Monday, January 30, 2012

Tanada vs. Tuvera, G. R. No. 63915, April 24, 1985

Facts: In this case petitioners seek a writ of mandamus to compel respondent public officials to publish, and/or cause the publication in the Official Gazette of various presidential decrees, letters of instructions, general orders, proclamations, executive orders, letter of implementation and administrative orders. Petitioners contend that in order for these laws to be effective it must be published in the Official Gazette.

The respondents, on the other hand, contend that the case should be dismissed on the ground that petitioners have no legal personality. Without showing that the non-publication of these laws would bring injury to the petitioners, they have no cause of action, as provided for under the Rules of Court.

(1) Whether or not petitioners have legal standing.

(2) Whether or not various laws in question should be published to be valid and enforceable.

 (1) The petitioners have legal standing. The Supreme Court has already decided in various cases that a party has a cause of action when the question posed is one of public right and the object of the mandamus is to procure the enforcement of a public duty. Under such, the people are regarded as the real party in interest and the relator at whose instigation the proceedings are instituted need not show that he has any legal or special interest in the result, it being sufficient to show that he is a citizen and as such interested in the execution of the laws.

(2) As to the necessity of publication, the Supreme Court ruled that laws should be published. The clear object of such is to give the general public adequate notice of the various laws which are to regulate their actions and conduct as citizens. Without such notice and publication, there would be no basis for the application of the maxim "ignorantia legis non excusat." It would be the height of injustice to punish or otherwise burden a citizen for the transgression of a law of which he had no notice whatsoever, not even a constructive one.

The publication of all presidential issuances "of a public nature" or "of general applicability" is mandated by law. Obviously, presidential decrees that provide for fines, forfeitures or penalties for their violation or otherwise impose a burden or the people, such as tax and revenue measures, fall within this category. Other presidential issuances which apply only to particular persons or class of persons such as administrative and executive orders need not be published on the assumption that they have been circularized to all concerned.

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