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."

BAR 2016 COVERAGE

Bar Taker Peeps! Here are the coverage for the 2016 Bar Examination.

Source: Bar Exam Online Coach & Mentor

Political Law - http://bit.ly/2016PolSyll
Labor Law - 
http://bit.ly/2016LabSyll
Civil Law - 
http://bit.ly/2016CivSyll
Taxation - http://bit.ly/2016TaxSyll
Mercantile Law - http://bit.ly/2016MerSyll
Criminal Law - http://bit.ly/2016CriSyll
Remedial Law - http://bit.ly/2016RemSyll
Legal and Judicial Ethics - http://bit.ly/2016EthSyll

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

FACTS:


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.

ISSUE:

Are the defendants liable for damages?

RULING:

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. 

Swedish Match Philippines, Inc. v. The Treasurer of City of Manila G.R. No. 181277, July 3, 2013

"What constitutes double taxation"

FACTS:

This is a case filed by the petitioner for Refund of Taxes. In its letter to the City of Manila Treasurer, the petitioner claimed double taxation when it paid business taxes under Sections 14 and 21 of Ordinance No. 7794 which is the Manila Revenue Code. The respondent contends that both sections refer to two distinct objects of tax, hence they are not the same in character and kind that will result in double taxation. The RTC, CTA division and CTA en banc denied the petition for a tax refund filed by the petitioner.

ISSUE:

Whether or not both sections of the Manila Revenue Code constitute double taxation

RULING:

Yes, there is double taxation.

The ELEMENTS OF DOUBLE TAXATION ARE:

The taxes are imposed on
1. The same subject matter
2. For the same purpose
3. By the same taxing authority
4. Within the same taxing jurisdiction
5. For the same taxing period
6. The same kind of character

While the petitioner is liable for the payment of business taxes to the City of Manila, the fact that it already paid under section 14 of the Manila Revenue Code, it is already precluded from paying the tax imposed under section 21 of the same code.

As has been noted by the court, both sections are imposed for the following:
1. for the same subject matter,  which is for doing business in the City of Manila
2. for the same purpose, which his to contribute to the city revenues
3. By the same taxing authority, which is the City of Manila
4. Within the same taxing jurisdiction, which is the territory of City of Manila
5. For the same taxing period, which is the same calendar year when both taxes were paid
6. For the same kind of character, which is a local business tax

Considering these nature of taxes paid by the petitioner under both sections of the Code, the court held that the petitioner is entitled to a tax refund for the tax it paid under Section 21.

Hurdling The Bar Exam – Overhaul Your Strategies to Pass The Bar



The Bar examination is no doubt the hardest licensure exam in the Philippines. There is no shortcut in taking the bar and to earn the prestigious title of an attorney or a lawyer. It feels like getting the ATTY. before your name is like finding a needle on a haystack with different kinds of adversaries you need to overcome along the way. One has to be prepared emotionally, intellectually, physically, financially and yes spiritually, where you need to recite many novenas and personal prayers especially when you find yourself mentally drained and too wasted due to lack of sleep, stress and tension combined. I truly understand how a barrister feels during the bar review. Been through some of them and I manage to find some solutions to get over it. I have to share them for the sake of helping others who might go through the same ordeal, although I must say every person is unique and each has his own coping mechanism.

Problem: When time is a foe


With the loads of the review materials that one has to study every day, one can literally go crazy if you are unable to learn how to balance everything. You will feel 24 hours are not enough to finish your coverage and there are times you spend the day worrying too much for not having enough time to finish your target coverage for the day and will realize the day ended without you accomplishing anything. That is so frustrating since every minute counts during the review period. You need to study eight subjects (Political Law, Labor Law, Civil Law, Taxation Law, Commercial Law, Criminal Law, Remedial Law and Legal and Judicial Ethics). Take note that each subject has its own sub-subjects (too many to enumerate) plus you need to study outside the book for jurisprudence (decided cases of the Supreme Court) and other special laws, which are all included in the coverage of the bar exam. Seriously, six months of review for the bar exam after you graduate from law school is certainly not enough and you have no luxury of time to waste.

    Solutions:


1.       Decide whether to enroll or not to enroll in a review center early


Understand that after you graduate you need to begin your review the soonest time possible. If you plan of enrolling to a review center, it is best to make inquiries from different review centers as early as February. It is effective to ask from the other bar passers which review center they can recommend and ask for the review center’s styles of teaching. Compare the schedules available for the review. Most convenient is checking the websites of the review centers (almost all have their own websites). Consider the place where you will stay and the travel time it takes in coming back and forth to the review center.

You need to consider your budget, too. Just a piece of advice, you need not go to the most expensive review center to get assurance that you will pass. Going to a review center is necessary, especially when you are a first taker, except of course if you are too confident that you can overcome the bar with flying colors on your own by self study. This is always a matter of preference and knowing your abilities and weaknesses. But seriously review centers are helpful in providing you the guidance on identifying the bar areas to focus on during the review for each subject. They are also the convenient source in obtaining the most recent jurisprudence that are significant for the bar exam.

Online review is also convenient. You need not rush to attend the schedule provided by the review center and you cut down the travel time in going there. You get to view video lectures at your own convenient time and it’s like a one-one-one lecture as you watch the lecturer’s recorded video that you can repeat on watching over again (you can rewind, forward and pause as you take notes). You can also select video lectures by topics, too and there is usually more than one lecturer available for each subject so you get to choose which of them explains the topic better for your level of comprehension.

2.       Organize your own schedule


Organizing your own schedule can be a bit tricky especially when you are attending a review center. To avoid conflict, it is best to sync your own review schedule according to the schedule provided by your review center. There are different ways to make your own schedule. I find Atty. Ma. Tanya Karina Lat’s Bar Blues book very helpful in organizing my review schedule per subject. It includes the different schedules used by past Bar topnotchers and you get to choose which style you find best for your circumstances. I opted to study per subject and divided the total number of days before the bar month for each subject while giving more days to review for the subjects I find the most difficult.

3.       Invest in quality than quantity


Because you are likely to be time constraint during the review period you must invest in quality reading. I conditioned my mind that during my readings I will no longer have the luxury of time to go back and read the material again. So I really focus each time I read to ensure that everything is registered in my brain memory. If you feel sleepy, don’t force it. Take a nap and once your brain is refreshed, everything flows smoothly again.

4.       Choose review materials with scrutiny


Do not hoard review materials. It is best to scan through the pages of the review materials available for you and compare which presentation is easy to understand. Remember, the law will always be the same regardless of the review materials that you will use. Hence, you should scrutinize the presentation of the material and determine which is easier to comprehend. It is best to select one review material only and master it. There are three areas that I consider a must from a review material. One is a general reviewer (I highly recommend San Beda’s Red Book which is comprehensive, accurate and concise), latest jurisprudence (the best ones are provided by the review center as you will not have the luxury of time reading all of the Supreme Court’s decided cases), and law doctrines and principles (I find Lex Pareto the best). If you cover these areas you will certainly have enough to answer for the bar questions.

On the side note: Make sure to start studying on your first year in law school. You will not have enough time to read your textbooks again during the review period. Your pacing is faster while studying the reviewers if you have enough foundation during your school years.

Problem: Mental blackout, emotional turfs and stress


Mental blackout is too common, especially when you are too stressed out and mentally drained. At some point during your review you should expect to experience this anytime. It is very common to find yourself reading the book and after going over through several pages you feel frustrated that none have registered to your memory. The bar review can also be emotionally challenging. It is common to feel a mixed emotion at the end of the day, especially when you feel tired, frustrated for not understanding a difficult topic, missing your loved ones, not getting enough sleep, missed a meal, losing self confidence, worrying too much, etc.. This stage of the review is made worse when you review alone or live in a place where you have no one else to talk to. Tension can also build up and misunderstanding among the reviewees happens. It is either you are involved in the fight or you find yourself trying to arbitrate in between.

Solutions:


1.       Do not go overboard - Know your limits


Mental blackout happens when your brain is too tired and it is a sign of mental distress. This is actually a good thing, just like stress, as it warns us that we are probably taking our body beyond its limits. Once you experience mental stress it is best to give your brain a rest. Sleep is the best cure for mental stress. It allows the brain cells to recuperate. Break your monotonous routine of reading for long hours. Take a short break, eat something to re-energize, stretch, go shopping, watch a movie or visit a friend. Be careful not to get too carried away when doing this. You need to get back to your review as soon as possible.

2.       Make yourself physically and mentally fit


My favorite cures for mental stress are sleep (I take at least an hour nap during the day) and watching my favorite series that I download on my laptop (which usually take only 45 minutes than watching a movie that takes at least 2 hours to finish). I also exercise at least an hour everyday by attending a Zumba class (this is the beauty of attending an online review – I am in control of my schedule) and as the bar month nears I do the dancing inside my room in a dorm only (since I have to attend special review classes as the bar exam nears – mainly to update myself of the latest jurisprudence). My fitness goal is to sweat out and keep my circulation going. This brings more oxygen to my brain that enhances my mental alertness and physical fitness after long hours of sitting and hundreds of pages to read every day. Make yourself resourceful. You can always find an alternative activity that will make you physically active in between your review.

3.       Avoid conflicts and maintain good social relationship


Relationship strains can be a source of major stress during your review. Conflicts with friends, family members and your partner should be avoided. You will be surprised how this can actually cause you emotional and mental burden during your review. You will likely be distracted, confused and out of focus. It is best to isolate yourself from people with personal issues to avoid getting tangled with their problems. You already have enough of your own to hurdle for the bar exam. Dismiss the distraction and enclose yourself to your own world where your focus is how to pass the bar. However, you need friends for support so it is best to maintain a good social relationship with others, especially your fellow barristers. You can share notes together and uplift each other’s spirits, laugh out the stress and keep each other sane and strong.

Problem: Getting sick and getting behind your schedule


It is inevitable that at some point during the bar review you will get sick. A good advice is learning how to do everything in moderation to avoid overstressing yourself to the point of getting sick. It is important to strengthen your immune system because getting sick is a mortal sin among the barristers. Among the repercussions of getting sick is getting behind your review schedule and honestly there is nothing you can do about it while you are not in a healthy state – so focus on getting well!

Solutions:


1.       Do not despair and panic


Once you are sick, then you are sick. You cannot force yourself to study. Your main focus is to get well soon enough. Once you are well, try to compensate for the lost time by adjusting your schedule to cope. It may sometimes take sacrificing the nap that you often do or adding another couple of hours a day for your study hours or skipping your movie time. Do not panic and do your study routines as scheduled. Do not spend precious time for worrying.

2.       Keep yourself healthy


Take vitamin C and supplements to make you strong against stress and sickness. Lack of sleep and stress are your greatest foes that can make you fragile and susceptible to sickness (cough and flu are the most common sickness among barristers). Always hydrate yourself and eat healthy foods. A healthy diet and exercise are essential during this most challenging time of your life. As much as possible stay away from sick people and observe proper hygiene to ensure that your body is in optimized condition in overcoming stress.

Problem: How to answer the bar exam



Every year the number of bar takers is increasing. The implication of this is that the examiners will only have shorter time to read and appreciate your answer. What you need to do is make your answer COMPLETE, CONCISE, AND WITH LEGAL BASIS. It is indeed very challenging when you need to be focus on your handwriting, make a mental margin on your test booklet, analyze the question and formulate your answer and writing it down without erasure all about the same time.

Solutions:


1.       Eliminate the three paragraph rule


Our professors (and even some review center lecturers) may have taught us how to answer bar questions using the three paragraph rule, but with all due respect I find this no longer practical or viable in the present bar exams. Answering in a single paragraph consisting of 5 sentences at the maximum is probably more effective (which is the style of answering I did after realizing that answering in 3 paragraphs is disastrous). Based on the calculations of a respectable Dean – bar lecturer, with about 7,000 plus bar examinees, a bar examiner has only about 2 minutes to read per test booklet to finish on time within the 6 months period of checking. With about at least 20 essay questions with additional sub-questions on each number, the 2 minutes time frame will not give the examiner the luxury of time reading a litany of answers from the test booklet.

2.       Answering in one to two paragraph


Not all questions can be answered in a single paragraph only. Make sure to exercise good judgment when to answer in one paragraph or two since a single question usually has a main question and a follow-up question at the end. You need to address all questions to satisfy the examiner. Structure your answer in such as way that it is supported with a legal basis. This is a must and cannot be dispensed with. One paragraph with four to five sentences is enough. This is sufficient enough to give a concise and complete answer but the difficult part is learning how to do it.

This is not an expert advice but one that perfectly works well: Use the first sentence in answering the question (ex: X is not liable for murder). Use the second, third and fourth sentence to indicate the circumstances that make you dispute or agree with legal basis (ex: The act of X does not involve the commission of any of the aggravating circumstances as required by the Revise Penal Code.) The last paragraph should be the conclusion (ex: In the absence of aggravating circumstances, X is therefore only liable for the crime of homicide). While this looks simple as it seems, this kind of answering works well in criminal law where you only need to know the elements to know what crime is committed. I usually attack the question by citing the elements (an examiner cannot question that since it is provided in the law) and most of my answers in criminal law were only 3-4 sentences and I still pass. I answered in one paragraph in other subjects with two paragraphs max occasionally.

I humble myself that I may be wrong, but I feel strongly about this type of answering as more practical and doing the examiners the favor of giving an outright answer (that is concise and with legal basis). It does works and I passed the bar even if I departed from the traditional three paragraph rule.

3.       Strategize in framing your answer


This part is actually tricky and I must admit one really needs to have a good command in English to get through. You need to learn writing in direct and concise manner. Eliminate fillers, such as words that are not really necessary to include in the sentence to keep it short. To make your answer complete and essential use keywords that the examiner will likely look for when checking your answer. I usually write these keywords from the questionnaire and focus my answer towards them. It takes a lot of practice and getting used to this style of writing that you learn the trick of making your answer short. Grammar and good command in English is a must for lawyers so if you think this an area of weakness, you need to spend the extra effort to improve. A good trick is to answer the question by considering the elements of the crime/offense. You will never go wrong with this and you need not think out of the box.

Prayer helps you overcome all obstacles



Above all the strategies given above, prayer is the best weapon that can help you hurdle the bar exam. Prayer can make miracles happen. It can move mountains and most of all it can bring divine intervention so you’ll have everything you need to pass the bar. You need to couple it with diligence in studying, of course. As the adage goes “nasa Diyos and awa, nasa tao ang gawa.” Make God your partner in every difficulty and struggle you experience. He will help lighten the burden of taking the bar exam and will provide you what you need to make it through. Hope. Trust. Have Faith. Do your part and leave the rest to God.