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Philippines Legal System

The Philippine legal system is a mixture of customary usage, Roman (civil law) and Anglo-
American (common law) systems, and Islamic law. The legal system is the result of the
immigration of Muslim Malays in the fourteenth century and the subsequent colonisation of the
islands by Spain and the United States. The civil law operates in areas such as family relations,
property, succession, contract and criminal law while statutes and principles of common law
origin are evident in such areas as constitutional law, procedure, corporations law, taxation,
insurance, labour relations, banking and currency.


History of the Constitution

CONSTITUTIONNET contains a brief constitutional history of the Philippines.

World Constitutions Illustrated - Philippines on HEIN Online contains the full text of all
Philippines Constitutions and Fundamental Laws, and a wealth of background and historical
constitutional scholarship.

 1899 Malolos Constitution - First Philippine Constitution

 Philippine Organic Act of 1902 and Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916
 1935 Constitution - Approved by 1934 Constitutional Convention (February 08, 1935). Certified
by the President of the United States on March 25, 1935. Ratified by plebiscite on May 14, 1935.
 1935 Constitution - As amended on June 18, 1940, and on March 11, 1947
 1943 Constitution - As approved by the Preparatory Committee on Philippine Independence,
September 04, 1943 and ratified by the KALIBAPI Convention, September 07, 1943
 1973 Constitution - Draft presented to President Marcos by the 1971 Constitutional Convention
on December 1, 1972; deemed ratified by Citizens Assemblies held from January 10 to 15, 1973,
proclaimed in force by Proclamation by President Marcos, January 17, 1973.
 1973 Constitution - As amended in October 16 – 17, 1976, on January 30, 1980, and April 7,
 1986 Freedom Constitution - Proclamation No. 3 Declaring a national policy to implement
reforms mandated by the people protecting their basic rights, adopting a provisional
constitution, and providing for an orderly transition to a government under a new constitution.
 1987 Constitution - Present Constitution

Amending the Constitution
Amendments to the Constitution can be proposed by one of three methods:

 a People's Initiative;
 a Constituent Assembly; or
 a Constitutional Convention.

All proposed amendments, regardless of the method of proposal, must be ratified by a majority
vote in a national referendum.

There have been five constitutional conventions in Philippine history:

 Tejeros Convention (1897)

 Malolos Congress (1899)
 1934 Constitutional Convention
 1973 Constitutional Convention
 1987 Constitutional Commission

None of the proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution has succeeded, because none have
reached the ratification by referendum stage.