Monthly Archives: March 2013

China Striving to Dominate the Nearby Seas

A Chinese naval task force, including its most modern amphibious ship, a guided-missile destroyer, and two frigates, was recently sighted operating off James Shoal, 50 miles off the coast of Malaysia. James Shoal is claimed by Malaysia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), as well as Taiwan. The appearance of the Chinese task force in these waters bears watching, for it is yet another example of Beijing asserting its territorial claims to the entire South China Sea. What is striking, however, is that this effort is directed at Malaysia rather than Vietnam or the Philippines. Unlike Hanoi and Manila, Kuala Lumpur has generally been quiet about its dispute with Beijing over their territorial claims; it is not clear why Beijing would choose to underscore its claims against Malaysia at this moment…… Read more:

Chinese navy makes waves in South China Sea

BEIJING – The appearance of a Chinese navy flotilla at an island chain 1,120 miles from its home shores is a clear sign that the new Communist regime is moving to enforce its claims to the entire South China Sea, experts said Wednesday. James Shoal is 50 miles from the coast of Malaysia, one of several countries that have appealed to the United States for help in countering China’s aggressive attempt to seize 1 million square miles of fishing and energy resources. Read more:

Peaceful negotiations for East Sea disputes

VietNamNet Bridge – Scholars and experts at a recent workshop in New York stressed the need to settle territorial disputes in the East Sea via peaceful means and in line with international law. Participants from the US, Vietnam, China, Australia, Britain, the Philippines and Singapore made an in-depth analysis of the causes of recent tensions in the East Sea, the role of international law, US-China relations and the role ASEAN plays in settling disputes. Read more:    

Japan warms to Taiwan, isolates China, in territorial sea dispute

By Ralph Jennings, Christian Science Monitor, 3/22/13 Taiwan says Japan is set to give it fishing rights to waters around a set of disputed islands. That could mean that Japan wants Taiwan on its side in the struggle against China over the disputed ocean. Japan is ready to open a contested tract of the East China Sea to fishing boats from Taiwan, officials in Taipei say, a rare concession in a bitter territorial dispute that involves heavyweight China and has the United States on guard. Tokyo is “willing to extend the fishing area” to Taiwanese boats, though the boundaries have yet to be worked out, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister David Lin told reporters on Wednesday. Read more:

The Sino-Philippine Maritime Row: International Arbitration and the South China Sea

In this Flashpoints Bulletin, The Sino-Philippine Maritime Row: International Arbitration and the South China Sea, Peter Dutton analyzes the ongoing territorial disputes between the Philippines and China over lands near the South China Sea, known as the West Philippines Sea in Manila. Dutton, who is Professor of Strategic Studies and Director of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College, discusses the implications of these disputes for Southeast Asia’s political balance. Read more:

Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8042 An act to institute the policies of overseas employment and establish a higher standard of protection and promotion of the welfare of migrant workers, their families and overseas Filipinos in distress, and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled: SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. – This act shall be known and cited as the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.” SECTION 2. DECLARATION OF POLICIES– (a) In the pursuit of an independent foreign policy and while considering national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest and the right to self-determination paramount in its relations with other states, the State shall, at all times, uphold the dignity of its citizens whether in country or overseas, in general, and Filipino migrant workers, in particular. (b) The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all. Towards this end, the State shall provide adequate and timely social, economic and legal services to Filipino migrant workers. (c) While recognizing the significant contribution of Filipino migrant workers to the national economy through their foreign exchange remittances, the State does not promote overseas employment as a means to sustain economic growth and achieve national development. The existence of the overseas employment program rests solely on the assurance that the dignity and fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Filipino citizens shall not, at any time, be compromised or violated. The State, therefore, shall continuously create local employment opportunities and promote the equitable distribution of wealth and the benefits of development. (d) The State affirms the fundamental equality before the law of women and men and the significant role of women in nation-building. Recognizing the contribution of overseas migrant women workers and their particular vulnerabilities, the State shall apply gender sensitive criteria in the formulation and implementation of policies and programs affecting migrant workers and the composition of bodies tasked for the welfare of migrant workers. (e) Free access to the courts and quasi-judicial bodies and adequate legal assistance shall not be denied to any persons by reason of poverty. In this regard, it is imperative that an effective mechanism be instituted to ensure that the rights and interest of distressed overseas Filipinos, in general, and Filipino migrant workers, in particular, documented or undocumented, are adequately protected and safeguarded. (f) The right of Filipino migrant workers and all overseas Filipinos to participate in the democratic decision-making processes of the State and to be represented in institutions relevant to overseas employment is recognized and guaranteed. (g) The State recognizes that the ultimate protection to all migrant workers is the possession of skills. Pursuant to this and as soon as practicable, the government shall deploy and/or allow the deployment only to skilled Filipino workers. (h) Non-governmental organizations, duly recognized as legitimate, are partners of the State in the protection of Filipino migrant workers and in the promotion of their welfare, the State shall cooperate with them in a spirit of trust and mutual respect. (I) Government fees and other administrative costs of recruitment, introduction, placement and assistance to migrant workers shall be rendered free without prejudice to the provision of Section 36 hereof. Nonetheless, the deployment of Filipino overseas workers, whether land-based or sea-based by local service contractors and manning agencies employing them shall be encouraged. Appropriate incentives may be extended to them. SECTION 3. DEFINITIONS. – For purposes of this Act: (a) “Migrant worker” refers to a person who is to be engaged, is engaged or has been engaged in a renumerated activity in a state of which he or she is not a legal resident to be used interchangeably with overseas Filipino worker. (b) “Gender-sensitivity” shall mean cognizance of the inequalities and inequities prevalent in society between women and men and a commitment to address issues with concern for the respective interests of the sexes. (c) “Overseas Filipinos” refers to dependents of migrant workers and other Filipino nationals abroad who are in distress as mentioned in Sections 24 and 26 of this Act. I. DEPLOYMENT SECTION 4. Deployment of Migrant Workers – The State shall deploy overseas Filipino workers only in countries where the rights of Filipino migrant workers are protected. The government recognizes any of the following as guarantee on the part of the receiving country for the protection and the rights of overseas Filipino workers: (a) It has existing labor and social laws protecting the rights of migrant workers; (b) It is a signatory to multilateral conventions, declaration or resolutions relating to the protection of migrant workers; (c) It has concluded a bilateral agreement or arrangement with the government protecting the rights of overseas Filipino workers; and (d) It is taking positive, concrete measures to protect the rights of migrant workers. SECTION 5. TERMINATION OR BAN ON DEPLOYMENT – Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 4 hereof, the government, in pursuit of the national interest or when public welfare so requires, may, at any time, terminate or impose a ban on the deployment of migrant workers. II. ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT SECTION 6. DEFINITIONS. – For purposes of this Act, illegal recruitment shall mean any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, procuring workers and includes referring, contact services, promising or advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not, when undertaken by a non-license or non-holder of authority contemplated under Article 13(f) of Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines. Provided, that such non-license or non-holder, who, in any manner, offers or promises for a fee employment abroad to two or more persons shall be deemed so engaged. It shall likewise include the following acts, whether committed by any persons, whether a non-licensee, non-holder, licensee or holder of authority. (a) To charge or accept directly or indirectly any amount greater than the specified in the schedule of allowable fees prescribed by the Secretary of Labor and Employment, or to make a worker pay any amount greater than that actually received by him as a loan or advance; (b) To furnish or publish any false notice or information or document in relation to recruitment or employment; (c) To give any false notice, testimony, information or document or commit any act of misrepresentation for the […]

Domestic Shipping Development Act of 2004

AN ACT PROMOTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHILIPPINE DOMESTIC SHIPPING, SHIPBUILDING, SHIP REPAIR AND SHIP BREAKING, ORDAINING REFORMS IN GOVERNMENT POLICIES TOWARDS SHIPPING IN THE PHILIPPINES AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled: CHAPTER I GENERAL PROVISIONS SECTION 1. Short Title. – This Act shall be known as the “Domestic Shipping Development Act of 2004.” SECTION 2. Declaration of Policy. – The State recognize that shipping is a necessary infrastructure, which is vital to the economic development of our country. The Philippines needs a strong and competitive domestic merchant fleet owned and controlled by Filipinos or by corporations at least sixty percent (60%) of the capital of which is owned by Filipinos and manned by qualified Filipino officers and crew which shall: (a) bridge our islands by ensuring safe, reliable, efficient, adequate and economic passenger and cargo services; (b) encourage the dispersal of industry and the economic development of our regional communities by ensuring the availability of regular, reliable and efficient shipping services; (c) ensure the growth of exports by providing necessary, competitive and economical domestic sea linkage; (d) serve as a naval and military auxiliary in times of war and other national emergencies; and (e) function as an employment support base for our Filipino seafarers. To attain these objectives, it is hereby declared to the policy of the State to; (a) promote Filipino ownership of vessels operated under the Philippine flag; (b) attract private capital to invest in the shipping industry by creating a healthy and competitive investment and operating environment; (c) provide necessary assistance and incentives for the continued growth of the Philippine domestic merchant marine fleet; (d) encourage the improvement and upgrading of the existing domestic merchant marine fleet and Filipino crew to meet international standards; (e) ensure the continued viability of domestic shipping operations; and (f) encourage the development of a viable shipbuilding and ship repair industry to support the expansion and modernization of the Philippine domestic merchant marine fleet and its strict adherence to safety standards which will ensure the seaworthiness of all sea-borne structures. SEC. 3. Definition of Terms. – As used in and for purposes of this Act, the following terms, whether in singular or plural are hereby defined as follows: (a) “Domestic shipping” shall mean the transport of passenger or cargo, or both, by ships duly registered and licensed under Philippine law to engage in trade and commerce between Philippine ports and within Philippine territorial or internal waters, for hire or compensation, with general or limited clientele, whether permanent occasional or incidental, with or without fixed routes, and done for contractual or commercial purposes; (b) “Domestic trade” shall mean the sale, barter or exchange of goods, materials or products within the Philippines; (c) “Domestic Ship Operator” or “Domestic Ship Owner” may be used interchangeably and shall mean a citizen of the Philippines, or a commercial partnership wholly owned by Filipinos, or a corporation at least sixty percent (60%) of the capital of which is owned by Filipinos, which is duly authorized by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to engage in the business of domestic shipping; (d) “Shipper” shall mean any person, partnership or corporation who shall procure for itself the services of a domestic ship operator for the carriage of its cargo in the domestic trade upon payment of proper compensation; (e) “MARINA” shall mean the Maritime Industry Authority; (f) “Ship” or “Vessel” may be used interchangeably and shall mean any kind, class or type of craft or artificial contrivance capable of floating in water, designed to be used, or capable of being used as a means of water transport in the domestic trade for the carriage of passengers or cargo, or both, utilizing its own motive power or that of another; (g) “Importation” shall mean the direct purchase, lease or charter of newly constructed or previously owned ships, or the purchase of ship’s spare parts from foreign sources or from registered enterprises operating in special economic zones as this terms is defined in Republic Act No. 7916 entitled, “The Special Economic Zone Act of 1995,” (h) “Spare parts” shall mean the replacement parts or components of vessel, including but not limited to its hull, engines, machineries, equipment, appurtenances, necessaries accessories, article, supplies, materials, steel plates, aluminum plates, other metal plates, communications, equipment, and other parts or components thereof, installed abroad the ships necessary for its safe and efficient navigation and operation; (i) “Certificate of Public Convenience’ shall mean the license on authority issued by MARINA to a domestic ship operator to engage in domestic shipping; (j) “Cargo handling equipment’ shall mean any machinery, gear or equipment used by the ship operator or a duly authorized and licensed port operator to service or handle cargo, on board the vessel at the port or in the terminal or container yard such as, but not limited to cranes, forklifts, top lifts, stackers, tractor heads, containers, pallet boards and the like, including all spare parts, replacement parts, appurtenances accessories, articles, supplies and materials thereof; (k) “Shipbuilding” shall mean the design, construction, launching and outfitting of all types of ships and watercraft; (l) “Ship repair” shall mean the overhaul, refurbishment renovation improvement, or alteration of the hull, machineries, equipment, outfits and components of all types of ships; (m) “Shipyard” shall mean the shipbuilding or repair facilities which have the capability to lift vessels above the waterline in order to effect ship work on vessels, appendages, structure, machinery and equipment; and (n) “Shipbuilder” or “Ship repairer” shall mean a citizen of the Philippines, or a commercial partnership owned by majority of Filipinos or a corporation incorporated under the laws of the Philippines, the capital of which is owned or controlled in any proportion by Filipinos or by foreign nationals, or by both such Filipinos or foreign nationals, or by corporations whether Filipino or foreign-owned, which is duly authorized by the MARINA to engage in the business of shipbuilding or ship repair or to otherwise operate a shipyard, graving dock or marine repair yard. CHAPTER II INVESTMENT INCENTIVES SEC. 4. Investment Incentives. – To insure the continued viability of domestic shipping, and to encourage investments in the domestic shipping industry, the following incentives shall be granted to qualified domestic ship operators: (a) Exemption from value-added tax on the importation and local […]

The Salvage Law

SECTION 1. When in case of shipwreck, the vessel or its cargo shall be beyond the control of the crew, or shall have been abandoned by them, and picked up and conveyed to a safe place by other persons, the latter shall be entitled to a reward for the salvage. Those who, not being included in the above paragraph, assist in saving a vessel or its cargo from shipwreck, shall be entitled to a like reward. SECTION 2.  If the captain of the vessel, or the person acting in his stead, is present, no one shall take from the sea, or from the shores or coast merchandise or effects proceeding from a shipwreck or proceed to the salvage of the vessel, without the consent of such captain or person acting in his stead. SECTION 3.  He who shall save or pick up a vessel or merchandise at sea, in the absence of the captain of the vessel, owner, or a representative of either of them, they being unknown, shall convey and deliver such vessel or merchandise, as soon as possible, to the Collector of Customs, if the port has a collector, and otherwise to the provincial treasurer or municipal mayor. SECTION 4.  After the salvage is accomplished, the owner or his representative shall have a right to the delivery of the vessel or things saved, provided that he pays, or gives a bond to secure, the expenses and the proper reward. The amount and sufficiency of the bond, in the absence of agreement, shall be determined by the Collector of Customs or by the Judge of the Court of First Instance of the province in which the things saved may be found. SECTION 5. The Collector of Customs, provincial treasurer, or municipal mayor, to whom a salvage is reported, shall order: a.  That the things saved be safeguard and inventoried. b. The sale at public auction of the things saved which may be in danger of immediate loss or of those whose conservation is evidently prejudicial to the interests of the owner,    when no objection is made to such sale. c.  The advertisement within thirty days subsequent to the salvage, in one of the local  newspapers or in the nearest newspaper published, of all the details of the disaster, with a  statement of the mark and number of the effects requesting all interested persons to make  their claims. SECTION 6.  If, while the vessel or things saved are at the disposition of the authorities, the owner or his representative shall claim them, such authorities shall order their delivery to such owner or his representative, provided that there is no controversy over their value, and a bond is given by the owner or his representative to secure the payment of the expenses and the proper reward. Otherwise, the delivery shall not be made until the matter is decided by the Court of First Instance of the province. SECTION 7. No claim being presented in the three months subsequent to the publication of the advertisement prescribed in sub-section (c) of Section five, the things save shall be sold at public auction, and their proceeds, after deducting the expenses and the proper reward shall be deposited in the insular treasury. If three years shall pass without anyone claiming it, one-half of the deposit shall be adjudged to him who saved the things, and the other half to the insular government. SECTION 8. The following shall have no right to a reward for salvage or assistance: a. The crew of the vessel shipwrecked or which was in danger of a shipwreck; b. He who shall have commenced the salvage in spite of opposition of the captain or his  representative; and c. He who shall have failed to comply with the provisions of Section three. SECTION 9. If, during the danger, an agreement is entered into concerning the amount of the reward for salvage or assistance, its validity may be impugned because it is excessive, and it may be required to be reduced to an amount proportionate to the circumstance. SECTION 10. In a case coming under the last preceding section, as well as in the absence of an agreement, the reward for salvage or assistance shall be fixed by the Court of First Instance of the province where the things salvaged are found, taking into account principally the expenditures made to recover or save the vessel or the cargo or both, the zeal demonstrated, the time employed, the services rendered, the excessive express occasioned the number of persons who aided, the danger to which they and their vessels were exposed as well as that which menaced the things recovered or salvaged, and the value of such things after deducting the expenses. SECTION 11.  From the proceeds of the sale of the things saved shall be deducted, first, the expenses of their custody, conservation, advertisement, and auction, as well as whatever taxes or duties they should pay for their entrance; then there shall be deducted the expenses of salvage; and from the net amount remaining shall be taken the reward for the salvage or assistance which shall not exceed fifty per cent of such amount remaining. SECTION 12. If in the salvage or in the rendering of assistance different persons shall have intervened the reward shall be divided between them in proportion to the services which each one may have rendered, and, in case of doubt, in equal parts. Those who, in order to save persons, shall have been exposed to the same dangers shall also have a right to participation in the reward. SECTION 13. If  a vessel or its cargo shall have been assisted or saved, entirely or partially, by another vessel, the reward for salvage or for assistance shall be divided between the owner, the captain, and the remainder of the crew of the latter vessel, so as to give the owner a half, the captain a fourth, and all the remainder of the crew the other fourth of the reward, in proportion to their respective salaries, in the absence of an agreement to the contrary. The express of salvage, as well as the reward for salvage or assistance, shall be a charge on the things salvaged on their value. SECTION 14.  This Act shall take effect on its passage. ENACTED, FEBRUARY 4, 1916.

Civil Code – Common Carriers

SECTION 4 Common Carriers SUBSECTION 1. General Provisions Article 1732. Common carriers are persons, corporations, firms or associations engaged in the business of carrying or transporting passengers or goods or both, by land, water, or air, for compensation, offering their services to the public. Article 1733. Common carriers, from the nature of their business and for reasons of public policy, are bound to observe extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods and for the safety of the passengers transported by them, according to all the circumstances of each case. Such extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods is further expressed in articles 1734, 1735, and 1745, Nos. 5, 6, and 7, while the extraordinary diligence for the safety of the passengers is further set forth in articles 1755 and 1756. SUBSECTION 2. Vigilance Over Goods Article 1734. Common carriers are responsible for the loss, destruction, or deterioration of the goods, unless the same is due to any of the following causes only: (1) Flood, storm, earthquake, lightning, or other natural disaster or calamity; (2) Act of the public enemy in war, whether international or civil; (3) Act or omission of the shipper or owner of the goods; (4) The character of the goods or defects in the packing or in the containers; (5) Order or act of competent public authority. Article 1735. In all cases other than those mentioned in Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the preceding article, if the goods are lost, destroyed or deteriorated, common carriers are presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently, unless they prove that they observed extraordinary diligence as required in article 1733. Article 1736. The extraordinary responsibility of the common carrier lasts from the time the goods are unconditionally placed in the possession of, and received by the carrier for transportation until the same are delivered, actually or constructively, by the carrier to the consignee, or to the person who has a right to receive them, without prejudice to the provisions of article 1738. Article 1737. The common carrier’s duty to observe extraordinary diligence over the goods remains in full force and effect even when they are temporarily unloaded or stored in transit, unless the shipper or owner has made use of the right of stoppage in transitu. Article 1738. The extraordinary liability of the common carrier continues to be operative even during the time the goods are stored in a warehouse of the carrier at the place of destination, until the consignee has been advised of the arrival of the goods and has had reasonable opportunity thereafter to remove them or otherwise dispose of them. Article 1739. In order that the common carrier may be exempted from responsibility, the natural disaster must have been the proximate and only cause of the loss. However, the common carrier must exercise due diligence to prevent or minimize loss before, during and after the occurrence of flood, storm or other natural disaster in order that the common carrier may be exempted from liability for the loss, destruction, or deterioration of the goods. The same duty is incumbent upon the common carrier in case of an act of the public enemy referred to in article 1734, No. 2. Article 1740. If the common carrier negligently incurs in delay in transporting the goods, a natural disaster shall not free such carrier from responsibility. Article 1741. If the shipper or owner merely contributed to the loss, destruction or deterioration of the goods, the proximate cause thereof being the negligence of the common carrier, the latter shall be liable in damages, which however, shall be equitably reduced. Article 1742. Even if the loss, destruction, or deterioration of the goods should be caused by the character of the goods, or the faulty nature of the packing or of the containers, the common carrier must exercise due diligence to forestall or lessen the loss. Article 1743. If through the order of public authority the goods are seized or destroyed, the common carrier is not responsible, provided said public authority had power to issue the order. Article 1744. A stipulation between the common carrier and the shipper or owner limiting the liability of the former for the loss, destruction, or deterioration of the goods to a degree less than extraordinary diligence shall be valid, provided it be: (1) In writing, signed by the shipper or owner; (2) Supported by a valuable consideration other than the service rendered by the common carrier; and (3) Reasonable, just and not contrary to public policy. Article 1745. Any of the following or similar stipulations shall be considered unreasonable, unjust and contrary to public policy: (1) That the goods are transported at the risk of the owner or shipper; (2) That the common carrier will not be liable for any loss, destruction, or deterioration of the goods; (3) That the common carrier need not observe any diligence in the custody of the goods; (4) That the common carrier shall exercise a degree of diligence less than that of a good father of a family, or of a man of ordinary prudence in the vigilance over the movables transported; (5) That the common carrier shall not be responsible for the acts or omission of his or its employees; (6) That the common carrier’s liability for acts committed by thieves, or of robbers who do not act with grave or irresistible threat, violence or force, is dispensed with or diminished; (7) That the common carrier is not responsible for the loss, destruction, or deterioration of goods on account of the defective condition of the car, vehicle, ship, airplane or other equipment used in the contract of carriage. Article 1746. An agreement limiting the common carrier’s liability may be annulled by the shipper or owner if the common carrier refused to carry the goods unless the former agreed to such stipulation. Article 1747. If the common carrier, without just cause, delays the transportation of the goods or changes the stipulated or usual route, the contract limiting the common carrier’s liability cannot be availed of in case of the loss, destruction, or deterioration of the goods. Article 1748. An agreement limiting the common carrier’s liability for delay on account of strikes or riots is valid. Article 1749. A stipulation that the common carrier’s liability is limited to the […]

Code of Commerce-Commercial Contracts for Transportation

TITLE VII – COMMERCIAL CONTRACTS FOR TRANSPORTATION ARTICLE 349.    A contract of transportation by land or water ways of any kind shall be considered commercial: 1.    When it has for its object merchandise or any article of commerce. 2.    When, whatever its object may be, the carrier is a merchant or is habitually engaged    in transportation for the public. ARTICLE 350.    The shipper as well as the carrier of merchandise or goods may mutually demand that a bill of lading be made, stating: 1.    The name, surname and residence of the shipper. 2.    The name, surname and residence of the carrier. 3.    The name, surname and residence of the person to whom or to whose order the goods  are to be sent or whether they are to be delivered to the bearer of said bill. 4.    The description of the goods, with a statement of their kind, of their weight, and of  the external marks or signs of the packages in which they are contained. 5.    The cost of transportation. 6.    The date on which shipment is made. 7.    The place of delivery to the carrier. 8.    The place and the time at which delivery to the consignee shall be made. 9.    The indemnity to be paid by the carrier in case of delay, if there should be any  agreement on this matter. ARTICLE 351.    In transportation made by railroads or other enterprises subject to regulation rate and time schedules, it shall be sufficient for the bills of lading or the declaration of shipment furnished by the shipper to refer, with respect to the cost, time and special conditions of the carriage, to the schedules and regulations the application of which he requests; and if the shipper does not determine the schedule, the carrier must apply the rate of those which appear to be the lowest, with the conditions inherent thereto, always including a statement or reference to in the bill of lading which he delivers to the shipper. ARTICLE 352.    The bills of lading, or tickets in cases of transportation of passengers, may be diverse, some for persons and others for baggage; but all of them shall bear the name of the carrier, the date of shipment, the points of departure and arrival, the cost, and, with respect to the baggage, the number and weight of the packages, with such other manifestations which may be considered necessary for their easy identification. ARTICLE 353.    The legal evidence of the contract between the shipper and the carrier shall be the bills of lading, by the contents of which the disputes which may arise regarding their execution and performance shall be decided, no exceptions being admissible other than those of falsity and material error in the drafting. After the contract has been complied with, the bill of lading which the carrier has issued shall be returned to him, and by virtue of the exchange of this title with the thing transported, the respective obligations and actions shall be considered cancelled, unless in the same act the claim which the parties may wish to reserve be reduced to writing, with the exception of that provided for in Article 366. In case the consignee, upon receiving the goods, cannot return the bill of lading subscribed by the carrier, because of its loss or of any other cause, he must give the latter a receipt for the goods delivered, this receipt producing the same effects as the return of the bill of lading. ARTICLE 354.    In the absence of a bill of lading, disputes shall be determined by the legal proofs which the parties may present in support of their respective claims, according to the general provisions established in this Code for commercial contracts. ARTICLE 355.    The responsibility of the carrier shall commence from the moment he receives the merchandise, personally or through a person charged for the purpose, at the place indicated for receiving them. ARTICLE 356.    Carriers may refuse packages which appear unfit for transportation; and if the carriage is to be made by railway, and the shipment is insisted upon, the company shall transport them, being exempt from all responsibility if its objections, is made to appear in the bill of lading. ARTICLE 357.    If by reason of well-founded suspicion of falsity in the declaration as to the contents of a package the carrier should decide to examine it, he shall proceed with his investigation in the presence of witnesses, with the shipper or consignee in attendance. If the shipper or consignee who has to be cited does not attend, the examination shall be made before a notary, who shall prepare a memorandum of the result of the investigation, for such purpose as may be proper. If the declaration of the shipper should be true, the expense occasioned by the examination and that of carefully repacking the packages shall be for the account of the carrier and in a contrary case for the account of the shipper. ARTICLE 358.    If there is no period fixed for the delivery of the goods the carrier shall be bound to forward them in the first shipment of the same or similar goods which he may make point where he must deliver them; and should he not do so, the damages caused by the delay should be for his account. ARTICLE 359.    If there is an agreement between the shipper and the carrier as to the road over which the conveyance is to be made, the carrier may not change the route, unless it be by reason of force majeure; and should he do so without this cause, he shall be liable for all the losses which the goods he transports may suffer from any other cause, beside paying the sum which may have been stipulated for such case. When on account of said cause of force majeure, the carrier had to take another route which produced an increase in transportation charges, he shall be reimbursed for such increase upon formal proof thereof. ARTICLE 360.    The shipper, without changing the place where the delivery is to be made, may change the consignment of the goods which he delivered to the carrier, provided that at the time of ordering the change of consignee the bill of lading signed by the carrier, if one has been issued, be returned to him, in […]