Facts: Petitioner-defendant, a member of the Metropolitan Constabulary of Manila charged with the supervision and control of the production, procurement and distribution of goods and other necessaries was prosecuted for the crime of robbery as defined and penalized by section 2 (a) of Act No. 65 of the National Assembly of the so-called Republic of the Philippines. He was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Court of Special and Exclusive Criminal Jurisdiction. The petition for habeas corpus is based on the ground that the Court of Special and Executive Criminal Jurisdiction created by Ordinance No. 7 “was a political instrumentality of the military forces of the Japanese Imperial Army, the aims and purposes of which are repugnant to those aims and political purposes of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, as well as those of the United States of America, and therefore, null and void ab initio,” that the provisions of said Ordinance No. 7 are violative of the fundamental laws of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and “the petitioner has been deprived of his constitutional rights”; that the petitioner herein is being punished by a law created to serve the political purpose of the Japanese Imperial Army in the Philippines, and “that the penalties provided for are much (more) severe than the penalties provided for in the Revised Penal Code.”
The Solicitor General states that, in his own opinion, the acts and proceedings taken before the said Court of Special and Exclusive Criminal Jurisdiction which resulted in the imprisonment of the petitioner, should now be denied force and efficacy, and therefore the petition for habeas corpus should be granted. Reasons are: that the Court of Special and Exclusive Criminal Jurisdiction created, and the summary procedure prescribed therefor, by said Ordinance No. 7 are tinged with political complexion; that the procedure prescribed in Ordinance No. 7 does not afford a fair trial, violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth, and impairs the Constitutional rights of accused persons under their legitimate Constitution.
The features of the summary procedure adopted by Ordinance No. 7, assailed by the petitioner and the Solicitor General as impairing the constitutional rights of an accused are: that court may interrogate the accused and witnesses before trial in order to clarify the points in dispute; that the refusal of the accused to answer the questions may be considered unfavorable to him; that if from the facts admitted at the preliminary interrogatory it appears that the defendant is guilty, he may be immediately convicted; and that the sentence of the court is not appealable, except in case of death penalty which cannot be executed unless and until reviewed and affirmed by a special division of the Supreme Court composed of three Justices.
1) WON of the creation of the Court of Special and Exclusive Criminal Jurisdiction was valid
2) WON of the sentence which imprisonment during the Japanese military occupation was valid
3) If they were then valid, WON, by the principle of postliminy, the punitive sentence which petitioner is now serving fell through or ceased to be valid from the time of the reoccupation of the Philippines and restoration of the Commonwealth Government
Ruling: Before proceeding further, and in order to determine the law applicable to the questions involved in the present case, the question involved in the present case cannot be decided in the light of the Constitution of the Commonwealth Government; because the belligerent occupant was totally independent of the constitution of the occupied territory in carrying out the administration over said territory. The Constitution of the so-called Republic of the Philippines can neither be applied, since the validity of an act of a belligerent occupant cannot be tested in the light of another act of the same occupant, whose criminal jurisdiction is drawn entirely from the law martial as defined in the usages of nations.
(1) Yes. Valid. It is well established in International Law that “The criminal jurisdiction established by the invader in the occupied territory finds its source neither in the laws of the conquering or conquered state, — it is drawn entirely form the law martial as defined in the usages of nations. The authority thus derived can be asserted either through special tribunals, whose authority and procedure is defined in the military code of the conquering state, or through the ordinary courts and authorities of the occupied district. The so-called Republic of the Philippines, being a governmental instrumentality of the belligerent occupant, had therefore the power or was competent to create the Court of Special and Exclusive Criminal Jurisdiction. No question may arise as to whether or not a court is of political complexion, for it is mere a governmental agency charged with the duty of applying the law to cases falling within its jurisdiction.
With respect to the Summary procedure adopted by Ordinance No. 7, there is also no question as to the power of the belligerent occupant to promulgate the law providing for such procedure. A belligerent “occupant may where necessary, set up military courts instead of the ordinary courts; and in case, and in so far as, he admits the administration of justice by the ordinary courts, he may nevertheless temporarily alter the laws, especially the Criminal Law, on the basis of which justice is administered as well as the laws regarding procedure. The only restrictions or limitations imposed upon the power of a belligerent occupant to alter the laws or promulgate new ones, especially the criminal law as well as the laws regarding procedure are those imposed by the Hague Regulations, the usages established by civilized nations, the laws of humanity and the requirements of public conscience. It is obvious that the summary procedure under consideration does not violate those precepts.
(2) Yes. Valid. Although the crimes covered are defined in the Revised Penal Code, they were altered and penalized by said Act No. 65 with different and heavier penalties, as new crimes and offenses demanded by military necessity, incident to a state of war, and necessary for the control of the country by the belligerent occupant, the protection and safety of the army of occupation, its support and efficiency, and the success of its operations.
The criminal acts penalized by said Act No. 65 are those committed by persons charged or connected with the supervision and control of the production, procurement and distribution of foods and other necessaries; and the penalties imposed upon the violators are different from and much heavier than those provided by the Revised Penal Code for the same ordinary crimes. The acts penalized by said Act were taken out of the territorial law or Revised Penal Code, and referred to what is called martial law by international jurists in order, not only to prevent food and other necessaries from reaching the “guerrillas” which were harassing the belligerent occupant but also to preserve the food supply and other necessaries
(3) Yes. It did cease. We have already held in our recent decision in the case of Co Kim Cham vs. Valdez Tan Keh and Dizon, supra, that all judgments of political complexion of the courts during the Japanese regime, ceased to be valid upon the reoccupation of the islands by virtue of the principle or right of postliminium. Applying that doctrine to the present case, the sentence which convicted the petitioner of a crime of a political complexion must be considered as having ceased to be valid ipso facto upon the reoccupation or liberation of the Philippines by General Douglas MacArthur. It may not be amiss to say in this connection that it is not necessary and proper to invoke the proclamation of General Douglas MacArthur declaring null and void all laws, among them Act No. 65, of the so-called Republic of the Philippines under which petitioner was convicted, in order to give retroactive effect to the nullification of said penal act and invalidate sentence rendered against petitioner under said law, a sentence which, before the proclamation, had already become null and of no effect.