ICC posturing: Assault to country’s sovereignty (Part 2)

Laws must come out in the open in the clear light of the sun, instead of skulking in the shadows with their dark, deep secrets.

“The subject of contention is Article 2 of the Civil Code providing as follows:

“Art. 2. Laws shall take effect after 15 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.

“After a careful study of this provision and of the arguments of the parties, both on the original petition and on the instant motion, we have come to the conclusion and so hold that the clause ‘unless it is otherwise provided’ refers to the date of effectivity and not to the requirement of publication itself, which cannot in any event be omitted. This clause does not mean that the legislature may make the law effective immediately upon approval, or on any other date, without its previous publication.

“Publication is indispensable in every case, but the legislature may in its discretion provide that the usual 15-day period shall be shortened or extended….

“It is not correct to say that under the disputed clause publication may be dispensed with altogether. The reason is that such omission would offend due process insofar as it would deny the public knowledge of the laws that are supposed to govern the legislature could validly provide that a law be effective immediately upon its approval notwithstanding the lack of publication (or after an unreasonably short period after publication), it is not unlikely that persons not aware of it would be prejudiced as a result and they would be so, not because of a failure to comply with, but simply because they did not know of its existence. Significantly, this is not true only of penal laws as is commonly supposed. One can think of many non-penal measures, like a law on prescription, which must also be communicated to the persons they may affect before they can begin to operate.

“We note at this point the conclusive presumption that every person knows the law, which of course presupposes that the law has been published if the presumption is to have any legal justification at all.

It is no less important to remember that Section 6 of the Bill of Rights recognizes ‘the right of the people to information on matters of public concern,’ and this certainly applies to, among others, and indeed especially, the legislative enactments of the government.

“The term ‘laws’ should refer to all laws and not only to those of general application, for strictly speaking all laws relate to the people in general, albeit there are some that do not apply to them directly….

“The days of the secret laws and the unpublished decrees are over. This is once again an open society, with all the acts of the government subject to public scrutiny and available always to public cognizance. These have to be so if our country is to remain democratic, with sovereignty residing in the people and all government authority emanating from them….”

“Laws must come out in the open in the clear light of the sun, instead of skulking in the shadows with their dark, deep secrets.”

“Mysterious pronouncements and rumored rules cannot be recognized as binding unless their existence and contents are confirmed by a valid publication intended to make full disclosure and give proper notice to the people. The furtive law is like a scabbarded saber that cannot feint parry or cut unless the naked blade is drawn.”

“Wherefore, it is hereby declared that all laws as above defined shall immediately upon their approval, or as soon thereafter as possible, be published in full in the Official Gazette, to become effective only after 15 days from their publication, or on another date specified by the legislature, in accordance with Article 2 of the Civil Code.”

(To be continued)

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