Samahang Optometrists sa Pilipinas v. Acebedo International Corporation

G.R. No. 117097, 21 March 1997

FACTS:

“On February 22, 1991, private respondent filed an application with the Office of the Mayor of Candon, Ilocos Sur, for the issuance of a permit for the opening and operation of a branch of the Acebedo Optical in that municipality. The application was opposed by the petitioner Samahan ng Optometrists sa Pilipinas (SOP) which contended that private respondent is a juridical entity not qualified to practice optometry.

On March 6, 1991, private respondent filed its answer, arguing it is not the corporation, but the optometrists employed by it, who would be practicing optometry. On April 17, 1991, the Mayor of Candon created a committee, composed of “public respondents Eduardo Ma. Guirnalda, Dante G. Pacquing and Octavio de Peralta, to pass on private respondent’s application.

On September 26, 1991 the committee rendered a decision denying private respondent’s application for a mayor’s permit to operate a branch in Candon and ordering to close its establishment within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the decision. Acebedo moved for a reconsideration but its motion was denied.

ISSUE:

May corporations, engaged in the business of selling optical wares, supplies, substances and instruments which, as an incident to and in the ordinary course of the business hire optometrists, be said to be practicing the profession of optometry which, by legal mandate, may only be engaged in by natural persons possessed of specific legal qualifications?

RULING:

Petitioners’ contentions are, however, untenable.

The fact that private respondent hires optometrists who practice their profession in the course of their employment in private respondent’s optical shops, does not translate into a practice of optometry by private respondent itself. Private respondent is a corporation created and organized for the purpose of conducting the business of selling optical lenses or eyeglasses, among others.

The clientele of private respondent understably, would largely be composed of persons with defective vision and thus need the proper lenses to correct the same and enable them to gain normal vision. The determination of the proper lenses to sell to private respondent’s clientele entails the employment of optometrists who have been precisely trained for that purpose.

Private respondent’s business is not the determination itself of the proper lenses needed by persons with defective vision. Private respondent’s business, rather, is the buying and importing of eyeglasses and lenses and other similar or allied instruments from suppliers thereof and selling the same to consumers. It is significant to note that even under RA. No. 8050, known as the Revised Optometry Law,[9] we find no prohibition against the hiring by corporations of optometrists.

All told, there is no law that prohibits the hiring by corporations of optometrists or considers the hiring by corporations of optometrists as a practice by the corporation itself of the profession of optometry.

*Case Digest by Bryne Angelo M. Brillantes, JD-IV, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2019-2020

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