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Facts:

This is an action for habeas corpus


brought by Bartolome Caunca in behalf
of his cousin Estelita Flores, an orphan
and an illiterate, 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
ones 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.
Ratio:
On the hypothesis that petitioner is really
indebted, such is not a valid reason for
respondents to obstruct, impede or
interfere with her desire to leave.
Such indebtedness may be multiplied by
thousands or millions but would not in
any way subtract an iota from the
fundamental right to have a free choice
of abode.
The fact that power to control said
freedom may be an effective means of
avoiding monetary losses to the agency
is no reason for jeopardizing a
fundamental human right.
The fortunes of business cannot be
controlled by controlling a fundamental
human freedom.
Human dignity is not merchandise
appropriate for commercial barters or
business bargains.
Fundamental freedoms are beyond the
province of commerce or any other
business enterprise.
Also, under the Revised Penal Code,
penalties are imposed "upon any person
who, in order to require or enforce the
payment of a debt, shall compel the
debtor to work for him, against his will,
as household servant or farm laborer."
Moral restraint is a ground for the
issuance of this writ, as where a
housemaid is prevented from leaving her
employ because of the influence of the
person detaining her.