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MFBR lawyers and associates care!

In light of the constantly changing social and economic landscape in the world due to COVID-19, everyone at Mallari Fiel Brillante Ronquillo has taken steps to make good our steadfast commitment to serve our clients and our communities.

To this end, we designed a new business model incorporating the traditional “brick and mortar” and “virtual” law offices. This new model is to achieve the continuity of rendering our legal and business consultancy services to clients and friends, and the immediate implementation of our crisis management and business transformation activities.

Thus, we’re glad to announce that for every fortnight, half of our team will be physically present at our offices from Monday thru Friday, 8:00am to 3:00pm. Clients and our friends can reach us through our office phones and online platforms (website, emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, Zoom, etc.). And to ensure the health and safety of our staff, they have the option to be housed in the Firm’s private residence or shuttled back and forth using the company’s private vehicle. Safety protocols are also observed at our offices.

Finally, our team has prepared a series of materials around the impact of COVID-19 and related considerations. Please take time to view our sample articles and research published in our website. A complete listing and discussion of these articles are available in our newsletter to be distributed to our esteemed clients.

Should you have questions, please reach out to our Office Manager, Argie Macawile, at +632 86953395, +63977 8502357; or email our Managing Partner, Atty. Rob Mallari, at mfl@mflegal.com.ph and rpmallari@mflegal.com.ph.

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Archive for May, 2020

No More Extension of Income Tax Payment on June 14, 2020

The original deadline for income tax payments was pushed back thrice already, first to May 15, 2020 then to May 29, 2020 and finally to June 14, 2020.

According to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) this June 14, 2020 deadline will no longer be extended even if the community quarantine will be prolonged.

Thus, on 21 May 2020, the BIR issued Revenue Regulation No. 12-2020 (RR No. 12-2020) which, among others, repealed Section 3 of RR No. 11-2020. Under this latest regulation, the tax agency voided a provision on its earlier issuance which stipulated that so long as the community quarantines are extended, tax payment cut-offs would be deferred. As it now stands, the defined extended due dates under RR No. 11-2020 shall remain in effect regardless of any extension or modification of quarantine.

Since the provided due date for income tax payment is June 14, 2020 which falls on a weekend, the same shall be moved to June 15, 2020, Monday, being the next working day.

For reference, listed below are the respective due dates of some other taxes:

Under the latest regulation, taxpayers are again reminded to pay the respective returns on or before the deadlines. The Taxpayers are likewise reminded that if they file their tax returns within the original deadline or prior to the extended deadline, they can amend their tax returns at any time on or before the extended due date. An amendment that will result in additional tax to be paid can still be paid without the imposition of corresponding penalties (surcharge, interest and compromise penalties) if the same shall be done not later than the extended deadlines as provided under existing rules and regulations.

A Taxpayer whose amended returns will result in overpayment of taxes paid, can opt to carry over the overpaid tax as credit against the tax due for the same tax type in the succeeding periods/ tax returns, aside from filing for claim for refund.

For queries, updates and other legal concerns, you may contact us from Mondays to Fridays, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, through the following:

Email: mfl@mflegal.com.ph;

Website: http://mfbr.com.ph;

Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/MFLBR2009/


ADVISORY: IPOPHL SERVICES IN VIEW OF THE DECLARATION OF A MODIFIED ENHANCED COMMUNITY QUARANTINE OVER THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION

The Philippine Intellectual Property Office released the following circulars:

  • Memorandum Circular No. 2020-013 dated 15 May 2020, regarding the IPOPHL guidelines on the work-from- home arrangement or such other alternative work arrangements during the MECQ;
  • Memorandum Circular No. 2020-013A dated 16 May 2020, regarding the amendments to the extension of deadlines and payments as provided in Item 5 of IPOPHL Memorandum Circular No. 2020-13; and
  • Memorandum Circular No. 2020-013B dated 20 May 2020, regarding the amendments to Items 1, 3, 4, 8, 11, and 13 of IPOPHL Memorandum Circular No. 2020-13, in view of the Presidential Proclamation No. 944 dated 19 May 2020 declaring Monday, 25 May 2020, as a regular holiday throughout the country in observance of Eid’l Fitr (Feast of Ramadhan).

Please note the important details of the office guidelines, particularly the use of the online filing system, the resumption of the cashiering and documentary receiving operations, the extension of the period for submission of all papers, pleadings, documents, alphabetical schedule for 28 May 2020 to 02 June 2020, and suspension of hearings until 25 May 2020, among others.

The pertinent portions of the above-mentioned circulars are quoted below, to wit:

  1. “IPOPHL shall resume limited regular operations at its main office commencing on 26 May 2020.”
  2. “New and renewal applications for trademarks shall only be filed online through the IPOPHL electronic filing system. Documents related to registered marks as well as pending trademark applications emanating from applicants, registrants, their agents and successors-in-interests, shall be transmitted only through eDocfile.”
  3. “New applications for patent, utility model, industrial design emanating from or transmitted within the National Capital Region shall be filed online through the IPOPHL electronic filing system except voluminous invention applications. Voluminous applications are those which exceed 250 pages, which may be filed manually or via mail or courier.”
  4. “Scanned copies of required original documents shall be submitted through the online filing system in lieu of the originals. Parties, however, may be required to submit the original document if questions arise regarding the authenticity or due execution of the scanned copy.”
  5. “Cashiering operations at the IPOPHL Main Office shall resume on 28 May 2020. It shall be open 8AM-5PM, with cut- off at 4PM, from Mondays to Fridays. The cashier shall accept only payments that cannot be made through IPOPHL’s online payment system, including but not limited to Patent applications and Copyright registrations, replies, services and other requests. Payment can also be done through postal money order.”
  6. “The operations of IPOPHL’s documentary receiving sections shall resume on 28 May 2020. Documents shall be received from 8AM to 5PM, with cut-off at 4PM, from Mondays to Fridays.”
  7. The deadlines for submission of papers/replies/documents including payment of fees shall be as follows:
    “a. Deadlines falling from 16 March 2020 to 31 March 2020 initially extended until 31 May 2020, are further extended until 30 June 2020;
    “b. Deadlines falling from 01 April 2020 to 30 April 2020, initially extended for sixty (60) days, are further extended until 30 June 2020.
    “c. Deadlines falling from 01 May 2020 to 30 June 2020 will be extended until 30 July 2020.

    “Payment of filing fees including claim of convention priority fee of new applications for patents, utility models, industrial designs and trademarks with or without claim of convention priority date filed through the IPOPHL electronic filing systems during the abovementioned periods shall likewise be due on the extended deadlines aforementioned.”

    “The date when the application was filed online shall be deemed the filing date.”
  8. Transactions for 28 May 2020 to 02 June 2020 shall be accepted only in accordance with the following alphabetical schedule:
DateFirst Letter
28 May 2020A-C
29 May 2020D-H
01 June 2020I-O
02 JUNE 2020P-Z
“*If payor/filer is transacting for a law firm or company, first letter of the name of the law firm or company. If representing themselves or natural persons, first letter of payor’s/filer’s last name.”

9. “Scheduled hearings before the IPOPHL shall remain suspended until 25 May 2020. These include mediation hearings unless the parties request for online hearing or conference. Hearings scheduled 26 May 2020 onwards, including online mediation, shall proceed unless otherwise advised. Parties are strongly encouraged to comply with national guidelines on social distancing, the wearing of masks and other personal protective equipment.”

10. “Access to IPOPHL mailboxes shall be allowed starting 26 May 2020.”

You may access the above-mentioned circulars via the IPOPHL website:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/133rYedRGGq5uLTEq9QjgLubqg70oGwsr/view

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bI-D9j0U0goUrkf1IpxysjLK4eyLssUz/view

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wO25jWOuDjX9e-GPxMjmMkqFdeMi1gah/view

Did you know that protecting your intellectual property could increase the value of your business? If you would like to discuss how you might proceed with registering your trademark, copyright, patent, and other intellectual property, you may schedule an appointment with @The Law Firm of Mallari Fiel Brillante Ronquillo thru mfl@mflegal.com.ph.

Thank you.


How to Protect Your Personal Data in a Work-from-Home Arrangement

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the way on how people conduct their duties and responsibilities in their respective careers and professions. In line with the government’s measures in curbing the spread of the virus, the Department of Labor and Employment (“DOLE”) encouraged employers from the private sector to adapt to the “new normal” which includes telecommuting.

Telecommuting, as defined under Republic Act No. 11165 is defined as a work arrangement that allows an employee in the private sector to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunications and/or computer technologies. With this, reliance on technology has dramatically multiplied for the past months as data exchanges are widely adopted by utilizing the internet and/or online platforms.

With the sudden spike in its demand, issues on data privacy began to circulate. The National Privacy Commission (“NPC”) puts emphasis on the fact that the adoption of computer technology in the workplace is not risk-free. To prevent unauthorized access to an improper disposal of documents containing personal data due to unprotected home devices, the NPC released guidelines which cover general security measures which may be implemented by organizations and individuals as provided for under NPC PHE Bulletin No.12 on 15 May 2020.

Authorized Information Communication Technology (ICT) Assets:
1. Computers and other ICT peripherals.
– Ideally, employers should issue their staff with appropriate ICT resources to adequately perform their duties
2. Removable Devices.
– Personnel are encouraged to only use organization-issued ICT peripherals (such as USB flash drives, USB mouse, USB keyboard, etc.)
3. Software.
– Only softwares authorized by the organization must be used and only for official purposes.
4. . Proper configuration and security updates.
– Install security patches prior to and while WFH is enforced to prevent cyber security exploits and malicious damage
5. Web Browser Hardening.
– Ensure that your browser is up to date & properly configured.
6. Video conferencing.
– If available, only use video conferencing platforms contracted by your organization, which should pass its privacy and security standards.

Acceptable Use
Organizations must have an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) that defines allowable personal uses of ICT assets. This may include:

  • Personal emails;
  • Browsing of news and articles;
  • Social media/networking (can be defined in a separate organizational policy); and
  • Video streaming.

The AUP should also define unacceptable and unauthorized uses, which may include:

  • Uses contrary to laws, customs, mores & ethical behavior;
  • Uses for personal benefit, entertainment, profit-oriented, partisan, or hostile activities;
  • Uses that damage the integrity, reliability, confidentiality and efficiency of ICT resources; and
  • Uses that violate the rights of other users

Access Control
– Personnel access to organization data must only be on a “need-to-know-basis”, anchored on pre-defined user profiles, and controlled via a systems management tool.

User Authentication
– Require strong passwords to access personnel credentials and accounts. *Passwords must be at least eight (8) characters long, comprising of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols.
Prohibit sharing of passwords.
Set up multifactor authentication for all accounts to deny threat actors immediate control of an account with a compromised password.

Network Security
When organization ICT assets are connected to personal hotspots and/or home Wi-Fis, observe the following:

  • Don’t visit malicious webpages. Always look for the “https” prefix on the URL to ensure it is encrypted;
  • As much as possible, ensure high availability and reliability of internet connection;
  • Configure the WiFi Modem or Router; and
  • Avoid connecting office computers to public networks, such as coffee shop Wi-Fis. If left with no choice, use a reliable Virtual Private Network (VPN) when connecting

Records and File Security
Set up policies to ensure sensitive data is processed in a protected and confidential manner to prevent unauthorized access, including:

  • A records management policy;
  • A policy against posting sensitive documents in unauthorized channels, such as social media sites;
  • A policy imposing the use of a file’s digital version instead of physical records, whenever possible; and
  • A retention policy for processing sensitive data in personal devices

Emails
When transferring sensitive data via email, encryption of files and attachments should be done.
Also, ensure that personnel always use the proper “TO, CC and BCC” fields to avoid sending to wrong recipients or needlessly expose other people’s email addresses to all recipients.

Physical security
Create workspaces in private areas of the home, or angle work computers in a way that minimizes unauthorized or accidental viewing by others.

  • Lock away work devices and physical files in secure storage when not in use.
  • Never leave physical documents with sensitive data just lying around, nor use them as a “scratch paper”.

Security Incident Management
Personnel must immediately notify his or her immediate supervisor in case of a potential or actual personal data breach while working from home.
The organization’s Data Protection Officer and/or Data Breach Response Team should immediately be alerted

It’s better to adopt preventive measures than curative measures. As we venture into various alternatives in conducting our livelihood, specifically telecommuting, we must take into consideration the confidentiality of our personal information.

For further queries on this matter or other legal concerns, you may contact us from Mondays to Fridays, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, through our email: mfl@mflegal.com.ph, and our website at http://mfbr.com.ph


COVID-19 Testing for Returning Workers is Not Required

By: Atty. Bayani B. Brillante, Jr.

For the benefit of the general public and the business sector, per Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) clarification, it was categorically confirmed that the National Government DOES NOT REQUIRE Covid-19 testing of all employees before they will be allowed to return to work.

This advisory is consistent with those of the Department of Health’s (DOH) Memorandum No. 2020-0220 and Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases or IATFs’  Omnibus Guidelines ( Section 8 [4 ]) dated 15 May 2020 which provides that in no case shall the testing of all returning workers be construed as a condition precedent for his/her return.

In accordance with the DOH guidelines, returning employees and workers physically reporting to their place of employment shall be screened for symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, colds and other respiratory symptoms, and/or relevant history of travel or exposure within the last 14 days. Those who are SYMPTOMATIC with relevant history of travel/exposure on the date of work resumption shall not be allowed to physically return to work and must consult with their primary care provider. As the gold standard, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing will be administered only to this group who are SYMPTOMATIC and/or SUSPECTED of having COVID-19. The rest of employees who are ASYMPTOMATIC within the last fourteen (14) days prior to the date of work resumption can be cleared to physically return to work.

Further to this, companies also have the OPTION to conduct testing for all their employees especially those who are ASYMPTOMATIC but have a high risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the nature of their work, exposure or travel history. Such testing may be done  in a representative sample of those who have returned to work using RT-PCR to look for any evidence of asymptomatic transmitters. The next action to be taken by the concerned company shall depend on the results. Thus:

a. If tested positive, the returning employee/worker is a COVID-19 case and will be isolated and referred accordingly for appropriate management. All close contacts shall be isolated and tested accordingly based on Department Memorandum 2020-0180.

b. If found negative, returning employee and worker can continue working with usual precautions.

c. If initially tested negative but developed symptoms, the employee must be tested accordingly based on Department Memorandum 2020-0180.

i. If found positive, all close contacts of returning employees and workers shall be isolated and tested accordingly based on Department Memorandum 2020-0180.

d. Employers shall report the results to DOH in accordance with Administrative Order No. 2020-0013, entitled “Revised Guidelines for the Inclusion of COVID-19 in the List of Notifiable Diseases for Mandatory Reporting to the Department of Health” and Administrative Order No. 2020-0014 entitled “Guidelines in Securing a License to Operate a COVID-19 Testing Laboratory in the Philippines.”

Alternatively, testing using FDA-approved rapid antibody-based tests among representative samples for baseline can also be conducted up to every 14 days.

The cost of testing not covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) shall be borne by the employer. But this also means the employer can reimburse the cost from PhilHealth up to the amount allowed and under such conditions sanctioned by PhilHealth. One of these conditions is that testing must be in accordance with DOH protocols.

In closing and to reiterate, PCR testing is not required for all  employees but only for those who are symptomatic and are suspected of having COVID-19 following DOH protocol.

Sources:

  1. dti.gov.ph/press-statements/#employee-testing
  2. DOH Department Memorandum No.2020-0220
  3. Omnibus Guidelines On The Implementation of Community Quarantine In The Philippines dated 15 May 2020

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