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People v. Martinez et al.

G.R. No. 191366, December 13, 2010

FACTS: On September 2, 2006 at around 1245 PM, PO1 Bernard Azarden was on duty at the Police
Community Precinct along Arellano St., Dagupan City when a concerned citizen reported that a
pot session was underway in the house of accused Rafael Gonzales in Trinidad Subdivision,
Dagupan City. PO1 Azardan, PO1 Alejandro dela Cruz and members of Special Weapons and
Tactics (SWAT) proceeded to aforesaid house. Upon inquiry from people in the area, the house of
Gonzales was located. As the team entered the house, accused Orlando Doria was arrested
while coming out. Inside the house were Gonzales, Arnold Martinez, Edgar Dizon, and Rezin
Martinez. Seized from the accused were open plastic sachets (containing shabu residue), pieces
of rolled used aluminum foil and pieces of used aluminum foil. The accused were arrested and
brought to police station, seized items were sent to the Pangasinan Provincial Police Crime
Laboratory. All accused, except for Doria, were found positive for methylamphetamine HCL.

On February 13, 2008, RTC found Arnold Martinez, Edgar Dizon, Rezin Martinez and Rafael
Gonzales guilty beyond reasonable doubt under Sec. 13 in relation to Sec. 11, Art. II of RA 9165
and sentenced each to life imprisonment and fined PHP 500,000 plus cost of suit.

The CA supported the findings of the lower court.

ISSUE: Were the guilt of the accused proven beyond reasonable doubt?

RULING: No, the Court finds that the prosecution failed to prove the guilt of the accused beyond
reasonable doubt because (1) evidence against the accused are inadmissible and (2) even if the
evidence were admissible, the chain of custody was not duly established .

The evidence is inadmissible because of the illegal arrest, search and seizure.
Searches and seizures without a warrant are valid in (1) incidence of lawful
arrest, (2) plain view search of evidence, (3) moving vehicle search, (4)
consented search, (5) customs search, (6) stop and frisk, (7)exigent and
emergency cases. Under Rule 113, Sec. 5 of RRCP warrantless arrest can only
be done in in flagrante cases, hot pursuit cases, and fugitive cases. The arrest
of the accused-appellants were based solely on the report of a concerned
citizen, no surveillance of the place was conducted. Under Rule 113, fugitive
case does not apply. In flagrante and hot pursuit case may apply only upon
probable cause, which means actual belief or reasonable ground of suspicion.
It is reasonable ground of suspicion when suspicion of a person to be arrested
is probably guilty of the offense based on actual facts, that is, supported by
circumstances. In case at bar, this is not the case since the entire arrest was
based on uncorroborated statement of a concerned citizen.

The chain of custody as outlined in Sec. 21, Art. II of RA 9165 was not
observed as no proper inventory, photographing, was done in the presence of
the accused nor were there representatives from the media, the DOJ and any
popularly elected official present, although in warrantless seizures, marking
and photographing of evidence may be done at the nearest police station.

Court sets aside and reverses the decision of the CA dated August 7, 2009,
acquits the accused and orders their immediate release.