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LESSON 1 • Resorted to when, in comparing two different

enactments of the same legislative body, there is
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION IN GENERAL found contradiction where there was evidently no
intention of such contradiction one of another, or
Definition of Terms where it happens that part of a writing or declaration
a) Statutory Construction – the art of seeking the contradicts the rest.
intention of the legislature in enacting a statute and of
applying it to a given state of facts.
b) Legal Hermeneutics – branch of science which Purpose or Object of Construction
establishes the principles and rules of interpretation - To ascertain, and give effect to, the intent of the law.
and construction of written laws.
c) Exegesis – application of the principles and rules of Legislative Intent
interpretation and construction of written laws. • the essence of the law
d) Interpretation of written law – art or process of • the key to, and the controlling factor in, its
discovering and expounding the intended signification construction or interpretation
of the language used in the law, that is, the meaning • the spirit which gives life to legislative enactment
which the authors designed it to convey to others.
e) Construction of written law- art or process of Legislative Purpose
discovering and expounding the meaning and intention - laws have ends to be achieved and statutes should be
of the authors of the law with respect to its application construed so as not to defeat but to carry out such ends
to a given case, where that intention is rendered and purpose
doubtful either by reason of apparently conflicting
provisions or directions, or by reason of the fact that the Legislative Meaning
given case is not explicitly provided for in the law. • what the law, by its language means
• what it comprehends, what it covers or embraces,
Ubi lex non distinguit necnon distinguere debemus – what its limits or confines are
Where the law does not distinguish, the courts should
not distinguish. Construction is a Judicial Function
• it is the province and duty of the judicial department
to say what the law is.
LESSON 2 • it refrains from doing so where the case has become
moot and academic and it will instead dismiss the
• a case or question is “moot and academic” when its
Article 10 of the Civil Code: purpose has become stale or where no practical
In case of doubt in the interpretation or application of relief can be granted or which can have no practical
laws, it is presumed that the lawmaking body intended effect
right and justice to prevail.
When Court May Construe Statute
INTERPRETATION • if there is doubt or ambiguity in its language
• Limited to exploring the written text. • “ambiguity” means a condition of admitting two or
• The art of finding out the true sense of any form of more meanings, of being understood in more than
words, that is the sense which the author intended to one way, or of referring to two or more things at the
convey and of enabling others to derive from them same time
the same idea which the author intended to convey. • a statute is ambiguous if it is susceptible of more
• Only takes place if the text conveys some meaning or than one interpretation.
other. • The court may not construe a statute that is clear and
free from doubt.
Construction of Statute where Part of it is Void
• Goes beyond and may call in the aid of extrinsic • the valid portion, if separable from the invalid, may
considerations. stand and be enforced if not made, law is
• The drawing of conclusions respecting subjects that unenforceable.
lie beyond the direct expressions of the text, from
elements known from and given in the text; Rulings of Supreme Court part of Legal System
conclusions which are in the spirit, though not within Legis interpretatio legis vim obtinet
the letter of the text. Judicial construction and interpretation of a statute
acquires the force of law

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Article 8 of the New Civil Code provides: and defined, and by which those powers are
distributed among the several departments for their
Judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or safe and useful exercise for the benefit of the body
the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system of politic
the Philippines.
This principle assures certainty and stability in the legal 3 Common Parts:
a) Constitution of liberty – series of proscriptions
Judicial Rulings have No Retroactive Effect setting forth the fundamental civil and political
Lex prospicit non respecit rights of the citizens and imposing limitations on
The law looks forward, not backward. the powers of government as a means of securing
Article 4 of the New Civil Code provides: the enjoyment of those rights. (Ex. Article III)
Laws shall have no retroactive effect unless the b) Constitution of the government – series of provisions
contrary is provided. outlining the organization of the government,
Retroactive application of a law usually divests rights enumerating its powers, laying down certain rules
that have already become vested or impairs the relative to its administration and defining the electorate.
obligations of contract and hence, unconstitutional. (ex. Art VI, VII, VIII and IX)

Lesson 3 c) Constitution of sovereignty – provisions pointing out

4 MAJOR SUBJECTS OF STATUTORY the mode or procedure in accordance with which formal
CONSTRUCTION changes in the fundamental law may be brought about.

According to hierarchy: Forms of Constitution:

1. CONSTITUTION – body of rules and maxims in
accordance with which the powers of sovereignty are 1) According to form:
habitually exercised a) Written – one whose provisions are embodied in one
• the basic fundamental law of the land over which document or set of documents
all laws must conform. b) Unwritten – one whose provisions have not been
• a written instrument by which the fundamental integrated into a single, concrete form but are scattered
powers of the government are established, limited in various sources
and defined, and by which those powers are
distributed among the several departments for their 2) According to process of creation:
safe and useful exercise for the benefit of the body a) Cumulative or evolved – result of political evolution,
politic. common laws, judicial decisions, etc.
2. STATUTE – written will of the legislature solemnly b) Conventional or enacted – incorporated either by
expressed according to the forms necessary to constitutional convention or by act of a ruler
constitute a lawful order
3. RESOLUTION – enactments of the legislature either 3) According to manner of amending:
to express sentiments or opinions to carry out the a) Rigid – one which is over and above ordinary laws
internal affairs of the legislative body or to make and may be amended only by a formal and usually
temporary laws or procedures or constitutional difficult process
amendments b) Flexible – one that can be changed by ordinary
4. ORDINANCE – an act passed by a municipal council legislation
in the exercise of its law-making authority
*The Philippine Constitution is a written, conventional
Lesson 4 and rigid constitution.
Rules of Constitutional Construction
• body of rules and maxims in accordance with 1. Effectuation of the intent of the framers – effect must
which the powers of sovereignty are habitually be given to the intent of the framers of the organic law
exercised and of the people adopting it.
• the basic fundamental law of the land over which
all laws must conform 2. Uniformity and stability of construction – constitutions
• a written instrument by which the fundamental should receive consistent and uniform interpretation, so
powers of the government are established, limited

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that they shall not be taken to mean one thing at one • Permanent in Character; people ratify or adopt the
time and another at a different time. Constitution
• Lays down the general principles and foundation of
3. Rule on Flexibility – a constitution usually announces the government
certain basic principles to serve as the perpetual
foundation of the state; it should be interpreted by the
spirit which vivifies and not by the letter which killeth; STATUTE
the courts are not inclined to adopt such technical end • Secondary Law
in construction as will unduly impair the efficiency of the • Enactments of rules for the government of civil
legislature to make responsibilities. conduct promulgated by the legislative authority of
the state
4. Rule on Liberality – constitution is not to be • Tentative; can be revoked, amended, enacted
interpreted on narrow or technical principles, but because of changing situations
liberally and on broad general line, or in order that it • Sets in details its purpose or subject matter.
may accomplish the objects of its establishment and
carry out the great principles of government; Lesson 5
constitution is intended to be effective over a longer STATUTE
period of time and its method of revision or amendment Statute – written will of the legislature solemnly
is more difficult than a legislative process. expressed according to the forms necessary to
constitute a lawful order
5. Rule on Practicability – established practical
Parts of a Statute
construction or a constitutional provision should not be
a) Number of the Act
disregarded unless such gives clear and definite
- the lower the number, the older the law is
- ex. RA 386 (New Civil Code), Act No. 3815 (RPC)

6. Mandatory Nature of Provisions – use of “shall” or b) Subject and Title

“must” like in the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution. Article VI Sec. 26 (1) of the 1987 Constitution provides:
Every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one
7. The purpose to be given effect – a constitutional subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof.
provision should be construed as to give it an effective
operation and suppress the mischief which it is aimed Purposes of Requirement:
and the spirit of the provision shall prevail. (1) to prevent hodge-podge or log-rolling legislation
(2) to prevent surprise or fraud upon the legislature by
means of provisions in bills of which the titles gave no
8. Constitution to be construed as a whole – no one intimation, and which might therefore be overlooked
provision of the Constitution is to be separated from all and carelessly and unintentionally adopted
the others, to be considered alone, but that all the
(3) to fairly apprise the people, through such publication
provisions bearing upon a particular subject are to be
of legislative proceedings as is usually made, of the
brought into view and to be so interpreted as to
subjects of legislation that are being considered in
effectuate the great purposes of the instrument.
order that they may have opportunity of being heard
thereon, by petition or otherwise, if they shall desire.
9. Every part of the Constitution should be given effect (4) to guide in ascertaining the legislative intent when
– to harmonize the alleged conflicting provisions the language of the act does not clearly express its
10. The ordinary meaning of the words used in the
Constitution should be given their ordinary meaning c) Preamble - an introductory clause at the beginning of
a statute
11. Implications whatever is necessary. - sets forth the reasons for its enactment and the
object sought to be accomplished
• Primary Law d) Enacting Clause
• Expression of sovereignty in relation to the - identifies the bill as an act of legislation
structure of government, extent and distribution of
powers, the modes and principles of its operation
and the apparatus of checks and balances proper e) Body of the Statute
to ensure the integrity and continued existence - principal part of the bill embodying that substance of
the right or remedy provided for

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- divided into sections, articles, chapters - usually general in its character and operation, and
equally applicable in all parts of a statute
f) Date of Enactment
- portion which provides when the legislature enacted b) Private Act/Statute
or approved the bill - relates to, concerns, and affects a particular individual
g) Date of Effectivity 3 Kinds of Public Act
- when the law takes effects a) General Law/Statute
- Article 2 of the Civil Code provides: - one which applies to the whole state and operates
Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the throughout the state, alike upon all the people or all of a
completion of publication either in the Official Gazette, class
or in a newspaper of general circulation in the
Philippines, unless it is otherwise provided. b) Special Law/Statute
- one which applies to an individual, association or
Process in the Enactment of the Law corporation
- relates to a particular person or things of a class
Article VI, Sec. 26 (2) of the 1987 Constitution:
“No bill paased by either House shall become a law
c) Local Law/Statute
unless it has passed three readings on separate days,
and printed copies thereof in its final form have been - one which is primarily directed only to a specific spot
distributed to its Members three days before its - confined in its operation to the property and persons
passage, except when the President certifies to the of a limited portion of the territory of the state, a part of
necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public its people, or a portion of the property of its citizens
calamity or emergency. Upon the last reading of a bill,
no amendment thereto shall be allowed, and the vote Divisions and Kinds of General Law/Statutes
thereon shall be taken immediately thereafter, and the a) Duration
yeas and nays entered in the Journal.”
1.) Permanent (continues in force until duly
Article VI, Sec. 27 (1) of the 1987 Constitution: altered or changed or repealed by competent
“Every bill passed by the Congress shall, before it authority)
becomes a law, be presented to the President. If he 2.) Temporary (continues in force until the time of
approves the same he shall sign it; otherwise, he shall its limitation has expired unless sooner repealed)
veto it and return the same with his objections to the
House where it originated, which shall enter the b) Date of Taking Effect
objections at large in its Journal and proceed to 1.) Prospective (looks forward)
reconsider it. If, after such reconsideration, two-thirds of 2.) Retroactive (looks backward)
all the Members of such House shall agree to pass the
bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the c) Nature of Operation
other House by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, 1.) Declaratory/Expository - passed for the purpose
and if approved by two-thirds of all the Members of that of removing doubt or ambiguity as to the state of
House, it shall become a law. In all such cases, the the law, or to correct a construction deemed by the
votes of each House shall be determined by yeas or legislature to be erroneous
nays, and the names of the Members voting for or 2.) Curative - cures errors and irregularities in
against shall be entered in its Journal. The President judicial or administrative procceedings
shall communicate his veto of any bill to the House 3.) Mandatory - commands and requires that
where it originated within thirty days after the date of certain action shall be taken by those to whom the
receipt thereof, otherwise, it shall become a law as if he statute is addressed
had signed it.” 4.) Directory - directs the manner in which certain
Reasons for 3 Readings before Passage of the Bill action shall be taken or certain official duties
into Law performed
5.) Permissive - authorizes or permits certain
a) to prevent tasting and improvident legislation
action to be taken by those to whom it is
b) to compel the careful examination of proposed laws addressed and whom it concerns
or at least the affording of opportunity for that purpose
6.) Perceptive - commands certain actions, and
regulates the forms and acts which ought to
Kinds of Statutes
accompany them
a) Public Act/Statute
7.) Prohibitive - forbids all actions
- universal rule that regards the whole community

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8.) Remedial - supplies defects and abridges Leges posteriores priores contrarias agrobant (Later
superfluities in the former law either by enlarging or enactments repeal prior ones which are repugnant
restraining such former law thereto.)
9.) Penal - imposes penalty for transgressing
provisions Effects of Repeal
10.) Repealing - abrogates an existing statute a) If repeal is express, repealed law is not revived
11.) Amendatory - changes or modifies a statute unless expressly so provided.
originally enacted b) If repeal is implied, repealed law is revived.

d) Form Lesson 6
1) Affirmative - enacted in affirmative terms RESOLUTION
2) Negative (expressed in negative terms)
Resolution – enactments of the legislature either to
3) Compiled/Revised - collection of the statutes
express sentiments or opinions to carry out the internal
existing and in force in a given state
affairs of the legislative body or to make temporary laws
4) Code/Codified - reenactment of the whole body
or procedures or constitutional amendments
of the positive law
Kinds of Resolution
e) Origin or Source a) Simple Resolution
- formalized motion passed by a majority of a single
1) Adopted - taken wholly or in part, from another
legislative chamber
state, and enacted as a law of the state adopting it.
- uses of simple resolution:
2) Reenacted - passed by the same legislative
1. create special committees
body, in the same terms, or in substantially the
same language, and for the same purpose and 2. express recognition for meritorious services
object, as the former statute. 3. extend sympathy on the death of a member
4. express opinions to another government body
Amendment of Statutes 5. establish rules governing internal affairs
- addition or change within the lines of the original
instrument as will effect an improvement, or better carry b) Concurrent Resolution
out the purpose for while it was framed - refers to a simple resolution passed by both chambers
of the legislature
Effects of Amendment - reflects the opinion of the entire legislative body
a) Amendment produces one law, namely the
statute as it existed before the amendment c) Joint Resolution
remains in force. - similar to a statute
b) If amendment is invalid, the original statute as it - has to undergo the same process as a bill towards its
existed before the amendment remains in force. enactment to both chambers
c) If the amendment statute is invalid, it is not
validated by amendment unless obnoxious feature Lesson 7
removable by amendment.
Repeal of Statutes Ordinance – an act passed by a municipal council in
a) Unless prevented by a superior authority, the the exercise of its law-making authority
law-making power of any government has plenary - ex. Smoking ban, Liquor ban
power to enact or repeal laws.
b) A law which partakes of the nature of contract is Tests of a Valid Ordinance
irrepealable. a) It must not contravene the Constitution or any
c) Laws are repealed only by other subsequent statute.
laws. b) It must not be unfair or oppressive.
c) It must not be partial or discriminatory
Kinds of Repeal d) It must not prohibit but may regulate trade
a) Express Repeal - literally declared by a new law e) It must be general and consistent with public
b) Implied Repeal - takes place when a new law policy
contains provisions contrary to those of a former f) It must not be unreasonable
law, without expressly repealing them
Lesson 8

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Presidential Issuances - Words must be understood in the sense

- what the president issues in the exercise of his most obvious to the common understanding at
ordinary power the time of the adoption of the constitution.
- include executive orders, administrative orders, - Technical & legal terms must be given their
proclamations, memorative orders, memorative technical & legal meaning. e.g. Medical Law =
circulars, general or specific orders medical meaning.
- Resort to the natural signification of the words
Definition: employed.
a) Executive Orders 2. By Considering old law, mischief & remedy
- acts of the president providing for rules of general or 3. By looking to the existing condition and history. -
permanent character in the implementation or visualize the condition at the time why was the law
execution of constitutional or statutory powers enacted
4. By referring to debates or proceedings of the
b) Administrative Orders legislature
- acts of the president which relate to a particular - they are normally transcribed
aspect of governmental operations in pursuance of his 5. By resorting to doctrine of implication
duties as administrative head in the executive
department when he issues orders to some - whatever is necessary to render effective any
administrative agencies provision of a constitution, whether the same is a
prohibition, or a restriction, or the grant of a power,
c) Proclamations must be deemed implied and intended in the provision
- acts of the president fixing a date or declaring a itself.
statute or condition of public moment or interest upon
the existence of which the operation of a distinct law or 6) By the resort to other considerations
regulation Ex. Civil Code borrowed from the Spanish Code

d) Memorandum Orders a) Borrowed provisions

- acts of the president on matters of administrative
detail for subordinate or temporary interest which only Presumed to have the same meaning and
concern a particular officer or office of the government construction given to them
b) Contemporaneous Construction
e) Memorandum Circulars
- acts of the president on matters relating to internal The construction put upon the language or
administration which the president desires to bring to meaning of constitution, at the time of its adoption,
the attention of all the government for information and or shortly thereafter, by members of the convention
compliance which framed it or by other learned men who
expressed their opinions in that regard publicly,
f) General or Specific Orders though not judicially.
- acts and commands of the president in his capacity as Fundamental Principle: If universally adopted and
commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the acquiesced in for a long period of time, is valuable
Philippines aid in determining meaning and intention in cases
of doubt.
Rules of Construction
1. Cardinal Rules c) Practical Construction
2. Particular Rules
3. Construction of words and phrases The construction put upon it by the legislative body
which is charged with the making of the laws in
LESSON 1 accordance to the constitution, or by the officers of
CARDINAL RULES OF CONSTRUCTION the executive department whose function is to put
into execution the constitution and the laws.
*No Facts, No interpretation
*To give effect to the intention of the people who

HOW IS INTENTION SOUGHT? An interpretation which refuses to expand the law by

1. By natural signification of the words employed. implication & equitable consideration but confines to
cases which are within the statute as within its spirit or

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reason to resolve all reasonable doubts against the - And he who fails to strictly comply with the will of the
applicability of all statutes to the particular case. grantor loses such privileges
The word “shall” is commonly found.
5) Tax Exemptions
LIBERAL CONSTRUCTION - Law frowns against exemption from taxation because
taxes are the lifeblood of the nation
Such equitable construction as will enlarge the letter of - Laws granting tax exemptions are thus construed
a statute to (1) accomplish its intended purpose, (2) strictissimi juris against the taxpayer and liberally in
carry out its intent or (3) promote justice favor of the taxing authority
The words “may”, “or” are commonly found - Burden of proof – on the taxpayer claiming to be
beyond the literal meaning of the statute exempted
- Basis for strict construction – to minimize the different
treatment and foster impartiality, fairness, and equality
of treatment among taxpayers
1. Former law of the matter
2. The persons or rights with which it deals - Tax exemptions are not favored in law, nor are they
3. The letter or language of the law
4. The purposes and objects of the statute
6) Statutes in Derogation of Common Rights
- Rights are not absolute, and the state, in the exercise
of police power, may enact legislations curtailing or
1) Naturalization Laws
restricting their enjoyment
- strictly construed against the applicant and rigidly
followed and enforced - As these statutes are in derogation of common or
general rights, they are generally strictly construed and
- statutory than a natural right
rigidly confined to cases clearly within their scope and
2) Statutes Prescribing the Formalities of Will
- Examples:
- Strictly construed, which means, wills must be
o Statutes authorizing the expropriation of private
executed in accordance with the statutory
land or property
requirements, otherwise, it is entirely void
o Allowing the taking of deposition
- The court is seeking to ascertain and apply the intent
of the legislators and not that of the testator, and the
When 2 reasonably possible constructions, one which
latter’s intention is frequently defeated by the non-
would diminish or restrict fundamental right of the
observance of what the statute requires
people and the other if which would not do so, the latter
construction must be adopted so as to allow full
3) Statutes conferring to the right of eminent domain
enjoyment of such fundamental right
- Power of eminent domain is essentially legislative in
- May be delegated to the President, LGUs, or public 7) Statutes of Sovereignty
utility company - Restrictive statutes which impose burdens on the
- Expropriation plus just compensation public treasury or which diminish rights and interests
- A derogation of private rights, thus strict construction are strictly construed.
is applied - Unless so specified, the government does not fall
- Statutes expropriating or authorizing the expropriation within the terms of any legislation
of property are strictly construed against the
expropriating authority and liberally in favor of property 8) Private Acts
owners - Strictly construed for corporations or particular
4) Legislative Grants - Example: granting of franchise
- Statutes granting advantages to private persons or
entities have in many instances created special 9) Penal Statutes
privileges or monopolies for the grantees and have thus - Penal statutes are those that define crimes, treat of
been viewed with suspicion and strictly construed their nature and provide for their punishment
- Privilegia recipient largam interpretationem voluntati - Acts of legislature which prohibit certain acts
consonam concedentis – privileges are to be and establish penalties for their violation
interpreted in accordance with the will of him who - Penal statutes are strictly construed against the State
grants them and liberally construed in favor of the accused

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Penal statutes cannot be enlarged or 3) Tenancy Acts

extended by intendment, implication, or any 4) Agrarian Reform Laws
equitable consideration
No person should be brought within its terms B.) Retirement Laws
if he is not clearly made so by the statute - The retirement law aims to assist the retiree in his
No act should be pronounces criminal which old age, not to punish him for having survived
is not clearly made so C.) Corporation Laws
- Strict construction but not as to nullify or destroy the D.) Redemption Laws
obvious purpose of the legislature - remedial in nature – construed liberally to carry out
If penal statute is vague, it must be construed purpose, which is to enable the debtor to have his
with such strictness as to carefully SAFEGUARD the property applied to pay as many debtor’s liability as
RIGHTS of the defendant and at the same time possible
preserve the obvious intention of the legislature
E.) Revised Rules of Court (Sec 2 Rule1, ROC)
Reason why penal statutes are strictly construed - RC are procedural – to be construed liberally
- The law is tender in favor of the rights of the - Purpose of RC – the proper and just determination of
individual; a litigation
- The object is to establish a certain rule by conformity - Procedural laws are no other than technicalities, they
to which mankind would be safe, and the discretion of are adopted not as ends in themselves but as means
the court limited conducive to the realization of the administration of law
- Purpose: NOT to enable a guilty person to escape and justice
punishment through technicality but to provide a - RC should not be interpreted to sacrifice substantial
precise definition of forbidden acts rights at the expense of technicalities


1. Where a penal statute is capable of 2 interpretations, 1) Prospective Interpretation
one which will operate to exempt an accused from - interpretation which limits the operation of a
liability for violation thereof and another which will give statute to such facts and causes arising from its
effect to the manifest intent of the statute and promote enactment or effectivity
its object, the latter interpretation should be adopted - one which holds the statute to its applicability to
2. Strict construction of penal laws applies only where such facts or transactions wholly completed before
the law is ambiguous and there is doubt as to its the date of its enactment and restricts its operation
meaning to
such facts and causes as shall arise after is
INTERPRETATION - “hereafter”, “thereafter”
The words shall receive Fair & reasonable
interpretation to attain the intent/ spirit & purpose of the
law. 2) Retrospective Interpretation
A.) General Welfare Legislation - interpretation which holds a statute to be
- To implement the social justice and protection-to-labor applicable for governing construction or state of
provisions of the Constitution facts wholly completed prior to its enactment
- Construed liberally - holds the statute to be applicable to and
- Resolve any doubt in favor of the persons whom the determinative of a transaction or a state of facts
law intended to benefit wholly completed before its enactment
- “heretofore”, “theretofore”
1) Labor Laws General Rule: The statute shall be construed
- the workingman’s welfare should be the primordial prospectively unless the legislative intent that it be
and paramount consideration given a retrospective interpretation clearly appears by
- Article 4 New Labor Code – “all doubts in the necessary or unavoidable implication.
implementation and interpretation of the provisions of
the Labor Code including its implementing rules and Similarly stated:
regulations shall be resolved in favor of labor” Statutes are to be construed as having only prospective
- Liberal construction applies only if statute is vague, operation unless the purpose and intention of the
otherwise, apply the law as it is stated legislative to give retrospective effect is expressly
declared or is necessarily implied from the language
2) Social Security Laws

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used. In every case of doubt, the doubt must be -Where general words follow in enumeration of
resolved against the retrospective effect. persons or things, by words of a particular and
special meaning, such general words are not to be
WHAT ARE LAWS THAT HAS RETROSPECTIVE IN construed in their widest sense, but are to be held
APPLICATION? as applying only to persons or things of the same
kind of class as those specifically mentioned
- PENAL LAWS Article 22
- CURATIVE STATUTES Example: First year class of Ateneo Law School;
- LEGAL PROVISIONS Persons and Family Relations Estrellado, First year

Literal Construction Limitations on Rule of Ejusdem Generis:

When the words of a statute are clear and a) Superior persons & things not embraced in the
unambiguous, they must be held to mean what they enumeration of inferior ones.
literally or plainly express Example: Enumeration of Dean’s list, does not
include the others.
Artificial Construction
The process whereby the words of a statute are b) The term “other persons” used after
arrested from their plain and obvious meaning and enumeration of certain class not applicable to the
make to bear an entirely different meaning for the whole world.
purpose of avoiding an absurd and unjust result.
Principal Objective of Judicial Interpretation - The mention of one thing implies the exclusion of
- The purpose is to ascertain and give effect to the another
intent of the law. - When a statute enumerates the subjects or things
- The object of all judicial interpretation of a statute is to on which it is to operate, it is to be construed as
determine legislative intent, either expressly or excluding from its effect all those not expressly
impliedly, by the language used; to determine the mentioned.
meaning and will of the law making body and discover - The maxim is only auxiliary rule of statutory
its true interpretations of law. construction.
- It is not of universal application neither is it
LESSON 2: conclusive.
- It should be applied only as a means of
PARTICULAR RULES OF CONSTRUCTION discovering the legislative intent which is not
otherwise manifest and should never be permitted
3 BASIC RULES/METHODS OF INTERPRETATION: to defeat the plainly indicative purpose of the
1) Verba Legis legislature.
2) Ratio Legis - The maxim does not apply when words are
3) Mens Legislatoris mentioned by way of example, or to remove
- considering the very words of the law itself d.) REDDENDO SINGULA SINGULIS
- if the words are not ambiguous there is no room for - Doctrine of Collocation (referring to each other)
construction - Words in their different parts of a statute must be
- not a rule of law but a rule of construction referred to their appropriate connection
- Under this principle, where a sentence has
Literal meaning or plain-meaning rule several antecedents and several consequents,
GR: if statute is clear, plain and free from ambiguity, it they are to be read distributively. The antecedents
must be given its literal meaning and applied without should be referred to their appropriate
attempted interpretation consequents and vice versa.
- Each word, phrase or clause must be given its
a) DURA LEX, SED LEX proper connection in order to give it proper force
-the law is hard but it is the law and effect, rendering none of them useless or
-the legislature must be presumed to know the meaning superfluous. A transposition of words and clauses
of the words to have used the words and to have may be resorted to where the sentence or clause is
expressed its intent by the use of such words. without meaning as it stands.


-General Terms following Specific Terms - Associated words explain and limit each other

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- the meaning of particular terms in a statute may - if you know why the law was enacted. You will only
be ascertained by reference to words associated apply this method where after thorough reading &
with or related to them in a statute. interpretation of the law, you cannot ascertain the
- Where particular word or phrase in a statute is meaning of the statute.
ambiguous in itself, or is simply susceptible of - “Let us interpret not by the letter that killeth but by the
various meanings, its true meaning may be made spirit that giveth life” (The words that are used in a
clear and specific by considering the company of statute can destroy the intent of the legislature or the
words in which it is found or which it is associated. meaning of the law.)
- Where there are two or more words of ambiguous - In construing a statute, the courts must look into the
meaning together in a statute, they are understood spirit of the law or the reason for it. The spirit or
to be used in their cognate sense to express the intention of the law prevails over the latter thereof. The
same relations and give color and expression to statute may be extended to
each word.
- Where a law does not define a word therein, it will
be construed as having a meaning similar to that of cases which are not included within the literal meaning
words associated or accompanied by it. of the words, if such case is within the reason for the
statute. And the cases within the letter of the law but
f.) CASUS OMISSUS (PRO OMISSO HABENDUS not within the spirit thereof are not within the statute. No
EST) reason, however, may be imputed to the legislature,
- A case omitted is to be held as intentionally which is not supported by the fact of the law itself. In
omitted determining the reason for the law, recourse may be
- the words or phrases may be supplied by the had to the preamble or applicable where adherence to
courts and inserted in a statute where that is the latter would lead to absurdity, injustice,
necessary to eliminate repugnancy and contradiction or defeat the plain purpose of the act.
inconsistency in the statute and to complete the Apparent inaccuracies did and mistakes in the mere
sense thereof, and to give effect to the intention verbiage or phraseology will be overlooked to give
of the legislature manifested therein. The rule is effect to the spirit of the law.
especially applicable where such application is
necessary to prevent the law from becoming a 3) MENS LEGISLATORIS (Considering the intent of
nullity. This rule is also used to supply omissions the legislators)
occasioned by clerical errors, by accident or - The courts look into the object to be accomplished,
inadvertence. the evils and mischief to be remedied or the purpose to
be observed. The court should give the statute a
CORRECTION OF MISTAKES, ERRORS OR reasonable or liberal construction which will best effect
OMISSIONS its purpose rather than one which will defeat it even
though such construction is not within the strict literal
When permissible interpretation of the statute.
Courts will correct errors or misprints and supply - Statutes must be construed to avoid injustice.
omissions, which, if left uncorrected, will render statute
meaningless or nonsensical or will defeat its intended LESSON 3:
operation provided the true reading is obvious and the INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES
real meaning apparent on the face of the whole
enactment. Primary Rule as to Meaning of Language of Statute
a) When the language is plain and unambiguous and
When not permissible conveys a clear & definite meaning, there is no
When statute makes specific provisions in regard to occasion in the resulting to rule of statutory
several enumerated cases or objects but omits to make construction. The statute may be given in its plain and
any provision for a case or object which is analogous to & obvious meaning.
those enumerated or which stands upon the same b) The language of the statute is to be read on its
reason and is therefore within the general scope of the natural and most obvious import of the language,
statute and it appears that such a case or object was without resorting to subtle and forced constructions for
omitted by inadvertence or because it was overlooked the purpose of either limiting or extending their
or unforeseen, it is casus omissus and the courts operation.
cannot supply the omission.
-Esp Ipsorum Legislatorum Tanquam Viva Vox
2) RATIO LEGIS (Interpretation according to spirit) (The language of the statute is to be understood and
- The underlying reason why a law is enacted. interpreted like ordinary spoken language)

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Interpretation of Particular Words and Phrases - The court is allowed to supply the necessary words
1) Technical Words & Phrases or insert in a statute words that would make the
- they are presumed to have been used in technical statute clearer and remove repugnancy.
sense & should be so understood unless evident
intention of legislature is to give them popular 10) Words and Phrases Taken Distributively
signification. - where a sentence in a statute contains several
- when it is shown that the words & phrases have in antecedents and several consequences, they are to be
technical meaning & they are susceptible to read distributively; that is to say, each phrase or
interpretation, that interpretation most favourable to the expression is to be referred to its appropriate object
party in whose favour they are used must be adopted. - Redendo Singula Singulis or “Doctrine of
Collocation” (Words in different parts of a statute must
2) Terms judicially defined or with well-settled meaning be referred to their appropriate connection.)
in law
- if used in subsequent statute, they are to be 11) Computation of Time
understood in the same sense unless there is - Article 13 of the New Civil Code: “When the law
something in the context to show that they are intended speaks of years, months, days or nights, it shall be
to bear a different meaning understood that years are of 365 days each; months of
30 days; days of 24 hours; and nights from sunset to
3) Commercial and Trade Terms sunrise. If months are designated by their name, they
- words of commerce and trade, in a tariff or revenue shall be computed by the number of days which they
law or other statutes relating to those subjects are to be respectively have.
understood in the sense they are generally accepted in - In computing a period, the first day shall be excluded,
commerce and trade and the last day included.”

4) Words of More than One Meaning 12) Conjunctive and Disjunctive Participles
- they are to be interpreted in accord with the manifest - “AND” may be read “OR” and vice versa, whenever
purpose of the statute as gathered from the context necessary to give the statute sense and effect, or to
harmonize its different part or to carry out the
5) Similar Words in Same Statute evident intention of the legislature
- a word repeatedly used in a statute should be
understood as having the same meaning throughout PARTICULAR WORDS AND PHRASES
the statute, unless there is something to show that
some other meaning is intended 1) MAY
- an auxiliary verb that operates to confer discretion
6) Associated Words upon a party and is permissive in nature
- when the meaning of a word in a statute is ambiguous
- Used in procedural or adjective laws; liberally
or vague, its true meaning may be made clear and
specific by considering the company in which it is found
and the meaning of the terms which are associated with
it 2) MAY BE
- Noscitur A Sociis or “Association of - an auxiliary verb that indicates possibility or
Words” (Associated words explain and limit each other.) opportunity

7) Express Mention and Implied Exclusion 3) SHALL/OUGHT TO/MUST

- Expression Unius Est Exclusion Alterius (The express - imperative, operating to impose a duty which may be
mention of one thing excludes others not mentioned.) enforced.
- used to express a command or exaltation in laws and
8) Doctrine of Last Antecedent is mandatory in nature
- Relative & qualifying words, phrases & clause are to - If a different interpretation is sought, it must rest upon
be applied to the word or phrase immediately preceding something in the character of the legislation or in the
& not to the extent of others. context which will justify a different meaning
- The import of the word ultimately depends upon a
9) Casus Omisus
consideration of the entire provision, its nature, object
- Words or phrases may be supplied by the courts &
and the consequences that would follow from
inserted in a statute where that is necessary to
construing it one way or the other
eliminate repugnancy & inconsistency in the statute to
complete the sense thereof & to give effect to the
intention of the legislature manifested therein 4) AND

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- conjunction connecting words or phrases expressing text. Nor can be used as basis for giving a statute
the idea that the latter is to be added or taken along a meaning.
with the first. - When the statute is ambiguous, the preamble can
- a conjunction used to denote a joinder or union of be resorted to clarify the ambiguity.
words or group of words that cannot stand without the - The intent of the law as culled from its preamble
other and from the situation, circumstances and
conditions it sought to remedy, must be enforced.
5) OR - Preamble used as a guide in determining the
- disjunctive particle used to express as alternative or to intent of the lawmaker.
give a choice of one among two or more things. It is
also used to clarify what has already been said, and in c. Body
such cases, means “in other words,” “to wit,” or “that is - Subdivided into paragraphs, chapters, headings,
to say.” articles, sections, marginal notes
- a disjunctive term signifying dissociation from each
other; indicates an alternative - Must be read in whole and not in parts to give
proper emphasis to each provision
6) ALL - universal or all-comprehensive sense or
d. Punctuations
general terms depending upon the demands of reason
- not seriously regarded. These are only minor and
are not decisive or controlling elements in the
7) ANY - a restrictive interpretation in some cases interpretation of statutes.
- may be used as an additional argument for
8) EVERY - a word of inclusion adopting the literal meaning of the words thus
punctuated but can never control against the
intelligible meaning of a written word.
- Semi- colon – used to indicate a separation in the
1. Intrinsic Aid
relation of the thought, what follows must have a
2. Extrinsic Aid relation to the same matter it precedes it.
3. Presumptions as an aid in Construction - Comma and semi- colon are use for the same
purpose to divide sentences, but the semi – colon
Lesson 1: makes the division a little more pronounce. Both
INTRINSIC AID OF CONSTRUCTION are not used to introduce a new idea.
- Aids taken from the statute itself in determining
the meaning and intention of the legislature.
- read as a whole not parts e. Legislative Definition and Interpretative Clauses
- we find in the answer to a given question base on - words used in the statute that has been defined
the facts that are present. and the construction to be placed thereon has
- aids to construction are those found in the printed been declared by the legislature.
page of the statute itself - Legislative definition supersedes the commonly
accepted judicial decision, it is the term used in a
a. Title - Interpretative clauses are clauses that are
- expresses the subject matter of the law defined
- It is used as an aid, in case of doubt in its - In case of conflict between the interpretation
language to its construction and to ascertaining clauses and the legislative meaning, as revealed
legislative will. by the statute when considered in its totality, the
- If the meaning of the statute is obscure, courts latter shall prevail.
may resort to the title to clear the obscurity.
Lesson 2:
- It is a part of the statute written immediately after
its title, which states the purpose, reason for the - Extraneous facts, circumstances of means of
enactment of the law. explanation resorted to for the purpose of
- When the meaning of a statute is clear and determining the legislative intent.
unambiguous, the preamble can neither expand - Drawing conclusions respecting subjects that lie
nor restrict its operation, much less prevail over its beyond the direct expression of the text.

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- It can only be resorted to after exhausting all the 9.) Judicial Construction
available intrinsic aids and still there remain some - The judiciary interprets the law enacted
ambiguity in the statute. - Greater weight
- These are existing aids from outside sources,
meaning outside of the four corners of the statute. 10.) Executive Construction
If there is any doubt as to the meaning of the - The executive department trying to come up to its
statute, the interpreter must first find that out within own interpretation
the statute.
11.) Legislative Construction
Examples include: - The legislative cannot interpret, only enact laws
1.) Dictionaries (legal and general)
- A statute does not define word or phrases used. 12.) Legislative History
- Generally define words in their natural plain and - what was in the legislative mind at the time the
ordinary acceptance and significance. statute was enacted; what the circumstances were;
what evil was meant to be redressed
2.) Documents and statement papers which give the
meaning - Purpose of the statute – the reason or cause
which induced the enactment of the law, the
3.) Scientific and political writings
mischief to be suppressed, and the policy which
4.) Legal Textbooks
dictated its passage
- While never admitted absolutely authoritative,
these serve as persuasive or cumulative evidence 13.) Legislative Debate
of the true meaning of the disputed statute. - They show common arguments among the
5.) Official opinions members of the legislature regarding the meaning
6.) Judicial notice of an ambiguous provision
7.) Contemporary history of the law.
14.) Opinions of Legislature
Things to be considered and discerned: - When one legislator gives an opinion regarding
1. What is the common law before the making of the provision of law
this act? - Not so much weight as far as that is concerned
2. What was the mischief or defect for which the
common law did not provide? 15.) Motives of the Legislature
3. What remedy would the legislative has to - The presumption is whenever a law is made is
resolve or appointed to cure the defect of the law? good for the public, there is no need to question
4. What is the true reason of the remedy? the legislature

Contemporary Construction 16.) Reference to Other Texts

- Constructions placed upon statutes at the time of, - Can be used as an extrinsic aid in construction of
or after their enactment by the executive, statutes.
legislative or judicial authorities, as well as by
those who involve in the process of legislation are 17.) Doctrine of Implications and Inferences
knowledgeable of the intent and purpose of the - Doctrine states that what is implied in a statute is
law. as much a part thereof as that which is expressed
- Best and strongest in law. - You cannot use this doctrine when the law is very
- When the meaning of a statute is doubtful a clear or unambiguous
practical construction put upon it at the time of its - LIMITATION: Seldom does the legislature make
passage or soon afterwards can universally something unambiguous so that you can apply this
acquire then that interpretation will continue doctrine
constant construction of this statute

Contemporanea expositio est optima et fortissima in Lesson 3:

lege (Contemporary Application) PRESUMPTIONS AS AN AID IN CONSTRUCTION
It is the best and strongest means of understanding the
law 1. Presumption against exceeding limits of legislative
8.) Usage
- the best evidence of contemporary statute and its If a statute is susceptible of more than one
universal acceptance interpretation, one of which would make it
transcend the limits of legislative competence and

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the other would make it fall within such limits, the It is always to be presumed that the legislature
latter interpretation is to be adopted, for it is intended its enactment to have the most
presumed the legislature does not design any reasonable and beneficial operation that its
attempt to transcend rightful limits of its authority. language permits

2. Presumption against violation of International Law 7. Presumption against impossibility

and against extraterritorial operation of statutes
A statute is never to be understood as requiring an
a.) In case of doubt, a statute should be construed impossibility, if such a result can be avoided by any
as to harmonize with the rules and principles of fair and reasonable construction.
international law rather than to violate them
b.) Prima facie, every statute is confined in its LEX NON COGIT AD IMPOSSIBILIA
operation within the territory of the state enacting it LEX NON INTENDIT ALIQUID IMPOSSIBLE
ans the presumption is always against giving it The law does not require an impossibility
extraterritorial operation and effect. Article 10, NCC
In case of doubt in the interpretation or application of
3. Presumption is in favor of constitutionality of statute laws, it is presumed that the law-making body intended
right and justice to prevail
a) Legislators are bound to obey and support the
constitution and it is understood that they have 8. Presumption against injustice and hardship
considered the constitutional aspect of their
enactments. Hence, the presumption is always a. It is to be presumed that the legislature did not
in favor of the constitutionality of a statute and intend a law to work hardship or injustice and in
every doubt should be resolved by the courts case of any ambiguity or absurdity in a statute, it
in favor of such constitutionality. should be construed in favor of just and equitable
b) In case of partial unconstitutionality of statute,
the valid portion, if separable from the invalid, may LEGIS CONSTRUCTIO NON FACIT INJURIAM
stand and be enforced. But in order to do this, the The construction of the law will not be such as to
valid portion must be so far independent of the work injury or injustice
invalid portion that it is fair to presume that the
legislature would have enacted it by itself if they b. Injustice and hardship which legislature is
had supposed that they could not constitutionally presumed not have intended is such as would fall
enact the other upon the public generally or be of frequent
occurrence and not such as may occur in individual
4. Presumption against inconsistency and exceptional cases.
The mind of the legislature is presumed to be
consistent and its enactments are therefore also c. Presumption of no value when language of the
presumed to be consistent with each other. law is clear and explicit even though injustice and
hardship result from its application.
5. Presumption as to motives of the legislature
A general presumption exists that a law-making SCRIPTA EST
body acted in good faith in the enactment of the This is exceedingly hard but so the law is written.
laws; that is, primarily the courts will assume that
the law-making body considered the effect of 9. Presumption against inconvenience
legislation on the constitutional rights of the citizen
and that it acted from patriotic and just motives and It is presumed that the legislature never intends its
with a desire to promote the public good and that enactments to work public inconvenience and
the law are passed in good faith in order to remedy courts will attach weight to arguments drawn from
some evil. Courts cannot impute to the legislative the inconvenient results which would follow the
department a disregard of any fundamental adoption of one construction or the other.
principle of liberty.
10. Presumption against absurdity
6. Presumption in favor of beneficial operation of
statute It is presumed that the legislature does not intend
an absurdity or that absurd consequence shall flow
from its enactments and such a result should be

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avoided if the terms of the act admit of it by a a. when statute is revised or re-enacted after it had
reasonable construction. received judicial construction, it presumed the
legislature intended that construction to continue.
11.) Presumption against ineffectiveness b. The same presumption exists in favor of
It is presumed that the legislature intends to impart construction of adopted statutes.
to its enactment such a meaning as will render
them operative and Entire Statute be given Effect
effective and courts will construe them as to carry Statutes are to be construed as to give meaning to
out these objects. every word, clause and sentence of the same and
operation and effect to every part of the provision.
12.) Presumption as to public policy and morality
The legislature is presumed to have intended its Statutes in PARI MATERIA
enactments to accord with the principles of sound They are statutes which relate to the same thing or
public policy and the interests of public morality to the same subject or object although they are
and not to violate them. enacted at different times. They should be
construed and harmonized with the existing law.
13.) Presumption against irrepealable laws Statutes in pari materia are considered as if they
The legislature is presumed not to intend its constituted but one act, so that sections of one act
enactments to be irrepealable or to divest the state may be considered as though they were parts of
of any portion of its sovereign powers the other act.

14.) Presumption as to jurisdiction of courts Limitations:

It is presumed that the legislature by its 1. Private acts in pari materia construed separately and
enactments does not intend to oust or restrict the not together
jurisdiction of superior courts or to vest a new
jurisdiction in them unless there be express words 2. Constitutional and statutory provisions in pari materia
or a necessary implication to that effect. are not to be construed together.

15.) Presumption regarding existing laws What happens when there are conflicting clauses or
It is presumed that the legislature, in drafting and provisions?
enacting a statute and full knowledge and took The two provisions must be reconciled, if possible
cognizance of all existing laws on the same subject and both be given effect. It is the duty of the courts
matter relating thereto. to harmonize these provisions. In the event that
there are irreconcilable and inconsistent
16.) Presumption against unnecessary change of laws provisions, the provision last in order of position
It is presumed that the legislature does not intend will prevail as being the latest expression of the
to make unnecessary changes in the pre-existing law.
body of law and the construction of a statute
should be such as to avoid any change in the prior Rules in Inconsistent and Irreconcilable Provisions
laws beyond what is necessary to effect the 1.) The latest in point of order of position will prevail
specific purpose of the act in question. 2.) If one is susceptible of one meaning and the other
17.) Presumption against implied repeals of laws has two or more meaning, the provision that has only
The presumption being against any intention to one meaning would prevail over the other provision
make unnecessary changes in the laws, it follows 3.) IF the irreconcilable can no longer be resolved, the
that there is also a presumption against repeal by court will declare it VOID.
General and Special Provisions
18.) Presumption in favor of exception to general - GENERALIA SPECIALIBUS NON DEROGANT
language General provisions do not repeal special ones
It is presumed that the legislature intended
exceptions to its general language which would - Special/specific provisions prevail except when the
avoid injustice, oppression or absurdity, if literal general and special provisions are already in harmony
interpretation were adopted. with each other.

19.) Presumption in favor of previous judicial Clauses normally found in a statute

1.) PROVISO – a clause added to a statute or to
section or part thereof, which introduces a condition or

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limitation upon the operation of the enactment or makes Note: Saving clauses should be construed together in
special provision for cases exempted from the general connection with the body of the statute in order to arrive
provisions of the law or qualifies or restrains its at the legislative intent.
generality or exclude some possible ground of
misrepresentation of its extent.

Construction of Proviso:
a.) It should be construed as to confine it to that
which directly precedes it or to the section to which
is appended, unless it clearly appears that
legislature intended to give it a wider scope.

b.) It should be strictly construed to include no

case not within its letter, unless broader application
is intended by legislature
c.) A construction of proviso which would make it
repugnant to the body of the act should be rejected
if possible
d.) No proviso should be so construed as to
destroy provisions which it limits or to repeal the
main provisions of the act.

Functions of Proviso:
1.) Creates condition precedent
2.) To limit, restrict or qualify in whole or in part
3.) To exclude from its scope
4.) Used to guard again

2.) EXCEPTIONS - a clause which exempts from the

operation of the statute persons, things or cases which
would otherwise be included. It is similar to a proviso
and serves practically same purpose as the latter.


follows the enacting clause and operates to defeat
its operation conditionally

construed liberally

exempts something absolutely from the operation
of a statute by express words in the enacting

construed strictly when the statute is promoting the

public welfare or where the general law is entitled
to a liberal construction.

3.) SAVING CLAUSES - one that exempts a special

things out of the general things mentioned in the
enactment. More particularly the existing rights or
causes of action or pending proceedings from
immediate interference by operation of a statute.

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