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Archive for the ‘Law School’ Category

The Crime of Offending Religious Feelings

Posted by lexforiphilippines on October 6, 2010

A man who, garbed as national hero, Jose Rizal, stood up near the altar of a Catholic church during a prayer service, shouting that the church should stop interfering in government affairs and holding a sign that read “Damaso” (referring to Fr. Damaso, the antagonist in Rizal’s novel “Noli Me Tangere”), was arrested for “Offending the Religious Feelings.”

The public’s fascination was not just with the theatricality with which the man made his plea for the Catholic Church to steer clear of the Reproductive Health Bill.  That the man was charged with the novel-sounding crime of “Offending religious feelings” also sparked the public’s interest.

The crime is not as common as estafa, theft or murder, but it has been in the statute books for a long time.  Under Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code, the crime of “Offending the Religious Feelings” is committed when anyone, while in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony, performs acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.  The penalty for this crime is arresto mayor in its maximum period (from 4 months and 1 day to 6 months) to prision correccional in its minimum period (from 6 months and 1 day to 2 years and 4 months).

The law, indeed, is old, but it is still in force and is clearly experiencing a rebirth.

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Posted in Criminal Law, Law School, Laws and Implementing Rules | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Who Should Perform Drug-Testing?

Posted by lexforiphilippines on September 28, 2010

In Nacague vs. Sulpicio Lines, Inc. (G.R. No. 172589; 8 August 2010), the Supreme Court considered as doubtful basis for termination of employment, the results of a dangerous drug test performed by a medical clinic which was not accredited by the Department of Health.  The High Court cited Section 36 of Republic Act No. 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) which provides that drug tests should be performed only by any government forensic laboratories or any of the drug testing laboratories accredited and monitored by the Department of Health, to safeguard the quality of test results.

To know more about the case and the Court’s ruling, click on Digested Cases under Tools.

Posted in Cases, Labor Law, Law School | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Withholding Agent’s Right to File a Claim for Tax Refund

Posted by lexforiphilippines on September 21, 2010

In Commissioner of Internal Revenue vs. Smart Communications, Inc. (G.R. No. 179045-46; 25 August 2010), the Supreme Court held that the person entitled to claim a tax refund is the taxpayer [Sections 204(c) and 229 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC)], but in case the taxpayer does not file a claim for refund, the withholding agent has the right to file the claim, even when it is unrelated to, or is not a wholly owned subsidiary of, the principal taxpayer.  The High Court cited two reasons: (1) “(the withholding agent) is considered a ‘taxpayer” under the NIRC as he is personally liable for the withholding tax as well as for deficiency assessments, surcharges, and penalties, should the amount of the tax withheld be finally found to be less than the amount that should have been withheld under law,” and (2) “as an agent of the taxpayer, his authority to file the necessary income tax return and to remit the tax withheld to the government impliedly includes the authority to file a claim for refund and to bring an action for recovery of such claim.”  The Supreme Court stressed, however, that as an agent of the taxpayer, it is the duty of the withholding agent to return to the principal taxpayer what he has recovered, otherwise, he would be unjustly enriching himself at the expense of the principal taxpayer from whom the taxes were withheld, and from whom he derives his legal right to file a claim for refund.

To know more about said case and the Supreme Court’s ruling, click on Digested Cases under Tools.

Posted in Cases, Law School, Taxation | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Promotion Only in Nomenclature

Posted by lexforiphilippines on September 16, 2010

When an employee’s position is converted to a higher job grade level but he is not given additional functions or responsibilities, can he be considered as “promoted” and claim conversion and promotion increase?

In SCA Hygiene Products Corporation Employees Association-FFW vs. SCA Hygiene Products Corporation (G.R. No. 182877; 9 August 2010), the Supreme Court held that of primordial consideration is not the nomenclature or title given to the employee, but the nature of his functions.  In this case, the employees concerned, although given a higher job grade level following a company-wide job evaluation, continued to occupy the same positions they were occupying before the job evaluation.  Their job titles remained the same and they were not given additional duties and responsibilities.  Like their previous job grade level, their new job grade level was also categorized as rank-and-file.  What transpired, said the High Court, was only a promotion in nomenclature, and the employees were not entitled to conversion or promotion increase.

For a digest of the case, click on Digested Cases under Tools.

Posted in Cases, Labor Law, Law School | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Bank’s General Lien on Deposits

Posted by lexforiphilippines on September 14, 2010

Is a stipulation in bank-loan documents giving the bank a right to set-off or apply the borrower’s loan (including interest) against his bank deposits, valid?

Yes.  In Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company vs. Mariñas (G.R. No. 179105; 26 July 2010), the Supreme Court sustained the bank’s authority to make deductions from a borrower’s deposits and apply them to his loans and stipulated interest, pursuant to the Deeds of Assignment with Power of Attorney executed by the borrower, giving the bank such authority.  The Court cited Article 1159 of the Civil Code which states that “obligations arising from contract have the force of law between the contracting parties and should be complied with in good faith.”  Not being contrary to law, such agreement between the bank and the borrower must be respected and given the force of law between them, said the Court.  The Court, however, ruled that, considering the total amounts of said borrower’s deposits inclusive of interest earned vis-à-vis his total obligations, the total depletion of his accounts was unwarranted.  The bank was ordered to account for whatever excess deductions made on the borrower’s accounts and to return them with earned interest.  The Court stressed that “(a)s a business affected with public interest, and because of the nature of their functions, banks are under obligation to treat the accounts of their depositors with meticulous care, always having in mind the fiduciary nature of their relationship.”

To know more about said case and the Court’s ruling, click on Digested Cases under Tools.

Posted in Banking Laws, Cases, Civil Law, Corporate Law, Law School | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

What is the status of children born before a marriage is annulled or nullified on the ground of psychological incapacity?

Posted by lexforiphilippines on September 9, 2010

Children conceived or born before the judgment of annulment or absolute nullity of the marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity has become final and executory shall be considered legitimate. (Article 54, Family Code)

Legitimate children have, in general, the right to bear the surnames of the father and the mother, to receive support from their parents, and to successional rights granted by law to legitimate children. (Article 174, Family Code)

Posted in Civil Law, Law School, Laws and Implementing Rules, Notes | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Joint Ventures; Sharing in Profits and Losses

Posted by lexforiphilippines on September 6, 2010

If parties to a joint venture agreed on how the profits from the joint venture would be divided, but did not specify how losses would be split, how should the losses be distributed?

A joint venture, being a form of partnership, is to be governed by the laws on partnership.  Under the laws on partnership, particularly Article 1797 of the Civil Code, the losses and profits shall be distributed in accordance with the partnership agreement; if only the share of each partner in the profits has been agreed upon, the share of each in the losses shall be in the same proportion. So said the Supreme Court in the consolidated cases of Marsman Drysdale Land, Inc. vs. Philippine Geoanalytics, Inc. and Gotesco Properties, Inc. (G.R. No. 183374; 29 June 2010) and Gotesco Properties, Inc. vs. Marsman Drysdale Land, Inc. and Philippine Geoanalytics, Inc. (G.R. No. 183376; 29 June 2010).

For a digest of said cases, click on Digested Cases under Tools.

Posted in Cases, Civil Law, Corporate Law, Law School, Notes | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

A Sense of Fair Play in Upholding an Immunity Agreement

Posted by lexforiphilippines on August 20, 2010

“More than any one, the government should be fair.” – The Supreme Court concluded its opinion in the case of Disini vs. Sandiganbayan (G.R. No. 180564; 22 June 2010) with this statement.

Said case involved an immunity agreement between petitioner and the State whereby petitioner agreed to testify for, and provide information and documents to, the State in two cases involving the contract for the construction of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, believed to have been brokered by one of his second cousin’s companies and attended by anomalies.  Under the same agreement, petitioner would not be compelled to testify in any other case which the state may bring against his said cousin.  Eighteen years after the immunity agreement was forged, and after petitioner complied with his undertaking, the State, through the PCGG, revoked its guarantee not to compel petitioner to testify against his second cousin.

Upholding petitioner’s immunity from testifying against his second cousin in other cases, the Supreme Court, in part, held:

“x x Trusting in the Government’s honesty and fidelity, (petitioner) agreed and fulfilled his part of the bargain.  Surely, the principle of fair play, which is the essence of due process, should hold the Republic on to its promise.”

“A contract is the law between the parties.  It cannot be withdrawn except by their mutual consent.  This applies with more reason in this case where (petitioner) had already complied with the terms and conditions of the Immunity Agreement. To allow the Republic to revoke the Agreement at this late stage will run afoul of the rule that a party to a compromise cannot ask for a rescission after it had enjoyed its benefits.”

To know more about the case and the Court’s ruling, click on Digested Cases under Tools and look for the digest of Disini vs. Sandiganbayan (G.R. No. 180564; 22 June 2010).

Posted in Cases, Civil Law, Law School, Political Law | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Is Sexual Infidelity Tantamount to Psychological Incapacity?

Posted by lexforiphilippines on August 16, 2010

In the case of Ligeralde vs. Patalinghug and Republic (G.R. No. 168796; 15 April 2010), the High Court held that the “(wife’s) act of living an adulterous life cannot automatically be equated with a psychological disorder, especially when no specific evidence was shown that promiscuity was a trait already existing at the inception of marriage.”  Her husband, who petitioned to have their marriage declared void, must be able to establish that his wife’s unfaithfulness was a manifestation of a disordered personality, which made her completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of the marital state.  He failed in this respect; neither his testimony nor the psychologist’s findings showed the root cause of his wife’s alleged incapacity.  The Court stressed that the root cause of the psychological incapacity must be identified as a psychological illness, its incapacitating nature fully explained and established by the totality of the evidence presented during trial.  The Court concluded that while petitioner’s wife had some character flaws and was far from being a perfect wife and a good mother, these imperfections did not warrant a conclusion that she had a psychological malady at the time of the marriage that rendered her incapable of fulfilling her marital and family duties and obligations.

Click on Digested Cases under Tools for a digest of Ligeralde vs. Patalinghug and Republic (G.R. No. 168796; 15 April 2010).

Posted in Civil Law, Law School, Remedial Law | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

BIR Lifesytle Check for Individuals

Posted by lexforiphilippines on August 13, 2010

Recently, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has been in the news for filing a case against a prominent businessman for failing to file his correct income tax return. Said businessman supposedly filed a zero tax return for the year 2007 but was able to acquire a Lamborghini worth Php26Million in the same year. The deed of sale for the luxurious car was said to have been provided by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

In his first State of the Nation Address, the President mentioned that the BIR will be filing cases against suspected smugglers and tax evaders on a weekly basis.

With this mandate coming from the highest official of the land, we can expect the BIR to focus its collection efforts against suspected tax cheats and high-profile individual taxpayers suspected of evading taxes.

But how will the Bureau go about this directive?

BIR Lifestyle Check

On March 9, 2010, the Bureau of Internal Revenue issued Revenue Memorandum Order (RMO) No. 19-2010, known as the Taxpayer’s Lifestyle Check System, with the objective to exhaust all means and methodology of determining an individual’s income. Under the RMO, the National Investigation Division (NID) of the BIR shall verify the existence of a taxpayer’s high value assets and/or conspicuous spending by accessing the records of appropriate government and private entities, such as but not limited to the following: the LTO, Bureau of Immigration, airline and shipping companies, Maritime Industry Authority, Civil and Aeronautics Board, Manila Electric Company, Land Registration Authority, Register of Deeds, resorts, membership clubs, or similar establishments, homeowner associations, real estate development authorities, and credit card companies, and Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Networth and/or Amnesty Returns filed under Republic Act No. 9480.

The information gathered from the aforementioned entities shall then be evaluated vis-à-vis the data extracted from the BIR’s Integrated Tax System (ITS) on the concerned taxpayer’s registered business/es, returns filed and amount of taxes paid. The economic use/beneficial ownership of properties shall be considered in the evaluation process. All properties registered under the name of  the taxpayer’s child, whether emancipated or minor, or any relative shall be considered as those of the taxpayer when the property is not proven to have been acquired under any of the means enumerated in the New Civil Code of the Philippines and the tax thereon has been properly paid, and/or the child or relative has no independent means sufficient for the acquisition of the property.

After evaluation, if sufficient evidence so warrants, the investigator shall request a formal issuance of a Letter of Authority to conduct a formal investigation of the subject taxpayer.

What will constitute prima facie evidence of fraud or substantial under-declaration of taxes?

If the taxpayer’s net worth has increased in a given year or if he has acquired substantial assets or incurred substantial spending and it was verified from the ITS that he has not filed an income tax return for the period or the declared income therein is disproportionate to his spending then the BIR will take is as a prima facie evidence of substantial under declaration of taxes.

Posted in Law School, Laws and Implementing Rules, Taxation | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »