Legally Yours

Manila Jockey Club v. Games and Amusements Board

Statutory Construction. Optimus interpres rerum usus.
Manila Jockey Club, Inc. v. Games and Amusements Board
G.R. No. L-12727 February 29, 1960

The authorized racing days specifically designated and distributed in Section 4 of Republic Act No. 309, the basic law on horse racing in the Philippines, as later amended by Republic Act No. 983, are as follows: 12 Sundays for Philippine Anti-Tuberculosis Society, 6 Sundays for PCSO, 4 Sundays White Cross, Inc.,1 Sunday for Grand Derby Race of Philippine Anti-Tuberculosis Society and 29  Sundays for private individuals and entities (30 for leap year). Republic Act No. 1502 increased the sweepstakes draw and races of the PCSO to twelve, but without specifying the days on which they are to be run. To accommodate these additional races, the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) resolved to reduce the number of Sundays assigned to private individuals and entities by six. Appellants protested, contending that the said increased should be taken from the 12 Saturdays reserved to the President, for charitable, relief, or civic purposes, or should be assigned to any other day of the week besides Sunday, Saturday, and legal holiday.

Whether or not the additional sweepstakes should be inserted in the club races in relation to the debate in the House of Representatives before voting on House Bill No. 5732

Legislative debates are expressive of the views and motives of individual members and are not safe guides and, hence, may not be resorted to in ascertaining the meaning and purpose of the lawmaking body. It is impossible to determine with certainty what construction was put upon an act by the members of the legislative body that passed the bill, by resorting to the speeches of the members thereof. Those who did not speak, may not have agreed with those who did; and those who spoke, might differ from each other. In view of these conflicting authorities, no appreciable reliance can safely be placed on any of them. It is to be noted in the specific case before us, that while Congressmen Marcos and Abeleda were, admittedly, of the view that the additional sweepstakes races may be inserted in the club races, still there is nothing in Republic Act No. 1502, as it was finally enacted, which would indicate that such an understanding on the part of these two members of the Lower House of Congress was received the sanction or conformity of their colleagues, for the law is absolutely devoid of any such indication. Upon the other hand, at the time of the enactment of Republic Act No. 1502 in June 1956, the long, continuous, and uniform practice was that all sweepstakes draws and races were held on Sundays and during the whole day. With this background, when Congress chose not to specify in express terms how the additional sweepstakes draws and races would be held, it is safe to conclude that it did not intend to disturb the then prevailing situation and practice. On the principle of contemporaneous exposition, common usage and practice under the statute, or a course of conduct indicating a particular undertaking of it, will frequently be of great value in determining its real meaning, especially where the usage has been acquired in by all parties concerned and has extended over a long period of time (Optimus interpres rerum usus).

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