Monday, March 31, 2008

Solo Flight (The Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000)[1]

By Siesta-friendly

First of all, no, this is not about being a solo parent when the spouse is working overseas. And, generally, this law only covers those with an income level equal to or below the poverty line. Plus, the law covers only the following solo parents:[2]

a) A woman who gives birth as a result of rape and other crimes against chastity, even without the offender’s final conviction, provided she keeps and raises the child;

b) Parent left alone with parental responsibility due to death of spouse;

c) Parent left alone with parental responsibility while the spouse is detained or is serving sentence for a criminal conviction for at least 1 year;

d) Parent left alone with parental responsibility due to physical and/or mental incapacity of spouse as certified by a public medical practitioner;

e) Parent left alone with parental responsibility due to legal separation or de facto separation from spouse for at least 1 year, as long as he/she is entrusted with the custody of the children;

f) Parent left alone with parental responsibility due to declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage as decreed by a court or by a church as long as he/she is entrusted with the custody of the children;

g) Parent left alone with parental responsibility due to abandonment of spouse for at least 1 year;

h) Unmarried parent who has preferred to keep and rear her/his child/children instead of having others care for them or give them up to a welfare institution;

i) Any other person who solely provides parental care and support to a child/children, provided he/she is duly licensed by the DSWD as a foster parent or is a court-appointed legal guardian;

j) Any family member who assumes the responsibility of head of family as a result of the death, abandonment, disappearance or prolonged absence of the parents or solo parent. This family member includes any relative by consanguinity up to the 4th civil degree. This includes the uncle/aunt, grandfather/grandmother, nephew/niece and cousin.

By the way, “children” refer only to those (1) living with and (2) dependent upon the solo parent for support (3) who are unmarried, (4) unemployed and (5) not more than 18 years of age, or even over 18 years but are incapable of self-support because of mental and/or physical defect/disability.

Criteria for Support

As is common with great ideas, bureaucrats mess them up. This law is no exception as it does not grant assistance to all solo parents but only to those whose income is equal to or falls below the poverty threshold as set by the NEDA. Plus, your income still has to be assessed by your local DSWD who is required to make a Social Case Study Report for each applicant. The law also requires certification from your barangay captain that you are a resident of the barangay.[3]

The end result of the bureaucratic marathon is the issuance of a Solo Parent Identification Card that proves one’s eligibility to avail of the law’s benefits. Of course, the bureaucracy won’t let you get the last laugh because the card is valid only for 1 year and renewal is subject to another assessment.

However, though you might not qualify for assistance (for not being poor), any solo parent whose income is above the poverty threshold should be able to enjoy the labor-friendly benefits mentioned later below.


The law provides for a “Comprehensive Package of Social Development and Welfare Services” to be developed by the DSWD, DOH, DECS, CHED, TESDA, DOLE, NHA and DILG, in coordination with local government units (LGU) and a nongovernmental organizations with proven track record in providing services for solo parents. This could be a classic case of too many chickens spoiling the broth. And probably another classic case of a well-intentioned law lacking serious implementation. We are yet unaware of the implementation of such a package.

Anyway, this Comprehensive Package is set to initially include:[4]

1) Livelihood development services including trainings on livelihood skills, basic business management, value orientation and the provision of seed capital or job placement.

2) Counseling services which include individual, peer group or family counseling (meant to focus on the resolution of personal relationship and role conflicts).

3) Parent effectiveness services including the provision and expansion of knowledge and skills of the solo parent on early childhood development, behavior management, health care, rights and duties of parents and children.

4) Critical incidence stress debriefing which includes preventive stress management strategy designed to assist solo parents in coping with crisis situations and cases of abuse.

5) Special projects for individuals in need of protection which include temporary shelter, counseling, legal assistance, medical care, self-concept or ego-building, crisis management and spiritual enrichment.

Labor-friendly provisions

It’s important to remember that you need your Solo Parent Identification Card before you can avail of these provisions.[5] Anyway, it should be good (and maybe surprising) to know that solo parents get parental leave benefit in addition to leave privileges under existing laws. Parental leave shall be not more than 7 working days every year and granted upon service of at least 1 year. However, the 7-day leave is non-cumulative.[6] Neither is it convertible to cash unless specifically agreed upon previously.[7] If there is an existing or similar benefit under a company policy or CBA, the 7-day parental leave shall be credited as such and if said benefit is greater than the 7-day parental leave, the greater benefit shall prevail. Emergency or contingency leave shall not be credited as such parental leave.[8]

The law also allows the solo parent to have a flexible work schedule. At least apparently since the applicable provision is another example of bureaucratic muddle: “The employer shall provide for a flexible working schedule for solo parents: Provided, That the same shall not affect individual and company productivity: Provided, further, That any employer may request exemption from the above requirements from the DOLE on certain meritorious grounds.” Plus, for those in government service, flexible working hours are subject to the agency head’s discretion.[9] Just when you think you were being give flexi-time, they slowly take it back.

At least this provision against discrimination is more clear: “No employer shall discriminate against any solo parent employee with respect to terms and conditions of employment on account of his/her status.”[10]

Educational Benefits

The DECS, CHED and TESDA are required to provide the following benefits and privileges:[11]

1) Scholarship programs for qualified solo parents and their children in institutions of basic, tertiary and technical/skills education; and

2) Non-formal education programs appropriate for solo parents and their children.

You will need to go to these agencies to learn more about these benefits and privileges and their respective requirements.

Housing Benefits

The NHA is required to make available housing units to solo parents, or may refer them to other housing projects, giving liberal terms of payment in accordance with housing law provisions prioritizing applicants below the poverty line as declared by the NEDA.[12] So, again, income is a key factor. And, again, you will need to go to the NHA to learn more about this benefit and the requirements therefor.

Medical Assistance

The DOH is tasked to develop a comprehensive health care program for solo parents and their children. The program shall be implemented by the DOH through their retained hospitals and medical centers and the LGUs through their provincial/district/city/municipal hospitals and rural health units (RHUs).[13]

And there you have it – the government’s way of not leaving you hanging like a yo-yo in case you have plans of going solo (with apologies to Wham!).

[1] Republic Act No. 8972 (An Act Providing For Benefits And Privileges To Solo Parents And Their Children, Appropriating Funds Therefor And For Other Purposes), November 7, 2000.

[2] Sec. 3, Ibid. See also Sec. 6, Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 8972.

[3] Sec 4, Ibid. See also Secs. 8, 9, 10 and 11, IRR.

[4] Sec 5, Ibid.

[5] Sec. 19, IRR.

[6] Sec 8, Supra. See also Sec. 18, IRR.

[7] Sec. 20, IRR.

[8] Sec. 21, IRR.

[9] Sec 6, Supra. See also Sec. 16, IRR.

[10] Sec 7, Supra. See also Sec. 22, IRR.

[11] Sec 9, Ibid.

[12] Sec 10, Ibid. See also Sec. 24, IRR.

[13] Sec 11, Ibid. See also Sec. 25, IRR.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Graftwork (The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act)[1]

By Siesta-friendly

The fact that this law has been around since the 60’s and is only 1 of many statutes punishing graft and corruption underscores the reality that the problem is not the law but with law enforcement.

Anyway, with regular exposés of government irregularities (to say the least) it would be good to be reminded of what are punishable under this law:[2]

a) Persuading/inducing/influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations or an offense in connection with his official duties, or allowing oneself to be persuaded/ induced/influenced to commit such violation or offense.
Ex: Your friends asked you to endorse an over-priced commission-padded unnecessary telecommunications project and you do so (even as you advise your assistant to moderate their greed).

b) Directly/indirectly requesting/receiving any gift/share/percentage/benefit, for himself or for another, in connection with any contract/transaction between the Government and any other party, wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law.
This probably occurs every other day in Philippine government offices everywhere so we don’t really need to cite an example do we?

c) Directly/indirectly requesting/receiving any gift or other pecuniary/material benefit, for himself or for another, from any person for whom the public officer, in any manner or capacity, has secured or obtained, or will secure or obtain, any Government permit or license, in consideration for the help given or to be given.
Alas, another every other day occurrence too common to require an example.

d) Accepting or having any member of his family accept employment in a private enterprise which has pending official business with him during the pendency thereof or within 1 year after its termination.
Hypothetically, if GMA allowed her brother to be involved, say, as a consultant in the ZTE-NBN deal which will require the approval of NEDA which GMA chairs, then this provision will kick in. Only a hypothetical example, of course.

e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits/advantage/preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality / evident bad faith / gross inexcusable negligence. This applies to officers and employees of government corporations charged with the grant of licenses/permits/other concessions.
The Bureau of Customs, BIR, DepEd and DPWH provide too many samples to choose from. Just look at the dirt-cheap goods out there, the pothole-riddled frequently flooded roads, the grammatically- scientifically- and historically-incorrect text books, and maybe the well-accessorized and lavishly living public employees we have and you should know where the money really went.

f) Neglecting or refusing, after due demand or request, without sufficient justification, to act within a reasonable time on any matter pending before him for the purpose of obtaining, directly or indirectly, from any person interested in the matter some pecuniary or material benefit or advantage, or for the purpose of favoring his own interest or giving undue advantage in favor of or discriminating against any other interested party.
This is where your “facilitation fees” normally fall under. You know, when you wonder what’s the hold-up on your documents and you feel prompted to ask what you can do to move them.

g) Entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.
Ex: Being a public officer, you receive information about an anomalous government deal on the eve of signing it and you proceed to sign it nonetheless. Or, signing a contract allowing a foreign country to explore natural resources within your territory.

h) Directly/indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business/contract/transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest.
Ex: A mayor allows public work contracts to magically fall into the hands of corporations which he partly owns.

i) Directly/indirectly becoming interested, for personal gain, or having a material interest in any transaction/act requiring the approval of a board/panel/group of which he is a member, and which exercises discretion in such approval, even if he votes against the same or does not participate in the action of the board/committee/panel/group. Interest for personal gain shall be presumed against those public officers responsible for the approval of manifestly unlawful/inequitable/irregular transaction or acts by the board, panel or group to which they belong.
Ex: Say you’re the head of a government agency, say TESDA (again, hypothetical) and you write TESDA-related books and TESDA uses millions of public funds to print your books. The free promotion you get – with your name and photos placed all over the book pages and promotional materials, not to mention loads of self-flattery contained in the book - match any campaign propaganda you will need to spend for in an upcoming election.

j) Knowingly approving or granting any license/permit/privilege/benefit in favor of any person not qualified for or not legally entitled to such license/permit/privilege/ advantage, or of a mere representative or dummy of one who is not so qualified or entitled.
This should cover any LTO officer who grants every other Filipino a driver’s license. If you have ever applied for a Philippine driver’s license (or just drive on Philippine roads), you know this is true. Or haven’t you heard of the blind guy who was issued a Philippine driver’s license a few years back?

k) Divulging valuable information of a confidential character, acquired by his office or by him on account of his official position to unauthorized persons, or releasing such information in advance of its authorized release date.
Yet another crime that’s well-entrenched in the Filipino culture. You do like tsismis, yah?

Prohibition on private individuals[3]

And private individuals are definitely not exempt from this law as it is unlawful for any person -

a) having family/close personal relation with any public official to capitalize/exploit/take advantage of such family/close personal relation by directly/indirectly requesting/receiving any present/gift/ material/pecuniary advantage from any other person having some business/transaction/application/request/contract with the government, in which such public official has to intervene. Family relation shall include the spouse or relatives by consanguinity or affinity in the third civil degree. “Close personal relation” includes close personal friendship, social and fraternal connections, and professional employment all giving rise to intimacy which assures free access to such public officer.

b) to induce or cause any public official to commit any of the offenses defined as a corrupt practice of public officers.

So every time FG alleges he cannot be subject to an anti-graft/or bribery case because he is a private individual, well, you know the answer.

Prohibition on certain relatives[4]

It is unlawful for the spouse or for any relative, by consanguinity or affinity, within the 3rd civil degree, of the President, the Vice-President, the Senate President, or the House Speaker, to intervene, directly/indirectly, in any business/transaction/contract/application with the Government, provided, that this shall not apply to any person who, prior to the assumption of office of any of the above officials to whom he is related, has been already dealing with the Government along the same line of business, nor to any transaction/contract/application already existing/pending at the time of such assumption of public office, nor to any application filed by him the approval of which is not discretionary on the part of the official or officials concerned but depends upon compliance with requisites provided by law, or rules or regulations issued pursuant to law, nor to any act lawfully performed in an official capacity or in the exercise of a profession.
Unfortunately, this is not where JoeyDV’s Amsterdam Holdings’ broadband deal falls under because JDV as Speaker does not have any part in the approval of any government broadband deal. Perhaps any or all of the allegations regarding FG or brother Iggy might be apt.

Specific Prohibition on Members of Congress[5]

It is unlawful hereafter for any Member of Congress during his term, to acquire or receive any personal pecuniary interest in any specific business which will be directly and particularly favored or benefited by any law or resolution authored by him previously approved or adopted by the Congress during the same term. This shall apply to any other public officer who recommended the initiation in Congress of the enactment or adoption of any law or resolution, and acquires or receives any such interest during his incumbency. It also unlawful for such member of Congress or other public officer, who, having such interest prior to the approval of such law or resolution authored or recommended by him, continues for 30 days after such approval to retain such interest.
Hmmm, but how about the other way around – a representative preventing a law from being passed which would go against one’s business interest? Say, a legislator who’s in the real estate business and prevents or delays the passage of a law that would revolutionize the property registration system and would put an end to land grabbing? Hmmm.

Unexplained wealth[6]

If a public official has been found to have acquired during his incumbency, whether in his name or in the name of other persons, an amount of property and/or money manifestly out of proportion to his salary and to his other lawful income, that fact shall be a ground for dismissal or removal. Properties in the name of the spouse and unmarried children of such public official may be taken into consideration, when their acquisition through legitimate means cannot be satisfactorily shown. And, bank deposits are subject to this law too. Of course, following the Marcoses example, it’s a sure bet that a lot of funds subject to this provision are likely already safe and sound offshore.

By the way, unsolicited gifts or presents of small or insignificant value offered or given as a mere ordinary token of gratitude or friendship according to local customs or usage, are excepted from this law.[7]

If we could take a test and check which of the above we’ve witnessed, we’ll all probably pass with flying colors. Sad isn’t? Sadder still if we’ve been more than witnesses but have actually abetted these crimes, no matter how petty or small, such as that crumpled bill we pass on for a traffic violation. It all starts there when graft and corruption gets to wed with tolerance and acceptance.

[1] Republic Act No. 3019, August 17, 1960.

[2] Sec. 3, Ibid.

[3] Sec. 4, Ibid.

[4] Sec. 5, Ibid.

[5] Sec. 6, Ibid.

[6] Sec. 8, Ibid.

[7] Sec. 14, Ibid.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Acts of God (Force Majeure and Related Issues)

By Obiter07

This really happened. During one transaction, one party requested that we delete the reference to “acts of God” in the contract. Being a believer, he was apparently of the opinion that there should be no reason why the Deity’s name should be invoked in vain in the agreement. That may be the correct view but this phrase is often used in agreements without any intention to blaspheme or disrespect.

“Acts of God” when used in the legal sense refers to force majeure events. As stated in the New Civil Code, a party is generally freed from liability in the case of force majeure or fortuitous events:

“ART. 1174. Except in cases expressly specified by the law, or when it is otherwise declared by stipulation, or when the nature of the obligation requires the assumption of risk, no person shall be responsible for those events which could not be foreseen, or which, though foreseen, were inevitable.”

Typically, this refers to storms, earthquakes, fires or other cataclysmic events.

But the foregoing is subject to exceptions as when the law or an express stipulation so provides. Or when the nature of the obligation itself requires the assumption of risk such as in a contract of insurance:

“ART. 1262. An obligation which consists in the delivery of a determinate thing shall be extinguished if it should be lost or destroyed without the fault of the debtor, and before he has incurred in delay.

When by law or stipulation, the obligor is liable even for fortuitous events, the loss of the thing does not extinguish the obligation, and he shall be responsible for damages. The same rule applies when the nature of the obligation requires the assumption of risk.” [Underscoring supplied]

Nothing prevents the parties from stipulating what would constitute force majeure events to insure clarity. But if you are not sure, you can provide that the enumeration is non-exclusive. Due to recent developments, it is not far-fetched to include in the enumeration terrorist attacks or even catastrophic computer viruses which may prevent you from complying with your obligations.

Why is the enumeration important? It could make the difference between having to perform an obligation or being excused from doing so, without any liability whatsoever.

A sample force majeure clause in a contract reads as follows:

“When any Force Majeure, such as earthquake, typhoon, flood, fire, war or other unforeseen events of which the happening and consequences cannot be prevented or avoided, causes a direct effect on the fulfillment of this Agreement or the inability to fulfill the conditions of this Agreement, the party encountering the Force Majeure shall notify the other two parties in writing without any delay. Within fifteen (15) days thereafter the party encountering the Force Majeure shall provide the detailed information of the events constituting the same, giving reasons for the failure to fulfill, for partial failure to fulfill, or for deferring the fulfillment of the contract.

All parties shall, through consultations, decide whether to terminate this Agreement or to exempt part of obligations for implementation or whether to defer the execution of this Agreement according to the extent of the effects of events on the performance of this Agreement.”

Moreover, it can be stated that force majeure excuses compliance only if there is no contributory fault or negligence attributable to the defaulting party.

This Supreme Court has held that an occurrence qualifies as force majeure only if there is no negligence present.

“Accordingly, petitioners cannot be heard to invoke the act of God or force majeure to escape liability for the loss or damage sustained by private respondents since they, the petitioners, were guilty of negligence. This event then was not occasioned exclusively by an act of God or force majeure; a human factor - negligence or imprudence - had intervened. The effect then of the force majeure in question may be deemed to have, even if only partly, resulted from the participation of man. Thus, the whole occurrence was thereby humanized, as it were, and removed from the rules applicable to acts of God. REMMAN ENTERPRISES, INC. vs. COURT OF APPEALS, et al. [G.R. No. 125018. April 6, 2000.]”

The effect of force majeure events can range from suspension of the obligations to termination depending on the parties to the contract. Some contracts oblige the party invoking force majeure to only give notice of the same. Once it is no longer present, a party is again bound to comply with his contractual obligations.

When your back is against the wall and you are unable to deliver, the occurrence of a force majeure event which frees you from any liability could just make you say, “Thank God.” Believer or not.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

What’s in a name (Correcting minor civil registry errors)

By Siesta-friendly

What’s in a name
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet …

Just ask Prince formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. Or Engelbert Humperdinck, born Arnold Dorsey. Or Sean Combs / Puff Daddy / P.Diddy / Diddy. And there are of course mere mortals who just want to correct mistakes in their name made by a blundering nurse or some flash of imagination by a relative thinking an obscure 13th century saintly reference in the baby’s name would keep him on the straight and narrow.

If you cringe each time someone discovers your full name (or you want a name to reflect a “change” in your life), the civil registrar’s office may just be able to help you, being itself authorized (1) to correct clerical or typographical errors and (2) to change first names or nicknames in the civil register.[1]

Grounds for correction/change

First of all, only a clerical or typographical in the civil register that is (1) harmless and innocuous (e.g. incorrect spelling) which is (2) visible to the eyes or obvious to the understanding, and (3) can be corrected only by reference to other existing record/s, shall be allowed to be corrected. Plus, “no correction must involve the change of nationality, age, status or sex of the petitioner.” [2] So, Josephine, if you were born Jose, then a male you will remain in your birth records.

On the other hand, the grounds for change of first name or nickname are a little more subjective::[3]

1) the petitioner finds the first name or nickname to be ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or extremely difficult to write or pronounce;

2) the new first name or nickname has been habitually and continuously used by the petitioner and he has been publicly known by the first name or nickname in the community; or

3) the change will avoid confusion.

Filing the Petition

Any person of legal age, having direct and personal interest in the correction may file the petition. A person is considered to have direct and personal interest when he is the owner of the record (sought to be corrected), or the owner’s spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, guardian, or any other person duly authorized by law or by the owner of the record.[4]

The petition may be filed in the civil registry office of the city/municipality where the record containing the error to be corrected, or first name to be changed, is registered. Although the rules allow for the petition to be filed elsewhere (with the civil registry office of the petitioner’s current city/municipality of residence or with the nearest Philippine Consulate of his country of residence)[5] when it would not be practical, in terms of transportation expenses, time and effort to appear in person before the civil registry office where the record is registered, we have yet to hear an instance when this has been done. The famous Philippine red tape, you know.

Both petitions for the correction of clerical or typographical error and for change of first name or nickname shall be supported with the following documents:[6]

1) certified true machine copy of the certificate or of the page of the registry book containing the entry/ies sought to be changed;

2) at least 2 public or private documents showing the correct entry/ies upon which the change shall be based;

3) notice or certification of posting (if the civil registry office finds the petition and its supporting documents sufficient in form and substance, the petition shall be posted by the civil registry office in a conspicuous place provided for that purpose for 10 consecutive days); and

4) other documents which the petitioner or the civil registry office may consider relevant and necessary for the approval of the petition.

The petition for change of first name or nickname shall further be supported with:[7]

1. clearance or a certification that the owner of the document has no pending administrative, civil or criminal case, or no criminal record, which shall be obtained from the following:

1) employer, if employed
2) National Bureau of Investigation, and
3) Philippine National Police.

2. affidavit of publication from the publisher and a copy of the newspaper clipping (the petition needs to be published at least once a week for 2 consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation).

The correction of clerical or typographical error shall be availed of only once with respect to a particular entry/ies in the same civil registry record.[8]

However, with regard to the change of first name or nickname in the birth certificate, the privilege shall be availed of only once and in case there are other civil registry records of the same person which are affected by such change, the decision approving the change, upon becoming final and executory, shall be sufficient basis in changing the first name of the same person in his other affected records without need for filing a similar petition. In such a case, the successful petitioner shall file a request in writing with the concerned civil registry office to make such marginal annotation, attaching thereto a copy of the decision.[9]

Remember, if the correction or change you seek does not fall under the conditions set forth above, you will need to go to court.

So Romeo would
were he not Romeo called
retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title.

[1] Rule 1, Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 2001. “Rules And Regulations Governing The Implementation Of Republic Act No. 9048
”. July 24, 2001.

[2] Rule 2.8, supra.

[3] Sec.4, Republic Act No. 9048. “An Act Authorizing The City Or Municipal Civil Registrar Or The Consul General To Correct A Clerical Or Typographical Error In An Entry And/Or Change Of First Name Or Nickname In The Civil Register Without Need Of A Judicial Order, Amending For This Purpose Articles 376 And 412 Of The Civil Code Of The Philippines”. March 22, 2001.

[4] Rule 3, supra.

[5] Rule 4, supra.

[6] Rule 8.1, supra.

[7] Rule 8.1, ibid.

[8] Rule 7, ibid.

[9] Rule 12, ibid.


Monday, March 3, 2008

KEEPING A LID ON IT (Privileged Communication and Disqualification to Testify )

By Obiter07

No one seems to keep secrets nowadays or is able to. History attributes to a violation of the seal of confession as the reason why the Katipunan was discovered prematurely. In such an age of prying eyes and even eavesdropping, some through electronic means, who are obliged to keep your secrets safe? At least, in the sense that these cannot be used against you in a court of law.

So who can you really reveal things to? In fine, you can be open to your spouse, lawyer, doctor or minister. In turn, your parents, descendants and ascendants can likewise tell you everything, even their most nefarious criminal plans. This is because of the treatment given by the Rules of Court for what it defines as “privileged communication”. (All the citations relate to the Rules on Evidence).

During the marriage “neither the husband nor the wife may testify for or against the other without the consent of the affected spouse xxx” (Section 22, Rule 130). In addition, a “husband or the wife, during or after the marriage, cannot be examined without the consent of the other as to any communication received in confidence by one from the other during the marriage” (Section 24 [a], Rule 130). So everything said between the spouses should stay between them.

The exception is if it involves a “civil case by one against the other” such as a case of annulment of marriage. Or if it is about a “criminal case for a crime committed by one against the other or the latter’s direct descendants or ascendants.” So if you assault your wife’s relative and she sees it, she can testify against you.

One authority states that you can marry someone to stop his or her testimony since the privilege applies for as long as there is a valid marriage at the time of trial (Herrera, Remedial Law, Vol. V, 1999, p.306). It is almost like sealing something with a kiss. Just make sure that the sentence you are exchanging is worse than the one you are getting into.

“An attorney cannot, without the consent of his client, be examined as to any communication made by the client to him, or his advice given thereon in the course of, or with a view to, professional employment xxx”. Regardless of what you can say about lawyers, they are supposed to be able to keep a secret. And this extends to “an attorney’s secretary, stenographer, or clerk xxx, concerning any fact the knowledge of which has been acquired in such capacity xxx (Section 24 [b]).

“A person authorized to practice medicine, surgery or obstetrics cannot in a civil case, without the consent of the patient, be examined as to any advice or treatment given by him or any information which he may have acquired in attending such patient in a professional capacity, which information was necessary to enable him to act in capacity, and which would blacken the reputation of the patient xxx” (Section 24 [c]). Please note that this only covers civil cases and only if it is about an unspeakable illness. So a doctor might just be able to tell all about that procedure you got, for something not long enough, big enough or small enough. Hard to think of a criminal case involving such appendages though.

A “minister or priest cannot, without the consent of the person making the confession, be examined as to any confession made to or any advice given by him in his professional character in the course of discipline enjoined by the church to which the minister or priest belongs” (Section 24 [d]). Your sins can remain private and will have to be established without the help of a priest who may know about them best.

The Rules further provide that “No person may be compelled to testify against his parents, other direct ascendants, children or other direct descendants (Section 25).” But if you want to, then they may be in big trouble (and you too for causing it).

For those in government, a “public officer cannot be examined during his term of office or afterwards, as to communications made to him in official confidence, when the court finds that the public interest would suffer by the disclosure” (Section 24 [e]).” This should not cover contracts with kickbacks which are solely in the public officer’s, and not the public’s, interest.

Please note that these are all under the Rules on Evidence, where the privilege, if not waived, serves to bar testimony obtained in violation of the same. Such testimony cannot be used against you unless you allow it.

It is another matter, however, whether you can penalize these individuals when they reveal information that they are supposed to keep to themselves in some other forum. By then, the damage to you may have been done.

You will then have to be satisfied with, for example, filing a case of disbarment against a lawyer for violating ethics or the Code of Professional Responsibility. Betrayal of trust by an attorney or solicitor is likewise a crime under Article 209 of the Revised Penal Code. In the case of doctors, you can ask that disciplinary measures be taken before their professional association. You can complain to the church if the confessional has been breached. But what do you say to a wife or husband who reveals your secrets? Nothing. And if you keep on saying nothing, then you don’t have anything to worry about anymore.

So next time, be open only to people who will have to keep a secret when you really need them to. Or better yet, just keep them to yourself.

N.B. Executive Privilege is a special topic and is discussed in a previous post.