The need to follow the law


IN THIS WORLD, every nation has its own law. Laws that would regulate the actions of people, to prohibit something, prescribe a certain act or punish a crime. But why do we need to follow the law?

Rolando Suarez, in his book Introduction to Law, explains that law, in its strict legal sense, is defined as a rule of conduct, just and obligatory, laid down by legitimate authority for common observance and benefit.

From this definition we could get the following answers to our question:

  1. It is a rule of conduct – Laws serve as guides of an individual in relation to his fellowmen and to his community.
  2. Must be just – As guides for human conduct, laws must always aim that justice should always prevail.
  3. Must be obligatory – It is imperative that laws must be enforced. If not, the purpose for its creation will not be served.
  4. Prescribed by legitimate authority – If laws are not prescribed by legitimate authority, the people could not be expected to follow them.
  5. For common benefit – laws are made for the protection, common good and benefit of the people. As stated in a latin maxim “Salus populi est suprema lex”. – The welfare of the people is the supreme law.

Therefore, one must follow the law because it aims to provide justice and it guides a person’s relationship with other people and the community. It must be obeyed because it is obligated by legitimate authority for the common good and benefit of all.

But as I continue my journey to fulfill my dream of becoming a lawyer, I found another answer to that question. For me it is the best answer that would justify why we need to follow the law. It was through the words of the late Justice Edgardo L. Paras, a former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. He stated in his book, the Civil Code of the Philippines, Book 1 that:

            “If an inventor in a moment of generosity should favor you with a gift of a complicated newly-invented machine, how would you make it work? The answer is simple: follow his instructions. Follow the manual’s instructions, and the machine will work. Disregard them, and the machine will simply refuse to function.

            “How can the human machine – this strange, lovable, complex machine called MAN, with its mortal body, and its eternal soul – be made to function well? The answer is also simple: follow the instruction of its Maker. Unless this is done, the human machine will become futile, senseless object, utterly incapable of fulfilling its destiny. These instructions from the Maker – we call the LAW.”   

Contributed by:

Prince Joyous Lising, a college debater who is currently taking up Law in a university in Quezon City, Philippines.

How to cite this article:

Prince Joyous Lising. “The need to follow the law” @


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