Magtajas vs. Pryce Properties and PAGCOR (G.R. No 111097. July 20, 1994)

01 Jun


Aquilino G. Pimentel, Jr. and Associates for petitioners.

R.R. Torralba & Associates for private respondent.

Ponente: CRUZ


The Sangguniang Panlunsod enacted Ordinance No. 3353 prohibiting the operation of casino followed by Ordinance No. 3375-93 providing penalty therefor. Petitioners also attack gambling as intrinsically harmful and cite various provisions of the Constitution and several decisions of this Court expressive of the general and official disapprobation of the vice. They invoke the State policies on the family and the proper upbringing of the youth.


Whether or not Ordinace No. 3355 and Ordinance No. 3375-93 as enacted by the Sangguniang Panlunsod of Cagayan de Oro City are valid.


NO. Petition was denied. Decision of respondent Court of Appeals was affirmed.


The morality of gambling is not a justiciable issue. Gambling is not illegal per se. While it is generally considered inimical to the interests of the people, there is nothing in the Constitution categorically proscribing or penalizing gambling or, for that matter, even mentioning it at all. It is left to Congress to deal with the activity as it sees fit. In the exercise of its own discretion, the legislature may prohibit gambling altogether or allow it without limitation or it may prohibit some forms of gambling and allow others for whatever reasons it may consider sufficient. Thus, it has prohibited jueteng and monte but permits lotteries, cockfighting and horse-racing. In making such choices, Congress has consulted its own wisdom, which this Court has no authority to review, much less reverse. Well has it been said that courts do not sit to resolve the merits of conflicting theories.

The tests of a valid ordinance are well established. A long line of decisions has held that to be valid, an ordinance must conform to the following substantive requirements:

1) It must not contravene the constitution or any statute.

2) It must not be unfair or oppressive.

3) It must not be partial or discriminatory.

4) It must not prohibit but may regulate trade.

5) It must be general and consistent with public policy.

6) It must not be unreasonable.

The rationale of the requirement that the ordinances should not contravene a statute is obvious. Municipal governments are only agents of the national government. Local councils exercise only delegated legislative powers conferred on them by Congress as the national lawmaking body. The delegate cannot be superior to the principal or exercise powers higher than those of the latter. It is a heresy to suggest that the local government units can undo the acts of Congress, from which they have derived their power in the first place, and negate by mere ordinance the mandate of the statute.


PADILLA, concurring

[I]t is my considered view that the national government (through PAGCOR) should re-examine and re-evaluate its decision of imposing the gambling casino on the residents of Cagayan de Oro City; for it is abundantly clear that public opinion in the city is very much against it, and again the question must be seriously deliberated: will the prospects of revenue to be realized from the casino outweigh the further destruction of the Filipino sense of values?

DAVIDE, concurring

The nullification by the Court of Appeals of the challenged ordinances as unconstitutional primarily because it is in contravention to P.D. No. 1869 is unwarranted. A contravention of a law is not necessarily a contravention of the constitution. In any case, the ordinances can still stand even if they be conceded as offending P.D. No. 1869. They can be reconciled, which is not impossible to do. So reconciled, the ordinances should be construed as not applying to PAGCOR.


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