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LORENZO M. TAADAv. HON. JUAN C. TUVERA, in Balbuena, Et. Al. v. Secretary of Education, Et Al.

, 110
his capacity as Executive Assistant to the President,. Phil. 150) It is needless to add that the publication of
presidential issuances "of a public nature" or "of
SYLLABUS general applicability" is a requirement of due
process. It is a rule of law that before a person may
1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; STATUTES; PUBLICATION be bound by law, he must first be officially and
IN THE OFFICIAL GAZETTE; LEGAL PERSONALITY OF specifically informed of its contents. The Court
PETITIONERS TO FILE MANDAMUS TO COMPEL therefore declares that presidential issuances of
PUBLICATION, RECOGNIZED. The subject of the general application, which have not been published,
petition is to compel the performance of a public shall have no force and effect.
duty and petitioners maintain they need not show
any specific interest for their petition to be given 5. ID.; ID.; ID.; DECLARATION OF INVALIDITY OF
due course. The right sought to be enforced by UNPUBLISHED PRESIDENTIAL DECREES DOES NOT
petitioners is a public right recognized by no less AFFECT THOSE WHICH HAVE BEEN ENFORCED OR
than the fundamental law of the land. If petitioners IMPLEMENTED PRIOR TO THEIR PUBLICATION.
were not allowed to institute this proceeding, it The implementation/enforcement of presidential
would indeed be difficult to conceive of any other decrees prior to their publication in the Official
person to initiate the same, considering that the Gazette is "an operative fact which may have
Solicitor General, the government officer generally consequences which cannot be justly ignored. The
empowered to represent the people, has entered his past cannot always be erased by a new judicial
appearance for respondents in this case. declaration . . .that an all inclusive statement of a
principle of absolute retroactive invalidity cannot be
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ARTICLE 2 CIVIL CODE DOES NOT justified."cralaw virtua1aw library
PRECLUDE PUBLICATION IN THE OFFICIAL GAZETTE
EVEN IF THE LAW ITSELF PROVIDES FOR DATE OF FERNANDO, C.J., concurring with
ITS EFFECTIVITY. That publication in the Official qualification:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
Gazette is not a sine qua non requirement for the
effectivity of laws where the laws themselves 1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; STATUTES; PUBLICATION
provide for their own effectivity dates is correct only REQUIREMENT NEED NOT BE CONFINED TO THE
insofar as it equates the effectivity of laws with the OFFICIAL GAZETTE. It is of course true that
fact of publication. Considered in the light of other without the requisite publication, a due process
statutes applicable to the issue at hand, the question would arise if made to apply adversely to a
conclusion is easily reached that said Article 2 does party who is not even aware of the existence of any
not preclude the requirement of publication in the legislative or executive act having the force and
Official Gazette, even if the law itself provides for effect of law. But such publication required need not
the date of its effectivity. be confined to the Official Gazette. From the
pragmatic standpoint, there is an advantage to be
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; RATIONALE. The clear object of gained. It conduces to certainty. That is to be
Article 2 of the Civil Code is to give the general public admitted. It does not follow, however, that failure to
adequate notice of the various laws which are to do so would in all cases and under all circumstances
regulate their actions and conduct as citizens. result in a statute, presidential decree, or any other
Without such notice and publication, there would be executive act of the same category being bereft of
no basis for the application of the maxim "ignorantia any binding force and effect. To so hold would raise
legis non excusat." It would be the height of injustice a constitutional question. Such a pronouncement
to punish or otherwise burden a citizen for the would lend itself to the interpretation that such a
transgression of a law of which he had no notice legislative or presidential act is bereft of the
whatsoever, not even a constructive one. attribute of effectivity unless published in the Official
Gazette. There is no such requirement in the
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; PUBLICATION OF PRESIDENTIAL Constitution.
ISSUANCES "OF A PUBLIC NATURE" OR "OF
GENERAL APPLICABILITY," A REQUIREMENT OF DUE 2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; REQUIREMENT IN ART. 2 CIVIL
PROCESS; UNPUBLISHED PRESIDENTIAL ISSUANCES CODE DOES NOT HAVE THE JUDICIAL FORCE OF A
WITHOUT FORCE AND EFFECT. The publication of CONSTITUTIONAL COMMAND. The Chief Justices
all presidential issuances "of a public nature" or "of qualified concurrence goes no further than to affirm
general applicability" is mandated by law. Obviously, that publication is essential to the effectivity of a
presidential decrees that provide for fines, legislative or executive act of a general application.
forfeitures or penalties for their violation or He is not in agreement with the view that such
otherwise impose a burden on the people, such as publication must be in the Official Gazette. The Civil
tax and revenue measures, fall within this category. Code itself in its Article 2 expressly recognizes that
Other presidential issuances which apply only to the rule as to laws taking effect after fifteen days
particular persons such as administrative and following the completion of their publication in the
executive orders need not be published on the Official Gazette is subject to this exception, "unless it
assumption that they have been circularized to all is otherwise provided." Moreover, the Civil Code is
concerned. (People v. Que Po Lay, 94 Phil. 640; itself only a legislative enactment, Republic Act No.
386. It does not and cannot have the juridical force Article 2 provides otherwise that it "shall take effect
of a constitutional command. A later legislative or (only) one year (not 15 days) after such publication."
executive act which has the force and effect of law To sustain respondents misreading that "most laws
can legally provide for a different rule. or decrees specify the date of their effectivity and
for this reason, publication in the Official Gazette is
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; TO DECLARE UNPUBLISHED not necessary for their effectivity" would be to
PRESIDENTIAL ISSUANCES WITHOUT LEGAL FORCE nullify and render nugatory the Civil Codes
AND EFFECT WOULD RESULT IN UNDESIRABLE indispensable and essential requirement of prior
CONSEQUENCES. Nor does the Chief Justice agree publication in the Official Gazette by the simple
with the rather sweeping conclusion in the opinion expedient of providing for immediate effectivity or
of Justice Escolin that presidential decrees and an earlier effectivity date in the law itself before the
executive acts not thus previously published in the completion of 15 days following its publication which
Official Gazette would be devoid of any legal is the period generally fixed by the Civil Code for its
character. That would be, in his opinion, to go too proper dissemination.
far. It may be fraught, as earlier noted, with
undesirable consequences. He finds himself MELENCIO-HERRERA, J., concurring:chanrob1es
therefore unable to yield assent to such a virtual 1aw library
pronouncement.
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; STATUTES; PUBLICATION IN
TEEHANKEE, J., concurring:chanrob1es virtual 1aw THE OFFICIAL GAZETTE; RETROACTIVITY IN
library EFFECTIVITY DATE NOT ALLOWED WHERE IT WILL
1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; STATUTES, PUBLICATION RUN COUNTER TO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OR
IN THE OFFICIAL GAZETTE; NECESSARY PURSUANT DESTROY VESTED RIGHTS. There cannot be any
TO THE BASIC CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS OF question but that even if a decree provides for a
DUE PROCESS. The Rule of Law connotes a body date of effectivity, it has to be published. When a
of norms and laws published and ascertainable and date effectivity is mentioned in the decree but the
of equal application to all similarly circumstanced decree becomes effective only fifteen (15) days after
and not subject to arbitrary change but only under its publication in the Official Gazette, it will not mean
certain set procedure. The Court had consistently that the decree can have retroactive effect to the
stressed that "it is an elementary rule of fair play and date of effectivity mentioned in the decree itself.
justice that a reasonable opportunity to be informed There should be no retroactivity if the retroactivity
must be afforded to the people who are will run counter to constitutional rights or shall
commanded to obey before they can be punished destroy vested rights.
for its violation," (People v. de Dios, G.R. No. L-
11003, August 31, 1959, per the late Chief Justice PLANA, J., separate opinion:chanrob1es virtual 1aw
Paras) citing the settled principle based on due libr
process enunciated in earlier cases that "before the
public is bound by its contents. especially its penal 1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; STATUTES; PUBLICATION
provisions, a law, regulation or circular must first be IN THE OFFICIAL GAZETTE NOT ESSENTIAL FOR
published and the people officially and specially EFFECTIVITY FOR EFFECTIVITY OF LAWS. The
informed of said contents and its penalties." Without Philippine Constitution does not require the
official publication in the Official Gazette as required publication of laws as a prerequisite for their
by Article 2 of the Civil Code and Revised effectivity, unlike some Constitutions elsewhere. It
Administrative Code, there would be no basis nor may be said though that the guarantee of due
justification for the corollary rule of Article 3 of the process requires notice of laws to affected parties
Civil Code (based on constructive notice that the before they can be bound thereby; but such notice is
provisions of the law are ascertainable from the not necessarily by publication in the Official Gazette.
public and official repository where they are duly The due process clause is not that precise. Neither is
published) that "Ignorance of the law excuses no one the publication in the Official Gazette required by
from compliance therewith."cralaw virtua1aw library any statute as a prerequisite for their effectivity, if
said laws already provide for their effectivity date.
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; RESPONDENTS CONTENTION THAT
"ONLY LAWS WHICH ARE SILENT AS TO THEIR 2. ID.; ID.; PUBLICATION MAY BE MADE ELSEWHERE
EFFECTIVITY DATE NEED TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE THAN IN THE OFFICIAL GAZETTE. Article 2 of the
OFFICIAL GAZETTE FOR THEIR EFFECTIVITY," Civil Code provides that "laws shall take effect after
UNTENABLE. The plain text and meaning of the fifteen days following the completion of their
Civil Code is that "laws shall take effect after fifteen publication in the Official Gazette, unless it is
days following the completion of their publication in otherwise provided." Two things may be said of this
the Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided," provision: Firstly, it obviously does not apply to a law
i.e. a different effectivity date is provided by the law with a built-in provision as to when it will take effect.
itself. This proviso perforce refers to a law that had Secondly, it clearly recognizes that each law may
been duly published pursuant to the basic provide not only a different period for reckoning its
constitutional requirements of due process. The best effectivity date but also a different mode of notice.
example of this is the Civil Code itself: the same Thus, a law may prescribe that it shall be published
elsewhere than in the Official Gazette. submitted that in the absence of any showing that
petitioners are personally and directly affected or
3. ID.; ID.; COMMONWEALTH ACT 638 CANNOT prejudiced by the alleged non-publication of the
NULLIFY OR RESTRICT OPERATION OF A STATUTE presidential issuances in question 2 said petitioners
WITH A PROVISION AS TO ITS EFFECTIVITY. Not are without the requisite legal personality to
all legislative acts are required to be published in the institute this mandamus proceeding, they are not
Official Gazette but only "important" ones "of a being "aggrieved parties" within the meaning of
public nature." Moreover, Commonwealth Act No. Section 3, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, which we
638 does not provide that publication in the Official quote:chanrobles virtual lawlibrary
Gazette is essential for the effectivity of laws. This is
as it should be, for all statutes are equal and stand "SEC. 3. Petition for Mandamus. When any
on the same footing. A law, especially an earlier one tribunal, corporation, board or person unlawfully
of general application such as Commonwealth Act neglects the performance of an act which the law
No. 638, cannot nullify or restrict the operation of a specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office,
subsequent statute that has a provision of its own as trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from
to when and how it will take effect. Only a higher the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which
law, which is the Constitution, can assume the role. such other is entitled, and there is no other plain,
speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course
D E C I S I O N of law, the person aggrieved thereby may file a
verified petition in the proper court alleging the facts
ESCOLIN, J.: with certainty and praying that judgment be
Invoking the peoples right to be informed on rendered commanding the defendant, immediately
matters of public concern, a right recognized in or at some other specified time, to do the act
Section 6, Article IV of the 1973 Philippine required to be done to protect the rights of the
Constitution, 1 as well as the principle that laws to petitioner, and to pay the damages sustained by the
be valid and enforceable must be published in the petitioner by reason of the wrongful acts of the
Official Gazette or otherwise effectively defendant."cralaw virtua1aw library
promulgated, petitioners seek a writ of mandamus
to compel respondent public officials to publish, and Upon the other hand, petitioners maintain that since
or cause the publication in the Official Gazette of the subject of the petition concerns a public right
various presidential decrees, letters of instructions, and its object is to compel the performance of a
general orders, proclamations, executive orders, public duty, they need not show any specific interest
letter of implementation and administrative orders. for their petition to be given due course.

Specifically, the publication of the following The issue posed is not one of first impression. As
presidential issuances is sought:chanrob1es virtual early as the 1910 case of Severino v. Governor
1aw library General, 3 this Court held that while the general rule
is that "a writ of mandamus would be granted to a
a] Presidential Decrees Nos. 12, 22, 37, 38, 59, 64, private individual only in those cases where he has
103, . some private or particular interest to be subserved,
or some particular right to be protected,
b] Letter of Instructions Nos.: 10, 39, 49, 72, 107, independent of that which he holds with the public
108, 116, 130, .., at large," and "it is for the public officers exclusively
to apply for the writ when public rights are to be
c] General Orders Nos.: 14, 52, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 64 subserved [Mithchell v. Boardmen, 79 M.e., 469],"
& 65. nevertheless, "when the question is one of public
right and the object of the mandamus is to procure
d] Proclamation Nos.: 1126, 1144, 1147, 1151, the enforcement of a public duty, the people are
1196,.. regarded as the real party in interest and the relator
at whose instigation the proceedings are instituted
e] Executive Orders Nos.: 411, 413, 414, 427, 429- need not show that he has any legal or special
454, . interest in the result, it being sufficient to show that
he is a citizen and as such interested in the execution
f] Letters of Implementation Nos.: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11-22, of the laws [High, Extraordinary Legal Remedies, 3rd
25-27, 39, 50, 51, 59, 76, 80-81, 92, 94, 95, 107, 120, ed., sec. 431]."cralaw virtua1aw library
122, 123.
Thus, in said case, this Court recognized the relator
g] Administrative Orders Nos.: 347, 348, 352-354, Lope Severino, a private individual, as a proper party
360-378, 380-433, 436-439. to the mandamus proceedings brought to compel
the Governor General to call a special election for
The respondents, through the Solicitor General, the position of municipal president in the town of
would have this case dismissed outright on the Silay, Negros Occidental. Speaking for this Court, Mr.
ground that petitioners have no legal personality or Justice Grant T. Trent said:chanrobles virtual
standing to bring the instant petition. The view is "We are therefore of the opinion that the weight of
authority supports the proposition that the relator is the fact of publication. Considered in the light of
a proper party to proceedings of this character when other statutes applicable to the issue at hand, the
a public right is sought to be enforced. If the general conclusion is easily reached that said Article 2 does
rule in America were otherwise, we think that it not preclude the requirement of publication in the
would not be applicable to the case at bar for the Official Gazette, even if the law itself provides for
reason that it is always dangerous to apply a general the date of its effectivity. Thus, Section 1 of
rule to a particular case without keeping in mind the Commonwealth Act 638 provides as follows:
reason for the rule, because, if under the particular
circumstances the reason for the rule does not exist, "Section 1. There shall be published in the Official
the rule itself is not applicable and reliance upon the Gazette [1] all important legislative acts and
rule may well lead to error. resolutions of a public nature of the Congress of the
Philippines; [2] all executive and administrative
"No reason exists in the case at bar for applying the orders and proclamations, except such as have no
general rule insisted upon by counsel for general applicability; [3] decisions or abstracts of
the Respondent. The circumstances which surround decisions of the Supreme Court and the Court of
this case are different from those in the United Appeals as may be deemed by said courts of
States, inasmuch as if the relator is not a proper sufficient importance to be so published; [4] such
party to these proceedings no other person could documents or classes of documents as may be
be, as we have seen that it is not the duty of the law required so to be published by law; and [5] such
officer of the Government to appear and represent documents or classes of documents as the President
the people in cases of this character."cralaw of the Philippines shall determine from time to time
virtua1aw library to have general applicability and legal effect, or
The reasons given by the Court in recognizing a which he may authorize so to be published. . .
private citizens legal personality in the ."cralaw virtua1aw library
aforementioned case apply squarely to the present The clear object of the above quoted provision is to
petition. Clearly, the right sought to be enforced by give the general public adequate notice of the
petitioners herein is a public right recognized by no various laws which are to regulate their actions and
less than the fundamental law of the land. If conduct as citizens. Without such notice and
petitioners were not allowed to institute this publication, there would be no basis for the
proceeding, it would indeed be difficult to conceive application of the maxim "ignorantia legis non
of any other person to initiate the same, considering excusat." It would be the height of injustice to
that the Solicitor General, the government officer punish or otherwise burden a citizen for the
generally empowered to represent the people, has transgression of a law of which he had no notice
entered his appearance for respondents in this case. whatsoever, not even a constructive one.chanrobles
virtual
Respondents further contend that publication in the Perhaps at no time since the establishment of the
Official Gazette is not a sine qua non requirement Philippine Republic has the publication of laws taken
for the effectivity of laws where the laws themselves so vital significance that at this time when the
provide for their own effectivity dates. It is thus people have bestowed upon the President a power
submitted that since the presidential issuances in heretofore enjoyed solely by the legislature. While
question contain special provisions as to the date the people are kept abreast by the mass media of
they are to take effect, publication in the Official the debates and deliberations in the Batasan
Gazette is not indispensable for their effectivity. The Pambansa and for the diligent ones, ready access
point stressed is anchored on Article 2 of the Civil to the legislative records no such publicity
Code:jgc: accompanies the law-making process of the
President. Thus, without publication, the people
"Art. 2. Laws shall take effect after fifteen days have no means of knowing what presidential
following the completion of their publication in the decrees have actually been promulgated, much less
Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided, . . a definite way of informing themselves of the
."cralaw virtua1aw library specific contents and texts of such decrees. As the
Supreme Court of Spain ruled: "Bajo la
The interpretation given by respondent is in accord denominacion genrica de leyes, se comprenden
with this Courts construction of said article. In a tambin los reglamentos, Reales decretos,
long line of decisions, 4 this Court has ruled that Instrucciones, Circulares y Reales ordines dictadas de
publication in the Official Gazette is necessary in conformidad con las mismas por el Gobierno en uso
those cases where the legislation itself does not de su potestad." 5
provide for its effectivity date for then the date of
publication is material for determining its date of The very first clause of Section 1 of Commonwealth
effectivity, which is the fifteenth day following its Act 638 reads: "There shall be published in the
publication but not when the law itself provides Official Gazette . . ." The word "shall" used therein
for the date when it goes into effect. imposes upon respondent officials an imperative
duty. That duty must be enforced if the
Respondents argument, however, is logically correct Constitutional right of the people to be informed on
only insofar as it equates the effectivity of laws with matters of public concern is to be given substance
and reality. The law itself makes a list of what should ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new
be published in the official Gazette. Such listing, to judicial declaration. The effect of the subsequent
our mind, leaves respondents with no discretion ruling as to invalidity may have to be considered in
whatsoever as to what must be included or excluded various aspects with respect to particular
from such publication. conduct, private and official. Questions of rights
claimed to have become vested, of status, of prior
The publication of all presidential issuances "of a determinations deemed to have finality and acted
public nature" or "of general applicability" is upon accordingly, of public policy in the light of the
mandated by law. Obviously, presidential decrees nature both of the statute and of its previous
that provide for fines, forfeitures or penalties for application, demand examination. These questions
their violation or otherwise impose a burden on the are among the most difficult of those which have
people, such as tax and revenue measures, fall engaged the attention of courts, state and federal,
within this category. Other presidential issuances and it is manifest from numerous decisions that an
which apply only to particular persons or class of all-inclusive statement of a principle of absolute
persons such as administrative and executive orders retroactive invalidity cannot be justified."cralaw
need not be published on the assumption that they virtua1aw library
have been circularized to all concerned. 6 Consistently with the above principle, this Court in
Rutter v. Esteban 9 sustained the right of a party
It is needless to add that the publication of under the Moratorium Law, albeit said right had
presidential issuances "of a public nature" or "of accrued in his favor before said law was declared
general applicability" is a requirement of due unconstitutional by this Court.
process. It is a rule of law that before a person may
be bound by law, he must first be officially and Similarly, the implementation/enforcement of
specifically informed of its contents. As Justice presidential decrees prior to their publication in the
Claudio Teehankee said in Peralta v. COMELEC 7 Official Gazette is "an operative fact which may have
:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph consequences which cannot be justly ignored. The
"In a time of proliferating decrees, orders and letters past cannot always be erased by a new judicial
of instructions which all form part of the law of the declaration . . . that an all-inclusive statement of a
land, the requirement of due process and the Rule of principle of absolute retroactive invalidity cannot be
Law demand that the Official Gazette as the official justified."cralaw virtua1aw library
government repository promulgate and publish the
texts of all such decrees, orders and instructions so From the report submitted to the Court by the Clerk
that the people may know where to obtain their of Court, it appears that of the presidential decrees
official and specific contents."cralaw virtua1aw sought by petitioners to be published in the Official
library Gazette, only Presidential Decrees Nos. 1019 to
The Court therefore declares that presidential 1030, inclusive, 1278, and 1937 to 1939, inclusive,
issuances of general application, which have not have not been so published. 10 Neither the subject
been published, shall have no force and effect. Some matters nor the texts of these PDs can be
members of the Court, quite apprehensive about the ascertained since no copies thereof are available.
possible unsettling effect this decision might have on But whatever their subject matter may be, it is
acts done in reliance of the validity of those undisputed that none of these unpublished PDs has
presidential decrees which were published only ever been implemented or enforced by the
during the pendency of this petition, have put the government. In Pesigan v. Angeles, 11 the Court,
question as to whether the Courts declaration of through Justice Ramon Aquino, ruled that
invalidity apply to P.D.s which had been enforced or "publication is necessary to apprise the public of the
implemented prior to their publication. The answer contents of [penal] regulations and make the said
is all too familiar. In similar situations in the past this penalties binding on the persons affected thereby."
Court had taken the pragmatic and realistic course The cogency of this holding is apparently recognized
set forth in Chicot County Drainage District v. Baxter by respondent officials considering the
Bank 8 to wit:chanrobles virtualawlibrary manifestation in their comment that "the
chanrobles.com:chanrobles.com.ph government, as a matter of policy, refrains from
"The courts below have proceeded on the theory prosecuting violations of criminal laws until the same
that the Act of Congress, having been found to be shall have been published in the Official Gazette or
unconstitutional, was not a law; that it was in some other publication, even though some
inoperative, conferring no rights and imposing no criminal laws provide that they shall take effect
duties, and hence affording no basis for the immediately."cralaw virtua1aw library
challenged decree. Norton v. Shelby County, 118
U.S. 425, 442; Chicago, I. & L. Ry. Co. v. Hackett, 228 WHEREFORE, the Court hereby orders respondents
U.S. 559, 566. It is quite clear, however, that such to publish in the Official Gazette all unpublished
broad statements as to the effect of a determination presidential issuances which are of general
of unconstitutionality must be taken with application, and unless so published, they shall have
qualifications. The actual existence of a statute, prior no binding force and effect.
to such a determination, is an operative fact and
may have consequences which cannot justly be SO ORDERED