. Introduction.

Relationship between allegation and proof. He who alleges must prove. Allegations do not prove themselves. Although plaintiff’s causes of actions are couched in the strongest terms and most persuasive language, the allegations are of no consequence unless they are substantiated. Similarly, in criminal cases, the offense and the aggravating circumstances charged in an Information remain just accusations until they are shown to be true by the presentation of evidence. Defendant is not relieved from liability simply because the raises a defenses. 

II. Distinguished from related concepts:

1. Burden of Proof Proper or Burden of Persuasion or Risk of Non Persuasion- the duty of the party alleging the case to prove it.

a). This lies with the plaintiff

b). This lies too with the defendant as to his defenses and counter-claim

2. Burden of Evidence or Burden of Going Forward- The duty or logical necessity imposed upon a party, at any time during the trial, to establish a prima facie case in his favor or to overcome a prima facie case against him

3. Points of distinction:

a). The former never shifts but remains constant with the party while the latter shifts from one party to the other as the trial progresses

b). In civil cases where it leis is determined by the pleadings while the latter is determined by the rules of logic.

III. Who has the Burden of Proof Proper

1. The general rule is- he who would lose the case if no evidence is presented. Hence it is the plaintiff as to his causes of action, and the defendant as to his counterclaim.

2. In criminal cases, the burden of proving guilt is always the plaintiff/prosecution. But if the accused sets up an affirmative defense, the burden is on him to prove such by “clear, affirmative and strong evidence” 

Can You File A Case Against Rumor-Mongers?

Bob Dylan used to say "old habits die hard: the things that are really not important are sometimes the hardest to give up". Perhaps the same principle applies to spreading gossips. When intrusion to someone's privacy becomes a habit, it begins to be part of your system. Although rumor-mongering seems to be a recreation to some, it can still be damaging to one's reputation as it can spread like wild fire. Before you know it, everyone in your community has already heard about a senseless rumor about you. What legal actions can you take against a person who spreads rumors?

Article 26, Chapter 2: Human Relations

"Art. 26. Every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons. The following and similar acts, though they may not constitute a criminal offense, shall produce a cause of action for damages, prevention and other relief:

(1) Prying into the privacy of another's residence:

(2) Meddling with or disturbing the private life or family relations of another;

(3) Intriguing to cause another to be alienated from his friends;

(4) Vexing or humiliating another on account of his religious beliefs, lowly station in life, place of birth, physical defect, or other personal condition.

Discussion/Explanation:

1. Duty to Respect Dignity and Privacy
This article enhances human digminty and personality. Social equity is noy sought, but due regard for decency and propriety.

2. Remedies
a. An action for damages
b. An action for prevention
c. Any other relief

A civil action may be instituted even if no crime is involved and moral damages may be obtained.

3. Scope
a. Prying into the privacy of another's residence- includes by the implication respect for another's name, picture, or personality except insofar as is needed fro publication of information and pictures of legitimate news value.

b. Meddling with or disturbing the private life or family relations of another- includes alienation of the affections of the husband or the wife. Thus a girl who makes love to a married man, even if there be no carnal relations, disturbs his family life, and damages may therefore be asked of her. Intriguing against another's honor is also included.

c. Intriguing to cause another to be alienated from his friends- includes gossiping, and reliance on hearsay.

d. Vexing or humiliating- includes criticism of one's health or features without justifiable legal cause. Religious freedom does not authorize anyone to heap obloquy and disrepute upon another by reason of the latter's religion."

Pointing A Dirty Finger: Is It Slander By Deed?

Regardless of our emotional state, our actions speak volumes. In the throes of anger, non-verbal cues can be considered to be an expression, but when you go overboard and carry your anger to extremes, you can be held liable for a crime of slander by deed. There is completely nothing wrong with expressing one’s emotional state so long as the actions are not aimed at someone. Slander by deed may seem like a new legal concept as oral defamation is commonly used to describe an individual who has spoken defamatory words which can affect another person’s reputation. What if a person pokes a dirty finger at another person, can the act be deemed as slander by deed?

As defined in Art. 359, “Slander by deed. — The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from 200 to 1,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who shall perform any act not included and punished in this title, which shall cast dishonor, discredit or contempt upon another person. If said act is not of a serious nature, the penalty shall be arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos.”

A person cannot be considered guilty of committing slander by deed without taking the nature of the complaint into consideration. If there was provocation on the part of the complainant, slander by deed has a lesser magnitude. Pointing a dirty finger is not held to be libelous. It is considered as a common expression used for expressing displeasure, turmoil, discontentment or anger. However, a person may be found guilty of grave oral defamation or slander by deed if the complainant did not contribute to the offender’s anger.

“Art. 361. Proof of the truth. — In every criminal prosecution for libel, the truth may be given in evidence to the court and if it appears that the matter charged as libelous is true, and, moreover, that it was published with good motives and for justifiable ends, the defendants shall be acquitted.
Proof of the truth of an imputation of an act or omission not constituting a crime shall not be admitted, unless the imputation shall have been made against Government employees with respect to facts related to the discharge of their official duties.
In such cases if the defendant proves the truth of the imputation made by him, he shall be acquitted.

Art. 362. Libelous remarks. — Libelous remarks or comments connected with the matter privileged under the provisions of Article 354, if made with malice, shall not exempt the author thereof nor the editor or managing editor of a newspaper from criminal liability.”

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