Philippine Legal Philosophy

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A. Importance of the Study.-The legal system of a country is said to tell vividly in its own peculiar way the life story of a people. In the same manner, the country's legal philosophy lucidly mirrors the national souL The reason for this may be gleaned from what one law professor has written. Tho~e who would tell of life as mankind lives it must give an account of law somewhere in the story, for a prime function of law is telling ffi'3n how to live. In this, it is a good deal like custom and religion, which regulate the business of living by means of more or less dogmatic commands in the interest of certain ends thought to be desirable. In n:lture and effect, the prescriptions in our codes and statutes are not to be distinguished from the ordinances of the holy books or of tribal feeling, or from the exhortations of priests or moral philosophers. Their subject matter is human conduct and their concern is its control through the technique of dogma. Indeed, the distinction between law on the one hand and custom and morals on the other, is quite modern. Ancient law, com· pounded of tribal customs and sacred commandments, proceeded from a lawgiver who was at once the conserver of ancient traditions and the spokesman of the gods'!

I subscribe to the theory that the juristic thought of a country invariably embodies the passing and shifting problems of its generations, and the law, therefore, becomes the repository of a people's growth and fulfillment - to the end that the legal aphorisms and doctrines found useful today, though they may be discarded tomorrow, may nevertheless be signposts along the legal highway, giving us a sense of direction and incentive in the solution of our social, political and economic problems."

* This paper was written in connection with the Fellowship in Jurisprudence granted to the writer under the NEC·ICA U.P. Faculty Development Program. The writer expresses his gratitude to Dean Vicente Abad Santos for the latter's inspiration and guidance in the preparation of this work. The extensive use of direct quotes was intentional. The quotes are intended to reflect, with no possible risk of distortion from the writer, the ideas of those quoted. """ A.B., LL.B., LL.M. (UP); LL.M. (Harvard). 1 Fernandez, Perfecto V., Sixty Years of Philippine Law, 35 PHIL.L.J. 1389 (19060). 2 Paredes, Quintin, Speech on the occasion of the Commencement Exercises of the Francisco Law School, 15 L.J. 146 (1950).

Crude though it was, the attempt of the Filipinos at legal ordering started rather early.3 This development suffered a substantial modification, if not a serious setback, with the coming of foreign domination in the 16th century. For more than three centuries, the Filipinos were not free to fashion their own legal thinking. Such phenomenon resulted in the emergence of a legal system which is a hybrid of Roman Civil Law Ironically, the legal system evolved and Anglo-American Common Law. was, as it still is, neither civil nor common law. Much less is it typically Filipino. The situation has not fundamentally changed even after more than a decade and a half of political independence.5 4

It is refreshing to note, however, of stagnation, there were voices raised for a revision of the country's legal might have seemed at the time, the throughout the length and breadth of years.6

that even during the long period by some Filipino thinkers calling concepts. Inaudible those voices clearer and louder they resound the land with the passing of the

Recent years have witnessed a healthy realization of an imperative urgency to revamp the country's legal system along the line of the people's customs, traditions and temperament, and to make it responsive to the nation's needs.7 To make this change possible as well as effective, there is the necessity to effect a comparable turn in the legal thinking of the people. A youthful and outstanding leader has stressed that ... If we are to live and flourish an independent...
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