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A. When law takes effect

1. PUBLICATION AND FILING

Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication either in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines, unless it is otherwise provided. (Article 2, Civil Code)

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. (Section 1, C.A. No. 638)

Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication either in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines, unless it is otherwise provided. (Section 1, Executive Order No. 200, Series of 1987)

a. Purpose of requirements

The requirements of publication and filing were put in place as safeguards against abuses on the part of lawmakers and as guarantees to the constitutional right to due process and to information on matters of public concern and, therefore, require strict compliance. (Republic v. Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation, G.R. No. 173918, 08 April 2008)

2. PUBLICATION REQUIREMENT

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. (Tañada v. Tuvera, G.R. No. L-3915, 24 April 1985)

a. Official Gazette

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. (Tañada v. Tuvera, supra.)

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. (Ibid.)

The publication of all presidential issuances [which were laws during Martial law – e.g. P.D. 442 a.k.a. the Labor Code of the Philippines] “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 or 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. (Ibid.)

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. (Ibid.)

b. Newspaper of general circulation

To be a newspaper of general circulation, it is enough that “it is published for the dissemination of local news and general information; that it has a bona fide subscription list of paying subscribers; that it is published at regular intervals.” (Fortune Motors [Phils.] Inc. v. Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, G.R. No. 115068, 28 November 1996)

True, to be a newspaper of general circulation, it is enough that it is published for the dissemination of local news and general information, that it has a bona fide subscription list of paying subscribers, and that it is published at regular intervals. Over and above all these, the newspaper must be available to the public in general, and not just to a select few chosen by the publisher. (Metropolitan Banka and Trust Company, Inc. v. Peñafiel, G.R. No. 173976, 27 February 2009)

In fact, to ensure a wide readership of the newspaper, jurisprudence suggests that the newspaper must also be appealing to the public in general. The Court has, therefore, held in several cases that the newspaper must not be devoted solely to the interests, or published for the entertainment, of a particular class, profession, trade, calling, race, or religious denomination. The newspaper need not have the largest circulation so long as it is of general circulation. (Metropolitan Banka and Trust Company, Inc. v. Peñafiel, supra.)

c. Non-publication – subject to vested rights

Laws that were not published but have been used, applied, or relied on are subject to vested rights that may have been acquired prior to these laws being subsequently ordered published. (Tañada v. Tuvera, supra.)

3. FILING REQUIREMENT

a. University of the Philippines Law Center

Every agency shall file with the University of the Philippines Law Center three (3) certified copies of every rule adopted by it. Rules in force on the date of effectivity of this Code which are not filed within three (3) months from the date shall not thereafter be the basis of any sanction against any party or persons. (Section 3[1], Chapter 2, Book VII, Administrative Code of 1987)

The records officer of the agency, or his equivalent functionary, shall carry out the requirements of this section under pain of disciplinary action. (Section 3[1], Chapter 2, Book VII, Ibid.)

A permanent register of all rules shall be kept by the issuing agency and shall be open to public inspection. (Section 3[3], Chapter 2, Book VII, Ibid.)

Both the requirements of publication and filing of administrative issuances intended to enforce existing laws are mandatory for the effectivity of said issuances. (Republic v. Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation, supra.)

1) Non-compliance, no force and effect

Nowhere from the above narration does it show that the GRAM Implementing Rules was published in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation. Significantly, the effectivity clauses of both the GRAM and ICERA Implementing Rules uniformly provide that they “shall take effect immediately.” These clauses made no mention of their publication in either the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation. Moreover, per the Certification dated January 11, 2006 of the Office of the National Administrative Register (ONAR), the said implementing rules and regulations were not likewise filed with the said office in contravention of the Administrative Code of 1987.  (National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms v. Energy Regulatory Board, G.R. No. 163935, 02 February 2006)

Applying the doctrine enunciated in Tañada v. Tuvera, the Court has previously declared as having no force and effect the following administrative issuances: (1) Rules and Regulations issued by the Joint Ministry of Health-Ministry of Labor and Employment Accreditation Committee regarding the accreditation of hospitals, medical clinics and laboratories; (2) Letter of Instruction No. 1416 ordering the suspension of payments due and payable by distressed copper mining companies to the national government; (3) Memorandum Circulars issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration regulating the recruitment of domestic helpers to Hong Kong; (4) Administrative Order No. SOCPEC 89-08-01 issued by the Philippine International Trading Corporation regulating applications for importation from the People’s Republic of China; (5) Corporation Compensation Circular No. 10 issued by the Department of Budget and Management discontinuing the payment of other allowances and fringe benefits to government officials and employees; and (6) POEA Memorandum Circular No. 2 Series of 1983 which provided for the schedule of placement and documentation fees for private employment agencies or authority holders. (Ibid.)

In all these cited cases, the administrative issuances questioned therein were uniformly struck down as they were not published or filed with the National Administrative Register. On the other hand, in one case, the Court declared that the 1993 Revised Rules of the National Telecommunications Commission had not become effective despite the fact that it was filed with the National Administrative Register because the same had not been published at the time. The Court emphasized therein that “publication in the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation is a condition sine qua non before statutes, rules or regulations can take effect.” (Ibid.)

Under the doctrine of Tanada v. Tuvera, the Ministry Of Finance (MOF) Circular No. 1-85, as amended, is one of those issuances which should be published before it becomes effective since it is intended to enforce Presidential Decree No. 1956. The said circular should also comply with the requirement stated under Section 3 of Chapter 2, Book VII of the Administrative Code of 1987 – filing with the ONAR in the University of the Philippines Law Center – for rules that are already in force at the time the Administrative Code of 1987 became effective. In the present case, the Certifications dated 11 February 2004 and 9 February 2004 issued by ONAR prove that MOF Circular No. 1-85 and its amendatory rule, DOF Circular No. 2-94, have not been filed before said office. Moreover, petitioner was unable to controvert respondent’s allegation that neither of the aforementioned circulars were published in the Official Gazette or in any newspaper of general circulation. Thus, failure to comply with the requirements of publication and filing of administrative issuances renders MOF Circular No. 1-85, as amended, ineffective. (Republic v. Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation, supra.)

b. Objectives

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. (Tañada v. Tuvera, supra.)

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. (Ibid.)

3. COUNTING OF YEARS, MONTHS, DAYS, NIGHTS

When the laws speak of years, months, days or nights, it shall be understood that years are of three hundred sixty-five days each; months, of thirty days; days, of twenty-four hours; and nights from sunset to sunrise. (Paragraph 1, Article 13, Civil Code)

If months are designated by their name, they shall be computed by the number of days which they respectively have. (Paragraph 2, Article 13, Ibid.)

4. COMPUTING A PERIOD

In computing a period, the first day shall be excluded, and the last day included. (Paragraph 3, Article 13, Ibid.)

5. IGNORANCE OF THE LAW

Ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith. (Article 3, Ibid.)

Ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith. This principle is of Spanish origin, and we adopted it to govern and limit legal conduct in this jurisdiction. Under American law, ignorance of the law is merely a traditional rule that admits of exceptions. (People v. Siton, G.R. No. 169364, 18 September 2009)

Respondent may not claim ignorance of the above provision, as ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith. (Garcia v. De Caparas, G.R. No. 180843, 17 April 2013)

It is an express legal precept that ignorance of the law does not excuse from anyone from compliance therewith (Art. 2, Civil Code), and the exculpatory allegation offered by the accused, to the effect that he was ignorant of the prohibitive provisions of said municipal law, as amended, is therefore not all admissible. (The United States v. Gray, En Banc, G.R. No. L-3482, 07 September 1907)

To be sure, respondents cannot hide behind the cloak of ignorance or lack of familiarity with the foregoing laws and policies. It is a basic legal tenet that ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith. Besides, Dionisio did not deny that when complainants inquired with her about leasing a portion of the school grounds, she responded that she will study the matter as it might take a long and complicated procedure if they follow the DepEd rules. Also, respondents tried to justify their disregard of the relevant rules by arguing that their actions inured to the benefit of the school and its students. Verily, the foregoing circumstances indicate that respondents knew of existing laws, rules, and regulations pertaining to the lease of public properties, use of public funds, and procurement of government projects, among others; and despite these, they still went ahead with their transactions. By and large, these exhibit respondents’ clear intent to violate the law and/or flagrant disregard of established rules, thus, justifying the finding that they are indeed liable for Grave Misconduct. (Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon v. Dionisio, G.R. No. 220700, 10 July 2017)

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