Remedial Law

In the matter of the Petition for Habeas Corpus of Laurente Ilagan et al. vs Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile

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G.R. No. 70748 – 223 Phil. 561 – 139 SCRA 349 – Remedial Law – Special Proceedings – Petition for Habeas Corpus – When not available; Moot and academic; Detention is upon a lawful order

On different dates in May 1985, Atty. Laurente Ilagan, Atty. Antonio Arellano, and Atty. Marcos Risonar, Jr. were arrested upon the order of then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile. The lawyers were alleged be involved in subversive activities.

After their arrest, the lawyers, assisted by the IBP and the FLAG, filed a petition for habeas corpus with the Supreme Court. The writ was issued on 16 May 1985 and a hearing was set on 23 May 1985.

During the hearing, the State was not able to prove the lawyers’ alleged link to the communist party hence the SC ordered the temporary release of the lawyers on the recognizance of their counsel.

However, Enrile et al. refused to release the three lawyers. The three lawyers then informed the SC about their non-release. On 27 May 1985, Enrile filed a motion for reconsideration and he insisted that they are under the order of the President who issued a preventive detention action in January 1985 and that the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended as against persons suspected of rebellion under Proclamation No. 2045-A which was still subsisting. Enrile also invoked the ruling in Garcia-Padilla vs. Enrile.

On 28 May 1985, Enrile informed the SC that an information for rebellion has been filed against the three lawyers and that a warrant of arrest has already been issued against them. As such, the issue of their detention was already moot and academic and that they are already being held upon the lawful order of a court of law.

ISSUE: Whether or not Enrile is correct.

HELD: Yes.

The function of the special proceeding of habeas corpus is to inquire into the legality of one’s detention. Now that the detained attorneys’ incarceration is by virtue of a judicial order in relation to criminal cases subsequently filed against them before the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, the remedy of habeas corpus no longer lies.

But it appears that the rebellion case was rushed so much so that Atty. Ilagan et al. were not afforded preliminary investigation?

The remedy is not a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus but a Motion before the trial court to quash the Warrant of Arrest, and /or the Information on grounds provided by the Rules or to ask for an investigation / reinvestigation of the case. Habeas corpus would not lie after the Warrant of commitment was issued by the Court on the basis of the Information filed against the accused.

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