Philippine legal codes

Philippine legal codes

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 that country. Among the codes which 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, even though the United States was a common law jurisdiction. However, during the American era, 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 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.

Beginning in the American era, there was an effort to revise the Spanish codes that had remained in force even after the end of Spanish occupation. 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. [Also known as Batas Pambansa during Marcos-era Batasang Pambansa ]

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.

Notable Philippine legal codes

Civil Code

The Civil Code governs private law in the Philippines, including obligations and contracts, , 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. []

Revised Penal Code

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.

Labor Code

The Labor Code, enacted in 1974, governs employment practices and labor relations in the Philippines.

National Internal Revenue Code

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".

Local Government Code

The "Local Government Code", enacted in 1991, establishes the system and powers of provincial, city, municipal and barangay governments in the Philippines. It is the governing law on local governments.

The "Local Government Code" also empowers local governments to enact local tax measures, including real property taxes. It further assures the local governments a share in the national internal revenue.

Administrative Code

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.

An administrative code was enforced in the Philippines as early as 1917. That code was revised 7 decades later, in 1987, resulting in the present Code.

Intellectual Property Code

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.

Corporation Code

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".

ome other legal codes

* "Ominubus Election Code" (1978)
* "Forestry Code" (1975)
* "Cooperative Code" (1990)
* "Milk Code" (1987)
* "Flag and Heraldic Code' (1998)

Notes and References

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