Repeal of laws; disuse of laws; void laws; invalid regulations

Under Article 7 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, "Laws are repealed only by subsequent ones, and their violation or non-observance shall not be excused by disuse, or custom or practice to the contrary." This is the first paragraph of Article 7.

The second paragraph says: "When the courts declared a law to be inconsistent with the Constitution, the former shall be void and the latter shall govern."

The third paragraph says: "Administrative or executive acts, orders and regulations shall be valid only when they are not contrary to the laws or the Constitution."

Therefore, Article 7 has four parts: (1) repeal of laws; (2) disuse of laws; (3) void laws; and (4) invalid regulations.

The first clause prevents irrepealable laws and upholds the force and effect of laws regardless of disuse, custom or practice to the contrary. Simply, Congress cannot enact a law that future Congresses are not allowed to repeal or amend. For example, if the law says: "This law cannot be repealed or amended in the next 25 years from its effectivity," such provision is void because this would be in the nature of an irrepealable law. Every Congress (15th, 16th, etc.) has the plenary power to write laws.

Another example would be a law that requires more than a simple majority to repeal it. If it says, "This law cannot be repealed unless by a vote of 2/3 of the lower house and 2/3 of the upper house," this is in the nature of an irrepealable law and this is void.

Under the Administrative Code of 1987, "When a law which expressly repeals a prior law itself repealed, the law first repealed shall not be thereby revived unless expressly so provided." Also, "When a law which impliedly repeals a prior law is itself repealed, the prior law shall thereby be revived, unless the repealing law provides otherwise."

Therefore, take the example of LAW 1 being EXPRESSLY repealed by LAW 2. Later, LAW 3 repeals LAW 2. Under the law, LAW 1 would NOT be revived, unless LAW 3 provides otherwise. On the other hand, if LAW 2 IMPLIEDLY repealed LAW 1, the latter would be revived, unless LAW 3 provides otherwise.

Moving on to disuse of laws, it should be emphasized that custom, practice and non-observance are NOT valid reasons to ignore the force and effect of a law. Simply because a law is no longer observed or remembered by most people does not militate against its juridical vigor.

Now, on void laws, it must be recalled that the 1987 Constitution is the supreme law of the land with which all other government actions and issuances must conform. Otherwise, such government actions shall be void. This includes laws. Laws that are contrary to or inconsistent with the Constitution have no valid force and effect.

Finally, administrative rules and regulations, those issued by the President or by his subordinates in the performance of their function to enforce the law, must not go beyond the law itself. Such regulations must NOT be ultra vires. Their provisions and policies must be within the boundaries of the law and the Constitution. Otherwise, they shall be void.