Rules Implementing the Senior Citizen Discount on Electricity Consumption

The Energy Regulatory Commission promulgated on December 15, 2010 the Rules Implementing the Discounts to Qualified Senior Citizen End-Users and Subsidy from Subsidizing End-Users on Electricity Consumption under Sections 4 and 5 of Republic Act No. 9994. 

Under the Implementing Rules, to avail of the discount, residential senior citizen customers must meet the following conditions:

(a) The monthly residential consumption must not exceed 100 kwh;  if the consumption exceeds 100kwh in any given month, the senior citizen is not entitled to the discount for that particular month;

(b) The meter must have been registered in the name of the senior citizen for not less than one year;

(c) The grant of senior citizen discount shall apply per household regardless of the number of senior citizens residing therein;

(d) The senior citizen must apply personally or through an authorized representative to the distribution utility, and must submit proof of age and citizenship, such as birth certificate or senior citizen’s ID, proof of residence, copy of the electric bill in the name of the senior citizen, and proof of authority if applying through a representative.

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December 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

Here are selected December 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on labor law and procedure:

Dismissal; due process;  trial-type hearing is not essential. The essence of due process is an opportunity to be heard or, as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity to explain one’s side. Records show that Aboc was duly notified through a letter asking him to explain why his services should not be terminated. In fact, he replied to the same by submitting a written explanation. He was likewise duly afforded ample opportunity to defend himself during a conference conducted.  Aboc’s contention that the conference he attended cannot substitute the hearing mandated by the Labor Code is bereft of merit. A formal trial-type hearing is not at all times and in all instances essential to due process. It is enough that the parties are given a fair and reasonable opportunity to explain their respective sides of the controversy and to present supporting evidence on which a fair decision can be based. Antonio A. Aboc  vs. Metropolitan Bank And Trust Company /  Metropolitan Bank And Trust Company  vs.  Antonio A. Aboc, G.R. Nos.  170542-43  and G.R. No. 176460, December 13, 2010.

Dismissal; due process; trial-type hearing is not essential. In dismissal cases, the essence of due process is a fair and reasonable opportunity to be heard, or as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity to explain one’s side. A formal or trial type hearing is not at all times and in all instances essential. Neither is it necessary that the witnesses be cross-examined. In the instant case, there was a proceeding where the respondent was apprised of the charges against him as well as of his rights. Thereafter, he was notified of the formal charges against him and was required to explain in writing why he should not be dismissed for serious misconduct.  A formal hearing was conducted and subsequently, respondent received a Notice of Termination informing him that after a careful evaluation, he was found liable as charged and dismissed from the service due to gross misconduct. Clearly, respondent was afforded ample opportunity to air his side and defend himself.  Hence, there was due process.  Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, vs. Eusebio M. Honrado, G.R. No. 189366, December 8, 2010.

Dismissal; due process. Respondent harps on the fact that his dismissal was preconceived because there was already a decision to terminate him even before he was given the show cause memorandum. Contrary to respondent’s allegations, he was given more than enough opportunity to defend himself.  The audit committee’s conclusion to dismiss respondent from the service was merely recommendatory.  It was not conclusive upon the petitioner company.  This is precisely the reason why the petitioner still conducted further investigations.  To reiterate, respondent was properly informed of the charges and had every opportunity to rebut the accusations and present his version.  Respondent was not denied due process of law for he was adequately heard as the very essence of due process is the opportunity to be heard. Equitable PCI Bank (Now Banco De Oro Unibank, Inc.), vs. Castor A. Dompor, G.R. Nos. 163293 & 163297, December 8, 2010.

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December 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Legal and Judicial Ethics

Here are selected December 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on legal and judicial ethics:

Administrative proceeding; settlement does not render case moot. The fact that the complainant manifested that he is no longer interested to pursue the administrative case against the respondent since he and the latter have already agreed to settle their dispute amicably would not render the case moot.  The withdrawal of complaints cannot divest the Court of its jurisdiction nor strip it of its power to determine the veracity of the charges made and to discipline, such as the results of its investigation may warrant, an erring respondent.  Administrative actions cannot depend on the will or pleasure of the complainant who may, for reasons of his own, condone what may be destestable.  Neither can the Court be bound by the unilateral act of the complainant in a matter relating to its disciplinary power.  The Court’s interest in the affairs of the judiciary is of paramount concern.  For sure, public interest is at stake in the conduct and actuations of officials and employees of the judiciary, inasmuch as the various programs and efforts of this Court in improving the delivery of justice to the people should not be frustrated and put to naught by private arrangements between the parties.  Fernando P. Chan vs. Joven T. Olegario, Process Server, Regional Trial Court, Branch 6, Iligan City, A.M. No. P-09-2714, December 6, 2010.

Attorney; negligence. Respondent Atty. Elayda failed to inform his clients, petitioners herein, of the dates of hearing and the adverse decision against them, which eventually became final and executory as no appeal was filed therefrom, to the prejudice of his clients. A lawyer is duty bound to uphold and safeguard the interests of his clients.  He should be conscientious, competent and diligent in handling his clients’ cases.  Atty. Elayda should give adequate attention, care, and time to all the cases he is handling.  As the petitioners’ counsel, Atty. Elayda is expected to monitor the progress of said spouses’ case and is obligated to exert all efforts to present every remedy or defense authorized by law to protect the cause espoused by the petitioners. Respondent is guilty of gross negligence. Spouses Virgilio and Angelina Aranda vs. Atty. Emmanuel F. Elayda, A.C. No. 7907. December 15, 2010

Court personnel; conduct unbecoming of court employee. Respondent Olegario, a court process server, evaded the payment of his debt for seven (7) years. Respondent Olegario is guilty of conduct unbecoming of court employee. The Court stressed the need for circumspect and proper behavior on the part of court employees. While it may be just for an individual to incur indebtedness unrestrained by the fact that he is a public officer or employee, caution should be taken to prevent the occurrence of dubious circumstances that might inevitably impair the image of the public office. Employees of the court should always keep in mind that the court is regarded by the public with respect. Certainly, to preserve decency within the judiciary, court personnel must comply with just contractual obligations, act fairly and adhere to high ethical standards. Like all other court personnel, Olegario is expected to be a paragon of uprightness, fairness and honesty not only in all his official conduct but also in his personal actuations, including business and commercial transactions, so as to avoid becoming his court’s albatross of infamy. The penalty imposed by the law is not directed at Olegario’s private life, but at his actuation unbecoming a public official.  Fernando P. Chan vs. Joven T. Olegario, Process Server, Regional Trial Court, Branch 6, Iligan City, A.M. No. P-09-2714, December 6, 2010.

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Philippine Laws: December 2010

After failing to write a blog last month because of the absence of any new laws, I had hoped that this month will allow me to have a good “blogging” start for this new year of this new decade.  Unfortunately, P-Noy was again not able to approve any new law in December 2010. . . except for the 2011 national budget, which was approved on December 27, 2010 as Republic Act No. 10147.

It is reported that this is the first time that we have approved a national budget, before the end of the year, in almost a decade.  In the recent past, we would operate under a re-enacted budget because of the failure of Congress to ratify a budget bill, or of the President to sign a ratified bill, before the end of the year.

Set forth below are some of my notes on the 2011 national budget:

1.     While the 2011 national budget was reported to amount to PhP 1.645 Trillion, the Total New Appropriations amount to PhP 1.000 Trillion, the Automatic Appropriations amount to PhP 711.5 Billion, and the Debt Service – Principal Amortizations amount to PhP 466.2 Billion, resulting in the total of PhP 2.178 Trillion.  (As of the time of this blog, I have not been able to get an explanation regarding the reported national budget, and the total of Total New Appropriations, Automatic Appropriations and Debt Service – Principal Amortizations.  So, for purposes of this blog, I will consider the total national budget to be the latter.)

2.     The Total New Appropriations amount to 45.9% of the total national budget of PhP 2.178 Trillion.  The Automatic Appropriations amount to 32.67%, and the Debt Service – Principal Amortizations amount to 21.4%. The 2011 Total New Appropriations is PhP 304.1 Billion lower than that in 2010; but, the 2011 Automatic Appropriations is PhP 356.4 Billion higher, and the 2011 Debt Service – Principal Amortizations is PhP 60.8 Billion higher.

3.     Of the Total New Appropriations, the highest budget was given to the Department of Education, which was allotted PhP 192.3 Billion, or 19.22 % of the Total New Appropriations.  The Department of National Defense was allotted PhP 104.5 Billion (10.44%), and the Department of Public Works and Highways was allotted PhP 100.8 Billion (10.08%).

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December 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Political Law

Here are selected December 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on political law.

Emancipation patent; issuance. Following are the steps in transferring land to a tenant-tiller under Presidential Decree No. 27: (a) identification of tenant, landowner, and the land covered; (b) land survey and sketching of portion actually cultivated by the tenant to determine parcel size, boundaries, and possible land use; (c) issuance of Certificate of Land Transfer; (d) valuation of the land for purposes of computing the amortization; (e) amortization payments of the tenant-tiller over a 15-year period; and (f) issuance of Emancipation Patent.  In this case, there is no evidence that these steps were followed. There are several supporting documents that the tenant-farmer must submit before he can receive the Emancipation Patent. The Supreme Court found that majority of these supporting documents is lacking. Hence, it was improper for the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board to order the issuance of the Emancipation Patent in favor of respondent. There was also no sufficient evidence to prove that respondent has fully paid the value of the land. Full payment of just compensation is required prior to issuance of Emancipation Patents. Renato Reyes, represented by Ramon Reyes vs Leopoldo Barrios, G.R. No. 172841, December 15, 2010.

Equal protection clause; concept.  The Court here struck down Executive Order No. 1 (which created the Truth Commission) for violating the equal protection clause.  The clear mandate of the Truth Commission is to investigate and find out the truth “concerning the reported cases of graft and corruption during the previous administrationonly. The intent to single out the previous administration was plain, patent and manifest.  According to the Court, the Arroyo administration is a member of a class, that is, the class of past administrations.  It is not a class of its own. Not to include in the Commission’s mandate past administrations similarly situated constitutes arbitrariness, which the equal protection clause cannot sanction.  Although Section 17 gives the President discretion to expand the scope of investigations of the Commission so as to include acts of graft and corruption committed in other past administrations, it does not guarantee that they would be covered in the future.  This expanded mandate of the Commission will still depend on the discretion of the President.  If he decides not to include them, the provision would be meaningless. Louis “Barok” C. Biraogo vs. The Philippine Truth Commission of 2010 / Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, et al. vs. Exec. Sec. Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., et al., G.R. No. 192935 & G.R. No. 19303, December 7, 2010.

Judicial review; requisites. Judicial review requires the following: (1) an actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power; (2) the person challenging the act must have the standing to question the validity of the act or issuance; (3) the question of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest opportunity; and (4) the issue of constitutionality must be the very subject matter of the case. As to standing, the Court here held that petitioners, who are legislators, met the requirement as they are questioning the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 1 creating the Truth Commission on the basis that the latter’s mandate constitutes usurpation of the power of the Congress.  However, with regard to the petitioner who is questioning EO No. 1 as a taxpayer, the Court held that he had no standing since he has not shown that he sustained, or is in danger of sustaining, any personal and direct injury attributable to the implementation of that EO.  The Court took cognizance of the case as the matter involved was of transcendental importance.  Louis “Barok” C. Biraogo vs. The Philippine Truth Commission of 2010 / Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, et al. vs. Exec. Sec. Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., et al., G.R. No. 192935 & G.R. No. 19303, December 7, 2010.

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December 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are selected December 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

CRIMINAL LAW

1. Revised Penal Code

Civil liability if death results. When death occurs due to a crime, the following may be recovered: (1) civil indemnity ex delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual or compensatory damages; (3) moral damages; (4) exemplary damages; (5) attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation; and (6) interest, in proper cases. In People vs. Tubongbanua, interest at the rate of 6% was ordered to be applied on the award of damages. This rule would be subsequently applied by the Supreme Court in several cases such as Mendoza vs. People, People vs. Buban, People vs. Guevarra, and People vs. Regalario. The rule was likewise adopted in this case. Thus, interest of 6% per annum should be imposed on the award of civil indemnity and all damages, i.e., actual or compensatory damages, moral damages and exemplary damages, from the date of finality of judgment until fully paid. People of the Philippines vs. Jose Pepito Combate, G.R. No. 189301, December 15, 2010.

Death of accused; criminal and civil liability extinguished. Death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction extinguishes his criminal liability as well as the civil liability based solely thereon. In this regard, Justice Regalado opined: “[T]he death of the accused prior to final judgment terminates his criminal liability and only the civil liability directly arising from and based solely on the offense committed, i.e., civil liability ex delicto in senso strictiore.” Dante Datu y Hernandez vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 169718, December 13, 2010.

Death of accused; civil liability survives if separate civil action can be filed. Corollarily, the claim for civil liability survives notwithstanding the death of the accused, if the same may also be predicated on a source of obligation other than delict. Article 1157 of the Civil Code enumerates these other sources of obligation from which the civil liability may arise as a result of the same act or omission: law, contracts, quasi-contracts, quasi-delicts. Where the civil liability survives, an action for recovery therefor may be pursued but only by way of filing a separate civil action and subject to Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure as amended. This separate civil action may be enforced either against the executor/administrator or the estate of the accused, depending on the source of obligation upon which the same is based as explained above.  Dante Datu y Hernandez vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 169718, December 13, 2010.

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Dissension in the Court: December 2010

The following are decisions promulgated by the High Court in December 2010 where at least one Justice felt compelled to express his or her dissent from the decision penned by the ponente.

In this episode, the search for truth takes center stage.  “What is the truth? Is truth unchanging law? We both have truths? Are mine the same as yours?” (from Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar).

1.            You Can’t Handle the Truth (Mendoza, Corona, Brion, Bersamin, Perez, Leonardo-de Castro and Peralta vs. Carpio, Carpio-Morales, Nachura, Abad and Sereno)

Acting on a campaign promise which was ultimately incorporated into his inaugural speech, President Benigno Aquino issued his first Executive Order creating the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010 tasked, among principally, to “seek and find the truth on, and toward this end, investigate reports of graft and corruption of such scale and magnitude that shock and offend the moral and ethical sensibilities of the people, committed by public officers and employees, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration; and thereafter recommend the appropriate action or measure to be taken thereon to ensure that the full measure of justice shall be served without fear or favor.”

Not long after the issuance of Executive Order No. 1, two petitions were filed with the Supreme Court, one by a taxpayer and another by legislators, questioning the legality of the creation of the Truth Commission.  In December 7, 2010, the Supreme Court promulgated its decision in Louis “Barok” C. Biraogo vs. The Philippine Truth Commission of 2010 / Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, et al. vs. Exec. Sec. Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., et al.

The Honorable Justice Jose C. Mendoza began by disposing of the legal standing issue, confirming that the petitioner-legislators had the requisite standing to challenge Executive Order No. 1 as they are allowed to question the validity of any official action which, to their mind, infringes on their prerogatives as legislators.  As for “Barok” Biraogo, although the Court conceded that he is a nontraditional plaintiff, he does possess the requisite legal standing given the transcendental importance of the case.

The Court discussed the possible legal bases that could support the creation by the President of the Truth Commission and resolved each of these as follows:

  • The creation of the Truth Commission cannot be supported by Section 31 of the Revised Administrative Code which grants the President the power to restructure the internal organization of the Office of the President.  Restructuring implies the reorganization of already existence bodies or offices.  As the Truth Commission is a new office, that provision of the Revised Administrative Code is unavailing.
  • The creation of the Truth Commission cannot be justified by the President’s power of control. Control is essentially the power to alter or modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former with that of the latter.  This power is different from the power to create public offices.
  • The creation of the Truth Commission cannot find statutory basis in Presidential Decree No. 1416, as amended by P.D. No. 1772, which granted the President the continuing authority to reorganize the national government, including the power to group, consolidate bureaus and agencies, to abolish offices, to transfer functions, to create and classify functions, services and activities, transfer appropriations, and to standardize salaries and materials, since this law was issued only in relation to providing for a transition towards a parliamentary form of government.  That statute therefore, is functus oficio.
  • The creation of the Truth Commission, however, can be justified under the Constitutional authority of the President to ensure that all laws be faithfully executed, which includes therefore the power to create ad hoc committees to conduct investigations and other fact finding activities.

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