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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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DOE’s Advisory on the Deferment of Obligations and Dues for Electricity

By: Atty. Cindy T. Climaco


Recognizing the necessity of electricity amidst the battle of COVID-19 and easing the burden of the electricity consumers, the Department of Energy (“DOE”), thru Sect. Alfonso G. Cusi, previously announced on 18 March 2020, the deferment of obligations and dues for thirty (30) days after 14 April 2020.

The announcement was made in relation to the declaration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on 17 March 2020 which placed the entire Luzon under Enhanced Community Quarantine (“ECQ”) until 13 April 2020.

On 07 April 2020, however, President Duterte extended the ECQ until 30 April 2020. And then again on 23 April 2020, upon the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), President Duterte, for the second time, extended the ECQ until 15 May 2020.

As such, the DOE, on 05 May 2020, released an Advisory amending and clarifying its Advisory on 15 April 2020, to wit:

  1. The work from home policy implemented for ERC’s employees, both regular and contractual, in all its offices shall continue until 15 May 2020;
  • Distribution Utilities (DUs) and Retail Electricity Suppliers (RES) operating in areas that continue to be under the ECQ are directed to further extend the grace period for the payment of their consumers’ electricity bills falling due within the ECQ period of 16 March to 15 May 2020, without interest, penalties, fees and other charges. The directive on the amortization of payments in four (4) equal monthly installments, payable in the four (4) succeeding billing months following the end of the ECQ shall continue to be observed, but payments thereof by customers in areas covered by ECQ extension until 15 May 2020 shall commence no earlier than 30 May 2020;
  • DUs and RES that are operating in areas under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) shall retain the grace period on the due date of their consumers’ electricity bills not earlier than 15 May 2020, without interest, penalties, fees and other charges. Similarly, the directive on the amortization of payments in four (4) equal monthly installments, payable in the four (4) succeeding billing months is hereby reiterated;
  • Actual payments received by the DU during the said period are still required to be immediately remitted proportionately to the concerned entities.

Consequently, DUs are authorized to adopt incentive schemes to encourage early payment of the deferred amount by customers who are able to settle ahead of the four (4) months;

  • The use of estimated billing pursuant to Section 3.5.4 of the Distribution Services and Open Access Rules (DSOAR) to ensure the safety of meter readers and to comply with the physical distancing directive for the containment of COVID-19 is being reiterated, provided that the word “ESTIMATE” be clearly written on the consumer bill and that corresponding adjustments be made as soon as practicable. The bill estimate should be based on the average of the consumers’ billing of three months immediately preceding the ECQ;
  • Government entities that are contestable customers shall observe the regular payment schedule of their electricity bills starting 16 May 2020;
  • The Generators/Suppliers, Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM), National Power Corporation (NPC), National Transmission Corporation (TransCo), National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and Independent Power Producer Administrators (IPPAs) and the Market Operator (MO) shall extend the same payment scheme as provided in the preceding paragraph, to the RES, DU and other customers, depending on whether such customer is operating under an ECQ or GCQ. Availment of Prompt Payment Discount (PPD) will still be in accordance with the parties’ approved supply contract;
  • The suspension of the FIT-ALL collection from electricity customers is applicable for March and April billing periods to be implemented on the next electricity bill to be issued by the Collection Agents; and
  • The DUs’ submission of power supply contract utilization report, record of payments received from customers, and record of payments made to suppliers, covering the period 16 March to 15 May 2020 shall be not later than 15 June 2020 to be emailed to tariffs@erc.gov.ph.

For your guidance.

Source: ERCgovPH


Online Hearings of Criminal Cases Involving Persons Deprived of Liberty

By: Atty. Cindy T. Climaco

Photo courtesy of: techjockey.com

Considering the extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (“ECQ”) and the imposition of General Community Quarantine in the different provinces and cities of the Philippines, as well as the reported infections of some Persons Deprived of Liberty (“PDLs”) of COVID-19, the Supreme Court issued Administrative Circular (“A.C.”) No. 37-2020 which provides, the conducting of hearings on urgent matters in criminal cases through videoconferencing involving Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs).

Said A.C. was issued to restrain the movement and travel of court users, PDLs, judges, and court personnel to further reduce the spread of COVID-19.

A.C. No. 37-2020 provides the following directives:

  1. The hearings on urgent matters in criminal cases involving PDLs through videoconferencing shall be pilot tested during this period of public health emergency in the following authorized court stations identified by the Office of the Court Administrator (“OCA”):

All court stations in the National Capital Judicial Region

LUZON
Region I– La Trinidad;
– Benguet;
– Baguio City;
– Dagupan City; and
– Pangasinan  
Region II– Ilagan, Isabela;
– Santiago City;
– Cabagan, Isabela;
– Roxas, Isabela; and
– Lubuagan, Kalinga  
Region III– Olongapo City;
– Balanga City;
– Mariveles, Bataan;
– Gapan City;
– Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija;
– San Fernando, Pampanga;
– Guagua, Pampanga;
– Angeles City;
– Capas, Tarlac  
Region IV– Tanuan, Batangas;
– Balayan, Batangas;
– Nasugbu, Batangas;
– Rosario, Batangas;
– Tagaytay City;
– Trece Martires, Cavite;
– Imus, Cavite;
– Naic, Cavite;
– San Pablo City;
– Calamba, Laguna;
– Lucena City;
– Gumaca, Quezon;
– Binangonan, Rizal;
– San Mateo, Rizal;
– Morong, Rizal;
– Antipolo City;
– Boac, Marinduque;
– Calapan City;
– Puerto Princesa, Palawan  
Region V– Legazpi City;
– Naga City;
– Sorsogon City  
VISAYAS
Region VI– Iloilo City;
– Bacolod City;
– San Jose, Antique;
– San Carlos City;
– Negros Occidental  
Region VII– Cebu City;
– Lapu Lapu City;
– Mandaue City;
– Dumaguete City;
– Tanjay City  
Region VII– Tacloban City;
– Ormoc City  
MINDANAO
Region IX– Dipolog City;
– Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay;
– Zamboanga City;
– Pagadian City;
– Isabela City, Basilan;
– Jolo, Sulu  
Region X– Cagayan de Oro City;
– Surigao City;
– Malaybalay City,
– Bukidnon  
Region XI– Tandag City;
– Digos City;
– Gen. Santos City;
– Koronadal City;
– Polomok City;
– Alabel, Sarangani  
Region XII– Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao;
– Marawi City;
– Iligan City;
– Kidapawan City; and
– Midsayap, North Cotabato.
  • The hearings through videoconferencing shall cover all PDLs and may apply to all stages of trial of newly-filed and pending criminal cases, including but not limited to, arraignment, pre-trial, bail hearings, trial proper, and promulgation of judgment.
  • The courts shall ensure at all times that all the constitutional rights of the accused are protected and observed, including “the rights of the accused to be present and defend in person at every stage of the proceedings, to testify as a witness in his or her own behalf, and to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him or her at trial, “which the Court en banc, in its Resolution in A.M. No. 19-05-05-SC, dated 25 June 2019, said “are deemed satisfied when such appearance and testimony are made remotely through videoconferencing…”
  • Considering that the remote locations of the participants are extensions of the court, the in-person appearances, testimonies and experiences of the litigants and parties in courts shall always be closely resembled in the remote appearances and testimonies of the litigants and parties in the videoconferencing proceedings. In the same manner, the dignity and solemnity of in-court proceedings shall at all times be mirrored in videoconferencing proceedings.
  • For this purpose, the above-mentioned authorized courts shall each be provided with Microsoft Office 365 E1 licenses which have, among others, the Outlook application for their official email accounts, and the Teams application to host the videoconferencing proceedings. No other platforms shall be used for the videoconference proceedings, and neither shall the courts use a different email address aside from the authorized account officially provided.
  • It is clearly understood that these hearings in criminal cases through videoconferencing are only for pilot testing, and shall apply only during this public health emergency period.
  • The Office of the Court Administrator shall immediately issue the necessary directives and take the requisite steps to implement this pilot testing of hearings in criminal cases through videoconferencing and thereafter submit a report to the Court within six (6) months from the implementation of this Administrative Circular, or immediately after the end of this public health emergency period, whichever is earlier.

For your guidance.

SOURCE:http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/11249/


Update on the Hearing Suspension and Deadline Extension in Courts

Photo courtesy of: shutterstock.com

On 23 April 2020, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has announced the extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (“ECQ”) in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and “all other high risk” provinces in Luzon until 15 May 2020.

In this relation, the Supreme Court issued Administrative Circular (“AC”) No. 35-2020, superseding its previously issued Administrative Circular, AC No. 34-2020.

Administrative Circular No. 35-2020, provides that, all courts within the area of:

LUZON

  1. National Capital Region (“NCR”);
  2. CAR – Benguet;
  3. Region I – Pangasinan;
  4. Region III – Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales;
  5. Region IV-A – CALABARZON;
  6. Region IV-B – Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro; and
  7. Region V- Albay and Catanduanes.

VISAYAS

  1. Region VI – Aklan, Antique, Capiz and Iloilo; and
  2. Region VII – Cebu and Cebu City.

MINDANAO

  1. Region XI – Davao del Norte, Davao City & Davao de Oro

shall operate as follows:

  1. All courts in the ECQ areas shall remain physically closed to all court users until 15 May 2020, and may be reached only through their respective hotline numbers, email addresses and/or Facebook accounts as posted on the website of the Supreme Court.
  • While the courts shall remain physically closed to all court users in the ECQ areas, they shall continue to operate from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m, Monday to Friday, until 15 May 2020. All electronic communications however must be transmitted by court users from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • The on-line filing of criminal complaints and informations, posting of bail, and submission of other urgent pleadings shall continue to be in effect until 15 May 2020 in the ECQ areas.
  • The scheduling of justices- and judges-on-duty, together with the skeleton-staff, in the ECQ areas shall continue until 15 May 2020, so that urgent matters may be addressed.
  • Night courts and Saturday courts shall remain suspended until 15 May 2020 in the ECQ areas.
  • All hearings in the ECQ areas, except on urgent matters (such as those mentioned in A.C. No. 31-2020 dated 16 March 2020), shall remain suspended until 15 May 2020.
  • The filing of petitions and appeals, complaints, motions, pleadings and other court submissions that fall due up to 15 May 2020 in the ECQ areas is extended for 30 calendar days, counted from 16 May 2020, but pleadings and other court submissions may still be filed by the parties within the reglementary period on or before 15 May 2020 through electronic means, if preferred and able.
  • The periods for court actions with prescribed periods in the ECQ areas are also extended for 30 calendar days counted from 16 May 2020, except court actions on urgent matters.
  • All justices and judges in the ECQ areas shall continue to draft decisions and orders in their respective residences until 15 May 2020, which decisions shall be promulgated or issued once the courts are fully operational, except decisions and orders on urgent matters which shall be promulgated or issued during the ECQ period.
  1. All official meetings, seminars, trainings and other functions in the Judiciary within the ECQ areas are deferred until 15 May 2020, except those that may be called or authorized by the Chief Justice or by the Judiciary Task Force on COVID-19.
  1. Flag raising and retreat ceremonies are likewise suspended until 15 May 2020.

AC No. 35-2020 further provides that should the status of an area or province be changed from ECQ to General Community Quarantine (“GCQ”), said area shall be governed by and comply with the circular issued for areas under GCQ.

For your guidance.

Source:


Hearing Suspension and Deadline Extension

By: Atty. Cindy T. Climaco

Photo courtesy of: www.becklaw.ca

(NOTE: As of today’s posting,President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has announced the extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and “all other high risk” provinces in Luzon until May 15, 2020. Since the SC Administrative Circular discussed here was issued in light of the first ECQ extension lasting until April 30, 2020, it is reasonably expected that the subject circular will likewise be updated.  Hence, any such modification that will be subsequently issued will likewise be posted once it becomes available.)

On 17 March 2020, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte declared that the entire Luzon will be placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine (“ECQ”) which will last until 13 April 2020.

However, due to the increasing growth of COVID-19 cases in the country, President Duterte decided to extend the ECQ until 30 April 2020.

In line with the announcement, the Supreme Court issued Administrative Circular (“AC”) No. 34-2020, which provides:

  1. All courts nationwide shall remain physically closed to all court users until 30 April 2020, and may be reached only through their respective hotline numbers, email addresses and/or Facebook accounts as posted on the website of the Supreme Court.
  • While the courts shall remain physically closed to all court users, the courts shall continue to operate from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m, Monday to Friday, until 30 April 2020. All electronic communications however must be transmitted by court users from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • The online filing of criminal complaints and informations, posting of bail, and submission of other urgent pleadings shall continue to be in effect until 30 April 2020.
  • The scheduling of justices- and judges-on-duty, together with the skeleton-staff, shall continue until 30 April 2020, so that urgent matters may be addressed.
  • Night courts and Saturday courts shall remain suspended until 30 April 2020.
  • All hearings nationwide, except on urgent matters, shall remain suspended until 30 April 2020.
  • The filing of petitions and appeals, complaints, motions, pleadings and other court submissions that fall due up to 30 April 2020 is extended for 30 calendar days, counted from 1 May 2020, but pleadings and other court submissions may still be filed by the parties within the reglementary period on or before 30 April 2020 through electronic means, if available.
  • All court actions on non-urgent matters, scheduled until 30 April 2020 are likewise suspended.
  • The periods for court actions with prescribed periods are also extended for 30 calendar days counted from 1 May 2020.
  1. All justices and judges shall continue to draft decisions and orders in their respective residences until 30 April 2020, which decisions and orders shall be promulgated or issued once the courts are fully operational.
  1. All official meetings, seminars, trainings and other functions in the Judiciary are deferred until 30 April 2020, except those that may be called or authorized by the Chief Justice or by the Judiciary Task Force on COVID-19.
  1. Flag raising and retreat ceremonies are likewise suspended until 30 April 2020.

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