G.R. No. 2340. December 21, 1905

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5 Phil. 451

[ G.R. No. 2340. December 21, 1905 ]




This is an appeal from an order of the Court of First Instance of Manila in habeas corpus proceedings, discharging the petitioner from detention at the hands of respondents.

Petitioner was arrested and detained in Manila in pursuance of an
order of arrest which on its face appears to have been issued by the
justice of the peace of Cebu and directed to the sheriff of the city of

It is alleged that said order is illegal on its face in that the
said justice of the peace had no jurisdiction to issue an order
directing the making of an arrest outside the Province of Cebu, and it
is contended that all the proceedings had upon said order, including
the arrest and detention of petitioner, were illegal and void.

Many authorities are quoted from the American jurisprudence in
support of this contention, but we think that, whatever may be the rule
in the United States, the justices of the peace in these Islands are
vested with authority under the provisions of existing law to cause the
arrest of accused persons wherever found throughout the Archpelago.

Section 66 of Act No. 136 provides that—

“1. The existing courts of justices of the peace,
established by military orders since the thirteenth day of August,
eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, are hereby recognized and continued
and the justices of such courts shall continue to hold office during
the pleasure of the Commission.

“2. In every province in
which there now is, or shall hereafter be, established a Court of First
Instance, courts of justices of the peace shall be established in every
municipality thereof which shall be organized under the Municipal Code,
or which has been organized and is being conducted as a municipality
when this Act shall take effect, under and by virtue of the Municipal

Hence, to determine the jurisdiction of the justices of the peace in
the Philippine Islands to issue warrants for the arrest of accused
persons, we must examine the authority conferred upon courts of
justices of the peace established under military orders since the 13th
day of August, 1898.

Section 1 of General Orders, No. 58, dated Manila, P. I.,
April 23, 1900, provides that—

“The following provisions shall have the force and
effect of law in criminal matters in the Philippine Islands from and
after the fifteenth day of May, nineteen hundred, but existing laws on
the same subjects shall remain valid except in so far as hereinafter
modified or repealed expressly or by necessary implication.”

Section 13 of said order provides that—

“When a complaint or information alleging the
commission of a crime is laid before a magistrate, he must examine, on
oath, the informant or prosecutor and the witnesses produced, and take
their depositions in writing, causing them to be subscribed by the
parties making them. If the magistrate be satisfied from the
investigation that the crime complained of has been committed, and that
there is reasonable ground to believe that the party charged has
committed it, he must issue an order for his arrest. If the offense be
bailable, and the defendant offer a sufficient security, he shall be
admitted to bail; otherwise he shall be committed to prison.”

The latter section (undertaking, as it does, to dispose of the whole
subject-matter of the procedure whereby magistrates, whether they be
justices of the peace, judges of the Courts of First Instance, or
justices of the Supreme Court, may cause the arrest or detention of
accused persons), modifies and repeals so much of the Spanish law as is
at variance therewith. The procedure whereby magistrates caused the
arrest of persons charged with crime under the provisions of the
Spanish law, was first, by the issuance of a proper warrant or order of
arrest, if the accused person was found within their respective
territorial jurisdictions, and, second, by,the issuance of a letter “praying,” “requesting,” or “directing
the arrest of the accused person, addressed to the proper judicial
officer within whose territorial jurisdiction the accused person was
alleged to be, if he was found to be beyond the territorial
jurisdiction of the magistrate causing the arrest. The first method, of
course, remains unchanged, but the second was by necessary implication
repealed, because the above quoted section 13 of General Orders, No.
58, provided that in all cases the magistrate shall issue an order of arrest.

It will be observed that the communications employed in the second
method of causing arrest were to all intents and purposes warrants or
orders of arrest for accused persons, because when issued in proper
form as provided in such cases, the judicial officer to whom they were
directed had no discretion whatever as to compliance therewith, but was
required by law to execute them by issuing in his turn the proper
warrants or orders of arrest for the person or persons mentioned
therein. The only difference was in form of procedure, the magistrate
causing the arrest addressing himself directly to the law officers
charged with making arrests when such arrest was to be made within his
own territorial jurisdiction, and when such arrests were to be made
beyond his territorial jurisdiction addressing himself to such officer
through the proper judicial officer of the district wherein the accused
was alleged to be. (Compilation of Code of Criminal Procedure of 1879,
Chap. IV, Title II.)

But while section 13 of General Orders, No. 58, modified and changed
the procedure whereby magistrates may cause the arrest of accused
persons; it in no wise affected their jurisdiction or authority so to
do, and our attention has not been directed to any provision of law
which limits or restricts the jurisdiction or authority of the justices
of the peace to cause arrest of accused persons in these Islands within
narrower territorial limits than those existing under Spanish law prior
to American occupation, Under the provisions of Spanish law the
justices of the peace had precisely the same authority to cause the
arrest of an accused person beyond the territorial limits of their
respective districts as in the case of persons found within such
limits, the only difference being found in the procedure by which the
arrest was made, and it is worthy of note that precisely the same rule
applied to judges of the Courts of First Instance, who were likewise
vested with authority to cause the arrest of accused persons anywhere
throughout the Islands, but were required to conform to the procedure
by “letter” directed to the proper judicial officer when they
caused the arrest of persons beyond the territorial limits of their
respective districts.

Counsel for the petitioner lays great stress on the provisions of
section 1 of Act No. 590, wherein it is expressly provided that the
processes of the courts of the justices of the peace of the various
provincial capitals “either for the arrest of the accused persons
or for the summoning of witnesses, shall run and have effect throughout
the province,”
and urges that the fact that the Civil Commission
deemed it necessary to make an express grant of such authority implies
that its members were of opinion that prior to the publication of that
law the processes of the justices of the peace did not run throughout
the province, much less the entire Archipelago. It is sufficient answer
to this contention to point out that Act No. 590 confers in certain
specified cases a new provincial jurisdiction, coextensive with their
respective provinces, on the justices of the peace of the provincial
capitals, and the lawmaker may have deemed it necessary to declare in
express terms the authority of the justice of the peace to issue
process in such cases; furthermore, the opinion of the law-making
authority as to the meaning and effect of existing law in no wise
determines what the law actually is, and however much it may be
entitled to respectful consideration, it will not be pretended that it
is conclusive on the court whose duty it is to interpret and declare
the law as they find it.

Section 9 of Act No. 175 provides that—

“The Insular Constabulary are hereby declared to be
peace officers and are empowered and required to execute any lawful
warrant or order of arrest issued against any person or persons for any
violation of the law by any judge of the First Instance or justice of
the peace or any other officer authorized by law to issue a warrant.”

The respondents are officers of the Insular Constabulary; they
arrested and held the petitioner by virtue of a lawful warrant or order
of arrest issued by the justice of the peace of Cebu, and we are of
opinion that the detention of the petitioner was lawful, and that he is
not entitled to his discharge in habeas corpus proceedings.

The order of the lower court discharging the petitioner is annulled,
and he will be remanded to the custody of respondents. The costs of
both instances are declared de oficio, and after twenty days
judgment will be entered in accordance herewith, and the record
remanded to the court wherein these proceedings originated for proper
procedure. So ordered.

Arellano, C. J., Torres, Mapa, and Johnson, JJ., concur.

Date created: April 28, 2014


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