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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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EXTENSIONS GRANTED BY THE BIR DURING ECQ DUE TO TO COVID-19

By atty: Jonathan R. de Guzman

Photo Courtesy of: Manila Bulletin News

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), in the interest of public safety and to protect the health of the taxpayers, granted extensions for the filing and payment of tax returns and other taxes  becoming due during the enhanced community quarantine period. The relevant Revenue  Memorandum Circulars providing for the extensions are as follows:

I. BIR’s Clarification on the Extension of the Filing and Payment of the Annual Income Tax Return and other Tax Due.

On 23 March 2020, The BIR issued Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 30-2020, an amendment to RMC No. 29-2020 and clarifications on RMC No. 28-2020, to address confusion and inadvertent errors presented in the former circulars released relative to the extended deadlines for tax filings, payments, and other returns.

Below are the FAQs:

When is the last day of filing and payment of Annual Income Tax Return?

Last day of Filing and Payment is on 15 May 2020.

When is the last day of filing of other returns and the payment Taxes due thereon?

The amended and clarified list of filing any payment of various tax return can be found on the attached Annex “A” of RMC 30-2020.

Is the list in Annex “A” exclusive?

No. In case the deadline of filing of any reportorial requirements not included in Annex “A” fell within the Enhanced Community Quarantine Period, the deadline of filing and payment will be extended for 30 days from its deadline.

In what area or jurisdiction does the extension apply?

The Revenue Memorandum Circular is applicable to the entire Luzon, including National Capital Region, under the ECQ and those area or jurisdiction that has implemented the ECQ.

Can the filing and payment of the taxes due be further extended?

Yes. The filing and payment of the reportorial requirements and the taxes due can further be extended if the ECQ period is further extended. Such payment and filing will further be extended for another 30 calendar days.

Is the filing and payment of ONETT transactions also extended?

Yes. Filing and payment of Withholding Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Donors Tax, and Estate Tax (ONETT Transactions) shall be extended for 30 days from its due date if the date of payment fell within the ECQ Period. The ONETT transactions include the BIR payment form nos. 1606. 1706, 1707, 1800 and 1801.

II. Extension of Period to File Correspondences with the BIR and the Submission of Pertinent Documents

On 23 March 2020, the BIR issued Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 31-2020 for the extension of period of filing correspondences with the Bureau pursuant to the provisions of Tax Code and the existing revenue regulations.

Below are the FAQs:

What correspondence or pertinent documents does the BIR refer to?

The BIR allowed the extension of the following documents and/or correspondences, to wit:

1. Letter Answer to Notice of Informal Conference

2. Response to the Preliminary Assessment Notice

3. Protest Letter to the Final Assessment Notice or Formal Letter of Demand

4. Submission of relevant supporting documents to support the request for re-investigation of audit cases with FAN/FKD

5. Appeal/Request for Reconsideration to the Commissioner on the Final Decision on Disputed Assessment (FDA)

6. Other similar letters and correspondences with due dates falling during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ)

Does the BIR allow the extension of filing of all correspondence?

NO. The BIR will only grant the extension of 30 days from the date of the lifting of ECQ to those taxpayers whose response to the received document or correspondence fell within the period of ECQ.

Does the extension apply only to the filing of documents within Luzon?

NO. The extension shall apply to areas or jurisdiction that have adopted and implemented the ECQ.

III. Extension on Availing Tax Amnesty

On 24 March 2020, the Bureau of Internal Revenue issued Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 33-2020 extending the deadline on the availment of tax amnesty on delinquencies under RA 11213 along with Revenue Regulation 4-2019 as amended by revenue regulation 5-2020.

Under RMC No. 33-2020, the deadline to avail tax amnesty on delinquent taxes is extended from 23 April 2020 to 23 May 2020.

RA 11213 granted Tax Amnesty for all unpaid Internal Revenue taxes for previous taxable years until 2017 with respect to the payment of Estate Tax, other Internal Revenue Taxes and other Tax Delinquencies due.

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: http://mfbr.com.ph/

Frequently Asked Questions regarding CAMP:

From: Department of Labor and Employment – Bureau of Local Employment (Facebook Page)

A lot of people have been asking us questions about the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP). The Department of Labor and Employment – Bureau of Local Employment, through their Facebook page, has released answers to the frequently asked questions about the CAMP.  We have collated the questions for your convenience:

I. ELIGIBILITY

  1. Are probationary and newly-hired employees entitled to CAMP?
    1. Yes, all employees in the private sector REGARDLESS of employment status are entitled to CAMP (i.e. permanent, probationary, contractual).
  2. Are construction workers who suffered income reduction by reason of temporary closure covered by CAMP?
    1. Yes, if the worker is actively employed, or has an on-going contract with the employer prior to the implementation of the ECQ.
  3. Are JobStart Beneficiaries who lost income due to temporary closure entitled to CAMP?
    1. Yes, JobStart Beneficiaries in their internship phase are covered by CAMP due to their income reduction, and because they are still included in the company payroll.
  4. Are drivers, ambulant vendors, marginalized farmers, those without employers, and those part of the informal sector entitled to CAMP?
    1. No, CAMP is for the salaried formal sector workers with employer-employee relationship. For the informal sector, DOLE offers TUPAD #BKBK (Barangay ko, Bahay Ko) or emergency employment.
  5. Are the members of the top management covered by the CAMP?
    1. No, the top management such as the President, Vice President, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Executive Director, Members of the Board, and other high-ranking officials are not covered under CAMP.

II. COVERAGE

  1. Are large establishments covered by CAMP?
    1. Yes, employees working in large establishments are still covered. However, DOLE prioritizes Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
  2. If an employee received his/her 13th month pay in advance, is he/she still entitled to CAMP?
    1. Yes, an employee is still entitled of CAMP despite receiving his/her 13th month pay in advance. Paying an employee’s 13th month pay is not due to income reduction.
  3. If an employee is receiving his/her full salary in a work-from-home (WFH) arrangement, is he/she still entitled to CAMP?
    1. No, those entitled to CAMP are employees who suffered income reduction/loss.
    1. However, the establishment which adopted a WFH scheme may still apply for CAMP, provided that the employee has suffered income loss or reduction.
  4. If the employee’s leave credits are not fully utilized, can an employee still avail of CAMP?
    1. Yes, an employee can avail of CAMP although he/she has not fully exhausted all his/her leave credits. Employees who experienced income reduction are entitled to CAMP.
  5. Are employees on maternity leave covered by CAMP?
    1. No, because they did not suffer income reduction, and are still being paid their full salaries.

III. REQUIREMENTS

  1. What other requirements may be submitted in lieu of the company payroll?
    1. The company may submit pay slips as an alternative to the company payroll.
  2. Are there additional requirements besides the CAMP establishment report and Company payroll?
    1. DOLE requires the submission of the following information through email:
      1. Payroll Account Numbers of Affected Workers; and
      1. Company Payroll’s Bank name (with specification on the branch and branch address).
  3. As to the portion in the establishment report concerning the salary of the employee, what if the employee is compensated weekly?
    1. The employer may indicate that the employee’s salary arrangement is weekly.
  4. Where would the company apply if it has branch offices?
    1. The branch office may apply with the DOLE Regional/Field/Provincial Office where it is situated.
  5. Is there a deadline in the submission of the CAMP application?
    1. None. However, the DOLE advises the employers to submit as early as possible for immediate processing.
  6. What if the requirements submitted are incomplete?
    1. DOLE will not process the application should it lack details such as name, signature, etc.

IV. DISBURSEMENT

  1. Where will the P5,000.00 financial support under CAMP be deposited?
    1. It will be deposited directly to the employee’s account.
  2. What if the employee has no payroll account? How will he/she get the financial assistance?
    1. If the employee has no payroll account, the financial assistance may be sent to him/her through money remittance.
  3. Is it true that the allocated budget for CAMP is already exhausted?
    1. No, the government has sufficient funds for this project.

V. LIMITATION

  1. Is there a limit as to the number of employees in a company who may apply for CAMP?
    1. None, all eligible workers in the company may be applied by the employer for CAMP.

VI. OTHERS

  1. What if the employer does not want to apply for CAMP?
    1. The employee may send the company’s details to DOLE and the Regional/Field/Provincial Offices of DOLE would be communicating with it to encourage the submission of an application.
    1. However, in a virtual press briefing with DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello, III, he advised the concerned workers to come together and submit the requirements necessary under CAMP directly to DOLE. [Source: Merez, A. (31 March 2020) Workers can go straight to DOLE for P5,000 cash aid: Bello. ABS-CBN News. Retrieved from https://news.abs-cbn.com
  2. Will the P5,000.00 CAMP financial assistance be deducted from the employee’s salary?
    1. No, the P5,000.00 is a financial aid from the government, and should not be deducted from the employee’s salary.

We’ll keep you posted as to any updates regarding CAMP. Stay tuned and keep safe.

Additional Guidelines and Exemptions from Coverage of Enhanced Community Quarantine under IATF Resolution No. 14 (PART II)

By: Atty. Jonathan R. De Guzman

This is in continuation of the article regarding the changes made to the previous Inter Agency Task Force on Emerging Infection Diseases (IATF-EID) resolutions. If you haven’t read the previous article, click this “Revisions in the Inter Agency Task Force Resolution No. 14 (PART I)” .

This article focuses on the additional guidelines and exemptions of certain entities or individuals not covered by the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

IATF Resolution No. 14 provided for additional personalities or entities that does not fall under the restrictions as implemented by the Enhanced Community Quarantine, as follows:

“Further, pursuant to the authority granted to the IATF under the Memorandum dated 16 March 2020 issued by the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES), the following amendments or modifications to the existing guidelines on Enhanced Community Quarantine are hereby adopted:

“1. Providing exemptions from the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine to the following persons but with strict compliance to skeleton workforce arrangement and strict social distancing:


a. Members of Congress and their Chiefs of Staff;

b. Secretaries, Undersecretaries, Assistant Secretaries, and Bureau Directors of the different government agencies under the Executive Branch;

c. Ombudsman and their Deputy Ombudsmen;

d. Justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals and the Sandiganbayan, as well as their respective skeleton-workforce;

e. Judges of Regional, Metropolitan, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts and Prosecutors, as well as their respective skeleton-workforce;

f. Local Chief Executives;

The close-in staff necessary to or connected to the movement of the above-enumerated are likewise granted the exemption.

g. At most three (3) personnel operating cargo vehicles and delivery service vehicles for food, drinking water, medicine, and other basic necessities, with or without load;

h. Employees of:

1. Manufacturing and Processing Plants of Basic Food Products, Essential Products, Medicine and Medical Supplies:

a. All Food

b. Essential and Hygiene Products

i. Soap and detergents

ii. Diapers, feminine hygiene products, tissue, wipes/and toilet papers

iii. Disinfectants

c. Medicines and Vitamins

d. Medical Products, such as:

i. PPEs

ii. Masks, gloves

iii. Others

2. Retail Establishments (Groceries, Supermarkets, Hypermarkets, Convenience Stores, Public Markets, Pharmacies and Drug Stores)

3. Logistics Service Providers (Cargo Handling, Warehousing, Trucking, Freight Forwarding, and Shipping Line)

4. Hospitals and Medical Clinics

5. Food Preparations and Water Refilling Stations

6. Delivery Services, whether in-house or outsourced, Transporting only Food, Water, Medicine or other Basic Necessities

7. Banks and Capital Markets, per Section 5 of IATF Resolution No. 13 dated March 17, 2020

8. Power, Energy, Water, IT and Telecommunications Supplies and Facilities, Waste Disposal Services

9. Export and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Companies.

10. Airline and aircraft maintenance employees, including pilot and crew, and ship captain and crew.

11. Media establishments; Provided, that the number of exempted employees be limited to but fifty (50%) percent of their total permanent staff complement as registered under the DOLE; Provided further, that such maximum limit includes reporters and other field employees as may be accredited by the PCOO;

12. Hotels that have bookings as of 17 March 2020;

13. Energy companies and their third-party contractors, including such employees involved in electric transmission and distribution, electric power plant and line maintenance, as well as those involved in exploration, operations, trading and delivery of coal, oil or any kind of fuel used to produce electricity; and

14. Under “Telecommunication utilities”, the Telecommunications-related work force, i.e., Telecommunications companies (TelCos), Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Cable TV Providers (CATV), including those who perform indirect services such as the security, technical, sales and other support personnel, as well as employees of their third-party contractors doing sales, installation, maintenance and repair works.

i. Pastors, priests, imams or such other religious ministers whose movement shall be related to the conduct of necrological or funeral rites; and

j. Heads of Mission or designated Foreign Mission Representatives, including a limited number of their personnel or staff.

2. No further exemptions shall be granted by 23 March 2020.”

If you fall under these categories, you are considered exempted from restrictions of the Enhanced Community Quarantine subject to the strict guidelines of the Inter Agency Task Force.

However, before any individual or entity is considered not covered by the restrictions of the ECQ, the enumerated individuals or entities in IATF Resolution No. 14 must comply with additional guidelines and qualifications as follows:

A. Unhampered delivery of all types of cargo inbound and outbound Metro Manila.

“To avert any threat of shortage of basic food, essential hygienic products and medical products, the IATF reaffirms its earlier resolution to ensure the unimpeded movement of all types of cargo (food and non-food), and allow the passage of personnel of business establishments permitted to operate during the Enhanced Community Quarantine, subject to the presentation of proof of employment, and residence.

The policy on the unhampered flow of cargoes is a nationwide policy that must be strictly followed in all LGUs nationwide, following the directive of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on 19 March 2020.

This means that all types of cargoes going in and out of Metro Manila that are not covered by the restrictions of ECQ (food and essential non-food products) will be allowed regardless of the type of cargo to ensure the continuous flow of food and medical supplies for the duration of the ECQ. In addition to the unhampered delivery cargo, the employees of those establishments allowed to operate during ECQ will be allowed to enter and leave Metro Manila subject to the presentation of proof of employment and proof of residence of the affected employees going in and out of Metro Manila. This must be read in conjunction with the limit on the number of operators of cargoes going in and out of Metro Manila to three (3) personnel at the most.

B. Deadline for BPO and Export Oriented Enterprises to set up alternate work arrangements.

“The deadline given to BPOs and export oriented establishments (including those inside economic zones), to prepare for their respective alternative work arrangements, such as the setting of the temporary accommodations for their workers, the need to shuttle employees, the transfer of necessary equipment to facilitate work from home arrangements, shall be extended until 11:59 PM of 22 March.”

Considering that BPOs and Export Oriented Enterprises are not covered by restrictions of the ECQ, the entities or individuals mentioned above were given the opportunity to set up alternate work arrangements to ensure continuing services are being rendered by the BPOs.

C.Exemption granted to employees of media companies.

“Exemptions to the implementation of Enhanced Community Quarantine previously granted to employees of media establishments are hereby extended until 26 March 2020; Provided, that the number of exempted employees shall be limited to fifty (50%) percent of their total permanent staff complement as registered under the Department of Labor and Employment; Provided further, that such maximum limit includes reporters and other field employees as may be accredited by the PCOO; Provided further, that such maximum will be subject to regular assessment and review by the IATF.”

Employees of media companies are exempted from the restrictions of ECQ provided that:

a. The number of employees exempted in a company must not exceed 50% of the total staff as registered in DOLE.

b. The total staff exempted must include the reporters, field employees accredited by the PCOO.

The maximum exempted employees will be subject to the regular assessment and review by the IATF depending on the severity of the condition within Metro Manila.

D. Deadline for the issuance of IATF Accredited IDs.

“The period for the issuance of the IATF Accredited IDs is hereby extended until 26 March 2020. Accordingly, holders of bona fide IDs issued by exempted establishments or offices shall continue to be honored by law enforcement agencies so as to exempt the bearers thereof from the strict home quarantine requirements.”

All individuals or entities not covered by the restrictions of ECQ will be given IATF Accredited IDs to avoid incurring any delay for any incoming and outgoing travels to and from Metro Manila.

E. Coordination with the DOH by the local chief executives for the acquisition and use of test kits under their jurisdiction.

“All LGUs must first coordinate with DOH prior to acquiring, purchasing or utilizing testing kits within their respective territorial jurisdictions.”

Unless you fall under the exemptions from the restrictions of Enhanced Community Quarantine and has complied with all the guidelines and requirements for exemption, you will be asked to return to home or be prohibited to travel to and from Metro Manila.

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: http://mfbr.com.ph/

Revisions in the Inter Agency Task Force Resolution No. 14 (PART I)

By: Atty. Jonathan R. De Guzman

Revisions in the Inter Agency Task Force Resolution No. 14 which removed or replaced specific provisions of the previous IATF Resolutions. (PART I)

            Here are some revisions and comparison of the previous resolutions of the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) repealed by IATF Resolution No. 14 discussed during the press statement of Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles last 22 March 2020 in PTV 4.

1. Paragraph B(3) of the IATF Resolution No. 13 is hereby amended to include accommodations to distressed OFWS, to wit:

“No hotels or similar establishment shall be allowed to accommodate except those accommodating:

1. Guests who have existing booking or accommodations for foreigners as of 17 March 2020;

2. Guests who have existing long-term leases;

3. Employees from exempted establishments under the provisions of the March 16, 2020 Memorandum from the Executive Secretary, and subsequent modifications and clarifications.

4. Distressed OFWs, subject to guidelines issued by the Overseas Welfare Workers Administration (OWWA) in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Health (DOH). [As amended by IATF Resolution No. 14]”

            The Resolution No. 14 will now allow the accommodation of hotels and other similar establishments for distressed OFW, subject to the guidelines or advisories of OWWA. As of writing, the OWWA has yet to release guidelines or qualification of Distressed OFW which will be the basis in granting accommodation by hotels or similar establishments.

2. Another provision amended by IATF Resolution No. 14 is, as follows:

“Paragraph (F) of IATF Resolution No. 11 and Paragraph  (D) of IATF Resolution No. 12 s. 2020 is hereby repealed. The guidelines relative to inbound travelers and the issuance of visas shall be as follows:

  1. Visa issuance to all foreign nationals is suspended with immediate effect;
  2. Visa-free privileges based on Visa Waiver Agreements, those under Executive Order 408, s.1960, holders of Hong Kong and Macau SAR passports, Macau-Portuguese passports and British National Overseas passports are also suspended effective 22 March 2020;
  3. Foreign spouses and children of Filipinos are exempted from the above suspension; and
  4. Foreign nationals with visas previously issued by Foreign Service Posts (FSPs) will not be allowed entry into the country starting 22 March 2020, except:
  5. Accredited Foreign Government and International Organization officials and their dependents; and
  6. Foreign spouses and children of Filipino nationals whose visas will remain valid and will be honored when entering the country even after said date.

Accordingly, the DFA shall issue the necessary implementing circular relative to the foregoing.”

Paragraph (F) of IATF Resolution No. 11 s. 2020 provides:

“Balik-Manggagawa Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) shall be allowed to travel to mainland China, except to Hubei Province, upon execution of a Declaration signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved. Provided, that a health advisory pamphlet shall be handed out to the OFWs upon departure;“

Paragraph (D) of IATF Resolution No. 11 s. 2020 provides:

“Inbound travelers from Iran and Italy are required to present a medical certificate issued by competent medical authorities within forty eight (48) hours immediately preceding departure, signifying that traveler has tested negative for COVID-19. Provided, that this provision shall not apply to Filipino citizens including foreign spouse and children, if any, holders of Permanent Resident Visa, and holders of 9(e) Diplomat Visas issed by the Philippine Government.

            IATF Resolution No. 11 and 12 only provided exemptions for all inbound travelers who are allowed to the Philippines. However, in Resolution No. 14, the restriction is now applicable to all incoming travelers except to Filipinos coming from abroad along with their foreign spouse and children. Likewise, only those accredited foreign government and International Organizations are allowed entry to the Philippines.

3. Another provision repealed by the IATF Resolution No. 14. is as follows:

“Paragraph (D) IATF Resolution 13 s. 2020 is hereby repealed. The IATF hereby organizes the Response Cluster and Incident Management Team (IMT) at the National, Regional and Local levels. The Department of Health (DOH) shall be the overall lead for the Response Clusters while the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will be the overall lead for the IMTs. The National IATF, Response Cluster and IMT will locate their headquarters at the AFP Commissioned Officers Clubhouse (AFP-COC), Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City. Moreover, the regional Inter-Agency Task Groups for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATG-MEID) are hereby organized in all regions headed by the Regional Directors of the DOH.”

Paragraph (D) IATF Resolution 13 s. 2020 provides:

“The Response Clusters of the NDRRMC for COVID-19 at the national, regional, and local levels shall be convened. All councils are directed to implement preventive, preparatory, responsive, and early recovery measures in anticipation of the worst-case scenario insofar as the COVID-19 health event is concerned. The Rehabilitation and Recovery Cluster of the NDRRMC is likewise directed to develop a resiliency and recovery plan.”

            The IATF Resolution No. 13 provides that the Response Cluster of NDRRMC for the local, regional, and national level shall be convened. The Response Cluster of NDRRMC will take all the precautionary measures and rehabilitation plan for containing COVID-19. While IATF Resolution No. 14 provides for the institution of Response Cluster and Incident Management. The primary task of supervising the Response Cluster shall fall under DOH while the Incident Management Team shall be under the supervision of the DILG. IATF Resolution No. 14 also created the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force headed by the Regional Director of DOH. This is likely the response of our government to address all health issues related to COVID-19.

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: http://mfbr.com.ph/

“LYING, A CIVIL or CRIMINAL LIABILITY?”

By: Saliha Naila Abdullah “Junior Associate”

Image source: Facebook Account of Mr. Jerameel Lu

As the numbers of affected Filipinos grow every day, devastating news about death tolls comes with a heavy heart. Just a week ago, we learned that a doctor had died after contracting the Coronavirus 2019 Disease (Covid-19) from treating a patient who allegedly lied about her travel history.

In this kind of situation, we may pose the question: “If a patient lied about his/her medical condition and history during a declared public health emergency period, will the said patient be criminally or civilly liable?”

To answer this query, we may refer to the recently passed law by the Philippine Congress in 2019 or prior to the Covid-19 outbreak. Republic Act No. 11332, otherwise known as the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act”, aims to protect the people from public health threats and to instill health consciousness among the people. This law intends to address issues involving notifiable diseases, epidemics, and health events of public health concern.

notifiable disease, as defined in the said law, is any disease that is mandated by our law to be reported to government authorities. The collation of information allows the authorities to monitor the disease and provides early warning of possible outbreaks. Notably, the declaration of the epidemic of public health emergency shall be vested to the Secretary of Health. However, if the same is a threat to the National Security, then the President of the Republic of the Philippines shall declare a State of Public health emergency.

The law listed some prohibited acts. A violation or commission of any of the prohibited acts may hold public authorities/entities as well as private individuals/entities liable, both civilly and criminally.

Under Section 9 of the law, there are five (5) prohibited acts punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment of up to six (6) months, specifically:

  • “Unauthorized disclosure of private and confidential information pertaining to a patient’s medical condition or treatment”;
  • Non-operation of the disease surveillance and response systems”;
  • Non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern”;
  • “Non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern“; and
  • “Tampering of records or intentionally providing misinformation”.

The first prohibited act is committed by either a government official or private individual in custody of private and confidential information of a patient’s medical condition or treatment. This is committed through unsanctioned release of any confidential information of a patient.

The second prohibited act is yet to be effected by the Implementing Rules and Regulations to be issued by the Department of Health. More so, any government official may be held liable if found committing this prohibited act.

The third prohibited act may be committed by any government agency, private or public entity, medical practitioner or individual, except patients, who fails to timely report or accordingly respond to the notifiable diseases or health events of public concern. The law mandates for these mentioned persons to immediately report and make full disclosure, upon their knowledge, of all notifiable diseases and health events affecting the public to respective government units and/or the Department of Health.

The fourth prohibited act applies when there is non-cooperation by any person or entity having either the notifiable disease or is affected by the health event of public concern. The former are persons diagnosed or identified as positive of having the notifiable disease, while the latter covers persons who are yet to be affected or identified to contract the said notifiable disease due to possible exposure to the said disease. At present, every individual in the Philippines, who are under enhanced community quarantine, may be considered as persons affected by the health event of public concern, the novel Covid-19 disease. Thus, in case of deliberate disobedience or noncompliance by these persons, they are disputably liable under the law.

Lastly, the fifth prohibited act is: “Tampering of records or intentionally providing misinformation“, whichpunishes individuals tampering medical records or intentionally provides false information or misinformation of their medical condition and records. Thus, it can be argued that a patient who maliciously fails to provide accurate information about his or her medical history or travel history may be held liable under this law. More so, a person may be arguably liable if his or her false information or misrepresentation has caused imminent danger to the lives of other people.

While waiting for a test case involving the legal issues on-hand, it can also be noted that the Department of Health has yet to issue the implementing rules and regulations of the said law.

In the meantime, we urge everyone to fully and correctly disclose all information on one’s medical condition and travel history. Lying about these matters will not in any way aid in eliminating or controlling the disease. It will only make the situation worse for everyone and for all the front liners who are supposed to help us.

To protect ourselves and families from this Covid-19 disease,  let us continue monitoring the developments and follow the advisories coming from the Department of Health, World Health Organization and similar concerned government agencies in terms of the relevant policies and procedures, public information, quarantine process. Of similar importance, let it be our moral responsibility to verify first the information we are receiving about this pandemic before clicking that share button.

A full copy of Republic Act No. 11332 may be accessed through this link.

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: http://mfbr.com.ph/

Grant of COVID-19 Hazard Pay to Government Employees

By: Ira Christele G. Vicente

On 23 March 2020, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Administrative Order No. 26 Series of 2020 which grants Corona Virus Disease – 2019 Hazard Pay to government employees who are physically reporting to work during the duration of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

Who may grant the COVID-19 Hazard Pay?

  1. National Government Agencies (NGAs);
  2. State Universities and Colleges (SUCs); and
  3. Government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCC).

Who are entitled to receive the COVID-19 Hazard Pay?

  1. Government personnel who physically report for work during the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine. Government personnel includes not only those regularly employed, but also those workers engaged through contract of service (COS) or job order (JO). This includes government employees in the executive branch. The legislative and judicial branches, as well as other offices vested with fiscal autonomy, may likewise grant COVID-19 Hazard Pay.
  2. For Local Government Units, Local Water Districts, and Agencies exempted from the Coverage of Republic Act No. 6758, employees who physically report for work during the quarantine period may also be granted the COVID-19 Hazard Pay as may be determined by their respective Sanggunians, Board of Directors, or governing boards or agency heads.
  3. For health workers in the private sector, private hospitals and other health facilities are strongly encouraged to grant the same to its workers.

Note: If the said individual is already entitled to Hazard Pay, Hazardous Duty Pay, Hazard Allowance, or other similar benefits, they shall continue to be entitled to such benefits, or the COVID-19 Hazard Pay, whichever is higher.

How much will be the COVID-19 Hazard Pay?

  • It shall not be more than Five Hundred Pesos (P500.00).

How will it be computed?

COVID-19 Hazard Pay    =    P500.00      x  Number of days physically reporting for work during the quarantine period

Note: Should there be insufficient funds to fully cover the COVID-19 Hazard Pay at the rate of P500.00 per day per person, a lower but uniform rate may be granted for all qualified personnel.

When can we start receiving the COVID-19 Hazard Pay?

  • From 17 March 2020, onwards.

What are the conditions for the grant of COVID-19 Hazard Pay?

  1. The personnel are occupying regular, contractual, or casual positions or are engaged through COS, JO, or other similar schemes;
  2. They have been authorized to physically report for work at their respective offices or work stations on the prescribed official working hours by the head of agency or office during the ECQ in the area of such work office or station; and
  3. The rate of COVID-19 Hazard Pay shall be based on the no. of days an employee physically reports for work.

The guidelines for the grant of COVID-19 Hazard Pay are yet to be issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

We will keep you posted.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

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