The following is a letter sent by this columnist on July 17, 2014 to the Hon. Henedina R. Abad, Congresswoman, Lone District of Batanes. A reply from her office was received on September 1, 2014. The letter was sent to her and not to any other representative of Congress, thinking that she does not have to contend with any local media in her turf.
July 16, 2014
HON. HENEDINA R. ABAD
Congresswoman, Lone District of Batanes
Room N-307, House of Representatives, QC
Through: Mr. Walter M. Estamo
Chief of Staff
Subject: Request that your office file a new law or amend PD 1079
Dear Hon. Abad:
With all due respect, the undersigned would like to bring to your attention what I believe is no longer a relevant and outmoded law.
When PD 1079 was enacted on January 28, 1977 I am certain that the intent and purpose of the law was indeed relevant and essential; however, due to technological advancements in internet and even digital technology, exposure through local newspaper (most local newspapers at that except for a few) has now become a minor means for information dissemination purposes.
Given the not so ideal current economic conditions of Juan dela Cruz, the PD 1079 appears to be discriminatory and goes against a free and open competitive market that causes unnecessary financial burden and/or costs on litigants. At present, local newspapers maintain judicial publication rates that could range at a low of P 160.00/per column inch ( standard Benguet rate) and P 180.00/per column inch ( standard Baguio rate) to a high of several hundreds per column centimeter. Some of these rates are even ridiculously higher that nationally circulated tabloids or broadsheets.
In fact, take for example in Baguio City, to date there are around fifteen (15) local newspapers and the number is increasing. For such a small city like Baguio, I can only surmise that the Baguio Residents are such voracious newspaper readers and/or the Baguio newspaper publishing market must be that big, or could it be that some of these local newspapers are up and around brought about by the evident revenue from judicial publications? After all there are no regulations on the number of copies to be printed per issue and likewise no auditing requirements on the number of copies a newspaper is publishing .
It is a fact, a court litigant already has to contend with filing and legal fees; however, pauper litigants and similar not so financially well off litigants are allowed by the courts a reduction or no filing fees; likewise litigants who cannot afford the services of a private lawyer ( although there are countless choices for legal services) have the option to avail of the services of the PAO lawyers, whereas, should there be judicial publication requirements, the litigant has no choice but to contend with the usually pre-set and agreed publication rates among local publishers which is raffled off to the newspaper publications, and the litigant cannot choose his/her choice of publication.
In view of this, even without the benefit of a thorough study and assessment of the whole Philippine situation on the irrelevance and the discriminatory value of the PD 1079, I am sure that if your office conducts the exhaustive research, your Honorable Office will realize the need to either amend and/or totally scrap the outmoded, and irrelevant PD 1079. I am sure that should your Honorable Office need endorsements of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the Supreme Court (SC), these institutions would certainly be amenable to a change for the better system, a system or a law not as burdensome for Juan dela Cruz as what PD 1079 is all about.
In view of this, I humbly propose the following general suggestions:
1. Perhaps, the new law can consider and make use of Internet and/or Social Media which certainly is a lot cheaper and with a farther and wider information dissemination base, and costs if any to the litigants would be nil!
2. Perhaps the current website of the supreme court etc…, could simply be expanded and a portal for this purpose per judicial region could be added?
3. Should the continued use of print newspapers be used, free and competitive market forces should come into play so as to allow the litigant the option to seek or choose for the lowest available publication.
4. Should the continued use of print newspapers be used, minimum number of copies in tuned with the times should be set and an independent and reliable auditing mechanism should be in place to ascertain the true number of copies printed.
Herewith attached are photocopies of the following:
1. PD 1079
2. Supreme Court Circular A.M. No. 01-1-07-SC dated October 16, 2001
3. Various publication rates/quotations (national- local papers) as of year 2012
4. Article/Column of Rafael Alunan at the Business World, July 15, 2014
Finally, your Honorable Congresswoman is thinking that of all persons to make this suggestion, why a newspaper publisher at that; and should a new law come into being whatever obvious revenue is being derived may be gone? In all honesty, I have been living with this irrelevant law that I have, on countless occasions, seen the unnecessary financial hassle and burden caused by PD 1079 to Juan dela Cruz.
Freddie J. Farres
De Facto Publisher
CC: Office of the Chief Justice, Supreme Court (SC)
Integrated Bar of the Philippines(IBP)