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.

The Benefits That Solo Parents Can Get According To RA 8972

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Use Of Surnames

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Art. 370. A married woman may use:

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

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

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

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

      (1) The court decrees otherwise, or

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forcible Abduction: The Elements And Penalties

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foreign Corporations: The Law On Doing Business In The Philippines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


No. Under Article 12 of the RPC:

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

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

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

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

Warrantless Arrest: When Can It Be Lawful?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Supreme Court summarizes the rule as follows:

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

1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest;

2. Search of evidence in “plain view;”

3. Search of a moving vehicle;

4. Consented warrantless search;

5. Customs search;

6. Stop and Frisk; and

7. Exigent and emergency circumstances.

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

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

The Crime Of Usurpation Of Authority

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(b) The simplification of the issues;

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

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

(e) The limitation of the number of witnesses;

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

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

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

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

Passport Validity Extended To 10 Years

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

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

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

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

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

People Are More Comfortable Expressing Dismay On Social Media Than Settling Disputes At The Barangay Level

Social media networks have been our virtual friends and a replacement for real-life social interaction. We express our discontentment, happiness, disappointment, sadness and other forms of emotion through social media, hoping we can get some sense of validation and comfort from our friends. Our newsfeed is often filled with clamours from one of our friends. We laugh at random thoughts and musings, get annoyed by endless whining and complaints. We hate being confronted by statuses about an individual's perpetual problem when they know for a fact that social media networks cannot provide cyber counselling. On a different note, the social media has been instrumental to change. It has become purveyors of good news, but we should not also deny instances that we have been swayed by fake news all because they are worthy of sharing. Now even disputes that are supposed to be settled at barangay level may find its way to our newsfeed. We hear people asking for assistance despite the presence of barangay officials. 

Is this really the norm these days? Are people not aware of the existence of barangay justice system? While there are Barangay officials who are fulfilling their duty to maintain peace and order in each barangay, there are officials who are not giving proper assistance to people filing cases despite numerous instances of follow-ups. Presidential Decree No. 1508 repealed by Republic Act 7160, is intended to establish a system where people can settle disputes at the barangay level. This system is known as Lupong Tagapayapa composed of the Barangay Chairman, who will act as the head of the Lupon. According to the law, "The Lupon shall exercise administrative supervision over the conciliation panels hereinafter provided for. It shall meet regularly once a month (1) to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas among its members and the public on matters relevant to the amicable settlement of disputes; and (2) to enable the various panels to share with one another their observation and experiences in effecting speedy resolution of disputes."

It is quite understandable that some people are more comfortable approaching city mayors, police authorities and the like as they do not know the subject matters that can be settled by barangay officials. Section 408 of Republic Act 7160 otherwise known as Local Government Code of 1991 states that "each barangay shall have authority to bring together the parties actually residing in the same city or municipality for amicable settlement of ALL disputes except:

(a) Where one party is the government, or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof;

(b) Where one party is a public officer or employee, and the dispute relates to the performance of his official functions;

(c) Offenses punishable by imprisonment exceeding one (1) year or a fine exceeding Five thousand pesos (P5,000.00);

(d) Offenses where there is no private offended party;

(e) Where the dispute involves real properties located in different cities or municipalities unless the parties thereto agree to submit their differences to amicable settlement by an appropriate lupon;

(f) Disputes involving parties who actually reside in barangays of different cities or municipalities, except where such barangay units adjoin each other and the parties thereto agree to submit their differences to amicable settlement by an appropriate lupon;

(g) Such other classes of disputes which the President may determine in the interest of Justice or upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Justice.

The court in which non-criminal cases not falling within the authority of the lupon under this Code are filed may, at any time before trial motu propio refer the case to the lupon concerned for amicable settlement.

We should also note that the barangay officials have no authority over the following disputes:

"1. involving parties who actually reside in barangays of different cities or municipalities, except where such barangays adjoin each other; and

 2. involving real property located in different municipalities."

Before we approach other city officials and authorities, the procedure for amicable settlement must also be taken into account. It is important to assess if the following has already been done by the Barangay Chairman:

"(a) Who may initiate proceeding - Upon payment of the appropriate filing fee, any individual who has a cause of action against another individual involving any matter within the authority of the lupon may complain, orally or in writing, to the lupon chairman of the barangay.

(b) Mediation by lupon chairman - Upon receipt of the complaint, the lupon chairman shall within the next working day summon the respondent(s), with notice to the complainant(s) for them and their witnesses to appear before him for a mediation of their conflicting interests. If he fails in his mediation effort within fifteen (15) days from the first meeting of the parties before him, he shall forthwith set a date for the constitution of the pangkat in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter.

(c) Suspension of prescriptive period of offenses - While the dispute is under mediation, conciliation, or arbitration, the prescriptive periods for offenses and cause of action under existing laws shall be interrupted upon filing the complaint with the punong barangay. The prescriptive periods shall resume upon receipt by the complainant of the complainant or the certificate of repudiation or of the certification to file action issued by the lupon or pangkat secretary: Provided, however, That such interruption shall not exceed sixty (60) days from the filing of the complaint with the punong barangay.

(d) Issuance of summons; hearing; grounds for disqualification - The pangkat shall convene not later than three (3) days from its constitution, on the day and hour set by the lupon chairman, to hear both parties and their witnesses, simplify issues, and explore all possibilities for amicable settlement. For this purpose, the pangkat may issue summons for the personal appearance of parties and witnesses before it. In the event that a party moves to disqualify any member of the pangkat by reason of relationship, bias, interest, or any other similar grounds discovered after the constitution of the pangkat, the matter shall be resolved by the affirmative vote of the majority of the pangkat whose decision shall be final. Should disqualification be decided upon, the resulting vacancy shall be filled as herein provided for.

(e) Period to arrive at a settlement - The pangkat shall arrive at a settlement or resolution of the dispute within fifteen (15) days from the day it convenes in accordance with this section. This period shall, at the discretion of the pangkat, be extendible for another period which shall not exceed fifteen (15) days, except in clearly meritorious cases."

The Barangay Justice System will also be properly implemented if Lupon Chairman, members and secretary undergo training on the classification of cases, procedures of the settlement, administrative requirements of Katarungang Pambarangay (KP) Law, Mediation/Conciliation/Arbitration procedures and more. This way, people will not be too inclined in using other avenues such as social media because of losing faith in the Barangay Justice System. 

Are Poverty Alleviation Programs Successfully Implemented?

Poverty is one of the perennial problems plaguing the country. Various programs have been implemented to reduce the numbers of starving Filipinos. The system is said to target the poor by providing their basic needs such as food, water, shelter, education and more. However, poverty-stricken individuals are either unaware that such programs exist or they are not given proper assistance. For instance, a person would rather become an informal settler than be relocated in an area far from their source of income. Others will even resort to illegal means to provide food on their family's plate. They are well aware that their acts can land them in jail, but they do not have any choice but to bite the bullet. One step to alleviating poverty is to make people aware that these programs actually exist. The National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) provides programs for the purpose of helping the poor improve their quality of life. Such programs are focused on providing free education for the deserving poor students, livelihood, microfinance services and more. NAPC shall:

(1) Source funds for the establishment of and augmentation to the Trust Fund; 

(2) Recommend to the appropriate government department or agency the accreditation of organizations and institutions that shall act as resource partners in conducting institutional development and capability building activities for accredited organizations and beneficiaries of microfinance and micro-enterprise programs;  

(3) Ensure that validation and monitoring activities are conducted for funded institutional development and capability building projects/programs/beneficiaries; and 

(4) Promote research and development work on livelihood and microfinance technology and publications/communications programs that assist the poor beneficiaries.

Sec. 11. Purposes of the People's Development Trust Fund (PDTF). — The earnings of the PDTF shall be utilized for the following purposes:

(1) Consultancy and training services for microfinance institutions and their beneficiaries on the establishment of the necessary support services, social and financial preparation of beneficiaries, preparation of plans and programs including fund sourcing and assistance, establishment of credit and savings monitoring and evaluation mechanisms; 

(2) Scholarships or training grants for microfinance staff and officers, and selected beneficiaries; 

(3) Community organizing for microfinance, livelihood and micro-enterprises training services; 

(4) Livelihood/micro-enterprise project/program feasibility studies and researches

(5) Savings mobilization and incentive programs, and other similar facilities; 

(6) Information and communication systems such as baseline surveys, development monitoring systems, socioeconomic mapping surveys, organizational assessments, and other similar activities; 

 (7) Legal and other management support services such as registration, documentation, contract review and enforcement, financial audit and operational assessment; 

 (8) Information dissemination of microfinance technology; and 

 (9) Other activities to support microfinance as approved by the designated agency administering the PDTF.

The PDTF may be accessed by the following:

(a) Registered microfinance organizations engaged in providing micro-enterprise services for the poor to enable them to become viable and sustainable; 

(b) Local government units providing microfinance and micro-enterprise programs to their constituents: Provided, That the PDTF shall not be used by the LGUs for personal services and maintenance and other operating expenses; and 

(c) Local government units undertaking self-help projects where at least twenty-five percent (25%) of the total earnings of the PDTF shall be used exclusively for the provision of materials and technical services.

Sec. 12. The role of Local Government Units (LGUs). — The local government units, through the local development councils of the province, city, municipality, or barangay shall be responsible for the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the National Anti-Poverty Action Agenda in their respective jurisdictions. The LGUs shall:

(a) Identify the poor in their respective areas based on indicators such as the minimum basic needs approach and the human development index, their location, occupation, nature of employment, and their primary resource base and formulate a provincial/city/municipality anti-poverty action agenda; 

 (b) Identify and source funding for specific social reform and poverty alleviation projects; 

(c) Coordinate, monitor and evaluate the efforts of local government units with the private sector on planning and implementation of the local action program for social reform and poverty alleviation; and 

(d) Coordinate and submit progress reports to the National Anti-Poverty Commission regarding their local action programs.

Nothing in this Act shall be construed as diminishing the powers granted to the local government units under the Local Government Code. 

Suspended Employee Is Not Entitled To Pay

An employee who has been cited for violating the code of conduct will be placed under preventive suspension while the investigation is ongoing. One question raised is if the suspended employee will still receive his/her salary during the suspension. Preventive suspension temporarily removes an employee who has violated company rules from his or her position. An employer has the right to suspend an employee while the incident is still being investigated. This is in accordance with the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code of the Philippines. 

Section 8. Preventive suspension. The employer may place the worker concerned under preventive suspension only if his continued employment poses a serious and imminent threat to the life or property of the employer or of his co-workers.

Section 9. Period of suspension. No preventive suspension shall last longer than thirty (30) days. The employer shall thereafter reinstate the worker in his former or in a substantially equivalent position or the employer may extend the period of suspension provided that during the period of extension, he pays the wages and other benefits due to the worker. In such case, the worker shall not be bound to reimburse the amount paid to him during the extension if the employer decides, after completion of the hearing, to dismiss the worker.

Under the rule, the maximum period of preventive suspension is 30 days. The employee must be reinstated to his former position, but if the employer does not want to reinstate the employee, they can choose to extend the suspension period provided the employer agrees to pay the wages and other benefits during the entire period of extension. 

It must also be noted that a suspended employee is not entitled to payment of wages. However, the validity of the suspension must also be taken into account. In case the suspension has been perceived to be illegal or invalid, the employee will still be entitled to payment of wages during the entire duration of the illegal suspension. 

Can The Use Of Marijuana For Medical Purposes Be Finally Legalized?

A bill legalizing marijuana for medical use has been passed, but it has not yet been approved due to several reasons and one of which is that the drug is classified as a prohibited substance and may violate Republic Act 9165  or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 as the country's war on drugs continues to intensify.

Section 4. Importation of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals.- .The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized by law, shall import or bring into the Philippines any dangerous drug, regardless of the quantity and purity involved, including any and all species of opium poppy or any part thereof or substances derived therefrom even for floral, decorative and culinary purposes.

The penalty of imprisonment ranging from twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and a fine ranging from One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) to Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized by law, shall import any controlled precursor and essential chemical.

The maximum penalty provided for under this Section shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized under this Act, shall import or bring into the Philippines any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical through the use of a diplomatic passport, diplomatic facilities or any other means involving his/her official status intended to facilitate the unlawful entry of the same. In addition, the diplomatic passport shall be confiscated and canceled.

The maximum penalty provided for under this Section shall be imposed upon any person, who organizes, manages or acts as a "financier" of any of the illegal activities prescribed in this Section.

The penalty of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years of imprisonment and a fine ranging from One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) to Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who acts as a "protector/coddler" of any violator of the provisions under this Section.

Section 5. Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals. - The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized by law, shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to another, distribute dispatch in transit or transport any dangerous drug, including any and all species of opium poppy regardless of the quantity and purity involved, or shall act as a broker in any of such transactions.

The penalty of imprisonment ranging from twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and a fine ranging from One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) to Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized by law, shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch in transit or transport any controlled precursor and essential chemical, or shall act as a broker in such transactions.

If the sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution or transportation of any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical transpires within one hundred (100) meters from the school, the maximum penalty shall be imposed in every case.

For drug pushers who use minors or mentally incapacitated individuals as runners, couriers and messengers, or in any other capacity directly connected to the dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemical trade, the maximum penalty shall be imposed in every case.

If the victim of the offense is a minor or a mentally incapacitated individual, or should a dangerous drug and/or a controlled precursor and essential chemical involved in any offense herein provided be the proximate cause of death of a victim thereof, the maximum penalty provided for under this Section shall be imposed.

The maximum penalty provided for under this Section shall be imposed upon any person who organizes, manages or acts as a "financier" of any of the illegal activities prescribed in this Section.

The penalty of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years of imprisonment and a fine ranging from One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) to Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who acts as a "protector/coddler" of any violator of the provisions under this Section.

Section 6. Maintenance of a Den, Dive or Resort. - The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person or group of persons who shall maintain a den, dive or resort where any dangerous drug is used or sold in any form.

The penalty of imprisonment ranging from twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and a fine ranging from One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) to Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person or group of persons who shall maintain a den, dive, or resort where any controlled precursor and essential chemical is used or sold in any form.

The maximum penalty provided for under this Section shall be imposed in every case where any dangerous drug is administered, delivered or sold to a minor who is allowed to use the same in such a place.

Should any dangerous drug be the proximate cause of the death of a person using the same in such den, dive or resort, the penalty of death and a fine ranging from One million (P1,000,000.00) to Fifteen million pesos (P500,000.00) shall be imposed on the maintainer, owner and/or operator.

If such den, dive or resort is owned by a third person, the same shall be confiscated and escheated in favor of the government: Provided, That the criminal complaint shall specifically allege that such place is intentionally used in the furtherance of the crime: Provided, further, That the prosecution shall prove such intent on the part of the owner to use the property for such purpose: Provided, finally, That the owner shall be included as an accused in the criminal complaint.

The maximum penalty provided for under this Section shall be imposed upon any person who organizes, manages or acts as a "financier" of any of the illegal activities prescribed in this Section.

The penalty twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years of imprisonment and a fine ranging from One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) to Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who acts as a "protector/coddler" of any violator of the provisions of this Section.

Although FDA grants compassionate permit, the medical device, food product and unregistered drug should only be obtained from a licensed importer with specific volume and period taken into consideration. Medical cannabis will only be allowed to be imported if it is in processed form and the active ingredients must be measured to ensure that the side effects and risks are minimized. 

Paolo Tonolete, FDA regulation officer allows doctors or hospitals to secure for a permit on behalf of a patient with HIV-AIDS, cancer, and other diseases considered to be life-theatening. On average, FDA is receiving 50 applications for compassionate special permits on a monthly basis. Most of these applications are for cancer medication. In fact, in 2016 alone 558 of 565 applications had been approved. 

Foreign Telcos Interested In The Philippine Market

Globe Telecom and PLDT are the two internet service providers dominating the Philippine market. If you check their social media pages,  you will see that both providers are not spared from the raves and rants of consumers, hoping to get faster connection and better customer service. The plea has fallen on deaf ears for decades. Unless you subscribe for a more expensive plan, you will not get a decent connection. However,  upgrading your plan does not guarantee stable connection either. 

The government eyes foreign telcos such as Telstra and China Telecommunications as part of the solution to the problem. Presently, the government allocates P77.9 billion for the National Broadband Project. Although no official statement from foreign telcos has been released, President Duterte believes that a third telco player can provide consumer better mobile and internet service. 

The case on allowing third player is still pending on Supreme Court. At the moment the consumers have one privilege to enjoy which is free public internet access program as mandated by Republic Act No. 10929. 

Section 3 of the said Act states that:

a) No fees shall be collected from users to connect to the public internet access points;

b) The free internet service provided shall be separate from the internet service used for backend computer systems and programs, databases, and/or management and information systems in government offices; Provided, that the shared use of infrastructure shall not be prohibited; and

c)Technical solutions that may limit or restrict access shall only be employed when there is clear and present technical risk or breach that cannot be remedied through ordinary technical solutions: Provided, that technical solutions that can likewise maintain or promote ease of access shall be prioritized and pursued. 

Missing P1000 from Jack Lam's Bribery Still Remains A Mystery

President Duterte is very vocal about putting an end to graft and corruption. Stringent policies have been rolled out to ensure that government agencies do not cross the line. However, it appears that the case of the missing P1000 bill only proves that justice can be selective at times. Why is everyone making a fuss over the missing P1000? 

Section 12 of Republic Act No. 7659 defines plunder as "Any public officer who, by himself or in connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt criminal acts as described in Section 1 (d) hereof in the aggregate amount or total value of at least Fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00) shall be guilty of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death. Any person who participated with the said public officer in the commission of an offense contributing to the crime of plunder shall likewise be punished for such offense. In the imposition of penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances, as provided by the Revised Penal Code, shall be considered by the court. The court shall declare any and all ill-gotten wealth and their interests and other incomes and assets including the properties and shares of stocks derived from the deposit or investment thereof forfeited in favor of the State."

If you could still remember, Jack Lam, a Chinese tycoon offered bribe money with the amount of P50 million. However, a recent investigation revealed that the money was P1000 short. With the funds having a total of P49,999,000, the case of plunder filed against Jack Lam will not prosper. Two former commissioners from the Bureau of Immigration, who happened to be the fraternity brothers of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and President Rodrigo Duterte may have skirted the P1000 bill to manipulate the consistency of evidence. 

The issue was brought up during the Senate deliberations on the proposed P17.43 billion budget of the Department of Justice. Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon wanted to know the status of the P50 million bribe money and also the status of the two former commissioners, Al Argosino and Michael Robles. 

Although the two were already sacked, the missing P1000 stirred controversy considering the fact that Aguirre denies participation in the counting of bribe money. He even claimed that there was a CCTV when the counting happened. Some members of the committee thought at first that the missing bill was a joke. Due to losing the P1000, the plunder case will likely be reduced to charges with lower penalties. 

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 Code Of Conduct And Ethical Standards For Public Officials And Employees

Being a public official is both a privilege and a responsibility. More often than not, you become the subject for public scrutiny when you fail to meet expectations or perform your duty. Even in the past administrations, many public officials and employees have been criticized because of grave misconduct, displaying a lavish lifestyle, using power to intimidate others and more. Let Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6713 be a gentle reminder of how a public official or employee should behave. 

Section 4. Norms of Conduct of Public Officials and Employees. - (A) Every public official and employee shall observe the following as standards of personal conduct in the discharge and execution of official duties:

(a) Commitment to public interest. - Public officials and employees shall always uphold the public interest over and above personal interest. All government resources and powers of their respective offices must be employed and used efficiently, effectively, honestly and economically, particularly to avoid wastage in public funds and revenues.

(b) Professionalism. - Public officials and employees shall perform and discharge their duties with the highest degree of excellence, professionalism, intelligence and skill. They shall enter public service with utmost devotion and dedication to duty. They shall endeavor to discourage wrong perceptions of their roles as dispensers or peddlers of undue patronage.

(c) Justness and sincerity. - Public officials and employees shall remain true to the people at all times. They must act with justness and sincerity and shall not discriminate against anyone, especially the poor and the underprivileged. They shall at all times respect the rights of others, and shall refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy, public order, public safety and public interest. They shall not dispense or extend undue favors on account of their office to their relatives whether by consanguinity or affinity except with respect to appointments of such relatives to positions considered strictly confidential or as members of their personal staff whose terms are coterminous with theirs.

(d) Political neutrality. - Public officials and employees shall provide service to everyone without unfair discrimination and regardless of party affiliation or preference.

(e) Responsiveness to the public. - Public officials and employees shall extend prompt, courteous, and adequate service to the public. Unless otherwise provided by law or when required by the public interest, public officials and employees shall provide information of their policies and procedures in clear and understandable language, ensure openness of information, public consultations and hearings whenever appropriate, encourage suggestions, simplify and systematize policy, rules and procedures, avoid red tape and develop an understanding and appreciation of the socio-economic conditions prevailing in the country, especially in the depressed rural and urban areas.

(f) Nationalism and patriotism. - Public officials and employees shall at all times be loyal to the Republic and to the Filipino people, promote the use of locally produced goods, resources and technology and encourage appreciation and pride of country and people. They shall endeavor to maintain and defend Philippine sovereignty against foreign intrusion.

(g) Commitment to democracy. - Public officials and employees shall commit themselves to the democratic way of life and values, maintain the principle of public accountability, and manifest by deeds the supremacy of civilian authority over the military. They shall at all times uphold the Constitution and put loyalty to country above loyalty to persons or party.

(h) Simple living. - Public officials and employees and their families shall lead modest lives appropriate to their positions and income. They shall not indulge in extravagant or ostentatious display of wealth in any form.

(B) The Civil Service Commission shall adopt positive measures to promote (1) observance of these standards including the dissemination of information programs and workshops authorizing merit increases beyond regular progression steps, to a limited number of employees recognized by their office colleagues to be outstanding in their observance of ethical standards; and (2) continuing research and experimentation on measures which provide positive motivation to public officials and employees in raising the general level of observance of these standards.

The Fundamentals Of Succession

Succession as defined under Art. 774 of the New Civil Code is a mode of acquisition by virtue of which the property, rights and obligations to the extent of the value of the inheritance, of a person are transmitted through his death to another or others either by his will or by operation of law

There are two kinds of successors:

Compulsory heirs refer to the legitime reserved by law, and who succeed whether the testator likes it or not. 

Voluntary heirs refer to the person other than the compulsory heirs. 

Art. 775. In this Title, "decedent" is the general term applied to the person whose property is transmitted through succession, whether or not he left a will. If he left a will, he is also called the testator. (n)

Art. 776. The inheritance includes all the property, rights and obligations of a person which are not extinguished by his death. (659)

Art. 777. The rights to the succession are transmitted from the moment of the death of the decedent. (657a)

Art. 778. Succession may be:

(1) Testamentary;

(2) Legal or intestate; or

(3) Mixed. (n)

Art. 779. Testamentary succession is that which results from the designation of an heir, made in a will executed in the form prescribed by law. (n)

Art. 780. Mixed succession is that effected partly by will and partly by operation of law. (n)

Art. 781. The inheritance of a person includes not only the property and the transmissible rights and obligations existing at the time of his death, but also those which have accrued thereto since the opening of the succession. (n)

Art. 782. An heir is a person called to the succession either by the provision of a will or by operation of law.

Devisees and legatees are persons to whom gifts of real and personal property are respectively given by virtue of a will. (n) 


Art. 783. A will is an act whereby a person is permitted, with the formalities prescribed by law, to control to a certain degree the disposition of this estate, to take effect after his death. (667a)

Art. 784. The making of a will is a strictly personal act; it cannot be left in whole or in part of the discretion of a third person, or accomplished through the instrumentality of an agent or attorney. (670a)

Art. 785. The duration or efficacy of the designation of heirs, devisees or legatees, or the determination of the portions which they are to take, when referred to by name, cannot be left to the discretion of a third person. (670a)

Art. 786. The testator may entrust to a third person the distribution of specific property or sums of money that he may leave in general to specified classes or causes, and also the designation of the persons, institutions or establishments to which such property or sums are to be given or applied. (671a)

Art. 787. The testator may not make a testamentary disposition in such manner that another person has to determine whether or not it is to be operative. (n)

Art. 788. If a testamentary disposition admits of different interpretations, in case of doubt, that interpretation by which the disposition is to be operative shall be preferred. (n)

Art. 789. When there is an imperfect description, or when no person or property exactly answers the description, mistakes and omissions must be corrected, if the error appears from the context of the will or from extrinsic evidence, excluding the oral declarations of the testator as to his intention; and when an uncertainty arises upon the face of the will, as to the application of any of its provisions, the testator's intention is to be ascertained from the words of the will, taking into consideration the circumstances under which it was made, excluding such oral declarations. (n)

Art. 790. The words of a will are to be taken in their ordinary and grammatical sense, unless a clear intention to use them in another sense can be gathered, and that other can be ascertained.

Technical words in a will are to be taken in their technical sense, unless the context clearly indicates a contrary intention, or unless it satisfactorily appears that he was unacquainted with such technical sense. (675a)

Art. 791. The words of a will are to receive an interpretation which will give to every expression some effect, rather than one which will render any of the expressions inoperative; and of two modes of interpreting a will, that is to be preferred which will prevent intestacy. (n)

Art. 792. The invalidity of one of several dispositions contained in a will does not result in the invalidity of the other dispositions, unless it is to be presumed that the testator would not have made such other dispositions if the first invalid disposition had not been made. (n)

Art. 793. Property acquired after the making of a will shall only pass thereby, as if the testator had possessed it at the time of making the will, should it expressly appear by the will that such was his intention. (n)

Art. 794. Every devise or legacy shall cover all the interest which the testator could device or bequeath in the property disposed of, unless it clearly appears from the will that he intended to convey a less interest. (n)

Art. 795. The validity of a will as to its form depends upon the observance of the law in force at the time it is made. (n) 




The Elements And Nature Of Eminent Domain

Eminent domain refers to the inherent right of the state to condemn private property to public use upon payment of just compensation. Before the property can be taken for purposes of eminent domain, the following elements must be present:

(1) the expropriator must enter a private property;

(2) the entrance into private property must be for more than a momentary period;

(3) the entry into the property should be under warrant or color of legal authority;

(4) the property  must be devoted to a public use or otherwise informally appropriated or injuriously affected; and

(5) the utilization of the property for public use must be in such a way as to oust the owner and deprive him of all beneficial enjoyment of the property.


Section 1. In determining just compensation for private property acquired through eminent domain proceedings, the compensation to be paid shall not exceed the value declared by the owner or administrator or anyone having legal interest in the property or determined by the assessor, pursuant to the Real Property Tax Code, whichever value is lower, prior to the recommendation or decision of the appropriate Government office to acquire the property.

Sec. 2. Upon the filing of the petition for expropriation and the deposit in the Philippine National Bank at its main office or any of its branches of an amount equivalent to ten per cent (10%) of the amount of compensation provided in Section 1 hereof, the government or its authorized instrumentality agency or entity shall be entitled to immediate possession, control and disposition of the real property and the improvements thereon, including the power of demolition of necessary, notwithstanding the pendency of the issues before the courts.

Sec. 3. Presidential Decree No. 42, Section pars. 2 and 3 of PD No. 76, Sec. 92 of PD No. 464, PD 794, Sections 2 and 3 of PD 1224, Sections 2 and 3 of PD 1259 and Section 1 of PD 1313 and all other acts, decrees, letters of instructions, orders, ordinances or rules and regulations which are inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed, amended or modified accordingly.

Can Grandparents Be Obliged To Provide Financial Support? 

Children feel caught in the middle between parents' decision. Child support is the most common issue being raised. Although it is common knowledge that a husband or father is compelled to provide financial support to his children, the role of grandparents when it comes to augmenting support has not been openly discussed. 

However, there are laws that shed light on this matter. Article 194 of the Family Code states that, "Support comprises everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation, in keeping with the financial capacity of the family."

This means that parents are not the only ones compelled to give support but the legitimate ascendants and descendants as well. If grandparents have means to augment support, given the fact that the father has no ability to provide sufficient support, the obligation will be passed on to them. 


Art. 105. Subject to the provisions of the succeeding articles, the following are obliged to support each other to the whole extent set forth in the preceding article:

(1) The spouses;

(2) Legitimate ascendants and descendants;

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

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

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

Art. 196. Brothers and sisters not legitimately related, whether of the full or half-blood, are likewise bound to support each other to the full extent set forth in Article 194, except only when the need for support of the brother or sister, being of age, is due to a cause imputable to the claimant's fault or negligence. (291a)

Art. 197. In case of legitimate ascendants; descendants, whether legitimate or illegitimate; and brothers and sisters, whether legitimately or illegitimately related, only the separate property of the person obliged to give support shall be answerable provided that in case the obligor has no separate property, the absolute community or the conjugal partnership, if financially capable, shall advance the support, which shall be deducted from the share of the spouse obliged upon the liquidation of the absolute community or of the conjugal partnership. (n)

Art. 198. During the proceedings for legal separation or for annulment of marriage, and for declaration of nullity of marriage, the spouses and their children shall be supported from the properties of the absolute community or the conjugal partnership. After the final judgment granting the petition, the obligation of mutual support between the spouses ceases. However, in case of legal separation, the court may order that the guilty spouse shall give support to the innocent one, specifying the terms of such order. (292a)

Art. 199. Whenever two or more persons are obliged to give support, the liability shall devolve upon the following persons in the order herein provided:

(1) The spouse;

(2) The descendants in the nearest degree;

(3) The ascendants in the nearest degree; and

(4) The brothers and sisters. (294a)

Art. 200. When the obligation to give support falls upon two or more persons, the payment of the same shall be divided between them in proportion to the resources of each.

However, in case of urgent need and by special circumstances, the judge may order only one of them to furnish the support provisionally, without prejudice to his right to claim from the other obligors the share due from them.


When two or more recipients at the same time claim support from one and the same person legally obliged to give it, should the latter not have sufficient means to satisfy all claims, the order established in the preceding article shall be followed, unless the concurrent obligees should be the spouse and a child subject to parental authority, in which case the child shall be preferred. (295a)