Thursday, December 29, 2011

BIG BANG THEORY (The Law on the Sale, Manufacture, Distribution and Use Of Firecrackers and Other Pyrotechnic Devices)

By Siesta-friendly


Well, the only way to prevent being lit up yourself is to stop using fireworks in the first place. People from other countries leave the fireworks to experts, why can’t we?   Anyway, if you must play with fireworks (and we’ll never understand why), the law on the matter is Republic Act No. 7183 (An Act Regulating the Sale, Manufacture, Distribution and Use OfFirecrackers and Other Pyrotechnic Devices).[1] 

Allowed Firecrackers and Pyrotechnics

Initially, under Sec. 2. of RA 7183, the following common types of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices may be manufactured, sold, distributed and used: 

  1. Firecrackers:
(1)   Baby rocket — A firecracker with a stick so constructed that lighting of the wick will propel the whole thing to lift a few meters before exploding. The firecracker is about 1½ inches in length by 3/8 inch in diameter while the stick is about a foot in length; 
(2) Bawang — A firecracker larger than a triangulo with 1/3 teaspoon of powder packed in cardboard tied around with abaca strings and wrapped in shape of garlic; 
(3)  Small triangulo — A firecracker shaped like a triangle with powder content less than the bawang and usually wrapped in brown paper measuring ¾ inch length in its longest side; 
(4)   Pulling of strings — A firecracker consisting of a small tube about an inch in length and less than ¼ of an inch in diameter with strings on each end. Pulling both strings will cause the firecracker to explode; 
(5)   Paper caps — Minute amount of black powder spread in either small strips of paper on a small sheet used for children's toy guns; 
(6)   El diablo — Firecrackers tubular in shape about 1¼ inches in length and less than ¼ inch in diameter with a wick; also known as labintador; 
(7)   Watusi — Usually reddish in color about 1 ½ inches in length and 1/10 inch in width usually ignited by friction to produce a dancing movement and a crackling sound; 
(8)   Judah's belt — A string of firecrackers consisting of either diablos or small triangulos that can number up to a hundred or thereabout and culminating in large firecracker usually a bawang;
(9)   Sky rocket (kwitis) — A large version of a baby rocket designed to be propelled to a height of 40 to 50 feet before exploding; 
(10)  Other types equivalent to the foregoing in explosive content. 

  1. Pyrotechnic Devices: 
(1)   Sparklers — Pyrotechnic devices usually made of black powder on a piece of wire or inside a paper tube designed to light up and glow after igniting; 
(2)   Luces — Any of several kinds of sparklers; 
(3)   Fountain — A kind of sparkler conical in shape which is lighted on the ground and designed to provide various rising colors and intermittent lights upon being ignited; 
(4)   Jumbo regular and special — A kind of sparkler similar to a "fountain" but bigger in size; 
(5)   Mabuhay — Sparklers bunched into a bundle of a dozen pieces; 
(6)   Roman candle — A sparkler similar to a "fountain" but shaped like a big candle; 
(7) Trompillo — A pyrotechnic device usually fastened at the center and designed to spin first clockwise and then counter-clockwise and provides various colored lights upon being ignited; 
(8)   Airwolf — A kind of sky rocket shaped like an airplane with a propeller to rise about 40 or 50 feet and provide various kinds of light while aloft; 
(9)  Whistle device — Any of the various kinds of firecrackers or pyrotechnic designed to either simply emit a whistle-like sound or explode afterwards upon being ignited; 
(10)Butterfly — Butterfly-shaped pyrotechnic device designed to lift above ground while providing light; 
(11) All kinds of pyrotechnic devices (pailaw); and 
(12) Other types equivalent to the foregoing devices. 

Prohibited  Firecrackers and Pyrotechnics

Under Sec. 3 of RA 7183 “[t]he manufacture, sale, distribution and use of other types of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices not mentioned in [Sec. 2 above], of such explosive content that could endanger life and limb, such as atomic big triangulo and super lolo and their equivalent are hereby prohibited.  Determination of what constitutes prohibited firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices shall be vested with the Director-General of the Philippine National Police (PNP).”

HOWEVER, as of December 22, 2010, the following have since been banned by the Department of Health (DOH):

1.                  Piccolo
2.                  Pla-pla
3.                  5 -Star
4.                  Atomic Bomb
5.                  Triangulo
6.                  Super Lolo
7.                  Boga
8.                  Watusi

In case there are other kinds of firecrackers higher/more explosive than those in the list of banned firecrackers, consider it as illegal.[2]

In its website, the PNP lists other specifically prohibited firecrackers: “Big Triangle, Super Lolo and equivalents, Mother Rocket, Five Star, Og, Pla-Pla, Pillbox, Firecrackers without labels and other firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices that could endanger life and limb including ingenious underground fabrications such as Goodbye Earth, Atomic, and other dangerous firecrackers manufactured by illegal fireworks makers.”[3]

And on December 26, 2011, GMANews posted an updated list of the firecrackers prohibited (by the DOH and Department of Trade and Industry) for sale and manufacture in the country:

1.   Watusi or the “dancing firecracker.” It was initially allowed for sale and manufacture under RA 7183, but was eventually banned because it causes poisoning when ingested, especially among children.
2.      Piccolo – This firecracker has been the leading cause of firecracker-related injuries since 2007. The Department of Health banned it in 2007 because it can explode on the hands, and may cause death when ingested.
3.     Super Lolo and Atomic Big Triangulo – two firecrackers specifically mentioned in RA 7183.
4.     Mother Rockets – firecracker with a stick designed as a propellant upon lighting the wick.
5.      Lolo Thunder – a powerful firecracker twice the size of a Five Star.
6.      Pillbox – a firecracker that causes a series of sparks when lit.
7.   Boga – traditional canon made from PVC pipe using denatured alcohol as explosive ingredient.
8.      Big Judah’s belt – a string of firecrackers consisting of smaller firecrackers that number up to a hundred, and culminating in a larger and more powerful firecracker.
9.      Big Bawang – a firecracker packed in cardboard tied around with abaca strings, giving it the shape of a large garlic.
10.  Kwiton – aerial firecracker which explodes several times when lit.
11. Goodbye Philippines – giant triangle-shaped firecracker which packs a powerful explosion.
12.  Kabasi – a triangle-sized explosive twice the size of a Pla-pla. 

Other banned firecrackers include the “Atomic Bomb,” Five Star, Pla-pla, Og, Giant Whistle Bomb, and unlabelled firecrackers.[4]

In its Aksyon: Paputok Injury Reduction website, the DOH “strongly reminded the public that most cases of fireworks-related injuries come from the 1-10 years age group, totalling 330 cases or 34% of all injuries. This group is followed by the 11-20 years age group in number of injuries. It was also found that cases reach their peak during December 31 and January 1. Furthermore, DOH statistics of last year’s holiday celebrations reveal that most injuries were due to piccolo, kwitis, five star, pla-pla, and luces.”[5]

The DOH’s five reminders to prevent harm and injury are: 1) mapanganib ang paggamit ng paputok (fireworks cause injuries and endanger health); 2) lahat ng paputok ay bawal sa bata (children should not use any fireworks); 3) umiwas sa mga taong nagpapaputok(keep safe and away from exploding fireworks); 4) Huwag mamulot ng mga di sumabog na paputok (never pick used fireworks); and, 5) Magpagamot kaagad kapag naputukan(seek immediate medical treatment for all firework injuries).[6]

Buy only from licensed manufacturers, sellers, distributors

License or permit to manufacture, sell and distribute firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices shall be granted only for the manufacture, sale and distribution of allowed firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices. Under no circumstances shall a license or permit be granted for the manufacture, sale and/or distribution of prohibited firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices. (Sec. 4, RA 7183)

Firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices shall bear labels indicating the name and address of their manufacturers and warning instructions written in Filipino and English. (Sec. 8)

Imported firecrackers and fireworks are prohibited

The importation of finished firecrackers and fireworks shall be prohibited.  Only duly licensed manufacturers shall be allowed to import chemicals or explosive ingredients used in the manufacture of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices.  (Sec. 6)

Other Safety Guidelines

For those in neighborhoods with firecracker manufacturers, seller or distributors, note the following regulations to be followed -

Sec.  7. Safety Guidelines. — Strict compliance of the following safety precautions, rules and regulations shall be observed by manufacturers, distributors and users of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices: 

(a)    A zone shall be designed by the local government unit where a manufacturing complex may be established. The outer perimeter of this zone shall be at least three hundred (300) meters away from the nearest residential units. Once a zone has been defined, no residential unit shall be permitted nearer than three hundred (300) meters from the perimeter of such zone; 
(b)   The manufacturing complex shall be governed by, but not limited to, the following safety measures:
(1)   All buildings shall have adequate ventilation, no concrete floors, must be leak-proof and furnished with necessary fire extinguishers; 
(2)   The warehouse must be at least fifty (50) meters away from any processing station of the complex; and 
(3)   The following processing stations of the complex shall be laid out according to the indicated minimum distance from each other with all sides open: 
(i)                 Mixing 50 MTS 
(ii)               Grinding 40 MTS 
(iii)             Packaging 40 MTS 
(iv)             Nagmimitsa 20 MTS 
(v)               Loading 20 MTS 

Penalties

Any person who manufactures, sells, distributes or uses firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices in violation of the provisions of this Act shall be punished by a fine of not less than P20,000.00 nor more than P30,000.00, or imprisonment of not less than 6 months nor more than 1 year, or both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court in addition to the cancellation of his license and business permit and the confiscation by the Government of his inventory or stock.  (Sec. 11)

Like clockwork, at this time of the year there are already numerous cases of injuries and even death due to firecrackers. Making a big bang can be done without firecrakers (and we do not mean shooting a gun!). Driving away bad spirits or bringing good luck should not include risking life, limb or property.  Resorting to certain pyrotechnics is not only against the law but also common sense.  As one entry made in Facebook says, why not spend the money instead on the victims of Sendong?  Now that is one big bang gesture that should bring you back a lifetime’s worth of goodwill.




[1]  January 30, 1992.

[2] Department of Health, (2010). List of illegal and legal firecrackers. Retrieved from website: http://bert.doh.gov.ph/doh_apir/articlelist.php?start=4
 
[3]  Philippine National Police, (n.d.). Pnp intensifies crackdown on outlawed fireworks. Retrieved from website: http://www.pnp.gov.ph/main/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=577
 
[4]  Calonzo, A. (2011, December 26). List of fireworks and firecrackers prohibited in the phl. Retrieved from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/242771/news/nation/list-of-fireworks-and-firecrackers-prohibited-in-the-phl  

[5]  Department of Health, (2011). Doh calls for apir - aksyon: Paputok injury reduction (give me five) campaign - this holiday season. Retrieved from website: http://bert.doh.gov.ph/doh_apir/articlelist.php?start=1

[6]  Supra.
NEWER POST       |       PREVIOUS POST

Monday, December 12, 2011

HOSPITAL ARREST (Anti-Detention Of Patients Act)

By Siesta-friendly

Like Mary and Joseph looking for a place to give birth, Eleanor and Edgar approached several government hospitals for Eleanor’s premature delivery.  And like Mary and Joseph who were several times turned away, Eleanor and Edgar “were refused admission for some reason or other. Some facilities claimed they did not have incubators for premature babies.”[1]

We still cannot understand how hospitals, especially government hospitals, continue to turn away people in need of medical help.  We do not think that’s mere ignorance of the almost 15-year old law that is Republic Act No. 8344 (“An Act Penalizing The Refusal Of Hospitals And Medical Clinics To Administer Appropriate Initial Medical Treatment And Support In Emergency Or Serious Cases …), we think its just the blatant disregard of it.

But that is not why we are making this post since we’ve already discussed RA 8344 previously - it’s because Eleanor and Edgar’s plight did not end upon the birth of their boy.  While Mary and Joseph were given gifts by wise men, Edgar and Eleanor were given a ransom demand by not so wise men. The hospital told them that they had to pay “more than P700,000 for the delivery and care of [their] premature baby.”[2] 

Eleanor is a golf caddie while Edgar is an unemployed former grass cutter.  So, from the time of their son’s birth on July 19, 2011 until November 25, 2011 – over 4 months - Baby John stayed inside the University of Perpetual Help - Dr. Jose Tamayo Medical Center in BiƱan (UPH), Laguna not because he was sick but because his parents couldn’t pay the (unbelievable) P700,000.00-plus hospital bill. 

Baby John was released only on November 25, 2011after media exposure of their story and after the couple’s appeal to the Department of Health (DOH).  Pursuant to R.A. 9439 (An Act Prohibiting The Detention Of Patients In Hospitals And Medical Clinics On Grounds Of Nonpayment Of Hospital Bills Or Medical Expenses)[3], Eleanor and Edgar “signed a promissory note undertaking to pay the hospital bill in monthly installments.”[4]

Illegal Hospital Detention

We don’t have to tell you that what UPH did was wrong, at least morally. But how wrong were they, legally?

Let’s start with Section 1 of RA 9439 which states:

It shall be unlawful for any hospital or medical clinic in the country to detain or to otherwise cause, directly or indirectly, the detention of patients who have fully or partially recovered or have been adequately attended to or who may have died, for reasons of nonpayment in part or in full of hospital bills or medical expenses.

The news reports do not contain any allegation that Baby John was being held by UPH because he was still sick.  Although, it was reported that for “four months [Eleanor] was not allowed to touch or hug her baby as hospital staff said he needed intensive care because, having weighed only 1.14 kilograms at birth, he had pneumonia and pulmonary problems.”[5] That excuse seems to be a defense against Eleanor’s claim of lack of contact with her baby than a defense in favor of the baby’s detention.

Section 2 further states:

Patients who have fully or partially recovered and who already wish to leave the hospital or medical clinic but are financially incapable to settle, in part or in full, their hospitalization expenses, including professional fees and medicines, shall be allowed to leave the hospital or medical clinic, with a right to demand the issuance of the corresponding medical certificate and other pertinent papers required for the release of the patient from the hospital or medical clinic upon the execution of a promissory note covering the unpaid obligation…

Promissory Note

Unfortunately, under the circumstances, hospitals/clinics are at best left with –

1)                  A promissory note required as follows - 

The promissory note shall be secured by either a mortgage or by a guarantee of a co-maker, who will be jointly and severally liable with the patient for the unpaid obligation. In the case of a deceased patient, the corresponding death certificate and other documents required for interment and other purposes shall be released to any of his surviving relatives requesting for the same. (Section 2)

In the case of a deceased patient, DOH Administrative Order No. 2008-0001 (Implementing Rules And Regulations of Republic Act No. 9439) [6] clarifies that any of the surviving relatives who refuse to execute a promissory note shall be allowed to claim the cadaver and can demand the issuance of death certificate and other pertinent documents for interment purposes, but documents for other purposes shall be released only after the execution of a promissory note. (Part V. A. Paragraph 3)

2)                  An assignment of proceeds, as follows:

DOH AO No. 2008-0001 adds that in the case of a deceased patient and in the event that the above-mentioned documents “will be needed for the purposes of getting the benefits from the SSS, GSIS, Philhealth, insurance policies or pre-need plans, the hospital may require the execution of an assignment of proceeds up to the extent of the hospital bills or medical expenses/hospitalization.” (Part V. A. Paragraph 2)

The only other protection for hospitals/clinics is that RA 9439 does not apply to patients who stayed in private rooms” (Section 2). So does that mean private room patients can be held by hospitals/clinics for ransom if they can’t pay?  Food for thought. 

Illegal Detention of Cadaver

Yet, despite the clear mandate of the RA 9439 and DOH AO No. 2008-0001, hospitals continue to find excuses to try and circumvent the law -

“To add insult to injury, the hospital put us through a terrible and humiliating ordeal before we were able to take my mother’s body for a proper funeral and burial. We were asked to provide collateral, postdated checks, OR/CR of vehicles or find a guarantor who will vouch for us.

Funeraria Paz arrived to take mama’s body but the hospital insisted that we needed to keep the body at Holy Trinity for “preservation” while we are negotiating the terms of the promissory note. They insisted that they weren’t holding my mom’s body, but repeatedly refused to release it. They advised us to keep the body at Holy Trinity for preservation in a fridge for a “minimal fee” of P4,000-5,000 per day.” – Account of Alva Marano-Alfonso detailing “what the Marano family went through when their beloved mother, Josephine, passed away last November 16 at age 56. The body was held for ten hours, pending down-payment of P200k. The title of their home is being demanded by the Paranaque Doctors’ Hospital as collateral — until their bills are fully settled.”[7]

DOH assistance

To help both the patients and the hospitals/clinics, the DOH is mandated to, “as far as practicable, assist patients in looking for financial assistance from government and non-government sources to settle the unpaid hospital bills or medical expenses / hospitalization expenses.  Toward this end, the DOH shall work closely with fincancial institutions like, but not limited to, [Philhealth], [PCSO], [PAGCOR], [LGUs], as well as Congress, to provide funds for this purpose. (Part V. B. Paragraph 1 c))

Although, in the case of Eleanor and Edgar, the DOH guaranteed P10,000.00 financial assistance and the PCSO guaranteed a P50,000.00 donation, the government should be made to guaranty more substantial financial assistance to indigent patients.

Liability of hospital/clinic

Any officer or employee of the hospital or medical clinic responsible for releasing patients, who violates the provisions of R.A. 9439 and its implementing rules and regulations shall be punished by a fine of not less than P20,000.00, but not more than P50,000.00, or imprisonment of not less than 1 month, but not more than 6 months, or both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the proper court. (Section 3, RA 9439; Part V. B. Paragraph 3, DOH AO No. 2008-0001)

Business is business, true; but lives are lives – priceless and invaluable.  Lives are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, relatives, friends, loved ones.  Business is just business. For a profession that deals with lives regularly and intimately, it is appalling that it should be health personnel who should treat people the worst if only to continue making money.



[1]  Alcantara, S. R. (2011, November 20). Baby john’s plight touches netizens. Retrieved from http://technology.inquirer.net/6299/baby-john’s-plight-touches-netizens/
[2]  Supra.
[3]  April 27, 2007.
[4]  Alcantara, S. R. (2011, December 4). ‘Hostage’ baby is finally home.  Retrieved from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/104923/hostage-baby-is-finally-home
[5]  Supra.
[6]   January 7, 2008
[7]  Villanueva-Ong, Y.  (2011, December 6).  The high cost of dying.  Retrieved from http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=755429&publicationSubCategoryId=64

NEWER POST       |       PREVIOUS POST

Monday, December 5, 2011

Say A Little Prayer: Court Forms

By Obiter07

A child gets to read over the documents her dad has in the office.  It is actually something that has to be filed in court.  He asks, “looks like you are really desperate here, Daddy.” The dad asks why does she say that and she replies, “Because you have a prayer at the end.”

If you have ever looked at pleadings or the papers that are filed in court by your lawyers, invariably the last portion has the heading “Prayer.”  Legalese is sometimes hard to understand.  It pays to have some knowledge of the forms and how they appear.

Let us have a look at the lower courts and civil cases. There are actually rules on court papers or what has been termed as “pleadings.” Pleadings contain “the respective claims and defenses of the parties submitted to the court for appropriate judgment. (Section 1, Rule 6).

Complaint and Answer

A party’s claims (or whatever you are asking from your opponent, be it damages or requiring something to be done) are contained in the “complaint, counterclaim, cross-claim, third (fourth, etc.) party complaint, or complaint-in-intervention.” And the “defenses of a party are alleged in the answer to the pleading asserting a claim against him.”  In short, someone files a claim and you file an “Answer” to that claim. Thereafter, the claimant can file a “Reply” to the answer (Section 2).  It is not in the rules but lawyers then usually file a rejoinder to the reply. No lawyer worth his salt will allow the other party to have the last word.  So after the rejoinder, you get to see the “Sur-rejoinder” or a “Sur-Reply.” So even if the rules don’t expressly allow such pleadings, trust the lawyers to find something to go around them. 

Reply

A reply is “a pleading, the office or function of which is to deny, or allege facts in denial or avoidance of new matters alleged by way of defense in the answer and thereby join or make issue as to such new matters. If a party does not file such reply, all the new matters alleged in the answer are deemed controverted. If the plaintiff wishes to interpose any claims arising out of the new matters so alleged, such claims shall be set forth in an amended or supplemental complaint (Section 10).”  So if the defendant files an Answer with new matters, the Reply is the plaintiff’s way of answering back.  However, he may choose not to, as all new matters are deemed controverted anyway.

Ad Cautelam

You will even see pleadings like “Answer Ad Cautelam” or a “Manifestation Ad Cautelam.” What are these things?  It just means that your lawyers are filing something “for caution” so as not to forestall something for you.  For example, an “Answer Ad Cautelam” may be filed if your lawyer thinks his motion for extension of time may be arbitrarily denied or if he is still questioning the jurisdiction of the court, but does not want you to be defaulted for failing to file an answer within the time allowed.  Strictly speaking, such pleadings are not expressly provided for in the Rules.

Defenses

What are the defenses you can raise?  These may either be negative or positive defenses. ‘”A negative defense is the specific denial of the material fact or facts alleged in the pleading of the claimant essential to his cause or causes of action.  An “affirmative defense” is an allegation of a new matter which, while hypothetically admitting the material allegations in the pleading of the claimant, would nevertheless prevent or bar recovery by him.” These include “fraud, statute of limitations, release, payment, illegality, statute of frauds, estoppel, former recovery, discharge in bankruptcy, and any other matter by way of confession and avoidance (Section 5).  For example, a negative defense would be to denying you owe a debt to the plaintiff.  An affirmative defense would be that the cause of action on the debt has prescribed.

Counterclaim and Cross-claim

If you also have a claim against the plaintiff, then you file a counterclaim against him. “A counterclaim is any claim which a defending party may have against an opposing party. (Section 6)”    Or if you have co-defendants against whom you have a claim, then you can make a cross-claim against them. “A cross-claim is any claim by one party against a co-party arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter either of the original action or of a counterclaim therein. Such cross-claim may include a claim that the party against whom it is asserted is or may be liable to the cross-claimant for all or part of a claim asserted in the action against the cross-claimant (Section 8).”  How could such a situation come about?  It could be that you are a guarantor of a debt.  If the borrower fails to pay, and you are the only one sued by the creditor, you may wish to bring in the borrower as a party to the case, against whom you will demand compensation if you are adjudged liable to pay.

Third-party Complaints

It doesn’t end with co-parties though.  Since misery loves company, then the defendant can bring in other parties by filing third party or more complaints against persons in respect of complaint. “A third (fourth, etc.) party complaint is a claim that a defending party may, with leave of court, file against a person not a party to the action, called the third (fourth, etc.) party defendant, for contribution, indemnity, subrogation or any other relief, in respect of his opponent's claim.” (Section 11).  But this must be with the court’s permission.  Once this complaint is filed, then we begin with an Answer all over again."A third (fourth, etc.) party defendant may allege in his answer his defenses, counterclaims or cross-claims, including such defenses that the third (fourth, etc.) party plaintiff may have against the original plaintiff's claim. In proper cases, he may also assert a counterclaim against the original plaintiff in respect of the latter's claim against the third-party plaintiff (Section 13).”

Pleading; Form

From the pleadings contents, we go to the form. There must be a caption which “sets forth the name of the court, the title of the action, and the docket number if assigned. The title of the action indicates the names of the parties. They shall all be named in the original complaint or petition; but in subsequent pleadings, it shall be sufficient if the name of the first party on each side be stated with an appropriate indication when there are other parties. Their respective participation in the case shall be indicated (Section 1, Rule 7).

The body of the pleading “sets forth its designation (whether it an Answer or Reply for example), the allegations of the party's claims or defenses, the relief prayed for, and the date of the pleading.  It is to be divided into numbered paragraphs, “each of which shall contain a statement of a single set of circumstances so far as that can be done with convenience. A paragraph may be referred to by its number in all succeeding pleadings. There should be heading and when “two or more causes of action are joined, the statement of the first shall be prefaced by the words "first cause of action," of the second by "second cause of action," and so on for the others. When one or more paragraphs in the answer are addressed to one of several causes of action in the complaint, they shall be prefaced by the words "answer to the first cause of action" or "answer to the second cause of action" and so on; and when one or more paragraphs of the answer are addressed to several causes of action, they shall be prefaced by words to that effect (Section 2).”

And we come to the prayer, since the “pleading shall specify the relief sought, but it may add a general prayer for such further or other relief as may be deemed just or equitable. Section 2” 

The pleading must be dated (Section 2).  At the end it “must be signed by the party or counsel representing him, stating in either case his address which should not be a post office box.”  Signing is not an empty exercise. “The signature of counsel constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading; that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief there is good ground to support it; and that it is not interposed for delay.” 

While an “unsigned pleading produces no legal effect,” failure to sign is not always fatal. As “the court may, in its discretion, allow such deficiency to be remedied if it shall appear that the same was due to mere inadvertence and not intended for delay. Counsel who deliberately files an unsigned pleading, or signs a pleading in violation of this Rule, or alleges scandalous or indecent matter therein, or fails to promptly report to the court a change of his address, shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action (Section 3).”

A pleading may need to be verified or be under oath if required by applicable law or rules. (Section 4)   Lastly, the plaintiff or principal party has to certify that he is not engaging in forum shopping (Section 5).  What is forum shopping?

“A party is guilty of forum shopping when he repetitively avails of several judicial remedies in different courts, simultaneously or successively, all substantially founded on the same transactions and the same essential facts and circumstances, and all raising substantially the same issues either pending in, or already resolved adversely, by some other court. And what is truly important to consider in determining whether forum shopping exists is the vexation caused the courts and the litigants by a party who asks different courts and/or administrative agencies to rule on the same or related causes and/or grant the same or substantially the same reliefs, in the process creating the possibility of conflicting decisions being rendered by the different for a upon the same issues. TANTOY, SR.,  vs .
COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL. ( G.R. No. 141427 April 20, 2001)”

This is only a quick overview of the rules for civil actions.  There are particular requirements for appeals and petitions before the courts.  Nowhere in the rules is there mention that a mere letter will suffice in order to be entertained by any court.  But as at least two (2) cases will show, the Supreme Court has seen fit to do away with formalities for reasons of its own, allowing letters to re-open its decisions. It has done so when it recalled the decision rendered by the court in 2 recent cases: a labor case involving Philippine Airlines[1] and a case deciding for the constitutionality of the creation of 16 cities, after previously ruling that it was not.[2]  We can only pray that they are guided by right and reason.






[1]  (Supreme Court recalls final ruling on PAL cabin layoffs)  Mendoza’s letter does trick; airline union outraged By Philip C. Tubeza, Philippine Daily Inquirer, October 11, 2011, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/73877/supreme-court-recalls-final-ruling-on-pal-cabin-layoffs
[2]  SC procedures and flip-flops, GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc, The Philippine Star, http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=738204&publicationSubCategoryId=64     


NEWER POST       |       PREVIOUS POST