The Supreme Court has cleared Pepsi-Cola of any liability for a promotional flap that sparked lawsuits and riots 14 years ago.
The June 15 decision, made public Tuesday, found "no proof of negligence" by Pepsi and said the company should not be held liable for damages.
"This should be the defining decision. The lower courts are bound by this decision," said Court spokesman Ismael Khan, referring to numerous suits against Pepsi still pending in trial courts around the country.
In the 1992 "Number Fever" sales campaign, Pepsi-Cola Philippines Inc. offered prizes of up to P1 million to holders of bottle caps with winning numbers.
When the number "349" was announced on May 25, 1992, tens of thousands of Filipinos claimed the…show more content… Spreading her collection of caps on a table, Victoria Angelo screamed, "We are a millionaire!"
Her voice ringing with excitement, she recalled that she turned to her family: "I tell my children you can finish school and go to college. I tell my husband he can buy a (passenger jeep). I tell myself we can buy a real house. Can you imagine? It is a dream come true!"
But her dream has become a nightmare for New York-based Pepsico Inc. In a marketing mistake that surely must rank among the world 's worst, Pepsi had announced the wrong number. Instead of a single 1-million-peso winner, up to 800,000 bottle caps marked 349 had been printed. And tens of thousands of Filipinos soon began demanding billions of dollars that Pepsi refuses to pay.
The dispute - on which Pepsi has spent millions of dollars - has sparked a Cola War, Philippines-style. Pepsi records show that at least 32 delivery trucks have been stoned, torched or overturned. Armed men have thrown homemade bombs at Pepsi plants and offices.
In the worst incident, police say a fragmentation grenade tossed at a parked Pepsi truck in a Manila suburb Feb. 13 bounced off and killed a schoolteacher and a 5-year-old girl and wounded six other people.
Pepsi executives here have gotten so many death threats they use round-the-clock bodyguards and vary office hours and travel. Heavily armed guards ride Pepsi trucks. The company has withdrawn all but two non-Filipino officials, leaving in charge