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STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Statutory Construction act 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
in the law

Purpose: to ascertain and give effect to the legislative intent.

Application law speaks in clear and categorical language


Interpretation when the is ambiguity in the language of the statute when taken in relation to a set
of facts, ascertain legislative intent by making use of intrinsic aids, or those found in the law
itself
Construction 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 founds outside the written
language of the law
Presumptions based on logic or established provision of law

3 Cardinal Rules of interpretation


1. Verba Legis plain-meaning rule; whenever possible, the words used in the Constitution
must be given their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are employed
2. Ratio Legis Est Anima reason is the soul of the law; in case of ambiguity, the words should
be interpreted in accordance with the intent of the framers
3. Ut Magis Valeat Quam Pereat Constitution must be interpreted as a whole, but if the plain
meaning of the word is not found to be clear, resort to other aids available

Ambiguity doubtfulness, doubleness of meaning, indistinctness or uncertainty of an expression


used in a written instrument; when a literal interpretation of the words would lead to
unreasonable,unjust or absurd consequences or a statute is in conflict with the Constitution.

Legislative Power authority of Congress to make laws and to alter or repeal them

Judicial Power determine grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction
on any part of any branch or instrumentality of the government

7 Intrinsic Aids
1. Title subject matter, not controlling and not entitle to much weight
2. Preamble reasons or the objective of the enactment but cannot enlarge or confer powers
3. Words, Phrases and sentences, context Body that contains the substantive context of
the law
4. Punctuation may be used as an additional argument for adopting the literal meaning of the
words punctuated
5. Headings and marginal notes
6. Legislative Definition
7. Interpretation Clauses

Extrinsic Aids
1. Contemporaneous Circumstances conditions present at that time (why enacted)
a. History of the times and conditions existing at the time the law was enacted
b. Previous state of the law
c. Evils sought to be remedied or corrected by law
d. Customs usages of the people
2. Policy general policy
3. Legislative History of the Statue legislative committees, transcript of stenographic notes
4. Contemporaneous and Practical Construction those who lived and acquainted
5. Executive Construction The principle that the contemporaneous construction of a statute
by the executive officers of the government whose duty is to execute it, is entitled to great
respect, and should ordinarily control the construction of the statute by the courts, is so firmly
imbedded in our jurisprudence that no authorities need to be cited to support it. The
construction placed by the officer charged with implementing and enforcing the provisions of
a Code should be given controlling weight.
6. Legislative Construction cannot control as against the courts prerogative to decide on
what is the right or wrong interpretation
7. Judicial Construction followed only if it is reasonable, in harmony with justice and public
policy and consistent with the local law
8. Construction by the Bar and Legal Commentators

Presumptions in Aids of Construction


1. Presumption of Validity 9. Against implied repeals
2. Presumption of Constitutionality 10. Against violation of public policy
3. Presumption of Good Faith 11. of Knowledge of Existing Laws
4. Against justice 12. of acquiescence to judicial construction
5. Against inconsistency 13. of jurisdiction
6. Against absurdity 14. of acting within the scope of authority
7. Against ineffectiveness 15. against violation of international law
8. Against irrepealable laws

Law rule of conduct, just, obligatory, laid down by legitimate authority for the common observance
and benefit

Statutes Parts
1. Title general statement of the subject matter
2. Preamble states the reasons for the enactment
3. Enacting Clause authority that promulgate the enactment
4. Body provisions are allied and germane to the subject and purpose of the bill
5. Exceptions and Provisos acting as a restraint upon or as a qualification of its generality
6. Interpretative, repealing, separability and saving clauses
7. Date of effectivity

Validity and Constitutionality of Statutes

Constitutional question requisites:


1. Actual controversy
2. Raised by the proper party
3. Raised at the earliest possible opportunity
4. Decision must be necessary to the determination of the case itself

Extent of Judicial Power: take possibilities to salvage the valid portions of a statute

Requisites for declaration of partial unconstitutionality


1. Legislature is willing to retain the valid portion even if the rest is declared illegal
2. Valid portions can stand independently as a separate statute

General Principles in the Construction of Statutes


1. The first and fundamental duty of courts is to apply the law. Construction and interpretation
come only after it has been demonstrated that application is impossible or inadequate without
them.
2. Only statues with an ambiguous or doubtful meaning may be the subject of statutory
construction
3. Too literal interpretation leads to absurdity. The spirit, rather than the letter of a law,
determines its construction, hence must be read according to its spirit and intent.
4. Legislative intent must be ascertained from a consideration of the statute as a whole. The
particular words, clauses and phrases should not be studied as detached and isolated
expressions, but the whole and every part of the statue must be considered in fixing the
meaning of any of its parts and in order to produce a harmonious whole.
5. It is a rule in statutory construction that every part of the statue must be interpreted with
reference to the context hence every part must be considered together with the other parts
and kept subservient to the general intent of the whole enactment. Reconcile or harmonize
the different provisions of the statute including the conflicting provisions thereof
6. Statute of later date prevails
7. Special provisions prevail over the general provisions
8. A special law prevails over a general law
Exception:
General law prevails over the special law when it treats the subject in particular
and the special law refers it in general
Legislature intended the general enactment to cover the whole subject and to
repeal all prior laws inconsistent therewith.
9. Pari Materia Rule: all statute relating to the same subject or having the same general
purpose, should be read and construed together as if they constituted one law. Shall be
construed and harmonized with the existing law
10. Re-enacted statues, follow the construction which such statute received when previously in
force.
11. Adopted statutes, the interpretation of the courts of the state from which it is adopted should
be considered
12. Conflict between a common law principle and statutory provision, the latter prevails
13. Implied repeals are not legally presumed in the absence of a clear and unmistakable
showing of such intentions
14. Well-settled doctrine that a court is to avoid construing a statue or legal norm in such a
manner as would give rise to a constitutional doubt. Counsel is not to ignore the purpose
of litigation, which is to assure the parties justice according to law. He is not to fall prey to the
vice of literalness. The law as an instrument of social control will fail in its function it through
an ingenious construction sought to be fastened on a legal norm, particularly a procedural
rules, there is placed an impediment to a litigant being given an opportunity of vindicating an
alleged right.
15. Great weight shall be given to the construction given a statue by the government agency
called upon to implement the statute
16. Administrative interpretation of statutes are generally given weight, however, they should
not be applied if such interpretation is in effect amending or enlarging the scope of exclusion
found in the law itself
17. When an administrative agency promulgates rules and regulations, it makes a new law with
the force and effect of a valid law, while when it renders an opinion or gives an statement of
policy, it merely interprets a pre-existing law.
18. If prohibition is general, for its contains no excepting words hence directed against all.
19. Application and interpretation of laws is an exclusive duty of the Judiciary, a privilege
already attached to the office provided and secure by fundamental law.
20. Religious freedom, as a constitutional mandate, in not inhibition of profound reverence for
religion and is not a denial of its influence on human affairs. When the Filipino People, in the
preamble of their Constitution, they thereby manifested their intense religious nature and
placed unfaltering reliance upon Him who guides the destinies of man and nations.
21. Doctrine of Primary Jurisdiction is never presumed, it is given only by law. Does not
warrant court to arrogate unto itself the authority to resolve a controversy the jurisdiction over
which is initially lodged with an administrative body of special competence.
22. Publication - give the general public adequate notice of the various laws which are to
regulate their actions and conduct as citizens. Without such notice or publication, there would
be no basis for the application of the maxim Ignorantia Legis Non Excusat
23. It is a fundamental principle that municipal ordinances are inferior in status and subordinate
to the laws of the state.
24. The clause unless otherwise provided in Article 2 of the Civil Code refers to the date of
effectivity and not to the publication requirement, which cannot in any event be omitted. To
do so would offend due process insofar as it would dent the public, knowledge of the laws
that are supposed to govern it.
25. Formal defects were not fatal defects, could have easily been corrected
26. Judicial Legislation. It must rectify an apparent clerical error in the wording of the statue to
carry out the conspicuous intention of the Legislature.
27. Words and phrases may be furnished by the courts where that is essential to eliminate
repugnancy and inconsistency in the statues, to give effect to the intention of the Legislature
manifested therein. It is within the province of the courts to correct said error so as to give
due course to the intention of the Legislature.
28. When the language of a particular section of a statute admits of more than one
construction, that construction which gives effect to the evident purpose and object sought
to be attained by the whole statute, must be followed. A statutes clauses and phrases should
not be considered as isolated and detached expressions but rather, the whole must be
considered in fixing the meaning of any of its parts.
29. Surplusagium Non Nocet Surplusage hurts not - The general rule is that courts should not
be hasty in treating some words as surplusage. If they can admit of a reasonable construction
which will give them some force of meaning, then they should not be ignore, because the
legislature is presumed to have used each word carefully.
30. When there is a clear case of a failure to express a meaning and a becoming sense of
judicial modesty forbids the court from assuming and consequently, from supplying.
31. Special over General - Generalia Specialibus Non Derogant the provisions of a general
statute must yield to those of a special one or Rule of Implied Exception. General
legislation must give way to special legislation on the same subject and generally be so
interpreted as to embrace only cases in which the special provisions are not applicable.

Constitution:
- The Constitution is the basic and paramount law to which all other laws must conform and
to which all persons, including the highest officials of the land must defer. NO act shall be
valid, however, noble its intention, if it conflicts with the Constitution. It must ever remain
supreme. Hence, a statute should be interpreted in harmony with the Constitution.
- When the construction is proper, the whole constitution is to be examined in order to
determine the meaning of any provision. That construction should be used which would give
effect to the entire intent of the framers of organic law and of people adopting it, intention to
which force is to be given is that which is embodied and expressed in the constitutional
provisions themselves. A construction which raises a conflict between different parts of the
constitution is not permissible when by reasonable construction, the parts may be made to
harmonize.
- A provision that is complete in itself and becomes operative without the aid of supplementary
and enabling legislation, or which supplies rule by means of which the right it grants may be
enjoyed or protected, is self-executing. Thus, a constitutional provision is self-executing if
the nature and extent of the right conferred and the liability imposed are fixed by the
Constitution itself, so that they can be determined by an examination and construction of its
terms, and there is no language indicating that the subject is referred to the legislature for
action.
Construction of Statutes
1. Penal Statutes liberally construed in favor of the offender because of the laws tenderness
for the right of the individuals. It must be construed with strictness as to carefully safeguard
the rights of the defendant, but may be invoked only when the law is ambiguous, however,
be reasonably applied as not to defeat the true intent and meaning of the enactment found in
the langue actually used.
General Rule: Penal laws are prospective in effect
Exception: may be given retroactive effect if it will be favorable to the accused
Exception to the Exception: if the accused is a habitual delinquent

2. Remedial Statute liberally construed, purpose: to improve the law and so that they will be
in harmony with new ideas and conceptions of justice and proper conduct of men

3. Substantive Statutes these create rights and duties therefore stated in clear and
categorical language, there is no more room for construction or interpretation.

4. Labor Statutes All doubts in the implementation and interpretation of the provisions of the
Labor Code, including its implementing ruls and regulations, shall be resolved in favor of
Labor

5. Tax Statutes construed strictly against the taxing power and liberally in favor of the
taxpayer because tax laws seek to impose burdens upon persons and property
o Tax exemptions are construed strictly against the taxpayers and in favor of the taxing
power because of the Lifeblood Doctrine

6. Naturalization Laws strictly construed against the applicant because the right of an alien
to become a citizen by naturalization is merely a statutory right.

7. Election Laws construed liberally to give effect to the expressed will of the electorate.
Technicalities should not be allowed to prevail against the true will of the people.

8. Adoption Statutes liberally construed in favor of the child to be adopted to promote the
noble objectives of the law

9. Veteran and Pension Laws a governmental expression of gratitude to and recognition of


those who rendered service for the country by extending them regular monetary aid. Veteran
pension law must be accorded a liberal construction and interpretation in order to favor those
entitled to rights, privileges and benefits granted and achieve the humanitarian purpose of
the law. Courts tend to favor the pensioner, but such constructional preference is to be
considered with other guides to interpretation and a construction of pension laws must
depend on its own particular language.

10. Contracts, which are the private laws of the contracting parties, should be fulfilled according
to the literal sense of their stipulations, if their terms are clear and leave no room for doubt
as to the intention of the contracting parties, for contracts are obligatory, no matter what their
form may be, whenever the essential requisites for their validity are present.

11. Insurance Policies - contract of adhesion that in case there is no doubt, must be construed
in their plain, ordinary and popular sense (expressed clearly and in the language and terms
that the general public can readily understand). When the terms of the policy are ambiguous,
should be interpreted strictly and most strongly against the insurer and liberally in favor of the
insured, for the reason that the insured usually has no voice in the selection or arrangement
of the words employed and acting exclusively in the interest of the insurance company.
12. Corporation law must be given a reasonable, not an unduly harsh, interpretation which does
not hamper the development of trade relations and which foster friendship and commercial
intercourse among countries.

13. Agrarian Reform laws all provide for the security of tenure of agricultural tenants.
Agricultural share tenants are given the right of leasehold tenancy as a first step towards the
ultimate statues of owner-cultivator, a goal sought to be achieved by the government program
of land reform.

14. Rules of Court liberally construed in order to promote their objective and to assist the
parties in obtaining just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action and
proceedings to avoid injustice, discrimination, and unfairness.

15. Expropriation Laws - The exercise of the right of eminent domain is necessarily in
derogation of private rights hence the authority must be strictly construed and watched with
jealous scrutiny. The statutory power of taking property from the owner without its consent is
one of the most delicate exercises of government authority. The inviolable sanctity which all
free constitutions attach to the right of property of the citizens, constrains the strict
observance of the substantial provisions of the law which are prescribed as modes of exercise
of the power, and to protect it from abuse.

16. Wills - Statutes prescribing the formalities to be observed in the execution of a will must be
strictly construed. Failure to comply is a fatal defect. The will, being void, cannot be admitted
to probate. Reason: will is opened after the death of the testator, obviously, his intentions can
only be determined from the document itself.
Mens Testatoris in Testementis Spectanda Est the testators intention is to be
regarded in will.
In Contractibus, Benigna; In Testamentis, Benignior; In Restitutionibus, Benignissima
Intrpretatio Facienda Est. in contract, the interpretation is to be liberal; in will, more
liberal, in restitutions, most liberal

Latin Maxims
Verba Legis Non Est Recedendum From the words of the statue, there should be no departure

Index Animi Sermo Est Speech is the indication of intent. You must not comply anything which is
inconsistent with the words expressly used.

Optima Statuli Interpretatix Est Insum Statutum best interpreter of the statute is the statue itself

Ratio Legis Est Anima the reason of the law is its soul

Ratio Legis interpretation according to spirit

Verba Intentioni, Non E Contra, Debent Inservire Words ought to be more subservient to the intent,
not the intent to the words

Cessante Ratione Cesat Ipsa Lex when the reason for the law ceases, the law ceases also to
exist

Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius express mention is implied exclusion


- The enumeration of specified matters in a statue is construed, as an exclusion of matters not
enumerated unless a different intention appears
Generalia specialibus non derogant a general law does not nullify a specific or special law
- To the extent of any necessary repugnancy between a general and a special law or provision,
the latter will control the former without regard to the respective dates of passage

Dura Lex Sed lex the law may be harsh but it is still the law

Cogitationis Poenam Nemo Emeret No man may be punished for his thought

Actus Non Facit Reum Nisi Mens Sit Rea the act itself does not make a man guilty unless his
intention were so

Actus Me Invito Factus Non Est Meus Actus an act done by me against my will is not my act

Ignorantia Legis Neminem Excusat Ignorance of the law excuses no one


Ignorantia Facto Excusat Ignorance or mistake in point of fact is an excuse

Ube Lex Non Distinguit Nec Nos Distiguere Debemos where the law does not distinguish, we
should not distinguish

Mens Legislatoris reasonable or liberal construction which will best effect it purpose rather than
one which will defeat it. the literal construction then, has in general, but prime facie preference. To
arrive at the real meaning, it is always necessary to get an exact conception of the aim, scope and
object of the whole act

Expressio Unius Est Exclusion Alterius, the express mention of one thing in a law, as a general rule,
means the exclusion of others not expressly mentioned, which is based upon the rules of logic and
the natural workings of the human mind. The law leaving no doubt as to the scope of its operation,
must be obeyed.

Reddendo Singula Singulis referring each to each


each word or phrase or clause must be referred to their proper connection in order to give it
proper force and effect, rendering none of them useless or superfluous.

Cassus Omissus Pro Omisso Habbendus Est a case omitted is to be held as intentionally omitted

Noscitur a Sociis where a particular word or phrase in a statue is ambiguous in itself or is equally
susceptible of various meanings, its true meaning may be made clear and specific by considering
the company in which it is found or with which it is associated

Ejusdem Generis when general follow the designation of particular things, or classes of persons
or subjects, the general words will usually be construed to include only those persons or things of
the same class or general nature as those specifically enumerated. Applies only where the specific
words preceding the general expression are of the same nature. Where they are of different genera,
the meaning of the general words remain unaffected by it connection with them

Casus Omissus Pro Omisso Habendus Est a person, object or thing omitted, must have been
omitted intentionally words plainly should not be added by implication into a statue unless it is
necessary to do so to give the language sense and meaning in its context

Casus Omissus (Permissive Rule) - an omission which the context shows with reasonable certainty
to have bee unintended, may be supplied, at least in enactments which are construed beneficially
as distinguished from strictly

Generalia Verba Sun Generaliter Intelligencia what is generally mentioned shall be generally
understood
Ad Proximum Antecedens Fiat Relatio Nisi Impediatur Sententia (Doctrine of Last Antecedent) -
relative words must ordinarily be referred to the last antecedent, the last antecedent being the last
word which can be made an antecedent so as to give a meaning.

Uti Loquitor Vulgus in dealing with matters relating to the general public, statutes are presumed to
use words in their popular sense.

When the word used has a technical meaning considered to have been used in technical sense
When the word used has no meaning in harmony with the legislative intent can be treated as
surplusage and the may be entirely ignored, however, the courts should construe the statute in its
entirety and find out if the words used can still admit a reasonable construction which will give them
force and meaning

When the word or phrase is repeatedly used in statute shall receive the same interpretation
when used in every other part of the statute, unless a different meaning is intended

OR disjunctive term, alternative, various members of the sentence are to be taken separately

AND conjunctive term, members of a sentence are to be taken jointly, in addition to, be accepted
as binding together and as relating to one another.

SHALL ordinarily connotes an imperative and indicates the mandatory character of a statute.
However, not an absolute rule, the import of the word ultimately depends upon a consideration of
the entire provision, its nature, object and consequences that would follow from construing it one
way or the other

MAY denotes discretion, permissive and it operates to confer jurisdiction, connotes possibility,
auxiliary verb indicating liberty, opportunity, permission

The word PRINCIPALLY as used in said article is not equivalent to exclusively

ALL, EVERY and ANY used in its universal sense or in its comprehensive sense, Every
means each one of a group without exception. It means all possible and all taken one by one.

The word TERM describes the period that an officer may hold office and upon the expiration of
such terms, his rights, duties and authority as a public officer must cease.

AND SO FORTH and AND THE LIKE refers to those similar to what is enumerated or
mentioned preceding of the phrases

Express Repeal - abrogation or annulling of a previously existing law by enactment of a subsequent


statute which declares that the former law shall be revoked and abrogated. A repeal of a statute is
'express' when it is literally declared repealed by a subsequent statute, must clearly specify the
particular law to be repealed.

Implied Repeal - which contains provisions so contrary to or irreconcilable with those of the earlier
law that only one of the two statutes can stand in force

'Amendment' of a statute means an alteration in the law already existing leaving some parts of the
original still standing

Suspension merely holds it in abeyance.

CIVIL CODE PROVISION - Article 7. (l) "Laws are repealed only by subsequent ones, and their
violation and non-observance shall not be excused by disuse or custom or practice to the contrary."