April 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are select April 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.         REVISED PENAL CODE

Composite crime; defined.  The felony of rape with homicide is a composite crime.  A composite crime, also known as a special complex crime, is composed of two or more crimes that the law treats as a single indivisible and unique offense for being the product of a single criminal impulse. It is a specific crime with a specific penalty provided by law and differs from a compound or complex crime under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code, which states that “[w]hen a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies, or when an offense is a necessary means for committing the other, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed, the same to be applied in its maximum period. People v. Villaflores,G.R. No. 184926, April 11, 2012.

Composite crime and compound crime differentiated. There are distinctions between a composite crime, on the one hand, and a complex or compound crime under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code, on the other hand. In a composite crime, the composition of the offenses is fixed by law; in a complex or compound crime, the combination of the offenses is not specified but generalized, that is, grave and/or less grave, or one offense being the necessary means to commit the other. For a composite crime, the penalty for the specified combination of crimes is specific; for a complex or compound crime, the penalty is that corresponding to the most serious offense, to be imposed in the maximum period. A light felony that accompanies a composite crime is absorbed; a light felony that accompanies the commission of a complex or compound crime may be the subject of a separate information. People v. Villaflores, G.R. No. 184926, April 11, 2012.

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April 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Legal and Judicial Ethics

Here are select April 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on legal and judicial ethics:

Attorney; falsification. Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a lawyer may be removed or suspended on the following grounds: (1) deceit; (2) malpractice; (3) gross misconduct in office; (4) grossly immoral conduct; (5) conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude; (6) violation of the lawyer’s oath; (7) willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court; and (8) corruptly or willfully appearing as a lawyer for a party to a case without authority so to do.

The crime of falsification of public document is contrary to justice, honesty, and good morals and, therefore, involves moral turpitude. Moral turpitude includes everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.  It involves an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man owes his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and woman, or conduct contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.

Disbarment is the appropriate penalty for conviction by final judgment for a crime involving moral turpitude. Re: SC Decision date May 20, 2008 in G.R. No. 161455 under Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court vs. Atty. Rodolfo D. Pactolin. A.C. No. 7940, April 24, 2012.

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April 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are select April 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Compensation/set-off; requisites. The applicable provisions of law are Articles 1278, 1279 and 1290 of the Civil Code of the Philippines:

Art. 1278. Compensation shall take place when two persons, in their own right, are creditors and debtors of each other.

Art. 1279. In order that compensation may be proper, it is necessary:

(1) That each one of the obligors be bound principally, and that he be at the same time a principal creditor of the other;

(2) That both debts consist in a sum of money, or if the things due are consumable, they be of the same kind, and also of the same quality if the latter has been stated;

(3) That the two debts be due;

(4) That they be liquidated and demandable;

(5) That over neither of them there be any retention or controversy, commenced by third persons and communicated in due time to the debtor.

Art. 1290. When all the requisites mentioned in Article 1279 are present, compensation takes effect by operation of law, and extinguishes both debts to the concurrent amount, even though the creditors and debtors are not aware of the compensation.

Based on the foregoing, in order for compensation to be valid, the five requisites mentioned in the above-quoted Article 1279 should be present, as in the case at bench. Insular Investment and Trust Corporation vs. Capital One Equities Corp. and Planters Development Bank; G.R. No. 183308, April 25, 2012

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April 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Tax Law

National Internal Revenue Code; excise tax on petroleum products; sales to international carriers; claim for refund. The exemption from excise tax payment on petroleum products under Section 135 (a) of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) is conferred on international carriers who purchased the same for their use or consumption outside the Philippines. Section 135 (a) in relation to the other provisions on excise tax and from the nature of indirect taxation, may only be construed as prohibiting the manufacturers-sellers of petroleum products from passing on the tax to international carriers by incorporating previously paid excise taxes into the selling price.  Considering that the excise taxes attaches to petroleum products “as soon as they are in existence as such,” there can be no outright exemption from the payment of excise tax on petroleum products sold to international carriers. The sole basis of taxpayer-manufacturer’s claim for refund is the express grant of excise tax exemption in favor of international carriers under Section 135 (a) for the latter’s purchases of locally manufactured petroleum products.  Pursuant to ruling of the Court in Philippine Acetylene, a tax exemption being enjoyed by the buyer cannot be the basis of a claim for tax exemption by the manufacturer or seller of the goods for any tax due to it as the manufacturer or seller.   The excise tax imposed on petroleum products under Section 148 is the direct liability of the manufacturer who cannot thus invoke the excise tax exemption granted to its buyers who are international carriers. An excise tax is a tax on the manufacturer and not on the purchaser, and there being no express grant under the NIRC of exemption from payment of excise tax to local manufacturers of petroleum products sold to international carriers, and  absent any provision in the NIRC authorizing the refund or crediting of such excise taxes paid, Section 135 (a) should be construed as prohibiting the shifting of the burden  of the excise tax to the international carriers who buys petroleum products from the local manufacturers.  Said provision thus merely allows the international carriers to purchase petroleum products without the excise tax component as an added cost in the price fixed by the manufacturers or distributors/sellers.  Consequently, the oil companies which sold such petroleum products to international carriers are not entitled to a refund of excise taxes previously paid on the goods.Commissioner of Internal Revenue vs. Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation, G.R. No. 188497, April 25, 2012.

(Caren thanks Ma. Luisa D. Manalaysay for assisting in the preparation of this post.)

April 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

Here are select April 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on labor law and procedure:

Dismissal; due process. When the Labor Code speaks of procedural due process, the reference is usually to the two (2)-written notice rule envisaged in Section 2 (III), Rule XXIII, Book V of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code. MGG Marine Services, Inc. v. NLRC tersely described the mechanics of what may be considered a two-part due process requirement which includes the two-notice rule, “x x x one, of the intention to dismiss, indicating therein his acts or omissions complained against, and two, notice of the decision to dismiss; and an opportunity to answer and rebut the charges against him, in between such notices.”

Here, the first and second notice requirements have not been properly observed. The adverted memo would have had constituted the “charge sheet,” sufficient to answer for the first notice requirement, but for the fact that there is no proof such letter had been sent to and received by him. Neither was there compliance with the imperatives of a hearing or conference. Suffice it to point out that the record is devoid of any showing of a hearing or conference having been conducted. And the written notice of termination itself did not indicate all the circumstances involving the charge to justify severance of employment. For violating petitioner’s right to due process, the Supreme Court ordered the payment to petitioner of the amount of P30,000 as nominal damages. Armando Ailing vs. Jose B. Feliciano, Manuel F. San Mateo III, et al., G.R. No. 185829. April 25, 2012.

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April 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Commercial Law

Here are select April 2012 rulings of the Philippine Supreme Court on commercial law:

Corporation; derivative suit. In Hi-Yield Realty, Incorporated v. Court of Appeals, the Court enumerated the requisites for filing a derivative suit, as follows:

(a)  the party bringing the suit should be a shareholder as of the time of the act or transaction complained of, the number of his shares not being material;

(b)  he has tried to exhaust intra-corporate remedies, i.e., has made a demand on the board of directors for the appropriate relief but the latter has failed or refused to heed his plea; and

(c)  the cause of action actually devolves on the corporation, the wrongdoing or harm having been, or being caused to the corporation and not to the particular stockholder bringing the suit. Lisam Enterprises, Inc., represented by Lolita A. Soriano and Lolita A. Soriano vs. Banco de Oro Unibank, Inc., et al., G.R. No. 143264, April 23, 2012.

Corporation; doing business without a license.  The appointment of a distributor in the Philippines is not sufficient to constitute “doing business” unless it is under the full control of the foreign corporation.  On the other hand, if the distributor is an independent entity which buys and distributes products, other than those of the foreign corporation, for its own name and its own account, the latter cannot be considered to be doing business in the Philippines.  It should be kept in mind that the determination of whether a foreign corporation is doing business in the Philippines must be judged in light of the attendant circumstances.

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