Wake Up, Philippines!

Arroyo to sign EO on waste segregation

Posted in DENR, Environment, Laws, Legislation, LGUs by Erineus on March 24, 2009

By Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:57:00 03/15/2009

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is drafting an executive order to be signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo this week that will compel the public to segregate their garbage, according to the agency’s press statement.

The executive order “will hasten the implementation” of Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, said the DENR statement released over the weekend.

“To support and strengthen RA 9003, the DENR is preparing an EO directing households to segregate their garbage and local government units (LGUs) to implement separate garbage collections for biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes,” DENR Secretary Lito Atienza said.

The law stipulates garbage segregation but it is hardly followed.

“Filipinos must be reminded of their responsibilities on waste disposal and the system of separate collection will definitely reduce the volume of garbage that accumulate daily,” Atienza said.

“We must continuously guide everybody on the proper disposal of garbage as we strictly monitor and enforce compliance to RA 9003, especially now that the effects of global warming and climate change are being experienced all over the world,” Atienza said.


Palace says UN is final arbiter on feud over RP baselines law

Posted in Laws, Territorial Integrity by Erineus on March 21, 2009
March 15, 2009, 12:00am

Unfazed by international protests over the country’s new baselines law, Malacañang said on Sunday the United Nations (UN) will be the final arbiter of the dispute over the islands in the South China Sea.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the United Nations could determine if the Philippines violated any law on its measurement of territorial baselines amid the conflicting claims by five other Asian neighbors.

Remonde said the Philippine government had expected the protests from China and Vietnam on the newly signed Philippines Baselines Act, but asserted the legislation was a legal basis for the protection of the country’s interests in the disputed islands.

He said Republic Act No. 9522 or the Philippine Archipelagic Baselines Law was crafted in accordance with United Nations Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations code of conduct over the South China Sea.

“We passed the baselines bill into law as part of our obligation under the Constitution to uphold and protect the sovereignty of our country,” he said over government-run Radyo ng Bayan.

“Second, this law is in consonance with UNCLOS which gave us a deadline to pass a baselines bill. It should be the UN that should be the final arbiter of this issue,” he said.

Remonde said there was nothing to worry about the protests lodged by China and Vietnam against the country’s passage of the baselines law. He said Manila would make a similar protest if China and Vietnam, or other claimant country also passed a similar baselines law.

“We should not worry. This is normal, natural part of international diplomacy,” he said. He noted that the President even had a cordial meeting with the new Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines.

Last Tuesday, President Arroyo signed into law RA 9522 that reaffirms the country’s claim over the more than 7,100 islands in its archipelago, including outlying territories in the disputed Spratlys.

The law states that Kalayaan Group of Island and Scarborough Shoal are “regime of islands” under the “Republic of the Philippines.”


Group to solons: Amend anti-trafficking law

Posted in Crime, Laws, Legislation, Trafficking by Erineus on March 16, 2009

By Marjorie Gorospe
First Posted 20:58:00 03/16/2009

Filed Under: Crime, Laws

MANILA, Philippines — A nongovernmental organization (NGO) urged lawmakers to amend the Anti-Trafficking Act of 2003, in particular the confidentiality clause it deemed partial to offenders.

Susan Ople, president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, said the law currently protects the right to privacy of both the victim and the accused, allowing traffickers to continue their illegal activities.

“We believe in the need to protect the identities of the victims but not the accused especially if they have outstanding warrants of arrest,” Ople said.

Section 6 of Republic Act 9208 states that “at any stage of the investigation, prosecution and trial of an offense under this act, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, court personnel and medical practitioners, as well as parties to the case, shall recognize the right to privacy of the trafficked person and the accused.”

“The only thing we [NGOs] can hold on to is our advocacy, so how can we prevent trafficking if none of us can tell anyone who preys on the victims,” said Ople, pointing out that trafficking is a transnational crime that involves syndicates with power and resources.

She said her organization has asked the Senate labor committee, headed by Senator Jose Estrada, to amend the law.

Ople said Estrada has asked her group to draft the appropriate amendments.

“We see that there is a loophole in this law, and that’s what we’re trying to work out,” said Ople, daughter of the late Senator Blas Ople.


Abu Sayyaf turning Mindanao into a wasteland

Posted in Crime, Kidnapping, Killing/Murder, Laws, Mindanao by Erineus on March 6, 2009

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:10:00 03/05/2009

I think the appeal of the Commission on Human Rights to the Abu Sayyaf to free the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) volunteers serves no purpose at this point. Diplomacy is strange to the Abu Sayyaf bandits, who behead their captives without any “introductory statement.” The very fact that the bandits targeted neutral volunteers who have selflessly given their time and energy to help the marginalized sectors of Philippine society is a clear indication that they have no respect for the Red Cross symbol and everything it represents.

Already, very few volunteers and NGOs operate in the provinces of Basilan and Sulu; and the plight of the three ICRC workers tells us what happens to those who do. After this, who else would want to serve these beautiful but terror-laden islands of Mindanao? The remaining teachers of Landang Gua in Zamboanga are already deserting their school, fearing that what happened to their co-teachers could readily happen to them. What will become of the students they leave behind? But can we really blame them? While already facing many challenges, the price of their dedicated service is very steep — their personal safety. People who seek to serve humbly and honestly do not deserve this kind of treatment.

I believe that, at this point, the much-opposed “military solution” is the best remedy against the abysmally violent Abu Sayyaf. Giving the Abu Sayyaf (through negotiations) just a hint of a possible ransom payment for the hostages’ release would only encourage its members and those who idolize them to engage in kidnapping as a profitable vocation.

Of course, this means that the Armed Forces of the Philippines should perfectly execute its rescue mission. We certainly do not need another “Martin Burnham” here. Then after this crisis, perhaps the government can focus on development efforts to reduce the “appeal” of the Abu Sayyaf’s banditry.

I don’t want to watch or hear any more stories of kidnappings and beheadings. And, I believe, so do the rest of the Filipino people. But for this to happen, every single Abu Sayyaf bandit must be hunted down. We should never allow the Abu Sayyaf to turn the culturally diverse and naturally rich island of Mindanao into a wasteland.

FRANCIS ERIC ALABA, 437-A Bayabas Extension, Punta Princesa, Cebu City


Medicines still expensive despite law

Posted in Congress, Consumer, Laws, Legislation, Medicine, Pharmaceuticals by Erineus on February 27, 2009

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:09:00 02/27/2009

The Cheaper Medicines Bill was signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in June 2008. Eight months have passed since then and the costs of the medicines that we regularly buy as “maintenance” to keep ourselves “alive” on Earth have remained the same, i.e., “napakamahal pa rin” [still very expensive].

The big question is: When will this law be finally implemented? Will this law follow the sad pattern of many other laws that have come (and gone) before it, turning out to be mere pieces of papers and creating false hopes among our people?

It is indeed very sad to admit that the executive branch of government has gained notoriety for the non-implementation of many laws. This being the case, Congress might as well stop making laws, otherwise the un-implemented laws will just continue to pile up and, worse, we will just be wasting a lot of money. (We all know it costs millions of pesos to pass a single bill in Congress.)

PAUL R. MORTEL, MBLA Court, Malanday, Marikina City


Undermining public faith

Posted in Jurisprudence, Laws, Supreme Court Decisions by Erineus on February 25, 2009

This case defines “public document” in the crime of Falsification of Public Document under Article 171 (2) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) committed by a Public Officer or employee or notary. It also answers the question of whether gain or benefit on the part of the offender or prejudice to public or a third person is an essential element of the crime.

The case was about a Barangay Resolution supposedly passed on September 24, 1995, allocating the amount of P18,000 as disbursement for the expenses in a seminar to be attended by Larry, the Barangay Chairman and Nandy, the Barangay Kalihim of a barangay in Laguna. The case arose because on said date only Larry, and Kagawads Manny, Mando and Cardo went to the barangay health center to attend a pre-scheduled session. So for lack of quorum, no actual session of the Sanggunian Pambarangay took place on said date.

But Manny, Mando and Cardo later found out that Barangay Resolution No. T-95 supposedly copied from the minutes of the session held on September 24, 1995 was passed by all the kagawads who supposedly attended it. The title of Res.T-95 clearly states that the Sanggunian had already approved the allocation of P18,000 for Larry and Nandy and that it was kagawad Rene who made the motion duly seconded by kagawad Ric for the passing of the resolution when they did not even attend the supposed session. Nandy as Barangay Kalihim even certified said resolution as true and correct and Larry as Punong Barangay attested to its truthfulness. This discovery prompted the Sanggunian to hold a special session of October 15, 1995 during which seven Kagawads passed a resolution stating that no session was actually held on September 24, 1995.

Thereafter, Manny, Cardo and Mando filed a complaint of Falsification of Public Document before the Ombudsman for Luzon who later charged Larry and Nandy before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) with the said crime punishable under Article 172 (2) of the RPC. After trial the RTC convicted them of the said crime and sentence them to imprisonment of 4 years and 2 months minimum to 8 years and two months maximum.

Larry and Nandy questioned the RTC decision. They contended that the said resolution was nothing more than a mere proposal or draft which Nandy, the Kalihim, as was the practice, prepared and signed a week before the scheduled session. They also said that they did not benefit from or that the public was not prejudiced by the resolution in question. Were Larry and Nandy correct?

No. Resolution Number T-95 is a public document. Public documents are written official acts or records of official acts of the sovereign authority, official bodies and tribunals and public officials whether of the Philippines or of a foreign country (Sec. 19 (a) Rule 132, Rules of Court). Verily the resolutions or ordinances of Sanggunians are public documents as they are written official acts in the exercise of their legislative authority. Thus the public money-disbursing and seemingly genuine Res. T-95 in the preparation of which Larry and Nandy, in their official capacity had a hand, is a public document within the context of Article 171 (2) of the RPC.

The contents and appearance of Res. T-95 argue against the very idea of its being a mere proposal or draft barangay enactment. A draft resolution would not be numbered, would not be carrying certificatory and attestation signatures and would not be sealed. It would not include particulars as the attendance of all members and the identity of the moving and seconding Kagawads relative to its passage for such details are not certain unless rehearsed or planned. And the notion that it was rehearsed or planned is negated by the Resolution of October 15, 1995 signed by 7 kagawads virtually thrashing Res. T-95.

All the elements of falsification under Article 171(2) are therefore present: the offenders are public officers; they take advantage of their official position; they falsified a public document by causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so participate.

Falsification of a public document is consummated upon the execution of the false document. Erring public officers’ failure to attain their objectives is not determinative of their guilt or innocence. The element of gain or benefit on the part of the offender or prejudice to a third person as a result of the falsification or the tarnishing of the document’s integrity is not essential to maintain a charge of falsification. What is punished is principally the undermining of the public faith and the destruction of truth as solemnly proclaimed therein (Goma and Umale vs. Court of Appeals et. al. G.R. 168437 January 8, 2009).

Note: Books containing compilation of my articles on Labor Law and Criminal Law (Vols. I and II) are now available. Call tel. 7249445.

*      *      *

E-mail at: jcson@pldtdsl.net
View previous articles of this column.

A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away)
By Jose C. Sison

Updated February 25, 2009 12:00 AM

Restoring trust in the majesty of law

Posted in Judiciary, Laws by Erineus on February 24, 2009

Amazing! The Puno Court did it again. Access to justice by our marginalized sectors has been institutionalized in the judicial branch through the Rule on Mandatory Legal Aid Service. The Supreme Court now requires “practicing lawyers” of the country to render 60 hours of free legal aid yearly, effective July 1. Sharing five hours of service a month for the poor and the underprivileged also earns for the members of the Bar credit units under the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Program.

The mandatory pro bono legal service program is the latest in a series of unprecedented actions by the highest court of the land that truly “bridge gaps and remove roadblocks,” as the Supreme Court’s “Access to Justice” poster points out. It is a response to a major recommendation from the participants of the “Increasing Access to Justice” forum the Supreme Court spearheaded on June 30 to July 2, 2008, simultaneously in Manila, Cebu and Cagayan de Oro.

I am sure our fisherfolk, farmers, pensioners, children, women and men who suffer from injustices due to poverty and lack of knowledge of the law are ecstatic about this development. The rule of law will hopefully be reinvigorated with this program, with more lawyers serving the downtrodden and in public interest advocacy for the environment and women’s and children’s issues.

Because the pace of delivering justice is slow, there is the consequent erosion of trust in the justice system. It is unfortunate that our Supreme Court perennially receives the lowest share of the national budget compared to the executive and legislative branches. How can it operate effectively with meager financial resources? It has been saddled with clogged dockets and enormous challenges in attracting more lawyers to join the judiciary. There are many vacant courts nationwide.

This lack of resources gave rise to legally authorizing local government units to provide for the allowances of the judges. But crafty politicians have unfortunately used this as a tool to pressure judges to “toe the line – or else…” This prevailing arrangement is a big blow to the independence of the judiciary and has to be reevaluated. Giving the Supreme Court a bigger share in the budgetary appropriations is a better solution and detaches it completely from the dirty world of politics.

It is a tribute to the collective vision of the justices that, despite the constraints, the Supreme Court is creative in harnessing its expanded power of judicial review and rule-making power to change mindsets and transform society, not just the lawyers. It has evolved to become a key decision maker on human rights, social justice and in protecting the environment, which, in Tony Oposa’s words, translate to restoring “ecological sanity.”

The rules on the writ of amparo, writ of habeas data, establishment of the green courts and small claims courts, the Justice on Wheels program, the annual forum on prevailing social issues that bring together the stakeholders of society and now the Rule on the Mandatory Legal Aid Service undeniably restore the people’s trust in the majesty of the Law.

Amid rampant corruption and anomalies, earning the shameful label as the most corrupt country in South East Asia, the Philippines is on the alarm list of the most politically unstable nations of the world, ranking No. 59 (of 177 countries) in the 2008 Failed States Index. Culling from the data of the Worldwide Governance Indicators of the World Bank (1996-2007), we are in the 10th to 25th percentile in the bottom list in political stability and in the control of corruption.

Like firemen duty-bound to stop a “conflagration,” who else but the lawyers, as stewards of the law and as officers of the court, should lead in restoring the rule of law, exact accountability from public officials and colleagues in the wrong side of the fence, and narrow the justice gap – at this crucial times?

Hopefully, the members of the Bar will voice out their ideas and be part of the process in the formulation and adoption of the implementing regulations of the program.

On February 28, lawyers will choose the officers and members of the board of directors of their respective IBP chapters. The elections for Cebu and Cebu City Chapter officers will be from 8 a.m. to noon at the lobby of the Justice Hall. We hope for a wider participation from the lawyers in this election.

By Gloria Ramos
Cebu Daily News
First Posted 14:11:00 02/23/2009