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.R. No.

111876 January 31, 1996 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the King had judged; and they feared
the King: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment. (Ibid,
JOHANNA SOMBONG, petitioner, Verse 28)
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and MARIETTA NERI ALVIAR, LILIBETH NERI and all persons We do resolve the herein controversy inspired by God's own beloved King.
holding the subject child ARABELA SOMBONG in their custody, respondents.
The Petition for Review on Certiorari before us seeks the reversal of the decision1 of
DECISION respondent Court of Appeals2which had reversed the decision3 of the Regional Trial
Court4 which granted the Petition for Habeas Corpus filed by petitioner.
HERMOSISIMA, JR., J.:
The following facts were developed by the evidence presented by the opposing parties:
Every so often two women claim to be the legitimate parent of the same child. One or
the other, whether for financial gain or for sheer cupidity, should be an impostor. The Petitioner is the mother of Arabella O. Sombong who was born on April 23, 1987 in
court is consequently called upon to decide as to which of them should have the child's Signal Village, Taguig, Metro Manila.5 Some time in November, 1987, Arabella, then only
lawful custody. This is the very nature of this case. The child herein had considerably six months old, was brought to the Sir John Clinic, located at 121 First Avenue, Kaloocan
grown through the years that this controversy had unbearably lagged. The wisdom of City, for relief of coughing fits and for treatment of colds. Petitioner did not have
the ages should be of some help, delicate as the case considerably is. The earliest enough money to pay the hospital bill in the amount of P300.00. Arabella could not be
recorded decision on the matter is extant in the Bible, I Kings 3. As it appears, King discharged, then, because of the petitioner's failure to pay the bill. Petitioner
Solomon in all his glory resolved the controversy posed by two women claiming the surprisingly gave testimony to the effect that she allegedly paid the private respondents
same child: by installments in the total amount of P1,700.00, knowing for a fact that the sum
payable was only P300.00. Despite such alleged payments, the owners of the clinic, Dra.
And the King said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the King. Carmen Ty and her husband, Mr. Vicente Ty, allegedly refused to turn over Arabella to
her. Petitioner claims that the reason for such a refusal was that she refused to go out
And the King said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and on a date with Mr. Ty, who had been courting her. This allegedly gave Dra. Ty a reason
half to the other. to be jealous of her, making it difficult for everyone all around.

Then spoke the woman whose the living child was unto the King, for her bowels On the other hand and in contrast to her foregoing allegations, petitioner testified that
yearned upon her son, and she said, O my Lord, give her the living child, and in she visited Arabella at the clinic only after two years, i.e., in 1989. This time, she did not
no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. go beyond berating the spouses Ty for their refusal to give Arabella to her. Three years
thereafter, i.e., in 1992, petitioner again resurfaced to lay claim to her child. Her pleas
Then the King answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: allegedly fell on deaf ears.
she is the mother thereof. (1 Kings, Chapter 3, Verses 25-27)
Consequently, on May 21, 1992, petitioner filed a petition with the Regional Trial Court
King Solomon's wisdom, was inspired by God: of Quezon City for the issuance of a Writ of Habeas Corpus against the spouses Ty. She
alleged therein that Arabella was being unlawfully detained and imprisoned at No. 121,
First Avenue, Grace Park, Kalookan City. The petition was denied due course and
summarily dismissed,6 without prejudice, on the ground of lack of jurisdiction, the petitioner's child, Arabella. Neither could petitioner with all certainty say that Cristina
alleged detention having been perpetrated in Kalookan City. was her long lost daughter.

Petitioner, thereafter, filed a criminal complaint7 with the Office of the City Prosecutor On October 13, 1992, petitioner filed a petition for the issuance of a Writ of Habeas
of Kalookan City against the spouses Ty. Dr. Ty, in her counter-affidavit, admitted that Corpus with the Regional Trial Court11 of Quezon City. The trial court conducted a total
petitioner's child, Arabella, had for some time been in her custody. Arabella was of eight (8) hearings, for the period, from October 28, 1992 to December 11, 1992. On
discharged from the clinic in April, 1989, and was, in the presence of her clinic staff, January 15, 1993, it rendered a decision granting the Petition for Habeas Corpus and
turned over to someone who was properly identified to be the child's guardian. ordering respondent Alviar to immediately deliver the person of Cristina Grace Neri to
the petitioner, the court having found Cristina to be the petitioner's long lost child,
In the face of the refusal of the spouses Ty to turn over Arabella to her, she had sought Arabella.
the help of Barangay Captains Alfonso and Bautista of Kalookan City, Mayor Asistio of
the same city, and even Congresswoman Hortensia L. Starke of Negros Occidental. Their The trial court, in justification of its conclusions, discussed that:
efforts to help availed her nothing.
On the issue of whether or not the minor child, in question, is the daughter of
On September 4, 1992, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Kalookan City, on the basis of the petitioner, there seems to be no question, to the mind of this Court, that
petitioner's complaint, filed an information8 against the spouses Ty for Kidnapping and the petitioner, is, indeed, the mother of the child, registered by the name of
Illegal Detention of a Minor before the Regional Trial Court of Kalookan City.9 On Arabella O. Sombong, per her Certificate of Birth . . . and later caused to be
September 16, 1992, an order for the arrest of the spouses Ty was issued in the criminal baptized as Cristina Grace S. Nery (sic) . . . For, this child is the same child which
case. Facing arrest, Dra. Ty disclosed the possibility that the child, Arabella, may be was delivered by the Sir John Clinic at Kalookan City, owned by Dra. Carmen Ty,
found at No. 23 Jesus Street, San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City. The agents of the to Dra. Fe Mallonga and later given to the custody of the respondents. In fact,
National Bureau of Investigation went to said address and there found a female child Dra. Carmen Ty, in her testimony admitted that the petitioner is the mother of
who answered to the name of Cristina Grace Neri. Quite significantly, the evidence Arabella . . .
disclosed that the child, Cristina, had been living with respondent Marietta Neri Alviar
since 1988. When she was just a baby, Cristina was abandoned by her parents at the Sir On the question of whether or not the petitioner has the rightful custody of the
John Clinic. On April 18, 1988, Dr. Fe Mallonga, a dentist at the Sir John Clinic and niece minor child, in question, which is being withheld by the respondents from her,
of both Dra. Ty and respondent Alviar, called the latter up to discuss the possibility of as will authorize the granting of the petition for habeas corpus . . . there is no
turning over to her care one of the several abandoned babies at the said clinic. question that the minor . . . is only about five (5) years old . . . it follows that the
Respondent Alviar was told that this baby whose name was unknown had long been child must not be separated from the mother, who is the petitioner, unless, of
abandoned by her parents and appeared to be very small, very thin, and full of scabies. course, this Court finds compelling reasons to order otherwise.
Taking pity on the baby, respondent Alviar and her mother, Maura Salacup Neri, decided
to take care of her. This baby was baptized at the Good Samaritan Church on April 30, Heretofore, under the New Civil Code of the Philippines, the compelling reasons
1988. Her Certificate of Baptism10 indicates her name to be Cristina Grace S. Neri; her which may deprive the parents of their authority or suspend exercise thereof
birthday to be April 30, 1987; her birthplace to be Quezon City; and her foster father are stated. It was then provided in Article 332, supra, that:
and foster mother to be Cicero Neri and Maura Salacup, respectively. Respondent Alviar
was invited by the National Bureau of Investigation for questioning on September 22, The courts may deprive the parents of their authority . . . if they should
1992 in the presence of Dra. Ty and petitioner. Cristina was also brought along by said treat their children with excessive harshness . . . or abandon them. . . .
respondent. At that confrontation, Dra. Ty could not be sure that Cristina was indeed (Emphasis supplied by the RTC)
Unfortunately, the foregoing article, which was under Title XI, parental It cannot be said, therefore, no matter how remotely, that the petitioner was
authority, was expressly repealed by Article 254 of the Family Code of the negligent, nay culpably, in her efforts for the recovery of her daughter.
Philippines . . .
xxx xxx xxx
xxx xxx xxx
Certainly, the respondents have no right to the parental authority of the child,
It can be seen, therefore, that the words "or abandoned them" mentioned in superior to that of the petitioner as they are not her parents. They have,
Article 332 of the New Civil Code . . . is (sic) no longer mentioned in the therefore, no right to the custody of petitioner's daughter. The Sir John Clinic, or
amending (of) Art. 231 of the Family Code of the Philippines. Dra. Carmen Ty, have (sic) no right to deliver the child, in question, to Dra. Fe
Mallonga. Neither had the latter the right and the authority to gave (sic) the
It is clear . . . that under the law presently controlling, abandonment is no longer child to the respondents, whose custody of petitioner's daughter is,
considered a compelling reason upon the basis of which the Court may separate consequently, illegal.12
the child below seven (7) years old from the mother.
Herein private respondents filed an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court
Conceivably, however, in paragraph 6 of Article 231, supra, the effects of to the Court of Appeals. The Appellate Court took cognizance of the following issues: (1)
culpable negligence on the part of the parent may be considered by this Court in The propriety of the habeas corpus proceeding vis-a-visthe problem respecting the
suspending petitioner's parental authority over her daughter, in question . . . identity of the child subject of said proceeding; (2) If indeed petitioner be the mother of
the child in question, what the effect would proof of abandonment be under the
The question, therefore, is whether there is culpable negligence on the part of circumstances of the case; and (3) Will the question of the child's welfare be the
the petitioner so that her parental authority over her child, in question, may at paramount consideration in this case which involves child custody.
least be suspended by this Court.
The Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the decision of the trial court, ruling as it
This Court is not persuaded that the petitioner is guilty of culpable did that:
negligence vis-a-vis her daughter, in question, upon the bases of the facts
adduced. For, there is no question that from April, 1988 she kept on demanding . . . the lower court erred in sweepingly concluding that petitioner's child
from Dra. Carmen Ty . . . the return of her child to her but the latter refused Arabella Sombong and respondents' foster child Cristina Neri are one and the
even to see her or to talk to her. Neither did Vicente Ty, the husband of Dra. same person to warrant the issuance of the writ. . . .
Carmen Ty, respond to her entreaties to return her daughter.
As clearly stated in the facts of this case, not even petitioner herself could
xxx xxx xxx recognize her own child when respondents' foster child Cristina Neri was
presented to her before the NBI and respondent court. Dr. Carmen Ty at the NBI
Besides, in the interim, while petitioner was looking for her daughter, she made investigation could not also ascertain whether or not Cristina Neri and
representations for her recovery with Barangay Captains Alfonso and Bautista, petitioner's missing child are one and the same person.
and Mayor Asistio, all of Kalookan City, as well as with Congresswoman
Hortensia L. Starke to intervene in her behalf. Before the lower court, petitioner-appellee presented two physicians from the
Sir John Clinic, namely, Dr. Carmen Ty and Dr. Angelina Trono to identify the
child in question. But both witnesses could not positively declare that Cristina
Neri is the same missing child Arabella Sombong of petitioner. Dr. Trono even no fixed income. She also admitted that she had no stable job, and she had been
declared in court that there were other babies left in the clinic and that she separated from a man previously married to another woman. She also
could not be certain which baby was given to respondents (pp. 48-49, tsn, Nov. confessed that she planned to go abroad and leave her other child Johannes to
10, 1992). . . . Petitioner, herself, could not identify her own child, prompting the care of the nuns. The child Arabella Sombong wherever she is certainly does
the respondent court to call for child Cristina Neri to come forward near the not face a bright prospect with petitioner-appellee.13
bench for comparison of her physical features with that of her alleged mother,
the petitioner (p. 32, tsn, Nov. 5, 1992). After a comparison of petitioner and This prompted the petitioner to file this petition.
Cristina Neri's physical features, the lower court found no similarity and to
which petitioner agreed claiming that said child looked like her sister-in-law (p. We do not find the petition to be meritorious.
33, id.). When the lower court instructed petitioner to bring said sister-in-law in
the next hearing, petitioner stated they were not on good terms (p. 34, id.) No While we sympathize with the plight of petitioner who has been separated from her
one, therefore, up to this time has come forward to testify as a witness in order daughter for more than eight years, we cannot grant her the relief she is seeking,
to positively identify respondents' child Cristina Neri to be one and the same as because the evidence in this case does not support a finding that the child, Cristina, is in
petitioner's missing child, Arabella Sombong. truth and in fact her child, Arabella; neither is there sufficient evidence to support the
finding that private respondents' custody of Cristina is so illegal as to warrant the grant
xxx xxx xxx of a Writ of Habeas Corpus. In general, the purpose of the writ of habeas corpus is to
determine whether or not a particular person is legally held. A prime specification of an
The issuance of a writ of habeas corpus does not lie in this case considering that application for a writ of habeas corpus, in fact, is an actual and effective, and not merely
petitioner is not entitled to the custody of Cristina Neri because she is not the nominal or moral, illegal restraint of liberty. "The writ of habeas corpus was devised and
mother of the said child, and does not have the right to have custody over said exists as a speedy and effectual remedy to relieve persons from unlawful restraint, and
child. as the best and only sufficient defense of personal freedom. A prime specification of an
application for a writ of habeas corpus is restraint of liberty. The essential object and
xxx xxx xxx purpose of the writ of habeas corpus is to inquire into all manner of involuntary
restraint as distinguished from voluntary, and to relieve a person therefrom if such
We do not agree with the lower court that the ground of abandonment of a restraint is illegal. Any restraint which will preclude freedom of action is sufficient."14
child has been repealed by Art. 231 of the Family Code for abandonment can
also be included under the phrase "cases which have resulted from culpable Fundamentally, in order to justify the grant of the writ of habeas corpus, the restraint of
negligence of the parent" (par. 2, Art. 231 of the Family Code). What can be the liberty must be in the nature of an illegal and involuntary deprivation of freedom of
worst culpable negligence of a parent than abandoning her own child. This court action. This is the basic requisite under the first part of Section 1, Rule 102, of the
does not believe petitioner-appellee's explanation that she had been Revised Rules of Court, which provides that "except as otherwise expressly provided by
negotiating for the discharge of her child for the past five years. That was too law, the writ of habeas corpus shall extend to all cases of illegal confinement or
long a time for negotiation when she could have filed immediately a complaint detention by which any person is deprived of his liberty."
with the authorities or the courts . . .
In the second part of the same provision, however, Habeas Corpus may be resorted to in
As to the issue of the welfare of the child, petitioner-appellee's capability to give cases where "the rightful custody of any person is withheld from the person entitled
her child the basic needs and guidance in life appear (sic) to be bleak. Before the thereto." Thus, although the writ of Habeas Corpus ought not to be issued if the
lower court petitioner-appellee filed a motion to litigate as pauper as she had restraint is voluntary, we have held time and again that the said writ is the proper legal
remedy to enable parents to regain the custody of a minor child even if the latter be in I
the custody of a third person of her own free will.15
As to the question
It may even be said that in custody cases involving minors, the question of illegal and of identity.
involuntary restraint of liberty is not the underlying rationale for the availability of the
writ as a remedy; rather, the writ of habeas corpus is prosecuted for the purpose of Petitioner does not have the right of custody over the minor Cristina because, by the
determining the right of custody over a child. evidence disclosed before the court a quo, Cristina has not been shown to be
petitioner's daughter, Arabella. The evidence adduced before the trial court does not
The controversy does not involve the question of personal freedom, because an infant is warrant the conclusion that Arabella is the same person as Cristina. It will be
presumed to be in the custody of someone until he attains majority age. In passing on remembered that, in habeas corpus proceedings, the question of identity is relevant and
the writ in a child custody case, the court deals with a matter of an equitable nature. material, subject to the usual presumptions including those as to identity of
Not bound by any mere legal right of parent or guardian, the court gives his or her claim person.19 These presumptions may yield, however, to the evidence proffered by the
to the custody of the child due weight as a claim founded on human nature and parties.
considered generally equitable and just. Therefore, these cases are decided, not on the
legal right of the petitioner to be relieved from unlawful imprisonment or detention, as Identity may be thought of as a quality of a person or thing, — the quality of
in the case of adults, but on the court's view of the best interests of those whose sameness with another person or thing. The essential assumption is that two
welfare requires that they be in custody of one person or another. Hence, the court is persons or things are first thought of as existing, and that then the one is
not bound to deliver a child into the custody of any claimant or of any person, but alleged, because of common features, to be the same as the other.20
should, in the consideration of the facts, leave it in such custody as its welfare at the
time appears to require. In short, the child's welfare is the supreme consideration. Evidence must necessarily be adduced to prove that two persons, initially thought of to
be distinct and separate from each other, are indeed one and the same. The process is
Considering that the child's welfare is an all-important factor in custody cases, the Child both logical and analytical.
and Youth Welfare Code16unequivocally provides that in all questions regarding the care
and custody, among others, of the child, his welfare shall be the paramount . . . it operates by comparing common marks found to exist in the two supposed
consideration.17 In the same vein, the Family Code authorizes the courts to, if the separate objects of thought, with reference to the possibility of their being the
welfare of the child so demands, deprive the parents concerned of parental authority same. It follows that its force depends on the necessariness of the association
over the child or adopt such measures as may be proper under the circumstances.18 between the mark and a single object. Where a certain circumstance, feature,
or mark, may commonly be found associated with a large number of objects,
The foregoing principles considered, the grant of the writ in the instant case will all the presence of that feature or mark in two supposed objects is little indication
depend on the concurrence of the following requisites: (1) that the petitioner has the of their identity, because . . . the other conceivable hypotheses are so
right of custody over the minor; (2) that the rightful custody of the minor is being numerous, i.e., the objects that possess that mark are numerous and therefore
withheld from the petitioner by the respondent; and (3) that it is to the best interest of any two of them possessing it may well be different. But where the objects
the minor concerned to be in the custody of petitioner and not that of the respondent. possessing the mark are only one or a few, and the mark is found in two
supposed instances, the chances of two being different are "nil" or are
Not all of these requisites exist in this case. The dismissal of this petition is thus comparatively small.
warranted.
Hence, in the process of identification of two supposed objects, by a common Significantly, Justice Lourdes K. Tayao-Jaguros, herself a mother and the ponente of the
mark, the force of the inference depends on the degree of necessariness of herein assailed decision, set the case for hearing on August 30, 1993 primarily for the
association of that mark with a single object. purpose of observing petitioner's demeanor towards the minor Cristina. She made the
following personal but relevant manifestation:
For simplicity's sake, the evidential circumstance may thus be spoken of as "a
mark." But in practice it rarely occurs that the evidential mark is a single The undersigned ponente as a mother herself of four children, wanted to see
circumstance. The evidencing feature is usually a group of circumstances, which how petitioner as an alleged mother of a missing child supposedly in the person
as a whole constitute a feature capable of being associated with a single object. of Cristina Neri would react on seeing again her long lost child. The petitioner
Rarely can one circumstance alone be so inherently peculiar to a single object. It appeared in the scheduled hearing of this case late, and she walked inside the
is by adding circumstance to circumstance that we obtain a composite feature courtroom looking for a seat without even stopping at her alleged daughter's
or mark which as a whole cannot be supposed to be associated with more than seat; without even casting a glance on said child, and without even that tearful
a single object. embrace which characterizes the reunion of a loving mother with her missing
dear child. Throughout the proceedings, the undersigned ponente noticed no
The process of constructing an inference of identity thus consists usually in signs of endearment and affection expected of a mother who had been
adding together a number of circumstances, each of which by itself might be a deprived of the embrace of her little child for many years. The conclusion or
feature of many objects, but all of which together make it more probable that finding of undersigned ponente as a mother, herself, that petitioner-appellee is
they co-exist in a single object only. Each additional circumstance reduces the not the mother of Cristina Neri has been given support by aforestated
chances of there being more than one object so associated.21 observation . . .22

In the instant case, the testimonial and circumstantial proof establishes the individual The process of constructing an inference of identity having earlier been explained to
and separate existence of petitioner's child, Arabella, from that of private respondents' consist of adding one circumstance to another in order to obtain a composite feature or
foster child, Cristina. mark which as a whole cannot be supposed to be associated with more than a single
object, the reverse is also true, i.e., when one circumstance is added to another, and the
We note, among others, that Dr. Trono, who is petitioner's own witness, testified in result is a fortification of the corporeality of each of the two objects the identity of
court that, together with Arabella, there were several babies left in the clinic and so she which is being sought to be established, the nexus of circumstances correspondingly
could not be certain whether it was Arabella or some other baby that was given to multiply the chances of there being more than one object so associated. This is the
private respondents. Petitioner's own evidence shows that, after the confinement of situation that confronts us in this case, and so the inevitable but sad conclusion that we
Arabella in the clinic in 1987, she saw her daughter again only in 1989 when she visited must make is that petitioner has no right of custody over the minor Cristina, because
the clinic. This corroborates the testimony of petitioner's own witness, Dra. Ty, that Cristina is not identical with her missing daughter Arabella.
Arabella was physically confined in the clinic from November, 1987 to April, 1989. This
testimony tallies with her assertion in her counter-affidavit to the effect that Arabella II
was in the custody of the hospital until April, 1989. All this, when juxtaposed with the
unwavering declaration of private respondents that they obtained custody of Cristina in Private respondents
April, 1988 and had her baptized at the Good Samaritan Church on April 30, 1988, leads not unlawfully
to the conclusion that Cristina is not Arabella. withholding custody.
Since we hold that petitioner has not been established by evidence to be entitled to the Padilla, Bellosillo, Vitug and Kapunan, JJ., concur.
custody of the minor Cristina on account of mistaken identity, it cannot be said that
private respondents are unlawfully withholding from petitioner the rightful custody over
Cristina. At this juncture, we need not inquire into the validity of the mode by which
private respondents acquired custodial rights over the minor, Cristina. This matter is not
ripe for adjudication in this instant petition for habeas corpus.

III

Private respondents
have the interest of
the child Cristina at
heart.

We find that private respondents are financially, physically and spiritually in a better
position to take case of the child, Cristina. They have the best interest of Cristina at
heart. On the other hand, it is not to the best interest of the minor, Cristina, to be
placed in the custody of petitioner, had the petitioner's custody rights over Cristina
been established. The Court of Appeals gave the reason:

As to the issue of the welfare of the child, petitioner-appellee's capability to give


her child the basic needs and guidance in life appear (sic) to be bleak. Before the
lower court petitioner-appellee filed a motion to litigate as pauper as she had
no fixed income. She also admitted that she had no stable job, and she had been
separated from a man previously married to another woman. She also
confessed that she planned to go abroad and leave her other child Johannes to
the care of the nuns. The child Arabella Sombong wherever she is certainly does
not face a bright prospect with petitioner-appellee.23

In the light of the aforegoing premises, we are constrained to rule that Habeas
Corpus does not lie to afford petitioner the relief she seeks.

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 30574 is
AFFIRMED IN TOTO. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
IN THE MATTER OF THE G.R. No. 167193 Petitioner was immediately flown to the Philippines and brought to the PNP-IG
PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS
Present: at Camp Crame for booking and custodial investigation.

PUNO,* J., Chairperson, In a letter dated July 3, 2003, Atty. Guillermo G. Danipog, Jr., Police
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,**CORONA AZCUNA, and GARCIA, JJ.
ENGR. ASHRAF KUNTING, Superintendent and Chief of the Legal Affairs Division, PNP-IG, informed the Branch
Petitioner. Promulgated: Clerk of Court of the RTC that Kunting was already in the custody of the PNP-IG.
Atty. Danipog requested for Kuntings temporary detention at the PNP-
April 19, 2006
x ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ x IG, Camp Crame, Quezon City due to the high security risks involved and prayed for the
DECISION issuance of a corresponding commitment order.

AZCUNA, J.:
In a letter dated July 9, 2003, Emilio F. Enriquez, Acting Clerk of Court of the
This is a petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus directing Police RTC, replied to the request of Atty. Danipog, thus:
Chief Superintendent Ismael R. Rafanan and General Robert Delfin,[1] Philippine National xxx
Police (PNP) Intelligence Chief, to bring petitioner Ashraf Kunting before this Court and The undersigned referred the matter to Hon. Danilo M. Bucoy,
show cause why he is illegally detained. Presiding Judge of this Court, who issued the Alias Warrant of Arrest in
the herein mentioned case (Criminal Case No. 3674-1187) and per his
instruction, accused As[h]raf Kunting y Barreto [may be] temporarily
The antecedents are as follows: detained thereat by virtue of the Alias Warrant of Arrest issued in this
case, however considering that the accused is a high security risk, he
On October 19, 2001, petitioner Kunting was arrested in Malaysia for violation should be brought to Isabela, Basilan as soon as the necessary security
escort can be provided for his transfer, where the proper commitment
of the Malaysian Internal Security Act. On June 12, 2003, the Royal Malaysian Police in order can be issued as the herein mentioned case is about to be
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, turned over Kunting to the PNP-IG and Task submitted by the prosecution.
Force Salinglahi pursuant to warrants for his arrest issued by the Regional Trial Court
Thank you ever so much for your usual cooperation extended to
(RTC) of IsabelaCity, Basilan, Branch 2, Ninth Judicial Region. Kunting was charged with the Court.[2]
four counts of Kidnapping for Ransom and Serious Illegal Detention with the RTC under
separate Amended Informations, docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 3674-1187, 3537-1129,
3608-1164, and 3611-1165. On September 15, 2003, the RTC issued an Order directing the Police
Superintendent and Chief, Legal Affairs Division, PNP-IG, to immediately turn
over Kunting to the trial court since Kunting filed an Urgent Motion for Reinvestigation.
On March 15, 2005, Police Inspector Amado L. Barbasa, Jr., OIC, Legal Affairs
On November 5, 2003, PNP-IG Director Arturo C. Lomibao wrote a letter to Chief Division, PNP-IG, filed with the RTC a Motion to Defer Implementation of the Order
State Prosecutor Jovencito R. Zuo, Department of Justice (DOJ), requesting for dated February 11, 2005, citing, among other grounds, the existence of a pending
representation and a motion to be filed for the transfer of the venue of the trial motion for the transfer of the venue of the trial of Criminal Case No. 3537-1129
from Isabela City, Basilan to Pasig City, for the following reasons: (1) Several intelligence against Kunting, which was allegedly filed by the DOJ before this Court. Police
reports have been received by the PNP-IG stating that utmost effort will be exerted by Inspector Barbasa prayed that the Order of the RTC dated February 11, 2005, directing
the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) to recover the custody of Kunting from the PNP considering the turnover of Kunting to the court, be suspended until the motion for the transfer of
his importance to the ASG; and (2) there is a big possibility that Kunting may be venue is resolved.
recovered by the ASG if he will be detained in Basilan due to inadequate security facility
in the municipal jail and its proximity to the area of operation of the ASG. On March 14, 2005, Kunting, by counsel, filed this petition for the issuance of a
On August 13, 2004, the RTC rendered a decision against petitioners co-accused writ of habeas corpus. Kunting stated that he has been restrained of his liberty
in the consolidated Criminal Case Nos. 3608-1164, 3537-1129, 3674-1187, and 3611- since June 12, 2003 by the PNP-IG led by Police Chief
1165, finding 17 of the accused, who were tried, guilty of the crime/s charged. Superintendent Ismael Rafanan and assisted by PNP Intelligence Chief, General
Robert Delfin. He alleged that he was never informed of the charges filed against him
On February 11, 2005, the RTC issued an Order denying Kuntings Motion to Set until he requested his family to research in Zamboanga City. It was discovered in the RTC
Case for Preliminary Investigation since the PNP-IG has not turned over Kunting. The of Isabela City, Basilan that his name appeared in the list of accused who allegedly
trial court reiterated its Order dated September 15, 2003, directing the Police participated in the kidnapping incident which occurred on June 2,
Superintendent and Chief, Legal Affairs Division, PNP-IG, to turn over Kunting to the 2001 in Lamitan, Basilan.
court.
In a letter dated February 22, 2005, Police Chief Kunting asserted that he never participated in the kidnapping incident, so he
Superintendent Ismael R. Rafanan reiterated the request to Chief State promptly filed an Urgent Motion for Reinvestigation on
Prosecutor Jovencito R. Zuo to facilitate the transfer of the venue of the trial
of Kuntings case, citing the same grounds in the previous letter. He added that September 8, 2003. He was aware that the PNP-IG requested Chief State
if Kunting had been transferred to Isabela City, Basilan, he could have been one of the Prosecutor Jovencito R. Zuo for representation to file a motion with this Court for the
escapees in a jail break that occurred on April 10, 2004 as suspected ASG members were transfer of venue of his case from Isabela City, Basilan to Pasig City. Having no further
able to go scot-free. information on the status of his case, he filed a Motion to Set Case for Preliminary
Investigation on January 26, 2005. He stated that since no action was taken by the trial
court or the DOJ, he filed this petition to put an end to his illegal detention classified in Judge Danilo M. Bucoy, RTC, Branch 2, Isabela City, Basilan. His temporary detention at
the records as for safekeeping purposes only. PNP-IG, Camp Crame, Quezon City, was thus authorized by the trial court.

The main issue is whether the petition for habeas corpus can prosper. Moreover, Kunting was charged with four counts of Kidnapping for Ransom and
Serious Illegal Detention in Criminal Case Nos. 3608-1164, 3537-1129, 3674-1187, and
Under Section 1, Rule 102 of the Rules of Court, the writ of habeas 3611-1165. In accordance with the last sentence of Section 4 above, the writ cannot be
corpus extends to all case of illegal confinement or detention by which any person is issued and Kunting cannot be discharged since he has been charged with a criminal
deprived of his liberty, or by which the rightful custody of any person is withheld from offense. Bernarte v. Court of Appeals[7] holds that once the person detained is duly
the person entitled thereto. The remedy of habeas corpus has one objective: to inquire charged in court, he may no longer question his detention by a petition for the issuance
[3]
into the cause of detention of a person, and if found illegal, the court orders the of a writ of habeas corpus.
release of the detainee.[4] If, however, the detention is proven lawful, then the habeas
corpus proceedings terminate.[5] Nevertheless, this Court notes that the RTC in its Order dated February 11, 2005
reiterated its Order dated September 15, 2003, directing the Police Superintendent and
Section 4, Rule 102 of the Rules of Court provides when the writ is not allowed: Chief, Legal Affairs Division, PNP-IG, Camp Crame, Quezon City, to turn over Kunting to
the court. TThe trial court has been waiting for two years for the PNP-IG to turn over the
SEC. 4. When writ not allowed or discharge authorized.If it person of Kunting for the trial of his case. The PNP-IG has delayed the turn over because
appears that the person alleged to be restrained of his liberty is in the
custody of an officer under process issued by a court or judge or by it is waiting for the DOJ to request for the transfer of venue of the trial of the case
virtue of a judgment or order of a court of record, and that the court or from Isabela City, Basilan to Pasig City. In the absence of evidence that the DOJ has
judge had jurisdiction to issue the process, render the judgment, or indeed filed a motion for the transfer of venue, In its Comment, the Office of the
make the order, the writ shall not be allowed; or if the jurisdiction
appears after the writ is allowed, the person shall not be discharged by Solicitor General stated that the PNP-IG is presently awaiting the resolution of the
reason of any informality or defect in the process, judgment, or Motion for Transfer of Venue it requested from the DOJ. In this regard, t the Police Chief
order. Nor shall anything in this rule be held to authorize the discharge Superintendent is, therefore, directed to take positive steps towards action on said
of a person charged with or convicted of an offense in the Philippines,
or of a person suffering imprisonment under lawful judgment.[6] motion.comply with the Order of the trial court, dated February 11, 2005, to turn over
the body of petitioner Kunting to the trial court..

In this case, Kuntings detention by the PNP-IG was under process issued by the WHEREFORE, the instant petition for habeas corpus is hereby DISMISSED.
RTC. He was arrested by the PNP by virtue of the alias order of arrest issued by

No costs.
(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ RENATO C. CORONA
Manila Associate Justice Associate Justice

EN BANC (Sgd.) (Sgd.)

A. M. No. 08-1-16-SC January 22, 2008 CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES ADOLFO S. AZCUNA
Associate Justice Associate Justice
THE RULE ON THE WRIT OF HABEAS DATA
(Sgd.) (ON OFFICIAL LEAVE)
RESOLUTION
DANTE O. TINGA MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Acting on the recommendation of the Chairperson of the Committee on Revision of the Associate Justice Associate Justice
Rules of Court submitting for this Court’s consideration and approval the proposed Rule
on the Writ of Habeas Data, the Court Resolved to APPROVE the same. (Sgd.) (Sgd.)

This Resolution shall take effect on February 2, 2008, following its publication in three PRESBITERO J. VELASCO JR. ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
(3) newspapers of general circulation. Associate Justice Associate Justice

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
January 22, 2008.
RUBEN T. REYES TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
(Sgd.) Associate Justice Associate Justice

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice Associate Justice

(Sgd.) (Sgd.)

ANGELINA SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ ANTONIO T. CARPIO


Associate Justice Associate Justice THE RULE ON THE WRIT OF HABEAS DATA
SECTION 1. Habeas Data. - The writ of habeas data is a remedy available to any person The writ of habeas data shall be enforceable anywhere in the Philippines.
whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful
act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity Sec. 5. Docket Fees. - No docket and other lawful fees shall be required from an indigent
engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information regarding the petitioner. The petition of the indigent shall be docked and acted upon immediately,
person, family, home and correspondence of the aggrieved party. without prejudice to subsequent submission of proof of indigency not later than fifteen
(15) days from the filing of the petition.
SEC. 2. Who May File. - Any aggrieved party may file a petition for the writ of habeas
data. However, in cases of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances, the petition SEC. 6. Petition. - A verified written petition for a writ of habeas data should contain:
may be filed by:
(a) The personal circumstances of the petitioner and the respondent;
(a) Any member of the immediate family of the aggrieved party, namely: the
spouse, children and parents; or (b) The manner the right to privacy is violated or threatened and how it affects
the right to life, liberty or security of the aggrieved party;
(b) Any ascendant, descendant or collateral relative of the aggrieved party
within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, in default of those (c) The actions and recourses taken by the petitioner to secure the data or
mentioned in the preceding paragraph; or information;

SEC. 3. Where to File. - The petition may be filed with the Regional Trial Court where the (d) The location of the files, registers or databases, the government office, and
petitioner or respondent resides, or that which has jurisdiction over the place where the the person in charge, in possession or in control of the data or information, if
data or information is gathered, collected or stored, at the option of the petitioner. known;

The petition may also be filed with the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals or the (e) The reliefs prayed for, which may include the updating, rectification,
Sandiganbayan when the action concerns public data files of government offices. suppression or destruction of the database or information or files kept by the
respondent.
SEC. 4. Where Returnable; Enforceable. - When the writ is issued by a Regional Trial
Court or any judge thereof, it shall be returnable before such court or judge. In case of threats, the relief may include a prayer for an order enjoining the
act complained of; and
When issued by the Court of Appeals or the Sandiganbayan or any of its justices, it may
be returnable before such court or any justice thereof, or to any Regional Trial Court of (f) Such other relevant reliefs as are just and equitable.
the place where the petitioner or respondent resides, or that which has jurisdiction over
the place where the data or information is gathered, collected or stored. SEC. 7. Issuance of the Writ. - Upon the filing of the petition, the court, justice or judge
shall immediately order the issuance of the writ if on its face it ought to issue. The clerk
When issued by the Supreme Court or any of its justices, it may be returnable before of court shall issue the writ under the seal of the court and cause it to be served within
such Court or any justice thereof, or before the Court of Appeals or the Sandiganbayan three (3) days from the issuance; or, in case of urgent necessity, the justice or judge may
or any of its justices, or to any Regional Trial Court of the place where the petitioner or issue the writ under his or her own hand, and may deputize any officer or person serve
respondent resides, or that which has jurisdiction over the place where the data or it.
information is gathered, collected or stored.
The writ shall also set the date and time for summary hearing of the petition which shall SEC. 11. Contempt. - The court, justice or judge may punish with imprisonment or fine a
not be later than ten (10) work days from the date of its issuance. respondent who commits contempt by making a false return, or refusing to make a
return; or any person who otherwise disobeys or resist a lawful process or order of the
SEC. 8. Penalty for Refusing to Issue or Serve the Writ. - A clerk of court who refuses to court.
issue the writ after its allowance, or a deputized person who refuses to serve the same,
shall be punished by the court, justice or judge for contempt without prejudice to other SEC. 12. When Defenses May be Heard in Chambers. - A hearing in chambers may be
disciplinary actions. conducted where the respondent invokes the defense that the release of the data or
information in question shall compromise national security or state secrets, or when the
SEC. 9. How the Writ is Served. - The writ shall be served upon the respondent by a data or information cannot be divulged to the public due to its nature or privileged
judicial officer or by a person deputized by the court, justice or judge who shall retain a character.
copy on which to make a return of service. In case the writ cannot be served personally
on the respondent, the rules on substituted service shall apply. Sec. 13. Prohibited Pleadings and Motions. - The following pleadings and motions are
prohibited:
SEC. 10. Return; Contents. - The respondent shall file a verified written return together
with supporting affidavits within five (5) working days from service of the writ, which (a) Motion to dismiss;
period may be reasonably extended by the Court for justifiable reasons. The return
shall, among other things, contain the following: (b) Motion for extension of time to file return, opposition, affidavit, position
paper and other pleadings;
(a) The lawful defenses such as national security, state secrets, privileged
communications, confidentiality of the source of information of media and (c) Dilatory motion for postponement;
others;
(d) Motion for a bill of particulars;
(b) In case of respondent in charge, in possession or in control of the data or
information subject of the petition; (e) Counterclaim or cross-claim;

(i) a disclosure of the data or information about the petitioner, the (f) Third-party complaint;
nature of such data or information, and the purpose for its collection;
(g) Reply;
(ii) the steps or actions taken by the respondent to ensure the security
and confidentiality of the data or information; and, (h) Motion to declare respondent in default;

(iii) the currency and accuracy of the data or information held; and, (i) Intervention;

(c) Other allegations relevant to the resolution of the proceeding. (j) Memorandum;

A general denial of the allegations in the petition shall not be allowed.


(k) Motion for reconsideration of interlocutory orders or interim relief orders; SEC. 19. Appeal. - Any party may appeal from the final judgment or order to the
and Supreme Court under Rule 45. The appeal may raise questions of fact or law or both.

(l) Petition for certiorari, mandamus or prohibition against any interlocutory The period of appeal shall be five (5) working days from the date of notice of the
order. judgment or final order.

SEC. 14. Return; Filing. - In case the respondent fails to file a return, the court, justice or The appeal shall be given the same priority as in habeas corpus and amparo cases.
judge shall proceed to hear the petition ex parte, granting the petitioner such relief as
the petition may warrant unless the court in its discretion requires the petitioner to SEC. 20. Institution of Separate Actions. - The filing of a petition for the writ of habeas
submit evidence. data shall not preclude the filing of separate criminal, civil or administrative actions.

SEC. 15. Summary Hearing. - The hearing on the petition shall be summary. However, SEC. 21. Consolidation. - When a criminal action is filed subsequent to the filing of a
the court, justice or judge may call for a preliminary conference to simplify the issues petition for the writ, the latter shall be consolidated with the criminal action.
and determine the possibility of obtaining stipulations and admissions from the parties.
When a criminal action and a separate civil action are filed subsequent to a petition for
SEC. 16. Judgment. - The court shall render judgment within ten (10) days from the time a writ of habeas data, the petition shall be consolidated with the criminal action.
the petition is submitted for decision. If the allegations in the petition are proven by
substantial evidence, the court shall enjoin the act complained of, or order the deletion, After consolidation, the procedure under this Rule shall continue to govern the
destruction, or rectification of the erroneous data or information and grant other disposition of the reliefs in the petition.
relevant reliefs as may be just and equitable; otherwise, the privilege of the writ shall be
denied. SEC. 22. Effect of Filing of a Criminal Action. - When a criminal action has been
commenced, no separate petition for the writ shall be filed. The relief under the writ
Upon its finality, the judgment shall be enforced by the sheriff or any lawful officers as shall be available to an aggrieved party by motion in the criminal case.
may be designated by the court, justice or judge within five (5) working days.
The procedure under this Rule shall govern the disposition of the reliefs available under
SEC. 17. Return of Service. - The officer who executed the final judgment shall, within the writ of habeas data.
three (3) days from its enforcement, make a verified return to the court. The return shall
contain a full statement of the proceedings under the writ and a complete inventory of SEC. 23. Substantive Rights. - This Rule shall not diminish, increase or modify
the database or information, or documents and articles inspected, updated, rectified, or substantive rights.
deleted, with copies served on the petitioner and the respondent.
SEC. 24. Suppletory Application of the Rules of Court. - The Rules of Court shall apply
The officer shall state in the return how the judgment was enforced and complied with suppletorily insofar as it is not inconsistent with this Rule.
by the respondent, as well as all objections of the parties regarding the manner and
regularity of the service of the writ. SEC. 25. Effectivity. - This Rule shall take effect on February 2, 2008, following its
publication in three (3) newspapers of general circulation.
SEC. 18. Hearing on Officer’s Return. - The court shall set the return for hearing with
due notice to the parties and act accordingly.