Publication of ordinances

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Publication of ordinances

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jayUnder the local government code the legal requirement of the publication of city, municipal or provincial ordinances is confusing.

There are two provisions in the local government code that pertain to publication of ordinances.

Section 59 © of the code provides that: “The gist of all ordinances with penal sanctions shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation within the province where the local legislative body  concerned belongs.”

Section 59 (d) provides: “In case of highly urbanized and independent component cities, the main features of the ordinance or resolution duly enacted or adopted shall, in addition to be posted, be published once in a local newspaper of general circulation within the city: Provided, that in the absence thereof the ordinance or resolution shall be published in any newspaper of general circulation.”

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Meanwhile Section 511(a)  of the local government code provides: Ordinance with penal sanctions “shall also be published in a newspaper of general circulation, where available, within the territorial jurisdiction of the local government unit concerned, except barangay ordinances.”

I wish laws were crafted in simpler terms.

But let us try to harmonize the law. That has always been the mandate, specially by our courts.

If laws seem conflicting, try to harmonize them because the presumed intent of laws is to pursue and maintain order, not chaos.

One thing is sure, if an ordinance has “penal sanctions”, (meaning, an imposition of penalty such as imprisonment for violation of the ordinance) it must be published in a newspaper.

This flows from the basic rule that before one is penalized, he should be informed  of the law—the basis for imposing such penalty.

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The question is: “What is to be published, the gist or the entire text of the ordinance?”

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When we say “gist,” we mean the substance, the meat, the essentials, of the law only.

I would submit that determining whether what is to be published is only the gist, or the entire text of the ordinance, will depend on whether there is a local newspaper generally circulated in the territorial jurisdiction of the local government unit concerned.

Let us say the town of Valencia passes an ordinance with penal sanctions.

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What should be determined is, whether or not there is a local newspaper circulating in the town of Valencia.

If there is, then the entire text of the ordinance must be published.

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In this situation, where there is a local newspaper in Valencia, Section  511 (a) applies.

Ordinance with penal sanctions shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation, “where available (kung duna),” in the territorial jurisdiction of the LGU concerned. In our example, the LGU concerned is the town of Valencia.

Suppose there is no local newspaper circulating in Valencia, what will be published?

This time, Section 59 © applies— publish only the gist of the ordinance.

Usually, the newspaper will be in the capital city like Tagbilaran City “within the province (of Bohol) where the local legislative body  concerned (Valencia) belongs”

Why is it that publication of ordinances with penal sanctions  is dependent on whether or not there is a local paper within the LGU that passed the ordinance?

If there is a newspaper generally circulating within the town where the municipal ordinance is passed, then that local newspaper is being read by, and is specially interesting to,  the people or residents of that town.

“News is always local,” as they say.

So “where available” (kung duna), publish the entire text of the ordinance, because most certainly  that will be interesting for the “local” readers of that local newspaper circulating in that town.

If there is no local newspaper in the town, it still has to be published in a newspaper circulating somewhere else in the province, but this time only the “gist” because you do not expect everybody in the province outside the municipality to be as concerned or interested in that particular municipal ordinance.

It cannot be expected that the rest of the province will be as concerned or interested in the municipal ordinance of Valencia, as are the local residents of Valencia themselves.

So publish only the gist.

The law here is only practical as it is logical.

Is there lack of notice if only the gist is published?

Not necessarily, because the law additionally requires posting of ordinances in the municipality where the ordinance was passed.

In the case of Tagbilaran City, it is not an independent component city.

Independent Component Cities are cities whose charters prohibit their voters from voting for provincial elective officials.

I also don’t think Tagbilaran has reached the status of a highly  urbanized city since such cities require 200,000 inhabitants, plus P50-M annual income.

If neither highly urbanized nor independent component city, the text of ordinances with penal sanctions in these component cities have to be published in its entirety pursuant to Section 511(a) of the local government code, assuming of course if there is a local newspaper circulating in that city.

I hope this clarifies, more than it confuses. (By Atty. Jay I. Dejaresco)

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