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Human Rights Law Case Digest: Mejoff v. Director of Prisons (1949)

G.R. No. L-2855             July 30, 1949

Lessons Applicable:  characteristics of human rights, constitutional guarantee that no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law,

Laws Applicable: Bill of Rights

  • Boris Mejoff, an alien of Russian descent who was brought to this country from Shanghai as a secret operative by the Japanese forces during the latter's regime in these Islands. 
  • He was arrested on March 18, 1948 as a Japanese spy, by U. S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps. and later there was an order for his release.  
  • But on April 5, 1948, the Board of Commissioners of Immigration declared that Mejoff had entered the Philippines illegally in 1944 and ordered that he be deported on the first available transportation to Russia. 
  • He was transferred to Cebu Provincial Jail and then Bilibid Prison at Muntinlupa on October, 1948.
  • He then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus on the basis that too long a detention may justify the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus
ISSUE: W/N the writ of habeas corpus should be granted since he was detained longer than a reasonable time

HELD: NO. Denied.
  • The meaning of "reasonable time" depends upon the circumstances, specially the difficulties of obtaining a passport, the availability of transportation, the diplomatic arrangements concerned and the efforts displayed to send the deportee away.
    • Considering that this Government desires to expel the alien, and does not relish keeping him at the people's expense, we must presume it is making efforts to carry out the decree of exclusion by the highest officer of the land. On top of this presumption assurances were made during the oral argument that the Government is really trying to expedite the expulsion of this petitioner.
  • On the other hand, the record fails to show how long he has been under confinement since the last time he was apprehended. Neither does he indicate neglected opportunities to send him abroad. And unless it is shown that the deportee is being indefinitely imprisoned under the pretense of awaiting a chance for deportation or unless the Government admits that it cannot deport him or unless the detainee is being held for too long a period our courts will not interfere.
  •  Nevertheless, supposing such precedents apply in this jurisdiction, still we have no sufficient data fairly to fix a definite deadline.
PERFECTO, J., dissenting: The constitutional guarantee that no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law has been intended to protect all inhabitants or residents who may happen to be under the shadows of Philippine flag.