CASE BrieF NO. 2014-0008

CASE: In the matter of the petition for habeas corpus of minor Shang Ko Vingson Yu, Shirly Vingson @ Shirly Vingson Demaisip VS. Jovy Cabcaban [UDK No. 14817, January 13, 2014]

PONENTE: Associate Justice Roberto Abad

SUBJECT:

  1. Remedial Law:
    i. Habeas Corpus – Purpose

The writ of habeas corpus is available, not only in cases of illegal confinement or detention by which any person is deprived of his liberty, but also in cases involving the rightful custody over a minor.”

FACTS:

Shirly Vingson (Shirly) alleged that Shang Ko Vingson Yu (Shang Ko), her 14-year-old daughter, ran away from home.  Two months thereafter, Shirly went to the police station in Bacolod City upon receipt of information that Shang Ko was in the custody of Jovy Cabcaban (Cabcaban), a police officer in that station.  Since Cabcaban refused to release Shang Ko to her, Shirly sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to rescue her child.  An NBI agent, Arnel Pura (Pura), informed Shirly that Shang Ko was no longer with Cabcaban but was staying with a private organization called Calvary Kids. Pura told her, however, that the child was fine and had been attending school.

This prompted Shirly to file a petition for habeas corpus against Cabcaban and the unnamed officers of Calvary Kids before the Court of Appeals (CA) rather than the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City citing as reason several threats against her life in that city.

The CA resolved to deny the petition for its failure to clearly allege who has custody of Shang Ko. According to the CA, habeas corpus may not be used as a means of obtaining evidence on the whereabouts of a person or as a means of finding out who has specifically abducted or caused the disappearance of such person [See CASE BrieF No. 2006-925 Estrella Martinez vs. Dir. Gen. Leandro Mendoza et. al.] The CA denied Shirly’s motion for reconsideration, hence, she filed a petition for review in the Supreme Court.

In her Comment, Cabcaban claimed that Shang Ko was found crying outside a church by police officers.  When queried, the latter refused to give any information about herself.  Thus, they indorsed her case to the Bacolod City Police Women and Children Protection Desk that Cabcaban headed.  After the initial interview, Cabcaban referred Shang Ko to Balay Pasilungan, a temporary shelter for abused women and children.

Cabcaban further claimed that on the next day, a social worker sat with the minor who said that her mother Shirly had been abusive in treating her.  She narrated that Shirly instructed another daughter to give Shang Ko P280.00 and take her to the pier to board a boat going to Iloilo City. Shang Ko was told to look for a job there and to never come back to Bacolod City.  Since she had nowhere to go when she arrived in Iloilo City, Shang Ko decided to return to Bacolod City with the money given her.  She went to her best friend’s house but was turned away for fear of Shirly.  She called her sister so that she and her boyfriend could get her but they, too, turned her down.

Cabcaban also claimed that Shang Ko pleaded with the police and the social worker not to return her to her mother.  As a result, the Bacolod City Police filed a complaintagainst Shirly for violation of Republic Act 7610 The police sent notice to Shirly inviting her to a conference but she refused to receive such notice. 

Cabcaban claimed that Shang Ko’s father was a Taiwanese and that Shirly wanted the child back to use her as leverage for getting financial support from him.

RULING:

Under Section 1, Rule 102 of the Rules of Court, the writ of habeas corpus is available, not only in cases of illegal confinement or detention by which any person is deprived of his liberty, but also in cases involving the rightful custody over a minor. The general rule is that parents should have custody over their minor children.  But the State has the right to intervene where the parents, rather than care for such children, treat them cruelly and abusively, impairing their growth and well-being and leaving them emotional scars that they carry throughout their lives unless they are liberated from such parents and properly counseled.

Since this case presents factual issues and since the parties are all residents of Bacolod City, it would be best that such issues be resolved by a Family Court in that city.  Meantime, considering the presumption that the police authorities acted regularly in placing Shang Ko in the custody of Calvary Kids, the Court believes that she should remain there pending hearing and adjudication of this custody case.  Besides, she herself has expressed preference to stay in that place.

The Fallo:

WHEREFORE, the Court SETS ASIDE the Court of Appeals Resolutions in CA-G.R. SP 07261 dated December 18, 2012 and January 8, 2013 and ORDERS this custody case forwarded to the Family Court of Bacolod City for hearing and adjudication as the evidence warrants. Meantime, until such court orders otherwise, let the minor Shang Ko Vingson remain in the custody of Calvary Kids of Bacolod City.

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THINGS DECIDED:

A) Under Section 1, Rule 102 of the Rules of Court, the writ of habeas corpus is available, not only in cases of illegal confinement or detention by which any person is deprived of his liberty, but also in cases involving the rightful custody over a minor.

B) The general rule is that parents should have custody over their minor children.  But the State has the right to intervene where the parents, rather than care for such children, treat them cruelly and abusively, impairing their growth and well-being and leaving them emotional scars that they carry throughout their lives unless they are liberated from such parents and properly counseled.

 ‘Stand by things decided’ ~ Stare Decisis


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