Philippine legal codes

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Codification of laws is a common practice in the Philippines. Many general areas of substantive law, such as criminal law, civil law and labor law are governed by legal codes.

Tradition of codification

Codification is predominant in countries that adhere to the legal system of civil law. Spain, a civil law country, introduced the practice of codification in the Philippines, which it had colonized beginning in the late 16th century. Among the codes that Spain enforced in the Philippines were the Spanish Civil Code and the Penal Code.

The practice of codification was retained during the period of American Occupation of the Philippine Islands, even though the United States was a common law jurisdiction. However, during that same period, many common law principles found their way into the legal system by way of legislation and by judicial pronouncements. Judicial precedents of the Philippine Supreme Court were accepted as binding, a practice more attuned to common law jurisdictions. Eventually, the Philippine legal system emerged in such a way that while the practice of codification remained popular, the courts were not barred from invoking principles developed under the common law,[1] or from employing methods of statutory construction in order to arrive at an interpretation of the codal provisions that would be binding in itself in Philippine law.[2]

Beginning in the American Occupation, there was an effort to revise the Spanish codes that had remained in force even after the end of Spanish rule. A new Revised Penal Code was enacted in 1930, while a new Civil Code took effect in 1950.

Codes in relation to Republic Acts

Since the formation of local legislative bodies in the Philippines, Philippine legal codes have been enacted by the legislature, in the exercise of its powers of legislation. Since 1946, the laws passed by the Congress, including legal codes, have been titled Republic Acts.[3]

While Philippine legal codes are, strictly speaking, also Republic Acts, they may be differentiated in that the former represents a more comprehensive effort in embodying all aspects of a general area of law into just one legislative act. In contrast, Republic Acts are generally less expansive and more specific in scope. Thus, while the Civil Code seeks to govern all aspects of private law in the Philippines, a Republic Act such as Republic Act No. 9048 would concern itself with a more limited field, as in that case, the correction of entries in the civil registry.

Still, the amendment of Philippine legal codes is accomplished through the passage of Republic Acts. Republic Acts have also been utilized to enact legislation on areas where the legal codes have proven insufficient. For example, while the possession of narcotics had been penalized under the 1930s Revised Penal Code, the wider attention drawn to illegal drugs in the 1960s and the 1970s led to new legislation increasing the penalties for possession and trafficking of narcotics. Instead of enacting amendments to the Revised Penal Code, Congress chose instead to enact a special law, the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972.

Laws Common name Date enacted Notes
Executive Order No. 292 Administrative Code of 1987 July 25, 1987

The Administrative Code “incorporates in a unified document the major structural, functional and procedural principles and rules of governance.” Its primary function is to prescribe the standards, guidelines and practices within the executive branch of government.

It is the Administrative Code which establishes the various Cabinet departments and offices falling within the executive branch of government, and under the direct control and supervision of the President. The Code also prescribes the administrative procedure undertaken in proceedings before the offices under the executive department.

Originally coming into effect in 1917, the code was revised and amended repeatedly, with the present code being enacted in 1987.

Presidential Decree No. 603 Child and Youth Welfare Code December 10, 1974
Republic Act No. 386 Civil Code June 18, 1949 The Civil Code governs private law in the Philippines, including obligations and contracts, succession, torts and damages, property. It was enacted in 1950. Book I of the Civil Code, which governed marriage and family law, was supplanted by the Family Code in 1987.[4]
Republic Act No. 6657 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Code June 10, 1988
Presidential Decree No. 961 Coconut Industry Code June 11, 1978
Spanish Code of Commerce, Extended by Royal Decree Code of Commerce 1888
Republic Act No. 6938 Cooperative Code March 10, 1990
Batas Pambansa Blg. 68 Corporation Code May 1, 1980 The Corporation Code provides for the rules and regulations in the establishment and operation of stock and non-stock corporations in the Philippines. It was enacted in 1978. The regulation of securities and practices in the stock market governed by the 2000 Securities Regulation Code
Executive Order No. 209 Family Code July 6, 1987 Superseded Book I of the Civil Code, which governed marriage and family law.
Republic Act No. 9514 Fire Code December 19, 2008
Republic Act No. 8550 The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 February 25, 1998
Republic Act No. 8491 Flag and Heraldic Code February 12, 1998
Presidential Decree No. 389 Forest Reform Code February 5, 1974
Republic Act No. 10607 Insurance Code August 15, 2013
Republic Act No. 8293 Intellectual Property Code June 6, 1997 The Intellectual Property Code governs the protection of intellectual property in the Philippines. Initially, the legal protection of intellectual property was contained in a few provisions in the Civil Code. However, the growing concern over intellectual property protection led to the passage of more comprehensive special laws until the final codification of intellectual property law through the Code, enacted in 1997.
Presidential Decree No. 442 Labor Code May 1, 1974 The Labor Code, enacted in 1974, governs employment practices and labor relations in the Philippines.
Republic Act No. 4136 Land Transportation and Traffic Code June 20, 1964
Republic Act No. 7160 Local Government Code October 10, 1991 The Local Government Code, enacted in 1991, establishes the system and powers of the local government in the Philippines: provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays. The Local Government Code empowers local governments to enact tax measures, including real property taxes, and assures the local governments a share in the national internal revenue through the Internal Revenue Allotment.
Republic Act No. 9296 Meat Inspection Code May 12, 2004
Presidential Decree No. 1083 Muslim Code of Personal Laws February 4, 1977
Presidential Decree No. 1096 National Building Code February 19, 1977
Executive Order No. 51 National Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and Supplements October 20, 1986
Commonwealth Act No. 466 National Internal Revenue Code June 15, 1939
Batas Pambansa Blg. 881 Omnibus Election Code December 3, 1985
Presidential Decree No. 1152 Philippine Environment Code June 6, 1977
Act No. 3815 Revised Penal Code December 8, 1930 The Revised Penal Code contains the general penal laws of the Philippines and is one of the major sources of criminal laws in the Philippines. It was enacted in 1930 and has undergone several amendments.
Presidential Decree No. 856 Sanitation Code December 23, 1975
Presidential Decree No. 1445 State Auditing Code June 11, 1978
Republic Act No. 8424 Tax Code/National Internal Revenue Code December 11, 1997 The National Internal Revenue Code is the law establishing the system of national taxation in the Philippines. The most recent extensive revision of the Code occurred in 1997, although the Code was amended in 2005 to expand the coverage and rates of value-added tax.

The taxes imposed by the Code include a graduated income tax on all income earned by natural and juridical persons within the Philippines, a capital gains tax, excise tax on certain products, a donor's tax, an estate tax, and a value-added tax on the sale of most goods and services in the Philippines.

Real property taxes are considered as local, rather than national taxes, and are covered instead under the Local Government Code. Tariffs and duties are covered under the Tariff and Customs Code.

Republic Act No. 1937 Tariff and Customs Code June 22, 1957
Presidential Decree No. 1067 Water Code December 31, 1976

Notes and references

  1. In Re: Shoop, 21 Phil. 213 (1920)
  2. See Sections 8 and 9 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.
  3. Also known as Batas Pambansa during the Marcos-era Batasang Pambansa (English: National Legislature)
  4. Family Code of the Philippines, Executive Order No. 209 July 6, 1987, The Corpus Juris.

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