Tañada v Tuvera; G.R. No. L-63915; 29 Dec 1986; 146 SCRA 446

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Petitioners move for reconsideration/clarification of the Court’s April 24, 1985 decision affirming the necessity for publication of presidential decrees and issuances which are of general application.

Whether or not the clause “unless it is otherwise provided” meant publication in the Official Gazette is not always imperative.

NO. 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 it. Surely, if the legislature could validly provide that a law shall become 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 it 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.

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