You are on page 1of 18

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

G.R. No. 166199.  April 24, 2009.*

THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE, THE EXECUTIVE


SECRETARY and THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF
THE BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION, petitioners, vs.
CHRISTOPHER KORUGA, respondent.

Aliens; Deportation; Jurisdiction; Judicial Review; Although the


Board of Immigration has the exclusive authority and jurisdiction to
try and hear cases against an alleged alien, and that the Board of
Commissioners has jurisdiction over deportation proceedings, under
Article VIII, Section 1 of the Constitution, the power of judicial
review has been vested in the Supreme Court and the lower courts
such as the Court of Appeals, as established by law.·It is beyond
cavil that the BI has the exclusive authority and jurisdiction to try
and hear cases against an alleged alien, and that the BOC has
jurisdiction over deportation proceedings. Nonetheless, Article VIII,
Section 1 of the Constitution has vested power of judicial review in
the Supreme Court and the lower courts such as the CA, as
established by law. Although the courts are without power to
directly decide matters over which full discretionary authority has
been delegated to the legislative or executive branch of the
government and are not empowered to execute absolutely their own
judgment from that of Congress or of the President, the Court may
look into and resolve questions of whether or not such judgment has
been made with grave abuse of discretion, when the act of the
legislative or executive department is contrary to the Constitution,
the law or jurisprudence, or when executed whimsically,
capriciously or arbitrarily out of malice, ill will or personal bias.
Same; Same; Aliens may be expelled or deported from the
Philippines only on grounds and in the manner provided for by the
Constitution, the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as amended,
and administrative issuances pursuant thereto.·The settled rule is
that the entry or stay of aliens in the Philippines is merely a

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 1 of 18
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

privilege and a matter of grace; such privilege is not absolute or


permanent and may be revoked. However, aliens may be expelled or
deported from the Philippines only on grounds and in the manner
provided for

_______________

* THIRD DIVISION.

514

514 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

Secretary of Justice vs. Koruga

by the Constitution, the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as


amended, and administrative issuances pursuant thereto.
Same; Same; Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 (C.A. No.
613); Statutory Construction; A literal interpretation of a statute is
to be rejected if it will operate unjustly, lead to absurd results, or
contract the evident meaning of the statute taken as a whole·
statutes should receive a sensible construction, such as will give
effect to the legislative intention and so as to avoid an unjust or an
absurd conclusion; Over time, courts have recognized with almost
pedantic adherence that what is contrary to reason is not allowed in
law; Were the Court to follow the letter of Section 37(a)(4) of C.A. No.
613 and make it applicable only to convictions under the Philippine
prohibited drugs law, the Court will in effect be paving the way to an
absurd situation whereby aliens convicted of foreign prohibited
drugs laws may be allowed to enter the country to the detriment of
the public health and safety of its citizens.·The general rule in
construing words and phrases used in a statute is that in the
absence of legislative intent to the contrary, they should be given
their plain, ordinary, and common usage meaning. However, a
literal interpretation of a statute is to be rejected if it will operate
unjustly, lead to absurd results, or contract the evident meaning of
the statute taken as a whole. After all, statutes should receive a
sensible construction, such as will give effect to the legislative
intention and so as to avoid an unjust or an absurd conclusion.
Indeed, courts are not to give words meanings that would lead to
absurd or unreasonable consequences. Were the Court to follow the

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 2 of 18
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

letter of Section 37(a)(4) and make it applicable only to convictions


under the Philippine prohibited drugs law, the Court will in effect
be paving the way to an absurd situation whereby aliens convicted
of foreign prohibited drugs laws may be allowed to enter the
country to the detriment of the public health and safety of its
citizens. It suggests a double standard of treatment where only
aliens convicted of Philippine prohibited drugs law would be
deported, while aliens convicted of foreign prohibited drugs laws
would be allowed entry in the country. The Court must emphatically
reject such interpretation of the law. Certainly, such a situation was
not envisioned by the framers of the law, for to do so would be
contrary to reason and therefore, absurd. Over time, courts have
recognized with almost pedantic adherence that what is contrary to
reason is not allowed in law.

515

VOL. 586, APRIL 24, 2009 515

Secretary of Justice vs. Koruga

Same; Same; Same; Same; Since Section 37(a)(4) makes no


distinction between a foreign prohibited drugs law and the
Philippine prohibited drugs law, it should apply to those convicted of
all prohibited drugs laws, whether local or foreign.·Since Section
37(a)(4) makes no distinction between a foreign prohibited drugs
law and the Philippine prohibited drugs law, neither should this
Court. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos. Thus,
Section 37(a)(4) should apply to those convicted of all prohibited
drugs laws, whether local or foreign. There is no dispute that
respondent was convicted of Violation of the Uniform Controlled
Substances Act in the State of Washington, USA for attempted
possession of cocaine, as shown by the Order Deferring Imposition
of Sentence (Probation). While he may have pleaded guilty to a
lesser offense, and was not imprisoned but applied for and
underwent a one-year probation, still, there is no escaping the fact
that he was convicted under a prohibited drugs law, even though it
may simply be called a „misdemeanor drug offense.‰ The BOC did
not commit grave abuse of discretion in ordering the deportation of
respondent.
Same; Same; Aliens seeking entry in the Philippines do not

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 3 of 18
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

acquire the right to be admitted into the country by the simple


passage of time; Every sovereign power has the inherent power to
exclude aliens from its territory upon such grounds as it may deem
proper for its self-preservation or public interest.·It must be
remembered that aliens seeking entry in the Philippines do not
acquire the right to be admitted into the country by the simple
passage of time. When an alien, such as respondent, has already
physically gained entry in the country, but such entry is later found
unlawful or devoid of legal basis, the alien can be excluded anytime
after it is found that he was not lawfully admissible at the time of
his entry. Every sovereign power has the inherent power to exclude
aliens from its territory upon such grounds as it may deem proper
for its self-preservation or public interest. The power to deport
aliens is an act of State, an act done by or under the authority of the
sovereign power. It is a police measure against undesirable aliens
whose continued presence in the country is found to be injurious to
the public good and the domestic tranquility of the people.

PETITION for review on certiorari of the decision and


resolution of the Court of Appeals.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

516

516 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Secretary of Justice vs. Koruga

The Solicitor General for petitioners.


Bernas Law Office for respondent.

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari
under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the Decision1
dated September 14, 2004 and the Resolution2 dated
November 24, 2004 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.
SP No. 76578. The assailed Decision set aside the
Resolution dated April 1, 2003 of the Secretary of the
Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Judgment dated
February 11, 2002 of the Board of Commissioners (BOC) of
the Bureau of Immigration (BI), and dismissed the
deportation case filed against Christopher Koruga
(respondent), an American national, for violation of Section

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 4 of 18
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

37(a)(4) of Commonwealth Act No. 613, as amended,


otherwise known as the Philippine Immigration Act of
1940; while the assailed Resolution denied petitionersÊ
Motion for Reconsideration.
The factual background of the case is as follows:
Sometime in August 2001, then BI Commissioner
Andrea Domingo received an anonymous letter3 requesting
the deportation of respondent as an undesirable alien for
having been found guilty of Violation of the Uniform
Controlled Substances Act in the State of Washington,
United States of America (USA) for attempted possession of
cocaine sometime in 1983.
On the basis of a Summary of Information,4 the
Commissioner issued Mission Order No. ADD-01-1625 on
September

_______________

1 Penned by Associate Justice Mariano C. del Castillo and concurred


in by Associate Justices Romeo A. Brawner and Jose L. Sabio, Jr., CA
Rollo, p. 610.
2 Id., at p. 677.
3 CA Rollo, p. 140.
4 Id., at p. 139.
5 Id., at p. 138.

517

VOL. 586, APRIL 24, 2009 517


Secretary of Justice vs. Koruga

13, 2001 directing Police Superintendent (P/Supt.) Lino G.


Caligasan, Chief of the Intelligence Mission and any
available BI Special Operations Team Member to conduct
verification/ validation of the admission status and
activities of respondent and effect his immediate arrest if
he is found to have violated the Philippine Immigration Act
of 1940, as amended.
On September 17, 2001, respondent was arrested and
charged before the Board of Special Inquiry (BSI) for
violation of Section 37(a)(4) of the Philippine Immigration
Act of 1940, as amended. The case was docketed as BSI-

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 5 of 18
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

D.C. No. ADD-01-126. The Charge Sheet reads:

„On September 17, 2001, at about 10:00 A.M., respondent was


arrested by Intelligence operatives at his residence, located at 1001
MARBELLA CONDOMINIUM II, Roxas Boulevard, Malate,
Manila, pursuant to Mission Order No. ADD-01-162;
That respondent was convicted and/or sentenced for Uniform
Controlled Substance Act in connection with his being Drug
Trafficker and/or Courier of prohibited drugs in the State of
Washington, United States of America, thus, making him an
undesirable alien and/or a public burden in violation of Sec. 37(4)
[sic] of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as amended.
CONTRARY TO LAW.‰6

On September 28, 2001, after filing a Petition for Bail7


and Supplemental Petition for Bail,8 respondent was
granted bail and provisionally released from the custody of
the BI.9
Following the submission of respondentÊs
10
Memorandum and the BI Special ProsecutorÊs
Memorandum, the BOC rendered a Judgment12 dated
11

February 11, 2002 ordering the

_______________

6  CA Rollo, p. 141.
7  Id., at p. 144.
8  Id., at p. 154.
9  Id., at p. 157.
10 Id., at p. 159.
11 Id., at p. 187.
12 Id., at p. 243.

518

518 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Secretary of Justice vs. Koruga

deportation of respondent under Section 37(a)(4) of the


Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as amended.
On February 26, 2002, respondent filed a Motion for
Reconsideration,13 but it was denied by the BOC in a

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 6 of 18
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

Resolution dated March 19, 2002.


Unaware that the BOC already rendered its Resolution
dated March 19, 2002, respondent filed on April 2, 2002, a
Manifestation and Notice of Appeal Ex Abundanti
Cautelam14 with the Office of the President, which
referred15 the appeal to the DOJ.
On April 1, 2003, then DOJ Secretary Simeon A.
Datumanong rendered a Resolution16 dismissing the
appeal. On April 15, 2003, respondent filed a Motion for
Reconsideration17 which he subsequently withdrew18 on
April 23, 2003.
On April 24, 2003, respondent filed a Petition for
Certiorari and Prohibition19 with the CA, docketed as CA-
G.R. SP No. 76578, seeking to set aside the Resolution
dated April 1, 2003 of the DOJ Secretary and the Judgment
dated February 11, 2002 of the BOC.
On September 14, 2004, the CA rendered a Decision20
setting aside the Resolution dated April 1, 2003 of the DOJ
Secretary and the Judgment dated February 11, 2002 of
the BOC and dismissing the deportation case filed against
respondent. The CA held that there was no valid and legal
ground for the deportation of respondent since there was no
violation of Section 37(a)(4) of the Philippine Immigration
Act of 1940, as amended, because respondent was not
convicted or sentenced

_______________

13 Id., at p. 72.
14 Id., at p. 103.
15 Id., at p. 124.
16 Id., at p. 74.
17 Id., at p. 126.
18 Id., at p. 133.
19 CA Rollo, p. 9.
20 Supra note 1.

519

VOL. 586, APRIL 24, 2009 519


Secretary of Justice vs. Koruga

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 7 of 18
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

for a violation of the law on prohibited drugs since the U.S.


Court dismissed the case for violation of the Uniform
Controlled Substances Act in the State of Washington, USA
filed against respondent; that petitioners further failed to
present or attach to their pleadings any document which
would support their allegations that respondent entered
into a plea bargain with the U.S. Prosecutor for deferred
sentence nor did they attach to the record the alleged order
or judgment of the U.S. Court which would show the
conviction of respondent for violation of the prohibited
drugs law in the USA; that even if respondent was
convicted and sentenced for the alleged offense, his
deportation under Section 37(a)(4) is improper, since the
prohibited drugs law referred to therein refers not to a
foreign drugs law but to the Philippine drugs law, then
Republic Act No. 6425 or the „Dangerous Drugs Act of
1972‰; that although the BOC is clothed with exclusive
authority to decide as to the right of a foreigner to enter the
country, still, such executive officers must act within the
scope of their authority or their decision is a nullity.
PetitionersÊ Motion for Reconsideration21 was denied by
the CA in its presently assailed Resolution22 dated
November 24, 2004.
Hence, the present petition on the following grounds:

I. THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN TAKING


COGNIZANCE OF THE SUBJECT CASE WHICH FALLS UNDER
THE EXCLUSIVE PREROGATIVE OF THE EXECUTIVE
BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT.
II. ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT IT COULD TAKE
COGNIZANCE OVER THE CASE, THE COURT OF APPEALS
GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING AN ABUSE OF DISCRETION ON
THE PART OF HEREIN PETITIONERS.

_______________

21 CA Rollo, p. 630.
22 Supra note 2.

520

520 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Secretary of Justice vs. Koruga

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 8 of 18
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

III. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THAT


THE CHARGES AGAINST THE HEREIN RESPONDENT WERE
DROPPED.
IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT
PRIOR CONVICTION IS REQUIRED BEFORE RESPONDENT
COULD BE DEPORTED.23

Petitioners contend that the BI has exclusive authority


in deportation proceedings and no other tribunal is at
liberty to reexamine or to controvert the sufficiency of the
evidence presented therein; that there was no grave abuse
of discretion on the part of petitioners when they sought
the deportation of respondent since he was convicted by the
Supreme Court of the State of Washington for attempted
Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act and
underwent probation in lieu of the imposition of sentence;
that the dismissal of the charge against respondent was
only with respect to penalties and liabilities, obtained after
fulfilling the conditions for his probation, and was not an
acquittal from the criminal case charged against him; that
there is a valid basis to declare respondentÊs undesirability
and effect his deportation since respondent has admitted
guilt of his involvement in a drug-related case.
On the other hand, respondent submits that the
proceedings against him reek of persecution; that the CA
did not commit any error of law; that all the arguments
raised in the present petition are mere rehashes of
arguments raised before and ruled upon by the CA; and
that, even assuming that Section 37(a)(4) of the Philippine
Immigration Act of 1940 does not apply, there is no reason,
whether compelling or slight, to deport respondent.
There are two issues for resolution: (1) whether the
exclusive authority of the BOC over deportation
proceedings bars judicial review, and (2) whether there is a
valid and legal ground for the deportation of respondent.

_______________

23 Rollo, pp. 36-37.

521

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 9 of 18
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

VOL. 586, APRIL 24, 2009 521


Secretary of Justice vs. Koruga

The Court resolves the first issue in the negative.


It is beyond cavil that the BI has the exclusive authority
and jurisdiction to try and hear cases against an alleged
alien, and that the BOC has jurisdiction over deportation
proceedings.24 Nonetheless, Article VIII, Section 125 of the
Constitution has vested power of judicial review in the
Supreme Court and the lower courts such as the CA, as
established by law. Although the courts are without power
to directly decide matters over which full discretionary
authority has been delegated to the legislative or executive
branch of the government and are not empowered to
execute absolutely their own judgment from that of
Congress or of the President,26 the Court may look into and
resolve questions of whether or not such judgment has been
made with grave abuse of discretion, when the act of the
legislative or executive department is contrary to the
Constitution, the law or

_______________

24 Board of Commissioners (CID) v. De la Rosa, G.R. Nos. 95122-23,


May 31, 1991, 197 SCRA 853, 874; Lao Gi v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
81798, December 29, 1989, 180 SCRA 756, 761; Miranda v. Deportation
Board, 94 Phil. 531, 533 (1954).
25 Article VIII, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution, states:
SECTION 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one
Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by
law.
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle
actual controversies involving rights which are legally
demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not
there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality
of the government.
26 See Tatad v. Secretary of the Department of Energy, G.R. No.
124360, November 5, 1997, 281 SCRA 330, 347; Ledesma v. Court of
Appeals, G.R. No. 113216, September 5, 1997, 278 SCRA 656, 681;
Tañada v. Angara, G.R. No. 118295, May 2, 1997, 272 SCRA 18, 48-49.

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 10 of 18
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

522

522 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Secretary of Justice vs. Koruga

jurisprudence, or when executed whimsically, capriciously


or arbitrarily out of malice, ill will or personal bias.27
In Domingo v. Scheer,28 the Court set aside the
Summary Deportation Order of the BOC over an alien for
having been issued with grave abuse of discretion in
violation of the alienÊs constitutional and statutory rights to
due process, since the BOC ordered the deportation of the
alien without conducting summary deportation proceedings
and without affording the alien the right to be heard on his
motion for reconsideration and adduce evidence thereon.
In House of Sara Lee v. Rey,29 the Court held that while,
as a general rule, the factual findings of administrative
agencies are not subject to review, it is equally established
that the Court will not uphold erroneous conclusions which
are contrary to evidence, because the agency a quo, for that
reason, would be guilty of a grave abuse of discretion.
When acts or omissions of a quasi-judicial agency are
involved, a petition for certiorari or prohibition may be filed
in the CA as provided by law or by the Rules of Court, as
amended.30 Clearly, the filing by respondent of a petition
for certiorari and prohibition before the CA to assail the
order of deportation on the ground of grave abuse of
discretion is permitted.
This brings us to the second issue.
The settled rule is that the entry or stay of aliens in the
Philippines is merely a privilege and a matter of grace;
such privilege is not absolute or permanent and may be
revoked. However, aliens may be expelled or deported from
the Philip-

_______________

27 Republic v. Garcia, G.R No. 167741, July 12, 2007, 527 SCRA 495,
502; Information Technology Foundation of the Philippines v.
Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 159139, January 13, 2004, 419 SCRA
141, 148.

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 11 of 18
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

28 466 Phil. 235; 421 SCRA 468 (2004).


29 G.R. No. 149013, August 31, 2006, 500 SCRA 419.
30 RULES OF COURT, Rule 65, Section 4.

523

VOL. 586, APRIL 24, 2009 523


Secretary of Justice vs. Koruga

pines only on grounds and in the manner provided for by


the Constitution, the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940,
as amended, and administrative issuances pursuant
thereto.31
Respondent was charged with violation of Section 37(a)
(4) of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as amended,
which provides:

„Sec. 37. (a) The following aliens shall be arrested upon the


warrant of the Commissioner of Immigration or of any other officer
designated by him for the purpose and deported upon the warrant
of the Commissioner of Immigration after a determination by the
Board of Commissioners of the existence of the ground for
deportation as charged against the alien.
xxxx
(4) Any alien who is convicted and sentenced for a violation of
the law governing prohibited drugs;
x x x x‰ (Emphasis supplied)

Respondent contends that the use of the definite article


„the‰ immediately preceding the phrase „law on prohibited
drugs‰ emphasizes not just any prohibited drugs law but
the law applicable in this jurisdiction, at that time, the
Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972.32
The Court disagrees.
The general rule in construing words and phrases used
in a statute is that in the absence of legislative intent to
the contrary, they should be given their plain, ordinary, and
common usage meaning.33 However, a literal interpretation
of a statute

_______________

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 12 of 18
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

31 Supra note 28, at pp. 269-270; 487.


32 Repealed by Republic Act No. 9165 or the „Comprehensive
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002‰ approved on June 7, 2002, or about four
(4) months after the BOC rendered its Judgment on February 11, 2002.
33 Ruben E. Agpalo, Statutory Construction (1990), p. 131, citing
Central Azucarera Don Pedro v. Central Bank, 104 Phil. 598 (1954);
Espino v. Cleofe, G.R. No. 33410, July 13, 1973, 52 SCRA 92;

524

524 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Secretary of Justice vs. Koruga

is to be rejected if it will operate unjustly, lead to absurd


results, or contract the evident meaning of the statute
taken as a whole.34 After all, statutes should receive a
sensible construction, such as will give effect to the
legislative intention and so as to avoid an unjust or an
absurd conclusion.35 Indeed, courts are not to give words
meanings that would lead to absurd or unreasonable
consequences.36
Were the Court to follow the letter of Section 37(a)(4)
and make it applicable only to convictions under the
Philippine prohibited drugs law, the Court will in effect be
paving the way to an absurd situation whereby aliens
convicted of foreign prohibited drugs laws may be allowed
to enter the country to the detriment of the public health
and safety of its citizens. It suggests a double standard of
treatment where only aliens convicted of Philippine
prohibited drugs law would be deported, while aliens
convicted of foreign prohibited drugs laws would be allowed
entry in the country. The Court must emphatically reject
such interpretation of the law. Certainly, such a situation
was not envisioned by the framers of the law, for to do so
would be contrary to reason and therefore, absurd. Over
time, courts have recognized with almost pedantic
adherence that what is contrary to reason is not allowed in
law.

_______________

Philippine Acetylene Co. v. Central Bank, 120 Phil. 829; 12 SCRA 38

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 13 of 18
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

(1964).

34 Solid Homes, Inc. v. Tan, G.R. Nos. 145156-57, July 29, 2005, 465
SCRA 137, 149; Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Solidbank
Corporation, G.R. No. 148191, November 25, 2003, 416 SCRA 436, 460;
In Re Allen, 2 Phil. 630, 643 (1903).
35 Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) v. Buñag, G.R. No. 143784,
February 5, 2003, 397 SCRA 27, 37; Cosico, Jr. v. National Labor
Relations Commission, G.R. No. 118432, May 23, 1997, 272 SCRA 583,
591; Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Esso Standard Eastern, Inc.,
G.R. No. 28502-03, April 18, 1989, 172 SCRA 364, 370.
36 Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Solidbank Corporation, supra,
note 35; People v. Rivera, 59 Phil. 236, 242 (1933).

525

VOL. 586, APRIL 24, 2009 525


Secretary of Justice vs. Koruga

Indubitably, Section 37(a)(4) should be given a


reasonable interpretation, not one which defeats the very
purpose for which the law was passed. This Court has, in
many cases involving the construction of statutes, always
cautioned against narrowly interpreting a statute as to
defeat the purpose of the legislator and stressed that it is of
the essence of judicial duty to construe statutes so as to
avoid such a deplorable result of injustice or absurdity, and
that therefore a literal interpretation is to be rejected if it
would be unjust or lead to absurd results.37
Moreover, since Section 37(a)(4) makes no distinction
between a foreign prohibited drugs law and the Philippine
prohibited drugs law, neither should this Court. Ubi lex non
distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos.38 Thus, Section
37(a)(4) should apply to those convicted of all prohibited
drugs laws, whether local or foreign.
There is no dispute that respondent was convicted of
Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act in the
State of Washington, USA for attempted possession of
cocaine, as shown by the Order Deferring Imposition of
Sentence (Probation).39 While he may have pleaded guilty
to a lesser offense, and was not imprisoned but applied for
and underwent a one-year probation, still, there is no

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 14 of 18
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

escaping the fact that he was

_______________

37 Soriano v. Offshore Shipping and Manning Corporation, G.R. No.


78309, September 14, 1989, 177 SCRA 513, 519; Bello v. Court of
Appeals, G.R. No. L-38161, March 29, 1974, 56 SCRA 509, 518; Vda. de
Macabanta v. Davao Stevedore Terminal Company, G.R. No. L 27489,
April 30, 1970, 32 SCRA 553, 558; Automotive Parts & Equipment Co.,
Inc. v. Lingad, G.R. No. L-26406, October 31, 1969, 30 SCRA 248, 256.
38 BAYAN (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) v. Exec. Sec. Zamora, G.R.
No. 138570, October 10, 2000, 342 SCRA 449, 484; Pilar v. Commission
on Elections, G.R. No. 115245, July 11, 1995, 245 SCRA 759, 763;
Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No.
101976, January 29, 1993, 218 SCRA 203, 214-215.
39 CA Rollo, p. 650.

526

526 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Secretary of Justice vs. Koruga

convicted under a prohibited drugs law, even though it may


simply be called a „misdemeanor drug offense.‰40 The BOC
did not commit grave abuse of discretion in ordering the
deportation of respondent.
The Court quotes with approval the following acute
pronouncements of the BOC:

„x x x We note that the respondent admitted in his


Memorandum dated 8 October 2001 that he pleaded guilty to
the amended information where he allegedly attempted to
have in his possession a certain controlled substance, and a
narcotic drug. Further, he filed a „Petition for Leave to Withdraw
Plea of Guilty and Enter Plea of Not Guilty‰ to obtain a favorable
release from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the filing of
the said charge.
Evidently, the U.S. Court issued the Order of Dismissal in
exchange for the respondentÊs plea of guilty to the lesser offense.
Though legally allowed in the U.S. Law, We perceive that this
strategy afforded the respondent with a convenient vehicle to avoid
conviction and sentencing. Moreover, the plea of guilty is by

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 15 of 18
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

itself crystal clear acknowledgment of his involvement in a


drug-related offense. Hence, respondentÊs discharge from
conviction and sentencing cannot hide the fact that he has a prior
history of drug-related charge.
This country cannot countenance another alien with a
history of a drug-related offense. The crime may have been
committed two decades ago but it cannot erase the fact that
the incident actually happened. This is the very core of his
inadmissibility into the Philippines. Apparently, respondent
would like Us to believe that his involvement in this drug case is a
petty offense or a mere misdemeanor. However, the Philippine
Government views all drug-related cases with grave concern; hence,
the enactment of Republic Act No. 6425, otherwise known as „The
Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972‰ and the creation of various drug-
enforcement agencies. While We empathize with the innocent por-

_______________

40 Letters dated September 19, 2001 and September 20, 2001 of Michael A.
Newbill, Vice Consul of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, CA Rollo, pp. 148
and 149.

527

VOL. 586, APRIL 24, 2009 527


Secretary of Justice vs. Koruga

trayal of the respondent as a man of irreproachable conduct, not to


mention the numerous written testimonies of good character
submitted in his behalf, this incomplete and sanitized
representation cannot, however, outweigh our commitment and
sworn duty to safeguard public health and public safety. Moreover,
while the U.S. Government may not have any law enforcement
interest on respondent, Philippine immigration authorities
certainly do in the able and competent exercise of its police powers.
Thus, this case of the respondent is no different from a
convicted felon abroad, who argues that he cannot be
removed from the Philippines on the ground that the crime
was committed abroad. Otherwise, it would open the
floodgates to other similarly situated aliens demanding
their admission into the country. Indeed, respondent may not
be a menace to the U.S. as a result of his being discharged from

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 16 of 18
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

criminal liability, but that does not ipso facto mean that the
immigration authorities should unquestionably admit him into the
country.
x x x x‰41 (Emphasis supplied)

It must be remembered that aliens seeking entry in the


Philippines do not acquire the right to be admitted into the
country by the simple passage of time. When an alien, such
as respondent, has already physically gained entry in the
country, but such entry is later found unlawful or devoid of
legal basis, the alien can be excluded anytime after it is
found that he was not lawfully admissible at the time of his
entry.42 Every sovereign power has the inherent power to
exclude aliens from its territory upon such grounds as it
may deem proper for its self-preservation or public
interest.43 The power to deport aliens is an act of State, an
act done by or under the authority of the sovereign power.44
It is a police measure against undesirable aliens whose
continued presence in the

_______________

41 CA Rollo, p. 245.
42 Board of Commissioners (CID) v. Dela Rosa, supra note 24, at p.
896.
43 Lao Tan Bun v. Fabre, 81 Phil. 682 (1948).
44 In re McCulloch Dick, 38 Phil. 41 (1918).

528

528 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Secretary of Justice vs. Koruga

country is found to be injurious to the public good and the


domestic tranquility of the people.45
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed
Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
SP No. 76578 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
Judgment dated February 11, 2002 of the Board of
Commissioners of the Bureau of Immigration ordering the
deportation of respondent Christopher Koruga under
Section 37(a)(4) of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940,

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 17 of 18
SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 586 20/04/2018, 7*19 PM

as amended, is REINSTATED.
SO ORDERED.

Ynares-Santiago (Chairperson), Chico-Nazario,


Nachura and Peralta, JJ., concur.

Petition granted, judgment and resolution reversed and


set aside.

Notes.·When an alien is detained by the Bureau of


Immigration for deportation pursuant to an order of
deportation by the Deportation Board, the Regional Trial
Courts would have no power to release such alien on bail,
even in habeas corpus proceedings because there is no law
authorizing it. (Office of the Solicitor General vs. De Castro,
529 SCRA 157 [2007])
If bail can be granted in deportation cases, the Court
sees no justification why it should not also be allowed in
extradition cases·clearly, the right of a prospective
extraditee to apply for bail must be viewed in the light of
the various treaty obligations of the Philippines concerning
respect for the promotion and protection of human rights.
(Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
vs. Olalia, Jr., 521 SCRA 470 [2007])
··o0o··

_______________

45 Forbes v. Chuoco Tiaco, 16 Phil. 534 (1910).

© Copyright 2018 Central Book Supply, Inc. All rights reserved.

http://central.com.ph/sfsreader/session/00000162e2bd8b6571833769003600fb002c009e/p/ATB042/?username=Guest Page 18 of 18