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G.R. No. 89139
August 2, 1990

While conducting a surveillance along Magallanes Street, Davao City
on October 16, 1986, Pat. Ursicio Ungab and Pat. Umbre Umpar, both
members of the Integrated National Police (INP) of the Davao Metrodiscom,
assigned to Intelligence Task Force, spotted petitioner acting suspiciously and
carrying a buri bag. The two approached the petitioner and identified
themselves as members of INP. Petitioner attempted to flee but was thwarted
by the two notwithstanding of his resistance.
Upon searching the buri bag carried by the petitioner, the following
items were found: one (1) caliber .38 Smith & Wesson revolver with Serial No.
770196, two (2) rounds of ammunition for .38 caliber gun, a smoke (tear gas)
grenade, and two (2) live ammunitions for a .22 caliber gun. An information
for Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunitions was filed before the
Regional Trial Court of Davao City, which found the petitioner guilty.
1.) Whether or not, the items which were confiscated from the
possession of the petitioner are inadmissible in evidence against him, there
being no lawful arrest and seizure.
Petition denied. Under Section 5, of Rule 113 of the 1985 Rules on
Criminal Procedure, it is clear that an arrest without a warrant may be
effected by a peace officer or private person, among others, when in his
presence the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or
is attempting to commit an offense; or when an offense has in fact just been
committed, and he has personal knowledge of the facts indicating that the
person arrested has committed it.
Not all searches and seizures are prohibited. Those which are
reasonable are not forbidden. A reasonable search is not to be determined by
any fixed formula but is to be resolved according to the facts of each case.
Between the inherent right of the state to protect its existence and promote
public welfare and an individual's right against a warrantless search which is
however reasonably conducted, the former should prevail.
Thus, as between a warrantless search and seizure conducted at
military or police checkpoints and the search thereat in the case at bar, there
is no question that, indeed, the latter is more reasonable considering that
unlike in the former, it was effected on the basis of a probable cause. The
probable cause is that when the petitioner acted suspiciously and attempted
to flee with the buri bag there was a probable cause that he was concealing
something illegal in the bag and it was the right and duty of the police
officers to inspect the same.
It is too much indeed to require the police officers to search the bag in
the possession of the petitioner only after they shall have obtained a search
warrant for the purpose. Such an exercise may prove to be useless, futile and
much too late. Hence, the constitutional guarantee against unreasonable
searches and seizure has not been violated.


G.R. No. L-41686, November 17, 1980
Spurred by information given by an undisclosed informer one week
before February 9, 1974, that a shipment of highly dutiable goods would be
transported to Manila from Angeles City on a blue Dodge car, agents of the
Regional Anti-Smuggling Action Center, stationed themselves in the vicinity of
the toll gate at North Diversion Road at Balintawak, Quezon City.
On the same day, a light blue Dodge car appeared driven by Sgt. Jessie
Hope who was accompanied by Monina Medina. The RASAC agents gave
chase and overtook Sgt. Hopes car and found four (4) boxes. Upon
conducting a search, it was found out that it contains wrist watches of
assorted brands.
As a consequence thereof, ASAC Chairman General Pelagio Cruz
requested the Bureau of Customs to issue a Warrant of Seizure and Detention
against the articles in the Dodge Car, which was issued on February 12, 1974.
It was admitted, however, that when the apprehending agents arrested
respondents and brought them together with the seized articles to the ASAC
Office in Camp Aguinaldo, the former were not armed with a warrant of arrest
and seizure.
Subsequently, after the requisite preliminary investigation, a complaint
for Criminal Case No. Q-3781 was filed before the Regional Trial Court of Rizal,
which rendered a decision in favor of the respondents. Prosecution filed for a
motion for reconsideration which was denied. Hence, the instant petition.
1.) Whether or not the seizure of the merchandise in a moving vehicle
by authorized agents commissioned to enforce customs laws without warrant
of seizure breaches the constitutional immunity against unreasonable search
and seizure and therefore, such merchandise are INADMISSIBLE in evidence.
The court find for the petitioner. The opposing counsel's attempt to
draw an Identity between the seizure cases and the present criminal action to
the ultimate end that the decision in the former should be made decisive of
the issue of criminal liability must be overruled. It is not accurate to say that
the Collector of Customs made no findings that the articles were smuggled. In
fact, what the Collector stated was that the prosecution failed to present the
quantum of evidence sufficient to warrant the forfeiture of the subject
In a general sense, this does not necessarily exclude the possibility of
smuggling. But if the aim of a confirmation that the goods are indeed
smuggled, is to draw an inference to tie up respondents' criminal liability, the
Collector is not duty bound, nor is there any need for him to arrive at such a
conclusion. It is quite clear that seizure and forfeiture proceedings under the
tariff and customs laws are not criminal in nature as they do not result in the
conviction of the offender nor in the imposition of the penalty.
Seizure proceedings, such as those instituted in this case, are purely
civil and administrative in character, the main purpose of which is to enforce
the administrative fines or forfeiture incident to unlawful importation of goods
or their deliberate possession. The penalty in seizure cases is distinct and

separate from the criminal liability that might be imposed against the
indicted importer or possessor and both kinds of penalties may be imposed.
Citing the case of Papa vs. Mago, the court enunciated the doctrine
that except in the case of the search of a dwelling house, persons exercising
police authority under the customs law may effect search and seizure without
a search warrant in the enforcement of customs laws. The rationale of the
Mago ruling was nurtured by the traditional doctrine in Carroll v. United
States wherein an imprimatur against constitutional infirmity was stamped in
favor of a warrantless search and seizure of such nature as in the case at bar.
Under the Carroll doctrine, searches and seizures without warrant are valid if
made upon probable cause, that is, upon a belief reasonably arising out of
circumstances known to the seizing officer, that an automobile or other
vehicle contains that which by law is subject to seizure and destruction.
On this stable foundation We refute the constitutional charge of
respondents that the warrantless seizure violated Article IV, Section 3 of the
1973 Constitution, which finds origin in the Fourth Amendment of the
American Constitution.
The purpose of the constitutional guarantee against unreasonable
searches and seizures is to prevent violations of private security in person
and property and unlawful invasion of the sanctity of the home by officers of
the law acting under legislative or judicial sanction and to give remedy
against such usurpation when attempted.
The right to privacy is an essential condition to the dignity and
happiness and to the peace and security of every individual, whether it be of
home or of persons and correspondence. 15 The constitutional inviolability of
this great fundamental right against unreasonable searches and seizures
must be deemed absolute as nothing is more closer to a man's soul than the
serenity of his privacy and the assurance of his personal security. Any
interference allowable can only be for the best of causes and reasons.
Petition granted.


G.R. No. 84960
September 1, 1989
On December 4, 1985, at about 3:00 Oclock in the afternoon, an
informant went to the office of the First Narcotics Regional Unit in Baguio City
giving an information that selling of marijuana was rampant in Wright Park,
Baguio City and that appellant was involved in said trafficking of marijuana.
Acting on the information, a team was formed and instructed to
conduct a buy-bust operation against appellant which resulted to his
apprehension, wherein two bags of 3,500 grams of marijuana were
confiscated from him. An information for violation of Sec. 21 (b) in relation to
Sec. 4 of R.A. 6425 before the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City, which found
the accused guilty. Hence, the instant petition.
1.) Whether or not the trial court erred in holding that the scheme
employed by the narcom agents was merely an entrapment operation and
not one which induced the accused to a commission of an offense, the latter
being an absolutory circumstance;
2.) Whether or not the trial court erred in convicting the accused on
the basis of evidence obtained in violation of Section 2, Article III of the 1987
On the first issue, the court held in the negative. Appellant's contention
that the scheme used by the NARCOM agents was instigation and not
entrapment is without merit. This is a bare allegation not borne by evidence
on the part of the accused. In an entrapment, ways and means are resorted
to for the purpose of trapping and capturing the law breakers in the execution
of their criminal plan; whereas in instigation, the instigator practically induces
the would-be defendant into the commission of the offense and he himself
becomes a co- principal. There is no such inducement in the case before us.
In the first place, the police officers did not know the petitioner beforehand.
There is no reason for the NARCOM agents to induce appellant to violate the
law. There is nothing in the records which could explain why the prosecution
witnesses would fabricate their testimonies and implicate appellant in such a
serious crime. The principal prosecution witnesses are all law enforcers, and
are therefore, presumed to have regularly performed their duty in the
absence of proof to the contrary.
On the second issue, again the court held in the negative. The rule that
a search and seizure must be supported by a valid warrant is not an absolute
one. There are recognized exceptions to the rule among them, 1) a search
incidental to an arrest; 2) a search of a moving vehicle; and 3) the seizure of
evidence in plain view. A search and seizure without a warrant is allowed in
buy-bust operations, the circumstances being among those which can be

considered exceptional. The accused, in this case, was caught red-handed

while pushing marijuana. Hence, he could be lawfully arrested and searched.
Petition denied.


G.R. No. L-27360
February 28, 1968
Petitioner Martin Alagao, head of the counter-intelligence unit of the
Manila Police Department, acting upon a reliable information received on
November 3, 1966 to the effect that a certain shipment of personal effects,
allegedly misdeclared and undervalued, would be released the following day
from the customs zone of the port of Manila and loaded on two trucks, and
upon orders of petitioner Ricardo Papa, Chief of Police of Manila and a duly
deputized agent of the Bureau of Customs, conducted surveillance at gate
No. 1 of the customs zone. When the trucks left gate No. 1 at about 4:30 in
the afternoon of November 4, 1966, elements of the counter-intelligence unit
went after the trucks and intercepted them at the Agrifina Circle, Ermita,
Manila. The load of the two trucks consisting of nine bales of goods, and the
two trucks, were seized on instructions of the Chief of Police. Upon
investigation, a person claimed ownership of the goods and showed to the
policemen a "Statement and Receipts of Duties Collected in Informal Entry
No. 147-5501", issued by the Bureau of Customs in the name of a certain
Bienvenido Naguit.
Feeling aggrieved, Remedios Mago filed before the Court of First
Instance of Manila a petition for mandamus with restraining order or
preliminary injunction. Respondent Judge, issued an order ex parte restraining
the respondents in Civil Case no. 67496 from opening the nine bales in
question. However, when the restraining order was received by herein
petitioners, some bales had already been opened by the examiners of the
Bureau of Customs in the presence of officials of the Manila Police
Department, an assistant city fiscal and a representative of herein
respondent Remedios Mago.
Respondent Judge issued an order releasing the goods to herein
respondent Remedios Mago upon her filing of a bond. Herein petitioner
Ricardo Papa, on his own behalf, filed a motion for reconsideration of the
order of the court releasing the goods under bond, upon the ground that the
Manila Police Department had been directed by the Collector of Customs of
the Port of Manila to hold the goods pending termination of the seizure
proceedings. Without waiting for the court's action on the motion for
reconsideration, and alleging that they had no plain, speedy and adequate
remedy in the ordinary course of law, herein petitioners filed the present
action for prohibition and certiorari with preliminary injunction before this
1.) Whether or not the Bureau of Customs has jurisdiction to seize the
goods and institute forfeiture proceedings against them.


It is the settled rule, therefore, that the Bureau of Customs acquires

exclusive jurisdiction over imported goods, for the purposes of enforcement
of the customs laws, from the moment the goods are actually in its
possession or control, even if no warrant of seizure.
The Tariff and Customs Code does not require said warrant in the
instant case. The Code authorizes persons having police authority under
Section 2203 of the Tariff and Customs Code to enter, pass through or search
any land, inclosure, warehouse, store or building, not being a dwelling house;
and also to inspect, search and examine any vessel or aircraft and any trunk,
package, or envelope or any person on board, or to stop and search and
examine any vehicle, beast or person suspected of holding or conveying any
dutiable or prohibited article introduced into the Philippines contrary to law,
without mentioning the need of a search warrant in said cases. But in the
search of a dwelling house, the Code provides that said "dwelling house may
be entered and searched only upon warrant issued by a judge or justice of
the peace. It is the courts considered view, therefore, that except in the
case of the search of a dwelling house, persons exercising police authority
under the customs law may effect search and seizure without a search
warrant in the enforcement of customs laws.
The guaranty of freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures is
construed as recognizing a necessary difference between a search of a
dwelling house or other structure in respect of which a search warrant may
readily be obtained and a search of a ship, motorboat, wagon, or automobile
for contraband goods, where it is not practicable to secure a warrant because
the vehicle can be quickly moved out of the locality or jurisdiction in which
the warrant must be sought.
Petition granted.


G.R. No. 102009
July 6, 1994
The incidents involved in this case took place at the height of the coup
d' etat staged in December, 1989 by ultra-rightist elements headed by the
Reform the Armed Forces Movement-Soldiers of the Filipino People (RAM-SFP)
against the Government.
Accused-appellant Rolando de Gracia was charged in two separate
informations for illegal possession of ammunition and explosives in
furtherance of rebellion, and for attempted homicide, docketed as Criminal
Cases Nos. Q-90-11755 and Q-90-11756, respectively, which were tried
jointly by the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 103.
During the arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty to both charges.
However, he admitted that he is not authorized to possess any firearms,
ammunition and/or explosive. 3 The parties likewise stipulated that there was
a rebellion during the period from November 30 up to December 9, 1989.
Appellant was convicted for illegal possession of firearms
furtherance of rebellion, but was acquitted of attempted homicide.


1.) Whether or not the mere fact of physical or constructive possession
sufficient to convict a person for unlawful possession of firearms or must
there be intent to possess to constitute a violation of the law?
2.) Whether or not there was valid search and seizure in this case?
The rule is that ownership is not an essential element of illegal
possession of firearms and ammunition. What the law requires is merely
possession which includes not only actual physical possession but also
constructive possession or the subjection of the thing to one's control and
management. This has to be so if the manifest intent of the law is to be
effective. The same evils, the same perils to public security, which the law
penalizes, exist whether the unlicensed holder of a prohibited weapon be its

owner or a borrower. To accomplish the object of this law the proprietary

concept of the possession can have no bearing whatsoever.
This query assumes significance since the offense of illegal possession
of firearms is a malum prohibitum punished by a special law, in which case
good faith and absence of criminal intent are not valid defenses.
When the crime is punished by a special law, as a rule, intent to
commit the crime is not necessary. It is sufficient that the offender has the
intent to perpetrate the act prohibited by the special law. Intent to commit
the crime and intent to perpetrate the act must be distinguished. A person
may not have consciously intended to commit a crime; but he did intend to
commit an act, and that act is, by the very nature of things, the crime itself.
In the first (intent to commit the crime), there must be criminal intent; in the
second (intent to perpetrate the act) it is enough that the prohibited act is
done freely and consciously.
Animus possidendi is a state of mind which may be determined on a
case to case basis, taking into consideration the prior and coetaneous acts of
the accused and the surrounding circumstances. What exists in the realm of
thought is often disclosed in the range of action.
Under the foregoing circumstances, it is our considered opinion that
the instant case falls under one of the exceptions to the prohibition against a
warrantless search. In the first place, the military operatives, taking into
account the facts obtaining in this case, had reasonable ground to believe
that a crime was being committed. There was consequently more than
sufficient probable cause to warrant their action.