In Re: Patterson (G.R. No. 536; January 23, 1902)

In the matter of the application of THOMAS TOYE PATTERSON for a writ of habeas corpus. (G.R. No. 536; January 23, 1902; 001 Phil 93); ARELLANO, C.J.:

The 15th day of October, 1901, Act 265 of the Legislative Commission of the Philippines was promulgated; about the 23d of November following a British subject, Thomas Toye Patterson, arrived at the port of Manila from abroad on board the steamer Yuensang. It appeared in the course of these proceedings that Patterson was a justice of the peace under the Australian Government, and had not lost his official character notwithstanding his residence of ten months in the United States, from whence he had gone to the British colony of Hongkong, and from the latter point proceeded to the port of Manila. Upon being arrested by the Collector of Customs of the Philippine Archipelago twenty-four hours after landing he sued out a writ of habeas corpus, the object of the present decision, to which Mr. W. Morgan Shuster, as such Collector of Customs of the Philippine Archipelago, made return that he had arrested said Patterson because he had reasonable grounds to believe him guilty of some or all of the offenses specified in said law.

Without any intention to prejudge the question, and acting solely upon its desire to permit the most ample discussion after its resolution of the 7th of December the court resolved to allow evidence to be taken in this case, and with this same object in view did not limit any proof whatever which the parties might desire to offer nor bar any allegation upon the question which it pleased them to raise concerning the exclusive competency of that administrative officer in the application of Act 265, the jurisdiction of this court to review a decision of such officer, the nature of the law, its true object and scope, and the authority of the Legislative Commission to pass such a law. After this exhaustive discussion of the case it is now for the court to render its decision.

Unquestionably every State has a fundamental right to its existence and development, as also to the integrity of its territory and the exclusive and peaceable possession of its dominions which it may guard and defend by all possible means against any attack. Upon this fundamental right Act 265 of the Legislative Commission of the Philippines is based. Upon this fundamental principle are based many other laws, among them those concerning immigration, emigration, commerce, and international intercourse. But contrary to the various allegations of the parties, Act 265 is not an emigration law, because it does not purport to regulate the conditions upon which the inhabitants of the territory may leave it; nor is it an immigration law, because it is not limited to the entrance into the territory of those who are foreigners, but refers "to persons coming from abroad, or those who are guilty of coming to the Philippines with a certain purpose," without distinction of nationality; neither is it a law of commerce or international communication, because of the precise and positive character of its object, which is no other than to prevent the entrance of those persons who "have aided, abetted, or instigated an insurrection in these Islands against the sovereignty of the United States therein, or against the Government herein established, or such persons as come here with any of these objects." Consequently the arguments adduced by the parties, with citations of authorities pro or con based upon the supposition that Act 265 is an immigration law, or part of the laws of the United States upon this subject, need not occupy the attention of the court. Nor is there merit in the question raised by the petitioner when he invokes the international treaty between England and the United States — that is to say, the law governing commerce and intercourse between the subjects of both nations — because, as we believe, it is a doctrine generally professed by virtue of that fundamental right to which we have referred that under no aspect of the case does this right of intercourse give rise to any obligation on the part of the State to admit foreigners under all circumstances into its territory. The international community, as Martens says, leaves States at liberty to fix the conditions under which foreigners should be allowed to enter their territory. These conditions may be more or less convenient to foreigners, but they are a legitimate manifestation of territorial power and not contrary to law. In the same way a State possesses the right to expel from its territory any foreigner who does not conform to the provisions of the local law. (Martens’s Treatise on International Law, vol. 1, p. 381.)
Superior to the law which protects personal liberty, and the agreements which exist between nations for their own interest and for the benefit of their respective subjects is the supreme and fundamental right of each State to self-preservation and the integrity of its dominion and its sovereignty. Therefore it is not strange that this right should be exercised in a sovereign manner by the executive power, to which is especially entrusted in the very nature of things the preservation of so essential a right without interference on the part of the judicial power. If it can not be denied that under normal circumstances when foreigners are present in the country the sovereign power has the right to take all necessary precautions to prevent such foreigners from imperiling the public safety, and to apply repressive measures in case they should abuse the hospitality extended them, neither can we shut our eyes to the fact that there may be danger to personal liberty and international liberty if to the executive branch of the Government there should be conceded absolutely the power to order the expulsion of foreigners by means of summary and discretional proceedings; nevertheless, the greater part of modern laws, notwithstanding these objections, have sanctioned the maxim that the expulsion of foreigners is a political measure and that the executive power may expel without appeal any person whose presence tends to disturb the public peace. The privilege of foreigners to enter the territory of a State for the purpose of traveling through or remaining therein being recognized on principle, we must also recognize the right of the State under exceptional circumstances to limit this privilege upon the ground of public policy, and in all cases preserve the obligation of the foreigner to subject himself to the provisions of the local law concerning his entry into and his presence in the territory of each State.

The abnormal conditions prevailing in some provinces of this new territory of the United States are known as a fact to the whole world. Act 265, as a political measure, seeks to prevent all classes of agitators, even citizens, from aggravating or extending the disturbance which still exists, much reduced, in certain parts of the Archipelago. Under these circumstances the Government exercising in a sovereign and efficacious manner this attribute of executive power has authorized an administrative officer to prevent the entrance into the country of persons from abroad whom he has reasonable grounds to believe guilty of having aided, abetted, or instigated insurrection, or whom he suspects of coming to the Philippines with that purpose. The power conferred in these terms upon this executive officer is discretional. Hence, his act is presumed to be based upon reasonable grounds for believing certain persons guilty of the acts or of an intention to commit the acts defined by the law. So the law must be understood in accordance with the principles established by the highest court of the nation in a decision rendered in the case of Nishimura Ekiu v. United States (142 U. S.) , in which Mr. Justice Gray uses the following:

"But, on the other hand, the final determination of those facts may be entrusted by Congress to executive officers; and in such a case, as in all others, in which a statute gives a discretionary power to an officer, to be exercised by him upon his own opinion of certain facts, he is made the sole and exclusive judge of the existence of those facts, and no other tribunal, unless expressly authorized by law to do so, is at liberty to examine or controvert the sufficiency of the evidence on which he acted."

Because the law has used the term "reasonable grounds" it is not to be inferred that his executive officer is required to show the reason for his grounds of belief to a court of justice; what the law desires to impress upon him is the idea that he is not to proceed arbitrarily but with discretion — that is, honestly, tactfully, and prudently.

The exhaustive argument which the court has heard is due to its urgent desire not to consider as a proper application of the law that which is not such in reality, and that there should not result a breach of constitutional or international law; but nothing of this kind has been demonstrated in this ample and wide discussion and argument.

To hold that because Thomas Toye Patterson succeeded in landing when the law forbids his landing the State thereby lost its right to reembark him and deport him from the territory would be similar to saying that in case a quarantine law has prohibited the landing of a person suffering from a contagious disease should such person succeed in landing the State has lost all right of deporting him and freeing itself from the danger of contagion.

It has been alleged that the Legislative Commission has no power to pass such a law; but the law has been passed, and against its operation there is nothing to oppose. We know of no law violated or right infringed by the existence of a law which advances the welfare of the people, the supreme law of all affairs of life.

We therefore deny the application of Thomas Toye Patterson for discharge, and he will be remanded to the custody of Mr. W. Morgan Shuster, Collector of Customs of the Philippine Archipelago, with the costs to Patterson, and it is so ordered.