Nothing is constant in this world but change. We are trying to modernize everything. Trying to keep up with the changes and as consequence we are facing different questions on the effects of such. Last July 2010, in order to keep up with the on going modernization, the Office of the President launches a digital version of the Official Gazette. Also, President Benigno S. Aquino III promulgated Executive Order No. 4 entitled ” REORGANIZING AND RENAMING THE OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY AS THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS OPERATIONS OFFICE; CREATING THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS DEVELOPMENT AND STRATEGIC PLANNING OFFICE; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.” Under such order, the Office of the Press Secretary shall be reorganized and renamed as the Presidential Communications Operations Office which shall be headed by the Presidential Communications and Operations Head who shall have the rank of Cabinet Secretary with all the corresponding salaries, emoluments, and benefits.[1] And under the said office, THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS DEVELOPMENT AND STRATEGIC PLANNING OFFICE MANAGEMENT is created and managed. Section 6 of E.O. No. 4, specifically paragraph (k) states that one of the function of THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS DEVELOPMENT AND STRATEGIC PLANNING OFFICE MANAGEMENT is to Perform editorial functions for the Official Gazette. What does it mean? What is the implication of the promulgation of Executive Order No. 4? Is the posting of the law in the website of the Official Gazette of the Philippines satisfied the rules made by the Supreme Court in Tañada vs. Tuvera? I am of the opinion that it is the Negative. In the above cited case, the Supreme Court held that “Coming now to the original decision, it is true that only four justices were categorically for publication in the Official Gazette and that six others felt that publication could be made elsewhere as long as the people were sufficiently informed.  One reserved his vote  and another merely acknowledged the need for due publication without indicating where it should be made. It is therefore necessary for the present membership of this Court to arrive at a clear consensus on this matter and to lay down a binding decision supported by the necessary vote.

There is much to be said of the view that the publication need not be made in the Official Gazette, considering its erratic releases and limited readership. Undoubtedly, newspapers of general circulation could better perform the function of communicating, the laws to the people as such periodicals are more easily available, have a wider readership, and come out regularly. The trouble, though, is that this kind of publication is not the one required or authorized by existing law. As far as we know, no amendment has been made of Article 2 of the Civil Code. The Solicitor General has not pointed to such a law, and we have no information that it exists. If it does, it obviously has not yet been published.

At any rate, this Court is not called upon to rule upon the wisdom of a law or to repeal or modify it if we find it impractical. That is not our function. That function belongs to the legislature. Our task is merely to interpret and apply the law as conceived and approved by the political departments of the government in accordance with the prescribed procedure. Consequently, we have no choice but to pronounce that under Article 2 of the Civil Code, the publication of laws must be made in the Official Gazett and not elsewhere, as a requirement for their effectivity after fifteen days from such publication or after a different period provided by the legislature.”[2] And as a consequence,  President Corazon Aquino promulgated Executive Order No. 200 amending Article 2, of the Civil Code of the Philippines stating that in order for the laws to be effective, it must be published either in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the country. First point, Executive Order No. 4 does not speak about the effects of the law posted/published in the website of the Official Gazette, Sec. 6 par.(k) only states that one of the function of  THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS DEVELOPMENT AND STRATEGIC PLANNING OFFICE MANAGEMENT is to perform editorial functions for the Official Gazette. Said executive order in not inconsistent with Article 2 of the Civil Code, hence, the latter is not impliedly or expressly amended/repealed. In effect, the publication requirement is still in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines. Second, it is of my opinion that the Legislative has the right to amend Article 2 of the Civil Code of the Philippines because the Police Power of the State is given to the said institution and if we want to have the posting/publishing in the website of the Official Gazette enough to satisfy the publication requirement, we must ask our representatives to make such law amending Art. 2 of the Civil Code and not by executive orders.

 

 

 


[1] Section 1, Executive Order No. 4, July 30, 2010

[2] Tañada vs. Tuvera, G.R. No. L-63915 December 29, 1986

 

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