Thursday, November 30, 2006

Krispy Kreme opens in Manila

Krispy Kreme, one of the hottest selling doough nuts in the United States opened its first ever branch in the Philippines today at the Fort area in Taguig today.
Krispy Kreme's entry was welcomed warmly by Metro Manila customers as thousands lined up in order to be among the first to taste the different varieties of Krispy Kreme products.
I first got to taste Krispy Kreme in Los Angeles years ago, when it was also a hot item at that time.
The Krispy Kreme store in L.A. designed their store in a way that customers see the process of cooking the dough nuts.
I haven't been to the local Krispy Kreme here but I expect the set up to be the same.
It was a high profile opening, appearing in various media like television news and newspapers.
I first heard of the opening through flyers distributed in offices in Makati, in full crisp color.
I do not know when we will be able to visit Krispy Kreme at the Fort, but we will wait until the euphoria subsides.
I remember their dough nuts to be laced with powdery sugar, and it comes in different flavors.
Krispy Kreme also adopted a unique advertising strategy, which is mainly by word of mouth.
And the endorements were a mouthful.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Our Dumaguete Law Office inaugurated

Last November 23, 2006, our spanking new law office was inaugurated in simple rites in Dumaguete City.
My law partners are Richard Ricky Chiu and Mihail Mik Maxino.
Ricky topped the bar in 1986. While Mik is an eleventh placer in the bar.
The law office is located at the penthouse of Plaza Maria Luisa along V. Locsin Street Dumaguete City.
It is a tiny little office but serves the purposes of entertaining clients, with space for a miniconference and tables for staff and associates.
Present during the inauguration were the parents of the law partners.
It was agreed that mothers of the partners would cut the ribbon.
Unfortunately, my mother was hospitalized that day, so my wife Ruby had to pinch hit.
Guests were present clients and friends and relatives.
We had a simple get together snack after the simple rites.
Pastor Proceso Udarbe, former Silliman University Pastor and Fr. Eking Balongag blessed the law office.
I arrived ten minutes late for the inauguration of my own office.
I was coming from Cebu as I had a hearing in the morning.
I took the Ceres bus to Liloan at 11:30 a.m. It arrived at a little after 2:00 in Liloan.
We had to wait for the fast craft which left Liloan to Sibulan at 3:00 p.m.
I was fetched at the Sibulan wharf and we proceeded to Piapi.
I made a quick bath and immediately proceeded to the inauguration.

Guns in court

I was in Cebu this morning to attend a hearing of one of the cases I am handling there.
What otherwise was another ordinary, boring court session for me turned colorful and interesting when one case called to testify a police officer who confiscated hot guns in Cebu City.
It was a criminal case of illegal possession of firearms.
During the hearing today, so many weapons were presented like Uzi machine gun, 38 caliber revolver, 45 caliber guns, among others.
I was a spectator to the proceedings, as our cases was yet to be called.
It gave me interest because of the variety of guns that were presented in court.
Fellow lawyers who were present were cautious, asking whether the guns were secured, and that there was no danger of the guns indiscriminately firing.
The guns looked rusty already, perhaps due to the long period that it was under custody of the authorities after having been confiscated.

This is not to criticize the presentation of this prosecution evidence, but I really think it was a funny sight to see these guns brought into the court room inside a grocery bag.
I felt it was funny.
I thought it should even have elicited a comment from the defense counsel for from the court.
What is that? Grocery stuff?
There was also no objection on the ground of "no basis".
It was immedately assumed that these were the guns confiscated from the raid.
It was not known to whom the guns were turned over after the confiscation.
It may have already been tainted evidence. These may not be the same guns.
Worse, the policeman witness kept on mumbling as if he wasn't sure of his answer.
Anyway I was enjoying the proceedings, taking a good look at the guns, taking pictures.

Negros Oriental governor is most outstanding

Congratulations to Negros Oriental Governor George Arnaiz for having been awarded as this year's most outstanding governor by the pretigious annual Local Government Leadership Awards (LGLA).
The local government leadarship awards, is a pet project of Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr., himself a former local official as mayor of Cagayan de Oro City in the 1980's.
The LGLA aims to recognize the innovative undertakings of local government officials which make an impact in improving the welfare of their respective constituencies.
Governor Arnaiz, who is now in his third and last term has been finally recognized for his efforts in improving the lives of Oriental Negrenses.
Below is the press statement from the office of Senator Pimentel:


The winners of the 2006 Local Government LeadershipAwards (LGLA) were honored today at the awardingceremonies held at the Senate building in Pasay City.
The principal winners are Negros Oriental Governor George P. Arnaiz, most outstanding provincialgovernor; Surigao City Mayor Alfonso Casurra, mostoutstanding city mayor; and Mayor Jupiter C. Dominguezof Sabangan, Mountain Province, most outstandingmunicipal mayor.
Senate President Manuel Villar, Jr. and Sen. AquilinoQ. Pimentel, Jr. the moving force behind the LGLA,conferred the awards on the winners during simplerites held at the Sen. Ambrosio Padilla Room.
Gov. Arnaiz was chosen most outstanding governor forspearheading the Negros Island Sustainable Agricultureand Rural Development Program, a joint undertaking ofNegros Oriental and Negros Occidental. He madepossible the construction of facilities needed for theeconomic and social advancement of the province likethe Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center, thethree-storey provincial hospital administrationbuilding, the Perdices Memorial Coliseum Complex andthe 1,000-seater provincial convention center.
Mayor Casurra emerged as most outstanding city mayorin recognition of his efforts in making Surigao Citythe most competitive city in the country under theSmall Cities Category in terms of cost of doingbusiness. The peaceful co-existence among thedifferent peoples and the close collaboration with thepolice and community has catapulted Surigao City into the one of the Rotary International’s 50 Peace Citiesin the world since 2003.
Mayor Jupiter Dominguez won as most outstandingmunicipal mayor because of his inspiring leadership byinstilling the people of Sabangan town with the spiritof hard work, dedication and commitment to excelamidst trials while preserving the unique indigenousculture and practices.
Also awarded were Outstanding Local Chief Executivesin various categories:
Outstanding governors: Gov. Erico Aumentado of Boholand Gov. Vicente Bermejo of Capiz.Outstanding City Mayors: Mayor Santiago Barcelona ofEscalante City and Mayor Florencio Bernabe ofParaƱaque City.Outstanding Municipal Mayors: Ronald Allan Cesante,Dalaguete Cebu; Maximo Estela, Sto. Tomas, Davao delNorte; Jeorge (E.R.) Ejercito Estregan, Pagsanjan,Laguna; Luis Ferrer, General Trias, Cavite; AlfonsoGamboa, Enrique Magalona, Negros Occidental.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Die hard Morales fan writes

So much has been written about the sensational November 18 2006 "Grand Finale" between Filipino Manny Pacquiao and Mexican Erik Morales.
Many of the articles about the epic battle have flowed out on the internet ("internets" according to a war-freak leader).
But the one that tops is that written by an emotionally struck die-hard Erik Morales fan named James MacDonald posted at saddoboxing. The title aptly describes it: The End of an Era.
This one's a good read.

Pacquiao writes off Morales

It was an epic battle that spelled the end of an era.
Manny Pacuiqao in a fashion as quick as his fists clobbered Mexican legend Erik "El Terrible" Morales before the end of three rounds.
Pacquiao a southpaw, this time introduced his killer right hook in this fight, which rendered Morales shocked everytime it landed on his face.
Manny Pacquiao moved in and out of Morales, preventing the Mexican champ from unleashing right-arm arsenal.
It was a highly improved Pacquiao in this third fight, with so many new movements that complemented his speed and punching power.
We watched the live in National Sports Grill at the Greenbelt III.
The rowdy Filipino crowd was estatic at each time Manny Pacquiao landed a solid punch to the opponent.
With his vicotry Manny Pacquiao is now both a fierce and feared fighter that will scare the hell of those Mexican pugs.
Morales was right. Pacquiao was just too strong and too fast for him.
I am watching the replay ofthe fight as I am writing this and I just saw Morales pummelled backwards and down to the canvass on his third and final knockdown.
It was a trilogy of a knockdowns.
Morales was knocked down thrice, from clear killer punches from Pacquiao, enough to make Morales shake his head and signal "no more" before millions of viewers around the world.
Congulations Manny Pacquiao!


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Gertz v Welch

Gertz vs. Robert Welch, Inc.
418 U.S. 323
November 25, 1974


In 1968 a Chicago policeman named Nuccio shot and killed a youth named Nelson. The state authorities prosecuted the policeman Nuccio for the homicide and ultimately obtained a conviction for murder in the second degree. The Nelson family retained petitioner Elmer Gertz, a reputable attorney (Gertz argued against the death penalty for Jack Ruby, the killer of JFK assasin Lee Harvey Oswald), to represent them in civil litigation against Nuccio.
Respondent Robert Welch, Inc. (named after Robert Welch) publishes American Opinion (the magazine has been merged and is now known as The New American), a monthly outlet for the views of the John Birch Society. Early in the 1960's the magazine began to warn of a nationwide conspiracy to discredit local law enforcement agencies and create in their stead a national police force capable of supporting a Communist dictatorship.
In March 1969 respondent published the resulting article under the title "FRAME-UP: Richard Nuccio And The War On Police." The article purports to demonstrate that the testimony against Nuccio at his criminal trial was false and that his prosecution was part of the Communist campaign against the police.
In his capacity as counsel for the Nelson family in the civil litigation, petitioner attended the coroner's inquest into the boy's death and initiated actions for damages, but he neither discussed Officer Nuccio with the press nor played any part in the criminal proceeding. Notwithstanding petitioner's remote connection with the prosecution of Nuccio, respondent's magazine portrayed him as an architect of the "frame-up." According to the article, the police file on petitioner took "a big, Irish cop to lift." The article stated that petitioner had been an official of the "Marxist League for Industrial Democracy, originally known as the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, which has advocated the violent seizure of our government." It labeled Gertz a "Leninist" and a "Communist-fronter." It also stated that Gertz had been an officer of the National Lawyers Guild, described as a Communist organization that "probably did more than any other outfit to plan the Communist attack on the Chicago police during the 1968 Democratic Convention."
These statements contained serious inaccuracies.
The implication that petitioner had a criminal record was false. Petitioner had been a member and officer of the National Lawyers Guild some 15 years earlier, but there was no evidence that he or that organization had taken any part in planning the 1968 demonstrations in Chicago. There was also no basis for the charge that petitioner was a "Leninist" or a "Communist-fronter." And he had never been a member of the "Marxist League for Industrial Democracy" or the "Intercollegiate Socialist Society."
The article in the magazine alleged that Nuccio's murder trial was part of a Communist conspiracy to discredit the local police, and it falsely stated that petitioner had arranged Nuccio's "frame-up," implied that petitioner had a criminal record, and labeled him a "Communist-fronter."
Petitioner filed a diversity action for libel agasint respondent in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He claimed that the falsehoods published by respondent injured his reputation as a lawyer and a citizen. After the jury returned a verdict for petitioner, the District Court decided that the standard enunciated in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, which bars media liability for defamation of a public official absent proof that the defamatory statements were published with knowledge of their falsity or in reckless disregard of the truth, should apply to this suit. The court concluded that that standard protects media discussion of a public issue without regard to whether the person defamed is a public official as in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, supra, or a public figure, as in Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts, 388 U.S. 130. The court found that petitioner had failed to prove knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth and therefore entered judgment n. o. v. for respondent. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Held:


Whether or not a publisher or broadcasater of defamatory falsehoods can claim the actual malice protection in defamation suits involving private individuals.

What is a private individual?


1. A publisher or broadcaster of defamatory falsehoods about an individual who is neither a public official nor a public figure may not claim the New York Times protection against liability for defamation on the ground that the defamatory statements concern an issue of public or general interest.

. The extension of the New York Times test proposed by the Rosenbloom plurality would abridge this legitimate state interest to a degree that we find unacceptable.

(a) Because private individuals characteristically have less effective opportunities for rebuttal than do public officials and public figures, they are more vulnerable to injury from defamation. Because they have not voluntarily exposed themselves to increased risk of injury from defamatory falsehoods, they are also more deserving of recovery. The state interest in compensating injury to the reputation of private individuals is therefore greater than for public officials and public figures.
(b) To extend the New York Times standard to media defamation of private persons whenever an issue of general or public interest is involved would abridge to an unacceptable degree the legitimate state interest in compensating private individuals for injury to reputation and would occasion the additional difficulty of forcing courts to decide on an ad hoc basis which publications and broadcasts address issues of general or public interest and which do not.
(c) So long as they do not impose liability without fault, the States may define for themselves the appropriate standard of liability for a publisher or broadcaster of defamatory falsehood which injures a private individual and whose substance makes substantial danger to reputation apparent.
2. The States, however, may not permit recovery of presumed or punitive damages when liability is not based on knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth, and the private defamation plaintiff who establishes liability under a less demanding standard than the New York Times test may recover compensation only for actual injury. Pp. 348-350.
3. Petitioner was neither a public official nor a public figure. Pp. 351-352.
(a) Neither petitioner's past service on certain city committees nor his appearance as an attorney at the coroner's inquest into the death of the murder victim made him a public official.
(b) Petitioner was also not a public figure. Absent clear evidence of general fame or notoriety in the community and pervasive involvement in ordering the affairs of society, an individual should not be deemed a public figure for all aspects of his life. Rather, the public-figure question should be determined by reference to the individual's participation in the particular controversy giving rise to the defamation. Petitioner's role in the Nuccio affair did not make him a public figure.

Our accommodation of the competing values at stake in defamation suits by private individuals allows the States to impose liability on the publisher or broadcaster of defamatory falsehood on a less demanding showing than that required by New York Times. We endorse this approach in recognition of the strong and legitimate state interest in compensating private individuals for injury to reputation

A different standard in Gertz v Welch

There was a new twist in the series of rulings handed down by the United States Supreme Court since the promulgation of New York Times Co. v. L.B. Sullivan ruling in 1964.
In the chronology of decisions, the prevailing doctrine then was the rule in Rosenbloom v. Metromedia Inc. which laid down what I would describe as the "public interest" test.
In Rosembloom the United States Supreme Court ruled that the actual malice standard applies if the publication that contained defamatory falsehoods was one of public interest.
Here the "status-of-the-plaintiff" standard was sent to the back burner.
Remember, in Rosembloom v Metromedia Inc. the Supreme Court said: "If a matter is a subject of public or general interest, it cannot suddenly become less so merely because a private individual is involved, or because in some sense the individual did not "voluntarily" choose to become involved".
The Supreme Court iin Rosembloom continued: "Whether the person involved is a famous large-scale magazine distributor or a "private" businessman running a corner newsstand has no relevance in ascertaining whether the public has an interest in the issue. We honor the commitment to robust debate on public issues, which is embodied in the First Amendment, by extending constitutional protection to all discussion and communication involving matters of public or general concern, without regard to whether the persons involved are famous or anonymous."
This ruling did not sit well with many quarters, including the Supreme Court.
That is why the ruling in Gertz v Welch (1974) becomes very significant. It laid down a different standard in deciding defamation cases when the case involves private individuals (those who are not public officials nor public figures)
In short, the Gertz ruling, the Supreme Court required a less demanding standard for plaintiffs who are private indivudals, in order to vindicate injury to reputation resulting from defamatory falsehoods.
I think it is fair to say that the Gertz ruling discarded the ever-expansive standard in Rosembloom v Metromedia Inc.
The Gertz v. Welch ruling is signifcant to Philippine law, because it allows a comparison as to how Philippine jurisprudence has dealt with defamation cases.
The Gertz decision also is quite instructive because it provides a graphic description of who a private individual is (in contrast to a public figure), in defamation cases.
Does Philippine jurisprudence follow the discarded Rosembloom (public interest) doctrine? Or does Philippine jurisprudence follow the Gertz standard?
This will be answer when we start comparing Philippine defamation cases with their American counterparts.
I will be posting my digest of the 1974 Elmer Gertz v. Robert Welch ruling subsequent to this.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

More "live" feeds of Pacquiao-Morales brawl

I am delighted to learn that more establishemnts, not just the movie houses, are offering live telecasts of the Pacquiao-Morales bout on Sunday November 18, 2006.
I have never seen a Pacquiao fight live. It had always been on delayed telecast on Skycable.
Then the movie houses offered to show live sattelite feeds of the Pacquiao bouts at exhorbitant fees. Nonetheless, the tickets sold like hotcakes.
But in this third Pacuiqao-Morales fight in Las Vegas, restaurants and food outfits will also be setting up big screens and will show "live" the fight to their customers.
This is a welcome development for me. This time I will be watching the fight "live".
Movie houses charge from P500 to P700 for a seat to the "live" bout.
The restaurants, like national sp;orts Grill and Fish Company are now joining the "live" feeds, also for a fee.
They are offering between P400 per head, P200 worth of which is "consumable".
It's a better deal, since you eat and drink while watching the fight.
Trouble is, its on a first-come-first-serve basis so we will have to be early so we can choose the best seats or tables.
Menwhile, in Manila, the Pacquiao-Morales fight will be shown for free to Manilenos. The local government there has apparently sponsored this activity so the common can also watch the fight live.
Anyway, while the entire nation will be on a virtual standstill on Sunday morning, business will be brisk as ever. That's courtesy of Manny Pacquiao who has opened a new window for business opportunities to a lot of establishments.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Accused journalist posts bail

My heart sank this morning seeing a visibly nervous journalist posting bail for her temporary liberty at the Manila Regional Trial Court.
The journalist is one of those accused of libel, a criminal offense, by First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.
I was running late for my hearing at the old ombudsman building near the Manila City hall this morning.
I parked at the SM mall nearby.
While on my way I met Jason, my law school classmate, who apparently did not know where he was headed.
I took time to greet him, and asked him where he was headed.
He asked where the ombudsman building is.
I told him that was where I was headed, so he tagged along.
I asked him what his hearing was.
He said he will accompany his client who was to post bail.
Upon arrival at the building, we split as I was already late for my own hearing.
After my hearing I noticed a number of media persons loitering at the second floor.
The nosy journalist in me asked one of them what the story was.
One of them, a reporter of ABS CBN, said that a reporter Mia (or was it Mimi) Gonzales of the Daily Mirror was arriving to post bail.
I got curious and stuck around.
Later emerged Jason, my classmate and his client, the Daily Mirror reporter.
A group of reporters were close behind them.
The reporter was visibly nervous. It was apparently her first time as an accused.
I told my self, these libel cases filed against journalists are getting ridiculous.
The reporter was most likely just doing her job.
She was accused of a criminal offense, and had to under go a criminal process, just like any one else accused of any crime.
Journalism is perhaps one of the very few professions were one can be accused of a crime for merely doing one's job.
But as they say, its part of the territory.
It is really time to undertake a re-thinking of our penal libel laws in orer to accord explicit protection to member sof the working press.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mute bill

What irritated me today was having taken possession of a five hundred peso bill that was partly torn on the lower right portion.
I took hold of the P500 bill from an ATM machine.
When I tried to negotiate the bill, nobody wanted to receive it.
Some bank tellers describe this bill as "mute" bills, meaning mutilated bills.
It is perfectly negotiable, but others wouldn't want to receive it as legal tender.
This gave me a lot of hassle as I didn't notice it when it was spewed out of the ATM machine.
The solution, according to people, is for me to exchange it with any bank.
Imagine, I would have to go to a bank to have it changed.
When I inquired with a bank, they said the mute bill was perfectly negotiable.
They said as long as the bill's serial numbers are intact, it can be negoaited as legal tender.
The serial number is that found on the left portion (V925160).

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Extrajudicial killings

Extrajudicial killings are not uncommon in the Philippines.
In Dumaguete City, they have gone unabated. The authorities there are helpless.
Let me link here another incident of extrajudicial killing.
Remember the infamous shootout/rubout in Ortigas last year (November 6 2005) involving the Traffic Management Group and some young scions of Valleverde who were tagged as carjackers?
It's been a year and the recommendations of the Commission on Human Rights for the filing of murder charges against the TMD personnel are still at the Ombudsman's files.
If you want to see the video of the incident that was recorded by the UNTV, go to this link:
See the hair-raising manner policemen conduct their operations in the Philippines.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Lost Horizon

While on our way to Balicasag in Panglao island, we found a place at the tip of Panglao island.
The place was called "The Lost Horizon," a cozy hotel by the beach at Alona.
It has a restaurant that serves italian food like spaghetti and pizza.
We had lunch and we discovered the other dishes they offered were delicious, like the kinilaw.
The Lost Horizon Hotel can be found at the place that serves as a jump off point for Balicasag.
That is why the beach is filled with motor bancas for rent, ready to take passengers to Balicasag island for a price of P1,600 return.
The Lost Horizon offers afforable accomodations.

There are rooms that are a bit expensive but, a group can avail of rooms as low as P1,600 par day.
This is good for group transients because the of the common toilet and showers.
But the private de luxe rooms can also go as high as P2,500 per night.
There is also a mini-bar where different kinds of drinks are available.
The rooms are with hot and cold shower, Dream cable t.v. It is a WiFi zone, serves western and asian cuisine.
There is a massage area. The massage bed directly faces the beach. While being massaged, one can enjoy the cool whispering breeze.
The area is frequented by foreigners who visit the place to dive, either scuba or snorkeling.
There are dive shops nearby, where all diving gears are available for rent.
It is easy to come to this place. From the airport there are different modes of transport i.e. tricycle, rent-a-vans, and taxis.
I asked a tricycle driver about the rates and he said that from the airport to the Lost horizon, the charge is P250.
Taxi fare, of course is more expensive.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

DZRJ on a roll

Honestly, I was pleseantly surprised to learn that DZJR-FM 100.3, the flagship station of Rajah Broadcasating Network Inc. landed in the top five most listened-to FM stations in Metro Manila for 2006.
More surprisingly, it was the top adult contemporary FM station, as the other FM stations in the top five were more of mass-based FM stations, beating each other out for a slice of the "masa" listeners ("Jolog stations" as one RJ executive described).
RJ caters to the baby boomers, the older generation of FM music listeners, mainly the decision-makers.
It's current tag is "the greatest and the latest", but in reality their playlist focuses on the "oldest" songs.
I am fond of oldies so I am an avid RJ100 fan, just like my friend John Lee.
John Lee lives in a remote town in Zamboangga del Norte called Liloy and there is no internet connectivity there.
I urged him to purchase a laptop and get SMART We roam so he can tune to his favorite station DZRJ.
He obliged, and he never regretted the P50,000 investment, just to be able to hook up with RJ100.
RJ100 I notice has boosted its improved music program and has been aggressive in markerting and promoting its station and selling media air space.
I thought before, DZRJ was too much of rock and roll, perhaps taking cue from its captain of the airwaves RJ Jacinto, who is one of the country's foremost band players.
By the way, RJ Jacinto and his radio will always be part of Philippine history as it was his AM station that remained on the air at the height of the 1986 people power revolution at EDSA, which became the mouthpiece of the unstoppable anti-Marcos civilian and "rebel" forces who flocked at EDSA on that fatefull days of February 1986.
I don't know much about RJ Jacinto having met him only once in a radio booth in the province when he ran for senator. But I see him as the human definition of "passion". He has passion for broadcast.
Goiong back to radyo bandido, the Marcos soldiers couldn't locate RJ's station because it changed the frequency it operated on, thus, nobody in the government or military then can identify or locate the renegade station.
It was June Kiethley who anchored this rebel station calling it self "Radyo Bandido" dishing out information helpful to the rebels and the people at EDSA who were hungry for information at that time.
Anyway, DZRJ-AM is still on the air taking on much lesser politics, but always ready for the next political upheaval.
I met and discussed some radio matters with one of DZRJ's executives Bong Banez.
I was just controlling myself and stopped short of telling him how much I missed radio.
I hope and pray something will come out that would give a dose of relief to this longing for "radio activity".

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Spouse consent required to sale of conjugal property

Is the written consent of one spouse required to dispose or encumber conjugal/common property?

There should be no dispute that either spouse cannot alienate or dispose of conjugal property without the written consent of the other.
The codal reference to this is the second paragraph of Article 96 and 124 of the Family Code which states:
“In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to participate in the administration of the common properties, the other spouse my assume the sole powers of administration. These powers however do not include the powers of disposition or encumbrance without the authority of the court or the written consent of the other spouse. In the absence of such authority or consent, the disposition or encumbrance shall be void.”
The Supreme Court has ruled that the authority of the court allowing one spouse to dispose or encumber any common property may be sought only if the other spouse is incapacitated.
The Supreme Court in Thelma a. Jader-Manalo vs. Norma Fernandez C. Camaisa and Edilberto Camaisa [G.R. No. 147978. January 23, 2002] referred to the comment of civil law expert Arturo Tolentino who in his book said that "As a result of this joint ownership, neither spouse may alienate or encumber any common property without the written consent of the other, or, if the other spouse is incapacitated, authorization of the court."
If the other spouse is not incapacitated, his or her written consent to the disposition or encumbrance is indispensable, subject of course to certain exceptions.
Are there instances where the disposal by one spouse of conjugal property without the written consent of the other may be valid?
In Estela Costuna versus Laureana Domondon, [G.R. 82753 December 19, 1989], the Supreme Court allowed the husband to sell his ½ share of the conjugal property even without the consent of the wife because the wife unjustifiably withheld her consent to the sale.
This case tells us that one spouse cannot even sell his own ½ share without the consent of the other spouse, save only when the refusal to consent was unjustifiable.
In this case, the wife refused to give her consent to the sale of conjugal land even if the proceeds of the sale were to be used for the sick husband’s hospital expenses.
The Court said the wife was greedy because previously, the husband had executed a will naming her as the sole heir.
Naturally, the wife greedily refused to consent to the sale because she wanted the whole conjugal property intact to herself.

Properties exclusive to each spouse only

Are there things that are excluded from the absolute community property of the spouses?
There are a few things though that are excluded by law from the absolute community. This means that each spouse owns it, to the exclusion of the other. The list is enumerated in Article 92.
The first is that property acquired during the marriage by gratuitous title by either spouse (by donation, testament, by grant).
The fruits and income of these kind of property are likewise exclusive to the recipient spouse, unless the donor, testator or grantor says that such fruits or income should go to the community property.
The second type of property that will not go to the community are those for the personal and exclusive use of either spouse. For example, panties, bra, make up . These are for personal use, hence exclusive.
What if the wife has a panty that is embroidered all over with expensive diamonds? Can the wife say it has hers only because it is for her personal use?
The answer is no. The law says “however jewelry shall form part of the community property.” She can have the panty, but the jewelry shall be owned jointly.
The third exclusive property are those property acquired before marriage by either spouse who has legitimate descendants by a former marriage, and the fruits and income of such property.
Please take note, it must be LEGITIMATE (not illegitimate) descendants.

Legal Query: "in the name of one spouse only"

I received a legal query from a disturbed wife. In a nutshell, this is her question:
Husband and wife bought a land. In the deed of sale the vendee’s name was that only of the husband and not the wife. In the absence of any ante nuptial agreement, is the land owned by the husband only, or both the husband and wife?
The land purchased is owned by both the husband and the wife.
According to Article 75 of the Family Code, In the absence of marriage settlement, the system of absolute community property shall govern.
Article 88 of the Family Code says that the absolute community property between spouses commence at the precise moment that the marriage is celebrated. So if the spouses were married on December 20, 1998, then the absolute community property commenced at that time.
According to Article 91, the community property shall consist of all the property owned by the spouses at the time of the celebration of marriage or acquired thereafter.
That is why it is called “absolute community”. Everything brought to the marriage, and those acquired later during the marriage belongs to the both the spouses.
So if the land is bought during the marriage in an absolute community regime, even if it is in the name of one spouse only (commonly the ownership of title is described “X married to Y”), the property belongs to both.
So the wife should not worry that the title is in the name of the husband. Even if this property was acquired by the husband before they were married (unless the husband has legitimate children from a previous marriage), at the precise moment of celebration of marriage, the property is owned by both of them.
That is the law.
Also the law expressly states in Article 93 that Property acquired during the marriage is presumed to belong to the community, unless it is proved that it is one of those excluded therefrom.
Thus, as long as a property is acquired DURING THE MARRIAGE, it is presumed to be jointly owned by both spouses.
As a matter of fact Article 116 of the Family Code is more emphatic: All property acquired during the marriage, whether the acquisition appears to have been made, contracted or registered in the name of one or both spouses, is presumed to be conjugal unless the contrary is proved.
Article 116 is explained by the Supreme Court in Procopio Villanueva versus Court of Appeals G.R. No. 143286. April 14, 2004.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Jobless lawyers

Yesterday I met sposues Cathy and Bong, both lawyers.
It's been a while since I last saw the two.
I asked him about his government job. To my knoweldge he was an assistant secretary of a top governemnt agency.
I left, he said. I have been jobless since October, he added.
Bong volunteered: And so is my wife, she's gonna be jobless too.
I asked, "Why is that?"
Her boss, the Secretary of Naitonal Defense, Nonong Cruz just tendered his irrevocable resignation that day.
Cathy is also an assistant secretary of the DND.
Like her boss, she will stay on until the end of November.
Both are connected with "The Firm". I recall they were associates of the law firm after graduation.
When "The Firm's" political clout expanded when Gloria Arroyo ascended to power, many of the firm's lawyers invaded government.
Even during the early days of the Arroyo presidency, I was in the Executive House where the Executive Secretary held office. I saw familiar faces, lawyers of "The Firm" literally walking the corridors of power.
My law school classmate John was assistant to one of "The Firm's" partners who was appointed to a top government post.
When his boss resigned, John also left.
Indeed in politics, nothing's permanent.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Alternative to Lex Libris?

Apparently there is an alternative, or better yet, a competitor to Lex Libris of CD Asia.
CD Asia Inc. is the reigning supplier of a comprehensive collection of Phlippine laws in compact discs.
Via subscription, CD Asia supplies Philippine case law (jurisprudence), statutes, ande other important legal documents.
These CD Asia items do not come cheap, a complkete subscrption could cost between P60,000 to P100,000, depending on the types of discs subscribed.
Its quite expensive.
Now here comes "e-library" in what appears to give CD Asia a run for its money.
During a legal seminar I was attending, brochures were distributed.
Essentially it provides a complete supply of Philippine case law, and statutes for a shocking price of only P3,000 each disc. If you buy the two, meaning jurisprudence and statutes, one can get a discount of P1,500, so the cost would only be P4,500.
The only problem with the distributors was that they were not ready for a demonstration.
With these kind of products, a demonstration is indispensable so customers will know its features and capabilities.
They promised to give a demo.
If this comes via subscription also, then it is a much cheaper alternative to Lex Libris.

Harvesting Lanzones

The last quarter of every year is usually the seaon for Lanzones.
I visited my in-laws in Valencia where I was shown fully grown Lanzones bearing fruits for the first time.
It was also my first time to see how Lanzones grows and bear fruits.
In our excitement, we joined in harvesting Lanzones right in their backyard.
I didn't realize that just one Lanzones tree can bear so many fruits.
Lanzones trees don't grow tall, perhaps just about fifteen feet high.
The fruits are in groups. To harvest them would entail the use of a branch cutter and a ladder.
It was quite an experience harvesting fresh Lanzones right from the trees and eating them right away.
Lanzones thrive in the town of Valencia, Negros Oriental.
It would not be long when Valencia will be known as the land of Lanzones, to rival Camiguin.
Almost every home in Valencia, has Lanzones in their backyards.
Quite surprisingly this year though, only about ten percent of all Lanzones in the town bore fruits.
Residents attirbute this to change in climate conditions.
Fortunately for my in-laws, their Lanzones bore fruit for the first time.
Lanzones are being exported to nearby cities, and in the near future, it will be exported to bigger cities like Cebu and Manila. There are just too many Lanzaones trees grown in Valencia.
I learned that there are a number of varieties of Lanzones.
There is the Duko variety which tastes sweet. Noticeably, the edible part of the fruit sticks together when peeled.
There are other varieties like the seedless ones.
Hectares and hectares of land are being planted with Lanzones in Valencia.
It was part of a campaign by the local government upon realizing that the soil there is good for growing Lanzones, Rambutan and even Durian.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Best halo halo in town

If you ask me or any member of my family---specially my kid Josh---which makes the best halo halo, the answer would be Razon's halo-halo of Guagua.
Guagua is one of towns of Pampanga province, th home province of the current president. Guagua made headlines over a decade ago when Mount Pinatubo erupted. Guagua was one of the towns severely affected by Mount Pinatubo's wrath.
Razon's halo-halo is homemade type of halo halo, with delicious ingredients. The only ingredients I can identify is the banana. It is capped with leche flan, a sugar-milk-egg combination that is sprawled at the mouth of the elongated container atop the heap of crushed ice.
Nothing beats the Razon's halo-halo.
While it originated in Pampanga, the name and procduct spread down south to Metro Manila.
Now, Razon's halo-halo has several branches in Metro Manila, the latest of which is the One at Greenbelt One.
Everyone we have invited to taste Razon's halo-halo always had a good review, even those who are not fond of iced refreshments.
The branch we occassionally visit is the Razon's at Market Market at The Fort. Gthere is also one along Jupiter Street Makati City.
An order of halo-halo costs P60. But you may just get another one.

Balicasag Island

Balicasag Island is diver's paradise.
Balicasag is one of the islands of Bohol province, which is an (bigger) island province itself in Central Visays, Philippines.
To go to Balicasag one emanates from the now famous Panglao island, which is noted for its pristine white beaches.
We visited Balicasag for the first time during the brief All Saints' Day holidays.
In going to Balicasag, one travels by plane from Manila to Tagbilaran City, the capital city of Bohol province.
The flight to Tagbilaran is only an hour.
Or one can travel to Tagbalaran City by fast craft from Cebu. Travel time is only about an hour and a half.
Plane fare would amount between P2,000 (US$40) to P4,000 (US$80), depending on when the ticket is purchased.
Fast craft fare is P800 (US$15) return.
Upon arriving at the Tagbilaran airport, there are many modes of land transport in going to Panglao island.
One can take the taxi, the rent-a-van for group tours, or by tricycle.
The latter is the cheapest, costing only P250 (US$5). The taxi could be twice this rate, or more.
From the airport, just tell the driver to take you to Alona beach, where the Lost Horizon Resort is. This is the jump-off point for a boat trip to Balicasag.
The road trip from the airport to Panglao island, alona beach should be around thirty minutes.
Upon arriving at Alona beach, you can already see a parade of motorized boats which you can lease for the trip to Balicasag island.
The boat ride would take forty minutes from Panglao to Balicasag.
The motor boats can be rented for P1,600 (US$32) return.
These motor boats can accomodate about ten passegners per trip so the fare can be divided among the passengers.
Balicasag island is a small piece of corral mass. The entire island can be hiked around in thirty minutes.
The island is small. It does not have its own source of water, eletricity.
But fortunately there is a government-run resort that takes care of lviing amenities while in the island.
The only resort in Balicasag is run by the Philippine Tourism Authority an agency attached with the Department of Tourism.
The PTA runs the resort until private investors bring their resources and take over the tourism affairs there.
The resort offers twenty affordable cottages. At peak time, one has to shcedule ahead in order to secure a room.
The rates are cheap, at P1,800 (US$34) for an overnight's stay. It's not the classy type, but it more than delivers the needs while enjoying the natural resources of the island.
The food is fresh, and affordable.
There is of course a restaurant which allows you to have your dinner even at the beach side, like we did.
There is abundant fresh water in the island brought in by boat from Panglao island, so its not a problem.
Electricity is 24/7 as there is a generator.
Needless, to say, since these resources are not organic in the island, common sense dictates that one should conserve.
The resort has complete amenities for scuba diving and snorkeling.
Sea water in the island is crystal clear. You can swim 24 hours a day.
In the evening, lights are beamed on to the sea, so everything is visible.
There is also a salt-water infinity pool for those who prefer to dip themselves under the shade.
But the highlight of your Balicasag experience would be diving.
Countless varieties of multi-colored fish are within your reach, you can even feed them with ordinary bread using your bare hands. It is a one-of-a-kind experience. There is a fish-sanctuary in the island. This is an area where fishing is absolutely banned.
The sea is perfect for snorkeling because the water is shallow, and corrals are everywhere.
But just less than a hundred meters from the shoreline, the water suddenly runs deep like a ravine.
This is the area perfect for scuba diving.
If you haven't experienced scuba diving, not to worry, as there are basic lessons for this sport in the resort.
Early in the morning, the water surrounding Balicasag island is swarmed with motor boats.
Dolphin watching is also an attraction for bohol, so many of these boat come from dolphin watching in the waters off Pamilcana island, another land mass like Balicasag.
Many of these visitors come from Panglao and other neighboring islands, and they just want to get to taste that Balicasag diving experience.
The locals in Balicasag are related to each other by consanguinity. There are only around under seven undred families who come from the island.
They have reaped the benefits of limited commercialization, as they are the ones hired as waiters, chefs, hotel personnel.
They have abandoned their source of livelihood which is fishing.
The women now weave sourvenir items which they sell to visitors in the island or export to Panglao island.
Accoridng to the locals, the island's name, Balicasag comes from the word "Balik" (to come back) and "Kasag" (a crab).