Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas

Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas. No one should make evil use of his own property.

The principle states that one has free use of his property so long as such use does not injure another. It is the foundation of every state control and regulation on use of property such as zoning laws and  limitations on mining.

Although the principles is largely used as an exercise of the police power of the state, it can also be said that non-use of property for what the community intended it to be may fall under this principle. A foremost example of this is the imposition of property taxes, where a local government imposes higher taxes for certain prime properties in order to compel the owners thereof to keep their properties from being idle.


Execution pending appeal

Normally, execution may only be allowed when the case has become final and executory. But a party may move for execution pending appeal, even before final judgment, under the following circumstances laid down by Section 2, Rule 39 of the Revised Rules of Court:

a. by motion by the prevailing party with notice to the adverse party;

b. with good reasons for issuing execution; and

c. that the good reasons should be stated in a Special Order

One of the "good reasons" that may be accepted is when the appeal is clearly and obviously frivolous and dilatory in nature, where the appellant has failed to adduce substantial valid and meritorious defenses against the appellee. But the same reason cannot be used by the trial court where the case is already within the purview of the appellate court. The authority to disapprove an appeal rightfully pertains to the appellate court. (Heirs of Gavino Sabenal v. Hon. Benjamin Gorospe, G.R. No. 50168, September 30, 1988, 166 SCRA 145)

Filing of a bond required by the court also constitutes special ground authorizing the court to issue writ of execution pending appeal. The decision to grant a writ of execution pending appeal rests upon the sound discretion of the court based on the sufficiency or insufficiency of the special reasons cited in the motion.

Another good reason considered by courts is when the appellee is already old and of frail health. Because of this fact, appellee  may not be able to live long enough or survive to enjoy the reliefs and rights granted to her under the decision sought to be executed pending appeal (De Leon, et al. vs. Soriano, L-7648, September 17, 1954; PBC vs. CA, 279 SCRA 364; and Ma-ao Sugar Central vs. Canete, 19 SCRA 646).

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Parties in interest in the enforcement of a contract

Is a plaintiff in a case for enforcement of contract which was for the benefit of another a real party in interest in that case?

Plaintiff is not affected by defendant's alleged intrusion on the right of way which was the subject of a condition in their deed of sale. They must show that they stand to be injured or benefitted by the outcome of the case. Can the Deed of Absolute Sale be a source of any right in their favor?

Under the Rules, an action for specific performance, like any other civil action, must be instituted by the real party in interest.

In Goco vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 157449, April 6, 2010): “One having no material interest to protect cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the court as the plaintiff in an action. When the plaintiff is not the real party in interest, the case is dismissible on the ground of lack of cause of action.”

If in case the party who has the sole interest in this case has already abandoned de facto his property (dominant estate) in the said area long before the use of part of the pathway by defendant, plaintiff clearly has no right to assert something which the supposed beneficiary has already abandoned. Defendants is no longer under any obligation to provide a right of way in any size or width because of the change in circumstance which annuls the crux of the original agreement being sought to be enforced.

Moreover, the Deed of Absolute Sale is precisely named so because it attaches no conditions for which the conveyance was made. While plaintiff wanted to make sure that the existing right of way  she has with the beneficiary will be respected by the new owner (buyer), such agreement cannot be considered sine qua non to the validity and enforcement of the sale. For in fact, said agreement was made for the benefit of another person and that person therefore is the real party in interest who can assert such right, granting arguendo that such right of action has not been extinguished, based on the deed of sale.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Plunder is malum in se

There may be mala in se crimes under special laws, such as plunder under R.A. No. 7080, as amended. That plunder is a heinous offense implies that is it malum in se, inherently immoral or inherently wrong.

In Dungo vs. People (G.R. No. 209464, July 1, 2015) the Supreme Court said that the better approach to distinguish between mala in se and mala prohibita crimes is the determination of the inherent immorality or vileness of the penalized act.
"If the punishable act or omission is immoral in itself, then it is a crime mala in se; on the contrary, if it is not immoral in itself, but there is a statute prohibiting its commission (for) reasons of public policy, then it is mala prohibita. In the final analysis, whether or not a crime involves moral turpitude is ultimately a question of fact and frequently depends on all the circumstances surrounding the violation of the statute."
 Therefore, the elements of mens rea must be proven in a prosecution for plunder. In the case of Estrada vs. Sandiganbayan (G.R. No. 148560. November 19, 2001), the Supreme Court agreed with Justice Mendoza in his concurring opinion which stated as follows:
"Precisely because the constitutive crimes are mala in se the element of mens rea must be proven in a prosecution for plunder. It is noteworthy that the amended information alleges that the crime of plunder was committed "willfully, unlawfully and criminally." It thus alleges guilty knowledge on the part of petitioner."

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Mens rea

In criminal law, mens rea means the gravamen of the offense. It is derived from the latin maxim Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea, which means that "evil intent must unite with an unlawful act for a crime to exist." There can be no crime when the criminal mind is wanting.

In Ombudsman vs. Torres (G.R. No. 168309, January 29, 2008), the Supreme Court reiterated the rule laid down in Lecaroz vs. Sandiganbayan which also qualified that neglect betrays criminal intent, to wit:
 "As a general rule, ignorance or mistake as to particular facts, honest and real, will exempt the doer from felonious responsibility. The exception of course is neglect in the discharge of duty or indifference to consequences, which is equivalent to criminal intent, for in this instance, the element of malicious intent is supplied by the element of negligence and imprudence."
The doctrine applies to crimes mala in se, mens rea being defined as a guilty mind, a guilty or wrongful purpose or criminal intent, and essential for criminal libility. A criminal law that contains no mens rea requirement infringes on constitutionally protected rights. The criminal statute must also provide for the overt acts that constitute the crime. For a crime to exist in our legal law, it is not enough that mens rea be shown; there must also be an actus reus which is defined as an action or conduct that is a constituent element of a crime, as opposed to the mental state of the accused.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Stealing a credit card and using the same

If a person steals a credit card and uses the same to obtain services, he is liable of the following:

1.) Theft of the credit card (Art. 308, Revised Penal Code);
2.) Violation of R.A. 8484 (Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998); and
3.) Estafa (Art. 315, Revised Penal Code).

In Francisco vs. People (G.R. No. 177720, February 18, 2009), the Supreme Court held that the third element of estafa under Article 315(a) merely requires that the offended party must have relied on the false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means. "It does not require that the false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means be intentionally directed to the offended party."
"Thus, in this case wherein a person pretended to possess credit in order to defraud third persons (Solidbank Mastercard and AIG Visa), but the offended party nevertheless relied on such fraudulent means and consequently suffered damage by virtue thereof, such person is liable for estafa under Article 315(a), even though the fraudulent means was not intentionally directed to the offended party. A person committing a felony is criminally liable although the consequences of his felonious act are not intended by him."

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Imposing sales taxes on manufacturing firms

Can local government units (LGUs) impose two taxes, one on manufacturing and one on selling?

This was the question answered in the case of Iloilo Bottlers vs. City of Iloilo (164 SCRA 607), and the answer is yes. The business of manufacturing carries with it the business of selling, except when there are warehouses where separate selling is done.

Says the Supreme Court:

"The right to manufacture implies the right to sell/distribute the manufactured products [See Central Azucarera de Don Pedro v. City of Manila and Sarmiento, 97 Phil. 627 (1955); Caltex (Philippines), Inc. v. City of Manila and Cudiamat, G.R. No. L-22764, July 28, 1969, 28 SCRA 840, 843.] Hence, for tax purposes, a manufacturer does not necessarily become engaged in the separate business of selling simply because it sells the products it manufactures. In certain cases, however, a manufacturer may also be considered as engaged in the separate business of selling its products."
 In this case, Iloilo Bottlers, Inc. distributed its softdrinks by delivery trucks directly to customers in lloilo province. Sales were perfected and consummated by route salesmen. Truck sales were made independently of transactions in the main office. The delivery trucks were not used solely for the purpose of delivering softdrinks but served also as selling units or "rolling stores". Iloilo Bottlers, Inc. thus was engaged in the separate business of selling or distributing soft-drinks, independently of its business of bottling them, and therefore subject to the tax ordinance.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Test of Insurable Interest

The test of insurable interest in the life and health of a person in life insurance is whether or not the person is interested in the preservation of the insured life despite the insurance.

Section 17 of the Insurance Code provides: "The measure of an insurable interest in property is the extent to which the insured might be damnified by loss of injury thereof."

In Sps. Cha vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 124520 August 18, 1997), the Supreme Court held that automatic assignment of the policy to another entity under the provision of the lease contract is void for being contrary to law and public policy.

This is because the insurable interest over the merchandise remains with the insured not the assigneed entity. Thus, the insurer cannot be compelled to pay the proceeds of the fire insurance policy to a person who has no insurable interest in the property insured.

In Gercio vs. Sun Life Assurance of Canada (G.R. No. 23703, September 28, 1925, it states that it is well settled that a man has an insurable interest in his own life and in that of his wife and children; a woman in the life of her husband; and the creditor in the life of his debtor.
"Indeed it may be said generally that any reasonable expectation of pecuniary benefit or advantage from the continued life of another creates an insurable interest in such life. And there is no doubt that a man may effect an insurance on his own life for the benefit of a relative or fried; or two or more persons, on their joint lives, for the benefit of the survivor or survivors. The old tontines were based substantially on this principle, and their validity has never been called in question."

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Requisites of a class suit

A class suit is an action where one or more may sue for the benefit of all. However, there are requisites that must be complied with for one to be able to file a class suit, and this will have to depend on the attendant facts, not the designation in the pleadings as a class suit.

The requisites are: (CRIS)

1.)  subject matter must be of  Common or general interest to many persons;
2.)  parties are so numerous that it is Impracticable to join all parties;
3.) Sufficiently numerous and representative as to fully protect the interests of all concerned; and
4.) Representatives sue or defend for the benefit of all.

Pay parties may or may not have a common interest in the questions involved in a class suit. What is required is a common or general interest in the subject matter of the suit.

There shall be no class suit when the interests represented are conflicting.


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