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G.R. No.

L-5 September 17, 1945


CO KIM CHAM (alias CO KIM CHAM), petitioner,
vs.
EUSEBIO VALDEZ TAN KEH and ARSENIO P. DIZON, Judge of First Instance of Manila,
respondents.

Doctrine:

Facts:
Co Kim Cham had a pending civil case with the RTC of Manila which was instituted during the
Japanese military occupation. However, Judge Arsenio Dizon refused to continue the proceedings
claiming that MacArthur’s proclamation of Philippine liberation (and being subject to US authority)
had the effect of invalidating and nullifying all judicial proceedings and judgments of the courts
under the Philippine Executive Commission established during the Japanese military occupation.
And furthermore, the lower courts have no jurisdiction to take cognizance of and continue judicial
proceedings pending in the courts of the defunct Republic of the Philippines in the absence of an
enabling law granting such authority.

Issue:
(1) Whether under the rules of international law, the judicial proceedings and decisions
made during the Japanese occupation were valid and remained valid even after the
Japanese occupation;
(2) Whether the proclamation declaring that “all laws, regulations and processes of any
other government in the Philippines than that of the said Commonwealth are null and
void and without legal effect in areas of the Philippines free of enemy occupation and
control” invalidated all judgments and judicial acts and proceedings of the courts;
(3) And whether if such were not invalidated, by the proclamation, the said courts can
continue the proceedings pending before them.

Ruling:

(1) Yes. It is a legal truism in political and international law that all acts and proceedings of
the legislative, executive, and judicial departments of a de facto government are good
and valid.

What needs to be established is whether the governments established were de facto


governments. If they were, the judicial acts and proceedings of those governments
remain good and valid even after the liberation or reoccupation of the Philippines by the
American and Filipino forces.

The Philippine Executive Commission and the Republic of the Philippines under the
Japanese occupation may be considered de facto governments, supported by the
military force and deriving their authority from the laws of war.
(2) Yes. According to the well-known principles of international law all judgements and
judicial proceedings, which are not of a political complexion, of the de facto
governments during the Japanese military occupation were good and valid before and
remained so after the occupied territory had been liberated and it could not have been,
the intention of General Douglas MacArthur, in using the phrase "processes of any other
government" in said proclamation, to refer to judicial processes, in violation of said
principles of international law.

The only reasonable construction of the said phrase is that it refers to governmental
processes other than judicial processes of court proceedings, for according to a well-
known rule of statutory construction , "a statute ought never to be construed to violate
the law of nations if any other possible construction remains.”

(3) Yes.

In theory, the authority of the local civil and judicial administration is suspended as soon
as military occupation takes place, but in practice the invader does not usually take the
administration of justice into his own hands, but continues the ordinary courts or
tribunals to administer the laws of the country which he is enjoined, unless absolutely
prevented, to respect.

In the case of US vs Reiter, the court said that if such laws and institutions are
continued in use by the occupant, they become his and derive their force from him. The
laws and courts of the Philippines did not become, by being continued as required by
the law of nations, laws and courts of Japan.

It is a legal maxim that, excepting of a political nature, “law once established continues
until changed by some competent legislative power. It is not changed merely by change
of sovereignty.” Until, of course, the new sovereign by legislative act creates a change.

Therefore, even assuming that Japan legally acquired sovereignty over the Philippines,
and the laws and courts of the Philippines had become courts of Japan, as the said
courts and laws creating and conferring jurisdiction upon them have continued in force
until now, it follows that the same courts may continue exercising the same jurisdiction
over cases pending therein before the restoration of the Commonwealth Government,
until abolished or the laws creating and conferring jurisdiction upon them are repealed
by the said government.