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FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 139789. May 12, 2000.]

ERLINDA K. ILUSORIO, Petitioner, v. ERLINDA I. BILDNER and SYLVIA K.


ILUSORIO, JOHN DOE and JANE DOE, Respondents.

[G.R. No. 139808. May 12, 2000.]

POTENCIANO ILUSORIO, MA. ERLINDA I. BILDNER, and SYLVIA


ILUSORIO, Petitioner, v. COURT OF APPEALS and ERLINDA K.
ILUSORIO, Respondents.

DECISION

PARDO, J.:

May a wife secure a writ of habeas corpus to compel her husband to live with her in conjugal
bliss? The answer is no. Marital rights including coverture and living in conjugal dwelling may
not be enforced by the extra-ordinary writ of habeas corpus.chanrobles.com :
chanrobles.com.ph

A writ of habeas corpus extends to all cases of illegal confinement or detention, 1 or by which
the rightful custody of a person is withheld from the one entitled thereto. 2

"Habeas corpus is a writ directed to the person detaining another, commanding him to
produce the body of the prisoner at a designated time and place, with the day and cause of
his capture and detention, to do, submit to, and receive whatsoever the court or judge
awarding the writ shall consider in that behalf." 3

It is a high prerogative, common-law writ, of ancient origin, the great object of which is the
liberation of those who may be imprisoned without sufficient cause. 4 It is issued when one is
deprived of liberty or is wrongfully prevented from exercising legal custody over another
person. 5

The petition of Erlinda K. Ilusorio 6 is to reverse the decision 7 of the Court of Appeals and its
resolution 8 dismissing the application for habeas corpus to have the custody of her husband,
lawyer Potenciano Ilusorio and enforce consortium as the wife.

On the other hand, the petition of Potenciano Ilusorio 9 is to annul that portion of the decision
of the Court of Appeals giving Erlinda K. Ilusorio visitation rights to her husband and to enjoin
Erlinda and the Court of Appeals from enforcing the visitation rights.

The undisputed facts are as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Erlinda Kalaw Ilusorio is the wife of lawyer Potenciano Ilusorio.

Potenciano Ilusorio is about 86 years of age possessed of extensive property valued at


millions of pesos. For many years, lawyer Potenciano Ilusorio was Chairman of the Board and
President of Baguio Country Club.
On July 11, 1942, Erlinda Kalaw and Potenciano Ilusorio contracted matrimony and lived
together for a period of thirty (30) years. In 1972, they separated from bed and board for
undisclosed reasons. Potenciano lived at Urdaneta Condominium, Ayala Ave., Makati City
when he was in Manila and at Ilusorio Penthouse, Baguio Country Club when he was in
Baguio City. On the other hand, Erlinda lived in Antipolo City.

Out of their marriage, the spouses had six (6) children, namely: Ramon Ilusorio (age 55);
Erlinda Ilusorio Bildner (age 52); Maximo (age 50); Sylvia (age 49); Marietta (age 48); and
Shereen (age 39).

On December 30, 1997, upon Potenciano’s arrival from the United States, he stayed with
Erlinda for about five (5) months in Antipolo City. The children, Sylvia and Erlinda (Lin),
alleged that during this time, their mother gave Potenciano an overdose of 200 mg instead of
100 mg Zoloft, an antidepressant drug prescribed by his doctor in New York, U.S.A. As a
consequence, Potenciano’s health deteriorated.

On February 25, 1998, Erlinda filed with the Regional Trial Court, Antipolo City a petition 10
for guardianship over the person and property of Potenciano Ilusorio due to the latter’s
advanced age, frail health, poor eyesight and impaired judgment.

On May 31, 1998, after attending a corporate meeting in Baguio City, Potenciano Ilusorio did
not return to Antipolo City and instead lived at Cleveland Condominium, Makati.

On March 11, 1999, Erlinda filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for habeas corpus to
have the custody of lawyer Potenciano Ilusorio. She alleged that respondents 11 refused
petitioner’s demands to see and visit her husband and prohibited Potenciano from returning
to Antipolo City.

After due hearing, on April 5, 1999, the Court of Appeals rendered decision the dispositive
portion of which reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing disquisitions, judgment is hereby


rendered:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"(1) Ordering, for humanitarian consideration and upon petitioner’s manifestation,


respondents Erlinda K. Ilusorio Bildner and Sylvia Ilusorio-Yap, the administrator of Cleveland
Condominium or anywhere in its place, his guards and Potenciano Ilusorio’s staff especially
Ms. Aurora Montemayor to allow visitation rights to Potenciano Ilusorio’s wife, Erlinda Ilusorio
and all her children, notwithstanding any list limiting visitors thereof, under penalty of
contempt in case of violation of refusal thereof; . . .

"(2) ORDERING that the writ of habeas corpus previously issued be recalled and the herein
petition for habeas corpus be DENIED DUE COURSE, as it is hereby DISMISSED for lack of
unlawful restraint or detention of the subject of the petition.

"SO ORDERED." 12

Hence, the two petitions, which were consolidated and are herein jointly decided.

As heretofore stated, a writ of habeas corpus extends to all cases of illegal confinement or
detention, 13 or by which the rightful custody of a person is withheld from the one entitled
thereto. It is available where a person continues to be unlawfully denied of one or more of his
constitutional freedoms, where there is denial of due process, where the restraints are not
merely involuntary but are unnecessary, and where a deprivation of freedom originally valid
has later become arbitrary. 14 It is devised as a speedy and effectual remedy to relieve
persons from unlawful restraint, as the best and only sufficient defense of personal freedom.
15

The essential object and purpose of the writ of habeas corpus is to inquire into all manner of
involuntary restraint, and to relieve a person therefrom if such restraint is illegal. 16

To justify the grant of the petition, the restraint of liberty must be an illegal and involuntary
deprivation of freedom of action. 17 The illegal restraint of liberty must be actual and
effective, not merely nominal or moral. 18

The evidence shows that there was no actual and effective detention or deprivation of lawyer
Potenciano Ilusorio’s liberty that would justify the issuance of the writ. The fact that lawyer
Potenciano Ilusorio is about 86 years of age, or under medication does not necessarily render
him mentally incapacitated. Soundness of mind does not hinge on age or medical condition
but on the capacity of the individual to discern his actions.chanrobles.com : law library

After due hearing, the Court of Appeals concluded that there was no unlawful restraint on his
liberty.

The Court of Appeals also observed that lawyer Potenciano Ilusorio did not request the
administrator of the Cleveland Condominium not to allow his wife and other children from
seeing or visiting him. He made it clear that he did not object to seeing them.

As to lawyer Potenciano Ilusorio’s mental state, the Court of Appeals observed that he was of
sound and alert mind, having answered all the relevant questions to the satisfaction of the
court.

Being of sound mind, he is thus possessed with the capacity to make choices. In this case,
the crucial choices revolve on his residence and the people he opts to see or live with. The
choices he made may not appeal to some of his family members but these are choices which
exclusively belong to Potenciano. He made it clear before the Court of Appeals that he was
not prevented from leaving his house or seeing people. With that declaration, and absent any
true restraint on his liberty, we have no reason to reverse the findings of the Court of
Appeals.

With his full mental capacity coupled with the right of choice, Potenciano Ilusorio may not be
the subject of visitation rights against his free choice. Otherwise, we will deprive him of his
right to privacy. Needless to say, this will run against his fundamental constitutional right.

The Court of Appeals exceeded its authority when it awarded visitation rights in a petition for
habeas corpus where Erlinda never even prayed for such right. The ruling is not consistent
with the finding of subject’s sanity.

When the court ordered the grant of visitation rights, it also emphasized that the same shall
be enforced under penalty of contempt in case of violation or refusal to comply. Such
assertion of raw, naked power is unnecessary.

The Court of Appeals missed the fact that the case did not involve the right of a parent to
visit a minor child but the right of a wife to visit a husband. In case the husband refuses to
see his wife for private reasons, he is at liberty to do so without threat of any penalty
attached to the exercise of his right.

No court is empowered as a judicial authority to compel a husband to live with his wife.
Coverture cannot be enforced by compulsion of a writ of habeas corpus carried out by sheriffs
or by any other mesne process. That is a matter beyond judicial authority and is best left to
the man and woman’s free choice.

WHEREFORE, in G. R. No. 139789, the Court DISMISSES the petition for lack of merit. No
costs.

In G. R. No. 139808, the Court GRANTS the petition and nullifies the decision of the Court of
Appeals insofar as it gives visitation rights to respondent Erlinda K. Ilusorio. No costs.

SO ORDERED.chanrobles.com : chanrobles.com.ph

Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Kapunan and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.


RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF SPOUSES
ILUSORIO vs. BILDNER
G.R. No. 139789 May 12,
2000

Facts:
Erlinda Kalaw and Potenciano Ilusorio contracted matrimony and
lived together for a period of thirty years. Out of their marriage, the spouses
had six children. In 1972, they separated from bed and board for
undisclosed reasons. Potenciano lived in Makati when he was in Manila and
in Ilusorio penthouse when he was in Baguio City. On the other hand,
Erlinda lived in Antipolo City. When Potenciano arrived from United States
and lived with Erlinda in Antipolo City for five months. The children, Sylvia
and Lin, alleged that their mother overdosed their father with an
antidepressant drug which the latter’s health deteriorated. Erlinda filed
with RTC of Antipolo City a petition for guardianship over the person and
property of her husband due to the latter’s advanced age, frail health, poor
eyesight and impaired judgment. Potenciano did not return to Antipolo City
and instead lived in a condominium in Makati City after attending a
corporate meeting in Baguio City. With these, Erlinda filed with CA a
petition for habeas corpus to have custody of her husband and also for the
reason that respondent refused petitioner’s demands to see and visit her
husband and prohibiting Potenciano from living with her in Antipolo City.

Issue:
Whether or not Erlinda Ilusorio may secure a writ of habeas corpus to
compel her husband to live with her in conjugal bliss.

Ruling:
The essential object and purpose of the writ of habeas corpus is to
inquire into all manner of involuntary restraint, and to relieve a person
there from if such restraint is illegal. To justify the grant of the petition, the
restraint of liberty must be an illegal and involuntary deprivation of freedom
of action. The illegal restraint of liberty must be actual and effective, not
merely nominal or moral. No court is empowered as a judicial authority to
compel a husband to live with his wife. Coverture cannot be enforced by
compulsion of a writ of habeas corpus carried out by sheriffs or by any other
means process. That is a matter beyond judicial authority and is best left to
the man and woman’s free choice. Therefore, a petition for writ of habeas
corpus is denied.
----------------
May a wife secure a writ of habeas corpus to compel her husband to live with her in conjugal
bliss? The answer is no. Marital rights including coverture and living in conjugal dwelling may
not be enforced by the extra-ordinary writ of habeas corpus.

No court is empowered as a judicial authority to compel a husband to live with his wife.