Remedial Law

Melysinda Reyes vs Maria Salome Elquiero

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G.R. No. 210487 – Remedial Law – Special Proceedings – Rule 102; Petition for Habeas Corpus – Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under Sec. 20, A.M. No. 03-04-04-SC is a special custody case

Rex Elquiero adopted minor Irish. Thereafter, Irish lived with Rex and Melysinda (girlfriend of Rex). In 2009, Rex died. Thereafter, Maria Salome Elquiero, the mother of Rex, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus with the Court of Appeals against Melysinda on the ground that Melysinda hid Irish away from her. Salome prayed that Melysinda be directed to bring Irish in court.

The CA issued the writ and made it returnable to the San Pablo Laguna RTC. Thereafter, Melysinda opposed the petition on the grounds that (1) Salome has no personality and (2) Salome is guilty of forum shopping because she filed an earlier petition for guardianship over Irish.

San Pablo RTC directed the parties to file their pre-trial briefs. Salome filed a motion questioning the order as she argued that habeas corpus cases are summary in nature. Her motion was denied. She appealed the denial to the CA.

Meanwhile, pending her appeal, Salome filed a custody case over Irish before the Muntinlupa RTC. Melysinda informed the CA about the new case filed by Salome.


1. What is the nature of a petition for writ of habeas corpus under Section 20 of A.M. No. 03-04-04-SC?
2. Whether or not it was proper for the San Pablo RTC to issue an order directing the parties to submit pre-trial briefs.
3. Whether or not Salome was guilty of forum shopping.


1. A petition for writ of habeas corpus, when sought in relation to the custody of a minor, is nothing but a special form of a petition for custody, which is availed of in special circumstances where it appears that a minor is being kept from a parent desirous of providing the necessary atmosphere conducive to the physical, moral and intellectual development of the minor by the other parent, or in similar situations involving either parents, ascendants, elder siblings or other parties, and time is of the essence.

2. Yes. A habeas corpus proceeding under Sec. 20, A.M. No. 03-04-04-SC essentially functions as a custody proceeding in its own right. For this reason the last paragraph specifically provides that in habeas corpus custody proceedings initiated before the CA, the return may be made “to a Family Court or to any regular court within the region where the petitioner resides or where the minor may be found for hearing and decision on the merits”; and that “upon return of the writ, the court shall decide the issue on custody of minors. The appellate court, or the member thereof, issuing the writ shall be furnished a copy of the decision.”

Crucially, as the petition is being filed under the Rule on Custody of Minors as a special form of habeas corpus, the other provisions of that rule are applicable to the proceeding. Section 9 of the rule clearly states:

SECTION 9. Notice of mandatory pre-trial. – Within fifteen days after the filing of the answer or the expiration of the period to file answer, the court shall issue an order: (1) fixing a date for the pre-trial conference; (2) directing the parties to file and serve their respective pre-trial briefs in such manner as shall ensure receipt thereof by the adverse party at least three days before the date of pre-trial; and (3) requiring the respondent to present the minor before the court.

The notice of its order shall be served separately on both the parties and their respective counsels.

The pre-trial is mandatory.

3. Yes. All her petitions sought the same purpose, involve the same parties, and seek the same remedies. Salome’s petition for habeas corpus is dismissed.

SIDE ISSUE: Does Salome have custodial rights over Irish?

No. The legal relation created when Rex adopted Irish does not extend to Salome. Relationship by adoption is limited to adopter and adopted, and does not extend to other members of the family of either. Salome cannot claim custody of Irish because the law only recognizes a familial relation insofar as Rex and Irish are concerned. The relation does not extend to any of Rex’s relatives.

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