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STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION SITUS OF CONSTRUCTION AND

INTERPRETATION

CHAPTER I In our system of government:


PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS
Legislative power is vested in the Congress of
the Philippines the Senate and the House of
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION DEFINED the Representatives
Executive power is vested in the President of
Statutory Construction the art or process of the Republic of the Philippines (Art. VII, Sec.1,
discovering and expounding the meaning and Phil. Const.)
intention of the authors of the law with respect to Judicial power is vested in one Supreme Court
its application to a given case, where that intention and in such lower courts as may be established
is rendered doubtful, among others, by reason of by law. (Art VIII, Sec. 1, Phil. Const.)
the fact that the given case is not explicitly
provided for in the law. Legislative makes the law
Executive - executes the law
Justice Martin defines statutory construction as Judicial interprets the law
the art of seeking the intention of the legislature in
enacting a statute and applying it to a given state Simply stated, the situs of construction and
of facts. interpretation of written laws belong to the judicial
department.
A judicial function is required when a statute is
invoked and different interpretations are in It is the duty of the Courts of Justice to settle
contention. actual controversies involving rights which are
legally demandable and enforceable, and to
Difference between judicial legislation and determine whether or not there has been a grave
statutory construction: abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
Where legislature attempts to do several things jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
one which is invalid, it may be discarded if the instrumentality of the government.
remainder of the act is workable and in no way
depends upon the invalid portion, but if that Supreme Court is the one and only Constitutional
portion is an integral part of the act, and its Court and all other lower courts are statutory
excision changes the manifest intent of the act by courts and such lower courts have the power to
broadening its scope to include subject matter or construe and interpret written laws.
territory which was not included therein as
enacted, such excision is judicial legislation and
not statutory construction. DUTY OF THE COURTS TO CONSTRUE AND
INTERPRET THE LAW; REQUISITES

CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION, 1. There must be an actual case or controversy,


DISTINGUISHED 2. There is ambiguity in the law involved in the
controversy.
Construction is the drawing of conclusions with
respect to subjects that are beyond the direct Ambiguity exists if reasonable persons can find
expression of the text, while interpretation is the different meanings in a statute, document, etc.
process of discovering the true meaning of the
language used. A statute is ambiguous if it is admissible of two or
more possible meanings.
Interpretation is limited to exploring the written
text. Construction on the other hand is the If the law is clear and unequivocal, the Court has
drawing of conclusions, respecting subjects that lie no other alternative but to apply the law and not to
beyond the direct expressions of the text. interpret.

Construction and interpretation of law come only


after it has been demonstrated that application is
impossible or inadequate without them.

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DIFFERENT KINDS OF CONSTRUCTION AND
INTERPRETATION CHAPTER II
STATUTES
Hermeneutics the science or art of construction
and interpretation.

LEGISLATIVE PROCEDURES
Legal hermeneutics is the systematic body of
rules which are recognized as applicable to the The power to make laws is lodged in the legislative
construction and interpretation of legal writings. department of the government.

Dr. Lieber in his work on Hermeneutics gives the A statute starts with a bill.
following classification of the different kinds of
interpretation: Bill is the draft of a proposed law from the time
of its introduction in a legislative body through all
1. Close interpretation adopted if just reasons the various stages in both houses. It is enacted
connected with the character and formation of into law by a vote of the legislative body. An Act
the text induce as to take the words in the is the appropriate term for it after it has been acted
narrowest meaning. This is generally known on and passed by the legislature. It then becomes
as literal interpretation. a statute, the written will of the legislature
2. Extensive interpretation also called as liberal solemnly expressed according to the form
interpretation, it adopts a more comprehensive necessary to constitute it as the law of the state.
signification of the words.
3. Extravagant interpretation substitutes a Statute Law is a term often used interchangeably
meaning evidently beyond the true one. It is with the word statute. Statute Law, however, is
therefore not genuine interpretation. broader in meaning since it includes not only
4. Free or unrestricted interpretation proceeds statute but also the judicial interpretation and
simply on he general principles of application of the enactment.
interpretation in good faith, not bound by any
specific or superior principle.
5. Limited or restricted interpretation - influenced HOW DOES A BILL BECOMES A LAW STEPS
by other principles than the strictly
hermeneutic ones. A bill before it becomes a law must pass the strict
6. Predestined interpretation takes place when constitutional requirements explicit both in the
the interpreter, laboring under a strong bias of 1973 Constitution and the 1987 Constitution.
mind, makes the text subservient to his
preconceived views and desires. Passage of a bill in a parliamentary system
(unicameral assembly):
a. A member of the National Assembly may
SUBJECTS OF CONSTRUCTION AND introduce the proposed bill to the Secretary of
INTERPRETATION the National Assembly who will calendar the
same for the first reading.
Most common subjects of construction and b. In the first reading, the bill is read by its
interpretation are the constitution and statutes number and title only.
which include ordinances. But we may also add c. After the first reading, the bill is referred by the
resolutions, executive orders and department Speaker to the appropriate committee for
circulars. study. At this stage, the appropriate committee
will conduct public hearings. Then after the
public hearings, the committee shall decide
whether or not to report the bill favorably or
whether a substitute bill should be considered.
Should there be an unfavorable report of the
committee, then the proposed bill is dead.
d. Upon favorable action by the 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.

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f. Immediately after the second reading, the bill is final form have been distributed to each
set for open debates where members of the member three days before its passage.
assembly may propose amendments and 3. Every bill passed by the Congress shall, before
insertions to the proposed bill. it becomes a law, be presented to the
g. After the approval of the bill in its second President. The executive approval and veto
reading and at least three (3) calendar days power of the President is the third important
before its final passage, the bill is printed in its constitutional requirement in the mechanical
final form and copies thereof distributed to passage of a bill.
each of the members.
h. The bill is then calendared for the third and
final reading. At this stage, no amendment PARTS OF STATUTE
shall be allowed. Only the title of the bill is
read and the National Assembly will then vote a. Title the heading on the preliminary part,
on the bill. Under the present 1987b furnishing the name by which the act is
Constitution, after the third and final reading individually known. It is usually prefixed to
at one House where the bill originated, it will go the statute in the brief summary of its
to the other House where it will undergo the contents.
same process. b. Preamble part of statute explaining the
i. After the bill has been passed, it will be reasons for its enactment and the objects
submitted to the Prime Minister (President) for sought to be accomplished. Usually, it starts
approval. If he disapproves, he shall veto it with whereas.
and return the same with his objections to the c. Enacting clause part of statute which
National Assembly (House where it originated), declares its enactment and serves to identify it
and if approved by two-thirds of all its as an act of legislation proceeding from the
members, shall become a law. Under the proper legislative authority. Be enacted is the
present set-up, if the originating house will usual formula used to start this clause.
agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together d. Body the main and operative part of the
with the objections to the other house by which statute containing its substantive and even
it shall be likewise be considered and must be procedural provisions. Provisos and exceptions
approved by two-thirds of the votes. Every bill may also be found.
passed by Congress shall be acted upon by the e. Repealing Clause - announces the prior
President within thirty (30) days from receipt statutes or specific provisions which have been
thereof. Otherwise, it shall become a law. abrogated by reason of the enactment of the
new law.
f. Saving Clause restriction in a repealing act,
CONSTITUTIONAL TEST IN THE PASSAGE OF A which is intended to save rights, pending
BILL proceedings, penalties, etc. from the
annihilation which would result from an
Three (3) very important constitutional unrestricted repeal.
requirements in the enactment of statute: g. Separability Clause provides that in the
event that one or more provisions or
1. Every bill passed by Congress shall embrace unconstitutional, the remaining provisions
only one subject which shall be expressed in shall still be in force.
the title thereof. The purposes of this h. Effectivity Clause announces the effective
constitutional requirements are: date of the law.
To prevent hodge-podge or log-rolling
legislation;
To prevent surprise or fraud upon the KINDS OF STATUTES
legislature; and
To fairly apprise the people, through such 1. General Law affects the community at large.
publications of legislative proceedings as is That which affects all people of the state or all
usually made, of the subjects of legislation of a particular class.
that are being considered, in order that
they may have opportunity of being heard 2. Special Law designed for a particular
thereon by petition or otherwise, if they purpose, or limited in range or confined to a
shall so desire. prescribed field of action on operation.
2. No bill passed by either House shall become
law unless it has passed three readings on
separate days, and printed copies thereof in its
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3. Local Law relates or operates over a common intelligence must necessarily guess at its
particular locality instead of over the whole meaning and differ as to its application.
territory of the state. Statute is repugnant to the Constitution in two (2)
respects:
4. Public Law a general classification of law, 1. It violates due process for failure to accord
consisting generally of constitutional, persons fair notice of conduct to avoid; and
administrative, criminal, and international law, 2. It leaves law enforcers unbridled discretions.
concerned with the organization of the state,
the relations between the state and the people The Supreme Court held that the vagueness
who compose it, the responsibilities of public doctrine merely requires a reasonable degree of
officers of the state, to each other, and to certainty for the statute to be upheld--- not
private persons, and the relations of state to absolute precision or mathematical exactitude.
one another. Public law may be general, local Flexibility, rather than meticulous specificity, is
or special law. permissible as long as the metes and bounds of the
statute are clearly delineated
5. Private Law defines, regulates, enforces and
administers relationships among individuals,
associations and corporations. REPEALS OF STATUTE MAY BE EXPRESSED
OR IMPLIED
6. Remedial Statute providing means or
method whereby causes of action may be Express repeal is the abrogation or annulling of
affectuated, wrongs redressed and relief a previously existing law by the enactment of a
obtained. subsequent statute which declares that the former
law shall be revoked and abrogated.
7. Curative Statute a form of retrospective
legislation which reaches back into the past to Implied repeal when a later statute contains
operate upon past events, acts or transactions provisions so contrary to irreconcilable with those
in order to correct errors and irregularities and of the earlier law that only one of the two statutes
to render valid and effective many attempted can stand in force.
acts which would otherwise be ineffective for
the purpose intended. The repeal of a penal law deprives the court of
jurisdiction to punish persons charged
8. Penal Statute defines criminal offenses with a violation of the old penal law
specify corresponding fines and punishments. prior to its repeal.

9. Prospective Law applicable only to cases Only a law can repeal a law.
which shall arise after its enactment.
The intention to repeal must be clear and manifest,
10. Retrospective Law looks backward or otherwise, at least, as a general rule, the later act
contemplates the past; one which is made to is to be construed as a continuation of, and not a
affect acts or facts occurring, or rights substitute for, the first act.
occurring, before it came into force.
Two (2) categories of repeal by implication:
11. Affirmative Statute directs the doing of an 1. Where provision in the two acts on the same
act, or declares what shall be done in contrast subject matter are in an irreconcilable conflict;
to a negative statute which is one that 2. If the later act covers the whole subject of the
prohibits the things from being done, or earlier one and is clearly intended as a
declares what shall not be done. substitute to be a complete and perfect
system in itself.
12. Mandatory Statutes generic term describing
statutes which require and not merely permit a
course of action. ORDINANCE

Ordinance an act passed by the local legislative


CONCEPT OF VAGUE STATUTES body in the exercise of its law-making authority.

Statues or act may be said to be vague when it


lacks comprehensible standards those men of

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A cardinal rule in statutory construction is that
TEST OF VALID ORDINANCE legislative intent must be ascertained from a
consideration of the statute as a whole and not
1. Must not contravene the Constitution or any merely of a particular provision. A word or phrase
statute; might easily convey a meaning which is different
2. Must not be unfair or oppressive; from the one actually intended.
3. Must not be partial or discriminatory;
4. Must not prohibit but may regulate trade; A statute should be construed as a whole because
5. Must be general and consistent with public it is not to be presumed that the legislature has
policy; and used any useless words, and because it is
6. Must not be unreasonable. dangerous practice to base the construction upon
only a part of it, since one portion may be qualified
by other portions.
REASON WHY AN ORDINANCE SHOULD NOT
CONTRAVENE A STATUTE
SPIRIT AND PURPOSE OF THE LAW
Local councils exercise only delegated legislative
powers conferred on them by Congress as the When the interpretation of a statute according to
national law making body. the exact and literal import of its words would lead
to absurd or mischievous consequences, or would
The delegate cannot be superior to the principal. thwart or contravene the manifest purpose of the
legislature in its enactment, it should be construed
according to its spirit and reason, disregarding or
ROLE OF FOREIGN JURISPRUDENCE modifying, so far as may be necessary, the strict
letter of the law.
Philippine laws must necessarily be construed in
accordance with the intention of its own law
makers and such intent may be deduced from the When the reason of the law ceases, the law
language of each law and the context of other local itself ceases.
legislation related thereof.
Doctrine of necessary implications. What is
implied in a statute is as much a part thereof
as that which is expressed.
CHAPTER III
BASIC GUIDELINES IN THE CONSTRUCTION
AND INTERPRETATION OF LAWS CASUS OMISSUS

When a statute makes specific provisions in regard


to several enumerated cases or objects, but omits
LEGISLATIVE INTENT to make any provision for a case or object which is
analogous to those enumerated, or which stands
The object of all interpretation and construction of upon the same reason, and is therefore within the
statutes is to ascertain the meaning and intention general scope of the statute, and it appears that
of the legislature, to the end that the same may be such case or object was omitted by inadvertence or
enforced. because it was overlooked or unforeseen, it is
called a casus omissus. Such omissions or
Legislative intent is determined principally from defects cannot be supplied by the courts.
the language of the statute.
VERBA LEGIS The rule of casus omissus pro omisso habendus
est can operate and apply only if and when the
If the language of the statute is plain and free from omission has been clearly established.
ambiguity, and express a single, definite, and
sensible meaning, that meaning is conclusively
presumed to be the meaning which the legislature STARE DECISIS
intended to convey.
It is the doctrine that, when court has once laid
down a principle, and apply it to all future cases,
STATUTES AS A WHOLE where facts are substantially the same, regardless
of whether the parties and properties are the same.
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Stare Decisis. Follow past precedents and do not
disturb what has been settled. Matters already
decided on the merits cannot be relitigated again
and again.
GENERAL TERMS FOLLOWING SPECIAL TERMS
Stare decisis et non quieta movere (follow past (EJUSDEM GENERIS)
precedents and do not disturb what has been
settled. It is a general rule of statutory construction that
where general words follow an enumeration of
persons or things, by words of a particular and
specific meaning, such general words are not to be
construed in their widest extent, but are to be held
CHAPTER IV as applying only to persons or things of the same
CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION OF general kind or class as those specifically
WORDS AND PHRASES mentioned. But this rule must be discarded where
the legislative intention is plain to the contrary.

This rule is commonly called the ejusdem generis


WHEN THE LAW DOES NOT DISTINGUISH, rule, because it teaches us that broad and
COURTS SHOULD NOT DISTINGUISH comprehensive expressions in an act, such as and
all others, or any others, are usually to be
When the law does not distinguish, courts should restricted to persons or things of the same kind
not distinguish. The rule, founded on logic, is a or class with those specially named in the
corollary of the principle that general words and preceding words.
phrases of a statute should ordinarily be accorded
their natural and general significance. Rule of ejusdem generis merely a tool of statutory
construction resorted to when legislative intent is
The courts should administer the law not as they uncertain.
think it ought to be but as they find it and without
regard to consequences.
EXPRESS MENTION AND IMPLIED EXCLUSION

If the law makes no distinction, neither should It is a general rule of statutory construction that
the Court. the express mention of one person, thing, or
consequence is tantamount to an express
exclusion of all others. Expressio unius est
EXCEPTIONS IN THE STATUTE exclusio alterius.

When the law does not make any exception, courts Except:
may not except something unless compelling When there is manifest of injustice
reasons exist to justify it. When there is no reason for exception.

GENERAL AND SPECIAL TERMS ASSOCIATED WORDS (NOSCITUR SOCIIS)

General terms in a statute are to receive a general Where a particular word is equally susceptible of
construction, unless retrained by the context or by various meanings, its correct construction may be
plain inferences from the scope and purpose of the made specific by considering the company of terms
act. in which it is found or with which it is associated.

General terms or provisions in a statute may be


restrained and limited by specific terms or USE OF NEGATIVE WORDS
provisions with which they are associated.
Negative words and phrases regarded as
Special terms in a statute may sometimes be mandatory while those affirmative are mere
expanded to a general signification by the directory.
consideration that the reason of the law is general.
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The word shall emphasizes mandatory character A week means a period of seven consecutive days
and means imperative, operating to impose a duty without regard to the day of the week on which it
which may be enforced. begins.

THE USE OF THE WORD MAY AND SHALL FUNCTION OF THE PROVISO
IN THE STATUTE
Proviso is a clause or part of a clause in the
Use of the word may in the statute generally statute, the office of which is either to except
connotes a permissible thing, and operates to something from the enacting clause, or to qualify
confer discretion while the word shall is or restrain its generality, or to exclude some
imperative, operating to impose a duty which may possible ground of misinterpretation of its extent.
be enforced.
Provided is the word used in introducing a
The term shall may be either as mandatory or proviso.
directory depending upon a consideration of the
entire provision in which it is found, its object and
consequences that would follow from construing it
one way or the other.
CHAPTER V
PRESUMPTIONS IN AID OF CONSTRUCTION
USE OF THE WORD MUST AND INTERPRETATION

The word must in a statute like shall is not


always imperative and may be consistent with an PRESUMPTIONS
exercise discretion.
In construing a doubtful or ambiguous statute, the
Courts will presume that it was the intention of the
THE USE OF THE TERM AND AND THE WORD legislature to enact a valid, sensible and just law,
OR and one which should change the prior law no
further than may be necessary to effectuate the
And means conjunction connecting words or specific purpose of the act in question.
phrases expressing the idea that the latter is to be
added or taken along with the first.
PRESUMPTION AGAINST
Or is a disjunctive particle used to express as UNCONSTITUTIONALITY
alternative or to give a choice of one among two or
more things. It is also used to clarify what has Laws are presumed constitutional. To justify
already been said, and in such cases, means in nullification of law, there must be a clear and
other words, to wit, or that is to say. unequivocal breach of the constitution.

The theory is that, as the joint act of the legislative


COMPUTATION OF TIME and executive authorities, a law is supposed to
have been carefully studied and determined to be
When the laws speak of years, months, days or constitutional before it was finally enacted.
nights, it shall be understood that years are of
three hundred sixty five days each; months of All laws are presumed valid and constitutional
thirty days; days of twenty four hours; and nights until or unless otherwise ruled by the Court.
from sunset to sunrise.

If months are designated by their name, they shall PRESUMPTION AGAINST INJUSTICE
be computed by the number of days which they
respectively have. The law should never be interpreted in such a way
as to cause injustice as this never within the
In computing a period, the first day shall be legislative intent.
excluded, and the last day included (Art. 13, New
Civil Code). We interpret and apply the law in consonance with
justice.

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Judges do not and must not unfeelingly apply the
law as it is worded, yielding like robots to the CHAPTER VI
literal command without regard to its cause and INTRINSIC AIDS IN CONSTRUCTION AND
consequence. INTERPRETATION

PRESUMPTION AGAINST IMPLIED REPEALS INTRINSIC AIDS

The two laws must be absolutely incompatible, and The term intrinsic means internal or within.
clear finding thereof must surface, before the Intrinsic aids, therefore, are those aids within the
inference of implied repeal may be drawn. statute.

In the absence of an express repeal, a subsequent Intrinsic aids are resorted to only if there is
law cannot be construed as repealing a prior law ambiguity. In resorting to intrinsic aids, one must
unless an irreconcilable inconsistency and go back to the parts of the statute: the title, the
repugnancy exists in terms of the new and old preamble, context or body, chapter and section
laws. headings, punctuation, and interpretation.

PRESUMPTION AGAINST INEFFECTIVENESS


CHAPTER VII
In the interpretation of a statute, the Court should EXTRINSIC AIDS IN CONSTRUCTION AND
start with the assumption that the legislature INTERPRETATION
intended to enact an effective statute.

PRESUMPTION AGAINST ABSURDITY EXTRINSIC AIDS

Statutes must receive a sensible construction such These are existing aids from outside sources,
as will give effect to the legislative intention so as meaning outside of the four corners of the statute.
to avoid an unjust and absurd conclusion. If there is any doubt as to the meaning of the
statute, the interpreter must first find that out
Presumption against undesirable consequences within the statute.
were never intended by a legislative measure.
Extrinsic aids therefore are resorted to after
exhausting all the available intrinsic aids and still
PRESUMPTION AGAINST VIOLATION OF there remain some ambiguity in the statute.
INTERNATIONAL LAW
Extrinsic aids resorted to by the courts are history
Philippines as democratic and republican state of the enactment of the statute; opinions and
adopts the generally accepted principles of rulings of officials of the government called upon to
international law as part of the law of the land and execute or implement administrative laws;
adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, contemporaneous construction by executive
freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations. officers; actual proceedings of the legislative body;
(Art. II, Sec. 2, Phil. Constitution). individual statements by members of congress; and
the author of the law.

Other sources of extrinsic aids can be the reports


and recommendations of legislative committees;
public policy; judicial construction; and
construction by the bar.

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CHAPTER VI Opinions and rulings of officials of the
INTRINSIC AIDS IN CONSTRUCTION AND government called upon to execute or
INTERPRETATION implement administrative laws;
Contemporaneous construction by
executive officers charged with
implementing and enforcing the provisions
INTRINSIC AIDS of the statutes unless such interpretation is
clearly erroneous;
The very term intrinsic means internal or within. Actual proceedings of the legislative body;
Individual statements by members of
Intrinsic aids, therefore, are those aids within the congress; and
statute. The author of the law

If the language of the statute is clear and Other sources of extrinsic aids are:
unequivocal, there is no need to resort to intrinsic Reports and recommendations of legislative
aids. committees;
Public policy;
In resorting to intrinsic aids, one must go back to
Judicial construction; and
the parts of the statute.
Construction by the bar

It is a well-accepted principle that where a statute


THE TITLE OF THE LAW IS A VALUABLE
is ambiguous, courts may examine both the
INTRINSIC AID IN DETERMINING LEGISLATIVE
printed pages of the published Act as well as those
INTENT
extrinsic matters that may aid in construing the
meaning of the statute, such as the history of its
enactment, the reasons of the passage of the bill
TEXT OF THE STATUTE AS INTRINSIC AID
and purposes to be accomplished by the measure.
Subtitle of the statute as intrinsic aid in
Individual statements by members of Congress on
determining legislative intent.
the floor do not necessarily reflect legislative intent.

The best interpreter of the law or any of its


PREAMBLE AS INTRINSIC AID
provisions is the author of the law.
The intent of the law as culled from its preamble
and from the situation, circumstances and
conditions it sought to remedy, must be enforced.
CHAPTER VIII
STRICT AND LIBERAL CONSTRUCTION AND
Preamble used as a guide in determining the intent
INTERPRETATION OF
of the lawmaker.
STATUTES

CHAPTER VII
GENERAL PRINCIPLES
EXTRINSIC AIDS IN CONSTRUCTION AND
INTERPRETATION
If a statute should be strictly construed, nothing
should be included within the scope that does not
come clearly within the meaning of the language
EXTRINSIC AIDS
used.
Extrinsic aids are existing aids from outside
But the rule of strict construction is not applicable
sources, meaning outside from the four corners of
where the meaning of the statute is certain and
the statute.
unambiguous , for under these circumstances,
there is no need for construction.
Extrinsic aids are resorted to after exhausting all
the available intrinsic aids and still there remain
On the other hand, there are many statutes which
some ambiguity in the statute.
will be liberally construed. The meaning of the
statute may be extended to matters which come
Extrinsic aids resorted to by the courts are:
History of the enactment of the statute;
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within the spirit or reason of the law or within the Contracts of Insurance are to be construed
evils which the law seeks to suppress or correct. liberally in favor of the insured and strictly against
the insurer. Thus, ambiguity in the words of an
Liberal interpretation or construction of the law or insurance contract should be interpreted in favor
rules, however, applies only in proper cases and of its beneficiary.
under justifiable causes and circumstances. While
it is true that litigation is not a game of
technicalities, it is equally true that every case LABOR AND SOCIAL LEGISLATIONS
must be prosecuted in accordance with the
prescribed procedure to insure an orderly and Doubts in the interpretation of Workmens
speedy administration of justice. Compensation and Labor Code should be resolved
in favor of the worker. It should be liberally
construed to attain their laudable objective, i.e., to
PENAL STATUTES give relief to the workman and/or his dependents
in the event that the former should die or sustain
Penal laws are to be construed strictly against the in an injury.
state and in favor of the accused. Hence, in the
interpretation of a penal statute, the tendency is to The sympathy of the law on social security is
subject it to careful scrutiny and to construe it towards its beneficiaries and the law by its own
with such strictness as to safeguard the right of terms, requires a construction of utmost liberality
the accused. in their favor.

If the statute is ambiguous and admits of two


reasonable but contradictory constructions, that RETIREMENT LAWS
which operates in favor of a party accused under
its provisions is to be preferred. Retirement laws are liberally interpreted in favor of
the retiree because the intention is to provide for
the retirees sustenance and comfort, when he is
no longer capable of earning his livelihood.

TAX LAWS
ELECTION RULES
Taxation is a destructive power which interferes
with the personal and property rights of the people Statute providing for election contests are to be
and takes from them a portion of their property for liberally construed to the end that the will of the
the support of the government. people in the choice of public officer may not be
defeated by mere technical objections.
Accordingly, in case of doubt, tax statutes must be
construed strictly against the government and
liberally in favor of the taxpayer, for taxes, being RULES OF COURT
burdens, are not to be presumed beyond what the
applicable statute expressly and clearly declares. Rule of court shall be liberally construed in order
to promote their objective of securing a just,
speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action
Any claim for exemption from a tax statute is and proceeding.
strictly construed against the taxpayer and
liberally in favor of the state.

NATURALIZATION LAW

Naturalization laws should be rigidly enforced and


strictly construed in favor of the government and
against the applicant.

INSURANCE LAW

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Procedural provisions of the Local Government
Code are retrospective.

CURATIVE STATUTES
CHAPTER IX
PROSPECTIVE AND RETROSPECTIVE They are those which undertake to cure errors and
STATUTES irregularities and administrative proceedings, and
which are designed to give effect to contracts and
other transactions between private parties which
GENERAL PRINCIPLES otherwise would fail of producing their intended
consequences by reason of some statutory
Prospective statute is a statute which operates disability or failure to comply with some technical
upon acts and transactions which have not requirement. They are therefore retroactive in
occurred when the statute takes effect, that is, their character.
which regulates the future.

Retrospective or retroactive law is one which


takes away or impairs vested rights acquired under
existing laws, or creates new obligations and CHAPTER X
imposes new duties, or attaches new disabilities in CONFLICTING STATUTES
respect of transaction already past.

A sound canon of statutory construction is that EFFECT SHOULD BE GIVEN TO THE ENTIRE
statutes operate prospectively only and never STATUTE
retrospectively, unless the legislative intent to the
contrary is made manifest either by the express It may happen that in a statute, conflicting clauses
terms of the statute or by necessary implication. and provisions may arise. If such situation may
occur, the statute must be construed as a whole.
The Civil Code of the Philippines follows the above
rule thus: Laws shall have no retroactive effect,
unless the contrary is provided. STATUTES IN PARI MATERIA

Retroactive legislation is looked upon with disfavor, Statutes that relate to the same subject matter, or
as a general rule and properly so because of its to the same class of persons or things, or have the
tendency to be unjust and oppressive. same purpose or object.

Statutes in pari materia are to be construed


PENAL STATUTES together; each legislative act is to be interpreted
with reference to other acts relating to the same
Penal statutes as a rule are applied prospectively. matter or subject.
Felonies and misdemeanors are punished under
the laws in force at the time of their commission. However, if statutes of equal theoritical application
(Art. 366, RPC). to a particular case cannot be reconciled, the
statute of later date must prevail being a later
However, as an exception, it can be given expression of legislative will.
retroactive effect if it is favorable to the accused
who is not a habitual criminal. (Art. 22, RPC).
GENERAL AND SPECIAL STATUTES

PROCEDURAL LAWS ARE RETROSPECTIVE Sometimes we find statutes treating a subject in


general terms and another treating a part of the
Statutes regulating the procedure of the Court will same subject in particularly detailed manner.
be construed as applicable to actions pending and
undermined at the time of their passage. However, If both statutes are irreconcilable, the general
Rules of Procedure should not be given retroactive statute must give way to the special or particular
effect if it would result in great injustice and impair provisions as an exception to the general
substantive right. provisions.

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This is so even if the general statute is later
enactment of the legislature and broad enough to ALL PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION ARE
include the cases in special law unless there is SELF-EXECUTING; EXCEPTIONS
manifest intent to repeal or alter the special law.
Some constitutions are merely declarations of
policies. Their provisions command the legislature
STATUTE AND ORDINANCE to enact laws and carry out the purposes of the
framers who merely establish an outline of
If there is conflict an ordinance and a statute, the government providing for the different departments
ordinance must give way. of the governmental machinery and securing
certain fundamental and inalienable rights of
citizens.
It is a well-settled rule that a substantive law
cannot be amended by a procedural law. Thus a constitutional provision is self-executing if
the nature and extent of the right conferred and
A general law cannot repeal a special law. the liability imposed are fixed by the constitution
itself.
In case of conflict between a general provision of a
special law and a particular provision of a general Unless it is expressly provided that a legislative act
law, the latter will prevail. is necessary to enforce a constitutional mandate,
the presumption now is that all provisions of the
When there is irreconcilable repugnancy between a constitution are self-executing.
proviso and the body of a statute, the former
prevails as latest expression of legislative intent. In case of doubt, the Constitution should be
considered self-executing rather than non-self-
The enactment of a later legislation which is executing, unless the contrary is clearly intended.
general law cannot be construed to have repealed a
special law. Non-self-executing provisions would give the
legislature discretion to determine when, or
A statute is superior to an administrative circular, whether, they shall be effective, subordinated to
thus the later cannot repeal or amend it. the will of the law-making body.

Where the instrument is susceptible of two


interpretations, one which will make it invalid and PROHIBITORY PROVISIONS GIVEN LITERAL
illegal and another which will make it valid and AND STRICT INTERPRETATION
legal, the latter interpretation should be adopted.
Guidelines in construction and interpretation of
In case of conflict between an administrative order the constitution are stressed:
and the provisions of the Constitutions, the latter
prevails. 1. The Court in construing a Constitution should
bear in mind the object sought to be
CHAPTER XI accomplished by its adoption, and the evils, if
CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION OF any, sought to be prevented or remedied.
THE CONSTITUTION 2. One provision of the Constitution is to be
separated from all the others, to be considered
alone, but that all provisions bearing upon a
A constitution is a system of fundamental law for particular subject are to be brought into view
the governance and administration of a nation. It and to be interpreted as to effectuate the great
is supreme, imperious, absolute, and unalterable purposes of the instrument.
except by the authority from which it emanates. 3. The proper interpretation of the Constitution
depends more on how it was understood by the
Under the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, if people adopting it than the framers
a law or contract violates any norm of the understanding thereof.
constitution, that law or contract whether
promulgated by the legislative, or by the executive
branch or entered into by private persons for
private purposes is null and void and without any
force or effect.

12 | Statutory Construction | WLC School of Law | Nikki T. Sia


THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION ON CONCLUSION
NATURAL-BORN CITIZENS OF THE
PHILIPPINES GIVEN RETROACTIVE EFFECT The fundamental principle of constituitonal
construction is to give effect to the intent of the
Under THE 1973 Constitution, those born of framers of the organic law and of the people
Filipino fathers and those born of Filipino mothers adopting it.
with an alien father were placed on equal footing.
They were both considered as natural-born
citizens. CHAPTER XII
RECENT CASES ON STATUTORY
The constitutional provision is curative in nature. CONSTRUCTION

THE CONSTITUTION MUST BE CONSTRUED IN The term may is indicative of a mere


ITS ENTIRETY AS ONE, SINGLE DOCUMENT possibility, an opportunity or an option.

An implied repeal is predicated on a


LIBERAL CONSTRUCTION OF ONE TITLE OF substantial conflict between the new and
ONE SUBJECT prior laws.

A liberal construction of the one title-one subject The abrogation or repeal of a law cannot be
rule has been invariably adopted by the court so as assumed; the intention to revoke must be
not to cripple or impede legislation. clear and manifest.

The title expresses the general subject and all the When the law speaks in clear and categorical
provisions are germane to the general subject. language, there is no occasion for
interpretation.

RESIGNATION OF THE PRESIDENT UNDER THE Penal laws must be construed strictly. Such
1987 CONSTITUION IS NOT GOVERNED BY ANY rule is founded on the tenderness of the law
FORMAL REQUIREMENT AS TO FORM. IT CAN for the rights of individuals and on the plain
BE ORAL. IT CAN BE WRITTEN. IT CAN BE principle that the power of punishment is
EXPRESS. IT CAN BE IMPLIED. vested in the Congress, not in the Judicial
department.

SPECIAL PROVISION PREVAILS OVER A Where a requirement is made explicit and


GENERAL ONE unambiguous terms, no discretion is left to
the judiciary. It must see to it that the
Lex specialis derogant generali mandate is obeyed.

Statutes that are remedial, or that do not


SUPREMA LEX create new or take away vested rights, do
not fall
It is time-honored that the Constitution is the
Supreme Law of the land. It is the law of all laws.
Hence, if there is conflict between a statute and the
Constitution, the statute shall yield to the
Constitution.

STARE DECISIS

The rule of precedents.

Judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws


or the Constitution shall form part of the legal
system of the Philippines.

13 | Statutory Construction | WLC School of Law | Nikki T. Sia