Tag Archives: Supreme Court of the United States

[Press Release] Uphold RH law, best gift for Mother’s Day – PM

Uphold RH law, best gift for Mother’s Day – PM

pmLogo1The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) joined RH leaders and advocates from the Purple Ribbon for RH to a rally at the Supreme Court, Padre Faura, Manila. In commemoration of Mothers’ Day on Sunday, May 12, PM and women’s groups called on the SC justices to heed the call of mothers and uphold the RH law (RA 10354).

“Ang pagkaantala ng implementasyon ng RH law ay patuloy na nagiging mitsa ng buhay ng maraming inang Pilipino. Nananawagan ang PM sa ating Supreme Court justices na maging bukas sa matagal nang hinaing ng kababaihan para sa RH, lalung-lalo na ng mga ina. Upholding the RH law is the best gift our SC justices could give to millions of Filipino mothers this Mothers’ Day,” asserted PM Secretary-General Judy Ann Miranda.

Eleven (11) deaths of women daily attributed to pregnancy and childbirth complications have increased over the past decade. The passage of the RH law, if immediately implemented, would have stepped up the efforts to address the problem. The status quo ante issued by the Supreme Court has stalled said process.

PM reiterated that the lives of women should be the utmost concern in the decision of the Supreme Court on the RH law rather than the Catholic Church’s disagreement that is not based on the real needs of women, especially poor and working women.

PRESS RELEASE
Partido ng Manggagawa
7 May 2013

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[In the news] Gay marriage equality logo spreads on social media -philstar.com

Gay marriage equality logo spreads on social media
philstar.com
March 28, 2013

philstar-logo-white1NEW YORK (AP) — Companies and celebrities from Beyonce to George Takei have joined millions of social media users in posting and tweaking a simple red logo in support of gay marriage in the United States.

A square box with thick pink horizontal lines, the mathematical symbol for equal, was offered for sharing this week by the Human Rights Campaign as the U.S. Supreme Court took up arguments in key gay rights cases.

The image is a makeover of the advocacy group’s logo, usually a blue background with bright yellow lines. The HRC made it available in red — for the color of love — on Monday and estimated tens of millions of shares by Wednesday.

Read full article @www.philstar.com

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[In the news] Amended petition vs. cybercrime law contests cybersex, regular libel -GMA News

Amended petition vs. cybercrime law contests cybersex, regular libel
Mark MERUEÑAS, GMA News
February 4, 2013

gmanewsonlineA group of petitioners against the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 has amended their complaint, asking the Supreme Court to also declare as illegal the regular libel — as opposed to only e-libel — as penalized under the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

The petitioners also included Section 4(c)(1) on cybersex and Section 4(c)(2) on child pornography of the cybercrime law, or Republic Act 10175, as among the portions they are contesting.

In its original petition filed last September, the petitioners questioned the “electronic libel” or e-libel provision of the law, saying it was in violation of the constitutional right to free expression.

Read full article @www.gmanetwork.com

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[From the web] Supreme Court discourse on Cybercrime Law -www.cmfr-phil.org

Supreme Court discourse on Cybercrime Law
By Melinda Quintos De Jesus, http://www.cmfr-phil.org
January 17, 2013

CMFRI THINK the online community in the Philippines should take some time to listen in on the presentation of the oral arguments in the Supreme Court against the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. It is not easy listening. Not all of it is riveting or compelling. But the opportunity to listen in on an exchange about freedom of expression at this level should not be wasted. Not if you, like we do, believe in freedom of expression.

Indeed, the discussion in itself is rare. Except for the small community of press freedom and human rights advocates, who, sometimes but not too often, connect with those involved with artistic and academic freedom, freedom of speech in this very talkative society has been viewed more as a sectoral theme. It is an issue that concerns people who work in special fields, art, news and communication, as though freedom of speech, a fundamental aspect of our being human, is seen as a special capability and an extraordinary entitlement. Few Filipinos think about their freedom of speech. Perhaps, because it is something they take for granted.

There is all the more reason then to be in touch with what’s being said in the High Court.

Read full article@www.cmfr-phil.org

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[People] Top ten issues for human rights in 2012 by Harry Roque

Top ten issues for human rights in 2012
Harry Roque’s blog
Thoughts of an activist lawyer

Atty. Harry Roque Photo: http://humanrightshouse.org

Atty. Harry Roque Photo: http://humanrightshouse.org

Here’s my choice for the top ten most important developments for Human Rights in the Philippines for 2012:
1. Passage of the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law. Unfortunately, the passage of this law was overshadowed by the passage of the Reproductive Health Law. I say unfortunate because unlike the RH Law which in jurisprudence says is a penumbra of the due process clause, the crime of “desperacidos”, which unlike violations of international humanitarian law is not considered a crime under customary public international law.

This means that a domestic law is actually required to make enforced disappearances criminal. Now that we have this law, victims of desperacidos can actually file criminal charges for enforced disappearances without relying on kidnapping, if their loved ones survive; or murder, if their loved ones are found dead.

2. Passage of the Reproductive Health Law. The passage of this law has made jurisprudence on the right to privacy unnecessary. Prior to passage of the law, women’s rights advocates relied on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in arguing that failure of the state to provide family planning implements to those who cannot afford them is a form of discrimination.

They also relied on the US Supreme Court decision that states that the right to limit one’s family size is covered by the right to privacy and is a “penumbra” of the due process clause. With this domestic law in place, it has now become the business of government to ensure that its citizens can freely choose the size of their families.

Read full article @harryroque.com

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[In the news] SC stops cybercrime law, issues TRO -RAPPLER.com

SC stops cybercrime law, issues TRO.

BY PURPLE ROMERO
October 9, 2012

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The Supreme Court on Tuesday, October 9, stopped the implementation of the controversial cybercrime law, insiders said.

In a unanimous verdict, the High Tribunal issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, the same insiders added.

The Court also asked the respondent government officials as well as the Solicitor General to respond in 10 days. The respondents include Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, among others.

The TRO will last 120 days. Thus the oral arguments on the case will be held on Jan 15, 2013.

Read full article @ www.rappler.com

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[Press Release] Black Tuesday 2.0: Occupying Padre Faura for Internet Freedom, Campaign Goes International -PIFA.ph

Black Tuesday 2.0: Occupying Padre Faura for Internet Freedom, Campaign Goes International

PIFA October 9 Black Tuesday 2 at SC. Photo by PAHRA

The Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA), made up of different organizations, netizens, and bloggers, occupied Padre Faura for the second time on Tuesday to uphold freedom of expression and pressure the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order on the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

The group posed as criminal mugshots, holding letter boards which said, “RA 10175, nag-like sa Facebook,” “RA 10175, nag-retweet sa Twitter,” and other similar messages. Other members simply carried plain black placards and taped their mouths with black electrical tapes.

“If the government does nothing wrong then it has nothing to fear from freedom of speech,” Kenneth Keng, PIFA Spokesperson, said.

PIFA also submitted a petition for TRO yesterday, October 8. The grounds for the petition included: the law as a violation of the right to privacy, as a violation to equal protection, and as a violation to free speech. Individuals and organizations part of PIFA were the signatories of the said petition.

An online black-out also continues as support of the protest. Access, a global movement for digital freedom, has supported the cause and helped PIFA’s campaign go on an International level. “With broad and unjust cybercrime laws being enacted around the world, we need to fight them one by one. That’s why it’s critical that the international community stands together on Black Tuesday,” Access said on their website petition to Stop Cyber Martial Law. They have also blackened out their site.

“The threat to Internet freedom is not just an issue of the Philippines. There have been many threats to it worldwide, such as the SOPA and PIPA. What is important is that we stand up for our rights. If the world condemned SOPA and PIPA, the world will rally behind us in this fight against Cyber Martial Law,” Ayeen Karunungan, also a spokesperson of PIFA, said.

PIFA is a broad alliance of organizations and individuals who stand together to protect our basic rights to liberty and dignity – including the right to privacy, and freedom of expression, speech, sexuality, and mobility – on the Internet and who opposes RA 10175 which contains provisions that are oppressive, susceptible to abuse, and against the fundamental liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. It is an open alliance and anyone who share the same advocacy may join.

For more info, contact Kenneth Keng at 09157900018 or Ayeen Karunungan at 09175057055

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[From the web] Young people urged to defend internet freedom -Akbayan youth

Young people urged to defend internet freedom.

Members of Akbayan Youth today hanged a banner on Welcome Rotonda expressing its opposition to the Cybercrime Prevention Act or Republic Act 10175. Akbayan Youth National Spokesperson JC Tejano today called on the youth to defend internet freedom as a necessary space for a growing democracy.

“With the law now taking effect and the Supreme Court yet to come out with a decision on the petitions questioning its validity, the youth must now take up the cudgels in the defense of internet freedom. The internet is the space where the youth interact, take a stand, and air their criticisms against public officials. However, this space is now getting constricted with the cybercrime law,” Tejano said.

Tejano explained that the law will only be used by politicians to silence their critics.

“We believe that the exercise of freedom of expression, including the right to criticize public figures online, are vital cogs in our democracy. It should not be hampered by the whims of politicians even in cyberspace. We fear that this cybercrime law will serve as the politicians’ fire-wall against public dissent and criticism,” Tejano said.

Read full article @ akbayanyouth.org

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[Event/Campaign] BLACK TUESDAY 2.0 – PIFA & Netizens March to the Supreme Court to Protest Cybercrime Law

BLACK TUESDAY 2.0 – PIFA & Netizens March to the Supreme Court to Protest Cybercrime Law

Last Tuesday, the nation and the rest of the world heard our deafening silence as we defended democracy and protested against Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

This coming Tuesday, October 9, join us again as we march to the Supreme Court and urge our justices to heed the the voice of the people and declare the Cybercrime Law unconstitutional.

We will assemble at 8:30 a.m. in front of Robinsons Manila, Padre Faura entrance. (Google Map: http://goo.gl/maps/XJG8h )

Look for the group with the tarp that reads Stop Cyber Martial Law. In case we have left Padre Faura by the time you arrive, Supreme Court is only 50 meters or so down the street so you can meet us there.

If you can, please wear black.

We also call on the rest of our countrymen who cannot join us to show your solidarity by participating in the ONLINE BLACKOUT. Let your websites, social media accounts, profile photos, covers, etc. reflect the theme of our movement. You may use the hashtag #BlackTuesday

Netizens, let us all unite for Internet Freedom! STOP CYBER MARTIAL LAW!

(Please invite and share, folks!)
ABOUT Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA):

Unity Statement: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?fromEmail=true&formkey=dHVSXzRSb3lGQ0h5b1dUWjgwajNmQVE6MQ
Website: http://pifa.ph/
Facebook Group: http://facebook.com/groups/pifa.ph
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/PIFA.ph
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PIFAph (hashtag #pifaPH)

[In the news] Petitions vs cybercrime law continue to flood SC -PhilStar.com

Petitions vs cybercrime law continue to flood SC
By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star
September 29, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – Protests against RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act continues to mount at the Supreme Court (SC) after a fifth group yesterday filed another petition seeking to stop implementation of questioned provisions in the new law.

A group of journalists, bloggers and lawyers led by UP law professor Harry Roque Jr. argued that five provisions of the law violate not only constitutional rights of citizens in cyberspace but also run counter to the contractual obligation of the government to the United Nations.

They slammed the government for criminalizing libel on the Internet when the United Nations had already pointed out that libel under the Revised Penal Code was “incompatible” with the Filipino’s freedom of expression.

Petitioners cited the findings of UN Human Rights Committee on the case of radio broadcaster Alexander Adonis, who sought relief from the UN after having been found guilty on the libel charge slapped by former House speaker Prospero Nograles and imprisoned for two years.

Read full article @ www.philstar.com

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[In the news] Business files petition before Supreme Court questioning anti-cybercrime law | Sun.Star

Business files petition before Supreme Court questioning anti-cybercrime law | Sun.Star.

September 25, 2012

MANILA – A businessman has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to stop government agencies from carrying out some provisions of the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act, which critics fear may infringe freedom of expression because of its provision on online libel.

Louis “Barok” Biraogo, in his 28-page petition, said Section 4 (c) [4] of the law punishes libelous items posted on the Internet and “any other similar means, which may be devised in the future.”

He said the provision was crafted by legislators with grave abuse since this is opposed to “Sections 3 (1) (on inviolability of privacy of communication) and 4 (on freedom of speech, of expression, of the press, and peaceful assembly), Article III (Bill of Rights) of the 1987 Constitution.”

Read full article @ www.sunstar.com.ph

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Statement] Collective Statement for Integrity, Truth and Public Trust

Collective Statement for Integrity, Truth and Public Trust

A Joint Statement Delivered by Various Concerned Groups
at the Misa Para sa Katotohanan
Co-Organized by Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan
March 11, 2012  11:00AM
San Jose Seminary, Ateneo de Manila University

* * *

INTEGRITY, TRUTH AND PUBLIC TRUST

A day before the resumption of the impeachment trial against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, we gather as Filipinos to individually and collectively reflect on the fundamental issues brought before the Honorable Senator Justices of the impeachment court and the public.  As religious leaders, professionals, students, business, civil society organizations, social movements and concerned citizens, we have given our collective backing to the impeachment process, recognizing impeachment as a legitimate means to exact accountability from, ensure transparency of our leaders in a democracy, and to provide Chief Justice Corona the opportunity to explain himself in the proper forum.

We thank the Senator Justices of the impeachment court for recognizing that they must conduct the trial akin to a legal process, while remaining sensitive to the real political dynamics that the trial entails. We laud decisions made in favor of surfacing the truth and seeking accountability.  We have listened over the past weeks, endeavoring to go beyond the legal technicalities, in our effort to understand the fundamental issues brought before the impeachment court and the public, and we will continue to accompany this important juncture in the trial, to its conclusion, holding the sacred and universal truth that sovereignty resides in the people and that all government authority emanates from the people.

We come here today, united in our call to religious leaders, the Honorable Senator Judges, the Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court, and to our colleagues, families and friends to vigilantly maintain our collective focus on the following fundamental issues:

CHARACTER AND MORAL INTEGRITY

The articles of impeachment are very serious. They go straight to the heart of the matter—the moral fitness of Chief Justice Corona to serve as the highest judicial official of the country. We must ask if Chief Justice Corona has shown his conduct to be beyond reproach, as is expected of every Judge especially the Chief Justice of the land. We must reflect on whether the character and integrity of Chief Justice Corona represents our highest standards of integrity and moral uprightness as a nation.  We must ask ourselves how we can return  and reaffirm our collective faith in the dignity and integrity of the Judiciary, by the decision we will make as a people, represented by our Senators, in this crucial juncture of our history.

TRUTH AND ACCOUNTABILITY
 
We believe it is only by truth-telling that the Chief Justice can prove that he is acting with public responsibility.  Reforming the judiciary can only begin when the cloak of secrecy and deep suspicion that surrounds the institution is removed.    More than ever, Chief Justice Corona must reveal the truth. Legal technicalities that of late have become the hallmark of the Corona defense panel must give way to the search for truth and justice. We ask no less.

We need to find the truth and seek accountability for the non-disclosure of properties in Chief Justice Corona’s SALN and ask the Supreme Court to allow the opening of his foreign currency deposits.  As Chief Justice Corona lays his defense, we must carefully and vigilantly search for the truth and determine if he has acted with public responsibility – and seek accountability for any untruth unworthy of the position and responsibility we have given him as Chief Justice.

PUBLIC TRUST AND EMPOWERMENT

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is a public office and a public trust.  Chief Justice Corona was impeached by duly elected representatives of the people.  We must discern in the coming weeks, as individuals and as a nation if, as Chief Justice, Corona has valued and empowered this public trust or if he has used it to disempower the very  institution and public he serves. We must seriously reflect and decide if Chief Justice Renato Corona still enjoys the trust and confidence of the public to decide with finality on cases that affect laws, property and lives of Filipinos and our nation.

WE CALL on everyone to listen to various voices and opinions, reflect on these three fundamental issues and share their stands regarding the impeachment in the coming days and weeks.

WE CALL on all religious leaders (Pastors, Imams, Religious Sisters and Brothers, Clergy and the Bishops) and people of moral authority (elders of communities, teachers and parents) to engage the members of your communities and families into respectful discourse on the issues at hand. Allow and encourage them to speak their mind, to ask questions, to share their sentiments, while also being respectful and listening to the views of others. In doing so, remind them of what is important for you and what is important for us as a people. Remind them of the meaning of justice, truth, respect, freedom, human dignity and integrity.

WE CALL on our Honorable Senator Justices to continue to conduct the impeachment trial in a fair and just manner, to seek the truth and address these fundamental issues, to do so in a manner that empowers Filipinos to understand and participate in this process and to bring the trial to its conclusion with the welfare of the Filipino people in mind.

WE CALL on our Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court to take on a more cooperative stance in engaging the impeachment trial court. We recognize and respect that the Supreme Court is a co-equal branch of the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines. We believe that being equal does not preclude, but should inspire a spirit of cooperation. This spirit of cooperation was promised by no less than the Chief Justice at the beginning of the impeachment process. We respectfully plead that the Supreme Court re-assess its stance on the matter of the confidentiality of the dollar accounts of the Chief Justice and on the restriction for any and all court personnel to participate in the trial as witnesses.

FINALLY, WE CALL on Chief Justice Renato Corona to take voluntary leave of office from his functions as the Chief Justice, until such time that the trial is completed and a decision is rendered by the impeachment court. We believe that his continued presence in, and influence upon the court which makes various decisions in relation to his own trial, will result in a process that cannot be deemed as fair nor credible.

WE PRAY that through our collective efforts, animated by our faith and trust in God, we can continue to build a nation empowered by truth, guided by integrity and served by a transparent and accountable government.

Signatories (as of March 11, 2012):

1.    SIMBAHANG LINGKOD NG BAYAN (SLB)
2.    Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute
3.    Sr. Josephine Bacaltos, RGS, Executive Director, Women Network Group (WOMYNET)
4.    Norman V. Cabrera, Secretary-General, Ang Kapatiran Party
5.    Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J., President, Ateneo de Davao University
6.    Fr. Antonio F. Moreno, S.J., President, Ateneo de Zamboanga University
7.    Atty. Adoracion Cruz Avisado, Chairperson, Transformative Justice Institute
8.    Muslim Alliance for National Advancement (MANA)
9.    Lawyers League for Liberty (LIBERTAS)
10. Atty. Arnold C. Abejaron, President, Men Opposed to Violence Everywhere (MOVE) – Davao City
11. Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO)
12. Akbayan Party
13. Akbayan Youth
14. Aksyon Kabataan
15. Alliance of Progressive Labor
16. BAMPER
17. Bicol University Student Council
18. Filipino Liberal Youth
19. KAAKBAY
20. Kabataang Liberal
21. Mamamayang Liberal
22. Palawan Youth Volunteers for Reform
23. People Power Volunteers for Reform Chapters:
Cebu PPVR
Marikina People Power Volunteers
Pagbabago People Power Volunteers Cavite
PNoyPinay Manila
PPVR Angeles City
PPVR Bataan
PPVR Bicol
PPVR Laguna
PPVR Pasig
PPVR Rizal
PPVR San Juan
PPVR Bataan
PPVR Davao
PPVR Navotas
PPVR Negros Occidental
PPVR Negros Oriental
PPVR Zambales
PPVR Palawan
PPVR Caraga
PPVR Region XI
PPVR Region XII
People Power Volunteer Center Zamboanga
Pinoy Power Bicol Coalition, Inc.
SKAN-CPM-PPVR
Zamboanga del Norte Volunteers for Change

24. Philippine Normal University Student Government (PNU-SG)
25. Pinoy Power sa Pagbabago
26. PNoyPinay
27. Polytechnic University of the Philippines – College of Communications Student Council (PUP COC-SC)
28. REPORMAR
29. Senior Citizens Movement for Social Transformation – Quezon City
30. Simulan Natin Gumawa (SINAG)
31. SOLIDAR
32. Sparks for Change
33. Tarlac State University Central Student Council
34. University of the Philippines College of Social Science and Philosophy Student Council (UP CSSPSC)
35.Young Public Servants (YPS)

[In the news] Soldiers to remain in Hacienda Luisita despite opposition from farmers -GMA News

Soldiers to remain in Hacienda Luisita despite opposition from farmers
March 11, 2012

There will be no pullout of military forces in the disputed Hacienda Luisita estate in Tarlac province despite the demand of farmer groups in the area for the soldiers to leave.

“As of now, we do not have any plan to pull out from the Hacienda because the barangay officials themselves are requesting… they support our presence,” said Maj. Enrico Gil Ileto, spokesman of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division.

The 4,915-hectare sugar plantation owned by relatives of President Benigno Aquino III has been the subject of a legal tug-of-war between its owners and farmer-beneficiaries of the government’s agrarian reform program.

Farmers who want soldiers out of the area are members of the Anyansa ng Manggagawan Bukid sa Asyenda Lusita, the Luisita Unyon ng mga Manggagawa, and the Luisita Peasants and People’s Alliance.

The groups claimed that the soldiers have no business staying inside Hacienta Luisita because it is the subject of an agrarian issue. They also said they are threatened by the military’s presence.

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

[In the news] Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan seeks transfer of Temogen Tulawie’s case | Sun.Star

Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan seeks transfer of Temogen Tulawie’s case | Sun.Star.

By Arianne Caryl N. Casas
February 9, 2012

DAVAO CITYSulu Governor Abdusakur Tan filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) requesting the transfer of the case filed against human rights advocate Temogen Tulawie from Regional Trial Court (RTC) in this city to any RTC in Metro Manila.

Tan asked the SC to bring the legal war to a neutral ground in Metro Manila, where neither of the parties has a clear advantage and the parties are free from any threat and influence during the trial.

Executive Judge Pelagio Paguican of RTC branch 12 said Thursday that he received the copy of the petition, which also seeks for temporary restraining order (TRO) and writ of preliminary prohibitory mandatory injunction, at 11:30 a.m. on February 3.

Read full article @ www.sunstar.com.ph

[In the news] Farmers oppose Hacienda Luisita suit to stop SC ruling favoring them – InterAksyon.com

Farmers oppose Hacienda Luisita suit to stop SC ruling favoring them
by Edison Reyes, News5
January 31, 2012

 MANILA, Philippines – Farmer groups mounted a protest outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday as they filed a motion to clarify the SC’s November 22, 2011 resolution on the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita.

Earlier, they took their breakfast outside the court, sharing a meal of dried fish and eggs, in a bid to dramatize their miserable state.

In a 29-page petition, the farmers asked the SC to issue a final decision on the Hacienda Luisita case. The justices, the farmers said, should not in any way be swayed by alleged delaying tactics from the camp of the hacienda owners, the Cojuangco-Aquino family of the President.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

[In the news] SPEEDY TRIALS, Cebu is pilot area for new court rules – Cebu Daily News

SPEEDY TRIALS, Cebu is pilot area for new court rules.

Cebu Daily News

January 27, 2012

 Cebu will be a pilot area for new court rules that aim to reduce lengthy trials to as short as two days, instead of three to five years or longer.

Associate Justice Roberto Abad of the Supreme Court was in Cebu City yesterday to discuss the proposed changes with judges and lawyers.

The Supreme Court (SC) recently released its New Rules of Procedure for Civil and Criminal Cases, which aim to speed up cases and decongest court dockets although no implementation date was announced yet.

Cebu will be one of several pilot areas designated before the end of the year.

Among the proposed changes:

* Witnesses can use local languages and dialects.

* Courts have to hear a case in one sitting except in some complex cases.

* Free-flowing testimonies of witnesses will have no interruptions from lawyers.

* Proceedings will use electronic recording of the proceedings.

* The verdict will be verbally announced right after the trial.

* Court schedules will start on time. Latecomers will be fined P1,000 to P5,000.

“Our system for hearing and deciding cases is no longer working for us. Can we still fix it? Let us not say, ‘Walang mangyayari sa iniisip nating pagbabago (Nothing will happen with our plans for change).’ Let us rather say, ‘Mangyayari kung gugustuhin natin. (Change will happen if we want it to),’” Abad told 25 participants in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) conference room.

He said the causes of delay are many.

Our courts remain few. Many lawyers seek postponements. There are often indiscriminate objections to questions. The judge is excessively lenient. More cases are filed each year than our courts are able to dispose of,” Abad explained.

“Forty percent of persons accused of crimes walk away free because complainants and witnesses stop coming after too many postponements,” he added.

This early, some Cebu lawyers expressed reservations that some of the changes were impractical.

Abad, however, said the new procedures are not radical changes and have, in fact, been practiced by other countries for a long time.

In its order, the High Court said dockets of trial courts remain heavily congested especially in big cities and that cases are postponed because judges are unable to hear 30 to 60 cases a day in their court calendars.

“These delays cause parties to simply give up and forego their remedies,” the SC said.

Some of the changes the SC wants to implement will shorten the trial procedure.

Witnesses who testify can narrate their claims in a free-flowing fashion without being interrupted by lawyers’ objections.

Trial is no longer treated as afield of contest,” the associate justice said.

Schedules will be followed promptly.

“The court shall proceed to hear the case promptly at the designated time and shall not wait for the parties, counsels, or witnesses who are late,” the rule states.

Those who come late have to pay a fine of P1,000 to P5,000. If the lawyer is tardy, the fine should be paid from his own pocket and not charged to his client or else the lawyer faces disbarment.

Court stenographers will still take take detailed notes of the proceedings but the notes shall be “secondary” to the electronic recording.

The SC also wants to allow witnesses, including the questions asked of them, to be in the vernacular or any local dialect.

At present, the courts use the English language in the proceedings and other languages and dialects have to be translated.

Under the revised rules, the testimonies “shall be preserved and used in their original version” and not rely on the English translation.

Courts are mandated to hear a case in one sitting except in some complex cases.

The verdict will be announced face-to-face with the parties present right after trial, and the judge’s written decision has to be handed down within 15 days.

Read full article @ cebudailynews.wordpress.com

[In the news] Supreme Court affirms ruling on coco levy: SMC’s 24% goes to government- INQUIRER.net

Supreme Court affirms ruling on coco levy: SMC’s 24% goes to government
By Jerome Aning, Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 25, 2012

  The Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed a 2004 ruling of the Sandiganbayan antigraft court that awarded a 24-percent block of shares in San Miguel Corp. registered in the name of the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF) and its holding companies, to the government, which holds it in trust for the country’s coconut farmers.

The public information office of the Supreme Court has yet to release a hard copy of the decision, penned by Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr., as of press time.
However, reliable sources in the high tribunal said the voting went 11 to nil, with Justices Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo de Castro and Diosdado Peralta inhibiting and Justice Arturo Brion on official leave.

Carpio was one of the petitioners in the case to declare the coconut levy funds as public funds. De Castro and Peralta were members of the Sandiganbayan division that decided the case.

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[In the news] Luisita farmers bracing for arrest – INQUIRER.net

Luisita farmers bracing for arrest
Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 20, 2012

 TARLAC CITY—Farmers who occupied land inside Hacienda Luisita that is now owned by a bank are bracing for arrest as they refuse to leave the property and expressed defiance by serving their version of an eviction notice against the bank and the Cojuangcos, relatives of President Benigno Aquino who owned the 6,000-hectare sugar estate.

Insisting that the land belonged to them and not to the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) that came to own it, farmers here installed a tarpaulin poster on the 184-hectare piece of property asking RCBC and the Cojuangcos to leave.

The farmers made the symbolic gesture after the Tarlac prosecutor’s office issued a resolution saying there was basis to charge the farmers with grave coercion and illegal occupation of property. The resolution came from the office of Liza Olinares, assistant Tarlac prosecutor.

RCBC, which bought the land from the firm that manages the hacienda, sued the farmers last year.

The Supreme Court, in a decision that ordered the distribution of land in the hacienda in compliance with the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, removed the property from agrarian reform coverage and declared RCBC as a buyer in good faith.

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[From the web] Rekindling hope for rural reform in the Philippines – www.icco.nl

Rekindling hope for rural reform in the Philippines

Source: http://www.icco.nl

18 January 2012

  The recent 14-0 decision of the Supreme Court on November 22, 20110 that favoured the redistribution of Hacienda Luisita, came as a breath of fresh air that have inspired rural reform advocates in the Philippines. The decision capped decades of difficult, and often times bloody, struggle of farm workers to own the lands they till. As a result, hope for reform has been rekindled and demands for the land redistribution of the remaining 1.4 million hectares targeted under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) have been raised.

A colonial vestige of the Spanish hacienda system, Hacienda Luisita is a national symbol of feudal domination in a country teeming with poverty. It is thus an important arena of struggle for redistributive agrarian reform in the country. The owning family of former President Cory Aquino and now current president Noynoy Aquino acquired the big sugar estate in 1957 from its original Spanish owners through loans with condition that the land will be redistributed to the farmers ten years after the acquisition. The Cojuangcos, however, successfully evaded land redistribution. The controversial stock distribution option recently revoked by the Supreme Court was the latest scheme of the Cojuangco family to evade land redistribution which merely gave corporate stocks certificate as a form of compliance to agrarian reform. It has thus symbolized the “sacred cows” in the country – untouchable lands owned by the most powerful and influential families – through time.

The redistribution of the 4,915-hectare hacienda to its more than 6,000 farm workers has thus become a real opportunity with the recent decision of the SC. Luisita’s long standing symbol as a feudal enclave is turning around as a symbol of pro-poor social change.

Read full article @ www.icco.nl

[In the news] Supreme Court orders farmer-tenants to reply to Luisita appeal – INQUIRER.net

Supreme Court orders farmer-tenants to reply to Luisita appeal
By Jerome Aning, Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 19, 2012

  The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the government and farmer-tenants of Hacienda Luisita to answer an appeal for reconsideration of its November 2011 decision ordering the distribution of the 4,915.75-hectare sugar plantation in Tarlac owned by the family of President Benigno Aquino III.

In an order released Wednesday, the Court gave the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), Department of Agrarian Reform and the groups Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Hacienda Luisita and Farmworkers Agrarian Reform Movement to submit their comment on the motion for reconsideration filed by Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) last month.

The Luisita case was one of the issues tackled by the justices who resumed their session the other day after their holiday recess. The Court’s November decision recalled and set aside the stock distribution option offered by HLI to the farmer-worker beneficiaries.

The justices unanimously agreed that the contested land should be distributed by HLI to the original 6,296 farmer-beneficiaries pursuant to an order of the PARC in December 2005. The Court also directed the HLI to pay the original farmer-worker beneficiaries their share of over P1.33 billion the corporation earned from selling a 500-hectare portion of the land estate.

The HLI, in its appeal, sought clarification on the amount to be paid to the farmers and likewise and also asked the high tribunal to bring back to the original beneficiaries the individual option to choose whether or not they still want to remain stockholders of HLI and lift the 10-year prohibition on the sale of the awarded lands.

Through lawyer Maria Estela Ares, HLI—dominated by the Cojuangco clan, the maternal relatives of President Aquino—asked for a new determination of the reckoning period from which the computation of compensation will be based.

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