Digest: Calalang vs Williams


G.R. No. 47800 December 2, 1940

Doctrine: Social Justice                   




The National Traffic Commission, in its resolution of July 17, 1940, resolved to recommend to the Director of the Public Works and to the Secretary of Public Works and Communications that animal-drawn vehicles be prohibited from passing along the following for a period of one year from the date of the opening of the Colgante Bridge to traffic:

1) Rosario Street extending from Plaza Calderon de la Barca to Dasmariñas

Street from 7:30Am to 12:30 pm and from 1:30 pm to 530 pm; and

2)  along Rizal Avenue extending from the railroad crossing at Antipolo Street to

Echague Street from 7 am to 11pm

The Chairman of the National Traffic Commission on July 18, 1940 recommended to the Director of Public Works with the approval of the Secretary of Public Works the adoption of thethemeasure proposed in the resolution aforementioned in pursuance of the provisions of theCommonwealth Act No. 548 which authorizes said Director with the approval from the Secretary of the Public Works and Communication to promulgate rules and regulations to regulate and control the use of and traffic on national roads.

On August 2, 1940, the Director recommended to the Secretary the approval of the recommendations made by the Chairman of the National Traffic Commission with modifications. The Secretary of Public Works approved the recommendations on August 10,1940. The Mayor of Manila and the Acting Chief of Police of Manila have enforced and caused to be enforced the rules and regulation. As a consequence, all animal-drawn vehicles are not allowed to pass and pick up passengers in the places above mentioned to the detriment not only of their owners but of the riding public as well.


1) Whether the rules and regulations promulgated by the respondents pursuant to the provisions of Commonwealth Act NO. 548 constitute an unlawful inference with legitimate business or trade and abridged the right to personal liberty and freedom of locomotion?

2) Whether the rules and regulations complained of infringe upon the constitutional precept regarding the promotion of social justice to insure the well-being and economic security of all the people?


1) No. The promulgation of the Act aims to promote safe transit upon and avoid obstructions on national roads in the interest and convenience of the public. In enacting said law, the National Assembly was prompted by considerations of public convenience and welfare. It was inspired by the desire to relieve congestion of traffic, which is a menace to the public safety. Public welfare lies at the bottom of the promulgation of the said law and the state in order to promote the general welfare may interfere with personal liberty, with property, and with business and occupations. Persons and property may be subject to all kinds of restraints and burdens in order to secure the general comfort, health, and prosperity of the State. To this fundamental aims of the government, the rights of the individual are subordinated. Liberty is a blessing which should not be made to prevail over authority because society will fall into anarchy. Neither should authority be made to prevail over liberty because then the individual will fall into slavery. The paradox lies in the fact that the apparent curtailment of liberty is precisely the very means of insuring its preserving.

2) No. Social justice is “neither communism, nor despotism, nor atomism, nor anarchy,” but the humanization of laws and the equalization of social and economic forces by the State so that justice in its rational and objectively secular conception may  at least be approximated. Social justice means the promotion of the welfare of all the people, the adoption by the Government of measures calculated to insure economic stability of all the competent elements of society, through the maintenance of a proper economic and social equilibrium in the interrelations of the members of the community, constitutionally, through the adoption of measures legally justifiable, or extra-constitutionally, through the exercise of powers underlying the existence of all governments on the time-honored principles of salus populi estsuprema lex.

Social justice must be founded on the recognition of the necessity of interdependence among divers and diverse units of a society and of the protection that should be equally and evenly extended to all groups as a combined force in our social and economic life, consistent with the fundamental and paramount objective of the state of promoting health, comfort and quiet of all persons, and of bringing about “the greatest good to the greatest number.”


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