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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


OVERVIEW: The Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) Program

By atty. Stephanie Anne V. Tible

Here is an overview of the government’s Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) Program.

  1. What is the SBWS? The Department of Finance (DOF) recently issued the guidelines for the availment of a wage subsidy through the Social Security System (SSS). Under the SBWS Program, the amount of the subsidy will range from Php5,000.00 to Php8,000.00 per employee, which may be provided for up to two months.
  • Who are entitled to the SBWS? Before availing of this subsidy, it would be helpful to take note of the following:

As to the employer: (a) Is the employer considered a “small business”, such that it is not in the BIR’s Large Taxpayer Service (LTS) list? (b) If yes, is it a “non-essential” business that was forced to stop operations or a “quasi-essential” business that is allowed to operate a skeletal force?

If you answer ‘yes’ to (a) and (b), then you may be an eligible small business.

As to the employee: (a) Is the employee working for an eligible small business? (b) Is he/she employed and active as of 01 March 2020, but unable to work due to the ECQ? (c) Did he/she not get paid by the employer for at least two weeks during the temporary closure or suspension of work in accordance with Labor Advisory No. 1, Series of 2020? (d) Is he/she a regular, probationary, regular seasonal, project-based, or fixed-term employee? (e) Is he/she certified by the employer in the application as having met the criteria enumerated from (a) to (d)?

If you answer ‘yes’ to (a) up to (d), then you may be an eligible employee.

  • Who are not entitled to the SBWS? The following may not avail of this subsidy:

As to the employer: A business will not be considered as a “small business” if it is in the BIR’s Large Taxpayer Service (LTS) list.

As to the employee: If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following, then you are not eligible to receive a subsidy under this program: (a) Are you working from home or part of the skeleton force? (b) Did you voluntarily went on the following types of leave – maternity leave, paternity leave, study leave, sabbatical leave, and leaves of the same type – for the entire duration of the ECQ, whether with or without pay? (c) Are you a recipient of SSS unemployment benefits due to COVID-19? (d) Did you settle or have in-process SSS final claims (funeral, retirement, death, and total disability)?

  • I passed the eligibility requirements of the SBWS program. How can I get the subsidy? According to the DOF, the following conditions must first be fulfilled before availing of the program:

As to the employer: Small businesses must maintain the employment status of all eligible employee beneficiaries before the ECQ and throughout the SBWS period. This will be checked during the monitoring and evaluation stage. Non-compliance with this condition shall result in the employer refunding to the government the wage subsidy amount.

As to the employee: Employees cannot resign during the ECQ period.

  • How much will I get under the SBWS program? The amount of the subsidy will depend on which region the eligible small business is located:
  • NCR – Php8,000.00
  • CAR – Php5,500.00
  • I – Php5,500.00
  • II – Php5,500.00
  • III – Php8,000.00
  • IV-A – Php8,000.00
  • IV-B – Php5,000.00
  • V – Php5,000.00
  • VI – Php6,000.00
  • VII – Php6,000.00
  • VIII – Php5,000.00
  • IX – Php5,000.00
  • X – Php6,000.00
  • XI – Php6,000.00
  • XII – Php5,000.00
  • CARAGA – Php5,000.00
  • BARMM – Php5,000.00
  • When should I avail of the SBWS program? The application must be done during the period of 16 April 2020 until 30 April 2020.
  • When will I receive the subsidy under the SBWS program? The payout will be done in two tranches. The first tranche will be from 01 May 2020 until 15 May 2020, while the second tranche will be from 16 May 2020 until 31 May 2020.
  • How will I receive the subsidy under the SBWS program? The modes of payment are as follows:
  • Withdrawal via employee’s SSS UMID cards enrolled as ATM;
  • Withdrawal from employee’s bank account for PESOnet participating banks;
  • Employee’s Union Bank Quick Card (partnership with SSS);
  • Employee’s E-wallet: PayMaya;
  • Cash pick-up arrangement through remittance transfer companies.
  • What other matters should I consider?

Eligible small businesses must follow the step-by-step process of the SBWS program. To check one’s eligibility for the program, kindly visit the Bureau of Internal Revenue website: and click on the SBWS icon. Further instructions are given on the SBWS program query homepage.

Also, to initiate the application for the subsidy, please access the Social Security System website through the My.SSS accounts. Click this link:

For full details on the SBWS program, you may visit the DOF website: Stephanie Tible is practicing social distancing and may be available for e-consultations. You may reach her at You may also set an appointment via teleconference with our MFBR attorneys at Stay safe

SEC Internal Guidelines on Attendance in Meetings via Teleconferencing

Courtesy of: fintechphilippines (Photo)

In view of the Enhanced Community Quarantine, the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission issued SEC Memorandum Circular No. 6, Series of 2020, providing “Guidelines on the Attendance and Participation of Directors, Trustees, Stockholders, Members, and Other Persons of Corporations in Regular and Special Meetings through Teleconferencing, Video Conferencing and Other Remote or Electronic Means of Communication”.

Here are the salient points of the Memorandum:

  1. Board meetings may be conducted through remote communication. Note, however, that directors cannot attend or vote by proxy at board meetings.
  2. Corporations may issue their own internal procedures for the conduct of board meetings through remote communication or other alternative modes of communication to address administrative, technical and logistical issues.
  3. A majority of the directors as stated in the articles of incorporation shall constitute a quorum. A director who participates through remote communication, shall be deemed present for the purpose of attaining quorum.
  4. At the start of the meeting, the Presiding Officer shall instruct the Corporate Secretary to make a roll call. Every attendee shall state for the record the following: (a) Full name and position; (b) Location;(c) Confirmation that he/she can clearly hear and/or see the other attendees; (d) Confirmation that he/she received the Notice of the Meeting including the agenda and materials; and (e) Specify the device being used (ie., smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop, television, etc.)
  5. Participation in stockholder meetings, including the right to vote, may likewise be done remotely, as long as provided for in the bylaws or by majority of the board of directors.

In sum, the Memorandum makes it possible for the board of directors to issue resolutions and decide on corporate acts during the Enhanced Community Quarantine.

The full text of SEC Memorandum Circular No. 6, Series of 2020 may be found on this link:

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:, and our website at

Five Things You Need To Know Before Starting A Crypto-Exchange Business In The Philippines


Five Things You Need To Know Before Starting A Crypto-Exchange Business In The Philippines

  1. You must have the BSP’s approval before you can register your company with the SEC. For most companies, the usual requirement before legitimately operating a business is to simply secure a license with the Securities and Exchange Commission. However, the same route is not true for a crypto-exchange business, as it must first secure an endorsement from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.To get the BSP’s nod of approval (for SEC registration purposes), the company must pass the rigorous preliminary screening process for determining its eligibility for registration.At this point, the company must prepare, among others, a business plan detailing the company’s purpose, organizational structure, products/services to be offered, target market/network, operational workflow and capital requirements. The business plan must be clear enough to give BSP an idea of what you really intend to do. If your operations will include online transactions, you should also be ready to present your platform. If you pass the preliminary screening, a letter of no objection will be issued in your favor, and you can proceed with your SEC application for registration.
  2. You must secure a BSP license before operating your crypto-exchange business. Once you’re registered with the SEC, should you already start the crypto-exchange operations? Not yet.You must go back to BSP and comply with the second stage requirements, which are listed under the BSP Memorandum No. M-2017- 014. Basically, you will have to submit the SEC incorporation documents and business permit of the company. The company’s officers and directors must submit their personal data sheets and undertakings to comply with AML rules.
  3. You must meet the capitalization requirements. The capitalization requirement may range from less than PHP10 million for small-scale operators to at least PHP50 million for large-scale operators. If your business includes e-money issuance, the requirement is PHP100 million.
  4. You must build a secure IT infrastructure. The use of digital technology is faced with challenges, such as more sophisticated cyber-attack methods. Pursuant to BSP Circular No. 944, Series of 2017, a virtual currency exchange shall put in place adequate risk management and security control mechanisms to address, manage and mitigate technology risks associated with virtual currencies. An effective cyber security program should be established by a virtual currency exchange that provides wallet services. For simple virtual currency operations, installing up-to-date anti-malware solutions, conducting periodic back- ups and being aware of emerging risks and cyber-attacks may suffice.No matter the complexity of your operations, at the end of the day, the integrity and security of your platform must be maintained. Thus, you should seek competent IT professionals or service providers that will help in protecting your clients’ funds and data, and likewise your business.
  5. You must comply with anti-money laundering laws. A virtual currency exchange must register with the Anti-Money Laundering Council within 30 days from the actual date of commencement of operations. Its principal directors, officers, or responsible personnel should attend a seminar on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing, and training for staff should be provided to enable them to detect illegal transactions and/or prevent the exchange from being used for fraudulent purposes. Policies must be implemented to ensure compliance with anti- money laundering regulations. The board of directors should likewise appoint a Compliance Officer who shall be responsible for overseeing the implementation of relevant policies and reporting covered and suspicious transactions.
  And there you have it. If you are thinking of starting a crypto-exchange business in the Philippines, take careful note of the above. The world is changing fast, and it pays to keep abreast of all the latest rules and regulations. For consultation and assistance in setting up your business, email me at Attorney Stephanie Anne V. Tible. July 11 2019 Photo by Clifford Photography @ Unsplash

MFBR at the Summits!


It’s been a busy time recently for MFBR. Attorney Matthew Mortega represented us at the Data Privacy Summit last August 24, 2018 in Fort Bonifacio and has authored a fascinating article on that very subject which we will be adding to our blog very soon. Meanwhile, our Blockchain and Cryptocurrency specialist, Attorney Stephanie Tible, attended the Blockchain Summit in Singapore last August 28, 2018, along with our IT Associate, Strauss Santos.


Tax Implications of Cryptocurrencies in the Philippines

Photo by Worldspectrum from Pexels  

Tax Implications of Cryptocurrencies in the Philippines (August 16 2018)


May a transaction involving virtual currencies be subject to tax?

As discussed in the previous article, while the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have issued guidelines on cryptocurrencies, the Bureau of Internal Revenue has remained silent on the matter.

Yet, despite the lack of BIR guidelines specifically pertaining to cryptocurrencies, persons dealing with digital currencies like Bitcoin are not exactly exempt from taxes.

To explain this, let’s take a look at the nature of taxation.

In the case of Film Development Council of the Philippines vs. Colon Heritage Realty Corporation, G.R. 203754, 16 June 2015, the Supreme Court held that the power of taxation, being an essential and inherent attribute of sovereignty, belongs, as a matter of right, to every independent government, and needs no express conferment by the people before it can be exercised. It has even been described as the “power to destroy”. Such is the power of taxation that nobody can escape it, even after death!

Thus, it’s safe to say that spending or investing in Bitcoin may be subject to taxes. However, the tax treatment of a virtual currency transaction will depend on its usage.

Some scenarios:

Buying a dozen cheeseburgers using Bitcoin would entail income on the part of the burger chain, which may be subject to income tax (and if you eat all twelve yourself you might end up paying your doctor with Bitcoin, in which case a similar situation would arise!) Value Added Tax (VAT) may also be charged, as there was an exchange of goods.

Now, if the burger chain’s cook receives his or her wages in Bitcoin, their income may also be taxable (should their wages go beyond the compensation threshold under the TRAIN law).

Backtracking for a second, it’s also pertinent to ask how you, the purchaser, obtained the Bitcoins in the first place. Should you be a ‘miner’ then you’ll have earned them by solving a mathematical puzzle then adding a block to a blockchain.* If you subsequently sell or use the bitcoins you mined, the value received after deducting expenses may be treated as income.

On the other hand, if the Bitcoins you have were purchased from someone, this may be treated as an investment or property subject to capital gains tax.

As a final note, in the advisories issued in January and April 2018, the SEC advised that violators to the registration and disclosure requirements—where the virtual currencies offered are in the nature of a security—would be reported to the BIR so that the appropriate penalties and/or taxes can be assessed. This further solidifies the BIR’s authority on the taxation of cryptocurrencies.  We’ll just have to wait for specific memoranda from the BIR.

We’ll keep you posted!

Attorney Stephanie Tible.

*If you’re feeling a little lost here, you might want to take a look at my previous article on Blockchain:

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