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Statutory Construction
1st Term 2009-2010


I. Statutes, in general

A. Definitions and Distinctions

1. What is a statute?
- anact of the legislature commanding or prohibiting something; a particular law enacted and
established by the will of the legislative department of government; the written will of the
legislature, solemnly expressed according to the forms necessary to constitute it the law of
the state.

2. What is a law?
- law means a rule of conduct formulated and made obligatory by legitimate power of the

3. What is Construction?
- rootword is "construe"
- the drawing of conclusions with respect to subjects that are beyond the direct expression of
the text from elements known and given in the text.

4. What is Interpretation?
- the process of discovering the true meaning of the language used.

5. What is Statutory Construction?

- is the art or process of discovering and expounding the meaning and the intention of the
authors of the law with respect to its application in a given case, where that intention is
rendered doubtful, amongst others, by reason of the fact that the given case is not explicitly
provided for in the law.

Definition of Statutory Construction

case 1: Caltex v. Palomar (GR L-19650, 29 September 1966)

B. Parts of a Statute
1) Title - The part which announces the subject of the bill. The purpose of a title is to give a
general statement of and to call attention to the subject matter of the act. It may also
be used for identification. The title is used as a guide to ascertain the legislative will
when the language of the act does not clearly express its purpose
2) Preamble - It is the part which follows the title and precedes the enacting clause. The
preamble explains the reasons for the enactment and the ob jects sought to be
attained thereby. A preamble neither creates nor grants any right, nor is it the source
of any government power.
3) Enacting Clause - It is the part of the bill immediately preceding the body of the statue and
which identifies the bill as an act of legislation.
4) Body - It is the principal portion of the bill embodying the substance of the right or remedy
provided for.
5) Effectivity Date - It is that portion which provides for the time when the law shall take effect
C. Enactment of a Statute (How does a bill become a law?)
- No bill passed by either House shall become a law unless it has passed three readings on separate days,
and printed copies thereof in its final form have been distributed to its Members three (3) days before its passage,
except when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or
- Upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be allowed, and the vote thereon shall be taken
immediately thereafter, and the yeas and nays entered in the Journal.
- Every bill passed by the Congress shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President.
- If he approves the same, he shall sign it; otherwise, he shall veto it and return the same with his objections
to the House where it originated, which shall enter the objections at large in its Journal and proceed to reconsider it.
- If, after such reconsideration, two-thirds (2/3) of all the Members of such House shall agree to pass the
bill, it shall be sent together with the objections, to the other House by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if
approved by two-thirds (2/3) of all the Members of that House, it shall become a law.
- In all such cases, the votes of each House shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the
Members voting for or against shall be entered in its Journal.
- The President shall communicate his veto of any bill to the House where it originated within thirty (30)
days after the date of receipt thereof; otherwise, it shall become a law as if he had signed it.

D. Presidential Issuances
- Presidential issuances are those which the President issues in the exercise of his ordinance power. They
include executive orders, administrative orders, proclamations, memorandum orders, memorandum circulars, and
general or special orders. These issuances have the force and effect of laws.
- Generally, rules and regulations issued by administrative or executive officers are of two (2) types,
> those whose purpose is to enforce or implement existing law pursuant to a valid delegation or to
fill in the details of a statute (i.e. requires publication for its effectivity)
> those which are merely interpretative in nature or merely internal in character not concerning the
public (i.e. does not require publication for its effectivity)

E. Effect and Operation

F. Types/Kinds of Statutes
As to Scope of Application:
- GENERAL - One which affects all of the people of the State or all persons or things of a
particular class
- SPECIAL- One which relates either to particular persons or things of a class or which
operates on a portion of a class instead of all the classes.
- LOCAL - One which operates over a particular locality instead of over the whole
territory of the State

As to Interested Parties:
- PUBLIC - One which concerns the interest of the public at large
- PRIVATE - One which relates to, concerns and affects particular individuals

As to Effect (In Time):

- PROSPECTIVE - One which anticipates the regulation of future conduct
- RETROSPECTIVE - One that affects acts already committed and operates on
transactions completed

As to Purpose:
- REMEDIAL - Statutes which afford a remedy, or improve or facilitate existing remedies
for the enforcement of rights and of redress of injuries
- PENAL - Those which impose a punishment for the violation of its provisions
- CURATIVE - Those which are enacted to cure defects in a prior law
As to Coercive Force Applied:
- MANDATORY - A statute is mandatory if non-compliance therewith renders the
proceedings to which it relates null and void.
- DIRECTORY - A statute or any of its provisions is directory if non-compliance therewith
does not invalidate the proceedings to which it relates.

As to Period of Effectivity:
- PERMANENT - One whose operation or activity is not limited to some particular term or
period, but continues in force until repealed or amended.
- TEMPORARY - One whose operation or effectivity is limited to a fixed period or term. It
continues in force up to the expiration of said period or term, unless
earlier repealed or amended.

As to Stage of Enactment:
- ORIGINAL - One which purports to be independent of existing statutory provision.
- AMENDATORY - One which expressly adds to or supplements, or works out an
improvement in the original law.
- REPEALING - One which revokes or terminates another statute.
- ADOPTED - Those which are adopted wholly or in part by another state.
- RE-ENACTED - These are pre-existing statues which are passed by the legislature
which originally enacted them in the same terms or in substantially the
same language and for the same purpose and object as the original

II. Statutory Construction, in general

A. When does statutory construction come in?

- "The first and fundamental duty of courts, in our judgment, is to apply the law. Construction and
interpretation come only after it has been demonstrated that application is impossible or inadequate without them."

case 2: National Federation of Labor (NFL) v. Eisma (GR L-61236, 31 January 1984)
case 3: Paat v. CA (GR 111107, 10 January 1997)
case 4: People v. Mapa (GR L-22301, 30 August 1967)
case 5: Daoang v. Municipal Judge of San Nicolas (GR L-34568, 28 March 1988)
case 6: Paras v. Comelec (GR 123169, 4 November 1996)

B. Statutory Construction vs. Judicial Legislation

Statutory Construction, whose job is it?

- "To declare what the law shall be is a legislative power, but to declare what the law is or
has been, is judicial."

case 7: Floresca v. Philex Mining (GR L-30642, 30 April 1985)

case 8: Republic v. CA and Molina (GR 108763, 13 February 1997)

C. Legislative Intent, how ascertained

How must Legislative Intent be ascertained?

- 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. A statute must be construed so as to harmonize and give effect to all its provisions wherever

case 9: Aisporna v. CA (GR L-39419, 12 April 1982)

China Bank v. Ortega (GR L-34964, 31 January 1973)
Board of Administrators of the PVA v. Bautista (GR L-37867, 22 Feb. 1982)

D. Power to Construe
- The duty and power to interpret or construe a statute or the Constitution belong to the judiciary. It
is the duty of the legislature to make the law; of the executive to execute the law; and of the judiciary to construe the
- While the legislature may indicate its construction of a statute in the form of a resolution or
declaratory act, it cannot preclude the courts from giving the statute a different interpretation.

E. Limitations on the Power to Construe

- The courts may not enlarge nor restrict statutes.
- Courts not to be influenced by questions of wisdom.

III. Aids in Construction

A. Intrinsic Aids
B. Extrinsic Aids
case 10: Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila v. SSC (GR L-15045, 20 Jan. 1961)

- To ascertain the true intent of the statute, the court may avail of intrinsic aids, or those found in the
printed page of the statute, and extrinsic aids, those extraneous facts and circumstances outside the printed page.
> Title - It may indicate the legislative extent or restrict the scope of law
> Preamble - It may, when the statute is ambiguous, be resorted to clarify the ambiguity, as a key to open
the minds of the lawmakers as to the purpose of the statute.
> Context of the whole text - best source from which to ascertaun the legislative intent is the statute itself
> Legislative History - Where a statute is susceptible to several interpretations, there is no better means of
ascertaining the will and intention of the legislature than that which is afforded by the history of the statute. The
history of a statute refers to all its antecedents from its inception until its enactment into law.
> Legislative debates, views and deliberations - Where there is doubt as to what a provision of a statute
means, that meaning which was put to the provision during the legislative deliberation or discussion on the bill may
be adopted.
> Reports of the Commission - In construing the provisions of the code as thus enacted, courts may
properly refer to the reports of the commission that drafted the code in aid of clarifiying ambiguities therein.
> Prior laws from which the statute is based - Legislative history will clarify the intent of the law or shed
light on the meaning and scope of the codified or revised statute.
> Change in phraseology - Courts may investigate the history of the provisions to ascertain legislative
intent as to the meaning and scope of the amended law.
> History of the times - The history of the times out of which the law grew and to which it may be
rationally supposed to bear some direct relationship.

C. Contemporary Construction

case 11: David vs. Comelec, 271 SCRA 90

IV. Interpretation of Statutes

A. Literal Construction
Statutes are to be interpreted in their ordinary, commonly accepted usage. When the language of
the law is clear and unequivocal, the law must be taken to mean exactly what it says. When
statutory norm speak s unequivocally, there is nothing for the Courts to do but apply it.

case 12: Salvatierra v. CA (GR 107797, 26 August 1996)

Kapisanan ng mga Manggagawa v. Manila Railroad Company (GR
L-25316, 28 February 1979)

a. Departure from Literal Interpretation

when literal interpretation not favored

- the rules of Court are procedural in nature while the Civil Code is substantive
- thespirit, rather than the letter, of a law determines its construction; hence, a
statute must be read according to its spirit and intent.

case 13: Abellana v. Marave (GR L-27760)

Paras vs. Comelec, 264 SCRA 49, supra

b. Implications

B. Executive Construction

basic rule on Executive Construction

- thecontemporaneous construction of a statute by the executive officers of the
government whose duty is to execute it, is entitled to great respect, and should
ordinarily control the construction of the statute by the courts.

case 14: PAFLU v. Bureau of Labor Relations (GR L-43760 21 Aug 76)

when Executive Construction is not given weight

- while it is true that contemporaneous construction placed upon a statute by
executive officers must be given great weight, if such construction is clearly
erroneous, it must be declared null and void.

case 15: Philippine Apparel WU v. NLRC (GR L-50320 31 July 81)

IBAA Employees Union v. Inciong (GR L52415, 23 October 1984)
Chartered Bank Employees Association v. Ople (GR L-44717, 28
Aug 85)

C. Rule vs. Opinion

What is the difference between a rule and an opinion

rule- when an administrative agency promulgates rules and regulations, it makes a new law
with the force and effect of a valid law.
opinion- gives a statement of policy and merely interprets a pre-existing law.

case 16: Victorias Milling v. SSC (GR L-16704, 17 March 1962)

D. Strict Construction
E. Liberal Construction

V. Subjects of Construction

The Constitution
- it is the written instrument agreed upon by the the absolute rule of action and
decision for all departments and officers of the government, and in opposition to which
any act or rule of any department or officer of the government, or even of the people
themselves, will be altogether void.

How should the constitution be construed

- the Constitution should be strictly construed so as to give effect to the whole
instrument, and to every section and clause. If different portions seem to
conflict, the Courts must harmonize them, if practicable, and must lean in
favor of a construction which will render every word operative, rather than
one which may make some words idle and nugatory.

case 17: Sarmiento v. Mison (GR 79974, 17 December 1987)

Perfecto v. Meer (GR L-2348, 27 February 1950)
Endencia v. David (GR L-6355-56, 31 August 1953)
case 18: Nitafan v. CIR (GR L-78780, 23 July 1987)

May the preamble be referred to in the construction of

Constitutional Provisions?
- yes, the preamble may be referred to in the construction of constitutional
provisions. When the Filipino people, in the Preamble of their
Constitution, implored “the aid of Divine Providence, in order to establish
a government that shall embody their ideals, conserve and develop the
patrimony of the nation, promote the general welfare, and secure for
themselves and their posterity the blessings of independence under a
regime of justice, liberty and democracy,” they thereby manifested their
intense religious nature and placed unfaltering reliance upon Him who
guides the destinies of men and nations.

case 19: Aglipay v. Ruiz (GR 45459, 13 March 1937)

Are the provisions of the Constitution self-executing?

- Constitutional provision is self executing if the nature and extent of the right
conferred and the liability imposed are fixed by the Constitution itself, so
that they can be determined by an examination and construction of its terms,
and there is no language indicating that the subject is referred to the
legislature for action.

case 20: Manila Prince Hotel v. GSIS (GR 122156, 3 February 1997)
- anact of the legislature commanding or prohibiting something; a particular law enacted and
established by the will of the legislative department of government; the written will of the
legislature, solemnly expressed according to the forms necessary to constitute it the law of
the state.
Requirements for the publication of laws
- laws shall take effect after 15 days following the completion of their
publication in the Official Gazette unless it is otherwise provided.
- when the law is silent as to the effectivity date, publication in the Official
Gazette is necessary for determining the date of effectivity

case 21: Tanada v. Tuvera (GR L-63915, 24 April 1985)

case 22: Tanada v. Tuvera (GR L-63915, 29 December 1986)

- an act passed by a municipal council, in the exercise of its law-making authority; in a more
limited sense, the term is used to designate the enactment of the legislative body of a
municipal corporation.

Rule on Construction of ordinances vis-a-vis Statute

- It is a fundamental principle that municipal ordinances are inferior in status
and subordinate to the laws of the State; the ordinance must give way.

case 23: Primicias v. Urdaneta (GR L-26702, 18 October 1979)

VI. Interpretation of specific types of statutes

Tax Laws
- As a general rule: inasmuch as revenue laws impose special burden upon taxpayers, the
same should be strictly construed against the government and in favor of the taxpayer, if the
intent or meaning of the tax statute is doubtful.

How are tax refunds construed?

- are strictly construed against the taxpayer and liberally in favor of the
taxing authority.

case 24: La Carlota Sugar Central v. Jimenez (GR L-12436, 31 May 1961)

Who has the burden of proof in tax cases?

- theburden of proof in tax cases belongs to the taxpayer.

CIR v. CA (GR 115349, 18 April 1997)

case 25: Mactan Cebu (MCIAA) v. Marcos (GR 120082, 11 Sept 1996)

Tax Sales construed

- are strictly construed against the taxpayer.

case 26: Serfino v. CA (GR L-40858, 15 September 1987)

Labor Laws

Rule on the construction of labor laws

- the rule on construction of labor laws shall be resolved in favor of Labor.

Manahan v. ECC (GR L-44899, 22 April 1981)

Villavert v. ECC (GR L-48605, 14 December 1981)
case 27: Del Rosario & Sons v. NLRC (GR L-64204, 31 May 1985)


Rule in the interpretation of insurance provisions

- in case there is no doubt as to the terms of an insurance contract, the
provisions must be construed in their plain, ordinary and popular sense.
- where the terms of the policy are ambiguous, uncertain and doubtful, they
should be interpreted strictly and most strongly against the insurer, and
liberallyin favor of the insured.

Ty v. First National Surety (GR L-16138, 29 April 1961)

case 28: De la Cruz v. Capital Insurance (GR L-21574, 30 June 1966)

Ambiguous provision interpreted against insurer

- where the terms of the policy are ambiguous, uncertain and doubtful, they
should be interpreted strictly and most strongly against the insurer, and
liberallyin favor of the insured.

case 29: Qua Chee Gan v. Law Union and Rock Insurance (GR L-4611,
17 December 1955)

Corporate Law

Rule on the interpretation of Corporate Law provisions?

- must be given a reasonable, not an unduly harsh, liberal interpretation
which does not hamper the development of trade relations and which foster
friendship and commercial intercourse among countries.

case 30: Home Insurance v. Eastern Shipping Lines (GR L-34382, 20

July 1983)

Naturalization Laws

Rule on the construction of Naturalization Laws

- should be rigidly enforced and strictly construed in favor of the government
and against the applicant.

case 31: Co v. Republic (GR L-12150, 26 May 1960)

Lee Cho (@ Sem Lee) v. Republic (GR L-12408, 28 Dec. 1959)

Agrarian Reform Laws

Rule on the construction of Agrarian Reform Laws

- construed liberally in favor of the farmers.

case 32: Guerrero v. CA (GR L-44570, 30 May 1986)

Rules of Court

Rule on the construction of the provisions of the Rules of Court

- shall be liberally construed in order to avoid injustice, discrimination and

case 33: Bello v. CA (GR L-38161, 29 March 1974)

Expropriation Laws
- strictly construed against the one exercising the expropriation.

case 34: City of Manila v. Chinese Community of Manila (GR 14355, 31


Election Laws
- liberallyconstrued in favor of the will of the people.

case 35: Villanueva v. Comelec (GR L-54718, 4 December 1985)


Rule on the interpretation of wills

- strictly construed according to the formalities to be observed in the

case 36: In RE: Tampoy (GR L-14322, 25 February 1960)

VII. Construction of Words and Phrases

A. “May” and “Shall”

May Shall
-permissive -imperative
-confers discretion -mandatory
-connotes possibility, not certainty -imposes a duty, which may be enforced

case 37: Capati v. Ocampo, GR L-28742, April 30, 1982)

B. “Of” and “May”

C. “And” and “Or”

Or And
-disjunctive -conjunctive
-indicates alternative -various members are taken jointly

case 38: GMCR vs. Bell Telecommunications, 271 SCRA 790

D. “Principally” and “Exclusively”

Principally Exclusively
-synonymous to primarily -solely
-indicates choice

case 39: Alfon v. Republic (GR L-51201, 29 May 1980)

E. “Previously” and “Simultaneously”

Previously Simultaneously
-refers to the subject matter it modifies -concurrence of events and elements

case 40: Rura v. Lopena (GR L-69810-14, 19 June 1985)

F. “Every”, “Each” and “Particularly”

Every Each Particularly

- generally regarded as inclusive -refers to a unit -specifically

case 41: NHA vs Juco, 134 SCRA 172 (1985)

G. “Term” and “Tenure”

Term Tenure
-period of an office or position -security of an office or employment

case 42: Aparri vs Court of Appeals, 127 SCRA 231 (1984)

H. “Surplusages”

– no haste in treating some words as such
– if can admit of some reasonable construction that will provide some force of meaning, then
don’t ignore such words
– ignore when words have no meaning in harmony with the legislative intent

case 43: Demafiles vs. Comelec, GR L-28396, 29 December 1987

I. Punctuations

– not a decisive or controlling element
– construction should be based on something more substantial than mere punctuation

case 44: Arabay vs CFI of Zamboanga del Norte, 66 SCRA 617

case 45: US vs Hart, 26 Phil 149

J. Associated Words

Associated Words
– aside from the legal intent, take the statutes as a whole
– relate words that are associated with each other
K. Provisos, Exceptions and Saving Clauses

– A clause in a document making a qualification, condition, or restriction
– no need to observe the general rule
Saving Clause
– tries to save the rest of the laws if a portion is declared unconstitutional

VIII. Particular Latin Phrases

A. Uti Loquitur Vulgus- use words in their popular sense or ordinary meaning.
-statutes are presumed to use words in their popular sense

B. Verba Legis- from the words of the statute.

-from words of the statute, there should be no departure
case 46: Victoria vs. COMELEC, (GR No. 109005, January 10, 1994)

C. Ratio Legis- the reason of the law.

-the reason of the law is the soul of the law
case 47: Commissioner of Internal Revenue vs. Seagate Technology,
(GR No. 153866, Feb. 11, 2005)

D. Mens Legislatoris-
- reasonable or liberal constuction that will best serve the purpose rather than defeat of the
case 48: Matabuena v. Cervantes (GR L-28771, March 31,1971)

E. Dura Lex Sed Lex- the law may be harsh, but that is the law.
-the law may be harsh but it is the law

case 49: People v. Santayana (GR L-22291, November 15, 1976)

F. Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius- the mention of one thing implies the exclusion of another
thing not mentioned.

-the express inclusion of one implies the exclusion of another

case 50: Rubio, Jr. vs. Paras (GR No. 156047, April 12, 2005)

G. Ejusdem Generis- of the same nature or kind.

-when specific words preceding the general expression are of the same nature, the general
terms will be construed to be of the same class/nature

case 51: Mutuc v. Comelec (GR L-32717, November 26, 1970)

H. Cassus Omissus- a person, object or thing omitted

-a person or thing omitted must have been omitted intentionally
-may be prohibitive or permissive
case 52: People v. Manantan (GR L-14129, July 31, 1962)
case 53: Lopez v. CTA (GR L-9274, February 1, 1957)

I. Noscitur A Sociis-
-the meaning of particular terms may be ascertained by reference to words associated with
or related to them in statute

case 54: Sanciangco v. Rono (GR L-68709, July 19, 1985)

IX. Statute Construed as a Whole and in Relation to Other Statutes

-take it as a whole and in relation to other laws
case 55: Lozano vs. Yorac (GR Nos. 94521 &4626, October 28, 1991)

X. Special over general

What is the rule regarding conflicting provisions of the same statute?

-special prevails over general
case 56: Manila Railroad Co. v.Collector of Customs (GR 30264, 12
March 1929)
case 57: Almeda vs. Florentino, 15 SCRA 514

What is the rule regarding conflicting provisions of different statutes?

-special prevails over general
case 58: Laxamana v. Baltazar (GR L-5955, 19 September 1952)
case 59: Butuan Sawmill v. City of Butuan (GR L-21516, 29 April 1966)
case 60: Arayata vs. Joya, 51 PHIL 654

What is the rule in case of conflict between a special provision of a general law and
a general provision of a special law?
-special provision of a general law prevails over a general provision of a special law
case 61: City of Manila vs. Teotico, 2 SCRA 267
case 62: David vs. Comelec, 271 SCRA 90

XI. Mandatory and Directory Statutes

-Mandatory uses shall and has penalties

XII. Prospective and Retroactive Statutes

-General rule: All laws are applied prospectively. It can only be applied retroactively if
favourable to the accused

XIII. Amendment, Revision, Codification and Repeal

Amendment Revision Codification Repeal

- alteration in an existing law -substantial alteration of -unification of like laws - annulling of a
leaving some parts of the a law previously existing law
original in effect ex. Revised Penal Code by enacting of a
subsequent statute that
evokes the forms
expressly or impliedly
because of

case 63: Tac-an vs. CA, 137 SCRA 803

case 64: Villegas v. Subido (GR L-31711, 30 September 1987)

XIV. Practical Applications