Premature Marriage Now Decriminalized by Virtue of RA 10655

By virtue of Republic Act 10655, which was signed into law on March 13, 2015, Article 351 of the Revised Penal Code has been repealed and in effect decriminalized premature marriage. Article 351 provides:

Art. 351. Premature marriages. — Any widow who shall marry within three hundred and one day from the date of the death of her husband, or before having delivered if she shall have been pregnant at the time of his death, shall be punished by arresto mayor and a fine not exceeding 500 pesos.

The same penalties shall be imposed upon any woman whose marriage shall have been annulled or dissolved, if she shall marry before her delivery or before the expiration of the period of three hundred and one day after the legal separation.

The repeal is without prejudice to the provisions of the Family Code on paternity and filiation.


The rationale for the repeal is that it is discriminatory among women as it curtails their right to marry under the above-stated circumstances. The salient purpose of the prohibition under Article 351 is to impose among women a mourning period which prohibition is not imposed among men. 

LAST MINUTE TIPS FOR THE BAR EXAM FROM A FORMER BARRISTER

Image credit: GMA Network

This blog post is a continuation of my previous post on Hurdling the Bar Exam – Overhaul Your Strategies to Pass The Bar. November is getting closer and I can relate well about the feeling of jitters, anxiousness and sleepless nights that barristers now experience. I, too have some shares of terrorizing thoughts and going ballistic thinking about how to shortlist the topics to read during the last few weeks before the most dreaded month for the bar exam comes. With my sincere desire to help barristers, most especially some classmates who are going to take the bar and are texting me for help, here are some helpful (I hope) tips I can share with you to help you get through during the BIG DAY.

Tip #1 - EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

Even if you come prepared I must say that no one will ever be that prepared and ready for the unexpected bar questions on the BIG DAY. So the first tip that I can give you is to EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED and be ready how to manage your emotion and mental block that can possibly happen. The emotional rush will be overwhelming, believe me, especially when the first question is something that you are uncomfortable of answering (or unfortunately you do not know how to answer).  The bar examiners have their way of making barristers “comfortable” or “uncomfortable” about the questions that they will throw at you to test your wits and ability to argue within the legal purview. The first questions will always be the “gulpi de gulat” part. The question will either be the very basic that you tend to neglect studying during your review since you consider them negligible (yeah, such as different national territory of the Philippines – territorial zone, contiguous zone, etc. and the examiner asks you to define each!) or a very difficult case law that requires you to exercise your own judgment and ruling based on the facts given and on jurisprudence. You need to be mentally composed and relaxed during the exam to give yourself some breather to think clearly. Once you panic, mental block will consume you and you will definitely be lost.

Tip #2 – OVERCOMING MENTAL BLOCK

                Mental block is definitely every barrister’s foe. A common reaction to this is mental and emotional panic. It is a mistake to answer the question immediately while you are at this “unfit” state. To confront your mental block, spend a few seconds to relax yourself, regain composure and re-affirm to yourself that you have prepared enough for the bar to regain your confidence in answering the question. Don’t be too desperate in answering the question outright. You can skip the question and mark the questionnaire so that you can go back for it later. Do not forget to allocate a page for that question on the test notebook. By going to the next question that you are able to answer you can regain back your confidence that you are capable of defending your ground in the battlefield.

Another trick that I have learned from the research study conducted by the Science of Neuro-Linguistic Programming is to look up instead of staring at your desk during a mental block. Based on their brain research the position of the eyes actually influences which part of the brain we are trying to access. Looking up allows us to access information from our memories. Try it! There’s no harm done to do this when you are already in a desperate situation as a mental block during the bar exam.

Another thing that you can try is using Mind Mapping. Sure you cannot directly hit the bull’s eye to the answer but with mind mapping you start to trigger your memory to bring out everything you know that is related about the topic/question you have trouble of answering. The power of association will come into play and once triggered you can certainly pick up something useful that can help you answer the difficult question and play around such information in order to give the closest answer that you can possibly give the examiner. Lastly, even if you have a mental block never leave the question blank. Just give it your best shot. Getting 1 point from your answer is better than getting a zero. Remember 1 point and even .01 from your rating can influence your passing or not passing the bar so every point counts! So give it a good fight! Your future career depends on it!

Tip #3 – DO NOT RELY HEAVILY ON TIPS

                There is so much commotion about getting tips from other schools and review centers. While tips are helpful in some ways it can also be distracting in another. Tips can be helpful but common sense will always tell you that even granting other schools or review centers may have sources of getting tips you will still know the answer to the bar questions if you come prepared. Honestly, I was able to get hold of some of these so-called “tips” on the first day but mind you the tips are useless since not a single topic from it came out from the bar. After a quick scan of the last minute tip shared by a friend I lost interest from it since I already know what was written there. What I am saying is tips or no tips you already have the body of knowledge in your brain that will help you get through the bar questions. Rely on that heavily and not on some tips.

On the other hand, there are tips that are actually reliable. Although they are not the actual answer it helps you focus on important topics that might actually come out in the bar and gives you time to research or ask others about that topic before the exam begins. But again, tips or no tips you can still answer if you prepared well during your review. That’s my stand and point of view about tips and I hope that you will make it yours, too for the sake of passing the bar. Just play safe while in the battlefield and wear your own armor and weapons.

Bar Operations 2010 Then at La Salle


Tip #4 – BRING YOUR OWN SURVIVAL KIT

                If there is something good about bar operations, it is the convenience they provide to the barristers. They provide a kit that contains everything you need from bottles of water, snacks, candies, lunch, fruits and other food stuffs and yeah medicine (this is not overdoing it for this became helpful when a classmate needs to go several times in the comfort room before the exam starts because of an upset stomach, most likely caused by anxiousness, and the medicine I prepared for myself helped calm down his stomach from going ballistic). I appreciate the efforts of my school’s bar operation organized by the school council for which I was an officer throughout my four years in law school but as I emphasized before I prefer taking with me my own armor and weapons and I selectively chose the medicines I will likely need during an “emergency.” And yes I did plan for and prepared my own “kit” since I expect that outside the UST will be chaotic and crowded and there is a chance that I will miss my school’s bar operation group and I can’t grab the kits that they will provide.

                The lunch break is only good for 1 hour and taking into account the time it takes to walk and find a place to eat, in addition to the long line it takes to order your food plus the agony of walking under the heat of the sun or the rain that can be very stressful, it is smarter to stay within the UST campus to eat your lunch. I prefer eating light lunch and I have with me dark chocolates that keep my stomach feeling full throughout the day because they contain high fiber. Dark chocolates also enhance the blood flow to the brain and the heart which enhance cognitive function. The last thing I want to worry about is food and lack of energy so I make sure I get a dose of caffeine before going to the examination center, munch on some dark chocolates to make me feel fuller during the exam, chew some Mentos to give me some refreshing and cool feeling while answering on my test booklet and two bottles of water to keep me hydrated just enough but will not let me go to the comfort room during the examination. That’s all for my survival kit.

CPC Central Bar Operations at UST

Tip #5 – LEAVE EXCESS BAGGAGE BEHIND

                You probably wonder why I included this here. Well, personally I was going through hell and fire during my review period and it takes a lot of commitment, courage and determination to focus. I refused that my personal circumstances will tip over my emotional and mental balance so I decided I need to unload myself from whatever baggage I was carrying at that time. Each one of us will always have our own personal circumstances, such as problems involving family, relationships, money, work, etc. that will be a barrier in focusing on your review and the bar. I have given up some things and made some major decisions that helped me unload the excess baggage I have been carrying for many years and that helped me attract positive vibes. If you have those baggage to carry with you during the bar month try your best to throw it away or at least shut them out of your system temporarily. It may be easier said than done but I do know how devastating it can be to have this baggage around during the review and bar months. They are a major distraction and destruction and you have to make a call in keeping them from affecting the outcome of your bar exam.

Tip #6 – NEVER DISCUSS THE ANSWERS OF THE BAR QUESTIONS

                For your own peace of mind’s sake never attempt to discuss the answer of the bar questions with someone. Since you will have to endure the 4 Sundays of November, it is best to keep mum about the bar questions/answers and move on studying for the next subject that you will take. I know some people who tried to search for the answers of the past bar questions and spent the whole week worrying and feeling bad about giving the wrong answer that they lost focus on reviewing for the next Sunday’s exam. It can distract you from focusing on what matters the most at the moment. It can even make you lose confidence in taking the bar for the upcoming Sundays and you will eventually lose focus because of some nagging thoughts in your mind. Don’t let this practice kill your chance in giving your best for the succeeding Sundays.

Tip #7 – TAKE MEMORY ENHANCER

                Barristers are already subject to mental fatigue during the review months. Aside from the lengthy and exhaustive coverage of the bar exam, the type of the exam in the bar is more challenging than any other professional examination in the Philippines. With an essay type of examination you need to be mentally alert and you need to have a good analytical skill and comprehension. This in itself can become burdensome to your brain to process everything. Taking a memory enhancer can help you boost your cognitive performance. However, take precaution when taking anything. Make sure that you have a clearance from your doctor if you have some medical condition. Taking them will not guarantee you on passing the bar but can help enhance your cognitive function to help you process the information you learned during your review and help retain them in your memory. If you have some problems about memory retention and recall you may find this helpful. Memory enhancers can keep your mind sharp and allows you to focus and process information quickly. It also enhances your analytical and comprehension skills which are essential during the bar exam.

Tip #8 – PRAY SINCERELY AND REASONABLY

                Prayer is a very powerful tool that can help you get through all sorts of challenges of the bar exam. But pray reasonably. By this I mean pray sincerely coming from your heart. This will do and you shall receive the divine guidance that you need. Saying a litany of prayers before the bar will not be of much help if you did not actually prepared well. The answers will not magically come to your mind during the bar exam. The divine guidance will happen when you most need it such as when you start panicking and saying a prayer will help calm you down or you will never feel anxious at all during the bar exam or when you come across a question and you are able to answer it very smoothly, or you come across a question which you are able to read before in your review. These are some of the “wonders” that prayers can do. But you need to help yourself, too. It is unreasonable to ask passing the bar when you have not spent much effort to make it happen.

Tip #9 – GIVE YOURSELF A GOOD FIGHT, YOU OWE IT TO YOURSELF

                I call the bar exam the battleground because it will place you to a situation where you will struggle to fight for a spot to pass. Based on statistics, out of thousands of bar examinees only just a few hundred in some cases and not over two thousand for most cases only pass every year. The bar is no doubt the HARDEST professional examination in the Philippines and one of the hardest in the world. You need to realize this the moment you step your foot in law school in your first year. It takes years before you can build your database of knowledge about the law and the grand finale to test what you have learned is the bar exam. Knowing your struggles during your school days, the things you gave up and sacrificed, and the sleepless nights for many years to get this far, you should realize that you deserve to be on the 20% more or less who will pass the bar and not on the 80% casualties every year. Claim your spot to take your Lawyer's Oath soon!

BAR PASSERS TAKING THEIR LAWYERS OATH BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES
Image credit: GMA Network


Tip #10 – REMIND YOURSELF OF THE GOOD THINGS TO COME

                Inspire yourself during the bar exam by thinking about the good things that are yet to come. Do you miss going out with friends and to socialize? Is your current job does not give you self fulfillment and satisfaction? Are you looking forward to getting long hours of sleep? After the bar you can indulge in socializing or sleeping for long hours and it will give you the leeway to do whatever you want to do. I am sure there are many good stuffs that you look forward to of doing after the bar exam. You can also look forward to practicing the law profession once you pass and get the Atty title before your name. After what you have sacrificed during the review months you are probably excited to be liberated from your review routines and become rewarded for your hard work by passing the bar exam. With these inspirations in mind you can condition yourself to do your best during the big day. The deliberate conditioning of the mind through positive thoughts can go a long way of driving you towards achieving your goals. 

                Hats up for all the barristers this year for I truly understand your sacrifices and struggles to get this far on your journey. Always look forward with positive thoughts and highly driven motivation to get through. It is not easy to be on the battleground but with the right armor and weapons you take with you the reward of winning is very fulfilling. Good luck and I’ll be offering special prayers to all of you.
               


State of Lawlessness is Not Martial Law



State of lawlessness is different from a martial law. This is my answer when someone at the firm asked me if the country will be placed under martial law after President Duterte declared a state of lawlessness in Davao that marred the country last September 2, 2016. The fear that the country will be placed under martial law is understandable considering the political history that left many Filipinos scarred until this time. In order to shed light into this issue, it is important to understand the difference between the two within the legal purview. A state of lawlessness pertains to the condition where there is no regard for the law or situations where there is unbridled conduct or behavior that equates to unruly condition or violence. Its implication is under the state of lawlessness the President may call more Armed Forces to provide more stringent security to places where there is lawlessness.

This power of the President emanates from the Constitutional provision embodied under Article VII, Section 18 where “The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.” This, however, cannot be construed as equivalent to the declaration of a Martial Law. It is worth noting that only under the state of invasion and rebellion that the President of the Philippines may lawfully declare the country under Martial Law.

Under the state of lawlessness, the armed forces or the military will be allowed to exercise punitive action to prevent violence or acts of terrorism. This power of the President to declare a state of lawlessness is justified to reinforce the security of the country and to protect its citizens against lawlessness and violence. The military forces are still under the mandate to observe due process and uphold human rights along the process of executing their duties to protect the country.



In contrast, when the President declares a Martial Law when the public safety requires it, the armed forces or military will be authorized to make arrests without the need of court intervention. This is because the effect of Martial Law results in the suspension of the privilege of habeas corpus (note: it is merely suspended temporarily not exceeding sixty days, unless it is revoked or extended by the Congress voting jointly by a vote of at least the majority of its members).

The declaration of the Martial Law is without prejudice to the right of the citizens to seek redress from the Supreme Court to review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the Martial Law and the suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus. Moreover, the Constitution provides that the suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus will only be applied against persons charged with invasion or rebellion. The declaration of Martial Law will have the effect of calling the military to overtake civilian authority which is not the case in the declaration of a state of lawlessness in Davao City.


The mere effect of the declaration of a state of lawlessness is there will be more military and armed forces called upon to enforce the law, conduct check points and other security measures deemed necessary to ensure public safety. Civil rights will not be impaired and the security forces deployed will still be bound by the Constitutional provisions of due process and respect of human rights and will be still liable in case of any infractions of the law in the conduct of their duties. 

Revised Rules of Procedure For Small Claims Cases

By Virtue of A.M. No. 08-8-7-SC THE 2016 REVISED RULESOF PROCEDURE FORSMALL CLAIMS CASES, it is important to know that the jurisdictional amount has been raised from P100,000.00 to P200,000.00 effective February 1, 2016. 





Shipmanagement Inc., et al. v Alexander Moradas GR NO. 178564, January 15, 2014

Injuries due to the willful act of the employee is not compensable

FACTS:

The respondent was employed as a wiper for the vessel M/V Commander of the Shipmanagement Inc. The respondent claims that chemicals were splashed all over his body during garbage disposal in the vessel's incinerator room due to an explosion. He was repatriated and admitted to St. Luke's Medical Center. He was diagnosed with thermal burns. He now claims for the payment of his full disability benefit under Section 20 (B) in relation to Section 30 and 30-A of the POEA-SEC contending that his burns render him permanently disabled to work as a seaman. On the other hand, the petitioner disputed the claim of the respondent that he is entitled to the disability benefit. It contends that the burns and injury of the respondent are self inflicted by pouring himself with a paint thinner and set himself on fire. This was after he was dismissed after being caught stealing the supplies from the vessel. Report of the ship captain as well as affidavits of the crew members were submitted.

The Labor Arbiter and NLRC ruled in favor of the respondent, but the CA reversed the judgment, hence this petition for review on certiorari to the Supreme Court. 

ISSUE:

Whether or not the respondent is entitled to the disability benefit.

RULING:

No. He is not entitled.

The court held to be entitled for the disability benefit it is not necessary to show that the injury was work-related. It must only be proven to have been contracted during the term of the contract. This rule is not absolute, however, and among the grounds for the exemption from liability by the employer is when the injury or cause of the disability is due to the willful and deliberate act of the seaman. The court found some grounds to conclude that the respondent's injury is indeed deliberate and self inflicted because there is no showing of evidence on record that the burning was due to an accident and that the petitioner's theory that the respondent's burn were self inflicted is correct as supported by evidence that shows the respondent's motive. 


Alpha Ship Management Corporation, et al. v Eleosis Calo GR No. 192034, January 13, 2014

Failure to act by the company physician within 120-240 days under the Amended Rules on Employees Compensation there is a conclusive presumption that the seafarer's disability is permanent and total, thereby entitling him for disability benefit

Facts

Respondent Calo works with the petitioner under 7 employment contracts. He suffered from back pain and urinated solid particles while working on board as chief cook of Chuo-Kaiun Company Ltd. He was diagnosed with UTI and renal colic. When his condition did not improve, he went to another doctor who diagnosed him with kidney problems and UTI but was cleared for work although only for light duties. On Sept. 19, 2004 he was declared unfit to work and was ordered to return to the Phils. He was repatriated on October 12, 2004 and visited the company physician Dr. Nicomedes Cruz upon arrival who recommended he is fit to work. When he filed for disability benefits the claim was denied. The Labor Arbiter ruled in favor of the respondent but this was reversed by the NLRC. On appeal, the CA reinstated the Labor Arbiter's ruling hence this petition for review on certiorari.

Issue

Whether or not the respondent is entitled to disability benefits despite being declared as fit to work.

Held

He is entitled to disability benefit.

Article 192 (c)(1) provides that disabilities shall be deemed total and permanent xxx c) temporary total disability lasting continuously for more than 120 days. Xxx The 120-day period may be extended up to 240 days under Rule X, section 2 of the Amended Rules onEmployees Compensation and pursuant to the pronouncement that a temporary total disability becomes permanent when so declared by the company-designated physician within the period allowed, or upon the expiration of the 240 days medical treatment period in case of absence of such declaration of fitness or permanent disability. If after the lapse of these periods, a seafarer remains incapacitated in performing his duties and the company-designated physician has not yet declared him to be fit to work or permanently disabled, there is a conclusive presumption that he is totally and permanently disabled.

It appears that the respondent was repatriated on October 12, 2004 and his treatment continuous until October 14, 2005, a period of more than a year and the company-designated physician failed to make an assessment on the respondent's medical condition. The period of 120-240 having lapsed, the presumption that the respondent's condition was permanent and total already attaches. He is therefore entitled to claim for disability benefit. 

Benigno Vigilla, et al. v Philippine College of Criminology, Inc. GR No. 200094, June 10, 2013

Law Principle:
Anything favorable to the labor-only contractor redounds to the benefit of the employer under the principle of solidary liability

Facts:

The petitioners work for the Philippine College of Criminology Inc. (PCCr) as janitors, janitress and supervisor in its maintenance department. The petitioners were made to understand by the respondent PCCr that they are under the Metropolitan Building Services, Inc. (MBMSI) which is a corporation engaged in providing janitorial services. PCCr terminated the services of MBMSI on 2009 which resulted in the dismissal of the petitioners. An illegal dismissal complaint was then filed against PCCr by the petitioners contending that it is their real employer and not MBMSI. Subsequently, the PCCr submitted to the Labor Arbiter waivers, releases and quitclaims that were executed by the petitioners in favor to MBMSI.

The Labor Arbiter and NLRC ruled in favor of the petitioner, however upon filing the petition for review on certiorari before the Court of Appeals, the CA ruled that the quitclaims, releases and waivers executed by the petitioners in favor to MBMSI redounds to the benefit of PCCr by virtue of solidary liability under Article 1217 of the NewCivil Code. The petitioners contend that under Article 106 of the Labor Code a labor-only contractor's liability is not solidary as it is the employer who should be directly responsible to the supplied worker.

Issue

Whether or not the quitclaims, releases and waivers executed by the petitioners in favor to MBMSI redounds to the benefit of PCCr?

Held

Yes.

The Supreme Court held that the basis of the solidary liability of the principal with those engaged in labor-only contracting is the last paragraph of Article 106 of the Labor Code that provides, "In such cases of labor-only contracting, the person or intermediary shall be considered merely as an agent of the employer who shall be responsible to the workers in the same manner and extent as if the latter were directly employed by him."

It also pointed out D.O. No. 18-A, s. 2011 section 27 providing for the effects of labor-only contracting "where upon the finding by competent authority of labor-only contracting shall render the principal jointly and severally liable with the contractor to the latter's employees, in the same manner and extent that the principal is liable to employees directly hired by him/her, as provided in Article 106 of the Labor Code."

Hence, the PCCr's solidary liability was already expunged by virtue of the releases, waivers and quitclaims executed by the petitioners in favor of MBMSI by virtue of Article 1217 of the Civil Code providing that "payment made by one of the solidary debtors extinguishes the obligation."