TAÑADA v. TUVERA (G.R. No. 63915, December 29, 1986)



Due process was invoked by the petitioners in demanding the disclosure of a number of presidential decrees which they claimed had not been published as required by law. The government argued that while publication was necessary as a rule, it was not so when it was "otherwise provided," as when the decrees themselves declared that they were to become effective immediately upon their approval. In the decision of this case on April 24, 1985, the Court affirmed the necessity for the publication of some of these decrees, declaring in the dispostive portion as follows:
"WHEREFORE, the Court hereby orders respondents to publish in the Official Gazette all unpublished presidential issuances which are of general application, and unless so published, they shall have no binding force and effect."
The petitioners are now before us again, this time to move for reconsideration/clarification of that deci­sion.[1] Specifically, they ask the following questions:
  1. What is meant by "law of public nature" or "general applicability"?

  2. Must a distinction be made between laws of general applicability and laws which are not?

  3. What is meant by "publication"?

  4. Where is the publication to be made?

  5. When is the publication to be made?
Resolving their own doubts, the petitioners suggest that there should be no distinction between laws of general applicability and those which are not; that publication means complete publication; and that the publication must be made forthwith in the Official Gazette.[2]

In the Comment[3] required of the then Solicitor General, he claimed first that the motion was a request for an advisory opinion and should therefore be dismissed, and, on the merits, that the clause "unless it is otherwise provided" in Article 2 of the Civil Code meant that the publication required therein was not always imperative; that publication, when necessary, did not have to be made in the Official Gazette; and that in any case the subject decision was concurred in only by three justices and consequently not binding. This elicited a Reply[4] refuting these arguments. Came next the February Revolution and the Court required the new Solicitor General to file a Rejoinder in view of the supervening events, under Rule 3, Section 18, of the Rules of Court. Responding, he submitted that issuances intended only for the internal administration of a government agency or for particular persons did not have to be published; that publication when necessary must be in full and in the Official Gazette; and that, however, the decision under reconsideration was not binding because it was not supported by eight members of this Court.[5]

The subject of contention is Article 2 of the Civil Code providing as follows:
"ART. 2. Laws shall take effect after fifteen 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."
After a careful study of this provision and of the arguments of the parties, both on the original petition and on the instant motion, we have come to the conclusion, and so hold, that the clause "unless it is otherwise provided" refers to the date of effectivity and not to the requirement of publication itself, which cannot in any event be omitted. This clause does not mean that the legislature may make the law effective immediately upon approval, or on any other date, without its previous publication.

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,[6] 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.

We note at this point the conclusive presumption that every person knows the law, which of course presupposes that the law has been published if the presumption is to have any legal justification at all. It is no less important to remember that Section 6 of the Bill of Rights recognizes "the right of the people to information on matters of public concern," and this certainly applies to, among others, and indeed especially, [the legislative enactments of the government.

The term "laws" should refer to all laws and not only to those of general application, for strictly speaking all laws relate to the people in general albeit there are some that do not apply to them directly. An example is a law granting citizenship to a particular individual, like a relative of President Marcos who was decreed instant naturalization. It surely cannot be said that such a law does not affect the public although it unquestionably does not apply directly to all the people. The subject of such law is a matter of public interest which any member of the body politic may question in the political forums or, if he is a proper party, even in the courts of justice. In fact, a law without any bearing on the public would be invalid as an intrusion of privacy or as class legislation or as an ultra vires act of the legislature. To be valid, the law must invariably affect the public interest even if it might be directly applicable only to one individual, or some of the people only, and not to the public as a whole.

We hold therefore that all statutes, including those of local application and private laws, shall be published as a condition for their effectivity, which shall begin fifteen days after publication unless a different effectivity date is fixed by the legislature.

Covered by this rule are presidential decrees and executive orders promulgated by the President in the exercise of legislative powers whenever the same are validly delegated by the legislature or, at present, directly conferred by the Constitution. Administrative rules and regulations must also be published if their purpose is to enforce or implement existing law pursuant also to a valid delegation.

Interpretative regulations and those merely internal in nature, that is, regulating only the personnel of the administrative agency and not the public, need not be published. Neither is publication required of the so called letters of instructions issued by administrative superiors concerning the rules or guidelines to be followed by their subordinates in the performance of their duties.

Accordingly, even the charter of a city must be published notwithstanding that it applies to only a portion of the national territory and directly affects only the inhabitants of that place. All presidential decrees must be published, including even, say, those naming a public place after a favored individual or exempting him from certain prohibitions or requirements. The circulars issued by the Monetary Board must be published if they are meant not merely to interpret but to "fill in the details" of the Central Bank Act which that body is supposed to enforce.

However, no publication is required of the instructions issued by, say, the Minister of Social Welfare on the case studies to be made in petitions for adoption or the rules laid down by the head of a government agency on the assignments or workload of his personnel or the wearing of office uniforms. Parenthetically, municipal ordinances are not covered by this rule but by the Local Government Code.

We agree that the publication must be in full or it is no publication at all since its purpose is to inform the public of the contents of the laws. As correctly pointed out by the petitioners, the mere mention of the number of the presidential decree, the title of such decree, its whereabouts (e.g., "with Secretary Tuvera"), the supposed date of effectivity, and in a mere supplement of the Official Gazette cannot satisfy the publication requirement. This is not even substantial compliance. This was the manner, incidentally, in which the General Appropriations Act for FY 1975, a presidential decree undeniably of general applicability and interest, was "published" by the Marcos administration.[7] The evident purpose was to withhold rather than disclose information on this vital law.

Coming now to the original decision, it is true that only four justices were categorically for publication in the Official Gazette[8] and that six others felt that publication could be made elsewhere as long as the people were sufficiently informed.[9] One reserved his vote[10] and another merely acknowledged the need for due publication without indicating where it should be made.[11] It is therefore necessary for the present membership of this Court to arrive at a clear consensus on this matter and to lay down a binding decision supported by the necessary vote.

There is much to be said of the view that the publication need not be made in the Official Gazette, considering its erratic releases and limited readership. Undoubtedly, newspapers of general circulation could better perform the function of communicating the laws to the people as such periodicals are more easily available, have a wider readership, and come out regularly. The trouble, though, is that this kind of publication is not the one required or authorized by existing law. As far as we know, no amendment has been made of Article 2 of the Civil Code. The Solicitor General has not pointed to such a law, and we have no information that it exists. If it does, it obviously has not yet been published.

At any rate, this Court is not called upon to rule upon the wisdom of a law or to repeal or modify it if we find it impractical. That is not our function. That function belongs to the legislature. Our task is merely to interpret and apply the law as conceived and approved by the political departments of the government in accordance with the prescribed procedure. Consequently, we have no choice but to pronounce that under Article 2 of the Civil Code, the publication of laws must be made in the Official Gazette, and not elsewhere, as a requirement for their effectivity after fifteen days from such publication or after a different period provided by the legislature. [NOTE THAT THIS HAS BEEN CHANGED BY AN EXECUTIVE ORDER ALLOWING PUBLICATION IN A NEWSPAPER OF GENERAL CIRCULATION.]

We also hold that the publication must be made forthwith, or at least as soon as possible, to give effect to the law pursuant to the said Article 2. There is that possibility, of course, although not suggested by the parties, that a law could be rendered unenforceable by a mere refusal of the executive, for whatever reason, to cause its publication as required. This is a matter, however, that we do not need to examine at this time.

Finally, the claim of the former Solicitor General that the instant motion is a request for an advisory opinion is untenable, to say the least, and deserves no further comment.

The days of the secret laws and the unpublished decrees are over. This is once again an open society, with all the acts of the government subject to public scrutiny and available always to public cognizance. This has to be so if our country is to remain democratic, with sovereignty residing in the people and all government authority emanating from them.

Although they have delegated the power of legislation, they retain the authority to review the work of their delegates and to ratify or reject it according to their lights, through their freedom of expression and their right of suffrage. This they cannot do if the acts of the legislature are concealed.

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.

WHEREFORE, it is hereby declared that all laws as above defined shall immediately upon their approval, or as soon thereafter as possible, be published in full in the Official Gazette, to become effective only after fifteen days from their publication, or on another date specified by the legislature, in accordance with Article 2 of the Civil Code.


Teehankee, C.J., Feria, Yap, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Alampay, Gutierrez, Jr., and Paras, JJ., concur.
Fernan, J., concurs, added a few observations in a separate opinion.
Feliciano, J., see separate opinion.

[1] Rollo, pp. 242-250.

[2] Ibid., pp. 244-248.

[3] Id., pp. 271-280.

[4] Id., pp. 288-299.

[5] Id., pp. 320-322.

[6] 136 SCRA 27, 46.

[7] Rollo, p. 246.

[8] Justices Venicio Escolin (ponente), Claudio Teehankee, Ameurfina Melencio-Herrera, and Lorenzo Relova.

[9] Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando and Justices Felix V. Makasiar, Vicente Abad-Santos, Efren I. Plana, Serafin P. Cuevas, and Nestor B. Alampay.

[10] Justice Hugo E. Gutierrez, Jr.

[11] Justice B. S. de la Fuente.



While concurring in the Court's opinion penned by my distinguished colleague, Mr. Justice Isagani A. Cruz, I would like to add a few observations. Even as a Member of the defunct Batasang Pambansa, I took a strong stand against the insidious manner by which the previous dispensation had promulgated and made effective thousands of decrees, executive orders, letters of instructions, etc. Never has the law-making power which traditionally belongs to the legislature been used and abused to satisfy the whims and caprices of a one-man legislative mill as it happened in the past regime. Thus, in those days, it was not surprising to witness the sad spectacle of two presidential decrees bearing the same number, although covering two different subject matters. In point is the case of two presidential decrees bearing number 1686 issued on March 19, 1980, one granting Philippine citizenship to Michael M. Keon, the then President's nephew and the other imposing a tax on every motor vehicle equipped with airconditioner. This was further exacerbated by the issuance of PD No. 1686-A also on March 19, 1980 granting Philippine citi­zenship to basketball players Jeffrey Moore and Dennis George Still.

The categorical statement by this Court on the need for publication before any law may be made effective seeks to prevent abuses on the part of the lawmakers and, at the same time, ensures to the people their constitutional right to due process and to information on matters of public concern.



I agree entirely with the opinion of the Court so eloquently written by Mr. Justice Isagani A. Cruz. At the same time, I wish to add a few statements to reflect my understanding of what the Court is saying.

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 so to interpret such statute should 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 common tool of tyrannical governments. Such application and enforcement constitute at bottom a negation of 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.


Invoking the people's right to be informed on matters of public concern, a right recognized in Section 6, Article IV of the 1973 Philippine Constitution[1], as well as the principle that laws to be valid and enforceable must be published in the Official Gazette or otherwise effectively promulgated, petitioners seek a writ of mandamus to compel respondent public officials to publish, and/or cause the publication in the Official Gazette of various presidential decrees, letters of instructions, general orders, proclamations, executive orders, letter of implementation and administrative orders.

Specifically, the publication of the following presidential issuances is sought:
a] Presidential Decrees Nos: 12, 22, 37, 38, 59, 64, 103, 171, 179, 184, 197, 200, 234, 265, 286, 298, 303, 312, 324, 325, 326, 337, 355, 358, 359, 360, 361, 368, 404, 406, 415, 427, 429, 445, 447, 473, 486, 491, 503, 504, 521, 528, 551, 566, 573, 574, 594, 599, 644, 658, 661, 718, 731, 733, 793, 800, 802, 835, 386, 923, 935, 961, 1017-1030, 1050, 1060-1061, 1085, 1143, 1165, 1166, 1242, 1246, 1250, 1278, 1279, 1300, 1644, 1772, 1808, 1810, 1813-1817, 1819-1826, 1829-1840, 1842-1847.

b] Letter of Instructions Nos.: 10, 39, 49, 72, 107, 108, 116, 130, 136, 141, 150, 153, 155, 161, 173, 180, 187, 188, 192, 193, 199, 202, 204, 205, 209, 211-213, 215-224, 226-228, 231-239, 241-245, 248-251, 253-261, 263-269, 271-273, 275-283, 285-289, 291, 293, 297-299, 301-203, 309, 312-­315, 325, 327, 343, 346, 349, 357, 358, 362, 367, 370, 382, 385, 386, 396-397, 405, 438-440, 444-445, 473, 486, 488, 498, 501, 399, 527, 561, 576, 587, 594, 599, 600, 602, 609, 610, 611, 612, 615, 641, 642, 665, 702, 712-713, 726, 837-839, 878-879, 881, 882, 939-940, 964, 997, 1149-1178, 1180-1278.

c] General Orders Nos.: 14, 52, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 64 & 65.

d] Proclamation Nos.: 1126, 1144, 1147, 1151, 1196, 1270, 1281, 1319-1526, 1529, 1532, 1535, 1538, 1540-1547, 1550-1558, 1561-1588, 1590-1595, 1594-1600, 1606, 1609, 1612-1628, 1630-1649, 1694-1695, 1697-1701, 1705-1723, 1731-1734, 1737-1742, 1744, 1746-1751, 1752, 1754, 1762, 1764-1787, 1789-1795, 1797, 1800, 1802-1804, 1806-1807, 1812-1814, 1816, 1825-1826, 1829, 1831-1832, 1835-1836, 1839-1840, 1843-1844, 1846-1847, 1849, 1853-1858, 1860, 1866, 1868, 1870, 1876-1889, 1892, 1900, 1918, 1923, 1933, 1952, 1963, 1965-1966, 1968-1984, 1986-2028, 2030-2044, 2046-2145, 2147-2161, 2163-2244.

e] Executive Orders Nos.: 411, 413, 414, 427, 429-454, 457-471, 474-492, 494­-507, 509-510, 522, 524-528, 531-532, 536, 538, 543-544, 549, 551-553, 560, 563, 567-568, 570, 574, 593, 594, 598­-604, 609, 611-647, 649-677, 679-703, 705-707, 712-786, 788-852, 854-857.

f] Letters of Implementation Nos.: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11-22, 25-27, 39, 50, 51, 59, 76, 80-81, 92, 94, 95, 107, 120, 122, 123.

g] Administrative Orders Nos.: 347, 348, 352-354, 360-378, 380-433, 436-439.
The respondents, through the Solicitor General, would have this case dismissed outright on the ground that petitioners have no legal personality or standing to bring the instant petition. The view is submitted that in the absence of any showing that petitioners are personally and directly affected or prejudiced by the alleged non-publication of the presidential issuances in question[2] said petitioners are without the requisite legal personality to institute this mandamus proceeding, they not being "aggrieved parties" within the meaning of Section 3, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, which we quote:
"SEC. 3. Petition for Mandamus. — When any tribunal, corporation, board, or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled, and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered commanding the defendant, immediately or at some other specified time, to do the act required to be done to protect the rights of the petitioner, and to pay the damages sustained by the petitioner by reason of the wrongful acts of the defendant."
Upon the other hand, petitioners maintain that since the subject of the petition concerns a public right and its object is to compel the performance of a public duty, they need not show any specific interest for their petition to be given due course.

The issue posed is not one of first impression. As early as the 1910 case of Severino vs. Governor General[3], this Court held that while the general rule is that "a writ of mandamus would be granted to a private individual only in those cases where he has some private or particular interest to be subserved, or some particular right to be protected, independent of that which he holds with the public at large," and "it is for the public officers exclusively to apply for the writ when public rights are to be subserved [Mitchell vs. Boardmen, 79 M.e., 469]," nevertheless, "when the question is one of public right and the object of the mandamus is to procure the enforcement of a public duty, the people are regarded as the real party in interest and the relator at whose instigation the proceedings are instituted need not show that he has any legal or special interest in the result, it being sufficient to show that he is a citizen and as such interested in the execution of the laws [High, Extraordinary Legal Remedies, 3rd ed., sec. 431]."

Thus, in said case, this Court recognized the relator Lope Severino, a private individual, as a proper party to the mandamus proceedings brought to compel the Governor General to call a special election for the position of municipal president in the town of Silay, Negros Occidental. Speaking for this Court, Mr. Justice Grant T. Trent said:
"We are therefore of the opinion that the weight of authority supports the proposition that the relator is a proper party to proceedings of this character when a public right is sought to be enforced. If the general rule in America were otherwise, we think that it would not be applicable to the case at bar for the reason 'that it is always dangerous to apply a general rule to a particular case without keeping in mind the reason for the rule, because, if under the particular circumstances the reason for the rule does not exist, the rule itself is not applicable and reliance upon the rule may well lead to error.'

"No reason exists in the case at bar for applying the general rule insisted upon by counsel for the respondent. The circumstances which surround this case are different from those in the United States, inasmuch as if the relator is not a proper party to these proceedings no other person could be, as we have seen that it is not the duty of the law officer of the Government to appear and represent the people in cases of this character."
The reasons given by the Court in recognizing a private citizen's legal personality in the aforementioned case apply squarely to the present petition. Clearly, the right sought to be enforced by petitioners herein is a public right recognized by no less than the fundamental law of the land. If petitioners were not allowed to institute this proceeding, it would indeed be difficult to conceive of any other person to initiate the same, considering that the Solicitor General, the government officer generally empowered to represent the people, has entered his appearance for respondents in this case.

Respondents further contend that publication in the Official Gazette is not a sine qua non requirement for the effectivity of laws where the laws themselves provide for their own effectivity dates. It is thus submitted that since the presidential issuances in question contain special provisions as to the date they are to take effect, publication in the Official Gazette is not indispensable for their effectivity. The point stressed is anchored on Article 2 of the Civil Code:
"Art. 2. Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the com­pletion of their publication in the Official Gazette, unless it is other­wise provided, x x x"
The interpretation given by respondent is in accord with this Court's construction of said article. In a long line of decisions[4], this Court has ruled that publication in the Official Gazette is necessary in those cases where the legislation itself does not provide for its effectivity date — for then the date of publication is material for determining its date of effectivity, which is the fifteenth day following its publication — but not when the law itself provides for the date when it goes into effect.

Respondents' argument, however, is logically correct only insofar as it equates the effectivity of laws with the fact of publication. Considered in the light of other statutes applicable to the issue at hand, the conclusion is easily reached that said Article 2 does not preclude the requirement of publication in the Official Gazette, even if the law itself provides for the date of its effectivity. Thus, Section 1 of Commonwealth Act 638 provides as follows:
"Section 1. There shall be published in the Official Gazette [1] all important legislative acts and resolutions of a public nature of the Congress of the Philippines; [2] all executive and administrative orders and proclamations, except such as have no general applicability; [3] decisions or abstracts of decisions of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals as may be deemed by said courts of sufficient importance to be so published; [4] such documents or classes of documents as may be required so to be published by law; and [5] such documents or classes of documents as the President of the Philippines shall determine from time to time to have general applicability and legal effect, or which he may authorize so to be published. x x x"
The clear object of the above-quoted provision is to give the general public adequate notice of the various laws which are to regulate their actions and conduct as citizens. Without such notice and publication, there would be no ba­sis for the application of the maxim "ignorantia legis non excusat." It would be the height of injustice to punish or otherwise burden a citizen for the transgression of a law of which he had no notice whatsoever, not even a constructive one.

Perhaps at no time since the establishment of the Philippine Republic has the publication of laws taken so vital significance than at this time when the people have bestowed upon the President a power heretofore enjoyed solely by the legislature. While the people are kept abreast by the mass media of the debates and deliberations in the Batasan Pambansa — and for the diligent ones, ready access to the legislative records — no such publicity accompanies the law-making process of the President. Thus, without publication, the people have no means of knowing what presidential decrees have actually been promulgated, much less a definite way of informing themselves of the specific contents and texts of such decrees. As the Supreme Court of Spain ruled: "Bajo la denominación genérica de leyes, se comprenden también los reglamentos, Reales decretos, Instrucciones, Circulares y Reales ordines dictadas de conformidad con las mismas por el Gobierno en uso de su potestad."[5]

The very first clause of Section 1 of Commonwealth Act 638 reads: "There shall be published in the Official Gazette x x x." The word "shall" used therein imposes upon respondent officials an imperative duty. That duty must be enforced if the Constitutional right of the people to be informed on matters of public concern is to be given substance and reality. The law itself makes a list of what should be published in the Official Gazette. Such listing, to our mind, leaves respondents with no discretion whatsoever as to what must be included or excluded from such publication.

The publication of all presidential issuances "of a public nature" or "of general applicability" is mandated by law. Obviously, presidential decrees that provide for fines, forfeitures or penalties for their violation or otherwise impose a burden on the people, such as tax and revenue measures, fall within this category. Other presidential issuances which apply only to particular persons or class of persons such as administrative and executive orders need not be published on the assumption that they have been circularized to all concerned.[6]

It is needless to add that the publication of presidential issuances "of a public nature" or "of general applicability" is a requirement of due process. It is a rule of law that before a person may be bound by law, he must first be officially and specifically informed of its contents. As Justice Claudio Teehankee said in Peralta vs. COMELEC[7]:
"In a time of proliferating decrees, orders and letters of instructions which all form part of the law of the land, the requirement of due process and the Rule of Law demand that the Official Gazette as the official government repository promulgate and publish the texts of all such decrees, orders and instructions so that the people may know where to obtain their official and specific contents."
The Court therefore declares that presidential issuances of general application, which have not been published, shall have no force and effect. Some members of the Court, quite apprehensive about the possible unsettling effect this decision might have on acts done in reliance of the validity of those presidential decrees which were published only during the pendency of this petition, have put the question as to whether the Court's declaration of invalidity apply to P.D.s which had been enforced or implemented prior to their publication. The answer is all too familiar. In similar situations in the past this Court had taken the pragmatic and realistic course set forth in Chicot County Drainage District vs. Baxter Bank[8] to wit:
"The courts below have proceeded on the theory that the Act of Congress, having been found to be unconstitutional, was not a law; that it was inoperative, conferring no rights and imposing no duties, and hence affording no basis for the challenged decree. Norton v. Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425, 442; Chicago, I. & L. Ry. Co. v. Hackett, 228 U.S. 559, 566. It is quite clear, however, that such broad statements as to the effect of a determination of unconstitutionality must be taken with qualifications. The actual existence of a statute, prior to such a determination, is an operative fact and may have consequences which cannot justly be ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration. The effect of the subsequent ruling as to invalidity may have to be considered in various aspects - with respect to particular conduct, private and official. Questions of rights claimed to have become vested, of status, of prior determinations deemed to have finality and acted upon accordingly, of public policy in the light of the nature both of the statute and of its previous application, demand examination. These questions are among the most difficult of those which have engaged the attention of courts, state and federal, and it is manifest from numerous decisions that an all-inclusive statement of a principle of absolute retroactive invalidity cannot be justified."
Consistently with the above principle, this Court in Rutter vs. Esteban[9] sustained the right of a party under the Moratorium Law, albeit said right had accrued in his favor before said law was declared unconstitutional by this Court.

Similarly, the implementation/enforcement of presidential decrees prior to their publication in the Official Gazette is "an operative fact which may have consequences which cannot be justly ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration x x x that an all-inclusive statement of a principle of absolute retroactive invalidity cannot be justified."

From the report submitted to the Court by the Clerk of Court, it appears that of the presidential decrees sought by petitioners to be published in the Official Gazette, only Presidential Decrees Nos. 1019 to 1030, inclusive, 1278, and 1937 to 1939, inclusive, have not been so published.[10] Neither the subject matters nor the texts of these PDs can be ascertained since no copies thereof are available. But whatever their subject matter may be, it is undisputed that none of these unpublished PDs has ever been implemented or enforced by the government. In Pesigan vs. Angeles,[11] the Court, through Justice Ramon Aquino, ruled that "publication is necessary to apprise the public of the contents of [penal] regulations and make the said penalties binding on the persons affected thereby." The cogency of this holding is apparently recognized by respondent officials considering the manifestation in their comment that "the government, as a matter of policy, refrains from prosecuting violations of criminal laws until the same shall have been published in the Official Gazette or in some other publication, even though some criminal laws provide that they shall take effect immediately."

WHEREFORE, the Court hereby orders respondents to publish in the Official Gazette all unpublished presidential issuances which are of general application, and unless so published, they shall have no binding force and effect.


Relova, J., concurs.
Fernando, J., concurs in a separate opinion expressing the view that without publication, a due process question may arise but that such publication need not be in the Official Gazette. To that extent he concurs with the opinion of Justice Plana.
Teehankee, J., files a brief concurrence.
Makasiar and Abad Santos, JJ., concur in the opinion of Chief Justice Fernando.
Aquino, J., no part.
Concepcion, Jr., J., on leave.
Melencio-Herrera, J., see separate concurring opinion.
Plana, J., see separate opinion.
Gutierrez, Jr., J., concurs insofar as publication is necessary but reserves his vote as to the necessity of such publication being in the Official Gazette.
De La Fuente, J., insofar as the opinion declares the unpublished decrees and issuances of a public nature or general applicability ineffective, until due publication thereof.
Cuevas and Alampay, JJ., concur in the opinion of the Chief Justice and Justice Plana.

[1] "SECTION 6. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized, access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, shall be afforded the citizens subject to such limitation as may be provided by law."

[2] Anti-Chinese League vs. Felix, 77 Phil. 1012; Costas vs. Aldanese, 45 Phil. 345; Almario vs. City Mayor, 16 SCRA 151; Palting vs. San Jose Petroleum, 18 SCRA 924; Dumlao vs. Comelec, 95 SCRA 392.

[3] 16 Phil. 366, 378.

[4] Camacho vs. Court of Industrial Relations, 80 Phil. 848; Mejia vs. Balolong, 81 Phil. 486; Republic of the Philippines vs. Encarnacion, 87 Phil. 843; Philippine Blooming Mills, Inc. vs. Social Security System, 17 SCRA 1077; Askay vs. Cosalan, 46 Phil. 179.

[5] 1 Manresa, Codigo Civil, 7th Ed., p. 146

[6] People vs. Que Po Lay, 94 Phil. 640; Balbuena et al. vs. Secretary of Education, et al., 110 Phil. 150.

[7] 82 SCRA 30, dissenting opinion.

[8] 308 U.S. 371, 374

[9] 93 Phil. 68

[10] The report was prepared by the Clerk of Court after Acting Director Florendo S. Pablo Jr. of the Government Printing Office, failed to respond to her letter-request regarding the respective dates of publication in the Official Gazette of the presidential issuances listed therein. No report has been submitted by the Clerk of Court as to the publication or non-publication of other presidential issuances.

[11] 129 SCRA 174



There is on the whole acceptance on my part of the views expressed in the ably written opinion of Justice Escolin. I am unable, however, to concur insofar as it would unqualifiedly impose the requirement of publication in the Official Gazette for unpublished "presidential issuances" to have binding force and effect.

I shall explain why.

1. It is of course true that without the requisite publication, a due process question would arise if made to apply adversely to a party who is not even aware of the existence of any legislative or executive act having the force and effect of law. My point is that such publication required need not be confined to the Official Gazette. From the pragmatic standpoint, there is an advantage to be gained. It conduces to certainty. That is to be admitted. It does not follow, however, that failure to do so would in all cases and under all circumstances result in a statute, presidential decree or any other executive act of the same category being bereft of any binding force and effect. To so hold would, for me, raise a constitutional question. Such a pronouncement would lend itself to the interpretation that such a legislative or presidential act is bereft of the attribute of effectivity unless published in the Official Gazette. There is no such requirement in the Constitution as Justice Plana so aptly pointed out. It is true that what is decided now applies only to past "presidential issuances." Nonetheless, this clarification is, to my mind, needed to avoid any possible misconception as to what is required for any statute or presidential act to be impressed with binding force or effectivity.

2. It is quite understandable then why I concur in the separate opinion of Justice Plana. Its first paragraph sets forth what to me is the constitutional doctrine applicable to this case. Thus: "The Philippine Constitution does not require the publication of laws as a prerequisite for their effectivity, unlike some Constitutions elsewhere. It may be said though that the guarantee of due process requires notice of laws to affected parties before they can be bound thereby; but such notice is not necessarily by publication in the Official Gazette. The due process clause is not that precise."[1] I am likewise in agreement with its closing paragraph: "In fine, I concur in the majority decision to the extent that it requires notice before laws become effective, for no person should be bound by a law without notice. This is elementary fairness. However, I beg to disagree insofar as it holds that such notice shall be by publication in the Official Gazette."[2]

3. It suffices, as was stated by Judge Learned Hand, that law as the command of the government "must be ascertainable in some form if it is to be enforced at all."[3] It would indeed be to reduce it to the level of mere futility, as pointed out by Justice Cardozo, "if it is unknown and unknowable.”[4] Publication, to repeat, is thus essential. What I am not prepared to subscribe to is the doctrine that it must be in the Official Gazette. To be sure once published therein there is the ascertainable mode of determining the exact date of its effectivity. Still for me that does not dispose of the question of what is the jural effect of past presidential decrees or executive acts not so published. For prior thereto, it could be that parties aware of their existence could have conducted themselves in accordance with their provisions. If no legal consequences could attach due to lack of publication in the Official Gazette, then serious problems could arise. Previous transactions based on such "Presidential Issuances" could be open to question. Matters deemed settled could still be inquired into. I am not prepared to hold that such an effect is contemplated by our decision. Where such presidential decree or executive act is made the basis of a criminal prosecution, then, of course, its ex post facto character becomes evident.[5] In civil cases though, retroactivity as such is not conclusive on the due process aspect. There must still be a showing of arbitrariness. Moreover, where the challenged presidential decree or executive act was issued under the police power, the non-impairment clause of the Constitution may not always be successfully invoked. There must still be that process of balancing to determine whether or not it could in such a case be tainted by infirmity.[6] In traditional terminology, there could arise then a question of unconstitutional application. That is as far as it goes.

4. Let me make clear therefore that my qualified concurrence goes no further than to affirm that publication is essential to the effectivity of a legislative or executive act of a general application. I am not in agreement with the view that such publication must be in the Official Gazette. The Civil Code itself in its Article 2 expressly recognizes that the rule as to laws taking effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette is subject to this exception, "unless it is otherwise provided." Moreover, the Civil Code is itself only a legislative enactment, Republic Act No. 386. It does not and cannot have the juridical force of a constitutional command. A later legislative or executive act which has the force and effect of law can legally provide for a different rule.

5. Nor can I agree with the rather sweeping conclusion in the opinion of Justice Escolin that presidential decrees and executive acts not thus previously published in the Official Gazette would be devoid of any legal character. That would be, in my opinion, to go too far. It may be fraught, as earlier noted, with undesirable consequences. I find myself therefore unable to yield assent to such a pronouncement.

I am authorized to state that Justices Makasiar, Abad Santos, Cuevas, and Alampay concur in this separate opinion.

[1] Separate Opinion of Justice Plana, first paragraph. He mentioned in this connection Article 7, Sec. 21 of the Wisconsin Constitution and State ex rel. White v. Grand Superior Ct., 71 ALR 1354, citing the Constitution of Indiana, U.S.A.

[2] Ibid, closing paragraph.

[3] Learned Hand, The Spirit of Liberty 104 (1960).

[4] Cardozo, The Growth of the Law, 3 (1924).

[5] Cf. Nuñez v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 50581-50617, January 30, 1982, 111 SCRA 433.

[6] Cf. Alalayan v. National Power Corporation, L-24396, July 29, 1968, 24 SCRA 172.


I agree. There cannot be any question but that even if a decree provides for a date of effectivity, it has to be published. What I would like to state in connection with that proposition is that when a date of effectivity is mentioned in the decree but the decree becomes effective only fifteen (15) days after its publication in the Official Gazette, it will not mean that the decree can have retroactive effect to the date of effectivity mentioned in the decree itself. There should be no retroactivity if the retroactivity will run counter to constitutional rights or shall destroy vested rights.


The Philippine Constitution does not require the publication of laws as a prerequisite for their effectivity, unlike some Constitutions elsewhere.* It may be said though that the guarantee of due process requires notice of laws to affected parties before they can be bound thereby; but such notice is not necessarily by publication in the Official Gazette. The due process clause is not that precise.

Neither is the publication of laws in the Official Gazette required by any statute as a prerequisite for their effectivity, if said laws already provide for their effectivity date.

Article 2 of the Civil Code provides that "laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided.” Two things may be said of this provision: Firstly, it obviously does not apply to a law with a built-in provision as to when it will take effect. Secondly, it clearly recognizes that each law may provide not only a different period for reckoning its effectivity date but also a different mode of notice. Thus, a law may prescribe that it shall be published elsewhere than in the Official Gazette.

Commonwealth Act No. 638, in my opinion, does not support the proposition that for their effectivity, laws must be published in the Official Gazette. The said law is simply "An Act to Provide for the Uniform Publication and Distribution of the Official Gazette.” Conformably therewith, it authorizes the publication of the Official Gazette, determines its frequency, provides for its sale and distribution, and defines the authority of the Director of Printing in relation thereto. It also enumerates what shall be published in the Official Gazette, among them, "important legislative acts and resolutions of a public nature of the Congress of the Philippines" and "all executive and administrative orders and proclamations, except such as have no general applicability." It is noteworthy that not all legislative acts are required to be published in the Official Gazette but only "important" ones "of a public nature". Moreover, the said law does not provide that publication in the Official Gazette is essential for the effectivity of laws. This is as it should be, for all statutes are equal and stand on the same footing. A law, especially an earlier one of general application such as Commonwealth Act No. 638, cannot nullify or restrict the operation of a subsequent statute that has a provision of its own as to when and how it will take effect. Only a higher law, which is the Constitution, can assume that role.

In fine, I concur in the majority decision to the extent that it requires notice before laws become effective, for no person should be bound by a law without notice. This is elementary fairness. However, I beg to disagree insofar as it holds that such notice shall be by publication in the Official Gazette.

* See, e.g., Wisconsin Constitution, Art. 7, Sec. 21: "The legislature shall provide publication of all statute laws ... and no general law shall be in force until published." See also State ex rel. White vs. Grand Superior Ct., 71 ALR 1354, citing the Constitution of Indiana, U.S.A.



I concur with the main opinion of Mr. Justice Escolin and the concurring opinion of Mme. Justice Herrera. The Rule of Law connotes a body of norms and laws published and ascertainable and of equal application to all similarly circumstanced and not subject to arbitrary change but only under certain set procedures. The Court has consistently stressed that "it is an elementary rule of fair play and justice that a reasonable opportunity to be informed must be afforded to the people who are commanded to obey before they can be punished for its violation,"[1] citing the settled principle based on due process enunciated in earlier cases 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 specially informed of said contents and its penalties."

Without official publication in the Official Gazette as required by Article 2 of the Civil Code and the Revised Administrative Code, there would be no basis nor justification for the corollary rule of Article 3 of the Civil Code (based on constructive notice that the provisions of the law are ascertainable from the public and official repository where they are duly published) that "Ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith."

Respondents' contention based on a misreading of Article 2 of the Civil Code that "only laws which are silent as to their effectivity [date] need be published in the Official Gazette for their effectivity" is manifestly untenable. The plain text and meaning of the Civil Code is that "laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided,” i.e. a different effectivity date is provided by the law itself. This proviso perforce refers to a law that has been duly published pursuant to the basic constitutional requirements of due process. The best example of this is the Civil Code itself: the same Article 2 provides otherwise that it "shall take effect [only] one year [not 15 days] after such publication."[2] To sustain respondents' misreading that "most laws or decrees specify the date of their effectivity and for this reason, publication in the Official Gazette is not necessary for their effectivity"[3] would be to nullify and render nugatory the Civil Code's indispensable and essential requirement of prior publication in the Official Gazette by the simple expedient of providing for immediate effectivity or an earlier effectivity date in the law itself before the completion of 15 days following its publication which is the period generally fixed by the Civil Code for its proper dissemination.

[1] People vs. de Dios, G.R. No. 11003, Aug. 31, 1959, per the late Chief Justice Paras.

[2] Notes in brackets supplied.

[3] Respondents' comment, pp. 14-15.