Saturday, November 29, 2008


By Dawn

It’s the brr months once again, the most popular months to travel within and outside the country for a family holiday, honeymoon or for the happily single, a great time to get to know oneself - or to meet that most elusive fish.

If you are traveling outside the country, you will need a passport. Some countries require visitors to get a visa.

I hope these tips help you get your Machine Readable Passport really fast.

TIP No. 1: APPLY FOR A PASSPORT WELL AHEAD OF SCHEDULE. Plan your trip well. A passport takes 7 working days to process.

(A visa, if necessary to enter the country you want to visit, also takes time to process. Some countries do not require a visa if the stay is less than 21 days. For more info, you may call your travel agent or the Visa Section of DFA or call the Consular Information Center at 556-0000.)

TIP No. 2: GET A PASSPORT BEFORE YOU GET YOUR TICKET. Having a ticket does not guaranty that you will get your passport in time for your flight.

Tip No. 3: USE THE DFA APPOINTMENT SYSTEM. All you need to do is log onto our website Key in the information required and we will block off an appointment schedule for you- no extra charge! Print out the email we will send you and bring it to DFA on the day of your scheduled appointment.

If you would rather walk in, you can also set an appointment at our Appointment Desk during office hours.

Tip No. 4: BRING THE RIGHT PASSPORT PHOTO. The right passport photo is the one that complies with DFA standards and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recommendations for Machine Readable Passports.

Basically, it’s your usual passport photo but instead of a white background, it has a royal blue background. As much as possible, your beautiful ears should be visible but please do not prop them up to make them visible if they really lie flat on your head. The ideal photo should be as close to your real image as possible. No reflection from earrings, glasses or shiny faces.
Don’t forget there should be enough room for cropping. For more info go to

Tip No. 5: FILL OUT YOUR APPLICATION FORM PROPERLY. We need all these details to determine your citizenship, status, and
personal details. Don’t worry, your records are kept confidentially
unless there is a court order or with your consent. Just in case something happens to you abroad, we have full details on how to contact your next of kin.

Tip No. 6: BRING ALL THE ORIGINALS AND PHOTOCOPIES OF THE REQUIRED DOCUMENTS. The basic source document is your Birth Certificate - the one in Security Paper from the National Statistics Office. If what you have is a Certified True Copy of your Birth Certificate issued by your Local Civil Registrar, you need to go to NSO to have it authenticated. You also need to bring all your documents of identity.

If you are renewing your passport, you need to bring your passport and photocopy of the 1st page, the last page and if you used your passport, the photocopy of the page on which the Bureau of Immigration Departure and Arrival Stamps appear. We will just invalidate your old passport and return it to you.

Tip No. 7: CHECK YOUR NSO BIRTH CERTIFICATE. Make sure your NSO Birth Certificate can be read and has all the information such as your correct first, middle and last name, date of birth, and place of birth. This is really your official name. We can not change it. If you want another name, you have to go to Court to have it changed or your Local Civil Registry to have it changed as the case may be. If your NSO Birth Certificate is not readable, please request the Local Civil Registry for a transcribed copy.

For married women, don’t forget your NSO Marriage Certificate in Security Paper.

Tip No. 8: COME ON TIME FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT. If you arrive late, you will need to set another appointment.

Tip No. 9: HAVE YOUR PASSPORT DELIVERED SO THAT YOU DONT HAVE TO COME BACK. This is an option available to you. If I were you, I would avail of it. It really is value for your money.

Tip No. 10: TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR PASSPORT. A passport is not only a travel document, it is a symbol of our country and a good proof of your citizenship. If you lose your passport, you have to start all over again plus pay a penalty and wait for fifteen days until we could write all the authorities and countries to report your lost passport.

So, when you have that birth certificate and all your documents of identity, set that appointment immediately and get your new Machine Readable Passport!



Sunday, November 23, 2008

CASH WASH (On the The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001)

By Obiter07

The story goes on how a law office had this client once who was engaged in the fish market business. And that every time this client would pay for legal bills, it would be by means of crumpled bills and coins, straight from the market, with the currency likewise distinguishable by their fishy smell. Now that was literally dirty (as well as smelly) money. However, the recent detention abroad of a local police official awash with undeclared and still unexplained cash in his luggage brings to mind the law on anti-money laundering, geared as it is towards clamping down on the practice of legitimizing cash derived from illegal activities.

See, if the policeman’s 100,000 euros were legitimate, it would have been so much easy for him to place the amount in the bank and just withdraw from an ATM anywhere he went. Isn’t that what normal travelers do? Who puts the amount equivalent to the cost of a house and lot in his luggage?

Anti-Money Laundering Act

Republic Act No. 9160 (as amended by R.A. 9194) otherwise known as The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 was passed to “protect and preserve the integrity and confidentiality of bank accounts and to ensure that the Philippines shall not be used as a money laundering site for the proceeds of any, unlawful activity.” And that “the State shall extend cooperation in transnational investigations and prosecutions of persons involved in money laundering activities wherever committed.”

Offense Defined

Under said statute, money–laundering is classified as a criminal offense “whereby the proceeds of an unlawful activity as herein defined are transacted, thereby making them appear to have originated from legitimate sources. It is committed by the following:
a) Any person knowing that any monetary instrument or property represents, involves, or relates to, the proceeds of any unlawful activity, transacts or attempts to transact said monetary instrument or property.
b) Any person knowing that any monetary instrument or property involves the proceeds of any unlawful activity, performs or fails to perform any act as a result of which he facilitates the offense of money laundering referred to in paragraph (a) above.
c) Any person knowing that any monetary instrument or property is required under this Act to be disclosed and filed with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), fails to do so."
Remember the ErapMuslim Youth Foundation? During Erap’s impeachment trial, her accountant (Yolanda Ricaforte) testified that she received 200M in checks from Gov Singson and gave the checks to Erap’s lawyer and fellow foundation incorporator, Atty. Edward Serapio. The prosecution claimed the funds were from jueteng operations and were ‘donated’ to the foundation’ to launder them.
Activities Covered

Proceeds from the following unlawful activities are covered by the law:
"(i) 'Unlawful activity' refers to any act or omission or series or combination thereof involving or having direct relation to the following:
(1) Kidnapping for ransom under Article 267 of Act No. 3815, otherwise known as the Revised Penal Code, as amended;
(2) Sections 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002;
(3) Section 3 paragraphs B, C, E, G, H and I of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act;
(4) Plunder under Republic Act No. 7080, as amended;
(5) Robbery and extortion under Articles 294, 295, 296, 299, 300, 301 and 302 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended;
(6) Jueteng and Masiao punished as illegal gambling under Presidential Decree No. 1602;
(7) Piracy on the high seas under the Revised Penal Code, as amended and Presidential Decree No. 532;
(8) Qualified theft under Article 310 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended;
(9) Swindling under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended;
(10) Smuggling under Republic Act Nos. 455 and 1937;
(11) Violations under Republic Act No. 8792, otherwise known as the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000;
(12) Hijacking and other violations under Republic Act No. 6235; destructive arson and murder, as defined under the Revised Penal Code, as amended, including those perpetrated by terrorists against non-combatant persons and similar targets;
(13) Fraudulent practices and other violations under Republic Act No. 8799, otherwise known as the Securities Regulation Code of 2000;
(14) Felonies or offenses of a similar nature that are punishable under the penal laws of other countries."
This is why suspicions arise when someone is very liquid yet has no known legitimate income-earning activity. Criminals can’t easily go to banks because banks are now required to report suspicious transactions (discussed below). It’s easier for criminals to buy things, even really expensive things, and buy them all in cash. That’s one way to launder money. But if you are in government, you have a lot to explain if you have assets that are not commensurate to your means.

Covered and Suspicious Transactions

Most money-making crimes and schemes appear to be covered. And money laundering can be monitored if it is a “covered or a suspicious transaction.”

Covered transactions relate to "a transaction in cash or other equivalent monetary instrument involving a total amount in excess of Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) within one (1) banking day." Previously, the threshold amount was Four million Philippine pesos (Php 4,000,000.00).

However, the amount of the transaction is not determinative of whether or not there is money-laundering. Also included are “suspicious transactions” or “transactions with covered institutions, regardless of the amounts involved, where any of the following circumstances exist:
1. there is no underlying legal or trade obligation, purpose or economic justification;
2. the client is not properly identified;
3. the amount involved is not commensurate with the business or financial capacity of the client;
4. taking into account all known circumstances, it may be perceived that the client’s transaction is structured in order to avoid being the subject of reporting requirements under the Act;
5. any circumstance relating to the transaction which is observed to deviate from the profile of the client and/or the client’s past transactions with the covered institution;
6. the transaction is in any way related to an unlawful activity or offense under this Act that is about to be, is being or has been committed; or
7. any transaction that is similar or analogous to any of the foregoing."
Covered Institutions

Covered institutions subject to the requirements of R.A. 9160 are as follows:
(1) banks, non-banks, quasi-banks, trust entities, and all other institutions and their subsidiaries and affiliates supervised or regulated by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP);
(2) insurance companies and all other institutions supervised or regulated by the Insurance Commission; and
(3) (i) securities dealers, brokers, salesmen, investment houses and other similar entities managing securities or rendering services as investment agent, advisor, or consultant,
(ii) mutual funds, close and investment companies. common trust funds, pre-need companies and other similar entities,
(iii) foreign exchange corporations, money changers, money payment, remittance, and transfer companies and other similar entities, and (iv) other entities administering or otherwise dealing in currency, commodities or financial derivatives based thereon valuable objects, cash substitutes and other similar monetary instruments or property supervised or regulated by Securities and Exchange Commission.”
To prevent money laundering, covered institutions are required to “maintain a system of verifying the true identity of their clients and, in case of corporate clients, require a system of verifying their legal existence and organizational structure, as well as the authority and identification of all persons purporting to act on their behalf.” The days of Jose Velarde are over as this statute prohibits “anonymous accounts, accounts under fictitious names, and all other similar accounts shall be absolutely prohibited.”

Covered institutions are to “report to the AMLC all covered transactions and suspicious transactions within five (5) working days from occurrence thereof, unless the Supervising Authority prescribes a longer period not exceeding ten (10) working days." Should a transaction be determined to be both a covered transaction and a suspicious transaction, the covered institution shall be required to report the same as a suspicious transaction.”

Brigands and bandits may have to go back to their old ways and keep their money in briefcases, filing cabinets and mattresses. The law seeks to make life harder for them, denying them the use of legitimate institutions in cleaning up their booty, where currencies can easily move from one account to another by electronic or other means. And this could be the reason why someone got to be caught via an old fashioned method, during a routine search at an airport which turned up a bag of cash.


Monday, November 17, 2008

November 20: Universal Children's Day

By Siesta-friendly

To coincide with the days on which the Declaration on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child[1] (UNCRC) were adopted in 1959 and 1989, respectively, November 20 was set for the world to specifically promote children’s welfare (although some countries have set other days, the intention remains).

With November 20 nearing, we take this opportunity to revisit and remind readers of the significance of the UNCRC provisions. For the complete text, please go to Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Article 1. In general, all those under 18 are deemed children.

Article 2. Children have the right to protection against discrimination irrespective of their, their parent's or legal guardian's race, color, sex, language, religion, opinion, origin, property, disability, birth or other status.

Article 3. In all actions affecting children, their best interests shall be the primary concern. The child’s protection and care must be ensured.

Article 4. All appropriate measures must be taken to implement children’s rights.

Article 5. Children must be provided appropriate direction and guidance, in a manner consistent with their capacities, by parents/guardians.

Article 6. Every child has the right to live. The child’s survival and development must be ensured.

Article 7. Upon birth, the child shall be registered immediately and shall have the right to a name, to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, to know and be cared for by his/her parents.

Article 8. Governments must respect and protect the right of the child to an identity, including nationality, name and family relation.

Article 9. Children shall not be separated from their parents against their will, except in accordance with law and the separation is for the child’s best interests. Children have the right to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis.

If the separation results from any government action such as detention, imprisonment, exile, deportation or death of one or both parents or of the child, the government shall provide the essential information on the whereabouts of the absent family member unless it would be against the child’s well-being.

Article 10. Children or their parents have the right to enter or leave a country for family reunification subject only to restrictions re national security, public order, public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others.

Article 11. Children have the right to protection against their illicit transfer and non-return.

To be more precise, the UN General Assembly adopted the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (in May 2000) and specifically prohibits any act whereby a child is transferred by any person/s to another for any consideration. More on this protocol re Articles 34 and 35 below.

Article 12. Children have the right to express their views in all matters affecting them. Their views shall be weighed in accordance with their age and maturity.

Article 13. Children have the right to freedom of expression, including the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds subject to restrictions necessary for respect of the rights or reputations of others or for the protection of national security, or public order, or public health or morals.

Article 14. Children have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, subject to limitations to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

Article 15. Children have the right to freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly, subject to limitations re national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Article 16. Children have the right to protection against arbitrary or unlawful interference into their privacy, family, or correspondence, and against unlawful attacks on their honor and reputation.

Article 17. Children have the right to access information and material especially those aimed at the promotion of their social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health.

Government shall encourage: 1) mass media to disseminate information and material for children’s social and cultural benefit; 2) international co-operation in the dissemination of information from a diversity of sources; 3) production and dissemination of children's books; 4) mass media to have regard to the linguistic needs of children from minority groups; 5) the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of children from information and material injurious to their well-being.

Article 18. Parents/legal guardians have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child. The best interests of the child will be their basic concern. Government shall render appropriate assistance to parents / legal guardians in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities and shall ensure the development of institutions, facilities and services for the care of children.

Article 19. Children shall have the right to protection from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse.

Article 20. A child deprived of family environment shall be entitled to special government protection and assistance.

Government shall ensure alternative care for the child, including foster placement, adoption or, if necessary, placement in institutions with due regard to continuing the child's upbringing and to the child's background.

Article 21. The system of adoption shall ensure that the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.

Article 22. A child seeking refugee status or is considered a refugee shall receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance. Governments shall cooperate to protect and assist the child and to trace the family members of any refugee for family reunification.

Article 23. A mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child's active participation in the community. Disabled children have the right to special care and assistance free of charge, whenever possible, and shall to ensure that the child receives education, training, health care services, rehabilitation services, preparation for employment and recreation opportunities for fullest possible social integration and individual development.

Article 24. Children have the right to the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health.

Government shall take appropriate measures to: 1) diminish infant and child mortality; 2) ensure necessary medical assistance and health care with emphasis on the development of primary health care; 3) combat disease and malnutrition taking into consideration the dangers and risks of environmental pollution; 4) ensure appropriate pre-natal and post-natal health care; 5) ensure society has basic knowledge of child health and nutrition, the advantages of breastfeeding, hygiene and environmental sanitation and the prevention of accidents; and 6) develop preventive health care, guidance for parents and family planning education and services.

Article 25. Children under care, protection or treatment of their physical or mental health, have the right to periodic review of their treatment and all other relevant circumstances.

Article 26. Children have the right to benefit from social security, including social insurance.

Article 27. Children have the right to a standard of living adequate for their physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.

Article 28. Children have the right to education, and government shall: 1) make primary education compulsory and available free to all; 2) encourage the development of different forms of secondary education and free education and financial assistance; 3) make higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity; 4) make educational and vocational information and guidance available to all; 5) take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools; 6) take measures to ensure school discipline is administered; 7) encourage international cooperation relating to education.

Article 29. Children’s education shall be directed to: 1) the development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential; 2) the development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for United Nations principles; 3) the development of respect for the child's parents, cultural identity, language and values, the national values of his/her country of residence and origin, and for other cultures; 4) the child’s preparation for responsible life in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship; 5) respect for the natural environment.

Article 30. Children belonging to a minority group or are indigenous have the right to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language.

Article 31. Children have the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.

Article 32. Children have the right to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work likely to be hazardous or to interfere with their education, or to be harmful to their health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.

Governments shall provide for: 1) a minimum age for employment and 2) regulation of conditions of employment.

Article 33. Children have the right to be protected from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, and the illicit production and trafficking of such substances.

Article 34. Children have the right to be protected from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. Governments shall prevent: 1) the inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity; 2) the exploitative use of children in unlawful sexual practices; 3) the exploitative use of children in pornography.

Article 35. Governments shall prevent the abduction of, the sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (in May 2000) criminalizes the following acts, including any attempt thereof and any participation therein:

1) sale of children - any act whereby a child is transferred by any person/s to another for any other consideration, including a) offering, delivering or accepting a child for the purpose of sexual exploitation; transfer of the child’s organs for profit; or engagement of the child in forced labor; b) improperly inducing consent, as an intermediary, for the child’s adoption in violation of international law;

2) child prostitution - the use of a child in sexual activities for any consideration, including offering, obtaining, procuring or providing a child for child prostitution;

3) child pornography - any representation of a child engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a child for primarily sexual purposes, including producing, distributing, disseminating, importing, exporting, offering, selling or possessing child pornography.

Article 36. Children have the right to be protected from all other forms of exploitation prejudicial to their welfare.

Article 37. 1) No child shall be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below 18 years; 2) no child shall be deprived of liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The lawful arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be a last resort measure and for the shortest period of time; 3) every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect and in a manner appropriate to their age. Every child deprived of liberty shall have the right to maintain family contact; 4) every child deprived of liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other assistance, and to a prompt decision on any such action.

Article 38. Children under 15 years should not be made take part in armed conflicts. Governments shall ensure protection and care of children affected by armed conflict.

In order to strengthen protection for children in armed conflict, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children In Armed Conflict was adopted by the UN General Assembly (in February 2000). Among others, the Optional Protocol raised the age limit from 15 to 18 years.

Article 39. Child victims of any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse; torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; or armed conflicts have a right to receive help to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration.

Article 40. Children accused of breaking the law have the right to be treated in a manner that promotes their sense of dignity and worth which takes into account their age and the desirability of reintegration into society. Such children have the right to privacy at all stages of the proceedings.

Governments shall establish: 1) a minimum age below which children shall be presumed not to have the capacity to break laws; 2) measures for dealing with such children without resorting to judicial proceedings, provided human rights and legal safeguards are fully respected; 3) the availability of care, guidance and supervision orders; counseling; probation; foster care; education and vocational training programs and other alternatives to institutional care to ensure that children are dealt with in a manner appropriate to their well-being and proportionate both to their circumstances and the offence.

Article 41. Applicable provisions of domestic law or international treaty shall apply instead of the Convention’s provisions if more conducive to the realization of the child’s rights.

Article 42. Everyone has a right to be informed of their rights under the Convention.

Children can be the most vulnerable and delicate members of society. So the Convention not only unleashes tons of protection for them but acknowledges their human rights as equal to any adult’s.

Children are the future. So for us to hope for more Einsteins or Gandhis, we have to provide a world conducive to their making. The Convention and the Universal Children's Day are there to help us do just that.

See also the 2 Protocols to the UNCRC:

1.Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, and

2. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography

[1] Convention on the Rights of the Child. Retrieved November 5, 2008, from Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Web site:


Monday, November 10, 2008

WEIGHT AND SEE (Obesity as Ground for Termination)

By Obiter07

In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of a flight steward on the ground of obesity. YRASUEGUI vs PHILIPPINE AIRLINES, INC. ( G.R. No. 168081 October 17, 2008) an international flight steward was dismissed for “his failure to adhere to the weight standards of the airline company.” It sounds discriminatory but the Court found that it was not.

On various dates, Petitioner was at 209 pounds, 217 pounds and 212 pounds, well beyond “the ideal weight being 166 pounds, as mandated by the Cabin and Crew Administration Manual of PAL.” When found to be overweight, he was asked to go on leave in order to address this. He was unable to comply and in one instance, he even gained weight instead by 49 pounds beyond the limit. He was restricted to ground duty as a result. He made a written commitment to reduce his weight.

He remained overweight despite periods given to him in order to comply. He failed to report for weight checks and was “formally warned that a repeated refusal to report for weight check would be dealt with accordingly.”

In 1992, he was finally served a “Notice of Administrative Charge for violation of company standards on weight requirements” and given 10 days to answer. In his answer, he did not deny being overweight. He claimed that his violation had been condoned by PAL and that PAL had discriminated against him considering that there were “cabin crew members who are similarly situated.”

In 1993, “petitioner was formally informed by PAL that due to his inability to attain his ideal weight, “and considering the utmost leniency” extended to him “which spanned a period covering a total of almost five (5) years,” his services were considered terminated “effective immediately.” He filed a complaint for illegal dismissal against PAL. The Labor Arbiter ruled in his favor but this was overturned by the Court of Appeals. Hence, his recourse to the Supreme Court.

He argued that “(1) his dismissal does not fall under 282(e) of the Labor Code; (2) continuing adherence to the weight standards of the company is not a bona fide occupational qualification; and (3) he was discriminated against because other overweight employees were promoted instead of being disciplined.”

The Court found that obesity of petitioner is a ground for dismissal under Article 282(e) of the Labor Code. It found that the weight standards of PAL “constitute a continuing qualification of an employee in order to keep the job.” And “an employee may be dismissed the moment he is unable to comply with his ideal weight as prescribed by the weight standards.” Hence a dismissal of the employee falls under Article 282(e) [1] of the Labor Code. It did not give credence to Petitioner’s claim that obesity is a “physical abnormality and/or illness,” citing Nadura v. Benguet Consolidated, Inc. The Supreme Court did not find the case applicable as it was not decided under the Labor Code. Moreover, there was no issue of flight safety in the aforecited case. In Nadura the dismissal was due to illness in contrast to the instant case where petitioner was dismissed for his failure to meet the weight standards of his employer. Another issue in Nadura is whether or not the dismissed employee is entitled to separation pay and damages. Here, the issue is the propriety of the dismissal. Fifth, in Nadura, the employee was not accorded due process. Here, petitioner was accorded “utmost leniency”, having been given more than four (4) years to comply with the weight standards.

The Court found that the evidence “on record militates against petitioner’s claims that obesity is a disease.” He was able to reduce weight given the “proper attitude, determination, and self-discipline.” He even admitted during a hearing that he could bring down his weight. The Court opined that “his fluctuating weight indicates absence of willpower rather than an illness.”

The Court also did not give weight (no pun intended) to petitioner’s citation of Bonnie Cook v. State of Rhode Island, Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals, decided by the United States Court of Appeals (First Circuit). In that case, it was held that morbid obesity is a disability under the Act cited therein and that respondent discriminated against her “based on “perceived” disability.” Evidence was introduced to show morbid obesity is a physiological disorder.

The Supreme Court found that petitioner is not morbidly obese. In the Cook case, the plaintiff was 100 pounds overweight. Petitioner was only less than 50 pounds over his ideal weight at his heaviest. One is tempted to thus ask if the Court would have decided in his favor if he had weighed more.

The Court held that the obesity of petitioner, in the context of his work as flight attendant, “becomes an analogous cause under Article 282(e) of the Labor Code that justifies his dismissal from the service.” His obesity may not be intentional but it is “voluntary.” This element runs through all just causes under Article 282.

Petitioner likewise argued that there should be a statute constituting a “bona fide occupational qualification” (“BFOQ”) where an exception allows “an employer to engage in an otherwise unlawful form of prohibited discrimination if necessary to the normal operation of a business or enterprise.” Petitioner claims that since there was no such statute, there is no justification for his dismissal.

The court stated that there is no merit to the argument that BFOQ cannot be applied if it has no supporting statute. The weight standards of PAL are reasonable. PAL being a common carrier “is bound to observe extraordinary diligence for the safety of the passengers it transports.” The weight standards of PAL show its effort to comply with these exacting obligations. PAL “has committed itself to safely transport its passengers. In order to achieve this, it must necessarily rely on its employees, most particularly the cabin flight deck crew who are on board the aircraft.”

Flight safety was given primary importance by the court, stating that: It cannot be gainsaid that cabin attendants must maintain agility at all times in order to inspire passenger confidence on their ability to care for the passengers when something goes wrong. It is not farfetched to say that airline companies, just like all common carriers, thrive due to public confidence on their safety records. People, especially the riding public, expect no less than that airline companies transport their passengers to their respective destinations safely and soundly.”

Cabin crew do not only serve meals or attend to passengers’ whims. Their “most important activity” is “to care for the safety of passengers and the evacuation of the aircraft when an emergency occurs. Passenger safety goes to the core of the job of a cabin attendant. Truly, airlines need cabin attendants who have the necessary strength to open emergency doors, the agility to attend to passengers in cramped working conditions, and the stamina to withstand grueling flight schedules.” And the “body weight and size of a cabin attendant are important factors to consider in case of emergency. Aircrafts have constricted cabin space, and narrow aisles and exit doors.” Airline companies cannot be compelled to reconfigure the aircraft just for overweight cabin attendants.

He was also found to be in estoppel since the weight standards were made known to him prior to his employment. He never questioned the authority of PAL when he was asked to trim down his weight. The Court even lapsed into Latin and Filipino: “Bona fides exigit ut quod convenit fiat. Good faith demands that what is agreed upon shall be done. Kung ang tao ay tapat kanyang tutuparin ang napagkasunduan.”

His allegation that he was discriminated against was not given credence. Except for pointing out the names of the supposed overweight cabin attendants, he “failed to indicate their respective ideal weights; weights over their ideal weights; the periods they were allowed to fly despite their being overweight; the particular flights assigned to them; the discriminating treatment they got from PAL; and other relevant data that could have adequately established a case of discriminatory treatment by PAL.”

Nevertheless the Court granted him separation pay even if normally, a legally dismissed employee is not entitled to separation pay. But it may be awarded as an act “social justice,” or based on “equity”, if the dismissal is not for serious misconduct and does not reflect on the moral character of the employee. He was thus given separation pay equivalent to one-half (1/2) month’s pay for every year of service.

It is with some irony that the scales of justice did not tip in favor of the petitioner here. However, this did involve a special case, where the nature of an employee’s duties with respect to flight safety was given emphasis by the Court. Not every job would be the same and mere obesity should not be a ground for dismissal. But health issues should be enough to compel an employee to lose weight not out of fear for his job but for fear for his life.

[1] Article 282 provides: “Termination by employer. — An employer may terminate an employment for any of the following just causes:
(a) Serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of his employer or representative in connection with his work;
(b) Gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties;
(c) Fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or
(d) Commission of a crime or offense by the employee against the person of his employer or any immediate member of his family or his duly authorized representative; and
(e) Other causes analogous to the foregoing.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

From Dynamite To Peace, With Poetry Along The Way (The Nobel Prizes)

By Siesta-friendly

He developed nitroglycerine as an explosive. He invented dynamite and had it patented. Yet, after his death, Alfred Bernhard Nobel (1833-1896) became famous for the yearly prizes in his name for achievements in peace, literature, medicine, medicine, physics and chemistry.

No, he wasn’t the father of all makeovers. Growing up, Nobel favored poetry and literature alongside physics and chemistry. And he did concentrate on nitroglycerine for construction work, to be fair. So he wasn’t really the violent turned Renaissance man.

Still, the extraordinary will he left behind caught people by surprise, no less his heirs (but that’s another story). And every October, we marvel at the selected laureates and their contributions for the development of mankind, in the name of the man whose legacy made us recognize them in the first place.

The Legacy of all Legacies

Well, ok, not counting the gospels left by you-know-who. Anyway, beyond bequeathing money and property to family, friends, servants, Nobel established a unique and lasting legacy to the rest of the world which begins thus:[1].

“The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind. The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics; one part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine; one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction; and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

Following the above with –

“The prizes for physics and chemistry shall be awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences; that for physiological or medical work by the Caroline Institute in Stockholm; that for literature by the Academy in Stockholm, and that for champions of peace by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting. It is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration whatever shall be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be a Scandinavian or not”,

the 5 Nobel committees were soon set up by the 4 named institutions within 2 years from his death (a sixth prize was added in 1968 but more on that later). 2 years later, the Nobel Foundation was established to be the over-all administrator of Nobel’s fund.

As an aside, though Swedish, Nobel included the Norwegian Storting (Parliament) because Sweden was during his lifetime united with Norway (the union ended in 1905).

There were many details missing in Nobel’s will, which partly accounted for the delay in setting up the committees and the foundation (the heirs it seems accounted for the other part). However, once the foundation was established the statutes (partly discussed below) were soon drawn up to provide necessary guidelines. Of course, the prize-awarding bodies (the 4 named institutions in the will) have more detailed rules as regards the award of their respective prizes.

Statutes of the Nobel Foundation

a) Eligibility

“To be eligible to be considered for a prize, a written work shall have been issued in print or have been published in another form, to be decided on its own behalf by each prize-awarding body.” (Paragraph 3)

“A prize amount may be equally divided between two works, each of which is considered to merit a prize. If a work that is being rewarded has been produced by two or three persons, the prize shall be awarded to them jointly. In no case may a prize amount be divided between more than three persons.” (Paragraph 4) Organizations, of course, count as 1. To date, there have been 20 organizations which have won Nobel prizes.

”Work produced by a person since deceased shall not be considered for an award. If, however, a prizewinner dies before he has received the prize, then the prize may be presented.” (supra) This was an amendment introduced in 1974. Before 1974, the Nobel Prize was twice awarded posthumously: to Dag Hammarskjöld and Erik Axel Karlfeldt (Nobel Prize in Literature 1931).[2].

b) Nominations

“To be considered eligible for an award, it is necessary to be nominated in writing by a person competent to make such a nomination. A personal application for an award shall not be considered.” (Paragraph 7) In fact, invites are sent by the different Nobel committees to selected people for them to nominate candidates.

“Competence to submit nominations shall be incumbent on representatives, domestic as well as foreign, of the field of culture in question, in conformity with detailed regulations issued by the prize-awarding body.” (supra) Hence, the invites are mostly sent to scientists, professors, and other experts in their fields.

“Each year the prize adjudication shall embrace such nominations as have been submitted during the preceding twelve months up to February 1.” (supra) Actually, the invites are sent out in September of the previous year.

“Nominations should be explained and accompanied by the publications and other documents cited in support of them.” (Paragraph 8 )

“Where a nomination is written in a language that cannot be translated without particular trouble or considerable expense, or where, to be able to appraise a proposed work, the prize-awarding body must chiefly make itself acquainted with the contents of a document written in such a language, the prize-awarding body shall not be under obligation to take up the nomination for further consideration.” (supra) Seems unfair but what can we do? Maybe this is partly why most laureates are Westerners.

Procedure[3]. (more or less)

The processes vary slightly per committee but they are very similar:

September – Nomination forms are sent out. The Nobel Committees send out confidential nomination forms to thousands of people (university professors around the world, scientists, past Nobel Laureates, etc).

February - May - Deadline for submission. The completed nomination forms must reach the relevant Nobel Committee by 31 January, or postmarked 1 February in the case of the Peace Prize, of the following year. The relevant Committees then screen the nominations and select the preliminary candidates for approval by their respective award-giving institutions.

June-August – Writing of the report. The Nobel Committees prepare their reports with recommendations to be submitted to their respective award-giving bodies.

September – Committee submits recommendations. The Nobel Committees submit their reports which are then taken up by the relevant award-giving bodies.

October – Nobel Laureates are chosen. In early October, the Nobel Laureates are selected. The names of the Nobel Laureates are then announced on the same day.

December –Nobel Laureates receive their prize. The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony takes place on 10 December (Nobel’s death anniversary) in Stockholm or Norway (in the case of the Peace Prize), where the Nobel Laureates receive their Nobel Prize, consisting of a Nobel Medal and Diploma, and a document confirming the prize amount.

c) Prizes

“A work may not be awarded a prize, unless it by experience or expert scrutiny has been found to be of such outstanding importance as is manifestly intended by the will.” (Paragraph 5)

There are 5 Nobel prizes awarded pursuant to Nobel’s will. But there are actually 6 recognized Nobel Prizes because in 1968, Sweden’s central bank, Sveriges Riksbank, established the Nobel Prize for Economics in memory of Alfred Nobel.[4]. Together with the Nobel laureate for physics and chemistry, the laureate for economics is chosen by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

The prize-awarding bodies have Nobel Committees for each prize. The committees are responsible for selecting the candidates from the nominees submitted by their invited experts.

The Nobel Foundation has no say in selecting any laureate.[5].

“No appeals may be made against the decision of a prize-awarding body with regard to the award of a prize.

Proposals received for the award of a prize, and investigations and opinions concerning the award of a prize, may not be divulged. Should divergent opinions have been expressed in connection with the decision of a prize-awarding body concerning the award of a prize, this may not be included in the record or otherwise divulged.

A prize-awarding body may, however, after due consideration in each individual case, permit access to material which formed the basis for the evaluation and decision concerning a prize, for purposes of research in intellectual history. Such permission may not, however, be granted until at least 50 years have elapsed after the date on which the decision in question was made.” (Paragraph 10) So, whatever rumours we hear of nominees, they’re just that, rumours


Since the beginning, in 1901, 789 individuals and 20 organizations have received Nobel prizes. Although in all, 811 prizes have been awarded (789 + 20 only equals 809) this is so because there are 2 individuals who won in 2 different categories each.

Marie Curie received the prize for physics in 1903, jointly with her husband Pierre for “their joint researches on the radiation phenomena” and for chemistry in 1911 for “the discovery of the elements radium and polonium”. The Curie family are an inspired lot. Marie and Pierre’s daughter, Irene - together with husband Frédéric Joliot – won the chemistry prize in 1935 “in recognition of their synthesis of new radioactive elements.”

Linus Pauling is the next double recipient. He received his prizes: for chemistry in 1954 “for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances” and for peace in 1962. Another interesting fact about M. Pauling is that he received his 2 prizes solo.

There are 4 other double recipients but they all received prizes for the same categories. 2 were individuals. John Bardeen received 2 physics prizes, first the 3-man prize “for their researches on semiconductors and their discovery of the transistor effect” then the 1972 (again) 3-way prize “for their jointly developed theory of superconductivity”. Frederick Sanger received the 1958 and the 1980 prizes in chemistry, the former “for his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin and the latter (a 3-man prize) “for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids”.

The next 2 were organizations. The 1st is actually a triple recipient. The Comité International d e la Croix Rouge (The International Committee of the Red Cross) received the 1917, 1944 and 1963 awards for peace. And, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees received the 1954 and the 1981 prizes for peace.

The youngest laureate was then 25 year old William Lawrence Bragg who received the physics prize together with his father in 1915 “for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays”. The oldest was 90 year old Leonid Hurwicz who shared the 3-man economics prize in 2007 “for having laid the foundations of mechanism design theory”.

Nobel prizes offer recognition to the laureates and their work, and inspiration to all of us. Alfred Nobel remains a remarkable man 111 years after his death. For his contributions during his lifetime but most especially for the noble legacy he left behind.

[1] Alfred Nobel’s Will. Retrieved October 23, 2008, from The Official Web Site of the Nobel Foundation Web site:

[2] Nomination Facts. Retrieved October 27, 2008, from The Official Web Site of the Nobel Foundation Web site:

[3] See Frequently Asked Questions, Nominations, The Official Web Sit of the Nobel Foundation Web site:

[4] The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. Retrieved October 27, 2008, from The Official Web Site of the Nobel Foundation Web site:

[5] The Nobel Prize Awarders. Retrieved October 27, 2008, from The Official Web Site of the Nobel Foundation Web site:

[6] Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved October 27, 2008, from The Official Web Site of the Nobel Foundation Web site: