Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Pres. GMA declares support to revive National ID System. Bayan Muna objects.

As we predicted earlier, the plan to install the National ID System has been revived in reaction to the World Trade Center attacks. The Inquirer reported today that Pres. Arroyo is supporting the revival of the National ID System. The full story is found here. Party list congressmen from Bayan Muna immediately raised their objections. The Inquirer also reported the story. Click here.

Sunday, September 23, 2001

God Bless Big Brother Indeed

Salon.com has posted an article expressing concern over the apparent receptiveness of the US Congress to pass more stringent anti-terrorist legislation. As a result, civil liberties of individuals, especially immigrants, will be considerably curtailed. The lead of the article states as follows:

"Northwest Airlines kicked three Arab-American men off a flight from Minneapolis to Philadelphia Friday, simply because other passengers refused to fly on the same plane with them. The airline defended removing the men from the plane, saying that security rules gave it permission to "reaccommodate" passengers. The Council on American-Islamic Relations reacted immediately: "This is racial and religious profiling of the worst kind. Both the passengers and the airplane personnel should be ashamed of their actions." Even as Arab-Americans face daily affronts to their civil liberties, Congress is crafting new legislation to further limit their freedoms -- and everyone else's. And while there is some dissent being expressed behind closed doors in Congress, an "anti-terrorism" bill is expected to be formally introduced next week. Given the current climate of fear and anger, most observers expect easy passage."
The full text is found here.

In the Philippines, anti-terrorist legislation has been consistently defeated in the Philippine Congress since the time that former President Fidel V. Ramos was still Pres. Cory Aquino's defense secretary. Foremost among this anti-terroris legislation is the proposal for the national ID system that creates a presumption that those without national ID's are rebels. We may expect the revival of this proposal soon, especially that Mr. Ranos's supporters are also supporters of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In the event that anti-terrorist legislation is passed by Congress, the same may be challenged only in the Supreme Court which will then test its validity as against the Philippine Constitution.

Saturday, September 22, 2001

Insurers of World Trade Center won’t use war exclusion

The website www.businessinsurance.com reported recently that insurers of the World Trade Center and other parties affected by the attack against key landmarks of the United States will not use the war exclusions in the insurance contracts covering the towers and other affected entities and individuals. The National Assn. of Independent Insurers said in a written statement that “NAII wishes to confirm that insurers have strongly indicated that they do not intend to invoke the ‘act of war’ exclusion. This is a non-issue, and all insurers we have heard from are treating the losses as covered claims.” It may be recalled that on September 11, 2001, a group of terrorists hijacked two commercial planes and rammed them against the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The towers eventually collapsed. More than 6,000 are believed to have perished from the incident.

The complete text of the story is found here.

Friday, September 21, 2001

This Day in 1972

This day in history Pres. Ferdinand Marcos issued Proclamation 1081 placing the entire Philippine archipelago on a state of Martial Law. Within twenty-four hours from the declaration, thousands of persons perceived as enemies of Marcos were rounded up and jailed, including incumbent senators, big businessmen, politicians, journalists, clerics, union leaders and students. To pave the way for a dictatorial regime, Ms. Marcos then called for the organization of people's assemblies to ratify the 1973 Constitution by mere show of hands. Martial rule then became a way of life among Filipinos until it was lifted in 1981 as a concession to Pope John Paul II who visited the Philippines that same year. With mounting pressure from local and foreign political forces, Mr. Marcos convened the Batasang Pambansa, the legislative branch of government as provided in the 1973 Constitution. The opposition gained more momentum when Ninoy Aquino got assassinated on August 21, 1983. From then on, anti-Marcos political assemblies and rallies became more frequent until Mr. Marcos was forced to call a presidential election on February 7, 1986. On February 25 1986, a civilian-backed military uprising overthrew Marcos thus ending the dictatorial regime that began on September 21, 1972.

Tuesday, September 18, 2001


What To Expect When You’re Suing or Being Sued

Continuation of Chapter One
Choosing a Lawyer

Cases that You Should Refer Only to the Experts

In the previous portions of this on going article (please check our archives the first portion appeared on July 27, 2001), we discussed the seven basic traits that you should look for in a lawyer, the dilemma of choosing among the big or small law firm and the solo practitioner, and the issue on legal fees. In this last installment, we will discuss cases falling on fields of law that should be referred only to the experts. This is necessary in order to ensure that very little mistake will be committed in the handling of your case.

No lawyer can say that she can handle every case referred to her. Law touches upon almost every aspect of human life that it is impossible for any lawyer to exhaust it. While most lawyers can handle mainstream litigation, such as land disputes, collection cases, fraud, murder and corporate disputes, certain fields of law are easily beyond the grasp of most lawyers. We believe that at least three fields of law should be left to the experts. By “expert”, we mean that the lawyer has spent a major part of her professional life on the field. She should be so immersed in the field that she has ready answers to problems that non-experts can take days to even understand. These fields are as follows:

Tax and Customs Litigation

Tax and Customs litigation deal with disputes relating to tax assessments, tax refunds, tax protests, as well as tariff and customs disputes, including forfeiture proceedings. This field should be left to the experts because it is a universe in itself. Even the simplest of issues in tax and customs litigation will require thorough study from any practitioner. In addition, the field is highly technical. Legal maxims are mixed with percentages and mathematical formulas that ordinary lawyers will not easily comprehend. One nuance that we learned the hard way, for example, is that all pleadings filed with the customs collector have to bear a documentary science stamps tax. Otherwise, it would be disregarded. Who would know that but only an expert?

Election Law

Election law requires a lawyer who has a thorough knowledge of election laws and procedures and usually a strong disposition. Court jurisdiction and time periods for filing of pleadings appeals and other documents are often confusing and tough. Many election protests have been lost on technicalities because counsels are not familiar with the basic election laws. In addition, the election lawyer often has to deal with a roomful of people and confused election registrars. Your election lawyer should have a loud but not annoying voice to be convincing in this situation. In addition, deadlines in election disputes are really tight. Sometimes your counsel will only have the following day to file her protest. Only lawyers who are used to this environment can deliver the goods to their clients.

Admiralty Law

Admiralty deals with the law of sea transportation. It has been around for centuries. Yet, demurrage, salvage, collisions and other disputes relating to admiralty are not easy to understand and have been mastered by only a handful of practitioners. This should be left to the experts.

The common element in the above fields of law is that they not only have a different set of laws, they also have different sets of procedures in resolving disputes. We find that their procedures as complex and uncommon that only experts in the field may fill at ease in litigating those cases. While you can take a chance on a neophyte to handle any case falling under the three on your behalf, the risk of failure is going to be great that you might as well not have lawyer at all. You don’t want your lawyer coming to you with a decision that says you lost because your lawyer missed one rule in the book, and not because of lack of merit. It is one of the most agonizing losses you will experience in your life.

Next Chapter: Preparing to Go to Court
Lawyer Statesman Neptali Gonzales Dies

Former Senate President Neptali Gonzales died of heart failure at the Makati Medical Center last September 16, 2001. He was 78. Mr. Gonzales was a law professor and dean of a law school for many years until he entered politics in 1967. He rose to national prominence as an opposition leader in the Batasang Pambansa during the latter part of the Marcos era. After the downfall of Marcos, he became the first justice secretary of then President Cory Aquino. Mr. Gonzales is the principal architect of the legal and constitutional framework of the post-Marcos era.

Saturday, September 15, 2001

Court dismisses Text Messaging Case

The Regional Trial Court of Quezon City issued recently an order dismissing the case filed by consumers against the cellular phone companies Globe, Smart, Islacom and Piltel on the ground of lack of jurisidcition. Earlier, the same court issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the same companies from implementing their plan to reduce the number of allocated free text messages to their subscribers. The temporary restraining order was supposed to have been effective for twenty (20) days. Yet, before the period could lapse, the Court resolved to dismiss the case citing that it is the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) that has power to resolve the issue and not the trial court.

Under the Rules of Civil Procedure, the consumer groups have fifteen days to file a Motion for Reconsideration or appeal to the Court of Appeals. If no motion or appeal is filed, the decision will become final and executory.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Avoid taking minority ownership in a company.

In the Philippines, two-thirds of the outstanding capital stock is the magic number. If you have two-thirds, you can do almost anything you want in a company -- change the Articles of Incorporation, change the business, sell all the assets, even dissolve the company. If you have less than that, you can not do anything profitable with your shares, except perhaps sell them to the majority. Everytime an issue pops up, you are out voted. Sometimes you cannot even raise an issue on the floor. Majority owners even earn on the side as voting control gives them the right to vote themselves as officers of the company and charge exhorbitant salaries and per diems. Thus, if you have to enter into a business with somebody, make sure you have two-thirds; otherwise, be prepared to be the whipping boy or girl for that matter.

Saturday, September 08, 2001

NVM Gonzalez, would be lawyer turned writer National Artist

Today, September 8 is the birthday of NVM Gonzalez, one of the greatest Filipino writers of all time. NVM attended two years of law school at the University of the Philippines. He had many reasons for leaving law school, one of them was that he found it unacceptable that their professor would sell them copies of the Philippine Reports to fend for the professor's mistress. NVM wrote mainly about the life of Mindoro folk, their life and rituals in a feudalistic society. In the story, "On the Eve," (see the collections Grammer of Dreams and Mindoro and Beyond both published by the UP Press) he writes, quite exceptionally, about a young man on the eve of his decision to leave law school for a life as a writer, perhaps mirroring his own monumental decision to leave the legal world for what would turn out to be a well-lived life of Philippine letters. NVM died in November 1999 at the age of 84. Stanford University, where NVM's granddaughter now studies, has a webpage in his honor.

Tuesday, September 04, 2001

Nightmare on the Eve of the Bar Exams

I was in a rickety condo unit in Makati with only coackroaches keeping me company. I called for pizza delivery for dinner from Shakey's-- Manager's Choice with extra cheese, Coke and Chick n' Chips. There was enough food even for breakfast the following day. I found it too pricey for my budget at five hundred bucks, but I figured, the bar exams was my day of judgment. If I flunk it, it would be my last pizza forever. So who cares?

A classmate called to tell me that they would pick me up as early as 5:00 am. It was neessary to come early, according to her, to avoid the traffic build up brought about by the annual Alay Lakad (Walk for A Cause) Project that would pass at La Salle Taft Avenue where the exams will be. No problem. I had no choice. Either I went to the bar with obsessive compulsive classmates or I risked missing it altogether with Manila's unreliable public transport. I had no time for those little dilemmas. I figured I needed at least six hours of sleep to have an optimum performance for the eight hour exam. There was no better preparation than that. Besides, what I did not know on the eve of the bar exams, I would never know in time for the actual exams. To be ready by 5:00 am, I needed to wake up at 4:00 am. That meant I had to be snoring by 10:00 pm.

After dinner, I finished memorizing a chapter on Atty Nachura's reviewer on Political Law about diplomatic immunity. I scanned the other pages that I haven't touched and decided It was time to sleep.Yet. my gut was crying for more. It was telling me that my knowledge of political law was vanishing slowly and the only way to stop it was for me to keep on reading until I fell asleep. So I hit the books again. But, very little was sinking in. I ran my mnemonics devices to see if I can rattle off principles that I had memorized. No good. I turned on the air-conditioner to cool off. The motor was too loud. I turned it off. What do I do now? It's 11:00 pm. So much for the six hours of solid sleep. My professor gave us one tip that afternoon. "If all else fails, try beer!" But, who was gonna get that beer for me? The cockroaches? I remembered as a kid that I would make myself dizzy and fall asleep by spinning around like crazy. So I spun around the room for five minutes until I fell and threw up. But I was still wide awake. I tried music -- Mozart, Bach. But I had been listening to those guys the entire bar review period that I had been numbed. They had very little effect on me. No use.

Thereafter, it dawned upon me -- I was gonna flunk the bar. With very little sleep, if at all, there was no way I could construct a decent sentence. The exams for the day consisted of two sets of one hundred (100) essay questions to be hurdled in four hours each set. No way was anybody gonna pass that with less than six hours of sleep. I saw all my four years of hard work studying the law flashing on my mind. The episodes when I had flunked an exam were even in slo-mo. I knew I would forever be labeled a bar flunker. What job would I get? Court sheriff? It was done. The clock struck at 1:00 am as I decided I had lost it and dozed off. Good night bar flunker.

That was exactly six years today. Of course, I flunked the exams on that day. But I made enough points in the succeeding exams to give me a decent passing mark. I knew better the following week. I downed a bottle of wine.

Sunday, September 02, 2001


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