Civil Code of the Philippines

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Civil Code of the Philippines
Coat of arms of the Philippines.svg
Congress of the Philippines
CitationRepublic Act No. 386
Territorial extentPhilippines
Enacted byCode Commission with the advice and consent of the Philippine Legislature
EnactedJune 18, 1949
SignedJune 18, 1949
EffectiveAugust 30, 1950
Executive Order No. 9
(Family Code of the Philippines)
Presidential Decree No. 603
(Child and Youth Welfare Code)
Civil law
(Private law)
Status: In force

The Civil Code of the Philippines is the product of the codification of private law in the Philippines. It is the general law that governs family and property relations in the Philippines. It was enacted in 1950, and remains in force to date with some significant amendments.


The Philippine Civil Code is strongly influenced by the Spanish Código Civil, which was first enforced in 1889 within the Philippines when it was still a colony of the Spanish Empire. The Código Civil remained in effect even throughout the American Occupation; by 1940, the Commonwealth Government of President Manuel Luis Quezon formed a Commission tasked with drafting a new Code. The Commission was initially headed by Chief Justice Ramón Avanceña, but its work was interrupted by the Japanese invasion and the Second World War. The Commission's records were later destroyed by Allied bombing during the Battle of Manila in 1945.

In 1947, President Manuel Roxas of the Third Republic created a new Code Commission, this time headed by the former Dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law, Jorge Bocobo. Among the members of this new Commission were future Supreme Court Associate Justice Francisco R. Capistrano, and future Vice-President Arturo Tolentino. The Code Commission completed the final draft of the new Civil Code by December 1947, and this was submitted to Congress, which enacted it into law through Republic Act No. 386. The Civil Code took effect in 1950.[1]

Due to its wide coverage and impact, the Civil Code is the subject of much study and extensive commentary. Several legal luminaries developed reputations as experts on the Civil Code and consequently enhanced their reputations in the field of Philippine law. These include Tolentino, who himself had helped draft it, Supreme Court Associate Justices J. B. L. Reyes, Flérida Ruth P. Romero, José Vitug, and Edgardo Paras.


The influence of the Spanish Civil Code is most evident in the books on property, succession and obligations and contracts. The law on succession, for example, retains such concepts indigenous to Spain such as the rule on legitimes and reserva troncal. On the other hand, many of the provisions on special contracts, particularly on sales, are derived from common law as practised in the United States, reflecting the influence of American colonial rule and the influx of commercial relations involving Americans at the time.

The great mass of disputes between private persons over civil and property relations are resolved by applying the provisions of the Civil Code. With over 2,000 specific provisions, the Civil Code attempts to anticipate all possible questions arising from civil and property relations and prescribe a definitive solution for these problems. Understandably, the Civil Code itself is unable to provide a definite answer for all emerging problems; thus the courts also rely on precedent based on interpretations by the Supreme Court. This the Civil Code itself notably recognises in saying that "[j]udicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system of the Philippines" (Article 8, Civil Code), a recognition of the eminent role now played by precedents in Philippine law. The Civil Code is divided into four “books”, with each specific book namely:

Persons and Family relations[edit]

The Chapter 2 of the Civil code was formulated to indicate certain norms that spring from the fountain of good conscience, that will serve as golden threads through society to the end of that law may approach its supreme ideal which is sway and dominance of justice, the primary precept of this portion is derived from Justinian's Institutes: iuris praecepta sunt haec: honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. (Inst. 1,1,3-4). (Translated into English: “the precepts of law are these: to live honestly, to injure no one, [and] to give to each his own.”). Civil personality defines the distinction between natural and juridical persons, as well as the difference between juridical capacity and capacity to act.[2][3]

  • Effect and Application of Laws
  • Human relations
  • Civil Personality
  • Citizenship and Domicile
  • Funerals
  • Care and Education of Children
  • Use of Surnames
  • Absence
  • Civil Register

The Family Code of 1988[edit]

In 1987, President Corazón Cojuangco Aquino enacted into law The Family Code of 1987, which was intended to supplant Book I of the Civil Code concerning persons and family relations. Work on the Family Code had begun as early as 1979, and it had been drafted by two successive committees, the first chaired by future Supreme Court Justice Romero, and the second chaired by former Supreme Court Justice J.B.L. Reyes. The Civil Code needed amendment via the Family Code in order to alter certain provisions derived from foreign sources which had proven unsuitable to Filipino culture and to attune it to contemporary developments and trends.[4] The Family Code covers fields of significant public interest, especially the laws on marriage. The definition and requisites for marriage, along with the grounds for annulment, are found in the Family Code, as is the law on conjugal property relations, rules on establishing filiation, and the governing provisions on support, parental authority, and adoption.

Property, Ownership and its Modifications[edit]

Focuses on property, which classifies and defines the different kinds of approporiable objects, provides for their acquisitions and loss and treats the nature and consequences of real right. Ownership is independent and general right of the person to control a thing particularly in his possession, enjoyment, disposition, and recovery, subject to no restrictions except those imposed by the state or private persons, without prejudice to the provisions of the law. .[5][6]

  • Classification of Property
  • Ownership
  • Co-Ownership
  • Special Properties
  • Possession
  • Usufruct
  • Easement and Servitudes
  • Nuissance
  • Registry of Property

Modes of Acquiring Ownership[edit]

Ownership is acquired by occupation and by intellectual creation. Ownership and other real rights over property are acquired and transmitted by law, by donation, by testate and intestate succession, and in consequence of certain contracts by tradition. They may be also acquired by acquisitive prescription.[7]

  • Occupation
  • Intellectual creation
  • Donation
  • Succession
  • Acquisitive prescription

Obligations and Contracts[edit]

Law of obligations is defined as juridical necessity to give, to do or not do. A Contract is a meeting of the minds between two persons whereby one binds himself with respect to the other to give something or to render some service[8][9]

Torts and Damages[edit]

Developments in tort and damages law have been guided less by the Code than by judicial precedents. Damages can be incurred when there is harm done and what may be recovered arising from wrongful, unwrongful and tortuous act. Damages can be actual or compensatory, moral, nominal, temperate or moderate, liquidated and exemplary or corrective.[10]]

See also[edit]



  • Tolentino, Arturo (1990). Civil Code of the Philippines:Commentaries and Jurisprudence, Vol. I. Philippines: Central Lawbook Publishing Co., Inc. ISBN 971-16-0124-9.
  • Sempio-Diy, Alicia (1988). Handbook on the Family Code of the Philippines. Quezon City: Central Lawbook Publishing Co., Inc.
  • Paras, Edgardo (2008). Civil Code of the Philippines Annotated. Manila: Rex Bookstore.

External links[edit]