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Jun 22, 2008

56 SCRA 16 (1974)

  • Power of Acting Commissioner of Customs to issue a warrant of seizure and detention


Respondent Ricardo Santos is the owner of a Mercury automobile, model 1957, brought into the country without payment of customs duty and taxes because its original owner, Donald James Hatch, was tax-exempt. Santos later on paid P311.00 for customs duty and taxes.

On July 22, 1964, Acting Collector of Customs Pedro Pacis was informed by the General Affairs Administration of the Department of National Defense that the automobile was a “hot car.” By virtue thereof, Pacis, through his subordinates, looked into the records of his office and found that although the amount of P311.00 was already paid for customs duty, the amount collectible on the said car should be P2,500.00, more or less.

Based on such discrepancy, he instituted seizure proceedings and issued a warrant of seizure and detention. The automobile was also taken by the Department of National Defense agents and brought to the General Affairs Administration for compound.

In answer, Santos filed a criminal complaint against Pacis for usurpation of judicial functions with the City Fiscal of Manila, Manuel Pamaran, alleging that Pacis did not have authority to issue such warrant of seizure and detention.


  • W/N petitioner, in the discharge of his official function, lay himself open to a criminal prosecution for usurpation of judicial functions


It is undeniable that petitioner, as Acting Collector of Customs for the Port of Manila, had the requisite authority for the issuance of the contested warrant of seizure and detention for the automobile owned by respondent Ricardo Santos. What was done by him certainly could not be the basis of a prosecution for the usurpation of judicial functions. The remedy of prohibition lies.


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