G.R. No. 139789, 12 May 2000


Potenciano Ilusorio, a lawyer, 86 year old of age, possessed extensive property valued at millions of pesos. For many years, he was the Chairman of the Board and President of Baguio Country Club. He was married with Erlinda Ilusorio, herein petitioner, for 30 years and begotten 6 children namely Ramon, Lin Illusorio-Bildner (defendant), Maximo, Sylvia, Marietta and Shereen. They separated from bed and board in 1972. Potenciano lived at Makati every time he was in Manila and at Illusorio Penthouse, Baguio Country Club when he was in Baguio City. On the other hand, the petitioner lived in Antipolo City.

In 1997, upon Potenciano’s arrival from US, he stayed with her wife for about 5 months in Antipolo city. The children, Sylvia and Lin, alleged that during this time their mother overdose Potenciano which caused the latter’s health to deteriorate. In February 1998, Erlinda filed with RTC petition for guardianship over the person and property of Potenciano due to the latter’s advanced age, frail health, poor eyesight and impaired judgment. In May 1998, after attending a corporate meeting in Baguio, Potenciano did not return to Antipolo instead lived at Cleveland Condominium in Makati. In March 1999, petitioner filed with CA petition for habeas corpus to have the custody of his husband alleging that the respondents refused her demands to see and visit her husband and prohibited Potenciano from returning to Antipolo.


Whether or not the petitioned writ of habeas corpus should be issued.


A writ of habeas corpus extends to all cases of illegal confinement or detention, 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.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.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.

Evidence showed that there was no actual and effective detention or deprivation of Potenciano’s liberty that would justify issuance of the writ. The fact that the latter was 86 years of age and under medication does not necessarily render him mentally incapacitated. He still has the capacity to discern his actions. With his full mental capacity having the right of choice, he may not be the subject of visitation rights against his free choice. Otherwise, he will be deprived of his right to privacy.

The case at bar does not involve the right of a parent to visit a minor child but the right of a wife to visit a husband. In any event, that the husband refuses to see his wife for private reasons, he is at liberty to do so without threat or any penalty attached to the exercise of his right. Coverture is a matter beyond judicial authority and cannot be enforced by compulsion of a writ of habeas corpus carried out by the sheriffs or by any other process.

* Case digest by Aisha Mie Faith M.Fernandez, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018