Tanada v. Tuvera 146 SCRA 446 (1986) G.R. No. L-63915, December 29, 1986

Fact: Due process was invoked by the petitioners in demanding the disclosure of a number of presidential decrees which they claimed had not been published as required by law. The government argued that while publication was necessary as a rule, it was not so when it was “otherwise provided,” as when the decrees themselves declared that they were to become effective immediately upon their approval. In the decision of this case on April 24, 1985, the Court affirmed the necessity for the publication of some of these decrees, orders respondents to publish in the Official Gazette all unpublished presidential issuances which are of general application, and unless so published, they shall have no binding force and effect. The petitioners are now before us again, this time to move for reconsideration/clarification of that decision.  Specifically, they ask the What is meant by “law of public nature” or “general applicability”? Must a distinction be made between laws of general applicability and laws which are not? What is meant by “publication”? Where is the publication to be made? When is the publication to be made?  the petitioners suggest that there should be no distinction between laws of general applicability and those which are not; that publication means complete publication; and that the publication must be made forthwith in the Official Gazette

Issue: Whether the Publication of Laws and Decrees in the Official Gazette and Newspaper of General Circulation is a mandatory requirement of the Constitution?

Held: Yes, Publication is indispensable in every case, but the legislature may in its discretion provide that the usual fifteen-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 e effective immediately upon its approval notwithstanding the lack of, 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. 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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