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Alih vs.

Castro CASE DIGEST 151 SCRA 279 June 23, 1987


Facts:
Respondents who were members of the Philippine marine and defense forces raided the
compound occupied by petitioner in search of loose firearms, ammunitions and explosives. A
shoot-out ensued after petitioners resisted the intrusion by the respondents, killing a number
of men. The following morning, the petitioners were arrested and subjected to finger
printing, paraffin testing and photographing despite their objection. Several kinds of rifle,
grenades and ammunitions were also confiscated.
The petitioners filed an injunction suit with a prayer to have the items illegally seized returned
to them and invoked the provisions on the Bill of Rights
The respondents admitted that the operation was done without a warrant but reasoned that
they were acting under superior orders and that operation was necessary because of the
aggravation of the peace and order problem due to the assassination of the city mayor.
Issue:
Whether or not the seizing of the items and the taking of the fingerprints and photographs of
the petitioners and subjecting them to paraffin testing are violative of the bill of Rights and
are inadmissible as evidence against them.
Held:
The court held that superior orders nor the suspicion that the respondents had against
petitioners did not excuse the former from observing the guaranty provided for by the
constitution against unreasonable searches and seizure. The petitioners were entitled to due
process and should be protected from the arbitrary actions of those tasked to execute the
law. Furthermore, there was no showing that the operation was urgent nor was there any
showing of the petitioners as criminals or fugitives of justice to merit approval by virtue of
Rule 113, Section 5 of the Rules of Court.
The items seized, having been the fruits of the poisonous tree were held inadmissible as
evidence in any proceedings against the petitioners. The operation by the respondents was
done without a warrant and so the items seized during said operation should not be
acknowledged in court as evidence. But said evidence should remain in the custody of the law
(custodia egis).
However, as to the issue on finger-printing, photographing and paraffin-testing as violative of
the provision against self-incrimination, the court held that the prohibition against selfincrimination applies to testimonial compulsion only. As Justice Holmes put it in Holt v. United
States, 18 The prohibition of compelling a man in a criminal court to be a witness against
himself is a prohibition of the use of physical or moral compulsion to extort communications
from him, not an exclusion of his body as evidence when it may be material.