Attorneys of the Philippines Legal News

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A Stiffer Penalty For Publishing False News

Nowadays, people have instant access to information by just turning to social media. Your newsfeed can be flooded by all types of news including those that are unverified. Sharing or liking a post regardless of its source, seems like the norm these days. It can't be wrong when everyone is doing it right? Wrong. Just because we are living in the digital age does not mean that everything we stumble upon the Internet is 100% true.

Some of them are half-baked facts (if it could still be called a fact). For instance, there are many warnings circulating around SocMed about products with deadly ingredients, insane people who are spreading diseases and whatnot. Some who are not completely aware of the sources of these articles or hoax for that matter, will share it in the hopes of raising awareness. I myself have received a lot of false news, but it does not hurt to verify before you click the 'share' button. 

Since sharing or publishing false news can endanger the public, President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the new law imposing a stiffer penalty to any person who publishes false news by means of printing, lithography and any other means of publication. The President has signed Republic Act (RA) 10951, amending fines and amounts under the Revised Penal Code, which has been in existence for 87 years. 

Aside from a fine of P200,000, those who violate the law will face imprisonment for up to six months. The amendment can be found under Section 18, Article 154 of RA 10951 otherwise known as An Act Adjusting The Amount Or The Value Of Property And Damage Which A Penalty Is Based And The Fines Imposed Under The Revised Penal Code Amending For The Purpose Act No. 3815.

Art. 154. Unlawful us of means of publication and unlawful utterances. -The penalty of arresto mayor and a fine ranging from Forty thousand pesos (P40,000) to Two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000) shall be imposed upon:

"1. Any person who by means of printing, lithography, or any other means of publication shall publish or cause to be published as news any false news which may endanger public order, or cause damage to the interest or credit of the State;

"2. Any person who by the same means, or by words, utterances or speeches shall encourage disobedience to the law or to be constituted authorities or praise justify, or extol any act punished by law;

"3. Any person who shall maliciously publish or cause to be published any official resolution or document without proper authority, or before they have been published officially; or 

"4. Any person who shall print, publish, or distribute or cause to be printed, published, or distributed books, pamphlets, periodicals, or leaflets which do not bear the real printer's name, or which are classified as anonymous."

Forgery: A Serious and Punishable Offense

An individual commits a crime of forgery if the signature in the negotiable instrument is forged without the consent of the authorized person. Many people have fallen victim to fraudulent transactions despite precautionary measures. Although most people rely heavily on a person’s ability to produce trustworthy documents, individuals, businesses and even political entities are still not spared from the crime of forgery.

Forgery is committed when:

•    a person signs in another’s name with the intent to defraud;
•    a person alters the name, amount or payee’s name with intent to defraud.

Although a crime of forgery is committed, only the forged signature is considered invalid. The instrument and the genuine signatures are still deemed valid. When it comes to payment under a forged instrument, the person whose signature is forged will not be held liable for the fraudulent transaction except for those who are negligent or those who impliedly ratified the forgery. An example of negligent would be leaving your checkbook with an executive assistant. While the assistant have forged your signature, the mere fact that there was neglect on your part will still make you liable if transactions are made through your forged signature.

“Art. 169. How forgery is committed. — The forgery referred to in this section may be committed by any of the following means:

1. By giving to a treasury or bank note or any instrument, payable to bearer or order mentioned therein, the appearance of a true genuine document.
2. By erasing, substituting, counterfeiting or altering by any means the figures, letters, words or signs contained therein.

Section Four. — Falsification of legislative, public, commercial, and privatedocuments, and wireless, telegraph, and telephone message.

Art. 170. Falsification of legislative documents. — The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period and a fine not exceeding P6,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who, without proper authority therefor alters any bill, resolution, or ordinance enacted or approved or pending approval by either House of the Legislature or any provincial board or municipal council.

Art. 171. Falsification by public officer, employee or notary or ecclesiastic minister. — The penalty of prision mayor and a fine not to exceed P5,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any public officer, employee, or notary who, taking advantage of his official position, shall falsify a document by committing any of the following acts:

1. Counterfeiting or imitating any handwriting, signature or rubric;
2. Causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so participate;
3. Attributing to persons who have participated in an act or proceeding statements other than those in fact made by them;
4. Making untruthful statements in a narration of facts;
5. Altering true dates;
6. Making any alteration or intercalation in a genuine document which changes its meaning;
7. Issuing in an authenticated form a document purporting to be a copy of an original document when no such original exists, or including in such a copy a statement contrary to, or different from, that of the genuine original; or
8. Intercalating any instrument or note relative to the issuance thereof in a protocol, registry, or official book.

The same penalty shall be imposed upon any ecclesiastical minister who shall commit any of the offenses enumerated in the preceding paragraphs of this article, with respect to any record or document of such character that its falsification may affect the civil status of persons. “

Some Key Points When Buying A Property In The Philippines

Purchasing a property can be risky if you are completely clueless about the process that comes with it. If you think handing the money to the developer or property owner entitles you of a piece of land, you may have to obtain additional information because these days, it is easy to be duped by people who are preying on innocent real estate buyers. Just because you are a first-time buyer does not necessarily mean you should allow yourself to fall victim to scams. When buying a property, you can talk directly to the owner or transact with a developer. Acquiring a land may not be a walk in the park for some, if the process is not clear. The first step that a buyer needs to secure when buying a property from individual owners is to ensure that the Certificate of Title is genuine. Anyone can be tricked into believing that a Certificate of Title is genuine, but when you are extra careful, you can save yourself from the trouble and inconvenience.

To check whether the Certificate of Title is genuine, you need to secure a certified true copy of the title from the Register of Deeds. Before you can secure a certified true copy of the Title, you need to request for the title’s photocopy from the seller. Unless discussed, you have to see to it that the title is clean or free from any transaction that can lead to a problem with acquiring the land in the future. Transactions on that transpire on the land are annotated as a rule of thumb. If there are no annotations on the page, then the title is clean.

You will also have to validate at the Register of Deeds if the land you are planning to buy coincides with the description on the Title. There are technical descriptions in the title and a surveyor can help you out in checking if the description matches. Yearly real estate taxes must also be paid and updated. Once a property is sold, the government will impose quarterly payment of taxes. The payment can be negotiated by the seller and buyer. Make sure the sellers are the owner of the property. You may request for the sellers’ valid IDs so you can check if it matches the name in the title. Always verify information in the original title. You may also validate with authority figures if the sellers are the true owners of the property. If you are going to buy a property, which is not a residential subdivision such as beach lot, or raw land, you need to check with the DENR to know about the regulated use of the land.

Essential Legal Procedures In Transfer Of Title:

•    Once the owner and buyer agree on sale of a property, a Deed of Absolute Sales (DOAS) will be created and notarized through a lawyer.

•    It is necessary to secure a Land Tax Declaration from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and submit it to the city or municipal Assessor’s office.

•    The buyer will be the one to pay for the real estate tax to the City Treasurer’s Office.

•    The property’s market value will be assessed in the Assessor’s office.

•    The buyer pays the Transfer taxes to the Assessor’s office.

•    Documentary Stamp tax and Capital Gains tax will be paid to BIR.

•    The old title will be cancelled by the Registry of Deeds (RD) and the new one bearing the name of the buyer will be issued.

•    The buyer or the new owner obtains a photocopy of the new title and secures tax declaration from the Assessor’s office.

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.