You are on page 1of 46

I.

G.R. No. 169482

January 29, 2008

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION OF HABEAS CORPUS OF EUFEMIA E.


RODRIGUEZ, filed by EDGARDO E. VELUZ, petitioner,
vs.
LUISA R. VILLANUEVA and TERESITA R. PABELLO, respondents.
DECISION
CORONA, J.:
This is a petition for review1 of the resolutions2 dated February 2, 2005 and September 2, 2005 of the
Court of Appeals3 in CA-G.R. SP No. 88180 denying the petition for habeas corpus of Eufemia E.
Rodriguez, filed by petitioner Edgardo Veluz, as well as his motion for reconsideration, respectively.
Eufemia E. Rodriguez was a 94-year old widow, allegedly suffering from a poor state of mental health
and deteriorating cognitive abilities.4 She was living with petitioner, her nephew, since 2000. He
acted as her guardian.
In the morning of January 11, 2005, respondents Luisa R. Villanueva and Teresita R. Pabello took
Eufemia from petitioner Veluz house. He made repeated demands for the return of Eufemia but
these proved futile. Claiming that respondents were restraining Eufemia of her liberty, he filed a
petition for habeas corpus5 in the Court of Appeals on January 13, 2005.
The Court of Appeals ruled that petitioner failed to present any convincing proof that respondents
(the legally adopted children of Eufemia) were unlawfully restraining their mother of her liberty. He
also failed to establish his legal right to the custody of Eufemia as he was not her legal guardian.
Thus, in a resolution dated February 2, 2005,6 the Court of Appeals denied his petition.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration but it was also denied.7 Hence, this petition.
Petitioner claims that, in determining whether or not a writ of habeas corpus should issue, a court
should limit itself to determining whether or not a person is unlawfully being deprived of liberty.
There is no need to consider legal custody or custodial rights. The writ of habeas corpus is available
not only if the rightful custody of a person is being withheld from the person entitled thereto but also
if the person who disappears or is illegally being detained is of legal age and is not under
guardianship. Thus, a writ of habeas corpus can cover persons who are not under the legal custody of

another. According to petitioner, as long as it is alleged that a person is being illegally deprived of
liberty, the writ of habeas corpus may issue so that his physical body may be brought before the court
that will determine whether or not there is in fact an unlawful deprivation of liberty.
In their comment, respondents state that they are the legally adopted daughters of Eufemia and her
deceased spouse, Maximo Rodriguez. Prior to their adoption, respondent Luisa was Eufemias halfsister8 while respondent Teresita was Eufemias niece and petitioners sister. 9
Respondents point out that it was petitioner and his family who were staying with Eufemia, not the
other way around as petitioner claimed. Eufemia paid for the rent of the house, the utilities and
other household needs.
Sometime in the 1980s, petitioner was appointed as the "encargado" or administrator of the
properties of Eufemia as well as those left by the deceased Maximo. As such, he took charge of
collecting payments from tenants and transacted business with third persons for and in behalf of
Eufemia and the respondents who were the only compulsory heirs of the late Maximo.
In the latter part of 2002, Eufemia and the respondents demanded an inventory and return of the
properties entrusted to petitioner. These demands were unheeded. Hence, Eufemia and the
respondents were compelled to file a complaint for estafa against petitioner in the Regional Trial
Court of Quezon City. Consequently, and by reason of their mothers deteriorating health,
respondents decided to take custody of Eufemia on January 11, 2005. The latter willingly went with
them. In view of all this, petitioner failed to prove either his right to the custody of Eufemia or the
illegality of respondents action.
We rule for the respondents.
The writ of habeas corpus extends to all cases of illegal confinement or detention by which any person
is deprived of his liberty or by which the rightful custody of a person is being withheld from the one
entitled thereto.10 It is issued when one is either deprived of liberty or is wrongfully being prevented
from exercising legal custody over another person.11 Thus, it contemplates two instances: (1)
deprivation of a persons liberty either through illegal confinement or through detention and (2)
withholding of the custody of any person from someone entitled to such custody.
In this case, the issue is not whether the custody of Eufemia is being rightfully withheld from
petitioner but whether Eufemia is being restrained of her liberty. Significantly, although petitioner
admits that he did not have legal custody of Eufemia, he nonetheless insists that respondents
themselves have no right to her custody. Thus, for him, the issue of legal custody is irrelevant. What
is important is Eufemias personal freedom.

Fundamentally, in order to justify the grant of the writ of habeas corpus, the restraint of liberty must
be in the nature of an illegal and involuntary deprivation of freedom of action. 12
In general, the purpose of the writ of habeas corpus is to determine whether or not
a particular person is legally held. A prime specification of an application for a writ
of habeas corpus, in fact, is an actual and effective, and not merely nominal or moral, illegal
restraint of liberty. "The writ of habeas corpus was devised and exists as a speedy and
effectual remedy to relieve persons from unlawful restraint, and as the best and only
sufficient defense of personal freedom. A prime specification of an application for a writ
of habeas corpusis restraint of liberty. The essential object and purpose of the writ of habeas
corpus is to inquire into all manner of involuntary restraint as distinguished from voluntary,
and to relieve a person therefrom if such restraint is illegal. Any restraint which will
preclude freedom of action is sufficient."13 (emphasis supplied)
In passing upon a petition for habeas corpus, a court or judge must first inquire into whether the
petitioner is being restrained of his liberty.14 If he is not, the writ will be refused. Inquiry into the
cause of detention will proceed only where such restraint exists.15 If the alleged cause is thereafter
found to be unlawful, then the writ should be granted and the petitioner discharged. 16 Needless to
state, if otherwise, again the writ will be refused.
While habeas corpus is a writ of right, it will not issue as a matter of course or as a mere perfunctory
operation on the filing of the petition.17 Judicial discretion is called for in its issuance and it must be
clear to the judge to whom the petition is presented that, prima facie, the petitioner is entitled to the
writ.18 It is only if the court is satisfied that a person is being unlawfully restrained of his liberty will
the petition for habeas corpus be granted.19 If the respondents are not detaining or restraining the
applicant or the person in whose behalf the petition is filed, the petition should be dismissed. 20
In this case, the Court of Appeals made an inquiry into whether Eufemia was being restrained of her
liberty. It found that she was not:
There is no proof that Eufemia is being detained and restrained of her liberty by
respondents. Nothing on record reveals that she was forcibly taken by
respondents. On the contrary, respondents, being Eufemias adopted children, are taking
care of her.21 (emphasis supplied)
The Court finds no cogent or compelling reason to disturb this finding. 22
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED.

Costs against petitioner.


SO ORDERED.
II.
SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 125901. March 8, 2001]
EDGARDO A. TIJING and BIENVENIDA R. TIJING, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS
(Seventh Division) and ANGELITA DIAMANTE, respondents.
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
For review is the decision of the Court of Appeals dated March 6, 1996, in CA-G.R. SP No.
39056, reversing the decision of the Regional Trial Court in a petition for habeas corpus of Edgardo
Tijing, Jr., allegedly the child of petitioners.
Petitioners are husband and wife. They have six children. The youngest is Edgardo Tijing, Jr.,
who was born on April 27, 1989, at the clinic of midwife and registered nurse Lourdes Vasquez in
Sta. Ana, Manila. Petitioner Bienvenida served as the laundrywoman of private respondent Angelita
Diamante, then a resident of Tondo, Manila.
According to Bienvenida in August 1989, Angelita went to her house to fetch her for an urgent
laundry job. Since Bienvenida was on her way to do some marketing, she asked Angelita to wait
until she returned. She also left her four-month old son, Edgardo, Jr., under the care of Angelita as
she usually let Angelita take care of the child while Bienvenida was doing laundry.
When Bienvenida returned from the market, Angelita and Edgardo, Jr., were gone. Bienvenida
forthwith proceeded to Angelitas house in Tondo, Manila, but did not find them there. Angelitas
maid told Bienvenida that her employer went out for a stroll and told Bienvenida to come back
later. She returned to Angelitas house after three days, only to discover that Angelita had moved to
another place. Bienvenida then complained to her barangay chairman and also to the police who
seemed unmoved by her pleas for assistance.
Although estranged from her husband, Bienvenida could not imagine how her spouse would
react to the disappearance of their youngest child and this made her problem even more serious. As

fate would have it, Bienvenida and her husband reconciled and together, this time, they looked for
their missing son in other places. Notwithstanding their serious efforts, they saw no traces of his
whereabouts.
Four years later or in October 1993, Bienvenida read in a tabloid about the death of Tomas
Lopez, allegedly the common-law husband of Angelita, and whose remains were lying in state in
Hagonoy, Bulacan. Bienvenida lost no time in going to Hagonoy, Bulacan, where she allegedly saw
her son Edgardo, Jr., for the first time after four years. She claims that the boy, who was pointed out
to her by Benjamin Lopez, a brother of the late Tomas Lopez, was already named John Thomas
Lopez.[1] She avers that Angelita refused to return to her the boy despite her demand to do so.
Bienvenida and Edgardo filed their petition for habeas corpus with the trial court in order to
recover their son. To substantiate their petition, petitioners presented two witnesses, namely,
Lourdes Vasquez and Benjamin Lopez. The first witness, Vasquez, testified that she assisted in the
delivery of one Edgardo Tijing, Jr. on April 27, 1989 at her clinic in Sta. Ana, Manila. She supported
her testimony with her clinical records. [2] The second witness, Benjamin Lopez, declared that his
brother, the late Tomas Lopez, could not have possibly fathered John Thomas Lopez as the latter was
sterile. He recalled that Tomas met an accident and bumped his private part against the edge of a
banca causing him excruciating pain and eventual loss of his child-bearing capacity. Benjamin
further declared that Tomas admitted to him that John Thomas Lopez was only an adopted son and
that he and Angelita were not blessed with children. [3]
For her part, Angelita claimed that she is the natural mother of the child. She asserts that at
age 42, she gave birth to John Thomas Lopez on April 27, 1989, at the clinic of midwife Zosima
Panganiban in Singalong, Manila. She added, though, that she has two other children with her real
husband, Angel Sanchez.[4] She said the birth of John Thomas was registered by her common-law
husband, Tomas Lopez, with the local civil registrar of Manila on August 4, 1989.
On March 10, 1995, the trial court concluded that since Angelita and her common-law husband
could not have children, the alleged birth of John Thomas Lopez is an impossibility. [5] The trial court
also held that the minor and Bienvenida showed strong facial similarity. Accordingly, it ruled that
Edgardo Tijing, Jr., and John Thomas Lopez are one and the same person who is the natural child of
petitioners. The trial court decreed:
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, judgment is hereby rendered GRANTING the petition
for Habeas Corpus, as such, respondent Angelita Diamante is ordered to immediately release from
her personal custody minor John Thomas D. Lopez, and turn him over and/or surrender his person to
petitioners, Spouses Edgardo A. Tijing and Bienvenida R. Tijing, immediately upon receipt hereof.

Branch Sheriff of this Court, Carlos Bajar, is hereby commanded to implement the decision of this
Court by assisting herein petitioners in the recovery of the person of their minor son, Edgardo Tijing
Jr., the same person as John Thomas D. Lopez.
SO ORDERED.[6]
Angelita seasonably filed her notice of appeal.[7] Nonetheless, on August 3, 1994, the sheriff
implemented the order of the trial court by taking custody of the minor. In his report, the sheriff
stated that Angelita peacefully surrendered the minor and he turned over the custody of said child to
petitioner Edgardo Tijing.[8]
On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the decision rendered by the trial
court. The appellate court expressed its doubts on the propriety of the habeas corpus. In its view,
the evidence adduced by Bienvenida was not sufficient to establish that she was the mother of the
minor. It ruled that the lower court erred in declaring that Edgardo Tijing, Jr., and John Thomas
Lopez are one and the same person,[9] and disposed of the case, thus:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision of the lower court dated March 10, 1995 is hereby
REVERSED, and a new one entered dismissing the petition in Spec. Proc. No. 94-71606, and
directing the custody of the minor John Thomas Lopez to be returned to respondent Angelita
Diamante, said minor having been under the care of said respondent at the time of the filing of the
petition herein.
SO ORDERED.[10]
Petitioners sought reconsideration of the abovequoted decision which was denied. Hence, the
instant petition alleging:
I
THAT THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A GRAVE ERROR WHEN IT
DECLARED THAT THE PETITIONERS ACTION FOR HABEAS CORPUS IS MERELY
SECONDARY TO THE QUESTION OF FILIATION THAT THE PETITIONERS HAD
LIKEWISE PROVEN.
II
THAT THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN REVERSING THE DECISION
OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT DISMISSING THE PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS
AND DIRECTING THAT THE CUSTODY OF THE MINOR JOHN THOMAS LOPEZ WHO

WAS PROVEN TO THE SAME MINOR AS EDGARDO R. TIJING, JR., BE RETURNED TO


THE PRIVATE RESPONDENT.[11]
In our view, the crucial issues for resolution are the following:
(1) Whether or not habeas corpus is the proper remedy?
(2) Whether or not Edgardo Tijing, Jr., and John Thomas Lopez are one and the same
person and is the son of petitioners?
We shall discuss the two issues together since they are closely related.
The writ of habeas corpus extends to all cases of illegal confinement or detention by which any
person is deprived of his liberty, or by which the rightful custody of any person is withheld from the
person entitled thereto.[12] Thus, it is the proper legal remedy to enable parents to regain the custody
of a minor child even if the latter be in the custody of a third person of his own free will. It may even
be said that in custody cases involving minors, the question of illegal and involuntary restraint of
liberty is not the underlying rationale for the availability of the writ as a remedy. Rather, it is
prosecuted for the purpose of determining the right of custody over a child. [13] It must be stressed too
that in habeas corpus proceedings, the question of identity is relevant and material, subject to the
usual presumptions including those as to identity of the person.
In this case, the minors identity is crucial in determining the propriety of the writ
sought. Thus, it must be resolved first whether the Edgardo Tijing, Jr., claimed by Bienvenida to be
her son, is the same minor named John Thomas Lopez, whom Angelita insists to be her
offspring. We must first determine who between Bienvenida and Angelita is the minors biological
mother. Evidence must necessarily be adduced to prove that two persons, initially thought of to be
distinct and separate from each other, are indeed one and the same. [14] Petitioners must convincingly
establish that the minor in whose behalf the application for the writ is made is the person upon
whom they have rightful custody. If there is doubt on the identity of the minor in whose behalf the
application for the writ is made, petitioners cannot invoke with certainty their right of custody over
the said minor.
True, it is not the function of this Court to examine and evaluate the probative value of all
evidence presented to the concerned tribunal which formed the basis of its impugned decision,
resolution or order.[15] But since the conclusions of the Court of Appeals contradict those of the trial
court, this Court may scrutinize the evidence on the record to determine which findings should be
preferred as more conformable to the evidentiary facts.

A close scrutiny of the records of this case reveals that the evidence presented by Bienvenida is
sufficient to establish that John Thomas Lopez is actually her missing son, Edgardo Tijing, Jr.
First, there is evidence that Angelita could no longer bear children. From her very lips, she
admitted that after the birth of her second child, she underwent ligation at the Martinez Hospital in
1970, before she lived with Tomas Lopez without the benefit of marriage in 1974. Assuming she had
that ligation removed in 1978, as she claimed, she offered no evidence she gave birth to a child
between 1978 to 1988 or for a period of ten years. The midwife who allegedly delivered the child was
not presented in court. No clinical records, log book or discharge order from the clinic were ever
submitted.
Second, there is strong evidence which directly proves that Tomas Lopez is no longer capable of
siring a son. Benjamin Lopez declared in court that his brother, Tomas, was sterile because of the
accident and that Tomas admitted to him that John Thomas Lopez was only an adopted son.
Moreover, Tomas Lopez and his legal wife, Maria Rapatan Lopez, had no children after almost fifteen
years together. Though Tomas Lopez had lived with private respondent for fourteen years, they also
bore no offspring.
Third, we find unusual the fact that the birth certificate of John Thomas Lopez was filed by
Tomas Lopez instead of the midwife and on August 4, 1989, four months after the alleged birth of the
child. Under the law, the attending physician or midwife in attendance at birth should cause the
registration of such birth. Only in default of the physician or midwife, can the parent register the
birth of his child. The certificate must be filed with the local civil registrar within thirty days after
the birth.[16] Significantly, the birth certificate of the child stated Tomas Lopez and private
respondent were legally married on October 31, 1974, in Hagonoy, Bulacan, which is false because
even private respondent had admitted she is a common-law wife. [17]This false entry puts to doubt
the other data in said birth certificate.
Fourth, the trial court observed several times that when the child and Bienvenida were both in
court, the two had strong similarities in their faces, eyes, eyebrows and head shapes. Resemblance
between a minor and his alleged parent is competent and material evidence to establish parentage.
[18]

Needless to stress, the trial courts conclusion should be given high respect, it having had the

opportunity to observe the physical appearances of the minor and petitioner concerned.
Fifth, Lourdes Vasquez testified that she assisted in Bienvenidas giving birth to Edgardo Tijing,
Jr., at her clinic. Unlike private respondent, she presented clinical records consisting of a log book,
discharge order and the signatures of petitioners.

All these considered, we are constrained to rule that subject minor is indeed the son of
petitioners. The writ of habeas corpus is proper to regain custody of said child.
A final note. Parentage will still be resolved using conventional methods unless we adopt the
modern and scientific ways available. Fortunately, we have now the facility and expertise in using
DNA test[19] for identification and parentage testing. The University of the Philippines Natural
Science Research Institute (UP-NSRI) DNA Analysis Laboratory has now the capability to conduct
DNA typing using short tandem repeat (STR) analysis. The analysis is based on the fact that the
DNA of a child/person has two (2) copies, one copy from the mother and the other from the
father. The DNA from the mother, the alleged father and child are analyzed to establish parentage.
[20]

Of course, being a novel scientific technique, the use of DNA test as evidence is still open to

challenge.[21] Eventually, as the appropriate case comes, courts should not hesitate to rule on the
admissibility of DNA evidence. For it was said, that courts should apply the results of science when
competently obtained in aid of situations presented, since to reject said result is to deny progress.
[22]

Though it is not necessary in this case to resort to DNA testing, in future it would be useful to all

concerned in the prompt resolution of parentage and identity issues.


WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed DECISION of the Court of
Appeals is REVERSED and decision of the Regional Trial Court is REINSTATED. Costs against the
private respondent.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

IV.
FIRST DIVISION
FELIPE N. MADRIAN,

G.R. No. 159374

Petitioner,
Present:
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,*

- versus-

CORONA,
AZCUNA and
GARCIA,** JJ.

FRANCISCA R. MADRIAN,

Respondent.

Promulgated:
July 12, 2007

x------------------------------------------x

DECISION
CORONA, J.:

When a family breaks up, the children are always the victims. The ensuing battle for custody
of the minor children is not only a thorny issue but also a highly sensitive and heart-rending affair.
Such is the case here. Even the usually technical subject of jurisdiction became emotionally charged.

Petitioner Felipe N. Madrian and respondent Francisca R. Madrian were married on July 7,
1993 in Paraaque City. They resided in San Agustin Village, Brgy. Moonwalk, Paraaque City.

Their union was blessed with three sons and a daughter: Ronnick, born on January 30, 1994;
Phillip, born on November 19, 1996; Francis Angelo, born on May 12, 1998 and Krizia Ann, born on
December 12, 2000.

After a bitter quarrel on May 18, 2002, petitioner allegedly left their conjugal abode and took
their three sons with him to Ligao City, Albay and subsequently to Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Respondent
sought the help of her parents and parents-in-law to patch things up between her and petitioner to
no avail. She then brought the matter to the Lupong Tagapamayapa in their barangay but this too
proved futile.

Thus respondent filed a petition for habeas corpus of Ronnick, Phillip and Francis Angelo in
the Court of Appeals, alleging that petitioners act of leaving the conjugal dwelling and going to
Albay and then to Laguna disrupted the education of their children and deprived them of their
mothers care. She prayed that petitioner be ordered to appear and produce their sons before the
court and to explain why they should not be returned to her custody.

Petitioner and respondent appeared at the hearing on September 17, 2002. They initially agreed
that petitioner would return the custody of their three sons to respondent. Petitioner, however, had a
change of heart[1] and decided to file a memorandum.

On September 3, 2002, petitioner filed his memorandum [2] alleging that respondent was unfit to
take custody of their three sons because she was habitually drunk, frequently went home late at
night or in the wee hours of the morning, spent much of her time at a beer house and neglected her
duties as a mother. He claimed that, after their squabble on May 18, 2002, it was respondent who
left, taking their daughter with her. It was only then that he went to Sta. Rosa, Laguna where he
worked as a tricycle driver. He submitted a certification from the principal of the Dila Elementary
School in Sta. Rosa, Laguna that Ronnick and Phillip were enrolled there. He also questioned the
jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals claiming that under Section 5(b) of RA 8369 (otherwise known as
the Family Courts Act of 1997) family courts have exclusive original jurisdiction to hear and decide
the petition for habeas corpus filed by respondent.[3]

For her part, respondent averred that she did not leave their home on May 18, 2002 but was
driven out by petitioner. She alleged that it was petitioner who was an alcoholic, gambler and drug
addict. Petitioners alcoholism and drug addiction impaired his mental faculties, causing him to

commit acts of violence against her and their children. The situation was aggravated by the fact that
their home was adjacent to that of her in-laws who frequently meddled in their personal problems. [4]

On October 21, 2002, the Court of Appeals [5] rendered a decision[6] asserting its authority to
take cognizance of the petition and ruling that, under Article 213 of the Family Code, respondent was
entitled to the custody of Phillip and Francis Angelo who were at that time aged six and four,
respectively, subject to the visitation rights of petitioner. With respect to Ronnick who was then eight
years old, the court ruled that his custody should be determined by the proper family court in a
special proceeding on custody of minors under Rule 99 of the Rules of Court.

Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the Court of Appeals decision but it was denied.
Hence, this recourse.

Petitioner challenges the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals over the petition for habeas
corpus and insists that jurisdiction over the case is lodged in the family courts under RA 8369. He
invokes Section 5(b) of RA 8369:

Section 5. Jurisdiction of Family Courts. The Family Courts shall have


exclusive original jurisdiction to hear and decide the following cases:
xxx

xxx

xxx

b) Petitions for guardianship, custody of children, habeas corpus in relation


to the latter;

xxx

Petitioner is wrong.

xxx

xxx

In Thornton v. Thornton,[7] this Court resolved the issue of the Court of Appeals jurisdiction to
issue writs of habeas corpus in cases involving custody of minors in the light of the provision in RA
8369 giving family courts exclusive original jurisdiction over such petitions:

The Court of Appeals should take cognizance of the case since there

is nothing in RA 8369 that revoked its jurisdiction to issue writs of habeas


corpus involving the custody of minors.
xxx

xxx

xxx

We rule therefore that RA 8369 did not divest the Court of Appeals and the
Supreme Court of their jurisdiction overhabeas corpus cases involving the
custody of minors.

xxx

xxx

xxx

The provisions of RA 8369 reveal no manifest intent to revoke the


jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court to issue writs of habeas
corpus relating to the custody of minors. Further, it cannot be said that the
provisions of RA 8369, RA 7092 [An Act Expanding the Jurisdiction of the Court of
Appeals] and BP 129 [The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980] are absolutely
incompatible since RA 8369 does not prohibit the Court of Appeals and the Supreme
Court from issuing writs of habeas corpus in cases involving the custody of minors.
Thus, the provisions of RA 8369 must be read in harmony with RA 7029 and BP 129
that family courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the Court of Appeals

and the Supreme Court in petitions for habeas corpus where the custody of
minors is at issue.[8] (emphases supplied)

The jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals over petitions for habeas corpus was further affirmed by
A.M. No. 03-03-04-SC (April 22, 2004) in Re: Rule on Custody of Minors and Writ of Habeas
Corpus in Relation to Custody of Minors:
In any case, whatever uncertainty there was has been settled with

the adoption of A.M. No. 03-03-04-SC Re: Rule on Custody of Minors and
Writ of Habeas Corpus in Relation to Custody of Minors. Section 20 of the
rule provides that:

Section 20. Petition for writ of habeas corpus. A verified


petition for a writ of habeas corpus involving custody of minors shall
be filed with the Family Court. The writ shall be enforceable within
its judicial region to which the Family Court belongs.
xxx
xxx
xxx
The petition may likewise be filed with the Supreme

Court, Court of Appeals, or with any of its members and, if so


granted, the writ shall be enforceable anywhere in the
Philippines. The writ may be made returnable to a Family Court

or to any regular court within the region where the petitioner


resides or where the minor may be found for hearing and decision on
the merits.
From the foregoing, there is no doubt that the Court of Appeals and

Supreme Court have concurrent jurisdiction with family courts in habeas


corpus cases where the custody of minors is involved.[9] (emphases supplied)

We note that after petitioner moved out of their Paraaque residence on May 18, 2002, he twice
transferred his sons to provinces covered by different judicial regions. This situation is what
the Thorntoninterpretation of RA 8369s provision on jurisdiction precisely addressed:
[The reasoning that by giving family courts exclusive jurisdiction over habeas
corpus cases, the lawmakers intended them to be the sole courts which can issue
writs of habeas corpus] will result in an iniquitous situation, leaving individuals like
[respondent] without legal recourse in obtaining custody of their children.
Individuals who do not know the whereabouts of minors they are looking for would
be helpless since they cannot seek redress from family courts whose writs are
enforceable only in their respective territorial jurisdictions. Thus, if a minor is
being transferred from one place to another, which seems to be the case

here, the petitioner in a habeas corpus case will be left without legal
remedy. This lack of recourse could not have been the intention of the
lawmakers when they passed [RA 8369].[10]

Moreover, a careful reading of Section 5(b) of RA 8369 reveals that family courts are vested
with original exclusive jurisdiction in custody cases, not in habeas corpus cases. Writs of habeas

corpus which may be issued exclusively by family courts under Section 5(b) of RA 8369 pertain to
the ancillary remedythat may be availed of in conjunction with a petition for custody of minors
under Rule 99 of the Rules of Court. In other words, the issuance of the writ is merely ancillary to
the custody case pending before the family court. The writ must be issued by the same court to avoid
splitting of jurisdiction, conflicting decisions, interference by a co-equal court and judicial instability.

The rule therefore is: when by law jurisdiction is conferred on a court or judicial officer, all
auxiliary writs, processes and other means necessary to carry it into effect may be employed by such
court or officer.[11] Once a court acquires jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case, it does so to the
exclusion of all other courts, including related incidents and ancillary matters.

Accordingly, the petition is hereby DENIED.


Costs against petitioner.
V.

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 141443. August 30, 2000]

IN THE MATTER OF PETITION FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT OF


HABEAS CORPUS :
AZUCENA L. GARCIA, petitioner.
DECISION
DE LEON, JR., J.:

Azucena L. Garcia petitions this Court to issue a writ of habeas corpus in


order to free, relieve and exonerate her from the penalty of imprisonment
adjudged and imposed upon her, in gross violation of her constitutional rights

to due process of law and other fundamental rights[1] pursuant to an allegedly


void judgment rendered on April 20, 1995 by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Quezon City, Branch 86, in Criminal Case No. Q-94-53589.
The antecedent facts, as found by the trial court, are as follows:
On October 27, 1989, herein accused, Azucena Locsin Garcia, filed an
application for land registration with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City
(Branch 80) docketed as LRC Case No. 89-007 covering two parcels of land
identified as Lots Nos. 822-C-1 and 822-C-2 with an area of 32,350 and
28,750 sq. m., respectively. Appended to said application were the following
documents, to wit: (1) Tax Declaration No. 2273 with PIN-21-11773-1 for Lot
822-C-1; (2) Tax Declaration No. 22732 with PIN-21-11773-2 for Lot 822-C-2;
Subdivision Plan Psd-19954; (4) Technical Description of Lot 822-C-1; and
Technical Description of Lot 822-C-2.
There is no evidence as to the proceedings taken, if any, in the said
application for land registration. It would appear, though, as borne out by
subsequent events, that said application was abandoned because on May 8,
1991 accused, who is the applicant in the land registration case, filed an
application this time for administrative reconstitution of Transfer Certificate of
Title No. 308462 with the Land Registration Authority (Exh. F). Attached to
the application for reconstitution, aside from the documents appended to the
previous application for land registration which were reproduced in the former,
were the owners copy of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 308462 (Exh. N for
the prosecution which is similar to Exh. 2 for the defense) in the name of the
accused and Real Property Tax Bill-Receipts (Exhs. 12, 12-A to 12-G).
On June 7, 1991, at the request of the accused, Edgardo Castro, Deputy
Register of Deeds of Quezon City, issued a certification (Exh. B; Exh. 1)
stating that the original of TCT No. 308462 was among those burned during
the fire that razed the Quezon City Hall on June 11, 1988.
On June 20, 1991 (not 1992 as appearing in the Information in Criminal Case
No. Q-94-53589), TCT No. 308462 was ordered reconstituted, along with
other TCTs in the names of other applicants, pursuant to Administrative Order
No. Q-283(91) signed by Benjamin M. Bustos, Reconstituting Officer of the
Land Registration Authority (Exh. 6).
On September 10, 1991, complainant [Antonio de] Zuzuarregui wrote the
Quezon City Assessors Office (Exh. L) requesting for certification as to the
authenticity of Declaration of Real Property No. 2273, Property Index No. 21-

11773-1 Piedad Estate (Exh. L-1) and Declaration of Real Property No.
22732, Property Index No. 21-11773-2, Piedad Estate (Exh. L-2), both
issued in the name of Domingo R. Locsin and purportedly signed by Jose C.
Gonzales, then acting City Assessor of Quezon City, because the lot
embraced by the said declarations are allegedly within the boundary of said
complainants property per his TCT No. 181095.
In reply to the above letter, Q.C. City Assessor Constantino P. Rosas wrote
Zuzuarregui on September 11, 1991 stating that no such records
(Declarations of Real Property Nos. 2273 and 22732) exist in their office and
the same appear to be spurious (Exhs. J and J-1).
Meanwhile, on September 23, 1991, accused, thru counsel, filed a Motion to
Withdraw her application for land registration with the RTC Q.C. (Br. 80) which
was granted by the court in its Order dated September 25, 1991 (Exhs. I &
11).
On October 4, 1991, Zuzuarregui wrote another letter this time to Mrs. Brigida
Llave, Technical Records Section of the Bureau of Lands, NCR, Q.C. (Exh.
C) requesting for certification as to the authenticity of the documents
attached to the letter, namely Annex 1 xerox copy of Plan Psd-19954 of Lot
822-C in the name of Domingo R. Locsin; Annex 2 xerox copy of the
technical description of Lot 822-C-1, Psd-19954, also in the name of Domingo
R. Locsin (Exh. C-2); and Annex 3 xerox copy of the technical description
of Lot 822-C-2, Psd-19954, likewise in the name of Domingo R. Locsin (Exh.
C-3, all of which were appended to and used in support of the abovementioned application for administrative reconstitution. Said xerox copies of
the plan and technical descriptions were respectively referred to Brigida Llave
of the Technical Records Section and Engr. Elpidio de Lara of the Technical
Services Section of the Bureau of Lands, for their Comments (Exh. C-1).
In Llaves reply of October 7, 1991 (Exh. E), she stated that the alleged plan,
Psd-19954, is non-existing in their files and called attention to the fact that she
has no signature over her stamped name Brigida R. Llave on said plan. De
Lara, for his part, in an interoffice memorandum dated October 14, 1991
(Exh. D), disputed the authenticity of the technical descriptions (Annexes 2
and 3 to the letter of Zuzuarregui) by stating that the signatures thereon are
not his (T.S.N., April 1, 1994, p. 10.)
Based on the above developments tending to discredit the authenticity and
credibility of the documents presented by the accused in support of her
application for reconstitution with the LRA, on complaint of Zuzuarregui,

Benjamin Bustos caused a review of his previous order giving due course to
the reconstitution of TCT No. 308462 and on the basis of his findings, recalled
and set aside, said previous order as far as TCT No. 308462 is concerned in a
Supplemental Order dated October 8, 1991. From said Supplemental Order,
herein accused interposed an appeal to the LRA Administrator.
On or about November 11, 1991, Zuzuarregui instituted a criminal complaint
with the Fiscals Office of Quezon City charging the herein accused of
falsifying the technical descriptions and tax declarations all issued in the name
of Domingo R. Locsin, father of the accused. Said complaint was dismissed in
an order dated May 15, 1992. On July 16, 1992, Zuzuarregui filed a Motion
for Reconsideration of the Order dismissal (Exh. 14).
xxx

Meanwhile, on August 14, 1992, Samuel C. Cleofe, Register of Deeds of


Quezon City, in his reply to a letter from herein complainant Zuzuarregui,
stated that per verification from their Control Log Book, TCT No. 308462 is not
shown as among those filed in their office (Exh. A).
On September 18, 1992, Zuzuarreguis Motion for Reconsideration of the
order dismissing his criminal complaint against the accused was granted in a
resolution issued by Asst. City Prosecutor Dimaranan Vidal (Exh.
15). Accordingly, herein accused was formally charged with three counts of
falsification of public documents in three separate criminal informations filed
with the RTC of Quezon City and docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 36490-92,
the first being for falsification of technical description of land and the other two
being for falsification of Declarations of Real Property (Exhs. 13; 13-B and
13-C).
In the meantime, upon request of certain Miguel V. Sison, Jr., Officer in
Charge, Director IV, Office of the Executive Secretary, Presidential Action
Center, Malacaang, the National Bureau of Investigation conducted an
examination of both the specimen and questioned signatures of Vicente
Coloyan, former Register of Deeds of Quezon City, the questioned signatures
being those appearing on TCT No. 308462. On March 9, 1993, Director
Epimaco Velasco of the NBI wrote Miguel V. Sison, Jr. (Exh. 3) transmitting
copy of their findings contained in a Questioned Document Report No. 151393, dated March 9, 1993 (Exh. 4) signed by Rogelio G. Azores, Document
Examiner IV of the NBI (Exh. 4-B), as approved by Arcadio A. Ramos, Chief
of the Questioned Document Division (Exh. 4-C) and noted by Manuel C.
Roura, Deputy Director, Technical Services (Exh. 4-D). The conclusion

arrived at as per the Report is that the questioned and standard signatures of
Vicenter [sic] Coloyan were written by one and the same person.
On October 13, 1993, in response to a request of Rogelio Azores who
rendered the above Questioned Document Report, Quezon City Assosor [sic]
Constantino P. Rosas issued a Certification (Exh. K) to the effect that Tax
Declarations Nos. 22731 for Lot 822-C-1 Piedad Estate and 22732 for Lot
822-C-2 Piedad Estate, both in the name of Domingo R. Locsin, do not
appear in their Office Tax Map, Property Index System as well as in the
Assessment Roll.
On April 15, 1994, Assistant Quezon City Assessor Benjamin Kasala issued
still another Certification to the effect that per assessment records of their
office, there is no property whether land or improvement registered for
taxation purposes in the name of accused Garcia (Exh. M).
Meanwhile, Criminal Cases Nos. 36490-92 for falsification of public
documents filed by the herein complainant against the herein accused were
raffled to Branch 85 of this Court then presided by the Honorable Benjamin P.
Abesamis and subsequently by the Honorable Judge Mariano M. Umali. In a
decision penned by the latter, dated May 17, 1994, the herein accused was
acquitted of all the above charges on reasonable doubt (Exh. 16-C).
On June 9, 1994, in the course of the trial of the present case, counsel for the
accused, Atty. Ciriaco O. Atienza, wrote the Land Registration Authority (Exh.
9) requesting, among others, clarification on the finality of an order of
reconstitution, apparently referring to the order of August 20, 1991 by
Reconstituting Officer Bustos (Exh. 6, supra.) which was later set aside in a
Supplemental Order of the same officer dated October 8, 1991. x x x
On August 5, 1994, herein complainant wrote another letter-request this time
addressed to Mr. Ernesto Erive, Land Management Services Chief of Surveys
Division, Bureau of Lands (Exh. V), for the latter to certify as to the
authenticity of the technical description of Lot 822-C-2, Psd-19954, in the
name of Domingo Locsin attached to the letter-request which was one of the
documents submitted by the accused in support of her application for
administrative reconstitution. In reply thereto, Erive wrote Zuzuarregui on
August 18, 1994 (Exh. U) informing the latter that their office (Department of
Environment and Natural resources, National Capital Region) has no record of
Lot 822-C-2, Psd-19954 and, hence, said technical description was not
prepared by their office.

On September 30, 1994, the LRA Administrator Reynaldo Maulit came out with a
Resolution (Exh. 20) on the appeal interposed by the accused affirming the finality of
LRA Administrative Reconstitution Order No. Q-283(91) dated August 20, 1991 directing
the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to reconstitute, among others, the original of TCT
No. 308462 in the name of petitioner-appellant Azucena L. Garcia, accused herein and,
therefore, the Supplemental Order dated October 8, 1991 could not have validly
amended the aforestated order of August 20, 1991. It added, however, that the
reconstitution does not confirm nor adjudicate ownership over the property subject
thereof citing the case of Serra, Serra vs. Court of Appeals, 195 SCRA 482 (Exh. S). [2]

Thus, petitioner was charged in Criminal Case No. Q-94-53589 with


falsifying the entries in Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 308462, forging
the signature therein of Vicente N. Coloyan, and introducing or using said TCT
in support of her application for reconstitution of title. Similarly, in Criminal
Case Nos. Q-94-53590 and Q-94-53591, petitioner was charged with
falsifying the entries in Declaration of Real Property Nos. 22731 and 22732,
respectively, forging the signatures therein of Jose C. Gonzales, and
introducing or using the same in support of her application before the Land
Registration Administration (LRA).
In its Decision dated April 20, 1995, the trial court found petitioner guilty of
three (3) counts of falsification of public documents. Petitioner appealed to the
Court of Appeals. The appellate court, and subsequently this Court, affirmed
petitioners conviction. Entry of judgment was made on April 8, 1999.
In the instant petition, petitioner only questions the validity of the judgment
rendered in Criminal Case No. Q-94-53589. She contends that where
proceedings were attended by violations of the constitutional rights of the
accused, the judgment of conviction is void thereby warranting relief by the
extraordinary legal remedy of habeas corpus. Hence, in her case, the
fundamental unfairness of the judgment, when viewed in light of the record,
renders the same subject to attack for being violative of her right to due
process of law. Petitioner explains that this fundamental unfairness stems
from the omission and failure of the trial court, the prosecution and the
defense counsel to formally project into the evidentiary stream the evidence
decisive on the merits of the case, consisting of official determinations and
findings[3] on the genuineness and authenticity of Vicente Coloyans signature
on the owners copy of TCT No. 308462, which underlay the different official
acts of office holders participating in the proceeding on administrative
reconstitution of the original of said [TCT] No. 308462 of the Q.C. Register of
Deeds.[4]
Petitioner explains that the disquisition of the trial judge was totally silent
on the official findings and determinations that Coloyans signature on the

owners copy of the TCT No. 308462 was genuine. Instead, the trial judge
merely relied on the testimony of Coloyan that the signature appearing on the
photocopy of TCT No. 308462 is not his. Petitioner points out that the
unfairness of such reliance becomes apparent when official determinations
and findings as to the genuineness of Coloyans signature on TCT No. 308462
are considered.
Petitioner then alleges that the prosecution failed to call the attention of
the trial court to these official determinations and findings which constituted
exculpatory evidence in her favor. Petitioner further faults the prosecution in
willfully presenting Coloyan as a witness to disclaim his signature
notwithstanding indications in the record that he was hired and was possibly a
corrupt witness. She maintains that the prosecution should have exerted
their best efforts to safeguard the trial process against this type of witness,
who from all reasonable indicators is a paid and perjured witness.[5]
Petitioner likewise claims that she was denied due process of law by
reason of her being represented by ineffective counsel. Petitioner illustrates
that her counsel failed to formally offer in evidence exhibits, consisting of the
official acts of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City and officials of the LRA,
[6]
for the specific purpose of proving the genuineness of Coloyans
signature. Petitioners counsel also took no steps to bar Coloyan from being
presented as a witness for the prosecution and was not especially alert to the
danger or risk of a perjured witness. In this regard, petitioner maintains that
her counsel could have asked for a deferment of the trial to give him time to
make a full investigation of the circumstances attending the presentation of
Coloyan as a witness.
Petitioner concludes that the foregoing arguments and precedents warrant
the grant of preliminary injunctive relief in the form of a status quo order, and,
after consideration of the merits of the case, a writ of habeas corpus annulling
the judgment of conviction rendered against her.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), on the other hand, states that
the writ of habeas corpus is a remedy available to a person who is illegally
imprisoned or restrained of his liberty. Consequently, a person discharged or
out on bail, like petitioner, is not entitled to the writ.
Furthermore, the ground invoked by petitioner pertains to the appreciation
of evidence, a matter which falls within the exclusive discretion and
prerogative of the trial court. The OSG stresses that a writ of habeas
corpus can issue only for want of jurisdiction of the sentencing court, and
cannot function as a writ of error. As such, the writ will not lie to correct
alleged mistakes of fact or of law committed by a court in the exercise of its

functions. The OSG also points out that the ground invoked by petitioner is
one which has been considered, passed upon and found to be without merit
not only by the Court of Appeals but by this Court as well. The OSG is of the
view that the instant petition is merely intended to delay the administration of
justice.
We deny the petition.
The high prerogative writ of habeas corpus was devised and exists as a
speedy and effectual remedy to relieve persons from unlawful restraint. [7] Its
object is to inquire into the legality of ones detention, and if found illegal, to
order the release of the detainee. [8] However, it is equally well-settled that the
writ will not issue where the person in whose behalf the writ is sought is out on
bail,[9] or is in the custody of an officer under process issued by a court or
judge or by virtue of a judgment or order of a court of record, and that the
court or judge had jurisdiction to issue the process, render the judgment, or
make the order.[10] In the case at bar, therefore, petitioner can no longer seek
relief via a petition for habeas corpus having been convicted by final judgment
of the crime of falsification of public document and use thereof. Said
judgment is already final and executory. Petitioner even discloses that entry
of judgment was made on April 8, 1999, or eight (8) months prior to the filing
of this petition. The OSG has also pointed out that petitioner is still out on
bail. To this petitioner merely replied that:
For purposes of habeas corpus, RESTRAINT is not confined to
imprisonment or actual physical custody. Recent federal jurisprudence has
extended this to accused under final conviction, who are out on bail, and to
convicts on parole. Such jurisprudence is part of Anglo-American
jueisprudence (sic), which is highly persuasive in this jurisdiction because our
law on Habeas Corpus is of Anglo-American origin.[11]
Even if we disregard the fact that petitioner is out on bail, the writ prayed
for should not be granted. Indeed, we have held that once a deprivation of a
constitutional right is shown to exist, the court that rendered the judgment is
deemed ousted of jurisdiction and habeas corpus is the appropriate remedy to
assail the legality of his detention.[12] Petitioner, however, has failed to
persuade this Court that the proceedings before the trial court were attended
by violations of her right to due process, or for that matter, other constitutional
rights.
It is apparent from the arguments advanced by petitioner that the purpose
of this petition is to cause this Court to once again re-examine and pass
judgment upon the trial courts appreciation of the evidence presented,
especially the credibility of Coloyan as a witness. The Decision dated April 20,

1995 of the Court of Appeals, affirming the disquisition of the Court of


Appeals, and the Resolution dated October 27, 1998 of the Third Division of
this Court, finding that no reversible error was committed by the trial court,
should have impressed upon petitioner that issues relating to the trial courts
appreciation of the evidence have already been settled and thus, can no
longer be reviewed anew by this Court. As early as the 1913 case of Trono
Felipe v. Director of Prisons,[13] we have laid down the rule that an application
for habeas corpus cannot function as a writ of error. We explained therein
that:
But the writ of habeas corpus is not a remedy for the correction of such
errors.[14] Court cannot, in habeas corpus proceedings, review the record in a
criminal case after judgment of conviction has been rendered, and the
defendants have entered on the execution of the sentence imposed, to
ascertain whether the facts found by the trial court were in accordance with
the evidence disclosed by the record, or to pass upon the correctness of
conclusions of law by the trial court based on the facts thus found. Under the
statute, a commitment in due form based on a final judgment convicting and
sentencing a defendant in a criminal case is conclusive evidence of the
legality of his detention under such commitment, unless it appears that the
court which pronounced the judgment was without jurisdiction or exceeded its
jurisdiction in imposing the penalty. Mere errors of fact or law, which did not
have the effect of depriving the trial court of its jurisdiction over the cause and
the person of the defendant, if corrected at all, must be corrected on appeal in
the form and manner prescribed by law.[15]
As to the charge that the prosecution committed manifest prosecutorial
misconduct, we find the same bereft of merit. First, the existence of
exculpatory evidence is a matter of defense. As such, it is principally the duty
of the accused, not the prosecution, to bring its existence to the attention of
the court. Second, whether the Orders of Reconstitution issued by the
reconstitution officer and the LRA administrator on August 20, 1991 and
September 30, 1994, respectively, as well as the reconstituted TCT No.
308462 constitute sufficient evidence to exonerate petitioner from criminal
liability, involves appreciation and weighing of evidence, and for reasons
already stated, this Court is proscribed from again considering. Even
petitioners accusation that Coloyan was a paid and perjured witness was not
supported by evidence.
Similarly, apart from her bare allegations, petitioner offered no convincing
evidence to substantiate her claim that the ineffectiveness of her counsel
deprived her of her right to counsel. We specifically note that petitioners own
documentary evidence in support of the instant petition actually belies her

allegation that her counsel failed to adduce exculpatory evidence. Petitioners


Formal Offer of Exhibits before the trial court shows that among the evidence
offered by her counsel were the following:
Exhibit(s)
xxx
3, 4 and 4-A 4-B,
4-C and 4-D

Description(s)
xxx
(a) NBI Directors
Letter dated March 9,
1993, (Exh. 3)
transmitting to Hon.
Miguel V. Sison, Jr
the NBI Questioned
Documents Report
No. 151-393
(b) Questioned NBI
Documents Report No.
151-391 dated March
9, 1993

xxx
6

xxx
Adm. Reconstitution
Order No. Q-283 (91)
issued on August 20, 1991
by Land Registration
Authority (LRA) through
the Reconstitution Officer, Atty.
Benjamin Busto

Purpose(s)
xxx
(1) To prove that the NBI examined
TCT No. 308462 and the
signature of Vicente N. Coloyan
(2) To prove that the NBI
findings is that the signature
of Vicente N. Coloyan appearing
on (sic) TCT No. 308462 is written
by one and the same Vicente N.
Coloyan, Acting Register of
Deeds, whose standard signatures
appear on various titles on
file with the Registry of
Deeds, Quezon City
(3) to prove that this Questioned
Documents Report No. 151-393
submitted by Document Examiner
Rogelio G. Azores was approved
by NBI
(4) To prove that TCT No.
308462 is genuine, not falsified
xxx
(1) To prove that the LRA
approved the Administrative
Reconstitution of the
Accuseds TCT No. 308462
for Lot 822-C-1 and Lot
822-C-2, Piedad Estate
(2) To prove that this Adm.
Reconstitution Order had
already acquired finality
when the reconstitution
of TCT No.308462
was recalled by Atty. Busto
(3) To prove that TCT
No. 308462 is genuine,
not falsified16 (Underscoring ours)

It appears, however, that these documents were among the official acts
repeatedly cited by petitioner as presupposing official determination and
findings that Coloyans signature on TCT No. 308462 was genuine and,
therefore, allegedly constituted evidence exempting petitioner from criminal

liability. Petitioner faulted her counsel in Criminal Case No. Q-94-53589 for
being ineffective in that her counsel allegedly failed to formally offer in
evidence the said documents but the record shows that her counsel did not
fail to do so.
Significantly, it is not disputed that petitioner appealed the adverse
Decision or judgment of conviction dated April 20, 1995 of the RTC of Quezon
City to the Court of Appeals; that the Court of Appeals and later this Court
affirmed the conviction of the petitioner; and that Entry of Judgment was made
on August 8, 1999. The petitioner, therefore, may not validly resort to this
present petition for habeas corpus in lieu of her lost or dismissed appeal in the
said criminal case. The petition of herein petitioner who is out on bail,
appears to be patently intended for delay.
WHEREFORE, petitioner Azucena L. Garcia, having failed to establish
sufficient cause to warrant issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, the instant
petition is hereby DENIED.
SO ORDERED.

VI.

FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 139789. May 12, 2000]
ERLINDA K. ILUSORIO, petitioner, vs. ERLINDA I. BILDNER and SYLVIA
K. ILUSORIO, JOHN DOE and JANE DOE,respondents. Mesm
[G.R. No. 139808. May 12, 2000]
POTENCIANO ILUSORIO, MA. ERLINDA I. BILDNER, and SYLVIA
ILUSORIO, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and ERLINDA K.
ILUSORIO, respondents.
DECISION
PARDO, J.:
May a wife secure a writ of habeas corpus to compel her husband to live with
her in conjugal bliss? The answer is no. Marital rights including coverture and

living in conjugal dwelling may not be enforced by the extra-ordinary writ


of habeas corpus.
A writ of habeas corpus extends to all cases of illegal confinement or
detention, or by which the rightful custody of a person is withheld from the
one entitled thereto. Slx
[1]

[2]

"Habeas corpus is a writ directed to the person detaining another,


commanding him to produce the body of the prisoner at a designated time and
place, with the day and cause of his capture and detention, to do, submit to,
and receive whatsoever the court or judge awarding the writ shall consider in
that behalf."
[3]

It is a high prerogative, common-law writ, of ancient origin, the great object of


which is the liberation of those who may be imprisoned without sufficient
cause. It is issued when one is deprived of liberty or is wrongfully prevented
from exercising legal custody over another person.
[4]

[5]

The petition of Erlinda K. Ilusorio is to reverse the decision of the Court of


Appeals and its resolution dismissing the application forhabeas corpus to
have the custody of her husband, lawyer Potenciano Ilusorio and enforce
consortium as the wife.
[6]

[7]

[8]

On the other hand, the petition of Potenciano Ilusorio is to annul that portion
of the decision of the Court of Appeals giving Erlinda K. Ilusorio visitation
rights to her husband and to enjoin Erlinda and the Court of Appeals from
enforcing the visitation rights.
[9]

The undisputed facts are as follows: Scslx


Erlinda Kalaw Ilusorio is the wife of lawyer Potenciano Ilusorio.
Potenciano Ilusorio is about 86 years of age possessed of extensive property
valued at millions of pesos. For many years, lawyer Potenciano Ilusorio was
Chairman of the Board and President of Baguio Country Club.
On July 11, 1942, Erlinda Kalaw and Potenciano Ilusorio contracted
matrimony and lived together for a period of thirty (30) years. In 1972, they

separated from bed and board for undisclosed reasons. Potenciano lived at
Urdaneta Condominium, Ayala Ave., Makati City when he was in Manila and
at Ilusorio Penthouse, Baguio Country Club when he was in Baguio City. On
the other hand, Erlinda lived in Antipolo City.
Out of their marriage, the spouses had six (6) children, namely: Ramon
Ilusorio (age 55); Erlinda Ilusorio Bildner (age 52); Maximo (age 50); Sylvia
(age 49); Marietta (age 48); and Shereen (age 39).
On December 30, 1997, upon Potencianos arrival from the United States, he
stayed with Erlinda for about five (5) months in Antipolo City. The children,
Sylvia and Erlinda (Lin), alleged that during this time, their mother gave
Potenciano an overdose of 200 mg instead of 100 mg Zoloft, an
antidepressant drug prescribed by his doctor in New York, U.S.A. As a
consequence, Potencianos health deteriorated.
On February 25, 1998, Erlinda filed with the Regional Trial Court, Antipolo City
a petition for guardianship over the person and property of Potenciano
Ilusorio due to the latters advanced age, frail health, poor eyesight and
impaired judgment.
[10]

On May 31, 1998, after attending a corporate meeting in Baguio City,


Potenciano Ilusorio did not return to Antipolo City and instead lived at
Cleveland Condominium, Makati. Slxsc
On March 11, 1999, Erlinda filed with the Court of Appeals a petition
for habeas corpus to have the custody of lawyer Potenciano Ilusorio. She
alleged that respondents refused petitioners demands to see and visit her
husband and prohibited Potenciano from returning to Antipolo City.
[11]

After due hearing, on April 5, 1999, the Court of Appeals rendered decision
the dispositive portion of which reads:
"WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing disquisitions,
judgment is hereby rendered:
"(1) Ordering, for humanitarian consideration and upon petitioners
manifestation, respondents Erlinda K. Ilusorio Bildner and Sylvia

Ilusorio-Yap, the administrator of Cleveland Condominium or


anywhere in its place, his guards and Potenciano Ilusorios staff
especially Ms. Aurora Montemayor to allow visitation rights to
Potenciano Ilusorios wife, Erlinda Ilusorio and all her children,
notwithstanding any list limiting visitors thereof, under penalty of
contempt in case of violation of refusal thereof; xxx
"(2) ORDERING that the writ of habeas corpus previously issued
be recalled and the herein petition for habeas corpus be DENIED
DUE COURSE, as it is hereby DISMISSED for lack of unlawful
restraint or detention of the subject of the petition.
"SO ORDERED."

[12]

Hence, the two petitions, which were consolidated and are herein jointly
decided.
As heretofore stated, a writ of habeas corpus extends to all cases of illegal
confinement or detention, or by which the rightful custody of a person is
withheld from the one entitled thereto. It is available where a person continues
to be unlawfully denied of one or more of his constitutional freedoms, where
there is denial of due process, where the restraints are not merely involuntary
but are unnecessary, and where a deprivation of freedom originally valid has
later become arbitrary. It is devised as a speedy and effectual remedy to
relieve persons from unlawful restraint, as the best and only sufficient defense
of personal freedom. Jksm
[13]

[14]

[15]

The essential object and purpose of the writ of habeas corpus is to inquire into
all manner of involuntary restraint, and to relieve a person therefrom if such
restraint is illegal.
[16]

To justify the grant of the petition, the restraint of liberty must be an illegal and
involuntary deprivation of freedom of action. The illegal restraint of liberty
must be actual and effective, not merely nominal or moral.
[17]

[18]

The evidence shows that there was no actual and effective detention or
deprivation of lawyer Potenciano Ilusorios liberty that would justify the

issuance of the writ. The fact that lawyer Potenciano Ilusorio is about 86 years
of age, or under medication does not necessarily render him mentally
incapacitated. Soundness of mind does not hinge on age or medical condition
but on the capacity of the individual to discern his actions.
After due hearing, the Court of Appeals concluded that there was no unlawful
restraint on his liberty.
The Court of Appeals also observed that lawyer Potenciano Ilusorio did not
request the administrator of the Cleveland Condominium not to allow his wife
and other children from seeing or visiting him. He made it clear that he did not
object to seeing them.
As to lawyer Potenciano Ilusorios mental state, the Court of Appeals
observed that he was of sound and alert mind, having answered all the
relevant questions to the satisfaction of the court.
Being of sound mind, he is thus possessed with the capacity to make choices.
In this case, the crucial choices revolve on his residence and the people he
opts to see or live with. The choices he made may not appeal to some of his
family members but these are choices which exclusively belong to
Potenciano. He made it clear before the Court of Appeals that he was not
prevented from leaving his house or seeing people. With that declaration, and
absent any true restraint on his liberty, we have no reason to reverse the
findings of the Court of Appeals.
With his full mental capacity coupled with the right of choice, Potenciano
Ilusorio may not be the subject of visitation rights against his free choice.
Otherwise, we will deprive him of his right to privacy. Needless to say, this will
run against his fundamental constitutional right. Es m
The Court of Appeals exceeded its authority when it awarded visitation rights
in a petition for habeas corpus where Erlinda never even prayed for such
right. The ruling is not consistent with the finding of subjects sanity.

When the court ordered the grant of visitation rights, it also emphasized that
the same shall be enforced under penalty of contempt in case of violation or
refusal to comply. Such assertion of raw, naked power is unnecessary.
The Court of Appeals missed the fact that the case did not involve the right of
a parent to visit a minor child but the right of a wife to visit a husband. In case
the husband refuses to see his wife for private reasons, he is at liberty to do
so without threat of any penalty attached to the exercise of his right.
No court is empowered as a judicial authority to compel a husband to live with
his wife. Coverture cannot be enforced by compulsion of a writ of habeas
corpus carried out by sheriffs or by any other mesne process. That is a matter
beyond judicial authority and is best left to the man and womans free choice.
WHEREFORE, in G. R. No. 139789, the Court DISMISSES the petition for
lack of merit. No costs.
In G. R. No. 139808, the Court GRANTS the petition and nullifies the decision
of the Court of Appeals insofar as it gives visitation rights to respondent
Erlinda K. Ilusorio. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
VII.

SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 122954. February 15, 2000]
NORBERTO FERIA Y PACQUING, petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF
APPEALS, THE DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS,
MUNTINLUPA, METRO MANILA (IN PLACE OF THE JAIL WARDEN OF
THE MANILA CITY JAIL), THE PRESIDING JUDGE OF BRANCH II,
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MANILA, and THE CITY PROSECUTOR,
CITY OF MANILA, respondents.
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:

The mere loss or destruction of the records of a criminal case subsequent to


conviction of the accused will not render the judgment of conviction void, nor
will it warrant the release of the convict by virtue of a writ of habeas corpus.
The proper remedy is the reconstitution of judicial records which is as much a
duty of the prosecution as of the defense.
Subject of this petition for review on certiorari are (1) the Decision dated April
28, 1995, of the Eighth Division of the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the
dismissal of the petition for habeas corpus filed by petitioner, and (2) the
Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated December 1, 1995, which denied the
Motion for Reconsideration. As hereafter elucidated, we sustain the judgment
of respondent appellate court.
Based on the available records and the admissions of the parties, the
antecedents of the present petition are as follows:
Petitioner Norberto Feria y Pacquing has been under detention since May 21,
1981, up to present by reason of his conviction of the crime of Robbery with
Homicide, in Criminal Case No. 60677, by the Regional Trial Court of Manila,
Branch 2, for the jeepney hold-up and killing of United States Peace Corps
Volunteer Margaret Viviene Carmona.
[1]

Some twelve (12) years later, or on June 9, 1993, petitioner sought to be


transferred from the Manila City Jail to the Bureau of Corrections in
Muntinlupa City, but the Jail Warden of the Manila City Jail informed the
Presiding Judge of the RTC-Manila, Branch 2, that the transfer cannot be
effected without the submission of the requirements, namely, the Commitment
Order or Mittimus, Decision, and Information. It was then discovered that the
entire records of the case, including the copy of the judgment, were missing.
In response to the inquiries made by counsel of petitioner, both the Office of
the City Prosecutor of Manila and the Clerk of Court of Regional Trial Court of
Manila, Branch 2 attested to the fact that the records of Criminal Case No.
60677 could not be found in their respective offices. Upon further inquiries, the
entire records appear to have been lost or destroyed in the fire which occurred
at the second and third floor of the Manila City Hall on November 3, 1986.
[2]

[3]

[4]

On October 3, 1994, petitioner filed a Petition for the Issuance of a Writ


of Habeas Corpus with the Supreme Court against the Jail Warden of the
Manila City Jail, the Presiding Judge of Branch 2, Regional Trial Court of
Manila, and the City Prosecutor of Manila, praying for his discharge from
confinement on the ground that his continued detention without any valid
judgment is illegal and violative of his constitutional right to due process.
[5]

In its Resolution dated October 10, 1994, the Second Division of this Court
resolved [6]

" x x x (a) to ISSUE the Writ of Habeas Corpus; (b) to ORDER the
Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila to conduct
an immediate RAFFLE of this case among the incumbent judges
thereof; and (c) to REQUIRE [1] the Judge to whom this case is
raffled to SET the case for HEARING on Thursday, October 13,
1994 at 8:30 A.M., try and decide the same on the merits and
thereafter FURNISH this Court with a copy of his decision
thereon; [2] the respondents to make a RETURN of the Writ on or
before the close of office hours on Wednesday, October 12, 1994
and APPEAR PERSONALLY and PRODUCE the person of
Norberto Feria y Pa[c]quing on the aforesaid date and time of
hearing to the Judge to whom this case is raffled, and [3] the
Director General, Philippine National Police, through his duly
authorized representative(s) to SERVE the Writ and Petition, and
make a RETURN thereof as provided by law and, specifically, his
duly authorized representative(s) to APPEAR PERSONALLY and
ESCORT the person of Norberto Feria y Pa[c]quing at the
aforesaid date and time of hearing."
The case was then raffled to Branch 9 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila,
which on November 15, 1994, after hearing, issued an Order dismissing the
case on the ground that the mere loss of the records of the case does not
invalidate the judgment or commitment nor authorize the release of the
petitioner, and that the proper remedy would be reconstitution of the records
of the case which should be filed with the court which rendered the decision.
[7]

Petitioner duly appealed said Order to the Court of Appeals, which on April 28,
1995, rendered the assailed Decision affirming the decision of the trial court
with the modification that "in the interest of orderly administration of justice"
and "under the peculiar facts of the case" petitioner may be transferred to the
Bureau of Corrections in Muntinlupa City without submission of the
requirements (Mittimus, Decision and Information) but without prejudice to the
reconstitution of the original records.
[8]

The Motion for Reconsideration of the aforesaid Order having been denied for
lack of merit, petitioner is now before us on certiorari, assigning the following
errors of law:
[9]

[10]

I. WHETHER OR NOT, UNDER THE PECULIAR


CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS CASE, WHERE THE RECORDS
OF CONVICTION WERE LOST, THE PETITIONERS
CONTINUED INCARCERATION IS JUSTIFIED UNDER THE
LAW.
COROLLARY TO THIS, WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF
APPEALS RESOLUTION, AFFIRMING THE DENIAL OF
HEREIN APPELLANTS PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS IS,
IN CONTEMPLATION OF LAW, A JUDGMENT OR A
SUBSTITUTE JUDGMENT, WHICH CAN BE UTILIZED AS A
SUFFICIENT BASIS FOR HIS INCARCERATION.
II. WHETHER OR NOT THE RECONSTITUTION OF OFFICIAL
RECORDS LOST/DESTROYED SHOULD BE INITIATED BY
THE GOVERNMENT AND ITS ORGANS, WHO ARE IN
CUSTODY OF SUCH, OR BY THE PRISONER, WHOSE
LIBERTY IS RESTRAINED.
Petitioner argues that his detention is illegal because there exists no copy of
a valid judgment as required by Sections 1 and 2 of Rule 120 of the Rules of
Court, and that the evidence considered by the trial court and Court of
Appeals in the habeas corpus proceedings did not establish the contents of
such judgment. Petitioner further contends that our ruling in Gunabe v.
Director of Prisons, 77 Phil. 993, 995 (1947), that "reconstitution is as much
[11]

the duty of the prosecution as of the defense" has been modified or


abandoned in the subsequent case of Ordonez v. Director of Prisons, 235
SCRA 152, 155 (1994), wherein we held that "[i]t is not the fault of the
prisoners that the records cannot now be found. If anyone is to be blamed, it
surely cannot be the prisoners, who were not the custodians of those
records."
In its Comment, the Office of the Solicitor General contends that the sole
inquiry in this habeas corpus proceeding is whether or not there is legal basis
to detain petitioner. The OSG maintains that public respondents have more
than sufficiently shown the existence of a legal ground for petitioners
continued incarceration, viz., his conviction by final judgment, and under
Section 4 of Rule 102 of the Rules of Court, the discharge of a person
suffering imprisonment under lawful judgment is not authorized. Petitioners
remedy, therefore, is not a petition forhabeas corpus but a proceeding for the
reconstitution of judicial records.
[12]

The high prerogative writ of habeas corpus, whose origin is traced to antiquity,
was devised and exists as a speedy and effectual remedy to relieve persons
from unlawful restraint, and as the best and only sufficient defense of personal
freedom. It secures to a prisoner the right to have the cause of his detention
examined and determined by a court of justice, and to have the issue
ascertained as to whether he is held under lawful authority. Consequently,
the writ may also be availed of where, as a consequence of a judicial
proceeding, (a) there has been a deprivation of a constitutional right resulting
in the restraint of a person, (b) the court had no jurisdiction to impose the
sentence, or (c) an excessive penalty has been imposed, as such sentence is
void as to such excess. Petitioners claim is anchored on the first ground
considering, as he claims, that his continued detention, notwithstanding the
lack of a copy of a valid judgment of conviction, is violative of his constitutional
right to due process.
[13]

[14]

[15]

Based on the records and the hearing conducted by the trial court, there is
sufficient evidence on record to establish the fact of conviction of petitioner
which serves as the legal basis for his detention. Petitioner made judicial
admissions, both verbal and written, that he was charged with and convicted

of the crime of Robbery with Homicide, and sentenced to suffer imprisonment


"habang buhay".
In its Order dated October 17, 1994, the RTC-Manila, Branch 9, made the
finding that [16]

"During the trial and on manifestation and arguments made by the


accused, his learned counsel and Solicitor Alexander G.
Gesmundo who appeared for the respondents, it appears clear
and indubitable that:
(A) Petitioner had been charged with Robbery with
Homicide in Criminal Case No. 60677, Illegal
Possession of Firearm in Criminal Case No. 60678
and Robbery in Band in Criminal Case No. 60867. ...
In Criminal Case No. 60677 (Robbery with
Homicide) the accused admitted in open Court that
a decision was read to him in open Court by a
personnel of the respondent Court (RTC Branch
II) sentencing him to Life Imprisonment (Habang
buhay)..." (emphasis supplied)
Further, in the Urgent Motion for the Issuance of Commitment Order of the
Above Entitled Criminal Case dated June 8, 1993, petitioner himself stated
that [17]

"COMES NOW, the undersigned accused in the above entitled


criminal case and unto this Honorable Court most respectfully
move:
1. That in 1981 the accused was charge of (sic) Robbery with
Homicide;
2. That after four years of trial, the court found the accused
guilty and given a Life Sentence in a promulgation handed
down in 1985; (emphasis supplied)

3. That after the sentence was promulgated, the Presiding Judge


told the councel (sic) that accused has the right to appeal the
decision;
4. That whether the de oficio counsel appealed the decision is
beyond the accused comprehension (sic) because the last time
he saw the counsel was when the decision was promulgated.
5. That everytime there is change of Warden at the Manila City
Jail attempts were made to get the Commitment Order so that
transfer of the accused to the Bureau of Corrections can be
affected, but all in vain;"
Petitioners declarations as to a relevant fact may be given in evidence
against him under Section 23 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court. This rule is
based upon the presumption that no man would declare anything against
himself, unless such declaration were true, particularly with respect to such
grave matter as his conviction for the crime of Robbery with Homicide.
Further, under Section 4 of Rule 129, "[a]n admission, verbal or written, made
by a party in the course of the proceedings in the same case, does not require
proof. The admission may be contradicted only by a showing that it was made
through palpable mistake or that no such admission was made." Petitioner
does not claim any mistake nor does he deny making such admissions.
[18]

The records also contain a certified true copy of the Monthly Report dated
January 1985 of then Judge Rosalio A. De Leon, attesting to the fact that
petitioner was convicted of the crime of Robbery with Homicide on January 11,
1985. Such Monthly Report constitutes an entry in official records under
Section 44 of Rule 130 of the Revised Rules on Evidence, which is prima
facie evidence of facts therein stated.
[19]

Public respondents likewise presented a certified true copy of Peoples


Journal dated January 18, 1985, page 2, issued by the National Library,
containing a short news article that petitioner was convicted of the crime of
Robbery with Homicide and was sentenced to "life imprisonment." However,
newspaper articles amount to "hearsay evidence, twice removed" and are
therefore not only inadmissible but without any probative value at all whether
[20]

[21]

objected to or not, unless offered for a purpose other than proving the truth
of the matter asserted. In this case, the news article is admissible only as
evidence that such publication does exist with the tenor of the news therein
stated.
[22]

As a general rule, the burden of proving illegal restraint by the respondent


rests on the petitioner who attacks such restraint. In other words, where the
return is not subject to exception, that is, where it sets forth process which on
its face shows good ground for the detention of the prisoner, it is incumbent on
petitioner to allege and prove new matter that tends to invalidate the apparent
effect of such process. If the detention of the prisoner is by reason of lawful
public authority, the return is considered prima facie evidence of the validity of
the restraint and the petitioner has the burden of proof to show that the
restraint is illegal. Thus, Section 13 of Rule 102 of the Rules of Court provides:
[23]

"SEC. 13. When the return evidence, and when only a plea.If it
appears that the prisoner is in custody under a warrant of
commitment in pursuance of law, the return shall be considered
prima facie evidence of the cause of restraint, but if he is
restrained of his liberty by any alleged private authority, the return
shall be considered only as a plea of the facts therein set forth,
and the party claiming the custody must prove such facts."
Public respondents having sufficiently shown good ground for the detention,
petitioners release from confinement is not warranted under Section 4 of Rule
102 of the Rules of Court which provides that "Sec. 4. When writ not allowed or discharge authorized. - If it
appears that the person alleged to be restrained of his liberty is in
the custody of an officer under process issued by a court or judge
or by virtue of a judgment or order of a court of record, and that
the court or judge had jurisdiction to issue the process, render the
judgment, or make the order, the writ shall not be allowed; or if the
jurisdiction appears after the writ is allowed, the person shall not
be discharged by reason of any informality or defect in the
process, judgment, or order. Nor shall anything in this rule be held
to authorize the discharge of a person charged with or convicted

of an offense in the Philippines, or of a person suffering


imprisonment under lawful judgment."
In the case of Gomez v. Director of Prisons, 77 Phil. 458 (1946), accused was
convicted by the trial court of the crime of rape, and was committed to the
New Bilibid Prison. Pending appeal with the Court of Appeals, the records of
the case were, for reasons undisclosed, completely destroyed or lost.
Accused then filed a petition for the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus with
the Supreme Court. The Court denied the petition, ruling thus:
"The petition does not make out a case. The Director of Prisons is
holding the prisoner under process issued by a competent court in
pursuance of a lawful, subsisting judgment. The prisoner himself
admits the legality of his detention. The mere loss or destruction
of the record of the case does not invalidate the judgment or the
commitment, or authorize the prisoners release."
Note further that, in the present case, there is also no showing that petitioner
duly appealed his conviction of the crime of Robbery with Homicide, hence for
all intents and purposes, such judgment has already become final and
executory. When a court has jurisdiction of the offense charged and of the
party who is so charged, its judgment, order, or decree is not subject to
collateral attack by habeas corpus. Put another way, in order that a judgment
may be subject to collateral attack by habeas corpus, it must be void for lack
of jurisdiction. Thus, petitioners invocation of our ruling in Reyes v. Director
of Prisons, supra, is misplaced. In the Reyes case, we granted the writ and
ordered the release of the prisoner on the ground that "[i]t does not appear
that the prisoner has been sentenced by any tribunal duly established by a
competent authority during the enemy occupation" and not because there
were no copies of the decision and information. Here, a copy of the mittimus is
available. And, indeed, petitioner does not raise any jurisdictional issue.
[24]

[25]

The proper remedy in this case is for either petitioner or public respondents to
initiate the reconstitution of the judgment of the case under either Act No.
3110, the general law governing reconstitution of judicial records, or under
the inherent power of courts to reconstitute at any time the records of their
finished cases in accordance with Section 5 (h) of Rule 135 of the Rules of
[26]

Court. Judicial records are subject to reconstitution without exception,


whether they refer to pending cases or finished cases. There is no sense in
limiting reconstitution to pending cases; finished cases are just as important
as pending ones, as evidence of rights and obligations finally adjudicated.
[27]

[28]

[29]

Petitioner belabors the fact that no initiative was taken by the Government to
reconstitute the missing records of the trial court. We reiterate, however, that
"reconstitution is as much the duty of the prosecution as of the
defense." Petitioners invocation of Ordoez v. Director of Prisons, 235
SCRA 152 (1994), is misplaced since the grant of the petition for habeas
corpus therein was premised on the loss of recordsprior to the filing of
Informations against the prisoners, and therefore "[t]he government has failed
to show that their continued detention is supported by a valid conviction or by
the pendency of charges against them or by any legitimate cause
whatsoever." In this case, the records were lost after petitioner, by his own
admission, was already convicted by the trial court of the offense charged.
Further, the same incident which gave rise to the filing of the Information for
Robbery with Homicide also gave rise to another case for Illegal Possession
of Firearm, the records of which could be of assistance in the reconstitution
of the present case.
[30]

[31]

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit, and the decision of
the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
VIII.

FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 137560. January 19, 2000]
IN RE: PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS OF DAVID CRUZ y GONZAGA
MARIA CRUZ y GONZAGA and DAVID CRUZ y GONZAGA, petitioners, vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, SUPERINTENDENT OF THE NATIONAL
PENITENTIARY, DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF
CORRECTIONS, respondents. Misoedp

DECISION
PUNO, J.:
This is a consolidated petition for certiorari and habeas corpus. The petition
for certiorari was filed by David Cruz y Gonzaga questioning the Resolution of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 16944 which dismissed his appeal from the
judgment of conviction of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 167, Pasig, Metro Manila
for failure to file appellant's brief. The petition for habeas corpus was filed by David
Cruz's mother, Maria Cruz y Gonzaga, against respondents Superintendent of the
National Penitentiary and the Director of the Bureau of Corrections.
[1]

Petitioner David Cruz y Gonzaga was charged before the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 167, Pasig, Metro Manila with a violation of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6425,
the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. He allegedly sold to another person on April 11,
1992 dried marijuana fruiting tops weighing 2.70 grams. On September 23, 1993, the
trial court found David Cruz guilty of the crime charged and sentenced him to suffer
life imprisonment with all the accessory penalties of the law and to pay a fine of
P20,000.00 and the costs.
David Cruz seasonably appealed to this Court. The First Division accepted his appeal
and the case was docketed as G.R. No. 113390. Meanwhile, David Cruz was
transferred from the Municipal Jail to the New Bilibid Prisons. His counsel of record,
Atty. Carmelo L. Arcilla, was notified and required to file the appellant's brief within
thirty (30) days from notice. The notice was, however, returned unserved.
On October 3, 1994, we issued a Resolution referring the appeal to the Court of
Appeals in view of the effectivity of Republic Act No. 7659 and the promulgation of
the case of People v. Martin Simon y Sunga. We noted that as the quantity of the
marijuana involved in the case was less than 750 grams, the imposable penalty on the
appellant was not life imprisonment but one within the range of prision
correccional to reclusion temporal, in accordance with the People v. Simon y
Sunga ruling.
[2]

A second notice to file appellant's brief was sent to the new address of David Cruz's
counsel, as furnished by Cruz. The notice was again returned unserved.

On September 19, 1995, David Cruz filed with us an "Urgent Motion to Withdraw
Appeal." Attached to the motion was the Indorsement of Assistant Director Jesus P.
Villanueva, Bureau of Corrections, stating that the legal effects of the Motion were
adequately explained to Cruz. The motion was referred to the Court of Appeals. Misedp
On October 24, 1995, the Court of Appeals, Seventh Division, issued a Resolution
holding in abeyance its resolution on the motion to withdraw appeal "until the
situation is explained to him by the Director, National [sic] Bilibid Prison." The
Director was ordered to submit a written report, together with the reply of David Cruz,
within ten (10) days from receipt thereof. In the same Resolution, the Court of
Appeals also noted that:
"The penalty imposable for the offense charged against David Cruz,
considering the quantity of the prohibited drug involved, is 6 months
of arresto mayor, as the minimum, to four (4) years and two (2) months
of prision correccional, as the maximum, pursuant to the Sunga case.
"By 1996, David Cruz shall have served the maximum penalty
imposable. We seriously doubt if this was explained to him.
x....x....x.
"SO ORDERED."

[3]

No report was submitted by the Director, New Bilibid Prisons.

[4]

A third notice to file appellant's brief was sent to David Cruz's counsel which he
received on June 8, 1996. Despite this receipt, no appellant's brief was filed.
On September 18, 1996, the Court of Appeals issued another Resolution declaring
David Cruz's appeal as abandoned and dismissed the same. The dispositive portion of
this Resolution reads as follows:
"For failure to file appellant's brief despite receipt by accused-appellant's
counsel on June 8, 1996 of the notice to do so, the court resolved to
consider the appeal ABANDONED and accordingly DISMISSED
pursuant to Section 8, Rule 124 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal
Procedure."
[5]

This Resolution became final and executory on October 14, 1996. Judgment was
entered on April 1, 1997. In 1998, petitioner Maria Cruz sought the assistance of the
Office of Legal Aid of the University of the Philippines College of Law. Hence, this
petition.
[6]

Petitioners claim that:


"I. The Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion in
considering petitioner's appeal abandoned despite its October 24, 1995
Resolution.
"II. The correct penalty to be imposed should be determined in a new
trial. Jjsc
"III. There is no lawful writ or process which justifies petitioner's
restraint of liberty."
[7]

The petition for certiorari must be dismissed.


Respondent Court of Appeals did not err in declaring the appeal of petitioner David
Cruz as abandoned and dismissed. Section 8 of Rule 124 of the 1985 Rules on
Criminal Procedure, as amended, provides:
"Sec. 8. Dismissal of appeal for abandonment or failure to prosecute.The appellate, court may, upon motion of the appellee or on its own
motion and notice to the appellant, dismiss the appeal if the
appellant fails to file his brief within the time prescribed by this
Rule, except in case the appellant is represented by a counsel de
oficio.
"The court may also, upon motion of the appellee or on its own motion,
dismiss the appeal if the appellant escapes from prison or confinement or
jumps bail or flees to a foreign country during the pendency of the
appeal."
[8]

An appeal may be dismissed by the Court of Appeals, upon motion of the appellee or
upon the court's own motion, if the appellant fails to file his brief within the

prescribed time. The only exception is when the appellant is represented by


counsel de officio.
Petitioner David Cruz was represented not by counsel de officio, but by counsel of his
own choice. His lawyer, Atty. Carmelo Arcilla, was counsel departe before the trial
court, before this Court on appeal, and before the Court of Appeals. There is nothing
in the records that would show that Atty. Arcilla withdrew his representation of
petitioner. On the contrary, the notice from the Court of Appeals requiring the filing of
the appellant's brief was received by Atty. Arcilla. And despite this receipt, still no
appellant's brief was filed. It was more than three (3) months later that the appellate
court issued the questioned Resolution. By dismissing David Cruz's appeal, the Court
of Appeals acted within its discretion.
A new trial to determine his penalty cannot be granted petitioner. A motion for new
trial may be granted by the Court of Appeals only on the ground of newly discovered
evidence material to the accused's defense. This is clear from Section 14, Rule 124 of
the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, to wit:
"Sec. 14. Motion for new trial.-At any time after the appeal from the
lower court has been perfected and before the judgment of the appellate
court convicting the accused becomes final, the latter may move for a
new trial on the ground of newly discovered evidence material to his
defense, the motion to conform to the provisions of Section 4, Rule
121." Scjj
Maria Cruz's petition for habeas corpus, on the other hand, must be granted. Her son,
David, was tried and convicted by the trial court for violation of Article II, Section 4
of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. He was convicted on September 27, 1993 and
sentenced to life imprisonment and its accessory penalties. He was committed to the
National Penitentiary on October 13, 1993. On December 31, 1993, Republic Act
(R.A.) No. 769 took effect. This law amended provisions of several penal laws,
including the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972.
Before R. A. No. 7659, Article II, Section 4 of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972
provided:

"Sec 4. Sale, Administration, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation


of Prohibited Drugs. --. The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a
fine ranging from twenty thousand to thirty thousand pesos shall be
imposed upon any person who, unless authorized by law, shall sell,
administer, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch in transit or
transport any prohibited drug, or shall act as a broker in any of such
transactions. If the victim of the offense is a minor, or should a
prohibited drug involved in any offense under this Section be the
proximate cause of the death of a victim thereof, the maximum penalty
herein provided shall, be imposed."
With the effectivity of R. A. No. 7659, Section 4, Article II now reads:
"Sec. 4. Sale; Administration, Delivery, Distribution and
Transportation of Prohibited Drugs. - The penalty of
reclusion perpetua to death, and a fine ranging from five hundred
thousand pesos to ten million pesos shall be imposed upon any person
who, unless authorized by law, shall sell, administer, deliver, give away
to another, distribute, dispatch in transit or transport any prohibited drug,
or shall act as a broker in any of such transactions.
"Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 20 of this Act to the contrary,
if the victim of the offense is a minor, or should a prohibited drug
involved in any offense under this Section be the proximate cause of the
death of a victim thereof, the maximum penalty herein provided shall be
imposed."
R.A. No. 7659 also added the following provision:
"Sec. 17. Section - 20, Article IV of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended,
known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, is hereby amended to read
as follows: Supremex
"Sec. 20. Application of Penalties, Confiscation and
Forfeiture of the Proceeds or Instrument of the Crime.-The
penalties for offenses under Sections 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 of
Article II and Sections 14, 14-A, 15 and 16 of Article III of

this Act shall be applied if the dangerous drugs involved is


in any of the following quantities:
"1. x x x
xxx
5. 750 grams or more of indian hemp or
marijuana; x x x."
"Otherwise, if the quantity involved is less than the
foregoing quantities, the penalty shall range from prision
correccionalto reclusion perpetua depending upon the
quantity.
"x x x."
The penalty for the illegal sale of marijuana under the old law was "life imprisonment
to death." Under R.A. 7659, the penalty depended on the quantity of the drug. The
sale of "750 grams or more of Indian hemp or marijuana" became punishable
by reclusion perpetua, to death. The penalty for the sale of less than 750 grams of
marijuana was reduced to a range "from prision correccional to reclusion perpetua,
depending upon the quantity" of the drug.
[9]

In the 1994 case of People v. Simon y Sunga, we held that for drugs with quantities
weighing 750 grams or more, and for drugs with quantities weighing below 750
grams, reclusion perpetua could not be imposed twice. The penalty of "prision
correccional" to reclusion perpetua" for drug offenses where the quantity involved is
less than those enumerated in the first paragraph of Section 17 of R.A. 7659 was
construed as "prisioncorreccional to reclusion temporal." This was the range of the
imposable penalty for drugs weighing less than 750 grams and the proper penalty
depended on the quantity of the drug involved. If the drug weighs less than 250
grams, the penalty to be imposed is prision correctional; from 250 grams to 499
grams, prision mayor; and from 500 grams to 749 grams, reclusion temporal.
[10]

[11]

[12]

In the instant case, the amount of marijuana for which David Cruz was convicted is
2.70 grams. The imposable penalty for this amount under the Simonruling is prision
correctional which has a duration of six (6) months and one (1) day to six (6) years.

Presently, David Cruz has already served six (6) years and three (3) months of his
sentence which is way beyond the last day of prision correccional. The continued
detention of Cruz at, the National Penitentiary has been admitted by the Solicitor
General as already illegal. David Cruz should therefore be released from prison
without further delay.Courtx
[13]

An application for the writ of habeas corpus is made upon verified petition setting
forth: (1) that the person in whose behalf the application is made is imprisoned or
restrained of his liberty; (2) the officer or name of the person by whom he is
imprisoned or restrained; (3) the place where he is imprisoned or restrained of his
liberty; and (4) a copy of the commitment or cause of detention of such person. The
writ of habeas corpus extends to all cases of illegal confinement or detention by which
any person is deprived of his liberty.
[14]

[15]

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is GRANTED. Let a writ of habeas corpus issue
immediately. The Director, Bureau of Corrections, is commanded to forthwith execute
the writ for the discharge of DAVID CRUZ y GONZAGA from confinement and
RELEASE him, unless he is being detained for some other lawful cause, and to make
due return of the writ. With costs de officio.
FURTHER, in view of the Court of Appeals' dismissal of petitioner's appeal on the
ground of abandonment for failure to file appellant's brief, Atty. Carmelo L. Arcilla is
hereby ordered to explain within fifteen (l5) days from receipt of this decision why no
disciplinary action should be taken against him by this Court.
SO ORDERED. Edpsc