Remarks of His Excellency, Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, before the members of the Code Committee, Manila, April 19, 1944:

I am more interested now in having a new Civil Code because it is the most important phase of codification in any country, involving as it does, general principles governing private relationships, including family, marriage, divorce, property, succession, and obligations and contracts. Any philosophy which should be laid down must be comprehensive enough to cover all these fields.

The Civil Code should be divided into five parts; namely, General Principles, Persons and Family Relations, Property, Succession, and Obligations and Contracts.

With respect to the book on General Principles, it should be so modified as to keep pace with the advance of science. For instance regarding viability. Under the present Civil Code, the human fetus must have a human form and must live for 24 hours before it is considered born, with the result that a child completely separated from the womb but which lives for only 10 hours, is not a person and, therefore, not having legal personality, it cannot be the subject of legal rights and obligations. This is ridiculous because I see no difference between a child which lives for 24 hours and one which lives for 10 hours. There ought to be a scientific test, therefore, for viability. Any general principle to be formulated must keep pace with the advance of science. With respect to the book on Persons and Family Relations, the fundamental idea should be to achieve solidification and integration of family life. Perhaps, we may have to go back by preserving the paternal authority for the purpose of integrating the Filipino family as an essential unit in the formation of the Filipino nation.

With respect to the book on Property, this should accord greater recognition to the supremacy of collective interest more than to rights incidental in ownerships, that is, we should subordinate individual property rights to the collective interest of the nation, perhaps even to the extent of deprivation of property without compensation, if and when necessary to uphold the far greater interest of the community. Of course, this must be subject to limitations but that is the philosophy I entertain in that respect.

With respect to the book on Obligations and Contracts, the tendency should be towards greater recognition and respect of the human personality rather than of the freedom of contract. For instance, under article 1584 of the Civil Code, when a domestic servant is hired without any definite term and other conditions, the master may dismiss him at any time depending on his caprice, in the same way that he deals with a horse or a carabao. The point is that there is a difference between human beings and beasts of burden. Social interest must intervene, therefore, in the relation between man and man with a view to giving greater protection to the human personality rather than to the freedom of contract.

I have called you to this meeting for the purpose of seeing to it that our legislation is kept abreast of the advances made by science in the same way that I have convoked conferences with the leaders in other fields, as for example in the educational and scientific fields. I hope that with the objectives that have laid down, we might be able to precipitate within the shortest possible time the promulgation of the Civil Code reflecting the customs, traditions, and idiosyncrasies of the Filipino people. Previous generations of heroes and martyrs have left to us in order that we may find life richer and more satisfying. I trust that this period of training which you will undergo will perfect the basis of this new consecration so that you may go back to your respective responsibilities and positions deeply renewed and strengthened and with a much deeper faith in your individual selves and in your own people.

Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library