Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009

The Department of Justice and the Commission on Human Rights jointly promulgated the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 which was published in newspapers of general circulation in December 2010. The Implementing Rules seek to implement the provisions of Republic Act No. 9745, entitled “An Act Penalizing Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment and Prescribing Penalties Therefor.”

The Implementing Rules mostly just reiterates the provisions of the Anti-Torture Act, defining acts of torture and providing penalties for committing such acts, whether as principal, accomplice or accessory.  The Implementing Rules also reiterates that torture is a separate and independent crime and shall not absorb or be absorbed by any other crime or felony. Furthermore, persons guilty of torture shall not benefit from any special amnesty law or similar measures that will have the effect of exempting them from criminal proceedings or sanctions.

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March 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Tax Law

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

National Internal Revenue Code; irrevocability of option to carry-over excess income tax payments; utilization of excess income tax payments. In the previous decision, the Court denied taxpayer’s claim for refund because it has earlier opted to carry over its 1997 excess income tax payments by marking the tax credit option box in its 1997 income tax return. However, while taxpayer may no longer file a claim for refund, it properly carried over its 1997 excess income tax payments by applying portions thereof to its 1998 and 1999 minimum corporate income tax. Taxpayer may apply the unutilized excess income tax payments as a tax credit to the succeeding taxable years until fully utilized. Belle Corporation vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 181298, March 2, 2011.

Rules of Court; motion to withdraw petition before Supreme Court; effect on Court of Tax Appeals decision. Under Section 1, Rule 13 of the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court a case is deemed submitted for decision or resolution upon the filing of the last pleasing, brief or memorandum that the Court or its Rules require. In this case, the Court required petitioner taxpayer to file a reply; however, petitioner taxpayer opted to file a motion to withdraw. Clearly, by requiring petitioner taxpayer to file its reply, the Court has not yet deemed the case submitted for decision or resolution. The Court granted petitioner taxpayer’s motion to withdraw. By withdrawing the appeal, petitioner taxpayer is deemed to have accepted the decision of the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA). And since the CTA had already denied petitioner taxpayer’s request for the issuance of a tax credit certificate for insufficiency of evidence, it may no longer be included in petitioner taxpayer’s future claims. Petitioner taxpayer cannot be allowed to circumvent the denial of its request for a tax credit by abandoning its appeal and filing a new claim. As stated in a previous case, n appellant who withdraws his appeal must face the consequences of his withdrawal, such as the decision of the court a quo becoming final and executory. Central Luzon Drug Corporation vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 181371, March 2, 2011.

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March 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law

Here are selected March 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on remedial law:

CIVIL PROCEDURE 

Contempt; contempt proceedings distinguished from suspension proceedings.  Contempt and suspension proceedings are supposed to be separate and distinct.  They have different objects and purposes for which different procedures have been established.  Judge Blancaflor should have conducted separate proceedings.  As held in the case of People v. Godoy, thus:

 A contempt proceeding for misbehavior in court is designed to vindicate the authority of the court; on the other hand, the object of a disciplinary proceeding is to deal with the fitness of the court’s officer to continue in that office, to preserve and protect the court and the public from the official ministrations of persons unfit or unworthy to hold such office.  The principal purpose of the exercise of the power to cite for contempt is to safeguard the functions of the court and should thus be used sparingly on a preservative and not, on the vindictive principle.  The principal purpose of the exercise of disciplinary authority by the Supreme Court is to assure respect for orders of such court by attorneys who, as much as judges, are responsible for the orderly administration of justice.

x x x.  It has likewise been the rule that a notice to a lawyer to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt cannot be considered as a notice to show cause why he should not be suspended from the practice of law, considering that they have distinct objects and for each of them a different procedure is established. Contempt of court is governed by the procedures laid down under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, whereas disciplinary actions in the practice of law are governed by Rules 138 and 139 thereof.

Thus, it was grossly improper for Judge Blancaflor to consider his July 30, 2009 Order on the contempt charge as the notice required in the disciplinary proceedings suspending petitioners from the practice of law.  Alen Ross Rodriguez and Regidor Tulali vs. The Hon. Bienvenido Blancaflor, etc. and People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 190171, March 14, 2011.

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March 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Political Law

Here are selected March 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on political law.

Constitutional Law

COMELEC; House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal; Jurisdiction. The Supreme Court held in this case that despite recourse to it, it cannot rule on the issue of citizenship of petitioner Gonzalez.  Subsequent events showed that Gonzalez had not only been duly proclaimed, he had also taken his oath of office and assumed office as Member of the House of Representatives. Once a winning candidate has been proclaimed, taken his oath, and assumed office as a member of the House of Representatives, COMELEC’s jurisdiction over election contests relating to the candidate’s election and qualifications ends, and the HRET’s own jurisdiction begins. Fernando V. Gonzalez v. Commission on Elections, et al., G.R. No. 192856, March 8, 2011.

Equal Protection. The main issue in this case is whether or not PAGCOR is still exempt from corporate income tax and VAT with the enactment of R.A. No. 9337. The Supreme Court held that under Section 1 of R.A. No. 9337, amending Section 27 (c) of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1977, petitioner is no longer exempt from corporate income tax as it has been effectively omitted from the list of GOCCs that are exempt from it. The burden of proof rests upon the party claiming exemption to prove that it is, in fact, covered by the exemption so claimed. In this case, PAGCOR failed to prove that it is still exempt from the payment of corporate income tax, considering that Section 1 of R.A. No. 9337 amended Section 27 (c) of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 by omitting PAGCOR from the exemption. PAGCOR cannot find support in the equal protection clause of the Constitution, as the legislative records of the Bicameral Conference Meeting dated October 27, 1997, of the Committee on Ways and Means, show that PAGCOR’s exemption from payment of corporate income tax, as provided in Section 27 (c) of R.A. No. 8424, or the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, was not made pursuant to a valid classification based on substantial distinctions and the other requirements of  a reasonable classification by  legislative bodies, so that the law may operate only on some, and not all, without violating the equal protection clause.  The legislative records show that the basis of the grant of exemption to PAGCOR from corporate income tax was PAGCOR’s own request to be exempted. Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation v. Bureau of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 172087, March 15, 2011.

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March 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Legal and Judicial Ethics

Here are selected March 2011 rulings of the Philippine Supreme Court on legal and judicial ethics:

Administrative Cases Initiated by Supreme Court; procedure.   Respondent law professors asked for alternative reliefs should the Court find their Compliance unsatisfactory, that is, that the Show Cause Resolution be set for hearing and for that purpose, they be allowed to require the production or presentation of witnesses and evidence bearing on the plagiarism and misrepresentation issues in the Vinuya case (G.R. No. 162230) and the plagiarism case against Justice Del Castillo (A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC) and to have access to the records of, and evidence that were presented or may be presented in the ethics case against Justice Del Castillo.  It should be clarified that this is not an indirect contempt proceeding and Rule 71 (which requires a hearing) has no application to this case.  As explicitly ordered in the Show Cause Resolution this case was docketed as an administrative matter.  The rule that is relevant to this controversy is Rule 139-B, Section 13, on disciplinary proceedings initiated motu proprio by the Supreme Court, to wit:

SEC. 13. Supreme Court Investigators.—In proceedings initiated motu proprio by the Supreme Court or in other proceedings when the interest of justice so requires, the Supreme Court may refer the case for investigation to the Solicitor General or to any officer of the Supreme Court or judge of a lower court, in which case the investigation shall proceed in the same manner provided in sections 6 to 11 hereof, save that the review of the report of investigation shall be conducted directly by the Supreme Court.

From the foregoing provision, it cannot be denied that a formal investigation, through a referral to the specified officers, is merely discretionary, not mandatory on the Court.  Furthermore, it is only if the Court deems such an investigation necessary that the procedure in Sections 6 to 11 of Rule 139-A will be followed.  As respondent professors are fully aware, in general, administrative proceedings do not require a trial type hearing.  Re: Letter of the UP Law Faculty entitled “Restoring Integrity: A statement by the Faculty of the University of the Philippines College of Law on the allegations of plagiarism and misrepresentation in the Supreme Court,” A.M. No. 10-10-4-SC, March 8, 2011.

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March 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

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

Civil Code

Common carrier; breach of contract of carriage. There existed a contract of carriage between G & S, as the owner and operator of the Avis taxicab, and Jose Marcial, as the passenger of said vehicle.   As a common carrier, G & S is bound to carry [Jose Marcial] safely as far as human care and foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of very cautious persons, with due regard for all the circumstances.  However, Jose Marcial was not able to reach his destination safely as he died during the course of the travel. “In a contract of carriage, it is presumed that the common carrier is at fault or is negligent when a passenger dies or is injured.  In fact, there is even no need for the court to make an express finding of fault or negligence on the part of the common carrier. This statutory presumption may only be overcome by evidence that the carrier exercised extraordinary diligence.  Unfortunately, G & S miserably failed to overcome this presumption.  Both the trial court and the CA found that the accident which led to Jose Marcial’s death was due to the reckless driving and gross negligence of G & S’ driver, Padilla, thereby holding G & S liable to the heirs of Jose Marcial for breach of contract of carriage.

That the driver was acquitted in the criminal case for reckless imprudence is immaterial. Article 31 of the Civil Code provides, viz:

When the civil action is based on an obligation not arising from the act or omission complained of as a felony, such civil action may proceed independently of the criminal proceedings and regardless of the result of the latter.

In this case, the action filed by the heirs is primarily for the recovery of damages arising from breach of contract of carriage allegedly committed by G & S.  Clearly, it is an independent civil action arising from contract which is separate and distinct from the criminal action for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide filed by the heirs against Padilla by reason of the same incident.  Hence, regardless of Padilla’s acquittal or conviction in said criminal case, same has no bearing in the resolution of the present case.  Heirs of Jose Marcial K. Ochoa, namely: Ruby B. Ochoa, et al. v. G & S Transport Corporation/G & S Transport Corporation v. Heirs of Jose Marcial K. Ochoa, namely: Ruby B. Ochoa, et al., G.R. No. 170071 & G.R. No. 170125, March 9, 2011.

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March 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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

1.     Revised Penal Code

Aggravating circumstance; band. The Supreme Court held that the court a quo erred in finding the appellants guilty of robbery with homicide committed by a band. The Court declared that this is an erroneous denomination of the crime committed as there is no crime of robbery with homicide committed by a band. If robbery with homicide is committed by a band, the indictable offense would still be denominated as robbery with homicide under Article 294(1) of the Revised Penal Code. The element of band would be appreciated as an ordinary aggravating circumstance. People of the Philippines  v. Ngano Sugan, Nga Ben Latam, Gaga Latam, et al, G.R. No. 192789, March 23, 2011.

Evident Premeditation; requisites. For an aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation to be appreciated, all the following elements must be shown: (a) the time when the offender determined to commit the crime; (b) an act manifestly indicating that the culprit has clung to his determination; and (b) sufficient lapse of time between the determination and execution to allow him to reflect upon the consequences of his act. In this case, evident premeditation was not established.  First, there is no showing, much less an indication, that accused-appellant had taken advantage of a sufficient time to carefully plan the killing of Balano; or that a considerable time has lapsed enough for accused-appellant to reflect upon the consequences of his act but nevertheless clung to his predetermined and well-crafted plan.  The prosecution was only able to establish the fact of accused-appellant’s sudden stabbing of Balano after he hid behind the coconut tree.  This fact only successfully establishes the qualifying circumstance of treachery but not the aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation. In appreciating the aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation, it is indispensable that the fact of planning the crime be established. Particularly, it is indispensable to show how and when the plan to kill was hatched or how much time had elapsed before it was carried out. Accordingly, when there is no evidence showing how and when the accused planned to killing and how much time elapsed before it was carried out, evident premeditation cannot prosper. In this case, the prosecution failed to establish how and when the plan to kill Balano was devised.  As this has not been clearly shown, consequently, evident premeditation cannot be appreciated as an aggravating circumstance. People of the Philippines v. Allan Gabrino, G.R. No. 189981, March 9, 2011.

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