ASLI Working Paper Series

Publication Title The Problem of Standing in Philippine Law
Publisher Asian Law Institute
Series WPS003
Publication Date Jul 2009
Author/Speaker Solomon Lumba
Law is like a virtual machine. Its parts are rules, principles, doctrines, and other constructs which cannot be seen, touched, tasted, heard or smelled because they exist primarily in our minds. However, it is not without ‘real world’ effects. For instance, the separate personality of a corporation may be a legal fiction, but it is a fiction that has facilitated the tremendous concentration of wealth which is arguably one of the driving forces for the Industrial Revolution.

As with other machines, law can sometimes be dysfunctional, either because its parts do not mesh or, whether they mesh or not, because it no longer produces the desired real world effects. Sometimes, this dysfunctionality can be ignored, as when it works ‘well enough’. However, when it can no longer be ignored, it may become necessary to tweak its parts, create new parts, or overhaul it entirely. Such is the case for the Philippine law on standing. As currently formulated, its parts are not fitted in a way that is coherent. Neither can it be applied in an acceptably consistent manner as to provide meaningful guidance to anyone in terms of real world effects.

The purpose of this paper is four-fold. The first is to offer a slight shift in perspective with which to view the various parts of Philippine standing law. This perspective will be based on the relationship between interests and rights of action. The second is to use this perspective to fit the various parts in a manner that is acceptably coherent, not only as between themselves, but with Philippine law in general. The third is to suggest dispensing with some parts and recasting old ones to make standing law simpler and more powerful in producing real world effects. The fourth is to test the efficacy of all the foregoing by applying it to some landmark decisions in the Philippines and the United States.
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