The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
MARCH 2006 - LEGAL NEWS


SUPREME COURT ISSUES GUIDELINES ON ORAL ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST CPR

The Supreme Court issued yesterday guidelines on the oral arguments set for Tuesday, April 4, on several petitions challenging the constitutionality of the "no permit no rally" and the "calibrated preemptive response" (CPR) policies adopted by the Executive Department in dealing with rallyists.

Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban said both the petitioners in the cases and government lawyers were given 25 minutes each to argue their respective positions on the two policies. The time allotted to the contending parties is exclusive of the interpellation by the 14-member Supreme Court. President Arroyo has yet to appoint a magistrate to complete the 15-member High Court. Led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), the petitioners in the cases said the "no permit no rally and the CPR" policies violate the Constitution as they curtail the right of the people to peaceably assemble and air their grievances. The "no permit no rally and the CPR" policies reportedly culled from Batas Pambansa Blg. 880, also known as the Public Assembly Act, have been used by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in forcibly dispersing rallies which have resulted in violence. Panganiban said the public hearing on the petitions filed as early as October last year was delayed because it took the petitioners time to complete their petitions.

Aside from Bayan, the other petitioners are the Kilusang Mayo Uno, the National Federation of Labor Unions, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Courage, Gabriela and protest leaders who were victims of violent police dispersals such as Fr. Jose Dizon, Renato Constantino Jr., Froyel Yanez, Fahima Tajar, the League of Urban Poor for Action (LUPA), Kilusan sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD), Youth for National Democracy, Teatrong Bayan, Kongreso ng Maralitang Lungsod, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, Akbayan Sanlakas and Partido ng Mangagawa . Named respondents were Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Interior and Local Government Secretary Angelo Reyes (now Ronaldo Puno), Philippine National Police chief Director General Arturo Lomibao, National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Vidal Querol, Manila Police District chief Chief Supt. Pedro Bulaong.

On the constitutionality of BP 880, the issues to be amplified by the parties are whether or not the provisions of the law are content-neutral or content-based regulations, void on grounds of overbreath or vagueness, constitute prior restraint, undue delegations of powers to mayors, violate international human rights treaties and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On the constitutionality and legality of the CPR policy, the issues to be argued are whether or not the policies are void on their face or due to vagueness, void for lack of publication, or void as applied to the rallies of Sept. 26 and Oct. 4, 5, and 6, 2005.

The petitioners said the provisions in BP 880 that were made as bases in the no permit no rally and the CPR policies should be declared unconstitutional because they curtail the right of the people to peaceably assemble and air their grievances by requiring a permit as a condition for the exercise of such rights. At the same time, they said BP 880 unduly delegates to the city or municipal mayor, "without clear standards," the discretion to deny a permit based on two conflicting standards -- the existence of a clear and present danger to public order, public safety, public convenience, public morals or public health, or an imminent and grave danger of a substantive evil. They said BP 880 contravenes Section 4, Article III of the 1987 Constitution which states that "no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances."

"This provision in BP 880 makes any public assembly conducted without a permit an illegal public assembly and makes it subject to dispersal. What is more, the law provides criminal sanctions for leaders and organizers of a public assembly without a permit," they said. They said the CPR policy of the government "unduly and unlawfully delegates to police authorities the discretion to determine what calibrated preemptive response means without clear and discernible standards." "The CPR, being a rule that affects adversely constitutional rights and civil liberties cannot become effective unless published in accordance with law and without a law, the CPR cannot be implemented by the government," they said.

Source:
Manila Bulletin Vol. 399 No. 30 p.1

Related Document:
-
BATAS PAMBANSA BLG. 880 An Act Ensuring the Free Exercise by the People of their Right Peaceably to Assemble and Petition the Government for other Purposes.


Posted: March 30, 2006


SUBIC TRANSFER SUBIC RAPE CASE TO MAKATI

The Supreme Court (SC) approved yesterday a motion for a change of venue in the Subic rape case following a petition filed by the alleged victim. The SC said the case will be raffled off to the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC). The transfer order was issued in yesterday's SC en banc session. In a petition with urgent prayer for immediate action, the 22-year-old Filipina complainant said that since Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 73 Judge Renato Dilag has recused himself from the case, there might not be any qualified judge in the Olongapo RTC to handle the case. "Under the circumstances, a re-raffle of the instant case is not possible within the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City," the complainant said. The alleged rape victim also added that the change in venue "will also speed up the proceedings in this case" and will be convenient to both her and the accused four United States Marines. The complainant also pointed out that the change of venue would "avoid a miscarriage of justice" since the trial has a limited prescription period under the Visiting Forces Agreement. Dilag previously ordered the arraignment of the four accused servicemen - Lance Corporals Daniel Smith, Keith Silkwood, Dominic Duplantis and Carpentier - last Friday but a day before the scheduled arraignment, Dilag inhibited himself from the case after the complainant's lawyers filed a motion questioning his impartiality. Prosecutors allege that Smith raped the woman inside a moving van while his fellow Marines cheered him on. Smith claimed he had consensual sex with the complainant.

Posted: March 29, 2006


CA to DOJ: STOP PROBE OF STAMPEDE

The Court of Appeals ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday to suspend its investigation into the Feb. 4 "Wowowee" television game show stampede that killed 71 people and injured hundreds of others at the Philsports Arena (formerly Ultra) in Pasig City. The preliminary investigation is aimed at establishing probable cause of criminal negligence against several ABS-CBN executives and popular "Wowowee" host Willie Revillame. The probe followed a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) recommendation that criminal charges be filed against 17 people, including ABS-CBN officials and game show organizers. The NBI had also recommended administrative charges against Pasig City Mayor Vicente Eusebio for granting a permit despite the lack of a security plan from the show's organizers to prevent such a stampede. In its petition to the Court of Appeals, ABS-CBN countered that the DOJ had shown bias against the network during the proceedings which could cause "grave and irreparable damage and injury" to their image. The appellate court set a hearing for April 24 to determine whether it would issue a final injunction. "It's an opportunity for us to present our evidence in court because the DOJ has already prejudged the case," said Regis Puno, counsel for the network. An initial inquiry by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) had concluded that the show's organizers and ABS-CBN failed to provide adequate security for fans and could be held criminally liable for the tragedy. The panel cited at least three unnamed ABS-CBN executives for negligence. ABS-CBN demanded another "impartial investigation" into the stampede, noting that members of the DILG panel included police officials who ABS-CBN believes should share responsibility for the tragedy. In their Jan. 17 letter to Eusebio, the show's organizers reportedly asked the Pasig City government for police assistance, saying they expected an audience turnout beyond Philsports Arena's capacity and that a stampede was possible. Aside from possible criminal charges from the DOJ, ABS-CBN is facing a possible class-action suit from stampede survivors and families of the victims.

Source:
The Philippine Star, March 29, 2006, VOl XX, No. 244

Posted: March 29, 2006


SC ORDERS PROSECUTION OF TEACHER

The Supreme Court has ordered the prosecution of grade school teacher accused of causing the death of one of her students after allegedly banging his head against another student's.

The high court's Third Division dismissed the petition of teacher Laila de Ocampo to throw out two justice department resolutions holding her liable for homicide and child abuse.

In a complaint she filed in December 1999, Magdalena Dacarra, mother of nine-year-old victim Ronald Dacarra, claimed that her son complained of dizziness on arriving home from school.

The child later admitted that his teacher had banged his head against the head of a classmate, but it wasn't clear why.

Dacarra brought her son to the East Avenue Medical Center the next morning due to continued vomiting.

Doctors who made an x-ray found that Ronald's head had a fracture. He died at the hospital on Dec. 9, 1999.

The Supreme Court dismissed De Ocampo's claim that Ronald's death did not result from the head banging, but that the intervening incidents including his three-day confinement in hospital did.

"We disagree," the Supreme Court said.

"There is probable cause for the offenses charged against petitioner. Probable cause is the existence of such facts and circumstances as would excite the belief in reasonable mind that a crime has been committed and the respondent is probably guilty of the crime.

Source:
Manila Standard Today, March 27, 2006, Page A2, Vol. XX No. 37

Related Document:
- Laila G. De Ocampo vs. The Honorable Secretary of Justice, Magdalena B. Dacarra, and Erlinda P. Orayan, G.R. No. 147932, January 25, 2006.


Posted: March 27, 2006


SC SCOLDS PETITIONERS vs. EO 464

Stung by criticisms that it was delaying decision on crucial issues affecting civil liberties, the Supreme Court yesterday reprimanded the petitioners against Executive Order 464 for asking for numerous extensions on their deadline to submit their comments to the high court. In a two page resolution, the court reprimanded petitioner groups Bayan Muna, Courage and the Counsel for the Defense of Civil Liberties (Codal) for asking the SC at least twice for more time to submit their comments. The extensions have delayed the resolution of the petitions questioning the constitutionality of EO 464 which bars Cabinet men and military officials from attending congressional hearings without the prior approval of the President. But on March 14; the court noted that the petitioners eventually said they were not filing their comments "in interest of having the issues resolved soonest." "To ask for additional time from the court, only to manifest later that the act for which additional time was requested will no longer be done is to trifle with the court and to make light of the proceedings being conducted by it, " the court said. "The fault of the petitioners… is rendered all the more serious in view of the gravity of the issues involved in the present case," the court added.

Source:
Philippine Daily Inquirer, p. A2 March 25, 2006

Related Document:
- xxx


Posted: March 27, 2006


SC UPHOLDS OMBUDSMAN IN GRAFT RAPS VS. NAVY VICE-ADMIRAL

The Supreme Court recently affirmed the ruling of then Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo ordering the filing of graft charges against a Navy Vice-Admiral for violations of accounting and auditing rules involving the purchase of various materials, including medicine and medical supplies for the Navy. It ruled that Marcelo did not commit grave abuse of discretion in setting aside the recommendation of a re-investigating special prosecutor to drop the charges.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor had recommended that the petitioner, among others, be indicted for 170 counts of violation of Section 3(e), Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), 21 counts of Malversation of Public Funds Thru Falsification of Public Documents, and one count of violation of Section 4(a) of RA 6713"(Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees). It was this recommendation that was reinstated by Ombudsman Marcelo.

In its SAO Report No. 94-98, the COA observed, among others, that purchases of medicines and medical supplies in 1990 and 1991 worth Php53,998,124 as well as the construction and asphalting materials amounting to Php31,269,562.66 could not be accounted for; there were alterations in the dates of Sales Invoices, Purchase Orders, Requisition and Issue Vouchers (RIV's) and other documents for paid purchases amounting to Php19,949,884.50; and that four suppliers who transacted business at the Headquarters of the Philippine Navy for supply of items worth Php47,381,428.50 could not be found at their reported business addresses, thus casting doubt on the legitimacy of the transaction. The audit covered selected procurements or transactions made by the Headquarters of the Philippine Navy in 1990 and 1991 and paid in 1992 and 1993.

Concurring in the decision were Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban and Justices Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez, and Romeo J. Callejo, Sr. (GR No. 159949, VAdm. Mariano J. Dumangcas, Jr. vs. Hon. Simeon V. Marcelo, Ombudsman, et al., February 27, 2006)

Source:
Supreme Court News Flash

Related Document:
- VADM. Mariano J. Dumangcas, Jr. Vs. Hon. Simeon V. Marcelo, et al., G.R. No. 159949, February 27, 2006.
- Sec. 3(a) R.A. No. 3019
- Section 4(a), R.A. No. 6713


Posted: March 27, 2006


TEACHER CHARGED WITH CHILD ABUSE

The Taguig City government yesterday formally filed a child abuse case against a teacher who forced two pupils to swallow pencil shavings.

Silangan Elementary School teacher Brenda Elbambuena, 45, was charged for violating Article VI, Section 10 of Republic Act 7610 by one of her pupils, Jastine Caraga, and her mother Adelina.

Elbambuena may yet face another child abuse case resulting in homicide pending the results of an autopsy of another pupil, Maria Delmar Redota, 9, who died due to acute tonsillitis last week.

Caraga was accompanied by officials from the Taguig City government, Office of Social Welfare and Development head Bitz Jordan and social worker Jurita Olvido, who were tasked by Taguig City Mayor Freddie Tinga to coordinate with police in order to facilitate the investigation and filing of charges against the suspect.

A dire viore examination for minors was conducted by the panel of prosecutors-Alexander Antonio, Jaime Cubilo and Cielito Celi- upon Caraga's submission of her sworn statement.

The prosecution also directed school principal Remedios Antonio to submit her own sworn statement on the details of the investigation she conducted upon learning of the incident.

While being questioned by the prosecution panel, Caraga said she was the first to be accosted by Elbambuena. "She was mad and cursing, then she forced me to open my mouth and fed me the pencil shavings."

According to Caraga, the same thing was done to Redota, but she was not able to spit out the pencil shavings.

Although the cause of death of Redota was acute tonsillitis, Jordan stressed that the act of Elbambuena itself warrants them to file a case of child abuse against her.

Source:
Manila Standard Today Vol. XX No. 34 p.A5

Related Document:
-
Republic Act No. 7610 - AN ACT PROVIDING FOR STRONGER DETERRENCE AND SPECIAL PROTECTION AGAINST CHILD ABUSE, EXPLOITATION AND DISCRIMINATION, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES


Posted: March 23, 2006


ERC ISSUES RULES ON PUBLICATIONS OF RATE PETITIONS

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has set forth-preliminary guidelines for the publication in newspapers of rate adjustment applications of distribution utilities.

The publication requirement is in keeping with the provisions of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) on 'general rate cases'.

As defined under the law, retail rate "refers to the total price paid by the end-users consisting of the charges for generation, transmission and related ancillary services, distribution, supply and other related charges for electric service"

Section 4 (e), Rule 3 of the EPIRA's IRR prescribes that "any application or petition for rate adjustment or for any relief affecting the consumer must be verified, and accompanied with an acknowledgement or receipt of a copy thereof by the LGU Legislative Body of Locality where the applicant or petitioner principally operates together with the certification of the notice of publication thereof in a newspaper of general circulation in the same locality".

It was further noted that a prayer by the DU "should emphasize the proposed revenue requirement (in pesos) which is exclusive of the power cost that it needs in order to be continuously viable in its electricity distribution operation." This shall likewise specify charges per customer classes.

Source:
Manila Bulletin, March 21, 2006, Page B-3, Vol. 399 No. 21.

Posted: March 22, 2006


SC UPHOLDS PHASEOUT OF PRIVATE BLOOD BANKS

The Supreme Court (SC) has finally put to rest the controversy surrounding the operation of "free-standing blood banks" by affirming its decision ordering the Department of Health to phase out commercial blood banks in the country within two years.

In a two- page en banc resolution, the SC denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the officials of the Philippine Association of Blood Banks (PABB), a nonstock and nonprofit association composed of free-standing blood banks. PABB sought a reversal of the high tribunal's November 25, 2005 decision ordering the closure of commercial blood banks.

The 15-member bench headed by Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban maintained its decision upholding the constitutionality of Sec. 7 of Republic Act 7719, otherwise known as the National Blood Services Act of 1994, which seeks to provide an adequate supply of safe blood by promoting voluntary blood donation and by regulating blood banks in the country.

According to a study, blood from paid donors are three times riskier than voluntary donors because they are unlikely to disclose their medical or social history during the blood screening.

Source:
Manila Standard Today, March 20, 2006, page A4, Vol. XX No. 31.

Posted: March 20, 2006


COMPLAINT VS. GMA FILED BEFORE UNITED NATIONS PANEL

Lawyers of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran yesterday lodged a complaint against President Arroyo before the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), charging her with the illegal arrest and arbitrary detention of the party-list congressman. The complaint, filed by Committee for the Defense of Lawyers (Codal) spokesman lawyer Neri Javier Colmenares in behalf of Beltran, was received by Marcus Schmidt, head of the Petitions Unit of the UNHRC, who transmitted it right away to Pierre del Prado of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in Geneva, Switzerland.

Colmenares said the filing of the case against Mrs. Arroyo and her administration was based on her violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other international human rights laws. In the complaint, Codal said the Arroyo government's arrest of Beltran is illegal because it was done on the basis of his political beliefs which goes against the administration and that the warrant used in having him arrested was based on a case that was filed against him by the administration of then President Ferdinand Marcos in 1985 but was dismissed in 1986, when the late strongman was overthrown in a popular uprising.

The case slapped against Beltran, a former street parliamentarian and now member of Congress, was said to have been among the several politically motivated cases filed by the Marcos administration against its dissenters during his term, especially during Martial Law. "By using that same case to have Beltran arrested, Mrs. Arroyo is in essence had him imprisoned for his political beliefs and not for any criminal act committed by him. This is strictly prohibited under international laws," Colmenares said.

Beltran, who was arrested by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group last Feb. 25, just hours after Mrs. Arroyo declared a state of national emergency over a reported uncovered coup against her government, remains in police custody despite the absence of any judicial order for his detention. The complaint lodged by Codal also stated that despite a release order issued by a Quezon City Regional Trial Court judge last March 13, the police still refuses to free him.

Source:
Manila Bulletin, March 19, 2006

Posted: March 22, 2006


OMBUDSMAN DROPS RAPS VS. LANAO SUR GOVERNOR AND THREE OTHER OFFICIALS

The Office of the Ombudsman dismissed early this week the administrative and criminal cases filed against Lanao del Sur Gov. Aleem Bashier Manalao and three other provincial officials. Lawyer Baratucal Caudang, Manalao's legal counsel, said he has in his possession the Ombudsman's resolution dated March 13 and signed by Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez dismissing the six criminal and six administrative cases filed against Manalao, his chief of staff Macalangcom Caris and executive assistant Monina Manalo-Caris, and provincial treasurer Sambitory Pundugar.

"Wherefore, premises considered, all criminal and administrative charges versus the foregoing are hereby dismissed for lack of merit," Caudang quoted the Ombudsman's resolution as stating. The majority members of the Lanao del Sur provincial board filed the cases against Manalao last year, prompting the Ombudsman to place the governor under six-month preventive suspension last October while the charges against him were being investigated.

In a memorandum, Manalao informed the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and all provincial government offices that he would report for work this Monday. Manalao's suspension and a recall petition initiated by some municipal mayors have forced the suspension of provincial projects and programs. This prompted Lanao del Sur Rep. Benasing Macarambon Jr. and other leaders to call for unity and a stop to the political bickerings.

But the camp of acting Gov. Monera Macabangon reportedly left for Manila last Friday to seek a temporary restraining order from the Ombudsman to stop Manalao from retaking his position. However, Manalao's lawyers quoted the Ombudsman's resolution as stating that the decision clearing Manalao and the three other provincial officials was "final and unappealable."

Source:
Philippine Star, March 19, 2006

Posted: March 22, 2006


SC ORDERS LOREN TO PAY P3.3 MILLION FOR RECOUNT

The Supreme Court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has directed Loren Legarda to make a full cash deposit of P3.38 million and to comment on Vice President Noli De Castro's motion to create more revision teams to expedite the resolution of her election protest.

In a one-page resolution dated February 28, PET gave Legarda a nonextendible period of 10 days to deposit the amount and a comment on De Castro's motion for additional revision teams.

As of the filing of his motion, PET had just revised 36 percent of the 7,744 Legarda's protested precincts from the province of Cebu, which is one of her pilot protested precincts. PET has yet to gather or collect the ballot boxes from the provinces of Pampanga and Maguindanao, the two other pilot protested precincts which consist of about 10,000 precincts.

"Thus, based on this estimation, the revision of ballots from Cebu, Maguindanao and Pampanga would last until December 2006 and the revision of ballots from the remaining 41 protested provinces or cities could be finished possibly in seven years from now, or in December 2013," De Castro's motion alleged

Source:
Manila Standard Today, March 13, 2006, page A3, Vol. XX No. 25

Posted: March 13, 2006


COURT UPHOLDS CRIMINAL RAPS AGAINST DANTE TAN

The Court of Appeals has affirmed the Department of Justice's filing of criminal charges against businessman Dante Tan, an ally of former President Joseph Estrada. Tan allegedly employed a manipulative scheme to drive up the stock market prices of Best World Resources Corp. (BWRC) shares in 1999 and earned for himself a P2 billion windfall.

In an 11-page decision, Associate Justice Fernanda Lampas Peralta of the Court of Appeals 17th Division overturned the order of the Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 153 dismissing the complaint of the DOJ on the ground of violation of Tan's right to speedy trial.

In 2004, Judge Briccio Ygana junked the DOJ's criminal complaint against Tan, citing the failure of the government to prosecute the case for more than two years. The DOJ filed the criminal case 119830 against Tan before the lower court on Dec. 19, 2000 for allegedly violating Section 27 of the Revised Securities Act (RSA) or Squeezing the Market Float, which is punishable by imprisonment ranging from seven to 21 years.

Apart from criminal case 119830, the justice department also filed criminal case nos. 119831 and 119832 due to alleged failure of Tan to file with Securities and Exchange Commission a sworn statement on his beneficial ownership of BWRC shares.

The DOJ insisted that there was no violation of Tan's right to speedy trial as he was not only deemed to have waived the same, but also conformed to it when he failed to object to the DOJ's manifestation during the initial hearing that criminal case nos. 119831 and 119832 would be heard ahead of criminal case no. 119830.

The DOJ noted that even the trial court did not rule against said manifestation either and that it allowed the department to present evidence only for the two criminal cases for more than two years.

"If private respondent had really wanted to exercise his constitutional right to speedy trial, he should have asked not the dismissal, but the trial of the case. Should petitioner fail to present evidence for an unreasonable period of time, then the trial court may dismiss the case and such dismissal will amount to an acquittal and bar another prosecution for the same offense, within the context of double jeopardy," the CA stressed.

"Thus a mere mathematical reckoning of the period for which criminal case no. 119830 has remained pending, is not enough. The peculiar circumstances of the case must be considered. Criminal case no. 119830 is just one of the many controversial cases involving the so-called BWRC shares scam where public interest is undoubtedly at stake. The State, like any other litigant, is entitled to its day in court and to a reasonable opportunity to present its case," the CA stressed.

The appellate court also described as untenable the claim of Tan that the dismissal of the case is tantamount to an acquittal and that the petition violated his right against double jeopardy.

The CA said that double jeopardy does not apply considering that there is no violation of Tan's right to speedy trial.

Source:
Manila Standard Today, March 13, 2006, page A3, Vol. XX No. 25

Posted: March 13, 2006


SUPREME COURT DECLARED EQUITABLE BOARD DISPUTE MOOT AND ACADEMIC

The Supreme Court junked for being moot and academic the petition of banker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez seeking to stop the group of Antonio Go from acting as directors and officers of the Equitable-PCI Bank.

In an en banc resolution, the SC said it was no longer necessary to proceed with the case as the core issues raised by the bank had already been settled among themselves, citing the manifestation filed by respondents Go and his associates, Peter Go Pailan, John C.B. Go, and Genevieve W.J. Go dated August 19, 2005.

"In view of these developments, the court finds it no longer necessary to proceed with the case as the core issues therein have become moot and academic. In view whereof, the Court resolves to dismiss the petition at bar for being moot and academic," the SC ruled.

Source:
Malaya, March 11, 2006 Vol. XXV No. 46, p. A7

Posted: March 13, 2006


SC AFFIRMS DND AUTHORITY OVER VETERANS ORG

The Department of National Defense (DND) has control and supervision over the Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP) and can conduct an extensive management audit on it, the Supreme Court recently ruled.

In a 33-page decision penned by Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario, the Court dismissed for lack of merit VFP's petition for certiorari which sought the nullification of DND Department Circular No. 04 that, among others, mandates the VFP to submit an annual financial report to the DND.

"In sum, the assailed DND Department Circular No. 04 does not supplant nor modify and is, on the contrary, perfectly in consonance with Rep. Act No. 2640 [creating the VFP]. Petitioner VFP is a public corporation. As such, it can be placed under the control and supervision of the Secretary of National Defense, who consequently has the power to conduct an extensive management audit of petitioner corporation," the Court said.

Named as respondents were then DND Secretary Angelo T. Reyes and DND Undersecretary for Civil Relations and Administration Edgardo E. Batenga.

The Court dismissed the VFP's contention that the assailed Circular expanded the scope of control and supervision beyond what has been laid down in RA 2640. It, in fact, found RA 2640's provisions concerning the control and supervision of the Secretary of National Defense "clearly withholds from the VFP complete autonomy."

The Court held VFP to be a public corporation. It said that VFP's functions are executive functions, designed to implement not just the provisions of RA 2640, but also, the Constitutional mandate for the State to provide immediate and adequate care, benefits, and other forms of assistance to war veterans and veterans of military campaigns, their surviving spouses and orphans. This function falls within the category of sovereign function, said the Court, as it is meant not only to promote social justice but to reward patriotism.

The Court noted that RA 2640, creating the VFP, is in fact entitled "An Act to Create a Public Corporation to be known as the Veterans Federation of the Philippines, Defining its Powers, and for other Purposes."

It also held that funds in VFP's hands from whatever source are public funds and can be used only for public purposes. It stressed the fact that while no budgetary appropriations have been released to the VFP, this does not prove that it is a private corporation. It however stressed that only the money remitted by the affiliate organizations to the VFP are considered public funds and that membership dues collected by said affiliate organizations do not become public funds while they are still funds of affiliate of organizations.

Concurring were Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, Senior Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno, Justices Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, Antonio T. Carpio, Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez, Renato C. Corona, Conchita Carpi74o Morales, Romeo J. Callejo, Sr., Adolfo S. Azcuna, Dante O. Tinga, and Cancio C. Garcia.

Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing, who served as former National Defense undersecretary, did not take part in the deliberations. (GR No. 155027, The Veterans Federation of the Philippines v. Reyes and Batenga, February 28, 2006)

Source:
http://pio.supremecourt.gov.ph/courtnews/index.php March 10, 2006

Related Document:
- G.R. No. 155027, February 28, 2006
- Republic Act No. 2640


Posted: March 13, 2006


SEQUESTRATION OF 4 TAN FIRMS REVOKED

The Sandiganbayan ordered the government yesterday to lift a sequestration order on four firms owned by business tycoon Lucio Tan after the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) failed to prove that the seizure and control of the companies in 1986 had a legal basis.

In a 59-page joint decision in Civil Case Nos. 0096, 0097, 0098 and 0099, the anti-graft court's fifth division ordered the government to cease further involvement in the control and management of Allied Banking Corp., Fortune Tobacco Corp., Foremost Farms and Shareholdings Inc.

"The Court finds and so holds that the questioned writs of sequestration were issued without the requisite prima facie factual foundation that the properties covered thereby are 'ill-gotten' wealth. There is sufficient reason to impel this Court to declare them as null and void and to terminate the role of government as conservator of the properties covered thereby," the court ruled.

The decision was signed by Associate Justice Teresita Diaz-Baldos. Associate Justices Roland Jurado and Ma. Cristina Cortez-Estrada, who chairs the fifth division, concurred with the decision.

The court, however, said the decision would not affect the separate forfeiture suit - Civil Case no. 0005 - filed by the government covering the same companies.

Source:
The Philippine Star- page 1 / Vol. XX / No. 224


Posted: March 9, 2006


SANDIGANBAYAN ORDERS ARREST OF GENERAL GARCIA'S FAMILY

Sandiganbayan ordered the arrest of the wife and three sons of retired Armed Forces comptroller Major General Carlos F. Garcia in connection with a 303-million-peso plunder case filed against all five of them by the Ombudsman nearly a year ago.

Justice Edilberto Sandoval, chair of the Sandiganbayan's Second Division, provided for no bail in issuing the order against Garcia's wife Clarita and their children, Ian Carl, Juan Paulo and Timothy Mark.

Garcia himself, who was sentenced by a military court last December to two years at hard labor, has been detained at Camp Crame national police headquarters. He was convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman and conduct prejudicial to good order for not declaring his real assets and for possessing a "green card," which signifies US residence.

The arrest order came after the court upheld the Ombudsman's finding of probable cause to prosecute the Garcia's on a charge of conspiracy to amass at least 303.2 million pesos in ill-gotten wealth from 1993 to 2004, or from the time Garcia was an Army colonel until he became AFP deputy chief of staff for comptrollership.

The charge sheet described Garcia's wife and children as his "conduits and willing receptacles."

Source:
Philippine Daily Inquirer - page A3 / Vol. 21 / No.91

Related Document:
-
Republic Act No. 7080 - An Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder


Posted: March 9, 2006


SC ORDERS MIAA TO PAY OWNER OF AIRPORT RUNWAY

A ruling by the Supreme Court (SC) has ruled against the government in a multi-million-peso expropriation case involving a piece of land originally used on the Manila International Airport runway expansion in 1972.

In its decision the SC Third Division through Associate Justice Dante Tinga modified an earlier ruling by the Court of Appeals and ordered the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) to pay a certain Joaquin Rodriguez just compensation for the lot occupied by the runway based on the value thereof at the time taking in 1972.

The case started in the early 1970s, when the MIAA, the government-owned and controlled corporation managing and operating the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Complex, implemented expansion programs for its runway.

On January 12, 1996, the MIAA Through its then general manager, petitioner Francisco Atayde, received a letter from Joaquiin Rodriguez proposing to sell at P2, 350 per sq. m. one of the lots already occupied by the expanded runway but not yet expropriated by the MIAA. The proposal did not ripen to a deal.

The MIAA elevated the case to the Court of Appeals, claiming Rodriguez is entitled to back rentals only from the time he became the registered owner of the property in 1996.

Source:
Daily Tribune, March 6, 2006, page 4, Vol. 6 No. 356.

Posted: March 13, 2006


SC CLEARS WAY FOR RESOLUTION OF ANG PING POLL PROTEST

The Supreme Court has denied with finality, for lack of merit, the bid of Manila Rep. Miles Andrew Mari Roces to stop the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) from proceeding with the resolution of the election protest filed against him by the wife of his political rival, Maria Zenaida Ang Ping.

The SC said that the Comelec's resolution "systematically manipulated the proceedings to deprive Mrs. Ang Ping of her right to due process, forcing her to seek redress in the HRET."

The SC has previously ruled that HRET is the "sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of the members of the House of Representatives and has the power to promulgate procedural rules to govern proceedings brought before it."

Roces was originally pitted against Mr. Ang Ping but a registered voter of Manila named Alejandro Gomez questioned Ang Ping's qualifications before the Comelec four months before the elections, accusing Ang Ping of misrepresenting himself as a natural born Filipino. A week before the polls, Ang Ping withdrew his certificate of candidacy from the Comelec. The next day, his political party, the Nationalist People's Coalition, sought to substitute his wife in his stead.

Source:
Malaya, March 6, 2006, page A2.

Posted: March 13, 2006


SC JUNKS TRO ON PP 1017

The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday (February 28) ordered oral arguments next Tuesday (March 7) on the suit questioning the legality of Malacañang's Proclamation 1017 even as Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban said no temporary restraining order (TRO) will be issued by the high court in the meantime. The Daily Tribune had asked the high court to order the removal of policeman from the premises of the newspaper office while questioning the constitutionality of the raid Saturday by the elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and Western Police District Station 5, but this TRO appeal was ignored by Chief Justice Panganiban, who also said the raid was an "unverified report." With the high court ignoring the TRO plea, the Arroyo government, through the Department of Transportation and Communications' National Telecommunication Commission (NTC), tightened the screw on critical broadcast media establishments, with DoTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza saying the NTC had informed him of the violations of the guidelines committed by television networks during the standoff between Marines at Fort Bonifacio. He refused to identify the TV station.

Under Executive Order 546, the NTC can impose sanctions including the suspension or cancellation of the provisional authority to a broadcast company that has been found violating its rules. Group and individuals including publishers of the Daily Tribune are asking the Supreme Court to rule on the legality of the proclamation which place the country under state of national emergency and authorize the state to takeover key installations and public utilities including media outfits.

Source:
The Daily Tribune, March 1, 2006 v.6, p.2

Related Document:
- Executive Order No. 546


Posted: March 1, 2006

See February 2006 News Archive.

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