Monday, November 18, 2002

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

I have just finished reading John Berendt's modern classic "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", a non-fiction account about the town of Savannah, Georgia. I once borrowed the tape of the movie version in which John Cussack starred but I fell asleep midway into the opening sequences. I had totally forgotten about the movie until I chanced upon a nice hardbound copy of the book at a local bookstore and realized the book is a lot better than the movie.

My creative writing teacher, NVM Gonzalez, always told us that it was always necessary to put local color in one's work because it is what defines good literature. True enough, the book is steaming with local color. It has great characters and a setting that makes me want to pack up and migrate to the US of A. The little lawyerly story about the trial of an antique collector who killed his gay lover was just a bonus. It is just a detail in a small corner in this large mural of an enchanting town peopled with high society hob-nobbers, hustlers, cross-dressers, hotshot lawyers and prosecutors, coffee shop weirdos, lounge musicians and voodoo practitioners. It is also quite a riot that the story ends with an acquittal of the antique collector (after three mistrials) that was won, perhaps not by the lawyers, but by the voodoo practitioner!

Who was it who said that great art always leaves you with a wound that never heals? I have been so fascinated with this book that I even used the town's name in a corporation I incorporated for a cousin "Savannah Holdings. Corporation." I have also proposed a deal with a client about historical restoration of landmark places in the Philippines. No takers yet But who knows? The book will sit along well with my most cherished editions of "The Godfather" by Mario Puzo and "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

On Being in Government

We have recently been appointed as legal consultant for the National Food Authority. The appointment allows for free practice outside the NFA; thus, we will be insulated from the financial constraints usually associated with a government job. It does not mean, however, that it is going to be a free ride. There is much work to do. We have to help run the law department of a PHP 7 Billion corporation that controls the food supply of the Philippines. On top of these, we have to deal with stuff like protocol -- i.e., before we can talk to Mr. C, we have to talk to Mr. A and then to Mr. B-- and a resident auditor from the Commission on Audit. Well, that will keep us honest.

It is quite interesting to know that in spite of the fact that the pay is low, being in givernment requires having to deal with regulations as expansive as outer space -- from rules that prohibit the use of photocopying machines unless your bring your own paper to laws that require the filing of a statement of net worth the violation of which can send one to jail.On top of that being in government compels me to do the thing I dread the most -- riding an elevator run by the government. All these years, I've managed to avoid using government elevators by taking the stairway. The fear springs from my impression that government buildings in the Philippines are poorly maintained, if at all. There is no budget for that or if there was, it was used for something else or by someone else.Thus, government elevators are rickety, shaky and noisy -- you can almost hear the cables snap. I dread government elevators so much that I had gone as high as the sixth floor using the stairway. Unfortunately for me, the NFA office is in the 10th floor and I don't think I'm physically fit for that kind of action.

But I sincerely hope that this stint will be spiritually fulfilling. As I reported for work this week, for example, I was just in time to help out in a case that involves millions of government money -- these are millions of pesos that would be use to buy cheap rice for the people -- not a bad way to start this budding career, isn't it? Not bad at all. I hope that compensates for all the cruel things I have done as a commercial law and labor litigation lawyer -- like firing hundreds of people. I regretted that so much that I'm beginning to think that there is a special place in hell for labor lawyers who fired poeple for a living -- something like a government elevator that keeps going up and down with an operator with a radio that keeps on playing Ted Ito songs. Maybe being in government is my salvation. It is just queer that it looks very much like the hell that I imagined.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

The Good Lawyer

Businessweek's Idea No. 23 is called "Don't Kill All the Trial Lawyers" written by Mike France. His thesis in this article is given that regulators and politicians have failed in their duty to protect the investing public from corporate crooks, it is up to the lawyers to put the hurt on corporate miscreants.

Reading this article made me realize how powerful the legal profession is in society. While the lawyers have contributed much to the corporate mess that the US is experiencing nowadays, it is also the lawyers who have the power to put some order into it. That is why history has this sort of love-hate relationship with lawyers. Nowadays, it is on the love side because the lawyers are the ones pushing corporate America to reform (what with the hundred of class action suits being filed left and right and the threatening millions of damages). But people seem to have forgotten that it was also the lawyers (along with the executives and accountants) who conceived and implemented the grand scale fraud in the Enron scam.

Why is this so? In the Ateneo Law School where I studied, there was an attempt to teach law along with Christian values. They thought this was possible by adding some one unit subjects like Theology and the Law and Social Philosophy to the regular law curriculum. The academic thinking is that the law is merely a technical tool, which is value free. Thus, value education should be separately taught through a separate subject.

The idea had some sense. Unfortunately, there was an open resentment to it because the one-unit subjects were eating up the students' time for the law subjects that students believed were more important. Further, the professors could not teach values on a one-hour a week format. I do not know what happened to the Ateneo after that but I know what happened to me.

In my almost seven years of practice three things I've learned as a lawyer trying to make sense of chaotic legal order:

1. A lawyer cannot be rigid about his values.

The Philippine system is so corrupt that if one were to be strict about his values, he'll never accomplish anything. One of these days, some values have to waiver. To achieve legal purposes, one favor or another that will compromise one's value has to be made. That's how it is.

2. A lawyer should know the limits of compromise.

There is a hierarchy of values and lawyers must always make sure that this hierarchy of what is more important is firm in their minds. For example, I am willing to part with some cash just so my case would be set early in the court calendar, but I am not willing to pay a judge for my client to win. That is where I draw the line. The logic is simple; my client will have no use for me if my case is always at the bottom of the heap. I owe the client that much to make sure my case gets priority. But I am not going to pay someone to win. I don’t play that way.

3. Hope.

How can one tell that he has compromised too little or too much? No one can tell. Very often in making the moral decisions that have the interplay of the two principles above, the lawyer will be faced with a dilemma. Failure, morally and financially, is a nagging fear. A lawyer's only salvation is his hope that he is doing the right thing.

Relating the principles above calls to mind the story of St. Thomas More. A successful lawyer in his time, his biographers took note of his practical shrewdness and his being responsible for, among others, the banning of heretical books and the execution of authors who had heretical beliefs. But Thomas found occasion to draw his limits when he was made to choose between loyalty to his king or his God. The stakes were high. King Henry VIII wanted to validate his second marriage to Anne Boleyn. To complete the King's desire to do this, he needed Thomas to take the Oath of Supremacy which meant that the King of England was supreme in the Church of England. More's dilemma was to take the oath that would have repudiated papal supremacy over the Church of England or mince the words of the oath to please King Henry VIII and retain his power and wealth like what the rest of England did. But to Thomas, what was being asked from him was more than just an oath but a repudiation of his own conscience and the truth. All Thomas had to do to retain this power and glory was to profess the King of England as the head of the Catholic Church in England. But to Thomas the obvious fact was that only the Bishop of Rome had the sacred mandate from Christ Himself to run the Church, through succession of Peter. Thomas knew as fact that only God could appoint the head of His Church and this had already been done once, there could not be two heads. Thus, he refused to take the oath. To him, this one oath that the King wanted him to make did not have a price. The King convicted him of treason and had him beheaded.

St. Thomas More is considered the patron saint of all lawyers. Reading and writing about him makes me proud to be a lawyer. The Ateneo simply should have taught us the life of St. Thomas More and it would have solved the problem of values education in law school. Values in lawyering? St. Thomas More's last words said all that was needed to be said, "The King's good servant, but God's first."

Monday, September 16, 2002


Businessweek's Idea No 2 is called "The Mea Culpa Defense" written by Mike France. The article is straight forward in suggesting that businesses should be ready to admit liability if they have committed a wrong. The boxed summary says it well, "The instinctive reaction of executives in times of scandal is to deny, deny, deny -- then clam up. In many cases, the smarter response is a heartfelt apology." .

After reading the article, I remembered the dozens of cases that I've handled that shouldn't have reached my desk had the client only thought of saying the "S" word. Unfortunately, common business sense looks upon the "S" word as a sign of weakness that precludes any semblance of defense in the event of litigation. This is, of course, legally sound as an apology can amount to a confession of liability and no lawyer would be happy to accept a case where he has little room to maneuver a dismissal.

There is a story, however, of a Filipino immigrant in the US who was a victim of medical malpractice that caused him to lose his two fingers. He approached a lot of lawyers in the US who declined to accept his case allegedly because no doctor would testify against a fellow doctor. Yet, he struggled to find that lawyer, knowing deep in his heart that there is someone who can fight his just cause for him in that foreign land. True enough, after a long time, his son found the doctor-lawyer who was even willing to take it on a contingency basis. After months of litigation, they were awarded a hefty sum for the malpractice. The man felt vindicated not only because he succeeded in his quest to find justice for his predicament but also because he was able to prove that all the previous lawyers he consulted were wrong about his case.

Then right after the decision was handed down, the guilty doctor approached his former patient and said, "I'm sorry."

And then the patient cried, "All these years, that is all that I wanted to hear from you."

Until now, as the story is being recounted to me by the man, he gets misty eyed.

This is concrete proof that the "S" word is not really a bad idea. In the world of torts, the apology is the wild card that can throw a quick spin in any litigation. If things work well, the case can be settled with not a penny spent because of the apology. If things don't, then the apology can be a blank check payable to bearer. It takes character and a strong sense of justice to make that decision. Unfortunately, it is very hard to find any man of that make nowadays.

Thursday, September 05, 2002


Businessweek's New Idea No. 19 is called "Rethinking the Rat Race" written by Diane Brady. The idea is to give the workers more flexible time at work, to focus more on the results and not on hours spent on the office. Given that new technology has given everyone the opportunity to be productive even if he is at home with the family, the idea of allowing the worker to balance his time with work and life will result in more productivity. In addition to this, the idea is also to give workers more vacation time to allow them to refresh more often and not be overburdened by work.

I think this is the best idea in this Businessweek series. I am particularly concerned that I may have become too workaholic to enjoy life. My typical day usually starts at 5:30 am to check email, do routine paper work and pleadings. I do this at home with our home computer. I have breakfast with the kids and my wife at 8:00 am and I'm off to work at 9:00 am. If there are hearings I have to attend, everything gets pushed back so I can be in court at 8:30 am.

The entire morning is then spent either on hearings or meetings. Lunch gives me time to grab a magazine or surf the web while eating, assuming that there are no lunch meetings with clients. Then, I'm back on my desk at 2:00 pm for what I call the "Assault from All Sides". This is because I have to juggle with phone calls from the land line and the cellular phone, follow up from bosses and co-lawyers barging in through the front door, email popping in through the LAN, and text messages being received by my GSM cellular phone.

Everything subsides at around 5:00 pm when I take a break for snack. At 5:30 pm onwards, the real hard paperwork and research is done. If I'm fast, it's all over at 8:30 pm during which I go home to have dinner with my wife who often has already eaten by that time. If, however, work is still not finished by 8:30 pm, the time extends all the way to the wee hours of the morning. I only break off for an hour so I can go home and finish the work in our home computer.

In the last three years, the longest break I took was seven (7) working days on Paternity Leave to take care of my newly born second son Hans. Although we are allowed 15 calendar days of leave with pay every year, I haven't used it at all. I don’t know why. I guess I'm enjoying myself too much.

You think I have a problem? Take a look at the other lawyers of the Firm. Some of my co-lawyers work all the way to 11:00 pm or midnight on a daily basis and are back at 8:00 am the following day. Most have not taken longer leaves than I have. In my seven years in the Firm, I was able to take short breaks to date, court my wife-to-be, get married, and have kids. Some guys here have not found time to do that. As a result they've gone past their forties and they're still single and unattached. This is not to say that they are unhappy or are less of a human being than anyone. This is just to say that this is the kind life the lawyers in our Firm live.

But looking at how I've been all these years, I know I've missed a lot of things with my family because of work. My favorite grandmother died two weeks ago. My deepest regret is that I didn't find time to visit her in the faraway province of Calatagan Batangas in all the three years that she wished to see me with my kids when she was still alive. When she was buried last weekend, I brought my kids along to witness the interment. But I guess she's no longer around to appreciate that.

It is true, nobody in his deathbed ever wished to have spent more time in the office. Life is short. We can't spend it all working. We can't spend it all having fun either. That's an awful deal. But it doesn’t get better than that.

The old work paradigm is to spend most of our quality hours at work. Who was it who said that life is like a game of cigars. If you smoke the most number of cigars, you win and your prize is a box of cigars. Isn't that much like the work ethic that we have lived? Work hard in the game of life. If you win, you get more work.That doesn't sound like a fair game, does it?

Now in the information age, the "in" thing is to spend more quality time with our families. Who cares if you've won the biggest case in the world, if you can’t even play with your kids (worse if you can't even have time to have a kid?) What is there to be happy about at the end of a long day when all you come home to is still your work? Work hard. That's ok. But live life. That's the only way to play this game. I am a non-smoker but if you have to compare life with a game of cigars, I think the object of the game is not to smoke the most number of cigars. And the prize is the game itself.

Monday, August 26, 2002


Businessweek came out recently with a special edition entitled "25 Ideas for a Changing World". The issue is very interesting so I was quick to get my copy and read the pages with the thought that the thing can give me enough material to blog about for the next few weeks. Unfortunately, the website edition is gone. So I can’t link to it.

Nevertheless, Idea No. 1 is called, "After Enron: The Ideal Corporation" written by John A. Byrne. According to the article, with the Enron fall out, corporations will go back to the values of trust, transparency and accountability. Corporations will acknowledge that a company's viability now depends less on making the numbers at any cost and more on the integrity and trustworthiness of its practices.

Well, frankly speaking, I didn't know that this is a new idea. The Enron culture was and will always be considered an anomaly in corporate governance and investor relations. The values have always been there, except that unscrupulous individuals have gotten away with messing up with it for a few years. But now that the law caught up with them, we are quite happy to know that values have been affirmed. For indeed, what every corporation boils down to is that other people's money are entrusted to certain people in order that they can make it grow. In every relationship involving that sort of transaction, we are talking about not just making that money grow but also doing it with the knowledge that it should be done with the values of trust, accountability and transparency.

I didn't go through business school (my college degree is one for philosophy and my law degree is not exactly a business degree although now I only practice mostly commercial law). However, I imagine that every business course should have a course on Business Ethics -- and I am not just talking about how not to pirate business.

Business Ethics should always be grounded on the maxim "Profit with Honor." In the Philippines, sadly only one company used to live this ethos -- San Miguel Corporation in the time of the late Andres Soriano, Jr. During his time, San Miguel Corporation was never involved in any tax case and it did not have labor problems. Its investors were happy - in fact too happy that it was too hard for the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos not to resist to acquire it through a forcible takeover during martial law.

Profit with Honor. That means money through honorable means. No deception. No misrepresentation. Full disclosure. No cheating on your workers. No cheating on your investors. No cheating on your consumers. What's so new about that?

Friday, August 16, 2002

What lawyerly yours does when he is not lawyer

It's from a picture I took of the Monastery of the OSB Sisters of Or. Mindoro. I enhanced it with Photoshop 7.0 using watercolor filter then made the firetree more orange and the grass greener. Copyright 2002. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Rx for hiding your wealth

1. Why?

A. You're afraid of the taxman.
B. You don't want your spouse to know.
C. You don't want your creditors to know.
D. You've got many cases filed in court.
E. You don't want kidnappers to know.
E. Some of the above.
F. All of the above.

2. How?

A. Put your wealth in a friend's name -- Efficiency rating: Ok. Risk rating: Poor. Your friend can die on you. Also, your friend can forget about you.

B. Put your wealth in a relative's name. Ratings: same as above. Additional disadvantage, you can't sue your mom.

C. Establish a holding company. Ratings: Your best bet. No risk. You are your holding company. Corporations can outlive you. No loss of efficiency. You sign your company's checks. Creditors at your door? Just sign your endorsement at the back of the stocks, enter in the books and its free from credit vultures.

Recommendation: Personal holding company

Do it yourself:

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Lawyerly yours wins first disbarment case

I received today the ruling of the Committee on Bar Discipline dismissing the charges of unethical conduct filed against me by a rich businessman who lost a case that I worked on as a junior lawyer. I hate that guy. He filed all the cases he could file against my client and when there was nothing else to file, he filed a case against me.

Of course, there was no doubt on my mind that I would win that case. But I suffered from just the thought that I was being disbarred. This time I wasn't just the lawyer for the accused -- I was the accused. Days and nights I worried about the outcome of the case. I didn't know a thing outside of my profession. What was I to do if I lost? Worse, cheapskate that I am, I was my own lawyer. My boss (who was included in the suit) reviewed my work but since he was suffering the same anxiety I was suffering, I couldn't really trust him. I remember when the deadline for writing our answer approached, I couldn't write a single word. Gone was the legendary pleading writer that I fancied myself to be. I was the lawyer who could churn out pages and pages of law in a few minutes. I was the lawyer who quoted Shakespeare in his pleadings and got away with it. But for the case that involved my career, I was mute. I didn't know a single law. Indeed, the hardest pleading to write was the pleading I wrote for myself.

I'm glad I survived that -- and how. Now, it's pay back time. I am going to sue this guy and I will make sure he suffers the same ordeal I went through. See you in court you filthy businessman. May God have mercy on your soul.

Friday, July 26, 2002

No Hope in Concepts: The Reason I Stay Away from the Stock Market

I have to credit my metaphysics teacher Rev. Fr. Roque Ferriols, S.J., who instilled in me the habit of asking "Meron ba?" In English, the nearest translation I can think of is "Is it there?" Does it exist or is it just hot air? The habit is based on the principle that there exists a reality. And human beings that we are, we nestle in reality. That's where we live. But there are a lot of non-truths out there that deceive us in to believing what is not reality.

And these non-truths are not necessarily lies or accounting scams. Non-truths can be innocent things like concepts. Concepts are products of our minds. They come out of our minds based on our experience of reality but concepts are not reality. The function of concepts is to point us to reality. If we say moon, for example, we have a concept of the moon. But the word moon itself is not reality. The real moon is up in the sky. To be fascinated with the moon, is to be fascinated with reality. That looks okay. But to be fascinated with concepts -- such as earnings per share -- is to be fascinated with nothing. That is not okay.

The stock market is one place where everything is concepts -- and not just concepts but concepts of concepts of concepts. Take the concept of debt to equity ratio for example. It looks simple. Conventional wisdom tells us that a company with a high debt to equity ratio means it has more debts than capital. This means a large part of its costs will be interest payments. A company with low equity ratio is one with less debts than capital. Interest might not be eating up its profits that much. So which one has better prospect of making more profits?

Dig deeper and see where the labyrinth of concepts bring you. Debts: What does the company owe? Well -- loans from banks, advances from stockholders, bonds, commercial papers, promissory notes, purchases on credit, etc… still with me? What is capital? Money, property, goodwill? How do you value this money? Based on inflation? How do you value property? Based on market conditions? What is the market condition? Then, we realize a lot of things are not really clear. How does one classify, for example, between a debt and equity. Preferred shares -- is that equity or debt. Convertible bonds -- is it debt or equity. What about warrants or option contracts. Then we find out that a lot of the underlying items are based on opinions and opinions no matter where they are coming from are not truths. So we ask, is it really there? Meron ba?

Just look at the moon. No matter what the people say, you are sure it is there. Unlike the stock market, the moon is not susceptible to the whims of the crowd. In the stock market, if the crowd believes there is a value, everything goes up. If the crowd believes there is no value, everything goes down. Then, creative accountants and corporate honchos with appetites for large sums of money (and everyone in the stock market has that appetite) start playing around with the concepts and masquerade losses with profits until they are caught. Then, everything crumbles. People realize all they really had was concepts -- concepts of concepts of concepts.

I never thought of playing with the stock market crowd. There are many people way ahead me who drumbeat the perceptions of this crowd. No hope it putting one over them. No hope in concepts.

So, I stay away from the stock market. The truth is hard to find there -- with or without accounting scams.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

OOPS SORRY. is on back up mode pending re-installation by our regular service provider

If your are looking for email please go here.
If you are looking for Jerryl's site, please come back later. It is currently off-line.
If you are looking for please also come back later as it is likewise in offline mode.

What you're reading now is my site am one of the members of the Aceron Family of Oriental . Mindoro, Philippines.

Friday, July 05, 2002


Just to clarify my earlier post that would seem that I am professing some sort of cult for lawyers, I believe that even if law is considered a religion it is an inferior one at that. Why? Simple -- it bears no message of hope. Law is confined to the hear and now. Law has no answer if you ask about the after life. I remember in civil law class, our eminent Prof. and former Court of Appeals Justice Hector Hofilena asked if the body of a deceased can be considered property? We were all aghast at how casually the law would classify things between property and non-property. Death means you become a corpse susceptible for appropriation. Law offers no salvation beyond the here and now.

Which brings us to the point: why do we tie our lives to the law when it has no message of hope? Why do we insist that our legal system be free from religious color when by doing so we offer our citizens nothing to look forward to but the cold concepts of classification and segregation.

It is a sad society that has nothing that binds itself but the religion of the law.

Saturday, June 29, 2002

Law is a Religion

Recently, a US Federal Appeals Court ruled that the US Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional because of the addition of the phrase "under God" in 1954 by Congress which makes it an "endosement of religion". The full CNN story is found here..

The ruling stems from a provision of the US Bill of Rights that can also be found in the Philippine Bill of Rights which states something like "No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." In layman's terms, it simply menas that the state should not favor one religion over another and neither should the state prohibit the exercise of anyone's religion. There is a history that went with the crafting of this provision. But the bottomline is the conviction that in the modern society no man should be killed for believing that the world is round.

But what is religion? My theology and philosophy teachers used to say that the word comes from the latin term "religare" which means to be tied down to something. Thus, you can say religion is what one believes he is tied down to. This involves a creed -- what one believes in. For Catholics, this is the Apostle's Creed. I believe in God the Father Almighty creator of heaven and earth...
Religion has a code --the moral behavior expected from a believer of the creed --e.g., no premarital sex, practise monogamy, Thou shall not steal, etc. And religion has a cult -- the rituals that the believer goes through everyday of his life to nurture his creed and code. Go to mass. Go to confessions. Take Holy Communion, etc.

Going through this definition, law qualifies as a religion. It's creed is the constitution, the supreme law that defines the principles that society believes will make it happy. It's code is the various statutes that seek to enforce the supreme law of the land in the everyday detail of life. Law encompasses every aspect of life that there is no way to run away from it. You won't believe it, but there is even a law governing cockfighting. Law is cult -- everyday thousands go to the court room -- the church of the law -- to hear judges and lawyers preach about what the law means to ordinary people. We have ceremonies that signal the effectivity of the law, the signing of the bills, the banging of the gavel, the implementation of lethal injection. Law is a religion. Society is tied to the law.

So the joke is on this US Federal Court. By upholding the non-establishment clause of the US Constitution by prohibiting the US pledge of allegiance, it unwittingly violated the same clause by establishing, as it were, the Religion of the Law.

Sunday, June 23, 2002


It is now possible to incorporate online. Check out Click here.
Who needs lawyers?


It's so difficult. Not even this lawyer could do it.
People still need lawyers ( he he he)

Monday, June 17, 2002

Andersen Loses Criminal Trial reports that after a six-week trial and 10 days of deliberations, jurors convicted Andersen for obstructing justice when it destroyed Enron Corp. documents while on notice of a federal investigation. Andersen had claimed that the documents were destroyed as part of its housekeeping duties and not as a ruse to keep Enron documents away from the regulators. This ho-hum defense was thrown out by the jurors as they voted to convict Andersen of the crime. Thus, Andersen now faces up to 5 years probation plus a $500,000 fine. But the worse is yet to come as a class action suit is underway to compensate thousands of American investors who have suffered damages for Andersen's actions.
Full text of the news here.

Monday, June 03, 2002

Thanks to Renaissance Girl for sending some traffic to this site. Unfortunately, my current workload prevents me from making any good blog probably for the next few weeks. Check out the archives for our past blogs if you have time to kill. For useful links to legal sites on the web, refer to the list on our left margin. Happy browsing!

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Teacher displays porn during exams

BBC reports that in the UK a teacher who was conducting an exam unintentionally displayed porn pictures to his students. Apparently, the invigilator, math teacher Richard Jowett, was looking at the material on his personal computer, forgetting it was linked up to the monitor that could be seen by everyone. Full text here.

Monday, May 06, 2002


Pinoy Hell

A Pinoy dies and goes to hell. There he finds that there is a
different hell for each country.

He goes first to the German hell and asks, "What do they do here?" He
is told, "First they put you in an electric chair for an hour. Then they
lay you on a bed of nails for another hour. Then the German devil comes
in and whips you for the rest of the day."

The man does not like the sound of that at all, so he moves on. He
checks out the USA hell as well as the Russian hell and many more. He
discovers that they are all more or less the same as the German hell.

Then he comes to the Filipino hell and finds that there is a very
long line of people waiting to get in. Amazed he asks,"What do they do

He is told "First they put you in an electric chair for an hour. Then
they lay you on a bed of nails for another hour. Then the Filipino devil
comes in and whips you for the rest of the day."

"But that is exactly the same as all the other hells - why are there so
many people waiting to get in?"

"Because there is always a blackout, so the electric chair does not
Somebody stole all the nails to sell it 'por kilo'. And the devil
used to be a public official, so he comes in and punches his time-card,
shakes hands with all the people waiting there and then goes back home... "

Friday, May 03, 2002

Sixth Grader Suspended for Stick Figure Doodle

CNN reports that a Pennsylvania school suspended an 11-year-old girl for drawing two teachers with arrows through their heads, saying the stick figures were more death threat than doodle.

Becca Johnson, an honor-roll sixth-grader at Mellon Middle School, drew the picture on the back of a vocabulary test on which she had gotten a D.

"That's my way of saying I'm angry," Becca said, adding she meant no harm to the teachers.

The stick figures, on a crudely drawn gallows with arrows in their heads, had the names of Becca's teacher and a substitute teacher written underneath. Another teacher spotted the doodle in the girl's binder Tuesday and reported it, prompting the three-day suspension.

Did this Pennsylvania school go over board on this one? The answer appears very uncertain. This is an academic community where punishment is imposed not only as a form of retribution but also as a way of reforming wrongful behavior. In other words, the punishment is part of the education that children get from a school. Thus, nobody can argue against what the school believes as the right punishment because it's part of the school's academic freedom.

Yet, surely looking at the offense, one can sense a great disproportion. The punishment appears to be too much for a simple childish behavior of doodling. I once did this to a Social Science teacher in high school and all I merited was a smile from my teacher. Why should anyone be suspended if I happen to stick an arrow on the doodle?

Sunday, April 28, 2002

Joke from the mails

10. White House is not big enough for in-laws and the relatives.

9. Not enough parking spaces at White House for 2 Honda Civics, Toyota
Celica, 1985 Mercedes Benz Diesel, BMW (big mean wife) and MPV (My Pinoy
Van) and the jeepney owner..

8. Dignitaries generally intimidated by eating with fingers at state

7. Too many dining rooms in the White House (Where will they put the last
supper picture?

6. White House walls not big enough to hold giant wooden spoon and fork.

5. Secret Service staff won't respond to "psssst, psssst."

4. Secret service staff uncomfortable driving presidential car with rosary
hanging on the rear view mirror or the statuette of Santo Nino on the

3. No budget allocation to purchase karaoke machines on every White House

2. State dinners do not allow "Take Home".


1. AIR FORCE ONE does not allow overweight balikbayan boxes.

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Robot cameras 'will predict crimes before they happen'

The Independent News of the UK reports that scientists at Kingston University in London have developed software able to anticipate if someone is about to commit a crime. The software, called Cromatica, works by examining images coming in from close circuit television cameras (CCTV) and comparing them to behaviour patterns that have already programmed into its memory. It can then mathematically work out what is likely to happen next. And if it is likely to be a crime it can send a warning signal to a security guard or police officer. Full text of the news here.

These scientists are still at their inductive logic. "If you look like a criminal, act like a criminal, then you are a criminal."
The thought sends me the shivers. Many times I love play acting on the street.Sometimes I imagine myself as a communist cadre about to drop off some important document from the politburo to an innocent looking trash can in the middle of Cubao. Can't do that anymore, I guess.

But really, how many folks out there seem to act like a criminal when they actually are not? It's probably a small percentage of this 60 Million ++ people which still translates to a couple of thousands. Indeed, this way of thinking "you are mathematically what you appear to be" is a real menace. The margin of error is not at all marginal if these scientists will only realize that they are talking about human beings who might as well be their own wives and children. Well, that's the UK. That's their worry. This is the Philippines where the most advanced computers cannot mathematically tell the police from the robbers.

Sunday, April 14, 2002

Sick man kills self after long hours on the web

According to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a twenty-one year old man killed himself last year after spending long hours playing in Sony's Everquest gaming site. The report said that the 21-year-old Shawn Woolley was addicted to EverQuest. He sacrificed everything so he could play for hours, ignoring his family, quitting his job and losing himself in a 3-D virtual world where more than 400,000 people worldwide adventure in a never-ending fantasy. His mother blames the game for her son's suicide and has hired an attorney to sue the company in an effort to get warning labels put on the games. "It's like any other addiction," Elizabeth Woolley said last week. "Either you die, go insane or you quit. My son died." The full text of the news is here.

If this action were to be filed by somebody from the Philippines, it is very likely that it will not prosper. Philippine law considers the man old enough to know what he was doing and to understand that playing on the web to the point of addiction is harmful to himself. To even insinuate that there is a cause and effect between his suicide and his addiction to the online game may even be considered absurd.Was Sony negligent in not posting warnings on its site that playing can cause harm? That is another way of looking at it. Is it possible that Sony's Everquest drove the man to suicide? While in the US people can get rich making this sort of connection, it is not the same in the Philippines where murderers are even paraded as heroes. Yet, it would be interesting to know how the US courts will tackle this first ever action on web addiction against a big company.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

I'm moving to a new server. Please update your bookmarks. Henceforth, we can be read at

Sunday, April 07, 2002

Sixth Grader Might be Expelled for Bringing a Knife to School

News 3 reported that a Madison, Wisconsin sixth grader faces expulsion from his school for bringing a knife.The kid claims he needed it for his science project -- i.e., to cut onions. But the school believes that it should enforce the "Zero Tolerance Rule " for weapons in school.

Chris Schimdt

The report states that Chris Schmidt is a straight-A sixth-grader. He loves school, music and sports, and went to the nation's Capitol as a member of the School Safety Patrol. However, the report said his background is irrelevant for the offense that he has committed. Ms. Valencia Douglas, assistant school superintendent says "We can't say, 'You're a good kid, so your mistake doesn't have as much force, or importance behind it as a kid with other issues,'"

The slant in the news report (full text here) seems to make it appear that the school is being unreasonable. Yet, it is quite possible that the kid intended to threaten somebody with the knife or just brought it for show. With kids these days, you'll never know.

Analyzing the issue further, however, it seems that the problem really is with the rule and not with its application -- assuming there is no other fact but for act of bringing the knife to school. The rule infers criminal intent just by the act of bringing any weapon or weapon-like utensil and punishes the act with a severe penalty. If the school insists on the strict application of its rule, this may be a potential case for violation of the constitutional right to "due process" on account of unreasonableness of the law.

Thursday, March 28, 2002

Suit seeks billions in slave reparations

CNN reports that a former law student, who discovered evidence linking U.S. corporations to the slave trade, filed a federal lawsuit
in Brooklyn against these corporations for conspiracy, human rights violations, unjust enrichment from their corporate predecessors' roles in the slave trade and conversion of the value of the slaves' labor into their profits. The suit names FleetBoston Financial, the railroad firm CSX and the Aetna insurance company, and promises to name up to 100 additional corporations at a later date.
"These are corporations that benefited from stealing people, from stealing labor, from forced breeding, from torture, from committing numerous horrendous acts, and there's no reason why they should be able to hold onto assets they acquired through such horrendous acts," said Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, the main plaintiff in the lawsuit. Full text here.

Deadria Farmer-Paellmann: A case for overlawyered?

Is this case for Or is justice finally catching up after a couple of hundred years of delay? According to CNN, in response to the lawsuit, Aetna released a statement saying, "We do not believe a court would permit a lawsuit over events which -- however regrettable -- occurred hundreds of years ago. These issues in no way reflect Aetna today." For sure, the defense of prescription will be invoked -- that is, the cause action has already expired due to the lapse of time. And corporate lawyer that I am, I suppose this is the book solution to this case. However, this can hardly be classified as another case for the books. It involves the entire Amercian history, psyche and nationhood and a very insensitive treatment of this case can lead to riots like those which characterized the Rodney King trials.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002



The Cuban government has banned the sale of computers and computer accessories to the public, except in cases where the items are "indispensable" and the purchase is authorized by the Ministry of Internal Commerce. Minister of Internal Commerce, Bárbara Castillo of Cuba issued Resolution No. 383/2001 Article 19, Chapter II, Section 3 of which states that:

"The sale of computers, offset printer equipment, mimeographs, photocopiers, and any other mass printing medium, as well as their parts, pieces and accessories, is prohibited to associations, foundations, civic and nonprofit societies, and natural born citizens. In cases where the acquisition of this equipment or parts, pieces and accessories is indispensable, the authorization of the Ministry of Internal Commerce must be solicited."

According to, "the rise of independent journalists in Cuba, who published articles on the Internet criticizing the Castro regime, may have something to do with it. The correspondents, who risk jail time for their "subversive" reports, send their stories by fax, e-mail or phone dictation to supporters in Miami." Full text here.

It is quite apparent that Cuba is in a state of paranoia. With the advent of new media, such as the internet and cellular telephones, Fidel Castro and his monolithic party will have their hands full in keeping freedom loving people from expressing their views to the world..Yet, how long can Castro put up with it? Not for long for sure.Not for long.

We finally registered ACERON.NET!. Thus, effective immediately we can be seen under the domain Our email address will also change to will be retired by April 1, 2002. I was never at home with it anyway.

Saturday, March 16, 2002

Saudi Police stop improperly dressed girls from fleeing burning school

BBC reports that Saudi Arabia's religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, according to Saudi newspapers. According to the al-Eqtisadiah daily, firemen confronted police after they tried to keep the girls inside because they were not wearing the headscarves and abayas (black robes) required by the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islam. Full text here

This is a perfect example of common sense giving way to obedience of the law. How stupid of the saudi police. But we might be surprise to know that they thought all the time that they were doing the right thing. They probably still do.

Sunday, March 03, 2002


Erap turns the tables on Govt.

What do you know? After committing a big slip on primetime TV by admitting that he is the one and only Jose Velarde, Erap (disgraced former Philippine President), dismissed his top caliber lawyers on the pre-text that he will not get justice anyway from the court trying his case. Now, everybody in the government is frantic that this new Erap posturing might trigger another attack from the Erap mob who lynched Malacanang Palace last May 1, 2001. There is no doubt Erap wants to go on exile.His political supportes are now agitating for it. (See INQ7 text here.) And Gloria -- slick politician that she is -- knows letting Erap go might be the political compromise of the century.

Okay, as for me, I'm just shaking my head as I type this. I am shaking my head. I will go about my business in this country just shaking my head.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Computer Waste Polluting Asia

BBC News reports that old computers are being dumped in Asia where they are releasing toxic materials into the environment. The full text is here.

Piles of computer waste are found in Guiyu, China

BBC cites a report, called Exporting Harm: The Hi-Tech Trashing Of Asia, which details a group of villages in south-eastern China where computers from America are picked apart and strewn along rivers and fields.

In the Philippines, old computers from the US are being resold with warranties at bargain prices by enterprising importers. While there are no reported dumping of old computers as of yet, it cannot be said for sure that the same mass dumping of old computers are not taking place in remote places of the country. Given the rising level of computer use in the Philippines today and the continuing problem regarding the disposal of garbage in general, it will not be long before the these old computers from the first world will find their way in Philippine rivers.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Love struck judge likely to go to jail because of love poem

A Philippine judge accused of sexual harrassment by a court employee is likely to get convicted as the victim presented a love poem given by the judge himself to her. The poem, written in the Philippine national lanuage, contains sexually explicit lines and belies any denials from the beleaguerd judge. A portion of the poem goes,

Poem Translation

Dumating ka sa buhay ko You came into my life
isang araw ng Agosto, One day in August
Ang baon mo ay ang iyong ganda You brought beauty
at talinong abogado. And a lawyer's intelligence
Ang tamis ng iyong ngiti The sweetness of your smile
ay bumihag sa puso ko, Captured my heart
Malakas na pampalubag A strong soother
sa mainit kong ulo. To my anger
Kapalaran ay malupit Fate is harsh
di kita makatalik, I cannot make love to you
Sa ngayon o bukas Today or tomorrow
pagka't di mo ibig. Because you do not love me

The full Inquirer text is here.

I've had a wave of referrals lately regarding sexual harassment but none is as amusing as this one. In a macho society like the Philippines, the enactment of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law was welcomed by a lot of women. It is good that cases are now being filed and the relatively new legislation is being invoked.
However, the only problem I have with this law is it requires that the offended party should be a subordinate to the offender when in most cases, sexual harassment takes place when both parties are of equal rank. Be that as it may, it's better than nothing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Philippine solons sign resolution to allow Estrada's trip abroad

Former Pres. Estrada's cohorts are at it again. Legislators allied with him passed around a resolution asking the Sandiganbayan, the anti-graft court hearing Estrada's plunder cases, to allow him to have his knee surgery in the US. The resolution, signed by 130 House members, was set to be filed Monday night by its principal author, Maguindanao Rep. Didagen Dilangalen. Nineteen senators signed a counterpart resolution in the Senate. The Inquirer's full text is here.

These solons, if they know their basic constitutional law, cannot pass this resolution without violating the separation of powers between the legislature and the judiciary. I am sure that the Sandiganbayan will turn down the preposterous resolution, but the mere fact that there is such a resolution shows how despicable these politicians are. These politicians are the same sycophants who led Estrada to believe that he could be President and gave him the political machinery for mounting a political campaign. When they handily won the presidency in 1998, they divided the political spoils among themselves as Estrada busied himself with his women and graft money. Now, they want to give him a reprieve from his hospital jail house and send him partying in the US on the pre-text of a new surgery. Despicable....utterly despicable!

Saturday, February 16, 2002

Did US Law Firm pay plaintiffs to file class action suits?

Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach, the top law firm in the US, specializing in shareholder suits, is under a federal grand jury investigation for having allegedly employed improper tactics to recruit plaintiffs, including paying kickbacks to lawyers and brokers for referrals. The full text is here.

Milberg has made its reputation by filing suit on behalf of investors against thousands of corporations, accounting firms and investment bankers, alleging shareholder fraud in connection with precipitous drops in stock prices. The firm is seeking to become the lead plaintiffs' counsel in litigation over the collapse of Enron. It has also filed an enormous number of suits against Wall Street firms over allegations of improper IPO allocations and "laddering" stock prices to give them a false appearance of increasing value. In the world of corporate finance, especially among company management, Milberg is viewed as an opportunistic firm that has made a cottage industry of filing "cookie cutter" lawsuits whenever stocks drop by a certain percentage and growing fat on the settlement fees.

In the Philippines, no class action on the basis of securities fraud has ever been filed. Thus, I've often viewed the Philippine securities business as the arena for snakes with no hope for redemption. Sometime in 1997, a group of international banks gathered to file the first major class action suit against SGV & Company (the Philippine affiliate of Andersen Consulting -- think Enron). SGV is the external auditor of many publicly-listed companies. The basis for the proposed class action was the window dressing that the auditing firm made on the financial statements of Victorias Milling Corp. (a publicliy-listed company). The banks relied upon the financial statements to lend money on the cash strapped sugar miller and it turned out that the corporation did not have enough assets to cover its liabilities and the financial statements did not reflect the discrepancy. There was no sugar to support the quedans -- as it were. Eventually, Victorias declared bankruptcy. The banks tried to look for a major law firm to get the case started, but the major law firms declined engagement because of business affiliations with SGV. When they finally got the law firm to represent them, they got too tired and decided to just forget it -- aware of the backlash that they might face if they filed the case against the giant auditing firm. That is why I will never trust my money on Philippine securities. If nobody can take on an auditing firm such as SGV for a malfeasance such as false financial statements, there is no hope for the Philippine securities market.

Which brings us back to the above story -- it is quite sad that the law firm has been implicated in the scandal. But for the Philippines, I wish they establish a local counterpart here just to teach the snakes in the Philippine securities market a lesson.

Saturday, February 09, 2002


Linking Patent Goes to Court

BT Group Plc, a US company, claims that it has a patent covering hypertext links -- i.e., the wonder of the internet that allows anyone to click on a link and go to another webpage like this. A U.S. federal court will hear preliminary arguments next week to determine if this most elemental of Internet activities is the business property of a lone company, protected in the form of a patent.

This one is for It is undisputed that this company obtained a 1989 patent on web linking. The web community, however, has pointed to earlier versions of hypertext linking prior to BT Group's obtaining a patent, the earliest of which is 1968 demonstration from Stanford University.Where do you think it's gonna go? If it goes in favor of BT Group, then it is going to be very expensive for each member of the internet community. I pray it doesn't go that way.
RP now Asia’s darling of fund managers

The Manila Bulletin reported the above story here.

That explains the call we got recently from a headhunter looking for an in-house counsel for "major Wall Street bond trader." I told him sorry. I have decided I hate corporate law years ago. Yet, it is quite interesting that the perception of the Philippine securities market has changed remarkably since the BW Scam. Personally, however, I have never trusted this business on securities. Retained earnings, book value, market value -- these are layers of concepts that govern the securities business that are very much susceptible to "creative accounting". A lot of people have fallen for it and had disastrous results. I am contented in eking out a living with measly appearance fees and helping justice become a reality one case at a time. (yeah right.)

Friday, February 08, 2002

NY Attorney Sues Anti-Virus Software Maker over Restrictive Licensing Agreement

The New York state attorney general on Thursday filed a suit against computer security software provider Network Associates on the ground that the company has attempted to censor criticism of its products The issue pertains to the wording in the company's software license agreement which requires Network Associates' consent before publishing reviews of its products or disclosing with third parties results of "benchmark tests" that compare the effectiveness of Network Associates products and competing software. Full ZDNET text here.

This is going to be an interesting case. Network Associates will likely argue that the clause cannot be said to curtail freedom of speech because the user is always free not to get the software in order not to be bound by the prohibition. Yet, civil libertarians will argue that the product involves public interest and the public has the right to know and discuss their views on the consumer product. It can go on and on. Ultimately, however, the court will have to assess its values: Which one is more important the right to freely enter into contracts or the right to free speech? Knowing Americans, it is very likely to go the way of free speech.

Wednesday, February 06, 2002


US Lawmaker charged with Racketeering Told to Behave in Courtroom

In Cleveland, a lawmaker charged with racketeering was warned by the judge to behave in court. Apparently, the lawmaker, who is not a lawyer but is lawyering for himself (what a cheapskate), is indulging in extended speeches in and outside of court to proclaim his innocence. In the process, he is saying the judge is bias and the justice department is being vindictive. Full text here.

This guy will surely go to jail. Nobody should lawyer for himself -- not even a lawyer and more so a non-lawyer. This US lawmaker is toast.


Rules of game change: From Europe to Pak, suspects guilty without trial

An article from The Indian Express notes "The new willingness to expel Islamic terror suspects with little attention to legal proceedings, is not limited to the European Union." It claims that in Pakistan, Azerbaijan and Bosnia, a growing number of suspects have been whisked abroad in recent months without due process. Full text here. Whoa. I'm in trouble. I look like Osama Bin Laden without the beard.

Tuesday, February 05, 2002


German Satanists to be Sentenced

A German couple who say they killed their friend on the orders of the devil are due to be sentenced on Thursday, concluding a case which has rocked the country. Full text here

Okay, how does the law treat these wierdos? Of course, the defense that Satan ordered them to kill their friend is not likely to stand in any court. But can we say that believing in Satan is a sign of insanity? It does not really follow, does it?I don't know. Let's see how the German court will decide this.

Cyber Courts Go Online in the UK

Click here. OK. So I am a defendant in an online case. What if I just turn off my computer and say to hell with you online judges?

Banker testifies on money trail of Jose Velarde Account

A BANK officer testified Monday how 189.7 million pesos in alleged commissions to jailed ex-president Joseph Estrada was moved from the private accounts of businessman Jaime Dichaves to the "Jose Velarde" account allegedly owned by Estrada. Full Inquirer text here. The commission was for the sale of a publicly listed gaming corporation that was purchased from its owners with the use of pensions funds from the Philippine Social Security System (SSS). The trouble with Estrada was he lacked proper legal advice on how to make those transfers clean --unlike former Pres. Marcos who employed brilliant lawyers in hiding kickbacks that 16 years after he was ousted from power and still not a single penny of the loot has been recovered by the government. So, I don't know if I am mad at Estrada for being so corrupt or for being sloppy at being corrupt or for both. In any case, he really is stupid.
Fingers point to lawyers on Enron Scam

According to the Washington Post, "Attorneys from Vinson & Elkins, one of Houston's largest and most prestigious law firms, played a critical role in helping Enron Corp. structure a series of complex partnership deals that helped drive the company into bankruptcy" as attested to by former senior Enron executives and shown by documents.

The report said, the lawyers worked side-by-side with Enron officials and Arthur Andersen accountants to create several off-balance-sheet investment partnerships that are now at the center of government investigations into possible shareholder fraud. The deals helped Enron conceal hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and gave investors a false picture of the company's financial stability.Full text here.

Okay, I knew it. This is another one of those little proofs to that maxim that behind every major scam in the world is a blood-sucking lawyer.

Monday, February 04, 2002

My firm

US jury awards $3.5m to woman who suffered burns from a Starbucks coffee machine

The full BBC text is here. This is probably one major difference that Philippine courts have with the American courts. Philippine courts do not award enough damages to make one rich. If this woman suffered the accident in a Starbucks branch in Manila, she would have gotten not more than PHP 50,000 (US$1,000++) even if she died. Philippine courts believe that damages are not meant to fully compensate a victim of tort but are just awarded for amusements and diversions.(Oh yeah? How's US$1,000 suppose to amuse you when you're dead? Come to think of it, even a million dollars would not be amusing) No wonder most commercial establishments in Manila are not very conscious about the safety of their customers.


Send lawyers to war front for reality check -- The Inquirer screams

The above reaction is addressed to Philippine lawyers who questioned the constitutionality of the Joint US-Filipino Military Exercises being conducted in Southern Philippines. I'm sure those lawyers will be good for target shooting -- with apples on their heads.

Sunday, February 03, 2002

Arizona couple arrested for not putting down Christmas lights

Angelika Flores and her husband, Tony, last year violated a code requiring Christmas decorations to be removed 19 days after the holiday. They were still on the home in April. Thus, one day police came to arrest them. The Vice Mayor of the town called Peoria said the code is on the books to maintain the integrity of neighborhoods. The full text here.

My mouth is still agape. I can't believe there is such a law somewhere.

It's Cheney's turn to do a Nixon.

US Vice Pres. Dick Cheney refuses to divulge to the US Government Accounting Office the work of his energy task force in connection with the Enron scandal. He told the Today Show that he wants to "protect the ability of the president and the vice president to get unvarnished advice from any source we want." Yeah right, it also helps that they received millions in campaign contributions and probably quid pro quo deals with the Enron Group. It sounds like America really elected a pair of lemons to head their country. More analysis from Findlaw here.There is also an engaging explanation on the Enron scam here.

In U.S. v. Nixon, a constitutional law case that is staple in every Philippine law school, Pres. Nixon refused to release his secret tapes by invoking the same arguments that Cheney is now saying -- i.e., executive privilege blah blah blah. What is curious is Cheney knows how U.S. v. Nixon was decided. What makes him think the courts will reverse its ruling now, especially that we know he and Georgie have gone to bed with Enron officials?

I vaguely remember Mr. Cheney getting involved with US-Philippine relations in the distant past but somehow I can't get the details. Nevertheless, let's see if an impeachment trial will ensue on this fiasco. Impeachment is becoming a field of specialization in law since Kenneth Starr did it to tobacco smokin' Bill Clinton (with cigars made in the Philippines). Ex-Pres. Estrada got impeached too. But like most cases in the Philippines, it never reached a legal conclusion when the prosecutors walked out on Congress after a controversial vote on opening an envelope. Of course, Pres. Estrada was ousted after having "constructively resigned". But going back to Cheney, I am pretty sure he is on his way there and Georgie is waiting to join him.

Saturday, February 02, 2002


Somebody please pull the plug on this Howe lawyer

There is this guy who is writing about a website on how lawyers cheat their clients. Click here. C'mon...are you that rich already?

A Turning Point for

This lawyerly stuff has become such a drag. Let's loosen up a little with some midi background music and a dancing buddy. Aside from that, we'll try to effect a less formal and more personable style. But focus will still be on things lawyerly -- law, lawyers, lie, liars... har har har... get the drift? We're changing our taglines too. "Law News and Comments"is so boring. Please stay tuned for other changes.

BROWSINGS explores an American legal system that too often turns litigation into a weapon against guilty and innocent alike, erodes individual responsibility, rewards sharp practice, enriches its participants at the public's expense, and resists even modest efforts at reform and accountability. (Sounds like what one might say about the Philippine legal system as well, but for the fact that it lacks the "C" word -- as in "corrupt") Says Yahoo Internet Life, Aug. 24, 2000: "odes to odious lawyering...( chronicles how attorneys clog the drain of American life." Check it out regularly. I like it so much it will be a permanent link here.
Aborigines claim kangaroo copyright

In Australia, a group of Aborigines has lodged a high court writ, seeking to stop the government from using the kangaroo and the emu on the national coat of arms.

The Aboriginal activists say the representation of the animals - which they regard as sacred totems - is a breach of copyright.

The activists are accusing the Commonwealth of Australia of cultural theft, saying it could not prove it had been given written permission to use the images. Full text here.

Friday, February 01, 2002

Worker suspended over lost baby

A hospital in Kent (England) which temporarily lost the remains of a dead baby has revealed it suspended a mortuary worker after the error. Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup said the male worker, who has not been named, had returned to work - under close supervision. The remains of baby James Fernandez were put through a hot wash after he went missing from the hospital. Full text here.

If this thing happened in a Philippine hospital, the worker would surely be terminated from employment (of course, after being beaten to pulp by the father).

Thursday, January 31, 2002

Florida town casts out Satan

The mayor of this small fishing village in Florida has declared the Prince of Darkness persona non grata -- in essence, telling him to go to the devil.

"Satan, ruler of darkness, giver of evil, destroyer of what is good and just, is not now, nor ever again will be, a part of this town of Inglis," Mayor Carolyn Risher says in a proclamation, which was issued on official town stationery. Full text here.

May I please ask how they can acquire jurisdiction over Satan?

It happened over coffee at McDonald's. I told Bitoy Buenaventura, President of Corporate Oasis (the web group behind, that I needed a software that will help me manage my cases. I wanted one that will give a view of all my cases and their status. I wanted to be able to tell which one is not moving to ensure that it moves somehow and not displease the client. Then, while he is at it, I told him throw in a calendar and contacts management, an expense and billing tracker and a directory of all the courts in the Philippines. A few more discussions and phone calls, and the Lawyer's Folio Version 1.0 was launched. It's cheap at PHp 2,500 (US$50) a pop. It's now available at all Rex Bookstore outlets.

Wednesday, January 30, 2002


The Pope Urges Lawyers to Avoid Divorce Cases.

Roman Catholic lawyers should refuse to handle divorce cases, Pope John Paul has said. He said divorce was "spreading like a plague" through society, and lawyers should refuse to be part of the "evil". His comments came during an annual meeting with Vatican magistrates. "Lawyers, who work freely, should always decline to use their professions for an end that is contrary to justice, like divorce," the Pope said. The full BBC news text is found here.

I wonder, however, how the Pope finds the unique Philippine situation regarding this issue. Being a predominantly Catholic country, Philippine law does not allow divorce. Instead, it allows the declaration of nullity of a marriage due to the "psychological incapacity" of one or both of the spouses to fulfill the obligations of marriage. The ground is based on canon law. However, the application in Philippine courts has been often corrupted where the ground doesn't really exist but lawyers, judges and psychiatrists connive with each other and the spouses to make it appear that it does exist and thus warrant the declaration of nullity of the marriage.

Supreme ourt Issues Rules on Search and Seizure for Infringement of Intellectual Property Rights

The Philippine Supreme Court recently issued the Rules for Search and Seizure for Infringement of Intellectual Property Rights in civil actions. This strikes us as quite odd as normally the writ of search and seizure is only applicable in criminal cases. But the rule says it is applicable... "(w)here any delay is likely to cause irreparable harm to the intellectual property right holder or where there is demonstrable risk of evidence being destroyed, in a pending civil action for infringement" or in a civil action about to be commenced. The full text of the Rules is found here.

Saturday, January 26, 2002

Supreme Court Affirms Plunder Law

Is the Plunder Law vague? The Supreme Court said,

"As it is written, the Plunder Law contains ascertainable standards and well-defined parameters which would enable the accused to determine the nature of his violation. Section 2 is sufficiently explicit in its description of the acts, conduct and conditions required or forbidden, and prescribes the elements of the crime with reasonable certainty and particularity. Thus -

1. That the offender is a public officer who acts by himself or in connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons;

2. That he amassed, accumulated or acquired ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of the following overt or criminal acts: (a) through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or malversation of public funds or raids on the public treasury; (b) by receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickback or any other form of pecuniary benefits from any person and/or entity in connection with any government contract or project or by reason of the office or position of the public officer; (c) by the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National Government or any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities of Government owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries; (d) by obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock, equity or any other form of interest or participation including the promise of future employment in any business enterprise or undertaking; (e) by establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combinations and/or implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or special interests; or (f) by taking advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines; and,

3. That the aggregate amount or total value of the ill-gotten wealth amassed, accumulated or acquired is at least P50,000,000.00."

As long as the law affords some comprehensible guide or rule that would inform those who are subject to it what conduct would render them liable to its penalties, its validity will be sustained. It must sufficiently guide the judge in its application; the counsel, in defending one charged with its violation; and more importantly, the accused, in identifying the realm of the proscribed conduct. Indeed, it can be understood with little difficulty that what the assailed statute punishes is the act of a public officer in amassing or accumulating ill-gotten wealth of at least P50,000,000.00 through a series or combination of acts enumerated in Sec. 1, par. (d), of the Plunder Law.
More here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2002


To make up for our failure to update this blog for months, here are some cool jokes from a book called Disorder in the Court. These are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters - who had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were actually taking place. Some of these are excellent - don't miss the last one.

Q: What is your date of birth?
A: July fifteenth.
Q: What year?
A: Every year.


Q: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
A: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.


Q: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
A: Yes.
Q: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
A: I forget.
Q: You forget. Can you give us an example of something that you've forgotten?


Q: How old is your son, the one living with you?
A: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can't remember which.
Q: How long has he lived with you?
A: Forty-five years.


Q: What was the first thing your husband said to you when he woke up
that morning?
A: He said, "Where am I, Cathy?"
Q: And why did that upset you?
A: My name is Susan.


Q: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo or
the occult?
A: We both do.
Q: Voodoo?
A: We do.
Q: You do?
A: Yes, voodoo.


Q: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep,
he doesn't know about it until the next morning?


Q: The youngest son, the twenty-year old, how old is he?


Q: Were you present when your picture was taken?


Q: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
A : Yes
Q: And what were you doing at that time?


Q: She had three children, right?
A: Yes
Q: How many were boys?
A: None.
Q: Were there any girls?


Q: How was your first marriage terminated?
A: By death
Q: And by whose death was it terminated?


Q: Can you describe the individual?
A: He was about medium height and had a beard.
Q: Was this a male, or a female?


Q: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition
which I sent to your attorney?
A: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.


Q: Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?
A: All my autopsies are performed on dead people.


Q: All your responses must be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
A: Oral


Q: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
A : The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
Q: And Mr. Dennington was dead at the time?
A: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy.

Q: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?


Q: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a
A: No
Q: Did you check for blood pressure?
A: No.
Q: Did you check for breathing?
A: No
Q: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began
the autopsy?
A: No
Q: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
A: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
Q: But could the patient have still been alive, never the less?
A: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practising
law somewhere.