PART II: Philippine Legal Information Resources and Citations

Milagros Santos-Ongwas the Director of the Library Services of the Supreme Court of the Philippines before she retired in 2017. She is the author of Legal Research and Citations (Rex Book), a seminal book published in numerous editions, the latest of which is 2018 and a part-time professor on Legal Research in several law schools in Metro Manila.

Published January/February 2020

(Previously updated in June 2009, March 2012, and March 2015)

See Part I

1. Introduction

The Philippine Legal System is a unique blend of civil law (Roman), common law (Anglo-American), Muslim (Islamic) and indigenous law. Laws and jurisprudence since the first Philippine Republic are applicable until they are repealed or superseded. The increasing numbers of laws and jurisprudence are found in books (reference materials, treatises, commentaries and annotations) and electronic resources. In the Philippines, access to legal information and materials and where they be obtained is difficult due to the following.

First, there is no complete and up to date (or the latest) printed laws and jurisprudence (case law), whether it be primary sources (by the Philippine National/Government Printing Office) or secondary sources (by commercial or private institutions). Philippine Reports (compilation of Supreme Court decision) from 1901 until 1961 are out of print. The printing of the updates by the Government Printing Office was so slow and to remedy this problem, in 1983 the Chief Justice requested the President to transfer to the Supreme Court printing and publication of this primary source. On the other hand, for laws, Executive Order No. 200 s. 1986 was promulgated by President Corazon C. Aquino on June 18, 1987.

This Executive Order amended Article 2 of the Civil Code, which provides that “laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette.” With Executive Order No. 200, “Laws shall take effect fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of General Circulation.” All legislative enactments or Republic Acts are still published in the Official Gazette to make it a primary source.

For complete compilation laws from 1898 to 1987, there are a few law libraries in the country. The complete compilation of the Official Gazette where all laws must be published as required by the Philippine Civil Code for laws to be effective is available only in microfilm.

Second, there are no complete search tools for laws and jurisprudence such as indexes, digests, etc.

The remedy to the above problems is the use of the latest technology. Government agencies including government owned and controlled corporations have their own websites where they upload their rules and regulations to be accessible even worldwide. Online sources have been developed by both government and the private sector to provide access to the increasing Philippine legal information. These online sources are discussed in

Sections 2 through 5 list updated bibliographies of leading sources of law from Philippines. The list is organized by subject with additional sub-categories for each subject. The list focuses on more recent publications (2015 on), while older publications are part of and can be accessed by clicking one of the previous versions of Part II. See links above in the publication statement.

2. Books and Other Published Legal Materials

The books and electronic sources are regularly updated. The update for 2019 will include books published from 2015 to present. For older editions of Reference Materials, Form Books, Statutory and Jurisprudence and books by subject, the 2015 Archive edition can be used.

2.1. Dictionaries


2.2. Statutory Law Books – Electronic Compilation

Administrative Rules and Regulations

Administrative agencies and other government instrumentalities have their own regulations and regulations which are generally not published. To get the latest text of these regulations, one has to go to the specific government agencies now available through their websites or through the link of the Official Gazette online. The following are alternate sources:

International Treaties

Case Law/Jurisprudence

Case/Court Reports – Printed Compilation

Case/Court Reports – Electronic Compilation

2.3. Treatises, Annotations, Commentaries and Other Publications by Subject

2.3.1. Civil Law

Bar Reviewers on Civil Law

Law on Conflicts of Law

Credit Transactions

Land Titles and Deeds

Agrarian Reform

Natural Resources

Obligations and Contracts


Persons and Family Relations




Torts and Damages

2.3.2. Commercial Law




Negotiable Instruments


2.3.3. Criminal Law


Dangerous Drugs

Sexual Violence, Juvenile Delinquency

2.3.4. Environmental Law

2.3.5. Labor Law

2.3.6. Legal and Judicial Ethics

2.3.7. Legal Education

Bar Examination

2.3.8. Legal Philosophy

2.3.9. Legal Research and Writing

2.3.10. Political Law

Administrative Law

Citizenship and Immigration Laws

Election Law

2.3.11. Local Government

2.3.12. International Law

2.3.13. Civil Procedure

2.3.14. Criminal Procedure

2.3.15. Evidence

2.3.16. Special Proceedings

2.3.17. Other Procedural Topics

Alternative Dispute Resolution/Mediation

Appeals, Certiorari, etc.

2.3.18. Statutory Construction

2.3.19. Taxation

Income Taxation

Tariff and Customs Code

2.3.20. Trial Technique and Practice

3. Philippine Electronic Sources

3.1. Philippine Online Sources

All government offices including government owned and controlled corporations now have their own websites wherein all their issuances, rules and regulations are uploaded. However, majority of them do not have their own search engines. Those in search for their issuances have to know the specific issuance, number and date. The following is a list of a variety of sources one can utilize.

Supreme Court E-Library: The E-Library aims to be the primary research tool in the speedy delivery of justice. It serves the entire judiciary – Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Sandigabayan, Court of Tax Appeals, and the lower courts. This E-Library will eventually be opened to those outside the judiciary. It includes all the sources of law, and all Philippine legal materials digitized from primary sources as reflected in its directory:

Supreme Court website: The Supreme Court website includes decisions of the Supreme Court from 1996 to present arranged by month for every year and the petitions, oral arguments, audio recording and advisories of landmark decisions like those previously mentioned. Further, the Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals and Sandiganbayan have their websites and each includes their decisions, and internal rules.

Executive Department website: This website has been modified under the present President. It is now divided into two websites: and the

Congress websites: Each House maintains its separate website. This is important in legal research especially when one searches for the intent of the law and the proceedings of the different Committees of each House.

Some Law Offices have online resources accessible to the public such as:

Some Law Schools also offer legal information on their websites:

Commercial Subscriptions are also available:

3.2. CD-ROMS

The Philippine Law Library contains compilation of full text materials further subdivided as follows:

4. Philippine Legal Publishers

Institutional Publishers

Commercial Publishers

5. Philippine Legal Citations

Considering all the sources of Philippine legal information from the 1900s to present, uniform standard of Philippine citation is needed for clarity and consistency. Each individual has his own style and preference in legal research and writing. There are available manuals of legal citation as a guide in citing Philippinelegal information namely:

The legal citation provided below considers the complexity of Philippine legal information and a standard to conform to both international and Philippine citations. Please see, Santos-Ong, Milagros. Legal Research and Citations in the Philippines. Manila: Rex Book Store (2013) page 80.

Constitution: Cited by reference to the article, section and the paragraph. The year is placed in parenthesis when the Constitution is no longer in force. For example:

Other legal citations provide that when the current law is cited, the date is not included. Taking into consideration the number of times the Philippine Constitution was revised; it is important to include the date. At present, there is a move to revised again the Philippine Constitution either through a Constitutional Convention (Con-Com) or a Constitutional Assembly (Con-Ass).

Statutes: Laws passed by the Legislative Department from 101 to present are cited as follows:

Citation of Statutes by Publication Source:

Treaties: This includes treaties entered into by the Philippines whether it be bilateral or multilateral. Cited by the name of the treaty and the date when the treaty was signed. For example:

Executive/Presidential Issuances: Presidential issuances are cited by the number of the issuance and followed by the date of issuance. The date is important for each year, the number starts with the first number (No. 1).

Special Presidential Issuances under Martial law as follows:

Administrative Rules and Regulations: Government offices and agencies promulgate their own rules and regulations. They are cited by the abbreviation of the name of each agency, followed by the name of the specific rule or regulation. It is important to indicate the year in parenthesis for each year, the number of the rules and regulations start with the first number (No.1). For example:

Abbreviations as to the names of the Different Government Agencies are through the Acronyms of the Agencies, which is also reflected on their website address.

Name of Agency


Department of Agrarian Reform


Department of Agriculture


Department of Budget and Management


Department of Education


Department of Energy


Department of Environment and Natural Resources


Department of Finance


Department of Foreign Affairs


Department of Health


Department of Interior and Local Government


Department of Information and Communications Technology


Department of Justice


Department of Labor and Employment


Department of National Defense


Department of Public Works and Highways


Department of Science and Technology


Department of Tourism


Department of Trade and Industry


Department of Social Welfare and Development


Department of Transportation


Civil Service Commission


Commission on Elections


Commission on Audit


Commission on Human Rights


Office of the Solicitor General



Ordinances: The laws passed by the city, municipal or provincial government (local government) are in the form of ordinances. They are cited by providing the name of the city, municipality or the province, followed by the ordinance number and the date. For example:

Court Rules: The Rules of Court is cited like any ordinary code by its name, followed by the rule number and section. For example:

Jurisprudence - Court Decisions: The Supreme Court through the proposal of the Committee of Revision of Rules Courts amended the Rules of Court by subject, such as Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, Evidence, and Special Proceedings. They are now cited by said amendments as follows:

Court decisions from the Supreme Court down to the lower courts can be identified through their case number and are cited as follows:

For all decisions of the Supreme Court, a specific G.R. No or General Register No. is assigned. Each case is cited with a G.R. No. The L (G.R. No. L) after the word No. In some decisions represents those decision after the war or L is for Liberation. This will differentiate those that were decided before the war and those decided after.

There is no printed compilation for Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals and lower court decisions. The full text of important decisions is found in the internet like the decision of the Sandiganbayan against former President Joseph Estrada.

The citation of Court decisions depends upon whether the printed court reports are a primary or a secondary source. Those found in primary sources such as the Philippine Reports or the Official Gazette are cited by the family name of the parties, the volume number, Court Report title, page of the court report, and the year of promulgation in parenthesis. For example:

Those found in secondary sources such as the Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA) are cited by family name of the parties, case no. (G.R. No.), date of promulgation, volume number of the court reports and page. For example:

The case names are cited using the surnames of the parties. Exception to the general rule of using family names are Islamic, Chinese names, which are cited in full. Those with Christian first names follow the general rule. For example:

When the party is a company, agency corporation, etc., the complete name must be included. For example:

When the party is the Government of the Philippines, the court decisions are cited as follows:

In criminal cases wherein the case if filed for the People of the Philippines, it is cited as: People v. ______, date of promulgation, Source

Citation of Electronic Sources

Administrative decisions: Cited by the name of the agency (abbreviated form), case number and date of promulgation. For example: