Villavicencio vs. Lukban
ZACARIAS VILLAVICENCIO, ET AL., petitioners,
JUSTO LUKBAN, ET AL., respondents.
39 PHIL 778
March 25, 1919
Respondent Justo Lukban, Mayor of the city of Manila, for the best of all reasons, to exterminate vise, ordered the segregated district for women of ill repute, which had been permitted for a number of years in the City of Manila, closed. The women were kept confined to their houses in the district by the police. At about midnight of October 25, the police, acting pursuant to the orders from the chief of the police and Justo Lukban, descended upon the houses, hustled some 170 inmates into patrol wagons, and placed them aboard the steamers
―Corregidor and ―Negros. They had no knowledge that they were destined for a life in Mindanao. The two steamers with their unwilling passengers sailed for Davao during the night of October 25, 1918.
Whether or not the act of the Mayor of the City of Manila is constitutional.
The Supreme Court condemned the mayor‘s act. Respondent‘s intention to suppress the social evil was commutable. But his methods were unlawful.
Alien prostitutes can be expelled from the Philippines in conformity with an act of Congress. The Governor-General can order the eviction of undesirable aliens after a hearing from the Islands. One can search in vain for any law, order, or regulation, which even hints at the right of the Mayor of the City of Manila or the Chief of Police of that City to force citizens of the Philippine Islands, and these women despite their being in a sense, lepers of society are nevertheless not chattels but Philippine citizens protected by the same constitutional guarantees as other citizens.
Law defines power. The law is the only supreme power in our system of government, and every man who by accepting office participates in its functions is only the more strongly bound to submit to that supremacy, and to observe the limitations which gives itself and imposes upon the exercise of the authority which it gives.
The fundamental rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, considered as individual possessions, are secured by those maxims of constitutional law which are the monuments showing the victorious progress of the race in securing to men the blessings of civilization under the reign of just and equal laws, so that, in the famous language of the Massachusetts Bill of Rights, the government of the commonwealth may be ―government of laws and not of men.
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