Civil Code of the Philippines: An Overview

The Philippine Civil Code is the basic law governing:

(1) persons and family relations;

(2) property, ownership and its modifications;

(3) the modes of acquiring ownership; and

(4) obligations and contracts.

Executive Order No. 48 dated March 20, 1947 created a Code Commission tasked with the “immediate revision of all existing substantive laws of the Philippines and of codifying them in conformity with the customs, traditions, and idiosyncrasies of the Filipino people and with modern trends in legislation and the progressive principles of law.” On January 26, 1948, the Code Commission submitted its report to the President. On June 18, 1949, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 386 entitled “An Act to Ordain and Institute the Civil Code of the Philippines.”

The Civil Code repealed: (a) those parts and provisions of the Civil Code of 1889 which were in force and effective when the Civil Code took effect; (b) the provisions of the Code of Commerce governing sales, partnership, agency, loan, deposit and guaranty; (c) the provisions of the then Code of Civil Procedure on prescriptions insofar as inconsistent with the Civil Code; and (d) all laws, acts, rules of court, executive orders and administrative regulations which are inconsistent with the Civil Code.

The Civil Code is based on the Civil Code of 1889, which is of Spanish and French origin. (see Report of the Code Commission dated January 26, 1948, hereafter “Report”). Among others, the Civil Code introduced new rights and causes of action not found in the Civil Code of 1889, such as those recognized in:

(1) article 21(acts contrary to morals;

(2) article 29 ((civil action for acquittal on reasonable doubt);

(3) article 32 (civil action for obstruction of civil liberty);

(4) article 706 (abatement of private nuisance);

(5) article 1359 (reformation of instruments);

(6) articles 1448-1456 (implied trusts);

(7) articles 2174-2175 (two additional quasi-contracts);

(8) article 2189 (liability of municipalities for defective conditions of streets);

(9) articles 2217 and 2221 (moral and nominal damages). (see Report)

Subsequent amendments were made to the Civil Code, the most comprehensive of which relates to the amendments introduced by the Family Code in 1



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