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Dela Pena, Jefferson A.

LLB -1
Library work on Classification of Legal Sources

Classification by Authority
A. Primary Sources/Authority
- The only authority that is binding with the courts
- These are the two sources of law; the Constitution, statutes passed
by the congress, Decisions promulgated by the Supreme Court,
lower courts and other quasi-judicial agencies, Executive Issuances,
treaties, local ordinances and rules and regulations of government
- The actual law or those laws created by each of the three branches
of government: Legislative, Executive and Judiciary.
Legislative; Act, Commonwealth Act, Batas Pambansa, and
Republic Act.
o Presidential decrees or laws issued by Pres. Marcos during
Martial law and Executive orders by Pres. Aquino can be
classified as legislative acts, there being no legislature
during these two periods.
Executive; Presidential issuances (Presidential Decrees,
Executive Orders, Memorandum Circular, and Administrative
orders, Proclamations, etc.), rules and regulations through its
various departments, bureaus and agencies.
Judiciary; Promulgates judicial doctrines embodied in decisions.
Further subdivided into:
Mandatory primary authority
- Law created by the jurisdiction in which the law operates ;
Persuasive mandatory authority
- Law created by other jurisdictions but which have persuasive
value to our courts, e.g., Spanish and American laws and
- Used specially when there are no Philippine authorities available
- When the Philippine statute or jurisprudence under
interpretation is based on either the Spanish or American law;
Primary persuasive authorities are important especially when there are no
Philippine laws and jurisprudence on the subject.
B. Secondary authority or sources
- Commentaries or books, treaties, writings, journal articles that
explain, discuss or comment on primary authorities.
- Opinions of the Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange
Commission or circulars of the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas.


Not binding in the court but have persuasive effect

With regards to commentaries or books, treatise, writings, journal
articles, the reputation or expertise of the author is a consideration.
(Chief Justice Ramon C. Aquino and Justice Carolina Grino Aquino on
RPC, Senator Arturo M. Tolentino on Civil Law, Chief Justice Enrique
M. Fernando and Fr. Joaquin Bernas on Constitutional Law, etc. )

Classification by Source (who publish the source of law)

It is important for legal research experts to know the source where the
materials were taken from
One has to determine whether they came from primary (official)
sources or secondary (unofficial sources or commercial sources)
A. Primary sources
Those published by the issuing agency itself or the official repository,
the Official Gazette
a) Official Gazette online
Launched by the office of the president on July 2010
Maintained and managed by the Presidential
Communications Development and Strategic Management
b) Supreme Court E-Library
Complete and updated as soon as the decisions have
been certified by the Chief Justice
c) Republic Acts and other legislative enactments or statues
Primary source is the Official Gazette
Published by the National Printing Office
Laws and Resolutions published by Congress
d) Supreme Court decisions
Primary sources are the Philippine Reports
Individually mimeographed Advance Supreme Court
The Official Gazette
Publication of Supreme Court decisions in the Official
Gazette is selective
e) Philippine Reports
Ceased in 1960s. It was later revived in 1983 by the
request of Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando
Supreme Court took over its printing in 1983, the delay in
printing covered more than Twenty (20) years.
last volume printed was Volume 126 (June 1967)
it is up-to-date and almost complete from 1901
B. Secondary Sources
Unofficial sources
Generally referred to as those commercially published
Those that are not published by the government agencies or
a) Vital Legal Documents

Published by the Central Book Supply)

Contains a compilation of Presidential Decrees (1973)
Second edition contains Republic Acts.
Prof. Sulpicio Geuvera published three books which
contain the full text of legislative enactments or laws
o Public Laws Annotated (7 vols.); compilation of all
laws from 1901 to 1935
o Commonwealth Acts Annotated (3 vols.);
compilation of laws from 1935-1945
o The laws of the First Philippine Republic (The Law of
Malolos) 1898-1899
b) Supreme Court Decisions
Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA)
o Published by the Central Book Supply
o More updated and popular in the legal community
than the Philippine Reports
o Published because of the delay and the need of
Philippine legal profession for Supreme Court
Supreme Court Advance Decisions (SCAD)
o A compilation of Sumpreme Court decisions
published by REX Printing Co., Inc.
o Compilation of laws is available also using tablets
with the application Law Juan
The advent of the new information technology, electronic or digitized
sources is an important development for effective legal research as
Philippine legal information could not be easily accessed for the
following reasons:
a) No complete and updated printed legal information available;
b) No complete and updated manually published search tools for
statue and case law
Electronic sources started with CD-ROMS and now with online or
electronic libraries
Online access is either through open access or subscription basis
Used both for the government and the private sector
o Chan Roblems Law Firm Library
o Arellano Law Foundation Lawphil
o CD Asia online
Problems of the publication of compilations of statue law or the
existence of the full-text of Presidential Decrees were brought about to
the Supreme Court in the Tanada v. Tuvera, G.R. No. 63915. April 24,
1985 (229 Phil 422)


Classification by Character
Refers to the nature of the subject treated in books
Categorizes books as:


Statute Law books

Case Law books or Law Reports
A combination of both
Law Finders
Law finders refer to indices, citators, encyclopedias, legal
dictionaries, thesauri or digests
No up-to-date Law finders in the Philippines
o Federico Morenos Philippine Law Dictionary is the only
available Philippine law dictionary, published in 1988
o Jose Agaton Sibals Philpine Legal Thesaurus was
published in 1986
o Foreign law dictionarie like Blakcs Law Dictionary, Words
and Phrases are used as alternative