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Statute is an act of legislature as an organized body, expressed in form, passed according to the procedure required to constitute it as part of the

law of the land.

Legislative purpose is the reason why a particular statue was enacted.

Legislation government,


an which,

active for

instrument purposes

of of

interpretation, means that law have ends to be Construction is the art or process of achieved.

discovering and expounding the meaning and intention of the authors of the law, where that intention is rendered doubtful by reason of the ambiguity in its language or the fact that the given case is not explicitly provided for in the law. Matters inquired into in construing a statute: 1. Ascertain the intention or meaning of the statute (Internal Element) 2. See whether the intention or meaning has been expressed in such a way as to give it legal Purpose: To ascertain and five effect to the intent of the law; to determine legislative intent. Sources of Legislative Intent: 1. Primary Source: Rules of Statutory Construction are tools used to ascertain the legislative intent; they are not rules but mere axioms of experience; they have no binding effect on the courts for they are only used to clarify, not to defeat, legislative intent. o o o o o Statute itself. effect and validity (External Element)

2. Other Sources: Purpose of the statute. Reason or cause which induced the enactment. Mischief to be suppressed. The policy which dictated its passage.

Legislative Intent is the essence of the law; the key to, and the controlling factor in its

* If these fails, the court may look into the effect of the law.

construction and interpretation. Other guides to intent: Where the words or phrases of a statute are not obscure and ambiguous, its meaning and the intention of the legislature must be determined from the language employed. o o o o o Subject matter of the act. Its expediency, occasion, and necessity. Reasonable practicability. Remedy Provided. Condition of the country to be affected.

o o

Consequences enactment.




interpretation comes only after it has been demonstrated that application is impossible without it.

Logic and sound economic principles.

Once the purpose of the law has been Construction is purely a judicial function. ascertained, effect should be given to it by the judiciary. The power and duty to interpret or construe a statue or the Constitution belong to the Where a statute is susceptible of more than one construction, that which will most tend to give effect to the manifest of the legislature


construction should be adopted. Principle of Separation of Powers: Under the constitution, the legislative If there is more application and less construction, there would be more stability in law.

department is assigned to the power to make and enact laws; the executive department is charged of the execution or carrying out the provisions of said laws; BUT the interpretation and application of said laws belong exclusively to the judicial department.

Court does not legislate in the instant case. The court merely applies and gives effect to the constitutional guarantees of social justice. DO AND MUST LEGISLATE (Justice Holmes) to fill in the gaps it the law; because the mind of the legislator, like all human beings, is finite and therefore cannot envisage all possible cases to which the law may apply. Nor has the human

The legislature has no power to overrule the interpretation or construction of a statute or the Constitution by the Supreme Court. (Reason: Principle of separation of powers) It is not the courts duty to determine the validity of legislative findings and reject them.

mind the infinite capacity to anticipate all situations Floresca v. Philex Mining

Corporation, 1985

Elements of Statutory Construction: 1. There must be an actual controversy. 2. It is ripe for judicial legislation.

Court has no power to change, but only to interpret the law as it stands at any given time.

When the Supreme Court has laid down a principle of law as applicable to a certain state of It is the courts primary (first and fundamental) duty to apply the law; construction and facts, it will adhere to that principle and apply it

to all future cases substantially the same.

where the facts are

In case of conflict between the statute and the constitution, the latter shall prevail.

Court may, in an appropriate case, change or overrule its previous construction.

Before the courts can determine whether a law is constitutional or not, it will have to interpret and ascertain the meaning not only of said law,

Judicial rulings have no retroactive effect.

but also of


pertinent portion of


constitution in order to decide whether there is The court may issue guidelines in applying the statute, not to enlarge or restrict it but to clearly delineate what the law requires. This is not judicial legislation but an act to define what the law is. A meaning that does not appear nor is intended or reflected in the very language of the statute Where there is no ambiguity, there is no room for construction. Courts must give effect to the general legislative There is ambiguity when a statute is intent that can be discovered from or is unraveled by the four corners of the statute and in order to discover the said intent, the whole statute, not only a particular provision thereof should be considered. Ambiguous a condition of admitting two or more meanings of being understood in more than one way or referring to two or more things at the same time. A statute ir act may be said to be vague when it lacks comprehensible standards that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess its meaning and differ as to its application. In determining the intention of the lawmaker, the courts are permitted to look to prior laws on the Statutes, to be declared null and void, must be utterly vague on its face, i.e., it cannot be clarified by construction. same subject and to investigate the antecedents or the legislative history of the statute involved. 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. cannot be placed therein be construction. conflict between the two, because if there is, then the law will have to give way and has to be declared invalid and unconstitutional.

incapable of being understood by reasonably well-informed persons in either of two senses.

Limitations on the power to construe:

1. Courts may not enlarge or restrict statutes. o o Doing so would be considered

The title may indicate the legislative extent or restrict the scope of the law, and a statute couched in a language of doubtful import will be construed to conform to the legislative intent as disclosed in its title. When the text of the statute is clear and free form doubt, it is improper to resort to its title to make it obscure. Preamble That part of the statute written immediately after

lawmaking. Courts may not revise even the most arbitrary o and unfair action of the

legislature. Courts may not rewrite the law to conform with what they think should be the law. o Courts may not interpret into the law a requirement which does not prescribe.

2. Courts may not be influenced by questions of wisdom. o They must not pass upon questions of wisdom, justice, or expedience of

its title, which states the purpose, reason or justification for the enactment of a law. It is usually expressed in the form of whereas clauses. It is not an essential part of the statute. But it may, when the statute is ambiguous, be resorted to clarify the ambiguity, as a key to open the minds of the lawmakers as to the purpose of the statute. Context of the whole text The best source from which to ascertain the legislative intent is the statute itself the words, the phrases, the sentences, sections, clauses, provisions taken as a whole and in relation to

legislation, for it is not within their province to supervise legislation. o As long as laws do not violate the constitution, the courts merely interpret and apply them regardless of whether or not they are wise or salutary. o Questions regarding wisdom, morality, or practicability of statutes are not addressed to the judiciary but may be resolved only by the legislative and executive departments.

AIDS TO CONSTRUCTION To ascertain the true intent of the statute, the court may avail of intrinsic aids, or those found in the printed page of the statute, and extrinsic aids, those extraneous facts and circumstances outside the printed page. Title

one another. Punctuation marks Punctuation marks are aids of low degree; they are not parts of the statute nor the English language.

Where there is, however, an ambiguity in a statute which may be partially or wholly solved by a punctuation mark, it may be considered in the construction of a statute. Capitalization of letters An aid of low degree in the construction of statutes.

corners of the law and aided if necessary by its legislative history. Policy of law A statute of doubtful meaning must be given a construction that will promote public policy. Purpose of law or mischief to be suppressed The purpose or object of the law or the mischief intended to be suppressed are important factors

Headnotes or epigraphs These are convenient index to the contents of the provisions of a statute; they may be consulted in case of doubt in interpretation. They are not entitled to much weight. Lingual text Unless otherwise provided, where a statute is officially promulgated in English and Spanish, the English text shall govern, but in case of ambiguity, omission or mistake, the Spanish may be consulted to explain the English text. The language in which a statute is written prevails over its translation.

to be considered in its construction. Dictionaries While definitions given by lexicographers are not binding, courts have adopted, in proper cases, such definitions to support their conclusion as to the meaning of the particular words used in a statute. Consequences of various constructions Construction of a statute should be rejected if it will cause injustice, result in absurdity or defeat the legislative intent. Presumptions Based on logic, common sense; eg.

Intent or spirit of law Legislative intent or spirit is the controlling factor, the influence most dominant if a statute needs construction. The intent of the law is that which is expressed in the words thereof, discovered in the four

Presumption of constitutionality, completeness, prospective application, right and justice, etc. Presumptions to Aid of Construction: 1. Constitutionality of the statute 2. Completeness 3. Prospective operation 4. Right and just

5. Of






Legislative debates, views and deliberations Where there is doubt as to what a provision of a statute means, that meaning which was put to the provision during the legislative deliberation or discussion on the bill may be adopted. Reports of commissions In construing the provisions of the code as thus enacted, courts may properly refer to the reports

reasonable operation as a whole 6. Against impossibility, absurdity, injustice and hardships, inconvenience and ineffectiveness. 7. As to words, phrases and provisions: The legislature understood their meaning and

intended their use and used them in their ordinary and common meaning.

Legislative History Where a statute is susceptible of several interpretations or where there is ambiguity in its language, there is no better means if

of the commission that drafted the code in aid of clarifying ambiguities therein. Prior laws from which the statute is based Legislative history will clarify the intent of the law or shed light on the meaning and scope of the codified or revised statute.

ascertaining the will and intention of the legislature than that which is afforded by the history of the statute.

What constitutes legislative history: All antecedents from the statutes inception until its enactment into law. Courts may investigate the history of the provisions to ascertain legislative intent as to the Presidents message to the legislature This usually contains proposed legislative meaning and scope of the amended law. Amendment by deletion The amendment statute should be given a construction different from that previous to its amendment. Adopted statutes Where local statutes are patterned after or copied from those of another country, the decisions of courts in such country construing those laws are entitled to great weight in the interpretation of such local statutes. Change in phraseology by amendments

measures and indicates the Presidents thinking on the proposed legislation which, when enacted into law, follows his line of thinking into the matter. Explanatory note A short exposition of explanation accompanying a proposed legislation by its author or

proponent. It contains statements of the reason or purpose of the bill, as well as arguments advanced by its author in urging its passage.

Principles of common law Courts may properly resort to common law principles in construing doubtful provisions of a statute, particularly where such a statute is modeled upon Anglo-American precedents. Conditions at the time of the enactment It is proper, in the interpretation of a statute, to consider the physical conditions of the country and the circumstances then obtaining which must of necessity affect its operation in order to understand the intent of the statute. History of the times The history of the times out of which the law grew and to which it may be rationally supposed to bear some direct relationship.

Conscience and equity should always be considered. The courts are not to be hedged in the literal meaning of the language of the statute; the spirit and intendment thereof must prevail over its letter, especially if the letter would result in absurdity and injustice.

The general purpose is a more important aid to the meaning than any rule which grammar or formal logic may lay down.

The spirit or intention of a statute prevails over the letter thereof and whatever is within the spirit of the statute is within the statute although it is not within the letter thereof, while that which is within the letter, but not within the spirit of the statute, is not within the statute; but when the law is free from ambiguity, the letter is not to be disregarded on the pretext of pursuing its spirit.

Words used in a statute are to be given their usual To depart from the meaning expressed by the words is to alter the statute, is to legislate, not interpret. Legislative Interpretation is not controlling, but Where the language of a statute adequately expresses the intention of the legislature, it must be given effect regardless of the consequence, but where the intention of the legislature is so inadequately or vaguely expressed as to require construction, the court may consider the results and When a statute is ambiguous, then the court may resort to departure from literal the courts may resort to it to clarify ambiguity in the language thereof. and commonly understood meaning

unless it is plain from the statute that a different meaning is intended.

interpretation, in such case, the statute must be interpreted in such way that: 1. Interpretation will give the statute efficacy 2. Purpose will be achieved 3. Absurdity and inconvenience will be avoided

consequences of any proposed construction and should, if possible, avoid construction which will cause objectionable results.

4. Impossible will not be required 5. Right and justice will be favored 6. Injustice will be avoided 7. Danger to public interest will be avoided

It must be noted that: 1. When the reason for the law ceases, the law itself ceases. 2. Words in plural include the singular and vice-versa. 3. The masculine includes all genders. 4. Every rule has exceptions.

Implications: 1. Grant of the greater power includes the lesser. 2. Grant of the lesser power does not include the greater. 3. Where there is right, there is remedy for violation thereof. 4. Courts jurisdiction cannot be implied from the language of the statute nor can the ROC confer it. 5. In the grant of jurisdiction to a court, it is implied to carry with it necessary and incidental powers and means essential to make its jurisdiction effective. 6. Where a general power is conferred or duty enjoined, every particular power necessary for the exercise of one is also conferred. 7. What is implied should not be against the law. 8. Authority to charge against public find may not be implied. 9. What cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly. 10. An act in violation of a statute prohibiting such act shall be implied as null and void.

As a general rule, words used in a statute are to be given their usual and commonly understood meaning unless it is plain from the statute that a different meaning is intended.

Words and phrases having a technical meaning are construed according to their technical sense, unless it is apparent that a different meaning was intended by the legislature.

MAY is merely permissive and operates to confer discretion upon a party. Under ordinary circumstances, the term MAY BE connotes possibility; it does not connote certainty. May is an auxiliary verb indicating liberty, opportunity, permission, or possibility. SHALL means ought to, must. Obligation used to command or exhortation, used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is mandatory.

Courts in construction of statute may: 1. Correct clerical errors. 2. Supply the omissions. 3. Disregard surplus or superfluity. 4. Disregard redundant words. 5. Disregard looser obscure words. In its ordinary signification, the word shall is imperative or mandatory. However, this signification is not always followed; it may be construed as may when so required by the context or by the intention of the statute.

Whether the word may in a statute is to be construed as mandatory or permissive, is to be determined in each case from the

Rests on the valid presumption that the words employed by the legislature in a statute correctly express its intent or will and preclude the court form construing it differently. DURA LEX SED LEX The law may be harsh, but it is still the law UBI LEX NON DISTINGUIT NEC NOS

apparent intention of the statute as gathered from the context, as well as from the language of the particular provision. The question in this case is whether, taken as a whole and viewed in the light of surrounding circumstances, it can be said that a purpose existed on the part of the legislator to enact a law mandatory in its character. If it can, then it should be given a mandatory effect; if not, then it should be given its ordinary permissive effect. (FFF v. Inciong, 1988)

DISTINGUERE DEBEMOS Courts must not distinguish where the law does not distinguish General words and phrases in a statute should ordinarily be accorded their natural and general significance.

Where the law does not make any exception, EVERY means one of a group without exception. It means all possible and all taken one by one. TERM in a legal sense means a fixed and definite period of time which the law describes that an officer may hold an office; duration of tenure. LAWS refer not only to those of general application, but also to those of local application. VERBA LEGIS NON EST RECEDENDUM From the language of the statute, there LEGAL MAXIMS should be no departure. EX NECESSITATE LEGIS The necessity of law 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 courts may not except something therefrom, unless there is compelling reason apparent in the law to justify it. INTERPRETATIO SEMPER FRIENDA TALIS EST, IN UT AMBIGUIS EVITATUR

INCONVENIENS ET ABSURDUM Where there is ambiguity, such interpretation will avoid inconvenience and absurdity is to be adopted.

INDEX ANIMI SERMO EST Speech is the index of intention When the provision of the law is clear, plain, and free from ambiguity, it must be applied without attempted or strained interpretations

subsidiary consequences as my be fairly and logically inferred from its terms. IN EO PLUS SIT, SIMPERT INEST ET MINUS The greater includes the lesser Every statutory grant of power, right, or privilege is deemed to include all incidental power, right, or privilege. CASUS OMISSUS An omitted case A person, object, or thing has been omitted from enumeration must be held to have been omitted intentionally. A word, phrase should be interpreted in relation The rule does not apply where it is shown that the legislature did not intend to exclude the person, thing, object from the enumeration. If such legislative intent is clearly indicated, the court may supply the omission if to do so will carry out the clear intent of the legislature and will not do violence to its language. CONTEMPORANEA Where most of the words in an enumeration of words in a statute are used in their generic and ordinary sense, the rest of the words should be similarly construed. to, or given the same meaning of, words with which it is associated. NOSCITUR A SOCIIS Doctrine of associated words 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 made clear and specific by considering the company in which it is found or with which it is associated.

Where the law does not define a word used therein, it will be construed as having a meaning similar to that of words associated with or accompanied by it.



Where a word with more than one meaning is associated with words having specific or

OPTIMA ET FORTISSIMA IN LEGE The contemporary construction is strongest in law. STARE DECISIS ET NON QUIETA MOVERE One should follow past precedents and should not disturb what has been settled. INTEREST LITIUM Interest of the state demands that there be an end to litigation REIPUBLICAE UT SIT FINIS

particular signification, the former should be given specific or particular signification. EJUSDEM GENERIS Of the same kind While general words or expressions in a statute are, as a rule, accorded their full, natural, and generic sense, they will not be given such meaning if they are used in association with specific words or phrases.

General rule is that where a general word or phrase follows an enumeration of particular and specific words of the same class or where the latter follow the former, the general word or phrase is to be construed to include, or to be restricted to, persons, things, or cases akin to, resembling, or of the same kind or class as those specifically mentioned.

result which would be reached by the application of the rule Ejusdem Generis, the latter must give way. EXPRESSIO ALTERUS Express mentioned and implied exclusion Where a statute enumerates the subjects or things on which it is to operate or the persons UNIUS EST EXCLUSIO

Where a statute describe 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

affected or forbids certain things, it is to be construed as excluding from its effect all those not expressly mentioned.

something in the context of the statute to repel such inference.

PURPOSE: give effect to both the particular words, by treating the particular words as indicating the class and the general words as indicating all that is embraced in said class, although not specifically named by particular words.

This principle is based on the proposition that had the legislature intended the general words to be used in their generic and unrestricted sense, it would not have enumerated the specific words.

APPLICATION: where specific and generic terms of the same nature are employed in the same act, the latter will follow the former.

WHEN NOT APPLICABLE: If the intent clearly appears from other parts of the law, and such intent thus clearly manifested is contrary to the