Lecture Notes on Civil Law Professor Ruben F. Balane


1. Granting of new rights

• Example: The Family Code erases the distinction between natural and spurious children. Now they are lumped together as ‘illegitimate.’ Thus, spurious children are given rights.

2. Different solutions to old problems

• Example: Change in river course

3. Clarification of old provisions

• Example: Under the old Civil Code, there were only void and voidable contracts. With the addition of unenforceable and rescissible contracts, the NCC provides clarification

4. Certain subjects omitted

• Examples: The dowry has been omitted; certain leases have also been omitted. The NCC is far from perfect. There are structural defects. Certain things which should be in the preliminary section are found elsewhere. An example of this is the vices of consent. Why are they found in contracts? They are relevant in all juridical transactions. Another example is the topic of degrees of relationship. This is found only in succession. Degrees of relationship are relevant in other books too. Finally, why is tradition found in the law on sales? Tradition is not only important in sales. Rather, tradition is a mode of acquiring ownership.


I. Effect and Application of Laws

Art. 1. This Act shall be known as the “Civil Code of the Philippines.”

Art. 2. Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided. This Code shall take effect one year after such publication.

• ‘This code shall take effect 1 year after such publication.’

The SC in the case of Lara vs. Del Rosario that the one year should be counted from the date of actual release and not the date of issue.

• Executive Order No. 200 supersedes Article 2 regarding the time of effectivity of laws.


WHEREAS, Article 2 of the Civil Code partly provides that “laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided . . .”;

WHEREAS, the requirement that for laws to be effective only a publication thereof in the Official Gazette will suffice has entailed some problems, a point recognized by the Supreme Court in Tañada, et al. vs. Tuvera, et al. (G.R. No. 63915, December 29, 1986) when it observed that “[t]here is much to be said of the view that the publication need not be made in the Official Gazette, considering its erratic release and limited readership”;

WHEREAS, it was likewise observed that “[u]ndoubtedly, 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”; and

WHEREAS, in view of the foregoing premises Article 2 of the Civil Code should accordingly be amended so the laws to be effective must be published either in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the country;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, CORAZON C. AQUINO, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Constitution, do hereby order:

Sec. 1. Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication either in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines, unless it is otherwise provided.

Sec. 2. Article 2 of Republic Act No. 386, otherwise known as the “Civil Code of the Philippines,” and all other laws inconsistent with this Executive Order are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.

Sec. 3. This Executive Order shall take effect immediately after its publication in the Official Gazette. Done in the City of Manila, this 18th day of June, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and eighty-seven.

• ‘15 days following’ – does this mean on the 15th or 16th day? The law is not clear.

• Under Article 2, publication in the Official Gazette was necessary. Now, under E.O. No. 200, publication may either be in the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general publication.

• ‘unless otherwise provided’ refers to when the law shall take effect. It does not mean that publication can be dispensed with. Otherwise, that would be a violation of due process.

• General Rule: Laws must be published in either the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation.

• Exception: The law may provide for another manner of publication. Different manner meaning:

1. Not in Official Gazette or newspaper of general circulation; or Example: Read over the television or the radio (provided that the alternative is reasonable)

2. Change in the period of effectivity

• ‘publication’ means making it known; dissemination. It doesn’t have to be in writing.

• ‘Change period of effectivity’ – the gap between publication and effectivity should be reasonable under the circumstances.

• Before publication, cannot apply the law whether penal or civil (Pesigan vs. Angeles) Why? How can you be bound if you don’t know the law.

• Requirement of publication applies to all laws and is mandatory. Art. 3. Ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith.

• Ignorantia legis neminem excusat (Ignorance of the law excuses no one).

• This is a necessary rule for all civilized society. Otherwise it would be impossible to enforce the law. It is very hard to determine whether or not a person really does not know the law. Without this rule, there would be anarchy. The law sacrifices occasional harshness to prevent universal anarchy.

• There are potential methods to mitigate the severity of Article 3 – Articles 526 (3), 2155, 1334.*

• In Kasilag vs. Rodriguez, the SC said that the possession of the antichretic credit as possession in good faith since a difficult question of law was involved – antichresis. In this case, the parties were not very knowledgeable of the law.

• Article 3 applies only to ignorance of Philippine law. It does not apply to foreign law. In Private International Law, foreign law must be proven even if it is applicable. Otherwise, the courts will presume the foreign law to be the same as Philippine law.

Art. 4. Laws shall have no retroactive effect, unless the contrary is provided.

• Lex de futuro judex de preterito (The law provides for the future, the judge for the past).

• Retroactive law – one which creates a new obligation and imposes a new duty or attaches a new disability with respect to transactions or considerations already past.

• General Rule: Law must be applied prospectively.

• Exceptions: 1. If the statute provides for retroactivity.

Exception to the exception: a. Ex post facto laws b. Laws which impair the obligation of contracts

2. Penal laws insofar as it favors the accused who is not a habitual criminal, even though at the time of the enactment of such law final sentence has already been rendered.

3. Remedial laws as long as it does not affect or change vested rights.

4. When the law creates new substantive rights unless vested rights are impaired.

5. Curative laws (the purpose is to cure defects or imperfections in judicial or administrative proceedings)

6. Interpretative laws

7. Laws which are of emergency nature or are authorized by police power (Santos vs. Alvarez; PNB vs. Office of the President)

Art. 5. Acts executed against the provisions of mandatory or prohibitory laws shall be void, except when the law itself authorizes their validity.

• A mandatory law is one which prescribes some element as a requirement (i.e., wills must be written – Article 804; form of donations – Article 749•)

• A prohibitory law is one which forbids something (i.e., joint wills – Article 818)

• General Rule: Acts which are contrary to mandatory or prohibited laws are void.

• Exceptions:

1. When the law itself authorized its validity (i.e., lotto, sweepstakes)

2. When the law makes the act only voidable and not void (i.e., if consent is vitiated, the contract is voidable and not void)

3. When the law makes the act valid but punishes the violator (i.e., if the marriage is celebrated by someone without legal authority but the parties are in good faith, the marriage is valid but the person who married the parties is liable)

4. When the law makes the act void but recognizes legal effects flowing therefrom (i.e., Articles 1412 & 1413) Art. 6. Rights may be waived, unless the waiver is contrary to law, public order, public policy, morals, or good customs, or prejudicial to a third person with a right recognized by law.

• What one can waive are rights and not obligations. Example, a creditor can waive the loan but the debtor may not.

• There is no form required for a waiver since a waiver is optional. You can waive by mere inaction, refusing to collect a debt for example is a form of waiver.

• Requisites of a valid waiver (Herrera vs. Boromeo)

1. Existence of a right

2. Knowledge of the existence of the right

3. An intention to relinquish the right (implied in this is the capacity to dispose of the right)

• General Rule: Rights can be waived.

• Exceptions: 1. If waiver is contrary to law, public order, public policy, morals or good customs 2. If the waiver would be prejudicial to a 3rd party with a right recognized by law. (e.g., If A owes B P10M, B can’t waive the loan if B owes C and B has no other assets.)

• Examples of waivers which are prohibited:

1. Repudiation of future inheritance

2. Waiver of the protection of pactum commissorium

3. Waiver of future support

4. Waiver of employment benefits in advance

5. Waiver of minimum wage

6. Waiver of the right to revoke a will

Art. 7. Laws are repealed only by subsequent ones, and their violation or non-observance shall not be excused by disuse, or custom or practice to the contrary. When the courts declared a law to be inconsistent with the Constitution, the former shall be void and the latter shall govern. Administrative or executive acts, orders and regulations shall be valid only when they are not contrary to the laws or the Constitution.

• Article 7 is obvious because time moves forward.

• Only subsequent laws can repeal prior laws either through:

1. A repealing clause

2. Incompatibility of the subsequent and prior laws

• The violation of a law is not justified even if:

1. No one follows the law (i.e., nonpayment of taxes)

2. There is a custom to the contrary • The 2nd par. of Article 7 is judicial review in statutory form.

Art. 8. Judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system of the Philippines.

• This is a new provision taken from common law. Under the civil law tradition, the court merely applies the law. However since the Philippine legal system is a combination of civil law and common law, courts apply statutes as well as resort to the doctrine of precedent.

Art. 9. No judge or court shall decline to render judgment by reason of the silence, obscurity or insufficiency of the laws.

Art. 10. In case of doubt in the interpretation or application of laws, it is presumed that the lawmaking body intended right and justice to prevail.

• What if the law is silent? The court should render a decision based on justice as stated in Article 10.

Art. 11. Customs which are contrary to law, public order or public policy shall not be countenanced.

• What if customs are not contrary to law? The custom would be countenanced. However, this does not mean that the custom would have obligatory force.

Art. 12. A custom must be proved as a fact, according to the rules of evidence.

• The law doesn’t specify the cases when custom is relevant in litigation. But in case custom is relevant, it should be proven.

• Commentators say that custom is important in cases involving negligence. For example, if a kalesa in Manila is by custom supposed to have rattan baskets to prevent people from slipping, if a person slips because there is no rattan basket, then he can sue for negligence.

Art. 13. When the laws speak of years, months, days or nights, it shall be understood that years are of three hundred sixty-five days each; months, of thirty days; days, of twenty-four hours; and nights from sunset to sunrise. If months are designated by their name, they shall be computed by the number of days which they respectively have. In computing a period, the first day shall be excluded, and the last day included.

• Article 13 has been superseded by Executive Order No. 292 (the Revised Administrative Code of 1987) – Book 1, §31. Sec. 31. Legal Periods. – “Year” shall be understood to be twelve calendar months; “month” of thirty days, unless it refers to a specific calendar month in which case it shall be computed according to the number of days the specific month contains; “day,” to a day of twenty-four hours; and “night,” from sunset to sunrise.

• Under E.O. No. 292, a year is now equivalent to 12 calendar months and not 365 days. Under Article 13 leap years are not considered. For examples, in order to make a will, one has to be 18 years old. But if you use Article 13, one loses 4 to 5 days if you don’t count the leap years. E.O. No. 292 is better than Article 13 since it is more realistic.

• There should have been a definition of hours. That definition is relevant for labor law. According to Professor Balane, an hour should be defined as 1/24 of a calendar day. If you use the definition that an hour is equal to 60 minutes, then we would have to define minutes, then seconds, and so on. It would be too scientific.

II. Conflicts of Law Provisions

Art. 14. Penal laws and those of public security and safety shall be obligatory upon all who live or sojourn in the Philippine territory, subject to the principles of public international law and to treaty stipulations.

• Two principles:

1. Territoriality General Rule: Criminal laws apply only in Philippine territory.

Exception: Article 2, Revised Penal Code.

2. Generality General Rule: Criminal laws apply to everyone in the territory (citizens and aliens)

Exceptions: In these instances, all the Philippines can do is expel them

a. Treaty stipulations which exempt some persons within the jurisdiction of Philippine courts (e.g., Bases Agreement)

b. Heads of State and Ambassadors (Note: Consuls are subject to the jurisdiction of our criminal courts.)

Art. 15. Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad.

• Theories on Personal Law:

1. Domiciliary theory – the personal laws of a person are determined by his domicile

2. Nationality theory – the nationality or citizenship determines the personal laws of the individual

• Under Article 15, the Philippines follows the nationality theory. Family rights and duties, status and legal capacity of Filipinos are governed by Philippine law.

• General Rule: Under Article 26 of the Family Code, all marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized and valid there as such, is also valid in the Philippines.

• Exception: If the marriage is void under Philippine law, then the marriage is void even if it is valid in the country where the marriage was solemnized .

Exception to the exception:

1. Article 35, 2, Family Code

Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:

(2) Those solemnized by any person not legally authorized to perform marriages unless such marriages were contracted with either or both parties believing in good faith that the solemnizing officer had the legal authority to do so; 2.

Article 35, 3, Family Code Art. 35. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:

(3) Those solemnized without license, except those covered the preceding Chapter; Even if the foreign marriage did not comply with either s 2 and 3 of Article 35, Philippine law will recognize the marriage as valid as long as it is valid under foreign law.

Art. 16, 1. Real property as well as personal property is subject to the law of the country where it is stipulated.

• Lex situs or lex rei sitae governs real or personal property (property is subject to the laws of the country in which it is located).

• In Tayag vs. Benguet consolidated, the SC said that Philippine law shall govern in cases involving shares of stock of a Philippine corporation even if the owner is in the US. Art. 16, 2. However, intestate and testamentary successions, both with respect to the order of succession and to the amount of successional rights and to the intrinsic validity of testamentary provisions, shall be regulated by the national law of the person whose succession is under consideration, whatever may be the nature of the property and regardless of the country wherein said property may be found.

• This is merely an extension of the nationality theory in Article 15.

• The national law of the decedent regardless of the location of the property shall govern. Thus, the national law of the decedent shall determine who will succeed.

• In Miciano vs. Brimo, the SC said that the will of a foreigner containing the condition that the law of the Philippines should govern regarding the distribution of the properties is invalid.

• In Aznar vs. Garcia, what was involved was the renvoi doctrine. In this case, the decedent was a citizen of California who resided in the Philippine. The problem was that under Philippine law, the national law of the decedent shall govern. On the other hand, under California law, the law of the state where the decedent has his domicile shall govern. The SC accepted the referral by California law and applied Philippine law (single renvoi).

• Problem: What if the decedent is a Filipino domiciled in a foreign country which follows the domiciliary theory? According to Professor Balane, one way to resolve the situation is this – Philippine law should govern with respect to properties in Philippine while the law of the domicile should govern with respect to properties located in the state of domicile. Art. 17. The forms and solemnities of contracts, wills, and other public instruments shall be governed by the laws of the country in which they are executed. When the acts referred to are executed before the diplomatic or consular officials of the Republic of the Philippines in a foreign country, the solemnities established by Philippine laws shall be observed in their execution. Prohibitive laws concerning persons, their acts or property, and those which have for their object public order, public policy and good customs shall not be rendered ineffective by laws or judgments promulgated, or by determinations or conventions agreed upon in a foreign country.

• Lex loci celebrationis (formal requirements of contracts, wills, and other public instruments are governed by the country in which they are executed)

• There is no conflict between the 1st of Article 16 and the 1st of Article 17 since they talk of 2 different things.

• Thus, the formal requirements of a contract involving real property in the Philippines must follow the formal requirements of the place where the contract was entered into. However, if what is involved is not the formal requirements, then the law of the place where the properties (whether real or personal) are located shall govern.

Art. 18. In matters which are governed by the Code of Commerce and special laws, their deficiency shall be supplied by the provisions of this Code.

III. Human Relations

Art. 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith.

Art. 20. Every person who, contrary to law, willfully or negligently causes damage to another, shall indemnify the latter for the same.

Art. 21. Any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage.

Art. 22. Every person who through an act of performance by another, or any other means, acquires or comes into possession of something at the expense of the latter without just or legal ground, shall return the same to him.

Art. 23. Even when an act or event causing damage to another’s property was not due to the fault or negligence of the defendant, the latter shall be liable for indemnity if through the act or event he was benefited.

Art. 24. In all contractual, property or other relations, when one of the parties is at a disadvantage on account of his moral dependence, ignorance, indigence, mental weakness, tender age or other handicap, the courts must be vigilant for his protection.

Art. 25. Thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure or display during a period of acute public want or emergency may be stopped by order of the courts at the instance of any government or private charitable institution.

Art. 26. Every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons. The following and similar acts, though they may not constitute a criminal offense, shall produce a cause of action for damages, prevention and other relief:

(1) Prying into the privacy of another’s residence;

(2) Meddling with or disturbing the private life or family relations of another;

(3) Intriguing to cause another to be alienated from his friends;

(4) Vexing or humiliating another on account of his religious beliefs, lowly station in life, place of birth, physical defect, or other personal condition.

Art. 27. Any person suffering material or moral loss because a public servant or employee refuses or neglects, without just cause, to perform his official duty may file an action for damages and other relief against he latter, without prejudice to any disciplinary administrative action that may be taken.

Art. 28. Unfair competition in agricultural, commercial or industrial enterprises or in labor through the use of force, intimidation, deceit, machination or any other unjust, oppressive or highhanded method shall give rise to a right of action by the person who thereby suffers damage.

Art. 29. When the accused in a criminal prosecution is acquitted on the ground that his guilt has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt, a civil action for damages for the same act or omission may be instituted. Such action requires only a preponderance of evidence. Upon motion of the defendant, the court may require the plaintiff to file a bond to answer for damages in case the complaint should be found to be malicious. If in a criminal case the judgment of acquittal is based upon reasonable doubt, the court shall so declare. In the absence of any declaration to that effect, it may be inferred from the text of the decision whether or not the acquittal is due to that ground.

Art. 30. When a separate civil action is brought to demand civil liability arising from a criminal offense, and no criminal proceedings are instituted during the pendency of the civil case, a preponderance of evidence shall likewise be sufficient to prove the act complained of.

Art. 31. When the civil action is based on an obligation not arising from the act or omission complained of as a felony, such civil action may proceed independently of the criminal proceedings and regardless of the result of the latter.

Art. 32. Any public officer or employee, or any private individual, who directly or indirectly obstructs, defeats, violates or in any manner impedes or impairs any of the following rights and liberties of another person shall be liable to the latter for damages:

(1) Freedom or religion;

(2) Freedom of speech;

(3) Freedom to write for the press or to maintain a periodical publication;

(4) Freedom from arbitrary or illegal detention;

(5) Freedom of suffrage;

(6) The right against deprivation of property without due process of law;

(7) The right to a just compensation when private property is taken for public use;

(8) The right to the equal protection of the laws;

(9) The right to be secure in one’s person, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures;

(10) The liberty of abode and of changing the same;

(11) The privacy of communication and correspondence;

(12) The right to become a member of associations or societies for purposes not contrary to law;

(13) The right to take part in a peaceable assembly to petition the Government for redress of grievances;

(14) The right to be a free from involuntary servitude in any form;

(15) The right of the accused against excessive bail;

(16) The right of the accused to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witness in his behalf;

(17) Freedom from being compelled to be a witness against one’s self, or from being forced to confess guilt, or from being induced by a promise of immunity or reward to make such confession, except when the person confessing becomes a State witness;

(18) Freedom from excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishment, unless the same is imposed or inflicted in accordance with a statute which has not been judicially declared unconstitutional; and

(19) Freedom of access to the courts. In any of the cases referred to in this article, whether or not the defendant’s act or omission constitutes a criminal offense, the aggrieved party has a right to commence an entirely separate and distinct civil action for damages, and for other relief. Such civil action shall proceed independently of any criminal prosecution (if the latter be instituted), and mat be proved by a preponderance of evidence. The indemnity shall include moral damages. Exemplary damages may also be adjudicated. The responsibility herein set forth is not demandable from a judge unless his act or omission constitutes a violation of the Penal Code or other penal statute.

Art. 33. In cases of defamation, fraud, and physical injuries a civil action for damages, entirely separate and distinct from the criminal action, may be brought by the injured party. Such civil action shall proceed independently of the criminal prosecution, and shall require only a preponderance of evidence.

Art. 34. When a member of a city or municipal police force refuses or fails to render aid or protection to any person in case of danger to life or property, such peace officer shall be primarily liable for damages, and the city or municipality shall be subsidiarily responsible therefor. The civil action herein recognized shall be independent of any criminal proceedings, and a preponderance of evidence shall suffice to support such action.

Art. 35. When a person, claiming to be injured by a criminal offense, charges another with the same, for which no independent civil action is granted in this Code or any special law, but the justice of the peace finds no reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has been committed, or the prosecuting attorney refuses or fails to institute criminal proceedings, the complaint may bring a civil action for damages against the alleged offender. Such civil action may be supported by a preponderance of evidence. Upon the defendant’s motion, the court may require the plaintiff to file a bond to indemnify the defendant in case the complaint should be found to be malicious. If during the pendency of the civil action, an information should be presented by the prosecuting attorney, the civil action shall be suspended until the termination of the criminal proceedings.

Art. 36. Pre-judicial questions, which must be decided before any criminal prosecution may be instituted or may proceed, shall be governed by rules of court which the Supreme Court shall promulgate and which shall not be in conflict with the provisions of this Code.

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