Sie sind auf Seite 1von 64

FIRST DIVISION

PHILIPPINE DRUG ENFORCEMENT AGENCY


(PDEA),
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 196390


Present:
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
ActingChairperson,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO,
PEREZ,*and
MENDOZA,**JJ.

-versus-

RICHARD BRODETT AND JORGE JOSEPH,


Respondents.

above-named accused, conspiring and confederating together and mutually


helping and aiding each other, they not being authorized by law, did then and
there wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously sell, trade, deliver and give away to
another, sixty (60) pieces of blue-colored tablets with Motorala (M) logos,
contained in six (6) self-sealing transparent plastic sachets with recorded total
net weight of 9.8388 grams, which when subjected to laboratory examination
yielded positive results for presence of METHAMPHETAMINE, a dangerous
drug.[2]

Also on April 16, 2009, the State, also through the Office of the City Prosecutor of Muntinlupa City,
filed another information charging only Brodett with a violation of Section 11 of R.A. No. 9165,

Promulgated:
docketed as Criminal Case No. 09-209, with the information alleging:
September 28, 2011

x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

Objects of lawful commerce confiscated in the course of an enforcement of


the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (Republic Act No. 9165)that are the property of a
third person are subject to be returned to the lawful ownerwho is not liable for the unlawful act. But

That on or about the 19th day of September 2008, in the City of


Muntinlupa, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, not being authorized by law, did then and there, wilfully,
unlawfully, and feloniously have in his possession, custody and control the
following:
a. Four (4) yellow tablets with Playboy logos and ten (10) transparent
capsules containing white powdery substance contained in one
self-sealing transparent plastic sachet having a net weight of
4.9007 grams, which when subjected to laboratory examination
yielded positive results for presence of METHYLENE
DIOXYMETHAMPHETAMINE (MDMA), commonly known as
Ecstasy, a dangerous drug;
b.

the trial court may not release such objects pending trial and before judgment.
Antecedents

On April 13, 2009, the State, through the Office of the City Prosecutor of Muntinlupa City,charged

Five (5) self-sealing transparent plastic sachets containing white


powdery substance with total recorded net weight of 1.2235
grams, which when subjected to laboratory examination yielded
positive results for presence of COCCAINE, a dangerous drug;

c. Five (5) self-sealing transparent plastic sachets containing white


powdery substance, placed in a light-yellow folded paper, with
total recorded net weight of 2.7355 grams, which when subjected
to laboratory examination yielded positive results for presence of
COCCAINE, a dangerous drug;

RichardBrodett (Brodett) and Jorge Joseph (Joseph) with a violation of Section 5, in relation to Section
26(b), of Republic Act No. 9165 [1]in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in MuntinlupaCity,docketed as
Criminal Case No. 09-208,the accusatory portion of the information for which reads as follows:
That on or about the 19th day of September 2008, in the City of
Muntinlupa, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the

d.

Three (3) self-sealing transparent plastic sachets containing dried


leaves with total recorded net weight of 54.5331 grams, which
when subjected to laboratory examination yielded positive results
for presence of TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL, a dangerous
drug.[3]

In the course of the proceedings in the RTC, on July 30, 2009, Brodett filed
a MotionToReturn Non-Drug Evidence. He averred that during his arrest, Philippine Drug
Thence, PDEA assailed the order of the RTC in the Court of Appeals (CA) by petition
Enforcement Agency (PDEA) had seized several personal non-drug effects from him,including a 2004
for certiorari, claiming that the orders of the RTC were issued in grave abuse of discretion amounting
Honda Accord car with license plate no. XPF-551;and that PDEArefused to return his personal effects
to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
despite repeated demands for their return. He prayed that his personal effects be tendered to the trial
court to be returned to himupon verification.[4]

On March 31, 2011, the CA promulgated its Decision,[8]dismissing the petition


for certiorari thusly:

On August 27, 2009, the Office of the City Prosecutor submitted its Comment and
Objection,[5]proposingthereby that the delivery to the RTC of the listedpersonal effects for safekeeping,
to be held there throughout the duration of the trial, would be to enable the Prosecution and the
Defense to exhaust their possible evidentiary value. The Office of the City Prosecutor objected to the
return of the car because it appeared to be the instrument in the commission of the violation of Section
5 of R.A. No. 9165 due to its being the vehicle used in the transaction of the sale of dangerous drugs.

On November 4, 2009, the RTC directedthe release of the car, viz:


WHEREFORE, the Director of PDEA or any of its authorized officer or
custodian is hereby directed to: (1) photograph the abovementioned Honda
Accord, before returning the same to its rightful owner Myra S. Brodett and the
return should be fully documented, and (2) bring the personal properties as listed
in this Order of both accused, Richard S. Brodett and Jorge J. Joseph to this
court for safekeeping, to be held as needed.
SO ORDERED.[6]

PDEA moved to reconsider the order of the RTC, but its motion was denied on February
17, 2010 for lack of merit, to wit:
WHEREFORE,premises considered, the Motion for Reconsideration is
hereby DENIED for lack of merit. The Order of the Court dated November 4,
2009 is upheld.
SO ORDERED.[7]

xxxx
Here it is beyond dispute that the Honda Accord subject of this petition
is owned by and registered in the name of Myra S. Brodett, not accused Richard
Brodett. Also, it does not appear from the records of the case that said Myra S.
Brodett has been charged of any crime, more particularly, in the subject cases of
possession and sale of dangerous drugs. Applying Section 20 of the law to the
dispute at bar, We therefore see no cogent reason why the subject Honda Accord
may not be exempted from confiscation and forfeiture.
xxxx
We thus cannot sustain petitioners submission that the subject car,
being an instrument of the offense, may not be released to Ms. Brodett and
should remain in custodia legis.The letters of the law are plain and
unambiguous. Being so, there is no room for a contrary construction, especially
so that the only purpose of judicial construction is to remove doubt and
uncertainty, matters that are not obtaining here. More so that the required literal
interpretation is consistent with the Constitutional guarantee that a person may
not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED and consequently
DISMISSED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.[9]

Hence, PDEA appeals.


Issues

Essentially,PDEA asserts that the decision of the CAwas not in accord with applicable laws
and the primordial intent of the framers of R. A. No. 9165. [10]It contends that the CA gravely erred in

its ruling; that the Honda Accord car, registered under the name of Myra S. Brodett (Ms.Brodett), had
been seized from accused Brodettduring a legitimate anti-illegal operation and should not be released

It is not open to question thatin a criminal proceeding, the court having jurisdiction over the offense

from the custody of the law;that the Motion to Return Non-Drug Evidencedid not intimate or allege

has the power to order upon conviction of an accusedthe seizure of (a) the instruments to commit the

that the car had belonged to a third person; and that even if the car had belonged to Ms. Brodett, a third

crime, including documents, papers, and other effects that are the necessary means to commit the

person, her ownership did not ipso facto authorize its release, because she was under the obligation to

crime; and (b) contraband, the ownership or possession of which is not permitted for being illegal. As

prove to the RTC that she had no knowledge of the commission of the crime.

justification for the first, the accused must not profit from his crime, or must not acquire property or
the right to possession of property through his unlawful act. [12]As justification for thesecond, to return

In hisComment,[11]Brodettcounters that the petitioner failed to present any question of law

to the convict from whom thecontraband was taken, in one way or another,is not prudent or proper,

that warranted a review by the Court;that Section 20 of R. A. No. 9165 clearly and unequivocally

because doing so will give rise to a violation of the law for possessing the contraband again. [13]Indeed,

states that confiscation and forfeiture of the proceeds or instruments of the supposed unlawful act in

the court having jurisdiction over the offense has theright to dispose of property used in the

favor of the Government may be done by PDEA, unless such proceeds or instruments are the property

commission of the crime, such disposition being an accessory penalty to be imposed on the accused,

of a third person not liable for the unlawful act; that PDEA is gravely mistaken in its reading that the

unless the property belongs to a third person not liable for the offense that it was used as the instrument

third person must still prove in the trial court that he has no knowledge of the commission of the crime;

to commit.[14]

and that PDEA failed to exhaust all remedies before filing the petition for review.
In case of forfeiture of property for crime, title and ownership of the convict are absolutely
The decisive issue is whether or not the CA erred in affirming the orderfor the release of the

divested and shall pass to the Government.[15] But it is required that the property to be forfeited must be
before the court in such manner that it can be said to be within its jurisdiction. [16]

car to Ms.Brodett.

According to the Rules of Court, personal property may be seized in connection with a criminal
offense either by authority of a search warrant or as the product of a search incidental to a lawful
Ruling

arrest. If the search is by virtue of a search warrant, the personal property that may be seized may be
that which is the subject of the offense; or that which has been stolen or embezzled and other proceeds,

The petition is meritorious.

or fruits of the offense; orthat which has been used or intended to be used as the means of committing
an offense.[17] If the search is an incident of a lawful arrest, seizure may be made of dangerous weapons

I
Applicable laws and jurisprudence on releasing
property confiscated in criminal proceedings

or anything that may have been used or may constitute proof in the commission of an
offense.[18] Should there be no ensuing criminal prosecution in which the personal property seized is
used as evidence, itsreturn to the person from whom it was taken, or to the person who is entitled to its

Here, it is beyond dispute that the Honda Accord subject of this


petition is owned by and registered in the name of Myra S. Brodett, not
accused Richard Brodett. Also, it does not appear from the records of the case
that said Myra S. Brodett has been charged of any crime, more particularly, in
the subject cases of possession and sale of dangerous drugs. Applying Section
20 of the law to the dispute at bar, We therefore see no cogent reason why the
subject Honda Accord may not be exempted from confiscation and forfeiture.

possession is but a matter of course,[19]except if it is contraband or illegal per se. A proper court may
order the return of property held solely as evidence should the Government be unreasonably delayed in
bringing a criminal prosecution.[20]The order for the disposition of such property can be made only
when the case is finally terminated.[21]

Basic is the rule in statutory construction that when the law is clear and
unambiguous, the court has no alternative but to apply the same according to its
clear language. The Supreme Court had steadfastly adhered to the doctrine that
the first and fundamental duty of courts is to apply the law according to its
express terms, interpretation being called only when such literal application is
impossible. No process of interpretation or construction need be resorted to
where a provision of law peremptorily calls for application.

Generally, the trial court is vested with considerable legal discretion in the matter of disposing of
property claimed as evidence,[22] and this discretion extends even to the manner of proceeding in the
event the accused claims the property was wrongfully taken from him.[23]In particular, the trial court
has the power to return property held as evidence to its rightful owners, whether the property was

We thus cannot sustain petitioners submission that the subject car,


being an instrument of the offense, may not be released to Ms. Brodett and
should remain in custodia legis. The letters of the law are plain and
unambiguous. Being so, there is no room for a contrary construction, especially
so that the only purpose of judicial construction is to remove doubt and
uncertainty, matters that are not obtaining here. More so that the required literal
interpretation is not consistent with the Constitutional guarantee that a person
may not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of
law.[26] (emphases are in the original text)

legally or illegally seized by the Government.[24] Property used as evidence must be returned once the
criminal proceedings to which it relates have terminated, unless it is then subject to forfeiture or other
proceedings.[25]
II
Order of release was premature and made
in contravention of Section 20, R.A. No. 9165
It is undisputed that the ownership of the confiscated car belonged to Ms. Brodett, who was not
charged either in connection with the illegal possession and sale of illegal drugs involving Brodett and
Joseph that were the subject of the criminal proceedings in the RTC, or even in any other criminal
proceedings.

In its decision under review, the CA held as follows:


A careful reading of the above provision shows that confiscation and
forfeiture in drug-related cases pertains to all the proceeds and properties
derived from the unlawful act, including but not limited to, money and other
assets obtained thereby, and the instruments or tools with which the particular
unlawful act was committed unless they are the property of a third person not
liable for the unlawful act. Simply put, the law exempts from the effects of
confiscation and forfeiture any property that is owned by a third person
who is not liable for the unlawful act.

The legal provision applicable to the confiscation and forfeiture of the proceeds or instruments of the
unlawful act, including the properties or proceeds derived from illegal trafficking of dangerous drugs
and precursors and essential chemicals,is Section 20 of R.A. No. 9165, which pertinently providesas
follows:
Section 20.Confiscation and Forfeiture of the Proceeds or Instruments
of the Unlawful Act, Including the Properties or Proceeds Derived from the
Illegal Trafficking of Dangerous Drugs and/or Precursors and Essential
Chemicals. Every penalty imposed for the unlawful importation, sale, trading,
administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, transportation or
manufacture of any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential
chemical, the cultivation or culture of plants which are sources of dangerous
drugs, and the possession of any equipment, instrument, apparatus and other
paraphernalia for dangerous drugs including other laboratory equipment, shall
carry with it the confiscation and forfeiture, in favor of the government, of all
the proceeds derived from unlawful act, including, but not limited to, money and
other assets obtained thereby, and the instruments or tools with which the
particular unlawful act was committed, unless they are the property of a third

person not liable for the unlawful act, but those which are not of lawful
commerce shall be ordered destroyed without delay pursuant to the provisions of
Section 21 of this Act.
After conviction in the Regional Trial Court in the appropriate criminal
case filed, the Court shall immediately schedule a hearing for the confiscation
and forfeiture of all the proceeds of the offense and all the assets and properties
of the accused either owned or held by him or in the name of some other persons
if the same shall be found to be manifestly out of proportion to his/her lawful
income: Provided, however, That if the forfeited property is a vehicle, the same
shall be auctioned off not later than five (5) days upon order of confiscation or
forfeiture.
During the pendency of the case in the Regional Trial Court, no
property, or income derived therefrom, which may be confiscated and forfeited,
shall be disposed, alienated or transferred and the same shall be
in custodialegis and no bond shall be admitted for the release of the same.
The proceeds of any sale or disposition of any property confiscated or
forfeited under this Section shall be used to pay all proper expenses incurred in
the proceedings for the confiscation, forfeiture, custody and maintenance of the
property pending disposition, as well as expenses for publication and court
costs. The proceeds in excess of the above expenses shall accrue to the Board to
be used in its campaign against illegal drugs.[27]

The Court has interpreted and applied Article 45of the Revised Penal Codein People v.
Jose,[28]concerning the confiscation and forfeiture of the car used by the four accused when they
committed theforcible abduction with rape, although the car did not belong to any of them, holding:
xxx Article 45 of the Revised Penal Code bars the confiscation and
forfeiture of an instrument or tool used in the commission of the crime if such be
the property of a third person not liable for the offense, it is the sense of this
Court that the order of the court below for the confiscation of the car in question
should be set aside and that the said car should be ordered delivered to the
intervenor for foreclosure as decreed in the judgment of the Court of First
Instance of Manila in replevin case. xxx[29]

Such interpretation is extended by analogy to Section 20, supra. To bar the forfeiture of the tools and
instruments belonging to a third person,therefore, there must be an indictment charging such third
person either as a principal, accessory, or accomplice. Less than that will not suffice to prevent the
return of the tools and instruments to the third person, for a mere suspicion of that persons
participation is not sufficient ground for the court to order the forfeiture of the goods seized. [30]

There is no question, for even PDEA has itself pointed out, that the text of Section 20 of R. A. No.
However, the Office of the City Prosecutorproposed throughits Comment and Objection submitted on
9165relevant to the confiscation and forfeiture of the proceeds or instruments of the unlawful act is

August 27, 2009 in the RTC[31]that the delivery to the RTC of the listed personal effects for

similar to that ofArticle 45 of the Revised Penal Code, which states:


safekeeping, to be held there throughout the duration of the trial, would be to enable the Prosecution
Article 45.Confiscation and Forfeiture of the Proceeds or Instruments
of theCrime. Every penalty imposed for the commission of a felony shall carry
with it the forfeiture of the proceeds of the crime and the instruments or tools
with which it was committed.

and the Defenseto exhaust their possible evidentiary value. The Office of the City Prosecutor further

Such proceeds and instruments or tools shall be confiscated and


forfeited in favor of the Government, unless they be the property of a third
person not liable for the offense, but those articles which are not subject of
lawful commerce shall be destroyed.

R.A. No. 9165.

objected to the return of the car because it appeared to bethe vehicle used in the transaction of the sale
of dangerous drugs, and, as such, was the instrument in the commission of the violation of Section 5 of

On its part, PDEA regards the decision of the CA to be not in accord with applicable laws
and the primordial intent of the framers of R. A. No. 9165, [32]and contends that the car should not be
released from the custody of the law because it had been seized from accused Brodett during a
legitimate anti-illegal operation. It argues that the Motion to Return Non-Drug Evidencedid not

intimate or allege that the car had belonged to a third person; and that even if the car had belonged to

taken of the car was not enough, for mere photographs might not fill in fully the evidentiary need of

Ms. Brodett, a third person, her ownership did not ipso facto authorize its release, because she was

the Prosecution. As such, the RTCs assailed orders were issued with grave abuse of discretion

under the obligation to prove to the RTC that she had no knowledge of the commission of the crime. It

amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction for being in contravention with the express language of

insists that the car is a property in custodialegis and may not be released during the pendency of the

Section 20 of R.A. No. 9165.

trial.
Nonetheless, the Court need not annul the assailed orders of the RTC, or reverse the
We agree with PDEA and the Office of the City Prosecutor.

decision of the CA. It appears thaton August 26, 2011 the RTC promulgated its decision on the merits
in Criminal Case No. 09-208 and Criminal Case No. 09-209, acquitting both Brodettand Joseph and

We note that the RTC granted accusedBrodettsMotion To Return Non-Drug Evidence on


November 4, 2009 when the criminal proceedings were still going on, and the trial was yet to be

further ordering the return to the accused of all non-drug evidence except the buy-bust money and the
genuine money,because:

completed. Ordering the release of the car at that pointof the proceedings was premature, considering
that the third paragraph of Section 20,supra, expressly forbids the disposition, alienation, or transfer of
any property, or income derived therefrom, that has been confiscated from the accused charged under
R.A. No. 9165 during the pendency of the proceedings in the Regional Trial Court.Section 20 further
expressly requires that such property or income derived therefrom should remain in custodialegis in all

The failure of the prosecution therefore to establish all the links in the
chain of custody is fatal to the case at bar. The Court cannot merely rely on the
presumption of regularity in the performance of official function in view of the
glaring blunder in the handling of the corpus delicti of these cases. The
presumption of regularity should bow down to the presumption of innocence of
the accused. Hence, the two (2) accused BRODETT and JOSEPH should be as it
is hereby ACQUITTED of the crimes herein charged for Illegal Selling and
Illegal Possession of Dangerous Drugs.

that time and that no bond shall be admitted for the release of it.

Indeed, forfeiture, if warrantedpursuant to either Article 45 of the Revised Penal Code and
Section 20 of R.A. No. 9165, would be a part of the penalty to be prescribed. The determination of
whetheror not the car (or any other article confiscated in relation to the unlawful act) would be subject
of forfeiture could be made only when the judgment was to be rendered in the proceedings. Section 20
is also clear as to this.

The status of the car (or any other article confiscated in relation to the unlawful act) for the
duration of the trial in the RTCas being in custodialegisisprimarily intended to preserve it as evidence
and to ensure its availability as such. To release it before the judgment is rendered is to deprive the
trial court and the parties access to it as evidence. Consequently, that photographs were ordered to be

WHEREFORE, premises considered, for failure of the prosecution to


prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, RICHARD BRODETT
y SANTOS and JORGE JOSEPH y JORDANA are ACQUITTED of the crimes
charged in Criminal Case Nos. 09-208 and 09-209.
The subject drug evidence are all ordered transmitted to the Philippine
Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for proper disposition. All the non-drug
evidence except the buy bust money and the genuine money are ordered
returned to the accused.
The genuine money used in the buy bust operation as well as the
genuine money confiscated from both accused are ordered escheated in favor of
the government and accordingly transmitted to the National Treasury for proper
disposition. (emphasis supplied)[33]

The directive to return the non-drug evidence hasovertaken the petition for review as to
render further action upon it superfluous. Yet, the Court seizes the opportunity to perform its duty to

TERESITA SUSON y BANZON


ANTONIO FORTICH y SILANG,
Petitioners,

and

Present:
PANGANIBAN, C.J.
Chairperson,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR., and
CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.

formulate guidelines on the matter of confiscation and forfeiture of non-drug articles, including those
belonging to third persons not liable for the offense, in order to clarify the extent of the power of the

- versus -

trial court under Section 20 of R.A. No. 9165.[34]This the Court must now do in view of the question
about the confiscation and forfeiture of non-drug objects being susceptible of repetition in the

Promulgated:

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Respondent.

future.[35]

G. R. No. 152848

July 12, 2006

We rule that henceforth the Regional Trial Courts shall comply strictly with the provisions
of Section 20 of R.A. No. 9165, and should not release articles, whether drugs or non-drugs, for the
duration of the trial and before the rendition of the judgment, even if owned by a third person who is
not liable for the unlawful act.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition for review isDENIED.


x--------------------------------------------------x
The Office of the Court Administrator is directed to disseminate this decision to all trial
DECISION

courts for their guidance.


SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

Before Us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, which seeks the
reversal of the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals dated 30 October 2001 in CA-G.R. CR No. 22775
which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 25, Danao City, in Criminal
Case No. DNO-1532,and its Resolution[2] dated 26 February 2002 denying petitioners Teresita B.
Suson and Antonio S. Fortichs Motion for Reconsideration.
On 16 April 1996, petitioners Teresita B. Suson and Antonio S. Fortich, a.k.a. Jojo Muslim, were
charged with Violation of Section 15, Article III, in relation to Section 21, Article 4 of Republic Act

No. 6425, otherwise known as The Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. [3] An Amended Information was
filed on 2 May 1996.[4] On2 July 1996, a Second Amended Information[5] was filed, the accusatory

SPO2 Patio, who was then positioned outside the gate of Susons house, called
the latter in order to buy shabu. Answering the call, Suson went out of the house
and, after receiving the total sum of P2,400.00 in marked bills, went back
inside. Moments later, appellant Antonio Fortich approached SPO2 Patio and
handed to her three (3) packs of shabu.

portion of which reads:

That on or about April 12, 1996 at 3:30 oclock in the afternoon more or less in
S. Duterte St., Suba, Danao City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused in a buy bust operation, conspiring,
confederating together and mutually helping one another, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell and deliver three (3) packs of white
crystalline substance containing metamphetamine hydrochloride, commonly
known as shabu, a regulated drug, weighing .7 grams to informant decoy SPO2
Alicia A. Patio for a total consideration of P2,400, without any permit from the
proper authorities.[6]

The case was filed before Branch 25 of the RTC of Danao City and docketed as Criminal
Case No. DNO-1532.

Petitioner Suson, together with Andres Camargo, was also charged with Illegal Possession
of Shabu and Firearm in Criminal Cases No. DNO-1533 and No.DNO-1534 before the same court.

When arraigned, petitioners, assisted by counsel de oficio, pleaded Not Guilty.[7] Thereafter,
the three cases were tried jointly.

Subsequently, Fortich went across the street and joined other persons who were
playing mahjong. On the other hand, after SPO2 Patio had made a pre-arranged
signal, the police authorities accompanying her rushed towards Fortich and
arrested him.
The packs of shabu which were handed to SPO2 Patio were submitted to the
PNP Crime Laboratory which, after examining the same, found that the said
items
were
positive
of
the
regulated
drug
known
as Methampetamine Hydrochloride.
Later in the afternoon of the same date, and after the police authorities were able
to secure a Search Warrant (for the search of shabu from the house of Suson)
from the trial court, said search warrant was implemented and the police
companions of SPO2 Patio, searched, in the presence of the barangay captain in
the area, Susons house. Thereupon, Suson was apprehended. The police was
also able to recover, among others, the marked bills amounting
to P1,180.00 from Susons possession.[8]

Petitioners contend that no buy-bust operation occurred and that the evidence - shabu and
firearm - allegedly confiscated in their home was planted evidence.

On 30 September 1998, the trial court rendered its decision convicting petitioners of the
crime of illegal sale of shabu in Criminal Case No. DNO-1532, while acquitting petitioner Suson and
Andres Camargo of the crimes of illegal possession of shabu and firearm in Criminal Cases No. DNO-

The facts which we find supported by evidence, are summarized by the Office of the
Solicitor General and are quoted by the Court of Appeals:
After conducting a few days earlier a surveillance on
appellant Teresita Susons house located at S. Duterte St., Suba, Danao City, the
Narcotics Team of Cebu City, in coordination with the Danao City Police
Station, proceeded to the said house in the afternoon of April 12, 1996 in order
to make a buy-bust operation. SPO2 Alicia Patio, a member of the Narcotics
Team who met Suson on April 10, 1996 in order to buy shabu and who was told
by the latter to come back on April 12, 1996, posed as the poseur-buyer.

1533 and No. DNO-1534. Thedecretal portion of the Decision reads:


WHEREFORE, for proof beyond reasonable doubt, the Court finds
accused Antonio Fortich and Teresita Suson in Criminal Case No. DNO-1532
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for Violation of Section 15, Article III, in
relation to Section 21, Article IV of Republic Act 6425, as amended, and in
conformity with Supreme Court doctrine in Pp. vs. Simon, 234 SCRA 555, each
accused is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of SIX (6)
MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional as minimum to SIX (6)
YEARS of prision correccional as maximum. The amount of P1,180 being the
fruit of a crime is hereby confiscated in favor of the government

For lack of sufficient evidence, the Court hereby ACQUITS accused


Andres Camargo and Teresita Suson from the crime of illegal possession of
shabu and firearm, as charged in Crim. Case Nos. DNO-1533 and 1534. The
amount of P34,770 and one (1) cellular phone marked SIEMEN are hereby
ordered returned to said accused Teresita Suson.[9]

The trial court declared that petitioners, by their concerted action, sold shabu powder to
poseur-buyer

SPO2

Alicia Patio for P2,400.00,

and

that

an

hour

after

the

sale,

DEFYING THE OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE FOR PETITIONERS


(ACCUSED-APPELLANTS THEREAT) OR A LACK OF EVIDENCE TO
PROVE THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED (HEREIN PETITIONERS)
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT WHICH SHOW THE GLARING
VIOLATION OF SAID COURT IN ITS DECISION OVER THE BASICS OF
HEREIN PETITIONERS; THUS AN OTHERWISE EVIDENTIARY ASPECT
OF THE CASE IS IN QUESTION, THE JUDGEMENT (sic) UNSUPPORTED
BY THE EVIDENCE IF NOT CONTRARY THERETO, BECOMES NOW A
LEGAL QUESTION THAT CALLS FOR THE INTERVENTION OF THE
HONORABLE SUPREME COURT.

SPO3

Alejandro Bian confiscated or recovered from petitioner Suson marked money used in the buy-bust

The Supreme Court accords, as a general rule, conclusiveness to a lower courts findings of fact

operation amounting to P1,180.00 whose serial numbers corresponded to the serial numbers recorded

except when: (1) the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmise and conjecture;

in the log book kept by SPO3 Bian as marked money used in said operation.

(2) the inference made is manifestly an error or founded on a mistake; (3) there is grave abuse of
discretion; (4) the judgment is based on misapprehension of facts; and (5) the findings of fact are

On 29 October 1998, petitioners appealed to the Court of Appeals via a Notice of


Appeal.[10]

premised on a want of evidence and/or contradicted by evidence on record.[14] Especially in criminal


cases where the accused stands to lose his liberty by virtue of his conviction, the Court must be
satisfied that the factual findings and conclusions of the lower courts leading to his conviction must

On 30 October 2001, the Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the RTCs decision in Criminal

satisfy the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt.[15]

Case No. DNO-1532 and dismissed, for lack of merit, petitioners appeal. [11] The Motion for
Reconsideration[12] filed by petitioners was denied[13] on 26 February 2002.

Petitioners ask us to review the findings of fact made by the trial court alleging that their
conviction was not supported by, and even contrary to, the evidence per its own findings of facts.

Petitioners appeal their conviction before this Court grounded on the following:
In showing the error of the lower court, petitioners quoted the Transcript of Stenographic Notes and its
1. THE DECISION OF THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPELAS AS WELL
AS ITS RESOLUTION DENYING A MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
THEREOF IN CA-GR. CR NO. 22775 AND SUBJECT HEREOF IS A TOTAL
DEPARTURE FORM (sic) ESTABLISHED DOCTRINES, EXPRESS LEGAL
PROVISIONS AND PRINCIPLES OF LAW; THUS SAID APPELLATE
COURT, IN SUSTAINING THE FINAL ORDER OF THE TRIAL COURT,
GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION TANTAMOUNT TO A WANT, IF
NOT A TOTAL LACK, OF JURISDICTION;

findings contained in its decision. It quoted part of the testimony of SPO2 Patio as follows:

A There was somebody, a male person who got outside and later I identified that
male person named Jojo who was the one who delivered the thing to
me.
Q What was the thing delivered by Jojo to you?

2. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ALSO REVERSIBLY ERRED


AND GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN IGNORING AND

A Three (3) packs of shabu.

Q Then after that, what did Jojo tell you, if any?

The question is: Can this inadvertence on the part of the RTC exonerate petitioners and cause the

A The gate was already opened when he delivered to me the shabu and after he
delivered the shabu to me he went across [the road], and I asked him,
where are you going, and he answered to me that he will play
mahjong. . .[16]

reversal of their conviction?

We do not think so.

The lower courts decision partially reads:


It must be made clear that what controls are the statements in the Transcript of Stenographic Notes and
Prosecution would want to show that after surveillance conducted
on April 8, 1996 in the residence of accused Antonio Fortich
and Teresita Suson the Narcom in coordination with the Danao City Police
conducted a buy-bust operation on accused. That with SPO2
Alicia Patino acting as poseur/buyer, a pre-arranged signal in the manner of
combing her hair was agreed when actual bust-buying of shabu is
consummated. That said Alicia Patino agreed to buy shabu from
accused Teresita Suson who received the amount of P2,400.00 and a few
minutes thereafter said accused Teresita Suson came back with a male
companion named Antonio Fortich who delivered to Alicia Patino three (3)
packs of shabu. Said accused Antonio Fortich then crossed the street towards
where mahjong was played about 40 meters away. Upon the agreed signal,
SPO3 Eduardo Misaproceeded to where Antonio Fortich was located and
arrested him. Then followed by other raiding companions to the house of
Andres Camargo where accused Teresita was located and arrested her. . .[17]

not the findings of fact which is merely taken from the Transcript of Stenographic Notes and from
other documentary exhibits. This Court is not prevented from going into the Transcript of Stenographic
Notes to verify if the statements made by the witnesses are correctly integrated in the decision. If there
are inaccuracies, this Court can rectify the same and be the basis of our decision.

In the case at bar, petitioners were convicted for Violation of Section 15 (Sale), Article III, in relation
to Section 21 (Conspiracy), Article IV of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended. Many times, this Court
has already ruled that a buy-bust operation is a form of entrapment which has repeatedly been accepted
to be a valid means of arresting violators of the Dangerous Drugs Law. [18] In every prosecution for

After going over the Transcript of Stenographic Notes and the Decision of the RTC, it behooves us to
have a second look on the evidence on record. It appears that theRTCs finding as to who delivered
the shabu to SPO2 Patio contradicts, or is not in accord with, SPO2 Patios testimony. From the
testimony of SPO2 Patio, it is clear that it was only petitioner Fortich who delivered to her the 3 packs

illegal sale of prohibited or regulated drugs, the following elements must be established: (1) the
identity of the buyer and seller, the object, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold
and the payment therefor.[19] In proving that the sale was consummated, the prosecution presented the
poseur buyer - SPO2 Patio.

of shabu. On the other hand, the RTC narrated that after petitioner Suson received the payment for
the shabu and went inside her home, she came back out with petitioner Fortich who delivered or
handed over the shabu to SPO2 Patio. Petitioner would like to capitalize on the RTCs gaffe in making
its findings of fact.

The testimony of SPO2 Patio on the sale of the shabu is as follows:

PROSECUTOR GEROMO: continues


Q: After the briefing on April 12, 1996, what happened next?
A: After our lunch we proceeded here in Danao City all narcom Officers.

Q: Can you tell the Court about how many were you who came here
in Danao City?

A: Three (3) packs of shabu.


Q: Then after that, what did Jojo tell you, if any?

A: Maybe ten (10) or twelve personnel.


Q: After that, what happened next?

A: The gate was already opened when he delivered to me the shabu and after he
delivered the shabu to me he went across, and I asked him, where are
you going, and he answered to me that he will play mahjong game.

A: We contacted Major Castro.


Q: What made you [ask] that question to Jojo?
Q: Did you have a conference with Major Castro at that time?
A: We have a conference but it was not done at the headquarters. We had our
conference but it was not done at the headquarters, we had our
conference on a secret place.
Q: Now after your conference with Major Castro on April 12, 1996, what
happened after that?
A: At about 3:30 p.m. we proceeded to the house of Tessie and our back up
were positioned on strategic places and I went to the gate
of Tessie and I called her up.

A: My purpose in asking Jojo is to be sure that at the time of the arrest he will be
there and he could be located.
Q: How far was the place where Jojo went across from the house where you
were at the time?
A: Just across the street where the house is situated when he played mahjong.
Q: After Jojo told you that he will play mahjong, what did you do?
A: I opened my bag and I placed the shabu inside the bag and I took my comb
and I comb my hair because that was our pre-arranged signal.

Q: After you called up Tessie, were you able to have a conversation with her?
Q: Now after giving your pre-arranged signal, what happened?
A: She went outside the gate and we have our conversation.
A: My companions rushed towards Jojo.
Q: What did you tell Tessie if any?
Q: Was Jojo arrested?
A: I told her I wanted now to buy shabu because she told me to return on that
very day.

A: Yes, sir, we let Jojo return to the house and got inside the house.[20]

Q: Did you tell her, how much are you going to buy?
A: I told her I will buy shabu worth P2,400 and then she told me that the pack
worth P800.00 each.

From the categorical and straightforward testimony of SPO2 Patio, the elements of the crime charged
have been sufficiently established. Her testimony was corroborated on material points by SPO3

Q: Then after that, what did Tessie tell you if any?


Eduardo Misa who acted as a back-up during the buy-bust operation. SPO3 Misa testified:
A: She received the money and she told me to just wait for a while and she went
inside her house and I just waited for her.
Q What did you do in order to effect the buy bust operation?
Q: After you waited for her, what happened next?
A: There was somebody, a male person who got outside and later I identified
that male person named Jojo who was the one who delivered the
thing to me.

A After the selling and buying were consummated, Alicia Patio made a prearranged signal, and on that occasion I was not the only back-up. We
were many, including the PNP ofDanao City.
Q At about what time was the buy bust operation conducted?

Q: What was the thing delivered by Jojo to you?


A More or less, at 3:30 oclock in the afternoon, sir.

Q Were you able to see the accused in this instance?

Q From the place where you were positioned, did you see also the poseur-buyer,
Alicia Patio?

A Yes, sir.
A Yes, sir, they were talking to each other.
Q Who of the two accused did you see first?
ATTORNEY CAETE:

Q After they were talking to each other, can you tell the Court what transpired
next?

I object, Your Honor, there is no showing that its either the two accused who
gave.

A Alicia Patio gave money to her and she went to the house, and it
was Jojo who delivered the shabu to Alice.

COURT:

Q After that shabu was delivered, what happened next?

Saw, saw. Whom did you see.

WITNESS continues:

ATTORNEY CAETE:

A Jojo went away and went across the road, and thereafter, Alicia Patio gave the
pre-arranged signal.

Whom did you give the money?


PROSECUTOR GEROMO continues:
COURT:
No, no. Whom did you see first?

Q After that pre-arranged signal. . . by the way, what was that pre-arranged
signal?

PROSECUTOR GEROMO:

A By combing her hair, sir.

Whom did you see first?

Q After you saw that pre-arranged signal given by Alicia Patio, what did you
do?

WITNESS continues:
A We immediately approached Jojo who at that time was in the mahjong place
because they wanted to play mahjong, but they were not able to play
mahjong because we arrested him.[21]

A It was Tessie, sir.


COURT (TO WITNESS):
Q From where?

The testimonial evidence was supported by the physical evidence on record. The three
A From the house of a certain Camargo.

[22]

packs

-- containing a white crystalline substance weighing .7 gram -- which were received from

COURT continues:
petitioner Fortich, were turned over to the PNP Crime Laboratory, Camp Sotero Cabahug, Cebu City,
Q She came from the house of Camargo?
for analysis. During trial, these three packs were submitted and marked in evidence. Police Inspector
A Yes, Your Honor.
Myrna Areola, PNP Forensic Analyst, testified that the substance contained in the packs were positive
COURT (TO PROSECUTOR GEROMO):
Proceed.
PROSECUTOR GEROMO continues:

for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride or shabu. Said finding was indicated in Physical Science Report
No. C-263-96.[23]

Petitioners contend that the RTC decision is contrary to law and jurisprudence. They claim that despite

Such argument will not help petitioners get out of the predicament they are in. The recording of

the failure of the raiding/searching team to submit an inventory of the confiscated articles to the court

marked money used in a buy-bust operation is not one of the elements for the prosecution of sale of

which issued the search warrant, the court still considered the shabu in convicting them.

illegal drugs. The recording or non-recording thereof in an official record will not necessarily lead to
an acquittal as long as the sale of the prohibited drug is adequately proven. In the case at bar,

This contention is untenable.

SPO2 Patio, the poseur-buyer, testified on the circumstances regarding the sale of the shabu for which
petitioners were charged and convicted. Settled is the rule that in the prosecution for the sale of

The instant case involves the sale of shabu (Crim. Case No. DNO-1532) which is separate and distinct

dangerous drugs, the absence of marked money does not create a hiatus in the evidence for the

from Criminal Cases No. DNO-1533 and No. DNO-1534 involving Illegal Possession of Shabu and

prosecution as long as the sale of dangerous drugs is adequately proven and the drug subject of the

Firearm. In the two latter cases, petitioner Suson and accused Camargo were acquitted. It is in this case

transaction is presented before the court. Neither law nor jurisprudence requires the presentation of any

for illegal possession of shabu that the court stated that the raiding team allegedly did not make an

money used in the buy-bust operation.[24] What is material to a prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous

inventory of the confiscated drugs. Nowhere in the decision did the court say that the lack of inventory

drugs is the proof that the transaction or sale actually took place, coupled with the presentation in court

referred to the case for the sale of shabu (Criminal Case No. DNO-1532). In the case for the sale

of the corpus delicti as evidence.[25] In the instant case, both were sufficiently shown by the

of shabu which is now pending before this Court, no inventory or return of search warrant is required

prosecution.

because the shabu involved was not confiscated by virtue of a search warrant; same was obtained by
the poseur- buyer because it was delivered to her by petitioner Fortich after payment was made to
petitioner Suson. As previously discussed, the shabu sold to the poseur-buyer was subjected to

Petitioners deny that a buy-bust operation took place and claim that the evidence against
them is planted evidence.

laboratory examination and presented in court as evidence which clearly proves the identity of the
drug. Thus, petitioners reliance on the statement of the RTC that grave doubt is entertained as to the

We are not convinced. The defense of denial or frame-up, like alibi, has been viewed with

genuineness of the specimen for the searching teams failure to submit an inventory thereof, is

disfavor for it can easily be concocted and is a common defense ploy in most prosecutions for violation

misplaced.

of the Dangerous Drugs Act. [26] Denial is a weak form of defense, particularly when it is not
substantiated by clear and convincing evidence just like in the case before us.

To further cast doubts on the validity and regularity of the buy-bust operation, petitioners argue that
the marked money allegedly used in the buy-bust was not officially marked since the same was merely
recorded in a private logbook.

All told, the illegal sale of drugs having been established beyond reasonable doubt, we are
constrained to uphold petitioners conviction.

Finally, we determine the proper imposable penalty. The proper penalty to be imposed for
the illegal sale of 0.7 gram of shabu would be a prision correcional, pursuant to the second paragraph
of Section 20 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by Section 17 of Republic Act No. 7659 and in
consonance with the doctrine laid down in People v. Simon.[27] Further, applying the Indeterminate
Sentence Law, the imposable penalty should be the indeterminate sentence of SIX (6)MONTHS
OF ARRESTO MAYOR, as the minimum, to FOUR (4) YEARS AND TWO (2) MONTHS
OF PRISION CORRECCIONAL, as the maximum.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the trial court in Criminal Case No. DNO-1532 convicting
petitioners Teresita B. Suson and Antonio S. Fortich for the sale of 0.7 gram of "shabu" is
hereby AFFIRMED, with the MODIFICATION that the penalty of imprisonment to be imposed
should be the indeterminate sentence of SIX (6) MONTHS OF ARRESTO MAYOR, as minimum, to
FOUR (4) YEARS AND TWO (2) MONTHS OF PRISION CORRECCIONAL, as maximum.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 125299 January 22, 1999

their serial numbers in the police blotter. The team rode in two cars and headed for the
target area.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
FLORENCIO DORIA y BOLADO and VIOLETA GADDAO y CATAMA @
"NENETH," accused-appellants.

PUNO, J.:
On December 7, 1995, accused-appellants Florencio Doria y Bolado and Violeta Gaddao y
Catama @ "Neneth" were charged with violation of Section 4, in relation to Section 21 of the
1
Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. The information reads:
That on or about the 5th day of December, 1995 in the City of
Mandaluyong, Philippines, a place within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating
and mutually helping and aiding one another and without having been
authorized by law, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
sell, administer, deliver and give away to another eleven (11) plastic
bags of suspected marijuana fruiting tops weighing 7,641.08 grams in
violation of the above-cited law.
CONTRARY TO LAW.

The prosecution contends the offense was committed as follows: In November 1995,
members of the North Metropolitan District, Philippine National Police (PNP) Narcotics
Command (Narcom), received information from two (2) civilian informants (CI) that one "Jun"
was engaged in illegal drug activities in Mandaluyong City. The Narcom agents decided to
entrap and arrest "Jun" in a buy-bust operation. As arranged by one of the CI's, a meeting
between the Narcom agents and "Jun" was scheduled on December 5, 1995 at E. Jacinto
Street in Mandaluyong City.
On December 5, 1995, at 6:00 in the morning, the CI went to the PNP Headquarters at
EDSA, Kamuning, Quezon City to prepare for the buy-bust operation. The Narcom agents
formed Team Alpha composed of P/Insp. Nolasco Cortes as team leader and PO3 Celso
Manlangit, SPO1 Edmund Badua and four (4) other policemen as members. P/Insp. Cortes
designated P03 Manlangit as the poseur-buyer and SPO1 Badua as his back-up, and the rest
of the team as perimeter security. Superintendent Pedro Alcantara, Chief of the North
Metropolitan District PNP Narcom, gave the team P2, 000. 00 to cover operational expenses.
From this sum, PO3 Manlangit set aside P1,600.00 a one thousand peso bill and six (6)
3
one hundred peso bills as money for the buy-bust operation. The market price of one kilo
of marijuana was then P1,600.00. P03 Manlangit marked the bills with his initials and listed

At 7:20 of the same morning, "Jun" appeared and the CI introduced PO3 Manlangit as
interested in buying one (1) kilo of marijuana. P03 Manlangit handed "Jun" the marked bills
worth P1,600.00. "Jun" instructed P03 Manlangit to wait for him at the corner of Shaw
5
Boulevard and Jacinto Street while he got the marijuana from his associate. An hour later,
"Jun" appeared at the agreed place where P03 Manlangit, the CI and the rest of the team
were waiting. "Jun" took out from his bag an object wrapped in plastic and gave it to P03
Manlangit. P03 Manlangit forthwith arrested "Jun" as SPO1 Badua rushed to help in the
arrest. They frisked "Jun" but did not find the marked bills on him. Upon inquiry, "Jun"
6
revealed that he left the money at the house of his associate named "Neneth. "Jun" led the
police team to "Neneth's" house nearby at Daang Bakal.
The team found the door of "Neneth's" house open and a woman inside. "Jun" identified the
7
woman as his associate. SPO1 Badua asked "Neneth" about the P1,600.00 as PO3
Manlangit looked over "Neneth's" house. Standing by the door, PO3 Manlangit noticed a
carton box under the dining table. He saw that one of the box's flaps was open and inside the
box was something wrapped in plastic. The plastic wrapper and its contents appeared similar
to the marijuana earlier "sold" to him by "Jun." His suspicion aroused, PO3 Manlangit entered
"Neneth's" house and took hold of the box. He peeked inside the box and found that it
contained ten (10) bricks of what appeared to be dried marijuana leaves.
Simultaneous with the box's discovery, SPO1 Badua recovered the marked bills from
8
"Neneth." The policemen arrested "Neneth." They took "Neneth" and "Jun," together with
the box, its contents and the marked bills and turned them over to the investigator at
headquarters. It was only then that the police learned that "Jun" is Florencio Doria y Bolado
while "Neneth" is Violeta Gaddao y Catama. The one (1) brick of dried marijuana leaves
recovered from "Jun" plus the ten (10) bricks recovered from "Neneth's" house were
9
examined at the PNP Crime Laboratory. The bricks, eleven (11) in all, were found to be
10
dried marijuana fruiting tops of various weights totalling 7,641.08 grams.
The prosecution story was denied by accused-appellants Florencio Doria and Violeta
Gaddao. Florencio Doria, a 33-year old carpenter, testified that on December 5, 1995, at 7:00
in the morning, he was at the gate of his house reading a tabloid newspaper. Two men
appeared and asked him if he knew a certain "Totoy." There were many "Totoys" in their area
and as the men questioning him were strangers, accused-appellant denied knowing any
"Totoy." The men took accused-appellant inside his house and accused him of being a
pusher in their community. When accused-appellant denied the charge, the men led him to
their car outside and ordered him to point out the house of "Totoy." For five (5) minutes,
accused-appellant stayed in the car. Thereafter, he gave in and took them to "Totoy's" house.
Doria knocked on the door of "Totoy's" house but no one answered. One of the men, later
identified as P03 Manlangit, pushed open the door and he and his companions entered and
looked around the house for about three minutes. Accused-appellant Doria was left standing
at the door. The policemen came out of the house and they saw Violeta Gaddao carrying

water from the well. He asked Violeta where "Totoy" was but she replied he was not there.
Curious onlookers and kibitzers were, by that time, surrounding them. When Violeta entered
her house, three men were already inside. Accused-appellant Doria, then still at the door,
overheard one of the men say that they found a carton box. Turning towards them, Doria saw
box on top of the table. The box was open and had something inside. P03 Manlangit ordered
him and Violeta to go outside the house and board the car. They were brought to police
headquarters where they were investigated.
Accused-appellant Doria further declared that his co-accused, Violeta Gaddao, is the wife of
his acquaintance, Totoy Gaddao. He said that he and Totoy Gaddao sometimes drank
together at the neighborhood store. This closeness, however, did not extend to Violeta,
11
Totoy's wife.
Accused-appellant Violeta Gaddao, a 35-year old rice vendor, claimed that on December 5,
1995, she was at her house at Daang Bakal, Mandaluyong City where she lived with her
husband and five (5) children, namely, Arvy, aged 10, Arjay, aged 8, the twins Raymond and
Raynan, aged 5, and Jason, aged 3. That day, accused-appellant woke up at 5:30 in the
morning and bought pan de sal for her children's breakfast. Her husband, Totoy, a
housepainter, had left for Pangasinan five days earlier. She woke her children and bathed
them. Her eldest son, Arvy, left for school at 6:45 A.M. Ten minutes later, she carried her
youngest son, Jayson, and accompanied Arjay to school. She left the twins at home leaving
the door open. After seeing Arjay off, she and Jayson remained standing in front of the school
soaking in the sun for about thirty minutes. Then they headed for home. Along the way, they
passed the artesian well to fetch water. She was pumping water when a man clad in short
pants and denim jacket suddenly appeared and grabbed her left wrist. The man pulled her
and took her to her house. She found out later that the man was P03 Manlangit.
Inside her house were her co-accused Doria and three (3) other persons. They asked her
about a box on top of the table. This was the first time she saw the box. The box was closed
and tied with a piece of green straw. The men opened the box and showed her its contents.
She said she did not know anything about the box and its contents.
Accused-appellant Violeta Gaddao confirmed that her co-accused Florencio Doria was a
friend of her husband, and that her husband never returned to their house after he left for
Pangasinan. She denied the charge against her and Doria and the allegation that marked
12
bills were found in her person.
After trial, the Regional Trial Court, Branch 156, Pasig City convicted the accused-appellants.
The trial court found the existence of an "organized/syndicated crime group" and sentenced
both accused-appellants to death and pay a fine of P500,000.00 each. The dispositive portion
of the decision reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, the guilt of accused, FLORENCIO DORIA y BOLADO @
"Jun" and VIOLETA GADDAO y CATAMA @ "Neneth" having been

established beyond reasonable doubt, they are both


CONVICTED of the present charge against them.
According to the amendatory provisions of Sec. 13 of Republic Act No.
7659 which cover violations of Sec. 4 of Republic Act No. 6425 and
which was exhaustively discussed in People v. Simon, 234 SCRA 555,
the penalty imposable in this case is reclusion perpetua to death and a
fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos.
Taking into consideration, however, the provisions of Sec. 23, also of
Republic Act No. 7659 which explicitly state that:
The maximum penalty shall be imposed if the
offense was committed by any person who belongs
to an organized/syndicated crime group.
An organized/syndicated crime group means a
group of two or more persons collaborating,
confederating or mutually helping one another for
purposes of gain in the commission of any crime.
the Court is hereby constrained to sentence (hereby sentences) said
FLORENCIO DORIA y BOLADO @ "Jun" and VIOLETA GADDAO y
CATAMA @ "Neneth" to DEATH and to pay a fine of Five Hundred
Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) each without subsidiary imprisonment in
case of insolvency and to pay the costs.
The confiscated marijuana bricks (7,641.08 grams) shall be turned over
to the Dangerous Drugs Board, NBI for destruction in accordance with
law.
Let a Commitment Order be issued for the transfer of accused DORIA
from the Mandaluyong City Jail to the New Bilibid Prisons, Muntinlupa
City and also for accused GADDAO for her transfer to the Correctional
Institute for Women, Mandaluyong City.
Let the entire records of this case be forwarded immediately to the
Supreme Court for mandatory review.
SO ORDERED.

13

Before this Court, accused-appellant Doria assigns two errors, thus:


I

THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING WEIGHT TO THE


TESTIMONY OF THE WITNESSES FOR THE PROSECUTION WHEN
THEIR TESTIMONIES WERE SHOT WITH DISCREPANCIES,
INCONSISTENCIES AND THAT THE CORPUS DELICTI OF THE
MARIJUANA ALLEGEDLY TAKEN FROM APPELLANT WAS NOT
POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED BY THE POSEUR-BUYER.

MARIJUANA ALLEGEDLY FOUND INSIDE THE HOUSE OF


15
ACCUSED-APPELLANT.
The assigned errors involve two principal issues: (1) the validity of the buy-bust operation in
the apprehension of accused-appellant Doria; and (2) the validity of the warrantless arrest of
accused-appellant Gaddao, the search of her person and house, and the admissibility of the
pieces of evidence obtained therefrom.

II
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN ADMITTING AS EVIDENCE
THE MARIJUANA FRUITINGS FOUND INSIDE THE CARTON BOX AS
THESE WERE OBTAINED THROUGH A WARRANTLESS SEARCH
14
AND DOES NOT COME WITHIN THE PLAIN VIEW DOCTRINE.
Accused-appellant Violeta Gaddao contends:
I
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING APPELLANT GUILTY
DESPITE THE INCREDIBILITY OF THE POLICE VERSION OF THE
MANNER THE ALLEGED BUY-BUST WAS CONDUCTED.
II
THE PNP OFFICERS' VERSIONS AS TO WHERE THE BUY-BUST
MONEY CAME FROM ARE INCONSISTENT WITH ONE ANOTHER
AND ALSO REEKS WITH INCREDIBILITY.
III
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING APPELLANT GUILTY AND
SENTENCING HER TO DEATH DESPITE THE MANIFESTLY
IRRECONCILABLE INCONSISTENCIES IN THE VERSIONS OF THE
POLICE AS TO HOW AND BY WHOM THE ALLEGED BUY-BUST
MONEY WAS RECOVERED FROM HER, WHICH IN CONSEQUENCE
RESULTS IN THE EVIDENCE, OF RETRIEVAL FROM HER OF THE
SAME, NEBULOUS, AT BEST, NIL, AT WORST.
IV
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN UPHOLDING THE VALIDITY OF THE
WARRANTLESS SEARCH LEADING TO THE SEIZURE OF THE

Accused-appellants were caught by the police in a buy-bust operation. A buy-bust operation


is a form of entrapment employed by peace officers as an effective way of apprehending a
16
criminal in the act of the commission of an offense. Entrapment has received judicial
17
sanction when undertaken with due regard to constitutional and legal safeguards.
Entrapment was unknown in common law. It is a judicially created twentieth-century
American doctrine that evolved from the increasing use of informers and undercover agents
18
in the detection of crimes, particularly liquor and narcotics offenses. Entrapment sprouted
from the doctrine of estoppel and the public interest in the formulation and application of
19
decent standards in the enforcement of criminal law. It also took off from a spontaneous
moral revulsion against using the powers of government to beguile innocent but ductile
20
persons into lapses that they might otherwise resist.
In the American jurisdiction, the term "entrapment" has a generally negative meaning
because it is understood as the inducement of one to commit a crime not contemplated by
21
him, for the mere purpose of instituting a criminal prosecution against him. The classic
definition of entrapment is that articulated by Justice Roberts in Sorrells v. United
22
States, the first Supreme Court decision to acknowledge the concept: "Entrapment is the
conception and planning of an offense by an officer, and his procurement of its commission
by one who would not have perpetrated it except for the trickery, percuasion or fraud of the
23
officers." It consists of two (2) elements: (a) acts of percuasion, trickery, or fraud carried out
by law enforcement officers or the agents to induce a defendant to commit a crime; and (b)
the origin of the criminal design in the minds of the government officials rather than that of the
innocent defendant, such that the crime is the product of the creative activity of the law
24
enforcement officer.
It is recognized that in every arrest, there is a certain amount of entrapment used to outwit
the persons violating or about to violate the law. Not every deception is forbidden. The type of
entrapment the law forbids is the inducing of another to violate the law, the "seduction" of an
25
otherwise innocent person into a criminal career. Where the criminal intent originates
criminal in the mind of the entrapping person and the accused is lured into the commission of
the offense charged in order to prosecute him, there is entrapment and no conviction may be
26
had. Where, however, the criminal intent originates in the mind of the accused and the
criminal offense is completed, the fact that a person acting as a decoy for the state, or public
officials furnished the accused an opportunity for commission of the offense, or that the
accused is aided in the commission of the crime in order to secure the evidence necessary to
27
prosecute him, there is no entrapment and the accused must be convicted. The law
tolerates the use of decoys and other artifices to catch a criminal.

28

Entrapment is recognized as a valid defense that can be raised by an accused and


29
partakes of the nature of a confession and avoidance. It is a positive defense. Initially, an
accused has the burden of providing sufficient evidence that the government induced him to
commit the offense. Once established, the burden shifts to the governmet to show
30
otherwise. When entrapment is raised as a defense, American federal courts and a majority
of state courts use the "subjective" or "origin of intent" test laid down in Sorrells v. United
31
States to determine whether entrapment actually occurred. The focus of the inquiry is on
the accused's predisposition to commit the offense charged, his state of mind and inclination
32
before his initial exposure to government agents. All relevant facts such as the accused's
mental and character traits, his past offenses, activities, his eagerness in committing the
33
crime, his reputation, etc., are considered to assess his state of mind before the crime. The
predisposition test emphasizes the accused's propensity to commit the offense rather than
34
the officer's misconduct and reflects an attempt to draw a line between a "trap for the
35
unwary innocent and the trap for the unwary criminal." If the accused was found to have
been ready and willing to commit the offense at any favorable opportunity, the entrapment
36
defense will fail even if a police agent used an unduly persuasive inducement. Some
37
states, however, have adopted the "objective" test. This test was first authoritatively laid
down in the case of Grossman v. State 38 rendered by the Supreme Court of Alaska. Several
other states have subsequently adopted the test by judicial pronouncement or legislation.
Here, the court considers the nature of the police activity involved and the propriety of police
39
conduct. The inquiry is focused on the inducements used by government agents, on police
conduct, not on the accused and his predisposition to commit the crime. For the goal of the
40
defense is to deter unlawful police conduct. The test of entrapment is whether the conduct
of the law enforcement agent was likely to induce a normally law-abiding person, other than
41
one who is ready and willing, to commit the offense; for purposes of this test, it is presumed
that a law-abiding person would normally resist the temptation to commit a crime that is
42
presented by the simple opportunity to act unlawfully. Official conduct that merely offers
such an opportunity is permissible, but overbearing conduct, such as badgering, cajoling or
43
importuning, or appeals to sentiments such as pity, sympathy, friendship or pleas of
44
desperate illness, are not. Proponents of this test believe that courts must refuse to convict
an entrapped accused not because his conduct falls outside the legal norm but rather
because, even if his guilt has been established, the methods employed on behalf of the
government to bring about the crime "cannot be countenanced." To some extent, this reflects
the notion that the courts should not become tainted by condoning law enforcement
45
improprieties. Hence, the transactions leading up to the offense, the interaction between
the accused and law enforcement officer and the accused's response to the officer's
inducements, the gravity of the crime, and the difficulty of detecting instances of its
commission are considered in judging what the effect of the officer's conduct would on a
46
normal person.
Both the "subjective" and "objective" approaches have been criticized and objected to. It is
claimed that the "subjective" test creates an "anything goes" rule, i.e, if the court determines
that an accused was predisposed to commit the crime charged, no level of police deceit,
47
badgering or other unsavory practices will be deemed impermissible. Delving into the
accused's character and predisposition obscures the more important task of judging police
behavior and prejudices the accused more generally. It ignores the possibility that no matter
what his past crimes and general disposition were, the accused might not have committed
48
the particular crime unless confronted with inordinate inducements. On the other extreme,

the purely "objective" test eliminates entirely the need for considering a particular accused's
predisposition. His predisposition, at least if known by the police, may have an important
bearing upon the question of whether the conduct of the police and and their agents was
49
proper. The undisputed fact that the accused was a dangerous and chronic offender or that
he was a shrewd and active member of a criminal syndicate at the time of his arrest is
50
relegated to irrelevancy.
Objections to the two tests gave birth to hybrid approaches to entrapment. Some states in the
51
52
United States now combine both the "subjective" and "objective" In Cruz v. State, the
Florida Supreme Court declared that the permissibility of police conduct must first be
determined. If this objective test is satisfied, then the analysis turns to whether the accused
53
54
was predisposed to commit the crime. In Baca v. State, the New Mexico Supreme Court
modified the state's entrapment analysis by holding that "a criminal defendant may
successfully assert a defense of entrapment, either by showing lack of predisposition to
commit the crime for which he is charged, or, that the police exceeded the standards of
55
proper investigation. The hybrid approaches combine and apply the "objective" and
"subjective" tests alternatively or concurrently.
As early as 1910, this Court has examined the conduct of law enforcers while apprehending
56
the accused caught in flagrante delicto. In United States v. Phelps, we acquitted the
accused from the offense of smoking opium after finding that the government employee, a
BIR personnel, actually induced him to commit the crime in order to prosecute him. Smith, the
BIR agent, testified that Phelps' apprehension came after he overheard Phelps in a saloon
say that he liked smoking opium on some occasions. Smith's testimony was disregarded. We
accorded significance to the fact that it was Smith who went to the accused three times to
57
convince him to look for an opium den where both of them could smoke this drug. The
58
conduct of the BIR agent was condemned as "most reprehensible." In People v.
59
Abella, we acquitted the accused of the crime of selling explosives after examining the
testimony of the apprehending police officer who pretended to be a merchant. The police
officer offered "a tempting price, . . . a very high one" causing the accused to sell the
explosives. We found that there was inducement, "direct, persistent and effective" by the
police officer and that outside of his testimony, there was no evidence sufficient to convict the
60
61
accused. In People v. Lua Chu and Uy Se Tieng, we convicted the accused after finding
that there was no inducement on the part of the law enforcement officer. We stated that the
Customs secret serviceman smoothed the way for the introduction of opium from Hongkong
to Cebu after the accused had already planned its importation and ordered said drug. We
ruled that the apprehending officer did not induce the accused to import opium but merely
entrapped him by pretending to have an understanding with the Collector of Customs of Cebu
to better assure the seizure of the prohibited drug and the arrest of the surreptitious
62
importers.
It was also in the same case of People v. Lua Chu and Uy Se Tieng 63 we first laid down the
distinction between entrapment vis-a-vis instigation or inducement. Quoting 16 Corpus
64
Juris, we held:

ENTRAPMENT AND INSTIGATION. While it has been said that the


practice of entrapping persons into crime for the purpose of instituting
criminal prosecutions is to be deplored, and while instigation, as
distinguished from mere entrapment, has often been condemned and
has sometimes been held to prevent the act from being criminal or
punishable, the general rule is that it is no defense to the perpetrator of a
crime that facilities for its commission were purposely placed in his way,
or that the criminal act was done at the 'decoy solicitation' of persons
seeking to expose the criminal, or that detectives feigning complicity in
the act were present and apparently assisting in its commission.
Especially is this true in that class of cases where the offense is one of a
kind habitually committed, and the solicitation merely furnishes evidence
of a course of conduct. Mere deception by the detective will not shield
defendant, if the offense was committed by him, free from the influence
or instigation of the detective. The fact that an agent of an owner acts as
a supposed confederate of a thief is no defense to the latter in a
prosecution for larceny, provided the original design was formed
independently of such agent; and where a person approached by the
thief as his confederate notifies the owner or the public authorities, and,
being authorised by them to do so, assists the thief in carrying out the
plan, the larceny is nevertheless committed. It is generally held that it is
no defense to a prosecution for an illegal sale of liquor that the purchase
was made by a "spotter," detective, or hired informer; but there are cases
65
holding the contrary.
The distinction above-quoted was reiterated in two (2) decisions of the Court of Appeals.
66
In People v. Galicia, the appellate court declared that "there is a wide difference between
entrapment and instigation." The instigator practically induces the would-be accused into the
commission of the offense and himself becomes a co-principal. In entrapment, ways and
means are resorted to by the peace officer for the purpose of trapping and capturing the
67
68
lawbreaker in the execution of his criminal plan. In People v. Tan Tiong, the Court of
Appeals further declared that "entrapment is no bar to the prosecution and conviction of the
69
lawbreaker.
The pronouncement of the Court of Appeals in People v. Galicia was affirmed by this Court
70
in People v. Tiu Ua. Entrapment, we further held, is not contrary to public policy. It is
71
instigation that is deemed contrary to public policy and illegal.
It can thus be seen that the concept of entrapment in the American jurisdiction is similar to
instigation or inducement in Philippine jurisprudence. Entrapment in the Philippines is not a
defense available to the accused. It is instigation that is a defense and is considered an
72
absolutory cause. To determine whether there is a entrapment or instigation, our courts
have mainly examined the conduct of the apprehending officers, not the predisposition of the
accused to commit the crime. The "objective" test first applied in United States v. Phelps has
73
been followed in a series of similar cases. Nevertheless, adopting the "objective" approach
74
has not precluded us from likewise applying the "subjective" test. In People v. Boholst, we
applied both tests by examining the conduct of the police officers in a buy-bust operation and

admitting evidence of the accused's membership with the notorious and dreaded Sigue-Sigue
75
Sputnik Gang. We also considered accused's previous his convictions of other crimes and
held that his opprobrious past and membership with the dreaded gang strengthened the
state's evidence against him. Conversely, the evidence that the accused did not sell or
smoke marijuana and did not have any criminal record was likewise admitted in People v.
Yutuc 76thereby sustaining his defense that led to his acquittal.
The distinction between entrapment and instigation has proven to be very material in antinarcotics operations. In recent years, it has become common practice for law enforcement
officers and agents to engage in buy-bust operations and other entrapment procedures in
apprehending drug offenders. Anti-narcotics laws, like anti-gambling laws are regulatory
77
statutes. They are rules of convenience designed to secure a more orderly regulation of the
78
affairs of society, and their violation gives rise to crimes mala prohibita. They are not the
traditional type of criminal law such as the law of murder, rape, theft, arson, etc. that deal with
79
crimes mala in se or those inherently wrongful and immoral. Laws defining crimes mala
prohibita condemn behavior directed, not against particular individuals, but against public
80
order. Violation is deemed a wrong against society as a whole and is generally unattended
81
with any particular harm to a definite person. These offenses are carried on in secret and
the violators resort to many devices and subterfuges to avoid detection. It is rare for any
member of the public, no matter how furiously he condemns acts mala prohibita, to be willing
to assist in the enforcement of the law. It is necessary, therefore, that government in
detecting and punishing violations of these laws, rely, not upon the voluntary action of
aggrieved individuals, but upon the diligence of its own officials. This means that the police
must be present at the time the offenses are committed either in an undercover capacity or
82
through informants, spies or stool pigeons.
Though considered essential by the police in enforcing vice legislation, the confidential
informant system breeds abominable abuse. Frequently, a person who accepts payment from
the police in the apprehension of drug peddlers and gamblers also accept payment from
these persons who deceive the police. The informant himself maybe a drug addict,
pickpocket, pimp, or other petty criminal. For whatever noble purpose it serves, the spectacle
that government is secretly mated with the underworld and uses underworld characters to
83
help maintain law and order is not an inspiring one. Equally odious is the bitter reality of
dealing with unscrupulous, corrupt and exploitative law enforcers. Like the informant,
unscrupulous law enforcers' motivations are legion harassment, extortion, vengeance,
blackmail, or a desire to report an accomplishment to their superiors. This Court has taken
84
judicial notice of this ugly reality in a number of cases where we observed that it is a
common modus operandi of corrupt law enforcers to prey on weak and hapless persons,
85
particularly unsuspecting provincial hicks. The use of shady underworld characters as
informants, the relative ease with which illegal drugs may be planted in the hands or property
of trusting and ignorant persons, and the imposed secrecy that inevitably shrouds all drug
86
deals have compelled this Court to be extra-vigilant in deciding drug cases. Criminal activity
is such that stealth and strategy, although necessary weapons in the arsenal of the police
officer, become as objectionable police methods as the coerced confession and the unlawful
87
search. As well put by the Supreme Court of California in People v. Barraza,

[E]ntrapment is a facet of a broader problem. Along with illegal search


and seizures, wiretapping, false arrest, illegal detention and the third
degree, it is a type of lawless enforcement. They all spring from common
motivations. Each is a substitute for skillful and scientific investigation.
Each is condoned by the sinister sophism that the end, when dealing
with known criminals of the 'criminal class,' justifies the employment of
illegal means. 88
It is thus imperative that the presumption, juris tantum, of regularity in the performance of
official duty by law enforcement agents raised by the Solicitor General be applied with studied
restraint. This presumption should not by itself prevail over the presumption of innocence and
89
the constitutionally-protected rights of the individual. It is the duty of courts to preserve the
purity of their own temple from the prostitution of the criminal law through lawless
90
enforcement. Courts should not allow themselves to be used as an instrument of abuse
and injustice lest an innocent person be made to suffer the unusually severe penalties for
91
drug offenses.
We therefore stress that the "objective" test in buy-bust operations demands that the details
of the purported transaction must be clearly and adequately shown. This must start from the
initial contact between the poseur-buyer and the pusher, the offer to purchase, the promise or
payment of the consideration until the consummation of the sale by the delivery of the illegal
92
drug subject of the sale. The manner by which the initial contact was made, whether or not
through an informant, the offer to purchase the drug, the payment of the "buy-bust" money,
and the delivery of the illegal drug, whether to the informant alone or the police officer, must
be the subject of strict scrutiny by courts to insure that law-abiding citizens are not unlawfully
induced to commit an offense. Criminals must be caught but not at all cost. At the same time,
however, examining the conduct of the police should not disable courts into ignoring the
accused's predisposition to commit the crime. If there is overwhelming evidence of habitual
delinquency, recidivism or plain criminal proclivity, then this must also be considered. Courts
should look at all factors to determine the predisposition of an accused to commit an offense
in so far as they are relevant to determine the validity of the defense of
inducement.1wphi1.nt
In the case at bar, the evidence shows that it was the confidential informant who initially
contacted accused-appellant Doria. At the pre-arranged meeting, the informant was
accompanied by PO3 Manlangit who posed as the buyer of marijuana. P03 Manlangit
handed the marked money to accused-appellant Doria as advance payment for one (1) kilo of
marijuana. Accused-appellant Doria was apprehended when he later returned and handed
the brick of marijuana to P03 Manlangit.
PO3 Manlangit testified in a frank, spontaneous, straightforward and categorical manner and
his credibility was not crumpled on cross-examination by defense counsel. Moreover, P03
Manlangit's testimony was corroborated on its material points by SPO1 Badua, his back-up
security. The non-presentation of the confidential informant is not fatal to the prosecution.
Informants are usually not presented in court because of the need to hide their identity and
93
preserve their invaluable service to the police. It is well-settled that except when the

appellant vehemently denies selling prohibited drugs and there are material inconsistencies
94
in the testimonies of the arresting officers, or there are reasons to believe that the arresting
95
officers had motives to testify falsely against the appellant, or that only the informant was
96
the poseur-buyer who actually witnessed the entire transaction, the testimony of the
informant may be dispensed with as it will merely be corroborative of the apprehending
97
officers' eyewitness testimonies. There is no need to present the informant in court where
98
the sale was actually witnessed and adequately proved by prosecution witnesses.
The inconsistencies in P03 Manlangit's and SPO1 Badua's testimonies and the other police
officers' testimonies are minor and do not detract from the veracity and weight of the
prosecution evidence. The source of the money for the buy-bust operation is not a critical fact
in the case at bar. It is enough that the prosecution proved that money was paid to accusedappellant Doria in consideration of which he sold and delivered the marijuana.
Contrary to accused-appellant Doria's claim, the one kilo of marijuana "sold" by him to PO3
Manlangit was actually identified by PO3 Manlangit himself before the trial court. After
appellants' apprehension, the Narcom agents placed this one (1) brick of marijuana
recovered from appellant Doria inside the carton box lumping it together with the ten (10)
bricks inside. This is why the carton box contained eleven (11) bricks of marijuana when
brought before the trial court. The one (1) brick recovered from appellant Doria and each of
the ten (10) bricks, however, were identified and marked in court. Thus:
ATTY. ARIAS, Counsel for Florencio Doria:
Mr. Police Officer, when you identified that box,. Tell
the court, how were you able to identify that box?
A This is the box that I brought to the crime
laboratory which contained the eleven pieces of
marijuana brick we confiscated from the suspect, sir.
Q Please open it and show those eleven bricks.
PROSECUTOR Witness bringing out from the said
box. . .
ATTY. VALDEZ, Counsel for Violeta Gaddao:
Your Honor, I must protest the line of questioning
considering the fact that we are now dealing with
eleven items when the question posed to the
witness was what was handed to him by Jun?

COURT So be it.
ATTY. ARIAS May we make it of record that the
witness is pulling out them after item from the box
showed to him and brought in front of him.

COURT Why do you know that that is the thing? Are


you sure that is not "tikoy?"
A Yes, your Honor.
Q What makes you so sure?

COURT Noted.
Q Now tell the court, how did you know that those
are the eleven bricks?
xxx xxx xxx
A I have markings on these eleven bricks, sir.

A I am sure that this is the one, your Honor. This is


the Exhibit "A" which I marked before I brought it to
the PCCL, your Honor.
Q What are you sure of?
A I am sure that this is the brick that was given to
me by one alias Jun, sir.

Q Point to the court, where are those markings?


Q What makes you so sure?
A Here, sir, my signature, my initials with the date,
sir.
PROSECUTOR Witness showed a white wrapper
and pointing to CLM and the signature.

A Because I marked it with my own initials before


giving it to the investigator and before we brought it
to the PCCL, your Honor.
xxx xxx xxx

Q Whose signature is that?


ATTY. VALDEZ Your Honor, may we just limit the
inquiry to the basic question of the fiscal as to what
was handed to him by the accused Jun, your Honor?

PROSECUTOR May we request that a tag be


placed on this white plastic bag and this be marked
as Exhibit "D?"
COURT Mark it as Exhibit "D."

PROSECUTOR Your Honor, there is already a


ruling by this Honorable Court, your Honor, despite
reconsideration.

Q To stress, who made the entries of this date,


Exhibit "A" then the other letters and figures on this
plastic?

COURT Let the prosecution do its own thing and


leave the appreciation of what it has done to the
court.

A This one, the signature, I made the signature, the


date and the time and this Exhibit "A."

ATTY. VALDEZ We submit, your Honor.

Q How about this one?

A This brick is the one that was handed to me by the


suspect Jun, sir.

A I don't know who made this marking, sir.

PROSECUTOR May it be of record that this was just


entered this morning.
Q I am asking you about this "itim" and not the
"asul."

A These other marijuana bricks, because during our


follow-up, because according to Jun the money
which I gave him was in the hands of Neneth and so
we proceeded to the house of Neneth, sir.
xxx xxx xxx 99

A This CLM, the date and the time and the Exhibit
"A," I was the one who made these markings, sir.
PROSECUTOR May we place on record that the
one that was enclosed. . .
ATTY. ARIAS Your Honor, there are also entries
included in that enclosure where it appears D-39495 also Exhibit "A," etc. etc., that was not pointed to
by the witness. I want to make it of record that there
are other entries included in the enclosure.
COURT Noted. The court saw it.
Q Now, and this alleged brick of marijuana with a
piece of paper, with a newspaper wrapping with a
piece of paper inside which reads: "D-394-95,
Exhibit A, 970 grams SSL" be marked as our Exhibit
"D-2?"

The first brick identified by P03 Manlangit was the brick of marijuana "given to [him] by
suspect Jun" at the corner of Boulevard and Jacinto Streets. This brick, including the
newspaper and white plastic wrapping were marked as Exhibits "D," "D-l," and "D-2" and
100
described as weighing nine hundred seventy (970) grams.
We also reject appellant's submission that the fact that P03 Manlangit and his team waited
for almost one hour for appellant Doria to give them the one kilo of marijuana after he "paid"
P1,600.00 strains credulity. Appellant cannot capitalize on the circumstance that the money
and the marijuana in the case at bar did not change hands under the usual "kaliwaan"
system. There is no rule of law which requires that in "buy-bust" operations there must be a
simultaneous exchange of the marked money and the prohibited drug between the poseur101
buyer and the pusher. Again, the decisive fact is that the poseur-buyer received the
102
marijuana from the accused-appellant.
We also hold that the warrantless arrest of accused-appellant Doria is not unlawful.
Warrantless arrests are allowed in three instances as provided by Section 5 of Rule 113 of
the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, to wit:
Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. A peace officer or a
private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

COURT Tag it. Mark it.


Q This particular exhibit that you identified, the
wrapper and the contents was given to you by
whom?
A It was given to me by suspect Jun, sir.
Q Whereat?
A At the corner of Boulevard and Jacinto St., sir.
Q How about the other items that you were able to
recover?
xxx xxx xxx

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is


actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;
(b) When an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has
personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has
committed it; and
(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who escaped from a
penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or
temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while
being transferred from one confinement to another.
xxx xxx xxx 103

Under Section 5 (a), as above-quoted, a person may be arrested without a warrant


if he "has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense."
Appellant Doria was caught in the act of committing an offense. When an accused
is apprehended in flagrante delicto as a result of a buy-bust operation, the police
104
are not only authorized but duty-bound to arrest him even without a warrant.
The warrantless arrest of appellant Gaddao, the search of her person and residence, and the
seizure of the box of marijuana and marked bills are different matters.
Our Constitution proscribes search and seizure without a judicial warrant and any evidence
105
obtained without such warrant is inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.
The rule
is, however, not absolute. Search and seizure may be made without a warrant and the
106
evidence obtained therefrom may be admissible in the following instances:
(1) search
108
incident to a lawful arrest;107 (2) search of a moving motor vehicle;
(3) search in violation
109
110
of customs laws; (4) seizure of evidence in plain view;
(5) when the accused himself
111
waives his right against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The prosecution admits that appellant Gaddao was arrested without a warrant of arrest and
the search and seizure of the box of marijuana and the marked bills were likewise made
without a search warrant. It is claimed, however, that the warrants were not necessary
because the arrest was made in "hot pursuit" and the search was an incident to her lawful
arrest.
To be lawful, the warrantless arrest of appellant Gaddao must fall under any of the three (3)
instances enumerated in Section 5 of Rule 113 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure as
aforequoted. The direct testimony of PO3 Manlangit, the arresting officer, however shows
otherwise:

Q How about, the other items that you were able to


recover?
ATTY. VALDEZ: We submit at this juncture, your
Honor, that there will be no basis for that question.
COURT There is. Answer.
A These other marijuana bricks, because during our
follow-up, because according to Jun the money
which I gave him was in the hands of Neneth and so
we proceeded to the house of Neneth, sir.
Q Whereat?
A At Daang Bakal near the crime scene at Shaw
Boulevard, sir.
Q And what happened upon arrival thereat?
A We saw alias Neneth inside the house and we
asked him to give us the buy-bust money, sir.
Q You mentioned "him?"

ATTY. VALDEZ, Counsel for appellant Gaddao:

A Her, sir. We asked her to give us the money, the


marked money which Jun gave her, sir.

We submit at this juncture, your Honor, that there


will be no basis for that question.

Q And what happened?

Q This particular exhibit that you identified, the


wrapper and the contents was given to you by
whom?
A It was given to me by suspect Jun, sir.
Q Whereat?

A At this instance, it was SPO1 Badua who can


testify regarding this buy-bust money, sir.
xxx xxx xxx 112
SPO1 Badua testified on cross-examination that:
Q What was your intention in going to the house of
Aling Neneth?

A At the corner of Boulevard and Jacinto Street, sir.


A To arrest her, sir.

Q But the fact is, Mr. Witness, when you reached the
house of Aling Neneth, Aling Neneth was there?

Q You did not approach her because P03 Manlangit


approached her?

A Yes, sir.

A Yes, sir.

Q As far as you can see, she was just inside her


house?

Q During all the time that this confrontation, arrest or


whatever by SPO3 Manlangit was taking place, you
were just in the side lines?

A I saw her outside, sir.


A I was just watching, sir.
Q She was fetching water as a matter of fact?
A She was 'sa bandang poso.'
Q Carrying a baby?
A No, sir.
Q At that particular time when you reached the
house of Aling Neneth and saw her outside the
house, she was not committing any crime, she was
just outside the house?

Q So you were just an on-looker to what Manlangit


was doing, because precisely according to you your
role in this buy-bust operation was as a back-up?
A Yes, sir.
Q Who got the alleged marijuana from inside the
house of Mrs. Neneth?
A P03 Manlangit, sir.
Q Manlangit got the marijuana?

A No, sir.
A Yes, sir.
Q She was not about to commit any crime because
she was just outside the house doing her daily
chores. Am I correct?

Q And the money from Aling Neneth?


A I don't know, sir.

A I just saw her outside, sir.


Q And at that point in time you already wanted to
arrest her. That is correct, is it not?

Q You did not even know who got the money from
Aling Neneth?
PROSECUTOR:

A Yes, sir.
Q Now, if any memory of your testimony is correct,
according to you SPO1 Manlangit approached her?

There is no basis for this question, your Honor.


Money, there 's no testimony on that.
ATTY. VALDEZ:

A PO3 Manlangit, sir.

I was asking him precisely.

Accused-appellant Gaddao was not caught red-handed during the buy-bust operation to give
ground for her arrest under Section 5 (a) of Rule 113. She was not committing any crime.
Contrary to the finding of the trial court, there was no occasion at all for appellant Gaddao to
114
flee from the policemen to justify her arrest in "hot pursuit."
In fact, she was going about
her daily chores when the policemen pounced on her.

PROSECUTOR:
No basis.
COURT:
Sustained.
Q Alright. I will ask you a question and I expect an
honest answer. According to the records, the
amount of P1,600.00 was recovered from the person
of Aling Neneth. That's right?
A Yes, sir, the buy-bust money.
Q What you are now saying for certain and for the
record is the fact that you were not the one who
retrieved the money from Aling Neneth, it was
Manlangit maybe?
A I saw it, sir.
Q It was Manlangit who got the money from Aling
Neneth?
A The buy-bust money was recovered from the
house of Aling Neneth, sir.
Q It was taken from the house of Aling Neneth, not
from the person of Aling Neneth. Is that what you
are trying to tell the Court?
A No, sir.
ATTY. VALDEZ:
I am through with this witness, your Honor.

113

Neither could the arrest of appellant Gaddao be justified under the second instance of Rule
113. "Personal knowledge" of facts in arrests without warrant under Section 5 (b) of Rule 113
must be based upon "probable cause" which means an "actual belief or reasonable grounds
115
of suspicion."
The grounds of suspicion are reasonable when, in the absence of actual
belief of the arresting officers, the suspicion that the person to be arrested is probably guilty
of committing the offense, is based an actual facts, i.e., supported by circumstances
sufficiently strong in themselves to create the probable cause of guilt of the person to be
116
arrested.
A reasonable suspicion therefore must be founded on probable cause, coupled
117
with good faith on the part of the peace officers making the arrest.
Accused-appellant Gaddao was arrested solely on the basis of the alleged identification
made by her co-accused. PO3 Manlangit, however, declared in his direct examination that
appellant Doria named his co-accused in response to his (PO3 Manlangit's) query as to
118
where the marked money was.
Appellant Doria did not point to appellant Gaddao as his
associate in the drug business, but as the person with whom he left the marked bills. This
identification does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that appellant Gaddao conspired
with her co-accused in pushing drugs. Appellant Doria may have left the money in her
119
house,
with or without her knowledge, with or without any conspiracy. Save for accusedappellant Doria 's word, the Narcom agents had no reasonable grounds to believe that she
was engaged in drug pushing. If there is no showing that the person who effected the
warrantless arrest had, in his own right, knowledge of facts implicating the person arrested to
120
the perpetration of a criminal offense, the arrest is legally objectionable.
Since the warrantless arrest of accused-appellant Gaddao was illegal, it follows that the
search of her person and home and the subsequent seizure of the marked bills and
marijuana cannot be deemed legal as an incident to her arrest. This brings us to the question
of whether the trial court correctly found that the box of marijuana was in plain view, making
its warrantless seizure valid.
Objects falling in plain view of an officer who has a right to be in the position to have that view
are subject to seizure even without a search warrant and maybe introduced in
121
evidence.
The "plain view" doctrine applies when the following requisites concur: (a) the
law enforcement officer in search of the evidence has a prior justification for an intrusion or is
in a position from which he can view a particular area; (b) the discovery of the evidence in
plain view is inadvertent; (c) it is immediately apparent to the officer that the item he observes
122
may be evidence of a crime, contraband or otherwise subject to seizure.
The law
enforcement officer must lawfully make an initial intrusion or properly be in a position from
123
which he can particularly view the area.
In the course of such lawful intrusion, he came
124
inadvertently across a piece of evidence incriminating the accused.
The object must be

open to eye and


125
126
hand
and its discovery inadvertent.

Q I ask you were the flaps of the cover raised or


closed?

It is clear that an object is in plain view if the object itself is plainly exposed to sight. The
difficulty arises when the object is inside a closed container. Where the object seized was
inside a closed package, the object itself is not in plain view and therefore cannot be seized
without a warrant. However, if the package proclaims its contents, whether by its distinctive
configuration, its transparency, or if its contents are obvious to an observer, then the contents
127
are in plain view and may be seized.
In other words, if the package is such that an
experienced observer could infer from its appearance that it contains the prohibited article,
128
then the article is deemed in plain view.
It must be immediately apparent to the police that
the items that they observe may be evidence of a crime, contraband or otherwise subject to
129
seizure.

A It was open, sir. Not like that.

PO3 Manlangit, the Narcom agent who found the box, testified on cross-examination as
follows:

COURT
Go down there. Show to the court.
INTERPRETER
Witness went down the witness stand and
approached a carton box.
A Like this, sir.

ATTY. VALDEZ:
PROSECUTOR
So here we are. When you and Badua arrived, Aling
Neneth was inside the house?

Can we describe it?

A Yes, sir.

ATTY. VALDEZ

Q Badua demanded from Aling Neneth the buy-bust


money?

Yes.
PROSECUTOR

A Yes, sir.
Q At that particular instance, you saw the carton?

One flap is inside and the other flap is standing and


with the contents visible.

A Yes, sir.

COURT

Q This carton, according to you was under a table?

Noted.

A Yes, sir, dining table.

Q At this juncture, you went inside the house?

Q I noticed that this carton has a cover?

A Yes, sir.

A Yes, sir.

Q And got hold of this carton?

A Yes, sir.

A Yes, sir.

Q Did you mention anything to Aling Neneth?

Q You did not have any search warrant?

A I asked her, what's this. . .

A Yes, sir.

Q No, no. no. did you mention anything to Aling


Neneth before getting the carton?

Q In fact, there was nothing yet as far as you were


concerned to validate the fact that Mrs. Gadao was
in possession of the buy-bust money because
according to you, you did not know whether Badua
already retrieved the buy-bust money from her?

A I think it was Badua who accosted Aling Neneth


regarding the buy-bust money and he asked "Sa iyo
galing ang marijuanang ito, nasaan ang buy-bust
money namin?" sir.
Q Making reference to the marijuana that was given
by alias Jun?
A Yes, sir.
Q When you proceeded to take hold of this carton,
Aling Neneth was not yet frisked, is it not [sic]?

A Yes, sir.
Q How far was this from the door?
A Two and a half meters from the door, sir. It was in
plain view.
Q Under the table according to you?
A Yes, sir, dining table.

A I just don't know if she was frisked already by


Badua, sir.
Q Who got hold of this?
A I was the one, sir.
Q You were the one who got this?

Q Somewhere here?
A It's far, sir.
PROSECUTOR
May we request the witness to place it, where he
saw it?

A Yes, sir.
A Here, sir.
Q At that particular point in time, you did not know if
the alleged buy-bust money was already retrieved
by Badua?
A Yes, sir.
Q You went inside the house?

Q What you see is a carton?


A Yes, sir, with plastic.
Q Marked "Snow Time Ice Pop?

A Yes, sir.

COURT

Q With a piece of plastic visible on top of the carton?

Leave that to the court.

A Yes, sir.

PROSECUTOR

Q That is all that you saw?

Leave that to the court.

A Yes, sir.

Q The only reason according to you, you were able


to . . . Look at this, no even Superman . . . I withdraw
that. Not even a man with very kin [sic] eyes can tell
the contents here. And according to the Court, it
could be "tikoy," is it not [sic]?

PROSECUTOR
For the record, your Honor. . .

A Yes, sir.
Q You were only able to verify according to you . . .
Q Siopao?
PRESECUTOR
A Yes, sir.
Panero, wait. Because I am objecting to the words a
piece of plastic. By reading it . . .
ATTY. VALDEZ
That's a piece of plastic.

Q Canned goods?
A Yes, sir.
Q It could be ice cream because it says Snow Pop,
Ice Pop?

PROSECUTOR
By reading it, it will connote . . . this is not a piece of
plastic.
ATTY. VALDEZ
What is that? What can you say, Fiscal? I'm asking
you?

A I presumed it was also marijuana because it may .


..
Q I am not asking you what your presumptions are.
I'm asking you what it could possibly be.
A It's the same plastic, sir.
ATTY. VALDEZ

PROSECUTOR
With due respect, what I am saying is, let's place the
size of the plastic. A piece of plastic may be big or a
small one, for record purposes.

I'm not even asking you that question so why are


you voluntarily saying the information. Let the
prosecutor do that for you.

COURT

high a price for the loss of liberty. As Justice Holmes, again, said, 'I think
it a less evil that some criminals should escape than that the government
should play an ignoble part.' It is simply not allowed in the free society to
violate a law to enforce another, especially if the law violated is the
Constitution itself. 140

Continue. Next question.


xxx xxx xxx

130

P03 Manlangit and the police team were at appellant Gaddao's house because
they were led there by appellant Doria. The Narcom agents testified that they had
no information on appellant Gaddao until appellant Doria name her and led them to
131
her.
Standing by the door of appellant Gaddao's house, P03 Manlangit had a
view of the interior of said house. Two and a half meters away was the dining table
and underneath it was a carton box. The box was partially open and revealed
something wrapped in plastic.
In his direct examination, PO3 Manlangit said that he was sure that the contents of the box
132
were marijuana because he himself checked and marked the said contents.
On crossexamination, however, he admitted that he merely presumed the contents to be marijuana
because it had the same plastic wrapping as the "buy-bust marijuana." A close scrutiny of the
records reveals that the plastic wrapper was not colorless and transparent as to clearly
manifest its contents to a viewer. Each of the ten (10) bricks of marijuana in the box was
individually wrapped in old newspaper and placed inside plastic bags white, pink or blue in
133
color.
PO3 Manlangit himself admitted on cross-examination that the contents of the box
could be items other than marijuana. He did not know exactly what the box contained that he
134
had to ask appellant Gaddao about its contents.
It was not immediately apparent to PO3
Manlangit that the content of the box was marijuana. The marijuana was not in plain view and
its seizure without the requisite search warrant was in violation of the law and the
135
Constitution.
It was fruit of the poisonous tree and should have been excluded and never
136
considered by the trial court.
137

The fact that the box containing about six (6) kilos of marijuana
was found in the house of
accused-appellant Gaddao does not justify a finding that she herself is guilty of the crime
138
139
charged.
Apropos is our ruling in People v. Aminnudin,
viz:
The Court strongly supports the campaign of the government against
drug addiction and commends the efforts of our law enforcement officers
against those who would inflict this malediction upon our people,
especially the susceptible youth. But as demanding as this campaign
may be, it cannot be more so than the compulsions of the Bill of Rights
for the protection of the liberty of every individual in the realm, including
the basest of criminals. The Constitution covers with the mantle of its
protection the innocent and the guilty alike against any manner of highhandedness from the authorities, however praiseworthy their intentions.
Those who are supposed to enforce the law are not justified in
disregarding the right of the individual in the name of order. Order is too

Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6425, the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended by
Section 13 of Republic Act No. 7659 punishes the "sale, administration, delivery, distribution
and transportation of a prohibited drug" with the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a
fine ranging from P500,000.00 to P10 million, to wit:
Sec. 4. Sale, Administration, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of
Prohibited Drugs. The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death, and a
fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos shall
be imposed upon any person who, unless authorized by law, shall sell,
administer, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch in transit or
transport any prohibited drug, or shall act as a broker in any of such
transactions.
xxx xxx xxx
In every prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs, what is material is the
submission of proof that the sale took place between the poseur-buyer and the
seller thereof and the presentation of the drug, i.e., thecorpus delicti, as evidence in
141
court.
The prosecution has clearly established the fact that in consideration of
P1,600.00 which he received, accused-appellant Doria sold and delivered nine
hundred seventy (970) grams of marijuana to PO3 Manlangit, the poseur-buyer.
The prosecution, however, has failed to prove that accused-appellant Gaddao
conspired with accused-appellant Doria in the sale of said drug. There being no
mitigating or aggravating circumstances, the lower penalty of reclusion
142
perpetua must be imposed.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 156, Pasig City acting
as a Special Court in Criminal Case No. 3307-D is reversed and modified as follows:
1. Accused-appellant Florencio Doria y Bolado is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua and to pay a fine of five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00).
2. Accused-appellant Violeta Gaddao y Catama is acquitted.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Martinez, Quisumbing,
Purisima, Pardo, Buena and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.

Panganiban, J., please see concurring opinion.

temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while


being transferred from one confinement to another.
xxx xxx xxx
I shall focus my discussion on the first two rules, which have been most frequently misapplied
and misinterpreted, not only by law enforcers but some trial judges and lawyers as well.

Separate Opinions

PANGANIBAN, J., concurring opinion;


I fully concur with the exhaustive and incisive ponencia of Mr. Justice Reynato S. Puno. This
Decision rightfully brings the Court back to well-settled doctrines on warrantless arrests and
searches, which have seemingly been modified through an obiter in People v. Ruben
1
Montilla. I just wish to outline some guidelines on when an arrest or a search without a
warrant is valid. Hopefully, they would be of help, especially to our law enforcers who are
often faced with actual situations that promptly call for their application.
Valid Arrests
Without Warrants
Sec. 5 of Rule 113 of the Rules of Court lays down the basic rule on when an arrest without a
warrant is lawful. It states:
Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. A peace officer or a
private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is
actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;

At the very outset, I wish to underscore that in both cases the arresting officer must have
personal knowledge of the fact of the commission of an offense. Under Section 5 (a), the
officer himself is a witness to the crime; under Section 5 (b), he knows for a fact that a crime
has just been committed. Let me elaborate.
1. In Flagrante
Delicto Arrests
2

Sec. 5 (a) is commonly referred to as the rule on in flagrante delicto arrests. The accused is
apprehended at the very moment he is committing or attempting to commit or has just
committed an offense in the presence of the arresting officer. There are two elements that
must concur: (1) the person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has
just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (2) such overt
3
act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.
It is not sufficient that the suspect exhibits unusual or strange acts or simply appears
4
suspicious. Thus, in the recent en banc case of Malicat v. Court of Appeals, the Court,
through now Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr., held that the fact that the appellant's eyes
were "moving very fast" and looking at every approaching person were not sufficient to
suspect him of "attempting to commit a crime," much less to justify his arrest and subsequent
search without a warrant. The Court said that "there was nothing in [Malacat's] behavior or
conduct which could have reasonably elicited even mere suspicion" that he was armed with a
deadly weapon. In other words, there was no overt physical act on the part of the suspect,
positively indicating that he had just committed a crime or was committing or attempting to
commit one. There was, therefore, no valid reason for the police officers to arrest or search
him.
5

(b) When an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has
personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has
committed it; and
(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who escaped from a
penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or

The same was true in People v. Mengote, where the arresting police tried to justify the
warrantless arrest of the appellant on the ground that he appeared suspicious. The
"suspicious" acts consisted of his darting eyes and the fact that his hand was over his
abdomen. The Court, rejecting such justification, stated: "By no stretch of the imagination
could it have been inferred from these acts that an offense had just been committed, or was
6
actually being committed, or was at least being attempted in their presence.

In other words, the behavior or conduct of the person to be arrested must be clearly indicative
of a criminal act. If there is no outward indication at all that calls for an arrest, the suspect
cannot be validly apprehended under this paragraph, notwithstanding a tip from an informant
that he would at the time be undertaking a felonious enterprise.
7

This doctrine found strength in People v. Aminnudin and again in People v. Encinada. In
both cases, the appellants were arrested while disembarking from a ship, on account of a tip
received from an informant that they were carrying prohibited drugs. The Court invalidated
their warrantless arrests, explaining that at the moment of their arrests, the appellants were
simply descending the gangplank, without manifesting any suspicious behavior that would
reasonably invite the attention of the police. To all appearances, they were not committing a
crime; nor was it shown that they were about to do so or had just done so. There was,
therefore, no valid reason for their arrests.
Adhering to (and having faith in) the above rules, I respectfully disagreed with the
9
distinguished Mr. Justice Florenz D. Regalado in People v. Montilla, when he upheld the
validity of the warrantless arrest of the appellant while the latter was merely alighting from a
passenger jeepney. I opined that Montilla could not have been perceived as committing a
crime while merely alighting from a jeepney carrying a traveling bag and a carton. He did not
exhibit any overt act or strange conduct that would reasonably arouse in the minds of the
police suspicion that he was embarking on a felonious undertaking. There was no outward
manifestation that he had just committed or was committing or attempting to commit an
offense. Mercifully, the statement of the Court that Montilla's arrest was valid because he was
caught in flagrante delicto was only an obiter, for what finally nailed him down was his implied
waiver of any objection to the validity of his arrest.
2. "Hot Pursuit"
Arrests
10

Sec. 5 (b) is otherwise known as the rule on "hot pursuit" arrests. Here, two elements must
also concur prior to the arrest: (1) and "offense has in fact been committed," (2) the arresting
officer "has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested . . .
committed [the offense]." In effecting this type of arrest, "it is not enough that there is
reasonable ground to believe that the person to be arrested has committed a crime. A crime
must in fact or actually have been committed first. . . . The fact of the commission of the
11
offense must be undisputed.
Thus, while the law enforcers may not actually witness the execution of acts constituting the
offense, they must have direct knowledge or view of the crime right after its commission.
They should know for a fact that a crime was committed. AND they must also perceive acts
exhibited by the person to be arrested, indicating that he perpetrated the crime. Again, mere
intelligence information that the suspect committed the crime will not suffice. The arresting
officers themselves must have personal knowledge of facts showing that the suspect
performed the criminal act. Personal knowledge means actual belief or reasonable grounds

of suspicion, based on actual facts, that the person to be arrested is probably guilty of
12
committing the crime.
In several cases wherein third persons gave law enforcers information that certain individuals
or groups were engaged in some felonious activities, such relayed information was not
13
deemed equivalent to personal knowledge of the lawmen. In People v. Burgos, a certain
Masamlok informed police authorities that the appellant was involved in subversive activities.
Acting on the strength of such information and without securing a judicial warrant, the police
proceeded to appellant's house to arrest him. There, they also allegedly recovered an
unlicensed firearm and subversive materials.
The Court held that there was no personal knowledge on the part of the arresting officers,
since the information came in its entirety from Masamlok, a civilian. We pointed out that at the
time of his arrest, appellant was not in actual possession of any firearm or subversive
14
document; neither was he committing a subversive act. His warrantless arrest, therefore,
could not be allowed under any of the instances in Rule 113, Section 6 (now 5) of the Rules
of Court.
Also in Encinada, the appellant was arrested without a warrant, on the justification that the
arresting officer "received an intelligence report that appellant who was carrying marijuana
would arrive the next morning aboard M/V Sweet Pearl." The Court categorically stated that
15
such "[r]aw intelligence information is not a sufficient ground for a warrantless arrest." And
since, at the time of his arrest, no act or fact demonstrating a felonious enterprise could be
ascribed to appellant, there was no valid justification for his arrest.
To be distinguished from the above cases are those involving continuing offenses for which
16
the culprit could be arrested any time in flagrante delicto. In Umil v. Ramos, there were
strong objections to the warrantless arrest of a suspected member of the New People's Army
(NPA), while he was being treated for a gunshot wound in a hospital. He alleged that there
was no valid justification for his arrest without a warrant, because he was not then committing
any offense nor were there any indications that he had just committed or was about to
commit one; he was in fact confined in a hospital.
The Court held that subversion, for which he was arrested and subsequently charged, was a
continuing offense. For purposes of arrest, the Court said, the NPA member "did not cease to
be, or became less of a subversive, . . . simply because he was, at the time of his arrest,
confined in the . . . [hospital]." "Unlike other so-called 'common' offenses, i.e., adultery,
murder, arson, etc., which generally end upon their commission, subversion and rebellion are
anchored on an ideological base which compels the repetition of the same acts of
lawlessness and violence until the overriding object of overthrowing organized government is
17
attained.
In the above instances where the arrests without warrants were held unlawful, so were the
searches conducted subsequent thereto. Thus, the items seized consequent to the invalid
search, though clearly prohibited by law (e.g. marijuana or unlicensed firearm), were

considered inadmissable as evidence against the person wrongfully arrested. Important to


bear in mind always is that any search conducted without a judicial warrant must be prcceded
by a lawful arrest, whether with or without a warrant duly issued therefor.
To underscore the rationale behind these strict rules, I deem it quite apt to quote these
18
inspiring words from the precedent-setting case of People v. Burgos:
The right of a person to be secure against any unreasonable seizure of
his body and any deprivation of his liberty is a most basic and
fundamental one. The statute or rule which allows exceptions to the
requirement of warrants of arrest is strictly construed. Any exception
must clearly fall within the situations when securing a warrant would be
absurd or is manifestly unnecessary as provided by the Rule. We cannot
liberally construe the rule on arrests without warrant or extend its
application beyond the cases specifically provided by law. To do so
would infringe upon personal liberty and set back a basic right so often
violated and so deserving of full protection.
Valid Searches
Without Warrant
The general rule is that a judicial warrant must first be duly obtained before search and
seizure may be conducted. The only allowable instances in which a search may be
conducted without a warrant are: (1) search incident to lawful arrest, (2) search pursuant to
the "plain view" doctrine, (3) search of moving vehicles, (4) searches incidental to violation of
19
customs laws, (5) search with consent, and (6) a "stop and frisk.
1. Search Incident
to Lawful Arrest
Section 12 of Rule 126 provides that a lawfully arrested person may be searched without a
warrant for dangerous weapons or anything else that may be used as evidence of the
offense. Such incidental search is, however, limited to the person of the arrestee at the time
of the apprehension. The search cannot be extended to or made in a place other than the
20
place of the arrest.
2. The "Plain View"
Doctrine

The "plain view" doctrine applies when the following requisites concur: (1) the law
enforcement officer is in a position where he has a clear view of a particular area or has prior
justification for an intrusion; (2) said officer inadvertently comes across (or sees in plainview)
a piece of incriminating evidence; and (3) it is immediately apparent to such officer that the
item he sees may be evidence of a crime or a contraband or is otherwise subject to
21
seizure.
3. Search of
Moving Vehicles
The warrantless search of moving vehicles (including shipping vessels and aircraft) is justified
22
by practicability,viz.:
The guaranty of freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures
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.
xxx xxx xxx
The automobile is a swift and powerful vehicle . . . Constructed as
covered vehicles to standard form in immense quantities, and with a
capacity for speed rivaling express trains they furnish for successful
commission of crime a distinguishing means of silent approach and swift
escape unknown in the history of the world before their advent. The
question of their police control and reasonable search on highways or
other public place is a serious question far deeper and broader than their
use in so-called 'bootlegging' or 'rum running,' which in itself is no small
matter. While a possession in the sense of private ownership, they are
but a vehicle constructed for travel and transportation on highways. Their
active use is not in homes or on private premises, the privacy of which
the law especially guards from search and seizure without process. The
baffling extent to which they are successfully utilized to facilitate
commission of crime of all degrees, from those against morality, chastity,
and decency to robbery, rape, burglary, and murder, is a matter of
common knowledge. Upon that problem, a condition, and not a theory,
confronts proper administration of our criminal laws. Whether search of
and seizure from an automobile upon a highway or other public place
without a search warrant is unreasonable is in its final analysis to be
determined as a judicial question in view of all the circumstances under
which it is made.

4. Customs Searches
Under the Tariff and Customs Code, searches, seizures and arrests may be made even
without warrants, for purposes of enforcing customs and tariff laws. Without mention of the
need to priorly obtain a judicial warrant, the Code specifically allows police authorities to
"enter, pass through or search any land, enclosure, warehouse, store or building, not being a
dwelling house; and also to inspect, search and examine any vessel or aircraft and any trunk,
package, box or envelope or any person on board[;]or stop and search and examine any
vehicle, beast or person suspected of holding or conveying any dutiable or prohibited article
23
introduced into the Philippines contrary to law.
5. Search With Consent
Waiver of any objection to the unresonableness or invalidity of a search is a recognized
24
exception to the rule against a warrantless search. The consent to the search, however,
must be express knowing and voluntary. A search based merely on implied acquiescene is
not valid, because such consent is not within the purview of the constitutional gurantee, but
only a passive conformity to the search given under intimidating and coercive
25
circumstances.
6. Stop and Frisk
The "stop and frisk" concept is of American origin, the most notable case thereon being Terry
27
v. Ohio. The idea is that a police officer may after properly introducing himself and making
initial inquiries, approach and restrain a person manifesting unusual and suspicious conduct,
in order to check, the latter's outer clothing for possibly concealed weapons. The strict
28
manner in which this notion should be applied has been laid down as follows:
. . . where a police officer observes unusual conduct which leads him
reasonably to conclude in the light of his experience that criminal activity
may be afoot and that the persons with whom he is dealing may be
armed and presently dangerous, where in the course of investigating this
behaviour, he identifies himself as a policeman and makes reasonable
inquiries, and where nothing in the initial stages of the encounter serves
to dispel his reasonable fear for his own and others' safety, he is entitled
for the protection of himself and others in the area to conduct a carefully
limited search of the outer clothing of such persons in an attempt to
discover weapons which might be used to assault him.
As in the warrantless arrest of a person reasonably suspected of having just committed a
crime, mere suspicious behavior would not call for a "stop and frisk." There must be a
genuine reason, in accordance with the police officer's experience and the surrounding
conditions, to warrant the belief that the person to be held has weapons (or contraband)
29
concealed about him.

30

A valid application of the doctrine was recognized in Posadas v. Court of Appeals and
31
in Manalili v. Court of Appeals. In Manalili, the law enforcers who were members of the
Anti-Narcotics Unit of the Caloocan City Police, observed during their surveillance that
appellant had red eyes and was walking in a wobby manner along the city cemetery which,
according to police information, was a popular hangout of drug addicts. Based on police
experience, such suspicious behaviour was characteristic of persons who were "high" on
drugs. The Court held that past experience and the surrounding circumstances gave the
police sufficient reason to stop the suspect and to investigate if he was really high on drugs.
The marijuana that they found in the suspect's possession was held to be admissible in
evidence.
Before I end, I must reiterate that the above exceptions to the general rule on the necessity of
a judicial warrant for any arrest, search and seizure must all be strictly construed. Foremost
in our minds must still be every person's prized and fundamental right to liberty and security,
a right protected and guaranteed by our Constitution.
WHEREFORE, I vote to ACQUIT Appellant Violeta Gaddao y Catama, as well as to
REDUCE the penalty of Appellant Florencio Doria y Bolado to reclusion perpetua and a fine
of P500,000.
Separate Opinions
PANGANIBAN, J., concurring opinion;
I fully concur with the exhaustive and incisive ponencia of Mr. Justice Reynato S. Puno. This
Decision rightfully brings the Court back to well-settled doctrines on warrantless arrests and
searches, which have seemingly been modified through an obiter in People v. Ruben
1
Montilla. I just wish to outline some guidelines on when an arrest or a search without a
warrant is valid. Hopefully, they would be of help, especially to our law enforcers who are
often faced with actual situations that promptly call for their application.
Valid Arrests
Without Warrants
Sec. 5 of Rule 113 of the Rules of Court lays down the basic rule on when an arrest without a
warrant is lawful. It states:
Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. A peace officer or a
private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is
actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;

(b) When an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has
personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has
committed it; and
(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who escaped from a
penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or
temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while
being transferred from one confinement to another.

"suspicious" acts consisted of his darting eyes and the fact that his hand was over his
abdomen. The Court, rejecting such justification, stated: "By no stretch of the imagination
could it have been inferred from these acts that an offense had just been committed, or was
6
actually being committed, or was at least being attempted in their presence.
In other words, the behavior or conduct of the person to be arrested must be clearly indicative
of a criminal act. If there is no outward indication at all that calls for an arrest, the suspect
cannot be validly apprehended under this paragraph, notwithstanding a tip from an informant
that he would at the time be undertaking a felonious enterprise.

xxx xxx xxx

I shall focus my discussion on the first two rules, which have been most frequently misapplied
and misinterpreted, not only by law enforcers but some trial judges and lawyers as well.
At the very outset, I wish to underscore that in both cases the arresting officer must have
personal knowledge of the fact of the commission of an offense. Under Section 5 (a), the
officer himself is a witness to the crime; under Section 5 (b), he knows for a fact that a crime
has just been committed. Let me elaborate.
1. In Flagrante
Delicto Arrests
2

Sec. 5 (a) is commonly referred to as the rule on in flagrante delicto arrests. The accused is
apprehended at the very moment he is committing or attempting to commit or has just
committed an offense in the presence of the arresting officer. There are two elements that
must concur: (1) the person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has
just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (2) such overt
3
act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.

This doctrine found strength in People v. Aminnudin and again in People v. Encinada. In
both cases, the appellants were arrested while disembarking from a ship, on account of a tip
received from an informant that they were carrying prohibited drugs. The Court invalidated
their warrantless arrests, explaining that at the moment of their arrests, the appellants were
simply descending the gangplank, without manifesting any suspicious behavior that would
reasonably invite the attention of the police. To all appearances, they were not committing a
crime; nor was it shown that they were about to do so or had just done so. There was,
therefore, no valid reason for their arrests.
Adhering to (and having faith in) the above rules, I respectfully disagreed with the
9
distinguished Mr. Justice Florenz D. Regalado in People v. Montilla, when he upheld the
validity of the warrantless arrest of the appellant while the latter was merely alighting from a
passenger jeepney. I opined that Montilla could not have been perceived as committing a
crime while merely alighting from a jeepney carrying a traveling bag and a carton. He did not
exhibit any overt act or strange conduct that would reasonably arouse in the minds of the
police suspicion that he was embarking on a felonious undertaking. There was no outward
manifestation that he had just committed or was committing or attempting to commit an
offense. Mercifully, the statement of the Court that Montilla's arrest was valid because he was
caught in flagrante delicto was only an obiter, for what finally nailed him down was his implied
waiver of any objection to the validity of his arrest.
2. "Hot Pursuit"

It is not sufficient that the suspect exhibits unusual or strange acts or simply appears
4
suspicious. Thus, in the recent en banc case of Malicat v. Court of Appeals, the Court,
through now Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr., held that the fact that the appellant's eyes
were "moving very fast" and looking at every approaching person were not sufficient to
suspect him of "attempting to commit a crime," much less to justify his arrest and subsequent
search without a warrant. The Court said that "there was nothing in [Malacat's] behavior or
conduct which could have reasonably elicited even mere suspicion" that he was armed with a
deadly weapon. In other words, there was no overt physical act on the part of the suspect,
positively indicating that he had just committed a crime or was committing or attempting to
commit one. There was, therefore, no valid reason for the police officers to arrest or search
him.
5

The same was true in People v. Mengote, where the arresting police tried to justify the
warrantless arrest of the appellant on the ground that he appeared suspicious. The

Arrests
10

Sec. 5 (b) is otherwise known as the rule on "hot pursuit" arrests. Here, two elements must
also concur prior to the arrest: (1) and "offense has in fact been committed," (2) the arresting
officer "has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested . . .
committed [the offense]." In effecting this type of arrest, "it is not enough that there is
reasonable ground to believe that the person to be arrested has committed a crime. A crime
must in fact or actually have been committed first. . . . The fact of the commission of the
11
offense must be undisputed.
Thus, while the law enforcers may not actually witness the execution of acts constituting the
offense, they must have direct knowledge or view of the crime right after its commission.

They should know for a fact that a crime was committed. AND they must also perceive acts
exhibited by the person to be arrested, indicating that he perpetrated the crime. Again, mere
intelligence information that the suspect committed the crime will not suffice. The arresting
officers themselves must have personal knowledge of facts showing that the suspect
performed the criminal act. Personal knowledge means actual belief or reasonable grounds
of suspicion, based on actual facts, that the person to be arrested is probably guilty of
12
committing the crime.
In several cases wherein third persons gave law enforcers information that certain individuals
or groups were engaged in some felonious activities, such relayed information was not
13
deemed equivalent to personal knowledge of the lawmen. In People v. Burgos, a certain
Masamlok informed police authorities that the appellant was involved in subversive activities.
Acting on the strength of such information and without securing a judicial warrant, the police
proceeded to appellant's house to arrest him. There, they also allegedly recovered an
unlicensed firearm and subversive materials.
The Court held that there was no personal knowledge on the part of the arresting officers,
since the information came in its entirety from Masamlok, a civilian. We pointed out that at the
time of his arrest, appellant was not in actual possession of any firearm or subversive
14
document; neither was he committing a subversive act. His warrantless arrest, therefore,
could not be allowed under any of the instances in Rule 113, Section 6 (now 5) of the Rules
of Court.
Also in Encinada, the appellant was arrested without a warrant, on the justification that the
arresting officer "received an intelligence report that appellant who was carrying marijuana
would arrive the next morning aboard M/V Sweet Pearl." The Court categorically stated that
15
such "[r]aw intelligence information is not a sufficient ground for a warrantless arrest." And
since, at the time of his arrest, no act or fact demonstrating a felonious enterprise could be
ascribed to appellant, there was no valid justification for his arrest.
To be distinguished from the above cases are those involving continuing offenses for which
16
the culprit could be arrested any time in flagrante delicto. In Umil v. Ramos, there were
strong objections to the warrantless arrest of a suspected member of the New People's Army
(NPA), while he was being treated for a gunshot wound in a hospital. He alleged that there
was no valid justification for his arrest without a warrant, because he was not then committing
any offense nor were there any indications that he had just committed or was about to
commit one; he was in fact confined in a hospital.
The Court held that subversion, for which he was arrested and subsequently charged, was a
continuing offense. For purposes of arrest, the Court said, the NPA member "did not cease to
be, or became less of a subversive, . . . simply because he was, at the time of his arrest,
confined in the . . . [hospital]." "Unlike other so-called 'common' offenses, i.e., adultery,
murder, arson, etc., which generally end upon their commission, subversion and rebellion are
anchored on an ideological base which compels the repetition of the same acts of
lawlessness and violence until the overriding object of overthrowing organized government is
17
attained.

In the above instances where the arrests without warrants were held unlawful, so were the
searches conducted subsequent thereto. Thus, the items seized consequent to the invalid
search, though clearly prohibited by law (e.g. marijuana or unlicensed firearm), were
considered inadmissable as evidence against the person wrongfully arrested. Important to
bear in mind always is that any search conducted without a judicial warrant must be prcceded
by a lawful arrest, whether with or without a warrant duly issued therefor.
To underscore the rationale behind these strict rules, I deem it quite apt to quote these
18
inspiring words from the precedent-setting case of People v. Burgos:
The right of a person to be secure against any unreasonable seizure of
his body and any deprivation of his liberty is a most basic and
fundamental one. The statute or rule which allows exceptions to the
requirement of warrants of arrest is strictly construed. Any exception
must clearly fall within the situations when securing a warrant would be
absurd or is manifestly unnecessary as provided by the Rule. We cannot
liberally construe the rule on arrests without warrant or extend its
application beyond the cases specifically provided by law. To do so
would infringe upon personal liberty and set back a basic right so often
violated and so deserving of full protection.
Valid Searches
Without Warrant
The general rule is that a judicial warrant must first be duly obtained before search and
seizure may be conducted. The only allowable instances in which a search may be
conducted without a warrant are: (1) search incident to lawful arrest, (2) search pursuant to
the "plain view" doctrine, (3) search of moving vehicles, (4) searches incidental to violation of
19
customs laws, (5) search with consent, and (6) a "stop and frisk.
1. Search Incident
to Lawful Arrest
Section 12 of Rule 126 provides that a lawfully arrested person may be searched without a
warrant for dangerous weapons or anything else that may be used as evidence of the
offense. Such incidental search is, however, limited to the person of the arrestee at the time
of the apprehension. The search cannot be extended to or made in a place other than the
20
place of the arrest.
2. The "Plain View"

Doctrine

determined as a judicial question in view of all the circumstances under


which it is made.

The "plain view" doctrine applies when the following requisites concur: (1) the law
enforcement officer is in a position where he has a clear view of a particular area or has prior
justification for an intrusion; (2) said officer inadvertently comes across (or sees in plainview)
a piece of incriminating evidence; and (3) it is immediately apparent to such officer that the
item he sees may be evidence of a crime or a contraband or is otherwise subject to
21
seizure.
3. Search of
Moving Vehicles
The warrantless search of moving vehicles (including shipping vessels and aircraft) is justified
22
by practicability,viz.:
The guaranty of freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures
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.

4. Customs Searches
Under the Tariff and Customs Code, searches, seizures and arrests may be made even
without warrants, for purposes of enforcing customs and tariff laws. Without mention of the
need to priorly obtain a judicial warrant, the Code specifically allows police authorities to
"enter, pass through or search any land, enclosure, warehouse, store or building, not being a
dwelling house; and also to inspect, search and examine any vessel or aircraft and any trunk,
package, box or envelope or any person on board[;]or stop and search and examine any
vehicle, beast or person suspected of holding or conveying any dutiable or prohibited article
23
introduced into the Philippines contrary to law.
5. Search With Consent
Waiver of any objection to the unresonableness or invalidity of a search is a recognized
24
exception to the rule against a warrantless search. The consent to the search, however,
must be express knowing and voluntary. A search based merely on implied acquiescene is
not valid, because such consent is not within the purview of the constitutional gurantee, but
only a passive conformity to the search given under intimidating and coercive
25
circumstances.
6. Stop and Frisk

xxx xxx xxx


The automobile is a swift and powerful vehicle . . . Constructed as
covered vehicles to standard form in immense quantities, and with a
capacity for speed rivaling express trains they furnish for successful
commission of crime a distinguishing means of silent approach and swift
escape unknown in the history of the world before their advent. The
question of their police control and reasonable search on highways or
other public place is a serious question far deeper and broader than their
use in so-called 'bootlegging' or 'rum running,' which in itself is no small
matter. While a possession in the sense of private ownership, they are
but a vehicle constructed for travel and transportation on highways. Their
active use is not in homes or on private premises, the privacy of which
the law especially guards from search and seizure without process. The
baffling extent to which they are successfully utilized to facilitate
commission of crime of all degrees, from those against morality, chastity,
and decency to robbery, rape, burglary, and murder, is a matter of
common knowledge. Upon that problem, a condition, and not a theory,
confronts proper administration of our criminal laws. Whether search of
and seizure from an automobile upon a highway or other public place
without a search warrant is unreasonable is in its final analysis to be

The "stop and frisk" concept is of American origin, the most notable case thereon being Terry
27
v. Ohio. The idea is that a police officer may after properly introducing himself and making
initial inquiries, approach and restrain a person manifesting unusual and suspicious conduct,
in order to check, the latter's outer clothing for possibly concealed weapons. The strict
28
manner in which this notion should be applied has been laid down as follows:
. . . where a police officer observes unusual conduct which leads him
reasonably to conclude in the light of his experience that criminal activity
may be afoot and that the persons with whom he is dealing may be
armed and presently dangerous, where in the course of investigating this
behaviour, he identifies himself as a policeman and makes reasonable
inquiries, and where nothing in the initial stages of the encounter serves
to dispel his reasonable fear for his own and others' safety, he is entitled
for the protection of himself and others in the area to conduct a carefully
limited search of the outer clothing of such persons in an attempt to
discover weapons which might be used to assault him.
As in the warrantless arrest of a person reasonably suspected of having just committed a
crime, mere suspicious behavior would not call for a "stop and frisk." There must be a

genuine reason, in accordance with the police officer's experience and the surrounding
conditions, to warrant the belief that the person to be held has weapons (or contraband)
29
concealed about him.
30

A valid application of the doctrine was recognized in Posadas v. Court of Appeals and
31
in Manalili v. Court of Appeals. In Manalili, the law enforcers who were members of the
Anti-Narcotics Unit of the Caloocan City Police, observed during their surveillance that
appellant had red eyes and was walking in a wobby manner along the city cemetery which,
according to police information, was a popular hangout of drug addicts. Based on police
experience, such suspicious behaviour was characteristic of persons who were "high" on
drugs. The Court held that past experience and the surrounding circumstances gave the
police sufficient reason to stop the suspect and to investigate if he was really high on drugs.
The marijuana that they found in the suspect's possession was held to be admissible in
evidence.
Before I end, I must reiterate that the above exceptions to the general rule on the necessity of
a judicial warrant for any arrest, search and seizure must all be strictly construed. Foremost
in our minds must still be every person's prized and fundamental right to liberty and security,
a right protected and guaranteed by our Constitution.1wphi1.nt
WHEREFORE, I vote to ACQUIT Appellant Violeta Gaddao y Catama, as well as to
REDUCE the penalty of Appellant Florencio Doria y Bolado to reclusion perpetua and a fine
of P500,000.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,

Plaintiff-Appellee,

Acting Chairperson,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO, and
VILLARAMA, JR.,
REYES,* JJ.

- versus Promulgated:

April 11, 2012


x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
JESUSA FIGUEROA y CORONADO,
Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
G.R. No. 186141

Present:

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

That on or about the 2nd day of July 2004, in the City of Makati, Philippines, and within
This is an appeal from the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. C.R.-H.C. No.

the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without the corresponding license

02348 dated October 25, 2007 affirming the conviction of accused-appellant Jesusa Figueroa in

or prescription, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attempt to sell, give away,

Criminal Case No. 04-2433 for violation of Section 26, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165.

distribute and deliver four point sixty (4.60) grams of Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride (shabu)
which is a dangerous drug, by then and there agreeing to sell and deliver the said dangerous drug to the

There were originally two Informations filed against accused-appellant:

proposed buyer PO3 JOSEFINO CALLORA, thereby commencing the commission of the crime of
sale of dangerous drugs, but which nevertheless failed to consummate the said sale by reason of causes

Criminal Case No. 04-2432

other than her own spontaneous desistance, that is she got frightened by the presence of police officers
at the scene of the crime.[3]

That on or about the 2nd day of July 2004, in the City of Makati, Philippines, and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not being lawfully authorized by
law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in her possession, direct custody and

Accused-appellant pleaded not guilty to the crimes charged. Thereafter, the Regional Trial

control a total weight of nine point fourty [sic] two (9.42) grams of Methylamphetamine

Court (RTC), Branch 64 of Makati City proceeded with the trial of the aforementioned charges. The

Hydrochloride (shabu) which is a dangerous drug, in violation of the above-cited law.[2]

versions of the prosecution and the defense of what transpired on July 2, 2004, as concisely
summarized by the Court of Appeals, were as follows:

Criminal Case No. 04-2433


Version of the Prosecution

In the evening of June 20, 2004, an informant came to the office of P/Supt. Nelson T. Yabut
(P/SUPT. YABUT), Chief of the Special Operation Unit 1 of PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Special

bills with serial numbers FG403794 and MY883243 to be used in the planned buy-bust operation
against accused-appellant FIGUEROA.

Operations Task Force (PNP AIDSOTF) at Camp Crame, Quezon City and informed him of the drug
pushing activities of a certain Baby, later identified as accused-appellant FIGUEROA. P/SUPT.

On July 2, 2004, at about 12:00 noon, the informant called the Desk Officer of the Special

YABUT instructed PS/Insp. Pepito Garcia (PS/INSP. GARCIA), PO3 Josefino Callora (PO3

Operation Unit 1 of PNP AIDSOTF, who in turn relayed to P/SUPT. YABUT that accused-appellant

CALLORA) and PO2 Rogie Pinili (PO2 PINILI) to conduct discreet surveillance operation to verify

FIGUEROA had informed him that she already had a stock of good quality shabu and asked how much

the information.

shabu would be bought by PO3 CALLORA. P/SUPT YABUT instructed the informant to tell accusedappellant FIGUEROA that P10,000.00 worth of shabu would be bought from her. Later on the same

On June 23, 2004, at about 8:00 p.m., PO3 CALLORA, together with the informant, met

day, the informant made another telephone call and relayed the information that accused-appellant

with accused-appellant FIGUEROA at the parking area of SM Bicutan in Taguig, Metro Manila. The

FIGUEROA had agreed to deliver the shabu worth [P10,000.00] in front of the 7-Eleven Convenience

informant introduced PO3 CALLORA to accused-appellant FIGUEROA as the one who was willing to

Store at the corner of M. Almeda and M. Conception Avenues, San Joaquin, Pasig City at about 4:00

regularly buy shabu from her should her sample be of good quality. Accused-appellant FIGUEROA,

p.m. of that day.

however, told them that she had no stock of shabu at that time, but she promised to inform PO3
CALLORA through the informant once she already has supply of good quality shabu.

A team, composed of P/SUPT. YABUT, PS/INSP. GARCIA, PO2 PINILI and PO3
CALLORA, was then formed to conduct the buy-bust operation, with PO3 CALLORA designated as

In the morning of the following day, the Special Operation Unit 1 of the PNP AIDSOTF
requested the PNP Crime Laboratory to dust with ultra-violet powder the two (2) pieces of P500.00

the poseur-buyer. The buy-bust money was prepared. The genuine two (2) pieces of P500.00 bills were
placed on top of boodle money to make them appear as P10,000.00.

At about 4:00 p.m. of July 2, 2004, the team proceeded to the agreed meeting place. PO3

Accused-appellant FIGUEROAs vehicle was finally blocked at Kalayaan Avenue near the

CALLORA arrived in the vicinity of 7-Eleven on board a car driven by PS/INSP. GARCIA and met

intersection of C-5 road. At that time, PS/INSP. GARCIA saw Christian Salceda y Resma alighted

with the informant. PO3 CALLORA and the informant waited for accused-appellant FIGUEROA, who

from the backdoor of the Toyota Revo and threw the Chowking plastic bag to the pavement, which

after a few minutes, arrived driving a Toyota Revo with Plate No. XPN 433. Seeing the two, accused-

was about two steps from the backdoor. PS/INSP. GARCIA picked it up and saw a heat sealed

appellant FIGUEROA waived at them and drove towards them. Stopping near them, accused-appellant

transparent plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance inside. PO3 CALLORA and PO2

FIGUEROA rolled down the window of her car and asked where the money was. On the other hand,

PINILI introduced themselves as police officers. The Toyota Revo was checked by PS/INSP.

PO3 CALLORA asked for the shabu. At that juncture, accused-appellant FIGUEROA opened a

GARCIA and PO2 PINILI, which was witnessed by PO1 Alvarado and PO3 Basa of the Makati Police

Chowking plastic bag and showed a plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance. When PO3

PCP No. 7, MMDA Traffic Enforcers Gonzales and Salvador and a reporter/press photographer of

CALLORA was about to hand over the buy-bust money to accused-appellant FIGUEROA, the latter

Manila Star named Eduardo Rosales. Retrieved under the floor matting of the Toyota Revo were two

sensed the presence of police officers in the area, so she sped away towards the direction of Kalayaan

heat sealed transparent plastic sachets of undetermined quantity of white crystalline substance.

Avenue and C-5 road. The other occupants of the car were Susan Samson y Figueroa, sister-in-law of
the accused, Margie Sampayan y Garbo, Fe Salceda y Resma and Christian Salceda y Resma, a nine[]year[-]old boy.

Accused-appellant FIGUEROA was informed of her violation and was apprised of her
constitutional rights. She was brought to the office of Special Operation Unit 1 of PNP AIDSOTF for
investigation. The items recovered from the crime scene were brought to the PNP Crime Laboratory,

PO3 CALLORA immediately boarded the car being driven by PS/INSP. GARCIA and

where they were tested positive for Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride.

gave chase. PO2 PINILI, who was driving another vehicle, joined the chase.

Version of the Defense

her path. P/SUPT YABUT alighted from said car and was shouting that he was a police officer while
Accused-appellant FIGUEROA denied that she met and transacted with PO3 CALLORA

approaching accused-appellant FIGUEROA. He ordered accused-appellant FIGUEROA to roll down

regarding the sale of shabu. She likewise denied knowledge of the plastic sachets of shabu that were

her car window. Accused then asked, Bakit po mister? P/SUPT YABUT reiterated that he was a police

recovered under the floor matting of the car she was driving as well as the plastic sachet of shabu

officer and ordered accused-appellant FIGUEROA to get down from her car as they would be

inside a Chowking plastic bag found on the pavement of Kalayaan Avenue corner C-5 road.

searching the same.

She alleged that between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. of July 2, 2004, she was driving a Toyota

Accused-appellant FIGUEROA and her companions were made to stay at the sidewalk for

Revo with Plate No. XPN 433 on her way to the house of her elder brother at Eco Center, Barangay

about thirty (30) minutes. They were asked to turn their backs and were told not to do anything while

Calsada, Taguig City to get their mothers allowance. Their mother stays with her at her residence at

the search was going on. P/SUPT. YABUT later said, Aantayin muna natin sila. For another thirty

Better Living Subdivision, Paraaque City. With her as passengers were Susan Samson y Figueroa, Fe

minutes, they stayed at the sidewalk until other persons referred to by P/SUPT. YABUT arrived at the

Salceda y Resma, and the latters nine[-]year[-]old son, Christian Salceda y Resma, and Margie

scene.

Sampayan y Garbo, accused-appellant FIGUEROAs laundrywoman. They stayed at her brothers house
for about twenty (20) minutes.

After the search, accused-appellant FIGUEROA and her companions were ordered to board
the same Toyota Revo, which was driven to Camp Crame by one of the persons who arrived at the

From her brothers house, she proceeded to Tejeron, Sta. Ana, Manila to bring Susan
Samson y Figueroa to the latters house. The other passengers remained in the car. Accused-appellant
FIGUEROA then continued driving, taking the C-5-Kalayaan Avenue route. When she was about to
proceed after the traffic light turned green at the junction of Kalayaan Avenue, a navy blue car blocked

scene.[4]

On May 18, 2006, the RTC rendered its Decision[5] acquitting accused-appellant in

Let the one plastic bag labeled Chowking containing one (1) heat sealed plastic sachet with

Criminal Case No. 04-2432, but convicting her in Criminal Case No. 04-2433. The dispositive portion

4.60 grams of Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride be turned over to the PDEA for its appropriate

of the Decision states:

disposition.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing[,] judgment is rendered as follows:

The period during which the accused is detained at the City Jail of Makati shall be
considered in her favor pursuant to existing rules.[6]

1. In Criminal Case No. 04-2432[,] the accused Jesusa Figueroa y Coronado is


ACQUITTED of the charge for violation of Sec. 11, Art. II RA No. 9165 for lack of evidence. The two
plastic sachets of containing Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride or shabu with a combined weight of

Alleging that the foregoing decision was contrary to law and unsupported by the

9.42 grams are forfeited in favor of the Government. Let the custody thereof be turned over to the

evidentiary records, accused-appellant sought a review of the same with this Court through a Notice of

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for its appropriate disposition.

Appeal, which the RTC gave due course. However, in accordance with our ruling in People v.
Mateo,[7] we remanded the case to the Court of Appeals for intermediate review.

2. In Criminal Case No. 04-2433, the accused Jesusa Figueroa y Coronado alias Baby is
found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of violation of Sec. 26, Art. II, RA 9165 and is
sentenced to suffer life imprisonment and to pay a fine of Five Hundred Thousand (P500,000.00).

On October 25, 2007, the Court of Appeals issued the assailed Decision affirming the
conviction of accused-appellant. The dispositive portion of the Decision states:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, appeal is hereby DISMISSED and the assailed

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE ALLEGED BUY-BUST

Decision, dated May 18, 2006, in Criminal Case Nos. 04-2432 and 04-2433, of the Regional Trial

OPERATION CONDUCTED BY THE SPECIAL OPERATION UNIT 1 OF THE PHILIPPINE

Court of Makati City, Branch 64, is hereby AFFIRMED.

NATIONAL POLICE ANTI-ILLEGAL DRUGS SPECIAL OPERATIONS TASK FORCE WAS


IRREGULAR BECAUSE OF LACK OF PRIOR COORDINATION WITH THE PHILIPPINE

Pursuant to Section 13 (c), Rule 124 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure as amended

DRUG ENFORCEMENT AGENCY (PDEA).

by A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC dated September 28, 2004, which became effective on October 15, 2004, this
judgment of the Court of Appeals may be appealed to the Supreme Court by notice of appeal filed with

Second

the Clerk of Court of the Court of Appeals.[8]


THE TRIAL COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THERE WAS A
PRIOR AGREEMENT BETWEEN PO3 JOSEFINO CALLORA AND ACCUSED REGARDING
Accused-appellant appealed to this Court anew. Accused-appellant filed a Supplemental

THE ALLEGED SALE OF SHABU.

Brief,[9] wherein she highlighted the fact that the Court of Appeals did not discuss the first error
assigned in her Brief with said appellate court. In the aforementioned Brief[10] with the Court of

Third

Appeals, accused-appellant submitted the following assignment of errors:


THE TRIAL COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN GIVING WEIGHT AND CREDENCE
TO THE CONFLICTING AND CONTRADICTORY TESTIMONIES OF PO3 JOSEFINO
First

CALLORA AND P/INSP. PEPITO GARCIA THAT HAVE DIRECT BEARING ON THE
ELEMENTS OF THE OFFENSE CHARGED.

Accused-appellants contention is unmeritorious. It is settled that Section 86 of Republic Act


Fourth

No. 9165 does not invalidate operations on account of the the law enforcers failure to maintain close
coordination with the PDEA. Thus, in People v. Berdadero,[13] the Court noted that Section 86, as

THE TRIAL COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN FINDING ACCUSED GUILTY OF THE

well as the Internal Rules and Regulations implementing the same, is silent as to the consequences of

OFFENSE OF ATTEMPT TO SELL SHABU AS PROVIDED UNDER SECTION 26, ART. II OF

the failure on the part of the law enforcers to seek the authority of the PDEA prior to conducting a buy-

R.A. 9165.[11]

bust operation. This Court consequently held that this silence [cannot] be interpreted as a legislative
intent to make an arrest without the participation of PDEA illegal or evidence obtained pursuant to
such an arrest inadmissible.[14] The same conclusion was reached by this Court in People v. Roa,[15]

Lack of Prior Coordination with the PDEA

In both the Appellants Brief with the Court of Appeals and accused-appellants

People v. Mantalaba[16] and People v. Sabadlab.[17]

Alleged lack of prior agreement between accused-appellant and PO3 Callora.

Supplemental Brief before this Court, the main defense proffered by accused-appellant was the alleged
violation of Section 86[12] of Republic Act No. 9165, requiring that the Philippine National Police
(PNP) maintain close coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on all drug
related matters.

Accused-appellant argues that the alleged sale transaction borne out by the evidence of the
prosecution was not between Police Officer 3 (PO3) Josefino Callora and accused-appellant Figueroa,
but was instead between the latter and the unnamed informant. Accused-appellant concludes that the
testimony of PO3 Callora regarding the alleged sale transaction is purely hearsay, and therefore

inadmissible and without probative value, as it was the informant which is competent to testify on the

and the informant boarded the car of PS/Insp. Garcia, and they chased her to C-5 Road corner

alleged agreement to sell drugs.[18]

Kalayaan Avenue.[24]

We disagree. Under the doctrine of independently relevant statements, we have held that

Under the Revised Penal Code, there is an attempt to commit a crime when the offender

the hearsay rule does not apply where only the fact that such statements were made is relevant, and the

commences its commission directly by overt acts but does not perform all the acts of execution which

truth or falsity thereof is immaterial.[19] In the case at bar, the testimony of PO3 Callora as regards the

should produce the felony by reason of some cause or accident other than his own spontaneous

conversations between the informant and accused-appellant is admissible insofar as it established that

desistance.[25] This definition has essentially been adopted by this Court in interpreting Section 26 of

said information led the police officers to prepare for and proceed with the buy-bust operation. The

Republic Act No. 9165. Thus in People v. Laylo,[26] we affirmed the conviction of the appellant

conversation between the informant and the accused-appellant was not necessary to prove the

therein and held that the attempt to sell shabu was shown by the overt act of appellant therein of

attempted sale of shabu, as said attempt to sell was already clear from accused-appellants actuations on

showing the substance to the poseur-buyer. In said case, the sale was aborted when the police officers

July 2, 2004, which were all within the personal knowledge of PO3 Callora and testified to by him, to

identified themselves and placed appellant under arrest.

wit: (1) when accused-appellant arrived at the scene, she waived at the informant and PO3 Callora and
approached them while driving her Toyota Revo;[20] (2) upon reaching PO3 Callora and the

The identity of the white crystalline substance was furthermore established by the

informant, accused-appellant asked PO3 Callora where the money was, while the latter asked for the

testimony of PS/Insp. Garcia, who likewise testified as to the following matters based on his own

shabu;[21] (3) accused-appellant showed PO3 Callora a Chowking plastic bag containing a sachet of

personal knowledge: (1) after the chase, PS/Insp. Garcia saw a boy (later identified as Christian

white crystalline substance;[22] (4) when PO3 Callora was about to give her the money, accused-

Salceda) alight from the vehicle and threw a Chowking plastic bag two to three meters from the

appellant sensed that there were police officers around the area, and drove away;[23] (5) PO3 Callora

vehicle;[27] (2) PS/Insp. Garcia picked up the Chowking plastic bag from the sidewalk ad found a
sachet of shabu inside the same;[28] (3) PS/Insp. Garcia later proceeded with the other police officers

to their office, where they requested for a laboratory examination of the white crystalline

credibility[32] nor do they overcome the presumption that the arresting officers have regularly

substance;[29] PS/Insp. Garcia identified the Chowking plastic bag and the sachet containing white

performed their official duties.[33]

crystalline substance in court. He identified the mark PEG-1 on the sachet as his initial and testified
that he was the one who marked the same.[30]

In sum, this Court finds no cogent reason to disturb the rulings of the lower courts in the
instant case.

The prosecution presented as its Exhibit B an Initial Laboratory Report. The report states
that the heat-sealed transparent plastic bag with the marking PEG-1 inside a Chowking plastic bag was

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.

found to contain 4.60 grams of white crystalline substance. The latter specimen was found positive for

CR.-H.C. No. 02348 dated October 25, 2007 affirming the conviction of accused-appellant Jesusa

methylamphetamine hydrochloride.[31]

Figueroa in Criminal Case No. 04-2433 for violation of Section 26, Article II of Republic Act No.
9165 is hereby AFFIRMED.

In light of the foregoing testimonial and documentary evidence, which were found credible
by both the trial court and the Court of Appeals, the crime of attempt to sell a dangerous drug under
Section 26 of Republic Act No. 9165 was sufficiently proven beyond reasonable doubt.

As for the purported inconsistencies in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, we


agree with the pronouncement of the Court of Appeals that discrepancies referring to minor details,
and not in actuality touching upon the central fact of the crime, do not impair [the witnesses]

SO ORDERED.

Version of the Prosecution


On 24 July 2002, PO2 Danilo Arago (PO2 Arago) was inside the office of the Drug
Enforcement Unit (DEU) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Taguig City
when his informant approached him and reported that there was widespread
selling of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) by a certain Jojo at the
latters residence at No. 13 Santos Street, Barangay Calzada, Tipas, Taguig City.
SECOND DIVISION

PO2 Arago immediately reported the information to his superior, P/Supt. Ramon
Ramirez (P/Supt. Ramirez), who in turn organized a buybust operation to
apprehend Jerry.

G.R. No. 193768, March 05, 2014


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PlaintiffAppellee, v. JERRY CARANTO Y
PROPETA, AccusedAppellant.
DECISION
PEREZ, J.:
On appeal is the 28 July 2010 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CAG.R.
C.R.H.C. No. 01680. The CA affirmed the 7 October 2005 Decision of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 267, Pasig City, that found Jerry Caranto y
Propeta (Jerry) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 5, Article II
of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165 (The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of
2002) and imposed upon him the penalty of life imprisonment.
Jerry was charged under the criminal information, 2 which
reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
That, on or about the 24th day of July 2002, in the Municipality of Taguig, Metro
Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above
named accused, without having been authorized by law, did, then and there
willfully, unlawfully and knowingly sell, deliver and give away to another one (1)
heat sealed transparent sachet containing 0.39 gram of white crystalline
substance, which was found positive to the test of Methylamphetamine (sic)
Hydrochloride also known as shabu, a dangerous drug, in consideration of the
amount of PhP 500.00, in violation of [Section 5, Article II, Republic Act No. 9165
(The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002].
The Facts
The antecedent facts were culled from the records of the case, particularly the
Appellees Brief3 for the version of the prosecution and the Appellants Brief 4 for
the version of the defense.

Inside P/Supt. Ramirez office, PO2 Arago, along with the informant, PO3 Angelito
Galang, SPO3 Arnuldo Vicuna, PO3 Santiago Cordova, PO2 Archie Baltijero and
PO1 Alexander Saez, discussed the conduct of the buybust operation.
The team agreed that the informant would accompany the team to Jerrys
residence where PO2 Arago would act as the poseur buyer while the rest of the
team would serve as his back up. P/Supt. Ramirez thereafter provided the buy
bust money of five hundred pesos (P500.00), which PO2 Arago marked with his
initials, DBA.
At around 12:00 in the afternoon of the same day, the team proceeded to Jerrys
residence. Upon nearing the area, the informant and PO2 Arago separated from
the rest of the team. They walked ahead of their companions and proceeded
towards Jerrys residence while the rest of the team hid in a corner some six to
seven meters away from the two.
When they were about 10 to 20 meters when they got near him, from the house,
the informant pointed PO2 Arago to Jerry and the informant introduced PO2
Arago to Jerry as a balikbayan who was looking for some shabu.
Jerry then asked them how much worth of shabu they planned to buy, to which
informant answered Five Hundred Pesos (P500.00) worth. PO2 Arago then
handed Jerry the marked money.
Upon receiving the money, Jerry went inside his house and after around thirty
(30) seconds to one (1) minute, he returned and handed PO2 Arago a plastic
sachet, which PO2 Arago suspected to beshabu.
After the completion of the transaction, Jerry noticed the informant and PO2
Aragos companions moving in from behind the two. Jerry immediately tried to
flee but was stopped by PO2 Arago.
Seeing the scuffle between PO2 Arago and Jerry, the rest of the buybust team
rushed towards them. After Jerry was subdued, PO2 Arago recovered the marked

money inside Jerrys right pocket. Thereafter, the team introduced themselves as
police officers, informed Jerry of his constitutional rights in Filipino and then
returned to their station in Taguig City where Jerry was duly investigated.

On 7 October 2005, the RTC found Jerry guilty of the offense charged and
imposed upon him the penalty of life imprisonment. The dispositive portion of the
RTC decision is as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Version of the Defense


Recalling what transpired on 24 July 2002, Jerry said that he went through his
route as a tricycle driver from 6:00 a.m. until he went home around 12:00 in the
afternoon to have lunch. He was at the rooftop of their house feeding the dog
when policemen arrived looking for his father Cesar Caranto. The policemen
kicked the door and forced it open. They held Jerry and told him that they would
have to bring him in unless they get his father. Jerry told the policemen that he
was not aware of his fathers whereabouts because his father did not live with
them anymore. The policemen frisked him and took his wallet. He was brought to
the DEU and was thereafter hit by P/Supt. Ramirez on the chest. He denied that
he sold any shabu.
The mother of Jerry, Teresita Propeta Caranto (Teresita), testified that on that
date, she was at the Baclaran church attending mass when her daughter called
and told her that her son Jerry was taken from their house and invited by
policemen. She hurriedly went to the police station and cried when her son told
her that the policemen mauled him. The policemen also asked money from her,
but she did not give them anything as her son is innocent. Upon learning that her
sons case was nonbailable, she went back to the police station and uttered
invectives against the policemen who arrested her son.
More than a month after the incident or on 28 August 2002, Teresita, together
with her son Christopher Caranto, her daughter Cynthia Caranto, and a
housemaid, were arrested in Baclaran. A drug related case was also filed against
them. They were incarcerated for about two years but they were eventually
acquitted. Teresita filed a case against the policemen who arrested them and is
also planning to file a case against the law officers who arrested her son Jerry.
At the pretrial, the parties stipulated:5 1) that a request has been made by the
arresting officers for examination of the specimens confiscated; 2) that the
forensic chemist P/Insp. Lourdeliza Gural (P/Insp. Gural) examined the
specimens submitted and thereafter issued her initial and final laboratory report;
3) that P/Insp. Gural has no personal knowledge from whom the alleged
specimens were taken and that the test conducted on the alleged specimen
yielded positive to metamphetamine hydrochloride. After stipulations were made,
the public prosecutor dispensed with the testimony of P/Insp. Gural. Thereafter,
trial on the merits ensued.
The RTC Decision

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, the prosecution having


proven the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, this Court acting as a
Special Drug Court in the abovecaptioned case hereby finds JERRY CARANTO y
PROPETA a.k.a. Jojo, accused in Criminal Case No. 11539D, GUILTY as charged
and is hereby sentenced to suffer LIFE IMPRISONMENT and to pay a fine of
FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (PhP 500,000.00).
xxxx
Moreover, the shabu contained in one (1) heat sealed transparent plastic sachet
containing 0.39 gram of shabu which is the subject matter of the above
captioned case is ordered to be immediately transmitted and/or submitted to the
custody of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for its proper
disposition. 6
The CA Decision
The CA, in its assailed decision, affirmed the judgement of conviction by the RTC.
The appellate court ruled that Jerrys guilt was proven beyond reasonable doubt.
The dispositive portion of the decision reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is hereby DISMISSED. The
assailed Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 267, subject of
the appeal is AFFIRMED in toto.7
In a Resolution8 dated 22 November 2010, we required the parties to file their
respective supplemental briefs. The prosecution manifested that it was no longer
filing any supplemental brief.9The issues raised in appellants supplemental
brief10 were similar to those previously raised to the appellate court. The
appellant raises the following assignment of errors:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
I.
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT FINDING THE ACCUSED
APPELLANTS SEARCH AND ARREST AS ILLEGAL.
II.
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSEDAPPELLANT

OF THE CRIME CHARGED DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO


PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. 11

Noncompliance with the requirements


of Section 21, par. 1 of Article II of
R.A. No. 9165

Ruling of this Court


It should be noted that the significant issues, as discussed below, were initially
raised by Jerry in his Memorandum12 filed with the RTC. Unfortunately, the RTC
failed to discuss the issues raised when it rendered its 7 October 2005 decision.
On the other hand, the Brief for Jerry filed with the CA was wanting of said
pertinent issues. In effect, the CA, likewise, failed to include in its discussion said
issues. Upon appeal, the Supplemental Brief for Jerry filed with this Court once
again raised and expounded on said issues. Given the foregoing circumstances
and in the interest of justice, this Court gives due consideration to the issues
raised in Jerrys Supplemental Brief. The Court refuses to turn a blind eye on the
importance of the rights of the accused. For this reason, we consider the required
procedure for the timely raising of issues, substantially complied with.
Jerry was arrested during a buybust operation conducted on 24 July 2002 by
the members of the DEU of the Taguig PNP. A buybust operation is a form of
entrapment employed by peace officers to apprehend prohibited drug law
violators in the act of committing a drugrelated offense.13 We agree with the
appellate court when it opined that:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
x x x [T]here is no rigid or textbook method of conducting buybust operations.
The choice of effective ways to apprehend drug dealers is within the ambit of
police authority. Police officers have the expertise to determine which specific
approaches are necessary to enforce their entrapment operations.14
The builtin danger for abuse that a buybust operation carries cannot be
denied. It is essential therefore, that these operations be governed by specific
procedures on the seizure and custody of drugs. We had occasion to express this
concern in People v. Tan,15 when we recognized that by the very nature of anti
narcotic operations, the need for entrapment procedures, the use of shady
characters as informants, the ease with which illegal drugs can be planted in the
pockets or hands of unsuspecting provincial hicks, and the secrecy that inevitably
shrouds all drug deals, the possibility of abuse is great. Thus, the courts have
been exhorted to be extra vigilant in trying drug cases lest an innocent person is
made to suffer the unusually severe penalties for drug offenses. 16
Moreover, we have time and again recognized that a buybust operation
resulting from the tip of an anonymous confidential informant, although an
effective means of eliminating illegal drug related activities, is susceptible to
police abuse. Worse, it is usually used as a means for extortion. 17 It is for this
reason, that the Court must ensure that the enactment of R.A. No. 9165
providing specific procedures to counter these abuses is not put to naught. 18

The required procedure on the seizure and custody of drugs is embodied in


Section 21, paragraph 1, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, which
states:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall,
immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and
photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s
from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her
representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department
of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the
copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof. (Emphasis supplied)
This is implemented by Section 21(a), Article II of the Implementing Rules and
Regulations of R.A. No. 9165, which reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
(a) The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the drugs
shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and
photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom
such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel,
a representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any
elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory
and be given a copy thereof: x x xProvided, further, that noncompliance with
these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the
evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending
officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over
said items. (Emphasis supplied)
This Court recognizes that the strict compliance with the requirements of Section
21 of R.A. No. 9165 may not always be possible under field conditions, many of
them far from ideal. For this reason, the Implementing Rules provide that non
compliance with the strict directive of Section 21 is not necessarily fatal to the
prosecutions case because courts recognize the possible occurrence of
procedural lapses. However, we emphasize that these lapses must be recognized
and explained in terms of their justifiable grounds and the integrity and
evidentiary value of the evidence seized must be shown to have been
preserved.19 In the present case, the prosecution did not bother to present any
explanation to justify the nonobservance of the prescribed procedures.
Therefore, the nonobservance by the police of the required procedure cannot be
excused. It likewise failed to prove that the integrity and evidentiary value of the
items adduced were not tainted.

Chain of Custody

chemist to the court.

To secure a conviction for the illegal sale of shabu, the following elements must
be present: (a) the identities of the buyer and seller, the object of the sale, and
the consideration; and (b) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment for the
thing. It is material to establish that the transaction actually took place, and to
bring to the court the corpus delicti as evidence.20 In the prosecution of a drug
case, the primary consideration is to ensure that the identity and integrity of the
seized drugs and other related articles have been preserved from the time they
were confiscated from the accused until their presentation as evidence in court. 21

A perusal of the records will show that the procedure of preserving the chain of
custody as laid down by jurisprudence 27 was not observed. This is evident from
the testimonies of the witnesses for the prosecution. Prosecution witness PO3
Angelito Galang testified on how the seized item was handled, to
wit:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
PROSEC.
BAUTISTA:

At the time you proceeded to the area, what did you observe?

The chain of custody requirement ensures that doubts concerning the identity of
the evidence are removed. In a long line of cases, we have considered it fatal for
the prosecution when they fail to prove that the specimen submitted for
laboratory examination was the same one allegedly seized from the accused. The
case of Malillin v. People22 is particularly instructive on how we expect the chain
of custody to be maintained. As a method of authenticating evidence, the chain
of custody rule requires that the admission of an exhibit be preceded by evidence
sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what the proponent
claims to be. It would include testimony about every link in the chain, from the
moment the item was picked up to the time it is offered into evidence, in such a
way that every person who touched the exhibit would describe how and from
whom it was received, where it was and what happened to it while in the witness
possession, the condition in which it was received and the condition in which it
was delivered to the next link in the chain. These witnesses would then describe
the precautions taken to ensure that there had been no change in the condition
of the item and no opportunity for someone not in the chain to have possession
of the same.23 An unbroken chain of custody becomes indispensable and essential
when the item of real evidence is susceptible to alteration, tampering,
contamination and even substitution and exchange.24

A:

I saw the buybust money recovered by PO3 Arago and the


plastic sachet he bought was placed in his wallet, sir.<SUP
STYLE="COLOR: RGB(255, 0, 0); >[28]</SUP>

The chain of custody rule requires that the marking of the seized items to
truly ensure that they are the same items that enter the chain and are eventually
the ones offered in evidence should be done (1) in the presence of the
apprehended violator (2) immediately upon confiscation. This step initiates the
process of protecting innocent persons from dubious and concocted
searches.25Marking means the placing by the apprehending officer or
the poseurbuyer of his/her initials and signature on the item/s seized.
This Court previously held26 that the following links must be established in the
chain of custody in a buybust operation: first, the seizure and marking, if
practicable, of the illegal drug recovered from the accused by the apprehending
officer; second, the turnover of the illegal drug seized by the apprehending
officer to the investigating officer; third, the turnover by the investigating officer
of the illegal drug to the forensic chemist for laboratory examination; and fourth,
the turnover and submission of the marked illegal drug seized from the forensic

PO3 Santiago Cordova, on the other hand, testified in this


wise:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
PROSEC.
BAUTISTA:

So you assisted Arago in arresting this accused?

A:

Yes sir.

PROSEC.
BAUTISTA:

What did Arago did with the stuff, which was taken?

A:

He kept it and brought to the office.

PROSEC.
BAUTISTA:

Before keeping, did Arago do something with the stuff?

A:

I saw him holding the specimen and he put the specimen


inside his pocket.

PROSEC.
BAUTISTA:

He did not do anything with the stuff?

A:

I did not notice other things he did with the specimen.

PROSEC.BAUTISTA: You did not see what happened afterwards?


A:

I did not notice because I am busy holding alias Jojo,


because he is resisting.

PROSEC.
BAUTISTA:

And what did Arago do with the stuff?

ATTY. HERRERA:

Your Honor, the question has been repeatedly asked, your


Honor.

PROSEC.
BAUTISTA:

You saw the stuff?

A:

Yes sir.

PROSEC.
BAUTISTA:

And thats all what you saw?

A:

Yes sir.<SUP STYLE="COLOR: RGB(255, 0, 0);


>[29]</SUP>

It is clear from the aforecited testimonies that the evidence was not marked in
front of the accused or his representative. Evidently, there was an irregularity in
the first link of the chain of custody.
Even assuming that the physical inventory contemplated in R.A. No. 9165
subsumes the marking of the items itself, the belated marking of the seized
items at the police station sans the required presence of the accused and the
witnesses enumerated under Section 21(a) of the Implementing Rules and
Regulations of R.A. No. 9165, and absent a justifiable ground to stand on, cannot
be considered a minor deviation from the procedures prescribed by the law. We
note that other than the allegation that a marking was done at the police station,
there was no proof that such marking was actually undertaken at all. From the
time it was placed inside the pocket or wallet of PO2 Arago, it surfaced again only
at the marking of exhibits. In fact, there was no statement from any of the
witnesses that markings were made on the seized item in the presence of any of
the persons mentioned in Section 21 (a) of the Implementing Rules and
Regulations of R.A. No. 9165. Moreover, the prosecution even failed to present
an accomplished Certificate of Inventory.30
Another gap in the chain of custody is apparent from the lack of evidence
presented by the prosecution to prove that the sachet of shabu, which was
entrusted by PO2 Arago to the investigator, is the same sachet that was
delivered to the forensic chemist. The records are wanting of testimonies showing
the manner of handling of the evidence, precautions taken and other significant
circumstances surrounding this essential transfer of custody. The prosecution did
not take the testimony of the investigator, nor did they adduce evidence on what
the investigator did with the seized shabu, how these got to the forensic chemist,
and how they were kept before being adduced in evidence at trial. In fact, the
identity of such investigator was not even mentioned nor was there any mention
of a marking made on the seized item.
Upon further examination, we find that another gap in the chain of custody is
apparent. There was no information on what happened to the drugs after P/Insp.
Gural examined it. This Court recognizes that the chemists testimony was
stipulated upon.31 However, the stipulations did not cover the manner on how the
specimens were handled after her examination. Without this testimony, there is
no way for this Court to be assured that the substances produced in court are the
same specimens the forensic chemist found positive for shabu.32 Furthermore,
most glaring is the fact that the prosecution even stipulated that the forensic
chemist had no knowledge from whom the alleged specimens were taken. 33

Ultimately, when the prosecution evidence is wanting, deficient to the point of


doubt that the dangerous drug recovered from the accused is the same drug
presented to the forensic chemist for review and examination, or the same drug
presented to the court, an essential element in cases of illegal sale and illegal
possession of dangerous drugs, the corpus delicti, is absent.
Negation of Presumption of Regularity
The lower courts erred in giving weight to the presumption of regularity in the
performance that a police officer enjoys in the absence of any taint of irregularity
and of ill motive that would induce him to falsify his testimony. The regularity of
the performance of the police officers duties leaves much to be desired in this
case given the lapses in their handling of the allegedly confiscated shabu. The
totality of all the aforementioned procedural lapses effectively produced serious
doubts on the integrity and identity of the corpus delicti, especially in the face of
allegations of frameup.34 We have previously held 35 that these lapses negate the
presumption that official duties have been regularly performed by the police
officers. Any taint of irregularity affects the whole performance and should make
the presumption unavailable.
In People v. Santos, Jr.,36 we held that the presumption of regularity in the
performance of official duty cannot by itself overcome the presumption of
innocence nor constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt. 37 It should be noted
that the presumption is precisely just that a presumption. Once challenged by
evidence, as in this case, it cannot be regarded as binding truth. 38
We recognize that the evidence proffered by the defense is far from strong; the
appellant merely denied the occurrence of a buybust operation and failed to
present impartial witnesses who were not interested in the case. In our
jurisdiction, the defense of denial or frameup, like alibi, has been viewed with
disfavor for it can easily be concocted and is a common defense ploy in most
prosecutions for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act. 39 It should be emphasized,
however, that these weaknesses do not add any strength to the prosecutions
cause. Thus, however weak the defense evidence might be, the prosecutions
whole case still falls. As the wellentrenched dictum goes, the evidence for the
prosecution must stand or fall on its own weight and cannot be allowed to draw
strength from the weakness of the defense. 40
We therefore resolve to acquit the accused for failure of the prosecution due to
the gapinduced weakness of the case to prove the appellants guilt beyond
reasonable doubt.
WHEREFORE, in light of all the foregoing, the 28 July 2010 Decision of the Court
of Appeals in CAG.R. CR.H.C. No. 01680 affirming the judgement of conviction
of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 267, Pasig City is hereby REVERSED and SET

ASIDE. Appellant Jerry Caranto y Propeta isACQUITTED on reasonable doubt


and is ordered immediately RELEASED from detention, unless he is confined for
any other lawful cause.

Respondents.

The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is DIRECTED to IMPLEMENT this


Decision and to report to this Court the action taken hereon within five (5) days
from receipt.

September 28, 2011


x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION
DECISION

PHILIPPINE DRUG ENFORCEMENT

G.R. No. 196390


BERSAMIN, J.:

AGENCY (PDEA),
Petitioner,

Present:
Objects of lawful commerce confiscated in the course of an enforcement of
the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (Republic Act No. 9165)that are the property of a
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
third person are subject to be returned to the lawful ownerwho is not liable for the unlawful act. But
ActingChairperson,
the trial court may not release such objects pending trial and before judgment.

-versus-

BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO,
Antecedents
PEREZ,*and
MENDOZA,**JJ.
On April 13, 2009, the State, through the Office of the City Prosecutor of Muntinlupa

RICHARD

BRODETT

AND

JORGE
City,charged RichardBrodett (Brodett) and Jorge Joseph (Joseph) with a violation of Section 5, in

JOSEPH,

Promulgated:
relation to Section 26(b), of Republic Act No. 9165 [1]in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in

MuntinlupaCity,docketed as Criminal Case No. 09-208,the accusatory portion of the information for

law, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously have in his possession, custody and

which reads as follows:

control the following:

That on or about the 19 th day of September 2008, in the City of Muntinlupa, Philippines and

a. Four (4) yellow tablets with Playboy logos and ten (10) transparent capsules containing

within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and

white powdery substance contained in one self-sealing transparent plastic sachet having a net weight of

confederating together and mutually helping and aiding each other, they not being authorized by law,

4.9007 grams, which when subjected to laboratory examination yielded positive results for presence of

did then and there wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously sell, trade, deliver and give away to another,

METHYLENE DIOXYMETHAMPHETAMINE (MDMA), commonly known as Ecstasy, a

sixty (60) pieces of blue-colored tablets with Motorala (M) logos, contained in six (6) self-sealing

dangerous drug;

transparent plastic sachets with recorded total net weight of 9.8388 grams, which when subjected to
laboratory examination yielded positive results for presence of METHAMPHETAMINE, a dangerous
drug.[2]

b.

Five (5) self-sealing transparent plastic sachets containing white powdery substance

with total recorded net weight of 1.2235 grams, which when subjected to laboratory examination
yielded positive results for presence of COCCAINE, a dangerous drug;
Also on April 16, 2009, the State, also through the Office of the City Prosecutor of

Muntinlupa City, filed another information charging only Brodett with a violation of Section 11 of
R.A. No. 9165, docketed as Criminal Case No. 09-209, with the information alleging:

c. Five (5) self-sealing transparent plastic sachets containing white powdery substance,
placed in a light-yellow folded paper, with total recorded net weight of 2.7355 grams, which when
subjected to laboratory examination yielded positive results for presence of COCCAINE, a dangerous

That on or about the 19th day of September 2008, in the City of Muntinlupa, Philippines
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not being authorized by

drug;

d.

Three (3) self-sealing transparent plastic sachets containing dried leaves with total

On November 4, 2009, the RTC directedthe release of the car, viz:

recorded net weight of 54.5331 grams, which when subjected to laboratory examination yielded
positive results for presence of TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL, a dangerous drug. [3]

WHEREFORE, the Director of PDEA or any of its authorized officer or custodian is hereby
directed to: (1) photograph the abovementioned Honda Accord, before returning the same to its

In the course of the proceedings in the RTC, on July 30, 2009, Brodett filed

rightful owner Myra S. Brodett and the return should be fully documented, and (2) bring the personal

a MotionToReturn Non-Drug Evidence. He averred that during his arrest, Philippine Drug

properties as listed in this Order of both accused, Richard S. Brodett and Jorge J. Joseph to this court

Enforcement Agency (PDEA) had seized several personal non-drug effects from him,including a 2004

for safekeeping, to be held as needed.

Honda Accord car with license plate no. XPF-551;and that PDEArefused to return his personal effects
despite repeated demands for their return. He prayed that his personal effects be tendered to the trial

SO ORDERED.[6]

court to be returned to himupon verification.[4]


PDEA moved to reconsider the order of the RTC, but its motion was denied on February
On August 27, 2009, the Office of the City Prosecutor submitted its Comment and

17, 2010 for lack of merit, to wit:

Objection,[5]proposingthereby that the delivery to the RTC of the listedpersonal effects for safekeeping,
to be held there throughout the duration of the trial, would be to enable the Prosecution and the
Defense to exhaust their possible evidentiary value. The Office of the City Prosecutor objected to the

WHEREFORE,premises considered, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED for


lack of merit. The Order of the Court dated November 4, 2009 is upheld.

return of the car because it appeared to be the instrument in the commission of the violation of Section
5 of R.A. No. 9165 due to its being the vehicle used in the transaction of the sale of dangerous drugs.

SO ORDERED.[7]

law are plain and unambiguous. Being so, there is no room for a contrary construction, especially so
Thence, PDEA assailed the order of the RTC in the Court of Appeals (CA) by petition

that the only purpose of judicial construction is to remove doubt and uncertainty, matters that are not

for certiorari, claiming that the orders of the RTC were issued in grave abuse of discretion amounting

obtaining here. More so that the required literal interpretation is consistent with the Constitutional

to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

guarantee that a person may not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.

On March 31, 2011, the CA promulgated its Decision, [8]dismissing the petition
for certiorari thusly:

xxxx

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED and consequently DISMISSED for lack of
merit.

SO ORDERED.[9]

Here it is beyond dispute that the Honda Accord subject of this petition is owned by and
registered in the name of Myra S. Brodett, not accused Richard Brodett. Also, it does not appear from

Hence, PDEA appeals.

the records of the case that said Myra S. Brodett has been charged of any crime, more particularly, in

Issues

the subject cases of possession and sale of dangerous drugs. Applying Section 20 of the law to the
dispute at bar, We therefore see no cogent reason why the subject Honda Accord may not be exempted
from confiscation and forfeiture.

Essentially,PDEA asserts that the decision of the CAwas not in accord with applicable laws
and the primordial intent of the framers of R. A. No. 9165. [10]It contends that the CA gravely erred in

xxxx

its ruling; that the Honda Accord car, registered under the name of Myra S. Brodett (Ms.Brodett), had

We thus cannot sustain petitioners submission that the subject car, being an instrument of

been seized from accused Brodettduring a legitimate anti-illegal operation and should not be released

the offense, may not be released to Ms. Brodett and should remain in custodia legis.The letters of the

from the custody of the law;that the Motion to Return Non-Drug Evidencedid not intimate or allege

that the car had belonged to a third person; and that even if the car had belonged to Ms. Brodett, a third
person, her ownership did not ipso facto authorize its release, because she was under the obligation to

The petition is meritorious.

prove to the RTC that she had no knowledge of the commission of the crime.
I
In hisComment,[11]Brodettcounters that the petitioner failed to present any question of law
that warranted a review by the Court;that Section 20 of R. A. No. 9165 clearly and unequivocally

Applicable laws and jurisprudence on releasing


property confiscated in criminal proceedings

states that confiscation and forfeiture of the proceeds or instruments of the supposed unlawful act in
favor of the Government may be done by PDEA, unless such proceeds or instruments are the property
of a third person not liable for the unlawful act; that PDEA is gravely mistaken in its reading that the

It is not open to question thatin a criminal proceeding, the court having jurisdiction over the

third person must still prove in the trial court that he has no knowledge of the commission of the crime;

offense has the power to order upon conviction of an accusedthe seizure of (a) the instruments to

and that PDEA failed to exhaust all remedies before filing the petition for review.

commit the crime, including documents, papers, and other effects that are the necessary means to
commit the crime; and (b) contraband, the ownership or possession of which is not permitted for being

The decisive issue is whether or not the CA erred in affirming the orderfor the release of the
car to Ms.Brodett.

illegal. As justification for the first, the accused must not profit from his crime, or must not acquire
property or the right to possession of property through his unlawful act. [12]As justification for
thesecond, to return to the convict from whom thecontraband was taken, in one way or another,is not
prudent or proper, because doing so will give rise to a violation of the law for possessing the
contraband again.[13]Indeed, the court having jurisdiction over the offense has theright to dispose of

Ruling

property used in the commission of the crime, such disposition being an accessory penalty to be

imposed on the accused, unless the property belongs to a third person not liable for the offense that it

bringing a criminal prosecution.[20]The order for the disposition of such property can be made only

was used as the instrument to commit.[14]

when the case is finally terminated.[21]

In case of forfeiture of property for crime, title and ownership of the convict are absolutely

Generally, the trial court is vested with considerable legal discretion in the matter of

divested and shall pass to the Government.[15] But it is required that the property to be forfeited must be

disposing of property claimed as evidence,[22] and this discretion extends even to the manner of

before the court in such manner that it can be said to be within its jurisdiction. [16]

proceeding in the event the accused claims the property was wrongfully taken from him. [23]In
particular, the trial court has the power to return property held as evidence to its rightful owners,

According to the Rules of Court, personal property may be seized in connection with a

whether the property was legally or illegally seized by the Government. [24] Property used as evidence

criminal offense either by authority of a search warrant or as the product of a search incidental to a

must be returned once the criminal proceedings to which it relates have terminated, unless it is then

lawful arrest. If the search is by virtue of a search warrant, the personal property that may be seized

subject to forfeiture or other proceedings.[25]

may be that which is the subject of the offense; or that which has been stolen or embezzled and other
proceeds, or fruits of the offense; orthat which has been used or intended to be used as the means of

II

committing an offense.[17] If the search is an incident of a lawful arrest, seizure may be made of

Order of release was premature and made

dangerous weapons or anything that may have been used or may constitute proof in the commission of

in contravention of Section 20, R.A. No. 9165

an offense.[18] Should there be no ensuing criminal prosecution in which the personal property seized is

It is undisputed that the ownership of the confiscated car belonged to Ms. Brodett, who was

used as evidence, itsreturn to the person from whom it was taken, or to the person who is entitled to its

not charged either in connection with the illegal possession and sale of illegal drugs involving Brodett

possession is but a matter of course,[19]except if it is contraband or illegal per se. A proper court may

and Joseph that were the subject of the criminal proceedings in the RTC, or even in any other criminal

order the return of property held solely as evidence should the Government be unreasonably delayed in

proceedings.

Basic is the rule in statutory construction that when the law is clear and unambiguous, the
In its decision under review, the CA held as follows:

court has no alternative but to apply the same according to its clear language. The Supreme Court had
steadfastly adhered to the doctrine that the first and fundamental duty of courts is to apply the law

A careful reading of the above provision shows that confiscation and forfeiture in drug-

according to its express terms, interpretation being called only when such literal application is

related cases pertains to all the proceeds and properties derived from the unlawful act, including but

impossible. No process of interpretation or construction need be resorted to where a provision of law

not limited to, money and other assets obtained thereby, and the instruments or tools with which the

peremptorily calls for application.

particular unlawful act was committed unless they are the property of a third person not liable for the
unlawful act. Simply put, the law exempts from the effects of confiscation and forfeiture any
property that is owned by a third person who is not liable for the unlawful act.

We thus cannot sustain petitioners submission that the subject car, being an instrument of
the offense, may not be released to Ms. Brodett and should remain in custodia legis. The letters of the
law are plain and unambiguous. Being so, there is no room for a contrary construction, especially so

Here, it is beyond dispute that the Honda Accord subject of this petition is owned by and

that the only purpose of judicial construction is to remove doubt and uncertainty, matters that are not

registered in the name of Myra S. Brodett, not accused Richard Brodett. Also, it does not appear

obtaining here. More so that the required literal interpretation is not consistent with the Constitutional

from the records of the case that said Myra S. Brodett has been charged of any crime, more

guarantee that a person may not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of

particularly, in the subject cases of possession and sale of dangerous drugs. Applying Section 20 of the

law.[26] (emphases are in the original text)

law to the dispute at bar, We therefore see no cogent reason why the subject Honda Accord may not be
exempted from confiscation and forfeiture.

The legal provision applicable to the confiscation and forfeiture of the proceeds or
instruments of the unlawful act, including the properties or proceeds derived from illegal trafficking of

dangerous drugs and precursors and essential chemicals,is Section 20 of R.A. No. 9165, which

offense and all the assets and properties of the accused either owned or held by him or in the name of

pertinently providesas follows:

some other persons if the same shall be found to be manifestly out of proportion to his/her lawful
income: Provided, however, That if the forfeited property is a vehicle, the same shall be auctioned off

Section 20.Confiscation and Forfeiture of the Proceeds or Instruments of the Unlawful Act,

not later than five (5) days upon order of confiscation or forfeiture.

Including the Properties or Proceeds Derived from the Illegal Trafficking of Dangerous Drugs and/or
Precursors and Essential Chemicals. Every penalty imposed for the unlawful importation, sale,

During the pendency of the case in the Regional Trial Court, no property, or income

trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, transportation or manufacture of any

derived therefrom, which may be confiscated and forfeited, shall be disposed, alienated or transferred

dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical, the cultivation or culture of plants

and the same shall be in custodialegis and no bond shall be admitted for the release of the same.

which are sources of dangerous drugs, and the possession of any equipment, instrument, apparatus and
other paraphernalia for dangerous drugs including other laboratory equipment, shall carry with it the

The proceeds of any sale or disposition of any property confiscated or forfeited under this

confiscation and forfeiture, in favor of the government, of all the proceeds derived from unlawful act,

Section shall be used to pay all proper expenses incurred in the proceedings for the confiscation,

including, but not limited to, money and other assets obtained thereby, and the instruments or tools

forfeiture, custody and maintenance of the property pending disposition, as well as expenses for

with which the particular unlawful act was committed, unless they are the property of a third

publication and court costs. The proceeds in excess of the above expenses shall accrue to the Board to

person not liable for the unlawful act, but those which are not of lawful commerce shall be ordered

be used in its campaign against illegal drugs.[27]

destroyed without delay pursuant to the provisions of Section 21 of this Act.


There is no question, for even PDEA has itself pointed out, that the text of Section 20 of R.
After conviction in the Regional Trial Court in the appropriate criminal case filed, the Court
shall immediately schedule a hearing for the confiscation and forfeiture of all the proceeds of the

A. No. 9165relevant to the confiscation and forfeiture of the proceeds or instruments of the unlawful
act is similar to that ofArticle 45 of the Revised Penal Code, which states:

intervenor for foreclosure as decreed in the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Manila in
Article 45.Confiscation and Forfeiture of the Proceeds or Instruments of theCrime. Every

replevin case. xxx[29]

penalty imposed for the commission of a felony shall carry with it the forfeiture of the proceeds of the
crime and the instruments or tools with which it was committed.

Such interpretation is extended by analogy to Section 20, supra. To bar the forfeiture of the
tools and instruments belonging to a third person,therefore, there must be an indictment charging such

Such proceeds and instruments or tools shall be confiscated and forfeited in favor of the

third person either as a principal, accessory, or accomplice. Less than that will not suffice to prevent

Government, unless they be the property of a third person not liable for the offense, but those

the return of the tools and instruments to the third person, for a mere suspicion of that persons

articles which are not subject of lawful commerce shall be destroyed.

participation is not sufficient ground for the court to order the forfeiture of the goods seized.[30]

However, the Office

of the City Prosecutorproposed throughits Comment and

The Court has interpreted and applied Article 45of the Revised Penal Codein People v.

Objection submitted on August 27, 2009 in the RTC[31]that the delivery to the RTC of the listed

Jose,[28]concerning the confiscation and forfeiture of the car used by the four accused when they

personal effects for safekeeping, to be held there throughout the duration of the trial, would be to

committed theforcible abduction with rape, although the car did not belong to any of them, holding:

enable the Prosecution and the Defenseto exhaust their possible evidentiary value. The Office of the
City Prosecutor further objected to the return of the car because it appeared to bethe vehicle used in the

xxx Article 45 of the Revised Penal Code bars the confiscation and forfeiture of an
instrument or tool used in the commission of the crime if such be the property of a third person not
liable for the offense, it is the sense of this Court that the order of the court below for the confiscation
of the car in question should be set aside and that the said car should be ordered delivered to the

transaction of the sale of dangerous drugs, and, as such, was the instrument in the commission of the
violation of Section 5 of R.A. No. 9165.

On its part, PDEA regards the decision of the CA to be not in accord with applicable laws
and the primordial intent of the framers of R. A. No. 9165, [32]and contends that the car should not be

expressly requires that such property or income derived therefrom should remain in custodialegis in all
that time and that no bond shall be admitted for the release of it.

released from the custody of the law because it had been seized from accused Brodett during a
legitimate anti-illegal operation. It argues that the Motion to Return Non-Drug Evidencedid not

Indeed, forfeiture, if warrantedpursuant to either Article 45 of the Revised Penal Code and

intimate or allege that the car had belonged to a third person; and that even if the car had belonged to

Section 20 of R.A. No. 9165, would be a part of the penalty to be prescribed. The determination of

Ms. Brodett, a third person, her ownership did not ipso facto authorize its release, because she was

whetheror not the car (or any other article confiscated in relation to the unlawful act) would be subject

under the obligation to prove to the RTC that she had no knowledge of the commission of the crime. It

of forfeiture could be made only when the judgment was to be rendered in the proceedings. Section 20

insists that the car is a property in custodialegis and may not be released during the pendency of the

is also clear as to this.

trial.
The status of the car (or any other article confiscated in relation to the unlawful act) for the
We agree with PDEA and the Office of the City Prosecutor.

duration of the trial in the RTCas being in custodialegisisprimarily intended to preserve it as evidence
and to ensure its availability as such. To release it before the judgment is rendered is to deprive the

We note that the RTC granted accusedBrodettsMotion To Return Non-Drug Evidence on

trial court and the parties access to it as evidence. Consequently, that photographs were ordered to be

November 4, 2009 when the criminal proceedings were still going on, and the trial was yet to be

taken of the car was not enough, for mere photographs might not fill in fully the evidentiary need of

completed. Ordering the release of the car at that pointof the proceedings was premature, considering

the Prosecution. As such, the RTCs assailed orders were issued with grave abuse of discretion

that the third paragraph of Section 20,supra, expressly forbids the disposition, alienation, or transfer of

amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction for being in contravention with the express language of

any property, or income derived therefrom, that has been confiscated from the accused charged under

Section 20 of R.A. No. 9165.

R.A. No. 9165 during the pendency of the proceedings in the Regional Trial Court.Section 20 further

Nonetheless, the Court need not annul the assailed orders of the RTC, or reverse the

The subject drug evidence are all ordered transmitted to the Philippine Drug Enforcement

decision of the CA. It appears thaton August 26, 2011 the RTC promulgated its decision on the merits

Agency (PDEA) for proper disposition. All the non-drug evidence except the buy bust money and

in Criminal Case No. 09-208 and Criminal Case No. 09-209, acquitting both Brodettand Joseph and

the genuine money are ordered returned to the accused.

further ordering the return to the accused of all non-drug evidence except the buy-bust money and the
genuine money,because:

The genuine money used in the buy bust operation as well as the genuine money
confiscated from both accused are ordered escheated in favor of the government and accordingly

The failure of the prosecution therefore to establish all the links in the chain of custody is

transmitted to the National Treasury for proper disposition. (emphasis supplied) [33]

fatal to the case at bar. The Court cannot merely rely on the presumption of regularity in the
performance of official function in view of the glaring blunder in the handling of the corpus delicti of
these cases. The presumption of regularity should bow down to the presumption of innocence of the

The directive to return the non-drug evidence hasovertaken the petition for review as to

accused. Hence, the two (2) accused BRODETT and JOSEPH should be as it is hereby ACQUITTED

render further action upon it superfluous. Yet, the Court seizes the opportunity to perform its duty to

of the crimes herein charged for Illegal Selling and Illegal Possession of Dangerous Drugs.

formulate guidelines on the matter of confiscation and forfeiture of non-drug articles, including those
belonging to third persons not liable for the offense, in order to clarify the extent of the power of the

WHEREFORE, premises considered, for failure of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the

trial court under Section 20 of R.A. No. 9165. [34]This the Court must now do in view of the question

accused beyond reasonable doubt, RICHARD BRODETT y SANTOS and JORGE JOSEPH y

about the confiscation and forfeiture of non-drug objects being susceptible of repetition in the

JORDANA are ACQUITTED of the crimes charged in Criminal Case Nos. 09-208 and 09-209.

future.[35]
We rule that henceforth the Regional Trial Courts shall comply strictly with the provisions
of Section 20 of R.A. No. 9165, and should not release articles, whether drugs or non-drugs, for the

duration of the trial and before the rendition of the judgment, even if owned by a third person who is
not liable for the unlawful act.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition for review isDENIED.

The Office of the Court Administrator is directed to disseminate this decision to all trial
courts for their guidance.
SO ORDERED.