No person shall be imprisoned for debt or non-payment of a poll tax. (Section 20, Article III, 1987 Constitution)
Abolition of imprisonment for debt was brought about by the force of public opinion which looked with abhorrence on statutory provision which permitted the cruel imprisonment of debtors. The people sought to prevent the use of the power of the State to coerce the payment of debts. The control of the creditor over the person of his debtor was abolished by human statutory and constitutional provisions. (Ganaway v. Quillen, G.R. No. L-18619, 20 February 1922)
The “debt” intended to be covered by the constitutional guaranty has a well-defined meaning. Organic provisions relieving from imprisonment for debt, were intended to prevent the commitment for debtors to prison for liabilities arising from actions ex contractu. The inhibition was never meant to conclude damages arising in actions ex delicto, for the reason that the damages recoverable therein do not arise from any contract entered into between the parties, but are imposed upon the defendant for the wrong he has done and are considered as a punishment therefor, nor to fines and penaltie...
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