Monday, October 05, 2015

The Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction to impose the proper disciplinary action against civil registrars.

The Clerk of Court of the Shari'a Circuit Court wears two hats: first, as Clerk of Court of the Shari'a Circuit Court, and second, as Circuit Registrar within his territorial jurisdiction. Although the Constitution vests the Court with the power of administrative supervision over all courts and its personnel, this power must be taken with due regard to other prevailing laws.
While civil registrars are members of the Judiciary as Clerk of Court of the Shari'a Circuit Court, a review of the complaint reveals that the complainant seeks to hold the registrar liable for registering the divorce and issuing the Certificate of Registration of Divorce pursuant to his duties as Circuit Registrar of Muslim divorces. The test of jurisdiction is the nature of the offense and not the personality of the offender. The fact that the complaint charges Abdullah for "conduct unbecoming of a court employee" is of no moment. Well-settled is the rule that what controls is not the designation of the offense but the actual facts recited in the complaint. Unless jurisdiction has been conferred by some legislative act, no court or tribunal can act on a matter submitted to it.
Under the Local Government Code the power of administrative supervision over civil registrars was devolved to the municipal and city mayors. Under the "faithful execution clause" embodied in Section 455 (b)(1)(x) and Section 444 (b)(1)(x) of the Local Government Code, in relation to Section 479 of the same Code, the municipal and city mayors, in addition to their power to appoint city or municipal civil registrars are also given ample authority to exercise administrative supervision over civil registrars.
At this juncture, it should be remembered that the authority of the Mayor to exercise administrative supervision over C/MCRs is not exclusive. The Civil Service Commission, as the central personnel agency of the government, has the power to appoint and discipline its officials and employees and to hear and decide administrative cases instituted by or brought before it directly or on appeal. Under Section 9 of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, the CSC is granted original concurrent jurisdiction over administrative cases.
Consequently, it behooves the Court to also forward the subject complaint to the Office of the Mayor, Marawi City and to the CSC for appropriate action.[1]

[1] Mamiscal v. Abdullah, A.M. No. SCC-13-18-J, July 1, 2015.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Consequences of using a US passport

In Arnado v. COMELEC,[1] the Supreme Court held that an affidavit of renunciation of foreign citizenship is deemed withdrawn when a candidate uses a US passport after executing the affidavit. The candidate is disqualified from running for local office and a landslide victory cannot override the eligibility requirements.

[1] G.R. No. 210164, August 18, 2015.

On the validity of Quezon City's Socialized Housing Tax and Garbage Fee

The Validity of a Tax may be Determined by other Statutes
In Ferrer, Jr. v. Bautista,[1] the Supreme Court upheld the Socialized Housing Tax (SHT) of Quezon City. The City imposed a Socialized Housing Tax equivalent to 0.5% on the assessed value of land in excess of Php100,000.00. The Court held that this special assessment is the same tax referred to in Republic Act No. 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992. The SHT is one of the sources of funds for urban development and housing program.[2] The Court explained that:
...Aside from the specific authority vested by Section 43 of the UDHA, cities are allowed to exercise such other powers and discharge such other functions and responsibilities as are necessary, appropriate, or incidental to efficient and effective provision of the basic services and facilities which include, among others, programs and project for low-cost housing and other mass dwellings.  The collections made accrue to its socialized housing programs and projects. The tax is not a pure exercise of taxing power or merely to raise revenue; it is levied with regulatory purpose. The levy is primarily in the exercise of the police power for the general welfare of the entire city. It is greatly imbued with public interest. Removing slum areas in Quezon City is not only beneficial to the underprivileged and homeless constituents but advantageous to the real property owners as well. The situation will improve the value of the then property investments, fully enjoying the same in view of an orderly, secure and safe community, and will enhance the quality of life of the poor, making them law-abiding constituents and better consumers of business products.
In the same case, the Supreme Court struck down Quezon City’s “garbage fee” saying that, among other reasons, it was inconsistent with Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. The Court held that under that law: is clear that the authority of a municipality or city to impose fees is limited to the collection and transport of non-recyclable and special wastes and for the disposal of these into the sanitary landfill. Barangays, on the other hand, have the authority to impose fees for the collection and segregation of biodegradable, compostable and reusable wastes from households, commerce, other sources of domestic wastes, and for the use of barangay MRFs. This is but consistent with Section 10 of R.A. No. 9003 directing that segregation and collection of biodegradable, compostable and reusable wastes shall be conducted at the barangay level, while the collection of non-recyclable materials and special wastes shall be the responsibility of the municipality or city.
In this case, the alleged bases of Ordinance No. S-2235 in imposing the garbage fee is the volume of waste currently generated by each person in Quezon City, which purportedly stands at 0.66 kilogram per day, and the increasing trend of waste generation for the past three years. Respondents did not elaborate any further. The figure presented does not reflect the specific types of wastes generated — whether residential, market, commercial, industrial, construction/ demolition, street waste, agricultural, agro-industrial, institutional, etc. It is reasonable, therefore, for the Court to presume that such amount pertains to the totality of wastes, without any distinction, generated by Quezon City constituents. To reiterate, however, the authority of a municipality or city to impose fees extends only to those related to the collection and transport of non-recyclable and special wastes.[3]

[1] G.R. No. 210551, June 30, 2015.
[2] Section 43 of the law provides:
Sec. 43. Socialized Housing Tax. — Consistent with the constitutional principle that the ownership and enjoyment of property bear a social function and to raise funds for the Program, all local government units are hereby authorized to impose an additional one-half percent (0.5%) tax on the assessed value of all lands in urban areas in excess of Fifty thousand pesos (50,000.00).
See Ferrer, Jr. v. Bautista, G.R. No. 210551, June 30, 2015.
[3] Ferrer, Jr. v. Bautista, G.R. No. 210551, June 30, 2015.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

No business taxes on petroleum products

The power of local governments to impose business taxes is found in Section 143. However, this power is subject to the explicit statutory limitation in Section 133(h) which prohibits local governments from imposing “taxes, fees or charges on petroleum products.”[1]

[1] Batangas City v. Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation, G.R. No. 187631, July 8, 2015.

Monday, July 27, 2015

CE Casecnan Water and Energy Co. v. The Province of Nueva Ecija

Republic Act No. 9282 expanded the jurisdiction of the Court of Tax Appeals which now includes its exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review by appeal the decisions, orders or resolutions of the regional trial courts in local tax cases originally decided or resolved by the regional trial courts in the exercise of its original or appellate jurisdiction. It is the CTA which has exclusive jurisdiction over a special civil action for certiorari assailing an interlocutory order issued by the RTC in a local tax case.[1]

[1] CE Casecnan Water and Energy Co. v. The Province of Nueva Ecija, G.R. No. 196278, June 17, 2015. In National Power Corporation v. Municipal Government of Navotas (G.R. No. 192300, November 24, 2014), and City of Lapu-Lapu v. Philippine Economic Zone Authority (G.R. No. 184203, November 26, 2014), the Supreme Court already held that local tax cases include real property tax.

Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority v. City of Lapu-Lapu, et al., G.R. No. 181756, June 15, 2015.

The Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority is an instrumentality of the government; thus, its properties actually, solely and exclusively used for public purposes, consisting of the airport terminal building, airfield, runway, taxiway and the lots on which they are situated, are not subject to real property tax and respondent City is not justified in collecting taxes from petitioner over said properties.[1] MCIAA is vested with corporate powers but it is not a stock or non-stock corporation, which is a necessary condition before an agency or instrumentality is deemed a government-owned or controlled corporation. Like MIAA, petitioner MCIAA has capital under its charter but it is not divided into shares of stock.[2]

Amusement taxes

The Supreme Court declared section 14 of Republic Act No. 9167 as unconstitutional. It said that by earmarking the income on amusement taxes imposed by the local governments in favor of FDCP and the producers of graded films, the legislature appropriated and distributed local government funds (which are not legally within its control) under the guise of setting a limitation on the local governments’ exercise of their delegated taxing power. The Supreme Court held that this was a usurpation of the latter’s exclusive prerogative to apportion their funds, an impermissible intrusion into the local governments’ constitutionally-protected domain which negates the guarantee of fiscal autonomy to municipal corporations as mandated by the Constitution.[1]

Sunday, July 05, 2015

The end of cute: The return of common sense in environmental litigation

Two developments in Philippine law ended the debate on the contributions of Oposa v. Factoran[1] in environmental litigation. I have always been cynical about, and critical of Oposa; because I have yet to see what benefit the case brought to environmental protection. I will not repeat my attack on the case which has been published elsewhere.[2] I reiterate one criticism of Oposa that is relevant to my argument that this "novelty approach" to litigation that began in Oposa has been written off, probably unwittingly, by the Supreme Court.
The argument I made years ago was that "Intergenerational equity as articulated in Oposa has no practical effect. If the children had invoked their own right to a balanced and healthful ecology, the Supreme Court would have decided the case in the same way. Neither the issues nor the Court’s interpretation of the law would change."[3]
The Supreme Court proved that my argument is correct. The Court did this in two ways. The first was done five years ago though the implementation of the environmental rules.[4] The second way involved a that invoked the rights of marine mammals.[5] 
The environmental rules provide:
SECTION 5. Citizen Suit. — Any Filipino citizen in representation of others, including minors or generations yet unborn, may file an action to enforce rights or obligations under environmental laws. Upon the filing of a citizen suit, the court shall issue an order which shall contain a brief description of the cause of action and the reliefs prayed for, requiring all interested parties to manifest their interest to intervene in the case within fifteen (15) days from notice thereof. The plaintiff may publish the order once in a newspaper of a general circulation in the Philippines or furnish all affected barangays copies of said order.[6]
An examination of section 5 shows that invoking the rights of future generations, ironically after it was codified, is really pointless. The future generations cannot by themselves file a case to protect their rights. Only the present generation may do so, and when it does, what benefit does it acquire from invoking the rights of future generations? If all cases from this point on are filed on behalf of future generations in accordance with Section 5 the resolution of those cases will not differ had the case been filed by the present generation.
I repeat my position: Had the petitioners in Oposa invoked only their rights, the decision would have remained the same. Under the environmental rules, whether or a case is filed on behalf of future generations, the decision on the merits will remain the same.
This point is made clearer by the Court's decision on a case filed on behalf of marine mammals who were threatened by the exploration, development, and exploitation of petroleum resources. On the issue of standing, the Supreme Court held that because the Supreme Court had promulgated the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, "the need to give the Resident Marine Mammals legal standing has been eliminated by our Rules, which allow any Filipino citizen, as a steward of nature, to bring a suit to enforce our environmental laws."[7]
In effect, there is no need to invoke the rights of non-human life forms if humans are co-petitioners in the suit. The Court did not rule on whether animals had standing to sue.
In both cases, the presence of human petitioners make the rights of future generations or other life forms irrelevant. In Resident Marine Mammals, the Court expressly makes this clear.
The only time invoking the rights of future generations or fauna will make a difference is if their rights are tied to the relief sought by petitioners. Do we seek greater relief because we are invoking the rights of the unborn? Are we asking the Court to protect the environment more because we should factor in the temporal impacts of present human activities? These concerns, however, were never part of Oposa.
Oposa was a novelty that served as a distraction at most. I have always maintained that the "ruling" on standing was never doctrinal[8] and that litigators have never invoked it because there was never any practical use for it. Why? Because litigants know that they only need to invoke their rights to prove standing. For decades Oposa has captivated the environmental movement only to fail it. We have been pursuing an idea that makes no concrete contribution to the protection of the environment. I hope these developments will knock the environmental movement to its senses so we can begin protecting the environment in earnest.

[1] G.R. No. 101083, July 30, 1993.
[2] Dante Gatmaytan, The Illusion of Intergenerational Equity: Oposa v. Factoran as Pyrrhic Victory, 15 Geo. Int’l Envtl. L. Rev. 457, 457-485 (2003) and Dante Gatmaytan, Artificial Judicial Environmental Activism: Oposa v. Factoran as Aberration, 17 Ind. Int’l & Comp. L. Rev. 1, 1-28 (2007).
[3] Dante Gatmaytan-Magno, Judicial Restraint and the Enforcement of Environmental Rights in the Philippines, 12 Or. Rev. Int’l L. 1, 1-30 (2010).
[4] Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC, (2010).
[5] Resident Marine Mammals of the Protected Seascape Tañon Strait v. Reyes, G.R. No. 180771, April 21, 2015.
[6] Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC, [2010].
[7] Resident Marine Mammals of the Protected Seascape Tañon Strait v. Reyes, G.R. No. 180771, April 21, 2015.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

UN: Anti-RH policies of ex-Manila mayors Atienza and Lim drove constituents deeper into poverty

UN: Anti-RH policies of ex-Manila mayors Atienza and Lim drove constituents deeper into poverty
The online news portal of TV5
MANILA - A United Nations committee says that two executive orders of former Manila mayors Jose Atienza, Jr., and Alfredo Lim got in the way of women's access to reproductive health services and contraceptives, consequently driving many constituents further into poverty as they were unable to manage the number of their children and suffered the consequences of unplanned pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal deaths.

This was contained in a report issued last month by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
The nongovernmental organizations Task Force CEDAW Inquiry, Center for Reproductive Rights, and International Women's Rights Action Network Asia-Pacific requested the UN Committee in June 2008 to conduct an inquiry into alleged violations of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) because of the implementation of Executive Order No. 0003 issued by Atienza in February 2000, which covered the provision of sexual and reproductive health rights, services, and commodities in Manila.

Citing the sanctity of life and the protection of the lives of the mother and the unborn, as provided by the 1987 Philippine Constitution, EO 0003 declared that Manila would take an "affirmative stand on pro-life issues and responsible parenthood."
This meant that the local government unit (LGU) would "uphold natural family planning ... while discouraging the use of artificial methods of contraception like condoms, pills, intrauterine devices, (and) surgical sterilization," among others.
While EO 003, according to the NGOs, did not "expressly prohibit" the use of these contraceptives, in practice, the executive order "severely limited women's access to sexual and reproductive health services and effectively resulted in a ban of modern contraceptives" in Manila.
During Lim's term beginning in 2007, the NGOs said that EO 003 continued to be implemented, and that another executive order, EO 030, was issued in 2011 which supposedly imposed a funding ban on artificial contraception.

The UN Committee asked the Philippine government to help them assess the information it gathered in 2008.

In 2009, the Philippine government had told the UN Committee that the Manila City Health Office refuted the allegations.

The UN Committee decided to launch an inquiry on the issue of accessibility of contraceptives in Manila in 2010, as headed by members Pramila Patten and Violeta Neubauer, who visited the city in November 2012 and met representatives of the Philippine Commission on Women, the Department of Health, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), among others.

They also interviewed Mayor Lim, the Manila City Legal Officer, representatives of the City Health Office, and officials of the City Department of Social Welfare.

They visited three health centers and Abad Santos Hospital, as well, and conducted interviews. They also talked to 60 women aged 19 to 49 years old, mostly from urban poor areas, and made trips to communities in Tondo, "where they were able to witness extreme poverty among urban households, many of which are headed by women."

The UN Committee found that, while the 1987 Philippine Constitution provided for the separation of Church and State, the Catholic Church still had "considerable influence on public policymaking" in the country, including that on reproductive health.

It also found that the implementation of EO 003 "resulted in the withdrawal of all supplies of modern contraceptives from all local government-funded health facilities, as well as in the refusal to provide women with family planning information and counseling other than ‘natural family planning' and brought misinformation about modern methods of contraception, including those methods listed on the World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines."

EO 003, said the UN Committee, also led to the discontinuation of the provision of supplies and information on modern contraception. All "relevant" medical personnel were trained in and provided information only on natural family planning methods.

"Authorities and medical staff interviewed all confirmed that instructions issued by Mayor Atienza to that effect continued to be implemented after February 2004," the UN Committee report said.

They also found that there was a ban on modern contraception in all public health facilities run by the Manila LGU, including hospitals, health centers, and lying-in clinics after February 2004.

The UN Committee also found that Mayor Lim continued to enforce EO 003 during his term.

"Interviews with women who had sought modern contraception in health centers and hospitals between 2007 and 2011 revealed that EO 003 was still enforced in practice, despite the Mayor's declared ‘pro-choice' policy," the UN Committee said.

The latter was defined under Mayor Lim's EO 030 as "allowing couples to exercise full and absolute discretion in deciding on which form of family planning to use conformably with their religious beliefs and practices."

But EO 030 also stated that the LGU would "not disburse and appropriate funds or finance any program or purchase materials, medicines for artificial birth control."

The UN Committee saw that the pro-choice policy under EO 030 "was not accompanied by the necessary means to make these choices available and affordable."

NGOs, donors, and other third parties were left to fill the gap which, under the Local Government Code of 1991, was actually delegated to the LGUs.

The implementation of both executive orders had a detrimental effect on poor women, driving "them further into poverty by depriving them of an opportunity to control and space their number of children."

According to the testimonies of the 60 women, they found it difficult to use natural family planning methods, "which many times contributed to tensions and conflicts with their husbands or partners and fostered domestic violence."

The UN Committee added that it witnessed "the damage on women's mental and physical health resulting from multiple pregnancies and their increased exposure to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases."

EO 003 "harmed disadvantaged groups of women, including poor women and adolescent girls, as well as women in abusive relationships."

Adolescent girls were also exposed to an increased risk of unwanted pregnancies and pregnancy-related injuries or death following unprotected or coerced sex.

EO 003's impact was compounded by the funding ban in EO 030, the UN Committee said.

It also called the efforts of the DOH in assisting the Manila LGU in providing reproductive health services "insufficient."

The delay in enacting a reproductive health law was another factor in the "unsatisfactory" response of the Philippine government to address the situation in Manila.

"The Committee observes that the lives and health of many women were put at risk, as they were compelled to have more children than they wanted or than their health permitted them to have. The Committee particularly takes notes of the potentially life-threatening consequences of unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancies as a direct consequence of the denial of access to the full range of contraceptive methods as well as of the strict criminalization of abortion without any exemptions provided for in the State party's legislation. Complications resulting from unsafe and illegal abortions are a prominent cause of maternal death in the City of Manila, as acknowledged by the State party," the UN Committee said.

The national government, it added, failed "to provide the full range of sexual and reproductive health services, commodities, and information (which) resulted in unplanned pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and unnecessary and preventable maternal deaths."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Puyat Steel Corp. v. Central Board of Assessment Appeals, G.R. No. 174351 (Notice), (February 18, 2015).

A letter addressed to the Provincial Assessor, thru the Municipal Mayor is not the appeal contemplated that would stop the running of the 60-day reglementary period. Under Section 226, appeal of the assessment of the property is done by filing before the LBAA “a petition under oath in the form prescribed for the purpose, together with the copies of the tax declarations and such affidavits or documents submitted in support of the appeal.” The party who appeals must comply with the procedures and rules governing appeals. The perfection of an appeal in the manner and within the period permitted by law is not only mandatory, but jurisdictional, and the failure to perfect that appeal renders the judgment of the court final and executory. See Puyat Steel Corp. v. Central Board of Assessment Appeals, G.R. No. 174351 (Notice), (February 18, 2015).

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Congress to abolish twisted doctrine if SC won’t

Congress to abolish twisted doctrine if SC won’t

MANILA, Philippines–If the Supreme Court does not have the guts to rectify a twisted dogma, Congress is willing to step in and abolish this doctrine of condonation by re-election.
Deputy Speaker and Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao said he would file a bill that would effectively “neuter” this doctrine that Makati Mayor Junjun Binay is using to foil the suspension order imposed on him by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.

“If the SC cannot find the wherewithal to overturn this ‘wrong doctrine,’ I would propose Congress step in to neuter it. A simple, straightforward piece of legislation would do the trick,” said Aggabao in a text message.

During the second day of oral arguments on the case in Baguio City last Tuesday, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno lectured Binay lawyer Sandra Marie Olaso-Coronel on using a patently wrong doctrine just to save her client without considering the damage it would wreak on on the constitutional framework and the quality of governance for future generations of Filipinos.

The doctrine that the Binay camp used in its defense is based on 1959 case involving the mayor of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, in which the high court, following American jurisprudence, ruled that the mayor was to be effectively absolved from administrative charges by virtue of reelection.

Binay has been accused of plunder for the construction of the allegedly overpriced Makati parking building which was started by his father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, and completed during his first term as mayor from 2010 to 2013.

Aggabao, a topnotcher in the 1980 bar exams, said the chief justice was correct.
“The doctrine is a bad, decisional law. It is anchored on a fundamental flaw: that the electorate had full knowledge of wrongs committed by its elected officials. But who does? The condonation is so fictional because it is established by implication from the mere re-election of an errant official,” he said.

“It is about time this doctrine is turned on its head,” Aggabao said.
Meanwhile, Binay’s lawyer, Sandra Marie Olaso-Coronel who was berated over the issue by her former professor, Sereno, is buckling down to work, preparing to issue a rebuttal on paper.

Coronel is prepared to stand her ground to defend the validity of the condonation doctrine.
“This condonation doctrine has been longstanding [for] 55 years and reiterated repeatedly in various cases, last of which was in 2009,” she said.

“This means it has withstood judicial scrutiny through three Constitutions, including the 1987 [Constitution]. It is based on the constitutional mandate of the sovereignty of the people, the electorate. This is most basic in a democracy,” she said.

Coronel, who is herself a law professor at the UP Law College, disputed the Inquirer’s report that she could barely respond to Sereno during last Tuesday’s oral arguments, claiming to have succeed in “standing our ground that the doctrine remains good law.”

But Coronel conceded that the Binay camp was only asserting condonation as applying only in the administrative aspect of the case.

“This means [that] while the re-elected official cannot be removed from office, he can still remain charged in the criminal case,” she said.

In the end, Coronel said it would be up to the high court to decide on whether or not to uphold the condonation doctrine.

Read more: 

Mining bill is an assault on local autonomy

House Bill No. 5367, filed recently by Marikina Representative Romero Quimbo, is a draft measure to enact the “Philippine Fiscal Regime and Revenue Sharing Arrangement for Large-scale Metallic Mining Act of 2014.” The proponents of the bill are presenting it as a measure to rationalize the existing sharing schemes on mining revenues. A closer review of the bill reveals, however, that it is poised to impose the greatest setback to local government autonomy since Ferdinand Marcos concentrated power under his martial law regime.
The bill is designed to bypass local governments and allow the national government to exploit resources unimpeded. The bill will cut local governments’ powers to regulate the effects of mining and reduce their financial bases. It promises a quick financial payoff at the expense of local government autonomy and community rights. There are many reasons to be wary of this bill and the most insidious provisions are sections 5, 6 and 7.
Section 5 of the bill provides that “all mining areas governed by this Act shall be declared by the President as Mining Industry Zones.” These mining areas are approved and certified by the Mining and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) then endorsed by the Secretary of the Environment to the President. The MGB approval and certification process shall pass through consultation with the concerned local government units and the indigenous cultural communities if the mining area is within an ancestral domain. The consultation process shall include an endorsement from the LGU for the establishment of the mining area as an MIZ. The section further states that the LGU endorsement shall include a waiver of its power to regulate the mining business operations through issuance of business permits and other license requirements imposed by the LGU pursuant to the Local Government Code of 1991, as amended.”
In short, local governments are required to endorse the establishment of the MIZ and then surrender their powers to regulate mining activities. Local governments cannot have any role in the MIZ. Section 6 of the bill provides that "Any local issuances and/or directions that may be issued by the host LGU, which may affect or relate to mining operations and other incidental activities thereto, shall be consistent with and shall conform to the provisions of this Act and to the laws, regulations, policies and decisions taken by the national government."
Clearly the bill will not tolerate any opposition to mining. The phrase "other incidental activities" could cover a wide range of concerns, such as pollution or other public health issue. If this bill were passed into law, local governments will be prohibited from addressing health concerns or other emergencies which they could under present laws.
Section 5 also erases the consultation provisions found in Sections 2(c), 26 and 27 of the Local Government Code. These provisions extend the consultation requirements to all stakeholders, not only local governments. The bill does not require the consent of local officials before the national government can implement projects.
Section 7 provides that “payment of the Government share shall be in lieu of all national and local taxes including corporate income tax, royalty for the ICCs, duties on imported specialized capital mining equipment, fees for mayors and/or business permits, and other fees and charges imposed by the host LGUs pursuant to the Local Government Code of 1991, as amended.” In other words, mining companies only need to provide the national government's share and nothing more. Local governments will be denied the power to raise revenues from activities related to mining.
House Bill No. 5367 poses too many risks to the environment, the health of host communities, and to the cause of local autonomy. It threatens rights presently enjoyed by indigenous peoples under the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of 1997. It ensures that mining will continue unabated.
The issue raised by House Bill No. 5367 is not the fact that local governments hosting mining operations will have a share in the revenues. This is already mandated by the Constitution. The issue with the bill is how it cuts out local officials from the mining operations, disempowering its officials from protecting the environment and their constituents.
In the end, the bill seeks nothing less than the surrender of local government autonomy over mining activities. If passed, local governments will end up exactly where they were during the Marcos dictatorship, voiceless and helpless to raise objections to the national government's drive to extract recourses from their territories. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Republic of the Philippines
Congress of the Philippines
Metro Manila
Sixteenth Congress
Second Regular Session
Begun and held in Metro Manila, on Monday, the twenty-eighth day of July, two thousand fourteen.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:
SECTION 1. Section 3 of Presidential Decree No. 1606, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:
“SEC. 3. Constitution of the Divisions; Quorum. – The Sandiganbayan shall sit in seven (7) divisions of three (3) members each.
“Two (2) members shall constitute a quorum for sessions in divisions: Provided, That when the required quorum for the particular division cannot be had due to the legal disqualification or temporary incapacity of a member or a vacancy therein, the Presiding Justice may designate a member of another division to be determined by strict rotation on the basis of the reverse order of precedence, to sit as a special member of said division with all the rights and prerogatives of a regular member of said division in the trial and determination of a case or cases assigned thereto.”
SEC. 2. Section 4 of the same decree, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:
“SEC. 4. Jurisdiction. – The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving:
“a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the accused are officials occupying the following positions in the government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense:
“(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher, otherwise classified as Grade ’27’ and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically including:
“(a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other provincial department heads:
“(b) City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other city department heads;
“(c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of consul and higher;
“(d) Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of higher rank;
“(e) Officers of the Philippine National Police while occupying the position of provincial director and those holding the rank of senior superintendent and higher;
“(f) City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutor;
“(g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or foundations.
“(2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as Grade ’27’ and higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989;
“(3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution;
“(4) Chairmen and members of the Constitutional Commissions, without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; and
“(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade ’27’ and higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.
“b. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a. of this section in relation to their office.
“c. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986.
“Provided, That the Regional Trial Court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction where the information: (a) does not allege any damage to the government or any bribery; or (b) alleges damage to the government or bribery arising from the same or closely related transactions or acts in an amount not exceeding One million pesos (P1,000,000.00).
“Subject to the rules promulgated by the Supreme Court, the cases falling under the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court under this section shall be tried in a judicial region other than where the official holds office.
“In cases where none of the accused are occupying positions corresponding to Salary Grade ’27’ or higher, as prescribed in the said Republic Act No. 6758, or military and PNP officers mentioned above, exclusive original jurisdiction thereof shall be vested in the proper regional trial court, metropolitan trial court, municipal trial court, and municipal circuit trial court, as the case may be, pursuant to their respective jurisdictions as provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended.
“The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive appellate jurisdiction over final judgments, resolutions or orders of regional trial courts whether in the exercise of their own original jurisdiction or of their appellate jurisdiction as herein provided.
“The Sandiganbayan shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over petitions for the issuance of the writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus, injunctions, and other ancillary writs and processes in aid of its appellate jurisdiction and over petitions of similar nature, including quo warranto, arising or that may arise in cases filed or which may be filed under Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986: Provided, That the jurisdiction over these petitions shall not be exclusive of the Supreme Court.
“The procedure prescribed in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as well as the implementing rules that the Supreme Court has promulgated and may hereafter promulgate, relative to appeals/petitions for review to the Court of Appeals, shall apply to appeals and petitions for review filed with the Sandiganbayan. In all cases elevated to the Sandiganbayan and from the Sandiganbayan to the Supreme Court, the Office of the Ombudsman, through its special prosecutor, shall represent the People of the Philippines, except in cases filed pursuant to Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986.
“In case private individuals are charged as co-principals, accomplices or accessories with the public officers or employees, including those employed in government-owned or controlled corporations, they shall be tried jointly with said public officers and employees in the proper courts which shall exercise exclusive jurisdiction over them.
“Any provisions of law or Rules of Court to the contrary notwithstanding, the criminal action and the corresponding civil action for the recovery of civil liability shall at all times be simultaneously instituted with, and jointly determined in, the same proceeding by the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate courts, the filing of the criminal action being deemed to necessarily carry with it the filing of the civil action, and no right to reserve the filing of such civil action separately from the criminal action shall be recognized: Provided, however, That where the civil action had heretofore been filed separately but judgment therein has not yet been rendered, and the criminal case is hereafter filed with the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate court, said civil action shall be transferred to the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate court, as the case may be, for consolidation and joint determination with the criminal action, otherwise the separate civil action shall be deemed abandoned.”
SEC. 3. Section 5 of the same decree is hereby amended to read as follows:
“SEC. 5. Proceedings, How Conducted; Decision by Majority Vote. – All three (3) members of a division shall deliberate on all matters submitted for judgment, decision, final order, or resolution.
“The concurrence of a majority of the members of a division shall be necessary to render a judgment, decision, or final order, or to resolve interlocutory or incidental motions.”
SEC. 4. Funding and Appropriations. – The amount necessary to carry out the implementation of this Act shall be charged against the current appropriations of the Sandiganbayan. Thereafter, such sums as may be needed for its full implementation shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.
SEC. 5. Transitory Provision. – This Act shall apply to all cases pending in the Sandiganbayan over which trial has not begun: Provided, That: (a) Section 2, amending Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 1606, as amended, on “Jurisdiction”; and (b) Section 3, amending Section 5 of Presidential Decree No. 1606, as amended, on “Proceedings, How Conducted; Decision by Majority Vote” shall apply to cases arising from offenses committed after the effectivity of this Act.
SEC. 6. Separability Clause. – Should any provision of this Act or part hereof be declared unconstitutional, the other provisions or parts not affected thereby shall remain valid and effective.
SEC. 7. Repealing Clause. – All laws, decrees, orders, and issuances, or portions thereof, which are inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, are hereby repealed, amended or modified accordingly.
SEC. 8. Effectivity. – This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in two (2) newspapers of general circulation.
Speaker of the House
of Representatives
President of the Senate
This Act which is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 2138 and House Bill No. 5283 was finally passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives on February 25, 2015.
Secretary General
House of Representatives
Secretary of the Senate
Approved: APR 16 2015
President of the Philippines