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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 and


Catcallers Beware!

Catcallers Beware

Catcallers Beware!


Recognizing the need to protect the dignity of every human being and guarantee full respect for human rights, Republic Act No. 11313, otherwise known as the “Safe Spaces Act”, was enacted.

The Safe Spaces Act, principally authored and sponsored by Senator Risa Hontiveros, seeks to complement the existing Anti-Sexual Harassment Law, and is described by her as “a big victory and a major push back against the growing ‘bastos culture’ in our streets and communities.” The new law expands the coverage of sexual harassment by not limiting the same to the workplace, and acknowledging that it can occur not just in superior-subordinate relationships. The crime of gender-based sexual harassment may also be committed, for example, between peers, by a subordinate to a superior officer, by a student to a teacher, or by a trainee to a trainer.

The new law punishes gender-based street and public spaces harassment such as wolf-whistling, catcalling, and online sexual harassment among others.


More specifically, it covers the following crimes:

a) Gender-Based Streets and Public Spaces Sexual Harassment

b) Gender-Based Online Sexual Harassment

c) Qualified Gender-Based Streets, Public Spaces and Online Sexual Harassment

d) Gender-Based Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, and

e) Gender Based Sexual Harassment in Educational and Training Institutions.


Below are some of the salient features of the law:

A. The crime of Gender-based Streets and Public Spaces Sexual Harassment are committed through any unwanted and uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any person regardless of the motive for committing such action or remarks.


Specific Acts and Penalties for Gender-based Streets and Public Spaces Sexual Harassment:

Degree of Offense


First degree offenses:

  1. Cursing
  2. Catcalling
  3. Wolf-whistling
  4. Leering and intrusive gazing
  5. Taunting, unwanted invitations
  6. Misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, and sexist slurs
  7. Persistent unwanted comments on one’s appearance
  8. Relentless requests for personal details such as name, contact, and social media details; or destination
  9. Use of words, gestures, or actions that ridicule on the basis of sex, gender, or sexual orientation; identity and/or expression including sexist, homophobic, transphobic statements and slurs
  10. Persistent telling of sexual jokes
  11. Use of sexual names, comments, and demands
  12. Any statement that has made an invasion on a person’s personal space or threatens the person’s sense of personal safety
  1. 1st offense: P1,000-fine and 12-hour community service with Gender Sensitivity Seminar
  2. 2nd offense: 6-10 days in prison/P3,000 fine
  3. 3rd offense: 11-30 days in prison and P10,000-fine

2nd degree offenses:

  1. Making offensive body gestures at someone
  2. Public masturbation
  3. Flashing of private parts
  4. Groping
  5. Similar lewd actions
  1. 1st offense: P10,000-fine and 12-hour community service with Gender Sensitivity Seminar
  2. 2nd offense: 11-30 days in prison/P15,000 fine
  3. 3rd offense: 1 month and 1 day to 6 months in prison and P20,000 fine

3rd degree offenses:

  1. Stalking
  2. Sexual advances, gestures, and statements mentioned previously with pinching or brushing against the body of the offended person
  3. Touching, pinching, or brushing against the genitalia, face, arms, anus, groin, breasts, inner thighs, face, buttocks, or any part of the victim’s body
  1. 1st offense: 11-30 days in prison/P30,000-fine with attendance to Gender Sensitivity Seminar
  2. 2nd offense: 1 month and 1 day to 6 months in prison and P50,000-fine
  3. 3rd offense: 4 months and 1 day to 6 months in prison/P100,000-fine
Section 4, Article 1, Republic Act No. 11313.

B. Gender-Based Online Sexual Harassment includes:

  1. Acts that use information and communications technology in terrorizing and intimidating victims through physical, psychological, and emotional threats; Unwanted sexual misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, and sexist remarks
  2. and comments online whether publicly or through direct and private messages;
  3. Invasion of victim’s privacy through cyberstalking and incessant messaging;
  4. Uploading and sharing without the consent of the victims, any form of media that contains photos, voice, or video with sexual content;
  5. Unauthorized recording and sharing of any of the victim’s photos, videos, or any information online;
  6. Impersonating identities of victims online or posting lies about victims to harm their reputation;
  7. Filing false abuse reports to online platforms to silence victims.

Penalty 2 years, 4 months, and 1 day to 4 years and 2 months in prison or P100,000 to P500,000-fine, or both


C. Qualified Gender-Based Streets, Public Spaces and Online Sexual Harassment is committed in the following instances:

  1. If the act takes place in a common carrier or PUV, including, but not limited to, jeepneys, taxis, tricycles, or app-based transport network vehicle services, where the perpetrator is the driver of the vehicle and the offended party is a passenger;
  2. If the offended party is a minor, a senior citizen, or a person with disability (PWD), or a breastfeeding mother nursing her child;
  3. If the offended party is diagnosed with a mental problem tending to impair consent;
  4. If the perpetrator is a member of the uniformed services, such as the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the act was perpetrated while the perpetrator was in uniform; and
  5. If the act takes place in the premises of a government agency offering frontline services to the public and the perpetrator is a government employee.

Penalty The penalty next higher will apply.


D. Gender-Based Sexual Harassment in the Workplace includes:

  1. An act or series of acts involving any unwelcome sexual advances, requests or demand for sexual favors or any act of sexual nature, whether done verbally, physically or through the use of technology such as text messaging or electronic mail or through any other forms of information and communication systems, that has or could have a detrimental effect on the conditions of an individual’s employment or education, job performance or opportunities;
  2. A conduct of sexual nature and other conduct-based on sex affecting the dignity of a person, which is unwelcome, unreasonable, and offensive to the recipient, whether done verbally, physically or through the use of technology such as text messaging or electronic mail or through any other forms of information and communication systems;
  3. A conduct that is unwelcome and pervasive and creates an intimidating, hostile or humiliating environment for the recipient; Provided, That the crime of gender-based sexual harassment may also be committed between peers and those committed to a superior officer by a subordinate, or to a teacher by a student, or to a trainer by a trainee.

E. Gender-Based Sexual Harassment in Educational and Training Institutions

All schools whether public or private are tasked to ensure that the victims are provided with a gender-sensitive  environment that is both respectful to the victims’ needs and conducive to truth-telling.

There you have it. The bottom line of the law is respect. As the song goes, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T / Find out what it means to me / R-E-S-P-E-C-T”. Should there be any confusion as to its observance, let the Safe Spaces Act be your guide.


Atty. Jasmin Fiel-Samson. July 24, 2019

RA11313 The Safe Spaces Act

Retiring to the Philippines – An Affordable Dream!



Living in a country comprised of over seven thousand beautiful, sun-kissed islands, it is not surprising that many foreign nationals who retire to the Philippines feel as if they are on permanent vacation. Good quality of living at an affordable price make it an ideal retirement haven, with housing, food and labor costs all substantially lower than in many other countries. But these are not all the country has to offer.

Filipinos are renowned throughout the world for their hospitality, and retirees will find a warm welcome waiting for them. They will also find communication very easy, since almost every Filipino can understand and speak some English, and the language is widely used on signs and official forms. In fact, in terms of population, the Philippines is one of the largest English-speaking nations in the world.

The country is also rightly proud of its world-class medical and health services, and in recent years has become a popular destination for medical tourism. Our highly trained medical personnel and caregivers are esteemed throughout the world, not only for their competence and expertise but most especially for the care and compassion they show to their wards.

To make it easier for expat retirees to settle here in the Philippines, the government, through the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA), has taken the initiative and produced the Special Resident Retirees Visa (SRRV), which has various packages available to foreign retirees.


The Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV) is a special non-immigrant visa separate and distinct from the existing visa categories defined by the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as amended, and allied laws. (Sec. 1, Rule II of LOI 1470).

It has the following benefits:

  • Option to Reside Permanently – foreign nationals may live, retire and invest in the Philippines.

  • Multiple Entry Privileges – retirees may travel outside the Philippines, and re-enter anytime.

  • Holders of the visa are exempt from:

  • Exit clearance and re-entry permits of the Bureau of Immigration.

  • Annual registration requirement of the Bureau of Immigration.

  • Customs Duties and Taxes for the importation of personal effects and household goods up to US$7,000.00.

  • Travel tax, if stay in the Philippines is less than one year from the last entry date.

  • Special Study Permit.

  • Assistance in securing/obtaining documents from other Government Agencies such as:

  • Department of Labor & Employment (DOLE)- Alien Employment Permit

  • Land and Transportation Office (LTO) – Driver’s License

  • National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)

  • Department of Foreign Affairs (DOF)- Tax Exemption/ Extension Certificate

  • Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) – Tax Identification Number

  • Tax-Free remittance of Annuities and Pensions

  • Guaranteed Repatriation of the Requisite Time Deposit


MFBR’s specialist Immigration & Visa Department, which is accredited with both the Bureau of Immigration and The Philippine Retirement Authority, will be happy to assist any foreign national with their application for a Special Resident Retiree’s Visa. With the benefits on offer, it is perhaps not surprising that it is becoming evermore popular; and with glorious locations such as the one in the photograph accompanying this article (Balabac, Palawan, by Chris Tagupa @ Unsplash), the Philippines is deservedly becoming a very popular retirement haven.

By: Atty. Jasmin Fiel-Samson



For more details on the Special Resident Retirees Visa (SRRV), the Philippine Retirement Authority’s Information Guide is available on our website here.

For more information and assistance with obtaining this or other visas and work permits, please contact us.

Expecting a child? Attorney Jasmin Fiel-Samson looks at maternity leave entitlements

The Law Firm of Mallari Fiel Brillante Ronquillo

They say that it takes an entire village to raise a child. As a first time mom, now more than ever I begin to understand the truth behind this saying. It is recognized in almost all parts of the world that parents need time to bond with and raise a child. Currently, here in the Philippines, after giving birth mothers are given maternity leave of 60 or 78 days depending on whether the birth was a vaginal delivery, or through a C-section. The said leave is with pay. It must be noted though that our country has the lowest number of paid maternity leave days in Southeast Asia, well below the 98-day recommendation of the International Labor Organization (ILO). Vietnam offers 180 days, while Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia offer 90 days of maternity leave. On the other hand, the father of the newborn child here in the Philippines is given paternity leave to bond and take care of his newborn child along with his wife. Said paternity leave is also with pay but lasts for seven days only. Bonding with the new-born child, especially during these first few months, is of paramount importance to both parents. Hopefully, the House of Representatives will finally approve and pass the counterpart bill of Senate Bill (SB) No. 1305 or the Expanded Maternity Leave Act. It has been a year since SB 1305 was passed in the Senate. Then it will still have to undergo a bicameral committee hearing before a final proposal is submitted for the Philippine president’s signature. The Expanded Maternity Leave Act has the following salient features:
  • All female workers, regardless of civil status or ‘legitimacy’ of their child, shall be granted 120 days maternity leave with pay and an option to extend it for another 30 days without pay.
  • If the mother qualifies as a solo parent under R.A. 8972 she shall be granted a total of 150 days maternity leave with pay.
  • Fathers would also benefit from the measure if passed into law, as it seeks to grant them 30 days of leave – more than the allowed 7 days of paid leave under Republic Act 7322.
  • Under the bill, 30 of the 120 days can be transferred to alternate caregivers, such as the spouse, common-law partner, and relative up to the 4th degree of consanguinity, including adoptive parents.
  • The full payment shall be advanced by the employer within 30 days from the filing of the maternity leave application.
  • Workers availing themselves of the maternity leave and benefits must receive not less than 2/3 of their regular monthly wages.
  • Employers from the private sector shall be responsible for payment of the salary differential between the actual cash benefits received from the Social Security System (SSS) by the covered female workers and their average weekly or regular wages, for the entire duration of the ordinary maternity leave, with some exceptions.
  • Employees who avail themselves of this benefit shall be assured of security of tenure. This cannot be used as basis for demotion in employment or termination. The transfer to a parallel position or reassignment from one organizational unit to another in the same agency shall be allowed, provided it shall not involve a reduction in rank, status, or salary.
We can only remain hopeful that said law will be passed soon for it is a start. But in future let’s hope our lawmakers take their inspiration from countries such as Sweden which grant awesome benefits to both rearing parents.

The Law Firm of Mallari Fiel Brillante Ronquillo

As a rapidly growing, highly qualified group of lawyers, associates, accountants, consultants and paralegals we are dedicated to finding innovative and swift solutions to all our clients' concerns.