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People of the Philippines vs. Marcelino C. Collado, et al.

G.R. No. 185719


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
- versus -
MARCELINO COLLADO Y CUNANAN, MYRA COLLADO Y SENICA, MARK CIPRIANO Y ROCERO, SAMUEL
SHERWIN LATARIO Y ENRIQUE,* AND REYNALDO RANADA Y ALAS**, ACCUSED-APPELLANTS.

DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
Mere allegations and self-serving statements will not overcome the presumption of regularity in the performance of
official duties accorded to police officers. There must be a showing of clear and convincing evidence to successfully
rebut this presumption.
On appeal is the February 28, 2008 Decision
of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02626 which affirmed with modification the December 7, 2005
Decision
of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City, Branch 154 in Criminal Case Nos. 13781-D, 13783-D and 13784-D.
The RTC convicted the appellants and several other accused for violations of Republic Act (RA) No. 9165 or the
Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, and imposed upon them the penalty of imprisonment and payment of
fine in each of their respective cases.
Factual Antecedents
On October 14, 2004, appellants Marcelino Collado (Marcelino) and Myra Collado (Myra) were charged with the crimes
of sale of dangerous drugs and maintenance of a den, dive or resort in violation of Sections 5 and 6 of Article II, RA
9165 docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 13781-D and 13782-D, respectively, viz:
CRIMINAL CASE NO. 13781-D
On or about October 9, 2004, in Pasig City, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused, conspiring
and confederating together and both of them mutually helping and aiding one another, not being lawfully authorized by
law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell, deliver and give away to PO2 Richard N. Noble, a police
poseur buyer, one (1) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet containing three (3) centigrams (0.03 gram) of white
crystalline substance, which was found positive to the test for methylamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drug, in
violation of the said law.
Contrary to law.
CRIMINAL CASE NO. 13782-D
On or about or immediately prior to October 9, 2004, in Pasig City, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the accused, conspiring and confederating together and both of them mutually helping and aiding one another, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously maintain a den, dive or resort located at No. 32 R. Hernandez St., Brgy.
San Joaquin, Pasig City, where x x x dangerous drugs are used or sold in any form, in violation of the said law.
Contrary to law.
Marcelino was also charged with illegal possession of dangerous drugs under Section 11, Article II of the same law
docketed as Criminal Case No. 13783-D, viz:
CRIMINAL CASE NO. 13783-D
On or about October 9, 2004, in Pasig City, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused, not being
lawfully authorized to possess any dangerous drug, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his
possession and under his custody and control one (1) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet containing six centigrams
(0.06 gram) of white crystalline substance, which was found to be positive to the test for methylamphetamine
hydrochloride, a dangerous drug, in violation of the said law.
Contrary to law.
On the other hand, appellants Mark Cipriano (Cipriano), Samuel Sherwin Latario (Latario), Reynaldo Ranada (Ranada),
together with co-accused Melody Apelo (Apelo), Marwin Abache (Abache), Michael Angelo Sumulong (Sumulong), and
Jay Madarang (Madarang), were charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in violation of Section 14, Article II of
RA 9165, docketed as Criminal Case No. 13784-D, viz:
CRIMINAL CASE NO. 13784-D
On or about October 9, 2004, in Pasig City, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused, each being
in the proximate company of two (2) persons and in conspiracy with one another, without having been duly authorized
by law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in their possession and under their custody and
control the following paraphernalias [sic], fit or intended for smoking, consuming, administering or introducing any
dangerous drug into the body, to wit:
a. one (1) strip aluminum foil containing traces of white crystalline substance marked as Exh-D;
b. one (1) improvised glass tooter containing traces of white crystalline substance marked as Exh-D1;
c. one (1) pack transparent plastic sachet marked as Exh-D2;
d. two (2) plastic disposable lighters marked as Exhs. "G-H";
e. one (1) tape-sealed transparent plastic sachet containing three (3) rolled aluminum foil marked as Exh. D5;
f. five (5) unsealed transparent plastic sachets marked as Exh. D6;
g. one (1) stainless scissor marked as Exh. D7;
h. one (1) rectangular glass marked as Exh. D8; and
i. one (1) roll of aluminum foil marked as Exh. D9.
[Specimens] marked as Exh-D and Exh-D1 were found positive to the test for methylamphetamine hydrochloride, a
dangerous drug, in violation of the said law.
Contrary to law.
Upon arraignment on November 4, 2004, all the appellants and the other accused pleaded not guilty.
Pre-trial and joint trial on the merits subsequently ensued.
Version of the Prosecution
The prosecution presented as witnesses PO2 Richard Noble (PO2 Noble) and SPO2 Bernardo Cruz (SPO2 Cruz) who
were involved in the buy-bust operation that led to the arrest of the appellants. Their testimonies are summarized as
follows:
On October 9, 2004, PO2 Noble received information from a civilian asset that spouses Marcelino and Myra were
engaged in selling shabu and that drug users, including out-of-school youth, were using their residence in 32 R.
Hernandez St., San Joaquin, Pasig City, for their drug sessions.
After recording the report in the police blotter, PO2 Noble relayed the information to his superior, P/Insp. Earl B. Castillo
(P/Insp. Castillo), who in turn ordered the conduct of a surveillance operation.
PO2 Noble, SPO2 Cruz and PO1 Anthony Bitbit, conducted a surveillance on the couple’s residence. After confirming
the reported activities, SPO2 Cruz looked for an asset who could introduce them to Marcelino and Myra in the ensuing
buy-bust operation.
A buy-bust operation team was thereafter formed. After coordinating with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as
evidenced by a Pre-Operation Report,
the team proceeded to Marcelino’s and Myra’s residence on board two private vehicles. Upon reaching the target area,
the asset introduced PO2 Noble to Marcelino as a regular buyer of shabu.
When asked how much shabu he needed, PO2 Noble replied, "dalawang piso," which means ₱200.00 worth of drugs.
But when PO2 Noble was handing over the marked money to Marcelino, the latter motioned that the same be given to
his wife, Myra, who accepted the money. Marcelino then took from his pocket a small metal container from which he
brought out a small plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance and gave the same to PO2 Noble. While PO2
Noble was inspecting its contents, he noticed smoke coming from a table inside the house of the couple around which
were seven persons.
When PO2 Noble gave the pre-arranged signal, the backup team rushed to the scene. Simultaneously, PO2 Noble
introduced himself as a policeman and arrested Marcelino. He frisked him and was able to confiscate the metal
container that contained another sachet of white crystalline substance. PO2 Noble wrote the markings "MCC-RNN
October 9, 2004" on both the plastic sachets of white substance sold to him by Marcelino and the one found inside the
metal container.
Meanwhile, SPO2 Cruz and another police officer went inside the house of Marcelino and Myra, where they found
Apelo, Cipriano, Ranada, Abache, Sumulong, Madarang and Latario gathered around a table littered with various drug
paraphernalia such as an improvised water pipe, strips of aluminum foil with traces of white substance, disposable
lighters, and plastic sachets. A strip of aluminum foil used for smoking marijuana was recovered from Ranada. The buy-
bust team arrested all these persons, advised them of their constitutional rights, and brought them to police
headquarters for investigation and drug testing.
A chemistry report
on all the seized items yielded positive results for methylamphetamine hydrochloride. Another chemistry report
showed Marcelino, Apelo, Cipriano, and Ranada positive for drug use while Myra, Abache, Sumulong, Madarang, and
Latario were found negative.
Version of the Defense
The defense presented the testimonies of Marcelino, Myra, and Ranada, who all essentially put up the defense of
denial. The following is their version of the story.
Marcelino and Myra owned an electronics and appliance repair shop annexed to their house. In the evening of October
9, 2004, Marcelino was in the living room with his children and nieces fixing a VCD player. Apelo, their househelp, was
in the kitchen preparing food while Ranada, their repairman, was outside the house fixing Sumulong’s motorcycle.
Cipriano and Madarang were also present at the shop, the former to redeem his car stereo and the latter to borrow a
play station CD. Latario, a housemate of Marcelino and Myra, was also present at the time.
Marcelino suddenly heard someone say "Walang tatakbo!" Four armed men rushed inside the house and pointed their
guns at him and said "Wag ka nang pumalag." He was thereafter dragged outside where he saw the other accused
already in handcuffs. Marcelino was later informed that they were being arrested for selling shabu. Marcelino protested
and disclaimed any knowledge about drugs. When the officers frisked all the accused, Marcelino claimed that nothing
illegal nor incriminating was recovered from them.
When Myra arrived at the scene, she was shocked to see her husband being arrested. The police officers then brought
all the accused to the police station for further questioning.
At the police station, PO2 Noble asked Marcelino for ₱50,000.00 as settlement of their case. Marcelino, Apelo,
Cipriano, and Ranada were also made to drink water that according to Marcelino tasted bitter.
They were then brought to Camp Crame for medical examination and drug tests. Those who drank the bitter water
tested positive for drugs use while the others, who did not drink, tested negative.
Marcelino surmised that their arrest was due to a misunderstanding he had with a former police officer named Rey who
bought a VCD player from his shop. He specifically instructed Rey not to let anyone repair the VCD player should it
malfunction. However, when the VCD player malfunctioned, Rey had it repaired by somebody else, hence Marcelino
refused to accept the VCD player and return Rey’s money. This earned the ire of Rey who threatened him with the
words "Humanda ka pagbalik ko."
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
In its Decision
dated December 7, 2005, the RTC disposed of the case as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
In Crim. Case No. 13781-D, finding the accused MARCELINO COLLADO y Cunanan and MYRA COLLADO y Senica
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of violation of Section 5 of R.A. 9165 (sale of dangerous drug) and they
are hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of LIFE IMPRISONMENT.
Additionally, the two accused are ordered to pay a fine of ONE MILLION PESOS (₱1,000,000.00) EACH.
In Crim. Case No. 13782-D, judgment is rendered finding the accused MARCELINO COLLADO y Cunanan and MYRA
COLLADO y Senica NOT GUILTY of the crime of violation of Section 6.
In Crim. Case No. 13783-D, finding the accused MARCELINO COLLADO y Cunanan GUILTY of the offense of violation
of Section 11 of R.A. 9165 and he is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of TWELVE
(12) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY to FIFTEEN (15) YEARS.
The accused Marcelino Collado is also ordered to pay a fine of THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS
(₱300,000.00).
In Crim. Case No. 13784-D, judgment is hereby rendered finding the accused MELODY APELO y Roman, MARK
CIPRIANO y Rocero, MARWIN ABACHE y Aquilino, MICHAEL ANGELO SUMULONG y Belarmino, JAY MADARANG
y Gomez, SAMUEL SHERWIN LATARIO y Enrique and REYNALDO RANADA y Alas GUILTY of the offense of
violation of Section 14 of R.A. 9165 and they are hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of TWO (2)
YEARS, EIGHT (8) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY to FOUR (4) YEARS imprisonment. Each of them is also ordered to
pay a fine of TEN THOUSAND PESOS (₱10,000.00).
Let the shabu and paraphernalia alleged to be the subject[s] of the Information be turned over and delivered
immediately to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for proper disposition.
SO ORDERED.
Accused Apelo, Abache, Sumulong and Madarang applied for probation.
Hence, only Marcelino, Myra, Cirpriano, Latario and Ranada appealed to the CA.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The appellate court found the warrantless arrest of the appellants to be lawful considering that they were caught in the
act of committing a crime.
Thus, the CA affirmed the conviction of Marcelino and Myra for violation of Section 5 of RA 9165 (sale of dangerous
drugs), as well as the conviction of Marcelino for violation of Section 11 of RA 9165 (illegal possession of dangerous
drugs). Anent the violation of Section 14 of RA 9165 (possession of drug paraphernalia), the CA affirmed the conviction
of Ranada as he was caught having custody and control of a drug paraphernalia intended for smoking and injecting
illegal drugs into one’s body.
As regards Cipriano and Latario, as well as the other accused Apelo, Abache, Sumulong and Madarang, the CA found
them guilty not as principals but only as accessories.
Thus, the appellate court affirmed with modification the trial court’s Decision through a Decision
dated February 28, 2008, the dispositive portion of which states:
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is AFFIRMED with respect to the conviction and imposition of the respective
penalties against the following: (A) appellants Marcelino Collado and Myra Collado in Crim. Case No. 13781-D
for violation of Section 5, Article II, RA No. 9165; (B) appellant Marcelino Collado in Crim. Case No. 13783-D for
violation of Section 11, Article II, RA No. 9165; (C) appellant Reynaldo Ranada in Crim. Case No. 13784-D for violation
of Section 14, Article II, RA No. 9165.
In Crim. Case No. 13784-D, MODIFICATION is hereby ordered as to appellants Mark Cipriano and Samuel Sherwin
Latario, including co-accused Melody Apelo, Marwin Abache, Michael Angelo Sumulong and Jay Madarang - insofar as
they were found GUILTY, not as principals, but as ACCESSORIES in the offense of violation of Section 14, Article II of
RA No. 9165, in relation to the aforecited provision of the Revised Penal Code. Each of them shall suffer the straight
penalty of Four (4) Months of arresto mayor. The fine of Ten Thousand Pesos already imposed by the trial court upon
each of them is MAINTAINED.
SO ORDERED.
Not satisfied, the appellants are now before this Court arguing that irregularities attended their arrest and detention as
well as the procedure in handling the specimen allegedly seized from them. Because of these, they assert that their guilt
was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Our Ruling
The appealed Decision should be affirmed, with modification.
The presumption of regularity in the
performance of official duties must
be upheld in the absence of clear and
convincing evidence to overturn the
same.
Appellants question the validity of the buy-bust operation and point out the following irregularities which they claim
attended its conduct: (1) lack of warrant of arrest; (2) non-compliance with the procedures laid down under Section 21 of
RA 9165; and, (3) the alleged extortion of money from them by PO2 Noble in exchange for dropping the charges
against them. Due to these irregularities, appellants argue that the presumption of regularity in the performance of
official duties accorded to police officers does not apply in this case.
Lack of a warrant of arrest
Appellants argue that the arrest, search, and seizure conducted by the police were illegal since it was not supported by
a valid warrant. They thus posit that their right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against
unreasonable searches and seizures was violated.
Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court provides for lawful warrantless arrests, viz:
Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. -- A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a
person:
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit
an offense;
(b) When an offense has in fact just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal
knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and
(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving
final judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one
confinement to another.
Section 5(a) is what is known as arrest in flagrante delicto. For this type of warrantless arrest to be valid, two requisites
must concur: "(1) the person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has just committed, is actually
committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and, (2) such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the
arresting officer."
A common example of an arrest in flagrante delicto is one made after conducting a buy-bust operation.
This is precisely what happened in the present case. The arrest of the appellants was an arrest in flagrante delicto
made in pursuance of Sec. 5(a), Rule 113 of the Rules of Court. The arrest was effected after Marcelino and Myra
performed the overt act of selling to PO2 Noble the sachet of shabu and Ranada of having in his control and custody
illegal drug paraphernalia. Thus, there is no other logical conclusion than that the arrest made by the police officers was
a valid warrantless arrest since the same was made while the appellants were actually committing the said crimes.
Moreover, assuming that irregularities indeed attended the arrest of appellants, they can no longer question the validity
thereof as there is no showing that they objected to the same before their arraignment. Neither did they take steps to
quash the Informations on such ground.
They only raised this issue upon their appeal to the appellate court. By this omission, any objections on the legality of
their arrest are deemed to have been waived by them.
Anent their claim of unreasonable search and seizure, it is true that under the Constitution, "a search and consequent
seizure must be carried out with a judicial warrant; otherwise, it becomes unreasonable and any evidence obtained
therefrom shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding."
This proscription, however, admits of exceptions, one of which is a warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest.
The arrest of the appellants was lawful. Under Section 13, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, "[a] person lawfully arrested
may be searched for dangerous weapons or anything which may have been used or constitute proof in the commission
of an offense without a search warrant." The factual milieu of this case clearly shows that the search was made after
appellants were lawfully arrested. Pursuant to the above-mentioned rule, the subsequent search and seizure made by
the police officers were likewise valid. Hence, appellants’ claim of unreasonable search and seizure must fail.
Extortion
Appellants aver that PO2 Noble tried to extort money from them in exchange for dropping the drug charges against
them.
The defense of extortion and/or frame-up is often put up in drugs cases in order to cast doubt on the credibility of police
officers. This is a serious imputation of a crime hence clear and convincing evidence must be presented to support the
same. There must also be a showing that the police officers were inspired by improper motive. In this case, we find
such imputation unfounded.
In People v. Capalad,
this Court held thus:
Charges of extortion and frame-up are frequently made in this jurisdiction. Courts are, thus, cautious in dealing with
such accusations, which are quite difficult to prove in light of the presumption of regularity in the performance of the
police officers’ duties. To substantiate such defense, which can be easily concocted, the evidence must be clear and
convincing and should show that the members of the buy-bust team were inspired by any improper motive or were not
properly performing their duty. Otherwise, the police officers’ testimonies on the operation deserve full faith and credit.
Here, aside from Marcelino’s self-serving testimony, appellants’ claim of extortion is not substantiated by other
convincing evidence. Neither was it established during trial that PO2 Noble or the other members of the buy-bust team
were impelled by improper motive. Appellants’ allegation that PO2 Noble and his team arrested them because of
Marcelino’s previous misunderstanding with a certain retired policeman named Rey deserves no credence. No evidence
was presented to show any connection between Rey and the buy-bust team. It was not even shown by the defense who
this person Rey really is. Also, it is highly unlikely that a team of police officers would pursue a surveillance, conduct a
buy-bust operation, and arrest all the accused for a measly ₱1,000.00 VCD player. In view of these, appellants’
allegation of extortion and improper motive deserves no credence.
Chain of Custody
Appellants argue that the procedure laid down in Section 21 of RA 9165 was not followed. They specifically harp on the
fact that the confiscated drugs were not photographed and inventoried. Moreover, they contend that the police officers
who handled the seized specimen were not presented in court to testify on the condition in which they received the said
specimen. For the appellants, these defects constitute a clear break in the chain of custody and, consequently, the
prosecution failed to establish corpus delicti.
The Court, however, finds this argument unmeritorious.
Section 21, paragraph 1, Article II of RA 9165 provides for the custody and disposition of the confiscated drugs, to wit:
(1) The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and
confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom
such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and
the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory
and be given a copy thereof;
This rule is elaborated in Section 21(a), Article II of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9165, viz:
a) The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and
confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom
such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and
the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory
and be given a copy thereof: Provided, that the physical inventory and photograph shall be conducted at the place
where the search warrant is served; or at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/
team, whichever is practicable, in case of warrantless seizure; Provided, further, that non-compliance with these
requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are
properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody
over said items. (Emphasis supplied)
Pursuant to the above-cited provisions, this Court has consistently ruled that the failure of the police officers to inventory
and photograph the confiscated items are not fatal to the prosecution’s cause,
provided that the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized substance were preserved, as in this case. Here, PO2
Noble, after apprehending Marcelino and confiscating from him the sachets of shabu, immediately placed his markings
on them. He testified thus:
PROSECUTOR PAZ:
Q: What did you do with that sachet containing white substance that was bought from Marcelino and the one that you
were able to confiscate from him?
A: I put my markings.
Q: What were those markings?
A: MCC-RNN October 9, 2004.
In the Request for Laboratory Examination
the seized items were listed and inventoried. After the conduct of the laboratory examination, Chemistry Report No. D-
807-04
revealed that the contents of the said sachets tested positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.
Moreover, it is of no moment that Forensic Chemist Alejandro De Guzman who conducted the laboratory examination
was not presented as a witness. The non-presentation as witnesses of other persons who had custody of the illegal
drugs is not a crucial point against the prosecution.
There is no requirement for the prosecution to present as witness in a drugs case every person who had something to
do with the arrest of the accused and the seizure of the prohibited drugs from him.
To stress, the implementing rules are clear that non-compliance with the requirements under justifiable grounds, as
long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending
officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items.
Criminal Case No. 13784-D
With regard to Criminal Case No. 13784-D for illegal possession of drug paraphernalia, we find it imperative to re-
examine the findings of both the RTC and the CA.
The RTC’s findings are as follows:
The evidence for the prosecution clearly shows that certain things or paraphernalia which are fit or intended [for]
smoking shabu were found in the house of the accused Marcelino and Myra Collado on the same occasion that the said
spouses were arrested by the police officers. This fact makes all the accused without exception liable for violation of
Section 14. While it was only Reynaldo Ranada who was caught having in his possession an item used in smoking
marijuana, i.e., a strip of aluminum foil x x x and nothing was found in the possession of the other accused, this fact
nonetheless does not render Reynaldo Ranada the only person liable for violation of Section 14. [Take note] that the
law speaks not only of possession but also of having under one’s control the paraphernalia intended for smoking. In the
instant case, the paraphernalia were found by the police on top of the table around which the accused were gathered.
Hence, even if the x x x accused other than Ranada did not have in their possession any of the paraphernalia, it can,
however, be said that the paraphernalia found on top of the table were under their control. x x x
Thus, the RTC found Ranada, Cipriano, Latario, Apelo Abache, Sumulong and Madarang all equally guilty of illegal
possession of drug paraphernalia.
On appeal, however, the CA found Ranada guilty as principal while Cipriano, Latario, Apelo, Abache, Sumulong and
Madarang were adjudged as accessories only for the crime of illegal possession of drug paraphernalia. The CA
ratiocinated thus:
On the one hand, we sustain the conviction of Rañada in Crim. Case 13784-D. He was actually caught having custody
and control of the confiscated drug paraphenalia intended for smoking, injecting, etc. into one’s body. It was also
indubitably shown that he failed to present authority to possess the prohibited articles, much less, an explanation of his
possession thereof. However, as regards the other accused who were seen in the company of Rañada, the evidence of
conspiracy against them was insufficient.
To hold an accused guilty as co-principal by reason of conspiracy, he must be shown to have performed an overt act in
pursuance or furtherance of the complicity. Responsibility of a conspirator is not confined to the accomplishment of a
particular purpose of conspiracy but extends to collateral acts and offenses incident to and growing out of the purpose
intended.
It may be that appellants Mark Cipriano and Samuel Sherwin Latario and co-accused Melody Apelo, Marwin Abache,
Michael Angelo Sumulong, Jay Madarang were in close proximity [to] Rañada at the time and place of the incident. But
mere presence at the scene of the crime does not imply conspiracy. The prosecution failed to show specific overt acts
that would link these accused to Ranada’s possession of the said contrabands. As to why they were there [in] the
vicinity of the crime scene was not explained. They could be mere innocent onlookers although they were aware of the
illegality of the principal’s acts.
In any event, appellants Cipriano and Latario and the rest of the accused cannot be totally exonerated. [However, we]
downgrade their culpability corresponding to their criminal design and participation. Evidently, they are guilty as
accessories who, according to paragraph 1, Article 19 of the Revised Penal Code, are criminally liable by ‘profiting
themselves or assisting the offender to profit by the effects of the crime’.
We find that the CA erred in convicting Cipriano, Latario, Apelo, Abache, Sumulong and Madarang as accessories. As
pointed out by Justice Arturo D. Brion:
"[I]llegal possession of equipment, instrument, apparatus and other paraphernalia for dangerous drugs during parties,
social gatherings or meetings under Section 14 of R.A. No. 9165 is a crime of malum prohibitum, that is, the act is made
wrong or evil because there is a law prohibiting it. x x x
Since violation of Section 14 of R.A. No. 9165 is a crime of mala prohibita, the degree of participation of the offenders is
not considered. All who perpetrated the prohibited act are penalized to the same extent. There is no principal or
accomplice or accessory to consider. In short, the degree of participation of the offenders does not affect their liability,
and the penalty on all of them are the same whether they are principals or merely accomplices or accessories.
In addition, Section 98 of RA 9165 specifically provides that "[n]otwithstanding any law, rule or regulation to the
contrary, the provisions of the Revised Penal Code (Act No. 3814), as amended, shall not apply to the provisions of this
Act, except in the case of minor offenders. Where the offender is a minor, the penalty for acts punishable by life
imprisonment to death provided herein shall be reclusion perpetua to death." It is therefore clear that the provisions of
the Revised Penal Code, particularly Article 19 on Accessories, cannot be applied in determining the degree of
participation and criminal liability of Ranada’s co-accused.
At any rate, this Court is convinced that only Ranada should be held liable for violation of Section 14 of RA 9165. It is
clear that it was only Ranada who was caught having in his possession an aluminum foil intended for using dangerous
drugs.
As to the other co-accused, namely Apelo, Abache, Cipriano, Latario, Madarang, and Sumulong, not one drug
paraphernalia was found in their possession. The police officers were only able to find the other drug paraphernalia
scattered on top of a table. It is already established that there was no conspiracy between Ranada and the other co-
accused. As the CA correctly held, mere presence at the scene of the crime does not imply conspiracy.
PO2 Noble, when placed on the witness stand, only testified as follows:
A-
While I was checking the item that I bought, I saw several persons inside their house.
Q-
What were these persons doing?
A-
Some were seated, some were standing and there was x x x smoke.
Q-
Where was this smoke coming from?
A-
I did not see where the smoke [was] coming from because some of the persons were blocking [my view].
Q-
About how many persons were inside who were seated and who were standing?
A-
Seven (7).
Q-
Will you tell us if they are male or female or both?
A-
Six (6) male persons and one (1) female.
Q-
What are these persons who were seated inside the house doing?
A-
They were allegedly engaged in drug session.
COURT:
Q-
What do you mean allegedly?
A-
Because there was smoke and I did not see what they were using.
PROSECUTOR PAZ:
Q-
What about those who were standing, what were they doing?
A-
The persons who were standing were looking at the persons who were sitting. I could not see them clearly because
some of them were blocking my view.
Q-
How far were they, those who were seated and those who were standing?
A-
They were close to each other.
Q-
How long did you take a look at these persons inside the house?
A-
Only for a while, only for a glance, sir.
On the other hand, SPO2 Bernardo Cruz testified that it was only Ranada who was caught holding the aluminum foil,
viz:
Q-
How about the aluminum foil that you recovered from another?
A-
I saw him holding the strip of aluminum foil, sir.
Q-
So, nothing was confiscated in the person of all other accused except for Ranada?
A-
Yes, sir.
Therefore, Apelo, Abache, Cipriano, Latario, Madarang, and Sumulong should be acquitted of the charge of violation of
Section 14, RA 9165 on possession of equipment, instrument, apparatus and other paraphernalia for dangerous drugs.
All told, this Court upholds the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties by the police officers
involved in this case. The defense was not able to show by clear and convincing evidence why the presumption should
be overturned. The prosecution, on the other hand, was able to establish that Marcelino, Myra and Ranada committed
the crimes imputed against them, they having been caught in flagrante delicto. This Court, being convinced that the guilt
of Marcelino, Myra, and Ranada have been proven beyond reasonable doubt, must uphold their conviction.
As to Apelo, Abache, Cipriano, Latario, Madarang, and Sumulong, the Court finds that they should be acquitted of the
offense of violation of Section 14, Article II, RA 9165, since the prosecution was not able to clearly show specific overt
acts that would prove that they were in possession of drug paraphernalia.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is PARTLY GRANTED. The February 28, 2008 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
CR-H.C. No. 02626 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that appellants Mark Cipriano and Samuel Sherwin Latario,
including co-accused Melody Apelo, Marwin Abache, Michael Angelo Sumulong, and Jay Madarang are hereby
ACQUITTED of the crime of violation of Section 14, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165. They are ordered released
unless they are being lawfully held for some other cause.
SO ORDERED.
People of the Philippines vs. Armando G. De Lara
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 94953 September 5, 1994


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
ARMANDO DE LARA Y GALARO, accused-appellant.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Tan, Manzano & Velez for accused-appellant.

QUIASON, J.:
This is an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 28, Manila in Criminal Case No. 94953, finding
appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by B.P. Blg. 179.
I
The Information charged appellant as follows:
That on or about January 9, 1987, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, not being authorized by law to
sell, deliver, give away to another or distribute any prohibited drug, did then and there willfully and unlawfully sell or offer
for sale two (2) foils of flowering tops of marijuana and one (1) plastic bag of flowering tops of marijuana, which are
prohibited drugs (Rollo, p. 6).
Upon arraignment, appellant, assisted by his counsel de parte, pleaded not guilty to the information (Records p. 5).
II
On December 15, 1986, Capt. Restituto Cablayan of the National Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) of the Western
Police District (WPD), instructed Sgt. Enrique David to conduct a surveillance operation in the vicinity of Garrido and
Zamora Streets at Sta. Ana, Manila, after receiving reports of rampant drug-pushing in that area (TSN, December 14,
1987, p. 21).
In compliance thereof, a team led by Sgt. Enrique David, conducted a surveillance operation on December 15 and 17,
and confirmed the reported drug-pushing activities in that area by the group of appellant and a certain Ricky alias
"Pilay" (TSN, December 2, 1987, pp. 5-6). No arrest was made because the team was instructed by their superior to
conduct a surveillance operation only (TSN, January 11, 1988, p. 28).
On January 8, 1987, Malaya (Exh. "F") and People's Tonight (Exh. "K"), reported that there were rampant, drug-pushing
activities in the vicinity of Garrido and Zamora Streets in Sta. Ana, Manila, prompting Gen. Alfredo Lim, then WPD
Superintendent, to reprimand the NCIS office (TSN, December 2, 1987, p. 2).
On January 9, because of the reprimand given by Gen. Lim, Capt. Cablayan instructed Sgt. David to plan a buy-bust
operation and to form a
six-man team with Pfc. Martin Orolfo, Jr. as the poseur-buyer (TSN, December 2, 1987, p. 6, January 11, 1988, p. 6).
At around 4:45 P.M. of the same day, the team, together with their confidential informant, went to Garrido Street. Upon
arriving threat, they strategically positioned themselves. Pfc. Orolfo, Jr. and the confidential informant proceeded to the
house of appellant located at No. 2267 Garrido Street, where they saw him standing outside. The confidential informant
introduced Pfc. Orolfo, Jr. to appellant as an interested buyer of marijuana. Appellant asked Pfc. Orolfo, Jr. "Ilan ang
bibilhin ninyo?" (How much will you buy?). Pfc. Orolfo, Jr., replied: "Two foils" handing at the same time the marked
twenty-peso bill (Exh. "E") to appellant. The latter, after placing the money in the right pocket of his pants, went inside
his house (TSN, January 11, 1988, pp. 7-9). Minutes later, appellant came back and handed two foils (Exhs. "D-1-a"
and "D-1-b") wrapped in onion paper (TSN, January 11, 1988, p. 8). It was after he handed the two foils to Pfc. Orolfo
Jr., that he sensed the presence of the police operatives. He then tried to retrieve the two foils but Pfc. Orolfo, Jr.
prevented him from doing so. During the scuffle, one foil was torn. Appellant then ran inside his house with Pfc. Orolfo,
Jr. in pursuit. The latter was able to subdue appellant. Sgt. David confronted appellant, who admitted that he kept
prohibited drugs in his house. Appellant showed the arresting officers a blue plastic bag with white lining containing
prohibited drugs. A receipt of the articles seized (Exh. "F") was made by Pfc. Orolfo, Jr. (TSN, January 11, 1988, pp. 12-
15).
Thereafter, the team, together with appellant, proceeded to the WPD headquarters for investigation. Thereat, Sgt. David
ordered Pfc. Orolfo, Jr. to commence the investigation of appellant (TSN, January 11, 1988, pp. 19-21).
During the investigation, appellant was apprised of his constitutional rights to remain silent and to have the assistance
of counsel. When appellant was asked to give a written statement, he refused to do so pending arrival of his lawyer
(TSN, January 11, 1988, p. 23).
The prohibited drugs seized from appellant were brought to the NBI for chemical analysis. A report and certification of
Ms. Aida Pascual, Forensic Chemist of the NBI (Exhs. "C" and "D"), show the drugs to be positive for marijuana.
Appellant denied having sold marijuana to anyone and claimed that the arresting officers merely planted the marijuana
on his person. He testified that on January 9, 1987, he arrived home from work as a security guard of the Vergara
Brothers Agency at around 3:00 P.M. After changing his clothes, he went out to fetch his son, who was left in the care of
a neighbor. Upon returning to his house with his son, he was arrested by the police. The police proceeded to search his
house, without any search warrant shown to him. After the search, he and his wife were brought to the WPD
headquarters. He claimed that inspite of his protestation that he would like to wait for his lawyer before giving any
statement, the police continued their interrogation.
Appellant denied that the twenty-peso bill was given to him by the poseur-buyer. He claimed that he was merely forced
to sign his name on the photocopy of the twenty-peso bill (Exh. "F") and that the first time he saw the blue plastic bag
containing prohibited drugs was when he was at the police station (TSN, June 14, 1988, pp. 1-11).
To corroborate his story, appellant presented his younger brother, Gerry de Lara.
On October 2, 1989, the trial court rendered its decision, disposing as follows:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Sec 4,
Art II of R.A. 6425 as amended as charged in the Information; and this Court hereby sentences the accused to suffer a
penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P20,000.00 (Rollo, p. 24).
Hence, this appeal.
III
In his appeal, appellant questions the legality of his arrest and the seizure of prohibited drugs found inside his house.
Furthermore, he claims that he was not assisted by counsel during his custodial interrogation (Rollo, pp. 55-57).
As to the legality of appellant's arrest, we find that the police operatives acted within the bounds of law.
Section 5, Rule 113 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedures dealing with warrantless arrests provides:
Arrest without warrant; when lawful. — A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person;
a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an
offense;
b) When an offense has in fact just been committed and he has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person
to be arrested has committed it;
xxx xxx xxx
In the case at bench, appellant was caught red-handed in delivering two tin foils of marijuana to Pat. Orolfo, Jr., the
poseur-buyer. Applying the aforementioned provision of law, appellant's arrest was lawfully effected without need of a
warrant of arrest. "Having caught the appellant in flagrante as a result of the buy-bust operation, the policemen were not
only authorized but were also under obligation to apprehend the drug pusher even without a warrant of arrest" (People
v. Kalubiran, 196 SCRA 644 [1991]; People vs. De Los Santos, 200 SCRA 431 [1991]).
Appellant, however, asseverates that his arrest was precipitated only by newspaper publications about the rampant sale
of drugs along Garrido and Zamora Streets, Sta. Ana, Manila (Rollo, p. 53). If appellant implies that the police merely
stage-managed his arrest in order to show that they were not remiss in their duties, then appellant is wrong. A
surveillance on the illegal activities of the appellant was already conducted by the police as early as December 15 and
17, 1986. The newspaper reports concerning the illegal drug activities came out only on January 8 and 14, 1987, long
after the police knew of the said illegal activities. Appellant's eventual arrest on January 9, 1987 was the result of the
surveillance conducted and the buy-bust operation.
The evidence shows that appellant ran inside his house upon sensing the presence of the police operatives. The
testimony of Pat. Orolfo, Jr., the poseur-buyer, is as follows:
FISCAL:
Q: After placing the P20 bill in his right pocket, what did he do?
A: He went to his house and minutes later, he came back, sir.
Q: When he came back what happened?
A: He handed to me two tin foils containing suspected marijuana leaves wrapped in onion paper.
Q: And what happened next when he returned with those items?
A: After he handed to me two foils, he sensed the presence of the operatives and he tried to retrieve the two foils, sir,
and I prevented him and during the scuffle one piece of foil was broken, he tried to run inside the house, so I subdued
him immediately and apprehended him while he was inside the house.
Q: After he was subdued by your group, what happened?
A: Sgt. David confronted him regarding this case and he voluntarily admitted that he was still keeping prohibited drugs
inside his house?
Q: What did the group do after he voluntarily admitted that he was keeping prohibited drugs inside his house?
A: He pointed inside his house (sic) one plastic bag colored blue with white lining containing prohibited drug" (TSN,
January 11, 1988, pp. 12-14).
The policemen's entry into the house of appellant without a search warrant was in hot-pursuit of a person caught
committing an offense in flagrante. The arrest that followed the hot-pursuit was valid (1985 Rules on Criminal
Procedure, Rule 113, Section 5[a]).
We also find as valid the seizure of the plastic bag of prohibited drugs found inside appellant's house.
The seizure of the plastic bag containing prohibited drugs was the result of appellant's arrest inside his house. A
contemporaneous search may be conducted upon the person of the arrestee and the immediate vicinity where the
arrest was made (People v. Castiller, 188 SCRA 376 [1990]).
We find to be meritorious appellant's claim that he was not assisted by counsel during the custodial investigation,
specifically when he was forced to sign the photocopy of the marked twenty-peso bill (Exh. "E"), Receipt of Property
Seized (Exh. "F"), and the Booking and Information Sheet (Exh. "H").
The said documents are inadmissible in evidence for the reason that there was no showing that appellant was then
assisted by counsel nor his waiver thereto put into writing (Constitution, Art. III, Sec. 3[2]).
Be that as it may, the rejection of said evidence would not affect the conviction of appellant in view of the abundance of
other evidence establishing his guilt. The ruling in People v. Mauyao, 207 SCRA 732 (1992) is apropos:
It bears emphasis, however, that the accused appellant's conformity to the questioned documents has not been a factor
at all in his conviction. For even if these documents were disregarded, still the accused-appellant's guilt has been
adequately established by other evidence of record. The trial court's verdict was based on the evidence of the
prosecution not on his signatures on the questioned documents. Accused-appellant's denial simply can not prevail over
the detailed and unshaken testimonies of the apprehending officers who caught him red-handed selling marijuana and
who have not shown to have any ulterior motive to testify falsely against accused-appellant.
IV
The trial court sentenced appellant to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P20,000.00 pursuant to
Section 4, Article II of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended by B.P. Blg. 179. However, said law was further
amended by R.A. No. 7659.
Under Section 17 of R.A. No. 7659, the penalty to be imposed for selling, administering, delivering or distributing less
than 750 grams of marijuana, shall range from "prision correccional to reclusion perpetuadepending upon the quantity."
Under Section 4 of R.A. No. 7659, the penalty for selling, dispensing, delivering, transporting or distributing marijuana in
excess of 750 grams or more shall be "reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from Five Hundred Thousand
Pesos to Ten Million Pesos."
We noticed that the penalty of reclusion perpetua was imposed by R.A. No. 7659 as the maximum penalty when the
quantity of the marijuana involved in the offense is less than 750 grams and at the same time as the minimum penalty
when the quantity of marijuana involved is 750 grams or more. It is the duty of the Court to harmonize conflicting
provisions to give effect to the whole law (Rufino Lopez and Sons v. Court of Appeals, 100 Phil. 850 [1957]).
Furthermore, one of this Court's primordial responsibilities is to give a statute its sensible construction. This is to
effectuate the intention of the legislature so as to avoid an absurd conclusion with regard to its meaning (Lamb v.
Phipps, 22 Phil. 456 [1912]). Therefore, when the quantity involved is less than 750 grams, Section 17 of R.A. No. 7659
should be read correctly to provide a penalty ranging from prision correccional to reclusion temporal only.
The provision of Article 22 of the Revised Penal Code, which states that "penal laws shall have a retroactive effect
insofar as they favor the person guilty of a felony," finds meaning in this case. Appellant is entitled to benefit from the
reduction of the penalty introduced by R.A. No. 7659.
In order to determine the penalty to be imposed on appellant, we first divide the amount of 750 grams into three to
correspond to the three applicable penalties, namely, prision correccional, prision mayor and reclusion temporal.
If the marijuana involved is from 500 to 749 grams, the penalty to be imposed is reclusion temporal. If the marijuana
involved is from 250 to 499 grams, the penalty to be imposed is prision mayor and if the weight of the marijuana
involved is below 250 grams, the penalty to be imposed is prision correccional.
Since there is no evidence as to the weight of the two foils and one plastic bag of flowering tops of marijuana seized
from appellant, we resolve the doubt in favor of appellant and conclude that the quantity involved was: (i) below 750
grams; and (ii) not less than 250 but not more than 499 grams.
Hence, the maximum penalty that can be imposed on appellant is prision mayor. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence
Law to appellant, who was convicted under a special law (People vs. Macantando, 109 SCRA 35 [1981]), and as such
law was interpreted in People v. Simon, G.R. No. 93028, July 29, 1994, the minimum penalty that can be imposed on
appellant should be within the range of prision correccional.
WHEREFORE, the Decision appealed from is AFFIRMED with the modification that appellant shall suffer an
indeterminate penalty of FOUR (4) years and TWO (2) days of prision correccional, as minimum, to EIGHT (8) years
and ONE (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum.
SO ORDERED.
People of the Philippines, vs. Nasario Molina y Manama, et al.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 133917 February 19, 2001
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
NASARIO MOLINA y MANAMA @ "BOBONG" and GREGORIO MULA y MALAGURA @ "BOBOY", accused-
appellants.
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
To sanction disrespect and disregard for the Constitution in the name of protecting the society from lawbreakers is to
make the government itself lawless and to subvert those values upon which our ultimate freedom and liberty depend. 1
For automatic review is the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 17, in Criminal Case No.
37,264-96, finding accused-appellants Nasario Molina y Manamat alias "Bobong" and Gregorio Mula y
Malagura alias "Boboy," guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 8,3 of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972
(Republic Act No. 6425), as amended by Republic Act No. 7659,4 and sentencing them to suffer the supreme penalty of
death.
The information against accused-appellants reads:
That on or about August 8, 1996, in the City of Davao, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused, in conspiracy with each other, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously was
found in their possession 946.9 grants of dried marijuana which are prohibited.
CONTRARY TO LAW.5
Upon arraignment on September 4, 1996, accused-appellants pleaded not guilty to the accusation against them.6 Trial
ensued, wherein the prosecution presented Police Superintendent Eriel Mallorca, SPO1 Leonardo Y. Pamplona, Jr.,
and SPO1 Marino S. Paguidopon, Jr. as witnesses.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
Sometime in June 1996, SPO1 Marino Paguidopon, then a member of the Philippine National Police detailed at
Precinct No. 3, Matina, Davao City, received an information regarding the presence of an alleged marijuana pusher in
Davao City.7 The first time he came to see the said marijuana pusher in person was during the first week of July 1996.
SPO1 Paguidopon was then with his informer when a motorcycle passed by. His informer pointed to the motorcycle
driver, accused-appellant Mula, as the pusher. As to accused-appellant Molina, SPO1 Paguidopon had no occasion to
see him before the arrest. Moreover, the names and addresses of the accused- appellants came to the knowledge of
SPO1 Paguidopon only after they were arrested.8
At about 7:30 in the morning of August 8, 1996, SPO1 Paguidopon received an information that the alleged pusher will
be passing at NHA, Ma- a, Davao City any time that morning.9 Consequently, at around 8:00 A.M. of the same day, he
called for assistance at the PNP, Precinct No. 3, Matina, Davao City, which immediately dispatched the team of SPO4
Dionisio Cloribel (team leader), SPO2 Paguidopon (brother of SPO1 Marino Paguidopon), and SPO1 Pamplona, to
proceed to the house of SPO1 Marino Paguidopon where they would wait for the alleged pusher to pass by.10
At around 9:30 in the morning of August 8, 1996, while the team were positioned in the house of SPO1 Paguidopon, a
"trisikad" carrying the accused-appellants passed by. At that instance, SPO1 Paguidopon pointed to the accused-
appellants as the pushers. Thereupon, the team boarded their, vehicle and overtook the "trisikad."11 SPO1 Paguidopon
was left in his house, thirty meters from where the accused-appellants were accosted.12
The police officers then ordered the "trisikad" to stop. At that point, accused-appellant Mula who was holding a black
bag handed the same to accused-appellant Molina. Subsequently, SPO1 Pamplona introduced himself as a police
officer and asked accused-appellant Molina to open the bag.13 Molina replied, "Boss, if possible we will settle
this."14 SPO1 Pamplona insisted on opening the bag, which revealed dried marijuana leaves inside. Thereafter;
accused-appellants Mula and Molina were handcuffed by the police officers.15
On December 6, 1996, accused-appellants, through counsel, jointly filed a Demurrer to Evidence, contending that the
marijuana allegedly seized from them is inadmissible as evidence for having been obtained in violation of their
constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures.16 The demurrer was denied by the trial court.17 A
motion for reconsideration was filed by accused-appellants, but this was likewise denied. Accused-appellants waived
presentation of evidence and opted to file a joint memorandum.
On April 25, 1997, the trial court rendered the assailed decision,18 the decretal portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, finding the evidence of the prosecution alone without any evidence from both accused who waived
presentation of their own evidence through their counsels, more than sufficient to prove the guilt of both accused of the
offense charged beyond reasonable doubt, pursuant to Sec. 20, sub. par. 5 of Republic Act 7659, accused NASARIO
MOLINA and GREGORIO MULA, are sentenced to suffer a SUPREME PENALTY OF DEATH through lethal injection
under Republic Act 8176, to be effected and implemented as therein provided for by law, in relation to Sec. 24 of Rep.
Act 7659.
The Branch Clerk of Court of this court, is ordered to immediately elevate the entire records of this case with the Clerk
of Court of the Supreme Court, Manila, for the automatic review of their case by the Supreme Court and its appropriate
action as the case may be.
SO ORDERED.19
Pursuant to Article 47 of the Revised penal Code and Rule 122, Section 10 of the Rules of Court, the case was elevated
to this Court on automatic review. Accused-appellants contend:
I.
THAT THE MARIJUANA IS IN ADMISSIBLE IN EVIDENCE FOR HAVING BEEN SEIZED IN VIOLATION OF
APPELLANTS' CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AGAINST UNREASONABLE, SEARCHES AND SEIZURES;
II.
THAT ASSUMING IT IS ADMISSIBLE IN EVIDENCE, THE GOVERNMENT HAS NOT OTHERWISE PROVED THEIR
GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT; AND
III.
THAT, FINALLY, ASSUMING THEIR GUILT HAS BEEN PROVED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT, THE
IMPOSABLE PENALTY FOR VIOLATION OF SEC. 8 OF RA No. 7659 (sic), IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY
AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE, IS LIFE IMPRISONMENT, NOT DEATH.20
The Solicitor General filed a Manifestation and MO1ion (In Lieu of Brief), wherein he prayed for the acquittal of both
accused-appellants.
The fundamental law of the land mandates that searches and seizures be carried out in a reasonable fashion, that is, by
virtue or on the strength of a search warrant predicated upon the existence of a probable cause. The pertinent provision
of the Constitution provides:
SEC. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable
searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of
arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or
affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched
and the persons or things to be seized.21
Complementary to the foregoing provision is the exclusionary rule enshrined under Article III, Section 3, paragraph 2,
which bolsters and solidifies the protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.22Thus:
Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any
proceeding.
Without this rule, the right to privacy would be a form of words, valueless and undeserving of mention in a perpetual
charter of inestimable human liberties; so too, without this rule, the freedom from state invasions of privacy would be so
ephemeral and so neatly severed from its conceptual nexus with the freedom from all brutish means of coercing
evidence as not to merit this Court's high regard as a freedom implicit in the concept of ordered liberty. 23
The foregoing constitutional proscription, however, is not without exceptions. Search and seizure may be made without
a warrant and the evidence obtained therefrom may be admissible in the following instances: (1) search incident to a
lawful arrest; (2) search of a moving motor vehicle; (3) search in violation of customs laws; (4) seizure of evidence in
plain view; (5) when the accused himself waives his right against unreasonable searches and seizures;24 and (6) stop
and frisk situations (Terry search).25
The first exception (search incidental to a lawful arrest) includes a valid warrantless search and seizure pursuant to an
equally valid warrantless arrest which must precede the search. In this instance, the law requires that there be first a
lawful arrest before a search can be made --- the process cannot be reversed.26 As a rule, an arrest is considered
legitimate if effected with .a valid warrant of arrest. The Rules of Court, however, recognizes permissible warrantless
arrests. Thus, a peace officer or a private person may, without warrant, arrest a person: (a) when, in his presence, the
person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense (arrest in flagrante
delicto); (b) when an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal
knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it (arrest effected in hot pursuit); and
(c) when the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or a 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 to another ( arrest of escaped prisoners ).27
In the case at bar, the court a quo anchored its judgment of conviction on a finding that the warrantless arrest of
accused-appellants, and the subsequent search conducted by the peace officers, are valid because accused-appellants
were caught in flagrante delicto in possession of prohibited drugs.28 This brings us to the issue of whether or not the
warrantless arrest, search and seizure in the present case fall within the recognized exceptions to the warrant
requirement.
In People v. Chua Ho San,29 the Court held that in cases of in flagrante delicto arrests, a peace officer 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 an offense. The arresting officer, therefore, must have personal
knowledge of such fact or, as recent case law adverts to, personal knowledge of facts or circumstances convincingly
indicative or constitutive of probable cause. As discussed in People v. Doria,30 probable cause means an actual belief or
reasonable grounds of suspicion. The grounds of suspicion are reasonable when, in the absence of actual belief of the
arresting officers, the suspicion that the person to be arrested is probably guilty of committing the offense, is based on
actual facts, i.e., supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to create the probable cause of guilt of
the person to be arrested. A reasonable suspicion therefore must be founded on probable cause, coupled with good
faith on the part of the peace officers making the arrest.
As applied to in flagrante delicto arrests, it is settled that "reliable information" alone, absent any overt act indicative of a
felonious enterprise in the presence and within the view of the arresting officers, are not sufficient to constitute probable
cause that would justify an in flagrante delicto arrest. Thus, in People v. Aminnudin,31 it was held that "the accused-
appellant was not, at the moment of his arrest, committing a crime nor was it shown that he was about to do so or that
he had just done so. What he was doing was descending the gangplank of the MNWilcon 9 and there was no outward
indication that called for his arrest. To all appearances, he was like any of the other passengers innocently
disembarking from the vessel. It was only when the informer pointed to him as the carrier of the marijuana that he
suddenly became suspect and so subject to apprehension."
Likewise, in People v. Mengote,32 the Court did not consider "eyes... darting from side to side :.. [while] holding ...
[one's] abdomen", in a crowded street at 11:30 in the morning, as overt acts and circumstances sufficient to arouse
suspicion and indicative of probable cause. According to the Court, "[b]y no stretch of the imagination could it have been
inferred from these acts that an offense had just been committed, or was actually being committed or was at least being
attempted in [the arresting officers'] presence." So also, in People v. Encinada,33 the Court ruled that no probable cause
is gleanable from the act of riding a motorelawhile holding two plastic baby chairs.
Then, too, in Malacat v. Court of Appeals,34 the trial court concluded that petitioner was attempting to commit a crime as
he was "`standing at the comer of Plaza Miranda and Quezon Boulevard' with his eyes 'moving very fast' and 'looking at
every person that come (sic) nearer (sic) to them.'"35 In declaring the warrantless arrest therein illegal, the Court said:
Here, there could have been no valid in flagrante delicto ... arrest preceding the search in light of the lack of personal
knowledge on the part of V u, the arresting officer, or an overt physical act, on the part of petitioner, indicating that a
crime had just been committed, was being committed or was going to be committed.36
It went on to state that -
Second, there was nothing in petitioner's behavior or conduct which could have reasonably elicited even mere suspicion
other than that his eyes were "moving very fast" - an observation which leaves us incredulous since Yu and his
teammates were nowhere near petitioner and it was already 6:30 p.m., thus presumably dusk. Petitioner and his
companions were merely standing at the comer and were not creating any commotion or trouble...
Third, there was at all no ground, probable or otherwise, to believe that petitioner was armed with a deadly weapon.
None was visible to Yu, for as he admitted, the alleged grenade was "discovered" "inside the front waistline" of
petitioner, and from all indications as to the distance between Yu and petitioner, any telltale bulge, assuming that
petitioner was indeed hiding a grenade, could not have been visible to Yu.37
Clearly, to constitute a valid in flagrante delicto arrest, two requisites must concur: (1) the person to be arrested must
execute an overt act indicating that he has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime;
and (2) such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.38
In the case at bar, accused-appellants manifested no outward indication that would justify their arrest. In holding a bag
on board a trisikad,accused-appellants could not be said to be committing, attempting to commit or have committed a
crime. It matters not that accused-appellant Molina responded "Boss, if possible we will settle this" to the request of
SPO1 Pamplona to open the bag. Such response which allegedly reinforced the "suspicion" of the arresting officers that
accused-appellants were committing a crime, is an equivocal statement which standing alone will not constitute
probable cause to effect an inflagrante delicto arrest. Note that were it not for SPO1 Marino Paguidopon (who did not
participate in the arrest but merely pointed accused-appellants to the arresting officers), accused-appellants could not
be the subject of any suspicion, reasonable or otherwise.
While SPO1 Paguidopon claimed that he and his informer conducted a surveillance of accused-appellant Mula, SPO1
Paguidopon, however, admitted that he only learned Mula's name and address after the arrest. What is more, it is
doubtful if SPO1 Paguidopon indeed recognized accused-appellant Mula. It is worthy to note that, before the arrest, he
was able to see Mula in person only once, pinpointed to him by his informer while they were on the side of the road.
These circumstances could not have afforded SPO1 Paguidopon a closer look at accused-appellant Mula, considering
that the latter was then driving a motorcycle when, SPO1 Paguidopon caught a glimpse of him. With respect to
accused-appellant Molina, SPO1 Paguidopon admitted that he had never seen him before the arrest.
This belies the claim of SPO1 Pamplona that he knew the name of accused-appellants even before the arrest, to wit -
"Q- When you said that certain Mula handed a black bag to another person and how did you know that it was Mula
who handed the black bag to another person?
A- Because I have already information from Paguidopon, regarding Mula and Molina, when they pass by through
the street near the residence of Paguidopon. He told that the one who is big one that is Gregorio Mula and the thin one
is Nazario Molina"39
The aforecited testimony of SPO1 Pamplona, therefore, is entirely baseless SPO1 Pamplona could not have learned
the name of accused-appellants from SPO1 Paguipodon because Paguipodon himself, who allegedly conducted the
surveillance, was not even aware of accused-appellants' name and address prior to the arrest.
Evidently, SPO1 Paguidopon, who acted as informer of the arresting officers, more so the arresting officers themselves,
could not have been certain of accused-appellants' identity, and were, from all indications, merely fishing for evidence at
the time of the arrest.
Compared to People v. Encinada, the arresting officer in the said case knew appellant Encinada even before the arrest
because of the latter's illegal gambling activities, thus, lending at least a semblance of validity on the arrest effected by
the peace officers. Nevertheless, the Court declared in said case that the warrantless arrest and the consequent search
were illegal, holding that "[t]he prosecution's evidence did not show any suspicious behavior when the appellant
disembarked from the ship or while he rode the motorela. No act or fact demonstrating a felonious enterprise could be
ascribed to appellant under such bare circumstances."40
Moreover, it could not be said that accused-appellants waived their right against unreasonable searches and seizure.
Implied acquiescence to the search, if there was any, could not have been more than mere passive conformity given
under intimidating or coercive circumstances and is thus considered no consent at all within the purview of the
constitutional guarantee.41
Withal, the Court holds that the arrest of accused-appellants does not fall under the exceptions allowed by the rules.
Hence, the search conducted on their person was likewise illegal. Consequently, the marijuana seized by the peace
officers could not be admitted as evidence against accused-appellants, and the Court is thus, left with no choice but to
find in favor of accused-appellants.
While the Court strongly supports the campaign of the government against drug addiction and commends the efforts of
our law-enforcement officers towards this drive, all efforts for the achievement of a drug-free society must not encroach
on the fundamental rights and liberties of individuals as guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, which protection extends even
to the basest of criminals.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 17, in Criminal Case No. 37, 264-96,
is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. For lack of evidence to establish their guilt beyond reasonable doubt, accused-
appellants Nasario Molina y Manamat alias "Bobong" and Gregorio Mula y Malagura alias "Boboy",
are ACQUITTED and ordered RELEASED from confinement unless they are validly detained for other offenses. No
costs.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-
Reyes, Ynares-Santiago, De Leon, Jr., and Sandoval-Gutierrez, JJ., concur.

People of the Philippines vs. Rolando Delos Reyes y Santos and Raymund Reyes y Guizon
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 174774 August 31, 2011
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,
vs.
ROLANDO S. DELOS REYES, alias "Botong," and RAYMUNDO G. REYES, alias "Mac-Mac," Accused-Appellants.
DECISION
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
On appeal is the Decision1 dated July 12, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 01733, which affirmed
with modification the Decision2 dated September 23, 2003 of Branch 214 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Mandaluyong City in Criminal Case No. MC-00-2375-D. The Court of Appeals found accused-appellants Rolando S.
delos Reyes and Raymundo G. Reyes (Reyes) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 21 of Article IV, in
relation to Section 16 of Article III, of Republic Act No. 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, and
imposing upon them the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
The following antecedent facts are culled from the records:
On February 17, 2000, accused-appellants Rolando S. delos Reyes and Raymundo G. Reyes, Emmanuel de Claro,
and Mary Jane Lantion-Tom (Lantion-Tom) were all arrested for illegal possession, sale, delivery, distribution, and/or
transportation of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, a regulated drug commonly known as shabu. The Office of the City
Prosecutor of Mandaluyong City, in its Resolution dated March 3, 2000, found probable cause to indict accused-
appellants, together with Emmanuel de Claro, for violation of Republic Act No. 6425, and resolved to continue the
preliminary investigation in so far as Lantion-Tom was concerned. The criminal information against accused-appellants
and Emmanuel de Claro, filed with the RTC, reads:
The undersigned 2nd Asst. City Prosecutor accuses ROLANDO DELOS REYES y SANTOS @ BOTONG, RAYMUNDO
REYES y GUINZON @ MAC-MAC and EMMANUEL DE CLARO y ENRIQUEZ @ COCOY of the crime of VIOLATION
OF SEC. 21 ART. IV IN REL. TO SEC. 16 ART. III OF R.A. 6425 AS AMENDED, committed in the manner herein
narrated as follows:
That on or about the 17th day of February, 2000, in the City of Mandaluyong, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not being lawfully authorized to possess any regulated drug,
conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping and aiding one another, commit to sell, deliver, distribute
and/or transport a carton of ten (10) heat-sealed transparent plastic bags containing white crystalline substance with the
following grams, to wit: 99.2, 94.9, 99.6, 93.5, 98.3, 99.5, 99.6, 99.5, 98.4 and 98.4 grams or a total of 980.9 grams,
which substance when submitted for drug examination, were found positive to the test for Methamphetamine
Hydrochloride, commonly known as "shabu," a regulated drug, without the corresponding license and prescription.3
On March 7, 2000, accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes, Emmanuel de Claro, and Lantion-Tom, insisting on their
innocence, moved for a reinvestigation of their case before the RTC, which said trial court granted in an Order4 dated
March 15, 2000.
After the reinvestigation, the Office of the City Prosecutor issued a Resolution dated April 3, 2000, recommending that
the RTC proceed with the indictment of accused-appellant Reyes and Emmanuel de Claro, and dismiss the charges
against accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes and Lantion-Tom. The Office of the City Prosecutor considered the
different versions of events presented by the parties during the preliminary investigation and reinvestigation (except
accused-appellant Reyes who did not participate in the proceedings), which it summarized as follows:
In their Joint Affidavit of Arrest, the arresting officers, members of the Intelligence and Investigation of the Regional
Mobile Group (RMG) of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) claims that on 17 February 2000 a
confidential informant called up relative to a narcotics drug deal to commence at the vicinity of the parking area of
Shangrila Plaza Hotel, Mandaluyong City; that they were dispatched to verify the reports and conduct police operations;
that about 2:00 p.m. after meeting with the confidential agent, they strategically positioned themselves at the vicinity
parking area of said hotel; that about 10:00 p.m., accused/respondent Reyes a.k.a. Mac-Mac, on board a white Toyota
Corolla, and accused/respondent [Rolando] delos Reyes, a.k.a. "Botong," on board a red Toyota Corolla, arrived with
accused/respondent Reyes subsequently proceeding inside Whistletop Bar and Restaurant, and accused/respondent
[Rolando] delos Reyes calling accused/respondent [Emmanuel] de Claro through his cellular phone; that
accused/respondent [Rolando] delos Reyes and [Emmanuel] de Claro then proceeded to the latter’s parked Mazda car
where respondent Lantion-Tom was waiting; from the parked car, a box in transparent plastic bag was taken, which
accused/respondent [Emmanuel] de Claro handed-over to accused/respondent [Rolando] delos Reyes;
accused/respondent [Rolando] delos Reyes in turn handed the box in a plastic bag to accused/respondent Reyes; that
the arresting officers accosted the accused/respondents who according to the arresting officers admitted having in their
possession illegal drugs; that the recovered items containing ten (10) pcs. of heat sealed transparent plastic bags of
white crystalline substance with a total weight of 980.9 grams turned positive to the test for methylamphetamine
hydrochloride or shabu, a regulated drug.
In his "Sinumpaang Kontra-Salaysay," accused/respondent [Rolando] delos Reyes claims that on 17 February 2000, he
went to Buenas Market, Manggahan, Pasig City, together with a neighbor, one Marlon David, to talk to Raymundo
Reyes who was to pay his indebtedness; that while looking for a parking space, several men with firearms suddenly
appeared, with one shouting, "buksan mo ang pintuan ng sasakyan at kung hindi babasagin ko ito"; that he and Marlon
David were forced out of their vehicle with one of the armed men bringing out a plastic shopping bag of Shoe Mart,
asking where the said bag allegedly containing "shabu" came from; that accused/respondent [Rolando] delos Reyes
answered "hindi ko alam," that he and Marlon David were blindfolded when forcibly taken to the group’s vehicle and
continuously asked who the source of the shabu was, with respondent/accused [Rolando] delos Reyes replying, "hindi
ko alam at wala akong kinalaman diyan;" that Marlon David was separated from accused/respondent [Rolando] delos
Reyes and later released on 18 February 2000; that when accused/respondent [Rolando] delos Reyes’ blindfold was
removed, he found himself at Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig, Metro Manila.
xxxx
To confirm respondent/accused [Rolando] delos Reyes’ claim, that he was arrested in Brgy. Manggahan, Pasig City,
and not in the vicinity of Whistletop Bar and Restaurant in Mandaluyong City, respondent/accused [Emmanuel] de
Claro’s spouse submitted a certified true xerox copy of barangay blotter of Barangay Manggahan, Pasig City, reflecting
the entry on 19 February 2000 made by Mrs. Delos Reyes, on the incident reported to by Marlon David thus:
"BLOTTER"
"Dumulog po rito sa himpilan ng Punong Barangay si Gng. Virginia Delos Reyes, upang ipagbigay alam ang pagkawala
ng kanyang asawa na si Mr. Rolando delos Reyes, nuong petsa 17 ng Pebrero taong dalawang libo (2000) na ayon sa
batang pamangkin na si Marlon David, ay hinuli ng mga hindi kilalang lalaki sa Buenas Market, Manggahan, Pasig City
nais niyang alamin kung ang nasabing insidente ay coordinated dito sa himpilan o tanggapan ng Barangay."
(Sgd) Virginia delos Reyes
Nagpapahayag"
The blotter was apparently made after Marlon David informed Mrs. [Virginia] Delos Reyes of the incident upon his
release on 18 February 2000. Another witness, one Joel Navarro, claims having seen the actual incident confirming the
events as narrated to by accused/respondent [Rolando] delos Reyes and Marlon David.
Accused/respondent [Emmanuel] de Claro and his common law wife, respondent Lantion-Tom, submitted their separate
Counter-Affidavits jointly denying the charges and claiming that they were at the Whistlestop Bar and Restaurant to talk
to respondent Lantion-Tom’s accountant Ms. Daisy Milan regarding the Mayor’s Permit, Business Location Clearance
issued by the Office of the Barangay Captain, insurance documents, BIR Certificate of Registration of her business; that
they were with accused/respondent [Emmanuel] de Claro’s brother, Roberto and a friend, James, with the two
remaining outside the restaurant; that respondent Lantion-Tom went to accompany Ms. Milan, while
accused/respondent [Emmanuel] de Claro was left inside; that after Ms. Milan left, respondent Lantion-Tom was
suddenly surrounded by men who introduced themselves as police officers and were arresting them for being the
source of "shabu" in a drug deal; that all of them, accused/respondent [Emmanuel] de Claro, Roberto and James were
likewise arrested and continuously questioned on their complicity in the drug deal; that they were taken to Camp
Bagong Diwa, Taguig, Metro Manila and subjected to further investigation; that Roberto and James were released the
following day. Both respondents maintain that the allegations of the arresting officers as to the circumstances on the
alleged "drug deal" leading to their arrest are unfounded and purely fabricated.
During the preliminary investigation proceedings on 21 March 2000, the arresting officers manifested that they are going
to submit reply-affidavit on 29 March 2000. However, no such reply-affidavit was submitted.5
The Office of the City Prosecutor pointed out that the arresting police officers failed to refute accused-appellant Rolando
delos Reyes’ counter-allegation that he was not arrested at Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong City, but he was illegally
arrested without warrant at Buenas Market in Cainta, Rizal, as corroborated by Marlon David and Joel Navarro
(Navarro) in their respective sworn statements (Sinumpaang Salaysay) dated March 14, 2000. The Office of the City
Prosecutor also observed that Lantion-Tom was "merely in the company of the other respondents without performing
any overt act showing her to be part of the illicit transaction" and her drug test revealed negative results. On the other
hand, it considered the conflicting claims of Emmanuel de Claro (i.e., that he was illegally arrested and that the drug
deal was a mere fabrication) and the arresting officers (i.e., that Emmanuel de Claro was the seller/pusher in the drug
deal and the shabu was seized from his vehicle) would be best ventilated during the trial on the merits.
In accordance with the foregoing resolution, the prosecution filed with the RTC a motion with leave of court to admit
amended information.
In its Order6 dated April 4, 2000, the RTC denied the prosecution’s motion. Contrary to the finding of the Office of the
City Prosecutor, the RTC adjudged that probable cause exists not only against accused-appellant Reyes and
Emmanuel de Claro, but accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes as well.
Accused-appellants were arraigned on May 23, 2000,7 while Emmanuel de Claro was arraigned on July 12, 2000.8 All
three pleaded not guilty. After the pre-trial conference, trial ensued.
The prosecution presented in evidence the testimonies of Police Officer(PO) 3 Virgilio Santiago,9Senior Police
Officer (SPO) 1 Eraldo Lectura,10PO3 Angel Yumul,11 and SPO1 Benjamin David,12 members of the Regional Mobile
Group (RMG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) who
apprehended and/or investigated the case against accused-appellants, Emmanuel de Claro, and Lantion-Tom; and
P/Insp. Benjamin Cruto, Jr.13 (Cruto), the forensic chemist of the PNP Crime Laboratory.
PO3 Santiago was one of the police officers who arrested Emmanuel de Claro and Lantion-Tom on February 17. 2000.
He testified that at around 10:30 a.m., their operation chief, Major Arnold Aguilar, received information from a
confidential informant regarding an illegal drug deal that would take place between Botong and Mac-Mac at the parking
lot of Shangri-La Plaza in Madaluyong City. Botong and Mac-Mac were identified during the investigation as accused-
appellants Rolando delos Reyes and Reyes, respectively.
As narrated by PO3 Santiago, a team to bust the illegal drug deal was organized by Major Aguilar, composed of PO3
Santiago himself, SPO1 Lectura, and PO3 Yumul, along with PO3 Elmer Corbe, PO3 Marcelo Arcancia, Jr., PO3 Randy
Fuentes, PO3 Dennis Padpad, and PO3 Edwin dela Cruz. At around 1:00 p.m. of the same day, the police team was
dispatched, using four vehicles, to the location of the drug deal and upon arrival, they waited for the confidential
informant to arrive. When the confidential informant arrived at around 3:30 p.m., he told the police team that the drug
deal would possibly take place between 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., and that the suspects would utilize a red Toyota
Corolla with plate number TRP-868 and a white Toyota Corolla with plate number ULF-706. The police team then
positioned their cars strategically in such a way that they could see the vehicles coming from St. Francis Street and
EDSA.
PO3 Santiago further recounted that at around 10:00 p.m., the suspected vehicles arrived, both stopping along the
driveway of Shangri-La Plaza. The drivers of the vehicles alighted and talked to each other. The confidential informant
recognized the driver of the white Toyota car as Mac-Mac and the driver of the red Toyota car as Botong. After a few
minutes, Botong made a call on his cellular phone and then proceeded inside Whistle Stop Restaurant, leaving Mac-
Mac behind. Inside the restaurant, Botong talked to another person, who was identified during the investigation as
Emmanuel de Claro alias Cocoy. PO3 Santiago was about three to five meters away. Thereafter, Botong and Cocoy
went out of the restaurant and approached a car parked right outside. The person at the back seat of the car, later on
identified as Lantion-Tom, handed to Cocoy a white plastic bag containing a box. Cocoy gave the bag to Botong, who,
in turn, handed the same bag to Mac-Mac. In the meantime, Cocoy went back inside the restaurant.
PO3 Santiago related that their team leader "sensed" that the drug deal had already been consummated, so the police
team immediately effected the arrest of the suspected drug dealers. PO3 Santiago and PO3 Yumul arrested Cocoy and
Lantion-Tom, while SPO1 Lectura and the remaining police team members arrested Botong and Mac-Mac. The plastic
bag containing the box was seized from Mac-Mac. The arrested suspects were brought to the police office for
investigation. The plastic bag, the box, and the 10 heat-sealed sachets of white crystalline substance inside the box,
were marked for identification and physical examination at the police office.
According to PO3 Santiago, the physical examination of the contents of each of the 10 heat-sealed sachets yielded
positive test results for methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu. PO3 Santiago then signed a Joint Affidavit of Arrest
dated February 18, 2000 together with the other arresting police officers, namely, SPO1 Lectura, PO3 Corbe, PO3
Arcancia, PO3 Fuentes, and PO3 Nelson Gene Javier.
On cross-examination, PO3 Santiago admitted that he did not actually see what was inside the plastic bag and that he
did not even see Botong hand over such plastic bag to Mac-Mac. From PO3 Santiago’s position, he could not conclude
that the suspects were committing an illegal drug deal as he had no prior knowledge of the contents of the plastic bag,
and that he and the other arresting officers just relied on the information relayed by the confidential informant. Also, the
police team did not recover any money from the arrested suspects. The confidential informant merely informed the
police the following morning that the money for the illegal drugs was already deposited in the bank. The police,
however, failed to make further queries from the confidential informant about the bank.
SPO1 Lectura related that their office received a telephone call from a confidential informant about an illegal drug deal
involving Cocoy, Botong, and Mac-Mac in the vicinity of Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong City on February 17, 2000.
SPO1 Lectura was designated as the leader of the team that will bust said illegal drug deal. After the briefing, SPO1
Lectura’s team proceeded to the subject location.
The confidential informant arrived and met SPO1 Lectura’s team at around 3:30 p.m. SPO1 Lectura conducted a short
briefing then positioned his team strategically within the vicinity. The confidential informant told the police team that the
drug deal would take place between 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. At around 10:00 p.m., the confidential informant identified
the suspected drug dealers Botong and Mac-Mac, who were arriving in two cars. After conversing for a moment with
Mac-Mac, Botong went inside Whistle Stop Restaurant to talk to Cocoy. Botong and Cocoy then went outside the
restaurant and approached another car. Cocoy took a white plastic bag from the car, which he handed to Botong.
Thereafter, Cocoy went back inside the restaurant, while "[Botong] proceeded to his car near [Mac-Mac]." SPO1
Lectura was positioned at the other lane of the road, approximately 10 to 15 meters away from the suspects. At that
moment, SPO1 Lectura "sensed" that the drug deal had been consummated, so he decided to already arrest the
suspects. SPO1 Lectura arrested Mac-Mac, from whom he seized the white plastic bag. PO3 Yumul and PO3 Padpad
arrested Botong; and PO3 Santiago apprehended Cocoy. The police team brought the arrested suspects to the police
office for investigation.
SPO1 Lectura submitted to SPO1 David the white plastic bag containing a box with 10 heat-sealed plastic sachets
inside. In front of SPO1 Lectura, SPO1 David marked the said articles with his initials. After physical and chemical
examinations revealed that the contents of the sachets were shabu, SPO1 Lectura signed the Joint Affidavit of Arrest
dated February 18, 2000.
During cross-examination, SPO1 Lectura initially denied that Marlon David was with Botong when the latter was
arrested, but he later admitted that the police also arrested Marlon David. Marlon David was brought to Camp Bagong
Diwa, Taguig, together with the other arrested suspects, for "verification," and was released the following day. SPO1
Lectura also admitted that during the preliminary investigation, he and PO3 Corbe, PO3 Arcancia, and PO3 Javier,
answered that it was PO3 Santiago who seized the shabu from Mac-Mac; but SPO1 Lectura explained that what the
investigating prosecutor actually asked during preliminary investigation was who saw where the shabu came from and
that he signed the minutes of the preliminary investigation without reading the same. SPO1 Lectura maintained that it
was he who recovered the shabu from Mac-Mac. Lastly, SPO1 Lectura acknowledged that his team heavily relied on
the information given by the confidential informant in identifying the suspects in the illegal drug deal, who were
eventually arrested.
PO3 Yumul substantially narrated the same version of events as that of PO3 Santiago and SPO1 Lectura. On February
17, 2000, he was assigned at the Intelligence Investigation Division of the RMG based in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan,
Taguig. He was with SPO1 Lectura, PO3 Santiago, PO3 Fuentes, PO3 Padpad, and several other police officers at the
vicinity of Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong City, conducting surveillance operation regarding the tipped-off illegal drug
deal. He was with SPO1 Lectura and PO3 Padpad in the car parked in front of Shangri-La Plaza, while PO3 Fuentes,
PO3 Dela Cruz, and their confidential informant were in another car also parked along the driveway of Shangri-La
Plaza. PO3 Santiago, PO3 Arcancia, and PO3 Corbe were in the car stationed in front of Whistle Stop Restaurant. PO3
Yumul could not recall where the other members of the team were located.
At around 10:00 p.m., the suspects Botong and Mac-Mac arrived in separate cars, stopping in front of Shangri-La Plaza.
Botong and Mac-Mac alighted from their cars and talked to each other. At that time, PO3 Yumul was about five meters
away from the two suspects. Moments later, Botong called someone on his cellular phone, and then went inside Whistle
Stop Restaurant, leaving Mac-Mac behind. PO3 Yumul followed Botong inside the restaurant and saw the latter talking
to Cocoy. PO3 Yumul though did not hear the conversation between Botong and Cocoy. Afterwards, Botong and Cocoy
went out of the restaurant and approached a parked car. From his position about three meters away, PO3 Yumul saw
the passenger at the back seat of the car, Lantion-Tom, opening the window and handing over "a white plastic bag with
carton inside" to Cocoy, who, in turn, gave the plastic bag to Botong. Cocoy then returned inside the restaurant and
"[Botong] went back to [Mac-Mac]." PO3 Yumul followed Cocoy inside the restaurant. A few minutes later, PO3
Santiago also went inside the restaurant informing PO3 Yumul that they would be arresting Cocoy, and that Botong and
Mac-Mac were already arrested outside the restaurant. PO3 Santiago, assisted by PO3 Yumul, approached Cocoy and
arrested him. The police team proceeded to the police office with all the arrested suspects for further investigation. PO3
Yumul, however, failed to join the other arresting officers in signing the Joint Affidavit of Arrest dated February 18, 2000.
SPO1 David was an investigator at the Intelligence and Investigation Section of the RMG at Camp Bagong Diwa,
Bicutan, Taguig, assigned to the instant case following the arrests of accused-appellants, Emmanuel de Claro and
Lantion-Tom. He also referred the case for inquest to the Office of the City Prosecutor.
SPO1 David testified that on February 17, 2000, he received from SPO1 Lectura a plastic bag containing a box with 10
heat-sealed sachets of suspected shabu inside. SPO1 Lectura told SPO1 David that the articles were seized from the
suspected drug dealers. SPO1 David marked his initials "BSD" on the confiscated articles, then prepared a request to
the PNP Crime Laboratory for examination of the specimens. SPO1 David disclosed that he prepared the Affidavit of
Arrest of the arresting officers.
The last witness for the prosecution was P/Insp. Cruto of the PNP Crime Laboratory. P/Insp. Cruto was the forensic
chemist who conducted the physical, chemical, and confirmatory examinations of the contents of the 10 heat-sealed
plastic sachets submitted by the RMG-NCRPO on February 18, 2000.
P/Insp. Cruto conducted the physical examination by weighing the contents of each sachet, revealing that two sachets
weighed 99.6 grams each; two sachets, 99.5 grams each; one sachet, 99.2 grams; two sachets, 98.4 grams each; one
sachet, 98.3 grams; one sachet, 94.9 grams; and one sachet, 93.5 grams. P/Insp. Cruto then took a representative
sample from each plastic sachet and proceeded with his chemical and confirmatory examinations. The contents of the
10 heat-sealed plastic sachets all tested positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride, otherwise known as shabu.
P/Insp. Cruto recorded the result of the examinations in his Physical Sciences Report No. D-097-2000.14
The prosecution submitted the following object and documentary evidence: the Joint Affidavit of Arrest 15 dated February
18, 2000 signed by SPO1 Lectura, PO3 Santiago, PO3 Corbe, PO3 Arcancia, PO3 Dela Cruz and PO3 Javier; the
Sketch prepared in open court by SPO1 Lectura;16 the 10 heat-sealed plastic sachets recovered from the possession of
accused-appellants;17 the PNP-RMG Request for Laboratory Examination of the contents of the 10 heat-sealed plastic
sachets;18 the PNP Crime Laboratory Physical Sciences Report No. D-097-2000 dated February 18, 2000 which
revealed that the contents of the 10 heat-sealed plastic sachets positively tested for methamphetamine
hydrochloride;19 and the Letter (Referral of the case to the Office of the City Prosecutor)20 dated February 18, 2000. The
RTC admitted all the aforementioned evidence for the prosecution in its Order21 dated March 1, 2001.
The defense, on the other hand, presented the testimonies of Marlon David,22 accused-appellant Rolando delos
Reyes,23 Emmanuel de Claro,24 Roberto de Claro,25 and Mary Jane Lantion-Tom.26 Accused-appellant Reyes did not
testify.
Marlon David was 17 years old and a fourth year high school student of Rizal High School in Pasig City. He recalled
that on February 17, 2000, at about 1:00 p.m., he accompanied accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes, whom he
referred to as Kuya Botong, to the Buenas Market in Cainta, Rizal, to collect some money.
While accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes and Marlon David were inside their car at the parking area of said
market, another car suddenly arrived, from which an armed male passenger alighted and approached them. Four other
armed men followed and poked their guns at accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes and Marlon David. The armed
men, in civilian attire, were carrying an SM plastic shopping bag and questioned accused-appellant Rolando delos
Reyes if he knew the owner of said plastic bag. Accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes denied any knowledge about
the plastic bag. Marlon David was also asked and he answered that he knew nothing about the plastic bag.
Thereafter, the armed men, who later introduced themselves as police officers, pulled accused-appellant Rolando delos
Reyes from the driver seat of the latter’s car, transferred him and Marlon David to the back seat of said car, and
blindfolded both of them. Two of the armed men sat in the front seats of the car, while one of them sat at the back,
beside accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes and Marlon David. The armed men drove the car around (paikot-ikot).
The armed men then separated accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes from Marlon David. They ordered Marlon
David to alight from the car and transfer to another vehicle. While in the other car, the armed men boxed and mauled
Marlon David to force him to admit to be the source of the plastic bag. Each question was accompanied with one punch.
Marlon David remained blindfolded until they arrived at the police camp in Bicutan, Taguig, where he again saw
accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes. Marlon David was released the following morning, leaving accused-appellant
Rolando delos Reyes behind at the police camp. Marlon David went home and told Virginia delos Reyes, the wife of
accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes, about the incident.
Marlon David, during his cross examination, denied knowing any person with the name Mac-Mac. Marlon David
additionally relayed that he was told by accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes that the latter was likewise mauled by
the armed men.
Accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes or Botong gave a similar account of the incident that took place at 1:00 p.m.
on February 17, 2000, while he and Marlon David were at the Buenas Market in Cainta, Rizal. Their car was surrounded
by four armed men. The armed men poked their guns at him and Marlon David, shouting at them to open the car doors.
He lowered the car window and the armed men opened the car door. The armed men forced him and Marlon David to
get down from the front seats of the car and to transfer to the back seat, blindfolded them, and asked them who were
the owners of the SM plastic bag. After they left Buenas Market, he noticed that they were just driving around. The car
stopped only when Marlon David was taken out and transferred to another car. It was already late in the evening when
the car finally stopped. He then realized, after his blindfold had been removed, that he was at Camp Bagong Diwa in
Bicutan, Taguig.
Accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes denied the accusation of the police that he was selling or delivering shabu to
anyone. He asserted that he was not arrested at Whistle Stop restaurant in Mandaluyong City, rather, he was illegally
arrested at Buenas Market in Cainta, Rizal. Accused-appellant Reyes or Mac-Mac was his friend who owed him money.
He and accused-appellant Reyes agreed to meet at Buenas Market for the settlement of the latter’s loan, but the
meeting did not take place because the armed men arrived. He further claimed that he only met Emmanuel de Claro at
Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig. He never knew Emmanuel de Claro before that time, and he found out the
latter’s name only when they were already detained at the Mandaluyong City Jail.
Emmanuel de Claro or Cocoy testified that on February 17, 2000 at around 10:00 a.m., he was at the Department of
Trade and Industry in Buendia, Makati City, with his common-law wife Mary Jane Lantion-Tom to follow up their
application for business permit. At around 1:00 p.m., they had lunch at Glorietta. Emmanuel de Claro was no longer
feeling well so he and Lantion-Tom passed by the house of his brother Roberto de Claro to request the latter to drive for
them. James, Roberto de Claro’s friend, also went with them.
The vehicle driven by Emmanuel de Claro was a rented car because his own car was in the auto shop. Emmanuel de
Claro, Lantion-Tom, Roberto de Claro, and James first went to Las Piñas City to check on Emmanuel de Claro’s car at
the auto shop. From there, they proceeded to Libertad in Pasay City and ate dinner at the Duty Free Philippines.
Afterwards, the group made their way to Mandaluyong City where Lantion-Tom had a scheduled appointment with
Daisy Milan (Milan), her accountant. Emmanuel de Claro and Lantion-Tom met Milan at Whistle Stop Restaurant
located at Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong City. Milan and Lantion-Tom discussed matters pertaining to the business
permit. Emmanuel de Claro stepped outside the restaurant for a moment to smoke a cigarette, then, returned inside to
wait for the meeting between Lantion-Tom and Milan to finish. After their meeting, Lantion-Tom walked Milan outside
the restaurant, while Emmanuel de Claro waited for Lantion-Tom inside.
Three male persons suddenly approached Emmanuel de Claro and introduced themselves as police officers. They
warned Emmanuel de Claro not to make a scene and just go with them peacefully. Emmanuel de Claro obeyed. He was
brought outside the restaurant and was forced to get into a waiting car. For about three hours inside the car, he was
punched, handcuffed, blindfolded, and told to bow down his head. He was likewise being forced to admit something
about the shabu, but he denied knowing anything about it. He heard from the radio inside the car that the police officers
were waiting for another car. After three hours of traveling, the car finally stopped and when his blindfold was removed,
he learned that they were already at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig.
Emmanuel de Claro was placed in one room where he stayed for almost an hour, until he was called into another room
where he met his co-accused for the first time. He later saw Lantion-Tom at the office of one of the police officers. They
were interrogated by the police and being forced to admit that the drugs being shown to them belonged to them. They
asked for a lawyer but their plea was ignored. The police told Emmanuel de Claro and Lantion-Tom that somebody
should be held responsible for the shabu so they were made to choose whether both of them or only one of them would
be charged. Emmanuel de Claro was compelled to choose the latter option.
Roberto de Claro corroborated Emmanuel de Claro’s testimony. On February 17, 2000, Roberto de Claro was at home
playing video games when his brother Emmanuel de Claro and the latter’s wife, Lantion-Tom, arrived and requested
him to drive their car because Emmanuel was not feeling well. James, Roberto de Claro’s friend, rode with them. They
first went to Las Piñas City to check on Emmanuel de Claro’s car at the auto shop, then they proceeded to Libertad,
Pasay City, where they had dinner at Duty Free Philippines. They next drove to Whistle Stop Restaurant at Shangri-La
Plaza in Mandaluyong City to meet "Ms. Milan." Only Emmanuel de Claro and Lantion-Tom went inside the restaurant.
Roberto de Claro and James stayed in the car.
Two hours later, Roberto de Claro saw Lantion-Tom and "Ms. Milan" walking towards them. As the two women were
approaching, armed men suddenly appeared, surrounded their car, and pointed guns at them. Roberto de Claro got
terrified. It was as if an armed robbery ("hold-up") was taking place. The armed men knocked at the car window. Out of
fear, Roberto de Claro opened the window, then the door of the car. Roberto de Claro, James, and Lantion-Tom were
made to sit at the back seat of the car. Two of the armed men sat on the front seats of the car, while one sat at the back
with Roberto de Claro, James, and Lantion-Tom. The armed men introduced themselves as police officers.
Inside the car, the police officers mauled (siniko, sinuntok sa ulo) Roberto de Claro, James, and Lantion-Tom, all the
while ordering them to keep their heads bowed down. The police officers drove the car for two hours, stopping at a gas
station for about five minutes. At this moment, Roberto de Claro was able to raise his head but was immediately told to
bow down his head again. Roberto de Claro also heard from the police officers’ radio that they were still waiting for
somebody. They travelled again for quite a long time and stopped in a dark place. The police officers took Roberto de
Claro’s wallet containing P7,000.00 cash. Early in the following morning, they arrived at the police station where
Roberto de Claro saw his brother Emmanuel de Claro once more. They stayed in one room until Roberto de Claro and
James were released by the police the next day.
When Lantion-Tom was called to testify, the prosecution and the defense agreed to consider her Counter Affidavit dated
March 23, 2000 and Supplemental Affidavit dated March 29, 2000 as her direct examination.
On cross-examination, Lantion-Tom confirmed that she was among those arrested on February 17, 2000 at the vicinity
of Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong City for her alleged involvement in an illegal drug deal. At the time of the arrest,
she was with Emmanuel de Claro, Roberto de Claro, and James. She was also brought to Camp Bagong Diwa in
Taguig where she was interrogated without a lawyer. She was shown a box containing shabu which she had never
seen before. Lantion-Tom insisted that she was in Mandaluyong City to meet her accountant, Milan, regarding her
application for a business permit. Lantion-Tom pointed out that the charge against her was eventually dismissed.
The documentary evidence for the defense consisted of Emmanuel de Claro’s Counter Affidavit dated March 23,
2000,27 Lantion-Tom’s Counter Affidavit dated March 23, 2000,28 Emmanuel de Claro and Lantion-Tom’s Supplemental
Affidavit dated March 29, 2000,29 Roberto de Claro’s Witness Affidavit dated March 29, 2000,30 Marlon David’s
Sinumpaang Salaysay dated March 14, 2000,31 Virginia delos Reyes’ Sinumpaang Salaysay dated March 14,
2000,32 Navarro’s Sinumpaang Salaysay dated March 14, 2000,33 accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes’
Sinumpaang Kontra Salaysay dated March 14, 2000,34 and a Barangay Blotter dated February 19, 2000 by Virginia
delos Reyes.35 The RTC admitted all these documentary evidence for the defense in its Order36 dated September 13,
2002.
In its Decision dated September 23, 2003, the RTC found accused-appellants and Emmanuel de Claro guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime charged, and decreed:
WHEREFORE, the prosecution having successfully proved the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt for
unlawfully possessing/selling, delivering, transporting and distributing methamphetamine hydrochloride otherwise
known as shabu, a regulated drug, without lawful authority in violation of Sections 15 and 16 of Article III in relation to
Section 21 of Article IV of R.A. No. 6425, as amended, they are hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of LIFE
IMPRISONMENT and to pay a fine of P20,000.00 each and the costs of suit.
Further, all the methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) taken and seized from the accused during the aforesaid
operation are forfeited and confiscated in favor of the government shall be turned over to the PDEA pursuant to law for
proper disposal without delay.37
Emmanuel de Claro filed his notice of appeal38 on October 23, 2003. Accused-appellants Roberto delos Reyes and
Reyes each filed his notice of appeal39 on October 29, 2003 and December 30, 2003, respectively.
Emmanuel de Claro, however, subsequently moved to withdraw his notice of appeal,40 instead, filing before the RTC an
Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration and to Re-Open Proceedings Pursuant [to] Section 24, Rule 119 of the Rules of
Court41 on October 30, 2003, and a Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration42 on November 3, 2003. Emmanuel de
Claro asked the RTC to review its judgment of conviction based on the following grounds:
I. THE HONORABLE COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN RULING THAT THE ACCUSED DEFENSE OF FRAME-UP IS A
MERE ALIBI AND HAS THUS ERRED IN ADOPTING THE THEORY OF THE PROSECUTION THAT ALL THE
THREE (3) ACCUSED WERE PICKED-UP AT THE VICINITY OF EDSA SHANGRI-LA PLAZA HOTEL.
II. THAT THE HONORABLE COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN RULING THAT THE WARRANTLESS ARREST WAS
LAWFUL SINCE THE ACCUSED WERE CAUGHT IN FLAGRANTE DELICTO.
III. THE HONORABLE COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THERE WAS CONSPIRACY AMONG THE
THREE (3) ACCUSED IN THE ALLEGED COMMISSION OF THE CRIME OF UNLAWFUL SALE, DELIVERY AND
TRANSPORTATION OF THE PROHIBITED DRUG.
IV. THE HONORABLE COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING BOTH ACCUSED GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE
DOUBT OF THE CRIME CHARGED IN THE INFORMATION ON THE BASIS MAINLY OF A DISPUTABLE
PRESUMPTION OF LACK OF IMPROPER MOTIVE ON THE PART OF THE POLICE OFFICERS.
V. THAT THE HONORABLE COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN ITS FAILURE TO CONSIDER THE FACT THAT
ACCUSED EMMANUEL DE CLARO WAS NOT AFFORDED HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS DURING CUSTODIAL
INVESTIGATION.43
Emmanuel de Claro principally contended that the accusation that he was engaging in an illegal drug deal, levied
against him by prosecution witnesses SPO1 Lectura, PO3 Santiago, and PO3 Yumul was suspicious, if not incredible.
Emmanuel de Claro pointed out that although these police officers testified that Lantion-Tom, from the car, handed to
him the plastic bag containing the box with sachets of shabu, the prosecution still dropped the criminal charges against
Lantion-Tom. Emmanuel de Claro also strongly argued that the prosecution failed to contradict his well-supported alibi
that he, his wife, and his brother went to Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong City to meet his wife’s accountant, so they
could attend to several documents pertaining to a business permit. Emmanuel de Claro further insisted that the RTC
should have highly regarded accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes’ testimony which directly contradicted the police
officers’ statements.
In its Order44 dated November 11, 2003, the RTC granted Emmanuel de Claro’s motion to withdraw his notice of appeal
and required the prosecution to comment to his motions for reconsideration.
The prosecution filed its Comment/Opposition45 on December 19, 2003, objecting to Emmanuel de Claro’s motions for
reconsideration and maintaining that its police-witnesses’ categorical, consistent, and straight-forward testimonies were
sufficient to convict Emmanuel de Claro.
In a complete turnabout from its previous findings and conclusion, the RTC, in its Order46 dated January 12, 2004,
acquitted Emmanuel de Claro of the crime charged. The RTC explicitly admitted that it erred in giving full faith and credit
to the testimonies of prosecution witnesses SPO1 Lectura, PO3 Santiago, and PO3 Yumul, and in entirely rejecting the
alibi of the defense. Thus, the RTC disposed:
WHEREFORE, the motion of accused-movant Emmanuel De Claro is hereby GRANTED and a new one entered,
ACQUITTING him of the crime charged. Consequently, his immediate release from detention is hereby ordered unless
he is detained for other cause or causes.47
Nevertheless, in view of the pending notices of appeal of accused-appellants, the RTC forwarded the complete records
of the case to us on March 29, 2004, and we gave due course to the said appeals in our Resolution48 dated June 21,
2004.
Accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes filed his Appellant’s Brief49 on September 15, 2004, while accused-appellant
Reyes filed his Appellant’s Brief50 on November 26, 2004. Pursuant to our pronouncement in People v. Mateo,51 we
transferred the case to the Court of Appeals for appropriate action and disposition.52 Accordingly, the plaintiff-appellee,
represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed before the appellate court its Consolidated Brief 53 on
January 21, 2005.
The Court of Appeals, in its Decision dated July 12, 2006, sustained the conviction of accused-appellants, and merely
modified the penalty imposed upon them, from life imprisonment to reclusion perpetua. According to the appellate court,
the police officers’ testimonies deserve credence than accused-appellants’ defenses of denial and alibi, there being no
evidence to rebut the presumption that the police officers regularly performed their official duties.
The case was then elevated to us for final review. In our Resolution54dated January 31, 2007, we required the parties to
submit their supplemental briefs. Plaintiff-appellee and accused-appellants Rolando delos Reyes and Reyes filed their
manifestations55 on March 14, 2007, April 10, 2007, and April 13, 2007, respectively, opting to stand by the briefs they
had already filed before the Court of Appeals.
In his Appellant’s Brief, accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes assigned the following errors of the RTC:
I. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FAILING TO RESOLVE THE CONTRADICTORY TESTIMONY AS TO THE PLACE
OF THE ARREST IN FAVOR OF THE ACCUSED.
II. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FINDING [THE] TESTIMONIES OF PO3 VIRGILIO SANTIAGO CREDIBLE.
III. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FAILING TO APPRECIATE THE PROSECUTION’S EVIDENCE WHICH WAS
PREVIOUSLY CATEGORIZE[D] AS WEAK WHEN THE COURT A QUO GRANTED BAIL TO THE ACCUSED.56
Accused-appellant Reyes cited these errors in his Appellant’s Brief:
I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THE WARRANTLESS ARREST OF ACCUSED-APPELLANT
RAYMUNDO REYES AS UNLAWFUL.
II. ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE WARRANTLESS ARREST WAS VALID, ACCUSED-APPELLANT
RAYMUNDO REYES CANNOT BE CONVICTED FOR VIOLATION OF R.A. 6425.57
Accused-appellants essentially assert that the charge of illegal drug deal lodged against them by the police is a
complete fabrication and frame-up. Accused-appellants called attention to the material inconsistencies in the
prosecution’s evidence. PO3 Santiago testified during direct examination that accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes
handed the "plastic bag with box inside" to accused-appellant Reyes, but he admitted during cross-examination that he
did not see such transfer. The prosecution was unable to present any evidence to prove the source of the plastic bag
containing the box with sachets of shabu, and the money paid as consideration for the illegal drugs. The prosecution
likewise failed to rebut accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes’ straightforward, coherent, and truthful narration,
corroborated by Marlon David, that he was illegally arrested at Buenas Market in Cainta, Rizal, and not at Shangri-la
Plaza in Mandaluyong City.
Accused-appellants additionally argued that even the prosecution’s version of the arrests of the suspects and seizure of
the shabu shows that the same were effected in violation of accused-appellants’ fundamental rights. The arrests were
executed without any warrant or any of the exceptional circumstances to justify a warrantless arrest. The suspects,
including accused-appellants, were arrested without warrants based on a mere tip from a confidential informant and not
because of any apparent criminal activity. A tip does not constitute probable cause for a warrantless arrest or search
and seizure incidental thereto. Thus, the shabu allegedly seized from accused-appellants is inadmissible in evidence.
Plaintiff-appellee, on the other hand, stand by the convictions of accused-appellants, maintaining that:
I. THE POSITIVE AND CREDIBLE TESTIMONIES OF THE PROSECUTION WITNESSES HAVE ESTABLISHED THE
GUILT OF APPELLANTS BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
II. THE WARRANTLESS ARREST CONDUCTED BY THE POLICE IS VALID SINCE IT FALLS SQUARELY UNDER
RULE 113, SECTION 5(A) OF THE REVISED RULES ON CRIMINAL PROCEDURE.
III. THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED BY THE PROSECUTION MORE THAN SUFFICE TO CONVICT APPELLANTS OF
THE CRIME CHARGED.
IV. CONSPIRACY ATTENDED THE COMMISSION OF THE OFFENSE.
V. MERE DENIAL AND "HULIDAP," WITHOUT MORE, CANNOT EXCULPATE APPELLANTS FROM CRIMINAL
LIABILITY.
VI. THE PRESUMPTION OF REGULARITY IN THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTY UNDER SECTION 3(M)
OF RULE 131 OF THE REVISED RULES OF COURT HAD NOT BEEN OVERCOME BY DEFENSE EVIDENCE.
VII. CONCLUSION OF THE TRIAL JUDGE REGARDING THE CREDIBILITY OF WITNESSES COMMANDS GREAT
RESPECT AND CONSIDERATION.58
Plaintiff-appellee avers that the inconsistencies in the police officers’ statements, as pointed out by accused-appellants,
are trivial and do not affect the weight of their testimonies; while accused-appellants’ defenses of denial and frame-up
could be easily concocted and, thus, should be looked upon with disfavor. Moreover, there is no need for proof of
consideration for the illegal drug deal, since consideration is not an element of the crime charged.
Plaintiff-appellee avows that accused-appellants were caught while in the commission of a crime or in flagrante delicto,
which justifies their warrantless arrests under Section 5(a), Rule 113 of the Rules of Court. Accused-appellants were
arrested while in possession and in the act of distributing, without legal authority, a total of 980.9 grams of
methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, on the night of February 17, 2000 at the parking area of Shangri-La Plaza in
Mandaluyong City. In addition, in the absence of satisfactory proof to the contrary, the warrantless arrests executed by
the police officers enjoy the presumption that "official duty has been regularly performed."
We grant the appeal and reverse the assailed decision of the Court of Appeals.
At the outset, we observe that the prosecutors and the RTC both displayed uncertainty as to the facts surrounding
accused-appellants’ arrest on the night of February 17, 2000.
The Office of the City Prosecutor of Mandaluyong City, after preliminary investigation and reinvestigation,
recommended that the RTC drop accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes and Lantion-Tom from the criminal charge.
The RTC only partially adopted the recommendations of the Office of the City Prosecutor: dropping the criminal charge
against Lantion-Tom, but still finding probable cause against accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes.59
Even after trial, the RTC wavered in its findings and conclusion. In its Decision60 dated September 23, 2003, the RTC
initially convicted accused-appellants and Emmanuel de Claro, but acting on Emmanuel de Claro’s motions for
reconsideration, said trial court, in its Order61 dated January 12, 2004, totally reversed itself and acquitted Emmanuel de
Claro. This time, the RTC gave more weight to the evidence presented by the defense.
The Court of Appeals, on appeal, refused to consider the subsequent acquittal of Emmanuel de Claro by the RTC.
Instead, the appellate court upheld the earlier ruling of the RTC giving absolute credence to the testimonies of the
prosecution witnesses and convicted accused-appellants of the crime charged. Despite the varying judgments of the
RTC, the Court of Appeals speciously ratiocinated in its assailed decision that "when the issue involves the credibility of
a witness, the trial court’s assessment is entitled to great weight."62
Guided by the settled rule that "where the inculpatory facts admit of several interpretations, one consistent with
accused's innocence and another with his guilt, the evidence thus adduced fail[ed] to meet the test of moral
certainty,"63 we find that the findings and conclusion of the RTC in its subsequent Order64 dated January 12, 2004 (in
which it acquitted Emmanuel de Claro) is more in keeping with the evidence on record in this case. It bears to stress
that the very same evidence were presented against Emmanuel de Claro and accused-appellants; if the evidence is
insufficient to convict the former, then it is also insufficient to convict the latter.
Indeed, the testimonies of prosecution witnesses SPO1 Lectura, PO3 Santiago, and PO3 Yumul are unreliable and
suspiciously fabricated. In its Order dated January 12, 2004, the RTC correctly observed that:
Viewed vis-à-vis the peculiar factual milieu of this case, not to say the insistence by the accused-movant [Emmanuel de
Claro] that a reevaluation or reassessment of the evidence by the prosecution be considered, this court has decided to
revisit the evidence put forward by the prosecution through the crucible of a severe testing by taking a more than casual
consideration of every circumstance of the case.
It is noted that the testimony given by the witnesses for the prosecution and that of the defense are diametrically
opposed to each other. While this court had already made its conclusion that the testimonies of prosecution witnesses
PO3 Santiago, SPO1 Lectura and PO3 Yumul are given full faith and credit and reject the frame-up and alibi story of the
accused-movant [Emmanuel de Claro], nonetheless, upon reassessment of the same it appears that the court erred.
In sum, the conveniently dovetailing accounts of the prosecution eyewitnesses, all of them police officers, with regard to
the material facts of how the crime was allegedly committed engenders doubt as to their credibility. Firstly, the court
noted that these police officers gave identical testimonies of the events that happened from the moment they arrived at
2 o’clock in the afternoon until the arrest of the accused at 10:30 o’clock in the evening at the EDSA Shangri-La
premises. This uniform account given by these witnesses cannot but generate the suspicion that the material
circumstances testified to by them were integral parts of a well thought-out and prefabricated story. Because of the
close camaraderie of these witnesses who belong to the same police force it is not difficult for them to make the same
story. Furthermore, their testimonies are so general which shows only too clearly that they testified uniformly only as to
material facts but have not given the particulars and the details having relation with the principal facts. While they
testified that they were at Shangri-La from 2 in the afternoon to 10 in the evening, they were not able to tell the court
how their group positioned strategically at the premises without being noticed by their target. They could not also gave
(sic) an explanation how their confidential informant was able to obtain information regarding the drug deal that was
supposed to take place on that date involving several personalities. Except for their bare allegation that they have that
information regarding the drug deal they were not able to present any proof of such report, say, entry in their logbook of
such confidential report and a spot report. Even their operation is not recorded as no documentary evidence was
presented. Worth remembering in this regard is People v. Alviar, 59 SCRA 136, where it is said that: . . . "[i]t often
happens with fabricated stories that minute particulars have not been thought of." It has also been said that "an honest
witness, who has sufficient memory to state one fact, and that fact a material one, cannot be safely relied upon as such
weakness of memory not only leaves the case incomplete, but throws doubt upon the accuracy of the statements made.
Such a witness may be honest, but his testimony is not reliable."65(Emphasis supplied.)
There are also material inconsistencies between the police-witnesses’ sworn statements following accused-appellants’
arrest and their testimonies before the RTC. The police officers attested in their Joint Affidavit of Arrest dated February
18, 2000 that "upon sensing suspicious transactions being undertaken thereat, team leader thru hand signaled
immediately accosted the suspects and introduced themselves as ‘Police Officers’ and after that, subject persons
deliberately admitted that they have in their possession illegal drugs and thereafter showed the same to the herein
undersigned arresting officers thus they were placed under arrest."66 Yet, during trial before the RTC, the police officers
uniformly testified that they brought accused-appellants, Emmanuel de Claro and Lantion-Tom to the police office after
arresting the four suspects in flagrante delicto, without mention at all of the suspects’ purported admission.
We also consider the fact that Lantion-Tom was never charged with any criminal involvement even when, according to
the prosecution’s version of events, she was the first person to deliver the shabu. This seriously dents the prosecution’s
sequence of events on the night of February 17, 2000.
In contrast, accused-appellants presented clear and convincing evidence in support of their defenses, which the
prosecution failed to rebut. Specifically, accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes testified that he was illegally arrested
without warrant at Buenas Market, Cainta, Rizal, not at Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong City; and that he and Marlon
David were coerced to incriminate themselves for possession of shabu. His claims were corroborated by Marlon David’s
testimony and Navarro’s Sinumpaang Salaysay dated March 14, 2000. Also, Emmanuel de Claro, Lantion-Tom, and
Roberto de Claro consistently testified that they were at Shangri-La Plaza to meet Milan, Lantion-Tom’s accountant,
regarding documents for a business permit (photocopies of the said documents were presented during trial); and that
they were illegally arrested without warrant and forced to admit criminal liability for possession of shabu. These pieces
of evidence are overwhelmingly adequate to overthrow the presumption of regularity in the performance by the arresting
police officers of their official duties and raise reasonable doubt in accused-appellants’ favor.
Furthermore, even assuming that the prosecution’s version of the events that took place on the night of February 17,
2000 were true, it still failed to establish probable cause to justify the in flagrante delicto arrests of accused-appellants
and search of accused-appellants’ persons, incidental to their arrests, resulting in the seizure of the shabu in accused-
appellants’ possession.
Section 2, Article III of the Constitution provides:
Section 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable
searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of
arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or
affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched
and the persons or things to be seized.
Complementary to the above provision is the exclusionary rule enshrined in Section 3, paragraph 2 of Article III of the
Constitution, which solidifies the protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, thus:
Section 3. (1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the
court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise as prescribed by law.
(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any
proceeding. (Emphases supplied.)
The foregoing constitutional proscription is not without exceptions. Search and seizure may be made without a warrant
and the evidence obtained therefrom may be admissible in the following instances: (1) search incident to a lawful arrest;
(2) search of a moving motor vehicle; (3) search in violation of customs laws; (4) seizure of evidence in plain view; (5)
when the accused himself waives his right against unreasonable searches and seizures; and (6) stop and frisk
situations.67
The first exception (search incidental to a lawful arrest) includes a valid warrantless search and seizure pursuant to an
equally valid warrantless arrest which must precede the search. In this instance, the law requires that there be first a
lawful arrest before a search can be made — the process cannot be reversed. As a rule, an arrest is considered
legitimate if effected with a valid warrant of arrest. The Rules of Court, however, recognizes permissible warrantless
arrests. Thus, a peace officer or a private person may, without warrant, arrest a person: (a) when, in his presence, the
person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense (arrest in flagrante
delicto); (b) when an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal
knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it (arrest effected in hot pursuit); and
(c) when the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or a 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 to another (arrest of escaped prisoners).68
In People v. Molina,69 we cited several cases involving in flagrante delicto arrests preceding the search and seizure that
were held illegal, to wit:
In People v. Chua Ho San, the Court held that in cases of in flagrante delicto arrests, a peace officer 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 an offense. The arresting officer, therefore, must have personal knowledge of
such fact or, as recent case law adverts to, personal knowledge of facts or circumstances convincingly indicative or
constitutive of probable cause. As discussed in People v. Doria, probable cause means an actual belief or reasonable
grounds of suspicion. The grounds of suspicion are reasonable when, in the absence of actual belief of the arresting
officers, the suspicion that the person to be arrested is probably guilty of committing the offense, is based on actual
facts, i.e., supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to create the probable cause of guilt of the
person to be arrested. A reasonable suspicion therefore must be founded on probable cause, coupled with good faith
on the part of the peace officers making the arrest.
As applied to in flagrante delicto arrests, it is settled that "reliable information" alone, absent any overt act indicative of a
felonious enterprise in the presence and within the view of the arresting officers, are not sufficient to constitute probable
cause that would justify an in flagrante delicto arrest. Thus, in People v. Aminnudin, it was held that "the accused-
appellant was not, at the moment of his arrest, committing a crime nor was it shown that he was about to do so or that
he had just done so. What he was doing was descending the gangplank of the M/V Wilcon 9 and there was no outward
indication that called for his arrest. To all appearances, he was like any of the other passengers innocently
disembarking from the vessel. It was only when the informer pointed to him as the carrier of the marijuana that he
suddenly became suspect and so subject to apprehension."
Likewise, in People v. Mengote, the Court did not consider "eyes . . . darting from side to side . . . [while] holding . . .
[one's] abdomen," in a crowded street at 11:30 in the morning, as overt acts and circumstances sufficient to arouse
suspicion and indicative of probable cause. According to the Court, "[b]y no stretch of the imagination could it have been
inferred from these acts that an offense had just been committed, or was actually being committed, or was at least
being attempted in [the arresting officers'] presence." So also, in People v. Encinada, the Court ruled that no probable
cause is gleanable from the act of riding a motorelawhile holding two plastic baby chairs.
Then, too, in Malacat v. Court of Appeals, the trial court concluded that petitioner was attempting to commit a crime as
he was "'standing at the corner of Plaza Miranda and Quezon Boulevard' with his eyes 'moving very fast' and 'looking at
every person that come (sic) nearer (sic) to them."' In declaring the warrantless arrest therein illegal, the Court said:
Here, there could have been no valid in flagrante delicto ... arrest preceding the search in light of the lack of personal
knowledge on the part of Yu, the arresting officer, or an overt physical act, on the part of petitioner, indicating that a
crime had just been committed, was being committed or was going to be committed.
It went on to state that —
Second, there was nothing in petitioner's behavior or conduct which could have reasonably elicited even mere suspicion
other than that his eyes were "moving very fast" — an observation which leaves us incredulous since Yu and his
teammates were nowhere near petitioner and it was already 6:30 p.m., thus presumably dusk. Petitioner and his
companions were merely standing at the corner and were not creating any commotion or trouble . . .
Third, there was at all no ground, probable or otherwise, to believe that petitioner was armed with a deadly weapon.
None was visible to Yu, for as he admitted, the alleged grenade was "discovered" "inside the front waistline" of
petitioner, and from all indications as to the distance between Yu and petitioner, any telltale bulge, assuming that
petitioner was indeed hiding a grenade, could not have been visible to Yu.
Clearly, to constitute a valid in flagrante delicto arrest, two requisites must concur: (1) the person to be arrested must
execute an overt act indicating that he has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime;
and (2) such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.70 (Emphases supplied.)
Similar to the above-cited cases in Molina, there is a dearth of evidence in this case to justify the in flagrante delicto
arrests of accused-appellants and search of their persons incidental to the arrests.
A close examination of the testimonies of SPO1 Lectura, PO3 Santiago, and PO3 Yumul reveal that they simply relied
on the information provided by their confidential informant that an illegal drug deal was to take place on the night of
February 17, 2000 at Shangri-la Plaza in Mandaluyong City. Without any other independent information, and by simply
seeing the suspects pass from one to another a white plastic bag with a box or carton inside, the police team was
already able to conclude that the box contained shabu and "sensed" that an illegal drug deal took place.
SPO1 Lectura testified on direct examination as follows:
Q: What was the information gathered by your informant?
A: That there will be a drug deal between 6 to 11 in the evening, sir.
Q: You were there as early as 2:00 p.m.?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: What did you do after briefing?
A: We positioned ourselves strategically, we waited for the arrival of the subject, sir.
xxxx
Q: When you are already positioned in your respective area at the vicinity of Shangri-La Plaza, what happened next, if
any?
A: At around 10:00 p.m. two (2) cars arrived and they were identified by the informant that they were the personalities
involved.
xxxx
Q: When this two (2) cars arrive what happened next?
A: They talked for a while after few minutes Botong entered, sir.
xxxx
Q: Do you know this Botong prior this incident?
A: No, sir.
Q: How did you come to know that he is Botong?
A: Through our informant, sir.
Q: When Botong went to the Whistle Stop, what happened next?
A: According to my other companion he talked to another person then after that they went out, sir.
xxxx
Q: How long did Botong stay in Whistle Stop Restaurant?
A: One (1) minute, sir.
xxxx
Q: When you say they who is the companion?
A: Cocoy, sir.
xxxx
Q: What happened next after they went out to the car?
A: They went to another car and Cocoy got something from his car and handed to Botong, sir.
xxxx
Q: Did you see that something that was taken inside that car?
A: White plastic bag, sir.
Q: What happened after that?
A: Cocoy went inside the Whistle Stop, sir.
Q: With the bag?
A: No, it was left with Botong, sir.
Q: What happened next after that?
A: Botong proceeded to his car near Mac-Mac, sir.
Q: What happened next after that?
A: We already sensed that drug deal has transpired, sir. We accosted him.
xxxx
Q: What did you do?
A: I arrested Mac-Mac, sir.
xxxx
Q: Who of your companion apprehended Botong or Rolando delos Reyes?
A: Botong was arrested by Yumul and Padpad, sir.
Q: How about De Claro?
A: Arrested by Santiago, sir.
xxxx
Q: Then what did you do after apprehending these people?
A: We brought them to our office for investigation, sir.71 (Emphases supplied.)
PO3 Santiago’s testimony also did not offer much justification for the warrantless arrest of accused-appellants and
search of their persons:
Q: When these two (2) persons went out of the restaurant and went to the place where blue Mazda car was parked,
what happened next?
A: The person inside the Mazda car, from the backseat, handed a white plastic bag with a box inside to Emmanuel de
Claro [Cocoy], sir. Then, Emmanuel de Claro [Cocoy] gave it to Rolando Delos Reyes [Botong], sir.
Q: You mentioned about somebody handling box to De Claro [Cocoy] from inside that Mazda car?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Who was this somebody handling that box?
A: It was Mary Jane Lantion, sir.
xxxx
Q: When you see De Claro [Cocoy] handling the box to Botong, what happened after that?
A: Botong proceeded to the place of Mac-Mac and Emmanuel De Claro [Cocoy] returned back inside the said
restaurant, sir.
Q: Where was Mac-Mac then at that time?
A: Near their car, sir. He was waiting for Botong.
Q: After that what happened next?
A: When Botong returned to Mac-Mac, he gave white plastic bag with box inside to Mac-Mac, sir.
Q: What happened after that?
A: Our team leader, sensing that the drug deal have been consummated, we apprehended them, sir.
Q: How did you come to know that there was a drug deal at that particular place and time?
A: Because of the information given to us by the informant, sir.
Q: Are you aware of the contents of that box at that time?
A: No, sir.
Q: How did you come to know that there was a consummation of a drug deal?
A: Because of the information given to us by the informant that there will be a drug-deal, sir.
xxxx
Q: Then what did you do?
A: We brought them to our office for proper investigation, sir.
Q: At your office, what else did you do?
A: We confiscated the evidence, marked them and a request for laboratory examination was made and other pertaining
papers regarding the arrest of the accused.
Q: You mentioned about the confiscated evidence. What is that confiscated evidence that you are saying?
A: Ten (10) pieces of white plastic transparent plastic bag with white crystalline substance suspected to be
methamphetamine hydrochloride, sir.
Q: How were these evidences confiscated by your group?
A: They were confiscated from Mac-Mac, sir.
Q: In what condition were they at that time that they were confiscated from Mac-Mac?
A: They were placed inside the box, sir.72 (Emphases supplied.)
PO3 Yumul’s narration of events was not any different from those of SPO1 Lectura and PO3 Santiago:
Q: When did you meet the confidential informant?
A: At the vicinity of EDSA Shangri-La Plaza, sir.
Q: And what was the information that was relayed to you by the confidential informant?
A: The identities of the persons, sir.
Q: What did he particularly tells you in that particular time you meet the confidential informant at the vicinity of EDSA
Shangri-La Plaza?
A: That there will be a drug-deal and the people involved will arrived together with their car, sir.
xxxx
Q: And what happened after the confidential informant relayed to you the information?
A: After we were brief by the confidential informant, we strategically positioned ourselves in the place where the drug-
deal will occur, sir.
xxxx
Q: So what did you do after positioning yourselves in that place of EDSA Shangri-La Plaza and Whistle Stop restaurant,
what happened next after that?
A: At around 10:00, one car arrived, a white Toyota corolla . . .
Q: 10:00 what? In the morning or in the evening?
A: In the evening, sir, of February 17, 2000, sir.
Q: And you stated that two vehicles arrived?
A: Yes, sir.
xxxx
Q: So what happened when this vehicle arrived?
A: The red Toyota corolla follows, sir.
xxxx
Q: Then what happened? What did you do, if any?
A: Our confidential informant told us that, that is our subject, sir.
xxxx
Q: What happened next, if any, were they alighted from the car?
A: Yes, sir.
xxxx
Q: Then, what happened next, if any?
A: They talked after they alighted from their car, sir.
Q: When you say "nag-usap sila" to whom are you referring?
A: To Mac-Mac and Botong, sir.
xxxx
Q: What happened next after you see them talking to each other?
A: When they talk Mac-Mac called through cellphone, sir.
Q: By the way, did you hear the conversation of this two?
A: No, sir.
xxxx
Q: How about the one calling over the cellphone, did you hear also what was the subject of their conversation?
A: No, sir.
Q: So what happened next after seeing them having a conversation with each other?
A: Botong immediately walked and proceeding to the Whistle Stop, sir.
xxxx
Q: Then what happened when Botong went to Whistle Stop?
A: He talked to somebody inside, sir.
xxxx
Q: And did you hear what was the subject of their conversation?
A: No, sir.
Q: Then what happened next when Botong talked to somebody inside the Whistle Stop?
A: The companion stood up and they went outside and both of them went to the side of Whistle Stop in front of the blue
car, sir.
xxxx
Q: What did you do then?
A: Somebody opened the window in back of the blue car, sir.
Q: And then what happened next, if any?
A: A white plastic bag was handed to him with carton inside, sir.
xxxx
Q: And who received that item or article from the car?
A: Cocoy, sir.
xxxx
Q: Were you able to know the person inside that car and who handed to Cocoy the white plastic bag?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Who was that person?
A: Mary Jane Lantion, sir.
xxxx
Q: And when this white plastic bag with carton placed inside handed to Cocoy, what did you do?
A: It was first handed by Cocoy to Botong, the plastic bag and then they walked in different direction, Cocoy went back
inside the Whistle Stop and then Botong went back to Mac-Mac, sir.
xxxx
Q: And then what happened next after that?
A: I followed Cocoy inside the Whistle Stop, sir.
xxxx
Q: So what did you do then?
A: I observed him inside but after a few minutes PO3 Virgilio Santiago went inside and told me that we will going to get
them, sir.
Q: Why are you going to get them?
A: Because the two were already arrested outside the Whistle Stop, Mac-Mac and Botong, sir.
xxxx
Q: So what did you do when PO3 Santiago told you that?
A: PO3 Santiago approached Cocoy and I am just assisting him, PO3 Santiago to avoid commotion, sir.
Q: Then what did you do next after that?
A: We were able to get Cocoy and we went outside, sir.
Q: And then what did you do, if any?
A: After arresting them we boarded to the car and we went to the office, sir. 73 (Emphases supplied.)
Evident from the foregoing excerpts that the police officers arrested accused-appellants and searched the latter’s
persons without a warrant after seeing Rolando delos Reyes and Emmanuel de Claro momentarily conversing in the
restaurant, and witnessing the white plastic bag with a box or carton inside being passed from Lantion-Tom to
Emmanuel de Claro, to accused-appellant Rolando delos Reyes, and finally, to accused-appellant Reyes. These
circumstances, however, hardly constitute overt acts "indicative of a felonious enterprise." SPO1 Lectura, PO3
Santiago, and PO3 Yumul had no prior knowledge of the suspects’ identities, and they completely relied on their
confidential informant to actually identify the suspects. None of the police officers actually saw what was inside that box.
There is also no evidence that the confidential informant himself knew that the box contained shabu. No effort at all was
taken to confirm that the arrested suspects actually knew that the box or carton inside the white plastic bag, seized from
their possession, contained shabu. The police officers were unable to establish a cogent fact or circumstance that would
have reasonably invited their attention, as officers of the law, to suspect that accused-appellants, Emmanuel de Claro,
and Lantion-Tom "has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit" a crime, particularly, an illegal
drug deal.
Finally, from their own account of the events, the police officers had compromised the integrity of the shabu purportedly
seized from accused-appellants.
In People v. Sy Chua,74 we questioned whether the shabu seized from the accused was the same one presented at the
trial because of the failure of the police to mark the drugs at the place where it was taken, to wit:
Furthermore, we entertain doubts whether the items allegedly seized from accused-appellant were the very same items
presented at the trial of this case. The record shows that the initial field test where the items seized were identified as
shabu, was only conducted at the PNP headquarters of Angeles City. The items were therefore not marked at the place
where they were taken. In People v. Casimiro, we struck down with disbelief the reliability of the identity of the
confiscated items since they were not marked at the place where they were seized, thus:
The narcotics field test, which initially identified the seized item as marijuana, was likewise not conducted at the scene
of the crime, but only at the narcotics office. There is thus reasonable doubt as to whether the item allegedly seized
from accused-appellant is the same brick of marijuana marked by the policemen in their headquarters and given by
them to the crime laboratory.75 (Emphases supplied.)
In the instant case, SPO1 Lectura, PO3 Santiago, and PO3 Yumul uniformly testified before the RTC that they brought
the arrested suspects to the police office for investigation. SPO1 Lectura and PO3 Santiago were vague as to how they
ascertained as shabu the contents of the box inside the white plastic bag, immediately after seizing the same from
accused-appellant Reyes and before proceeding to the police office; while PO3 Yumul explicitly testified on cross-
examination76 that he saw the shabu for the first time at the police office. At any rate, all three police officers recounted
that the shabu was marked by SPO1 Benjamin David only at the police office.
Without valid justification for the in flagrante delicto arrests of accused-appellants, the search of accused-appellants’
persons incidental to said arrests, and the eventual seizure of the shabu from accused-appellants’ possession, are also
considered unlawful and, thus, the seized shabu is excluded in evidence as fruit of a poisonous tree. Without the corpus
delicti for the crime charged, then the acquittal of accused-appellants is inevitable.
As we aptly held in People v. Sy Chua77 :
All told, the absence of ill-motive on the part of the arresting team cannot simply validate, much more cure, the illegality
of the arrest and consequent warrantless search of accused-appellant. Neither can the presumption of regularity of
performance of function be invoked by an officer in aid of the process when he undertakes to justify an encroachment of
rights secured by the Constitution. In People v. Nubla, we clearly stated that:
The presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty cannot be used as basis for affirming accused-
appellant's conviction because, first, the presumption is precisely just that — a mere presumption. Once challenged by
evidence, as in this case, . . . [it] cannot be regarded as binding truth. Second, the presumption of regularity in the
performance of official functions cannot preponderate over the presumption of innocence that prevails if not overthrown
by proof beyond reasonable doubt.
xxxx
The government's drive against illegal drugs needs the support of every citizen. But it should not undermine the
fundamental rights of every citizen as enshrined in the Constitution. The constitutional guarantee against warrantless
arrests and unreasonable searches and seizures cannot be so carelessly disregarded as overzealous police officers are
sometimes wont to do. Fealty to the constitution and the rights it guarantees should be paramount in their minds,
otherwise their good intentions will remain as such simply because they have blundered. The criminal goes free, if he
must, but it is the law that sets him free. Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its
own laws, or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence.78
WHEREFORE, the Decision dated July 12, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 01733 is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accused-appellants Rolando delos Reyes and Raymundo Reyes are ACQUITTED on the
ground of reasonable doubt and they are ORDERED forthwith released from custody, unless they are being lawfully
held for another crime.
SO ORDERE

People of the Philippines vs. Nazareno Villareal y Lualhati


G.R. No. 201363
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,
- versus -
NAZARENO VILLAREAL y LUALHATI, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
This is an appeal from the May 25, 2011 Decision
of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 31320 which affirmed in toto the December 11, 2007 Decision
of the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City, Branch 123 (RTC), convicting appellant Nazareno Villareal y Lualhati
(appellant) of violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165
(RA 9165) and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for twelve (12) years and one (1) day to fourteen
(14) years and eight (8) months and to pay a fine of ₱300,000.00.
The Factual Antecedents
On December 25, 2006 at around 11:30 in the morning, as PO3 Renato de Leon (PO3 de Leon) was driving his
motorcycle on his way home along 5th Avenue, he saw appellant from a distance of about 8 to 10 meters, holding and
scrutinizing in his hand a plastic sachet of shabu. Thus, PO3 de Leon, a member of the Station Anti-Illegal Drugs-
Special Operation Unit (SAID-SOU) in Caloocan City, alighted from his motorcycle and approached the appellant whom
he recognized as someone he had previously arrested for illegal drug possession.
Upon seeing PO3 de Leon, appellant tried to escape but was quickly apprehended with the help of a tricycle driver.
Despite appellant’s attempts to resist arrest, PO3 de Leon was able to board appellant onto his motorcycle and
confiscate the plastic sachet of shabu in his possession. Thereafter, PO3 de Leon brought appellant to the 9th Avenue
Police Station to fix his handcuffs, and then they proceeded to the SAID-SOU office where PO3 de Leon marked the
seized plastic sachet with "RZL/NV 12-25-06," representing his and appellant’s initials and the date of the arrest.
Subsequently, PO3 de Leon turned over the marked evidence as well as the person of appellant to the investigator,
PO2 Randulfo Hipolito (PO2 Hipolito) who, in turn, executed an acknowledgment receipt
and prepared a letter request
for the laboratory examination of the seized substance. PO2 Hipolito personally delivered the request and the
confiscated item to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory, which were received by Police Senior
Inspector Albert Arturo (PSI Arturo), the forensic chemist.
Upon qualitative examination, the plastic sachet, which contained 0.03 gram of white crystalline substance, tested
positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drug.
Consequently, appellant was charged with violation of Section 11, Article II of RA 9165 for illegal possession of
dangerous drugs in an Information
which reads:
That on or about the 25th day of December, 2006 in Caloocan City, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without being authorized by law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously have in his possession, custody and control, METHYLAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE (Shabu)
weighing 0.03 gram which, when subjected to chemistry examination gave positive result of METHYLAMPHETAMIME
HYDROCHLORIDE, a dangerous drug.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
When arraigned, appellant, assisted by counsel de oficio, entered a plea of not guilty to the offense charged.
In his defense, appellant denied PO3 de Leon’s allegations and instead claimed that on the date and time of the
incident, he was walking alone along Avenida, Rizal headed towards 5th
Avenue when someone who was riding a motorcycle called him from behind. Appellant approached the person, who
turned out to be PO3 de Leon, who then told him not to run, frisked him, and took his wallet which contained ₱1,000.00.
Appellant was brought to the 9th Avenue police station where he was detained and mauled by eight other detainees
under the orders of PO3 de Leon. Subsequently, he was brought to the Sangandaan Headquarters where two other
police officers, whose names he recalled were "Michelle" and "Hipolito," took him to the headquarters’ firing range.
There, "Michelle" and "Hipolito" forced him to answer questions about a stolen cellphone, firing a gun right beside his
ear each time he failed to answer and eventually mauling him when he continued to deny knowledge about the
cellphone.
Thus, appellant sustained head injuries for which he was brought to the Diosdado Macapagal Hospital for proper
treatment.
The following day, he underwent inquest proceedings before one Fiscal Guiyab, who informed him that he was being
charged with resisting arrest and "Section 11."
The first charge was eventually dismissed.
The RTC Ruling
After trial on the merits, the RTC convicted appellant as charged upon a finding that all the elements of the crime of
illegal possession of dangerous drugs have been established, to wit: (1) the appellant is in possession of an item or
object which is identified to be a prohibited drug; (2) that such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) that the
accused freely and consciously possesses said drug. Finding no ill motive on the part of PO3 de Leon to testify falsely
against appellant, coupled with the fact that the former had previously arrested the latter for illegal possession of drugs
under Republic Act No. 6425
(RA 6425), the RTC gave full faith and credit to PO3 de Leon’s testimony. Moreover, the RTC found the plain view
doctrine to be applicable, as the confiscated item was in plain view of PO3 de Leon at the place and time of the arrest.
On the other hand, the RTC gave scant consideration to the defenses of denial and frame-up proffered by the appellant,
being uncorroborated, and in the light of the positive assertions of PO3 de Leon. It refused to give credence to
appellant’s claim that PO3 de Leon robbed him of his money, since he failed to bring the incident to the attention of PO3
de Leon’s superiors or to institute any action against the latter.
Consequently, the RTC sentenced appellant to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day
to fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months and to pay a fine of ₱300,000.00.
The CA Ruling
In its assailed Decision, the CA sustained appellant’s conviction, finding "a clear case of in flagrante delicto warrantless
arrest"
as provided under Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. The CA held that appellant
"exhibited an overt act or strange conduct that would reasonably arouse suspicion,"
aggravated by the existence of his past criminal citations and his attempt to flee when PO3 de Leon approached him.
Citing jurisprudence, the appellate court likewise ruled that the prosecution had adequately shown the continuous and
unbroken chain of custody of the seized item, from the time it was confiscated from appellant by PO3 de Leon, marked
at the police station, turned over to PO2 Hipolito and delivered to the crime laboratory, where it was received by PSI
Arturo, the forensic chemist, up to the time it was presented in court for proper identification.
The Issue
The sole issue advanced before the Court for resolution is whether the CA erred in affirming in toto the RTC’s Decision
convicting appellant of the offense charged.
The Ruling of the Court
The appeal is meritorious.
Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure lays down the basic rules on lawful warrantless arrests,
either by a peace officer or a private person, as follows:
Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. - A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a
person:
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit
an offense;
(b) When an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of
facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and
(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal 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 to another.
xxx
For the warrantless arrest under paragraph (a) of Section 5 to operate, two elements must concur: (1) the person to be
arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to
commit a crime; and (2) such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.
On the other hand, paragraph (b) of Section 5 requires for its application that at the time of the arrest, an offense had in
fact just been committed and the arresting officer had personal knowledge of facts indicating that the appellant had
committed it.
In both instances, the officer’s personal knowledge of the fact of the commission of an offense is absolutely required.
Under paragraph (a), the officer himself witnesses the crime while under paragraph (b), he knows for a fact that a crime
has just been committed.
In sustaining appellant’s conviction in this case, the appellate court ratiocinated that this was a clear case of an "in
flagrante delicto warrantless arrest" under paragraphs (a) and (b) of Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on
Criminal Procedure, as above-quoted.
The Court disagrees.
A punctilious assessment of the factual backdrop of this case shows that there could have been no lawful warrantless
arrest. A portion of PO3 de Leon’s testimony on direct examination in court is revelatory:
FISCAL LARIEGO: While you were there at 5th
Avenue, was there anything unusual that transpired?
PO3 DE LEON: Yes Ma’am.
Q: What was this incident?
A: While I was on board my motorcycle on my home, I saw a man looking at the shabu in his hand, Ma’am.
Q: And exactly what time was this?
A: Around 11:30 in the morning, Ma’am.
Q: How far were you from this person that you said was verifying something in his hand?
A: Eight to ten meters, Ma’am.
Q: What exactly did you see he was verifying? A: The shabu that he was holding, Ma’am.
Q: After seeing what the man was doing, what did you do next?
A: I alighted from my motorcycle and approached him, Ma’am.
Q: In the first place why do you say that what he was examining and holding in his hand was a shabu?
A: Because of the numerous arrests that I have done, they were all shabu, Ma’am.
(Underscoring supplied)
On the basis of the foregoing testimony, the Court finds it inconceivable how PO3 de Leon, even with his presumably
perfect vision, would be able to identify with reasonable accuracy, from a distance of about 8 to 10 meters and while
simultaneously driving a motorcycle, a negligible and minuscule amount of powdery substance (0.03 gram) inside the
plastic sachet allegedly held by appellant. That he had previously effected numerous arrests, all involving shabu, is
insufficient to create a conclusion that what he purportedly saw in appellant’s hands was indeed shabu.
Absent any other circumstance upon which to anchor a lawful arrest, no other overt act could be properly attributed to
appellant as to rouse suspicion in the mind of PO3 de Leon that he (appellant) had just committed, was committing, or
was about to commit a crime, for the acts per se of walking along the street and examining something in one’s hands
cannot in any way be considered criminal acts. In fact, even if appellant had been exhibiting unusual or strange acts, or
at the very least appeared suspicious, the same would not have been sufficient in order for PO3 de Leon to effect a
lawful warrantless arrest under paragraph (a) of Section 5, Rule 113.
Neither has it been established that the rigorous conditions set forth in paragraph (b) of Section 5, Rule 113 have been
complied with, i.e., that an offense had in fact just been committed and the arresting officer had personal knowledge of
facts indicating that the appellant had committed it.
The factual circumstances of the case failed to show that PO3 de Leon had personal knowledge that a crime had been
indisputably committed by the appellant. It is not enough that PO3 de Leon had reasonable ground to believe that
appellant had just committed a crime; a crime must in fact have been committed first, which does not obtain in this case.
Without the overt act that would pin liability against appellant, it is therefore clear that PO3 de Leon was merely impelled
to apprehend appellant on account of the latter’s previous charge
for the same offense. The CA stressed this point when it said:
It is common for drugs, being illegal in nature, to be concealed from view.PO3 Renato de Leon saw appellant holding
and scrutinizing a piece of plastic wrapper containing a white powderly substance. PO3 Renato de Leon was quite
familiar with appellant, having arrested him twice before for the same illegal possession of drug. It was not just a hollow
suspicion. The third time around, PO3 de Leon had reasonably assumed that the piece of plastic wrapper appellant was
holding and scrutinizing also contained shabu as he had personal knowledge of facts regarding appellant’s person and
past criminal record. He would have been irresponsible to just ‘wait and see’ and give appellant a chance to scamper
away. For his part, appellant being, in fact, in possession of illegal drug, sensing trouble from an equally familiar face of
authority, ran away. Luckily, however, PO3 de Leon caught up with him through the aid of a tricycle driver. Appellant’s
act of running away, indeed, validated PO3 de Leon’s reasonable suspicion that appellant was actually in possession of
illegal drug. x x x
However, a previous arrest or existing criminal record, even for the same offense, will not suffice to satisfy the exacting
requirements provided under Section 5, Rule 113 in order to justify a lawful warrantless arrest. "Personal knowledge" of
the arresting officer that a crime had in fact just been committed is required. To interpret "personal knowledge" as
referring to a person’s reputation or past criminal citations would create a dangerous precedent and unnecessarily
stretch the authority and power of police officers to effect warrantless arrests based solely on knowledge of a person’s
previous criminal infractions, rendering nugatory the rigorous requisites laid out under Section 5.
It was therefore error on the part of the CA to rule on the validity of appellant’s arrest based on "personal knowledge of
facts regarding appellant’s person and past criminal record," as this is unquestionably not what "personal knowledge"
under the law contemplates, which must be strictly construed.
Furthermore, appellant’s act of darting away when PO3 de Leon approached him should not be construed against him.
Flight per se is not synonymous with guilt and must not always be attributed to one’s consciousness of guilt.
It is not a reliable indicator of guilt without other circumstances,
for even in high crime areas there are many innocent reasons for flight, including fear of retribution for speaking to
officers, unwillingness to appear as witnesses, and fear of being wrongfully apprehended as a guilty party.
Thus, appellant’s attempt to run away from PO3 de Leon is susceptible of various explanations; it could easily have
meant guilt just as it could likewise signify innocence.
In fine, appellant’s acts of walking along the street and holding something in his hands, even if they appeared to be
dubious, coupled with his previous criminal charge for the same offense, are not by themselves sufficient to incite
suspicion of criminal activity or to create probable cause enough to justify a warrantless arrest under Section 5 above-
quoted. "Probable cause" has been understood to mean a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by circumstances
sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant a cautious man's belief that the person accused is guilty of the offense with
which he is charged.
Specifically with respect to arrests, it is such facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably discreet and
prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed by the person sought to be arrested,
which clearly do not obtain in appellant’s case.
Thus, while it is true that the legality of an arrest depends upon the reasonable discretion of the officer or functionary to
whom the law at the moment leaves the decision to characterize the nature of the act or deed of the person for the
urgent purpose of suspending his liberty,
it cannot be arbitrarily or capriciously exercised without unduly compromising a citizen’s constitutionally-guaranteed
right to liberty. As the Court succinctly explained in the case of People v. Tudtud:
The right of a person to be secure against any unreasonable seizure of his body and any deprivation of his liberty is a
most basic and fundamental one. The statute or rule which allows exceptions to the requirement of warrants of arrest is
strictly construed. Any exception must clearly fall within the situations when securing a warrant would be absurd or is
manifestly unnecessary as provided by the Rule. We cannot liberally construe the rule on arrests without warrant or
extend its application beyond the cases specifically provided by law. To do so would infringe upon personal liberty and
set back a basic right so often violated and so deserving of full protection.
Consequently, there being no lawful warrantless arrest, the shabu purportedly seized from appellant is rendered
inadmissible in evidence for being the proverbial fruit of the poisonous tree. As the confiscated shabu is the very corpus
delicti of the crime charged, appellant must be acquitted and exonerated from all criminal liability.
WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 31320 is REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. Appellant Nazareno Villareal y Lualhati is ACQUITTED on reasonable doubt of the offense charged and
ordered immediately released from detention, unless his continued confinement is warranted by some other cause or
ground.
SO ORDERED.

SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 144037. September 26, 2003]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. NOEL TUDTUD y PAYPA and DINDO
BOLONG y NARET, accused-appellants.
DECISION
TINGA, J.:
. It is desirable that criminals should be detected, and to that end that all available evidence should be used. It also is
desirable that the government should not itself foster and pay for other crimes, when they are the means by which the
evidence is to be obtained. If it pays its officers for having got evidence by crime, I do not see why it may not as well pay
them for getting it in the same way, and I can attach no importance to protestations of disapproval if it knowingly
accepts and pays and announces that it will pay for the fruits. We have to choose, and for my part I think it a less evil
that some criminals should escape than that the government should play an ignoble part.
So wrote Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in Olmstead v. U.S.[1] On this occasion, this Court is made to choose between
letting suspected criminals escape or letting the government play an ignoble part.
Sometime during the months of July and August 1999, the Toril Police Station, Davao City received a report from a
civilian asset named Bobong Solier about a certain Noel Tudtud.[2] Solier related that his neighbors have been
complaining about Tudtud, who was allegedly responsible for the proliferation of marijuana in their area.[3]
Reacting to the report, PO1 Ronald Desierto, PO1 Ramil Floreta and their superior, SPO1 Villalonghan, [4] all members
of the Intelligence Section of the Toril Police Station, conducted surveillance in Soliers neighborhood in Sapa, Toril,
Davao City.[5] For five days, they gathered information and learned that Tudtud was involved in illegal drugs.[6] According
to his neighbors, Tudtud was engaged in selling marijuana.[7]
On August 1, 1999, Solier informed the police that Tudtud had headed to Cotabato and would be back later that day
with new stocks of marijuana.[8] Solier described Tudtud as big-bodied and short, and usually wore a hat.[9] At around
4:00 in the afternoon that same day, a team composed of PO1 Desierto, PO1 Floreta and SPO1 Villalonghan posted
themselves at the corner of Saipon and McArthur Highway to await Tudtuds arrival.[10] All wore civilian clothes.[11]
About 8:00 later that evening, two men disembarked from a bus and helped each other carry a carton[12] marked King
Flakes.[13] Standing some five feet away from the men, PO1 Desierto and PO1 Floreta observed that one of the men fit
Tudtuds description.[14] The same man also toted a plastic bag.[15]
PO1 Floreta and PO1 Desierto then approached the suspects and identified themselves as police officers.[16] PO1
Desierto informed them that the police had received information that stocks of illegal drugs would be arriving that
night.[17] The man who resembled Tudtuds description denied that he was carrying any drugs.[18] PO1 Desierto asked
him if he could see the contents of the box.[19] Tudtud obliged, saying, it was alright.[20] Tudtud opened the box himself
as his companion looked on.[21]
The box yielded pieces of dried fish, beneath which were two bundles, one wrapped in a striped plastic bag [22] and
another in newspapers.[23] PO1 Desierto asked Tudtud to unwrap the packages.[24] They contained what seemed to the
police officers as marijuana leaves.[25]
The police thus arrested Tudtud and his companion, informed them of their rights and brought them to the police
station.[26] The two did not resist.[27]
The confiscated items were turned over to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory for
examination.[28] Forensic tests conducted by Police Chief Inspector Noemi Austero, forensic chemist of the PNP Crime
Laboratory, Region XI, on specimens taken from the confiscated items confirmed the police officers suspicion.The
plastic bag contained 3,200 grams of marijuana leaves while the newspapers contained another 890 grams.[29] Police
Chief Inspector Austero reduced her findings in her report, Physical Sciences Report No. D-220-99 dated 2 August
1999.[30]
Noel Tudtud and his companion, Dindo Bulong, were subsequently charged[31] before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Davao City with illegal possession of prohibited drugs.[32] Upon arraignment, both accused pleaded not guilty.[33] The
defense, however, reserved their right to question the validity of their arrest and the seizure of the evidence against
them.[34]
Trial ensued thereafter.
The prosecution presented five witnesses, namely, arresting officers PO1 Desierto and PO1 Floreta, their civilian
informant Bobong Solier, forensic chemist Police Chief Inspector Noemi Austero, and SPO3 Nicolas Algabre, exhibit
custodian of the PNP Crime Laboratory. Said witnesses testified to the foregoing narration of facts.
The accused, denying the charges against them, cried frame-up.
Noel Tudtud recalled that on August 1, 1999 he had gone to Kabacan, North Cotabato to sell pairs of Levis pants, which
was his sideline.[35] At about 5:00 in the afternoon, he returned to Davao City by bus.[36] Upon reaching Toril, Tudtud,
along with less than ten passengers, got down the bus.[37]
Suddenly, a man who identified himself as a police officer approached him, pointing a .38 caliber revolver. [38] The man
told him not to run.[39] Tudtud raised his arms and asked, Sir, what is this about?[40] The man answered that he would
like to inspect the plastic bag Tudtud was carrying, and instructed Tudtud to open the bag, which revealed several pairs
of Levis pants.[41]
The man then directed Tudtud to open a carton box some two meters away.[42] According to Tudtud, the box was
already there when he disembarked the bus.[43]Tudtud told the man the box was not his, but proceeded to open it out of
fear after the man again pointed his revolver at him.[44] Tudtud discovered pieces of dried fish, underneath which was
something wrapped in cellophane.[45]
What is that? the man asked.[46] Tudtud replied that he did not know.[47] Without even unwrapping the cellophane, the
man said it was marijuana and abruptly handcuffed Tudtud.[48]
Simultaneously, another man was pointing a firearm at Dindo Bolong at the other side of the street, some eight meters
from Tudtud.[49]
Bolong recounted that he was on his way to a relative in Daliao after attending a cousins wedding in Hagonoy, Davao
del Sur when he was accosted.[50] After alighting the bus, Bolong crossed the street.[51] Someone then approached him
and pointed a gun at him.[52] The man ordered him not to move and handcuffed him.[53] Bolong asked why he was being
arrested but the man just told him to go with them.[54]
The suspects were then taken to the police station where, they would later claim, they met each other for the first
time.[55]
Assailing the credibility of informant Bobong Solier, the defense offered the testimonies of Felicia Julaton,[56] Branch 3
Clerk of Court, Claudio Bohevia,[57] Branch 7 Clerk of Court, and Mercedita Abunda,[58] Branch 9 Utility Clerk, all of the
Davao City Municipal Trial Circuit Court. They testified and presented court documents showing that one Bobo or
Bobong Ramirez was charged in their respective branches with various crimes, specifically, light threats, less serious
physical injuries and robbery. The defense asserted that the Bobo or Bobong Ramirez accused in these cases is the
same person as the informant Bobong Solier.[59]
Swayed by the prosecutions evidence beyond reasonable doubt, the RTC rendered judgment convicting both accused
as charged and sentencing them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of P500,000.00.[60]
On appeal, Noel Tudtud and Dindo Bolong assign, among other errors, the admission in evidence of the marijuana
leaves, which they claim were seized in violation of their right against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The right against unreasonable searches and seizures is secured by Section 2, Article III of the Constitution, which
states:
SEC. 2. The right of the people to be secured in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable
searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of
arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or
affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the places to be searched
and the persons or things to be seized.
The rule is that a search and seizure must be carried out through or with a judicial warrant; otherwise, such search and
seizure becomes unreasonable within the meaning of the above-quoted constitutional provision, and any evidence
secured thereby, will be inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any proceeding.[61] Section 3 (2), Article III of the
Constitution explicitly provides:
(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.
The proscription in Section 2, Article III, however, covers only unreasonable searches and seizures. The following
instances are not deemed unreasonable even in the absence of a warrant:
1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest. (Sec. 12, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court and prevailing
jurisprudence);
2. Search of evidence in plain view. The elements are: (a) a prior valid intrusion based on the valid warrantless arrest in
which the police are legally present in the pursuit of their official duties; (b) the evidence was inadvertently discovered
by the police who have the right to be where they are; (c) the evidence must be immediately apparent; (d) plain view
justified mere seizure of evidence without further search;
3. Search of a moving vehicle. Highly regulated by the government, the vehicles inherent mobility reduces expectation
of privacy especially when its transit in public thoroughfares furnishes a highly reasonable suspicion amounting to
probable cause that the occupant committed a criminal activity;
4. Consented warrantless search;
5. Customs search;
6. Stop and Frisk; and
7. Exigent and emergency circumstances.[62]
The RTC justified the warrantless search of appellants belongings under the first exception, as a search incident to a
lawful arrest. It cited as authorities this Courts rulings in People v. Claudio,[63] People v. Tangliben,[64] People v.
Montilla,[65] and People v. Valdez.[66] The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), in arguing for the affirmance of the
appealed decision, invokes the cases of People v. Maspil, Jr.,[67] People v. Malmstedt,[68] and People v. Bagista.[69]
A search incidental to a lawful arrest is sanctioned by the Rules of Court. Prior to its revision in 2000, Section
12,[70] Rule 126 of said Rules read as follows:
SEC. 12. Search incident to lawful arrest. A person lawfully arrested may be searched for dangerous weapons or
anything which may be used as proof of the commission of an offense, without a search warrant.
Section 5 (a), Rule 113 of the Rules, in turn, allows warrantless arrests:
SEC. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit
an offense;
.
It is significant to note that the search in question preceded the arrest. Recent jurisprudence holds that the arrest must
precede the search; the process cannot be reversed.[71] Nevertheless, a search substantially contemporaneous with an
arrest can precede the arrest if the police have probable cause to make the arrest at the outset of the search.[72] The
question, therefore, is whether the police in this case had probable cause to arrest appellants. Probable cause has been
defined as:
an actual belief or reasonable grounds of suspicion. The grounds of suspicion are reasonable when, in the absence of
actual belief of the arresting officers, the suspicion that the person to be arrested is probably guilty of committing the
offense, is based on actual facts, i.e., supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to create the
probable cause of guilt of the person to be arrested. A reasonable suspicion therefore must be founded on probable
cause, coupled with good faith of the peace officers making the arrest.[73]
The long-standing rule in this jurisdiction, applied with a great degree of consistency, is that reliable information alone is
not sufficient to justify a warrantless arrest under Section 5 (a), Rule 113. The rule requires, in addition, that the
accused perform some overt act that would indicate that he has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to
commit an offense.
In the leading case of People v. Burgos,[74] this Court held that the officer arresting a person who has just committed, is
committing, or is about to commit an offense must have personal knowledge of that fact. The offense must also be
committed in his presence or within his view.[75] In Burgos, the authorities obtained information that the accused had
forcibly recruited one Cesar Masamlok as member of the New Peoples Army, threatening the latter with a firearm. Upon
finding the accused, the arresting team searched his house and discovered a gun as well as purportedly subversive
documents. This Court, in declaring then Section 6 (a), Rule 113 of the Rules of Court inapplicable, ruled that:
There is no such personal knowledge in this case. Whatever knowledge was possessed by the arresting officers, it
came in its entirety from the information furnished by Cesar Masamlok.The location of the firearm was given by the
appellants wife.
At the time of the appellants arrest, he was not in actual possession of any firearm or subversive document. Neither was
he committing any act which could be described as subversive. He was, in fact, plowing his field at the time of the
arrest.
The right of a person to be secure against any unreasonable seizure of his body and any deprivation of his liberty is a
most basic and fundamental one. The statute or rule which allows exceptions to the requirement of warrants of arrest is
strictly construed. Any exception must clearly fall within the situations when securing a warrant would be absurd or is
manifestly unnecessary as provided by the Rule. We cannot liberally construe the rule on arrests without warrant or
extend its application beyond the cases specifically provided by law. To do so would infringe upon personal liberty and
set back a basic right so often violated and so deserving of full protection. [76]
Consequently, the items seized were held inadmissible, having been obtained in violation of the accuseds constitutional
rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.
In People v. Aminnudin,[77] this Court likewise held the warrantless arrest and subsequent search of appellant therein
illegal, given the following circumstances:
the accused-appellant was not, at the moment of his arrest, committing a crime nor was it shown that he was about to
do so or that he had just done so. What he was doing was descending the gangplank of the M/V Wilcon 9 and there
was no outward indication that he called for his arrest. To all appearances, he was like any of the other passengers
innocently disembarking from the vessel. It was only when the informer pointed to him as the carrier of the marijuana
that he suddenly became suspect and so subject to apprehension. It was the furtive finger that triggered his arrest. The
identification by the informer was the probable cause as determined by the officers (and not a judge) that authorized
them to pounce upon Aminnudin and immediately arrest him.[78]
Thus, notwithstanding tips from confidential informants and regardless of the fact that the search yielded contraband,
the mere act of looking from side to side while holding ones abdomen,[79] or of standing on a corner with ones eyes
moving very fast, looking at every person who came near,[80] does not justify a warrantless arrest under said Section 5
(a). Neither does putting something in ones pocket,[81] handing over ones baggage,[82] riding a motorcycle,[83] nor does
holding a bag on board a trisikad[84]sanction State intrusion. The same rule applies to crossing the street per se.[85]
Personal knowledge was also required in the case of People v. Doria.[86] Recently, in People v. Binad Sy Chua,[87] this
Court declared invalid the arrest of the accused, who was walking towards a hotel clutching a sealed Zest-O juice
box. For the exception in Section 5 (a), Rule 113 to apply, this Court ruled, two elements must concur: (1) the person to
be arrested must execute an overt act indicating he has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to
commit a crime; and (2) such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer. Reliable
information alone is insufficient.
In the following cases, the search was held to be incidental to a lawful arrest because of suspicious
circumstances: People v. Tangliben[88] (accused was acting suspiciously), People v. Malmstedt[89] (a bulge on the
accuseds waist), and People v. de Guzman[90] (likewise a bulge on the waist of the accused, who was wearing tight-
fitting clothes).
There is, however, another set of jurisprudence that deems reliable information sufficient to justify a search incident to a
warrantless arrest under Section 5 (a), Rule 113, thus deviating from Burgos. To this class of cases belong People v.
Maspil, Jr.,[91] People v. Bagista,[92] People v. Balingan,[93] People v. Lising,[94] People v. Montilla,[95]People v.
Valdez,[96] and People v. Gonzales.[97] In these cases, the arresting authorities were acting on information regarding an
offense but there were no overt acts or suspicious circumstances that would indicate that the accused has committed, is
actually committing, or is attempting to commit the same. Significantly, these cases, except the last two, come under
some other exception to the rule against warrantless searches. Thus, Maspil, Jr. involved a checkpoint
search, Balingan was a search of a moving vehicle, Bagista was both, and Lising and Montilla were consented
searches.
Nevertheless, the great majority of cases conforms to the rule in Burgos, which, in turn, more faithfully adheres to the
letter of Section 5(a), Rule 113. Note the phrase in his presence therein, connoting personal knowledge on the part of
the arresting officer. The right of the accused to be secure against any unreasonable searches on and seizure of his
own body and any deprivation of his liberty being a most basic and fundamental one, the statute or rule that allows
exception to the requirement of a warrant of arrest is strictly construed. Its application cannot be extended beyond the
cases specifically provided by law.[98]
The cases invoked by the RTC and the OSG are, therefore, gravely misplaced. In Claudio,[99] the accused, who was
seated aboard a bus in front of the arresting officer, put her bag behind the latter, thus arousing the latters
suspicion. In Tangliben and Malmstedt, the accused had also acted suspiciously.
As noted earlier, Maspil, Jr., Bagista and Montilla were justified by other exceptions to the rule against warrantless
searches. Montilla, moreover, was not without its critics. There, majority of the Court held:
Appellant insists that the mere fact of seeing a person carrying a traveling bag and a carton box should not elicit the
slightest suspicion of the commission of any crime since that is normal. But precisely, it is in the ordinary nature of
things that drugs being illegally transported are necessarily hidden in containers and concealed from view. Thus, the
officers could reasonably assume, and not merely on a hollow suspicion since the informant was by their side and had
so informed them, that the drugs were in appellants luggage. It would obviously have been irresponsible, if now
downright absurd under the circumstances, to require the constable to adopt a wait and see attitude at the risk of
eventually losing the quarry.
Here, there were sufficient facts antecedent to the search and seizure that, at the point prior to the search were already
constitutive of probable cause, and which by themselves could properly create in the minds of the officers a well-
grounded and reasonable belief that appellant was in the act of violating the law. The search yielded affirmance both of
that probable cause and the actuality that appellant was then actually committing a crime by illegally transporting
prohibited drugs. With these attendant facts, it is ineluctable that appellant was caught in flagrante delicto, hence his
arrest and the search of his belongings without the requisite warrant were both justified. [100]
While concurring with the majority, Mr. Justice Vitug reserved his vote on the discussion on the warrantless search
being incidental to a lawful arrest. Mr. Justice Panganiban, joined by Messrs. Justices Melo and Puno, filed a Separate
Opinion.
Although likewise concurring in the majoritys ruling that appellant consented to the inspection of his baggage, Justice
Panganiban disagreed with the conclusion that the warrantless search was incidental to a lawful arrest. He argued that
jurisprudence required personal knowledge on the part of the officers making the in flagrante delicto arrest. In Montilla,
the appellant did not exhibit any overt act or strange conduct that would reasonably arouse in their minds suspicion that
he was embarking on some felonious enterprise.
Law and jurisprudence in fact require stricter grounds for valid arrests and searches without warrant than for the
issuance of warrants therefore. In the former, the arresting person must have actually witnessed the crime being
committed or attempted by the person sought to be arrested; or he must have personal knowledge of facts indicating
that the person to be arrested perpetrated the crime that had just occurred. In the latter case, the judge simply
determines personally from testimonies of witnesses that there exists reasonable grounds to believe that a crime was
committed by the accused.
.
To say that reliable tips constitute probable cause for a warrantless arrest or search is in my opinion, a dangerous
precedent and places in great jeopardy the doctrines laid down in many decisions made by this Court, in its effort to
zealously guard and protect the sacred constitutional right against unreasonable arrests, searches and
seizures. Everyone would be practically at the mercy of so-called informants, reminiscent of the makapilis during the
Japanese occupation. Any one whom they point out to a police officer as a possible violator of the law could then be
subject to search and possible arrest. This is placing limitless power upon informants who will no longer be required to
affirm under oath their accusations, for they can always delay their giving of tips in order to justify warrantless arrests
and searches. Even law enforcers can use this as an oppressive tool to conduct searches without warrants, for they can
always claim that they received raw intelligence information only on the day or afternoon before. This would clearly be a
circumvention of the legal requisites for validly effecting an arrest or conducting a search and seizure. Indeed the
majoritys ruling would open loopholes that would allow unreasonable arrests, searches and seizures.[101]
Montilla would shortly find mention in Justice Panganibans concurring opinion in People v. Doria, supra, where this
Court ruled:
Accused-Appellant Gaddao was arrested solely on the basis of the alleged identification made by her co-accused. PO3
Manlangit, however, declared in his direct examination that appellant Doria named his co-accused in response to his
(PO3 Manlangits) query as to where the marked money was. Appellant Doria did not point to appellant Gaddao as his
associate in the drug business, but as the person with whom he left the marked bills. This identification does not
necessarily lead to the conclusion that appellant Gaddao conspired with her co-accused in pushing drugs. Appellant
Doria may have left the money in her house, with or without any conspiracy. Save for accused-appellant Dorias word,
the Narcom agents had no showing that the person who affected the warantless arrest had, in his own right, knowledge
of facts implicating the person arrested to the perpetration of a criminal offense, the arrest is legally
objectionable.[102] [Italics in the original.]
Expressing his accord with Mr. Justice Punos ponencia, Justice Panganiban said that Doria rightfully brings the Court
back to well-settled doctrines on warrantless arrests and searches, which have seemingly been modified through
an obiter in People v. Ruben Montilla.[103]
Montilla, therefore, has been seemingly discredited insofar as it sanctions searches incidental to lawful arrest under
similar circumstances. At any rate, Montilla was a consented search. As will be demonstrated later, the same could not
be said of this case.
That leaves the prosecution with People v. Valdez, which, however, involved an on-the-spot information. The urgency of
the circumstances, an element not present in this case, prevented the arresting officer therein from obtaining a warrant.
Appellants in this case were neither performing any overt act or acting in a suspicious manner that would hint that a
crime has been, was being, or was about to be, committed. If the arresting officers testimonies are to be believed,
appellants were merely helping each other carry a carton box. Although appellant Tudtud did appear afraid and
perspiring,[104] pale[105] and trembling,[106] this was only after, not before, he was asked to open the said box.
In no sense can the knowledge of the herein arresting officers that appellant Tudtud was in possession of marijuana be
described as personal, having learned the same only from their informant Solier. Solier, for his part, testified that he
obtained his information only from his neighbors and the friends of appellant Tudtud:
Q What was your basis in your report to the police that Tudtud is going to Cotabato and get stocks of marijuana?
A Because of the protest of my neighbors who were saying who will be the person whou [sic] would point to him
because he had been giving trouble to the neighborhood because according to them there are [sic] proliferation of
marijuana in our place. That was the complained [sic] of our neighbors.
Q Insofar as the accused Tudtud is concerned what was your basis in reporting him particularly?
A His friends were the once who told me about it.
Q For how long have you know [sic] this fact of alleged activity of Tudtud in proliferation of marijuana?
A About a month.
.
Q Regarding the report that Tudtud went to Cotabato to get stocks of marijuana which led to his apprehension
sometime in the evening of August 1 and according to the report [which] is based on your report my question is, how did
you know that Tudtud will be bringing along with him marijuana stocks on August 1, 1999?
.
A Because of the information of his neighbor.[107]
In other words, Soliers information itself is hearsay. He did not even elaborate on how his neighbors or Tudtuds friends
acquired their information that Tudtud was responsible for the proliferation of drugs in their neighborhood.
Indeed, it appears that PO1 Floreta himself doubted the reliablility of their informant. He testified on cross-examination:
Q You mean to say that Bobot Solier, is not reliable?
A He is trustworthy.
Q Why [did] you not consider his information not reliable if he is reliable?
A (witness did not answer).
ATTY. CAETE:
Never mind, do not answer anymore. Thats all.[108]
The prosecution, on re-direct examination, did not attempt to extract any explanation from PO1 Floreta for his telling
silence.
Confronted with such a dubious informant, the police perhaps felt it necessary to conduct their own surveillance. This
surveillance, it turns out, did not actually consist of staking out appellant Tudtud to catch him in the act of plying his
illegal trade, but of a mere gather[ing] of information from the assets there.[109] The police officers who conducted such
surveillance did not identify who these assets were or the basis of the latters information. Clearly, such information is
also hearsay, not of personal knowledge.
Neither were the arresting officers impelled by any urgency that would allow them to do away with the requisite warrant,
PO1 Desiertos assertions of lack of time[110]notwithstanding. Records show that the police had ample opportunity to
apply for a warrant, having received Soliers information at around 9:00 in the morning; Tudtud, however, was expected
to arrive at around 6:00 in the evening of the same day.[111] In People v. Encinada, supra, the Court ruled that there was
sufficient time to procure a warrant where the police officers received at 4:00 in the afternoon an intelligence report that
the accused, who was supposedly carrying marijuana, would arrive the next morning at 7:00 a.m.:
Even if the information was received by Bolonia about 4:00 p.m. of May 20, 1992 at his house, there was sufficient time
to secure a warrant of arrest, as the M/V Sweet Pearl was not expected to dock until 7:00 a.m. the following
day. Administrative Circular No. 13 allows application for search warrants even after office hours:
3. Raffling shall be strictly enforced, except only in case where an application for search warrant may be filed directly
with any judge whose jurisdiction the place to be searched is located, after office hours, or during Saturdays, Sundays,
and legal holidays, in which case the applicant is required to certify under oath the urgency of the issuance thereof after
office hours, or during Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays; . . ..
The same procedural dispatch finds validation and reiteration in Circular No. 19, series of 1987, entitled Amended
Guidelines and Procedures on Application for search warrants for Illegal Possession of Firearms and Other Serious
Crimes Filed in Metro Manila Courts and Other Courts with Multiple Salas:
This Court has received reports of delay while awaiting raffle, in acting on applications for search warrants in the
campaign against loose firearms and other serious crimes affecting peace and order. There is a need for prompt action
on such applications for search warrant. Accordingly, these amended guidelines in the issuance of a search warrant are
issued:
1. All applications for search warrants relating to violation of the Anti-subversion Act, crimes against public order as
defined in the Revised Penal Code, as amended, illegal possession of firearms and/or ammunition and violations of the
Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended, shall no longer be raffled and shall immediately be taken cognizance of
and acted upon by the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, and Municipal Trial Court
under whose jurisdiction the place to be searched is located.
2. In the absence of the Executive Judge, the Vice-Executive Judge shall take cognizance of and personally act on the
same. In the absence of the Executive Judge or Vice-Executive Judge, the application may be taken cognizance of and
acted upon by any judge of the Court where application is filed.
3. Applications filed after office hours, during Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, shall likewise be taken cognizance of
and acted upon by any judge of the Court having jurisdiction of the place to be searched, but in such cases the
applicant shall certify and state the facts under oath, to the satisfaction of the judge, that its issuance is urgent.
4. Any judge acting on such application shall immediately and without delay personally conduct the examination of the
applicant and his witnesses to prevent the possible leakage of information. He shall observe the procedures,
safeguards, and guidelines for the issuance of search warrants provided for in this Courts Administrative Circular No.
13, dated October 1, 1985.[112] [Italics in the original.]
Given that the police had adequate time to obtain the warrant, PO1 Floretas testimony that the real reason for their
omission was their belief that they lacked sufficient basis to obtain the same assumes greater significance. This was
PO1 Floretas familiar refrain:
Q When Solier reported to you that fact, that Tudtud will be coming from Cotabato to get that (sic) stocks, you did not go
to court to get a search warrant on the basis of the report of Bobot Solier?
A No.
Q Why?
A Because we have no real basis to secure the search warrant.
Q When you have no real basis to secure a search warrant, you have also no real basis to search Tudtud and Bulong at
that time?
A Yes, sir.
.
Q And Bobot Solier told you that Tudtud, that he would already bring marijuana?
A Yes, sir.
Q And this was 9:00 a.m.?
A Yes, sir.
Q The arrival of Tudtud was expected at 6:00 p.m.?
A Yes, sir.
Q Toril is just 16 kilometers from Davao City?
A Yes, sir.
Q And the Office of the Regional Trial Court is only about 16 kilometers, is that correct?
A Yes, sir.
Q And it can be negotiated by thirty minutes by a jeep ride?
A Yes, sir.
Q And you can asked [sic] the assistance of any prosecutor to apply for the search warrant or the prosecutor do [sic] not
assist?
A They help.
Q But you did not come to Davao City, to asked [sic] for a search warrant?
A As I said, we do not have sufficient basis.[113]
It may be conceded that the mere subjective conclusions of a police officer concerning the existence of probable cause
is not binding on [the courts] which must independently scrutinize the objective facts to determine the existence of
probable cause and that a court may also find probable cause in spite of an officers judgment that none
exists.[114] However, the fact that the arresting officers felt that they did not have sufficient basis to obtain a warrant,
despite their own information-gathering efforts, raises serious questions whether such surveillance actually yielded any
pertinent information and even whether they actually conducted any information-gathering at all, thereby eroding any
claim to personal knowledge.
Finally, there is an effective waiver of rights against unreasonable searches and seizures if the following requisites are
present:
1. It must appear that the rights exist;
2. The person involved had knowledge, actual or constructive, of the existence of such right;
3. Said person had an actual intention to relinquish the right.[115]
Here, the prosecution failed to establish the second and third requisites. Records disclose that when the police officers
introduced themselves as such and requested appellant that they see the contents of the carton box supposedly
containing the marijuana, appellant Tudtud said it was alright. He did not resist and opened the box himself.
The fundamental law and jurisprudence require more than the presence of these circumstances to constitute a valid
waiver of the constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures. Courts indulge every reasonable
presumption against waiver of fundamental constitutional rights; acquiescence in the loss of fundamental rights is not to
be presumed.[116] The fact that a person failed to object to a search does not amount to permission thereto.
. As the constitutional guaranty is not dependent upon any affirmative act of the citizen, the courts do not place the
citizen in the position of either contesting an officers authority by force, or waiving his constitutional rights; but instead
they hold that a peaceful submission to a search or seizure is not a consent or an invitation thereto, but is merely a
demonstration of regard for the supremacy of the law.[117] [Underscoring supplied.]
Thus, even in cases where the accused voluntarily handed her bag[118] or the chairs[119] containing marijuana to the
arresting officer, this Court held there was no valid consent to the search.
On the other hand, because a warrantless search is in derogation of a constitutional right, peace officers who conduct it
cannot invoke regularity in the performance of official functions and shift to the accused the burden of proving that the
search was unconsented.[120]
In any case, any presumption in favor of regularity would be severely diminished by the allegation of appellants in this
case that the arresting officers pointed a gun at them before asking them to open the subject box. Appellant Tudtud
testified as follows:
Q This person who approached you according to you pointed something at you[.] [What] was that something?
A A 38 cal. Revolver.
Q How did he point it at you?
A Like this (Witness demonstrating as if pointing with his two arms holding something towards somebody).
Q This man[,] what did he tell you when he pointed a gun at you?
A He said do not run.
Q What did you do?
A I raised my hands and said Sir, what is this about?
Q Why did you call him Sir?
A I was afraid because when somebody is holding a gun, I am afraid.
Q Precisely, why did you address him as Sir?
A Because he was holding a gun and I believed that somebody who is carrying a gun is a policeman.
Q When you asked him what is this? What did he say?
A He said I would like to inspect what you are carrying.[]
Q What did you say when you were asked to open that carton box?
A I told him that is not mine.
Q What did this man say?
A He again pointed to me his revolver and again said to open.
Q What did you do?
A So I proceeded to open for fear of being shot.[121]
Appellants implied acquiescence, if at all, could not have been more than mere passive conformity given under coercive
or intimidating circumstances and is, thus, considered no consent at all within the purview of the constitutional
guarantee.[122] Consequently, appellants lack of objection to the search and seizure is not tantamount to a waiver of his
constitutional right or a voluntary submission to the warrantless search and seizure.[123]
As the search of appellants box does not come under the recognized exceptions to a valid warrantless search, the
marijuana leaves obtained thereby are inadmissible in evidence. And as there is no evidence other than the hearsay
testimony of the arresting officers and their informant, the conviction of appellants cannot be sustained.
The Bill of Rights is the bedrock of constitutional government. If people are stripped naked of their rights as human
beings, democracy cannot survive and government becomes meaningless. This explains why the Bill of Rights,
contained as it is in Article III of the Constitution, occupies a position of primacy in the fundamental law way above the
articles on governmental power.[124]
The right against unreasonable search and seizure in turn is at the top of the hierarchy of rights, [125] next only to, if not
on the same plane as, the right to life, liberty and property, which is protected by the due process clause.[126] This is as it
should be for, as stressed by a couple of noted freedom advocates,[127] the right to personal security which, along with
the right to privacy, is the foundation of the right against unreasonable search and seizure includes the right to exist,
and the right to enjoyment of life while existing. Emphasizing such right, this Court declared in People v. Aruta:
Unreasonable searches and seizures are the menace against which the constitutional guarantees afford full
protection. While the power to search and seize may at times be necessary to the public welfare, still it may be
exercised and the law enforced without transgressing the constitutional rights of the citizens, for the enforcement of no
statute is of sufficient importance to justify indifference to the basic principles of government.
Those who are supposed to enforce the law are not justified in disregarding the rights of the individual in the name of
order. Order is too high a price to pay for the loss of liberty. As Justice Holmes declared: I think it is less evil that some
criminals escape than that the government should play an ignoble part. It is simply not allowed in free society to violate
a law to enforce another, especially if the law violated is the Constitution itself.[128]
Thus, given a choice between letting suspected criminals escape or letting the government play an ignoble part, the
answer, to this Court, is clear and ineluctable.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City is REVERSED. Appellants Noel Tudtud y Paypa
and Dindo Bolong y Naret are hereby ACQUITTED for insufficiency of evidence. The Director of the Bureau of Prisons
is ordered to cause the immediate release of appellants from confinement, unless they are being held for some other
lawful cause, and to report to this Court compliance herewith within five (5) days from receipt hereof.
SO ORDERED.

People of the Philippines vs. Ruben T. Burgos


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. L-68955 September 4, 1986
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
RUBEN BURGOS y TITO, defendant-appellant.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:


This is an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Davao del Sur, 11 th Judicial Region, Digos, Davao
del Sur convicting defendant- appellant Ruben Burgos y Tito of The crime of Illegal Possession of Firearms in
Furtherance of Subversion. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, finding the guilt of accused Ruben Burgos sufficiently established beyond reasonable doubt, of the
offense charges , pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 9, in relation to General Order No. 6, dated September 22, 1972,
and General Order No. 7, dated September 23, 1972, in relation further to Presidential Decree No. 885, and considering
that the firearm subject of this case was not used in the circumstances as embraced in paragraph I thereof, applying the
provision of indeterminate sentence law, accused Ruben Burgos is hereby sentenced to suffer an imprisonment of
twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal maximum, as minimum penalty, to reclusion perpetua, as maximum penalty,
pursuant to sub-paragraph B, of Presidential Decree No. 9, as aforementioned, with accessory penalties, as provided
for by law.
As a result of this judgment, the subject firearm involved in this case (Homemade revolver, caliber .38, Smith and
Wesson, with Serial No. 8.69221) is hereby ordered confiscated in favor of the government, to be disposed of in
accordance with law. Likewise, the subversive documents, leaflets and/or propaganda seized are ordered disposed of
in accordance with law.
The information charged the defendant-appellant with the crime of illegal possession of firearm in furtherance of
subversion in an information which reads as follows:
That in the afternoon of May 13, 1982 and thereabout at Tiguman, Digos, Davao del Sur, Philippines, within the
jurisdiction of this Court, the above- named accused with intent to possess and without the necessary license, permit or
authority issued by the proper government agencies, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously keep,
possess, carry and have in his possession, control and custody one (1) homemade revolver, caliber .38, make Smith
and Wesson, with Serial No. 8.69221, which firearm was issued to and used by the accused at Tiguman, Digos, Davao
del Sur, his area of operations by one Alias Commander Pol for the New People's Army (NPA), a subversive
organization organized for the purpose of overthrowing the Government of the Republic of the Philippines through
lawless and violent means, of which the accused had knowledge, and which firearm was used by the accused in the
performance of his subversive tasks such as the recruitment of New Members to the NPA and collection of contributions
from the members.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
The evidence for the prosecution is summarized in the decision of the lower court as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
. . . Through the testimony of Pat. Pepito Bioco, and Sgt. Romeo Taroy, it appears that by virtue of an intelligent
information obtained by the Constabulary and INP units, stationed at Digos, Davao del Sur, on May 12, 1982, one
Cesar Masamlok personally and voluntarily surre0ndered to the authorities at about 9:00 o'clock A.M. at Digos, Davao
del Sur Constabulary Headquarters, stating that he was forcibly recruited by accused Ruben Burgos as member of the
NPA, threatening him with the use of firearm against his life, if he refused.
Along with his recruitment, accused was asked to contribute one (1) chopa of rice and one peso (P1.00) per month, as
his contribution to the NPA TSN, page 5, Hearing-October 14, 1982).
Immediately, upon receipt of said information, a joint team of PC-INP units, composed of fifteen (15) members, headed
by Captain Melchesideck Bargio, (PC), on the following day, May 13, 1982, was dispatched at Tiguman; Davao del Sur,
to arrest accused Ruben Burgos. The team left the headquarter at 1:30 P.M., and arrived at Tiguman, at more or less
2:00 o'clock PM where through the help of Pedro Burgos, brother of accused, the team was able to locate accused, who
was plowing his field. (TSN, pages 6-7, Hearing-October 14, 1982).
Right in the house of accused, the latter was caned by the team and Pat. Bioco asked accused about his firearm, as
reported by Cesar Masamlok. At first accused denied possession of said firearm but later, upon question profounded by
Sgt. Alejandro Buncalan with the wife of the accused, the latter pointed to a place below their house where a gun was
buried in the ground. (TSN, page 8, Hearing-October 14, 1982).
Pat. Bioco then verified the place pointed by accused's wife and dug the grounds, after which he recovered the firearm,
Caliber .38 revolver, marked as Exhibit "A" for the prosecution.
After the recovery of the firearm, accused likewise pointed to the team, subversive documents which he allegedly kept
in a stock pile of qqqcogon at a distance of three (3) meters apart from his house. Then Sgt. Taroy accordingly verified
beneath said cogon grass and likewise recovered documents consisting of notebook colored maroon with spiral bound,
Exhibit "B" for the prosecution; a pamphlet consisting of eight (8) leaves, including the front and back covers entitled
Ang Bayan, Pahayagan ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas, Pinapatnubayan ng Marxismo, Leninismo Kaisipang Mao
qqqZedong dated December 31, 1980, marked as Exhibit "C", and another pamphlet Asdang Pamantalaang Masa sa
Habagatang Mindanao, March and April 1981 issue, consisting of ten (10) pages, marked as Exhibit "D" for the
prosecution.
Accused, when confronted with the firearm Exhibit "A", after its recovery, readily admitted the same as issued to him by
Nestor Jimenez, otherwise known as a certain Alias Pedipol, allegedly team leader of the sparrow unit of New People's
Army, responsible in the liquidation of target personalities, opposed to NPA Ideological movement, an example was the
killing of the late Mayor Llanos and Barangay Captain of Tienda Aplaya Digos, Davao del Sur. (TSN, pages 1-16,
Hearing-October 14,1982).
To prove accused's subversive activities, Cesar Masamlok, a former NPA convert was presented, who declared that on
March 7, 1972, in his former residence at Tiguman Digos, Davao del Sur, accused Ruben Burgos, accompanied by his
companions Landrino Burgos, Oscar Gomez and Antonio Burgos, went to his house at about 5:00 o'clock P.M. and
called him downstair. Thereupon, accused told Masamlok, their purpose was to ask rice and one (1) peso from him, as
his contribution to their companions, the NPA of which he is now a member. (TSN, pages 70, 71, 72, Hearing-January
4, 1983).
Accused and his companions told Masamlok, he has to join their group otherwise, he and his family will be killed. He
was also warned not to reveal anything with the government authorities. Because of the threat to his life and family,
Cesar Masamlok joined the group. Accused then told him, he should attend a seminar scheduled on April 19, 1982.
Along with this invitation, accused pulled gut from his waistline a .38 caliber revolver which Masamlok really saw, being
only about two (2) meters away from accused, which make him easily Identified said firearm, as that marked as Exhibit
"A" for the prosecution. (TSN, pages 72, 73, and 74, Hearing-January 4, 1983).
On April 19, 1982, as previously invited, Masamlok, accompanied by his father, Matuguil Masamlok, Isabel Ilan and
Ayok Ides went to the house of accused and attended the seminar, Those present in the seminar were: accused Ruben
Burgos, Antonio Burgos, Oscar Gomez, Landrino Burgos, alias Pedipol and one alias Jamper.
The first speaker was accused Ruben Burgos, who said very distinctly that he is an NPA together with his companions,
to assure the unity of the civilian. That he encouraged the group to overthrow the government, emphasizing that those
who attended the seminar were already members of the NPA, and if they reveal to the authorities, they will be killed.
Accused, while talking, showed to the audience pamphlets and documents, then finally shouted, the NPA will be
victorious. Masamlok likewise Identified the pamphlets as those marked as Exh. exhibits "B", "C", and "D" for the
prosecution. (TSN, pages 75, 76 and 77, Hearing-January 4, 1983)
Other speakers in said meeting were Pedipol, Jamper and Oscar Gomez, who likewise expounded their own opinions
about the NPA. It was also announced in said seminar that a certain Tonio Burgos, will be responsible for the collection
of the contribution from the members. (TSN, pages 78-79, Hearing- January 4, 1983)
On May 12, 1982, however, Cesar Masamlok surrendered to Captain Bargio of the Provincial Headquarters of the
Philippine Constabulary, Digos, Davao del Sur.
Assistant Provincial Fiscal Panfilo Lovitos was presented t prove that on May 19, 1982, he administered the
subscription of th extra-judicial confession of accused Ruben Burgos, marked as Exhibit "E " for the prosecution,
consisting of five (5) pages.
Appearing voluntarily in said office, for the subscription of his confession, Fiscal Lovitos, realizing that accused was not
represented by counsel, requested the services of Atty. Anyog, whose office is adjacent to the Fiscal's Office, to assist
accused in the subscription of his extra-judicial statement.
Atty. Anyog assisted accused in the reading of his confession from English to Visayan language, resulting to the
deletion of question No. 19 of the document, by an inserted certification of Atty. Anyog and signature of accused,
indicating his having understood, the allegations of his extra-judicial statement.
Fiscal Lovitos, before accused signed his statement, explained to him his constitutional rights to remain silent, right to
counsel and right to answer any question propounded or not.
With the aid of Atty. Anyog, accused signed his confession in the presence of Atty. Anyog and Fiscal Lovitos, without
the presence of military authorities, who escorted the accused, but were sent outside the cubicle of Fiscal Lovitos while
waiting for the accused. (TSN, pages 36-40, nearing November 15, 1982)
Finally, in order to prove illegal possession by accused of the subject firearm, Sgt. Epifanio Comabig in-charge of
firearms and explosives, NCO Headquarter, Philippine Constabulary, Digos, Davao del Sur, was presented and
testified, that among the lists of firearm holders in Davao del Sur, nothing was listed in the name of accused Ruben
Burgos, neither was his name included among the lists of persons who applied for the licensing of the firearm under
Presidential Decree No. 1745.
After the above-testimony the prosecution formally closed its case and offered its exhibits, which were all admitted in
evidence, despite objection interposed by counsel for accused, which was accordingly overruled.
On the other hand, the defendant-appellant's version of the case against him is stated in the decision as follows:
From his farm, the military personnel, whom he said he cannot recognize, brought him to the PC Barracks at Digos,
Davao del Sur, and arrived there at about 3:00 o'clock, on the same date. At about 8:00 o'clock P.M., in the evening, he
was investigated by soldiers, whom he cannot Identify because they were wearing a civilian attire. (TSN, page 14 1,
Hearing-June 15, 1983)
The investigation was conducted in the PC barracks, where he was detained with respect to the subject firearm, which
the investigator, wished him to admit but accused denied its ownership. Because of his refusal accused was mauled,
hitting him on the left and right side of his body which rendered him unconscious. Accused in an atmosphere of tersed
solemnity, crying and with emotional attachment, described in detail how he was tortured and the ordeals he was
subjected.
He said, after recovery of his consciousness, he was again confronted with subject firearm, Exhibit "A", for him to admit
and when he repeatedly refused to accept as his own firearm, he was subjected to further prolong (sic) torture and
physical agony. Accused said, his eyes were covered with wet black cloth with pungent effect on his eyes. He was
undressed, with only blindfold, pungent water poured in his body and over his private parts, making his entire body,
particularly his penis and testicle, terribly irritating with pungent pain.
All along, he was investigated to obtain his admission, The process of beating, mauling, pain and/or ordeal was
repeatedly done in similar cycle, from May 13 and 14, 1982. intercepted only whenever he fell unconscious and again
repeated after recovery of his senses,
Finally on May 15, 1982, after undergoing the same torture and physical ordeal he was seriously warned, if he will still
adamantly refuse to accept ownership of the subject firearm, he will be salvaged, and no longer able to bear any further
the pain and agony, accused admitted ownership of subject firearm.
After his admission, the mauling and torture stopped, but accused was made to sign his affidavit marked as Exhibit "E"
for the prosecution, consisting of five (5) pages, including the certification of the administering officer, (TSN, pages 141-
148, Hearing-June 15, 1983)
In addition to how he described the torture inflicted on him, accused, by way of explanation and commentary in details,
and going one by one, the allegations and/or contents of his alleged extrajudicial statement, attributed his answers to
those questions involuntarily made only because of fear, threat and intimidation of his person and family, as a result of
unbearable excruciating pain he was subjected by an investigator, who, unfortunately he cannot Identify and was able
to obtain his admission of the subject firearm, by force and violence exerted over his person.
To support denial of accused of being involved in any subversive activities, and also to support his denial to the truth of
his alleged extra-judicial confession, particularly questions Nos. 35, 38, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46 and 47, along with qqqs
answers to those questions, involving Honorata Arellano ahas Inday Arellano, said Honorata Arellano appeared and
declared categorically, that the above-questions embraced in the numbers allegedly stated in the extrajudicial
confession of accused, involving her to such NPA personalities, as Jamper, Pol, Anthony, etc., were not true because
on the date referred on April 28, 1982, none of the persons mentioned came to her house for treatment, neither did she
meet the accused nor able to talk with him. (TSN, pages 118- 121, Hearing-May 18, 1983)
She, however, admitted being familiar with one Oscar Gomez, and that she was personally charged with subversion in
the Office of the Provincial Commander, Philippine Constabulary, Digos, Davao del Sur, but said charge was dismissed
without reaching the Court. She likewise stated that her son, Rogelio Arellano, was likewise charged for subversion filed
in the Municipal Trial Court of Digos, Davao del Sur, but was likewise dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence to sustain
his conviction. (TSN, pages 121-122, in relation to her cross-examination, Hearing-May 18, 1983)
To support accused's denial of the charge against him, Barangay Captain of Tiguman, Digos, Davao del Sur, Salvador
qqqGalaraga was presented, who declared, he was not personally aware of any subversive activities of accused, being
his neighbor and member of his barrio. On the contrary, he can personally attest to his good character and reputation,
as a law abiding citizen of his barrio, being a carpenter and farmer thereat. (TSl pages 128-129, Hearing-May 18, 1983)
He however, admitted in cross-examination, that there were a lot of arrests made by the authorities in his barrio
involving subversive activities but they were released and were not formally charged in Court because they publicly took
their oath of allegiance with the government. (TSN, pages 133-134, in relation to page 136, Hearing-May 18, 1983)
Finally, to support accused's denial of the subject firearm, his wife, Urbana Burgos, was presented and who testified
that the subject firearm was left in their house by Cesar Masamlok and one Pedipol on May 10, 1982. It was night time,
when the two left the gun, alleging that it was not in order, and that they will leave it behind, temporarily for them to
claim it later. They were the ones who buried it. She said, her husband, the accused, was not in their house at that time
and that she did not inform him about said firearm neither did she report the matter to the authorities, for fear of the life
of her husband. (TSN, page 24, November 22, 1983)
On cross-examination, she said, even if Masamlok during the recovery of the firearm, was wearing a mask, she can still
Identify him. (TSN, page 6, Hearing-November 22, 1983)
After the above-testimony, accused through counsel formally rested his case in support of accused's through counsel
manifestation for the demurrer to evidence of the prosecution, or in the alternative for violation merely of simple illegal
possession of firearm, 'under the Revised Administrative Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 4, reflected in the
manifestation of counsel for accused. (TSN, pages 113-114, Hearing-May 18, 1983)
Accused-appellant Ruben Burgos now raises the following assignments of error, to wit:
I THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT (SIC) THE ARREST OF ACCUSED-APPELLANT WITHOUT VALID
WARRANT TO BE LAWFUL.
II THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THE SEARCH IN THE HOUSE OF ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR
FIREARM WITHOUT VALID WARRANT TO BE LAWFUL.
III THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HOLDING ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT FOR
VIOLATION OF P.D. No. 9 IN RELATION TO GENERAL ORDERS NOS. 6 AND 7
Was the arrest of Ruben Burgos lawful? Were the search of his house and the subsequent confiscation of a firearm and
documents allegedly found therein conducted in a lawful and valid manner? Does the evidence sustaining the crime
charged meet the test of proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt?
The records of the case disclose that when the police authorities went to the house of Ruben Burgos for the purpose of
arresting him upon information given by Cesar Masamlok that the accused allegedly recruited him to join the New
People's Army (NPA), they did not have any warrant of arrest or search warrant with them (TSN, p. 25, October 14,
1982; and TSN, p. 61, November 15, 1982).
Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution provides:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and
seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall not be violated, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall
issue except upon probable cause to be determined by the judge, or such other responsible officer as may be
authorized by law, after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce,
and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The constitutional provision is a safeguard against wanton and unreasonable invasion of the privacy and liberty of a
citizen as to his person, papers and effects. This Court explained in Villanueva vs. Querubin(48 SCRA 345) why this
right is so important:
It is deference to one's personality that lies at the core of this right, but it could be also looked upon as a recognition of a
constitutionally protected area, primarily one's home, but not necessarily thereto confined. (Cf. Hoffa v. United States,
385 US 293 [19661) What is sought to be guarded is a man's prerogative to choose who is allowed entry to his
residence. In that haven of refuge, his individuality can assert itself not only in the choice of who shall be welcome but
likewise in the kind of objects he wants around him. There the state, however powerful, does not as such have access
except under the circumstances above noted, for in the traditional formulation, his house, however humble, is his castle.
Thus is outlawed any unwarranted intrusion by government, which is called upon to refrain from any invasion of his
dwelling and to respect the privacies of his life, (Cf. Schmerber v. California, 384 US 757 [1966], Brennan, J. and Boyd
v. United States, 116 US 616, 630 [1886]). In the same vein, Landynski in his authoritative work (Search and Seizure
and the Supreme Court [1966], could fitly characterize this constitutional right as the embodiment of a 'spiritual concept:
the belief that to value the privacy of home and person and to afford its constitutional protection against the long reach
of government is no legs than to value human dignity, and that his privacy must not be disturbed except in case of
overriding social need, and then only under stringent procedural safeguards.' (Ibid, p. 47).
The trial court justified the arrest of the accused-appelant without any warrant as falling under one of the instances
when arrests may be validly made without a warrant. Rule 113, Section 6 * of the Rules of Court, provides the
exceptions as follows:
a) When the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is about to commit an offense in his
presence;
b) When an offense has in fact been committed, and he has reasonable ground to believe that the person to be arrested
has committed it;
c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is
serving final judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending or has escaped while being transferred from
one confinement to another.
The Court stated that even if there was no warrant for the arrest of Burgos, the fact that "the authorities received an
urgent report of accused's involvement in subversive activities from a reliable source (report of Cesar Masamlok) the
circumstances of his arrest, even without judicial warrant, is lawfully within the ambit of Section 6-A of Rule 113 of the
Rules of Court and applicable jurisprudence on the matter."
If the arrest is valid, the consequent search and seizure of the firearm and the alleged subversive documents would
become an incident to a lawful arrest as provided by Rule 126, Section 12, which states:
A person charged with an offense may be searched for dangerous weapons or anything which may be used as proof of
the commission of the offense.
The conclusions reached by the trial court are erroneous.
Under Section 6(a) of Rule 113, the officer arresting a person who has just committed, is committing, or is about to
commit an offense must have personal knowledge of that fact. The offense must also be committed in his presence or
within his view. (Sayo v. Chief of Police, 80 Phil. 859).
There is no such personal knowledge in this case. Whatever knowledge was possessed by the arresting officers, it
came in its entirety from the information furnished by Cesar Masamlok. The location of the firearm was given by the
appellant's wife.
At the time of the appellant's arrest, he was not in actual possession of any firearm or subversive document. Neither
was he committing any act which could be described as subversive. He was, in fact, plowing his field at the time of the
arrest.
The right of a person to be secure against any unreasonable seizure of his body and any deprivation of his liberty is a
most basic and fundamental one. The statute or rule which allows exceptions to the requirement of warrants of arrest is
strictly construed. Any exception must clearly fall within the situations when securing a warrant would be absurd or is
manifestly unnecessary as provided by the Rule. We cannot liberally construe the rule on arrests without warrant or
extend its application beyond the cases specifically provided by law. To do so would infringe upon personal liberty and
set back a basic right so often violated and so deserving of full protection.
The Solicitor General is of the persuasion that the arrest may still be considered lawful under Section 6(b) using the test
of reasonableness. He submits that. the information given by Cesar Masamlok was sufficient to induce a reasonable
ground that a crime has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof.
In arrests without a warrant under Section 6(b), however, it is not enough that there is reasonable ground to believe that
the person to be arrested has committed a crime. A crime must in fact or actually have been committed first. That a
crime has actually been committed is an essential precondition. It is not enough to suspect that a crime may have been
committed. The fact of the commission of the offense must be undisputed. The test of reasonable ground applies only to
the identity of the perpetrator.
In this case, the accused was arrested on the sole basis of Masamlok's verbal report. Masamlok led the authorities to
suspect that the accused had committed a crime. They were still fishing for evidence of a crime not yet ascertained. The
subsequent recovery of the subject firearm on the basis of information from the lips of a frightened wife cannot make the
arrest lawful, If an arrest without warrant is unlawful at the moment it is made, generally nothing that happened or is
discovered afterwards can make it lawful. The fruit of a poisoned tree is necessarily also tainted.
More important, we find no compelling reason for the haste with which the arresting officers sought to arrest the
accused. We fail to see why they failed to first go through the process of obtaining a warrant of arrest, if indeed they had
reasonable ground to believe that the accused had truly committed a crime. There is no showing that there was a real
apprehension that the accused was on the verge of flight or escape. Likewise, there is no showing that the whereabouts
of the accused were unknown,
The basis for the action taken by the arresting officer was the verbal report made by Masamlok who was not required to
subscribe his allegations under oath. There was no compulsion for him to state truthfully his charges under pain of
criminal prosecution. (TSN, p. 24, October 14, 1982). Consequently, the need to go through the process of securing a
search warrant and a warrant of arrest becomes even more clear. The arrest of the accused while he was plowing his
field is illegal. The arrest being unlawful, the search and seizure which transpired afterwards could not likewise be
deemed legal as being mere incidents to a valid arrest.
Neither can it be presumed that there was a waiver, or that consent was given by the accused to be searched simply
because he failed to object. To constitute a waiver, it must appear first that the right exists; secondly, that the person
involved had knowledge, actual or constructive, of the existence of such a right; and lastly, that said person had an
actual intention to relinquish the right (Pasion Vda. de Garcia v. Locsin, 65 Phil. 689). The fact that the accused failed to
object to the entry into his house does not amount to a permission to make a search therein (Magoncia v. Palacio, 80
Phil. 770). As pointed out by Justice Laurel in the case of Pasion Vda. de Garcia V. Locsin (supra)
xxx xxx xxx
. . . As the constitutional guaranty is not dependent upon any affirmative act of the citizen, the courts do not place the
citizen in the position of either contesting an officer's authority by force, or waiving his constitutional rights; but instead
they hold that a peaceful submission to a search or seizure is not a consent or an invitation thereto, but is merely a
demonstration of regard for the supremacy of the law. (56 C.J., pp. 1180, 1181).
We apply the rule that: "courts indulge every reasonable presumption against waiver of fundamental constitutional rights
and that we do not presume acquiescence in the loss of fundamental rights." (Johnson v. Zerbst 304 U.S. 458).
That the accused-appellant was not apprised of any of his constitutional rights at the time of his arrest is evident from
the records:
A CALAMBA:
Q When you went to the area to arrest Ruben Burgos, you were not armed with an arrest warrant?
A None Sir.
Q Neither were you armed with a search warrant?
A No Sir.
Q As a matter of fact, Burgos was not present in his house when you went there?
A But he was twenty meters away from his house.
Q Ruben Burgos was then plowing his field?
A Yes Sir.
Q When you called for Ruben Burgos you interviewed him?
A Yes Sir.
Q And that you told him that Masamlok implicated him?
A No Sir.
Q What did you tell him?
A That we received information that you have a firearm, you surrender that firearm, first he denied but when Sgt.
Buncalan interviewed his wife, his wife told him that it is buried, I dug the firearm which was wrapped with a cellophane.
Q In your interview of Burgos you did not remind him of his rights under the constitution considering that he was
purposely under arrest?
A I did not.
Q As a matter of fact, he denied that he has ever a gun?
A Yes Sir.
Q As a matter of fact, the gun was not in his possession?
A It was buried down in his horse.
Q As a matter of fact, Burgos did not point to where it was buried?
A Yes Sir.
(TSN, pp. 25-26, Hearing-October 14, 1982)
Considering that the questioned firearm and the alleged subversive documents were obtained in violation of the
accused's constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, it follows that they are inadmissible as
evidence.
There is another aspect of this case.
In proving ownership of the questioned firearm and alleged subversive documents, the prosecution presented the two
arresting officers who testified that the accused readily admitted ownership of the gun after qqqs wife pointed to the
place where it was buried. The officers stated that it was the accused himself who voluntarily pointed to the place where
the alleged subversive documents were hidden.
Assuming this to be true, it should be recalled that the accused was never informed of his constitutional rights at the
time of his arrest. So that when the accused allegedly admitted ownership of the gun and pointed to the location of the
subversive documents after questioning, the admissions were obtained in violation of the constitutional right against
self-incrimination under Sec. 20 of Art. IV of the Bill of Rights winch provides:
No person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. Any person under investigation for the commission of an
offense shall have the right to remain silent and to counsel, and to be informed of such right.. . .
The Constitution itself mandates that any evidence obtained in violation of this right is inadmissible in evidence.
Consequently, the testimonies of the arresting officers as to the admissions made by the appellant cannot be used
against him.
The trial court validly rejected the extra-judicial confession of the accused as inadmissible in evidence. The court stated
that the appellant's having been exhaustively subjected to physical terror, violence, and third degree measures may not
have been supported by reliable evidence but the failure to present the investigator who conducted the investigation
gives rise to the "provocative presumption" that indeed torture and physical violence may have been committed as
stated.
The accused-appellant was not accorded his constitutional right to be assisted by counsel during the custodial
interrogation. The lower court correctly pointed out that the securing of counsel, Atty. Anyog, to help the accused when
he subscribed under oath to his statement at the Fiscal's Office was too late. It could have no palliative effect. It cannot
cure the absence of counsel at the time of the custodial investigation when the extrajudicial statement was being taken.
With the extra-judicial confession, the firearm, and the alleged subversive documents inadmissible in evidence against
the accused-appellant, the only remaining proof to sustain the charge of Illegal Possession of Firearm in Furtherance of
Subversion is the testimony of Cesar Masamlok.
We find the testimony of Masamlok inadequate to convict Burgos beyond reasonable doubt. It is true that the trial court
found Masamlok's testimony credible and convincing. However, we are not necessarily bound by the credibility which
the trial court attaches to a particular witness. As stated in People vs.. Cabrera (100 SCRA 424):
xxx xxx xxx
. . .Time and again we have stated that when it comes to question of credibility the findings of the trial court are entitled
to great respect upon appeal for the obvious reason th+at it was able to observe the demeanor, actuations and
deportment of the witnesses during the trial. But we have also said that this rule is not absolute for otherwise there
would be no reversals of convictions upon appeal. We must reject the findings of the trial court where the record
discloses circumstances of weight and substance which were not properly appreciated by the trial court.
The situation under which Cesar Masamlok testified is analogous to that found in People vs. Capadocia (17 SCRA 98
1):
. . . The case against appellant is built on Ternura's testimony, and the issue hinges on how much credence can be
accorded to him. The first consideration is that said testimony stands uncorroborated. Ternura was the only witness who
testified on the mimeographing incident. . . .
xxx xxx xxx
. . .He was a confessed Huk under detention at the time. He knew his fate depended upon how much he cooperated
with the authorities, who were then engaged in a vigorous anti-dissident campaign. As in the case of Rodrigo de Jesus,
whose testimony We discounted for the same reason, that of Ternura cannot be considered as proceeding from a totally
unbiased source. . . .
In the instant case, Masamlok's testimony was totally uncorroborated. Considering that Masamlok surrendered to the
military certainly his fate depended on how eagerly he cooperated with the authorities. Otherwise, he would also be
charged with subversion. The trade-off appears to be his membership in the Civil Home Defense Force. (TSN, p. 83,
January 4, 1983). Masamlok may be considered as an interested witness. It can not be said that his testimony is free
from the opportunity and temptation to be exaggerated and even fabricated for it was intended to secure his freedom.
Despite the fact that there were other persons present during the alleged NPA seminar of April 19, 1982 i.e.,
Masamlok's father ,Matuguil Masamlok, Isabel Ilan and Ayok Ides (TSN, p. 74, January 4, 1983) who could have
corroborated Cesar Masamlok's testimony that the accused used the gun in furtherance of subversive activities or
actually engaged in subversive acts, the prosecution never presented any other witness.
This Court is, therefore, constrained to rule that the evidence presented by the prosecution is insufficient to prove the
guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
As held in the case of People vs. Baia (34 SCRA 347):
It is evident that once again, reliance can be placed on People v. Dramayo (42 SCRA 59), where after stressing that
accusation is not, according to the fundamental law, synonymous with guilt, it was made clear: 'Only if the judge below
and the appellate tribunal could arrive at a conclusion that the crime had been committed precisely by the person on
trial under such an exacting test should the sentence be one of conviction. It is thus required that every circumstance
favoring his innocence be duly taken into account. The proof against him must survive the test of reason; the strongest
suspicion must not be permitted to sway judgment. The conscience must be satisfied that on the defendant could be
laid the responsibility for the offense charged; that not only did he perpetrate the act but that it amounted to a crime.
What is required then is moral certainty.' (Ibid, 64. Cf. People v. Alvarez, 55 SCRA 81; People v. Joven, 64 SCRA 126;
People vs. Ramirez, 69 SCRA 144; People vs. Godov 72 SCRA 69; People v. Lopez, 74 SCRA 205; People v.
Poblador, 76 SCRA 634; People v. Quiazon, 78 SCRA 513; People v. Nazareno, 80 SCRA 484; People vs. Gabilan 115
SCRA 1; People v. Gabiana, 117 SCRA 260; and People vs. Ibanga 124 SCRA 697).
We are aware of the serious problems faced by the military in Davao del Sur where there appears to be a well-
organized plan to overthrow the Government through armed struggle and replace it with an alien system based on a
foreign ideology. The open defiance against duly constituted authorities has resulted in unfortunate levels of violence
and human suffering publicized all over the country and abroad. Even as we reiterate the need for all freedom loving
citizens to assist the military authorities in their legitimate efforts to maintain peace and national security, we must also
remember the dictum in Morales vs. Enrile (1 21 SCRA 538, 569) when this Court stated:
While the government should continue to repel the communists, the subversives, the rebels, and the lawless with an the
means at its command, it should always be remembered that whatever action is taken must always be within the
framework of our Constitution and our laws.
Violations of human rights do not help in overcoming a rebellion. A cavalier attitude towards constitutional liberties and
protections will only fan the increase of subversive activities instead of containing and suppressing them.
WHEREFORE, the judgment of conviction rendered by the trial court is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The accused-
appellant is hereby ACQUITTED, on grounds of reasonable doubt, of the crime with which he has been charged.
The subject firearm involved in this case (homemade revolver, caliber .38, Smith and Wesson, with Serial No. 8.69221)
and the alleged subversive documents are ordered disposed of in accordance with law.
Cost de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
Feria (Chairman), Fernan, Alampay and Paras, JJ., concur.

People of the Philippines vs. Rogelio T. Mengote


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 87059 June 22, 1992


THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
ROGELIO MENGOTE y TEJAS, accused-appellant.

CRUZ, J.:
Accused-appellant Rogelio Mengote was convicted of illegal possession of firearms on the strength mainly of the stolen
pistol found on his person at the moment of his warrantless arrest. In this appeal, he pleads that the weapon was not
admissible as evidence against him because it had been illegally seized and was therefore the fruit of the poisonous
tree. The Government disagrees. It insists that the revolver was validly received in evidence by the trial judge because
its seizure was incidental to an arrest that was doubtless lawful even if admittedly without warrant.
The incident occurred shortly before noon of August 8, 1987, after the Western Police District received a telephone call
from an informer that there were three suspicious-looking persons at the corner of Juan Luna and North Bay Boulevard
in Tondo, Manila. A surveillance team of plainclothesmen was forthwith dispatched to the place. As later narrated at the
trial by Patrolmen Rolando Mercado and Alberto Juan, 1 they there saw two men "looking from side to side," one of
whom was holding his abdomen. They approached these persons and identified themselves as policemen, whereupon
the two tried to run away but were unable to escape because the other lawmen had surrounded them. The suspects
were then searched. One of them, who turned out to be the accused-appellant, was found with a .38 caliber Smith and
Wesson revolver with six live bullets in the chamber. His companion, later identified as Nicanor Morellos, had a fan knife
secreted in his front right pants pocket. The weapons were taken from them. Mengote and Morellos were then turned
over to police headquarters for investigation by the Intelligence Division.
On August 11, 1987, the following information was filed against the accused-appellant before the Regional Trial Court of
Manila:
The undersigned accuses ROGELIO MENGOTE y TEJAS of a violation of Presidential Decree No. 1866, committed as
follows:
That on or about August 8, 1987, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there wilfully,
unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession and under his custody and control a firearm, to wit:
one (1) cal. 38 "S & W" bearing
Serial No. 8720-T
without first having secured the necessary license or permit therefor from the proper authorities.
Besides the police officers, one other witness presented by the prosecution was Rigoberto Danganan, who identified
the subject weapon as among the articles stolen from him during the robbery in his house in Malabon on June 13, 1987.
He pointed to Mengote as one of the robbers. He had duly reported the robbery to the police, indicating the articles
stolen from him, including the revolver. 2 For his part, Mengote made no effort to prove that he owned the firearm or that
he was licensed to possess it and claimed instead that the weapon had been "Planted" on him at the time of his arrest. 3
The gun, together with the live bullets and its holster, were offered as Exhibits A, B, and C and admitted over the
objection of the defense. As previously stated, the weapon was the principal evidence that led to Mengote's conviction
for violation of P.D. 1866. He was sentenced to reclusion
perpetua. 4
It is submitted in the Appellant's Brief that the revolver should not have been admitted in evidence because of its illegal
seizure. no warrant therefor having been previously obtained. Neither could it have been seized as an incident of a
lawful arrest because the arrest of Mengote was itself unlawful, having been also effected without a warrant. The
defense also contends that the testimony regarding the alleged robbery in Danganan's house was irrelevant and should
also have been disregarded by the trial court.
The following are the pertinent provision of the Bill of Rights:
Sec. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable
searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of
arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or
affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched
and the persons or things to be seized.
Sec. 3 (1). The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court,
or when public safety or order requires otherwise as prescribed by law.
(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any
proceeding.
There is no question that evidence obtained as a result of an illegal search or seizure is inadmissible in any proceeding
for any purpose. That is the absolute prohibition of Article III, Section 3(2), of the Constitution. This is the celebrated
exclusionary rule based on the justification given by Judge Learned Hand that "only in case the prosecution, which itself
controls the seizing officials, knows that it cannot profit by their wrong will the wrong be repressed." The Solicitor
General, while conceding the rule, maintains that it is not applicable in the case at bar. His reason is that the arrest and
search of Mengote and the seizure of the revolver from him were lawful under Rule 113, Section 5, of the Rules of Court
reading as follows:
Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant when lawful. — A peace officer or private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person;
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit
an offense;
(b) When an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person
to be arrested has committed it; and
(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is
serving final judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from
one confinement to another.
In cases failing under paragraphs (a) and (b) hereof, the person arrested without a warrant shall be forthwith delivered
to the nearest police station or jail, and he shall be proceeded against in accordance with Rule 112, Section 7.
We have carefully examined the wording of this Rule and cannot see how we can agree with the prosecution.
Par. (c) of Section 5 is obviously inapplicable as Mengote was not an escapee from a penal institution when he was
arrested. We therefore confine ourselves to determining the lawfulness of his arrest under either Par. (a) or Par. (b) of
this section.
Par. (a) requires that the person be arrested (1) after he has committed or while he is actually committing or is at least
attempting to commit an offense, (2) in the presence of the arresting officer.
These requirements have not been established in the case at bar. At the time of the arrest in question, the accused-
appellant was merely "looking from side to side" and "holding his abdomen," according to the arresting officers
themselves. There was apparently no offense that had just been committed or was being actually committed or at least
being attempted by Mengote in their presence.
The Solicitor General submits that the actual existence of an offense was not necessary as long as Mengote's acts
"created a reasonable suspicion on the part of the arresting officers and induced in them the belief that an offense had
been committed and that the accused-appellant had committed it." The question is, What offense? What offense could
possibly have been suggested by a person "looking from side to side" and "holding his abdomen" and in a place not
exactly forsaken?
These are certainly not sinister acts. And the setting of the arrest made them less so, if at all. It might have been
different if Mengote bad been apprehended at an ungodly hour and in a place where he had no reason to be, like a
darkened alley at 3 o'clock in the morning. But he was arrested at 11:30 in the morning and in a crowded street shortly
after alighting from a passenger jeep with I his companion. He was not skulking in the shadows but walking in the clear
light of day. There was nothing clandestine about his being on that street at that busy hour in the blaze of the noonday
sun.
On the other hand, there could have been a number of reasons, all of them innocent, why his eyes were darting from
side to side and be was holding his abdomen. If they excited suspicion in the minds of the arresting officers, as the
prosecution suggests, it has nevertheless not been shown what their suspicion was all about. In fact, the policemen
themselves testified that they were dispatched to that place only because of the telephone call from the informer that
there were "suspicious-looking" persons in that vicinity who were about to commit a robbery at North Bay Boulevard.
The caller did not explain why he thought the men looked suspicious nor did he elaborate on the impending crime.
In the recent case of People v. Malmstedt, 5 the Court sustained the warrantless arrest of the accused because there
was a bulge in his waist that excited the suspicion of the arresting officer and, upon inspection, turned out to be a pouch
containing hashish. In People v. Claudio, 6 the accused boarded a bus and placed the buri bag she was carrying behind
the seat of the arresting officer while she herself sat in the seat before him. His suspicion aroused, be surreptitiously
examined the bag, which he found to contain marijuana. He then and there made the warrantless arrest and seizure
that we subsequently upheld on the ground that probable cause had been sufficiently established.
The case before us is different because there was nothing to support the arresting officers' suspicion other than
Mengote's darting eyes and his hand on his abdomen. By no stretch of the imagination could it have been inferred from
these acts that an offense had just been committed, or was actually being committed, or was at least being attempted in
their presence.
This case is similar to People v. Aminnudin, 7 where the Court held that the warrantless arrest of the accused was
unconstitutional. This was effected while be was coming down a vessel, to all appearances no less innocent than the
other disembarking passengers. He had not committed nor was be actually committing or attempting to commit an
offense in the presence of the arresting officers. He was not even acting suspiciously. In short, there was no probable
cause that, as the prosecution incorrectly suggested, dispensed with the constitutional requirement of a warrant.
Par. (b) is no less applicable because its no less stringent requirements have also not been satisfied. The prosecution
has not shown that at the time of Mengote's arrest an offense had in fact just been committed and that the arresting
officers had personal knowledge of facts indicating that Mengote had committed it. All they had was hearsay information
from the telephone caller, and about a crime that had yet to be committed.
The truth is that they did not know then what offense, if at all, had been committed and neither were they aware of the
participation therein of the accused-appellant. It was only later, after Danganan had appeared at the Police
headquarters, that they learned of the robbery in his house and of Mengote's supposed involvement therein. 8 As for
the illegal possession of the firearm found on Mengote's person, the policemen discovered this only after he had been
searched and the investigation conducted later revealed that he was not its owners nor was he licensed to possess it.
Before these events, the Peace officers had no knowledge even of Mengote' identity, let alone the fact (or suspicion)
that he was unlawfully carrying a firearm or that he was involved in the robbery of Danganan's house.
In the landmark case of People v. Burgos, 9 this Court declared:
Under Section 6(a) of Rule 113, the officer arresting a person who has just committed, is committing, or is about to
commit an offense must have personal knowledge of the fact. The offense must also be committed in his presence or
within his view. (Sayo v. Chief of Police, 80 Phil. 859). (Emphasis supplied)
xxx xxx xxx
In arrests without a warrant under Section 6(b), however, it is not enough that there is reasonable ground to believe that
the person to be arrested has committed a crime. A crime must in fact or actually have been committed first. That a
crime has actually been committed is an essential precondition. It is not enough to suspect that a crime may have been
committed. The fact of the commission of the offense must be undisputed. The test of reasonable ground applies only to
the identity of the perpetrator. (Emphasis supplied)
This doctrine was affirmed in Alih v. Castro, 10 thus:
If the arrest was made under Rule 113, Section 5, of the Rules of Court in connection with a crime about to be
committed, being committed, or just committed, what was that crime? There is no allegation in the record of such a
falsification. Parenthetically, it may be observed that under the Revised Rule 113, Section 5(b), the officer making the
arrest must have personal knowledge of the ground therefor as stressed in the recent case of People v.
Burgos. (Emphasis supplied)
It would be a sad day, indeed, if any person could be summarily arrested and searched just because he is holding his
abdomen, even if it be possibly because of a stomach-ache, or if a peace officer could clamp handcuffs on any person
with a shifty look on suspicion that he may have committed a criminal act or is actually committing or attempting it. This
simply cannot be done in a free society. This is not a police state where order is exalted over liberty or, worse, personal
malice on the part of the arresting officer may be justified in the name of security.
There is no need to discuss the other issues raised by the accused-appellant as the ruling we here make is sufficient to
sustain his exoneration. Without the evidence of the firearm taken from him at the time of his illegal arrest, the
prosecution has lost its most important exhibit and must therefore fail. The testimonial evidence against Mengote (which
is based on the said firearm) is not sufficient to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt of the crime imputed to him.
We commend Atty. Violeta Calvo-Drilon for her able and spirited defense of the accused-appellant not only in the brief
but also in the reply brief, which she did not have to file but did so just the same to stress the constitutional rights of her
client. The fact that she was acting only as a counsel de oficio with no expectation of material reward makes her
representation even more commendable.
The Court feels that if the peace officers had been more mindful of the provisions of the Bill of Rights, the prosecution of
the accused-appellant might have succeeded. As it happened, they allowed their over-zealousness to get the better of
them, resulting in their disregard of the requirements of a valid search and seizure that rendered inadmissible the vital
evidence they had invalidly seized.
This should be a lesson to other peace officers. Their impulsiveness may be the very cause of the acquittal of persons
who deserve to be convicted, escaping the clutches of the law because, ironically enough, it has not been observed by
those who are supposed to enforce it.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The accused-appellant is ACQUITTED and
ordered released immediately unless he is validly detained for other offenses. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Griño-Aquino, Medialdea and Bellosillo, JJ., concur.
Joey M. Pestilos, Dwight Macapanas, et al. vs. Moreno Generoso and People of the Philippines
G.R. No. 182601
JOEY M. PESTILOS, DWIGHT MACAPANAS, MIGUEL GACES, JERRY FERNANDEZ and RONALD MUNOZ,
Petitioners,
- versus -
MORENO GENEROSO and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

DECISION
BRION, J.:
We resolve the petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court challenging the decision
dated January 21, 2008 and the resolution
dated April 17, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CAG.R. SP No. 91541.
The appealed decision affirmed the Order dated March 16, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 96, Quezon
City, denying Joey M. Pestilos, Dwight Macapanas, Miguel Gaces, Jerry Fernandez, and Ronald Munoz's (petitioners)
Urgent Motion for Regular Preliminary Investigation, as well as their subsequent motion for reconsideration.
The Antecedent Facts
The records of the case reveal that on February 20, 2005, at around 3: 15 in the morning, an altercation ensued
between the petitioners and Atty. Moreno Generoso (Atty. Generoso) at Kasiyahan Street, Barangay Holy Spirit,
Quezon City where the petitioners and Atty. Generoso reside.
Atty. Generoso called the Central Police District, Station 6 (Batas an Hills Police Station) to report the incident.
Acting on this report, Desk Officer SPOl Primitivo Monsalve (SPOJ Monsalve) dispatched SP02 Dominador Javier
(SP02 Javier) to go to the scene of the crime and to render assistance.
SP02 Javier, together with augmentation personnel from the Airforce, A2C Alano Sayson and Airman Ruel Galvez,
arrived at the scene of the crime less than one hour after the alleged altercation
and they saw Atty. Generoso badly beaten.
Atty. Generoso then pointed to the petitioners as those who mauled him. This prompted the police officers to "invite" the
petitioners to go to Batasan Hills Police Station for investigation.
The petitioners went with the police officers to Batasan Hills Police Station.
At the inquest proceeding, the City Prosecutor of Quezon City found that the petitioners stabbed Atty. Generoso with a
bladed weapon. Atty. Generoso fortunately survived the attack.
In an Information dated February 22, 2005, the petitioners were indicted for attempted murder allegedly committed as
follows:
That on or about the 20th h day of February, 2005, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring together,
confederating with and mutually helping one another, with intent to kill, qualified with evident premeditation, treachery
and taking advantage of superior strength, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously commence the
commission of the crime of Murder directly by overt acts, by then and there stabbing one Atty. MORENO GENEROSO y
FRANCO, with a bladed weapon, but said accused were not able to perform all the acts of execution which would
produce the crime of Murder by reason of some cause/s or accident other than their own spontaneous desistance, that
is, said complainant was able to parry the attack, to his damage and prejudice.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
On March 7, 2005, the petitioners filed an Urgent Motion for Regular Preliminary Investigation
on the ground that they had not been lawfully arrested. They alleged that no valid warrantless arrest took place since
the police officers had no personal knowledge that they were the perpetrators of the crime. They also claimed that they
were just "invited" to the police station. Thus, the inquest proceeding was improper, and a regular procedure for
preliminary investigation should have been performed pursuant to Rule 112 of the Rules of Court.
On March 16, 2005, the RTC issued its order denying the petitioners' Urgent Motion for Regular Preliminary
Investigation.
The court likewise denied the petitioners' motion for reconsideration.
The petitioners challenged the lower court's ruling before the CA on a Rule 65 petition for certiorari. They attributed
grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, on the R TC for the denial of their motion for
preliminary investigation.
The Assailed CA Decision
On January 21, 2008, the CA issued its decision dismissing the petition for lack of merit.
The CA ruled that the word "invited" in the Affidavit of Arrest executed by SP02 Javier carried the meaning of a
command. The arresting officer clearly meant to arrest the petitioners to answer for the mauling of Atty. Generoso. The
CA also recognized that the arrest was pursuant to a valid warrantless arrest so that an inquest proceeding was called
for as a consequence. Thus, the R TC did not commit any grave abuse of discretion in denying the Urgent Motion for
Regular Preliminary Investigation.
The CA saw no merit in the petitioners' argument that the order denying the Urgent Motion for Regular Preliminary
Investigation is void for failure to clearly state the facts and the law upon which it was based, pursuant to Rule 16,
Section 3 of the Revised Rules of Court. The CA found that the RTC had sufficiently explained the grounds for the
denial of the motion.
The petitioners moved for reconsideration, but the CA denied the motion in its Resolution of April 17, 2008;
hence, the present petition.
The Issues
The petitioners cited the following assignment of errors:
I.
WHETHER OR NOT THE PETITIONERS WERE VALIDLY ARRESTED WITHOUT A WARRANT.
II.
WHETHER OR NOT THE PETITIONERS WERE LAWFULLY ARRESTED WHEN THEY WERE MERELY INVITED TO
THE POLICE PRECINCT.
III.
WHETHER OR NOT THE ORDER DENYING THE MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION IS VOID FOR
FAILURE TO STATE THE FACTS AND THE LAW UPON WHICH IT WAS BASED.
The petitioners primarily argue that they were not lawfully arrested. No arrest warrant was ever issued; they went to the
police station only as a response to the arresting officers' invitation. They even cited the Affidavit of Arrest, which
actually used the word "invited. "
The petitioners also claim that no valid warrantless arrest took place under the terms of Rule 112, Section 7 of the
Revised Rules of Court. The incident happened two (2) hours before the police officers actually arrived at the crime
scene. The police officers could not have undertaken a valid warrantless arrest as they had no personal knowledge that
the petitioners were the authors of the crime.
The petitioners additionally argue that the R TC' s Order denying the Urgent Motion for Regular Preliminary
Investigation is void because it was not properly issued.
The Court's Ruling
We find the petition unmeritorious and thus uphold the RTC Order. The criminal proceedings against the petitioners
should now proceed.
It is unfortunate that the kind of motion that the petitioners filed has to reach this Court for its resolution. The thought is
very tempting that the motion was employed simply to delay the proceedings and that the use of Rule 65 petition has
been abused.
But accepting things as they are, this delay can be more than compensated by fully examining in this case the legalities
surrounding warrantless warrants and establishing the proper interpretation of the Rules for the guidance of the bench
and the bar. These Rules have evolved over time, and the present case presents to us the opportunity to re-trace their
origins, development and the current applicable interpretation.
I. Brief history on warrantless arrests
The organic laws of the Philippines, specifically, the Philippine Bill of 1902,
and the 1935,
1973
and 1987
Constitutions all protect the right of the people to be secure in their persons against unreasonable searches and
seizures. Arrest falls under the term "seizure. "
This constitutional mandate is identical with the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The Fourth
Amendment traces its origins to the writings of Sir Edward Coke
and The Great Charter of the Liberties of England (Magna Carta Libertatum), sealed under oath by King John on the
bank of the River Thames near Windsor, England on June 15, 1215.
The Magna Carta Libertatum limited the King of England's powers and required the Crown to proclaim certain liberties
under the feudal vassals' threat of civil war.
The declarations in Chapter 29 of the Magna Carta Libertatum later became the foundational component of the Fourth
Amendment of the United States Constitution.
It provides:
No freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned, or be disseised
of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any otherwise destroyed; nor will we not
pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful Judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land, We will sell to no
man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.
[Emphasis supplied]
In United States v. Snyder,
the United States Supreme Court held that this constitutional provision does not prohibit arrests, searches and seizures
without judicial warrant, but only those that are unreasonable.
With regard to an arrest, it is considered a seizure, which must also satisfy the test of reasonableness.
In our jurisdiction, early rulings of the Court have acknowledged the validity of warrantless arrests. The Court based
these rulings on the common law of America and England that, according to the Court, were not different from the
Spanish laws.
These court rulings likewise justified warrantless arrests based on the provisions of separate laws then existing in the
Philippines.
In 1905, the Court held in The United States v. Wilson
that Section 37
of Act No. 183, or the Charter of Manila, defined the arresting officer's power to arrest without a warrant, at least insofar
as the City of Manila was concerned.
In The United States v. Vallejo, et al.,
the Court held that in the absence of any provisions under statutes or local ordinances, a police officer who held similar
functions as those of the officers established under the common law of England and America, also had the power to
arrest without a warrant in the Philippines.
The Court also ruled in The United States v. Santos
that the rules on warrantless arrest were based on common sense and reason.
It further held that warrantless arrest found support under the then Administrative Code
which directed municipal policemen to exercise vigilance in the prevention of public offenses.
In The United States v. Fortaleza,
the Court applied Rules 27, 28, 29 and 30
of the Provisional Law for the Application of the Penal Code which were provisions taken from the Spanish Law.
These rules were subsequently established and incorporated in our Rules of Court and jurisprudence. Presently, the
requirements of a warrantless arrest are now summarized in Rule 113, Section 5 which states that: Section 5. Arrest
without warrant; when lawful. - A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit
an offense;
(b) When an offense has just been committed, and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of
facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and
(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal 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 to another.
In cases falling under paragraph (a) and (b) above, the person arrested without a warrant shall be forth with delivered to
the nearest police station or jail and shall be proceeded against in accordance with section 7 of Rule 112.
A warrantless arrest under the circumstances contemplated under Section 5(a) above has been denominated as one "in
flagrante delicto," while that under Section 5(b) has been described as a "hot pursuit" arrest.
For purposes of this case, we shall focus on Section 5(b) - the provision applicable in the present case. This provision
has undergone changes through the years not just in its phraseology but also in its interpretation in our jurisprudence.
We shall first trace the evolution of Section 5(b) and examine the applicable American and Philippine jurisprudence to
fully understand its roots and its appropriate present application.
II. Evolution of Section 5(b), Rule 113
A. Prior to the 1940 Rules of Court
Prior to 1940, the Court based its rulings not just on American and English common law principle on warrantless arrests
but also on laws then existing in the Philippines. In Fortaleza,
the Court cited Rule 28 of the Provisional Law for the Application of the Penal Code which provided that:
Judicial and administrative authorities have power to detain, or to cause to be detained, persons whom there is
reasonable ground to believe guilty of some offense. It will be the duty of the authorities, as well as of their agents, to
arrest:
First. Such persons as may be arrested under the provisions of rule 27.
Second. A person charged with a crime for which the code provides a penalty greater than that of confinamiento.
Third. A person charged with a crime for which the code provides a penalty less than that of confinamiento, if his
antecedents or the circumstances of the case would warrant the presumption that he would fail to appear when
summoned by the judicial authorities.
The provisions of the preceding paragraph shall not apply, however, to a defendant who gives sufficient bond, to the
satisfaction of the authority or agent who may arrest him, and who it may reasonably be presumed will appear
whenever summoned by the judge or court competent to try him.
Fourth. A person coining under the provisions of the preceding paragraph may be arrested, although no formal
complaint has been filed against him, provided the following circumstances are present:
First. That the authority or agent had reasonable cause to believe that an unlawful act, amounting to a crime had been
committed.
Second. That the authority or agent had sufficient reason to believe that the person arrested participated in the
commission of such unlawful act or crime." [Emphasis and underscoring supplied]
In the same decision, the Court likewise cited Section 3 7 of the Charter of Manila, which provided that certain officials,
including police officers may, within the territory defined in the law, pursue and arrest without warrant, any person found
in suspicious places or under suspicious circumstances, reasonably tending to show that such person has committed,
or is about to commit any crime or breach of the peace.
In Santos,
the Court cited Miles v. Weston,
which ruled that a peace officer may arrest persons walking in the street at night when there is reasonable ground to
suspect the commission of a crime, although there is no proof of a felony having been committed.
The Court ruled in Santos that the arresting officer must justify that there was a probable cause for an arrest without a
warrant. The Court defined probable cause as a reasonable ground of suspicion, supported by circumstances
sufficiently strong in themselves as to warrant a reasonable man in believing that the accused is guilty. Besides
reasonable ground of suspicion, action in good faith is another requirement. Once these conditions are complied with,
the peace officer is not liable even if the arrested person turned out to be innocent.
Based on these discussions, it appears clear that prior to the 1940 Rules of Court, it was not necessary for the arresting
officer to first have knowledge that a crime was actually committed. What was necessary was the presence of
reasonably sufficient grounds to believe the existence of an act having the characteristics of a crime; and that the same
grounds exist to believe that the person sought to be detained participated in it. In addition, it was also established
under the old court rulings that the phrase "reasonable suspicion" was tantamount to probable cause without which, the
warrantless arrest would be invalid and the arresting officer may be held liable for its breach.
In The US. v. Hachaw,
the Court invalidated the warrantless arrest of a Chinaman because the arresting person did not state in what way the
Chinaman was acting suspiciously or the particular act or circumstance which aroused the arresting person's curiosity.
It appears, therefore, that prior to the establishment in our Rules of Court of the rules on warrantless arrests, the gauge
for a valid warrantless arrest was the arresting officer's reasonable suspicion (probable cause) that a crime was
committed and the person sought to be arrested has participated in its commission. This principle left so much
discretion and leeway on the part of the arresting officer. However, the 1940 Rules of Court has limited this discretion.
B. The 1940 Rules of Court
(Restricting the arresting
officer's determination of
probable cause)
Rules 27 and 28 of the Provisional Law for the Application of the Penal Code were substantially incorporated in Section
6, Rule 109 of the 1940 Rules of Court as follows:
SEC. 6. Arrest without warrant - When lawful. - A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a
person:
(a) When the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is about to commit an offense in his
presence;
(b) When an offense has in fact been committed, and he has reasonable ground to believe that the person to be
arrested has committed it;
(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is
serving final judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from
one confinement to another. [Emphasis and underscoring supplied]
These provisions were adopted in toto in Section 6, Rule 113 of the 1964 Rules of Court. Notably, the 1940 and 1964
Rules have deviated from the old rulings of the Court. Prior to the 1940 Rules, the actual commission of the offense was
not necessary in determining the validity of the warrantless arrest. Too, the arresting officer's determination of probable
cause (or reasonable suspicion) applied both as to whether a crime has been committed and whether the person to be
arrested has committed it.
However, under the 1940 and the 1964 Rules of Court, the Rules required that there should be actual commission of an
offense, thus, removing the element of the arresting officer's "reasonable suspicion of the commission of an offense."
Additionally, the determination of probable cause, or reasonable suspicion, was limited only to the determination of
whether the person to be arrested has committed the offense. In other words, the 1940 and 1964 Rules of Court
restricted the arresting officer's discretion in warrantless arrests under Section 6(b), Rule 113 of the 1964 Rules of
Court.
C. The more restrictive 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure
Section 6, Rule 113 of the 1964 Rules of Court again underwent substantial changes and was re-worded and re-
numbered when it became Section 5, Rule 113 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure, to wit:
Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when. lawful. - A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a
person:
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit
an offense;
(b) When an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person
to be arrested has committed it; and
(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is
serving final judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from
one confinement to another. In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) hereof, the person arrested without a warrant
shall be forthwith delivered to the nearest police station or jail, and he shall be proceeded against in accordance with
Rule 112, Section 7. [Emphasis and underscoring supplied]
As amended, Section 5(b ), Rule 113 of the 1985 Rules of Court retained the restrictions introduced under the 1964
Rules of Court. More importantly, however, it added a qualification that the commission of the offense should not only
have been "committed" but should have been "just committed." This limited the arresting officer's time frame for
conducting an investigation for purposes of gathering information indicating that the person sought to be arrested has
committed the crime.
D. The Present Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure
Section 5(b ), Rule 113 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure was further amended with the incorporation of the word
"probable cause" as the basis of the arresting officer's determination on whether the person to be arrested has
committed the crime.
Hence, as presently worded, Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that:
When an offense has just been committed, and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts
or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it.
From the current phraseology of the rules on warrantless arrest, it appears that for purposes of Section S(b ), the
following are the notable changes: first, the contemplated offense was qualified by the word "just," connoting
immediacy; and second, the warrantless arrest of a person sought to be arrested should be based on probable cause to
be determined by the arresting officer based on his personal knowledge of facts and circumstances that the person to
be arrested has committed it.
It is clear that the present rules have "objectified" the previously subjective determination of the arresting officer as to
the (1) commission of the crime; and (2) whether the person sought to be arrested committed the crime. According to
Feria, these changes were adopted to minimize arrests based on mere suspicion or hearsay.
As presently worded, the elements under Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure are: first,
an offense has just been committed; and second, the arresting officer has probable cause to believe based on personal
knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it.
For purposes of this case, we shall discuss these elements separately below, starting with the element of probable
cause, followed by the elements that the offense has just been committed, and the arresting officer's personal
knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed the crime.
i) First Element of Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure: Probable cause
The existence of "probable cause" is now the "objectifier" or the determinant on how the arresting officer shall proceed
on the facts and circumstances, within his personal knowledge, for purposes of determining whether the person to be
arrested has committed the crime.
i.a) U.S. jurisprudence on probable cause in warrantless arrests
In Payton v. New York,
the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment of the Federal Constitution does not prohibit arrests without a
warrant although such arrests must be reasonable. According to State v. Quinn,
the warrantless arrest of a person who was discovered in the act of violating the law is not a violation of due process.
The U.S. Supreme Court, however indicated in Henry v. United States
that the Fourth Amendment limited the circumstances under which warrantless arrests may be made. The necessary
inquiry is not whether there was a warrant or whether there was time to get one, but whether at the time of the arrest
probable cause existed. The term probable cause is synonymous to "reasonable cause" and "reasonable grounds."
In determining the existence of probable cause, the arresting officer should make a thorough investigation and exercise
reasonable judgment. The standards for evaluating the factual basis supporting a probable cause assessment are not
less stringent in warrantless arrest situation than in a case where a warrant is sought from a judicial officer. The
probable cause determination of a warrantless arrest is based on information that the arresting officer possesses at the
time of the arrest and not on the information acquired later.
In evaluating probable cause, probability and not certainty is the determinant of reasonableness under the Fourth
Amendment. Probable cause involves probabilities similar to the factual and practical questions of everyday life upon
which reasonable and prudent persons act. It is a pragmatic question to be determined in each case in light of the
particular circumstances and the particular offense involved.
In determining probable cause, the arresting officer may rely on all the information in his possession, his fair inferences
therefrom, including his observations. Mere suspicion does not meet the requirements of showing probable cause to
arrest without warrant especially if it is a mere general suspicion. Probable cause may rest on reasonably trustworthy
information as well as personal knowledge. Thus, the arresting officer may rely on information supplied by a witness or
a victim of a crime; and under the circumstances, the arresting officer need not verify such information.
In our jurisdiction, the Court has likewise defined probable cause in the context of Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure.
In Abelita Ill v. Doria et al.,
the Court held that personal knowledge of facts must be based on probable cause, which means an actual belief or
reasonable grounds of suspicion. The grounds of suspicion are reasonable when, in the absence of actual belief of the
arresting officers, the suspicion that the person to be arrested is probably guilty of committing the offense is based on
actual facts, i.e., supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to create the probable cause of guilt of
the person to be arrested. A reasonable suspicion, therefore, must be founded on probable cause, coupled with good
faith on the part of the peace officers making the arrest.
i.b) Probable cause under Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, distinguished from
probable cause in preliminary investigations and the judicial proceeding for the issuance of a warrant of arrest
The purpose of a preliminary investigation is to determine whether a crime has been committed and whether there is
probable cause to believe that the accused is guilty of the crime and should be held for triat.
In Buchanan v. Viuda de Esteban,
we defined probable cause as the existence of facts and circumstances as would excite the belief in a reasonable
mind, acting on the facts within the knowledge of the prosecutor, that the person charged was guilty of the crime for
which he was prosecuted.
In this particular proceeding, the finding of the existence of probable cause as to the guilt of the respondent was based
on the submitted documents of the complainant, the respondent and his witnesses.
On the other hand, probable cause in judicial proceedings for the issuance of a warrant of arrest is defined as the
existence of such facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent person to believe that an
offense has been committed by the person sought to be arrested.
Hence, before issuing a warrant of arrest, the judge must be satisfied that based on the evidence submitted, there is
sufficient proof that a crime has been committed and that the person to be arrested is probably guilty thereof. At this
stage of the criminal proceeding, the judge is not yet tasked to review in detail the evidence submitted during the
preliminary investigation. It is sufficient that he personally evaluates the evidence in determining probable cause
to issue a warrant of arrest.
In contrast, the arresting officer's determination of probable cause under Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure is based on his personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person sought to be arrested
has committed the crime. These facts or circumstances pertain to actual facts or raw evidence, i.e., supported by
circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to create the probable cause of guilt of the person to be arrested. A
reasonable suspicion therefore must be founded on probable cause, coupled with good faith on the part of the peace
officers making.the arrest.
The probable cause to justify warrantless arrest ordinarily signifies a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by
circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant a cautious man to believe that the person accused is guilty of
the offense with which he is charged,
or an actual belief or reasonable ground of suspicion, based on actual facts.
It is clear therefore that the standard for determining "probable cause" is invariable for the officer arresting without a
warrant, the public prosecutor, and the judge issuing a warrant of arrest. It is the existence of such facts and
circumstances that would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent person to believe that an offense has been committed
by the person sought to be arrested or held for trial, as the case may be.
However, while the arresting officer, the public prosecutor and the judge all determine "probable cause," within the
spheres of their respective functions, its existence is influenced heavily by the available facts and circumstance within
their possession. In short, although these officers use the same standard of a reasonable man, they possess dissimilar
quantity of facts or circumstances, as set by the rules, upon which they must determine probable cause.
Thus, under the present rules and jurisprudence, the arresting officer should base his determination of probable cause
on his personal knowledge of facts and circumstances that the person sought to be arrested has committed the crime;
the public prosecutor and the judge must base their determination on the evidence submitted by the parties.
In other words, the arresting officer operates on the basis of more limited facts, evidence or available information that he
must personally gather within a limited time frame.
Hence, in Santos,
the Court acknowledged the inherent limitations of determining probable cause in warrantless arrests due to the
urgency of its determination in these instances. The Court held that one should not expect too much of an ordinary
policeman. He is not presumed to exercise the subtle reasoning of a judicial officer. Oftentimes, he has no opportunity
to make proper investigation but must act in haste on his own belief to prevent the escape of the criminal.
ii) Second and Third Elements of Section 5(b), Rule 113:
The crime has just been committed/personal
knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person
to be arrested has committed it
We deem it necessary to combine the discussions of these two elements as our jurisprudence shows that these were
usually taken together in the Court's determination of the validity of the warrantless arrests that were made pursuant to
Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.
In Posadas v. Ombudsman,
the killing of Dennis Venturina happened on December 8, 1994. It was only on December 11, 1994 that Chancellor
Posadas requested the NBI's assistance. On the basis of the supposed identification of two (2) witnesses, the NBI
attempted to arrest Francis Carlo Taparan and Raymundo Narag three (3) days after the commission of the crime. With
this set of facts, it cannot be said that the officers have personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the persons
sought to be arrested committed the crime. Hence, the Court invalidated the warrantless arrest.
Similarly, in People v. Burgos,
one Cesar Masamlok personally and voluntarily surrendered to the authorities, stating that Ruben Burgos forcibly
recruited him to become a member of the NPA, with a threat of physical harm. Upon receipt of this information, a joint
team of PC-INP units was dispatched to arrest Burgos who was then plowing the field. Indeed, the arrest was invalid
considering that the only information that the police officers had in effecting the arrest was the information from a third
person. It cannot be also said in this case that there was certainty as regards the commission of a crime.
In People v. del Rosario,
the Court held that the requirement that an offense has just been committed means that there must be a large measure
of immediacy between the time the offense was committed and the time of the arrest. If there was an appreciable lapse
of time between the arrest and the commission of the crime, a warrant of arrest must be secured.
The Court held that the arrest of del Rosario did not comply with these requirements because he was arrested only a
day after the commission of the crime and not immediately thereafter. Additionally, the arresting officers were not
present and were not actual eyewitnesses to the crime. Hence, they had no personal knowledge of facts indicating that
the person to be arrested had committed the offense. They became aware of del Rosario's identity as the driver of the
getaway tricycle only during the custodial investigation.
In People v. Cendana,
the accused was arrested one (1) day after the killing of the victim and only on the basis of information obtained from
unnamed sources. The unlawful arrest was held invalid.
In Rolito Go v. CA,
the arrest of the accused six ( 6) days after the commission of the crime was held invalid because the crime had not
just been committed. Moreover, the "arresting" officers had no "personal knowledge" of facts indicating that the accused
was the gunman who had shot the victim. The information upon which the police acted came from statements made by
alleged eyewitnesses to the shooting; one stated that the accused was the gunman; another was able to take down the
alleged gunman's car's plate number which turned out to be registered in the name of the accused's wife. That
information did not constitute "personal knowledge."
In People v. Tonog, Jr.,
the warrantless arrest which was done on the same day was held valid. In this case, the arresting officer had
knowledge of facts which he personally gathered in the course of his investigation, indicating that the accused was one
of the perpetrators.
In People v. Gerente,
the policemen arrested Gerente only about three (3) hours after Gerente and his companions had killed the victim. The
Court held that the policemen had personal knowledge of the violent death of the victim and of facts indicating that
Gerente and two others had killed him. The warrantless arrest was held valid.
In People v. Alvario,
the warrantless arrest came immediately after the arresting officers received information from the victim of the crime.
The Court held that the personal knowledge of the arresting officers was derived from the information supplied by the
victim herself who pointed to Alvario as the man who raped her at the time of his arrest. The Court upheld the
warrantless arrest. In People v. Jayson,
there was a shooting incident. The policemen who were summoned to the scene of the crime found the victim. The
informants pointed to the accused as the assailant only moments after the shooting. The Court held that the arresting
officers acted on the basis of personal knowledge of the death of the victim and of facts indicating that the accused was
the assailant. Thus, the warrantless arrest was held valid.
In People v. Acol,
a group held up the passengers in a jeepney and the policemen immediately responded to the report of the crime. One
of the victims saw four persons walking towards Fort Bonifacio, one of whom was wearing his jacket. The victim pointed
them to the policemen. When the group saw the policemen coming, they ran in different directions. The Court held that
the arrest was valid.
In Cadua v. CA,
there was an initial report to the police concerning a robbery. A radio dispatch was then given to the arresting officers,
who proceeded to Alden Street to verify the authenticity of the radio message. When they reached the place, they met
with the complainants who initiated the report about the robbery. Upon the officers' invitation, the victims joined them in
conducting a search of the nearby area where the accused was spotted in the vicinity. Based on the reported
statements of the complainants, he was identified as a logical suspect in the offense just committed. Hence, the arrest
was held valid.
In Doria,
the Court held that Section S(b ), Rule 113 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure does not require the arresting
officers to personally witness the commission of the offense.
In this case, P/Supt. Doria alleged that his office received a telephone call from a relative of Rosa Sia about a shooting
incident. He dispatched a team headed by SP03 Ramirez to investigate the incident. SP03 Ramirez later reported that a
certain William Sia was wounded while Judge Abelita III, who was implicated in the incident, and his wife just left the
place of the incident. P/Supt. Doria looked for Abelita III and when he found him, he informed him of the incident report.
P/Supt. Doria requested Abelita III to go with him to the police headquarters as he had been reported to be involved in
the incident. Abelita III agreed but suddenly sped up his vehicle and proceeded to his residence where P/Supt. Doria
caught him up as he was about to run towards his house.
The police officers saw a gun in the front seat of the vehicle beside the driver's seat as Abelita III opened the door. They
also saw a shotgun at the back of the driver's seat. The police officers confiscated the firearms and arrested Abelita III.
The Court held that the petitioner's act of trying to get away, coupled with the incident report which they investigated,
were enough to raise a reasonable suspicion on the part of the police authorities as to the existence of probable cause.
Based on these discussions, it appears that the Court's appreciation of the elements that "the offense has just been
committed" and ''personal knowledge of facts and circumstances that the person to be arrested committed it" depended
on the particular circumstances of the case. However, we note that the element of ''personal knowledge of facts or
circumstances" under Section S(b ), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure requires clarification.
The phrase covers facts or, in the alternative, circumstances. According to the Black's Law Dictionary,
"circumstances are attendant or accompanying facts, events or conditions. " Circumstances may pertain to events or
actions within the actual perception, personal evaluation or observation of the police officer at the scene of the crime.
Thus, even though the police officer has not seen someone actually fleeing, he could still make a warrantless arrest if,
based on his personal evaluation of the circumstances at the scene of the crime, he could determine the existence of
probable cause that the person sought to be arrested has committed the crime. However, the determination of probable
cause and the gathering of facts or circumstances should be made immediately after the commission of the crime in
order to comply with the element of immediacy.
In other words, the clincher in the element of ''personal knowledge of facts or circumstances" is the required element of
immediacy within which these facts or circumstances should be gathered. This required time element acts as a
safeguard to ensure that the police officers have gathered the facts or perceived the circumstances within a very limited
time frame. This guarantees that the police officers would have no time to base their probable cause finding on facts or
circumstances obtained after an exhaustive investigation.
The reason for the element of the immediacy is this - as the time gap from the commission of the crime to the arrest
widens, the pieces of information gathered are prone to become contaminated and subjected to external factors,
interpretations and hearsay. On the other hand, with the element of immediacy imposed under Section 5(b), Rule 113 of
the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, the police officer's determination of probable cause would necessarily be
limited to raw or uncontaminated facts or circumstances, gathered as they were within a very limited period of time. The
same provision adds another safeguard with the requirement of probable cause as the standard for evaluating these
facts of circumstances before the police officer could effect a valid warrantless arrest.
In light of the discussion above on the developments of Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure and our jurisprudence on the matter, we hold that the following must be present for a valid warrantless
arrest: 1) the crime should have been just committed; and 2) the arresting officer's exercise of discretion is limited by the
standard of probable cause to be determined from the facts and circumstances within his personal knowledge. The
requirement of the existence of probable cause objectifies the reasonableness of the warrantless arrest for purposes of
compliance with the Constitutional mandate against unreasonable arrests.
Hence, for purposes of resolving the issue on the validity of the warrantless arrest of the present petitioners, the
question to be resolved is whether the requirements for a valid warrantless arrest under Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure were complied with, namely: 1) has the crime just been committed when they
were arrested? 2) did the arresting officer have personal knowledge of facts and circumstances that the petitioners
committed the crime? and 3) based on these facts and circumstances that the arresting officer possessed at the time of
the petitioners' arrest, would a reasonably discreet and prudent person believe that the attempted murder of Atty.
Generoso was committed by the petitioners? We rule in the affirmative.
III. Application of Section S(b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules
of Criminal Procedure in the present case: there was a
valid warrantless arrest
We deem it necessary to review the records of the CA because it has misapprehended the facts in its decision.
From a review of the records, we conclude that the police officers had personal knowledge of facts or circumstances
upon which they had properly determined probable cause in effecting a warrantless arrest against the petitioners. We
note, however, that the determination of the facts in the present case is purely limited to the resolution of the issue on
the validity of the warrantless arrests of the petitioners.
Based on the police blotter
entry taken at 4:15 a.m. on February 20, 2005, the date that the alleged crime was committed, the petitioners were
brought in for investigation at the Batasan Hills Police Station. The police blotter stated that the alleged crime was
committed at 3:15 a.m. on February 20, 2005, along Kasiyahan St., Brgy. Holy Spirit, Quezon City.
The time of the entry of the complaint in the police blotter at 4:15 a.m., with Atty. Generoso and the petitioners already
inside the police station, would connote that the arrest took place less than one hour from the time of the occurrence of
the crime. Hence, the CA finding that the arrest took place two (2) hours after the commission of the crime is
unfounded.
The arresting officers' personal observation of Atty. Generoso's bruises when they arrived at the scene of the crime is
corroborated by the petitioners' admissions that Atty: Generoso indeed suffered blows from petitioner Macapanas and
his brother Joseph Macapanas,
although they asserted that they did it in self-defense against Atty. Generoso.
Atty. Generoso's bruises were also corroborated by the Medico-Legal Certificate
that was issued by East Avenue Medical Center on the same date of the alleged mauling. The medical check-up of
Atty. Generoso that was made about 8:10 a.m. on the date of the incident, showed the following findings: "Contusion
Hematoma, Left Frontal Area; Abrasion, T6 area, right midclavicular line periorbital hematoma, left eye; Abrasion, distal
3rd posterolateral aspect of right forearm; Abrasion, 4th and fifth digit, right hand; Abrasion on area of ih rib (L ant.
Chest wall), tenderness on L peripheral area, no visible abrasion. In addition, the attending physician, Dr. Eva P. Javier,
diagnosed Atty. Generoso of contusion hematoma, periorbital L., and traumatic conjunctivitis, o.s.
To summarize, the arresting officers went to the scene of the crime upon the complaint of Atty. Generoso of his alleged
mauling; the police officers responded to the scene of the crime less than one (1) hour after the alleged mauling; the
alleged crime transpired in a community where Atty. Generoso and the petitioners reside; Atty. Generoso positively
identified the petitioners as those responsible for his mauling and, notably, the petitioners
and Atty. Generoso
lived almost in the same neighborhood; more importantly, when the petitioners were confronted by the arresting
officers, they did not deny their participation in the incident with Atty. Generoso, although they narrated a different
version of what transpired.
With these facts and circumstances that the police officers gathered and which they have personally observed less than
one hour from the time that they have arrived at the scene of the crime until the time of the arrest of the petitioners, we
deem it reasonable to conclude that the police officers had personal knowledge of facts or circumstances justifying the
petitioners' warrantless arrests. These circumstances were well within the police officers' observation, perception and
evaluation at the time of the arrest. These circumstances qualify as the police officers' personal observation, which are
within their personal knowledge, prompting them to make the warrantless arrests.
Similar to the factual antecedents in Jayson,
the police officers in the present case saw Atty. Generoso in his sorry bloodied state. As the victim, he positively
identified the petitioners as the persons who mauled him; however, instead of fleeing like what happened in Jayson, the
petitioners agreed to go with the police officers.
This is also similar to what happened in People v. Tonog, Jr.
where Tonog did not flee but voluntarily went with the police officers. More than this, the petitioners in the present case
even admitted to have been involved in the incident with Atty. Generoso, although they had another version of what
transpired.
In determining the reasonableness of the warrantless arrests, it is incumbent upon the courts to consider if the police
officers have complied with the requirements set under Section 5(b), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure, specifically, the requirement of immediacy; the police officer's personal knowledge of facts or circumstances;
and lastly, the propriety of the determination of probable cause that the person sought to be arrested committed the
crime.
The records show that soon after the report of the incident occurred, SPOl Monsalve immediately dispatched the
arresting officer, SP02 Javier, to render personal assistance to the victim.
This fact alone negates the petitioners' argument that the police officers did not have personal knowledge that a crime
had been committed - the police immediately responded and had personal knowledge that a crime had been committed.
To reiterate, personal knowledge of a crime just committed under the terms of the above-cited provision, does not
require actual presence at the scene while a crime was being committed; it is enough that evidence of the recent
commission of the crime is patent (as in this case) and the police officer has probable cause to believe based on
personal knowledge of facts or circumstances, that the person to be arrested has recently committed the crime.
Considering the circumstances of the stabbing, particularly the locality where it took place, its occasion, the personal
circumstances of the parties, and the immediate on-the-spot investigation that took place, the immediate and
warrantless arrests of the perpetrators were proper. Consequently, the inquest proceeding that the City Prosecutor
conducted was appropriate under the circumstances.
IV. The term "invited" in the Affidavit of Arrest is construed to
mean as an authoritative command
After the resolution of the validity of the warrantless arrest, the discussion of the petitioners' second issue is largely
academic. Arrest is defined as the taking of a person into custody in order that he may be bound to answer for the
commission of an offense. An arrest is made by an actual restraint of the person to be arrested, or by his submission to
the custody of the person making the arrest.
Thus, application of actual force, manual touching of the body, physical restraint or a formal declaration of arrest is not
required. It is enough that there be an intention on the part of one of the parties to arrest the other and the intent of the
other to submit, under the belief and impression that submission is necessary.
Notwithstanding the term "invited" in the Affidavit of Arrest,
SP02 Javier could not but have the intention of arresting the petitioners following Atty. Generoso' s account. SP02
Javier did not need to apply violent physical restraint when a simple directive to the petitioners to follow him to the police
station would produce a similar effect. In other words, the application of actual force would only be an alternative if the
petitioners had exhibited resistance.
To be sure, after a crime had just been committed and the attending policemen have acquired personal knowledge of
the incidents of the crime, including the alleged perpetrators, the arrest of the petitioners as the perpetrators pointed to
by the victim, was not a mere random act but was in connection with a particular offense. Furthermore, SP02 Javier had
informed the petitioners, at the time of their arrest, of the charges against them before taking them to Batasan Hills
Police Station for investigation.
V. The Order denying the motion for preliminary
investigation is valid
In their last ditch attempt at avoidance, the petitioners attack the R TC Order denying the petitioners' urgent motion for
regular preliminary investigation for allegedly having been issued in violation of Article VIII, Section 14 of the 1987
Constitution
and Rule 16, Section 3 of the Revised Rules of Court.
The RTC, in its Order dismissing the motion, clearly states that the Court is not persuaded by the evidentiary nature of
the allegations in the said motion of the accused. Aside from lack of clear and convincing proof, the Court, in the
exercise of its sound discretion on the matter, is legally bound to pursue and hereby gives preference to the speedy
disposition of the case."
We do not see any taint of impropriety or grave abuse of discretion in this Order. The RTC, in resolving the motion, is
not required to state all the facts found in the record of the case. Detailed evidentiary matters, as the RTC decreed, is
best reserved for the full-blown trial of the case, not in the preliminary incidents leading up to the trial.
Additionally, no less than the Constitution itself provides that it is the decision that should state clearly and distinctly the
facts and the law on which it is based. In resolving a motion, the court is only required to state clearly and distinctly the
reasons therefor. A contrary system would only prolong the proceedings, which was precisely what happened to this
case. Hence, we uphold the validity of the RTC's order as it correctly stated the reason for its denial of the petitioners'
Urgent Motion for Regular Preliminary Investigation. WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby DENY the
petition, and hereby AFFIRM the decision dated January 21, 2008 and the resolution dated April 17, 2008 of the Court
of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91541. The City Prosecutor of Quezon City is hereby ORDERED to proceed with the
criminal proceedings against the petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
People of the Philippines vs. Medario Calatiao y Dimalanta
G.R. No. 203984
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,
- versus -
MEDARIO CALANTIAO y DIMALANTA, Accused-Appellant.

DECISION
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
This is an appeal from the January 1 7, 2012 Decision
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 04069, affirming in toto the July 23, 2009 Decision
of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Caloocan City, Branch 127, finding accused-appellant Medario Calantiao y
Dimalanta (Calantiao) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 or the
Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
On November 13, 2003, Calantiao was charged before the RTC of violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No.
9165 in an Information,
the pertinent portion of which reads: That on or about the 11th day of November, 2003 in Caloocan City, Metro Manila,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without any authority of law,
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession, custody and control two (2) bricks of dried
marijuana fruiting tops with a total weight of 997 .9 grams, knowing the same to be a dangerous drug.
The facts, as synthesized by the RTC and adopted by the Court of Appeals, are as follows:
EVIDENCE OF THE PROSECUTION
On November 13, 2003[,] at around 5:30 x x x in the afternoon, while PO1 NELSON MARIANO and PO3 EDUARDO
RAMIREZ were on duty, a certain EDWIN LOJERA arrived at their office and asked for police assistance regarding a
shooting incident. Per report of the latter, it appears that while driving a towing truck and traversing along EDSA,
Balintawak, Quezon City, he had a traffic dispute (gitgitan) with a white taxi cab prompting him to follow said vehicle
until they reached along 8th Avenue Street corner C-3 Road, Caloocan City. Thereat, the passengers of said taxi cab,
one of them was accused Calantiao, alighted and fired their guns. Surprised, Lojera could not do anything but continued
his driving until he reached a police station nearby where he reported the incident.
The police officers on duty then were PO1 NELSON MARIANO and PO3 EDUARDO RAMIREZ. PO1 Mariano testified
that they immediately responded to said complaint by proceeding to 5th Avenue corner 8th Street, Caloocan City where
they found the white taxi. While approaching said vehicle, two armed men alighted therefrom, fired their guns towards
them (police officers) and ran away. PO1 Mariano and PO3 Ramirez chased them but they were subdued. PO1
Mariano recovered from Calantiao a black bag containing two (2) bricks of dried marijuana fruiting tops and a magazine
of super 38 stainless with ammos, while PO3 Ramirez recovered from Calantiao’s companion [a] .38 revolver.
The suspects and the confiscated items were then turned over to SPO3 PABLO TEMENA, police investigator at
Bagong Barrio Police Station for investigation. Thereat, PO1 Mariano marked the bricks of marijuana contained in a
black bag with his initials, "NM". Thereafter, said specimen were forwarded to the PNP Crime Laboratory for chemical
analysis. The result of the examination conducted by P/SINSP. JESSSE DELA ROSA revealed that the same was
positive for marijuana, a dangerous drug.
The foregoing testimony of PO1 MARIANO was corroborated by PO3 RAMIREZ who testified that he personally saw
those bricks of marijuana confiscated from the accused. He confirmed that he was with PO1 Mariano when they
apprehended said accused and his companion and testified that while PO1 Mariano recovered from the accused a
black bag containing marijuana, on his part, he confiscated from accused’s companion a .38 revolver.
MR. CRISENDO AMANSEC, the driver of the taxi where the suspects boarded was also presented in open court and
testified as to what he knows about the incident. He confirmed that on that date, two (2) persons boarded on his taxi
and upon reaching C-3 Road, they alighted and fired three (3) shots and ran away.
Aside from the oral testimonies of the witnesses, the prosecution also offered the following documentary evidence to
boost their charge against the accused:
Exh. "A" - Request for Laboratory Examination dated November 12, 2003
Exh. "B" - Physical Sciences Report No. D-1423-03 dated November 12, 2003
Exh. "C-1" - Picture of First brick of marijuana fruiting tops
Exh. "C-2" - Picture of Second brick of marijuana fruiting tops
Exh. "D" - Referral Slip dated November 12, 2003
Exh. "E" - Pinagsamang Sinumpaang Salaysay dated November 12, 2003 of PO3 Eduardo Ramirez and PO1 Nelson
Mariano
Exh. "E-1" - Their respective signatures
Exh. "F" - Sinumpaang Salaysay of Crisendo Amansec (Erroneously marked as Exh. "E")
EVIDENCE OF THE DEFENSE
The accused offered a different version of the story. According to his testimony, this instant case originated from a traffic
mishap where the taxi he and his companion Rommel Reyes were riding almost collided with another car. Reyes then
opened the window and made a "fuck you" sign against the persons on board of that car. That prompted the latter to
chase them and when they were caught in a traffic jam, PO1 Nelson Mariano, one of the persons on board of that other
car alighted and kicked their taxi. Calantiao and Reyes alighted and PO1 Mariano slapped the latter and uttered,
"Putang ina mo bakit mo ako pinakyu hindi mo ba ako kilala?" Said police officer poked his gun again[st] Reyes and
when Calantiao tried to grab it, the gun fired. Calantiao and Reyes were then handcuffed and were brought to the police
station. Thereat, they were subjected to body frisking and their wallets and money were taken. PO1 Mariano then
prepared some documents and informed them that they will be charged for drugs. A newspaper containing marijuana
was shown to them and said police officer told them that it would be sufficient evidence against them. They were
detained and subjected to medical examination before they were submitted for inquest at the prosecutor’s office.
Ruling of the RTC
On July 23, 2009, the RTC rendered its Decision giving credence to the prosecution’s case. The dispositive portion of
the Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered declaring accused MEDARIO CALANTIAO y
DIMALANTA, GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT of the offense of Violation of Section 11, Article II, R.A. 9165,
for illegally possessing997.9 grams of marijuana fruiting tops. Henceforth, this Court hereby sentences him to suffer the
penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (Php500,000.00).
In convicting Calantiao, the RTC held that the illegal drug seized was admissible in evidence as it was discovered
during a body search after Calantiao was caught in flagrante delicto of possessing a gun and firing at the police officers.
Moreover, the RTC found all the elements of the offense to have been duly established by the prosecution.
Aggrieved, Calantiao appealed
his conviction to the Court of Appeals, assigning the following errors:
I
THE COURT A QUOGRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE
DOUBT FOR VIOLATION OF SECTION 11, ARTICLE II, REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9165, NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT
THAT THE ALLEGEDLY SEIZED ITEMS ARE INADMISSIBLE IN EVIDENCE.
II
THE COURT A QUOGRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE THE ARRESTING
OFFICERS’ PATENT NON-COMPLIANCE WITHTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE PROPER CUSTODY OF SEIZED
DANGEROUS DRUGS.
III
THE COURT A QUOGRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE THE
PROSECUTION’S FAILURE TO PROVE THE PROPER CHAIN OF CUSTODY OF THE SEIZED DANGEROUS
DRUGS.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals found no reason to overturn Calantiao’s conviction. It found that there was sufficient reason to
justify a warrantless arrest, as the police officers were acting on a legitimate complaint and had a reasonable suspicion
that the persons identified at the scene were the perpetrators of the offense. Likewise, the Court of Appeals held that
the search and subsequent seizure of the marijuana in question was lawful and valid, being incidental to a lawful arrest.
Finding that all the elements of the charge of illegal possession of dangerous drugs to be present and duly proven,
the Court of Appeals, on January 17, 2012, promulgated its Decision, affirming in toto the RTC’s ruling.
Undaunted, Calantiao is now before this Court praying for an acquittal, adding the following arguments in support of his
position:
First, the plain view doctrine is not an exception to a search incident to a valid warrantless arrest.
xxxx
Second, Calantiao did not waive the inadmissibility of the seized items.
xxxx
Finally, the seized items’ custodial chain is broken.
In essence, Calantiao is questioning the admissibility of the marijuana found in his possession, as evidence against him
on the grounds of either it was discovered via an illegal search, or because its custodial chain was broken.
Ruling of this Court
This Court finds no merit in Calantiao’s arguments.
Search and Seizure of
Marijuana valid
This Court cannot subscribe to Calantiao’s contention that the marijuana in his possession cannot be admitted as
evidence against him because it was illegally discovered and seized, not having been within the apprehending officers’
"plain view."
Searches and seizure incident to a lawful arrest are governed by Section 13, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure, to wit:
Section 13.Search incident to lawful arrest.- A person lawfully arrested may be searched for dangerous weapons or
anything which may have been used or constitute proof in the commission of an offense without a search warrant.
The purpose of allowing a warrantless search and seizure incident to a lawful arrest is "to protect the arresting officer
from being harmed by the person arrested, who might be armed with a concealed weapon, and to prevent the latter
from destroying evidence within reach."
It is therefore a reasonable exercise of the State’s police power to protect (1) law enforcers from the injury that may be
inflicted on them by a person they have lawfully arrested; and (2) evidence from being destroyed by the arrestee. It
seeks to ensure the safety of the arresting officers and the integrity of the evidence under the control and within the
reach of the arrestee.
In People v. Valeroso,
this Court had the occasion to reiterate the permissible reach of a valid warrantless search and seizure incident to a
lawful arrest, viz:
When an arrest is made, it is reasonable for the arresting officer to search the person arrested in order to remove any
weapon that the latter might use in order to resist arrest or effect his escape. Otherwise, the officer’s safety might well
be endangered, and the arrest itself frustrated. In addition, it is entirely reasonable for the arresting officer to search for
and seize any evidence on the arrestee’s person in order to prevent its concealment or destruction.
Moreover, in lawful arrests, it becomes both the duty and the right of the apprehending officers to conduct a warrantless
search not only on the person of the suspect, but also in the permissible area within the latter’s reach. Otherwise stated,
a valid arrest allows the seizure of evidence or dangerous weapons either on the person of the one arrested or within
the area of his immediate control. The phrase "within the area of his immediate control" means the area from within
which he might gain possession of a weapon or destructible evidence. A gun on a table or in a drawer in front of one
who is arrested can be as dangerous to the arresting officer as one concealed in the clothing of the person arrested.
(Citations omitted.)
In Valeroso, however, the Court held that the evidence searched and seized from him could not be used against him
because they were discovered in a room, different from where he was being detained, and was in a locked cabinet.
Thus, the area searched could not be considered as one within his immediate control that he could take any weapon or
destroy any evidence against him.
In the case at bar, the marijuana was found in a black bag in Calantiao’s possession and within his immediate control.
He could have easily taken any weapon from the bag or dumped it to destroy the evidence inside it. As the black bag
containing the marijuana was in Calantiao’s possession, it was within the permissible area that the apprehending
officers could validly conduct a warrantless search.
Calantiao’s argument that the marijuana cannot be used as evidence against him because its discovery was in violation
of the Plain View Doctrine, is misplaced.
The Plain View Doctrine is actually the exception to the inadmissibility of evidence obtained in a warrantless search
incident to a lawful arrest outside the suspect’s person and premises under his immediate control. This is so because
"[o]bjects in the ‘plain view’ of an officer who has the right to be in the position to have that view are subject to seizure
and may be presented as evidence."
"The doctrine is usually applied where a police officer is not searching for evidence against the accused, but
nonetheless inadvertently comes across an incriminating object x x x. [It] serves to supplement the prior justification -
whether it be a warrant for another object, hot pursuit, search incident to lawful arrest, or some other legitimate reason
for being present unconnected with a search directed against the accused - and permits the warrantless seizure."
The Plain View Doctrine thus finds no applicability in Calantiao’s situation because the police officers purposely
searched him upon his arrest. The police officers did not inadvertently come across the black bag, which was in
Calantiao’s possession; they deliberately opened it, as part of the search incident to Calantiao’s lawful arrest.
Inventory and Chain of
Custody of Evidence
Calantiao claims that even if the search and seizure were validly effected, the marijuana is still inadmissible as evidence
against him for failure of the apprehending officers to comply with the rules on chain of custody, as the item was marked
at the police station.
The pertinent provisions of Republic Act No. 9165 provide as follows:
Section 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of
Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory
Equipment. - The PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs,
controlled precursors and essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment so
confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for proper disposition in the following manner:
(1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and
confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom
such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and
the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory
and be given a copy thereof[.]
Its Implementing Rules and Regulations state:
SECTION 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of
Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory
Equipment. — The PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous
drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment
so confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for proper disposition in the following manner:
(a) The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately after seizure and
confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom
such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and
the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory
and be given a copy thereof; Provided, that the physical inventory and photograph shall be conducted at the place
where the search warrant is served; or at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending
officer/team, whichever is practicable, in case of warrantless seizures; Provided, further, that non-compliance with these
requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are
properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody
over said items[.] (Emphasis supplied.)
This Court has held that the failure to strictly comply with Section 21, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, such as
immediately marking seized drugs, will not automatically impair the integrity of chain of custody because what is of
utmost importance is the preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items, as these would be
utilized in the determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused.
Section 21 and its IRR do not even mention "marking." What they require are (1) physical inventory, and (2) taking of
photographs. As this Court held in People v. Ocfemia
:
What Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 and its implementing rule do not expressly specify is the matter of "marking" of the
seized items in warrantless seizures to ensure that the evidence seized upon apprehension is the same evidence
subjected to inventory and photography when these activities are undertaken at the police station rather than at the
place of arrest. Consistency with the "chain of custody" rule requires that the "marking" of the seized items - to truly
ensure that they are the same items that enter the chain and are eventually the ones offered in evidence - should be
done (1) in the presence of the apprehended violator (2) immediately upon confiscation.
The prosecution was able to establish the chain of custody of the seized marijuana from the time the police officers
confiscated it, to the time it was turned over to the investigating officer, up to the time it was brought to the forensic
chemist for laboratory examination.
This Court has no reason to overrule the RTC and the Court of Appeals, which both found the chain of custody of the
seized drugs to have not been broken so as to render the marijuana seized from Calantiao inadmissible in evidence.
Furthermore, unless it can be shown that there was bad faith, ill will, or tampering of the evidence, the presumption that
the integrity of the evidence has been preserved will remain. The burden of showing the foregoing to overcome the
presumption that the police officers handled the seized drugs with regularity, and that they properly discharged their
duties is on Calantiao. Unfortunately, Calantiao failed to discharge such burden.
It is worthy to note that these arguments were only raised by Calantiao on his appeal. He himself admits this.
His theory, from the very beginning, was that he did not do it, and that he was being framed for having offended the
police officers. Simply put, his defense tactic was one of denial and frame-up. However, those defenses have always
been frowned upon by the Court, to wit:
The defenses of denial and frame-up have been invariably viewed by this Court with disfavor for it can easily be
concocted and is a common and standard defense ploy in prosecutions for violation of Dangerous Drugs Act. In order to
prosper, the defenses of denial and frame-up must be proved with strong and convincing evidence. In the cases before
us, appellant failed to present sufficient evidence in support of his claims. Aside from his self-serving assertions, no
plausible proof was presented to bolster his allegations.
Hence, as Calantiao failed to show clear and convincing evidence that the apprehending officers were stirred by illicit
motive or failed to properly perform their duties, their testimonies deserve full faith and credit.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court hereby AFFIRMS the January 17, 2012 Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 04069.
SO ORDERED.