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Co Kim Chan v. Valdez Tan Keh 75 Phil 113 Nov.

16, 1945
Facts :
Co Kim Chan had a pending civil case, initiated during the Japanese
occupation, with the Court of First Instance of Manila. After the Liberation
of the Manila and the American occupation, Judge Arsenio Dizon refused to
continue hearings on the case, saying that a proclamation issued by
General Douglas MacArthur had invalidated and nullified all judicial
proceedings and judgments of the courts of the Philippines and, without an
enabling law, lower courts have no jurisdiction to take cognizance of and
continue judicial proceedings pending in the courts of the defunct Republic
of the Philippines (the Philippine government under the Japanese).
1. Whether or not judicial proceedings and decisions made during the
Japanese occupation were valid and remained valid even after the
American occupation;
2. Whether or not the October 23, 1944 proclamation MacArthur issued in
which he declared that all laws, regulations and processes of any other
government in the Philippines than that of the said Commonwealth are
null and void and without legal effect in areas of the Philippines free of
enemy occupation and control invalidated all judgments and judicial acts
and proceedings of the courts;
3. And whether or not if they were not invalidated by MacArthurs
proclamation, those courts could continue hearing the cases pending
before them.
Political and international law recognizes that all acts and proceedings of a
de facto government are good and valid. The Philippine Executive
Commission and the Republic of the Philippines under the Japanese
occupation may be considered de facto governments, supported by the
military force and deriving their authority from the laws of war.
Municipal laws and private laws, however, usually remain in force unless
suspended or changed by the conqueror. Civil obedience is expected even
during war, for the existence of a state of insurrection and war did not
loosen the bonds of society, or do away with civil government or the
regular administration of the laws. And if they were not valid, then it would
not have been necessary for MacArthur to come out with a proclamation
abrogating them.
The second question, the court said, hinges on the interpretation of the
phrase processes of any other government and whether or not he
intended it to annul all other judgments and judicial proceedings of courts
during the Japanese military occupation.
IF, according to international law, non-political judgments and judicial
proceedings of de facto governments are valid and remain valid even after
the occupied territory has been liberated, then it could not have been

MacArthurs intention to refer to judicial processes, which would be in

violation of international law.
A well-known rule of statutory construction is: A statute ought never to be
construed to violate the law of nations if any other possible construction
Another is that where great inconvenience will result from a particular
construction, or great mischief done, such construction is to be avoided, or
the court ought to presume that such construction was not intended by
the makers of the law, unless required by clear and unequivocal words.
Annulling judgments of courts made during the Japanese occupation would
clog the dockets and violate international law, therefore what MacArthur
said should not be construed to mean that judicial proceedings are
included in the phrase processes of any other governments.
In the case of US vs Reiter, the court said that if such laws and institutions
are continued in use by the occupant, they become his and derive their
force from him. The laws and courts of the Philippines did not become, by
being continued as required by the law of nations, laws and courts of
It is a legal maxim that, excepting of a political nature, law once
established continues until changed by some competent legislative power.
course, the new sovereign by legislative act creates a change.
Therefore, even assuming that Japan legally acquired sovereignty over the
Philippines, and the laws and courts of the Philippines had become courts
of Japan, as the said courts and laws creating and conferring jurisdiction
upon them have continued in force until now, it follows that the same
courts may continue exercising the same jurisdiction over cases pending
therein before the restoration of the Commonwealth Government, until
abolished or the laws creating and conferring jurisdiction upon them are
repealed by the said government.
Writ of mandamus issued to the judge of the Court of First Instance of
Manila, ordering him to take cognizance of and continue to final judgment
the proceedings in civil case no. 3012.
Summary of ratio:
1. International law says the acts of a de facto government are valid and
civil laws continue even during occupation unless repealed.
2. MacArthur annulled proceedings of other governments, but this cannot
be applied on judicial proceedings because such a construction would
violate the law of nations.
3. Since the laws remain valid, the court must continue hearing the case
pending before it.
***3 kinds of de facto government: one established through rebellion (govt
gets possession and control through force or the voice of the majority and

maintains itself against the will of the rightful government) through

occupation (established and maintained by military forces who invade and
occupy a territory of the enemy in the course of war; denoted as a
government of paramount force) through insurrection (established as an
independent government by the inhabitants of a country who rise in
insurrection against the parent state)