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On Aug. 15, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation of Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones to defer the opening of classes from Aug. 24 to Oct. 5 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. This postponement reflects the challenges faced by the government, educators, parents, and students in providing and accessing quality education during the current health emergency. Such challenges include the lack of access to technology and reliable internet connections, and the difficulties parents face in facilitating at-home learning through no fault of their own. Educational institutions that decided to open classes earlier have resorted to on-line learning, the provision of modular printed materials, or television and radio-based instruction.
The year 2020 has brought to us a forced awareness of health matters, both on a public and private plane. Indeed, we have not seen in modern history such a paralysis brought about by an ancient enemy, which has pretty much held the whole world hostage. But world affairs must move on and the emphasis on strong leadership — both figuratively and literally — now has even more importance.
Article III, Section 4 of the Constitution provides that “no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.” Thus, the right to freely express one’s thoughts is not without basis.
Going through reportedly the world’s longest lockdown because of COVID-19, from easing up and back to further restricting quarantine measures, it would seem that this pandemic has brought both the good and bad out of this government. As the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines recently breached the 100,000 mark, making the country the number one in Southeast Asia in number of cases, questions whether the government is doing enough swirl around.
In light of the implementation of various community quarantine measures brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, many business establishments were either prevented from operating or permitted with limited operational capacity. As a result, many entrepreneurs incurred significant financial losses. Due to the uncertainty of the resolution of the pandemic, and to thwart further losses, many businesses were constrained to cease their operation and finally close.
Medical diagnostic kits, legal services, computer software, stem cells, firearms, various clothing items, and beer — these are just some of the goods and services which are the subject of COVID-19-related trademark applications in different jurisdictions all over the world.
Seemingly straight out of an episode of The Twilight Zone, the current reality does not feel real.
In an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, countries, including the Philippines, have adopted a variety of measures in order to contain and limit the spread of the virus. One of these measures is the closure of the country’s borders to inbound and outbound travel.
Broadcasting, whether by radio or television stations, requires authorization from the government before they can operate. The pre-regulation history of radio and television stations illustrates the need for government intervention, as opposed to other industries such as print media and the Internet. The rationale for the imposition of government regulation is that the airwaves, the medium utilized by broadcast, are not susceptible to appropriation, nor can they be the object of any claim of ownership. A broadcast corporation cannot appropriate a certain frequency without regard for government regulation or for the rights of others. This can only be accomplished if the industry itself is subjected to regulation whereby broadcasters receive entitlement to exclusive use of their respective or particular frequencies. The basis for regulation is rooted in empiricism — “that broadcast frequencies are a scarce resource whose use could be regulated and rationalized only by the Government.” (Divinagracia v. Consolidated Broadcasting System, Inc., G.R. No. 162272, April 7, 2009; Eastern Broadcasting Corporation v. Dy, G.R. No. L-59329. July 19, 1985)
More than two months ago, the Philippines was placed under a nationwide lockdown. Overnight, everything became digital. The traditional classroom set-up became virtual classes, while boardroom meetings, as well as informal gatherings, shifted to video conferencing meetings. Online apps for buying and selling are also utilized, and going cashless has become the preferred mode of payment.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) forced many companies to temporarily close or drastically reduce production and/or services. While restrictions are slowly being lifted, not all establishments have been allowed to operate at full capacity, if at all. Furthermore, people are still discouraged to go out and engage in non-essential activities. This, in turn, affects businesses.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has not only struck people’s health, but also the economy, particularly the labor and employment sector. Based on reports by the International Labor Organization (ILO), COVID-19 is currently having a catastrophic effect globally on working hours and earnings. In the Asia Pacific region alone, the crisis is expected to wipe-out almost 125 million full-time employment or 7.2% of the workforce in the region.*
Within just two months, the way we lived our lives has immensely changed. Essentially everything is now done within the confines of one’s home, be it work, exercise, or hobbies. For the privileged, the daily routine includes time for binge-watching different series, movies, or vlogs. As of late, foreign series and movies have been circulating and made available on different on-line streaming platforms. Understandably, not all viewers will be able to fully comprehend what foreign actors and actresses are saying. Unless one is a polyglot, a viewer would necessarily have to rely on subtitles or “subs” for them to fully appreciate a particular show.
While the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) knows no nationality or race, most countries have taken the approach, among others, of closing their respective borders to prevent it from spreading. The Philippines, which is home to a multitude of foreign nationals with varied purposes for their stay, also adopted these measures.
Under Section 39 of the Revised Corporation Code (RCC), a corporation may, by a majority vote of its board of directors or trustees, sell or otherwise dispose of its property and assets, upon such terms and conditions and for such consideration as its board of directors or trustees may deem expedient. However, if the sale involves a sale of all or substantially all of the corporation’s properties and assets, including its goodwill, the vote of the stockholders representing at least two-thirds of the outstanding capital stock, or at least two-thirds of the members shall also be required.
With reports and narratives about discrimination and harassment of suspect, probable, and confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) -- including calls to make the personal information of these cases available to the general public -- circulating heavily since the government declared a state of public health emergency throughout the Philippines, it is imperative to know that Philippine laws provide adequate measures of protection against the unwarranted invasion of one’s right to privacy.
Undeniably, the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), which was imposed by the National Government in the entirety of Luzon, and by different local government units (LGUs) in the other parts of the Philippines, has saved many lives. In its latest report, the University of the Philippines COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team determined that at the time of the imposition of the Luzon-wide ECQ, the virus’ Reproductive Number was hovering at above two to four -- the Reproductive Number is used to measure the transmission potential of a disease, and a Reproductive Number of >1 is an indication that the number of cases is increasing. As of April 19, the Reproductive Number in the Philippines is at 1.072. While we have not yet flattened the curve, we can optimistically say that we are slowly getting there.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a novel and highly infectious disease which was unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China last December. However, in 2020, the rapid spread of the contagious disease claimed thousands of lives worldwide causing global alarm and pandemonium. Thus, on March 11, the World Health Organization was constrained to characterize COVID-19 as a pandemic.
With the worsening COVID-19 outbreak, President Rodrigo Duterte has shifted gears. What began as a mere entreaty to the private sector to extend bills payments, grant reprieves on rental fees to alleviate day-to-day worries of the everyman, has now morphed into something broader.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a pandemic and people around the globe are understandably very worried, if not in a state of panic. In the Philippines, in an effort to quell the upward surge in infections similar to what is happening in other countries, President Rodrigo R. Duterte initially ordered a “community quarantine” of the National Capital Region (NCR) effective March 15 until April 1. However, on March 16, the President put the entire island of Luzon on “enhanced community quarantine” (ECQ-Luzon), strictly imposing a home quarantine, among others, starting on March 17 until April 12.
The 1987 Constitution requires the State to protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels, and to take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all. It reflects the State’s policy to adopt a more inclusive educational institution that does not discriminate against the underprivileged and persons with special needs.
With the end in view of keeping abreast of changing times and easing doing business in the Philippines, the Revised Corporation Code (RCC) introduced the concept of a corporation with a single stockholder. Under the RCC, a natural person, trust, or an estate can now establish a One Person Corporation (OPC). For purposes of transition, it also allows an old domestic stock corporation (OSC) incorporated prior to the enactment of the RCC to be converted into an OPC. Pursuant to this, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released its proposed guidelines on the conversion of an OSC to an OPC for public feedback.
The extraordinary writ of quo warranto has been raised to public consciousness again recently that it begs to be understood further. It will be recalled that an action for quo warranto was filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) a couple of years ago to challenge Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s right to her to public position. This Petition was eventually granted by the Supreme Court and caused her removal as a public officer. This is the same type of Petition filed by the OSG again, but this time not against a public officer, but against a private entity, ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. and ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc.
Following the World Health Organization’s declaration of the 2019 novel coronavirus (renamed COVID-19) outbreak as a public health emergency, the Philippine government on Feb. 2 deemed it prudent to implement a temporary travel ban against all foreign nationals coming from China, Hong Kong and Macau; all foreign nationals who have been to China, Hong Kong, and Macau in the last 14 days prior to the arrival to the Philippines; and transiting passengers from China, Hong Kong, and Macau. Recently, the ban was clarified to include Taiwan, which, according to the WHO, is considered a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China. (This was subsequently dropped after Taiwan complained. -- Ed.)
As early as Dec. 31, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was informed of the steadily increasing number of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. Over the next three weeks, researchers connected the spread of the outbreak to a market in Wuhan City and identified the cause of the contagious and potentially fatal respiratory disease to be a new type of coronavirus, which is now infamously known as the Novel Corona Virus (2019-nCoV).
Much has been said about the feature of the Revised Corporation Code (RCC) allowing corporations to have perpetual existence under Section 11 of the RCC. Yet, there is also a nifty feature tucked in under the same section allowing the revival of those corporations whose corporate terms have expired. Pursuant to this provision, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued SEC Memorandum Circular No. 23, Series of 2019 or the Guidelines on the Revival of Expired Corporations. The Guidelines became effective on Dec. 6 last year and the SEC has started accepting applications for the revival of expired corporations until then.
On Jan. 12 -- nearly half a century after its last eruption -- Taal Volcano had a phreatic eruption, causing ash to fall on numerous cities and necessitating the evacuation of families living near the volcano. With the sudden turn of events, immediate evacuation and disaster preparations were necessary for the affected areas, and schools and offices were constrained to suspend their operations to make way for the same.
To quote Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban: “Trial courts are the dispensers of justice closest to the poor.” But when the demand for justice is clearly disproportionate to that of the number of our judges in the lower courts, how can justice even be dispensed?
The never-ending tug of war between management prerogative and labor rights has long been recognized in our jurisdiction. While it may be true that the constitutional bias has always been in favor of the working class, it cannot be denied that management also has its own rights which are limited by labor laws, as well as principles of equity and substantial justice.
In 2010 there was a discussion on whether robots should be granted rights or what was termed as “robo-rights.” This stemmed from the consideration that robots may develop the ability to reproduce, develop artificial intelligence, and even possibly, create something independent of its inventor or developer.
“Quick and Easy Online Loan,” “Fast, Easy, Loan Online,” “Quick Cash Online” — these are only a few of the marketing and advertising slogans of online lending companies which have emerged among the online community. Oblivious of the consequences, these online loans became popular among the mass of Filipino people who, in some way or other, needed the “quick and easy” cash.
Taxes are integral to any economic policy. Investments flow in and out of the economy based on fiscal incentives as much as human capital. For Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) locators, investors were enticed to invest in the Philippines with tax incentives, such as the Income Tax Holiday (ITH) or 5% Gross Income Taxation (GIT), VAT zero-rated purchases, and duty-free importations. However, with major tax reforms introduced and proposed by the government, PEZA locators are facing a new business paradigm, requiring proactiveness.
The common practice of advertising services through television, social media, websites, radio and the like, as well as the use of online lending platforms are becoming tools of fraud, leading to the increased number of borrowers falling prey to unlawful acts of lending and financing companies. Thus, the Securities and Exchange Commission found the need to impose additional regulatory measures on lending and financing companies to safeguard the public through the issuance of Memorandum Circular No. 19 (“MC No. 19”) dated Sept. 17, imposing disclosure and reportorial requirements.
According to the 2019 World Bank report, the Philippines ranks 124th out of the 190 economies in terms of ease of doing business. Meanwhile, its neighbors, namely: Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, rank 15th, 69th, 2nd, 27th, and 73rd, respectively.
There is no contention that the public has every right to be freely apprised of the laws governing their daily lives. In a democracy, the power of the government to create, interpret, and implement laws is sourced from the people. Thus, “edicts of government” such as statutes and judicial opinions per se are not subject to exclusive ownership and/or commercial exploitation in the context of copyright, not even by the government itself.
In these times when loans are easily available through online consumer financing or other private lending companies, when there is easy access to online cash loans without any collateral requirements, complex approval procedures, or prolonged application waiting time, many people resort to purchasing their personal needs and wants by obtaining loans through the aforesaid manner. However, unfair and abusive debt collection practices as a result of these loans often lead to extreme amounts of stress. Often, this practice has contributed to the loss of income or employment, marital instability, medical issues, personal bankruptcies, social embarrassment, and invasion of personal privacy. The borrower feels completely defeated and without energy to pursue a course of action to stop the activities and bring perpetrators to justice.
In a global world where cross-border transactions are commonplace, disputes inevitably arise. Considering the difference in the substantive laws and procedures in different jurisdictions, the resolution of these disputes requires multilateral agreement and cooperation between and among states. Thus, one of the keys issues in this field of human enterprise is the recognition and enforcement of foreign court decisions. On this score, the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) adopted on July 2, the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters or the Judgments Convention. The Judgments Convention seeks “to promote effective access to justice for all and to facilitate rule-based multilateral trade and investment, and mobility, through judicial co-operation.” This is intended to fill in the gap in cross-border litigation, particularly the uncertainty of recognition and enforcement of a court decisions in another jurisdiction and seeks to serve as a mechanism similar to the New York Convention on the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards which has been widely ratified by a number of states.
Benjamin Franklin said, “creditors have better memories than debtors.” Comically, Ambrose Bierce in his book, The Devil’s Dictionary, defined “forgetfulness” as a gift from God bestowed upon debtors in compensation for their destitution of conscience.
The Revised Corporation Code (RCC), which took effect on Feb. 23 this year, introduced amendments to the otherwise outdated Corporation Code. One of the amendments can be found in Section 143 of the RCC which prescribed the amount of required securities deposit for branch offices of foreign corporations. Pursuant to such an amendment, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued Memorandum Circular No. 17, Series of 2019 (SEC MC No. 17-2019) on the revised guidelines on securities deposit of branch offices of foreign corporations, which superseded the guidelines set in Memorandum Circular No. 2, Series of 2012 (SEC MC No. 2-2012).