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The new law on service charges

With the enactment of Republic Act No. 11360, rank-and-file employees of restaurants, hotels and similar establishments are now entitled to 100% of the service charges collected from customers.

Changing times for PEZA Locators

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.

Disclosure and reportorial requirements for lending and financing Companies

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.

Boosting the Philippine economic scene through the Innovative Startup Act

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.

Copyright protection over the works of the Government

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.

Stop debt collection harassment

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.

The 2019 HCCH Judgments Convention and the enforcement of foreign judgments...

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.

Giving our farmers the ‘credit’ due them

When a farmer needs credit, and whose only asset is the land under patent which he tills, where does he go?

Regulating the creditor-debtor cat-and-mouse chase

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.

Names with attitudes

Pronounced a certain way, Doctor Drai does not seem too different from Dr. Dre. However, trademark laws see (or hear) otherwise.

Compulsory investment of branch offices

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).

Change we can see

There is wave of positive change in the metropolis today brought about by basic, commonsensical, even elementary solutions to day-to-day concerns. Local chief executives, following a trail blazed by today’s fair-haired boy, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, have shown that reliance on existing laws and rules is sufficient to effect change that one can see. Perhaps a change in the mindset was all that was needed, as the laws and ordinances have remained the same.

The POGO Problem: Harmonizing immigration, gaming, and gambling

It is highly illegal to gamble in China save for a few state-run lotteries. To avoid this prohibition, gambling companies operate offshore so that they may continue catering to Chinese nationals who play casino and e-games online. These companies took a sharp interest in expanding their businesses to the Philippines, which led to the rise of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs). A POGO is an entity which offers and participates in offshore gaming services by providing an online platform where players may gamble with others over the internet.

What makes a contract valid?

I have conducted a few lectures on Obligations and Contracts, in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry, to businesspeople with startups. I noticed that one of the most common misconceptions is that “contracts must always be in writing, otherwise there is no contract to speak of.”

Amending the Public Service Law: Distinguishing public utilities from public services

Senate Bill No. 1441 seeks to amend the Public Service Act to differentiate a “public service” from a “public utility,” thereby lifting the nationality restriction on the areas of power generation and supply, transportation, broadcasting, and telecommunication, among others.

Being in the Internet spotlight and Intellectual Property Rights

For quite a number of us, a significant chunk of the things we learn comes from the internet. The internet will likely have information that will satisfy an individual’s intellectual desires. A popular source of information are online video blogs or vlogs. These vlogs present information through a combination of video clips, supporting texts, and images. There has been an increasing preference for these vlogs since information is presented in a more entertaining, if not more palatable, manner than its text counterpart.

The MOU between PHL and China and a timely revisit of...

On Nov. 20, 2018, the Philippines and China entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation on Oil and Gas Development. Premised on the Charter of the United Nations, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the 2002 Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, the two governments agreed to negotiate on an accelerated basis (i.e., within 12 months of its signing) arrangements to facilitate oil and gas exploitation in “relevant maritime areas.”

One signature away: what you need to know about Senate Bill...

Just last year, much controversy arose upon the emergence of Senate Bill No. 1826 (SB 1826), or the bill on the Security of Tenure and End of Endo Act, which proposed several changes in the Labor Code provisions on contracting arrangements and employment relationships. Due to public clamor, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte even certified the necessity of the immediate passing of SB 1826. This, however, did not deter employer groups from continuing to lobby against the passage of SB 1826.

Implementing the Expanded Maternity Leave Law

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), together with the Social Security System (SSS) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC), recently laid out the Implementing Rules of the newly-minted Expanded Maternity Leave Law, although the law itself already became effective last March 11, 2019.

Revisiting important concepts in arbitration

Alternative dispute resolution methods or ADRs, i.e., arbitration, mediation, conciliation among others, “are encouraged by the Supreme Court, since by enabling the parties to resolve their disputes amicably, they provide solutions that are less time-consuming, less tedious, less confrontational, and more productive of goodwill and lasting friendships.”

That’s my move! Are motion marks eligible for trademark protection?

“Moonwalk” is a dance move popularized by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. It is his signature dance move which catapulted him into stardom. Aside from Jackson, other celebrities and figures (whether living persons or “inanimate entities/objects”) have distinctive “signature moves” -- Michael Jordan and his one hand, flying air dunk; movements of popular video game characters like Street Fighter’s Ryu and his Haddouken and Dragonball’s Son Gokou and his Kamehame Wave.

Developments in the Philippine Competition Commission’s enforcement activities

Early this year, the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) Enforcement Office launched a leniency/whistleblower program offering immunity from suit and reduction of fines to cartel members who will provide information that will help the PCC investigate and prosecute cartels. This forms part of the PCC’s increased efforts in cracking down on anti-competitive agreements and conduct.

Revisiting the AMLA in light of transnational money laundering

For several decades, money laundering has extended the reach of transnational organized crime throughout various nations. As seen in pop culture, drug lords and mobsters regularly ship off “dirty money” from their illegal trade into off-shore bank accounts, thus making such funds appear “clean” (think Narcos, Breaking Bad, and The Firm).

National Privacy Commission extends renewal of registrations and submission of Annual...

The National Privacy Commission (“NPC”) recently announced the extension of the validity of registrations completed by personal information controllers and processors as of 2018, as well as the indefinite postponement of the submission of the Annual Security Incident Report (“ASIR”) covering the calendar year 2018.

The future of our children

To honor its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Congress on July 2005 passed Republic Act No. 9344, otherwise known as the “Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006.” In its Declaration of State Policy, Congress discussed how the State recognizes “the right of every child alleged as, accused of, adjudged, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth, taking into account the child’s age and desirability of promoting his/her reintegration.”

Keeping your mobile number for a lifetime

In this digital world, mobile phones are a necessary part of our daily lives. As we become heavily dependent on these gadgets for communication and for the accomplishment of our daily task, we encounter some service issues and technical glitches, including connectivity to the internet. Sometimes, subscribers simply tolerate and continue to pay for the poor service, as they do not want the inconvenience of changing their mobile numbers for fear of losing important contacts and opportunities. Others are left with no choice but to change their mobile service provider to avail of better service, which necessitates the changing of their mobile numbers. And trivial as it seems, this leads to the inevitable inconvenience for both the subscriber and his contacts -- e.g. subscriber has to inform all his contacts of such change, and for the contacts to manually delete the old and save the new number.

A peek into the Revised Corporation Code of the Philippines

On 20 February 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act No. 11232, otherwise known as the Revised Corporation Code of the Philippines (the “New Code”), which may be considered as a landmark legislation updating the 38-year-old Corporation Code of the Philippines (the “Old Code”) to adjust to modern times.

The struggle with premature campaigns

One who has experienced an election or two will probably be familiar with the term “premature campaigning,” and what it means. Generally, we understand it to be the situation where prior to the official start of the campaign period (90 days for national election; 45 days for local election), a candidate begins to campaign for himself. This practice has been declared unlawful by our laws as early as 1985, as provided in Section 80 of Batas Pambansang Bilang 881, which reads:

Who is the ‘real’ owner?

In an effort to increase transparency in the beneficial ownership and control of domestic corporations -- and to prevent their misuse for money laundering, organized crime and terrorists financing purposes, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), pursuant to its mandate to assist in the implementation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (“AMLA”), issued Memorandum Circular No. 17, Series of 2018 (“MC No. 17”) on Nov. 27, 2018 which essentially changed the form of the General Information Sheet (“GIS”) to be regularly submitted to the SEC. Effective March 1, 2019, the SEC will only accept the new GIS form, which now includes information on the beneficial owners of shares in the corporations, among others. Under MC No. 17, any failure by a corporation to submit the GIS under the required form shall be considered non-filing thereof. Accordingly, all Philippine domestic corporations, whether stock or nonstock, will soon need to disclose their beneficial owners.

Protecting indigenous knowledge in intellectual property rights

Indigenous peoples (IPs) and indigenous cultural communities (ICCs), though explicitly protected under the Constitution itself, sadly remain one of the most marginalized and forgotten sectors in Philippine society. Most often than not, IPs and ICCs are known for their mineral-rich ancestral lands and domains which are the usual targets for mining development projects. Not known to many, however, IPs and ICCs possess other valuable resources, specifically their indigenous knowledge systems and practices (IKSPs) consisting of accumulation of age-old traditional cultural methods and beliefs in medicine, genetic resources, ecology, art, and language, among others.

Streamlining the OSG while sparing the PCGG and OGCC from dissolution

Recently, Congress decided to strengthen the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) by passing the proposed OSG law. The Senate and the House of Representatives gave their own versions of the bill, and later came to a compromise, after the bicameral conference committee approved the reconciled versions of the bills, incorporating the following salient points of the proposed new OSG Law.

‘I now pronounce you: DIVORCED’

Under Executive Order No. 209, otherwise known as The Family Code of the Philippines, only declaration of nullity of marriage and annulment of marriage can sever a marriage bond between husband and wife. Moreover, the grounds provided for by law are exclusive.

Telecommuting as an alternative work arrangement

In the Philippines, employees are subject to normal working hours of not exceeding 8 hours a day, for 6 days per week. It seems that our laws made it this way to provide employees ample time for rest and recreation after a hard day’s work.

The unborn and the Law

“God’s greatest gift is human life and we have a duty to protect the life of an unborn child.”

Recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in the Philippines

The Supreme Court recognized in the case of Saudi Arabian Airlines v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 122191, 8 October 1998, 297 SCRA 469) that “the presence of foreign elements (in transactions) is inevitable, since social and economic affairs of (persons and/or entities) are rarely confined to the geographic limits of their births or conception.” Thus, as an example, persons/corporations from various States may enter into contracts, which contracts may even involve properties located in an entirely different State. In case of breach, it could happen that a party will resort to its own local court to obtain relief, or may go to the courts of another State with a significance or connection to them or to their transaction.

Freedom of information in the Supreme Court

Freedom of Information (FOI) is a right enshrined in our fundamental law. It refers to the right of the people to information on matters of public concern. It is the right of every citizen to access official records, documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development (Sec. 7, Art. III, 1987 Constitution). This includes the public’s right to know the public officials and employees’ assets, liabilities, net worth, and financial and business interests.

The privacy of ‘Public’ information

In this age when everything is “instant,” information on just about anything and anyone under the sun is not only readily available, but easy to come by. Especially with the proliferation of social media sites and other publicly-accessible platforms and the increasing transparency of government databases most of which are accessible on-line, a few clicks of a mouse will yield a treasure trove of information. But along with this bounty comes the inevitable question of boundaries: What information should be made publicly available? Can we use it? How should we use it?

The 11th Foreign Investment Negative List and its possible impact on...

Odds are that in the past week, you liked a friend’s post on Facebook, bought food from Food Panda, and booked a ride with Grab. I, myself, have done those things in the past couple of hours. This is indeed the age of E-Commerce and online businesses. You look at the Forbes list and at the top you’ll find Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Ma, and Jeff Bezos, who, by means of the internet, created billion-dollar internet-based businesses. These pervasive online businesses also affect more traditional business models. For instance, a giant retailer like Toys “R” Us has announced plans to close because of online stores like Amazon. Travel sites like Expedia have rendered travel agents unnecessary. Traditional cable and satellite TV services are fast becoming obsolete as people now choose to stream similar contents using sites like Netflix.

Senate Bill No. 1826: Redefining labor-only contracting

One of the most controversial issues on management rights today is the right to enter into contracting arrangements. Contracting is an arrangement where a business owner, also called a principal, agrees to farm out to another entity, called a contractor, the performance of a specific job within a definite period. In turn, the contractor hires its own employees to perform the job farmed out by the principal.

Investments for the environment

“When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.” -- Native American saying

The Mental Health Act: A Boon to Filipinos

With the alarming increase of mental health illnesses today, with more than 300 million people suffering from depression alone according to the World Health Organization, the enactment of Republic Act No. 11032 or the Mental Health Act last 20 June 2018 is a boon to Filipinos. It is an affirmation of the basic right of all Filipinos to mental health as well as the fundamental rights of people who require mental health services.

Continuing compliance requirements for the Data Privacy Act of 2012

Entities and individuals covered by Republic Act No. 10173, otherwise known as the Data Privacy Act of 2012 (“DPA”) were required to register with the National Privacy Commission (“NPC”) in two (2) phases: (1) the appointment of a Data Protection Officer by last 09 September 2017; and (2) the registration of Data Processing Systems by last 08 March 2018.

Business-minded or business-hindered?

“A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.” -- Nolan Bushnell, Entrepreneur

D.O. 195-18: An additional ground for wage deduction and its legal...

On 27 July 2018, the Honorable Secretary of Labor and Employment Silvestre H. Bello signed Department Order No. 195, Series 2018 (“D.O. 195-18”), entitled “RULE AMENDING SECTION 10 OF RULE VIII OF THE IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE LABOR CODE ON WAGE DEDUCTION.”

The TRABAHO Bill:Recurring dilemmas

WHILE few of us were watching, the House Committee on Ways and Means approved on Aug. 7 the substitute bill for the second package of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), which is now known as the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-quality Opportunities, or the TRABAHO Bill, for brevity.