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DOCTRINE OF INCORPORATION

The courts have applied the rules of international law in a number of cases even if such rules had
not previously been subject of statutory enactments, because these generally accepted principles of
international law are automatically part of our own laws.( Sec. 2 Article II of the Constitution)

It means that the rules of International law form part of the law of the land and no legislative
action is required to make them applicable in a country. By this doctrine, the Philippines is bound
by generally accepted principles of international law, which are considered to be automatically
part of our own laws. (Tañada v. Angara, G.R. No. 118295, May 2, 1997)

The doctrine of incorporation is applied whenever municipal tribunals (or local courts) are
confronted with situations in which there appears to be a conflict between a rule of international
law and the provisions of the Constitution or statute of the local state. Efforts should first be
exerted to harmonize them, so as to give effect to both since it is to be presumed that municipal
law was enacted with proper regard for the generally accepted principles of international law in
observance of the Incorporation Clause in Section 2, Article II of the Constitution. In a situation
however, where the conflict is irreconcilable and a choice has to be made between a rule of
international law and municipal law, jurisprudence dictates that municipal law should be upheld
by the municipal courts for the reason that such courts are organs of municipal law and are
accordingly bound by it in all circumstances. The fact that international law has been made part of
the law of the land does not pertain to or imply the primacy of international law over national or
municipal law in the municipal sphere. The doctrine of incorporation, as applied in most
countries, decrees that rules of international law are given equal standing with, but are not superior
to, national legislative enactments. Accordingly, the principle of lex posterior derogat priori takes
effect – a treaty may repeal a statute and a statute may repeal a treaty. In states where the
Constitution is the highest law of the land, such as the Republic of the Philippines, both statutes
and treaties may be invalidated if they are in conflict with the Constitution. (Secretary of Justice
v. Lantion, G.R. No. 139465, January 18, 2000)

BAR QUESTION (2000)


The Philippines has become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and resultantly
agreed that it "shall ensure the conformity of its laws, regulations and administrative procedures
with its obligations as provided in the annexed Agreements." This is assailed as unconstitutional
because this undertaking unduly limits, restricts and impairs Philippine sovereignty and means
among others that Congress could not pass legislation that will be good for our national interest
and general welfare if such legislation will not conform with the WTO Agreements. Refute this
argument. (5%)

ANSWER: According to Tanada v. Angara, 272 SCRA 18 (1997), the sovereignty of the
Philippines is subject to restriction by its membership in the family of nations and the limitations
imposed of treaty limitations. Section 2. Article II of the Constitution adopts the generally
accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land. One of such principles is
pacta sunt servanda. The Constitution did not envision a hermit-like isolation of the country from
the rest of the world.