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Can a Gay Marriage in NY be recognized in the Philippines? July 10, 2011

Posted by Janjan in Idiocy, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
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8 comments

Dear Magnificent Atty. Perez,

Greetings from the city that never sleeps!  I was googling for help about my problem when I came across your site and the problem about the lovely “Maricar”.  After reading your advice to Fazouk, I knew you would give the right advice for me.  You see, my problem is like this:  a few months ago, I accepted a contractual job as a wrangler for longhorn cattle over at the lovely mountains of Wyoming.  I was assigned to guard them together with a macho guy from the Philippines named Sonny.  It was a tough job full of problems with wolves and tough weather, and in the course of a few weeks, Sonny and I bonded and became very close with each other.  One thing led to another, and soon Sonny and I were sharing the same sleeping bag, if you know what I mean.

Over time, Sonny and I realized that we were in love.  So when New York approved its gay marriage act on June 24, 2011, Sonny and I quit our jobs and flew to New York where we both tied the knot.  We had a short honeymoon period at the Big Apple until Sonny finally told me his big secret.

I still remember that day like it was only yesterday.  I was cooking breakfast in our small apartment in Soho, and both Sonny and I had bad hangovers from partying the night before.  Sonny brewed me a cup of strong black coffee and asked me to sit at the breakfast corner.  “Mike,” he told me.  “Mike… I can’t live a lie anymore.”

I put down the skillet, turned the grill off and sat down.  I hurriedly gulped the coffee despite its scalding heat because I knew I needed to be sober for his news.

“Mike.. you’re a good man, a great man,” Sonny said, not being able to look me in the eye.  He kept fidgeting, his fingers tearing away bits and pieces from the paper napkin.  “Sometimes, I think you’re too good for me, and in a lot of ways, you are.”

Sonny put the paper napkin down and looked at me, face to face.

“Mike.  I’m coming out of the closet.  I’m…. I’m….”

For some reason, I couldn’t keep the tears out of my eyes when Sonny plunged the knife deep into my heart.

Mike, I’m STRAIGHT!

And just like that Sonny destroyed all the happiness I have ever known.   As if on cue, a bitter country song started playing on the radio, about a cowboy riding alone on a strange horse at midnight, headed to Omaha.

“Forgive me Mike… I was confused… I was horny… I didn’t know what to do.  No, no, no… Mike, I’m sorry.  I was just using you to get a green card.  You see, I’m married in the Philippines.  I have a wife named Christine and three sons named Mark, Fruto and Michal.  I needed to give them a good life, a better life than what we have back in our country and you were my ticket out of poverty…”

At that point, I stormed out of the room, overturning all our meager possessions.  I don’t know how I was able to cross the street in the middle of traffic, with my tears obscuring my vision, but I walked out of Sonny and his lying, cheating ways and went to have fun and stay at the YMCA where I got myself clean.  Where I had a good meal.  Where I could do whatever I feel.

Someone advised me that in the Philippines, contracting a second marriage while your first marriage was existing is considered a crime of BIGAMY.

I want to get back at Sonny, your Magnificence.  I want to make him hurt like I hurt.  I want to make him know all there is to know about the crying game.  I want to put him into prison where unwashed fat men with badly-drawn tattoos will ass-rape the straightness out of him until Sonny comes back howling on his knees, asking me for forgiveness, promising to forget about his family back in the Philippines.

I’ve been told that you are evil and would not hesitate to make other lives miserable for an insane amount of money.  Well how does One Million Pesos for a criminal case sound?  Call me.

Truly yours,

Mike

I don't know how to quit you

I don't know how to quit you

Dear Mike,

First of all, allow me to extend my sympathies for the pain that your former lover inflicted on you.  And secondly, let me correct a common misconception about me.  I’m not the kind of lawyer who inflicts pain, misery and suffering to other people for money.

I’m the kind of lawyer who would do it happily for free.

But that being said, I gladly accept your One Million Pesos.  It will go a long way for my Pajero sinking fund.  Unfortunately, I am only a lawyer and not a bishop.  Nobody will give me an SUV for free.

Let’s focus on the problem at hand.

You certainly gave me a very interesting problem to work on, and I would like to accept it, if only to have a landmark Supreme Court ruling with my name on it.  You see, like you’ve read in the Maricar problem, the Philippines does not recognize gay marriages celebrated in our country, since it is contrary to our Family Code, which defines marriage as:

A special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with the law for the establishment of conjugal and family life.

And that the necessary requirements for a valid marriage is:

1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female, and;

2) Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer.

However, the difference between your situation and that of the Maricar one is that your marriage was celebrated OUTSIDE the Philippines while Fazouk and Maricar intended to get married in the country.  In this case, Article 26 of the Family Code, which provides that:

All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38. X x x

Those articles mentioned in Art. 26 consider the following marriages as null and void:

(1)    Those contracted by any party below eighteen years of age even with the consent of parents or guardians;

(2)    Bigamous or polygamous marriages;

(3)    Those contracted through mistake of one contracting party as to the identity of the other;

(4)    A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage

(5)    Incestuous marriages;

What this means, Mike, is that the Philippines is obliged to recognize the validity of a gay marriage celebrated in New York, where such marriage is considered valid and binding.  Unfortunately, your marriage with Sonny is considered null and void, not because it’s a gay marriage, but because it’s a bigamous marriage, since Sonny was previously married here in the Philippines.

However, nonwithstanding the fact that Sonny’s second marriage is void in the Philippines, he did however contract a second marriage, which makes him liable for the crime of bigamy.  The Revised Penal Code defines bigamy as:

The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings.

The fact that gay marriages celebrated in the Philippines are considered void, I believe, has no bearing on the prosecution of the second case.  This is supported by the Supreme Court, in the case of Jarillo vs. People of the Philippines (G.R. No. 164435, September 29, 2009), where it was ruled that:

For the very same reasons elucidated in the above-quoted cases, petitioner’s conviction of the crime of bigamy must be affirmed.   The subsequent judicial declaration of nullity of petitioner’s two marriages to Alocillo cannot be considered a valid defense in the crime of bigamy.  The moment petitioner contracted a second marriage without the previous one having been judicially declared null and void, the crime of bigamy was already consummated because at the time of the celebration of the second marriage, petitioner’s marriage to Alocillo, which had not yet been declared null and void by a court of competent jurisdiction, was deemed valid and subsisting.  Neither would a judicial declaration of the nullity of petitioner’s marriage to Uy make any difference. As held in Tenebro, “[s]ince a marriage contracted during the subsistence of a valid marriage is automatically void, the nullity of this second marriage is not per se an argument for the avoidance of criminal liability for bigamy.    x   x   x   A plain reading of [Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code], therefore, would indicate that the provision penalizes the mere act of contracting a second or subsequent marriage during the subsistence of a valid marriage.”  (Emboldened and underscored for emphasis)

So, if your question is whether your marriage to Sonny is valid in the Philippines, unfortunately, the answer is no, not because it’s a gay marriage, but because it’s a bigamous one.  But if you’re asking if you could put Sonny to jail for bigamy, yes, definitely, I think you could, and for a million pesos and my name in the SCRA, I will help you on that issue.  Besides, if you put Sonny to jail, that would mean his wife would be lonely and would need some moral support.  And I also happen to own a sleeping bag.

I hope that answers your question.  Thank you for your query, Mike, and I hope you will still find love, even when you look in all the wrong places.  Until then, I remain:

                                  The Magnificent Atty. Perez

-oO0Oo-

P.S.

This post-script is written in addendum to very good arguments raised by my classmate in law school, Atty. Jeffrey Ravelo, who presently teaches public international law.

Atty. Ravelo asked whether or not jurisdiction over the second marriage can be obtained by Phlippine courts, considering that it was celebrated abroad.  He also raised Articles 15 and 17 of the Civil Code which provide:

Art. 15.  Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad.

Art. 17.  The forms and solemnities of contracts, wills, and other public instruments shall be governed by the laws of the country in which they are executed.

When the acts referred to are executed before the diplomatic or consular officials of the Republic of the Philippines in a foreign country, the solemnities established by Philippine laws shall be observed in their execution.

Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those which have, for their object, public order, public policy and good customs shall not be rendered ineffective by laws or judgments promulgated, or by determinations or conventions agreed upon in a foreign country.

Basically, what Atty. Ravelo is saying is that theoretically, because the second marriage was celebrated abroad, therefore, the criminal act was outside of Philippine territory, which is one of the components for the courts’ power to put the case into trial.  Hence, there was no criminal act of bigamy committed because the second marriage was done outside the scope of Philippine criminal law to enforce.  This is supported by Article 2 of the Revised Penal Code which provides:

Except as provided in the treaties and laws of preferential application, the provisions of this Code shall be enforced not only within the Philippine Archipelago, including its atmosphere, its interior waters and maritime zone, but also outside of its jurisdiction, against those who:

1. Should commit an offense while on a Philippine ship or airship

2. Should forge or counterfeit any coin or currency note of the Philippine Islands or obligations and securities issued by the Government of the Philippine Islands;chan robles virtual law library

3. Should be liable for acts connected with the introduction into these islands of the obligations and securities mentioned in the presiding number;

4. While being public officers or employees, should commit an offense in the exercise of their functions; or

5. Should commit any of the crimes against national security and the law of nations, defined in Title One of Book Two of this Code.

Note that the second marriage does not fall within any of the situations allowing for extra-territorial jurisdiction of Philippine criminal laws.

Hence no crime of Bigamy has been committed by Sonny.

There are sometimes when yes, I reach the limits of my magnificence, and I have to defer to the wisdom and sound reasoning of a brilliant legal mind.  So to my companyero and (I’m proud to add), classmate in law school, Atty. Ravelo, thank you very much for your input on this matter.  I hope this discussion will someday be resolved in an actual Supreme Court case.


 

 

 

 

It All Starts with Taxes…. February 26, 2008

Posted by Janjan in Armchair Politics, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
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Okay… this is a veeerrrrrryyyy long blog to make up for my verrrrryyyyy long absence from “bLAWgging”. People who have are too busy to read this (i.e., people who have no lives to speak of), shoo… move on. Nothing to see here.

I actually wrote this entry last January, but in the light of recent political events, I find this entry very apt and prophetic. So I’m posting it now. Scathing criticisms shall be met with cold indifference, and an eventual backstab in the dark from an unseen ninja. Fawning praises and songs of adulation will be met with much narcissistic preening and false modesty. So hit me with your best shot…. Fire away!
————-

On April 15 of this year and of every year, I come across my most dreaded prescriptive period of all prescriptive periods (that means “deadlines” for those of you who do not speak Martian). Yup, you know what I mean… it’s the last day of filing of income tax for individuals who rely solely on compensation income, as well as for those juridical entities who follow the calendar year for their accounting systems.

Why do I dread this deadline? Well… when I file my income tax return, I get to see how much of my precious earnings go to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (or BIR), and penultimately, to the government, and when I do see this amount, I can’t help but cringing and saying “OUCH!” Those precious pesoses could well go into a lot of things to make my life more enjoyable… good food, a much-needed vacation, an AF 12-24mm f/4 Tokina lens, or more memory and an extra battery for my trusty and dependable laptop. Or even straight into the bank account where I am diverting funds for buying my first car. (Current balance: Zero. I should’ve taken up photography after I got myself the Power Picanto of DOOM!)

To make the pain of seeing my money go to taxes, I think about the good that it will go to, which will eventually redound to me, in the form of infrastructure, government services, administrative expenses, and the like. I think of all the poor children who will get good textbooks, of the expensive asphalt that’s used to line and maintain our streets, and the hardworking government workers who have money to take home to their families because of my tax contributions. A lot of good has to come out of it, right? For this mandatory sacrifice, society is improved and we citizens are given the security, service, and infrastructure that we need to improve our quality of life.

And then again, I cringe.

What improvement in services, infrastructure or quality of life???

The reality is that when we go to poor rural provinces, we see our children being taught by teachers who have the equivalent educational competency of a Third-grade student in the modern world. In certain city and municipal hospitals, I have heard of the dilution of the hospital’s alcohol with water because there’s really not much to go around for everyone who is in need of medical attention. In our cities, we see multi-million infrastructure projects that remain unfinished, despite the huge budget earmarked for its construction. In our rural courts, I have heard of a shortage of bond paper and office supplies because the court has run out of money for their purchase.

And we wonder…. so much of what we have goes to taxes. It seems like every move we make, we get taxed. When we earn income, we are imposed a hefty income tax. When we buy commodities, we are slapped on with value-added taxes. When we impart gifts to our beloved, there’s a donor’s tax. Heck, even in death, the State finds a way to tax us, in the form of estate taxes. Truly, there is a truism when the sages say that there are three constants in mortal life: Debts, Death and Taxes.

At its extreme, let us examine how corporations are taxed. First of all, the corporate income is slapped on with a hefty 35% tax on net profit. Then, as it is distributed among the corporation’s owners, 6% of the dividends is taxed as well. So effectively, if you are a businessman operating under a corporate structure, you are being taxed 41% of your precious earnings. For every P100 you make, P41 of that goes to the government.

Okay… say it with me now, one, two, three: OUCH!

SO WHERE DOES ALL THAT MONEY THAT GOES TO TAXES GO OFF TO? WHAT BECOMES OF “THE LIFE-BLOOD OF PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT”???

It would perhaps be more bearable if it weren’t for the fact that we see so many government officials starting out as average people, who, after working in the government, suddenly have a sudden windfall of wealth. Their wives are seen with genuine Prada bags, while the husbands drive around with Terranos or Pajeros or Crosswinds and what have you. They take fancy trips to Europe and Asia while somewhere in a badly-dilapidated wing of an elementary school, three children are sharing a tattered textbook with badly mangled historical facts, listening to an instructor blabber on in pidgin English.

Something has to change.

Unfortunately, our government is stuck in a vicious cycle of corruption and cheating. It’s become another constant in our lives as Filipino citizens. I for one was born under the Marcos era. I have never ever in my life experienced a reprieve from the endless headlines of corruption, bribery, graft and inefficiency in the government. I am so used to it that I honestly take it for granted that a government official WILL be dishonest, WILL steal public funds, and WILL have controversies and irregularities in their election or appointment into office. For me, an honest government official is like a unicorn, or the Philippine team winning a gold medal in the Olympics. There are rumors that they exist, but no one has actually seen one in the flesh.

Okay… I apologize to all honest government officials out there, because to be fair, I have met a lot of them, and they really have done wonderful things for the country. I’m just being my usual hyperbolic self.

But nevertheless, you would agree with me, wouldn’t you? Graft and corruption has become so entrenched that when we hear of honest and oustanding government officials and employees, you can’t help but stand up and preserve the moment with your cellphone camera, just to show to cynics and disbelievers of the fundamental good of the human race that truly, an honest Filipino government worker exists and is serving the public. The next thing you know, our Philippine basketball players might come back from the next Olympics in China astride pure white unicorns, displaying their gold medals for all Filipinos to see. Then I will look for the nearest rock and cower underneath it because it is a sure sign that the world and everything we know has come to an end. Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla! Save us from our mythical enemies! Win for us the much prestigious Metro Manila Filmfest Awards!

My grandparents (God bless their souls) used to tell me that there was a time when corruption was not so prevalent in our government. This was the time of Presidents Osmeña, Quezon, Magsaysay, Roxas and all the wonderful true STATESMEN of yesteryears. “Really Lolo? I don’t believe it!,” I told my grandfather. And he would get that far-away and dreamy look in his eyes, seeing the glory of things as they were and a vision of what should have been. Then he would fart. It was just the fish he had for lunch, after all.

But seriously, so many of those who have gone before me all say that things were so much better in the past. (As most old people are wont to do). Government workers, at least, had the decency to lie low and cover up their tracks when they were corrupt, knowing the shame of getting caught in the act would cause a great stir in society. But old-timers say that the Marcos era came and changed all that. Suddenly, corruption was institutionalized, and government officials, from the most mundane government position and all the way to the most powerful seat in the land have become brazen and wanton in their dishonesty and incompetency. You would see a cashier in an administrative agency tell you to your face that she’s busy then open her cabinet, get her make-up and powder her nose in front of you. After she’s done, she will use the phone to call her Avon lady and make more purchases. You see hearing officers indiscreetly accept sealed envelopes from the opposing counsel before your very presence. You read of Senators, Congressmen and Presidents diverting funds for public projects into mysterious bank accounts which have their own names as signatories. (But I was merely holding it in trust for the Poor Carabao Scouts of Canadia, who asked my help in forming a foundation in their name! Yes, of course, they DO need Ten Million Pesos as a development fund! *look of rightneous indignation* The cassava flour which they need to sell Carabao Scout Balanghoy doesn’t come cheap you know! It’s imported all the way from Vietnam!”)

And when there’s no fear of getting caught, the next step is to see how far they can get away with the theft of public funds, with amounts getting more and more ludicrous with each passage of the General Appropriations Act. Their lifestyles become more and more questionable while less and less of our funds are actually put to public use.

But let’s stop pointing our fingers and blaming so and so government official shall we? My point is that THEY ARE ALL CORRUPT, and they all just came from ordinary Filipinos like you and me (ERGO, we are ALL corrupt). Removing or impeaching one is pointless, because just like every cockroach and rat that develops an immunity to a poison, they keep coming back with different faces and different schemes. If they are not hopelessly corrupt, then they are so hopelessly stupid to the point of being inefficient and running the country to the ground. Given the fact that every government official will be corrupt, then I say at least let us pick officials who are smart enough not to mess up our economy and give something TANGIBLE back to the State.

A lot of idealists and purists out there would hate my Machiavellian view of things (and I would be the first to admit that my flawed logic would only give way to even more complacency and even more graft and corruption), but really, what can you do?

We can complain and impeach and imprison each and every government official we find, but soon we will be left with no one to run our country, because I tell you anyone you put into power will be corrupt and inefficient, in one way or another. Impeachment and imprisonment will not hack it anymore, as former President Estrada has proven time and time again. He will still find the face to say that he was innocent and a victim of politics. Or worse, they will find a way to frustrate the very ends of justice that seeks to punish them, just like the President that I thought I endorsed does. (“Yay! Go team! You can do it Nicky! Survive!!! Survive!!! Survive!!!”)

What we really need to do is to show them that we mean business. I propose that for every government official that gets caught doing an act of bribery, graft or corruption, we should cut off their extremities one by one, including those private individuals who conspired to their act. Then, for serious offenses like plunder, we should hang them by the testicles on the flag pole of Malacanang, with honey, sugar, and Carabao Scout Balanghoy slathered all over their bodies, then release a nest of fire ants at the base. If the government official does not have testicles, then we will hang their husbands instead. If they don’t have husbands, we will marry them off to one. I hear there are some Asian sub-cultures who enjoy that kind of fetish. Maybe they would like to run for politics in the Philippines.

As you well know, it’s a vicious cycle. We get corrupt government officials because we elect and appoint corrupt people into public office. We elect these people into public office because we allow our votes to get bought. We allow out votes to get bought because we don’t have a good ethical foundation. We don’t have a good ethical foundation because as children, our government gave us substandard facilities and education in the public school system. We were given substandard facilities and education because our great statesmen were busy defalcating our public funds to buy a condo in Forbes for their mistresses. We have corrupt government officials because we elect corrupt people into public office and so on and so forth…

HOLD ON! PRESS RESTART BUTTON! DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200! CIGARETTE SMOKING IS DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH!

There is a way out, a way that ensures a clean start for our new generation. To eliminate corruption in our system, my Tax professor in my review classes has a very succinct solution: “Shoot all Filipinos above the age of 7

Oh well… it’s a dire situation but to be honest, I have not given up hope. I have not lost faith in the bouyant and positive spirit of our Filipino race. I still believe that we have the capacity to change, as long as we work harder at putting fundamental changes in society, and laugh on our foibles and pecularities by reading about the humorous side of corruption in other people’s blogs. (“Perez… the Magnificent Atty. Perez.” It almost sounds like Denny Crane, innit?)

And most of all… invest, invest, INVEST in good public education for our poor and marginalized children. Good facilities, great teachers, the best books. Teach them fundamental ethics and good moral conduct, whether by a generic viewpoint espoused by athiests or by religious underpinings forwarded by whatever faith you follow. Make it a heinous crime to divert funds away from our public education system. Stop using our teachers as watchers and canvassers for the elections and start implementing a computerized voting system. Best of all, take away our lawmen’s pork barrel and divert it into the budget for hiring EXCELLENT and HIGHLY EDUCATED teachers.

(Yeah right Magnificent. Dream on.)

In the meantime, tomorrow, I will withdraw a hefty sum of money from my bank account, and file my income taxes in advance. I will try hard not to wince and think about the things I could have bought for myself with my tax money, and imagine all the wonderful things that our honest and hardworking public officials will use with that money for the common good. Then I will go to the nearest mall and drown my sorrows in the biggest serving of ice cream that I could buy.

Either that or unwrap a package of the best Carabao Scout Balanghoy in this side of the Visayas. Mmmm. Vietnamese cassava goodness.

Cleaning Up October 14, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, cebuano, clean and green, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
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1 comment so far

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

I am rousing myself from my self-imposed intellectual slumber to take part in a movement around the world calling one and all to care about the environment. It’s a movement called Blog Action Day, where bloggers like me are endeavored to raise ecological awareness.

As a Filipino living in the second most heavily-populated metropolis in the country, my ecological concern is about sanitation and garbage management, one of the biggest offshoots and problems arising from the rise of urban living.

As children, we were brought up to believe that “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” And although I was not the tidiest and most fastidious child in the planet, I was however very conscientious about putting my trash straight into the garbage can. It makes sense. We cannot abide clutter in our houses, right? We don’t like to see torn plastic packets, dust, fallen leaves, refuse, bottles, and food wastes lying around where rats, cockroaches and other vermin may scurry about and infest our well-kept homes and tidied apartments.

What doesn’t make sense to me is why our cleanliness and sanitation practices are left behind when we leave our houses. We are supposed to be a well-educated and highly-disciplined nation, and yet, when we go outside, it’s a common sight to see people throwing their waste and refuse just about anywhere. Back when I was still a student, I was distressed to see my fellow schoolmates throwing their barbecue sticks, puso wrappers, and candy packets on the floor, not caring enough to find a nearby trash can to throw their wastes.

I wish the practice stopped as I got older where people are supposed to be more mature and disciplined, but I fear that the older people get, the more callous they were of their surroundings. In fact, I often witnessed one of my classmates in law school, a professional, repeatedly throwing his candy wrappers inside our own classroom, when a garbage can was only a few meters away from where he was eating. I wanted so much to point out to him that this practice was offensive to me because I shared a classroom with him and as students of a prestigious university, a higher caliber of discipline and cleanliness is expected of us. I don’t know which is more disturbing to me, the fact that my highly educated classmate could callously live like a pig or the fact that I who knew better could not bring myself to scold him about his littering in the premises.

The fact is that our littering must stop. It’s the cause of so much of our problems as urban dwellers. Indiscriminate littering has clogged up our sewers and esteros so that come rainy season, we find our streets flooded with dirty rain water and the ghosts of our unsanitary practices coming back to haunt us. Our littering is then washed up to the rivers and seas, causing the pollution of our waters and the poisoning of our precious reefs and fishes.

But even these serious ecological problems aside, doesn’t the sight of trash and refuse disturb anyone anymore? I’ve had the privilege of living in great urban metropolises abroad, from Los Angeles, to San Francisco, to New Jersey and New York. I’ve been to Hong Kong and Toronto and seen cities that are much more heavily populated than Cebu or Manila, and yet walking along their busy causeways and streets, you would find nary a candy wrapper, biscuit packet, or broken bottle lying for all to see or walk on. In fact, it would be very rare to find ANYONE throwing their trash and refuse just about anywhere on the street.

The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, we Filipinos are PIGS. Our sanitation and littering practices are atrocious. Whether you’re walking along the highly urban streets of Ayala Ave. in Makati City or the sub-urban paths along Cardinal Rosales Ave. in Cebu City, you’re likely to find trash, refuse and the leavings of insensitive urban dwellers so callously left behind on our public streets and avenues.

In fact, one little anecdote sticks to my mind pointing out how unhygienic we Filipinos are. During my first time in the U.S., my American uncle treated the whole family out to a snack at MacDonald’s. I was the first to finish eating, and like most Filipinos, I just left my burger wrapper and plastic cup on my tray, lying on the table for the MacDonald’s busboy to clean up. My uncle called my attention and pointed out that in the U.S., after the customers finish eating, it was expected of them to put their own litter in the trashcan. And true to form, I saw the American patrons cleaning up after themselves, leaving the table ready for the next customer to use them.

We Filipinos pride ourselves in being thoughtful, educated and cultured as a race, and yet, why can’t we emulate something as simple and efficient as that? It’s just a simple matter of cleaning up after ourselves.

Whenever I confront the notorious litterers among my friends, they always give me the excuse, “Well, what are we paying the janitor for then?” Having a janitor or a busboy or a metro-aide to clean up after you is no excuse for us to practice good sanitation and hygiene in our premises, regardless of whether it is in the comfort of our own homes or in public areas of common use. The fact is that as supposedly highly-educated people, we owe it to ourselves to be responsible of where we throw our garbage.

As urban dwellers, you and I are no longer carefree citizens whose domain stops at the perimeter of our fences. We are very closely inter-connected that the practices of one will have a domino effect on the life of another. Every time you play your music too loud, or callously throw your refuse on the street, or even breathe out your cigarette smoke where other people breathe, you are already polluting the environment and affecting the people who live in the city with you.

We all have to be responsible because we do not live in a vacuum where we alone are affected by our own actions. The misdeeds of callousness of one can lead to the degradation of the quality of life of another.

I still believe that cleanliness is next to godliness and we Filipinos, who profess ourselves to be the only dominantly-Christian country in Asia, owe it to ourselves to reflect the Christ within us by living clean and pure even in the most little of practices.

Please… help ease our country’s garbage management problems by simply putting your garbage where it belongs… inside a trashcan. It’s really just as simple as that.

I Know All There Is To Know About the Crying Game August 15, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Idiocy, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
19 comments

Dear Magnificent Atty. Perez,May a thousand winds fan you with cool breezes despite the heat of an unforgiving sun!

Good day! My name is Fazouk, I am a camel trader from Middle Eastern country. Around 8 months ago, I met this divine vision of loveliness from your country, a creature whom the angels have gifted with the name “Maricar.” She and I met through the wonders of cybersex on the Internet.

I pursued and courted Maricar for 4 months, communicating with each other through e-mail, chatting, webcam and phone calls, until eventually, I made the grand decision to fly all over to your beautiful country to finally meet my love. Do you believe in love at first sight, Attorney? That was how I felt when I first saw Maricar at the airport. She was literally the most beautiful girl that I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t wait to alone with her and ravish her with the burning passions of the Mideastern dessert.

Fortunately, during the third day of my stay in the Philippines, I finally got my chance. The walls of Jericho caved in for Fazouk and my Maricar found her sweet body on my soft hotel bed.

But that was where I learned the bitter truth, your Magnificence. May a thousand and one of Sulaiman’s djinns strike me blind, deaf, mute but not impotent!!! May a sandworm rise from the desert and eat all my camels, leaving behind nothing but precious spice!!! What is the truth, you may ask??? What is the bitter truth???

Maricar’s real name is MARIO CARUNGOY!!

Yes Attorney!!! Under the cruel fluorescent light of harsh reality, my lover could no longer hide her secrets, with her body laid bare and open to all scrutiny and so I had to ask, “What is THAT????!!!!!”

Oh the shame!! The shame!! My father is turning in his grave, grief stricken by the fallow turns of fate dealt upon his foolish son. However, Attorney, destiny has left me a greater sorrow when I realized that I cannot help it… I AM IN LOVE WITH MARICAR!!! Yes!!! Whoever he, she or it may be, I LOVE YOU MARICAR!! YOU COMPLETE ME! I’ve realized the truth… I cannot live without you! Oh the shame!!! May my father strike me dead!!!

These are my plans Attorney: First, I cannot accept the fact that Maricar’s sheesha pipe is bigger than that of my camel’s, so I am going to pay for her sex-change operation so that he, she, or it will finally become a REAL woman.

Second, I want to make Maricar happy by getting married in the Philippines, attended by all of his, her or it’s close family and friends. But will the Philippines legally recognize Maricar as my wife? Will it be alright to get married in a Catholic church when I am not even a Christian?

If this is not possible, can we go somewhere else that will legally recognize our uhm… unusual marriage arrangements, like for example Amsterdam in the Netherlands? Will that be legally recognized?

Please help me Attorney… I have no one else to turn to!

Love hurts,

Fazouk the Camel Salesman

Dear Fazouk,

I sympathize with your predicament and may I just say that truly, there is a truism to Shakespeare when he wrote that “Love has its reason which reason does not know.” This fact was even recognized by the Supreme Court in the poignant case of Chua-Qua vs Hon. Jacobo Clave (G.R. No. L-4959, August 1990).

Unfortunately for you and your Mario Carungoy (erstwhile known as the lovely Maricar), the Philippines is quite adamant and strict in the interpretation of the law where no less than our Family Code has defined marriage as:

“A special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with the law for the establishment of conjugal and family life.”

Article 2 of the same law further requires the following essential requisites:

1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female, and;

2) Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer.

So, needless to say my friend, if you do get married to your precious Maricar whether here or in another country, your union will not be recognized by the Philippines because under the eyes of our law, Maricar will always be a MAN, regardless of whether or not you will cut off his, her or its manhood and feed it to your camels. And in our country, a man could NOT marry another man. (And besides… you did not mention which country you come from, but isn’t it possible that in certain Middle Eastern countries, you and Maricar would get stoned to death for having that kind of marriage?)

So, whether or not Maricar will undergo a sex-change operation, in the eyes of Philippine law, Maricar will always be Mario Carungoy. Why? For your marriage to be valid, the law requires that Maricar should have been born as a woman, and not become a “woman” subsequently thereafter. This fact is explained by Article 1 of the Family Code when it provides that the purpose of marriage is for the establishment of conjugal and family life, or in other words… the biological procreation of children must have a shade of possibility from the onset of your marriage.

Finally, although it is already moot and academic at this point, I would like to state that had Maricar truly been a natural woman and not merely a “you make me feel like a natural woman”, it would have been alright for the two of you to get married in a Catholic church, even if you are not Catholic. Paragraph 2 of Article 7 of the Family Code provides that:

Marriage may be solemnized by:

xxx

2) Any priest, rabbi, imam, or minister of any church or religious sect and registered with the civil registrar general, acting within the limits of the written authority granted him by his church or religious sect and provided that at least one of the contracting parties belongs to the solemnizing officer’s church or religious sect;

I feel your pain and torment, Fazouk. I hope you and your Maricar will find happiness despite all the obstacles that the world will pin on your union. Whether or not such happiness will lie in each other’s arms, is a matter I don’t wish to judge. Everybody deserves to be happy, that is all I want to say. 8)

My friend Matet has a saying and I’m sure you’ll agree with me on this: “When the world hands you lemons…. grab some tequila and salt and call me over right away.”

Good luck Fazouk and may you find shade in an oasis far away from the sun.

Sincerely,

the Magnificent Atty. Perez

A Bajillionaire’s Guide to Simple Estate Planning August 7, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Idiocy, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
13 comments

Dear Magnificent Atty. Perez,

My name is Scrooge McDuck, a bonnie Scot mallard of the clan McDucks from Glasgow, Scotland. It pleases me to note that you are a quite learned and enthusiastic human lawyer for one your age (not to mention the fact that you give FREE legal advice), and though you have taken a penchant for educating the poor and underprivileged of society, may I inquire as to whether you would render your expert legal opinion on one such as myself…. eccentric bajillionaires that are absurdly wealthy beyond all measure. (And dear sir, I ask that you render me the same FREE legal advice as you would the likes of Maritess and Ging-ging.)

Now sir, I have acquired an estate over at Sagay in the Province of Negros Occidental. It is a wonderful hacienda, as you Filipinos would say, one overlooking a vast sugarfield with a thousand and five slaves, errr, I mean laborers, toiling in my sugar fields. The estate includes a horse farm, a banana plantation, a free lot where I shall be growing Jatropha (known in your native parlance as tuba-tuba) for bio-diesel, as well as a 5-hectare beach front that I intend to develop into a beach resort.In the interests of providing my three grand-nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie with employment, I also intend to acquire two franchises: Sunburst Fried Chicken and Jo’s Chicken Inato, two very well-respected establishments in your native Cebu.

Lately, I have considered acquiring a salt-mine in Bukidnon, which will not only provide my grand-nephews with free salt for their restaurant business, but shall likewise provide me with the pleasure of cracking my whip and ordering, “Work my peons!! Work!!! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”

However, I am getting quite advanced in my years. Having first appeared in Disney’s “Christmas in Bear Mountain” on the year 1947, I am now more or less in the respectable age of 60 years old. (Which makes my nephew Donald, who first appeared on June 9, 1934, thirteen years older than I. Absurd, is it not?)

Nevertheless, such being the case, I am asking for your esteemed legal advise on this matter: I plan to bequeath my properties in favor of my nephew Donald, and my grandnephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. I have already made arrangements for all my properties around the world but none for my properties in the Philippines. I may or may not engage your services as my lawyer in the matter, depending on the advise given.

So, my dear Magnificent Atty. Perez, how can you help me with this endeavor?

Ad quack dei memoriam,

Scrooge McDuck

Dear Uncle Scrooge (Please please please… Can I call you Uncle Scrooge????):

I write in reply to your query dated August 8, 2007 on the matter of how to dispose your Philippine assets with the view of the same being transmitted in favor of your nephew Donald Duck and your grandnephews Huey Duck, Dewey Duck and Louie Duck.

But before I do, I just want to say that I AM SUCH A BIG FAN OF YOUR CARTOON SERIES, DUCKTALES!!! I think I may have skipped a few classes just to see your adventures on GMA-7, and my childhood consists of singing our your theme song, “Duck Tales!! Woohoo!!!” I wish YOU were my real uncle.

That being said, let me now go to the matter on hand. What you ask for, dear Uncle Scrooge, is a matter called Estate Planning, which is a legal program of planning the disposition of one’s existing and future assets in a way that minimizes one’s taxes, as well as reduces the headaches of litigation on inheritance matters.

Considering the glut of your assets here in the Philippines, my recommendation is that you form a corporation and transfer all your assets under the name of this corporation. Considering likewise that you will need a corporation to manage and run your businesses in the Philippines, I wholly recommend the formation of one such corporation. We can call the business “McDuck Enterprises, Inc.” We can reserve the name now, if you want. If the name has been taken, may I suggest we call the corporation “Itlog Maalat Corporation” instead? In Filipino, that loosely means, “Good Fortune, Good Venture, Good TASTE!”

Now, there are three ways that we can transfer the assets to your corporation. The first way is through a “sale” of assets by you to your corporation. The advantage of this option is that it is the fastest and easiest method to transfer the assets to your corporation, involving only the execution of a Deed of Absolute Sale and the registration of the same with the Registry of Deeds and voila! Your assets are transferred to your corporation! The drawback? This method also involves the payment of a greater rate of taxes (a Capital Gains Tax of 10% of either the fair market value of the property or its selling price, whichever is higher), hence, not recommended if we are dealing with vast tracks of land and numerous properties. Imagine transferring property worth P800 million… we’re talking about taxes at the rate of P80 million!

The second option is to “donate” the properties to your corporation. This option has the same expediency as the first method, which may or may not have a higher tax rate than the first, depending on the value of the property donated. However, I do not favor this method since in terms of succession planning, this is the least secure method of transfer, in the sense that properties validly donated may still be collated by the other heirs under the estate of the decedent. As you know, families have been destroyed all because of squabbles over inheritance. Thus, if your purpose in transferring the properties is for the sake of buying peace within the family, then I recommend that you don’t resort to a donation.

The third option is to have an equity swap, meaning that you will “invest” these properties under the name of your corporation in exchange for shares of stock of the same. Of all the three methods, this option involves the most bureaucracy and red-tape, but nonetheless, it is also the one that involves the least amount of taxes. Technically, no taxes are involved other than documentary stamp taxes (1% of the book value of the original issuance of shares of stock), but you will be paying for certain fees.

The third option essentially involves the Bureau of Internal Revenue which will issue a tax ruling declaring the transfer in exchange for capital stock as a tax-free transfer. The tax ruling is to be issued by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, who is based in Manila, hence, you will need to have your lawyer periodically follow up the matter over at BIR head office in Manila.

As to transferring these properties under the name of your nephew and grandnephews, it merely involves the issuance of stock certificates under their name, or the execution of a Deed of Assignment, as the case may be.

There are many more ways I can help you legally minimize taxes and form your corporation in a manner that best serves your needs, but that advice is no longer free, I’m sorry to say. Might I entice you to visit me here in Cebu and employ the services of both my law firm and my bookkeeping corporation? Let’s have lunch, my treat. There’s this delightful Chinese restaurant called Grand Majestic that serves the best Peking Duck in Cebu!

Errrrrrr….. on second thought, how would you like some Sunburst Fried Chicken? 8)

Truly yours,

the Magnificent Atty. Perez

Thriller at the Jail! July 26, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, cebuano, Idiocy, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
7 comments

Here’s a very entertaining video of Cebuano inmates from the Cebu Provincial jail giving Michael Jackson some thrilling justice. The very source of the video is the provincial consultant of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), Mr. Byron Garcia (who is also the son of former Cebu governor and now contestant for the Speakership position of the Lower House, Hon. Pablo Garcia).

Mr. Garcia also wrote an interesting article on the provincial penal system, which I am reposting below:

—————–

Speak out: The CPDRC experience
By Byron F. Garcia
Consultant on Security, Cebu Provincial Government

Penology in the country has always been equated with crime and punishment. Or crime plus punishment equals rehabilitation and reformation. But it can also mean crime plus punishment plus rehabilitation equals prison management.

Gray areas and loopholes abound in jail management, as there are many ways to circumvent rehabilitation. At the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), the approach to rehabilitation is discipline, physical fitness, dismantling of the culture of corruption and preemptive decongestion.

It is a concept that views behavioral change and culture in the microcosm of a sick society, which is, the jail.

It is actually inside jails or rehabilitation centers that societal decadence is magnified. Drug trafficking and smuggling, addiction, politics and corruption prevail and proliferate because the jail environment provides fertile grounds for these to spread and transmit rapidly.

No matter how restrictive regulations may be, inmates and even jail guards can find loopholes in an already flawed system, making corruption a never-ending cycle.

Security, too, looks beyond the physical aspect. While padlocks and sophisticated gadgetry may physically shut off and isolate inmates from the world, it does not assure security.

Cultural, behavioral

Security must be approached not only physically but also from the cultural and behavioral context.

Inmates at the CPDRC are required to go through a workout regimen. While the goal is to keep the body fit in order to keep the mind fit, such may not actually happen if it is not done in a manner deemed pleasurable. Music, being the language of the soul, is added to that regimen.

Decadent cultures in jails are only spillovers of the culture outside. In approaching behavioral and cultural change, one has to look at the decadence of society to change the culture in the jail.

To do away with inmate and jail guard politics, rehabilitation must employ divide and rule. This is meant to discourage organization among inmates, where inherently gang culture exists.

Here lies the blunder. Penology or jail management in this country has never looked at gang culture in jails as one that actually propagates corruption and decadent culture. In most cases, jail authorities support and tolerate gang culture without considering that it actually impedes rehabilitation.

Gangs breed corruption and corruption breeds enmity and animosity between inmates or between inmates and guards.

Four components

To prevent familiarity between inmates and guards, security is done in four component forces: the Capitol Civil Security Forces, which conducts surprise greyhound operations and is tasked to inspect visitors during visiting days; the jail guards, who have direct contact with the inmates; the Provincial Security Group, which escorts inmates to and from court hearings; and the blue guards that check on the three security components at the entrance of the facility.

While the old practice of using jail guards won’t vanish, a four-tiered check-and-balance approach is used to plug the gaps for corruption.

To do away with corruption in jail finances, budgets are allocated and released directly from the Capitol treasury. Fund management, especially on food, is taken away from jail authorities.

Inmates, too, are not allowed to hold cash. Money is considered illegal. A system is provided where inmates can entrust their cash to jail authorities and have these converted to purchase orders. This is to ensure that money won’t be used for the purchase of contraband and to discourage gambling.

Jail capacity

While Jail authorities in this country continue to find ways to solve jail congestion or over-crowding, CPDRC has taken the very simple approach, which is by shutting its doors once it reaches full capacity.

What seems to be contemptuous and arrogant would prove to be admirable and humbling in the end, for it gives utmost consideration to the general welfare and security of the occupants inside the jail. Jails in our country are congested because penology chose it to be.

True rehabilitation may need revolutionary change in policies and approaches. At the CPDRC, the experience in responsive rehabilitation has proven that revolutionary change can be done from within.

Legislative Wish List July 23, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, Armchair Politics, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
1 comment so far

I hereby append my concurring opinion to Atty. Jaime Soriano’s manifesto:

Legislative wish list


Tomorrow, the Fourteenth Congress of the Philippines begins its regular session with the State of the Nation address of the President.

Thereafter, both the Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to pass legislations that would address the pressing needs of the country or perhaps improve the lives of the Filipino people.

Hopefully in the next three years of the Fourteenth Congress, it enacts legislative measures along these lines:

1. A enabling law that would finally define, prohibit and dismantle political dynasties in the country’s political environment as mandated by the Constitution.

2. A law that would strengthen political parties by prohibiting and punishing political turncoats, granting state subsidy and funding of major political blocks, and assuring transparency in electoral campaign spending and contribution.

3. A law that would at least lessen, if not eliminate, red tape in government particularly in the delivery of frontline public services whereby the general public availing of the services of government is treated as kings and queens by the bureaucracy.

4. A law that would define the appropriate land use classification of every piece of the country’s territory taking into account local and regional profiles and settings and make land as a real engine for economic growth.

5. A law that would impose heavy taxation on idle lands to serve the ends of the economy, the environment and social justice. When land is unproductive, its economic and environmental functions are stifled. What is worse is when landowners derive undue profits from their idle possessions through sheer speculative activities.

6. A law that would grant the Commission on Human Rights and the Commission on Audit quasi-judicial powers or even the authority to prosecute all cases involving government officials and employees that violate laws within their ambit.

7. A law that would exempt from income taxation employees earning below the yearly poverty threshold as determined by the National Economic and Development Authority, and not merely based on existing minimum wage structures as proposed, and lift taxes or prohibit imposition of charges on small time deposits and investments.

8. A law that would ensure prosecution of tax cheats by prohibiting taxpayers from entering into a compromise with the Bureau of Internal Revenue or the Bureau of Customs after deliberately evading the payment of taxes or duties.

9. A law that would automatically give scholarship to any or all students who demonstrated excellent academic performance in any school of their choice within the Philippines, private or public.

10. A law that would support, finance, subsidize, or give incentives to Filipino inventors and their inventions.

Of course, this list can go on and on as if there is a shortage of laws in this country. But the truth is there are tens of thousand of law in the country’s statute books. Many of them are in fact good laws which have long been forgotten or rarely being implemented.

Keen political observers in fact would often say that this country does not need more laws. What it needs is the difficult task of better and more effective means of demanding obedience to existing laws.

Perhaps, one of the important­ things that this present Congress should also do is to take an inventory of all the laws of the Republic and start proceeding with the tedious task of codifying them for better implementation.

What Greek philosopher Arcesilaus observed as early as before the birth of Christ, when he said: “Where you find the laws most numerous, there you will find also the greatest injustice” should also provoke the thoughts of Filipino solons.

It is hoped that the people of this beautiful country still finds sense in the existence of Congress.

Deep Thoughts By Atty. Perez (vol. 2) July 22, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer, Idiocy, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
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I apologize… I’ve been so lazy. I have a lot of things to write about, but I can’t summon the motivation to do so. Let me make up for it by recycling an old post that I made in my old Friendster blog.

DEEP THOUGHTS BY ATTY. PEREZ VOL. 2 08/09/2006

Future criminals, take note: I have mapped out the perfect plan for you to get away scot-free from criminal liability. If you’re thinking of committing a crime, this is what you should first do:

1) Go to a very public and very crowded elevator. I recommend the one in Ayala-Cebu… the one near the fountain.

2) Wait for passengers to get in. It’s best if it’s very full. Try to make sure it’s filled with strangers, because strangers make very credible witnesses. If possible, make sure one of the passengers is either a grandmother, a judge, or a priest.

3) Pick the right moment. Usually, it’s one where the elevator is perfectly silent and people are occupied in their own thoughts.

4) When the right moment comes… meow. That’s right. Meow.

5) The passengers on the elevator, will, of course, stare at you. Keep quiet when they do and don’t look them in the eye. Look like you’re not aware of what’s going on. To achieve that look, pretend you’re really, really bored or really, really constipated… or both.

6) When they look away, meow again. You heard me. Again.

7) Repeat steps 5 and 6 as often as you think necessary, for full measure.

By this time, the passengers on the elevator will think you’re absolutely out of your mind insane. Which is good, because that’s exactly what you want to make them think.

8) Repeat this behaviour on at least five separate occasions, preferrably in the same elevator. You want to establish a reputation as the “Crazy Meowing Passenger of the Ayala Elevator” or any similar location.

That being done, you are now free to commit your crime. They can’t pin anything on you…. you’re already proven to be insane. Insanity is, after all, an absolutory circumstance. Your estate will be liable for civil obligations, of course, but at least you won’t go to jail.

Have fun.

Ang Bagong Superhero ng Bayan July 7, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer, Idiocy, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
25 comments

Dear Magnificent Atty. Perez,

Torney, I am thank you, your so kind. It is me, you know, Maritess, from de Superprinds. Torney, I am fans of your blag. You know, you mention me in your blags, and I am a happy. Your so kind Torney, and your fans of Sarah Geronimo. I am fans of Victor Wood but I am also fans of Sarah Geronimo. She’s like Megastar, you know, Sharon. Your so kind Torney, your so kind.

You help Ging-ging Torney. You help her with the aliens. And you help her for free, you know, Torney, your so kind. Like bald man in Sparta, you know Torney, your so kind.

Please Torney, you have to help me. Hindi ko na kaya Torney. I am slave of Superprinds, please watch video Torney, slave ako nila! I am tired Torney, all day long I am a tired. Si Aquaman Torney, he’s still angry with me, because I cook the fish Attorney. You know, that’s not right! Pilipino ako Torney. I am love the fish! So, you know, I give Aquaman the hipon and the ginamos, but he still angry Attorney! He’s not from Sparta, Attorney, he’s not kind! Pero I said na man I am suri Aquaman, I am so suri!! But Aquaman, you know, he is the angry with me. He told me to clean his kubeta Attorney, pero it’s so big! Our swimming pool is kasilyas Attorney and it’s so dirty and so baho, and yuck, it has little mermaid! Thats not right Torney! It’s not right!!!

And Superman Torney, he’s a bad. He’s a bad Torney! I told him, Wag po kuya Superman wag po! I am not a Lois Lane! But… but… OH ATTORNEY HE’S A BAD!!! He’s an alien Attorney! He is not a normal.. I thought he was a normal but he’s not attorney! Iba ang pagka lalake niya! Dalawa!! And he’s a bad Attorney, he is not a kind! So, I borrow from Batman Attorney, you know, the green bato… Batman told me to play with the green bato when Superman wants to play with me. But it’s a bad also Attorney. The bato looks so nice and glow in the dark, you know, but it make Superman sick!! So you know, I kick Superman in the kuwan, you know Attorney, over there. And Superman look even more sick! And Batman was laughing and laughing!

I told Superman, I’m suri Kuya!! I’m suri!!! I will call 911 and bring you to hospital!! Pero Batman say doctor cannot heal the Superman because you know Attorney, he is the alien. But I read your blag Attorney and told him we will call the Transformers because maybe you know, they are cousins of the Batmobile and the Invisible Jet, and you know they are the alien too.

You have to help me Attorney, they make me the slave! I cannot eat the fish! And Kuya Superman Attorney, he’s so bad! But now, he’s so sick! They told me I will go to jail Attorney, but maybe Superman forgive me Attorney because he said I will go to Phantom Zone instead. I don’t like jail Attorney, so I will go to the Phantom Zone. Is that vacation Attorney?

Please help me Attorney, you are the kind.

Love,

Maritess

——————

Dear Maritess,

First of all, I have to salute you, and all the overseas workers of the Philippines. Mabuhay ang mga bagong bayani ng Pilipinas, mas higit pa po kayo sa superhero!

Also, I want to thank you Maritess for writing, dahil sa totoo lang, ako po’y fans mo rin. You are like Sarah Geronimo, a superstar! You are very famous here in the Philippines because you embody the plight of our overseas contract workers who suffer through the hardship of living in a foreign culture abroad so that they can send money back to their families and build a better future for them. My hat off to you!

Now with regard to your problem, I must tell you that employer abuse is very very serious, and in your case it is already tantamount to a human rights violation. You must never allow Superman to touch you like that without your consent. And no matter what Batman says, you must never kick Superman there either! But maybe, in your case, it was self-defense, so that might hold up in court.

I wish I could help you Maritess but my jurisdiction and superpower as a lawyer is only up until the Philippines. What I can tell you though is to go to the Philippine Embassy nearest you. You have a right as a Filipino citizen to claim asylum and refuge with our government and in turn, our government is bound to protect you from the Superfriends. I heard that the Superfriends have an international jurisdiction (as well as some extra-planetary peacekeeping rights, according to a treaty made with the Green Lantern Corps and the New Gods on Orion, called the Oa Protocol), but still, even they cannot just invade the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippine Embassy without violating international law and risking the ire of the Philippine government. Our country might declare war on the Justice League.

Also, you can ask for help from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), which also offers:

Workers Assistance and On-site Services

1. Repatriation Program –

The OWWA provides and sustains assistance to all its members in all its regional and overseas offices. Services that members may avail on-site includes: locating missing OFW’s; providing information and guidance; developing materials for the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminars; conducting psycho-social counseling and conciliation services; medical and legal assistance, outreach missions, and training, among others.

On behalf of the OFW, the OWWA may provide appropriate representation with employers, agents and host authorities.

Hence, if you need to be repatriated, or sent back to the Philippines in case of abuse, just report the matter to the Philippine Embassy which in turn will contact the OWWA, and have you sent back to the Philippines, free of charge. Considering your superstar status among Filipinos, they might even send you home on a first-class trip on Philippine Airlines which will serve you all the fish, hipon and ginamos that your domestic heart could ever desire.

However, I understand that if you turn to our Philippine Embassy, you will also lose your high-paying job with the Superfriends. Perhaps, if you could make peace with Superman and Aquaman, they will send you off instead to work with the Philippine branch of the Superfriends, where you can work with our kababayan superheroes, like Darna, Captain Barbel, Mulawin, the Supertwins, Ang Panday, and former BIR Commissioner Buñag, who has now adopted the public identity of Taxman, kilabot ng magbubuhis.

In fact, there’s even a local branch of the Hall of Justice here in Mandaue City, Cebu, but it doesn’t look as impressive as the Hall of Justice where Superman, Wonder-woman and the Flash are based. Maybe they are planning to move to the Cebu International Conference Center (CICC) in the future?

My problem will be if you are not based in the Hall of Justice, but if you’re stationed in the Justice League’s orbiting space station, because I don’t think there’s a Philippine Embassy on the moon. We will have a problem repatriating you because none of our local superheroes are capable of space travel… their limit is only up until the atmosphere. Perhaps, we will have to tap the magical teleporting powers of our Engkantadas. I am friends with Enteng Kabisote and the Prinsipe ng Kahilingan. I defended Prinsipe K in a labor dispute against Ina Magenta, and we were able to acquire backwages as well as 13th month pay and service incentive leave, since Prinsipe K’s labor benefits haven’t been paid since 1963. So you can imagine how much backwages he is entitled to, pursuant to the ruling of Agabon vs. NLRC (G.R. No. 158693, November 17, 2004).

I hope you are safe and protected from the Superfriends, Maritess, and I pray that this blog entry does not reach you after you have been sent to the Phantom Zone. Trust me, that is NOT a vacation. You don’t want to go there. It is much worse than jail.

More power to you Maritess, and hold your head up high, my fellow Filipino. Ikaw ang bagong super bayani ng Pilipinas!

Sincerely,

the Magnificent Atty. Perez

P.S.  I would like to cite the blog of someone passionate about OFW empowerment.  Please do read it.

How Will I Know If I Should Study Law July 5, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer, Idiocy, Legally Opinionated and Jurisprudent.
15 comments

Well, what do you know? My first “Dear Kuya Eddie” request from a devoted reader.

————-

Dear Magnificent Atty. Perez,

Mabuhay Attorney! Congratulations on your blog, I like to read it, you make the law so funny. And sad at the same time. But the law is always sad, so thank you for making it funny. Can I ask you help ‘torney? You are so wise, and powerful and magnificent… and humble! And you’re a fans of Sarah Geronimo! That’s why I know you’re a Magnificent! Never mind your idol Roy, ‘torney! Powerful man gihapon ka. Ma-reach mo rin ang imong dreams!

Ang akong problem, ‘torney, is that I have a problem. My Uncle Tito Danny said that before he leaves this Earth, he wants me to take up Law so that I will become a lawyer. Not liar like Jim Carrey but lawyer, like you, because you are not liar. I told my Uncle Tito Danny, “Uncle Tito Danny, why do you say that? Why do you want to leave this Earth? Are you going to ride a space ship with the aliens or something? Homan na ang July 4, Uncle Tito Danny. Tapos na ang July 4! Wala na’y Independence Day! Will Smith made talo the aliens and sent them back to Star Wars! Please don’t leave this Earth! You have to defend me from the Transformers!”

And Uncle Tito Danny said to me, “Buang man ka hija! Are you crazy? Don’t be scared of the Transformers! Naa pa man si Bruce Willis at hindi siya mamamatay na malambot because he is a die hard! Ka-upat na gi huramentado, dili pa gihapon mamatay! Blaggs!

Unya Uncle Tito Danny, why do you want to leave this Earth?”

Basta inday, listen to me. Of all my nieces, you are my peborit, because you have the logic! You have the brains! The beauty! You are a Thundercats! You should and must become a lawyer!”

And that’s my problem na Attorney. Kita na man kog Thundercats and I could not run as fast as Cheetara! Although I like Will Smith labi na sa Hitch, I’m so afraid Uncle Tito Danny will go to Star Wars with the aliens! He might go with the Decepticons and not stay with me like the Autobots! Eets so hard Attorney. Matigas ito. Gahi kaayo. What will I do? Should I follow my Uncle Tito Danny and take up Law? Or should I follow my heart and become a Bellestar Dancer ng That’s Entertainment? Napakasakit Kuya Eddie! What should I do? And please don’t charge me attorney’s fees, pobre man gud ko!

Your fans club,

Ging-ging

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Dear Ging-ging,

I understand your concerns and I thank you for confiding to me this very sacred problem. I don’t think I’m worthy to answer it because it’s only been a little more than one year before I became a lawyer and sometimes, I don’t also know myself if I made the right choice. The only thing I can tell you is that I am having a lot of fun and because of my practice, I have so many things to write about. For sure, being a lawyer is helping me launch a career as a minor Internet celebrity. Maybe someday, it will help me launch a career in showbiz. I’m a fan of Sarah Geronimo but the truth is I have an everlasting love for Carmina Villaorel. And now that she’s single again, I’m waiting for her to realize that we were meant to be together. (Carmina, I don’t care if your husband is gay. I don’t care if you have kids already. I’m still here, waiting for you. With Moo ice cream.)

But anyway about your problem. First of all, don’t worry about your uncle. He will not leave with the aliens of Independence Day because, like you said, Will Smith already defeated them. Besides, the aliens will not visit the Philippines because our Independence Day is already over.. we already celebrated it on June 12. General Esperon will defeat the aliens with our vintage World War 2 tora-tora airplanes, especially with the help of Bong Revilla and his guns that never run out of bullets, Philip Salvador and the Mulawin. (I would make a joke here about Philip Salvador but I’ve never actually seen any of his movies. I only know that he had an affair with Kris Aquino, and I guess that’s the joke).

Second, about law… hmmm… I don’t know… are you sure you want to study law?

I tell you, the road to lawyer-dom is not easy. It is paved with sleepless nights, mental anxiety, and emotional anguish. It’s easier if you study it at a sub-standard law school. In these kinds of schools, they just let you pass without any real effort. You will either have teachers who don’t show up, or teachers that when they show up, they will do nothing but talk about their showbiz lingo. Why listen to those teachers when you can read my blog? So please go to a good law school. There’s a law school cliche that all the teachers tell the first year students which goes, “Your preparation for the Bar started when you enrolled in the College of Law.”

It’s a cliche but one that has so much legal basis.

The best law schools are the ones where the teachers force you to study hard, by giving you daily oral exams. In Cebu, this is what we call the dreaded “pusil“, because the teacher forms his hand in the shape of a gun (like a Transformer, except your teacher’s hand does not actually turn into a gun), looks at you straight in the eye and says, “Janjan Perez! What is the case of Tsui Ming Choi?”

And you’re thinking, “Bang! Patay na ko! What is Tsui Ming Choi? Is that a new face whitener? Is it better than Ching Chang Chu?”

So if you do not have a thick face, my dear, law school is not for you (and when I say thick face I mean metaphorically, like not being embarrassed to speak in public. If you really do have a thick face, please don’t go to law school. Study plastic surgery instead. Or go to Vicky Belo and ask for a diamond peel.) The Socratic method, which is essentially the snobbishly intellectual way of saying “the teacher makes pusil“, is one of the most effective methods in teaching. It prepares you for facing an even more embarrassing time in court, when you don’t have time any more to ask your seatmates Ed Suson and Kelly Lim to coach you with the answers. You don’t have the liberty to tell the judge, “I’m sorry your Honor, naglibog na ko!”, even if you mean it in Cebuano, and not in Tagalog. (Please don’t ever study in Manila)

The pusil helps. The very high standards of your teacher helps. The mountainous volume of xerox copies, books, and notes help you to prepare for an equally glamorous career as a lawyer stuck in a tiny cubicle facing nothing but xerox copies, books, and case folders. You have to go through all this hard work because this will help you for the Bar. See those law students with the big books studying at late hours of the night in Bo’s Coffee and Brown Cup? They’re not doing that because they’re pretentious and they want everybody to know that they are “law students.” They’re doing it because they have an exam tomorrow and they could not study at home, where the bed is so temptingly close by.

But is all that effort worth it? The Bar is 4 years and 6 months away, assuming that you’re not a working student.

Yes my dear, it’s very much worth it. When I took the Bar, I did not actually use the things that I learned in the review I did at a fancy law school in Manila. What came to me were the things I read in my books during my four years of law. When I was answering the Criminal Law Bar Questions I was hearing the voice of my teacher Judge Paredes, reciting the case citations of People vs. Cayat. When I glanced at the Labor Law questions, I grinned because under my teacher, Atty. Marquez, this would just have been a pop quiz. When I looked at Remedial Law, I saw the faces of Ed Suson and Kelly Lim, whispering the answers during pusil. Bahala na’g sayop ang gi hong-hong ni Ed og Kelly! Your four years preparing for the Bar will really all come back to you when you’re staring at the exam papers scratching your head and praying to God Almighty for an answer… any answer!

But I don’t want you to think that law school is just about studying, looking pretentious at coffee shops, and affecting a masochistic pair of eyebags (Yes Ging-ging, if you’re a law student, you can look emo without really trying. In Cebuano, the emo look is what we call “losyang“)

It’s not always this glamorous. Sometimes there are also endless nights of drinking, debauchery, and drunk arguments on the application of Art. 36 of the Family Code in the case of Amy “I’m not the Magnificent Atty.” Perez vs. Brix Ferraris. But remember, you’re not yet a lawyer. Unless you have rich classmates, you cannot start drinking Johnny Walker Black or Gray Goose Vodka, paired with caviar and exotic cheese. You’re just a law student, so get used to Añejo Rhum 65, Herba Bueno, and White Castle Whiskey, paired with barbecue, ngohiong and Star Margarine. If you save a lot of money, you might also try Tanduay with ice tea.

Do you need to study in an expensive law school in order to become a lawyer? Not necessarily. A law school doesn’t have to be expensive to be good, and at the same time, it doesn’t follow that an expensive law school is always good. I would like to recommend you to go to the best law school in…

…Junquera St., Cebu City. That school makes the best lawyers who blogs about showbiz!

Finally, the question remains, do you have what it takes to survive law school?

Well you have to ask yourself that very honest question.

As for me, I honestly had no plans to study law. I was only there because my dad told me that being a lawyer is cool. You get invited to barrio fiestas and they reserve to you the next best seat in the house, the one right behind the priest. Perfect strangers impressed with your title ask you to be the godparent of their children during baptisms. You are issued this fancy metal thing that makes impressions of your name on a long size bond paper and has the magical power of converting a mere scrap of paper into a public document that is admissible in court without authenticating the same for genuineness and due execution. It’s almost like being a superhero, like Darna and Captain Barbel.

But mostly, I studied law because I was impressed by the movie Legally Blonde (It’s not Barely Legal ha? It’s Legally Blonde).

Wow! Will I have a sexy classmate like Elle Woods? I hurriedly signed up right away and said that I will just give it one sem. If I like Law, then I will continue it. If I don’t, I can continue with my dreams of becoming one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

So imagine to my surprise, when I showed up in class, no one was blonde or carried a chihuahua in their handbags! I was very sad. But I promised myself one sem, so I gave it a try anyway.

It was one of the happiest times in my life. I made so many friends in Room 210, my original homeroom. I discovered that I had a long lost cousin among the Senior law students, who took me to late night drinking sessions with the Seniors. I discovered that I am immune to hangovers! I was so happy that I forgot to study!

So I failed my mid-terms in Criminal Law 1 and Constitutional Law 1.

It was then that I realized that life in law school was not about late night partying, looking pretentious in coffee shops, or speaking in an alien tongue indecipherable to ordinary men. It’s also about sacrifice, hardship, effort and determination. It’s also about drinking copious amounts of Extra Joss and trying hard to compress two months worth of studying into one night before the mid-term exams. It’s about lining up in 3KM and studiously waiting for the latest cases and notes to be photocopied and distributed. It’s about political maneuvers and befriending upperclass law students for precious tips and notes. It’s about trusting your classmates to have studied better than you and asking them for answers when your name is called for pusil.

It’s a grand tradition, and slowly you become subsumed by the whole College of Law and start feeling that you’re part of one big happy family.

So I fell in love with my course. I fell in love with the Law. I fell in love with my classmates but was busted again and again and again. My one semester in the college quickly grew into four years. Four glorious years of having your stomach tied in knots, waiting for Ma’am Vicky to announce who passed in Espedido’s exam. Four years of standing before the altars of my patron saints, St. Jude Thaddeus, St. Therese of Lisieux, Our Mother of Perpetual Help, San Pedro, San Juan, San Diego and San Miguel Beer, lighting a candle and asking for a miracle, “Please Lord, Please! Let me get a 3.0 in Atty. Mayol’s exam!”

You have to have determination and an iron will to see it through because again and again and again, you will be tempted to give up. You WILL question yourself, why did I take up Law? It’s too hard for me, I should have taken Quantum Physics instead! You will ask yourself if becoming a lawyer is worth it, and let me tell you ahead Ging-ging, sometimes I still ask myself that question. You face corruption in the courts. The money is not as easy as they said it would come. You have to work long hours and get used to worrying about meeting a prescriptive period for a pleading that you’re filing. You have to get used to abrasive personalities and antagonistic opposing counsels.

Have you ever heard the song “The Scientist” by Coldplay? Studying Law is like that. “Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard.” And when you finally graduate Law and take the Bar? Well, you find yourself singing Green Day’s, “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”

Law is no joke Ging-ging. It’s four years of your time, money and effort spent taking a risk in passing a national examination where only 3 out of 10 students become lawyers. It’s one big gamble, and if you don’t have the stomach for risk or the determination to see things through, then this course is not for you.

If your heart is not into the course, then you should not study law. Pursue your dreams of becoming a Bellestar dancer instead. You’re only young once in your life. Twice, if you’re Demi Moore. Four years can be a pretty long time when you’re a law student.

Still not convinced?

Give it one semester, just like I did and see how it goes. If you think that law is for you, then by all means, full steam ahead! I wish you good luck and hope that I will see you someday and call you my compañera. If not, well…

…if you ever need a good lawyer who will entertain you with showbiz chismis, my name is Janjan and I am the Magnificent Atty. Perez. Take care and more power to you.

Sincerely,

the Magnificent Atty. Perez

NOTA BENE:  Someone actually DID ask me to write this blog.  Apparently, I’m now accepting requests.  Being a minor Internet celebrity is hard work!  I can’t keep up with the pressure of fame and stardom!