legal tidbits

since i got back from south cotabato two weeks ago, my breakfasts have consisted mostly of tropical fruit tidbits from dole: our local partner sent me back to manila with a box. it's pretty darn healthy, i am sure, and i read somewhere that fruits should be eaten on an empty stomach. so i've derived some inspiration from my daily morning meals for this entry.

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i caught a brief segment of "the buzz" over the weekend where claudine barretto and raymart santiago heavily criticized the outcome of the criminal investigation of their daughter's alleged stalker, who was slapped with charges of unjust vexation, a light offense, although all arrows seem to point to a plan to kidnap the couple's daughter. claudine and raymart both said that the law on serious illegal detention (the legal appellation for what non-lawyers refer to as "kidnapping") was deficient and lacked the appropriate safeguards and even called on congress to review and possibly amend the law to provide an additional mantle of protection to children.

although i am not a parent, i can understand how claudine's emotions clouded her better judgment. the fact is, the "stalker" never managed to touch claudine's daughter, or get within an uncomfortable distance to actually carry out her dastardly motives. our criminal laws punish actions and not ideas (there are very few exceptions: plotting to oust the government is under certain circumstances punishable, but conspiracy to commit murder, or planning to rob a bank, if not carried out, are not crimes). minority report is science fiction, and intentions, however criminal or heinous, are not contrary to law per se. it's not as disturbing as it sounds, if you think about it.

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i'm not really sure if DJs should be allowed to express their opinions on the air about topics beyond their normal understanding. everyone has a right to express his or her opinions, but to inflict your lack of erudition to the public is something else. sometimes, most ideas are better left in the private space of friends over bottles of beer or shots of alcohol. the tragedy that struck the ateneo grade school a few weeks back confounds many of us, including myself, but once again, to bewail the fact that the mother responsible for the senseless death of a boy was released on bail is complete bollocks. bail is a right guaranteed by the constitution, and reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, regardless of the implausible and unacceptable circumstances surrounding it, is not classified as a heinous offense which carries the penalty of reclusion perpetua. i doubt whether those DJs would still be so deeply affected by this incident shortly after other more "juicy" topics crop up.

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i got to speak with gary granada yesterday over an issue which i unwittingly sparked, and he no longer recognizes me although he bought me several bottles of beer at freedom bar many years back when he still had hair, had a much shorter mustache, and had just won the metropop song festival for "mabuti pa sila".

i will most likely blog about this in further detail at some future time, but lately, i've noticed that copyright infringement or violation of copyright, seem to be in currency lately. i have earlier expressed my doubts on whether gary had any cause of action against the kapuso foundation for the alleged violation of his copyright over the arrangement of a song, and a word he introduced to its lyrics. but that is me speaking as a lawyer, and not as an artist. i think that a lot of artists -- which i use in its broadest sense -- are becoming overly sensitive about their rights. to be very clear, our intellectual property laws are not meant to give artists absolute control over their work, but was crafted to encourage and inspire the creation of works.

due to our treaty obligations, violations of copyright have been expanded to cover many actions which initially appear to be innocent or with no ill-intentions. nonetheless, i think that artists should be less concerned about the finer details of the law, and should focus on the bigger picture: bootlegging, piracy, and plagiarism. attention should be focused equally on the impairment of both economic and moral rights.

i myself may have misunderstood copyright infringement back in 1995 when a prominent writer published a story exactly like mine, except that he had written it in filipino. the laws on intellectual property unfortunately state that there can be no copyright over an idea or a concept. at the very least, this writer was intellectually dishonest, or had resorted to intellectual theft, which is so abstract, the law doesn't punish it.

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let me make this very clear: i do not like chiz escudero at all. he may come across as smart to some, but i think of him as a hack and a sham. he's the same person who opined on AM radio that the philippines has no law prohibiting persons from kissing in a movie house, but that they may be held liable for the crime of alarms and scandals. now, chiz is calling on the government to buy-out the MRT-3 because the sovereign guarantee of the consortium's profits is taxing our national coffers. think of it this way: each taxpayer, from as far north as batanes, and as far south as jolo, is contributing to the fare of every single passenger on the MRT-3. the current fare of PhP14 is less than a third of the actual cost of a ride. what irks me presently is that chiz now comes with this clarion call, and says it with so much conviction it almost sounds original (he says: "based on my calculations"). the plan to buyout the MRT-3, however, has been in the works for the longest time. so this urgent call by chiz is not based on some flash of brilliance, or inspired by a desire to solve the woes of the country. i doubt whether his staff had to do any research on this because the DOTC has the issue pretty well-documented. the only original idea he had contributed to the issue is the phrase "ghost riders" which isn't even cute, and only reveals chiz's comic book preferences. i hate legislators who make noise, not laws.

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i had a lively discussion in the wee hours of this morning about the law, and it touched on the subject of nicole and her supposed recantation. so anyway, it just amuses me how non-lawyers often ask lawyers about sex crimes, as though they're planning to commit some lurid offense on someone else soon. but let me just state the following:

  • even a prostitute may be raped;

  • a wife may charge her husband of rape;

  • marriage to your offender absolves him of the crime of rape;

  • a man may be raped, not by forcible fellatio, but by sexual assault: inserting a blunt object into his anus;

  • a woman can commit the crime of sexual assault;

  • the term "statutory rape" isn't mentioned in the revised penal code;

  • consensual sex with a woman above 12 and below 18 isn't rape -- however, be aware of the crimes of qualified and simple seduction;

  • rape is now a crime against persons, not against chastity;

Is a threat a crime, if the action implied in the threat is not actually carried out?

Is there such a thing as a "non-serious" illegal detention? Maybe it's a grammar failing by our first lawmakers? When we write some crime reports our Brit subs would be confused if we used "frustrated" murder, which is the exact term used in Philippine courts, instead of attempted murder.
good question.

the crime of grave threats is actually defined in our penal code. it refers to a verbalized theat, such as: susunugin ko ang bahay mo, walang hiya ka! while carrying a molotov cocktail, or pupulbusin ko ang lahi mo hayup ka! while carrying a bottle of johnson's (joke). it's different from merely saying: sasampalin kita! the trick here is that the threat amounts to an act which is a crime against ther person, honor, or property or another person or his family. there are also light threats, when a person threatens to commit something that's not a crime, and conditioned on something (i.e., blackmail). example: pag hindi mo ako binigyan ng ticket sa PBA, isusumbong ko sa boss mo yung pag-internet mo ng buong araw sa office.

kidnapping is also mentioned in the penal code by the way. and yes, there is "non serious" illegal detention called slight illegal detention.

there are also levels of commission of a crime: it may be attempted, frustrated, and completed.

our legal system is a mongrel: it adopts common law concepts from the americans, and civil law foundations from spain. ay, don't get me started on this. baka marami akong maling nasabi. haha.

speaking of radio... i never liked korina sanchez/almost hating her actually.

but have you heard her last wednesday morning?! she was bashing/lashing nicole. gaaad it was so wrong!

they are entitled to their own opinions and they could air it but they should know their limits... esp. when they can actually influence other people's views. they should be more responsible. it super pissed me off.
korina isn't the only one who has an agenda -- a misguided one, to be precise -- in the kapamilya network. i have never liked her as well, because her opinions are skewed.