39 PHIL 778
Justo Lukban, mayor of Manila, ordered the district of ill-repute women closed. One hundred and seventy women were deported to Davao without their knowledge and consent. The women were received as laborers in a banana plantation. Some of the women were able to escape and return to Manila. The attorney for the relatives and friends of a considerable number of the deportees presented an application for habeas corpus to the Supreme Court
1) Whether or not the respondents had authority to deport the women to Davao; and
2) Whether or not the City of Manila has jurisdiction to issue a writ of habeas corpus to Davao
The respondents had no authority to deport the women. No official, no matter how high, is above the law. The courts are the forum which function to safeguard liberty and to punish official transgressors. The essential object and purpose of the writ of habeas corpus are to inquire into all manner of involuntary restraint and to relieve a person therefrom if such restraint is illegal. If the mayor and the chief of police could deport the women, they must have the means to return them from Davao to Manila. The respondents may not be permitted to restrain a fellow citizen of her liberty by forcing her to change her domicile and to avow the act with impunity in the courts. The great writ of liberty may not be easily evaded. No one of the defense offered constituted a legitimate bar to the granting of the writ of habeas corpus.