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CANONS OF CONSTRUCTION

Maliones, Evanne Grace | Misa, Eriberto | Nengasca, Patricia | Verana, Cassandra


Canons of Construction, Definition

• A set of background norms and conventions that are widely used


by courts in interpreting statutes.

• They serve as rules of thumb or presumptions that help extract


substantive meaning from the language, context, structure and
subject matter of a statute.
Three theories of Interpretation of Statutes
• Intentionalism
– The aim of statutory interpretation is the realization of legislative intent.
Since it is difficult to ascertain the singular intent of hundreds of
representatives, intentionalists view extrinsic legislative sources as
legitimate sources of authorit, insofar as it provides evidence of legislative
intent.

• New Textualism
– discards legislative history as an illegitimate source of authority and
consider other provisions of the same statute or similar provisions in the
code and examine how borrowed statutes are interpreted and consult
contemporary dictionaries.
Three theories of Interpretation of Statutes, (continued)

• Pragmatism
– rely on multiple supporting arguments rather than any
conclusive single argument. Thus, there is no single
authoritative source. A judge will make argument based on
multiple factors and weigh copeting arguments against each
other.
Classifications of Canons

• Substantive
– inspired by values drawn from common law, statutes, and the constitution.
– Reflect judicially-based concerns grounded in the courts' understanding of
how to treat stutory text with reference to judicially perceived constitutional
priorities
– usually take the form of clear statement rules or background presumptions
that can only be overcome by clearevidence.
– Example: “Courts will interpret legislation to avoid intefering with state
sovereignty or limiting federal jurisdiction unless congress has been
unmitakably clear on those questions.
Classifications of Canons (continued)

• Linguistic
– Apply rules of syntax to statutes
– Example: “inclusio unuis est exclusio alterious” or “inclusion of
one is exclusion of the other”
– the purpose of this type of canon is to decipher the legislature's
intent based on its choice of certain words rather than othersor
its grammatical configuration of those words in a given
sentence.
THE CANONS OF CONSTRUCTION
A. Plain meaning rule or Verba Legis
• If the language of the statute is plain and free from ambiguity, and
express a single, definite, and sensible meaning, that meaning is
conclusively presumed to be the meaning which the legislature
intended to convey.
Bolos vs. Bolos
G.R. 186400, October 20, 2010

• Topic: Applicability of A.M. No 02-11-10-SC (Rule on Declaration of


Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages). Sec 1 of the Rule which reads:
– Section 1. Scope - This rule shall govern petitions for declaration of
absolute nullity of void marriages and annulment of voidable
marriages under the Family Code of the Philippines.

• Issue: Whether or not the phrase “under the Family Code”


pertains to “petitions” or “marriages” entered into during the
effectivity of the family code.
Bolos vs. Bolos
G.R. 186400, October 20, 2010 (continued)

Ruling:
• The categorical language of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC leaves no room for doubt.
The coverage extends only to those marriages entered into during the
effectivity of the Family Code which took effect on August 3, 1988.

• A cardinal rule in statutory construction is that when the law is clear and
free from any doubt or ambiguity, there is no room for construction or
interpretation. As the statute is clear, plain, and free from ambiguity, it must
be given its literal meaning and applied without attempted interpretation. This
is what is known as the plain-meaning rule or verba legis.
B. Legislative Intent
• The object of all interpretation and construction of statutes is to
ascertain the meaning and intention of the legislature, to the end
that the same may be enforced.
Ramirez vs. CA
GR. 93833, September 25, 1995

• Topic: Section 1 of R.A. 4200 entitled, ” An Act to Prohibit and Penalized


Wire Tapping and Other Related Violations of Private Communication and
Other Purposes,” provides:

• Sec. 1. It shall be unlawful for any person, not being authorized by all the
parties to any private communication or spoken word, to tap any wire or
cable, or by using any other device or arrangement, to secretly overhear,
intercept, or record such communication or spoken word by using a device
commonly known as a dictaphone or dictagraph or detectaphone or walkie-
talkie or tape recorder, or however otherwise described.
Ramirez vs. CA
GR. 93833, September 25, 1995 (continued)

• Issue: Whether or not the applicable provision of Republic Act 4200


applies to the taping of a private conversation by one of the parties to the
conversation.
• Ruling: Theprovision clearly and unequivocally makes it illegal for any
person, not authorized by all the parties to any private communication to
secretly record such communication by means of a tape recorder. The law
makes no distinction as to whether the party sought to be penalized by the
statute ought to be a party other than or different from those involved in the
private communication. The statute’s intent to penalize all persons
unauthorized to make such recording is underscored by the use of the
qualifier “any”.
C. Statutes as a Whole
• A cardinal rule in statutory construction is that legislative intent must be
ascertained from a consideration of the statute as a whole and not merely of
a particular provision. A word or phrase might easily convey a meaning
which is different from the one actually intended.
• A statute should be construed as a whole because it is not to be presumed
that the legislature has used any useless words, and because it is dangerous
practice to base the construction upon only a part of it, since one portion may
be qualified by other portions.
Smart Communications, Inc. vs.City of Davao
G.R. 155491, September 16, 2008

• Topic: Ascertainment of Smart Communications' rights under the Tax Code


of the City of Davao, particularly section 1, Article 10 which provides:
“Notwithstanding any exemption granted by any law or otehr special law, there is
hereby imposed a tax of businesses enjoying a franchise, at teh rate of 75% of 1% of
the gross annual receipts for the rpeceding calendar year based on the income or
receipts realized within the territorial jurisdiction of Davao City.”

Smart contends that its telecenter in Davao City is exempt from payment of franchise
tax to the City. One of the grounds was that the issuance of its franchise under Republic
Act (R.A.) No. 7294 (Smart Legislative Franchise) subsequent to R.A. No. 7160 shows
the clear legislative intent to exempt it from the provisions of R.A. 7160.

• Issue: Whether Smart is liable to pay the franchise tax imposed by the City of Davao.
Smart Communications, Inc. vs.City of Davao
G.R. 155491, September 16, 2008 (continued)

• Ruling: In order to ascertain its meaning, consistent with fundamentals of


statutory construction, all the words in the statute must be considered.
The grant of tax exemption by R.A. No. 7294 is not to be interpreted from a
consideration of a single portion or of isolated words or clauses, but from a
general view of the act as a whole.

• In this case R.A. No. 7294 does not expressly provide what kind of taxes
Smart is exempted from. It is not clear whether the in lieu of all taxes
provision in the franchise of Smart would include exemption from local or
national taxation. What is clear is that Smart shall pay franchise tax
equivalent to three percent (3%) of all gross receipts of the business
transacted under its franchise.
D. Spirit and Purpose of the Law
(Ratio Legis)
• The intent or the spirit of the law is the law itself.
• Legislative intent or spirit is the controlling factor, the leading star and the
guiding light in the application and interpretation of a statute
• The spirit, rather than the letter, of a statute determines its construction;
hence a statute must be read according to its spirit or intent.
Manuel Uy vs Enrico Palomar
GR L-23248 February 28, 1969

• In the Postal Law the term in question (gift enterprise) is


used in association with the word "lottery". It is only logical
that the term under construction should be accorded no
other meaning than that which is consistent with the
nature of the word associated therewith.
E. Statute of later date prevails
(Leges Posteriores Priores Contrarias Abrogant)
• A statute which is later repugnant to an earlier statute is
deemed to have abrogated the earlier one on the same
subject matter.
• Statute of later date prevails.
Carabao, Inc. vs Agricultural Productivity Commission
G.R. L-29304 September 30, 1970

• The corresponding provisions of Act 3083 which are utterly


incompatible with those of Commonwealth Act must therefore be
deemed superseded and abrogated, under principle of "leges
posteriores priores contrarias abrogant" — a later statute which is
repugnant to an earlier statute is deemed to have abrogated the
earlier one on the same subject matter.
F. Special Provisions prevail over a general one
(Generalia Specialibus Non Derogant)

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


• Special provisions prevail over a general one.
Customs vs. Court of Tax Appeals, Smith Bell Co., Inc.
G.R. L-41861 March 23, 1987

• If the weight of the cargo is in issue, the provision of the Tariff and
Customs Code properly applicable is Sec. 2523. As the maxim
goes, “Generalia specialibus non derogant,” meaning a special
and specific provision prevails over a general provision
irrespective of their relative position in the statute.
G. A special law prevails over a general law
• GENERAL RULE: Special Provisions prevail over general one.
This test is applied when both customary and treaty sources of
law exist and the two sources cannot be construed consistently.

• EXCEPTION: When a general law covers a specific topic or


provision or treats a subject in particular, while the special law has
not covered the specific subject matter or refers to it in general.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
General Law – affects the community at large. That which affects all people of
the state or all of a particular class.

Special Law – designed for a particular purpose, or limited in range or confined


to a prescribed field of action on operation.

• 1. If the general law was enacted first, the special law is considered the
exception to the general law. Therefore the general law remains a good law,
and there is no repeal except insofar as the exception or special law is
concerned. However if there are inconsistencies with the general law it is
considered as a repeal to the general law.
POINTS TO REMEMBER (continued)
• 2. If the special law was enacted first, both special law and
general law are good laws unless:

• a. There is an express declaration to the contrary.

• b. Or there is a clear, necessary and irreconcilable conflict (Or


unless the subsequent general law covers the whole subject and
is clearly intended to replace the special law on the matter.
Lopez vs. The Civil Service Commission
G.R. No. 87119 April 16, 1991
• ISSUE: Whether or not Section 15, Republic Act No. 409, of the Charter of the City of
Manila has been repealed.

• RULING: No. RA 409 is a special law which provides specifically for the organization of the
Government of the City of Manila, whereas Republic Act No. 5185 and Batas Blg. 337, which
apply to municipal governments in general, are general laws.
• It is a canon of statutory construction that a special law prevails over a general law —
regardless of their dates of passage — and the special is to be considered as remaining an
exception to the general. Every effort must be exerted to avoid a conflict between statutes. If
reasonable construction is possible, the laws must be reconciled in that manner.
• Repeals of laws by implication moreover are not favored, and the mere repugnancy between
two statutes should be very clear to warrant the court in holding that the later in time repeals
the other.
H. Pari Materia Rule
• MEANING: When they relate to the same person or thing, or have the same
purpose or object or cover the same specific or particular subject matter. It is
sufficient that the two or more statutes relates to the same specific subject
matter. Statues in pari materia should be construed together to attain the
purpose of an express national policy.

• EXCEPTION: If two or more statutes on the same subject were enacted at


different times and under different conditions and circumstances, their
interpretation should be in accordance with the circumstances or conditions
peculiar to each. A statute will not be construed as repealing prior acts or acts
on the same subject matter.
Antonio Mecano vs. Commission on Audit
G.R. No. 103982 December 11, 1992
• ISSUE: Whether or not the Administrative Code of 1987 repealed or abrogated
Section 699 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917.

• Ruling: It is a well-settled rule of statutory construction that repeals of statutes by


implication are not favored. The presumption is against inconsistency and
repugnancy for the legislature is presumed to know the existing laws on the subject
and not to have enacted inconsistent or conflicting statutes. The two Codes should
be read in pari materia.
I. Common Law Principle vs. Statutory Principle
• DEFINITION OF COMMON LAW PRINCIPLE: The common law implies the
law that emerges from new decisions made by the judges, courts and
tribunals.

• DEFINITION OF STATUTORY LAW PRINCIPLE: The statutory law means a


formal written law, that the legislature adopts as a statute.

• Between the two, statutory principle shall prevail. The common law principle
shall only apply if there is no other law applicable.
Comparison

BASIS FOR
COMMON LAW STATUTORY LAW
COMPARISON
Meaning The law that emerges out of judicial Statutory law is the system of principles
decisions is called common law. and rules of law put forth by the statute.
Alternately known as Case law Legislation

Nature Instructive Prescriptive

Based on Recorded judicial precedent. Statutes enforced by legislature.

Operational level Procedural Substantive

Amendment Amended by statutory law Amended by a separate statute


J. Doctrine of Necessary Implication
• This states that what is implied in a statute is as much a part
thereof as that which is expressed.
Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Inc. vs. Secretary of Labor
G.R. 96663 August 10, 1999
• Ruling: The doctrine of necessary implication states that what is implied in a statute
is as much a part thereof as that which is expressed.

• No statute can be enacted that can provide all the details involved in its application.
There is always an omission that may not meet a particular situation. What is
thought, at the time of the enactment, to be an all embracing legislation maybe
inadequate to provide for the unfolding events of the future. So-called gaps in the
law develop as the law is enforced. One of the rules of statutory construction used
to fill in the gap is the doctrine of necessary implication xxx, 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, privileges or
jurisdiction which it grants, including all such collateral and subsidiary consequences
as may be fairly and logically inferred from its terms.
K. Casus Omissus
(Casus Omises pro omisso habendus est)

• This rule states that a person, object, or thing omitted from an


enumeration must be held to have been omitted from an
enumeration, must be held to have been omitted intentionally. In
other words, the maxim operates and applies only if and when the
omission has been clearly established.
Spouses Delfina vs. St. James Hospital, Inc
G.R. 166735 September 5, 2006

• Ruling: Applying the principle of cases ominous, the SC decided against the
respondents, and construed the 1991 Zoning Ordinance as follows:

• A thing omitted must be considered to have been omitted intentionally.


Therefore, with the omission of the phrase hospital with not more than ten
capacity in the new Zoning Ordinance, and the corresponding transfer of said
allowable usage to another zone classification, the only logical conclusion is
that the legislative body had intended that said use be removed from those
allowed within a residential zone. Thus, the construction of medical
institutions, such as St. James Hospital, within a residential zone is now
prohibited under the 1991 Zoning Ordinance.
L. Doctrine of Stare Decisis
• Also called the Doctrine of Adherence to Judicial Precedents, it
requires that courts in a country must follow the rules established
in the decision of its Supreme Court. The decision becomes a
judicial precedent to be followed in subsequent cases by all courts
in the land.
Ty vs. Banco Filipino Savings and Mortgage Bank
G.R. 149797-98 February 13, 2004

• Ruling: The doctrine of stare decisis et non quieta movere, means "to
adhere to precedents, and not to unsettle things which are established."
• Under the doctrine, when this Court has once laid down a principle of law as
applicable to a certain state of facts, it will adhere to that principle, and apply
it to all future cases, where facts are substantially the same; regardless of
whether the parties and property are the same.
• The doctrine of stare decisis is based upon the legal principle or rule involved
and not upon the judgment, which results therefrom. In this particular sense,
stare decisis differs from res judicata, which is based upon the judgment.
-The End-