Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hi school life

We just finished the weeklong activities on our twentieth year reunion of Silliman high school 1988 in Dumaguete City.
One of the most memorable experieinces of our lives were those that happened in high school.
WE had a hectic schedule for seven days, parties every night and community outreach in the morning.
We attended alumni gatherings in the high school and donated a roofed study corner in the high school.
During our culmination program, we made a slideshow of old photographs of our classmates when we were in high school.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

All set for the reunion?

Everything is all set for the grand twentieth reunion of Silliman High School batch 1988 in Dumaguete City starting tomorrow August 22.
Or so I thought.
Earlier today, my classmate Judge Voltaire Repollo called me to ask the radio station in Dumaguete to announce and appeal to batch members to join the activities.
He said he fears there are still some who haven't gotten wind of the festivities.
I believe though everything is all set.
This evening I had dinner with high school classmate Rito Neil Yee, a successful computer entrepreneur in Los Angeles who checked in for the reunion activities.
I am leaving for Dumaguete on Saturday August 23, as I still have a lot of work to finish.
I have taken charge of the T-shirt souvenirs, and volunteered to video tape the activities. That is my role for the affair.
It's going to be one week from August 22 to the 28th.
There will be a Hawaiian night, sing-along night, beach party, and of course community outreach, and donations to the high school.
I am excited to meet old friends.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Counsel for Senate minority bloc

I have just been designated counsel for Senators belonging to the minority bloc in their attempt to convince the Surpeme Court to allow jailed Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV to perform his duties as a duly elected member of the Senate.
Senate minority leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr. told me I will act as counsel for the minority bloc as they intervene in the pending petition before the Supreme Court filed by Senator Trillanes (SC G.R. 179817).
The intervenors belonging to the minority bloc are Senatos Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr., Benigno S. Aquino III, Rodolfo G. Biazon, Panfilo Lacson, Loren B. Legarda, Jamby Madrigal and Manuel A. Roxas II.
Last August 20, I filed the senators' motion to intervene.
It must be noted that the Supreme Court had already denied Senator Trillanes' bid to be allowed to perform his duties in a decision last June 27, 2008.
A reconsideration is being sought by Trillanes.
The arguement is that the continued denial of Trillanes to perform his senatorial duties infringes on the doctrine of separation of powers.
Also, it is argued disallowing Senator Trillanes to take his seat in the Senate can already been seen as a de facto punishment upon a senator,which constituttional power to punish exclusively rests in the hands of the Senate.The Manila Bulletin and the Philippine Daily Tribune published articles ont his.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A question of timing

The bountiful merits and lofty ideals of the proposal to shift to federalism have been skewed by strong suspicions that this move is really a means to perpetuate political power of overstaying politicians.
However attractive the objectives of federalism are, it is quickly engulfed by a thick cloud of skepticism.
Federalism is widely viewed as the instrument that will dismantle the concentration of power from the central government.
Federalism means people empowerment, in the regions, in the provinces, and in the cities and towns.
However, the shift to a federal form of government would require tinkering of the fundamental law.
Here lies the danger.
Any attempt to change the constitution at this time will largely be likened to a reckless surgery that will not heal a defective organ, but will destroy other well-functioning organs.
One of the basic and fundamental principles in our constitution, which is the imposition of term limits in elective office, is in grave danger of being shattered.
The inherent belief in a democracy is that in the hands of the sovereign literally lie the power to choose those who govern.
Shattering term limits among elective offices goes against this democratic principle.
It is a wicked pathway of maintaining political power.
It must not see the light of day.
We embrace the merits of federalism.
Federalism is a system seen to galvanize peoples’ hopes for a brighter tomorrow
We look forward to seeing it eventually enforced in the future.
But not today.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The 15th year reunion

I belong to batch 1988 of Silliman University High School in Dumaguete City.
Its a rather memorable batch, if you ask the members of the faculty.
Mrs. Eva R. Silorio, during our last reunion said "How can you ever forget batch 1988?"
The governor of the province was once invited as guest speaker in one of our affairs then, and he described the batch as an "unruly" batch.
No, it wasn't because his daughter was a member of that batch.
This year 2008, is our twentieth year. It's going to be a bigger (weeklong) affair.
In 2003, it was our fifteenth year since graduation.
It was a major gathering, with some classmates coming home from the U.S. and Canada.
We have snapshots of that affair.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Notice of hearing

In litigation, a notice of hearing is very important.
In fact it is indespensable.
The rules of court require that for every motion filed by a party, there must be a hearing so that the adverse party can also be heard before the court grants or denies the motion.
First, a motion is anything under the sun that a party asks or requests from the court to give or grant, other than the favorable judgement sought by the party.
For instance, if a party wants to go to the comfort room, he motions the court.
But of course, going to the comfort room is not litiguous or subject to legal debate that one can just orally request this from the court.
The common motions filed in court are motion to cancel hearing, motion to dismiss the case, motion to resolve, or just anything a party requests the court.
The rule is that when a motion is filed by a party, it must be set for hearing where all parties can be present to deliberate, comment on, or oppose the motion.
That is why a notice of hearing to the other parties is something that cannot be dispensed with.
When a party files a motion, at the end of the written motion, he notifies the other parties by writing: "Please be notified that I am setting this motion for hearing on August 1, 2008 at 9:00 a.m. for approval of the court."
A common mistake by some parties is that it directs the clerk of court, not the parties to set the hearing.
Some parties filing a motion write to the clerk: "Please set the hearing of the above motion on August 1, 2008 at 9:00 a,.m. for the approval of the court."
This is not a notice of hearing contemplated by the rules.
This is nothing but a written instruction to the clerk to set a hearing, not a notice of hearing.
The Supreme Court has ruled that instructions to the clerk of court, not addresed to the parties are not notices of hearing which merit attention of the court.
The Supreme Court ruled that such kind of notices of hearing are a mere scrap of paper.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Pimentel to explain 20/80 federal solution

Once the federal system of government is impelemented, for this year Negros Oriental would stand to receive more than one billion pesos as its share from the collection of national taxes.
Senator minority leader Aquilino 'Nene' Q. Pimentel, Jr. will explain the important implications of adoption of a federal form of government in the country during his visit to Dumaguete City on August 14.
The most significant benefit derived from the adoption of a federal government is the drastic increase in the shares by local government in the collection of national taxes.
Under the model that is being pushed by the senator, there wil be a 20-80 sharing scheme between the federal government and the proposed federal states.
Pimentel is scheduled to speak before students, and local officials at the Negros Oriental State University when he arrives from a morning flight from Manila on Thursday.
He is also going to speak before the league of municipalities in Amlan.
The shares of local government units (LGUs) in the collection of national taxes shall substantially increase – many by as much as 30 percent – under the federal system being proposed by a majority of senators, according to Senator Pimentel.
As provided for in Joint Senate Resolution 10 calling for the adoption of a federal system, all revenues and taxes collected by the LGUs or by the national government shall be divided in the following manner: 20 percent shall accrue to the federal government and 80 percent to the federal states.
Of the share accruing to the federal states, 30 percent shall go to the state concerned and 70 percent shall be apportioned among the provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays, according to the formula prescribed under the Local Government Code of 1991.
Pimentel, principal author of Senate Joint Resolution 10, explained that the shares of LGUs defined under the Code, will get much bigger under the proposal because the funds to be apportioned shall include all revenues and taxes imposed or collected by the federal government.
“That means that monies like customs duties and the collections of seaports will now be included in the revenues to be divided among the federal government, the states and the provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays,” he said.
Under the present system, Pimentel pointed out that “only taxes as taxes strictly construed are subjected to division between the central government and LGUs.”
In the case of Negros Oriental, the province's share for 2008 out of collections from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), amounts to P801,711,407.02.
But under the federal system's sharing scheme, the share for Negros Oriental will rise to P1,122,395,969.82.
There will be an increase of P320-million to the province's share in the national taxes, under the proposed sharing scheme in the federal system.
This is a thirty-nine percent increase from Negros Oriental's current share
For Dumaguete City, the share for 2008 out of BIR collections amounts to P187,778,810.56.
Under the federal system, the share for Dumaguete City would be P262,890,334.77.
There would be an increse of P75,111,524.22 for DUamguete share in the national taxes.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

"M" to "F" in birth certificate

A client consulted me about her daughter's birth certificate.
The client said that instead of the letter "F" for "female" on the "sex" portion in the birth certificate, the letter "M" was erroneously typed.
I told the client in jest that perhaps the mistake was done by the nurse in the hospital who wrote the wrong "sex" of the new born.
Perhaps the nurse mistakenly saw something protruding in your daughter's private part when she was born.
That might explain the mistake, I quipped.
The mother vehemntly denied this suggestion and said this might just have been simple a typographical error.
I told the client that an interchange of the letters "F" and "M" on the sex portion of the birth certificate is not considered a typographical error.
It is a substantial error that requires one to bring the matter to court, in order that it may be changed.
It is akin to a man who undergoes a sex change and wants to change the letter "M" to "F" in the birth certificate.
That is a substantial change in the birth cetificte because it changes the person's gender.
A substantial change requires a court proceeding.
The mother was a little naughty because she asked a hypothetical question:
What if the wrong letter typed in the birth certificate is, for instance, the letter "N"?
Will that not be a typographical error, considering it is neither "M" (for male) not "F" (for female)?
I said it is still a susbtantial (not mere typographical) mistake because "N" might mean "None of the above".

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Begging the question?

“Begging the question” is a form of fallacy in logic.
Let’s go back to college Logic 101.
The Skeptic’s dictionary ( ) provides a good explanation of “begging the question”
“Begging the question” is what one does in an argument when one assumes what one claims to be proving, explains the Skeptic’s Dictionary.
A simple example of “begging the question” would be:
“John is attractive because he is handsome.”
The conclusion of this example is that “John is attractive”
The premise, or the supporting statement, is “he (John) is handsome”
The statement assumes that John is handsome.
That John is actually handsome has to be established by a certain objective criteria, not some subjective form of measurement.
Since the statement, “he is handsome” is merely an assumption, it needs to be proven.
Thus, to say that “John is attractive because he is handsome” is to “beg the question.”
At the heart of Meralco’s argument in supporting its contention that Justice Jose L. Sabio Jr., should dis-engage himself from the Meralco-GSIS case, is a procedural rule in the court of appeals.
There is a rule in the court of appeals which allows a justice to whom a case is assigned, and the other justices who participated in the deliberations, to remain handling the case.
Under this particular rule, a justice to whom a case is assigned and justices who participated in deliberations, can remain handling the case if certain events happen.
One of these events listed in the rule is when a preliminary injunction is issued.
According to Meralco, in the Meralco-GSIS case, there was no injunction issued (but only a T.R. O.)
Since there was no injunction, then under the rules, Justice Joe L. Sabio Jr., should have dis-engaged himself from the case, Meralco argues.
This argument seems alright, at first glance.
But if you look at the surrounding circumstances, the argument looses its hold.
The fact is that a decision was pre-emptively rendered in the case, before the lapse of the sixty-day T.R.O.
The decision was rendered when there was really no opportunity to decide whether an injunction was to be issued.
The issue of the issuance of an injunction was to be determined only when the sixty-day T.R.O. lapses
So, the basic question is, why would Meralco assume that no injunction was issued when the opportunity to decide such matter had not arisen yet?
How could Meralco assume that there would be no injunction?
Thus, the premise that “there was no injunction” to prove that Justice Sabio should dis-engage himself (from the case), is merely an assumption, that needs to be established.
Doesn’t Meralco’s argument beg the question?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Meralco-GSIS proceedings raise eyebrows

There are some facts in the controversial Meralco-GSIS case that have raised my eyebrows, mainly because they are either so peculiar, or unusual, or they are not in accordance with ordinary court-practice experience.
If you haven’t been updated with the latest developments, there are accusations that court of appeals Justice Jose L. Sabio Jr. purportedly named the price of P50-million, in exchange for changing or reversing his position, and in effct, favor Meralco.
This is according to one Francis de Borja, a businessman who does not deny being a close friend of Manolo Lopez, one of the controllers of Meralco, and of a partner of The Firm lawyering for Meralco.
On the other hand, Justice Jose Sabio alleges that he has been offered P10-million by de Borja to inhibit (dis-engage) himself form the Meralco-GSIS case.
By the way, Justicre Jose L. Sabio has a narration of the events and it is in the internet
Undeniably, the juicier part of the Meralco-GSIS legal row is the bribery aspect.
I will not disagree with the contention that bribery should be the main subject of the investigation by the Supreme Court.
Bribery is a serious matter.
However, bribery probe is difficult because transactions are always in cash, like jueteng, masiao, swertres. No paper trail.
So let me leave the bribery aspect aside.
The facts though, bother me.
There is a position paper purportedly coming from Meralco counsel ex-solicitor general Simeon Marcelo, circulating in the internet
The paper holds the position that Justice Jose Sabio should refrain from handling the Meralco-GSIS case.
However, in the course of presenting his position, Marcelo gives out some revealing facts.
First, Meralco’s petition before the court of appeals was filed on May 29, 2008.
Upon the filing of the petition, or very immediately after, a temporary restraining order (T.R.O.) was issued.
Under the rules in the court of appeals, a temporary restraining order has a lifetime of sixty (60) days.
Assuming that the T.R.O. was issued on the day the petition was filed, or on May 29, 2008, the T.R.O. expired last July 28, 2008.
Marcelo states that the court of appeals eighth division, with Justice Roxas as ponente, rendered a decision dated July 23, 2008 and released the following day July 24, 2008.
This means that a decision on the case was rendered even before the lapse of the sixty-day period of the T.R.O.
We know that a T.R.O. means “status quo”.
This is akin to that moment in the “statue dance” where the music stops, and everybody halts like a statue.
Status quo means “freeze. ” No one moves.
There are two things that happen upon the lapse of the T.R.O. (after the sixtieth day)
Either the court does nothing.
This means that the T.R.O. is no longer in effect, and the respondent---the other party---can “resume dancing”, and do what it wants to do.
Or the court orders the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction.
The effect of this writ is to continue the effectivity of the T.R.O.
But in this Meralco-GSIS case, none of these two “normal” occurrences happened.
Instead, a DECISION of the case was rendered.
Worse, it was rendered BEFORE the lapse of the effectivity of the 60-day T.R.O.
This is highly unusual. Uncharacteristically speedy.
To me, this is the one that raises eyebrows.
But I can venture a technical but simplistic explanation: Whether deliberately or not, the rendering of the decision had a crucial “pre-emptive” effect.
In our dialect: “Gi-unhan.”
(I’ll blog next time….)