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STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

(A Compendium from the books of Rodriguez, Martin and Agpalo)

CONCEPTS AND GENERAL PRINCIPLES

Chapter 2
INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

INTERPRETATION
- is the art of finding the true sense and meaning of word/s without going beyond the
context of the statute.
- Interpretation utilizes intrinsic aids (those present in the law itself), which are as
follows:

a. Title- expresses the subject matter of the law

b. Preamble- states the reasons and objectives of the enactment

c. Punctuation- may be used as an additional argument for adopting the literal


meaning of the words thus punctuated but can never control against the
intelligible meaning of a written word.
- it is an aid of low degree in interpreting the language of a statute
and can never control against the intelligible meaning of a written word.
However, if the punctuation of a statute gives it a meaning that is reasonable and
in apparent accord with the legislative will, it may be used as an additional
argument for adopting the literal meaning of the words thus punctuated.

d. Words, Phrases, Sentences and Context- the intention must primarily be


determined from the language of the statute and such language consist of the
words, phrases and sentence s used therein. The meaning of the law should,
however, be taken from the general consideration of the law as a whole and not
from any single part/portion or section or from isolated words, phrases and
sentences used.

e. Headings and Marginal Notes- determines the scope of the provisions and their
relation to other portions of the act, however, if the meaning of the statute or if its
text is clear, it will prevail as against the heading, if the latter has been prepared
by compilers and not the legislature.

f. Legislative Definition and Interpretation- definition of the legislature of the


words used in the stature and the construction to be placed thereon. The rules are
as follows:
- If a law provides that in case of doubt, it should be construed and
interpreted in a certain manner that the courts should follow such instructions.

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 1


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
-In case of conflict between the interpretation clauses and the legislative
meaning, as revealed by the statute when considered in its totality, the latter shall
prevail.
- A term is used throughout the statute in the same sense it is first defined.
- Legislative definition in similar terms on the statute maybe resolved to,
except, where a particular law expressly declares that its definition therein is
limited in application to the statutes in which they appear.

Note: the different parts of a statute are intrinsic aids

STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

1. DEFINITION:

STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION: It is the art or process of discovering and


expounding the meaning and intention of the authors of the law with respect to its
application in a given case, where the intention rendered doubtful by reason of the fact
that the given case is not explicitly provided for in the law. (Caltex vs. Palomar, 18 SCRA
247)
It is the art of seeking the intention of the authors of the law in enacting a statute
and applying to given set of facts.
The art or process of ascertaining the intention of the law-making body to resolve
ambiguity in the law or its part.
It is likewise defined as that branch of the law dealing with the interpretation of
laws enacted by a legislature.

Note: The legislature is presumed to know the rules of construction in enacting a


statute. The legislature enacts a law with the end in view that it will, in case of doubt, be
construed in accordance with settled principles and rules established by legal
hermeneutics.

Note: Only statutes with ambiguous or doubtful meaning may be the subject of statutory
construction.

EXEGESIS is the application of the principles and rules established by legal


hermeneutics.

AMBIGUITY

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 2


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
Ambiguity is doubtfulness, doubleness of meaning, indistinctness or uncertainty of
meaning of an expression used in a written instrument. (Black Law Dictionary, 4th Edition,
p.105)

It has been held that ambiguity does not only arise from the meaning of the particular
words but also from the general scope and meaning of the statute when all the provisions are
examined. There is also ambiguity when a literal interpretation of the words would lead to
unreasonable, unjust, or absurd consequences, or where a statute is in conflict with the
constitution, or where the statute would defeat the policy of the legislation. (Tarlac Development
Corporation vs. C.A., L-41012, September 30, 1976)

The judiciary interprets how legislation should apply in a particular case as no legislation
unambiguously and specifically addresses all matters.

Ambiguity may arise from various reasons. Some of which are the following:

 Words are imperfect symbols to communicate intent. They are ambiguous and change
in meaning over time.
 Unforeseen situations are inevitable, and new technologies and cultures make
application of existing laws difficult.
 Uncertainties may be added to the statute in the course of enactment, such as the
need for compromise or catering to special interest groups.

*The author/s of the law do not have the pre-science of the Delphic Oracle to look in the
future and predict what exactly is going to happen. The most that we can expect from
them is the use of their wisdom and experience in making a law and their honest,
reasonable and just intention in helping build and develop our society.

Therefore, the court must try to determine how a statute should be enforced. This requires
statutory construction. It is a tenet of statutory construction that the legislature is supreme
(assuming constitutionality) when creating law and that the court is merely an interpreter
of the law. In practice, by performing the construction the court can make sweeping changes in
the operation of the law.

RULE: ONLY STATUTES WITH AMBIGUOUS OR DOUBTFUL MEANING MAY BE THE


SUBJECTS OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION. When the law is clear all you have to do is to
apply the law.

LEGAL HERMENEUTICS
- It is the branch of science that establishes the principles and rules of interpretation
and construction of written laws.
- It is the branch of science /jurisprudence which establishes the principles and
rules of interpretation and construction of written laws.

*Hermeneutics- The science or art of construction and interpretation.

- Otherwise put, legal hermeneutics is the systematic body of rules which are
recognized as applicable to the construction and interpretation of legal writings.
(Black’s Legal Dictionary, Centennial ed. Quoted in Diaz, Stat. Con. 3rd Ed.,
2007 at page 11-12)
ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 3
Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
EXEGESIS
- The application of the principles and rules established by legal hermeneutics.

Statutory Construction Legal Hermeneutics Exegesis


Process. Branch of jurisprudence. Application of principles and
Seeking the intention using the Establish the principles and rules establish in legal
principles/procedures to be rules; knowing the procedures hermeneutics
able to interpret or construct
Goal: To ascertain the intention of the authors of the law.

Cardinal Rule on Statutory Construction


- Achieve the goal of the law- purpose of the law. (MENS LEGISLATORES)
- Ascertain the intention of the framers of the law.

Formula:

LAW + FACTS = DECISION or (L + F = D)

MAJOR PREMISE + MINOR PREMISE = CONCLUSION

Chapter 1
STATUTE, LAWS, BILLS

Statute- is an act of the legislature as an organized body; it is the written will of the legislature,
Expressed according to the form necessary to constitute it a law of the state and rendered
authentic by certain prescribed forms and solemnities.
Sometimes, the term is more broadly defined to include administrative regulations or any
enactment from whatever source originating, to which the state gives force of law.

Law- a rule of conduct or order of sequence which any being will not, ought not or cannot
deviate.
Elements: rule of conduct or order of sequence, non-deviation, and, consequence
(sanction - certain kind of force, legitimacy of authority)

Bill- is a proposed law; draft of a law submitted to the consideration of the legislative body for
adoption

Kinds of Bills
1. Appropriation Bill
- the primary and specific purpose is to authorize the release of funds from the
public treasury.
2. Revenue Bill
- one that levies taxes and raises funds for the government.
3. Tariff Bill
- one that specifies the rates or duties to be impose on imported articles.
4. Bill Increasing Public Debt
ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 4
Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
- one that authorizes the government to borrow money, either by borrowing from
external sources or offering bonds for public subscriptions.
5. Bill of Local Application
- one which is local in character like the creation of new town, city or province.
6. Private Bill
- one that will not operate directly for the public good but calculated to serve
goodwill (e.g. bills granting honorary membership).

HOW LAWS ARE MADE: (PROCEDURES)

 Research
 First Reading- any member of either house may present a bill, signed by him and
reference to the proper committee; principal author may propose the inclusions; the bill is
read by its title number and name/s of author/s.
 Referral to the Appropriate Committee- if disapproved, the bill dies a natural
death unless the House decides otherwise following the submission of the report.

 Second Reading- the entire bill is read. Debates ensue and changes and amendments are
inserted. The bill is then printed and distributed to all the members of congress. If favored
the bill is forwarded to the Committee on Rules.

 Third Reading- only the title of the bill is read; voting takes place; majority is sufficient
to pass the bill

 Referral to the Other House- the same procedure takes place


 Submission to Joint Bicameral Committee
 Enrolled Bill/Journal

 Submission to the President

Three (3) ways when a bill becomes a law:


1. The President approves the enrolled bill
2. Overriding of veto
3. Non-action of the president

Different Kinds of Statutes:


1. As to Nature
- Penal Statutes
- Remedial Statutes D’ Dencio’s Code
- Substantive Statutes N- ature
- Labor Statutes A- pplication
- Tax Statutes P- erformance
S- cope
2. As to Application O- ther
- Mandatory classification
- Directory

3. As to Performance
- Permanent
- Temporary

4. As to Scope
- General
- Special

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 5


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
5. Other Classification
- A statute could either be prospective or retroactive
- A statute could either be repealing act or an amendatory
- A statute could either be reference statute or a declaratory statute

FUNCTIONS OF LAW:

In general, it regulates human conduct; promotion of the common good


i. Defines the rights and duties of citizens
ii. Imposes taxes
iii. Appropriate funds
iv. Defines crimes and provides for their punishment
v. Creates and abolishes government offices; determines their jurisdiction and
functions

PARTS OF A LAW:

1. TITLE- gives a general statement of, and calls attention to the subject matter of an act so that
legislators and the public maybe appraised of the subject matter of the legislation, and be
put upon inquiry regarding thereto.
- That which expresses the subject matter of the law. It can help in the construction
(interpretation) of statutes but it is not controlling and not entitled to much weight.

2. PREAMBLE- is the part of the statute following the title and preceding the enacting clause,
which states the reasons for or the objective of the enactment. It cannot enlarge or confer powers,
or cure inherent defects in the statute.
Points to remember:
- A preamble does not create a right nor does it grant any right
- It is not a source of government power
- It is not an essential part of a statute

3. ENACTING CLAUSE- the part which indicates the authority which promulgated the
enactment. The enacting clause is not essential to the validity of the law but this clause
cloth the statue with certain dignity because the specific authority that promulgated the
law is therein stated.

4. BODY- it contains the subject matter of the statute. The body of the statue should
embrace only one subject matter as required by the Constitution.

5. EXCEPTION AND PROVISIONS- the part which acts as a restraint upon or as a


qualification of the generality of the language which it follows.

6. INTERPRETATIVE CLAUSE- the part of the statute where the legislature defines its own
language and prescribes rules for its construction.

7. REPEALING CLAUSE- the part which announces the legislative intent to terminate, revoke
or repeal another statute/s.

8. SAVING CLAUSE- the part which restricts the repealing act and preserves existing powers,
rights pending proceeding from the effect of the repeal.

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 6


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
9. SEPARABILITY CLAUSE- it is a clause which states that for any reason, any section or
provisions of the statute is held to be unconstitutional or revoked, the other section or
provision of the law shall not be affected.

Points to remember:
- A separability clause creates a presumption that the legislature intended a separability
rather than complete nullity of the statute. This means that if one part of the statute is
void or unconstitutional, the other parts, which are valid may still stand. This is the
GENERAL rule.
- The general rule, however, is subject to the limitation that if the part of the statute are so
mutually dependent and connected thereby creating a belief that the legislature intended
them as a whole, the nullity or constitutionality of one part may violate the rest.

10. DATE OF EFFECTIVITY- specifies the date and time when the law takes effect.

SOURCES OF LAW:
 Constitution
 Statute enacted by Congress
 Decrees issued under the 1973 Constitution
 Decision of Courts

The Three (3) Branches of Government

1. EXECUTIVE
- vested in the president; administer laws, carrying them into practical operation and
enforcing their due observance

2. LEGISLATIVE
- power to make, alter or repeal laws
- vested in a bicameral Congress

3. JUDICIARY
- power to interpret and apply the laws
- vested in one Supreme Court and such lower courts as may be established by law

PRINCIPLES:
 Check and Balance (maintain equilibrium)
-Lawmaking power of Congress subject to veto power of the president, which in turn
may be overridden (avoid hasty and improvident legislation, i.e. Hodgepodge and log-
rolling legislation)
-Congress may refuse to give concurrence to an amnesty granted or treaty entered into by
the president
-Judicial review

 Separation of Powers- The purpose is to prevent the concentration of authority in one person
or group that might lead to an irreversible error or abuse in its exercise. (Absolute power
corrupts absolutely.)
Justice Laurel:
“To secure action, to forestall over action, to prevent despotism (absolute power)
and to obtain efficiency”
ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 7
Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
Constitution:
The three branches are entrusted with each of their powers are not permitted to
encroach upon the powers of confided to the others.
 Non-delegation of Powers
- What has been delegated cannot be delegated.
- Delegated power constitutes not only a right but also a duty to be performed by the
delegate through the instrumentality of his own judgement.

a.) Completeness Test


Laws must be complete in all its essential terms and conditions so that
there will be nothing left for the delegate to except to enforce it.
b.) Sufficiency of Standard Test
Indicates the circumstances which the policies are to be pursued and
implemented. Limits and provides parameters of discretion; purpose is to prevent
total transference of legislative power from the law-making body to the delegate.

THE POWER OF THE JUDICIARY TO INTERPRET

The judiciary interprets how legislation should apply in a particular case as no legislation
unambiguously and specifically addresses all matters.

Legislation may contain uncertainties for a variety of reasons:

 Words are imperfect symbols to communicate intent. They are ambiguous and change
in meaning over time.
 Unforeseen situations are inevitable, and new technologies and cultures make
application of existing laws difficult.
 Uncertainties may be added to the statute in the course of enactment, such as the
need for compromise or catering to special interest groups.

Therefore, the court must try to determine how a statute should be enforced. This requires
statutory construction. It is a tenet of statutory construction that the legislature is supreme
(assuming constitutionality) when creating law and that the court is merely an interpreter
of the law. In practice, by performing the construction the court can make sweeping changes in
the operation of the law.

CONFLICTS BETWEEN SOURCES OF LAW

Where legislation and case law are in conflict, there is a presumption that legislation takes
precedence insofar as there is any inconsistency. In the United Kingdom this principle is known
as Parliamentary Sovereignty. In Australia and in the United States, the courts have
consistently stated that the text of the statute is used first, and it is read as it is written, using the
ordinary meaning of the words of the statute.

 "[I]n interpreting a statute a court should always turn to one cardinal canon before
all others. . . .[C]ourts must presume that a legislature says in a statute what it
means and means in a statute what it says there." Connecticut Nat'l Bank v. Germain,
112 S. Ct. 1146, 1149 (1992). Indeed, "when the words of a statute are unambiguous,
then, this first canon is also the last: 'judicial inquiry is complete.'"[1]

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 8


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
 "A fundamental rule of statutory construction requires that every part of a statute be
presumed to have some effect, and not be treated as meaningless unless absolutely
necessary." Raven Coal Corp. v. Absher, 153 Va. 332, 149 S.E. 541 (1929).
 "In assessing statutory language, unless words have acquired a peculiar meaning, by
virtue of statutory definition or judicial construction, they are to be construed in
accordance with their common usage." Muller v. BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., 923
P.2d 783, 787-88 (Alaska 1996);
 "The principal command of statutory construction is that the court should
determine and effectuate the intent of the legislature using the plain language of the
statute as the primary indicator of legislative intent." State v. Ogden, 118 N.M. 234,
242, 880 P.2d 845, 853 (1994) “The words of a statute . . . should be given their
ordinary meaning, absent clear and express legislative intention to the contrary,” as
long as the ordinary meaning does “not render the statute’s application absurd,
unreasonable, or unjust.” State v. Rowell, 121 N.M. 111, 114, 908 P.2d 1379, 1382
(1995) When the meaning of a statute is unclear or ambiguous, we have recognized that it
is “the high duty and responsibility of the judicial branch of government to facilitate
and promote the legislature’s accomplishment of its purpose.” State ex rel. Helman v.
Gallegos, 117 N.M. 346, 353, 871 P.2d 1352, 1359 (1994). - New Mexico v. Juan, 2010-
NMSC-041, August 9, 2010

Federal jurisdictions may presume that either federal or local government authority prevails in
the absence of a defined rule. In Canada, there are areas of law where provincial governments
and the federal government have concurrent jurisdiction. In these cases the federal law is held to
be paramount. However, in areas where the Canadian constitution is silent, the federal
government does not necessarily have superior jurisdiction. Rather, an area of law that is not
expressly mentioned in Canada's Constitution will have to be interpreted to fall under either the
federal residual jurisdiction found in s. 91 -- known as the Peace, Order and Good Government
clause -- or the provinces residual jurisdiction of "Property and Civil Rights" under s. 92(10) of
the 1867 Constitution Act. This contrasts with other federal jurisdictions, notably the United
States and Australia, where it is presumed that if legislation is not enacted pursuant to a specific
provision of the federal Constitution, the states will have authority over the relevant matter in
their respective jurisdictions.

Internal and external consistency (note- copied in presumption against


inconsistency)

It is presumed that a statute will be interpreted so as to be internally consistent. A particular


section of the statute shall not be divorced from the rest of the act. The ejusdem generis (Latin
for "of the same kind") rule applies to resolve the problem of giving meaning to groups of words
where one of the words is ambiguous or inherently unclear. The rule results that where "general
words follow enumerations of particular classes or persons or things, the general words shall be
construed as applicable only to persons or things of the same general nature or kind as those
enumerated." 49 F. Supp. 846, 859. Thus, in a statute forbidding the concealment on one's
person of "pistols, revolvers, derringers, or other dangerous weapons," the term "dangerous
weapons" may be construed to comprehend only dangerous weapons of the kind enumerated,
i.e., firearms, or perhaps more narrowly still, handguns. Here, the term "dangerous weapons"
must be given a meaning of the "same kind" as the word of established meaning.

A statute shall not be interpreted so as to be inconsistent with other statutes. Where there is
an inconsistency, the judiciary will attempt to provide a harmonious interpretation.

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 9


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
Statements of the legislature

Legislative bodies themselves may try to influence or assist the courts in interpreting their laws
by placing into the legislation itself statements to that effect. These provisions have many
different names, but are typically noted as:

 Findings;
 Declarations, sometimes suffixed with of Policy or of Intent; or
 Sense of Congress, or of either house in multi-chamber bodies.

These provisions of the bill simply give the legislature's goals and desired effects of the law, and
are considered non-substantive and non-enforceable in and of themselves.[2][3]

CHAPTER 1
INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

Rule: In determining the intention of the legislature, courts should resort first to interpretation
(using intrinsic aids) before resorting to construction (using extrinsic aids).
Nothing wrong if we use the two methods at the same time- since both of them
are resorted to for the same purpose- ascertain the intention of the authors of the law.

Reason: SPEECH IS THE INDEX OF INTENTION

TWO PROCESSES OF ASCERTAINING THE INTENTION OF THE LEGISLATURE

A) INTERPRETATION
B) CONSTRUCTION

These two processes, interpretation and construction, have the same object or purpose
and that is: ascertaining the intent of the legislature.

The cardinal rule in the interpretation of all laws is to ascertain, and give effect to the
intent of the law (Agpalo, page 107)

The purpose of all rules or maxim is to discover the true intention of the law. They are
only valuable when they sub-serve this purpose. (City of Baguio vs. Marcos, GR No.
26100, February 28, 1969, 27 SCRA 342; 82 CJS page 526)

In determining the intention of the legislature, courts should resort first to intrinsic aid
before resorting to extrinsic aid.

I. INTERPRETATION- the act or process of ascertaining the intention of the author/s of


the law using intrinsic aid.

- is the art of finding the true sense and meaning of word/s without going beyond the
context of the statute.

The process of discovering the true meaning of the language used. It is limited to
exploring the written text.
ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 10
Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
*The court resorts to interpretation when it seeks to ascertain the meaning of a word
found in a statute because such word, when considered with other words used in the statute
may reveal a meaning different from that which seemed apparent when such word is
considered abstractly, when given its usual meaning, or apart from the rest of the text.
(viewed in isolation)

It is the art of finding the true sense and meaning of word/s without going beyond the
context of the statute. It utilizes intrinsic aids (those found in the law itself) e.g. manner in
which the words were written or arranged, punctuations etc. .

INTRINSIC AID – those found in the statute itself

- Interpretation utilizes intrinsic aids (those present in the law itself), which are as
follows:

a. Title- expresses the subject matter of the law

b. Preamble- states the reasons and objectives of the enactment

c. Punctuation- may be used as an additional argument for adopting the literal


meaning of the words thus punctuated but can never control against the
intelligible meaning of a written word.
- it is an aid of low degree in interpreting the language of a statute
and can never control against the intelligible meaning of a written word.
However, if the punctuation of a statute gives it a meaning that is reasonable and
in apparent accord with the legislative will, it may be used as an additional
argument for adopting the literal meaning of the words thus punctuated.

d. Words, Phrases, Sentences and Context- the intention must primarily be


determined from the language of the statute and such language consist of the
words, phrases and sentence s used therein. The meaning of the law should,
however, be taken from the general consideration of the law as a whole and not
from any single part/portion or section or from isolated words, phrases and
sentences used.

e. Headings and Marginal Notes- determines the scope of the provisions and their
relation to other portions of the act, however, if the meaning of the statute or if its
text is clear, it will prevail as against the heading, if the latter has been prepared
by compilers and not the legislature.

f. Legislative Definition and Interpretation- definition of the legislature of the


words used in the stature and the construction to be placed thereon. The rules are
as follows:
- If a law provides that in case of doubt, it should be construed and
interpreted in a certain manner that the courts should follow such instructions.
-In case of conflict between the interpretation clauses and the legislative
meaning, as revealed by the statute when considered in its totality, the latter shall
prevail.
- A term is used throughout the statute in the same sense it is first defined.
- Legislative definition in similar terms on the statute maybe resolved to,
except, where a particular law expressly declares that its definition therein is
limited in application to the statutes in which they appear.

Note: the different parts of a statute are intrinsic aids

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 11


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
DIFFERENT PARTS OF A LAW:

Note: the different parts of a statute are intrinsic aids

A) TITLE: That part of the statute which gives a general statement of, and calls attention to,
the subject matter of an act, so that the legislators and the public may be appraised of the
subject matter of the legislation, and be put upon inquiry in regard thereto.
It expresses the subject matter of the law
It can help in the construction of statutes but it is not controlling and not entitled to much
Weight

B) PREAMBLE: it is that part of the statute following the tile preceding the enacting clause
which states the reason for, or the object of the statute.
Preamble- that part of the statute following the title and preceding the enacting clause
which state the reason or objectives of the enactment . It cannot enlarge or confer
powers, or cure inherent defects in the statutes.
- states the reasons and objectives of the enactment.

It is that part of statute explaining the reasons for its enactment and the objects sought to
be accomplished. Usually it starts with the word “whereas”. Generally, a preamble is a
declaration by the legislature of the reasons for the passage of the statute and is helpful in
the interpretation of any ambiguities within the statute which it is prefixed (People vs.
Purisima, 86 SCRA 542)

Points to remember:

(i) A preamble does not create a right nor does it grant any right.

(ii) It is not a source of government power.

(iii) It is not an essential part of the statute.

C) Words, Phrases and Sentences, Context- The intention of the legislature must primarily
be determined from the language of the statute and such language consist of the words,
phrases and sentences used therein. The meaning of the law should , however, be taken
from the general consideration of the law as a whole and not from any single part, portion
or section or from isolated words and phrases, clauses, or sentences used.
D) Punctuation – It is an aid of low degree in interpreting the language of a statute and can
never control against the intelligible meaning of a written word. However, if the
punctuation of a statute gives it a meaning that is reasonable and in apparent accord with
the legislative will, it may be used as an additional argument for adopting the literal
meaning of the word thus punctuated.
Implicit here is the presumption that the legislature knows the language it used, its rules
on grammar and the specific function of punctuation marks thus used.
It may be used as an additional argument for adopting the literal meaning of the words thus
punctuated but can never control against the intelligible meaning of a written word.
It is an aid of low degree in interpreting the language of a statute and can never control against
the intelligible meaning of a written word. However, if the punctuation of a statute gives it a
meaning that is reasonable and in apparent accord with the legislative will, it may be used as an
additional argument for adopting the literal meaning of the words thus punctuated.

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 12


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
E) Headings and Marginal Notes – If the meaning of the statute is clear of is the text of the
statute is clear, they will prevail as against the headings, specially is the headings have
been prepared by compilers and not by the legislature.
It determines the scope of the provisions and their relation to other portions of the act,
however, if the meaning of the statute or if its text is clear, it will prevail as against the
heading, if the latter has been prepared by compilers and not the legislature.
F) Body – It contains the subject matter of the statute. The body of the statute should
embrace only one subject matter expressed in the Title as required by the Constitution .
It is the main operative part of the statute containing its substantive and even procedural
provisions. Provisos and exceptions may also be found in the body of the statute. (Diaz,
page 21)

In particular statutes may have these:

G) Enacting clause- It is that part of the statute which indicate the authority which
promulgated the enactment.

The enacting clause is not essential to the validity of the law but this clause
clothes the statute with a certain dignity because the specific authority that promulgated
the law is therein stated.

“Be enacted” is the usual formula to start this clause.

H) Body – It contains the subject matter of the statute. The body of the statute should
embrace only one subject matter expressed in the Title as required by the Constitution .
It is the main operative part of the statute containing its substantive and even procedural
provisions. Provisos and exceptions may also be found in the body of the statute. (Diaz,
page 21)

I) Exceptions and Provisos- It is a clause added to an enactment for the purpose of acting as
restraint upon or as qualification of, the generality of the language it follows.

J) Interpretative clause – That part of the statute where the legislature defines its own
language or prescribes rules for its construction.

Legislative Definition and Interpretation – If the legislature have defined the word/s used
in a statute and has declared the construction to be places thereon, such definition or
construction should be followed by the courts.
The rules are as follows:

i)If a law provides that in case of doubt it should be construed and interpreted in a
certain manner, the court should follow such an instruction. This is part of the law
making power of the legislature and should not be regarded as part of the power of
other department to interpret (Judiciary). This may be found in the interpretative
clause of the law. Example of the manner of construction -Art. 4 of the Labor Code

“Art. 4. Construction in favor of Labor – All doubts in the


implementation and interpretation of this Code, including its implementing rules
and regulations, shall be resolved in favour of labor.”

ii) in case of conflict between the interpretation clauses and the legislative meaning,
as revealed by the statute when considered in its totality, the latter shall prevail.

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 13


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
iii) A term is used throughout the statute in the same sense in which it was first
defined unless it can be shown that it is being used in a different context in the
succeeding part of the law.

iv) Legislative definition of similar terms on the statute may be resorted to except
where a particular law expressly declares that its definition therein is limited in
application to the statutes in which they appear.

definition of the legislature of the words used in the stature and the construction to
be placed thereon. The rules are as follows:
- If a law provides that in case of doubt, it should be construed and
interpreted in a certain manner that the courts should follow such instructions.
-In case of conflict between the interpretation clauses and the legislative
meaning, as revealed by the statute when considered in its totality, the latter shall
prevail.
- A term is used throughout the statute in the same sense it is first defined.
- Legislative definition in similar terms on the statute maybe resolved to,
except, where a particular law expressly declares that its definition therein is
limited in application to the statutes in which they appear.

K) Repealing clause – That part of the statute which announces the legislative intent to
terminate or revoke another statute or statutes
That part of the statute which announces the prior statutes or specific provisions which
have been abrogated by reason of the enactment of the new law. (Diaz, page 21)
L) Saving clause – This restrict a repealing act and preserves existing powers, rights and
pending proceedings from the effect of the repeal.
A restriction in a repealing act which is intended to save rights, proceeding, penalties,
etc., from the annihilation which would result from an unrestricted repeal. (Diaz, page
21)
M) Separability clause – It is a clause which states that if for any reason any section or
provision of the statute is held to be unconstitutional or revoked, the other section or
provision of the law shall not be affected thereby.
That part of the statute which provides or shows the intention of the legislature that in
the event that one or more provisions of the law are nullified, declared void or
unconstitutional , the remaining provisions which can stand by themselves without the
nullified parts, shall still be in force. (Diaz, page 21)
Points to remember:
(i) A separability clause creates a presumption that the legislature intended separability
rather than complete nullity of the statute. This means that is one part of the statute is
void or unconstitutional, the other parts thereof which are valid may still stand.

(ii) This general rule, however, is subject to the limitation that if the part of the statute are
so mutually dependent and connected thereby creating a belief that the legislature
intended them as a whole, the nullity or unconstitutionality of one part may vitiate the
rest.

N) Effectivity clause – That part of the statute which announces the time or date when the
law will become effective.
Note: Difference between the “effectivity of the law” (Tanada vs. Tuvera) from “ when a
bill becomes a law”.

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 14


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
II. CONSTRUCTION - the act or process of ascertaining the intention of the author/s
of the law employing extrinsic aid.

It is the drawing of conclusions with respect to subject that are beyond the direct expression
of the text from elements known and given in the text (Diaz, page 2);

Construction is the drawing of warranted conclusion respecting subjects that lie beyond the
direct expression of the text; conclusions which are in the spirit, though not within the letter of
the text. (Agpalo, page 104)

EXTRINSIC AIDS – those found outside the written language of the law. Extrinsic aid can
only be resorted to after intrinsic aid have been used and exhausted.

- Extraneous facts, circumstances of means of explanation resorted to for the purpose of


determining the legislative intent.
- drawing conclusions respecting subjects that lie beyond the direct expression of the text.
- It can only be resorted when intrinsic aids have been used and exhausted.

CONSDTRUCTION utilizes extrinsic aids, which are as follows:

a. Contemporaneous Circumstances- conditions existing at the time the law was


enacted; previous state of the law; evils sought to be prevented; customs and
usages of the people. (these circumstances constitute the reason why the law was
enacted)

b. Policy- the general policy of the law or the settled policy of the state which
induced the enactment may enlighten the interpreter of the laws as to the intention
of the legislature enacting the same.

c. Legislative History of the State- may be found in the reports of the legislative
committees in the transcript of stenographic notes taken during hearings,
investigation and debates.
ERECTORS INC. Vs. NLRC, HON. JULIO ANDRES JR and
FLORENCIO BURGOS (GR NO. 104215, MAY 8, 1996)- intention because of
amendments.
d. Contemporaneous and Practical Construction- those who lived near or at the
time when the law was enacted were more acquainted of the conditions why the
law was enacted. Their understanding and application of the law, especially if the
same has been construed by the judicial tribunals and legal profession, deserve to
be considered by the courts.

e. Executive Construction- deserves great weight and should be respected if said


construction has been formed and observed for a long period of time. The rules to
remember are as follows:
- Congress is deemed to have been aware of the contemporaneous and
practical construction made by the officers charged with the administration of and
enforcement of the law.
- The court should respect that contemporaneous construction except if it
is clearly erroneous.
- Executive construction has more weight if it is rendered by the Chief
Legal Adviser of the government who can issue opinions to assist various
departments of the government charged with the duty to administer the law.
- The opinion, however, by the Chief Legal Adviser is subservient to the
ruling of the judiciary which is in charge of applying and interpreting the laws.
ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 15
Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
f. Legislative Construction- entitled to consideration and great weight but cannot
control against the court’s prerogative to decide on what is wrong and right
interpretation.

g. Judicial Construction- it is presumed that statues were enacted in the light of


judicial construction that the prior enactment had received.
- it is presumed that the legislature was acquainted with
and had in mind the judicial construction of former statute on the subject.
- with respect to a statute adopted from another state, it is
presumed that it was adopted with the construction placed upon it by the court of that
state but this construction should only be followed if it is reasonable, in harmony with
justice and public policy and consistent with the local laws.
h. Construction by the Bar and Legal Commentators- it is presumed that the
meaning publicly given a statute by the members of the legal profession is a true
one and regarded as one that should not be lightly changed. The opinion and
commentaries of text writers and legal commentators , whether they are Filipinos
or foreigners, may also be consulted, as in fact they are oftentimes cited or made
as references in court decision.

(NOTE: Extrinsic aids are entitled to respect, consideration and weight but the
courts are at liberty to decide whether they are applicable or not to the case
brought before it for consideration.)

*Construction and Interpretation thus differ from each other, the former uses intrinsic aid
while the latter employs extrinsic aid. Both, however, have the same purpose - and that is to
ascertain and give effect to the legislative intent so you can use them at the same time. If not-
you must used intrinsic aid first before resorting to extrinsic aid because of the principle “speech
is the index of intention.”

PURPOSE – deals with the reason why the law was made, the remedy it seeks to achieve,
the mischief it seeks to prevent etc. It deals with the GOAL /OBJECTIVE of the law.

INTENTION – has something to do with the meaning and the when, how or to whom the
law will apply. It deals with the manner of APLLICATION of the law. Meaning of the word,
phrase, punctuations etc.

Relate to:
COMPLETENESS TEST
SUFFICENT STANDARD TEST

Rule: In determining the intention of the legislature, courts should resort first to
interpretation (intrinsic aid) before resorting to construction (extrinsic aid)

“WHEN THERE IS DOUBT INTERPRET AND WHEN EXHAUSTED CONSTRUCT”

Reason: SPEECH IS THE INDEX OF INTENTION ( INDEX ANIMI SERMO EST)

(Bustamante vs. NLRC , 265 SCRA 61,(1996).

PRACTICAL FORMULA IN STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 16


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
INTERPRETATION

Exegesis

Statutory Intrinsic Aids + LAW (Principle) = Conclusion


Intention of the
Construction CONSTRUCTION Authors of the Law
Exegesis

Extrinsic Aids + LAW (Principle) = Conclusion

INTRINSIC GUIDES
Use of Latin Maxims:
(See : CANONS- TEXTUAL)
LATIN MAXIMS ON CONSTRUCTION/INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND
PHRASES

A) VERBA LEGIS

Verba Legis (Plain Language Rule)


- If the statute is clear, plain and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal
meaning and applied without attempted interpretation.
- The language of the statute affords the best means of its exposition and
legislative intent must be determined primarily therefrom. It is the court’s duty to give the
statute the interpretation called for by its language. The court may not speculate as to the
probable intent of the legislature apart from the words. Popular clamor as to the
enforcement of a law adds nothing to, and detracts nothing from the duty of the court to
construe the law as it is. The law may sometimes be harsh, but if it is so written and
intended by the legislature, the courts have no recourse but to apply it.
(READ: Daoang vs. Municipal Judges of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, March 28, 1988,
159 SCRA 369)

Plain Meaning Rule

If the statute is clear, plain and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal meaning
and applied without interpretation. This is rule rests on the valid presumption that the words
employed by the legislature in a statute correctly express its intention or will and preclude the
court from construing it differently. The legislature is presumed to know the meaning of the
words, to have used words advisedly, and to have expressed its intent by use of such words as are
found in the statute.[1] It is also known as "verba legis".

Plain Meaning
When writing statutes, the legislature intends to use ordinary English words in their
ordinary senses. The United States Supreme Court discussed the plain meaning rule in Caminetti
v. United States, 242 U.S. 470 (1917), reasoning "[i]t is elementary that the meaning of a statute
must, in the first instance, be sought in the language in which the act is framed, and if that is
plain... the sole function of the courts is to enforce it according to its terms." And if a statute's
language is plain and clear, the Court further warned that "the duty of interpretation does not
arise, and the rules which are to aid doubtful meanings need no discussion."
VERBA LEGIS (Plain- meaning Rule)- if a statute is clear, plain and free from ambiguity, it
must be given its literal meaning and applied without attempted interpretation. This rule rest on

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 17


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
the presumption that the words employed by the legislature in a statute correctly expresses its
intent or will and thus, thus precluding the court from construing it differently.

The language of the statute affords the best means of its exposition and legislative intent
must be determined primarily therefrom. It is the duty of the court to give the statute the
interpretation its language calls for. The court is not to speculate as to the probable intent of the
legislature apart from the words. Popular clamor as to the enforcement of a law adds nothing to,
and detract nothing from the duty of the court to construe the law as it is. The law may
sometimes be harsh but if it is so written and intended by the legislature, the courts have no
recourse but to apply it. (DURA LEX SED LEX)

**Thus, where what is not clearly provided in the law is read into the law by construction
because it is more logical and wise, it will be to encroach upon legislative prerogative to define
the wisdom of the law, which is judicial legislation( Rizal Commercial Bank Corporation vs.
IAC , 320 SCRA 279, (1999).

Whether a statute is wise or expedient is not for the courts to determine. Court must
administer the law, not as they think it ought to be but as they find it and without regard to
consequences. (Director of Lands vs. Abaya, 63 Phil. 559, (1936).

1. National Federation of Labor vs. NLRC, 327 SCRA 158 (2000)

*The apparent presumption here is that the legislature is presumed to know the meaning
of the word, to have used it advisedly, and to have expressed its intent by the use of such
words as are found in the statute.(Aparri vs. CA, G.R. No. 30057, January 31, 1984)

RELATED LATIN MAXIMS :

a) VERBA LEGIS NON EST RECEDENDUM- from the words of the statute there
should be no departure.

Verba Legis Non Est Recedendum


- From the words of a statute there should be no departure.

b) OPTIMA STATULI INTERPRETATIX EST IPSUM STATUTUM- the best


interpreter of the statute is the statute itself.

c) ABSOLUTA SENTENTIA NON INDIGET- When the language of the law is clear,
no explanation of it is required.
Absolute Sentencia Expositore Non Indiget
- When the language of the law is clear, no explanation of it is required.

d) DURA LEX SED LEX – the law may be harsh but that is the law.

Dura Lex Sed Lex (The law may be harsh but it is the law.)
- The reason for the rule is that the legislature must be presumed to know the
meaning of the words, to have used the words advisedly and to have expressed its intent
by the use of such words as are found in the statute.

e) HOC QUIDEM PERQUAM DURUM EST, SED ITA LEX SCRIPTA EST- it is
exceedingly hard but so the law is written. (the law may be exceedingly harsh but it is
so written)
ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 18
Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
f) AEQUITAS NUNQUAM CONTRAVENIT LEGIS – Equity never acts in
contravention of the law. (Aguila vs. CFI of Batangas, 160 SCRA 352 (1988).
g) MALEDICTA EST EXPOSITIO QUAE CORRUMPIT TEXTUM- it is dangerous
construction which is against the text (Victoria vs. COMELEC, 229 SCRA 269
(1994).

OPPOSITE MAXIMS: Literal import or meaning must yield to its apparent intent,
purpose or spirit.

“Conscience and equity should always be considered in the construction of a statute.


The courts are not to be hedged in by the literal meaning of the language of the
statute; the spirit and intendment thereof must prevail over its letter. This rule of
construction is specially applicable where adherence to the letter would result to
absurdity and injustice (Casela vs. CA, GR No. 26754, Oct. 16, 1970, 35 SCRA 279;
Co vs. Electoral Tribunal of House of Representative, 199 SCRA 692 (1991), would
lead to mischievous results or contravene the clear purpose of the legislature, it would
be construed according to its spirit and reason, disregarding as far as necessary the
letter of the law. A statute may therefore be extended to cases not within the literal
meaning of its terms, so long as they come within the spirit or intent. (Rufino Lopez
& Sons, Inc. vs. Court of tax Appeal, 100 Phil. 850 (1957).

RATIO LEGIS- interpretation according to the spirit or reason of the law.

VERBA INTENTIONI, NON E CONTRA, DEBIT INSERVIRE- words ought to be


more subservient to the intent and not to the intent of the word (intent of the word
should not be contrary to the intention)- EXTENSION= THE INTENT OF THE
STATUTE IS THE LAW= CONSTRUCTION TO ACCOMPLISH PURPOSE.

B) DOCTRINE OF LAST ANTECEDENTS

Doctrine of Last Antecedents rules refers to the application of a qualification


to the immediately preceding references when more than one references are
contained in the sentences or provision, unless otherwise it was clearly
evident that it refers to a different reference contained therein. Ex.- A
provision stipulates “teachers, parents with mentally retarded kids must
attend the ........” Here, the qualification “mentally retarded kids” refers to the
parents as per last antecedent rule. Even though the teacher comes last, since
kids refers to parents, it applies to parents in this case.

Relative and qualifying words, phrases and clauses are to be applied to the word or
phrase immediately preceding and not to others more remote.

Republic vs. Lacap, GR No. 158253, March 2, 2007

C) EJUSDEM GENERIS (Of the same kinds, class, or nature)

Ejusdem generis (eh-youse-dem generous) adj. Latin for "of the same kind," used to
interpret loosely written statutes. Where a law lists specific classes of persons or things and then
ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 19
Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
refers to them in general, the general statements only apply to the same kind of persons or things
specifically listed. Example: if a law refers to automobiles, trucks, tractors, motorcycles and
other motor-powered vehicles, "vehicles" would not include airplanes, since the list was of land-
based transportation.

.In the construction of laws, wills and other instruments, when certain things are
enumerated, and then a phrase is used which might be construed to include other things, it is
generally confined to things ejusdem generas; as, where an act (9 Ann. C. 20) provided that a
writ of quo warranto might issue against persons who should usurp "the offices of mayors,
bailiffs, port reeves, and other offices, within the cities, towns, corporate boroughs, and places,
within Great Britain," &c.; it was held that "other offices" meant offices ejusdem generis; and
that the word "places" signified places of the same kind; that is, that the offices must be
corporate offices, and the places must be corporate Places. 5 T. R. 375,379; 5 B. & C. 640; 8 D.
& Ry. 393; 1 B. & C. 237.
3. So, in the construction of wills, when certain articles are enumerated, the terra goods is to
be restricted to those ejusdem generis. Bac. Ab. Legacies, B; 3 Rand. 191; 3 Atk. 61; Abr. Eq.
201; 2 Atk. 113.

When a list of two or more specific descriptors is followed by more general descriptors,
the otherwise wide meaning of the general descriptors must be restricted to the same class, if any,
of the specific words that precede them. For example, where "cars, motor bikes, motor powered
vehicles" are mentioned, the word "vehicles" would be interpreted in a limited sense (therefore
vehicles cannot be interpreted as including airplanes).

Where a statute describes things of particular class or kind accompanied by words of a


generic character, the generic words will usually be limited to things of a kindred nature with
those particularly enumerated, unless there be something in the context of the statute to repel
such influence. Ejusdem generis could be expansive, however, because the list is not exclusive; it
may be expanded if a uridical tie could be found with another item.
Magtajas v. Pryce Properties Corp: Because gambling was with the phrase ‘and other prohibited
games of chance’ it was construed to refer only to illegal gambling.
PBA v CA: 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 as applying only to persons or things of the same kind or class as those
specifically mentioned.

Where the general term follows the designation of particular things or classes of persons
or subjects, the general term will be construed to include only those things or persons of the same
class, kind or nature as those specifically enumerated.
* The purpose of the rule is to give effect to both the particular and the general
words by treating the particular words indicating the class and the general words as
including all that is embraced in the said class, although not specifically named by the
particular words. This is justified on the ground that if the legislature intended the general
terms to be used in their unrestricted sense, it would not have made an enumeration of the
particular subjects but would have also used only general terms
* The principle applies when specific words preceding the general expression are
of the same nature.
* Where of they are of different genra, the meaning of the general word remains
unaffected by its connection with them.

(READ: Mutuc vs. COMELEC, November 26, 1970, 36 SCRA 228)

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 20


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
D) EXRESSIO UNIUS EST EXCLUSIO ALTERIUS (The express mention of one thing
excludes all others)

Items not on the list are assumed not to be covered by the statute. However, sometimes a
list in a statute is illustrative, not exclusionary. This is usually indicated by a word such as
"includes" or "such as."

 EXPRESSIO UNIUS EST EXCLUSION ALTERIUS (Inclusio Unius Est Exclusio


Alterius)

The express mention of one person, thing, or consequence implies the exclusion of all others.
 - Mention of one thing implies the exclusion of another
 When a statute enumerates the subjects or things on which it is to operate, it is to be
construed as excluding from its effect all those not expressly mentioned.

Variation: Expressium facit cessare tacitum. What is expressed puts an end to what is implied.

Where a statute is expressly limited to certain matters, it may not, by interpretation or


construction, be extended to other matters.

Canon of restrictive interpretation.


Where a statute, by its terms, is expressly limited to certain matters, it may not, by interpretation
or construction, be extended to others. The rule proceeds from the premise that the legislature
would not have made specified enumerations in a statute had the intention been not to restrict its
meaning and to confine its terms to those expressly mentioned.
Malinias v Comelec: An attempt to use an administrative charge for a criminal complaint against
police officers accused of violating the election code. The court ruled that not all violations of the
election code provided for criminal penalties and in this case, the violated provisions only
warrant the imposition of administrative, not criminal, penalties.
Centeno v Villalon-Pornillos: A group of old men charged with violating the solicitation permit
law was acquitted because the term religious purpose was not expressly included in the
provisions of the statute, and what the law does not include, it excludes. The law referred only to
charitable purposes, which phrase cannot be construed so as to include a religious purpose

 The maxim is only auxiliary rule of statutory construction. It is not of universal


application neither is it conclusive. It should be applied only as a means of discovering
the legislative intent which is not otherwise manifest and should never be permitted to
defeat the plainly indicative purpose of the legislature.
- The maxim does not apply when words are mentioned by way of example, or to
remove doubts.

CASE: ESCRIBANO V. AVILA G.R. NO. 30375, September 12, 1978, 85 SCRA 245
- SARMIENTO III VS. MISON (L-79974, DEC. 17, 1987) - Sec 16, Art VII of
the 1987 Constitution. (Appointment by the president without the approval of the
commission on appointment.

See:
CASUS OMISUS
 Casus Omisus
- Under this rule, the words or phrases may be supplied by the courts and inserted
in a statute where that is necessary to eliminate repugnancy and inconsistency in the
statute and to complete the sense thereof, and to give effect to the intention of the
legislature manifested therein. The rule is especially applicable where such application is

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 21


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
necessary to prevent the law from becoming a nullity. This rule is also used to supply
omissions occasioned by clerical errors, by accident or inadvertence.

CASUS OMISUS PRO HABENDUS EST


 Casus Omisus Pro Omisso Hebendus Est
- Under this rule, a person, object or thing omitted from the enumeration must be
held to have been omitted intentionally. The maxim can operate when the omission had
been clearly established.

E) IN PARI MATERIA (Upon the same matter or subject)

When a statute is ambiguous, its meaning may be determined in light of other statutes on
the same subject matter.

All statute relating to the same subject, or having the same general purpose, should be
construed together as if they constituted one law. They should be construed and
harmonized with the existing law.

F) NOSCITUR A SOCIIS (A word is known by the company it keeps)

*Birds of the same feather flock together*

When a word is ambiguous, its meaning may be determined by reference to the rest of the
statute.

 Noscitur a Sociis

- Under this rule, the meaning of particular terms in a statute may be ascertained
by reference to words associated with or related to them in a statute.
- Where particular word or phrase in a statute is ambiguous in itself, or is simply
susceptible of various meanings, its true meaning may be made clear and specific by
considering the company of words in which it is found or which it is associated.
- Where there are two or more words of ambiguous meaning together in a statute,
they are understood to be used in their cognate sense to express the same relations and
give color and expression to each word.
- Where a law does not define a word therein, it will be construed as having a
meaning- similar to that of words associated or accompanied by it.
(READ: Caltex vs. Palomar, September 29, 1966, 18 SCRA 247)

NOSCITUR A SOCIIS

Words must be construed in conjunction with the other words and phrases used in the
text. 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 statute must be considered in fixing the meaning of any of its
parts and in order to produce a harmonious whole. Where a particular word or phrase in a
statement is ambiguous in itself or is equally susceptible of various meanings, its true meaning
may be clear and specific by considering the company in which it is found or with which it is
associated.
Aisporna vs. CA: wife of insurance agent prosecuted for having sold an insurance without
registering as an agent. Using this doctrine, the Court ruled that an insurance agent is one who
sells insurance in return for compensation, and it was not proved that Aisporna received
compensation for the insurance she was alleged to have sold. (Her defense was that as her
husband’s clerk, she only renewed the insurance because her husband was out at the time).
ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 22
Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
Dai-Chi Electronics Manufacturing Corp. v. Villarama: Dai-Chi filed a complaint against
Villarama for violating an agreement that he would not join the company’s competitor within two
years after leaving Dai-Chi. Dai-Chi filed a complaint against Villarama at the RTC, which
dismissed it on grounds of lack of jurisdiction, for it should have been filed before a labor arbiter.
Using the doctrine of noscitur a sociis, the court ruled that while the Labor Code says that “all
money claims of workers” were under the jurisdiction of the Labor Arbiter, it did not mean to
encompass the entire universe of money claims that might be asserted by workers against their
employers. Paragraph 3 should not be read in isolation, but rather in conjunction with paragraphs
1 to 5, which all refer to money claims of workers arising from violations of or in connection
with an employee-employer relationship. Dai-Chi’s complaint was anchored on a violation of
contract, since Villarama was no longer an employee. The court ruled that the RTC was the
proper venue for filing of the case.

G) REDDENDO SINGULA SINGULIS (Refers only to the last)

When a list of words has a modifying phrase at the end, the phrase refers only to the last,
e.g., firemen, policemen, and doctors in a hospital. (huh!!!!!!??????)- doctrine of last
antecedent

REDDENDO SINGULA SINGULIS (note-copied)


Referring each to each; let each be put in its proper place, that is, the words should be taken
distributively.
Amadora v CA: Teachers should apply to pupils and students; and heads of establishment of arts
and trades to apprentices. The teacher in charge must answer for a student’s tort, but in this case
none of those charged were either the teacher in charge or the dean of boys.
People vs Tamani: Promulgation should refer to judgment and notice should refer to order. The
computation of the filing of the petition was wrong. (This was an obiter because the filing was
late either way it is computed, and the court decided on the case anyway).
 Reddendo Singula Singulis (Let each be put in its proper place)
- Under this principle, where a sentence has several antecedents and several
consequents, they are to be read distributively. The antecedents should be referred to their
appropriate consequents and vice versa.
- Each word, phrase or clause must be given its proper connection in order to give
it proper force and effect, rendering none of them useless or superfluous. A transposition
of words and clauses may be resorted to where the sentence or clause is without meaning
as it stands.
- This is also to be referred to as the doctrine of collocation which literally means,
“referring each to each.”

H) GENERALIA SPECIALIBUS NON DEROGANT (The general does not detract from the
specific)

Described in The Vera Cruz (1884) 10 App. Cas. 59 as: "Now if anything be certain it is
this, that where there are general words in a later Act capable of reasonable and sensible
application without extending them to subjects specially dealt with by earlier legislation,
you are not to hold that earlier legislation indirectly repealed, altered, or derogated from
merely by force of such general words, without any evidence of a particular intention to
do so." This means that if a later law and an earlier law are potentially - but not
necessarily - in conflict, courts will adopt the reading that does not result in an implied

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 23


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
repeal of the earlier statute. Lawmaking bodies usually need to be explicit if they intend
to repeal an earlier law

 Generalia Specialibus Non Derogant


- A general law does not nullify a specific law. Special provisions prevail over
general provisions. A special law must be intended to constitute an exception to the
general law in the absence of special circumstances forcing a contrary conclusion.

I) DISSIMILUM DISSIMILIS EST RATIO (note- copied)


The courts may distinguish when there are facts and circumstances showing that the legislature
intended a distinction or qualification.
Garvida v. Sales: Sales sought to have Garvida disqualified from the SK post because of
age. The court ruled that while the Local Gov’t Code provided that SK members should be 21
years old, it added a qualification that should officials should be 21 years old on the date of
election. Garvida was disqualified because she was more than 21 years old, although she was
less than 22 years old.

J) CASUS OMISSUS (note copied)


Casus omissus pro omisso habendus est. A person, object, or thing omitted from an enumeration
in a statute must be held to have been omitted intentionally.
This needs two laws. In expressio unius, it’s just the enumeration you are looking at, not another
law.
COA of the Province of Cebu v Province of Cebu: This case is about the effects of a new law on
an old law. The Special Education Fund (SEF) allowed the use of part of the realty and cigarette
taxes for extension programs and scholarships. When the Cebu provincial office used it to pay
for salaries of teachers and scholars, COA said those were not chargeable to the SEF since RA
5447, which created the SEF, was deemed repealed by the Local Govt Code. Because the two
retained sections in the LGC omitted the scholarship grants, the court ruled that what was
omitted must have been omitted intentionally, and so may not be included.

K) UBI LEX NON DISTINGUIT NEC NOS DISTINGUIRE DEBEMOS


- When the law does not distinguish, courts should also not distinguish. Founded
on logic, the rule is corollary of the principle that general words and phrases in a statute
should ordinarily be accorded their natural and general significance. It requires that the
general words and phrases should not be reduced into parts and other parts distinguished
from the other part so as to justify its exclusion from the operation of the law. There
should be no distinction in the application of a statute where none is indicated.
-VASQUEZ vs. HOBILLA-ALINIO (GR NO. 118813-14, APRIL 8, 1997, 271
SCRA citing Deloso vs. Domingo 191 SCRA 549 (1990)

L) MENS LEGISLATORES
- The courts look into the object to be accomplished, the evils and mischief to be
remedied or the purpose to be observed. The court should give the statute a reasonable or
liberal construction which will best effect its purpose rather than one which will defeat it
even though such construction is not within the strict literal interpretation of the statute.
- The court should give the statute a reasonable or liberal construction which will
best effect its purpose rather than one which will defeat it.
- Statutes must be construed to avoid injustice

M) EX NECISSITATE LEGIS (Doctrine of Necessary Implication)


- What is implied in the statute is as much part thereof as that which is expressed.
Every statute is understood, by implication, to contain all such provisions as may be
necessary to effectuate its object and purpose or to make effective rights, powers,
ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 24
Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
privileges or jurisdiction which it grants including all such collateral and subsidiary
consequences as may be fairly and logically inferred from its terms.
-Every statutory grant of power, right or privilege is deemed to include all
incidental power, right or privilege to make it effective/effectual.

 Generalia Verba Sun Generaliter Intelligencia


- What is generally spoken shall be generally understood.

 Ratio Legis (Interpretation according to spirit)


- In construing a statute, the courts must look into the spirit of the law or the
reason for it. The spirit or intention of the law prevails over the letter thereof. The statute
may be extended to cases which are not included within the literal meaning of the words,
if such case is within the reason for the statute. And the cases within the letter of the law
but not within the spirit thereof are not within the statute. No reason, however, may be
imputed to the legislature, which is not supported by the fact of the law itself. In
determining the reason for the law, recourse may be had to the preamble or applicable
where adherence to the letter would lead to absurdity, injustice, contradiction or defeat
the plain purpose of the act. Apparent inaccuracies and mistakes in the mere verbiage or
phraseology will be overlooked to give effect to the spirit of the law.

 Ratio Legis Est Anima


- The reason of the law is its soul.

 Cessante Ratione (Legis) Cessat Ipsa Lex


- When the reason for the law ceases, the law also ceases to exist.

 Legis Posteriors Priores Contraries Abrogant


- In case of an irreconcilable conflict between two laws of different vintages, the
latter enactment prevails. The rationale is that a latter law repeals an earlier one because it
is the later legislative will. It is to be presumed that the lawmaker knew the older law and
intended to change it. In enacting the older law, the legislators cannot have known the
newer one and hence could have intended to change what they did not know. Under the
Civil Code, laws are repealed only by subsequent ones.

 Optima Statuli Interpretatix Est Ipsum Statutum


- The best interpreter of a statute is the statute itself.

 Ut Res Magis Quam Pereat


- This means that it is not enough that the statute should be given effect as a whole
but that effect should be given to each of the provisions of the statute.

 Lex Prospicit, Non Respicit


- The law looks forward not backwards.

 Lex De Futuro, Judex De Praterito


- The law provides for the future, the judge for the past.

 Index Animi Sermo Est


- Speech is the index of intention
ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 25
Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
 Interpretation Talis In Ambiguis Semper Frienda Est, Ut Evitatur Inconveniens Et
Absurdum
- Where there is ambiguity, such interpretation as will avoid inconvenience and
absurdity is to be adopted.

 In Eo Plus Sit, Simperinest Et Minus


- The greater includes the lesser.

OTHER LATIN MAXIMS (note- copied)

CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION

A. POWER TO CONSTRUE

1. Legis interpretation legis vim obtinet.


Judicial construction and interpretation of a statute acquires the force of law.

AIDS TO CONSTRUCTION

A. CONTEMPORARY CONSTRUCTION

Contemporanea exposition est optima et fortissimo in lege.


Contemporary construction is strongest in law.

Optima est legum interpres consuetudo.


Custom is the best interpreter of a statute.

Regula pro lege, si deficit lex.


In default of the law, the maxim rules.

Optimus interpres rerum usus.


The best interpreter of the law is usage.

Communis error facit jus.


Common error sometimes passes as current law.

Quod ab initio non valet in tractu temporis non convalescit.


That which was originally void, does not by lapse of time become valid.

Ratihabitio mandato aequiparatur.


Legislative ratification is equivalent to a mandate.

Stare decisis et non quieta movere.


Follow past precedents and do not disturb what has been settled.

Interest republicae ut sit finis litium.


The interest of the state demands that there be an end to litigation.

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 26


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
ADHERENCE TO, OR DEPARTURE FROM, LANGUAGE OF STATUTE LITERAL
INTERPRETATION

Index animi sermo est.


Speech is the index of intention.

Animus hominis est anima scripti.


The intention of the party is the soul.

Verba legis non est recedendum.


From the words of the statute there should be no departure.

Maledicta et exposition quae corrumpit textum.


It is bad construction which corrupts the text.

Littera scripta manet.


The written word endures.

Clausula rebus sic stantibus.


Things thus standing.

Absoluta sentential expositore non indigent.


When the language of the law is clear, no explanation is required.

Dura lex sed lex.


The law may be harsh but it is the law.

Hoc quidem perquam durum est, sed ita lex scripta est.
It is exceedingly hard, but so the law is written.

DEPARTURE FROM LITERAL INTERPRETATION

Aequitas nunquam contravenit legis.


Equity never acts in contravention of the law.

Aequum et bonum est lex legume.


What is good and equal is the law of laws.

Jus ars boni et aequi.


Law is the art of equity.

Ratio legis est anima legis.


The reason of the law is the soul of the law.

Littera necat spiritus vivificate.


The letter kills but the spirit gives life.

Verba intentioni, non e contra, debent inservice.


Words ought to be more subservient to the intent, and not the intent to the words.

Benignus leges interpretandae sunt, quod voluntas eraum conservetur.


Laws are to be construed liberally, so that their spirit and reason be preserved.

Qui haret in littera haret in cortice.


He who considers merely the letter of an instrument goes but skin deep into its meaning.

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 27


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
Quando verba statute sunt speciali, ratio autem generalia, statum generaliter est
intelligendum.
When the words used in a statute are special, but the purpose of the law is general, it should be
read as the general expression.

Cessante rationi legis, cessat et ipsa lex.


When the reason of the law ceases, the law itself ceases.

Interpretatio talis in ambiguis simper fienda est ut evitetur inconveniens et absurdum.


Where there is ambiguity, the interpretation of such that will avoid inconveniences and absurdity
is to be adopted.

Legis construction non facit injuriam.


The construction of the law will not be such as to work injury or injustice.

Argumentum ab inconvenient plurimum valet in lege.


An argument drawn from inconvenience is forcible in law.

Verba nihil operari melius est quam absurde.


It is better that words should have no operation at all than that they should operate absurdly.

Lex simper intendit quod convenit rationi.


The law always intends that which is in accordance with reason.

Ubi eadem ratio ibi idem jus.


Like reason doth make like law.

Argumentum a simili valet in lege.


An argument drawn from a similar case, or analogy, prevails in law.

De similibus idem est judicium.


Concerning similars, the judgment is the same.

Ubi eadem est ratio, ibi est eadem legis disposition.


Where there is the same reason, there is the same law

Ea est accipienda interpretation quae vitio caret.


That interpretation is to be adopted which is free from evil or injustice.

Lex injusta non est lex.


An unjust law is not a law.

Fiat justitia, ruat coelum .


Let right be done, though the heavens fall.

Nemo est supra legis.


Nobody is above the law.

Nulla potential supra legis esse debet.


No power must be above the law.

Jurae naturae aequum est neminem cum alterius detrimento et injuria fieri locupletiorem.
It is certainly not agreeable to natural justice that a stranger should reap the pecuniary produce of
another man’s work.

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 28


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
Surplusagium non nocet.
Surplusage does not vitiate a statute.

Utile per inutile non vitiatur.


The useful is not vitiated by the non-useful.

Falsa demostratio non nocet, cum de corpore constat.


False description does not preclude construction nor vitiate the meaning of the statute.

Nil facit error nominis cum de corpora vel persona constat.


Error in name does not make an instrument inoperative when the description is sufficiently clear.

Certum est quod certum reddi potest.


That is sufficiently certain which can be made certain.

Ibi quid generaliter conceditur, inest haec exception, si non aliquid sit contras jus basque.
Where anything is granted generally, exemption from rigid application of law is implied; that
nothing shall be contrary to law and right.

Summum jus, summa injuria.


The rigor of the law would be the highest injustice.

Jus summum saepe, summa est militia.


Extreme law is often extreme wrong.

Nemo tenetur ad impossibilia.


The law obliges no one to perform an impossibility.

Impossibilum nulla obigatio est.


There is no obligation to do an impossible thing.

Lex non cogit ad impossibilia.


The law does not require an impossibility.

Lex non intendit aliquid impossible.


The law does not intend the impossible.

IMPLICATIONS

Ex necessitate legis.
By the necessary implication of law.

In eo quod plus sit, simper inest et minus.


The greater includes the lesser.

Cui jurisdiction data est, ea quoque concessa esse videntur sine quibus jurisdiction explicari
non potuit.

When jurisdiction is given, all powers and means essential to its exercise are also given.

Ubi jus, ibi remedium.


Where there is a right, there is a remedy for violation thereof.

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 29


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
Ubi jus incertum, ibi jus nullum.
Where the law is uncertain, there is no right.

Ex dolo malo non oritur action.


An action does not arise from fraud.

Nullius commodum capere potest de injuria sua propria.


No one may derive advantage from his own unlawful act.

In pari delicto potior est condition defendentis.


Where the parties are equally at fault, the position of the defending party is the better one.

Quando aliquid prohibetur ex directo, prohibetur et per obliquum.


What cannot, by law, be done directly cannot be done indirectly.

INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES

A. IN GENERAL

Generalia verba sunt generaliter intelligenda.


General words should be understood in their general sense.

Generis dictum generaliter est interpretandum.


A general statement is understood in its general sense.

Verba accipienda sunt secundum subjectam materiam.


A word is to be understood in the context in which it is used.

Verba mere aequivoca, si per communem usum loquendi in intellectu certo


sumuntur, talis intellectus preferendus est.

Equivocal words or those with double meaning are to be understood


according to their common and ordinary sense.

Verba artis ex arte.


Words of art should be explained from their usage in the art to which they belong.

Verba generalia restringuntur ad habilitatem rei vel personam.


General words should be confined according to the subject-matter or persons to which they
relate.

Ubi lex non distinguit necnon distinguere debemus.


Where the law does not distinguish, the courts should not distinguish.

Dissimilum dissimilis est ratio.


Of things dissimilar, the rule is dissimilar.

ASSOCIATED WORDS

Noscitur a sociis.
A thing is known by its associates.

Ejesdem generis.
Of the same kind or species.

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 30


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
Expressio unius est exclusion alterius.
The express mention of one person, thing or consequence implies the exclusion of all others.

Expressum facit cessare tacitum.


What is expressed puts an end to that which is implied.

Argumentum a contrario.
Negative-Opposite Doctrine: what is expressed puts an end to that which is implied.

Cassus omissus pro omisso habendus est.


A person, object or thing omitted from an enumeration must be held to have been omitted
intentionally.

Ad proximum antecedens fiat relatio nisi impediatur sentential.


A qualifying word or phrase should be understood as referring to the nearest antecedent.

Reddendo singular singulis.


Referring each to each, or referring each phrase or expression to its appropriate object, or let
each be put in its proper place.

PROVISOS, EXCEPTIONS AND SAVING CLAUSES

Exceptio firmat regulam in casibus non exceptis.


A thing not being expected must be regarded as coming within the purview of the general rule.

STATUTE CONSIDERED AS A WHOLE IN RELATION TO OTHER STATUTES

A. STATUTE CONSTRUED AS A WHOLE

Optima statute interpretatrix est ipsum statutum.


The best interpreter of the statute is the statute itself.

Ex tota materia emergat resolution.


The exposition of a statute should be made from all its parts put together.

Injustum est, nisi tota lege inspecta, de una aliqua ejus particula proposita indicare vel
respondere.
It is unjust to decide or to respond as to any particular part of a law without examining the whole
of the law.

Nemo enim aliquam partem recte intelligere possit antequam totum interum atque interim
perlegit.
The sense and meaning of the law is collected by viewing all the parts together as one whole and
not of one part only by itself.

Ex antecendentibus et consequentibus fit optima interpretation.


A passage will be best interpreted by reference to that which precedes and follows it.

Verba posterima propter certitudinem addita ad priora quae certitudine indigent sunt
referenda.
Reference should be made to a subsequent section in order to explain a previous clause of which
the meaning is doubtful.

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 31


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
Interpretatio fienda est ut res magis valeat quam pereat.
A law should be interpreted with a view of upholding rather than destroying it.

STATUTE CONSTRUED IN RELATION TO CONSTITUTION AND OTHER


STATUTES

Pari materia.
Of the same matter.

Interpretare et concordare leges legibus est optimus interpretandi modus.


Every statute myst be so construed and harmonized with other statutes as to form a uniform
system of law.

Distingue tempora et concordabis jura.


Distinguish times and you will harmonize law.
- Tempora mutantur et leges mutantur in illis.
- Times have changed and laws have changed with them.

Mutatis mutandis.
With the necessary changes.

STRICT OR LIBERAL CONSTRUCTION

A. IN GENERAL

Salus populi est suprema lex.


The voice of the people is the supreme law.

Statuta pro publico commodo late interpretantur.


Statutes enacted for the publc good are to be construed liberally.

Privatum incommodum publico bono pensatur.


The private interests of the individual must give way to the accommodation of the public.

B. STATUTES STRICTLY CONSTRUED

Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea.


The act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty.

Actus me invito facturs non est meus actus.


An act done by me against my will is not my act.

Privilegia recipiunt largam interpretationem voluntate consonem concedentis.


Privileges are to be interpreted in accordance with the will of him who grants them.

Renunciatio non praesumitur.


Renunciation cannot be presumed.

Strictissimi juris.
Follow the law strictly.

Nullum tempus occurit regi.


There can be no legal right as against the authority that makes the law on which the right
depends.

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 32


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
MANDATORY AND DIRECTIONAL STATUTES

A. MANDATORY STATUTES

Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt.


The law aids the vigilant, not those who slumber on their rights.

Potior est in tempore, potior est in jure.


He who is first in time is preferred in right.

PROSPECTIVE AND RETROACTIVE STATUTES

A. IN GENERAL

Lex prospicit, non respicit.


The law looks forward, not backward.

Lex de futuro, judex de praeterito.


The law provides for the future, the judge for the past.
- Nova constitutio futuris formam imponere debet non praeteritis.
- A new statute should affect the future, not the past.

Leges quae retrospciunt, et magna cum cautione sunt adhibendae neque enim janus locatur
in legibus.
Laws which are retrospective are rarely and cautiously received, for Janus has really no place in
the laws.

Leges et constitutiones futuris certum est dare formam negotiis, non ad facta praeterita
revocari, nisi nominatim et de praeterito tempore et adhuc pendentibus negotiis cautum sit.
Laws should be construed as prospective, not retrospective, unless they are expressly made
applicable to past transactions and to such as are still pending.

B. STATUTES GIVEN PROSPECTIVE EFFECT

Nullum crimen sine poena, nulla poena sine lege.


There is no crime without a penalty, there is no penalty without a law.

Favorabilia sunt amplianda, odiosa restringenda.


Penal laws which are favorable to the accused are given retroactive effect.

AMENDMENT, REVISION, CODIFICATION AND REPEAL

A. REPEAL

Leges posteriores priores contrarias abrogant.


Later statutes repeal prior ones which are repugnant thereto.

Generalia specialibus non derogant.


A general law does not nullify a specific or special law.

BINDING FORCE OF RULES OF INTERPRETATION AND CONSTRUCTION

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 33


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
Ignorantia legis neminem excusat.
Ignorance of the law excuses no one.

LANGUAGE OF STATUTE WHEN AMBIGUOUS

In obscuris inspici solere quod versimilius est, aut quod plerumque fieri solet.
When matters are obscure, it is customary to take what appears to be more likely or what usually
often happens.

Ambiguitas verborum patens nulla verificatione excluditur.


A patent ambiguity cannot be cleared up by extrinsic evidence.

PRESUMPTION AGAINST INJUSTICE AND HARDSHIP

Ad ea quae frequentibus accidunt jura adaptatur.


Laws are understood to be adapted to those cases which most frequently occur.

Jus constitui oportet in his quae ut plurimum accidunt non quae ex inordinato.
Laws ought to be made with a view to those cases which happen most frequently, and not to
those which are of rare or accidental occurrence.

Quod semel aut bis existit praetereunt legislatores.


Legislators pass over what happens only once or twice.

De minimis non curat lex.


The law does not concern itself with trifling matters.

TITLE OF THE ACT (INTRINSIC AID)

Nigrum Nunquam Excedere Debet Rubrum.


The black (body of the act printed in black) should never go beyond the red (title or rubric of the
statute printed in red)

CANONS

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 34


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
Canons

Also known as canons of construction, canons give common sense guidance to courts in
interpreting the meaning of statutes. Most canons emerge from the common law process through
the choices of judges. Proponents of the use of canons argue that the canons constrain
judges and limit the ability of the courts to legislate from the bench. Critics argue that a
judge always has a choice between competing canons that lead to different results, so
judicial discretion is only hidden through the use of canons, not reduced.

A) Textual

Textual canons are rules of thumb for understanding the words of the text. Some of the
canons are still known by their traditional Latin names.

Plain Meaning

\ When writing statutes, the legislature intends to use ordinary English words in their
ordinary senses. The United States Supreme Court discussed the plain meaning rule in Caminetti
v. United States, 242 U.S. 470 (1917), reasoning "[i]t is elementary that the meaning of a statute
must, in the first instance, be sought in the language in which the act is framed, and if that is
plain... the sole function of the courts is to enforce it according to its terms." And if a statute's
language is plain and clear, the Court further warned that "the duty of interpretation does not
arise, and the rules which are to aid doubtful meanings need no discussion."

Ejusdem generis (Of the same kinds, class, or nature)

When a list of two or more specific descriptors is followed by more general descriptors,
the otherwise wide meaning of the general descriptors must be restricted to the same class, if any,
of the specific words that precede them. For example, where "cars, motor bikes, motor powered
vehicles" are mentioned, the word "vehicles" would be interpreted in a limited sense (therefore
vehicles cannot be interpreted as including airplanes).

Expressio unius est exclusio alterius (The express mention of one thing excludes all others)

Items not on the list are assumed not to be covered by the statute. However, sometimes a
list in a statute is illustrative, not exclusionary. This is usually indicated by a word such as
"includes" or "such as."

Exclusionary rule/maxim

In pari materia (Upon the same matter or subject)

When a statute is ambiguous, its meaning may be determined in light of other statutes on
the same subject matter.

Noscitur a sociis (A word is known by the company it keeps)

When a word is ambiguous, its meaning may be determined by reference to the rest of the
statute.

Reddendo singula singulis (Refers only to the last)

Also known as Doctrine of Collocation

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 35


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
Let each be put in its proper place - a transposition of words and clause may be resorted
to where the sentence or clause is without meaning as it stands.

Also distributive – Under this principle, where a sentence has several antecedents an
several consequents, they are to be read distributively. The antecedent should be referred to the
appropriate consequents and vice versa.

Each word or phrase must be given its proper connection in order to give it proper force
and effect, rendering none of them useless or superfluous.

When a list of words has a modifying phrase at the end, the phrase refers only to the last,
e.g., firemen, policemen, and doctors in a hospital.

Generalia specialibus non derogant (The general does not detract from the specific)

Described in The Vera Cruz (1884) 10 App. Cas. 59 as: "Now if anything be certain it is
this, that where there are general words in a later Act capable of reasonable and sensible
application without extending them to subjects specially dealt with by earlier legislation, you are
not to hold that earlier legislation indirectly repealed, altered, or derogated from merely by force
of such general words, without any evidence of a particular intention to do so." This means that
if a later law and an earlier law are potentially - but not necessarily - in conflict, courts will adopt
the reading that does not result in an implied repeal of the earlier statute. Lawmaking bodies
usually need to be explicit if they intend to repeal an earlier law.

B) Substantive

Substantive canons instruct the court to favor interpretations that promote certain values
or policy results.

 "Charming Betsy" Canon

National statute must be construed so as not to conflict with international law. See
Murray v. The Charming Betsy, 6 U.S. (2 Cranch) 64 (1804): "It has also been observed
that an act of Congress ought never to be construed to violate the law of nations if
any other possible construction remains..."

 Interpretation in Light of Fundamental Values

Statute does not violate fundamental societal values. See, for example, Holy Trinity
Church v. United States, 143 U.S. 457 (1892).

 Rule of Lenity

In construing an ambiguous criminal statute, the court should resolve the ambiguity in
favor of the defendant. See McNally v. United States, 483 U.S. 350 (1987); See, e.g.,
Muscarello v. U.S., 524 U.S. 125 (1998) (declining to apply the rule of lenity); Evans v.
U.S., 504 U.S. 255 (1992) (Thomas, J., dissenting); Scarborough v. U.S., 431 U.S. 563
(1977) (Stewart, J., dissenting); See United States v. Santos (2008).

 Avoidance of abrogation of state sovereignty

See Gregory v. Ashcroft, 501 U.S. 452 (1991); see also Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243
(2006); see also Nevada Dept. of Human Resources v. Hibbs, 538 U.S. 721 (2003)

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 36


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
C) Deference

Deference canons instruct the court to defer to the interpretation of another institution,
such as an administrative agency or Congress. These canons reflect an understanding that
the judiciary is not the only branch of government entrusted with constitutional
responsibility.

 Deference to Administrative Interpretations (US Chevron deference)

If a statute administered by an agency is ambiguous with respect to the specific issue, the
courts will defer to the agency's reasonable interpretation of the statute. This rule of
deference was formulated in the US by the United States Supreme Court in Chevron v.
Natural Resources Defense Council, 467 U.S. 837 (1984).

D) Avoidance Canon (Canon of Constitutional Avoidance)

If a statute is susceptible to more than one reasonable construction, courts should


choose an interpretation that avoids raising constitutional problems. In the US, this
canon has grown stronger in recent history. The traditional avoidance canon required the
court to choose a different interpretation only when one interpretation was actually
unconstitutional. The modern avoidance canon tells the court to choose a different
interpretation when another interpretation merely raises constitutional doubts.[4][5]

 Avoiding Absurdity

The legislature did not intend an absurd or manifestly unjust result. [6][7]

E) CLEAR STATEMENT RULE

When a statute may be interpreted to abridge long-held rights of individuals or


states, or make a large policy change, courts will not interpret the statute to make
the change unless the legislature clearly stated it. This rule is based on the
assumption that the legislature would not make major changes in a vague or unclear
way, and to ensure that voters are able to hold the appropriate legislators
responsible for the modification.

Leges posteriores priores contrarias abrogant (Subsequent laws repeal those before enacted to
the contrary, aka "Last in Time")

When two statutes conflict, the one enacted last prevails.

Criticism

Critics of the use of canons argue that canons impute some sort of "omniscience" to the
legislator, suggesting that it is aware of the canons when constructing the laws. In addition, it
is argued that the canons give a credence to judges who want to construct the law a certain way,
imparting a false sense of justification to their otherwise arbitrary process. In a classic
article, Karl Llewellyn argued that every canon had a "counter-canon" that would lead to the
opposite interpretation of the statute.[8]

However, it could be argued that the fundamental nature of language is to blame for the problem
of "for every canon, a counter." Interpreting whether a statute applies to a given set of facts often
boils down to analyzing whether a single word or short phrase covers some element of the
factual situation before the judge. The expansiveness of language necessarily means that
ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 37
Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
there will often be good (or equally unconvincing) arguments for two competing
interpretations. A judge is then forced to resort to documentation of legislative intent, which
may also be unhelpful, and then finally to his or her own judgment of what outcome is ultimately
fair and logical under the totality of the circumstances. Canons of statutory construction give
judges the ability to decide questions of statutory interpretation that necessarily rely on an
element of judicial discretion.

Chapter 2
PRESUMPTIONS

Presumption of Validity
Every statute passed by the legislature is presumed to be valid because the
legislature is supposed to have considered the question of its validity before approving it.
The legislative department of the government itself first determines the question of validity of
every statute- even the president when the bill is submitted to his office for approval (executive
department). In cases of doubt, the court resolves in favor of its validity.

Presumption of Constitutionality
The presumption is always in favor of constitutionality. However, if the statute is
really unconstitutional, the courts are not only authorized but must declare its
unconstitutionality. The court must see to it that the other departments have not exceeded
their constitutional authority. (Essence of Separation of Powers and System of Check and
Balance)
- ABAKADA GURO PARTY vs. HON. CESAR PURISIMA (GR NO. 166715, AUG.
14,2008)
“A law enacted by Congress enjoys a strong presumption of constitutionality. To justify
its nullification, there must be a clrar and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not a
doubtful and equivocal one. (CENTRAL BANK EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION INC.
Vs. BANKO SENTRAL NG PILIPINAS, GR NO. 148208, DEC. 15, 2004, 446 SCRA
299)”
“ To invalidate RA 9335 based on the petitioner’s baseless supposition is an affront to the
wisdom not only to the legislature that passed it but also to the executive which approved
it.”
Presumption of Good Faith
It is presumed that the legislative department had good motives in having
considered and adopted a particular law; that it acted from patriotic and just motives; that
it acted with a desire to promote an intention not to disregard the civil and political liberties of
the people.

Presumption against Injustice


In case of doubt in the interpretation of laws, it is presumed that the lawmaking
body intended right and justice to prevail (Art. 10, New Civil Code of the Philippines).

Presumption against Inconsistency/Presumption on Consistency


In case of doubt, such construction as will make all provisions of the statute
consistent with one another and with the entire act should be adopted.
A word or phrase repeated in a statue will have the same meaning throughout the
statute, unless a different intention appears.

- Internal and external consistency (note- copied in presumption against


inconsistency)

It is presumed that a statute will be interpreted so as to be internally consistent. A particular


section of the statute shall not be divorced from the rest of the act. The ejusdem generis (Latin
ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 38
Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
for "of the same kind") rule applies to resolve the problem of giving meaning to groups of words
where one of the words is ambiguous or inherently unclear. The rule results that where "general
words follow enumerations of particular classes or persons or things, the general words shall be
construed as applicable only to persons or things of the same general nature or kind as those
enumerated." 49 F. Supp. 846, 859. Thus, in a statute forbidding the concealment on one's
person of "pistols, revolvers, derringers, or other dangerous weapons," the term "dangerous
weapons" may be construed to comprehend only dangerous weapons of the kind enumerated,
i.e., firearms, or perhaps more narrowly still, handguns. Here, the term "dangerous weapons"
must be given a meaning of the "same kind" as the word of established meaning.

A statute shall not be interpreted so as to be inconsistent with other statutes. Where there is
an inconsistency, the judiciary will attempt to provide a harmonious interpretation.

Presumption against Absurdity


It is presumed that the legislature does not intend that absurdity will flow from its
enactment. The courts therefore have the duty to interpret the law in such a way as to
avoid absurd results.

-ELCANO vs. HILL, 77 SCRA 98 (1977)


-FUELLAS vs. CADANO ET AL, 3 SCRA 361-367
-LIBI vs. IAC, 214 SCRA 16 (1992)

Presumption against Ineffectiveness


It is presumed that the legislative body does not intend to adopt laws, which are
unnecessary and ineffective. It is presumed that it intends to impart to its enactment such
a meaning as will render them operative and effective. There are two important rules in
statutory construction on this point, thus:
a.) Where a law is susceptible of two constructions, one will render it
unconstitutional and the other upholds its validity, the latter must be
adopted.
b.) Where the language of the law is susceptible of two or more construction, one
will render the statute ineffective or inefficient and another which will
tend to give effect to the object for which the law was adopted, then latter should prevail.

Presumption against Irrepealable Laws


It is presumed that the lawmaking body does not intend that its laws shall be
irrepealable because Congress cannot enact irrepealable laws nor limit its future
legislative act. The need of today and the situation obtaining now will not most likely be
the same in the years to come. Laws should adopt to changing times.

Presumption against Implied Repeal


Repeal by implication is not favored. There are two requirements before a statute
can be considered to have repealed a prior statue by implication, namely:
a.) That the statute touch on the same subject matter; and,
b.) That the latter statute is repugnant to the earlier one

Note: Rules to remember on the matters or repeal.


1. Laws are repealed only by subsequent ones, and their violation or non-
observance shall not be excused by disuse, custom or practice to the contrary (Art. 7,
New Civil Code of the Philippines).
2. When a law which expressly repeals a prior one, the first law shall not be
thereby revived, unless expressly so provided. However, when a law repeals a prior law,
not expressly but by implication only, its repeal revives the prior law, unless, the
language of the repealing statute provides otherwise.
ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 39
Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
3. A general law does not repeal special law unless it is so expressly provided, or
they are incompatible, in which case, the special law prevails over the general law.

Presumption against Violation of Public Policy


It is presumed that the legislature designed to favor and foster rather than to
contravene the public policy which is based upon the principles of natural justice, good
morals, and the settled wisdom of the law as applied to the ordinary affairs of life.

Presumption of Knowledge of Existing Laws


In enacting a law, the lawmaking body is presumed to have the full knowledge of
existing laws on the subject. Hence, if there are two laws on the same subject enacted in
different dates, the latter law cannot be held to have abrogated the former law unless
repugnancy is clear, convincing and irreconcilable.

Presumption of Acquiescence to Judicial Construction


When the court has construed a statute in a particular manner and the lawmaking
body made no move to alter or amend the said statute, it is presumed that the legislature
has acquiesced to that interpretation.

Presumption of Jurisdiction
A statute will not be construed in such a manner as to oust or restrict the
jurisdiction of the superior courts or to vest a new jurisdiction in them, unless, there are
express words or a necessary implication to the effect.

Presumption on Acting within the Scope of Authority


It is presumed that the legislature acted within the scope of its authority. If a
statute admits of more than one interpretation, one that places the statute outside of the
legislative competence and one that places the legislative within the limits of legislative
competence, the court should adopt the latter interpretation.

Presumption against Violation of International Law


It is presumed that a statute is in conformity with the rules and principles of
International Laws, or with treaties duly entered into and accepted by our government.
This is in line with Section 2, Article II of the 1987 Constitution, which provides:
“Section 2. The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy,
adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the
law of the land, and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom,
cooperation and amity with all nations.”

 Doctrine of Incorporation- holds that every state is, by reason of its membership
in the family of nations, bound by the generally accepted principles of
international law.

 Doctrine of Transformation- holds that an international agreement would be


binding only upon a state if that state enacts a law specifically making such
international agreement part and parcel of their laws.

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 40


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
GENERAL PRINCIPLES IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF STATUTES

1. Statutes must be read and construed as a whole.


2. Legislative intent must be ascertained from the statute as a whole.
3. Courts have the duty to reconcile or harmonize the different provisions of the statute,
including the conflicting provisions thereof.
4. As a rule, a statute of latter date prevails.
5. Generalia specialibus non derogant
6. In Pari Materia Rule
7. A special law prevails over a general law
CASSION vs. BANCO NACIONAL FILIPINO, 89 Phil. 560-561
8. In interpreting re-enacted statutes, the courts will follow the construction which the
statutes previously received.
9. In case of adopted statutes, the interpretation of the courts of the state from where it is
adopted should be considered.
10. In case of conflict between a common law principle and a statutory provision, the
latter prevails.

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 41


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
COURSE OUTLINE
STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION
CONSTRUCTION & INTERPRETATION

He says: “You are the one I love the most among the women in my life, and that includes my
mother, my sister and my grandmother.” You ask him, “Is that ejusdem generis or expressio
unius?” And he answers, “Ejusdem generis.” Should you slap him or kiss him?
Here’s a short reviewer on some Latin phrases in Legal Method. The phrases are followed by a
very short description of cases that illustrate the Latin rule. The definitions are taken from
Agpalo’s book on Statutory Construction.

I. Statutory Construction
a. Definition of Statutory Construction
b. Definition of Interpretation
c. Distinction of Construction and Interpretation
d. Definition of Ambiguity
Cases:
- Caltex (Philippines) Inc. vs. Palomar G.R. No. 19650 September 29, 1966, 18 SCRA 247
- U.S vs. Farenhalt 206 US 226 51 L. ed. 1036 (1907)
- Republic Flour Mills, Inc., vs. Commissioner of Customs, G.R. No. 28463, May 31, 1971, 39
SCRA 268
- Roman Catholic Apostolic Administration of Davao vs. Land Registration Commission 102
Phil 596 (1957)
- People vs. Mapa 20 SCRA 1164
ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 42
Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
- Daoang vs. Municipal Judge of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, 159 SCRA 369
- People vs. Nazario, 165 SCRA 186
- Commissioner vs. TMX 205 SCRA 184
- Veroy vs. Loyague, 21 SCRA 97 (1992)
- Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., vs. IAC, 320 SCRA 279 (1999)
- Del Mar vs. Phil. Amusement and Gaming Corp, 346 SCRA 485 (2000)

II. Distinction Between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Aids


a. Intrinsic aids
b. Extrinsic aids
Cases:
- Radiola-Toshiba vs. IAC, 199 SCRA 373
- People vs. Munoz, 170 SCRA 107

III. Purpose and Object of Construction and Interpretation


a. Discovery of true intention of the law
b. Ascertainment and effectivity of legislative intent
Cases:
- Macondray & Co vs. Eustaquio, 64 Phil 446 (1937
- People vs. Conception 44 Phil 126 (1922)
- People vs. Gatchalian 104 Phil 676 (1958)
- City of Baguio vs.Marcos, G.R. No. 26100, February 28, 1969, 27SCRA 342
- Torres vs. Limjap, 56 Phil 141
- Aisporma vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 39419, April 1982, 113 SCRA 446
- Garcia vs. Social Security Commission, G.R. No. 170735, December 17, 2007

IV. Does Statutory Construction Involve Question of Fact or of Law?


a. When does statutory construction begin.
Cases:
- Paat vs. Court of Appeals 266 SCRA 169, Jan 10, 997
- People vs. Mapa, 20 SCRA 1164

V. Basic Rule on Statutory Construction


a. When is it Necessary To Interpret and Construct
b. Presumptions to Aid Construction
c. Legislative Intent
d. Legislative Purpose
e. Legislative Meaning
f. Where Legislative Intent Is Ascertained?
g. General Principles in Construction of Statutes
h. Matters Inquired into in Construing a Statute
Cases:
- Manila Jockey Club Inc., vs. Games and Amusements Board, G.R. No 107 Phil 151
- General vs. Barrameda, G.R.No 29906, January 30, 1976, 69 SCRA 182
- Aboitiz Shipping Corp. vs. City of Cebu 13 SCRA 449
- B.E. San Diego vs. Court of Appeals 218 SCRA 446 (1993)
- Escribana vs. Avila, G.R. No. 30375, September 12, 1978, 85 SCRA 245

VI. Power to Construe


a. Power of the Congress
b. Power to Construe
c. Situs of Construction and Interpretation
d. Judicial Power
e. Duty of the Court to Construe and Interpret: Requisites
f. Ruling of the Supreme Court Part of Legal System

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 43


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS
g. Judicial Ruling Have No Retroactive Effect
h. Court May Issue Guidelines in Construing Statute
i. Can The Legislature overrule Judicial Construction?
j. When Judicial Interpretation May Be Set Aside?
k. Judiciary are governed by the following cardinal rules
Cases:
- U.S vs. Ang Tang Ho, 43 Phil 1
- People vs. Ferrer, 48 SCRA 382
- National Power Corporation vs. Province of Lanao Del Sur, 264 SCRA 271 (1996)
- Silva vs. Cabrera, 88 Phil 381
- Cebu Portland Cement Company vs. Municipality of Naga. 24 SCRA 708 (1968)
- National Federation of Labor Eisma, 127 SCRA 419
- People vs. Quijada, 259 SCRA 191 (1996)
- Vda. De Macabenta vs. Davao Stevedore Terminal Company, 32 SCRA 553
- San Miguel Corp vs. Avelino, G.R. No 39699, March 14, 1979 89 SCRA 69
- Joya vs. PCGG, 225 SCRA 568 (19930
- Malaluan vs. Comelec, 254 SCRA 397 (1996)
- Philippines Today Inc., vs. NLRC, 267 SCRA 202 (1997)
- Chinese Flour Importers' Assn vs. Price Stabilization Board, 89 Phil 439
- Quimpo vs. Mendoza, G.R. No. 33052, August 31, 1981, 107 SCRA 73
- People vs. Mapa, 20 SCRA 1164
- Ramos vs. Court of Appeals G.R. No. 43766, October 30, 1981, 108 SCRA 728
- Quijano vs. DBP, G.R. No 26419, October 19, 1970, 35 SCRA 270 (1970)
- Chartered Bank Employees Assn vs. Ople, 138 SCRA 273 (1985)
- Republic vs. Lacap, G.R. No. 158253, March 2, 2007
- National Food Authority vs. Masada Security Agency Inc., G.R. No. 163448 March 8, 2005
- Miranda vs. Imperial 77 Phil 1066
- People vs. Jubinal 55 SCRA 607
- Pesca vs. Pesca G.R. No. 136921, April 17, 2001
- Benzonan vs. Court of Appeals 205 SCRA 515 (1992)
- Roa vs. Collector of Customs, 23 Phil 315
- Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party vs. Comelec 359 SCRA 698 (2001)
- People vs. Ferrer, 48 SCRA 382 (1972)

VII. Limitation on the Power to Construe


a. Courts May Not Enlarge Nor Restrict Statutes
b. Courts must not Distinguish Where the Law Does Not Distinguish
c. Courts May Not Be Influenced by Question of Wisdom
Cases:
- Republic Flour Mills Inc., vs. Commissioner of Customs, G.R. No. 28463, May 31, 1971, 39
SCRA 268
- Enrile vs. Salazar 186 SCRA 217 (1990)
- Floresca vs. Philex Mining Corporation 136 SCRA 141 (1985)
- Philippine British Assurance Co. Inc., vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 150 SCRA 520
- Banco de Oro Saving and Mortgage Bank vs. Equitable Banking Corp., 157 SCRA 188
- Salenillas vs. Court of Appeals, 169 SCRA 829
- People vs. Garcia, 85 Phil 657
- Inchong vs. Hernndez 101 Phil 1155
- People vs. Nazario, 169 SCRA 186 (1988)
- Magtajas vs. Pryce Properties Corp., Inc., 234 SCRA 255 (1994)

ATTY. NESTOR MONDOK 44


Professor, Statutory Construction
COLLEGE OF LAW
UNIVERSITY OF THE CORDILLERAS