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General Considerations a. Definitions of the terms Interpretation and Construction Construction is the art or process of discovering and expounding the meaning and intention of the authors of the law, where that intention is rendered doubtful by reason of the ambiguity in its language or of the fact that the given case is not explicitly provided for in the law. Construction is the drawing of warranted conclusions respecting subjects that lie beyond the direct expression of the text, conclusions which are in the spirit, though not within the letter of the text. Construction and interpretation distinguished. Some authorities distinguish construction and interpretation. It has been said that interpretation is the art of finding the true meaning and sense of any form of words, while construction is the process of drawing warranted conclusions not always included in direct expressions, or determining the application of words to facts in litigation. However, while there appears to be a technical distinction between the two terms, they are so alike in practical results and are so used interchangeably as to have become almost synonymous. In practice or common usage, interpretation and construction are understood as having the same signification. b. Distinctions between interpretation and construction. Construction and interpretation have the same purpose and that is to ascertain and give effect to the legislative intent. A distinction, however, has been drawn between construction and interpretation. One who interprets make use of intrinsic aids or those found in the statute itself, while one who constructs makes use of extrinsic aids or those found outside of the written language of law.

c. Basic rules to remember, when to apply the law; when to interpret the law and when to construe the law Apply the Law When the law speaks in clear and categorical language Interpret the Law When there is ambiguity in the language of the statute, ascertain legislative intent by making use of intrinsic aids, or those found in the law itself. Construct the Law When the intent of the legislature cannot be ascertained by merely making use of intrinsic aids, the court should resort to extrinsic aids, or those found outside the language of the law. d. Authority/duty to construe or interpret the law. Construction is a judicial function. The duty and power to interpret or construe a statue 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 law. It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. While the legislative and the executive departments, by enacting and enforcing law, respectively, may construe or interpret the law, it is the court that has the final word as to what the law means. The Supreme Court construes the applicable law in controversies which are ripe for judicial resolution. It refrains from doing so where the case has become moot and academic when its purpose has become stale or where no practical relief can be granted or which can have no practical effect. However, notwithstanding its mootness, the Court may nonetheless resolve the case and construe the applicable law if it is capable of repetition, yet evading review, especially where public interest requires its resolution or where rendering a decision on the merits would be of practical value. The court does not, however, interpret the law in a vacuum. It construes or applies the law as it decides concrete and controverted cases based on the facts and the law involved. It does not give legal opinion on hypothetical cases or in vases which have become, as a rule, moot and academic. It has been held that laws are interpreted always in the context of the peculiar factual situation of each case. Each case has its own flesh and blood and cannot be decided simply on the bases of isolated clinical classroom principles, the circumstances of time, place, event, person, and particularly attendant circumstances and actions before, during and after the operative fact should all be taken in their totality so that justice can be rationally and fairly dispensed.


Judicial Interpretation and Construction of Statutes a. Effect on the legal system *Civil Code, Article 8. Judicial applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system of the Philippines. b. Impact of the legislature. *Legislature cannot overrule judicial construction. The legislature has no power to overrule the interpretation or construction of a statute or the Constitution by the Supreme Court, for interpretation is a judicial assigned to the latter by the fundamental law. 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. c. Change or overruling of prior decisions by the Supreme Court. *When judicial interpretation may be set aside.

The interpretation of a statute or a constitutional provision by the court is not so sacrosanct as to be beyond modification or nullification. The Supreme Court itself may, in an appropriate case, change or overrule its previous construction. By amending the Constitution, the framers of the fundamental law may modify or even nullify a judicial interpretation of a particular provision thereof. The rule that the Supreme Court has the final word in the interpretation or construction of a statute merely means that the legislature cannot, by law or resolution, modify or annul the judicial construction without modifying or repealing the very statute which has been the subject of construction. It can, and it has done so, by amending or repealing the statute, the consequence of which is that the previous judicial construction of the statute is modified or set aside accordingly. d. Condition sine qua non before construction or interpretation of statue. A condition sine qua non, before the court may construe or interpret a statute, is that there be doubt or ambiguity in its language. The province of construction lies wholly within the domain of ambiguity. For where there is no ambiguity in the words of a statute, there is no room for construction. Only statutes with an ambiguous or doubtful meaning may be the subject of statutory construction. Ambiguity means a condition of admitting two or more meanings, of being understood in more than one way, or of referring to two or more things at the same time. A statute is ambiguous if it is susceptible of more than one interpretation. In such a case, the court should construe the statute and give it a meaning that it is accord with its intent. Thus, the Court in a case explained that Only when the law is ambiguous or doubtful of meaning may the court interpret or construe its intent. Ambiguity is a condition of admitting two or more meaning, of being understood in more than one way, or of referring to two or more things at the same time. A statute is ambiguous if it is admissible of two or more possible meanings, in which case, the Court is called upon to exercise one of its judicial functions, which is to interpret the law according to its true intent.


Limitations on the Judicial Power to construe or interpret statutes. 1. Enlargement, restriction, revision or rewriting of statute. Courts may not enlarge nor restrict statutes. The vital difference between initiating policy, often involving a decided break with the past, and merely carrying out a formulated policy, indicates the relatively narrow limits within which choice is rarely open to courts and the extent to which interpreting the law is inescapably making law. This restricts judicial freedom in the construction of a statute. While statutory construction involves choice, the court should resist the temptation to

roam at will and rely on its predilections as to what policy should prevail. Interpolation must be eschewed and evisceration avoided. Common sense and good faith are the leading stars that should guide judicial construction. The search must be for, and the end result ne, reasonable interpretation. Courts may not, in the guise of interpretation, enlarge the scope of a statute and include therein situations not provided nor intended by the lawmakers. An omission at the time enactment, whether careless or calculated, cannot be judicially supplied however later wisdom may recommend the conclusion. Courts are not authorized to insert into the law what they think should be in it or to supply what they think the legislature would have supplied if its attention had been called to the omission. They should not, by construction, revise even the most arbitrary and unfair action of the legislature, nor rewrite the law to conform with what they think should be the law. Nor may they interpret into the law a requirement which the law does not prescribe. Where a statute contains no limitations in its operation or scope, courts should not engraft any. And where a provision of law expressly limits its application to certain transactions, it cannot be extended to other transactions by interpretation. To do any of such things would be to do violence to the language of the law and to invade the legislative sphere. Neither should courts statutes which are perfectly vague. As a rule, a statute may be vague when it lacks comprehensible standard that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application. It is repugnant to the Constitution because it violate due process for failure to accord persons fair notice of the conduct to avoid and leave law enforcers unbridled discretion in carrying out its provisions. But the act must be utterly vague on its face, that is to say, it cannot be clarified by either a saving clause or by construction. A perfectly vague act should be distinguished from a legislation which is couched in imprecise language or from one which is ambiguous, as the latter types pf legislation are subject to proper construction. 2. *Statutes which are perfectly vague. 3. Questions of wisdom, justice, or expediency Courts not to be influenced by questions of wisdom. 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 law. This division of responsibility, as mandated by the Constitution, precludes one department from encroaching upon the power of the other. Accordingly, since the legislature, by the very nature of its function, is primarily the judge of the necessity, adequacy, wisdom, reasonableness and expediency of any law, courts may not take any of these matters into account in construing or interpreting the law.

Courts do not pass upon questions of wisdom, justice, or expediency of legislation, for it is not within their province to supervise legislation and keep it within the bounds of propriety and common sense. That is primarily and exclusively a legislative concern. Hence, as long as laws do not violate the Constitution, the courts merely interpret and apply them regardless of whether or not they are wise or salutary. While judges may regard a certain law as harsh, unwise or morally wrong, and may recommend to the authority or department concerned its amendment, modification or repeal, still, as long as said law is in force, they must apply it and give it effect as decreed by the law-making body. 4. Conflicting theories or debatable questions. *Courts do not sit to resolve the merit of conflicting theories for debatable questions are for the legislature to decide. If courts think that a particular statute is unwise or harsh, a becoming sense of decency and a recognition of their own limited sphere forbid them from amending or rewriting the law, in the guise of interpretation, to suit their own predilections or prejudices. Any shortcoming of a statute is for the legislature alone to correct by appropriate enactment. As well emphasized in a case: In making choices, Congress has consulted its own wisdom, which this Court has no authority to review, much less reverse. Well has it been said that courts do not sit to resolve the merits of conflicting theories. That is the prerogative of the political departments. It is settled that questions regarding the wisdom, morality, or practicability of statutes are not addressed to the judiciary but may resolve only by the legislative and executive departments, to which the function belongs in our scheme of government. That function is exclusive. Whichever way these branches decide, they are answerable only to their own conscience and the constituents who will ultimately judge their acts, and not to the courts of justice.


Purpose of Construction or Interpretation A. General Considerations 1. The sole object of interpretation or construction The cardinal rule in the interpretation of all laws is to ascertain, and give effect to, the intent of the law. Hence, all rules of construction or interpretation have for their sole object the ascertainment of the true intent of the legislature. The object of all judicial interpretation of a statute is to determine legislative intent, what intention is conveyed, either expressly or impliedly, by the language used, so far as it is necessary for ascertaining whether the particular case or state of facts presented to the court coms within it. The office of statutory interpretation, says the court in a case, is to determine legislative intent. In the words of a well-known authority, the true object of all interpretation is to ascertain the meaning and will of the law-making body, to the end that it may be enforced. In varying language, the purpose of all rules or maxims in interpretation is to discover the true intention of the law. They are only valuable when they subserve this purpose.

2. The legislative intent or essence of the law Legislative intent, generally. Legislative intent is the vital part, the essence of the law. The intent of the legislature is the law, and the key to, and the controlling factor in, its construction or interpretation. Intent is the spirit which gives life to legislative enactment. It must be enforced when ascertained, although it may not be consistent with the strict letter of the statute. Courts will not follow the letter of the statute when it leads away from the true intent of the legislature and to conclusions inconsistent with the general purpose of the act. Hence, where a statute is susceptible of more than one construction, that construction should be adopted which will most tend to give effect to the manifest intent of the legislature, 3. The ascertainment of legislative intent. Legislative purpose. The legislative purpose is the reason why a particular statute was enacted by the legislature. What did legislature intend to achieve or accomplish by enacting a statute? What is its object? Is it to prevent a mischief? Is it to create new rights? Is it to eliminate defects in existing laws? Is it to implement specific provisions or mandates of Constitution? The answer to these and similar instrument of government which, for purposes of interpretation, means that laws have ends to be achieved; and statutes should be so construed so as not to defeat but to carry out such ends and purposes. 4. The subjects of construction Authorities hold that the most common subjects of construction and interpretation ate the constitution and statutes which include ordinance. But we may also add resolutions, executive orders and department circulars. B. The statutes 1. Statutes, defined. A statute is an act of the legislature as an organized body, expressed in the form, and passed according to the procedure, required to constitutes it as part of the law of the land. 2. Parts of statute a) Title the title of a statute is the heading on the preliminary part, furnishing the name by which the act is individually known. b) Preamble that part of a statute explaining the reasons for its enactment and the objects sought to be accomplished. c) Enacting Clause that part of the statute which declares its enactment and serves to identify it as an act of legislation proceeding from the proper legislative authority. d) Body the main and operative part of the statute containing its substantive and even procedural provisions. e) Repealing clause that part of the statute which announces the prior statutes or specifies provisions which have been abrogated by reason of the enactment of the new law.


Saving clause a restriction in a repelling act, which is intended to save rights, pending proceedings, penalties, etc.., from the annihilation which would result from an unrestricted repeal. g) Effectivity Clause that part of the statute which announces the effective date of the law.

C. Parts of the statute, discussed C.1. Title. *1. One-subject requirement of the Constitution. 2. Purpose of the limitations. C.2. Preamble A preamble is a prefatory statement or explanation or a finding of facts, reciting the purpose, reason, or occasion for making the law to which it is prefixed. It is usually found after the enacting clause and before the body of the law. The reason for this is that the statement embodying the purpose, reason, or occasion for the enactment of the law is contained in its explanatory note. However, Presidential decrees and executive orders generally have preambles apparently because, unlike statutes enacted by the legislature in which the members thereof expound on the purpose of the bill in its explanatory note or in the course of deliberations, no better place than in the preamble can the reason and purposed of the decree be stated. Preambles thus play ab important role in the construction of Presidential Decrees. C.3. Enacting clause *The enacting clause is that part of a statute written immediately after the title thereof which states the authority by which the act is enacted. Enacting clause it is that part of the statute that indicated the authority that promulgated the enactment. The enacting clause is not essential to the validity of the law but this clause clothes the statute with a certain dignity because the specific authority that promulgated the law is therein stated. C.4. Repealing clause Repealing clause that part of the statute that announces the legislative intent to terminate or revoke another statute or statutes. Repealing clause - that part of the statute which announces the prior statutes or specifies provisions which have been abrogated by reason of the enactment of the new law. C.5. Body or purview of statute The purview or body of a statute is that part which tells what the law is all about. The body of a statute should embrace only one subject matter. The constitutional requirement that a bill should have only one subject matter which should be expressed in its title is complied where the provisions thereof, no matter how diverse they may be, are allied and germane to the subject and purpose of the bill or, negatively stated,

where the provisions are not inconsistent with, but in furtherance of, the single subject matter. C.6. Separability clause. A separability clause is that part of a statute which states that if any provision of the act is declared invalid, the remainder shall not be affected thereby. It is legislative expression of intent that the nullity of one provision shall not invalidate the other provisions of the act. Such a clause is not, however, controlling and the courts may, in spite of it, invalidate the whole statute where what is left, after the void part, is not complete and workable. The presumption is that the legislature intended a statute to be effective as a whole and would not have passed it had it foreseen that some part of it is invalid. The effect of a separability clause is to create in the place of such presumption the opposite one of separability. C.7.Effectivity clause. The effectivity clause is the provision when the law takes effect. Usually, the provision as to the effectivity of the law states that it shall take effect 15 days from publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

D. Kinds of Statutes,discussed D.1. General, special and local laws. D.2. Public and private laws. D.3. Prospective and retrospective laws. D.4. Remedial statutes D.5. Curative statutes D.6. Penal statutes D.7. Mandatory

Kinds of Statutes General Law is one that affects the community at large. A law that relates to a subject of a general nature, or that affects all people of the state or all of a particular class. Special Law a law is special when it is different from others of the same general kind or designed for a particular purpose, or limited in range or confined to a prescribed field of action on operation. Local Law a law which relates or operates over a particular locality instead of over the whole territory of the state. Public Law a general classification of law, consisting generally of constitutional, administrative, criminal, and international law, concerned with the organization of the state, the relations between the state and the people who compose it, the responsibilities of public officers to the state, to each other, and to private persons, and the relations of states to one another. Public law may be general, local or special law. Private Law those portions of the law which defines, regulates, enforces and administers relationship among individual, associations and corporations.

Remedial Statute a statute providing means or method whereby causes of action may be effectuated, wrongs redressed and relief obtained. Curative Statute a form of retrospective legislation which reaches back into the past to operate upon past events, acts or transactions in order to correct errors and irregularities and to render valid and effective many attempted acts which would otherwise be ineffective for the purpose intended. Penal Statute a statute that defines criminal offenses and specify corresponding fines and punishments. Prospective Law a law applicable only to cases which shall arise after its enactment. Retrospective Law a law which looks backward or contemplates the past; one which is made to affect acts or facts occurring, or rights occurring, before it came into force. Affirmative statute a statute couched in affirmative or mandatory terms. One which directs the doing of an act, or declares what shall be done in contrast to a negative statute which is one that prohibits a thing from being done, or declares what shall not be done. Mandatory statute generic term describing statutes which require and not merely permit a course of action. They are characterized by such directives as shall and not may. A mandatory provisions in a statute is one the omission of which renders the related proceedings void, while a directory provisions is one the observance of which is not necessary to the validity of the proceedings. It is also said that when the provision of a statute is the essence of the thing required to be done, it is mandatory; otherwise, when it relates to form and manner, and when an act is incidental or acquired after jurisdiction, it is merely directory.