DOCTRINE OF INCORPORATION

The courts have applied the rules of international law in a number of cases even if such rules had not previously been subject of statuto...

The courts have applied the rules of international law in a number of cases even if such rules had not previously been subject of statutory enactments, because these generally accepted principles of international law are automatically part of our own laws.( Sec. 2 Article II of the Constitution)

It means that the rules of International law form part of the law of the land and no legislative action is required to make them applicable in a country. By this doctrine, the Philippines is bound by generally accepted principles of international law, which are considered to be automatically part of our own laws. (TaƱada v. Angara, G.R. No. 118295, May 2, 1997)

The doctrine of incorporation is applied whenever municipal tribunals (or local courts) are confronted with situations in which there appears to be a conflict between a rule of international law and the provisions of the Constitution or statute of the local state.  Efforts should first be exerted to harmonize them, so as to give effect to both since it is to be presumed that municipal law was enacted with proper regard for the generally accepted principles of international law in observance of the Incorporation Clause in Section 2, Article II of the Constitution.  In a situation however, where the conflict is irreconcilable and a choice has to be made between a rule of international law and municipal law, jurisprudence dictates that municipal law should be upheld by the municipal courts for the reason that such courts are organs of municipal law and are accordingly bound by it in all circumstances.  The fact that international law has been made part of the law of the land does not pertain to or imply the primacy of international law over national or municipal law in the municipal sphere.  The doctrine of incorporation, as applied in most countries, decrees that rules of international law are given equal standing with, but are not superior to, national legislative enactments.  Accordingly, the principle of lex posterior derogat priori takes effect – a treaty may repeal a statute and a statute may repeal a treaty.  In states where the Constitution is the highest law of the land, such as the Republic of the Philippines, both statutes and treaties may be invalidated if they are in conflict with the Constitution.  (Secretary of Justice v. Lantion, G.R. No. 139465, January 18, 2000)

BAR QUESTION (2000)
The Philippines has become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and resultantly agreed that it "shall ensure the conformity of its laws, regulations and administrative procedures with its obligations as provided in the annexed Agreements." This is assailed as unconstitutional because this undertaking unduly limits, restricts and impairs Philippine sovereignty and means among others that Congress could not pass legislation that will be good for our national interest and general welfare if such legislation will not conform with the WTO Agreements. Refute this argument. (5%)


ANSWER:  According to Tanada v. Angara, 272 SCRA 18 (1997), the sovereignty of the Philippines is subject to restriction by its membership in the family of nations and the limitations imposed of treaty limitations. Section 2. Article II of the Constitution adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land. One of such principles is pacta sunt servanda. The Constitution did not envision a hermit-like isolation of the country from the rest of the world.

DISCLAIMER: The author is not lawyer nor an authority on this topic. It is a product of humble research and study of law. The information provided is not a legal advice and it should not be used  as a substitute for a competent legal advice from a licensed lawyer.

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