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


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. 


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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



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."


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Joyce Ardiente v. Spouses Javier and Ma. Theresa Pastorfide, Cagayan De Oro Water District and Gaspar Gonzales, Jr. GR. NO. 161921, July 17, 2013

"Principle of Abuse of Rights" - Article 19 of the Civil Code


Ma. Theresa Pastorfide entered a MOA with Joyce Ardiente where the latter sold, conveyed, and transferred all their rights and interests in the Emily Homes Housing unit to the former. It has been agreed by the parties that the water bill will remain in the account of Ardiente. On March 12, 1999, Ma. Theresa's water supply was disconnected without notice. She complained to the Cagayan De Oro Water District (COWD) and she found out that the account has become delinquent. She paid the three months due and wrote a letter through her counsel to the COWD to explain why her water supply was cut without notice.

The general manager of the COWD, Gaspar Gonzalez, replied that it was Joyce Ardiente who requested the disconnection of the water supply. A complaint for damages was filed against Ardiente, COWD and Gonzalez by Ma. Theresa. The RTC ruled in favor of Ma. Theresa on the ground that the defendants committed abuse of their rights. The ruling was upheld by the CA on appeal with modification on the award of the amount for damages.Hence this petition before the SC.


Are the defendants liable for damages?


Yes. The court ruled that the principle of abuse of rights under Section 19 of the Civil Code was violated. It provides that "every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith."  

A right, although it is legal for being recognized by law as such, may nevertheless become the source of illegality (Globe Mackay and Radio Corporation v CA), when it is exercised in a manner that does not conform with the norms enshrined in Article 19 and the same causes damage to another. The person exercising an abuse of right is thus liable for damages caused to another. The herein petitioner is liable for damages by ordering the cutting of the water supply of the respondent without giving notice about such intention. The COWD and Gonzalez are likewise liable for damages by disconnecting the water supply without prior notice and for their subsequent neglect of reconnecting the water supply even when the respondent already paid the delinquent account.