Philippine Laws: January 2011

In the absence of any new law approved in January 2011, it may be interesting to discuss the legislative bill that has created a lot of ruckus in recent weeks—the Consolidated Reproductive Health (RH) Bill of the 15th Congress. 

By way of background, there have been five RH Bills filed with the 15th Congress—(a) the 28-section House Bill No. 96, introduced by Hon. Edcel C. Lagman; (b) the 25-section House Bill No. 101, introduced by Hon. Janette L. Garin, M.D.; (c) the 24-section House Bill No. 1160, introduced by Hon. Rodolfo G. Biazon; (d) the 7-section House Bill No. 1520, introduced by Hon. Augusto Boboy Syjuco, PhD; and (e) the 36-section House Bill No. 3387, introduced by Gabriela’s Hon. Luzviminda C. Ilagan, Anakpawis’s Hon. Rafael Mariano, ACT Teachers’ Hon. Antonio Tinio, and Kabataan Partylist’s Raymond Palatino.

The Consolidated RH Bill proposes to enact “The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011.”  Its Declaration of Policy appears laudable as it declares that (i) the State recognizes and guarantees “the exercise of the universal basic human right to reproductive health by all persons, particularly of parents, couples and women, consistent with their religious convictions, cultural beliefs and the demands of responsible parenthood” and, toward this end, “there shall be no discrimination against any person on grounds such as sex, age, religion, sexual orientation, disabilities, political affiliation and ethnicity”; (ii) the State recognizes and guarantees “the promotion of gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment as a health and human rights concern” and “the promotion of the welfare and rights of children”; (iii) the State likewise guarantees “universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable, effective and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies and relevant information and education thereon even as it prioritizes the needs of women and children, among other underprivileged sectors”; and (iv) the State shall “eradicate discriminatory practices, laws and policies that infringe on a person’s exercise of reproductive health rights”.

So, why then are there vehement oppositions to the Consolidated RH Bill, especially from certain church leaders and stalwarts?

January 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Tax Law

Here are selected January 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on tax law:

National Internal Revenue Code; section 76; option to carry-over excess income tax payments to succeeding taxable years; option irrevocable. Under section 76 of the National Internal Revenue Code (Tax Code) in case of overpayment of income taxes, a corporation may either file a claim for refund or carry-over the excess payments to the succeeding taxable year and the availment of one remedy precludes the other. However, unlike section 69 of the previous Tax Code, the carry-over of excess income tax payments is no longer limited to the succeeding taxable year but is carried over to the succeeding taxable year until fully utilized. Moreover, the option to carry-over excess income tax payments is not irrevocable. Hence; unutilized excess income tax payments may no longer be refunded. Belle Corporation vs Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 181298, January 10, 2011.

National Internal Revenue Code; value-added tax; claim for credit or refund of input value-added tax; requirements. In its section 112 (A), the National Internal Revenue Code sets down the following requirements in a claim for credit or refund of input value-added tax (VAT): (1) the taxpayer must be VAT registered, (2) the taxpayer must be engaged in sales which are zero-rated or effectively zero-rated, (3) the claim must be filed within two years after the close of the taxable quarter when such sales were made, and (4) the creditable input VAT due or paid must be attributable to such sales, except the transitional input VAT, to the extent that such input VAT has not been applied against the output VAT.  Silicon Philippines, Inc. (formerly Intel Philippines Manufacturing, Inc.) vs Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 172378, January 17, 2011.

National Internal Revenue Code; value-added tax; claim for credit or refund of input value-added tax; authority to print. The authority to print (ATP) need not be reflected or indicated in the invoices or receipts because there is no law or regulation requiring it. In the absence of such law or regulation, failure to print the ATP on the invoices or receipts should not result in the outright denial of a claim or the invalidation of the invoices or receipts for purposes of claiming a refund. However, section 238 of the National Internal Revenue Code (Tax Code) expressly requires persons engaged in business to secure an ATP from the Bureau of Internal Revenue prior to printing invoices or receipts. Under section 112 (A) of the Tax Code, a claimant must be engaged in sales which are zero-rated or effectively zero-rated. To prove this, duly registered invoices or receipts evidencing zero-rated sales must be presented. However, since the ATP is not indicated in the invoices or receipts, the only way to verify whether the invoices or receipts are duly registered is by requiring the claimant to present its ATP from the BIR. Without this proof, the invoices or receipts would have no probative value for the purpose of refund.  Silicon Philippines, Inc. (formerly Intel Philippines Manufacturing, Inc.) vs Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 172378, January 17, 2011.

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January 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are selected January 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Common carriers; standard of diligence. Under Article 1732 of the Civil Code, common carriers are persons, corporations, firms, or associations engaged in the business of carrying or transporting passenger or goods, or both by land, water or air for compensation, offering their services to the public. A common carrier is distinguished from a private carrier wherein the carriage is generally undertaken by special agreement and it does not hold itself out to carry goods for the general public.  The distinction is significant in the sense that the rights and obligations of the parties to a contract of private carriage are governed principally by their stipulations, not by the law on common carriers.

Loadmasters and Glodel, being both common carriers, are mandated from the nature of their business and for reasons of public policy, to observe the extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods transported by them according to all the circumstances of such case, as required by Article 1733 of the Civil Code.  When the Court speaks of extraordinary diligence, it is that extreme measure of care and caution which persons of unusual prudence and circumspection observe for securing and preserving their own property or rights.  This exacting standard imposed on common carriers in a contract of carriage of goods is intended to tilt the scales in favor of the shipper who is at the mercy of the common carrier once the goods have been lodged for shipment. Thus, in case of loss of the goods, the common carrier is presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently. This presumption of fault or negligence, however, may be rebutted by proof that the common carrier has observed extraordinary diligence over the goods.

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January 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Political Law

Here are selected January 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on political law:

Constitutional Law

Bill of Rights; Rights under custodial investigation. As found by the Court of Appeals, (1) there is no evidence of compulsion or duress or violence on the person of Nagares; (2) Nagares did not complain to the officers administering the oath during the taking of his sworn statement; (3) he did not file any criminal or administrative complaint against his alleged malefactors for maltreatment; (4) no marks of violence were observed on his body; and (5) he did not have himself examined by a physician to support his claim. Moreover, appellant’s confession is replete with details, which, according to the SC, made it highly improbable that it was not voluntarily given. Further, the records show that Nagares was duly assisted by an effective and independent counsel during the custodial investigation in the NBI. As found by the Court of Appeals, after Nagares was informed of his constitutional rights, he was asked by Atty. Esmeralda E. Galang whether he accepts her as counsel. During the trial, Atty. Galang testified on the extent of her assistance. According to her, she thoroughly explained to Nagares his constitutional rights, advised him not to answer matters he did not know, and if he did not want to answer any question, he may inform Atty. Galang who would be the one to relay his refusal to the NBI agents. She was also present during the entire investigation. Thus, the SC held that there was no duress or violence imposed on the person of Nagares during the custodial investigation and that Nagares was duly assisted by an independent counsel during such investigation in the NBI. People of the Philippines vs. Rodolfo Capitle and Arutor Nagares, G.R. No. 175330, January 12, 2010.

Bill of Rights; Double jeopardy. As a rule, a judgment of acquittal cannot be reconsidered because it places the accused under double jeopardy. On occasions, however, a motion for reconsideration after an acquittal is possible.  But the grounds are exceptional and narrow as when the court that absolved the accused gravely abused its discretion, resulting in loss of jurisdiction, or when a mistrial has occurred. In any of such cases, the State may assail the decision by special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65. Here, although complainant Vizconde invoked the exceptions, he was not able to bring his pleas for reconsideration under such exceptions. Complainant Vizconde cited the decision in Galman v. Sandiganbayan as authority that the Court can set aside the acquittal of the accused in the present case.  But the Court observed that the government proved in Galman that the prosecution was deprived of due process since the judgment of acquittal in that case was “dictated, coerced and scripted.”  It was a sham trial.  In this case, however, Vizconde does not allege that the Court held a sham review of the decision of the CA.  He has made out no case that the Court held a phony deliberation such that the seven Justices who voted to acquit the accused, the four who dissented, and the four who inhibited themselves did not really go through the process. Antonio Lejano vs. People of the Philippines / People of the Philippines vs. Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb, et al., G.R. No. 176389/G.R. No. 176864. January 18, 2011.

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January 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Legal and Judicial Ethics

Here are selected January 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on legal and judicial ethics:

Attorney; dishonesty. Respondent was accused of filing  various pleadings on behalf of parties who were already deceased. To all attorneys, truthfulness and honesty have the highest value, for, as the Court has said in Young v. Batuegas: “A lawyer must be a disciple of truth. He swore upon his admission to the Bar that he will ‘do no falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in court’ and he shall ‘conduct himself as a lawyer according to the best of his knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to his clients.’ He should bear in mind that as an officer of the court his high vocation is to correctly inform the court upon the law and the facts of the case and to aid it in doing justice and arriving at correct conclusion. The courts, on the other hand, are entitled to expect only complete honesty from lawyers appearing and pleading before them. While a lawyer has the solemn duty to defend his client’s rights and is expected to display the utmost zeal in defense of his client’s cause, his conduct must never be at the expense of truth.”  Respondent lawyer was found not liable as he had disclosed in a pleading the death of the deceased parties and the fact that he was representing the successors in interest of the deceased parties.  Jessie R. De Leon vs. Atty. Eduardo G. Castelo, A.C. No. 8620, January 12, 2011.

Court personnel; conduct prejudicial to service. The respondents were accused of failing to serve a court order and delaying the issuance and implementation of the writ of execution. Due to this negligence, the writ’s implementation was delayed for almost two years, thereby gave the defendants sufficient time to conceal and/or dissipate their assets to thwart plaintiffs’ efforts to recover in full the judgment awarded to them. Court employees bear the burden of observing exacting standards of ethics and morality. This is the price one pays for the honor of working in the judiciary.  Those who are part of the machinery dispensing justice, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk, must conduct themselves with utmost decorum and propriety to maintain the public’s faith and respect for the judiciary. Respondents were held guilty of conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service. Judge Philbert I. Iturralde, et al. vs. OIC Branch Clerk of Court Babe SJ. Ramirez, et al., A.M. No. P-03-1730, January 18, 2011.

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January 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are selected January 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:


Revised Penal Code

Aggravating circumstance; abuse of superior strength. To take advantage of superior strength is to purposely use excessive force, out of proportion to the means of defense available to the person attacked. As testified by Santiago Arasula, the lone eyewitness, the two accused were stabbing his brother, who was unarmed and intoxicated.  It is clear, therefore, that Armando was in no position to defend himself from two armed assailants, who, as Santiago testified, were armed with small bolos.  While it is true that superiority in number does not per se mean superiority in strength, accused-appellants in this case did not only enjoy superiority in number, but were armed with weapons, while the victim had no means with which to defend himself. Accused-appellants took advantage of their number and weapons, as well as the condition of the victim, to commit the crime. People of the Philippines vs. Hemiano De Jesus and Rodelo Morales, G.R. No. 186528, January 26, 2011.

Criminal liability; principal by inducement. Accused Rohmat is criminally responsible under the second paragraph of Article 17 of the Revised Penal Code, specifically, the provision on “principal by inducement.” The instructions and training he had given Asali on how to make bombs – coupled with their careful planning and persistent attempts to bomb different areas in Metro Manila and Rohmat’s confirmation that Trinidad would be getting TNT from Asali as part of their mission – prove the finding that Rohmat’s co-inducement was the determining cause of the commission of the crime. Such “command or advice [was] of such nature that, without it, the crime would not have materialized.” Further, the inducement was “so influential in producing the criminal act that without it, the act would not have been performed.” People of the Philippines vs. Khaddafy Janjalani, et al, G.R. No. 188314, January 10, 2011.

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