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G.R. No. 205472, January 25, 2016 defense presented no witness other than Saraum.

AMADO I. SARAUM,1Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. According to the prosecution, on August 17, 2006, a telephone call was received by PO3
Larrobis regarding the illegal drug activities in Sitio Camansi, Barangay Lorega, Cebu
DECISION City. A buy-bust team was then formed composed of PO3 Larrobis, PO1 Jumalon, PO2
Nathaniel Sta. Ana, PO1 Roy Cabahug, and PO1 Julius Anion against a certain "Pata."
PERALTA, J.: PO2 Sta. Ana was designated as the poseur-buyer accompanied by the informant, PO1
Jumalon as the back-up of PO2 Sta. Ana, and the rest of the team as the perimeter
This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court (Rules) seeks security. PO1 Anion coordinated with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)
to reverse the Decision2 dated September 8, 2011 and Resolution3 dated December 19, regarding the operation. After preparing all the necessary documents, such as the pre-
2012 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CEB CR No. 01199, which affirmed the operation report and submitting the same to the PDEA, the team proceeded to the
judgment of conviction against petitioner Amado I. Saraum (Saraum) rendered by the subject area.
Regional Trial Court (ATC), Branch 57, Cebu City, in Criminal Case No. CBU-77737.
During the operation, "Pata" eluded arrest as he tried to run towards his shanty. Inside
Saraum was charged with violation of Section 12, Article II (Possession of Paraphernalia the house, which was divided with a curtain as partition, the buy-bust team also saw
for Dangerous Drugs) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Saraum and Peter Espcranza, who were holding drug paraphernalia apparently in
Drugs Act of 2002. The accusatory portion of the Information reads: preparation to have a "shabu" pot session. They recovered from Saraum's possession a
lighter, rolled tissue paper, and aluminum tin foil (tooter). PO3 Larrobis confiscated the
That on or about the 17th day of August, 2006, at about 12:45 A.M., in the City of Cebu, items, placed them in the plastic pack of misua wrapper, and made initial markings ("A"
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, with for Saraum and "P" for Esperanza). At the police station, PO3 Larrobis marked as "AIS-
08-17-2006" the paraphernalia recovered from Saraum. After the case was filed, the
deliberate intent, and without being authorized by law, did then and there have in his
subject items were turned over to the property custodian of the Office of City
possession the following:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
1 = One (1) lighter
2 = One (1) rolled tissue paper By way of defense, Saraum denied the commission of the alleged offense. He testified
3 = One (1) aluminum tin foil that on the date and time in question, he was passing by Lorega Cemetery on his way to
the house of his parents-in-law when he was held by men with firearms. They were
which are instruments and/or equipments (sic) fit or intended for smoking, consuming, already with "Antik" and "Pata," both of whom were his neighbors. Believing that he had
administering, ingesting, or introducing, any dangerous drug into the body. not committed anything illegal, he resisted the arrest. He learned of the criminal charge
only when he was brought to the court.
CONTRARY TO LAW.4ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
On May 5, 2009, the RTC rendered its Decision,7 the dispositive portion of which states:
In his arraignment, Saraum, with the assistance of a counsel, pleaded not guilty to the WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime
offense charged.5Trial ensued. Meantime, Saraum was released on bail.6 of violation of Section 12, Article II of R.A. 9165 and he is hereby sentenced to suffer the
penalty of six (6) months and one (1) day to two (2) years and to pay a fine of
PO3 Jeffrey Larrobis and PO1 Romeo Jumalon testified for the prosecution while the Php20,000.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.
somebody. The case is clearly one of hot pursuit of "Pate," who, in eluding arrest,
The drug paraphernalias (sic) are ordered forfeited in favor of the government. entered the shanty where Saraum and Esperanza were incidentally caught in possession
of the illegal items. Saraum did not proffer any satisfactory explanation with regard to
SO ORDERED.8ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary his presence at the vicinity of the buy-bust operation and his possession of the seized
On appeal, the CA sustained the judgment of conviction; hence, this petition. items that he claims to have "countless, lawful uses." On the contrary, the prosecution
witnesses have adequately explained the respective uses of the items to prove that they
We deny. were indeed drug paraphernalia.14 There is, thus, no necessity to make a laboratory
examination and finding as to the presence or absence of methamphetamine
Considering that Saraum failed to show any arbitrariness, palpable error, or hydrochloride or any illegal substances on said items since possession itself is the
capriciousness on the findings of fact of the trial and appellate courts, such findings punishable act.
deserve great weight and are deemed conclusive and binding.9 Besides, a review of the
records reveals that the CA did not err in affirming his conviction. The valid warrantless arrest gave the officers the right to search the shanty for objects
relating to the crime and seize the drug paraphernalia they found. In the course of their
The elements of illegal possession of equipment, instrument, apparatus and other lawful intrusion, they inadvertently saw the various drug paraphernalia. As these items
paraphernalia for dangerous drugs under Section 12, Article II of R.A. No. 9165 are: (1) were plainly visible, the police officers were justified in seizing them. Considering that
possession or control by the accused of any equipment, apparatus or other Saraum's arrest was legal, the search and seizure that resulted from it were likewise
paraphernalia fit or intended for smoking, consuming, administering, injecting, lawful. The various drug paraphernalia that the police officers found and seized in the
ingesting, or introducing any dangerous drug into the body; and (2) such possession is shanty are, therefore, admissible in evidence for having proceeded from a valid search
not authorized by law.10 In this case, the prosecution has convincingly established that and seizure. Since the confiscated drug paraphernalia are the very corpus delicti of the
Saraum was in possession of drug paraphernalia, particularly aluminum tin foil, rolled crime charged, the Court has no choice but to sustain the judgment of conviction.
tissue paper, and lighter, all of which were offered and admitted in evidence.
Even if We consider the arrest as invalid, Saraum is deemed to have waived any
Saraum was arrested during the commission of a crime, which instance does not require objection thereto when he did not raise the issue before entering his plea. "The
a warrant in accordance with Section 5 (a), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal established rule is that an accused may be estopped from assailing the legality of his
Procedure.11 In arrest in flagrante delicto, the accused is apprehended at the very arrest if he failed to move for the quashing of the Information against him before his
moment he is committing or attempting to commit or has just committed an offense in arraignment. Any objection involving the arrest or the procedure in the court's
the presence of the arresting officer. To constitute a valid in flagrante delicto arrest, two acquisition of jurisdiction over the person of an accused must be made before he enters
requisites must concur: (1) the person to be arrested must execute an overt act his plea; otherwise the objection is deemed waived."15 In this case, counsel for Saraum
indicating that he has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit manifested its objection to the admission of the seized drug paraphernalia, invoking
a crime; and (2) such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the illegal arrest and search, only during the formal offer of evidence by the prosecution. 16
arresting officer.12
In ascertaining the identity of the illegal drugs and/or drug paraphernalia presented in
Here, the Court is unconvinced with Saraum's statement that he was not committing a court as the ones actually seized from the accused, the prosecution must show that: (a)
crime at the time of his arrest. PO3 Larrobis described in detail how they were able to the prescribed procedure under Section 21(1), Article II of R.A. No. 9165 has been
apprehend him, who was then holding a disposable lighter in his right hand and a tin foil complied with or falls within the saving clause provided in Section 21 (a), Article II of
and a rolled tissue paper in his left hand,13 while they were in the course of arresting the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. No. 9165;17and (b) there was an
unbroken link (not perfect link) in the chain of custody with respect to the confiscated matter in question is what the proponent claims it to be. It would include testimony
items.18 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
Although Section 21(1) of R.A. No. 9165 mandates that the apprehending team must describe how and from whom it was received, where it was and what happened to it
immediately conduct a physical inventory of the seized items and photograph them, while in the witness' possession, the condition in which it was received and the
non-compliance therewith is not fatal as long as there is a justifiable ground and as long condition in which it was delivered to the next link in the chain. These witnesses would
as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the confiscated/seized items are properly then describe the precautions taken lo ensure that there had been no change in the
preserved by the apprehending team.19 While nowhere in the prosecution evidence condition of the item and no opportunity for someone not in the chain to have
show the "justifiable ground" which may excuse the police operatives involved in the possession of the same.23ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
buy-bust operation from making the physical inventory and taking a photograph of the While the procedure on the chain of custody should be perfect and unbroken, in reality,
drug paraphernalia confiscated and/or seized, such omission shall not render Saraum's it is almost always impossible to obtain an unbroken chain.24 Thus, failure to strictly
arrest illegal or the items seized/confiscated from him as inadmissible in evidence. Said comply with Section 21(1), Article II of R.A. No. 9165 does not necessarily render an
"justifiable ground" will remain unknown in the light of the apparent failure of Saraum accused person's arrest illegal or the items seized or confiscated from him
to specifically challenge the custody and safekeeping or the issue of disposition and inadmissible.25
preservation of the subject drug paraphernalia before the trial court. He cannot be x x x Under Section 3 of Rule 128 of the Rules of Court, evidence is admissible when it is
allowed too late in the day to question the police officers' alleged non-compliance with relevant to the issue and is not excluded by the law or these rules. For evidence to be
Section 21 for the first time on appeal.20 inadmissible, there should be a law or rule which forbids its reception. If there is no
such law or rule, the evidence must be admitted subject only to the evidentiary weight
The chain of custody rule requires the identification of the persons who handled the that will be accorded it by the courts. x x x
confiscated items for the purpose of duly monitoring the authorized movements of the
illegal drugs and/or drug paraphernalia from the time they were seized from the We do not find any provision or statement in said law or in any rule that will bring
accused until the time they arc presented in court.21 Section 1(b) of Dangerous Drugs about the non-admissibility of the confiscated and/or seized drugs due to non-
Board Regulation No. 1, Series of 2002, implementing R.A. No. 9165, defines chain of compliance with Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165. The issue therefore, if there is
custody as follows: non-compliance with said section, is not of admissibility, but of weight - evidentiary
Chain of Custody means the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized merit or probative value to be given the evidence. The weight to be given by the courts
drugs or controlled chemicals or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory on said evidence depends on the circumstances obtaining in each
equipment of each stage, from the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic case.26ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
laboratory to safekeeping to presentation in court for destruction. Such record of The most important factor is the preservation of the integrity and evidentiary value of
movements and custody of seized item shall include the identity and signature of the the seized items.27In this case, the prosecution was able to demonstrate that the
person who held temporary custody of the seized item, the date and time when such integrity and evidentiary value of the confiscated drug paraphernalia had not been
transfer of custody were made in the course of safekeeping and use in court as evidence, compromised because it established the crucial link in the chain of custody of the seized
and the final disposition. items from the time they were first discovered until they were brought to the court for
In Mallillin v. People,22 the Court discussed how the chain of custody of seized items examination. Even though the prosecution failed to submit in evidence the physical
should be established, thus: inventory and photograph of the drug paraphernalia, this will not render Saraum's
As a method of authenticating evidence, the chain of custody rule requires that the arrest illegal or the items seized from him inadmissible. There is substantial compliance
admission of an exhibit be preceded by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the by the police as to the required procedure on the custody and control of the confiscated
items. The succession of events established by evidence and the overall handling of the
seized items by specified individuals all show that the evidence seized were the same SO
evidence subsequently identified and testified to in open court.

Certainly, the testimonies of the police officers who conducted the buy-bust operation G.R. No. 205926, July 22, 2015
arc generally accorded full faith and credit in view of the presumption of regularity in
the performance of official duties and especially so in the absence of ill-motive that ALVIN COMERCIANTE Y GONZALES, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE
could be attributed to them.28 The defense failed to show any odious intent on the part PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
of the police officers to impute such a serious crime that would put in jeopardy the life
and liberty of an innocent person.29 Saraum's mere denial cannot prevail over the DECISION
positive and categorical identification and declarations of the police officers. The
defense of denial, frame-up or extortion, like alibi, has been invariably viewed by the
courts with disfavor for it can easily be concocted and is a common and standard
defense ploy in most cases involving violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act.30 As evidence
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari1 are the Decision2 dated October 20,
that is both negative and self-serving, this defense cannot attain more credibility than
the testimonies of prosecution witnesses who testily clearly, providing thereby positive 2011 and the Resolution3 dated February 19, 2013 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-
evidence on the various aspects of the crime committed.31 To merit consideration, it has G.R. CR No. 32813, which affirmed in toto the Judgment4 dated July 28, 2009 of the
to be substantiated by strong, clear and convincing evidence, which Saraum failed to do Regional Trial Court of Mandaluyong City, Branch 213 (RTC) in Crim. Case No. MC-03-
for presenting no corroborative evidence.32 7242-D convicting petitioner Alvin Comerciante y Gonzales (Comerciante) of the crime
of illegal Possession of Dangerous Drugs defined and penalized under Section 11, Article
Settled is the rule that, unless some facts or circumstances of weight and influence have II of Republic Act No. (RA) 9165,5 otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous
been overlooked or the significance of which has been misinterpreted, the findings and Drugs Act of 2002.
conclusion of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses are entitled to great respect
The Facts
and will not be disturbed because it has the advantage of hearing the witnesses and
observing their deportment and manner of testifying.33 The rule finds an even more
On July 31, 2003, an Information was filed before the RTC charging Comerciante
stringent application where said findings are sustained by the CA as in this case.34 In this
ofviolation of Section 11, Article II of RA 9165, to wit:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
case, the quantum of evidence necessary to prove Saraum's guilt beyond reasonable
doubt had been sufficiently met since the prosecution stood on its own strength and did
That on or about the 30th day of July 2003, in the City of Mandaluyong, Philippines, a
not rely on the weakness of the defense. The prosecution was able to overcome the
place within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not
constitutional right of the accused to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
having been lawfully authorized to possess any dangerous drugs, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously and knowingly have in his possession, custody and
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated
control Two (2) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet (sic) each containing 0.15 gram
September 8, 2011 and Resolution dated December 19, 2012 of the Court of Appeals in
(sic) and 0.28 gram (sic) of white crystalline substance with a total of 0.43 grams which
CA-G.R. CEB CR No. 01 199, which sustained the judgment of conviction rendered by the
was found positive to the test for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride commonly known
Regional Trial Court, Branch 57, Cebu City, in Criminal Case No. CBU-77737,
as "shabu", a dangerous drug.
According to the prosecution, at around 10 o'clock in the evening of July 30, 2003, Agent The RTC found that PO3 Calag conducted a valid warrantless arrest on Comerciante,
Eduardo Radan (Agent Radan) of the NARCOTICS group and PO3 Bienvy Calag II (PO3 which yielded two (2) plastic sachets containing shabu. In this relation, the RTC opined
Calag) were aboard a motorcycle, patrolling the area while on their way to visit a friend that there was probable cause to justify the warrantless arrest, considering that PO3
at Private Road, Barangay Hulo, Mandaluyong City. Cruising at a speed of 30 kilometers Calag saw, in plain view, that Comerciante was carrying the said sachets when he
per hour along Private Road, they spotted, at a distance of about 10 meters, two (2) men decided to approach and apprehend the latter. Further, the RTC found that absent any
- later identified as Comerciante and a certain Erick Dasilla7 (Dasilla) - standing and proof of intent that PO3 Calag was impelled by any malicious motive, he must be
showing "improper and unpleasant movements," with one of them handing plastic presumed to have properly performed his duty when he arrested
sachets to the other. Thinking that the sachets may contain shabu, they immediately Comerciante.13redarclaw
stopped and approached Comerciante and Dasilla. At a distance of around five (5)
meters, PO3 Calag introduced himself as a police officer, arrested Comerciante and Aggrieved, Comerciante appealed to the CA.
Dasilla, and confiscated two (2) plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance
from them. A laboratory examination later confirmed that said sachets contained The CA Ruling
methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.8redarclaw
In a Decision14 dated October 20, 2011 the CA affirmed Comerciante's conviction. It held
After the prosecution rested its case, Dasilla filed a demurrer to evidence, which was that PO3 Calag had probable cause to effect the warrantless arrest of Comerciante, given
granted by the RTC, thus his acquittal. However, due to Comerciante's failure to file his that the latter was committing a crime in flagrante delicto; and that he personally saw
own demurrer to evidence, the RTC considered his right to do so waived and ordered the latter exchanging plastic sachets with Dasilla. According to the CA, this was enough
him to present his evidence.9redarclaw to draw a reasonable suspicion that those sachets might be shabu, and thus, PO3 Calag
had every reason to inquire on the matter right then and there.15redarclaw
In his defense, Comerciante averred that PO3 Calag was looking for a certain "Barok",
who was a notorious drug pusher in the area, when suddenly, he and Dasilla, who were Dissatisfied, Comerciante moved for reconsideration16 which was, however, denied in a
just standing in front of a jeepney along Private Road, were arrested and taken to a Resolution17dated February 19, 2013. Hence, this petition.18redarclaw
police station. There, the police officers claimed to have confiscated illegal drugs from
them and were asked money in exchange for their release. When they failed to accede to The Issue Before the Court
the demand, they were brought to another police station to undergo inquest
proceedings, and thereafter, were charged with illegal possession of dangerous The core Issue for the Court's resolution is whether or not the CA correctly affirmed
drugs.10redarclaw Comerciante's conviction for violation of Section 11, Article II of RA 9165.

The RTC Ruling In his petition, Comerciante essentially contends that PO3 Carag did not effect a valid
warrantless arrest on him. Consequently, the evidence gathered as a result of such
In a Judgment11 dated July 28, 2009, the RTC found Comerciante guilty beyond illegal warrantless arrest, i.e., the plastic sachets containing shabu should be rendered
reasonable doubt of violation of Section 11, Article II of RA 9165, and accordingly, inadmissible, necessarily resulting in his acquittal.19redarclaw
sentenced him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for twelve (12) years and one (1)
day to twenty (20) years, and ordered him to pay a fine in the amount of On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General, on behalf of respondent People of
the Philippines, maintains that Comerciante's warrantless arrest was validly made
pursuant to the "stop and frisk" rule, especially considering that he was caught in (c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal
flagrante delicto in possession of illegal drugs.20redarclaw establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or is temporarily confined
while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement
The Court's Ruling to another.

The petition is meritorious. In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) above, the person arrested without a
warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the nearest police station or jail and shall be
Section 2, Article III21 of the Constitution mandates that a search and seizure must be proceeded against in accordance with Section 7 of Rule 112.
carried out through or on the strength of a judicial warrant predicated upon the The aforementioned provision provides three (3) instances when a warrantless arrest
existence of probable cause; in the absence of such warrant, such search and seizure may be lawfully effected: (a) arrest of a suspect in flagrante delicto; (b) arrest of a
becomes, as a general rule, "unreasonable" within the meaning of said constitutional suspect where, based on personal knowledge of the arresting officer, there is probable
provision. To protect people from unreasonable searches and seizures, Section 3 (2), cause that said suspect was the perpetrator of a crime which had just been committed;
Article III22 of the Constitution provides an exclusionary rule which instructs that (c) arrest of a prisoner who has escaped from custody serving final judgment or
evidence obtained and confiscated on the occasion of such unreasonable searches and temporarily confined during the pendency of his case or has escaped while being
seizures are deemed tainted and should be excluded for being the proverbial fruit of a transferred from one confinement to another.26redarclaw
poisonous tree. In other words, evidence obtained from unreasonable searches and
seizures shall be inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any For a warrantless arrest under Section 5 (a) to operate, two (2) elements must concur,
proceeding.23redarclaw namely: (a) 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 (b) such
The exclusionary rule is not, however, an absolute and rigid proscription. One of the overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.27 On the
recognized exceptions established by jurisprudence is a search incident to a lawful other hand, Section 5 (b) requires for its application that at the time of the arrest, an
arrest.24 In this instance, the law requires that there first be a lawful arrest before a offense had in fact just been committed and the arresting officer had personal
search can be made the process cannot be reversed.25 Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised knowledge of facts indicating that the accused had committed it.28redarclaw
Rules on Criminal Procedure lays down the rules on lawful warrantless arrests, as
follows:LawlibraryofCRAlaw In both instances, the officer's personal knowledge of the fact of the commission of an
ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary offense is absolutely required. Under Section 5 (a), the officer himself witnesses the
SEC. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. - A peace officer or a private person may, crime; while in Section 5 (b), he knows for a fact that a crime has just been
without a warrant, arrest a person:LawlibraryofCRAlaw committed.29redarclaw

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually A judicious review of the factual milieu of the instant case reveals that there could have
committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; been no lawful warrantless arrest made on Comerciante. PO3 Calag himself admitted
that he was aboard a motorcycle cruising at a speed of around 30 kilometers per hour
(b) When an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe when he saw Comerciante and Dasilla standing around and showing "improper and
based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested unpleasant movements," with one of them handing plastic sachets to the other. On the
has committed it; and basis of the foregoing, he decided to effect an arrest. PO3 Calag's testimony on direct
examination is revelatory:LawlibraryofCRAlaw A: They were surprised.
ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary Q: When yon say "nabigla" what was their reaction that made you say that they
Pros. Silao: were surprised?
Q: Now on July 30, 2003 around 10:00 o'clock in the evening, kindly tell the court A: They were stunned.
where were you? Q: After they were stunned, what did you do next, police officer?
A: We were then conducting our patrol on a motorbike ma'am. A: I arrested them, ma'am. I invited them.
xxxx Q: What did you say to them? How did you invite them? In short, napakasimple lang ng
Q: And who were with you while you were patrolling? tanong ko sa yo eh. Did you say anything?
A: Eduardo Radan, Ma'am. Court:
Q: And who is this Eduardo Radan? Mr. Witness, stop making unnecessary movements, just listen.
A: He is an agent of the Narcotics Group, ma'am. Pros. Silao:
Q: While you were along Private Road, Hulo, Mandaluyong City, what unusual incident Are you fit to testify? May sakit ka ba o wala?
that happened if any? Witness:
A: We spotted somebody who was then as if handing a plastic sachet to someone. Wala po.
xxxx Pros. Silao:
Q: Now how far were you when you saw this incident from these two male Eh, bakit di ka makapagsalita?
persons you already identified? Court:
A: About ten (10) meters away ma'am. You keep touching your eyes. Just relax. Answer the question, ano sinabi mo sa
Q: What were their positions in relation to you when you saw them in that particular kanila?
act? Pros. Silao:
A: They were quite facing me then. Are you fit to testify? Wala ka bang sakit?
Q: What was the speed of your motorcycle when you were traversing this Private Witness:
Road, Hulo, Mandaluyong City? Wala po.
A: About thirty (30) kilometers per hour, ma'am. xxxx
Q: And who was driving the motorcycle? Q: From what portion of his body, I am referring to Alvin Comerciante did you recover
A: Eduardo Radan, ma'am. the plastic sachet?
Q: When you spotted them as if handing something to each other, what did you do? A: From his hand ma'am.
A: We stopped ma'am. Q: Left or right hand?
Q: And how far were you from them when you stopped, more or less? Pros. Silao:
A: We passed by them for a short distance before we stopped ma'am. You cannot recall? Hindi mo matandaan. Sabihin mo kung hindi mo
Q: And after you passed by them and you said you stopped, what was the reaction of matandaan, no problem. Kaliwa, kanan or you cannot recall?30 (Emphases and
these two male persons? underscoring supplied)
A: They were surprised, ma'am. On the basis of such testimony, the Court finds it highly implausible that PO3 Calag, even
xxxx assuming that he has perfect vision, would be able to identify with reasonable accuracy
Q: And what was their reaction when you said you introduced yourself as police especially from a distance of around 10 meters, and while aboard a motorcycle cruising
officer? at a speed of 30 kilometers per hour miniscule amounts of white crystalline substance
inside two (2) very small plastic sachets held by Comerciante. The Court also notes that criminals and criminal behavior. Hence, they should have the ability to discern - based
no other overt act could be properly attributed to Comerciante as to rouse suspicion in on facts that they themselves observe - whether an individual is acting in a suspicious
the mind of PO3 Calag that the former had just committed, was committing, or was manner. Clearly, a basic criterion would be that the police officer, with his or her
about to commit a crime. Verily, the acts of standing around with a companion and personal knowledge, must observe the facts leading to the suspicion of an illicit
handing over something to the latter cannot in any way be considered criminal acts. In act.
fact, even if Comerciante and his companion were showing "improper and unpleasant
movements" as put by PO3 Calag, the same would not have been sufficient in order to xxxx
effect a lawful warrantless arrest under Section 5 (a), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on
Criminal Procedure.31 That his reasonable suspicion bolstered by (a) the fact that he had Normally, "stop and frisk" searches do not give the law enforcer an opportunity to
seen his fellow officers arrest persons in possession of shabu; and (b) his trainings and confer with a judge to determine probable cause. In Posadas v. Court of Appeals, one of
seminars on illegal drugs when he was still assigned in the province are insufficient to the earliest cases adopting the "stop and frisk" doctrine in Philippine jurisprudence, this
create a conclusion that what he purportedly saw in Comerciante was court approximated the suspicious circumstances as probable
indeed shabu.32redarclaw cause:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
Neither has the prosecution established that the rigorous conditions set forth in Section The probable cause is that when the petitioner acted suspiciously and attempted to flee
5 (b), Rule 113, have been complied with, i.e., that an offense had in fact just been with the buri bag there was a probable cause that he was concealing something illegal in
committed and the arresting officer had personal knowledge of facts indicating that the the bag and it was the right and duty of the police officers to inspect the same.
accused had committed it. As already discussed, the factual backdrop of the instant case For warrantless searches, probable cause was defined as a reasonable ground of
failed to show that PO3 Calag had personal knowledge that a crime had been suspicion supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant a
indisputably committed by Comerciante. Verily, it is not enough that the arresting cautious man to believe that the person accused is guilty of the offense with which he is
officer had reasonable ground to believe that the accused had just committed a crime; a charged.
crime must, in fact, have been committed first, which does not obtain in this
case.33redarclaw Malacat v. Court of Appeals clarifies the requirement further. It does not have to be
probable cause, but it cannot be mere suspicion. It has to be a genuine reason to
In this relation, the Court finds respondent's assertion that there was a valid "stop and serve the purposes of the "stop and frisk" exception:
frisk" search made on Comerciante untenable. In People v. Cogaed,34 the Court had an ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
opportunity to exhaustively explain "stop and frisk" searches:LawlibraryofCRAlaw Other notable points of Terry are that while probable cause is not required to
ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary conduct a "stop and frisk," it nevertheless holds that mere suspicion or a hunch
"Stop and frisk" searches (sometimes referred to as Terry searches) are necessary for will not validate a "stop and frisk." A genuine reason must exist, in light of the
law enforcement. That is, law enforcers should be given the legal arsenal to prevent the police officer's experience and surrounding conditions, to warrant the belief that
commission of offenses. However, this should be balanced with the need to protect the the person detained has weapons concealed about him.
privacy of citizens in accordance with Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution. In his dissent for Esquillo v. People, Justice Bersamin reminds us that police officers
must not rely on a single suspicious circumstance. There should be "presence of
The balance lies in the concept of "suspiciousness" present where the police more than one seemingly innocent activity, which, taken together, warranted a
officer finds himself or herself in. This may be undoubtedly based on the experience reasonable inference of criminal activity." The Constitution prohibits "unreasonable
of the police officer. Experienced police officers have personal experience dealing with
searches and seizures." Certainly, reliance on only one suspicious circumstance or none RODEL LUZ y ONG, G. R. No. 197788
at all will not result in a reasonable search.35 (Emphases and underscoring supplied) Petitioner,
In this case, the Court reiterates that Comerciante's acts of standing around with a
companion and handing over something to the latter do not constitute criminal acts. Present:
These circumstances are not enough to create a reasonable inference of criminal activity
which would constitute a "genuine reason" for PO3 Calag to conduct a "stop and frisk" CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
search on the former. In this light, the "stop and frisk" search made on Comerciante - versus - BRION,
should be deemed unlawful. PEREZ,
In sum, there was neither a valid warrantless arrest nor a valid "stop and frisk" search REYES, JJ.
made on Comerciante. As such, the shabu purportedly seized from him is rendered
inadmissible in evidence for being the proverbial fruit of the poisonous tree. Since the
confiscated shabu is the very corpus delicti of the crime charged, Comerciante must PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,[1] Promulgated:
necessarily be acquitted and exonerated from all criminal liability. Respondent.
February 29, 2012
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Accordingly, the Decision dated October 20,
2011 and the Resolution dated February 19, 2013 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR x--------------------------------------------------x
No. 32813 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, petitioner Alvin
Comerciante y Gonzales is hereby ACQUITTED of the crime of violating Section 11,
Article II of Republic Act No. 9165. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is ordered DECISION
to cause his immediate release, unless he is being lawfully held for any other reason.
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 seeking to set aside the
Court of Appeals (CA) Decision in CA-G.R. CR No. 32516 dated 18 February 2011[2]and
Resolution dated 8 July 2011.

Statement of the Facts and of the Case

The facts, as found by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), which sustained the
version of the prosecution, are as follows:
PO2 Emmanuel L. Alteza, who was then assigned at the Sub- In its 19 February 2009 Decision,[4] the RTC convicted petitioner of illegal
Station 1 of the Naga City Police Station as a traffic enforcer,
possession of dangerous drugs[5] committed on 10 March 2003. It found the prosecution
substantially testified that on March 10, 2003 at around 3:00 oclock in
the morning, he saw the accused, who was coming from the direction of evidence sufficient to show that he had been lawfully arrested for a traffic violation and
Panganiban Drive and going to Diversion Road, Naga City, driving a then subjected to a valid search, which led to the discovery on his person of two plastic
motorcycle without a helmet; that this prompted him to flag down the sachets later found to contain shabu. The RTC also found his defense of frame-up and
accused for violating a municipal ordinance which requires all
motorcycle drivers to wear helmet (sic) while driving said motor extortion to be weak, self-serving and unsubstantiated. The dispositive portion of its
vehicle; that he invited the accused to come inside their sub-station since Decision held:
the place where he flagged down the accused is almost in front of the
said sub-station; that while he and SPO1 Rayford Brillante were issuing a WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered, finding accused
citation ticket for violation of municipal ordinance, he noticed that the RODEL LUZ y ONG GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of
accused was uneasy and kept on getting something from his jacket; that violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 and sentencing
he was alerted and so, he told the accused to take out the contents of the him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment ranging from
pocket of his jacket as the latter may have a weapon inside it; that the twelve (12) years and (1) day, as minimum, to thirteen (13) years, as
accused obliged and slowly put out the contents of the pocket of his maximum, and to pay a fine of Three Hundred Thousand Pesos
jacket which was a nickel-like tin or metal container about two (2) to (300,000.00).
three (3) inches in size, including two (2) cellphones, one (1) pair of
scissors and one (1) Swiss knife; that upon seeing the said container, he The subject shabu is hereby confiscated for turn over to the
asked the accused to open it; that after the accused opened the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for its proper disposition and
container, he noticed a cartoon cover and something beneath it; and that destruction in accordance with law.
upon his instruction, the accused spilled out the contents of the
container on the table which turned out to be four (4) plastic sachets, the SO ORDERED.[6]
two (2) of which were empty while the other two (2) contained
suspected shabu.[3]
Upon review, the CA affirmed the RTCs Decision.

Arraigned on 2 July 2003, petitioner, assisted by counsel, entered a plea of Not

guilty to the charge of illegal possession of dangerous drugs. Pretrial was terminated on On 12 September 2011, petitioner filed under Rule 45 the instant Petition for
24 September 2003, after which, trial ensued. Review on Certiorari dated 1 September 2011. In a Resolution dated 12 October 2011,
this Court required respondent to file a comment on the Petition. On 4 January 2012, the
latter filed its Comment dated 3 January 2012.
During trial, Police Officer 3 (PO3) Emmanuel Alteza and a forensic chemist
testified for the prosecution. On the other hand, petitioner testified for himself and
raised the defense of planting of evidence and extortion. Petitioner raised the following grounds in support of his Petition:
(i) THE SEARCH AND SEIZURE OF THE ALLEGED SUBJECT being caught in flagrante delicto violating the said Ordinance, he could
SHABU IS INVALID. therefore be lawfully stopped or arrested by the apprehending officers. x
x x.[8]
We find the Petition to be impressed with merit, but not for the particular reasons
(iii) THE INTEGRITY AND EVIDENTIARY VALUE OF THE alleged. In criminal cases, an appeal throws the entire case wide open for review and the
ALLEGED SUBJECT SPECIMEN HAS BEEN COMPROMISED. reviewing tribunal can correct errors, though unassigned in the appealed judgment, or
even reverse the trial courts decision based on grounds other than those that the parties
PROVEN BEYOND THE REASONABLE DOUBT (sic).[7] raised as errors.[9]

First, there was no valid arrest of petitioner. When he was flagged down for
Petitioner claims that there was no lawful search and seizure, because there was no committing a traffic violation, he was not, ipso facto and solely for this reason, arrested.
lawful arrest. He claims that the finding that there was a lawful arrest was erroneous,
since he was not even issued a citation ticket or charged with violation of the city Arrest is the taking of a person into custody in order that he or she may be
ordinance. Even assuming there was a valid arrest, he claims that he had never bound to answer for the commission of an offense.[10] It is effected by an actual restraint
consented to the search conducted upon him. of the person to be arrested or by that persons voluntary submission to the custody of
the one making the arrest. Neither the application of actual force, manual touching of
On the other hand, finding that petitioner had been lawfully arrested, the RTC held thus: the body, or physical restraint, nor a formal declaration of arrest, is required. It is
enough that there be an intention on the part of one of the parties to arrest the other,
It is beyond dispute that the accused was flagged down and and that there be an intent on the part of the other to submit, under the belief and
apprehended in this case by Police Officers Alteza and Brillante for impression that submission is necessary.[11]
violation of City Ordinance No. 98-012, an ordinance requiring the use of
crash helmet by motorcycle drivers and riders thereon in the City of
Naga and prescribing penalties for violation thereof. The accused himself Under R.A. 4136, or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, the general
admitted that he was not wearing a helmet at the time when he was procedure for dealing with a traffic violation is not the arrest of the offender, but the
flagged down by the said police officers, albeit he had a helmet in his
confiscation of the drivers license of the latter:
possession. Obviously, there is legal basis on the part of the
apprehending officers to flag down and arrest the accused because the
latter was actually committing a crime in their presence, that is, a SECTION 29. Confiscation of Driver's License. Law enforcement
violation of City Ordinance No. 98-012. In other words, the accused, and peace officers of other agencies duly deputized by the Director shall,
in apprehending a driver for any violation of this Act or any regulations for the sake of convenience that they were waiting there. There was no intention to take
issued pursuant thereto, or of local traffic rules and regulations not
petitioner into custody.
contrary to any provisions of this Act, confiscate the license of the driver
concerned and issue a receipt prescribed and issued by the
Bureau therefor which shall authorize the driver to operate a motor In Berkemer v. McCarty,[13] the United States (U.S.) Supreme Court discussed at
vehicle for a period not exceeding seventy-two hours from the time and
length whether the roadside questioning of a motorist detained pursuant to a routine
date of issue of said receipt. The period so fixed in the receipt shall not
be extended, and shall become invalid thereafter. Failure of the driver to traffic stop should be considered custodial interrogation. The Court held that, such
settle his case within fifteen days from the date of apprehension will be a questioning does not fall under custodial interrogation, nor can it be considered a
ground for the suspension and/or revocation of his license. formal arrest, by virtue of the nature of the questioning, the expectations of the motorist
and the officer, and the length of time the procedure is conducted. It ruled as follows:

Similarly, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Operations Manual[12] provides the It must be acknowledged at the outset that a traffic stop
following procedure for flagging down vehicles during the conduct of checkpoints: significantly curtails the freedom of action of the driver and the
passengers, if any, of the detained vehicle. Under the law of most States,
SECTION 7. Procedure in Flagging Down or Accosting Vehicles it is a crime either to ignore a policemans signal to stop ones car or, once
While in Mobile Car. This rule is a general concept and will not apply in having stopped, to drive away without permission. x x x
hot pursuit operations. The mobile car crew shall undertake the
following, when applicable: x x x However, we decline to accord talismanic power to the phrase in
the Miranda opinion emphasized by respondent. Fidelity to the doctrine
m. If it concerns traffic violations, immediately issue a Traffic Citation announced in Miranda requires that it be enforced strictly, but only in
Ticket (TCT) or Traffic Violation Report (TVR). Never indulge in those types of situations in which the concerns that powered the
prolonged, unnecessary conversation or argument with the decision are implicated. Thus, we must decide whether a traffic stop
driver or any of the vehicles occupants; exerts upon a detained person pressures that sufficiently impair his free
exercise of his privilege against self-incrimination to require that he be
warned of his constitutional rights.
At the time that he was waiting for PO3 Alteza to write his citation ticket,
Two features of an ordinary traffic stop mitigate the danger that
petitioner could not be said to have been under arrest. There was no intention on the a person questioned will be induced to speak where he would not
part of PO3 Alteza to arrest him, deprive him of his liberty, or take him into custody. otherwise do so freely, Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S., at 467. First,
Prior to the issuance of the ticket, the period during which petitioner was at the police detention of a motorist pursuant to a traffic stop is presumptively
temporary and brief. The vast majority of roadside detentions last only
station may be characterized merely as waiting time. In fact, as found by the trial court,
a few minutes. A motorists expectations, when he sees a policemans light
PO3 Alteza himself testified that the only reason they went to the police sub-station was flashing behind him, are that he will be obliged to spend a short period
that petitioner had been flagged down almost in front of that place. Hence, it was only of time answering questions and waiting while the officer checks his
license and registration, that he may then be given a citation, but that in
the end he most likely will be allowed to continue on his way. In this
respect, questioning incident to an ordinary traffic stop is quite different The U.S. Court in Berkemer thus ruled that, since the motorist therein was only
from stationhouse interrogation, which frequently is prolonged, and in subjected to modest questions while still at the scene of the traffic stop, he was not at
which the detainee often is aware that questioning will continue until he
provides his interrogators the answers they seek. See id., at 451. that moment placed under custody (such that he should have been apprised of
his Miranda rights), and neither can treatment of this sort be fairly characterized as the
Second, circumstances associated with the typical traffic stop functional equivalent of a formal arrest. Similarly, neither can petitioner here be
are not such that the motorist feels completely at the mercy of the
considered under arrest at the time that his traffic citation was being made.
police. To be sure, the aura of authority surrounding an armed,
uniformed officer and the knowledge that the officer has some discretion
in deciding whether to issue a citation, in combination, exert some It also appears that, according to City Ordinance No. 98-012, which was violated by
pressure on the detainee to respond to questions. But other aspects of
petitioner, the failure to wear a crash helmet while riding a motorcycle is penalized by a
the situation substantially offset these forces. Perhaps most importantly,
the typical traffic stop is public, at least to some degree. x x x fine only. Under the Rules of Court, a warrant of arrest need not be issued if the
information or charge was filed for an offense penalized by a fine only. It may be stated
In both of these respects, the usual traffic stop is more as a corollary that neither can a warrantless arrest be made for such an offense.
analogous to a so-called Terry stop, see Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1
(1968), than to a formal arrest. x x x The comparatively
nonthreatening character of detentions of this sort explains the absence This ruling does not imply that there can be no arrest for a traffic violation. Certainly,
of any suggestion in our opinions that Terry stops are subject to the when there is an intent on the part of the police officer to deprive the motorist of liberty,
dictates of Miranda. The similarly noncoercive aspect of ordinary traffic
stops prompts us to hold that persons temporarily detained pursuant to or to take the latter into custody, the former may be deemed to have arrested the
such stops are not in custody for the purposes of Miranda. motorist. In this case, however, the officers issuance (or intent to issue) a traffic citation
ticket negates the possibility of an arrest for the same violation.

We are confident that the state of affairs projected by respondent Even if one were to work under the assumption that petitioner was deemed
will not come to pass. It is settled that the safeguards prescribed by arrested upon being flagged down for a traffic violation and while awaiting the
Miranda become applicable as soon as a suspects freedom of action is
issuance of his ticket, then the requirements for a valid arrest were not complied
curtailed to a degree associated with formal arrest. California v. Beheler,
463 U. S. 1121, 1125 (1983) (per curiam). If a motorist who has been with.
detained pursuant to a traffic stop thereafter is subjected to treatment
that renders him in custody for practical purposes, he will be entitled to
This Court has held that at the time a person is arrested, it shall be the duty of
the full panoply of protections prescribed by Miranda. See Oregon v.
Mathiason, 429 U. S. 492, 495 (1977) (per curiam). (Emphasis supplied.) the arresting officer to inform the latter of the reason for the arrest and must show that
person the warrant of arrest, if any. Persons shall be informed of their constitutional moving vehicle; (iv) consented warrantless search; (v) customs search; (vi) a stop and
rights to remain silent and to counsel, and that any statement they might make could be frisk search; and (vii) exigent and emergency circumstances.[15] None of the above-
used against them.[14] It may also be noted that in this case, these constitutional mentioned instances, especially a search incident to a lawful arrest, are applicable to
requirements were complied with by the police officers only after petitioner had been this case.
arrested for illegal possession of dangerous drugs.
It must be noted that the evidence seized, although alleged to be inadvertently
In Berkemer, the U.S. Court also noted that the Miranda warnings must also be discovered, was not in plain view. It was actually concealed inside a metal container
given to a person apprehended due to a traffic violation: inside petitioners pocket. Clearly, the evidence was not immediately apparent.[16]

The purposes of the safeguards prescribed by Miranda are to Neither was there a consented warrantless search. Consent to a search is not to be
ensure that the police do not coerce or trick captive suspects into
confessing, to relieve the inherently compelling pressures generated by lightly inferred, but shown by clear and convincing evidence.[17] It must be voluntary in
the custodial setting itself, which work to undermine the individuals will order to validate an otherwise illegal search; that is, the consent must be unequivocal,
to resist, and as much as possible to free courts from the task of specific, intelligently given and uncontaminated by any duress or coercion. While the
scrutinizing individual cases to try to determine, after the fact, whether prosecution claims that petitioner acceded to the instruction of PO3 Alteza, this alleged
particular confessions were voluntary. Those purposes are implicated as
much by in-custody questioning of persons suspected of misdemeanors accession does not suffice to prove valid and intelligent consent. In fact, the RTC found
as they are by questioning of persons suspected of felonies. that petitioner was merely told to take out the contents of his pocket.[18]

Whether consent to the search was in fact voluntary is a question of fact to be

If it were true that petitioner was already deemed arrested when he was flagged down determined from the totality of all the circumstances. Relevant to this determination are
for a traffic violation and while he waiting for his ticket, then there would have been no the following characteristics of the person giving consent and the environment in which
need for him to be arrested for a second timeafter the police officers allegedly consent is given: (1) the age of the defendant; (2) whether the defendant was in a public
discovered the drugsas he was already in their custody. or a secluded location; (3) whether the defendant objected to the search or passively
looked on; (4) the education and intelligence of the defendant; (5) the presence of
Second, there being no valid arrest, the warrantless search that resulted from it coercive police procedures; (6) the defendants belief that no incriminating evidence
was likewise illegal. would be found; (7) the nature of the police questioning; (8) the environment in which
the questioning took place; and (9) the possibly vulnerable subjective state of the
The following are the instances when a warrantless search is allowed: (i) a warrantless person consenting. It is the State that has the burden of proving, by clear and positive
search incidental to a lawful arrest; (ii) search of evidence in plain view; (iii) search of a testimony, that the necessary consent was obtained, and was freely and voluntarily
given.[19] In this case, all that was alleged was that petitioner was alone at the police uncertainty, and not from the grounds for arrest. Id., at 234, n. 5. A
routine traffic stop, on the other hand, is a relatively brief
station at three in the morning, accompanied by several police officers. These
encounter and is more analogous to a so-called Terry stop . . . than
circumstances weigh heavily against a finding of valid consent to a warrantless search. to a formal arrest. Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U. S. 420, 439 (1984). See
also Cupp v. Murphy, 412 U. S. 291, 296 (1973) (Where there is no
formal arrest . . . a person might well be less hostile to the police and less
Neither does the search qualify under the stop and frisk rule. While the rule normally
likely to take conspicuous, immediate steps to destroy incriminating
applies when a police officer observes suspicious or unusual conduct, which may lead evidence).
him to believe that a criminal act may be afoot, the stop and frisk is merely a limited
protective search of outer clothing for weapons.[20] This is not to say that the concern for officer safety is absent
in the case of a routine traffic stop. It plainly is not. See Mimms, supra,
at 110; Wilson, supra, at 413-414. But while the concern for officer
In Knowles v. Iowa,[21] the U.S. Supreme Court held that when a police officer stops a safety in this context may justify the minimal additional intrusion
person for speeding and correspondingly issues a citation instead of arresting the latter, of ordering a driver and passengers out of the car, it does not by
this procedure does not authorize the officer to conduct a full search of the car. The itself justify the often considerably greater intrusion attending a
full fieldtype search. Even without the search authority Iowa urges,
Court therein held that there was no justification for a full-blown search when the
officers have other, independent bases to search for weapons and
officer does not arrest the motorist. Instead, police officers may only conduct minimal protect themselves from danger. For example, they may order out of a
intrusions, such as ordering the motorist to alight from the car or doing a patdown: vehicle both the driver, Mimms, supra, at 111, and any passengers,
Wilson, supra, at 414; perform a patdown of a driver and any passengers
In Robinson, supra, we noted the two historical rationales for the upon reasonable suspicion that they may be armed and dangerous,
Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1 (1968); conduct a Terry patdown of the
search incident to arrest exception: (1) the need to disarm the suspect in
order to take him into custody, and (2) the need to preserve evidence for passenger compartment of a vehicle upon reasonable suspicion that an
later use at trial. x x x But neither of these underlying rationales for the occupant is dangerous and may gain immediate control of a weapon,
search incident to arrest exception is sufficient to justify the search in Michigan v. Long, 463 U. S. 1032, 1049 (1983); and even conduct a full
the present case. search of the passenger compartment, including any containers therein,
pursuant to a custodial arrest, New York v. Belton, 453 U. S. 454, 460
We have recognized that the first rationaleofficer safetyis both
legitimate and weighty, x x x The threat to officer safety from issuing a
traffic citation, however, is a good deal less than in the case of a custodial Nor has Iowa shown the second justification for the authority to search
arrest. In Robinson, we stated that a custodial arrest involves danger to incident to arrestthe need to discover and preserve evidence. Once
an officer because of the extended exposure which follows the taking of a Knowles was stopped for speeding and issued a citation, all the evidence
suspect into custody and transporting him to the police station. 414 U. S., necessary to prosecute that offense had been obtained. No further
evidence of excessive speed was going to be found either on the person
at 234-235. We recognized that [t]he danger to the police officer flows
from the fact of the arrest, and its attendant proximity, stress, and
of the offender or in the passenger compartment of the car. (Emphasis
G.R. No. 180661 December 11, 2013
The foregoing considered, petitioner must be acquitted. While he may have failed to
object to the illegality of his arrest at the earliest opportunity, a waiver of an illegal vs.
warrantless arrest does not, however, mean a waiver of the inadmissibility of evidence PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
seized during the illegal warrantless arrest.[22]

The Constitution guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their persons, ABAD, J.:
houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.[23] Any evidence
obtained in violation of said right shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any This case is about a supposed warrantless arrest and a subsequent search prompted by
the police officers' chance sighting through an ajar door of the accused engaged in pot
proceeding. While the power to search and seize may at times be necessary to the public
welfare, still it must be exercised and the law implemented without contravening the
constitutional rights of citizens, for the enforcement of no statute is of sufficient The Facts and the Case
importance to justify indifference to the basic principles of government.[24]
On January 13, 2004 the second Assistant City Prosecutor of Pasay City charged the
accused George Codes Antiquera* and Corazon Olivenza Cruz with illegal possession of
The subject items seized during the illegal arrest are inadmissible.[25] The drugs paraphernalia for dangerous drugs 1 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasay City
are the very corpus delicti of the crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs. Thus, in Criminal Case 04-0100-CFM. 2 Since the accused Cruz jumped bail, the court tried
their inadmissibility precludes conviction and calls for the acquittal of the accused.[26] her in absentia. 3

The prosecution evidence shows that at around 4:45 a.m. of February 11, 2004, PO1
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The 18 February 2011 Decision of the Gregorio Recio, PO1 Laurence Cabutihan, P/Insp. Eric Ibon, PO1 Rodelio Rania, and two
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 32516 affirming the judgment of conviction dated 19 civilian operatives on board a patrol car and a tricycle were conducting a police
visibility patrol on David Street, Pasay City, when they saw two unidentified men rush
February 2009 of the Regional Trial Court, 5th Judicial Region, Naga City, Branch 21, in
out of house number 107-C and immediately boarded a jeep.
Criminal Case No. RTC 2003-0087, is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner
Rodel Luz y Ong is hereby ACQUITTED and ordered immediately released from Suspecting that a crime had been committed, the police officers approached the house
detention, unless his continued confinement is warranted by some other cause or from where the men came and peeked through the partially opened door. PO1 Recio
and PO1 Cabutihan saw accused Antiquera holding an improvised tooter and a pink
lighter. Beside him was his live-in partner, Cruz, who was holding an aluminum foil and
an improvised burner. They sat facing each other at the living room. This prompted the Antiquera and Cruz in a pot session at their living room and in possession of drug
police officers to enter the house, introduce themselves, and arrest Antiquera and Cruz.4 paraphernalia. The police officers were thus justified in arresting the two without a
warrant pursuant to Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure.9
While inspecting the immediate surroundings, PO1 Cabutihan saw a wooden jewelry
box atop a table. It contained an improvised burner, wok, scissors, 10 small transparent On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) rendered a Decision10 on September 21, 2007
plastic sachets with traces of white crystalline substance, improvised scoop, and seven affirming in full the decision of the trial court. The accused moved for reconsideration
unused strips of aluminum foil. The police officers confiscated all these and brought but the CA denied it.11 The accused is now before this Court seeking acquittal.
Antiquera and Cruz to the Drug Enforcement Unit of the Philippine National Police in
Pasay City for further investigation and testing.5 The Issue Presented

A forensic chemical officer examined the confiscated drug paraphernalia and found The issue in this case is whether or not the CA erred in finding accused Antiquera guilty
them positive for traces of methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu."6 beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession of drug paraphernalia based on the
evidence of the police officers that they saw him and Cruz in the act of possessing drug
Accused Antiquera gave a different story. He said that on the date and time in question, paraphernalia.
he and Cruz were asleep in their house when he was roused by knocking on the door.
When he went to open it, three armed police officers forced themselves into the house. Ruling of the Court
One of them shoved him and said, "Dyan ka lang, pusher ka." He was handcuffed and
someone instructed two of the officers to go to his room. The police later brought The prosecutions theory, upheld by both the RTC and the CA, is that it was a case of
accused Antiquera and Cruz to the police station and there informed them of the valid warrantless arrest in that the police officers saw accused Antiquera and Cruz
charges against them. They were shown a box that the police said had been recovered through the door of their house, in the act of having a pot session. That valid warrantless
from his house.7 arrest gave the officers the right as well to search the living room for objects relating to
the crime and thus seize the paraphernalia they found there.
On July 30, 2004 the RTC rendered a Decision8 that found accused Antiquera and Cruz
guilty of the crime charged and sentenced them to a prison term ranging from six The prosecution contends that, since the seized paraphernalia tested positive for shabu,
months and one day to two years and four months, and to pay a fine of 10,000.00 each they were no doubt used for smoking, consuming, administering, injecting, ingesting, or
and the costs of the suit. introducing dangerous drug into the body in violation of Section 12 of Republic Act
9165. That the accused tested negative for shabu, said the prosecution, had no bearing
The RTC said that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that the police on the crime charged which was for illegal possession of drug paraphernalia, not for
caught accused Antiquera and Cruz in the act of using shabu and having drug illegal use of dangerous drugs. The prosecution added that even assuming that the
paraphernalia in their possession. Since no ill motive could be attributed to PO1 Recio arrest of the accused was irregular, he is already considered to have waived his right to
and PO1 Cabutihan, the court accorded full faith and credit to their testimony and question the validity of his arrest when he voluntarily submitted himself to the courts
rejected the self-serving claim of Antiquera. jurisdiction by entering a plea of not guilty.12

The trial court gave no weight to accused Antiqueras claim of illegal arrest, given PO1 Section 5(a), Rule 113 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that a "peace officer
Recio and PO1 Cabutihans credible testimony that, prior to their arrest, they saw or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person when, in his presence, the
person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit Q Were you allowed to just go towards the door of the house, push its door and
an offense." This is an arrest in flagrante delicto.13 The overt act constituting the crime is peeped inside it, as a police officer?
done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.14
A Kasi po naghinala po kami baka may
But the circumstances here do not make out a case of arrest made in flagrante delicto.
Q Are you not allowed to Are you not required to get a search warrant before you
1. The police officers claim that they were alerted when they saw two unidentified men can search the interior of the house?
suddenly rush out of 107 David Street, Pasay City. Since they suspected that a crime had
been committed, the natural thing for them to do was to give chase to the jeep that the A Yes, Your Honor.
two fleeing men boarded, given that the officers were in a patrol car and a tricycle.
Running after the fleeing suspects was the more urgent task but the officers instead Q What do you mean by yes? Would you first obtain a search warrant before searching
gave priority to the house even when they heard no cry for help from it. the interior of the house?

2. Admittedly, the police officers did not notice anything amiss going on in the house A Yes, Your Honor.
from the street where they stood. Indeed, even as they peeked through its partially
opened door, they saw no activity that warranted their entering it. Thus, PO1 Cabutihan Q So why did you not a [sic] secure a search warrant first before you tried to
testified: investigate the house, considering your admission that you suspected that there was
something wrong inside the house?
A Because we saw them that they were engaged in pot session, Your Honor.
Q By the way, Mr. Cabutihan, when you followed your companion towards the open
door, how was the door open? Was it totally open, or was it partially open? Q But before you saw them, you just had to push the door wide open to peep
through its opening because you did not know what was happening inside?
A It was partially open Your Honor.
A Yes, Your Honor.15 (Emphasis supplied)
Q By how much, 1/3, 1/2? Only by less than one (1) foot?
Clearly, no crime was plainly exposed to the view of the arresting officers that
A More or less 4 to 6 inches, Your Honor. authorized the arrest of accused Antiquera without warrant under the above-mentioned
rule. Considering that his arrest was illegal, the search and seizure that resulted from it
Q So how were you able to know, to see the interior of the house if the door was was likewise illegal.16 Consequently, the various drug paraphernalia that the police
only open by 6 inches? Or did you have to push the door? officers allegedly found in the house and seized are inadmissible, having proceeded
from an invalid search and seizure. Since the confiscated drug paraphernalia is the
A We pushed the door, Your Honor. very corpus delicti of the crime charged, the Court has no choice but to acquit the
One final note. The failure of the accused to object to the irregularity of his arrest by Criminal Case No. 98-164174 stemmed from a charge of violation of Section 15 Article
itself is not enough to sustain his conviction. A waiver of an illegal warrantless arrest III of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended,3 which was allegedly committed as follows:
does not carry with it a waiver of the inadmissibility of evidence seized during the
illegal warrantless arrest.18 That on or about April 3, 1998 in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused not
having been authorized by law to sell, dispense, deliver, transport or distribute any
WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the Decision dated September 21, regulated drug, did then and there [willfully], unlawfully and knowingly sell or offer for
2007 and Resolution dated November 16, 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR sale, dispense, deliver, transport or distribute 45.46 grams, 44.27 grams, 45.34 grams,
28937 and ACQUITS the accused George Antiquera y Codes of the crime of which he is 51.45 grams, 41.32 grams and 20.14 grams or with a total weight of TWO HUNDRED
charged for lack of evidence sufficient to establish his guilt beyond reasonable FORTY-SEVEN POINT NINETY-EIGHT (247.98) grams contained in six (6) transparent
doubt.1wphi1 The Court further ORDERS the cancellation and release of the bail bond plastic sachets of white crystalline substance known as "Shabu" containing
he posted for his provisional liberty. methamphetamine hydrochloride, which is a regulated drug.4

SO ORDERED. Criminal Case No. 98-164175, on the other hand, arose from an alleged violation of
Section 16, Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended,5 which was said to be
committed in this manner:

G.R. No. 200304 January 15, 2014 That on or about April 3, 1998 in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused
without being authorized by law to possess or use any regulated drug, did then and
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, there [willfully], unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession and under his custody
vs. and control 1.61 grams, 0.58 grams, 0.29 grams, 0.09 [grams], 0.10 grams, 0.17 grams,
DONALD VASQUEZ y SANDIGAN @ "DON," Accused-Appellant, 0.21 grams, 0.24 grams, 0.12 grams, 0.06 grams, 0.04 grams, [0].51 grams or all with a
total weight of four point zero three grams of white crystalline substance contained in
DECISION twelve (12) transparent plastic sachets known as "SHABU" containing
methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug, without the corresponding license
or prescription thereof.6
Initially, Criminal Case No. 98-164175 was raffled to the RTC of Manila, Branch 23. Upon
The case before this Court is an appeal from the Decision1 dated May 31, 2011 of the
motion7 of the appellant, however, said case was allowed to be consolidated with
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 04201. Said decision affirmed with modification
Criminal Case No. 98-164174 in the RTC of Manila, Branch 41.8 On arraignment, the
the Joint Decision2 dated August 6 2009 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila,
appellant pleaded not guilty to both charges.9 The pre-trial conference of the cases was
Branch 41, in Criminal Case Nos. 98-164174 and 98-164175, which convicted the
held on July 27, 1998, but the same was terminated without the parties entering into
appellant Donald Vasquez y Sandigan of the crimes of illegal sale and illegal possession
any stipulation of facts.10
of regulated drugs under Sections 15 and 16 Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, as
amended, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972.
During the trial of the cases, the prosecution presented the testimonies of the following
witnesses: (1) Police Inspector (P/Insp.) Jean Fajardo,11 (2) P/Insp. Marilyn
Dequito,12 and (3) Police Officer (PO) 2 Christian Trambulo.13Thereafter, the defense brought five genuine 500.00 bills, which were inserted on top of five bundles of play
presented in court the testimonies of: (1) the appellant Donald Vasquez y money to make it appear that she had 250,000.00 with her. After she showed the
Sandigan,14 (2) Angelina Arejado,15 and (3) Anatolia Caredo.16 money to alias Don, he suggested that they go to a more secure place. They agreed for
the sale to take place at around 1:30 to 2:00 a.m. on April 3, 1998 in front of alias Dons
The Prosecutions Case apartment at 765 Valdez St., Sampaloc, Manila. The team proceeded to the Western
Police District (WPD) Station along U.N. Avenue for coordination. Afterwards, the team
The prosecutions version of the events was primarily drawn from the testimonies of held their final briefing before they proceeded to the target area. They agreed that the
P/Insp. Fajardo and PO2 Trambulo. pre-arranged signal was for P/Insp. Fajardo to scratch her hair, which would signify that
the deal had been consummated and the rest of the team would rush up to the scene.
P/Insp. Fajardo testified that in the morning of April 1, 1998, a confidential informant The team then travelled to the address given by alias Don.19
went to their office and reported that a certain Donald Vasquez was engaged in illegal
drug activity. This alias Don supposedly claimed that he was an employee of the When the team arrived at the target area around 1:15 a.m. on April 3, 1998, the two
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). According to the informant, alias Don promised vehicles they used were parked along the corner of the street. P/Insp. Fajardo and the
him a good commission if he (the informant) would present a potential buyer of drugs. informant walked towards the apartment of alias Don and stood in front of the
P/Insp. Fajardo relayed the information to Police Superintendent (P/Supt.) Pepito apartment gate. Around 1:45 a.m., alias Don came out of the apartment with a male
Domantay, the commanding officer of their office. P/Insp. Fajardo was then instructed companion. Alias Don demanded to see the money, but P/Insp. Fajardo told him that she
to form a team and conduct a possible buy-bust against alias Don. She formed a team on wanted to see the drugs first. Alias Don gave her the big brown envelope he was
the same day, which consisted of herself, PO2 Trambulo, PO1 Agravante, PO1 Pedrosa, carrying and she checked the contents thereof. Inside she found a plastic sachet, about
PO1 Sisteno, and PO1 De la Rosa. P/Insp. Fajardo was the team leader. With the help of 10x8 inches in size, which contained white crystalline substance. After checking the
the informant, she was able to set up a meeting with alias Don. The meeting was to be contents of the envelope, she assumed that the same was indeed shabu. She then gave
held at around 9:00 p.m. on that day at Cindys Restaurant located in Welcome Rotonda. the buy-bust money to alias Don and scratched her hair to signal the rest of the team to
She was only supposed to meet alias Don that night but she decided to bring the team rush to the scene. P/Insp. Fajardo identified herself as a narcotics agent. The two
along for security reasons.17 suspects tried to flee but PO2 Trambulo was able to stop them from doing so. P/Insp.
Fajardo took custody of the shabu. When she asked alias Don if the latter had authority
At about 9:00 p.m. on even date, P/Insp. Fajardo and her team went to the meeting place to possess or sell shabu, he replied in the negative. P/Insp. Fajardo put her initials "JSF"
with the informant. The members of her team positioned themselves strategically inside on the genuine 500.00 bills below the name of Benigno Aquino. After the arrest of the
the restaurant. The informant introduced P/Insp. Fajardo to alias Don as the buyer of two suspects, the buy-bust team brought them to the police station. The suspects rights
shabu. She asked alias Don if he was indeed an employee of the NBI and he replied in the were read to them and they were subsequently booked.20
affirmative. They agreed to close the deal wherein she would buy 250 grams of shabu
for 250,000.00. They also agreed to meet the following day at Cindys Restaurant P/Insp. Fajardo said that she found out that alias Don was in fact the appellant Donald
around 10:00 to 11:00 p.m.18 Vasquez. She learned of his name when he brought out his NBI ID while he was being
booked. P/Insp. Fajardo also learned that the name of the appellants companion was
In the evening of April 2, 1998, P/Insp. Fajardo and her team went back to Cindys Reynaldo Siscar, who was also arrested and brought to the police station. P/Insp.
Restaurant. Alias Don was already waiting for her outside the establishment when she Fajardo explained that after she gave the buy-bust money to the appellant, the latter
arrived. He asked for the money and she replied that she had the money with her. She handed the same to Siscar who was present the entire time the sale was being
consummated. Upon receiving the buy-bust money placed inside a green plastic bag,
Siscar looked at the contents thereof and uttered "okey na to." P/Insp. Fajardo marked arrived at Cindys Restaurant past 10:00 p.m., alias Don was waiting outside. P/Insp.
the drug specimen and brought the same to the Crime Laboratory. She was Fajardo showed the boodle money to alias Don and after some time, they parted ways.
accompanied there by PO2 Trambulo and PO1 Agravante. She handed over the drug P/Insp. Fajardo later told the team that alias Don decided that the drug deal would take
specimen to PO1 Agravante who then turned it over to P/Insp. Taduran, the forensic place in front of alias Dons rented apartment on Valdez St., Sampaloc, Manila. After an
chemist on duty. The police officers previously weighed the drug specimen. Thereafter, hour, the team went to Valdez St. to familiarize themselves with the area. They then
the personnel at the crime laboratory weighed the specimen again. P/Insp. Fajardo and proceeded to the WPD station to coordinate their operation. Thereafter, P/Insp. Fajardo
her team waited for the results of the laboratory examination.21 conducted a final briefing wherein PO2 Trambulo was designated as the immediate
back-up arresting officer. The agreed pre-arranged signal was for P/Insp. Fajardo to
P/Insp. Fajardo further testified that the six plastic bags of shabu seized during the buy- scratch her hair to indicate the consummation of the deal. PO2 Trambulo was to signal
bust operation were actually contained in a self-sealing plastic envelope placed inside a the same to the other members of the team.23
brown envelope. When the brown envelope was confiscated from the appellant, she put
her initials "JSF" therein and signed it. She noticed that there were markings on the The buy-bust team went to the target area at around 1:30 to 2:00 a.m. on April 3, 1998.
envelope that read "DD-93-1303 re Antonio Roxas y Sunga" but she did not bother to P/Insp. Fajardo and the informant walked towards the direction of alias Dons
check out what they were for or who made them. When she interrogated the appellant apartment, while PO2 Trambulo positioned himself near a parked jeepney about 15 to
about the brown envelope, she found out that the same was submitted as evidence to 20 meters from the apartment gate. The rest of the team parked their vehicles at the
the NBI Crime Laboratory. She also learned that the appellant worked as a Laboratory street perpendicular to Valdez St. Later, alias Don went out of the gate with another
Aide at the NBI Crime Laboratory. She identified in court the six plastic sachets of drugs person. PO2 Trambulo saw alias Don gesturing to P/Insp. Fajardo as if asking for
that her team recovered, which sachets she also initialed and signed. P/Insp. Fajardo something but P/Insp. Fajardo gestured that she wanted to see something first. Alias
also stated that after the appellant was arrested, PO2 Trambulo conducted a body Don handed P/Insp. Fajardo a big brown envelope, which the latter opened. P/Insp.
search on the two suspects. The search yielded 12 more plastic sachets of drugs from Fajardo then handed to alias Don a green plastic bag containing the buy-bust money and
the appellant. The 12 sachets were varied in sizes and were contained in a white gave the pre-arranged signal. When PO2 Trambulo saw this, he immediately summoned
envelope. P/Insp. Fajardo placed her initials and signature on the envelope. As to the 12 the rest of the team and rushed to the suspects. He was able to recover the buy-bust
sachets, the same were initialed by P/Insp. Fajardo and signed by PO2 Trambulo.22 money from alias Dons male companion. Upon frisking alias Don, PO2 Trambulo
retrieved 12 pieces of plastic sachets of suspected drugs. The same were placed inside a
The testimony of PO2 Trambulo corroborated that of P/Insp. Fajardos. PO2 Trambulo white envelope that was tucked inside alias Dons waist. PO2 Trambulo marked each of
testified that in the morning of April 1, 1998, a confidential informant reported to them the 12 sachets with his initials "CVT" and the date. The police officers then informed the
about the illegal drug activities of alias Don. P/Supt. Domantay then tasked P/Insp. suspects of their rights and they proceeded to the police headquarters in Fort
Fajardo to form a buy-bust team. P/Insp. Fajardo was able to set up a meeting with alias Bonifacio.24
Don at Cindys Restaurant in Welcome Rotonda, Quezon City. At that meeting, PO2
Trambulo saw P/Insp. Fajardo talk to alias Don. P/Insp. Fajardo later told the members As regards the brown envelope that alias Don handed to P/Insp. Fajardo, the latter
of the team that she convinced alias Don that she was a good buyer of shabu and the retained possession thereof. The envelope contained six pieces of plastic bags of white
latter demanded a second meeting to see the money. After the initial meeting, P/Insp. crystalline substance. When they got back to their office, the team reported the progress
Fajardo briefed P/Supt. Domantay about what happened. PO2 Trambulo stated that on of their operation to P/Supt. Domantay. The arrested suspects were booked and the
April 2, 1998, P/Insp. Fajardo was furnished with five genuine 500.00 bills together required documentations were prepared. Among such documents was the Request for
with the boodle play money. P/Insp. Fajardo placed her initials in the genuine bills Laboratory Examination of the drug specimens seized. PO2 Trambulo said that he was
below the name "Benigno Aquino, Jr." Afterwards, the team left the office. When they
the one who brought the said request to the PNP Crime Laboratory, along with the drug As expected, the defense belied the prosecutions version of events. The appellants
specimens.25 brief39 before the Court of Appeals provides a concise summary of the defenses
counter-statement of facts. According to the defense:
P/Insp. Marilyn Dequito, the forensic chemist, testified on the results of her examination
of the drug specimens seized in this case. She explained that P/Insp. Macario Taduran, Donald Vasquez was a regular employee of the NBI, working as a Laboratory Aide II at
Jr. initially examined the drug specimens but the latter was already assigned to another the NBI Forensics Chemistry Division. His duties at the time included being a subpoena
office. The results of the examination of P/Insp. Taduran were laid down in Physical clerk, receiving chemistry cases as well as requests from different police agencies to
Science Report No. D-1071-98. P/Insp. Dequito first studied the data contained in have their specimens examined by the chemist. He also rendered day and night duties,
Physical Science Report No. D-1071-98 and retrieved the same from their office. She and during regular office hours and in the absence of the laboratory technician, he
entered that fact in their logbook RD-17-98. She then weighed the drug specimens and would weigh the specimens. As subpoena clerk, he would receive subpoenas from the
examined the white crystalline substance from each of the plastic sachets. She examined trial courts. When there is no chemist, he would get a Special Order to testify, or bring
first the specimens marked as "A-1," "A-2," "A-3," "A-4," "A-5" and "A-6." P/Insp. the drug specimens, to the courts.
Dequitos examination revealed that the white crystalline substances were positive for
methamphetamine hydrochloride.26 She also examined the contents of 12 heat-sealed On 1 April 1998, Donald Vasquez took his examination in Managerial Statistics between
transparent plastic sachets that also contained crystalline substances. The 12 plastic 6:00 to 9:00 oclock p.m. Thereafter, he took a jeepney and alighted at Stop and Shop at
sachets were marked "B-1" to "B-12." The white crystalline powder inside the 12 plastic Quiapo. From there, he took a tricycle to his house, arriving at 9:45 oclock that evening,
sachets also tested positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride. P/Insp. Dequitos where he saw Reynaldo Siscar and Sonny San Diego, the latter a confidential informant
findings were contained in Physical Science Report No. RD-17-98.27 of the narcotics agents.

The prosecution, thereafter, adduced the following object and documentary evidence: On 3 April 1998, at 1:45 oclock in the morning, Donalds household help, Anatolia
(1) photocopies of the five original 500.00 bills28 used as buy-bust money (Exhibits A- Caredo, who had just arrived from Antipolo that time, was eating while Donald was
E); (2) Request for Laboratory Examination29 dated April 3, 1998 (Exhibit F); (3) Initial asleep. She heard a knock on the door. Reynaldo Siscar opened the door and thereafter
Laboratory Report30 dated April 3, 1998, stating that the specimen submitted for two (2) men entered, poking guns at Reynaldo. They were followed by three (3) others.
examination tested positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride (Exhibit G); (4) The door to Donalds room was kicked down and they entered his room. Donald,
Court Order31 dated September 2, 1998 (Exhibit H); (5) Physical Sciences Report No. D- hearing noise, woke up to see P./Insp. Fajardo pointing a gun at him. He saw that there
1071-9832 dated April 3, 1998 (Exhibit I); (6) Drug specimens A-1 to A-6 (Exhibits J-O); were six (6) policemen searching his room, picking up what they could get. One of them
(7) Big brown envelope (Exhibit P); (8) Small white envelope (Exhibit Q); (9) Drug opened a cabinet and got drug specimens in [Donalds] possession in relation to his
specimens B-1 to B-12 (Exhibits R-CC); (10) Physical Sciences Report No. RD-17- work as a laboratory aide. The drugs came from two (2) cases and marked as DD-93-
9833 (Exhibit DD); (11) Joint Affidavit of Arrest34 (Exhibit EE); (12) Play money (Exhibit 1303 owned by Antonio Roxas, and DD-96-5392 owned by SPO4 Emiliano Anonas. The
FF); (13) Booking Sheet and Arrest Report35 (Exhibit GG); (14) Request for Medical drug specimen contained in the envelope marked as DD-93-1303 was intended for
Examination36 (Exhibit HH); (15) Medico Legal Slip37 of Donald Vasquez (Exhibit II); and presentation on 3 April 1998. Aside from the drug specimens, the policemen also took
(16) Medico Legal Slip38 of Reynaldo Siscar (Exhibit JJ). his jewelry, a VHS player, and his wallet containing 2,530.00.

The Defenses Case

Angelina Arejado, Donalds neighbor, witnessed the policemen entering the apartment strengthen his testimony that he was indeed authorized to keep in his custody the said
and apprehending Donald and Reynaldo from the apartment terrace.40 (Citations shabu to be presented or turned over to the Court as evidence, and he should have filed
omitted.) the proper charges against those police officers who were responsible for such act. But
the accused did not even bother to do the same. Further, the pieces of evidence
The defense then offered the following evidence: (1) NBI Disposition Form 41 dated April (Disposition Form, Affidavit of [Idabel] Pagulayan and Letter dated March 27, 1998
3, 1998 (Exhibit 1); (2) Sworn Statement of Idabel Bernabe Pagulayan42 (Exhibit 2); (3) issued by Acting Deputy Director) presented by the accused in Court could not be given
Photocopy of the buy-bust money43 (Exhibit 3); (4) List of Hearings44 attended by weight and credence considering that the said persons were not presented in Court to
Donald Vasquez (Exhibit 4); (5) Authorization Letter45 prepared by Acting Deputy identify the said documents and that the prosecution has no opportunity to cross-
Director Arturo A. Figueras dated March 27, 1998 (Exhibit 5); and (6) List of examine the same, thus, it has no probative value.47
Evidence46 taken by Donald Vasquez from 1996-1998 (Exhibit 6).
The trial court, thus, decreed:
The Decision of the RTC
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
On August 6, 2009, the RTC convicted the appellant of the crimes charged. The RTC gave
more credence to the prosecutions evidence given that the presumption of regularity in 1. In Crim. Case No. 98-164174, finding accused, DONALD VASQUEZ y
the performance of official duty on the part of the police officers was not overcome. The SANDIGAN @ "DON" guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Violation of
trial court held that the appellant did not present any evidence that would show that the Sec. 15, Art. III in Relation to Sec.
police officers in this case were impelled by an evil motive to charge him of very serious
crimes and falsely testify against him. Also, the trial court noted that the volume of the 2 (e), (f), (m), (o), Art. I of R.A. No. 6425 and hereby sentences him to suffer the
shabu involved in this case was considerable, i.e., 247.98 grams and 4.03 grams for penalty of reclusion perpetua and a fine of 5,000,000.00; and 2. In Crim. Case
illegal sale and illegal possession, respectively. To the mind of the trial court, such fact No. 98-164175, judgment is hereby rendered finding the accused, DONALD
helped to dispel the possibility that the drug specimens seized were merely planted by VASQUEZ y SANDIGAN @ "DON" guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
the police officers. Furthermore, the RTC ruled that the positive testimonies of the Violation of Sec. 16, Art. III in Relation to Sec. 2 (e-2) Art. I of R.A. 6425 as
police officers regarding the illegal drug peddling activities of the appellant prevailed Amended by Batas Pambansa Bilang 179 and hereby sentences him to suffer the
over the latters bare denials. penalty of SIX (6) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY to FOUR (4) YEARS and a fine of
Assuming for the sake of argument that the appellant was merely framed up by the
police, the trial court pointed out that: The subject shabu (247.98 grams and 4.03 grams, respectively) are hereby forfeited in
favor of the government and the Branch Clerk of Court is hereby directed to deliver
[T]he accused should have reported the said incident to the proper authorities, or asked and/or cause the delivery of the said shabu to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency
help from his Acting Chief [Idabel] Pagulayan from the NBI to testify and identify in (PDEA), upon the finality of this Decision.48
Court the xerox copy of the Disposition Form which she issued to the accused and the
Affidavit dated April 17, 1998 (xerox copy) executed by her or from Mr. Arturo A. The Judgment of the Court of Appeals
Figueras, Acting Deputy Director, Technical Services of the NBI to testify and identify
the Letter issued by the said Acting Deputy Director in order to corroborate and
On appeal,49 the Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of the appellant. The appellate After an assiduous review of the evidence adduced by both parties to this case, we
court ruled that the prosecution sufficiently proved the elements of the crimes of illegal resolve to deny this appeal.
sale and illegal possession of shabu. The testimony of P/Insp. Fajardo on the conduct of
the buy-bust operation was found to be clear and categorical. As the appellant failed to At the outset, the Court rules that the appellant can no longer assail the validity of his
adduce any evidence that tended to prove any ill motive on the part of the police officers arrest. We reiterated in People v. Tampis52 that "[a]ny objection, defect or irregularity
to falsely charge the appellant, the Court of Appeals held that the presumption of attending an arrest must be made before the accused enters his plea on arraignment.
regularity in the performance of official duties on the part of the police officers had not Having failed to move for the quashing of the information against them before their
been controverted in this case. arraignment, appellants are now estopped from questioning the legality of their arrest.
Any irregularity was cured upon their voluntary submission to the trial courts
The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals decision stated: jurisdiction."53 Be that as it may, the fact of the matter is that the appellant was caught in
flagrante delicto of selling illegal drugs to an undercover police officer in a buy-bust
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is hereby DENIED. The August 6, operation. His arrest, thus, falls within the ambit of Section 5(a), Rule 11354 of the
2009 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 41 of the City of Manila in Criminal Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure when an arrest made without warrant is deemed
Cases No. 98-164174-75, finding appellant Donald Vasquez y Sandigan guilty beyond lawful. Having established the validity of the warrantless arrest in this case, the Court
reasonable doubt for the crimes of Violation of Section 15 and Section 16, Article III of holds that the warrantless seizure of the illegal drugs from the appellant is likewise
Republic Act No. 6425 is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that in Criminal Case No. valid. We held in People v. Cabugatan55 that:
98-164175, appellant is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of six
months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to two years, four months and one day of prision This interdiction against warrantless searches and seizures, however, is not absolute
correccional in its medium period, as maximum.50 and such warrantless searches and seizures have long been deemed permissible by
jurisprudence in instances of (1) search of moving vehicles, (2) seizure in plain view, (3)
The Ruling of the Court customs searches, (4) waiver or consented searches, (5) stop and frisk situations (Terry
search), and search incidental to a lawful arrest. The last includes a valid warrantless
The appellant appealed his case to this Court to once again impugn his conviction on arrest, for, while as a rule, an arrest is considered legitimate [if] effected with a valid
two grounds: (1) the purported illegality of the search and the ensuing arrest done by warrant of arrest, the Rules of Court recognize permissible warrantless arrest, to wit:
the police officers and (2) his supposed authority to possess the illegal drugs seized (1) arrest in flagrante delicto, (2) arrest effected in hot pursuit, and (3) arrest of escaped
from him.51 He argues that the police officers did not have a search warrant or a warrant prisoners. (Citation omitted.)
of arrest at the time he was arrested. This occurred despite the fact that the police
officers allegedly had ample time to secure a warrant of arrest against him. Inasmuch as Thus, the appellant cannot seek exculpation by invoking belatedly the invalidity of his
his arrest was illegal, the appellant avers that the evidence obtained as a result thereof arrest and the subsequent search upon his person.
was inadmissible in court. As the corpus delicti of the crime was rendered inadmissible,
the appellant posits that his guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt. Appellant We now rule on the substantive matters.
further insists that he was able to prove that he was authorized to keep the drug
specimens in his custody, given that he was an employee of the NBI Forensic Chemistry To secure a conviction for the crime of illegal sale of regulated or prohibited drugs, the
Laboratory who was tasked with the duty to bring drug specimens in court. following elements should be satisfactorily proven: (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.56 As held in People v. Chua Tan Lee,57 in a prosecution of illegal sale only did he not have any misunderstanding with P/Insp. Fajardo and PO2 Trambulo
of drugs, "what is material is proof that the accused peddled illicit drugs, coupled with prior to his arrest, he in fact did not know them at all.60 In the absence of evidence of
the presentation in court of the corpus delicti." On the other hand, the elements of illegal such ill motive, none is presumed to exist.61
possession of drugs are: (1) the accused is in possession of an item or object which is
identified to be a prohibited drug; (2) such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) The records of this case are also silent as to any measures undertaken by the appellant
the accused freely and consciously possessed the said drug.58 to criminally or administratively charge the police officers herein for falsely framing
him up for selling and possessing illegal drugs. Such a move would not have been a
In the case at bar, the testimonies of P/Insp. Fajardo and PO2 Trambulo established that daunting task for the appellant under the circumstances. Being a regular employee of
a buy-bust operation was legitimately carried out in the wee hours of April 3, 1998 to the NBI, the appellant could have easily sought the help of his immediate supervisors
entrap the appellant. P/Insp. Fajardo, the poseur-buyer, positively identified the and/or the chief of his office to extricate him from his predicament. Instead, what the
appellant as the one who sold to her six plastic bags of shabu that were contained in a appellant offered in evidence were mere photocopies of documents that supposedly
big brown envelope for the price of 250,000.00. She likewise identified the six plastic showed that he was authorized to keep drug specimens in his custody. That the original
bags of shabu, which contained the markings she placed thereon after the same were documents and the testimonies of the signatories thereof were not at all presented in
seized from the appellant. When subjected to laboratory examination, the white court did nothing to help the appellants case. To the mind of the Court, the evidence
crystalline powder contained in the plastic bags tested positive for shabu. We find that offered by the appellant failed to persuade amid the positive and categorical testimonies
P/Insp. Fajardos testimony on the events that transpired during the conduct of the buy- of the arresting officers that the appellant was caught red-handed selling and possessing
bust operation was detailed and straightforward. She was also consistent and a considerable amount of prohibited drugs on the night of the buy-bust operation.
unwavering in her narration even in the face of the opposing counsels cross-
examination. It is apropos to reiterate here that where there is no showing that the trial court
overlooked or misinterpreted some material facts or that it gravely abused its
Apart from her description of the events that led to the exchange of the drug specimens discretion, the Court will not disturb the trial courts assessment of the facts and the
seized and the buy-bust money, P/Insp. Fajardo further testified as to the recovery from credibility of the witnesses since the RTC was in a better position to assess and weigh
the appellant of another 12 pieces of plastic sachets of shabu. After the latter was the evidence presented during trial. Settled too is the rule that the factual findings of the
arrested, P/Insp. Fajardo stated that PO2 Trambulo conducted a body search on the appellate court sustaining those of the trial court are binding on this Court, unless there
appellant. This search resulted to the confiscation of 12 more plastic sachets, the is a clear showing that such findings are tainted with arbitrariness, capriciousness or
contents of which also tested positive for shabu. The testimony of P/Insp. Fajardo was palpable error.62
amply corroborated by PO2 Trambulo, whose own account dovetailed the formers
narration of events. Both police officers also identified in court the twelve plastic On the basis of the foregoing, the Court is convinced that the prosecution was able to
sachets of shabu that were confiscated from the appellant. establish the guilt of the appellant of the crimes charged.

In People v. Ting Uy,59 the Court explains that "credence shall be given to the narration The Penalties
of the incident by prosecution witnesses especially so when they are police officers who
are presumed to have performed their duties in a regular manner, unless there be Anent the proper imposable penalties, Section 15 and Section 16, Article III, in relation
evidence to the contrary." In the instant case, the appellant failed to ascribe, much less to Section 20(3) of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, state:
satisfactorily prove, any improper motive on the part of the prosecution witnesses as to
why they would falsely incriminate him. The appellant himself even testified that, not
SEC. 15. Sale, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Transportation and Distribution of Otherwise, if the quantity involved is less than the foregoing quantities, the penalty shall
Regulated Drugs. - The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from range from prision correccional to reclusion perpetua depending upon the quantity.
five hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos shall be imposed upon any person (Emphases supplied.)
who, unless authorized by law, shall sell, dispense, deliver, transport or distribute any
regulated drug. Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 20 of this Act to the contrary, In Criminal Case No. 98-164174 involving the crime of illegal sale of regulated drugs, the
if the victim of the offense is a minor, or should a regulated drug involved in any offense appellant was found to have sold to the poseur-buyer in this case a total of 247.98
under this Section be the proximate cause of the death of a victim thereof, the maximum grams of shabu, which amount is more than the minimum of 200 grams required by the
penalty herein provided shall be imposed. SEC. 16. Possession or Use of Regulated law for the imposition of either reclusion perpetua or, if there be aggravating
Drugs. - The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five hundred circumstances, the death penalty.
thousand pesos to ten million pesos shall be imposed upon any person who shall
possess or use any regulated drug without the corresponding license or prescription, Pertinently, Article 6363 of the Revised Penal Code mandates that when the law
subject to the provisions of Section 20 hereof. prescribes a penalty composed of two indivisible penalties and there are neither
mitigating nor aggravating circumstances in the commission of the crime, the lesser
SEC. 20. Application of Penalties, Confiscation and Forfeiture of the Proceeds or penalty shall be applied.1wphi1 Thus, in this case, considering that no mitigating or
Instruments of the Crime. - The penalties for offenses under Sections 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 of aggravating circumstances attended the appellants violation of Section 15, Article III of
Article II and Sections 14, 14-A, 15 and 16 of Article III of this Act shall be applied if the Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, the Court of Appeals correctly affirmed the trial
dangerous drugs involved is in any of the following quantities: courts imposition of reclusion perpetua. The 5,000,000.00 fine imposed by the RTC on
the appellant is also in accord with Section 15, Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, as
1. 40 grams or more of opium; amended.

2. 40 grams or more of morphine; As to the charge of illegal possession of regulated drugs in Criminal Case No. 98-164175,
the Court of Appeals properly invoked our ruling in People v. Tira 64 in determining the
3. 200 grams or more of shabu or methylamphetamine hydrochloride; proper imposable penalty. Indeed, we held in Tira that:

4. 40 grams or more of heroin; Under Section 16, Article III of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended, the imposable penalty of
possession of a regulated drug, less than 200 grams, in this case, shabu, is prision
5. 750 grams or more of Indian hemp or marijuana; correccional to reclusion perpetua. Based on the quantity of the regulated drug subject
of the offense, the imposable penalty shall be as follows:
6. 50 grams or more of marijuana resin or marijuana resin oil;
7. 40 grams or more of cocaine or cocaine hydrocholoride; or
Less than one (1) gram to 49.25 grams prision correccional
8. In the case of other dangerous drugs, the quantity of which is far beyond
49.26 grams to 98.50 grams prision mayor
therapeutic requirements, as determined and promulgated by the Dangerous
Drugs Board, after public consultations/hearings conducted for the purpose. 98.51 grams to 147.75 grams reclusion temporal
147.76 grams to 199 grams reclusion perpetua
(Emphases ours.)

Given that the additional 12 plastic sachets of shabu found in the possession of the
appellant amounted to 4.03 grams, the imposable penalty for the crime is prision
correccional. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, there being no aggravating or
mitigating circumstance in this case, the imposable penalty on the appellant should be
the indeterminate sentence of six months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to four years
and two months of prision correccional, as maximum. The penalty imposed by the Court
of Appeals, thus, falls within the range of the proper imposable penalty. In Criminal Case
No. 98-164175, no fine is imposable considering that in Republic Act No. 6425, as
amended, a fine can be imposed as a conjunctive penalty only if the penalty is reclusion
perpetua to death.65

Incidentally, the Court notes that both parties in this case admitted that the appellant
was a regular employee of the NBI Forensics Chemistry Division. Such fact, however,
cannot be taken into consideration to increase the penalties in this case to the
maximum, in accordance with Section 24 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended.66 Such a
special aggravating circumstance, i.e., one that which arises under special conditions to
increase the penalty for the offense to its maximum period,67 was not alleged and
charged in the informations. Thus, the same was properly disregarded by the lower

All told, the Court finds no reason to overturn the conviction of the appellant.

WHEREFORE, the Court of Appeals Decision dated May 31, 2011 in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No.
04201 is AFFIRMED. No costs.