You are on page 1of 4


PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS Statutory Construction - Defined as the art 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 for in the law (Caltex vs. Palomar) - Art of seeking the intention of the legislature in enacting a statute and applying it to a given set of facts (Justice Martin) - Branch of the law dealing with the interpretation of laws enacted by a legislature (American jurisprudence) Construction vs. Interpretation Drawing of conclusions Process of discovering the with respect to the subjects true meaning of the beyond the direct language used expression of the text from the element known and given in the text Ascertain the meaning of the law beyond the language of the statute through the assistance of extrinsic aids Ascertain the meaning of the law through a word found in the statute and limited only to exploring the written text II. alternative but to apply the law and not to interpret (Verbal egis plain meaning rule). Stated differently, the Court cannot shy away from applying the law when no interpretation is need no matter how harsh the law may be or how grave the penalty the law imposes (Dura lex sed lex the law may be harsh but it is the law). [Article 9, NCC; People vs. Amigo] Different Kinds of Construction and Interpretation Hermaneutics science or art of construction and interpretation; legal hermeneutics systematic body of rules which are recognized as applicable to the construction and interpretation of legal writings Dr. Liebers: (PECELF) 1. Predestined interpretation biased personal interpretation includes artful interpretation preconceived by his views and desires 2. Extensive interpretation - liberal interpretation; more comprehensive signification of words 3. Close interpretation literal interpretation; words in their narrowest meaning 4. Extravagant interpretation substitutes a meaning evidently beyond the true one; not a genuine interpretation 5. Limited or restricted interpretation influence by other principles than the strictly hermeneutic ones 6. Free or unrestricted interpretation rely on general principles of interpretation in good faith not by any specific or superior principle Laws are more often interpreted either literally, strictly or liberally, and prospectively or retrospectively

Situs of Construction and Interpretation The purpose of construction and interpretation of statute is to ascertain and give effect to the legislative intent. In our system of government, we observe the principle of separation of powers and the system of checks and balances where the legislative power is vested in the Congress, the executive power to the President of the Philippines, and the judicial power to one Supreme Court and in such lower courts. Thus, the situs of construction and interpretation is vested in the judicial department. Requisites in Construing and Interpreting a Law 1. Actual controversy - A case brought to the court by party litigants to hear and settle their disputes 2. Ambiguity in the law - The law involved is susceptible of two or more interpretations - Ambiguity: Doubtfulness; doubleness of meaning; duplicity; indistinctiveness; or uncertainty of meaning - Patent ambiguity appears on the face of the instrument and arises from the defective, vague, obscure, or insensible language used Duty of the court is to apply the law. When the law is clear and unequivocal, the Court has no other

STATUTES Bill draft of a proposed law from the time of its introduction in a legislative body; term used before it is enacted into law Statute written will of the legislature solemnly expressed according to the form necessary to constitute it as the law of the state Statute law statute + judicial interpretation How a Bill Becomes a Law (page4) Constitutional Test in the Passage of a Bill 1. Every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof (Article VI, Section 26[1], PGC). The purpose is to prevent hodge-podge or log-rolling legislation, prevent surprise or fraud upon the legislature, and to fairly apprise the people. 2. Three Reading and No Amendment rules. 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 each member three days before its passage (Article VI, Section 26[2], PGC). This is to prevent hasty and improvident legislation and afford the legislators time to study and deliberate the measures. 3. Presidents approval and veto power.


Every bill passed by the Congress shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President (Article VI, Section 27[1], PGC). [Explain Checks and Balance] Parts of Statute (TPEBpeRSSE) 1. Title heading; summary of contents 2. Preamble rationale; whereas 3. Enacting Clause states that it has gone through due process; be it enacted 4. Body main & operative part; provisos & exceptions 5. Repealing Clause repeal 6. Saving Clause save rights, etc. 7. Separability Clause remaining provisions shall still be in force 8. Effectivity Clause effective date of the law

a. Irreconcilable conflict two statutes on the same matter b. Substitute later statute covers the whole subject of an earlier statute Ordinance Ordinance is an act passed by the local legislative body in the exercise of its law-making authority. Test of a Valid Ordinance (CU2P2G) 1. Not contravene the Constitution or any statute 2. Not be unfair or oppressive 3. Not be unreasonable 4. Not be partial or discriminatory 5. Not prohibit but may regulate trade 6. General and consistent with public policy Ordinance should not contravene any statutes because Municipal governments are only agents of the national government. Thus, local councils exercise only delegated legislative powers conferred on them by Congress as the national law making body.

Kinds of Statutes 1. General community at large 2. Special particular purpose; limited in range; confined to a prescribed field 3. Local particular locality 4. Public general classification of law 5. Private relationship among individuals, associations, and/or corporations 6. Remedial means and method (Rules of Court) 7. Curative correct errors and irregularities (retrospective legislation) 8. Penal defines criminal offenses (and punishments) 9. Prospective applicable only after its enactment 10. Retrospective contemplates the past 11. Affirmative what shall be done 12. Mandatory statutes which require and not merely permit; opposite of prohibitory laws 13. Directory observance of which is not necessary to the validity of the proceedings Judicial Doctrine Judicial interpretation of a statute, which constitutes part of the law as of the date it was originally passed since the Courts construction, merely establishes the contemporaneous legislative intent. Concept of Vague Statutes It is said to be vague when it lacks comprehensible standards that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application. It is repugnant to the Constitution in two respects: (1) it violates due process for failure to accord persons, especially the parties targeted by it, fair notice of the conduct to avoid; and (2) it leaves the law enforcers unbridled discretion in carrying out its provisions and becomes an arbitrary flexing of the Government muscle. Act must be utterly vague on its face and cannot be clarified by either saving clause or by construction. The vagueness doctrine merely requires a reasonable degree of certainty for the statute to be upheld not an absolute precision. Repeals of Statutes 1. Express declaration of the law being repealed necessary 2. Implied (1) contrary to an earlier law and (2) only one of the two statutes must stand to be operative Two categories of implied repeal:

Processual Presumption Where a foreign law is not pleaded, or even if pleaded, is not proved, the presumption is that foreign law is the same as ours. III. BASIC GUIDELINES IN THE CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION OF LAWS Legislative Intent objective footprints left on the trail of legislative enactment laws are product of experience; what history the laws constitute 1. Verba legis - Plain meaning rule - Verbal egis non est recedendum from the words of the statute there shall be no departure - State must be interpreted literally 2. Statute as a whole - Statute must be considered as a whole, just as it is necessary to consider a sentence in its entirety in order to grasp its true meaning. - Thoughts conveyed by the statute in its entirety may reveal the inaccurate use of words. - Ut res magis valeat quam pereat the thing may rather have effect than be destroyed 3. Spirit and purpose of the law - Ratio est anima the reason of the law is its soul - No law is ever enacted that is intended to be meaningless, much less inutile. - Between two statutory interpretations, that which better serves the purpose of the law should prevail - Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos where the law does not distinguish, we ought not to distinguish - Cessante ratione legis, cessat ipsa lex when the reason of the law ceases, the law itself ceases 4. Implications - If the intent is expressed, there is nothing that can be applied. - Expression unius est exclusion alterius express mention is implied exclusion

GEMMA F. TIAMA , 2013|3 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION REVIEWER (Atty. Noli C. Diaz) - Casus omissus pro omisso habendus est a case omitted is to be held as intentionally omitted - Ex necessitate legis from the necessity of law - In eo plus sit, sunperinest et minus the greater included the lesser 5. Stare decisis - Stare decisis et non quieta movere to stand by decisions and do not disturb the undisturbed - Adherence to judicial precedents - When the court has once laid down a principle of law as applicable to a certain state of facts, it will adhere to that principle, and apply to it to all future cases, where facts are substantially the same. - Matters already decided on the merits cannot be relitigated again and again IV. CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES 1. When the law does not distinguish, courts should not distinguish - Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos - General words and phrases in a statute should not ordinarily be accorded their natural and general significance. 2. General and Special Terms - General terms general construction Special terms restrained and limited 3. General terms following special terms - Ejusdem generis of the same kind - Where general words follow an enumeration of persons or things, by words or a particular and specific meaning, such general words are not to be construed in their widest extent but only to those specifically mentioned. - Case cited: People vs. Echaves, Vera vs. Cuevas 4. Express mention and implied exclusion - Expression unius est exclusion alterius - Useful only as a guide in determining the probable intention of the legislature - Where a statute appears on its face to limit the operation of its provisions to particular persons or things by enumerating them, but no reason exists thy other persons or things not so enumerated should not have been included, and manifest injustice will follow by not so including them, the maxim expression unius est exclusion alterius should not be invoked. 5. Associated words - Noscitur a sociis one is known by his companion - Associated words explain and limit each other - Redendo singular singulis referring each to each - Optima statute interpretatix est ipsum statutum the best interpreter of the statute is the statute itself 6. Use of negative words - Negative words mandatory Affirmative - directory 7. May, shall, must, ought - may permissible; directory not mandatory may not mandatory; may becomes prohibitory shall, must, ought imperative; not always imperative and may be consistent with an exercise of discretion 8. The use of the terms and and or V. - and conjunction; addition or disjunctive particle; alternative/choice between different or unlike things and/or and and or are to be used interchangeable 9. Only exclusive 10. Week period of seven consecutive days without regard to the day of the week on which it begins 11. Proviso provided; clause or part of a clause in the statute, the office of which is either: a. to except something from the enacting clause; b. to qualify or restrain its generality; or c. to exclude some possible ground of misinterpretation of its extent PRESUMPTIONS IN AID OF CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. VI. Presumption against unconstitutionality Presumption against injustice Presumption against implied repeals Repeals of statute by implication not favored Presumption against ineffectiveness Presumption against absurdity Presumption against violation of international law

INTRINSIC AIDS IN CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION Intrinsic Aids internal or within; aids within the statute 1. Title 2. Text of the statute 3. Preamble


How a Bill Becomes a Law a. A member of the National Assembly may introduce the proposed bill the Secretary of the National Assembly who shall calendar the same for its first reading. Of course, the proponent must affix his signature in the proposed bill stating his purpose. b. In the first reading, the bill is read by its number and title only. c. After the first reading, the bill is referred by the Speaker to the appropriate committee for study. At this stage, the appropriate committee will conduct public hearings. It must call all the necessary parties, person, organizations, or sectors of societies involved to obtain their reactions and feelings on the proposed bill. After the public hearing, the committee shall decide whether or not to report the bill favorably or whether a substitute bill should be considered. NOTE: Should there be unfavorable report from the committee, the bill is dead. d. Upon favorable action by the appropriate committee, the bill is returned to the National Assembly and shall be calendared for the second reading. e. In the second reading, the bill is read in its entirety. f. Immediately after the second reading, the bill is set for open debates and members of the National Assembly may propose amendments and insertions to the proposed bill. NOTE: After the amendments and insertions to the proposed bill, the ideal bill as conceived by the author may no longer be an ideal bill or vice versa, i.e. it may become a better bill after deliberations and debates which should be the proper case. g. After the approval of the bill in its second reading and at least three (3) calendar days before its final passage, the bill is printed in its final form and copies thereof distributed to each of the members of the National Assembly unless the Prime Minister (President under the present system) certifies in writing as to the necessity of the immediate enactment of the bill to meet a public calamity or emergency (Art VI, Section 26[2], 1987 PGC) h. The bill is then calendared for the third and final reading. At this stage, no amendment shall be allowed. Only the title of the bill is read and the National Assembly will then vote on the bill. The yeas or nays are entered in the journal. It appears that only majority of the members present constituting a quorum is sufficient to pass a bill.

NOTE: Quorum is a sufficient number of members of National Assembly or Congress to transact its daily business. Usually, it is 51% of the number of the body or 50% plus one depending on their internal rules. i. If the NO Vote wins, the proposed bill is dead. At this stage lies the difference between parliamentary system enshrined in the 1973 Constitution and the present 1987 Constitution. Under our present set-up, if two-thirds of all the members of a House decided to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections to the other house where it will undergo the same process, meaning another (3) readings on separate days. Moreover, if there is a variance between the proposed bill of the HOR and the Senate version of the bill, it may pass through the powerful bicameral conference committee, which can introduce amendments to suit both house of Congress. This is also known as the compromise bill. NOTE: At this stage, the original bill conceived by the original author may no longer be his proposed bill. After the bill has been finally passed, it will be submitted to the Prime Minister (President) for his approval. If he approves the same, he shall sign it, otherwise, he shall veto it and return the same with his objections to the National Assembly (House where it originated) and, if approved by two-thirds of all its members, shall become a law. Under the present set-up, the house where the bill originated can proceed to reconsider the vetoed bill. After such reconsideration, if two-thirds 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 it is approved by two-thirds 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. Every bill passed by Congress shall be acted upon by the President within 30 days from receipt thereof. Otherwise, it shall become a law as if he had signed it. In other words, there can be no presidential inaction or pocket veto under our Constitution.