UPDATE: Philippine Legal Research


By Milagros Santos-Ong


Milagros Santos-Ong   is the Director of the Library Services of the Supreme Court of the Philippines . She is the author of  Legal Research and Citations  (Rexl Book Store) a seminal book published in numerous editions and a part-time professor on Legal Research in some law schools in the Metro-Manila.


Published March 2015
(Previous updates on March 2006, December 2007, June 2009, and March 2012)
See the archive version!


Table of Contents

1.        Introduction

2.        Political Structure

3.        Government Structure

3.1.          Executive Branch

3.2.         Legislative Department

3.3.         Judicial System

3.4.         Constitutional Commissions

3.5.         Local Governments

3.6.         Other Government Agencies

4.        Legal System

4.1.          Nature of the Philippine Legal System

4.2.         Sources of Law

5.        Philippine Legal Research

5.1.          Research of Statute law

5.2.         Research of Case Law

6.        Legal Profession and Legal Education

6.1.          Law Schools

6.2.         Bar Associations

7.        Law Librarians Association


Part 2: Philippine Legal Information Resources and Citations


1.      Introduction

The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 islands with a land area of 299,740 sq. kilometers.  It is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on the East, South China Sea on the North and the West and the Celebes Sea on the South. This comprises the National Territory of the Philippines. Article I of the 1987 Constitution provides that the "national territory comprises the Philippine archipelago, with all the islands and waters embraced therein and all other territories which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction."


 Laws enacted by Congress defined the baselines of the territorial sea of the Philippine archipelago.  As early as 1935, the baselines have been defined in the 1935 Constitution.  This was followed by Republic Act No. 3046 as amended by Republic Act No.5446.  Republic Act No. 9522, approved on March 10, 2000  amended both laws and defined the archipelagic baselines as “Regime of Islands” (section 2)  This definition is consistent with Art.121 of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),  where the Philippines  took  an active part. Rodolfo Severino, in his article “ Clarifying the New Philippines Baseline Law ” (Republic Act No. 9522) stated that the purpose of the law is mainly to amend the existing baselines act and to ‘define the archipelagic baselines of the Philippines’. It does not extend the baselines to Spratlys or to Scarborough Shoal, both of which China and Vietnam claim in their territory, while the Philippines claims a part of what are called “ Spratlys and all of Scarborough Shoal .”   Protest made by China remains.  The constitutionality of the law was question at the Supreme Court in the case Magallona, et. al vs.  Ermita, et. al., G.R. No. 187167.  The decision upholding the constitutionality of the law was penned by Justice Antonio T. Carpio on July 16, 2011.  The petitioners of the case were professors of law, law students and a legislator.  The petitioners filed the case in their capacities as citizens of the Philippines, taxpayers and legislators.  Noteworthy to mention are the two grounds invoked by the petitioners in questioning the constitutionality of the law:”1). RA 9522 reduces the Philippine maritime territory, and logically, the reach of the Philippine state’s sovereign power, in violation of Article 1 of the 1987 Constitution” and 2) “RA 9522 opens the country’s waters landward of the baselines to maritime passage by all vessels and aircrafts, undermining Philippine sovereignty and national security, contravening the country’s nuclear-free policy, and damaging marine resources, in violation of relevant constitutional provisions.”


Justice Antonio T. Carpio in his speech before Philippine Women Judges Association, entitled “Protecting the Nation’s Marine Wealth in the West Philippine Sea,” March 6, 2014, provided an illustration of   the baselines defined by Republic Act Nos. 5446 and 9522.



The Philippines’ claim to the Spratlys and the historic claim to Sabah remain unresolved.  The Philippines is now confronted with conflicting claims in the South China Sea which is governed by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which entered into force in 1994. The Philippines and China who are claimants to the South China seas are among the 165 countries that have ratified the UNCLOS. 


China’s claim is based on the 9-dashed line which covers a total area almost 90% of the South China Sea. In a speech delivered by Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio entitled, “The Rules of Law in the West Philippine Sea Dispute,” he stated that China’s 9-dash claim encroaches on 80% on the Philippines’ 200-nm exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and 100% of its 150-nm extended continental shelf (ECS) facing the South China sea – what the Philippines call West Philippine sea. China’s 9-dash line claim has similar effects on the EEZs and ECSs of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia facing the South China Sea.” 


Justice Antonio T. Carpio’s speech before Philippine Women Judges Association, entitled “Protecting the Nation’s Marine Wealth in the West Philippine Sea,” March 6, 2014 includes the illustration on the 9-Dashed Lines.



Senior Justice Antonio Carpio stated that “maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea could be more easily resolved if all the claimant States agreed on two things: first, on the applicable law to govern the maritime dispute, and second, on the historical facts on the West Philippine Sea.”


David Rosenberg in his article, “The Paradox of the South China Sea Disputes,” considers the nine-dash line claim as the most controversial maritime territorial claim.  Rosenberg traced the history as claim as far “back as December 1914 when Hu Jinjie, a Chinese cartographer, published a map with a line around only the Pratas and Paracels, entitled ‘The Chinese Territorial Map Before the Qianglong-Jiaqing Period of the Qing Dynasty (AD 1736–1820)” until “1953 when the two dotted line portion in the Gulf of Tonkin was deleted by Premier Zhou Enlai’s approval.  Chinese maps published since 1953 have shown the nine-dotted line in the South China Sea.”  


The Philippines however has its own version on historical claims based on historical maps available at the United States Library of Congress, National Library of Australia. The Philippine historical claim can be seen in a cartographic exhibit entitled “ Historical Truths and Lies, Scarborough Schoal in Ancient Maps ,” which was based on the June 2014 of Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio.  The first map in this cartographic exhibit was published in 1734 by Jesuit Pedro Murillo. It is considered the "mother of all Philippine maps." 


Caption: "Carta Hydrographica Y Chorographica de las Yslas Filipinas" (8407x7734) (U.S. Library of Congress (Catalog No. 2013585226; Digital ID g8060 ct003137)


This territorial dispute has both political and economic implications for the Philippines, China and also to Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. There was even a headline stating “ Is the South China Sea on the Brink of War? ”  As a measure to resolve the controversy, the Philippines has used the legal remedy in as much as China and the Philippines are parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS.


The Philippines filed a formal claim before an arbitration tribunal constituted under Annex VII to the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea entitled “In the Matter of an Arbitration between The Republic of the Philippines (applicant) and The People’s Republic of China (Respondent), 24 August 2013 (PCA Case No. 2013-19.  Full text of the Rules of Procedure of the case is available in the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Further details can be found here , here , and here .   


The Filipino culture was molded over more than a hundred ethnic groups consisting of 91% Christian Malay, 4% Muslim Malay, 1.5% Chinese and 3% others.  As of the August 2007 national census , the population of the Philippines has increased to 88.57 million and is estimated to reach 92.23 million in 2009.  The census is scheduled to be undertaken this 2009.


Filipino ( Tagalog) is the national language (1987 Constitution, Art. XIV, sec. 6) of the Philippines.  However, Filipino and English are the official languages for the purpose of communication and instruction (Art. XIV, sec 7).   Optional use of the national language, Filipino ( Tagalog ) is allowed.  Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 16-2010 allowed the optional use and on a per case basis, the use of Filipino ( Tagalog ) in court proceedings in view to the difficulties encountered in the use of Filipino as manifested by the Presiding Judges and the court stenographers of some courts.  This Circular provides that “in appropriate cases as may be determined by the Presiding Judge and without objection of the parties, the above-mentioned courts may use Filipino in the hearing and resolution of motions, or in the conduct of mediation, pre-trial conference, trial, and in any other court proceedings. Existing translations of laws and rules may be used freely, and technical terms in English or Latin need not be translated literally into Filipino.”  Republic Act No. 10157, known as the Kindergarten Education Act utilizes the “mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE) method as the” primary medium of instruction for teaching and learning in the kindergarten level (sec.5).  Section 5, likewise specifically provides that the Department of Education must include in its teaching strategies the “child’s understanding of English, which is the official language.”


 There are several dialects or regional languages (spoken and written) throughout the different islands of the country, but there are eight major dialects, which include Bicolano, Cebuano, Hiligaynon or Ilongo,

Ilocano, Pampango, Pangasinense, Tagalog, and Waray .


 There are two major religions of the country: Christianity and Islam.  Christianity, more particularly Catholicism, is practiced by more than 80% of the population. It was introduced by Spain in 1521. The Protestant religion was introduced by American missionaries.


Aglipay , or the Philippine Independent Church, and the Iglesia ni Kristo are two Filipino independent churches or religious organizations.  Other Christian religious organizations like the El Shaddai, Ang Dating Daan , and ‘Jesus is Lord' have been established.  Members of the Iglesia ni Kristo and the El Shaddai are increasing and their membership has exented worldwide.  These independent churches and religious organizations are having a great influence to the nation, especially during elections.


The Constitution of the Philippines specifically provides that the separation of Church and State is inviolable. (Constitution (987), Art. II, sec.6). However, religion has a great influence in the legal system of the Philippines. For the Muslim or Islamic religion, a special law, the Code of Muslim Personal Laws (Presidential Decree no. 1083), was promulgated and special courts were established, the Shari’a courts, a separate  bar examination for the  Muslim or Islamic  community is being conducted. The Catholic Church has affected the present political system.  A priest had to take leave as a priest when he was elected governor of a province in Region 3.   A movement was even started to be able to choose the President of the Philippines and other government officials in the May 2009 national election.  The Church  stand on major  issues  have affected  the  passage of bills pending in Congress and such as the Reproductive Health Bill (Senate Bill No. 2865 and House Bill No. 4244)  which was approved by both House of Congress  on December 19, 2012.  After the passage of the law, religious organizations and individuals questioned the constitutionality of the law in the consolidated case of “Imbong v. Ochoa, Jr.,” G.R. No. 204819, April 08, 2014.


The other bill still pending in Congress is Divorce, etc. The Philippines is considered as the only country that does not allow Divorce.  However, annulment of marriage is recognized.


2.      Political Structure

The Constitution is the fundamental law of the land. The present political structure of the Philippines was defined by the 1987 Constitution, duly ratified in a plebiscite held on February 2, 1987 and proclaimed ratified on February 11, 1987.  There is a move now in Congress, which was started at the House of Representatives to revise/amend the present Constitution.  One of the major problems to be resolved by both Houses of Congress is the mode or method in revising/amending the   present 1987 Constitution. A much debated proposed amendment is the term extension for the President.


The 1987 Constitution provides that the Philippines is a democratic and republican state where sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them (Article II, section 1).   

3.      Government Structure

The government structure differs as one goes through the history of the Philippines, which may be categorized as follows:  a) Pre-Spanish; b). Spanish period; c). American period; d). Japanese period; e). Republic; and f). Martial Law Period


 a) Pre-Spanish (before 1521)

The Barangays or independent communities were the unit of government structures before Spain colonized the Philippines. The head of each barangay was the Datu .  The Datus were called Cabeza de Barangay during the Spanish period.  He governs the barangays using native rules, which are customary and unwritten.  There were two codes during this period: the Maragtas Code issued by Datu Sumakwel of Panay Island and the Code of Kalantiao issued by Datu Kalantiano in 1433.  The existence of these codes is questioned by some historians.


 Just like many ancient societies, trial by ordeal was practiced.


 b) Spanish period (1521-1898)

The Spanish period can be traced from the time Magellan discovered the Philippines when he landed on Mactan Island (Cebu) on March 16, 1521. Royal decrees, Spanish laws, and/or special issuances of special laws for the Philippines were extended to the Philippines from Spain by the Spanish Crown through the councils.  The chief legislator is the governor-general who exercises legislative functions by promulgating executive decrees, edicts or ordinances with the force of law. The Roya l Audencia, or Spanish Supreme Court, in the Philippines also exercised legislative functions when laws are passed in the form of autos accordados .  Melquiades Gamb oa , in his book entitled “ An Introduction to Philippine Law ” (7th ed, 1969), listed the most prominent laws in this period: Fuero Juzgo, Fuero Real, Las Siete Partidas, Leyes de Toros, Nueva Re copi lacion de las Leyes de Indias and the Novisima Recopilacion .  Some of these laws were also in force in other Spanish colonies.  Laws in force at the end of the Spanish rule in 1898 are as follows: Codigo Penal de 1870, Ley Provisional para la Aplicaciones de las Dispociciones del Codigo Penal en las Islas Filipinas, Ley de Enjuciamento Criminal, Ley de Enjuciameniento Civil, Codigo de Comercio, Codigo Civil de 1889, Ley Hipotecaria, Ley de Minas, Ley Notarial de 1862 , Railway Law of 1877, Law of Foreigners for Ultramarine Provinces and the Code of Military Justice.  Some of these laws remained in force even during the early American period and/or until Philippine laws were promulgated.

 In between the Spanish and the American period is what Philippine historians consider the first Philippine Republic.  This was when General Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed the Philippine Independence in Kawit , Cavite on June 12, 1898. The Malolos Congress also known as Assembly of the Representatives, which can be considered as revolutionary in nature, was convened on September 15, 1898.  The first Philippine Constitution, the Malolos Constitution was approved on January 20, 1899. General Emilio Aguinaldo was the President and Don Gracio Gonzaga as the Chief Justice. A Republic, although with de facto authority, was in force until the start of the American Sovereignty when the Treaty of Paris was signed on December 10, 1898.


 c) American period (1898-1946)

The start of this period can be traced after the Battle of Manila Bay when Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States upon the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898.  A military government was organized with the military governor as the chief executive exercising executive, legislative and judicial functions.  Legislative function was transferred to the Philippine Commission in 1901, which was created by the United States President as commander-in-chief of the Armed forces and later ratified by the Philippine Bill of 1902.  This same Bill provided for the establishment of the First Philippine Assembly, which convened on October 16, 1907.  The Jones law provided for the establishment of a bicameral legislative body on October 16, 1916, composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives. 


The United States Constitution was recognized  until the  promulgation of the Philippine Constitution  on February 8, 1935, signed by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt  on March 23, 1935 and ratified at a  plebiscite held on May 14, 1935.


The organic laws that governed the Philippines during this period were: President McKinley’s Instruction to the Second Philippine Commission on April 7, 1900; Spooner Amendment of 1901; Philippine Bill of 1902; Jones Law of 1916 and the Tydings McDuffie Law of May 1, 1934.  The later law is significant for it allowed the establishment of a Commonwealth government and the right to promulgate its own Constitution. The 1935 Constitution initially changed the legislative system to a unicameral system.  However, the bicameral system was restored pursuant to the 1940 Constitutional amendment. The Commonwealth government is considered as a transition government for ten years before the granting of the Philippine independence.  Cayetano Arellano was installed as the first Chief Justice in 1901. The M ajority of the Justices of the Philippine Supreme Court were Americans. Decisions rendered by the Supreme Court of the Philippines were appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which were reported in the United States Supreme Court Reports.


 Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio  Osmeña were elected as President and Vice-President respectively during the September 14, 1935 elections. In this election, President Quezon won over General Emilio Aguinaldo and Bishop Gregorio Aglipay, the President of the First Philippine Republic (1898) and the head of the Aglipayan church, respectively. This Commonwealth government went into exile in Washington DC during the Japanese period from May 13, 1942 to October 3, 1944.  President Manuel L. Quezon died on August 1, 1944 and was succeeded by President Sergio Osmena who brought back the government to Manila on February 28, 1945.


 d) Japanese period (1941-1944)

The invasion of the Japanese forces when Clark Field, an American military airbase in Pampanga, was bombed on December 8, 1941, marked the start of the Japanese period, which lasted for three years. A Japanese Republic was established with Jose P. Laurel as its President. Jose Yulo was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.   Supreme Court decisions during this period were recognized and are found in the Philippine Reports, the official publication for Supreme Court decisions . This period was considered as a military rule by the Japanese Imperial Army.  The 1943 Constitution was ratified by a special national convention of the Kapisanan sa Paglilingkod ng Bagong Pilipinas (KALIBAPI).   No law/statutes, including the 1943 Constitution were recognized after the war. This period lasted for three years and  ended in 1944 with the defeat of the Japanese forces.


 e) Republic period (1946-1972)

July 4, 1946 was the inauguration of Philippine independence.  A Philippine Republic was born.  A republic means a government by the people and sovereignty resides in the entire people as a body politic.   The provisions of the 1935 Constitution defined the government structure, which provided for the establishment of three co-equal branches of government.  Executive power rests in the President, legislative power in two Houses of Congress and judicial power in the Supreme Court, and inferior courts.  Separation of powers is recognized. 


 Efforts to amend the 1935 Constitution started on August 24, 1970 with the approval of Republic Act No. 6132 where 310 delegates were elected on November 10, 1970.  On June 1, 1971, the delegates of the Constitutional Convention met.  While it was still in session, President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972.  The Constitutional Convention completed the draft Constitution on November 29, 1972.  It was submitted for ratification through citizens’ assemblies on January 17, 1973.  This is known as the 1973 Constitution.


 f) Martial Law Period (1972-1986).

The Philippine Congress was abolished when Martial Law was declared on September 21, 1972. The Martial Law period was governed by the 1973 Constitution, which established a parliamentary form of government.  Executive and legislative powers were merged and the Chief Executive was the Prime Minister who was elected by majority of all members of the National Assembly (Parliament). The Prime Minister had the power to advise the President.  The President is the symbolic head of state.  This parliamentary government was never implemented due to the transitory provision of the 1973 Constitution.  Military tribunals were also established. Amendments to the Constitution were made wherein by virtue of amendment No. 3, the powers of the President and the Prime Minister were merged into the incumbent President Ferdinand E. Marcos.  Amendment No. 6 authorized President Marcos to continue exercising legislative powers until Martial law is in effect.  Amendment No. 7 provided for the barangays as the smallest political subdivision and the sanggunians , or councils.  The 1981 amendment introduced the modified presidential/parliamentary system of government of the Philippines. The President shall be elected by the people for a term of six years while the Prime Minister shall be elected by a majority of the Batasang Pambansa (Parliament) upon the nomination of the President.  He was the head of the Cabinet and had supervision over all the ministries.   The President during this period was Ferdinand E. Marcos and the Prime Minister was Cesar Enrique Aguinaldo Virata.


Proclamation No. 2045 (1981) lifted Martial Law and abolished mi litary tribunals.  Elections were held on June 16, 1981 and President Marcos was re-elected into office as President.  The constitution was again amended in 1984 and a plebiscite was held on January 27, 1984 pursuant to Batas Pambansa Blg. 643 (1984).  Elections were held on May 14, 1984 for the 183 elective seats in the 200 member of the Batasang Pambansa .


An i mpeachment resolution by 57 members of the opposition was f iled against President Marcos but was dismissed.  A special presidential election, popularly known as Snap Election, was called by President Marcos on November 3, 1985 and was held on February 7, 1986.  The National Movement for Free Elections, or NAMFREL, results showed that Corazon Aquino led by over a million votes.  However, the Batasang Pambansa declared that Ferdinand E. Marcos and Arturo M. Tolentino won over Corazon C . Aquino and Salvador H. Laurel as President and Vice-President, respectively.  President Marcos and Vice President Arturo  took their oath before Chief Justice Ramon Aquino at the Malacanang Palace, Manila. This event led to the People Power revolution, which ousted President Marcos on February 25, 1986.


 g) Republic Revival (1986-present)

The Republic period was revived after the bloodless revolution popularly known as People Power or the EDSA Revolution. 


Corazon C. Aquino and Salvador H. Laurel took their oath of office as 11 th President and Vice President of the Philippine Republic on February 25, 1986 before Associate Justice Claudio Teehankee at the Club Filipino, San Juan, Manila.  Proclamation No. 1 (1986) was promulgated wherein the President and the Vice President took power in the name and by the will of the Filipino people.  Proclamation No. 3 (1986) adopted as the Provisional Constitution or Freedom Constitution, provided for a new government. 


 A Constitutional Commission was constituted by virtue of Article V of the Provisional Constitution and Proclamation No. 9 (1986).  The Constitutional Commission, composed of 48 members, was mandated to draft a Constitution.  After 133 days, the draft constitution was submitted to the President on October 15, 1986 and ratified by the people in a plebiscite held on February 2, 1987.  Under the transitory provision of the 1987 Constitution, the President and Vice President elected in the February 7, 1986 elections were given a six-year term of office until June 30, 1992.  Congressional elections were held on May 11, 1987.  The Republican form of government was officially revived when the 1987 Constitution was ratified and Congress was convened in 1987.   Legislative enactments again rested in the Congress.  Republic Acts were again issued by Congress, the number of which took off from the last number used before Martial Law was declared.  The numbering of Republic Acts continued from the number last used before Martial Law (Republic Act No. 6635 (1972) and Republic Act No. 6636 (1987). The Republic form of government by virtue of the 1987 Constitution was the same type of republican government prior to Martial law  by virtue of the 1935 Constitution with three co-equal branches: Executive, Legislative and the Judiciary.


 The Philippines once again became a Republic by virtue of the 1987 Constitution.  The same type of republican form of government prior to Martial law was established with three co-equal branches were organized, Executive, Legislative and the Judiciary.  Those holding office in these three co-equal branches are public officers and employees. Constitution (1987), Article XI, provides for the accountability of public officers. Article XI,  Section 1 , “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must, at all times, be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency; act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.”  Public officers   in the Executive (President and Vice President) , Judiciary (Members or Justices of the Supreme Court) and the Constitutional Commissions and the Ombudsman may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.  All other public officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, such as the civil service laws, but not by impeachment (Article XI, Section 2).


The legislative branch is composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives.  It is the legislative branch or Congress, which is involved in the impeachment process.  The House of Representatives has the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment though a  verified complaint or resolution of impeachment  filed by at least one-third of all the Members of the House of Representatives, and an  Articles of Impeachment (Article XI,  Section 3, (1) – (5)).   The Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment.  When the President of the Philippines is on trial, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall preside, but shall not vote. The public officer (President and Vice President, members or Justices of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Commissions and the Ombudsman) shall be convicted with the concurrence of two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate.  (Article XI, Section 3, (6).  When the Chief Justice or members of the Judiciary and the Constitutional Commissions and Ombudsman are on trial, the Senate President shall preside.  Rules of impeachment shall be promulgated by the Senate.  Find further information here , here , and here .  


Impeachment (Constitution (1987) Article XI,  Sections 2 and 3 has been  filed  against a President, two Chief Justices and one Associate Justice and an Ombudsman. In the case of President Joseph E. Estrada , verified complaint was filed by 115 members of the House of Representatives   led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives Manuel Villar on November 13, 2000.  Impeachment trial was held December 9, 2000 with Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. as presiding officer and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel.  The impeachment trial did not end for the Prosecutors walked out on January 16, 2001 when the impeachment court did not grant their request to open the second envelope.   This lead to what is called “People Power 2,” which ended when   Vice-President Gloria Macapal Arroyo took her oath of office as President  on January 21, 2001     before Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr., in EDSA where the people gathered for the People Power 2.  The legality of the Arroyo Presidency was brought to the Supreme Court by President Estrada (Estrada v. Desierto, G.R. No. 146710-15, March 2, 2001)


On October 23, 2003, an impeachment case was filed against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. but it did not prosper in the House of Representatives.  The question on the impeachment case of Chief Justice Davide was resolved by the Supreme Court in the case of Francisco, Jr. v. The House of Representatives (G.R. No. 160261, November 10, 2003).   On May 2011, the House Committee on Justice declared that the impeachment complaint against incumbent Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo as sufficient in form and in December 2011, as sufficient in substance.  The impeachment complaint   is still pending in the House of Representatives.   December 2011, an impeachment case was filed against Chief Justice Renato C. Corona by 188 members of the House of Representatives or more than the required one-third requirement of Article XI,   Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution .   Trial started January 16, 2012 with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile as Presiding Officer.  Chief Justice Renato C.  Corona was found guilty under Article II of the Articles of Impeachment last May 29, 2012 or after 43 days of trial.  The vote of the Senators who acted as Impeachment Court Judges was 20-3, 20 found him guilty.   Chief Justice Renato C.  Corona is the first high ranking government official to be convicted by an impeachment court.


In March 2011, 212 members of the House of Representatives led by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte voted to impeach the Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and to transmit the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate. The 7-year term of office of Ombudsman  Gutierrez was supposed to end December 2012. Ombudsman Gutierrez resigned before the impeachment trial by the Senate.


3.1.   Executive Branch

The President is vested with the executive power. (Art. VII, sec. 1, 1987 Constitution). The President is both the Chief of State (head of government) and the Commander-in-Chief of all the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Art. VII, sec. 18).  Since 1898 when the First Philippine Republic was established, the Philippines has had fifteen (15) Presidents from Emilio Aguinaldo to Benigno S. Aquino III. 


The Executive Branch   also includes the Vice-President and the Secretaries of Heads of the   Executive Departments and other Cabinet officials


Both the President and the Vice-President are elected by direct vote of the Filipino people for a term of six years. The President is not eligible for a re-election while the Vice President cannot serve for more than two terms.  Congress is empowered to promulgate rules in the canvassing of certificates of election.   The Supreme Court sitting en banc is the sole judge of all election contests relating to their election, returns and qualifications (Art VII, sec. 4).  The Supreme Court en banc thus acts as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.  The Supreme Court promulgated the 2005 Rules on the Presidential Tribunal (A.M. No. 05-11-06-SC). Both may be removed from office by impeachment (Art. XI sec. 2) to be initiated by the House of Representatives (Art. XI, sec, 3) and tried and decided by the Senate (Art. XI, sec, 3 (6)). The Cabinet members are nominated by the President, subject to the confirmation of the Commission on Appointments (Art. VII, sec, 16) which consists of the President of the Senate, as ex- officio Chairman, twelve Senators and twelve members of the House of Representatives (Art. VI, sec. 1).


Cabinet members are nominated by the President, subject to the confirmation of the Commission on Appointments (Art. VII, sec, 16), which consists of the President of the Senate, as ex officio Chairman, twelve Senators and twelve members of the House of Representatives (Art. VI, sec. 1).


The President exercises control over all the executive departments, bureaus and offices (Art. VI, sec, 17).


Office of the Solicitor General .


Its mandate and function as found in its website  is that it is  “the law firm of the Republic of the Philippines. It is tasked to represent the People of the Philippines, the Philippine Government, its Agencies and Instrumentalities, Officials and Agents (especially before appellate courts) in any litigation or matter requiring the services of a lawyer.” Its mission is “to promote and protect the interest of the Republic of the Philippines and its people in legal proceedings and matters requiring the services of a lawyer.


3.2.   Legislative Department

Legislative power is vested in the Congress of the Philippines, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives (Art. VI, sec. 1).  History has provided that the legislative structure has undergone numerous changes.  A brief history of the Philippine legislature is available at the House of Representative website  and at the Senate


The Senate of the Philippines is composed of twenty four (24) Senators who are elected at large by qualified voters who serve for a term of not more than six (6) years.  No Senator may be elected for more than two consecutive terms. (Art VI, sec. 4). The Senate is led by the Senate President, Pro Tempore, Majority Leader and the Minority Leader.  The Senate President is elected by majority vote of its members. There are thirty six (36) permanent committees and five (5) oversight committees.  The sole judge of contests relating to election, returns and qualifications of members of the Senate rests with the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), which is composed of nine members, three of whom are Justices of the Supreme Court and six members of the Senate. (Art. VI, sec. 17).  The Senate Electoral Tribunal has approved on November 12, 2003 its Revised Rules.


The  House of Representatives is composed of not more than two hundred fifty (250) members, elected by legislative districts for a term of three years. No representative shall serve for more than three consecutive terms.  The party-list representatives who come from registered national, regional and sectional parties and organizations, shall constitute twenty percent (20%) of the total number of representatives. The election of party-list representatives was by virtue of the Republic Act No. 7941, which was approved on March 3, 1995.  In a recent  decision of the Supreme Court penned by Justice Antonio T. Carpio on April 21, 2009, Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT) v. Commission on Elections (G.R. No. 17971) and Bayan Muna, Advocacy for Teacher Empowerment  Through Action, Cooperation and Harmony Towards Educational Reforms, Inc. and Abono (G.R. No. 179295), Republic Act No. 7941 was  declared unconstitutional with regards to the two percent threshold in the distribution of additional party-list seats.  The Court in this decision provided a procedure in the allocation of additional seats under the Party-List System. Major political parties are disallowed from participating in party-list elections .  Another case on the party-list elections, pursuant to Republic Act No. 7941  COMELEC  Resolutions Nos. 9366 and 9531, was filed by the 52 party-list groups who were disqualified by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to participate in the May 13, 2013 election.  The consolidated case is  Atong Paglaum, Inc., Represented by its President, Mr. Alan Igot v. Commission on Elections (G.R. No. 203766, April 2, 2013) was penned by Justice Antonio T. Carpio. This case enumerated the six parameters in determining as to who may participate in party-list elections.


 The officials of the House of Representatives are the Speaker of the House, Deputy Speaker for Luzon, Deputy Speaker for Visayas, Deputy Speaker for Mindanao, Majority Leader, and Minority Leader. They are  elected by a majority vote of  members. There are fifty seven (57) standing committees and sixteen (16) special committees of the House of Representatives. The sole judge of contests relating to election, returns and qualifications of members of the House of Representatives rests with the House of Representatives  Electoral Tribunal (HRET)  which is composed of  nine members, three of whom are Justices of the Supreme Court and six members of the Senate.(Art. VI, sec. 17).   The House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal adopted its 1998 Internal Rules on March 24, 1998.


3.3.   Judicial System  


Organizational Chart of the whole Judicial System and those of each type of Court is available in 2002 Revised Manual of Clerks of Court. Manila: Supreme Court, 2002.  Organizational Chart was amended due to the passage of Republic Act No. 9282 (law elevating the Court of Tax Appeals to the level of a collegiate court)


Judicial power rests with the Supreme Court and the lower courts, as may be established by law (Art. VIII, sec. 1).  The judiciary enjoys fiscal autonomy.  Its appropriation may not be reduced by the legislature below the appropriated amount the previous year, after approval, shall be automatically and regularly released.  (Art. VIII, sec. 3).   This provision may now face construction or interpretation in line with what the Secretary of Budget and Management call “ Transparency and Accountability Primordial to Fiscal Autonomy .”   This involves the release of funds of unfilled positions in agencies enjoying fiscal autonomy such as Congress, Judiciary, Constitutional Commissions and the Ombudsman.  The last annual budget   from the government  represents less than one (1%)  of the entire budget of the Philippine government.  In 1984, President Ferdiand Marcos  passed  Presidential Decree No. 1949,  a special fund  popularly called The Judiciary Development Fund (JDF).  It  is a special fund established “to help ensure and guarantee the independence of the Judiciary as mandated by the Constitution and public policy.” This fund is sourced from  the legal fees collected by the courts and 80% is for the cost of living allowances of the members and personnel of the Judiciary and 20% is for the acquisition, maintenance and repair of  office equipment and facilities.


 The Rules of Court of the Philippines as amended and the rules and regulations issued by the Supreme Court define the rules and procedures of the Judiciary. These rules and regulations are in the form of Administrative Matters, Administrative Orders, Circulars, Memorandum Circulars, Memorandum Orders and OCA Circulars.  To inform the members of the Judiciary, legal profession and the public of these rules and regulations, the Supreme Court disseminates this rules and regulations to all courts, publishes important ones in newspapers of general circulation, prints in book or pamphlet form and now downloads them in the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court E-Library websites .


 Department of Justice Administrative Order No. 162 dated August 1, 1946 provided for the Canon of Judicial Ethics .  Supreme Court of the Philippines promulgated a new Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary effective June 1, 2004 (A.M. No. 03-05-01-SC), which was published in two newspapers of general circulation on May 3, 2004 (Manila Bulletin & Philippine Star) and available on its website and the Supreme Court E-Library website .


 The Supreme Court promulgated on June 21, 1988 the Code of Professional Responsibility for the legal profession.  The draft was prepared by the Committee on Responsibility, Discipline and Disbarment of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.


 A Code of Conduct for Court Personnel (A.M. No. 03-06-13-SC) was adopted on April 13, 2004,   effective June 1, 2004, published  in two newspapers of general circulation  on April 26, 2004 (Manila Bulletin & Philippine Star) and available at the websites.


Supreme Court of the Philippines :

The barangay chiefs exercised judicial authority prior to the arrival of Spaniards in 1521. During the early years of the Spanish period, judicial powers were vested upon Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, the first governor general of the Philippines where he administered civil and criminal justice under the Royal Order of August 14, 1569.


 The Royal Audencia was established on May 5, 1583 , composed of a president, four oidores (justices) and a fiscal.  The Audencia exercised both administrative and judicial functions.  Its functions and structure were modified in 1815 when its president was replaced by a chief justice and the number of justices was increased.  It came to be known as the Audencia Territorial de Manila with two branches, civil and criminal.  Royal Decree issued July 24, 1861 converted it to a purely judicial body wherein its decisions were appealable to the Supreme Court of the Philippines to the Court of Spain in Madrid.  A territorial Audencia in Cebu and Audencia for criminal cases in Vigan were organized on February 26, 1898.   The Audencias were suspended by General Wesley Merrit when a military government was established after Manila fell to American forces in 1898.  Major General Elwell S. Otis re-established the Audencia on May 29, 1899 by virtue of General Order No. 20.  Said Order provided for six Filipino members of the Audencia .  Act No. 136 abolished the Audencia and established the present Supreme Court on June 11, 1901 with Cayetano Arellano as the first Chief Justice together with associate justices, the majority of whom were American.  Filipinization of the Supreme Court started only during the Commonwealth, 1935. Administrative Code of 1917 provided for a Supreme Court with a Chief Justice and eight associate Justices.  With the ratification of the 1935 Constitution, the membership was increased to 11 with two divisions of five members each.  The 1973 Constitution further increased its membership to 15 with two (2) divisions.


 Pursuant to the provisions of the 1987 Constitution, the Supreme Court is composed of a Chief Justice and fourteen Associate Justices who shall serve until the age of seventy (70).  The Court may sit En Banc or in its three (3) divisions composed of five members each.  A vacancy must be filled up by the President within ninety (90) days of occurrence from the list submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council.  Constitution  (1987),Article VIII, sec. 4 (2) explicitly provides for the cases that must be heard En Banc and sec. 4 (3) f or cases that may be heard by divisions.


Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 transferred from the Department of Justice to the Supreme Court   the administrative supervision of all courts and their personnel.  This was affirmed by Constitution(1987),  Art. VIII, sec. 6.  To effectively discharge this constitutional mandate, The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) was created under Presidential Decree No. 828, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 842, and its functions further strengthened by a Resolution of the Supreme Court En Banc dated October 24, 1996.  Its principal function is the supervision and administration of the lower courts throughout the Philippines and all their personnel.  It reports and recommends to the Supreme Court all actions that affect the lower court management.  The OCA is headed by the Court Administrator, three (3) Deputy Court Administrators and three (3) Assistant Court Administrators.


According to the 1987 Constitution , Art. VIII, sec. 5, the  Supreme Court exercises the following powers: 

Exercise jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and over petitions for certiorari , prohibition , mandamus , quo warranto , and habeas corpus .


Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari, as the law or the Rules of Court may provide final judgments and orders of lower courts in:



Supreme Court has promulgated  the  Internal Rules of the Supreme Court ( As amended in Resolutions dated  July 6, 2010, August 3, 2010, January  17, 2012, September 18, 2012) ), to govern the internal operations of the Court and  as a guide to the exercise of its judicial and administrative functions).  The last revision of the Internal Rules  (A.M. No, 10-4-20-SC (Revised)) was in March 12, 2013).  


The Internal Rules of the Supreme Court provides that cases may be heard on oral arguments upon defined issues.  The constitutionality of laws, treaties and other agreements are defined issues.  The procedure defined by section 3 is as follows: “The petitioner shall argue first, followed by the respondent and the amicus curiae , if any. Rebuttal of oral arguments may be allowed by the Chief Justice or the Chairperson. If any, the Court may invite amicus curiae.  The constitutionality of two significant laws has been decided after a series of oral arguments.  Republic Act No. 10354 – “Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 or RH LAW too years before it became a law.  One primary consideration is that the Philippines is a Catholic/Christian country.  The constitutionality of the RH law was assailed in the consolidated case of Imbong  v. Ochoa, Jr., (G.R. No. 204819, April 08, 2014). The Court declared that the law is constitutional.  The importance of religion and the Constitution was laid down at the very start of the decision of Justice Jose Mendoza,  and I quote:


“Freedom of religion was accorded preferred status by the framers of our fundamental law. And this Court has consistently affirmed this preferred status, well  aware that it is “designed to protect the broadest possibly liberty of conscience, to all each man to believe as his conscience directs, to profess his beliefs, and to live as he believes he ought to live, consistent with the liberty of others and with the common good.”


The constitutionality of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (Republic Act No.10175 passed on September 12, 2012 was assailed in the consolidated case of Disini, Jr. v. The Secretary of Justice, G.R. No. 203335, February 18, 2014. 


The constitutionality of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), an agreement with the United States, was question in the consolidated case of  BAYAN ( Bagong Alyansang Makabayan )  v. Zamora, G.R. No. 138570, October 10, 2000. Although this case declared the agreement constitutional, cases involving this agreement are being filed.  The case of Sombilon v. Romulo, G.R. No. 175888, February 11, 2009, pertains to the custody of defendant Lance Corporal (L/CPL) Daniel Smith, a member of the United States Visiting Forces who was accused of rape.   Another case involving Cpl. Scott Pemberton, member of the United States Visiting Forces was filed before the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City for the murder of a transgender. Cpl. Pemberton was heavily guarded by both United States and Filipino soldiers and has undergone mandatory fingerprinting and mug shorts but arraignment has not yet been scheduled.


Another agreement between Philippines and the United States, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) has been question in consolidated petitions pertions. The Supreme Court has started last November 18, 2014 to hold oral arguments on these consolidated petitions.


Recent cases filed in the Supreme Court involve the use of government funds in the two co-equal branches of government, the Legislature and the Executive.  The Belgica v. Ochoa, Jr., G.R. No. 208566, November 19, 2003, involves the use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) by the members of the Legislative Department.  In the decision of Justice Perlas-Bernabe, the concept and the history of the pork barrel system was discussed.  The Araullo v. Aquino III, G. R. No. 209287, July 1, 2014 on the other hand assailed the constitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), National Budget Circular (NBC) No. 541, and related issuances of the Department of  Budget and Management (DBM) implementing  the DAP of the Executive Department.  The Supreme Court decided that use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of the Legislative Department and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of the Executive Department are both unconstitutional.    Plunder cases relating to the use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)  have been filed by the Office of the Ombudsman at the Sandiganbatan against  three incumbent  Senators, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla, Jr. and Jose P. Ejercito-Estrada. All the three incumbent Senators are under detention.


The Supreme Court website includes the petitions, oral arguments,  audio recording and advisories of landmark decisions like those previously mentioned.


The Supreme Court has adopted and promulgated the Rules of Court for the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleadings and practice and procedure in all courts, and the admission in the practice of law.  In line with this mandate of the Rules of Court and extrajudicial killing and disappearances, the Supreme Court passed two important Resolutions: the Rule on the Writ of Amparo (A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC), approved on September 25, 2007 and effective on October 24, 2007, and the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data (A.M. No. 08-1-16--SC), approved on January 22, 2008 and effective February 2, 2008.  The “ Writ of Amparo   is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened  with violation by an unlawful act or  omission of a public  official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.  This writ shall cover extrajudicial killing and enforced disappearances or threats. (sec.1)” The Writ of Habeas data on the other hand “is a remedy available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or any private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information regarding the person, family, home and correspondence of the aggrieved party” (section 1).


Writ of Kalikasan , a resolution on Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases (A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC) was approved on April 13, 2010 and was to take effect on April 29, 2010, fifteen (15) days following its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.  This rule covers civil and criminal actions brought before the  Regional Trial Courts, Metropolitan  Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Trial Courts   involving the enforcement or violations on the existing environmental and other related  laws and regulations, conservation, development, preservation, protection and utilization of the environment and natural resources,  promulgated  during the American period  such as Act No. 3572 approved on November 26, 1929  until the present Republic such as Republic Act No. 9637   approved on May 13, 2009.    The Courts designated to try these cases are called “Green Courts.”    


 A Writ of Kalikasan was issued with a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO)   was issued  by the Supreme Court in  the case of “West Tower Condominium  Corporation, On Behalf of the Residents off West  Tower Condo., And In Representation of Barangay Bangkal, And Others, Including Minors and Generations Yet Unborn vs. First Philippine Industrial Corporation, First Gen Corporation And Their Respective Board of Directors and Officers, John  Does and Richard Does,” G.R. No. 194239, May 31, 2011.   The case of  Abrigo v. Swift, G.R. No. 206510, September 16, 2014,   was filed when the USS Guardian ran aground on the northwest side of South Shoal of the Tubbataha Reefs.  Tubataha Reefs  is  declared as a Nature Park  by law (Republic Act No. 10067, approved  April 6, 2010) and a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). A Writ of Kalikasan  petition with prayer for the Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) under Rule 7 of A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC, otherwise known as the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases (Rules) was filed for violations of environmental laws and regulations. This case however takes into consideration involves international responsibility.  The USS Guardian was allowed to enter Philippine waters  by  pursuant to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)  and “as a treaty privilege should be considered as an act jure imperii .”  The petition was dismissed.  The Court stated and I quote:


“The Court defers to the Executive Branch on the matter of compensation and rehabilitation measures through diplomatic channels.  Resolution of these issues impinges on our relations with another State in the context of common security interests under the VFA. It is settled that “[t]he conduct of the foreign relations of our government is committed by the Constitution to the executive and legislative—“the political”--departments of the government, and the propriety of what may be done in the exercise of this political power is not subject to judicial inquiry or decision.”


The Supreme Court has promulgated what can be considered as a landmark decision at the start of 2015.  The Risos-Vidal v. Commission on Elections and Joseph E. Estrada, G.R. No. 206666, January 21, 2015, penned by Associate Justice Teresita L De Castro,  dismissed the disqualification case against the former President and  now the  elected Mayor of Manila.  The former President was convicted by the Sandiganbayan of plunder.  President Arroyo granted former President Estrada executive clemency or pardon on October 25, 2007  on the grounds that the government has a policy to pardon convicts who are 70 and above and  that Estrada has already been on house of arrest for 6 years.  This disqualification case’  main contention was on this  pardon extended by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.  The Supreme Court En Banc voted 11-3 and one abstention.  Majority of the justices characterized the pardon as absolute and this restored Estrada’s qualification to stand as candidate in the last mayoral election.   This decision  upheld Estrada’s contention that President Arroyo’s pardon  “restored his full civil and political rights, including the right to seek public elective office.” 


Amendments are promulgated through the Committee on Revision of Rules the Court also issues administrative rules and regulations in the form of court issuances found in the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court E-Library websites .


Draft personnel manual (A.M. No. 00-6-01-SC) was been submitted  to the Court En                  
Banc for action on March 29, 2011.  In a Resolution of the Court En Banc dated January
31, 2012,   the Human Resource Manual formerly referred to as Personnel Manual, was approved.


The Judicial and Bar Council was created by virtue of Constitution(1987), Art. VIII, sec. 8. under the supervision of the Supreme Court.  Its principal function is to screen prospective appointees to any judicial post. It is composed of the Chief Justice as ex-officio Chairman, the Secretary of Justice and representatives of Congress as ex-officio members, a representative of the Integrated Bar, a professor of law, a retired member of the Supreme Court and a representative of the private sector as members. The Judicial and Bar Council has promulgated on October 31, 2000 its Rules (JBC-009) in the performance of its function.  The Supreme Court opined  that in the case of   Jardeleza v. Sereno, The Judicial And Bar Council and Ochoa, Jr., G.R. No. 213181, August 19, 2014,  that the application of Section 2, Rule 10 of JBC-009 to petitioner violated the petitioners’ constitutionally guaranteed right to due process and  having garnered a majority vote of the JBC Members, declare that the petitioner be deemed included in the short list submitted by respondent JBC to the President.  The Supreme Court further stated the need to “ respect to the interpretation and application of Section 2, Rule 10 of JBC-009.”


The JBC conducts live public interviews and has set guidelines for vacancy   in the Chief Justice, Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and Appellate Courts.   JBC Resolution No. 007 provides for wider publicity of notice of opening of nomination and list of applicants for judicial positions.


  The Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) is the “training school for justices, judge, court personnel, lawyers and aspirants to judicial posts.”   It was originally created by the Supreme Court on March 16, 1996 by virtue of Administrative Order No. 35-96 and was institutionalized on February 26, 1998 by virtue of Republic 8557.  It is an important component of the Supreme Court for its important mission on judicial education it to p rovide opportunities to develop judicial competence, instill sound values, and form constructive attitudes in its continuing pursuit of judicial excellence. No appointee to the Bench may commence the discharge his adjudicative function without completing the prescribed course in the Philippine Judicial Academy (http://philja.judiciary.gov.ph/programs.html)   Its organizational structure and administrative set-up are provided for by the Supreme Court in its En Banc resolution (Revised A.M. No. 01-1-04-SC-PHILJA). It has development partners .  The PHILJA Training Center is situated at Brgy. Silang, Crossing East, Tagaytay City.


The Philippine Mediation Center was organized “pursuant to Supreme Court En banc Resolution A.M. No. 01-10-5-SC-PHILJA, dated October 16, 2001, and in line with the objectives of the Action Program for Judicial Reforms (APJR) to decongest court dockets, among others, the Court prescribed guidelines in institutionalizing and implementing the mediation program in the Philippines. The same resolution designated the Philippine Judicial Academy as the component unit of the Supreme Court for Court-Annexed Mediation and other Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mechanisms, and established the Philippine Mediation Center (PMC).”


Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Office was organized to implement the rules on Mandatory Continuing Legal Education for members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (B.M. No. 850 dated October 2, 2001 – “Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE)). The purpose of the MCLE is “to ensure that throughout” the career of the members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, “they keep abreast with law and jurisprudence, maintain the ethics of the profession and enhance the standards of the practice of law.”  Members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines  who are not exempt from the MCLE must complete thirty six (36) hours of continuing legal education every three (3) years (B.M. No. 850, Rule 2, sec. 2).   Exemptions from the MCLE requirement are under Rule 7, sec. 1-2. It holds office in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines main office at Julio Vargas St., Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City.


Court of Appeals :

Commonwealth Act No. 3 (December 31, 1935), pursuant to the Constitution (1935),  Art. VIII, sec. 1, established the Court of Appeals.  It was formally organized on February 1, 1936 and was composed of eleven justices with Justice Pedro Concepcion as the first Presiding Justice.  Its composition was increased to 15 in 1938 and further increased to 17 in 1942 by virtue of Executive Order No. 4.   The Court of Appeals was regionalized in the later part of 1944 when five District Courts of Appeal were organized for Northern, Central and Southern Luzon, for Manila and for Visayas and Mindanao.   It was abolished by President Osmena in 1945, pursuant to Executive Order No. 37 due to the prevailing abnormal conditions .  However, it was re-established on October 4, 1946 by virtue of Republic Act No. 52 with a Presiding Justice and fifteen (15) Associate Justices.  Its composition was increased by the following enactments: Republic Act No. 1605 to eighteen (18); Republic Act No. 5204 to twenty-four (24); Presidential Decree No. 1482 to one (1) Presiding Justice and thirty-four (34) Associate Justices; Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 to fifty (50); Republic Act No. 8246 to sixty-nine (69). With Republic Act No. 8246, the Court of Appeals in Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro were established.   With Republic Act 8246, the 69 Justices are divided in twenty three divisions throughout the Philippines:  Luzon (Manila- 1-17 th Division),  Visayas (Cebu- 18 th -20 th Division) and Mindanao (Cagayan de Oro- 21 st -23 rd Division).  The  2009 Internal Rules of Procedure of the Court of Appeals was approved by the Supreme Court En Ban in a Resolution (A.M. No. 09-11-11-CA)  dated December 15, 2009. (http://ca.judiciary.gov.ph/images/references_corner/2009irca.pdf)

 Batas Pambansa Blg . 129 changed t he name of the Court of Appeals to Intermediate Appellate Court.  Executive Order No. 33, issued by President Corazon C. Aquino on July 28, 1986, brought back its name to Court of Appeals.


Section 9 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 as amended by Executive Order No. 33 and     Republic Act No. 7902 provides for the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals as follows:



In the case of  St. Martin Funeral Home v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 130866, September 16, 1998 (356 Phil. 811),  the decision and resolutions of the National Labor Relations Commission now initially reviewable to the Court of Appeals through a petition of Certiorari under Rule 65.  Prior to this decision,  it was directly to the Supreme Court.


Criminal cases where the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment or death were automatically elevated to the Supreme Court.  With the case of People v. Mateo, G.R. No. 147678-87, July 4, 2004 (433 SCRA 640),  the Supreme Court allowed the Court of Appeals to conduct an intermediate review of the case before it is elevated to the Supreme Court.


As per the Resolution of the Supreme Court  (A.M. No. 05-11-04-SC), the Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over petitions for freeze orders on any money instrument, property or proceeds involving the Anti-Money Laundering cases (Republic Act No. 9160).  Jurisdiction for Writs of Amparo (A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC dated October 24, 2007) and Writs of Habeas data (A.M. No. 08-1-16-SC dated February 2, 2008)  rests with the Court of Appeals.


The Supreme Court, acting on the recommendation of the Committee on Revision of the Rules of Court, resolved to approve the 2002 Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals (A.M. No. 02-6-13-CA) and amended by a resolution of the Court En Banc on July 13, 2004   (A.M. No. 03-05-03-SC).


Pursuant to Republic Act No. 9372 otherwise known as the Human Security Act of 2007, the Chief Justice issued Administrative Order No. 118-2007, designating the First, Second and Third Divisions of the Court of Appeals to handle cases involving the crimes of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism and all other matters incident to the said crimes emanating from the Metropolitan Manila and Luzon.  For those emanating from Visayas, all divisions of the Court of Appeals stationed in Cebu are designated to handle these cases while the Court of Appeals stationed in Cagayan De Oro will handle cases from Mindanao.


Sandiganbayan :

The Anti-Graft Court, or Sandiganbayan, was created to maintain integrity, honesty and efficiency in the bureaucracy and weed out misfits and undesirables in government service  Constitution (1973), Art. XIII, sec. 5 and  Constitution (1987), Art. XI, sec. 4.  It was restructured by Presidential Decree No. 1606 as amended by Republic Act No. 8249.  It is composed of a Presiding Justice and fourteen (14) Associate Justices still in five Divisions of three (3) Justices each.    

As per Republic Act No. 8249, the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over cases involving the violations of the following:



Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a) of this section in relation to their office.


Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986.”


The Supreme Court, acting on the recommendation of  the Committee on  Revision of the Rules of Court, resolved  with modification  the Revised Internal Rules of the Sandiganbayan on August 28, 2002  (A.M. No. 02-6-07—SB)


Court of Tax Appeals :

Created by Republic Act No. 1125 on June 16, 1954, it serves as an appellate court to review tax cases. It had three judges and one Division. Under Republic Act No. 9282 , its jurisdiction has been expanded where it now enjoys the same level as the Court of Appeals.  This law has doubled its membership, from three to six justices, one (1) Presiding Justice and five (5) Associate Justices. There are now two (2) Divisions with three Justices per division.  Republic Act Number 9503 enacted on June 12, 2008 and effective  July 5, 2008 further expanded its composition to one (1) Presiding Justice and eight (8) Associate Justices in three (3) Divisions.  A decision of a division may be appealed to the En Banc. The en Banc decision may  be appealed by verified petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court.


T he Supreme Court acting on the recommendation of the Committee on Revision of the Rules of Court resolved to approve the Revised Rules of the Court of Tax Appeals (A.M. No. 05-11-07-CTA) and amended by a resolution of the Court En Banc on November 22, 2005 .


The Court of Tax Appeals has exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review by appeal pursuant to Republic Act No. 1125 are the following:



Regional Trial Courts:

They are called the second level courts and are divided into thirteen (13) judicial regions: National Capital Region (Metro Manila) and the twelve (12) regions of the country,   which are divided into several branches.  The jurisdictions are defined in sec. 19-23 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 as amended by Republic Act No. 7671.  The Supreme Court designates certain branches of regional trial courts as special courts to handle exclusively criminal cases, juvenile and domestic relations cases, agrarian cases, urban land reform cases that do not fall under the jurisdiction of quasi-judicial bodies. The Supreme Court issues resolutions designating specific branches of the Regional Trial Courts as special courts for heinous crimes, dangerous drugs cases, commercial courts and intellectual property rights violations. Special rules are likewise promulgated.  A.M. No. 00-8-10-SC is a resolution of the Court En Banc on the Rules of Procedure on Corporate Rehabilitation.  The Interim Rules was promulgated in November 2000 and December 2008 affects special commercial courts.  Some Regional Trial Courts are specifically designated to try and decide cases formerly cognizable by the Securities and Exchange Commission (A.M. No. 00-11-030SC).


Some branches of the Regional Trial Courts have been designated as family courts (A.M. No. 99-11-07) because the family courts to be established pursuant to Republic Act No. 8369 of the Family Court Law of 1997 have not yet been organized.   Pursuant to Republic Act No. 8369, the Family Court Law of 1997, some branches of the Regional Trial Courts have been designated as family courts (A.M. No. 99-11-07).

The Regional Trial Courts’ jurisdictions are defined as follows:


Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in Civil Cases as follows:



Exercise original jurisdiction in other cases as follows:



 Metropolitan Trial Courts (MeTC), Municipal Trial Courts in Cities (MTCC), Municipal Trial Courts (MTC) and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts (MCTC):


These are called the first level courts established in each city and municipality.  Their jurisdiction is provided for by section 33, 35 of Batas Pambansa Blg 129.  Their jurisdiction has been expanded by special laws namely Republic Act Nos. 9276, 9252, 9305, 9306, and 9308.


 MeTCs, MTCCs, MTCs, and MCTCs shall exercise original jurisdiction in Civil Cases as  provided for in section 33 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 is as follows:






Section 33 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 provides that the Supreme Court may designate MeTCs, MTCCs, MTCs, and MCTCs to hear and determine cadastral or land registration cases where the value does not exceed one hundred thousand pesos (P100, 000.00).  Their decision is can be appealed in the same manner as the Regional Trial Courts.


The MeTCs, MTCCs, MTCs, and MCTCs are empowered to hear and decide petitions for a writ of habeas corpus or applications for bail in criminal cases in the province or city in the absence of the Regional Trial Court Judges.


The Supreme Court approved on September 9, 2008 the Rule of Procedure for Small Claims Cases (A.M. No. 08-8-7-SC) which took effect on October 1, 2008 after its publication in two newspapers of general circulation.  Forty four (44) first level courts (Metropolitan Trial Courts (MeTC), Municipal Trial Courts in Cities (MTCC), Municipal Trial Courts (MTC) and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts (MCTC) were designated to hear small claims cases.   On February 16, 2010, a Resolution of the Court En Banc was approved amending provisions of the Rule of Procedure for Small Claims Cases (A.M. No. 08-8-7-SC).  In March of 2010, all the first Level Courts in the country, except Shari’a courts were empowered to hear small claims cases.  Small claims courts are also called “People’s Courts” cases are readily resolve for al courts are required to decide the matter at the first hearing. Lawyers are not allowed in hearings.  Thus, the procedure is considered inexpensive. These first level courts try small claims cases for payment of money where the value of the claim does not exceed One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100, 000.00) exclusive of interest and costs.  These courts shall apply the rules of procedure provided in A.M. No. 08-8-7-SC in all actions “which are: (a) purely civil in nature where the claim or relief prayed for by the plaintiff is solely for payment or reimbursement of sum of money, and (b) the civil aspect of criminal actions, either filed before the institution of the criminal action, or reserved upon the filing of the criminal action in court, pursuant to Rule 111 of the Revised Rules Of Criminal Procedure.”


Shari’a Courts:

These special courts were created by sec. 137 of Presidential Decree No. 1083 or the Code of Muslim Personal Laws.  The judges should possess all the qualifications of a Regional Trial Court Judge and should also be learned in Islamic law and jurisprudence. Articles 143, 144, and 155 of Presidential Decree No. 1083 provide the jurisdiction of the said courts as follows:


Shari’a D istrict Courts (SDC) as provided for in paragraph (1), Article 143 of Presidential Decree No. 1083, shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the following cases:


The SDC in concurrence with existing civil courts shall have original jurisdiction over the following cases (paragraph (2) of Article 143):


Article 144 of Presidential Decree No. 1083 provides that the SDC within shall have appellate jurisdiction over all cases tried in the Shari’a Circuit Courts (SCC) within their territorial jurisdiction.


Article 155 of Presidential Decree No. 1083 provides that the SCCs have exclusive original jurisdiction over:



 Rules of procedure are provided for in articles 148 and 158. En Banc Resolution of the Supreme Court in 183, provided the special rules of procedure in the Shari’a courts ( Ijra-at-Al Mahakim Al Sharia’a).

 Shari’a courts and personnel are subject to the administrative supervision of the Supreme Court.  Appointment of judges, qualifications, tenure, and compensation are subject to the provisions of the Muslim Code (Presidential Decree No. 1083.  SDCs and SCCs have the same officials and other personnel as those provided by law for RTCs and MTCs, respectively.


Quasi-Courts or Quasi-Judicial Agencies:

Quasi-judicial agencies are administrative agencies, more properly belonging to the Executive Department, but are empowered by the Constitution or statutes to hear and decide certain classes or categories of cases.


Quasi-judicial agencies, which are empowered by the Constitution, are the Constitutional Commissions: Civil Service Commission, Commission on Elections and the Commission on Audit.


Quasi-judicial agencies empowered by statutes are:  Office of the President. Department of Agrarian Reform, Securities and Exchange Commission, National Labor Relations Commission, National Telecommunication Commission, Employees Compensation Commission, Insurance Commission, Construction Industry Arbitration Commission, Philippine Atomic Energy Commission, Social Security System, Government Service Insurance System, Bureau of Patents, Trademark and Technology, National Conciliation Mediation Board, Land Registration Authority, Civil Aeronautics Board, Central Board of Assessment Appeals, National Electrification Administration, Energy Regulatory Board, Agricultural Inventions Board and the Board of Investments. When needed, t he Supreme Court issues rules and regulations for these quasi-judicial agencies in the performance of their judicial functions.  Republic Act No. 8799, known as the “Securities Regulation Code,” reorganized the Securities and Exchange Commission (Chapter II) and provided for its powers and function (sec.5).  Specifically provided for in these powers and function is the Commission’s jurisdiction over all cases previously provided for in sec. 5, Pres. Decree No. 902-A (sec. 5.2).  The Supreme Court promulgated rules of procedure governing intra-corporate controversies under Republic Act No. 8799 (A.M. No. 01-2-04-SC).


Decisions of these quasi-courts can be appealed to the Court of Appeals except those of the Constitutional Commissions: Civil Service Commission, Commission on Elections and the Commission on Audit, which can be appealed by certiorari to the Supreme Court (Art. IX-A, sec. 7).


Other Judicial Procedures:

Katarungang Pambarangay - Presidential Decree No. 1508, or the Katarungang Pambarangay Law, took effect December 11, 1978, and established a system of amicably settling disputes at the barangay l evel.  Rules and procedures were provided by this decree and the Local Government Code, Title I, Chapter 7, sec. 339-422). This system of amicable settlement of dispute aims to promote the speedy administration of justice by easing the congestion of court dockets.  The Court does not take cognizance of cases filed if they are not filed first with the Katarungang Pambarangay.


Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) System - Republic Act No. 9285 institutionalized the use of an alternative dispute resolution system, which serves to promote the speedy and impartial administration of justice and unclog the court dockets.  This act shall be without prejudice to the adoption of the Supreme Court of any ADR system such as mediation, conciliation, arbitration or any combination thereof. The Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on the Rules on Alternative Dispute Resolution recommended the Special Rules of Court on Alternative Dispute Resolution (A.M. No. 07-11-08-SC) to the Supreme Court En Banc and it was   approved on October 30, 2009.  The Department of Justice on the other hand  promulgated  Department Circular No. 98  - Implementing Rules and Regulations of  the  Alternative Dispute Resolution  Act of 2004 (Republic Act No. 9285)   on December 4, 2009.  The Supreme Court on June 22, 2010 approved the Rules on Court-Annexed Family Mediation, amending the Rules on Court Annexed Mediation and the corresponding Code of Ethical Standards for Mediators. (A.M. No. 10-4-16-SC).


 The Supreme Court by virtue of an En Banc Resolution dated October 16, 2001 (Administrative Matter No. 01-10-5-SC-PHILJA), designated the Philippine Judicial Academy as the component unit of the Supreme Court for court-referred or court-related mediation cases and alternative dispute resolution mechanism and establishing the Philippine Mediation Center.  Muslin law provides its own arbitration Council called The Agama Arbitration Council.


Aside from the three co-equal branches, the other offices in government are the government financial institutions and government-owned and controlled corporations .


3.4.   Constitutional Commissions

Civil Service Commission - Act No. 5 (1900) established the Philippine civil service and was reorganized as a Bureau in 1905.  It was established in the 1935 Constitution.  Republic Act No. 2260 (1959) converted it from a Bureau into the Civil Service Commission. Presidential Decree No. 807 further redefined its role. Its present status is provided for in the 1987 Constitution, Art. IX-B and reiterated by the provision of the 1987 Administrative Code (Executive Order No. 292).


Commission on Elections - It is the constitutional commission created by a 1940 amendment to the 1935 Constitution whose primary function is to manage to maintain its authority and independence in the conduct of elections.  The COMELEC exercises administrative, quasi-judicial and judicial powers.  Its membership increased to nine with a term of nine years by the 1973 Constitution. It was however decreased to seven with a term of seven years without re-appointment by the 1987 Constitution.


Commission on Audit - Article IX, sec, 2 of the 1987 Constitution provided the powers and authority of the Commission on Audit, which is to examine, audit and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue and receipts of and expenditures or uses of funds and property owned or held in trust by or pertaining to the Government including government owned and controlled corporations with original charters.


3.5.   Local Governments

Article X of the 1987 Constitution provides for the territorial and political subdivisions of the Philippines as follows: province, cities, municipalities and barangays . The 1991 Local Government Code or Republic Act No. 7160, as amended by Republic Act No. 9009,    provides the detail that implements the provision of the Constitution.  The officials, namely, the governor, city mayor, city vice mayor, municipal mayor, municipal vice-mayor and punong barangay are elected by their respective units. (1991 Local Government Code, Title II, Chapter 1, sec. 41 (a)).  The regular members of the sangguniang panlalawigan (for the province), sangguniang panglunsod (for cities), sangguniang bayan (municipalities) are elected by districts while the sangguniang barangay are elected at large.


Each territorial or political subdivision enjoys local autonomy as defined in the Constitution. The President exercises supervision over local Governments. 

Each region is composed of several provinces while each province is composed of a cluster of municipalities and component cities (Local Government Code, Title IV, Chapter 1, sec. 459). The Provincial government is composed of the governor, vice-governor, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan and other appointed officials.


The city  consists of more urbanized and developed barangays which are created, divided, merged, abolished or its boundary altered by  law or act of Congress, subject to the approval of majority votes cast by its residents in a plebiscite conducted by the Comelec (Local Government Code,  Title III, Chapter 1, sec. 448-449).  A City may be classified either as a component or highly urbanized.  The city government is composed of the mayor, vice-mayor, members of the sangguniang panlunsod (which is composed of the president of the city chapter of the liga ng mga barangay , president of the panlungsod ng mga pederasyon ng mga sangguniang kabataan and the sectoral representatives) and other appointed officials. 


The municipality consists of a group of barangays which is created, divided, merged, abolished or its boundary altered by  law or act of Congress, subject to the approval of majority votes casts in a plebiscite conducted by the Comelec (Local Government Code,  Title II, Chapter 1, sec. 440-441).  The municipal government is composed of the mayor, vice-mayor, sangguniang members (which are composed of president of the municipal chapter of the liga ng mga barangay , president of the pambayang pederasyon ng mga sangguniang kabataan and the sectoral representatives) and other appointed officials. In order for a municipality to be converted into cities, a law or act of Congress must be passed by virtue of the provisions of the Local Government Code and the Constitution.  A plebiscite must be conducted to determine if a majority of the people in the said municipality are in favor of converting the municipality into a city.  Although laws have been passed, their constitutionality can be question in the Supreme Court.   This can be seen in the November 18, 2008 decision penned by Justice Antonio T. Carpio. The League of Cities of the Philippines, City of Iloilo, and City of Calbayog filed consolidated petitions questioning the constitutionality of the Cityhood Laws and enjoined the Commission on Elections and the respondent municipality from conducting plebiscites. The Cityhood Laws were declared as unconstitutional for they violated sections 6 and 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution. The Cityhood laws referred to in this case are: Republic Acts 9389, 9390, 9391, 9392, 9293, 9394, 9398, 9404, 9405, 9407, 9408, 9409, 9434, 9435, 9436 and 9491. (League of Cities of the Philippines (CP) represented by LCP National President Jerry P. Trenas v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 176951, 177499, 178056, November 18, 2008).   Acting on an appeal, Justice Antonio T. Carpio on August 24, 2010 sustained the earlier decision declaring the Cityhood Laws unconstitutional. On appeal, the Court in a decision on February 15, 2011, penned by Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, reversed the two previous decisions of the Court and declared the Cityhood laws constitutional. Justice Bersamin sustained this decision on April 12, 2011 and the finally on June 28, 2011.


The Barangay is the smallest local government unit  which is created, divided, merged, abolished or its boundary altered by  law or by an ordinance of the sangguniang panlalawigan or sangguniang panlunsod , subject to the approval of majority votes casts in a plebiscite conducted by the Comelec (Local Government Code,  Title I, Chapter 1, sec. 384-385)


The Philippines is divided into the following local government units:



The Caraga Administrative Region (Region XIII) was created by Republic Act No. 7901, which was passed by both houses of Congress and approved by the President on February 23, 1995.  It is composed of the  provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and the cities of Butuan and Surigao.


The Cordillera Administrative Region was created by President Corazon C. Aquino by virtue of Executive Order No. 220 on July 15, 1987.  It includes the provinces of Abra, Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao and  Kalinga-Apayao. Republic Act No. 6766, which was approved on October 23, 1989.  Republic Act No. 6766 providing for an Organic Act for the Cordillera Autonomous Region was passed Congress and took effect on October 23, 1989.   A plebiscite was  called but it failed to get the majority affirmative vote on January 30, 1990.  Another law, Republic Act No. 8438, establishing the Cordillera Autonomous Region was passed by Congress on December 22, 1997.   Another plebiscite was held on March 7, 1998 among the people of the region.  Again, it failed to gain the majority approval of the Cordillera people. Efforts in Congress are being made for the passage of another law. 


The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was created by Republic Act No. 6734 and further strengthened by  Republic Act No. 9054.  Republic Act No. 6734   was passed by both houses of Congress on February7, 2001 and lapsed into law without the signature of the President in accordance with Article VI, Section 27 (1) of the Constitution on  March 31, 2001.  The ARMM has its seat of government in Muslim Mindanao. It is composed of four provinces, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. It is guided by its  own Constitution and Organic Act.  It has its own Legislative, Executive and Administration of Justice (Judicial) department of government.


In the case of  Disomangcop v. Datumanong, G.R. No. 149848, November 25, 2004,  touch on the fate of the autonomy for Muslim Mindanao.  In this decision Justice Tinga stated “we have the overwhelming support of the Bangsa Moro and the Cordillera Constitution. By this we mean meaningful an authentic  regional autonomy. We propose that we have a separate Article on the autonomous regions for the Bangsa Moro and the Cordillera people clearly spelled out in the Constitution, instead of prolonging the agony of...”


This  ARMM will be replaced by the Bangsang Moro basic law according to the Chief Peace Negotiator Marvic Leonen. The Philippine Government  and the Moro Islamic Liberation have agreed to form the transition commission to craft the basic Bangsamoro  Basic Law. Framework of Agreement of the Bangsa Moro was drafted in 2012. Annex of  Power Sharing was signed in  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on December 8, 2013 between  Prof. Miriam Coronel- Ferrer as the GPH Panel Chair and Mohaher Iqbal as the MILF Panel Chair, in the presence of the Malaysian Facilitator Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed.


3.6.   Other Government Agencies

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank) is considered as a constitutional office in the official Philippine government directory .


The Commission on Appointment is an independent constitutional body separate and distinct from the Legislative.  Its members are members of both house of Congress. It aims to “acts as a restraint against the abuse of the appointing power of the President by approving only those who are fit and qualified to ensure the efficient and harmonious functioning of the government.” This mandate and the government officials who need the Commission’s confirmation are provided in the  Constitution (1987), Article VII, sec. 16.  The members of the judiciary are not covered by the Commission on Appointments for the are under the Judicial and Bar Council.


The Commission on Human Rights was created as an independent office for cases of violation of the human rights (1987 Constitution, Art. XIII, sec. 17),  Article  XIII, sec. 18 whose mission is “committee to ensure the primacy of all human rights to their protection,  promotion and fulfillment, on the basis of equality and non-discrimination, in particular for those who are marginalized and vulnerable. It is composed of a Chairperson and four (4) members.


Office of the Ombudsman :

Constitution (1987), Article XI, sec. 12 and Republic Act No. 6770, sec. 13 ,  provide that the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman  is to “act promptly on complaints filed in any form or manner against officers or employees of the Government, or of any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations, and enforce their administrative, civil and criminal liability in every case where the evidence warrants in order to promote efficient service by the Government to the people .”    Republic Act No. 677, sec. 15 provides that priority  is given to complaints filed against high ranking government officials and/or those occupying supervisory positions and those  complaints involving grave offenses as well as complaints involving large sums of money and/or properties.   It is composed of the Ombudsman and six (6) deputies.


The President, Vice President, members of the Supreme Court, Constitutional Commission and the Ombudsman may be removed from office by impeachment for conviction of violations of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes or betrayal of public trust. (Art. XI, sec. 2).  The House of Representatives has the exclusive power to initiate (Art. XI, sec. 3 (1)) while the Senate has the sole power to try and decide impeachments cases (Art. XI, sec. 3(6)).  All other public officials and employees may be removed by law (Art. XI, sec. 2 the Civil Service Law).


4.      Legal System


4.1.   Nature of the Philippine Legal System

The Philippine legal system may be considered as a unique legal system because it is a blend of civil law (Roman), common law (Anglo-American), Muslim (Islamic) law and indigenous law. Like other legal systems, there are two main sources of law.


4.2.   Sources of Law

There are two primary sources of the law:  


Statutes or statutory law - Statutes  are defined as the written enactment of the will of the legislative branch of the government rendered authentic by certain prescribed forms or solemnities are more  also known as enactment of congress.  Generally, they consist of two types, the Constitution and legislative enactments. In the Philippines, statutory law includes constitutions, treaties, statutes proper or legislative enactments, municipal charters, municipal legislation, court rules, administrative rules and orders, legislative rules and presidential issuance.


Jurisprudence - or case law - is cases decided or written opinion by courts and by persons performing judicial functions. Also included are all rulings in administrative and legislative tribunals such as decisions made by the Presidential or Senate or House Electoral Tribunals.  Only decisions of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal are available in print as   House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal Reports, volume  1 (January 28, 1988-October 3, 1990) to present.  They will be available electronically at the Supreme Court E-Library and as a separate CD.


For Muslim law, the primary sources of Shariah are Quran, Sunnaqh, Ijma and Qiyas .  Jainal D. Razul in his book Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Muslin Law of the Philippines (1984) further stated there are new sources of Muslim law, which some jurists rejected such as Istihsan or juristic preference; Al-Masalih, Al Mursalah or public interest ; Istidlal (custom) and Istishab . (deduction based on continuity or permanence).


Classification of Legal Sources:


Classification by Authority:


“Authority is that which may be cited in support of an action, theory or hypothesis.” Primary Authority is the only authority that is binding on the courts. These are the two sources of law which includes the Constitution, legislative statutes or those passed by Congress, decisions of the Supreme Court , appellate courts, lower court and other quasi-judicial agencies, Executive issuances or Presidential issuances, treaties entered into by the Philippines, ordinances, rules and regulations of government agencies.  They are the actual law or those  promulgated by the  three branches of government: Legislative, Executive and Judiciary.


The legislature promulgates statutes, namely: Act, Commonwealth Act, Republic Act, and Batas Pambansa.  The Executive promulgates presidential issuances (Presidential Decrees, Executive Orders, Memorandum Circular, Administrative Orders, Proclamations, etc.), rules and regulations through its various departments, bureaus and agencies.  The Judiciary promulgates judicial doctrines embodied in decisions. 


We however need to clarify that the Presidential Decrees or law issued by President Ferdinand E. Marcos during Martial Law and Executive Orders issued by Aquino President Corazon C.  Aquino before the opening Congress in July 1987 can be classified as legislative-executive acts, there being no legislature during these two periods.


Primary Authority or sources may be further subdivided into the following:



It is in this regard that the collections of law libraries in the Philippines include United States court reports, West’s national reporter system, court reports of England and international tribunal, important reference materials such as the American Jurisprudence, Corpus Juris Secundum, Words and Phrases and different law dictionaries.  Some of these law libraries subscribe to the Westlaw and/or LexisNexis .   The Supreme Court, University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas and a number of prominent law libraries also have a Spanish collection where a great number of our laws originated.


Secondary authority or sources are commentaries or books, treatise, writings, journal articles that explain, discuss or comment on primary authorities. Also included in this category are the opinions of the Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission or circulars of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas . These materials are not binding on courts but they have persuasive effect and/or the degree of persuasiveness.  With regards to commentaries or books, treatise, writings, journal articles, the reputation or expertise of the author is a consideration.  Some of the authors of good reputation and  considered experts in the field  are Chief Justice Ramon C. Aquino and Justice Carolina Grino Aquino on Revised Penal Code or Criminal Law,  Senator Arturo M. Tolentino on Civil law,  Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando and Fr. Joaquin Bernas on Constitutional Law, Prof. Perfecto Fernandez on Labor Law, Vicente Francisco,  Chief Justice Manuel Moran on Remedial  Law, and Justice Vicente Abad Santos and Senator Jovito Salonga on International Law, etc.  A list of these materials by subject are found in GlobaLex  - Part 2: Philippine Legal Information Resources and Citations -  A.v Treatise/Annotations/Commentaries, etc.


Classification by Source:


It is important for legal research experts to know the source where the materials were taken from.  One has to determine whether they came from primary (official) sources or secondary (unofficial sources).  Primary and secondary sources for the sources of law are found in Part 2: Philippine Legal Information Resources and Citations -  A.v Treatise/Annotations/Commentaries, etc.


Primary sources are those published by the issuing agency itself or the official repository, the Official Gazette.  The Official Gazette online   was launched by the Office of the President in July 2010.  This online version is maintained and managed by the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Management Office. Thus, for Republic Acts and other legislative enactments or statutes, the primary sources are the Official Gazette published by the National Printing Office and the Laws and Resolutions published by Congress.  For Supreme Court decisions, the primary sources are the Philippine Reports , the individually mimeographed Advance Supreme Court decisions and the   Official Gazette .   Publication of Supreme Court decisions in the Official Gazette is selective.   The publication of the Philippine Reports by the National Printing Office ceased in 1960s.  It was only in 1983 when the publication of the Philippine Reports was revived by then Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando who requested then President Ferdinand E. Marcos to take charge of its publication with special appropriation in the Judiciary’s annual budget. However, when the Supreme Court took over the printing in 1983, the delay in printing covered more than twenty (20) years.  The last volume printed was volume 126 (June 1967). The Philippine Reports is up-to-date and almost complete from 1901.  The volumes  are  to be printed cover June 1991-December 1994.  Online, the Supreme Court E-Library is complete and updated as soon as the decisions have been certified by the Chief Justice.  The Supreme Court E-Library includes the citation of the Philippine Reports where each case is found whenever it is available.


The Secondary Sources are the unofficial sources and generally referred to as those commercially or institutionally published in print or online.  


Some of the Secondary sources of statutes are the Vital Legal Documents , published by the Central Book Supply, contains a compilation of Presidential Decrees (1973). The second edition contains Republic Acts. Prof. Sulpicio Guevara published three books, which contain s the full text of legislative enactments or laws namely:  a ). Public Laws Annotated (7 vols.), compilation of all laws from 1901 to 1935, b). Commonwealth Acts Annotated (3vos.), compilation of laws from 1935-1945 c).  The Laws of the First Philippine Republic (The Laws of Malolos) 1898-1899 .  For the Supreme Court decisions, Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA), a secondary source, published by the Central Book Supply is more updated and popular in the legal community than the Philippine Reports, the primary and official source.  The SCRA   was published because of the delay in the printing of the Philippines and the need of the Philippine legal profession for Supreme Court decision.  Citations in commentaries or books, treatise, writings, journal articles, pleading and even court decisions show SCRA’s popular acceptance. The general rule is that in the absence of a primary source, the secondary source may be cited.  This was the primary rationale for the SCRA’s popularity.  SCRA is now available online (including tablet and iPad) by subscription.  


With the advent of the new information technology, electronic or digitized sources are popular sources and effective sources of legal information for the following reasons:  a) no complete and updated legal information available; b) the search engines utilizing the electronic or digitized method facilitate research, and c) no complete and update manually published search tools for statute and case law.  These electronic sources started with CD ROMS and now online or electronic libraries.  The popular use of online/electronic libraries was due to the advent of the iPads, iPods, tablet and notebooks and internet with Wi-Fi connection.  Online access is either through Open access or subscription basis.   Open access for law is used for both the government and the private sector.    The Chan Robles Law Firm Library   and Arellano Law Foundation Lawphil   use open access in their electronic libraries, which contains the full-text of all sources of Philippine legal information, case law and statute law.  Chanrobles.com has also in its database the full text of United States decisions and materials on important legal events such as Impeachment proceedings, bar examinations.  Chan Robles conducts online bar review program.   


Official or government online source for full-text for all legal sources and related materials in the Official Gazette online , launched in July 2010.  It contains the issuances of all the executive departments, which are found also in the websites of the different executive departments.  They aim (as reflected in their website) to include the issuances of the legislative and the judiciary.   The Supreme Court E-Library   is an electronic library (online and CD Rom for decisions updated quarterly) for all Philippine legal information, case law and statute law.  Access however is limited to the Justices, judges and court attorneys of the Supreme Court and law schools (by request) through their law librarians.    Decisions and issuances of the Supreme Court and its Offices and the Appellate Courts are found in the Judiciary portal .  

CD Asia online contains full-text of Supreme Court decisions and statutes, available on a subscription basis.  Subscription may be made solely for court decisions or statutes or for both.  Central Books’    eSCRA   is another database which can be accessed online with the use of desktops, laptops, notebooks, and iPads.   Law Juan , iPad app is a new  source for full-text statutes and  Supreme Court decisions  available by subscription.


By using Google search, some of this legal information may be retrieved.  


The established policy is that in case of conflict between the printed and electronic sources, the printed version coming from the issuing government agency prevails. 


Legal research for statute law in the Philippines benefited remarkably from the use of the latest technology due to two major problems:  a) no complete and updated published or printed search tools  or law finders  for statute law and b) no complete compilation of statute law from 1901-present were available.  Problems of the publication of compilations of statute law or the existence of the full-text  of Presidential Decrees was that  brought  about to the Supreme Court in the Tanada v. Tuvera, G.R. No.  63915, April 24, 1985 (220 Phil 422), December 29, 1986 (146 SCRA 446)   case was resolved by the use of the latest technology. The Tanada v. Tuvera, case that was first decided before the bloodless revolution popularly known as People Power or the EDSA Revolution and modified in the December 29, 1986 or after the People Power or the EDSA Revolution resolved the publication requirement for the effectivity of laws as provided for in Section 2 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.    This was resolved by Executive Order No. 200, s. 1987 that provides that laws become effective fifteen (15) days after publication in the Official Gazette or in two newspapers of general circulation. 


 Still, to be resolved i s how to classify sources published in the newspapers.  Will   Executive Order No. 200, s. 1987, these resources as  primary and secondary source.  However, in case of conflict between those published in the newspapers and  the Official Gazette , the rule is following the Official Gazette.


The existence, availability and access to   local ordinances issued by the local governments in the Philippines remains a problem for the City of Manila is the one with a compilation.  However  all government agencies have started to use the latest technology in their operations and some of them are available online.


In finding the law, our ultimate goal is to locate mandatory primary authorities, which have bearing on the legal problem at hand.  If these authorities are scarce or nonexistent, our next alternative is to find any relevant persuasive mandatory authority.  If our search is still negative, the next alternative might be secondary authorities.  There are however instances where the secondary authorities, more particularly the commentaries made by experts of the field, take precedence over the persuasive mandatory authorities.  With the availability of both, using both sources is highly recommended.


Classification by Character:

This refers to the nature of the subject treated in books.  This classification categorizes books as: a) Statute Law Books, b) Case Law Books or Law Reports, c) a combination of both and d) “Law Finders.”


Law Finders refer to indexes, citators, encyclopedias, legal dictionaries, thesauri or digests. A major problem in the Philippines is that there are no up-to-date Law Finders.  Federico Moreno’s Philippine Law Dictionary , the only available Philippine law dictionary was last published in 1988, and, Jose Agaton Sibal’s Philippine Legal Thesaurus , which is likewise considered a dictionary, was published in 1986. Foreign law dictionaries like Blacks’ Law Dictionary, Words and Phrases are used as alternate. To search for legal information, legal researchers go online virtual libraries such as the Supreme Court E-Library , Chan Robles Virtual Library   Arellano’s lawphil , CD Asia online  and the different databases in CD-ROM format from CD Asia Technologies Asia Inc.  The databases developed by CD Asia include not only the compilation of Laws (statutes) and Jurisprudence, but also include a compilation of legal  information that are not available in printed form such as Opinions of the Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission and Bangko Sentral (Central Bank) rules and regulations.  Search engines used in these databases answer for the lack of complete and updated indexes of legal information.  In this regard, effective legal research can be conducted with one cardinal rule in mind:  "ALWAYS START FROM THE LATEST." The exception to this is when the research has defined or has provided a SPECIFIC period.


5.      Philippine Legal Research


5.1.   Research of Statute law

Statute laws are the rules and regulations promulgated by competent authorities; enactments of legislative bodies (national or local) or they may be rules and regulations of administrative (departments or bureau) or judicial agencies. Research of statutory law does not end with consulting the law itself.  At times, it extends to the intent of each provision or even the words used in the law. In this regard, the deliberations of these laws must be consulted. The deliberation of laws, except Presidential Decrees and other Martial law issuances are available.



The different Constitutions of the Philippines are provided in some history books such as Gregorio F. Zaide’s Philippine Constitutional History and Constitutions of Modern Nations (1970) and Founders of Freedom; The History of Three Constitution by a seven-man Board.  The Philippine legal system recognizes the following Constitutions:  Malolos, 1935, 1943,  1973, Provisional or Freedom and 1987 Constitutions.   The 1943 Constitution was effective only during the Second World War while the Provisional Constitution was effective only from the time President Corazon became President until the 1987 Constitution was ratified and proclaimed by President Aquino by virtue of Proclamation No. 58, February 11, 1987.


Majority of printed publications provide the 1935, 1973 and the 1987 Constitutions only. The  online sources ( E-library , Chan Robles , LawPhil , CD Asia , Law Juan ) however have the full-text  of  all  Constitutions of the Philippines: Malolos, 1935, 1943 of Japanese, 1973, Provisional or Freedom Constitution and 1987.  The  books of Senator Ambrosio Padilla ( The 1987 Constitutions of the Republic of the Philippines . vol. 3, pp779-863) and  Carmelo Sison  provide  a comparative presentation of the provisions of the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions.


Text of the Malolos Constitution is available in some history books such as Gregorio F. Zaide’s Philippine Constitutional History and Constitutions of Modern Nations , p. 176 (1970) and online. ( E-library , Chan Robles , CD Asia , Law Juan ). 


The Constitutional Convention proceedings provide for the intent and background of each provision of the Constitution.  Sources for the  1934-1935  Constitutional  Convention are: 10 volumes of the Constitutional Convention Record  by the House of Representatives (1966), Salvador Laurel's seven volumes book entitled Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention (1966); 6 volumes of the  Philippine Constitution, Origins, Making, Meaning and Application by the Philippine Lawyers Association with Jose Aruego as one of  its editors (1970) and Journal of  the Constitutional convention of the Philippines by Vicente Francisco.


Proceedings of the 1973 Constitutional Convention were never published.  A photocopy and softcopy of the complete compilation is available at the Filipiniana Reading Room of the National Library of the Philippines.


Journals (3 volumes) and Records (5 volumes) of the Constitutional Convention of 1986 were published by the Constitutional Commission.  This publication does not have an index. This problem was remedied when CD Technologies Asia Inc. came out with a CD-ROM version, which facilitated research for it has a search engine.


The proceedings and text of the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions are electronically  available at the Supreme Court E-Library.


Commentaries or interpretations on the constitution, decisions of the Supreme Court and other courts, textbooks or treaties, periodical articles of the different Constitution are available. (Part 2: Philippine Legal Information Resources and Citations -  A.v Treatise/Annotations/Commentaries, etc. A.v.10 Political Law


Treaties and other International Agreements:


A treaty is an agreement or a contract between two (bilateral) or more (multilateral) nations or sovereigns, entered into by agents appointed (generally the Secretary of Foreign Affairs or ambassadors) for the purpose and duly sanctioned by supreme powers of the respective countries.  Treaties that do not have legislative sanctions are executive agreements which may or may not have legislative authorization, and which have limited execution by constitutional restrictions.


In the Philippines, a treaty or international agreement shall not be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all members of the Senate (Constitution, Article VII, section 21).  Those without the concurrence of the Senate are considered as Executive Agreements.


The President of the Philippines may enter into international treaties or agreements as the national welfare and interest may require, and may contract and guarantee foreign loans on behalf of the Republic, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.  During the time of Pres. Marcos, there was the so-called Tripoli Agreement.


The official text of treaties is published in the Official Gazette, Department of Foreign Affairs Treaty Series (DFATS), United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS ) or the University of the Philippines Law Center's Philippine Treaty Series ( PTS).   To locate the latest treaties, there are two possible sources: Department of Foreign Affairs and the Senate of the Philippines.  There is no complete repository of all treaties entered into by the Philippines. There is a selective publication of treaties in the Official Gazette .  The DFATS was last published in the 1970s while the PTS's last volume, vol. 8 contains treaties entered into until 1981.With the UN Treaty Series, which used to be  available only in UN depository libraries in the country and its United Nation Information Center in Makati in now available online through the United Nations website . Electronically, major law libraries use the Treaties and International Agreements Researchers Archives (TIARA), WESTLAW , LEXIS , other online sources via the Internet.


A formal Memorandum of Agreement  (MOA) between the  Supreme Court and the Department of  Foreign Affairs  was signed at the Supreme Court  for the digitization of  full-text of  all the    treaties entered into by the Philippines from 1946-2010.  The MOA provided that the Department of Foreign Affairs will supply the official treaties and the Supreme Court   Library Services will produce the CD Rom version with search engine of the treaties.   CD-ROM   containing all these treaties   was launched last June 2010 at the Department of Foreign Affairs.  Online version is found in the Supreme Court E-Library .  Also launched last June 2010 was the Philippine Treaties Index 1946-2010 by the Foreign Service Institute.  


 For tax treaties, Eustaquio Ordoño has published a series on the Philippine tax treaties.  Other sources of important treaties are appended in books on the subject or law journals such as the American Journal of International Law or the Philippine Yearbook of International Law.


Statutes Proper:   


Legislative Enactments:


Statutes are enactments of the different legislative bodies since 1900 broken down as follows:



Republic Act No. 10650 is the “Act Expanding Access to Educational Services by the Institutionalizing Open Distance Learning in Levels of the Tertiary Education.


The above figures clearly show that during Martial Law, both President Marcos and the Batasang Pambansa (Parliament) were issuing laws at the same time - Presidential Decrees by President Marcos and Batas Pambansa by the Philippine Parliament. 


During Martial Law, aside from Presidential Decrees,  the President  promulgated other issuances namely: 57 General Orders, 1,525 Letters of Instruction, 2,489 Proclamations, 832 Memorandum Order, 1,297 Memorandum Circular, 157 Letter of Implementation, Letter of Authority, Letters of Instruction, 504 Administrative Order and  1,093 Executive Orders.  Complete compilation of Presidential Decrees and all Martial Issuances are available at  present in the Malacanang Records and Archives.  Efforts are being made by Malacanang to make them available through the Official Gazette online.


As previously stated, the Presidential Decrees issued by Pres. Marcos during Martial Law and the Executive Orders issued by Pres. Aquino before  the opening of  Congress may be classified as both executive and legislative acts for there was no legislature during those two periods.


Laws passed by the new 1987 Congress started from Rep. Act No. 6636, as the last Republic Act promulgated by Congress before Martial Law was Rep. Act No. 6635.


The following are the Philippine codes adopted from 1901 to present:




The Senate has prepared the entire legislature process  and has enumerated the types of legislation. This procedure is pursuant to the Constitution and recognized by both Houses of Congress.   The House of Representatives   has provided  a diagram of the procedure  on how a bill becomes a law.

SOURCE:  Congressional Library; House Printing Division, Administrative Support Bureau, July 1996.

Presidential Issuances


Administrative acts, orders and regulations of the President touching on the organization or mode of operation of the government, re-arranging or adjusting districts, divisions or parts of the Philippines, and acts and commands governing the general performance of duties of public officials and employees or disposing of issues of general concern are made effective by Executive Orders.  Those orders fixing the dates when specific laws, resolutions or orders cease to take effect and any information concerning matters of public moment determined by law, resolution or executive orders, take the form of executive Proclamation.


Executive Orders and Proclamations of the Governor-General were published annually in a set Executive Orders and Proclamations.  Thirty three (33) volumes were published until 1935 by the Bureau of Printing.  Administrative Acts and Orders of the President and Proclamations were published. Only a few libraries in the Philippines have these publications for a majority of them was destroyed during World War II.  There are copies available at the Law Library of Congress, Cincinnati Law Library Association (who offered to donate them to the Supreme Court of the Philippines) and some at the Library of the Institute of South East Asian Studies in Singapore.


In researching for Proclamations, Administrative Orders, Executive Orders and Memorandum Orders & Circulars of the President, the year it was promulgated is a must or needed.  If no year is available, the President and/or the Executive Secretary  issuing it must be stated. As a new President is sworn in, all the Presidential issuances start with No. 1.  The only exception was Executive Orders issued by President Carlos Garcia after he assumed the Presidency because President Magsaysay died in a plane crash.  He continued the number started by President Magsaysay. When President Garcia was elected President, he started his Executive Order No. 1.


To look for the intent of Republic Acts, we have to go through the printed Journals and Records of both houses of Congress, which contain their deliberation. To facilitate the search, the House Bill No. or Senate Bill No. or both found on the upper left portion of the first page of the law is important. The problem for this research is the availability of the complete printed Journals and Records of both houses of Congress. The solution to this problem is the Archives of  the House of Representatives and the Senate.  For the  recent laws, the deliberations  are available online from the websites of the the House of Representatives   and the Philippine Senate . The Batasang Pambansa has likewise published it proceedings.  There are no available proceedings for the other laws Acts, Commonwealth Act and Presidential Decrees.


Administrative Rules and Regulations:


Administrative Rules and regulations are orders, rules and regulations issued by the heads of Departments, Bureau and other agencies of the government for the effective enforcement of laws within their jurisdiction.  However, in order that such rules and regulations may be valid, they must be within the authorized limits and jurisdiction of the office issuing them and in accordance with the provisions of the law authorizing their issuance.    Access to administrative rules and regulations have been facilitated due to the two developments:  a) government agencies, including government owned and controlled corporations, have their own websites and at the Official Gazette and Official Gazette online where they include the full-text of their issuances, and b) the National Administrative Register, which is available in print, CD-Rom and in the Supreme Court website.


In handling these types of materials, there are two important items needed: a.) Issuing Agency and b.) Year it was promulgated.  This is due to the fact that all Departments, Bureaus, and other government agencies use the administrative orders, memorandum orders and memorandum circulars for their administrative rules and regulations and they start always with number 1 every year. Even the Supreme Court issues Administrative Orders, Circulars, Memorandum Orders, and Administrative Matters.

 Before the Administrative Code of 1987, these orders, rules and regulations were selectively published in the Official Gazette .  Thus, the only source to be able to get a copy of the text of these rules and regulations is the issuing government agency itself. 


When the 1987 Administrative Code (Executive Order No. 292) was promulgated, all government agencies including government owned and controlled corporations are mandated to file three (3) certified  copies of their orders, rules and regulations  with the University of the Philippines Law Center's Office of National Administrative Register which in turn is required to publish quarterly the publication called National Administrative Register . Aside from the printed copies, the National Administrative Register is available electronically on CD-ROM (CD Asia Technologies Inc.)  and online at the Supreme Court E-Library .  Rules in force on the date on which the Code took effect, which are not filed within three months from the date not thereafter, shall be the basis of any sanction against any person or party.  Each rule becomes effective 15 days after the filing, unless a different date is fixed by law or specified in the rule, such as in cases of imminent danger to public health, safety and welfare, the existence of which must be expressed in a statement accompanying the rule.  The court shall take judicial notice of the certified copy of each rule duly filed or as published in the bulletin or codified rules.


University of the Philippines Law Center’s Office of National Administrative  Register is not only tasked to publish this quarterly register but must keep an up-to-date codification of all rules thus published and remaining in effect together with a complete index and appropriate tables.  Every rule establishing an offense or defining an act, which pursuant to law is punishable as a crime or subject to a penalty, shall in all cases be published in full text.  Exceptions to the “filing requirement" are Congress, Judiciary, Constitutional Commission, military establishments in all matters relative to Armed Forces personnel, the Board of Pardons and Parole and state universities and colleges. With the use of the latest technology, majority of government agencies including government owned and controlled corporations maintain their own websites and have incorporation laws and legislations relevant to their agencies. These developments have facilitated research for administrative rules and regulations.


As previously stated, there are no up-to-date or complete Statutes finders.  As previously stated, to facilitate legal research, one has to go online to virtual libraries.  The primary source for statutes is:  Supreme Court E-Library and the Official Gazette and Official Gazette online .  The secondary sources area:  Chan Robles Virtual Law Library , Arellano Law Foundation’s The Lawphil Project , and CD Asia Technologies online and or  CD ROM.  Law Juan iPad app (Law) contains  only full-text legislative enactments from 1901,  Rules of Court  and  all the Philippine Constitutions.


5.2.   Research of Case Law


SOURCE: 2002 Revised Manual of Clerks of Court . Manila, Supreme Court, 2002. Organizational Chart was amended due to the passage of Republic Act No. 9282 (CTA)


Case Law or Judicial decisions are official interpretations or manifestation of law made by persons and agencies of the government performing judicial and quasi-judicial functions.  At the apex of the Philippine Judicial System is the Supreme Court, or what is referred to as court of last resort.  The reorganization of the Judiciary of 1980 (Batas Pambansa Bldg. 129) established the following courts:



The Shariah (Sharia’a ) Circuit and District Courts (Presidential Decree No. 1083), Court of Tax Appeals (Republic Act No. 1125) and the Sandiganbayan (Presidential Decree Nos.  1486 and 1606), sec. 4, Art XI of the 1987 Constitution were created by separate laws.


Conventional decisions are decisions or rulings made by regularly constituted court of justice.  Subordinate decisions are those made by administrative agencies performing quasi-judicial functions.

One major problem in conducting research on case law is the availability of published or printed decisions from the Court of Appeals to the rest of the judicial and quasi-judicial agencies.  The Judicial Reform Program of the Supreme Court  funded by the World Bank started to address this problem  with the establishment of the Supreme Court E-Library aims to address this problem and also those from statute law and the digitization of the decisions  of the Supreme Court, and the appellate: Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan and the Court of Tax Appeals. Digitization of the Appellate Courts  have started and are available online from the most recent and will continue until all their first decision from their creation  will be completed. The Reporters Office of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals keep all the original and complete copies of the court decisions.  By original, this means that the keep the decisions with the “original” signatures of the justices of the Supreme court and Court of Appeals.  For the rest of the  Judiciary or the quasi-judicial agencies, copies of their decisions may be taken from the Legal Office, Office of the Clerks of Court, Records Office or their libraries.  There are no available printed compilations of lower courts decisions.  For those of the Appellate Court, the Court of Appeals has until 1980s only and while the Sandiganbayan has only one volume.  For the Court of Tax Appeals, the compilation is only from 1980 to present in the CD Asia CD for taxation. The details are in Part 2: Philippine Legal Information Resources and Citations . A.iv Case Law/ Jurisprudence


Supreme Court Decisions:

Decisions of the Supreme Court are highest source of  jurisprudence,  source of law.  It is the judgment of this court interprets the law and/or determines whether a law is constitutional or not.  Unconstitutional laws even though it is signed by the President and passed by both house of congress cannot take effect in the Philippines.


Decisions of the Supreme Court are classified as follows:


"Regular decisions" and extended Resolutions are published in court reports either in primary or secondary sources.  These decisions provide the justice who penned the decision or ponente and the other justices responsible for promulgating the decision, whether En Banc or by Division.  Separate dissenting and/or concurring opinions are likewise published with the main decision.  These regular and extended resolutions are available electronically in the Supreme Court website under Decisions and the Supreme Court E-Library  under Decisions.


Unsigned Minute Resolutions are not published.  Although they bear the same force   and effect as the regular decisions or extended resolutions,  they are  issued and signed  by the respective Clerks of Court En Banc or by any of the three (3) Division s and signed by their respective Clerks of Court.  Since these Minutes Resolutions are not published, the Supreme Court has now incorporated these  Minute Resolutions, more particularly  those  that resolve a motion for reconsideration or those that explain or affirm a decision; and (2) Administrative Matters in the Supreme Court E-Library , under RESOLUTIONS.


Recently, the Supreme Court website has included these decisions.  The   Chanrobles has included Minutes Resolution in its website.


Case Reports in the Philippines such as the Philippine Reports, Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA) , and the Supreme Court Advance Decisions (SCAD) come in bound volumes which generally cover a month per volume.  The  Supreme Court Advance Decisions (SCAD)   has been discontinued. The Official Gazette,   Philippine Reports and the Advance Sheets  are the primary source or official repositories of decisions and extended resolutions of the Supreme Court.  The Advance Sheets are decisions in “reproduced form” or “photocopied “ copy of the actual  original decision which contains the full text, the signatures of the justices and the certification of the Chief Justice. The original decisions  are those which the actual signatures is deposited in the Reporters Office of the Supreme Court.   The Advance Sheets was made available as soon as a decision is issuance.   This  was however discontinued  because decisions of the Supreme Court are now available almost immediately upon issuance at the Supreme Court website . The Official Gazette,   Philippine Reports  are the other primary source for Supreme Court  decisions. The difference between the two lies in the fact that the Official Gazette selective compilation  while Philippine Reports contains the complete compilation  decisions of the Supreme Court.  Original decisions with original signature of the Justices of the Supreme Court are found in the Office of the Reporter of the Supreme Court. 


 There were unpublished decisions of the Supreme Court  from 1901 until 1960.  The list and subject field are found at the back of some  volumes of the Philippine Reports .   Some of these decisions are cited in treatises or annotations.  In view of the importance of these decisions,  the Supreme Court E-Library started  to collect these unpublished decisions and include them in its database.


The availability of some of the unpublished decisions before World War II is a problem for a number of the original decisions have been burned. So, there is no complete compilation of the original decisions of the Supreme Court.  This problem is being addressed  by the Supreme Court E-Library where are great number of these unpublished decisions of the Supreme Court before the war were retrieved from different sources such as the  United States National Archives in Maryland, private collection of former  Supreme Court Justices such as Chief Justice Ramon Avancena and Justice George Malcolm (collection is found in the University of Michigan) and private law libraries who were able to save some of their collection such as the University of Santo Tomas, the oldest university in the Philippines. Search for the unpublished decisions still continues. 


The unpublished decisions after the War, the late Judge Nitafan of the Regional Trial Court of Manila started publishing   Supreme Court Unpublished Decision s ; vol. 1 covers decisions from March 1946 to February 1952.  However only two volumes were published due to Judge Nitafan’s untimely death.  The Office of the Reporter of the Supreme Court has these unpublished decisions.


The early volumes, particularly those before the war were originally published in Spanish in the Jurisprudencia Filipina . They were translated in English to become the Philippine Reports .  Some decisions after the second Philippine independence were still in the Spanish language.  There are a number of decisions now in the Filipino language. The Philippine Reports until volume 126 (1960's) was published by the Bureau of Printing, now called the National Printing Office. Printing was transferred to the Supreme Court in the 1980s due to the need for a complete official publication of the Court’s decision. The Supreme Court’s Philippine Reports started with volume 127.


 The most popular secondary source is the Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA ) and eSCRA and the Lex Libris Jurisprudence CD ROM and CD Asia Online .   The online and CD versions are on  subscription basis while the printed SCRA may  be purchased per volume.  Two new  sources on subscription basis are:  a) My Legal Whiz ;  Easy Contextual Legal Research and    Law Juan decisions, iPad app.


How can we search for Supreme Court decisions manually?


Topic or Subject Approach: (Please See Complete title of the publication from the Philippine Legal Bibliography chapter)



Manual approach is not possible in majority of law libraries for the above sources enumerated are no longer available.  For those who have these sources, the problem is the availability of updated indexes.  Only the SCRA Quick Index Digest is updated.  It is however delayed by about one year for they have to wait for the last volume of the SCRA for the year before they could come up with the SCRA Quick Index Digest.     In the Title Approach, the latest is M. Ong Title Index to SC decisions, 2 nd supplement 1981-1985. The updated Title Index is available at the Supreme Court Library portal but is not yet available online.  Title search made be made through the Lex Libris:   Jurisprudence online.


Electronic application is the source for effective legal research. These sources are as follows:



Court of Appeals decisions:


Decisions of the Court of Appeals are merely persuasive on lower courts.  They are cited in cases where there are no Supreme Court decisions in point.   In this regard, they are considered as judicial guides to lower courts and that conclusion or pronouncement they make can be raised as a doctrine.  The Clerk of Court of the Court of Appeals is the repository of all of the Court of Appeals decisions.


Sources of Court of Appeals decisions are:




Subject or Topic Approach:


Decisions of Special Courts:

Sandiganbayan and the Court of Tax Appeals do not have published decisions.  The Sandiganbayan has only one volume published; Sandiganbayan Reports vol. 1 covers decisions promulgated from December 1979 to 1980.  Sandiganbayan decisions are now being made available online starting from the latest to its first decision. The Legal Office of the Sandiganbayan is the repository of  all of its decisions.


Court of Tax Appeals decisions from 1980 to 2004 are found in the Lex Libris particularly in Taxation CD ROM.  Court of Tax decisions are now being complete online starting from the latest to its first decision.


Decisions of Administrative Agencies, Commissions and Boards:

Laws have been promulgated which grants some administrative agencies to perform quasi-judicial functions. These functions are distinct from their regular administrative or regulatory functions where rules and regulations are promulgated. The Securities Regulations Code (Republic Act No. 8799) signed by President Joseph E.  Estrada on July 19, 2000 affects Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) quasi-judicial functions. The other agencies performing said functions are National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), Insurance Commission, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System (SSS) and even the Civil Service Commission (CSC).  Some of their decisions are published in the Official Gazette.  Some have their own publication such as the SEC and the CSC or some include them in their own websites.  An important source is the National Administrative Register which is available in printed and CR ROM (CD Asia) and the Supreme Court E-Library.  The 1987 Administrative Code required that all government including all government owned and controlled corporations must provide the UP. Law Center with three certified copies (3) of their rules and regulations.  In turn the UP. Law Center is required to publish them.  This is done in the National Administrative Register .


CD Asia Technologies’ Lex Libris series has individual CD ROMs  for the Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines), and the Bureau of Internal Revenue.  Included in these individual CD ROMs are the pertinent laws, their respective issuances as well as Supreme Court decisions.   It CD ROM on Labor (vol. VII) incorporated issuances from the Department of Labor and Employment and its affiliated agencies and offices.  The Trade, Commerce and Industry CD ROM includes  Supreme Court decisions, laws and issuances of its various agencies such as the Department of Trade and Industry, Board of Investments, Bureau of  Customs, B angko Sentral and the Philippine Stock Exchange.


6.     Legal Profession and Legal Education


Republic Act No.  7662, otherwise known as the Legal Education Reform Act of 1993 created the Legal Education Board, was approved on December 23, 1993 The Board shall be composed of a Chairman who shall preferably be a former justice of the Supreme Court of Court of Appeals and regular members composed of:  a representative of each of the following: Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS), Philippine Association of Law Professors (PALP), ranks of active law practitioners and law students’ sector. The Legal Education has replaced the  Commission on Higher Education for legal education. Its primary functions are:


The 1987 Constitution  however provides  under Article VIII, sec. 5(5) that it is the  Supreme Court who has the power to promulgate rules concerning the admission  to practice the law.   The Supreme Court has promulgated the Rules of Court, Rule 138  as to the admission of the bar.  To be admitted to the bar, there are three requirements:



The lists of lawyers who are allowed to practice are found in the Rolls of Attorneys of the Supreme Court and the publication of the Court entitled, Law List . The online version of the Law List, available in the Supreme Court and Supreme E-Library , includes the annual lists of additional members of the bar.


Applicants for the annual bar examination must have the following (Rules of Court, Rule 138, sec. 2):


Academic requirements to qualify to take the bar examinations are provided in Rules of Court,  Rule 138,  section 5 and section 6. 


Section 5 provides that  the applicant should have studied law for four years and have successfully completed all the prescribed courses.  This section was amended by Bar Matter No. 1153,  March 9, 2010 which provides  “that they have successfully completed all the prescribed courses for the degree of Bachelor of Laws or its equivalent, in a  law school or university officially recognized by the Philippine Government or by the proper authority in foreign jurisdiction where the degree has been granted.”   Bar Matter No. 1153 further provides that a Filipino citizen who graduated from a foreign law school shall be allowed to take the bar only upon the submission to the Supreme Court the required certifications.


Section 6 provides the Pre-Law requirement which is a four year high school course and a bachelor’s degree in arts or science. This section will be however affected by Republic Act No. 10533 – Enhanced Basic Education of 2013 which provides a K to 12 Program which covers  Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School.


The Schedule of subjects for the four Sundays of the month is as follows:


First Sunday: A.M. Political and  International  Law (15%), P.M. Labor Law and Social Legislation (10%);

Second Sunday: A.M. Civil law (15%), P.M. Taxation (10%);

Third Sunday: A.M. Mercantile Law (15%), P.M. Criminal Law (10%);

Fourth Sunday: A.M. Remedial Law  (20%), P.M. Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises (5%).


The Rules of Court, Rule 138, section 16 provides that those who fail the bar examinations for three or more times must take a refresher course.  The Legal Education Board has listed the following 88 accredited law schools who can conduct refresher courses for 2014-2015:



Reforms in the Bar Examinations (Bar Matter No. 1161) was adopted  in June 2004  and effective July 15, 2004, 15 days after it was published in the Manila Bulletin and the Philippine Star (June 21, 2004). In 2011, new reforms were made as to its coverage and the application of Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) exam and Essay-Type exams.  The date of the Bar examination was moved to the four (4) Sundays of November.


Special Bar Exams for Shari’a Court lawyers is provided for by virtue of the Court En Banc Resolution dated September 20, 1983. The exam is given every two years.  Although the exam is conducted by the Supreme Court Office of the Bar Conidant, it is the Office of Muslim Affairs who certifies as to who are qualified to take the exam. Candidates to the Sharia’ bar do not need to be degree holder of Bachelor of laws. Those who have passed the Sharia’ bar or the Sharia lawyers are not considered as full-fledged members of the Philippine bar for they are authorized to practice only in Sharia courts. 


All attorneys whose names are in the Rolls of Attorneys of the Supreme Court who have qualified for and have passed the bar examinations conducted annually, taken the attorney’s oath, unless otherwise disbarred must be a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.   Bar Matter No. 850 was promulgated by the Resolution of the Supreme Court En Banc on August 22, 2000, as amended on October 2, 2001, providing for the rules on Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) for Active Members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). The members of the IBP have to complete every three (3) years at least thirty six (36) hours of continuing legal activities approved by the MCLE Committee.  An IBP member who fails to comply with the said requirement shall pay a non-compliance fee and shall be listed as a delinquent member of the IBP.  A Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Office to implement said MCLE was established by the Supreme Court by virtue of SC Administrative Order No. 113-2003 which was approved on  August 15, 2005 and effective September 1, 2003 following its publication in two newspapers of general circulation.    Under the Resolution of the Court en Banc dated September 2, 2008 (Bar Matter No. 1922), the counsel’s MCLE Certificate of Compliance must be indicated in all pleadings filed with the Courts.


The Supreme Court has the power to discipline the members of the bar by disbarment or suspension  based on the grounds  provided in the Rules of Court, Rule 138, sec. 27.  Rule 139-B provides that the “proceedings for disbarment, suspension or discipline may be  taken by the Supreme Court motu proprio or by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines upon the verified complaint of a person.”  “ The IBP Board of Governors may, motu proprio or upon referral by the Supreme Court or by a Chapter Board of Officers, or at the instance of any person, initiate of any prosecute proper charges against erring attorneys including those in government service.”


6.1.   Law Schools

The Office of the Bar Confidant of the Supreme Court as of July 2014 has listed the  following  law schools in the Philippines which have produced bar candidates:



The above list from the Office of the Bar Confidant does not include newly organized law schools and/or law schools who  do not have  any graduate to qualify for the annual bar examination.  They however have received accreditation from the Legal Education Board.  These additional  law schools are as follows:



The laws schools with asterisk (*) before the name of the law school are the accredited law school or schools offering Legal Education as of October 2014.


The following educational Association and/or Organizations:


6.2.   Bar Associations


Integrated Bar of the Philippines :

The official organization for the legal profession is the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), established by virtue of Republic Act No. 6397.  This confirmed the power of the Supreme Court to adopt rules for the integration of the Philippine Bar.  Presidential Decree 181 (1973) constituted the IBP into a corporate body.


There are now about 50,000 attorneys who composed the IBP.  These are the attorneys whose names are in the Rolls of Attorneys of the Supreme Court who have qualified for and have passed the bar examinations conducted annually, taken the attorney’s oath, unless otherwise disbarred.  Membership in the IBP is compulsory.  The Supreme Court in its resolution Court En Banc dated November 12, 2002 (Bar Matter No. 1132) and amended by resolution Court En Banc dated April 1, 2003 (Bar Matter No. 112-2002) require all lawyers to indicate their Roll of Attorneys Number in all papers and pleadings filed in judicial and quasi-judicial bodies in additional to the previously required current Professional Tax Receipt (PTR) and IBP Official Receipt or Life Member Number.


Other Bar Associations:


Philippine Bar Association   is the oldest voluntary national organization of lawyers in the Philippines which traces its roots to the Colegio de Abogados de Filipinas organized on April 8, 1891. It was formally incorporated as a direct successor of the Colegio de Abogados de Filipinas on March 27, 1958.

 The other voluntary bar associations are the Philippine Lawyers Association, Trial Lawyers Association of the Philippines, Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, PHILCONSA,  All Asia Association, Catholic Lawyers Guild of the Philippines, Society of International Law, WILOCI, Women Lawyers Association of the Philippines (WLAP), FIDA . The Philippines is also a member of international law associations such as the ASEAN Law Association , and LAWASIA.


7.      Law Librarians Association

The Philippine Group of Law Librarians Inc. (PGLL ) is a national   organization of law librarians from both the government and the private sector organized  August 1980 during the 46 th General Congress of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).   Now on  35 th year, the PGLL  aims to develop the competencies of law librarians in  legal research, management, the information technology  and other fields  though it congresses, fora and seminars for  improved library services.  The PGLL is sensitive to the latest development in the law library field and has adopted measures conform to these developments.  ASEAN integration is the latest development in the Asean countries and the PGLL is preparing for it.   In 2014, it started its study tour to notable law libraries in Asia, starting  with Malaysia.  Other members have observed the law libraries of Singapore and other Asian countries.  In 2015, it will conduct a National Congress on “Developing the Level of Competencies of Librarians and Information Professionals Towards Asean Integration” to be held on   May 6-8, 2015 wherein the law librarian of  model law library is Asia is invited.


The Association of Special Libraries of the Philippines (ASLP) is a national organization of special libraries, including law was organized in 1954.  Through this association, law librarians can improve their networking and competencies in other disciplines related to law.