Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Current Situation of Public Legal Service in the Philippines

Discussion about the rules and law of the land is always sensitive and complex. It requires deep understanding on how process and procedures are conducted. Studying about it also takes years. As a matter of fact, a lawyer before being able to give legal services in the Philippines should undergo undergrad education that usually takes 4 years and another 4 for law school. After studying, there is still the need to pass the bar exam—a feat that is known to be nothing less than difficult. In the 2015, only 26.21% of the bar takers passed and this has only been the highest passing percentage since 2011. In 1999, only 16.59 percent passed—the lowest percentage of law bar exam passer in the history of the Philippines to date. And even after all of that, a bar passer should still practice law and take mandatory continuing education to be able to provide legal services to the public.

But the thing is that not every lawyer that passes the bar exam wants to work for the government or for the public. Most of these lawyers go after big law firms or apply for a position in a legal department of some big company. As lawyers have become the central the way business is done concerning issues that needs the application of law and prevailing regulations, the pull for demand for lawyers to stay in this private companies heightens, not to mention the compensation that they can get.

In Feb 23 2010, Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the Republic Act. 9999—an act authored by Senator Lito Lapid. The republic act is also known as the act providing mechanism for free legal assistance and for other purposes. The section 5 of the said law grants lawyers up to 10 percent deduction from their annual taxable income to encourage them to render free legal services. This is 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

While this sounds like huge incentives for lawyers and a wonderful attempt of the government to pull private lawyers into the aid of the public that needs legal service, there might still be huge need for lawyers to fill. Even though it has been reported last August 2016 that the crime rate in the country has lowered, there is no denying that legal aid or service is something that is should be readily available for Filipino citizen when they need it.

Now with the things mentioned above, you may now have a picture on the situation of how accessible legal services are in the Philippines. As we enter a new era in Philippine governance, and with another lawyer leading the country in Rodrigo Duterte, who knows, we might see a drastic change on how legal services are catered in the Philippines.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Lawyers Making Laws: A Closer Look at the Lawyers in the Senate

Being an attorney is probably one of the highest regarded careers in the Philippines. In fact, majority of the elected presidents, vice-presidents, and even members of the legislative department are from this profession. Some names that are worth mentioning are the three highest political positions in the country: the current head of state of the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte; the current vice-president of the Philippines, Leni Robredo; and the Senate President, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III. Even though some may say what made them famous is their reputation as public servants and politicians, the mere fact that eight out of the past fifteen president Philippines are attorneys is enough proof to support how the profession has helped them to get to their position and carry out their duties.

Currently, there are 24 senators in the legislative department. Their main duties are to pass laws and investigate national issues. In this light, it is only reasonable that someone from the legislative department has a good background on law.

Among the these 24 senators in the Philippines, eight are lawyers or attorneys and they are the following:

Sonny Angara – Angara has passed on more than 60 laws. He finished his law degree at the University of the Philippines College of Law, and earned his Master of Laws degree from Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States.

Pia Cayetano – During her young career as a lawyer, she has specialized in corporate law and intellectual property laws. She graduated from University of the Philippines with an academic distinction.

Alan Peter Cayetano – He graduated from Ateneo de Manila University. He is also the Chair of the Philippine Agrarian Reform Committee.

Leila De Lima – In 1985, De Lima has placed 8th in the Bar Examination, bringing pride to her alma mater, San Beda College, where she earned her law degree.

Franklin M. Drilon - Drilon is probably one of the most seasoned senators in the Philippines. He completed his degree in 1969 in UP College of Law and placed third in the bar examination of the same year.

Francis Escudero
– He finished his law degree at the University the Philippines and has passed the bar examination on 1994. In 1996, he obtained a Master’s degree in International and Comparative Law at Georgetown Law Center in Washington, D.C.

Richard J. Gordon – Gordon is also the current Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross. He has pursued his law degree at the University of the Philippines College of Law.

Kiko Pangilinan - In his early career as a lawyer by giving free legal assistance on-air and closely monitored case progress through the television program Hoy Gising! in ABS-CBN where he was a co-anchor and segment host.

Koko Pimentel – The aforementioned current Senate President has finished his Bachelor of Laws degree from University of the Philippines College of Law. He has also topped the 1990 Philippine Bar Examinations.

While being a public servant or politician in the Philippines doesn’t required a specific educational attainment to run for public office as it stated in the 1987 Constitution, a decent educational background still plays a big role in winning the voters’ ink. It just makes perfect sense that someone that will be implementing, making, and investigate rulings should have adequate knowledge about law itself. And with the things that has been going in politics that most of the time renders us confuse with what is exactly is going on, it will be a mild tap in the back knowing that there are several people in the legislative department that has background on how to be an attorney or lawyer in the Philippines.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Philippine Penal Code: The Insanity Plea

philippine attorney-crazy

You are probably here because you are interested in the things that can get you off a crime. We’re not saying that you have a criminal mind, but you do have a curious one, you don’t want to go asking a Philippine attorney, and you want to know if insanity can get a person off the legal hook.

First thing that you have to know is that things that get you off the hook or at least lessen your sentence are called pleas and when you start talking about how much your plea diminishes or negates the gravity of your supposed sentence, it’s called plea bargaining.

Insanity is one of many pleas but is probably among the most used in recent years and even then, at least 4 US states have disqualified the insanity defense. In the Philippines, the exemption is detailed in Item 1, Article 12, Chapter 2 of the Philippine Penal Code.

Art. 12. Circumstances which exempt from criminal liability. — the following are exempt from criminal liability:
1. An imbecile or an insane person, unless the latter has acted during a lucid interval.
When the imbecile or an insane person has committed an act which the law defines as a felony (delito), the court shall order his confinement in one of the hospitals or asylums established for persons thus afflicted, which he shall not be permitted to leave without first obtaining the permission of the same court.

In the context of the penal code, we can see that it illustrates the condition for exemption but not what qualifies for insanity or imbecility.

There are many standards to determine mental incapacity like the M’Naughten standard and Durham rule but it all boils down to what must exist to justify a conviction. Two things have to be proven to qualify a conviction: a suspect must be proven to have both a guilty mind (mens rea) and there must be physical manifestation of the guilty act (actus reus).

Actus reus requires “if someone got murdered, then it can be proven with a dead body.” Pretty straightforward. Mens rea requires “if someone got murdered, it can be proven with the murderer’s conscious intention that he wanted his victim dead.” It is therefore the burden of the Philippine attorney’s defense to prove that mens rea was absent at the time the crime happened to be able to qualify his client and have him be objectified as insane.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Constitutional Commission and the 1987 Philippine Constitution

The bread and butter of every attorney in the Philippines are their familiarity with the Philippine constitution. More than wit, charisma, creativity, and ability to grace under pressure, an attorney should know how he can utilize the articles of the constitution into their clients’ favor.

The Constitution of the Philippines is the supreme law of our state. Our current constitution has been drafted in 1987. There have been three other constitutions that have governed our country. This includes the 1935 Commonwealth Constitution, the 1973 Constitution, and the 1986 Freedom Constitution. The 1899 Malolos Constitution was never fully implemented throughout the Philippines and was never internationally recognized due to the American occupation during the time it has been implemented.

Following the People Power and the fall of Martial Law, the late President Cory Aquino sought to ensure the freedom of the people and its return into democratic rule. The Proclamation No. 9 gave birth to the Constitutional Commission of 1986. It was a body composed of 48 national, regional, and sectorial representatives who collectively drafted the current Constitution of the Philippines. The members were appointed by Aquino and are composed by the following:

  1. Cecilia Munoz Palma (President)
  2. Ambrosio B. Padilla (Vice-President)
  3. Napoleon G. Rama (Floor Leader)
  4. Ahmad Domocao Alonto (Assistant Floor Leader)
  5. Jose D. Calderon (Assistant Floor Leader)
  6. Yusuf R. Abubakar
  7. Felicitas S. Aquino
  8. Adolfo S. Azcuna
  9. Teodoro C. Bacani
  10. Jose F. S. Bengzon, Jr.
  11. Ponciano L. Bennagen
  12. Joaquin G. Bernas
  13. Florangel Rosario Braid
  14. Crispino M. de Castro
  15. Jose C. Colayco
  16. Roberto R. Concepcion
  17. Hilario G. Davide, Jr.
  18. Vicente B. Foz
  19. Edmundo G. Garcia
  20. Jose Luis Martin C. Gascon
  21. Serafin V.C. Guingona
  22. Alberto M. K. Jamir
  23. Jose B. Laurel, Jr.
  24. Eulogio R. Lerum
  25. Regalado E. Maambong
  26. Christian S. Monsod
  27. Teodulo C. Natividad
  28. Ma. Teresa F. Nieva
  29. Jose N. Nolledo
  30. Blas F. Ople
  31. Minda Luz M. Quesada
  32. Florenz D. Regalado
  33. Rustico F. de los Reyes, Jr.
  34. Cirilo A. Rigos
  35. Francisco A. Rodrigo
  36. Ricardo J. Romulo
  37. Decoroso R. Rosales
  38. Rene V. Sarmiento
  39. Jose E. Suarez
  40. Lorenzo M. Sumulong
  41. Jaime S. L. Tadeo
  42. Christine O. Tan
  43. Gregorio J. Tingson
  44. Efrain B. Trenas
  45. Lugum L. Uka
  46. Wilfrido V. Villacorta
  47. Bernardo M. Villegas

The Members of the Constitutional Commission were from different sectors of the society to represent the interest of the public. Some of them are from the House of the Representative, former Justices of the Supreme Court, and political activists during the Marcos Regime, and a Roman Catholic Bishop.

The constitution was ratified by a nationwide plebiscite on February 2, 1987. It contains a preamble and eighteen self-contained articles with a section numbering that resets for every article.

For the attorneys in the Philippines, it is very important to know the nature of our constitution so that they can utilize it. But it is important to know that our constitution plays a big role in our history. Attorney or not, as Filipinos, we need to learn and understand it, after all, ignorance of the law excuses no one.

For best attorneys in the Philippines, visit NDV Law.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Need to Copyright

How would you know if you have the right to appeal for something you have done? How would you know if it’s you that is recognized to be the sole owner of the song you’ve written? How would you know if you are considered as the master of the lines and curves you’ve drafted on canvass? How would you know if you are the real “father” of the characters in your story? A law firm specializing in Intellectual Property in the Philippines may help you answer your seemingly unending questions of “how” but here are a few things that may help you along the way.

Intellectual Property (IP), as defined by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), pertains to anything that is created by the human mind such as literary and artistic works, inventions, symbols, designs and names used in commerce.  Intellectual property rights fall under the Republic Act 8293: Protecting the Intellectual Property in the Philippines, which includes copyright. Copyright is the author’s protection for his inventions. And if you are someone who wished to have your creation protected from infringement and theft, you may want to consider registering a copyright for your work at the National Library of the Philippines. Here’s why.

Copyright protects you and your creation. In today’s world where most of the information could be downloaded online and be posted publicly on the World Wide Web, copyright allows you to guard your creations from piracy. It gives the author authority to distribute his works according to his will. If the creation is used without the consent of the author, the affected author can sue for copyright infringement and may get money as fine. Also, the author has all the rights to make necessary revisions, prequel and/or sequel of his own literary invention. He also possesses all the rights to develop his creation into something different like turning works into movies or TV series.  

Copyright offers financial reward. If your creation is copyrighted, you have all the rights to the reproduction of copies, adaptation and/or translation. Any reproduction of copies, adaptation and/or translation rewards the author financially. In addition, if a producer or group of producers like the author’s work, they would have to pay for them to be able to use the certain work for interpretation. Copyright allows him to earn a living with his creative inventions that serves as entertainment and as a source of information for the community.

Copyright allows the author to leave a legacy. Aside from the financial reward a copyrighted creation can give the author, it also helps the work retain its own pride and dignity. Copyright allows the creation (it may be a song, a novel, an artwork or a sculpture) to stand for its master’s name even after a long time of circulation.

             Copyright retains ownership of the creation. It covers protection for the lifetime of the author and additional fifty (50) years after death. A copyrighted work of art signifies the passion and dedication the author has during and after the time of creation.
             These are just but some of the main reasons why an author or creator who take real effort, passion and dedication in making art should secure the art’s intellectual property rights. You may see the application form and requirements needed here and here. And yes, if you are able to register your work and have it copyrighted, you have all the rights to appeal for it getting stolen, abused or misquoted, and even for improper distribution without the your consent. 

For Intellectual Property Law & Litigation, visit

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Philippines Social Media And How it Contributes To Cyberbullying

Bullying has always been an issue that is extremely difficult to address despite the government’s continued reinforcement of the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013 and the growing support from different organization to put a stop on it and continued encouragement of law firms for people to legally address cyber criminality. And with the rise of the internet age arise a new brand of bullying—cyber bullying.

It is undeniable how the internet has revolutionized Filipino’s way of living. Steadily walking away from being a couch potato—mobile phones, tablets, and computers have slowly replaced televisions as sources of entertainment in the lives of Filipinos. Communicating with your love ones from distant places has also been made easier. Even business arrangements and office work can be accomplished within your fingertips. And with its availability and accessibility, it has been one of the primary sources of news and headlines.

The current times have only been evidence that it will get easier from this point on to gain access to the internet and more and more users are being connected to it. As of 2015, if every active Filipino internet user will form a one big internet country, there will be enough people to match the population of Ukraine. Is has grown by nearly 18 percent since January 2014. The Philippines is currently 16th in the world ranking when it comes to internet usage. An average Filipino internet user enjoys an average of 6 hours of daily internet dose. Among their most visited social platforms are Facebook, Skype, Google+, Twitter, Viber, and Instagram.

These data are just proofs on how cyber-bullying can seriously go from bad to WTF—the accessibility and availability of these social media platforms where cyber-bullying can take place can spread a certain snide comment, a poorly-thought-about statement, or an embarrassing photo and video like wildfire within seconds. And next thing you’ll know, you have been a victim of social-media shaming and bashing from people you don’t even know and you’ll be hiding under a rock for the rest of your days or until another unlucky soul becomes another victim of cyber-bullying. There are also extreme cases when the victim falls into deep depression and it started to affect his public reputation so much that lasting effects like antisocial behavior develop.

Alarmingly, the Philippines now ranks as 4th leading country to look up for “cyber bullying” at Google. Presumably, this could only mean two things: first, people are too afraid to come out and admit that they are being bullied and; on a more positive light, that Filipinos are gaining awareness and wants to learn more about cyber bullying. But nonetheless, if people are resorting to search engines to learn about cyber bullying then this could only mean this issue requires immediate attention.

Cyber bullying is a serious matter that everyone should be aware of. And if you think that there is need for you to seek for legal advises regarding this matter, there are law offices and law firms in the Philippines who will readily provide you with their expert opinion.
In the coming years, we can only expect that the internet will continue to change our lives. We may not have any control on the possible effects that it might bring, but we can take control of the things that we need to know.

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Fulfilling the Law Firm Dream, the Humble Bar Top Notcher


The month of March 2015 has been an exciting month for all the law students who took the Philippine Bar Examination. It is the most awaited month of the year for all the examinees who put all their time and effort just to get the coveted title of being an attorney and to be included on the top law firms in thePhilippines.

This is true especially to Irene Mae Alcobilla, who reviewed right after their graduation and aced the licensure examination with an 85.5 percentage grade.  I read her story  in a news article in the Philippine Star’s news portal entitled: “Topnotcher:I just wanted to be an Attorney”. According to the news article, Irene Alcobilla is a graduate of San Beda College of Law. She reviewed for the bar exam right after her graduation, studying only the books she had when she was in law school from her first year up to the last. Everyday, she made sure that she will have time for her review focusing on all the lessons that she didn’t absorbed well on school while setting standards for herself. Apart from it, she always prayed and asks the Lord for guidance and vows to give her best effort to pass the exam.  Thankfully, her efforts were not wasted, she didn’t only passed the exam but aced it too.

According to Irene, being the topnotcher of the Bar Exam was a miracle. Her goal was just plain and simple: to pass the Bar Exam and to be called a lawyer.  I hope that her story inspired everybody. The lesson I learned here is that with hardwork plus faith in God, nothing is impossible.

Today, Irene is continuing to work in a law firm. Apart from it, two other San Beda law students made the top 10: Jose Angelo David in 6th place and Adrian Aumentado in 7th.