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Introduction to Philippine Law

I. Concept and Role of Law in Society


What is law?

Law is a rule of conduct, just and obligatory, formulated by legitimate power or


competent authority, and of common observance and benefit.
The mass of obligatory rules established for the purpose of governing the
relations of persons in society.
Rules established for governing relations in society
Tells us how to behave and conduct ourselves
Formulated by a legitimate power and competent authority
A result of the experience of man

Our system of democracy is committed irrevocably to a government of laws, and not of men. Laws
give witness to societys moral values and are the depositories of what the sovereign as a whole
has agreed to uphold as the minimum standards of conduct that will govern relationships and
transactions within that society. In a representative democracy, the Filipino people, through their
elected representatives, deliberate, distill and make moral judgments, which are crystallized into
written laws that are made public, accessible and binding to all. Perhaps no characteristic of an
organized and cohesive society is more fundamental than its erection and enforcement of a system
of rules defining the various rights and duties of its members, enabling them to govern their affairs
and definitively settle their differences in an orderly, predictable manner.
Obedience to the rule of law forms the bedrock of our system of justice. Once the sovereign
peoples soft moral choices are hardened through the constitutionally mandated legislative
process, statutory laws perform an equalizing function of imposing a knowable standard of conduct
or behavior to which all members of society must conform to a social contract which everyone
regardless of class, sex or religion is bound.

G.R. No. 176951 (LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES, ET AL. v.


COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ET AL.)

II. Characteristics of law


A. Obligatory

A command, not a suggestion or advice that may be mandatory, prohibitory or


permissive
Definite, although authority to provide details of implementation may be granted
to an agency
A violation of the law results in some form of penalty or legal consequence or
sanction

DURA LEX, SED LEX


The law may be harsh, but that is the law.
B. Enacted by legislative authority

exercised by
Pres. Marcos
through PDs.
LOIs, AOs, and
GOs

1935

1916
Philippine
Constitution
as amended
in 1976 Unicameral
Batasang
Pambansa
BP Blg XXX

1987

Proclamation
1081
(Martial
Law) Legislative
Authority

Bicameral
Senate and
House of
Representati
ves

1973

1907
Philippine
Constitution
bicameral
Senate and
House of
Representativ
es
RA XXX

Bicameral
Philippine
Commissio
n (upper,
appointed)
and
Philippine
Assembly
(lower,
elected)

1972

1946

1898

Unicameral
Malolos
Congress

Commonwe
alth
Constitutio
n:
Unicameral
National
Assembly
CA No. XXX

New (and
current)
Philippine
Constitution
RA XXX (Year)

C. Prospective in Application

Laws shall have no retroactive effect, unless the contrary is provided


This means that laws that have been effective on i.e. January 1, 2000
have no effect on cases filed on or before December 31, 1999.

NULLUM CRIMEN NULLA POENA SINE LEGE


There is no crime if there is no law punishing it.

D. Of General Observance

For the benefit of, and obligatory upon, all or all members of a particular class
with valid classification.

IGNORANTIA LEGIS NON EXCUSAT


Ignorance of the law excuses no one.
E. Effective until Amended or Repealed

III.

Laws are repealed only by subsequent ones, and their violation or nonobservance shall not be excused by disuse, or custom, or practice to the
contrary.

Classification of Laws

A. Substantive or Procedural

Substantive Law
o One which creates, defines, or regulates rights concerning life, liberty or
property; or one that gives rise to a cause of action
o i.e. Civil Code

Procedural Law
o Provides for the method and steps to be followed by which substantive
rights are enforced in courts of justice
o i.e. Rules of Court

B. Civil or Criminal

Civil Law
o Regulates the relationship between individuals; involves private interests
i.e. Family law (support case); Contracts (lease); Property (sales)
Officially commenced by a COMPLAINT

IV.

Civil procedure applies


Person A vs. Person B; Petitioner vs. Respondent

Criminal Law
o Defines crimes and provides for their punishment; offense against society
i.e. Crimes against public interest (forgeries); Crimes against
property (robbery); Crimes against persons (rape)
Criminal Procedure applies
People of the Philippines vs. Accused

Sources/Hierarchy of Laws
Constitution
Congressional Legislation
or Statute
Administrative Regulations
Municipal Ordinances
Judicial Decisions

A. Constitution

Fundamental law or basis of government


Established by the people in their original sovereign capacity to promote their
happiness, and permanently secure their rights, property, independence and
common welfare

B. Congressional Legislation or Statute

Laws enacted by Congress, but cannot contravene the Constitution


o May be declared invalid, wholly or partially, for being unconstitutional
Constitutional principles mostly invoked in petitions questioning the
constitutionality of congressional legislation
o Freedom of speech

o
o
o

Equal protection of the laws


Right to life
Independence of the three branches of government

C. Administrative Regulations

Rules and regulations promulgated by government agencies by authority of the


law, for the purpose of implementing the law
Have the force and effect of law, but cannot contravene the law

D. Municipal Ordinances

Passed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Panlunsod, Bayan, pursuant to


the Local Government Code
Cannot contravene Congressional Legislation

E. Judicial Decisions

Jurisprudence
o Judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution
shall form a part of the legal system of the Philippines
o Supreme Court is the court of last resort, and is always right

V. Legal Principles
1. Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal
capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living
abroad.
2. Penal laws and those of public security and safety shall be obligatory upon all who
live or sojourn in Philippine territory, subject to the principles of international law and
treaty stipulations
* exception to Philippine Territory: Embassies, EPZs (Export Processing Zone)
i.e. Traffic Rules & Regulations
3. Any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that us contrary
to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage.
* Moral damages is, by itself, a Cause of Action
4. Rights may be waived, unless the waiver is contrary to law, public order, public policy,
morals or good customs, or prejudicial to a third person with a right recognized by law.

* the waiver of future rights is not allowed, only rights at present and in the past
5. No person shall be imprisoned for non-payment of debt or poll tax

Estafa is misrepresentation; taking unlawfully with authority to take


Theft is taking anothers property
Robbery is taking anothers property using force or threat of force

6. No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law
* Due Process is a fundamental right protected by the constitution
7. When the laws speak of years, months, days or nights, it shall be understood that
years are of three hundred sixty-five days each; months of thirty days; days of
twenty-four hours; and nights from sunsets to sunrise.
1 year
1 month
1 day
1 night

365 days, 12 months


30 days
24 hours
sunset to sunrise

If months are designated by their name, they shall be computed by the number of days
which they respectively have. (i.e. February = 28 days)
In computing a period, the first days shall be excluded and the last day included.
i.e.
Payment due 60 days from January 1.
Counting starts January 2.
Payment is due March 1.

VI.

Legal Terms

1. Cause of Action
The right to bring suit
o The legal right of the plaintiff
o Correlative obligation of defendant
o Act or omission of the defendant in violation of said legal right
o Remedy under the law
2. MeTC / MTC / MTCC / MCTC First Level Courts
MeTC Metropolitan Trial Court
MTC Municipal Trial Court
MTCC Municipal Trial Court in Cities
MCTC Municipal Circuit Trial Court
3. RTC / CA / SC
RTC Regional Trial Court
CA Court of Appeals

SC Supreme Court

4. Courts with Special Jurisdiction


Sandiganbayan
SEC. 5. The Batasang Pambansa shall create a special court, to be
known as Sandiganbayan, which shall have jurisdiction over criminal and
civil cases involving graft and corrupt practices and such other offenses
committed by public officers and employees, including those in
government-owned or controlled corporations, in relation to their office as
may be determined by law.
(Art. XIII), 1973 Constitution.
5. Jurisdiction
Power conferred by law to act on a case;
o May refer to territory over which the authority extends or may be based
on a subject matter, amount involved or the crime/penalty involved
6. Original Jurisdiction, Original and Exclusive Jurisdiction, Original and Concurrent
Jurisdiction
Original Jurisdiction refers to the first time a case is filed in court or administrative
agency
Original and Exclusive jurisdiction means that the case cannot be filed in any
other court or administrative agency
Original and Concurrent Jurisdiction means that a party has a choice where to
file a case
i.e. NLRC, MTC, etc.
o NLRC has original and exclusive jurisdiction over labor disputes
o MTC has original and exclusive jurisdiction over ejectment cases
o RTC has original and exclusive jurisdiction over all cases for sums of
money involving more than 100k; for annulment of marriage
o RTC, CA and SC have original and concurrent jurisdiction over petitions
for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus
petitions; enforceable within their territorial jurisdictions.
7. Appellate Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction to review, reverse, reaffirm or modify decisions of lower courts or
administrative bodies
o i.e. RTC has appellate jurisdiction over all cased decided by the MTC; CA
has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over cases decided by the RTC.

8. Venue
Territory or place where case is filed

o
o

Civil cases where the plaintiff or defendant resides, at the option orf the
plaintiff; may be subject to agreement; may be waived
Criminal cases where any of the elements of a crime was committed;
cannot be waived

9. Jurisprudence
Case law; The body of decisions rendered by the Supreme Court; considered
part of the law of the land
10. Pleading
Written allegations of a party of his claims and defenses
11. Complaint in Civil Procedure
Initiatory pleading; states the cause of action; determines jurisdiction
12. Complaint in Criminal Procedure
Complaint filed by the offended party before a prosecutor or fiscal; may be a
complaint-affidavit or may take the form of a statement given to the police
13. Information
An accusation in writing charging a person with an offense, filed by a prosecutor
in court
14. Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus
Assails the jurisdiction of the court or office, not just the correctness of an action
or decision
o Certiorari a writ or order by which a higher court reviews the decision
of a lower court
o Prohibition An order from a superior court to a lower court or tribunal
directing the judge and the parties to cease the litigation because the
lower court does not have proper jurisdiction to hear or determine the
matters before it
o Mandamus An order from a court to an inferior government official
ordering the government official to properly fulfill their official duties or
correct an abuse of discretion
15. Motion
A formal proposal or application for an order not included in a judgment
16. Testimonial and Documentary Evidence
That which directly or indirectly proves a question of fact, either by oral or written
evidence
17. Judicial / Extrajudicial / Quasi-Judicial
Judicial before a court
Extrajudicial outside of court
Quasi-judicial before an administration agency exercising jurisdiction to
resolve cases

18. void ab initio / annullable


Void no legal effect whatsoever
Annullable acts that can be voided or ratified at the option of the prejudiced
party
19. Prescription
Period passage of time that brings about the creation or extinguishment of rights
20. SCRA / Phils
SCRA Supreme Court Reports Annotated
Phils Philippine Reports

The Philippine Constitution and System of Government