2013 Political Law Exam Essay Questions

October 21, 2013
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I.

In the last quarter of 2012, about 5,000 container vans of imported goods intended for the Christmas Season were seized by agents of the Bureau of Customs. The imported goods were released only on January 10,2013. A group of importers got together and filed an action for damages before the Regional Trial Court of Manila against the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Customs.

The Bureau of Customs raised the defense of immunity from suit and, alternatively, that liability should lie with XYZ Corp. which the Bureau had contracted for the lease of ten (10) high powered van cranes but delivered only five (5) of these cranes, thus causing the delay in its cargo-handling operations. It appears that the Bureau, despite demand, did not pay XYZ Corp. the Php 1.0 Million deposit and advance rental required under their contract.

(A) Will the action by the group of importers prosper? (5%)

(B) Can XYZ Corp. sue the Bureau of Customs to collect rentals for the delivered cranes? (5’%)

II.

While Congress was in session, the President appointed eight acting Secretaries. A group of Senators from the minority bloc questioned the validity of the appointments in a petition before the Supreme Court on the ground that while Congress is in session, no appointment that requires confirmation by the Commission on Appointments, can be made without the latter’s consent, and that an undersecretary should instead be designated as Acting Secretary.

Should the petition be granted? (5%)

III.

A robbery with homicide had taken place and Lito, Badong and Rolliewere invited for questioning based on the information furnished by a neighbor that he saw them come out of the victim’s house at about the time of the robbery/killing. The police confronted the three with this and other information they had gathered, and pointedly accused them of committing the crime.

Lito initially resisted, but eventually broke down and admitted his participation in the crime. Elated by this break and desirous of securing a written confession soonest, the police called City Attorney Juan Buan to serve as the trio’s counsel and to advise them about their rights during the investigation.

Badong and Rollie, weakened in spirit by Lito’s early admission, likewise admitted their participation. The trio thus signed a joint extra-judicial confession which served as the main evidence against them at their trial. They were convicted based on their confession.

Should the judgment of conviction be affirmed or reversed on appeal? (5%)

IV.

Congress enacted a law providing for trial by jury for those charged with crimes or offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. The law provides for the qualifications of members of the jury, the guidelines for the bar and bench for their selection, the manner a trial by jury shall operate, and the procedures to be followed.

Is the law constitutional? (6%)

V.

As a leading member of the Lapiang Mandirigma in the House of Representatives, you were tasked by the party to initiate the moves to impeach the President because he entered into an executive agreement with the US Ambassador for the use of the former Subic Naval Base by the US Navy, for free, i.e., without need to pay rent nor any kind of fees as a show of goodwill to the U.S. because of the continuing harmonious RP-US relations.

Cite at least two (2) grounds for impeachment and explain why you chose them. (6%)

VI.

Congress passed Republic Act No. 7711 to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In a petition filed with the Supreme Court, Anak Ti Ilocos, an association of Ilocano professionals, argued that Republic Act No. 7711discarded the definition of the Philippine territory under the Treaty of Paris and in related treaties; excluded the Kalayaan Islands and the Scarborough Shoals from the Philippine Archipelagic baselines; and converted internal waters into archipelagic waters.

Is the petition meritorious? (6%)

VII.

As he was entering a bar, Arnold -who was holding an unlit cigarette in his right hand -was handed a match box by someone standing near the doorway. Arnold unthinkingly opened the matchbox to light his cigarette and as he did so, a sprinkle of dried leaves fell out, which the guard noticed. The guard immediately frisked Arnold, grabbed the matchbox, and sniffed its contents. After confirming that the matchbox contained marijuana, he immediately arrested Arnold and called in the police.

At the police station, the guard narrated to the police that he personally caught Arnold in possession of dried marijuana leaves. Arnold did not contest the guard’s statement; he steadfastly remained silent and refused to give any written statement. Later in court, the guard testified and narrated the statements he gave the police over Arnold’s counsel’s objections. While Arnold presented his own witnesses to prove that his possession and apprehension had been set-up, he himself did not testify.

The court convicted Arnold, relying largely on his admission of the charge by silence at the police investigation and during trial.

From the constitutional law perspective, was the court correct in its ruling? (6%)

VIII.

Bobby, an incoming third year college student, was denied admission by his university, a premiere educational institution in Manila, after he failed in three (3) major subjects in his sophomore year. The denial of admission was based on the university’s rules and admission policies.

Unable to cope with the depression that his non-admission triggered, Bobby committed suicide. His family sued the school for damages, citing the school’s grossly unreasonable rules that resulted in the denial of admission. They argued that these rules violated Bobby’s human rights and the priority consideration that the Constitution gives to the education of the youth.

You are counsel for the university. Explain your arguments in support of the university’s case. (6%)

IX.

Conrad is widely known in the neighborhood as a drug addict. He is also suspected of being a member of the notorious “Akyat-Condo Gang” that has previously broken into and looted condominium units in the area.

Retired Army Colonel Sangre – who is known as an anti-terrorism fighter who disdained human and constitutional rights and has been nicknamed “terror of Mindanao” –is now the Head of Security of Capricorn Land Corporation, the owner and developer of Sagittarius Estates where a series of robberies has recently taken place.

On March l, 2013, Conrad informed his mother, Vannie, that uniformed security guards had invited him for a talk in their office but he refused to come. Later that day, however, Conrad appeared to have relented; he was seen walking into the security office flanked by two security guards. Nobody saw him leave the office afterwards.

Conrad did not go home that night and was never seen again. The following week and after a week-long search, Vannie feared the worst because of Col. Sangre’s reputation. She thus reported Conrad’s disappearance to the police. When nothing concrete resulted from the police investigation, Vannie – at the advice of counsel – f1led a petition for a writ of amparo to compel Col. Sangre and the Sagittarius Security Office to produce Conrad and to hold them liable and responsible for Conrad’s disappearance.

(A) Did Vannie’s counsel give the correct legal advice? (6%)

(B) If the petition would prosper, can Col. Sangre be held liable and/or responsible for Conrad’s disappearance? (6%)

X.

The Ambassador of the Republic of Kafiristan referred to you for handling, the case of the Embassy’s Maintenance Agreement with CBM, a private domestic company engaged in maintenance work. The Agreement binds CBM, for a defined fee, to maintain the Embassy’s elevators, air-conditioning units and electrical facilities. Section 10 of the Agreement provides that the Agreement shall be governed by Philippine laws and that any legal action shall be brought before the proper court of Makati. Kafiristan terminated the Agreement because CBM allegedly did not comply with their agreed maintenance standards.

CBM contested the tennination and filed a complaint againstKafiristan before the Regional Trial Court of Makati. The Ambassador wants you to file a motion to dismiss on the ground of state immunity from suit and to oppose the position that under Section 10 of the Agreement, Kafiristan expressly waives its immunity from suit.

Under these facts, can the Embassy successfully invoke immunity from suit? (6%)

XI.

In her interview before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC),Commissioner Annie Amorsolo of the National Labor Relations Commission claims that she should be given credit for judicial service because as NLRC Commissioner, she has the rank of a Justice of the Court of Appeals; she adjudicates cases that are appealable to the Court of Appeals; she is assigned car plate No. 10; and she is, by law, entitled to the rank, benefits and privileges of a Court of Appeals Justice.

If you are a member of the JBC, would you give credit to this explanation? (6%)

XII.

In the May 2013 elections, the Allied Workers’ Group of the Philippines (AWGP), representing land-based and sea-based workers in the Philippines and overseas, won in the party list congressional elections. Atty. Abling, a labor lawyer, is its nominee.

As part of the party’s advocacy and services, Congressman Abling engages in labor counseling, particularly for local workers with claims against their employers and for those who need representation in collective bargaining negotiations with employers. When labor cases arise, AWGP enters its appearance in representation of the workers and the Congressman makes it a point to be there to accompany the workers, although a retained counsel also formally enters his appearance and is invariably there. Congressman Abling largely takes a passive role in the proceedings although he occasionally speaks to supplement the retained counsel’s statements. It is otherwise in CBA negotiations where he actively participates.

Management lawyers, feeling that a congressman should not actively participate in cases before labor tribunals and before employers because of the influence a congressman can wield, filed a disbarment case against the Congressman before the Supreme Court for his violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility and for breach of trust, in relation particularly with the prohibitions on legislators under the Constitution.

Is the cited ground for disbarment meritorious? (6%)

 

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