4 effects of the President signing a bill

The photo above is President Manuel L. Quezon (center) singing the Women’s Suffrage Bill following the 1937 plebiscite, as his wife Aurora Aragon Quezon (left) looks on. This Bill was the start of women being allowed to vote in the Philippine Islands. Also witnessing this historic moment were Speaker Jose Yulo, Executive Secretary Jorge B. Vargas and Vice President Sergio Osmeña. (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/27/President_Quezon_signing_the_Women%E2%80%99s_Suffrage_Bill.jpg)

What are the four effects produced when the President signs a bill into law?

Law students are very familiar with how a bill becomes a law. This is one of those principles that law students are required to study and memorize in their first-year subjects such as Legal Research, Statutory Construction and, most especially, Political Law (Constitutional Law 1).

According to the 1987 Constitution, 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.

The President shall communicate his veto of any bill to the House where it originated within 30 days after the date of receipt thereof, otherwise, it shall become a law as if he had signed it. This means that the President's veto power has an expiration. If not exercised, the veto power expires in 30 days and the bill not vetoed shall become a law.

If, after such reconsideration, two-thirds of all the Members of such House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two-thirds of all the Members of that House, it shall become a law. In all such cases, the votes of each House shall be determined by yeas or nays, and the names of the Members voting for or against shall be entered in its Journal. This process of passing the law despite the President's objection is called "overriding the veto" and it requires not only a majority vote from each House but a super-majority (2/3 or 66.66%).

Now, going back to the question, there are four effects when the President signs a bill into law or when he allows the same to lapse into law. They are the following:

[1] ENROLLED BILL DOCTRINE

The enrolled bill rule is a principle of judicial interpretation of rules of procedure in legislative bodies. Under the doctrine, once a bill passes a legislative body and is signed into law, the courts assume that all rules of procedure in the enactment process were properly followed. This is the doctrine observed in the United States. It must be emphasized that, in the Philippines, the enrolled bill theory or the "journal entry rule" merely requires that signatures of the leaders of each House.

Hence, in the Philippines, the President's signature is not a component of said doctrine. It mere reinforces the presumption that the bill has already been enrolled. In short, when the President signs a bill, he is estopped from questioning the procedures in Congress in passing it because he has no authority to sign an "un-enrolled" bill.

According to the Supreme Court of the Philippines, "The signing by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and, by the President of the Senate, in open session, of an enrolled bill, is an official attestation by the two houses of such bill as one that has passed Congress. It is a declaration by the two houses, through their presiding officers, to the President, that a bill, thus attested, has received, in due form, the sanction of the legislative branch of the government, and that it is delivered to him in obedience to the constitutional requirement that all bills which pass Congress shall be presented to him. And when a bill, thus attested, receives his approval, and is deposited in the public archives, its authentication as a bill that has passed Congress should be deemed complete and unimpeachable." (G.R. No. L-23475)
[2] CONVERSION INTO LAW

Obviously, the second effect is that the bill becomes a law. However, effectivity of a law is a different issue. In Tañada v. Tuvera, the Supreme Court held that publication is an "indispensable and essential requirement" in a law's taking into effect.

According to the Civil Code of the Philippines, "Laws shall take effect after 15 days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines, unless it is otherwise provided. This Code shall take effect one year after such publication"

It must be remembered that a law is law even before effectivity. Validity, existence and effectivity are distinct issues. Another important thing to note is that a bill is neither a source of rights nor of obligations. Hence, there can be no legally enforceable and demandable right before the President signs a bill.

[3] AWAKENING JUDICIAL POWER

Judicial power is awakened by the passage of a bill and its becoming a law, regardless of effectivity. Validity and existence may be the proper issue in a judicial against against a law even before its publication or effectivity.

Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving 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. (Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution)

As mentioned in [2], a bill is not a source of right or obligation. There can be no grave abuse of discretion before a bill becomes a law because there is no legally demandable and enforceable right and there is no legal consequence that can be made the subject of a judicial controversy.

[4] FAITHFUL EXECUTION

The last but possibly the most important effect of the President's signature on a bill is that he promises, as it is his constitutional duty to do so, to ensure that the law is faithfully executed.

Section 17 of Article VII states: "The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed."

When the president signs a bill into law, he makes a solemn oath that he shall "faithfully execute" it which means that he shall see to it that the law is interpreted by him in light of the Constitution and, using such interpretation, he shall implement the same with all its provisions by controlling his executive departments, bureaus and offices. Anyone, especially those under his Branch, who would violate the law shall be punished.

Popular Posts