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JOHANNASOMBONG

VS

COURTOFAPPEALSandMARIETTANERIALVIAR,LILIBETHNERIandall
personsholdingthesubjectchildARABELLASOMBONGintheircustody

G.R.No.111876;January31,1996

(Rule102HabeasCorpus)

Section1. Towhathabeascorpusextends.Exceptasotherwiseexpresslyprovidedby
law,thewritofhabeascorpusshallextendtoallcasesofillegalconfinementordetention
by whichany personis deprived of his liberty, or by whichtherightful custody of any
personiswithheldfromthepersonentitledthereto.

ConstitutionalLaw;HabeasCorpus;Theessentialobjectandpurposeofthewrit
of habeas corpus is to inquire into all manner of involuntary restraint as
distinguishedfromvoluntary,andtorelieveapersontherefromifsuchrestraint
isillegal.Ingeneral,thepurposeofthewritofhabeascorpusistodeterminewhetheror
notaparticularpersonislegallyheld.Aprimespecificationofanapplicationforawritof
habeascorpus,infact,isanactualandeffective,andnotmerelynominalormoral,illegal
restraintofliberty.Thewritofhabeas corpuswasdevisedandexistsasaspeedyand
effectual remedy to relieve persons from unlawful restraint, and as the best and only
sufficientdefenseofpersonalfreedom.Aprimespecificationofanapplicationforawritof
habeascorpusisrestraintofliberty.Theessentialobjectandpurposeofthewritofhabeas
corpus is to inquire into all manner of involuntary restraint as distinguished from
voluntary,andtorelieveapersontherefromifsuchrestraintisillegal.Anyrestraintwhich
willprecludefreedomofactionissufficient.

Same; Same; In order to justify the grant of the writ of habeas corpus, the
restraint of liberty must be in the nature of an illegal and involuntary
deprivationoffreedomofaction.Fundamentally,inordertojustifythegrantofthe
writ of habeas corpus, the restraint of liberty must be in the nature of an illegal and
involuntarydeprivationoffreedomofaction.Thisisthebasicrequisiteunderthefirstpart
of Section 1, Rule 102, of the Revised Rules of Court, which provides that except as
otherwiseexpresslyprovidedbylaw,thewritofhabeascorpusshallextendtoallcasesof
illegalconfinementordetentionbywhichanypersonisdeprivedofhisliberty.

Same;Same;Thewritistheproperlegalremedytoenableparentstoregainthe
custodyofaminorchildevenifthelatterbeinthecustodyofathirdpersonof
herownfreewill.Inthesecondpartofthesameprovision,however,HabeasCorpus
mayberesortedtoincaseswheretherightfulcustodyofanypersoniswithheldfromthe
personentitledthereto.Thus,althoughtheWritofHabeasCorpusoughtnottobeissuedif
therestraintisvoluntary,wehaveheldtimeandagainthatthesaidwritistheproper
legalremedytoenableparentstoregainthecustodyofaminorchildevenifthelatterbein
thecustodyofathirdpersonofherownfreewill.

Same; Same; The writ of habeas corpus is presented for the purpose of
determiningtherightofcustodyoverachild.Itmayevenbesaidthatincustody
casesinvolvingminors,thequestionofillegalandinvoluntaryrestraintoflibertyisnotthe
underlyingrationalefortheavailabilityofthewritasaremedy;rather,thewritofhabeas
corpusisprosecutedforthepurposeofdeterminingtherightofcustodyoverachild.

Same;Same;Inhabeascorpusproceedings,thequestionofidentityisrelevant
andmaterial,subjecttotheusualpresumptionsincludingthoseastoidentityof
person.PetitionerdoesnothavetherightofcustodyovertheminorCristinabecause,by
theevidencedisclosedbeforethecourtaquo,Cristinahasnotbeenshowntobepetitioners
daughter, Arabella. The evidence adduced before the trial court does not warrant the
conclusionthatArabellaisthesamepersonasCristina.Itwillberememberedthat,in
habeascorpusproceedings,thequestionofidentityisrelevantandmaterial,subjecttothe
usualpresumptionsincludingthoseastoidentityofperson.Thesepresumptionsmayyield,
however,totheevidenceprofferedbytheparties.

CivilLaw;ChildandYouthWelfareCode;Thecodeprovidesthatinallquestions
regardingthecareandcustody,amongothers,ofthechild,hiswelfareshallbe
theparamountconsideration.Consideringthatthechildswelfareisanallimportant
factorincustodycases,theChildandYouthWelfareCodeunequivocallyprovidesthatin
allquestionsregardingthecareandcustody,amongothers,ofthechild,hiswelfareshall
betheparamountconsideration.Inthesamevein,theFamilyCodeauthorizesthecourts
to, if the welfare of the child so demands, deprive the parents concerned of parental
authorityoverthechildoradoptsuchmeasuresasmaybeproperunderthecircumstances.
FACTS:

PetitioneristhemotherofArabellaO.SombongwhowasbornonApril23,1987in
SignalVillage,Taguig,MetroManila.

SometimeinNovember,1987,Arabella,thenonlysixmonthsold,wasbroughtto
theSirJohnClinic,locatedat121FirstAvenue,KaloocanCity,forreliefofcoughingfits
andfortreatmentofcolds.Petitionerdidnothaveenoughmoneytopaythehospitalbillin
theamountofP300.00.Arabellacouldnotbedischarged,then,becauseofthepetitioner's
failuretopaythebill.

Petitioner surprisingly gave testimony to the effect that she allegedly paid the
privaterespondentsbyinstallmentsinthetotalamountofP1,700.00,knowingforafact
thatthesumpayablewasonlyP300.00.Despitesuchallegedpayments,theownersofthe
clinic,Dra.CarmenTyandherhusband,Mr.VicenteTy,allegedlyrefusedtoturnover
Arabellatoher.Petitionerclaimsthatthereasonforsucharefusalwasthatsherefusedto
gooutonadatewithMr.Ty,whohadbeencourtingher.ThisallegedlygaveDra.Tya
reasontobejealousofher,makingitdifficultforeveryoneallaround.

Ontheotherhandandincontrasttoherforegoingallegations,petitionertestified
thatshevisitedArabellaatthecliniconlyaftertwoyears,i.e.,in1989.Thistime,shedid
notgobeyondberatingthespousesTyfortheirrefusaltogiveArabellatoher.Threeyears
thereafter,i.e.,in1992,petitioneragainresurfacedtolayclaimtoherchild.Herpleas
allegedlyfellondeafears.

Consequently,onMay21,1992,petitionerfiledapetitionwiththeRegionalTrial
CourtofQuezonCityfortheissuanceofaWritofHabeasCorpusagainstthespousesTy.
SheallegedthereinthatArabellawasbeingunlawfullydetainedandimprisonedatNo.
121,FirstAvenue,GracePark,KalookanCity.

Thepetitionwasdeniedduecourseandsummarilydismissed, 6withoutprejudice,on
the ground of lack of jurisdiction, the alleged detention having been perpetrated in
KalookanCity.
Petitioner, thereafter, filed a criminal complaint 7with the Office of the City
ProsecutorofKalookanCityagainstthespousesTy.

Dr.Ty,inhercounteraffidavit,admittedthatpetitioner'schild,Arabella,hadfor
sometimebeeninhercustody.ArabellawasdischargedfromtheclinicinApril,1989,and
was,inthepresenceofherclinicstaff,turnedovertosomeonewhowasproperlyidentified
tobethechild'sguardian.

InthefaceoftherefusalofthespousesTytoturnoverArabellatoher,shehad
sought the help of Barangay Captains Alfonso and Bautista of Kalookan City, Mayor
Asistio of the same city, and even Congresswoman Hortensia L. Starke of Negros
Occidental.Theireffortstohelpavailedhernothing.

OnSeptember4,1992,theOfficeoftheCityProsecutorofKalookanCity,onthe
basisofpetitioner'scomplaint,filedaninformation8againstthespousesTyforKidnapping
andIllegalDetentionofaMinorbeforetheRegionalTrialCourtofKalookanCity. 9On
September16,1992,anorderforthearrestofthespousesTywasissuedinthecriminal
case.

Facing arrest, Dra. Ty disclosed the possibility that the child, Arabella, may be
foundatNo.23JesusStreet,SanFranciscodelMonte,QuezonCity.

TheagentsoftheNationalBureauofInvestigationwenttosaidaddressandthere
foundafemalechildwhoansweredtothenameofCristinaGraceNeri.

Quitesignificantly,theevidencedisclosedthatthechild,Cristina,hadbeenliving
withrespondentMariettaNeriAlviarsince1988.

Whenshewasjustababy,CristinawasabandonedbyherparentsattheSirJohn
Clinic.OnApril18,1988,Dr.FeMallonga,adentistattheSirJohnClinicandnieceof
bothDra.TyandrespondentAlviar,calledthelatteruptodiscussthepossibilityofturning
overtohercareoneoftheseveralabandonedbabiesatthesaidclinic.RespondentAlviar
wastoldthatthisbabywhosenamewasunknownhadlongbeenabandonedbyherparents
and appeared to be very small, very thin, and full of scabies. Takingpity onthebaby,
respondentAlviarandhermother,MauraSalacupNeri,decidedtotakecareofher.This
babywasbaptizedattheGoodSamaritanChurchonApril30,1988.HerCertificateof
Baptism10indicateshernametobeCristinaGraceS.Neri;herbirthdaytobeApril30,
1987;herbirthplacetobeQuezonCity;andherfosterfatherandfostermothertobeCicero
NeriandMauraSalacup,respectively.

Respondent Alviar was invited by the National Bureau of Investigation for


questioningonSeptember22,1992inthepresenceofDra.Tyandpetitioner.Cristinawas
alsobroughtalongbysaidrespondent.Atthatconfrontation,Dra.Tycouldnotbesurethat
Cristinawasindeedpetitioner'schild,Arabella.Neithercouldpetitionerwithallcertainty
saythatCristinawasherlonglostdaughter.

ISSUE:

WONapetitionforhabeascorpusinthepresentcaseshouldbegranted.

HELD:

No.Whilewesympathizewiththeplightofpetitionerwhohasbeenseparatedfrom
her daughter for more than eight years, we cannot grant her the relief she is seeking,
becausetheevidenceinthiscasedoesnotsupportafindingthatthechild,Cristina,isin
truthandinfacther child,Arabella; neitheristheresufficientevidencetosupportthe
findingthatprivaterespondents'custodyofCristinaissoillegalastowarrantthegrantof
aWritofHabeasCorpus.

Thegrantofthewritintheinstantcasewillalldependontheconcurrenceofthe
followingrequisites:(1)thatthepetitionerhastherightofcustodyovertheminor;(2)that
therightfulcustodyoftheminorisbeingwithheldfromthepetitionerbytherespondent;
and (3) that it is to the best interest of the minor concerned to be in the custody of
petitionerandnotthatoftherespondent.

Notalloftheserequisitesexistinthiscase.Thedismissalofthispetitionisthus
warranted.