Monthly Archives: May 2006

Entitlement

I was watching a news feature in a foreign news magazine show, stating that everyone these days goes about their ways with a sense of entitlement.

I think that hits the nail on the head, even here.

Filipinos also go about their merry (or not so merry) ways with a sense of entitlement.

Public utility drivers drive around with a sense of entitlement, as if they bought the road and thus, are entitled to bully their vehicles wherever they wish. That goes the same for private drivers.

Informal settlers and squatting syndicates put up their homes on property that some other worked hard to buy, as if they are entitled to these properties for the simple reason they are poor.

Government officials ransack government coffers with the same sense of entitlement, as if they truly deserve the money they, in the final analysis, are simply stealing, for lending their precious talent and "contributing immensely" to government and society in general.

Speaking of generals, some retired military officials likewise assert rights over government housing with this sense of entitlement, as if the money they have already acquired from their "fruitful" government service will never be enough to cover the "sacrifices" they have made for the country.

Some people file libel cases left and right with this sense of entitlement, as if they deserve redress and restitution of their honor that they did not have in the first place.

Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with asserting one's right.

But please, be sure you are truly entitled to it. Or truly deserve it.

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La Mesa Dam Controversy

A friend of mine asked me to identify the legal issues involved in the La Mesa Dam controversy.

La Vida Lawyer provided the links to the materials (news and legal materials) as regards this issue.

Off the bat, I can identify the following:

1. Police Power vs. Proprietary/Contractual rights

One of the powers of the State (aside from emminent domain and taxation) that allows the state to “trample” on people’s rights to life, liberty and property for the sake of public welfare, public good, public morals, etc.

In this case at bar, balancing all interests (between obligations of contracts and proprietary rights on the one hand and public welfare and safety on the other), the State is well within its rights to “confiscate” the residential properties within the La Mesa dam and evict persons therein in the name of police power.

The safest path to assert this is through legislation. By a legislated declaration of the La Mesa dam area as protected and the legislated prohibition of any residential buildings therein, there will be legal basis to evict existing residents (especially the VIPs) in said area.

Unlike emminent domain (expropriation) the State taking of the controverted properties will not be subject to just compensation, if police power is invoked.

2. “Congressional” Interference

Present laws does not prohibit members of the legislature to lawyer for private interests. Section 14, Article VI thereof states:

No Senator or Member of the House of Representatives may personally appear as counsel before any court of justice or before the Electoral Tribunals, or quasi-judicial and other administrative bodies. Neither shall he, directly or indirectly, be interested financially in any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including any government-owned or controlled corporation, or its subsidiary, during his term of office. He shall not intervene in any matter before any office of the Government for his pecuniary benefit or where he may be called upon to act on account of his office.

Hence, a lawmaker is only prohibited from intervening in activities in relation to his present government office. Plus, he cannot personally appear as counsel in any court of justice or before the Electoral Tribunals, or quasi-judicial and other administrative bodies.

3. Rebus sic stantibus

This simply means a fundamental change in circumstances not contemplated before can lead to the termination of a contract. Article 1267 of the Civil Code states:

Art. 1267. When the service has become so difficult as to be manifestly beyond the contemplation of the parties, the obligor may also be released therefrom, in whole or in part.

But for this to apply, there must be supervening events such as the non-issuance or withdrawal of environmental compliance certificates of the project. This is not impossible for government to do, as a quicker step to stop the project.

This is what comes to mind now. I may modify this entry as I think of other things…

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How low can you go?

I mentioned over at the my corner blog about a brewing development over an issue of "national concern."

Well here it is.

How low can some people go? And I don't mean that in a limbo way…

Leave it to the Filipino "the best defense is offense" mentality.

You have to understand, we're not talking of the claimants themselves here. We're talking about the children. Fighting words will be exchanged when children's futures are concerned.

These these people now have the gall to play victim in this whole situation?

And what about the main case? Why did this countersuit appear to be gaining ground ahead of the main suit(s)?

Don't allow these claimants to become a lynch mob. When that happens, you can throw all that legal strategizing from Makati down the tubes.

Try seeking a TRO for that. And if you manage to get one (I will not be surprised though if these people could get injunctions against God Himself), good luck trying to enforce it.

And there goes that so-called "legacy" down the tubes with it.

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Payback time

Reading the Supreme Court decision on Proclamation No. 1017. Let me just summarize it for you and make some comments while I'm at it.

1. The Supreme Court held Proclamation No. 1017 and saccompanying General Order No. 5 a valid exercise per se of executive power. I can live with that. Any incumbent president should have power to cope with emergency situations.

2. Such exercise, however, must be within the bounds of the constitution. The exercise of emergency powers must be limited to prevent or supress lawless violence. Hence, such exercise does not include the power "(1) to issue decrees; (2) to direct the AFP to enforce obedience to all laws even those not related to lawless violence as well as decrees promulgated by the President; and (3) to impose standards on media or any form of prior restraint on the press, are ultra vires and unconstitutional."

That was really pushing it. But all I have is high praises for the Supreme Court for setting the executive straight.

3.The Supreme Court also ruled that under Section 17, Article XII of the Constitution, the President, in the absence of a legislation, cannot take over privately-owned public utility and private business affected with public interest.

Again, that was the product of an overly-creative presidential legal team that likes to push the envelope. The Supreme Court likewise set the executive in its place here.

4. The military and the police should take only the “necessary and appropriate actions and measures to suppress and prevent acts of lawless violence.” But the words “acts of terrorism” found in General Order No. 5 have not been legally defined and made punishable by Congress and should thus be deemed deleted from it. While “terrorism” has been denounced generally in media, no law has been enacted to guide the military, and eventually the courts, to determine the limits of the AFP’s authority in carrying out this portion of the order.

5. Finally, with these restrictions, those aggrieved would probably file civil, criminal and administrative suits against all those who exercised such "invalid powers."

Likewise, this becomes additional cannon fodder for the impeachment of the incumbent president…

Let the lawsuits begin!

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