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EDDIE GUAZON VS. MAJ. GEN.

RENATO DE VILLA
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
This is a petition for prohibition with preliminary injunction to prohibit the military and police officers represented
by public respondents from conducting "Areal Target Zonings" or "Saturation Drives" in Metro Manila.
The forty One (41) petitioners state that they are all of legal age, bonafide residents of Metro Manila and taxpayers
and leaders in their respective communities. They maintain that they have a common or general interest in the
preservation of the rule of law, protection of their human rights and the reign of peace and order in their
communities. They claim to represent "the citizens of Metro Manila who have similar interests and are so numerous
that it is impracticable to bring them all before this Court."
The public respondents, represented by the Solicitor General, oppose the petition contending inter alia that
petitioners lack standing to file the instant petition for they are not the proper parties to institute the action.
According to the petitioners, .the following "saturation drives" were conducted in Metro Manila:
1. March 5, 1987 at about 9:30 PM in Tindalo, Kagitingan, and Magdalena Streets, Tondo, Manila.
2. June 19, 1987 at about 10:00 PM in Mata Street, Pinday Pira Extension and San Sebastian Street, Tondo, Manila.
3. July 20, 1987 at about 8:00 AM in Bangkusay Street, Tondo, Manila.
4. August 11 to 13, 1987 between 11:00 PM and 2:00 AM in six blocks along Aroma Beach up to Happy Land,
Magsaysay Village, Tondo, Manila.
5. August 19, 1987 at 9:00 PM in Herbosa Extension, Quirino Street, and Pacheco Street, Tondo, Manila.
6. August 28, 1987 at 10:30 PM, in Block 34, Dagat-dagatan, Navotas, Metro Manila.
7. August 30, 1987 at 9:30 PM at Paraiso Extension, Magsaysay Village, Tondo, Manila.
8. October 12, 1987 at 12:00 midnight in Apelo Cruz Compound, Quezon City.
9. October 17, 1987 at 11:00 PM in Quirino Street, Tondo, Manila.
10. October 23, 1987 at 2:30 A.M. in Sun Valley Drive, Manila International Airport, Pasay City.
11. November 1, 1987 at 4s00 A.M. in Cordillera Street, Sta. Mesa, Manila.

12. November 3, 1987 at 5:00 A.M. in Lower Maricaban, Pasay City, Metro Manila.
According to the petitioners, the "areal target zonings" or "saturation drives" are in critical areas pinpointed by the
military and police as places where the subversives are hiding. The arrests range from seven (7) persons during the
July 20 saturation drive in Bangkusay, Tondo to one thousand five hundred (1,500) allegedly apprehended on
November 3 during the drive at Lower Maricaban, Pasay City. The petitioners claim that the saturation drives follow
a common pattern of human rights abuses. In all these drives, it is alleged that the following were committed:
"1. Having no specific target house in mind, in the dead of the night or early morning hours, police and military
units without any search warrant or warrant of arrest cordon an area of more than one residence and sometimes
whole barangay or areas of barangay in Metro Manila. Most of them are in civilian clothes and without nameplates
or identification cards.
"2. These raiders rudely rouse residents from their sleep by banging on the walls and windows of their homes,
shouting, kicking their doors open (destroying some in the process), and then ordering the residents within to come
out of their respective residences.
"3. The residents at the point of high-powered guns are herded like cows, the men are ordered to strip down to their
briefs and examined for tattoo marks and other imagined marks.
"4. While the examination of the bodies of the men are being conducted by the raiders, some of the members of the
raiding team force their way into each and every house within the cordoned off area and then proceed to conduct
search of the said houses without civilian witnesses from the neighborhood.
"5. In many instances, many residents have complained that the raiders ransack their homes, tossing about the
residents' belongings without total regard for their value. In several instances, walls are destroyed, ceilings are
damaged in the raiders' illegal effort to 'fish' for incriminating evidence.
"6. Some victims of these illegal operations have complained with increasing frequency that their money and
valuables have disappeared after the said operations.
"7. All men and some women who respond to these illegal and unwelcome intrusions are arrested on the spot and
hauled off to waiting vehicles that take them to detention centers where, they are interrogated and 'verified.' These
arrests are all conducted without any warrants of arrest duly issued by a judge, nor under the conditions that will
authorize warrantless arrest. Some hooded men are used to fingerpoint suspected subversives.

"8. In some instances, arrested persons are released after the expiration of the period wherein they can be legally
detained without any charge at all. In other instances, some arrested persons are released without charge after a few
days of arbitrary detention.
"9. The raiders almost always brandish their weapons and point them at the residents during these illegal operations.
"10. Many have also reported incidents of 'on-the-spot beatings', maulings and maltreatment.
"11. Those who are detained for further 'verification' by the raiders are subjected to mental and physical torture to
extract confessions and tactical information." (Rollo, pp. 2-4)
The public respondents stress two points in their Comment which was also adopted as their Memorandum after. the
petition was given due course.
First, the respondents have legal authority to conduct saturation drives. And second, they allege that, the accusations
of the petitioners about a deliberate disregard for human rights are total lies.
Insofar as the legal basis for saturation drives is concerned, the respondents cite Article VII, Section 17 of the
Constitution which provides:
"The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus and offices. He shall ensure that the laws
be faithfully executed. (Emphasis supplied by the respondents.)
They also cite Section 18 of the same Article which provides:
"The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes
necessary, he may call, out such armed farces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion ' or rebellion. x x x."
There can be no question that under ordinary circumstances, the police action, of the nature described by the
petitioners would be illegal and blatantly violative of the express guarantees of the Bill of Rights. If the military and
the police must conduct concerted campaigns to flush out and catch criminal elements, such drives must be
consistent with the constitutional and statutory rights of all the people affected by such actions.
There is, of course, nothing in the Constitution which denies the authority of the Chief Executive, invoked by the
Solicitor General, to order police actions to stop unabated criminality, rising lawlessness, and alarming communist
activities. The Constitution grants to Government the power to seek and cripple subversive movements which would
bring down constituted authority and substitute a regime where individual liberties are suppressed as a matter of
policy in the name of security of the State. However, all police actions are governed by the limitations of the Bill of
Rights. The Government cannot adopt the same reprehensible methods of authoritarian systems both of the right and
of the left the enlargement of whose spheres of influence it is trying hard to suppress. Our democratic institutions

may still be fragile but they are not in the least bit strengthened through violations of the constitutional protections
which are their distinguishing features.
In Roan v. Gonzales (145 SCRA 687; 690-691 [1986]), the Court stated:
"One of the most precious rights of the citizen in a free society is the right to be left alone in the privacy of his own
house. That right has ancient roots, dating back through the mists of history to the mighty English kings in their
fortresses of power. Even then, the lowly subject had his own castle where he was monarch of all he surveyed. This
was hits humble cottage from which he could bar his sovereign lord and all the forces of the Crown.
"That right has endured through the ages albeit only in a few libertarian regimes. Their number, regrettably;
continues to dwindle against the onslaughts of authoritarianism. We are among the fortunate few, able again to enjoy
this right after the ordeal of the past despotism. We must cherish and protect it all the more now because it is like a
prodigal son returning.
"That right is guaranteed in the following provisions of Article IV of the 1973 Constitution:
"SEC. 3. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable
searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall not be violated, and no search warrant or warrant
of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined by the judge, or such other responsible officer as
may be authorized by law, after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may
produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
xxxxxxxxx
Only last year, the Court again issued this reminder in 20th Century Fox Film Corporation v. Court of Appeals (164
SCRA 655; 660-661 [1988]:
"This constitutional right protects a citizen against wanton and unreasonable invasion of his privacy and liberty as to
his person, papers and effects. We have explained in the case of People v. Burgos (144 SCRA 1) citingVillanueva v.
Querubin (48 SCRA 345) why the right is so important:
It is deference to one's personality that lies at the core of this right but it could be also looked upon as a
recognition of a constitutionally protected area, primarily one's home but not necessarily thereto confined.,
(Cf.Hoffa v. United States, 385 US 293 [1966]) What is sought to be guarded is a man's prerogative to choose who is
allowed entry to his residence. In that haven of refuge, his individuality can assert itself not only in the choice of
who shall be welcome but likewise in the kind of objects he wants around him. There the state, however powerful,
does not as such have access except under the circumstances above noted, for in the traditional formulation, his
house, however humble, is his castle. Thus is outlawed any unwarranted intrusion by government, which is called
upon to refrain from any invasion of his dwelling and to respect the privacies of his life. (Cf. Schmerber v.

California, 384 US 757 [1966], Brennan, J. and Boyd v. United States 116 630 [1886]). In the same vein, Landynski
in his authoritative work (Search and Seizure and the Supreme Court [1966)], could fitly characterize constitutional
right as the embodiment of a spiritual concept: the belief that to value the privacy of home and person and to afford
its constitutional protection against the long reach of government is no less than to value human dignity, and that his
privacy must not be disturbed except in case of overriding social need, and then only under stringent procedural
safeguards. (ibid, p. 74.)"
The decision of the United States Supreme Court in Rochin v. California, (342 US 165; 96 L. Ed. 183 [1952])
emphasizes clearly that police actions should not be characterized by methods that offend a sense of justice. The
court ruled:
''Applying these general considerations to the circumstances of the present case, we are compelled to conclude that
the proceedings by which this conviction was obtained do more than offend some fastidious squeamishness or
private sentimentalism about combatting crime too energetically. This is conduct that shocks the conscience.
Illegally breaking into the privacy of the petitioner, the struggle to open his mouth and remove what was there, the
forcible extraction of his stomach's contents--this course of proceeding by agents of government to obtain evidence
is bound to offend even hardened sensibilities. They are methods too close to the rack and the screw to permit of
constitutional differentiation."
It is significant that it is not the police action per se which is impermissible and which should be prohibited. Rather,
it is the procedure used or in the words of the court, methods which "offend even hardened sensibilities." In
Breithaupt v. Abram (352 US 432, 1 L. Ed. 2nd 448 [1957], the same court validated the use of evidence, in this case
blood samples involuntarily taken from the petitioner, where there was nothing brutal or offensive in the taking. The
Court stated:
"Basically the distinction rests on the fact that there is nothing 'brutal' or 'offensive' in the taking of a sample of
blood when done, as in this case, under the protective eye of a physician. To be sure, the driver here was
unconscious when the blood was taken, but the absence of conscious consent, without more, does not necessarily
render the taking a violation of a constitutional right; and certainly the test was administered here would not be
considered offensive by even the most delicate. Furthermore, due process is not measured by the yardstick of
personal reaction or the sphygmogram of the most sensitive person, but by that whole community sense of 'decency
and fairness that has been woven by common experience into the fabric of acceptable conduct. x x x."
The individual's right to immunity from such invasion of his body was considered as "far outweighed by the value of
its deterrent effect" on the evil sought to be avoided by the police action.
It is clear, therefore, that the nature of the affirmative relief hinges closely on the determination of the exact facts
surrounding a particular case.

The violations of human rights alleged by the petitioners are serious. If an orderly procedure ascertains their truth,
not only a writ of prohibition but criminal prosecutions would immediately issue as a matter of course. A persistent
pattern of wholesale and gross abuse of civil liberties, as alleged in the petition, has no place in civilized society.
On the other hand, according to the respondents, the statements made by the petitioners are a complete lie.
The Solicitor General argues:
"This is a complete lie.
Just the contrary, they had been conducted with due regard to human rights. Not only that, they were intelligently
and carefully planned months ahead of the actual operation. They were executed in coordination with barangay
officials who pleaded with their constituents to submit themselves voluntarily for character and personal
verification. Local and foreign correspondents, who had joined these operations, witnessed and recorded the events
that transpired relative thereto. (After Operation Reports: November 5, 1987, Annex 12; November 20, 1987, Annex
13; November 24, 1987, Annex 14). That is why in all the drives so far conducted, the alleged victims who
numbered thousands had not themselves complained.
"In her speech during turn-over rites on January 26, 1987 at Camp Aguinaldo, President Aquino branded all
accusations of deliberate disregard for human rights as total lies. Here are excerpts from her strongest speech yet in
support of the military:
All accusations of a deliberate disregard for human rights have been shown up to be total lies.
x x x. To our soldiers, let me. say go out and fight, fight with every assurance that I will stand by you through
thick and thin to share the blame, defend your actions, mourn the losses and enjoy with you the final victory that I
am certain will be ours.
You and I will see this through together.
I've sworn to defend and uphold the Constitution.
"We have wasted enough time answering their barkings for it is still a long way to lasting peace. x x x The dangers
and hardships to our men in the field are great enough as it is without having them distracted by this worthless
carping at their backs.
Our counter-insurgency policy remains the same: economic development to pull out the roots and military
operations to slash the growth of the insurgency.
The answer to terror is force now.

Only feats of arms can buy us the time needed to make our economic and social initiatives bear fruit. x x x. Now
that the extreme Right has been defeated. I expect greater vigor in the prosecution of the war against the communist
insurgency, even as we continue to watch our backs against attacks from the Right. (Philippine Star, January 27,
1988, p. 1, Annex 15; underlining ours.'
Viewed in the light of President Aquinos observation on the matter, it can be said that petitioners misrepresent as
human rights violations the military and polices zealous vigilance over the peoples right to live in peace and
safety. (Rollo, pp. 36-38)
Herein lies the problem of the Court. We can only guess the truth. Everything before us consists of allegations.
According to the petitioners, more than 3,407 persons were arrested in the saturation drives covered by the petition.
No estimates are given for the drives in Block 34, Dagat-dagatan, Navotas; Apelo Cruz Compound, Pasig; and Sun
Valley Drive near the Manila International Airport Area. Not one of the several thousand persons treated in the
illegal and inhuman manner described by the petitioners appears as a petitioner or has come before a trial court to
present the kind of evidence admissible in courts of justice. Moreover, there must have been tens of thousands of
nearby residents who were inconvenienced in addition to the several thousand allegedly arrested. None of those
arrested has apparently been charged and none of those affected has apparently complained.
A particularly intriguing aspect of the Solicitor Generals comment is the statement that local and foreign
correspondents actually joined the saturation drives and witnessed and recorded the events. In other words, the
activities sought to be completely proscribed were in full view of media. The sight of hooded men allegedly being
used to finger point suspected subversives would have been good television copy. If true, this was probably effected
away from the ubiquitous eye of the TV cameras or, as the Solicitor General contends, the allegation is a "complete
lie."
The latest attempt to stage a coup d'etat where several thousand members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
sought to overthrow the present Government introduces another aspect of the problem and illustrates quite clearly
why those directly affected by human rights violations should be the ones to institute court actions and why
evidence of what actually transpired should first be developed before petitions are filed with this Court.
Where there is large scale mutiny or actual rebellion, the police or military may go in force to the combat areas,
enter affected residences or buildings, round up suspected rebels and otherwise quell the mutiny or rebellion without
having to secure search warrants and without violating the Bill of Rights. This is exactly what happened in the White
Plains Subdivision and the commercial center of Makati during the first week of December, 1989.
The areal target zonings in this petition were intended to flush out subversies and criminal elements particularity
because of the blatant assassinations of public officers and police officials by elements supposedly coddled by the
communities where the "drives" were conducted.

It is clear from the pleadings of both petitioners and respondents, however, that, there was no rebellion or criminal
activity similar to that of the attempted coup d'etats. There appears to have been no impediment to securing search
warrants or warrants of arrest before any houses were searched or individuals roused from sleep were arrested.
There is no strong showing that the objectives sought to be attained by the "areal zoning" could not be achieved
even as the rights of squatter and low income families are fully protected.
Where a violation of human rights specifically guaranteed by the Constitution is involved, it is the duty of the court
to stop the transgression and state where even the awesome power of the state may not encroach upon the rights of
the individual.
It is the duty of the court to take remedial action even in cases such as the present petition where the petitioners do
not complain that they were victims of the police actions, where no names of any of the thousands of alleged victims
are given, and where the prayer is a general one to stop all police "saturation drives," as long as the Court is
convinced that the event actually happened.
The Court believes it highly probable that some violations were actually committed. This is so inspite of the alleged
pleas of barangay officials for the thousands of residents "to submit themselves voluntarily for character and
personal verification." We cannot imagine police actions of the magnitude described in the petitions and admitted by
the respondents, being undertaken without some undisciplined soldiers and policemen committing certain abuses.
However, the remedy is not to stop all police actions, including the essential and legitimate ones. We see nothing
wrong in police making their presence visibly felt in troubled areas. Police cannot respond to riots or violent
demonstrations if they do not move in sufficient numbers. A show of force is sometimes necessary as long as the
rights of people are protected and not violated. A blanket prohibition such as that sought by the petitioners would
limit all police actions to one on one confrontations where search warrants and warrants of arrests against specific
individuals are easily procured. Anarchy may reign if the military and the police decide to sit down in their offices
because all concerted drives where a show of force is present are totally prohibited.
The remedy is not an original action for prohibition brought through a taxpayers' suit. Where not one victim
complains and not one violator is properly charged, the problem is not initially for the Supreme Court. It is basically
one for the executive departments and for trial courts. Well meaning citizens with only second hand knowledge of
the events cannot keep on indiscriminately tossing problems of the executive, the military, and the police to the
Supreme Court as if we are the repository of all remedies for all evils. The rules of constitutional litigation have
been evolved for an orderly procedure in the vindication of rights. They should be followed. If our policy makers
sustain the contention of the military and the police that occasional, saturation drives are essential to maintain the
stability of government and to insure peace and order, clear policy guidelines on the behaviour of soldiers and
policemen must not only be evolved, they should also be enforced. A method of pinpointing human rights abuses
and identifying violators is necessary.

The problem is appropriate for the Commission on Human Rights. A high level conference should bring together the
heads of the Department of Justice, Department of National Defense and the operating heads of affected agencies
and institutions to devise procedures for the prevention of abuses.
Under the circumstances of this taxpayers' suit, there is no erring soldier or policeman whom we can order
prosecuted. In the absence of clear facts ascertained through an orderly procedure, no permanent relief can be given
at this time. Further investigation of the petitioners charges and a hard look by administration officials at the policy
implications of the prayed for blanket prohibition are also warranted.
In the meantime and in the face of prima facie showing that Some abuses were probably committed and could be
committed during future police actions, we have to temporarily restrain the alleged banging on walls, the kicking in
of doors, the herding of half-naked men to assembly areas for examination of tattoo marks, the violation of
residences even if these are humble shanties of squatters, and the other alleged acts which are shocking to the
conscience.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby REMANDED to the Regional Trial Courts of Manila, Malabon, and Pasay
City where the petitioners may present, evidence supporting their allegations and where specific erring parties may
be pinpointed and prosecuted.
Copies of this decision are likewise forwarded to the Commission on Human Rights, the Secretary of Justice, the
Secretary of National Defense, and the Commanding General PC-INP for the drawing up and enforcement of clear
guidelines to govern police actions intended to abate riots and civil disturbances, flush out criminal elements, and
subdue terrorist activities.
"In the meantime, the acts violative of human rights alleged by the petitioners as committed during the police
actions are ENJOINED until such time as permanent rules to govern such actions are promulgated.
SO ORDERED.

GUANZON VS. DE VILLA [181 SCRA 623; G.R. 80508; 30 JAN 1990]

Facts: The 41 petitioners alleged that the "saturation drive" or "aerial target zoning" that were conducted in their
place (Tondo Manila) were unconstitutional. They alleged that there is no specific target house to besearch and that
there is no search warrant or warrant of arrest served. Most of the policemen are in their civilian clothes and without
nameplates or identification cards. The residents were rudely rouse from their sleep by banging on the walls
and windows of their houses. The residents were at the point of high-powered guns and herded like cows. Men were
ordered to strip down to their briefs for the police to examine their tattoo marks. The residents complained that
they're homes were ransacked, tossing their belongings and destroying their valuables. Some of their money and

valuables had disappeared after the operation. The residents also reported incidents of maulings, spot-beatings and
maltreatment. Those who weredetained also suffered mental and physical torture to extract confessions and tactical
informations. The respondents said that such accusations were all lies. Respondents contends that the Constitution
grants to government the power to seek and cripple subversive movements for the maintenance of peace in the state.
The aerial target zoning were intended to flush out subversives and criminal elements coddled by the communities
were the said drives were conducted. They said that they have intelligently and carefully planned months ahead for
the actual operation and that local and foreign media joined the operation to witness and record such event.

Issue: Whether

or

Not

the

saturation

drive

committed

consisted

of

violation

of

human

rights.

Held: It is not the police action per se which should be prohibited rather it is the procedure used or the methods
which "offend even hardened sensibilities" .Based on the facts stated by the parties, it appears to have been no
impediment to securing search warrants or warrants of arrest before any houses were searched or individuals roused
from sleep were arrested. There is no showing that the objectives sought to be attained by the "aerial zoning" could
not be achieved even as th rights of the squatters and low income families are fully protected. However, the remedy
should not be brought by a tazpaer suit where not one victim complaints and not one violator is properly charged. In
the circumstances of this taxpayers' suit, there is no erring soldier or policeman whom the court can order
prosecuted.

In

the

absence

of

clear

facts

no permanent relief

can

be

given.

In the meantime where there is showing that some abuses were committed, the court temporary restraint the alleged
violations which are shocking to the senses. Petition is remanded to the RTC of Manila.

EDUARDO B. OLAGUER, VS. MILITARY COMMISSION


GANCAYCO, J.:
Filed with this Court are two Petitions wherein the fundamental question is whether or not a military tribunal
has the jurisdiction to try civilians while the civil courts are open and functioning. The two Petitions have been
consolidated inasmuch as the issues raised therein are interrelated.
On December 24, 1979, the herein petitioners Eduardo B. Olaguer, Othoniel V. Jimenez, Ester Misa-Jimenez,
Carlos Lazaro,

Reynaldo Maclang,

Magdalena

De

Los

Santos-Maclang, Teodorico N. Diesmos,

Rene J. Marciano, Danilo R. De Ocampo andVictoriano C. Amado were arrested by the military authorities. They
were all initially detained at Camp Crame in Quezon City. They were subsequently transferred to the detention

center

at

Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan except

for

petitioner Olaguer who

remained

in

detention

at Camp Crame. Petitioner Mac Aceron voluntarily surrendered to the authorities sometime in June, 1980 and was,
thereafter, also incarcerated at Camp Bagong Diwa. All of the petitioners are civilians.
On May 30, 1980, the petitioners were charged for subversion[1] upon the recommendation of the respondent
Judge Advocate General and the approval of the respondent Minister of National Defense. [2] The case was
designated as Criminal Case No. MC-34-1.
On June 13, 1980, the respondent Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of thePhilippines [3] created the respondent
Military Commission No. 34 to try the criminal case filed against the petitioners. [4] On July 30, 1980, an amended
charge sheet was filed for seven (7) offenses, namely: (1) unlawful possession of explosives and incendiary devices;
(2) conspiracy to assassinate President and Mrs. Marcos; (3) conspiracy to assassinate cabinet members Juan
Ponce Enrile, Francisco Tatad and VicentePaterno; (4) conspiracy to assassinate Messrs. Arturo Tangco,
Jose Roo and OnofreCorpus; (5) arson of nine buildings; (6) attempted murder of Messrs. Leonardo
Perez,Teodoro Valencia and Generals Romeo Espino and Fabian Ver; and (7) conspiracy and proposal to commit
rebellion, and inciting to rebellion.[5] Sometime thereafter, trial ensued.
In the course of the proceedings, particularly on August 19, 1980, the petitioners went to this Court and filed
the instant Petition for prohibition and habeas corpus.[6]They sought to enjoin the respondent Military Commission
No. 34 from proceeding with the trial of their case. They likewise sought their release from detention by way of a
writ of habeas corpus. The thrust of their arguments is that military commissions have no jurisdiction to try civilians
for offenses alleged to have been committed during the period of martial law. They also maintain that the
proceedings before the respondent Military Commission No. 34 are in gross violation of their constitutional right to
due process of law.
On September 23, 1980, the respondents filed their Answer to the Petition. [7] OnNovember 20, 1980, the
petitioners submitted their Reply to the Answer.[8] In a Motion filed with this Court on July 25, 1981,
petitioner Olaguer requested that the Petition be considered withdrawn as far as he is concerned.[9] In the Resolution
of this Court datedJuly 30, 1981, the said prayer was granted. [10] On August 31, 1984, the respondents filed a
Rejoinder to the Reply submitted by the petitioners.[11]
On December 4, 1984, pending the resolution of the Petition, the respondentMilitary Commission No. 34
passed sentence convicting the petitioners and imposed upon them the penalty of death by electrocution. Thus,
on February 14, 1985, petitioners Olaguer, Maclang and Othoniel and Ester Jimenez went to this Court and filed the
other instant Petition, this time for habeas corpus, certiorari, prohibition andmandamus. They also sought the
issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction.[12] The respondents named in the Petition are the Chief of Staff of the
Armed Forces of thePhilippines, Military Commission No. 34, the Judge Advocate General, the Minister of National
Defense and the Director of the Bureau of Prisons.
In sum, the second Petition seeks to enjoin the said respondents from taking any further action on the case
against the petitioners, and from implementing the judgment of conviction rendered by the respondent Military

Commission No. 34 for the reasonthat the same is null and void. The petitioners also seek the return of all property
takenfrom them by the respondents concerned. Their other arguments in the earlier Petition are stressed anew.
On August 9, 1985, the respondents filed their Answer to the Petition.[13] OnSeptember 12, 1985, this
Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the respondents from executing the Decision of the respondent
Military Commission No. 34.[14] On February 18, 1986 the petitioners submitted an extensive Brief. [15] Thereafter,
and in due time, the cases were submitted for decision.
In resolving these two Petitions, We have taken into account several supervening events which have occurred
hitherto, to wit -(1) On January 17, 1981, President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Proclamation No. 2045 officially lifting martial law
in the Philippines. The same Proclamation revoked General Order No. 8 (creating military tribunals) and directed
that "the military tribunals created pursuant thereto are hereby dissolved upon final determination of cases pending
therein which may not be transferred to the civil courts without irreparable prejudice to the state in view of the rules
on double jeopardy, or other circumstances which render prosecution of the cases difficult, if not impossible." ; and
(2) Petitioner Ester Misa-Jimenez was granted provisional liberty in January, 1981. On the other hand, petitioners
Eduardo Olaguer and Othoniel Jimenez obtained provisional liberty on January 23, 1986.[16] The rest of the
petitioners have been released sometime before or after President Corazon C. Aquino assumed office in February,
1986.
The sole issue in habeas corpus proceedings is detention.[17] When the release of the persons in whose
behalf the application for a writ of habeas corpus was filed is effected, the Petition for the issuance of the writ
becomes moot and academic.[18]Inasmuch as the herein petitioners hav been released from their confinement in
military detention centers, the instant Petitions for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpusshould be dismissed for
having become moot and academic.
We come now to the other matters raised in the two Petitions. The main issue raised by the petitioners is
whether or not military commissions or tribunals have the jurisdiction to try civilians for offenses allegedly
committed during martial law when civil courts are open and functioning.
The petitioners maintain that military commissions or tribunals do not have such jurisdiction and that the
proceedings before the respondent Military Commission No. 34 are in gross violation of their constitutional right to
due process of law. The respondents, however, contend otherwise.
The issue on the jurisdiction of military commissions or tribunals to try civilians for offenses allegedly
committed before, and more particularly during a period of martial law, as well as the other issues raised by the
petitioners, have been ruled upon by a divided Supreme Court in Aquino, Jr. v. Military Commission No. 2. [19] The
pertinent portions of the main opinion of the Court are as follows -?
"We hold that the respondent Military Commission No. 2 has been lawfully constituted and validly vested with
jurisdiction to hear the cases against civilians, including the petitioner.
"1. The Court has previously declared that the proclamation of Martial Law xxx on September 21, 1972, xxx is
valid and constitutional and that its continuance is justified by the danger posed to the public safety.[20]

"2. To preserve the safety of the nation in times of national peril, the President of the Philippines necessarily
possesses broad authority compatible with the imperative requirements of the emergency. On the basis of this, he
has authorized in General Order No. 8 xxx the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, to create military
tribunals to try and decide cases 'of military personnel and such other cases as may be referred to them.' In General
Order No. 12 xxx, the military tribunals were vested with jurisdiction exclusive of the civil courts', among others,
over crimes against public order, violations of the Anti-Subversion Act, violations of the laws on firearms, and other
crimes which, in the face of the emergency, are directly related to the quelling of the rebellion and preservation of
the safety and security of the Republic. xxx. These measures he had the authority to promulgate, since this Court
recognized that the incumbent President (President Marcos), under paragraphs 1 and 2 of Section 3 of Article XVII
of the new (1973) Constitution, had the authority to promulgate proclamations, orders and decrees during the period
of martial law essential to the security and preservation of the Republic, to the defense of the political and social
liberties of the people and to the institution of reforms to prevent the resurgence of the rebellion or insurrection or
secession or the threat thereof xxx'.[21] xxx.
"3. Petitioner nevertheless insists that he being a civilian, his trial by military commission deprives him of his right
to due process, since in his view the due process guaranteed by the Constitution to persons accused of 'ordinary'
crimes means judicial process. This argument ignores the reality of the rebellion and the existence of martial law. It
is, of course, essential that in a martial law situation, the martial law administrator must have ample and sufficient
means to quell the rebellion and restore civil order. Prompt and effective trial and punishment of offenders have
been considered as necessary in a state of martial law, as a mere power of detention may be wholly inadequate for
the exigency.[22] 'xxx martial law xxx creates an exception to the general rule of exclusive subjection to the civil
jurisdiction, and renders offenses against the laws of war, as well as those of a civil character, triable, xxx by
military tribunals.'[23] 'Public danger warrants the substitution of executive process for judicial process.'[24] xxx. 'The
immunity of civilians from military jurisdiction must, however, give way in areas governed by martial law. When it
is absolutely imperative for public safety, legal processes can be superseded and military tribunals authorized to
exercise the jurisdiction normally vested in courts.'[25] xxx."
"xxx.
"5. xxx. The guarantee of due process is not a guarantee of any particular form of tribunal in criminal cases. A
military tribunal of competent jurisdiction, accusation in due form, notice and opportunity to defend and trial before
an impartial tribunal, adequately meet the due process requirement. Due process of law does not necessarily mean a
judicial proceeding in the regular courts.[26] xxx."
This ruling has been affirmed, although not unanimously, in at least six other cases, to wit: Gumaua v. Espino,
[27]

Buscayno v. Enrile,[28] Sison v. Enrile,[29] Luneta v. Special Military Commission No. 1, [30] Ocampo v. Military

Commission No. 25,[31] and Buscaynov. Military Commission Nos. 1, 2, 6 and 25.[32]
These rulings notwithstanding, the petitioners anchor their argument on their prayer that the ruling in Aquino,
Jr. be appraised anew and abandoned or modified accordingly. After a thorough deliberation on the matter, We find
cogent basis for re-examining the same.

Some recent pronouncements of this Court could be considered as attempts to either abandon or modify the
ruling in Aquino, Jr.
In De Guzman v. Hon. Leopando, et al.,[33] an officer of the Armed Forces of thePhilippines and several other
persons were charged with Serious Illegal Detention before the Court of First Instance of Maguindanao sometime in
October, 1982. The military officer sought to effect the transfer of the case against him to the General CourtMartial
for trial pursuant to the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1850. The trial court disallowed such transfer for the
reason that the said Decree is unconstitutional inasmuch as it violates the due process and equal protection clauses of
the Constitution, as well as the constitutional provisions on social justice, the speedy disposition of cases, the
republican form of government, the integrity and independence of the judiciary, and the supremacy of civilian
authority over the military.
When the matter was elevated to this Court by way of a Petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, the
Court decided that a ruling on the constitutional issues raised was not necessary. With the view that practical and
procedural difficulties will result from the transfer sought, this Court resolved to dismiss the Petition for lack of
merit.
In Animas v. The Minister of National Defense, [34] a military officer and several civilians were charged with
murder alleged to have been committed sometime in November, 1971. All of the said accused were recommended
for prosecution before a military tribunal. In the course of the proceedings, the said accused went to this Court on a
Petition for certiorari and challenged the jurisdiction of the military tribunal over their case. The petitioners
contended that General Order No. 59 upon which the jurisdiction of the military tribunal is anchored refers only to
the crime of illegal possession of firearms and explosives in relation to other crimes committed with a political
complexion. They stressed that the alleged murder was devoid of any political complexion.
This Court, speaking through Mr. Justice Hugo E. Gutierrez, Jr., ordered the transfer of the criminal
proceedings to the civil courts after noting that with martial law having been lifted in the country in 1981, all cases
pending before the military tribunals should, as a general rule, be transferred to the civil courts. The Court was also
of the view that the crime alleged to have been committed did not have any political complexion. We quote the
pertinent portions of the Decision of the Court, to wit -"Inspite or because of the ambiguous nature of xxx civilian takeover of jurisdiction was concerned and
notwithstanding the shilly-shallying and vacillation characteristic of its implementation, this Court relied on the
enunciated policy of normalization in upholding the primacy of civil courts. This policy meant that as many cases
as possible involving civilians being tried by military tribunals as could be transferred to civil courts should be
turned over immediately. In case of doubt, the presumption was in favor of civil courts always trying civilian
accused.
"xxx.
"The crime for which the petitioners were charged was committed xxx long before the proclamation of martial
law. xxx. Now that it is already late 1986, and martial law is a thing of the past, hopefully never more to return,

there isno more reason why a murder committed in 1971 should still be retained, at this time, by a military
tribunal. xxx."
We agree with the dissenting views of then Justice, now Chief Justice ClaudioTeehankee[35] and Madame
Justice Cecilia Muoz-Palma[36] in Aquino, Jr. in so far as they hold that military commissions or tribunals have
no jurisdiction to try civilians for alleged offenses when the civil courts are open and functioning.
Due process of law demands that in all criminal prosecutions (where the accused stands to lose either his life or
his liberty), the accused shall be entitled to, among others, a trial. [37] The trial contemplated by the due process clause
of the Constitution, in relation to the Charter as a whole, is a trial by judicial process, not by executive or military
process. Military commissions or tribunals, by whatever name they are called, are not courts within the Philippine
judicial system. As explained by Justice Teehankeein his separate dissenting opinion -"xxx Civilians like (the) petitioner placed on trial for civil offenses under general law are entitled to trial by judicial
process, not by executive or military process.
"Judicial power is vested by the Constitution exclusively in the Supreme Court and in such inferior courts as are
duly established by law. Judicial power exists only in the courts, which have 'exclusive power to hear and determine
those matters which affect the life or liberty or property of a citizen.'[38]
"Since we are not enemy-occupied territory nor are we under a military government and even on the premise that
martial law continues in force, the military tribunals cannot try and exercise jurisdiction over civilians for civil
offenses committed by them which are properly cognizable by the civil courts that have remained open and have
been regularly functioning.[39] xxx.
"And in Toth v. Quarles,[40] the U.S. Supreme Court further stressed that 'the assertion of military authority over
civilians cannot rest on the President's power as Commander-in-Chief or on any theory of martial law.'
"xxx.
"The U.S. Supreme Court aptly pointed out xxx, in ruling that discharged army veterans (estimated to number more
than 22.5 million) could not be rendered 'helpless before some latter-day revival of old military charges' and
subjected to military trials for offenses committed while they were in the military service prior to their discharge,
that the presiding officer at a court martial is not a judge whose objectivity and independence are protected by
tenure and undiminished salary and nurtured by the judicial tradition, but is a military law officer. Substantially
different rules of evidence and procedure apply in military trials. Apart from these differences, the suggestion of the
possibility of influence on the actions of the court-martial by the officer who convenes it, selects its members and
the counsel on both sides, and who usually has direct command authority over its members is a pervasive one in
military law, despite strenuous efforts to eliminate the danger.'
"The late Justice Black xxx added that '(A) Court-Martial is not yet an independent instrument of justice but remains
to a significant degree a specialized part of the over-all mechanism by which military discipline is preserved, and
that exservicemen should be given 'the benefits of a civilian court trial when they are actually civilians xxx. Free
countries of the world have tried to restrict military tribunals to the narrowest jurisdiction deemed absolutely
essential to maintaining discipline among troops in active service.' "

Moreover, military tribunals pertain to the Executive Department of the Government and are simply
instrumentalities of the executive power, provided by the legislature for the President as Commander-in-Chief to aid
him in properly commanding the army and navy and enforcing discipline therein, and utilized under his orders or
those of his authorized military representatives. [41] Following the principle of separation of powers underlying the
existing constitutional organization of the Government of the Philippines, the power and the duty of interpreting the
laws (as when an individual should be considered to have violated the law) is primarily a function of the judiciary.
[42]

It is not, and it cannot be the function of the Executive Department, through the military authorities. And as long

as the civil courts in the land remain open and are regularly functioning, as they do so today and as they did during
the period of martial law in the country, military tribunals cannot try and exercise jurisdiction over civilians for
offenses committed by them and which are properly cognizable by the civil courts. [43] To have it otherwise would be
a violation of the constitutional right to due process of the civilian concerned.
In addition to this pronouncement, We take note of the observation made by the Solicitor General to the effect
that the death penalty imposed upon the petitioners by the respondent Military Commission No. 34 appears to have
been rendered too hastily to the prejudice of the petitioners, and in complete disregard of their constitutional right to
adduce evidence on their behalf. We quote the pertinent portions of the Manifestation submitted by the Solicitor
General, to wit "Prior to the session of December 4, 1984, when the respondent Commission rendered its sentence, petitioners have
requested the prosecution to provide them with copies of the complete record of trial, including the evidences presented against them, but the prosecution dillydallied and failed to provide them with the documents
requested. According to petitioners, they needed the documents to adequately prepare for their defense.
"But a few days before December 4, 1984 the prosecution suddenly furnished them with certain transcripts of the
proceedings which were not complete. Petitioner Othoniel Jimenez was scheduled to start with the presentation of
his evidence on said date and he requested that his first witness be served with subpoena. The other petitioners, as
agreed upon, were to present their evidence after the first one, Othoniel Jimenez, has finished presenting his
evidence. But on that fateful day, December 4, 1984, the witness requested to be served with subpoena was not
around, because as shown by the records, he was not even served with the requested subpoena. But in spite of that,
respondent Military Commission proceeded to ask each one of the petitioners if they are ready to present their
evidence. Despite their explanation that Othoniel Jimenez cannot proceed because the prosecution, which performs
the duties and functions of clerk of court, failed to subpoena his witness, and that the other petitioners were not
ready because it was not yet their turn to do so, the Commission abruptly decided that petitioners aredeemed to have
waived the presentation of evidence in their behalf, and considered the case submitted for resolution.
"After a recess of only twenty-five (25) minutes, the session was resumed and the Commission rendered its sentence
finding petitioners guilty of all the charges against them and imposing upon them the penalty of death by electrocution."[44]
Thus, even assuming arguendo that the respondent Military Commission No. 34 does have the jurisdiction to try the
petitioners, the Commission should be deemed ousted of its jurisdiction when, as observed by the Solicitor General,

the said tribunal acted in disregard of the constitutional rights of the accused. Indeed, it is well-settled that
oncea deprivation of a constitutional right is shown to exist, the tribunal that rendered the judgment in question is
deemed ousted of jurisdiction.[45]
Moreover, We find that Proclamation No. 2045 (dated January 17, 1981) officially lifting martial law in the
Philippines and abolishing all military tribunals created pursuant to the national emergency effectively divests the
respondent Military Commission No. 34 (and all military tribunals for that matter) of its supposed authority to try
civilians, including the herein petitioners.
The main opinion in Aquino, Jr. is premised on the theory that military tribunals have the jurisdiction to try
civilians as long as the period of national emergency (brought about by public disorder and similar causes)
lasts. Undoubtedly, Proclamation No. 2045 is an acknowledgment on the part of the Executive Department of the
Government that the national emergency no longer exists. Thereafter, following the theory relied upon in the main
opinion, all military tribunals should henceforth be considered functus officio in their relationship with civilians.
By virtue of the proclamation itself, all cases against civilians pending therein should eventually be transferred
to the civil courts for proper disposition. The principle of double jeopardy would not be an obstacle to such transfer
because an indispensable element of double jeopardy is that the first tribunal which tried the case must be of
competent jurisdiction.[46] As discussed earlier, the military tribunals are devoid of the required jurisdiction.
We take this opportunity to reiterate that as long as the civil courts in the land are open and functioning,
military tribunals cannot try and exercise jurisdiction over civilians for offenses committed by them. Whether or not
martial law has been proclaimed throughout the country or over a part thereof is of no moment. The imprimatur for
this observation is found in Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, to wit -?
"A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution,
nor supplant the functioning of the civilcourts or legislative
assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies overcivilians where civil co
urts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ." (Emphasis supplied.)
This provision in the fundamental law is just one of the many steps taken by the Filipino people towards the
restoration of the vital role of the judiciary in a free country -- that of the guardian of the Constitution and the
dispenser of justice without fear or favor.
No longer should military tribunals or commissions exercise jurisdiction over civilians for offenses allegedly
committed by them when the civil courts are open and functioning. No longer may the exclusive judicial power of
the civil courts, beginning with the Supreme Court down to the lower courts [47] be appropriated by any military body
or tribunal, or even diluted under the guise of a state of martial law, national security and other similar labels.
At

this

juncture,

We

find

it

appropriate to

quote

the ponenciaof Mr. Justice Gutierrez in Animas v. The Minister of National Defense,

a few
[48]

paragraphs

from

viz --

"The jurisdiction given to military tribunals over common crimes and civilian(s) accused at a time when all civil
courts were fully operational and freely functioning constitutes one of the saddest chapters in the history of
thePhilippine judiciary.

"The downgrading of judicial prestige caused by the glorification of military tribunals, the instability and insecurity
felt by many members of the judiciary due to various causes both real and imagined, and the many judicial problems
spawned by extended authoritarian rule which effectively eroded judicial independence and self-respect will require
plenty of time and determined efforts to cure.
"The immediate return to civil courts of all cases which properly belong to them is only a beginning."
And in his separate concurring opinion in Animas, Mr. Chief Justice Teehankee had this to say -"I only wish to add that the great significance of our judgment in this case is that we reestablish and reinstate the
fundamental principle based on civilian supremacy over the military as urged in vain in my dissent in the case
ofBenigno S. Aquino, Jr. vs. Military Commission No. 2, et al. that 'Civilians placed on trial for offenses under
general law are entitled to trial by judicial process, not by executive or military process. Judicial power is vested by
the Constitution exclusively in the Supreme Court and in such inferior courts as are duly established by
law. Military commissions, or tribunals, are not courts and do not form part of the judicial system. Since we are not
enemy-occupied territory nor are we under a military government and even on the premise that martial law
continues in force, the military tribunals cannot try and exercise jurisdiction over civilians for civil offenses
committed by them which are properly cognizable by the civil courts that have remained open and have been
regularly functioning.'
"xxx.
"The terrible consequences of subjecting civilians to trial by military process is best exemplified in the sham
military trial of the martyred former Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., whereby he was deprived (1) by the
summary ex parteinvestigation by the chief prosecution staff of the JAGO, of his right to be informed of the charges
against him and of his right to counsel as expressly recognized by Section 20 of the Bill of Rights of the 1973
Constitution; (2) of his vested statutory right to a preliminary investigation of the subversion charges against him
before the proper court of first instance as required under Section 5 of the Anti-Subversion Act, R.A. 1700 and of the
other charges against him before the proper civilian officials and to confront and cross-examine the witnesses
against him under R.A. 5180; (3) of the right to be tried by judicial process, by the regular independent courts of
justice, with all the specific constitutional, statutory and procedural safeguards embodied in the judicial process and
presided over not by military officers; and (4) of the right to appeal to the regular appellate courts and to judicial
review by this Court in the event of conviction and imposition of a sentence of death or life imprisonment which the
charges carry and wherein a qualified majority of ten (10) votes for affirmance of the death penalty is required. In
fine, he was denied due process of law as guaranteed under the Bill of Rights which further ordains that No person
shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law.' Worse, his trial by a military tribunal
created by the then President and composed of the said President's own military subordinates without tenure and of
non?lawyers (except the law member) and of whose decision the President is the final reviewing authority as
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces deprived him of a basic constitutional right to be heard by a fair and
impartial tribunal, considering that the said President had publicly declared the evidence against petitioner 'not only

strong (but) overwhelming and thereby prejudged and predetermined his guilt, and none of his military subordinates
could be expected to go against their Commander-in-Chief's declaration.
"Hopefully, all these aberrations now belong to the dead and nightmarish past, when time-tested doctrines, toborrow
a phrase from the then Chief Justice, shrivelled in the effulgence of the overpowering rays of martial rule.' "[49]
As stated earlier, We have been asked to re-examine a previous ruling of the Court with a view towards abandoning or modifying the same. We do so now but not without careful reflection and deliberation on Our
part. Certainly, the

rule

of stare decisis is entitled

to respect

because

stability in

jurisprudence

is

desirable. Nonetheless, reverence for precedent, simply as precedent, cannot prevail when constitutionalism and the
public interest demand otherwise. Thus, a doctrine which should be abandoned or modified should be abandoned or
modified accordingly. After all, more important than anything else is that this Court should be right.[50]
Accordingly, it is Our considered opinion, and We so hold, that a military commission or tribunal cannot try
and exercise jurisdiction, even during the period of martial law, over civilians for offenses allegedly committed by
them as long as the civil courts are open and functioning, and that any judgment rendered by such body relating to a
civilian is null and void for lack of jurisdiction on the part of the military tribunal con cerned.[51] For the same
reasons, Our pronouncement in Aquino, Jr. v. Military Commission No. 2 [52] and all decided cases affirming the
same, in so far as they are inconsistent with this pronouncement, should be deemed abandoned.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Petitions for habeas corpus are DISMISSED for having become
moot and academic. The Petitions for certiorari and prohibition are hereby GRANTED. The creation of the
respondent Military Commission No. 34 to try civilians like the petitioners is hereby declared unconstitutional and
all its proceedings are deemed null and void. The temporary restraining order issued against the respondents
enjoining them from executing the Decision of the respondent Military Commission No. 34 is hereby made
permanent and the said respondents are permanently prohibited from further pursuing Criminal Case No. MC-34-1
against the petitioners. The sentence rendered by the respondent Military Commission No. 34 imposing the death
penalty on the petitioners is hereby vacated for being null and void, and all the items or properties taken from the
petitioners in relation to the said criminal case should be returned to them immediately. No pronouncement as to
costs.
SO ORDERED.

Olaguer vs Military Commission

FACTS: Petitioners, as civilians, have been charged the crime of subversion. Consequently, the Chief-of-Staff of the
AFP created a military tribunal, named Military Commission No. 34, to try criminal case against petitioners.
Petitioners were then convicted and have been imposed a penalty of death penalty. Thereafter, petitioners filed a
petition to enjoin the military tribunal from taking further action on their case for the tribunal should be considered

null and void. Respondents invoked that the creation of Military Commission is constitutional as ruled upon in a
previous case Aquino v. Military Commission No. 2.- as decided upon by the Supreme Court. However,
petitioners contend that such ruling must be overturned because the ruling is now inapplicable since Martial Law has
already been lifted.

ISSUE: Whether or not the ruling in Aquino v. Military Commission be abandoned and/or modified in so far as the
case at bar is concerned?

HELD: Yes. First, the Court considered that since the martial law has been lifted during the case is still pending,
military tibunals, which were created for the purpose of martial law, shall be held void already since the law itself is
lifted. Second, the Court relied on the dissenting views of some justices in AQUINO V. MILCOMM, stating
that Civilians like the petitioner placed on tiral for civil offenses under general law are entited o trial by judicial
process, not by executive or military processxxx..Judicial power exist only in courts.1Moreover, the Court
emphasized thatReverence for precedent, simply as precedent, cannot prevail when constitutionalism and the public
interest demand otherwise. Thus, a doctrine which should be abandoned or modified should be abandoned or
modified accordingly. after all, more important than anything else is that this Court should be right.