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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No.

L-2349 October 22, 1948

FRED M. H RDEN, petitioner, vs. THE D!RECTOR OF PR!SONS, respondent. Vicente J. Francisco for petitioner. First Assistant Solicitor General Roberto A. Gianzon and Solicitor Felix V. Makasiar for respondent. Claro M. Recto for the intervenor.

TU SON, J.: The petitioner, Fred M. Harden, is bein confined in prison for conte!pt of court b" virtue of an order of the follo#in tenor$ %t appearin that the defendant Fred M. Harden has not up to this date co!plied #ith the orders of this court of &ctober ', ()*' and March +', ()*,As pra"ed for, the court orders the arrest of the defendant Fred M. Harden as #ell as his confine!ent at the Ne# Bilibid Prisons, Muntinlupa, Ri.al, until he co!plies #ith the afore!entioned orders. The proceedin s for conte!pt arose in a civil case bet#een Mrs. Harden as plaintiff and the petitioner and another person as defendants, co!!enced on /ul" (+, ()*(, and involvin the ad!inistration of a con0u al partnership, pa"!ent of ali!on", and accountin . %n that case, a receiver #as appointed and a preli!inar" in0unction #as issued restrainin Fred M. Harden and his codefendant, /ose 1alu!bides, fro! transferrin or alienatin , e2cept for a valuable consideration and #ith the consent of the court first had and obtained, !one"s, shares of stoc3, and other properties and assets, real or personal, belon in to the aforesaid partnership, and #hich !i ht be found in the na!es of said defendants or either of the!. &n various dates in ()*4, Fred M. Harden transferred to the Hon 3on 5 1han hai Ban3in Corporation and the Chartered Ban3 of %ndia, Australia 5 China, both in Hon 3on , over P(,666,666 in drafts or cash- to 7ir inia Recreation Center, 8on Beach, California, P+6,()4.,6, and to an un3no#n person, P96,666. &n 1epte!ber ), ()*', Mrs. Harden !oved the court to order Harden to return all these a!ounts and to redeposit the! #ith the Manila branch of the Chartered Ban3 of %ndia,

Australia 5 China. &n &ctober ', ()*', /ud e Pe:a ranted the !otion in an order #orded as follo#s$ ;herefore, findin the !otion of the plaintiff of 1epte!ber ), ()*', to be #ell founded, for the purpose of preservin the status uo and in order that the a!ounts above referred to !a" stand read" to ans#er for an" le iti!ate clai!s of the <overn!ent in the for! of ta2es, the afore!entioned !otion is hereb" ordered to return, #ithin a period of (9 da"s fro! the receipt of a cop" hereof, the a!ount of P(,666,46,.44 to the Philippines and to redeposit the sa!e #ith the accounts of the Pla.a 8unch at the Manila Branch of the Chartered Ban3 of %ndia, Australia and China, #ith the understandin that upon failure to co!pl" #ith this order he #ill be declared in conte!pt of court. After a petition for certiorari #as instituted b" Harden in the 1upre!e Court and decided, and after various !otions #ere filed and heard, /ud e Pe:a, on March +', ()*,, entered an order, #hich #as a !odification of that of &ctober ', ()*', directin Harden =to deposit #ith the Manila Branch of the Chartered Ban3 of %ndia, Australia 5 China #ithin five da"s fro! receipt of a cop" of this order the !one" and drafts that he has actuall" in Hon 3on , #ithout pre0udice to passin upon later on the different a!ounts that the defendant has spent accordin to his attorne", after he has sub!itted to the court an ite!i.ed account of those e2penses. %n the sa!e order there #as this decree$ ;ith respect to the plaintiff>s !otion filed on March (4, ()*, pra"in that Fred M. Harden be ordered to deliver the certificate coverin the ?4,,99? Balatoc Minin Co!pan" shares either to the Cler3 of this Court or to the receiver in this case for safe3eepin after his co!pliance #ith the order of /anuar" (', ()*,, the Court, after considerin the different pleadin s filed, denies defendant>s !otion for e2tension of ti!e to re ister the said certificate of stoc3, thereb" !aintainin its order of /anuar" (', ()*,. The said defendant is further ordered, after the re istration of the said certificate, to deposit the sa!e #ith the Manila Branch of the Chartered Ban3 of %ndia, Australia and China. The last part of the order #as the cul!ination of another series of !otions #ith their correspondin hearin s. The facts ta3en fro! the pleadin #ere in brief as follo#s$ %n a !otion dated Ma" +,, ()*', the receiver appointed in the !ain case pra"ed that the certificates of stoc3 of the con0u al partnership, a!on the! ?4,,99? shares of the Balatoc Minin Co., alle ed to be in the possession of defendant Harden, be ordered turned over to hi! @receiverA so that he !i ht have the! re istered in pursuance of the provisions of Republic Act No. 4+. &n /une ', ()*', the court =authori.ed= Harden =to re ister not later than /une ?6, ()*' the stoc3 certificates in his possession, notif"in the court after#ards of such action. &n /ul" +,, ()*', Mrs. Harden co!plained that her husband failed to co!pl" #ith the above order and pra"ed that he be ordered to sho# cause #h" he should not be declared in conte!pt. &n Au ust (, ()*', Harden filed a perfunctor" co!pliance, and in order dated

Au ust +, ()*', he #as reBuired to =!a3e a detailed report of the stoc3 certificates #hich have been dul" re istered in accordance #ith Republic Act No. 4+.= %n his =co!pliance= dated Au ust ', ()*', Harden stated that he had been ranted an e2tension until Cece!ber ?(, ()*', #ithin #hich to re ister the Balatoc Minin Co. shares under Republic Act No. 4+. %n a !otion dated /anuar" ', ()*,, the receiver infor!ed the court that, not#ithstandin the e2piration on Cece!ber ?(, ()*', of Harden>s e2tended ti!e to co!pl" #ith Republic Act No. 4+, the records of the Balatoc Minin Co. sho#ed that the certificate had not been re istered as of /anuar" ', ()*,- and upon his reBuest, an order dated /anuar" (', ()*,, #as issued ivin Harden =an e2tension until March ?(, ()*, #ithin #hich to co!pl" #ith the &rder dated /une ', ()*'.= %n a !otion dated March (9, ()*,, Mrs. Harden pra"ed for the reasons therein stated, that defendant Harden =be ordered to deliver the certificates coverin the ?4,,99? Balatoc Minin Co. shares either to the Cler3 of this Court or to the Receiver herein for safe3eepin , i!!ediatel" after re isterin the! pursuant to Republic Act No. 4+.= &n March +*, ()*,, Harden filed a !otion statin that the re istration of shares of stoc3 under Republic Act No. 4+ had been e2tended until /une ?6, ()*,, and pra"ed that he =be allo#ed to re ister the stoc3 certificates in Buestion #ithin such period as b" la# or re ulations is or !a" be provided.= %t #as at this sta e of the case that the present petitioner #as co!!itted to 0ail. Broadl" spea3in , the rounds for relief b" habeas corpus are onl" @(A deprivation of an" funda!ental or constitutional ri hts, @+A lac3 of 0urisdiction of the court to i!pose the sentence, or @?A e2cessive penalt". @1antia o vs. Cirector of Prisons, ( 8D(6,?, /an. ?6, ()*', ** &ff. <a.., (+?(.A The fact that the propert" is in a forei n countr" is said to deprive the court of 0urisdiction, the re!ed" in such case bein , it is contended, ancillar" receivership. ;e can not a ree #ith this vie#. ;hile a court can not ive its receiver authorit" to act in another state #ithout the assistance of the courts thereof @9? C. /., ?)6D?)(A, "et it !a" act directl" upon the parties before it #ith respect to propert" be"ond the territorial li!its of its 0urisdiction, and hold the! in conte!pt if the" resist the court>s orders #ith reference to its custod" or disposition @ !d. ((,A ;hether the propert" #as re!oved before or after the appoint!ent of the receiver is li3e#ise i!!aterial. %n Serco"b vs. Catlin, +( N. E., 464D46,, the 1upre!e Court of %llinois said$ %t is true that the propert" attached is be"ond the 0urisdiction of the courts of this state, but the appellant, #ho caused it to be attached, is in this state, and #ithin the 0urisdiction of its courts. %f the superior court had no po#er to reach the oods in Ne#ton>s hands, it had the po#er to reach appellant, #ho sou ht to prevent its

receiver fro! ettin possession of the oods. %t !a3es no difference that the propert" #as in a forei n 0urisdiction. The facts of that case as stated in the decision #ere as follo#s$ &n April (*, (,,', in the case of Ada 1. Havens et al. vs. Caleb Clapp et al. then pendin in said superior court, the appellee #as appointed receiver of all the propert" and effects, real and personal, of the defendants therein, Caleb Clapp and Tho!as Cavies. Prior to that date Clapp and Cavies had for#arded, on consi n!ent, to Eli0ah E. Ne#ton, an auctioneer and co!!ission !erchant in ;ashin ton cit", in the Cistrict of Colu!bia, a lot of 0e#elr", #atches and silver#are, to be b" hi! disposed of for their benefit. 1o far as appears to the contrar", the oods so consi ned #ere still in the possession of Ne#ton at ;ashin ton #hen the order #as entered on April ', (,,', for the co!!it!ent of appellant for conte!pt. ;ithin a #ee3 or (6 da"s after his appoint!ent as receiver, appellee ave notice of such appoint!ent to Ne#ton, and de!anded a return of the oods. &n Ma" (,, (,,', the Meriden Britannia Co!pan", a corporation or ani.ed under the la#s of the state of Connecticut, bein a creditor of Clapp and Cavies, co!!enced an attach!ent suit a ainst the! for the a!ount of its clai! in the 1upre!e Court of the Cistrict of Colu!bia, and attached the oods in the hands of Ne#ton. The penalt" co!plained of is neither cruel, un0ust nor e2cessive. %n #x$parte Ee!!ler, (?4 F. 1., *?4, the Fnited 1tates 1upre!e Court said that =punish!ents are cruel #hen the" involve torture or a lin erin death, but the punish!ent of death is not cruel, #ithin the !eanin of that #ord as used in the constitution. %t i!plies there so!ethin inhu!an and barbarous, so!ethin !ore than the !ere e2tin uish!ent of life. The punish!ent !eted out to the petitioner is not e2cessive. %t is suitable and adapted to its ob0ective- and it accords #ith section ', Rule 4*, of the Rules of Court #hich provides that =#hen the conte!pt consists in the o!ission to do an act #hich is "et in the po#er of the accused to perfor!, he !a" be i!prisoned b" order of a superior court until he perfor!s it. %f the ter! of i!prison!ent in this case is indefinite and !i ht last throu h the natural life of the petitioner, "et b" the ter!s of the sentence the #a" is left open for hi! to avoid servin an" part of it b" co!pl"in #ith the orders of the court, and in this !anner put an end to his incarceration. %n these circu!stances, the 0ud !ent can not be said to be e2cessive or un0ust. @Cavis vs. Murph" G()*'H (,, P., +nd, ++)D+?(.A As stated in a !ore recent case @Ce ;ees G()*,H, +(6 1.;., +d, (*9D(*'A, =to order that one be i!prisoned for an indefinite period in civil conte!pt is purel" a re!edial !easure. %ts purpose is to coerce the contender to do an act #ithin his or her po#er to perfor!. He !ust have the !eans b" #hich he !a" pur e hi!self of the conte!pt.= The latter decision cites 1tanle" vs. 1outh /erse" Realt" Co., ,? N./. EB. ?66, )6 A., (6*+, (6*?, in #hich the theor" is e2pressed in this lan ua e$ %n a =civil conte!pt= the proceedin is re!edial, it is a step in the case the ob0ect of #hich is to coerce one part" for the benefit of the other part" to do or to refrain fro! doin so!e act specified in the order of the court. Hence, if

i!prison!ent be ordered, it is re!edial in purpose and coercive in character, and to that end !ust relate to so!ethin to be done b" the defendant b" the doin of #hich he !an" dischar e hi!self. As Buaintl" e2pressed, the i!prisoned !an =carries the 3e"s to his prison in his o#n poc3et.= The failure of the order of co!!it!ent to state that the acts #hich the conte!ner fails to do are still in his po#er to perfor!, does not void the order of i!prison!ent. 1ection ' of Rule 4* does not reBuire such findin to appear in the order, unli3e section (+() of the Code of Civil Procedure of California on #hich the petitioner>s contention is rested. Petitioner is in error in sa"in that section +?' of the for!er Philippine Code of Civil Procedure, fro! #hich section ' of Rule 4*, supra, has been copied, #as of California ori in. For!er /ustice Fisher is authorit" for the state!ent that section +?' of Act No. ()6 #as borro#ed fro! section (*94 of the &hio Code of Civil Procedure. @Fisher>s Code of Civil Procedure, ?rd ed., p. (?4.A The e2act si!ilarit" in substance thou h not in lan ua e bet#een the t#o provisions is a confir!ation of this state!ent. At an" rate, the order of co!!it!ent contains the alle ed !issin ele!ent if it is ta3en, as it should be ta3en, in connection #ith the orders of &ctober ', ()*', and March +', ()*,, and #ith the char es for conte!pt. %t e2pressl" ives nonDco!pliance #ith the t#o last !entioned orders as the rounds for the #arrant of co!!it!ent, and thus b" reference !a3es the! part of it. The orders of &ctober ', ()*', and March +', ()*,, in turn clearl" specif" the acts #ith the petitioner #as co!!anded to fulfill. %t is eBuall" clear fro! these orders that in the opinion of the court the petitioner is in a position to brin bac3 to the Philippines fro! Hon 3on part of the cash and the Balatoc shares he had re!itted to that colon". ;hether or not in truth the court>s findin s are supported b" sufficient evidence is a different !atter- it is a !atter of fact #hich can not be revie#ed b" habeas corpus. %n a lon line of decisions, this Court has steadfastl" held that habeas corpus does not lie to correct errors of fact or la#. @1lade Per3ins vs. Cirector of Prisons, 9, Phil., +'(Iuintos vs. Cirector of Prisons, 99 Phil., ?6*- Toronto Felipe vs. Cirector of Prisons, +* Phil., (+(- <utierre. Repide vs. Peterson, ? Phil., +'4- 1antia o vs. Cirector of Prisons, 8D (6,?, ( ** &ff. <a.., (+?(- McMic3in vs. 1chields, +?, F.1. )). *( Phil., )'(- Tinsle" vs. Anderson, *? 8a#. ed., )(.A ;hen a court has 0urisdiction of the offense char ed and of the part" #ho is so char ed, its 0ud !ent, order or decree is not sub0ect to collateral attac3 b" habeas corpus. the #rit of habeas corpus can not be !ade to perfor! the function of a #rit of error- and this holds true even if the 0ud !ent, orders or decree #as erroneous, provided it is #ithin the 0urisdiction of the court #hich rendered such 0ud !ent or issued such an order or decree. @1lade Per3ins vs. Cirector of Prisons, supra- 1antia o vs. Cirector of Prisons, supra.A 1o #hether the act char ed has been co!!itted or can still be perfor!ed is conclusivel" deter!ined b" the order or 0ud !ent of the trial court in the proceedin #herein the petitioner for habeas corpus is ad0ud ed in conte!pt. @#x$parte Fisher, +64 1.;. +d. (666.A. The petition is denied #ith costs.

Moran, C./., &.aeta, Paras, Feria, Pablo, Ben .on, Briones and Monte!a"or, //., concur.

Se"#r#te O"$%$o%&

PERFECTO, J., dissentin $ 1ince Ma" *, ()*,, Fred M. Harden has been placed under arrest and confined at the Bilibid Prisons, Muntin lupa, under the char e of the Cirector of Prisons. Respondent>s authorit" for confinin petitioner is based on the order of /ud e E!ilio Pena, of the Court of First %nstance of Manila, issued on April +,, ()*,, #hich reads as follo#s$ %t appearin that the defendant Fred M. Harden of the defendant to this date co!plied #ith the orders of this court of &ctober ', ()*', and March +', ()*,As pra"ed for, the court orders the arrest of the defendant Fred M. Harden as #ell as his confine!ent at the Ne# Bilibid Prisons, Muntinlupa, Ri.al, until he co!plies #ith the afore!entioned orders. The order of &ctober ', ()*', reBuires Harden to return fro! abroad #ithin a period of (9 da"s, the a!ount of P(,666,46,.44 to the Philippines and to redeposit the sa!e #ith the accounts of the Pla.a 8unch of the Manila branch of the Chartered Ban3 of %ndia, Australia and China. The order of March +', ()*,, reBuires Harden to deposit #ith the sa!e ban3 the !one" and drafts that he has actuall" in Hon 3on and the certificate coverin ?4,,99? Balatoc Minin Co!pan" shares, after re isterin the!, as reBuired in the order of /anuar" (,, ()*,. The trial court ordered petitioner>s confine!ent of an indefinite period of ti!e #hich !eans that it !a" last until his death, in virtue of the provisions of section ' of Rule 4* #hich reads as follo#s$ 1EC. '. !"prison"ent until ordered obe%ed. J ;hen the conte!pt consists in the o!ission to do an act #hich is "et in the po#er of the accused to perfor!, he !a" be i!prisoned b" order of a superior court until he perfor!s it.

The re le!entar" provision is null and void per se and, therefore, should be denied co!pliance. Perhaps, there is no other provision in our statute boo3s !ore revoltin to conscience, !ore shoc3in to the !ost ele!ental sense of 0ustice, and !ost unreasonabl" Craconian. The provision is characteri.ed b" such an e2tre!e of arbitrariness that is co!prehensible onl" under a dictatorial s"ste! of overn!ent. Petitioner has been and is clai!in that he has no !eans of co!pl"in #ith the orders for nonDco!pliance of #hich he is co!!itted to i!prison!ent for an indefinite period of ti!e. The trial court does not believe hi!, and #e presu!e that said court #as 0ustified b" evidence. But our presu!ption cannot ta3e the place of absolute infallibilit". ;hen there are conflictin clai!s as to facts, courts decide the issue so!eti!es on a !ere preponderance of evidence and so!eti!es, as in cri!inal cases, on evidence carr"in conviction be"ond all reasonable doubt. A decision based on a preponderance of evidence does not carr" absolute certaint". A decision based on a conclusion of fact be"ond all reasonable doubt is stron er, "et no one is too cra." to believe that it carries absolute certainl" or the !ar3 of infallibilit". /udicial histor" is full of blood" pa es about !an" individuals #ho have been burned, decapitated b" uillotine, han ed or shot, 3illed b" arrote or electrocuted, because tribunals found the! uilt" be"ond all reasonable doubt, but later on found to be absolutel" innocent. 1o!e of the! have been and are loved and enshrined as !art"rs, heroes, and a!on the! are counted the reatest !oral fi ures hu!anit" has ever produced. Because in petitioner>s case the lo#er court had to act onl" and !ust have acted on a !ere preponderance of evidence, the possibilit" of error is reater in cri!inal cases #here conviction be"ond all reasonable doubt is reBuired. Therefore, althou h the preponderance of evidence !a" !ilitate a ainst petitioner, such le al situation does not preclude the possibilit" that truth, as an absolute, !a" after all support petitioner>s clai!. %n such case, unless a !iracle should supervene to rescue hi! fro! his pli ht, he #ill re!ain confined for the rest of his da"s, an i!prison!ent !ore perpetual than reclusion perpetua, the lon est i!prison!ent allo#ed b" la# for the #orst cri!inals, 3idnapers, robbers, parriciders, traitors. 1hould petitioner have e!be..led or stolen the !one" and certificate of shares reBuired of hi! to be deposited in a ban3 he can be punished #ith "ears of i!prison!ent but not nearin even reclusion perpetua. There is no offense or cri!e for !ere disobedience that is punished b" reclusion perpetua or b" !an" "ears of i!prison!ent. But petitioner, for a !ere disobedience, #hich ulti!atel" !a" not be disobedience at all, is e2posed to suffer i!prison!ent for life. This, certainl", is a fla rant violation of the constitutional inhibition that no cruel and unusual punish!ent shall be inflicted. @1ection ( G()H, Article %%% of the Constitution.A This is also a denial to petitioner of the eBual protection of the la#s #hich is the first uarantee in our Bill of Ri hts. @1ection ( G(H, Article %%% of the Constitution.A

The authors of the rules could not have conceived or i!a ined an" conte!pt of court of such perversit" that #ould reBuire a heavier punish!ent than a fine of P(,666 and si2 !onths i!prison!ent, the !a2i!u! penalt" provided b" section 4 of Rule 4*. %n the present case, petitioner has alread" suffered the !a2i!u! i!prison!ent of si2 !onths , and is e2posed to re!ain in prison for !an" !ore "ears. %s there a conscience too callous to fail to see the unbearable discri!ination of the la# a ainst petitionerK Punish!ents are cruel #hen the" involve torture or a lin erin death or #hen the" e!plo" so!ethin inhu!an or barbarous, as stated in the Ee!!ler case @(?4 F. 1. *?4A, an authorit" invo3ed in the !a0orit" decision. But there is an"thin !ore inhu!an, barbarous, !ore torturin , ivin the feelin of lin erin death, than to co!pel a person to un0ustl" endure an indefinite nu!ber of "ears of i!prison!ent, #hen the onl" offense that he has co!!itted is that of conte!pt and the !ost serious case of conte!pt cannot be punished #ith i!prison!ent lon er than si2 !onthsK ;e have to be blind to fail to see this. The ar u!ent that the incarceration is not cruel because the sentence left the doors open for petitioner to avoid servin an" part of it b" co!pl"in #ith the orders of the court has absolutel" no !erit, because there is absolutel" no reasonable round in the philosoph" of la# that #ould leave to the offender>s discretion the len th of his i!prison!ent or the !easures of his punish!ent. Aside fro! the unscientific vie# revealed b" the ar u!ent, it has the shortDsi htedness of failin to see the possibilities of error of 0ud !ent on the Buestion as to #hether the accused is "et in a position to actuall" perfor! the acts ordered. The alle ation that the i!prison!ent or an indefinite period is purel" a re!edial !easure #hich assu!es that the offender !ust have the !eans b" #hich he !a" pur e hi!self #ith the conte!pt is pure rhetoric that has no round in fact as can be seen b" an" reasonable !an. %t fails to understand the true situation of a si!ple disobedience punished #ith i!prison!ent that has no possible end e2cept death. ;e held that the lo#er court erred in issuin the order of April +,, ()*,, in so far as it orders that petitioner be confined for an indefinite period of ti!e. ;e disa ree #ith the pronounce!ent in the !a0orit" opinion, li!itin the scope of the #rit of habeas corpus and issuin in favor of the lo#er court in patent of infallibilit" on the factual Buestion of #hether or not the act ordered to be perfor!ed is still in the hands of petitioner to perfor!. 1uch pronounce!ent are not supported b" la# nor b" an" principle of substantial 0ustice. Re ardless of the len th of the chain of erroneous decisions supportin such pronounce!ents, the errors shall continue to be errors. The len th of the chain !a" onl" e!phasi.e the a!ount of in0ustices perpetrated under such pronounce!ents. Assu!in that the lo#er court found petitioner uilt" of conte!pt, it could have punished petitioner up to the !a2i!u! penalties provided b" section 4 of Rule 4* but never !ore. Considerin that petitioner has alread" under one the !a2i!u! of si2 !onths i!prison!ent, even on the assu!ption that he is uilt", he is entitled to be released fro! confine!ent. ;e vote to rant the petition and to i!!ediatel" release Fred M. Harden fro! confine!ent and fro! the custod" of respondent Cirector of Prisons.

Foot%ote&
(

'' Phil., )+'.