Stores not allowed to sell liquor to minors

Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I would like to file a complaint against a certain restaurant, which is located 25 meters from the school where my son is enrolled. I discovered that my son and his classmates are taking alcoholic drinks in this establishment during classes.

I have already called the attention of barangay (village) officials having territorial jurisdiction over the area but no action was made. Is there any law being violated by this establishment? Is there any law regulating its distance from the school?

Dear Paldo,
The law that governs the distance of liquor stores and other establishments is Republic Act (RA) 938 which states:

“The municipal or city board or council or each chartered city and the municipal council of each municipality and municipal district shall have the power to regulate or prohibit by ordinance the establishment, maintenance and operation of night clubs, cabarets, dancing schools, pavilions, cockpits, bars, saloons, bowling alleys, billiard pools and other similar places of amusement within its territorial jurisdiction: Provided, however, that such places of amusement mentioned herein shall be established, maintained and/or operated within a radius of two hundred lineal meters in the case of night clubs, cabarets, pavilions or other similar places, and fifty lineal meters in the case of dancing schools, bars, saloons, billiard pools, bowling alleys or other similar places, except cockpits, the distance of which shall be to the discretion of the municipal or city board or council, from any public building, schools, hospitals and churches: Provided, further, that no municipal or city ordinance fixing distances at which such places of amusement may be established or operated shall apply to the subsequent opening of any public building or other premises from which distances shall be measured prejudice any place of amusement already then licensed and operating, but any such place of amusement established within fifty lineal meters from any school, hospital or church shall be so constructed that the noise coming therefrom shall not disturb those in the school, hospital or church, and, if such noise causes such disturbance then such place of amusement shall not operate during school hours when near a school, or at night when near a hospital, or when there are religious services when near a church. Provided, furthermore, that no minor shall be admitted to any bar, saloon, cabaret or night club employing hostesses. Xxx xxx.”

In your case, you have to verify with the local government unit having territorial jurisdiction in your place to ascertain whether it has enacted any local ordinance governing the distances from schools to be observed by these establishments. If there is none, then the above-mentioned law is applicable.

Selling of liquors to minors is prohibited under Sections 3 and 4 of Presidential Decree (PD) 1619, which penalizes the use or possession or unauthorized sale to minors or volatile substances for the purpose of inducing intoxication or in any manner changing, distorting or disturbing the auditory, visual or mental process.

Thus, even if the store or establishment has not violated any ordinance or law regulating the distance to be observed between the store and the school, the establishment or store may still be made liable under PD 1619 for selling liquors to minor.

Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to


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