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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 34115. February 21, 1931. ]

FRANCISCO SALVAÑA and MODESTA SALIENDRA, Petitioners-Appellants, v. LEOPOLDO GAELA, in his private capacity and as Justice of the Peace of Lucban, Tayabas, Respondent-Appellee.

Aurelio Palileo for Appellants.

Gregorio A. Seña, Braulio Devera and Baldomero Ortiz for Appellee.

SYLLABUS


1. HABEAS CORPUS; MINOR DAUGHTER, PROPER REMEDY TO RECOVER CUSTODY OF. — A writ of habeas corpus is the proper legal remedy to enable parents to regain the custody of a minor daughter, even though the latter be in the custody of a third person of her own free will.

2. ID.; ID. — Neither the fact that the parents of a minor daughter sought to compel her to marry against her will, where it does not appear such a purpose has continued, nor their refusal to consent to her marriage to another man by whom she is with child, is a legal ground for depriving said parents of their parental authority and the custody of said daughter.


D E C I S I O N


VILLA-REAL, J.:


The instant appeal has been taken by the petitioners, Francisco Salvaña and Modesta Saliendra, from the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Tayabas, the dispositive part of which reads as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Let judgment be rendered dismissing the petition and denying the petitioners the custody of the minor Felicisima Salvaña. A guardian shall be appointed as soon as possible, or upon the filing of the petition announced at the hearing.

"Let this case be placed on file as terminated. So ordered."cralaw virtua1aw library

In support of their appeal the appellants assign the following alleged errors as committed by the trial court, to wit:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"1. The lower court erred in assuming the exclusive control of the trial when the return alleged private authority.

"2. The lower court erred in questioning and consulting the wishes of the child.

"3. The lower court erred in pronouncing the petitioners who are legitimate parents of the minor as unworthy of their trust as her natural guardians, without any hearing at all.

"4. The lower court erred in the application of sections 551 and 553 of Act No. 190 to exercise the judicial discretion in the matter of appointing a legal guardian in favor of the minor.

"5. The trial court also erred in dismissing the application for the writ."cralaw virtua1aw library

This appeal originated with a petition filed by the spouses Francisco Salvaña and Modesta Saliendra in the Court of First Instance of Tayabas to recover the custody of their daughter Felicisima Salvaña, a 15-year old single girl who is in the custody of the respondent and appellee, Leopoldo Gaela, justice of the peace of Lucban, Tayabas.

Having been summoned upon the petition, the respondent filed an answer containing a general denial and a special defense, the ninth paragraph of which reads as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"IX. That the herein respondent has never had the slightest intention of detaining said Felicisima Salvaña and depriving her of her liberty, her stay in the undersigned’s home being due not only to the request of the petitioners herein, but also to that of Felicisima Salvaña, herself, who does not want to live in her parents’ home, because they maltreated her and wished her to marry a certain individual named Andres Laguador, whom she does not care for."cralaw virtua1aw library

At the hearing of the case before Judge Anastacio Teodoro of the Court of First Instance of Tayabas, an informal investigation was made — of which no notes were taken by the official stenographer of said court — questioning the girl and her parents, with a view to obtaining their consent to her marriage to Ambrosio Daza, with whom she had eloped, inasmuch as she was already six months pregnant by said young man.

As his Honor failed of his object, he denied the petition and ordered the appointment of a guardian as soon as possible, or upon the filing of the petition announced at the hearing based upon the following considerations:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Whereas it has been shown that Felicisima Salvaña has chosen the home of respondent Leopoldo Gaela, of her own free will because the latter had only daughters, and the minor Felicisima Salvaña therefore found it convenient for her own interests to remain in said home; and whereas the court is convinced that the petitioners seek by their acts to interfere with the personal liberty of their own daughter by inducing her to make a cruel sacrifice, namely, to marry a man she does not care for, and against her will;

"Let judgment be rendered dismissing the petition and denying the petitioners the custody of the minor Felicisima Salvaña. A guardian shall be appointed as soon as possible, or upon the filing of the petition announced at the hearing."cralaw virtua1aw library

The first question to decide in this appeal is whether habeas corpus will lie for the recovery of the custody of an unemancipated minor daughter who is under the custody of a third person of her own free will.

Section 525 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides that the writ of habeas corpus shall extend to all cases of illegal confinement or detention by which any person is deprived of his liberty, or by which the rightful custody of any person is withheld from the person entitled thereto, except in cases expressly excepted.

Article 154 of the Civil Code provides that the father or, in his default, the mother may exercise parental power over their unemancipated legitimate children; and article 155 imposes upon them the duty of keeping such children in their company, educating and instructing them. Section 553 of the Code of Civil Procedure recognizes this parental power in providing that the parents are the natural guardians of their minor children entitled to their custody and care for their education. (Ibañez de Aldecoa v. Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation, 30 Phil., 228; 246 U.S., 621.)

Since the petitioners-appellants are entitled to the custody of their minor daughter Felicisima Salvaña, they are also entitled to recover her by habeas corpus, in accordance with the provision of section 525 of the Code of Civil Procedure cited above.

Now then, is the fact that the respondent-appellee neither actually detains nor has any intention of detaining the minor, but that she insists upon remaining in his power of her own free will, a hindrance to the issuance of the writ?

In the case of Reyes v. Alvarez (8 Phil., 723), the parents of a girl whom they had confided to the care of the Beaterio de la Compania de Jesus from the age of 2
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