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TOPIC Interpretation of Penal Laws Section 1: (special arrangement mine)
CASE NO. G.R. No. L-12891 (1917) any person who shall:
CASE NAME The United States v. Filomeno Estapia et al a. maintain a cockpit for the fighting of cocks, or
b. engage in cockfighting in a cockpit, or
c. attend as a spectator of cockfighting in a cockpit,
PETITIONER The United States represented by Acting on any day when cockfighting is not lawfully licensed to take place
Attorney-General by the municipality in which the cockpit is situate, shall be punished
RESPONDENT Filomeno Estapia et al.
TYPE OF Appeal Section 2: (special arrangement mine)
CASE any person who shall:
MEMBER Lead Dampil a. maintain or take in a game of chance in a cockpit,
whether the cockpit be lawfully licensed or not, shall be punished
Get ready, the case is jampacked with StatCon rules.
Argument of the Attorney-General:
ISSUE A “cockpit” is any place where a cockfight takes place, as it’s
1. W/N Estapia and his friends are in violation of Act 480? (No) also had always been construed by the Collector of Internal
1.) The police caught Estapia and his friends taking part in an 1. NO, Estapia and his friends are not in violation of Act No. 480.
Ihaway (ihaw + away? lol), either as a principal or a spectator,
in a ring beneath a buri palm near a recently constructed house 1ST RULE: Ut Res Magis Valeat Quam Pereat (all the words of a
a. it’s a type of cockfight where the losing cock will be statute are to be given some meaning so that when the
eaten by the two competing cock-owners legislator makes use of words of limitation, he must be
presumed to have intended to limit and restrict the word or idea
2.) BUT nothing else on the record would tend to show that: with reference to which such words of limitation applied)
a. the ring beneath a buri palm had ever been used for
cockfighting on any other time; or APPLICATION: All prohibitions on cockfighting is qualified by the
b. at that time, more than one cockfight took place; or phrase “in a cockpit.” If cockfighting means exactly the same
c. that any wager or bet was made on the fight (other than thing as “cockfighting in a cockpit”, then why would the
that the losing cock will be eaten) legislator even bother stating the latter rather than the former?

3.) NEVERTHELESS, proof of these facts judgment was entered

in the court below convicting the defendants of a violation of
Act No. 480. The pertinent provisions state:

2ND RULE: Penal Provisions of a Statute are Construed Strictly – It Spanish Definition Rule (Special for the Philippines)
can’t be construed that when the legislator penalizes the Although where a statute is promulgated in English and
commission of an act on certain specific occasions, he Spanish, the English shall govern, the Spanish may be
intends to penalize it on all occasions. consulted to explain the English text in case of ambiguity. The
equivalent Spanish word gallera conveys a stricter idea of a
APPLICATION: To hold that the Act penalized unlicensed cockfighting place specially and expressly designed for the conduct of
on all occasions and wherever it may take place, despite the cockfighting.
fact that these particular penalties are especially limited to
unlicensed cockfighting in a cockpit, would run counter to IN THIS CASE: nothing on the record would tend to show that
both the spirit and the letter of this rule. the ring under the buri palm had ever been used for cockfighting
on any other time; or that at least no preparations were
Note: the first two rules were made to prove that the qualifying term especially made by the owners of a couple of birds betake
“cockpit” must be given effect. Now, the court will try to construe themselves on a single occasion for a single encounter.
what “cockpit” actually means.

3RD RULE: Noscitur A Sociis – where a particular word or term is 4TH RULE: An Administrative or Executive Interpretation of a
ambiguous in itself, its correct construction may be made clear statute shall be given high persuasive value in matters
and specific by considering the company of words in which it is concerning the expertise of that department or agency.
found or with which it is associated.
APPLICATION: Although the Collector of Internal Revenue, has
APPLICATION: The provisions concerning the maintenance of the always construed a “cockpit” as any place where a cockfight
cockpit [see Sec. 1(a), and Sec. 2(a)] clearly indicates that the takes place, Act No. 480 is a Penal Statute – not a
legislator intended the word “cockpit” to be understood as some Revenue Statute. Thus the CIR’s construction can’t apply.
a.) especially designed for use by cockfighters, or MOREOVER: “In view of the penal character of the statute, the
b.) which upon a single occasion, and without special courts should not be convinced by any construction placed
preparation, a single encounter takes place between the birds. upon it by the executive officers of the government, even if the
language were fairly susceptible of the meaning place upon it
SUPPORT: by those officers.”
Plain Meaning Rule
A “cockpit: is commonly and popularly understood (by culture
and dictionaries) to mean any place especially designed for DISPOSITIVE POSITION
use by the cockfighters for frequent use. WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from should be REVERSED,
and the accused acquitted of the offense of which they were convicted.

Note: The main case never delved into how the prosecution had the
fatal mistake of failing to prove that a wager or bet was made during
the ihaway – which constitutes the element of “consideration” in the
game of chance. But the dissenting opinion briefly discusses it.


Main Idea:
The purpose of this section is absolutely to prohibit
cockfighting, except on certain specific days. Betting is not an
essential element of the offense. We should consider how the
executive department construes how a “cockpit” is understood.