Before a bill becomes a law, it undergoes a rigorous parliamentary process. A bill filed by a lawmaker is deliberated upon by a committee before it is subjected to three (3) separate readings by the lower or upper house. A bi-cameral committee is then created consisting of members of both the lower and upper house to consolidate the conflicting provisions of their respective versions of the bill. The consolidated version shall then be submitted to both houses to be ratified. This ratified version is called the enrolled bill and is submitted to the President for approval or disapproval.
There are instances, however, when a bill is neither signed (approved) nor vetoed (disapproved). According to Sec. 27 (2) Article VI of the Constitution, when a bill remains unsigned for 30 days without being vetoed, the bill lapses into a law.
One of the controversial bills that lapsed into law recently is Senate Bill (S.B.) 2239, now known as the “Vape Law”. The enrolled bill was transmitted to the former President Rodrigo Duterte on June 24, 2022. It has neither been signed nor vetoed by both the former and incumbent presidents. Hence, it lapsed into law last July 24, 2022.
However, this does not mean that the law has already taken effect. According to Article 2 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, “[l]aws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette.”
As of the time of this writing, the enrolled bill of the “Vape Law” has not yet been published in the Official Gazette. This means that its provisions have yet to have a legal effect.
Despite the controversy surrounding the passing of the “Vape Law” into law, vapers and subject-matter experts alike are applauding the pragmatic and risk-proportionate approach of the government in regulating tobacco and other nicotine products. “Although the fight isn’t over, the Vape Law is a right step towards saving the lives of tobacco smokers all over the country. We must still fight against the ‘quit or die’ stigma that many people have for our smokers and let smokers know that there are less harmful alternatives to help them quit tobacco smoking,” Peter Dator, Vapers PH.