Practice Areas

  • Business Tax Consultation
  • Corporate Tax Planning
  • Customs Duties
  • Domestic & Expatriate KPO/BPO Corporate Tax Planning
  • Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits
  • International Transfer Pricing
  • Taxable and Tax-Free Acquisitions, Dispositions, Spin-Offs
  • Tax Controversies and Litigation
  • Tax-Exempt Organizations
  • Value-Added Tax or VAT
  • Wholly Owned (or not) Foreign Subsidiary KPO/BPO Tax Planning

Tax Law in The Philippines

Every business, regardless of size or structure, should be aware of tax laws and should be compliant at all times. Non-compliance could mean significant penalties – money that could use more productively in your business.

At Duran & Duran-Schulze Law, we offer in-depth assistance in various areas of business tax laws and management, including the following:

Business Tax Consultation

Business taxes in the Philippines fall under different categories depending on factors like business classification, nature of income, type of transaction, and the like. Further, Philippine tax laws are constantly changing, making business decisions vulnerable to errors.

With our lawyers’ tax law expertise, we can provide you with the guidance you need in determining and complying with your business tax requirements in any stage of your operations. These include advice and representation on issues relating to various tax and duty types like Value Added Tax, customs duties, income tax, and percentage tax.

Corporate Tax Planning

We can help you in planning your business structures and transactions such that your taxes are kept at manageable levels, and thus saving you from possible tax bankruptcy or unnecessary taxes.

In particular, we have a good understanding of the growing KPO/BPO industry and offer tax planning assistance in the following areas:

  • Corporate tax planning for Domestic & Expatriate KPO/BPO
  • Corporate tax planning for wholly or partially foreign owned KPO/BPO subsidiary

Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits

Compensation and benefits for all employees and executives involve a slew of regulations under the Labor Code of the Philippines. Identifying when and how much tax should be applied and/or withheld for each compensation or benefit type is crucial to avoid violations and their corresponding penalties.

We offer our expert advice and guidance to help you optimize possible tax benefits on executive and employee compensations while avoiding potential legal issues.

International Transfer Pricing and Tax Incentives

International transfer pricing is especially critical in businesses like KPOs and BPOs, whole financial statements are consolidated availing of potential tax privileges for companies operating within the ecozones of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority and the like should likewise be explored.

The BIR is mandated to conduct audits on companies that utilize Transfer Pricing so it is important to make sure you’re compliant at all times.

We can provide guidance and representation in avoiding or settling any legal issues related to your company’s application of international transfer pricing. We can also assist you in ensuring that your company maintains its tax incentives if applicable.

Taxable and Tax-Free Acquisitions, Dispositions & Spin-Offs

Corporate acquisitions, dispositions & spin-offs are getting more commonplace in the Philippines. In the transfer of assets, taxes may apply particularly for tangible goods. Intangible assets, such as goodwill, are often tax-exempt, or may be subjected to depreciation allowance.

Our lawyers at Duran & Duran-Schulze will help ensure you get the optimum tax-exempt privileges in these transactions while identifying and complying with requirements on taxable assets and acquisitions. 

Tax-Exempt Organizations

Certain types of organizations are tax-exempt. These include:

  • non-stock and non-profit corporations dedicated to religious, educational, or cultural purposes
  • non-profit trade association
  • non-profit cooperative or mutual banks
  • non-profit civic organization

We can help you in setting up this type of operation and we can advise you to avoid any move that could violate your company’s tax-exempt status.

Tax Controversies and Litigation

Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself having to face tax controversies and litigation. Our lawyers at Duran & Duran-Schulze will use not only our knowledge of the Philippine tax laws, but also our negotiation and advocacy skills in representing you.
  • Compliance/Adherence Local Regulation and Licensing
  • Confidentiality Agreements
  • Corporate Contracts (employment, service, client)
  • Corporate Formations (all phases)
  • Corporate Internal Forms
  • Corporate Operations (all phases)
  • Day to Day Housekeeping for Corporation/Shareholders
  • Joint Ventures
  • Licensing Arrangements
  • Master Contracts for Human Resource Departments
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Partnership Agreements
  • Employment Agreements such as project consultancy, training bonds and the like

Corporate Law in The Philippines

Corporations in the Philippines are generally governed by Batas Pambansa Blg. 68, or the Corporation Code of the Philippines. It involves complex details and regular amendments that, without vigilant reviews and the right interpretation, could lead to costly mistakes.

At Duran & Duran-Schulze, we offer our expertise in corporate law to assist you in the following areas:

Incorporating and Forming Your Business

We shall help you decide which corporate structure would best serve your needs. We shall also provide assistance in the registration process and in complying with the requirements of the SEC and any other government entity.

Corporate Contracts

We shall assist in reviewing and drafting contracts with employees, suppliers, contractors, and other entities you will need to work with in the course of your operations.

Asset Acquisition

Acquiring corporate assets can be complicated especially if real estate is involved. Additionally, some acquisitions may have tax benefits that you can optimize. We shall assist you in identifying and taking full advantage of these benefits while mitigating any risks.

Corporate Taxes

Corporate taxes are many and varied. It is important to accurately identify and calculate each one, and pay them in a timely manner. Erroneous or late filings could lead to penalties and serious consequences. You need to fully understand your tax obligations from the start and properly manage them. With our financial management expertise, we offer solutions that can optimize all tax benefits and avoid unnecessary taxes.

Human Resources

Hiring and managing employees are critical in any business. Every step of the process is highly regulated, from hiring to termination. We shall help you in understanding and implementing employment laws and avoiding any potential violations. This includes guidance in compensation benefits and packages and their corresponding tax requirements. We also offer guidance in the creation and implementation of training bonds.

Licensing and Intellectual Property Management

We shall help you safeguard any corporate intellectual property, including copyrights and trademarks. Conversely, we can assist in ensuring you do not violate any laws when applying or utilizing other entities’ intellectual properties.

Partnership and Project Consultancy Agreements

From time to time, you may need to enter into partnership or project consultancy agreements with other parties. We offer legal guidance in coming up with terms and conditions that will be fair to all and will safeguard your company’s interests.

Dealing with Government Entities

In the course of your operations, you will have to deal with several government offices, including the SEC and the BIR, and perhaps the Department of Trade and Industry and the Bureau of Customs. We shall assist in making sure your company complies with these various agencies’ requirements, as well as represent you in any legal process or proceeding involving these agencies.

Day to Day Corporate Housekeeping

Corporate housekeeping or governance is essential in promoting transparency among stockholders, the company’s management, and its board. It involves the company’s entire operations, including day-to-day recordkeeping. We can assist in planning, organizing and implementing measures and processes that will ensure your company’s compliance with the legal standards of transparency.

The Youngest of all Legal Disciplines 

Knowledge Process Outsourcing or KPO encompasses

The application of the development, structure and functioning of select portions or all of your business,  offshore and/or onshore, with the force of professionals and workers available, we are fully knowledgeable in the business of KPO since legal Process Outsourcing alone is a subset of KPO. Our Practice Areas include:

  • Advisory
  • Business Registration & Incorporation for Expatriate Entrepreneurs and/or Foreign Owned Subsidiaries, wholly owned-or not
  • Company Registration of Appropriate Business Vehicle to Match the Philippine’s Governmental Tax Incentive Plans (PEZA/BOI/DTI)
  • Compliance
  • Corporate Law
  • Corporate Litigation
  • Due Diligence and Operational Due Diligence
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Immigration Services (please see “Our Services”)
  • Intellectual Property
  • Labor Law Concerns
  • Litigation
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • New Market Entry
  • Tax Law

Knowledge Process Outsourcing in The Philippines

One of our main practice areas at Duran & Duran-Schulze Law is assistance in the knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) sector. To facilitate the growth of KPOs in the country, the Philippine government has come up with a slew of incentives and initiatives, ranging from tax holidays to labor law amendments. Understanding these incentives as well as special regulations governing BPOs and KPOs is key in successfully establishing and running such a company in the county. We at Duran & Duran-Schulze Law offer our expertise in this area to help you maximize your opportunities and minimize your risks.

The Growth of KPOs

Growth in business process outsourcing or BPO has been a significant anchor in the Philippines’ economic progress. With offshore companies outsourcing their services and support needs to countries like the Philippines, BPO clients are able to concentrate on their core business functions. Recently, however, more and more clients have been engaging in knowledge process outsourcing or KPO. In contrast to BPO, KPO involves transferring clients’ core functions to overseas sources like the Philippines, and is therefore considered a higher-value service compared to BPO.

Why the Philippines?

The wealth of skills and talent in the Philippines plus relatively low business costs makes it a logical choice for KPO services. The country now closely competes with India for supremacy in this industry, offering highly-skilled and trained workforce in such areas as biotechnology, insurance market services, legal services, animation and design.

Investment Incentives

BPO, KPO, and information technology-enabled services (ITES) are part of the government’s Investment Priorities Plan, which is an annual list of industries and activities promoted by the Philippine’s Department of Trade and Industry through its Board of Investments. Industries on this list are afforded incentives that include:

  • four to six years’ income tax holiday
  • more opportunities for income tax reduction
  • exemption from export taxes and certain duties and fees
  • employment of foreign nationals in supervisory or technical positions
  • simplified importation and customs procedures

Additionally, more incentives have been put in place for companies who set up their operations in Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) ecozones and IT locations.

Tax Incentives

In addition to the investment incentives mentioned above, KPO, BPO and ITES investors may also benefit from other tax incentives that include:

  • suppliers of PEZA-registered outsourcing companies do not need a BIR certification to qualify for 0% VAT
  • 5% Tax on gross margin

Qualified foreign investors for eligible projects (including BPOs, KPOs and ITES) may also take advantage of other incentives such as the opportunity to transfer foreign exchange not purchased from the Philippine banking system.

How We Can Help You

Our lawyers at Duran & Duran-Schulze Law can assist you in the process of establishing your company so you can take full advantage of available incentives. We can also help you come up with an effective employee structure, and devise a scheme that will attract the most qualified employees. We also assist in getting appropriate visas and work permits for foreign national employees. Many KPOs and BPOs have turned to us for assistance and guidance in setting up their business and getting it operational in as little time as possible. We also offer our services in all our practice areas to guide you throughout your company’s operations.


  • Acquisitions
  • Commercial Arrangements on Investment Agreement
  • Complex Transactions
  • Compliance
  • Due Diligence and Operational Due Diligence
  • Employment Issues
  • High-growth companies
  • Investor and Strategic Partner Contracts
  • Mergers
  • Operational Issues
  • Post-incorporation
  • Pre-incorporation
  • Risk Management
  • Seed and Venture Capital Financing
  • Stock Options
  • Tax Efficiency Assurance 
  • Litigation for all Civil Matters (please see below)
  • Litigation for all Labor Matters (please see below)
  • Litigation for Corporate Matters representing Expatriates and Domestic  Entities and individuals (please see above)
  • Litigation for Criminal Matters, including the Office of the Ombudsman, to the Appellate Court (please see below)
  • Litigation for select Special Proceedings (please see below)
  • Litigation for Tax Issues (please see above)
  • Representation in Courts, Quasi-Judicial Agencies, Administrative Agencies
  • All levels and venues

Litigation Process in the Philippines

Litigation is something everyone wants to avoid. It not only causes inconvenience and lost time; it can also be highly stressful and emotionally taxing. Sadly, litigation is sometimes the only way to resolve a dispute particularly in business or politics. You can rely on our lawyers at Duran & Duran-Schulze Law to handle the burden of litigation for you. With our extensive experience and our knowledge of the law, we will provide you with the representation you need and will passionately advocate your cause before the right court or venue. Our track record of favorable litigation outcomes is testament to our commitment. We have successfully represented clients in various types of cases and in various courts and venues, including:

  • Office of the Ombudsman
  • Appellate Court
  • Regional  or Metropolitan Trial Courts
  • Quasi-Judicial Agencies
  • Administrative Agencies

We provide litigation services in several areas, including the following:

Civil Matters

A civil action is initiated when one party seeks to enforce or protect a right, prevent another party from violating a right, or penalize or impose punitive action against someone who violated the party’s right. The rules for civil actions may apply to criminal and special proceedings, but not to election cases, land registration cases, cadastral, naturalization, insolvency and others. Unlike in a criminal case where specific acts are explicitly identified as criminal, a civil case may involve an act that’s not necessarily a crime but may have caused harm or damage to another person.

Labor Matters

The Supreme Court has upheld what is popularly called “management prerogative,” which is basically the employer’s right to regulate employment according to what he believes will be best for the company. This right, however, is limited by “special laws” as provided in the Labor Code of the Philippines as well as other laws defining the rights of employees. Where “management prerogative” ends and violations of employees’ rights begin is often the root of labor disputes.

Corporate Matters

Corporate or commercial litigation is rooted in many possible causes, but basically revolves around possible violations of the Corporation Code, Securities Regulation Code, Financial Rehabilitation and Insolvency Act, and Code of Corporate Governance, among others. It may also involve disputes on contracts, government procurement actions, telecommunication laws, and many more.

Criminal Matters

A criminal case is premised on the violation of the country’s Revised Penal Code. While the most common criminal cases involve acts like homicide, robbery, rape and arson, more recent amendments to the Revised Penal Code have included such cases as anti-trafficking, cyber libel and anti-hazing. Most noteworthy among these amendments is The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which covers acts of both public officers and private persons that may be considered as graft or corrupt practice.

Special Proceedings

A special proceeding is defined in the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedures as “a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status, a right, or a particular fact.” Examples of special proceedings are:

  • Settlement of estate of a deceased person
  • Guardianship and custody of children
  • Adoption
  • Habeas Corpus
  • Change of Name
  • Voluntary Dissolution of Corporations
  • Declaration of Absence and Death
  • Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry

Tax Issues

The Philippines’ evolving tax laws can make a person or business vulnerable to violations. There are many types of taxes applied to businesses and to various incomes in the Philippines. Additionally, the government offers tax incentives to specific investment types, which should be of interest to investors and entrepreneurs.

Litigation and Corporate Matters

As the Senior Partner of Duran & Duran-Schulze, Atty. Duran represents and acts for her clients before courts, quasi-judicial agencies, and administrative agencies, in most jurisdictions, all levels, and venues in the Philippines. She handles Family Law, Civil Law, Criminal Law, Labor Law, Election Law, Special Proceedings and Corporate Accounts.

Corporate Matters

  • Manages and prepares integral corporate documents and materials required to form corporations in the Philippines, reviews, prepares, and drafts contracts and agreements
  • Assists in all phases of the formation and operations of corporation and the day to day housekeeping for the corporation and it(s) shareholder(s)
  • Constructs joint ventures, licensing arrangements, mergers & acquisitions and is well versed in internal forms and provides business tax consultations
  • Applies her strong background in taxation to all corporate matters

Civil Law Litigation

  • Representing individuals and/or entities in Debt Recovery or Collections; obtaining Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction Order, if possible or any other ancillary reliefs that can be availed of by parties in collections, property cases, etc.
  • Representing individuals and/or entities in Expropriation Proceedings, Ousting of Squatters, Cancellation of Adverse Claims
  • Employees Illegally Terminated
  • Labor Management Relations, solely under the discretion of Duran & Duran-Schulze, Inc.   Please Inquire Within
  • Labor Proceedings
  • National Labor Relations Commission

Labor Law in The Philippines

Dealing with labor and employment laws is one of the most important aspects of doing business in the Philippines. While the law provides much leeway for “management discretion,” it is also very specific when it comes to protecting employees’ rights.

Backed by years of experience and success in this area, we at Duran & Duran-Schulze Law offer guidance to both employer and employee in understanding and complying with existing laws.

We can help you in the various legal areas of labor and employment, including the following:

  • Illegal termination of employees
  • Labor management relations (solely under the discretion of Duran & Duran-Schulze Law)
  • Representation in labor proceedings before the National Labor Relations Commission and other venues

Illegal Termination

For employment termination to be considered lawful, the employer has to prove either just or authorized cause. Just cause refers to employee’s actions that are detrimental to the company. Authorized cause is a situation or event that justifies termination at no fault of the employee.

When this requirement is met, the employer has to observe due process that will allow the employee enough opportunity to refute any charges against him, or enough time to prepare for the eventuality of losing his job.

When one or more of these conditions are not met, the termination could be considered illegal, and the employer could face heavy pay-offs and penalties.

Labor-Management Relations

Labor-management relations refer to the relationship between employer and employees, particularly the manner by which the terms and conditions of employment are negotiated, agreed upon, and enforced.

Employees may or may not be represented by a union recognized by the government and the employer. With or without a labor union, employees enjoy certain rights that the government is committed to protect. The Bureau of Labor Relations has listed these rights down, including:

  • self-organization, collective bargaining and negotiations;
  • engaging in peaceful concerted activities, including the right to strike in accordance with law;
  • security of tenure, humane conditions of work and a living wage; and
  • participating in policy and decision making processes affecting their rights and benefits as may be provided by law

Negotiations between labor and management should be done independently, without government intervention. If employees are represented by a recognized union, both parties (management and union) strive to reach a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) which details salary rates, working hours, working conditions, and other important details.

Settling Disputes

If labor and management can’t come to an agreement, or if management conducts unfair labor practices, employees have the right to strike or picket. However, strikes have very costly consequences that can affect not only the employer and employees but the nation’s economy as well.

To avoid this kind of break in labor relations, labor and management committees have been formed in every company. The committee is composed of employer and employee representatives, as well as representatives from the government.

The Department of Labor and Employment’s National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) was set up to arbitrate labor-management disputes.

How We Can Help

At Duran & Duran-Schulze Law, we can provide legal advice to both management and employees on matters of employment contracts, disciplinary measures, termination disputes, employee benefits, and other standards and details that could significantly affect the formulation of a CBA.

We also offer representation before labor arbiters, the National Labor Relations Commissions, and any other court to ensure our clients’ rights are protected while working towards an amicable settlement.

Our lawyers can also help maintain healthy labor-management relations by offering solutions to day-to-day problems and labor-management misunderstandings.

  • Review and/or draft contracts or agreements
  • Assess contract vulnerability, responsibilities and/or obligations of parties
  • Troubleshoot and/or recommend plan of action for termination, renewal and/or breach

Contract Review Services in The Philippines

Contracts are very important tools in any transaction but they are not an end in themselves. A well-crafted contract will not mean anything if it leaves out important provisions or details that would have protected the person’s or the company’s interests. We at Duran & Duran-Schulze emphasize the need for well-executed contracts with terms and conditions that would adequately protect our clients’ interests without getting in the way of a profitable transaction. While a bad contract may not always end in a lawsuit, it can pave the way for unsatisfactory business deals or low-quality services.

Law on Obligations and Contracts

To ensure your rights are protected in contracts, we offer our expertise in the following:

  • Review and/or draft contracts or agreements
  • Assess contract vulnerability, responsibilities and/or obligations of parties
  • Troubleshoot and/or recommend plan of action for termination, renewal and/or breach

Reviewing and Drafting Contracts

Before signing on the dotted line, you first have to make sure you understand everything above it. With our experience and legal knowledge, we can go through a contract and identify potential sources of problems. We draw from our first-hand legal encounters to recognize contract provisions or omissions which could limit our clients’ rights. We apply the same meticulous attention to detail in drafting contracts. Contracts are meant to protect all parties involved so any missed information, circumstance or provision may have costly results. Additionally, while standard terms and conditions make contract drafting more expedient, the company should be able to customize where necessary.

Reviewing Contracts for Enforcement

We can review existing contracts to inform you of the effects of the terms, or for any implied meaning or consequence of contract terms. We can also look into avenues that might allow an existing contract to be modified to improve your negotiating position or the transaction’s potential outcome. Certain conditions, known as contract defenses, could be summoned to void a contract or parts of it. Contract defenses include:

  • mutual mistake of fact – an important basis of the contract was found later on to be erroneous
  • misrepresentation – involves dishonesty during bargaining, including issuing a false statement of fact, omitting important information, or deliberately concealing a fact
  • unconscionability – involves unfair elements during the bargaining and contract forming stage, unduly favoring the stronger party

You may find the need to apply contract defenses or to defend against these contract defenses. Additionally, you might want to exercise certain contract terms but are unsure on how to go about this. We can review the contract for you and provide you with a proper advice on this matter. We can also explore rights that may not be overtly stated but implied by the contract’s terms.

Contract Termination or Breach

We offer our services in reviewing instances of contract termination or breach to determine liability. Some contracts may imply the right to terminate but this right might not be exercisable. Additionally, we can offer advice on how to avoid a contract breach, such as posting bonds or conducting audits. If a breach or an impending breach is involved, we shall look into the most expedient, just and inexpensive way to settle the dispute, including arbitration and mediation. If a case goes to court, we will act as your representatives and make sure your rights and interests are upheld.

  • Adoption, e.g., domestic or international
  • Annulment
  • Change of Name
  • Custody of Minor Children
  • Financial Planning to serve Estate Planning Clients
  • Partition of Estate
  • Probate of Last Will & Testament
  • Support Proceedings
  • Temporary and Protection Order Proceedings

Family Law in The Philippines

Perhaps no other area of the law is more sensitive and personal than family law. This is particularly true in the Philippines where family is paramount. We at Duran & Duran-Schulze Law understand the delicate nature of family law and observe utmost confidentiality and sensitivity in dealing with family law cases. We will be receptive to your needs and sensitivities while we passionately safeguard your rights and interests. We offer assistance in the various areas of family law including those discussed below.


Adoption in the Philippines is regulated by two laws:

  • Republic Act 8552 or the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998 – this applies to adoption of a Filipino child by Filipino citizens
  • Republic Act 8043 or the Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995 – this applies to adoption of a Filipino child by foreign nationals

The process of adoption under either law starts with a petition filed by the adopting party. We at Duran & Duran-Schulze Law can facilitate and process the petition, as well as provide assistance throughout the rest of the adoption process.


In the Philippines, the term “annulment” is often applied to both Annulment of Marriage and the Declaration of Nullity of Marriage. These are two different processes, however. Annulment of Marriage may take place in cases where the marriage was deemed legal or valid, while the Declaration of Nullity may be sought for a marriage that was considered void from the start. In either case, the petition must be supported by one of the causes or reasons laid out on relevant Philippine Family Code Articles.

Change of Name

Under RA 9048 of the Philippine Statistics Authority, a person may change his first name or correct a clerical or typographical error in his birth certificate without the need for a judicial order. Changing surnames, however, can get a bit more complicated, particularly for children born outside of marriage who want to adopt their biological father’s family name, or perhaps, for children who want to adopt their mother’s family name instead of their father’s. Changing your surname after marriage to that of your husband’s or a combination of your and your husband’s surnames might need to go through a judicial process as well, under certain circumstances. In cases like these, we at Duran & Duran-Schulze Law can provide the legal guidance you need.

Custody and Support of Minor Children

In determining custody of minor children, Philippine courts put the child’s welfare above everything else. For example, while the law states that children under seven years of age should be in the custody of their mother, this rule is not absolute, and custody may not be granted to the mother if she is found unsuitable. Child custody is one of the most contentious and emotional issues in family law. Related to this, the process for determining support for the child could just be as difficult. In cases where domestic abuse or similar issues are involved, protection orders may be necessary. We at Duran & Duran-Schulze can provide the objectivity that you need in any child custody and support contest, and help you in coming up with a solution that would be best for your child.

Estate Planning and Estate Laws

Estate planning is highly advised especially if your properties have considerable value. Without a proper will or trust, conflict in the distribution of your property may arise among your heirs upon your death. Additionally, keep in mind that any inheritance you leave behind could be subject to estate taxes and local transfer tax (for real estate properties). At Duran & Duran-Schulze Law, we offer financial planning assistance to our estate-planning clients. We also offer our services to heirs and benefactors of an estate in the probate of a last will and testament. In cases where no will is left behind, we can help in matters related to partitioning an estate, such as determining who are legally entitled to the deceased’s property and to what extent.

Family Law Litigation

  • Handles a wide range of cases covering Annulment, Adoption, Change of Name, Custody of Minor Children, Support Proceedings, Temporary and Protection Order Proceedings, Partition of Estate, and Probate of Last Will & Testament
  • Filings before the Office of the Ombudsman
  • Filing before the Office of the City Prosecutor and the Courts
  • Representation for the Accused
  • Representation for the Complainant

We at Duran & Duran-Schulze Law offer our expertise in criminal law and criminal law litigation to help our clients in their cases, whether as complainants or defendants. We represent clients in most legal jurisdictions across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, including the Office of the Ombudsman and the appellate courts.

Criminal Law in The Philippines

Philippine criminal law is embodied in the Revised Penal Code, which defines the general principles of the law, including the circumstances that determine criminal liability. The Revised Penal Code also identifies acts that constitute as crimes and the corresponding penalties for such acts.

Those accused of criminal acts stand trial in the proper Philippine court. Before this can happen, however, a complaint must be lodged with the Office of the City Prosecutor (OCP) where the crime was committed. The OCP then conducts a preliminary investigation to ascertain the merits of the complaint. Once the case goes to trial, the defendant is afforded the presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendant can choose to go through the appeals process to contest the decision or parts of it. Through all these, lawyers play a crucial role both for the defendant and the complainant. While public prosecutors are tasked to represent the complainant in court, private lawyers may assist in the proceedings. In most cases, it is highly advisable for complainants to hire the services of private prosecutors to ensure the case is given utmost attention. On the other hand, defendants need the services of a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer who will ensure their rights are protected and they receive due process.

Classification of Crimes

In the Philippines, crimes are classified as follows:

  • crimes against national security
  • crimes against fundamental laws of the state
  • crimes against public interest
  • crimes against public morals
  • crimes committed by public officers
  • crimes against persons
  • crimes against security
  • crimes against property

Given these classifications, criminal lawyers have to be adept in representing their clients not only in regular trial courts but also in the Sandiganbayan, a special court with jurisdiction over graft and corruption cases filed against public officers and employees. Prosecution of such cases fall in the hands of the Office of the Ombudsman.

Representing the Accused

Our lawyers at Duran & Duran-Schulze Law will look after our client’s rights from the start of the process to the end. This includes representation during the preliminary investigation, which is conducted to determine if there’s sufficient ground for the case to flourish. Where possible, we shall work to have the case dismissed at this stage and spare our client the ordeal of a trial. If the case does go to court, we shall exhaust all legal means to ensure our client receives a fair and just trial, and will explore all post-trial options, including filing an appeal if necessary.

Representing the Complainant

If our client is the victim of a criminal act, we shall support him from the start of the process to ensure the case gains enough strength and credence to go to court. It is best for crime victims to seek the help of a lawyer as soon as they can so they can get legal advice on evidence-gathering. Proper documentation of wounds, injuries, the crime scene and other elements critical. During the preliminary investigation, we shall help our client establish a strong foundation for his complaint or for his defense. If the case goes to trial, we shall assist the public prosecutor in proving the defendant’s guilt, banking on our legal expertise and years of experience in litigation.

Criminal Law Litigation

  • Has appeared and litigated before the Office of the City Prosecutor and the Courts, whether representing the complainant or accused.

Special Proceedings in The Philippines

  • Adoption
  • Cancellation or Correction of Entries in the Civil Registry
  • Change of Name
  • Declaration of Absence and Death
  • Guardianship and custody of children
  • Habeas Corpus
  • Settlement of estate of deceased person
  • Voluntary Dissolution of Corporations
  • Election Periods
  • Election Protests
  • Petition Filing for Candidacy
  • Represents the Public Servant Applicant

Election Laws in the Philippines

Elections in the Philippines have always been very competitive and dynamic, and Philippine election laws are widely believed to have many gray areas. Given this, it is in the candidates’ and parties’ best interest to have the guidance of an experienced election lawyer from the start to the end of the process – and, often, even beyond.

Our lawyers at Duran & Duran-Schulze Attorneys have the knowledge and experience that aspiring and incumbent public servants need. They will help ensure their clients’ rights are upheld and mistakes that could negatively affect their campaigns are avoided.

The areas in which our lawyers can help clients include:

  • Determining eligibility for candidacy
  • Filing of candidacy
  • Guidance on campaign funds
  • Adherence to campaign periods and other campaign laws
  • Guidance on poll watching and canvassing
  • Guidance and representation in cases of election protests and quo warranto proceedings

Eligibility for Candidacy

Each public office has specific candidacy requirements for various categories including:

  • citizenship (Filipino or natural-born Filipino)
  • residency in the country and/or the local area they want to serve
  • age
  • ability to read and write

Filing of Candidacy

The rules for filing of candidacy may vary according to the office the applicant wants to run for. All candidates, whether for local or national positions, need to accomplish the COC (certificate of candidacy) and file it at designated offices.

Campaign Funds

There is a cap on how much candidates can spend for their campaigns. The allowed amount is based on the number of registered voters for the contested position.

  • Campaign contribution sources are also restricted. Certain entities, such as financial institutions and public utility providers, are disallowed from contributing to any candidate’s campaign.
  • Activities like lotteries and cockfights for fundraising purposes are also not allowed.
  • Candidates may not give donations and gifts to anyone during the campaign period. Exemptions are church collections and similar religious contributions.
  • Candidates may spend their campaign funds only for allowed promotional and administrative expenses.
  • Candidates are required to file a full statement of contributions and expenses within 30 days after the election.

Poll Watch, Counting and Canvassing of Votes

The automation of Philippine elections is presenting new challenges to everyone concerned, including the candidates. As a result, it is critical to provide candidates’ poll watchers with sufficient training on the new procedures and their potential complications.

It is also important for poll watchers to understand their rights and responsibilities, and avoid violating any prohibitions. At the same time, they must be knowledgeable enough to spot and identify potential issues and problems.

The counting and canvassing of votes under the Automated Elections Systems (AES) will also be done electronically. To make sure they go into battle well-prepared, so to speak, candidates and their staff should exert every effort to get thoroughly acquainted with these automated systems.

Post Election Issues

Unfortunately, post election issues are common in the Philippines and the AES may just present new grounds for election result protests or even quo warranto incidents.

All candidates must be vigilant and protective of their rights. Election lawyers can provide their clients with the legal guidance they will need in upholding these rights, and be their clients’ advocates in any legal or public proceeding.