Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court

Books piled on my table summons my attention to read them. I took  advantage of my long weekend break to try  to finish my affair with them.

Edmond Rostand’s romantic work Cyrano de Bergerac never fails to amuse me. It’s one of my favorite. I was feeling sullen last Thursday, and funny that I chose to reread Cyrano . And yes, I ended up feeling more melancholic.  Talk about love and its complexities. Sometimes love is not all about happy endings.

Nina Garcia’s The little Black Book of Style and The  Style Strategy  are sure hit and useful for me. I am no fashion expert, so I thank her for  the tips and basics about clothes, shoes, accessories, and her emphasis on finding  our own tailor =p.  As a result, I’m now in search for that right person to bespoke my clothes =)

Someone Cares by Helen Rice Steiner and Praying  Through Life’s problems are gifts from my sister. The former is a collection of poems and the latter is a collection of inspirational essays. They are both inspirational and comforting. Very timely for lent.

Okay, perhaps the most interesting among them all is the Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court by Marites Danguilan-Vitug. Being a mosa, I want to know why  the book is controversial.

Why so-called controversial?

1. Publishers and financiers have backed out because the book is “too hot to handle”. It tackle sensitive issues pertaining to the Supreme Court.

2. Marites Vitug, the author, according to news, has received death threats after the successful release of her book.  Watch news here.

3. National Bookstore refused to carry the book in their stores. – Btw, I bought mine at Fully Booked in Rockwell, I asked for the paperback but their customer representative told  me : “sold out na po, hardbound na lang”, he even added, “kame lang po ang matapang na naglabas sa controversial na book na yan”. My silent reaction? naks =p

The book is indeed fearless, provocative, and  controversial. It makes some strong allegations against notable supreme court justices. The book seeks to reveal the manipulation of court processes by the Magistrates; how culture works inside the Supreme court. I must admit that in one sitting, I was glued reading  pages after pages. Wow! ang tapang talaga ng author. I found pleasure reading the book but I also have my reservations.  The book tells so much about our present Supreme Court Justice Reynato Puno- two  chapters  (pages145-192) are  exclusively devoted about him: The Chameleon and Puno’s Quest.

On page 173 of her book, Vitug wrote ” His [CJPuno] has been a two-chambered personality: one is where his lofty principles stay, and the other where personal interests reside, and neither collides with the other”.

Again, I say the book is fearless.

2010 Election: Bilog na Hugis Itlog

Copy of sample ballot, downloaded from COMELEC website.

The most anticipated  automated election is coming two months from now, for the very first time Philippines  will say goodbye to mano-mano system of electing local and national leaders.  May the COMELEC successfully implement the full automated election nationwide? Let’s hope against hope that fair, clean, and honest election will be achieved; It’s high time and we Filipinos deserve it.  I am really struggling to set aside my cynicism against COMELEC this time.

As we embrace this modern electoral process, we, the voters should take time to be educated and acquainted with the new system of voting.

I am sure that everybody is familiar with the infomercial “Bilog na Hugis Itlog” by Sexbomb.  If one would internalize the lyrics, the instructions on how to vote  this coming 2010 will help us to prepare ourselves to this new process.

Instructional video: 2010 Automated Election

Aside from the infomercial, it is noteworthy that voter should refrain from making unnecessary markings so as not to render the ballot spoiled.  No folding and refolding because optical scanner may avoid the ballot. Avoid bringing foods and beverages inside the voting precinct, just to ensure that while marking the ballot, ambiguous marks will be prevented. Definitely no smudging and as much as possible take reasonable time to shade, to avoid erasures.

A voter is entitled to one ballot only; COMELEC will not grant a replacement ballot when one makes a mistake in shading his/her ballot.  Take a reasonable time to vote, be wary of mistakes, smudges, folds, erasures, and ambiguous marks. Let us take our  part to attain genuine and trustworthy election.

Lito Lapid on Legal Assistance to the Poor

Press Release
January 28, 2010

Senate approves Lapid bill on free legal services to the poor

The Senate has passed Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid’s proposal that grants legal assistance to the poor and gives lawyers tax credits for legal services rendered to poor clients.

SB 2361, or the Legal Assistance to the Poor Act of 2010, will encourage more lawyers and law firms to render pro bono services to poor clients who cannot afford lawyers by giving them tax credits for these free legal services.

The law grants an allowable tax deduction of up to ten percent of the gross income of lawyers or law firms accredited by the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to render service to the poor in exchange for the tax deductions.

SB 2361 was passed by the Senate last Wednesday, and the bill was co-authored by Sen. Lapid and Sen. Francis Escudero.

Lapid thanked his colleagues for recognizing the need to encourage more private lawyers to do pro bono work so they can help unburden the Public Attorney’s Office.

Lapid also said the law would preclude the wrongful conviction of suspects just because they are poor and cannot afford the legal services of lawyers.

“Nung gobernador pa ako, may nakilala akong nakakulong sa Pampanga Provincial Jail na limang taon ng nakakulong na ang tanging kasalanan lamang n’ya’y nambato ng ilaw sa poste. Wala siyang pambayad ng abugado kaya naisipan kong magpanukala ng ganitong batas dahil naramdaman ko na dapat mayroon akong magawa upang hindi na mangyari ang ganoon,” Lapid said.

Lapid’s legislative work in the Senate also includes the passage of numerous bills enacted into law which he either, principally authored or co-authored.

These laws include the Cheaper Medicines Law which cut the prices of the most useful medicines. Lapid worked as co-author of the consolidated bill that has become the Cheaper Medicines Law. He is also the principal author of the law which made Arnis a national martial art sport.

Lapid is also ranked No. 4 among all senators in the number of bills filed before the Senate with a total of 398 bills and resolutions.

Source for the news.


By the way, I will never vote for Lito Lapid . Part the of the taxes that I pay goes to the government, perphaps small portion of it will be allocated to government official’s salary. I don’t  pay taxes, to cover the salary of  a useless senators. Please no showbiz personalities in the Senate.  Today, I have learned from the news that Jinggoy and Bong Revilla are topping the survey for senatorial race; I cannot help but to react! (violently). Argh!


The  legal assistance to the poor bill was already signed into law by PGMA last February 23, 2010.

Republic of the Philippines
Metro Manila

Fourteenth Congress
Third Regular Session

Begun and held in Metro Manila, on Monday, the twenty-seventh day of July, two thousand nine.



Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

Section 1. Short Title. – This Act shall be known as the “Free Legal Assistance Act of 2010”.

Section 2. Declaration of Policy. – It is the declared policy of the State to value the dignity of every human person and guarantee the rights of every individual, particularly those who cannot afford the services of legal counsel.

Furthermore, it is the policy of the State to promote a just and dynamic social order that will ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation and free the people from poverty through policies and programs that provide adequate social services and improve the quality of life for all.

In addition, the State shall guarantee free legal assistance to the poor and ensure that every person who cannot afford the services of a counsel is provided with a competent and independent counsel preferably of his/her own choice, if upon determination it appears that the party cannot afford the services of a counsel, and that services of a counsel are necessary to secure the ends of justice and protect of the party.

Section 3. Definition of Terms. – As provided for in this Act, the term legal services to be performed by a lawyer refers to any activity which requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experiences which shall include, among others, legal advice and counsel, and the preparation of instruments and contracts, including appearance before the administrative and quasi-judicial offices, bodies and tribunals handling cases in court, and other similar services as may be defined by the Supreme Court.

Section 4. Requirements for Availment. – For purposes of availing of the benefits and services as envisioned in this Act, a lawyer or professional partnership shall secure a certification from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), the Department of Justice (DOJ) or accredited association of the Supreme Court indicating that the said legal services to be provided are within the services defined by the Supreme Court, and that the agencies cannot provide the legal services to be provided by the private counsel.

For purpose of determining the number of hours actually provided by the lawyer and/or professional firm in the provision of legal services, the association and/or organization duly accredited by the Supreme Court shall issue the necessary certification that said legal services were actually undertaken.

The certification issued by, among others, the PAO, the DOJ and other accredited association by the Supreme Court shall be submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for purposes of availing the tax deductions as provided for in this Act and to the DOJ for purposes of monitoring.

Section 5. Incentives to Lawyers. – For purposes of this Act, a lawyer or professional partnerships rendering actual free legal services, as defined by the Supreme Court, shall be entitled to an allowable deduction from the gross income, the amount that could have been collected for the actual free legal services rendered or up to ten percent (10%) of the gross income derived from the actual performance of the legal profession, whichever is lower: Provided, That the actual free legal services herein contemplated shall be exclusive of the minimum sixty (60)-hour mandatory legal aid services rendered to indigent litigants as required under the Rule on Mandatory Legal Aid Services for Practicing Lawyers, under BAR Matter No. 2012, issued by the Supreme Court.

Section 6. Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Campaign. – The DOJ, in cooperation with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), is hereby mandated to conduct an annual IEC campaign in order to inform the lawyers of the procedures and guidelines in availing tax deductions and inform the general public that a free legal assistance to those who cannot afford counsel is being provided by the State.1avvph!1

Section 7. Reportorial Requirement. – For purposes of determining the effectiveness and social impact of the provisions of this Act, the DOJ shall submit an annual report to both Houses of Congress indicating therewith the number of parties who benefited from this Act.

The report shall state in detail, among others, the geographic location, demographic characteristics and socioeconomic profile of the beneficiaries of this Act.

Section 8. Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). – Within ninety (90) days from the date effectivity of this Act, the BIR shall formulate the necessary revenue regulations for the proper implementation of the tax component as envisioned in this Act.

The Supreme Court shall formulate the necessary implementing rules and regulations with respect to the legal services covered under this Act and the process of accreditation of organizations and/or associations which will provide free legal assistance.

Section 9. Separability Clause. – If any provision of this Act is declared unconstitutional or invalid, the other provisions not affected by such declaration shall remain in full force and effect.

Section 10. Repealing Clause. – Any law, decree, ordinance or administrative circular not consistent with any provision of this Act is hereby amended, repealed or modified accordingly.

Section 11. Effectivity Clause. – This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its complete publication in the Official Gazette or in two (2) newspapers of general circulation.


Speaker of the House of Representatives
President of the Senate

This Act which is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 2361 and House Bill No. 4301 was finally passed by the Senate and the House of the Representatives on January 27, 2010 and January 26, 2010, respectively.

Secretary General
House of Represenatives
Secretary of Senate

Approved: FEB 23, 2010

President of the Philippines


Republic Act 9858

Here’s one beneficial legislation favoring legitimacy of a child, born to parents below marrying age.  What took our lawmakers so long to legislate this matter?

Republic of the Philippines
Congress of the Philippines

Metro Manila

Fourteenth Congress
Third Regular Session

Begun and held in Metro Manila, on Monday, the twenty-seventh day of July, two thousand nine.



Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

Section 1. Article 177 of Executive Order No. 209, otherwise known as the “Family Code of the Philippines”, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:

“Art. 177. Children conceived and born outside of wedlock of parents who, at the time of conception of the former, were not disqualified by any impediment to marry each other, or were so disqualified only because either or both of them were below eighteen (18) years of age, may be legitimated.”

“Art. 178. Legitimation shall take place by a subsequent valid marriage between parents. The annulment of a voidable marriage shall not affect the legitimation.”

Section 2. Implementing Rules. – The civil Registrar General shall, in consultation with the chairpersons of the Committee on Revision of Laws of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations of the Senate, the Council for the Welfare of Children, the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the office of the Supreme Court Administrator, the Philippine Association of Civil Registrars (PACR) and the UP Law Center, issue the necessary rules/regulations for the effective implementation of this Act not later than one (1) month from its effectivity.

Section 3. Repealing Clause. – All laws, presidential decrees, executive orders, proclamations and/or administrative regulations which are inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby amended, modified, superseded or repealed accordingly.

Section 4. Effectivity Clause. – This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its complete publication in the Official Gazette or in at least two (2) newspapers of national circulation.


President of the Senate
Speaker of the House of Representatives

This Act which is a consolidation of House Bill No. 5279 and Senate Bill No. 3111 was finally passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on October 13, 2009.

Secretary of the Senate
Secretary General House of Representaives


Approved: DEC 20, 2009

President of the Philippines

2012 : MALAS for Practicing Lawyers


No! I am not talking about tidal waves crashing over the Himalayas, geeky scientist, planetary alignment , mutation, and  planet earth blah blah.

Instead, I am referring to Bar Matter No. 2012 issued by Supreme Court last February. SC came up with Bar Matter No. 2012, in essence, it talks about Mandatory Legal Aid Service (MALAS) , a new requirement for those who  want to continue in the practice of law.  Accordingly, every practicing lawyer is required to render a minimum of sixty (60) hours of free legal aid services to indigent litigants in a year. Said 60 hours shall be spread within a period of twelve (12) months, with a minimum of five (5) hours of free legal aid services each month. Non-compliance would render the erring lawyer be declared a member of the IBP who is not in good standing

The BM 2012 is supposed to take effect on July 1, 2009, but its effectivity is deferred on January 1, 2010.

While, the objective is praiseworthy, many practicing lawyers have expressed their disapprovals. While five hours per month may seem not necessarily burdensome, in actuality it is.  I am based in Manila, but I belong to IBP Chapter located in the province which requires seven hours of travel. Which means, in order to comply with this rule, I have to take a leave of absence in the company where I work. Travel all the way to province, and then appear before the court.   When a case is given to us, we devote not just five hours to come up with good pleading save for simple motions like postponement and extension. This is a pro bono case, and the litigation expenses are burdened by the lawyer.  I believe that a lawyer should not be forced to do pro bono work, it has to be something voluntary not mandatory.  Here’s the full text of the circular.

Cheesecake and Friends= Perfect Blend!


 Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”- Albert Einstein

Yes! It is creamy, rich, and  delicious. The picture above is my cheesecake entry when at our office, we had our search for the Best cheesecake in the Metro. Several weeks ago, I was painstakingly researching over the net of what could be my best entry for this competition. Some suggestions from my friends were taken into account, while I do my own reasearch  based on review from food experts. My desicion was to bring one from Beckys Kitchen, they say that this kitchen is known for its yummy treats and savory taste. Resolved to bring cheesecake from Bekcys, I have never considered any other option.

Cheesecake Wednesday has come, I am excited and all set to go to Becky’s at their Vito Cruz branch. I called their branch and ordered my cheesecake; to my dismay the girl over the phone said “Sorry maam, we are not currently offering cheesecake in our bakeshop”. Okay, period.

And so I came up with a Cheesecake from the pastry shop of Century Park Hotel. The proximity of the hotel from my place led me to chance upon their cheesecakes. I particularly ordered their classic new york with tiny specs of chocolate on top and their chocolate cheesecake. Chocolate and Cheese are perfect blend.

Up are different kind of cheesecakes from different bakeshops. Each of my officemates have their own stories to tell too, on how they came up with their cheesecakes. Entries were from Century Park Hotel, Bizu, Cravings, Diamond Hotel,Cheesecake factory, Chelsea, Illustrado, Rustans Gourmet, Stabucks, Miss Desserts and Contis. We had cheesecake recipes from plain to the intensely rich New York cheesecake to gourmet flavors like oreo, cookies and cream.The winner of them all is the cheesecake from Diamond Hotel, brought by Atty. Cheche. 

We spent wonderful time sharing our cheesecake discoveries. Happy stomach, happy tastebuds. The cheesecakes were all divine, reason enough to continue our work with big smile on our faces.