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STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION NOTES


Statutory Construction the art or process of discovering and expounding the
meaning and intention of the authors of the law with respect to its application to a
given case, where that intention is rendered doubtful, among others, by reason of the
fact that the given case is not explicitly provided for in the law.
Justice Martindefines statutory construction as the art of seeking the intention of the
legislature in enacting a statute and applying it to a given state of facts. A judicial
function is required when a statute is invoked and different interpretations are in
contention. Difference between judicial legislation and statutory construction: Where
legislature attempts to do several things one which is invalid, it may be discarded if
the remainder of the act is workable and in no way depends upon the invalid portion,
but if that portion is an integral part of the act, and its excision changes the manifest
intent of the act by broadening its scope to include subject matter or territory which
was not included therein as enacted, such excision is judicial legislation and not
statutory construction.
CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION DISTINGUISHED
Construction is the drawing of conclusions with respect to subjects that are beyond
the direct expression of the text, while interpretation is the process of discovering
the true meaning of the language used. Interpretation is limited to exploring the
written text. Construction on the other hand is the drawing of conclusions, respecting
subjects that lie beyond the direct expressions of the text.
SITUS OF CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION
In our system of government:
Legislative power is vested in the Congress of the Philippines the Senate and the
House of the Representatives
Executive power is vested in the President of the Republic of the Philippines (Art. VII,
Sec.1, Phil. Const.)
Judicial power is vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be
established by law. (Art VIII, Sec. 1, Phil. Const.)
Legislative makes the law
Executive - executes the law
Judicial interprets the law
Simply stated, the situs of construction and interpretation of written laws belong
to the judicial department. It is the duty of the Courts of Justice to settle actual

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controversiesinvolving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to


determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the
government.
Supreme Court is the one and only Constitutional Court and all other lower courts are
statutory courts and such lower courts have the power to construe and interpret
written laws.
DUTY OF THE COURTS TO CONSTRUE AND INTERPRET
THE LAW; REQUISITES
1. There must be an actual case or controversy,
2. There is ambiguity in the law involved in the controversy.
Ambiguity exists if reasonable persons can find different meanings in a statute,
document, etc. A statute is ambiguous if it is admissible of two or more possible
meanings. If the law is clear and unequivocal, the Court has no other alternative but
to apply the law and not to interpret. Construction and interpretation of law come
only after it has been demonstrated that application is impossible or inadequate
without them.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION
Hermeneutics the science or art of construction and interpretation.
Legal hermeneutics is the systematic body of rules which are recognized as
applicable to the construction and interpretation of legal writings.
Dr. Lieber in his work on Hermeneutics gives the following classification of the
different kinds of interpretation:
1. Close interpretation adopted if just reasons connected with the character and
formation of the text induce as to take the words in the narrowest meaning. This is
generally known as literal interpretation.
2. Extensive interpretation also called as liberal interpretation, it adopts a more
comprehensive signification of the words.
3. Extravagant interpretation substitutes a meaning evidently beyond the true one.
It is therefore not genuine interpretation.
4. Free or unrestricted interpretation proceeds simply on the general principles of
interpretation in good faith, not bound by any specific or superior principle.
5. Limited or restricted interpretation - influenced by other principles than the
strictly hermeneutic ones.

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6. Predestined interpretation takes place when the interpreter, laboring under a


strong bias of mind, makes the text subservient to his preconceived views and desires.
AIDS TO CONSTRUCTION
1. Intrinsic aids those found in the printed page of the statute itself
2. Extrinsic aids extraneous facts and circumstances outside the printed page
AIDS TO CONSTRUCTION IN GENERAL (Agpalo)
1. Title Serves as aid in case of doubt in its language to its construction ad to
ascertaining legislative will. Where the meaning of a statute is obscure, courts
may resort to its title to clear obscurity.
NOTE: When resort to the title is not authorized when the statute is clear
and free from doubt, it is improper to resort to its title to make it obscure.
THE TITLE MAY BE RESORTED TO IN ORDER TO REMOVE, BUT NOT TO
CREATE, DOUBT OR UNCERTAINTY.
2. Preamble A preamble is a part of the statute written immediately after its
title, which states the purpose, reason or justification for the enactment of the
law. Whereas clauses; maybe resorted to clarify ambiguity when the statute
is ambiguous. It is the key of the statute to open the minds of the lawmakers as
to the purpose to be achieved.
3. Context of whole text The best source from which to ascertain the legislative
intent is the statute itself; words, phrases, sentences, sections, clauses,
provisions. All these must be takenas a whole and in relation to one another.
Legislative intent should accordingly be ascertained from a consideration of the
whole context of the statute and not from an isolated part or particular
provision.
4. Punctuation Marks marks such as comma, a semi-colon, ad a period are
grammatical marks. It is a rule of legal hermeneutics that punctuation marks
are aids of low degree and can never control against the intelligible meaning of
the written words. The qualifying effect of a word or phrase may be confined
to its last antecedent if the latter is separated by a comma from other
antecedents
5. Capitalization of Letters Like punctuation marks, it is an aid of low degree in
the construction of statute.
6. Headnotes or Epigraphs These are convenient indexes to the contents of its
provisions. They are prefixed to sections or chapters of a statute for ready
reference or classification. In case of doubt or ambiguity in the meaning of the
law or the intention of the legislature, they may be consulted in aid of
interpretation. They are not entitled to much weight!
7. Lingual Text The rule is that unless otherwise provided, where a statute is
officially promulgated in English and Spanish, the English text shall govern.
However, in the case of ambiguity, omission or mistake, the Spanish may be
consulted to explain the English text. Where however, a statute is officially

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promulgated in Spanish, English or in Filipino, with translations in other


languages, the language in which it is written prevails over the transaction.
8. Intent or spirit of law The intent or spirit of law is the law itself. For this
reason, legislative intent or spirit is the controlling factor, the leading star and
guiding light in the application and interpretation of a statute. If a statute
needs construction, the influence most dominant in that process is the intent
or spirit of the act.
9. Policy of law The policy of the law once ascertained should be given effect by
the judiciary. One way of accomplishing this mandate is to give a statute of
doubtful meaning, a construction that will promote public policy. A
construction which would carry into effect the evident policy of the law.
10. Dictionaries Where a statute does not define the words or phrases used
therein nor does its purpose or the context in which the words or phrases are
employed indicate in their meaning, the courts may consult dictionaries, legal,
scientific, or general as aid in determining the meaning to be assigned to such
words or phrases.
11. Presumptions In construing a statute the court may properly rely on
presumptions as to legislative intent in order to resolve doubts as to its correct
interpretation. Presumptions are based on logic, experience and common
sense, and in the absence of compelling reasons to the contrary, doubts as to
the proper and correct construction of a statute will be resolved in favor of
that construction which is in accord with the presumption on the matter.
PRESUMPTIONS
In construing a doubtful or ambiguous statute, the Courts will presume that it was the
intention of the legislature to enact a valid, sensible and just law, and one which
should change the prior law no further than may be necessary to effectuate the
specific purpose of the act inquestion.
PRESUMPTION AGAINST UNCONSTITUTIONALITY
Laws are presumed constitutional. To justify nullification of law, there must be a clear
and unequivocal breach of the constitution. The theory is that, as the joint act of the
legislative and executive authorities, a law is supposed to have been carefully studied
and determined to be constitutional before it was finally enacted. All laws are
presumed valid and constitutional until or unless otherwise ruled by the Court.
PRESUMPTION AGAINST INJUSTICE
The law should never be interpreted in such a way as to cause injustice as this never
within the legislative intent. We interpret and apply the law in consonance with
justice.Judges do not and must not unfeelingly apply the law as it is worded, yielding
like robots to the literal command without regard to its cause and consequence.
PRESUMPTION AGAINST IMPLIED REPEALS
The two laws must be absolutely incompatible, and clear finding thereof must
surface, before the inference of implied repeal may be drawn. In the absence of an

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express repeal, a subsequent law cannot be construed as repealing a prior law unless
an irreconcilable inconsistency and repugnancy exists in terms of the new and old
laws.
PRESUMPTION AGAINST INEFFECTIVENESS
In the interpretation of a statute, the Court should start with the assumption that the
legislature intended to enact an effective statute.
PRESUMPTION AGAINST ABSURDITY
Statutes must receive a sensible construction such as will give effect to the legislative
intention so as to avoid an unjust and absurd conclusion. Presumption against
undesirable consequences were never intended by a legislative measure.
PRESUMPTION AGAINST VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW
Philippines as democratic and republican state 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. (Art. II,
Sec. 2, Phil. Constitution).
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY
Generally speaking, the history of the statute refers to all its antecedents from its
inception until its enactment into law. Its history proper covers the period and the
steps done from the time the bill is introduced until it is finally passed by the
legislature

Presidents message if the bill is enacted thereto Presidents address usually


contains proposed legislative measures
Explanatory note a short exposition or explanation accompanying a proposed
legislation
Committee reports of the legislative investigations and public hearings on the
subject of the bill
The sponsorship speech
The debates and deliberations concerning the bill
Amendments and changes in phraseology in which it undergoes before final
approval thereof
If it is a revision of a prior statute, the latters practical application and
judicial construction
STATUTE It is an act of the legislature as an organized body expressed in form and
passed according to the procedure required to constitute it as part of the law of the
land.
STATUTES

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1.
2.
3.
4.

Philippine Commission
The Philippine Legislature
The Batasang Pambansa
The Congress of the Philippines

KINDS OF STATUTE
1. Public Statute One which affects the public at large or the whole community
a. General Law one which applies to the whole state and operates
throughout the state alike upon all the people or all of a class
b. Special Law one which relates to particular persons or things of a class or
to a particular community individual or thing
c. Local Law one whose operation is confined to a specific place or locality
2. Private Statute one which applies only to a specific person or subject
3. Substantive Law law that tells us what our rights and duties are and what
constitutes violation of such rights and duties
4. Remedial Statute or Procedural Laws A statute providing means or methods
whereby causes of action may be effectuated
5. Penal Statute A statute that criminal offenses and specify fines and
punishment
6. Prospective Law A law applicable only to cases which shall arise after its
enactment
7. Retrospective Law A law which looks backward or contemplates the past; one
which is made to affect acts or facts occurring, or rights occurring before it
came into force
8. Mandatory Statutes Generic term describing statutes which require and not
merely permit a course of action
9. Directory Statutes a statute which is permissive or directory in nature and
merely outlines the act to be done in such a way that no injury can result from
ignoring it or that purpose can be accomplished in a manner other than that
prescribed and substantially the same result obtained.
10.Permanent Statute one whose operation is not limited in duration but
continues until repealed. It does not terminate by the lapse of a fixed period or
by the occurrence of an event.
11.Temporary Statute a statute whose duration is for a limited period of time
fixed in the statute itself or whose life ceases upon the happening of an event
COMMON SUBJECT OF CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION

Constitution
Statutes
Ordinances
Resolutions
Executive Orders
Department Circulars

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CLASSIFICATION OF INTERPRETATION
1. LIMITED OR RESTRICTED INTERPRETATION Influenced by other principles than
the strictly hermeneutic ones
2. PREDESTINED INTERPRETATION Takes place when the interpreter, laboring
under a strong bias of mind, makes the text subservient to his preconceived
views and desires.
LEGISLATIVE POWER It is the power or competence of the legislature to enact,
ordain, alter, modify, repeal or abrogate existing laws
LAW It is a rule of conduct, just and obligatory, laid down by legitimate authority for
common observance and benefit
SOURCES OF LAW
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

Constitution
Statutes
Presidential decrees and executive orders
Rulings of the Supreme Court
Administrative order, regulations and rulings
Ordinances
Custom

ELEMENTS OF LAW
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

It is a rule of conduct
Law must be just
It must be obligatory
Laws must be prescribed by legitimate authority and
Law must be ordained for the common benefit

BILL - is the draft of a proposed law from the time of its introduction in a legislative
body through all the various stages in both houses.

HOW DOES A BILL BECOME A LAW?

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1s2nd3rPRESIdt ReReaaDddENiinn gg T

NOTE: If after such reconsideration, two thirds of all members of the originating
House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent to the other House together with
the objections by which it shall also be considered. If then approved by again twothirds, the bill shall become a law.
THREE WAYS BY WHICH A BILL PASSED BY CONGRESS BECOMES A LAW
1. When the President signs it.
2. When the President does not sign nor communicate his veto of the bill within 30
days after his receipt thereof
3. When the vetoed bill is re-passed by 2/3 votes of all the members of the
Congress voting separately
CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE PASSAGE OF A BILL
1. Every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be
expressed in the title thereof.
2. No bill passed by either House shall become law unless it has passed three
readings on separate days, and printed copies thereof in its final form have

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been distributed to each member three days before its passage. Except when
the President certifies to the necessity its immediate enactment to meet public
calamity or emergency. Upon the last reading of a bill no amendment thereto
shall be allowed and the vote thereon shall be taken immediately thereafter
and the yeas and nays entered in the journal (Art. VI Sec. 26 of the 1987
Constitution)
3. Every bill passed by the Congress shall before it becomes a law, be presented to
the President. If he approves the same he shall sign it otherwise, he shall veto
it and return the same with his objections to the House where it originated,
which shall enter the objections at large in its Journal and proceed to
reconsider it (Art. VI Sec. 26 of the 1987 Constitution)
PARTS OF STATUTE
a. Title the heading on the preliminary part, furnishing the name by which the
act is individually known.
b. Enacting clause part of statute which declares its enactment and serves to
identify it as an act of legislation proceeding from the proper legislative
authority.
c. Repealing Clause - announces the prior statutes or specifies provisions which
have been abrogated by reason of the enactment of the new law.
d. Saving Clause restriction in a repealing act, which is intended to save rights,
pending proceedings, penalties, etc. from the annihilation which would result
from an unrestricted repeal.
e. Separability Clause provides that in the event that one or more provisions or
unconstitutional, the remaining provisions shall still be in force.
f. Effectivity Clause That part of the statute which announces the effective date
of the law.
PRESIDENTIAL ISSUANCE
Presidential issuances are those which the President issues in the exercise is ordinance
power. They include executive orders, administrative orders, proclamations,
memorandum order and memorandum circulars.
SUPREME COURT RULINGS/CIRCULARS
Article 8 of the Civil Code 1987 Philippine Constitution.
RULES AND REGULATIONS PROMULGATED BY ADMINISTRATIVE OR EXECUTIVE
OFFICERS PURSUANT TO A DELEGATED POWER
1. ORDINANCE
It is an act passed by the local legislative body in the exercise of its law
making authority.

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TEST OF VALID ORDINANCE


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

It
It
It
It
It
It

must
must
must
must
must
must

not contravene the Constitution or any statute;


not be unfair or oppressive;
not be partial or discriminatory;
not prohibit but may regulate trade;
be general and consistent with public policy; and
not be unreasonable.

VALIDITY OF A LAW
Every statute is presumed valid
ESSENTIAL REQUISITES FOR JUDICIAL INQUIRY INTO THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF
A LAW
1. There must be an actual case or controversy involving a conflict of legal rights
susceptible of judicial determination
2. The question of constitutionality must be raised by the proper party
3. The constitutional question must be raised at the earliest possible opportunity and
4. The decision of the constitutional question must be necessary to the determination
of the case itself
TAXPAYERS, VOTERS, CONCERNED CITIZENS AND LEGISLATORS MAYBE ACCORDED
STANDING TO USE PROVIDED THAT THE FOLLOWING REQUIREMENTS ARE MET:
1. Cases involve constitutional issues
2. For taxpayers, there must be a claim of illegal disbursement of public finds or that
the measure is unconstitutional
3. For voters, there must be a showing of obvious interest in the validity of the
election law in questions
4. For concerned citizens, there must be a showing that the issues raised are of
transcendental importance which must be settled early; and
5. For legislators, there must be a claim that the official action complained of
infringes upon their prerogatives as legislators
LEGISLATIVE INTENT
For construction purposes does not mean the collection of the subjective wishes,
hopes, and prejudices of each and every member of the legislature, but rather the
objective footprints left on the trail of legislative enactment.
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.

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CONTEMPORANEOUS CONSTRUCTION
As contemporaneous construction is the construction placed upon the statute by an
executive or administrative officer called upon to executive or administer such
statute.
Maxim: contemporeneaest optima et fortissimo in lege (the contemporary
construction is strongest in law.)
With the duty to enforce the laws comes the interpretation of its ambiguous
provisions.
STARE DECISIS
The decision of the Supreme Court applying or interpreting a statute is controlling
with respect to the interpretation of that statute and is of greater weight than that of
an executive or administrative officer in the construction of other statutes of similar
import.
DOCTRINE OF NECESSARY IMPLICATION
What is implied in a statute is as much a part thereof as that which is expressed.