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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.

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.

DOJ Supports Senate Bills Making Hazing A Crime

Fraternities, sororities and other organizations in and out of the campus consider hazing as an initiation rite. Whoever survives becomes a full-fledged member of an organization. Unfortunately, hazing has affected the lives of neophytes and their families due to the numerous cases of death. The bill, if enacted into a law will impose stiffer penalties against all kinds of hazing activities. Fraternities and sororities will also be closely monitored to ensure that this unacceptable initiation rite will be prevented from taking place. The Department of Justice (DOJ) supports House Bill 5760 and shares the same intention of putting a stop of fraternity violence, which is prevalent in the campus.

If this house bill will be enacted into a law, Republic Act No. 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law will be repealed. The bill will also provide restriction of community-based fraternities and the penal provisions will be more rigid. If the members and officers of the organization have been found guilty of committing a crime of hazing, they will pay a fine of P1 million and serve a sentence of 12 to 20 years in prison.  Members and officers who are under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol will pay a fine of P2 million. Life imprisonment will also be imposed upon them. There will be greater penalties if the hazing rite resulted in the death, mutilation, rape of any individual. There are several proposals related to the regulation of hazing and other forms of initiation rites. Two of which have been proposed by Senator Tito Sotto and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Here’s the summary of the current anti hazing law (R.A. 8049:

“Section 1. Hazing, as used in this Act, is an initiation rite or practice as a prerequisite for admission into membership in a fraternity, sorority or organization by placing the recruit, neophyte or applicant in some embarrassing or humiliating situations such as forcing him to do menial, silly, foolish and other similar tasks or activities or otherwise subjecting him to physical or psychological suffering or injury. 

The term "organization" shall include any club or the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Philippine Military Academy, or officer and cadet corp of the Citizen's Military Training and Citizen's Army Training. The physical, mental and psychological testing and training procedure and practices to determine and enhance the physical, mental and psychological fitness of prospective regular members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police as approved ny the Secretary of National Defense and the National Police Commission duly recommended by the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Director General of the Philippine National Police shall not be considered as hazing for the purposes of this Act. 

Sec. 2. No hazing or initiation rites in any form or manner by a fraternity, sorority or organization shall be allowed without prior written notice to the school authorities or head of organization seven (7) days before the conduct of such initiation. The written notice shall indicate the period of the initiation activities which shall not exceed three (3) days, shall include the names of those to be subjected to such activities, and shall further contain an undertaking that no physical violence be employed by anybody during such initiation rites. 

Sec. 3. The head of the school or organization or their representatives must assign at least two (2) representatives of the school or organization, as the case may be, to be present during the initiation. It is the duty of such representative to see to it that no physical harm of any kind shall be inflicted upon a recruit, neophyte or applicant.”

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.

It Is The Season For Mudslinging: Online Bashers May Face Legal Liability

If there is one routine that most people are stuck in, it is taking rants to social media at the same rate an individual changes clothes. During a social-media induced hysteria, your fingers seem to have a mind of their own. They think for themselves carrying one sole mission: to win the cyber word war. Online bashing or cyber bullying has become prevalent during the election period. Just visit one of the electoral candidate’s Facebook page and you will realize how a die-hard supporter can dominate the comments section.

Social media users enjoy basking in the glory of anonymity that it becomes an addiction like a druggie to cocaine. Online bashers can easily get out of this situation scot-free because they can create fake accounts and comment as they please. Unfortunately, these internet trolls just do not know when to stop because they know no limitations. They can post rude comments in rapid succession and get away with it.

These social media platforms have become an avenue for no-holds-barred expressions and a passive-aggressive way of venting out. Employees who are against their employer may choose to create a Facebook Group where they can freely express their turmoil and discontentment. These individuals can put up a façade and report to work as though everything is perfectly fine. Cyber bullying comes in many forms, but it yields the same negative result.

A bill that may soon put a stop to cyber bullying has been proposed by Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya. Anti-Cyber Bullying Act of 2015, if enacted into a law cyberbullies will receive a penalty between six months and six years imprisonment. They will also pay a fine of not less than P50,000 to a maximum of 100,000.

The following offenses are considered to be a violation of anti-cyber bullying act of 2015:

“a) Repeatedly sending offensive, rude and insulting message;

b) Distributing derogatory information about the victim;

c) Posting or sending offensive photos of the victim, whether these are digitally altered or not, or were taken with or without consent, with the intention to humiliate and embarrass the victim;

d) Breaking into an email, social networking or any electronic account and using the victim’s virtual identity to send, upload or distribute embarrassing materials to or about others;

e) Sharing the victim’s personal information or any embarrassing information, or tricking the victim into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sharing it to others; and

f) Repeatedly sending messages that include threats of harm or engaging in online activities that cause fear on the victim’s safety.”

Strange Laws You Never Knew Existed: Part 15 Of 15 You Can Legally Kill People

You can lose your temper once you reach your boiling point. It can be due to a number of reasons such as betrayal. What would you do if your spouse commits adultery? Some can easily forgive a person and start a new life, but there are those who just cannot bury the hatchet. This means they can put matters into their own hands by killing the person responsible for committing such a crime.

Article 247 states:

“ Death or physical injuries under exceptional circumstances. — Any legally married person who, having surprised his spouse in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person, shall kill any of them or both of them in the act or immediately thereafter, or shall inflict upon them any serious physical injuries, shall suffer the penalty of destierro.

If he shall inflict upon them physical injuries of any other kind, he shall be exempt from punishment.

These rules shall be applicable, under the same circumstances, to parents with respect to their daughters under eighteen years of age, and their seducers, while the daughters are living with their parents.

Any person who shall promote or facilitate the prostitution of his wife or daughter, or shall otherwise have consented to the infidelity of the other spouse, shall not be entitled to the benefits of this article.”

The law only applies if the following elements are present:

“1. The offender is any legally married person;

2. The offender surprises his spouse in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person;

3. The offender kills or seriously injures any or both of them;

4. The offender kills or seriously injures during the act of sexual intercourse or immediately thereafter.”

Free Yourself From The Shackles Of Credit Card Debt

Some people often say that credit cards are only intended for responsible adults who can handle finances properly. Without a doubt, credit cards offer convenience as you do not have to bring cash to pay for your purchases. However, this plastic money can show its sharp fangs and talons to those who are unable to make timely payments. Yes, it is a harmless card that provides you the privilege to make cashless payment, but you can be a slave to debt if you are not a responsible credit card holder. Some may think that the state of being indebted is a humiliating experience, but the truth is, it is a humbling experience as it teaches you one valuable lesson that can make you a better person if and only if you learn from it.

Credit card holders who are being harassed by collectors are a scenario that does not happen once in a super blue moon. There are lots of horror stories involving a credit card holder and a collection agency and if you do not know your rights as a cardholder, the experience can be debilitating. If you have received incessant calls demanding of a payment for your overdue credit card bills, take a deep breath and heave a sigh of relief as it is not the end of the world.

You do not have to make yourself suffer just because of a credit card debt. You can still become debt-free provided, you take full responsibility for mishandling your credit card finances. Some collectors may contact the credit card holder in the wee hours of the morning or late at night just to make the person pay the past due amount. Unless the cardholder has given permission to contact them during these times, calling the cardholder at inconvenient times is prohibited. This violation is under BSP Circular No. 702, Series of 2010.

Under Section 3 and 4 of the circular, the credit companies should do the following:

“1. notify the card holder in writing of the endorsement of the collection to an agency at least seven days before the actual endorsement;

2. give the defaulting credit card holder the name of the agent assigned to the account once they have endorsed the collection to a third-party;

3. change all disclosure documents and marketing materials so that they are printed in plain language and in bold black letters against a white background using the Arial font and a minimum 12 point font size. “

The consumer protection also indicates that a cardholder should also have the option to take advantage of various payment options. If the cardholder cannot pay the debt in full, other repayment plans should be available to them.

Credit card companies who fail to observe the procedures will receive the following sanctions:

“ First offense: Reprimand for the directors/officers responsible for the violation.

Second offense: Disqualification of the bank concerned from the credit facilities of the BSP except as may be allowed under Section 84 of R.A. No. 7653 (“New Central Bank Act”).

Subsequent offenses:

Prohibition on the bank concerned from the extension of additional credit accommodation against personal security; and
Penalties and sanctions under Sections 36 and 37 of RA 7653”

Candidates Who Can Offer Fast Internet Speed Can Win Voters’ Nods

When you have sluggish internet speed like that of a ghost dragging heavy chains, the first thing that comes to mind is to let your internet service lay to rest. Aside from the country’s traffic situation that will make you want to crawl in a big black hole, the slow internet speed is one of the reasons for Pinoy woes. These days, many individuals are relying heavily on internet for business and personal transactions.

Sluggish internet speed can have a negative impact on the economy. However, a strong and effective plan to address internet speed woes has not yet been formulated. Voters are also looking for digital leaders who can do something about the country’s slow internet speed. The internet service is one of the overlooked issues in the country, but little do these leaders know that students and entrepreneurs alike have heavy reliance on the internet.

The Kabataan Party Representative Terry Ridon proposed Free Public Wi-Fi Act or House Bill 5791. This house bill also aims to improve the internet service in the country and since a large number of voters are also turning to social media to get updates on election candidates, a faster internet speed can definitely address such concerns.

It is a sad fact that next to Afghanistan, the Philippines has the second slowest download speed among 22 countries in Asia. This is based on a 2015 study conducted by Ookla, an Internet Performance data provider. On average, the country can only offer 3.64 megabits per second (mbps) and this is not even half the average speed of other countries in the whole world. The cost of the Internet service also gives additional burden to subscribers.

The most number of internet users in the country belongs to young voters. This is why a presidential candidate who has the ability to put an end to the Internet woes of the country can be a good option to consider. Other countries such as Singapore have an average speed of 12.7 mbps and due to the fact that there are 44 million active users of various social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, our country is trailing behind.

Netizens who have long been hoping for a much reliable internet speed will surely breathe a sigh of relief if there is a digital leader who will take a stand and make a change. While pushing for fast internet speed may not be the all and end all of presidential campaigns, it can still make a huge difference.

A Tenant’s Guide To Eviction Law In The Philippines

Aside from knowing the essential elements of a rental contract, tenants and landlords are also interested to know the law on tenant eviction in the Philippines. The rental law varies from country to country and with that being said, tenant eviction cannot take place if it does not coincide with the local law.  More often than not, non-payment is the most common reason for tenant eviction but before a landlord can evict a tenant, certain obligations must also be taken into consideration.  A landlord must ensure that the unit is habitable. The owner must also be compliant with health laws and building statutes.

A property owner or landlord cannot evict a tenant immediately without delivering three day notice. It is against the law to change the locks without the tenant’s consent. If the tenant’s eviction is due to non-payment and the tenant decides to pay the rent, then the problem has been resolved. However, if the tenant refuses to pay or leaves the property, the issue will be taken to court. For both parties, the process can be very expensive and time-consuming.

A landlord must also keep in mind that eviction does not happen in an instant. If the tenant fails to pay for three consecutive months, the landlord has the right to sue the tenant. The landlord needs to wait for the tenant’s response to a writ given by the court indicating abandonment. The police will be the one to evict a tenant under court order.

Aside from non-payment, a landlord has the right to evict a tenant for subleasing a property or unit without prior consent from the landlord. If the landlord decides to repair or use the unit, the tenant must also vacate the property at a given time. In theory, the tenant is given three month formal notice, which can be delivered by mail or handed personally to the tenant. If the property will only undergo repair, the tenant has the right to rent the property again. For condemned buildings or units, the landlord should give a fifteen day notice to the tenant to leave the unit.

While it can be frustrating to evict a tenant who refuses to pay rent after the grace period, the landlord should not take the matter into his own hands. Instead, call the police to evict the tenant to avoid facing serious consequences. Landlords are also encouraged to make the tenant leave the property voluntarily because taking the matter to court is costly and can take so much of your precious time.

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.

What Every Tenant And Landlord Should Know About Rental Contracts In The Philippines?

Have you ever been told not to sign a contract without taking time to read the terms and conditions? While every contract is created in good faith, there are instances when conditions are not something that every tenant can agree on. Landlords and tenants may have verbal agreements, but these can be reversed in a written contract. Before signing a contract, take time to read the fine print and getting a property lawyer to help you understand the terms and conditions will also be a wise move. A contract is essential for both short-term and long-term rentals. It binds agreements and protects both parties in the event the contract is breached.

Before a tenant can rent a residential property, landlords will require a deposit. This is often referred to as security deposits. In most cases, the rules for security deposits are almost similar in many countries. The tenant is required to pay a fixed amount, which will be used for repairing damages that the tenant incurs. However, the landlord will pay the deposit back if there is no damage to the property.  Unfortunately, there is no way to prove that a tenant has left the property damage-free unless pictures were taken. This is why tenants must make an effort to take pictures when moving in as a way of documenting any damage that is already present prior to occupying the property. You can present the proof once the landlord inspects the rental property.

Aside from deposits, another area of concern for tenants is the security of the rental property. While this can be pretty subjective especially when this is based on the location where the property is situated, a tenant always looks for a property that can ensure their safety. To reduce the chances of being robbed, it is necessary to check the security measures of your prospective rental location. More often than not, condos are equipped with security cameras to closely monitor day-to-day activities.

In the previous years, tenants are protected by Rent Control Act of 2009, but this act has already expired on December 31, 2015.  Reading and understanding the elements of contracts are the tenant's and landlord's line of defense.

Vital Elements Of A Rental Contract

•    Responsible parties. All tenants or lessees must be listed to ensure that all the adult individuals on the contract are jointly liable for breach of contract.

•    Payment and deposit. The contract must also indicate all monetary provisions including the rental amount and the security deposit. The frequency of payment and the acceptable modes of payment must be included.

•    Summary of fees. Other fees must be outlined and the parties responsible for each should also be indicated.

•    Rules, limitations, policies and disclaimers. As a landlord, policies on pets, sub-letting and allowing visitors should be clearly stated. This way, the lessees are not going to feign ignorance in case issues related to rental agreements arise.

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."

LTO's Collection of 400 Million Pesos From Plate Stickers Remains A Mystery

The increasing number of vehicular accidents in the country is mainly due to the driver’s fault according to Land Transportation Office (LTO) statistics. In fact, about 80 percent of these accidents have been blamed on the driver’s carelessness. Is there any reason for the alarming increase of vehicular accidents? It all goes back to obtaining driver’s license where a series of tests is conducted to ensure that the driver is fit to drive. Unfortunately, “fixers” never cease to prey on people who want to take the shortest route for processing their application. This means, applicants no longer have to undergo the long and tedious process of undergoing medical, drug and driving tests.

Now, if these applicants have horrible eye sights, they will have trouble seeing traffic signs. Bypassing the drug test can also have a serious impact because letting users or pushers drive is already an accident waiting to happen. If an applicant undergoes the usual process for obtaining a license, they will also be required to take a written exam. Fixers already have pre-answered examination forms, which are given to the applicants who agree to the fixers’ terms.

The drivers, who have obtained their license legally, can go to war in full battle gear. They are prepared and well-trained because they know what to do. On the other hand, people who have only obtained their licenses with the help of fixers can be compared to a defenseless soldier. This is unfair to those who choose to wait for hours just to get their license. Imagine waiting in line while others have the ability to bypass these processes.

Aside from fixers, there are other problems that LTO has yet to face. How would you feel if your supposed sticker has not been registered or to put it bluntly, has been non-existent? You paid 50 pesos for the plate sticker in high hopes that your vehicle has been registered then lo and behold, you were duped!

Under the Aquino administration alone, LTO has already pocketed a whopping P410 million pesos from owners who are completely clueless. If you think the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) are doing the corruption indiscreetly, LTO has just broken the record.  LTO owes every vehicle owner an explanation. For just 50pesos, this agency has pocketed 410 million pesos and to say they have ripped everyone off is indeed an understatement. LTO will not refund the money, but they cannot even explain where the money went. The reasons are esoteric and mysterious, or perhaps, like the plate stickers, non-existent.

What You Need To Know Before Investing In A Condominium Unit?

People belonging to the working class often consider investing in a piece of real estate such as a condominium unit because of its flexible payment schemes that make everyone’s dream of owning a real estate property a reality. As you flip through the pages of the developer’s brochures or magazines, you are left in awe as the units epitomize the kind of modern life you want to live.

The price range of these condo units vary from location to location and while these infrastructures make a great investment, there are condo unit owners who had their own share of not-so-pleasant experiences of buying a condo unit.

What can be worse than condos that do not have parking slots? Some owners have to buy a separate lot that can accommodate their vehicle and this means shelling out vast amounts of money. Developers often overlook this one essential space that makes living in a condo more comfortable and hassle-free. Condo unit owners are not only ranting about the lack of parking slots but lost deposits as well.

Buying a condominium unit can be very tedious as you need to go through all kinds of problems and dealing with the agent is no exception. Finding out about lost deposits can burst one’s bubbles. This is why, buyers make it a point to follow up on the agent or track their purchase. These are just a few issues associated with buying a condo unit let alone living in it.

Republic Act No. 4726 Or The Condominium Act Is One Of The Laws Related To Condominium Ownership:

“Sec. 2. A condominium is an interest in real property consisting of separate interest in a unit in a residential, industrial or commercial building and an undivided interest in common, directly or indirectly, in the land on which it is located and in other common areas of the building. A condominium may include, in addition, a separate interest in other portions of such real property. Title to the common areas, including the land, or the appurtenant interests in such areas, may be held by a corporation specially formed for the purpose (hereinafter known as the "condominium corporation") in which the holders of separate interest shall automatically be members or shareholders, to the exclusion of others, in proportion to the appurtenant interest of their respective units in the common areas.”

Strange Laws You Never Knew Existed: Part 14 Of 15 Anti-Pana Law

Anti-pana law is one of the strangest laws that still exist up to this day. Perhaps, this law came to existence due to the number of “pana” incidents. This is still considered a deadly weapon and can be as dangerous as firearms. Now, there are people who use pana or arrow for livelihood and in this case, all they need to do is to secure a permit from the mayor in his city.

This law was made during the 1960s and this is referred to as the Republic Act No. 3553, or an Act to Prohibit the Possession of Deadly Arrow.

“Section 1. Any person who possesses a deadly arrow or "pana" without permit from a city, municipal, or municipal district mayor, shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of not less than thirty days nor more than six months. The phrase "deadly arrow or 'pana'" as used in this Act means any arrow or dart that when shot from a blow or slingshot can cause injury or death of a person.

Section 2. Any city, municipal or municipal district mayor may issue a permit to any individual to possess a deadly arrow or "pana" if such is to be used to earn a livelihood for such individual.

Section 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

Approved: June 21, 1963”

The Prohibited Acts During The Election Period

In the previous years, the election period starts in February, but it comes a month earlier this year. This means rules and regulations under Section 3 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) commences on January 10, which is 30 days in advance.

From January 10 to June 8, 2016, these following acts are prohibited:

•    Suspension of elective local officials;
•    bearing firearms and other deadly weapons, unless authorized by the Comelec, this is also referred to as the gun ban;
•    organization of reaction forces, strike forces, etc;
•    alteration of territory of a precinct, or the establishment of a new precinct;
•    use of security personnel/bodyguards by candidates, unless authorized by the Comelec;
•    transfer or movement of officers and employees in the civil service.

If one of these prohibitions is violated, it can be a ground for disqualification in case the offender is running for an elective public office.

The prohibited acts can be found under Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code:

“Sec. 261. Prohibited Acts. - The following shall be guilty of an election offense:

a. Vote-buying and vote-selling.
1.      Any person who gives, offers or promises money or anything of value, gives or promises any office or employment, franchise or grant, public or private, or makes or offers to make an expenditure, directly or indirectly, or cause an expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation, entity, or community in order to induce anyone or the public in general to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election, or to vote for or against any aspirant for the nomination or choice of a candidate in a convention or similar selection process of a political party.

2.     Any person, association, corporation, group or community who solicits or receives, directly or indirectly, any expenditure or promise of any office or employment, public or private, for any of the foregoing considerations.
b.    Conspiracy to bribe voters. - Two or more persons, whether candidates or not, who come to an agreement concerning the commission of any violation of paragraph (a) of this section and decide to commit it.

c.    Wagering upon result of election. - Any person who bets or wagers upon the outcome of, or any contingency connected with an election. Any money or thing of value or deposit of money or thing of value situated anywhere in the Philippines put as such bet or wager shall be forfeited to the government.

 d.   Coercion of subordinates.

1.    Any public officer, or any officer of any public or private corporation or association, or any head, superior, or administrator of any religious organization, or any employer or land-owner who coerces or intimidates or compels, or in any manner influence, directly or indirectly, any of his subordinates or members or parishioners or employees or house helpers, tenants, overseers, farm helpers, tillers, or lease holders to aid, campaign or vote for or against any candidate or any aspirant for the nomination or selection of candidates.

2.    Any public officer or any officer of any commercial, industrial, agricultural, economic or social enterprise or public or private corporation or association, or any head, superior or administrator of any religious organization, or any employer or landowner who dismisses or threatens to dismiss, punishes or threatens to punish be reducing his salary, wage or compensation, or by demotion, transfer, suspension, separation, excommunication, ejectment, or causing him annoyance in the performance of his job or in his membership, any subordinate member or affiliate, parishioner, employee or house helper, tenant, overseer, farm helper, tiller, or lease holder, for disobeying or not complying with any of the acts ordered by the former to aid, campaign or vote for or against any candidate, or any aspirant for the nomination or selection of candidates.

e. Threats, intimidation, terrorism, use of fraudulent device or other forms of coercion. - Any person who, directly or indirectly, threatens, intimidates or actually causes, inflicts or produces any violence, injury, punishment, damage, loss or disadvantage upon any person or persons or that of the immediate members of his family, his honor or property, or uses any fraudulent device or scheme to compel or induce the registration or refraining from registration of any voter, or the participation in a campaign or refraining or desistance from any campaign, or the casting of any vote or omission to vote, or any promise of such registration, campaign, vote, or omission therefrom.

f. Coercion of election officials and employees. - Any person who, directly or indirectly, threatens, intimidates, terrorizes or coerces any election official or employee in the performance of his election functions or duties.”

The detailed list of prohibited acts can be found in the official website of Comelec.



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