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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-18619 February 20, 1922

GEORGE H. GANAWAY, petitioner,


vs.
J. W. QUILLEN, Warden of Bilibid Prison, respondent.

G. E. Campbell for petitioner.


Attorney-General Villareal for respondent.

MALCOLM, J.:

The petitioner in this original action in habeas corpus asks that he be released from Bilibid Prison
because of imprisonment for debt in a civil cause growing out if a contract. The return of the
Attorney-General alleges as the reason for petitioner's incarceration in Bilibid Prison an order of the
Hon. George R. Harvey, judge of First Instance of the city of Manila, issued under authority of
Chapter XVII of the code if Civil Procedures. As standing alone the petition for habeas corpus was
fatally defective in its allegations, this court on its motion, ordered before it the record of the lower
court in the case entitled Thomas Casey et al. vs. George H. Ganaway.

The complaint in the civil case last mentioned is grounded on a contract, and asks in effect for an
accounting. That this is true is shown by the phraseology of the complaint which repeatedly speaks
of an agreement entered into by the plaintiffs and the defendants, by Exhibit A, relating to the
publication of a book named "Forbes' Memoirs," and which describes itself as "this contract," by the
receipt attached to Exhibit A, which mentions "the contract," and by the order of the trial judge on
demurrer which says that "the plaintiffs allege a contract with the defendant and a breach of the
contract by the defendant.

The constitutional prohibition in effect in the Philippine Islands is in the same category ass those
States in which imprisonment for debt is absolutely prohibited. The Constitution of the Philippine
Islands, unlike some States in the American Union, makes no exception in cases of fraud. The
prohibition in the Philippine Bill, reproduced in the Jones Law, is "that no person shall be imprisoned
for debt." It should be given the same interpretation which similar provisions have received in the
United States.

Abolition of imprisonment for debt was brought about by the force of public opinion which looked with
abhorrence on statutory provision which permitted the cruel imprisonment of debtors. The people
sought to prevent the use of the power of the State to coerce the payment of debts. The control of
the creditor over the person of his debtor was abolished by human statutory and constitutional
provisions.

One of the first States to adopt the constitutional provision in the absolute form appearing in this
jurisdiction was Alabama. In the leading case of Carr vs. State of Alabama ([1895], 106 Ala., 35; 34
L. R. A., 634), the Supreme Court of Alabama held that a statute making it a misdemeanor for a
person engaged in banking to receive a deposit of money or other thing of value knowing himself to
be in failing circumstances or insolvent, and providing that upon conviction he shall be fined not less
than double the amount of such deposit, one-half of which shall be paid to the depositor, but that
payment to the depositor of the amount deposited with costs, before conviction, shall be a complete
defense to any prosecution under the statute, was void. The court, speaking through the leader
Justice McClellan, made the following observations:

The elimination of the exception as to frauds was a pregnant omission, which left the
guaranty of immunity from imprisonment to the debtor to apply to all cases of debt, whether
they involved fraud or not. So that the statute we are considering can derive no aid from the
idea that the receipt of a deposit by a banker under the circumstances stated is a fraud, and
hence that the transactions would constitute "a case of fraud", since even in such cases
there can be no imprisonment for debt.

The imprisonment for debt" which the framers of constitutions embodying this provision
doubtless had most prominently in mind was imprisonment upon process issuing in civil
actions the object and sole purpose of which were the collections of debts. It was to remove
the evils incident to the system of taking the debtor's person upon a capias ad
satisfaciendum that this organic inhibition came primarily to be ordained. But the effect of its
ordination has been to establish a public policy much broader in its influence upon legislation
and operation upon judicial proceedings than would have sufficed for the eradication of the
ills which attended upon the recovery, or attempted recovery, of debts by restrain of the
debtor's person. This policy is inimical alike to the incarceration of a debtor as a means of
coercing payment, and to his ,punishment by imprisonment for a failure to pay, at least when
such failure results from inability.

The "debt" intended to be covered by the constitutional guaranty has a well-defined meaning.
Organic provisions relieving from imprisonment for debt, were intended to prevent the commitment
for debtors to prison for liabilities arising from actions ex contractu. The inhibition was never meant
to conclude damages arising in actions ex delicto, for the reason that the damages recoverable
therein do not arise from any contract entered into between the parties, but are imposed upon the
defendant for the wrong he has done and are considered as a punishment therefor, nor to fines and
penalties imposed by the courts in criminal proceedings as punishments for crime. (Freeman vs. U.
S. [1910], 217 U.S., 539.) In this connection, it may be said that the reason for the decision of the
Supreme Court of Georgia in the case of Harris vs. Bridges ( [1856], 57 Ga., 407), mainly relied
upon by the Attorney-General, will be found to be because the action was one in tort.

The Code of Civil Procedure took effect on October 1, 1901; that is, prior to the enactment of the
Philippine Bill. Chapter XVII of the Code is entitled "Arrest of Defendant." A comparison of the
provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure in the Philippines with the Code of Civil Procedure of
California shows clearly that the Philippine provisions on the subject of arrest of defendants were
taken bodily from the California Code. However, the constitutional provision in California differs from
ours because it declares that "no person shall be imprisoned for debt, in any civil action on mesne or
final process, unless in cases fraud." We are, therefore, not bound by the decisions of the Supreme
Court of California because, obviously, our basic constitutional provision must override any statutory
provision in conflict therewith.

A quite similar question has been once before presented to this court. Two Chinese, under the firm
name of Sang Kee, commenced an action in the Court of First Instance of the city of Manila against
the Chinaman Tan Cong, to recover judgment for the sum of P30,000. The plaintiffs alleged in their
petition, among other things, that on or about the first day of January, 1904, the defendant was
employed by the plaintiffs as a general agent for their mercantile establishment; that the defendant
had been requested to turn over the funds, personal property, stocks, etc., to the plaintiffs, but that
he had refused to do so. The detention of the defendant was ordered by the Judge of First Instance.
A petition for habeas corpus was presented to the Supreme Court, and in a learned decision, the
vacation judge, Mr. Justice Johnson held that the provision of section 5 of the Philippine Bill
expressly prohibited the imprisonment of citizens of the Philippine Islands in actions for the recovery
of money in a cause of action arising on a contract, and ordered the release from imprisonment of
the petitioner. We would now make the decision, just described, the authoritative decision of the
Court sitting in banc, (See Tan Cong vs.Stewart [1907], 5 Off, Gaz., 365.)1

It is clear that the action ending in the Court of First Instance of the city of Manila in which Thomas
Casey et al. are plaintiffs and George H. Ganaway is the defendant, is one predicated on an
obligation arising upon a contract. Consequently, the imprisonment of the petitioner is in
contravention of organic law. It is for us in the Philippine Islands to let no obstacle interfere with a
reasonable enforcement of the enlightened principle of free government relating to imprisonment for
debt. It may, however, be appropriate to remark that our holding need not be taken as going to the
extent of finding Chapter XVII of the Code of Civil Procedure invalid and should be understood as
limited to the facts before us and as circumscribed by the various exception to the constitutional
prohibition.

This court has, heretofore, in a minute order, directed the discharge from imprisonment of the
petitioner, and this decision is in explanation thereof. The minute order will, therefore, stand as the
authoritative adjudication of the court. Costs de officio. So ordered.

Araullo, C.J., Johnson, Avanceña, Villamor, Ostrand, Johns and Romualdez, JJ., concur.

Footnotes

1
[No. 4073. June 14, 1907]

TAN CONG, petitioner, vs. M. L. STEWART, Acting Director of Prisons, respondent.

L. M. Southworth for petitioner.


Gibbs and Gale for respondent.

JOHNSON, J.:

On the 31st day of May, 1907, Tang Lap Ting and Ho Tung Shan, partners under the
firm name of Sang Kee, by their attorneys commenced an action in ;the Court if First
Instance of the city of Manila against the petitioner herein, for the purpose of
recovering judgment for the sum of 30,000 pesos, and such additional sum as may
be found to be due said plaintiffs upon an accounting of the business of the said
copartnership.

The plaintiffs alleged in their petition that they were residents of the city of Victoria,
colony of Hongkong; that they were partners and coowners in a mercantile
establishment in the city of Manila, under the industrial name of Sang Kee; that on or
about 1st day of January, 1904, the petitioner herein was employed by the said
plaintiffs as a general agent for said mercantile establishment; that said petitioner (or
defendant in that action) on or about the said 1st day of January, 1904, took charge
of said business and all the property, merchandise, funds, credits, etc., of said
mercantile establishment and continued in the management of said business as such
general agent until the end of the year 1905 or the beginning of the year 1906, when
said mercantile establishment was closed by order and direction of the said plaintiffs;
that at the time said mercantile establishment was closed the petitioner (or defendant
in that action) had in his possession belonging to the said plaintiffs, personal
property, stocks, credits, etc., amounting to the sum of 30,000 pesos; that the said
petitioner had been requested to turn over the said funds, personal property, stocks,
etc., to the plaintiffs, but that he had refused so to do. On the same day one Chan A.
Chong, as attorney for the said plaintiffs, filed an affidavit stating, among other
things, that he, as such attorney for the said plaintiffs, had on various occasions
asked the said petitioner for a settlement of the accounts of the said business of
Sang Kee and that the books, accounts, and balance of the business, etc., be
delivered to him; that the said petitioner had failed and refused to comply with said
request; that the petitioner had refused to indicate the whereabouts of the books and
balance pertaining to the business; that the petitioner had closed all his private
business in the city of Manila; that he had applied to the customs authorities of the
city of Manila for a certificate to allow him as a Chinese merchant to leave the
Philippine Islands for China; that he intended to leave Manila either on May 31 or
June 1, 1907, that he intended to take with him out of the Philippine Islands a
considerable amount of money obtained by the unlawful investment of the balance of
the assets of said firm Sang Kee; that he intended to leave the Philippine Islands with
the intention of defrauding his creditors; that the action commenced by the plaintiffs
against the petitioner herein was for the goods and money concealed,
misappropriated, and used by the petitioner as manager and agent for the plaintiffs
during the performance of his commission and for the voluntary violations of his
duties; that the action commenced against him was for the purpose of recovering the
possession of personal property unlawfully retained by the petitioner herein, who had
seizure; that the petitioner was guilty of fraud; that the action was brought for
concealing and selling property which should have been retained by the petitioner,
and that the petitioner had transferred and sold his property with the intention of
defrauding his creditors. On the same day the judge of the Court of First Instance of
the city of Manila issued the following order for the detention of the petitioner herein:

"(Tang Lap Ting y otro, contra Chung Chew Kon, etc., — Orden de detencion del
demandado)

"AL SHERIFF DE MANILA, salud:

"Por cuanto que Tang Lap Ting y Ho Tung Shan de Victoria, Colonia de Hongkong
se han querellado bajo juramento ante mi, Juez del Juzgado de Primera Instancia de
la Ciudad de Manila, que Chun Chew Kong alias Chino Kon alias Tan Congco de
Manila, debe a dichos Tang Lap Ting, Ho Tung Shan (demandantes) la cantidad de
treinta mil pesos (P30,000) y que dicho Chun Chew Kong ha malversado y
apropiado dichos fondos,

"Y por cuanto el demandante ha prestado la fianza que, marca la ley.

"Nosotros, por lo tanto, le ordenamos que detenga en seguida a dicho demandado y


le traiga ante este juzgado, a menos que el demandado preste una fianza en la
cantidad de treinta mil pesos (P30,000) conforme a derecho, y que V. devuelva a
dicho juzgado este mandamiento con sus diligencias,
"Firmado de mi mano este dia 31 de mayo de 1907.

(Signed by Judge of the Court of First Instance


of the city of Manila.)"

Upon the foregoing order of detention, the petitioner herein was arrested and turned over to
the warden of Bilibid Prison and has been detained there since said date as a prisoner.

On the 6th day of June the petitioner herein presented a petition for a writ of habeas corpus,
alleging that he was imprisoned and restrained of liberty illegally and that said illegality
consisted in that he was deprived of his liberty without due process of law and his
imprisonment for debt is in violation of the provisions of the Bill of Rights included in the Act
of Congress of July 1, 1902.

Upon these allegations the writ of habeas corpus was issued returnable before the writer,
acting as vacation judge, upon the 7th day of June, 1907, at 10 o'clock a. m.

The petitioner alleges that he is imprisoned for debt and that imprisonment for debt is
prohibited in the Philippines Islands by virtue of one of the provisions of section 5 of the Act
of Congress of July 1, 1902, known as the Philippine Bill. Said section 5, among other things,
provides "that no person shall be imprisonment for debt."

The defendant was arrested and imprisoned by virtue of the provisions of chapter 17 of Act
No. 190 of the Philippine Commission, known as the "Code of Procedure in Civil Actions."
Said Act No. 190 became effective in the Philippine Islands on the 1st day of October, 1901.
Said Act of Congress became effective upon the 1st day of July, 1902. The petitioner claims
that the above quoted provisions of section 5 of the Act of Congress repealed said chapter
17 of Act No. 190, providing for imprisonment for debt and that therefore he cannot be
imprisoned for debt under the laws now in force in the Philippine Islands. This is the simple
question presented in the application for the writ of habeas corpus.

The Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States contains no inhibition against
imprisonment for debt; however, by an Act of Congress approved February 28, 1839 (5 Stat.
at L., 321) Congress enacted "that no person shall be imprisoned for debt in any State, on
process issued out of a court of the United States, where, by the laws of such State,
imprisonment for debt has been abolished; and where, by the laws of the State,
imprisonment for debt shall be allowed under certain conditions and restrictions, the same
conditions and restrictions shall be applicable to process issued out of the courts of the
United States, and the same proceedings shall be had therein as are adopted in the courts of
such States."

By this Act of Congress the United States courts existing in a State are governed by the laws
of the State relating to imprisonment for debt. The foregoing Act of Congress was amended
on the 14th day of January, 1841 (5 Stat. at L., 410), providing that the above-quoted Act of
Congress "shall be construed as to abolish imprisonment for debt on process issued out of
any court of the United States, in all cases whatever, where, by the laws of the State in which
the said court shall be held, imprisonment for debt has been, or shall hereafter be,
abolished."

By an Act of Congress approved March 2, 1867, it was provided (14 Stat. at L., 543) "That
whenever any defendant is arrested or imprisoned (under process issued out of United
States courts) he shall be entitled to discharge from such arrest or imprisonment in the same
manner as if he was arrested or imprisoned on like process of said courts in the same
district," etc.

An examination of the constitutional provisions of the various States disclose the fact that all
of them contain provisions inhibiting the imprisonment of citizens for debt. These
constitutional provisions may be divided into two general classes:

(1) Those which inhibit the imprisonment of citizens for debt, except for fraud, etc.;
and

(2) Those which inhibit imprisonment for debt without any exception or any further
provisions.

A large majority of the State constitution contain the first provision. An examination of the
decisions of these States, so far as it has been possible, discloses the uniform rule that
unless there is some fraud perpetrated in the creation of the debt, a person will not be
imprisoned for debt. Many decisions might be cited to support this statement.

The author of the article entitled "Imprisonment for Debt" (16 American and English
Encyclopedia of Law) says that the only States which have constitutional provisions
corresponding with the second clause are Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri,
Tennessee, and Texas. We have been able to examined the constitutional provisions of
Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, and Mississippi only, and therefore can not verify the
statement of the author of this article as to the others.

The constitutional provisions in the States of Missouri is that "imprisonment for debt shall not
be allowed, except for the nonpayment of fines and penalties imposed for violation of the
law." (See sec. 16, Constitution of Missouri of 1875.)

The constitution of the State of Alabama provides that: "The legislature shall pass no law
authorizing imprisonment for debt in civil cases." (See sec. 18 of the Constitution of
Tennessee of 1807.)

The constitution of the State of Texas provides that "No person shall ever be imprisoned for
debt." (Seesec. 18 of the Constitution of the State of Texas.)

The constitution of the State of Albama provides that "No person shall be imprisoned for
debt." (See article 21 of section 21 of the Constitution of the State of Alabama.)

The provision of the Philippine Bill is "that no person shall be imprisoned for debt." (See Act
of Congress of July 1, 1902.)

An examination of the quoted provisions of the contitutions of the foregoing-mentioned


States shows that their constitutional provisions are, in effect, the same as that contained in
the Philippine Bill, so far as imprisonment for debt is concerned, and it would seem that this
court would be justified in following the interpretation of the provisions of the constitutions of
the highest courts of record of these States.

After the adoption of the above-quoted provisions of the Constitution of the State of
Alabama, the legislature in 1892 passed an act declaring a banker who received a deposit,
knowing his insolvency, to be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of double the
deposit; one-half to go to the depositor, with imprisonment in case of nonpayment. Later, in
1895, one Carr, as president of a banking firm, received $355 from one Abernathy, knowing
at the time, or having good cause to believe, that said banking firm was in an insolvent and
failing condition. Later Carr was indicted under the provisions of the above-quoted statute.
Carr demurred to the said indictment, raising the question of the constitutionally of the
foregoing statute. The demurrer was overruled and Carr appealed to the supreme court.

The former constitution of the State of Alabama provided that: "No person shall be
imprisoned for debt except in cases of fraud." The Supreme Court of Alabama, in
considering the appeal (see Carr vs. State, 106 Ala., 35; 17 Southern Reporter, 350; 34
Lawyers' Reports Annotated, 634) said:

"That the elimination of the exception as to 'fraud' was a pregnant omission which left a
guaranty of immunity from imprisonment to the debtor to apply to all cases of debt, whether
they involved fraud or not. So that the statutes we are considering can derived no aid from
the idea that the receipt of the deposit by a banker under the circumstances stated, is a
fraud, and hence that the transaction would constitute 'a case of fraud,' since even in such
cases there can be no imprisonment for debt. 'The imprisonment for debt which the framers
of the constitutions embodying this provision doubtless had most prominently in mind, was
imprisonment upon process issued in civil actions, the object and sole purpose of which was
the collection of debts.'

"It was to remove the evil incident to the taking of the debtor's person upon a capias ad
satisfaciendum that this organic inhibition came primarily to be ordained, but the effect of the
ordination has been the establishment of a public policy which bordered in its influence upon
legislation and operation on judicial proceedings that would have sufficed for the reduction of
debts by the restraint of the debtor's person."

The Supreme court overruled the decision of the lower court, sustained the demurrer, and
discharged the defendant, holding that the case against Carr was one for debt, and that he
could not, therefore, be imprisoned.

After the adoption of the above provision in the constitution of the State of Tennessee, the
legislature of that State in 1887 provided that it should be--

"Unlawfull for any person or persons, firm, or corporation or company, to refuse to cash any
check or script of their own that may be presented within thirty days of the date of issuance,
and that any such person who should refuse to redeem any lawful currency, any such
checks, etc., would be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, should pay a fine of not
less than ten nor more than twenty-five dollars for each offense."

Under this law the "Paint Rock Coal Company" was indicted. The defendant presented a
demurrer to the indictment, upon the ground that the said Act (Act of 1887) was
unconstitutional, in that it impaired the obligation of the contract and attempted to imprison
the defendant for refusing to pay a debt. The lower court sustained the demurrer and the
prosecuting attorney appealed to the supreme court. The supreme court (State vs. Paint
Rock Coal Company, etc., 92 Tenn., 81) held that the act was violative of the spirit, if not of
the letter, of the constitutional provision. It is an indirect imposition of imprisonment for the
nonpayment of debt, and is, therefore, clearly within the constitutional inhibition.

In Missouri, in the case of Coughlin vs. Ehlert (39 Mo., 285), it was held that since the
abolition of imprisonment for debt "a party can not be imprisoned for refusing to obey an
order or decree directing the mere payment of money." (See also Roberts vs. Stoner, 18
Mo., 481.)

In Wisconsin, in the case of In re Blair (4 Wis., 422), it was held that the constitutional
provisions against imprisonment for debt must have the effect of rendering void any order or
judgment ordering imprisonment for debt.

These constitutional provisions of the various States have been the result of many years of
gradual growth. They marked the change which had taken place from the days of the feudal
system and before, when a debtor who was unable to pay his debt was either sent to prison
or became the personal slave of the creditor. These constitutional provisions are of the
greatest importance to the citizen. The right to personal liberty is one of the most valuable
and most cherished rights appertaining to men in society and one of which he cannot be
deprived, except by the judgment of the courts, or by the law of the land. In the barbaric age
of the law, an unfortunate debtor could be deprived of this inestimable right if he failed to pay
an hones debt. His creditor could keep him in his own custody or send him to jail for the
simple misfortune of being poor. This was so in all the States of the Union whose organic
laws has been established prior to the year 1818, except in the one State of Tennessee. In
that year the constitution of this State was adopted, which contained, as one of its
fundamental principles — alike beneficient and just — this provision:

"No person shall be imprisoned for debt, unless on refusal to deliver up his estate for the
benefit of his creditors in such manner as may be described by law, or in cases where there
is strong presumption of fraud."

Since this beneficent provision in the constitution of Tennessee, all of the States of the Union
have adopted provisions prohibiting imprisonment for debt, so that to-day in none of the
States of the Union may a man be imprisoned for debt, unless such debt grew out of some
fraud. In the case of Meyer vs. Berlandi et al., and Bohn Manufacturing Co. vs. Jameson (39
Minn., 38; 1 Lawyers's Reports Annotated, 777), the Supreme Court of Minnesota said, with
reference to the statute which attempted to imprison one for debt in the absence of fraud:

"That this is returning with a vengeance to the old barbarous fiction upon which
imprisonment for debt was originally based, viz., that a man who owed a debt and did not
pay it was a trespasser against the peace and dignity of the crown and for this supposititious
crime was liable to arrest and imprisonment — such a statute can not be sustained for a
moment."

We are convinced that a person, under the provisions of the Philippine Bill, cannot be
imprisoned in the Philippine Islands for debt. The question is presented, whether or not in the
present case there was an attempt to imprison the petitioner herein for debt and this raises
the question, What is debt? In Webster's International Dictionary "debt is defined as "that
which is due from person to another, whether money, goods, or service; that which on the
person is bound to pay another, or to perform for his benefit; thing owed; obligation; liability."
In law, it is "an action to recover a certain specific sum of money alleged to in bookkeeping to
express the left-hand page of the ledger or of an account to which are carried all the articles
supplied or amounts paid on the subject of an account or which are charged to that account;
the balance of an account where it shows that something remains due to party keeping the
account." Black in his law dictionary, defines debt as "a sum of money due by a certain and
express agreement" or as "a sum of money due a contract." Escriche, in his "Diccionario de
Legislacion y Jurisprudencia," defines a debt as "la obligacion que alguno tiene de pagar,
satisfacer o reintegrar a otro alguna cosa." Valbuena, in his "Novismo Diccionario" defines a
debt as follows: "Obligacion de pagar, de satisfacer a otro."

The Supreme Court of Illinois, in the case of Parker vs. Follensbee (45 III., 473), in denying
the meaning of the word "debt" as used in the constitutions, said:

"That any liability to pay money growing of a contract, express or implied, constitutes a debt
within the meaning of this provision of the constitution."

Under these definitions the question arises: Was the action which was begun by Tang Lap
Ting and Ho Tung Shang against the petitioner herein on the 31th day of May, 1907, an
action for debt? An examination of the complaint filed discloses the following facts:

(1) That the plaintiff were partners and coowners of a mercantile establishment in the
city of Manila under the industrial name of Sang Kee.

(2) That or about the 1st day of January, 1904, the petitioner herein was employed
by the plaintiffs is that action as general agent for said mercantile establishment, and
that on to about the same date, by the virtue of an express employment, took charge
of said business, with all property, merchandise, funds, credits, etc., and the end of
the year 1905 or the beginning of the year 1906, when said business was closed by
the order and direction of the said plaintiffs.

(3) That at the time of the closing of said business, the petitioner herein, in
accordance with accounts rendered by him to the plaintiffs, had in his possession,
belonging to the funds of said business, personal property, stocks, credits, etc., that
exceeded the total sum of 30,000 pesos, which crime into his possession in the
exercise of his employment.

The plaintiffs in that action prayed for judgment against the petitioner herein in the sum of
30,000 pesos and asked for an accounting of said business.

It appears from the said petition that whatever property of whatever class which came into
the possession of the petitioner herein, belonging to the plaintiffs in that action, was turned
over to him by them voluntarily. There is no allegation of fraud on the part of the petitioner
herein in securing possession of said property. He was given charge of said property, with
authority to manage and control the same as an employee of the plaintiffs. Certainly this
created an obligation on the part of the petitioner herein to return such property, or so much
thereof as might be the result agent. This relation between the petitioner and the plaintiffs in
that action created the relation of obligator and obligee, the result of which may be clearly
denominated the relation of debtor and creditor.

The plaintiffs alleged that they had made frequent demands upon the petitioner for a delivery
of said property and that the petitioner refused to comply with said request or demands. We
are not of the opinion that these demands made by the plaintiffs upon the petitioner changed
the relation which originally existed between the parties, that of debtor and creditor. There
may have existed legal reasons justifying the petitioner in refusing to deliver over to the
plaintiffs the said property. He may have had just claims against the plaintiffs which
constituted a lien upon said property, as well as other, under the provisions of the Penal
Code, might be liable criminally for the refusal to deliver over property which he had received
with the duty to return the same, upon his refusal so to do; but certainly his refusal to comply
with the terms of a contract under which he had assumed the relation of debtor did not
destroy that relation.

The petitioner was arrested and lodged in jail under the provisions of chapter 17 of the Code
of Procedure in Civil Actions. Section 412 of said chapter provides that —

"A defendant may be arrested in the following cases:

"(1) In an action for the recovery of money or damages on a cause of action arising
upon contract, express or implied, when the defendant is about to depart from the
Philippine Islands with intent to defraud his creditors.

"(2) In an action for money or property embezzlement in the course of his


employment or for willfully violating his duty.

"(3) In an action to recover the possession of personal property unjustly detained,


when the property of any part thereof has been concealed, removed, or disposed of
to prevent its being found or taken by the officer.

"(4) When the defendant has been guilty of fraud in contracting a debt or incurring
the obligation upon which the action is brought; or in concealing or disposing of the
property for the taking, detention, or conversion of which the action brought.

"(5) When the defendant has removed or disposed of his property or is about to do
so, with intent to defraud his creditors."

The action brought by the plaintiffs against the petitioner was an action for the recovery of
money in a cause of action arising on a contract. We are of the opinion, and so hold, that the
above-quoted provisions of section 5 of the Philippine Bill expressly prohibits the
imprisonment of the citizens of the Philippine Islands in action of that class, and therefore the
petitioner herein is hereby ordered to be released from imprisonment with costs de oficio. So
ordered.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

A.M. No. 297-MJ September 30, 1975

AVELINA SERAFIN, complainant,


vs.
MUNICIPAL JUDGE SANTIAGO LINDAYAG, respondent.

TEEHANKEE, J.:

The Court finds from the documentary evidence and established facts of the case that respondent
municipal judge grossly failed to perform his duties properly and is unfit for the office and therefore
orders his separation from the service. It is self-evident from the very face of the "criminal complaint"
for estafa, and the supporting sworn statements filed with and sworn to before him as well as the
very notes of preliminary examination taken by him that the "criminal" charge against complainant
showed no vestige of the essential elements of estafa but simply recited complainant's failure to pay
the creditors as alleged offended parties a simple indebtedness. Respondent judge's subsequent
crass attempt at exculpation by the submission of spurious evidence to cover up his liability is more
reprehensible than his guilt under the charge and shows his unworthiness for the office.

Complainant originally filed on October 19, 1971 with the Secretary of Justice the instant
administrative complaint for capricious and malicious admission in his court of a criminal complaint
for estafa against complainant and causing her wrongful arrest and detention, against respondent
Santiago Lindayag, municipal judge of Guiguinto, Bulacan. On December 28, 1971, then Executive
Judge Andres Sta. Maria to whom the administrative complaint had been referred sent his
indorsement to the Department of Justice recommending the exoneration of respondent on the
ground that complainant, assisted by her counsel, had filed a motion to withdraw her complaint.

No further action was taken until January 29, 1973 when the Department of Justice forwarded the
record of the case to this Court. After the transfer to this Court of the power of administrative
supervision over all inferior courts with the power to discipline and dismiss judges under the 1973
Constitution, 1 the Court, in view of the gravity of the charges as borne out by the documentary evidence,
referred anew on October 29, 1973 the complaint to the District Judge of Baliwag, Bulacan for
investigation and report, notwithstanding the previously reported withdrawal of the complaint. The Court
per its Resolution of December 19, 1973 denied respondent's petition to "consider the matter close and
terminated" by virtue of the previous recommendation in 1971 of Judge Sta. Maria and directed the
District Judge to proceed with the investigation.

On February 11, 1974, the Court received the overly long and detailed 34-page (single-space)
report 2 of the investigation conducted by Judge Juan F. Echiverri of the Baliwag court of first instance.
The complaint with its documentary evidence, the Investigator's Report and record of the proceedings
and the evidence of record amply substantiate the complaint, notwithstanding complainant's desistance
because she afterwards took pity on respondent and no longer wanted to be involved in the case, as
manifested by her when she appeared at the hearing and submitted the documentary evidence
supporting her complaint, pursuant to the process issued by the Investigating Judge for her attendance.

The criminal complaint for estafa against complainant (docketed as Criminal Case No. 1602) was
filed on July 21, 1971 with respondent judge by then Guiguinto chief of police Juan P. Estrella at the
instance of Carmelito Mendoza, then municipal secretary and his wife Corazon Mendoza. Said
complaint sworn to by said police chief before respondent judge on its face does not charge any
crime but merely recites complainant's failure to pay asimple indebtedness, thus:

That on or about the 20th day of July 1971, in the Municipality of Guiguinto, Province
of Bulacan, Philippines and within the preliminary jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused with intent of gain did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously owe the sum of ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED (P1,500.00)
PESOS, Philippine Currency, that said amount has long been due since January 28,
1971 and Mrs. Avelina N. Serafin failed to pay her account in spite ofdue notice sent
by registered mail and up to the present she failed to settle her obligation. 3

The supporting statements 4 executed and sworn to by the Mendoza spouses as offended parties before
respondent judge likewise show on their very face that their complaint was about a simple debt of
P1,500.00 borrowed by complainant from Mrs. Mendoza and which she had failed to repay despite her
promise to do so by January and February, 1971. (Both sworn statements recite that
complainant borrowed the amount - "ay umutang..... si ginang Avelina N. Serafin" and did not pay the
same.)

The notes taken during the preliminary examination conducted by respondent 5, consisting of seven simple
questions propounded by police chief Estrella as "private prosecutor" and of seven simple answers thereto given by Carmelito Mendoza
show beyond doubt that there is no vestige of the essential elements of estafa as provided in Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code but that
they had simply lent complainant the sum of P1,500.00 without any collateral or security because complainant was an old frien d ("sapagkat
matagal na naming siyang kaibigan"), that they believe her to be a good person ("at ang paniwala namin ay mabuti siyang tao") and that
when they wrote her a letter of demand, she promised to pay them and said that if she failed to keep her promise, they could get her valuable
things at her home.

In the same notes of preliminary examination, there is recorded as one "searching question and (sic)
provided for by Republic Act sec. (sic) 6" 6 what appears to be respondent's question as to whether
complainant had paid the money taken by her and Mendoza's answer in the negative, stating that such
non-payment was the reason why they filed the complaint so that she would be punished! 7

In admitting such a "criminal complaint" that was plainly civil in aspects from the very face of the
complaint and the "evidence" presented, and issuing on the same day the warrant of arrest upon his
utterly baseless finding "that the accused is probably guilty of the crime charged," respondent
grossly failed to perform his duties properly — which in this instance was to dismiss the complaint
outright since it is elementary that non-payment of an indebtedness is not a criminal act, much less
estafa; and that no one may be criminally charged and punished for non-payment of a loan of a sum
of money.

In recklessly issuing the warrant of arrest on July 22, 1971, respondent further enabled police chief
Estrella as "private prosecutor" of complainant's creditors, the Mendozas, to avail of the despicable
practice of some police officers to use the warrant as a means of harassment and serve it on
Saturdays when the person arrested cannot raise bail, as in fact complainant was arrested on a
Saturday, July 25, 1971 at a time when the bonding companies were closed for business and she
consequently had to undergo the humiliation of being detained for three days in the municipal jail up
to July 28, 1971 when she finally succeeded in putting up the P1,000.-bail bond fixed for her
release. 8
A modicum of circumspection on the part of respondent could have easily prevented such an
injustice and trampling upon of the complainant's basic rights. Indeed, two months afterwards, upon
the merit of complainant's counsel's motion to quash the criminal complaint (which motion, however,
somehow and notably got lost from the record of the case, infra) respondent in an Order dated
September 30, 1971 ultimately found the quashal motion as "well taken" and ordered the dismissal
of the case.

The Judiciary Act, Republic Act No. 296, precisely requires in section 87 thereof that "(N)o warrant of
arrest shall be issued by any municipal judge in any criminal case filed with him unless he first
examines the witness or witnesses personally, and the examination shall be under oath and reduced
to writing in the form of searching questions and answers." Respondent utterly failed to comply with
this requirement of searching questions and answers in his examination of the complaining witness.
Worse, the one question propounded by him shows that he did comprehend that the "criminal"
complaint involved a mere failure to pay a simple indebtedness and yet he found probable cause of
the herein complainant's guilt of estafa and forthwith issued the warrant of arrest against her —
which would indicate that either he believed that non-payment of an indebtedness constitutes the
crime of estafa which would make him guilty of gross ignorance of the law or although knowing the
law, of nevertheless disregarding it and giving due course to the town police chief's "prosecution" on
behalf of the municipal secretary which would constitute an utter betrayal of his oath of office to
render justice to every man.

It should also be noted that the Court directed the Investigating Judge to include in his report of
investigation certified true copies of the complete records of the criminal case thus filed against
complainant. This could not be wholly complied with, due to the loss of some of the records of the
said Criminal Case No. 1602, attributed by respondent to damage wrought by the 1972 floods.

Strangely enough, however, the motion to quash filed by complainant through counsel which was
eventually granted by respondent after two months was allegedly never found. Said motion to quash
would have been most likely on the self-evident ground that the facts charged do not constitute an
offense since no evidence whatever was presented by herein complainant in support thereof and
respondent's order of September 30, 1971 granting the same and dismissing the case made no
mention of any counter-evidence from complainant but simply granted the same as "meritorious and
well-taken". 9 If so, the motion to quash would have further reinforced the complaint that respondent either out of ignorance or partiality
and malice issued the baseless warrant of arrest. Respondent, notwithstanding the hearing given him on September 12, 1974 by the Court
and a further opportunity to submit a memorandum which was filed by him on November 11, 1974, did never clarify or explain to the Court's
satisfaction this matter as well as his other anomalous actions, as set forth in this decision.

The alleged loss of some records of the case furthermore furnished respondent the occasion to
include in the records of the case (as submitted by him to the Investigator) a purported Amended
Complaint 10 allegedly executed and sworn to before him by police chief Estrella on the same date as the
original criminal complaint (which would introduce the element of estafa by alleging that complainant
borrowed the sum of P1,500.00 from the Mendozas on the promise to buy on their behalf some
ornamental lamps but that she defrauded them, neither buying the lamps nor returning the money) and
another set of purported notes of preliminary examination 11 based on the Amended Complaint which
respondent allegedly conducted within 30 minutes of the examination conducted by him as per the
original notes of preliminary examination, 12 supra, (which would apparently justify his finding of probable
cause and issuance of the warrant of arrest) — but both documents were found by the Investigator to
be spurious. From an examination of the record and the evidence, the Court finds in order the
Investigator's findings and conclusion, as follows:

Indeed, the alleged amendment (Exh. 2) and the Notes of the Preliminary
Examination (Exhs. 1, 1-a, 1-B, 1-c and 1-d) if admitted as genuine and authentic
part of the records of Crim. Case 1602 would find the charges of the complainant
herein entirely baseless. But, as indicated in pages 17-18 herein, even only
a superficial examination of the appearance and condition of these documents, the
manner it was probably treated and dirtied, the alleged signature of Chief of Police
Juan P. Estrella, as well as the absence of "staple-holes on the top and sides of
these documents" which are present in the admitted genuine and authentic records
of said Crim. Case 1602, would lead us to the inescapable conclusion that these
Exhibits (1, 1-a, 1-b, 1-c, 1-d and 2) are definitely not genuine and authentic parts of
the records of Crim. Case No. 1602.

It is conceivable that two preliminary examinations of a criminal case could take


place within the space of 30 minutes after the first one was taken.

Painful as it may be, we feel duty bound to conclude and so find that respondent
acted whimsically, and capriciously in giving due course to the estafa complaint (Exh.
1 D), and issuing the warrant for the arrest of Avelina N. Serafin, complainant herein,
especially considering that later on Sept. 30, 1971, said respondent found that
the Motion to Quash filed by counsel for the accused was "meritorious and well
taken the same is granted" and consequently the case was dismissed. 13

In the Court's view, such a crass attempt at exculpation and cover-up by the submission of spurious
evidence as supposed records of the criminal case is more reprehensible than his guilt under the
charge and shows his unworthiness for the office.

A word as to then police chief Juan P. Estrella. The Court has examined the two complaints
allegedly executed by him as of the same date, July 21, 1971 and fully concurs with the
Investigator's observation that a comparison of Estrella's alleged signature on the purported
Amended Complaint with his admittedly genuine signature on the original complaint (Exhs. A and
D) 14 would show that the former alleged signature is "NOT GENUINE". 15 Respondent never presented
Estrella at the investigation to testify as to the authenticity of his alleged signature or the alleged second
preliminary examination based on the purported Amended Complaint. In respondent's memorandum
submitted to this Court on November 11, 1974, there is, however, submitted as Annex "A" a photocopy of
an affidavit purportedly executed on September 30, 1974 by Estrella attesting to his having executed an
Amended Complaint and as to the genuineness of his signature thereon, notwithstanding the evident
dissimilarity and disparity thereof, to the naked eye, with his admittedly genuine signature on the original
complaint. This matter shall be referred to the National Bureau of Investigation for the determination of
the genuineness of said signature on the purported Amended Complaint, as now belatedly claimed by
Estrella in his affidavit and contrary to the Investigator's finding, which claim if determined to be untrue,
would warrant his criminal prosecution.

This referral, however, can in no way affect the disposition of the case at bar. Such belated affidavit
of Estrella can not be admitted at this stage. Nevertheless, assuming that there were such a
purported amended complaint and a second preliminary examination conducted by respondent on
the basis thereof, still a judge of discernment and circumspection would have been wary of such a
second sworn complaint on the very same day totally contradictory of the first complaint which
referred to a plain indebtedness and was manifestly oblivious of the sacredness of an oath and
intended to make out a case of instant estafa regardless of the true facts, as recited by the alleged
offended parties in their original sworn statements and demand letter for payment.

Even prescinding from the aggravation of the cover-up, the Court finds that the penalty of dismissal
is called for, in line with the precedents and standards set by it.

In the analogous case of Carreon vs. Flores, 16 the Court ordered therein respondent municipal judge's
separation from the service for having rendered a verdict of conviction against therein complainant for
alleged theft of about a cavan of palay which could in no way be factually or legally justified, in that the
essential elements of unlawful taking and that the property stolen belonged to another were lacking.

As stressed therein by the Court citing other precedents, "(A) judge who disregards deliberately or is
ignorant of the basic fundamentals of law and justice is unfit to continue in office. Respondent's
separation from the service is thus called for, in line with the Court's action in Tadiar vs.
Caces 17 (dismissing therein respondent judge for dereliction of duty in resolving a motion to dismiss a
criminal case only after 18 months and failing to file the same and serve a copy thereof on the
prosecution) and in Municipal Council of Casiguran Quezon vs. Morales 18 (dismissing therein respondent
judge for unjustified absences from his station and being "unmindful of the exigencies of the public
service and neglectful of his duties to the prejudice of the residents of Casiguran")."

ACCORDINGLY, respondent is hereby dismissed from the office of municipal judge of Guiguinto,
Bulacan.

The Clerk of Court is directed to endorse to the Chief, National Bureau of Investigation, the original
complaint and purported amended complaint both allegedly executed by former Guiguinto chief of
police Juan P. Estrella as per his affidavit submitted with respondent's memorandum of November
11, 1974 as well as other pertinent documents and exhibits for comparison and determination of the
genuineness of said signatures and for the filing of the proper criminal prosecution should the
findings of the National Bureau of Investigation so warrant.

SO ORDERED.

Castro, Actg. C.J., Fernando, Makasiar, Antonio, Muñoz Palma, Aquino and Martin, JJ., concur.

Barredo J, took no part.

Makalintal, C.J., Esguerra and Concepcion, Jr., JJ., are on leave.

1 Article X, sections 6 and 7.

2 The Investigating Judge needlessly reproduced in the first 15 pages under "record
of proceedings held" the texts of numerous orders issued by him in the course of his
investigation.

3 Exh. D, Record, p. 133; emphasis supplied.

4 Exhs. D-1 and A-3, Record, pp. 134 and 148-a, respectively.

5 Exh. D-2, Record, p. 135.

6 The correct citation is Republic Act 296, as amended, sec. 87. Text thereof is
reproduced elsewhere in the decision.

7 Fn. 5; the exact text in Pilipino reads:

8 "Tanong: Mula ng kunin ang iyong pera at hanggang ngayong ay hindi


nagbabayad si Mrs. Avelina N. Serafin sa inyo?
9 Sagot: Hindi nga po, kung kaya ako o kami nagsusumbong upang maparusahan
siya."

10 Complaint, Record, p. 6.

11 Exhibit 7. Record, p. 163-a.

12 Exh. 2, Record, p. 151-a.

13 Exh. 1, Record, pp. 152-a to 154-a.

14 Exh. D-2, Record, p. 135.

15 Investigator's Report, p. 32; emphasis supplied.

16 Record, pp. 122-a and 133.

17 Investigator's Report, p. 32.

18 Adm. Case No. 111-MJ, May 30, 1975.

19 60 SCRA 215 (Oct. 21,1974) per Aquino, J.

20 61 SCRA 14 (Nov. 13,1974) per Esguerra, J.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-25091 November 29, 1968

NILDA SURA, in her behalf and in behalf of her minor child VICENTE MARTIN, JR., plaintiff-
appellee,
vs.
VICENTE SILVESTRE MARTIN, SR., defendant-appellant.

Bartolome S. Palma for plaintiff-appellee.


Adrian H. Villasis and Plaridel S. Katalbas for defendant-appellant.

CAPISTRANO, J.:

Appeal from the Orders of January 9, and February 1, 1965, of the Court of First Instance of Negros
Occidental ordering the arrest and imprisonment of the defendant, Vicente Martin, Sr., for contempt,
"hasta que cumpla con ladecision dictada en esta causa."

Appellant's statement of facts, accepted by the appellee, is as follows:

In Civil Case No. 5580 of the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental entitled, "NILDA
SURA, In her behalf and in behalf of her minor child, VICENTE MARTIN, JR., Plaintiffs,
versus VICENTE SILVESTRE MARTIN, SR., Defendant", judgment was rendered on June
20, 1961, amended on July 15, 1961, as follows:

EN MERITOS DE TODO LO EXPUESTO, el Juzgado falla esta causa como sigue:

(a) Se sobresee el primer motivo de accion de la demanda;

(b) Se ordena al demandado a que reconozca al demandante Vicente Martin, Jr.


como su hijo natural; y

(c) Se condena al demandado a pagar al demandante Vicente Martin, Jr., alimentos


atrasados a razon de P100.00 mensuales a contar desde el dia 10 de Diciembre de
1959, fecah de la presentacion de la demanda, y a pasar al mismo demandante una
pension mensual de P100.00 hasta que el mismo llegue a la mayor edad.

(d) Se condena al demandado a pagar los honorarios del abogado de las


demandantesen la cantidad de P1,000.00.

Las costas del presente juicio seran pagadas per el demandado.

Asi se ordena.

Ciudad de Bacolod, Julio 15, 1961.


(Fdo) EDUARDO D. ENRIQUEZ
Juez

From the above judgment, the defendant appealed to the Court of Appeals, and the latter
Court, in C.A. G.R. No. 30388-R, affirmed said decision on January 30, 1964.

On May 9, 1964, the Curt of First Instance of Negros Occidental issued the following order:

Upon petition of counsel for the plaintiff, the Clerk of Court is hereby ordered to issue
writ of execution, same be forwarded to the Provincial Sheriff of Negros Oriental.

SO ORDERED.

Bacolod City, Philippines, May 9, 1964.

(Sgd.) JOSE R. QUERUBIN


Judge

Pursuant to this aforecited order, a writ of execution was issued on May 9, 1964 by the Clerk
of Court, and the Provincial Sheriff of Negros Oriental served the same upon the defendant
in Tanjay, Negros Oriental but returned the writ unsatisfied. The second paragraph of the
Sheriff's return of service, dated September 21, 1964, stated:

The judgment debtor is jobless, and is residing in the dwelling house and in the
company of his widowed mother, at Tanjay, this province. Debtor has no leviable
property; he is even supported by his mother. Hereto attached is the certificate of
insolvency issued by the Municipal Treasurer of Tanjay, Negros Oriental, where
debtor legally resides.

On October 6, 1964, counsel for the plaintiff prayed that defendant, for failure to satisfy the
writ of execution, be adjudged guilty of contempt of court. On November 28, 1964, the Court
issued the following order:

AUTO

A peticion del abogado Sr. Villasis que representa al demandado, y con la


conformidad del abogado Sr. Tupaz, per el presente se le concede al demandado un
plazo de 30 dias contar desde esta fecha, para cumplir con la decision de este
Juzgado antes de que se le declare en desacato .

Asi se ordena.
Ciudad de Bacolod, Noviembre 28, 1964.

(Fdo) EDUARDO D. ENRIQUEZ


Juez

The defendant having failed to satisfy said order, the Court on January 9, 1965 issued the
following order:

AUTO
Habiendo dejado de cumplir con la orden de este Juzgado de fecha 28 de
Noviembre de 1964, por el presente se ordena el arresto del demandado Vicente
Silvestre, Sr.

Asi se ordena.
Ciudad de Bacolod, Enero 9, 1965.

EDUARDO D. ENRIQUEZ Juez

Notice of appeal from the last aforecited order was filed on January 26, 1965 by attorney for
the defendant who at the same time prayed for the fixing of a bond for the temporary release
of the defendant. On February 1, 1965, the Court issued the following order:

AUTO

Oidas y consideradas las explicaciones dadas por el demandado, en la silla testifical


el dia 28 de Noviembre de 1964, y no encontrandobien fundadas las razones
alegadas por el, por el presente se ordena el confinamiento de dicho demandado en
la carcel provincial hasta que cumpla con la decision deictada en esta causa. Se fija
en P7,000.00 la fianza que el demandado debe prestar sidesea apelar contra de
orden dictada en esta misma fecha.

Asi se ordena.
Ciudad de Bacolod, February 1, 1965.

EDUARDO D. ENRIQUEZ Juez

The orders for the arrest and imprisonment of the defendant, Vicente Martin, Sr., for contempt of
court for failure to satisfy the judgment were illegal, in view of the following considerandos:

(1) The judgment ordering the defendant to pay past and future support at P100 per month was a
final disposition of the case and was declaratory of the obligation of the defendant. The writ of
execution issued on the judgment with respect to past support in the amount of about P6,000
required "the sheriff or other proper officer" to whom it was directed (Rule 39, Section 8, Rules of
Court) to satisfy the amount out of all property, real and personal, of the judgment debtor in the
manner specified in Rule 39, Section 15, of the Rules of Court. The writ of execution was, therefore,
a direct order to the sheriff or other proper officer to whom it was directed, and not an order to the
judgment debtor. In view thereof, the judgment debtor could not, in the very nature of things, have
committed disobidience to the writ.

(2) The sheriff's return shows that the judgment debtor was insolvent. Hence the Orders of 9 and
February 1, 1965, in effect, authorized his imprisonment for debt in violation of the Constitution.

(3) The disobidience to a judgment considered as indirect contempt in Section 3(b)of Rule 71 of the
Rules of Court, does not refer to a judgment which is a final disposition of the case and which is
declaratory of the rights of the parties, but to a special judgment, which is defined in Section 9, Rule
39 of the Rules of Court as a judgment "which requires the performance of any other act than the
payment of money, or the sale or delivery of real or personal property."

According to Moran:
Generally, any order or judgement of a court finally disposing of an action should be
enforced by ordinary execution proceedings, except special judgments which should be
executed by contempt proceedings in accordance with Rule 39, sec. 9," citing Caluag, et al.
vs. Pecson, et al., 82 Phil. 8. (Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, 1963 Ed., Vol. 3, p.
320.)

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the appealed Orders of January 9 and February 1, 1965, are
hereby reversed. No costs.

Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro and Fernando,
JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-43290 December 21, 1935

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
AMBROSIO LINSAÑGAN, defendant-appellant.

Felino Cajucom for appellant.


Acting Solicitor-General Melencio for appellee.

ABAD SANTOS, J.:

Appellant was prosecuted for non-payment of the cedula or poll tax under section 1439, in
connection with section 2718, of the Revised Administrative Code. After due trial, he was sentenced
to suffer imprisonment for five days, and to pay the costs. From this judgment he appealed, alleging
that the trial court erred in not declaring said sections 1439 and 2718 of the Revised Administrative
Code unconstitutional and void. Section 1439 specifies the persons required to pay the cedula tax,
and the pertinent part ot section 2718 reads as follows:

A person liable to the cedula tax who remains delinquent in the payment of the same for
fifteen days after June first of each year and who upon demand of the provincial treasurer
foils thereafter to pay such tax as required by law shall be deemed to be guilty of a
misdemeanor; and the provincial treasurer may, in his discretion, cause the delinquent to be
prosecuted before the justice of the peace of the municipality in which the delinquent shall be
found, and upon conviction the person so delinquent shalI be sentenced to imprisonment for
five days for each unpaid cedula.

This case was tried and decided in the court below before the Constitution of the Philippines took
effect. But while this appeal was pending, the said Constitution became effective, and, section 1,
clause 12, of Article III thereof provides that "no person shall be imprisoned for debt or nonpayment
of a poll tax." This introduces a new element into the case, for while our previous organic law
provided that no person should be imprisoned for debt, it contained no express provision against
imprisonment for non-payment of a poll or cedula tax; and it is for this reason that the arguments of
counsel for the appellant are mainly directed to support the view that the judgment of convection
violates the provision of the Philippine Autonomy Act interdicting imprisonment for debt.

Under the present state of the law, the question squarely presented for determination is whether, in
view of Section 1, clause 12, of Article III of the Constitution, the judgment of conviction can stand.

As this is the first case in which the interpretation and application of certain provisions of the
Constitution of the Philippines are directly involved, it may not be amiss to refer briefly to the
immediate history of that important and unique document — unique in that it derives its binding force
not only from the will of the people of the Philippine Islands, but from the authority of the Congress of
the United States.
By the Act of Congress of March 24, 1934, popularly known as the Tydings-McDuffie Law, the
people of the Philippine Islands were authorized to adopt a constitution, subject to the conditions and
qualifications prescribed in said Act. The law required three distinct steps for the adoption of the
constitution. The first was the drafting and approval of the constitution by the constitutional
convention authorized to be called under the Act; the second was the certification by the President of
the United States that the constitution so drafted and approved conformed with the provisions of the
same Act; and the third was the ratification of the constitution by the people of the Philippine Islands
at an election or plebiscite called for the purpose of ratifying or rejecting the same. On July 30, 1934,
the constitutional convention met for the purpose of drafting a constitution, and the constitution
subsequently drafted was approved by the convention on February 8, 1935. The constitution was
submitted to the President of the United States on March 18, 1935; and on March 23, 1935, the
President certified that the constitution conformed substatitially with the provisions of the Act of
Congress approved March 24, 1934. On May 14, 1935, the constitution was ratified by the people.

The constitution provides for the establishment of a government that, in the language of the
preamble, shall embody the ideals of the Filipino people, conserve and develop the patrimony of the
nation, promote the general welfare, and secure to them and their posterity the blessings of
independence under a regime of justice, liberty, and democracy. The constitution also provides for a
republican form of government, follows the principle of the separation of powers, and contains a bill
of rights. It guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. In most of
its main features, it is modeled after the Constitution the United States which was characterized by
William Pitt, that eminent English stateman, as "the wonder and admiration of all future generations
and the model for all future constitutions," and by Gladstone, another English statesman of renown,
as "the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of men."

Section 4 of the Act of Congress of March 24, 1934, already mentioned, contains, among others, the
following provision:1awphil.ne t

. . . When the election of the officers provided for under the constitution has been held and
the results determined, the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands shall certify the
results of the election to the President of the United States, who shall thereupon issue a
proclamation announcing the results of the election, and upon the issuance of such
proclamation by the President the existing Philippine Government shall terminate and the
new government shall enter upon its rights, privileges, powers, and duties as provided under
the constitution. . . ..

The proclamation announcing the results of the election of the officers provided for under the
Constitution was issued by the President of the United States on November 15, 1935, on which date
the Government of the Commonwealth was inaugurated.

Turning again to the particular question raised in this case, section 2 of Article XV of the
Constitution, provides:

All laws of the Philippine Islands shall continue in force until the inauguration of the
Commonwealth of the Philippines; thereafter, such laws shall remain operative, unless
inconsistent with this Constitution, until amended, altered, modified, or repealed by the
National Assembly, and all references in such laws to the Government or officials of the
Philippine Islands shall be constued, in so far as applicable, to refer to the Government and
corresponding officials under this Constitution.

It seems too clear to require demonstration that section 2718 of the Revised Administrative Code is
inconsistent with section 1, clause 12, of Article III of the Constitution, in that, while the former
authorizes imprisonment for nonpayment of the poll or cedula tax, the latter forbids it. It follows that
upon the inauguration of the Government of the Commonwealth, said section 2718 of the Revised
Administrative Code became inoperative, and no judgment of conviction can be based thereon.

It results that the judgment appealed from must be reversed, and the case dismissed with costs de
oficio. So Ordered.

Avanceña, C.J., Malcolm, Villa-Real, Hull, Vickers, Imperial, Butte, Goddard, and Recto, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

A.M. No. 1098-CFI May 31, 1976

LUDOVICO AJENO, complainant,


vs.
HON. SANCHO Y. INSERTO, Judge of Court of First Instance of Iloilo, City of
Iloilo, respondent.

MARTIN, J.:

In a verified complaint dated October 25, 1975, complainant Ludovico Ajeno of Barotac, Nuevo,
Iloilo, charged Judge Sancho Y. Inserto of the Court of First Instance, Iloilo City for ignorance of the
law, particularly Article 39 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 5465 1 and
Article IV, Section 13 of the 1973 Constitution2 by sentencing complainant "to suffer an imprisonment of
four (4) months of arresto mayor, to Idemnify Solomon Banagua, Jr. in the sum of P200.00 with
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to pay the cost of the suit." 3 Complainant claims that
the indemnity of Two Hundred (P200.00) Pesos is a civil liability and to order his imprisonment for non-
payment thereof is in violation of the constitutional provision that "no person shall be imprisoned for
debt." 4 He thus prays this Court to remove respondent Judge from office "for incompetence and for lack
of the highest degree of intellectual responsibility and integrity required of him by the nature of his office.
... " 5

In his comment to the charge of complainant, respondent Judge admitted his error in imposing upon
the complainant the subsidary imprisonment of forty (40) days in case of insolvency, to pay the
indemnity of P200.00 to Solomon Banagua, Jr. and alleged among others that he realized his
oversight when the case was appealed to the Court of Appeals; that it was never his intention to
oppress anyone, much less the complainant; that at the time he committed the mistake he was
relying on the doctrine that what the Constitution prohibits is imprisonment for debt arising
exclusively from action ex contractu and does not include damages arising from action ex delictu,
fines, penalties imposed in criminal proceedings, citing the case of People vs. Cara, 41 Phil. 828. 6

The main issue in this case is whether the respondent Judge can be administratively held liable for
his error in imposing upon complainant the subsidiary imprisonment of forty (40) days in case of his
insolvency to pay the indemnity of P200.00 to the offended party in the criminal case filed against
him.

A well established doctrine that has gained foothold in our jurisdiction is that a judge must be wholly
free to render a just decision in the application of the correct law t to the facts of a given case. 7 This
is based on the legal truism embodied in the Canons of Judicial Ethics that precisely "courts exist to
promote justice, and thus to serve the public interest. Their administration should be speedy and careful.
Every judge should at all times be alert in his rulings and in the conduct of the business of the court, so
far as he can, to make it useful to litigants and to the community. He should avoid unconsciously falling in
to the attitude of mind that the litigants are made for the courts instead of the courts for the litigants." 8 Of
course this Court is aware of its policy of not disciplining judges for inefficiency on account merely of
occasional mistakes or errors of judgment committed by them 9 yet it is highly imperative that judges
should be conversant with the law including its latest amendments which they are to apply to the facts
and the evidence adduced during the trial, so as to forestall any harm, injury or prejudice to the litigants.

In the present case, there is hardly any dispute that respondent Judge has violated Article 39 of the
Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 5465, which provides, among others, that if
the principal penalty imposed be prision correcional six (6) years, or one (1) day to six (6) months
(arresto mayor) and a fine, the subsidiary imprisonment shall not exceed one-third (1/3) of the
sentence nor more than one (1) year at the amended rate of one (1) day for each eight (P8.00)
pesos fine. In the criminal case filed against him, complainant "was sentenced to four (4) months
imprisonment and to indemnify the victim Solomon Banagua, Jr. in the sum of P200.00 for alleged
medical expenses. It is clear here that the sum of P200.00 was intended to answer for the indemnity
to the offended party. Therefore non-payment there of can not subject the accused to subsidiary
imprisonment because under the amendment introduced by Republic Act No. 5465, it is only for non-
payment of the fine that the accused may be required to serve subsidiary imprisonment.

But it is erroneous on the part of the complaint to claim that the error committed by the respondent
Judge was in violation of the constitutional provision that "no person shall be imprisoned for debt,"
because the debt contemplated in the constitutional provision refers only to a contractual obligation
or an obligation to pay money arising from a contract and not to an obligation arising from a crime.
The obligation of the complainant to pay the sum of P200.00 to Solomon Banagua, Jr. does not arise
from a contract but from a crime and is therefore beyond the scope of the constitutional provision
mentioned. If at all, the error of the respondent Judge is his failure to observe the amendatory law,
Republic Act No. 5465, in imposing the penalty to complainant. It was through his own negligence
that he imposed forty (40) days of subsidiary imprisonment to complainant in case of non-payment of
the P200.00 indemnity to the offended party. He was negligent when he failed to exercise the care
that the circumstances justly demanded. He failed to use that diligence which is expected of judges
like him to determine whether the provision of law he is enforcing is still applicable, whether it has
been amended or not, or whether there are recent doctrines of the Supreme Court pertinent to the
case. Had respondent Judge been more careful and cautious in this regard, he would have spared
the complainant from the trouble and expense of prosecuting his case in the appellate court to
correct the error.

But what really mitigates respondent Judge's offense is the frank admission of his error and his
honest disclaimer of bad faith in its commission. Thus he said in his comment:

... It was never my intention to oppress anyone, much less the complainant. As a
matter of fact the complainant was charged with frustrated murder but I convicted
him of less serious physical injuries only, in accordance with the evidence presented.
... Had counsel for the herein complainant filed a motion for reconsideration or called
my attention in any manner, I could have rectified my error right then and there. The
Rules of Court provides the remedy of appeal to rectify possible errors committed by
judges in inferior courts. This remedy was availed of by complainant.

That respondent Judge was really acting in good faith when he committed the aforementioned error
is depicted by his full support to the doctrine that the prohibition in the Constitution that "no person
shall be imprisoned for debt" protects only debt arising from contracts or action ex contractu but not
an obligation arising from crimes or action ex delictu, citing the case of People vs. Cara, 41 Phil.
828, which doctrine has so far not been changed by this Court. Respondent Judge is correct in
relying on said doctrine, but he failed to realize that if subsidiary imprisonment cannot be imposed
now in case of insolvency of the accused to pay the indemnity, it is not because its imposition would
constitute imprisonment for non-payment of a debt but because of the new amendment introduced to
Article 39 of the Revised Penal Code by Republic Act No. 5465, imposing subsidiary imprisonment
only in case of non-payment of the fine, In the case of In re Horilleno, 43 Phil. 212, this Court
previously ruled that "For serious misconduct to exist, there must be reliable evidence showing that
the judicial acts complained of were corrupt or inspired by an intention to violate the law, or were in
persistent disregard of well-known legal rules." To hold therefore liable the respondent Judge
administratively for ignorance of the law there must be reliable evidence to show that the judicial acts
complained of was ill-motivated, corrupt or inspired by an intention to violate the law or were in
persistent disregard of well-known legal rules. None of these has been presented in this case. On
the contrary the preponderance of evidence shows that the act of the respondent Judge was an
honest error of judgment; it was not inspired by any ill-motive to oppress the complainant; and that it
was the first violation of the norm of judicial conduct by the respondent Judge during the 36 years
that he is in the service of the government.

This notwithstanding, the Canons of Judicial Ethics would not allow that such conduct pass without
any word of admonition to the erring respondent Judge. When he accepted his position he owed it to
the dignity of the court, to the legal profession and to the public, to know the very law. he is
supposed to apply to a given controversy. Even in the remaining years of his stay in the judiciary he
should keep abreast with the changes in the law and with the latest decisions and precedents.
Although a judge is nearing retirement he should not relax in his study of the law and court
decisions. Service in the judiciary means a continuous study and research on the law from beginning
to end. In this respect respondent Judge has failed.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the respondent Judge is hereby admonished to be more cautious
in the application of the law to cases submitted to him for decision with a warning that a repetition of
the same will be severely dealt with.

SO ORDERED.

Teehankee (Chairman), Makasiar Esguerra and Muñoz Palma, JJ., concur.

Footnotes

1 Art. 39. Subsidiary Penalty.— If the convict has no property with which to meet the
fine mentioned in paragraph 3 of the next preceding article, he shall be subject to a
subsidiary personal liability at the rate of one day for each 8 pesos, subject to the
following rules:

If the principal penalty imposed be prision correccional or arresto and a fine, he shall
remain under confinement until his fine referred in the preceding paragraph is
satisfied, but his subsidiary imprisonment shall not exceed one-third of the term of
the 'sentence, and in no case shall it continue for more than one year, and no
fraction or part of a day shall be counted against the prisoner as amended by R.A.
5465.

2 Sec. 13. No person shall be imprisoned for debtor non-payment of a poll tax. (Art.
IV, New Constitution.

3 See page 1 of the Complaint.

4 Section 13, Art. IV, New Constitution.


5 See page 4 of the Complaint.

6 2nd Indorsement, November 26, 1975 to Executive officer, Administrative Division,


Supreme Court.

7 People vs. Ancheta, L-39993, May 19,1975.

8 Canons of Judicial Ethics.

9 Luciano vs. Mariano, 38 SCRA 184.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-45892 July 13, 1938

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
TRANQUILINO LAGMAN, defendant-appellant.

-----------------------------

G.R. No. L-45893 July 13, 1938

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
PRIMITIVO DE SOSA, defendant-appellant.

Severino P. Izon for appellants.


Office of the Solicitor-General Tuason for appellee.

AVANCEÑA, J.:

In these two cases (G.R. Nos. L-45892 and 45893), the appellants Tranquilino and Primitivo de
Sosa are charged with a violation of section 60 of Commonwealth Act No. 1, known as the National
Defense Law. It is alleged that these two appellants, being Filipinos and having reached the age of
twenty years in 1936, willfully and unlawfully refused to register in the military service between the
1st and 7th of April of said year, notwithstanding the fact that they had been required to do so. The
evidence shows that these two appellants were duly notified by the corresponding authorities to
appear before the Acceptance Board in order to register for military service in accordance with law,
and that the said appellants, in spite of these notices, had not registered up to the date of the filing of
the information.

The appellants do not deny these facts, but they allege in defense that they have not registered in
the military service because Primitivo de Sosa is fatherless and has a mother and a brother eight
years old to support, and Tranquilino Lagman also has a father to support, has no military learnings,
and does not wish to kill or be killed.

Each of these appellants was sentenced by the Court of First Instance to one month and one day of
imprisonment, with the costs.

In this instance, the validity of the National Defense Law, under which the accused were sentenced,
is impugned on the ground that it is unconstitutional. Section 2, Article II of the Constitution of the
Philippines provides as follows:

SEC. 2. The defense of the state is a prime duty of government, and in the fulfillment of this
duty all citizens may be required by law to render personal military or civil service.
The National Defense Law, in so far as it establishes compulsory military service, does not go
against this constitutional provision but is, on the contrary, in faithful compliance therewith. The duty
of the Government to defend the State cannot be performed except through an army. To leave the
organization of an army to the will of the citizens would be to make this duty of the Government
excusable should there be no sufficient men who volunteer to enlist therein. 1 ªvvp hïl.n ët

In the United States the courts have held in a series of decisions that the compulsory military service
adopted by reason of the civil war and the world war does not violate the Constitution, because the
power to establish it is derived from that granted to Congress to declare war and to organize and
maintain an army. This is so because the right of the Government to require compulsory military
service is a consequence of its duty to defend the State and is reciprocal with its duty to defend the
life, liberty, and property of the citizen. In the case of Jacobson vs. Massachusetts (197 U.S., 11; 25
Sup. Ct. Rep., 385), it was said that, without violating the Constitution, a person may be compelled
by force, if need be, against his will, against his pecuniary interests, and even against his religious or
political convictions, to take his place in the ranks of the army of his country, and risk the chance of
being shot down in its defense. In the case of United States vs. Olson (253 Fed., 233), it was also
said that this is not deprivation of property without due process of law, because, in its just sense,
there is no right of property to an office or employment.

The circumstance that these decisions refer to laws enacted by reason on the actual existence of
war does not make our case any different, inasmuch as, in the last analysis, what justifies
compulsory military service is the defense of the State, whether actual or whether in preparation to
make it more effective, in case of need. The circumstance that the appellants have dependent
families to support does not excuse them from their duty to present themselves before the
Acceptance Board because, if such circumstance exists, they can ask for determent in complying
with their duty and, at all events, they can obtain the proper pecuniary allowance to attend to these
family responsibilities (secs. 65 and 69 of Commonwealth Act No. 1).

The appealed judgment rendered in these two cases is affirmed, with the costs to the appellants. So
ordered.

Villa-Real, Imperial, Diaz, Laurel and Concepcion, JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-10255 August 6, 1915

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellant,


vs.
SILVESTRE POMPEYA, defendant-appellee.

Office of the Solicitor-General Corpus for appellant.


Lawrence, Ross and Block for appellee.

JOHNSON, J.:

On the 1st day of June, 1914, the acting prosecuting attorney of the Province of Iloilo presented the
following complaint in the Court of First Instance of said province: "The undersigned fiscal charges
Silvestre Pompeya with violation of the municipal ordinance of Iloilo, on the subject of patrol duty,
Executive Order No. 1, series of 1914, based on section 40 (m) of the Municipal Code, in the
following manner:

"That on or about March 20 of the current year, 1914, in the jurisdiction of the municipality of Iloilo,
Province of Iloilo, Philippine Islands, the said accused did willfully, illegally, and criminally and
without justifiable motive fail to render service on patrol duty; an act performed in violation of the law.

"That for this violation the said accused was sentenced by the justice of the peace of Iloilo to a fine
of P2 and payment of the costs of the trial, from which judgment said accused appealed to the Court
of First Instance.".

Upon said complaint the defendant was duly arraigned .Upon arraignment he presented the
following demurrer: "The defendant, through his undersigned attorneys, demurs to the complaint
filed in this case on the ground that the acts charged therein do not constitute a crime.".

In support of said demurrer, the defendant presented the following argument: "The municipal
ordinance alleged to be violated is unconstitutional because it is repugnant to the Organic Act of the
Philippines, which guarantees the liberty of the citizens.".

Upon issues thus presented, the Honorable J. s .Powell, judge, on he 22nd day of August, 1914,
after hearing the arguments of the respective parties, sustained said demurrer and ordered the
dismissal of said complaint and the cancellation of the bond theretofore given, with costs de oficio.

From the order sustaining the demurrer of the lower court, the prosecuting attorney appealed to this
court.

It appears from the demurrer that the defendant claims that the facts stated in the complaint are not
sufficient to constitute a cause of action. In his argument in support of said demurrer it appears that
the real basis of said demurrer was the fact that the ordinance upon which said complaint was based
was unconstitutional, for the reason that it was contrary to the provisions of the Philippine Bill which
guarantees liberty to the citizens of the Philippine Islands.
In this court the only question argued by the Attorney-General is whether or not the ordinance upon
which said complaint was based (paragraph "m" of section 40 of the Municipal Code) which was
adopted in accordance with the provisions of Act No. 1309 is constitutional. Section 40 of Act No. 82
(the Municipal Code) relates to the power of municipal councils. Act No. 1309 amends said section
(section 40, paragraph "m") which reads as follows: "(m)With the approval of the provincial governor,
when a province or municipality is infested with ladrones or outlaws (the municipal council is
empowered):

"1. To authorize the municipal president to require able-bodied male residents of the municipality,
between the ages of eighteen and fifty years, to assist, for a period not exceeding five days in any
one month, in apprehending ladrones, robbers, and other lawbreakers and suspicious characters,
and to act as patrols for the protection of the municipality, not exceeding one day in each week. The
failure, refusal, or neglect of any such able-bodied man to render promptly the service thus required
shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding one hundred pesos or by imprisonment for not more
than three months, or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court: Provided,
That nothing herein contained shall authorize the municipal president to require such service of
officers or men of the Army of Navy of the United States, civil employees of the United States
Government, officers and employees of the Insular Government, or the officers or servants of
companies or individuals engaged in the business of common carriers on sea or land, or priests,
ministers of the gospel, physicians,practicantes, druggists or practicantes de farmacia, actually
engaged in business, or lawyers when actually engaged in court proceedings.".

Said Act No. 1309 contains some other provisions which are not important in the consideration of the
present case.

The question which we have to consider is whether or not the facts stated in the complaint are
sufficient to show (a) a cause of action under the said law; and (b) whether or not said law is in
violation of the provisions of the Philippine Bill in depriving citizens of their rights therein guaranteed.

We deem it advisable to consider the second question first.

It becomes important to ascertain the real purpose of said Act (No. 1309) in order to know whether it
covers a subject upon which the United States Philippine Commission could legislate. A reading of
said Act discloses (1) that it is an amendment of the general law (Act No. 82) for the organization of
municipal government; (2) that it is amendment of section 40 of said Act No. 82, by adding thereto
paragraph "m;" (3) that said section 40 enumerates some of the powers conferred upon the
municipal council; (4) that said amendment confers upon the council additional powers. The
amendment empowers the municipal council, by ordinance, to authorize the president: (a) To require
able-bodied male residents of the municipality, between the ages of 18 and 55 [50], to assist, for a
period not exceeding five days in any month, in apprehending ladrones, robbers, and other
lawbreakers and suspicious characters, and to act as patrols for the protection of the municipality,
not exceeding one day each week; (b) To require each householder to report certain facts,
enumerated in said amendment.

The specific purpose of said amendment is to require each able-bodied male resident of the
municipality, between the ages of 18 and 55 [50], as well as each householder when so required by
the president, to assist in the maintenance of peace and good order in the community, by
apprehending ladrones, etc., as well as by giving information of the existence of such persons in the
locality. The amendment contains a punishment for those who may be called upon for such service,
and who refuse to render the same.
Is there anything in the law, organic or otherwise, in force in the Philippine Islands, which prohibits
the central Government, or any governmental entity connected therewith, from adopting or enacting
rules and regulations for the maintenance of peace and good government? May not the people be
called upon, when necessary, to assist, in any reasonable way, to rid the state and each community
thereof, of disturbing elements? Do not individuals whose rights are protected by the Government,
owe some duty to such, in protecting it against lawbreakers, and the disturbers of the quiet and
peace? Are the sacred rights of the individual violated when he is called upon to render assistance
for the protection of his protector, the Government, whether it be the local or general government?
Does the protection of the individual, the home, and the family, in civilized communities, under
established government, depend solely and alone upon the individual? Does not the individual owe
something to his neighbor, in return for the protection which the law afford him against
encroachment upon his rights, by those who might be inclined so to do? To answer these questions
in the negative would, we believe, admit that the individual, in organized governments, in civilized
society, where men are governed by law, does not enjoy the protection afforded to the individual by
men in their primitive relations.

If tradition may be relied upon, the primitive man, living in his tribal relations before the days of
constitutions and states, enjoyed the security and assurance of assistance from his fellows when his
quiet and peace were violated by malhechores. Even under the feudal system, a system of land
holdings by the Teutonic nations of Europe in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, the
feudal lord exercised the right to call upon all his vassals of a certain age to assist in the protection
of their individual and collective rights. (Book 2, Cooley's Blackstone's Commentaries, 44; 3 Kent's
Commentaries, 487; Hall, Middle Ages; Maine, Ancient Law; Guizot, history of Civilization; Stubbs'
Constitutional History of England; Chisholm vs. Georgia, 2 Dall .(U. S.), 419; DePeyster vs.Michael,
6 N. Y., 467.) Each vassal was obliged to render individual assistance in return for the protection
afforded by all.

The feudal system was carried in to Britain by William the Conqueror in the year 1085 with all of is
ancient customs and usages.

we find in the days of the "hundreds," which meant a division of the state occupied by one hundred
free men, the individual was liable to render service for the protection of all. (Book 3, Cooley's
Blackstone's Commentaries, 160, 245, 293, 411.) In these "hundreds" the individual "hundredor," in
case of the commission of a crime within the county or by one of the "hundredors," as against
another "hundred," was obliged to join the "hue and cry" (hutesium et clamor) in the pursuit of the
felon. This purely customary ancient obligation was later made obligatory by statute. (Book 4,
Cooley's Blackstone's Commentaries, 294; 3 Edward I., Chapter 9; 4 Edward I., Chapter 2; 13
Edward I., Chapters 1 and 4.).

Later the statute provided and directed: "That from thenceforth every county shall be so well kept,
that, immediately upon robberies and feloniously committed, fresh suit shall be made from town
(pueblo) to town, and from county to county; and that "hue and cry" shall be raised upon the felons,
and they keep the town (pueblo) shall follow with "hue and cry," with all the town (pueblo), and the
towns (pueblos) near; and so "hue and cry" shall be made from town (pueblo) to town, until they be
taken and delivered to the sheriff.".

Said statue further provided that in case the "hundred" failed to join the "hue and cry" that it should
be liable for the damages done by the malhechores. Later, by statue (27th Elizabeth, chapter 13) it
was provided that no "hue and cry" would be sufficient unless it was made with both horsemen and
footmen. The "hue and cry" might be raised by a justice of the peace, or by any peace officer, or by
any private person who knew of the commission of the crime.
This ancient obligation of the individual to assist in the protection of the peace and good order of his
community is still recognized in all well-organized governments in the "posse comitatus" (power of
the county, poder del condado). (Book 1 Cooley's Blackstone's Commentaries, 343; Book 4, 122.)
Under this power, those persons in the state, county, or town who were charged with the
maintenance of peace and good order were bound, ex oficio, to pursue and to take all persons who
had violated the law. For that purpose they might command all the male inhabitants of a certain age
to assist them. This power is called "posse comitatus" (power of the county). This was a right well
recognized at common law. Act No. 1309 is a statutory recognition of such common-law right. Said
Act attempts simply to designate the cases and the method when and by which the people of the
town (pueblo) may be called upon to render assistance for the protection of the public and the
preservation of peace and order. It is an exercise of the police power of the state. Is there anything
in the organic or statutory law prohibiting the United States Philippine Commission from adopting the
provisions contained in said Act No. 1309?

While the statement has its exceptions, we believe, generally speaking, that the United States
Commission, and now the Philippine Legislature, may legislate and adopt laws upon all subjects not
expressly prohibited by the Organic Law (Act of congress of July 1, 1902) or expressly reserved to
Congress. Congress did not attempt to say to the Philippine Legislature what laws it might adopt.
Congress contended itself by expressly indicating what laws the Legislature should not adopt, with
the requirement that all laws adopted should be reported to it, and with the implied reservation of the
right to nullify such laws as might not meet with its approval.

Considering the Organic Act (Act of Congress of July 1, 1902) as the real constitution of the United
States Government in the Philippine Islands, and its inhibitions upon the power of the Legislature,
we believe an analogy may be drawn relating to the difference between the Constitution of the
United States and the constitution of the different States, with reference to what laws may be
adopted by the different States. While the statement needs much explanation, the general rule is
that Congress has authority to legislate only upon the questions expressly stated in the Constitution
of the United States, while the state legislature may legislate upon all questions, not expressly
conferred upon Congress, nor prohibited in its constitution. In other words, an examination of the
Constitution of the United States discloses the subject matter upon which Congress may legislate,
while examination of the constitutions of the different States must be made for the purpose of
ascertaining upon what subjects the state legislature can not legislate. Stating the rule in another
way — the Constitution of the United States permits Congress to legislate upon the following
subjects; the constitutions of the States prohibit the state legislature from legislating upon the
following subjects. Generally, then, the legislature of a State any adopt laws upon any question not
expressly delegated to Congress by the Constitution of the United States or prohibited by the
constitution of the particular State.

We think that is the rule which should be applied to the Philippine Legislature. The Philippine
Legislature has power to legislate upon all subjects affecting the people of the Philippine Islands
which has not been delegated to Congress or expressly prohibited by said Organic Act.
(Gaspar vs. Molina, 5 Phil. Rep., 197; U.S., vs. Bull, 15 Phil. Rep., 7.)

The right or power conferred upon the municipalities by Act No. 1309 falls within the police power of
the state (U.S .vs. Ling Su Fan, 10 Phil. Rep., 104.) Police power of the state has been variously
defined. It has been defined as the power of the government, inherent in every sovereign,
and cannot be limited; (License Cases, 5 How. (U.S.), 483). The power vested in the legislature to
make such laws as they shall judge to be for the good of the state and its subjects.
(Commonwealth vs. Alger, 7 Cush. (Mass.), 53, 85). The power to govern men and things, extending
to the protection of the lives, limbs, health, comfort, and quiet of all persons, and the protection of all
property within the state. (Thorpe vs. Rutland, etc., Co., 27 Vt., 140, 149.) The authority to establish
such rules and regulations for the conduct of all persons as may be conducive to the public interest.
(People vs. Budd., 117 N.Y., 1, 14; U.S., vs. Ling Su Fan, supra.) Blackstone, in his valuable
commentaries on the common laws, defines police power as "the defenses, regulations, and
domestic order of the country, whereby the inhabitants of a state, like members of a well-governed
family, are bound to conform their general behaviour to the rules of propriety, good neighborhood,
and good manners, and to be decent, industrious, and inoffensive in their respective stations." (4
Blackstone's Co., 162.)

The police power of the state may be said to embrace the whole system of internal regulation, by
which the state seeks not only to preserve public order and to prevent offenses against the state, but
also to establish, for the intercourse of citizen with citizen, those rules of good manners and good
neighborhood, which are calculated to prevent a conflict of rights, and to insure to each the
uninterrupted enjoyment of his own, so far as is reasonably consistent, with a like enjoyment of the
rights of others. The police power of the state includes not only the public health and safety, but also
the public welfare, protection against impositions, and generally the public's best best interest. It so
extensive and all pervading, that the courts refuse to lay down a general rule defining it, but decide
each specific case on its merits. (Harding vs. People, 32 L.R.A., 445.)

The police power of the state has been exercised in controlling and regulating private business, even
to the extent of the destruction of the property of private persons, when the use of such property
became a nuisance to the public health and convenience. (Slaughter House Cases, 16 Wal (U.S.),
36 Minnesota vs. Barber, 136 U.S., 313; Powell vs. Pennsylvania, 127 U.S., 678; Walling vs. People,
166 U.S., 446; U.S. vs. Ling Su Fan, 10 Phil. Rep., 104.)

We are of the opinion, and so hold, that the power exercised under the provisions of Act No. 1309
falls within the police power of the state and that the state was fully authorized and justified in
conferring the same upon the municipalities of the Philippine Islands and that, therefore, the
provisions of said Act are constitutional and not in violation nor in derogation of the rights of the
persons affected thereby.

With reference to the first question presented by the appeal, relating to the sufficiency of the
complaint, it will be noted that Act No. 1309 authorized the municipal governments to establish
ordinances requiring (a) all able bodied male residents, between the the ages of 18 and 55 [50], and
(b) all householders, under certain conditions, to do certain things.

It will also be noted that the law authorizing the president of the municipality to call upon persons,
imposes certain conditions as prerequisites: (1) The person called upon to render such services
must be an able-bodied male resident of the municipality; (2) he must be between the ages of 18
and 55 [50], and (3) certain conditions must exist requiring the services of such persons.

It will not contended that a nonresident of the municipality would be liable for his refusal to obey the
call of the president; neither can it be logically contended that one under the age of 18 or over the
age of 55 [50] would incur the penalty of the law by his refusal to obey the command of the
president. Moreover, the persons liable for the service mentioned in the law cannot be called upon at
the mere whim or caprice of the president. There must be some just and reasonable ground, at least
sufficient in the mind of a reasonable man, before the president can call upon the the persons for the
service mentioned in the law. The law does not apply to all persons. The law does not apply to every
condition. The law applies to special persons and special conditions.

A complaint based upon such a law, in order to be free from objection under a demurrer, must show
that the person charged belongs to the class of persons to which the law is applicable. For example,
under the Opium Law, certain persons are punishable criminally for having opium in their
possession. All possessors of opium are not liable under the law. A complaint, therefore, charging a
person with the possession of opium, without alleging that he did not belong to the class which are
permitted to possess it, would be objectionable under a demurrer, because all persons are not liable.
The complaint must show that the one charged wit the possession of the opium was not one of the
persons who might legally possess opium. Suppose, for another example, that there was a law
providing that all persons who performed manual labor on Sunday should be punished, with a
provision that if such labor should be performed out of necessity, the person performing it would not
be liable. In such a case, in the complaint, in order to show a good cause of action , it would be
necessary to allege that the labor was not performed under necessity. In other words, the complaint,
in order to be free from objection raised by a demurrer, must show that the person accused of the
crime, in the absence of proof, is punishable under the law. One who performed labor under
necessity would not be liable. The complaints, in the foregoing examples, in the absence of an
allegation which showed that the party accused did not belong to the exempted class, would not be
good. In the absence of such negations, the courts would be unable to impose the penalty of the
law, because, perchance, the defendant might belong to the exempt class. The complaint, in a
criminal case, must state every fact necessary to make out an offense. (U.S. vs. Cook, 17 Wall.
(U.S.), 168.) The complaint must show, on its face that, if the facts alleged are true, an offense has
been committed. It must state explicitly and directly every fact and circumstance necessary to
constitute an offense. If the statute exempts certain persons, or classes of persons, from liability,
then the complaint should show that the person charged does not belong to that class.

Even admitting all of the facts in the complaint in the present case, the court would be unable to
impose the punishment provided for by law, because it does not show (a) that the defendant was a
male citizen of the municipality; (b) that he was an able-bodied citizen; (c) that he was not under 18
years of age nor over 55 [50]; nor (d) that conditions existed which justified the president of the
municipality in calling upon him for the services mentioned in the law.

For all of the foregoing reasons, the judgment of the lower court is hereby affirmed, with costs. So
ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Torres, Carson, Trent, and Araullo, JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-1573 March 29, 1948

KAISAHAN NG MGA MANGGAGAWA SA KAHOY SA PILIPINAS, petitioner-appellant,


vs.
GOTAMCO SAW MILL, respondent-appellee.

Severino P. Izon for petitioner.


Romeo Perfecto for respondent.

HILADO, J.:

In its petition for a writ of certiorari, the "Kaisahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Kahoy sa Pilipinas"
prays, for the reasons therein set forth, that we reverse and vacate the orders of the Court of
Industrial Relations dated September 23, 1946 (Annex A) and March 28, 1947 (Annex B) and its
resolution of July 11, 1947 (Annex C).

In the order of September 23, 1946, it is recited that the laborers in the main case (case No. 31-V of
the Court of Industrial Relations) declared a strike on September 10, 1946, "which suspended all the
work in the respondent company"; that on September 19, 1946 (presumably after the case had been
brought to the Court of Industrial Relations) said court informed the parties that the continuation of
the strike would necessarily prejudice both parties, and that a temporary solution, satisfactory to both
parties, must be found to put an end to it, at the same time, urging both parties to be reasonable in
their attitude towards each other; that ample opportunity was given to both parties to iron out their
differences until September 21, 1946, when the court continued the conference at which, among
other things, the leader of the laborers informed the court that, although said laborers were not
exactly satisfied with the arrangement, in order to cooperate with the court and with the parties so
that the laborers could return to work and the company resume its operation, they had no objection
to accepting a temporary settlement of P3.50 without meal, as against the proposal of the company
of P2.00 without meal; that after a series of conferences held on September 23, 1946, the date of
the order now under consideration, the labor leader decided to accept a temporary arrangement of
the wage problem as proposed by management, that is, P2.00 over-all increase without meal to all
striking laborers; that Francisco Cruz, President of the Union, manifested that he would have a hard
time convincing the laborers, but in view of their desire to preserve that harmony which used to exist
between the parties, they were going to accede to this proposition, provided that the management
would permit the laborers to bring with them home, if available, small pieces of lumber to be utilized
as firewood; that the negotiations culminated in an agreement by which the laborers would return to
their work on Tuesday, September 24, 1946, at 7:00 o'clock in the morning, and the respondent
company would resume its operation on said date under the following conditions:

(1) That all the laborers and workingmen will receive an over-all increase of P2.00 daily,
without meal, over the wages received by them before the strike;

(2) That the management will permit the laborers to bring with them home, if available, small
pieces of lumber to be utilized as firewood; and
(3) That the foregoing increase and privilege will take effect upon the return of the
workingmen to work until the final determination of the present controversy.

The same order then proceeds as follows:

Finding the above temporary agreement between the parties to be reasonable and
advantageous to both, the court approves the same and orders the striking laborers of the
respondent company to return to their work on Tuesday, September 24, 1946 at 7:00 o'clock
in the morning, and the respondent company to resume its operation and admit the striking
laborers. The respondent company is enjoined not to lay-off, suspend or dismiss any laborer
affiliated with the petitioning union, nor suspend the operation of the temporary agreement,
and the labor union is enjoined not to stage a walk-out or strike during the pendency of the
hearing.

From the order of March 27, 1947, it appears that on January 7, 1947, the respondent Gotamco Saw
Mill filed with the Court of Industrial relations an urgent motion asking that the petitioning union be
held for contempt of court for having staged a strike during the pendency of the main case "in
violation of the order of this court dated September 23, 1946"; that on January 9, 1947, petitioner
filed an answer with a counter-petition alleging, among other things, that a representative of
petitioner conferred with respondent regarding certain discriminations obtaining in the respondent's
saw mill, but instead of entertaining their grievances said respondent in a haughty and arbitrary
manner ordered the stoppage of the work and consequently the workers did then and there stop
working; and in the counter-petition said petitioner asked the respondent be held for contempt for
having employed four new Chinese laborers during the pendency of the hearing of the main case,
without express authority of the court and in violation of section 19 of Commonwealth Act No. 103,
as amended. It is also recited in the said order of March 28, 1947, that on that same date, January 9,
1947, respondent filed with the court another urgent motion for contempt against the petitioning
union for picketing on the premises of the respondent's saw mill and for grave threats which
prevented the remaining laborers from working.

Upon request of both parties, the court required the presentation of evidence pertinent to the
incidents thus raised. Thereafter, the said order of March 28, 1947, was entered, and the court
stated therein the three questions to be determined as follows: first, if there was a violation by the
petitioning union of the order of said court of September 23, 1946, which would warrant the
commencement of contempt proceedings; second, whether the facts and circumstances attending
the picketing constitute contempt of court; third, whether there was a violation by the respondent of
section 19 of the Commonwealth Act No. 103, as amended, in taking four Chinese laborers pending
the hearing and without express authority of the court; and fourth, whether the dismissal of Maximino
Millan was with or without just cause.

The court, passing upon these questions, found and held:

(1) That there was a violation of the order of the court dated September 23, 1946, by the
petitioning union and thereby ordered Atty. Pastor T. Reyes, special agent of the court, to
take such action as may be warranted in the premises against the person or persons
responsible therefor for contempt:

(2) That the question of picketing being closely and intimately related to the strike which had
been found illegal, did not need to be passed upon, it being imbibed by question No. 1;
(3) That there being no strong and clear proof on the question of respondent having violated
section 19 of Commonwealth Act No. 103, as amended, respondent was thereby exonerated
from any liability in connection with the alleged employment of four Chinamen;

(4) That Maximino Millan being of troublesome nature and unworthy to work among his
fellow laborers, his petition for reinstatement contained in demand No. 5 of the main case
was thereby denied.

The above cited resolution of July 11, 1947, was entered by the Court of Industrial Relations,
sitting in banc, and denied reconsideration of its order of March 28, 1947, as requested by the
petitioning union's contention is recited that the provisions of section 19 of Commonwealth Act No.
103, as amended, upon which order of September 23, 1946, was based, had not been complied
with; in other words, that the said order was not issued in conformity with the requisites of said
section, because, it was said, before its issuance there had been no proper hearing and there was
and there was no express finding by the court that public interest required the return of the striking
workers. The further contention is therein recited that, granting that the order of September 23, 1946,
was issued in conformity with said section 19, said provision is unconstitutional for being in violation
of the organic proscription of involuntary servitude. Passing upon these contentions, the Court of
Industrial Relations said:

The order of September 23, 1946, was issued in conformity with the provisions of section 19.
Said order was proposed and issued on the basis of the agreement entered into by the
parties after the preliminary hearings and conferences. While it is true that the order of the
Court now in question did not make any express finding as to whether public interest
required the return of the striking workers, it is undeniable, however, that until the numerous
incidents arising therefrom since the certification of the dispute promptly, need not be stated
in the said order because it is a fact which is borne out by the entire record of the case. If the
petitioner was aggrieved by the terms of the order, it could have objected right then and
there and could have appealed said order within the period prescribed by law, and nor to
wait after it had become final, definite, and conclusive. The record shows that the petitioner
in its answer answer and counter-petition for contempt based its complaint upon section 19
(incidental Case No. 31-V [4]). It is, indeed, strange that after taking advantage of this order
and enjoyed (enjoying) the benefits thereunder, the petitioner now comes to impugn and
challenge the validity. The second motion for reconsideration is the sad instance where the
petitioner attacks the validity of an order under which it once took shelter.

The court believes that section 19 is constitutional. To start with, this section is presumed to
be constitutional. Several laws promulgated which apparently infringe the human rights of
individuals were "subjected to regulation by the State basically in the exercise of its
paramount police power". The provisions of Act No. 103 were inspired by the constitutional
injunction making it the concern of the State to promote social justice to insure the well being
and economic security of all the people. In order to attain this object, section 19 was
promulgated which grants to labor what it grants to capital and denies to labor what it denies
to capital. Section 19 complements the power of the Court to settle industrial disputes and
renders effective such powers which are conferred upon it by the different provisions of the
Court's organic law, more particularly, sections 1 and 4, and "other plenary powers conferred
upon the Court to enable it to settle all questions matters, controversies or disputes arising
between, and/or affecting employers and employees", "to prevent non-pacific methods in the
determination of industrial or agricultural disputes" (International HardWood and Venser
Co. vs The Pangil Federation of Laborers, G.R. No. 47178, cited in the case of Mindanao
Bus Co. vs. Mindanao Bus Co. Employees' Association, 40 Off. Gaz., 115). Section 4 has
been upheld in the case aforecited. It appearing that the power of this Court to execute its
orders under section 19 is also the same power it possesses under section 4 of the same
act, it inferentially follows that section 19 is likewise valid. (Manila Trading and Supply Co. vs.
Philippine Labor Union, G.R. No. 47796.)

In Manila Trading and Supply Company vs. Philippine Labor Union, supra, this Court said:

In the first place, the ultimate effect of petitioner's theory is to concede to the Court of
Industrial Relations the power to decide a case under section 19 but deny it, the power to
execute its decision thereon. The absurdity of this proposition, is too evident to require
argument. In the second place considering that the jurisdiction of the Court of Industrial
Relations under section 19 is merely incidental to the same jurisdiction it has previously
acquired under section 4 of the law, if follows that the power to execute its orders under
section 19 is also the same power that it possesses under section 4. (40 Off. Gaz., [14th
Supp.], No. 23, p. 178.)

Among the powers thus conferred is that to punish a violation of an order such as those now under
consideration as for contempt of court.

We agree with the Court of Industrial Relations that section 19 of Commonwealth Act No. 103 is
constitutional. It does not offend against the constitutional inhibition prescribing involuntary servitude.
An employee entering into a contract of employment said law went into effect, voluntarily accepts,
among other conditions, those prescribed in said section 19, among which is the "implied condition
that when any dispute between the employer or landlord and the employee, tenant or laborer has
been submitted to the Court of Industrial Relations for settlement or arbitration, pursuant to the
provisions of this Act, and pending award or decision by it, the employee, tenant or laborer shall not
strike or walk out of his employment when so joined by the court after hearing and when public
interest so requires, and if he has already done so, that he shall forthwith return to it, upon order of
the court, which shall be issued only after hearing when public interest so requires or when the
dispute can not, in its opinion, be promptly decided or settled ...". (Emphasis supplied.)
The voluntariness of the employee's entering into such a contract of employment — he has a free
choice between entering into it or not — with such an implied condition, negatives the possibility of
involuntary servitude ensuing. The resolution of July 11, 1947, states that the order of September
23, 1946, was issued after a series of preliminary hearings or conferences, and we are satisfied that
these were "hearings" within the meaning of the above mentioned section 19 of the law. The record
certainly reveals that what was done during and what resulted from said preliminary hearings or
conferences were reported to the court at a formal hearing. As to public interest requiring that the
court enjoin the strike or walk out, or the return of striking laborers, aside from the legal presumption
that the Court of Industrial Relations complied with the provisions of the law in this respect, we think
that, considering the universally known fact, of which this Court takes judicial notice, that as a result
of the destructions wrought by the late war, the economic and social rehabilitation of the country
urgently demands the reconstruction work will inevitably tend to paralyze, impede or slow down the
country's program of rehabilitation which, for obvious and natural reasons, the government is striving
to accelerate as much as is humanly possible.

Besides, the order of the court was for the striking workers to return to their work. And that order was
made after hearing, and, moreover, section 19 of Commonwealth Act No. 103, in providing for an
order of the court fro the return of striking workers, authorizes such order, among other cases, "when
the dispute can not, in its opinion, be promptly decided or settled". The provision says: "... and if he
has already done so (struck or walked out),that he shall forthwith return to it, upon order of the court,
which shall be issued only after hearing when public interest so requires or when the dispute cannot,
in its opinion, be promptly decided or settled, (emphasis supplied). In other words the order to return,
if the dispute can be promptly decided or settled, may be issued "only after hearing when public
interest so requires", but if in the court's opinion the dispute can not be promptly decided or settled,
then it is also authorized after hearing to issue the order: we construe the provision to mean that the
very impossibility of prompt decision or settlement of the dispute confers upon the court the power to
issue the order for the reason that the public has an interest in preventing undue stoppage or
paralyzation of the wheels of industry. And, as well stated by the court's resolution of July 11, 1947,
this impossibility of prompt decision or settlement was a fact which was borne out by the entire
record of the case and did not need express statement in the order.

Finally, this Court is not authorized to review the findings of fact made by the Court of Industrial
Relations (Commonwealth Act No. 103, section 15, as amended by Commonwealth Act 559, section
2; Rule 44, Rules of Court; National Labor Union vs. Phil. Match Co., 40 Off. Gaz. 8th Supp. p. 134,
Bardwell Brothers vs. Phil. Labor Union, 39 Off. Gaz. 1032; Pasumil Workers' Union vs. Court of
Industrial Relations, 40 Off. Gaz. 6th Supp., p. 71).

However, Mr. Justice Briones thinks that we should expressly reserve our opinion on the
constitutionality of the above statutory and reglementary provisions should it, in the future, become
necessary to decide it.

For all theses considerations, the orders and resolution of the Court of Industrial Relations assailed
by the instant petition are hereby affirmed, with costs against petitioner-appellant. So ordered.

Moran, C.J., Paras, Feria, Pablo, Bengzon, Briones, Padilla and Tuason, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

PERFECTO, J., concurring and dissenting:

We concur in the result of the decision in this case, but we cannot agree with the pronouncement
depriving the Supreme Court the power to revise findings of facts made by the Court of Industrial
Relations.

We are of opinion that such curtailment of the powers of the Supreme Court is violative of the spirit
and purposes of Commonwealth Act No. 103. The power of revision granted by the Supreme Court
should not be limited so as to deny relief to any party that may foundedly feel aggrieved by any
substantial finding of fact made by the Court of Industrial Relations center on disputed facts, such as
reasonable salaries, reasonable working conditions, periods of rest, reasons for strikes or lockouts,
injustice of the relations between employer and employees, etc. The aggrieved party must not be
denied his day in court in the highest tribunal.

Validity of section 19 of Commonwealth Act No. 103 is impugned on constitutional grounds, upon the
allegation that it is tantamount to authorizing involuntary servitude. We cannot agree with the
proposition. Under said section, the question of involuntary work is not involved, but only the
workability of the settlement of a labor dispute contemplated by Commonwealth Act No. 103. When
workers on strike appear before the Court of Industrial Relations to seek remedy under
Commonwealth Act No. 103, they do so, on the assumption that the work in their employment were
and are agreeable to their conscience and dignity and, as a matter of fact, they claim the right to
continue performing the same work. Otherwise they would not have resorted to strike, a means
resorted to, to compel the employer and let them continue working, but on conditions more
agreeable to the workers. If the strikers should feel that their work is in the nature of involuntary
servitude, they would not resort to a strike nor recur to the Court of Industrial Relations, but will
simply resign and seek some other employment.

When the strikers are seeking remedy under the law from the Court of Industrial Relations, the court
may impose such reasonable conditions, one of them being that provided by section 19 of
Commonwealth Act No. 103, but because it is a reasonable implementation of the powers of the
court to effectively settle a labor controversy.

If the laborers should feel that they are compelled against their will to perform something which is
repugnant to their conscience or dignity, they need not resort to any court action to seek judicial
settlement of the controversy, as they can resign from their work and there is no power that can
compel them to continue therein.
CAUNCA VS. SALAZAR [82 PHIL 851; NO.L-2690; 1 JAN
1949]
Facts : Caunca Vs Salazar

Facts: This is an action for habeas corpus brought by Bartolome Caunca in behalf of his cousin Estelita
Flores who was employed by the Far Eastern Employment Bureau, owned by Julia Salazar, respondent
herein. An advanced payment has already been given to Estelita by the employment agency, for her to
work as a maid. However, Estelita wanted to transfer to another residence, which was disallowed by the
employment agency. Further she was detained and her liberty was restrained. The employment agency
wanted that the advance payment, which was applied to her transportation expense from the province
should be paid by Estelita before she could be allowed to leave.

Issue: Whether or Not an employment agency has the right to restrain and detain a maid without
returning the advance payment it gave?

Held: An employment agency, regardless of the amount it may advance to a prospective employee or
maid, has absolutely no power to curtail her freedom of movement. The fact that no physical force has
been exerted to keep her in the house of the respondent does not make less real the deprivation of her
personal freedom of movement, freedom to transfer from one place to another, freedom to choose one’s
residence. Freedom may be lost due to external moral compulsion, to founded or groundless fear, to
erroneous belief in the existence of an imaginary power of an impostor to cause harm if not blindly
obeyed, to any other psychological element that may curtail the mental faculty of choice or the
unhampered exercise of the will. If the actual effect of such psychological spell is to place a person at the
mercy of another, the victim is entitled to the protection of courts of justice as much as the individual who
is illegally deprived of liberty by duress or physical coercion.
U.S. Supreme Court

Pollock v. Williams, 322 U.S. 4 (1944)


Pollock v. Williams

No. 345

Argued February 10, 1944

Decided April 10, 1944

322 U.S. 4

APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA

Syllabus

1. A statute of Florida which makes guilty of a misdemeanor any person who, with intent to defraud,
obtains an advance upon an agreement to render services, and which provides further that failure to
perform the services for which an advance was obtained shall be prima facie evidence of intent to
defraud, held violative of the Thirteenth Amendment and the federal Anti-peonage Act. Pp. 322 U. S.
5, 322 U. S. 17.

2. In view of the history and operation of the Florida statute, it cannot be said that a plea of guilty is
uninfluenced by the statute's threat to convict by its prima facie evidence section; hence, the entire
statute is invalid, and a conviction under it, though based upon a plea of guilty, cannot be sustained.
P. 322 U. S. 15.

3. That, upon a trial of the defendant, his testimony in respect of his intent would have been
competent is immaterial. P.322 U. S. 25.

153 Fla. 338, 14 So.2d 700, reversed. ch anrob lesvirt u ala wlib rary

Page 322 U. S. 5

Appeal from the reversal of a judgment which, upon a writ of habeas corpus, discharged the prisoner,
appellant here.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON delivered the opinion of the Court.

Appellant Pollock questions the validity of a statute of the State of Florida making it a misdemeanor to
induce advances with intent to defraud by a promise to perform labor and further making failure to
perform labor for which money has been obtained prima facie evidence of intent to defraud. [Footnote
1] It conflicts, he says, with the Thirteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, and with the anti-
peonage statute enacted by Congress thereunder. Claims also are made under the due process and
equal ch an rob lesvirt u alawl ib rary

Page 322 U. S. 6

protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment which we find it unnecessary to consider.


Pollock was arrested January 5, 1943, on a warrant issued three days before which charged that, on
the 17th of October, 1942, he did,

"with intent to injure and defraud under and by reason of a contract and promise to perform labor and
service, procure and obtain money, to-wit: the sum of $5.00, as advances from one J. V. O'Albora, a
corporation, contrary to the statute in such cases made and provided, and against the peace and
dignity of the State of Florida."

He was taken before the county judge on the same day, entered a plea of guilty, and was sentenced
to pay a fine of $100 and, in default, to serve sixty days in the county jail. He was immediately
committed.

On January 11, 1943, a writ of habeas corpus was issued by the judge of the circuit court, directed to
the jail keeper, who is appellee here. Petition for the writ challenged the constitutionality of the
statutes under which Pollock was confined, and set forth that,

"at the trial aforesaid, he was not told that he was entitled to counsel, and that counsel would be
provided for him if he wished, and he did not know that he had such right. Petitioner was without
funds and unable to employ counsel. He further avers that he did not understand the nature of the
charge against him, but understood that, if he owed any money to his prior employer and had quit his
employment without paying the same, he was guilty, which facts he admitted."

The Sheriff's return makes no denial of these allegations, but merely sets forth that he holds the
prisoner by virtue of the commitment "based upon the judgment and conviction as set forth in the
petition." The Supreme Court of Florida has said that "undenied allegations of the petition are taken as
true." [Footnote 2] ch an rob lesvirt u alaw lib rary

Page 322 U. S. 7

The Circuit Court held the statutes under which the case was prosecuted to be unconstitutional, and
discharged the prisoner. The Supreme Court of Florida reversed. [Footnote 3] It read our decisions
in Bailey v. Alabama [Footnote 4] andTaylor v. Georgia [Footnote 5] to hold that similar laws are not
in conflict with the Constitution insofar as they denounce the crime, but only in declaring the prima
facie evidence rule. It stated that its first impression was that the entire Florida act would fall, as did
that of Georgia, but, on reflection, it concluded that our decisions were called forth by operation of the
presumption, and did not condemn the substantive part of the statute where the presumption was not
brought into play. As the prisoner had pleaded guilty, the Florida court thought the presumption had
played no part in this case, and therefore remanded the prisoner to custody. An appeal to this Court
was taken, and probable jurisdiction noted. [Footnote 6]

Florida advances no argument that the presumption section of this statute is constitutional, nor could
it plausibly do so in view of our decisions. It contends, however, (1) that we can give no consideration
to the presumption section, because it was not in fact brought into play in the case, by reason of the
plea of guilty; (2) that, so severed, the section denouncing the crime is constitutional.

I
These issues emerge from an historical background against which the Florida legislation in question
must be appraised.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, made in 1865, declares that involuntary
servitude ch anrob lesvirt u ala wlib rary

Page 322 U. S. 8
shall not exist within the United States, and gives Congress power to enforce the article by
appropriate legislation. [Footnote 7] Congress, on March 2, 1867, enacted that all laws or usages of
any state

"by virtue of which any attempt shall hereafter be made to establish, maintain, or enforce, directly or
indirectly, the voluntary or involuntary service or labor of any persons as peons, in liquidation of any
debt or obligation, or otherwise"

are null and void, and denounced it as a crime to hold, arrest, or return a person to the condition of
peonage. [Footnote 8] Congress thus raised both a shield and a sword against forced labor because of
debt.

Clyatt v. United States was a case from Florida in which the Federal Act was used as a sword and an
employer ch an rob lesvirt u alawlib rary

Page 322 U. S. 9

convicted under it. This Court sustained it as constitutional, and said of peonage:

"It may be defined as a status or condition of compulsory service based upon the indebtedness of the
peon to the master. The basal fact is indebtedness. . . . Peonage is sometimes classified as voluntary
or involuntary, but this implies simply a difference in the mode of origin, but none in the character of
the servitude. The one exists where the debtor voluntarily contracts to enter the service of his
creditor. The other is forced upon the debtor by some provision of law. . . . A clear distinction exists
between peonage and the voluntary performance of labor or rendering of services in payment of a
debt. In the latter case, the debtor, though contracting to pay his indebtedness by labor or service,
and subject, like any other contractor, to an action for damages for breach of that contract, can elect
at any time to break it, and no law or force compels performance or a continuance of the service.
[Footnote 9]"

Then came the twice-considered case of Bailey v. Alabama, [Footnote 10] in which the Act and the
Constitution were raised as a shield against conviction of a laborer under an Alabama act substantially
the same as the one before us now. Bailey, a Negro, had obtained $15 from a corporation on a written
agreement to work for a year at $12 per month, $10.75 to be paid him and $1.25 per month to apply
on his debt. In about a month, he quit. He was convicted, fined $30, or, in default, sentenced to hard
labor for 20 days in lieu of the fine and 116 days on account of costs. The Court considered that the
portion of the state law defining the crime would require proof of intent to defraud, and so did not
strike down that part; nor was it expressly sustained, nor was it necessarily reached, for the prima
facie evidence provision had been used to obtain a conviction. ch an rob lesvirt u alawlib rary

Page 322 U. S. 10

This Court held the presumption, in such a context, to be unconstitutional.

Later came United States v. Reynolds and United States v. Broughton, [Footnote 11] in which the Act
of 1867 was sword again. Reynolds and Broughton were indicted under it. The Alabama Code
authorized one under some circumstances to become surety for a convict, pay his fine, and be
reimbursed by labor. Reynolds and Broughton each got himself a convict to work out fines and costs
as a farmhand at $6.00 per month. After a time, each convict refused to labor further, and, under the
statute, each was convicted for the refusal. This Court said, "[t]hus, under pain of recurring
prosecutions, the convict may be kept at labor to satisfy the demands of his employer." It held the
Alabama statute unconstitutional, and employers under it subject to prosecution.

In Taylor v. Georgia, [Footnote 12] the Federal Act was again applied as a shield, against conviction
by resort to the presumption, of a Negro laborer, under a Georgia statute in effect like the one before
us now. We made no effort to separate valid from invalid elements in the statute, although the
substantive and procedural provisions were, as here, in separate, and separately numbered, sections.
We said,

"We think that the sections of the Georgia Code upon which this conviction rests are repugnant to the
Thirteenth Amendment and to the Act of 1867, and that the conviction must therefore be reversed."

Only recently, in a case from Northern Florida, a creditor employer was indicted under the Federal Act
for arresting a debtor to peonage, and we sustained the indictment. United States v.
Gaskin. [Footnote 13]

These cases, decided by this Court under the Act of 1867, came either from Florida or one of the
adjoining states.ch an rob lesvirt u alawl ib rary

Page 322 U. S. 11

And these were but a part of the stir caused by the Federal Anti-peonage Act and its enforcement in
this same region. [Footnote 14] This is not to intimate that this section, more than others, was
sympathetic with peonage, for this evil has never had general approval anywhere, and its sporadic
appearances have been neither sectional nor racial. It is mentioned, however, to indicate that the
Legislature of Florida acted with almost certain knowledge in designing its successive "labor fraud"
acts in relation to our series of peonage decisions. The present Act is the latest of a lineage, in which
its antecedents were obviously associated with the practice of peonage. This history throws some light
on whether the present state act is one "by virtue of which any attempt shall hereafter be made" to
"enforce involuntary servitude," in which event the Federal Act declares it void.

In 1891, the Legislature created an offense of two elements: obtaining money or property upon a false
promise to perform service, and abandonment of service without just cause and without restitution of
what had been obtained. [Footnote 15] In 1905, this Court decided Clyatt v. United States, indicating
that any person, including public officers, ch an rob lesvirt u alawlib rary

Page 322 U. S. 12

even if acting under state law, might be guilty of violating the Federal Act. In 1907, the Florida
Legislature enacted a new statute, nearly identical in terms with that of Alabama. [Footnote 16] In
1911, in Bailey v. Alabama, this Court held such an act unconstitutional. In 1913, the Florida
Legislature repealed the 1907 act, but reenacted in substance the section denouncing the crime,
omitting the presumption of intent from the failure to perform the service or make restitution.
[Footnote 17] In 1919, the Florida Supreme Court ch an rob lesvirt u alawlib rary

Page 322 U. S. 13

held this act, standing alone, void under the authority of Bailey v. Alabama. [Footnote 18]
Whereupon, at the session of 1919, the present statute was enacted, including the prima
facie evidence provisions, notwithstanding these decisions by the Supreme Court of Florida and by this
Court. The Supreme Court of Florida later upheld a conviction under this statute on a plea of guilty,
but declined to pass on the presumption section because, as in the present case, the plea of guilty was
thought to make its consideration unnecessary. [Footnote 19] The statute was reenacted without
substantial change in 1941. Again, in 1943, it was reenacted despite the fact that, the year before, we
held a very similar Georgia statute unconstitutional in its entirety. [Footnote 20]

II
The State contends that we must exclude the prima facie evidence provision from consideration
because, in fact, it played no part in producing this conviction. Such was the holding of the State
Supreme Court. We are not concluded by that holding, however, but, under the circumstances, are
authorized to make an independent determination. [Footnote 21] ch an rob lesvirt u alawlib rary

Page 322 U. S. 14

What the prisoner actually did that constituted the crime cannot be gleaned from the record. The
charge is cast in the words of the statute, and is largely a conclusion. It affords no information except
that Pollock obtained $5 from a corporation in connection with a promise to work which he failed to
perform, and that his doing so was fraudulent. If the conclusion that the prisoner acted with intent to
defraud rests on facts, and not on the prima facie evidence provisions of the statute, none is stated in
the warrant or appears in the record. None was so set forth that he could deny it. He obtained the
money on the 14th of October, 1942, and the warrant was not sought until January 2, 1943. Whether
the original advancement was more or less than $5, what he represented or promised in obtaining it,
whether he worked a time and quit, or whether he never began work at all, are undisclosed. About all
that appears is that he obtained an advancement of $5 from a corporation and failed to keep his
agreement to work it out. He admitted those facts, and the law purported to supply the element of
intent. He admitted the conclusion of guilt which the statute ch an rob lesvirt u alaw lib rary

Page 322 U. S. 15

made prima facie thereon. He was fined $20 for each dollar of his debt, and, in default of payment,
was required to atone for it by serving time at the rate of less than 9¢ per day.

Especially in view of the undenied assertions in Pollock's petition, we cannot doubt that the
presumption provision had a coercive effect in producing the plea of guilty. The statute laid its
undivided weight upon him. The legislature had not even included a separability clause. [Footnote 22]
Of course, the function of the prima facie evidence section is to make it possible to convict where
proof of guilt is lacking. No one questions that we clearly have held that such a presumption is
prohibited by the Constitution and the federal statute. The Florida Legislature has enacted, and twice
reenacted, it since we so held. We cannot assume it was doing an idle thing. Since the presumption
was known to be unconstitutional, and of no use in a contested case, the only explanation we can find
for its persistent appearance in the statute is its extra-legal coercive effect in suppressing defenses. It
confronted this defendant. There was every probability that a law so recently and repeatedly enacted
by the legislature would be followed by the trial court, whose judge was not required to be a lawyer.
The possibility of obtaining relief by appeal was not bright, as the event proved, for Pollock had to
come all the way to this Court, and was required, and quite regularly, to post a supersedeas bond of
$500, a hundred times the amount of his debt. He was an illiterate Negro laborer in the toils of the law
for the want of $5. Such considerations bear importantly on the decision of a prisoner, even if aided
by counsel, as Pollock was not, whether to plead guilty and hope for leniency or to fight. It is plain
that, had his plight after convictionch an rob lesvirt u alawlib rary

Page 322 U. S. 16

not aroused outside help, Pollock himself would have been unheard in any appellate court.

In the light of its history, there is no reason to believe that the law was generally used or especially
useful merely to punish deceit. Florida has a general and comprehensive statute making it a crime to
obtain money or property by false pretenses [Footnote 23] or commit "gross fraud or cheat at
common law." [Footnote 24] These appear to authorize prosecution for even the petty amount
involved here. [Footnote 25] We can conceive reasons, even if unconstitutional ones, which might lead
well intentioned persons to apply this Act as a means to make otherwise shiftless men work, [Footnote
26] but if, in addition to this general fraud protection, employers as a class are so susceptible to
imposition that they need extra legislation, or workmen so crafty and subtle as to constitute a special
menace, we do not know it, nor are we advised of such facts.
We think that a state which maintains such a law in face of the court decisions we have recited may
not be heard to say that a plea of guilty under the circumstances is not due to pressure of its statutory
threat to convict him on the presumption.

As we have seen, Florida, persisted in putting upon its statute books a provision creating a
presumption of fraud ch an rob lesvirt u alaw lib rary

Page 322 U. S. 17

from the mere nonperformance of a contract for labor service three times after the courts ruled that
such a provision violates the prohibition against peonage. To attach no meaning to such action, to say
that, legally speaking, there was no such legislation, is to be blind to fact. Since the Florida Legislature
deemed these repeated enactments to be important, we take the Legislature at its own word. Such a
provision is on the statute books for those who are arrested for the crime, and it is on the statute
books for us in considering the practical meaning of what Florida has done.

In the view we take of the purpose and effect of this prima facie evidence provision, it is not material
whether, as matter of state law, it is regarded as an independent and severable provision.

III
We are induced by the evident misunderstanding of our decisions by the Florida Supreme Court, in
what we are convinced was a conscientious and painstaking study of them, to make more explicit the
basis of constitutional invalidity of this type of statute.

The undoubted aim of the Thirteenth Amendment, as implemented by the Anti-peonage Act, was not
merely to end slavery, but to maintain a system of completely free and voluntary labor throughout the
United States. Forced labor, in some special circumstances, may be consistent with the general basic
system of free labor. For example, forced labor has been sustained as a means of punishing crime,
[Footnote 27] and there are duties such as work on ch an rob lesvirt u ala wlib rary

Page 322 U. S. 18

highways [Footnote 28] which society may compel. But, in general, the defense against oppressive
hours, pay, working conditions, or treatment is the right to change employers. When the master can
compel, and the laborer cannot escape, the obligation to go on, there is no power below to redress,
and no incentive above to relieve, a harsh overlordship or unwholesome conditions of work. Resulting
depression of working conditions and living standards affects not only the laborer under the system,
but every other with whom his labor comes in competition. Whatever of social value there may be,
and, of course, it is great, in enforcing contracts and collection of debts, Congress has put it beyond
debate that no indebtedness warrants a suspension of the right to be free from compulsory service.
This congressional policy means that no state can make the quitting of work any component of a
crime, or make criminal sanctions available for holding unwilling persons to labor. The federal
statutory test is a practical inquiry into the utilization of an act, as well as its mere form and terms.

Where peonage has existed in the United States, it has done so chiefly by virtue of laws like the
statute in question. Whether the statute did or did not include the presumption seems to have made
little difference in its practical effect. In 1910, in response to a resolution of the House of
Representatives, the Immigration Commission reported the results of an investigation of peonage
among immigrants in the United States. [Footnote 29] It found that no general system of peonage
existed, and that sentiment did not support it anywhere. On the other hand, it found sporadic cases of
probable peonage in every state in the Union except Oklahoma and Connecticut. It pointed out that
"there has probably existed in Maine the most complete ch an rob lesvirt u alawlib rar y

Page 322 U. S. 19
system of peonage in the entire country" in the lumber camps. [Footnote 30] In 1907, Maine enacted
a statute, applicable only to lumber operations but in its terms very like the section of the Florida
statute we are asked to separate ch an rob lesvirt u alawlib rar y

Page 322 U. S. 20

and save. The law was enforceable in local courts not of record. The Commission pointed out that the
Maine statute, unlike that of Minnesota [Footnote 31] and the statutes of other states in the West and
South, did not contain a prima facieevidence provision. But, as a practical matter, the statute led to
the same result. [Footnote 32] ch an rob lesvirt u alawlib rary

Page 322 U. S. 21

The fraud which such statutes purport to penalize is not the concealment or misrepresentation of
existing facts, such as financial condition, ownership of assets, or data relevant to credit. They either
penalize promissory representations which relate to future action and conduct, or they penalize a
misrepresentation of the present intent or state of mind of the laborer. [Footnote 33] In these, "a hair
perhaps divides the false and true." Of course, there might be provable fraud even in such matters.
One might engage for the same period to several employers, collecting an advance from each, or he
might work the same trick of hiring out and collecting in advance again and again, or otherwise
provide proof that fraud was his ch an rob lesvirt u alawlib rary

Page 322 U. S. 22

design and purpose. But in not one of the cases to come before this Court under the anti-peonage
statute has there been evidence of such subtlety or design. In each, there was the same story -- a
necessitous and illiterate laborer, an agreement to work for a small wage, a trifling advance, a breach
of contract to work. In not one has there been proof from which we fairly could say whether the Negro
never intended to work out the advance, or quit because of some real or fancied grievance, or just got
tired. If such statutes have ever, on even one occasion, been put to a worthier use in the records of
any state court, it has not been called to our attention. If this is the visible record, it is hardly to be
assumed that the off-the-record uses are more benign.

It is a mistake to believe that, in dealing with statutes of this type, we have held the presumption
section to be the only source of invalidity. On the contrary, the substantive section has contributed
largely to the conclusion of unconstitutionality of the presumption section. The latter, in a different
context, might not be invalid. Indeed, we have sustained the power of the state to enact an almost
identical presumption of fraud, but in transactions that did not involve involuntary labor to discharge a
debt. James-Dickinson Farm Mortgage Co. v. Harry. [Footnote 34] Absent this feature, any objection
to prima facie evidence or presumption statutes of the state can arise only under the Fourteenth
Amendment, rather than under the Thirteenth. In deciding peonage cases under the latter, this Court
has been as careful to point out the broad power of the state to create presumptions as it has to point
out its power to punish frauds. It

"has frequently recognized the general power of every legislature to prescribe the evidence which shall
be received, and the effect of that evidence, in the courts of its own government. . . . In the exercise
of this

Page 322 U. S. 23

power, numerous statutes have been enacted providing that proof of one fact shall be prima
facie evidence of the main fact in issue, and, where the inference is not purely arbitrary, and there is a
rational relation between the two facts, and the accused is not deprived of a proper opportunity to
submit all the facts bearing upon the issue, it has been held that such statutes do not violate the
requirements of due process of law."
Bailey v. Alabama. [Footnote 35] But the Court added that

"the state may not in this way interfere with matters withdrawn from its authority by the Federal
Constitution, or subject an accused to conviction for conduct which it is powerless to proscribe.
[Footnote 36]"

And it proceeded to hold that the presumption, when coupled with the other section, transgressed
those limits, for, while it appeared to punish fraud, the inevitable effect of the law was to punish
failure to perform labor contracts.

In Taylor v. Georgia, both sections of the Act were held unconstitutional. There, the State relied on the
presumption to convict. But it was not denied that a state has power reasonably to prescribe
the prima facie inferences to be drawn from circumstantial evidence. It was the substance of the crime
to establish which the presumption was invoked that gave a forbidden aspect to that method of short-
cutting the road to conviction. The decision striking down both sections was not, as the Supreme
Court of Florida thought, a casual and unconsidered use of the plural. Mr. Justice Byrnes knew whereof
he spoke; unconstitutionality inhered in the substantive quite as much as in the procedural section,
and no part of the invalid statute could be separated to be salvaged. Where, in the same substantive
context, the State threatens by statute to convict on a presumption, its inherent coercive power is
such that we are constrained to hold that it is equally useful ch an rob lesvirt u alawlib rary

Page 322 U. S. 24

in attempts to enforce involuntary service in discharge of a debt, and the whole is invalid.

It is true that, in each opinion dealing with statutes of this type, this Court has expressly recognized
the right of the state to punish fraud, even in matters of this kind, by statutes which do not either in
form or in operation lend themselves to sheltering the practice of peonage. Deceit is not put beyond
the power of the state because the cheat is a laborer, nor because the device for swindling is an
agreement to labor. But, when the state undertakes to deal with this specialized form of fraud, it must
respect the constitutional and statutory command that it may not make failure to labor in discharge of
a debt any part of a crime. It may not directly or indirectly command involuntary servitude, even if it
was voluntarily contracted for.

From what we have said about the practical considerations which are relevant to the inquiry whether
any particular state act conflicts with the Anti-peonage Act of 1867 because it is one by which "any
attempt shall hereafter be made to establish, maintain, or enforce" the prohibited servitude, it is
apparent that we should not pass on hypothetical acts. Reservation of the question of the validity of
an act unassociated with a presumption now, as heretofore, does not denote approval. The Supreme
Court of Florida has held such an act, standing alone, unconstitutional. [Footnote 37] A considerable
recorded experience would merit examination in relation to any specific labor fraud act. [Footnote 38]
We do not enter upon the inquiry further than the Act before us. ch an rob lesvirt u alawl ib rary

Page 322 U. S. 25

Another matter deserves notice. In Bailey v. Alabama, it was observed that the law of that state did
not permit the prisoner to testify to his uncommunicated intent, which handicapped him in meeting
the presumption. In Taylor v. Georgia, the prisoner could not be sworn, but could and did make a
statement to the jury. In this Florida case, appellee is under neither disability, but is at liberty to offer
his sworn word as against presumptions. These distinctions, we think, are without consequence. As
Mr. Justice Byrnes said in Taylor v. Georgia, the effect of this disability "was simply to accentuate the
harshness of an otherwise invalid statute."

We impute to the Legislature no intention to oppress, but we are compelled to hold that the Florida
Act of 1919, as brought forward on the statutes as §§ 817.09 and 817.10 of the Statutes of 1941,
F.S.A. are, by virtue of the Thirteenth Amendment and the Anti-peonage Act of the United States, null
and void. The judgment of the court below is reversed, and the cause is remanded for further
proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

Reversed.

[Footnote 1]

The Florida statute under which Pollock is held was enacted as Chapter 7917 of the Acts of 1919. It
was reenacted as §§ 817.09 and 817.10, Statutes of 1941, in the revision and compilation of the
general statute laws of the State. It reads:

"817.09 Obtaining property by fraudulent promise to perform labor or service. -- Any person in this
state who shall, with intent to injure and defraud, under and by reason of a contract or promise to
perform labor or service, procure or obtain money or other thing of value as a credit, or as advances,
shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not
exceeding five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment not exceeding six months."

"817.10 Same; prima facie evidence of fraudulent intent. In all prosecutions for a violation of § 817.09
the failure or refusal, without just cause, to perform such labor or service or to pay for the money or
other thing of value so obtained or procured shall be prima facie evidence of the intent to injure and
defraud."

[Footnote 2]

State ex rel. Libtz v. Coleman, 149 Fla. 28, 5 So.2d 60, 61.

[Footnote 3]

Williams v. Pollock, 14 So.2d 700.

[Footnote 4]

219 U. S. 219 U.S. 219.

[Footnote 5]

315 U. S. 315 U.S. 25.

[Footnote 6]

October 25, 1943.

[Footnote 7]

"Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the
party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their
jurisdiction."

"Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

[Footnote 8]

The Act of March 2, 1867, 14 Stat. 546, reads:


"The holding of any person to service or labor under the system known as peonage is hereby declared
to be unlawful, and the same is hereby abolished and forever prohibited in the Territory of New
Mexico, or in any other Territory or the United States, and all acts, laws, resolutions, orders,
regulations, or usages of the Territory of New Mexico, or of any other Territory or the United States,
which have heretofore established, maintained, or enforced, or by virtue of which any attempt shall
hereafter be made to establish, maintain, or enforce, directly or indirectly, the voluntary or
involuntary service or labor of any persons as peons, in liquidation of any debt or obligation, or
otherwise, be, and the same are hereby, declared null and void, and any person or persons who shall
hold, arrest, or return, or cause to be held, arrested, or returned, or in any manner aid in the arrest or
return of any person or persons to a condition of peonage shall, upon conviction, be punished by fine
not less than one thousand nor more than five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment not less than one
nor more than five years, or both, at the discretion of the court."

The first part of the statute is now 8 U.S.C. § 56 (R.S. § 1990), and the criminal provision is § 269 of
the Criminal Code, 18 U.S.C. § 444 (R.S. § 5526).

[Footnote 9]

197 U. S. 197 U.S. 207, 197 U. S. 215-216.

[Footnote 10]

211 U. S. 211 U.S. 452, where held to be brought here prematurely, and 219 U. S. 219 U.S. 219.

[Footnote 11]

235 U. S. 235 U.S. 133.

[Footnote 12]

315 U. S. 315 U.S. 25.

[Footnote 13]

320 U. S. 320 U.S. 527.

[Footnote 14]

See Peonage Cases, 123 F.6d 1; United States v. Eberhart, 127 F.2d 2; United States v.
McClellan, 127 F.9d 1; In re Peonage Charge, 138 F.6d 6; Ex parte Drayton, 153 F.9d 6; Taylor v.
United States, 244 F.3d 1.

[Footnote 15]

"Any person in the State of Florida, who by false promises and with the intent to injure or defraud,
obtains from another, any money or personal property, or any person who has entered into a written
contract, with at the time, the intent to defraud, to do or to perform any act or service, and in
consideration thereof, obtains from the hirer, money or other personal property, and who abandons
the service of said hirer without just cause, without first repaying such money or paying for such
personal property, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof, shall be
punished by a fine not less than five nor more than five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment in the
county jail not less than thirty days, nor more than one year, or both fine and imprisonment."

Florida Laws 1891, c. 4032.


[Footnote 16]

It provided:

"Section 1. That, from and after the passage of this act, any person in the State of Florida, who shall
contract with another to perform for him services of any kind with intent to procure money or other
thing of value thereby, and not to perform the service contracted for, or whoever, after having so
contracted, shall obtain or procure from the hirer money or other thing of value, with intent not to
perform such service, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on conviction thereof, shall be
punished by fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment in the county jail not
more than one year, or by both fine and imprisonment."

"Sec. 2. That satisfactory proof of the contract, the procuring thereon of money or other thing of
value, the failure to perform the services so contracted for, or failure to return the money so advanced
with interest thereon at the time said labor or service was to be performed, without good and
sufficient cause, shall be deemed prima facie evidence of the intent referred to in the preceding
section."

Florida Laws 1907, c. 5678.

[Footnote 17]

"Section 1. Any person in this State who shall contract with another to perform any labor or service
and who shall, by reason of such contract and with the intent to injure and defraud, obtain or procure
money or other thing of value as a credit or advances from the person so contracted with and who
shall, without just cause, fail or refuse to perform such labor or service or fail or refuse to pay for the
money or other thing of value so received upon demand, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon
conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars or by imprisonment
for a period not exceeding six months."

"Sec. 2. That Chapter 5678, Acts of 1907, be, and the same is hereby, repealed."

"Sec. 3. That all laws in conflict with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed."

Florida Laws 1913, c. 6528.

[Footnote 18]

Goode v. Nelson, 73 Fla. 29, 74 So. 17.

"As 'involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly
convicted,' is forbidden 'within the United States' by the federal Constitution, a crime to be punished
by imprisonment cannot lawfully be predicated upon the breach of a promise to perform labor or
service."

73 Fla. at 32, 74 So. at 18.

[Footnote 19]

Phillips v. Bell, 84 Fla. 225, 94 So. 699. In this case, no reference was made to the prior decision of
the Florida court inGoode v. Nelson, supra, note 18

[Footnote 20]
Florida Statutes, 1941, §§ 817.09, 817.10; Florida Laws 1943, c. 22000, approved June 10,
1943. Taylor v. Georgia, 315 U. S. 25, was decided January 12, 1942.

[Footnote 21]

"That the question is one of fact does not relieve us of the duty to determine whether, in truth, a
federal right has been denied. When a federal right has been specially set up and claimed in a state
court, it is our province to inquire not merely whether it was denied in express terms, but also
whether it was denied in substance and effect. If this requires an examination of evidence, that
examination must be made. Otherwise, review by this Court would fail of its purpose in safeguarding
constitutional rights. Thus, whenever a conclusion of law of a state court as to a federal right and
findings of fact are so intermingled that the latter control the former, it is incumbent upon us to
analyze the facts in order that the appropriate enforcement of the federal right may be assured."

Norris v. Alabama, 294 U. S. 587, 294 U. S. 589. See Lisenba v. California, 314 U. S. 219, 314 U. S.
236; Chambers v. Florida, 309 U. S. 227.

"Even though the constitutional protection invoked be denied on nonfederal grounds, it is the province
of this Court to inquire whether the decision of the state court rests upon a fair or substantial basis. If
unsubstantial, constitutional obligations may not be thus evaded."

Broad River Power Co. v. South Carolina, 281 U. S. 537, 281 U. S. 540; Demorest v. City Bank
Farmers Trust Co., 321 U. S. 36.

[Footnote 22]

The Florida legislature has made use of separability clauses where separability was the
desire. See Florida Laws 1919, cc. 7808, 7936.

[Footnote 23]

Florida Statutes, 1941, § 817.01.

[Footnote 24]

Florida Statutes, 1941, § 817.29.

[Footnote 25]

These statutes carry permissible maximum punishment such, however, that they may be prosecuted
only in courts presided over by judges required to be lawyers and where presumably defendant's
rights are more accurately observed. SeeFlorida Constitution, Art. V, §§ 3, 17; Florida Statutes 1941,
§§ 32.05, 33.03, 36.01.

[Footnote 26]

Dr. Albert Bushnell Hart in The Southern South, after reviewing and unsparingly condemning
evidences of peonage in some regions, says,

"Much of the peonage is simply a desperate attempt to make men earn their living. The trouble is that
nobody is wise enough to invent a method of compelling specific performance of a labor contract
which shall not carry with it the principle of bondage."

P. 287.
[Footnote 27]

United States v. Reynolds, 235 U. S. 133, 235 U. S. 149; Loeb v. Jennings, 133 Ga. 796, 67 S.E.
101, aff'd on other grounds, 219 U.S. 582; Dunbar v. Atlanta, 7 Ga.App. 434, 67 S.E. 107. Cf.
Chicago v. Williams, 254 Ill. 360, 98 N.E. 666;Chicago v. Coleman, 254 Ill. 338, 98 N.E. 521.

[Footnote 28]

Butler v. Perry, 240 U. S. 328.

[Footnote 29]

Report on Peonage, Abstracts of Reports of the Immigration Commission, Vol. II, p. 439, Sen.Doc. No.
747, 61st Cong., 3d Sess.

[Footnote 30]

The operation of the system is described as follows:

"In late years, the natives who formerly supplied the labor for the logging concerns in that State have
been engaged in the paper mills, and the lumber companies have been compelled to import laborers,
largely foreigners, from other States. Boston is the chief labor market for the Maine forests. The
employment agents misrepresent conditions in the woods, and frequently tell the laborers that the
camps will be but a few miles from some town where they can go from time to time for recreation and
enjoyment. Arriving at the outskirts of civilization, the laborers are driven in wagons a short distance
into the forests, and then have to walk sometimes 60 or 70 miles into the interior, the roads being
impassable for vehicles. The men will then be kept in the heart of the forest for months throughout
the winter, living in a most rugged fashion, and with no recreation whatever. A great many of them
have rebelled against this treatment, and they have left their employers by the score. The lumbermen,
having advanced transportation and supplies, have appealed to the legislature for protection. In
February, 1907, a bill became a law making it a crime for a person to"

"enter into an agreement to labor for any lumbering operation or in driving logs and in consideration
thereof receive any advances of goods, money, or transportation, and unreasonably and with intent to
defraud, fail to enter into said employment as agreed and labor a sufficient length of time to
reimburse his employer for said advances and expenses."

Judges in municipal courts and trial justices were given jurisdiction to try cases under this law, and the
act provided that it would take effect immediately upon approval. When this bill was before the
legislature, requests were made by citizens interested in factories and other industries that the
provisions of the statute be made to protect all employers of labor. The attorney who introduced the
bill on behalf of the lumber interests which he represented has stated that he had refused to accede to
these requests, inasmuch as he believed the provision should not be extended. The protection granted
by the statute therefore was restricted to a favored class, persons interested in "lumbering operations
and in driving logs." Peonage Report, supra, note 29 p. 447.

[Footnote 31]

Minnesota Stat., 1941, § 620.64.

[Footnote 32]

"There is no provision in the Maine statute that"


"the failure or refusal of any employee to perform such labor or render such services in accordance
with his contract or to pay in money the amount for such transportation or such advancement shall be
prima facie evidence of his intent to defraud,"

"as appears in the contract labor law of Minnesota and in the statutes of other States in the West and
the South. However, justices of the peace in Maine have decided indiscriminately that, in order to
obtain a conviction under the law of that State, it is necessary to show only that the laborer obtained
the 'advances' and failed 'to labor a sufficient length of time to reimburse his employer.'"

"A justice at Houlton, Maine, who is a lawyer by profession told the attorney representing the peonage
committee that he decided in cases brought under the contract labor law that 'the burden of proof is
upon the defendant,' who must show to the court 'beyond a reasonable doubt that he had no intent to
defraud.' This justice added that, once in a while, if a laborer has a really good excuse, he will let him
off, as he believes 'every man has some rights, although he may be poor.' Another justice of the
peace at Patten, Maine, stated that, if it was shown that a laborer had obtained the advances and had
not worked sufficiently to settle for them, he found the defendant guilty without considering the
question of intent to defraud. This seems to be the general attitude of the rural justices of Maine
toward the contract labor law."

"Considerable peonage has resulted from this statute. The law has been vigorously enforced. Soon
after its passage, prosecutions were commenced in the lumber regions, and the jail at Dover, the
county seat of one of the large lumber counties of Maine, was crowded with laborers convicted of
defrauding their employers out of 'advances of goods, money or transportation.'"

"Involuntary servitude results in utilizing this statute to intimidate laborers to work against their will.
On account of the vigorous methods pursued in enforcing the above-described law, it soon became
known throughout the lumber region of Maine that any laborer was liable to imprisonment who
refused to work according to the provisions of his contract until he had settled for all advances, no
matter what misrepresentations may have been made to induce him to enter into the agreement. The
contract labor law has become a club which the foremen and superintendents draw upon the laborers
who refuse to go to work or to continue at work. If a man leaves his employer before settling for
advances, he will be pursued and apprehended, or someone will telephone to the constable, who will
arrest the laborer. He will then be brought before the justice, and 'sent down the river' to prison, or, if
he consents to labor until he shall have reimbursed for all advances and the fine and cost of the
prosecution, the employer will settle with the court and constable and will take the laborer back into
the forest. No doubt many of the laborers never attempt to escape, although they may consider that
they have been basely deceived about the conditions of labor."

Peonage Report, supra, note 29 pp. 448-49.

[Footnote 33]

The Court at one time said,

"The law gives a different effect to a representation of existing facts from that given to a
representation of facts to come into existence. To make a false representation the subject of an
indictment, or of an action, two things are generally necessary -- viz., that it should be a statement
likely to impose upon one exercising common prudence and caution, and that it should be the
statement of an existing fact. A promissory statement is not, ordinarily, the subject either of an
indictment or of an action."

@ 86 U. S. 160.

[Footnote 34]

273 U. S. 273 U.S. 119.


[Footnote 35]

219 U. S. 219, 219 U. S. 238.

[Footnote 36]

219 U. S. 219, 219 U. S. 239.

[Footnote 37]

Goode v. Nelson, supra, note 18

[Footnote 38]

Encyclopedia of Social Sciences; Commons & Andrews, Principles of Labor Legislation, p. 37; Wilson,
Forced Labor in the United States, Chapters VI and VII: "Report of Chas. W. Russell, Assistant
Attorney General, Relative to Peonage Matters," in Report of Attorney General (1937) p. 207, and
Report of Immigration Commission, supra, note 29

MR. JUSTICE REED, dissenting.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows:

"Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the
party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their
jurisdiction."

"Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

To meet the problem of peonage -- that is, "compulsory service in payment of a debt," [Footnote 2/1]
Congress enacted the legislation set out in note 8 of the Court's opinion which declared Á322 US. 26Á
invalid laws of a state by virtue of which involuntary service is enforced or attempted to be enforced in
liquidation of any debt. This Court reiterates today, in accordance with its previous rulings, that the
second section of the Florida statute, § 817.10, set out in note 1 of today's opinion is invalid under the
Thirteenth Amendment and the Federal Act because this second section enforces labor by fear of
conviction of the crime denounced in the first section. The second section provides that a refusal to
perform labor for which one has contracted and been paid in advance is prima facie evidence of an
intent to defraud under the first section which makes it a crime to obtain money with intent to defraud
under a contract to perform labor. This conclusion is accepted as a proper interpretation of the Federal
prohibitions. In the effort to obliterate compulsory labor to satisfy a debt, Congress may invalidate a
state law which coerces that labor by fear of a conviction obtained by a presumption of law which may
be false in fact. Taylor v. Georgia, 315 U. S. 25.

However much peonage may offend our susceptibilities, and however great our distaste for a statute
which is capable of use as a means of imposing peonage on the working man, the present statute is,
in this Court, no more immune than any other which a state may enact, from the salutary requirement
that its constitutionality must be presumed, and that the burden rests on him who assails it, on
constitutional grounds, to show that it is either unconstitutional on its face or that it has been or will
be in fact so applied as to deny his constitutional rights.

This Court now holds, as it has held before that, when the presumption section is applied in the trial of
a criminal charge under the substantive section, both are invalid, and a conviction thus obtained by
resort to a presumption of law which may be false in fact cannot be sustained. But the Court's opinion
fails to bridge the gap between ch anrob lesvirt u ala wlib rary
Page 322 U. S. 27

these earlier decisions of the Court and its present conclusion that the substantive provision, when
resorted to alone as the basis for a sentence on an admission of guilt, is likewise invalid because of
the mere existence of the presumption section.

Whether this conclusion rests upon the ground that the State of Florida cannot constitutionally make it
a penal offense for a laborer fraudulently to procure advances of wages for which he intends to render
no service or upon the ground that the presumption section has in fact operated in this case to coerce
petitioner's plea of guilty, the one is plainly without support in law and the other is without support in
the record.

So far as the decision of the Court rests on the ground that the substantive section is unconstitutional
on its face, the decision necessarily proceeds on the assumption that, because of the Thirteenth
Amendment, a state is without power to punish a workman who fraudulently procures an advance of a
wage when he intends not to work for it, or that the two sections in law and in fact are inseparable in
their application so that the substantive section is tainted by the presumption section, although in this
case it is not shown to have influenced the plea of guilty.

We are given no constitutional reason for saying that a state may not punish the fraudulent
procurement of an advance of wages as well as the giving of a check drawn on a bank account in
which there are no funds, or any other course of conduct which the common law has long recognized,
as the procuring of money or property by fraud or deceit. There is, of course, no constitutional reason
why Florida should not punish fraud in labor contracts differently from fraud in other classes of
contracts. Legislation need not seek to correct every abuse by a single enactment. The state may
select its objective.Whitney v. California, 274 U. S. 357, 274 U. S. 370; @ 310 U. S. 149. The
Constitution does not require that all persons should be treated alike, but only that those in the same
class shall receive equal treatment.

Not only has the Supreme Court of Florida held as a matter of law that the two sections of the statute
now before us are separable, [Footnote 2/2] but it is obvious that, as a matter of law, the
presumption section is not called into operation where, as here, the accused does not go to trial, but
pleads guilty to the substantive charge. In rejecting these conclusions as to the separability of the two
sections, we take it that the Court is not rejecting the Supreme Court of Florida's interpretation of the
Florida statute, but, rather than it concludes as a matter of fact that the presumption section is so all-
pervasive in its operation that we must ch an rob lesvirt u alawl ib rary

Page 322 U. S. 29

conclude without further proof that it so operated in petitioner's case as to coerce his plea of guilty to
the charge of violating the substantive section.

But neither the present record nor any facts of which we can take judicial notice lend support to that
conclusion. For all that appears, petitioner had no defense to the charge even though the substantive
section had stood alone. Unless we are to presume that the statute can only be given an
unconstitutional application, we cannot say that petitioner had any defense to the charge of fraud to
which he pleaded guilty, and certainly we cannot treat the presumption section as depriving him of a
defense which he did not have.

The Court apparently concludes that the enactment and maintenance of the presumption section, after
a determination here of its invalidity, makes the entire statute invalid on its face. This result is
reached by assuming that the existence of the presumption section coerces involuntary labor under
the contract by fear of conviction for violation of the first or substantive section. We cannot properly
take judicial notice of such an effect. If pleaded and proven, a different situation would emerge.
The petition for habeas corpus in this case can hardly be said to go farther than object to conviction
on the ground of the unconstitutionality of the Florida statute as a whole. No coercion to plead guilty is
alleged. The statements in the petition as to lack of counsel and of knowledge of the elements of the
offense are referred to in the Court's opinion, but we do not understand that the Court relies upon
them. No use was made of the presumption section at the trial. Petitioner pleaded guilty to the
substantive crime. No allegations or proof appear in the record that the Florida statute was used or
applied to promote peonage or involuntary servitude of petitioner or to coerce his plea of guilty. The
decision is, in effect, that,
ch an rob lesvirt u alaw lib rary

Page 322 U. S. 30

because the two sections standing together are capable of being used in violation of the Thirteenth
Amendment and the peonage act, each must be taken to be invalid on its face. The presumption of
constitutionality of statutes is a safeguard wisely conceived to keep courts within constitutional bounds
in the exercise of their extraordinary power of judicial review. It should not be disregarded here.

We cannot conclude that a statute which merely punishes a fraud in a contract, as the first section
does if considered alone, violates the provision of the Thirteenth Amendment against involuntary
servitude, or is null and void under 8 U.S.C. § 56 because it is an attempt to enforce compulsory
service for a debt. Conviction under the statute results not in peonage, work for a debt, but in
punishment for crime, probably in the county work house. Cf. United States v. Reynolds, 235 U. S.
133,235 U. S. 149. The conception embodied in the Court's opinion that the fear of conviction for his
fraud might compel the defendant to work as agreed is without basis in the record. At any rate, fear of
punishment is supposed to be a deterrent to crime.

The conviction should be affirmed.

THE CHIEF JUSTICE joins in this dissent.

[Footnote 2/1]

Bailey v. Alabama, 219 U. S. 219, 219 U. S. 242.

[Footnote 2/2]

The Supreme Court of Florida said:

"This is not the first challenge of the act which has appeared in this court. The identical matter was
considered in Phillips v. Bell, 84 Fla. 225, 94 So. 699, where the court concluded that the portion of
the law defining the crime was harmonious with the Thirteenth Amendment and observed, without
deciding the point, that, if the part referring to the prima faciecharacter of certain evidence should be
pronounced unconstitutional, the ruling would not affect the remainder."

The court then took up Bailey v. Alabama, 211 U. S. 452, and noted as to it:

"We think it very significant that the court remarked upon the lack of doubt that the offenses defined
could be made a crime. Gist of the decision, as we understand it, was, summarizing, that the part of
the law describing the crime and the one providing for the presumption were not interdependent, and
that, if, in the prosecution, the state did not resort to the latter, the validity of the former would be
unaffected."

Later, speaking of our opinion in the Taylor case, the Florida court said:

"The section anent presumptive evidence had been relied upon to secure a conviction so the court
again had for determination the question of the constitutionality of the first section when the second
was brought into play. Not being faced with that problem here, we conclude that the
first Bailey decision and ours in Phillips v. Bell are in accord, and that they, in turn, are not in conflict
with the rulings in the second Bailey case and Taylor v. Georgia, supra."