Category Archives: Statutory Construction

CALTEX (Philippines) Inc. v. Enrico Palomar as The Postmaster General, G.R. No. L-19650, 29 September 1966



Caltex launched its promo “Caltex Hooded Pump Contest”.

“No puzzles, no rhymes? You don’t need wrappers, labels or boxtops? You don’t have to buy anything? Simply estimate the actual number of liter the Caltex gas pump with the hood at your favorite Caltex dealer will dispense from — to —, and win valuable prizes . . . .”

In order to secure advance clearance for anticipated extensive use of mails, Caltex provided the Postmaster General a copy of the contest rules and endeavored to justify its position that the contest does not violate the anti-lottery provisions of the Postal Law.

SECTION 1954. Absolutely non-mailable matter. — x x x.

Written or printed matter x x x concerning any lottery, gift enterprise, or similar scheme depending in whole or in part upon lot or chance, or any scheme, device, or enterprise for obtaining any money or property of any kind by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises.

“SECTION 1982. Fraud orders.—Upon satisfactory evidence that any person or company is engaged in conducting any lottery, gift enterprise, or scheme for the distribution of money, x x x the Director of Posts may x x x return to the person, depositing the same in the mails, with the word “fraudulent” plainly written or stamped upon the outside cover thereof, x x x.

SECTION 1983. Deprivation of use of money order system and telegraphic transfer service.—The Director of Posts may, upon evidence satisfactory to him that any person or company is engaged in conducting any lottery, gift enterprise or scheme for the distribution of money, x x x forbid the issue or payment by any postmaster of any postal money order or telegraphic transfer xxx.

The Postmaster General declined to grant the requested clearance, relying on Opinion 217 issued by the Secretary of Justice. Caltex thereupon invoked judicial intervention by filing the present petition for declaratory relief against Postmaster General Enrico Palomar, praying “that judgment be rendered declaring its ‘Caltex Hooded Pump Contest’ not to be violative of the Postal Law, and ordering respondent to allow petitioner the use of the mails to bring the contest to the attention of the public”. The Postmaster General argued that there is no question of construction because he “simply applied the clear provisions of the law to a given set of facts as embodied in the rules of the contest”, hence, there is no room for declaratory relief.



(1) Do we need to apply rules of construction to determine if “Caltex Hooded Pump Contest” promo violates the Postal Law?

(2) What is the correct construction of the terms “lottery” and “gift enterprise” in relation to the Postal Law?

(3) Whether “consideration” as an element of “lottery” also applies to “gift enterprise”.



(1) YES.

Construction, verily, is the art or process of discovering and expounding the meaning and intention of the authors of the law with respect to its application to a given case, where that intention is rendered doubtful, amongst others, by reason of the fact that the given case is not explicitly provided for in the law . This is precisely the case here. Whether or not the scheme proposed by the appellee is within the coverage of the prohibitive provisions of the Postal Law inescapably requires an inquiry into the intended meaning of the words used therein. To our mind, this is as much a question of construction or interpretation as any other.

(2) The term “lottery” extends to all schemes for the distribution of prizes by chance, such as policy playing, gift exhibitions, prize concerts, raffles at fairs, etc., and various forms of gambling. The three essential elements of a lottery are: First, consideration; second, prize; and third, chance.Nowhere in the said rules is any requirement that any fee be paid, any merchandise be bought, any service be rendered, or any value whatsoever be given for the privilege to participate. A prospective contestant has but to go to a Caltex station, request for the entry form which is available on demand, and accomplish and submit the same for the drawing of the winner. Viewed from all angles or turned inside out, the contest fails to exhibit any discernible consideration which would brand it as a lottery. Indeed, even as we head the stern injunction, “look beyond the fair exterior, to the substance, in order to unmask the real element and pernicious tendencies which the law is seeking to prevent”, we find none. In our appraisal, the scheme does not only appear to be, but actually is, a gratuitous distribution of property by chance.

While an all-embracing concept of the term “gift enterprise” is yet to be spelled out in explicit words, there appears to be a consensus among lexicographers and standard authorities that the term is commonly applied to a sporting artifice of under which goods are sold for their market value but by way of inducement each purchaser is given a chance to win a prize. As thus conceived, the term clearly cannot embrace the scheme at bar. As already noted, there is no sale of anything to which the chance offered is attached as an inducement to the purchaser. The contest is open to all qualified contestants irrespective of whether or not they buy the appellee’s (Caltex) products.

(3) YES.

[I]n the Postal Law, the term in question is used in association with the word “lottery”. With the meaning of lottery settled, and consonant to the well-known principle of legal hermeneutics noscitur a sociis — which Opinion 217 aforesaid also relied upon although only insofar as the element of chance is concerned — it is only logical that the term under a construction should be accorded no other meaning than that which is consistent with the nature of the word associated therewith. Hence, if lottery is prohibited only if it involves a consideration, so also must the term “gift enterprise” be so construed. Significantly, there is not in the law the slightest indicium of any intent to eliminate that element of consideration from the “gift enterprise” therein included.

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Posted by on June 29, 2016 in Case Digests, Statutory Construction


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Philippine Guardians Brotherhood, Inc. (PGBI) v. Commission on Elections [G.R. No. 190529. April 29, 2010]

PHILIPPINE GUARDIANS BROTHERHOOD, INC. (PGBI) represented by its Secretary General George “FGBF George” Duldulaopetitioner,

[G.R. No. 190529. April 29, 2010]


Respondent delisted petitioner, a party list organization, from the roster of registered national, regional or sectoral parties, organizations or coalitions under the party-list system through its resolution, denying also the latter’s motion for reconsideration, in accordance with Section 6(8) of Republic Act No. 7941 (RA 7941), otherwise known as the Party-List System Act, which provides:

Section 6. Removal and/or Cancellation of Registration. – The COMELEC may motu proprio or upon verified complaint of any interested party, remove or cancel, after due notice and hearing, the registration of any national, regional or sectoral party, organization or coalition on any of the following grounds:

x  x  x  x

(8) It fails to participate in the last two (2) preceding elections or fails to obtain at least two per centum (2%) of the votes cast under the party-list system in the two (2) preceding elections for the constituency in which it has registered.[Emphasis supplied.]

Petitioner was delisted because it failed to get 2% of the votes cast in 2004 and it did not participate in the 2007 elections.  Petitioner filed its opposition to the resolution citing among others the misapplication in the ruling of MINERO v. COMELEC, but was denied for lack of merit. Petitioner elevated the matter to SC showing the excerpts from the records of Senate Bill No. 1913 before it became the law in question.


Political Law

(1)  Whether or not there is legal basis in the delisting of PGBI.

(2)  Whether or not PGBI’s right to due process was violated.

Civil Law (Statutory Construction)

(1)  Whether or not the doctrine of judicial precedent applies in this case.


Political Law

(1)  No. The MINERO ruling is an erroneous application of Section 6(8) of RA 7941; hence, it cannot sustain PGBI’s delisting from the roster of registered national, regional or sectoral parties, organizations or coalitions under the party-list system. First, the law is in the plain, clear and unmistakable language of the law which provides for two (2) separate reasons for delisting. SecondMINERO is diametrically opposed to the legislative intent of Section 6(8) of RA 7941, as PGBI’s cited congressional deliberations clearly show. MINERO therefore simply cannot stand.

(2)  No. On the due process issue, petitioner’s right to due process was not violated for [it] was given an opportunity to seek, as it did seek, a reconsideration of [COMELEC resolution].  The essence of due process, consistently held, is simply the opportunity to be heard; as applied to administrative proceedings, due process is the opportunity to explain one’s side or the opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of.  A formal or trial-type hearing is not at all times and in all instances essential.  The requirement is satisfied where the parties are afforded fair and reasonable opportunity to explain their side of the controversy at hand. What is frowned upon is absolute lack of notice and hearing x  x  x. [It is] obvious [that] under the attendant circumstances that PGBI was not denied due process.

Civil Law (Statutory Construction)

(1)  No. This case is an exception to the application of the principle of stare decisis. The doctrine of stare decisis et non quieta movere (to adhere to precedents and not to unsettle things which are established) is embodied in Article 8 of the Civil Code of the Philippines which provides, thus:

ART. 8. Judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system of the Philippines.

The doctrine enjoins adherence to judicial precedents.  It requires courts in a country to follow the rule established in a decision of its Supreme Court.  That decision becomes a judicial precedent to be followed in subsequent cases by all courts in the land.  The doctrine of stare decisis is based on the principle that once a question of law has been examined and decided, it should be deemed settled and closed to further argument.

The doctrine though is not cast in stone for upon a showing that circumstances attendant in a particular case override the great benefits derived by [SC’s] judicial system from the doctrine of stare decisis, the Court is justified in setting it aside. MINERO did unnecessary violence to the language of the law, the intent of the legislature, and to the rule of law in general.  Clearly, [SC] cannot allow PGBI to be prejudiced by the continuing validity of an erroneous ruling.  Thus, [SC] now abandons MINERO and strike it out from [the] ruling case law.


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


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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Yakult Phils. and Larry Salvado vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 91856. October 05, 1990)

COURT OF APPEALS, WENCESLAO M. POLO, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of Br. 19 of the RTC of Manila, and ROY CAMASO, respondents.

Tomas R. Leonidas for petitioners.

David B. Agoncillo for private respondent.



Petitioner was charged with the crime of reckless imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries. Later, a complaint for damages was filed by respondent represented by his father, against petitioners in the Regional Trial Court. Trial court rendered decision awarding damages to respondents. Petitioners’ appealed on the thesis  that the civil action for damages for injuries arising from alleged criminal negligence of Salvado, being without malice, cannot be filed independently of the criminal action under Article 33 of the Civil Code. Further, it is contended that under Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure such a separate civil action may not be filed unless reservation thereof is expressly made. The appeal was dismissed.


Whether or not a civil action instituted after the criminal action was filed, before presentation of evidence by the prosecution, would prosper even if there was no reservation to file a separate civil action.


YES. Petition was denied. Decision of the Court of Appeals was affirmed.


[T]he civil action for the recovery of civil liability is impliedly instituted with the criminal action unless the offended party waives the civil action, reserves his right to institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action. Such civil action includes recovery of indemnity under the Revised Penal Code, and damages under Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code of the Philippines arising from the same act or omission of the accused. The purpose of this rule requiring reservation is to prevent the offended party from recovering damages twice for the same act or omission.

Although the separate civil action filed in this case was without previous reservation in the criminal case, nevertheless since it was instituted before the prosecution presented evidence in the criminal action, and the judge handling the criminal case was informed thereof, then the actual filing of the civil action is even far better than a compliance with the requirement of an express reservation that should be made by the offended party before the prosecution presents its evidence.

Procedural laws have retroactive application.


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Albino Co vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 100776. October 28, 1993)

ALBINO S. CO, petitioner,

Antonio P. Barredo for petitioner.

The Solicitor General for the people.

Ponente: NARVASA


A criminal complaint for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 was filed by the salvage company against petitioner with the Regional Trial Court. The case eventuated in petitioner’s conviction of the crime charged on the basis that a check issued merely to guarantee the performance of an obligation is nevertheless covered by B.P. Blg. 22. Pending litigation, Ministry of Justice Circular No. 4 (which excludes guarantee check from application of B.P. Blg. 22) was subsequently reversed by Ministry Circular No. 12 which ruled that a check issued merely to guarantee the performance of an obligation is nevertheless covered by B.P. Blg. 22. Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals. There he sought exoneration upon the theory that it was reversible error for the Regional Trial Court but the Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction.


Whether or not Ministry Circular No. 12 dated August 8, 1984 declaring the guarantee check will no longer be considered as a valid defense be retroactively applied.


NO. Decision of the Court of Appeals and RTC were set aside. Criminal prosecution against accused-petitioner was dismissed.


It would seem that the weight of authority is decidedly in favor of the proposition that the Court’s decision of September 21, 1987 in Que v. People, 154 SCRA 160 (1987) that a check issued merely to guarantee the performance of an obligation is nevertheless covered by B.P. Blg. 22 — should not be given retrospective effect to the prejudice of the petitioner and other persons situated, who relied on the official opinion of the Minister of Justice that such a check did not fall within the scope of B.P. Blg. 22.

This is after all a criminal action all doubts in which, pursuant to familiar, fundamental doctrine, must be resolved in favor of the accused. Everything considered, the Court sees no compelling reason why the doctrine of mala prohibita should override the principle of prospectivity, and its clear implications as herein above set out and discussed, negating criminal liability.


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Balatbat vs. Court of Appeals and Pasion (G.R. No. 36378. January 27, 1992)

PIO BALATBAT, petitioner,

Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance for petitioner.

Roberto Y. Miranda for private respondent.

Ponente: DAVIDE


Petitioner is the agricultural lessee of a parcel of land located at Santiago, Sta. Ana, Pampanga which is owned by Daniel Garcia. The latter sold the land to private respondent Domingo Pasion and had declared for taxation purposes. Sometime after the sale, respondent, on a claim that he will personally cultivate the land, filed with the Court of Agrarian Relations a complaint to eject petitioner alleging therein that he had notified petitioner of his intention to personally cultivate the landholding, but despite the lapse of one (1) agricultural year from receipt of the notice thereof, petitioner refused to vacate the land.

In his amended answer with counterclaim, petitioner denied having received any notice from the private respondent and by way of special and affirmative defenses. The trial court ruled against petitioner. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court.


Whether or not the Court of Appeals correctly gave retroactive application to Section 7 of RA 6389.


No. Petition was dismissed for want of merit.


The Supreme Court ruled that Section 7 of R.A. No. 6389 cannot be given retroactive effect because, while during the debates on the bill which was eventually enacted into Republic Act No. 6389, there were statements made on the floor that “the owner will lose the right to eject after the enactment of this measure” even in cases where the owner has not really succeeded in ejecting the tenants. Congress failed to express an intention to make Republic Act No. 6389 retroactive and to cover ejectment cases on the ground of personal cultivation then pending adjudication by the courts.

Since under the original provision of Section 36(1) of R.A. No. 3844, the dispossession of the agricultural lessee on the ground of personal cultivation by the agricultural lessor-owner can only take place when “authorized by the Court in a judgment that is final and executory,” it follows then that since the repeal of the provision took effect before the judgment in this case became final and executory, private respondent may no longer dispossess petitioner on that ground because it had been removed from the statute books.


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Gallardo vs. Borromeo (G.R. No. L-36007. May 25, 1988)

FERNANDO GALLARDO, petitioner-appellant,
JUAN BORROMEO, respondent-appellee.

Joselito Coloma for petitioner.

Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance for respondent.



Appeal by certiorari to review the decision of Court of Appeals affirming in toto the decision dated April 2, 1971 of the Court of Agrarian Relations, dismissing the complaint which the petitioner Fernando Gallardo filed on to terminate the leasehold of the respondent tenant so he (plaintfff) may cultivate it himself as he had retired from his government job as a letter carrier. The respondent alleged that the petitioner has no knowledge of filing and that his only purpose is to eject the respondent filing from the landholding. Applying Section 7, Republic Act 6389, it held that the landowner’s desire to cultivate the land himself is not a valid ground for dispossessing the tenant.


Whether or not the Court of Appeals correctly gave retroactive application to Section 7 of RA 6389.


NO. Decision of Court of Appeals  and Agrarian Court were set aside. Respondent-appellee ordered to vacate leasehold and surrender its possession to petitioner-appelant.


Since Congress failed to express intention to make RA 6389 retroactive, it may not apply to ejectment cases then already pending adjudication by the courts. A sound canon of statutory construction is that statute operates prospectively only and never retroactively, unless the legislative intent to threatened contrary is made manifest either by the express terms of the statute or by necessary implication. … No court will hold a statute to be retroactive when the legislature has not said so.

Article 4 of the New Civil Code provides that “laws shall have no retroactive effect unless therein otherwise provided,”


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