Sobrejuanite-Flores vs. Pilando, Jr., GR No. 251816, November 23, 2021

SC Upholds Validity of Sec. 16(c) of the Rules Implementing the Philippine Psychology Act

From Supreme Court Media Release:

Underscoring the importance of the well-being and mental health of the Filipino people, the Supreme Court has upheld the interference of the State in the practice of psychology.

“Psychology involves the application of scientific methods to inquire into the biological, cognitive, affective, developmental, personality, social, cultural, and individual difference dimensions of human behavior. No one can deny that the competent practice of psychology is a legitimate objective of governmental effort and regulation,” emphasized the Court, as it unanimously declared not unconstitutional the provisions of Section 16(c) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 10029, or the Philippine Psychology Act of 2009.

The assailed provision granted a period for practitioners to register as psychologists without examination and crafted sufficient standards on who may avail the exemption measured in terms of educational attainment and work experience. Specifically, the law provides that applicants who have Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology may be registered without examination if they accumulated a “minimum of ten (10) years of work experience in the practice of psychology as a psychology” and “updated their professional education in various psychology-related functions.”

“We find no constitutional violation to pronounce void Section 16(c) of the IRR of RA No. 10029. Every administrative regulation has the force of law and has in its favor the presumption of validity. The regulation may be nullified only upon clear and unequivocal constitutional breach and not one that is speculative or argumentative,” said the Court in its Decision penned by Justice Mario V. Lopez.

The case stemmed from the petition for review certiorari filed by Florentina Caoyong Sobrejuanite-Flores assailing the May 21, 2019 Decision of the Court of Appeals, which upheld the validity of the administrative regulation and  affirmed the factual findings of the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) and the Board of Psychology (BOP) that petitioner Florentina was not qualified to avail the exemption, or to register with as psychologist without examination pursuant to the assailed Section 16(c) provisions.

The IRR of RA No. 10029, approved on November 28, 2012, provides a window period for registration without examination for psychologists within three years after the creation of the BOP, or until May 21, 2015.

On May 7, 2015, Florentina applied for registration as a psychologist without examination but the BOP rejected her application on the ground that she had insufficient work experience and had not updated her professional education. Aggrieved, Florentina appealed to the PRC, which also denied her appeal for her failure to substantiate her claim that she worked as a psychologist for a minimum accumulated period of 10 years and for her failure to update her professional education. She elevated her case to the CA, but her appeal was also denied.

In the case at bar, the Supreme Court stressed that Florentina is not assailing the propriety of the Section 16 of RA No. 10029 on registration without examination but only the validity of Section 16(c) of its IRR.

The Court held that RA No. 10029 satisfied the completeness test and standard test which renders valid the delegation of legislative powers.

The Court noted that the completion of at least 100 hours of updating workshops and training programs under Section 16(c) of the IRR of RA No. 10029 can hardly be considered oppressive, as argued by Florentina. It stressed that “[t]he practice of psychology inherently entails the employment of current and effective approaches well-adaptive to the dynamic, evolving, and complex facts of human behavior. To consider the required updating workshops and training programs as onerous would condone a lackluster desire of the part of psychologists to harness their craft and develop their expertise.”

The Court added that the assailed proviso “is not in conflict with the equal protection clause which simply provides that all persons or things similarly situated should be treated in a similar manner, both as to rights conferred and responsibilities imposed.

Furthermore, the Court held that the same “emanates from the valid exercise of police power to prescribe regulations that may interfere with personal liberty or property to promote the general welfare of the people.”

Aside from not finding any constitutional violation, the Court agreed with the CA, the PRC, and the BOP that petitioner Florentina is not qualified to avail of the exemption. It noted that Florentina’s claim that she worked since 1980 as a school psychologist, counselling psychologist, industrial psychologist, and migrant psychologist was unsubstantiated.

Records revealed that Florentina started working as a psychologist only in March 2004 or for a period of six years and two months from the effectivity of the law on June 2, 2010. Hence, she was not qualified to avail of the exemption as stated in the assailed Section 16(c).

Justice Marvic M.V. F. Leonen wrote a separate concurring opinion.


The Principle of Separation of Church and State

The Separation of Church and State prohibits the State (government) from establishing an official state religion and the use of public money to support such religion. The Separation of Church and State does not prohibit the Church from getting involved in politics as its members can freely exercise their rights and obligations as citizens of the country. 


The principle of separation of Church and State is based on mutual respect. Generally, the State cannot meddle in the internal affairs of the church, much less question its faith and dogmas or dictate upon it. It cannot favor one religion and discriminate against another. On the other hand,  the church cannot impose its beliefs and convictions on the State and the rest of the citizenry. It cannot demand that the nation follow its beliefs, even if it sincerely believes that they are good for the country. (Imbong vs. Ochoa,  G.R. No. 204819, April 8, 2014) 


The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable. (Sec. 6, Art. II, 1987 Constitution) No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights. (Sec. 5, Art. III, 1987 Constitution) 


The purpose of the religion clauses in the restriction it imposes on the power of the  government to interfere with the free exercise of religion and the limitation on the power of government to establish, aid, and support religion is the protection and promotion of religious liberty. (Estrada vs. Escritor, A.M. No. P-02- 1651, August 4, 2003) 


The concept of the non-establishment clause prohibits the establishment of a state religion and the use of public resources for the support or prohibition of a religion. (Imbong v. Ochoa, G.R. No. 204819, April 8, 2014). Its minimal sense is that the State cannot establish or sponsor an official religion. (Re: Letter of Tony Valenciano, A.M. No. 10-4-19-SC, March 7, 2017) 


Philippine Election: Qualifications of National and Local Candidates

Here are the Qualifications of National and Local Candidates in Philippine Elections

I. National level

A. For President and Vice-President 

  1. Natural-born citizen
  2. At least 40 years old on the day of the election
  3. Able to read and write
  4. Registered voter; and 
  5. Resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years
    immediately preceding the day of the election

B. For Senator 

  1. Natural-born citizen;
  2. At least 35 years old on the day of the election;
  3. Able to read and write;
  4. Registered voter; and
  5. Resident of the Philippines for not less than two years immediately preceding the day of the election 

II. Local Level

A. For District Representatives 

  1. Natural-born citizen;
  2. Registered voter in the district in which he shall be elected;
  3. Resident of the same district for a period not less than one year immediately preceding the day of the election;
  4. Able to read and write; and
  5. At least 25 years old on the day of the election

B. For Governor, Vice Governor, Mayor, Vice-Mayor, Punong Barangay and Sangguniang Members 

  1. Citizen of the Philippines; 
  2. Registered voter in the barangay, municipality,
    city, or province or, in the case of a member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sangguniang Panlungsod, or Sangguniang Bayan, the district where he intends to be elected; 
  3. Resident therein for at least one year immediately preceding the day of the election; 
  4. Able to read and write Filipino or any other local language or dialect
Jurisprudence Political Law

Hard Law vs. Soft Law in International Law

Distinguish Hard Law and Soft Law in International Law

Hard Law

Means binding laws; to constitute law, a rule, instrument or decision must be authoritative and prescriptive. In international law, hard law includes treaties or international agreements, as well as customary laws. These instruments result in legally enforceable commitments for countries (states) and other international subjects. 

Soft Law

These are non-binding rules of international law. Soft law is of relevance and importance to the development of international law because it: (1) has the potential of law-making, i.e. it may be a starting point for later ‘hardening’ of non-binding provisions (e.g. UNGA resolutions may be translated into binding treaties); (2) may provide evidence of an existing customary rule; (3) may be formative of the opinio juris or of State practice that creates a new customary rule; (4) may be helpful as a means of a purposive interpretation of international law; (5) may be incorporated within binding treaties but in provisions which the parties do not intend to be binding; and (6) may in other ways assist in the development and application of general international law.

The importance of soft law is emphasized by the fact that not only States but also non-State actors participate in the international law-making process through the creation of soft law. Nevertheless, soft law is made up of rules lacking binding force, and the general view is that it should not be considered as an independent, formal source of international law despite the fact that it may produce significant legal effects. 

Jurisprudence Other Articles

13 Things You Should Know About 13th Month Pay

#1. What is “13th month pay”?

It is a mandatory benefit provided to employees pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 851 (PD No. 851) which requires employers to grant 13th month pay to all its rank and file employees. PD No. 851 further provides that the Christmas season is an opportune time for society to show its concern for the plight of the working masses so they may properly celebrate Christmas and New Year.

#2. Bonus is different from 13th month pay

Bonus is an amount granted to an employee in excess of what the law requires as a reward or incentive for achieving a goal and/or contributing to the success of the employer’s business. Unlike 13th month pay, a bonus is given out of the employer’s generosity and is not a demandable and enforceable obligation, unless when it has been made part of the wage or made the subject of an express agreement.

#3. When should the 13th month pay be paid?

It should be paid not later than December 24 of each year. An employer, however, may give to his employees one-half of the 13th month pay before the opening of the regular school year and the other half on or before the 24th day of December of every year.

#4. Who are covered or entitled to the 13th month pay?

All rank-and-file employees who have worked for at least one (1) month during the calendar year, are entitled to receive 13th month pay regardless of the nature of their employment and irrespective of the methods by which their wages are paid. 

#5. Who are rank-and-file employees?

All employees not considered managerial employees are considered rank-and-file employees.  A managerial employee is one who is vested with powers or prerogatives to lay down and execute management policies and/or to hire, transfer, suspend, lay-off, recall, discharge, assign or discipline employees, or to effectively recommend such managerial actions.

#6. Are there employers who are exempted from paying 13th month?

Yes.  The following employers are exempted from paying 13th month pay under PD 851:

 a)  The government and any of its political subdivisions, including government-owned and controlled corporations, except those corporations operating essentially as private subsidiaries of the Government;

 b)   Employers who are already paying their employees 13th month pay or more in a calendar year or its equivalent at the time of the issuance of PD 851;

 c)   Employers of persons in the personal service of another in relation to such workers; and

 d)   Employers of those who are paid on purely commission, boundary, or task basis, and those who are paid a fixed amount for performing specific work, irrespective of the time consumed in the performance thereof, except those workers who are paid on piece-rate basis, in which case the employer shall grant such workers the required 13th month pay.

#7. How is 13th month pay computed?

The minimum 13th month pay required by law shall not be less than one-twelfth of the total basic salary earned by an employee within a calendar year. 

#8. What does “basic salary” comprise of?

The “basic salary” of an employee for the purpose of computing the 13th month pay shall include all remunerations or earning paid by this employer for services rendered but does not include allowances and monetary benefits which are not considered or integrated as part of the regular or basic salary, such as the cash equivalent of unused vacation and sick leave credits, overtime, premium, night differential and holiday pay, and cost-of-living allowances. However, these salary-related benefits should be included as part of the basic salary in the computation of the 13th month pay if by individual or collective agreement, company practice or policy, the same are treated as part of the basic salary of the employees.

#9.  13th Month Pay for Certain Types of Employees

(a)  Employees Paid by Results. — Employees who are paid on piece work basis are by law entitled to the 13th month pay. Employees who are paid a fixed or guaranteed wage plus commission are also entitled to the mandated 13th month pay, based on their total earnings during the calendar year, i.e., on both their fixed or guaranteed wage and commission.

(b)  Those with Multiple Employers. — Government employees working part time in a private enterprise, including private educational institutions, as well as employees working in two or more private firms, whether on full or part time basis, are entitled to the required 13th month pay from all their private employers regardless of their total earnings from each or all their employers.

(c)  Private School Teachers. — Private school teachers, including faculty members of universities and colleges, are entitled to the required 13th month pay, regardless of the number of months they teach or are paid within a year, if they have rendered service for at least one (1) month within a year.

#10. Are resigned or separated/terminated employees entitled to 13th month pay? 

Yes.  An employee who has resigned or whose services were terminated at any time before the time for payment of 13th month is still entitled to the benefit.  

#11. How much is the 13th month pay of a resigned or separated/ terminated employee?

The 13th month pay of a resigned or separated/terminated employee is in proportion to the length of time he or she has worked during the year, reckoned (a) from the time she has starting working during the calendar year or (b) the time the last 13th month pay was given, up to the time of his/her resignation or separation/termination from the service. Thus, if he/she worked only from January to September, his/her 13th month pay shall be equal to 1/12 of his total basic salary earned during that period

#12. Are maternity leave benefits included in the computation of 13th month pay?

 No. Maternity leave benefits are not included in the computation of 13th month pay.

 To illustrate, assuming that a female employee is receiving a monthly salary of P10,000.00 and was on maternity leave from June 1 to July 31, 2020:

  P8,333.33 is the proportionate 13th month pay of a female employee who was on maternity leave from June 1 to July 31, 2020.

#13. Is 13th month pay taxable?

In the Philippines, employees are entitled to an exemption from income tax in relation to benefits/allowances up to the total value of Ninety Thousand Pesos (₱90,000.00) each year. This means that if the total value of the 13th Month Pay benefit combined with any other allowances or benefits received by an employee during the year, does not exceed ₱90,000, such benefits/allowances will be exempt from income tax. 

However, the value of any such benefits or allowances over and above the ₱90,000 will be subject to income tax for the relevant year and should be deducted at source by the employer (i.e. the excess will be subject to income tax).  


Jurisprudence Criminal Law

Insanity as Exempting Circumstances

Accuse-appellant must thus prove that he was completely deprived of reason when he killed his father in order to be exempt for parricide.

There is nothing either in the report of Dr. Gerona or his testimony which indubitably show that accused-appellant was completely without reason when he killed his father because the latter wanted him to leave the house.

The defense of insanity is in the nature of confession and avoidance and, like the justifying circumstance of self- defense, the burden is on the defense to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was insane immediately before the commission of the crime or at the very moment of its execution.

Although schizophrenia is not exempting if it does not completely deprive the offender of the consciousness of his acts, it may nevertheless be considered mitigating under Art 13 (9) if it diminishes the exercise of his will power. (PEOPLE vs. BANEZ, G.R. No. 125849, January 20, 1999)

Jurisprudence Criminal Law

Obedience to Order of a Superior Officer

The subordinate who, in following an order of the superior, failed to observe all auditing procedures of disbursement, cannot escape responsibility for such omission; but where he acted in good faith, his liability should only be administrative or civil in nature, not criminal. (TABUENA vs. SANDIGANBAYAN. G.R. Nos. 103501-03. February 17,1997)

Jurisprudence Criminal Law


Self-defense is man’s inborn right. In a physical assault, retaliation becomes unlawful after the attack has ceased, because there would be no further harm to repel.

But that is not the case when it is aimed at a person’s good name.

Once the aspersion is cast its sting clings and the one thus defamed may avail himself of all the necessary means to shake it off.

He may hit back with another libel which, if adequate, will be justified. (PEOPLE vs. HIONG. No. 10413-R. October 20, 1954)

If there is no unlawful aggression, there is nothing to prevent or to repel and the second requisite of self-defense would have no basis.

Even if we allow appellant’s contention that Tuquero was the initial unlawful aggressor, we still cannot sustain his plea of self-defense.

After appellant successfully wrested the knife from Tuquero, the unlawful aggression had ceased.

After the unlawful aggression has ceased, the one making the defense has no more right to kill or even wound the former aggressor.

The presence of large number of wounds on the part of the victim, their nature and location disprove self-defense and instead indicate a determined effort to kill the victim. (PEOPLE vs. SO, G.R. No.104664. August 28, 1995)

Plainly, the accused-appellant could no longer retreat from the continuing assault by the victim who, as inexorably shown by his relentless advance towards the accused-appellant, was poised to kill the latter.
The danger to the accused-appellant’s life was clearly imminent.

It would not then be proper nor reasonable to claim that he should have fled or selected a less deadly weapon, because in the emergency in which, without any reason whatever, he was placed, there was nothing more natural than to use the weapon he had to defend himself.

In the natural order of the things, following the instinct of self-preservation, he was compelled to resort to a proper defense.

It is settled that reasonable necessity of the means employed does not imply material commensurability between the means of attack and defense.

What the law requires is rational equivalence, in the consideration of which will enter the principal factors the emergency, the imminent danger to which the person attacked is exposed, and the instinct more than the reason, that moves or impels the defense, and the proportionateness thereof does not depend upon the harm done, but rests upon the imminent danger of such injury. (PEOPLE vs. GUTUAL. G.R. No. 115233. February 22,1996).

The actuation of deceased Fleischer in angrily ordering the continuance of the fencing would have resulted in the further chiseling of the walls of appellant’s house as well as the closure of the access to and from his house and his rice mill—which were not only imminent but were actually in progress.

There is no question, therefore, that there was aggression on the part of the victims: Fleischer was ordering, and Rubia was actually participating in the fencing.

This was indeed an aggression, not on the person of appellant, but on his property rights.

The reasonableness of the resistance is also a requirement of the justifying circumstance of self-defense or defense of one’s rights under paragraph 1 of Article 11, Revised Penal Code. When the appellant fired his shotgun from his window, killing his two victims, his resistance was disproportionate to the attack.

Appellant who was sleeping when the victims chiselled his house and fenced off his estate and who asked them to stop doing so is not guilty of sufficient provocation when he shot the victims who ignored his plea. (PEOPLE vs. NARVAEZ. Nos. L-33466-67. April 20,1983.)

Unlawful aggression presupposes an actual, sudden, unexpected attack or imminent danger thereof, not merely a threatening or intimidating attitude and the accused must present proof of positively strong act of aggression.

Even if we give credence to accused-appellant’s version of the events, specifically that the deceased hurled invectives at him and moved as if to draw something from his waist, the Court are unable to establish a finding of unlawful aggression on the victim’s part.

Unlawful aggression presupposes an actual, sudden, unexpected attack or imminent danger thereof, not merely a threatening or intimidating attitude and the accused must present proof of positively strong act of real aggression. (PEOPLE vs. ARIZALA, G.R. No. 130708. October 22, 1999)

Jurisprudence Criminal Law

Frustrated Felony

When the offender performs all the acts of execution which would produce the felony as a consequence but which, nevertheless, do not produce it by reason of causes independent of the will of the perpetrator.

Where the offender treacherously inflicted a wound upon the victim which was sufficient to have caused death, but the victim survives by reason of prompt medical attention, the offender is liable for frustrated murder.

(PEOPLE vs. MISION. G.R. No. 63480. February 26,1991)

Jurisprudence Criminal Law


When accused-appellant Pugay poured gasoline on the victim’s body and thereafter his co- accused Samson set the victim on fire, there is nothing in the records showing that there was previous conspiracy or unity of criminal purpose and intention between the two accused-appellants immediately before the commission of the crime.