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STATUTORY

CONSTRUCTION

ROLANDO A. SUAREZ
LL.B., SAN BEDA COLLEGE
Professor of Constitutional Law, Constitutional Law Review,
and Political Law Review
Former Professor of different law subjects in
several colleges (i.e., San Beda College of Law,
Adamson University, MLQU, Lyceum, University of Perpetual Help,
PUP and University of Manila); Lecturer; Powerhouse Law Review
Center; Center for Global Best Practices; IBP-MCLE; UM Review;
Perpetual Help, Las Piñas and Biñan, MLQ Pre-week,
Knowledge Providers Law Review Center,
Suarez, Zamora, Suarez and Suarez
Author: Political Law Reviewer, Constitutional Law Reviewer;
Six Months Before the Bar Outline/Reviewer; Three Months Before
The Bar Outline Reviewer Principles; Comments and Cases in Constitu-
tional Law, Volume I, First Edition and Second Edition; Principles, Com-
ments and Cases in Constitutional Law, Volume II, First Edition and
Second Edition; Agrarian Reform and Social Legislation;
Comparative Study; Roman Law and Philippine Law, First and Second
Edition; Introduction to Law, First, Second, Third and Fourth Editions;
Notes and Comments, Proclamation No. 3 and
The Provisional Constitution of the Philippines;
Agrarian Reform, Cooperatives and Taxation;
A Mile to Go for Genuine Land Reform in the Philippines;
Statutory Constitution, First and Second Edition; Torts and Damages
First and Second Edition; Legal Forms;
The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines Made Easy

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DEDICATION

To my wife, Nora, and children, Revelyn, Rhonnel, Reinna


Ricci, and Rizza; to my beloved and .deceased parents, Marcelo A.
Suarez and Elena Arevalo Suarez, my first teachers, who taught
me the rudiments of writing and the value of hard work; to my
thoughtful and loving aunt, Cornelia Arevalo Vda. De Capul; to my
kind and equally thoughtful mother-in-law, Niflea Lautchang Vda.
De Manalese, who just passed away; to my deceased brothers and
sisters, Buendegardo, Proserfina, Elvira, Manolo, and Rodolfo with
whom I have shared the blessings of a modest home and hardwork-
ing parents; to all my former teachers who cared to enlighten me
with their knowledge; to my town mates and friends who share my
thoughts and aspirations for a better society; and above all, to my
dear God who is always generous to help me in any of my endeavors,
I dedicate this humble work.

iu
ACKNOWLEDGMENT

I acknowledge the assistance rendered by the members of my


present staff, Hanna Marie M. Manila, and Augusto C. Lusung, Jr.,
my former student who found interest to learn how to write a law
book and even a non-law book.
I thank the proofreaders, including my children, Roland Rhon-
nel M. Suarez, a lawyer, and Rhina Rizza M. Suarez, for encoding
some commentaries which I write from time to time.
I also wish to thank the whole Editorial Production Department
of Rex Book Store for helping me throughout the entire printing
process.
Above all, I am immensely grateful to God for all the blessings,
guidance and fortune that I have received and those still to come.

V
PREFACE

I wrote the second edition of this book in 2007.


Last year, I was reminded by a concerned staff of REX Book
Store that I am not able to revise the second edition of Statutory
Construction, and I was requested to do so as soon as possible, in
response to numerous requests of students and professors.
I was about to start the revision last year, but I was saddled
by my busy schedule in bar review classes until the first week of
August 2013. After the end of the bar examinations last year, I was
all set to start the revision, but again, and to my dismay, I suffered
a stroke last October 2013, and I was advised to take a rest.
After my recovery, I started reading new cases and jurispru-
dence about the subject. I gathered the important ones and they
are now included in this edition. They are the cases in 2009, 2010,
2011, 2012, and 2013.
Like what I have done in all the books I wrote in different sub-
jects, I have tried to have a simplified presentation and discussion
of the various principles and cases covering the subject matter.
I hope that this new edition, like any other book or books I
wrote, will be of valuable help to all students and professors through-
out the country.
December 18, 2014, Paranaque City

ROLANDO A. SUAREZ

vii
TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER I
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, ITS CONCEPT,
PURPOSE, AND EFFECT
Statutory construction, defined ................................................ 1
Construction distinguished from interpretation .....................1
The most basic rules to remember ........................................... 2
Decisions of the Supreme Court that clarify the rule on
the issue of when to apply and interpret the law 2
Three (3) cardinal rules when the wordings of the
Constitution are subject to interpretation ......................3
Who interprets the law? ............................................................ 3
Purpose of interpretation and construction ............................. .4
When is it necessary and not necessary to interpret
and construct? ...................................................................4

New Case
Cynthia S. Bolos v. Danilo T. Bolos
G.R. No. 186400, October 20, 2010 .................................5

Old Case
Request of Judge Tito G. Gustilo that the second
25% grant of the special allowance for judges be
included in the computation of his retirement
benefits, A.M. No. RTJ-04-1868, August 13, 2004 7
Ambiguitydefined ...................................................................... 9
The present structure of government, and how this
affects interpretation and construction of statutes 9
Legislative power ... . ................................................................... 10

Case
Municipality of San Juan, Metro Manila v.
CA, et al., G.R. No. 125183, September 29, 1997...........10

ix
Judicial power, traditional concept of judicial power 13
What is the traditional concept of judicial power? ......... 13
What is the new definition of judicial power? ................13

New Case
Louis "Barok" C. Biraogo v. The Philippine
Truth Commission of 2010
G.R. No. 192935, December 7, 2010 ...............................14

Old Case
Manila Prince Hotel v. GSIS, Manila Hotel
Corporation, et al. G.R. No. 122156,
February3, 1997...............................................................18
The Court or the judicial arm of the government shall be
governed by rules..............................................................22
Executive Department...............................................................23
The three (3) principal branches of government.....................24

CHAPTER II
AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND
CONSTRUCTION
Use intrinsic aids before resorting to extrinsic aids...............27
What are the intrinsic aids? ......................................................27

New Case
Spouses Pascual, et al.,
Francisco A. Pascual, Margarita Corazon D. Mariano,
Edwin D. Mariano and Danny R. Mariano v.
Spouses Ballesteros, et al.,
G.R. No. 186269, February 15, 2012 ..............................29

Old Case
LandBank of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals,
G.R. No. 118745, July 5, 1996 .........................................31

New Case
South Pacific Sugar Corporation and
South East Asia Sugar Mill Corporation v.
Court Of Appeals and

x
Sugar Regulatory Administration
G.R. No. 180462, February 9, 2011 ................................. 32

Old Case

Cecilleville Realty and Service Corporation v.


Court of Appeals and Herminigildo Pascual,
G.R. No. 120363, September 5, 1997 ............................... 35

Tabao v. Judge Espina, A.M. No. RTJ-96-1348,


June 14, 1996 En Banc, Per Curiam............................... 39

New Case
Rafael H. Galvez and Katherine L. Guy v.
Hon. Court Of Appeals and Asia United Bank
G.R. No. 187919, April 25, 2012......................................43

Old Cases
People v. Hon. A. Purisima, et al.,
G.R. Nos. L.420050-66, November 20, 1978 ................... 46

U.S. v. Hart, et al.,


26 Phil. 149........................................................................ 47

General Milling Corporation v. Torres,


G.R. No. 93666, April 22, 1991 ........................................ 48

Paras v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 123169,


November 4, 1996 ............................................................. 50

ExtrinsicAids ............................................................................. 53
1. Contemporaneous circumstances ..................................... 53
2. Policy .................................................................................. 53
3. Legislative history of the statute ..................................... 54
4. Contemporaneous and practical construction ................. .54
5. Executive construction ...................................................... 54
6 . Legislative construction .................................................... 54
7. Judicial construction ......................................................... 55
8. Construction by the bar and legal commentators .......... 55

Simplifications of the rule regarding the use


of extrinsic aids ................................................................. 55
Cases
Association of Small Landowners in the Philippines
v. Secretary of Agrarian Reform,
G.R. No. 78742, July 14, 1989 ............................. ............. . 55
Bonifacio v. Judge Dizon, G.R. No. 79416,
September5, 1989.................................................................. 57
Pascual v. Provincial Board of Nueva Ecija,
106 Phil. 466 [1959] and Aguinaldo v. Santos,
212 SCRA 768 [1992].......................................................... 58
Garcia-Padilla v. Minister Juan Ponce Enrile,
Gen. Fabian C. Ver and General Fidel V. Ramos
& Lt. Col. Miguel Coronel G.R. No. 61388,
April20, 1983.................................................................... 61
Attendant circumstances considered ........................................ 63
Comments on this part of the decision ............................... ......... 64
Contemporaneous circumstances and what was actually
being experienced by the soldiers in the battlefield 64
The historical basis of the President's Power to
suspend the privilege of habeas corpus ........................... 65
Reasons and evils sought to be remedied by LOl 1211.......... 65
Opinions, commentaries of legal luminaries and ruling
of the U.S. Supreme Court ............................................... 66

Cases
CelsO Halili and Arthur Haul v. C.A. and Helen
Meyers Guzman, et al., G.R. No. 113539,
March12, 1998.........................................................................73
Emilio M.R. Osmefla and Pablo Garcia v. Comelec,
G.R. No. 132231, March 31, 1998.....................................78

Dissenting Opinion of Justice Merida Ruth Romero..............82


Dissenting Opinion of Justice Artemio V. Panganiban..........85

Cases
Joker Arroyo, et al. v. Jose de Venecia, et al.,
G.R. No. 127255, June 26, 1998........................................87

Joseph Estrada V. Aniàno Desierto,


in his capacity as Ombudsman, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 146710-15 March 2. 2001 .............. .................. .90

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New Case
Simon B. Aldovino, Jr., Danio B. Faller and
Ferdinand N. Talabong v.
Commission On Elections and Wilfredo F. Asilo,
G.R. No. 184836, December 23, 2009..............................99

Old Case
Socrates v. COMELEC & Hagedorn,
G.R. Nos. 155083-84, October 16, 2002 ........................... 101

Background of rules and jurisprudence in case


of termination of employment 103

Cases
Wenphil Corporation v. NLRC, et al.,
G.R. No. 80587, February 8, 1989 .................................... 105

Ruben Serrano v National Labor Relations


Commission and Isetann Department Store,
G R No 117040, January 27, 2000 107
Agabon v. National Labor Relations Commission,
442 SCRA 573 (2004) 109

Presumptions in aids of construction ................ ........................ 110


Presumption of validity .................................................... 111
Presumption of constitutionality ............... ....................... 111
Presumption of good faith ......................... ....................... 112
Presumption agamst injustice 112
Presumption against inconsistency 112
Presumption against absurdity 113
Presumption against ineffectiveness 113
Presumption against irrepealable laws 113

Case
De Guia v. Guingona, et al.,
G R No 119525, April 18, 1995 114
Presumption against implied repeals 115
Presumption against violation of public policy 115
Presumption of knowledge of existing, laws 115
Presumption of acquiescence to judicial
construction 116
Presumption of jurisdiction . 116
Presumption of acting within the scope of authority 116
Presumption against violation of international law ....... 116

CHAPTER III
LAW, ITS CONCEPT AND CLASSIFICATION
Definition of law ......................................................................... 117
Classification of law ................................................................... 118
Sources of law ............................................................................ 119
Statutes ...................................................................................... 121
Kinds of statutes ........................................................................ 121
As to nature
Penal statutes ........................................................... 121
Remedial statutes ...................................................... ... 121
Substantive statutes ................................................. 121
Labor statutes ........................................................... 121
Tax statutes .............................................................. 121
As to application
Mandatory ................................................................. 121
Directory .................................................................... 121
As to performance
Permanent ................................................................. 121
Temporary ................................................................. 121
As to scope
General ...................................................................... 121
Special ....................................................................... . 121
Local .......................................................................... 121
Other classifications
A statute could either be prospective
orretroactive ...................................................... 121
A statute could either be a repealing act
or an amendatory act ......................................... 121
A statute could either be a reference statute
or a declaratory statute ..................................... 121
Identification of statutes 122
...........................................................

How are statutes identified? 122


............................................

Partsof statutes 122


.........................................................................

Seven parts of a statute 122


...................................................

Title...........................................................................122
Preamble 124
...................................................................

Enacting Clause ..... . ...................... 125


............................ .

xiv
Body 125
Proviso.......................................................................127
Interpretative clause ........... ...................................... 128
Repealing clause.......................................................128
Savingclause ............................................................129
Separability clause...................................................129
Otherlaws ................................................................. 130
1. Presidential issuances........................................130
Background......................................................... 130
Examples............................................................. 130
2. Ordinances..........................................................136
Effectivityof laws ...................................................................... 140
When shall a law take effect? .......................................... 140
Scope of Tañada v. Tuvera............................................... 140
Effectivity of presidential issuances................................ 140
Effectivity of ordinance..................................................... 140
Who are subject to Philippine laws? ........................................ 141

CHAPTER IV
VALIDITY AND CONSTITUTIONALITY
OF STATUTES
Validity and constitutionality of statutes................................ 142
Actual case or controversy ......................................................... 143
Properparty............................................................................... 143
Earliest opportunity .................................................................. 143
Decision of the constitutional question
is necessary to determine the case itself ......................... 144
Effect of unconstitutional statute............................................. 144
If totally declared unconstitutional.......................................... 144
If partially declared unconstitutional ...................................... 144
What is the effect of a statute which is declared
unconstitutional? ............................................................... 145
What is the extent of judicial power to declare the
unconstitutionality of assailed legislative
and executive acts? ............................................................. 146
Requisites for declaration of partial unconstitutionality........ 147

CHAPTER V
GENERAL PRINCIPLES IN THE
CONSTRUCTION OF STATUTES
Statutes must be read and construed as a whole ................... 148

xv
Legislative intent must be ascertained from the
statute as a whole ............................................................. 148

New Case
Lorenzo T. Tangga-an v.
Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Inc., et al.,
G.R. No. 180636, March 13, 2013....................................149

Old Case
Meridian Assurance Corporation v. Dayrit
G.R. No. L-59154, April 3, 1990 ....................................... 152

Courts have the duty to reconcile or harmonize the


different provisions of the statute including the
conflicting provisions thereof ............................................ 153
As a rule, the statute of later date prevails ............................ 153
Generalia specialibus non derogant ......................................... 154
A special law prevails over a general law ............................... 154
Exceptions to this rule .............................................................. 155
Parimatenia rule ....................................................................... 155
In interpreting reenacted statutes, the court will follow the
construction which such statute received when
previously in force ............................................................. 156
In the case of adopted statute, the interpretation of the
courts of the State from which it is adopted should
be considered ..................................................................... 157
In case of conflict between a common law principle and a
statutory provision, the latter prevails ........................... 158
Implied repeals are not legally presumed in the absence
of a clear and unmistakable showing of such
intentions ........ ................................................................... 159

Case
Batangas CATV, Inc. v. The Court of Appeals, et al.,
G.R. No. 138810, September 29, 2004 ............................. 159

CHAPTER VI
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION OF
SPECIFIC STATUTES

Specific Statutes ......................................................................... 161


Rules of construction of the following statutes ........................ 161

xw
Construction of each statute..................................................... 162
PenalStatutes............................................................................ 162
How are penal statutes interpreted? ................................ 162
RemedialStatutes ..................................................................... 162
How are remedial statutes construed? ............................ 162
Substantive Statutes ................................................................. 162
LaborStatutes ........................................................................... 163
How are labor laws interpreted? ...................................... 163
TaxStatutes............................................................................... 164
How are tax statutes interpreted? ................................... 164
MandatoryStatutes................................................................... 165
DirectoryStatutes ...................................................................... 165
PermanentStatute .................................................................... 168
TemporaryStatute .................................................................... 168
GeneralStatute.......................................................................... 168
SpecialStatute........................................................................... 168
LocalStatute.............................................................................. 168
OtherStatutes ........................................................................... 169
Statutes in derogation of rights....................................... 169
Statutes granting privileges............................................. 169
Naturalization laws .......................................................... 169
Statutes imposing taxes and custom duties ................... 169
Statute authorizing suits against the government ........ 169
Statutes prescribing limitations on the taxing
power of local government units ............................. 170
Statute imposing penalties for non-payment of tax 170
Electionlaws ..................................................................... 170
Adoptionstatutes.............................................................. 170
Amnesty proclamations .................................................... 171
Veteran and pension laws................................................ 171
General welfare legislations............................................. 171
Probationlaw .................................................................... 171
Laws on attachment ......................................................... 171
Rulesof court..................................................................... 171
Statutes prescribing qualifications for an office ............. 171
Election laws on qualification and disqualification........ 172
Other classifications .................................................................. 172
A statute could either be prospective or retroactive............... 172
Prospective statute............................................................ 172
Retroactivestatute............................................................ 173
A statute could either be a repealing act or an
Amendatoryact................................................................. 173
Repealingact ..................................................................... 172
Repeal 174
The repeal of a statute is either total or partial..................... 174
Amendatoryact .......................................................................... 175
A Statute could either be a reference statute, a
supplemental statute, a reenacted statute or an
adopted Statute ................................................................. 176
Reference statute .............................................................. 176
Supplemental statutes...................................................... 176
Reenacted statutes ................................................ . ............ 176
Adopted statutes ............................................................... 177

CHAPTER VII
LATIN MAXIMS: THEIR MEANING
AND IMPORTANCE
Importance of Latin Maxims .................................................... 178
Latin maxims applicable to statutory construction ................ . 179
On the principle that laws should be prospective,
not retroactive ........................................................... 179
On the principle that when the law is clear, what
the courts should do is to apply it, not to
interpretit................................................................. 180
On the principle that it is not the letter of the law
that killeth, it is the spirit of the law that
givethlife .................................................................. 181
On the principle that what is not included in those
enumerated are deemed excluded........................... 182
On the principle that special provisions prevail
over general provisions ............................................ 183

New Case
Maria Virginia V. Remo v.
The Honorable Secretary Of Foreign Affairs
G.R. No. 169202, March 5, 2010......................................183
On the principle that while the law may be hard,
it is the law that will be followed ...........................186

New Case
Arnold James M. Ysidoro v. People Of The Philippines
G.R. No. 192330, November 14, 2012..............................186

On the general principle that without intent, there


can be no crime ......................................................... 188

xvrn
On the principle that ignorance of the law excuses
no one but ignorance of fact may be an excuse .....188
On the principle that when the law does not distinguish,
we should not distinguish........................................189
Latin Maxims and phrases related to the subject
of statutory construction................................................... 189
Mens legislatores............................................................... 189
Reddendo singula singulis................................................ 190
Cassus omissus pro omisso habbendus est...................... 190
Noscitur a sociis ................................................................ 191
Ejusdem generic ................................................................ 192

CHAPTER VIII

INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES


USED IN A STATUTE

How are words and phrases in a statute interpreted? ............ 194


Is the statutory definition conclusive to the courts?............... 194
Rules that govern the following situations.............................. 194
When the word used in a statute has a general meaning 195
When the word used has a technical meaning ........................ 195

Case
Macasaet v Commission On Audit
G.R. No. 83748, May 12, 1989 .........................................196

When the word used has no meaning in harmony with


the legislative intent ......................................................... 198
When the word or phrase is repeatedly used in
astatute ............................................................................. 199
Particular words and phrases................................................... 199
Theword "OR"................................................................... 199
The word "AND .................................................................. 201
The term "AND/OR ............................................................ 201

New Case
Antonio D. Dayao, et al., v. COMELEC, et al.,
G.R. No. 193643 and
Federation of Philippine Industries, Inc. v.
COMELEC, et al.,
G.R. No. 193704, January 29, 2013.................................201

kAm
Old Case
Civil Service Commission v. Saturnino Dela Cruz
G.R. No. 158737, August 31, 2004 ..................................205
The words "SHALL" ..................................................................206
The word "MAY" ........................................................................ 208
The word "ALL," "EVERY," and "ANY .................................... 208
The words "AND SO FORTH,"
and "AND THE LIKE ........................................................ 208
Negative terms "CANNOT," "SHALL NOT,"
and"NO .............................................................................. 209

Due process of law..................................................................... 209


Requirements of due process .................................................... 210
Substantive due process............................................................ 210
Procedural due process............................................................... 210
Two aspects of procedural due process .................................... 210
Court's power to construe statutes arises only if the
statute is not clear............................................................ 212
In the process of construing a statute, what are those
that the court can do and what are those that
the court cannot do........................................................... 212
What happens if the statute is not capable of
interpretation or construction' ........................................ 213
Can the supreme court abandon or overrule its
earlier decision?................................................................. 213
If the decision of the supreme court in a particular case
is not correct, should it be followed by the
inferior courts? .................................................................. 215

CHAPTER IX
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION
OF CONTRACTS
Can the contracting parties enter into any kind of
agreement and establish such terms and conditions
that they may deem proper? ............................................ 216
Who are bound by the terms of the contract 9 ......................... 217
When is it necessary and not necessary to interpret the
terms of the contract? ....................................................... 217
In case of conflict between the words of the contract
and evident intention of the parties,
which prevails? ............................................. .....................219
How to judge the intention of the parties? .............................. 219

xx
Rules governing the following:
Effect of the use of several terms.................................... 220
Effect of stipulations that admit of several
meanings................................................................... 220
Effect of words which may have different
significations ............................................................. 220
Effect of usage or custom of the place ............................. .220
Effect of obscure words or stipulation in a contract 220
Use of general terms ................................................................. 220
Stipulations that admit general meanings.............................. 220
Usage or custom of the place .................................................... 220
Obscure words or stipulation.................................................... 220
Rule in case of doubt as to the principal object and as to
the incidental circumstances ............................................. 221
Other rules of interpretation.................................................... 221

New Case
Salun-At Marquez and Nestor Dela Cruz v.
Eloisa Espejo, et al.,
G.R. No. 168387, August 25, 2010 . ...................................223

CHAPTER X
OTHER SUPREME COURT DECISIONS
INVOLVING THE SUBJECT OF STATUTORY
CONSTRUCTION

Cases

Emeteria Liwag v.
Happy Glen Loop Homeowners Association, Inc.,
G.R. No. 189755, July 4, 2012 ........................................227
Philippine International Trading Corporation v.
Commission On Audit
G.R. No. 183517, June 22, 2010 .....................................227
Batangas Power Corporation v. Batangas City and
National Power Corporation, G.R. No. 152675;
and National Power Corporation v. Hon. Ricardo
R. Rosario, et al., G.R. No. 152771,
April28, 2004....................................................................228
Lucio Morigo v. People of the Philippines,
G.R. No. 145226, February 6, 2004.................................231

Mel
United Harbor Pilots' Assn. of the Phils., Inc. v.
Assn. of Int'l. Shipping Lines, G.R. No. 133763,
November 13, 2002 ........................................................... 234
People of the Philippines v. Sandiganbayan
and Ceferino S. Paredes, Jr., G.R. No. 101724,
SupremeCourt .................................................................... 235
Tupas v. Court of Appeals G.R. No. 89571,
February6, 1991 ............................................................... 238
Joint Ministry of Health-Ministry of Labor And
Employment Accreditation Committee For
Medical Clinics v. Court of Appeals,
G.R. 724, April Z, 1931 ...............................................

Maceda v. Macaraig G.R. No. 88291,


May31, 1991 ..................................................................... 240
Philippine Petroleum Corporation v. Municipality
of Pililia, G.R No. 90776, June 3, 1991 .......................... 241
Republic of the Philippines v. Intermediate
Appellate Court, G.R. No. 69344, April 26, 1991 ........... 241
Basco v. PAGCOR, G.R. No. 91649, May 14, 1991 ......... 241
Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Court
of Tax Appeals, G.R. No. 44007,
March 20, 1991 ................................................................... 242
De Villa v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 87416,
April8, 1991 ....................................................................... 242
Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary,
G.R. No. 83815, February 22, 1991 .................................. 242
People of the Philippines v. Donato, G.R. No. 79269,
June5, 1991 .................................... ........ .. ........................ 244
Board of Commissioners v. Judge de la Rosa,
G.R. No. 95122; Board of Commissioners v.
Judge Capulong, G.R. No. 95123;Gatchalian
v. Board of Commissioners, G.R. Nos. 95612-13,
May31, 1991 ............... ...... ........................... .................... ... 244
Alvendia v. Intermediate Appellate Court,
G.R. No. 72138, January 22, 1990 ..................................... 245

xxil
Meridian Assurance Corporation v. Dayrit,
G.R. No. 59154, April 3, 1990 . ......................................... 245

Songco, et al. v. National Labor Relations


Commission, G.R. Nos. 50999-51000,
March 23, 1990 247

Fiestan v Court of Appeals, G R No 81552,


May28, 1990..................................................................... 247

Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,


G R No 54470, May 8, 1990 248
Brent School, Inc., et al. v. Zamora, et al.,
G.R. No. 48494, February 5, 1990.................................... 248
Atlas Consolidated Mining & Development
Corporation v Court of Appeals, et al,
G R No 54305, February 14, 1990 249
Liamado v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 84850,
June 29, 1989 ..................................................................... 250
Jandusay, et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al.,
G.R. No. 48714, April 18, 1989......................................... 252

Manila Resource Development v. NLRC,


G.R. No. 80586, May 3, 1989 ........................................... 252
Regidor v. Chiongbian, G.R. No. 85815,
May 19, 1989 253
Republic of the Philippines v. Sandiganbayan,
G.R. No. 84895, May 4, 1989 ............................................ 253
Francisco v. Permskul, G.R. No. 810061,
May12, 1989..................................................................... 253
Liamado v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 84850,
June 29, 1989 254
SM Agri/and General Machineries v NLRC,
G.R.No 748061, January 9 1989 254
Republic of the Philippines v. Sandiganbayan,
G.R. No. 84895, May 4, 1989 ........................................... 254

People of the Philippines v. Dacuycuy, G.R. No. 45127,


May 5, 1989 ....................................................................... 255

xon
xxiv
CHAPTER I
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION,
ITS CONCEPT, PURPOSE, AND EFFECT

I. STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, DEFINED

Statutory construction is the act or process of discovering and


expounding the meaning and intention of the authors of the law
with respect to its application to a given case, where that intention
is rendered doubtful, among others, by reason of the fact that the
given case is not explicitly provided in the law.

II. CONSTRUCTION DISTINGUISHED FROM


INTERPRETATION
Construction and interpretation have the same purpose and
that is to ascertain and give effect to the legislative intent. A distinc-
tion, however, has been drawn between construction and interpreta-
tion. One who interprets makes use of intrinsic aids or those found
in the statute itself, while one who constructs makes use of extrinsic
aids or those found outside of the written language of the law (Caltex
[Philippines], Inc. v. Palomar, L-19650, September 29, 1966).
Hence, when the words and phrases of a statute are not obscure
and ambiguous, the meaning and intention of the legislature should
be determined from the language employed, and when there is no
ambiguity in the words, there is no room for construction (Allarde v.
Commission on Audit, 218 SCRA 227).
When the language under consideration is plain, it is neither
necessary nor permissible to resort to extrinsic aids (People v. Amigo,
67 SCAD 28).
When the law is clear and unambiguous, the court is left with
no alternative but to apply the same according to its clear language
(Security Bank and Trust Co. v. RTC of Manila, 75 SCAD 519).
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

III. IN A NUTSHELL THEREFORE, THE MOST BASIC


RULES TO REMEMBER ARE AS FOLLOWS:

Apply the Law Interpret the Law Construct the Law


When the law When there is When the intent
speaks in clear and ambiguity in the of the legislature
categorical language language of the cannot be
statute, ascertain ascertained by
legislative intent merely making use
by making use of of intrinsic aids, the
intrinsic aids, or court should resort
those found in the to extrinsic aids, or
law itself, those found outside
the language of the
law.

lv. DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT THAT


CLARIFY THE RULE ON THE ISSUE OF WHEN TO
APPLY AND INTERPRET THE LAW
The decision of the Supreme Court on the issue of when to
apply and interpret the law has not changed.
1. In Songco, et al. v. National Labor Relations Commission,
the Supreme Court said: "When the law speaks in clear and
categorical language, there is no room for interpretation
or construction. There is only room for application. A
plain and unambiguous statute speaks for itself, and any
attempt to make it clearer is vain labor and tends only to
obscurity." (G.R. Nos. 50999-5100, March 23, 1990)
2. In Ramirez v. Court of Appeals, September 30, 1986,
Second Division, Feria, J., the Supreme Court made the
same ruling, but explained further when an interpretation
can be resorted to, thus: "Where the language of a statute
is clear and unambiguous, the law is applied according
to it express terms, and interpretation would be resorted
to only where a literal interpretation would either be
impossible or absurd or would lead to an injustice." (248
SCRA 590)
3. When the law speaks in clear and categorical language,
there is no need, in the absence of legislative intent to the
CHAPTER I 3
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, ITS CONCEPT, PURPOSE, AND EFFECT

contrary, for any interpretation (Domingo v. Commission


on Audit, 297 SCRA 168).
4. When the law speaks in clear and categorical language,
there is no reason for interpretation or construction, but
only for application (Republic v. Court of Appeals, 299
SCRA 199).
5. Statutory Construction applied in connection with RA
No. 9227. - It is axiomatic that when the law is clear,
the function of the courts is simple application, not inter-
pretation or circumvention. With respect to the manner
of computation of the retirement benefits in light of the
Special Allowance granted under RA No. 9227, Section
5 thereof, could not be any clearer. (Re: Request of Judge
Tito G. Gustilo that the second 25% grant of the special
allowance for judges be included in the computation of
his retirement benefits, A.M. No. RTJ-04-1868, August 13,
2004; Callejo, Sr., J.)

V. THREE (3) CARDINAL RULES WHEN THE


WORDINGS OF THE CONSTITUTION ARE
SUBJECT TO INTERPRETATION
FIRST: VERBA LEGIS, which means that whenever possible,
the words used in the Constitution must be given their ordinary
meaning except where technical terms are employed.
SECOND: RATIO LEGIS EST ANIMA, which means that
in case of ambiguity, the words of the Constitution should be
interpreted in accordance with the intent of its framers.
THIRD: UTMAGIS VALEATOUAMPEREAT, which means
that the Constitution should be interpreted as a whole, but if the
plain meaning of the word is not found to be clear, resort to other
aids is available. (Francisco v. HRET, G.R. No. 160261, November
10, 2003)

VI. WHO INTERPRETS THE LAW?


Anyone can interpret the law. Lawyers, policemen, arbiters,
administrative boards and agencies, government as well as private
executives are involved from time to time in the interpretation of
laws. Their interpretation, however, is not necessarily conclusive nor
can they bind the courts. Hence, in many occasions, the decisions of
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

regulatory boards and administrative agencies have been elevated


and appealed to the Supreme Court in cases where there is abuse of
discretion and authority or when there is a violation of due process
or denial of substantial justice or erroneous interpretation of the
law (MantradeFMMC Division Employee and Workers Union v.
Bacungan, G.R. No. L-48437, September 30, 1986, Second Division,
Feria, J.).
The judiciary has the delicate task of ascertaining the sign-
ificance of a constitutional or statutory provision, an executive
order, a procedural or a municipal ordinance. It discharges a role
no crucial than the roles played by the two other departments in
maintaining the rules of law. To assure stability in legal relations
and avoid confusion, it has to speak with one voice. Logically and
rightly, it does so with finality through the highest judicial organ, the
Supreme Court. What it says is definite and authoritative, binding
on those who occupy the lower ranks in the judicial hierarchy (Conde
v. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. No. 70443, September 15,
1986, Second Division, Gutierez, Jr., J.).

VII. PURPOSE OF INTERPRETATION AND


CONSTRUCTION
Interpretation and construction have the same purpose and
that is to ascertain and give effect to the legislative intent.

VIII. WHEN IS IT NECESSARY


TO INTERPRET AND CONSTRUCT?
It is necessary to interpret or construct when any of the follow-
ing reasons exists:
1. When the language of the statute is ambiguous, doubtful,
or obscure, when taken in relation to a set of facts;
2. When reasonable minds disagree as to the meaning of the
language used in the statute.

IX. WHEN IS IT NOT NECESSARY TO INTERPRET


AND CONSTRUCT?
It is not necessary to interpret or construct when the law
speaks in clear and categorical language. The duty of the court, in
such a case, is to APPLY THE LAW, NOT TO INTERPRET IT (Go
Ka Toc & Sons v. Rice & Corn Board, G.R. No. L-23607, May 23,
CHAPTER I 5
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, ITS CONCEPT, PURPOSE, AND EFFECT

1967; People v. Mapa, G.R. No. L-22301, August 30, 1967; Luzon
Security Co. v. De Garcia, G.R. No. L-25659, October 31, 1969).

New Case:

CYNTHIA S. BOLOS v. DANILO T. BOLOS


G.R. No. 186400, October 20, 2010
FACTS:
Cynthia Bolos filed a petition for the declaration of nullity of her
marriage to Danilo Bolos under Article 36 of the Family Code. After
trial on the merits, the RTC granted the petition for annulment.
A copy of said decision was received by Danilo and he timely
filed the Notice of Appeal. The RTC denied due course to the appeal
for his failure to file the required motion for reconsideration or new
trial, in violation of Section 20 of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute
Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages.
His motion for reconsideration was likewise denied.
The RTC issued the order declaring its decision final and
executory and granting the Motion for Entry of Judgment filed by
Cynthia.
Danilo filed with the CA a petition for certiorari under Rule
65 seeking to annul the orders of the RTC and prayed that he be
declared psychologically capacitated to render the essential marital
obligations to Cynthia, who should be declared guilty of abandoning
him, the family home and their children.
The CA granted the petition and reversed and set aside the
assailed orders of the RTC and explained that a motion for recon-
sideration as a prerequisite to appeal under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC
did not apply in this case as the marriage between the parties was
solemnized before the Family Code took effect.
Cynthia sought reconsideration by filing her Manifestation with
Motion for Extension of Time to File Motion for Reconsideration and
Motion for Partial Reconsideration [of the Honorable Court's Decision
dated December 10, 2008]. The CA, however, denied the motion for
extension of time considering that the 15-day reglementary period is
non-extendible, pursuant to Section 2, Rule 40, 1997 Rules on Civil
Procedure and the motion for partial reconsideration was likewise
denied.
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Hence, Cynthia interposes the present petition via Rule 45 of


the Rules of Court.

ISSUE:
Whether A.M. NO. 02-11-10-SC entitled 'Rule on Declaration
of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable
Marriages" is applicable to marriages solemnized before the
effectivity of the Family Code.

HELD:
The Court finds the petition devoid of merit.
The Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages
and Annulment of Voidable Marriages as contained in A.M. No.
02-11-10-SC which the Court promulgated on March 15, 2003, is
explicit in its scope. Section 1 of the Rule, in fact, reads:

Section 1. Scope - This Rule shall govern petitions


for declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages and
annulment of voidable marriages under the Family Code
of the Philippines.

The Rules of Court shall apply suppletorily.


The categorical language of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC leaves
no room for doubt. The coverage extends only to those marriages
entered into during the effectivity of the Family Code which took
effect on August 3, 1988. The rule sets a demarcation line between
marriages covered by the Family Code and those solemnized under
the Civil Code.

A cardinal rule in statutory construction is that when


the law is clear and free from any doubt or ambiguity,
there is no room for construction or interpretation. There
is only room for application. As the statute is clear, plain,
and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal
meaning and applied without attempted interpretation.
This is what is known as the plain-meaning rule or verba
legis. It is expressed in the maxim, index animi sermo, or
"speech is the index of intention." Furthermore, there is
the mmm verbs legis ,ion et recedendum, or "from the
words of a statute there should be no departure."
CHAPTER I 7
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, ITS CONCEPT, PURPOSE, AND EFFECT

Old Case:

Request of Judge Tito G. Gustilo that the second 25% grant


of the special allowance for judges be included in the
computation of his retirement benefits,
A.M. No. RTJ-04-1868, August 13, 2004; Callejo, Sr., J.

Facts: Judge Tito G. Gustilo, then Presiding Judge of the RTC


of Iloilo City, Branch 23 requested that the second tranche of the
Special Allowance granted to judges under RA No. 9227 be included
in the computation of his retirement benefits. He claimed that
pursuant to OCA Circular No. 48-2004 dated March 3, 2004, the first
tranche of the Special Allowance equivalent to 25% was implemented
starting on November 11, 2003. The next 25% (second tranche) will
be implemented on November 11, 2004. In this connection, Judge
Gustio appealed to the Chief Justice that, in the computation of
his retirement benefits, the second tranche of the Special Allowance
be included since his retirement was only one (1) month and twelve
(12) days before its implementation on November 11, 2004.
The Office of the Court Administrator (0 CA) recommended
that the request be granted, citing Judge Gustio's service record
in the judiciary, which started on January 18, 1983, including his
exemplary record of disposing cases at an average of 2.25 cases each
month.
Judge Gustio's letter and the 0 CA's memorandum were
referred to the Court's Chief Attorney, who recommended the denial
of the request for not being in accord with RA No. 9227 and the
Guidelines promulgated by the Court.
Held: (1) It is axiomatic that when the law is clear, the
function of the courts is simple application, not interpretation or
circumvention. - With respect to the manner of computation of the
retirement benefits in light of the Special Allowance granted under
HA No. 9227, Section 5 thereof, quoted anew below, could not be any
clearer:
Section 5. Inclusion in the Computation of Retire-
ment Benefits. - For purposes of retirement, only the
allowances actually received and tranche or tranches of
the special allowance already implemented and received
pursuant to this Act by the justices, judges and all other
positions in the Judiciary with the equivalent rank of jus-
tices of the Court of Appeals and judges of the Regional
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Trial Court as authorized under existing laws shall, at


the date of their retirement, be included in the computa-
tion of their respective retirement benefits.
A plain reading of the above provision shows that, for purposes
of retirement, only the allowances "actually received" and the
tranche or tranches "already received and implemented," upon
the date of retirement, shall be included in the computation of the
retirement benefits. Otherwise put, before the Special Allowance
could be considered in the computation of retirement benefits, it
should have been "actually received" and the tranche or tranches
thereof should have been "already implemented and received" at the
date of retirement.
(2) Accrued; Meaning of. - The Guidelines promulgated by
this Court pursuant to RA No. 9227 is even more definite as it used
the term "accrued" in this wise: "only the special allowance actually
received and that which has accrued at the time of retirement shall
be included." As correctly reasoned by the Chief Attorney:
Notably, the phrase "has accrued at the time of retirement"
is used in the Guidelines instead of "the tranche or tranches of the
special allowance already implemented and received" which is used
in Section 5 of IRA No. 9227. Nevertheless, the same meaning is con-
veyed. The word "accrue" means "to come into existence as an en-
forceable claim: vest as a right" or "to come by way of increase or
addition: arise as a growth or result" or "to be periodically accumu-
lated in the process of time whether as an increase or a decrease."
Hence, a Special Allowance that has not yet come into existence as
an enforceable claim or has not yet vested on the recipient judge as
a matter of right cannot be considered in the computation of retire-
ment benefits.
Indeed, "accrue" in its past tense is "in sense of due and de-
mandable; vested." In the case of Judge Gustilo, on the date of his
retirement, the second tranche of the Special Allowance has not ac-
crued as yet; hence, it cannot be said that the same is due and de-
mandable or that it has vested insofar as he is concerned.
(3) Interpretation of retirement laws generally favors the
retiree, except when the law is clear and unambiguous. - The Chief
Attorney, likewise, correctly posits that the strict application of
Section 5 of RA No. 9227 is called for by the fact that, under Section
3 thereof, the source for the Special Allowance is the Judiciary
Development Fund (JDF) established under PD No. 1949, which
basically comes from the docket fees paid by litigants:
CHAPTER I 9
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, ITS CONCEPT, PURPOSE, AND EFFECT

As such, the JDF as a fund source is not constant


or fixed in amount, as its amount depends on the amount
collected by the courts and the amount of increase in
docket fees that the Court would impose. The fact of
the JDF becoming insufficient has been foreseen by the
Court and is reflected in the second paragraph of 4.1 of
the Guidelines quoted above. It is worth noting that until
now, the first tranche of the Special Allowance has been
received only for the months of November 11, 2003 until
February 2004. The delay in receipt thereof may continue
if courts nationwide do not timely transmit the reports of
collections to the OCA, as the JDF should be disbursed
only if the reports of collections and the deposits under the
JDF account for the Special Allowance tally in accordance
with accounting and auditing rules.

While th[eJ Court had, in certain cases, adopted a liberal


stance in interpreting retirement laws in favor of the retiree,
it cannot do so in this case because, as earlier stated. Sec-
tion 5 of RA No. 9227 is quite clear and unambiguous. In other
words, there is no room for interpretation but only simple
application of the law." (underlining and emphasis supplied)

X. AMBIGUITY DEFINED
Ambiguity is doubtfulness, doubleness of meaning, indistinct-
ness or uncertainty of meaning of an expression used in a written in-
strument. (Black's Law Dictionary, 4th Edition, p. 105) It has been
held, however, that ambiguity does not only arise from the meaning
of the particular words but also from the general scope and meaning
of the statute when all its provisions are examined. There is also an
ambiguity when a literal interpretation of the words would lead to
unreasonable, unjust or absurd consequences, or where a statute is
in conflict with the Constitution, or where the statute would defeat
the policy of the legislation. (Tarlac Development Corporation v. CA,
L-41012, September 30, 1976)

M. THE PRESENT STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT, AND


HOW THIS AFFECTS INTERPRETATION
AND CONSTRUCTION OF STATUTES
The present government is a presidential form with the
executive power being vested in the President of the Philippines,
10 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

the legislative power in the Congress of the Philippines consisting of


a Senate and a House of Representatives, and the judicial power in
one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established
by law. This structure upholds the principle of separation of powers
and the system of checks and balances.
There is, however, a more precise and specific meaning attached
to each of the said powers.

XII. LEGISLATIVE POWER


It is the authority of Congress to make laws and to alter or
repeal them. There are two kinds of legislative powers namely:
1. Original Legislative Power— This is a power belonging
to the sovereign people and this is supreme.
2. Derivative Legislative Power - This is delegated by
the sovereign people to the legislative bodies and it is
subordinate to the original power of the people.

EXAMPLE OF A CASE WHEN THE SUPREME COURT


RULED THAT THE ISSUANCE OF PROCLAMATION
NO. 164 WAS AN INVALID EXERCISE OF LEGISLATIVE
POWER AND RULED THAT PROCLAMATION NO. 164
ISSUED BY PRESIDENT CORAZON C. AQUINO WAS
NULL AND VOID

MUNICIPALITY OF SAN JUAN, METRO MANILA


v. COURT OF APPEALS, et al.,
G.R. No. 125183, September 29, 1997

FACTS:
On February 17, 1978, former President Ferdinand Marcos
issued Proclamation No. 1716 reserving for Municipal Government
Center Site Purposes certain parcels of land of the public domain
located in the Municipality of San Juan, Metro Manila.
Considering that the land covered by the above-mentioned
proclamation was occupied by squatters, the Municipality of San
Juan purchased an 18-hectare land in Taytay, Rizal as resettlement
center for the said squatters. Only after resettling these squatters
would the municipality be able to develop and construct its municipal
government center on the subject land.
CHAPPER I 11
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, ITS CONCEPT, PURPOSE, AND EFFECT

After hundreds of squatter families were resettled, the


Municipality of San Juan started to develop its government center
by constructing the INP Building, which now serves as the PNP
Headquarters, the Fire Station Headquarters, and the site to house
the two salas of the Municipal Trial Courts and the Office of the
Municipal Prosecutors. Also constructed thereon are the Central
Post Office Building and the Municipal High School Annex Building.
On October 6, 1987, after Congress had already convened on
July 26, 1987, former President Corazon Aquino issued Proclamation
No. 164, amending Proclamation No. 1716.

On June 1, 1988, the Corazon de Jesus Homeowners Associa-


tion, Inc., one of herein private respondents, filed with the Regional
Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial Region (Pasig, Branch
159) a petition for prohibition with urgent prayer for restraining or-
der against the Municipal Mayor and Engineer of San Juan and the
Curator of Pinaglabanan Shrine, to enjoin them from either remov-
ing or demolishing the houses of the association members who were
claiming that the lots they occupied have been awarded to them by
Proclamation No. 164.
On September 14, 1990, the regional trial court dismissed the
petition, ruling that the property in question is being utilized by the
Municipality of San Juan for government purposes and thus, the
condition set forth in Proclamation No. 164 is absent.
The appeal before the CA was dismissed in a decision dated
July 17, 1991. This decision became final and the said judgment was
duly entered on April 8, 1992.
Disregarding the ruling of the court in this final judgment, pri-
vate respondents hired a private surveyor to make consolidation-
subdivision plans of the land in question, submitting the same to
respondent Department of Environment and Natural Resources
(DENR) in connection with their application for a grant under Proc-
lamation No. 164.
To prevent DENR from issuing any grant to private respondents,
petitioner municipality filed a petition for prohibition with prayer for
issuance of a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction
against respondent DENR and private respondent Corazon de Jesus
Homeowners Association.
The regional trial court sustained petitioner municipality,
enjoining the DENR from disposing and awarding the parcels of
12 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

land covered by Proclamation No. 164. The CA reversed the said


decision. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE:
Is Proclamation No. 164 a valid exercise of legislative power?
More specifically, is Proclamation No. 164 a valid legislation?

HELD:
Proclamation No. 164 is obviously not a valid act of
legislation —Proclamation No. 1716 was issued by the late President
Ferdinand E. Marcos on February 17, 1978 in the due exercise of
legislative power vested upon him by Amendment No. 6 introduced in
1976. Being a valid act of legislation, said Proclamation may only be
amended by an equally valid act of legislation. Proclamation No. 164
is obviously not a valid act of legislation. After the so-called bloodless
revolution on February 1986, President Corazon Aquino issued
Proclamation No. 3, promulgating the Provisional Constitution,
or more popularly referred to as the Freedom Constitution. Under
Article II, Section 1 of the Freedom Constitution, the President shall
continue to exercise legislative power until a legislature is elected
and convened under a new constitution. Then came the ratification
of the draft constitution, to be known later as the 1987 Constitution.
When Congress was convened on July 26, 1987, President Aquino
lost this legislative power under the Freedom Constitution.
Proclamation No. 164, amending Proclamation No. 1716 was issued
on October 6, 1987 when legislative power was already solely vested
in Congress.
The Court holds that the issuance of Proclamation No.
164 was an invalid exercise of legislative power. Consequently,
said Proclamation is hereby declared NULL and VOID -
There is a long standing principle that every statute is presumed
to be valid (Salas v. Jarencio, 46 SCR4 734 [1970]). However,
this rests upon the premise that the statute was duly enacted by
legislature. This presumption cannot apply when there is clear
usurpation of legislative power by the executive branch. For th[e]
Court to allow such disregard of the most basic of all constitutional
principles by reason of the doctrine of presumption of validity of
a law would be to turn its back to its sacred duty to uphold and
defend the Constitution. Thus, also, it is in the discharge of this task
that we take this exception from the Court's usual practice of not
entertaining constitutional questions unless they are specifically
raised, insisted upon, and adequately argued.
CHAPTER I 13
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, ITS CONCEPT, PURPOSE, AND EFFECT

XIII. JUDICIAL POWER


TRADITIONAL CONCEPT OF JUDICIAL POWER

What is the traditional concept of judicial power?


The traditional concept of judicial power refers only to the
authority to settle justiciable controversies or disputes involving
rights that are enforceable and demandable before the court of justice
or the redress of wrongs for the violation of such rights (Philippine
Legal Encyclopedia, by Jose Agaton R. Sibal, citing Lopez v. Roxas,
17SCRA 756).

What is the new definition of judicial power?


The traditional concept of judicial power, as above-mentioned,
including now the duty of the courts of justice "to determine whether
or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack
or excess of jurisdiction on any part of any branch or instrumentality
of the Government," constitutes the totality of the judicial power
which is now vested by our Constitution "in one Supreme Court and
in such lower courts as may be established by law." This is what is
known and referred to as the expanded jurisdiction of the Supreme
Court.

The significance of the additional sentence "and to determine


whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amount-
ing to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
instrumentality of the government"? (Last paragraph Section 1,
Article VIII, 1987 Constitution)
This sentence has, in effect, expanded the power, authority,
and jurisdiction of our courts of justice, particularly the Supreme
Court, to determine whether any branch or instrumentality of our
government has committed "grave abuse of discretion amounting
to lack or excess of jurisdiction." In fact, this power, authority and
jurisdiction goes beyond the mere legality of a questioned act, or
transaction, whether it is committed, or entered into by the highest
official of the land, or of any official or branch of our government.
The question of whether the said abuse of discretion is grave or
not is ultimately determined, not by the officials whose acts are in
question, but by our courts, particularly by the Supreme Court, and
it is in this sense that the new provision grants unto the Supreme
Court "an expanded jurisdiction and authority" to look into what it
considers as a proper subject of its final disposition. In so doing, the
14 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Supreme Court, as the final arbiter, enjoys a wide latitude of power


and discretion using, as it may, its honest evaluation of facts, laws,
jurisprudence and any and all materials, books and points of refer-
ence which may be valuable to support its analysis and conclusion.
The wisdom and propriety, for instance, which may be invoked
by the executive department, may not be considered so by the
scrutinizing minds of the justices. In the end, the Supreme Court
may find itself intervening in matters which should better be left to
the wisdom of the leaders of the nation who are directly responsible
to the sovereign electorate.
In Manila Prince Hotel v. Government Service Insurance
System, et al. (G.R. No. 122156, February 3, 1997), the Supreme
Court ruled that the sale of 51% of the shares of GSIS in Manila
Hotel Corporation, pursuant to the privatization program of the
government, cannot contravene the Filipino First Policy. In this
case, the petitioner invoked Article XII, Section 10(2) of the 1987
Constitution and submits that Manila Hotel has been identified
with the Filipino nation and has practically become a historical
monument that reflects the vibrance of Philippine heritage and
culture. Since Manila Hotel is part of national patrimony and part
of the national economy, petitioner should be preferred after it has
matched the offer of Renong Berhad, a Malaysian firm.

EXAMPLE OF A CASE WHEN THE SUPREME COURT


RULED THAT THE EXECUTIVE ORDER ISSUED BYTHE
PRESIDENT WAS DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL
INSOFAR AS IT IS VIOLATIVE OF THE EQUAL
PROTECTION CLAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION

LOUIS "BAROK' C. BIRAOGO v. THE PHILIPPINE


TRUTH COMMISSION OF 2010
G.R. No. 192935, December 7, 2010
and
REP. EDCEL C. bAGMAN,
REP. RODOLFO B. ALBANO, JR., REP. SIMEON A.
DATUMANONG, and
REP. ORLANDO B. FUA, SR.
v .

EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.


and DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT
SECRETARY ELORENCIO B. ABAD
G.R. No. 193036, December 7, 2010
CHAPTER I 15
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, ITS CONCEPT, PURPOSE, AND EFFECT

For consideration before the Court are two consolidated cases


both of which essentially assail the validity and constitutionality of
Executive Order No. 1, dated July 30, 2010, entitled "Creating the
Philippine Truth Commission of 2010."
The first case is a special civil action for prohibition instituted
by petitioner Louis Biraogo in his capacity as a citizen and taxpayer.
Biraogo assails Executive Order No. 1 for being violative of the leg-
islative power of Congress under Section 1, Article VI of the Consti-
tution as it usurps the constitutional authority of the legislature to
create a public office and to appropriate funds therefor.

The second case, G.R. No. 193036, is a special civil action for
certiorari and prohibition filed by petitioners Edcel C. bagman,
Rodolfo B. Albano Jr., Simeon A. Datumanong, and Orlando B. Fua,
Sr. as incumbent members of the House of Representatives.
The petitioners assail Executive Order No. 1 because it is viola-
tive of the equal protection clause of the Constitution. They contend
that it does not apply equally to all members of the same class such
that the intent of singling out the "previous administration" as its
sole object makes the Philippine Truth Commission (PTC) an "ad-
venture in partisan hostility."
The genesis of the foregoing cases can be traced to the events
prior to the historic May 2010 elections, when then Senator Benigno
Simeon Aquino III declared his staunch condemnation of graft and
corruption with his slogan, "Kung walang corrupt, walang mahi rap."
The Filipino people, convinced of his sincerity and of his ability to
carry out this noble objective, catapulted the good senator to the
presidency.
To transform his campaign slogan into reality, President Aqui-
no found a need for a special body to investigate reported cases of
graft and corruption allegedly committed during the previous ad-
ministration.
Thus, at the dawn of his administration, the President on July
30, 2010, signed Executive Order No. 1 establishing the Philippine
Truth Commission of 2010.

Whether Executive Order No. 1 violates the equal protection


clause.
16 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

HELD:
Although the purpose of the PTC falls within the investigative
power of the President, the Court finds difficulty in upholding the
constitutionality of Executive Order No. 1 in view of its apparent
transgression of the equal protection clause enshrined in Section 1,
Article III (Bill of Rights) of the 1987 Constitution. Section 1 reads:

Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty,


or property without due process of law, nor shall any
persom be denied the equal protection of the laws.

The petitioners assail Executive Order No. 1 because it is


violative of this constitutional safeguard. They contend that it does
not apply equally to all members of the same class such that the
intent of singling out the "previous administration" as its sole object
makes the PTC an "adventure in partisan hostility." Thus, in order
to be accorded with validity, the commission must also cover reports
of graft and corruption in virtually all administrations previous to
that of former President Arroyo.
One of the basic principles on which this government was
founded is that of the equality of right which is embodied in Section 1,
Article III of the 1987 Constitution. The equal protection of the laws
is embraced in the concept of due process, as every unfair discrimi-
nation offends the requirements of justice and fair play. It has been
embodied in a separate clause, however, to provide for a more spe-
cific guaranty against any form of undue favoritism or hostility from
the government. Arbitrariness in general may be challenged on the
basis of the due process clause. But if the particular act assailed par-
takes of an unwarranted partiality or prejudice, the sharper weapon
to cut it down is the equal protection clause.
According to a long line of decisions, equal protection simply
requires that all persons or things similarly situated should be
treated alike, both as to rights conferred and responsibilities imposed.
It requires public bodies and institutions to treat similarly situated
individuals in a similar manner. The purpose of the equal protection
clause is to secure every person within a state's jurisdiction against
intentional and arbitrary discrimination, whether occasioned by the
express terms of a statue or by its improper execution through the
state's duly constituted authorities.
The equal protection clause is aimed at all official state ac-
tions, not just those of the legislature. Its inhibitions cover all the
CHAPTERI 17
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, ITS CONCEPT, PURPOSE, AND EFFECT

departments of the government including the political and execu-


tive departments, and extend to all actions of a state denying equal
protection of the laws, through whatever agency or whatever guise
is taken.
Applying these precepts to this case, Executive Order No. 1
should be struck down as violative of the equal protection clause.
The clear mandate of the envisioned truth commission is to
investigate and find out the truth "concerning the reported cases of
graft and corruption during the previous administration" only. The
intent to single out the previous administration is plain, patent and
manifest. Mention of it has been made in at least three portions of
the questioned executive order. Specifically, these are:

WHEREAS, there is a need for a separate body dedi-


cated solely to investigating and finding out the truth con-
cerning the reported cases of graft and corruption during
the previous administration, and which will recom-
mend the prosecution of the offenders and secure justice
for all;
Section 1. Creation of a Commission. - There is
hereby created the PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION,
hereinafter referred to as the "COMMISSION," which
shall primarily seek and find the truth on, and toward this
end, investigate reports of graft and corruption of such
scale and magnitude that shock and offend the moral and
ethical sensibilities of the people, committed by public
officers and employees, their co-principals, accomplices
and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the
previous administration; and thereafter recommend
the appropriate action or measure to be taken thereon
to ensure that the full measure of justice shall be served
without fear or favor.
Section 2. Powers and Functions. - The Commis-
sion, which shall have all the powers of an investigative
body under Section 37, Chapter 9, Book I of the Adminis-
trative Code of 1987, is primarily tasked to conduct a thor-
ough fact-finding investigation of reported cases of graft
and corruption referred to in Section 1, involving third
level public officers and higher, their co-principals, ac-
complices and accessories from the private sector, if any,
during the previous administration and thereafter
18 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

submit its finding and recommendations to the President,


Congress and the Ombudsman. (Emphases supplied)

In this regard, it must be borne in mind that the Arroyo ad-


ministration is but just a member of a class, that is, a class of past
administrations. It is not a class of its own. Not to include past ad-
ministrations similarly situated constitutes arbitrariness which the
equal protection clause cannot sanction. Such discriminating differ-
entiation clearly reverberates to label the commission as a vehicle
for vindictiveness and selective retribution. Executive Order No. 1
is declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL insofar as it is violative of the
equal protection clause of the Constitution.

EXAMPLE OF A CASE WHEN THE SUPREME


COURT MADE REFERENCE TO THE FILIPINO
FIRST POLICY (THE POLICY OBSERVED AND
MADE POPULAR BY PAST PRESIDENT CARLOS
P. GARCIA), TO THE HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL
SIGNIFICANCE OF MANILA HOTEL, AND TO THE
LATIN MAXIM OF UBI JUS IBI REMEDIUM

MANILA PRINCE HOTEL v. GSIS, MANILA HOTEL


CORPORATION, et al., G.R. No. 122156,
February 3, 1997
FACTS:
Pursuant to the privatization program of the government,
the shares of GSIS, owner of 51% of the shares of Manila Hotel
Corporation (MHC), was sold by GSIS through public bidding. Manila
Prince Hotel and Renong Berhad, a Malaysian firm, participated in
the bidding, and both of them offered to buy 51% of MHC shares.
Renong Berhad offered a higher bid.
MHC sent a check to match the bid of the foreign firm. To prevent
the consummation of the bid of Renong Berhad, petitioner filed a
petition for prohibition and mandamus. Petitioner's arguments are
as follows:
1. Petitioner invokes Article XII, Section 10(2) of the Consti-
tution and submits that Manila Hotel has been identified with the
Filipino nation and has practically become a historical monument
that reflects the vibrance of Philippine heritage and culture.
2. Manila Hotel has become a national patrimony.
CHAPTER I 19
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, ITS CONCEPT, PURPOSE, AND EFFECT

3. Since Manila Hotel is part of national patrimony and part


of the national economy, petitioner should be preferred after it has
matched the offer of the Malaysian firm.
Respondents argued that Article XII, Section 10(2) is merely a
statement of principle and policy since it is not a self-executing pro-
vision and requires implementing legislation. Respondents added
that even if the provision is self-executing, the hotel does not fall
under the term "national patrimony."

ISSUE;
Does MHC fall under the term "national patrimony"? Is
Section 10(2) of Article XII self-executing?

HELD:
Section 10, second paragraph, Article XII of the 1987 Cons-
titution, is a mandatory, positive command which is complete in
itself and which needs no further guidelines or implementing laws
or rules for its enforcement. From its very words, the provision does
not require any legislation to put in operation. It is per se judicially
enforceable. When our Constitution mandates that in the grant of
rights, privileges, and concession covering national economy and
patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos, it
means just that - qualified Filipinos shall be preferred. And when
our Constitution declares that a right exists in certain specified
circumstances, an action may be maintained to enforce such right
notwithstanding the absence of any legislation on the subject; con-
sequently, if there is no statute especially enacted to enforce such
constitutional right, such right enforces itself by its own inherent
potency and puissance, and from which all legislations must take
their bearings. Where there is a right, there is a remedy. Ubi jus ibi
remedium.
In its plain and ordinary meaning, the term patrimony pertains
to heritage. When the Constitution speaks of national patrimony, it
refers not only to the natural resources of the Philippines, as the
Constitution could have very well used the term natural resources,
but also to the cultural heritage of the Filipinos. Manila Hotel has
become a landmark - a living testimonial of Philippine heritage.
While it was restrictively an American hotel when it first opened
in 1912, it immediately evolved to be truly Filipino. Formerly a
concourse for the elite, it has since then become the venue of various
significant events, which have shaped Philippine history. It was
20 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

called the Cultural Center of 1930's. It was the site of the festivities
during the inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth. Dubbed
as the Official Guest House of the Philippine Government, it plays
host to dignitaries and official visitors who are accorded the
traditional Philippine hospitality.
The term qualified Filipinos as used in our Constitution also
includes corporations at least 60% of which is owned by the Filipinos.
This is very clear from the proceedings of the 1986 Constitutional
Commission.
It should be stressed that while the Malaysian firm offered
the higher bid, it is not yet the winning bidder. The bidding rules
expressly provide that the highest bidder shall only be declared the
winning bidder after it has negotiated and executed the necessary
contracts, and secured the required approvals. Since the Filipino
First Policy provision of the Constitution bestows preference
on qualified Filipinos, the mere tending of the highest bid is
not an assurance that the highest bidder will be declared the
winning bidder. Reluctantly, respondents are not bound to make
the award yet, nor are they under obligation to enter into one with
the highest bidder. For in choosing the awardee, respondents are
mandated to abide by the dictates of the 1987 Constitution, the
provisions of which are presumed to be known to all the bidders and
other interested parties. (Emphasis supplied)
The Filipino First Policy is a product of Philippine nationalism.
It is embodied in the 1987 Constitution not merely to be used as
a guideline for future legislation but primarily to be enforced; so
it must be enforced. This Court as the ultimate guardian of the
Constitution will never shun, under any reasonable circumstance,
the duty of upholding the majesty of the Constitution which it is
tasked to defend. It is worth emphasizing that it is not the intention
of this Court to impede and diminish, much less undermine, the
influx of foreign investments. Far from it, the Court encourages and
welcomes more business opportunities but avowedly sanctions the
preference for Filipinos whenever such preference is ordained by the
Constitution.
Privatization of a business asset for purposes of enhancing its
business viability and preventing further losses, regardless of the
character of the asset, should not take precedence over non-material
values- A commercial, nay enen a budgetary, objective should not
be pursued at the expense of national pride and dignity. For the
Constitution enshrines higher and nobler non-material values.
CHAPTER I 21
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, ITS CONCEPT, PURPOSE, AND EFFECT

Indeed, the Court will always defer to the Constitution in the proper
governance of a free society; after all, there is nothing so sacrosanct
in any economic policy as to draw itself beyond judicial review when
the Constitution is involved.
In the light of the decision of the Supreme Court in Manila Prince
Hotel v. GSIS, Manila Hotel Corporation, et al., what particularly
is the effect of the Supreme Court's "expanded jurisdiction and
authority?"
The power, authority and discretion to determine whether
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction
was committed goes beyond the mere legality of a questioned act, or
transaction, whether it is committed, or entered into by the highest
official of the land, or any official or branch of our government.
The wisdom and propriety, which may be invoked by the
executive department, may not be considered so by the scrutinizing
minds of the justices.

Example: The privatization of business asset for


purposes of enhancing its business viability and preventing
further losses, in pursuance of and to implement alleged
economic policy, did not meet the approval of the Supreme
Court which took the position that this argument should not
take precedence over non-material values. A commercial,
nay even a budgetary objective, should not be pursued at
the expense of national will and dignity.

Respondents argued that Article XII, Section 10(2) is merely


a statement of principle and policy since it is not a self-executing
provision and that it requires an implementing legislation.
Respondents also argued that even if the said provision is self-
executing, the hotel does not fall under the term "national patrimony."
In sum, the privatization of business asset for purposes of
enhancing its business viability and preventing further losses, in
pursuance of and to implement alleged economic policy, did not meet
the approval of the Supreme Court which took the position that this
argument should not take precedence over non-material values. A
commercial, nay even a budgetary, objective should not be pursued
at the expense of national pride and dignity.
Giving emphasis to what it considers to be more deserving
of preference, the Supreme Court added that there is nothing so
22 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

sacrosanct in any economic policy as to draw itself beyond judicial


review when the Constitution is involved.

XIV. IN THE EXERCISE OF THE SAID POWER AND


AUTHORITY HOWEVER, THE COURT OR THE JUDICIAL
ARM OF THE GOVERNMENT SHALL BE GOVERNED BY
THE FOLLOWING RULES
1. When the law is clear, the court's duty is to apply it, not to
interpret it; (Hidalgo v. Hidalgo, L-25326, 33 SCRA 105;
Quijano p. DBP, 35 SCRA 220, L-26419, October 16, 1970)
2. It is the duty of the judge to apply the law without fear or
favor. In case of doubt in the interpretation or application
of the laws, it is presumed that the lawmaking body
intended right and justice to prevail; (Article 10, New
Civil Code)
3. When construction or interpretation is necessary, the
court should interpret the law according to the meaning
the legislature intended to give it;
4. If there are two possible interpretations of a law, that
which will achieve the ends desired by Congress should
be adopted;
5. Laws of pleading, practice and procedure are liberally
construed in order to promote their object and to assist
the parties in obtaining just, speedy and inexpensive de-
termination of every action and proceeding;
6. A judge cannot decline to render judgment by reason
of the silence, obscurity or insufficiency of the laws.
(Article 9, New Civil Code) In other words, he must
decide the case assigned to him whether or not he knows
what law shall be applied. In case of silence, obscurity or
insufficiency of the laws, a judge may still be guided by
the following:
a. Customs which are not contrary to law, public order
or public policy;
b Court decisions, foreign or local, in similar cases,
C. Legal opinions of qualified writers and professors;
d. General principles of justice and equity; and

e. Rules of statutory construction.


CHAPTER I 23
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, ITS CONCEPT, PURPOSE, AND EFFECT

In criminal cases, however, it is an established rule that there


is no crime when there is no law punishing it. NULLA POENA
SINE LEGE. If there is no law therefore which punishes an act
complained of, the judge must dismiss the case (Suarez, Introduction
to Law, p. 4).

XV. EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT


Article VII, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution provides as
follows:

"The executive power shall be vested in the President


of the Philippines."
Who shall have control of all executive departments,
bureaus and offices?
The President of the Republic of the Philippines shall have
control of all executive departments, bureaus and offices (Section 17,
Article VII) and shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all the armed
forces of the Philippines. Under and by virtue of all the powers vested
in him by the Constitution, the President is regarded as the most
powerful and the most influential person in the country subject to
no other restraint than to comply with the law and the Constitution.

What does this mean?


This means that he is the "Chief Executive." More specifically,
he is the Executive of the Government of the Philippines and the
heads of the different executive departments who are popularly
known and called as Cabinet Members, are, in effect, merely his
advisers, hence, they are subject to his control and supervision.

Are the powers of the President limited only to those that are
expressly enumerated in the Constitution?
No. The President has residual power to protect the general
welfare of the people. It is founded on the duty of the President as
steward of the people (Marcos v. Manglapus, 177 SCRA 66811989]).

What is the so-called residual power of the President?


In the said case (Marcos v. Manglapus ibid.), the Supreme
Court, through Justice Irene R. Cortes, said that "it is a power borne
by the President's duty to preserve and defend the Constitution.
It may be viewed also as a power implicit in the President's duty
to take care that the laws are faithfully executed (see Hyman, the
24 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

American President, where the author advanced the view that an


allowance of discretionary power is unavoidable in any government
and is best lodged in the President).
Chief Justice Marcelo B. Fernan, on the other hand, made this
explanation: "Failing in legal arguments for the allowance of the
Marcoses' return, appeal is being made to sympathy, compassion
and even Filipino tradition. The political and economic gains we have
achieved during the past three years are, however, too valuable and
precious to gamble away on purely compassionate considerations.
Neither could public peace, order, and safety be sacrificed for an
individual's wish to die in his own country. Verily, in the balancing
of interests, the scales tilt in favor of presidential prerogative, which
we do not find to have been gravely abused or arbitrarily exercised,
to ban the Marcoses from returning to the Philippines."

What is the executive power of the President?


It is the power to enforce and administer the laws. (Sec-
tion 1 and 17, Article VII) The President shall ensure that laws are
faithfully executed (Section 17, Article VII).

Is he still required to determine the validity of a law?


No, this being a question that should be properly resolved by
the judicial department of government. Hence, the President has a
duty to execute it regardless of his doubts on its validity. Until and
unless a law is declared unconstitutional, it is not unlawful for the
President to perform his duty of ensuring that laws are faithfully
executed.

XVI. THE THREE PRINCIPAL BRANCHES OF


GOVERNMENT HELP ONE ANOTHER IN THE
ENFORCEMENT AND INTERPRETATION OF LAWS
Each Department is Given Certain Powers by which each may
Restrain the others from Exceeding their Constitutional Authority.
Hence, A System of Checks and Balances Provides an Equilibrium
of Governmental Powers.
The following are actual examples:

FIRST: THE LAWS EMANATE FROM THE LEGISLATURE


The legislature enacts laws but these laws have to be presented
to the executive department for its approval. The latter may veto or
CHAPTER I 25
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, ITS CONCEPT, PURPOSE, AND EFFECT

disapprove the acts of the legislative if in its judgment they are not
in conformity with the Constitution or if they will cause hardship to
the people.
Here, the judicial arm of the government has no role to play
yet. It is only called upon to interfere and to exercise its authority
when an action is brought to it for decision, and only upon reaching
this stage when the courts should apply, among others, these basic
rules, to wit:
When the law is clear, the court's duty is to apply it, not
to interpret it.
In applying the law, the court should discover the real
intent and the purpose of the legislature. If that intent
and purpose can be discovered within the law, it is the
duty of the court to carry out that intention. If that intent
and purpose cannot be found within the law, the court
should resort to extrinsic aids.
3. When all other rules of statutory construction fail, it is
presumed that the lawmaking body intended, right and
justice to prevail.
When conflicting claims are brought to the court for determina-
tion, it is authorized to determine the validity of the said legislative
measures or executive acts.

SECOND: THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT MAY


MODIFY OR SET ASIDE THE JUDGMENT OF THE COURT
The executive department, through the pardoning power, may
also modify or set aside the judgment of the courts.
The executive department is not in any way interpreting or
constructing the law in its favor. It is a plain exercise of pardoning
power, which is expressly granted by the Constitution to the Presi-
dent.

THIRD: THE LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT MAY


AMEND OR REVOKE THE DECISIONS OF THE COURT
The legislature may amend or revoke decisions of the courts
when in its judgment the interpretation given to a law by the courts
is not in harmony with the general policy of the State. It may do
this by enacting a new law or by amending the old law, THEREBY
26 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

ATTAINING AN INTERPRETATION THAT WILL WIPE OUT


THE DECISIONS OF THE JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT.
In this example, the legislature is not interpreting or construct-
ing the law but attains the interpretation it desires by enacting a
new law or by amending the old law.
CHAPTER II
AIDS IN INTERPRETATION
AND CONSTRUCTION

L USE INTRINSIC AIDS BEFORE RESORTING


TO EXTRINSIC AIDS
In determining the intention of the legislature, the courts may
use any of the following:

1. INTRINSIC AIDS - Elements found in the law itself


2. EXTRINSIC AIDS - Facts or matters not found in the
law

3. PRESUMPTIONS - Based on logic or established


provision of law

The established practice is to resort first to intrinsic aids before


resolving to extrinsic aids and before indulging in presumptions.

H. WHAT ARE THE INTRINSIC AIDS?


Intrinsic aids are any of the following: Title, preamble, words,
phrases and sentences; context; punctuation; headings and marginal
notes; legislative definition and interpretation clauses.

1. TITLE. - That which expresses the subject matter of the


law. It can help in the construction of statutes but it is not
controlling and not entitled to much weight.

2. PREAMBLE. - That part of the statute following the


title and preceding the enacting clause which states the
reasons or the objectives of the enactment. It cannot
enlarge or confer powers, or cure inherent defects in the
statute.

3. WORDS, PHRASES AND SENTENCES, CONTEXT.


- The intention of the legislature must primarily be

27
28 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

determined from the language of the statute and such


language consists of the words, phrases and sentences
used therein. The meaning of the law should, however, be
taken from the general consideration of the act as a whole
and not from any single part, portion or section or from
isolated words and phrases, clauses or sentences used.
4. PUNCTUATION. - It is an aid of low degree in inter-
preting the language of a statute and can never control
against the intelligible meaning of the written word. How-
ever, if the punctuation of the statute gives it a meaning
that is reasonable and in apparent accord with the legis-
lative will, it may be used as an additional argument for
adopting the literal meaning of the words thus punctu-
ated.
5. HEADINGS AND MARGINAL NOTES. - If the
meaning of the statute is clear or if the text of the statute is
clear, they will prevail as against the headings, especially
if the headings have been prepared by compilers and not
by the legislature.
6. LEGISLATIVE DEFINITION AND INTERPRETA-
TION. - If the legislature has defined the words used
in the statute and has declared the construction to be
placed thereon, such definition or construction should be
followed by the courts. The rules are as follows:
(a) If a law provides that in case of doubt it should be
construed or interpreted in a certain manner, the
courts should follow such instruction;
(b) In case of conflict between the interpretation clauses
and the legislative meaning, as revealed by the
statute considered in its totality, the latter shall
prevail;
(c) A term is used throughout the statute in the same
sense in which it is first defined;
(d) Legislative definition of similar terms in other
statute may be resorted to except where a particular
law expressly declares that its definition therein is
limited in application to the statutes in which they
appear.
CHAPTER II 29
AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

EXAMPLE OF A CASE WHEN THE LAW SPEAKS IN


CLEAR AND CATEGORICAL LANGUAGE AND THERE IS
THEREFORE NO REASON FOR INTERPRETATION OR
CONSTRUCTION, BUT ONLY FOR APPLICATION

New Case:

SPOUSES PASCUAL, et al., FRANCISCO A. PASCUAL,


MARGARITA CORAZON D. MARIANO, EDWIN D.
MARIANO arid DANNY R. MARIANO
V.
SPOUSES BALLESTEROS, et al.,
G.R. No. 186269, February 15, 2012
PONENTE: JUSTICE REYES

FACTS:
The case involves a parcel of land situated in Laoag City which
is co-owned by the spouses Albino and Margarita Mariano, the
spouses Melecio and Victoria Melchor, and Angela Melchor.
Upon the death of the Spouses Melchor, their share was in-
herited by their daughter Lorenza. Subsequently, Lorenza and her
husband Antonio Ballesteros acquired the share of Angela.
In 2000, Margarita, then already widowed, together with her
children, sold their share to Spouses Pascual and Francisco. The
old TCT was cancelled and a new one was issued in their names
together with Angela and Spouses Melchor.
Respondents filed with the RTC a complaint for legal redemp-
tion, claiming that they did not receive any written notice of the said
sale and argued that they are entitled to redeem the portion sold as
co-owners of the same.
RTC dismissed the complaint and ruled that they failed to sea-
sonably exercise their right of redemption within the 30-day period
pursuant to Article 1623 of the Civil Code notwithstanding the lack
of a written notice since they had actual notice of the said sale.
CA granted the appeal of the respondents.
The petitioners sought for reconsideration, but it was denied.
30 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

ISSUE:
Whether the respondents could no longer exercise their right of
redemption having failed to exercise the same within 30 days from
actual knowledge of the said sale.

HELD:
Respondents can still exercise their right of redemption.
The Supreme Court held that no reversible error on the part
of the CA in ruling that the 30-day period given to the respondents
within which to exercise their right of redemption has not
commenced in view of the absence of a written notice. Despite the
respondents' actual knowledge of the sale to the respondents, a
written notice is still mandatory and indispensable for purposes of
the commencement of the 30-day period within which to exercise the
right of redemption.
Article 1623 of the Civil Code succinctly provides that:

Article 1623. The right of legal pre-emption or re-


demption shall not be exercised except within thirty days
from the notice in writing by the prospective vendor, or by
the vendor, as the case may be. The deed of sale shall not
be recorded in the Registry of Property, unless accompa-
nied by an affidavit of the vendor that he has given written
notice thereof to all possible redemptioners.

The right of redemption of co-owners excludes that of adjoining


owners.
The indispensability of the "written notice requirement" for
purposes of the exercise of the right of redemption was explained in
Barcellano v. Bañas, thus:

The written notice of sale is mandatory. The Court


has long established the rule that notwithstanding actual
knowledge of a co-owner, the latter is still entitled to a
written notice from the selling co-owner in order to remove
all uncertainties about the sale, its terms and conditions,
as well as its efficacy and status.
xxx
Time and time again, it has been repeatedly declared
by this Court that where the law speaks in clear and
CHAPTER II 31
AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

categorical language, there is no room for interpretation.


There is only room for application. Where the language
of a statute is clear and unambiguous, the law is applied
according to its express terms, and interpretation should
be resorted to only where a literal interpretation would be
either impossible or absurd or would lead to an injustice.
x x x (Citations omitted)

Old Case:

LANDBANK OF THE PHILIPPINES v.


COURT OF APPEALS
G.R. No. 118745, July 5, 1996
"When the law speaks in clear and categorical
language, there is no reason for interpretation
or construction, but only for application. Thus,
recourse to any rule which allows the opening of
trust accounts as a mode of deposit under Section
16(e) of RA 6657 goes beyond the scope of the said
provision and is therefore impermissible."

FACTS:
Petitioners Department of Agrarian Reform (DAB) and the
Land Bank of The Philippines (LBP), filed their respective motions
for reconsideration contending mainly that, contrary to the Court's
conclusion, the opening of trust accounts in favor of the rejecting
landowners is sufficient compliance with the mandate of R.A. No.
6657. Moreover, it is argued that there is no legal basis for allowing
the withdrawal of the money deposited in trust for the rejecting
landowners pending the determination of the final valuation of their
properties.
The Supreme Court denied their motions for reconsideration.

HELD:
The Court rejects the said contention. Sec. 16(e) of RA No.
6657 was very specific in limiting the type of deposit to be made as
compensation for the rejecting landowners, that is in "cash" or in
"LBP bonds," to wit:

Section 16(e) Procedure for Acquisition of Private


Lands -
32 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

xxx xxx xxx


"Upon receipt by the landowner of the corresponding
payment or, in case of rejection or no response from the
landowner, upon the deposit with an accessible bank des-
ignated by the DAR of the compensation in cash or in LBP
bonds in accordance with this Act, the DAR shall take
immediate possession of the land and shall request the
proper Register of Deeds to issue a Transfer Certificate
of Title (TCT) in the name of the Republic of the Philip-
pines. xxx"
The said provision is very clear and unambiguous,
foreclosing any doubt as to allow an expanded construction
that would include the opening of "trust accounts" within
the coverage of the term "deposit."
When the law speaks in clear and categorical language,
there is no reason for interpretation or construction, but
only for application. Thus, recourse to any rule which allows
the opening of trust accounts as a mode of deposit under
Section 16(e) of RA No. 6657 goes beyond the scope of the
said provision and is therefore impermissible.
As [the Court] ha[s] previously declared, the rule-making
power must be confined to details for regulating the mode or
proceedings to carry into effect the law as it has been enacted, and it
cannot be extended to amend or expand the statutory requirements
or to embrace matters not covered by the statute. Administrative
regulations must always be in harmony with the provisions of the
law because any resulting discrepancy between the two will always
be resolved in favor of the basic law.

EXAMPLE OF A CASE WHEN THE COURT APPLIED THE


LAW ACCORDING TO ITS PLAIN AND OBVIOUS MEANING
New Case:
SOUTH PACIFIC SUGAR CORPORATION and SOUTH
EAST ASIA SUGAR MILL CORPORATION v. COURT OF
APPEALS and SUGAR REGULATORY ADMINISTRATION
G.R. No. 180462, February 9, 2011
FACTS:
In 1999, the government projected a shortage of some 500,000
metric tons of sugar due to the effects of El Niño and La Nina
CHAPTER II 33
AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

phenomena. To fill the expected shortage and to ensure stable sugar


prices, then President Joseph Estrada issued Executive Order No.
87, Series of 1999, facilitating sugar importation by the private
sector.
Section 2 of Executive Order No. 87 created a Committee on
Sugar Conversion/Auction (Committee) to determine procedures
for sugar importation as well as for collection and remittance of
conversion fee.
Under Section 3, sugar conversion is by auction and is subject
to conversion fee to be remitted by Sugar Regulatory Administration
(SRA) to the Bureau of Treasury.
The Committee issued the Bidding Rules providing guidelines
for sugar importation. Under the rules, the importer pays 25% of
the conversion fee within three working days from receipt of notice
of the bid award and the 75% balance upon arrival of the imported
sugar.
The rules also provide that if the importer fails to make the
importation or if the imported sugar fails to arrive on or before the
set arrival date, 25% of the conversion fee is forfeited in favor of the
SRA, to wit:

G. Forfeiture of Conversion Fee

G.1 In case of failure of the importer to make


the importation or for the imported sugar to arrive
in the Philippines on or before the Arrival Date, the
25% of Conversion Fee Bid already paid shall be
forfeited in favor of the SRA and the imported sugar
shall not be classified as "B" (domestic sugar) unless,
upon application with the SRA and without objection of
the Committee, the SRA allows such conversion after
payment by the importer of 100% of the Conversion Fee
applicable to the shipment. (Emphasis supplied)

The Sugar Mill submitted the winning bid for 10,000 metric
tons while Pacific Sugar submitted the winning bid for 20,000 metric
tons, for a combined total volume of 30,000 metric tons of sugar.
Pursuant to the Bidding Rules, Sugar Mill and Pacific Sugar paid
25% of the conversion fees.
Aa it turned out, Sugar Mill and Pacific Sugar delivered only
10% of their sugar import allocation, or a total of only 3,000 metric
34 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

tons of sugar. They requested the SRA to cancel the remaining


27,000 metric tons blaming sharp decline in sugar prices. They
sought immediate reimbursement of the corresponding 25% of the
conversion fee amounting to P38,637,000.00.
The SRA informed the sugar corporations that the conversion
fee would be forfeited pursuant to paragraph G.1 of the Bidding
Rules and notified them that the authority to reconsider their
request for reimbursement was vested with the Committee.
The sugar corporations filed a complaint for breach of contract
and damages in the RTC of Quezon City. The RTC ruled in favor of
the plaintiffs and ordered the SRA to pay plaintiffs the amount of
P38,637,000 as reimbursement of 25% of the conversion fee they had
paid and held that paragraph G. 1 of the Bidding Rules contemplated
delay in the arrival of imported sugar, not cancellation of sugar
importation. It concluded that the forfeiture provision did not
apply to the sugar corporations which merely cancelled the sugar
importation.
Aggrieved, the SRA filed in the CA a petition for certiorari
under Rule 65 seeking to set aside the RTC's Orders as well as the
Writ of Execution and the Amended Writ of Execution. The CA ruled
to annul and set-aside all the orders of the RTC and remanded the
case to the court a quo for further proceedings.
Dissatisfied, the sugar corporations filed in this Court a petition
for review on certiorari.
ISSUE:
Whether the sugar corporations are entitled to reimbursement
of P38,637,000.00 in conversion fee.
HELD:
The RTC gravely erred in ordering the SRAto return the forfeited
conversion fee to the sugar corporations. Its strained interpretation
of paragraph G. 1 of the Bidding Rules contemplates cases of delay in
the arrival of imported sugar but not cases of cancellation of sugar
importation defies logic and the express provision of paragraph
G. 1. If delay in the arrival of imported sugar is subject to forfeiture
of 25% of the conversion fee, with more reason is outright failure
to import sugar, by cancelling the sugar importation altogether,
subject to forfeiture of the 25% of the conversion fee.
Plainly and expressly, paragraph G.1 identifies two situations
which would bring about the forfeiture of 25% of the conversion
CHAPTER II 35
AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

fee: (1) when the importer fails to make the importation or


(2) when the imported sugar fails to arrive in the Philippines on or
before the set arrival date. It is wrong for the RTC to interpret the
forfeiture provision in a way departing from its plain and express
language.
Where the language of a rule is clear, it is the duty of the court
to enforce it according to the plain meaning of the word. There is no
occasion to resort to other means of interpretation.

Old Case:
CECILLEVILLE REALTY AND SERVICE
CORPORATION v. COURT OF APPEALS AND
HERMINIGILDO PASCUAL
G.R. No. 120363, September 5, 1997
FRANCISCO, J.

The Supreme Court applied the law, RA No.


1199, as amended by RA No. 2263, according to its
plain and obvious meaning, according to its express
terms. Verba legis non est recedendum, or from the
word, only a tenant is granted the right to have a
home lot and the right to construct or maintain a
house thereon.
It is a fundamental principle that once the
policy or purpose of the law has been ascertained,
effect should be given to it by the judiciary. This
Court should not deviate therefrom.

FACTS:
In 1976, Sotero Pascual became a tenant of Jose A. Resurrec-
cion, the President of petitioner Cecileville Realty and Service Cor-
poration, in the latter's land at Catmon, Sta. Maria, Bulacan. When
Sotero died, his wife Ana Pascual, succeeded him in tenancy by op-
eration of law. As such tenant she had a home lot and a house on
the landholding. She was assisted in the cultivation of the land by
her son, private respondent Hermigildo Pascual, who also occupies a
portion of the landholding distinct from that occupied by his mother.
Petitioner Cecifieville sought to eject Hermigildo from the
portion occupied by his house but the latter, insisting that he is
entitled to occupancy since he is helping his mother in the cultivation
of the land, refused to vacate. Petitioner instituted an ejectment suit
36 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

against Hermigildo before MTC of Sta. Maria, Bulacan. Finding no


tenancy relationship between petitioner and Hermigildo, the MTC
ordered the latter to vacate the land and pay attorney's fees and the
sum of P500.00 monthly from the filing of the complaint.
On appeal, however, the RTC reversed the MTC and ordered
that the case be remanded to the DARAB for further adjudication.
The court was of the opinion that Ana Pascual was entitled to the help
of her son in the cultivation, consequently, her son cannot be simply
ejected without circumventing the law. The case was elevated to the
Court of Appeals which affirmed the RTC's decision on the basis of
Section 5, RA No. 1199, as amended by RA No. 2263, governing the
relations of landlords and tenants, which provides that a tenant is
entitled to the aid and assistance of the immediate members of his
family and other persons who, though not tenants themselves, are
afforded the protection of the law and the security of tenure accorded
the tenant. Thus, the Court of Appeals concluded that Hermigildo's
having a house on the landholding is but an incident of the tenancy.
In this petition for review on certiorari Cecileville contends
that the appellate court erred in not finding that while private
respondent is entitled to work on the agricultural land of petitioner
in his capacity as member of the family of tenant Ana Pascual,
nonetheless he cannot occupy a substantial portion thereof and
utilize the same for residential purposes.

HELD:
As clearly provided by Section 22, paragraph 3, RA No. 1199,
as amended by RA No. 2263, only a tenant is granted the right to a
home lot and the right to construct and maintain a house thereon.
Private respondent is not entitled to a home lot. As the Court sees
it, the issue lies on the interpretation of Sec. 22, paragraph 3, of RA
No. 1199, as amended by RA No. 2263. This section provides in full
as follows:

"Section 22.x x x (3) The tenant shall have the


right to demand for a home lot suitable for dwelling with
an area of not more than 3 per cent, of the area of his
landholding provided that it does not exceed one thousand
square meters and that it shall be located at a convenient
and suitable place within the land of the landholder to be
designated by the latter where the tenant shall construct
his dwelling and may raise vegetables, poultry, pigs
and other animals and engage in minor industries, the
CHAPTER II 37
AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

products of which shall accrue to the tenant exclusively.


The tenant's dwelling shall not be removed from the lot
already assigned to him by the landholder, except as
provided in Section 26 unless there is a severance of the
tenancy relationship between them as provided under
Section 9, or unless the tenant is ejected for cause, and
only after the expiration of forty-five (45) days following
such severance of relationship or dismissal for cause."

The law is unambiguous and clear. Consequently, it


must be applied according to its plaini arid ob-vious meaning,
according to its express terms. Verba legis non est receden-
dum, or from the word, only a tenant is granted the right
to have a home lot and the right to construct or maintain a
house thereon. And here, private respondent does not dis-
pute that he is a mere member of Ana Pascual's immediate
farm household. Under the law, therefore, we find private re-
spondent not entitled to a home lot. Neither is he entitled to
construct a house of his own or to continue maintaining the
same within the very small landholding of petitioner. To rule
otherwise is to make a mockery of the purpose of the tenan-
cy relations between a bona fide tenant and the landholder
as envisioned by the very law, i.e., RA No. 1199, as amended,
upon which private respondent relies, to wit:

Section 2. Purpose. - It is the purpose of this Act


to establish agricultural tenancy relations between
landholders and tenants upon the principles of social
justice; to afford adequate protection to the rights of
both tenants and landholders: to issue the equitable
division of the produce and income derived from
the land; to provide tenant-farmers with incentives to
greater and more efficient agricultural production,
to bolster their economic position and to encourage their
participation in the development of peaceful, vigorous
and democratic rural communities. (Emphasis supplied)

Thus, if the Court were to follow private respondent's argu-


ment and allow all the members of the tenant's immediate farm
household to construct and maintain their houses and to be entitled
to not more than one thousand (1,000) square meters each of home
lot, as what private respondent wanted th[e] Court to dole-out, then
farms will be virtually converted into rows, if not colonies, of houses.
How then can there be "equitable division of the produce and
38 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

income derived from the land" and "more efficient agricul-


tural production" if the land's productivity and use for growing
crops is lessened or, more appropriately, obliterated by its uncer-
emonious conversion into residential use? It is a fundamental
principle that once the policy or purpose of the law has been
ascertained, effect should be given to it by the judiciary.
Th[e] Court should not deviate therefrom.
The landholder is also entitled to the protection of
the law. The policy of social justice is not intended to
countenance wrongdoing simply because it is committed by
the underprivileged.
Further, it is undisputed that Ana Pascual, the tenant
and private respondent's mother, has an existing home
lot and a house on the subject property in which private
respondent may take refuge while attending to his work.
Curiously, despite its availability, private respondent chose
to construct, without petitioner's permission, a concrete
house of his own thereby saving him the trouble of paying
appropriate rents. If the courts were to abide by the
respondent court's inordinate pronouncement that private
respondent is entitled to maintain his own house then we
will be condoning the deprivation of a landholder's property
without even a fraction of compensation.
It taxes the credulity of the Court, therefore, to insist
that private respondent's having a house of his own on the
property is merely incidental to the "tenancy" and to afford
him the convenience of attending to the cultivation of the
land for, in the first place, he is not the tenant as he himself
admits.
Besides, the "incidental" use of his own house can
very well be provided by the existing house of his mother,
who with her "old and infirm" condition, surely needs the
attention and care of her children, one of whom is herein
private respondent.
Be it emphasized that like the tenant the landholder
is also entitled to the protection of the law, as one of the
purposes of the "Act" is "to afford adequate protection to the
rights of BOTH tenants and landholders."
The policy of social justice, the Court reiterates, is
not intended to countenance wrongdoing simply because
CHAPTER II 39
AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

it is committed by the underprivileged. "Compassion for


the poor," as [the Court] said in Galay, et al. v. CA,, et al., is
an imperative of every humane society but only when the
recipient is not a rascal claiming an undeserved privilege."

EXAMPLE OF A CASE WHEN THE SUPREME COURT


REJECTED RESPONDENT'S PLEA THAT THERE WAS
ROOM FOR ANOTHER INTERPRETATION. INSTEAD,
THECOURTFIRMLYRULEDTHATRESPONDENTJUDGE
MISERABLY FAILED TO EXHIBIT THE OBJECTIVITY
REQUIRED OF MEMBERS OF THE BENCH WHICH IS
NECESSARY, EVEN INDISPENSABLE, TO MAINTAIN
PUBLIC TRUST AND CONFIDENCE IN THE COURT.

TABAO v. JUDGE ESPINA


A.M. No. RTJ-96-1348, 14 June 1996
EN BANG, PER CURIAM

The respondent Judge should be sanctioned for


digressing from the regular course and procedure of
rendering judgment, which must be done only after
both the prosecution and the defense have rested
their respective cases; that a hearing is absolutely
indispensable before a judge can determine whether
or not to grant bail; and that the ruling in Simon
did not alter, much less set aside the State's right to
a hearing to oppose bail and neither did it cure the
defect of lack of a bail hearing in this case.

FACTS:
First Assistant City Prosecutor for Tacloban City, Leo C.
Tabao, accused Judge Pedro S. Espina of: (a) Gross Irregularity, (b)
Abuse of Authority, and (c) Bias in favor of the accused.
In another sworn complaint, Regional State Prosecutor Fran-
cisco Q. Aurillo, Jr. manifested that he had earlier assailed before
the CA an order issued by respondent granting bail to the accused
without giving the prosecution a chance to present evidence to op-
pose the grant of bail. The Court of Appeals annulled respondent's
orders, granting bail to the accused and denying the prosecution's
motion for reconsideration of the order that granted bail. Respon-
dent failed to comment on this aspect of the complaint against him.
40 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

The records show that respondent Judge had set the promulga-
tion of judgment in Criminal Case No. 93-04-197 entitled "People of
the Phils. v. Salvador Padernal, "a case for violation of RA No. 6425
for drug pushing and had promulgated his decision thereon despite
the defense's manifestation for time to allow it to submit other docu-
mentary evidence, make its formal offer of exhibits, and to rest its
case. Judgment was promulgated and the prosecution was not given
a chance to adduce rebuttal evidence.
Respondent filed his comments on the separate complaints,
arguing that he proceeded to decide the case without the documentary
evidence of the defense because they were not submitted on time;
that the evidence to be submitted, consisting of business licenses
and permits, was immaterial to the innocence or guilt of the accused;
that official duty is presumed to have been regularly performed
unless the contrary is shown; that his grant of bail to the accused
is now allowed in view of the ruling in People v. Simon (G.R. No.
93028, July 29, 1994, 234 SCRA 555).

HELD:
The Office of the Court Administrator held that respondent's
acts constituted an exercise of judicial prerogative.
The Supreme Court ruled that respondent Judge should be
sanctioned for digressing from the regular course and procedure
of rendering judgment, which must be done only after both the
prosecution and the defense have rested their respective cases; that
a hearing is absolutely indispensable before a judge can determine
whether or not to grant bail; and that the ruling in Simon did not
alter, much less set aside the State's right to a hearing to oppose
bail and neither did it cure the defect of lack of a bail hearing in this
case.
The Supreme Court dismissed respondent from the service, with
forfeiture of all retirement benefits and accrued leave credits and
with prejudice to re-employment in any branch or instrumentality
of the government, including government-owned or controlled
corporations.
The Court has repeatedly stressed the ruling in People v.
Dacudao (170 SCRA 489), that a hearing is absolutely indispensable
before a judge can properly determine whether the prosecution's
evidence is weak or strong on the issue of whether or not to grant
bail to an accused charged with a heinous crime where the imposable
CHAPTER II 41
AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

penalty is death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. Hence, a


denial of the prosecution's request to adduce evidence, deprives it
of procedural due process, a right to which it is entitled equally as
the defense. A hearing is required to afford the judge a basis for
determining the existence of those factors set forth under Rule 114,
Section 6, Rules of Court in granting or rejecting a plea for bail. The
hearing for bail though summary in nature is necessary to afford
both the prosecution and the defense an opportunity to prove their
respective contentions on the matter of bail for the accused.
The Court has never hesitated to impose sanctions on judges
who had granted bail to an accused charged with a heinous crime
punishable with death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment,
without the required hearing. In Santos v. Ofilada (245 SCRA 56),
the Court expressing almost exasperation over repeated violations
by judges in this regard stated that "it is indeed lamentable that
despite the series of its pronouncements on the same administrative
office, th[e] Court still has to contend with the same problem all over
again and to impose once more the same sanction.
It is gross misconduct, even outright disrespect for the Court, for
respondent judge to exhibit indifference to the resolution requiring
him to comment on the accusations in the complaints thoroughly
and substantially.
Respondent cannot rely on the ruling in People v. Simon
(234 SCRA 555), since the issue in the present complaints is his
having granted bail to an accused charged with an offense then
punishable with life imprisonment; without giving the prosecution
the opportunity to show that evidence of guilt is strong and that as
a consequence, the accused is not entitled to bail. Under the Rules of
Court, a hearing for bail is mandatory to afford the State its right to
oppose the granting of bail. The ruling in Simon did not alter much
less set aside the State's right to a hearing to oppose bail. Neither
did the ruling in Simon cure the defect of lack of a bail hearing in
this case.
On the issue regarding the manner of promulgating the
decision in a criminal case, respondent judge digressed from the
regular course and procedure of rendering judgment, which must
be done only after the prosecution and the defense have rested their
respective cases. In the subject criminal case, the defense has rested
their respective cases. In the subject criminal case, the defense
had yet to rest its case when respondent rendered the judgment
of acquittal. It is not difficult to imagine the grave injustice which
42 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

would have resulted had respondent judge convicted the accused


before the defense had rested its case. Of course, respondent judge
acquitted the accused. But the questions now are: why the deliberate
haste to acquit the accused, the same accused to whom bail had
been granted by respondent judge without hearing the prosecution's
evidence? And why was the prosecution denied the right to present
rebuttal evidence when it manifested its intention to present
rebuttal evidence when informed of the promulgation of judgment?
Judges should be reminded that in each step in the trial of
criminal cases, the constitutional presumption of innocence in favor
of an accused requires that an accused be given sufficient opportunity
to present his defense; so, with the prosecution as to its evidence.
Hence, any deviation from the regular course of trial should
always take into consideration the rights of all the parties to the
case, whether in the prosecution or defense. In the exercise of their
discretion, judges are sworn not only to uphold the law but also to
do what is fair and just. The judicial gavel should not be yielded by
one who has an unsound and distorted sense of justice and fairness.
Respondent judge's conduct in the disposition of the criminal case
subject of the present complaints leaves much to be desired. He
miserably failed to exhibit the objectivity required of members of the
bench that is necessary, even indispensable, to maintain the public's
trust and confidence in the courts.
In sum, respondent judge should be penalized for gross
ignorance of the law in granting bail to the accused in Criminal Case
No. 93-04-197, where the imposable penalty was life imprisonment,
without hearing. He should also be accordingly sanctioned for
having promulgated the decision in the same criminal case before
the defense had rested and without according the prosecution an
opportunity to present rebuttal evidence.

NOTE: In the above-cited case, the Supreme Court made


reference to and answered the respondent's contention and
citation of the 1946 case of Herras Teehankee v. Director of
Prisons (76 Phil. 756) to support his theory that where the
prosecution recommends bail, it is to be understood as being
equivalent to an admission that evidence of guilt is not
strong or a non opposition or a virtual agreement to the bail
application which in effect does away with the need for a
bail hearing. Unfortunately, nowhere in said case may such
conclusion be inferred. Besides, in Ocampo v. Bernabe (77
Phil. 55), the Court said: [The Court] ha[s] held in Herras
CHAPTER II 43
AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

Teehankee v. Director of Prisons that all persons shall before


conviction be bailable except when the charge is a capital
offense and the evidence of guilt is strong. The general rule
therefore is that all persons, whether charged or not yet
charged are before their conviction entitled to provisional
release on bail, the only exception being where the charge is a
capital offense and the evidence of guilt is found to be strong.
The determination of whether or not the evidence of guilt is
strong is a matter of judicial discretion. This discretion by
the very nature of things, may rightly be exercised only after
the evidence is submitted to the court at the hearing.

RESPONDENT. THUS, CANNOT PLEAD THAT THERE


WAS ROOM FOR ANOTHER POSSIBLE INTERPRETATION
AND THAT THEREFORE HIS ACT TO GRANTING BAIL
WITHOUT HEARING IS BUT A CASE OF INNOCENT ERROR
OR MISTAKE NOT TANTAMOUNT TO IGNORANCE OF THE
LAW. ABD USUKUR M. TANv. COMMISSION ONELECTIONS.
G.R. NO. 119892, FEBRUARY 13, 1996, EN BANC, MINUTE
RESOLUTION. (Underscoring and Emphasis Supplied)

EXAMPLE OF A CASE WHEN THE SUPREME COURT


MADE REFERENCE TO THE PREAMBLE AND TO THE
WHEREAS CLAUSES TO DISCOVER THE SPIRIT AND
INTENT OF A PRESIDENTIAL DECREE

New Case:

RAFAEL H. GALVEZ and KATHERINE L. GUY v.


HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ASIA UNITED BANK
G.R. No. 187919
ASIA UNITED BANK v. GILBERT G. GUY, PHILIP
LEUNG, KATHERINE L. GUY, RAFAEL H. GALVEZ
and EUGENIO H. GALVEZ, JR.
G.R. No. 187979
GILBERT G. GUY, PHILIP LEUNG and EUGENIO H.
GALVEZ, JR. v. ASIA UNITED BANK
G.R. No. 188030
April 25, 2012

In this case, the Court holds that AUB, being a commercial


bank, is not beyond the coverage of PD No. 1689. The Court
asserts that a bank is a corporation whose fund comes from
44 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

the general public and PD No. 1689 does not distinguish the
nature of the corporation. It requires, rather, that the funds
of such corporation should come from the general public.
This was highlighted by the third "whereas clause" of the
quoted law which states that the same also applies to other
"corporations/associations operating on funds solicited from
the general public."

FACTS:
In 1999, Radio Marine Network (Smartnet) Inc. (RMSI) claim-
ing to do business under the name Smartnet Philippines and/or
Smartnet Philippines, Inc. (SPI), applied for an Omnibus Credit
Line for various credit facilities with Asia United Bank (AUB). To
induce AUB to extend the Omnibus Credit Line, RMSI, through its
directors and officers, presented its Articles of Incorporation with its
400-peso million capitalization and its congressional telecom fran-
chise.
Satisfied with the credit worthiness of RMSI, AUB granted
a P250 million Omnibus Credit Line, under the name of Smartnet
Philippines, RMSI's Division. Later, it was increased to P452 minion
after a third-party real estate mortgage by an affiliate of Guy Group
of Companies, in favor of Smartnet Philippines, was offered to
the bank. Simultaneous to the increase, RMSI submitted a proof
of authority to open the Omnibus Credit Line and peso and dollar
accounts in the name of Smartnet Philippines, Inc., which Gilbert
Guy, et al., represented as a division of RMSI, as evidenced by the
letterhead used in its formal correspondences with the bank and the
financial audit made by SGV & Co. Attached to this authority was the
Amended Articles of Incorporation of RMSI, doing business under the
name of Smartnet Philippines, and the Secretary's Certificate of SPI
authorizing its directors, Gilbert Guy and Philip Leung to transact
with AUB. Prior to this major transaction, however, and, unknown
to AUB, Gilbert Guy, et al. formed a subsidiary corporation, the SPI
with a paid-up capital of only P62,500.00.
Believing that SPI is the same as Smartnet Philippines AUB
granted it, among others, an Irrevocable Letter of Credit in the total
sum of $29,300.00 in favor of Rohde & Schwarz Support Centre Asia
Ptd. Ltd., which is the subject of these consolidated petitions. To cover
this liability Gilbert Guy executed Promissory Note (PN) in behalf of
SPI in favor of AUB. This PN was renewed twice, once, in the name
of SPI, and last, in the name of Smartnet Philippines, bolstering
CHAPTER II 45
AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

AUB's belief that RMSI's directors and officers consistently treated


this letter of credit, among others, as obligations of RMSI.
When RMSI's obligations remained unpaid, AUB sent demand
letters. RMSI denied liability contending that the transaction was
incurred solely by SPI, a corporation which belongs to the Guy
Group of Companies, which has a separate and distinct personality
from RMSI. It further claimed that while Smartnet Philippines
is an RMSI division, SPI, is a subsidiary of RMSI, and hence, is a
separate entity.
Aggrieved, AUB filed a case of syndicated estafa under Article
315(2)(a) of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 1 of PD No.
1689 against the interlocking directors of RMSI and SPI, namely,
Gilbert G. Guy, Rafael H. Galvez, Philip Leung, Katherine L. Guy,
and Eugenio H. Galvez, Jr., before the Office of the City Prosecutor
of Pasig City. Accordingly, an Information was filed against Gilbert
Guy, et al., with the RTC of Pasig City.
Both parties filed their respective Petitions for Review with the
Department of Justice (DOJ) assailing the Resolution of the Office of
the City Prosecutor of Pasig City.
The DOJ reversed the City Prosecutor's Resolution and ordered
the dismissal of the estafa charges against Gilbert Guy, et al. for
insufficiency of evidence. The AUB's Motion for Reconsideration was
denied.
AUB then assailed the DOd Resolution before the CA. The CA
partially granted AUB's petition.
Hence, these consolidated petitions.

ISSUE:
Whether there is probable cause to prosecute Gilbert Guy,
et al., for the crime of syndicated estafa under PD No. 1689.

HELD:
Anent the issue as to whether or not Gilbert Guy, et al., should
be charged for syndicated estafa in relation to Section 1 of PD No.
1689, which states that:

Section 1. Any person or persons who shall commit


estafa or other forms of swindling as defined in Article 315
and 316 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, shall be
46 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

punished by life imprisonment to death if the swindling


(estafa) is committed by a syndicate consisting of five or
more persons formed with the intention of carrying out the
unlawful or illegal act, transaction, enterprise or scheme,
and the defraudation results in the misappropriation of
moneys contributed by stockholders, or members of rural
banks, cooperatives, "samahang nayon(s)," or farmers
associations, or of funds solicited by corporationsl asso-
ciations from the general public.
The Court holds that the afore-quoted law applies to the case
at bar. Gilbert Guy et al. want the Court to believe that AUB,
being a commercial bank, is beyond the coverage of PD No. 1689.
The Court holds, however, that a bank is a corporation whose fund
comes from the general public. PD No. 189 does not distinguish the
nature of the corporation. It requires, rather, that the funds of such
corporation should come from the general public. This is bolstered
by the third "whereas clause" of the quoted law which states that
the same also applies to other "corporations/associations operating
on funds solicited from the general public." This is precisely the
very same scheme that PD No. 1689 contemplates to "be checked
or at least be minimized by imposing capital punishment involving
funds solicited by corporations/associations from the general public"
because "this erodes the confidence of the public in the banking and
cooperative system, contravenes public interest and constitutes
economic sabotage that threatens the stability of the nation."

Old Cases:

PEOPLE v. HON. A. PURISIMA, et al.,


G.R. Nos. 1-420050-66, November 20, 1978
In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that the
intent and spirit of Presidential Decree No. 9 can
be found in the preamble or "whereas" clauses,
which enumerate the facts, or events that justify the
promulgation of the decrees and the stiff sanctions
stated therein.

FACTS:
Information for violation of PD No. 9 was ordered quashed by
Judge Purisima. The latter reasoned out that the information failed
to allege an essential element of the offense; thus: That the carrying
outside of the accused's residence of a bladed, pointed or blunt
CHAPTER II 47
AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

weapon is in furtherance or on the occasion of, connected with or


related to subversion, insurrection, rebellion, organized lawlessness
or public disorder.
On appeal, the Solicitor General raised the argument that
the prohibited acts need not be related to subversion activities and
that the preamble of the statute or that expressed in the "whereas"
clauses is not an essential part of an act and cannot enlarge or confer
powers, or cure inherent defects in the statute. It was also argued
that the explanatory note merely explains the reasons for issuing
the decree and this cannot prevail over the text itself.

HELD:
The Court disagrees with the contention of the Solicitor
General. Because of the problem of determining what acts fall within
the purview of PD No. 9, it becomes necessary to inquire into the
intent and spirit of the decree and this can be found among others
in the preamble or "whereas" clauses which enumerate the facts or
events which justify the promulgation of the decree and the stiff
sanction stated therein.

U.S. v. HART, et al., 26 PHIL. 149


In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that
construction should be based upon something more
substantial than mere punctuation found in the
printed act. Argument based upon punctuation is
not conclusive, and the courts will not hesitate to
change the punctuation when necessary, to give the
act the effect intended by the legislature.

FACTS:
Accused-appellants were charged with vagrancy under
Section 1 of RA No. 519. This section enumerates certain classes
of persons who are to be considered as vagrants such as those
"found loitering about saloons or dram shops or gambling houses,
or tramping or straying through the country without visible means
of support."
Accused-appellants were prosecuted and convicted for "loitering
about saloons or dram shops or gambling houses" the first part of
Section 1. The second part, it will be noticed is worded as follows:
"or tramping or straying through the country without visible means
of support."
48 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

It turned out, as shown by the evidence, that accused-appellants


had visible means of support.
The Attorney General argued that "without visible means of
support" as used in the second part, does not apply to "every person
found loitering about saloons or dram shops or gambling houses," but
only to tramping or straying through the country." It was contended
that if "without visible means of support" is intended for the first
part, either the comma after gambling houses would have been
omitted, or else the comma after country would have been inserted.

HELD:
When the meaning of legislative enactment is in question, it
is the duty of the courts to ascertain, if possible, the true legislative
intention, and adopt that construction of the statute which will give
it effect.
The construction should be based upon something more
substantial that the mere punctuation found in the printed Act. If
the punctuation of the statute gives it a meaning which is reasonable
and in apparent accord with legislative will, it may be used as an
additional argument for adopting the literal meaning of the words
of the statute as thus punctuated. But an argument based upon
punctuation is not conclusive, and the courts will not hesitate to
change the punctuation when necessary, to give to the Act the effect
intended by the legislature, disregarding superfluous or incorrect
punctuation marks, and inserting others where necessary.
The accused-appellants were acquitted.

GENERAL MILLING CORPORATION v. TORRES


G.R. No. 93666, April 22, 1991
Private Parties cannot Constitutionally con-
tract away the Applicable Provision of Law.

FACTS:
An alien employment permit was issued by DOLE to Earl
Timothy Cone, as sports consultant and coach of General Milling
Corporation. The change of admission of status of said Earl Timothy
Cone was approved to a pre-arranged employee. Months later, CMC
requested that it be allowed to employ Cone as full pledged coach.
The request was granted.
CHAPTER II 49
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The Secretary of labor cancelled Cone's permit because General


Milling Corporation failed to submit evidence that there is no person
in the Philippines that is competent and willing to do the services
that could be rendered by Cone, and likewise, there is no proof that
Cone's employment will redound to national interest.

ISSUE:
Was there a grave abuse of discretion in revoking the alien
employment permit of Cone? Is the contention of General Milling
Corporation (that it is an employer's prerogative to hire a foreign
coach) valid and tenable?

HELD:
There was no grave abuse of discretion. It is not true that
the hiring of foreign coach is an employer's prerogative. The law is
clear on this point. Under Article 40 of the Labor Code, an employer
seeking employment of an alien must first obtain an employment
permit from the Department of Labor. General Milling Corporation's
right to choose who to employ is limited by the statutory requirement
of an employment permit.
GMC will not find solace in the equal protection clause of
the Constitution. No comparison can be made between Cone and
Norman Black as the latter is "a long-time resident" of the country
and thus, not subject to Article 40 of the Labor Code which applies
only to "non-resident aliens."
Neither will obligation of contract be impaired by the imple-
mentation of the Secretary's decision. The Labor Code and its imple-
menting Rules and Regulations requiring alien employment permits
were in existence long before GMC and Cone entered into their con-
tract of employment. Provisions of applicable laws especially those
relating to matters affected with public policy, are deemed written
into contracts. Private parties cannot constitutionally con-
tract away the applicable provision of law.
GMC's contention that the Labor Secretary should have
deferred to the Immigration Commission's finding as for the need to
employ Cone is again bereft of legal basis.

EXAMPLE OFACASE WHERE THE SUPREME COURT


RULED, AMONG OTHERS, THAT EVERY PART
OF THE STATUTE MUST BE INTERPRETED WITH
50 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

REFERENCE TO THE CONTEXT, i.e., THAT EVERY


PART OF THE STATUTE MUST BE CONSIDERED
TOGETHER WITH THE OTHER PARTS, AND KEPT
SUBSERVIENT TO THE GENERAL INTENT OF THE
WHOLE ENACTMENT.
THE COURTALSO RULED THAT THE SPIRIT RATHER
THAN THE LETTER OF A LAW DETERMINES ITS
CONSTRUCTION; HENCE, A STATUTE, AS IN THIS
CASE, MUST BE READ ACCORDING TO ITS SPIRIT
AND INTENT.

PARAS v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS


G.R. No. 123169, November 4, 1996
It is a rule in statutory construction that
every part of the statute must be interpreted with
reference to the context, i.e., that every part of the
statute must be considered together with the other
parts, and kept subservient to the general intent of
the whole enactment.
An interpretation should, ifpossible, be avoided
under which a statute or provision being construed
is defeated, or as otherwise expressed, nullified,
destroyed, emasculated, repealed, explained away,
or rendered insignificant, meaningless, inoperative
or nugatory.
It is likewise a basic precept in statutory con-
struction that a statute should be interpreted in
harmony with the Constitution.

FACTS:
Paras is the incumbent Punong Barangay of Pula, Cabanatuan
City, who won during the last regular barangay election in 1994. A
petition for his recall as Punong Barangay was filed by the registered
voters of the barangay. COMELEC scheduled the petition signing
on October 14, 1995, and set the recall election on November 13,
1996. At least 29.30% of the registered voters signed the petition,
well above the 25% requirement provided by law. Due to Paras'
opposition, the COMELEC set anew the recall election, this time
on December 16, 1995. To prevent the holding of the recall election,
Paras filed before the Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City a
CHAPTER II 51
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petition for injunction, with the trial court issuing a temporary


restraining order.
The petition was later on dismissed and the TRO was lifted.
In a resolution dated January 5, 1996, the COMELEC, for the third
time, re-scheduled the recall election on January 13, 1996. Hence,
the instant petition for certiorari with urgent prayer for injunction
was filed.

HELD:
The subject provision of the Local Government Code provides:

"Section 74. Limitations on Recall. - (a) Any elective


local official may be the subject of a recall election only once
during his term of office for loss of confidence.
(b) No recall take place within one (1) year from the date
of the official's assumption to office or one (1) year immediately
preceding a regular local election."

• It is a rule in statutory construction that every part of the


statute must be interpreted with reference to the context, i.e., that
every part of the statute must be considered together with other
parts, and kept subservient to the general intent of the whole
enactment. (Aisporna v. Court of Appeals, 113 SCRA 464)
The evident intent of Section 74 is to subject an elective local
official to recall election once during his term of office. Paragraph (b)
construed together with paragraph (a) merely designates the period
when such election shall take place.
Thus, subscribing to Paras' interpretation of the phrase regu-
lar local election to include the SK election will unduly circumscribe
the novel provision of the Local Government Code on recall, a mode
of removal of public officers by initiation of the people before the end
of his term. And if the SK election which is set by RA No. 7808 to
be held every three years from May 1996 were to be deemed within
the purview of the phrase "regular local election," as erroneously
insisted by Paras, then no recall election can be conducted rendering
inutile the recall provision of the Local Government Code.
In the interpretation of a statute, the Court should start
with the assumption that the legislature intended to enact
an effective law, and the legislature is not presumed to have
done a vain thing in the enactment of a statute. (Asturias
52 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Sugar Central v. Commissioner of Customs, 29 SCRA 617) An


interpretation should, if possible, be avoided under which a
statute or provision being construed is defeated, or as other-
wise expressed, nullified, destroyed, emasculated, repealed,
explained away, or rendered insignificant, meaningless, in-
formative or nugatory. (PLDT v. Collector of International
Revenue, 90 Phil. 674)
It is likewise a basic precept in statutory construction
that a statute should be interpreted in harmony with the
Constitution. Thus, the interpretation of Section 74 of the
Local Government Code, specifically paragraph (b) thereof,
should not be in conflict with the Constitutional mandate of
Section 3 of Article X of the Constitution to "enact a local gov-
ernment code which shall provide for a more responsive and
accountable local government structure instituted through
a system of decentralization with effective mechanisms of
recall, initiative, and referendum x x
Moreover, Paras' too literal interpretation of the law leads to
absurdity, which we cannot countenance.
The spirit rather than the letter of a law determines its
construction; hence, a statute, as in this case, must be read according
to its spirit and intent.
1. Finally, recall election is potentially disruptive of the
normal working of the local government unit necessitating additional
expenses, hence, the prohibition against the conduct of recall election
one year immediately preceding the regular election for the office of
the local elective official concerned. The electorate could choose the
official's replacement in the said election that certainly has a longer
tenure in office than a successor elected through a recall election.
It would, therefore, be more in keeping with the intent of the recall
provision of the Code to construe regular local election referring to
an election where the office held by the local elective official sought
to be recalled will be contested and be filled by the electorate.
Nevertheless, recall at this time is no longer possible because
of the limitation stated under Section 74(b) of the Code considering
that the next regular election involving the barangay office concerned
is barely seven (7) months away, the same having been scheduled on
May 1997. (Paras v. Commission on Election,, G.R. 123169, November
4, 1996, En Banc, Francisco, J. [Resolution])
CHAPTER II 53
AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

III. EXTRINSIC AIDS

Extrinsic aids are any of the following: Contemporaneous cir-


cumstances, policy, legislative history of the statute, contempora-
neous or practical construction, executive construction, legislative
construction, judicial construction, and construction by the bar and
legal commentators.
Extrinsic aids can be resorted to only after the intrinsic aids
have been used and exhausted.
1. CONTEMPORANEOUS CIRCUMSTANCES. - These
are the conditions existing at the time the law was enacted such as
the following:
(a) History of the times and conditions existing at the time
the law was enacted;
(b) Previous state of the law;
(c) The evils sought to be remedied or corrected by the law;
and
(d) The customs usages of the people.
The above-mentioned circumstances constitute the reasons
why the law was enacted. Hence, the one interpreting the law
should place himself in the position and circumstances of those who
used the words in question and be able to feel the atmosphere, the
conditions, and the reasons why the law was enacted.
2. POLICY. - The general policy of the law or the settled
policy of the State may enlighten the interpreter of the law as to the
intention of the legislature in enacting the same. Hence, if a new
agrarian law is enacted today and few years from now, there will
arise the need to find out why such a law is enacted, the conditions,
the prevailing sentiment of the people, the policy of the State, and
the executive order issued by the Office of the President preceding
the legislative enactment will throw light upon the intention of the
legislature in enacting said law. The same thing is true if death
sentence is imposed for drug pushers and for those currently
involved in the so-called "satanismo" offenses. The conditions of
the times and the very destructive and heinous crimes committed
even in broad daylight, whether in the city or in the provinces, will
convince future interpreters of the law that such a penalty is needed
to protect society.
54 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

3. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE STATUTE. -


Such history may be found in reports of legislative committees, in the
transcript of stenographic notes taken during a hearing, legislative
investigation, or legislative debates.
Are personal opinions of some legislators appropriate aids of
construction?
As a general rule, they are not appropriate aids of construction.
However, if there is unanimity among the supporters and oppositors
to a bill with respect to the objective sought to be accomplished, the
debates may then be used as evidence of the purpose of the act.
4. CONTEMPORANEOUS AND PRACTICAL CON-
STRUCTION. - Those who lived at or near the time when the law
was passed were more acquainted of the conditions and the reasons
why that law was enacted Their understandmg and application of
the law, especially if the same has been continued and acquiesced by
the judicial tribunals and the legal profession, deserve to be consid-
ered by the courts.
5. EXECUTIVE CONSTRUCTION. - The construction
given by the executive department deserves great weight and should
be respected if said construction has been formed and observed for a
long period of time. The rules to remember are as follow:
(a) Congress is deemed to have been aware of the contempo-
raneous and practical construction made by the officers
charged with the administration and enforcement of the
law;
(b) The courts should respect that contemporaneous
construction except if it is clearly erroneous;
(c) Executive construction has more weight if it is rendered by
the Chief Legal adviser of the government who can issue
opinions to assist various departments of the government
charged with the duty to administer the law;
(d) The opinion, however, of the Chief Legal adviser is sub-
servient to the ruling of the judiciary, which is in charge
of applying and mterpretmg laws
6 LEGISLATIVE CONSTRUCTION - Legislative
construction is entitled to consideration and great weight but it
cannot control as against the court's prerogative to decide on what
is the right or wrong interpretation.
CHAPTER II 55
AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

7. JUDICIAL CONSTRUCTION. - It is presumed that


the legislature was acquainted with and had in mind the judicial
construction of former statutes on the subject. It is also presumed
that the statute was enacted in the light of the judicial construction
that the prior enactment had received. With respect to a statute
adopted from another state, it is presumed that it was adopted with
the construction placed upon it by the courts of that State.
Should this construction be followed?
It should be followed only if it is reasonable, in harmony with
justice and public policy and consistent with the local law.
8. CONSTRUCTION BY THE BAR AND LEGAL COM-
MENTATORS. - It is presumed that the meaning publicly given
in a statute by the members of the legal profession is a true one and
regarded as one that should not be lightly changed. The opinion and
commentaries of text writers and legal commentators, whether they
are Filipinos or foreigners, may also be consulted as, in fact, they are
oftentimes cited or made as references in court decisions.

SIMPLIFICATIONS OF THE RULE REGARDING THE


USE OF EXTRINSIC AIDS
Extrinsic aids, such as those mentioned above, are entitled to
respect, consideration and weight, but the courts are at liberty to
decide whether they are applicable or not to the case brought to it
for decision.

EXAMPLE OFA CASE WHEN THE SUPREME COURT


EXPLAINED THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW AS WELL
AS THE POLICY AND OBJECTIVE SOUGHT TO BE
ACCOMPLISHED BY REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6657

ASSOCIATION OF SMALL LANDOWNERS IN THE


PHILIPPINES v. SECRETARY OF AGRARIAN REFORM
G.R. No. 78742, July 14, 1989
FACTS:
PD No. 27, EO Nos. 228 and 229, and RA No. 6657 (Compre-
hensive Agrarian Reform Program) were assailed as violative of due
process and therefore unconstitutional.

ISSUE:
Is RA No. 6657 constitutional?
56 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

HELD:
The taking contemplated is not a mere limitation of the use
of the land. What is required is the surrender of the land and the
physical possession of the land in excess of the retention limit and
all the beneficial rights accruing to the owner in favor of the for-
mer beneficiary. This is within the power of the State to take and
regulate private property for which payment of just compensation
is provided.
Although the proceedings in Section 16 of CARL are described
as summary, the landowners and other interested parties are never-
theless allowed an opportunity to submit evidence on the real value
of the property.
DAR's determination of just compensation is not by any means
final and conclusive upon the landowner or any interested party.
DAR's determination is only preliminary unless accepted by all
parties concerned. Otherwise, the court of justice will still have the
right to review with finality the said determination in the exercise
of what is admittedly a judicial function.
Regarding Section 18 thereof which requires the owners
of expropriated properties to accept just compensation in
less than money, the Supreme Court said: "This is not an
ordinary expropriation where only a specific property is
sought to be taken by the State from its owner for a specific
and perhaps local purpose. WHAT WE DEAL WITH HERE IS
A REVOLUTIONARY KIND OF EXPROPRIATION."
Such program will involve not merely millions but billions
of pesos. "[The Court] assume[s] that the framers of the
Constitution were aware of this difficulty when they called
for agrarian reform as a top project of the government.
There can be no doubt that they were aware of the financial
limitation of the government and had no illusions that there
would be enough money to pay in cash and in full for the
lands they wanted to be distributed among the farmers."
"[The Court] may assume their intention was to allow such
manner of payment as provided by the CARP Law conditions the
transfer of possession and ownership of the land to the government
upon receipt by the landowner of the corresponding payment or the
deposit by the DAB of the compensation in cash or LBP bonds with
an accessible bank. Until then, the title remains with the landowner.
No outright change of ownership is contemplated."
CHAPTER II 57
AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

EXAMPLE OF CASE WHEN THE SUPREME COURT


DELVED INTO THE INTENTION OF THE LAW AND
WHY THE RIGHT OF CULTIVATION WAS EXTENDED
TO THE LANDOWNER'S IMMEDIATE FAMILY
MEMBERS

BONIFACIO v. JUDGE DIZON


G.R. No. 79416, September 5, 1989
The question (involving the interpretation of Section 36(1) of
BA No. 3844 is this:

Is the ejectment of the agricultural lessee valid when


the landowner-lessor desires to cultivate the landholding?
Section 36 (1) of RA No. 3844 provides as follows:

"Notwithstanding any agreement as to the period or


future surrender of the land, an agricultural lessee shall
continue in the enjoyment and possession of his landhold-
ing except when his dispossession has been authorized by
the Court in a judgment that is final and executory if after
due hearing it is shown that; The agricultural lessor-own-
er or a member of the immediate family will personally
cultivate the landholding or will convert the landholding,
if suitably located, into residential, factory, hospital or
school site or other useful non-agricultural purposes."

Under this provision, ejectment of an agricultural lessee was


authorized not only when the landowner-lessor desired to cultivate
the landholding, but also when a member of his immediate family
so desired. In so providing, the law did not intend to limit the right
of cultivation strictly and personally to the landowner but to extend
the exercise of such right to the members of his immediate family.
The right of cultivation as a ground for ejectment was not a right
exclusive and personal to the landowner-lessor. To say otherwise
would be to put to naught the right of cultivation likewise conferred
upon the landowner's immediate family members.
The right of cultivation was extended to the landowner's
immediate family members to place the landowner-lessor
in parity with the agricultural lessee who was (and still is)
allowed to cultivate the land with the aid of farm household.
In this regard, it must be observed that an agricultural
58 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

lessee who cultivates the landholding with the aid of his


immediate farm household is within the contemplation of
the law engaged in personal cultivation.
Whether used in reference to the agricultural lessor or
lessee, the term "personal cultivation" cannot be given a re-
stricted connotation to mean a right personal and exclusive
to either lessor or lessee. In either case, the right extends
to the members of the lessor's or lessee's immediate family
members.

EXAMPLE OF A CASE WHEN THE SUPREME


COURT CONSIDERED CONTEMPORANEOUS AND
PRACTICAL CONSTRUCTION, AND RULED THAT
THE INTERPRETATION MADE BY THE SOLICITOR
GENERAL CANNOT BE APPLIED

PASCUAL v. PROVINCIAL BOARD OF NUEVA ECIJA,


106 PHIL. 466 (1959) AND AGUINALDO v. SANTOS
212 SCRA 768 (1992)
An official's re-election expresses the sovereign
will of the electorate to forgive or condone any act or
omission constituting a ground for administrative
discipline which was committed during his previous
term. The Court may add that sound public policy
dictates it.

This doctrine of forgiveness or condonation cannot, however,


apply to criminal acts, which the re-elected official may have com-
mitted during his previous term.

FACTS:
Mayor Demetriou of Tabaco, Albay charged that Governor
Salalima violated Section 60, pars. (c) and (d) of the Local Government
Code, Section 3, par. (G) of RA No. 3019, and the provisions of PD
No 1594, as amended Mayor Demetriou alleged that despite the
delay in the completion of work under contracts entered into by
the Provincial Government for the construction of Tabaco Public
Market, liquidated damages were not imposed, nor collected from
the contractor by the provinces.
In another case, Governor Salalima and the members of the
Sanggumang Panlalawigan were charged with having retained
CHAPTER II 59
AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

the legal services of a private lawyer and disbursing public fund in


payment thereof amounting to P7,380,410.00 in connection with a
case filed by the province against the National Power Corporation.
It is alleged that this violates Section 481 of the Local Government
Code that requires the appointment of a legal officer for the province.
The President found Governor Salalima guilty of the charges
and suspended the latter from office. In the meantime Governor
Salalima was re-elected.

ISSUE:
Salalima contends that the Office of the President committed
grave abuse of discretion in suspending him after he was re elected,
since the administrative offense were allegedly committed during
his first term.

HELD:
The Court agrees with the petitioners that Governor Salalima
could no longer be held administratively liable in 0.P. Case No
5450 in connection with the negotiated contract entered into on
March 6, 1992 with RYU Construction for additional rehabilitation
work at the Tabaco Public Market. Nor could the petitioners be held
administratively liable in O.P. Case No. 5469 for the execution in
November 1989 of the retainer contract with Atty. Jesus Cornago
and the Cortes and Reyna Law Firm. This is so because public
officials cannot be subject to disciplinary action for administrative
misconduct committed during a prior term, as held in Pascual v.
Provincial Board of Nueva Ecija (106 Phil. 466 [1959]) and Aguinaldo
v. Sdntos (212 SCRA 768 [1992]). In Pascual, th[e] Court ruled:
The Court comes to one main issue of the controversy - the
legality of disciplining an elective municipal official for a wrongful
act committed by him during his immediately preceding term of
office.
In the absence of any precedent in this jurisdiction, [the Court]
ha[s] resorted to American authorities. The Court found that cases
on the matter are confficting due in part, probably, to differences
in statutes and constitutional provisions, and also, in part, to a
divergence of views with respect to the question of whether the
subsequent election or appointment condones the prior misconduct.
The weight of authority, however, seems to incline to the rule
denying the right to remove one from office because of misconduct
during a prior term, to which we fully subscribe.
60 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Offenses committed, or acts done, during previous term are


generally held not to furnish cause for removal and this is especially
true where the Constitution provides that the penalty in proceedings
for removal shall not extend beyond the removal from office, and
disqualification from holding office for the term for which the officer
was elected or appointed.
The underlying theory is that each term is separate from other
terms, and that the re-election to office operates as a condonation of
the officer's previous misconduct to the extent of cutting off the right
to remove him therefore.
The Court should never remove a public officer for acts done
prior to his present term of office. To do otherwise would be to
deprive the people of their right to elect their officers. When the
people have elected a man to office, it must be assumed that they
did this with knowledge of his life and character, and that they
disregarded or forgave his faults or misconduct, if he had been guilty
of any. It is not for the court, by reason of such faults or misconduct
to practically overrule the will of the people.
The Court reiterated this rule in Aguinaldo and explicitly
stated therein:

"Clearly then, the rule is that a public official can not


be removed for administrative misconduct committed during
a prior term, since his re-election to office operates as a
condonation of the officer's previous misconduct to the extent
of cutting off the right to remove him therefore. The foregoing
rule, however, finds no application to criminal cases pending
against petitioners for acts he may have committed during the
failed coup."

However, the Office of the Solicitor General maintains


that Aguinaldo does not apply because the case against
the official therein was already pending when he filed his
certificate of candidacy for his re-election bid. It is of the
view that an official's re-election renders moot and academic
an administrative complaint against him for acts done
during his previous term only if the complaint was filed
before his re-election. The fine distinction does not impress
us. The rule makes no distinction. As a matter of fact, in
Pascual, the administrative complaint against Pascual for
acts committed during his first term as Mayor of San Jose,
Nueva Ecija, was filed only a year after he was re-elected.
CHAPTER II 61
AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

The rule adopted in Pascual, qualified in Aguinaldo insofar as


criminal cases are concerned, is still a good law. Such a rule is not
only founded on the theory that an official's re-election expresses
the sovereign will of the electorate to forgive or condone any act or
omission constituting a ground for administrative discipline which
was committed during his previous term. [The Court] may add that
sound public policy dictates it. To rule otherwise would open the
floodgates to exacerbating endless partisan contests between the
re-elected official and his political enemies, who may not stop to
hound the former during his new term with administrative cases for
acts alleged to have been committed during his previous term. His
second term may thus be devoted to defending himself in the said
cases to the detriment of public service. This doctrine of forgiveness
or condonation cannot, however, apply to criminal acts, which the
re-elected official may have committed during his previous term.
Thus, any administrative liability which petitioner Salalima
might have incurred in the execution of the retainer contract and
incidents related therewith and in the execution of a contract
for additional repair for the Tabaco Public Market are deemed
extinguished by his re-election in the May 11, 1992 synchronized
elections. So are the liabilities, of petitioner members of the
Sangguniang Paulalawigan ng Albay, who signed a resolution
authorizing Salalima to enter into the retainer contract in question
who were re-elected in the 1992 elections. This is, however, without
prejudice to the institution of appropriate civil and criminal cases as
may be warranted by the attendant circumstance.

CELEBRATED CASE IN 1983


GARCIA-PADILLA v. MINISTER JUAN PONCE ENRILE,
GEN. FABIAN C. VER AND GENERAL FIDEL V. RAMOS &
LT. COL. MIGUEL CORONEL
G.R. No. 61388, April 20, 1983
In this case, the principal issue is whether the
courts can inquire on the Presidential suspension
of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus and
whether there is right to bail during the suspension
of the privilege of the said writ.
This case is an example where the Supreme
Court took cognizance of contemporaneous circum-
stances and what was actually being experienced
by the soldiers in the battlefield; of the historical
62 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

basis of the President's power to suspend the priv-


ilege of Habeas Corpus; of the policy, reasons and
evils sought to be remedied by LOl 1211 authorizing
the issuance of a Presidential Commitment Order;
and of the reasons why it reverted to the Barcelon
and Montenegro Rule. This case is also an example
where the Supreme Court made a lot of references to
opinions, commentaries of legal luminaries and to
the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court. There were
also some interpretations mentioned in the deci-
sion which vested absolute power to the president
on the matter of suspending the privilege of Habeas
Corpus. (The Author disagreed with the ruling of the Su-
preme Court in this case.)

FACTS:
Nine of the fourteen detainees in this case were arrested on
July, 1982 at about 1:45 P.M., when three teams of the PC/INP of
Bayombong, Nueva Viscaya led by Lt. Col. Coronel, etc., after securing
a search warrant issued by Judge Sofronio Sayo of the Court of First
Instance of Nueva Viscaya, conducted a raid at the residence of Dra.
Aurora Parong. Apprehended during the raid were Dra. Aurora
Parong, Benjamin Pineda, Sabino Padilla, Francisco Divinagracia,
Zenaida Mallari, Letty Ballogan, Norberto Portugese and Mariano
Soriano who were then having a conference in the dining room of
Dra. Parong's residence which had been going on since 10:00 A.M.
of that same day. The other four detainees were arrested on the
following day. The detainees, herein petitioners, were all detained
at the PC/INP Command Headquarters, Bayombong, Nueva Viscaya
from July 6, 1982, until their transfer on the morning of August 10,
1982, to an undisclosed place reportedly to Camp Crame, Quezon
City, to Echague, Isabela and to Tuguegarao, Cagayan.
Josefina Garcia-Padilla, a mother of detained petitioner
Sabino G. Padilla, Jr., filed a petition for. habeas corpus on August
13, 1982. It is alleged in the petition that the arrest of petitioners
were patently unlawful since it was effected without any warrant of
arrest; that the PC/INP raiding team which made the arrest were
armed only with a search warrant issued by Judge Sofronio Sayo of
the Court of First Instance of Nueva Viscaya, and no where in said
warrant was authority given to make arrest, much less detention;
that the search warrant which authorized respondents to seize
"subversive documents, firearms of assorted calibers, medicine and
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other subversive paraphernalia" in the house and clinic of Dra.


Aurora Parong was a roving and general warrant and is, therefore
illegal per se because it does not state specifically the things that are
to be seized; that no criminal charges have been filed against any of
the detainees; that there is no judgment, decree, decision or order
from a court of law which would validate the continued detention of
the petitioner; that while it is true that a purported telegram stating
the issuance of a Presidential Commitment Order (PCO) was shown
to the detainees on or about July 11 and 12, 1982, but counsel and the
detainees have not yet been given a copy of such PCO, nor notified
of its contents, raising doubt whether such commitment order has
in fact been issued.
In an en banc resolution, the Supreme Court issued a writ of
habeas corpus and respondents were required to make a return of the
writ. In the return to the writ filed on August 23, 1982, respondents,
through the Solicitor General, alleged;
The detainees mentioned in the petition, with the ex-
ception of Tom Vasquez who was temporarily released
on July 17, 1982, are all being detained by virtue of a
Presidential Commitment Order (PCO) issued on July
12, 1982, pursuant to LOT No. 1211 dated March 9, 1982,
in relation to Presidential Proclamation No. 2045 dated
January 17, 1981. The said PCO was issued by President
Ferdinand E. Marcos for violation of PD No. 885;
2. The privilege of habeas corpus cannot be availed of by
petitioners. The courts cannot inquire into the validity
and cause of their arrest and detention.
Upon hearing, the Supreme Court ruled as follows:

HELD:
ATTENDANT CIRCUMSTANCES CONSIDERED
"x x x At the time of the arrest of the nine (9) of the fourteen
(14) detainees on July 6, 1982, records reveal that they were then
having conference in the dining room of Dra. Parong's residence
from 10:00 A.M. of that same day. Prior thereto, all the fourteen
(14) detainees were under surveillance as they were then identified
as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines engaging in
subversive activities and using the house of detainee Dra. Parong
as their headquarters. Caught in flagrante delieto, the nine (9) de-
tainees scampered towards different directions leaving on top of
64 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

their conference table numerous subversive documents, periodicals,


pamphlets, books, correspondence, stationaries, and other papers,
including a plan on how they would infiltrate the youth and stu-
dent sector. Also found were one (1) .38 cal. revolver with eight (8)
Eve bullets, nineteen (19) rounds of ammunition for M16 armalite,
P18,650.00 cash believed to be CPP/NPA funds, assorted medicine
packed and ready for distribution, and sizeable quantity of print-
ing paraphernalia, which were then seized. There is no doubt that
circumstances attendant in the arrest of the herein detainees fall
under a situation where arrest is lawful even without a judicial war-
rant as specifically provided for under Section 6(a), Rule 133 of the
Rules of Court and allowed under existing jurisprudence on the mat-
ter. As provided therein, a peace officer or a private person may,
without a warrant, arrest a person when the person to be arrested
has committed and actually committing, or is about to commit an
offense in his presence."
From the facts above narrated, the claim of the petitioners that
they were arrested illegally is, therefore, without basis in fact and in
law. The crimes of insurrection or rebellion, subversion, conspiracy
or proposal to commit such crimes, and other crimes and offenses
committed in the furtherance or on the occasion thereof, or incident
thereto, or in connection therewith under Presidential Proclamation
No. 2045, are all in the nature of continuing offenses which set
them apart from the common offenses, aside from fact that they
essentially involve a massive conspiracy of nationwide magnitude.
Clearly then, the arrest of the herein detainees was well within the
bounds of the law and existing jurisprudence in our jurisdiction.

COMMENTS ON THIS PART OF THE DECISION


Besides the attendant circumstances aforementioned, the
Supreme Court maintained the position that the arrest of the said
detainees fall under the specific provision of Section 6(a), Rule 113
of the New Rules of Court. The law being clear and specific, it
concluded that the claim of petitioners was without basis in
fact and in law.

CONTEMPORANEOUS CIRCUMSTANCES AND WHAT


WAS ACTUALLY BEING EXPERIENCED BY
THE SOLDIERS IN THE BATTLEFIELD
x x It i6, likewise, all too well-known that when the rebel
forces capture government troopers or kidnap private individuals,
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they do not accord to them any of the rights now being demanded
by the herein petitioners, particularly to be set at liberty upon the
filling of bail. As a matter of common knowledge, captives of the
rebels or insurgents are not only denied the right to be released, but
also denied trial of any kind. In some instances, they may even be
liquidated unceremoniously. What is then sought by the suspension
of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is among others, to put
the government forces on equal fighting terms with the rebels, by
authorizing the detention of their own rebel or dissident captives as
the rebellion goes on. In this way, the advantage the rebellion forces
have over those of the government, as when they resort to guerilla
tactics with sophisticated weapons, is, at least minimized, thereby
enhancing the latter's chances of beating their enemy x x x."

THE HISTORICAL BASIS OF THE PRESIDENT'S


POWER TO SUSPEND THE PRIVILEGE
OF HABEAS CORPUS
"Accordingly, [the Court] holds that in times of war and similar
emergency as expressly provided in the Constitution, the President
may suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, which has
the effect of allowing the executive to defer the prosecution of any
of the offenses covered by Proclamation No. 2045, including, as
a necessary consequence, the withholding for the duration of the
suspension of the privilege, of the right to bail. The power could
have been vested in Congress, instead of the President, as it was
so vested in the United States for which reason, when President
Lincoln himself exercised the power in 1861, Chief Justice Taney of
the U.S. Supreme Court expressed the opinion that Congress alone
possessed this power under the Constitution." (The Court citing
Exparts Merryman, Federal Case No. 9487 [18611)

REASONS AND EVILS SOUGHT TO BE REMEDIED BY


LOl 1211 AUTHORIZING THE ISSUANCE OF PCO;
REASONS WHY IT ABANDONED THE LANSANG
DOCTRINE AND WHY IT REVERTED TO
BARCELON AND MONTENEGRO RULE
"The suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus
indeed, carry with it the suspension of the right to bail, if the
government's campaign to suppress the rebellion is to be enhanced
and rendered effective. If the right to bail may be demanded during
the continuance of the rebellion and those arrested, captured
and detained in the course thereof will be released, they would,
66 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

without the least doubt, rejoin their comrades in the field thereby
jeopardizing the success of government efforts to bring to an end the
invasion, rebellion or insurrection."
"Realistically, a person engaged in the rebellion does not, upon
being arrested or captured, cease to be as committed to the cause
against the government. Through a grand conspiracy, as is of the
essence of how rebellion is committed, involving a great mass of
confederates bound together by a common goal, he remains in a state
of continued participation in the criminal act or design. His heart
still beats with the same emotion for the success of the movement of
which he is an ardent adherent and ally x x x."
What has been said above shows the need of reexamining the
Lansang case with a view to reverting to the ruling of Barcelon v.
Baker (5 Phil. 87), a 1905 decision, and Montenegro v. Castañeda
(91 Phil. 882 [1952]), that the President's decision to suspend the
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is "final and conclusive upon
the courts, and all other persons." This well-settled ruling was
diluted in the Lansang case which declared that the "function of the
Court is merely to check not to supplant the Executive, or ascertain
merely whether he has gone beyond the constitutional limits of his
jurisdiction not to exercise the power vested in him or to determine
the wisdom of his act." Judicial interference was held as permissible,
and the test as laid down therein is not whether the President acted
correctly but whether he acted arbitrarily. This would seem to be
pure semanticism, if we consider that with particular reference to
the nature of the actions the President would take on the occasion of
the grave emergency he has to deal with, which, as clearly indicated
in Section 9, Article VII of the Constitution, partakes of military
measures, the judiciary can, with becoming modesty, ill afford to
assume the authority to check, reverse or supplant the presidential
actions.

OPINIONS, COMMENTARIES OF LEGAL


LUMINARIES AND RULING OF THE
U.S. SUPREME COURT
Chief Justice Enrique Fernando, in his concurring opinion said:
"x x x It cannot be overemphasized that the writ of habeas corpus,
as a constitutional right, is, for eminent commentators, protean in
scope. A reference to the opinion of the Court in Gumabon v. Director
of Bureau of Prisons may not be amiss. Thus: "The writ imposes
on judges the grave responsibility of ascertaining whether there is
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any legal justification for a deprivation of physical freedom. Unless


there be such a showing, the confinement must thereby cease." It
continues: Rightly then could Chafee refer to the writ as "the most
important human rights provision" in the fundamental law. Nor
is such praise unique. Cooley spoke of it as "one of the principal
safeguards to personal liberty." For Willoughby, it is "the greatest of
the safeguards erected by the civil law against arbitrary and illegal
imprisonment by whosoever detention may be exercised." Burdick
echoed a similar sentiment, referring to it as "one of the most
important bulwarks of liberty!' Fraenkel made it unanimous, for to
him, "without it much else would be of no avail." A full awareness
of the potentialities of the writ of habeas corpus in the defense of
liberty coupled with its limitations may be detected in the opinions
of former Chief Justices Arellano, Avancena, Abad Santos, Paras,
Bengson and Chief Justice Concepcion. It fell to Justice Malcolm's
lot, however, to emphasize quite a few times the breadth of its
amplitude and of its reach." He also said: "there is no higher duty
than to maintain it unimpaired (citing Bowen v. Johnston, 306 US
19, 26, 83 L. ed 2d 455, 595 Ct. 422 [19391) and unsuspended, save
only in the case specified in the constitution (citing Smith v. Bennett,
365 US 708, 713, 6 L ed 39, 43, 81 S Ct. 895).

ON THE MATTER OF INTERPRETATION, THE SUPREME


COURT RULED THAT LOI 1211 SHOULD BE VIEWED IN
ITS ENTIRETY AND PETITIONERS SHOULD NOT RELY
ENTIRELY ON PARAGRAPHS I AND 2 OF LOl 1211
Petitioners relied on paragraphs 1 and 2 of LOT 1211, which
contemplate of the first two situations when an arrest can be made,
to wit:
1. The arrest and detention effected by virtue of a warrant
issued by a judge;
2. The arrest and detention effected by a military
commander or the head of a law enforcement agency
after it is determined that the person or persons to be
arrested would probably escape for safety. After the
arrest, however, the case shall be immediately referred
to the city or provincial fiscal, or to the municipality,
circuit, or district judge for preliminary examination or
investigation who, if the evidence warrants, shall file the
corresponding charges and, thereafter, secure a warrant
of arrest;
68 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

The Supreme Court ruled, thus: "The reliance of petitioners on


paragraphs 1 and 2 of LOT 1211 as to the alleged necessity of judicial
warrant before a person may be arrested and detained is not well
founded. Neither is the contention that paragraph 3 of LOT 1211
applies only when judicial process is not possible. This is a narrow
and constricted interpretation of LOT 1211 when viewed in its en-
tirety. Even in instances when a resort to judicial process is possible,
where, in the judgment of the President, a resort thereto would not
be expedient because it would endanger the public order or safety, a
P00 is justified. So, too, when release on bail in the ordinary judicial
process will invite the same danger."
By its very nature, and clearly by its language, LOT 1211 is a
mere directive of the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines to his subordinates or implementing officers
for the ultimate objective of providing guidelines in the arrest and
detention of the persons covered by Presidential Proclamation No.
2045. The purpose is "to insure protection to individual liberties
without sacrificing the requirements of public order and safety and
the effectiveness of the campaign against those seeking the forcible
overthrow of the government and duly constituted authorities." LOT
1211 does not, in any manner, limit the authority of the President
to cause the arrest and detention of persons engaged in, or charged
with the crimes or offenses mentioned in said Proclamation in that
the (President) would subject himself to the superior authority of the
judge who, under normal judicial processes in the prosecution of the
common offenses, is the one authorized to issue a judicial warrant
after a preliminary investigation is conducted with a finding of
probable cause. Those who would read such an intention on the part
of the President in issuing LOT 1211 seems to do so in their view that
LOT forms of the law of the land under the 1976 amendment of the
Constitution (citing Section 6, l976Amendment to the Constitution).
They would then contend that a PCO issued not in compliance with
the provisions of the LOl would be an illegality and of no effect.

BRIEF COMMENTS OF THE AUTHOR


With all due respect to the decision of the Honorable Supreme
Court, the Author cannot subscribes to the reasoning that it is
"impractical" or a "useless and futile exercise" for our courts to
determine whether the President acted with arbitrariness in
suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. The judicial
machinery is embedded in our system of government, or in any
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AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

democratic system of government for that matter, precisely to


inquire into the validity and legality of the acts perpetrated by any
of its citizens and which are being complained of as illegal. The
President, I honestly believe, is not an exception. On the contrary,
the courts particularly the Supreme Court, should use all available
means and facilities to inquire whether there is arbitrariness in
the President's decision to suspend the privilege of habeas corpus
and whether the detention of any of its citizens is arbitrary. If the
Supreme Court is deprived of this right, who else in this Republic
can effectively question the act of the President knowing, as we all
know, that he wields extraordinary powers, especially under the
present set-up? To agree that the President is answerable to his
conscience, to the people and to God is, in effect, to agree that the
doctrine of separation of powers and the democratic processes we
are supposed to uphold should be disregarded.
The decision apparently gives more strength, power, and pro-
tection to the President and to his government machinery instead of
affording the individual citizens of a valid and reasonable recourse
that they can make use of and when they are detained without a
warrant of arrest. As between the government and individual citi-
zens, the government enjoys a tremendous advantage in any respect.
To lessen further the rights of the citizens just so that the President
can effectively meet or quell an alleged invasion of rebellion, or in or-
der that the detention of any person can be validated by and through
a Presidential Commitment Order, is by any measure a deprivation
of life and liberty without due process of law.
The underlying reason why the powers of government are
allocated to the different departments is precisely to avoid arbitrary
rule and abuse of authority. It is believed that concentration of the
three powers of government in the same person or body of persons,
or in one department, would lead to abuse. On this point, Justice
Brandeis said:

"The doctrine of separation of powers was adopted


by the Convention of 1787, not to promote efficiency but
to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power. The purpose
was not to avoid friction, but by means of the inevitable
friction incident to the distribution of the government
powers, among the three departments, to save the people
from autocracy." (Myers u. United, 272 U.S. 52, 293)
(Underscoring supplied)
70 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Let each department of the government act within its own


sphere of jurisdiction. And let the system of checks and balances
scrutinize the action of the other to the end that public good may
be served. This is the system and tradition we have been taught
to embrace and it is found out to be more democratic and more in
keeping with our culture and tradition as peace loving people. I
submit that there is indeed no justification to abandon the doctrine
of separation of powers and the system of checks and balances.
On the issue of bail, the two reasons given by Associate Justice
Pacifico P. de Castro and which are quoted above, are not, in my
honest opinion, sufficient justification to deny the right to bail for
the following reasons:
FIRST: In G.R. No. 61388 entitled "In the Matter of the Peti-
tion for the Issuance of the Writ of Habeas Corpus for Dr. Aurora
Parong, et al., Josefina Garcia-Padilla, petitioner, v. Minister Juan
Ponce Enrile, Gen. Fabian C. Ver, Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, and Lt. Col.
Miguel Coronel, respondents," records show that Dr. Aurora Parong
is charged with the crime of illegal possession of firearms. This is
clearly a bailable offense. The same thing is true with respect to
the other detainees. No amount of legal nicety nor the issuance of
a Presidential Commitment Order can prevail over a clear consti-
tutional guarantee expressed in Section 13, Article III of the New
Constitution which reads:
xxx
"SECTION 13. All persons, except those charged
with capital offenses when evidence of guilt is strong,
shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties.
Excessive bail shall not be required." (Underscoring sup-
plied)

Since it is clear that the said detainee is charged with a bailable


offense and since it is clear from the above-quoted constitutional
provision that she is qualified to bail, there should be no reason nor
any barrier to deny the petition for bail.
SECOND: While the President has the power to suspend the
privilege of habeas corpus under and by virtue of the exceptions in
Section 15, Article III of the 1987 Constitution, it is, on the other
hand, the power of the courts to grant bail to qualified persons not
falling under the exceptions mentioned in Section 13, Article III. I
see no justification to the statement that "The duty of the judiciary
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AIDS IN INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

to protect individual rights must yield to the power of the executive


to protect the State x x x" Ten or one hundred detention prisoners,
or even more, even granting that they are rebels, cannot overwhelm
the vast powers of the government. It will make a serious
difference if they are granted the right to bail. Besides, why should
the judiciary yield a power and a duty which is appropriately its
own? Moreover, it is not the particular right of the individual that is
protected or being protected. Rather, it is the doctrine of separation
of powers itself and the system of checks and balances as well as
the very Constitution itself that guarantees all of these that the
judiciary protects. If in the exercise of this duty, an individual or
group of individuals are directly or indirectly benefited, it is because
they are part and parcel of the State and of the government that
they have chosen. After all, the government may come and go at
anytime but the people who compose the State remains. They are
actually the ones who work to no end just so that the nation and the
State can survive.
THIRD: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be
presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy
the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the
nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy,
impartial and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to
have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and
the production of evidence in his behalf, x x x" (Section 14, Article
III, 1987 Constitution) (Underscoring supplied). If one's right to bail
is denied, the above-quoted constitutional right will be defeated
and rendered useless. The detainee, for as long as he is detained,
cannot effectively prepare his case and his defense. Added to this is
the fact that during the entire period of his detention and until the
case is finally decided, he is, in the eyes of the law, still presumed
innocent. The contrary has yet to be proven and yet during the
interregnum between the inquiry and the final judgment, he has
already lost the battle. Even before the trial starts, he is already
in a very disadvantageous position. While the government, with all
the powers and facilities in its command, is thoroughly preparing
its case and its evidence the detainee suffers the physical and
mental burden of being kept inside the prison cell. Even granting
for the sake of argument that he is given a chance to confer with
his counsel, the disadvantage in any respect still works against the
detainee. This is very evident and clear and any contradiction of
reality will only make the truth very obvious.
72 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

NOTE:
THE CONFLICTING DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME
COURT ON THIS QUESTION ARE NOW LAID TO REST
BY ARTICLE VII, SECTION 18 OF THE
1987 CONSTITUTION.
The conflicting decisions of the Supreme Court on this
question are now laid to rest by Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987
Constitution, thus:

"The Supreme Court may review, in an


appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the
sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation
of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of
the writ of habeas corpus or the extension thereof.
and must promulgate its decision thereon x x x."
(Third paragraph, Article VII. Section 18. of the
1987 Constitution) (Underscoring Supplied)

The inclusion of the said constitutional provision was made


possible by the approval of the 1986 Constitutional Commission.
The latter is apparently guided by the past cases and decision on
this matter. It will be recalled that when Lansarig v. Garcia was de-
cided, the Supreme Court was then presided by former Chief Justice
Roberto Concepcion, a delegate to the 1986 Constitutional Commis-
sion.
Then and now, the author's position on this subject remains the
same. He cannot subscribe to the reasoning that it is "impractical"
or a "useless and futile exercise" for our courts to determine whether
or not the President acted with arbitrariness in suspending the
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. The judicial machinery
is embedded in our system of government, or in any democratic
system of government for that matter, precisely to inquire into the
validity and legality of the acts perpetrated by any of its citizens and
which are being complained of as illegal. The President, the author
honestly believes, is not an exception. On the contrary, the courts,
particularly the Supreme Court, should use all available means
and facilities to inquire whether the privilege of habeas corpus and
whether or not the detention of any of its citizens is arbitrary. If the
Supreme Court is deprived of this right, who else in this Republic
can effectively question the act of the President knowing, as we
all know, that he wields extraordinary powers, especially when
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the country is under martial law? To agree that "the President is


answerable to his conscience, the people, and to God" is, in effect, to
agree that the doctrine of separation of powers and the democratic
processes we are supposed to uphold should be disregarded.

EXAMPLE OF A CASE WHEN THE SUPREME COURT


RULED THAT ARTICLE 1621 OF THE CIVIL CODE IS
CLEARLY WORDED AND ADMITS NO AMBIGUITY OF
CONSTRUCTION. THE SUPREME COURT ALSO CITED
THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF SECTION 1,
ARTICLE XIII OF THE 1935 CONSTITUTION, AND THE
INTENTION BEHIND SECTION 5, ARTICLE XIII THEREOF.
IN RELATION TO THIS, THE SUPREME COURT MADE
REFERENCE TO THE OLD LANDMARK CASE OF
KR! VENKO v. REGISTER OF DEEDS (79 PHIL. 461)

CELSO HALILI AND ARTHUR HALILI v. CA


AND HELEN MEYERS GUZMAN, et al.,
G.R. No. 113539, March 12, 1998
In view of the finding that the subject land
is urban in character, petitioners have no right
to invoke Article 1621 of the Civil Code, which
presupposes that the land sought to be redeemed is
rural. The Provision is clearly worded and admits
of no ambiguity in construction.
Undoubtedly, Section 5 (now Section 7) is in-
tended to insure the policy of nationalization con-
tained in Section 1 (now Section 2). Both sections
therefore must be read together for they have the
same purpose and the same subject matter.
And the subject matter of both sections is the
same, namely, the non-transferability of "Agricul-
tural Land" to aliens.

FACTS:
Simeon de Guzman, an American citizen, died sometime in
1968, leaving real properties in the Philippines. His forced heirs
were his widow, private respondent Helen Meyers Guzman, and
his son, private respondent David Rey Guzman, both of whom are
also American citizens. On August 9, 1989, Helen executed a deed
74 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

of quitclaim, transferring and conveying to David Rey all her rights,


titles and interests over six parcels of land which the two of them
inherited from Simeon.
Among the said parcels of lands that is now in litigation,
situated in Bagbagum, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, containing an area of
6,695 square meters, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No
T-170514 of the Registry of Deeds of Bulacan. The quitclaim having
been registered, TCT No. T-170514 was cancelled and TCT No.
T-120259 was issued in the name of David Rey Guzman.
On February 5, 1991, David Rey Guzman sold said parcel of
land to private respondent Emiliano Cataniag, upon which TCT NO.
T-120259 was cancelled and TCT No. T-130721 (M) was issued in
the latter's name.
Petitioners, who are owners of the adjoining lot, filed a complaint
before the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, questioning
the constitutionality and validity of the two conveyances - and
claiming ownership thereto based on their right of legal redemption
under Article 1621 of the Civil Code.
In its decision dated March 10, 1992, the trial court dismissed
the complaint. It ruled that Helen Guzman's waiver of her
inheritance in favor of her son was not contrary to the constitutional
prohibition against the sale of land to an alien, since the purpose of
the waiver was simply to authorize David Rey Guzman to dispose
of their properties in accordance with the Constitution and the laws
of the Philippines, and not to subvert them. On the second issue,
it held that the subject land was urban; hence, petitioners had no
reason to invoke their right of redemption under. Article 1621 of the
Civil Code
The Hahlis sought a reversal from the CA which, however,
denied their appeal. The CA affirmed the factual finding of the trial
court that the subject land was urban citing Tejido v. Zamacoma
and Yap v. Grageda (121 SCRA 244). It further held that although
the transfer of the land to David Rey may have been invalid for being
contrary to the Constitution, there was no more point in allowing
herein petitioners to recover the property, since it has passed on to
and was thus already owned by a qualified person.
Hence, the present petition for review.
Petitioners submitted that the CA erred: (1) in affirming the
conclusion of trial court that the land in question is urban, not rural;
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(2) in denying petitioner's right of redemption under Article 1621


of the Civil Code; and (b) having considered the conveyance from
Helen Meyers to her son David illegal, in not declaring the same
null and void.

PIWTOALTO
(1) The land is urban; thus, no right of redemption. -
Whether the land in dispute is rural or urban is a factual question
which, as a rule, is not reviewable by th[e] Court. Basic and long-
settled is the doctrine that findings of fact of a trial judge, when
affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are binding upon the Supreme
Court. This admits of only few exceptions, such as when the finding
are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures;
when an inference made by the appellate court from its factual
findings is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; when there
is grave abuse of discretion in the appreciation of facts; when the
findings of the appellate court go beyond the issues of the case, run
contrary to the admissions of the parties to the case or fail to notice
certain relevant facts which, if properly considered, will justify a
different conclusion; when there is a misappreciation of facts; when
the findings of fact are conclusions without mention of the specific
evidence on which they are based, are premised on the absence of
evidence or are contradicted by evidence on record.
The instant case does not fall within any of the aforecited ex-
ceptions. In fact, the conclusion of the trial court - that the subject
property is urban land - is based on clear and convincing evidence
xxx
In view of the finding that the subject land is urban in character,
petitioners have indeed no right to invoke Article 1621 of the Civil
Code, which presupposes that the land sought to be redeemed, is
rural. The provision is clearly worded and admits of no ambiguity
in construction.
"Article 1621. The owners of adjoining lands
shall also have the right of redemption when a piece
of rural land, the area of which does not exceed one
hectare, is alienated, unless the grantee does not
own any rural land. xxx"

Under this article, both lands - that sought to be re-


deemed and the adjacent lot belonging to the person exercis-
ing the right of redemption - must be rural. If one or both
76 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

are urban, the right cannot be invoked. The purpose of this


provision, which is limited in scope to rural lands not ex-
ceeding one hectare, is to favor agricultural development.
The subject land not being rural and, therefore, not agri-
cultural, this purpose would not be served if petitioners are
granted the right of redemption under Article 1621. Plainly,
under the circumstances, they cannot invoke it.
(2) Sale to Cataniag valid. - Neither do[es] [the Court] find[s]
any reversible error in the appellate court's holding that the sale of
the subject land to Private Respondent Cataniag renders moot any
question on the constitutionality of the prior transfer made by Helen
Guzman to her son David Rey.
True, Helen Guzman's deed of quitclaim - in which she as-
signed, transferred and conveyed to David Rey all her rights, titles
and interests over the property she had inherited from her husband
- collided with the Constitution, Article XII, Section 7 of which pro-
vides:
"Section 7. Save in cases of hereditary succession,
no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except
to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to
acquire or hold lands of the public domain."
The landmark case of Krivenko v. Register of Deeds (79 Phil.
461) settled the issue as to who are qualified (and disqualified) to
own public as well as private lands in the Philippines. Following
a long discourse maintaining that the "public agricultural lands"
mentioned in Section 1, Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution, include
residential, commercial and industrial lands, the Court then state:
"Under Section 1 of Article XIII (now Section 2,
Article XII) of the Constitution, natural resources, with
the exception of public agricultural land, shall not be
alienated," and with respect to public agricultural lands,
their alienation is limited to Filipino citizens. But this
constitutional purpose conserving agricultural resources
in the hands of Filipino citizens may easily be defeated by
the Filipino citizens themselves who may alienate their
agricultural lands in favor of aliens. It is partly to prevent
this result that Section 5 is included in Article XIII, and
it reads as follows:
'Section 6. Save in cases of hereditary succes-
sion, no private agricultural land will be transferred
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or assigned except to individual, corporations or as-


sociations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the
public domain in the Philippines.'
This constitutional provision closes the only
remaining avenue through which agricultural
resources may leak into aliens' hands. It would
certainly be futile to prohibit the alienation of public
agricultural lands to aliens if, after all, they may
be freely so alienated upon their becoming private
agricultural lands in the hands of Filipino citizen.
Undoubtedly, as above indicated, Section 5
[now Section 71 is intended to insure the policy
of nationalism contained in Section 1 [now
Section 21. Both sections must, therefore, be
read together for they have the same purpose
and the same subject matter. It must be noticed
that the persons against whom the prohibition is
directed in Section 5 [now Section 7] are the very
same persons who under Section 1 [now Section
21 are disqualified 'to acquire or hold lands of the
public domain in the Philippines.' And the subject
matter of both sections is the same, namely, the non-
transferability of 'agricultural land' to aliens. x x x"
In fine, non-Filipinos cannot acquire or hold title to private
lands or to lands of the public domain, except only by way of legal
succession.
But what is the effect of a subsequent sale by the disqualified
alien vendee to a qualified Filipino citizen? This is not a novel question.
Jurisprudence is consistent that "if land is invalidly transferred to
an alien who subsequently becomes a citizen or transfers it to a
citizen, the flaw in the original transaction is considered cured and
the title of the transferee is rendered valid."
The present case is similar to De Castro v. Tan. In that case, a
residential lot was sold to a Chinese. Upon his death, his widow and
children executed an extrajudicial settlement, whereby said lot was
allotted to one of his sons who became a naturalized Filipino. The
Court did not allow the original vendor to have the sale annulled and
to recover the property, for the reason that the land has since become
the property of a naturalized Filipino citizen who is constitutionally
qualified to own land.
78 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Accordingly, since the disputed land is now owned by Private


Respondent Cataniag, a Filipino citizen, the prior invalid transfer
can no longer be assailed. The objective of the constitutional provi-
sion - to keep our land in Filipino hands - has been served.

EXAMPLE OF A CASE WHEN THE SUPREME COURT


CITED AND MADE REFERENCE TO (A) A HISTORICAL
BACKGROUND OF THE PACKAGE OF ELECTORAL
REFORMS SOUGHT TO BE ACHIEVED SINCE 1970; (B)
THE REALITIES THAT CONFRONT POOR CANDIDATES
AND THE REASON WHY THERE IS SUBSTANTIAL OR
LEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT INTEREST JUSTIFYING
EXERCISE OF THE REGULATORY POWER OF THE
COMELEC UNDER ARTICLE IX-C, SECTION 4 OF THE
CONSTITUTION.
IN THIS CASE, SOME JUSTICES MADE EXTENSIVE
CITATION AND REFERENCES TO AMERICAN JURIS-
PRUDENCE, AMERICAN LEGAL LITERATURE, AND
TO U.S. CASES ACTUALLY DECIDED (i.e., BUCKLEY
v. VALEO; AUSTIN v. MICHIGAN STATE CHAMBER OF
COMMERCE)

EMILIO M.R. OSMEA AND PABLO GARCIA


v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 132231, March 31, 1998
Political equality and ban on political adver-
tising
There is no suppression of political ads, but
only a regulation of the time and manner of adver-
tising.
There is a substantial or legitimate govern-
ment interest justifying the exercise of the regula-
tory power of the COMELEC.
COMELEC take-over of the advertising page of
newspapers on the commercial time of radio and tv
stations, and allocating those to the candidates, is
valid.
Article IX-C, Section 4, is not the only consti-
tutional provision that mandates political equal-
ity. Article XIII, Section 1, requires congress to give
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the "highest priority" to the enactment of measures


designed to reduce political inequalities. Article II,
Sec. 26, declares as a fundamental principle of our
government "equal opportunities for public service."

FACTS:
Petitioners Emilio M.R. Osmeña, candidate for President of the
Philippines, and Petitioner Pablo Garcia, candidate for governor of
Cebu, urged the re-examination of the ruling in NPC v. COMELEC
upholding the validity of Section 11(b) of RA No. 6646. They contend
that the ban on political advertising has not only failed to level the
playing field, but actually worked to the grave disadvantage of the
poor candidates by depriving them of a medium which they can
afford to pay for while their most affluent rivals can always resort to
other means of reaching votes like airplanes, boats, raffles, parades
and handbills.
Petitioners claim that the reasoning of NPC is flawed, because
it rests on the misconception that Article TX-C, Section 4, mandates
the absolute equality of all candidates regardless of financial status,
when what this provision speaks of is "equality of opportunity-"
For the foregoing reasons, petitioners filed a petition for pro-
hibition, seeking a re-examination of the validity of Section 11(b)
of RA No. 6646, the Electoral Reform Law of 1987, which prohibits
mass media from selling or giving free of charge print space or air
time for campaign or other political purposes, except to the Commis-
sion on Elections.

HELD:
The Supreme Court dismissed the petition and sustained its
ruling in NPC v. COMELEC on the following grounds:
1. There is no suppression of political ads, but only a
regulation of the time and manner of advertising. -
The term political "ad ban," when used to describe Section
11(b) of RA No. 6646, is misleading, for even as Section
11 (b)prohibits the sale or donation of print space and air
time to political candidates, it mandates the COMELEC
to procure and itself allocate to the candidates space and
time in the media.
2. The law's concern is not with the message or content of the
ad but with ensuring media equality between candidates
80 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

with "deep pockets," as Justice Feliciano called them in his


opinion of the Court in NPC, and those with less resources.
The law is part of a package of electoral reforms
adopted in 1987. Actually, similar effort was made
in 1970 to equalize the opportunity of candidates
to advertise themselves and their programs of
government by requiring the COMELEC to have a
COMELEC space in newspapers, magazines, and
periodicals and prohibiting candidates to advertise
outside such space, unless the names of all the other
candidates in the district in which the candidate is
running are mentioned "with equal prominence."
The validity of the law was challenged in Badoy,
Jr. v. COMELEC. The voting was equally divided (5-
5), however, with that result the validity of the law
was deemed upheld.
3. There is a substantial or legitimate government
interest justifying exercise of the regulatory power of
the COMELEC - There is no total ban on political ads,
much less restriction on the content of the speech. Given
the fact that print space and air time can be controlled
or dominated by rich candidates to the disadvantage
of poor candidates, there is a substantial or legitimate
governmental interest justifying exercise of the regulatory
power of the COMELEC under Article TX-C, Section 4, of
the Constitution.
The Commission may, during the election period,
supervise or regulate the enjoyment or utilization of all
franchises or permits for the operation of transportation
and other public utilities, media of communication or in-
formation, all grants, special privileges, or concessions
granted by the government or any subdivision, agency,
or instrumentality thereof, including any government-
owned or controlled corporation or its subsidiary. Such
supervision or regulation shall aim to ensure equal oppor-
tunity, time, and space and the right to reply, including
reasonable, equal rates therefor, for public information
campaigns and forums among candidates in connection
with the objective of holding free, honest, peaceful, and
credible elections.
The provisions in question involve no suppression
of political ads. They only prohibit the sale or donation
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of print space and air time to candidates but require the


COMELEC instead to procure space and time in the mass
media for allocation, free of charge, to the candidates. In
effect, during the election period, the COMELEC takes
over the advertising page of newspapers or the commercial
time of radio and TV stations and allocates these to the
candidates.
The validity of the COMELEC take over for such
temporary period cannot be doubted. In Pruneyard Shop-
ping Center v. Robbins, it was held that a court order
compelling a private shopping center to permit use of
a corner of its courtyard for the purpose of distributing
pamphlets or soliciting signatures for a petition opposing
a UN resolution was valid. The order either unreasonably
impaired the value or use of private property nor violated
the owner's right not to be compelled to express support
for any viewpoint since it can always disavow any connec-
tion with the message.
4. The validity of regulation of time, place, and
manner, under well-defined standards, is well-nigh
beyond question. - What is involved here is simply
regulation of this nature. Instead of leaving candidates
to advertise freely in the mass media, the law provides
for allocation, by the COMELEC, of print space and air
time to give all candidates equal time and space for the
purpose of ensuring "free, orderly, honest and peaceful,
and credible elections."
5. Article IX-C, Section 4, is not the only constitutional
provision that mandates political equality. - Article
XIII, Section 1, requires Congress to give the "highest
priority" to the enactment of measures designed to reduce
political inequalities. Article II, Section 26, declares
as a fundamental principle of our government "equal
opportunities for public service." Access to public office
will be denied to poor candidates if they cannot even have
access to mass media in order to reach the electorate.
6. The Court cannot grant to petitioners what the
legislature denied them. - The fact is that efforts
have been made to secure the amendment or even
repeal of Section 11(b) of RA No. 6646. No less than
five bills were filed in the Senate in the last session
82 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

of Congress for this purpose, but they all failed to


pass. Petitioners claim it was because Congress
adjourned without acting on them. But that is just
the point. Congress obviously did not see it fit to
act on the bills before it adjourned
NOTE JUSTICE FLERIDA RUTH ROMERO AND
JUSTICE ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN DISSENTED. THEIR
DISSENTING OPINIONS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

DISSENTING OPINION OF JUSTICE FLERIDA RUTH ROMERO

1. A COMELEC study disclosed that newspapers showed


biases for or against certain candidates - Not to be
overlooked is the stark truth that the media itself is partisan
In a study commissioned by the COMELEC itself to determine
whether a certain newspaper adhered to the principles of
fairness and impartiality in their reportage of the presidential
candidates in the 1992 election, the results disclosed that
newspapers showed biases for or against certain candidates.
Hence, the contention that "Section 11(b) does not cut off
the flow of media reporting opinion or commentary about
candidates, their qualifications and platforms and promises"
simply is illusory. Editorial policy will always ensure that
the unfavored ones will get minimal exposure, if at all. This
underscores the need to give candidates the freedom to
advertise, if only to counteract negative reporting with paid
advertisements which they cannot have recourse to with
the present prohibition Worse, the ban even encourages
corruption of the mass media by candidates who procure paid
hacks, masquerading as legitimate journalist, to sing them
paeans to the high heavens. Wittingly or unwittingly, the
mass media, to the detriment of poor candidates, occasionally
lend themselves to the manipulative devices of the rich and
influential candidates
2 The prohibition actually gives an unfair advantage
to those who have wide media exposure prior to the
campaign period. - While there can be no gainsaying the
laudable intent behind such an objective, the State being
mandated to guarantee equal. access to opportunities for public
service, the prohibition has the opposite effect instead of
"equalizing" the position of candidates who offer themselves for
public office the prohibition actually give an unfair advantage
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to those who have wide media exposure prior to the campaign


period. Instead of promoting the interest of the public in
general, the ban promotes the interest of a particular class or
candidates, the prominent and popular candidates for public
office. What is in store for the relatively obscure candidate who
wants to pursue is candidacy? Eager to trumpet his credentials
and program of government, he finds himself barred from
using the facilities of mass media on his own. While incumbent
government officials, show business personalities, athletes
and prominent media men enjoy the advantage of name recall
due to past public exposure, the unknown political neophyte
has to content himself with other for which, given the limited
campaign period, cannot reach the electorate as effectively as
it would through the mass media. To be sure, the candidate
may avail himself of "COMELEC Time," but the sheer number
of candidates does not make the same an effective vehicle of
communication. Not surprisingly, COMELEC Chairman Pardo,
at the Oral Argument held by the Court en banc, admitted that
no candidate has as yet applied for COMELEC air time and
space.
More telling, the celebrities are lavished with broader
coverage from newspaper, radio and television stations, as well
as via the commentaries and expressions of belief or opinion by
reporters, broadcasters, editors, commentators or columnists,
as they are deemed more newsworthy by media, thus generating
a self-perpetuating cycle wherein political unknowns, who
may be more deserving of public office, campaign in relative
obscurity compared to their more popular rivals. Instead of
equalizing opportunities for public service, the prohibition
not only perpetuates political inequality, but also invidiously
discriminates against lesser-known candidates.
3. The use of modern media gives the poor candidate the
opportunity to make himself known to the electorate at an
affordable cost. - Experience shows that the ban on political
advertisement has not been reasonably necessary to accomplish
its desired end. First, there are more than 70 provinces, more
than 60 cities and more than a thousand municipalities spread
all over the archipelago. Previous elections have shown that
the ban on political advertising forces a candidate to conduct a
nationwide whistle-stop campaign to attain maximum exposure
of his credentials and his program of government. Obviously,
this necessitates tremendous resources for sundry expenses
84 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

indispensable for political campaigns, all within a limited


period of 90 days. Given the enormous logistics needed for
such a massive effort, what are the chances for an impecunious
candidate who sincerely aspires for national office?
On the other hand, radio and television reach out to a
great majority of the populace more than other instruments of
information dissemination, being the most pervasive, effective
and inexpensive. A 30-second television advertisement, cost-
ing around p35,000.00 at present rates, would, in an instant,
reach millions of viewers around the country in the comfort
of their homes. Indeed, the use of modern mass media gives
the poor candidate the opportunity to make himself known to
the electorate at an affordable cost. Yet, these means of com-
munication are denied such candidates due to the imagined
apprehension that more affluent candidates may monopolize
the airwaves.
4. If poor and unknown candidates are declared unfit to
run for office due to their lack of logistics, the political
ad ban fails to serve its purpose, as the persons for
whom it has been primarily imposed have been shunted
aside and thus, are unable to enjoy its benefits. - To
be realistic, judicial notice must be taken on the fact that
COMELEC, in narrowing down its list of "serious" candidates,
considers in effect a candidate's capability to wage an effective
nationwide campaign which necessarily entails possession
and/or availability of substantial financial resources. Given
this requirement, the objective of equalizing rich and poor
candidates may no longer find relevance, the candidates
ultimately allowed to run being relatively equal, as far as
resources are concerned. Additionally, the disqualification of
nuisance candidates allegedly due to their inability to launch
serious campaigns, itself casts doubt on the validity of the
prohibition as a means to achieve the state policy of equalizing
access to opportunities for public service. If poor and unknown
candidates are declared unfit to run for office due to their lack
of logistics, the political ad ban fails to serve its purpose, as
the persons for whom it has been primarily imposed have been
shunted aside and thus, are unable to enjoy its benefits.
5. If it is difficult to show the number of candidates that
can be adequately accommodated by "COMELEC Space"
and 'COMELEC Time" - Past experience shows that the
COMELEC find problem in effectively informing the voting
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populace of the credentials, accomplishments, and platforms of


government of the candidates. There are 17,396 national and
local elective public positions which will be contested by an
estimated 100,000 candidates on May 11, 1998. For national
positions the list has been trimmed down to 11 candidates for
president, 9 candidates for vice-president, and 40 candidates
for senator. It is difficult to see how the number of candidates
can be adequately accommodated by "COMELEC Space" and
"COMELEC Time." Resolution No. 2983 of the COMELEC,
issued in compliance with Section 92 of B.P. 881, mandates
that at least thirty minutes of prime time be granted to the
Commission, free of charge, from February 10, 1998, until
May 9, 1998. Thirty-minutes of prime time for eighty-nine
(89) days is scarcely enough time to introduce candidates
to the voters, much less to properly inform the electorate of
the credentials and platforms of all candidates running for
national office. Let us be reminded that those running for
local elective positions will also need to use the same space of
time from March 27 to May 9, 1998, and that the COMELEC
itself is authorized to use the space and time to disseminate
vital election information clearly, "COMELEC Space" and
"COMELEC Time" sacrifices the right of the citizenry to
be sufficiently informed regarding the qualifications and
programs of the candidates. The net effect of Section 11(b) is,
thus, a violation of the people's right to be informed on matters
of public concern and makes it a palpably unreasonable
restriction on the people's right to freedom of expression. Not
only this, the failure of "COMELEC Space" and "COMELEC
Time" to adequately inform the electorate, only highlights
the unreasonableness of the means employed to achieve the
objective of equalizing opportunities for public service between
rich and poor candidates.

DISSENTING OPINION OF JUSTICE ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN


1. Actual peso calculations show that Section 11(b), RA No.
6646, is anti-poor. - The majority argues that the ad ban is
pro-poor, because it prevents the rich from buying media time
and space that the poor cannot afford or match. This argument
assumes that media advertising is expensive and, thus, beyond
the reach of the poor.
I respectfully submit that, such argument is bereft of
factual basis. True, a full-page ad in a major broadsheet may
86 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

be priced at about P100,000, a 30-second commercial in a major


television, anywhere from P15,000 to P90,000 depending on
the time and the program; while airtime of an equal duration
in a radio station, anywhere from P300 to P4,500. But even
with such price tags, media ads are necessarily expensive,
considering their nationwide reach, audience penetration,
effectiveness and persuasive value.
Realistically, expenses are involved in a candidacy for a
National Office like the Presidency, the Vice-Presidency, and
the Senate. In recognition of this, the law has limited cam-
paign expenditures to ten pesos (PlO) for every voter in the
case of candidates for president and vice-president, and three
pesos (P3) per voter in their constituencies, for other candi-
dates. Anyone - whether rich or poor - who aspires for such
national elective office must expect to spend a considerable
sum, whether of his own or from allowable donations, to make
himself and his platform of program of government known to
the voting public.
2. The prohibition is not limited in duration but is, in fact
and in truth, total, complete and exhaustive. - The ad
ban is constitutional because, according to the majority, it
is limited in duration for the reason that it is enforced only
during the election period. In my humble view and with all
due respect, this is both erroneous and illogical. A political
advertisement is relevant only during the campaign period -
not before and not after. As petitioners put it, a ban on mountain
skiing during the Winter season cannot be said to be limited
in duration, just because it is enforced during winter. After
all, skiing is indulged in only when the mountain slopes are
covered with snow. To add a further parallel, a ban against the
planting of rice during the rainy season is not limited simply
because it covers only that season. After all, nobody plants rice
during summer when the soil is parched. In the same manner,
campaign ads are not resorted to except during the campaign
period. And their prohibition does not become any less odious
and less comprehensive just because the proscription applies
only during the election season. Obviously, candidates need to
advertise their qualifications and platforms only during such
period. Properly understood, therefore, the prohibition is not
limited in duration but, is in fact and in truth, complete and
exhaustive.
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3. The best testament to the utter inutility and ineffectivity


of "COMELEC Time," is the statement of the COMELEC
Chairman that no candidate had applied for COMELEC
Time. - Finally, the majority opines that the grant of free
COMELEC media time and space to candidates more than
makes up for the abridgement of the latter's right to buy
political ads. With due respect, I believe this is hollow and
shallow.
Up to this writing, I have yet to hear of any major
candidate using this so-culled free COMJLDC broadcast time.
In fact, during the oral argument of this case on March 5, 1998,
COMELEC Chairman Bernardo P. Pardo frankly admitted
that no candidate had applied for an allocation of COMELEC
Time. Not even petitioners. This is the best statement to the
utter inutility and ineffectivity of COMELEC Time. Indeed,
it cannot be a substitute, much less a viable alternative, to
freely chosen but paid for media ads. It cannot compensate for
the violation of the candidates' right to free speech and media
access, or for the electorate's right to information

EXAMPLE OF A CASE WHEN THE SUPREME COURT


MADE REFERENCE TO THE JOURNAL AND THE
TRANSCRIPT OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOUSE
OF REPRESENTATIVES

JOKER ARROYO, et al. v. JOSE DE VENECIA, et al.,


G.R. No. 127255, June 26, 1998
There is no need for petitioners to invoke the
power of the Court under Article VIII, Section 1 of
the Constitution to determine whether, in enacting
RA No. 8240, the House of Representatives acted
with grave abuse of discretion, since that it is what
we have precisely done, although the result of our
review may not be what petitioners want. It should
be added that, even if petitioners' allegations are
true, the disregard of the rules in this case would not
affect the validity of RA No. 8240, the rules allegedly
violated being merely internal rules of procedure of
the House rather than constitutional requirements
for the enactment of laws. It is well-settled that a
legislative act will not be declared invalid for non-
compliance with internal rules.
88 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

FACTS:
Majority Floor Leader Representative Rodolfo Albano was
then moving for the approval of the conference committee report on
the bill that became RA No. 8240, which led the Chair, then Deputy
Speaker Raul Daza, to ask if there was any objection to the motion,
and Representative Joker P. Arroyo asked: "What is that Mr.
Speaker?" The Chair allegedly ignored him and instead declared
the report approved. Petitioners claim that the question "What is
that Mr. Speaker" was a privileged question or a point of order that,
under the rules of the House, has precedence over other matters,
with the exception to motion to adjourn.

ISSUE:
Is the said contention of Rep. Arroyo valid and meritorious?

HELD:
The contention has no merit. Representative Arroyo did not
have the floor. Without first drawing the attention of the Chair,
he simply stood up and started talking. As a result, the Chair did
not hear him and proceeded to ask if there were objections to the
Majority Leader's motion. Hearing none, he declared the report
approved. Rule XVI, Section 96 of the Rules of the House of
Representatives provides:
"Section 96. Manner of Addressing the Chair.
- When a member desires to speak, he shall rise
and respectfully address the Chair "Mr. Speaker."

Indeed, the transcript of the proceedings of November


21, 1996 shows that after complaining that he was being
"hurried" by the Majority Leader to finish his interpellation
of the sponsor (Rep. Javier) of the conference committee re-
port, Representative Arroyo concluded and then sat down.
However, when the Majority Leader moved for the approval
of the conference committee report and the Chair asked if
there was any objection to the motion, Rep. Arroyo stood
up again and, without requesting to be recognized, asked,
"What is that, Mr. Speaker?" Apparently, the Chair did not
hear Rep. Arroyo since his attention was on the Majority
Leader. Thus, he proceeded to ask if there was any objec-
tion and, hearing none, declared the report approved and
brought down the gavel. At that point, Rep. Arroyo shouted,
"No, no, no, wait a minute," and asked what the question
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was. Only after he had been told that the Chair had called for
objection to the motion for approval of the report did Rep.
Arroyo register his objection. It is not, therefore, true that
Rep. Arroyo was ignored. He was simply not heard because
he had not first obtained recognition from the Chair.
Nor is it correct to say that the question ("What is that, Mr.
Speaker?") he was raising was a question of privilege or a point of
order.
At all events, Rep. Arroyo could have asked for a reconsideration
of the ruling of the Chair declaring the conference committee report
approved. It is not true that he was prevented from doing so. The
session was suspended, obviously to settle the matter amicably.
From all appearances, the misunderstanding was patched up
during the nearly hour-long suspension because, after the session
was resumed, Rep. Arroyo did not say anything anymore. As the
Journal of November 21, 1996 of the House shows, the session
was thereafter adjourned.
On the same day, the bill was signed by the Speaker of the
House and the President of the Senate, and certified by the respective
secretaries of both houses of Congress as having been finally passed.
The following day, the bill was signed into law by the President of
the Philippines.
Petitioners take exception to the following statement in the
decision that "The question of quorum cannot be raised repeatedly
especially when the quorum is obviously present for the purpose of
delaying the business of the House." They contend that, following
this ruling, even if only 10 members of the House remain in the ses-
sion hall because the others have gone home, the quorum may not
be questioned.
That was not the situation in this case, however. As noted
in the decision, at 11:48 A.M. on November 21, 1996, Rep. Arroyo
questioned the existence of a quorum, but after the roll call, it was
found that there was none. After that, he announced he would
again, question the quorum, apparently to delay the voting on the
conference report. Hence, the statement in the decision that the
question of quorum cannot repeatedly be raised for the purpose of
delaying the business of the House.
In sum, there is no basis for the charge that the approval of the
conference committee report on what later became RA No. 8240 was
railroaded through the House of Representatives. Nor is there any
90 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

need for petitioners to invoke the power of this Court under Article
VIII, Section 1 of the Constitution to determine whether, in enacting
RA No. 8240, the House of Representatives acted with grave abuse
of discretion, since that it is what we have precisely done, although
the result of our review may not be what petitioners want. It should
be added that, even if petitioners' allegations are true, the disregard
of the rules in this case would not affect the validity of RA No.
8240, the rules allegedly violated being merely internal rules of
procedure of the House rather than constitutional requirements for
the enactment of laws. It is well-settled that a legislative act will not
be declared invalid for non-compliance with internal rules.

EXAMPLE OF A CASE WHEN THE SUPREME COURT


RESORTED TO THE PROPER INTERPRETATION OF
CERTAIN PROVISIONS IN THE 1987 CONSTITUTION
NOTABLY SECTION 1 OF ARTICLE II AND SECTION 8 OF
ARTICLE VII, AND THE ALLOCATION OF GOVERNMENTAL
POWERS UNDER SECTION 11 OF ARTICLE VII.
THE SUPREME COURT ALSO CONSIDERED THE CONTEM-
PORANEOUS AND POSTERIOR FACTS AND CIRCUMSTAN-
TIAL EVIDENCE INVOLVED IN THE CASE AND INTERPRET-
ED THE SAME AS A JUSTIFICATION TO THE TOTALITY
TEST PRINCIPLE.
THE SUPREME COURT SAID: "AS EARLYAS THE 1803 CASE
OF MARBURY v. MADISON, THE DOCTRINE HAS BEEN
LAID DOWN THAT "IT IS EMPHATICALLY THE PROVINCE
AND DUTY OF THE JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT TO SAY WHAT
THE LAW IS. . - THUS. RESPONDENT'S INVOCATION OF
THE DOCTRINE OF POLITICAL QUESTION IS BUT A FORAY
IN THE DARK." (Underscoring supplied)

CELEBRATED CASE IN 2001


JOSEPH ESTRADA v. ANIANO DESIERTO,
IN HIS CAPACITY AS OMBUDSMAN, et al.,
G.R. Nos. 146710-15
March 2, 2001

FACTS:
On October 4, 2000, Ilocos Sur Governor Luis "Chavit" Singson,
a long time friend of the petitioner, went on air and accused the
petitioner, his family and friends of receiving millions of pesos from
jueteng lords. The next day, then Senate Minority Leader Teofisto
CHAPTER II 91
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Guingona delivered a fiery privilege speech. He accused the petitioner


of receiving some P220 million in jueteng money from Governor
Singson from November 1998 to August 2000. He also charged that
petitioner took from Governor Singson P70 million on excise tax on
cigarettes intended for Ilocos Sur. The House of Representatives
conducted its own investigation. The House Committee on Public
Order and Security, then headed by Representative Roilo Goilez,
decided to investigate the exposé of Governor Singson. On the other
hand, Representatives Heherson Alvarez, Ernesto Hererra and
Michael Defensor spearheaded the move to impeach the petitioner.
On October 12, then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
resigned as Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and
Development and later asked for petitioner's resignation. However,
petitioner strenuously held on to his office and refused to resign.
On November 13, House Speaker Vifiar transmitted the Ar-
ticles of Impeachment signed by 115 representatives, or more than
1/3 of all the members of the House of Representatives to the Senate.
On December 7, 2000, the impeachment trial started. Several
witnesses were presented by the prosecution, but it was Clarissa
Ocampo and Secretary Edgardo Espiritu who delivered the most
serious accusations Clarissa Ocampo testified that she was one foot
away from petitioner Estrada when he affixed the signature "Jose
Velarde" on account documents involving a P500 million investment
agreement with their bank on February 4, 2000
Secretary Espiritu alleged that the petitioner jointly owned
BW Resources Corporation with Mr. Dante Tan who was facing
charges of insider trading.
On January 16, 2001, on a vote of 11-10 (Those who voted 'yes"
to open the envelope were: Senators Pimentel, Guingona, Drilon,
Cayetano, Roco, Legarda, Magsaysay, Flavier, Blazon, Osmeña III.
Those who voted "no" were Senators Ople, Defensor-Santiago, John
Osmefla, Aquino-Oreta, Coseteng, Enrile, Honasan, Jaworski, Revil-
la, Sotto III, and Tatad) the senator-judges ruled against the open-
ing of the second envelope which allegedly contained evidence show-
ing that petitioner held P3.3 billion in a secret bank account under
the name "Jose Velarde' The public and private prosecutors walked
out in protest of the ruling.
On January 17, the public prosecutors submitted a letter to
Speaker Fuentebella tendering their collective resignation. They
also filed their manifestation of Withdrawal of Appearance with the
impeachment tribunal.
92 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

On January 18, 2001, a 10-kilometer line of people holding


lighted candles formed a human chain from the Ninoy Aquino
Monument on Ayala Avenue in Makati City to the EDSA Shrine
to symbolize the people's solidarity in demanding petitioner's
resignation. This attracted more and more people. Thereafter, there
was a resignation by some cabinet secretaries, undersecretaries,
and assistant secretaries and bureau chiefs. To stem the tide of
rage, petitioner announced he was ordering his lawyers to agree to
the opening of the highly controversial second envelope. There was
no turning back the tide. The tide had become a tsunami.
On January 20, at about 12:00 noon, Chief Justice Davide
administered the oath to respondent Arroyo as President of the
Philippines. At 2:30 P.M., petitioner and his family hurriedly left
Malacañang Palace. He issued the following press statement:

"20 January 2001

Statement from
President Joseph Ejercito Estrada
At twelve o'clock noon today, Vice-President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo took her oath as President of the Re-
public of the Philippines, while along with many other le-
gal minds of our country, I have strong and serious doubts
about the legality and constitutionality of her proclama-
tion as President, I do not wish to be a factor that will pre-
vent the restoration of unity and order in our civil society.
It is for this reason that I now leave Malacañang
Palace, the seat of the presidency of this country, for the
sake of peace and in order to begin the healing process of
our nation. I leave the Palace of our people with gratitude
for the opportunities given to me for service to our people.
I will not shirk from any future challenges that may come
ahead in the same service of our country.
I call on all my supporters and followers to join
me in the promotion of a constructive national spirit of
reconciliation and solidarity.
May the Almighty bless our country and beloved
people.
MABUHAY!
(Sgd.) JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA"
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It also appears that on the same day, January 20, 2001, he


signed the following letter:

"Sir:
By virtue of the provisions of Section 11, Article VII of
the Constitution, lam hereby transmitting this declaration
that I am unable to exercise the powers and duties of my
office. By operation of law and the Constitution, the Vice-
President shall be the Acting President.

(Sgd.) JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRAJJA"

On the same day, January 20, he signed the following letter


and sent the same to former Speaker Fuentebella at 8:30 A.M.
Another copy was transmitted to Senate President Pimentel on the
same day although it was received only at 9:00 P.M.
On January 22, respondent Arroyo immediately discharged the
powers and duties of the Presidency. On the same day, this Court
issued the following Resolution in Administrative Matter No. 01-1-
05 SC, to wit:

'A.M. No. 01-1-05-SC - In re: Request of Vice


President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to Take her Oath
of Office as President of the Republic of the Philippines
before Chief Justice - Acting on the urgent request of
Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to be sworn in
as President of the Republic of the Philippines, addressed
to the Chief Justice and confirmed by a letter to the Court,
dated January 20, 2001, which request was treated as an
administrative matter, the court Resolved unanimously to
confirm the authority given by the twelve (12) members
of the Court then present to the Chief Justice on January
20, 2001 to administer the oath of office to Vice President
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President of the Philippines,
at noon of January 20, 2001.
This resolution is without prejudice to the disposi-
tion of any justiciable case that may be filed by a proper
party."

From day to day after this, respondent Arroyo attended official


functions.
94 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

On February 7, the Senate passed Resolution No. 83 declaring


that the impeachment court isfunctus officio and has been terminated.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago stated "for the record" that she
voted against the closure of the impeachment court on the grounds
that the Senate had failed to decide on the impeachment case and
that the resolution left open the question of whether Estrada was
still qualified to run for another elective post.
After his fall from the pedestal of power, the petitioner's legal
problems appeared in clusters. Several cases previously filed against
him in the Office of the Ombudsman were set in motion.
A special panel of investigators was forthwith created by the
respondent Ombudsman to investigate the charges against the
petitioner. Thus, the stage for the cases at bar was set. On February
5, petitioner filed with th[e] Court G.R. No. 146710-15, a petition
for prohibition with a prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction. It
sought to enjoin the respondent Ombudsman from "conducting any
further proceedings in Case Nos. OMB 0-00-1629, 1754, 1755, 1756,
1757, and 1758 or in any other criminal complaint that may be filed
in his office, until after the term of petitioner as President is over
and only if legally warranted." He prayed for judgment "confirming
petitioner to be the lawful and incumbent President of the Republic
of the Philippines temporarily unable to discharge the duties of his
office, and declaring respondent to have taken her oath as and to
be holding the Office of the President, only in an acting capacity
pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution."

ISSUES:
1. Whether the petitions present a justiciable controversy.
2. Assuming that the petitions present a justiciable contro-
versy, whether petitioner Estrada is a President on leave
while respondent Arroyo is an Acting President.
3. Whether conviction in the impeachment proceedings
is a condition precedent for the criminal prosecution of
petitioner Estrada. In the negative and on the assumption
that petitioner is still President, whether he is immune
from criminal prosecution.
4. Whether the prosecution of petitioner Estrada should be
enjoined on the ground of prejudicial publicity.
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HELD:
1. WHETHER THE CASES AT BAR INVOLVE A
POLITICAL QUESTION - Petitioner's claim that respondent
Arroyo ascended the presidency through people power; that she
has already taken her oath as the 14th President of the Republic;
that she has exercised the powers of the presidency and that she
has been recognized by foreign governments. All these, constitute
"the political ticket which the Court cannot enter." This claim is not
applicable and the Supreme Court said
x x Needless to state, the cases at bar pose legal and
not political questions. The principal issues for resolution re-
auire the proper interpretation of certain provisions in the
1987 Constitution, notably Section 1 of Article II. and Section
8 of Article VII. and the allocation of governmental powers un-
der Section 11 of Articile VII. The issues likewise call for a
ruling on the scope of presidential immunity from suit.
They also involve the correct calibration of the right of
petitioner against prejudicial publicity." As early as the
1803 case of Marbury v Madison, the doctrine has been
laid down that "it is emphatically the province and duty
of the judicial department to say what the law is
Thus, respondent's invocation of the doctrine of politi-
cal question is but a foray in the dark. (Emphasis and Un-
derscoring supplied)
2. WHETHER THE PETITIONER RESIGNED AS PRE-
SIDENT - Petitioner denies he resigned as President or that he
suffers from a permanent disability. Hence, he submits that the Of-
fice of the President was not vacant when respondent Arroyo took
her oath as President. The Supreme Court rejected this claim and
said:
"x x x In the cases at bar, the facts show that petitioner
did not write any formal letter of resignation before he evacu-
ated Malacanang Palace in the afternoon of January 20, 2001,
after the oath-taking of respondent Arroyo. Consequently,
whether or not petitioner resigned has to be determined from
his acts and omissions before, during and after January 20
2001, or by the totality of prior, contemporaneous and posterior
facts and circumstantial evidence bearing a material relevance
on the issue.
Using the totality test, [the Court] hold[s] that petitioner
resigned as President."
96 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

These contemporaneous and posterior facts and circumstantial


evidence are as follows:
The proposal for a snap election for president in May
where he would not be candidate is an indicium that
petitioner had intended to give up the presidency even at
that time.
2. The petitioner expressed no objection to the suggestion
for a graceful and dignified exit but said he would never
leave the country.
3. Again, [the Court] note [s] that the resignation of
petitioner was not a disputed point. The petitioner cannot
feign ignorance of this fact.
4. The second round of negotiation cements the reading that
the petitioner has resigned. It will be noted that during
this second round of negotiation, the resignation of the
petitioner was again treated as a given fact. The only
unsettled points at that time were the measures to be
undertaken by the parties during and after the transition
period.
5. In sum. [the Court] hold[s] that the resignation of the
petitioner cannot be doubted. It was confirmed by his
leaving Malacaflang. In the press release containing his
final statement, (1) he acknowledged the oath-taking of
the respondent as President of the Republic albeit with
reservation about its legality; (2) he emphasized he was
leaving the Palace, the seat of the presidency, for the sake
of peace and in order to begin the healing process of our
nation. He did not say he was leaving the Palace due to
any kind of inability and that he was going to re-assume
the presidency as soon as the disability disappears; (3) he
expressed his gratitude to the people for the opportunity
to serve them. Without doubt, he was referring to the past
opportunity given him to serve the people as President;
(4) he assured that he will not shirk from any future
challenge that may come ahead in the same service of
our country. Petitioner's reference is to a future challenge
after occupying the office of the president which he has
given up; and (5) he called on his supporters to join
him in the promotion of a constructive national spirit
of reconciliation and solidarity. Certainly, the national
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spirit of reconciliation and solidarity could not be attained


if he did not give up the presidency. The press release
was petitioner's valedictory, his final act of farewell. His
presidency is now in the past tense.
The Supreme Court concluded: "Certainly, the national spirit
of reconciliation and solidarity cannot be attained if he will not give
up the presidency."
3. WHETHER THE PETITIONER IS ONLY TEMPO-
RARILY UNABLE TO ACT AS PRESIDENT - Petitioner pos-
tulates that respondent Arroyo as Vice-President has no power to
adjudge the inability of the petitioner to discharge the powers and
duties of the presidency. His significant submittal is that "Congress
has the ultimate authority under the Constitution to determine
whether the President is incapable of performing his functions in
the manner provided for in Section 11 of Article VTI." This conten-
tion is the centerpiece of petitioner's stance that he is a President on
leave and respondent Arroyo is only an Acting President.
The Supreme Court rejected this claim and ruled:
Despite the lapse of time and still without any functioning
Cabinet, without any recognition from any sector of government,
and without any support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines
and the Philippine National Police, the petitioner continues to claim
that his inability to govern is only momentary.
What leaps to the eye from these irrefutable facts is that
both houses of Congress have recognized respondent Arroyo as the
President. Implicitly clear in that recognition is the premise that the
inability of petitioner Estrada is no longer temporary. Congress has
clearly rejected petitioner's claim of inability.
In fine, even if the petitioner can prove that he did not resign.
still? he cannot successfully claim that he is a President on leave
on the ground that he is merely unable to govern temnorarily.
That claim has been laid to rest by Congress and the decision that
respondent Arroyo is the de lure President made by a co-equal
branch of government cannot be reviewed by th[e] Court.
4. WHETHER THE PETITIONER ENJOYS IMMUNITY
FROM SUIT: ASSUMING HE ENJOYS IMMUNITY, WHAT IS
THE EXTENT OF THE IMMUNITY - (1) Petitioner makes two
submissions: first, the cases filed against him before the respondent
Ombudsman should be prohibited because he has not been convicted
1
98 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

in the impeachment proceedings against him; and second, he enjoys


immunity from all kinds of suit, whether criminal or civil.
The Supreme Court held that "When the 1987 Constitution
was crafted, its framers did not reenact the executive immunity
provision of the 1973 Constitution."
(2) [The Court] rejectis] his argument that he cannot be
prosecuted for the reason that he must first be convicted in the
impeachment proceedings. Since the Imreachment Court is now
functus officio. it is untenable for petitioner to demand that he
should first be impeached and then convicted before he can be
prosecuted. The plea if granted, would put a perpetual bar against
his prosecution. Such a submission has nothing to commend itself
for it will place him in a better situation than a non-sitting President
who has not been subjected to impeachment proceedings and yet can
be the object of a criminal prosecution.
What is the scope of immunity that can be claimed by petitioner
as a non-sitting President? The cases filed against petitioner Estrada
are criminal in character. They involve plunder, bribery, and graft
and corruption. By no stretch of the imagination can these crimes,
especially plunder that carries the death penalty, be covered by the
alleged mantle of immunity of a non-sitting president. Petitioner
cannot cite any decision of th[e] Court licensing the President to
commit criminal acts and wrapping him with post-tenure immunity
from liability. It will be anomalous to hold that immunity is an
inoculation from liability for unlawful acts and omissions. The rule
is that unlawful acts of public officials are not acts of the State and
the officer who acts illegally is not acting as such but stands in the
same footing as any other trespasser.
There are more reasons not to be sympathetic to appeals to
stretch the scope of executive immunity in our jurisdiction. One of
the great themes of the 1987 Constitution is that a public office is a
public trust.
Among others the issues related to the subject of statutory
construction are the following:
1. The claim that respondent Arroyo ascended the presidency
through people power; that she has already taken her
oath as the 14th President of the Republic; that she has
exercised the powers of Presidency and she has been
recognized by foreign governments, are matters which,
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according to the Supreme Court, "the political ticket


which the court cannot enter." The Supreme Court said:
"x x x Needless to state, the cases at bar pose legal
and not political questions. The principal issues for
resolution require the proper interpretation of
certain provisions in the 1987 Constitution. notably
Section 1 of Article IL, and Section 8 of Article VII.
and the allocation of governmental powers under
Section 11 of Article VII. The issues likewise call for
a ruling on the scope of presidential immunity from suit.
They also involve the correct calibration of the right of
petitioner against prejudicial publicity. As early as the
1803 case of Marbury v. Madison the doctrine has
been laid down that "it is emphatically the province
and duty of the judicial department to say what the
law is x x x Thus, respondent's invocation of the
doctrine of political question is but a foray in the
dark." (Emphasis and Underscoring supplied)

This case is also an example where the Supreme Court took into
consideration the contemporaneous circumstances that preceded
before former President Joseph Estrada left Malacanang Palace
on June 20, 2001, as well as the posterior facts and circumstantial
evidence that led it to conclude that:
President Joseph Estrada resigned; and
2. The national spirit of reconciliations and solidarity cannot
be attained if he will not give up the presidency.

SIMON B. ALDOVINO, JR., DANILO B. FALLER AND


FERDINAND N. TALABONG
V.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND WILFREDO F. ASILO
G.R. No. 184836, December 23, 2009

Strict adherence to the intent of the three-term limit rule


demands that preventive suspension should not be considered
an interruption that allows an elective official's stay in office
beyond three terms. The best indicator of the suspended
official's continuity in office is the absence of a permanent
replacement and the lack of the authority to appoint one
since no vacancy exists.
100 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

FACTS:
Wilfredo Asilo was elected councilor of Lucena City for three
consecutive terms: 1998-2001, 2001-2004, and 2004-2007 terms, re-
spectively. During his third term of office, on September 2005, the
Sandiganbayan preventively suspended him for 90 days in relation
with a criminal case he then faced. The Supreme Court, however,
subsequently lifted the suspension order; hence, he resumed per-
forming the functions of his office and finished his term.
In the 2007 election, he filed his Certificate of Candidacy (CO C)
for the same position. The petitioners sought to deny due course to
his COC or to cancel it on the ground that it would violate the three-
term limit rule under Section 8, Article X of the Constitution and
Section 43(b) of BA No. 7160.
The COMELEC's Second Division ruled against the petitioners.
Subsequent motion for reconsideration was also denied.

ISSUE:
Whether the preventive suspension of an elected public official
is an interruption of his term of office for purposes of the three-term
limit rule under Section 8, Article X of the Constitution and Section
43(b) of RA No. 7160.

HELD:
No. Preventive suspension, by its nature, does not involve an
effective interruption of a term and should therefore not be a reason
to avoid the three-term limitation.
Section 8, Article X of the Constitution states:
Section 8. The term of office of elective local officials,
except barangay officials, which shall be determined by
law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve
for more than three consecutive terms. Voluntary renun-
ciation of the office for any length of time shall not be con-
sidered as an interruption in the continuity of his service
for the full term for which he was elected.

Section 43(b) of RA No. 7160 practically repeats the constitu-


tional provision, and any differnnen in wording does not ssumo any
significance in this case.
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As worded, the constitutional provision fixes the term of a local


elective office and limits an elective official's stay in office to no more
than three consecutive terms. This is the first branch of the rule
embodied in Section 8, Article X.
Significantly, this provision refers to a "term" as a period of
time - three years - during which an official has title to office and
can serve.
The second branch relates to the provision's express initiative
to prevent any circumvention of the limitation through voluntary
severance of ties with the public office; it expressly states that
voluntary renunciation of office "shall not be considered as an
interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which
he was elected." This declaration complements the term limitation
mandated by the first branch.
Notably in all cases of preventive suspension, the suspended
official is barred from performing the functions of his office and does
not receive salary in the meanwhile, but does not vacate and lose
title to his office; loss of office is a consequence that only results upon
an eventual finding of guilt or liability.
Thus, while a temporary incapacity in the exercise of power
results, no position is vacated when a public official is preventively
suspended. This was what exactly happened to Asio.
Strict adherence to the intent of the three-term limit rule
demands that preventive suspension should not be considered an
interruption that allows an elective official's stay in office beyond
three terms. A preventive suspension cannot simply be a term
interruption because the suspended official continues to stay in office
although he is barred from exercising the functions and prerogatives
of the office within the suspension period. The best indicator of the
suspended official's continuity in office is the absence of a permanent
replacement and the lack of the authority to appoint one since no
vacancy exists.

Old Case:

SOCRATES v. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND


HAGEDORN
G.R. Nos. 155083-84, October 16, 2002
The established rule is that the winner in the
recall election cannot be charged or credited with
102 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

the full term of three years for purposes of counting


the consecutiveness of an elective official's term.
Interpretation of the three-term limit.

FACTS:
Petitioner contested respondent's proclamation of private re-
spondent's victory in the recall election and its discretion in uphold-
ing the latter's qualification to run for mayor in the said election on
the ground that the same has served for three consecutive terms
prior to the contested recall election, and as such, he is constitution-
ally and statutorily prohibited from running for the same office for
the fourth time and consequently, cannot be proclaimed the winner
and serve a fourth consecutive term for the same position he has
held before.

ISSUES:
a) Whether private respondent's victory in the recall election
constitutes a "fourth term" as contemplated by law.
b) Whether private respondent was qualified to run for
mayor in contested recall election.

HELD:
1. No. What the Constitution prohibits is an immediate re-
election for a fourth term following three consecutive terms. The
debates in the Constitutional Commission evidently show that the
prohibited election referred to by the framers of the Constitution
is the immediate reelection after the third term, not any other
subsequent election.
2. From the end of his third term in June 30, 2001 until
September 24, 2002, Hagedorn was simply a private citizen. His
new recall term from September 24, 2002 until June 30, 2004 is not
a seamless continuation of his previous three consecutive terms as
mayor. One cannot stitch together Hagedorn's previous three terms
with his new recall term to make the recall term a fourth consecutive
term because factually it is not. An involuntary interruption
occurred from June 30, 2001 to September 24, 2002, which broke
the continuity or consecutive character of his service as mayor. The
established rule is that the winner in the recall election cannot be
charged or credited with the full term of three years for purposes of
counting the consecutiveness of an elective official's term.
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In Lonzanida v. COMELEC (311 SCRA 602), the Court had


occasion to explain interruption of continuity of service in this man-
ner:
"x x x the second sentence of the constitutional
provision under scrutiny states, "Voluntary renunciation
of office for any length of time shall not be considered as an
interruption in the continuity of service for the full term
of which he was elected." The clear intent of the framers
of the constitution to bar any attempt to circumvent the
three-term limit by a voluntary renunciation of office and
at the same time respect the people's choice and grant
their elected official full service of a term is evident in
this provision. Voluntary renunciation of a term does not
cancel the renounced term in the computation of the three
term limit; conversely, involuntary severance from office
for any length of time short of the full term provided by
law amounts to an interruption of continuity of service.
x x x" (Underscoring supplied)
In Hagedorn's case, the nearly 15-month period he
was out of office, although short of a full term of three
years, constituted an interruption in the continuity of his
service as mayor. The Constitution does not require the
interruption or hiatus to be a full term of three years. The
clear intent is that the interruption "for any length
of time," as long as the cause is involuntary, is suffi-
cient to break an elective local official's continuity
of service.

EXAMPLE OF CASES WHEN THE SUPREME COURT


CONSIDERED THE CONTEMPORANEOUS CIRCUMSTANCES
AFFECTING BOTH THE EMPLOYER AND THE EMPLOYEE;
THE REASON BEHIND THE LABOR POLICY OF SUSTAINING
THE VALIDITY OF THE DISMISSAL OF AN EMPLOYEE FOR
JUST CAUSE BUT ORDERING THE EMPLOYER TO PAY
DAMAGES FOR FAILURE TO OBSERVE DUE PROCESS.

BACKGROUND OF RULES AND JURISPRUDENCE IN


CASE OF TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT

RULE PRIOR TO 1989


Dismissal or termination was illegal if the employee was not
given any notice.
104 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

The rule that was then consistently followed is the principle of


"TWIN REQUIREMENTS OF DUE PROCESS" which refers to
substantive and procedural due process.
In accordance with this principle, two (2) requisites must
concur namely:
(1) Dismissal must be for any of the causes provided under
Article 282 of the Labor Code; and
(2) The employee must be accorded due process, the elements
of which are notice and the opportunity to be heard and to
defend himself. (Austria v. NLRC, et al., G.R. No. 124382,
August 16, 1999; Pizza Hut/Progressive Development
Corporation v. NLRC, et al., 252 SCRA 531 [19961)

THIS RULE WAS REVERSED IN WENPHIL CORP. v. NLRC


G.R. NO. 80587, FEBRUARY 8, 1989, 170 SCRA 69
In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that where the employer
had a valid reason to dismiss an employee but did not follow the
notice or due process requirement, THE DISMISSAL MAY BE
UPHELD BUT, THE EMPLOYER SHALL BE PENALIZED TO
PAY AN INDEMNITY TO THE EMPLOYEE.

THE WENPHIL DOCTRINE WAS CHANGED


IN RUBEN SERRANO v. NLRC, etal.,
G.R. No. 117040, JANUARY 27, 2000
In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that while the violation
by the employer of the notice requirement in termination for just
and authorized causes was not a denial of the due process that will
nullify the termination. THE DISMISSAL IS INEFFECTUAL
AND THE EMPLOYER MUST PAY FULL BACKWAGES FROM
THE TIME OF TERMINATION UNTIL IT IS JUDICIALY
DECLARED THAT THE DISMISSAL WAS NOT FOR JUST
AND AUTHORIZED CAUSE.
THE DOCTRINE IN SERRANO WAS REVISITED BY THE
SUPREME COURT IN 2004 IN THE CASE OF JENNY AGABON,
et al., v. NLRC, et al., G.R. No. 158693, NOVEMBER 17, 2004
In this case, the Supreme Court, voting 8-6, came to the con-
clusion that in cases involving dismissals for cause but without ob-
servance of the twin requirements of notice and hearing, the better
rule is to abandon the Serrano doctrine and to follow Wenphil by
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holding that the dismissal was for just cause but imposing sanctions
on the employer, which sanctions, however, must be stiffer than the
P1,000.00 imposed on Wenphil.
In the Agabon case, the Supreme Court held that the violation
of the right of petitioners Jenny M. Agabon and Virgilio C. Agabon
to statutory due process by the private respondent Riviera Home
Improvements, Inc., as their employer, warrants the payment of
indemnity in the form of nominal damages, the amount of which,
according to the Supreme Court, is addressed to the sound discre-
tioii of the co1rt 7 takiriB into acconnit the relevant circiimstanices.

Considering the prevailing circumstances in the Agabon case, the


Supreme Court ordered private respondent Riviera Home Improve-
ments, Inc., as employer, to pay each of the Agabon petitioners the
amount of P30,000.00 as nominal damages for non-compliance with
statutory due process. The Agabon ruling has been cited with favor
and applied in the subsequent decisions of the Supreme Court in
Benedicto A. Cajucom, VII v. TPI Philippines Cement Corporation,
et al. (G.R. No. 149090; Third Division) promulgated on February
11, 2005; in Bernardino A. Caingat v. National Labor Relations
Commission, et al. (G.R. No. 154308; First Division) promulgated on
March 10, 2005; and in Dennis A. Chua u. National Labor Relations
Commission, et al. (G.R. No. 146780; Second Division) promulgated
on March 11, 2005.

WENPHIL CORPORATION v. NLRC, et al.,


G.R. No. 80587, February 8, 1989

FACTS:
A had an altercation with B, and for which they were suspended
on the following day. In the afternoon of the same day, A was advised,
through a memorandum issued by the Operations Manager, about
his dismissal from the service in accordance with their personnel
manual. The formal notice of dismissal was served to him four days
later. A is an employee of the company for about one (1) year and five
(5) months at the time of his dismissal.
A filed a complaint for illegal dismissal but the same was
dismissed by the labor arbiter for lack of merit. The said decision,
however, was set aside by the NLRC which ordered Xs reinstatement
to his former position with one year back wages without qualification
and deduction.

The employer filed a petition for certiorari.


106 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

HELD:
The failure of the petitioner to give private respondent the ben-
efit of a hearing before he was dismissed constitutes an infringe-
ment of his constitutional right to due process of law and equal pro-
tection of the laws. The standards of due process in judicial as well
as administrative proceedings have long been established. In its
bare minimum due process of law simply means giving notice and
opportunity to be heard before judgment is rendered.
The claim of petitioner that a formal investigation was not
necessary because the incident which gave rise to the termination
of private respondent was witnessed by his co-employees and
supervisors is without merit. The basic requirement of due process
is that which hears before it condemns, which proceeds upon inquiry
and renders judgment only after trial.
The Court holds that the policy of ordering the reinstatement
to the service of an employee without the loss of seniority and the
payment of his wages during the period of his separation until his
actual reinstatement but not exceeding three (3) years without
qualification or deduction, when it appears that he was not afforded
due process, although his dismissal was found to be for just and
authorized cause in an appropriate proceeding in the Department
of Labor and Employment should be re-examined. It will be highly
prejudicial to the interests of the employer to impose on him the
services of an employee who has been shown to be guilty of the
charges that warranted his dismissal from employment. Indeed,
it will demoralize the rank and ifie if the undeserving, if not
undesirable, remains in the service.
In the instant case, the private respondent appears to be of
violent temper. He caused trouble during office hours and defied his
superiors as they tried to pacify him. He should not be rewarded with
re-employment and back wages. Reason: It may encourage him to
do even worse and will render a mockery of the rules of discipline
that employees are required to observe. Under the circumstances,
the dismissal of the private respondent for just cause should be
maintained. He has no right to return to his former employment.
However, the petitioner must nevertheless be held to account for
failure to extend to private respondent his right to an investigation
before causing his dismissal. The dismissal of an employee
must be for just or authorized cause and after due process.
Petitioner committed an infraction of the second requirement. Thus,
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it must be imposed a sanction for its failure to give a formal notice


and conduct an investigation as required by law before dismissing
petitioner from employment. Considering the circumstances of this
case petitioner must indemnify the private respondent the amount
of P1,000.00. The measure of this award depends on the facts of each
case and the gravity of the omission committed by the employer.

RUBEN SERRANO v.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION
AND ISETANN DEPARTMENT STORE
G.R. No. 117040, January 27, 2000
FACTS:
Petitioner was a contractual employee in 1984. He became a
regular employee in 1985. He became head of the security checker
of private respondent in 1988. Sometime on October 11, 1991, Is-
etann phased out its security section and engaged the services of an
independent security agency. Consequently, Isetann wrote a memo-
randum to petitioner terminating his services on the very day that
said paper was given to him. Hence, petitioner filed a complaint for
illegal dismissal.
The Labor Arbiter ruled that petitioner was illegally dismissed.
However, the NLRC reversed the decision of the arbiter and
ordered that petitioner be given separation pay, unpaid salary and
proportionate 13th month pay. Subsequently, a petition was filed to
raise the issue of the validity of the cause of petitioner's dismissal.
HELD:
It was part of management's prerogative to avoid redundancy.
However, there was an extended discussion on the notice require-
ment. While the court has agreed that the Wenphil Doctrine ought
to be abandoned, the members of the court are not unanimous on the
issue of the applicability of the due process clause to the situation.
Not all notice requirements are requirements of due process.
Some are simply part of a procedure to be followed before a right
granted to a party can be exercised. Others are simply an application
of the Justinian precept, embodied in the Civil Code, to act with
justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith
toward one's fellowmen. Such is the notice requirement in Arts.
282-283. The consequence of the failure either of the employer or
the employee to live up to this precept is to make him liable in
damages, not to render his act (dismissal or resignation, as the case
108 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

may be) void. The measure of damages is the amount of wages the
employee should have received were it not for the termination of his
employment without prior notice. If warranted, nominal and moral
damages may also be awarded.
[The Court] hold[s], therefore, that, with respect to Article 283
of the Labor Code, the employer's failure to comply with the notice
requirement does not constitute a denial of due process but a mere
failure to observe a procedure for the termination of employment
which makes the termination of employment merely ineffectual.
The refusal to look beyond the validity of the initial action
taken by the employer to terminate employment either for an
authorized or just cause can result in an injustice to the employer.
For not giving notice and hearing before dismissing an employee,
who is otherwise guilty of say, theft, or even of an attempt against
the life of the employer, an employer will be forced to keep in his
employ such guilty employee. This is unjust.
It is true the Constitution regards labor as "a primary social
economic force." But also does it declare that it "recognizes the in-
dispensable role of the private sector, encourages private enterprise,
and provides incentives to needed investment." The Constitution
bids the State to "afford full protection to labor." But it is equally
true that "the law, in protecting the rights of the laborer, authorizes
neither oppression nor self-destruction of the employer." And it is
oppression to compel the employer to continue in employment one
who is guilty or to force the employer to remain in operation when it
is not economically in his interest to do so.
In sum, [the Court] hold[s] that if in proceedings for reinstate-
ment under Article 283, it is shown that the termination of employ-
ment was due to authorized cause, then the employee concerned
should not be ordered reinstated even though there is failure to com-
ply with the 30-day notice requirement. Instead, he must be granted
separation pay in accordance with Article 283.
If the employee's separation is without cause, instead of
being given separation pay, he should be reinstated. In either case,
whether he is reinstated or only granted separation pay, he should
be paid in full backwages if he has been laid off without written
notice at least 30 days in advance.
On the other hand, with respect to dismissals for cause under
Article 282, if it is shown that the employee was dismissed for any
of the just causes mentioned in said Article 282, then, in accordance
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with that article, he should not be reinstated. However, he must be


paid backwages from the time his employment was terminated until
it is determined that the termination of employment is for a just
cause because the failure to hear him before he is dismissed renders
the termination of his employment without legal effect.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the resolution
of the National Labor Relations Commission is MODIFIED by
ordering private respondent Isetann Department Store, Inc. to pay
petitioner separation pay equivalent to one (1) month pay for every
year of service, his unpaid salary, and his proportionate 13th month
pay and, in addition, full backwages from the time his employment
was terminated on October 11, 1991 up to the time of decision herein
becomes final. For this purpose, this case is REMANDED to the
Labor Arbiter for computation of the separation pay, backwages,
and other monetary award to petitioner.
The following justices have dissenting opinions:
(1) Justice Puno;
(2) Justice Panganiban; and
(3) Justice Bellosillo

AGABON v. NATIONAL LABOR


RELATIONS COMMISSION
442 SCRA 573 (2004)
FACTS:
Petitioners Virgilio and Jenny Agabon were employed by re-
spondent Riviera Home Improvements, Inc. as gypsum board and
cornice installers on January 2, 1992 until February 23, 1999 when
they were dismissed for abandonment of work. They filed a com-
plaint for illegal dismissal and payment of money claims.

HELD:
The Labor Arbiter declared the dismissal illegal, ordered
the payment of backwages, payment of separation pay instead of
reinstatement, and payment of the monetary claims. On appeal, the
National Labor Relations Commission reversed the Labor Arbiter
because it found that petitioners abandoned their work and that
they were not likewise entitled to any monetary award. The Court
of Appeals upheld the dismissal of the petitioners, finding that they
had abandoned their employment having already started working
for another employer. The appellate court, however, ordered the
110 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

payment of petitioner's money claims. Before the Supreme Court,


the sole issue presented is whether petitioners were illegally
dismissed, an issue which in turn implicates the consequence of
failure to comply with the notice requirement prior to the dismissal
of employees who are terminated for cause. Petitioners claim that
Riviera Home did not comply with the twin requirements of notice
and hearing. The latter argues, however, that sending notices to the
last known addresses of the petitioners would have been useless
because they did not reside there anymore.
The dismissal should be upheld because it was established that
the petitioners abandoned their jobs to work for another company.
Private respondent, however, did not follow the notice requirements
and instead argued that sending notices to the last known addresses
would have been useless because they did not reside there anymore.
Unfortunately for the private respondent, this is not a valid excuse
because the law mandates the twin notice requirements to the
employee's last known address. Thus, it should be held liable for
non-compliance with the procedural requirements of due process.
The violation of the petitioner's right to statutory due process
by the private respondent warrants the payment of indemnity in the
form of nominal damages. The amount of such damages is addressed
to the sound discretion of the court, taking into account the relevant
circumstances. Considering the prevailing circumstances in the
case at bar, we deem it proper to fix it at P30,000.00. [The Court]
believe[s] this form of damages would serve to deter employers from
future violations of the statutory due process rights of employees.
At the very least, it provides a vindication or recognition of this
fundamental right granted to the latter under the Labor Code and
its Implementing Rules.

PRESUMPTIONS IN AIDS OF CONSTRUCTION


While in the process of construing statutes, the court may in-
dulge in presumptions which are justified by the rules of logic, hu-
man experience, good sense and by specific provision of law. How-
ever, there is no need to apply said presumption if the legislative
intent is clear.

What are these presumptions?


They are the following:
(1) Presumption of Validity
(2) Presumption of Constitutionality
CHAPTER II
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(3) Presumption of Good Faith


(4) Presumption Against Injustice
(5) Presumption Against Inconsistency
(6) Presumption Against Absurdity
(7) Presumption Against Ineffectiveness
(8) Presumption Against Irrepealable Laws
(9) Presumption Against Implied Repeals
(10) Presumption Against Violation of Public Policy
(11) Presumption of Knowledge of Existing Laws
(12) Presumption of Acquiescence to Judicial Construction
(13) Presumption of Jurisdiction
(14) Presumption of Acting Within the Scope of Authority
(15) Presumption Against Violation of International Law

PRESUMPTION OF VALIDITY
Every statute passed by the legislature is presumed to be valid
because the legislature is supposed to have considered the question
of its validity in approving it.
The question of validity of every statute is first determined by
the legislative department of the government itself, and the court
should resolve every presumption in favor of its validity. The courts
are not justified in adjudging a statute invalid in the face of the
conclusion of the legislature when the question of its validity is at
all doubtful. The courts must assume the validity of the statute,
and that it was fully considered by the legislature before it was
adopted. Statutes should not be presumed to be invalid unless it
clearly appears that they are within some of the inhibitions of the
fundamental laws of the state. (U.S. v. Ten Yu; 24 Phil. 1; U.S. v.
Joson, 28 Phil. 1)

PRESUMPTION OF CONSTITUTIONALITY
Every statue passed by the legislature is presumed to be con-
stitutional.
The presumption is always in favor of constitutionality. To
doubt is to sustain. (Yu Cong Rag u. Trinidad, 47Phil. 385) However,
when the statute is really unconstitutional, the courts are authorized
112 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

to declare its invalidity. Again, this is the essence of the separation


of powers and the system of checks and balances. In discharging
that duty, the judicial arm of the government is merely complying
with its assigned task of seeing to it that the other departments
have not exceeded their constitutional authority.

PRESUMPTION OF GOOD FAITH


In case of interpretation of a statute, it is presumed that the
legislature had good motives in having considered and adopted a
particular law.

Presumptions also exist that the legislature acted in good


faith; that it acted from patriotic and just motives; that it acted with
a desire to promote an intention to disregard the civil and political
liberties of the people. (p. 132, Statutory Construction, Ruperto G.
Martin)

PRESUMPTION AGAINST INJUSTICE


In case of doubt in the interpretation or application of laws,
it is presumed that the lawmaking body intended right and justice
to prevail. (Article 10, New Civil Code of the Philippines) The
reason for this is explained by the Code Commission in this vein:
It is "necessary" so that it may tip the scales in favor of right and
justice when the law is doubtful or obscure. It will strengthen
the determination of the courts to avoid an injustice, which may
apparently be authorized by some way of interpreting the law.
(Comment of the Code Commission, p. 78)

PRESUMPTION AGAINST INCONSISTENCY


The mind of the lawmaking body is presumed to be consistent.
In case of doubt therefore, such a construction should be adopted
as will make all the provision of the statute consistent with one
another and with the entire act.
A word or phrase repeated in a statute will have the same
meaning throughout the statute, unless a different intention
appears. (Krivenko v. Register of Deeds, 79 Phil. 461)
"Ubi lex non distinguit, nee nos distinguere debemos"
- when the law does not distinguish, we should not distinguish.
(Ltbuoan V. Gil, G.R. No. L-21163, May 171, 1972)
CHAPTER H 113
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PRESUMPTION AGAINST ABSURDITY


It is presumed that the legislature does not intend that
absurdity will flow from its enactment. The courts therefore have
the duty to interpret the law in such a way as to avoid absurd result.
(People v. Malabanan, G.R. No. L-1 64 78, Aug. 31, 1961)
Whenever possible, a legal provision must not be construed to
be a useless surplusage, and accordingly meaningless, in the sense
of adding nothing to the law or having no effect whatsoever thereon.
(Uytengsu v Republic, 95 Phil 990)

PRESUMPTION AGAINST INEFFECTIVENESS


It is presumed that the lawmaking body does not intend to
adopt laws, which are unnecessary and ineffective. It is presumed
that it intends to impart to its enactments such a meaning as will
render them operative and effective.
There are therefore two important rules of statutory construc-
tion on this point, thus:
Where a law is susceptible of two constructions, one
of which will render it unconstitutional and the other
upholds its validity, the latter must be adopted. (U.S. v.
Ten Yu, 24 Phil. 1)
2. Where the language of the statute is susceptible of two or
more constructions, one which will render the statute in-
effective or inefficient and another which will tend to give
effect to the evident intent of the legislature, that con-
struction which tends to give effect to the object for which
the law was adopted shall prevail. (Benguet Exploration,
Inc. v. DENR, G.R. No. L-29534, February 23, 1977)

PRESUMPTION AGAINST IRREPEALABLE LAWS


It is presumed that the lawmaking body does not intend that
its law shall be irrepealable.
The legislature cannot enact irrepealable laws or limit its
future legislative acts. (Duarte v. David, 32 Phil. 36) The reason is
obvious, The need of today and the situation obtaining now win not
most likely be the same in the years to come. Coup d'etat is new to
the Philippine government. Drug addiction became a serious menace
114 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

in the 60's and the 70's. It is but proper that those issues should be
left to the better judgment of a new legislature. In the year 2000, the
people will surely be confronted with problems of their own

DE GUIA v. GUINGONA, et al.,


G.R. No. 119525, April 18, 1995

CONGRESS HAS THE INHERENT POWER TO AMEND,


MODIFY AND REPEAL ITS OWN LAWS FOR THERE
ARE NO IRREPEALABLE LAWS

FACTS:
Petitioner questioned the constitutionality of RA No. 7887,
enacted on February 15, 1995 insofar as it provides that elective
members of the Sanggurnang Panlungsod and Sanggumang Bayan
outside Metro Manila shall be elected at large. RA No. 7887 amend-
ed Section 3, paragraphs (c) and (d) of BA No. 7166, enacted on No-
vember 26, 1991, which provides that said officials shall be elected
by district on the May 8, 1995 election. He argued that RA No. 7887
is contrary to and inconsistent with the earlier law, RA No 7166"
He urges the Court to strike down RA No. 7887 and to "reinstate RA
No 7166"

ISSUE:
Is RA No 7887 contrary to or consistent with RA No 7166?

HELD:
It is of no moment that RA No. 7887 is contrary and inconsistent
with RA No. 7166. HA No. 7887 was enacted precisely to amend
Section 3[c] and [d] of RA No. 7166. Congress has the inherent
power to amend, modify and repeal its own laws for there are no
irrepealable laws Its perception of what is good for our people can
change over time. This perception is reflected by them through the
amendment or outright repeal of our existing laws. By the principle
of separation of powers, the Supreme Court cannot supersede the
wisdom of Congress in enacting, amending or repealing a law. It
cannot strike down an amendatory law on the ground that the
amended law is better for the people Petitioner's supplication
that the Supreme Court '.reinstate" RA No 7166 betrays his basic
ignorance of our constitutional system.
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PRESUMPTION AGAINST IMPLIED REPEALS


Repeals by implication is not favored. There are two require-
ments before a statute can be considered to have repealed a prior
statute by implication, namely:
1. That the statute touch the same subject matter; and
2. That the later statute is repugnant to the earlier one.
(Calderon v. Provincia Del Santisimo Rosario, 26 Phil.
164)
In this connection, there are three basic rules to remember on
the matter of repeal:
1. Laws are repealed only by subsequent ones, and their
violation or nonobservance shall not be excused by disuse,
or custom or practice to the contrary. (Article 7 New Civil
Code of the Philippines)
2. When a law which expressly repeals a prior law is itself
repealed, the law first repealed shall not be thereby re-
vived, unless expressly so provided. However, when a law
repeals a prior law, not expressly but by implication only,
its repeal revives the prior law unless the language of the
repealing statute provides otherwise. (U.S. v. Soliman, 36
Phil. 5)
3. A general law does not repeal a special law unless it is so
expressly provided, or they are incompatible. (Compania
General de Tabacos v. Collector of Customs, 46 Phil. 8)

PRESUMPTION AGAINST VIOLATION OF PUBLIC


POLICY
It is presumed that the legislature designs to favor and foster
rather than to contravene, that public policy which is based upon
the principles of natural justice, good morals, and the settled
wisdom of the law as applied to the ordinary affairs of life. (Black,
Interpretation of Laws, 2nd Edition, p. 134)

PRESUMPTION OF KNOWLEDGE OF EXISTING LAWS


In enacting a law, the lawmaking body is presumed to have
full knowledge of all existing laws on the subject. Hence, if there are
two laws on the same subject enacted on different dates, the latter
law cannot be held to have abrogated the former law, unless the
116 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

repugnancy is clear, convincing and irreconcilable. (Manila Lodge


No. 761 v. Court of Appeals, et al.)

PRESUMPTION OF ACQUIESCENCE TO JUDICIAL


CONSTRUCTION
When the court has construed a statute in a particular manner,
and the lawmaking body made no move to alter or amend the said
statute, it is presumed that the legislature has acquiesced in that
interpretation.

PRESUMPTION OF JURISDICTION
A statute will not be construed in such a manner as to oust or
restrict the jurisdiction of superior courts, or to vest a new jurisdic-
tion in them, unless there are express words or a necessary implica-
tion to that effect. (G.R. No. L-41001, September 30, 1976; U.S. v.
Palacio, 33 Phil. 208)

PRESUMPTION OF ACTING WITHIN


THE SCOPE OF AUTHORITY
It is presumed that the legislature acted within the scope of its
authority. Hence, if a statute admits of more than one interpretation,
one that places the statute outside of legislative competence, and one
that places the statute within the limits of legislative competence,
the court should adopt the later interpretation. (Black, Interpretation
of Laws. 2nd Ed., p. 138)

PRESUMPTION AGAINST VIOLATION OF


INTERNATIONAL LAW
It is presumed that a statute is in conformity with the rules
and principles of international laws, or with treaties, in line with
Section 2, Article II, of the 1987 Constitution, which provides as
follows:

"Section 2. The Philippines renounces war as an instru-


ment of national policy, adopts the generally accepted prin-
ciples of international law as part of the law of the land and
adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, coop-
eration, and amity with all nations."
CHAPTER III
LAW, ITS CONCEPT AND CLASSIFICATION

I. DEFINITION OF LAW
The term "law, "in its broadest sense, means any rule of action
or norm of conduct applicable to all kinds of action and to all objects
of creation. In this sense therefore, it includes all laws, whether they
refer to state law, physical law, divine law and others.
In a strict legal sense, law is defined as a rule of conduct, just
and obligatory, laid down by legitimate authority for the common
observance and benefit. (Sanchez Roman, p. 23) Based on this
definition, law has the following elements:
1. IT IS A RULE OF CONDUCT - Laws serve as guides
of an individual in relation to his fellowmen and to his
community.
2. LAWS MUST BE JUST - The chapter on human rela-
tions is now precisely embedded in the New Civil Code
in order to obtain stability of the social order. Laws, as
guides for human conduct, "should run as golden threads
through society; to the end that law may approach its su-
preme ideal which is the sway and dominance of justice.
(Report of the Code Commission, p. 39)
3. IT MUST BE OBLIGATORY— If laws are not enforced,
the purpose for which they are intended will not be served.
4. LAWS MUST BE PRESCRIBED BY LEGITIMATE
AUTHORITY - If laws are not prescribed by legitimate
authority, the people could not be expected to observe
them. Authority to make laws is conferred upon those
duly chosen by the sovereign will of the people. This is
in consonance with Section 1, Article II, of the Philip-
pine Constitution, which says that "sovereignty resides in
the people and all government authority emanates from
them."

117
118 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

5. LAWS MUST BE ORDAINED FOR THE COMMON


BENEFIT - This recognizes the famous Latin Maxim
of "SAL US POPULI EST SUPREMA LEX" - the
welfare of the people is the supreme law. Laws should be
applied not only to a particular group of citizens. They are
supposed to be applied equally to all citizens regardless of
their religion, political persuasion, or status in life.

CLASSIFICATION OF LAW
1. NATURAL LAW
This law derives its force and authority from God. It is
superior to other laws. It is binding to the whole world, in all
countries and at all times.

2. POSITIVE LAW
Physical Law - Universal rule of action that governs
the conduct and movement of things, which are non-free and
material.
Moral Law - Set of rules which establishes what is
right and what is wrong as dictated by the human conscience
and as inspired by the eternal law.

Divine Law -
(a) Divine Positive Law i.e., Ten Commandments,
(b) Divine Human Positive Law i.e., Commandments of
the church

PUBLIC LAW
(a) Constitutional Law - is the fundamental law of the land,
which defines the powers of the government.
(b) Administrative Law - that law which fixes the organiza-
tion and determines the competence of the administrative
authorities and which regulates the methods by which
the functions of the Government are performed.
(c) International Law - body of rules, which regulates the
community of ntion.
CHAPTER III 119
LAW, ITS CONCEPT AND CLASSIFICATION

PRIVATE LAW: Body of rules which creates duties,


rights and obligations, and the means and methods of setting
courts in motion for the enforcement of a right or of a redress of
wrong. (Words and Phrases, Vol. 24, 337)
(a) Substantive private law - Those rules which declare
legal relations of litigants when the courts have been
properly moved to action upon facts duly presented to
them. (Words and Phrases, Vol. 24, 337)
(b) Procedural or adjective private law - Refers to the means
and methods of setting the courts in motion, making the
facts known to them and effectuating their judgments.

H, SOURCES OF LAW
Law is derived from different sources, namely: (1) legislation;
(2) precedent; (3) custom; and (4) court decision.
LEGISLATION - Before the declaration of martial law in
the Philippines on September 21, 1972, the power to legislate laws
is vested in the Congress of the Philippines, which consists of the
Senate and the House of Representatives Upon the imposition of
martial law and after the dissolution of the old Congress, the power
to legislate law is vested in the President of the Philippines. This is
the reason why the President issued presidential decrees and letters
of instructions. When the Batasang Pambansa was organized,
legislative power is principally vested in this body although the
President, under and by virtue of what is known as Amendment
No. 6, continued to issue decrees when the exigency of the situation
requires and in case of other emergencies. Among many others,
this is one of the dictatorial acts that was severely questioned
by several lawyers and critics of the past regime. Now, after the
People's Revolt on February 22-25, 1986, and in accordance with
the wishes and the will of the sovereign Filipino people, the three
branches of government operating under the doctrine of separation
of powers are restored, with each department being committed to do
its utmost share in bringing about a more democratic and efficient
system of government that is responsive to the needs of the people.
PRECEDENT •- This means that the decisions or principles
enunciated by a court of competent jurisdiction on a question of law
do not only serve as guides but also as authority to be followed by all
other courts of equal or inferior jurisdiction in all cases involving the
same question until the same is overruled or reversed by a superior
120 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

court. In the Philippines, this doctrine of stare decisis is not


applied and recognized in the same manner that it is applied and
recognized in common law countries. However, our new Civil Code
provides as follows: "x x x Judicial decision applying or interpreting
the laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system of
the Philippines. x x x" (Article 8, New Civil Code)
Furthermore, although Supreme Court decisions are binding
on inferior courts, there are many instances where the Supreme
Court departed from its previous decision either wholly or partly.
In any case, that which is the latest necessarily amends or reverses
those previously rendered by the Supreme Court.
CUSTOM - Customs have the force of law only when they are
acknowledged and approved by society through long and uninter-
rupted usage.
In the Philippines, there are several requisites before the court
considers custom. They are as follows:
(a) A custom must be proved as a fact according to the rules
of evidence (Article 12, NCC);
(b) The custom must not be contrary to law (Article 11, NCC);
(c) There must be a number of repeated acts and these
repeated acts must have been uniformly performed;
(d) There must be a judicial intention to make a rule of social
conduct; and
(e) A custom must be acknowledged and approved by society,
through long and uninterrupted usage.
COURT DECISION - Judicial decisions which apply or in-
terpret the Constitution and the laws are part of the legal system
in the Philippines but they are not laws. However, although judicial
decisions are not laws, they are evidence of the meaning and inter-
pretations of the laws.
In the Philippines, we adhere to the doctrine of STARE DECI-
SIS which means that once a case has been decided one way, then
another case involving exactly the same question or point of law
should be decided in the same manner. This principle, however, does
not necessarily mean that erroneous decisions or those found to be
contrary to law must be perpetuated. On the contrary, they should
be abandoned.
CHAPTER III 121
LAW, ITS CONCEPT AND CLASSIFICATION

III. STATUTES
Statutes are enacted by the legislature. They
are actually the bills submitted to Congress for
consideration and approval. Once approved finally
by Congress and by the President of the Philippines
these bills become statutes. (The rules on the
approval of bills are found in Article VI, Section 27
of the 1987 Constitution) Other laws, which have the
same binding force as statutes are the presidential
decrees, issued during the period of martial law
and under the 1973 Constitution.

IV. KINDS OF STATUTES


I. AS TO NATURE
1. Penal statutes
2. Remedial statutes
3. Substantive statutes
4. Labor statutes
5. Tax statutes
II. AS TO APPLICATION
1. Mandatory
2. Directory
III. AS TO PERFORMANCE
1. Permanent
2. Temporary
IV. AS TO SCOPE
1. General
2. Special
3. Local
V. OTHER CLASSIFICATIONS
1. A statute could either be prospective or retroactive
2. A statute could either be a repealing act or an amendatory
act
3. A statute could either be a reference statute or a
declaratory statute
122 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

V. IDENTIFICATION OF STATUTES

HOW ARE STATUTES IDENTIFIED?


The identification of a statute depends on the respective au-
thorities that enacted them.
Statutes passed and approved by the Philippine Commission
and the Philippine Legislature from 1901 to 1935 are identified as
Public Acts.
Those enacted during the Commonwealth period from 1936 to
1946 are identified as Commonwealth Acts.
Those approved by the Philippine Congress from 1942 to 1972
are identified as Republic Acts.
Those approved by the Batasang Pambansa are identified as
BP or Batas Pambansa
Those that were issued by President Ferdinand E. Marcos dur-
ing the martial law regime were identified as PD or Presidential
Decree.
All statutes are identified either by their respective titles or
their serial numbers.

VI. PARTS OF STATUTES

SEVEN PARTS OF A STATUTE


A statute has seven parts such as the following:
1. Title
2. Preamble
3 Enacting Clause
4. Body
5. Exceptions and Provisos
6. Interpretative, repealing, separability and saving clauses
7. Date of Effectivity
TITLE - That part of the statute which gives a general
statement of, and calls attention to, the subject matter
of an act, so that legislators and the public may be
appraised of the subject matter of the legislation, and
be put upon inquiry in regard thereto. (Example: "An
Act Enacting a Local Government Code")
CHAFFER III 123
LAW, ITS CONCEPT AND CLASSIFICATION

CAN A BILL EMBRACE MORE THAN ONE SUBJECT?


Section 26(1) of Article VI of the New Constitution specifically
requires that "Every bill passed by the Congress shall embrace only
one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof."

PURPOSES OF SUCH REQUIREMENT


The purpose of said requirement are the following
1. To prevent hodge-podge or log rolling legislation;
2. To prevent surprise or fraud upon the legislature; and
3. To fairly apprise the people of the subjects of legislation
being considered so that they may have the opportunity
of being heard thereon, if they shall so desire. (Cooley,
Coast Limitations, 6 Edition, p 172)

WHAT IS A HODGE-PODGE OR LOGROLLING


LEGISLATION
It is a mischievous legislative practice of embracing in one
bill several distinct matters, none of which, perhaps, could singly
obtain the assent of the legislator, and then procuring its passage
by a combination of the minorities in favor of each of the measure
into a majority that will adopt them all (Blacks Law Dictionary,
4th Edition p 1091) The object of such kind of legislation is to unite
the legislators who favor any one of the subjects in support of the
whole act.

EFFECT OF VIOLATING SAID REQUIREMENT


Statutes passed in violation of said requirement shall be de-
clared void by the courts. However, this requirement shall be rea-
sonably applied in order not to interfere unduly with the enactment
of necessary legislation (Sumulong v COMELEC, 73 Phil 283)

TEST OF SUFFICIENCY OF A TITLE


The title of a bill need not be a catalogue or an index of its
contents, and need not recite the details of the Act It is a valid title
if it indicates in broad but clear terms the nature, scope, and conse-
quences of the proposed law and its operation
The main title of RA 1700 is Anti Subversion Act In addition
however, to this title, said law states that it is "An act to outlaw the
124 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Communist Party of the Philippines and similar associations, pe-


nalizing membership therein and for other purposes." The Supreme
Court held that the said title is valid. The statute unequivocally
indicates that the subject matter of the law is subversion in general
which has for its purpose the substitution of a foreign totalitarian
regime in place of the existing Government and not merely subver-
sion by Communist conspiracies. (People v. Hon. Simeon N. Ferrer,
et al., G.R. No. L-32613, December 27, 1972)

IN CASE OF DOUBT AS TO THE SUFFICIENCY


OF THE TITLE OF THE ACT
When there is doubt as to the insufficiency of either the title, or
the act, the legislation should be sustained. The presumption is in
favor of the validity of the acts.

IS THE SAID REQUIREMENTS APPLICABLE TO


ORDINANCES OF DIFFERENT COUNCILS
(MUNICIPAL, CITY, PROVINCIAL)?
It is not applicable to said ordinances because they are not laws
enacted by Congress, Section 26(1), Article VI of the Constitution
mentions "Congress" only, thus:
"Every bill passed by the Congress shall embrace only one
subject which shall be expressed in the title hereof." (Underscoring
Supplied)

II. PREAMBLE - It is that part of the statute following the


title and preceding the enacting clause, which states
the reasons for, or the objects of the enactment.

EXAMPLE:
'WHEREAS, there is pressing need to accelerate the
Agrarian Reform Program of the Government for the early
attainment of the objectives set forth in [RA] No. 3844, as
amended;
WHEREAS, among such objectives is to achieve dignified
existence for the small farmers free from the pernicious insti-
tutional restraints and practices which have not only retarded
the agricultural development of the country but have also pro-
duced widespread discontent and unrest among our farmers,
one of the causes of the existing national emergency; and
CHAPTER III 125
LAW, ITS CONCEPT AND CLASSIFICATION

WHEREAS, it is believed that the lasting objectives of


land reform may be sooner realized if the whole country is
declared a land reform area."
NOTE : There are three basic points to remember:
A preamble does not create a right nor does it grant
any right;
2. It is not a source of government power; and
3. It is not an essential part of the statute.

IlL ENACTING CLAUSE - It is that part of the statute that


indicates the authority that promulgated the enactment.
The enacting clause is not essential to the validity of
the law but this clause clothes the statute with a certain
dignity because the specific authority that promulgated
the law is therein stated.
EXAMPLE: "Be it enacted by the Senate and House
of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress
assembled"
IV. BODY - It contains the subject matter of the statute.
The body of a statute should embrace only one subject
matter as required in Section 26(1), Article VI of the New
Constitution, thus: "Every bill passed by the Congress
shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed
in the title thereof." This requirement is not violated
simply because it contains diverse provisions. For as
long as those provisions are allied and germane to the
subject and purpose of the bill, the said requirement is
deemed complied with.

EXAMPLE:
"Presidential Decree No. 1612, Anti-Fencing Law of 1979"
Sections 1 to 8.
SECTION 1. TITLE. - This decree shall be known as
Anti-Fencing Law.
SEC. 2. DEFINITION OF TERMS. - The following
terms shall mean as follows:
a. 'TENCING"is the act of any person who, with intent
to gain for himself or for another, shall buy, receive,
possess, keep, acquire, conceal, sell or dispose of, or
126 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

shall buy and sell, or in any-other manner deal in


any article, item, object or anything of value which
he knows, or should be known to him, to have been
derived from the proceeds of the crime of robbery or
theft.
b. "FENCE" includes any person, firm, association,
corporation or partnership or other organization
who/which commits the act of fencing.
SEC. 3. PENALTIES. - Any person guilty of fencing
shall be punished as hereunder indicated:
a.) The penalty of pri.sion mayor, if the value of the
property involved is more that 12,000 pesos but not exceeding
22,000 pesos; if the value of such property exceeds the latter
sum, the penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed
in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional
10,000 pesos; but the total penalty which may be imposed shall
not exceed twenty years. In such cases, - the penalty shall be
termed reclusion temporal and the accessory penalty pertain-
ing thereto provided in the Revised Penal Code shall also be
imposed. -
b.) The penalty of prision correccional in its medium
and maximum periods, if the value of the property robbed or
stolen is more than 6,000 pesos but not exceeding 12,000 pesos.
c.) The penalty ofprision correccional in its minimum
and medium periods, if the value of the property involved is
more than 200 pesos but not exceeding 6,000 pesos.
d.) The penalty of arresto mayor in its medium period
toprision correccional in its minimum period, if the value of
the property is over 50 pesos but not exceeding 200 pesos.
e.) The penalty of arresto mayor in its medium period
if such value is over five (5) pesos but not exceeding 50 pesos.
f.) The penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum
period if such value does not exceed 5 pesos.
SEC. 4. LIABILITY OF OFFICIALS OF JUDICIAL
PERSONS. - If the fence is a partnership, firm, corporation,
or association, the president or the manager or any officer
thereof who knows or should have known the commission of
the offense shall be liable. -
CHAPTER III 127
LAW, ITS CONCEPT AND CLASSIFICATION

SEC. 5. PRESUMPTION OF FENCING. - Mere pos-


session of any good, article, item, object, or anything of value
which has been the subject of robbery or thievery shall be pri-
ma facie evidence of fencing.
SEC. 6. CLEARANCE/PERMIT TO SELL/USED SEC-
OND HAND ARTICLES. - For purposes of this Act, all
stores, establishments or entities dealing in the buy and sell
of any goods, article, item, object or anything of value obtained
from an unlicensed dealer or supplier thereof, shall before offer-
ing the same for sale to the public, secure the necessary clear-
ance or permit from the station commander of the Integrated
National Police in the town or city where such store, estab-
lishment or entity is located. The Chief of Constabulary/Direc-
tor General, Integrated National Police shall promulgate such
rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this section
Any person who fails to secure the clearance or permit required
by this section or who violates any of the provisions of the rules
and regulations promulgated thereunder shall upon conviction
be punished as a fence

SEC. 7. REPEALING CLAUSE. - All laws or parts


thereof, winch are inconsistent with the provisions of this
Decree are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.
SEC. 8. EFFECTIVITY. - This Decree shall take effect
upon approval
Done m the City of Manila, this 2nd day of March, in the
year of Our Lord, nineteen and seventy-nine.
V. PROVISO - It is a clause added to an enactment for the
purpose of acting as a restraint upon or as a qualification
of, the generality of the language which it follows.

EXAMPLE
Article 33 of the Family Code
"Article 33 Marriages among Muslims or among
members of the ethnic cultural communities may be per-
formed validly without the necessity of marriage license,
provided they are solemnized in accordance with
their customs, rites or- practices." (Emphasis and un-
derscoring supplied)
128 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

VI. INTERPRETATIVE CLAUSE - That part of the statute


where the legislature defines its own language or
prescribes rules for its construction.
EXAMPLE:
Section 4 of the Local Government Code
"Section 4. Rules of Interpretation:
1. Any power of a barangay, municipality, city or
province shall be liberally construed in its favor.
Any fair and reasonable doubt as to the existence of
the power shall be interpreted in favor of the local
government unit concerned.
2. The general welfare provisions in this Code shall
be liberally interpreted so as to give more power to
local governments in promoting the economic uplift,
social welfare and material progress of the people in
the community.
3. Vested rights existing on the date of the effectivity of
this Code arising out of contracts or any other source
of obligation between a province, city, municipality
or barangay and another party, shall be governed by
the original terms and provisions of said contracts or
the law in force at the time such rights became vest-
ed and in no case shall this Code infringe on them.
4. When in the resolution of controversies arising under
this Code no legal provision or jurisprudence case be
found to apply, resort may be had to the customs and
traditions in the place where the controversy arose."
VIL REPEALING CLAUSE - That part of the statute that
announces the legislative intent to terminate or revoke
another statute or statutes.
EXAMPLE:
Section 233 of the Local Government Code
"Section 233. Repealing Clause; Metropolitan Manila and
the Sangguniang Pampook of Region IX and XII. -
(1) Except as otherwise provided herein, all laws, acts,
city charters, decrees, executive orders, proclama-
tions and administrative regulations, or part or
CHAPTER III 129
LAW, ITS CONCEPT AND CLASSIFICATION

parts thereof which are inconsistent with this Code


are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.
(2) Unless otherwise provided by law, nothing in this
Code shall be understood to amend or repeal the
pertinent provisions of PD No. 824 and B.P. 20, and
all presidential decrees and issuances relevant to
Metropolitan Manila and the Sangguniang Pampook
of Regions IX and XII."
VIII. SAVING CLAUSE - This restricts a repealing act
and preserves existing powers, rights and pending
proceedings from the effects of the repeal.
EXAMPLE:
Section 31 of the Social Security Law
"Section 31. SAVING CLAUSE. - The Assembly
hereby reserves the right to amend, alter, or repeal any
provision of this Act, and no person shall be or shall
deemed to be vested with any property or other right
by virtue of the enactment or operation of this Act. (As
amended by Section 2, RA No. 1792 and Section 20, PD
No. 735, S-1975)"
IX. SEPARABILITY CLAUSE - It is clause, which states
that if for any reason, any section or provision of the
statute is held to be unconstitutional or invoked, the
other section or provision of the law shall not be affected
thereby.
NOTE:
1. A separability clause creates a presumption that the
legislature intended separability, rather than complete nullity
of the statute. This means that if one part of the statute is void
or unconstitutional, the other parts thereof which are valid
may still stand.

THIS IS THE GENERAL RULE


The general rule, however, is subject to the limitation that
if the parts of the statute are so mutually dependent and con-
nected thereby creating a belief that the legislature intended
them as a whole, the nullity or unconstitutionality of one part
may vitiate the rest.
130 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

VII. OTHER LAWS


1. PRESIDENTIAL ISSUANCES (WHAT ARE INCLUDED
IN THE TERM "PRESIDENTIAL ISSUANCES"?)
Presidential issuances do not refer only to presidential decrees.
They also include executive orders, administrative orders, memo-
randum orders, memorandum circulars, and general or special or-
ders. These issuances, shall form part of the law of the land. (1976
Amendment No. 6)
BACKGROUND
Before the declaration of martial law in the Philippines on
September 21, 1972, the power to legislate laws is vested in Congress,
which consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives. Sec-
tion 1 Article VI of the 1935 Constitution provides as follows
"Section 1. The Legislative power shall be vested
in a Congress of the Philippines, which shall consist of a
Senate and a House of Representative
Upon the imposition of martial law and after the dissolution
of the old Congress, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, "assumed
direction of the operation of the entire Government" under and
by virtue of Proclamation No. 1091 dated September 21, 1972.
On this basis, President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued presidential
decrees and letters of instructions. The prominent decrees that he
issued are PD No. 2 "PROCLAIMING THE ENTIRE COUNTRY
AS A LAND REFORM AREA" and PD No. 27 "DECREEING THE
EMANCIPATION OF TENANT FROM THE BONDAGE OF THE
SOIL, TRANSFERRING TO THEM THE OWNERSHIP OF THE
LAND THEY TILL AND PROVIDING THE INSTRUMENTS AND
MECHANISM THEREFOR."
Said decrees are herein quoted in full:

MALACA1SEANG
Manila
PD NO. 2
PROCLAIMING THE ENTIRE COUNTRY AS LAND
REFORM AREA
WHEREAS, there is pressing need to accelerate the
Agrarian Reform Program of the Government for the ear-
CHAPTER III 131
LAW, ITS CONCEPT AND CLASSIFICATION

ly attainment of the objectives set forth in RA No. 3844,


as amended;
WHEREAS, among such objectives is to achieve dig-
nified existence for the small farmers free from the per-
nicious institutional restraints and practices which have
not only retarded the agricultural development of the
country but have also produced widespread discontent
and unrest among our farmers, one of the causes of the
existing national emergency; and
WHEREAS, it is believed that the lasting objectives
of land reform may be sooner realized if the whole country
is declared a land reform area;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS,
President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers in me
vested by the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines, and pursuant to Procla-
mation No. 1081 dated September 21, 1972, as amended,
whereby I have assumed direction of the operation of the
entire Government, do hereby proclaim the whole country
as a land reform area.
All agencies and offices of the Government are
enjoined to extend full cooperation and assistance to the
Department of Agrarian Reform to insure the successful
implementation of the Agrarian Reform Program.
The Agrarian Reform Coordinating Council created
under Executive Order No. 347, series of 1971, is hereby
directed to convene immediately to exercise its functions.
The Secretary of Agrarian Reform shall take the
necessary steps for the prompt and effective implementa-
tion of this decree.
Done in the City of Manila, this 26th day of Sep-
tember in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and
seventy-two.
132 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

PD NO. 27
DECREEING THE EMANCIPATION OF TENANT FROM
THE BONDAGE OF THE SOIL,
TRANSFERRING TO THEM THE OWNERSHIP
OF THE LAND THEY TILL AND PROVIDING
THE INSTRUMENTS AND MECHANISM THEREFOR.
Inasmuch as the old concept of land ownership by
a few has spawned valid and legitimate grievances that
gave rise to violent conflict and social tension,

The redress of such legitimate grievances being one


of the fundamental objectives of the New Society,
Since Reformation must start with the emancipation
of the tiller of the soil from his bondage.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS,
President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers in
me vested by the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief
of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and pursuant
to Proclamation No. 1081, dated September 21, 1972,
and General Order No. 1 dated September 22, 1972, as
amended do hereby decree and order the emancipation of
all tenant farmers as of the day, October 21, 1972;
This shall apply to tenant farmers of private agri-
cultural lands primarily devoted to rice and corn under a
system of sharecrop or lease-tenancy, whether classified
as landed estate or not;
The tenant farmer, whether in land classified as
landed estate or not, shall be deemed an owner of a por-
tion constituting a family-size farm of five (5) hectares if
not irrigated and three (3) hectares if irrigated;
In all cases, the landowner may retain an area of
not more than seven (7) hectares if such landowner is
cultivating such area or will now cultivate it;
For the purpose of determining the cost of the land
to be transferred to the tenant-farmer pursuant to this
Decree, the value of the land shall be equivalent to two and
one-half (2 1/2) times the average harvest of three normal
crop years immediately preceding the promulgation of
this Decree;
CHAPTER III 133
LAW, ITS CONCEPT AND CLASSIFICATION

The total cost of the land, including interest at the


rate of six (6) percentum per annum, shall be paid by the
tenant in fifteen (15) years of fifteen (15) equal annual
amortizations;
In case of default, the amortizations due shall be
paid by the farmer's cooperative in which the defaulting
tenant-farmer is a member, with the cooperative having
a right of recourse against him;
The government shall guaranty such amortizations
with shares of stock in government-owned and controlled
corporations;
No title to the land owned by the tenant-farmers
under this Decree shall be actually issued to a tenant-
farmer unless and until the tenant-farmer has become a
full-pledged member of a duly recognized farmer's coop-
erative;
Title to land acquired pursuant to this Decree or
the Land Reform Program of the Government shall not
be transferable except by hereditary succession or to the
Government in accordance with the provisions of this
Decree, the Code of Agrarian Reforms and other existing
laws and regulations;
The Department of Agrarian Reform through its
Secretary is hereby empowered to promulgate rules and
regulations for the implementation of this Decree.
All laws, executive orders, decrees and rules and
regulations, or parts thereof, inconsistent with this
Decree are hereby repealed and or modified accordingly.
Done in the City of Manila this 21st day of October,
in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and seventy-
two.
Under the 1973 Constitution, legislative power is
vested in a Batasang Pambansa. (Section 1, Article VIII,
1973 Constitution)
The 1973 Constitution was amended in 1976
principally to provide for an interim B.P.
Extraordinary legislative power was given to Presi-
dent Ferdinand E. Marcos by the 1976 Amendment No. 6
which reads:
134 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

"Whenever in the judgment of the President


(Prime Minister) there exists a grave emergency or
a threat or imminence thereof, or whenever the In-
terim Batasang Pambansa or the Regular National
Assembly fails or is unable to act adequately on
any matter for any reason that in his judgment re-
quires immediate action, he may, in order to meet
the exigency, issue the necessary decrees, orders or
letters of instructions, which shall form part of the
law of the land."

I *Y I á m

Memorandum Circular of President Ferdinand E.


Marcos in relation to PD Nos. 2 and 22

November 25, 1972


TO: Secretary Conrado Estrella
Department of Agrarian Reform,
Secretary Cesar Virata
Department of Finance
We shall postpone promulgation of the Rules and
Regulations pending the studies in the pilot projects in
order that we can incorporate the lessons we learn in such
pilot projects. However, the following guidelines will be
adopted:
1. No tenant will be ejected or removed pending the
promulgation of the Rules and Regulations.
2. Landowners will be encouraged to sell or swap their
lands to the following arrangements:
a. Swap with government lands, whether virgin
or otherwise;
b. Swap with government stocks in government-
owned or controlled corporations or private cor-
porations where the government has holdings;
C. Sell for cash with the arrangement that gov-
ernment shall extend them priority in the
purchase of government lands or government
stocks;
CHAPTER III 135
LAW, ITS CONCEPT AND CLASSIFICATION

d. Government to offer in lieu of the payments by


the tenants, annuities with guarantees against
inflation, and/or medical insurance or pensions
of any class or nature;
e. Government to help in every way possible, in-
cluding credit financing.
3. Pilot projects may be set up not only in Nueva Ecija
but anywhere else in the Philippines in accordance
with my original instructions.

4. The Secretary of Finance will now set aside such


fund, including at least P50 million from the general
fund, as are available to be utilized for this purpose.
5. Loans from other countries, like the Japanese Com-
modity and Project Loan, shall be used primarily for:
a. Infrastructure of tenanted lands as well as
infrastructure for government virgin lands to be
swapped or sold to landowners or cooperatives.
b. The next Commodity and Project Loan totalling
P75 million shall be used primarily for land
reform.
(Sgd.) FERDINAND E. MARCOS
President
Republic of the Philippines

EXAMPLE OF A LETTER OF INSTRUCTION

Letter of Instructions No. 140


Restructuring Loans of Farmers Affected by Calamities.
To: The Governor, Central Bank
The President, Philippine National Bank
The Administrator, ACA
Typhoons "Luming" and "Narsing," the floods and locusts
in Cotabato, and the brown planthopper disease have damaged a
considerable number of farms in Cotabato, Central Luzon, Laguna
and the Bicol region. Damages to farms mean that farmers affected
will be unable to pay their production loans borrowed from the rural
banks, the Philippine National Bank, or the Agricultural Credit
136 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Administration. Further, farms which can still be replanted will


need additional loans for land preparation, seeds and fertilizer.
You are hereby directed to take the necessary steps to restruc-
ture the loans of the farmers affected and, in addition, to provide
new loans to farmers who would like to replant and are capable of
replanting their farms.
Done in the City of Manila, this 23rd day of October in the year
of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and seventy-three.

2. ORDINANCES
The respective legislative bodies of the Sangguniang Baran-
gay, Sangguniang Bayan, Sangguniang Panglungsod, and the Sang-
guniang Panlalawigan can enact ordinances and resolutions.
Under the rules and regulations implementing the Local
Government Code of 1991, particularly under Article 107 to 114,
Rule I thereof, the pertinent provisions related to ordinances and
resolutions are as follows:
ARTICLE 107. Ordinances and Resolutions. - The following
rules shall govern the enactment of ordinances and resolutions:
(a) Legislative actions of a general and permanent character
shall be enacted in the form of ordinances, while those which are
of temporary character shall be passed in the form of resolutions.
Matters relating to proprietary functions and to private concerns
shall also be acted upon by resolution.
(b) Proposed ordinances and resolutions shall be in writing
and shall contain an assigned number, a title or caption, an enacting
or ordaining clause, and the date of its proposed effectivity. In
addition, every proposed ordinance shall be accompanied by a brief
explanatory note containing the justification for its approval. It shall
be signed by the author or authors and submitted to the secretary to
the sanggunian who shall report the same to the sanggunian at its
next meeting.
(c) A resolution shall be enacted in the same manner
prescribed for an ordinance, except that it need not go through a
third reading for its final consideration unless decided otherwise by
a majority of all the sanggunian members.
(d) No ordinance or resolution shall be considered on second
reading in any regular meeting unless it has been reported out by
CHAPTER III 137
LAW, ITS CONCEPT AND CLASSIFICATION

the proper committee to which it was referred or certified as urgent


by the local chief executive.
(e) Any legislative matter duly certified by the local chief
executive as urgent, whether or not it is included in the calendar of
business, may be presented and considered by the body at the same
meeting without need of suspending the rules.
(f) The secretary to the sanggunian of the province, city
or municipality shall prepare copies of the proposed ordinance or
resolution in the form it was passed on second reading, and shall
distribute to each sanggunian member a copy thereof, except that
a measure certified by the local chief executive concerned as urgent
may be submitted for final voting immediately after debate or
amendment during the second reading.
(g) No ordinance or resolution passed by the sanggunian in a
regular or special session duly called for the purpose shall be valid
unless approved by a majority of the members present, there being
a quorum. Any ordinance or resolution authorizing or directing the
payment of money or creating liability, shall require the affirmative
vote of a majority of all the sanggunian members for its passage.
(h) Upon the passage of all ordinances and resolutions
directing the payment of money or creating liability, and at the
request of any member, of any resolution or motion, the sanggunian
shall record the ayes and nays. Each approved ordinance or
resolution shall be stamped with the seal of the sanggunian and
recorded in a book kept for the purpose.
ARTICLE 108. Approval of Ordinances. - ( a) Every ordinance
enacted by the sanggunian shall be present to the local chief
executive. If the local chief executive concerned approves the
same, he shall affix his signature on each and every page thereof;
otherwise, he shall veto it and return the same with his objections
to the sanggunian, which may proceed to reconsider the same.
The sanggunian concerned may override the veto of the local
chief executive by two-thirds (2/3) vote of all its members thereby
making the ordinance or resolution effective for all legal intents and
purposes.
(b) The veto shall be communicated by the local chief
executive concerned to the sanggunian within fifteen (15) days in
the case of a province, and ten (10) days in the case of a city or a
municipality; otherwise, the ordinance shall be deemed approved as
if he had signed it.
138 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

(c) Ordinances enacted by the sangguniang barangay shall,


upon approval by a majority of all its members, be signed by the
puriong barangay.
ARTICLE 109. Veto Power of the Local Chief Executive. - ( a)
The local chief executive may veto any ordinance of the saugguniang
panlalawigan, sangguniang panlungsod, or sangguniang bayan on
the ground that it is ultra vires or prejudicial to the public welfare,
stating his reasons therefore in writing.
(b) The local chief executive, except the punong barangay
shall have the power to veto any particular item or items of an
appropriations ordinance, an ordinance or resolution adopting a local
development plan and public investment program or an ordinance
directing the payment of money or creating liability. In such a case,
the veto shall not affect the item or items which are not objected to.
The vetoed item or items shall not take effect unless the sanggunian
overrides the veto in the manner as provided in the immediately
preceding Article; otherwise, the item or items in the appropriations
ordinance of the previous year corresponding to those vetoed, if any,
shall be deemed reenacted.
(c) The local chief executive may veto an ordinance or resolu-
tion only once. The sanggunian may override the veto of the local
chief executive concerned by two-thirds (2/3) vote of all its members,
thereby making the ordinance effective even without the approval of
the local chief executive concerned.
ARTICLE 110. Review of Component City and Municipal
Ordinances or Resolutions by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. - (a)
Within (3) days after approval, the secretary to the sangguniang
panlungsod or sangguniang bayan shall transmit to the sangguniang
panlalawigan for review, copies of approved ordinances and
resolutions approving and adopting the local development plans and
public investment programs formulated by the local development
councils.
(b) Within thirty (30) days after receipt of copies of such or-
dinances and resolutions, the sanggumang panlalawigan shall ex-
amine the documents or transmit them to the provincial attorney,
or if there be none, to the provincial prosecutor for prompt examina-
tion. The provincial attorney or provincial prosecutor shall, within
a period of ten (10) days from the receipt of the documents, inform
the sangguniang panlalawigan in writing of his comments or recom-
mendations which may be considered by the sauggumang panlala-
wigan in making its decision.
CHAPTER III 139
LAW, ITS CONCEPT AND CLASSIFICATION

(c) If the sangguniang panlalawigan finds that such an


ordinance or resolution is beyond the power conferred upon the
sangguniang panlungsod or sangguniang bayan concerned, it shall
declare such ordinance or resolution invalid in whole or in part. The
sangguniang panlalawigan shall enter its action in the minutes and
shall advise the corresponding city or municipal authorities of the
action it has taken.
(d) If no action has been taken by the sangguniang panlala-
wigan within thirty (30) days after submission of such an ordinance
or resolution, the same shall be presumed consistent with the law
and, therefore, valid.
ARTICLE 111. Review of Barangay Ordinances by the Sang-
guniang Panlungsod or Sangguniang Bayan. - (a) Within ten (10)
days after its enactment, the sangguniang barangay shall furnish
copies of all barangay ordinances to the sangguniang panlungsod
or sangguniang bayan concerned for review as to whether the ordi-
nance is consistent with law and city or municipal ordinances.
(b) If the sangguniang panlungsod or sangguniang bayan, as
the case may be, fails to take action on barangay ordinances within
thirty (30) days from receipt thereof, the same shall be deemed
approved.
(c) If the sangguniang panlungsod or sangguniang bayan, as
the case may be, finds the barangay ordinances inconsistent with
law or city or municipal ordinances, the sanggunian concerned shall,
within thirty (30) days from receipt thereof, return the same with
its comments and recommendations to the sangguniang barangay
concerned for adjustment, amendment or modification; in which
case, the effectivity of the barangay ordinance is suspended until
such time as the revision called for is effected.
ARTICLE 112. Enforcement of Ordinances or Resolutions After
Disapproval by Reviewing Authority. - Any attempt to enforce any
disapproved ordinance or resolution adopting the local development
plan and public investment program. After disapproval by the local
chief executive or by the reviewing authority shall be sufficient
ground for the suspension or dismissal of the official or employee
concerned.
ARTICLE 113. Effectivity of Ordinances and Resolutions. -
Unless otherwise stated in the ordinance or resolution approving the
local development plan and public investment program, the same
shall take effect after ten (10) days from the date a copy thereof is
140 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

posted in a bulletin board at the entrance of the provincial capitol or


city, municipal, or barangay hail, as the case may be, and in at least
two (2) other conspicuous places in the LGU concerned.

VIII. EFFECTIVITY OF LAWS

WHEN SHALL A LAW TAKE EFFECT?


Before the ruling in Tafiada v. Tuvera (146 SCRA 446), this
question is answered by the express provisions of Article 2 of the
Civil Code and the old ruling in A5kay v. Cosalon (46 Phil. 17.9) and
in Balbuena v. Secretary of Education. (G.R. No. L-14283, November
29, 1960) Hence, if a law provides for its own effectivity, or "upon
approval," the publication in the official gazette is not necessary so
long as it is not punitive in character.
This is no longer applicable. In accordance with the ruling in
Tafiada v. Tuvera (ibid.), all laws, including those of local application
and private laws, shall be published first and this requirement shall
be a condition for their effectivity. Reason: Lack of publication is a
violation of the due process clause of the constitution. Due process
of law contemplates notice and opportunity to be heard before
judgment is rendered against anyone.

SCOPE OF TANADA v. TUVERA


Taflada v. Tuvera (ibid) applies to all laws, including to those
of local application. It does not apply, however, to interpretative
regulations and to those merely internal in nature.

EFECTIVITY OF PRESIDENTIAL ISSUANCES


Publication is also a prerequisite for their effectivity. Hence,
they take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their
publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general
publication.
However, those which are treated as interpretative regulations
or which are internal in nature, and not concerning the public, need
not be published.

EFFECTIVITY OF ORDINANCE
Under 3ection 11 of the Local Government Code, an ordinance
enacted by a local government shall take effect after the lapse of
CHAPTER III 141
LAW, ITS CONCEPT AND CLASSIFICATION

ten (10) days from the date a copy of it is posted in a bulletin board
located in a conspicuous place at the provincial, city, municipal or
barangay hail, at the public market, and/or at the church or chapel.
In highly urbanized cities, the main features of the ordinance
must, in addition thereto, be published in a newspaper of general
circulation in the city. (Section 11[2], B.P. 337, or the Old Local
Government Code)

IX. WHO ARE SUBJECT TO PHILIPPINE LAWS?


Laws relating to family rights and duties or to the status,
condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of
the Philippines, even though living abroad. (Article 15, New Civil
Code)
Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law
of the country where it is situated.
However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with
respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional
rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall
be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is
under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property
and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found.
(Article 16, New Civil Code)
Matters respecting remedies, such as the bringing of suit, the
admissibility of evidence, and the statute of limitations, depend
upon the law of the place where the suit is brought. (Government v.
Frank, 13 Phil. 236)
CHAPTER IV
VALIDITY AND CONSTITUTIONALITY OF STATUTES

I. VALIDITY AND CONSTITUTIONALITY OF STATUTES


The three branches of our government have their respective
functions and responsibilities. The persons entrusted with power in
any one of those branches shall not be permitted to encroach upon
the power confided to the others, but that each shall, by the law
of its creation, be limited to the exercise of the powers appropriate
to its own department and no other. There must be independence
and equality of the several departments. The completeness of their
separation and their mutual independence does not, however, extend
to the point that those in authority in one department can ignore
and treat the acts of those in authority in the other, done pursuant
to the authority vested in them, as nugatory and not binding in
every other department. (Kilbourn v. Thompson, 108 U.S. 168, 190
251. ed. 377, 386; Abveua v. Wood, 45 Phil. 612)
There is, however, no absolute separation of the three depart-
ments of government. Each department is given certain powers by
which it may definitely restrain the others from exceeding their con-
stitutional authority. Hence, from time to time, the Supreme Court
is called upon to make a determination if a law is constitutional or
not. It is in such cases when the Supreme Court, as final arbiter, as-
serts its power of judicial review and makes a final judgment.
As the ultimate guardian of our Constitution, the Supreme
Court is indeed the court of last resort on petitions to declare a law
unconstitutional. As much as possible, however, it will try to avoid
going into the issue of constitutionality, if there is any available
ground to decide a case. There will always be a presumption in favor
of the constitutionality of the statute. It will be presumed that the
law has been the subject of study and careful deliberation before it
was finally enacted.

142
CHAPTER IV 143
VALIDITY AND CONSTITUTIONALITY OF STATUTES

In this jurisdiction, no constitutional question will be heard


unless the following requisites of judicial inquiry are. complied with,
to wit:
1. There must be an actual case or controversy;
2. The question of constitutionality must be raised by the
proper party;
3. The constitutional question must be raised at the earliest
possible opportunity; and
4. The decision of the constitutional question must be
necessary to the determination of the case itself.

II. ACTUAL CASE OR CONTROVERSY


There must be an actual conflict, which needs judicial
determination. It is not a dispute, which is hypothetical, or one that
is moot or academic.
It must be a concrete case that is real, one that admits of specific
relief and definite determination of the legal rights of the parties

III. PROPER PARTY


A proper party is one who has sustained or is in danger of
sustaining an injury as a result of the act complained of.

IV. EARLIEST OPPORTUNITY


As a general rule, a constitutional question must be raised in
the pleadings, otherwise, they cannot be considered during the trial.
This rule is subject to the following exceptions:
1. In criminal cases, the constitutional question can be
raised at any time in the discretion of the court.
2. In civil cases, the constitutional question can be raised at
any stage if it is necessary to the determination of the case
itself.
3. In every case, except where there is estoppel, the consti-
tutional question can be raised at any stage if it involves
jurisdiction of the court. (Philippine British Assurance
Co., Inc. v. Mangune, G.R. No. L-24902, November 26,
1970; Uypuanco v. Leuterio, G.R. No. L-22706, March
1969)
144 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

V. DECISION OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTION


IS NECESSARY TO DETERMINE THE CASE ITSELF
A constitutional question may have been raised but the
Supreme Court may not find it necessary to resolve it on the ground
that the matter brought before it is a political question, or that the
petitioner was estopped from impugning the constitutionality of
the law. The Supreme Court will finally act on the constitutional
question before it only when there are no other available grounds
which it can base its decision. In any case, the requisites of a judicial
inquiry should be complied with.

VI. EFFECT OF UNCONSTITUTIONAL STATUTE


The effects will depend on whether the statute is totally or
partially declared unconstitutional.

VII. IF TOTALLY DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL


First View - An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers
no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates
no office; it is, in legal contemplation, inoperative as though it has
never been passed.
Second View - An unconstitutional statute is nevertheless
a statute; that is, a legislative act. Such a statute is commonly
spoken of as void. The Supreme Court cannot set aside a statute
as it can a municipal ordinance, it simply ignores statutes deemed
unconstitutional.
A similar ruling was enunciated in Shepard v. Barren (194 U.S.
553). Here, the court also refused to recognize the statute and to rec-
ognize the rights of the parties as if the statute has no existence. In
ignoring the statute, the court may give its reasons, but the decision
affects the parties only and there is no judgment against the statute.

VIII. IF PARTIALLY DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL


When a part of a statute is void as repugnant to the Organic law,
while another part is valid, THE VALID PORTION, IF SEPARABLE
FROM THE INVALID, MAY STAND AND BE ENFORCED.
When is a valid portion separable?
It is separable when it can stand independently as a separate
statute. In this case, it may be fair to presume that the legislature
would have enacted it by itself if it has supposed that it could
constitutionally do so.
CHAPTER IV 145
VALIDITY AND CONSTITUTIONALITY OF STATUTES

IX. WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF A STATUTE WHICH


IS DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL?
There are two (2) schools of thought on this question.
1. ORTHODOX VIEW— Article 7 of the Civil Code, which
provides that "when the courts declare a law to be incon-
sistent with the Constitution, the former shall be void
and the latter shall govern," represents the orthodox
view. Under this view, an unconstitutional act, whether
legislative or executive, is not a law, confers no rights, im-
poses no duties and affords no protection. This view finds
support in the well-settled doctrine that the Constitution
is supreme and provides for the validity of legislative or
executive acts. For this reason, neither the legislative
nor the executive branch, or the judiciary has the power
under the Constitution to act contrary to its terms. Any
attempted exercise of power in violation of its provisions
is to that extent unwarranted and null. (Fernandez v. Cu-
erva, 21 SCRA 1095, 1106 [1967])
2. THE SECOND VIEW— Under this view, the Supreme
Court simply ignores statutes deemed unconstitutional.
(Allisan v. Corker, 60 L.R.A. 564) It does not strike
the statute from the statute books; it does not repeal,
supersede, revoke, or annul the statute.
The orthodox view has been applied as early as the case of
Springer v. Government of the Philippine Islands, (297 U.S. 189)
but this was expanded with more vigor in Fernandez v. Cuerva (21
SCRA 1095, 1106) by no less than former Chief Justice Enrique
Fernando. It is in this case where this ruling was enunciated.

"Where the assailed legislative or executive act


is found by the judiciary to be contrary to the Con-
stitution, it is null and void. As the new Civil Code
puts it: "When the courts declare a law to be incon-
sistent with the Constitution, the former shall be
void and the latter shall govern." Administrative or
executive acts, orders and regulations shall be valid
only when they are not contrary to the laws or the
Constitution." The above provision of the Civil Code
reflects the orthodox view that an unconstitutional
act, whether legislative or executive, is not a law,
confers no rights, imposes no duties, and affords no
146 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

protection. This doctrine admits of qualifications,


however. As the American Supreme Court stated:
"The actual existence of a statute prior to such a
determination [of constitutionality], is an operative
fact and may have consequences which cannot al-
ways be erased by a new judicial declaration. The
effect of the subsequent ruling as to invalidity may
have to be considered in various aspects - with
respect to particular regulations, individual and
corporate, and particularconduct, private andof-
ficial."
The orthodox view finds support in the well-
settled doctrine that the Constitution is supreme and
provides the measure for the validity of legislative or
executive acts. Clearly then, neither the legislative
nor the executive branch, and for that matter much
less, this Court, has power under the Constitution to
act contrary to its terms. Any attempted exercise of
power in violation of its provisions is to that extent
unwarranted and null.
The growing awareness of the role of the
judiciary as the governmental organ which has the
final say on whether or not a egislative or executive
measure is valid leads to a more appreciative
attitude of the emerging concept that a declaration
of nullity may have legal consequences which the
more orthodox view would dny. That for a period
of time such a statute, treaty, executive order, or
ordinance was in "actual existence" appears to be
indisputable. What is more appropriate and logical
then than • to consider it as "azoperative fact."

X. WHAT IS THE EXTENT OF1 JUDICIAL POWER TO


DECLARE THE UNCONSTITUTIONALITY OF
ASSAILED LEGISLATIVE AND EXECUTIVE ACTS?
As a rule, our courts, particularly. our Supreme Court, have the
power to declare said acts to be unconstitutional if indeed they are
contrary to the Constitution. Out of respect, however, to the prin-
ciple of separation of powers, our courts have shown restraint in de-
daring the.ame to be totally unconstitutional, if it is still possible,
for instance, to salvage the valid portions of a statute from those
CHAPTER IV 147
VALIDITY AND CONSTITUTIONALITY OF STATUTES

which, in their assessment, should be declared illegal and uncon-


stitutional. In this manner the will of the legislature is given effect,
and the cardinal rule that the legislature intended right and justice
to prevail, is given importance.
In Ty v. Trampe, (250 SCRA 500) it was held that the constitu-
tionality of a law, regulation, ordinance or act will not be resolved by
the courts if the controversy can be settled on other grounds.

XL REQUISITES FOR DECLARATION OF PARTIAL


UNCONSTITUTIONALITY
Declaration of partial unconstitutionality is valid only if two
conditions concur, thus:
That the legislature is willing to retain the valid portion
even if the rest is declared illegal; and
2. That the valid portions can stand independently as a
separate statute.
The legislature manifests its willingness to retain the valid
portions if the law itself contains a separability clause. This clause
contains a proviso to the effect that if a provision in the law is declared
invalid or unconstitutional, the remainder of the act shall not be
affected by such declaration of invalidity or unconstitutionality. But
even without such clause, the remaining provisions of the law which
are valid must express the legislative will independently of the void
part since the court has no power to legislate. (Barrameda v. Moir,
25 Phil. 44)

EXAMPLES:
In Lim v. Pacquing (240 SCRA 649) Section 3 of PD No.
771 is violative of Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution.
Reason: Section 3 offends the Constitution, which
demands faithful compliance with the requirement of due
process, equal protection of the law, and non-impairment
of contracts.
2. The Bar Flunkers bill was sustained insofar as it amend-
ed the Rules of Court prospectively but the part thereof
which retroactively reduced the passing average in the
bar examinations was declared unconstitutional, the
same being an encroachment to functions belonging to
the judiciary.
CHAPTER V
GENERAL PRINCIPLES IN THE
CONSTRUCTION OF STATUTES

I. STATUTES MUST BE READ AND CONSTRUED


AS A WHOLE
It is basic that a statute must be read and construed in its en-
tirety. Hence, each provision of the statute should be construed in
relation to the other provisions of the statute.
Parts of a statute are not to be viewed in isolation because a
statute is passed and approved as a whole, and more than this, there
is a precise purpose why it was enacted. It is this purpose of the stat-
ute as a whole that is subject of ascertainment.
In trying to ascertain legislative intent, courts should first be
guided by intrinsic aids, or those found in the law itself. There is
no need to make use of extrinsic aids, or those found outside of the
written language of the law, if the legislative intent could be ascer-
tained by merely making use of intrinsic aids. (Casela v. CA, G.R.
No. L-26754, October 16, 1970)
These intrinsic aids are the title, preamble, the words, phrases
and sentences, context, punctuations, headings and marginal notes,
legislative definition, and interpretation clauses. All these must be
read and construed as a whole, instead of viewing them in isolation.

II. LEGISLATIVE INTENT MUST BE ASCERTAINED


FROM THE STATUTE AS A WHOLE
OPTIMA STATULI INTERPRETATIX EST IPSUM
STATUTUM. The best interpreter of the statute is the statute
itself. Hence, in the construction of statutes, what is of prevailing
importance is to discover the legislative intent why the law is
enacted. This intent is primarily determined from the language of
the statute.

148
CHAPTERV 149
GENERAL PRINCIPLES IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF STATUTES

The court's honest belief that the legislature intended to enact


a law different to what it actually enacted is of no moment. Neither
can the courts determine whether the statute is wise for that is not
its duty. Its duty is to find out the legislative intent, and this can be
done by construing the statute as a whole, by considering one part
of the statute in relation to the other parts, and by harmonizing all
the provisions of the statute whenever possible.
It is to be presumed that the purpose of the legislature is to
make every part of the statute effective.
The basis of this rule is the Latin Maxim - UT R.ES MAGIS
QUAM PEREAT. This means that it is not enough that a statute
should be given effect as a whole but that effect should be given to
each of the provisions in the statute.
This rule applies to amendments because it is presumed that
the legislature, in making changes in the law, finds that there is a
necessity for said amendments. This is a legislative function which
is beyond the domain of the courts.
The cases below illustrate the principles herein discussed.

New Case:
LORENZO T. TANGGA-AN v.
PHILIPPINE TRANSMARINE CARRIERS, INC., et al.,
G.R. No. 180636, March 13, 2013
FACTS:
This is a case for illegal dismissal with a claim for the payment
of salaries corresponding to the unexpired term of the contract,
damages and attorney's fees filed by Lorenzo Tangga-an against the
Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Inc., Universe Tankship Delaware
LLC, and Carlos C. Salinas.
It was alleged that Tangga-an entered into an overseas employ-
ment contract with Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Inc. (PTC) for
and in behalf of its foreign employer, Universe Tankship Delaware,
LLC. Under the contract, he was to be employed for a period of six
months as chief engineer of the vessel S.S. "Kure" with US$5,000 as
basic salary, vacation leave pay of US$2,500 per month, and US$700
tonnage bonus a month.
On February 11, 2002, he was deployed. On or about Mar. 13,
2002, the vessel berthed at a port in Japan to discharge its cargo.
150 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Thereafter, it sailed to the U.S.A. While the vessel was still at sea,
the master required him and the rest of the Filipino Engineer Offi-
cers to report to his office where they were informed that they would
be repatriated on account of the delay in the cargo discharging in
Japan.
Tangga-an filed a Complaint for illegal dismissal with prayer
for payment of salaries for the unexpired portion of his contract,
leave pay, exemplary and moral damages, attorney's fees and inter-
est.
The Labor Arbiter (LA) rendered a decision finding the peti-
tioner to have been illegally dismissed As regards to the claim for
back salaries, it ruled that he is not entitled to four months which
is equivalent to the unexpired portion of his contract, but only to
three months, inclusive of vacation leave pay, and tonnage bonus
pursuant to Section 10 of RA No. 8042 or The Migrant Workers and
Overseas Filipinos Act of 2005.
The NLRC affirmed the decision of the LA. Respondent's
motion for reconsideration was denied.
The CA modified the NLRC decision, as to monetary awards, it
considered only basic monthly salary and disregarded the monthly
vacation leave pay and tonnage bonus and likewise held that the
"unexpired portion of contract" for which he is entitled to back
salaries should only be three months pursuant to Section 1017 of
RA No. 8042.
Petitioner filed a Motion for (Partial) Reconsideration, but was
denied. Thus, he filed the instant Petition.

ISSUE:
Whether the indemnity awarded by the CA in petitioner's favor
consisting only of three months basic salaries conforms with the
proper interpretation of Section 10 of RA No 8042

RULING:
The Supreme Court held that in resolving petitioner's
monetary claims, the CA utterly misinterpreted the Court's ruling
in Skippers Pacific, Inc v Skippers Maritime Services, Ltd., using it
to support a view which the latter case precisely ventured to strike
down. In that case, the employee was hired as the vessel's Master
on a six-month employment contract, but was able to work for
only two months, as he was later on illegally dismissed. The Labor
CHAPTER 151
GENERAL PRINCIPLES IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF STATUTES

Arbiter, NLRC, and the CA all took the view that the complaining
employee was entitled to his salary for the unexpired portion of his
contract, but limited to only three months pursuant to Section 1024
of RA No. 8042. The Court did not agree and hence modified the
judgment in said case. It held that, following the wording of Sec. 10
and its ruling in Marsaman Manning Agency, Inc. v. National Labor
Relations Commission, when the illegally dismissed employee's
employment contract has a term of less than one year, he shall be
entitled to recovery of salaries representing the unexpired portion of
his employment contract. Indeed, there was nothing even vaguely
confusing in the Court's citation therein of Marsaman
In Marsaman Manning Agency, Inc. v. NLRC, involving Section
10 of RA No. 8042, it was held:
"[The Court] cannot subscribe to the view that private re-
spondent is entitled to three (3) months salary only. A plain
reading of Section 10 clearly reveals that the choice of which
amount to award an illegally dismissed overseas contract
worker, i.e., whether his salaries for the unexpired portion of
his employment contract or three (3) months salary for every
year of the unexpired term, whichever is less, comes into play
only when the employment contract concerned has a term of
at least one (1) year or more. This is evident from the [word-
ing] "for every year of the unexpired term" which follows the
[wording] "salaries x x x for three months." To follow petition-
ers' thinking that private respondent is entitled to three (3)
months salary only simply because it is the lesser amount is
to completely disregard and overlook some words used in the
statute while giving effect to some. This is contrary to the well-
established rule in legal hermeneutics that in interpreting
a statute, care should be taken that every part or word
thereof be given effect since the law making body is pre-
sumed to know the meaning of the words employed in
the statute and to have used them advisedly. Ut res ma-
gis valeat quam pereat." (Emphasis supplied)
It is not disputed that private respondent's employment
contract in the instant case was for six (6) months Hence, no
reason to disregard the ruling in Marsaman that private re-
spondent should be paid his salaries for the unexpired portion
of his employment contract.
Thus, petitioner must be awarded his salaries corresponding
to the unexpired portion of his six-month employment contract,
152 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

or equivalent to four months. This includes all his corresponding


monthly vacation leave pay and tonnage bonuses which are expressly
provided and guaranteed in his employment contract as part of his
monthly salary and benefit package. These benefits were guaranteed
to be paid on a monthly basis, and were not made contingent.

Old Case:

MERIDIAN ASSURANCE CORPORATION v. DAYRIT


G.R. No. 1-59154, April 3, 1990
FACTS:
In a suit by the First Western Bank and Trust Company
against Atlas Timber Company, et al., the trial judge rendered
judgment ordering Meridian Assurance Corporation to pay First
Western the sum of $21,933.38 or its equivalent in pesos at the rate
of P3.9390 to a dollar, with interest at the legal rate from the filing
of the complaint.
Thereafter, Meridian wrote First Western offering to pay
the amount of the judgment with 6% interest per annum and
the approved costs of P237. First Western rejected the offer, its
view being that the rate of interest should be 12 % per annum in
accordance with Central Bank Circular No. 416.
Meridian then filed with the trial court a motion manifesting
its deposit with the court of the amount of P170,061.03 representing
the principal indebtedness, the 6% interest on the principal debt
at 6% per annum, and costs of the suit, praying that the deposit be
allowed, that it be considered full satisfaction of the judgment, and
that enforcement of the writ of execution be restrained. The trial
court denied the motion stating that Central Bank Circular No. 416
had changed the legal rate of interest from 6% to 12% per annum.

ISSUE:
The sole issue concerns the rate of interest properly imposable
in relation to a judgment for payment of money: 6%, as provided
by Article 2209 of the Civil Code; or 12% conformably with Central
Bank Circular No. 416.

HELD:
1. The issue has already been passed upon and resolved by the
Court in two earlier cases. In one case, the Court held that
CHAPTER V 153
GENERAL PRINCIPLES IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF STATUTES

the "judgments spoken of and referred to are (only) judgments


in litigation involving loans or forbearance of any money,
goods or credits." It declared that any other kind of monetary
judgment which has nothing to do with, nor involving loans or
forbearance of any money, goods or credits does not fall within
the coverage of the said law (PD No. 116) for it is not within
the ambit of the authority granted to the Central Bank. The
Monetary Bank may not tread on forbidden grounds. It cannot
rewrite other laws. That function is vested solely with the
legislative authority.
2. Section 1-a of Act No. 2655, as amended, which, as
distinguished from Section 1 of the same law, appears to be the
actual and operative grant of authority to the Monetary Board
of the Central Bank to prescribe maximum rates of interest
where the parties have not stipulated thereon, in excluding
mention of rates allowed in judgments, should, at the least be
considered as limiting the authority thus granted only to loans
or forbearances of money, etc., and to judgments involving such
loans or forbearances.

III. COURTS HAVE THE DUTY TO RECONCILE OR


HARMONIZE THE DIFFERENT PROVISIONS OF
THE STATUTE INCLUDING THE CONFLICTING
PROVISIONS THEREOF
Each provision in a statute is inserted for a definite reason.
The one who drafted the law may have a good reason for inserting
provision, which the reader may not see or appreciate. The courts
therefore have the duty to reconcile or harmonize so far as practi-
cable the various parts and provisions of a statute, including the
conflicting provisions thereof, so as to make them consistent, har-
monious and sensible. It is only through this that the statute will be
given effect as a whole.

IV. AS A RULE, THE STATUTE OF LATER DATE


PREVAILS
Where two statutes of different dates and of contrary tenor are
of equal theoretical application to a particular case, the statute of
later date prevails.
The statute of a later date is presumed to be the latest
expression of legislative will on the subject. Hence, Section 44(c) of
the Judiciary Act of 1948 should give way to the provisions of the
154 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Tariff Customs Code and to HA No. 1937, which took effect on July
1, 1957, much later than the Judiciary Act of 1948. Besides, it is
more reasonable to conclude that the legislators intended to divest
the Court of First Instance of the prerogative to replevin a property
that is subject of seizure and forfeiture proceedings for violation of
the Tariff and Customs Code. (Pacis v. Averia, G.R. No. L-22526,
November 29, 1966)

V. GENERALIA SPECIALIBUS NON DEROGANT


Special provisions prevail over the general provisions. (Black
in Interpretation of Laws, 2nd edition, pp. 328-329) However, if it is
possible to harmonize the general and special provisions, said rule
shall not apply.
Special provisions prevail regardless of the position it occupies
in the statute, and whether it comes earlier or later than the general
one.

VI. A SPECIAL LAW PREVAILS OVER


A GENERAL LAW
In Fiestan v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 81552, May 28,
1990, the mortgagor sought the nullity of the extrajudicial foreclo-
sure sale on the ground that the mortgagee (DBP) cannot acquire
by purchase the mortgaged property at the public auction sale by
virtue of paragraph 2 Article 1491 and paragraph 7 of Article 1409
of the Civil Code which prohibits agents from acquiring by purchase,
even at a public or judicial auction, either in person or through the
mediation of another, the property whose administration or sale
may have been entrusted to them, unless the consent of the princi-
pal has been given.
The Supreme Court ruled that the prohibition mandated by
paragraph 2 of Article 1491 in relation to Article 1409 of the Civil
Code does not apply where the sale of the property was made under
a special power inserted in or attached to the real estate mortgage
pursuant to Act No 3135, as amended
As between a specific statute and a general statute, the former
must prevail since it evinces the legislative intent more clearly than
a general statute does. The Civil Code (RA No. 386) is of general
character, while Act No. 3135, as amended, is a special enactment
and therefore the latter must prevail.
CHAPTER V 155
GENERAL PRINCIPLES IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF STATUTES

UnderAct No. 3135, as amended, a mortgagee creditor is allowed


to take part in the bidding and purchase under the same conditions
as any other bidder. Section 5 of Act No. 3135, as amended, creates
and is designed to create an exception to the general rule that a
mortgagee or trustee in a mortgage or deed of trust which contains
a power of sale on default may not become the purchaser, either
directly or through the agency of a third person, at a sale which he
himself makes under the power. Under such exception, the title of
the mortgagee creditor over the property cannot be impeached or
defeated on the ground that the mortgagee cannot be a purchaser
at his own sale.

EXCEPTIONS TO THIS RULE


The said rule is subject to the following exceptions:
(1) The general law prevails over the special law when it
treats the subject in particular and the special law refers
to it in general; (Bagatsing v. Ramirez, G.R. No. 41631,
December 17, 1976)
(2) The general law prevails over the special law when the
legislature intended the general enactment to cover the
whole subject and to repeal all prior laws inconsistent
therewith. (Lechoco v. Civil Aeronautics Board, 43 SCRA
670)

VII. PARI MATERIA RULE


Under this rule, all statutes relating to the same subject, or
having the same general purpose, should be read and construed
together as if they constituted one law. (C.J.S. pp. 803-806) They
shall then be construed and harmonized with the existing law.
This rule is founded on the assumption that in enacting a law,
the legislature has in mind the previous statutes relating to the
same subject matter, and in the absence of any express repeal or
amendment the new statute is deemed enacted in accordance with
the legislative policy embodied in the previous statutes that it en-
acted.
This rule is subject to two qualifications:
If two or more statutes on the same subject were enacted
at different times and under different conditions and cir-
156 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

cumstances, THEIR INTERPRETATION SHOULD BE


IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CIRCUMSTANCES OR
CONDITIONS PECULIAR TO EACH. (This rule is based
on the Latin Maxim DISTINGUE TEMPRA ET CON-
CORDABIS JURA)
2. A statute will not be construed as repealing prior act or
acts on the same subject unless the new law is evidently
intended to all prior laws on the matter.
In case of doubt, the doubt will be resolved against implied
amendment or repeal and in favor of harmonization of all laws on
the subject.

VIII. IN INTERPRETING REENACTED STATUTES,


THE COURT WILL FOLLOW THE
CONSTRUCTION WHICH SUCH STATUTE
RECEIVED WHEN PREVIOUSLY IN FORCE
A reenacted statute is a statute, which reenacts a previous
statute. In reenacting the provisions of a previous statute, it is
presumed that the legislature has the intention of adopting the
construction and the language of the previous act. Hence, when a
provision in the City Charter of Manila regarding prosecution of
crimes by the City Fiscal was incorporated in the charter of the
City of Bacolod, it was ruled that the framers of the charter of the
City of Bacolod has reproduced the provision of the City Charter of
Manila with the intention of adopting also its settled interpretation.
Accordingly, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the City
Charter of Manila to the effect that ("the prosecuting attorney of
the City of Manila shall have charge of the prosecution of all crimes,
misdemeanors and violations of city ordinances, in the Court of
First Instance and municipal courts of the City of Manila. He shall
investigate all charges of crimes, misdemeanors and violations of
ordinances and prepare the necessary information or make the
necessary complaints against the persons accused, and discharge
all other duties in respect to criminal prosecutions enjoined
upon provincial fiscals"), means that criminal complaints filed by
offended parties directly with the courts without the intervention
of the City Fiscal of Manila cannot legally be done. This is the same
interpretation that was applied with respect to a criminal complaint
filed by an offended party directly in the City Court of Bacolod City.
(Montelibano v. Ferrer, 97 Phil. 228)
CHAPTER V 157
GENERAL PRINCIPLES IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF STATUTES

IX. IN THE CASE OF ADOPTED STATUTE,


THE INTERPRETATION OF THE COURTS
OF THE STATE FROM WHICH IT IS ADOPTED
SHOULD BE CONSIDERED
Adopted statutes are those which are patterned after, or copied
from the statute of another country. For purposes of construing
an adopted statute, our courts will necessarily be guided by the
interpretation and construction of the courts of the country from
which such statute is taken.
The due process clause and the equal protection clause, which
are still found in our Constitution, are of American origin. It is not
strange that in numerous cases, our courts were guided by Amer-
ican doctrines and principles, which are applicable, and by inter-
pretations that were made in classic decisions of the United States
Supreme Court.
The case of Rubi v. Provincial Board of Mindoro (39 Phil. 660),
is an example. In this case, the Supreme Court made reference to
decisions of the United States Supreme Court when it pronounced
that the guarantee in the fourteenth amendment of the United
States Constitution protects liberty. The pertinent portion of the
decision is as follows:

"Civil liberty may be said to mean that measure of


freedom which may be enjoyed in a civilized community,
consistently with the peaceful enjoyment of like freedom in
others. The right to liberty guaranteed by the Constitution
includes that right to exist and the right to be free from
arbitrary personal restraint or servitude. The term cannot
be drawned into mere freedom from physical restraint of
the person of the citizen, but is deemed to embrace the
right of man to enjoy the faculties to which he has been
endowed by his Creator, subject only to such restraints as
are necessary for the common welfare. As enunciated in a
long array of authorities including epoch-making decisions
of the United States Supreme Court, liberty includes the
right of the citizen to be free to use his faculties in all
lawful ways; to live and work where he will; to earn his
livelihood by any lawful calling; to pursue any vocation,
and for that purpose, to enter into all contracts which
may be proper, necessary, and essential to his carrying
out these purposes to a successful conclusion. The chief
158 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

elements of the guaranty are the right to contract, the


right to choose one's employment, the right to labor, and
the right to locomotion."

Our law on corporation and insolvency is of American origin.


Hence, American decisions may, if applicable, be cited in cases
brought to our courts for decision.

X. IN CASE OF CONFLICT BETWEEN A


COMMON LAW PRINCIPLE AND A STATUTORY
PROVISION, THE LATTER PREVAILS
In Alvendia v. Intermediate Court, G.R. No. L-72138 and
Bonamy v. Justice Paras, G.R. No. 72138, January 20, 1990, the
Supreme Court ruled that equity applies only in the absence of
and never against statutory law or judicial rules of procedure. The
Supreme Court denied the plea of Alvendia that equity be applied in
his favor and ruled that:
"The Alvendias cannot invoke equity as a ground
for reopening the case and making the payment of
the judgment in cash possible, where they had all the
opportunity to make such payments on four occasions but
failed. These are: (1) from the time they got the building
and construction materials worth P107,461.50 from the
petitioner (from June 26 to August 12, 1975) up to the
time they agreed to a compromise agreement on January
6, 1978; (2) from the compromise judgment to the time
execution was ordered by the respondent court (Order
dated December 6, 1979); (3) from the Execution Order
to the Execution Sale (on January 15, 1981); and (4) from
the execution sale up to the end of the redemption period,
finally ending in the final deed of sale. There may be a
moral obligation but if there is no enforceable legal duty,
the action for reconveyance must fail."

On the point that statutory law prevails as against equity, the


Supreme Court said:

"Equity is justice outside legality. It applies only in


the absence of and never against statutory law or judicial
rules of procedure. "Equity follows the law" but where
the law gives a particular remedy and that remedy is
bounded and circumscribed by particular rules, it would
CHAPTER 159
GENERAL PRINCIPLES IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF STATUTES

be improper for the court to take it up where the law


leaves it and to extend it further than the law allows.
Courts exercising equity jurisdiction are bound by rules
of law and have no arbitrary discretion to disregard them.
Equitable reasons will not control against any well-settled
rule of law or public policy."

In Andres v. Manufacturers Hanover & Trust Corporation


(G.R. No. L-82670, September 15, 1989), the Supreme Court laid
down this ruling: "Principles of equity cannot be applied if there
is a provision of law specifically applicable to a case. The common
law principle that were one of two innocent persons must suffer by
a fraud perpetrated by another, the law imposes the loss upon the
party who, by his misplaced confidence, has enabled the fraud to
be committed, cannot be applied in a case which is covered by an
express provision of the New Civil Code, specifically Article 559
Between a common law principle and a statutory provision, the
latter must prevail in this jurisdiction"

XI. IMPLIED REPEALS ARE NOT LEGALLY PRESUMED


IN THE ABSENCE OF A CLEAR AND UNMISTAKABLE
SHOWING OF SUCH INTENTIONS

BATANGAS CATV, INC v THE COURT OF


APPEALS, et at.,
G R No 138810, September 29, 2004
In the resolution of this case, the Supreme Court cited the
historical background regarding NTC's regulatory power over the
CATV industry.

FACTS:
On July 28, 1986, respondent Sangguniang Panlungsod enacted
Resolution No. 210 granting petitioner a permit to construct, install,
and operate a Community Antenna Television (CATV) system in
Batangas City, which provides that petitioner is authorized to charge
its subscribers the maximum rates specified therein, "provided,
however, that any increase of rates shall be subject to the approval
of the Sangguniang Panlungsod."
Sometime in November 1993, petitioner increased its subscrib-
er rates from P88.00 to P180.00 per month. As a result, respondent
Mayor wrote petitioner a letter threatening to cancel its permit un-
less it secures the approval of respondent Sanggumang Panlungsod.
160 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Petitioner then filed with the RTC, Branch 7, Batangas City,


a petition for injunction. It alleged that respondent Sangguniang
Panlungsod has no authority to regulate the subscriber rates
charged by CATV operators because under Executive Order No. 205,
the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has the sole
authority to regulate the CATV operation in the Philippines.
After trial, the trial court enjoined the respondents from
canceling petitioner's permit to operate a Cable CATV system in the
City of Batangas.
Upon respondents' appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and
set aside the trial court's decision; hence, this petition.

ISSUE:
Is Executive Order No. 205 impliedly repealed by RA No. 7160?

HELD:
At any rate, [the Court] find[s] no basis to conclude that RA
No. 7160 repealed Executive Order No. 205, either expressly or
impliedly. It is noteworthy that RA No. 7160 repealing clause, which
painstakingly mentions the specific laws or the parts thereof which
are repealed, does not include Executive Order No. 205.
Neither is there an indication that Executive Order No. 205
was impliedily repealed by RA No. 7160. It is a settled rule that
implied repeals are not lightly presumed in the absence of a clear
and unmistakable showing of such intentions.
CHAPTER VI
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION OF SPECIFIC STATUTES

SPECIFIC STATUTES
There are several kinds of statutes and each statute has its
own rules of construction.

RULES OF CONSTRUCTION OF THE FOLLOWING


STATUTES
I. AS TO NATURE
1. Penal statutes
2. Remedial statutes
3. Substantive statutes
4. Labor statutes
5. Tax statutes
II. AS TO APPLICATION
1. Mandatory
2. Directory
III. AS TO PERFORMANCE
1. Permanent
2. Temporary
IV. ASTOSCOPE
1. General
2. Special
3. Local
V. OTHER CLASSIFICATIONS
1. A statute could either be prospective or retroactive

161
162 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

2. A statute could either be a repealing or amendatory act


3. A statute could either be a reference statute or a declara-
tory statute
VI. OTHER STATUTES

CONSTRUCTION OF EACH STATUTE


I PENAL STATUTES
Those, which impose punishment for an offense, committed
against the State. Statutes, which command or prohibit certain acts
and establish penalties for their violation, are considered as penal
statutes.

HOW ARE PENAL STATUTES INTERPRETED?


Penal statutes are interpreted against the State and liberally
in favor of the accused (People v Purisima, G R Nos L 42050 66,
46229 32 46313 16 and L 46997, November 20 1978) This rule
should not, however, be unreasonably applied as to defeat the true
intent and meaning of the enactment found in the language actually
used (People v Padilla and Von Arend 71 Phil 261)
The language of a penal statute cannot be enlarged beyond
the ordinary meaning of its terms. Only those persons, offenses and
penalties, clearly included, beyond any reasonable doubt, will be
considered within the operation of the statute

II. REMEDIAL STATUTES


Those designed to correct an existing law, redress an existing
grievance, or introduce regulations conducive to the public good. (In
Re: School Dist. No. 6, etc. 278, N. W, p. 792)

HOW ARE REMEDIAL STATUTES CONSTRUED?


Remedial statutes should be liberally construed because they
were enacted by the legislature precisely to improve the law and
so that they will be in harmony with new ideas and conceptions of
justice and proper conduct of men (Crawford Stat Const p 494)

III. SUBSTANTIVE STATUTES


These are laws, which establish rights and duties. (Bstos u.
Lucero, 81 Phil. 640)
CHAPTER VI 163
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION OF SPECIFIC STATUTES

What the law grants, the court cannot deny. (Gonzales v.


Gonzales, 58 Phil. 67) Therefore, the first duty of the judge is to
apply the law, whether it is just or unjust, provided that the law is
clear and there is no doubt.
In case of doubt, the judge should presume that the lawmaking
body intended right and justice to prevail. (Article 10, New Civil
Code)
Substantive laws create rights and duties. When these rights
and duties are therefore stated in clear and categorical language,
there is no more room for construction or interpretation. There is
only room for application. A plain and unambiguous statute speaks
for itself, and any attempt to make it clearer is vain labor and
tends only to obscurity. (Songco, et al. v. National Labor Relation
Commission, G.R. Nos. 50999-51000, March 30, 1990)
Even equity cannot be set up against clear provisions of law
based on public policy. Thus, a sale of a homestead within 5-year
prohibitory period is void ab initio and the same cannot be ratified
nor can it acquire validity through the passage of time. (Teodoro v.
Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 46955, February 27, 1989)
Equitable reasons will not control against any well-settled rule
of law or public policy. (Alvendia v. Intermediate Appellate Court,
G.R. No. L-72138; Bonamy v. Justice Paras, G.R. L-72373, January
22, 1990)
In Llamado v. Court of Appeals (G.R. L-84850, June 29, 1989),
the Supreme Court ruled that a judge must not rewrite a statute,
neither to enlarge nor to contract it. Whatever temptations the
statesmanship of policy-making might wisely suggest, construction
must eschew interpolation and evisceration. He must not read in
any way of creation. He must not read out except to avoid patent
nonsense of internal contradictions. (Underscoring Supplied)

1V. LABOR STATUTES


Those laws that govern the rights and obligations of employers
and employees, providing as well for the rules by which such rights
and obligations may be enforced.

HOW ARE LABOR LAWS INTERPRETED?


Article IV of the New Labor Code answers this question:
It says: "All doubts in the implementation and interpretation of
164 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

the provisions of this code, including its implementing rules and


regulations, shall be resolved in favor of Labor." (Underscoring
supplied)

V. TAX STATUTES
Those, which impose rules and regulations, related to taxation
or to creation of particular sources of revenue such as taxes, fees,
and charges that are needed for the support of government and for
all public needs.
In case of doubt, statutes levying taxes and duties are to be
construed most strongly against the government and in favor of
the subjects or citizens, because burdens are not to be imposed, nor
presumed to be imposed beyond what statutes expressly and clearly
import. (Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Fireman's Fund
Insurance Company, et al., G.R. No. L-30644, 9 March 87, Second
Division, Paras, J.)

HOW ARE TAX STATUTES INTERPRETED?


They are construed strictly against the taxing power and
liberally in favor of the taxpayer. (In Re: Arbuckle's Estate, 18, A.
758) This is because tax laws seek to impose burdens upon persons
and property.
The following rules of construction apply to tax laws:
a. The real purpose of the legislature, if that purpose is
discernible from its statute, will prevail over the literal
import of the words used. (3 Sutherland, Stat. Const. p.
42)
b. The spirit, rather than the letter of an ordinance, deter-
mines the construction thereof, and the court looks less
to its word and more to the context, subject matter, con-
sequence and effect. (Manila Race Horse Owner's Assn. v.
De La Fuente, G.R. No. L-2947, January 11, 1951)
C. The history of the statute should be considered as an aid
in the ascertainment of the intention of the legislature.
(Greenfield v. Meer, CA G.R. No. 156, September 27, 1846)
d. However, tax exemptions, are construed strictly against
taxpayers and in favor of the taxing power. Moreover,
exemptions cannot be claimed unless they are expressly
CHAPTER VI 165
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION OF SPECIFIC STATUTES

provided for in the law. (Collector v. Manila Jockey Club,


98 Phil. 670)

VI. MANDATORY STATUTES


Those which contain words of command or of prohibition, and
non-compliance with the same renders the proceedings to which it
relates illegal and void.

VII. DIRECTORY STATUTES


Those which are permissible or discretionary in nature and
merely outline the act to be done in such a way that no injury can
result from ignoring it or that its purpose can be accomplished in
a manner other than that prescribed and substantially the same
result obtained.
In determining whether a statute is mandatory or directory,
intention of the legislature must be ascertained. The determination
of this intention must not depend on the statute itself. However, the
following tests, while not conclusive or controlling, have often been
used to determine the mandatory or directory nature of statutes and
statutory provisions:
1. TERMINOLOGY - The words or phrases regarded
as making a provision mandatory include "shall" and
"must, "while the word "may" and the phrase "it is lawful"
are usually regarded as permissive or directory.
2. MATERIALITY OF THE PROVISIONS - Statutory
provisions which relate to matters of substance or which
affect substantial rights, and are the very essence of the
thing required to be done, are regarded as mandatory.
Provisions which are not material or which do not affect
any substantial right, and do not relate to the essence of
the thing to be done, so that compliance is a matter of
convenience rather than substance, are considered to be
directory.
3. CONSEQUENCES —A statutory provision is mandatory
where a failure of performance will result to the injury or
prejudice to the substantial rights of interested persons.
If such failure or performance will not result to the
injury or prejudice of the substantial rights of interested
persons, then the provisions is generally regarded merely
as directory.
166 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

4. PENALTY - It is a general rule of construction that


where a legislative provision is accompanied by a penalty
for a failure to observe it, the provision is mandatory.
Otherwise, it is directory.
As already stated, the said tests are not conclusive or controlling.
Hence, while the word "shall" is a word of command and generally
considered as mandatory, it shall be considered as permissive when
it can be gathered from the context as well as from the language of
the statute that such is the apparent intention of the legislature.
The word "may" may, at times, be construed as "shall" if the
statute provides for the doing of some act which is required by
justice or public duty, or where it vests a public body or office with
power and authority to take such action which concerns the public
interest or rights of individuals.
Article 3 of the Labor Code of the Philippines is an example of
a mandatory provision. It provides as follows:
"Article 3. Declaration of Basic Policy. - The
State shall afford protection to labor, promote full employ -
ment, ensure equal work opportunities regardless of sex,
race or creed, and regulate the relations between workers
and employers. The State shall assure the rights of work-
ers to self-organization, collective bargaining, security of
tenure, and just and humane conditions of work."

Section 28, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution is an example of


a directory provision. It provides as follows:

"x x x

(2) The Congress may, by law, authorize


the President to fix within specified limits, and
subject to such limitations and restrictions as it
may impose, tariff rates, import and export quotas,
tonnage and wharfage dues, and other duties or
imposts within the framework of the national
development program of the Government."

In Diokno v. Rehabilitation Finance Corporation, 91 Phil.


608, the Supreme Court ruled that the phrase 'x x x shall subject
to avaihbiity of funds 3r x x" implieg nota m9ndtory, but n
discretionary meaning.
CHAPTER VI 167
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION OF SPECIFIC STATUTES

On this basis, the second sentence in Section 4, Article XIII


of the 1987 Constitution, implies that although the word "shall" is
used, it is directory. It provides as follows:

"Section 4. The state shall, by law, undertake an


agrarian reform program founded on the right of farmers
and regular farmworkers, who are landless, to own directly
or collectively the lands they till or, in the case of other
farmworkers, to receive a just share of the fruits thereof.
To this end, the State shall encourage and undertake
the just distribution of all agricultural lands, subject to
such priorities and reasonable retention limits as the
Congress may prescribe, taking into account ecological,
developmental, or equity considerations, and subject
to the payment of just compensation. In determining
retention limits, the State shall respect the rights of small
landowners The State shall further provide incentives of
voluntary land sharing" (Underlining Supplied)

On the other hand, the use of negative or prohibitory words in


a statute is indicative of the legislative intent to make the statute
mandatory. The words "shall not," "cannot," or "ought not" indicate
positive prohibition.

Examples:
Section 13, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution
"Section 13. No Senator or Member of the House
of Representatives may hold any other office or employ-
ment in the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or
instrumentality thereof, including government owned or
controlled corporations or their subsidiaries, during his
term without forfeiting his seat Neither shall he be ap-
pointed to any office which may have been created or the
emoluments thereof increased during the term for which
he was elected."

Section 6, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution


"Section 6. No person shall be a Member of the House
of Representatives unless he is a natural-born citizen of
the Philippines and, on the day of the election, is at least
twenty-five years of age, able to read and write, and,
except the party list representatives, a registered voter
168 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

in the district in which he shall be elected, and a resident


thereof for a period of not less than one year immediately
preceding the day of the election."

Section 1, Article III of the 1987 Constitution


"Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, lib-
erty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any
person be denied the equal protection of the laws."

VIII. PERMANENT STATUTE


It is a statute whose operation is not limited to a particular
period of time but which continues in force until it is duly altered or
repealed.
Example: New Labor Code

IX. TEMPORARY STATUTE


It is a statute whose life or duration is fixed for a specified
period of time at the moment of its enactment, and continues in
force, unless sooner repealed, until the expiration of the time fixed
for its duration.
Example: PD No. 851 granting 13th Month Pay

It is a statute which relates to persons, entities, or things as


a class or operates equally or alike upon all of a class, omitting no
persons, entity, or thing belonging to a class.
Example: The Family Code

M. SPECIAL STATUTE
It is a statute, which relates to particular persons, entities or
things of a class.
Example: Child and Youth Welfare Law

XII. LOCAL STATUTE


It is a statute whose operation is confined within territorial
limits other than that of the whole state, or applies to any political
subdivision or subdivisions of the state less than the whole, or to
property and persons of a limited portion of the state, or is directed
CHAPTER VI 169
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION OF SPECIFIC STATUTES

to a specific locality or spot, as distinguished from a law which


operates throughout the state.
Example: Law granting autonomy in Southern Philippines

XIII. OTHER STATUTES


1. STATUTES IN DEROGATION OF RIGHTS - Price
control laws are in derogation of common or general
rights. They are generally strictly construed and rigidly
confined to cases clearly within their scope of purpose.

2. STATUTES GRANTING PRIVILEGES - Those who


invoke a special privilege granted by a statute must
comply strictly with its provisions. In the case therefore
of a legislative franchise granted to a firm to operate
electric light and power, on condition that it should start
operation within a specified period, the failure of said firm
to start operation within the specified period is a ground
for forfeiture of the franchise.
3. NATURALIZATION LAWS - These are strictly con-
strued against the applicant because the right of an alien
to become a citizen by naturalization is merely a statutory
right. The desire of an applicant to become a naturalized
citizen will still require the filing of his formal petition
and he has still to prove by satisfactory evidence that he
has all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications
specified by law. In case of doubt, the doubt is resolved
against the applicant (Cu v. Republic, 115 Phil. 600).
4. STATUTES IMPOSING TAXES AND CUSTOM
DUTIES - Generally they are construed strictly against
the taxing power and liberally in favor of the taxpayer.
(In Re: Arbuckle's Estate, 188 A. 758) The reason for this
is because tax laws impose burdens on the public. The
scope of tax laws cannot be enlarged as to include matters
not specifically pointed out. In case of doubt, they are
construed most strongly against the government (Goulds
v. Gould, 62 L. ed. p. 211).
5. STATUTE AUTHORIZING SUITS AGAINST THE
GOVERNMENT - A statute whereby the state gives its
consent to be sued is strictly construed, and the waiver of
immunity from suit, being in derogation of sovereignty,
will not be lightly inferred. (Equitable Ins. & Casualty Co.,
170 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Inc. v. Smith, Bell & Co. [Phil.], Inc., G.R. No. L-24383,
August 26, 1967) To justify a suit against the state or
any of its agencies, the statute conferring the right to
maintain the action must be plain and positive, and its
meaning should not be left to doubt (Compania General
de Tabacco de Filipinas v Government 45 Phil 663)
Article XVI, Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution
declares that the State may not be sued without its
consent. When this consent therefore is given, the State
can be sued but this does not necessarily mean that it
concedes to liability. This only means that the one
bringing the suit is merely given the opportunity to prove
that the State is liable.
The consent of the State to be sued may be given
expressly or impliedly. The first may be given through
a general or special law. The second is given when the
state itself commences litigation or when it enters into
a contract. Here, the state devolves into the level of an
ordinary citizen.
6 STATUTES PRESCRIBING LIMITATIONS ON
THE TAXING POWER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT
UNITS - They are strictly construed against the national
government and liberally in favor of the local government
units. Any doubt as to the existence of the taxing power
will be resolved in favor of the local government The
reason for this is that local government units are now
granted the power to create its own sources of revenue.
Under the 1973 Constitution, the local government units
have no inherent power of taxation
7 STATUTE IMPOSING PENALTIES FOR NON-PAY-
MENT OF TAX - They are liberally construed in favor
of the government and strictly observed and interpreted
against the taxpayer The reason is obvious, this facili-
tates the collection of taxes and penalties and tax eva-
sions will be avoided
8 ELECTION LAWS - They should be construed liberally
to give effect to the expressed will of the electorate
Technicalities should not be allowed to prevail against
the true will of the people
9. ADOPTION STATUTES - They are liberally construed
in favor of the child to be adopted in order to promote the
CHAPTER VI 171
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION OF SPECIFIC STATUTES

noble objectives of the law. Adoption is not merely an act


to establish a relationship of paternity and filiation, but
also as an act which endows a child with a legitimate sta-
tus. (Prasnick v. Republic, 98 Phil. 665) They also supply
solace to those who have no children or to those who have
lost them, so that the void, which exists in a childless
home, may be filled (Yfkigo u. Republic, 93 Phil. 244).
10. AMNESTY PROCLAMATIONS - They should be con-
strued liberally in favor of those who are given amnesty.
The reason for this is to encourage those who have not yet
applied for amnesty to return to the fold of the law and
have normal lives once again.
11. VETERAN AND PENSION LAWS - They should
be liberally construed and administered in favor of the
persons intended to be benefited by such law in order to
achieve the humanitarian purposes of the law.
12. GENERAL WELFARE LEGISLATIONS - They
are construed liberally in favor of those intended to be
benefited. This construction is more in consonance with
the constitutional mandate to promote social justice.
Examples: Labor Code of the Philippines, Social
Security Law, and Agrarian Reform Law
13. PROBATION LAW - It should be liberally construed
to achieve its objective, which is to give another chance to
first offenders to go back to normal life.
14. LAWS ON ATTACHMENT - They are liberally
construed in order to assist the parties in obtaining
speedy justice.
15. RULES OF COURT - Section 6, Rule 1 of the Revised
Rules of Court provides as follows:

"Section 6. These rules shall be liberally con-


strued in order to promote their objective and to
assist the parties in obtaining just, speedy and in-
expensive determination of every action and pro-
ceeding."
16. STATUTES PRESCRIBING QUALIFICATIONS FOR
AN OFFICE - Statutes prescribing the qualifications
of persons to a public office is, as a rule, regarded as
172 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

mandatory. This means that a person, who is not eligible


or qualified at the time that he assumed office, may be
ousted from office at anytime upon discovery that he is
not indeed qualified and eligible.
17. ELECTION LAWS ON QUALIFICATION AND DIS-
QUALIFICATION - These are considered mandatory
even after the elections. Hence, a candidate who filed his
certificate of candidacy beyond the period required by law
is disqualified to run for office, as his certificate is void.
This is true even if the disqualified candidate wins the
election. He still remains unqualified for his election and
does not validate his certificate of candidacy (Sanchez v.
Del Rosario, 1 SCRA 1102).

XIV. OTHER CLASSIFICATIONS


I. A statute could either be prospective or retroactive
PROSPECTIVE STATUTE - It is one which operates upon
or regulates acts or transactions taking place after it takes effect. As
a rule, laws operate prospectively, not retroactively, except in the
following cases:
(a) If the law itself provides that it will be retroactive (Art-
icle 4, New Civil Code);
(b) If the law is remedial in nature;
(c) If the law is penal in nature provided it is favorable to the
accused or the convict, and that the accused or convict
is not a habitual delinquent (Article 22, Revised Penal
Code);
(d) If the law is curative; and
(e) If the law is of an emergency nature and authorized by
the police power of the government.
Article 4 of the New Civil Code provides as follows:

"Article 4. Laws shall have no retroactive effect,


unless the contrary is provided."

In general, laws are prospective, not retroactive, and no court


will hold a statute to be retroactive when the legislature has not
said so. In other words, statutes are to be construed as having only
CHAPTER VI 173
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION OF SPECIFIC STATUTES

prospective operation, unless the legislature intends that they will


have retroactive effect. This could either be made expressly in the
law itself or it could be implied from the language used. In case of
doubt, the doubt will be resolved against the retroactive operation of
laws (Montilla v. Agustinia Corp., 24 Phil. 229).
RETROACTIVE STATUTE - It is one which creates a new
obligation, one which takes away or impairs vested rights acquired
under existing laws, or creates a new obligation and imposes a
new duty, or attaches a new disability in respect of transactions or
considerations already passed (Castro v. Sagales, 94 Phil. 208, 210).
As mentioned earlier, there are times when laws are precisely
made retroactive. When the law itself provides that they shall apply
retroactively, or when the intention to make the law retroactive is
implied from the words used, the problem that may arise is whether
the said law is violative or not of the constitutional provisions on
impairment of obligation and contract, ex post facto law, and bill of
attainder, thus:
"Section 10. No law impairing the obligation of
contracts shall be passed." (Article III, 1987 Constitution)
"Section 22. No ex post facto law or bill of attainder
shall be enacted." (Article III, 1987 Constitution)

A good example of a provision, which expressly provides for the


retroactive effect of the law, is Article 256 of the Family Code to wit:
"Article 256. This Code shall have retroactive
effect insofar as it does not prejudice or impair vested or
acquired rights in accordance with the Civil Code or other
laws."
The retroactive effect of the Family Code, however,
is qualified by the proviso, thus: "x x x insofar as it does
not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in
accordance with the Civil Code or other laws" should be
respected.

II. A statute could either be a repealing act or an amenda-


tory act.
REPEALING ACT - It is one which revokes or terminates
another statute, either by express language or by implication.
(Crawford, Statutory Constitution, p. 110)
174 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

REPEAL
Laws are repealed only by subsequent ones (Article 7, New
Civil Code) and laws are repealed either expressly or impliedly.
However, implied repeals are not looked upon with favor. (U.S. v.
Palacio, 33 Phil. 208) Hence, if both statutes can stand together,
there is no repeal. (Lechoco v. Apostol, 44 Phil. 138)
The Civil Code repeals the Old Civil Code of 1889.
The Family Code has expressly repealed Title III on marriage;
Title IV on legal separation; Title V on rights and obligations
between husband and wife; title VI on property relations between
husband and wife; Title VII on the family; Title VIII on paternity
and filiation; Title IX on support; Title XI on parental authority, and
Title XV on emancipation and age of majority.
Article 254 of the Family Code provides as follows:
"Article 254. Titles III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X
and XV of Book 1 Republic Act No. 386, otherwise known
as the Civil Code of the Philippines, as amended, and
Articles 17, 18, 19, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 39, 40, 41 and 42
of Presidential Decree No. 603, otherwise known as the
Child and Youth Welfare Code, as amended, and all
laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, rules and
regulations, or parts thereof, inconsistent herewith are
hereby repealed."

This article specifies the provisions of the Civil Code and the
Child and Youth Welfare Code that were expressly repealed by the
Family Code.
The closing sentence in Article 254 which states "x x x all laws,
decrees, executive orders, proclamations, rules and regulations, or
parts thereof, inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed," indicates
that the repeal referred to is merely an implied repeal.

THE REPEAL OF A STATUTE IS EITHER


TOTAL OR PARTIAL
A statute, which is totally repealed, is rendered revoked com-
pletely. When the repeal, however, is partial, the portion or portions
not affected by the repeal continue to exist.
Repeal is a question of intent. Express repeal of a statute or any
of its provisions is accomplished by a direct and express provision or
declaration in a subsequent statute so there will be no doubt as to
CHAPTER VI 175
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION OF SPECIFIC STATUTES

what statute is intended. In this case, the courts should respect the
specific intent of the legislature to repeal what it has so specified.
Article 254 of the Family Code specifically enumerates the
provisions of the Civil Code and the Child and Youth Welfare Code
that were repealed by the Family Code
Repeals by implication can be done in two ways (1) By covering
the whole subject matter so that it is intended as a substitute for
the earlier statute, and (2) By containing provisions which are
inconsistent and irreconcilable with the earlier statute.
The courts are slow to hold that a statute has repealed another
by implication If the courts cannot avoid doing so through the use of
a fair and reasonable construction, they will not make adjudication
that a statute has repealed another by implication. This is in accor-
dance with the established principle that repeals and amendments
by implications are not favored (Quisimbing v Lachica G B No
L-14683, May 30, 1961, 2 SCRA 182)
The second sentence in Article 254 of the Family Code which
says "x x x and all laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations,
rules and regulations, or parts thereof, inconsistent herewith are
hereby repealed," gives rise to this question Will that be considered
a repeal? If so, what is it?
It is not an express repeal, unlike the first sentence of Article
254 which states specifically the provisions, and the titles, which are
repealed It is merely an implied repeal because it fails to identify or
designate the act or acts that are intended to be repealed.
AMENDATORY ACT - It makes an addition to the original
laws or it operates to change it
An amendment of a statute is effected through the enactment
of an amendatory act modifying or altering some provisions of the
statute. The amendment could either be express or implied.
There is an express amendment when the amendatory act
specified the provisions of a statute that are amended. There is an
implied amendment where a part of a.prior statute embracing the
same subject has become inconsistent with the new provisions as
amended
How should the amendment be construed?
1. A statute and its amendment should be construed in its
entirety. The amendment becomes part of the original
statute as if it had always been contained therein;
176 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

2. Provisions of the original act which are not affected by the


amendment shall remain in force;
3. The amendment made indicates that the legislature
intended a change in the law or in its meaning. The court
therefore give effect to such intent;
4. As a rule, the amendatory act operates prospectively
unless otherwise provided or if it could be implied from
the language used that the legislature intends to give it
a retroactive effect. Even in the latter case, however, the
amendment cannot be construed retroactively if doing so
will impair vested rights or the obligation of contracts
(People v. Buttler, 120 SCRA 281).

III. A Statute could either be a reference statute, a


supplemental statute, a reenacted statute or an adopted
statute.
REFERENCE STATUTE - It is a statute, which refers to
other statutes and makes them applicable to the subject of legisla-
tion.
A reference statute should be construed as to harmonize with,
and, give effect to, the adopted statute.
This statute is often used to avoid unnecessary repetitions. By
simply making reference to a particular provision in an existing law
and without the need of introducing another law, the rule, provision
or term/s intended to be applied is stated in the reference statute.
Hence, the provision which states that the terms legal or regular
Holiday and Special Holiday, as used in Article 94 of the Labor
Code shall now be referred to as a regular Holiday and Special day,
respectively, indicates that this is a reference statute.
SUPPLEMENTAL STATUTES - They are intended to sup-
ply deficiencies in an existing statutes and to add to, complete, or
extend the statute without changing or modifying its original text.
The original statute and the supplemental act should be con-
strued together in its entirety.
REENACTED STATUTES - They reenact provisions of an
earlier statute. The provisions in the earlier statute are reproduced
in the same words or substantially the same words. The courts will
therefore follow the construction, which the adopted statute previ-
ously received.
CHAPTER VI 177
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION OF SPECIFIC STATUTES

ADOPTED STATUTES - They are statutes patterned after,


or copied from a statute of a foreign country. The construction given
to them by the courts of the country from which they were taken will
be considered by the courts. Such construction, however, will not be
conclusive to our courts.
Our laws on voluntary and involuntary insolvency is in great
part a copy of the Insolvency Act of California, enacted in 1895, which,
in turn, was based upon the United States Bankruptcy Act of 1867
though it contains a few provisions from the American Bankruptcy
Law of 1638 (Sun Life Assurance Co. u. Ingersoll, 42 Phil. 81).
CHAPTER VII
LATIN MAXIMS: THEIR MEANING
AND IMPORTANCE

I. IMPORTANCE OF LATIN MAXIMS


Latin maxims are used not only in interpreting statutes.
They are also used by judges and justices in their decisions to add
elegance to their language and to give emphasis to the legal points
therein discussed. This is so because Roman legal literature is noted
for originality and the style of Roman jurists is simple, clear, brief
and precise.
Likewise, our New Civil Code is Roman in origin. Modern laws
and concepts of persons and family relations, parental authority,
marriage, divorce, concubinage, legitimation, emancipation, adop-
tion, guardianship, property, avulsion, alluvion, traditio brevi
manu, traditio longa manu, constitutum possessorium, obligations
and contracts, nominate and innominate contracts, sale, lease,
agency, pledge, deposits, wills and successions, quasi-delicts, quasi-
contracts, negotiorum gestio, solutio indebiti and many others are
Roman in origin. Notwithstanding the modifications and the enor-
mous improvements that have been made, the Philippines and its
citizens cannot remove the great influence that Roman law still ex-
erts in our day to day life, whether it is in the city or in the remote
barrio. The same thing is true to the rest of the world affected by the
Roman legal system.
Roman law is of enormous value to modern nations. It is at
hand, ready for use and able to shed copious light in the solution of
the numerous complex problems which confront the modern civilized
world. (Sherman, Section 6)

178
CHAPTER VII 179
LATIN MAXIMS: THEIR MEANING AND IMPORTANCE

II. LATIN MAXIMS APPLICABLE TO STATUTORY


CONSTRUCTION
A. ON THE PRINCIPLE THAT LAWS SHOULD BE
PROSPECTIVE, NOT RETROACTIVE

Lex Prospicit, Non The law looks forward, not back-


Respicit ward.

Lex de Futuro. Judex de The law provides for the


Praterio future, the judge for the past.

This principle is still found in Article 4 of our New Civil Code,


which provides as follows:

"Article 4. Laws shall have no retroactive


effect, unless the contrary is provided."

The general rule has not changed. In this jurisdiction, all


statutes are to be construed as having only a prospective operation
unless the purpose and intention of the legislature to give them
retrospective effect is expressly declared or is necessarily implied
from the language. In every case of doubt, the doubt must be resolved
against retrospective effect.
Besides the exceptions to this rule, the Supreme Court in
MRCA, Inc. v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. L-86675, December 19,
1989), enunciated the ruling that statutes regulating the procedure
of the courts will be construed as applicable to actions pending and
undetermined at the time of their passage It is in that sense and to
that extent that procedural laws are retrospective.
In said case, the plaintiff asked the Supreme Court to set
aside the decision of the Court of Appeals, affirming the order of the
Regional Trial Court dismissing the complaint for non-payment of
the proper filing fees as the prayer of the complaint failed to specify
the amounts of moral damages, exemplary damages, attorney's
fees and litigation expenses sought to be recovered by it from the
defendants, but left them "to the discretion of the court" or "to be
proven during the trial."
Invoking the decision of the Supreme Court in Manchester
Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals, (149 SCRA 562) the
180 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

defendants moved to dismiss the complaint. The plaintiff opposed


the motion, but the trial court granted it.
Plaintiff argued that since the decision in the Manchester
case had not yet been published in the Official Gazette when its
complaint was filed, the ruling therein was ineffective; that said
ruling may not be given retroactive effect because it imposes a new
penalty for its non-observance: the dismissal of the complaint for
want of jurisdiction.
The Supreme Court ruled as follows:

(1) Plaintiffs argument regarding the need for publication


of the Manchester's ruling in the Official Gazette before it may be
applied to other cases is not well taken;
(2) The Manchester ruling was applied retroactively in Sun
Insurance Office, Ltd., et al. V. Asuncion, et al., (G.R. No. L-789937-
38, February 13, 1989), a case that was already pending before
Manchester was promulgated;
(3) The complaint in this case was filed on March 24, 1988
or ten months after Manchester was promulgated on May 7, 1987,
hence, Manchester should apply except for the fact that it was
modified in the Sun Insurance case, where we ruled that the court
may allow payment of the proper filing fees "within a reasonable
time but in no case beyond the prescriptive or reglementary period."
Nevertheless, the Supreme Court set aside the decision of the
trial court, and ordered the complaint reinstated and directed the
trial court to allow plaintiff to amend the complaint by specifying
the amounts of damages it seeks to recover from the defendants
and to pay the proper filing fees therefor as computed by the clerk
of court, in line with the Supreme Court's ruling in Sun Insurance
Office Ltd. v. Asuncion.

B. ON THE PRINCIPLE THAT WHEN THE LAW IS CLEAR,


WHAT THE COURTS SHOULD DO IS TO APPLY IT,
NOT TO INTERPRET IT

Absolute Sentencia ExpositoreWhen the language of the law


Non Indiget is clear, no explanation of it is
required.
Optima Statuti Interpretatix The best interpreter of the
Est Insum Statutum statute is the statute itself.
CHAPTER VII 181
LATIN MAXIMS: THEIR MEANING AND IMPORTANCE

This principle has been used and applied in a long line of


cases that have been decided by the Supreme Court. Hence, it is
well-established in this jurisdiction that where the law is clear, the
court's duty is to apply it, not to interpret it (Go Ka Toc & Sons Co. v.
Rice & Corn Board, G. R. No. L-23607, May 23, 1967, 20 SCRA 147).
The old ruling in People v. Mapa, G.R. No. L-22301, August 30,
1967, 20 SCRA 1164, is still unchanged. The Supreme Court said:
"Construction and interpretation come only
after it has been demoiistrated that applicationi is
impossible or inadequate with them. It is not with-
in the power of a court to set aside the clear and
explicit mandate of a statutory provision."

The ruling in Llamado v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-84850,


June 29, 1989, although basically the same as the ruling in People v.
Mapa, is more articulate. The Supreme Court said that "the words
to be given meaning whether they be found in the Constitution or in
a statute, define and therefore limit the authority and discretion of
the judges who must apply those words. If judges may, under cover
of seeking the "true spirit" and "real intent" of the law, disregard the
words in fact used by the law-giver, the judges will effectively escape
the constitutional and statutory limitations on their authority and
discretion."

C. ON THE PRINCIPLE THAT IT IS NOT THE LETTER


OF THE LAW THAT KILLETH, IT IS THE SPIRIT OF
THE LAW THAT GWETH LIFE

Ratio Legis Est Anima The reason of the law is its


soul.
Ratio Legis Interpretation according to
spirit
Cessante Ratione Cesat Ipsa When the reason for the law
Lex ceases, the law ceases also to
exist.

From time to time, this question has been asked: What if the
letter of the law conflicts with its spirit, which prevails?
There are two schools of thought on this matter. In the case
of People v. Sales, et al., G.R. No. L- 66469, July 29, 1986, Justice
182 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Isagani Cruz articulated his thoughts in this manner: "A too literal
reading of the law is apt to constrict rather than fulfill its purpose and
defeat the intention of its authors. That intention is usually found
not in the 'letter that killeth but in the spirit that giveth life,' which
is not really that evanescent or elusive. Judges must look beyond
and not be bound by the language of the law, seeking to discover by
their own lights the reason and the rhyme for its enactment. That
they may properly apply it according to its ends, they need and must
use not only learning but also vision."
The thinking of Justice Isagani Cruz is more in line with
Article 10 of the New Civil Code which says: "In case of doubt in
the interpretation or application of the laws, it is presumed that the
lawmaking body intended right and justice to prevail." This is also
the gist of the decisions of the Supreme Court in the old cases of
Torres v. Limhap, 56 Phil. 141; De Castro v. Olondriz and Escudero,
50 Phil. 725; and in the celebrated case of Dominador Aytona v.
Andres Castillo, et al., G.R. No. L-19313, January 19, 1962.
Former Chief Justice Ramon Aquino, on the other hand, finds
it risky to rely on the "so-called spirit of the law". He said: "It is dan-
gerous to rely on the so-called spirit of the law which we cannot see
nor handle and about which we do not know very much." (Villanue-
va v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. L-54718, December 4, 1985)
The author thinks that it is safer to be guided by the ruling in
Chartered Bank Employees Association v. Ople, G.R. No. L-44717,
August 28, 1985. In the said case, this ruling was pronounced. "If
the language of the law is clear and unequivocal, then read the law
to mean exactly what it says. If not, look for the intention of the
legislature."

D. ON THE PRINCIPLE THAT WHAT IS NOT


INCLUDED IN THOSE ENUMERATED
ARE DEEMED EXCLUDED
Expresio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius - Express mention is
implied exclusion.
This principle has also been used and applied in a litany of
cases. The rule has not changed. The enumeration of specified
matters in a statute is construed, as an exclusion of matters not
enumerated unless a different intention appears.
In Primero v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-48468, November 22,
1989, the Supreme Court ruled that the maxim "expresio unius est
CHAPTER VII 183
LATIN MAXIMS: THEIR MEANING AND IMPORTANCE

exclusio alterius" is only an "ancillary rule of statutory construction."


It is not of universal application. Neither is it conclusive. It should
be applied only as a means of discovering legislative intent which
is not otherwise manifest and should not be permitted to defeat the
plainly indicated purpose of the legislature.

E. ON THE PRINCIPLE THAT SPECIAL PROVISIONS


PREVAIL OVER GENERAL PROVISIONS
Generalia specialibus non derogant - A general law does not
nullify a specific or special law.

MARIA VIRGINIA V. REMO v.


THE HONORABLE SECRETARY
OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
G.R. No. 169202, March 5,2010

FACTS:
Maria Virginia Remo is a Filipino citizen, married to Francisco
R Rallonza, whose Philippine passport was then expiring on Octo
ber 27, 2000 Prior to its expiry, she applied for renewal with the
4

DFA and requested to revert to her maiden name and surname in


the replacement passport while her marriage still subsists
The DFA denied the request. The motion for reconsideration
was also denied. She then filed an appeal with the Office of the
President which the latter dismissed and ruled that Sec 5(d) of RA
No. 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 "offers no leeway for
any other interpretation that only in case of divorce, annulment, or
declaration of nullity of marriage may a married woman revert to
her maiden name for passport purposes." The Office of the President
denied the subsequent motion for reconsideration
Petitioner filed with the CA a petition for review under Rule 43
of the Rules of Civil Procedure. The petition was denied. The motion
for reconsideration was likewise denied.
Hence, this petition

ISSUE
Whether petitioner can revert to the use of her maiden name in
her replacement passport despite the subsistence of her marriage.
184 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

HELD:
The petition lacks merit.
Clearly, a married woman has an option, but not a duty, to use
the surname of the husband in any of the ways provided by Article
370 of the Civil Code. She is therefore allowed to use not only any of
the three names provided in Article 370, but also her maiden name
upon marriage. She is not prohibited from continuously using her
maiden name once she is married because when a woman marries,
she does not change her name but only her civil status. Further, this
interpretation is in consonance with the principle that surnames
indicate descent.
The law governing passport issuance is RA No. 8239 and the
applicable provision in this case is Sec. 5(d), which states:
"Section 5. Requirements for the Issuance of Passport.
- No passport shall be issued to an applicant unless
the Secretary or his duly authorized representative is
satisfied that the applicant is a Filipino citizen who has
complied with the following requirements: x x x
(d) In case of a woman who is married, separated,
divorced or widowed or whose marriage has been an-
nulled or declared by court as void, a copy of the certifi-
cate of marriage, court decree of separation, divorce or
annulment or certificate of death of the deceased spouse
duly issued and authenticated by the Office of the Civil
Registrar General: Provided, That in case of a divorce de-
cree, annulment or declaration of marriage as void, the
woman applicant may revert to the use of her maiden
name: Provided, further, That such divorce is recognized
under existing laws of the Philippines; x x x"
Once a married woman opted to adopt her husband's surname
in her passport, she may not revert to the use of her maiden name,
except in the cases enumerated in Section 5(d) of RA No. 8239. Since
petitioner's marriage to her husband subsists, she may not resume
using her maiden name in the replacement passport.
Even assuming RA No. 8239 conflicts with the Civil Code, the
provisions of RA No. 8239 which is a special law specifically dealing
with passport issuance must prevail over the provisions of Title XIII
of the Civil Code which is the general law on the use of surnames
A basic tenet in statutory construction is that a special law prevails
over a general law, thus:
CHAPTER VII 185
LATIN MAXIMS: THEIR MEANING AND IMPORTANCE

"[l]t is a familiar rule of statutory construction


that to the extent of any necessary repugnancy
between a general and a special law or provision,
the latter will control the former without regard to
the respective dates of passage."

Old Case:
In Solid Homes, Inc. v. Payawal, G.R. No. L-84811, August 29,
1989, it was held that B.P. Big. 129 (Judiciary Reorganization Act)
is the general law, and PD No. 1344 (Decree empowering the Na
tional Housing Authority to issue writs of executions in the enforce-
ment of its decisions under PD No. 957 is the special law.
The conflict sought to be resolved in that case is this: B.P. Big.
129 was promulgated in 1981, after PD No. 957 was issued in 1975
and PD No. 1344 in 1978. In case of conflict between the two, which
prevails?
It was held that in case of conflict between a general law and
a special law, the latter must prevail regardless of the dates of their
enactment. Thus, it has been held that "the fact that one law is spe-
cial and the other general creates a presumption that the special act
is to be considered as remarking an exception of the general act, one
as a general law of the land and the other as the law of the particu-
lar case."
The circumstance that the special law is passed before or after
the general act does not change the principle. Where the special law
is later, it will be regarded as an exception to, or a qualification
of, the general act, and where the general law is later, the special
statute will be construed as remaining an exception to its terms,
unless repealed expressly or by necessarily implication.
In Philippine National Bank v. Cruz, G.R. No. L-80593,
December 18,1989, it was held that whenever two statutes of different
dates and of contrary tenor are of equal theoretical application to a
particular case, the statute of later date must prevail being a later
expression of legislative will.
Thus, the Supreme Court uphold the preference accorded to the
employees in view of the provisions of Article 110 of the Labor Code.
The phrase "any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding"
indicates that such preference shall prevail despite the order set
forth in Articles 2241 and 2245 of the Civil Code. No exceptions
186 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

were provided under said articles. Furthermore, the labor code was
signed into law decades after the Civil Code.

F. ON THE PRINCIPLE THAT WHILE THE LAW


MAY BE HARD, IT IS THE LAW THAT
WILL BE FOLLOWED
Dura Lex Sed Lex - The law may be harsh but it is still the
law.
When the law is clearly worded there is no room for interpre-
tation. It is the sworn duty of the judge to apply the law without
fear or favor. It is not for the courts to decide that the law is unwise.
The duty of the courts is apply the law, whether it is wise or unwise.
(Gonzales u Gonzales 58 Phil 67 U S v Allan 2 Phil 630)

ARNOLD JAMES M. YSIDORO v. PEOPLE OF THE


PHILIPPINES
G R No 192330, November 14, 2012
FACTS
The Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSW
DO) of Leyte, Leyte, operated .a Core Shelter Assistance Program
(CSAP) that provided construction materials to indigent calamity
victims with which to rebuild their homes. The beneficiaries pro-
vided the labor needed for construction.
When construction for calamity victims in Sitio Luy a, Baran
gay Tinugtogan, was 70% done, the beneficiaries stopped reporting
for work for the reason that they had to find food for their families
This worried Lolita Garcia, the CSAP Officer-in-Charge, for such
construction stoppage could result in the loss of construction mate-
rials particularly the cement. Thus, she sought the help of Cristina
Polinio,. an officer of the MSWDO in charge of the municipality's
Supplemental Feeding Program (SFP) that rationed food to mal-
nourished children. Polinio told Garcia that the SFP still had sacks
of rice and boxes of sardines in its storeroom which could be given to
the CSAP beneficiaries
Garcia and Pohmo explained the situation to Arnold James
M. Ysidoro, the Leyte Municipal Mayor, and sought his approval.
Ysidoro approved the release and signed the withdrawal slip for four
sacks of rice and two boxes of sardines worth 113,396.00 to CSAP. He
instructed Garcia and Pohmo, however, to consult the accounting
CHAPTER VII 187
LATIN MAXIMS: THEIR MEANING AND IMPORTANCE

department regarding the matter. Eldelissa Elises, the supervising


clerk of the Municipal Accountants Office, signed the withdrawal
slip on the view that it was an emergency situation justifying the
release of the goods. Subsequently, CSAP delivered those goods
to its beneficiaries. Afterwards, Garcia reported the matter to the
MSWIO and to the municipal auditor as per auditing rules.
Alfredo Doller, former member of the Sangguniang Bayan of
Leyte, filed a complaint against Ysidoro for technical malversation,
when he approved the distribution of SFP goods to the CSAP
beuef1ciarie.

The Sandiganbayan found Ysidoro guilty beyond reason-


able doubt of technical malversation. But, since his action caused
no damage or embarrassment to public service, it only fined him
P1,698.00 or 50% of the sum misapplied. The Sandliganbayan held
that he applied public property to a pubic purpose other than that
for which it has been appropriated by law or ordinance. The Sandi-
ganbayan denied Ysidoro's motion for reconsideration. He appealed
the Sandiganbayan Decision to this Court.

ISSUE:
Whether good faith is a valid defense for technical malversation.

HELD:
The crime of technical malversation as penalized under Article
220 of the Revised Penal Code has three elements: a) that the
offender is an accountable public officer; b) that he applies public
funds or property under his administration to some public use;
and c) that the public use for which such funds or property were
applied is different from the purpose for which they were originally
appropriated by law or ordinance.
Ysidoro insists that he acted in good faith since, first, the idea
of using the SFP goods for the CSAP beneficiaries came, not from
him, but from Garcia and Polinio; and, second, he consulted the
accounting department if the goods could be distributed to those
beneficiaries. Having no criminal intent, he argues that he cannot
be convicted of the crime.
But criminal intent is not an element of technical malversation.
The law punibhes the act of diverting public property earmarked by
law or ordinance for a particular public purpose to another public
188 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

purpose. The offense is mala prohibita, meaning the prohibited act


is not inherently immoral but becomes a criminal offense because
a positive law forbids its commission based on considerations of
public policy, order, and convenience. It is the commission of an act
as defined by the law, and not the character or effect thereof, that
determines whether or not the provision has been violated. Hence,
malice or criminal intent is completely irrelevant.
Dura lex sed lex. Ysidoro's act, no matter how noble or minis-
cule the amount diverted, constitutes the crime of technical malver-
sation. The Law and th[e] Court, however, recognize that his offense
is not grave, warranting a mere fine.

G. ON THE GENERAL PRINCIPLE THAT WITHOUT


INTENT, THERE CAN BE NO CRIME

Cogitationis Poenam Nemo No man may be punished for


Emeret his thought.
Actus Non Facit Reum Nisi The act itself does not make
Mens Sit Rea a man guilty unless his
intention were so.
Actus Me Invito Factus Non An act done by me against
Est Meus Actus my will is not my act.

These principles are still applicable. Under Article 3 of the


Revised Penal Code, the first element of a felony must be that the
act or omission is voluntary. Hence, if the alleged criminal act is
committed by an insane person, he is not criminally liable but he
may be civilly liable. (Article 12, Revised Penal Code)

H. ON THE PRINCIPLE THAT IGNORANCE OF


THE LAW EXCUSES NO ONE BUT IGNORANCE
OF FACT MAY BE AN EXCUSE

Ignorantia Legis Neminem Ignorance of the law excuses


Excusat no one.

Ignorantia Facto Excusat Ignorance or mistake in


point of fact is an excuse.
CHAPTER VII 189
LATIN MAXIMS: THEIR MEANING AND IMPORTANCE

The first maxim is still found in Article 3 of the New Civil Code
which provides as follows: "Article 3. Ignorance of the law excuses no
one from compliance therewith."
Article 3 applies to all kinds of domestic laws, whether civil or
penal (Gonzales v. Gonzales, 58 Phil. 67; U.S. v. Allan, 2 Phil. 630)
and whether substantive or remedial. (Article 12, Revised Penal
Code) The maxim, however, does not apply to the following:
1. Ignorance of foreign law is not ignorance of the law but
merely an ignorance of fact;
2. In Tuvera v. Tafiada, a law should first be published
before it becomes effective.

I. ON THE PRINCIPLE THAT WHEN THE LAW


DOES NOT DISTINGUISH, WE SHOULD
NOT DISTINGUISH
Ubi Lex Non Distinguit Nec Nos Distiguere Debemos - Where
the law does not distinguish, we should not distinguish.
The constitutional guarantee of due process is granted to every
Filipino, rich or poor, learned or ignorant, and regardless of his
religious belief or political persuasion. Article III, Section 1 of the
constitution provides as follows: "No person shall be deprived of life,
liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person
be denied the equal protection of the laws."

III. LATIN MAXIMS AND PHRASES RELATED TO


THE SUBJECT OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION
MENS LEGISLATORES
The courts should give the statute a reasonable or liberal
construction which will best effect its purpose rather than one which
will defeat it.
In Prasnick v. Republic (98 Phil. 665), the petitioner likes
to adopt his own acknowledged natural children. He has no other
children except the said acknowledged natural children. The said
petition was opposed on the ground that if a person has at least one
child, legitimate or illegitimate, he can no longer adopt, and that
only an unacknowledged natural child may be adopted.
The court held that the opposition is without merit and applied
Article 338 of the New Civil Code as an exception to Article 335
190 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

saying that this will be more in keeping with the trend that adoption
is not merely an act to establish a relationship of paternity and
filiation but also as an act which endows the child with a legitimate
status. Consequently, the Supreme Court denied the contention
that there "should be no adoption of an acknowledged natural child
because there is already a relationship of paternity and filiation,"
and ruled that in adopting his own acknowledged natural child, the
father is precisely raising such child to the category of a legitimate
child. (The law on adoption is now governed by Article 183 of the
Family Code)

REDDENDO SING ULA SING ULIS


Each word or phrase or clause must be referred to their proper
connection in order to give it proper force and effect, rendering
none of them useless or superfluous. Literally, the maxim means,
"referring each to each."
A good example is the wording of Article 31 of the Family Code
of the Philippines, which reads as follows:
"Article 31. A marriage in articulo mortis between
passengers or crew members may also be solemnized by
a ship captain or by an airplane pilot not only while the
ship is at sea or the plane is in flight, but also during stop-
overs at ports of call."
The phrase "may also be solemnized by the ship captain" refers
to the phrase "while the ship is at sea." The phrase "or the plane is
in flight" refers to the "airplane pilot." The more appropriate connec-
tion, however, would be "may also be solemnized" by the airplane
pilot "while the plane is in flight."
The phrase "but also during stopovers at ports of call" refers to
the ship captain and airplane pilot.

CASSUS OMISSUS PRO OMISSO HABBENDUS EST


Literally, this means a case omitted is to be held as intentionally
omitted.
The cassus omissus principle means that if a person, object or
thing is omitted from an enumeration in the statute, it must be held
to have been intentionally omitted.
As a rule, therefore, the court cannot insert in a statute that
which has been omitted. The court can only do so if it is necessary
CHAPTER VII 191
LATIN MAXIMS: THEW MEANING AND IMPORTANCE

to obviate repugnancy or inconsistency, or where the omission was


made through clerical error, accident or inadvertence, or where it is
necessary to complete the sense of the statute.
Hence, under Article 7 of the Family Code, a mayor is no longer
authorized to solemnize marriage he being no longer included in the
enumeration of those who may solemnize marriage. Under Article
56 of the New Civil Code, he is one of those enumerated as one who
may solemnize marriage. The omission is therefore intentional.

NOSCITUR A SOCIIS

Where a particular word or phrase in a statute is ambiguous in


itself or is equally susceptible of various meanings, its true meaning
may be made clear and specific by considering the company in which
it is found or with which it is associated.
Example:
Article 420 of the Civil Code enumerates those that are
considered as property of public dominion. It provides as fol-
lows:

"Article 420. The following things are property of public


dominion:

(1) Those intended for public use, such as roads, canals, riv-
ers, torrents, ports and bridges constructed by the State,
banks, shores, roadsteads, and others of similar charac-
ter;
(2) Those which belong to the State, without being for public
use, and are intended for some public service or for the
development of the national wealth."
A question arises: Is a riverbank a property of public dominion?
The Supreme Court ruled that it is a property of public dominion
(Hilario v. City of Manila, G.R. No. L-19570, April 27,1967) because
the bed of a river is of public dominion, and the bank being a part of
the bed, is also a part of public dominion. The enumeration shows
that the words "banks" and "rivers" were mentioned separately. It
did not mention "river banks," and yet it was ruled that river banks
are of public dominion. The interpretation is influenced apparently
by the company of words enumerated, which the law considers as
properties of public dominion.
192 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

EJUSDEM GENERIS
When general words follow the designation of particular things,
or classes of persons or subjects, the general words will usually be
construed to include only those persons or things of the same class
or general nature as those specifically enumerated.
Section 185 of the implementing rules and regulations of the
Local Government Code enumerates the property that shall be
exempt from distraint and levy, attachment or execution. It provides
as follows:

"Section 185. Personal Property Exempt from Dis-


traint or Levy. - The following property shall be exempt
from distraint and the levy, attachment or execution
thereof for delinquency in the payment of any local tax,
fee, or charge, including related surcharges and interests;
a) Tools and implements necessarily used by the delin-
quent taxpayer in his trade or employment;
b) One (1) horse, cow, carabao, or other beast of burden,
such as the delinquent taxpayer may select, and
necessarily used by him in his ordinary occupation;
c) His necessary clothing, and that of all his family;
d) Household furniture and utensils necessary for
housekeeping and used for that purpose by the
delinquent taxpayer, such as he may select, of a value
not exceeding Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00);
e) Provisions, including crops, actually provided for in-
dividual or family use sufficient for four (4) months;
f) The professional libraries of doctors, engineers,
lawyers and judges;
g) One (1) fishing boat and net, not exceeding the total
value of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00), by the
lawful use of which a fisherman earns his livelihood;
and
h) Any material or article forming part of a house or
improvement of any real property."
Under the rule of ejusdem generis, the last para-
graph (h) "Any material or article forming part of a house
CHAPTER VII 193
LATIN MAXIMS: THEIR MEANING AND IMPORTANCE

or improvement of any real property," necessarily apply


to any material or article similar to those specifically enu-
merated for as long as they form part of the house. This
may include therefore a wall clock, a painting, a Singer
sewing machine used by the wife in her home for barong
business, but this will not include the guns, bullets, and
ammunitions found in the house.
CHAPTER VIII
INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES
USED IN A STATUTE

I. HOW ARE WORDS AND PHRASES IN A STATUTE


INTERPRETED?
It depends. If the words and phrases used are defined in the
statute itself, such definition controls the meaning of the statutory
word, irrespective of any other meaning the word or phrase may
have in its ordinary or usual sense If there is no such definition, the
words or phrases in the statute should be interpreted in accordance
with its well-accepted meaning and they should be construed in the
light of the context of the whole statute.

II. IS THE STATUTORY DEFINITION CONCLUSIVE


TO THE COURTS
A statutory definition is not necessarily conclusive to the courts
in the following cases:
1.) When such definition creates obvious incongruities;
2.) When it contravenes the major purpose of the statute;
and
3.) When it becomes illogical as a result of a change in its
factual basis.
In such cases, the words will be given a meaning that will serve
the purpose of the law, or which will make the law logical and free
from incongruities.

III. RULES THAT GOVERN THE FOLLOWING


SITUATIONS
1.) When a word used in a statute has a general meaning;
2.) When the word used has a technical meaning;

194
CHAPTER VIII 195
INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES USED IN A STATUTE

3.) When the word used has no meaning in harmony with the
legislative intent; and
4.) When the word or phrase is repeatedly used in a statute.

IV. WHEN THE WORD USED IN A STATUTE HAS


A GENERAL MEANING
The general word should not be given a restricted meaning
unless it is otherwise indicated.
This is founded on the Latin Maxim - GENERALIA VERBA
SUN GENERALITER INTELLIGENCIA, which means that what
is generally mentioned shall be generally understood.

EXAMPLES:
The word "hospital" is known to the general public as
a place where sick persons are treated or confined either
for medical treatment, medical examination or operation.
In PD No. 1519, otherwise known as the New Medical
Care Law, the word "hospital" is defined as "any medical
facility, government or private, accredited in accordance
with rules and regulations by the commission." (The word
"commission" in PD No. 1519 is understood to be the
Philippine Medical Commission)
The word "medical practitioner" is understood to be
a doctor who is engaged in the general practice of medi-
cine. Under said PD No. 1519, however, the word "medi-
cal practitioner" is defined as any doctor of medicine duly
licensed to practice in the Philippines who is a member in
good standing of the Philippine Medical Association and
accredited in accordance with rules and regulations pro-
mulgated by the Commission."
And yet, PD No. 1519, Section 4(a) thereof, defines
that the word "individual" applies only to cases involving
natural persons.. (Vda. De Borrorneo v. Pogoy, 126 SCRA
207)

V. WHEN THE WORD USED HAS A TECHNICAL


MEANING
When the words or phrase used have a technical meaning, they
are considered to have been used in their technical sense.
196 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

EXAMPLES:
The word "marriage" has a very special meaning
and technical meaning under Article 1 of the Family Code
of the Philippines which provides as follows:
"Article 1. Marriage is a special contract of perma-
nent union between a man and a woman entered into in
accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and
family life. It is the foundation of the family and an invio-
lable social institution whose nature, consequences, and
incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipula-
tion, except that marriage settlements may fix the prop-
erty relations during the marriage within the limits pro-
vided by this Code"
The term "negotiable instrument" has a technical
meaning under Section 1 of the Negotiable Instruments
Law. It provides as follows:
"Section 1. Form of negotiable instrument. - An in-
strument to be negotiable must conform to the following
requirements:
a) It must be in writing and signed by the maker or
drawer;
b) Must contain an unconditional promise or order to
pay a sum certain in money;
c) Must be payable on demand or at fixed or determin-
able future time;
d) Must be payable to order or to bearer; and
e) Where the instrument is addressed to a drawee, he
must be named or otherwise indicated therein with
reasonable certainty."

MACASAET v. COMMISSION ON AUDIT


G.R. No. 83748, May 12, 1989

FACTS:
Under a contract for Project Design and Management Services
for the Development of the Proposed Zamboanga Golf and Country
Club, petitioner was to be entitled to seven (7%) percent of the
"actual construction cost." Also, periodic payments were to be based
CHAPTER VIII 197
INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES USED IN A STATUTE

on a "reasonable estimated construction cost." Finally, the contract


provides that the balance of the professional fee was to be computed
on the basis of "the final actual project cost."
Pursuant to the schedule of payments, the Philippine Tourism
Authority made periodic payments of the stipulated professional
fees to petitioner. And, upon completion of the project, the PTA
paid petitioners what it perceived to be the balance of the latter's
professional fees.
It turned out, however, that after the project was completed,
PTA paid Supra Construction Company, the main contractor, the
additional sum of P3,148,198.26 representing the escalation cost of
the contract price due to the increase in the price of construction
materials.
Upon learning of the price escalation, petitioner requested
payment of P219,301.47 additional professional fee representing
seven (7%) percent of P3,148,198.26.
The PTA denied payment on the ground that "the subject price
escalation" referred to increased cost of construction materials and
did not entail additional work on the part of petitioner as to entitle
it to additional compensation. The COA sustained the PTA.

ISSUE:
Is petitioner entitled to additional professional fees, i.e., should
the price escalation be included in the "final actual project cost?"

HELD:
1.) The Supreme Court set aside the COA's ruling, ordered
the PTA to pay petitioner the additional amount of
P219,302.47 to complete the payment of its professional
fee.
2.) The very terminologies used in the contract call for
affirmative relief in petitioner's favor. The use of the
terms "actual construction cost," graduating into "final
actual project cost" is significant.
3.) The real intendment of the parties was to base the
ultimate balance of petitioner's professional fees not on
"actual construction cost" alone but on the final actual
project cost. By so providing, the contract allowed for
flexibility based on actuality and as a matter of equity for
198 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

the contracting parties. For eventually, the final actual


project cost would not necessarily tally with the actual
construction cost initially computed. The "final actual
project cost" covers the totality of all costs as actually and
finally determined and logically, includes the escalation
cost of the contract price.
4.) It matters most that the price escalation awarded to the
Construction Company did not entail additional work for
the petitioner. As a matter of fact, neither did it for the
main contractor. The increased cost of materials was not
the doing of neither contracting parties.
5.) That an escalation clause was not specifically provided
for in the contract is of no moment either for it may be
considered as already "built-in", and understood from the
very terms "actual construction cost," and eventually
"final actual project cost."
6.) The terminologies in the contract being clear, leaving
no doubt as to the intention of the contracting parties,
their literal meaning control (Article 1370, Civil Code).
The price escalation cost must be deemed included in the
final actual project cost and petitioner held entitled to the
payment of its additional professional fees. Obligations
arising from contract have the force of law between the
contracting parties and should be complied with in a good
faith."

VI. WHEN THE WORD USED HAS NO MEANING IN


HARMONY WITH THE LEGISLATWE INTENT
When the words used have no meaning in harmony with the
legislative intent, they can be treated as surplasage and they may
entirely be ignored. Before resorting to this, however, the courts
should construe the statute in its entirety 'and find out if the words
used can still admit a reasonable construction which will give them
force and meaning. In the absence of any reasonable construction,
then the said words can be ignored.
Hence, in Montenegro v. Castañeda (91 Phil. 882), the petitioner
argued that the proclamation suspending the privilege of the writ of
habeas corpus was void on the ground that it included sedition which
is not a ground provided for in the Constitution. The Supreme Court
considered the word "sedition" in said proclamation as a mistake or
CHAPTER VIII 199
INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES USED IN A STATUTE

surplasage but its inclusion in the proclamation does not invalidate


the entire proclamation.

VII. WHEN THE WORD OR PHRASE IS


REPEATEDLY USED IN A STATUTE
A word or phrase used in one part of a statute shall receive
the same interpretation when used in every other part of the stat-
ute, unless a different meaning is intended. Likewise, when a word
or phrase is repeatedly used in a statute, it will, as a rule, bear
the same meaning throughout the statute. (Kriuenko v. Register of
Deeds, 79 Phil. 461)

VIII. PARTICULAR WORDS AND PHRASES


1.) The words "OR" and "AND"
2) The terms "AND/OR'
3.) The words "SHALL" and "MAY"
4.) The words "ALL," "EVERY" and "ANY"
5) The phrase "AND SO FORTH"
6.) The phrase "AND THE LIKE"
7.) Negative words and phrases like "CANNOT," "SHALL
Nor'
8.) Affirmative words and phrases like "THE FOLLOWING
MAY," "THE FOLLOWING SHALL"

THE WORD "OR"


As a Rule
The word or is a disjunctive term which indicates an alterna-
tive. Hence, when "or" is used, the various members of the sentence
are to be taken separately.
As a rule therefore, it should be construed in the sense in which
it ordinarily implies, that it is a disjunctive word
The Word "OR," is not disjunctive in the following cases
1. When the spirit or context of the law warrants it;
and
2. Although the persons who can pardon the offender
under Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code are
200 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

mentioned disjunctively, the said provision should


be construed to mean that the right to institute
criminal proceedings in said cases is exclusively and
successively reposed in said persons in the order in
which they are named. Article 344 of the Revised
Penal Code provides as follows:
"Article 344. Prosecution of the crimes of adul-
tery, concubinage, seduction, abduction, rape, and
acts of lasciviousness. - The crimes of adultery and
concubinage shall not be prosecuted except upon a
complaint filed by the offended spouse.
The offended party cannot institute criminal
prosecution without including both the guilty parties
if they are both alive, nor, in any case, if he shall
have consented or pardoned the offenders.
The offenses of seduction, abduction, rape, or
acts of lasciviousness, shall not be prosecuted except
upon a complaint filed by the offended party or her
parents. grandparents. or guardian, nor, in any
case, if the offender has been expressly pardoned by
the above-named persons, as the case may be x x x"
(Underscoring supplied)
In connection with Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code, the
following rules and jurisprudence are applicable:
1. The offended party, even if she were a minor, has the
right to institute the prosecution for the above of-
fenses, independently of her parents, grandparents
or guardian, unless she is incompetent or incapable
of doing so upon grounds other than her minority.
Where the offended party who is a minor fails to ifie
the complaint, her parents, grandparents or guard-
ians, may file the same. The right to file the action
granted to the parents, grandparents or guardian
shall be exclusive of all other persons and shall be
exercised successively in the order herein provided.
(Section 5, Rule 110, Rules of Court; Article 344,
R.P.C.)
2. The fact that she is a minor (being only 12 years old)
is not an impediment for her to sign the complaint
(People v. Medina, CA, 45 O.G. 338).
CHAPTER VIII 201
INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES USED IN A STATUTE

3. But if the offended party is insane or physically


disabled, the father can sign the complaint. If the
father is dead, the mother can do it. If both are dead,
then the grandfather should sign the complaint, etc.
(U.S. v. Bautista, 40 Phil. 735)
4. It is exclusive, because if the parent of the girl for
instance, refuses to file the complaint, the grandpar-
ent cannot file the complaint.

The Word 'SAND"

As a Rule
The word "and" is a conjunctive term, and if it is used in a
sentence, it means that the members of a sentence are to be taken
jointly.

Exception
The word "and" may mean "or" if this is the plain intention
of the legislature which could be gleaned from the context of the
statute.

The Term "AND/OR"


The use of the term "and /o?' means that effect shall be given
to both the conjunctive "and" and the disjunctive "or' depending on
which one will serve the legislative intent.

New Case:

ANTONIO D. DAYAO, et al. v. COMELEC, et al.,


G.R. No. 193643
and
FEDERATION OF PHILIPPINE INDUSTRIES, INC. v.
COMELEC, et al.,
G.R. No. 193704
January 29, 2013
FACTS:
On May 21, 2009, LPGMA sought to advance its cause by
seeking party-list accreditation with the COMELEC, through a
petition for registration as a sectoral organization for the purpose
of participating in the May 10, 2010 elections under HA No. 7941
202 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

or the Party-List System Act. LPGMA claimed that it has special


interest in the LPG industry and other allied concerns.
After the requisite publication, verification and hearing, and
without any apparent opposition, LPGMA's petition was approved
by the COMELEC in its Resolution dated January 5, 2010.
Four (4) months thereafter, individual petitioners lodged
before the COMELEC a complaint for the cancellation of LPGMA's
registration. They were later on joined by Federation of Philippine
Industries, Inc. (FPII) as a complainant-in-intervention.
The COMELEC dismissed the complaint since the ground for
cancellation cited is not among the exclusive enumeration in Section
6 of RA No. 7941 and the complaint is actually a belated opposition
to LPGMA's petition for registration which has long been approved
with finality. COMELEC denied the petitioners' motions for recon-
sideration.

ISSUE:
Whether the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion
in denying petitioners' complaints and motions for reconsideration
respectively

HELD:
Section 6, RA No. 7941 lays down the grounds and procedure
for the cancellation of party-list accreditation, viz:

Section 6. Refusal and/or Cancellation of


Registration.
The COMELEC may, motu proprio or upon verified
complaint of any interested party, refuse or cancel, after
due notice and hearing, the registration of any national,
regional or sectoral party, organization or coalition on any
of the following grounds:
1 It is a religious sect or denomination, organiza-
tion or association, organized for religious pur-
poses;
2. It advocates violence or unlawful means to seek
its goal;
2 It ;Q a fortgit party or organzatzon,

4. It is receiving support from any foreign govern-


CHAPTER VIII 203
INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES USED IN A STATUTE

ment, foreign political party, foundation, orga-


nization, whether directly or through any of its
officers or members or indirectly through third
parties for partisan election purposes;
5. It violates or fails to comply with laws, rules or
regulations relating to elections;
6. It declares untruthful statements in its petition;
7. It has ceased to exist for at least one (1) year; or
8. It [ails toparttcipate in the last two (-?)preceding
elections or fails to obtain at least two per
centum (2 01o) of the votes cast under the party-
list system in the two (2) preceding elections for
the constituency in which it has registered.

For the COMELEC to validly exercise its statutory power to


cancel the registration of a party-list group, the law imposes only
two (2) conditions: (1) due notice and hearing is afforded to the
party-list group concerned; and (2) any of the enumerated grounds
for disqualification in Section 6 exists.
Section 6 clearly does not require that an opposition to the
petition for registration be previously interposed so that a complaint
for cancellation can be entertained. Since the law does not impose
such a condition, the COMELEC, notwithstanding its delegated
administrative authority to promulgate rules for the implementation
of election laws, cannot read into the law that which it does not
provide.
Moreover, an opposition can be reasonably expected only dur-
ing the petition for registration proceedings which involves the
COMELEC's power to register a party-list group, as distinguished
from the entirely separate power invoked by the complaint, which is
the power to cancel.
The distinctiveness of the two powers is immediately apparent
from their basic definitions. To refuse is to decline or to turn down,
while to cancel is to annul or remove. Adopting such meanings within
the context of Section 6, refusal of registration happens during the
inceptive stage when an organization seeks admission into the roster
of COMELEC-registered party-list organizations through a petition
for registration. Cancellation on the other hand, takes place after
the fact of registration when an inquiry is done by the COMELEC,
motu proprio or upon a verified complaint, on whether a registered
204 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

party-list organization still holds the qualifications imposed by


law. Refusal is handed down to a petition for registration while
cancellation is decreed on the registration itself after the petition
has been approved.
A resort to the rules of statutory construction yields a similar
conclusion.
The legal meaning of the term "and/or" between "refusal" and
"cancellation" should be taken in its ordinary significance - "refusal
and/or cancellation" means "refusal and cancellation" or "refusal or
cancellation." It has been held that the intention of the legislature
in using the term "and/or" is that the word "and" and the word "or"
are to be used interchangeably.
The term "and/or" means that effect shall be given to both
the conjunctive "and" and the disjunctive "or" or that one word or
the other may be taken accordingly as one or the other will best
effectuate the purpose intended by the legislature as gathered from
the whole statute. The term is used to avoid a construction which by
the use of the disjunctive "or" alone will exclude the combination of
several of the alternatives or by the use of the conjunctive "and" will
exclude the efficacy of any one of the alternatives standing alone.
Hence, effect shall be given to both "refusal and cancellation"
and "refusal or cancellation" according to how Section 6 intended
them to be employed. The word "and" is a conjunction used to denote
a joinder or union; it is pertinently defined as meaning "together
with," "joined with," "along or together with." The use of "and" in
Sec. 6 was necessitated by the fact that refusal and cancellation of
party-list registration share similar grounds, manner of initiation
and procedural due process requirements of notice and hearing.
With respect to the said matters, "refusal" and "cancellation" must
be taken together. The word "or," on the other hand, is a disjunctive
term signifying disassociation and independence of one thing from
the other things enumerated; it should, as a rule, be construed in
the sense in which it ordinarily implies, as a disjunctive word. As
such, "refusal or cancellation," consistent with their disjunctive
meanings, must be taken individually to mean that they are
separate instances when the COMELEC can exercise its power to
screen the qualifications of party-list organizations for purposes of
participation in the party-list system of representation.
The clear intent of the law is bolstered by the use simply of the
word "or" in the first sentence of Section 6 that "[T]he COMELEC
CHAPTER VIII 205
INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES USED IN A STATUTE

may, motu proprio or upon verified complaint of any interested


party, refuse or cancel, after due notice and hearing, the registration
of any national, regional or sectoral party, organization or coalition."

Old Case:

CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION


v. SATURNINO DELA CRUZ
G.R. No. 158737, August 31, 2004
It is well-settled rule in statutory construction
that the use of the term "andlor"means that the word
"and" and the word "or" are to be used interchange-
ably. The word "or" is a disjunctive term signifying
dissociation and independence of one thing from
another. Thus, the use of the disjunctive term "or" in
this controversy connotes that either the standard
in the first clause or that in the second clause may
be applied in determining whether a prospective ap-
plicant for the position under question may qualify.

FACTS:
Respondent was a Check Pilot II in the Air Transportation
Office (ATO) when he was promoted to the position of Chief Aviation
Safety Regulation Officer of the Aviation Safety Division. Annabella
A. Calamba of the ATO Aviation Security Division filed with the
Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) a protest
against respondent's promotional appointment on the ground that
respondent did not meet the 4-year supervisory requirement for the
position.
DOTC Secretary Jesus B. Garcia found the protest to be
without merit. Calamba appealed to the Civil Service Commission
(CSC-NCR). After CSC-NCR Director Nelson Acebedo had requested
ATO Executive Director Manuel Gio to comment three times to no
avail. On November 18, 1997, the CSC-NCR rendered a decision
upholding the protest of Calamba on the ground that respondent
did not meet the requirements of the contested position and hence
recalled his appointment.
Thereafter, ATO Director Gio asked the CSC-NCR to suspend
the order recalling the appointment of respondent and then,
subsequently manifested that Calamba had no legal personality to
206 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

ifie the protest because she was not a qualified next-in-rank; that
the protest was filed out of time, and that respondent was qualified
to the position. On January 5, 1998, CSC-NCR Director Acebedo
denied the requests of Director Gil. However, in a letter dated
January 13, 1998, Director Acebedo granted the request of Director
Gilo and affirmed the approval of respondent's appointment.
Calamba asked the CSC to implement the January 5, 1998 ruling of
Director Acebedo. When asked by the CSC to clarify his conflicting
rulings, Director Acebedo explained that the January 5, 1998 ruling
is unofficial and inexistent. Thus, the CSC treated Calamba's
request as an appeal.
On November 13, 1998, the CSC issued Resolution No. 98-2970
granting the appeal of Calamba, disapproving respondent's appoint-
ment, and directing his reversion to his former position. The CSC
having denied his motion for reconsideration, respondent filed a pe-
tition for review with the CA. The CA granted the petition by setting
aside the CSC resolutions and approving respondent's appointment.
Petitioner CSC's motion for reconsideration having been denied, it
filed a petition for review with the Supreme Court.

ISSUE:
Is the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the Civil Service
Commission tenable?

HELD:
Petitioner's insistence that respondent failed to meet the
four-year managerial and supervisory experience requirement is
misplaced. It is well-settled rule in statutory construction that the
use of the term "and/or" means that the word "and" and the word
"or" are to be used interchangeably. The word "or" is a disjunctive
term signifying dissociation and independence of one thing from
another. Thus, the use of the disjunctive term "or" in this controversy
connotes that either the standard in the first clause or that in the
second clause may be applied in determining whether a prospective
applicant for the position under question may qualify.

The Word "SHALL"


The word "shall" is imperative. When used in a statute,
it operates to impose a duty, which may be enforced. (Dizon v.
Encarnacion, G.R. No. L-18615, December 24, 1963)
CHAPTER VIII 207
INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES USED IN A STATUTE

The rule, however, is not absolute. The word "shall" may be


construed as "may" when so required by the context or by the inten-
tion of the statute. (Diokno v. Rehabilitation Finance Corporation,
91 Phil. 608)

THE MANDATORY EFFECT OF THE STATUTE AND


THE APPARENT INTENTION OF THE LEGISLATURE IS
ILLUSTRATED IN REPUBLIC v. COURT OF APPEALS,
G.R. No. 79582, April 10, 1989
In said case, the Free Patent was issued on April 14, 1967
In 1970, the widow of the patentee bartered a portion thereof with
Seranillo. After Seranillo acquired the property, he caused the same
to be subdivided into small lots and announced himself as owner. On
September 29, 1970, he sold a portion of the lot in favor of Jamila.
Another lot was sold on November 29, 1970, in favor of Poliquit. In
other words, the widow of the patentee disposed of the land within
the prohibitory period of five (5) years, as mandated in Section 118
of the Public Land Act.
HELD:
The provision of the law, which prohibits the sale, or
encumbrance of the homestead within five years after the grant of
the patent is mandatory. The purpose of the law is to promote a
definite public policy, which is to preserve and keep in the family
of the patentee that portion of the public land, which the State has
gratuitously given to them.
The law prohibiting any transfer or alienation of homestead
land within five years from the issuance of the patent does not
distinguish between executory and consummated sales. It would
hardly be in keeping with the primordial aim of this prohibition to
preserve and keep in the family of the homesteader the piece of land
that the State had gratuitously given to them

"Section 124 of the Public Land Act provides that


'Any acquisition, conveyance, alienation, transfer, or
other contract made or executed in violation of any of the
provisions of Sections 118, 120, 121, 122 and 123 of this
Act shall be unlawful and null and void from its execution
and shall produce the effect of annulling and canceling
the grant, title, patent, or permit, originally issued,
recognized or confirmed, actually or presumptively, and
208 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

cause the reversion of the property and its improvement


to the State."'

It is to the public interest that one who succeeds in fraudulently


acquiring title to a public land should not be allowed to benefit
therefrom. The State should, therefore, have an ever existing
authority, through its duly authorized officers, to inquire into the
circumstances surrounding the issuance of any such title, to the end
that the Republic, through the Solicitor General or any other officer
who may be authorized by law, may file the corresponding action
for the reversion of the land involved to the public domain, subject
thereafter to disposal to other qualified persons in accordance with
law.

The Word "MAY"


The word "may" is permissive and it operates to confer
jurisdiction.

The Word "ALL," "EVERY," and "ANY"


The word "air may be used in its universal sense or in its
comprehensive sense. The phrase "all laws inconsistent with or
contrary to this act are hereby repealed," refers not only to laws
that are existing at the time the repealing law is enacted but also to
all rules and regulations intended to implement them.
The phrase "all the qualifications and none of the disqualifica-
tions" found in the petition for naturalization and as required by CA
473, means that the applicant possesses all the qualifications pre-
scribed in the said law, and that the applicant must not have any or
all of the disqualifications provided in the law. (Ly Hong v. Republic,
G.R. No. L-14630, September 30, 1960, Section 5, CA No. 473)
This necessarily means that every ground of disqualification
or any of the grounds for disqualifications is sufficient to deny the
application for citizenship.
The phrase "all citizens, 18 years of age, must register and
vote" includes all Filipino citizens, male or female, who are eighteen
years of age, and not suffering from any disqualification to vote.

The Words "AND SO FORTH,' and "AND THE LIKE"


The words "and so forth" refers to those similar to what is
enumerated or mentioned preceding the words "and so forth."
CHAPTER VIII 209
INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES USED IN A STATUTE

This is similar to the phrase "and others of similar character."

Example:
"Article 420. The following are property of public
dominion:
(1) Those intended for public use, such as roads,
canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges constructed by
the State, banks, shores, roadsteads, and others of similar
character x x x" (Underscoring Supplied)

Negative terms "CANNOT," "SHALL NOT," and "NO"


The use of these words in a statute indicates the intention of
the legislature to make the law mandatory and prohibitive.

EXAMPLE:
"The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not
be suspended except in cases of invasion or rebellion when
the public safety requires it." (Section 15, Article III, 1987
Constitution) (Underscoring Supplied)
"No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or prop-
erty without due process of law, nor shall any person be
denied the equal protection of the laws." (Section 1, Ar-
ticle III, 1987 Constitution)
"Urban or rural poor dwellers shall not be evicted
nor their dwelling demolished, except in accordance with
law and in a just and humane manner." (Section 10,
Article XIII, 1987 Constitution)

The right to "due process of law" is a constitutional guarantee,


which need not be the subject of government grant. They may not
be unduly taken by the government but the government has a duty
to protect its citizens from being unlawfully deprived of such rights.

IX. DUE PROCESS OF LAW


Due process of law has procedural and substantive require-
ments. From the procedural point of view, it simply means that the
procedure to be observed should be fair or as Daniel Webster puts it,
it is a "law which hears before it condemns."
A substantive requirement of due process is actually a provi-
sion against oppressive or arbitrary laws. In other words, while the
210 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

first portion of the requirement refers to the proper procedures to


be observed, the second portion of the requirements goes to the very
substance of the constitutional provision that life, liberty or prop-
erty cannot in any way be arbitrarily taken away even if there are
proper, procedures made and observed.

REQUIREMENTS OF DUE PROCESS


The due process clause should be interpreted both as a
substantive and as a procedural guarantee. Hence, the requirements
of due process are: (1) Substantive due process; and (2)
Procedural due process.
SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS - is a guarantee that life,
liberty, and property shall not be taken away from anyone without
due process of law. If a law is invoked to take away one's life, liberty,
and property, the more specific concern of substantive due process
is not to find out whether said law is being enforced in accordance
with procedural formalities but whether or not the said law is a
proper exercise of legislative power. This will necessarily require
the following:
1. There must be a valid law upon which it is based;
2. The law must have been passed or approved to accomplish
a valid governmental objective;
3. The objective must be pursued in a lawful manner; and
4. The law as well as the means to accomplish the objective
must be valid and not oppressive.
PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS - refers to the regular
methods of procedure to be observed before one's life, liberty or
property, can be taken away from him. Simply stated, it means that
the procedure to be observed must be fair. Procedural due process
therefore is a guarantee to obtain a fair trial in a court of justice
according to the mode of proceeding applicable to each case. Now,
this includes not only any court of justice but also any and all
administrative boards, bodies or tribunals.

TWO ASPECTS OF PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS


1. Procedural due process in judicial proceedings; and
2. Procedural due process in administrative proceedings
CHAPTER VIII 211
INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES USED IN A STATUTE

REQUIREMENTS OF PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS


IN JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS
The requirements of due process in judicial proceedings, as laid
down in Banco Filipino v. Palanca (37 Phil. 921), are as follows:
1. There must be an impartial court or tribunal clothed with
judicial power to hear and determine the matter before it;
2. Jurisdiction must be lawfully acquired over the person of
the defendant and over the property which is the subject
matter of the proceeding;
3. The defendant must be given an opportunity to be heard;
and
4. Judgment must be rendered upon lawful hearing.

REQUIREMENTS OF PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS


IN ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS
The requirements of due process in administrative proceedings,
as laid down in Ang Ti bay v. Court of Industrial Relations (69 Phil.
635), are as follows:
1. The right to a hearing, which includes the right to present
one's case and submit evidence in support thereof;
2. The tribunal must consider the evidence presented;
3. The decision must have something to support itself;
4. The evidence must be substantial;
5. The decision must be rendered on the evidence presented
at the hearing, or at least contained in the record and
disclosed to the parties affected;
6. The tribunal or body or any of its judges must act on its
or his own independent consideration of the law and facts
of the controversy and not simply accept the views of a
subordinate in arriving at a decision; and
7. The board or body should, in all controversial questions,
render its decision in such a manner that the parties to
the proceeding can know the various issues involved, and
the reason for the decision rendered.
212 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

X. COURT'S POWER TO CONSTRUE STATUTES


ARISES ONLY IF THE STATUTE IS NOT CLEAR
A statute, which is clear and free from ambiguity, need not
be interpreted by the courts. They must be applied to give effect to
the intent expressed in the language of the statute. This principle
is based on the Latin Maxim DURA LEX SED LEX (The law may
be harsh but it is the law) and in another Latin maxim ABSOLUTA
SENTENTIA EXPOSITORE NON INDIGET (When the language
of the law is clear, no explanation of it is required).
When the law, however, is not clear, or when it is ambiguous,
the court is justified to interpret or construe the statute and to resort
to all legitimate aids to construction in order that it can ascertain
the true intent of the statute.

XI. IN THE PROCESS OF CONSTRUING A STATUTE,


WHAT ARE THOSE THAT THE COURT
CAN DO AND CANNOT DO
What the court can do?
Primarily, the court's duty is to ascertain the true intent
of the statute.
2. In the pursuit of this duty, the court can resort to all le-
gitimate aids to construction. These aids are those found
in the law itself, known as intrinsic aids, and those ex-
traneous facts and circumstances outside of the statute,
known as extrinsic aids.
3. It can depart from the language of the statute if by so
doing, the legislative purpose could be carried out.
4. It may correct clerical errors, mistakes or misprints, which,
if not corrected, would render the statute meaningless.
5. It can issue guidelines in applying the statute in order to
delineate what the law requires.

What the court cannot do?


1. The court cannot speculate as to the intent of the law.
2. The court cannot supply a meaning not found in the
phraseology of the law.
3. The court cannot assume a purpose, which is not expressed
in the statute.
CHAPTER VIII 213
INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES USED IN A STATUTE

4. The court cannot change the meaning of the law, especially


if the meaning will defeat the purpose of the law.
5. The court cannot rewrite the law and invade the domain
of the legislature (This is known as JUDICIAL LEGISLA-
TION).
6. The court cannot interpret into the law a requirement,
which the law does not prescribe.
7. The court cannot enlarge the scope of the statute and in-
clude transactions or situations not provided by the legis-
lature.

MI. WHAT HAPPENS IF THE STATUTE


IS NOT CAPABLE OF INTERPRETATION
OR CONSTRUCTION?
When a statute is not capable of construction or interpretation
because it fails to express a meaning, or if the absurdity in the law
cannot be reconciled despite resorting to all aids in construction,
it becomes inoperative (Manila Jockey Club, Inc. v. Games and
Amusement Board, 107 Phil. 151).

XLII. CAN THE SUPREME COURT ABANDON


OR OVERRULE ITS EARLIER DECISION?
The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, may abandon or overrule
its earlier decision, if it is right and proper to do so but the new
decision modifying or overruling a doctrine or principle should only
be applied prospectively, and should not apply to parties who had
relied on the doctrine and acted on the faith thereof.
This is illustrated by the stand of the Supreme Court on the
issue of whether the courts can inquire on the presidential suspension
of the privilege of the court of habeas corpus and whether there is
right to bail during the suspension of the said writ.
The first two leading cases on this point are the cases of
Barcelon v. Baker (5 Phil. 87) and Montenegro v. Castaileda (91 Phil.
882). In both cases, the Supreme Court decided that the President's
decision to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is "final
and conclusive upon the courts and all other persons."
The Barcelon rule was enunciated in this jurisdiction in 1905
whereas the Montenegro rule, which reiterated the Barcelon rule,
214 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

was enunciated in 1952. This ruling continued to prevail until 1971


when our Supreme Court came out with another. ruling in the case
of Lansang v. Garcia (42 SCRA 448).
In the said case of Lansang v. Garcia, the Supreme Court ruled
that courts are allowed to inquire whether or not a presidential
suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is arbitrary
in order to determine its constitutional sufficiency. The ruling is
premised on the assumption that the courts can effectively determine
whether the President's decision to suspend the privilege of the writ
of habeas corpus is arbitrary or not.
The Lansang doctrine, however, was abandoned on account
of the decisions rendered by the Supreme Court in cases docketed
as G.R. No. 61388 entitled "In the Matter of the Petition for the
issuance of the Writ of Habeas Corpus for Dra. Aurora Parong, et al.,
Josefina Garcia-Padilla, petitioner, v. Minister Juan Ponce Enrile,
Gen Fabian C. Ver, Fidel V. Ramos and Lt. Col. Miguel Coronel,
respondent." Decided on April 20, 1983, and G.R. No. 61016 entitled
"In the Matter of the Petition for Habeas Corpus of Horacio R.
Morales, Jr., petitioner, v. Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, Gen. Fabian
Ver and Col. Galileo Kintanar, respondents." Promulgated on April
26, 1983, or 6 days after the Padilla decision was promulgated.
In the Padilla case, nine justices voted to abandon the doctrine
in the Lansang case and these justices are as follows: Justices
Pacifico de Castro, Efren Plana, Juvenal Guerero, Felix Makasiar,
Venecio Escolin, Conrado Vasquez, Vicente Abad Santos, Hugo
Gutierrez, Jr., and Lorenzo Relova. Two justices voted to retain the
doctrine in the Lansang case and they are Chief Justice Enrique
Fernando and Justice Claudio Teehankee.
The majority decision reverted to the Barcelon and Montenegro
rule, as above-mentioned.
In the Morales case, the justices who previously voted in the
Padilla case in favor of abandoning the doctrine in the Lansang case
maintained their position. Three justices voted to retain the Lansang
case maintained their position. Three justices voted to retain the
Lansang doctrine and they are Chief Justice Enrique Fernando and
Justices Claudio Teehankee and Hermogenes Concepcion.
CHAPTER VIII 215
INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES USED IN A STATUTE

Xlv. IF THE DECISION OF THE SUPREME COURT


IN A PARTICULAR CASE IS NOT CORRECT,
SHOULD IT BE FOLLOWED BY THE INFERIOR COURTS?

Unless and until that decision of the Supreme Court is reversed


by itself, sitting en banc, it shall be binding not only upon the inferior
courts but also upon all branches of the government The basis for
this is Article 8 of the new Civil Code, which provides as follows:
"Article 8. Judicial decision applying or interpreting
the laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal
system of the Philippines."
CHAPTER IX
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION OF
CONTRACTS

Article 1305 of the New Civil Code defines a contract as "a


meeting of minds between two persons whereby one binds himself,
with respect to the other, to give something or to render some service."

I. CAN THE CONTRACTING PARTIES ENTER


INTO ANY KIND OF AGREEMENT AND
ESTABLISH SUCH TERMS AND CONDITIONS
THAT THEY MAY DEEM PROPER?
The contracting parties may enter into any kind of agreement
and establish such terms and conditions that they like provided that
they are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or
public policy. (Article 1306, New Civil Code)

Examples:
1.) An undertaking in a letter agreement premised on the
termination of a marital relation is not only contrary to
law but also contrary to Filipino morals and public policy.
As such, any agreement or obligation based on such
unlawful consideration and which is contrary to public
policy should be deemed null and void. (Lichauco de Leon
v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-80965, June 6, 1990)
2.) An agreement to work, as a servant without pay is im-
moral and void since this would amount to involuntary
servitude. (De los Reyes v. Alojado, 16 Phil. 499)
3.) An agreement exempting a carrier from liability for
gross negligence (Heacock v. Macondray, 32 Phil. 205) is
contrary to public policy.
4.) The stipulation in a contract, between a student and the
school that the students scholarship is good only if he con-

216
CHAPTER IX 217
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION OF CONTRACTS

tinues in the same school, and that he waives his right to


transfer to another school without refunding the equiva-
lent of his scholarship, is contrary to public policy and
therefore, null and void (Gui v. Arellano University, G.R.
No. L-15127, May 30, 1961).
5.) Deed of Sale over a parcel of land within five years from
the date of issuance of a patent is null and void because
it violates Section 118, Commonwealth Act 141 (Sala u.
Court of First Instance, G.R. No. L-47281, April 27, 1990).

II. WHO ARE BOUND BY THE TERMS


OF THE CONTRACT?
As a rule, "contracts take effect only between the parties, their
assigns and heirs," and therefore generally, its terms cannot deter-
mine the rights of third persons.
The exceptions to this rule are the following:
(a) Where the obligations arising from the contract are not
transmissible by their NATURE, by STIPULATION, or
by PROVISION of LAW (Article 1311);
(b) Where there is a STIPULATION POUR AUTRUI (a
stipulation in favor of a third party.) (Article 1311);
(c) Where a third person induces another to violate his
contract (Article 1314);
(d) Where in some cases, third persons may be adversely
affected by a contract where they did not participate (See
Articles 1312, 2150, 2151; Act No. 1956 the Insolvency
Law: R.A. No. 875); and
(e) Where the law authorizes the creditor to sue on a contract
entered into by his debtor ("Accion Directa').

III. WHEN IS IT NECESSARY AND NOT NECESSARY


TO INTERPRET THE TERMS OF THE CONTRACT?
When Necessary
When the terms of the contract are not clear and there is
doubt regarding the intention of the contracting parties, it becomes
necessary to resort to interpretation. This becomes the duty of the
court when the parties decide to seek judicial intervention.
218 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

The Supreme Court explained in the case of Marquez v. Espejo,


G.R. No. L-168387, August 25,2010, to wit:

"When the parties admit the contents of written docu-


ments but put in issue whether these documents adequately
and correctly express the true intention of the parties, the de-
ciding body is authorized to look beyond these instruments and
into the contemporaneous and subsequent actions of the parties
in order to determine such intent.
Well-settled is the rule that in case of doubt, it is the intention
of the contracting parties that prevails, for the intention is the soul
of a contract, not its wording which is prone to mistakes, inadequa-
cies, or ambiguities. To hold otherwise would give life, validity, and
precedence to mere typographical errors and defeat the very purpose
of agreements."

When Not Necessary


When the terms of the contract are clear and leave no doubt
upon the intention of the contracting parties, interpretation of the
same is not necessary. The first paragraph of Article 1370 provides
as follows:
"If the terms of the contract are clear and leave no
doubt upon the intention of the contracting parties, the
literal meaning of its stipulations shall control"

The Supreme Court explained in the case of Norton Resources


and Development Corporation v. All Asia Bank Corporation, G.R.
No. L-162523, November 25, 2009, to wit:

"The cardinal rule in the interpretation of contracts is


embodied in the first paragraph of Article 1370 of the Civil
Code: "[I]f the terms of a contract are clear and leave nodoubt
upon the intention of the contracting parties, the literal meaning
of its stipulations shall control." This provision is akin to the
"plain meaning rule" applied by Pennsylvania courts, which
assumes that the intent of the parties to an instrument is
"embodied in the writing itself, and when the words are clear
and unambiguous the intent is to be discovered only from the
express language of the agreement" It also resembles the "four
corners" rule, a principle which allows courts in some cases to
search beneath the semantic surface for clues to meaning. A
court's purpose in examining a contract is to interpret the intent
of the contracting parties, as objectively manifested by them.
The process of interpreting a contract requires the court to make
CHAPTER IX 219
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION OF CONTRACTS

a preliminary inquiry as to whether the contract before it is


ambiguous. A contract provision is ambiguous if it is susceptible
of two reasonable alternative interpretations. Where the
written terms of the contract are not ambiguous and can only be
read one way, the court will interpret the contract as a matter
of law. If the contract is determined to be ambiguous, then the
interpretation of the contract is left to the court, to resolve the
ambiguity in the light of the intrinsic evidence.
In our jurisdiction, the rule is thoroughly discussed in
Bautista v. CA:
"The rule is that where the language of a contract is plain
and unambiguous, its meaning should be determined without
reference to extrinsic facts or aids. The intention of the parties
must be gathered from that language, and from that language
alone. Stated differently, where the language of a written
contract is clear and unambiguous, the contract must be taken
to mean that which, on its face, it purports to mean, unless some
good reason can be assigned to show that the words should be
understood in a different sense. Courts cannot make for the
parties better or more equitable agreements than they themselves
have been satisfied to make, or rewrite contracts because they
operate harshly or inequitably as to one of the parties, or alter
them for the benefit of one party and to the detriment of the other,
or by construction, relieve one of the parties from the terms which
he voluntarily consented to, or impose on him those which he did
not."

IV. IN CASE OF CONFLICT BETWEEN THE WORDS


OF THE CONTRACT AND EVIDENT INTENTION
OF THE PARTIES, WHICH PREVAILS?
The second paragraph of Article 1370 answers the question. It
provides as follows:

"If the words -appear to be contrary to the evident


intention of the parties, the latter shall prevail over the
former."

V HOW TO JUDGE THE INTENTION OF THE PARTIES


Article 1371 of the New Civil Code provides as follows:

"In order to judge the intention of the contracting


parties, their contemporaneous and subsequent acts shall
be principally considered."
220 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

In Ramos v. Sarao, G.R. No. L-149756, February 11, 2005, it


was held that although the parties in the case denominated their
contract as a "Deed of Sale under Pacto de Retro," the "sellers" have
continued to possess and to reside at the subject house and lot. This
evident factual circumstance was plainly overlooked by the trial and
the appellate courts, thereby justifying a review of the case. This
overlooked fact clearly shows that the petitioner intended merely to
secure a loan, not to sell the property. Thus, the contract should be
deemed an equitable mortgage.

VI. RULES GOVERNING THE FOLLOWING:


(1) Effect of the use of several terms
(2) Effect of stipulations that admit of several meanings
(3) Effect of words which may have different significations
(4) Effect of usage or custom of the place
(5) Effect of obscure words or stipulation in a contract

VII. USE OF GENERAL TERMS


However general terms of a contract may be, they shall not be
understood to comprehend things that are distinct and cases that
are different from those upon which the parties intended to agree.

VIII. STIPULATIONS THAT ADMIT


GENERAL MEANINGS
If some stipulations of any contract should admit of several
meanings, it shall be understood as bearing that import which is
most adequate to render it effectual.

IX. USAGE OR CUSTOM OF THE PLACE


The usage or custom of the place shall be borne in mind in
the interpretation of the ambiguities of a contract, and shall fill the
omission of stipulations that are ordinarily established.

X OBSCURE WORDS OR STIPULATION


The interpretation of obscure words or stipulation in a contract
shall not favor the party who caused the obscurity.
CHAPTER IX 221
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION OF CONTRACTS

XI. RULE IN CASE OF DOUBT AS TO THE PRINCIPAL


OBJECT AND AS TO THE INCIDENTAL CIRCUMSTANCES
When it is absolutely impossible to settle doubts by the rules
established in the preceding articles, and the doubts refer to inciden-
tal circumstances of a gratuitous contract, the least transmission
of rights and interests shall prevail. If the contract is onerous, the
doubt shall be settled in favor of the greatest reciprocity of interests.

XII. OTHER RULES OF INTERPRETATION


Other rules of interpretation are found in Sections 9, 10, 11,
12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 of Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of
Court of the Philippines.
Section 9. Evidence of written agreements. - When the terms
of an agreement have been reduced to writing, it is considered as
containing all the terms agreed upon, and, there can be, between the
parties and their successors in interest, no evidence of such terms
other than the contents of the written agreement.
However, a party may present evidence to modify, explain or
add to the terms of the written agreement if he puts in issue in his
pleading:
(a) An intrinsic ambiguity, mistake or imperfection in the
written agreement;
(b) The failure of the written agreement to express the true
intent and agreement of the parties thereto;
(c) The validity of the written agreement; or
(d) The existence of other terms agreed to by the parties or
their successors in interest after the execution of the writ-
ten agreement.
The term "agreement" includes wills.
Section 10. Interpretation of a writing according to its legal
meaning. - The language of a writing is to be interpreted according
to the legal meaning it bears in the place of its execution, unless the
parties intended otherwise.
Section 11. Instrument construed so as to give effect to all provi-
sions. - In the construction of an instrument where there are several
provisions or particulars, such a construction is, if possible, to be
adopted as will give effect to all.
222 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Section. 12. Interpretation according to intention; general and


particular provisions. - In the construction of an instrument, the
intention of the parties is to be pursued; and when a general and
a particular provision are inconsistent, the latter is paramount to
the former. So a particular intent will control a general one that is
inconsistent with it.
Section 13. Interpretation according to circumstances. - For
the proper construction of an instrument, the circumstances under
which it was made, including the situation of the subject thereof and
of the parties to it, may be shown, so that the judge may be placed in
the position of those whose language he is to interpret.
Section 14. Peculiar signification of terms. - The terms of a
writing are presumed to have been used in their primary and gen-
eral acceptation, but evidence is admissible to show that they have
a local, technical, or otherwise peculiar signification, and were so
used and understood in the particular instance, in which the case
the agreement must be construed accordingly.
Section 15. Written words control printed. - When an instru-
ment consists partly of written words and partly of a printed form,
and the two are inconsistent, the former controls the latter.
Section 16. Experts and interpreters to be used in explaining
certain writings. - When the characters in which an instrument
is written are difficult to be deciphered, or the language is not un-
derstood by the court, the evidence of persons skilled in deciphering
the characters, or who understands the language, is admissible to
declare the characters of the meaning of the language.
Section 17. Of two constructions, which is preferred. - When
the terms of an agreement have been intended in a different sense
by the different parties to it, that sense is to prevail against either
party in which he supposed the other understood it, and when
different constructions of a provision are otherwise equally proper,
that is to be taken which is the most favorable to the party in whose
favor the provision was made.
Section 18. Construction in favor of natural right. - When an
instrument is equally susceptible of two interpretations, one in favor
of natural right and the other against it, the former is to be adopted.
Section 19. Interpretation according to usage. - An instrument
may be construed according to usage, in order to determine its true
character.
CHAPTER IX 223
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION OF CONTRACTS

IT IS THE INTENTION OF THE CONTRACTING PARTIES


THAT PREVAILS, FOR THE INTENTION IS THE SOUL OF
A CONTRACT, NOT ITS WORDING WHICH IS PRONE TO
MISTAKES, INADEQUACIES, OR AMBIGUITIES.

SALUN-AT MARQUEZ and NESTOR DELA CRUZ v.


ELOISA ESPEJO, et al.,
G.R. No. 168387, August 25, 2010

FACTS

Respondents Espejos were the original registered owners of two par-


cels of agricultural land in Bagabag, Nueva Viscaya, One is located at Ba-
rangay Lantap, tenanted by Nemi Fernandez, and the other in Barangay
Murong, tenanted by Marquez and Dela Cruz.
The respondents mortgaged both parcels of land to Rural Bank of
Bayombong, Inc (RBB1) to secure certain loans Upon their failure to pay,
the properties were foreclosed and sold to RBBI Eventually title to the
properties were issued in the name of RBBI TCT No T-62096 was issued
for the Murong property and TCT No T-62836 for the Lantap property.
Both TCTs describe their respective subjects as located in "Bagabag
Townsite, K-27," without any reference to either Barangays Lantap or
Murong.
On February 1985 respondents bought back one of their lots The
Deed of Sale did not mention the location but mentioned the TCT winch
corresponds to the Murong property. However, respondents never took
possession of the Murong property, or demanded lease rentals from
the tenants of the same, or otherwise exercised acts of ownership over
the and land On the contrary, Nemi continued workmg on the Lantap
property without any evidence that he ever paid rentals to RBBI or to any
landowner. The Deed of Sale was annotated on TCT No T-62096 almost a
decade later, on July 1, 1994
Meanwhile, on June 1990, R]3B1, pursuant to Section 20 and 21 of
RA No 6657 executed separate Deeds of Voluntary Land Transfer (VLTs)
in favor of Marquez and Dela Cruz Both VLTs described the subject land
is located in Barangay Murong and covered by TCT No T-62836.
After the petitioners completed the payment of the purchase price to
RBBI, the DAR issued the corresponding Certificates of Land Ownership
Award (CLOAa) on optenibor 5, 1091. Both CLOAa stated that parcekof
agricultural land were situated in Barangay Murong
224 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

On February 10, 1997, respondents filed a Complaint before the


Regional Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (RARAI)) for the cancellation of
CLOAs, the deposit of leasehold rentals by petitioners in favor of respon-
dents, and the execution of a deed of VLTs by RBBI in favor of respondent
Nemi based on theory that the Murong property, occupied by the peti-
tioners, was owned by the respondents by virtue of the 1985 buy-back, as
documented in the Deed of Sale. They based their claim on the fact that
their Deed of Sale refers to TCT No. 62096, which pertains to the Murong
property.

ISSUE:
Whether the admitted contents of the documents adequately and
correctly express the true intention of the parties.

HELD:
No. Admitted contents of the documents do not adequately and
correctly express the true intention of the parties
When the parties admit the contents of written documents but put
in issue whether these documents adequately and correctly express the
true intention of the parties, the deciding body is authorized to look beyond
these instruments and into the contemporaneous and subsequent actions
of the parties in order to determine such intent.
Well-settled is the rule that in case of doubt, it is the intention of the
contracting parties that prevails, for the intention is the soul of a contract,
not its wording which is prone to mistakes, inadequacies, or ambiguities.
To hold otherwise would give life, validity, and precedence to mere
typographical errors and defeat the very purpose of agreements.
The instant case falls under the exceptions to the Parol Evidence
Rule, as provided in the second paragraph of Rule 130, Section 9.
Here, the petitioners' VLTs suffer from intrinsic ambiguity. It de-
scribed the subject property as covered by TCT No. T-62836 (Lantap), and
also said that the location is in Barangay Murong. Even the respondents'
Deed of Sale falls under the exception to the Parol Evidence Rule because
it referred to 'PCT No. T-62096" (Murong property), however RBBI con-
tended that the true intent was to sell the Lantap property. In short, it was
squarely put in issue that the written agreement failed to express the true
intent of the parties.
Based on the foregoing, the resolution of the case necessitates an
examination of the parties' respective parol evidence, in order to determine
CHAPTER IX 225
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION OF CONTRACTS

the true intent of the parties. Well-settled is the rule that in case of doubt,
it is the intention of the contracting parties that prevails, for the intention
is the soul of a contract, not its wording which is prone to mistakes,
inadequacies, or ambiguities. To hold otherwise would give life, validity,
and precedence to mere typographical errors and defeat the very purpose
of agreements.
In this regard, guidance is provided by the following articles of the
Civil Code involving the interpretation of contracts:

Article 1370.11 the terms of a contract are clear and leave


no doubt upon the intention of the contracting parties the literal
meaning of its stipulations shall control.
If the words appear to be contrary to the evident intention
of the parties, the latter shall prevail over the former.
Article 1371. In order to judge the intention of the
cont racting parties, their contemporaneous and subsequent acts
shall be principally considered.

Rule 130, Section 13 which provides for the rules on the interpretation
of documents is likewise enlightening:

Section 13. Interpretation according to circumstances. -


For the proper construction of an instrument, the circumstances
under which it was made, including the situation of the subject
thereof and of the parties to it, may be shown, so that the judge
may be placed in the position of those whose language he is to
interpret.
Applying the foregoing guiding rules, it is clear that the Deed of Sale
was intended to transfer the Lantap property to the respondents, while
the VLTs were intended to convey the Murong property to the petitioners.
This may be seen from the contemporaneous and subsequent acts of the
parties.
The Supreme Court is convinced that the subject of the 1985 Deed of
Sale between RBBI and the respondents was the Lantap property because
after its execution, the respondents did not exercise acts of ownership
to show that they indeed knew and believed that they repurchased
the Murong property. They did not take possession of the same. As
admitted by the parties, the Murong property was in the possession of the
petitioners, who occupied and tilled the same without any objection from
the reopondento. Moreover, petitioner3 paid 1eaeho1d rentzLIB for uirLg the
Murong property to RBBI, not to the respondents.
226 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Aside from respondents' neglect of their alleged ownership rights


over the Murong, respondent Nemi is the farmer actually tilling Lantap,
without turning over the supposed landowner's share to RBBL This
strongly indicates that the respondents considered themselves (and not
RBB1) as the owners of the Lantap property.
Petitioners were found to be in actual possession of the Murong
property and were the qualified beneficiaries thereof. Thus, the DAR
officials issued CLOAs which explicitly refer to land in Barangay Murong
in petitioners' favor. All this time, petitioners were in possession of the
Murox proper(y, midisturbed by axiyoxie for several 1-I years, until

respondents started the controversy in 1997


All of these contemporaneous and subsequent actions of RBBI and
petitioners support their position that the subject of their contract (VLTs)
is the Murong property, not the Lantap property. Conversely, there
has been no contrary evidence of the parties' actuations to indicate that
they intended the sale of the Lantap property. Thus, it appears that the
reference in their VLT to TCT No. T-62836 (Lantap property) was due
to their honest but mistaken belief that the said title covers the Murong
property. Such a mistake is not farfetched considering that TCT No.
T-62836 only refers to the Municipality of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya,
and does not indicate the particular barangay, where the property is
located Moreover, both properties are bounded by a road and public land
Hence, were it not for the detailed technical description, the titles for the
two properties are very smiilar.
CHAPTER X
OTHER SUPREME COURT DECISIONS
INVOLVING THE SUBJECT OF
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

EMETERIA LIWAG v. HAPPY GLEN LOOP


HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC.
G.R. No. 189755, Jtily 4, 2012

PRINCIPLE:
WHERE A GENERAL WORD OR PHRASE FOLLOWS
AN ENUMERATION OF PARTICULAR AND SPECIFIC
WORDS OF THE SAME CLASS, THE GENERAL WORD OR
PHRASE IS TO BE CONSTRUED TO INCLUDE - OR TO BE
RESTRICTED TO -THINGS AKIN TO OR RESEMBLING, OR
OF THE SAME KIND OR CLASS AS, THOSE SPECIFICALLY
MENTIONED.
The basic statutory construction principle of ejusdem generis
states that where a general word or phrase follows an enumera-
tion of particular and specific words of the same class, the general
word or phrase is to be construed to include - or to be restricted to
- things akin to or resembling, or of the same kind or class as, those
specifically mentioned.
Applying this principle to the afore-quoted Section 1 of PD No.
1216, we find that the enumeration refers to areas reserved for the
common welfare of the community. Thus, the phrase "other similar
facilities and amenities" should be interpreted in like manner.

PHILIPPINE INTERNATIONAL TRADING


CORPORATION v.
COMMISSION ON AUDIT
G.R. No. 183517, June 22, 2010
PRINCIPLE:
EVERY PART OF THE STATUTE MUST BE
INTERPRETED WITH REFERENCE TO THE CONTEXT
It is a rule in statutory construction that every part of the
statute must be interpreted with reference to the context, i.e., that

227
228 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

every part of the statute must be considered together with the


other parts, and kept subservient to the general intent of the whole
enactment. Because the law must not be read in truncated parts, its
provisions must be read in relation to the whole law. The statute's
clauses and phrases must not, consequently, be taken as detached
and isolated expressions, but the whole and every part thereof must
be considered in fixing the meaning of any of its parts in order to
produce a harmonious whole. Consistent with the fundamentals of
statutory construction, all the words in the statute must be taken
into consideration in order to ascertain its meaning.

BATANGAS POWER CORPORATION vBATANGAS CITY


and NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION, G.R. No. 152675;
and NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION v.
HON. RICARDO R. ROSARIO, et at.,
G.R. No. 152771, April 28, 2004
FACTS:
Batangas Power Corporation (BPC) was registered with the
Board of Investments (BOl) on September 13, 1992. On September
23, 1992, the BOl issued a certificate of registration to BPC as a pio-
neer enterprise entitled to a tax holiday for 6 years. The BPC began
operating the power plant in Batangas City.
On October 12, 1998, Batangas City, through its legal officer,
demanded from the BPC payment of business taxes and penalties
from 1994 as provided for in Ordinance XI or the Batangas City Tax
Code. BPC refused to pay, citing its tax exempt status under Section
133(g) of the Local Government Code (LGC).
On April 15, 1999, the City Treasurer modified the City's tax
claim and demanded payment of business taxes from BPC only for
1998-1999 on the ground that BPC enjoyed the 6-year tax holiday
but such exemption period expired on September 22, 1998 or 6 years
after the BPC registered with the BOI.
BPC refused to pay and claimed that its commercial operation
commenced on July 16, 1993, the date designated by the BOT as the
start of its tax holiday on account of its failure to operate immedi-
ately on account of a force majeure. BPC claimed that the local tax
holiday is concurrent with the income tax holiday and asserted in
the alternative that tax should be collected from the NPC under the
BOT Agreement.
Because the BPC and Batangas City refused to budge from
their respective positions, the NPC intervened. While it admitted
CHAPTER X 229
OTHER SUPREME COURT DECISIONS INVOLVING
THE SUBJECT OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

assumption of BPC's tax obligations under the BOT Agreement, the


NPC refused to pay BPC's business tax as it allegedly constituted
an indirect tax on NPC, a tax-exempt corporation under its Charter.
Consequently, the BPC ified a petition for declaratory relief
with the Makati RTC against Batangas City and the NPC, and it
prayed for a ruling that it was not bound to pay the business taxes
imposed by the City. Pending the resolution of the case, the City
refused to issue to BPC a permit to operate business unless business
taxes amounting to around P29 Million were paid. The BPC, which
has its principal office in Makati City, then filed a supplemental
petition with the Makati RTC to convert its original petition to an
action for injunction to' enjoin the City from withholding the issuance
of its business permit and closing its plant. The City opposed on the
grounds of lack of jurisdiction and lack of cause of action;
The Makati RTC' admitted the supplemental petition but on
February 27, 2002, it dismissed the injunction, holding that: (1) BPC
is liable to pay business taxes to the City; (2) NPC's tax exemption
was withdrawn with'the passage of HA No. 7160 (LGC); and (3) the
6-year tax holiday granted to pioneer business enterprises starts
from the date of registration with the BOl under Section 133(g) of
the LGC, and not on the date of actual business operation.
Hence, BPC and NPC filed a petition for review on certiorari
with the Supreme Court. The petitions were consolidated.
HELD:
The effect of the LGC on the tax exemption privileges of the
NPC has already been extensively discussed and settled in the recent
case of National Power Corporation v. City of Cabanatuan. In said
case, this Court recognized the removal of the blanket exclusion of
government instrumentalities from local taxation as one of the most
significant provisions of the 1991 LGC. Specifically, [the Court]
stressed that Sec. 193 of the LGC, an express and general
repeal of all statutes granting exemptions from local taxes,
withdrew the sweeping tax privileges previously enjoyed by
the NPC under its Charter. We explained the rationale for
this provision, thus:
In recent years, the increasing social challenges of the times
expanded the scope of the state activity, and taxation has become a
tool to realize social justice and the equitable distribution of wealth,
economic progress and the protection of local industries as well
as public welfare and similar objectives. Taxation assumes even
230 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

greater significance with the ratification of the 1987 Constitution.


Thenceforth, the power to tax is no longer vested exclusively on
Congress; local legislative bodies are now given direct authority to
levy taxes, fees and other charges pursuant to Article X, Section 5 of
the 1987 Constitution, viz:

Section 5. - Each Local Government unit shall


have the power to create its own sources of revenue to levy
taxes, fees and charges subject to such guidelines and
limitations as the Congress may provide, consistent with
the basic policy of local autonomy. Such taxes, fees and
charges shall accrue exclusively to the Local Governments.
This paradigm shift results from the realization that genuine
development can be achieved only by strengthening local autonomy
and promoting decentralization of governance. For a long time, the
country's highly centralized government structure has bred a culture
of dependence among local government leaders upon the national
leadership. It has also "dampened the spirit of initiative, innovation
and imaginative resilience in matters of local development on the
part of local government leaders. The only way to shatter this culture
of dependence is to give the LGUs a wider role in the delivery of
basic services, and confer them sufficient powers to generate their
own sources for the purpose. To achieve this goal, x x x the 1987
Constitution mandates Congress to enact a local government code
that will, consistent with the basic policy of local autonomy, set the
guidelines and limitations to this grant of taxing powers x x x"
To recall, prior to the enactment of the x x x Local Government
Code x x x, various measures have been enacted to promote local
autonomy. x x x Despite these initiatives, however, the shackles of
dependence on the national government remained. Local government
units were faced with the same problems that hamper their
capabilities to participate effectively in the national development
efforts, among which are: (a) inadequate tax base; (b) lack of fiscal
control over external sources of income; (c) limited authority to
prioritize and approve development projects;-..(d) heavy dependence
on external sources of income; and (e) limited supervisory control
over personnel of national line agencies.
Considered as the most revolutionary piece of legislation on
local autonomy, the LGC effectively deals with the fiscal constraints
faced by LGU. It widen tax base of LGUa to includc taxes which
were prohibited by previous laws x x x
CHAPTER 231
OTHER SUPREME COURT DECISIONS INVOLVING
THE SUBJECT OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Neither can the NPC successfully rely on the Basco case as this
was decided prior to the effectivity of the LGC, when there was still
no law empowering local government units to tax instrumentalities
of the national government.
Consequently, when NPC assumed the tax liabilities of the
BPC under their 1992 BOT Agreement, the LGC which removed
NPC's tax exemption privileges had already been in effect for six (6)
months. Thus, while BPC remains to be the entity doing business
in said City, it is the NPC that is ultimately liable to pay said taxes
under the provisions of both the 1992 BOT Agreement and the 1991
Local Government Code
Hence, the petition of BPC and NPC were dismissed.

LUCIOMORIGO v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES


G R No 145226, February 6, 2004
Liberal construction of penal statutes in favor
of the accused
FACTS:
Lucia Barrete and Lucio Morigo were married on August 30,
1990 in Catagdaan, Pilar, Bohol A week later, Lucia reported back
to her work in Canada leaving appellant Lucio behind. Barely a year
thereafter, Lucia filed with the Ontario Court (General Division) a
petition for divorce against appellant, which was granted by the
court on January 17, 1992 and to take effect on February 17, 1992
On October 4, 1992, appellant Lucio Morigo married Maria
Jececha Lumbago in Tagbilaran City, Bohol.
On September 21, 1993, accused filed in the RTC Bohol a
complaint for judicial declaration of nullity of accused's marriage
with Lucia, on the ground that no marriage ceremony actually took
place.
On October 19, 1993, appellant was charged with Bigamy in an
Information filed with the RTC Bohol.
After trial, appellant was convicted of bigamy, which conviction
was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Hence, the petition.

HELD:
In Marbella-Bobis v. Bobis, we laid down the elements of
bigamy, thus:
232 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

1. the offender has been legally married;


2. the first marriage has not been legally dissolved, or in
case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse has not
been judicially declared presumptively dead;
3. he contracts a subsequent marriage; and
4. the subsequent marriage would have been valid had it not
been for the existence of the first.
Applying the forgoing test to the instant case, we note that
during the pendency of CA-G.R. CR No. 20700, the RTC of Bohol
Branch 1, handed down the following decision in Civil Case No.
6020, to wit:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is


hereby rendered decreeing the annulment of the marriage
entered into by petitioner Lucio Morigo and Lucia Barrete
on August 23, 1990 in Pilar, Bohol and further directing
the Local Civil Registrar of Pilar, Bohol to effect the
cancellation of the marriage contract.
SO ORDERED.

1. The trial court found that there was no actual marriage


ceremony performed between Lucio and Lucia by a solemnizing
officer. Instead, what transpired was a mere signing of the marriage
contract by the two, without the presence of solemnizing officer. The
trial court thus held that the marriage is void ab initio, in accordance
with Articles 3 and 4 of the Family Code. xxx The records show that
no appeal was taken from the decision of the trial court in Civil Case
No. 6620, hence, the decision had long become final and executory.
2. The first element of bigamy as a crime requires that the
accused must have been legally married. But in this case, legally
speaking, the petitioner was never married to Lucia Barrete.
Thus, there is no first marriage to speak of. Under the principle
of retroactivity of a marriage being declared void ab initio, the two
were never married "from the beginning." The contract of marriage
is null; it bears no legal effect. Taking this argument to its logical
conclusion, for legal purposes, petitioner was not married to Lucia
at the time he contracted the marriage with Maria Jececha. The
existence and the validity of the first marriage being an essential
element of the crime of bigamy, it is but logical that a conviction for
said offense cannot be sustained where there is no first marriage to
CHAPTER X 233
OTHER SUPREME COURT DECISIONS INVOLVING
THE SUBJECT OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

speak of The petitioner, must, perforce be acquitted of the instant


charge.
3. The present case is analogous to, but must be distinguished
from Mercado v. Tan. In the latter case, the judicial declaration of
nullity of the first marriage was likewise obtained after the second
marriage was already celebrated. We held therein that:

A judicial declaration of nullity of a previous mar-


riage is necessary before a subsequent one can be legally
contracted. One who enters into a 5ubsequent marriage
without first obtaining such judicial declaration is guilty
of bigamy. This principle applies even if the earlier union
is characterized by statutes as "void."
4. It bears stressing though that in Mercado, the first mar-
riage was actually solemnized not just once, but twice: first before a
judge where a marriage certificate was duly issued and then again
six months later before a priest in religious rites. Ostensibly, at
least, the first marriage appeared to have transpired, although later
declared void ab initio.
5. In the instant case, however, no marriage ceremony at all
was performed by a duly authorized solemnizing officer. Petitioner
and Lucia Barrete merely signed a marriage contract on their
own. The mere private act of signing a marriage contract bears no
semblance to a valid marriage and thus, need no judicial declaration
of nullity. Such act alone, without more, cannot be deemed to
constitute an ostensibly valid marriage for which petitioner might
be held liable for bigamy unless he first secures a judicial declaration
of nullity before he contracts a subsequent marriage.
The last issue involves the subject of statutory construction. In
this connection, the Supreme Court ruled as follows:
"The law abhors an injustice and the Court is mandated
to liberally construe a penal statue in favor of an accused
and weigh every circumstance in favor of the presumption of
innocence to ensure that justice is done. Under the circum-
stances of the present case, we held that petitioner has not
committed bigamy. Further, we also find that we need not
tarry on the issue of the validity of his defense of good faith
or lack of criminal intent, which is now moot and academic."
Hence, the assailed decision is SET ASIDE and the appellant
is ACQUITTED of the offense of bigamy.
234 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

UNITED HARBOR PILOTS' ASSN. OF THE PHILS.,


INC. v. ASSN. OF INT'L SHIPPING LINES
G.R. No. 133763, November 13, 2002

FACTS:
In 1985, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) issued an Ad-
ministrative Order on the payment of additional charges for pilot-
age services on Sundays and Holidays referring to "nighttime and
overtime pay." In 1986, the President issued Executive Order No.
1088 providing for uniform and modified rates for pilotage services
without mentioning nighttime and overtime pay. The Executive Or-
der contains a repealing clause that all orders, letters of instruction,
rules, regulations and issuances inconsistent with it are repealed or
amended accordingly.

ISSUE:
Whether the Executive Order repealed the Administrative
Order.

HELD:
No, the Executive Order did not repeal the Administrative
Order The Executive Order provides a general repealing clause,
the effect of which fails under the category of an implied repeal,
as it does not identify the orders, rules or regulations it intends to
abrogate.
Repeal by implication is frowned upon in this jurisdiction. It
is not favored, unless it is manifestly intended by the legislative
authority enacting it or, unless it is convincingly and unambiguously
demonstrated that the subject laws or orders are clearly repugnant
and patently inconsistent that they cannot co-exist. This is because
the legislative authority is presumed to know the existing law so
that if repeal is intended, the proper step is to express it.

NOTES
In 1922, the Supreme Court in Lichauco & Co v Apostol, 44
Phil. 138 ruled that:

"x x x Repeal by implication proceeds on the pre-


mise that where a statute of a later date clearly reveals
an intention on the part of the legislature to abrogate
a prior act on the subject, that intention must be given
CHAPTER X 235
OTHER SUPREME COURT DECISIONS INVOLVING
THE SUBJECT OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

effect. However, before repeal by implication will be de-


creed, there must be a sufficient revelation of the legisla-
tive intent to repeal; the intention to repeal must be clear
and manifest; otherwise, at least as a general rule, the
latter act is to be construed as a continuation of, and not
a substitute for, the first act and will continue to speak
so far as the acts are the same, from the time of the first
enactment. x x x"

1992 CASES
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v.
SANDIGANBAYAN AND CEFERINO S. PAREDES, JR.
G.R. No. 101724
SUPREME COURT
PRINCIPLES:
B.P. BLG. 195 WHICH AMENDED SECTION 11
OF REPUBLIC ACT 3019 CANNOT BE GIVEN
RETROACTIVE APPLICATION
THE DATE OF THE VIOLATION OF THE LAW BE-
COMES THE OPERATIVE DATE FOR THE COM-
MENCEMENT OF THE PERIOD OF PRESCRIP-
TION
"[B.P.] 195 which was approved on March 16, 1982, amending
Sec[tion] 11 of RA No. 3019 by increasing from ten (10) to fifteen
(15) years the period for the prescription or extinguishment of a
violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, may not be
given retroactive application to the "crime" which was committed
by Paredes in January 1976 yet, for it would be prejudicial to the
benefit of the shorter (10 years) prescriptive period under Sec[tion]
11, RA [No.] 3019 which was an essential element of the "crime" at
the time he committed it."

"Protection from prosecution under a statute of limi-


tation is a substantive right. Where the statute fixes a
period of limitation as to the prosecution for a particular
offense, the limitation so fixed is jurisdictional, and the
time within which the offense is committed is a jurisdic-
tional fact, it being necessary that the indictment of in-
formation be actually filed within the time prescribed."
(22 CJS 574)
236 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

"Fact that the statute of limitations is jurisdictional


necessarily determined that a prosecution within the
period specified is an essential element of the offense."
(People v. Allen, 118 P. 2d, 927)
"Unless statutes of limitation are clearly retrospec-
tive in their terms, they do not apply to crimes previously
committed." (22 CJS 576; People v. Lurd, 12 Hun 282;
Martine u. State, 24 Tex 61) (Underscoring supplied)

To apply B.P. 195 to Paredes would make it an ex post facto


law for it would alter his situation to his disadvantage by making
him criminally liable for a crime that has already been extinguished
under the law existing when it was committed. An ex post facto law
is defined as:

"A law passed after the occurence of a fact or com-


mission of an act, which retrospectively changes the legal
consequences or relations of such fact or deed. By Art[idle]
1, Sec[tion] 10 of U.S. Const., the states are forbidden to
pass any ex post facto law. Most all state constitutions
contain similar prohibitions against ex post facto laws.
An ex post facto law is defined as a law which pro-
vides for the infliction of punishment upon a person for
an act done which, when it was committed, was innocent;
a law which aggravates a crime or makes it greater than
when it was committed; a law that changes the punish-
ment than the law annexed to the crime when it was com-
mitted; a law that changes the rules of evidence and re-
ceives less or different testimony than what was required
at the time of the commission of the offense in order to
convict the offender; a law which, assuming to regulate
civil rights and remedies only, in effect imposes a penalty
or deprivation of a right which, when done, was lawful; a
law which deprives persons accused of crime of some law-
ful protection to which they have become entitled, such
as the protection of a former conviction of amnesty; every
law which, in relation to the offense or its consequenc-
es, alters the situation of a person to his disadvantage.
(Wilensky v. Fields, Fla., 267 So. 2d 1, 57' (Black's Law
Dictionary, Fifth Edition, p. 520)

Since an ex post facto law is prescribed by our Constitution


(Section 22, Article III, 1987 Constitution), the Sandiganbayan corn-
CHAPTER X 237
OTHER SUPREME COURT DECISIONS INVOLVING
THE SUBJECT OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION
mitted no reversible error in ruling that Paredes may no longer be
prosecuted for his supposed violation of RA No. 3019 in 1976, six (6)
years before B.P. 195 was approved on March 16, 1982. The new pre-
scriptive period under that law should apply only to those offenses
which were committed after the approval of B.P. 195."
(2) The date of the violation of the law becomes the operative
date for the commencement of the period of prescription.
The Sandiganbayan correctly observed that "the date of the
violation of the law becomes the operative date for the commencement
of the period of prescription." (Rollo, p.34)
Assuming that Paredes did induce Lands Inspector Luison
to recommend approval of his application for free patent (which
both of them denied doing), the date of violation, for the purpose of
computing the period of prescription, would be the date of filing his
application on January 21, 1976.
The theory of the prosecution that the prescriptive period should
not commence upon the filing of Paredes' application because no
one could have known about it except Paredes and Lands Inspector
Luison, is not correct for, as the Sandiganbayan pointedly observed:
"It is not only the Lands Inspector who passes upon the disposability
of public land x x x other public officials pass upon the application
for a free patent including the location of the land and, therefore,
the disposable character thereof' (Rollo, p. 30). Indeed, practically
all the department personnel, who had a hand in processing and
approving the application, namely: (1) the lands inspector who
inspected the land to ascertain its location and occupancy; (2) the
surveyor who prepared its technical description; (3) the regional
director who assessed the application and determined the land
classification; (4) the director of Lands who prepared the free
patent; and (5) the Department Secretary who signed it, could not
have helped "discovering" that the subject of the application was
nondisposable public agricultural land.
The Sandiganbayan correctly observed that the "crime" wheth-
er it was the filing of Paredes' application for a free patent in Janu-
ary 1976 or his supposedly having induced Luison to recommend
its approval, prescribed ten (10) years later, on January 21, 1986.
Gelacio's complaint, dated October 28, 1986, was filed late.
The reason for the extinction of the State's right to prosecute a
crime after the lapse of the statutory limitation period for filing the
criminal action, is that:
238 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

"Statutes of Limitation are construed as being acts of


grace, and as a surrendering by the sovereign of its right
to prosecute or of its right to prosecute at its discretion,
and they are considered as equivalent to acts of amnesty.
Such statutes are founded on the liberal theory that
prosecutions should not be allowed to ferment endlessly in
the files of the government to explode only after witnesses
and proofs necessary to the protection of accused have by
sheer lapse of time passed beyond availability. They serve,
not only to bar prosecutions on aged and untrustworthy
evidence, but also to cut off prosecution for crimes, a
reasonable time after completion, when no further danger
to society is contemplated from the criminal activity." (22
CJS573-574)
"In the absence of a special provision otherwise, the
statute of Limitations begins to run on the commission
of an offense and not from the time when the offense is
discovered or when the offender becomes known, or it
normally begins to run when the crime is complete." (22
CJS 585) (Underscoring supplied)

Even if ten-year prescriptive period commenced to run from the


registration and issuance of the free patent title by the Register of
Deeds on May 28, 1976, registration being constructive notice to the
whole world, the prescriptive period would have fully run its course
on May 28, 1986, or five (5) months before Gelacio filed his complaint,
and more than thirteen (13) years before judicial proceedings were
initiated in the Sandiganbayan on August 10, 1989, by the filing of
the information therein.

1991 CASES

TUPAS v. COURT OF APPEALS


G.R. No. 89571, February 6, 1991.
PRINCIPLE:

AEQUITASNUNQUAM CONTRA VENIT LEGIS


(EQUITY CANNOT PREVAIL OVER LAW)
Equity is available only in the absence of law and not as its
replacement. Equity is described as justice outside legality, which
simply means that it cannot supplant although it may, as often hap-
pens, supplement the law. All abstract arguments based only on eq-
CHAPTER X 239
OTHER SUPREME COURT DECISIONS INVOLVING
THE SUBJECT OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

uity should yield to positive rules, which preempt and prevail over
such persuasions. Emotional appeals to justice, while they may ring
the heart of the Court, cannot justify disregard of the mandate of
the law as long as it remains in force. The applicable maxim, which
goes back to the ancient days of the Roman jurists - and is now still
reverently observed - is "aequUas nun quam contravenit legs"
On June 26, 1991, The Supreme Court made an additional pro-
nouncement in Soriano v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-93401, thus:
"The application by the trial court of its equity
jurisdiction is misplaced Equity is available only in the
absence of law and not as its replacement. All abstract
arguments based only on equity should yield to positive
rules (judicial rules of procedure), which preempt and
prevail over such persuasions Moreover, a court acting
without jurisdiction cannot justify its assumption thereof
by invoking its equity jurisdiction."

JOINT MINISTRY OF HEALTH-MINISTRY OF LABOR


AND EMPLOYMENT ACCREDITATION COMMITTEE
FOR MEDICAL CLINICS v. COURT OF APPEALS
G R No 78254, April 25, 1991

PRINCIPLE:
LAWS SHOULD BE PUBLISHED AS A CONDITION
FOR THEIR EFFECTIVITY
All statutes, including those of local application and private
laws, shall be published as a condition for their effectivity, which
shall begin fifteen days after publication unless a different effectivity
date is fixed by the legislature.
Covered by this rule are presidential decrees and executive
orders promulgated by the President in the exercise of legislative
powers whenever the same are validly delegated by the legislature
or, at present, directly conferred by the Constitution. Administrative
rules and regulations must also be published if their purpose is so
enforce or implement existing law pursuant also to valid delegation.
Interpretative regulations and those merely internal in nature
i.e. , regulating only the personnel of the administrative agency and
not the public, need not be published Neither is publication required
of the so-called letters of instructions issued by administrative
240 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

superiors concerning the rules or guidelines to be followed by their


subordinates in the performance of their duties.
This ruling amplifies the ruling in Tañada v. Tuvera, 146
SCRA 446.

MACEDA v. MACARAIG
G.R. No. 88291, May 31, 1991
PRINCIPLE:
REPEAL BY IMPLICATION IS NOT FAVORED;
STRICTISSIMI JURIS (STRICT INTERPRE-
TATION);
ADMINISTRATIVE INTERPRETATION
HAS WEIGHT
Repeal by implication is not favored unless it is manifest that
the legislature so intended. As laws are presumed to be passed
with deliberation and with knowledge of all existing ones on the
subject, it is logical to conclude that in passing a statute it is not
intended to interfere with or abrogate a former law relating to the
same subject matter, unless the repugnancy between the two is not
only irreconcilable but also clear and convincing as a result of the
language used, or unless the latter act fully embraces the subject
matter of the earlier. The first effort of a court must always be to
reconcile or adjust the provisions of one statute with those of another
so as to give sensible effect to both provisions.
The law did not intend that the provisions of PD No. 938 should
be construed strictly against the National Power Corporation.
On the contrary, the law mandates that it should be interpreted
liberally so as to enhance the tax-exempt status of the National
Power Corporation. Hence, the rule on strictissimi juris with respect
to the interpretation of statutes granting tax exemptions to the NPC
cannot be invoked.
The reason for the rule does not apply in the case of exemptions
running to the benefit of the government itself or its agencies. In
such case the practical effect of an exemption is merely to reduce the
amount of money that has to be handled by government in the course
of its operations. For these reasons, provisions granting exemptions
to government agencies may be construed liberally, in favor of non-
tax liability of such agencies.
CHAPTER X 241
OTHER SUPREME COURT DECISIONS INVOLVING
THE SUBJECT OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

In the case of property owned by the State or a city or other


public corporations, the express exemption should not be construed
with the same degree of strictness that applies to exemptions contrary
to the policy of the State, since as to such property, exemption is the
rule and taxation the exception.
The construction of PD No. 938 by the office charged with its
implementation should be given controlling weight.

PHILIPPINE PETROLEUM CORPORATION


v MUNICIPALITY OF PILILIA
G.R. No. 90776, June 3, 1991
PRINCIPLE:
EXECUTIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE ACTS MUST
BE IN HARMONY WITH STATUTES
Administrative regulations must be in harmony with the
provisions of the law. In case of discrepancy between the basic law
and an implementing rule or regulation, the former prevails.

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES v. INTERMEDIATE


APPELLATE COURT
G.R. No. 69344, April 26, 1991
PRINCIPLE:
TAX STATUTES ARE TO BE CONSTRUED STRICT-
LY AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT AND LIBERAL-
LY IN FAVOR OF THE TAXPAYERS
In case of doubt, tax statutes are to be construed strictly against
the government and liberally in favor of the taxpayer, for taxes,
being burdens, are not to be presumed beyond what the applicable
statute (e.g. PD No. 213) expressly and clearly declares.

BASCO v. PAGCOR
G.R. No. 91649, May 14, 1991
PRINCIPLE:
ALL PRESUMPTIONS ARE INDULGED IN FAVOR
OF CONSTITUTIONALITY
One who attacks a statute alleging unconstitutionality must
prove its invalidity beyond a reasonable doubt. That a law may
work hardship does not render it unconstitutional. If any reasonable
basis may be conceived which supports the statute, it will be upheld
242 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

and the challenger. must negate all possible basis. The. courts are
not concerned with the wisdom, justice, policy or expediency of a
statute. A liberal interpretation of the Constitution in favor of the
constitutionality of legislation should be adopted.

COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE


v. COURT OF TAX APPEALS
G.R. No. 44007, March 20, 1991
PRINCIPLE:
THE FRANCHISE IS THE LAW BETWEEN THE
PARTIES AND THEY ARE BOUND BY THE TERMS
THEREOF
A legislative franchise partakes of the nature of a contract.
Franchises spring from contracts between the sovereign power
and private citizens made upon valuable considerations, for purposes
of individual advantage as well as public benefit. The obligation
vesting upon the grantee to comply with the terms and conditions
of the grant constitutes sufficient consideration. The benefit to the
community may constitute the sole consideration for the grant of a
franchise by the State. Such being the case, the franchise is the law
between the parties and they are bound by the terms thereof.

DE VILLA v. COURT OF APPEALS


G.R. No. 87416, April 8, 1991
PRINCIPLE:
LEGISLATWE, PROCEEDINGS MAY SERVE AS
GUIDES IN DETERMINING THE CONSTRUCTION
OF STATUTE OF DOUBTFUL MEANING
Courts may avail themselves of the actual proceedings of the
legislative body to assist in determining the construction of a statute
of doubtful meaning. Thus, where there is doubt as to what a provi-
sion of a statute means, the meaning put to the provision during the
legislative deliberation or discussion on the bill shall be adopted.

CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION v. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY


G.R. No. 83815, February 22, 1991
PRINCIPLES:
A DOUBTFUL PROVISION WILL BE EXAMINED
IN THE LIGHT OF THE HISTORY OF THE TIMES
CHAPTER X 243
OTHER SUPREME COURT DECISIONS INVOLVING
THE SUBJECT OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

NO PROVISION OF THE CONSTITUTION IS TO


BE SEPARATED FROM ALL THE OTHERS
IT IS EVIDENT THAT THE. 1987 CONSTITUTION
SEEKS TO IMPOSE A STRICTER PROHIBITION
ON THE PRESIDENT, VICE PRESIDENT, CABI-
NET MEMBER, THEIR DEPUTIES AND ASSIS-
TANTS WITH RESPECT TO HOLDING MULTIPLE
OFFICES OR EMPLOYMENT IN GOVERNMENT
DURING THEIR TENURE
THE CONSTITUTION IS NOT TO BE INTERPRETED
AS DEMANDING THE IMPRACTICABLE
DEBATES IN THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVEN-
TION GIVE NO LIGHT AS TO THE VIEWS OF THE
MAJORITY WHO DID NOT TALK
On its face, the language of Section 13, Article VII, is prohi-
bitory so that it must be understood as intended to be a positive
and unequivocal negation of the privilege of holding multiple
government offices or employment. Whenever the language used in
the Constitution is prohibitory, it is to be understood as intended to
be positive and unequivocal negation. The phrase "unless otherwise
provided by this Constitution" must be given a literal interpretation
to refer only to those particular instances cited in the Constitution
itself, to wit: the Vice-President being appointed as a member of the
Cabinet under Sec. 3, par. (2), Article VII; or acting as President in
those instances provided under Section 7, pars. (2) and (3), Article
VII; and, the Secretary of Justice being ex officio member of the
Judicial and Bar Council by virtue of Section 8 (1), Article VIII.
A Constitution, viewed as a continuously operative charter of
government, is not to be interpreted as demanding the impossible
or the impracticable; and unreasonable or absurd consequences, if
possible, should be avoided.
While it is permissible to consult the debates and proceedings
of the constitutional convention in order to arrive at the reason and
purpose of the resulting Constitution, resort thereto may be had only
when other guides fail as said proceedings are powerless to vary the
terms of the Constitution when the meaning is clear.
Debates in the constitutional convention are of value as
showing the views of the individual members, and as indicating the
reasons for their votes, but they give no light as to the views of the
large majority who did not talk, much less of the mass of our fellow
244 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

citizens whose votes at the polls gave that instrument the force of
fundamental law. It is safer to construe the Constitution from what
appears upon its face. The proper interpretation therefore depends
more on how it was understood by the people adopting it than in the
framers' understanding thereof.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. DONATO


G.R. No. 79269, June 5, 1991
PRINCIPLE:
PENAL LAWS SHALL HAVE RETROACTIVE
EFFECT INSOFAR AS THEY FAVOR THE PERSON
GUILTY OF A FELONY
WAIVER IN DEROGATION OF A STATUTORY
RIGHT IS NOT FAVORED
Penal laws shall have a retroactive effect insofar as they favor
the person guilty of a felony, who is not a habitual criminal, as this
term is defined in Article 62 of the Revised Penal Code, although at
the time of the publication of such laws a final sentence has been
pronounced and the convict is serving the same.
Rights guaranteed to one accused of a crime fall naturally into
two classes: (a) those in which the State, as well as the accused, is
interested; and (b) those which are personal to the accused, which
are in the nature of personal privileges. Those of the first class
cannot be waived. Those of the second may be.

BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS v. JUDGE DE LA ROSA


G.R. No. 95122
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS v. JUDGE CAPULONG
G.R. No. 95123
GATCHALIAN v. BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
G.R. Nos. 95612-13, May 31, 1991

PRINCIPLE:
LEX LOCI CELEBRATIONIS
The Philippine law, following the lex loci celebratioais, adheres
to the rule that a marriage formally valid where celebrated is valid
everywhere. Referring to marriages contracted abroad, Article 71 of
the Civil Code (now Article 26 of the Family Code) provides that "all
marriages performed outside the Philippines in accordance with the
CHAPTER X 245
OTHER SUPREME COURT DECISIONS INVOLVING
THE SUBJECT OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

laws in force in the country where they were performed, and valid
there as such, shall also be valid in this country..." And any doubt as
to the validity of the matrimonial unity and the extent as to how far
the validity of such marriage may be extended to the consequences
of the coverture is answered by Article 220 of the Civil Code in this
manner: "In case of doubt, all presumptions favor the solidarity of
the family. Thus, every intendment of law or facts lean towards the
validity of marriage, the indissolubility of the marriage bonds, the
legitimacy of children, the community of property during marriage,
the authority of parenth over their children, and the validity of
defense for any member of the family in case of unlawful aggression."
Bearing in mind the "processual presumption," he who asserts that
the marriage is not valid under our law bears the burden of proof to
present the foreign law.

1990 CASES
ALVENDIA v. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT
G.R. No. 72138, January 22, 1990
PRINCIPLE:
EQUITABLE REASONS WILL NOT CONTROL
AGAINST ANY WELL-SETTLED RULE OF LAW
Equity is justice outside legality. It applies only in the absence
of and never against statutory law or judicial rules or procedure.
"Equity follows the law" but where the law gives a particular remedy
and that remedy is bounded and circumscribed by particular rules,
it would be improper for the court to take it up where the law leaves
it and to extend it further than the law allows. Courts exercising
equity jurisdiction are bound by rules of law and have no arbitrary
discretion to disregard them. Equitable reasons will not control
against any well-settled rule of law or public policy.

MERIDIAN ASSURANCE CORPORATION


v. DAYRIT
G.R. No. 59154, April 3, 1990
PRINCIPLE:
IN THE ABSENCE OF A CLEAR CONTRARY
INTENTION, WORDS AND PHRASES IN STATUTES
SHOULD NOT BE INTERPRETED IN ISOLATION
FROM ONE ANOTHER
246 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

THE MONETARY BOARD CANNOT REWRITE


OTHER LAWS. THAT FUNCTION IS VESTED
SOLELY WITH THE LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY
In a suit by the First Western Bank and Trust Company
against Atlas Timber Company, et al., the trial judge rendered judg-
ment ordering Meridian Assurance Corporation to pay First West-
ern the sum of $21,933.38 or its equivalent in pesos at the rate of
P3.9390 to a dollar, with interest at the legal rate from the filing of
the complaint.
Thereafter, Meridian wrote First Western offering to pay
the amount of the judgment with 6% interest per annum and the
approved costs of P237. First Western rejected the offer, its view
being that the rate of interest should be 12% per annum in accordance
with Central Bank Circular No. 416.
Meridian then filed with the trial court a motion manifesting
its deposit with the court of the amount of P170,061.03 representing
the principal indebtedness, the 6% interest on the principal debt
at 6% per annum, and costs of the suit, praying that the deposit be
allowed, that it be considered full satisfaction of the judgment, and
that enforcement of the writ of execution be restrained. The trial
court denied the motion stating that Central Bank Circular No. 416
had changed the legal rate of interest from 6% to 12% per annum.

ISSUE:
The sole issue concerns the rate of interest properly imposable
in relation to a judgment for payment of money: 6%, as provided
by Article 2209 of the Civil Code or 12% conformably with Central
Bank Circular No. 416.

HELD:
1. The issue had already been passed upon and resolved by
the Court in two earlier cases. In one case, the Court held
that the "judgments spoken of and referred to are (only)
judgments in litigations involving loans or forbearance of
any money, goods or credits." It declared that any kind
of monetary judgment which has nothing to do with, nor
involving loans or forbearance of any money, goods or
credits does not fall within the coverage of the said law
(PD No. 116) for it is not within the ambit of the authority
granted to the Central Bank. The Monetary Board may
not tread on forbidden grounds. It cannot rewrite other
CHAPTER X 247
OTHER SUPREME COURT DECISIONS INVOLVING
THE SUBJECT OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

laws. That function is vested solely with the legislative


authority.
2. Section 1-a of Act No. 2655, as amended which, as dis-
tinguished from Sec. 1 of the same law, appears to be the
actual and operative grant of authority to the Monetary
Board of the Central Bank to prescribe maximum rates of
interest where the parties have not stipulated thereon in
excluding mention of rates allowed in judgments, should,
at the least be considered as limiting the authority thus
granted only to loans or forbearances of money, etc., and
to judgments involving such loans or forbearances

SONGCO, et al. v. NATIONAL LABOR


RELATIONS COMMISSION
G.R. Nos. 50999-51000, March 23, 1990
PRINCIPLE:
• LABOR LEGISLATION AND LABOR CONTRACTS
SHALL BE CONSTRUED IN FAVOR OF THE
SAFETY AND DECENT LIVING OF THE LABORER
In carrying out and interpreting the Labor Code' s provisions
and its implementing regulations, the workingman's welfare
should be the primordial and paramount consideration. This kind
of interpretation gives meaning and substance to the liberal and
compassionate spirit of the law as provided for in Article 4 of the
Labor Code which states that "all doubts in the implementation
and interpretation of the provision of the Labor Code including its
implementing rules and regulations shall be resolved in favor of
labor, and Article 1702 of the Civil Code which provides that "in
case of doubt, all labor legislation and all labor contracts shall be
construed in favor of the safety and decent living for the laborer."

FIESTAN v COURT OF APPEALS


G R No 81552, May 28, 1990
PRINCIPLE:
A SPECIFIC STATUTE PREVAILS OVER A GEN-
ERAL STATUTE
The mortgagor sought the nullity of the extrajudicial foreclosure
sale on the ground that the mortgagee (DBP) cannot acquire by
purchase the mortgaged property at the public auction sale by virtue
of paragraph (2) of Article 1491 and paragraph (7) of Article 1409 of
248 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

the Civil Code which prohibits agents from acquiring by purchase,


even at a public or judicial auction, either in person or through the
mediation of another, the property whose administration or sale may
have been entrusted to them, unless the consent of the principal has
been given.

PHILIPPINE AIRLINES, INC.


v. COURT OF APPEALS
G.R. No. 54470, May 8, 1990
PRINCIPLE:
FOREIGN JURISPRUDENCE IS ONLY PER-
SUASIVE
RESORT TO FOREIGN JURISPRUDENCE IS
PROPER ONLY IF THERE IS NO LAW OR JURIS-
PRUDENCE THAT IS AVAILABLE LOCALLY TO
SETTLE A CONTROVERSY
Petitioner relies on "the principle of law generally recognized
and applied by the courts in the United States "that" the controlling
element in determining loss of earnings arising from death is, as
established by authorities, the life expectancy of the deceased or of
the beneficiary, whichever is shorter."

HELD:
1. Resort to foreign jurisprudence would be proper only if no
law or jurisprudence is available locally to settle a controversy. Even
in the absence of local statute and case law, foreign jurisprudence is
only persuasive.
2. For the settlement of the issue at hand, there are enough
applicable local laws and jurisprudence. Under Article 1764 and
Article 2206[1] of the Civil Code, the award of damages for death is
computed on the basis of the life expectancy of the deceased, not of
his beneficiary.

BRENT SCHOOL, INC., et at., v. ZAMORA, et at.,


G.R. No. 48494, February 5, 1990
PRINCIPLE:
A LITERAL INTERPRETATION SHOULD BE RE-
JECTED IF IT WOULD BE UNJUST OR IT WOULD
LEAD TO ABSURD RESULTS
CHAPTER X 249
OTHER SUPREME COURT DECISIONS INVOLVING
THE SUBJECT OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

It is a salutary principle in statutory construction that there


exists a valid presumption that undesirable consequences were
never intended by a legislative measure, and that a construction of
which the statute is fairly susceptible is favored which will avoid all
objectionable, mischievous, indefensible, wrongful, evil, and injuri-
ous consequences.
Nothing is better settled than that courts are not to give words
a meaning that would lead to absurd or unreasonable consequences.
A literal interpretation is to be rejected if it would be unjust or lead
to absurd results. The fact that the construction placed upon the
statute would lead to an absurdity is an argument for rejecting it.
Where the true intent of the law is clear and calls for the
application of the cardinal rule of statutory construction, such intent
or spirit must prevail over the letter thereof, for whatever is within
the statute, since adherence to the letter would result in absurdity,
injustice and contradictions and would defeat the plain and vital
purpose of the statute.

ATLAS CONSOLIDATED MINING &


DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION v.
COURT OF APPEALS, et al.,
G.R. No. 54305, February 14, 1990
PRINCIPLE:
PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1281 IS A REMEDIAL
STATUTE. ITAPPLIES TOALLACTIONS PENDING
AT THE TIME OF ITS ENACTMENT EXCEPT
ONLY WITH RESPECT TO THOSE CASES WHICH
HAD ALREADY ATTAINED THE CHARACTER OF
A FINAL AND EXECUTORY JUDGMENT
PD No. 1281 is a remedial statute. It does not create new
rights or take away rights that are already vested. It only operates
in furtherance of a remedy or confirmation of rights already in
existence. It does not come within the purview of prospective law. As
such, it can be applied retroactively independent of the general rule
against the retrospective application of statutes. Being procedural
in nature, it shall apply to all actions pending at the time of its
enactment except only with respect to those cases that had already
attained the character of a final and executory judgment. Were it not
so, the purpose of the Decree, which is to facilitate the immediate
resolution of mining controversies by granting jurisdiction to a body
250 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

or agency adopt to the technical complexities of mining operations,


would be thwarted and rendered meaningless. Litigants in a mining
controversy cannot be permitted to choose a form of convenience.
Jurisdiction is imposed by law and not by any of the parties to such
proceedings

1989 CASES
LLAMADO v. COURT OF APPEALS
G.R. No. 84850, June 29, 1989
PRINCIPLE
• WHILE IT IS TRUE THAT ANY STATUTORY LAN-
GUAGE THAT APPEARS TO FAVOR THE AC-
CUSED IN A CRIMINAL CASE SHOULD BE GIVEN
A "LIBERAL INTERPRETATION," COURTS, HOW.-
EVER, HAVE NO AUTHORITY TO INVOKE "LIB-
ERAL INTERPRETATION" OR "THE SPIRIT OF
THE LAW" WHERE THE WORDS OF THE STATUTE
THEMSELVES LEAVE NO ROOM FOR DOUBT OR
INTERPRETATION.
Turning to petitioner's invocation of "liberal interpretation" of
penal statutes, the court notes that the Probation Law is not a penal
statute. The Court, however, understands petitioner's argument
to be really that any statutory language that appears to favor the
accused in a criminal case should be given a "liberal interpretation"
Courts, however, have no authority to invoke "liberal inter-
pretation" or "the spirit of the law" where the words of the statute
themselves and as illuminated by the history of that statute leave
no room for doubt or interpretation. The spirit of the law may not be
legitimately invoked to set at naught words which have a clear and
definite meaning imparted to them by our procedural law. The "true
legislative intent" must obviously be given effect by judges and all
others who are charged with the application and implementation of
a statute The spirit of the law and the intent that is to be given ef-
fect are to be derived from the words actually used by the lawmaker,
and not from some external, mystical or metajuridical source inde-
pendent of and transcending the words of the legislature.
"Strict" and "liberal" are adjectives, which too frequently
impede a disciplined and principled search for the meaning that the
law-making authority projected when it promulgated the language
CHAPTER X 251
OTHER SUPREME COURT DECISIONS INVOLVING
THE SUBJECT OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

that the court must apply. The first duty of a judge is to take and
apply a statute as he finds it, not as he would like it to be. Otherwise,
confusion and uncertainty in application will follow, stability and
continuity in the law much more difficult to achieve.
Where the language is plain, subtle refinements, which tinge
words so as to give them the color of a particular judicial theory, are
not only unnecessary but also decidedly harmful. That which has
caused so much confusion in the law, which has made it so difficult
for the public to understand and know what the law is with respect
to a given matter is in considerable measure the unwarranted inter-
ference by judicial tribunals with the English language as found in
statutes and contracts cutting the words here and inserting them
there, making them fit personal ideas of what the legislature ought
to have done or what parties should have agreed upon, giving them
meaning which they do not ordinarily have, cutting, trimming, fit-
ting, changing and coloring until lawyers themselves are unable to
advice their clients as to the meaning of a given statute or contract
until it has been submitted to some court for its interpretation and
construction.
The words to be given meaning whether they be found in the
Constitution or in a statute define and therefore limit the authority
and description of the judges who must apply those words. If judges
may, under cover of seeking the "true spirit" and "real intent" of the
law, disregard the words in fact used by the lawgiver, the judges
will effectively escape the constitutional and statutory limitations
on their authority and description.
Once the judge goes beyond the clear and ordinary import of
the words of the legislative authority, he is essentially on uncharted
seas. In a policy like ours, which enshrines the fundamental notion
of limiting power through the separation and distribution of powers,
judges have to be particularly careful least they substitute their
conceptions or preferences of policy for that actually projected by
the legislative agency. Where a judge believes passionately that he
knows what the legislative agency should have said on a particular
matter dealt with by a statute, it is easy enough for him to reach
the conclusion that the law-making authority was really saying or
trying to say, if somewhat ineptly.
Even within their area of choice the courts are not at large.
They are confined by the nature and scope of the judicial function in
its particular exercise in the field of interpretation. They are under
the constraints imposed by the judicial function in our democratic
252 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

society. As a matter of verbal recognition certainly, no one will gain


say that the function in construing a statute is to ascertain the
meaning of words used by the legislature. To go beyond it is to usurp
a power that our democracy has lodged in its elected legislature. The
great judges have constantly admonished their brethren of the need
for discipline in observing the limitations.
A judge must not rewrite a statute, neither to enlarge nor to
contract it. Whatever temptation the statesmanship of policy-making
might wisely suggest, construction must eschew interpolation and
evisceration. He must not read in any way of creation. He must not
read out except to avoid patent nonsense of internal contradictions.

JANDUSAY, et al., v.
COURT OF APPEALS, et al.,
G.R. No. 48714, April 18, 1989
PRINCIPLE:
ONE WHO SEEKS EQUITY MUST HIMSELF BE
DESERVING OF EQUITY
The laches of one nullifies the laches of the other. One who
seeks equity must himself be deserving of equity. When parties are
in culpability similarly situated (in eodem loco), one may claim no
advantage over the other. This is a principle of law applied in the
'ari delicto" rule embedded in our legal system.

MANILA RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT v. NLRC


G.R. No. 80586, May 3, 1989
PRINCIPLE:
IMPLEMENTING RULES OF THE LABOR CODE
ARE NOT LAWS AND THEY NEED NOT BE
PUBLISHED
Petitioner's argument that the Implementing Rules of the
Labor Code are not effective since it was not published in the Official
Gazette is without merit. Said rules are not "laws" within the
meaning of Article 2 of the Civil Code. Moreover, the Department
of Labor and Employment had published said Rules in book form
printed by the government's printing office and made available to
the general public since 1975.
CHAPTER X 253
OTHER SUPREME COURT DECISIONS INVOLVING
THE SUBJECT OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION
REGIDOR v. CHIONGBIAN
G.R. No. 85815, May 19, 1989
PRINCIPLE:
REGULATIONS ISSUED BY THE SECRETARY OF
THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT CANNOT ALTER,
AMEND OR CONTRAVENE PROVISION OF THE
LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE
No rule or regulation issued by the Secretary of Local Govern-
ment may alter, amend, or contravene a provision of the Local Gov-
ernment Code. The implementing rules should conform, not clash,
with the law that they implement, for a regulation which operates
to create a rule out of harmony with the statute is a nullity. A rule
or regulation that was issued to implement a law may not go beyond
the terms and provision of the law.

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES v. SANDIGANBAYAN


G.R. No. 84895, May 4, 1989
PRINCIPLE:
GENERAL LEGISLATION MUST GIVE WAY TO
SPECIAL LEGISLATION
General legislation must give way to the special legislation on
the same subject, and generally be so interpreted as to embrace only
cases in which the special provisions are not applicable. A specific
statute prevails over a general statute. Where two statutes are of
equal theoretical application to a particular case, the one designed
therefor specially should prevail.

FRANCISCO v. PERMSKUL
G.R. No. 810061, May 12, 1989
PRINCIPLE:
TO JUSTIFY THE NULLIFICATION OF A LAW,
THERE MUST BE A CLEAR AND UNEQUIVOCAL
BREACH, OF THE CONSTITUTION
IN CASE OF DOUBT, IT IS THE DUTY OF THE
JUDICIARY TO EXERT EVERY EFFORT TO PRE-
VENT THE INVALIDATION OF THE LAW
When a law is questioned before the Court, the presumption in
favor of its constitutionality is employed. To justify the nullification
254 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

of a law, there must be a clear and unequivocal breach of the Con-


stitution, not a doubtful and argumentative implication. Courts will
bend over backward to sustain that presumption.

LLAMADO v. COURT OF APPEALS


G.R. No. 84850, June 29, 1989
PRINCIPLE:
WHEREAS CLAUSES ARE NOT PART OF A
STATUTE
Whereas clauses do not form part of a statute, strictly speak-
ing. They are not part of the operative language of the statute. None-
theless, whereas clauses may be helpful to the extent they articulate
the general purpose or reason underlying a new enactment (e.g. an
enactment which drastically but clearly change the substantive con-
tent of Section 4 existing before the promulgation of PD No. 1990).
Whereas clauses, however, cannot control the specific terms of the
statute. In the instant case, the whereas clauses of PD No. 1990 do
not purport to control or modify the terms of Section 4 as amended.

SM AGRIJAND GENERAL MACHINERIES v. NLRC


G.R. No. 748061, January 9, 1989
PRINCIPLE:
• THE TEN-DAY PERIOD PROVIDED IN ARTICLE
223 OF THE LABOR CODE REFERS TO TEN
CALENDAR DAYS, AND NOT TO TEN WORKING
DAYS
When the last day for filing an appeal falls on a legal holiday,
the same can be filed on the next business day following said legal
holiday. The Revised Administrative Code, specifically, Section 1,
Article VIII provides that: "where the day or the last day, for doing
any act required or permitted by law falls on a holiday, the act may
be done on the next business day."

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES v. SANDIGANBAYAN


G.R. No. 84895, May 4, 1989
PRINCIPLE:
LEGISLATIVE INTENT MUST BE ASCERTAINED
FROM THE WHOLE STATUTE
DOCTRINE OF NOSCITUR A SOCHS
• CHAPTER 255
OTHER SUPREME COURT DECISIONS INVOLVING
THE SUBJECT OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Legislative intent must be ascertained from a consideration of


the statute as a whole. The particular words, clauses and phrases
should not be studied as detached and isolated expressions, but the
whole and every part of the statute must be considered in fixing the
meaning of any of its parts and in order to produce a harmonious
whole.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. DACUYCUY
G.R. No. 45127, May 5, 1989
PRINCIPLE:
LAW IS PRESUMED TO BE CONSTITUTIONAL
The basic principle pertaining to the validity of legislation
is that in the enactment of legislation a constitutional measure is
thereby created. Where a question is raised as to the constitutionality
of an act, the court employs this doctrine in scrutinizing the terms
of the law. The rule is that there is a presumption in favor of the
constitutionality of a legislative enactment.