Friday, February 13, 2015

Automatic PhilHealth Coverage for Senior Citizens

Just recently passed in November 2014. The news article was lifted from GMA, read on for more information:

President Benigno Aquino III signed into law a measure granting automatic, lifetime membership of senior citizens to Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
In a statement Tuesday, Senator Ralph Recto, principal author of the Senate version of Republic Act (RA 10645), said Aquino signed the measure last week.
Under RA  10645 or "An Act Providing for the Mandatory PhilHealth Coverage for All Senior Citizens,” all citizens who are 60 years old and above will receive the benefits and discounts extended to ordinary PhilHealth members by just presenting a valid ID that proves their real age.
“Magpakita lang sila ng ID bilang patunay na sila'y senior citizen at matatanggap na nila mula sa ospital ang karapatang benepisyong laan sa mga miyembro ng PhilHealth," Recto said.
The RA 10645 amends RA No. 994 or “The Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010”and removes the qualification that a senior citizen has to be an indigent or poor before qualifying for PhilHealth coverage, with premium payments fully subsidized by the national government.
Based on Senate records, there are roughly 6.1 million senior citizens in the Philippines today, of which 3.94 million are covered by PhilHealth either as indigent, sponsored, lifetime member, or dependent.
Recto said the signing of the new law brings the remaining 2.16 million senior under PhilHealth coverage.
“Health insurance can never be called universal if it does not cover all seniors. Enrolling them must be automatic, not optional. The ideal is that the minute they blow out the candles on their 60th birthday cake to the moment they breathe their last – they should be PhilHealth members," Recto said.

'Early Christmas gift'
Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, principal sponsor of RA 10645 and chairman of the Senate committee on health and demography, welcomed the President’s move, saying it can be considered an “early Christmas gift” to the Filipino elders.
“It is high time that we give back to our country's elders. In our culture, the condition and situation of a person in his or her advanced age is the reflection of the character of his or her children. How we take care of our senior citizens is also a mirror of our character as a nation," Guingona said in a separate statement.
“"It is the priority of this administration to give social protection services to all Filipinos. Let us start with our seniors," he added.
As of December 2013, there are a 76.90 million Filipinos covered by PhilHealth – 31.27 million of which are registered members and 45.63 million are dependents.
In 2013, PhilHealth reported P62 billion in premium contributions on top of P12.612 billion worth of subsidies from the national government.
Also last year, PhilHealth shelled out P55.559 billion in benefits payments.
Apart from Recto, the Senate version of RA 10645 was co-authored by Senators Guingona, Bam Aquino, Loren Legarda, Nancy Binay, Cynthia Villar, Sonny Angara, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Francis Escudero, JV Ejercito, Vicente Sotto III, Sergio Osmena, Aquilino Pimentel III, Grace Poe, Sonny Trillanes, Gregorio Honasan, Manuel Lapid, Bongbong Marcos and Senate President Franklin Drilon. – VS, GMA News

Acknowledged Illegitimate Children

Previously, it became automatic and compulsory on the part of the illegitimate child to carry the surname of his/her illegitimate father whenever he/she will be acknowledged. However, the Supreme Court struck down the NSO's rules regarding the matter in GRACE M. GRANDE v. PATRICIO T. ANTONIO, G.R. NO. 206248, February 18, 2014. The Supreme Court held that Art. 176 of the Family Code gives illegitimate children the right to decide if they want to use the surname of their father or not. On its face, Art. 176, as amended, is free from ambiguity. And where there is no ambiguity, one must abide by its words. The use of the word “may” in the provision readily shows that an acknowledged illegitimate child is under no compulsion to use the surname of his illegitimate father. The word “may” is permissive and operates to confer discretion upon the illegitimate children.

With that in mind, if you do plan to acknowledge your illegitimate child, your child cannot yet take on your surname, when the time comes, your child will have to decide if he/she will use your surname. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Correction of Sex in Birth Certificate

No, this post does not involve sex change or sex reassignment surgery but merely correction of erroneous entries pertaining to gender(sex) in Philippine birth certificates.

Before the passage of Republic Act 10172, in case of erroneous entries of genders, one had no other option but to file a Petition for the Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court. This Petition under Rule 108 could be quite tedious and may take time, (not to mention money) from the petitioner since one had to secure the services of lawyer, pay his acceptance and appearance fees, court fees, etc. just to correct one entry (such as gender).

With Republic Act 10172, one need not secure the services of a lawyer in order to file a petition in court. In fact, filing of a petition in court is no longer necessary! It is as simple as filling out a form and having your signature notarized, but that is after you have secured some necessary documents. As regards gender, the entry in the birth certificate must be erroneous, this simply means that you must be biologically male or female and the entry appearing in your birth certificate states you are otherwise. Remember: One must be biologically male or female. You cannot change your gender if you had sex reassignment surgery or had a sex change.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pizza Republic "Pick + Mix" - Cebu

There's this new pizza place along Salinas Drive in Lahug, Cebu City where you can actually pick the ingredients you would want to be placed on your very own pizza. If you remember the noodle joint in Ayala Center, Cebu, called Kublai Khan, Pizza Republic Pick + Mix would be the Kublai Khan of pizza. The service is good, and your pizza will be made according to your exacting specifications.

I was able to visit Pizza Republic Pick + Mix with my girlfriend to try out what they had to offer after hearing good things about it. In what seemed like an assembly line, you get to choose your ingredients and the crew will prepare it for you. A few short minutes later, your pizza is ready to be devoured. The ambiance was nice, so was the pizza, and of course the service. HOWEVER, what irked me a bit is the southern wall of the pizza joint. A few of our friends pointed out that it was not filled with graffiti and post-it notes a few months back.

I've seen so-called coffeeshops (mostly Korean-styled coffeeshops) where their walls are bedecked with post-it notes and graffiti. I've always frowned upon those coffeeshops, those things on their wall remind me of some bathroom in a highschool for juvenile delinquents. I don't really know why people would want to uglify an otherwise wall with all those graffiti and post-it notes. It actually becomes a turn off. If that's your thing, well, you're in luck.

Going back to Pizza Republic, I don't really know if the joint is trying to sport a public toilet look, but those things on their walls look unsanitary, unsightly, and ugly, but more importantly, it cheapens the place. Even their Facebook page sports that ugly wall full of awful grammar and ugly graffiti. Obviously they allow people to scribble stuff on their walls or post post-it notes but I wonder how they would react if I brought with me several cans of spray paint and tag the whole wall with my name. What would be the difference? I see none.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pick up After your Dog

Dogs. I love dogs but I hate dog shit and their owners who indiscriminately let their dog take a shit without picking up after them. There should be a City Ordinance about responsible pet ownership.

I find it bothersome that most people with dogs would take them out for a walk and have them shitting all over the place and not pick up after them. Every morning, I find pieces of dog shit scattered outside my front gate and in the afternoon, it would be scattered all over my driveway as I drive over it. That's not responsible pet ownership. How would you feel if I let my dog shit in front of your gate or on your driveway?

There was this one incident where I caught one of those dog-owners walking his dog, then it started sniffing and circling around, as a dog owner myself, I know that it's one of those telltale signs that her dog was about to take a dump. I immediately called the attention of the dog owner, telling her, "sakwata ang tae sa imong iro", to which she retorted, "uga bitaw ang tae sa iro, sir". That is not the frigging point, I told her. I immediately handed her a plastic bag (good thing it wasn't a Saturday, otherwise, I'd hand her a flimsy paper bag) and told her once again, "sakwata ang tae sa imong iro". She looked at me strangely, as if she did not understand the reason why I gave her a plastic bag, and I pointed to the steaming pile of dog shit and said, "hiposa ang tae sa imong iro". She then tried to say that her dog took a shit on the sidewalk, a public thoroughfare, and I said again, with all the more reason you should pick up after your dog. People might step on it, nothing can be as bad as stepping on dog shit on the way to work, or home, or where ever.

So she begrudgingly scooped up the stinking pile of dog shit using the plastic bag I gave her.

It's nice to own pets, it's wonderful taking care of pets, but people just have no discipline or sense of responsibility. Be a responsible pet owner. Pick up after your dog. It won't take five minutes to take care of the mess.

Legal Advice, Legal Opinion, Legal Onion.

I've always had this policy of providing free legal advice/opinion to students and former students about their personal legal concerns. I must emphasize the term "personal legal concerns", it does not cover matters relating to inquiries from their employers. Like this one student who sent me a message stating that she wanted to ask me something, so I gave her my email. As it turns out, it was not a personal matter at all, but a matter pertaining to her employer. I stopped reading the email when it became apparent that the question did not involve her (directly), so I messaged her that if her employer is amenable, I shall be assessing the company where is employed my standard consultation fee.

And that was that, the former student found it steep, and it should be. For the legal concern her employer had involved thousands of pesos (thankfully it was not in millions of pesos) which it had no legal right to withhold. To cut the story short, I did not dispense any legal advice since her employer  was not agreeable my proposed fee assessment.

It may be perhaps unfortunate that I'm teaching Labor Laws and some former students, by the time they are employed, will perhaps try to seek legal advice/opinion for their bosses, and try to get it for free. Alas, those matters aren't personal in nature and I do not provide pro bono services to companies/organizations who, in my considered opinion, had caused form of injustice to their employees.

I guess that's just how a LEGAL ONION would work. No legal opinion, just a legal onion for you.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

SSS release of salary loans thru prepaid cards now possible

Members of the Social Security System (SSS) now have the option to receive their salary loans through Citi Visa Prepaid cards that provide borrowers a quicker, safer and more convenient means of receiving their loan proceeds.
SSS Vice President and Officer-in-Charge of Lending and Asset Management Division May Catherine Ciriaco said the agency will pilot the SSS Citi Visa Prepaid Card on March 6, 2014 for members applying for salary loans at SSS branches in Diliman, Quezon City and in Buendia, Makati City, which both account for a high volume of salary loan applications.
“Members with the SSS Citi Visa Prepaid Card can get their salary loan funds electronically within days, instead of waiting for two weeks for their loan check to arrive through the mail. They no longer need to encash the check at the bank since they can already conveniently access their funds through ATM withdrawal, or by swiping their card for purchases at Visa-accredited merchants in the Philippines and overseas,” Ciriaco added.
SSS' partnership with Citi Philippines and Visa is in line with the pension fund's thrust to improve service delivery, enhance loan processing, and eliminate fraud. It also addresses problems with misdelivered, stolen or lost checks, which take time to replace, further delaying the loan release to the member.
Citi is proud to partner with SSS in this innovation, which will offer advantages not only to SSS members across the country, but also to SSS the institution,” remarked Batara Sianturi, CEO for Citi Philippines. “Electronic payment is the wave of the future, providing convenience as well as speed and enhanced security to every user. This partnership gives testament to Citi’s commitment to serve as payment solutions provider not only to the private companies, but to the public sector as well.”
The SSS Citi Visa Prepaid Card is accepted at more than 15,000 automated teller machines (ATMs) and over 200,000 Visa partner merchants in the Philippines, as well as for online purchases. Members can use their cards globally wherever Visa is accepted, at tens of millions of retailers and to withdraw local currency at 2 million ATMs in more than 200 territories and countries worldwide.

“Visa has helped governments worldwide to operate more efficiently through the use of electronic payments. Our collaboration with SSS and Citi Philippines is a great example of how a Visa Prepaid card can be used to provide a more convenient, secure and efficient system to disburse salary loans to the tens of millions of SSS members in the country.” said Peter Maher, Visa Group Country Manager for Southeast Asia.

Ciriaco noted. “The prepaid card requires no maintaining balance and can be used for various promos offered by Visa partner merchants.”To avail themselves of this service, interested borrowers must first file their salary loan application at SSS Diliman or SSS Makati-Buendia. After securing SSS' approval of the loan, members must submit their SSS Citi Visa Prepaid Card Application Form and a photocopy of one government-issued ID to the designated Citibank lane at the same branch.

Ciriaco said the SSS will release the card directly to the member on the same day, with the loan proceeds credited within three to four days. The SSS Citi Visa Prepaid Card will be issued free to members, while P150 will be charged as replacement fee for lost or damaged cards.

“The card will be valid for three years from the date of issuance. It is also reloadable, so members renewing their salary loans can get their new loan proceeds using the same prepaid card, as long as it is within the card's validity period,” she said. “Members will be notified thru text message if their loan has been already loaded into their account.”

Only SSS can deposit funds into the prepaid card accounts. For secure access, a Personal Identification Number or “PIN” is required before any card transaction can be made, Ciriaco explained.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

SSS cuts UMID processing time, cites steps for claiming RTS cards

The Social Security System (SSS) has cut down the processing time of members' identification cards to 10 working days, enabling it to eliminate its production backlog and bring the total number of SSS-issued IDs under the Unified Multi-purpose Identification System (UMID) to over three million so far
The 10-working day processing time starts from the date of application up to the date the UMID card package is released to the Philippine Postal Corporation (PhilPost) for delivery to the member's mailing address.
“UMID production entails much more than printing a member's photo and personal details on a plastic card. The system uses biometric technology to confirm a person's identity and prevent issuance of multiple UMID cards that may be used to defraud SSS of undeserved benefits and services,” SSS said.
UMID applications start with the data capture, or the enrollment of biometric information – such as fingerprints, photo and signature – and encoding of the applicant's name, address, parents' names and other demographic data. To ensure that only one UMID card will be issued to an individual, the member's fingerprints are compared with other fingerprints in the database during the centralized biometric data matching process. This is done overnight, after the applications are received at the branches.
Applications with a fingerprint match are immediately investigated by SSS, while those passing the uniqueness check are assigned a Common Reference Number (CRN), and then sent for card printing and personalization of the contactless smartchip, which takes three working days.
To ensure good quality, each printed card undergoes visual inspection within one to two working days, depending on the volume of cards, and then forwarded for card packaging, a one-day process that also includes the readability check and data verification of the smartchip. Afterwards, the UMID card package is sent to PhilPost for delivery via registered mail as the final step. Mailing takes five to seven working days for addresses in Metro Manila, seven to 10 working days for outside Metro Manila, and 10 to 20 working days for remote areas.
For applicants still waiting for their UMID card after two months, it is likely that their UMID application was rejected due to a previously issued card with the same fingerprint but different SSS number --- which indicates a fraudulent application using multiple identities. 
“Another, and more common, possibility is that their UMID card was declared as RTS (return-to-sender) and sent back to the SSS by PhilPost after three unsuccessful mailing attempts. RTS cards are caused by the change in the member's mailing address or the lack of people to claim the card during the time of delivery,” SSS said.
Members can claim their RTS card at the SSS branch where they had applied for the UMID. To check their UMID card status, members can check the list found in the SSS Website (, email, contact the SSS Call Center (920-6446 to 55), or call the concerned SSS office, using the SSS Branch Directory uploaded at the SSS Website as reference.
Members claiming their UMID cards must present one primary ID or document such as government-issued IDs, birth or baptismal certificate, or company ID. Two secondary IDs and documents, one of which bearing the member's photo, can also be used in claiming the card.
“A representative can also claim the UMID card on behalf of the member by showing a letter of authorization. The letter must be signed by the member and mention the IDs and documents of both the SSS member and representative that will be presented while claiming the UMID card. SSS' identification requirements for the representative are the same as those for members,” SSS said.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

IBP Cebu City & The Palace of Justice

 January 14, 2014.
 President – IBP Cebu City

It will officially be two months since the October 15, 2013 earthquake and it will also be two months that Cebu City is without a Palace of Justice. It will also be two months since the operations and basic delivery of services in the Judiciary has been interrupted, hearing of cases delayed and legal practice among lawyers affected. IBP Cebu City has for the past terms, passed resolutions requesting for the renovation of the Palace of Justice. We have requested for the installation of elevators and ramps for elderly and PWD clients and lawyers as well as the setting up of clinics for emergencies. These were never acted upon by the Supreme Court. Then came the inevitable damage brought about by the earthquake which makes addressing the issue imperative on the part of the Supreme Court. Unfortunately to this day, we do not see any sense of urgency or at least a pinch of empathy to the plight of our respected judges, court personnel, fellow lawyers and litigants in Cebu. Immediately after the earthquake, IBP Cebu Province and IBP Cebu City passed a Joint Resolution after a consultation with the Judges asking the Supreme Court to 1) Identify and determine a suitable and decent relocation site which can properly accommodate the displaced courtrooms and court staff offices; 2) Call and convene a meeting to be attended by the concerned stakeholders with the participation of IBP Cebu and Cebu City Chapters. We did not receive any reply from the Supreme Court on this resolution. Undersigned, as President of IBP Cebu City chapter has sent a letter to Chief Justice Sereno and Court Administrator Marquez, asking them to come to Cebu to dialogue with all the stakeholders and discuss, map out a plan and set a clear direction for the Palace of Justice in Cebu City. We have yet to receive a reply to the said letter. Court Administrator Marquez has issued a Memorandum directing the judges of the Palace of Justice of Cebu City to immediately transfer to Quimonda IT Center in North Reclamation Area, Cebu City. The said memorandum merely ordered for their transfer but never even provided for a logistical plan as to how to go about such transfer. Issues regarding the safety of the building, accessibility and safety of all stakeholders have been brought out but was never addressed if at all these were taken notice of by the Supreme Court. The judges have passed a letter of reconsideration to the Court of Administrator stressing out the said issues and concerns among others. As per verification, our distinguished judges are still waiting for the Supreme Court’s comment and action on their letter. IBP Cebu City has passed a resolution supporting the letter requesting for reconsideration by the judges. We have likewise passed a resolution reiterating the need for the Chief Justice and Court Administrator to come to Cebu and dialogue will all the stakeholders of the Palace of Justice and the need for the Supreme Court to act on this matter immediately. It is due for submission to the Supreme Court within this week. After which, we will again wait for the highest court’s action and whether or not it will once and for all merit its attention. It is the position of the chapter that the Supreme Court should once for all address these issues among others: 1) Given the fact that the Office of the Building Official has issued a certification that the Palace of Justice only needs retrofitting, what is its plan? When will it be implemented?; 2) In the meantime, where will the courts hold office? How will the transfer be implemented and where will the courts get the funding for the transfer and renovation of the office. In order for the Supreme Court to properly decide on the above issues, it is but necessary for them to hold a dialogue with all the stakeholders, take note of their concerns and come to Cebu to personally see the situation of our courts. The situation in the Palace of Justice, the makeshift courts made of tents in a murky parking lot in which our judges, court personnel, lawyers and litigants are forced make do with does not speak so well of our judicial system. Not only does it demean the profession but it has dulled the sparkle of the nobility of the Judiciary. What was once a majestic structure that used to symbolize hope, justice and equity has now become an uncertain and useless edifice. Unless the Supreme Court will take immediate action in addressing the problems of the courts in Cebu City, then this part of the judiciary will continue to violate the basic fundamental freedoms of every litigant thereby defeating the very purpose by which the said office was created. IBP Cebu City strongly subscribes to the principle that Justice delayed is Justice Denied. Cebu will never be privy to such injustice. Unless the Supreme Court will once and for all take notice and action to the final resolution which the chapter will send this week, then perhaps with the support of the general membership it is time to explore other possible options if only to bring our message to our esteemed majesties in Padre Faura. In the meantime, let us remain hopeful. 

Cebu City Tents of Justice

The October 2013 quake practically destroyed the Marcelo Fernan Palace of Justice in Cebu City. From a non-structural engineer's point of view, the building looks relatively okay, save perhaps for the fourth floor which sustained what seems to be massive damage when the corbels and beams broke. Nearly three months have passed and our courts still do not have a decent place to hold hearings.

The Regional Trial Courts as well as the Municipal Trial Courts in Cities are holding office in tents at the back of the Palace of Justice as well as in the Cebu Capitol Building parking lot. We all know that this is but a temporary affair, but for how long? In December 2013, the Supreme Court stated that the occupants of the Palace of Justice are to relocate to the Qimonda IT Center near the port area but sadly, there are no developments as regards the move.

Now that the rainy season has come, holding hearings inside a Tent is becoming more untenable with each passing day and with each drop of rain; not only does it cause more delays (think leaking tent, wet documents, cramped spaces, vehicular noise, humidity, radiant heat, flies, mosquitoes), most of the areas where the tents are situated would be flooded.

I personally don't think that the Courts will be moving to Qimonda IT Center soon. Why? In December 2013, the RTC-OCC announced that they would not be receiving notarial reports since they have no place to stockpile them, then suddenly during the middle part of the month, that order was recalled. Obviously, where will they stash the notarial reports? At the Marcelo Fernan Palace of Justice. I've been inside the RTC-OCC inside the Palace of Justice and it's clear that they are still using the building to stockpile the notarial reports. Using that as a gauge, I cannot possibly see the probability that the courts will be transferring soon. It just does not make any sense if documents are still in the Palace while hearings and other court transactions are being conducted at some other location.

Be that as it may, the court employees have major concerns with the building where the courts would supposedly move in to which have not yet been addressed. Up to now, there are no updates as to when we will finally have decent court rooms. I wonder when, or if ever. So, in the meantime, we shall have to be content with our TENTS of JUSTICE.