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: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/687232/congress-to-abolish-twisted-doctrine-if-sc-wont#ixzz3Y63blScY 

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


Thursday, April 16, 2015

The constitutional basis for local government taxation (revised text)

The right of local government units to collect taxes due must always be upheld to avoid severe tax erosion. This is consistent with the State policy to guarantee the autonomy of local governments and the objective of the Local Government Code “that they enjoy genuine and meaningful local autonomy to empower them to achieve their fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them effective partners in the attainment of national goals.”[1] The power to tax, said the Supreme Court, “is the most potent instrument to raise the needed revenues to finance and support myriad activities of the local government units for the delivery of basic services essential to the promotion of the general welfare and the enhancement of peace, progress, and prosperity of the people.”[2] As the Court explained in another case:
…Local government units were faced with the same problems that hamper their capabilities to participate effectively in the national development efforts, among which are: (a) inadequate tax base, (b) lack of fiscal control over external sources of income, (c) limited authority to prioritize and approve development projects, (d) heavy dependence on external sources of income, and (e) limited supervisory control over personnel of national line agencies.
Considered as the most revolutionary piece of legislation on local autonomy, the LGC effectively deals with the fiscal constraints faced by LGUs. It widens the tax base of LGUs to include taxes which were prohibited by previous laws such as the imposition of taxes on forest products, forest concessionaires, mineral products, mining operations, and the like. The LGC likewise provides enough flexibility to impose tax rates in accordance with their needs and capabilities. It does not prescribe graduated fixed rates but merely specifies the minimum and maximum tax rates and leaves the determination of the actual rates to the respective sanggunian.[3]
In Manila Electric Co. v. Province of Laguna,[4] the Supreme Court explained that the objective of the Constitution is to ensure that, while the local government units are being strengthened and made more autonomous, the legislature must still see to it that
  1. The taxpayer will not be over-burdened or saddled with multiple and unreasonable impositions;
  2. each local government unit will have its fair share of available resources;
  3. the resources of the national government will not be unduly disturbed; and 
  4. local taxation will be fair, uniform, and just.[5]

[1] NAPOCOR v. Central Board of Assessment Appeals, G.R. No. 171470, January 30, 2009.
[2] NAPOCOR v. Central Board of Assessment Appeals, G.R. No. 171470, January 30, 2009.
[3] National Power Corporation v. City of Cabanatuan, G.R. No. 149110, April 09, 2003.
[4] Manila Electric Co. v. Province of Laguna, G.R. No. 131359, May 05, 1999.
[5] Manila Electric Co. v. Province of Laguna, G.R. No. 131359, May 05, 1999.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


8 in 10 ARE MEN | In PH local politics, men dominate women

From towns to provinces, men dominate in local governance, data culled from the results of the 2013 elections show.

Of the 1,622 mayors who won in last year’s polls, 80 percent (1,297) of them are male, while only 20 percent (325) are female.

Nationwide, there are five provinces whose mayors are all male. These are Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Batanes province in Region II, and Guimaras in Region VI (Western Visayas).

There are 21 provinces in the country whose mayors are 85 to 95 percent male.

These are Kalinga and Benguet in CAR; Bulacan and Tarlac in Region III; Batangas and Rizal in Region IV-A; Oriental Mindoro and Romblon in Region IV-B; Antique, Capiz, Iloilo and Negros Occidental in Region VI. Cebu and Negros Oriental in Region VII; Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental in Region X; and Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Sarangani, and South Cotabato in Region XI.

The high gender inequality in local governance at the municipal level is the same with that at the provincial level.

Of the country’s 80 governors, only 15 are women.

Two of the female governors are in Region IV-A. Also, Regions V and XIII each have two female governors, while the following regions have one female governor each – I (Ilocos Region), II (Cagayan Valley), III (Central Luzon), IV-B (Mimaropa), VIII (Eastern Visasyas), X (Nothern Mindanao), XI (Southern Mindanao), XII (Central Mindanao), and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Read more: http://www.interaksyon.com/statsofthenation/gender-of-governors-and-mayors

Aguinaldo doctrine on the way out?

The oral arguments also started discussion on an argument raised by the camp of Binay, condonation by re-election, a policy upheld by the Supreme Court.
Citing Aguinaldo vs Santos, the camp of Mayor Binay argued that "a public official cannot be removed for administrative misconduct committed during a prior term since his re-election to office operates as a condonation of the officers' previous misconduct to the extent of cutting the right to remove him therefor."
It's a policy that Sereno categorically opposed during the oral arguments, saying it sends the wrong message to government officials.
Sereno said: "It is important that this court deliver the correct message to 430,000 officials, which brings me to the equal protection issue here. We're basically saying that these 430,000 officials can commit administrative offenses ranging from simple misconduct all the way to serious misconduct, and dishonesty. They just have to ensure that they get re-elected and any preventive suspension or any investigation or an administrative finding by the Ombudsman will have to stop. Is that the message that is going to be delivered if we continue with the condonation doctrine?"
Encouraged, acting Solicitor-General Florin Hilbay said it's time the High Court changes the ruling. "We have pending petitions before this honorable court urging the court to revisit the condonation policy of this honorable court. The studies are all there," Hilbay said.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Social Justice Society v. Lim, Motion for Reconsideration

Motion for reconsideration denied in the case of Social Justice Society v. Lim, G.R. No. 187836 on March 10, 2015.