February 5, 2023

I completely agree with the Baguio Corres-pondents and Broadcasters’ Club, of which I have been a member since my Gold Ore days against the efforts of the city government to rid sidewalks of newspaper stands as part of to the government’s anti-road obstruction campaign.

The BCBC has expressed its outrage and indignation and I would not repeat their arguments here. I would like to play devil’s advocate though with an argument that a newspaper “stand” is not a “stall” and therefore not within the ambit of the definition of the “Law on sidewalk removal of obstructions.”

According to Cambridge Dictionary a “newsstand” is a table or temporary structure used as a small shop for selling newspapers and magazines outside in public places. A stall, on the other hand, aside from being a stable or a place for cattle is a booth or compartment for the sale of goods in a market or large covered area.

 So, while ridding sidewalks, stall-clogged side streets and roads of illegal vendors and obstacles should be a thing of the past under the present regime, the so-called newspaper stands along Session and other roads are not covered by the Sidewalks and Public Roads Use Act. What is prohibited is building any edifice, stall, and other similar structures; putting up any business and other forms of obstruction; leaving garbage and other junk materials; engaging in ambulant vending; other acts that tend to impede or obstruct the use of sidewalks which are meant to service pedestrians. 

“Expressio unius est exclusio alterius” – the expression of one thing is to exclude another” or in layman’s terms, if the law does not include, then exclude and definitely the law does not speak of newspaper stands. Any honest to goodness homegrown boy or girl know that their newsstands were never obstructions.

It may also be noted that since 2016, the city government allowed them to continue plying their trade along the sidewalks provided,  they comply with the prescribed policies. Therefore, the city is estoppel (legal principle that prevents someone from arguing something or asserting a right that contradicts what they previously said or agreed to by law).

It is meant to prevent people from being unjustly wronged by the inconsistencies of another person’s words or actions). Finally, the law allows establishments that wish to use sidewalks to temporarily conduct business but they must obtain a special permit from authorities. Allowed years ago, allowed now.

I nearly fell off my seat when I received a question from a viewer of our Ikaw at ang Batas segment at RNG Luzon of Dhobie de Guzman. (Watch at YouTube:   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtUR1dNK16M9hBFpAhO_rRw or Facebook (Regional News Group-RNG Luzon):  Log in to Facebook or its website (www.rngluzon.com): Home 1) Can Santa Claus be sued and for what?

I would lawyer though for Santa. So here it goes:

1.  The Revised Penal Code provisions on trespass to dwelling and theft or robbery with force upon things. Because of Santa’s continued home invasion tactics and taking of  cookies and/or milk in someone’s home and then moseying or moving in a leisurely, relaxed way.

2.   The Child and Youth Welfare Code under Presidential Decree 603 as amended,  and the Labor Code provisions on child labor. Santa’s lead elves – Lord Dumpkoff and Fauntleroy Elvis 2, are aged five and six years old, thus a clear violation.

3.  The Animal Welfare Act on the Use of Non-Domesticated Animals. Black’s Law Dictionary defines non-domesticated as “those animals considered to be naturally wild and not naturally trained or domesticated or which are considered to be inherently dangerous to the health, safety, and welfare of people.” In 2010, there were 37 reports of reindeer attacks on humans in the North Pole region, including a drunken brawl between Donner and an area bike-messenger, thus if he brings in the reindeers within our territorial jurisdiction, we can say “gotcha’ Santa.

4.  The National Internal Revenue Code, as Santa Claus has never filed an income tax return for doing business in the Philippines.

5.  The Aviation Law, which prohibits both traveling across the globe at mach speeds and flight into protected airspace without permission from the state.

6.   The Bayanihan Law II for violation of social distancing, face mask, and shield and assembling people in public places without regard to strict health protocols ala you know who.

There’s more, and legal eagles can be so enterprising I assure you they could find more. But it’s Christmas and even if the legal world is coming after you and you’re too fat to escape through the chimney, you have the best lawyers in town to see you through, and Rudolf the red nosed one too. Sigh.

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