2DE LA CERNA SPECPRO DIGESTS 2011 AMIN | CHA | JANZ | KRIZEL | VIEN
Villavicencio v. Lukban
Justo Lukban, who was then the Mayor of the City of Manila, ordered the deportationof 170 prostitutes to Davao. His reason for doing so was to preserve the morals of the people of Manila. He claimed that the prostitutes were sent to Davao,purportedly, to work for an haciendero Feliciano Ynigo. The prostitutes wereconfined in houses from October 16 to 18 of that year before being boarded, at thedead of night, in two boats bound for Davao. The women were under theassumption that they were being transported to another police station while Ynigo,the haciendero from Davao, had no idea that the women being sent to work for himwere actually prostitutes.
The families of the prostitutes came forward to file charges against Lukban, AntonHohmann, the Chief of Police, and Francisco Sales, the Governor of Davao. Theyprayed for a writ of habeas corpus to be issued against the respondents to compelthem to bring back the 170 women who were deported to Mindanao against theirwill.
During the trial, it came out that, indeed, the women were deported without theirconsent. In effect, Lukban forcibly assigned them a new domicile. Most of all, therewas no law or order authorizing Lukban's deportation of the 170 prostitutes.
This decision is actually an explanation for the granting of the writ of habeas corpus
One fact, and one fact only, need be recalled
these one hundred and seventywomen were isolated from society, and then at night, without their consent andwithout any opportunity to consult with friends or to defend their rights, wereforcibly hustled on board steamers for transportation to regions unknown. Despitethe feeble attempt to prove that the women left voluntarily and gladly, that such wasnot the case is shown by the mere fact that the presence of the police and theconstabulary was deemed necessary and that these officers of the law chose theshades of night to cloak their secret and stealthy acts. Indeed, this is a fact impossible to refute and practically admitted by the respondents.
In other countries, as in Spain and Japan, the privilege of domicile is deemed soimportant as to be found in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution.
Under the American constitutional system, liberty of abode is a principle so deeply imbedded in jurisprudence and considered so elementary in nature as not evento require a constitutional sanction. Even the Governor-General of the PhilippineIslands, even the President of the United States, who has often been said toexercise more power than any king or potentate, has no such arbitrary prerogative, either inherent or express. Much less, therefore, has the executiveof a municipality, who acts within a sphere of delegated powers. If the mayor and the chief of police could, at their mere behest or even for the most praiseworthy of motives, render the liberty of the citizen so insecure, then the presidents and chiefs of police of one thousand other municipalities of thePhilippines have the same privilege.
39 Phil 778 (1919)
If these officials can take to themselves such power, then any other official cando the same. And if any official can exercise the power, then all persons wouldhave just as much right to do so. And if a prostitute could be sent against herwishes and under no law from one locality to another within the country, thenofficialdom can hold the same club over the head of any citizen.
Law defines power. Centuries ago Magna Charta decreed that
"No freeman shallbe taken, or imprisoned, or be disseized of his freehold, or liberties, or free customs,or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will we pass upon himnor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land. Wewill sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either justice or right."
What are the remedies of the unhappy victims of official oppression? The remediesof the citizen are three: (1) Civil action; (2) criminal action, and (3)
The first is an optional but rather slow process by which the aggrieved partymay recoup money damages. It may still rest with the parties in interest topursue such an action, but it was never intended effectively and promptly tomeet any such situation as that now before us.
As to criminal responsibility
if, after due investigation, the properprosecuting officers find that any public officer has violated this provision of law, these prosecutors will institute and press a criminal prosecution just asvigorously as they have defended the same official in this action.
Nevertheless,that the act may be a crime and that the persons guilty thereof can be proceeded against, is no bar to the instant proceedings.
To quote the wordsof Judge Cooley in a case which will later be referred to
"It would be amonstrous anomaly in the law if to an application by one unlawfully confined,ta be restored to his liberty, it could be a sufficient answer that the confinement was a crime, and therefore might be continued indefinitely until the guilty partywas tried and punished therefor by the slow process of criminal procedure."
The writ of
was devised and exists as a speedy and effectualremedy to relieve persons from unlawful restraint, and as the best andonly sufficient defense of personal freedom. Any further rights of theparties are left untouched by decision on the writ, whose principalpurpose is to set the individual at liberty.
Respondents’ Contentions/Court’s Ruling:
There is a defect in parties petitioners
The first defense was not presented with any vigor by counsel. The petitionerswere relatives and friends of the deportees. The way the expulsion wasconducted by the city officials made it impossible for the women to sign apetition for
. It was consequently proper for the writ to besubmitted by persons in their behalf. The law, in its zealous regard for personalliberty, even makes it the duty of a court or judge to grant a writ of
if there is evidence that within the court's jurisdiction a person isunjustly imprisoned or restrained of his liberty, though no application be madetherefor. Petitioners had standing in court.