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G.R.No.81561

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G.R.No.81561

RepublicofthePhilippines

SUPREMECOURT

Manila

THIRDDIVISION

January18,1991

PEOPLEOFTHEPHILIPPINES,plaintiff­appellee

vs.

ANDREMARTI,accused­appellant.

TheSolicitorGeneralforplaintiff­appellee.

ReynaldoB.TatoyandAbelardoE.Rogacionforaccused­appellant.

BIDIN,J.:

Thisisanappealfromadecision*renderedbytheSpecialCriminalCourtofManila(RegionalTrialCourt,Branch

XLIX)convictingaccused­appellantofviolationofSection21(b),ArticleIVinrelationtoSection4,Article11and

Section2(e)(i),Article1ofRepublicAct6425,asamended,otherwiseknownastheDangerousDrugsAct.

Thefactsassummarizedinthebriefoftheprosecutionareasfollows:

OnAugust14,1987,between10:00and11:00a.m.,theappellantandhiscommon­lawwife,ShirleyReyes,

wenttotheboothofthe"ManilaPackingandExportForwarders"inthePistangPilipinoComplex,Ermita,

Manila,carryingwiththemfour(4)giftwrappedpackages.AnitaReyes(theproprietressandnorelationto

ShirleyReyes)attendedtothem.TheappellantinformedAnitaReyesthathewassendingthepackagestoa friendinZurich,Switzerland.Appellantfilledupthecontractnecessaryforthetransaction,writingthereinhis name, passport number, the date of shipment and the name and address of the consignee, namely,

"WALTERFIERZ,MattacketrII,8052Zurich,Switzerland"(Decision,p.6)

AnitaReyesthenaskedtheappellantifshecouldexamineandinspectthepackages.Appellant,however, refused,assuringherthatthepackagessimplycontainedbooks,cigars,andglovesandweregiftstohis friend in Zurich. In view of appellant's representation, Anita Reyes no longer insisted on inspecting the

packages.Thefour(4)packageswerethenplacedinsideabrowncorrugatedboxonebytwofeetinsize(1'x

2').Styro­foamwasplacedatthebottomandontopofthepackagesbeforetheboxwassealedwithmasking

tape,thusmakingtheboxreadyforshipment(Decision,p.8).

Before delivery of appellant's box to the Bureau of Customs and/or Bureau of Posts, Mr. Job Reyes (proprietor)andhusbandofAnita(Reyes),followingstandardoperatingprocedure,openedtheboxesforfinal inspection.Whenheopenedappellant'sbox,apeculiarodoremittedtherefrom.Hiscuriousityaroused,he squeezedoneofthebundlesallegedlycontainingglovesandfeltdriedleavesinside.Openingoneofthe bundles,hepulledoutacellophanewrapperprotrudingfromtheopeningofoneofthegloves.Hemadean

openingononeofthecellophanewrappersandtookseveralgramsofthecontentsthereof(tsn,pp.29­30,

October6,1987;Emphasissupplied).

Job Reyes forthwith prepared a letter reporting the shipment to the NBI and requesting a laboratory

examinationofthesamplesheextractedfromthecellophanewrapper(tsn,pp.5­6,October6,1987).

Hebroughttheletterandasampleofappellant'sshipmenttotheNarcoticsSectionoftheNationalBureauof Investigation (NBI), at about 1:30 o'clock in the afternoon of that date, i.e., August 14, 1987. He was interviewedbytheChiefofNarcoticsSection.JobReyesinformedtheNBIthattherestoftheshipmentwas

stillinhisoffice.Therefore,JobReyesandthree(3)NBIagents,andaphotographer,wenttotheReyes'

officeatErmita,Manila(tsn,p.30,October6,1987).

JobReyesbroughtouttheboxinwhichappellant'spackageswereplacedand,inthepresenceoftheNBI

agents,openedthetopflaps,removedthestyro­foamandtookoutthecellophanewrappersfrominsidethe

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gloves.Driedmarijuanaleaveswerefoundtohavebeencontainedinsidethecellophanewrappers(tsn,p.

38,October6,1987;Emphasissupplied).

ThepackagewhichallegedlycontainedbookswaslikewiseopenedbyJobReyes.Hediscoveredthatthe package contained bricks or cake­like dried marijuana leaves. The package which allegedly contained tabacaleracigarswasalsoopened.Itturnedoutthatdriedmarijuanaleaveswereneatlystockedunderneath

thecigars(tsn,p.39,October6,1987).

TheNBIagentsmadeaninventoryandtookchargeoftheboxandofthecontentsthereof,aftersigninga

"Receipt"acknowledgingcustodyofthesaideffects(tsn,pp.2­3,October7,1987).

Thereupon,theNBIagentstriedtolocateappellantbuttonoavail.Appellant'sstatedaddressinhispassportbeing

theManilaCentralPostOffice,theagentsrequestedassistancefromthelatter'sChiefSecurity.OnAugust27,

1987, appellant, while claiming his mail at the Central Post Office, was invited by the NBI to shed light on the attemptedshipmentoftheseizeddriedleaves.OnthesamedaytheNarcoticsSectionoftheNBIsubmittedthe driedleavestotheForensicChemistrySectionforlaboratoryexamination.Itturnedoutthatthedriedleaveswere

marijuanafloweringtopsascertifiedbytheforensicchemist.(Appellee'sBrief,pp.9­11,Rollo,pp.132­134).

Thereafter,anInformationwasfiledagainstappellantforviolationofRA6425,otherwiseknownastheDangerous

DrugsAct.

Aftertrial,thecourtaquorenderedtheassaileddecision.

Inthisappeal,accused/appellantassignsthefollowingerrors,towit:

THELOWERCOURTERREDINADMITTINGINEVIDENCETHEILLEGALLYSEARCHEDANDSEIZED

OBJECTSCONTAINEDINTHEFOURPARCELS.

THELOWERCOURTERREDINCONVICTINGAPPELLANTDESPITETHEUNDISPUTEDFACTTHAT HIS RIGHTS UNDER THE CONSTITUTION WHILE UNDER CUSTODIAL PROCEEDINGS WERE NOT OBSERVED.

THELOWERCOURTERREDINNOTGIVINGCREDENCETOTHEEXPLANATIONOFTHEAPPELLANT

ONHOWTHEFOURPARCELSCAMEINTOHISPOSSESSION(Appellant'sBrief,p.1;Rollo,p.55)

1. Appellant contends that the evidence subject of the imputed offense had been obtained in violation of his

constitutionalrightsagainstunreasonablesearchandseizureandprivacyofcommunication(Sec.2and3,Art.III,

Constitution)andthereforearguesthatthesameshouldbeheldinadmissibleinevidence(Sec.3(2),Art.III).

Sections2and3,ArticleIIIoftheConstitutionprovide:

Sec. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no searchwarrantorwarrantofarrestshallissueexceptuponprobablecausetobedeterminedpersonallyby thejudgeafterexaminationunderoathoraffirmationofthecomplainantandthewitnesseshemayproduce, andparticularlydescribingtheplacetobesearchedandthepersonsorthingstobeseized.

Sec.3.(1)Theprivacyofcommunicationandcorrespondenceshallbeinviolableexceptuponlawfulorderof

thecourt,orwhenpublicsafetyororderrequiresotherwiseasprescribedbylaw.

(2)Anyevidenceobtainedinviolationofthisortheprecedingsectionshallbeinadmissibleforanypurposein

anyproceeding.

Ourpresentconstitutionalprovisionontheguaranteeagainstunreasonablesearchandseizurehaditsorigininthe

1935Charterwhich,wordedasfollows:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searchesandseizuresshallnotbeviolated,andnowarrantsshallissuebutuponprobablecause,tobe determinedbythejudgeafterexaminationunderoathoraffirmationofthecomplainantandthewitnesseshe mayproduce,andparticularlydescribingtheplacetobesearched,andthepersonsorthingstobeseized.

(Sec.1[3],ArticleIII)

wasinturnderivedalmostverbatimfromtheFourthAmendment**totheUnitedStatesConstitution.Assuch,the

CourtmayturntothepronouncementsoftheUnitedStatesFederalSupremeCourtandStateAppellateCourts

whichareconsidereddoctrinalinthisjurisdiction.

Thus,followingtheexclusionaryrulelaiddowninMappv.OhiobytheUSFederalSupremeCourt(367US643,81

S.Ct.1684,6L.Ed.1081[1961]),thisCourt,inStonehillv.Diokno(20SCRA383[1967]),declaredasinadmissible

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anyevidenceobtainedbyvirtueofadefectivesearchandseizurewarrant,abandoningintheprocesstheruling earlieradoptedinMoncadov.People'sCourt (80 Phil. 1 [1948]) wherein the admissibility of evidence was not

affectedbytheillegalityofitsseizure.The1973Charter(Sec.4[2],Art.IV)constitutionalizedtheStonehillruling

andiscarriedoveruptothepresentwiththeadventofthe1987Constitution.

Inanumberofcases,theCourtstrictlyadheredtotheexclusionaryruleandhasstruckdowntheadmissibilityof evidenceobtainedinviolationoftheconstitutionalsafeguardagainstunreasonablesearchesandseizures.(Bache

&Co.,(Phil.),Inc.,v.Ruiz,37SCRA823[1971];Limv.PoncedeLeon,66SCRA299[1975];Peoplev.Burgos,

144SCRA1[1986];Roanv.Gonzales,145SCRA687[1987];SeealsoSalazarv.Hon.Achacoso,etal.,GRNo.

81510,March14,1990).

Itmustbenoted,however,thatinallthosecasesadvertedto,theevidencesoobtainedwereinvariablyprocuredby

theStateactingthroughthemediumofitslawenforcersorotherauthorizedgovernmentagencies.

Ontheotherhand,thecaseatbarassumesapeculiarcharactersincetheevidencesoughttobeexcludedwas primarilydiscoveredandobtainedbyaprivateperson,actinginaprivatecapacityandwithouttheinterventionand participationofStateauthorities.Underthecircumstances,canaccused/appellantvalidlyclaimthathisconstitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizure has been violated? Stated otherwise, may an act of a private individual,allegedlyinviolationofappellant'sconstitutionalrights,beinvokedagainsttheState?

Weholdinthenegative.Intheabsenceofgovernmentalinterference,thelibertiesguaranteedbytheConstitution

cannotbeinvokedagainsttheState.

AsthisCourtheldinVillanuevav.Querubin(48SCRA345[1972]:

1.Thisconstitutionalright(againstunreasonablesearchandseizure)referstotheimmunityofone'sperson,

whethercitizenoralien,frominterferencebygovernment,includedinwhichishisresidence,hispapers,and

otherpossessions

Therethestate,howeverpowerful,doesnotassuchhavetheaccessexceptunderthecircumstances

abovenoted,forinthetraditionalformulation,hishouse,howeverhumble,ishiscastle.Thusisoutlawedany

unwarrantedintrusionbygovernment,whichiscalledupontorefrainfromanyinvasionofhisdwellingandto

(Cf.Schermerberv.California,384US757[1966]andBoydv.United

States,116US616[1886];Emphasissupplied).

respecttheprivaciesofhislife

InBurdeauv.McDowell(256US465(1921),41SCt.547;65L.Ed.1048),theCourtthereinconstruingtheright

againstunreasonablesearchesandseizuresdeclaredthat:

(t)heFourthAmendmentgivesprotectionagainstunlawfulsearchesandseizures,andasshowninprevious

cases,itsprotectionappliestogovernmentalaction.Itsoriginandhistoryclearlyshowthatitwasintendedas

arestraintupontheactivitiesofsovereignauthority,andwasnotintendedtobealimitationuponotherthan

governmentalagencies;asagainstsuchauthorityitwasthepurposeoftheFourthAmendmenttosecurethe

citizenintherightofunmolestedoccupationofhisdwellingandthepossessionofhisproperty,subjecttothe

rightofseizurebyprocessdulyserved.

TheaboverulingwasreiteratedinStatev.Bryan(457P.2d661[1968])whereaparkingattendantwhosearched

theautomobiletoascertaintheownerthereoffoundmarijuanainstead,withouttheknowledgeandparticipationof

policeauthorities,wasdeclaredadmissibleinprosecutionforillegalpossessionofnarcotics.

Andagaininthe1969caseofWalkerv.State(429S.W.2d121),itwasheldthatthesearchandseizureclausesare

restraintsuponthegovernmentanditsagents,notuponprivateindividuals(citingPeoplev.Potter,240Cal.App.2d

621,49Cap.Rptr,892(1966);Statev.Brown,Mo.,391S.W.2d903(1965);Statev.Olsen,Or.,317P.2d938

(1957).

LikewiseapproposisthecaseofBernasv.US(373F.2d517(1967).TheCourttheresaid:

Thesearchofwhichappellantcomplains,however,wasmadebyaprivatecitizen—theownerofamotelin which appellant stayed overnight and in which he left behind a travel case containing the evidence *** complained of. The search was made on the motel owner's own initiative. Because of it, he became suspicious, called the local police, informed them of the bag's contents, and made it available to the authorities.

Thefourthamendmentandthecaselawapplyingitdonotrequireexclusionofevidenceobtainedthrougha

searchbyaprivatecitizen.Rather,theamendmentonlyproscribesgovernmentalaction."

ThecontrabandinthecaseatbarhavingcomeintopossessionoftheGovernmentwithoutthelattertransgressing

appellant'srightsagainstunreasonablesearchandseizure,theCourtseesnocogentreasonwhythesameshould

notbeadmittedagainsthimintheprosecutionoftheoffensecharged.

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Appellant, however, would like this court to believe that NBI agents made an illegal search and seizure of the evidencelateronusedinprosecutingthecasewhichresultedinhisconviction.

Thepostulateadvancedbyaccused/appellantneedstobeclarifiedintwodays.Inbothinstances,theargument

standstofallonitsownweight,orthelackofit.

First,thefactualconsiderationsofthecaseatbarreadilyforeclosethepropositionthatNBIagentsconductedan illegalsearchandseizureoftheprohibitedmerchandise.RecordsofthecaseclearlyindicatethatitwasMr.Job Reyes,theproprietoroftheforwardingagency,whomadesearch/inspectionofthepackages.Saidinspectionwas reasonable and a standard operating procedure on the part of Mr. Reyes as a precautionary measure before

deliveryofpackagestotheBureauofCustomsortheBureauofPosts(TSN,October6&7,1987,pp.15­18;pp.7­

8;OriginalRecords,pp.119­122;167­168).

ItwillberecalledthatafterReyesopenedtheboxcontainingtheillicitcargo,hetooksamplesofthesametotheNBI

andlatersummonedtheagentstohisplaceofbusiness.Thereafter,heopenedtheparcelcontainingtherestofthe

shipmentandentrustedthecareandcustodythereoftotheNBIagents.Clearly,theNBIagentsmadenosearch

andseizure,muchlessanillegalone,contrarytothepostulateofaccused/appellant.

Second,themerepresenceoftheNBIagentsdidnotconvertthereasonablesearcheffectedbyReyesintoa warrantlesssearchandseizureproscribedbytheConstitution.Merelytoobserveandlookatthatwhichisinplain sightisnotasearch.Havingobservedthatwhichisopen,wherenotrespasshasbeencommittedinaidthereof,is

notsearch(Chadwickv.State,429SW2d135).Wherethecontrabandarticlesareidentifiedwithoutatrespasson

thepartofthearrestingofficer,thereisnotthesearchthatisprohibitedbytheconstitution(USv.Lee274US559,

71L.Ed.1202[1927];Kerv.StateofCalifornia374US23,10L.Ed.2d.726[1963];Moorev.State,429SW2d122

[1968]).

InGandyv.Watkins(237F.Supp.266[1964]),itwaslikewiseheldthatwherethepropertywastakenintocustody

ofthepoliceatthespecificrequestofthemanagerandwherethesearchwasinitiallymadebytheownerthereisno

unreasonablesearchandseizurewithintheconstitutionalmeaningoftheterm.

ThattheBillofRightsembodiedintheConstitutionisnotmeanttobeinvokedagainstactsofprivateindividuals finds support in the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission. True, the liberties guaranteed by the fundamentallawofthelandmustalwaysbesubjecttoprotection.Butprotectionagainstwhom?Commissioner BernasinhissponsorshipspeechintheBillofRightsanswersthequerywhichhehimselfposed,asfollows:

First, the general reflections. The protection of fundamental liberties in the essence of constitutional democracy.Protectionagainstwhom?Protectionagainstthestate.TheBillofRightsgovernstherelationship betweentheindividualandthestate.Itsconcernisnottherelationbetweenindividuals,betweenaprivate individualandotherindividuals.WhattheBillofRightsdoesistodeclaresomeforbiddenzonesintheprivate sphereinaccessibletoanypowerholder. (Sponsorship Speech of Commissioner Bernas , Record of the

ConstitutionalCommission,Vol.1,p.674;July17,1986;Emphasissupplied)

Theconstitutionalproscriptionagainstunlawfulsearchesandseizuresthereforeappliesasarestraintdirectedonly

againstthegovernmentanditsagenciestaskedwiththeenforcementofthelaw.Thus,itcouldonlybeinvoked

againsttheStatetowhomtherestraintagainstarbitraryandunreasonableexerciseofpowerisimposed.

Ifthesearchismadeupontherequestoflawenforcers,awarrantmustgenerallybefirstsecuredifitistopassthe test of constitutionality. However, if the search is made at the behest or initiative of the proprietor of a private establishment for its own and private purposes, as in the case at bar, and without the intervention of police authorities, the right against unreasonable search and seizure cannot be invoked for only the act of private individual,notthelawenforcers,isinvolved.Insum,theprotectionagainstunreasonablesearchesandseizures cannotbeextendedtoactscommittedbyprivateindividualssoastobringitwithintheambitofallegedunlawful intrusionbythegovernment.

Appellantargues,however,thatsincetheprovisionsofthe1935Constitutionhasbeenmodifiedbythepresent

phraseologyfoundinthe1987Charter,expresslydeclaringasinadmissibleanyevidenceobtainedinviolationofthe

constitutionalprohibitionagainstillegalsearchandseizure,itmattersnotwhethertheevidencewasprocuredby

policeauthoritiesorprivateindividuals(Appellant'sBrief,p.8,Rollo,p.62).

Theargumentisuntenable.Foronething,theconstitution,inlayingdowntheprinciplesofthegovernmentand fundamental liberties of the people, does not govern relationships between individuals. Moreover, it must be

emphasizedthatthemodificationsintroducedinthe1987Constitution(re:Sec.2,Art.III)relatetotheissuanceof

eitherasearchwarrantorwarrantofarrestvis­a­vistheresponsibilityofthejudgeintheissuancethereof(See

Solivenv.Makasiar,167SCRA393[1988];CircularNo.13[October1,1985]andCircularNo.12[June30,1987].

Themodificationsintroduceddeviateinnomannerastowhomtherestrictionorinhibitionagainstunreasonable

searchandseizureisdirectedagainst.TherestraintstayedwiththeStateanddidnotshifttoanyoneelse.

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Corolarilly,allegedviolationsagainstunreasonablesearchandseizuremayonlybeinvokedagainsttheStatebyan

individualunjustlytraducedbytheexerciseofsovereignauthority.Toagreewithappellantthatanactofaprivate

individualinviolationoftheBillofRightsshouldalsobeconstruedasanactoftheStatewouldresultinserious

legalcomplicationsandanabsurdinterpretationoftheconstitution.

Similarly,theadmissibilityoftheevidenceprocuredbyanindividualeffectedthroughprivateseizureequallyapplies,

inparipassu,totheallegedviolation,non­governmentalasitis,ofappellant'sconstitutionalrightstoprivacyand

communication.

2.Inhissecondassignmentoferror,appellantcontendsthatthelowercourterredinconvictinghimdespitethe

undisputedfactthathisrightsundertheconstitutionwhileundercustodialinvestigationwerenotobserved.

Again,thecontentioniswithoutmerit,Wehavecarefullyexaminedtherecordsofthecaseandfoundnothingto indicate, as an "undisputed fact", that appellant was not informed of his constitutional rights or that he gave statementswithouttheassistanceofcounsel.Thelawenforcerstestifiedthataccused/appellantwasinformedofhis

constitutionalrights.Itispresumedthattheyhaveregularlyperformedtheirduties(See.5(m),Rule131)andtheir

testimoniesshouldbegivenfullfaithandcredence,therebeingnoevidencetothecontrary.Whatisclearfromthe records, on the other hand, is that appellant refused to give any written statement while under investigation as testifiedbyAtty.LastimosooftheNBI,Thus:

FiscalFormoso:

YousaidthatyouinvestigatedMr.andMrs.JobReyes.Whatabouttheaccusedhere,didyouinvestigatethe

accusedtogetherwiththegirl?

WITNESS:

Yes,wehaveinterviewedtheaccusedtogetherwiththegirlbuttheaccusedavailedofhisconstitutionalright

nottogiveanywrittenstatement,sir.(TSN,October8,1987,p.62;OriginalRecords,p.240)

Theabovetestimonyofthewitnessfortheprosecutionwasnotcontradictedbythedefenseoncross­examination. As borne out by the records, neither was there any proof by the defense that appellant gave uncounselled confessionwhilebeinginvestigated.Whatismore,wehaveexaminedtheassailedjudgmentofthetrialcourtand nowhereisthereanyreferencemadetothetestimonyofappellantwhileundercustodialinvestigationwhichwas utilizedinthefindingofconviction.Appellant'ssecondassignmentoferroristhereforemisplaced.

3.Comingnowtoappellant'sthirdassignmentoferror,appellantwouldlikeustobelievethathewasnottheowner

ofthepackageswhichcontainedprohibiteddrugsbutratheracertainMichael,aGermannational,whomappellant

metinapubalongErmita,Manila:thatinthecourseoftheir30­minuteconversation,Michaelrequestedhimtoship

thepackagesandgavehimP2,000.00forthecostoftheshipmentsincetheGermannationalwasabouttoleave

thecountrythenextday(October15,1987,TSN,pp.2­10).

Ratherthangivetheappearanceofveracity,wefindappellant'sdisclaimerasincredulous,self­servingandcontrary tohumanexperience.Itcaneasilybefabricated.Anacquaintancewithacompletestrangerstruckinhalfanhour

couldnothavepushedamantoentrusttheshipmentoffour(4)parcelsandshelloutP2,000.00forthepurposeand

forappellanttoreadilyaccedetocomplywiththeundertakingwithoutfirstascertainingitscontents.Asstatedbythe trial court, "(a) person would not simply entrust contraband and of considerable value at that as the marijuana

floweringtops,andthecashamountofP2,000.00toacompletestrangerliketheAccused.TheAccused,onthe

otherhand,wouldnotsimplyacceptsuchundertakingtotakecustodyofthepackagesandshipthesamefroma

completestrangeronhismeresay­so"(Decision,p.19,Rollo,p.91).Astowhyhereadilyagreedtodotheerrand,

appellantfailedtoexplain.Denials,ifunsubstantiatedbyclearandconvincingevidence,arenegativeself­serving evidencewhichdeservenoweightinlawandcannotbegivengreaterevidentiaryweightthanthetestimonyof

crediblewitnesseswhotestifyonaffirmativematters(Peoplev.Esquillo,171SCRA571[1989];Peoplevs.Sariol,

174SCRA237[1989]).

Appellant's bare denial is even made more suspect considering that, as per records of the Interpol, he was

previouslyconvictedofpossessionofhashishbytheKleveCourtintheFederalRepublicofGermanyonJanuary1,

1982andthattheconsigneeofthefrustratedshipment,WalterFierz,alsoaSwissnational,waslikewiseconvicted

fordrugabuseandisjustaboutanhour'sdrivefromappellant'sresidenceinZurich,Switzerland(TSN,October8,

1987,p.66;OriginalRecords,p.244;Decision,p.21;Rollo,p.93).

Evidencetobebelieved,mustnotonlyproceedfromthemouthofacrediblewitness,butitmustbecredibleinitself suchasthecommonexperienceandobservationofmankindcanapproveasprobableunderthecircumstances

(Peoplev.Alto,26SCRA342[1968],citingDaggersv.VanDyke,37N.J.Eg.130;seealsoPeoplev.Sarda,172

SCRA651[1989];Peoplev.Sunga,123SCRA327[1983]);Castañaresv.CA,92SCRA567[1979]).Asrecords

furthershow,appellantdidnotevenbothertoaskMichael'sfullname,hiscompleteaddressorpassportnumber.

Furthermore,ifindeed,theGermannationalwastheownerofthemerchandise,appellantshouldhavesoindicated

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inthecontractofshipment(Exh."B",OriginalRecords,p.40).Onthecontrary,appellantsignedthecontractasthe

owner and shipper thereof giving more weight to the presumption that things which a person possesses, or exercises acts of ownership over, are owned by him (Sec. 5 [j], Rule 131). At this point, appellant is therefore estoppedtoclaimotherwise.

Premisesconsidered,weseenoerrorcommittedbythetrialcourtinrenderingtheassailedjudgment.

WHEREFORE,thejudgmentofconvictionfindingappellantguiltybeyondreasonabledoubtofthecrimechargedis

herebyAFFIRMED.Nocosts.

SOORDERED.

Fernan,C.J.,Gutierrez,Jr.andFeliciano,JJ.,concur.

Footnotes

* PennedbyJudgeRomeoJ.Callejo.

** It reads: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonablesearchesandseizures,shallnotbeviolated,andnowarrantsshallissue,butuponprobable cause,supportedbyoathoraffirmation,andparticularlydescribingtheplacetobesearched,andthepersons orthingstobeseized."

*** Forgedchecks.

TheLawphilProject­ArellanoLawFoundation

* Forgedchecks. TheLawphilProject­ArellanoLawFoundation