Article 2: Effectivity of Laws


Article 2. Laws shall take effect after fifteen (15) days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided. This Code shall take effect one year after such publication. (New Civil Code of the Philippines)

Executive Order 200, dated June 18, 1987, modifying Article 2 of the Civil Code, provides for the publication of laws either in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines as a requirement for effectivity. In its amended form, Article 2 provides that, unless otherwise provided, laws shall take effect after 15 days following the completion of the publication in the Official Gazette (Art. 2, Civil Code) or in a newspaper of general circulation.

MYSTERIOUS RULES: Laws must come out in the open in the clear light of the sun instead of skulking in the shadows with their dark, deep secrets. Mysterious pronouncements and rumored rules cannot be recognized as binding unless their existence and contents are confirmed by a valid publication intended to make full disclosure and give proper notice to the people. The furtive law is like a scabbarded saber that cannot feint parry or cut unless the naked blade is drawn. (G.R. No. L-63915. December 29, 1986)

DUE PROCESS AND WHERE TO PUBLISH: A statute which by its terms provides for its coming into effect immediately upon approval thereof, is properly interpreted as coming into effect immediately upon publication thereof in the Official Gazette as provided in Article 2 of the Civil Code. Such statute, in other words, should not be regarded as purporting literally to come into effect immediately upon its approval or enactment and without need of publication. For to so interpret such statute would be to collide with the constitutional obstacle posed by the DUE PROCESS CLAUSE. The enforcement of prescriptions which are both unknown to and unknowable by those subjected to the statute, has been throughout history a common tool of tyrannical governments. Such application and enforcement constitutes at bottom a negation of the fundamental principle of legality in the relations between a government and its people.

At the same time, it is clear that the requirement of publication of a statute in the Official Gazette, as distinguished from any other medium such as a newspaper of general circulation, is embodied in a statutory norm and is not a constitutional command. The statutory norm is set out in Article 2 of the Civil Code and is supported and reinforced by Section 1 of Commonwealth Act No. 638 and Section 35 of the Revised Administrative Code. A specification of the Official Gazette as the prescribed medium of publication may therefore be changed. Article 2 of the Civil Code could, without creating a constitutional problem, be amended by a subsequent statute providing, for instance, for publication either in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the country. Until such an amendatory statute is in fact enacted, Article 2 of the Civil Code must be obeyed and publication effected in the Official Gazette and not in any other medium. (FELICIANO, J., concurring in G.R. No. L-63915. December 29, 1986)

IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS (IRRs): Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided. The Code shall take effect one year after such publication. Similar provision is contained in Section 551 of the Administrative Code.

Furthermore, in a case decided by this Court in People v. Que Po Lay (March 29, 1954), regarding Circular No. 20 of the Central Bank, the Supreme Court held: However, Section 11 of the Revised Administrative Code provides that statutes passed by Congress shall, in the absence of special provision, take effect at the beginning of the fifteenth day after the completion of the publication of the statute in the Official Gazette. Article 2 of the New Civil Code (Rep. Act 386) equally provides that the laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided. It is true that Circular No. 20 of the Central Bank is not a statute or law but being issued for the implementation of the law authorizing its issuance, it has the force and effect of law according to settled jurisprudence.

Moreover, as a rule, circulars and regulations especially like the Circular No. 20 of the Central Bank in question which prescribes a penalty for its violation should be published before becoming effective, this, on the general principle and theory that before the public is bound by its contents, especially its penal provisions, a law, regulation or circular must first be published and the people officially and specifically informed of said contents and its penalties. (See also Lim Hoa Ting vs. Central Bank of the Philippines, G. R. No. L-10666, September 24, 1958) From the cases of Ting and Po Lay, supra, and from the provisions of Art. 2, Civil Code and Sec. 511, Administrative Code, it is clear that publication in the Official Gazette of questioned Rule 30 is necessary for its validity and application. (G.R. No. L-21026. December 29, 1965)

UNLESS OTHERWISE PROVIDED: Publication is indispensable in every case, but the legislature may in its discretion provide that the usual fifteen-day period shall be shortened or extended. An example, as pointed out by the present Chief Justice in his separate concurrence in the original decision, is the Civil Code which did not become effective after fifteen days from its publication in the Official Gazette but "one year after such publication." The general rule did not apply because it was "otherwise provided."

It is not correct to say that under the disputed clause publication may be dispensed with altogether. The reason is that such omission would offend due process insofar as it would deny the public knowledge of the laws that are supposed to govern it. Surely, if the legislature could validly provide that a law shall become effective immediately upon its approval notwithstanding the lack of publication (or after an unreasonably short period after publication), it is not unlikely that persons not aware of it would be prejudiced as a result; and they would be so not because of a failure to comply with it but simply because they did not know of its existence. Significantly, this is not true only of penal laws as is commonly supposed. One can think of many non-penal measures, like a law on prescription, which must also be communicated to the persons they may affect before they can begin to operate. (G.R. No. 187587. June 5, 2013)

PARAS, J., concurring and dissenting in G.R. No. 104037 (May 29, 1992): I wish to dissent from the part of the decision which affirms the obiter dictum enunciated in the case of Tanada vs. Tuvera (146 SCRA 446, 452) to the effect that a law becomes effective not on the date expressly provided for in said law, but on the date after fifteen (15) days from the publication in the Official Gazette or any national newspaper of general circulation. I say obiter dictum because the doctrine mentioned is not the actual issue in the case of Tanada vs. Tuvera (supra). In that case, several presidential decrees of President Marcos were issued, but they were never published in the Official Gazette or in any national newspaper of general circulation. The real issue therefore in said case was whether or not said presidential decrees ever became effective. The Court ruled with respect to this issue (and not any other issue –– since there was no other issue whatsoever), that said presidential decrees never became effective. In other words, the ratio decidendi in that case was the ruling that without publication, there can be no effectivity. Thus, the statement as to which should be applied –– "after fifteen (15) days from publication" or "unless otherwise provided by law" (Art. 2, Civil Code) was mere obiter. The subsequent ruling in the resolution dated June 26, 1991 in Caltex, Inc. vs. Com. of Internal Revenue cannot likewise apply because it was based on the aforesaid obiter in Tanada v. Tuvera (supra). In the instant tax exemptions case, the law says effective upon approval, therefore, since this law was approved by the President in December, 1991, its subsequent publication in the January 1992 issue of the Civil Code is actually immaterial.

The discussion above is based on an outline by Paras (2008) in the first volume of his commentaries on the New Civil Code of the Philippines. His books are available in fine bookstores nationwide. SOURCE: Justice Edgardo Paras (2008). Civil Code of the Philippines Annotated. Volume I on Persons and Family Relations. Rex Book Store. 978-971-23-7989-5. Page 3. https://www.rexestore.com/cloth-bound/1582-civil-code-of-the-phils-annotated-vol-i-clothbound-.html

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