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CO KIM CHAM VS VALDEZ TAN KEH

G.R. No. L-5 75 Phil 113, 122 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.

Facts:

Petitioner Co Kim Cham had a pending Civil Case with the Court of First Instance of Manila initiated
during the time of the Japanese occupation.

The respondent judge, Judge Arsenio Dizon, refused to continue hearings on the case which were
initiated during the Japanese military occupation on the ground that the proclamation issued by
General MacArthur 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” had the effect of invalidating and nullifying all
judicial proceedings and judgments of the court of the Philippines during the Japanese military
occupation, and that 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.

Respondent, additionally contends that the government established during the Japanese occupation
were no de facto government.

Issues:

1. Whether or not judicial acts and proceedings of the court made during the Japanese
occupation were valid and remained valid even after the liberation or reoccupation of the
Philippines by the United States and Filipino forces.
2. Whether or not the October 23, 1944 proclamation issued by General MacArthur 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” has invalidated all judgments and judicial acts and proceedings
of the courts.
3. Whether or not those courts could continue hearing the cases pending before them, if the
said judicial acts and proceedings were not invalidated by MacArthur’s proclamation.

Discussions:
 Political and international law recognizes that all acts and proceedings of a de facto
government are good and valid. 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. The doctrine upon this
subject is thus summed up by Halleck, in his work on International Law (Vol. 2, p. 444): “The right
of one belligerent to occupy and govern the territory of the enemy while in its military
possession, is one of the incidents of war, and flows directly from the right to conquer. We,
therefore, do not look to the Constitution or political institutions of the conqueror, for authority
to establish a government for the territory of the enemy in his possession, during its military
occupation, nor for the rules by which the powers of such government are regulated and limited.
Such authority and such rules are derived directly from the laws war, as established by the usage
of the world, and confirmed by the writings of publicists and decisions of courts — in fine, from
the law of nations. . . . The municipal laws of a conquered territory, or the laws which regulate
private rights, continue in force during military occupation, excepts so far as they are suspended
or changed by the acts of conqueror. . . . He, nevertheless, has all the powers of a de
facto government, and can at his pleasure either change the existing laws or make new ones.”
 General MacArthur annulled proceedings of other governments in his proclamation October
23, 1944, but this cannot be applied on judicial proceedings because such a construction would
violate the law of nations.
 If the proceedings pending in the different courts of the Islands prior to the Japanese military
occupation had been continued during the Japanese military administration, the Philippine
Executive Commission, and the so-called Republic of the Philippines, it stands to reason that the
same courts, which had become re-established and conceived of as having in continued existence
upon the reoccupation and liberation of the Philippines by virtue of the principle of postliminy
(Hall, International Law, 7th ed., p. 516), may continue the proceedings in cases then pending in
said courts, without necessity of enacting a law conferring jurisdiction upon them to continue said
proceedings. As Taylor graphically points out in speaking of said principles “a state or other
governmental entity, upon the removal of a foreign military force, resumes its old place with its
right and duties substantially unimpaired. . . . Such political resurrection is the result of a law
analogous to that which enables elastic bodies to regain their original shape upon removal of the
external force, — and subject to the same exception in case of absolute crushing of the whole
fibre and content.”