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G.R. No. 242957 – Remedial Law – Special Proceedings – Special Writs – Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus – When not proper; Not proper to question administrative warrants
Political Law – Constitutional Law – Bill of Rights – Right to Liberty – Writ of Habeas Corpus – Administrative Warrants are Constitutional – Administrative Warrant Guidelines
The Chinese Embassy sought the assistance of the Philippine Government for the deportation of Yuan Wenle, a Chinese national staying in the Philippines. Shortly thereafter, Yuan Wenle was classified as an undocumented alien who poses risks to the public. In July 2018, a Summary Deportation Order (SDO) was issued against Yuan Wenle by the Board of Commissioners of the Bureau of Immigration. Yuan Wenle, by virtue of the SDO, was arrested in August 2018. In September 2018, Yuan Wenle filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus with the Regional Trial Court of Manila questioning the validity of his arrest. He argued that he was arrested without due process as the SDO was issued without him being given the opportunity to be heard. The RTC of Manila granted the petition. The Office of the Solicitor General, via Rule 45, questioned before the Supreme Court the propriety of the grant.
1. Whether or not administrative warrants, like SDOs, are valid.
2. Whether or not a petition for habeas corpus is the proper remedy to question administrative warrants.
1. Yes. Administrative warrants are valid. The SC recognizes that administrative warrants or writs directing or authorizing someone to do an act as they pertain to administrative enforcement are necessary and cannot be entirely disregarded due to administrative agencies’ ability to address some specialized, exigent public need, just as the existence of quasi-judicial bodies is imperative in addressing disputes involving technical matters which justifies the exercise of adjudicative powers by agencies under the Executive branch.
However, the Supreme Court has laid down a set of conditions which must be present and strictly complied with in order to justify the validity of administrative warrants and in order to prevent abuses:
Administrative Warrant Guidelines / Yuan Wenle Guidelines
a. The danger, harm, or evil sought to be prevented by the warrant must be imminent and must be greater than the damage or injury which will be sustained by the one who shall be temporarily deprived of a right to liberty or property;
b. The warrant’s resultant deprivation of a right or legitimate claim of entitlement must be temporary or provisional, aimed only at suppressing imminent danger, harm or evil, with such deprivation’s permanency strictly subjected to procedural due process requirements;
c. The issuing administrative authority must be empowered by law to perform specific implementing acts pursuant to regulatory purposes;
d. The issuing administrative authority must be necessarily authorized by law to pass upon and make final pronouncements on conflicting rights and obligations of contending parties, as well as to issue warrants or orders that are incidental to the performance of the executive or administrative duty entrusted to it;
e. The issuance of an administrative warrant must be based on tangible proof or probable cause and must state a specific purpose or infraction allegedly committed, with particular descriptions of the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized;
f. The warrant issued must not pertain to a criminal offense or pursued as a precursor for the filing of criminal charges and any object seized pursuant to such writ shall not be admissible in evidence in any criminal proceeding;
g. The person temporarily deprived of a right or entitlement by an administrative warrant shall be formally charged within a reasonable time, if no such period is provided, and shall not be denied access to a competent counsel of his or her choice. In cases where a person is deprived of liberty by virtue of an administrative warrant, the administrative body which issued said warrant shall immediately submit a verified notice to the RTC nearest to the detained for purposes of issuing a judicial commitment order; and
h. A violation of any item of these guidelines is a prima facie proof of usurpation of judicial functions, malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance, or graft and corrupt practices on the part of responsible officers.
2. No. A petition for habeas corpus cannot be resorted to question an administrative warrant. To allow an individual to avail of habeas corpus to question administrative warrants is to disregard the doctrines of exhaustion of administrative remedies and of primary jurisdiction for the sake of convenience. In this case, allowing Yuan Wenle to directly resort to a habeas corpus proceeding before the regular courts will be to allow a preemption of the Bureau’s statutory duty to determine for itself the issues of legality in all deportation cases specifically and supposedly under its jurisdiction.