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Archive for the ‘Remedial Law’ Category

Can there be Immediate Disconnection of Electric Service?

Posted by lexforiphilippines on September 30, 2010

  • MERALCO is within its rights to immediately disconnect the electric service of the consumer after due notice, upon discovery of a tampered, broken, or fake seal on, the meter, provided the discovery was personally witnessed and attested to by an officer of the law or a duly authorized representative of the Energy Regulatory Board.  It is only when the discovery is witnessed by such government representatives will it constitute prima facie evidence of illegal use of electricity by the person who benefits from the illegal use.  (Section 4, Republic Act No. 7832 or the Anti-Electricity and Electric Transmission Lines/Materials Pilferage Act of 1994)

An “officer of the law” is one “who, by direct supervision of law or by election or by appointment by competent authority, is charged with the maintenance of public order and the protection and security of life and property, such as barangay captain, barangay chairman, barangay councilman, barangay leader, officer or member of Barangay Community Brigades, barangay policeman, PNP policeman, municipal councilor, municipal mayor and provincial fiscal.”  (Section 1, Rule III, Rules and Regulations Implementing RA 7832)

The presence of the consumer during the MERALCO inspection cannot be a substitute for the presence of the government representatives.

  • MERALCO is authorized to immediately disconnect the electric service of its consumers without the need of a court or administrative order when: (1) the consumer, or someone acting on his behalf, is caught in the very act of committing any of the acts enumerated in Section 4(a) of RA 7832; or (2) when any of the circumstances so enumerated in Section 4(a) of RA 7832, constituting prima facie evidence of illegal use of electricity, is discovered for the second time. (Section 6, RA 7832)

Section 4(a) of RA 7832 enumerates the following circumstances, which will constitute prima facie evidence of illegal use of electricity by the person benefited by such illegal use, if the discovery of such circumstances is personally witnessed and attested to by an officer of the law or a duly authorized representative from Energy Regulatory Board:

(i) The presence of a bored hole on the glass cover of the electric meter, or at the back or any other part of said meter;

(ii) The presence inside the electric meter of salt, sugar and other elements that could result in the inaccurate registration of the meter’s internal parts to prevent its accurate registration of consumption of electricity;

(iii) The existence of any wiring connection which affects the normal operation or registration of the electric meter;

(iv) The presence of a tampered, broken, or fake seal on the meter, or mutilated, altered or tampered meter recording chart or graph, or computerized chart, graph, or log;

(v) The presence in any part of the building or its premises which is subject to the control of the consumer or on the electric meter, of a current reversing transformer, jumper, shorting and/or shunting wire, and/or loop connection or any other similar device;

(vi) The mutilation, alteration, reconnection, disconnection, bypassing or tampering of instruments, transformers, and accessories;

(vii) The destruction of, or attempt to destroy, any integral accessory of the metering device box which encases an electric meter, or its metering accessories; and

(viii) The acceptance of money and/or other valuable consideration by any officer of employee of the electric utility concerned or the making of such an offer to any such officer or employee for not reporting the presence of any of the foregoing circumstances.

  • Courts are prohibited from issuing injunctions or restraining orders against electric utilities over the exercise of their authority to disconnect service unless the disconnection is attended by bad faith or grave abuse of authority.  (Section 9, RA 7832)

In view of MERALCO’s dominance over its market and the customers’ relatively weak bargaining position as against MERALCO, and in view too of the serious consequences and hardships a customer stands to suffer upon service disconnection, MERALCO’s failure to strictly observe the legal requirements for instant disconnection can be equated to the bad faith or abuse of right that the law speaks of.

  • The presence of a defect in the meter, whether inherent, intentional or unintentional, including meter-tampering, which has existed for a considerable length of time, will create a presumption of constructive notice of such defect or tampering on the part of MERALCO.  MERALCO’s failure to discover such defect or tampering, considering the length of time, will amount to inexcusable negligence that will bar it from collecting its differential billing against the consumers.
  • Electricity is a basic necessity whose generation and distribution is imbued with public interest, and its provider is a public utility subject to strict regulation by the State in the exercise of police power. In view of the serious consequences resulting from immediate disconnection of electric service, the law provides strict requisites that MERALCO must follow before it can be granted authority to undertake instant disconnection of electric service due to its consumers.

These are legal precepts applied by the Supreme Court in deciding the case of Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) vs. Spouses Edito and Felicidad Chua and Josefina Paqueo (G.R. No. 160422; 5 July 2010).

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


Posted in Cases, Energy and Environment, Laws and Implementing Rules, Notes, Remedial Law | Tagged: , , , | Leave a 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 »

When Interest Imposed by the Lender is Excessive

Posted by lexforiphilippines on July 29, 2010

In Asian Cathay Finance and Leasing Corporation vs. Spouses Cesario Gravador and Norma de Vera, et al. (G.R. No. 186550; 5 July 2010), the Supreme Court declared –

“Stipulations authorizing the imposition of iniquitous or unconscionable interest are contrary to morals, if not against the law.  Under Article 1409 of the Civil Code, these contracts are inexistent and void from the beginning. They cannot be ratified nor the right to set up their illegality as a defense be waived. The nullity of the stipulation on the usurious interest does not, however, affect the lender’s right to recover the principal of the loan. Nor would it affect the terms of the real estate mortgage.  The right to foreclose the mortgage remains with the creditors, and said right can be exercised upon the failure of the debtors to pay the debt due.  The debt due is to be considered without the stipulation of the excessive interest.  A legal interest of 12% per annum will be added in place of the excessive interest formerly imposed. x x”

Click on Digested Cases under Tools for a digest of Asian Cathay Finance and Leasing Corporation vs. Spouses Cesario Gravador and Norma de Vera, et al. (G.R. No. 186550; 5 July 2010).

Posted in Civil Law, Remedial Law, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Venue for Libel Cases on the Internet

Posted by lexforiphilippines on July 5, 2010

Under Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 4363, libel cases where the complainant is a private individual is either (1) where the complainant actually resides at the time of the commission of the offense; or (2) where the alleged defamatory article was printed and first published.  If the private complainant opts for the second, the Information (formal indictment) must specifically state where the libelous article was printed and first published.  Previously, the case could be filed where the article was published or circulated, regardless of where it was written or printed.  The purpose of the amendment was to prevent indiscriminate filing of libel cases in far-flung areas in order to harass or intimidate the accused.

If the libelous article appears on a website, there is no way of finding out the location of its printing and first publication.  It is not enough for the complainant to lay the venue where the article was accessed, as this will open the floodgates to the libel suit being filed in all other locations where the website is also accessed or capable of being accessed, and spawn the very ills the amendment sought to prevent.  At any rate, the private complainant has the option to file the case in his/her place of residence, which will not necessitate finding out exactly where the libelous matter was printed and first published. So said the Supreme Court in the case of Bonifacio, et al. vs. RTC of Makati, Br. 129 (G.R. 184800; 5 May 2010).

Click on Tools for a Digest of the case of Bonifacio, et al. vs. RTC of Makati, Br. 129 (G.R. 184800; 5 May 2010).

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

Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases

Posted by lexforiphilippines on June 7, 2010

On 13 April 2010, the Supreme Court issued the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases (A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC) to protect the people’s constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology.  The Rules, which took effect on 29 April 2010, will govern the procedure in civil, criminal and special civil actions involving enforcement or violations of environmental laws such as the Revised Forestry Code, the Water Code, the Philippine Mining Act, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act.

For the salient features of the rules, please see Tools under Laws and Implementing Rules

Posted in Energy and Environment, Law School, Laws and Implementing Rules, Notes, Remedial Law | Leave a Comment »

May a married woman, who has chosen to adopt her husband’s surname in her passport, be allowed to revert to her maiden name when she renews her passport?

Posted by lexforiphilippines on May 20, 2010

A married woman is not prohibited from using her maiden name upon marriage; she has an option, not a duty, to use her husband’s surname (Article 370, Civil Code; Yasin vs. Hon. Judge Shari’a District Court, 311 Phil. 696, 707 [1995]).  Accordingly, a married woman who applies for a passport for the first time is allowed to use her maiden name.  If she opts to adopt her husband’s surname in her passport, she may not revert to the use of her maiden name, except in the following instances as enumerated in Section 5(d) of Republic Act No.  8239 or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996: (1) death of husband, (2) divorce, (3) annulment, or (4) nullity of marriage.  In other words, she may not revert to the use of her maiden name in her replacement passport as long as her marriage subsists.  So said the Supreme Court in the case of Remo vs. Secretary of Foreign Affairs (G.R. 169202; 5 March 2010)

(Click on Digested Cases under Tools to find a summary of the case of Remo vs. Secretary of Foreign Affairs G.R. 169202; 5 March 2010.)

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

Republic Act No. 9995 – Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act

Posted by lexforiphilippines on March 2, 2010

To all Hayden Kho wannabes and fans, Republic Act No. 9995, otherwise known as the “Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009” was signed into law on 15 February 2010.

Under the new law, a person is prohibited:

(a) To take photo or video coverage of a person or group of persons performing sexual act or any similar activity or to capture an image of the private area of a person/s such as the naked or undergarment clad genitals, public area, buttocks or female breast without the consent of the person/s involved and under circumstances in which the person/s has/have a reasonable expectation of privacy;

(b) To copy or reproduce, or to cause to be copied or reproduced, such photo or video or recording of sexual act or any similar activity, with or without consideration, notwithstanding that consent to record or take photo or video coverage of the same was given by such person/s;

(c) To sell or distribute, or cause to be sold or distributed, such photo or video or recording of sexual act, whether it be the original copy or reproduction thereof, notwithstanding that consent to record or take photo or video coverage of the same was given by such person/s; or

(d) To publish or broadcast, or cause to be published or broadcast, whether in print or broadcast media, or show or exhibit the photo or video coverage or recordings of such sexual act or any similar activity through VCD/DVD, internet, cellular phones and other similar means or device, notwithstanding that consent to record or take photo or video coverage of the same was given by such person/s.

Those found guilty of committing any of said prohibited acts will be penalized with imprisonment of not less than 3 years but not more than seven 7 years and a fine of not less than P100,000.00 but not more than P500,000.00, or both, at the court’s discretion.

If the violator is a juridical person, its license or franchise will be automatically deemed revoked and the persons liable will be the officers, including the editor and reporter in the case of print media, and the station manager, editor and broadcaster in the case of a broadcast media.  If the offender is a public officer or employee, or a professional, he/she will be administratively liable.  If the offender is an alien, he/she will be subject to deportation proceedings after serving his/her sentence and payment of fines.

Any photo or video, or any copy of such photo or video, obtained in violation of the law, will not be admissible in evidence in any judicial, quasi-judicial, legislative or administrative hearing or investigation.

A peace officer may use such photo or video or any copy of such photo or video as evidence in any civil, criminal investigation or trial of the crime of photo or video voyeurism, but only when so authorized by a written order of the court.  Such written order will be issued only upon written application and the examination under oath or affirmation of the applicant and the witnesses he/she may produce, and upon showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that photo or video voyeurism has been committed or is about to be committed, and that the evidence to be obtained is essential to the conviction of any person for, or to the solution or prevention of such, crime.

Posted in Laws and Implementing Rules, Remedial Law, Uncategorized | 15 Comments »

Quinto v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 189698; 1 December 2009

Posted by lexforiphilippines on January 7, 2010

Are appointive officials who intend to run in the 2010 elections,   automatically resigned from office upon the filing of their Certificate of Candidacy (CoC)? Visit our Tools Section and click Digested Cases for the Supreme Court’s answer to this query.

Posted in Cases, Election Law, Political Law, Remedial Law | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

When Murder is Absorbed by Rebellion

Posted by lexforiphilippines on December 23, 2009

One of the criticisms against the 4 December 2009 Proclamation of Martial Law in Maguindanao (Proclamation 1959) was that it was a ruse to help the Ampatuans escape punishment for the 23 November 2009 Maguindanao massacre.  The President issued Proclamation 1959, in the wake of the Maguindanao massacre, supposedly to quell a rebellion led by the Amapatuans.  Critics feared that the Ampatuans would use the rebellion charges as a defense in the murder case on the premise that Murder in the course of a rebellion is deemed absorbed by the crime of Rebellion. 

But will such a defense hold water?

In People vs. Hernandez (G. R. Nos. L-6025-26; 18 July 1956), the Supreme Court held that where the murder, robberies and arson are committed as a means to or in furtherance of the rebellion charged, they are absorbed by, and form part of, the rebellion, and accordingly, the accused could be convicted only of the simple crime of rebellion.

In Enrile vs. Salazar (G.R. No. 92163; 5 June 1990), the Supreme Court held that the ruling in People vs. Hernandez (supra) “remains binding doctrine operating to prohibit the complexing of rebellion with any other offense committed on the occasion thereof, either as a means necessary to its commission or as an unintended effect of an activity that constitutes rebellion.” (Emphasis supplied.) 

In People vs. Lovedioro (G.R. No. 112235; 29 November 1995), the High Court ruled that for murder to be considered absorbed by the crime of rebellion, it must have been committed in furtherance of a political end.  In fact, even in cases where the act complained of were committed simultaneously with or in the course of the rebellion, if the killing, robbing, or etc., were accomplished for private purposes or profit, without any political motivation,  the crime would be separately punishable as a common crime and would not be absorbed by the crime rebellion (citing People vs. Geronimo, 100 Phil. 95 & 99 [1956]).  The Supreme Court further held that the political motive of the act should be conclusively demonstrated, and that the burden of demonstrating political motive falls on the defense, motive, being a state of mind which the accused, better than any individual, knows.

Thus, if political motive is not conclusively established, the accused should be convicted of murder.

Posted in Political Law, Remedial Law, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Martial Law in Maguindanao – Political or Judicial Question

Posted by lexforiphilippines on December 11, 2009

Where does the congressional inquiry into the Martial Law Proclamation end and the judicial review of the same Proclamation begin?

As a check-and-balance mechanism, the 1987 Constitution gave the two other co-equal branches of the government the power to rein in the seemingly vast power of the Executive.  Article VII, Section 18 of the Constitution grants the Legislature the power to revoke the Proclamation, and the Judiciary the power to review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the Proclamation.  But won’t there be any overlapping of issues to review? 

In determining whether or not to revoke the Proclamation, wouldn’t Congress be constrained to look into the factual basis of the Proclamation – to see if there was an actual rebellion in Maguindanao? As it is, Congress, in its joint session, has put forward issues concerning the sufficiency of the President’s reasons for issuing Proclamation No. 1959.  What happens, therefore, if Congress decides to revoke the Proclamation? Will the petitions before the Supreme Court questioning the very same Proclamation be considered moot? And won’t the mooting of the petitions only confirm that the issues which Congress considers are the very same issues put forward before the Judiciary? If the Judiciary decides, within the 30-day period prescribed by the Constitution and before Congress resolves to revoke or affirm the Proclamation, that the Proclamation had no sufficient factual basis to proclaim martial law, will Congress be bound by such finding? Can it proceed to affirm the Proclamation? Or looking at it the other way around, what if the Judiciary sustains the sufficiency of the factual basis of the Proclamation, can Congress still decide to revoke the Proclamation? What if it does?

Just asking . . . perhaps the exec better just lift it.

Although, we must say, this recent historic event has provided fertile ground for new and interesting jurisprudence.

Posted in Political Law, Remedial Law | Leave a Comment »