English as medium in Philippine Law
Presented by Group 1 – TEAM MONICA
Almario, Alain
Colegado, Raphael
Duque, Nikolai
Espiritu, Carmela
Norris, Kathleen
Ocampo, Rosaldy

The Language of the Law

•Old laws are in English and Spanish

“The Spanish Language shall continue to be recognized as
an official language in the Philippines while important
documents in government files are in the Spanish language
and not translated either in English or Filipino language.”

The 1973 Constitution had provided that it was to
be promulgated officially English and in Pilipino,
and translated into each dialect spoken by over
thousand people ; and in case of conflict, the
English text shall prevail.

The present Congress, particularly the Senate,
often switches to Filipino in conducting its
proceedings, although some people do not agree
that Tagalog is the national language of Filipino.
We still have to clear up this matter.

Effectivity of English as Medium
• In general, the use of English language is
more precise than the use of Filipino
language, which would sometimes give
ambiguous meaning to its sense.
a. Issues in using Filipino
• The so-called language barrier in the
Philippine legal system is symptomatic of
deeper issues of language and power that
have beset other sectors such as education,
trade and industry.
Justice Isagani A. Cruz once lamented “Still on
announcers, I am mildly annoyed by that anchor
man who often speaks of “apat na kalalakihan” or
“tatlong kababaihan” to mean “manhood” or “three
womanhood”, which is ridiculous.” He further cited
that “Another aberration of our language that has
puzzled me is the use of the word “inaasahan”, to
denote both “hoped” and “expected”. In another
observation, a researcher implied that the correct or
incorrect translation of language and that of
grammar can be detrimental to the accused.

• e.g. at a hearing on a homicide case, RTC Judge
prepare to dismissed the case because neither
witnesses nor representative of the victim had
been attending the session. The case had lagged
for almost four years but just before the Judge
announced his decision, he asked one more
question, this time using the Filipino language:
“Sino sa inyo ang nakakakilala sa biktima.” An
elderly woman raised her hand.
Judge explained to her the situation and
recognizing that the woman had frequented his
courtroom, asked why she had not been
participating in the sessions. The woman
replied, “Hindi po ako marunong ng English.”
b. Pros and Cons
• A universal language
• More precise in meaning
• Reference books are now mostly written in English
• Judicial decisions and pleadings are mostly written in
• Not all people can understand the English language
• Anti-poor

• F. Gupit Jr., A Guide To Philippine Legal
Materials (1993)
• M. Ulep, Basic Legal Writing (1
ed., 2002)
• I. Pefianco Martin, Expanding the Role of
Philippine Languages in the Legal System: The
Dim Prospects in Ateneo L.J.