Disbarment for gross ignorance of the law

One of the fundamental principles of Philippine constitutional law is that ownership of land is generally reserved only to Filipinos.  Article XII, Section 7 of the Constitution provides:  “Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.”  On the other hand, Article XII, Section 8 provides:  “Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 7 of this Article, a natural-born citizen of the Philippines who has lost his Philippine citizenship may be a transferee of private lands, subject to limitations provided by law.”  To summarize:

Under the Constitution, private lands may be transferred or conveyed to the following:

(a)     Filipino citizens;

(b)    Corporations and associations at least 60% of the capital of which is owned by Filipino citizens, since they have the capacity to hold lands of the public domain;

(c)    Aliens but only in cases of hereditary succession;  and

(d)   Natural born citizens who have lost their Philippine citizenship subject to limitations provided by law.  (see 2 Philippine Constitutional Law, p. 917 [2004])

One would think that all Philippine lawyers know this fundamental principle but that does not appear to be the case.  In Keld Stemmerik, represented by Attys. Herminio. Liwanag and Winston P.L. Esguerra vs. Atty. Leonuel N. Mas, A.C. No. 8010, June 16, 2009, Keld Stemmerik, a Danish national, expressed interest in buying land in the Philippines and Atty. Mas advised him that he can legally acquire and own land in the Philippines.

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June 2009 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law, Legal/Judicial Ethics and Criminal Law

Here are selected June 2009 Philippine Supreme Court decisions on  remedial law, legal/judicial ethics and criminal law.

Remedial Law

Actions;  quasi in rem. The petition for cancellation of entries annotated at the back of OCT No. 40287 ought to have been directed against specific persons: namely, the heirs of Juan Soriano as appearing in Entry No. 20102 and, indubitably, against their successors-in-interest who have acquired different portions of the property over the years because it is in the nature of an action quasi in rem. Accordingly, the Salazars should have impleaded as party defendants the heirs of Juan Soriano and/or Vicenta Macaraeg as well as those claiming ownership over the property under their names because they are indispensable parties. This was not done in this case. Since no indispensable party was  ever impleaded by the Salazars in their petition for cancellation of entry filed before Branch 63 of the RTC of Tarlac, herein petitioners are not bound by the dispositions of the said court. Consequently, the judgment or order of the said court never even acquired finality. Zenaida Acosta, et al. vs. Trinidad Salazar, et al., G.R. No. 161034.  June 30, 2009

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Legalese 2009 (Week 29)


proxy – person authorized by an absent stockholder or member to vote at a stockholders’ or members’ meeting; the term can also refer to the formal written authorization given by the absent stockholder or member (see Corporation Code of the Philippines Annotated, p. 490 [2006]).

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The trust as a way of preventing the sale of property in saecula saeculorum

Can a testator use a trust to prevent the sale of his properties in saecula saeculorum after his death?

In her will, Doña Margarita Rodriguez provided for the creation of a trust to manage the income from her properties.    She prohibited the mortgage or sale of certain of these properties, so that the income from these properties can be used for the benefit of the specified beneficiaries. She wrote:

CLAUSULA DECIMA O PANG-SAMPU: – Ipinaguutos ko na ang manga pagaareng nasasabi sa Clausulang ito ay pangangasiwaan sa habang panahon, at ito nga ang ipagbubukas ng “Fideicomiso” sa Jusgado pagkatapos na maayos ang naiwanan kong pagaare. Ang pangangasiwaang pagaare ay ang manga sumusunod . . .

Ang lahat ng pagaaring nasasabe sa Clusulang ito (hindi kasama ang “generator” at automovil) hindi maisasanla o maipagbibili kailan man, maliban sa pagaaring nasa Quezon Boulevard, Maynila, na maaring isanla kung walang fondo na gagamitin sa ipagpapaigui o ipagpapagawa ng panibago alinsunod sa kaayusang hinihingi ng panahon. (underscoring supplied)

At the time of her death in 1960, Margarita left no compulsory or forced heirs and, consequently, was completely free to dispose of her properties, without regard to legitimes, as provided in her will.

Almost four decades after her death, petitioners Hilarion, Jr. and Enrico Orendain, heirs of Hilarion Orendain, Sr. (who was mentioned in Clause 24 of Margarita’s will), moved to dissolve the trust on Margarita’s estate, which they argued had been in existence for more than 20 years, in violation of Article 870 of the Civil Code, among others.

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June 2009 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are selected June 2009 Philippine Supreme Court decisions on civil and related laws:

Contract; novation. Article 1292 of the Civil Code provides that “[i]n order that an obligation may be extinguished by another which substitutes the same, it is imperative that it be so declared in unequivocal terms, or that the old and the new obligations be on every point incompatible with each other.” Novation is never presumed. Parties to a contract must expressly agree that they are abrogating their old contract in favor of a new one. In the absence of an express agreement, novation takes place only when the old and the new obligations are incompatible on every point. The test of incompatibility is whether or not the two obligations can stand together, each one having its independent existence. If they cannot, they are incompatible and the latter obligation novates the first.

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Live In. Marriage. Psychological Incapacity?

Generally, cases decided by the Supreme Court involving annulment of marriage based on psychological incapacity involve situations where the couple married, lived together, and one spouse subsequently discovers the other spouse’s psychological incapacity to comply with his or her marital obligations.

In Renato Reyes So vs. Lorna Valera, G.R. No. 150677,  June 5, 2009, the Supreme Court was faced with the unique situation where the husband and the wife were in a common law relationship for 18 long years, had 3 children, and then got married. The husband subsequently filed a petition for annulment of marriage based on his wife’s alleged psychological incapacity.

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