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TitleStatutory Construction
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Page 1


Professor, Statutory Construction

(A Compendium from the books of Rodriguez, Martin and Agpalo)


I. Statutory Construction

- Statutory construction is the art or process of discovering and expounding the meaning
and intention of the authors of the law with respect to its application in a given case,
where the intention rendered is doubtful by reason of the fact that the given case is not
explicitly provided for in the law (Caltex vs. Palomar 18 SCRA 247)

- It is the art of seeking the intention of the authors of the legislature in creating a statute
and applying it to given a state of facts.

- It is the art or process of ascertaining the intention of the law-making body to resolve
ambiguity in the law or its part.

Note: Only statutes with ambiguous or doubtful meaning may be the subject of Statutory


- Is the doubtfulness, doubleness, indistinctness, non-singularity or uncertainty of meaning
of an expression used in a written instrument (Black’s Law Dictionary).

- Also refers to vagueness or obscurity of the true sense or meaning of an expression, text
or language used in a statute.

II. Legal Hermeneutics
- It is the branch of science that establishes the principles and rules of interpretation and

construction of written laws.
- Branch of Jurisprudence

III. Exegesis

- The application of the principles and rules established by legal hermeneutics.

Statutory Construction Legal Hermeneutics Exegesis

Seeking the intention using
the principles/procedures to
be able to interpret or

Establish the principles and
rules: knowing the

Application of principles
and rules

Goal: To ascertain the intention of the authors of the law.

Cardinal Rule on Statutory Construction

- Achieve the goal of the law
- Ascertain the intention of the framers of the law

Facts + Law = Decision
(F + L = D)

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Professor, Statutory Construction

Chapter 1

Statute – is an Act of the legislature as an organized body; it is the Written will of the
legislature, Expressed according to the form necessary to constitute it a law of the state and
Rendered authentic by certain prescribed forms and solemnities. (AWER)

Law – a rule of conduct or order of sequence which any being will not, ought not or cannot
deviate. Elements: certain kinds of force, deviation and consequence.

Bill – is a proposed law; draft of a law submitted to the consideration of the legislative body for

Kinds of Bills

1. Appropriation Bill – the primary and specific purpose is to authorize the release of funds
from the public treasury.

2. Revenue Bill – one that levies taxes and raises funds for the government.
3. Tariff Bill – one that specifies the rates or duties to be imposed on imported articles.
4. Bill Increasing Public Debt – one that authorizes the government to borrow money, either

by borrowing from external sources or offering bonds for public subscriptions.
5. Bill of Local Application – one which is local in character like the creation of new town,

city or province.
6. Private Bill – one that will not operate directly for the public good but calculate to serve

good will (e.g. bills granting honorary membership).

How laws are made: (Procedures)
o Research

 First Reading – any member of either house may present a bill, signed by him and
reference to the proper committee; principal author may propose the inclusion; the bill is
read by its title number and name/s of author/s

o Referral to the Appropriate Committee – if disapproved, the bill dies a natural
death unless the House decides otherwise following the submission of the report.

 Second Reading – the entire bill is read. Debates ensue and changes and amendments
are inserted. The bill is then printed and distributed to all the members of congress. If
favored the bill is forwarded to the Committee on Rules.

 Third Reading – only the title of the bill is read; voting takes place; majority is sufficient to
pass the bill

 Referral to the Other House – the same procedure takes place
o Submission to Joint Bicameral Committee
o Enrolled Bill/Journal

 Submission to the President

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Professor, Statutory Construction

 Generalia Specialibus Non Derogant
A penal law does not nullify a specific law. Special provisions prevail over
general provisions. A special law must be intended to constitute an exception to the
general law in the absence of special circumstances forcing a contrary conclusion.

 Legis Posteriors Priores Contraries Abrogant
In case of an irreconcilable conflict between two laws of different vintages, the
latter enactment prevails. The rationale is that a latter law repeals an earlier one
because it is the latter legislative will. It is to be presumed that the lawmaker knew the
older law and intended to change it. In enacting the older law, the legislators cannot
have known the newer one and hence could have intended to change what they did not
know. Under the Civil Code, laws are repealed only by subsequent ones.

 Optima Statuli Interpretatix Est Ipsum Statutum
The best interpreter of a statute is the statute itself

 Ut Res Magis Quam Pereat
This means that it is not enough that the statute should be given effect as a
whole but that effect should be given to each of the provisions of the statute.

 Pari Matria (Materia) Rule
All statute relating to the same subject, or having the same general purpose,
should be construed together as if they constituted one law. They should be construed
and harmonized with the existing law.

 Lex Prospicit, Non Respicit
The law looks forward not backwards.

 Lex De Futuro, Judex De Praterito
The law provides for the future, the judge for the past.

 Ubi Lex Non Distinguit Nec Nos Distinguire Debemos
When the law does not distinguish, courts should also not distinguish. Founded
on logic, the rule is corollary of the principle that general words and phrases in a statute
should ordinarily be accorded their natural and general significance. It requires that the
general words and phrases should not be reduced into parts and other parts
distinguished from the other parts so as to justify its exclusion from the operation of the
law. There should be no distinction in the application of a statute where none is

 Index Animi Sermo Est
Speech is the index of ntention

 Interpration Talis In Ambiguis Semper Frienda Est, Ut Eviatur Inconveniens Et
Where there is ambiguity, such interpretation as will avoid inconvenience and
absurdity is to be adopted.

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