Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Religious freedom

See - https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2018/07/trump-administrations-continued-scorn-for-human-rights/

"x x x.

International Religious Freedom Summit Fails to Mask Trump’s Scorn for Human Rights
JULY 26, 2018 09:24:18 AM
Robert C. Blitt
Edited by: Ben Cohen

JURIST Guest Columnist Robert C. Blitt of the University of Tennessee College of Law discusses President Trump's continuous disregard for the human rights of the national and international community...

From degrading disabled people, women, LGBT individuals, and other minorities to the forsaking of the United Nation Human Rights Council, and from separating migrant families to the coddling of authoritarians and racists, this presidency consistently ridicules human rights. It follows that the State Department’s first international conference to Advance Religious Freedom might trigger a collective cognitive dissonance. The event, billed as gathering mainly “like-minded” foreign counterparts, intended to reaffirm international commitments to promote religious freedom and produce “real, positive change.” But a closer look suggests that in the case of religious freedom, the current administration is only perpetuating a longer history of ambivalence, and that this fundamental right, despite a high-profile summit, is no less a victim of President Trump’s antipathy towards human rights.

The 1998 International Religious Freedom Act, or IRFA, signaled the first formal effort to incorporate religious freedom into U.S. foreign policy. IRFA required the president to designate and act against “Countries of Particular Concern”—those states engaging in or tolerating particularly severe violations of religious freedom. Since then, only 14 countries of nearly 200 have ever been designated as CPCs. Moreover, this list has remained mostly static over time. Of the current ten CPC-designated countries, Burma, China, Iran and Sudan were added to the original list issued in 1999. Another four countries—Eritrea, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Uzbekistan—were added early in the last decade. Only two countries—Tajikistan and Turkmenistan—recently joined the CPC list in 2014 and 2016 respectively. This extreme selectivity is laid bare when juxtaposed with the consistently higher number of countries recommended for CPC status by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a bipartisan watchdog created by IRFA. Earlier this year, for example, USCIRF recommended that six additional countries be designated as CPCs: Central African Republic, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam.

More telling than the few designated CPCs, is the consistent unwillingness to act against them. IRFA affords a menu of actions to signal displeasure with foreign governments violating religious freedom. But no president has authorized new, IRFA-based sanctions, except against Eritrea. Rather, existing sanctions have been “double-hatted” to satisfy IRFA’s requirements. Even then, nearly half of the current CPCs have evaded sanctions through indefinite presidential waivers invoked to safeguard “important” national interests. Consequently, Saudi Arabia, whose government the State Department acknowledges “does not allow the public practice of any non-Muslim religion,” has never been subject to sanction under IRFA.

In response to these and other shortcomings, Congress successfully enacted amendments to IRFA in the waning days of President Obama’s second term. But negotiation and implementation of the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, named after Rep. Frank Wolf who spearheaded IRFA’s original passage, reveals as much about Congress’ ambivalence promoting international religious freedom as it does President Trump’s. The original Wolf Act as introduced sought to elevate the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom and the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom from bureaucratic anonymity and into the Secretary of State’s office. The amendments also directed the president to appoint an adviser on international religious freedom to the National Security Council (NSC) and to create new NSC committees that would ensure significant policy input roles for the advisor and the Ambassador at Large. Further, they restricted the president’s ability to indefinitely waive sanctions against designated CPCs and guaranteed minimum funding for programs promoting international religious freedom. Finally, the original amendments took aim at groups such as ISIS and al-Qaida, by proposing a mechanism that would enable IRFA to scrutinize nonstate actors and require presidential sanctions against those found to be violating religious freedom.

Negotiations over two years left the above provisions either diluted or omitted. Thus, while Congress secured some needed enhancements for IRFA, its final amendments declined to relocate the Ambassador at Large and its associated office, ruled out mandatory additions to the NSC, omitted meaningful limitations on the president’s waiver ability, and eliminated minimum funding for religious freedom promotion. In addition, not only was IRFA’s new ability to scrutinize “nonstate actors” significantly restricted, but it also relinquished obligating the president to act against them where designated as an “entity of particular concern” (EPC).

Turning back to the current administration, its implementation of an upgraded IRFA evidences no meaningful interest in advancing international religious freedom. President Trump chose to leave the post of Ambassador at Large vacant until his controversial nomination of Sam Brownback in July 2017. Brownback’s polarized confirmation process required an additional six-month delay and necessitated a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Pence in the Senate. Beyond this sluggish start, the administration has opted to maintain the same CPC designationas, same sanctions, and same waivers as the previous administration.

More telling still, the Trump administration has failed to embrace any of IRFA’s recent enhancements or taken the initiative to unilaterally implement important changes that were ultimately dropped from the final version of the Wolf Act. For example. the administration declined the opportunity to sanction the nonstate actors added to its EPC list announced in March 2018. Further, it ignored Congress’ invitation under IRFA to use the president’s National Security Strategy to articulate that promotion of the right to freedom of religion is a strategy that “protects other, related human rights, and advances democracy outside the United States.” Likewise, the president’s budget for 2019 allocates no funds to the promotion of international religious freedom activities.

The administration also has taken no executive action to elevate the status of international religious freedom within the State Department’s bureaucracy. Thus, the Ambassador at Large and Office of International Religious are still buried within the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) under the oversight of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. Nor has President Trump appointed NSC staff dedicated to international religious freedom or created committees intended to incorporate religious freedom into policy decision-making, as suggested by Congress. Finally, the president has left IRFA’s new “Special Watch List” to idle. By electing to add only Pakistan to the list, the administration effectively shrugged off Congress’ intention that the list serve as a mechanism for earlier and more purposeful engagement with countries violating religious freedom but falling short of the CPC standard. In contrast, USCIRF recently added 12 countries to its own Tier 2 list, which identifies those countries tolerating or engaging in serious religious freedom violations characterized by at least one element of the higher CPC standard.

Faced with this track record of indifference, human rights advocates and victims of violations of freedom of religion should not mistake an international gathering as a serious commitment to promoting freedom of religion or belief. If this administration was sincere about “push[ing] back against persecution and ensur[ing] greater respect for religious freedom for all,” it could easily substantiate this commitment by implementing its existing IRFA obligations. The absence of such action confirms that religious freedom is unlikely to be an outlier in the president’s policy of scorn for human rights.

Robert C. Blitt is a Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee College of Law, in Knoxville, Tennessee. He teaches courses on constitutional law, international law, and human rights law. His scholarship is available through SSRN. From 2004-2006, Blitt served as international law specialist for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

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Prayers in public schools. - "Ultimately, the Ninth Circuit found that the prayer policy at the Chino Valley school board meetings violated the Establishment Clause. As a result, the school board will no longer be allowed to endorse school-sponsored prayer in meetings."

See - https://www.jurist.org/news/2018/07/federal-appeals-court-rules-against-prayer-at-california-school-board-meetings/
"x x x.

Federal appeals court rules against prayer at California school board meetings
JULY 27, 2018 11:02:58 AM
Tate Brown

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] Wednesday that Chino Valley school board meetings, which are open to the public and include student attendees, may not include prayers or other religious exercises.

The Chino Valley school board argued that its prayer policy fell under the legislative-prayer tradition and would therefore not violate the Establishment Clause, which prohibits the establishment of religion by the government. The legislative-prayer tradition allows for prayers to open legislative sessions when the audience “consists of ‘mature adults’ who during the prayer are ‘free to enter and leave with little comment and for any number of reasons.'” However, the Ninth Circuit found that “[t]he audience and timing of the prayers, as well as the religious preaching at the Board meetings, diverge from the legislative-prayer tradition,” and concluded that the exception did not apply.

Ultimately, the Ninth Circuit found that the prayer policy at the Chino Valley school board meetings violated the Establishment Clause. As a result, the school board will no longer be allowed to endorse school-sponsored prayer in meetings.
x x x."

State of judicial independence in Poland

See - https://www.jurist.org/news/2018/07/poland-enacts-law-allowing-government-to-appoint-supreme-court-chief-justice/

"x x x.

Poland enacts law allowing government to appoint Supreme Court chief justice
JULY 27, 2018 01:39:58 PM
Lawrenz Fares

Polish President Andrzej Duba [official website] signed a proposed amendment to the Law on National Council [materials, in Polish] on Thursday that would grant the Polish government significant power in appointing Polish Supreme Court [official judiciary website] Justices.

Prior to the enactment of the amendment and a series of prior amendments, the Polish National Judiciary Council [official website, in Polish] had the power to make judicial appointments. The new procedures, however, would give the Polish Parliament, where Duda’s Law and Justice Party hold the majority, a greater say over appointments. These amendments would allow the Polish legislature, rather than the Polish judiciary, to appoint members to the National Judiciary Council. This allows the legislature and the executive to assert direct influence on the selection of Polish judges. According to the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights [opinion], this serves to “jeopardize the independence of a body whose main purpose is to guarantee judicial independence in Poland.”

Thursday’s amendment was also geared specifically towards allowing the government to appoint a new Supreme Court Chief Justice. Poland’s current Supreme Court Chief Justice Małgorzata Gersdorf has previously refused to step down [CNN report] in protest of what she perceives to be an attack on the Polish judiciary.

Earlier this month, the European Commission launched [JURIST report] an infringement procedure to protect Poland’s Supreme Court from the amendments. The commission said that, if carried out, the law would violate Poland’s obligations under Article 19(1)[text] of the Treaty on European Union as well as Article 47 [text] of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

At the time of the signing, thousands of Poles protested [Reuters report] in the streets.

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CIRCULAR NO. 14-93 July 15, 1993

The Revised Katarungang Pambarangay Law under R.A. 7160, otherwise known as the local Government Code of 1991, effective on January 1, 1992, and which repealed P.D. 1508, introduced substantial changes not only in the authority granted to the Lupong Tagapamayapa but also in the procedure to be observed in the settlement of disputes within the authority of the Lupon.

In order that the laudable purpose of the law may not be subverted and its effectiveness undermined by indiscriminate, improper and/or premature issuance of certifications to file actions in court by the Lupon or Pangkat Secretaries, attested by the Lupon/Pangkat Chairmen, respectively, the following guidelines are hereby issued for the information of trial court judges in cases brought before them coming from the Barangays:

I. All disputes are subject to Barangay conciliation pursuant to the Revised Katarungang Pambarangay Law (formerly P.D. 1508, repealed and now replaced by Secs. 399-422, Chapter VII, Title I, Book III, and Sec. 515, Title I, Book IV, R.A. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991), and prior recourse thereto is a pre-condition before filing a complaint in court or any government offices, except in the following disputes:

1. Where one party is the government, or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof;

2. Where one party is a public officer or employee, and the dispute relates to the performance of his official functions;

3. Where the dispute involves real properties located in different cities and municipalities, unless the parties thereto agree to submit their difference to amicable settlement by an appropriate Lupon;

4. Any complaint by or against corporations, partnership or juridical entities, since only individuals shall be parties to Barangay conciliation proceedings either as complainants or respondents (Sec. 1, Rule VI, Katarungang Pambarangay Rules);

5. Disputes involving parties who actually reside in barangays of different cities or municipalities, except where such barangay units adjoin each other and the parties thereto agree to submit their differences to amicable settlement by an appropriate Lupon;

6. Offenses for which the law prescribes a maximum penalty of imprisonment exceeding one (1) year or a fine over five thousand pesos (P5,000.00);

7. Offenses where there is no private offended party;

8. Disputes where urgent legal action is necessary to prevent injustice from being committed or further continued, specifically the following:

a. Criminal cases where accused is under police custody or detention (see Sec. 412 (b) (1), Revised Katarungang Pambarangay Law);

b. Petitions for habeas corpus by a person illegally deprived of his rightful custody over another or a person illegally deprived or on acting in his behalf;

c. Actions coupled with provisional remedies such as preliminary injunction, attachment, delivery of personal property and support during the pendency of the action; and

d. Actions which may be barred by the Statute of Limitations.

9. Any class of disputes which the President may determine in the interest of justice or upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Justice;

10. Where the dispute arises from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) (Sec. 46 & 47, R.A. 6657);

11. Labor disputes or controversies arising from employer-employee relations (Montoya vs. Escayo, et al., 171 SCRA 442; Art. 226, Labor Code, as amended, which grants original and exclusive jurisdiction over conciliation and mediation of disputes, grievances or problems to certain offices of the Department of Labor and Employment);

12. Actions to annul judgment upon a compromise which may be filed directly in court (See Sanchez vs. Tupaz, 158 SCRA 459).

II. Under the provisions of R.A. 7160 on Katarungang Pambarangay conciliation, as implemented by the Katarungang Pambarangay Rules and Regulations promulgated by the Secretary of Justice, the certification for filing a complaint in court or any government office shall be issued by Barangay authorities only upon compliance with the following requirements:

1. Issued by the Lupon Secretary and attested by the Lupon Chairman (Punong Barangay), certifying that a confrontation of the parties has taken place and that a conciliation settlement has been reached, but the same has been subsequently repudiated (Sec. 412, Revised Katarungang Pambarangay Law; Sec. 2[h], Rule III, Katarungang Pambarangay Rules);

2. Issued by the Pangkat Secretary and attested by the Pangkat Chairman, certifying that:

a. a confrontation of the parties took place but no conciliation/settlement has been reached (Sec. 4[f], Rule III, Katarungang Pambarangay Rules; or

b. that no personal confrontation took place before the Pangkat through no fault of the complainant (Sec. 4[f], Rule III, Katarungang Pambarangay Rules).

3. Issued by the Punong Barangay, as requested by the proper party on the ground of failure of settlement where the dispute involves members of the same indigenous cultural community, which shall be settled in accordance with the customs and traditions of that particular cultural community, or where one or more of the parties to the aforesaid dispute belong to the minority and the parties mutually agreed to submit their dispute to the indigenous system of amicable settlement, and there has been no settlement as certified by the datu or tribal leader or elder to the Punong Barangay of place of settlement (Secs. 1,4 & 5, Rule IX, Katarungang Pambarangay Rules); and

4. If mediation or conciliation efforts before the Punong Barangay proved unsuccessful, there having been no agreement to arbitrate (Sec. 410 [b], Revised Katarungang Pambarangay Law; Sec. 1, c. (1), Rule III, Katarungang Pambarangay Rules), or where the respondent fails to appear at the mediation proceeding before the Punong Barangay (3rd par. Sec. 8, a, Rule VI, Katarungang Pambarangay Rules), the Punong Barangay shall not cause the issuance at this stage of a certification to file action, because it is now mandatory for him to constitute the Pangkat before whom mediation, conciliation, or arbitration proceedings shall be held.

III. All complaints and/or informations filed or raffled to your sala/branch of the Regional Trial Court shall be carefully read and scrutinized to determine if there has been compliance with prior Barangay conciliation procedure under the Revised Katarungang Pambarangay Law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, as a pre-condition to judicial action, particularly whether the certification to file action attached to the records of the case comply with the requirements hereinabove enumerated in par. II;

IV. A case filed in court without compliance with prior Barangay conciliation which is a pre-condition for formal adjudication (Sec. 412 [a] of the Revised Katarungang Pambarangay Law) may be dismissed upon motion of defendant/s, not for lack of jurisdiction of the court but for failure to state a cause of action or prematurity (Royales vs. IAC, 127 SCRA 470; Gonzales vs. CA, 151 SCRA 289), or the court may suspend proceedings upon petition of any party under Sec. 1, Rule 21 of the Rules of Court; and refer the case motu proprio to the appropriate Barangay authority, applying by analogy Sec. 408 [g], 2nd par., of the Revised Katarungang Pambarangay Law which reads as follows:

The court in which non-criminal cases not falling within the authority of the Lupon under this Code are filed may at any time before trial, motu proprio refer case to the Lupon concerned for amicable settlement.

Strict observance of these guidelines is enjoined. This Administrative Circular shall be effective immediately.

Manila, Philippines. July 15, 1993.

Chief Justice

Supreme Court - "If the two political branches of government falter, only the Judiciary will remain to prop up the Republic."

See - https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/07/27/1837085/replacing-cj-sereno-becoming-inelegant
"x x x.

Replacing CJ Sereno becoming inelegant
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc 
(The Philippine Star) - July 27, 2018 - 12:00am
Sages had foreseen last May the inelegant effects of the Supreme Court ousting Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. Morality, not legality, was the issue. Whoever justice votes for ouster would appear lusting for her position.

Eight of the 14 magistrates voted for ouster. Among them were three of the five most senior, now automatically nominated as CJ replacement. They are Justices Teresita Leonardo de Castro, third in seniority; Diosdado Peralta, fourth; and Lucas Bersamin, fifth. One of the many issues against Sereno then was lack of experience – seniority – as magistrate. Sereno in turn accused the three, plus three others, of bias. They had testified against her in an aborted impeachment in Congress, so supposedly were inapt to sit in judgment of her in a quo warranto case in the SC.

Most senior of all justices is Antonio Carpio, thus acting-CJ during this vacancy, followed by Presbitero Velasco. Having voted against removing Sereno, it doesn’t look unseemly for either one to succeed her.

Still, as a matter of principle, Carpio has declined his automatic nomination. For him, Sereno’s removal was unjust, so he would not wish to benefit from it.

Becoming CJ is every lawyer’s dream. Twice before, in 2010 and 2012, Carpio automatically had been nominated for that highest Judiciary post. Yet although most senior those two times, he was bypassed by less tenured ones. Now Carpio is declining the post out of delicadeza. Retired CJ Hilario Davide and the all-lawyers Integrated Bar of the Philippines have begged Carpio to accept. So have many eminent citizens. Carpio’s stand is firm. Velasco has declined too, as he is retiring next month.

At first Justices Leonardo-De Castro, Peralta, and Bersamin held off from accepting nomination. Under the Constitution the Judicial and Bar Council must vet candidates for justice and judgeships, with at least three shortlisted per vacancy. The President has three months to fill any SC vacancy, in Sereno’s case by September.

Time is ticking away fast. This week a retired JBC member rushed the nomination of all 14 SC justices. On the eve of the JBC deadline yesterday for CJ applications and nominations, Leonardo-de Castro, Peralta and Bersamin accepted. One other did too, Justice Andres Reyes, among the eight who had fired Sereno.

The four may have noblest intentions for accepting nomination. Still, in light of Carpio’s principled declining, it sadly leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

The SC image needs buttressing. Political troubles loom: an extended fight for the Vice Presidency; a rush to shift to federal, possibly even parliamentary government; unconstitutional self-extension of congressional terms; political dynasties’ hang-on to power; worsening corruption and crime; economic decline; and China aggression. If the two political branches of government falter, only the Judiciary will remain to prop up the Republic.
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Read more at https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/07/27/1837085/replacing-cj-sereno-becoming-inelegant#wegdO1EyafmskoT8.99

Same-sex marriage in the Philippines

See - https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1754940/Tacloban/Local-News/Same-sex-wedding-thrives-in-Philippines-amid-opposition

"x x x.

Same-sex wedding thrives in Philippines amid opposition
July 27, 2018

THE issue of same-sex marriage is not about religion. It is about the equal protection of the law.

Rev. Crescencio Agbayani Jr., pastor of Quezon City-based LGBTS Christian Church Inc., continued to remind the critics of same-sex marriage, as more lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBTS) have come forward for a holy union rite despite the strong opposition particularly from the Catholic church.

“Our Constitution states that no one should be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall anyone be denied of equal protection of the law,” said Agbani.

He said their next same-sex mass wedding will be in Davao City, hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte, on October 28. Last June, dozens of LGBT couples were also wed during the annual observance of Pride Month.

While the Philippine government has yet to recognize the right of LGBT couples to civil marriage, Agbayani said they remain “very positive” on the final decision of the Supreme Court over the marriage equality in the country.

“If we’ll be lost, then will start again. We’re not going to give up until we’ll achieve the same legal rights as any other couple. LGBT couples are family, too,” Agbayani told SunStar Philippines.

He added that they “need security and peace of mind that our partners for life are also our partners under the law.”

“We are Filipinos who pay taxes and serve our country, too. We deserve to have our relationship as a family legally recognized,” Agbayani wrote, as he urged the LGBT community to continue holding vigil and rally for their rights.

Having educated at the Union Theological Seminary in Cavite with Master of Divinity in Christianity and Culture and awarded the Bishop La Verne Mercado Award in Ecumenics, Agbayani has been conducting same-sex holy union rite in the Philippines and other countries in Asia.

Earlier, Palo Archdiocese priest Virgilio Cañete said that “our society has been tolerant enough” over the issue on the same-sex marriage.

He added that “such unions are everywhere, and no one in this tolerant times can prevent such same-sex unions.”

“But making a law for this is no longer part of being tolerant but promotes beyond what is needed, at the expense of social conventions, our culture, and faith,” Cañete said.

“I am a priest, and so you can expect what my response is. It is not about my own, but the Catholic Church's: The Catholic Church teaches that marriage can be made only between a man and a woman, and opposes the introduction of both civil and religious same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is not legal here in the Philippines, right? Or at least, not yet, and I rue the day when it will be,” added Msgr. Ramon Aguilos.

Aguilos maintained that “the Church holds that same-sex unions are an unfavorable environment for children and that the legalization of such unions is harmful to society.”

“So, whether the mass wedding of same-sex marriage be held in Eastern Visayas region or elsewhere in the archipelago or anywhere in the world or in the universe, I have the same answer,” he said.

Aside from the Catholic church, a known lawyer also opposed the same-sex civil union in the country.

“So sad that same-sex marriage is even considered to be a national policy. Are we heading towards a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah, and have to go through the ravages of a destroyed modern-day Babylon?” asked lawyer Levito Baligod.

'The heart knows no gender'

“Ladlad supports marriage equality and the right of LGBT+ for civil partnerships,” said university professor Danton Remoto, founder and leader of Ladlad, the political party for LGBT Filipinos.

Meanwhile, Agbayani said that any opposition from the Catholic Church and other conservative Filipinos is expected.

The pastor then called on those same-sex couples who remained afraid of public scrutiny to come out into the open, urging them not to be afraid of the bullying and bashing.

“The Bible is about love not hate against homosexuality. There is nothing wrong on homosexuality because this is one of man’s nature. Not everyone is ‘straight’ and heterosexual. There are also LGBT people of God, created by God. We are loved by our Parent God. He always loves us. Love will conquer hate,” Agbayani said.

In 2015, an open and self-identified homosexual lawyer Jesus Nicardo M. Falcis III petitioned the high court to declare as unconstitutional Articles 1 and 2, which "define and limit marriage as between man and woman," of Executive Order 209, also known as The Family Code of the Philippines.

In his petition, he wanted to nullify Articles 46 (4) and 55 (6), which cite lesbianism or homosexuality as grounds for annulment and legal separation.

He also asked the higher court to “prohibit the Civil Registrar-General from enforcing the aforementioned portions of Articles 1 and 2 of the Family Code in processing applications for and in issuing marriage licenses against homosexual couples.”

A bill that considered the possibility of recognizing "civil unions" regardless of sexual orientation is currently pending at the House of Congress. (SunStar Philippines)

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Duterte Court

See - https://www.rappler.com/nation/208425-supreme-court-justices-duterte-appointees
"x x x.

By 2022, Supreme Court filled with Duterte appointees
Here's how the composition of the Philippines' top court would look like by the time President Rodrigo Duterte's term ends
Lian Buan
Published 9:16 AM, July 30, 2018

It will be a Duterte-packed court by the time the President ends his term in 2022. Of the 15 sitting Supreme Court (SC) justices by then, a total of 13 would be his appointees.

After 4 previous appointments to the High Court in 2017 – Samuel Martires (March 2, 2017), Noel Tijam (March 8, 2017), Andres Reyes (July 13, 2017), and Alexander Gesmundo (August 14, 2017) – President Rodrigo Duterte is filling up 4 more vacancies by the end of 2018, and an additional 5 by the end of 2019.

Associate Justice Andres Reyes is retiring in 2020, while Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta and Estela Perlas Bernabe are retiring in 2022, opening up the High Court to possibly even more Duterte appointees.

By 2022, only two – Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Benjamin Caguioa – would be non-Duterte appointees. The two were appointed by former president Benigno Aquino III.

But that's barring resignation, impeachment, quo warranto ouster, or anything which could lead to Leonen's or Caguioa's removal. Ousted chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was supposed to end her term in 2030, but her removal via the unprecedented quo warranto opened up another vacancy for a Duterte appointee.

x x x."

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Bangsamoro Organic Law

See - http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2018/07/24/bangsamoro-organic-law-primer-everything-you-need-to-know-bbl.html

"x x x.

The Bangsamoro Organic Law: Everything you need to know
By Ver Marcelo, CNN Philippines, Jul 24, 2018

x x x.

What are the differences between the ARMM and the BARMM?

Political structure and justice system

While the ARMM has a unitary form of government, the BARMM will have a parliamentary-democratic one. This means that the legislative and executive bodies in the ARMM are independent, while those in the BARMM are more closely related and empowered to enact its own laws.

In the ARMM, the residents elect their regional governor and vice governor. The regional governor has his own Cabinet and advisory council. The legislative power lies with the regional legislative assembly, whose 24 members are also elected by the people.

In the BARMM, the residents will elect an 80-member parliament representing different parties, districts, and sectors, including indigenous peoples. The members of the parliament will then elect a chief minister and two deputy chief ministers among themselves. The chief minister shall also appoint members of his Cabinet.

For the judiciary, both autonomous regions give Shari'ah courts jurisdiction over cases exclusively involving Muslims in the region. The OLBARMM gives the Supreme Court the authority to grant the incumbent Shari'ah District and Court judges who are not regular members of the Philippine Bar a period to qualify. Tribal laws will still apply to disputes of indigenous peoples within the region.

Fiscal autonomy and special development fund

Regional government officials under the ARMM must justify their funding before the Congress like other agencies. This resulted in the dependency of the supposed autonomous region on the national government for its annual budget.

Meanwhile, the BARMM will have an automatic allocation of the annual block grant, equivalent to five percent of the net national internal revenue of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs.

The region's share in government revenue taxes, fees, charges, and taxes imposed on natural resources will increase to 75 percent from the current 70 percent.

The national government will also allocate the Bangsamoro P5 billion annually for a period of ten years, which will be used for the rehabilitation of conflict-affected areas.


The ARMM covers the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. The same provinces also comprise the BARMM.

However, a plebiscite still has to determine if 39 barangays in North Cotabato, six municipalities in Lanao del Norte, and the cities of Cotabato in Maguindanao and Isabela in Basilan will be included in the Bangsamoro territory. The plebiscite will be held within three to five months after Duterte signs the law.

Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato will also have to vote as provinces if they are willing to let go of their towns and barangays to join the Bangsamoro.

Contiguous areas may also be included in the BARMM if there is a local government resolution or a petition where at least 10 percent of registered voters seek to join the plebiscite.

For territorial waters, existing laws define only municipal waters nationwide, including those in ARMM. These cover 15 kilometers from the low-water mark of coasts that are part of the territory. The Organic Law, meanwhile, introduces regional waters for the BARMM extending up to 19 kilometers from the low-water mark.

Inland waters

According to the administrative code of the ARMM, inland bodies of water in the region like Lake Lanao remain an "integral part of the national territory" of the country.

For the BARMM, all inland waters will be preserved and managed by the Bangsamoro government. However, those that are utilized for energy in areas outside the BARMM will be co-managed by the Bangsamoro government and the Department of Energy.

All government revenues from the development and usage of natural resources within the BARMM will go to the Bangsamoro government, but revenues from fossil fuels and uranium will be equally shared with the national government.

Defense and security

Like the ARMM, the national government will be responsible for the defense and security of the BARMM.

The Philippine National Police will also organize, maintain, and supervise a Police Regional Office to enforce the law.

Members of the MNLF and MILF may be admitted to the police force. The qualifications for age, height, and educational attainment may be waived if availed within five years after the ratification of the OLBARMM. Recruits from the two rebel groups must fulfill the requirement on educational attainment within 15 years.

Bangsamoro identity

Republic Act 9054, which strengthened the ARMM, provided an all-encompassing definition of the Bangsamoro people.

Section 3(b), Article X of the law states that they are "citizens who are believers in Islam and who have retained some or all of their own social, economic, cultural, and political institutions."

The OLBARMM, meanwhile, recognizes and retains the historical and geographical identity of the Bangsamoro people.

Section 1, Article II of the Organic Law states that Bangsamoro People are "those who, at the advent of the Spanish colonization, were considered natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands, whether of mixed or of full blood," including their spouses and descendants.

Filipino Muslims perform 'Tarawih' prayer as they start the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at the Pink Mosque in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao, Philippines.
How will the transition take place?

The transition from ARMM to BARMM will take place after the Commission on Elections holds a plebiscite, ratifying the latter.

President Duterte will then appoint 80 members to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), which automatically includes the incumbent officials of the Regional Government. There must also be representatives for non-Moro indigenous communities, youth, women, settler communities, traditional leaders, and other sectors.

Duterte will also appoint an interim Chief Minister among the BTA members, who will then organize an interim Cabinet. Government personnel in education, health, and social welfare agencies will be retained.during this time.

The BTA will hold legislative and executive powers and is considered the Bangsamoro government during the transition.

The first local elections will be held in 2022. The BTA will be dissolved once elected officials assume office.

"When you talk about the BBL, it's the advocacy of every Muslim… For the past years, since martial law, the Muslims have been asking for self-determination." — Professor Jamel Cayamodin
Is the OLBARMM constitutional?

One of the major roadblocks faced by all versions of the BBL is constitutionality.

In 2008, the Supreme Court declared the Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) unconstitutional due to the failure of the government and the MILF to engage and consult the affected communities. The MOA-AD proposed the creation of an autonomous political region in Mindanao with its own police, military, and judicial systems.


How will the Bangsamoro government work with the national government?

The Bangsamoro government will have an asymmetrical relationship with the national government, as the BARMM will have more autonomy than other regions in the country.

While the national government will retain powers over constitutional and national matters such as foreign affairs and defense, the Bangsamoro government will have exclusive powers over some areas including budgeting, administration of justice, agriculture, customary laws, creation of sources of revenue, disaster risk reduction and management, economic zones, ancestral domain, grants and donations, human rights, local government units, public works, social services, tourism, and trade and industry.

Various intergovernmental bodies will also be created to improve relations and resolve issues between the national and Bangsamoro governments.

These bodies include the Philippine Congress-Bangsamoro Parliament Forum, the Fiscal Policy Board, the Joint Body for Zones of Joint Cooperation, the Infrastructure Development Board, the Energy Board, and the Bangsamoro Sustainable Development Board.

x x x."

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Supreme Court's backlog 7,000 cases

See -

"x x x.

Address Supreme Court’s case backlog
July 23, 2018

Has anyone in the consultative committee that drafted the proposed federal constitution ever thought of categorically disallowing the Supreme Court from messing around with the mandate to decide cases within a fixed period?

The 1987 Constitution provides that the Supreme Court “shall” (meaning, mandatory in all jurisprudence) dispose of cases within a period of only two years. But the justices have, to this date, continued making a mockery of that provision by sitting on so many cases for as long as 15 to 20 YEARS—thus virtually reframing (amending!) that provision from the original “shall” to “may” (meaning, just a suggestion).

Not even the warning of retired chief justice Hilario Davide Jr. that they could all be impeached for “culpable violation of the Constitution” has deterred them from continuing to be defiant and arrogant vis-à-vis that mandate (“Davide: 8 anti-Sereno justices may be impeached,” News, 5/18/18).

Consequently, that high court’s backlog has ballooned to an unmanageable 7,000 or so unresolved cases, to great damage and serious prejudice to the people. If any “honorable” justice thinks he/she cannot handle that kind of judicial load, then, resignation is always an option.

Justice delayed is justice denied. No form of government can eradicate that core anomaly in the justice system until it is dealt with head-on and more decisively.

JEREMIAS H. TOBIAS, jeremhech@gmail.com
x x x."

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/114801/address-supreme-courts-case-backlog#ixzz5MA9HJNMo
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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Declaration of nullity of marriage - "In a recent landmark ruling in Republic of the Philippines v. Marelyn Tanedo Manalo (GR 221029, April 24, 2018), the Supreme Court held that a foreign divorce secured by a Filipino is also considered valid in the Philippines, even if it is the Filipino spouse who files for divorce abroad."

See - https://businessmirror.com.ph/foreign-divorce-in-mixed-marriages/

"x x x.

Foreign divorce in mixed marriages
By Atty. Lorna Patajo-Kapunan
-July 15, 2018

In a recent landmark ruling in Republic of the Philippines v. Marelyn Tanedo Manalo (GR 221029, April 24, 2018), the Supreme Court held that a foreign divorce secured by a Filipino is also considered valid in the Philippines, even if it is the Filipino spouse who files for divorce abroad. With 10 Justices in favor, 3 Dissenting (Associate Justices del Castillo, Perlas-Bernabe, Caguioa) 1 Abstaining (Justice Jardeleza, then solicitor general) and former Chief Justice Sereno on leave, the Supreme Court affirmed the Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) Tenth Division that reversed a Dagupan Regional Trial Court (RTC) Decision, which ruled that “the kind of divorce recognized here in the Philippines are those validly obtained by the alien spouse abroad, not by the Filipino spouse pursuant to Article 26 of the Family Code.”

Petitioner was a certain Marelyn Tanedo Manalo who was married to a Japanese national, Minoru Yoshino. Manalo (not her Japanese husband) filed for and was granted divorce in Japan sometime in 2011. Manalo filed with a Dagupan RTC to have her Japanese divorce recognized in the Philippines. The RTC denied her Petition, which was subsequently reversed by the CA in 2014. The CA recognized the foreign divorce and ruled that Manalo had the right to remarry. The Supreme Court affirmed this CA Decision.

Excerpts from the Majority Decision penned by Justice Diosdado M. Peralta are herein quoted.

“Paragraph 2 of Article 26 speaks of “a divorce x x x validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry.” Based on a clear and plain reading of the provision, it only requires that there be a divorce validly obtained abroad. The letter of the law does not demand that the alien spouse should be the one who initiated the proceeding wherein the divorce decree was granted. It does not distinguish whether the Filipino spouse is the petitioner or the respondent in the foreign divorce proceeding. The Court is bound by the words of the statute xxx .”

“The purpose of Paragraph 2 of Article 26 is to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after a foreign divorce decree that is effective in the country where it was rendered, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse. The provision is a corrective measure to address an anomaly where the Filipino spouse is tied to the marriage while the foreign spouse is free to marry under the laws of his or her country. Whether the Filipino spouse initiated the foreign divorce proceeding or not, a favorable decree dissolving the marriage bond and capacitating his or her alien spouse to remarry will have the same result: The Filipino spouse will effectively be without a husband or wife. A Filipino who initiated a foreign divorce proceeding is in the same place and in like circumstance as a Filipino who is at the receiving end of an alien initiated proceeding. Therefore, the subject provision should not make a distinction. In both instance, it is extended as a means to recognize the residual effect of the foreign divorce decree on Filipinos whose marital ties to their alien spouses are severed by operation of the latter’s national law.

“On the contrary, there is no real and substantial difference between a Filipino who initiated foreign divorce proceedings and a Filipino who obtained a divorce decree upon the instance of his or her alien spouse. In the eyes of the Philippine and foreign laws, both are considered as Filipinos who have the same rights and obligations in an alien land. The circumstances surrounding them are alike. Were it not for Paragraph 2 of Article 26, both are still married to their foreigner spouses who are no longer their wives/husbands. Hence, to make a distinction between them based merely on the superficial difference of whether they initiated the divorce proceedings or not is utterly unfair. Indeed, the treatment gives undue favor to one and unjustly discriminate against the other. x x x”

“To be sure, a good number of the Filipinos led by the Roman Catholic Church react adversely to any attempt to enact a law on absolute divorce, viewing it as contrary to our customs, morals and traditions that has looked upon marriage and family as an institution and their nature of permanence, inviolability and solidarity. However, none of our laws should be based on any religious law, doctrine or teaching; otherwise, the separation of Church and State will be violated.”

In a separate Concurring Opinion, Justice Marvic Leonen, underscored the reality that it is the Filipino wife who is prejudiced if Article 26 of our Family Code is given “an interpretation which capacitates and empowers the Japanese husband the option to divorce and how such choice has effects in our country while, at the same time, disallowing the Filipina wife from being able to do the same simply because she is a Filipina.”

“That interpretation may be unconstitutional. Article II, Section 14 of our Constitution provides:

Section 14. The State recognizes the role of women in nation-building, and shall ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men.

“This constitutional fiat advances the notion of gender equality from its passive formulation in Article III, Section 1 to its more active orientation.

Indeed, our laws were never intended for the Filipino to be at a disadvantage. In the words of Justice Leonen, “to say that one spouse may divorce and the other may not contribute to patriarchy. It fosters an unequal relationship prone to abuse in such intimate relationship. The law is far from rigid. It should passionately guarantee equality.”

I fully agree with Justice Leonen and the majority opinion of Justice Peralta. But still, no amount of judicial activism can be a real substitute for an Absolute Divorce Law that has long been advocated by countless suffering wives chained to the shackles of loveless marriages with philandering and abusive husbands!

x x x."

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Meralco - 'The serious consequences on a consumer, whose electric supply has been cut off, behoove a distribution utility to strictly comply with the legal requisites before disconnection may be done,' says the Supreme Court.

See - https://www.rappler.com/nation/207350-supreme-court-power-firms-requirements-disconnection-consumers

"x x x.

SC to power firms: Heed requirements before disconnecting users

'The serious consequences on a consumer, whose electric supply has been cut off, behoove a distribution utility to strictly comply with the legal requisites before disconnection may be done,' says the Supreme Court


Published 5:01 PM, July 15, 2018
Updated 5:03 PM, July 15, 2018

SC'S REMINDER. The Supreme Court rules electric companies must strictly comply with legal requirements before charging or disconnecting customers. Supreme Court photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler, electric meter photo from Shutterstock, billing photo from Meralco

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) said electric companies must follow all legal requirements before they disconnect and charge consumers due to metering devices that were allegedly tampered with.

In a 22-page decision penned by SC Associate Justice Marvic Lenonen, the SC said companies cannot charge customers for electricity allegedly used but not yet charged, if the firms failed to inspect and repair electric meters.

"It is well-settled that electricity distribution utilities, which rely on mechanical devices and equipment for the orderly undertaking of their business, are duty-bound to make reasonable and proper periodic inspections of their equipment. If they are remiss in carrying out this duty due to their own negligence, they risk forfeiting the amounts owed by the customers affected," Lenonen said.

The decision stemmed from a case between Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and Nordec Philippines. Meralco had overbilled Nordec Philippines some P5,625 in 1987, though its electricity supply was switched off.

"It is also worth noting that during a third inspection on November 23, 1987, further irregularities in Nordec's metering devices were observed, showing electricity consumption even when Nordec's entire power supply equipment was switched off. Clearly, Meralco had been remiss in its duty as required by law and jurisprudence of a public utility," the SC said.

The SC said Meralco failed to comply with the 48-hour disconnection rule and to discover tampered and defective meters during the prescribed 4-moth inspection period. It also said Meralco was "duty-bound" to explain the basis for its billings.

"The serious consequences on a consumer, whose electric supply has been cut off, behoove a distribution utility to strictly comply with the legal requisites before disconnection may be done. This is all the more true considering Meralco's dominant position in the market compared to its customers' weak bargaining position," read the decision.

The SC ordered Meralco to pay Nordec the overbilled charges of P5,625 and P30,000 in nominal damages and costs of the suit. – Rappler.com

x x x."

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Confirmatory test in drug cases - Nothing in RA 9165 exclusively limit confirmatory tests to urine samples only. The law does not expressly and clearly prohibit confirmatory tests for the sachet and the shabu seized. This is a novel issue that the Philippine Judiciary must clarify and resolve.

The sachet and shabu searched and seized were likewise not subjected to mandatory confirmatory test.

Finally, the urine samples and the shabu itself admittedly did not undergo CONFIRMATORY TESTS. In fact, the trial court had acquitted the three accused in Crim. Case No. xxx [Sec. 15 (use of shabu), RA 9165] for lack of a confirmatory test by PCI xxx on the urine samples of the three accused.

The sachet and the shabu did not undergo confirmatory test via a scientific Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry [GCMS] chemical test. The theory that only urine sample must undergo initial screening and confirmatory tests is wrong, unfair and unjust.

The reading of the appellant xxx is that RA 9165 does not expressly prohibit the mandatory confirmatory tests of the sachets and shabu searched and seized. The law does not expressly limit the confirmatory test to the urine samples retrieved from the urinary system of the accused.

In the instant case, no confirmatory test was done on the sachet and the shabu [0.035 gram] using the mandatory GCMS instrument.

Section 15 of RA 9165 provides that “a person apprehended or arrested, who is found to be positive for use of any dangerous drug, after a confirmatory test, shall be imposed a penalty of a minimum of six (6) months rehabilitation in a government center for the first offense, subject to the provisions of Article VIII of this Act. Xxx.”

[The trial court had previously acquitted the three accused in Crim. Case No. xxx (Sec. 15, for alleged use of shabu, RA 9165) precisely because no confirmatory tests were conducted].

Sec. 38 of RA 9165 provides that “a positive screening laboratory test must be confirmed for it to be valid in a court of law.” The same section commands the use of “gas chromatograph/mass spectrometry equipment [GCMS] or some such modern and accepted method” for confirmatory tests.

Note that Sec. 3 [Definitions], Article I, of RA 9165 speaks only of “screening test”, which it defines as a “rapid test performed to establish potential/presumptive positive result”. The section does not speak of “confirmatory tests” expressly.

Nothing in RA 9165 exclusively limit confirmatory tests to urine samples only. The law does not expressly and clearly prohibit confirmatory tests for the sachet and the shabu seized.

This is a novel issue that the Philippine Judiciary must clarify and resolve.

Presumption of innocence; Section 14, Art. III of the 1987 Constitution provides that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be PRESUMED INNOCENT UNTIL THE CONTRARY IS PROVED.”

The trial court erred in finding that the appellant was guilty “beyond reasonable doubt” of the crimes charged.

The appellant was not the owner and possessor of the nontransparent/opaque tubular container which contained the alleged prohibited drug and paraphernalia. His testimony thereon was clear, sincere, positive and forthright. He was corroborated on that point by a credible witness, xxx, whose testimony was admitted by the prosecutor and who was not subjected to cross examination by the prosecutor. The corroborating testimony of xxx in favor of the appellant xxx stands uncontested and uncontroverted by the prosecution. There was no credible factual and legal basis “beyond reasonable doubt” to convict the appellant for alleged violation of Sec. 11 [possession of shabu] of RA 9165 in Crim. Case No. xxx [appealed case].

Besides, the appellant was not performing a criminal activity at the time of his warrantless arrest. He and his companions were merely drinking softdrinks. The illegally confiscated items, which were the “fruits of the poisonous tree”, should have been rejected by the trial court for being inadmissible, unconstitutional, illegal and prejudicial to the constitutional and human rights of the appellant [a] to substantive due process of law, [b] to equal protection of the law, [c] to presumption of innocence, and [d] to privacy and to his right against unreasonable search and seizure.

Article III [Bill of Rights] of the 1987 Constitution enshrines the basic constitutional principle of the PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE. The prosecution has the heavy burden of proof to overcome such constitutionally cherished doctrine.

Section 14, Art. III of the 1987 Constitution provides that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be PRESUMED INNOCENT UNTIL THE CONTRARY IS PROVED.”

The case of EDMUND SYDECO y SIONZON vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 202692, November 12, 2014 is instructive. It held that “conviction must come only after it survives the test of reason” and that “every circumstance favoring one’s innocence be duly considered”. It further held that “in case of doubt as to the MORAL CERTAINTY OF CULPABILITY, the balance tips in favor of innocence” and that “the burden of proving the guilt of an accused lies on the prosecution which must rely on the strength of its evidence and NOT ON THE WEAKNESS OF THE DEFENSE”. It furthermore held that “the blind reliance and simplistic invocation by the trial court and the CA on the presumption of regularity in the conduct of police duty is clearly misplaced”. It emphasized that “the presumption of regularity [in the conduct of police duty] is merely just that, a presumption disputable by contrary proof and which when challenged by the evidence cannot be regarded as binding truth” and that “this presumption [of regularity in the conduct of police duty] alone CANNOT PREPONDERATE OVER THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE that prevails if not overcome by proof that obliterates all doubts as to the offender’s culpability”.

Under the EQUIPOISE RULE, when the inculpatory and the exculpatory evidence are equal, the constitutional presumption of innocence tilts the balance in favor of the accused.

In the case of FRANCISCO M. LECAROZ and LENLIE LECAROZ, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 130872, March 25, 1999, it was held that “the principle of equipoise demands that if the inculpatory facts and circumstances are capable of two or more explanations, one of which is consistent with the innocence of the accused and the other with his guilt, then the evidence does not fulfill the test of moral certainty and is not sufficient to support a conviction”.

Chain of custody of evidence in drug cases; Sec. 21, RA 9165 - “Law enforcers should not trifle with the legal requirement to ensure integrity in the chain of custody of seized dangerous drugs and drug paraphernalia. This is especially true when only a miniscule amount of dangerous drugs is alleged to have been taken from the accused.”

The trial court erred in holding that the provisions on “chain of custody of evidence” stated in Sec. 21 of RA 9165 were complied with by the concerned seizing, arresting and crime laboratory police officers involved in the three [3] criminal cases.

The handling of the chain of custody of evidence in the instant cases by the xxx police officers [seizing, arresting and crime laboratory officers] was improper, tainted, dubious, defective and prejudicial to the constitutional rights of the appellant xxx. PO1 xxx [seizing officer] acted as one-man seizing officer-cum-evidence custodian. He brought home the seized evidence, kept them at his house, did not endorse them to the evidence custodian of the police station, put them in the common cabinet being used by him and his wife, and exposed the evidence to questionable human interventions. Further, the chain of custody of evidence form was signed only by PO1 xxx and PO2  xxx . The chain of custody of evidence from PO2 xxx to PCI xxx [forensic chemist] was not documented. The evidence custodian of the PNP regional crime laboratory in xxx likewise did not sign the chain of custody of evidence form.

In the case of PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ROBERTO HOLGADO Y DELA CRUZ AND ANTONIO MISAREZ Y ZARAGA, Accused-Appellants, G.R. No. 207992, August 11, 2014, the Supreme Court held that:

“Law enforcers should not trifle with the legal requirement to ensure integrity in the chain of custody of seized dangerous drugs and drug paraphernalia. This is especially true when only a miniscule amount of dangerous drugs is alleged to have been taken from the accused.”

The Supreme Court held therein that: “Compliance with the chain of custody requirement provided by Section 21 [of RA 9165, as amended by RA 10640][1], therefore, ensures the integrity of confiscated, seized, and/or surrendered drugs and/or drug paraphernalia in four (4) respects: first, the nature of the substances or items seized; second, the quantity (e.g., weight) of the substances or items seized; third, the relation of the substances or items seized to the incident allegedly causing their seizure; and fourth, the relation of the substances or items seized to the person/s alleged to have been in possession of or peddling them. Compliance with this requirement forecloses opportunities for planting, contaminating, or tampering of evidence in any manner.”

In the aforecited jurisprudence, the Supreme Court noted that “apart from the officers’ glaring non-compliance with Section 21, two (2) circumstances are worth underscoring in this case. First, the shabu supposedly seized amounted to five (5) centigrams (0.05 gram). This quantity is so miniscule it amounts to only about 2.5% of the weight of a five-centavo coin (1.9 grams) or a one-centavo coin (2.0 grams). Second, Holgado and Misarez were acquitted by the Regional Trial Court of all other charges (i.e., for possession of dangerous drugs and for possession of drug paraphernalia).”

Similarly, in the instant appeal, the appellant xxx was convicted for a miniscule quantity of 0.035 gram.

The Supreme Court stated in the aforecited case that “while the miniscule amount of narcotics seized is by itself not a ground for acquittal, this circumstance underscores the need for more exacting compliance with Section 21”. It added that “the likelihood of tampering, loss or mistake with respect to an exhibit is greatest when the exhibit is small and is one that has physical characteristics fungible in nature and similar in form to substances familiar to people in their daily lives.”

Moreover, the Supreme Court stated that “the Regional Trial Court’s observations which led to accused-appellants’ acquittal for violations of Sections 11 and 12 of Republic Act No. 9165 should have warned the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals that something was amiss.”


[1] Section 21 of RA 9165, as amended by RA 10640, is reproduced below:

“SEC. 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory Equipment. – The PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment so confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for proper disposition in the following manner:

1. The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, conduct a physical inventory of the seized items and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, with an elected public official and a representative of the National Prosecution Service or the media who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof: Provided, That the physical inventory and photograph shall be conducted at the place where the search warrant is served; or at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable, in case of warrantless seizures: Provided, finally, That noncompliance of these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures and custody over said items.

2. Within twenty-four (24) hours upon confiscation/seizure of dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment, the same shall be submitted to the PDEA Forensic Laboratory for a qualitative and quantitative examination;

3. A certification of the forensic laboratory examination results, which shall be done by the forensic laboratory examiner, shall be issued immediately upon the receipt of the subject item/s: Provided, That when the volume of dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, and controlled precursors and essential chemicals does not allow the completion of testing within the time frame, a partial laboratory examination report shall be provisionally issued stating therein the quantities of dangerous drugs still to be examined by the forensic laboratory: Provided, however, That a final certification shall be issued immediately upon completion of the said examination and certification[.].”

Arrest and search; waiver. - “A waiver of an illegal arrest, however, is not a waiver of an illegal search. ⁠ Records have established that both the arrest and the search were made without a warrant. While the accused has already waived his right to contest the legality of his arrest, he is not deemed to have equally waived his right to contest the legality of the search.”

The trial court erred in holding that the seized items were admissible in evidence. It erred in not upholding the doctrine of the “fruit of the poisonous tree”. The two [2] foregoing errors are discussed jointly below, they being interrelated.

Evidence that is acquired illegally by police officers [in violation of the constitutional, human and statutory rights of an accused] are inadmissible in evidence.

Sec. 2, Art. III, Bill of Rights, 1987 Constitution provides that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURES OF WHATEVER NATURE AND FOR ANY PURPOSE shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon PROBABLE CAUSE to be determined personally by the JUDGE after examination under oath or affirmation of the COMPLAINANT AND THE WITNESSES he may produce, and PARTICULARLY DESCRIBING the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized”.

Section 3 of Article III of the 1987 Constitution provides that “any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be INADMISSIBLE FOR ANY PURPOSE IN ANY PROCEEEDING.”

In the case of DANILO VILLANUEVA Y ALCARAZ VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 199042, November 17, 2014, the Supreme Court held that although the appellant was estopped from questioning the legality of his arrest because he failed to file a motion to quash the Information, nonetheless, a waiver of an illegal arrest is not a waiver of an illegal search, thus:

“A waiver of an illegal arrest, however, is not a waiver of an illegal search. ⁠ Records have established that both the arrest and the search were made without a warrant. While the accused has already waived his right to contest the legality of his arrest, he is not deemed to have equally waived his right to contest the legality of the search.”

The Supreme Court enumerated in the aforecited case the recognized instances where warrantless searches and seizures may be done by law enforcers:

(1) search of a moving vehicle;

(2) seizure in plain view;

(3) customs search;

(4) waiver or consented search;

(5) stop-and-frisk situation;

(6) search incidental to a lawful arrest and

(7) exigent and emergency circumstance. ⁠

Note that in the case of the herein appellant xxx, the contents of the tubular plastic container were NOT IN PLAIN VIEW because the container was nontransparent or opaque. The contents thereof could not be seen without first forcibly seizing and searching the container. That was exactly what happened in the instant case. The xxx policemen approached the appellant Deseo and his companions while they were drinking softdrinks in front of a store. The seizing officer xxx demanded that the appellant Deseo give to him the tubular container. The appellant xxx refused. Psywar threat and force were applied by the police. They forcibly pulled from the appellant xxx the tubular container that he was allegedly holding. They opened it. Then, they arrested him and his two companions. There was no probable cause to search and to arrest. A tip from an asset is not “personal knowledge”. Neither is it “probable cause.”

In the aforecited jurisprudence, the Supreme Court held:

“The search made was not among the enumerated instances. Certainly, it was not of a moving vehicle, a customs search, or a search incidental to a lawful arrest. There could not have been a seizure in plain view as the seized item was allegedly found inside the left pocket of accused-appellant’s pants. Neither was it a stop-and-frisk situation. While this type may seemingly fall under the consented search exception, we reiterate that “[c]onsent to a search is not to be lightly inferred but shown by clear and convincing evidence. ⁠

Consent must also be voluntary to validate an otherwise illegal search; that is, the consent must be unequivocal, specific, intelligently given, and uncontaminated by any duress or coercion. In this case, petitioner was merely “ordered” to take out the contents of his pocket.”

The Supreme Court held in the aforecited jurisprudence that the evidence obtained was not admissible. It was a case of a seizure of a “fruit of a poisonous tree.” It was inadmissible in evidence, citing Sec. 3 [2], Art. III, Bill of Rights, of the 1987 Constitution.

“Having been obtained through an unlawful search, the seized item is thus inadmissible in evidence against accused-appellant. Obviously, this is an instance of seizure of the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Hence, the confiscated item is inadmissible in evidence consonant with Article III, Section 3(2) of the 1987 Constitution: “Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.” ⁠ Without the seized item, therefore, the conviction of accused-appellant cannot be sustained. This being the case, we see no more reason to discuss the alleged lapses of the officers in the handling of the confiscated drug.”

Arrest without warrant; when lawful; Sec. 5, Rule 113, Rules of Criminal Procedure.

The trial court erred in holding that the “warrantless arrest” and the “warrantless search” of the appellant was lawful and that the policemen had sufficient “probable cause” to apply Rule 113 [lawful warrantless arrest] of the Rules of Criminal Procedure.

The appellant and his companions were not performing a criminal activity at the time of their warrantless arrest. They were merely drinking softdrinks in front of a store [which was not a crime]. The police arrested them purely based on an unauthenticated and unverified tip from an unnamed and unidentified asset. A tip is not personal knowledge. It does not constitute sufficient probable cause. Otherwise, our democratic republic would retrogress into a totalitarian police state.

Sec. 5, Rule 113 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure provides for the limited instances when warrantless arrests may be made by police officers or citizens:

Section 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. — A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;

(b) When an offense has just been committed, and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and

(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or is temporarily confined while his case is pending or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.”

None of the foregoing limited instances of lawful warrantless arrest and search were present when the appellant Deseo was arrested by the Aparri policemen.

In the case of ERNESTO J. SAN AGUSTIN, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent, G.R. No. 158211, August 31, 2004, the Supreme Court held that the petitioner therein was unlawfully arrested without a warrant of arrest against him for kidnapping/serious illegal detention because his warrantless arrest or the detention did not fall within the provision of Section 5, Rule 113. In that case the petitioner only went to the Office of the NBI to answer the subpoena. The “arresting” officers were not present within the meaning of Section 5(a) of Rule 113 at the time when the supposed crime was allegedly committed. None of the “arresting” officers had any “personal knowledge” of facts indicating that petitioner was the person who kidnapped/detained the victim. More importantly, the Supreme Court held in the aforecited case that “the information upon which the ‘arresting’ officers acted upon had been derived from the statements made by the alleged eyewitnesses to the incident which information did not, however, constitute personal knowledge”.

Possession of less than five grams of shabu; penalty; Sec. 11, RA 9165

Section 11 of RA 9165, possession of shabu:

“Sec. 11. Possession of Dangerous Drugs. - The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized by law, shall possess any dangerous drug in the following quantities, regardless of the degree of purity thereof:

(1) xxx;

(2) xxx;

(3) xxx;

(4) xxx;

(5) 50 grams or more of methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu";

(6) xxx;

(7) xxx;

(8) xxx;

Otherwise, if the quantity involved is less than the foregoing quantities, the penalties shall be graduated as follows:

(1) Life imprisonment and a fine ranging from Four hundred thousand pesos (P400,000.00) to Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00), if the quantity of methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu" is ten (10) grams or more but less than fifty (50) grams;

(2) xxx;

(3) Imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and a fine ranging from Three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00) to Four hundred thousand pesos (P400,000.00), if the quantities of dangerous drugs are less than five (5) grams of xxx xxx methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu", or other dangerous drugs xxx xxx.”

The equipoise rule states that where the inculpatory facts and circumstances are capable of two or more explanations, one of which is consistent with the innocence of the accused and the other consistent with his guilt, then the evidence does not fulfil the test of moral certainty and is not sufficient to support a conviction. The equipoise rule provides that where the evidence in a criminal case is evenly balanced, the constitutional, presumption of innocence tilts the scales in favor of the accused. ⁠

The equipoise rule provides that when the prosecution evidence is capable of both inculpatory and exculpatory interpretation, the constitutional presumption of innocence tilts the balance in favor of the acquittal of the accused.


“x x x.

The equipoise rule states that where the inculpatory facts and circumstances are capable of two or more explanations, one of which is consistent with the innocence of the accused and the other consistent with his guilt, then the evidence does not fulfil the test of moral certainty and is not sufficient to support a conviction. The equipoise rule provides that where the evidence in a criminal case is evenly balanced, the constitutional, presumption of innocence tilts the scales in favor of the accused. ⁠

The basis of the acquittal is reasonable doubt, which simply means that the evidence of the prosecution was not sufficient to sustain the guilt of accused-appellant beyond the point of moral certainty. Proof beyond reasonable doubt, however, is a burden particular to the prosecution and does not apply to exculpatory facts as may be raised by the defense; the accused is not required to establish matters in mitigation or defense beyond a reasonable doubt, nor is he required to establish the truth of such matters by a preponderance of the evidence, or even to a reasonable probability. ⁠

It is the primordial duty of the prosecution to present its side with clarity and persuasion, so that conviction becomes the only logical and inevitable conclusion. What is required of it is to justify the conviction of the accused with moral certainty. Upon the prosecution’s failure to meet this test, acquittal becomes the constitutional duty of the Court, lest its mind be tortured with the thought that it has imprisoned an innocent man for the rest of his life. ⁠ The constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty can be overthrown only by proof beyond reasonable doubt. ⁠

In the final analysis, the circumstances narrated by the prosecution engender doubt rather than moral certainty on the guilt of accused-appellant.

X x x.”

The prosecution must overthrow the presumption of innocence with proof beyond reasonable doubt.

"(A)ccusation is not according to the fundamental law, synonymous with guilt; the prosecution must overthrow the presumption of innocence with proof beyond reasonable doubt. To meet this standard, there is a need for the careful scrutiny of the testimony for the state, both oral and documentary, independently of whatever defense is offered by the accused. Only if the judge below and the appellate tribunal could arrive at a conclusion that the crime had been committed precisely by the person on trial thereof under such an exacting test should sentence be one of conviction. It is thus required that every circumstance favoring his innocence be duly taken into account. The proof against him must survive the test of reason, the strongest suspicion must not be permitted to sway judgment."[People vs. Dramayo, 42 SCRA 60]

Where there is reasonable doubt, the accused must be acquitted

In criminal cases, to justify a conviction, the culpability of an accused must be established by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of proof is on the prosecution, as the accused enjoys a constitutionally enshrined disputable presumption of innocence. The court, in ascertaining the guilt of an accused, must, after having marshaled the facts and circumstances, reach a moral certainty as to the accused’s guilt. Moral certainty is that degree of proof which produces conviction in an unprejudiced mind. Otherwise, where there is reasonable doubt, the accused must be acquitted (Caunan vs. People of the Philippines and Sandiganbayan G.R. Nos 181999, 182001-04, 02 September 2009).

Conspiracy explained.

Antonino vs. Desierto, G.R. No. 1444492,18 December 2008:
“For it is fundamental that conspiracy cannot be presumed. Conspiracy must be proved by direct evidence or by proof of the overt acts of the accused, before, during and after the commission of the crime charged indicative of a common design.”

Bahilidad vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 185195, 17 March 2010:
“There is conspiracy when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. Conspiracy is not presumed. Like the physical acts constituting the crime itself, the elements of conspiracy must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. While conspiracy need not be established by direct evidence, for it may be inferred from the conduct of the accused before, during and after the commission of the crime, all taken together, however, the evidence must be strong enough to show the community of criminal design. For conspiracy to exist, it is essential that there must be a conscious design to commit an offense. Conspiracy is the product of intentionality on the part of the cohorts.

It is necessary that a conspirator should have performed some overt act as a direct or indirect contribution to the execution of the crime committed. The overt act may consist of active participation in the actual commission of the crime itself, or it may consist of moral assistance to his co-conspirators by being present at the commission of the crime or by exerting moral ascendancy over the other co-conspirators. Hence, the mere presence of an accused at the discussion of a conspiracy, even approval of it, without any active participation in the same, is not enough for purposes of conviction.”

Bad faith; Section 3 (e), R.A. 3019.

Dr. Roger R. Posadas, et al. vs. Sandiganbayan and People of the Philippines, G.R. Nos. 168951 and 169000, 27 November 2013:

“The bad faith that Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 requires, said this Court, does not simply connote bad judgment or negligence. It imputes a dishonest purpose, some moral obliquity, and a conscious doing of a wrong. Indeed, it partakes of the nature of fraud.”

Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019, “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act

Bustillo, et al. vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 160718, 12 May 2010

In order to be liable for violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or otherwise known as the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the following elements must concur:

“(1) that the accused are public officers or private persons charged in conspiracy with them;

“(2) that said public officers commit the prohibited acts during the performance of their official duties in relation to their public positions;

“(3) that they caused undue injury to any party whether the Government or a private party;

“(4) that such injury is caused by giving unwarranted benefits, advantage, or preference to such parties; and

“(5) that the public officers have acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence.

Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS).

Section 8.5. of the 2016 Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9184 provides:

"x x x.

8.5. Registration, Eligibility Requirements and Submission of Bids under the PhilGEPS

8.5.1. To ensure the widest dissemination of the Invitation to Bid/Request for Expression of Interest, manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, contractors and/or consultants shall register with the PhilGEPS. All Procuring Entities already maintaining an electronic registry upon the effectivity of this IRR shall integrate the same with that of the PhilGEPS. A manufacturer, supplier, distributor, contractor or consultant duly registered with the PhilGEPS may participate in a procurement undertaken by any Procuring Entity, provided that the said manufacturer, supplier, distributor, contractor or consultant maintains its registration current and updated in accordance with the provisions of this IRR, and its registration is proper and relevant to the particular type of procurement.

8.5.2. All bidders shall upload and maintain in PhilGEPS a current and updated file of the following Class “A” eligibility documents under Sections 23.1(a) and 24.1(a):

a) Registration Certificate;

b) Mayor’s/Business Permit or its Equivalent Document;

c) Tax Clearance;

d) Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board (PCAB) license and registration; and

e) Audited Financial Statements


Compeent proof of overpricing, Sec. 3 [g], R.A. 3019, anti-graft and corrupt practices act

Caunan vs. People of the Philippines and Sandiganbayan G.R. Nos 181999, 182001-04, 02 September 2009:

"x x x.

We agree with petitioners that the fact of overpricing is embedded in the third criminal element of Section 3 (g) of R.A. No. 3019. Given the factual milieu of this case, the subject contracts would be grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government if characterized by an overpriced procurement. However, the gross and manifest disadvantage to the government was not sufficiently shown because the conclusion of overpricing was erroneous since it was not also adequately proven. Thus, we grant the petitions.

x x x.

In finding that the walis tingting purchase contracts were grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government, the Sandiganbayan relied on the COA’s finding of overpricing which was, in turn, based on the special audit team’s report. The audit team’s conclusion on the standard price of a walis tingting was pegged on the basis of the following documentary and object evidence: (1) samples of walis tingting without handle actually used by the street sweepers; (2) survey forms on the walis tingting accomplished by the street sweepers; (3) invoices from six merchandising stores where the audit team purchased walis tingting; (4) price listing of the DBM Procurement Service; and (5) documents relative to the walis tingting purchases of Las Piñas City. These documents were then compared with the documents furnished by petitioners and the other accused relative to Parañaque City’s walis tingting transactions.

Notably, however, and this the petitioners have consistently pointed out, the evidence of the prosecution did not include a signed price quotation from the walis tingting suppliers of Parañaque City. In fact, even the walis tingting furnished the audit team by petitioners and the other accused was different from the walis tingting actually utilized by the Parañaque City street sweepers at the time of ocular inspection by the audit team. At the barest minimum, the evidence presented by the prosecution, in order to substantiate the allegation of overpricing, should have been identical to the walis tingting purchased in 1996-1998. Only then could it be concluded that the walis tingting purchases were disadvantageous to the government because only then could a determination have been made to show that the disadvantage was so manifest and gross as to make a public official liable under Section 3(g) of R.A. No. 3019.

x x x.

The reasoning of the Sandiganbayan is specious and off tangent. The audit team reached a conclusion of gross overpricing based on documents which, at best, would merely indicate the present market price of walis tingting of a different specification, purchased from a non-supplier of Parañaque City, and the price of walis tingting purchases in Las Piñas City. Effectively, the prosecution was unable to demonstrate the requisite burden of proof, i.e., proof beyond  reasonable doubt, in order to overcome the presumption of innocence in favor of petitioners.

As pointed out by petitioner Caunan, not all of the contents of the audit team’s report constituted hearsay. Indeed, as declared by the Sandiganbayan, Bermudez could very well testify thereon since the conclusions reached therein were made by her and her team. However, these conclusions were based on incompetent evidence. Most obvious would be the market price of walis tingting in Las Piñas City which was used as proof of overpricing in Parañaque City. The prosecution should have presented evidence of the actual price of the particular walis tingting purchased by petitioners and the other accused at the time of the audited transaction or, at the least, an approximation thereof. Failing in these, there is no basis to declare that there was a glaring overprice resulting in gross and manifest disadvantage to the government. 

x x x."

Sec. 3 [g], R.A. No.3019, anti-graft and corrupt practices act.

In order to be liable for violation of Section 3 (g) of Republic Act No. 3019, or otherwise known as the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the following elements must concur:

(1) that the accused is a public officer;

(2) that he entered into a contract or transaction on behalf of the government; and

(3) that such contract or transaction is grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government.

(Caunan vs. People of the Philippines and Sandiganbayan G.R. Nos 181999, 182001-04, 02 September 2009)

Friday, July 13, 2018

Philippines has become "a willing victim" and "an abettor" of China, two years after Manila won its landmark case against Beijing over the South China Sea.

See - www.rappler.com

"x x x.

Del Rosario: PH 'a willing victim' 2 years after Hague ruling

'Before we can hope for help, we must first demonstrate that we are worth helping,' says former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario on the second anniversary of the Philippines' South China Sea victory

By Paterno Esmaquel II
Published 10:36 AM, July 12, 2018
Updated 12:21 AM, July 13, 2018


MANILA, Philippines – Former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario lamented that the Philippines has become "a willing victim" and "an abettor" of China, two years after Manila won its landmark case against Beijingover the South China Sea.

Del Rosario posed 3 questions, and presented answers, in a forum on Thursday, July 12, to mark the second anniversary of the Hague ruling.

In a prepared speech, Del Rosario said (points of emphasis his):

First question: What may we call one that acquiesces to the abuses against it?


Second question: What may we call one that defends an aggressor at every opportunity?


Third question: What may we call ONE THAT GAMBLES THE RIGHTFUL PATRIMONY OF ITS FUTURE GENERATIONS for unlikely gains in the present?

Answer: Sorry, I cannot help you. That is for each of you to ponder.

Del Rosario said: "We need all of our friends in the community of nations who believe in the rule of law to help us. But before we can hope for help, we must first demonstrate that we are worth helping."

China 'a bully,' 'grand larcenist'

Del Rosario blasted China as "a bully," "a grand larcenist," and "an international outlaw."

He said:

First question: What should we call one that uses muscle to deprive others of their rights?

Answer: A BULLY

Second question: What should we call one that unlawfully takes a significant property of others?


Third question: What should we call one that refuses the rule of international law?


While the Philippines won a decisive victory against China on July 12, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has refused to enforce it because the Philippines is seeking economic gains from Beijing.

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio criticized the Duterte administration's "inexplicable reluctance" to enforce the Hague ruling, and the way it "incomprehensibly decided to befriend" China "at all costs."

Del Rosario said that "there is still time for our country to do what is right for our people."

Del Rosario presented a broad range of solutions – from multilateralism at the United Nations or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to bilateral engagements with other states, or all of the above.

He noted that "coercive diplomacy has no place in a rules-based international order."

"As Filipinos, we must voice our sentiments to our government and exercise our right to raise our indignation against China," Del Rosario said. – Rappler.com

x x x."

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