Eduardo Gomez vs. Director of Prisons | G.R. No. L-879, October 2, 1946

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Republic of the Philippines


G.R. No. L-879 | October 2, 1946

EDUARDO GOMEZ, petitioner,

Eduardo Gomez for petitioner.
First Assistant Solicitor General Reyes and Solicitor Umali for respondent.


This is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus with the Director of Prisons as respondent. The petitioner is Eduardo Gomez, who has filed the petition in behalf of Eliseo Gomez, who has filed the petition in behalf of Eliseo Gomez, at present confined in the new Bilibid Prison, in the municipality of Muntinglupa, Province of Rizal, as a detention prisoner.

The petition and the return of the writ disclose that Eliseo Gomez was committed to the new Bilibid Prison on May 27, 1944, by the Court of First Instance of Manila, by virtue of a judgment of conviction for rape, sentencing him to suffer an indeterminate penalty of from six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor to fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months of reclusion temporal, to pay the offended party P500 as indemnity, and to pay the costs. The commitment, addressed to the Director of Prisons, was signed by Judge Buenaventura Ocampo, of the Court of First Instance of Manila. Certified copy thereof is attached to as part of the return.

The prisoner appealed to the Court of Appeals in due time but before the case was disposed of, the record was completely destroyed or lost.

Section 4, Rule 102, of the Rules of Court provides that “If it appears that the person alleged to be restrained of his liberty is in the custody of an officer under process issued by a court of record, and that the court or judge had jurisdiction to issue the process, render the judgment or make the order, the writ shall not be allowed; . . . Nor shall anything in this rule be held to authorize the discharge . . . of a person suffering imprisonment under lawful judgment.”

The petition does not make out of case. The Director of Prisons is holding the prisoner under process issued by a competent court in pursuance of a lawful, subsisting judgment. The prisoner himself admits the legality of his detention. The mere loss or destruction of the record of the case does not invalidate the judgment or the commitment, or authorize the prisoner’s release.

The prisoner’s remedy, for the time being at least, lies in having the record of his case reconstituted. Steps in this direction have already been started; the record is in process of reconstitution before a commissioner. If the proceeding has been suspended, it was on motion of the prisoners’s attorney for the extension of time.

The delay which the prisoner’s case suffers has been due to circumstances beyond the control of the officials in charge of the prosecution. This delay we have to consider as reasonable and is not a good ground for the granting of the petition.

We agree with the Solicitor General that at best the petition is premature. The petitioner should have waited for the result of the efforts being exerted to reconstitute the record. Should reconstitution or new trial turn out to be impracticable, then that will be the time when appropriate action may taken to do justice within the law to the prisoner.

The petition is denied without costs.

Moran, C.J., Paras, Feria, Pablo, Bengzon, Briones and Padilla, JJ., concur.


HILADO, J., dissenting:

I dissent on the ground that, in my opinion, the judgment of conviction rendered in 1944 by the Japanese-sponsored Court of First Instance of Manila against petitioner is null and void. My reasons are (1) those set forth in my dissent, both from the main decision and from the resolution on the motion for reconsideration, in Co Kim Cham vs. Valdez Tan Keh and Dizon (75 Phil., 113, 271); (2) those set forth in my concurring opinion in Peralta vs. Director of Prisons (75 Phil., 285); (3) those set forth in my concurring opinion in People vs. Jose (75 Phil., 612); (4) those set forth in my dissenting Alcantara vs. Director of Prisons (75 Phil., 494); (5) those set forth in my concurring opinion in De Castro vs. Court of Appeals (75 Phil., 824);and (6) the doctrine in Jones vs. United States (137 U.S. 202; 34 Law. ed., 691, 696); and in the cases therein cited, that:

Who is the sovereign, de jure or de facto, of a territory is not a judicial, but a political, question, the determination of which by the legislative and executive departments of the government conclusively binds the judges, as well as all other officers, citizens and subjects, of the government. This principle has always been upheld by this court, and has been affirmed under a great variety of circumstances. ( Gelston vs. Hoyt, 16 U. S., 3 Wheat., 246, 324 [4:381; United States vs. Palmer, Id., 610 [471]; The Divina Pastora, 17 U. S., 4 Wheat 52 [4:512]; Foster vs. Neilson, 27 U. S., 2 Pet., 253, 307, 309 [7:415, 433, 434]; Keene vs. M’Donough, 33 U. S., 8 Pet 308 [8:955]; Garcia vs. Lee, 37 U. S., 12 Pet., 511, 520 [9:1176]; Williams vs. Suffolk Ins. Co., 38 U. S., 13 Pet., 415 [10:226]; United States vs. Yorba, 68U. S., 1 Wall., 412, 423 [17:635;637]; United States vs. Lynde, 78 U. S., 11 Wall., 632, 638 [20:230, 232]. It is equally well settled in England. The Pelican, Edw. Adm. Appx. D; Taylor vs. Barclay, 2 Sim., 213; Emperor of Austria vs. Day, 3 Deg. F. & J., 217, 221, 233; Republic of Peru vs. Peruvian Guano Co., L. R., 36 Ch. Div., 489, 497; Republic of Peru vs. Dreyfus, L. R., 38 Ch. Div., 348, 356, 359.) (137 U. S., 213; 34 Law. ed., 696.)

Finally, this dissent is also based on the considerations stated in my dissenting opinion in Ibañez vs. Hernandez (p. 775, post).