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Constitutional Law II FULL TEXTS Arrest, Search and Seizure

 
TABLE OF CONTENTS 
 
 
People vs. Bongcarawan, G.R. No. 143944, July 11, 2002 1 

People vs. Salanguit, G.R. No. 133254-55, April 19, 2001 4 

Soliven vs. Makasiar, 167 SCRA 393 9 


GUTIERREZ, JR., J ., concurring: 12 

Microsoft Corp. vs. Maxicorp, Inc., G.R. No. 140946, September 2004 14 

People vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 126379, June 26, 1998 18 

People vs. Tiu Won Chua, G.R. No. 149878, July 1, 2003 24 

People vs. Priscella del Norte, G.R. No. 149462 27 

Umil vs. Ramos, 187 SCRA 311 31 

People vs. Nuevas, G.R. No. 170233, February 22, 2007 38 

People vs. del Rosario, G.R. No. 127755, April 14, 1999 43 

Robin Padilla vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 121917, March 12, 1997 51 

Caballes vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 136292, January 15, 2002 60 

People vs. Libnao, G.R. No. 136860, January 30, 2003 68 

People vs. Susan Canton, G.R. No. 148825, December 27, 2002 72 

People vs. Solayao, 262 SCRA 255 79 

People vs. Molina, G.R. No. 133917, February 19, 2001 83 

Malacat vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 123595, December 12, 1997 88 

People vs. Montilla, G.R. No. 123872, January 30, 1998 95 

People vs. Malmstedt, 196 SCRA 401 102 

Posadas vs. Court of Appeals, 188 SCRA 288 105 

People vs. Maspil, 188 SCRA 751 108 

People vs. Tangliben, 184 SCRA 220 113 

People vs. Aminnudin, 163 SCRA 402 117 

People vs. Rodriguez, 232 SCRA 498 121 

People vs. Mengote, G.R. No. 87059, June 22, 1992 125 

Espano vs. Court of Appeals, 288 SCRA 558 128 

People vs. Figueroa, 248 SCRA 679 132 

Guanzon vs. de Villa, 181 SCRA 623 134 


CRUZ, J., dissenting: 139 
SARMIENTO, J., dissenting: 141 
 
 

1. People vs. Bongcarawan, G.R. No. 143944, July 11, 2002 

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 143944. July 11, 2002.]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. BASHER BONGCARAWAN y MACARAMBON,


accused-appellant.

 
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DECISION

PUNO, J p:

This is an appeal from the Decision 1 dated December 27, 1999 of the Regional Trial Court of Iligan City, Branch 06, in Criminal Case
No. 06-7542, finding accused Basher Bongcarawan y Macarambon guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 16, Article III
of Republic Act No. 6425 2 as amended, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua,and to pay a fine of Five
Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. cDAITS

Accused Basher Bongcarawan y Macarambon was charged in an Information which reads, thus: cEaSHC

"That on or about March 13, 1999, in the City of Iligan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said
accused, without authority of law, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession, custody and
control eight (8) packs of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, a regulated drug commonly known as Shabu, weighing approximately
400 grams, without the corresponding license or prescription.

Contrary to and in violation of Section 16, Article III of RA 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as
amended by RA 7659." 3

During the arraignment, the accused pleaded not guilty. Trial ensued.

Evidence for the prosecution shows that on March 11, 1999, an interisland passenger ship, M/V Super Ferry 5, sailed from Manila to
Iligan City. At about 3:00 a.m. on March 13, 1999, the vessel was about to dock at the port of Iligan City when its security officer, Mark
Diesmo, received a complaint from passenger Lorena Canoy about her missing jewelry. Canoy suspected one of her co-passengers at
cabin no. 106 as the culprit. Diesmo and four (4) other members of the vessel security force accompanied Canoy to search for the
suspect whom they later found at the economy section. 4 The suspect was identified as the accused, Basher Bongcarawan. The
accused was informed of the complaint and was invited to go back to cabin no. 106. With his consent, he was bodily searched, but no
jewelry was found. He was then escorted by two (2) security agents back to the economy section to get his baggage. The accused took
a Samsonite suitcase and brought this back to the cabin. When requested by the security, the accused opened the suitcase, revealing a
brown bag and small plastic packs containing white crystalline substance. Suspecting the substance to be "shabu," the security
personnel immediately reported the matter to the ship captain and took pictures of the accused beside the suitcase and its contents.
They also called the Philippine Coast Guard for assistance. 5 At about 6:00 a.m., Lt. Robert Patrimonio, YN Aurelio Estoque, CD2
Phoudinie Lantao and RM3 Merchardo De Guzman of the Philippine Coast Guard arrived and took custody of the accused and the
seized items — the Samsonite suitcase, a brown bag 6 and eight (8) small plastic packs of white crystalline substance. 7 When asked
about the contraband articles, the accused explained that he was just requested by a certain Alican "Alex" Macapudi to bring the
suitcase to the latter's brother in Iligan City. 8 The accused and the seized items were later turned over by the coast guard to the
Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF). Chief Inspector Graciano Mijares and his men brought the accused to the
PAOCTF Headquarters, 9 while the packs of white crystalline substance were sent to the NBI Regional Office in Cagayan de Oro City
for laboratory examination. NBI Forensic Chemist Nicanor Cruz later confirmed the substance to be methamphetamine hydrochloride,
commonly known as "shabu," weighing 399.3266 grams. 10

The accused testified and proffered his own version. On March 11, 1999, at about 10:00 p.m., he was in Quiapo, Manila where he met
Alican "Alex" Macapudi, a neighbor who has a store in Marawi City. He was requested by Macapudi to bring a Samsonite suitcase
containing sunglasses and watches to Iligan City, and to give it to Macapudi's brother at the Iligan port. He boarded the M/V Super
Ferry 5 on the same night, carrying a big luggage full of clothes, a small luggage or "maleta" containing the sunglasses and brushes he
bought from Manila, and the Samsonite suitcase of Macapudi. 11 He stayed at cabin no. 106. At about 4:00 a.m. of March 13, 1999, as
the vessel was about to dock at the Iligan port, he took his baggage and positioned himself at the economy section to be able to
disembark ahead of the other passengers. There, he met a friend, Ansari Ambor. While they were conversing, five (5) members of the
vessel security force and a woman whom he recognized as his co-passenger at cabin no. 106 came and told him that he was
suspected of stealing jewelry. He voluntarily went with the group back to cabin no. 106 where he was frisked. Subsequently, he was
asked to get his baggage, so he went back to the economy section and took the big luggage and Macapudi's Samsonite suitcase. He
left the small "maleta" containing sunglasses and brushes for fear that they would be confiscated by the security personnel. When
requested, he voluntarily opened the big luggage, but refused to do the same to the Samsonite suitcase which he claimed was not his
and had a secret combination lock. The security personnel forcibly opened the suitcase and found packs of white crystalline substance
inside which they suspected to be "shabu." They took pictures of him with the merchandise, and asked him to sign a turn over receipt
which was later given to the Philippine Coast Guard, then to the PAOCTF. 12

On December 27, 1999, the trial court rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads:

"WHEREFORE, the court finds the accused Basher Bongcarawan y Macarambon GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as principal
of the offense of violation of Section 16, Art. III, R.A. No. 6425 as amended by R.A. No. 7659 and hereby imposes upon him the
penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA and a fine of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND (P500,000.00) PESOS, without subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency.

Having been under preventive imprisonment since March 13, 1999 until the present, the period of such preventive detention shall
be credited in full in favor of the accused in the service of his sentence.

The 399.3266 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu is hereby ordered delivered to the National Bureau of
Investigation for proper disposition.

SO ORDERED." 13

 
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Hence, this appeal where the accused raises the following assignment of errors:

"I.

THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN SO HOLDING THAT THE DRUG CONFISCATED IS ADMISSIBLE IN EVIDENCE AGAINST
THE ACCUSED/APPELLANT.

II.

THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN SO HOLDING THAT THE APPELLANT OWNED THE CONFISCATED EVIDENCE AND
THEREFORE ADMISSIBLE IN EVIDENCE AGAINST HIM." 14

On the first assignment of error, the accused-appellant contends that the Samsonite suitcase containing the methamphetamine
hydrochloride or "shabu" was forcibly opened and searched without his consent, and hence, in violation of his constitutional right
against unreasonable search and seizure. Any evidence acquired pursuant to such unlawful search and seizure, he claims, is
inadmissible in evidence against him. He also contends that People v. Marti 15 is not applicable in this case because a vessel security
personnel is deemed to perform the duties of a policeman.

The contentions are devoid of merit.

The right against unreasonable search and seizure is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution. 16 Evidence acquired in
violation of this right shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding. 17 Whenever this right is challenged, an individual may
choose between invoking the constitutional protection or waiving his right by giving consent to the search and seizure. It should be
stressed, however, that protection is against transgression committed by the government or its agent. As held by this Court in the case
of People v. Marti, 18 "[i]n the absence of governmental interference, liberties guaranteed by the Constitution cannot be invoked against
the State." 19 The constitutional proscription against unlawful searches and seizures applies as a restraint directed only against the
government and its agencies tasked with the enforcement of the law. Thus, it could only be invoked against the State to whom the
restraint against arbitrary and unreasonable exercise of power is imposed. 20

In the case before us, the baggage of the accused-appellant was searched by the vessel security personnel. It was only after they
found "shabu" inside the suitcase that they called the Philippine Coast Guard for assistance. The search and seizure of the suitcase
and the contraband items was therefore carried out without government intervention, and hence, the constitutional protection against
unreasonable search and seizure does not apply.

There is no merit in the contention of the accused-appellant that the search and seizure performed by the vessel security personnel
should be considered as one conducted by the police authorities for like the latter, the former are armed and tasked to maintain peace
and order. The vessel security officer in the case at bar is a private employee and does not discharge any governmental function. In
contrast, police officers are agents of the state tasked with the sovereign function of enforcement of the law. Historically and until now, it
is against them and other agents of the state that the protection against unreasonable searches and seizures may be invoked.

On the second assignment of error, the accused-appellant contends that he is not the owner of the Samsonite suitcase and he had no
knowledge that the same contained "shabu." He submits that without knowledge or intent to possess the dangerous drug, he cannot be
convicted of the crime charged. 21

We are not persuaded.

In a prosecution for illegal possession of dangerous drugs, the following facts must be proven beyond reasonable doubt, viz: (1) that the
accused is in possession of the object identified as a prohibited or a regulated drug; (2) that such possession is not authorized by law;
and (3) that the accused freely and consciously possessed the said drug. 22 The first two elements were sufficiently proven in this case,
and were in fact undisputed. We are left with the third.

As early as 1910 in the case of United States v. Tan Misa, 23 this Court has ruled that to warrant conviction, the possession of
dangerous drugs must be with knowledge of the accused, or that animus possidendi existed together with the possession or control of
such articles. 24 It has been ruled, however, that possession of dangerous drugs constitutes prima facie evidence of knowledge or
animus possidendi sufficient to convict an accused in the absence of a satisfactory explanation of such possession. 25 Hence, the
burden of evidence is shifted to the accused to explain the absence of knowledge or animus possidendi. 26

In this respect, the accused-appellant has utterly failed. His testimony, uncorroborated, self-serving and incredulous, was not given
credence by the trial court. We find no reason to disagree. Well-settled is the rule that in the absence of palpable error or grave abuse
of discretion on the part of the trial judge, the trial court's evaluation of the credibility of witnesses will not be disturbed on appeal. 27
Moreover, evidence must be credible in itself to deserve credence and weight in law. In this case, the accused-appellant admits that
when he was asked to get his baggage, he knew it would be inspected. 28 Why he got the Samsonite suitcase allegedly not owned by
him and which had a combination lock known only to the owner remains unclear. He also claims that he did not present his small
"maleta" for inspection for fear that its contents consisting of expensive sunglasses and brushes would be confiscated, 29 but he brought
the Samsonite suitcase which is not his and also contained expensive sunglasses, and even watches. 30

The things in possession of a person are presumed by law to be owned by him. 31 To overcome this presumption, it is necessary to
present clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. In this case, the accused points to a certain Alican "Alex" Macapudi as the owner
of the contraband, but presented no evidence to support his claim. As aptly observed by the trial judge:

"First, who is Alex Macap[u]di aka Ali[c]an Macap[u]di? Does he really exist or simply a figment of the imagination? He says that
Alex Macap[u]di is a friend and a fellow businessman who has a stall selling sunglasses in Marawi City. But no witnesses were
presented to prove that there is such a living, breathing, flesh and blood person named Alex Macap[u]di who entrusted the

 
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Samsonite to the accused. Surely, if he does exist, he has friends, fellow businessmen and acquaintances who could testify and
support the claim of the accused." 32

Mere denial of ownership will not suffice especially if, as in the case at bar, it is the keystone of the defense of the
accused-appellant. Stories can easily be fabricated. It will take more than bare-bone allegations to convince this Court that a
courier of dangerous drugs is not its owner and has no knowledge or intent to possess the same.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Iligan City, Branch 06, in Criminal Case No. 06-7542, convicting
accused-appellant Basher Bongcarawan of violation of Section 16, Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, and sentencing
him to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and to pay a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) without subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency, is AFFIRMED.

Costs against the accused-appellant. IaHCAD

SO ORDERED.

Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez and Carpio, JJ., concur.

||| (People v. Bongcarawan y Macarambon, G.R. No. 143944, [July 11, 2002], 433 PHIL 918-946) 

2. People vs. Salanguit, G.R. No. 133254-55, April 19, 2001 

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. Nos. 133254-55. April 19, 2001.]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ROBERTO SALANGUIT y KO, accused-appellant.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J p:

This is an appeal from the decision, 1 dated January 27, 1998, of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 96, Quezon City, finding
accused-appellant Roberto Salanguit y Ko guilty of violation of §16 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, and sentencing him
accordingly to suffer imprisonment ranging from six (6) months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to four (4) years and two (2) months of
prision correccional, as maximum, and of §8 of the same law and sentencing him for such violation to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua and to pay a fine of P700,000.00.

Charges against accused-appellant for violations of R.A. No. 6425 were filed on December 28, 1995. In Criminal Case No. Q-95-64357,
the information alleged:

That on or about the 26th day of December 1995, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and knowingly possess and/or use 11.14 grams of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride (Shabu) a regulated drug, without
the necessary license and/or prescription therefor, in violation of said law.

CONTRARY TO LAW. 2

In Criminal Case No. Q-95-64358, the information charged:

That on or about the 26th day of December 1995, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused not being authorized by law to
possess or use any prohibited drug, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession and under his
custody and control 1,254 grams of Marijuana, a prohibited drug. aSECAD

CONTRARY TO LAW. 3

When arraigned on May 21, 1996, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty, 4 whereupon he was tried.

Three witnesses were presented by the prosecution: P/Insp. Sonia S. Ludovico, forensic chemist and chief of the Physical Science
Branch of the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory, Senior Inspector Rodolfo Aguilar of the Narcotics Command, Camp Crame,
Quezon City, and PO3 Rolando Duazo of Station 10, Kamuning, Quezon City, a field operative. The prosecution evidence established
the following:

On December 26, 1995, Sr. Insp. Aguilar applied for a warrant 5 in the Regional Trial Court, Branch 90, Dasmariñas, Cavite, to search
the residence of accused-appellant Robert Salanguit y Ko on Binhagan St., Novaliches, Quezon City. He presented as his witness
SPO1 Edmund Badua, who testified that as a poseur-buyer, he was able to purchase 2.12 grams of shabu from accused-appellant. The
sale took place in accused-appellant's room, and Badua saw that the shabu was taken by accused-appellant from a cabinet inside his
room. The application was granted, and a search warrant was later issued by Presiding Judge Dolores L. Español.

 
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At about 10:30 p.m. of December 26, 1995, a group of about 10 policemen, along with one civilian informer, went to the residence of
accused-appellant to serve the warrant. 6

The police operatives knocked on accused-appellant's door, but nobody opened it. They heard people inside the house, apparently
panicking. The police operatives then forced the door open and entered the house. 7

After showing the search warrant to the occupants of the house, Lt. Cortes and his group started searching the house. 8 They found 12
small heat-sealed transparent plastic bags containing a white crystalline substance, a paper clip box also containing a white crystalline
substance, and two bricks of dried leaves which appeared to be marijuana wrapped in newsprint 9 having a total weight of
approximately 1,255 grams. 10 A receipt of the items seized was prepared, but the accused-appellant refused to sign it. 11

After the search, the police operatives took accused-appellant with them to Station 10, EDSA, Kamuning, Quezon City, along with the
items they had seized. 12

PO3 Duazo requested a laboratory examination of the confiscated evidence. 13 The white crystalline substance with a total weight of
2.77 grams and those contained in a small box with a total weight of 8.37 grams were found to be positive for methamphetamine
hydrochloride. On the other hand, the two bricks of dried leaves, one weighing 425 grams and the other 850 grams, were found to be
marijuana. 14

For the defense, accused-appellant testified in his own behalf. His testimony was corroborated by his mother-in-law, Soledad Arcano.

Accused-appellant testified that on the night of December 26, 1995, as they were about to leave their house, they heard a commotion at
the gate and on the roof of their house. Suddenly, about 20 men in civilian attire, brandishing long firearms, climbed over the gate and
descended through an opening in the roof. 15

When accused-appellant demanded to be shown a search warrant, a piece of paper inside a folder was waved in front of him. As
accused-appellant fumbled for his glasses, however, the paper was withdrawn and he had no chance to read it. 16

Accused-appellant claimed that he was ordered to stay in one place of the house while the policemen conducted a search, forcibly
opening cabinets and taking his bag containing money, a licensed .45 caliber firearm, jewelry, and canned goods. 17

The policemen left at around 12:30 a.m. of December 27, 1995, and, after putting handcuffs on accused-appellant, took him with them
to the NARCOM on EDSA, Quezon City, where accused-appellant was detained. 18

Accused-appellant's mother-in law, Soledad Arcano, corroborated his testimony. Arcano testified that the policemen ransacked their
house, ate their food, and took away canned goods and other valuables. 19

After hearing, the trial court rendered its decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:

1. In Criminal Case No. Q-95-64357, for violation of Sec. 16, Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, finding the accused ROBERTO
SALANGUIT y KO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged and he is hereby accordingly sentenced to suffer an
indeterminate sentence with a minimum of six (6) months of arresto mayor and a maximum of four (4) years and two (2) months
of prision correccional; and,

2. In Criminal Case No. Q-95-64358, for violation of Sec. 8, Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, finding the accused ROBERTO
SALANGUIT y KO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged and he is hereby accordingly sentenced to suffer
reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of P700,000.00.

The accused shall further pay the costs of suit.

The 11.14 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride and the 1,254 grams of marijuana bricks are hereby confiscated and
condemned for disposition according to law. The evidence custodian of this Court is hereby directed to turn such substances over
to the National Bureau of Investigation pursuant to law.

SO ORDERED. 20

Hence this appeal. Accused-appellant contends that —

THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN DECLARING THE SEARCH WARRANT VALID

THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF


METHAMPHETAMINE HYDRO-CHLORIDE (SHABU)

THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR VIOLATION §8, R.A. NO. 6425

THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN ADMITTING IN EVIDENCE THE TWO (2) BRICKS OF MARIJUANA

THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE POLICEMEN USED EXCESSIVE FORCE IN ENFORCING THE
SEARCH WARRANT.

Accused-appellant is contesting his conviction on three grounds. First, the admissibility of the shabu allegedly recovered from his
residence as evidence against him on the ground that the warrant used in obtaining it was invalid. Second, the admissibility in evidence
of the marijuana allegedly seized from accused-appellant pursuant to the "plain view" doctrine. Third, the employment of unnecessary
force by the police in the execution of the warrant.

First. Rule 126, §4 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure 21 provides that a search warrant shall not issue except upon probable
cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of

 
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the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized
which may be anywhere in the Philippines.

In issuing a search warrant, judges must comply strictly with the requirements of the Constitution and the Rules of Criminal Procedure.
No presumption of regularity can be invoked in aid of the process when an officer undertakes to justify its issuance. 22 Nothing can
justify the issuance of the search warrant unless all the legal requisites are fulfilled.

In this case, the search warrant issued against accused-appellant reads:

SEARCH WARRANT NO. 160

For: Violation of RA 6425

SEARCH WARRANT

TO ANY PEACE OFFICER:

GREETINGS:
It appearing to the satisfaction of the undersigned after examining under oath SR. INSP. RODOLFO V. AGUILAR, PNP and his
witness SPO1 EDMUND M. BADUA, PNP that there is probable cause to believe that ROBERT SALANGUIT has in his
possession and control in his premises Binhagan St., San Jose, Quezon City as shown in Annex "A", the properties to wit: TcIAHS

UNDETERMINED QUANTITY OF SHABU AND DRUG PARAPHERNALIA

which should be seized and brought to the undersigned.

You are hereby commanded to make an immediate search anytime of the day/night of the premises above-described and
forthwith seize and take possession of the above-stated properties and bring said properties to the undersigned to be dealt with
as the law directs.

GIVEN UNDER MY HAND this 26th day of December 1995 at Imus, Cavite, Philippines.

(SGD.) DOLORES L. ESPAÑOL

Judge

Accused-appellant assails the validity of the warrant on three grounds: (1) that there was no probable cause to search for drug
paraphernalia; (2) that the search warrant was issued for more than one specific offense; and (3) that the place to be searched was not
described with sufficient particularity.

Existence of Probable Cause


The warrant authorized the seizure of "undetermined quantity of shabu and drug paraphernalia." Evidence was presented showing
probable cause of the existence of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu. Accused-appellant contends, however, that the search
warrant issued is void because no evidence was presented showing the existence of drug paraphernalia and the same should not have
been ordered to be seized by the trial court. 23

The contention has no merit. To be sure, SPO1 Edmund Badua, the intelligence officer who acted as a poseur-buyer, did not testify in
the proceedings for the issuance of a search warrant on anything about drug paraphernalia. He stated:

Q Being a member of the Intelligence and Operation Section, NMDU, NARCOM, do you remember if you were
assigned into a monitoring or surveillance work?

A Yes, sir.

Q Of what particular assignment or area were you assigned for monitoring or surveillance?

A Its within the Quezon City area particularly a house without a number located at Binhagan St., San Jose, Quezon
City, sir.

Q Do you know the person who occupies the specific place?

A Yes, sir, he is ROBERT SALANGUIT @ Robert.

Q Are you familiar with that place?

A Yes, sir, as part of my surveillance, I was able to penetrate inside the area and established contract with ROBERT
SALANGUIT alias Robert through my friend who introduced me to the former.

Q In what particular occasion did you meet ROBERT SALANGUIT alias Robert?

A When I was introduced by my friend as a good buyer and drug pusher of shabu, sir.

Q Were you able to buy at that time?

A Yes, sir.

Q How much if you can still remember the amount involved?

A I was able to buy two point twelve (2.12) grams of shabu in the amount of Two Thousand Seven Hundred Fifty
(P2,750.00) pesos, sir.

 
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Q Having established contact with ROBERT SALANGUIT @ Robert, do you know where the stuff (shabu) were being
kept?

A Yes, sir, inside a cabinet inside his room.

Q How were you able to know the place where he kept the stuff?

A When I first bought the 2.12 grams of shabu from him, it was done inside his room and I saw that the shabu was
taken by him inside his cabinet.

Q Do you know who is in control of the premises?

A Yes, sir, it was ROBERT SALANGUIT @ Robert.

Q How sure are you, that the shabu that you bought from ROBERT SALANGUIT @ Robert is genuine shabu?

A After I left the house of ROBERT SALANGUIT @ Robert, I proceeded back to our office and reported the progress of
my mission to our Chief and presented to him the 2.12 grams of shabu I bought from the subject. Then
afterwards, our Chief formally requested the Chief PNP Central Crime Laboratory Services, NPDC, for
Technical Analysis which yielded positive result for shabu, a regulated drug as shown in the attached
certification of PNP CLS result No. D-414-95 dated 19 Dec. 95.

Q Do you have anything more to add or retract from your statement?

A Yes, sir, I was offered by him (ROBERT SALANGUIT @ Robert) that anything I wish to buy bigger quantity of shabu,
he is willing to transact to me on cash basis at his price of One Thousand Seven Hundred Fifty (P1,750.00)
pesos per gram.

Q Are you willing to sign your statement freely and voluntarily?

A Yes, sir. 24

However, the fact that there was no probable cause to support the application for the seizure of drug paraphernalia does not warrant
the conclusion that the search warrant is void. This fact would be material only if drug paraphernalia was in fact seized by the police.
The fact is that none was taken by virtue of the search warrant issued. If at all, therefore, the search warrant is void only insofar as it
authorized the seizure of drug paraphernalia, but it is valid as to the seizure of methamphetamine hydrochloride as to which evidence
was presented showing probable cause as to its existence. Thus, in Aday v. Superior Court, 25 the warrant properly described two
obscene books but improperly described other articles. It was held:

Although the warrant was defective in the respects noted, it does not follow that it was invalid as a whole. Such a conclusion
would mean that the seizure of certain articles, even though proper if viewed separately, must be condemned merely because the
warrant was defective with respect to other articles. The invalid portions of the warrant are severable from the authorization
relating to the named books, which formed the principal basis of the charge of obscenity. The search for and seizure of these
books, if otherwise valid, were not rendered illegal by the defects concerning other articles . . . In so holding we do not mean to
suggest that invalid portions of a warrant will be treated as severable under all circumstances. We recognize the danger that
warrants might be obtained which are essentially general in character but as to minor items meet the requirement of particularity,
and that wholesale seizures might be made under them, in the expectation that the seizure would in any event be upheld as to the
property specified. Such an abuse of the warrant procedure, of course, could not be tolerated.

It would be a drastic remedy indeed if a warrant, which was issued on probable cause and particularly describing the items to be seized
on the basis thereof, is to be invalidated in totobecause the judge erred in authorizing a search for other items not supported by the
evidence. 26 Accordingly, we hold that the first part of the search warrant, authorizing the search of accused-appellant's house for an
undetermined quantity of shabu, is valid, even though the second part, with respect to the search for drug paraphernalia, is not.

Specificity of the Offense Charged


Accused-appellant contends that the warrant was issued for more than one specific offense because possession or use of
methamphetamine hydrochloride and possession of drug paraphernalia are punished under two different provisions of R.A. No. 6425. 27
It will suffice to quote what this Court said in a similar case to dispose of this contention:

While it is true that the caption of the search warrant states that it is in connection with "Violation of R.A. 6425, otherwise known
as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972," it is clearly recited in the text thereof that "There is probable cause to believe that Adolfo
Olaes alias 'Debie' and alias 'Baby' of No. 628 Comia St., Filtration, Sta. Rita, Olongapo City, has in their session and control and
custody of marijuana dried stalks/leaves/seeds/cigarettes and other regulated/prohibited and exempt narcotics preparations which
is the subject of the offense stated above." Although the specific section of the Dangerous Drugs Act is not pinpointed, there is no
question at all of the specific offense alleged to have been committed as a basis for the finding of probable cause. The search
warrant also satisfies the requirement in the Bill of Rights of the particularity of the description to be made of the "place to be
searched and the persons or things to be seized." 28

Indeed, in People v. Dichoso 29 the search warrant was also for "Violation of R.A. 6425," without specifying what provisions of the law
were violated, and it authorized the search and seizure of "dried marijuana leaves and methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) and
sets of paraphernalias (sic)." This Court, however, upheld the validity of the warrant:

Appellant's contention that the search warrant in question was issued for more than (1) offense, hence, in violation of Section 3,
Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, is unpersuasive. He engages in semantic juggling by suggesting that since illegal possession of
shabu, illegal possession of marijuana and illegal possession of paraphernalia are covered by different articles and sections of the
Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, the search warrant is clearly for more than one (1) specific offense. In short, following this theory,
there should have been three (3) separate search warrants, one for illegal possession of shabu, the second for illegal possession
of marijuana and the third for illegal possession of paraphernalia. This argument is pedantic. TheDangerous Drugs Act of 1972 is
a special law that deals specifically with dangerous drugs which are subsumed into "prohibited" and "regulated" drugs and defines

 
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and penalizes categories of offenses which are closely related or which belong to the same class or species. Accordingly, one (1)
search warrant may thus be validly issued for the said violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act. 30

Similarly, in another case, 31 the search warrant was captioned: "For Violation of P.D. No. 1866 (Illegal Possession of Firearms, etc.)."
The validity of the warrant was questioned on the ground that it was issued without reference to any particular provision in P.D. No.
1866, which punished several offenses. We held, however, that while illegal possession of firearms is penalized under §1 of P.D. No.
1866 and illegal possession of explosives is penalized under §3 thereof, the decree is a codification of the various laws on illegal
possession of firearms, ammunitions, and explosives which offenses are so related as to be subsumed within the category of illegal
possession of firearms, etc. under P.D. No. 1866. Thus, only one warrant was necessary to cover the violations under the various
provisions of the said law.

Particularity of the Place


Accused-appellant contends that the search warrant failed to indicate the place to be searched with sufficient particularity.

This contention is without merit. As the Solicitor General states:

. . . While the address stated in the warrant is merely "Binhagan St., San Jose, Quezon City," the trial court took note of the fact
that the records of Search Warrant Case No. 160 contained several documents which identified the premises to be searched, to
wit: 1) the application for search warrant which stated that the premises to be searched was located in between No. 7 and 11 at
Binhagan Street, San Jose, Quezon City; 2) the deposition of witness which described the premises as "a house without a
number located at Binhagan St., San Jose, Quezon City; and 3) the pencil sketch of the location of the premises to be searched.
In fact, the police officers who raided appellant's house under the leadership of Police Senior Inspector Rodolfo Aguilar could not
have been mistaken as Inspector Aguilar resides in the same neighborhood in Binhagan where appellant lives and in fact
Aguilar's place is at the end of appellant's place in Binhagan. Moreover, the house raided by Aguilar's team is undeniably
appellant's house and it was really appellant who was the target. The raiding team even first ascertained through their informant
that appellant was inside his residence before they actually started their operation. 32

The rule is that a description of the place to be searched is sufficient if the officer with the warrant can, with reasonable effort, ascertain
and identify the place intended to be searched. 33For example, a search warrant authorized a search of Apartment Number 3 of a
building at 83 Pleasant Street, Malborough, Massachusetts. As it turned out, there were five apartments in the basement and six
apartments on both the ground and top floors and that there was an Apartment Number 3 on each floor. However, the description was
made determinate by a reference to the affidavit supporting the warrant that the apartment was occupied by the accused "Morris
Ferrante of 83 Pleasant Street, Malboro Mass." 34 In this case, the location of accused-appellant's house being indicated by the
evidence on record, there can be no doubt that the warrant described the place to be searched with sufficient particularity.

In sum, we hold that with respect to the seizure of shabu from accused-appellant's residence, Search Warrant No. 160 was properly
issued, such warrant being founded on probable cause personally determined by the judge under oath or affirmation of the deposing
witness and particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized.

Second. The search warrant authorized the seizure of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu but not marijuana. However, seizure
of the latter drug is being justified on the ground that the drug was seized within the "plain view" of the searching party. This is contested
by accused-appellant.

Under the "plain view doctrine," unlawful objects within 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 in evidence. 35 For this doctrine to apply, there must be: (a) prior justification; (b)
inadvertent discovery of the evidence; and (c) immediate apparent illegality of the evidence before the police. 36 The question is whether
these requisites were complied with by the authorities in seizing the marijuana in this case.

Prior Justification and Discovery by Inadvertence


Because the location of the shabu was indicated in the warrant and thus known to the police operatives, it is reasonable to assume that
the police found the packets of the shabu first. Once the valid portion of the search warrant has been executed, the "plain view doctrine"
can no longer provide any basis for admitting the other items subsequently found. As has been explained:

What the 'plain view' cases have in common is that the police officer in each of them had a prior justification for an intrusion in the
course of which he came inadvertently across a piece of evidence incriminating the accused. The doctrine 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. Of course, the extension of the original justification is legitimate only where it is immediately apparent to the police that
they have evidence before them; the 'plain view' doctrine may not be used to extend a general exploratory search from one object
to another until something incriminating at last emerges. 37

The only other possible justification for an intrusion by the police is the conduct of a search pursuant to accused-appellant's lawful
arrest for possession of shabu. However, a search incident to a lawful arrest is limited to the person of the one arrested and the
premises within his immediate control. 38 The rationale for permitting such a search is to prevent the person arrested from obtaining a
weapon to commit violence, or to reach for incriminatory evidence and destroy it. AHDcCT

The police failed to allege in this case the time when the marijuana was found, i.e., whether prior to, or contemporaneous with, the
shabu subject of the warrant, or whether it was recovered on accused-appellant's person or in an area within his immediate control. Its
recovery, therefore, presumably during the search conducted after the shabu had been recovered from the cabinet, as attested to by
SPO1 Badua in his deposition, was invalid.

Apparent Illegality of the Evidence

 
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The marijuana bricks were wrapped in newsprint. There was no apparent illegality to justify their seizure. This case is similar to People
v. Musa 39 in which we declared inadmissible the marijuana recovered by NARCOM agents because the said drugs were contained in a
plastic bag which gave no indication of its contents. We explained:

Moreover, when the NARCOM agents saw the plastic bag hanging in one corner of the kitchen, they had no clue as to its
contents. They had to ask the appellant what the bag contained. When the appellant refused to respond, they opened it and found
the marijuana. Unlike Ker v. California, where the marijuana was visible to the police officer's eyes, the NARCOM agents in this
case could not have discovered the inculpatory nature of the contents of the bag had they not forcibly opened it. Even assuming
then, that the NARCOM agents inadvertently came across the plastic bag because it was within their "plain view," what may be
said to be the object in their "plain view" was just the plastic bag and not the marijuana. The incriminating nature of the contents of
the plastic bag was not immediately apparent from the "plain view" of said object. It cannot be claimed that the plastic bag clearly
betrayed its contents, whether by its distinctive configuration, is transparency, or otherwise, that its contents are obvious to an
observer. 40

No presumption of regularity may be invoked by an officer in aid of the process when he undertakes to justify an encroachment of rights
secured by the Constitution. 41 In this case, the marijuana allegedly found in the possession of accused-appellant was in the form of two
bricks wrapped in newsprint. Not being in a transparent container, the contents wrapped in newsprint could not have been readily
discernible as marijuana. Nor was there mention of the time or manner these items were discovered. Accordingly, for failure of the
prosecution to prove that the seizure of the marijuana without a warrant was conducted in accordance with the "plain view doctrine," we
hold that the marijuana is inadmissible in evidence against accused-appellant. However, the confiscation of the drug must be upheld.

Third. Accused-appellant claims that undue and unnecessary force was employed by the searching party in effecting the raid.

Rule 126, §7 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure 42 provides:

Right to break door or window to effect search. — The officer, if refused admittance to the place of directed search after giving
notice of his purpose and authority, may break open any outer or inner door or window of a house or any part of a house or
anything therein to execute the warrant or liberate himself or any person lawfully aiding him when unlawfully detained therein.

Accused-appellant's claim that the policemen had clambered up the roof of his house to gain entry and had broken doors and windows
in the process is unsupported by reliable and competent proof. No affidavit or sworn statement of disinterested persons, like the
barangay officials or neighbors, has been presented by accused-appellant to attest to the truth of his claim.

In contrast, Aguilar and Duano's claim that they had to use some force in order to gain entry cannot be doubted. The occupants of the
house, especially accused-appellant, refused to open the door despite the fact that the searching party knocked on the door several
times. Furthermore, the agents saw the suspicious movements of the people inside the house. These circumstances justified the
searching party's forcible entry into the house, founded as it is on the apprehension that the execution of their mission would be
frustrated unless they do so.

WHEREFORE, in Criminal Case No. Q-95-64357, the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 96, Quezon City, finding
accused-appellant Roberto Salanguit y Ko guilty of possession of illegal drugs under §16 of R.A. No. 6425, otherwise known as the
Dangerous Drugs Act, as amended, and sentencing him to suffer a prison term ranging from six (6) months of arresto mayor, as
minimum, and four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as maximum, and ordering the confiscation of 11.14 grams of
methamphetamine hydrochloride is AFFIRMED.

In Criminal Case No. Q-95-64358, the decision of the same court finding accused-appellant Roberto Salanguit y Ko guilty of possession
of prohibited drugs under §8 of R.A. No. 6425, as amended, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay a
fine of P700,000.00 is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and accused-appellant is ACQUITTED of the crime charged. However, the
confiscation of the 1,254 grams of marijuana, as well as the 11.14 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride, and its disposition as
ordered by the trial court is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED. TaCDIc

Bellosillo, Quisumbing, Buena and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

||| (People v. Salanguit y Ko, G.R. Nos. 133254-55, [April 19, 2001], 408 PHIL 817-837) 

3. Soliven vs. Makasiar, 167 SCRA 393 

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 82585. November 14, 1988.]

MAXIMO V. SOLIVEN, ANTONIO V. ROCES, FREDERICK K. AGCAOILI, and GODOFREDO L. MANZANAS,


petitioners, vs. THE HON. RAMON P. MAKASIAR, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila,
Branch 35, UNDERSECRETARY SILVESTRE BELLO III, of the Department of Justice, LUIS C. VICTOR, THE
CITY FISCAL OF MANILA AND PRESIDENT CORAZON C. AQUINO, respondents.

[G.R. No. 82827. November 14, 1988.]

 
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LUIS D. BELTRAN, petitioner, vs. THE HON. RAMON P. MAKASIAR, Presiding Judge of Branch 35 of the
Regional Trial Court, at Manila, THE HON. LUIS VICTOR CITY FISCAL OF MANILA, PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, SUPERINTENDENT OF THE WESTERN POLICE DISTRICT, AND THE MEMBERS OF THE
PROCESS SERVING UNIT AT THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MANILA, respondents.

[G.R. No. 83979. November 14, 1988.]

LUIS D. BELTRAN, petitioner, vs. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY CATALINO MACARAIG, SECRETARY OF


JUSTICE SEDFREY ORDOÑEZ, UNDERSECRETARY OF JUSTICE SILVESTRE BELLO III, THE FISCAL OF
MANILA JESUS F. GUERRERO, AND JUDGE RAMON P. MAKASIAR, Presiding Judge of Branch 35 of the
Regional Trial Court, at Manila,respondents.

Angara, Abello, Concepcion, Regala and Cruz for petitioners in G.R. No. 82585.

Perfecto V . Fernandez, Jose P. Fernandez and Cristobal P. Fernandez for petitioner in G.R. No. 82827 and 83979.

SYLLABUS

1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; BILL OF RIGHTS; DUE PROCESS OF LAW; RESPONDENT IN A CRIMINAL CASE NEED NOT FILE HIS
COUNTER-AFFIDAVITS BEFORE PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION IS DEEMED COMPLETED. — Due process of law does not
require that the respondent in a criminal case actually file his counter-affidavits before the preliminary investigation is deemed
completed. All that is required is that the respondent be given the opportunity to submit counter-affidavits if he is so minded.

2. ID.; ID.; RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO BE SECURE IN THEIR PERSONS, HOUSES, PAPERS AND EFFECTS; ISSUANCE OF
WARRANT OF ARREST; PROBABLE CAUSE; THE JUDGE HAS EXCLUSIVE AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY TO DETERMINE
EXISTENCE OF; THE PRESIDENT. — This case is not a simple prosecution for libel. We have as complainant a powerful and popular
President who heads the investigation and prosecution service and appoints members of appellate courts but who feels so terribly
maligned that she has taken the unorthodox step of going to court inspite of the invocations of freedom of the press which would
inevitably follow.

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; HARASSMENT INHERENT IN ANY CRIMINAL PROSECUTION; SUPREME COURT SHOULD DRAW THE
DEMARCATION LINE WHERE HARASSMENT GOES BEYOND USUAL DIFFICULTIES ENCOUNTERED BY ANY ACCUSED. —
There is always bound to be harassment inherent in any criminal prosecution. Where the harassment goes beyond the usual difficulties
encountered by any accused and results in an unwillingness of media to freely criticize government or to question government handling
of sensitive issues and public affairs, this Court and not a lower tribunal should draw the demarcation line.

4. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; BILL OF RIGHTS; FREEDOM OF SPEECH; WHILE DEFAMATION IS NOT AUTHORIZED, CRITICISM IS
TO BE EXPECTED AND SHOULD BE BORNE FOR THE COMMON GOOD. — As early as March 8, 1918, the decision in United
States v. Bustos (37 Phil. 731) stated that "(c)omplete liberty to comment on the conduct of public men is a scalpel in the case of free
speech. The sharp incision of its probe relieves the abscesses of officialdom. Men in public life may suffer under a hostile and unjust
accusation; the wound can be assuaged with the balm of a clear conscience." The Court pointed out that while defamation is not
authorized, criticism is to be expected and should be borne for the common good.

5. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; PROSECUTION OF OFFENSES; LIBEL; RULES THEREON SHOULD BE EXAMINED
FROM VARIOUS PERSPECTIVES IF DIRECTED AT A HIGH GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL; THE SUPREME COURT SHOULD DRAW A
FINE LINE INSTEAD OF LEAVING IT TO A LOWER TRIBUNAL. — In fact, the Court observed that high official position, instead of
affording immunity from slanderous and libelous charges would actually invite attacks by those who desire to create sensation. It would
seem that what would ordinarily be slander if directed at the typical person should be examined from various perspectives if directed at
a high government official. Again, the Supreme Court should draw this fine line instead of leaving it to lower tribunals.

6. ID.; ID.; FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION; SAFEGUARDS IN THE NAME THEREOF SHOULD BE FAITHFULLY APPLIED IN TRIAL
OF LIBEL CASE. — In the trial of the libel case against the petitioners, the safeguards in the name of freedom of expression should be
faithfully applied.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J., concurring:


1. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; MOTION TO QUASH; COURT SHOULD NOT HESITATE TO QUASH A CRIMINAL
PROSECUTION IN INTEREST OF MORE ENLIGHTENED AND SUBSTANTIAL JUSTICE. — Consistent with our decision in Salonga
v. Cruz Paño (134 SCRA 438 [1985]), the Court should not hesitate to quash a criminal prosecution in the interest of more enlightened
and substantial justice where it is not alone the criminal liability of an accused in a seemingly minor libel case which is involved but
broader considerations of governmental power versus a preferred freedom.

2. ID.; ID.; PROSECUTION OF OFFENSES; LIBEL; CASE NOT A SIMPLE PROSECUTION THEREFOR WHERE COMPLAINANT IS
THE PRESIDENT; JUDGE NOT REQUIRED TO PERSONALLY EXAMINE COMPLAINANT AND HIS WITNESSES. — What the
Constitution underscores is the exclusive and personal responsibility of the issuing judge to satisfy himself the existence of probable
cause. In satisfying himself of the existence of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest, the judge is not required to
personally examine the complainant and his witnesses. Following established doctrine and procedure, he shall: (1) personally evaluate

 
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the report and the supporting documents submitted by the fiscal regarding the existence of probable cause and, on the basis thereof,
issue a warrant of arrest; or (2) if on the basis thereof he finds no probable cause, he may disregard the fiscal's report and require the
submission of supporting affidavits of witnesses to aid him in arriving at a conclusion as to the existence of probable cause.

3. ID.; EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT; PRESIDENT; IMMUNITY FROM SUIT; RATIONALE. — The rationale for the grant to the President
of the privilege of immunity from suit is to assure the exercise of Presidential duties and functions free from any hindrance or distraction,
considering that being the Chief Executive of the Government is a job that, aside from requiring all of the office-holder's time, also
demands undivided attention.

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; PRIVILEGE PERTAINS TO PRESIDENT BY VIRTUE OF THE OFFICE AND MAY BE INVOKED ONLY BY
HOLDER OF OFFICE. — But this privilege of immunity from suit, pertains to the President by virtue of the office and may be invoked
only by the holder of the office; not by any other person in the President's behalf. Thus, an accused in a criminal case in which the
President is complainant cannot raise the presidential privilege as a defense to prevent the case from proceeding against such
accused.

5. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; EXERCISE OF PRIVILEGE IS SOLELY THE PRESIDENT'S PREROGATIVE. — Moreover, there is nothing in our
laws that would prevent the President from waiving the privilege. Thus, if so minded the President may shed the protection afforded by
the privilege and submit to the court's jurisdiction. The choice of whether to exercise the privilege or to waive it is solely the President's
prerogative. It is a decision that cannot be assumed and imposed by any other person.

RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM p:

In these consolidated cases, three principal issues were raised: (1) whether or not petitioners were denied due process when
informations for libel were filed against them although the finding of the existence of a prima facie case was still under review by the
Secretary of Justice and, subsequently, by the President; (2) whether or not the constitutional rights of Beltran were violated when
respondent RTC judge issued a warrant for his arrest without personally examining the complainant and the witnesses, if any, to
determine probable cause; and (3) whether or not the President of the Philippines, under the Constitution, may initiate criminal
proceedings against the petitioners through the filing of a complaint-affidavit.

Subsequent events have rendered the first issue moot and academic. On March 30, 1988, the Secretary of Justice denied petitioners'
motion for reconsideration and upheld the resolution of the Undersecretary of Justice sustaining the City Fiscal's finding of a prima facie
case against petitioners. A second motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Beltran was denied by the Secretary of Justice on April
7, 1988. On appeal, the President, through the Executive Secretary, affirmed the resolution of the Secretary of Justice on May 2, 1988.
The motion for reconsideration was denied by the Executive Secretary on May 16, 1988. With these developments, petitioner's
contention that they have been denied the administrative remedies available under the law has lost factual support.

It may also be added that with respect to petitioner Beltran, the allegation of denial of due process of law in the preliminary investigation
is negated by the fact that instead of submitting his counter-affidavits, he filed a "Motion to Declare Proceeding Closed", in effect
waiving his right to refute the complaint by filing counter-affidavits. Due process of law does not require that the respondent in a criminal
case actually file his counter-affidavits before the preliminary investigation completed. All that is required is that the respondent be given
the opportunity to submit counter-affidavits if he is so minded.

The second issue, raised by petitioner Beltran, calls for an interpretation of the constitutional provision on the issuance of warrants of
arrest. The pertinent provision reads:

Art. III, 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.

The addition of the word "personally" after the word "determined" and the deletion of the grant of authority by the 1973 Constitution to
issue warrants to "other responsible officers as may be authorized by law", has apparently convinced petitioner Beltran that the
Constitution now requires the judge to personally examine the complainant and his witnesses determination of probable cause for the
issuance of warrants of arrest. This is not an accurate interpretation.

What the Constitution underscores is the exclusive and personal responsibility of the issuing judge to satisfy himself the existence of
probable cause. In satisfying himself of the existence of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest, the judge is not required
to personally examine the complainant and his witnesses. Following established doctrine and procedure, he shall: (1) personally
evaluate the report and the supporting documents submitted by the fiscal regarding the existence of probable cause and, on the basis
thereof, issue a warrant of arrest; or (2) if on the basis thereof he finds no probable cause, he may disregard the fiscal's report and
require the submission of supporting affidavits of witnesses to aid him in arriving at a conclusion as to the existence of probable cause.

Sound policy dictates this procedure, otherwise judges would be unduly laden with the preliminary examination and investigation of
criminal complaints instead of concentrating on hearing and deciding cases filed before their courts.

 
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On June 30, 1987, the Supreme Court unanimously adopted Circular No. 12, setting down guidelines for the issuance of warrants of
arrest. The procedure therein provided is reiterated and clarified in this resolution.

It has not been shown that respondent judge has deviated from the prescribed procedure. Thus, with regard to the issuance of the
warrants of arrest, a finding of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction cannot be sustained.

Anent the third issue, petitioner Beltran argues that "the reasons which necessitate presidential immunity from suit impose a correlative
disability to file suit". He contends that if criminal proceedings ensue by virtue of the President's filing of her complaint-affidavit, she may
subsequently have to be a witness for the prosecution, bringing her under the trial court's jurisdiction. This, continues Beltran, would in
an indirect way defeat her privilege of immunity from suit, as by testifying on the witness stand, she would be exposing herself to
possible contempt of court or perjury.

The rationale for the grant to the President of the privilege of immunity from suit is to assure the exercise of Presidential duties and
functions free from any hindrance or distraction, considering that being the Chief Executive of the Government is a job that, aside from
requiring all of the office-holder's time, also demands undivided attention.

But this privilege of immunity from suit, pertains to the President by virtue of the office and may be invoked only by the holder of the
office; not by any other person in the President's behalf Thus, an accused in a criminal case in which the President is complainant
cannot raise the presidential privilege as a defense to prevent the case from proceeding against such accused.

Moreover, there is nothing in our laws that would prevent the President from waiving the privilege. Thus, if so minded the President may
shed the protection afforded by the privilege and submit to the court's jurisdiction. The choice of whether to exercise the privilege or to
waive it is solely the President's prerogative. It is a decision that cannot be assumed and imposed by any other person.

As regards the contention of petitioner Beltran that he could not be held liable for libel because of the privileged character or the
publication, the Court reiterates that it is not a trier of facts and that such a defense is best left to the trial court to appreciate after
receiving the evidence of the parties.

As to petitioner Beltran's claim that to allow the libel case to proceed would produce a "chilling effect" on press freedom, the Court finds
no basis at this stage to rule on the point.

The petitions fail to establish that public respondents, through their separate acts, gravely abused their discretion as to amount to lack
of jurisdiction. Hence, the writs of certiorari and prohibition prayed for cannot issue.

WHEREFORE, finding no grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction on the part of the public respondents,
the Court Resolved to DISMISS the petitions in G. R. Nos. 82585, 82827 and 83979. The Order to maintain status quo contained in the
Resolution of the Court en banc dated April 7, 1988 and reiterated in the Resolution dated April 26, 1988 is LIFTED.

Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes, Griño-Aquino,
Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

GUTIERREZ, JR., J ., concurring: 

I concur with the majority opinion insofar as it revolves the three principal issues mentioned in its opening statement. However, as to the
more important issue on whether or not the prosecution of the libel case would produce a "chilling effect" on press freedom, I beg to
reserve my vote. I believe this is the more important issue in these petitions and it should be resolved now rather that later.

Consistent with our decision in Salonga v. Cruz Paño (134 SCRA 438 [1985]), the Court should not hesitate to quash a criminal
prosecution in the interest of more enlightened and substantial justice where it is not alone the criminal liability of an accused in s
seemingly minor libel case which is involved but broader considerations of governmental power versus a preferred freedom.

We have in these four petitions the unusual situation where the highest official of the Republic and one who enjoys unprecedented
public support asks for the prosecution of a newspaper columnist, the publisher and chairman of the editorial board, the managing
editor and the business manager in a not too indubitable a case for alleged libel.

I am fully in accord with an all out prosecution if the effect will be limited to punishing a newspaperman who, instead of observing
accuracy and fairness, engages in unwarranted personal attacks, irresponsible twisting of facts, of malicious distortions of half-truths
which tend to cause dishonor, discredit, or contempt of the complainant. However, this case is not a simple prosecution for libel. We
have as complainant a powerful and popular President who heads the investigation and prosecution service and appoints members of
appellate courts but who feels so terribly maligned that she has taken the unorthodox step of going to court inspite of the invocations of
freedom of the press which would inevitably follow.

I believe that this Court should have acted on this issue now instead of leaving the matter to fiscals and defense lawyers to argue
before a trial judge.

There is always bound to be harassment inherent in any criminal prosecution. Where the harassment goes beyond the usual difficulties
encountered by any accused and results in an unwillingness of media to freely criticize government or to question government handling
of sensitive issues and public affairs, this Court and not a lower tribunal should draw the demarcation line.

 
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As early as March 8, 1918, the decision in United States v. Bustos (37 Phil. 731) stated that "(c)omplete liberty to comment on the
conduct of public men is a scalpel in the case of free speech. The sharp incision of its probe relieves the abscesses of officialdom. Men
in public life may suffer under a hostile and unjust accusation; the wound can be assuaged with the balm of a clear conscience." The
Court pointed out that while defamation is not authorized, criticism is to be expected and should be borne for the common good.

In People v. Perfecto (43 Phil. 887 [1922]), the Court stated:

xxx xxx xxx

". . . No longer is there a Minister of the Crown or a person in authority of such exalted position that the citizen must speak of him
only with bated breath. 'In the eye of our Constitution and laws, every man is a sovereign, a ruler and a freeman, and has equal
rights with every other man." (at p. 900)

In fact, the Court observed that high official position, instead of affording immunity from slanderous and libelous charges would
actually invite attacks by those who desire to create sensation. It would seem that what would ordinarily be slander if directed at the
typical person should be examined from various perspectives if directed at a high government official. Again, the Supreme Court
should draw this fine line instead of leaving it to lower tribunals.
This Court has stressed as authoritative doctrine in Elizalde v. Gutierrez (76 SCRA 448 [1977]) that a prosecution for libel lacks
justification if the offending words find sanctuary within the shelter of the free press guaranty. In other words, a prosecution for libel
should not be allowed to continue, where after discounting the possibility that the words may not be really that libelous, there is likely to
be a chilling effect, a patently inhibiting factor on the willingness of newspapermen, especially editors and publishers to courageously
perform their critical role in society. If, instead of merely reading more carefully what a columnist writes in his daily column, the editors
tell their people to lay off certain issues or certain officials, the effect on a free press would be highly injurious.

Because many questions regarding press freedom are left unanswered by our resolution, I must call attention to our decisions which
caution that "no inroads on press freedom should be allowed in the guise of punitive action visited on what otherwise should be
characterized as libel." (Lopez v. Court of Appeals, 34 SCRA 117 [1970]; See also the citations in Elizalde v. Gutierrez, supra).

The United States Supreme Court is even more emphatic, to wit:

"In deciding the question now, we are compelled by neither precedent nor policy to give any more weight to the epithet 'libel' than
we have to other 'mere labels' of state law. N.A.A.C.P. v. Button, 371 US 415, 429, 9L ed 2d 405, 415, 83 S Ct 328. Like
insurrection, contempt, advocacy of unlawful acts, breach of the peace, obscenity, solicitation of legal business, and the other
various other formulae for the repression of expression that have been challenged in this Court, libel can claim no talismanic
immunity from constitutional limitations. It must be measured by standards that satisfy the First Amendment.

xxx xxx xxx

"Those who won our independence believed .. that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental
principle of the American government. They recognized the risk to which all human institutions are subject. But they knew that
order cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope and
imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of
safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil
counsel is good ones. Believing in the power of reason as applied through public discussion, they eschewed silence coerced by
law — the argument of force in its worst form. . . .

"Thus we consider this case against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public
issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly
sharp attacks on government and public officials. . . " (at pp. 700-701)

Shunting aside the individual liability of Mr. Luis Beltran, is there a prima facie showing that Messrs. Maximo Soliven, Antonio V. Roces,
Frederick K. Agcaoili, and Godofredo L. Manzanas knowingly participated in a wilful purveying of falsehood? Considering the free
speech aspects of these petitions, should not a differentiated approach to their particular liabilities be taken instead of lumping up
everybody with the offending columnist? I realize that the law includes publishers and editors but perhaps the "chilling effect" issue
applies with singular effectivity to publishers and editors vis-a-vis newspaper columnists. There is no question that, ordinarily, libel is not
protected by the free speech clause but we have to understand that some provocative words, which if taken literally may appear to
shame or disparage a public figure, may really be intended to provoke debate on public issues when uttered or written by a media
personality. Will not a criminal prosecution in the type of case now before us dampen the vigor and limit the variety of public debate?
There are many other questions arising from this unusual case which have not been considered.

I, of course, concur with the Court's opinion because it has decided to limit the issues to narrowly drawn ones. I see no reason to
disagree with the way the Court has resolved them. The first issue on prematurity is moot. The second issue discusses a procedure
now embodied in the recently amended Rules of Court on how a Judge should proceed before he issues a warrant of arrest. Anent the
third issue, considerations of public policy dictate that an incumbent President should not be sued. At the same time, the President
cannot stand by helplessly bereft of legal remedies if somebody vilifies or maligns him or her.

The Court has decided to deter the "chilling effect" issue for a later day. To this, I take exception. I know that most of our fiscals and
judges are courageous individuals who would not allow any considerations of possible consequences to their careers stand in the way
of public duty. But why should we subject them to this problem? And why should we allow possibility of the trial court treating and
deciding the case as one for ordinary libel without bothering to fully explore the more important areas of concern, the extremely difficult
is involving government power and freedom of expression.

 
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However, since we have decided to defer the "chilling effect" issue for a later day, I limit myself to reiterating the dissenting words of Mr.
Justice Jackson in the American case of Beaurnhaisv. Illinois (343 U. S. 250) when he said.

"If one can claim to announce the judgment of legal history on any subject, it is that criminal libel laws are consistent with the
concept of ordered liberty only when applied with safeguards evolved to prevent their invasion of freedom of expression."

In the trial of the libel case against the petitioners, the safeguards in the name of freedom of expression should be faithfully applied.

||| (Soliven v. Makasiar, G.R. No. 82585, 82827, 83979 (Resolution), [November 14, 1988], 249 PHIL 394-406) 

4. Microsoft Corp. vs. Maxicorp, Inc., G.R. No. 140946, September 2004 

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 140946. September 13, 2004.]

MICROSOFT CORPORATION and LOTUS DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, petitioners, vs. MAXICORP, INC.,
respondent.

DECISION

CARPIO, J p:

The Case
This petition for review on certiorari 1 seeks to reverse the Court of Appeals' Decision 2 dated 23 December 1998 and its Resolution
dated 29 November 1999 in CA-G.R. SP No. 44777. The Court of Appeals reversed the Order 3 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 23,
Manila ("RTC"), denying respondent Maxicorp, Inc.'s ("Maxicorp") motion to quash the search warrant that the RTC issued against
Maxicorp. Petitioners are the private complainants against Maxicorp for copyright infringement under Section 29 of Presidential Decree
No. 49 ("Section 29 of PD 49") 4and for unfair competition under Article 189 of the Revised Penal Code ("RPC"). 5

Antecedent Facts
On 25 July 1996, National Bureau of Investigation ("NBI") Agent Dominador Samiano, Jr. ("NBI Agent Samiano") filed several
applications for search warrants in the RTC against Maxicorp for alleged violation of Section 29 of PD 49 and Article 189 of the RPC.
After conducting a preliminary examination of the applicant and his witnesses, Judge William M. Bayhon issued Search Warrants Nos.
96-451, 96-452, 96-453 and 96-454, all dated 25 July 1996, against Maxicorp.

Armed with the search warrants, NBI agents conducted on 25 July 1996 a search of Maxicorp's premises and seized property fitting the
description stated in the search warrants.

On 2 September 1996, Maxicorp filed a motion to quash the search warrants alleging that there was no probable cause for their
issuance and that the warrants are in the form of "general warrants." The RTC denied Maxicorp's motion on 22 January 1997. The RTC
also denied Maxicorp's motion for reconsideration.

The RTC found probable cause to issue the search warrants after examining NBI Agent Samiano, John Benedict Sacriz ("Sacriz"), and
computer technician Felixberto Pante ("Pante"). The three testified on what they discovered during their respective visits to Maxicorp.
NBI Agent Samiano also presented certifications from petitioners that they have not authorized Maxicorp to perform the witnessed
activities using petitioners' products.

On 24 July 1997, Maxicorp filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals seeking to set aside the RTC's order. On 23 December
1998, the Court of Appeals reversed the RTC's order denying Maxicorp's motion to quash the search warrants. Petitioners moved for
reconsideration. The Court of Appeals denied petitioners' motion on 29 November 1999.

The Court of Appeals held that NBI Agent Samiano failed to present during the preliminary examination conclusive evidence that
Maxicorp produced or sold the counterfeit products. The Court of Appeals pointed out that the sales receipt NBI Agent Samiano
presented as evidence that he bought the products from Maxicorp was in the name of a certain "Joel Diaz."

Hence, this petition.

The Issues
Petitioners seek a reversal and raise the following issues for resolution:

1. WHETHER THE PETITION RAISES QUESTIONS OF LAW;

2. WHETHER PETITIONERS HAVE LEGAL PERSONALITY TO FILE THE PETITION;

3. WHETHER THERE WAS PROBABLE CAUSE TO ISSUE THE SEARCH WARRANTS;

 
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4. WHETHER THE SEARCH WARRANTS ARE "GENERAL WARRANTS." IaECcH

The Ruling of the Court


The petition has merit.

On Whether the Petition Raises Questions of Law

Maxicorp assails this petition as defective since it failed to raise questions of law. Maxicorp insists that the arguments petitioners
presented are questions of fact, which this Court should not consider in a Rule 45 petition for review. Petitioners counter that all the
issues they presented in this petition involve questions of law. Petitioners point out that the facts are not in dispute.

A petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court should cover questions of law. 6 Questions of fact are not reviewable. As a rule,
the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are final and conclusive and this Court will not review them on appeal, 7 subject to exceptions
as when the findings of the appellate court conflict with the findings of the trial court. 8

The distinction between questions of law and questions of fact is settled. A question of law exists when the doubt or difference centers
on what the law is on a certain state of facts. A question of fact exists if the doubt centers on the truth or falsity of the alleged facts.
Though this delineation seems simple, determining the true nature and extent of the distinction is sometimes problematic. For example,
it is incorrect to presume that all cases where the facts are not in dispute automatically involve purely questions of law.

There is a question of law if the issue raised is capable of being resolved without need of reviewing the probative value of the evidence.
9 The resolution of the issue must rest solely on what the law provides on the given set of circumstances. Once it is clear that the issue

invites a review of the evidence presented, the question posed is one of fact. 10 If the query requires a re-evaluation of the credibility of
witnesses, or the existence or relevance of surrounding circumstances and their relation to each other, the issue in that query is factual.
11 Our ruling inPaterno v. Paterno 12 is illustrative on this point:

Such questions as whether certain items of evidence should be accorded probative value or weight, or rejected as feeble or
spurious, or whether or not the proofs on one side or the other are clear and convincing and adequate to establish a proposition in
issue, are without doubt questions of fact. Whether or not the body of proofs presented by a party, weighed and analyzed in
relation to contrary evidence submitted by adverse party, may be said to be strong, clear and convincing; whether or not certain
documents presented by one side should be accorded full faith and credit in the face of protests as to their spurious character by
the other side; whether or not inconsistencies in the body of proofs of a party are of such gravity as to justify refusing to give said
proofs weight — all these are issues of fact.

It is true that Maxicorp did not contest the facts alleged by petitioners. But this situation does not automatically transform all issues
raised in the petition into questions of law. The issues must meet the tests outlined in Paterno.

Of the three main issues raised in this petition — the legal personality of the petitioners, the nature of the warrants issued and the
presence of probable cause — only the first two qualify as questions of law. The pivotal issue of whether there was probable cause to
issue the search warrants is a question of fact. At first glance, this issue appears to involve a question of law since it does not concern
itself with the truth or falsity of certain facts. Still, the resolution of this issue would require this Court to inquire into the probative value
of the evidence presented before the RTC. For a question to be one of law, it must not involve an examination of the probative value of
the evidence presented by the litigants or any of them. 13

Yet, this is precisely what the petitioners ask us to do by raising arguments requiring an examination of the TSNs and the documentary
evidence presented during the search warrant proceedings. In short, petitioners would have us substitute our own judgment to that of
the RTC and the Court of Appeals by conducting our own evaluation of the evidence. This is exactly the situation which Section 1, Rule
45 of the Rules of Court prohibits by requiring the petition to raise only questions of law. This Court is not a trier of facts. It is not the
function of this court to analyze or weigh evidence. 14 When we give due course to such situations, it is solely by way of exception. Such
exceptions apply only in the presence of extremely meritorious circumstances. 15

Indeed, this case falls under one of the exceptions because the findings of the Court of Appeals conflict with the findings of the RTC. 16
Since petitioners properly raised the conflicting findings of the lower courts, it is proper for this Court to resolve such contradiction.

On Whether Petitioners have the Legal Personality to File this Petition


Maxicorp argues that petitioners have no legal personality to file this petition since the proper party to do so in a criminal case is the
Office of the Solicitor General as representative of the People of the Philippines. Maxicorp states the general rule but the exception
governs this case. 17 We ruled in Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc. v. Court of Appeals 18 that the petitioner-complainant in a
petition for review under Rule 45 could argue its case before this Court in lieu of the Solicitor General if there is grave error committed
by the lower court or lack of due process. This avoids a situation where a complainant who actively participated in the prosecution of a
case would suddenly find itself powerless to pursue a remedy due to circumstances beyond its control. The circumstances in Columbia
Pictures Entertainment are sufficiently similar to the present case to warrant the application of this doctrine.

On Whether there was Probable Cause to Issue the Search Warrants


Petitioners argue that the Court of Appeals erred in reversing the RTC based on the fact that the sales receipt was not in the name of
NBI Agent Samiano. Petitioners point out that the Court of Appeals disregarded the overwhelming evidence that the RTC considered in
determining the existence of probable cause. Maxicorp counters that the Court of Appeals did not err in reversing the RTC. Maxicorp
maintains that the entire preliminary examination that the RTC conducted was defective.

The Court of Appeals based its reversal on two factual findings of the RTC. First, the fact that the sales receipt presented by NBI Agent
Samiano as proof that he bought counterfeit goods from Maxicorp was in the name of a certain "Joel Diaz." Second, the fact that
petitioners' other witness, John Benedict Sacriz, admitted that he did not buy counterfeit goods from Maxicorp.

 
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We rule that the Court of Appeals erred in reversing the RTC's findings.

Probable cause means "such reasons, supported by facts and circumstances as will warrant a cautious man in the belief that his action
and the means taken in prosecuting it are legally just and proper." 19 Thus, probable cause for a search warrant requires such facts and
circumstances that would lead a reasonably prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed and the objects sought in
connection with that offense are in the place to be searched. 20

The judge determining probable cause must do so only after personally examining under oath the complainant and his witnesses. The
oath required must refer to "the truth of the facts within the personal knowledge of the petitioner or his witnesses, because the purpose
thereof is to convince the committing magistrate, not the individual making the affidavit and seeking the issuance of the warrant, of the
existence of probable cause." 21 The applicant must have personal knowledge of the circumstances. "Reliable information" is
insufficient. 22 Mere affidavits are not enough, and the judge must depose in writing the complainant and his witnesses. 23

The Court of Appeals' reversal of the findings of the RTC centers on the fact that the two witnesses for petitioners during the preliminary
examination failed to prove conclusively that they bought counterfeit software from Maxicorp. The Court of Appeals ruled that this
amounted to a failure to prove the existence of a connection between the offense charged and the place searched.

The offense charged against Maxicorp is copyright infringement under Section 29 of PD 49 and unfair competition under Article 189 of
the RPC. To support these charges, petitioners presented the testimonies of NBI Agent Samiano, computer technician Pante, and
Sacriz, a civilian. The offenses that petitioners charged Maxicorp contemplate several overt acts. The sale of counterfeit products is but
one of these acts. Both NBI Agent Samiano and Sacriz related to the RTC how they personally saw Maxicorp commit acts of
infringement and unfair competition.

During the preliminary examination, the RTC subjected the testimonies of the witnesses to the requisite examination. NBI Agent
Samiano testified that he saw Maxicorp display and offer for sale counterfeit software in its premises. He also saw how the counterfeit
software were produced and packaged within Maxicorp's premises. NBI Agent Samiano categorically stated that he was certain the
products were counterfeit because Maxicorp sold them to its customers without giving the accompanying ownership manuals, license
agreements and certificates of authenticity.

Sacriz testified that during his visits to Maxicorp, he witnessed several instances when Maxicorp installed petitioners' software into
computers it had assembled. Sacriz also testified that he saw the sale of petitioners' software within Maxicorp's premises. Petitioners
never authorized Maxicorp to install or sell their software.

The testimonies of these two witnesses, coupled with the object and documentary evidence they presented, are sufficient to establish
the existence of probable cause. From what they have witnessed, there is reason to believe that Maxicorp engaged in copyright
infringement and unfair competition to the prejudice of petitioners. Both NBI Agent Samiano and Sacriz were clear and insistent that the
counterfeit software were not only displayed and sold within Maxicorp's premises, they were also produced, packaged and in some
cases, installed there.

The determination of probable cause does not call for the application of rules and standards of proof that a judgment of conviction
requires after trial on the merits. As implied by the words themselves, "probable cause" is concerned with probability, not absolute or
even moral certainty. The prosecution need not present at this stage proof beyond reasonable doubt. The standards of judgment are
those of a reasonably prudent man, 24 not the exacting calibrations of a judge after a full-blown trial.

No law or rule states that probable cause requires a specific kind of evidence. No formula or fixed rule for its determination exists. 25
Probable cause is determined in the light of conditions obtaining in a given situation. 26 Thus, it was improper for the Court of Appeals to
reverse the RTC's findings simply because the sales receipt evidencing NBI Agent Samiano's purchase of counterfeit goods is not in his
name.

For purposes of determining probable cause, the sales receipt is not the only proof that the sale of petitioners' software occurred.
During the search warrant application proceedings, NBI Agent Samiano presented to the judge the computer unit that he purchased
from Maxicorp, in which computer unit Maxicorp had pre-installed petitioners' software. 27 Sacriz, who was present when NBI Agent
Samiano purchased the computer unit, affirmed that NBI Agent Samiano purchased the computer unit. 28 Pante, the computer
technician, demonstrated to the judge the presence of petitioners' software on the same computer unit. 29 There was a comparison
between petitioners' genuine software and Maxicorp's software pre-installed in the computer unit that NBI Agent Sambiano purchased.
30 Even if we disregard the sales receipt issued in the name of "Joel Diaz," which petitioners explained was the alias NBI Agent

Samiano used in the operation, there still remains more than sufficient evidence to establish probable cause for the issuance of the
search warrants.

This also applies to the Court of Appeals' ruling on Sacriz's testimony. The fact that Sacriz did not actually purchase counterfeit software
from Maxicorp does not eliminate the existence of probable cause. Copyright infringement and unfair competition are not limited to the
act of selling counterfeit goods. They cover a whole range of acts, from copying, assembling, packaging to marketing, including the
mere offering for sale of the counterfeit goods. The clear and firm testimonies of petitioners' witnesses on such other acts stand
untarnished. The Constitution and the Rules of Court only require that the judge examine personally and thoroughly the applicant for
the warrant and his witnesses to determine probable cause. The RTC complied adequately with the requirement of the Constitution and
the Rules of Court. LibLex

Probable cause is dependent largely on the opinion and findings of the judge who conducted the examination and who had the
opportunity to question the applicant and his witnesses. 31For this reason, the findings of the judge deserve great weight. The reviewing
court should overturn such findings only upon proof that the judge disregarded the facts before him or ignored the clear dictates of
reason. 32 Nothing in the records of the preliminary examination proceedings reveal any impropriety on the part of the judge in this case.
 
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As one can readily see, here the judge examined thoroughly the applicant and his witnesses. To demand a higher degree of proof is
unnecessary and untimely. The prosecution would be placed in a compromising situation if it were required to present all its evidence at
such preliminary stage. Proof beyond reasonable doubt is best left for trial.

On Whether the Search Warrants are in the Nature of General Warrants


A search warrant must state particularly the place to be searched and the objects to be seized. The evident purpose for this
requirement is to limit the articles to be seized only to those particularly described in the search warrant. This is a protection against
potential abuse. It is necessary to leave the officers of the law with no discretion regarding what articles they shall seize, to the end that
no unreasonable searches and seizures be committed. 33

In addition, under Section 4, Rule 126 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, a search warrant shall issue "in connection with one specific
offense." The articles described must bear a direct relation to the offense for which the warrant is issued. 34 Thus, this rule requires that
the warrant must state that the articles subject of the search and seizure are used or intended for use in the commission of a specific
offense.

Maxicorp argues that the warrants issued against it are too broad in scope and lack the specificity required with respect to the objects to
be seized. After examining the wording of the warrants issued, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Maxicorp and reversed the RTC's
Order thus:

Under the foregoing language, almost any item in the petitioner's store can be seized on the ground that it is "used or intended to
be used" in the illegal or unauthorized copying or reproduction of the private respondents' software and their manuals. 35

The Court of Appeals based its reversal on its perceived infirmity of paragraph (e) of the search warrants the RTC issued. The
appellate court found that similarly worded warrants, all of which noticeably employ the phrase "used or intended to be used," were
previously held void by this Court. 36 The disputed text of the search warrants in this case states:
a) Complete or partially complete reproductions or copies of Microsoft software bearing the Microsoft copyrights and/or
trademarks owned by MICROSOFT CORPORATION contained in CD-ROMs, diskettes and hard disks;

b) Complete or partially complete reproductions or copies of Microsoft instruction manuals and/or literature bearing the
Microsoft copyrights and/or trademarks owned by MICROSOFT CORPORATION;

c) Sundry items such as labels, boxes, prints, packages, wrappers, receptacles, advertisements and other
paraphernalia bearing the copyrights and/or trademarks owned by MICROSOFT CORPORATION;

d) Sales invoices, delivery receipts, official receipts, ledgers, journals, purchase orders and all other books of accounts
and documents used in the recording of the reproduction and/or assembly, distribution and sales, and other
transactions in connection with fake or counterfeit products bearing the Microsoft copyrights and/or
trademarks owned by MICROSOFT CORPORATION;

e) Computer hardware, including central processing units including hard disks, CD-ROM drives, keyboards, monitor
screens and diskettes, photocopying machines and other equipment or paraphernalia used or intended to be
used in the illegal and unauthorized copying or reproduction of Microsoft software and their manuals, or
which contain, display or otherwise exhibit, without the authority of MICROSOFT CORPORATION, any and
all Microsoft trademarks and copyrights; and

f) Documents relating to any passwords or protocols in order to access all computer hard drives, data bases and other
information storage devices containing unauthorized Microsoft software. 37 (Emphasis supplied)

It is only required that a search warrant be specific as far as the circumstances will ordinarily allow. 38 The description of the property to
be seized need not be technically accurate or precise. The nature of the description should vary according to whether the identity of the
property or its character is a matter of concern. 39 Measured against this standard we find that paragraph (e) is not a general warrant.
The articles to be seized were not only sufficiently identified physically, they were also specifically identified by stating their relation to
the offense charged. Paragraph (e) specifically refers to those articles used or intended for use in the illegal and unauthorized copying
of petitioners' software. This language meets the test of specificity. 40

The cases cited by the Court of Appeals are inapplicable. In those cases, the Court found the warrants too broad because of particular
circumstances, not because of the mere use of the phrase "used or intended to be used." In Columbia Pictures, Inc. v. Flores, the
warrants ordering the seizure of "television sets, video cassette recorders, rewinders and tape cleaners . . ." were found too broad since
the defendant there was a licensed distributor of video tapes. 41 The mere presence of counterfeit video tapes in the defendant's store
does not mean that the machines were used to produce the counterfeit tapes. The situation in this case is different. Maxicorp is not a
licensed distributor of petitioners. In Bache & Co. (Phil.), Inc., et al. v. Judge Ruiz, et al., the Court voided the warrants because they
authorized the seizure of records pertaining to "all business transactions" of the defendant. 42 And in 20th Century Fox Film Corp.
v.Court of Appeals, the Court quashed the warrant because it merely gave a list of articles to be seized, aggravated by the fact that
such appliances are "generally connected with the legitimate business of renting out betamax tapes." 43

However, we find paragraph (c) of the search warrants lacking in particularity. Paragraph (c) states:

c) Sundry items such as labels, boxes, prints, packages, wrappers, receptacles, advertisements and other
paraphernalia bearing the copyrights and/or trademarks owned by MICROSOFT CORPORATION;

The scope of this description is all-embracing since it covers property used for personal or other purposes not related to copyright
infringement or unfair competition. Moreover, the description covers property that Maxicorp may have bought legitimately from

 
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Microsoft or its licensed distributors. Paragraph (c) simply calls for the seizure of all items bearing the Microsoft logo, whether
legitimately possessed or not. Neither does it limit the seizure to products used in copyright infringement or unfair competition.
Still, no provision of law exists which requires that a warrant, partially defective in specifying some items sought to be seized yet
particular with respect to the other items, should be nullified as a whole. A partially defective warrant remains valid as to the items
specifically described in the warrant. 44 A search warrant is severable, the items not sufficiently described may be cut off without
destroying the whole warrant. 45 The exclusionary rule found in Section 3(2) of Article III of the Constitution renders inadmissible in any
proceeding all evidence obtained through unreasonable searches and seizure. Thus, all items seized under paragraph (c) of the search
warrants, not falling under paragraphs a, b, d, e or f, should be returned to Maxicorp.

WHEREFORE, we PARTIALLY GRANT the instant petition. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 23 December 1998 and its
Resolution dated 29 November 1999 in CA-G.R. SP No. 44777 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE except with respect to articles seized
under paragraph (c) of Search Warrants Nos. 96-451, 96-452, 96-453 and 96-454. All articles seized under paragraph (c) of the search
warrants, not falling under paragraphs a, b, d, e or f, are ordered returned to Maxicorp, Inc. immediately.

SO ORDERED. SAHIaD

Davide, Jr., C .J ., Ynares-Santiago and Azcuna, JJ ., concur.

Quisumbing, J ., took no part. Close relation to Counsel.

||| (Microsoft Corp. v. Maxicorp, Inc., G.R. No. 140946, [September 13, 2004], 481 PHIL 550-573) 

5. People vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 126379, June 26, 1998 

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 126379. June 26, 1998.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by Provincial Prosecutor FAUSTINO T. CHIONG, petitioner, vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, JUDGE CAESAR CASANOVA, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 80,
Malolos, Bulacan, AZFAR HUSSAIN, MOHAMMAD SAGED, MUJAHID KHAN, MOHAMMAD ASLAM and
MEHMOOD ALI,respondents.

The Solicitor General for petitioner.

Manuel V. Mendoza for private respondents.

SYNOPSIS

A search warrant was served against Azfar Hussain which resulted in his arrest together with 3 other Pakistanis and in the seizure of
their personal belongings, papers and effects, i.e. dynamite sticks, plastic explosives, fragmentation grenade and high powered firearms
and ammunitions. Charged in court, they pleaded not guilty and submitted their "Extremely Urgent Motion to Quash Search Warrant
and to Declare Evidence Obtained Inadmissible" on the ground that the place searched, in which the accused were then residing, was
Apartment No. 1, a place other than and separate from, and in no way connected with, albeit adjacent to, Abigail's Variety Store, the
place stated in the search warrant. The trial court granted the Motion to Quash which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals on special
civil action for certiorari. The Solicitor General now seeks reversal of the Court of Appeals' decision alleging that the police officers had
satisfactorily established probable cause before the judge for the issuance of a search warrant.

The Supreme Court held that while their contention may be conceded, the trouble is that the place described in the search warrant,
which is the only place that may be legitimately searched in virtue thereof, was not that which the police officers who applied for the
search warrant had in mind, with the result that what they actually subjected to search-and-seizure operations was a place other than
that stated in the search warrant. It does not suffice for a search warrant to be deemed valid, that it be based on probable cause,
personally determined by the judge after examination under oath, or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce;
it is essential, too, that it particularly describe the place to be searched, the manifest intention being that the search be confined strictly
to the place so described. HcISTE

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; SEARCH WARRANT; OFFICER EXECUTING WARRANT COULD CONSULT THE
RECORDS IN THE OFFICIAL COURT FILE TO CLEAR UP EXTRINSIC AMBIGUITY. — The Solicitor General argues that this
assumption is sanctioned by Burgos, Sr. v. Chief of Staff, AFP, allegedly to the effect that the executing officer's prior knowledge as to
the place intended in the warrant is relevant, and he may, in case of any ambiguity in the warrant as to the place to be searched, look to
the affidavit in the official court file. Burgos is inapplicable. That case concerned two (2) search warrants which, upon perusal,
immediately disclosed an obvious typographical error. The application in said case was for seizure of subversive material allegedly

 
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concealed in two places: one at "No. 19, Road 3, Project 6, Quezon City," and the other at "784 Units C & D, RMS Building, Quezon
Avenue, Quezon City;" Two (2) warrants issued — No. 20-82 [a] and No. 20-82 [b]). Objection was made to the execution of Warrant
No. 20-82 (b) at "784 Units C & D, RMS Building, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City" because both search warrants apparently indicated
the same address (No. 19, Road 3, Project 6, Quezon City) as the place where the supposedly subversive material was hidden. This
was error, of course but, as this Court there ruled, the error was obviously typographical, for it was absurd to suppose that the Judge
had issued two warrants for the search of only one place. Adverting to the fact that the application for the search warrants specified two
(2) distinct addresses, and that in fact the address, "784 Units C & D, RMS Building, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City" appeared in the
opening paragraph of Warrant 20-82 (b), this Court concluded that evidently, this was the address the judge intended to be searched
when he issued the second warrant (No. 20-82 [b]); and to clear up the ambiguity caused by the "obviously typographical error," the
officer executing the warrant could consult the records in the official court file.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; CASE AT BAR; IT IS NEITHER FAIR NOR LICIT FOR POLICE OFFICERS TO SEARCH A PLACE DIFFERENT FROM
THAT STATED IN THE WARRANT. — The case at bar, however, does not deal with the correction of an "obvious typographical error"
involving ambiguous descriptions of the place to be searched, as in Burgos, but the search of a place different from that clearly and
without ambiguity identified in the search warrant. In Burgos, the inconsistency calling for clarification was immediately perceptible on
the face of the warrants in question. In the instant case, there is no ambiguity at all in the warrant. The ambiguity lies outside the
instrument, arising from the absence of a meeting of minds as to the place to be searched between the applicants for the warrant and
the Judge issuing the same; and what was done was to substitute for the place that the Judge had written down in the warrant, the
premises that the executing officers had in their mind. This should not have been done. It is neither fair nor licit to allow police officers to
search a place different from that stated in the warrant on the claim that the place actually searched — although not that specified in the
warrant — is exactly what they had in view when they applied for the warrant and had demarcated in their supporting evidence. What is
material in determining the validity of a search is the place stated in the warrant itself, not what the applicants had in their thoughts, or
had represented in the proofs they submitted to the court issuing the warrant. Indeed, following the officers' theory, in the context of the
facts of this case, all four (4) apartment units at the rear of Abigail's Variety Store would have been fair game for a search. The place to
be searched, as set out in the warrant, cannot be amplified or modified by the officer's own personal knowledge of the premises, or the
evidence they adduced in support of their application for the warrant. Such a change is proscribed by the Constitution which requires
inter aliathe search warrant to particularly describe the place to be searched as well as the persons or things to be seized. It would
concede to police officers the power of choosing the place to be searched, even if it not be that delineated in the warrant. It would open
wide the door to abuse of the search process, and grant to officers executing a search warrant that discretion which the Constitution
has precisely removed from them. The particularization of the description of the place to be searched may properly be done only by the
Judge, and only in the warrant itself; it cannot be left to the discretion of the police officers conducting the search.

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; IT DOES NOT SUFFICE FOR A SEARCH WARRANT TO BE DEEMED VALID; IT IS ESSENTIAL TOO THAT IT
PARTICULARLY DESCRIBE THE PLACE TO BE SEARCHED. — The Government alleges that the officers had satisfactorily
established probable cause before Judge Bacalla for the issuance of a search warrant. While this may be conceded, the trouble is, to
repeat, that the place described in the search warrant — which, of course, is the only place that may be legitimately searched in virtue
thereof — was not that which the police officers who applied for the warrant had in mind, with the result that what they actually
subjected to search-and-seizure operations was a place other than that stated in the warrant. In fine, while there was a search warrant
more or less properly issued as regards Abigail's Variety Store, there was none for Apartment No. 1 — the first of the four (4) apartment
units at the rear of said store, and precisely the place in which the private respondents were then residing. It does not suffice, for a
search warrant to be deemed valid, that it be based on probable cause, personally determined by the judge after examination under
oath, or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce; it is essential, too, that it particularly described the place to
be searched, the manifest intention being that the search be confined strictly to the place so described.

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; CONFLICTS OF JURISDICTION; POLICY GUIDELINES. — Where a search warrant is issued by one court and the
criminal action based on the results of the search is afterwards commenced in another court, it is not the rule that a motion to quash the
warrant (or to retrieve things thereunder seized) may be filed only with the issuing Court. Such a motion may be filed for the first time in
either the issuing Court or that in which the criminal action is pending. However, the remedy is alternative, not cumulative. The Court
first taking cognizance of the motion does so to the exclusion of the other, and the proceedings thereon are subject to the Omnibus
Motion Rule and the rule against forum-shopping. This is clearly stated in the third policy guideline which indeed is what properly
applies to the case at bar, to wit: "3. Where no motion to quash the search warrant was filed in or resolved by the issuing court, the
interested party may move in the court where the criminal case is pending for the suppression as evidence of the personal property
seized under the warrant if the same is offered therein for said purpose. Since two separate courts with different participations are
involved in this situation, a motion to quash a search warrant and a motion to suppress evidence are alternative and not cumulative
remedies. In order to prevent forum-shopping, a motion to quash shall consequently be governed by the omnibus motion rule, provided,
however, that objections not available, existent or known during the proceedings for the quashal of the warrant may be raised in the
hearing of the motion to suppress. The resolution of the court on the motion to suppress shall likewise be subject to any proper remedy
in the appropriate higher court."

5. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; CASE AT BAR. — In this case, the search warrant was applied for in, and issued by, Branch 216 of the Regional
Trial Court at Quezon City, and the return was made to said court. On the other hand, the criminal action in connection with the
explosives subject of the warrant was filed in Branch 80 of the Regional Trial Court of Bulacan. In this situation, a motion to quash the
search warrant, or for the return of the personal property seized (not otherwise contraband) could have properly been presented in the
QC RTC. No such motion was ever filed. It was only after the criminal action had been commenced in the Bulacan RTC that the motion
to quash and to suppress evidence was submitted to the latter. The case thus falls within guideline No. 3 abovequoted in accordance
with which the latter court must be deemed to have acted within its competence.

 
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DECISION

NARVASA, C .J p:

In behalf of the People, the Solicitor General has perfected the appeal at bar under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court from the Decision
promulgated on September 11, 1996 of the Fourteenth Division of the Court of Appeals. 1 Said judgment dismissed the People's petition
for certiorari to invalidate (i) the Order of Judge Caesar A. Casanova of Branch 80 of the Regional Trial Court dated February 9, 1996, 2
as well as (ii) that dated May 28, 1996 denying the People's motion for reconsideration. 3 Those orders were handed down in Criminal
Case No. 43-M-96, a case of illegal possession of explosives, after the accused had been arraigned and entered a plea of not guilty to
the charge. More particularly, the Order of February 9, 1996: LexLib

1) quashed a search warrant (No. 1068 [95]) issued by Judge Marciano I. Bacalla of Branch 216 of the Regional Trial Court at
Quezon City on December 15, 1995, 4

2) declared inadmissible for any purpose the items seized under the warrant, and

3) directed the turnover of the amount of U.S. $5,750.00 to the Court within five (5) days "to be released thereafter in favor of the
lawful owner considering that said amount was not mentioned in the Search Warrant."

The antecedents, "culled from the records" by the Appellate Court, are hereunder set out.

1. "On December 14, 1995, S/Insp PNP James Brillantes applied for search warrant before Branch 261, RTC of Quezon City
against Mr. Azfar Hussain, who had allegedly in his possession firearms and explosives at Abigail Variety Store, Apt. 1207 Area F,
Bagong Buhay Avenue, Sapang Palay, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan."

2. "The following day, December 15, 1995, Search Warrant No. 1068 (95) against Mr. Hussain was issued not at Abigail Variety
Store but at Apt. No. 1, immediately adjacent (to) Abigail Variety Store resulting in the arrest of four (4) Pakistani nationals and in
the seizure of their personal belongings, papers and effects such as wallet, wrist watches, pair of shoes, jackets, t-shirts, belts,
sunglasses and travelling bags including cash amounting to $3,550.00 and P1,500.00 aside from US$5,175.00 (receipted) which
were never mentioned in the warrant. The sum of $5,175.00 was however returned to the respondents upon order of the court on
respondents' motion or request. Included allegedly are one piece of dynamite stick; two pieces of plastic explosives C-4 type and
one (1) fragmentation grenade. But without the items described in the search warrant are: (a) three (3) Ingram machine pistols;
(b) four (4) gmm pistol; (c) blasting caps; (d) fuse; (e) assorted chemical ingredients for explosives; and (f) assorted magazine
assg and ammunitions."

3. "On December 19, 1995, three days after the warrant was served, a return was made without mentioning the personal
belongings, papers and effects including cash belonging to the private respondents. There was no showing that lawful occupants
were made to witness the search."

4. "On January 22, 1996, private respondents upon arraignment, pleaded not guilty to the offense charged; . . ." and on the same
date, submitted their "Extremely Urgent Motion (To Quash Search Warrant and to Declare Evidence Obtained Inadmissible),"
dated January 15, 1996;

5. ". . . According to the private respondents in their pleading (consolidated comment on petition for certiorari . . .): 'On January
29, 1996, an ocular inspection of the premises searched was conducted by respondent Judge and the following facts had been
established as contained in the order dated January 30, 1996 . . . to wit:

"1) That the residence of all the accused is at Apartment No. 1 which is adjacent to the Abigail's Variety Store;

2) That there is no such number as '1207' found in the building as it is correspondingly called only as 'Apartment No. 1,
2, 3 and 4;'

3) That Apartment No. 1 is separate from the Abigail's Variety Store;

4) That there are no connecting doors that can pass from Abigail's Variety Store to Apartment No. 1;

5) That Abigail's Variety Store and Apartment No. 1 have its own respective doors used for ingress and egress.

There being no objection on the said observation of the Court, let the same be reduced on the records.

SO ORDERED." "

6. "On February 9, 1996, respondent Judge . . . issued its order duly granting the motion to quash search warrant . . .;" 5

7. "On February 12, 1996, private respondents filed the concomitant motion to dismiss . . .;"

8. "On February 19, 1996, Asst. Provincial Prosecutor Rolando Bulan filed a motion for reconsideration and supplemental motion
on the order quashing the search warrant . . . ;"

9. "On February 27, 1996 and March 12, 1996, private respondents filed opposition/comment and supplemental
opposition/comment on the motion for reconsideration . . . ;"

10. "On May 28, 1996, respondent Judge . . . issued its order denying the motion for reconsideration . . .; (and on) June 11, 1996,
private respondents filed extremely urgent reiterated motion to dismiss . . . ."

 
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Chiefly to nullify Judge Casanova's quashal Order of February 9, 1996 above referred to, the Solicitor General forthwith commenced a
special civil action of certiorari in the Court of Appeals. The action did not prosper, however. As earlier mentioned, the Fourteenth
Division of the Appellate Tribunal promulgated judgment on September 11, 1996, dismissing the case for lack of merit.

The judgment was grounded on the following propositions, to wit: 6

1. The place actually searched was different and distinct from the place described in the search warrant. This fact was
ascertained by the Trial Judge through an ocular inspection, the findings wherein, not objected to by the People, were embodied
in an order dated January 30, 1996. The place searched, in which the accused (herein petitioners) were then residing
wasApartment No. 1. It is a place other than and separate from, and in no way connected with, albeit adjacent to, Abigail's Variety
Store, the place stated in the search warrant.

2. The public prosecutor's claim — that the sketch submitted to Judge Bacalla relative to the application for a search warrant,
actually depicted the particular place to be searched — was effectively confuted by Judge Casanova who pointed out that said
"SKETCH was not dated, not signed by the person who made it and not even mentioned in the Search Warrant by the Honorable
Judge (Bacalla, who) instead . . . directed them to search Abigail Variety Store Apartment 1207 . . . in the Order . . . dated
December 15, 1995" — this, too, being the address given "in the Application for Search Warrant dated December 14, 1995,
requested by P/SR INSP. Roger James Brillantes, the Team Leader." The untenability of the claim is made more patent by the
People's admission, during the hearing of its petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals, that said sketch was in truth "not
attached to the application for search warrant . . . (but)merely attached to the motion for reconsideration." 7

Quoted with approval by the Appellate Court were the following observations of Judge Casanova contained in his Order of May
28, 1996, viz.: 8

"(d) . . . it is very clear that the place searched is different from the place mentioned in the Search Warrant, that is the
reason why even P/SR. INSP. Roger James Brillantes, SPO1 Prisco Bella and SPO4 Cesar D. Santiago, who were all
EDUCATED, CULTURED and ADEPT to their tasks of being RAIDERS and who were all STATIONED IN BULACAN
were not even able to OPEN THEIR MOUTH to say in TAGALOG with Honorable Judge who issued the Search
Warrant the words 'KATABI', or "KADIKIT" or 'KASUNOD NG ABIGAIL VARIETY STORE ang papasukin namin" or if
they happen to be an ENGLISH speaking POLICEMEN, they were not able to open their mouth even to WHISPER the
ENGLISH WORDS 'RESIDE' or 'ADJACENT' or 'BEHIND' or 'NEXT' to ABIGAIL VARIETY STORE, the place they are
going to raid.' . . ."

3. The search was not accomplished in the presence of the lawful occupants of the place (herein private respondents) or any
member of the family, said occupants being handcuffed and immobilized in the living room at the time. The search was thus done
in violation of the law. 9

4. The articles seized were not brought to the court within 48 hours as required by the warrant itself; "(i)n fact the return was done
after 3 days or 77 hours from service, in violation of Section 11, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court." 10

5. Judge Casanova "correctly took cognizance of the motion to quash search warrant, pursuant to the doctrinal tenets laid down in
Nolasco vs. Paño (139 SCRA 152) which overhauled the previous ruling of the Supreme Court in Templo vs. de la Cruz (60
SCRA 295). It is now the prevailing rule that whenever a search warrant has been issued by one court or branch thereof and a
criminal case is initiated in another court or branch thereof as a result of the search of the warrant, that search warrant is deemed
consolidated with the criminal case for orderly procedure. The criminal case is more substantial than the search warrant
proceedings, and the presiding Judge in the criminal case has the right to rule on the search warrant and to exclude evidence
unlawfully obtained (Nolasco & Sans cases)."

6. Grave abuse of discretion cannot be imputed to the respondent Judge, in light of "Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution and
Rule 126 of the Rules of Court."

7. The proper remedy against the challenged Order is an appeal, not the special civil action of certiorari.

The Solicitor General now seeks reversal of the foregoing verdict, ascribing to the Court of Appeals the following errors, to wit:

1) sanctioning "the lower Court's precipitate act of disregarding the proceedings before the issuing Court and overturning the
latter's determination of probable cause and particularity of the place to be searched;"

2) sanctioning "the lower Court's conclusion that the sketch was not attached to the application for warrant despite the clear
evidence . . . to the contrary;"

3) ignoring "the very issues raised in the petition before it;"

4) "holding that the validity of an otherwise valid warrant could be diminished by the tardiness by which the return is made;"

5) hastily applying "the general rule that certiorari cannot be made a substitute for appeal although the circumstances attending
the case at bar clearly fall within the exceptions to that rule;" and

6) depriving petitioner of "the opportunity to present evidence to prove the validity of the warrant when the petition before it was
abruptly resolved without informing petitioner thereof."

The whole case actually hinges on the question of whether or not a search warrant was validly issued as regards the apartment in
which private respondents were then actually residing, or more explicitly, whether or not that particular apartment had been specifically
described in the warrant.

The Government insists that the police officers who applied to the Quezon City RTC for the search warrant had direct, personal
knowledge of the place to be searched and the things to be seized. It claims that one of said officers, in fact, had been able to
surreptitiously enter the place to be searched prior to the searched: this being the first of four (4) separate apartments behind the
Abigail Variety Store; and they were also the same police officers who eventually effected the search and seizure. They thus had

 
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personal knowledge of the place to be searched and had the competence to make a sketch thereof; they knew exactly what objects
should be taken therefrom; and they had presented evidence sufficient to establish probable cause. That may be so; but unfortunately,
the place they had in mind — the first of four (4) separate apartment units (No. 1) at the rear of "Abigail Variety Store" — was not what
the Judge who issued the warrant himself had in mind, and was not what was ultimately described in the search warrant.

The discrepancy appears to have resulted from the officers' own faulty depiction of the premises to be searched. For in their application
and in the affidavit thereto appended, they wrote down a description of the place to be searched, which is exactly what the Judge
reproduced in the search warrant: " premises located at Abigail Variety Store Apt 1207, Area-F, Bagong Buhay Avenue, Sapang Palay,
San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan." And the scope of the search was made more particular — and more restrictive — by the Judge's
admonition in the warrant that the search be "limited only to the premises herein described."

Now, at the time of the application for a search warrant, there were at least five (5) distinct places in the area involved: the store known
as "Abigail's Variety Store," and four (4) separate and independent residential apartment units. These are housed in a single structure
and are contiguous to each other although there are no connecting doors through which a person could pass from the interior of one to
any of the others. Each of the five (5) places is independent of the others, and may be entered only through its individual front door.
Admittedly, the police officers did not intend a search of all five (5) places, but of only one of the residential units at the rear of Abigail's
Variety Store: that immediately next to the store (Number 1). LibLex

However, despite having personal and direct knowledge of the physical configuration of the store and the apartments behind the store,
the police officers failed to make Judge Bacalla understand the need to pinpoint Apartment No. 1 in the warrant. Even after having
received the warrant — which directs that the search be "limited only to the premises herein described," "Abigail Variety Store Apt 1207"
— thus literally excluding the apartment units at the rear of the store — they did not ask the Judge to correct said description. They
seem to have simply assumed that their own definite idea of the place to be searched — clearly indicated, according to them, in the
sketch they claim to have submitted to Judge Bacalla in support of their application — was sufficient particularization of the general
identification of the place in the search warrant.

The Solicitor General argues that this assumption is sanctioned by Burgos, Sr. v. Chief of Staff , AFP, 11 allegedly to the effect that the
executing officer's prior knowledge as to the place intended in the warrant is relevant, and he may, in case of any ambiguity in the
warrant as to the place to be searched, look to the affidavit in the official court file.

Burgos is inapplicable. That case concerned two (2) search warrants which, upon perusal, immediately disclosed an obvious
typographical error. The application in said case was for seizure of subversive material allegedly concealed in two places: one at "No.
19, Road 3, Project 6, Quezon City," and the other, at "784 Units C & D, RMS Building, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City;" Two (2)
warrants issued — No. 20-82 [a] and No. 20-82 [b]). Objection was made to the execution of Warrant No. 20-82 (b) at "784 Units C & D,
RMS Building, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City" because both search warrants apparently indicated the same address (No. 19, Road 3,
Project 6, Quezon City) as the place where the supposedly subversive material was hidden. This was error, of course but, as this Court
there ruled, the error was obviously typographical, for it was absurd to suppose that the Judge had issued two warrants for the search
of only one place. Adverting to the fact that the application for the search warrants specified two (2) distinct addresses, and that in fact
the address, "784 Units C & D, RMS Building, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City" appeared in the opening paragraph of Warrant 20-82 (b),
this Court concluded that evidently, this was the address the judge intended to be searched when he issued the second warrant (No.
20-82 [b]); and to clear up the ambiguity caused by the "obviously typographical error," the officer executing the warrant could consult
the records in the official court file. 12

The case at bar, however, does not deal with the correction of an "obvious typographical error" involving ambiguous descriptions of the
place to be searched, as in Burgos, but the search of a place different from that clearly and without ambiguity identified in the search
warrant. In Burgos, the inconsistency calling for clarification was immediately perceptible on the face of the warrants in question. In the
instant case, there is no ambiguity at all in the warrant. The ambiguity lies outside the instrument, arising from the absence of a meeting
of minds as to the place to be searched between the applicants for the warrant and the Judge issuing the same; and what was done
was to substitute for the place that the Judge had written down in the warrant, the premises that the executing officers had in their mind.
This should not have been done. It is neither fair nor licit to allow police officers to search a place different from that stated in the
warrant on the claim that the place actually searched — although not that specified in the warrant — is exactly what they had in view
when they applied for the warrant and had demarcated in their supporting evidence. What is material in determining the validity of a
search is the place stated in the warrant itself, not what the applicants had in their thoughts, or had represented in the proofs they
submitted to the court issuing the warrant. Indeed, following the officers' theory, in the context of the facts of this case, all four (4)
apartment units at the rear of Abigail's Variety Store would have been fair game for a search.

The place to be searched, as set out in the warrant, cannot be amplified or modified by the officers' own personal knowledge of the
premises, or the evidence they adduced in support of their application for the warrant. Such a change is proscribed by the Constitution
which requires inter alia the search warrant to particularly describe the place to be searched as well as the persons or things to be
seized. It would concede to police officers the power of choosing the place to be searched, even if it not be that delineated in the
warrant. It would open wide the door to abuse of the search process, and grant to officers executing a search warrant that discretion
which the Constitution has precisely removed from them. The particularization of the description of the place to be searched may
properly be done only by the Judge, and only in the warrant itself; it cannot be left to the discretion of the police officers conducting the
search.

The Government faults Judge Casanova for having undertaken a review of Judge Bacalla's finding of probable cause, "as if he were an
appellate court." A perusal of the record however shows that all that Judge Casanova did was merely to point out inconsistencies
between Judge Bacalla's Order of December 15, 1995 and the warrant itself, as regards the identities of the police officers examined by
Judge Bacalla. 13 In Judge Casanova's view, said inconsistencies, being quite apparent in the record, put in doubt the sufficiency of the
determination of the facts on which the search warrant was founded.

 
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The Government alleges that the officers had satisfactorily established probable cause before Judge Bacalla for the issuance of a
search warrant. While this may be conceded, the trouble is, to repeat, that the place described in the search warrant — which, of
course, is the only place that may be legitimately searched in virtue thereof — was not that which the police officers who applied for the
warrant had in mind, with the result that what they actually subjected to search-and-seizure operations was a place other than that
stated in the warrant. In fine, while there was a search warrant more or less properly issued as regards Abigail's Variety Store, there
was none for Apartment No. 1 — the first of the four (4) apartment units at the rear of said store, and precisely the place in which the
private respondents were then residing.

It bears stressing that under Section 2, Article III of the Constitution, providing that: 14

"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 things to be seized."

it does not suffice, for a search warrant to be deemed valid, that it be based on probable cause, personally determined by the judge
after examination under oath, or affirmation of the complainant. and the witnesses he may produce; it is essential, too, that it
particularly describe the place to be searched, 15 the manifest intention being that the search be confined strictly to the place so
described.
There was therefore in this case an infringement of the constitutional requirement that a search warrant particularly describe the place
to be searched; and that infringement necessarily brought into operation the concomitant provision that "(a)ny evidence obtained in
violation . . . (inter alia of the search-and-seizure provision) shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding." 16

In light of what has just been discussed, it is needless to discuss such other points sought to be made by the Office of the Solicitor
General as whether or not (1) the sketch of the building housing the store and the residential apartment units — the place to be
searched being plainly marked — was in fact attached to the application for the search warrant; or (2) the search had been conducted
in the presence of the occupants of the place (herein petitioners), among others; or (3) the validity of the search warrant was diminished
by the tardiness by which the return was made, or (4) the Court of Appeals had improperly refused to receive "evidence which . . . (the
People) had earlier been denied opportunity to present before the trial court;" or (5) the remedy of the special civil action of certiorari in
the Court of Appeals had been erroneously availed of. The resolution of these issues would not affect the correctness of the conclusion
that the search and seizure proceedings are void because the place set forth in the search warrant is different from that which the
officers actually searched, or the speciousness of their argument that anyway, the premises searched were precisely what they had
described to the Judge, and originally and at all times had in mind.

Only one other matter merits treatment. The Solicitor General's Office opines that where a search warrant has been "issued by a court
other than the one trying the main criminal case," the "proper recourse" of persons wishing to quash the warrant is to assail it before the
issuing court and not before that in which the criminal case involving the subject of the warrant is afterwards filed. 17 In support, it cites
the second of five (5) "policy guidelines" laid down by this Court in Malaloan v. Court of Appeals 18 concerning "possible conflicts of
jurisdiction (or, more accurately, in the exercise of jurisdiction) where the criminal case is pending in one court and the search warrant is
issued by another court for the seizure of personal property intended to be used as evidence in said criminal case." Said second
guideline reads: 19

"2. When the latter court (referring to the court which does not try the main criminal case) issues the search warrant, a motion to
quash the same may be filed in and shall be resolved by said court, without prejudice to any proper recourse to the appropriate
higher court by the party aggrieved by the resolution of the issuing court. All grounds and objections then available, existent or
known shall be raised in the original or subsequent proceedings for the quashal of the warrant, otherwise they shall be deemed
waived."

The guidelines have been misconstrued. Where a search warrant is issued by one court and the criminal action based on the results of
the search is afterwards commenced in another court, it is not the rule that a motion to quash the warrant (or to retrieve things
thereunder seized) may be filed only with the issuing Court. Such a motion may be filed for the first time in either the issuing Court or
that in which the criminal action is pending. However, the remedy is alternative, not cumulative. The Court first taking cognizance of the
motion does so to the exclusion of the other, and the proceedings thereon are subject to the Omnibus Motion Rule and the rule against
forum-shopping. This is clearly stated in the third policy guideline which indeed is what properly applies to the case at bar, to wit:

"3. Where no motion to quash the search warrant was filed in or resolved by the issuing court, the interested party may move in
the court where the criminal case is pending for the suppression as evidence of the personal property seized under the warrant if
the same is offered therein for said purpose. Since two separate courts with different participations are involved in this situation, a
motion to quash a search warrant and a motion to suppress evidence are alternative and not cumulative remedies. In order to
prevent forum shopping, a motion to quash shall consequently be governed by the omnibus motion rule, provided, however, that
objections not available, existent or known during the proceedings for the quashal of the warrant may be raised in the hearing of
the motion to suppress. The resolution of the court on the motion to suppress shall likewise be subject to any proper remedy in
the appropriate higher court."

In this case, the search warrant was applied for in, and issued by, Branch 216 of the Regional Trial Court at Quezon City, and the return
was made to said court. On the other hand, the criminal action in connection with the explosives subject of the warrant was filed in
Branch 80 of the Regional Trial Court of Bulacan. In this situation, a motion to quash the search warrant, or for the return of the
personal property seized (not otherwise contraband) could have properly been presented in the QC RTC. No such motion was ever
filed. It was only after the criminal action had been commenced in the Bulacan RTC that the motion to quash and to suppress evidence

 
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was submitted to the latter. The case thus falls within guideline No. 3 above quoted in accordance with which the latter court must be
deemed to have acted within its competence.

WHEREFORE, the judgment of the Fourteenth Division of the Court of Appeals of September 11, 1996 — which dismissed the People's
petition for certiorari seeking nullification of the Orders of Branch 80 of the Regional Trial Court dated February 9, 1996 and May 28,
1996 in Criminal Case No. 43-M-96 — is, for the reasons set out in the foregoing opinion, hereby AFFIRMED without pronouncement
as to costs.

SO ORDERED. LLphil

Romero, Kapunan and Purisima, JJ ., concur.

||| (People v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 126379, [June 26, 1998], 353 PHIL 604-622) 

6. People vs. Tiu Won Chua, G.R. No. 149878, July 1, 2003 

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 149878. July 1, 2003.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. TIU WON CHUA a.k.a. "Timothy Tiu" and QUI YALING y
CHUA a.k.a. "Sun Tee Sy y Chua", accused-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Grajo T. Albano and Teresita Dizon Capulong for accused-appellants.

SYNOPSIS

Appellants were convicted for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended by RA No. 7659. On appeal, they assailed the
legality of the search warrant and the search and arrest conducted pursuant thereto, and the correctness of the judgment of conviction.

The Supreme Court held that even if the search warrant used by the police did not contain the correct name of appellants Tiu Won or
the name of Qui Yaling, that defect did not invalidate it because the place to be searched was described properly and the test buy
operation conducted before obtaining the search warrant showed that they have personal knowledge of the identity of the persons and
the place to be searched. The search conducted on the car parked away from the building, however, was illegal because it was not part
of the place described to be searched and it was not incidental to a lawful arrest.

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; SEARCH WARRANT; REQUISITES FOR VALIDITY. — There are only four requisites
for a valid warrant, i.e.: (1) it must be issued upon "probable cause"; (2) probable cause must be determined personally by the judge;
(3) such judge must examine under oath or affirmation the complainant and the witnesses he may produce; and (4) the warrant must
particularly describe the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; MISTAKE IN THE NAME OF THE ACCUSED DOES NOT INVALIDATE THE SEARCH WARRANT IF THE PLACE
TO BE SEARCHED WAS PROPERLY DESCRIBED; CASE AT BAR. — As correctly argued by the Solicitor General, a mistake in the
name of the person to be searched does not invalidate the warrant, especially since in this case, the authorities had personal
knowledge of the drug-related activities of the accused. In fact, a "John Doe" warrant satisfies the requirements so long as it contains a
descriptio personae such as will enable the officer to identify the accused. We have also held that a mistake in the identification of the
owner of the place does not invalidate the warrant provided the place to be searched is properly described. Thus, even if the search
warrant used by the police authorities did not contain the correct name of Tiu Won or the name of Qui Yaling, that defect did not
invalidate it because the place to be searched was described properly. IATSHE

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; SEARCH ON THE CAR THAT WAS NOT PART OF THE PLACE DESCRIBED IN THE WARRANT TO BE SEARCHED
WAS ILLEGAL; CASE AT BAR. — We affirm, however, the illegality of the search conducted on the car, on the ground that it was not
part of the description of the place to be searched mentioned in the warrant. It is mandatory that for the search to be valid, it must be
directed at the place particularly described in the warrant. Moreover, the search of the car was not incidental to a lawful arrest. To be
valid, such warrantless search must be limited to that point within the reach or control of the person arrested, or that which may furnish
him with the means of committing violence or of escaping. In this case, appellants were arrested inside the apartment, whereas the car
was parked a few meters away from the building.

 
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DECISION

PUNO, J p:

This is an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 27, convicting appellants Tiu Won Chua a.k.a.
Timothy Tiu (Tiu Won) and Qui Paling y Chua a.k.a. Sun Tee Sy y Chua (Qui Yaling) for violation of Section 16, Article III of Republic
Act No. 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659.

Appellants were charged with the crime of illegal possession of a regulated drug, i.e., methamphetamine hydrochloride, otherwise
known as "shabu," in an information which reads:

The undersigned accuses TIU WON CHUA aka "Timothy Tiu" and QUI YALING Y CHUA aka "Sun Tee Sy Y Chua" of violation of
Section 16, Article III in relation to Section 2(e-2), Article I ofRepublic Act No. 6425, as amended by Batas Pambansa Blg. 179
and as further amended by Republic Act No. 7659, committed as follows:

That on or about the 3rd day of October 1998, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused without being authorized by law
to possess or use any regulated drug, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully, knowingly and jointly have in their possession and
under their custody and control the following, to wit:

A sealed plastic bag containing two three four point five (234.5) grams of white crystalline substance;

Four (4) separate sealed plastic bags containing six point two two four three (6.2243) grams of white crystalline
substance;

Sixteen (16) separate sealed plastic bags containing twenty point three six seven three (20.3673) grams of white
crystalline substance; or a total of 261.0916 grams, and;

An improvised tooter with traces of crystalline substance

known as "SHABU" containing methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug, without the corresponding license or
prescription thereof.

Contrary to law. 1

During arraignment, a plea of not guilty was entered. Appellants, with the assistance of counsel, and the prosecution stipulated on the
following facts:

1. The authenticity of the following documents:

a. The letter of Police Senior Inspector Angelo Martin of WPD, District Intelligence Division, United
Nations Avenue, Ermita, Manila, dated October 12, 1998, to the Director of the NBI
requesting the latter to conduct a laboratory examination of the specimen mentioned
therein;

b. The Certification issued by Forensic Chemist Loreto Bravo of the NBI, dated October 13, 1998, to
the effect that the specimen mentioned and enumerated therein gave positive results for
methamphetamine hydrochloride, Exhibit "B"; and

c. Dangerous Drug Report No. 98-1200 issued by Forensic Chemist Bravo, dated October 13, 1998,
to the effect that the specimen mentioned therein gave positive results for
methamphetamine hydrochloride;

2. The existence of one plastic bag containing 234.5 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride, Exhibit "D"; four (4)
plastic sachets also containing methamphetamine hydrochloride with a total net weight of 6.2243 grams,
Exhibits "E", "E-1", "E-2" and "E-3"; additional 16 plastic sachets containing methamphetamine hydrochloride
with a total net weight of 20.3673 grams, Exhibits "F", "F-1" to "F-15", and one improvised tooter with a length
of 8 inches more or less and with a red plastic band, Exhibit "G";

3. Forensic Chemist Loreto Bravo has no personal knowledge as to the source of the regulated drug in question; and

4. Tiu Won Chua and Qui Yaling y Chua as stated in the information are the true and correct names of the two accused.
2

The witnesses presented by the prosecution were SPO1 Anthony de Leon, PO2 Artemio Santillan and PO3 Albert Amurao. Their
testimonies show that the police authorities, acting on an information that drug-related activities were going on at the HCL Building,
1025 Masangkay St., Binondo, Manila, surveyed the place on October 2, 3, 4 and 5, 1998. At about 10 p.m. of October 6, they
conducted a test-buy operation, together with a Chinese-speaking asset. They were able to buy P2,000.00 worth of substance from
appellants, which, upon examination by the PNP crime laboratory, proved positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride. 3 Nonetheless,
they did not immediately arrest the suspects but applied for a warrant to search Unit 4-B of HCL Building, 1025 Masangkay St.,
Binondo, Manila. Their application to search the unit supposedly owned by "Timothy Tiu" was granted by Judge Ramon Makasiar of
Branch 35 of the RTC of Manila on October 9. 4 Armed with the warrant, they proceeded to the place and learned that Tiu Won was not
inside the building. They waited outside but Tiu Won did not come. After several stakeouts, they were able to implement the warrant on
October 12. Failing to get the cooperation of the barangay officials, they requested the presence of the building coordinator, Noel
Olarte, and his wife, Joji, who acted as witnesses.

 
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During the enforcement of the warrant, there were three (3) persons inside the apartment, namely, appellants Tiu Won and Qui Yaling,
and a housemaid. The search was conducted on the sala and in the three (3) bedrooms of Unit 4-B. On top of a table inside the
master's bedroom, one (1) big pack, containing 234.5 grams of shabu, was found inside a black leather man's handbag supposedly
owned by Tiu Won, while sixteen (16) small packs of shabu weighing 20.3673 grams were found inside a lady's handbag allegedly
owned by Qui Yaling. Also contained in the inventory were the following items: an improvised tooter, a weighing scale, an improvised
burner and one rolled tissue paper. 5 The authorities also searched a Honda Civic car bearing Plate No. WCP 157, parked along
Masangkay Street, registered in the name of the wife of Tiu Won and found four (4) plastic bags containing 6.2243 grams of shabu,
which were likewise confiscated. A gun in the possession of Tiu Won was also seized and made subject of a separate criminal case.

The defense presented appellants Tiu Won and Qui Yaling. They denied that Timothy Tiu and Tiu Won Chua are one and the same
person. They presented papers and documents to prove that appellant is Tiu Won Chua and not Timothy Tiu, as stated in the search
warrant. Tiu Won also claimed that he does not live in the apartment subject of the search warrant, alleging that he is married to a
certain Emily Tan and is a resident of No. 864 Alvarado St., Binondo, Manila. Nonetheless, he admitted that his co-appellant, Qui
Yaling, is his mistress with whom he has two children. Qui Yaling admitted being the occupant of the apartment, but alleged that she
only occupied one room, while two other persons, a certain Lim and a certain Uy, occupied the other rooms. Both appellants denied that
they were engaged in the sale or possession of shabu. They asserted that they are in the jewelry business and that at the time the
search and arrest were made, the third person, whom the prosecution identified as a housemaid, was actually a certain Chin, who was
there to look at some of the pieces of jewelry sold by Tiu Won. They also denied that a gun was found in the possession of Tiu Won.

Qui Yaling recalled that upon asking who was it knocking at the door of her apartment on October 12, the police authorities represented
that they were electric bill collectors. She let them in. She was surprised when upon opening the door, around ten (10) policemen
barged inside her unit. She, together with Tiu Won and Chin, was asked to remain seated in the sofa while the men searched each
room. Tiu Won alleged that after a fruitless search, some of the policemen went out, but came back a few minutes later with another
person. Afterwards, he was made to sign a piece of paper. Appellants also claimed that the policemen took their bags which contained
money, the pieces of jewelry they were selling and even Qui Yaling's cell phone. They both denied that shabu was discovered in the
apartment during the search. Appellants were arrested and brought to the police station.

In a decision, dated August 15, 2001, the RTC found proof beyond reasonable doubt of the guilt of the appellants and sentenced them
to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and a fine of P500,000.00 each. 6

Thus, appellants interpose this appeal raising the following assignment of errors: EaICAD

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE LEGAL DEFECTS OF THE SEARCH WARRANT USED BY THE POLICE
OPERATIVES AGAINST BOTH ACCUSED.

II

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION EVIDENCES (sic) WHICH SHOULD HAVE BEEN EXCLUDED
AND DISREGARDED WHICH RESULTED IN THE ERRONEOUS CONVICTION OF BOTH ACCUSED.

III

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING BOTH ACCUSED DESPITE THE ABSENCE OF PROOF BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT.

IV

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE FACT THAT THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF BOTH ACCUSED
WERE SERIOUSLY VIOLATED BY THE POLICE OPERATIVES. 7

These issues can be trimmed down to two i.e., the legality of the search warrant and the search and arrest conducted pursuant thereto,
and the correctness of the judgment of conviction imposed by the RTC.

As regards the propriety of the search warrant issued in the name of Timothy Tiu, which did not include appellant Qui Yaling, appellants
contend that because of this defect, the search conducted and consequently, the arrest, are illegal. Being fruits of an illegal search, the
evidence presented cannot serve as basis for their conviction.

We beg to disagree. There are only four requisites for a valid warrant, i.e,: (1) it must be issued upon "probable cause"; (2) probable
cause must be determined personally by the judge; (3) such judge must examine under oath or affirmation the complainant and the
witnesses he may produce; and (4) the warrant must particularly describe the place to be searched and the persons or things to be
seized. 8 As correctly argued by the Solicitor General, a mistake in the name of the person to be searched does not invalidate the
warrant, 9 especially since in this case, the authorities had personal knowledge of the drug-related activities of the accused. In fact, a
"John Doe" warrant satisfies the requirements so long as it contains a descriptio personae such as will enable the officer to identify the
accused. 10 We have also held that a mistake in the identification of the owner of the place does not invalidate the warrant provided the
place to be searched is properly described. 11

Thus, even if the search warrant used by the police authorities did not contain the correct name of Tiu Won or the name of Qui Yaling,
that defect did not invalidate it because the place to be searched was described properly. Besides, the authorities conducted
surveillance and a test-buy operation before obtaining the search warrant and subsequently implementing it. They can therefore be
presumed to have personal knowledge of the identity of the persons and the place to be searched although they may not have
specifically known the names of the accused. Armed with the warrant, a valid search of Unit 4-B was conducted.

 
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We affirm, however, the illegality of the search conducted on the car, on the ground that it was not part of the description of the place to
be searched mentioned in the warrant. It is mandatory that for the search to be valid, it must be directed at the place particularly
described in the warrant. 12 Moreover, the search of the car was not incidental to a lawful arrest. To be valid, such warrantless search
must be limited to that point within the reach or control of the person arrested, or that which may furnish him with the means of
committing violence or of escaping. 13 In this case, appellants were arrested inside the apartment, whereas the car was parked a few
meters away from the building.

In a prosecution for illegal possession of a dangerous drug, it must be shown that (1) appellants were in possession of an item or an
object identified to be a prohibited or regulated drug, (2) such possession is not authorized by law, and (3) the appellants were freely
and consciously aware of being in possession of the drug. 14 We also note that the crime under consideration is malum prohibitum,
hence, lack of criminal intent or good faith does not exempt appellants from criminal liability. Mere possession of a regulated drug
without legal authority is punishable under the Dangerous Drugs Act. 15

In the case at bar, the prosecution has sufficiently proved that the packs of shabu were found inside Unit 4-B, HCL Building, 1025
Masangkay St., Binondo, Manila. Surveillance was previously conducted. Though no arrest was made after the successful test-buy
operation, this does not destroy the fact that in a subsequent search, appellants were found in possession of shabu. The testimonies of
the prosecution witnesses are consistent in that after the test-buy operation, they obtained a search warrant from Judge Makasiar,
pursuant to which, they were able to confiscate, among others, several packs of shabu from a man's handbag and a ladies' handbag
inside a room in the unit subject of the warrant. Furthermore, the seizure of the regulated drug from Unit 4-B is proven by the "Receipt
for Property Seized" 16 signed by SPO1 de Leon, the seizing officer, Noel, the building administrator, and Joji Olarte, his wife, who were
also present. De Leon attested to the truth and genuineness of the receipt which was not contradicted by the defense.

Be that as it may, we cannot sustain the trial court's decision attributing to both appellants the illegal possession of the same amount of
shabu. We note that nowhere in the information is conspiracy alleged. Neither had it been proven during the trial. As such, we need to
look at the individual amounts possessed by each appellant.

In his testimony, Tiu Won admitted ownership of the man's handbag where 234.5 grams of shabu were found, viz:

Q: During those ten to 20 minutes, what were those policemen doing inside that unit?

A: They went inside the rooms and started ransacking the drawers and everything. As a matter of fact, even handbags
were searched by them.

Q: Whose handbags were searched?

A: My bag, the one I was carrying that day, with jewelry and checks and others were taken by them. 17 (italics supplied)

Qui Yaling, in her appellant's brief, denied owning the handbag where 20.3673 grams of shabu were discovered. However, during her
testimony, she admitted its ownership, viz:

Q: Now, the police testified before this court that you has (sic) a bag and when they searched this bag, it yielded some
sachets of shabu(.) (W)hat can you say about that?

A: That is an absolute lie, sir. What they saw in my bag were my cosmetics. 18 (italics supplied)

An admission is an act or declaration of a party as to the existence of a relevant fact which may be used in evidence against him. 19
These admissions, provided they are voluntary, can be used against appellants because it is fair to presume that they correspond with
the truth, and it is their fault if they do not. 20

Qui Yaling likewise argues that the lower court erred in attributing ownership of the handbag to her considering that there was another
girl present at the apartment during the search. She contends that since the prosecution was not able to establish the ownership of the
bag, then such could have also been owned by Chin.

We do not subscribe to this argument. The defense failed to bring Chin to court, although during the course of the presentation of their
evidence, they manifested their intention to present her testimony. Furthermore, a visitor does not normally leave her bag lying
anywhere, much more in the master's bedroom. Being the occupant of the apartment, it is more logical to presume that the handbag
belongs to Qui Yaling. The failure of the prosecution to present the bags and proofs that the bags belong to the appellants is immaterial
because the bags, the license of Tiu Won found inside the man's handbag and the passport of Qui Yaling found inside the ladies'
handbag are not illegal. Having no relation to the use or possession ofshabu, the authorities could not confiscate them for they did not
have the authority to do so since the warrant authorized them to seize only articles in relation to the illegal possession ofshabu. 21 Not
within their control, they could not have been presented in court.

We now come to the penalties of the appellants. R.A. No. 6425, as amended by R.A. No. 7659, applies. Thus, since 234.5 grams of
shabu were found inside the man's handbag, deemed to be owned by Tiu Won, he is guilty of violating Section 16, Article III of R.A. No.
6425, while Qui Yaling, whose handbag contained only 20.3673 grams of shabu is guilty of violating Section 20 thereof. Section 16, in
connection with Section 20 (1st paragraph), provides the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five hundred
thousand pesos to ten million pesos where the amount of shabu involved is 200 grams or more. Where the amount is less than 200
grams, Section 20 punishes the offender with the penalty ranging from prision correctional to reclusion perpetua.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision of RTC Br. 27, Manila as to the penalty of appellant Tiu Won is affirmed, while that of appellant Qui
Yaling is modified. Tiu Won Chua is sentenced to a penalty of reclusion perpetua, and a fine of five hundred thousand pesos
(P500,000.00) in accordance with Section 16 and Section 20 (1st paragraph) of R.A. No. 6425, as amended by R.A. No. 7659. Qui
Yaling y Chua is sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of prision correccional as minimum to prision mayor as maximum, there being
no mitigating or aggravating circumstances.

 
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SO ORDERED.

Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona and Carpio Morales, JJ., concur.

||| (People v. Tiu Won Chua, G.R. No. 149878, [July 1, 2003], 453 PHIL 177-189) 

7. People vs. Priscella del Norte, G.R. No. 149462 

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 149462. March 31, 2004.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. PRISCILLA DEL NORTE, appellant.

DECISION

PUNO, J p:

Before us is an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City, Branch 28, finding appellant Priscilla del Norte
guilty of the crime of illegal possession of drugs, viz:

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, this Court finds the accused Pricilla (sic) Del Norte (g)uilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime for (sic) Violation of Sec. 8, Art. II, R.A. 6425, and hereby sentences her to suffer imprisonment of Reclusion (P)erpetua
and a fine of P1,000,000.00, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.

The marijuana subject matter of this case is confiscated and forfeited in favor of the Government. The Branch Clerk of Court is
directed to turn-over the subject marijuana to the Dangerous Drugs Board for proper disposal/destruction.

The City Jail Warden of Caloocan City is hereby ordered to transfer the accused Priscilla del Norte to the Correccion (sic)
Institution for Women, Mandaluyong City for the service of her sentence.

SO ORDERED. 1

A search warrant was served on a certain Ising Gutierrez Diwa, on August 1, 1997, by SPO1 Angel Lumabas, SPO3 Celso de Leon,
Maj. Dionisio Borromeo, Capt. Jose, SPO3 Malapitan, PO2 Buddy Perez and PO2 Eugene Perida.

As a result of the search, an information against appellant Priscilla del Norte was filed with the trial court, viz:

INFORMATION

The undersigned Assistant City Prosecutor accuses PRISCILLA DEL NORTE Y DIWA AND JANE DOE, true name, real identity
and present whereabouts of the last accused still unknown(,) of the crime of VIOLATION OF SEC. 8, ART. II, R.A. (No.) 6425,
committed as follows:

That on or about the 1st day of August 1997(,) in Caloocan City, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused, conspiring together and mutually helping with (sic) one another, without authority of law, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in their possession, custody and control(,) MARIJUANA weighing 6748.37 gms.
knowing the same to be a prohibited drug under the provisions of the above-entitled law.

CONTRARY TO LAW. 2

SPO1 Lumabas testified that on August 1, 1997, their group was tasked to serve a search warrant 3 against a certain Ising Gutierrez
Diwa residing at No. 275 North Service Road corner Cruzada St., Bagong Barrio, Caloocan City, for alleged violation of Republic Act
No. 6425. They were ordered to "forthwith seize and take possession of an undetermined quantity of shabu and marijuana leaves."
They coordinated with the barangay officials and proceeded to the house pointed out to them by the local officials. Upon reaching the
house, its door was opened by a woman. SPO3 De Leon introduced themselves as policemen to the woman who opened the door,
whom they later identified in court as the appellant. 4 They informed her they had a search warrant, but appellant suddenly closed and
locked the door. It was only after some prodding by the barangay officials that she reopened the door. The authorities then conducted
the search. They found a bundle of marijuana wrapped in Manila paper under the bed and inside the room. 5 They asked appellant who
owned the marijuana. She cried and said she had no means of livelihood. 6 Appellant was brought to the police headquarters for further
investigation. Both SPO1 Lumabas and SPO3 De Leon identified the confiscated five (5) bundles of marijuana 7 in court.

Mrs. Grace Eustaquio, a forensic chemist testified that pursuant to a letter request 8 from the Chief of the Caloocan City Police, she
conducted an examination on a specimen consisting of five bundles of suspected marijuana. She found that each of the bundles was
positive for marijuana. This finding was reduced to a Laboratory Report. 9 The report also contained a finding on the supposed weight of
each bundle in grams, i.e., (A) 973.45, (B) 1,840.31, (C) 472.99, (D) 1,678.8, and (E) 1,782.82. 10

SPO2 Florencio Ramirez, a police officer in the Intelligence Branch of the Caloocan Police Station, testified that on August 1, 1997, the
appellant was brought before him by SPO3 De Leon and SPO1 Lumabas. They also submitted two weighing scales, five bricks of
 
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marijuana leaves, and two bunches of marijuana leaves wrapped in an old newspaper. 11 He apprised appellant of her constitutional
rights before investigating her. After the laboratory test showed that the evidence yielded was marijuana, he sent a referral slip 12 to
Prosecutor Zaldy Quimpo for inquest. cEaDTA

Appellant assailed the validity of the search warrant against her. She contended that she lived at 376 Dama de Noche, Barangay
Baesa, Caloocan City, 13 and that on August 1, 1997, she was merely visiting a friend, Marlyn, who lived at 275 North Service Road
corner Cruzada St., Bagong Barrio, Caloocan City. She went to Marlyn's house to borrow money. Marlyn was out and she waited. While
appellant was seated near the door, several people introduced themselves as policemen, made her sign a white paper and entered the
house. She heard them say "we already got Ising," and was surprised why they suddenly arrested her. She saw Ising, her sister, at a
house two steps away from the house where she was arrested. Despite her claim that she was not Ising, the policemen brought her to
the police station. 14

Appellant's daughter, Christine also took the witness stand. She testified that she is one of the eight children of the appellant. Since
June 1997, she recalled that they had lived at 376 Dama de Noche St., Caloocan City, as proved by the address stated in her school
identification card, 15 and a receipt evidencing payment for the rental of their house at Dama de Noche St. from July 18 to August 18,
1997. 16

The trial court convicted appellant. In this appeal, she raises the lone error that "the lower court erred in convicting the
accused-appellant of the crime charged, when her guilt has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt." 17

Appellant contends that the prosecution failed to establish who owned the house where the search was conducted, and avers that her
mere presence therein did not automatically make her the owner of the marijuana found therein. She likewise argues that the search
warrant specified the name of Ising Gutierrez as the owner of the house to be searched, and that since she is not Ising Gutierrez, the
lower court erred in admitting the confiscated drugs as evidence against her. 18

The Solicitor General contends that "the totality of the evidence demonstrates appellant's guilt beyond reasonable doubt." 19 He cites
the case of United States vs. Gan Lian Po, 20 that when illegal drugs are found in the premises occupied by a certain person, such
person is presumed to be in possession of the prohibited articles. It then becomes the accused's burden to prove the absence of
animus possidendi. 21

We reverse the trial court's decision. The prosecution failed to establish the guilt of appellant beyond reasonable doubt.

In a prosecution for illegal possession of dangerous drugs, the following facts must be proven with moral certainty: (1) that the accused
is in possession of the object identified as a prohibited or regulated drug; (2) that such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) that
the accused freely and consciously possessed the said drug. 22

We first rule on the validity of the search warrant. Article III, Section 2 of the 1987 Philippine 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.
(emphases supplied)

Appellant argues that the marijuana seized as a result of the search is inadmissible due to the irregularity of the search warrant which
contained the name Ising Gutierrez Diwa and not Priscilla del Norte. She alleges that Ising is her sister. During her arrest, she claimed
she saw Ising nearby and pointed her to the authorities, but her efforts were futile — the authorities arrested her.

The Constitution requires search warrants to particularly describe not only the place to be searched, but also the persons to be
arrested. We have ruled in rare instances that mistakes in the name of the person subject of the search warrant do not invalidate the
warrant, provided the place to be searched is properly described. In People v. Tiu Won Chua, 23 we upheld the validity of the search
warrant despite the mistake in the name of the persons to be searched. In the cited case, the authorities conducted surveillance and a
test-buy operation before obtaining the search warrant and subsequently implementing it. They had personal knowledge of the identity
of the persons and the place to be searched although they did not specifically know the names of the accused.

The case at bar is different. We cannot countenance the irregularity of the search warrant. The authorities did not have personal
knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the search. They did not conduct surveillance before obtaining the warrant. It was only
when they implemented the warrant that they coordinated with the barangay officials. One of the barangay officials informed SPO3 De
Leon that Ising Gutierrez Diwa and Priscilla Del Norte are one and the same person, but said barangay official was not presented in
court. The authorities based their knowledge on pure hearsay.

On the merits, we believe the prosecution failed to discharge its burden of proving appellant's guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The
prosecution's witnesses failed to establish appellant's ownership of the house where the prohibited drugs were discovered. Except for
their bare testimonies, no other proof was presented.

This is in contrast to appellant's proof of her residence. The prosecution did not contest the punong barangay's certification, 24
Christina's school ID 25 and the rental receipt, 26 all of which show that appellant and her family live at 376 Dama de Noche St. There
being no substantial contrary evidence offered, we conclude that appellant does not own the house subject of the search.

The prosecution likewise failed to prove that appellant was in actual possession of the prohibited articles at the time of her arrest. This
is shown by the testimony of the prosecution's witness:

 
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Fiscal Lomadilla to Witness —

Q: What did you find in that house at No. 275?

A: We found marijuana.

Q: What is the quantity of the marijuana you found?

A: Five bunch (sic) or bricks of marijuana and two weighing scale(s), sir

Q: Mr. Lumabas, you mentioned a search warrant issued by Judge Rivera. What was the result of the execution of that
search warrant?

A: We were able to find marijuana inside the house of Priscilla del Norte.

Q: What is the quantity?

A: More or less six kilos.

Q: Was it arranged? How was it placed?

A: It was wrapped inside the plastic tape and it looks (sic) like in bricks form. 27

xxx xxx xxx


Q: What part of the house did you discover these five bricks of marijuana?

A: Inside the room, sir, under the bed.

Q: You said you found the accused Priscilla del Norte, where was she when you found her?

A: Inside the sala, sir. 28

In fact, it seems that the authorities had difficulty looking for the drugs which were not in plain view, viz:

Atty. Yap to witness —

Q: You made mention about the bricks found?

A: Yes, Sir.

Q: And you said further that it was inside the room?

A: Yes, Sir.

Q: Now, when you entered the room, was it locked?

A: No, Sir.

Q: As a matter of fact, there was no padlock of that room, is it correct?

A: I did not notice, sir, but it was open.

Q: And this alleged marijuana was protruding under the bed?

A: No, sir but it was under the bed, "dulong-dulo."

Q: Was it also the same plastic bag?

A: No, Sir.

Q: Was it also already wrapped in newspaper?

A: No, sir, only plastic tape. We were not able to notice that it was marijuana because it is (sic) wrapped in a plastic
tape.

Q: How long did you search?

A: Half an hour, sir. 29

The prosecution's weak evidence likewise shows from the following testimony:

Atty. Yap to witness —

Q: Were you able to search the personal effects?

A: "Yung iba."

Q: Did you find any I.D. (of the persons) who occupy this room?

A: No, sir.

Q: In other words, your assumption is because Priscilla del Norte was around so (sic) it follows that she was the
possessor of that illegal drugs?

A: Yes, sir because it is their house.

Q: Was there a picture or photograph taken inside the room of that particular person?

A: None, sir.

 
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Q: So a family lived thereat?

A: None, sir.

Q: Was there a separate picture of Ising Gutierrez?

A: I did not see any.

Q: There was no incriminating evidence except this (sic) drugs taken by Police Officer de Leon and the barangay tanod,
no other incriminating evidence?

A: None, sir. (emphases supplied)

In all criminal cases, it is appellant's constitutional right to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved beyond reasonable doubt.
30 In the case at bar, we hold that the prosecution's evidence treads on shaky ground. We detest drug addiction in our society. However,

we have the duty to protect appellant where the evidence presented show "insufficient factual nexus" of her participation in the
commission of the offense charged. 31 In People vs. Laxa, 32 we held:

The government's drive against illegal drugs deserves everybody's support. But it cannot be pursued by ignoble means which are
violative of constitutional rights. It is precisely when the government's purposes are beneficent that we should be most on our
guard to protect these rights. As Justice Brandeis warned long ago, "the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious
encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning without understanding."

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision of Branch 28 of the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City is reversed. Appellant is acquitted based
on reasonable doubt. SCHcaT

SO ORDERED.

Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr. and Tinga, JJ., concur.

||| (People v. Del Norte, G.R. No. 149462, [March 31, 2004]) 

8. Umil vs. Ramos, 187 SCRA 311 

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 81567. July 9, 1990.]

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS OF ROBERTO UMIL, ROLANDO DURAL and RENATO
VILLANUEVA. MANOLITA O. UMIL, and NICANOR P. DURAL, FELICITAS V. SESE, petitioners, vs. FIDEL V. RAMOS,
MAJ. GEN. RENATO DE VILLA, BRIG. GEN. RAMON MONTANO, BRIG. GEN. ALEXANDER AGUIRRE, respondents.

[G.R. Nos. 84581-82. July 9, 1990.]

AMELIA ROQUE and WILFREDO BUENAOBRA, petitioners, vs. GEN. RENATO DE VILLA and GEN. RAMON
MONTANO, respondents.

[G.R. Nos. 84583-84. July 9, 1990.]

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS OF ATTY. DOMINGO T. ANONUEVO and RAMON
CASIPLE. DOMINGO T. ANONUEVO and RAMON CASIPLE,petitioners, vs. HON. FIDEL V. RAMOS, GEN. RENATO
S. DE VILLA, COL. EVARISTO CARINO, LT. COL. REX D. PIAD, T/ SGT. CONRADO DE TORRES, S/SGT. ARNOLD
DURIAN, and Commanding Officer, PC-INP Detention Center, Camp Crame, Quezon City, respondents.

[G.R. No. 83162. July 9, 1990.]

IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION FOR HABEAS CORPUS OF VICKY A. OCAYA AND DANNY RIVERA.
VIRGILIO A. OCAYA, petitioner, vs. BRIG. GEN. ALEXANDER AGUIRRE, COL., HERCULES CATALUNA, COL.
NESTOR MARIANO, respondents.

[G.R. No. 85727. July 9, 1990.]

IN THE MATTER OF APPLICATION FOR HABEAS CORPUS OF: DEOGRACIAS ESPIRITU, petitioner, vs. BRIG.
GEN. ALFREDO S. LIM, COL. RICARDO REYES, respondents.

 
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[G.R. No. 86332. July 9, 1990.]

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS OF NARCISO B. NAZARENO, ALFREDO NAZARENO,
petitioner, vs. THE STATION COMMANDER OF THE MUNTINGLUPA POLICE STATION, Muntinglupa, Metro Manila,
P/SGT. JACINTO MEDINA, P/SGT. ELADIO TAGLE, P/SGT. LEVI SOLEDAD, and P/SGT. MAURO
AROJADO,respondents.

Efren H. Mercado for petitioners in G.R. No. 81567.

Ricardo C. Valmonte for petitioners in G.R. Nos. 84581-82.

Ramon S. Esguerra Barbara Anne C. Migallos and Agripino G. Morga for petitioners in G.R. Nos. 84583-84.

Efren H. Mercado for petitioner in G.R. No. 83162.

Banzuela, Flores, Miralles, Raneses, Sy, Taquio & Associates for petitioner in G.R. No. 85727.

Josefina G. Campbell-Castillo for petitioners in G.R. No. 86332.

The Solicitor General for the respondents.

DECISION

PER CURIAM p:

These are eight (8) petitions for habeas corpus filed before the Court, which have been consolidated because of the similarity of issues
raised, praying for the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus, ordering the respective respondents to produce the bodies of the persons
named therein and to explain why they should not be set at liberty without further delay.

In their respective Returns, the respondents uniformly assert that the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is not available to the
petitioners as they have been legally arrested and are detained by virtue of valid informations filed in court against them. LexLib

The petitioners counter that their detention is unlawful as their arrests were made without warrant and, that no preliminary investigation
was first conducted, so that the informations filed against them are null and void.

The Court has carefully reviewed the contentions of the parties in their respective pleadings, and it finds that the persons detained have
not been illegally arrested nor arbitrarily deprived of their constitutional right to liberty, and that the circumstances attending these cases
do not warrant their release on habeas corpus.

The arrest of a person without a warrant of arrest or previous complaint is recognized in law. The occasions or instances when such an
arrest may be effected are clearly spelled out inSection 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court, as amended, which provides:

"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 en 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."

An arrest without a warrant of arrest, under Section 5 paragraphs (a) and (b) of Rule 113 of the Rules of Court, as amended, is justified
when the person arrested is caught in flagranti delicto, viz., in the act of committing an offense; or when an offense has just been
committed and the person making the arrest has personal knowledge of the facts indicating that the person arrested has committed it.
The rationale behind lawful arrests, without warrant, was stated by this Court in the case of People vs. Kagui Malasugui 1 thus:

"To hold that no criminal can, in any case, be arrested and searched for the evidence and tokens of his crime without a warrant,
would be to leave society, to a large extent, at the mercy of the shrewdest, the most expert, and the most depraved of criminals,
facilitating their escape in many instances."

The record of the instant cases would show that the persons in whose behalf these petitions for habeas corpus have been filed, had
freshly committed or were actually committing an offense, when apprehended, so that their arrests without a warrant were clearly
justified, and that they are, further, detained by virtue of valid informations filed against them in court.

A brief narration of the facts and events surrounding each of the eight (8) petitions is in order.

 
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In G.R. No. 81567 (Umil vs. Ramos), the record shows that, on 1 February 1988, the Regional Intelligence Operations Unit of the
Capital Command (RIOU-CAPCOM) received confidential information about a member of the NPA Sparrow Unit (liquidation squad)
being treated for a gunshot wound at the St. Agnes Hospital in Roosevelt Avenue, Quezon City. Upon verification, it was found that the
wounded person, who was listed in the hospital records as Ronnie Javelon, is actually Rolando Dural, a member of the NPA liquidation
squad, responsible for the killing of two (2) CAPCOM soldiers the day before, or on 31 January 1988, in Macanining Street, Bagong
Barrio, Caloocan City. In view of this verification, Rolando Dural was transferred to the Regional Medical Services of the CAPCOM, for
security reasons. While confined thereat, or on 4 February 1988, Rolando Dural was positively identified by eyewitnesses as the
gunman who went on top of the hood of the CAPCOM mobile patrol car, and fired at the two (2) CAPCOM soldiers seated inside the car
identified as T/Sgt. Carlos Pabon and CIC Renato Manligot.

As a consequence of this positive identification, Rolando Dural was referred to the Caloocan City Fiscal who conducted an inquest and
thereafter filed with the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City an information charging Rolando Dural alias Ronnie Javelon with the
crime of "Double Murder with Assault Upon Agents of Persons in Authority." The case was docketed therein as Criminal Case No.
C-30112 and no bail was recommended. On 15 February 1988, the information was amended to include, as defendant, Bernardo Itucal,
Jr. who, at the filing of the original information, was still unidentified. cdphil

Meanwhile, on 6 February 1988, a petition for habeas corpus was filed with this Court on behalf of Roberto Umil, Rolando Dural, and
Renato Villanueva. The Court issued the writ of habeas corpus on 9 February 1988 and the respondents filed a Return of the Writ on 12
February 1988. Thereafter, the parties were heard on 15 February 1988.

On 26 February 1988, however, Roberto Umil and Renato Villanueva posted bail before the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City where
charges for violation of the Anti-Subversion Act had been filed against them, and they were accordingly released. The petition for
habeas corpus, insofar as Umil and Villanueva are concerned, is now moot and academic and is accordingly dismissed, since the writ
of habeas corpus does not lie in favor of an accused in a criminal case who has been released on bail. 2

As to Rolando Dural,it clearly appears that he was not arrested while in the act of shooting the two (2) CAPCOM soldiers
aforementioned. Nor was he arrested just after the commission of the said offense for his arrest came a day after the said shooting
incident. Seemingly, his arrest without warrant is unjustified.

However, Rolando Dural was arrested for being a member of the New Peoples Army (NPA), an outlawed subversive organization.
Subversion being a continuing offense, the arrest of Rolando Dural without warrant is justified as it can be said that he was committing
an offense when arrested. The crimes of rebellion, subversion, conspiracy or proposal to commit such crimes, and crimes or offenses
committed in furtherance thereof or in connection therewith constitute direct assaults against the State and are in the nature of
continuing crimes. As stated by the Court in an earlier case:

"From the facts as above-narrated, the claim of the petitioners that they were initially arrested illegally is, therefore, without basis
in law and in fact. The crimes of insurrection or rebellion, subversion, conspiracy or proposal to commit such crimes, and other
crimes and offenses committed in the furtherance, on the occasion thereof, or incident thereto, or in connection therewith under
Presidential Proclamation No. 2045, are all in the nature of continuing offenses which set them apart from the common offenses,
aside from their essentially involving a massive conspiracy of nationwide magnitude. Clearly then, the arrest of the herein
detainees was well within the bounds of the law and existing jurisprudence in our jurisdiction.

2. The arrest of persons involved in the rebellion whether as its fighting armed elements, or for committing non-violent acts but in
furtherance of the rebellion, is more an act of capturing them in the course of an armed conflict, to quell the rebellion, than for the
purpose of immediately prosecuting them in court for a statutory offense. The arrest, therefore, need not follow the usual
procedure in the prosecution of offenses which requires the determination by a judge of the existence of probable cause before
the issuance of a judicial warrant of arrest and the granting of bail if the offense is bailable. Obviously, the absence of a judicial
warrant is no legal impediment to arresting or capturing persons committing overt acts of violence against government forces, or
any other milder acts but equally in pursuance of the rebellious movement. The arrest or capture is thus impelled by the
exigencies of the situation that involves the very survival of society and its government and duly constituted authorities. If killing
and other acts of violence against the rebels find justification in the exigencies of armed hostilities which is of the essence of
waging a rebellion or insurrection, most assuredly so in case of invasion, merely seizing their persons and detaining them while
any of these contingencies continue cannot be less justified. . . ." 3

The record, moreover, shows that the criminal case filed against Rolando Dural and Bernardo Itucal, Jr. for "Double Murder, etc." was
tried in the court below and at the conclusion thereof, or on 17 August 1988, Rolando Dural and Bernardo Itucal, Jr. were found guilty of
the charge and sentenced accordingly. Rolando Dural is now serving the sentence imposed upon him by the trial court. Thus, the writ of
habeas corpus is no longer available to him. For, as held in the early case of U.S. vs. Wilson: 4

"In this case, whatever may be said about the manner of his arrest, the fact remains that the defendant was actually in court in the
custody of the law on March 29, when a complaint sufficient in form and substance was read to him. To this he pleaded not guilty.
The trial followed, in which, and in the judgment of guilty pronounced by the court, we find no error. Whether, if there were
irregularities in bringing him personally before the court, he could have been released on a writ of habeas corpus or now has a
civil action for damages against the person who arrested him we need not inquire. It is enough to say that such irregularities are
not sufficient to set aside a valid judgment rendered upon a sufficient complaint and after a trial free from error."

II
In G.R. Nos. 84581-82 (Roque vs. De Villa), the arrest of Amelia Roque and Wilfredo Buenaobra, without warrant, is also justified.
When apprehended at the house of Renato Constantino in Marikina Heights, Marikina, Metro Manila, Wilfredo Buenaobra admitted that
he was an NPA courier and he had with him letters to Renato Constantino and other members of the rebel group. Amelia Roque, upon
the other hand, was a member of the National United Front Commission, in charge of finance, and admitted ownership of subversive

 
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documents found in the house of her sister in Caloocan City. She was also in possession of ammunition and a fragmentation grenade
for which she had no permit or authority to possess. LLpr

The record of these two (2) cases shows that on 27 June 1988, one Rogelio Ramos y Ibanes, a member of the NPA, who had
surrendered to the military authorities, told military agents about the operations of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and
the New Peoples Army (NPA) in Metro Manila. He identified some of his former comrades as "Ka Mong", a staff member of the
Communications and Transportation Bureau; "Ka Nelia" a staff member in charge of finance; "Ka Miller", an NPA courier from Sorsogon
and Lopez, Quezon; "Ka Ted", and "Ka Totoy". He also pointed to a certain house occupied by Renato Constantino located in the
Villaluz Compound, Molave St., Marikina Heights, Marikina, Metro Manila, which is used as a safehouse of the National United Front
Commission (NUFC) of the CPP-NPA.

In view of these revelations, the Constantino house was placed under military surveillance and on 12 August 1988, pursuant to a
search warrant issued by Judge Eutropio Migrino of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, a search of the house was conducted at about
5:00 o'clock in the afternoon, by a combined team of the Criminal Investigation Service, National Capital District (CIS-NCD) and the
Constabulary Security Group (CSG). In the course of the search, the following articles were found and taken under proper receipt:

a) One (1 ) Colt M1 6A1 long rifle with defaced serial number;

b) One (1) Cal. .380 ACT/9mm Model PPK 8 SN: 260577 & 2605778;

c) Two (2) fragmentation hand grenades;

d) Fifty-six (56) live ammunition for Cal. 5.56mm;

e) Five (5) live ammunition for Cal. .380;

f) One (1) ICOM VHF FM Radio Transceiver SN: 14903

g) One (1) Regulated power supply 220V AC;

h) One (1) Antennae (adjustable);

i) One (1 ) Speaker with cord ALEXAR;

j) Voluminous Subversive documents.

When confronted, Renato Constantino could not produce any permit or authority to possess the firearms, ammunition, radio and other
communications equipment. Hence, he was brought to the CIS Headquarters for investigation. When questioned, he refused to give a
written statement, although he admitted that he was a staff member of the executive committee of the NUFC and a ranking member of
the International Department of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

At about 8:00 o'clock in the evening of the same day (12 August 1988), Wilfredo Buenaobra arrived at the house of Renato Constantino
in the Villaluz Compound. When accosted, he readily admitted to the military agents that he is a regular member of the CPP/NPA and
that he went to the place to deliver letters to "Ka Mong", referring to Renato Constantino, and other members of the rebel group. On
further questioning, he also admitted that he is known as "Ka Miller" and that he was from Barangay San Pedro, Lopez, Quezon.
Among the items taken from him were the following:

(1) Handwritten letter addressed to "Ka Bing & Co. from A & Co." dated August 11, 1988;

(2) Handwritten letter addressed to "ROD from VIC (Schell datre)" dated August 11, 1988;

(3) Handwritten letter addressed to "Suzie" from "Vic", dated August 11, 1988.

Also found in Buenaobra's possession was a piece of paper containing a written but jumbled telephone number of Florida M. Roque,
sister of Amelia Roque alias "Ka Nelia", at 69 Geronimo St., Caloocan City. Acting on the lead provided as to the whereabouts of
Amelia Roque, the military agents went to the given address the next day (13 August 1988). They arrived at the place at about 11:00
o'clock in the morning. After identifying themselves as military agents and after seeking permission to search the place, which was
granted, the military agents conducted a search in the presence of the occupants of the house and the barangay captain of the place,
one Jesus D. Olba.

The military agents found the place to be another safehouse of the NUFC/CPP. They found ledgers, journals, vouchers, bank deposit
books, folders, computer diskettes, and subversive documents as well as live ammunition for a .38 SPL Winchester, 11 rounds of live
ammunition for a cal. .45, 19 rounds of live ammunition for an M16 Rifle, and a fragmentation grenade. As a result, Amelia Roque and
the other occupants of the house were brought to the PC-CIS Headquarters at Camp Crame, Quezon City, for investigation. Amelia
Roque admitted to the investigators that the voluminous documents belonged to her and that the other occupants of the house had no
knowledge of them. As a result, the said other occupants of the house were released from custody.

On 15 August 1988, Amelia Roque was brought to the Caloocan City Fiscal for inquest after which an information charging her with
violation of PD 1866 was filed with the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City. The case is docketed therein as Criminal Case No.
C-1196. Another information for violation of the Anti-Subversion Act was filed against Amelia Roque before the Metropolitan Trial Court
of Caloocan City, which is docketed therein as Criminal Case No. C-150458.

An information for violation of the Anti-Subversion Act was filed against Wilfredo Buenaobra before the Metropolitan Trial Court of
Marikina, Metro Manila. The case is docketed therein as Criminal Case No. 23715. Bail was set at P4,000.00.

On 24 August 1988, a petition for habeas corpus was filed before this Court on behalf of Amelia Roque and Wilfredo Buenaobra. At the
hearing of the case, however, Wilfredo Buenaobra manifested his desire to stay in the PC-INP Stockade at Camp Crame, Quezon City.
 
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Accordingly, the petition for habeas corpus filed on his behalf is now moot and academic. Only the petition of Amelia Roque remains for
resolution. LLjur

The contention of respondents that petitioners Roque and Buenaobra are officers and or members of the National United Front
Commission (NUFC) of the CPP was not controverted or traversed by said petitioners. The contention must be deemed admitted. 5 As
officers and/ or members of the NUFC-CPP, their arrest, without warrant, was justified for the same reasons earlier stated vis-a-vis
Rolando Dural. The arrest without warrant of Roque was additionally justified as she was, at the time of apprehension, in possession of
ammunitions without license to possess them.

III
In G.R. Nos. 84583-84 (Anonuevo vs. Ramos), the arrest of Domingo Anonuevo and Ramon Casiple, without warrant, is also justified
under the rules. Both are admittedly members of the standing committee of the NUFC and, when apprehended in the house of Renato
Constantino, they had a bag containing subversive materials, and both carried firearms and ammunition for which they had no license
to possess or carry.

The record of these two (2) cases shows that at about 7:30 o'clock in the evening of 13 August 1988, Domingo T. Anonuevo and
Ramon Casiple arrived at the house of Renato Constantino at Marikina Heights, Marikina, which was still under surveillance by military
agents. The military agents noticed bulging objects on their waist lines. When frisked, the agents found them to be loaded guns.
Anonuevo and Casiple were asked to show their permit or license to possess or carry firearms and ammunition, but they could not
produce any. Hence, they were brought to PC Headquarters for investigation. Found in their possession were the following articles:

a) Voluminous subversive documents

b) One (1) Cal. 7.65 MOD 83 2C Pistol SN: 001412 with one (1) magazine for Cal. 7.65 containing ten (10) live ammunition of
same caliber;

c) One (1) Cal. 7.65 Pietro Barreta SN; A18868 last digit tampered with one (1) magazine containing five (5) live ammunition of
same caliber.

At the PC Stockade, Domingo Anonuevo was identified as "KaTed", and Ramon Casiple as "Ka Totoy" of the CPP, by their comrades
who had previously surrendered to the military.

On 15 August 1988, the record of the investigation and other documentary evidence were forwarded to the Provincial Fiscal at Pasig,
Metro Manila, who conducted an inquest, after which Domingo Anonuevo and Ramon Casiple were charged with violation of
Presidential Decree No. 1866 before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Metro Manila. The cases are docketed therein as Criminal
Cases Nos. 74386 and 74387, respectively. No bail was recommended.

On 24 August 1988, a petition for habeas corpus was filed with this Court on behalf of Domingo Anonuevo and Ramon Casiple, alleging
that the said Anonuevo and Casiple were unlawfully arrested without a warrant and that the informations filed against them are null and
void for having been filed without prior hearing and preliminary investigation. On 30 August 1988, the Court issued the writ of habeas
corpus, and after the respondents had filed a Return of the Writ, the parties were heard.

The petitioners' (Anonuevo and Casiple) claim that they were unlawfully arrested because there was no previous warrant of arrest, is
without merit. The record shows that Domingo Anonuevo and Ramon Casiple were carrying unlicensed firearms and ammunition in
their person when they were apprehended.

There is also no merit in the contention that the informations filed against them are null and void for want of a preliminary investigation.
The filing of an information, without a preliminary investigation having been first conducted, is sanctioned by the Rules. Sec. 7, Rule 112
of the Rules of Court, as amended, reads:

"Sec. 7. When accused lawfully arrested without a warrant. — When a person is lawfully arrested without a warrant for an offense
cognizable by the Regional Trial Court the complaint or information may be filed by the offended party, peace officer or fiscal
without a preliminary investigation having been first conducted, on the basis of the affidavit of the offended party or arresting
officer or person.

However, before the filing of such complaint or information, the person arrested may ask for a preliminary investigation by a
proper officer in accordance with this Rule, but he must sign a waiver of the provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code,
as amended, with the assistance of a lawyer and in case of non-availability of a lawyer, a responsible person of his choice.
Notwithstanding such waiver, he may apply for bail as provided in the corresponding rule and the investigation must be terminated
within fifteen (15) days from its inception.

If the case has been filed in court without a preliminary investigation having been first conducted, the accused may within five (5)
days from the time he learns of the filing of the information, ask for a preliminary investigation with the same right to adduce
evidence in his favor in the manner prescribed in this Rule."

The petitioners Domingo Anonuevo and Ramon Casiple, however, refused to sign a waiver of the provisions of Article 125 of the
Revised Penal Code, as amended. In the informations filed against them, the prosecutor made identical certifications, as follows:

"This is to certify that the accused has been charged in accordance with Sec. 7, Rule 112 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal
Procedure, that no preliminary investigation was conducted because the accused has not made and signed a waiver of the
provisions of Art. 125 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended; that based on the evidence presented, there is reasonable ground
to believe that the crime has been committed, and that the accused is probably guilty thereof."

 
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Nor did petitioners ask for a preliminary investigation after the informations had been filed against them in court. Petitioners cannot now
claim that they have been deprived of their constitutional right to due process.

IV
In G.R. No. 83162 (Ocaya vs. Aguirre), the arrest without warrant, of Vicky Ocaya is justified under the Rules, since she had with her an
unlicensed ammunition when she was arrested. The record of this case shows that on 12 May 1988, agents of the PC Intelligence and
Investigation of the Rizal PC-INP Command, armed with a search warrant issued by Judge Eutropio Migrino of the Regional Trial Court
of Pasig, Metro Manila, conducted a search of a house located at Block 19, Phase II, Marikina Green Heights, Marikina, Metro Manila,
believed to be occupied by Benito Tiamson, head of the CPP-NPA. In the course of the search, Vicky Ocaya armed in a car driven by
Danny Rivera. Subversive documents and several rounds of ammunition for a .45 cal. pistol were found in the car of Vicky Ocaya. As a
result, Vicky Ocaya and Danny Rivera were brought to the PC Headquarters for investigation. When Vicky Ocaya could not produce
any permit or authorization to possess the ammunition, an information charging her with violation of PD 1866 was filed with the
Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Metro Manila. The case is docketed therein as Criminal Case No. 73447. Danny Rivera, on the other
hand, was released from custody.

On 17 May 1988, a petition for habeas corpus was filed, with this Court on behalf of Vicky Ocaya and Danny Rivera. It was alleged
therein that Vicky Ocaya was illegally arrested and detained, and denied the right to a preliminary investigation.

It would appear, however, that Vicky Ocaya was arrested in flagranti delicto so that her arrest without a warrant is justified. No
preliminary investigation was conducted because she was arrested without a warrant and she refused to waive the provisions of Article
125 of the Revised Penal Code, pursuant to Sec. 7, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court, as amended.

V
The petitioners Vicky Ocaya, Domingo Anonuevo, Ramon Casiple, and Amelia Roque claim that the firearms, ammunition and
subversive documents alleged to have been found in their possession when they were arrested, did not belong to them, but were
"planted" by the military agents to justify their illegal arrest.

The petitioners, however, have not introduced any evidence to support their aforesaid claim. On the other hand, no evil motive or ill-will
on the part of the arresting officers that would cause the said arresting officers in these cases to accuse the petitioners falsely, has been
shown. Besides, the arresting officers in these cases do not appear to be seekers of glory and bounty hunters for, as counsel for the
petitioners Anonuevo and Casiple say, "there is absolutely nothing in the evidence submitted during the inquest that petitioners are on
the 'AFP Order of Battle with a reward of P15,000.00 on each on their heads.' " 6 On the other hand, as pointed out by the Solicitor
General, the arrest of the petitioners is not a product of a witch hunt or a fishing expedition, but the result of an in-depth surveillance of
NPA safehouses pointed to by no less than former comrades of the petitioners in the rebel movement. LexLib

The Solicitor General, in his Consolidated Memorandum, aptly observes:

". . . To reiterate, the focal point in the case of petitioners Roque, Buenaobra, Anonuevo and Casiple, was the lawful search and
seizure conducted by the military at the residence of Renato Constantino at Villaluz Compound, Molave St., Marikina Heights,
Marikina, Metro Manila. The raid at Constantino's residence, was not a witch hunting or fishing expedition on the part of the
military. It was a result of an in-depth military surveillance coupled with the leads provided by former members of the underground
subversive organizations. That raid produced positive results. To date, nobody has disputed the fact that the residence of
Constantino when raided yielded communication equipment, firearms and ammunitions, as well as subversive documents.

The military agents working on the information provided by Constantino that other members of his group were coming to his
place, reasonably conducted a 'stake-out' operation whereby some members of the raiding team were left behind the place. True
enough, barely two hours after the raid and Constantino's arrest, petitioner Buenaobra arrived at Constantino's residence. He
acted suspiciously and when frisked and searched by the military authorities, found in his person were letters. They are no
ordinary letters, as even a cursory reading would show. Not only that, Buenaobra admitted that he is a NPA courier and was there
to deliver the letters to Constantino.

Subsequently, less than twenty four hours after the arrest of Constantino and Buenaobra, petitioners Anonuevo and Casiple
arrived at Constantino's place. Would it be unreasonable for the military agents to believe that petitioners Anonuevo and Casiple
are among those expected to visit Constantino's residence considering that Constantino's information was true, in that Buenaobra
did come to that place? Was it unreasonable under the circumstances, on the part of the military agents, not to frisk and search
anyone who should visit the residence of Constantino, such as petitioners Anonuevo and Casiple? Must this Honorable Court
yield to Anonuevo and Casiple's flimsy and bare assertion that they went to visit Constantino, who was to leave for Saudi Arabia
on the day they were arrested thereat?.

As to petitioner Roque, was it unreasonable for the military authorities to effect her arrest without warrant considering that it was
Buenaobra who provided the leads on her identity? It cannot be denied that Buenaobra had connection with Roque. Because the
former has the phone number of the latter. Why the necessity of jumbling Roque's telephone number as written on a piece of
paper taken from Buenaobra's possession? Petitioners Roque and Buenaobra have not offered any plausible reason so far.

In all the above incidents, respondents maintain that they acted reasonably, under the time, place and circumstances of the
events in question, especially considering that at the time of petitioners' arrest, incriminatory evidence, i.e, firearms, ammunitions
and/or subversive documents were found in their possession.

Petitioners, when arrested, were neither taking their snacks nor innocently visiting a camp, but were arrested in such time, place
and circumstances, from which one can reasonably conclude that they were up to a sinister plot, involving utmost secrecy and
comprehensive conspiracy.".

VI

 
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In G.R. No. 85727 (Espiritu vs. Lim), the release on habeas corpus of the petitioner Deogracias Espiritu, who is detained by virtue of an
Information for Violation of Article 142 of the Revised Penal Code (Inciting to Sedition) filed with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, is
similarly not warranted.

The record of the case shows that the said petitioner is the General Secretary of the Pinagkaisahang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators
Nationwide (PISTON), an association of drivers and operators of public service vehicles in the Philippines, organized for their mutual
aid and protection. cdll

Petitioner claims that at about 5:00 o'clock in the morning of 23 November 1988, while he was sleeping in his home located at 363
Valencia St., Sta. Mesa, Manila, he was awakened by his sister Maria Paz Lalic who told him that a group of persons wanted to hire his
jeepney. When he went down to talk to them, he was immediately put under arrest. When he asked for the warrant of arrest arrest, the
men, headed by Col. Ricardo Reyes, bodily lifted him and placed him in their owner-type jeepney. He demanded that his sister, Maria
Paz Lalic, be allowed to accompany him, but the men did not accede to his request and hurriedly sped away.

He was brought to Police Station No. 8 of the Western Police District at Blumentritt, Manila where he was interrogated and detained.
Then, at about 9:00 o'clock of the same morning, he was brought before the respondent Lim and, there and then, the said respondent
ordered his arrest and detention. He was thereafter brought to the General Assignment Section, Investigation Division of the Western
Police District under Police Capt. Cresenciano A. Cabasal where he was detained, restrained and deprived of his liberty. 7

The respondents claim however, that the detention of the petitioner is justified in view of the Information filed against him before the
Regional Trial Court of Manila, docketed therein as Criminal Case No. 88-683-85, charging him with violation of Art. 142 of the Revised
Penal Code (Inciting to Sedition).

The respondents also claim that the petitioner was lawfully arrested without a judicial warrant of arrest since petitioner when arrested
had in fact just committed an offense in that in the afternoon of 22 November 1988, during a press conference at the National Press
Club.

"Deogracias Espiritu through tri-media was heard urging all drivers and operators to go on nationwide strike on November 23,
1988, to force the government to give in to their demands to lower the prices of spare parts, commodities, water and the
immediate release from detention of the president of the PISTON (Pinag-isang Samahan ng Tsuper Operators Nationwide).
Further, we heard Deogracias Espiritu taking the place of PISTON president Medardo Roda and also announced the formation of
the Alliance Drivers Association to go on nationwide strike on November 23, 1988." 8

Policemen waited for petitioner outside the National Press Club in order to investigate him, but he gave the lawmen the slip. 9 He was
next seen at about 5:00 o'clock that afternoon at a gathering of drivers and sympathizers at the corner of Magsaysay Blvd. and Valencia
Street, Sta. Mesa, Manila where he was heard to say:

"Bukas tuloy ang welga natin, sumagot na ang Cebu at Bicol na kasali sila, at hindi tayo titigil hanggang hindi binibigay ng
gobyerno ni Cory ang gusto nating pagbaba ng halaga ng spare parts, bilihin at ang pagpapalaya sa ating pinuno na si Ka Roda
hanggang sa magkagulo na." 10 (emphasis supplied).

The police finally caught up with the petitioner on 23 November 1988. He was invited for questioning and brought to police
headquarters after which an Information for violation of Art. 142 of the Revised Penal Code was filed against him before the Regional
Trial Court of Manila. 11

Since the arrest of the petitioner without a warrant was in accordance with the provisions of Rule 113, Sec. 5(b) of the Rules of Court
and that the petitioner is detained by virtue of a valid information filed with the competent court, he may not be released on habeas
corpus. He may, however be released upon posting bail as recommended. However, we find the amount of the recommended bail
(P60,000.00) excessive and we reduce it to P10,000.00 only.

VII
In G.R. No. 86332 (Nazareno vs. Station Commander), we also find no merit in the submission of Narciso Nazareno that he was
illegally arrested and is unlawfully detained. The record of this case shows that at about 8:30 o'clock in the morning of 14 December
1988, one Romulo Bunye II was killed by a group of men near the corner of T. Molina and Mendiola Streets in Alabang, Muntinglupa,
Metro Manila. One of the suspects in the killing was Ramil Regala who was arrested by the police on 28 December 1988. Upon
questioning, Regala pointed to Narciso Nazareno as one of his companions in the killing of the said Romulo Bunye II. In view thereof,
the police officers, without warrant, picked up Narciso Nazareno and brought him to the police headquarters for questioning. Obviously,
the evidence of petitioner's guilt is strong because on 3 January 1989, an information charging Narciso Nazareno, Ramil Regala, and
two (2) others, with the killing of Romulo Bunye II was filed with the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Metro Manila. The case is docketed
therein as Criminal Case No. 731. cdphil

On 7 January 1989, Narciso Nazareno filed a motion to post bail, but the motion was denied by the trial court in an order dated 10
January 1989, even as the motion to post bail, earlier filed by his co-accused, Manuel Laureaga, was granted by the same trial court.

On 13 January 1989, a petition for habeas corpus was filed with this Court on behalf of Narciso Nazareno and on 13 January 1989, the
Court issued the writ of habeas corpus, returnable to the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Biñan, Laguna, Branch 24,
ordering said court to hear the case on 30 January 1989 and thereafter resolve the petition.

At the conclusion of the hearing, or on 1 February 1989, the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Biñan, Laguna issued a
resolution denying the petition for habeas corpus, it appearing that the said Narciso Nazareno is in the custody of the respondents by
reason of an information filed against him with the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Metro Manila which had taken cognizance of said
case and had, in fact, denied the motion for bail filed by said Narciso Nazareno (presumably because of the strength of the evidence
against him).

 
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The findings of the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Biñan, Laguna are based upon the facts and the law. Consequently,
we will not disturb the same. Evidently, the arrest of Nazareno was effected by the police without warrant pursuant to Sec. 5 (b), Rule
113, Rules of Court after he was positively implicated by his co-accused Ramil Regala in the killing of Romulo Bunye II; and after
investigation by the police authorities. As held in People vs. Ancheta: 12

"The obligation of an agent of authority to make an arrest by reason of a crime, does not presuppose as a necessary requisite for
the fulfillment thereof, the indubitable existence of a crime. For the detention to be perfectly legal, it is sufficient that the agent or
person in authority making the arrest has 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 therein."

VIII
It is to be noted that, in all the petitions here considered, criminal charges have been filed in the proper courts against the petitioners.
The rule is, that if a person alleged to be restrained of his liberty is in the custody of an officer under process issued by a court or judge,
and that the court or judge had jurisdiction to issue the process or make the order, or if such person is charged before any court, the
writ of habeas corpus will not be allowed. Section 4, Rule 102, Rules of Court, as amended is quite explicit in providing that:

"Sec. 4. When writ is not allowed or discharge authorized. - If it appears that the person alleged to be restrained of his liberty is in
the custody of an officer under process issued by a court or judge or by virtue of a judgment or order of a court of record, and that
the court or judge had jurisdiction to issue the process, render the judgment, or make the order, the writ shall not be allowed; or if
the jurisdiction appears after the writ is allowed, the person shall not be discharged by reason of any informality or defect in the
process, judgment, or order. Nor shall anything in this rule be held to authorize the discharge of a person charged with or
convicted of an offense in the Philippines or of a person suffering imprisonment under lawful judgment." (emphasis supplied)

At this point, we refer to petitioners' plea for the Court to re-examine and, thereafter, abandon its pronouncement in Ilagan vs. Enrile, 13
that a writ of habeas corpus is no longer available after an information is filed against the person detained and a warrant of arrest or an
order of commitment is issued by the court where said information has been filed. 14 The petitioners claim that the said ruling, which
was handed down during the past dictatorial regime to enforce and strengthen said regime, has no place under the present democratic
dispensation and collides with the basic, fundamental, and constitutional rights of the people. Petitioners point out that the said doctrine
makes possible the arrest and detention of innocent persons despite lack of evidence against them, and, most often, it is only after a
petition for habeas corpus is filed before the court that the military authorities file the criminal information in the courts of law to be able
to hide behind the protective mantle of the said doctrine. This, petitioners assert, stands as an obstacle to the freedom and liberty of the
people and permits lawless and arbitrary State action.

We find, however, no compelling reason to abandon the said doctrine. It is based upon express provision of the Rules of Court and the
exigencies served by the law. The fears expressed by the petitioners are not really unremediable. As the Court sees it, re-examination
or reappraisal, with a view to its abandonment, of the Ilagan case doctrine is not the answer. The answer and the better practice would
be, not to limit the function of habeas corpus to a mere inquiry as to whether or not the court which issued the process, judgment or
order of commitment or before whom the detained person is charged, had jurisdiction or not to issue the process, judgment or order or
to take cognizance of the case, but rather, as the Court itself states in Morales, Jr. vs. Enrile, 15 "in all petitions for habeas corpus the
court must inquire into every phase and aspect of petitioner's detention — from the moment petitioner was taken into custody up to the
moment the court passes upon the merits of the petition;" and "only after such a scrutiny can the court satisfy itself that the due process
clause of ourConstitution has in fact been satisfied." This is exactly what the Court has done in the petitions at bar. This is what should
henceforth be done in all future cases of habeas corpus. In short, all cases involving deprivation of individual liberty should be promptly
brought to the courts for their immediate scrutiny and disposition. LLpr

WHEREFORE, the petitions are hereby DISMISSED, except that in G.R. No. 85727 (Espiritu vs. Lim), the bail bond for petitioner's
provisional liberty is hereby ordered reduced from P60,000.00 to P10,000.00. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Fernan, C.J, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Paras, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Griño-Aquino, Medialdea and Regalado, JJ.,
concur.

||| (Umil v. Ramos, G.R. No. 81567, 84581-82, 84583-84, 83162, 85727, 86332, [July 9, 1990], 265 PHIL 325-365) 

9. People vs. Nuevas, G.R. No. 170233, February 22, 2007 

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 170233. February 22, 2007.]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. JESUS NUEVAS y GARCIA, REYNALDO DIN y GONZAGA,
and FERNANDO INOCENCIO y ABADEOS, appellants.

 
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DECISION

TINGA, J p:

Jesus Nuevas y Garcia (Nuevas) was charged 1 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Olongapo City, Branch 75, with illegal
possession of marijuana in violation of Section 8, Article II ofRepublic Act No. 6425 2 as amended.

Reynaldo Din y Gonzaga (Din) and Fernando Inocencio y Abadeos (Inocencio) were likewise charged 3 with the same crime, before the
same court.

Upon arraignment, Nuevas, Din and Inocencio pleaded not guilty to the charges. 4 As the evidence in the cases was common and the
prosecution would utilize the same witnesses, the cases were consolidated. After a joint trial on the merits, the RTC rendered a
Decision 5 dated 4 April 2002, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, finding all accused in the above-entitled cases guilty beyond reasonable doubt, this Court hereby sentences them
to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and each to pay [a] fine of P500,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency and to pay the costs.

The bricks of marijuana are hereby confiscated and disposed in accordance with existing regulations.

SO ORDERED. 6

To put in appropriate context the operative facts on which adjudication of this case hinges, there is need to recall the factual assertions
of the witnesses for both the prosecution and the defense.

PO3 Teofilo B. Fami (Fami) testified that in the morning of 27 September 1997, he and SPO3 Cesar B. Cabling (Cabling) conducted a
stationary surveillance and monitoring of illegal drug trafficking along Perimeter Street, Barangay Pag-asa, Olongapo City. They had
received information that a certain male person, more or less 5'4" in height, 25 to 30 years old, with a tattoo mark on the upper right
hand, and usually wearing a sando and maong pants, would make a delivery of marijuana dried leaves. While stationed thereat, they
saw a male person who fit the description, carrying a plastic bag, later identified as Nuevas, alight from a motor vehicle. They accosted
Nuevas and informed him that they are police officers. Fami asked Nuevas where he was going. Nuevas answered arrogantly but
afterwards, calmed down. Nuevas and Fami conversed in the Waray dialect. Nuevas informed him that there were other stuff in the
possession of a certain Vangie, an associate, and two other male persons. Later on, Nuevas voluntarily pointed to the police officers a
plastic bag which, when opened, contained marijuana dried leaves and bricks wrapped in a blue cloth. Shortly, in his bid to escape
charges, Nuevas disclosed where the two (2) other male persons would make the delivery of marijuana weighing more or less five (5)
kilos. 7

Fami and Cabling, together with Nuevas, then proceeded to Purok 12, Old Cabalan, Olongapo City, which according to Nuevas was
where his two (2) companions, Din and Inocencio, could be located. From there, they saw and approached two (2) persons along the
National Highway, introducing themselves as police officers. Din was carrying a light blue plastic bag. When asked, Din disclosed that
the bag belonged to Nuevas. Fami then took the bag and upon inspection found inside it "marijuana packed in newspaper and wrapped
therein." 8 After confiscating the items, Fami and Cabling brought Nuevas, Din and Inocencio to the police office at Purok III for proper
documentation. 9 Fami further testified that a receipt for the property seized was issued by Cabling and that a field test was duly
conducted on the confiscated items. All three accused were likewise physically examined on the basis of which corresponding medical
certificates were issued. The corresponding booking sheets and arrest report were also accomplished. Fami stated that he and Cabling
executed a joint affidavit in connection with the arrest of all the accused and the confiscation of the items. 10

On cross-examination, Fami revealed that when the receipt of evidence seized was prepared, all three (3) accused were not
represented by counsel. He likewise disclosed that he was the one who escorted all the accused during their physical examination. He
also escorted all three to the Fiscal's office where the latter were informed of the charges against them. 11

Cabling corroborated Fami's testimony. He, however, testified that after he and Fami had introduced themselves as police officers, Din
and Inocencio voluntarily handed to Fami the marijuana dried leaves. 12

On cross-examination, Cabling testified that the arrest of Nuevas was the result of a tip from Fami's informant, conceding though that
the name of Nuevas was not included in the list of persons under surveillance. Fami then relayed the tip to Cabling. 13 Cabling restated
that Nuevas had voluntarily submitted the plastic bag he was holding and that after Nuevas had been informed of the violation of law
attributed to him, he admitted his willingness to cooperate and point to his other cohorts. 14 When Fami and Cabling proceeded to the
identified location of Nuevas's cohorts, they chanced upon Din and Inocencio along the road. Din was holding a bag while Inocencio
was looking into its contents. 15 Cabling averred that Din voluntarily handed the plastic bag he was holding to the police officers. 16

For his defense, Nuevas testified that in the morning of 27 September 1997, he was walking along Perimeter Street, on his way home
from the Barangay Hall, when Fami called him. Nuevas approached Fami, who was then in front of his house, and asked why Fami had
called him. Fami poked his gun at Nuevas and asked him to go inside the room where Fami handcuffed Nuevas's hands, got Nuevas's
wallet, took out P1,500.00 and put it in his (Fami's) wallet. Fami then confronted Nuevas with shabu use but the latter denied the
charge. Before leaving the house with Nuevas, Fami brought out a plastic bag and told Nuevas to carry it. Subsequently, they boarded
a red owner — type jeep and proceeded to Station B where Nuevas was put in jail. Nuevas further stated that he did not know Din or
Inocencio. 17

Din, on the other hand, stated that at about 10 o'clock in the morning of 27 September 1997, while his 'compare' Inocencio was visiting,
two (2) men entered his house looking for a woman. The two (2) introduced themselves as police officers. Then, Din and Inocencio

 
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were immediately handcuffed. They were not informed of the reason for their arrest and were told that the reason will be explained to
them in court. Next, they were brought to the Cabalan precinct where the investigator asked for their names, and subsequently to
Station B where they were ordered to stand up and be photographed with Nuevas, who Din first met in jail. Inside the room where they
had their fingerprints taken, he saw marijuana placed on top of the table. 18

Inocencio testified that he went to his 'compadre' Din's house in the morning of 27 September 1997 to sell his fighting cocks as he
needed money to redeem his driver's license. While there, he and Din were arrested by two persons, one of whom pointed a gun at
them while the other searched the house for a lady named Vangie. Afterwards, he and Din were brought to the Cabalan Police Precinct
and then to Station B where he first came to know Nuevas. He denied that a plastic bag containing marijuana was recovered from them
and claimed that he only saw such evidence on the day he gave his testimony. He also stated that when a photograph was taken of the
three of them, he and Din were ordered to point to a "wrapped thing." When the photograph was taken, they were not assisted by
counsel. He also does not recall having signed a receipt of property seized. Afterwards, they were brought to a detention cell. And when
they asked the police what they did wrong, the police replied that they will just explain it in court. 19

All three were found guilty as charged and the judgment of conviction was elevated to the Court for automatic review. However, on 14
July 2003, Nuevas filed a manifestation and motion to withdraw appeal. 20 The Court granted Nuevas's withdrawal of appeal and
considered the case closed and terminated as to him, in a Resolution 21 dated 25 August 2003.

In a Resolution 22 dated 22 September 2004 of the Court in G.R. Nos. 153641-42, 23 the cases were transferred to the Court of Appeals
pursuant to the Court's ruling in People v. Efren Mateo. 24

Before the Court of Appeals, Din and Inocencio (appellants) argued that the trial court erred: (1) in finding them guilty of the crime
charged on the basis of the testimonies of the arresting officers; and (2) in not finding that their constitutional rights have been violated.
25

The Court of Appeals in a Decision 26 dated 27 May 2005, in CA-G.R. CR No. 00341, affirmed the decision of the trial court. The
dispositive portion of the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, all the foregoing considered, the instant appeal is DENIED. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo
City, Branch 75, in Criminal Case No. 459-97, is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED. 27

The Court of Appeals restated the rule that when the issue involves the credibility of a witness, the trial court's assessment is entitled to
great weight, even finality, unless it is shown that it was tainted with arbitrariness or there was an oversight of some fact or
circumstance of weight or influence. The appellate court found Fami and Cabling's version of how appellants were apprehended to be
categorical and clear. Din, at the time of his apprehension, was seen holding a plastic bag containing marijuana leaves. On the other
hand, Inocencio's possession of the marijuana leaves was established by the fact that he was seen in the act of looking into the plastic
bag carried by Din. 28

With respect to appellants' claim that their constitutional rights have been violated, the appellate court stated that the search in the
instant case is exempted from the requirement of a judicial warrant as appellants themselves waived their right against unreasonable
searches and seizures. According to the appellate court, both Cabling and Fami testified that Din voluntarily surrendered the bag.
Appellants never presented evidence to rebut the same. Thus, in the instant case, the exclusionary rule does not apply. 29

Din and Inocencio are now before the Court submitting for resolution the same matters argued before the Court of Appeals. Through
their Manifestation (In Lieu of Supplementary Brief)30 dated 22 March 2006, appellants stated that all the arguments necessary to
support their acquittal have already been discussed in the brief they had submitted before the appellate court; thus, the filing of a
supplemental brief would be a mere reiteration of the arguments discussed in said brief. 31 The Office of the Solicitor General
manifested that it is no longer filing a supplemental brief. 32

The conviction or acquittal of appellants rests on the validity of the warrantless searches and seizure made by the police officers and
the admissibility of the evidence obtained by virtue thereof. TAScID

In holding that the warrantless searches and seizure are valid, the trial court ruled as follows:

While the confiscation of the bricks of marijuana from the accused Jesus Nuevas was without a search warrant, it was not bereft
of a probable cause. The police team received informations [sic] from an asset that on that day, a male person whom he
sufficiently described will deliver marijuana at the vicinity of Perimeter and Bonifacio S[t]., Pag-asa, Olongapo City, a known drop
point of illegal drugs. They went to the said area upon that information. Their waiting was fruitful because not long afterwards they
saw the accused Jesus Nuevas alighting from a tricycle carrying a bag and after confronting him, he voluntarily gave the bag
containing bricks of dried marijuana leaves. With respect to the confiscation of 2 1/2 kilos of marijuana and the apprehension of
accused Reynaldo Din and Fernando Inocencio, it was a result of a continued operation by the team which this time was led by
accused Nuevas to get some concession from the team for his own earlier apprehension. As the apprehension of Nuevas was
upon a probable cause, in the same vein was the apprehension of Reynaldo Din and Fernando Inocencio and the recovery from
them [of] 2 1/2 kilos of dried marijuana leaves. The propriety of this conclusion is necessity [sic] because of the impossibility of
getting first a warrant in so short a time with such cumbersome requirements before one can be issued. Before getting a warrant,
the culprits shall have already gone into hiding. These situations are not distant to the case of People v[.] Jean Balingan (G.R. No.
105834, 13 Feb. 1995) where we learned that expediency and practicality are some of the justification[s] in the warrantless arrest.
33[Emphasis supplied]

Appellants maintain that there was no basis for their questioning and the subsequent inspection of the plastic bags of Nuevas and Din,
as they were not doing anything illegal at the time.34

 
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Our Constitution states that a search and seizure must be carried through or with a judicial warrant; otherwise, such search and seizure
becomes "unreasonable" and any evidence obtained therefrom is inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding. 35 The constitutional
proscription, however, is not absolute but admits of exceptions, namely:

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 vehicle's 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; HSATIC

4. Consented warrantless search;

5. Customs search;

6. Stop and Frisk; and

7. Exigent and emergency circumstances. 36

In the instances where a warrant is not necessary to effect a valid search or seizure, or when the latter cannot be performed except
without a warrant, what constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable search or seizure is purely a judicial question, determinable from the
uniqueness of the circumstances involved, including the purpose of the search or seizure, the presence or absence of probable cause,
the manner in which the search and seizure was made, the place or thing searched and the character of the articles procured. 37

The courts below anchor appellants' conviction on the ground that the searches and seizure conducted in the instant case based on a
tip from an informant fall under one of the exceptions as Nuevas, Din and Inocencio all allegedly voluntarily surrendered the plastic
bags containing marijuana to the police officers. 38

We differ.

First, the Court holds that the searches and seizures conducted do not fall under the first exception, warrantless searches incidental to
lawful arrests.

A search incidental to a lawful arrest is sanctioned by the Rules of Court. 39 Recent jurisprudence holds that the arrest must precede the
search; the process cannot be reversed as in this case where the search preceded the arrest. 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.
40

In this case, Nuevas, Din and Inocencio were not committing a crime in the presence of the police officers. Moreover, police officers
Fami and Cabling did not have personal knowledge of the facts indicating that the persons to be arrested had committed an offense.
The searches conducted on the plastic bag then cannot be said to be merely incidental to a lawful arrest. 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." 41

Secondly, neither could the searches be justified under the plain view doctrine.

An object is in plain view if it is plainly exposed to sight. Where the object seized was inside a closed package, the object itself is not in
plain view and therefore cannot be seized without a warrant. However, if the package proclaims its contents, whether by its distinctive
configuration, its transparency, or if its contents are obvious to an observer, then the contents are in plain view and may be seized. In
other words, if the package is such that an experienced observer could infer from its appearance that it contains the prohibited article,
then the article is deemed in plain view. It must be immediately apparent to the police that the items that they observe may be evidence
of a crime, contraband or otherwise subject to seizure. 42

Records show that the dried marijuana leaves were inside the plastic bags that Nuevas and Din were carrying and were not readily
apparent or transparent to the police officers. In Nuevas's case, the dried marijuana leaves found inside the plastic bag were wrapped
inside a blue cloth. 43 In Din's case, the marijuana found upon inspection of the plastic bag was "packed in newspaper and wrapped
therein." 44 It cannot be therefore said the items were in plain view which could have justified mere seizure of the articles without further
search. 45

On the other hand, the Court finds that the search conducted in Nuevas's case was made with his consent. In Din's case, there was
none.

Indeed, the constitutional immunity against unreasonable searches and seizures is a personal right which may be waived. However, it
must be seen that the consent to the search was voluntary in order to validate an otherwise illegal detention and search, i.e., the
consent was unequivocal, specific, and intelligently given, uncontaminated by any duress or coercion. The consent to a search is not to
be lightly inferred, but must be shown by clear and convincing evidence. The question whether a consent to a search was in fact
voluntary is a question of fact to be determined from the totality of all the circumstances. Relevant to this determination are the following
characteristics of the person giving consent and the environment in which consent is given: (1) the age of the defendant; (2) whether he
was in a public or secluded location; (3) whether he objected to the search or passively looked on; (4) the education and intelligence of
the defendant; (5) the presence of coercive police procedures; (6) the defendant's belief that no incriminating evidence will be found; (7)
the nature of the police questioning; (8) the environment in which the questioning took place; and (9) the possibly vulnerable subjective

 
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state of the person consenting. It is the State which has the burden of proving, by clear and positive testimony, that the necessary
consent was obtained and that it was freely and voluntarily given. 46

In Nuevas's case, the Court is convinced that he indeed voluntarily surrendered the incriminating bag to the police officers. Fami
testified in this wise:

FISCAL BELTRAN:

Q Now, when you saw this accused carrying this Exhibit "D," 47 for your part, what did you do?

A I just talked to him and asked him where he was going and according to him, he acted arrogantly, sir.

Q This arrogant action of the accused Jesus Nuevas, when you confronted him did he resist?

A How did he show his elements, [sic] he said, "So what if you are policeman[?]"

Q And being confronted with that arrogance, what did you do next?

A Later on he kept calm by saying [sic] in Waray dialect, sir.

xxx xxx xxx


Q What, exactly, did he tell you in Waray dialect?

A "Sir Fami[sic], don't charge me, sir[.] I am planning to go home to Leyte. I was just earning enough money for my fare,
sir."

xxx xxx xxx


Q So when the accused speak [sic] to you in Waray, what else did you do if you did anything?

A I pretended that I agree in his [sic] offer but I also asked him where are the other staffs[sic] sir. 48

xxx xxx xxx


Q With respect to the bag that you confiscated from him, what did you do?

A He voluntarily pointed it to me and I checked it, the bag, for verification, sir. 49

Cabling likewise testified as follows:

Q When Fami got this from the accused, he opened this thing that he got?

A The subject voluntarily submitted the same, sir.

Q Upon the order of Fami to open it?

A Nobody ordered it, sir. 50

There is reason to believe that Nuevas indeed willingly submitted the plastic bag with the incriminating contents to the police officers. It
can be seen that in his desperate attempt to exculpate himself from any criminal liability, Nuevas cooperated with the police, gave them
the plastic bag and even revealed his 'associates,' offering himself as an informant. His actuations were consistent with the lamentable
human inclination to find excuses, blame others and save oneself even at the cost of others' lives. Thus, the Court would have affirmed
Nuevas's conviction had he not withdrawn his appeal. SIaHTD

However, with respect to the search conducted in the case of Din, the Court finds that no such consent had actually been given. Fami
testified as follows:

FISCAL BELTRAN

Q Now, what did you do when you saw Din with that Exhibit "C," the plastic bag?

A Din said that "Oo, Sir, that is owned by Nuevas" [sic] and I took the said plastic bag.

Q When you took this plastic bag from Din. . . .

Was the accused Jesus Nueva [sic] present when Din told you that?

A Yes, sir. Nuevas alighted also [from] the vehicle with Cabling.

Q And what was the reaction of Nuevas when Din told you that the bag belongs to him?

A I did not react, sir.

Q After getting that plastic bag from Reynaldo Din, what did you do with it?

A I inspected the bag and I found out that there is still marijuana packed in newspaper and wrapped therein, sir. 51
[Emphasis supplied.]

Cabling, however, gave a different testimony, viz.:

FISCAL BELTRAN

Q And upon siting [sic] the two subject persons you have just indicated in your earlier testimony, what did you do?

 
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A We approached them and introduced ourselves as police officers, and pinpointed by Nuevas as the ones who kept
suspected prohibited drugs, sir.

Q After you approached these two people, what happened?

A These two people, upon introducing ourselves, [sic] voluntarily surrendered to Fami those marijuana dry leaves, sir. 52

The police officers gave inconsistent, dissimilar testimonies regarding the manner by which they got hold of the bag. This already raises
serious doubts on the voluntariness of Din's submission of the plastic bag. Jurisprudence requires that in case of consented searches
or waiver of the constitutional guarantee against obtrusive searches, it is fundamental that to constitute a waiver, it must first appear
that (1) the right exists; (2) the person involved had knowledge, either actual or constructive, of the existence of such right; and (3) the
said person had an actual intention to relinquish the right. 53

The prosecution failed to clearly show that Din intentionally surrendered his right against unreasonable searches. While it may not be
contrary to human nature for one to be jolted into surrendering something incriminating to authorities, Fami's and Cabling's testimonies
do not show that Din was in such a state of mind or condition. Fami and Cabling did not testify on Din's composure — whether he felt
surprised or frightened at the time — which fact we find necessary to provide basis for the surrender of the bag. There was no mention
of any permission made by the police officers to get or search the bag or of any consent given by Din for the officers to search it. It is
worthy to note that in cases where the Court upheld the validity of consented search, the police authorities expressly asked, in no
uncertain terms, for the consent of the accused to be searched. And the consent of the accused was established by clear and positive
proof.

Neither can Din's silence at the time be construed as an implied acquiescence to the warrantless search. In People v. Burgos, 54 the
Court aptly ruled:

. . . 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. 55

Without the dried marijuana leaves as evidence, Din's conviction cannot be sustained based on the remaining evidence. The Court has
repeatedly declared that the conviction of the accused must rest not on the weakness of the defense but on the strength of the
prosecution. 56 As such, Din deserves an acquittal.

In this case, an acquittal is warranted despite the prosecution's insistence that the appellants have effectively waived any defect in their
arrest by entering their plea and by their active participation in the trial of the case. Be it stressed that the legality of an arrest affects
only the jurisdiction of the court over the person of the accused. Inspite of any alleged waiver, the dried marijuana leaves cannot be
admitted in evidence against the appellants, Din more specifically, as they were seized during a warrantless search which was not
lawful. A waiver of an illegal warrantless arrest does not also mean a waiver of the inadmissibility of evidence seized during an illegal
warrantless arrest. 57

Turning to Inocencio's case, the Court likewise finds that he was wrongly convicted of the crime charged. Inocencio's supposed
possession of the dried marijuana leaves was sought to be shown through his act of looking into the plastic bag that Din was carrying.
58 Taking a look at an object, more so in this case peeping into a bag while held by another, is not the same as taking possession

thereof. To behold is not to hold. Indeed, the act attributed to Inocencio is insufficient to establish illegal possession of the drugs or even
conspiracy to illegally possess the same. The prosecution failed to show by convincing proof that Inocencio knew of the contents of the
bag and that he conspired with Din to possess the illegal items. Inocencio was firm and unshakeable in his testimony that he had no
part in any delivery of marijuana dried leaves.

Finally, the law enforcers should be reminded of the Court's dated but nevertheless current exhortation:

. . . In the final analysis, we in the administration of justice would have no right to expect ordinary people to be law-abiding if we
do not insist on the full protection of their rights. Some lawmen, prosecutors and judges may still tend to gloss over an illegal
search and seizure as long as the law enforcers show the alleged evidence of the crime regardless of the methods by which they
were obtained. This kind of attitude condones law-breaking in the name of law enforcement. Ironically, it only fosters the more
rapid breakdown of our system of justice, and the eventual denigration of society. While this Court appreciates and encourages
the efforts of law enforcers to uphold the law and to preserve the peace and security of society, we nevertheless admonish them
to act with deliberate care and within the parameters set by the Constitution and the law. Truly, the end never justifies the means.
59

WHEREFORE, the Decision dated 4 April 2002 of the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City, Branch 75, in Criminal Cases No. 458-97
and No. 459-97 is reversed and modified. Appellants Reynaldo Din y Gonzaga and Fernando Inocencio y Abadeos are hereby
ACQUITTED. 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.
ISTCHE

SO ORDERED.

Quisumbing, Carpio, Carpio-Morales and Velasco, Jr., JJ., concur.

||| (People v. Nuevas y Garcia, G.R. No. 170233, [February 22, 2007], 545 PHIL 356-378) 

 
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10. People vs. del Rosario, G.R. No. 127755, April 14, 1999 

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 127755. April 14, 1999.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. JOSELITO DEL ROSARIO Y PASCUAL,


accused-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Leovillo C. Agustin Law Offices for accused-appellant.

SYNOPSIS

Accused Joselito Del Rosario was found guilty as co-principal in the crime of Robbery with Homicide and he was sentenced to suffer
the death penalty and to pay damages to the heirs of the victim. cdasia

Del Rosario alleged that he was just hired by Virgilio Santos to drive him to a cockpit. He was not aware of the plan of Santos and his
two companions to rob and kill the victim. He was not able to seek assistance because Santos threatened to shoot him if he did. He
also failed to inform the police authorities about the incident because the culprits has threatened him and his family. He claimed
exemption from criminal liability as he allegedly acted under the compulsion of an irresistible force.

The conviction of Del Rosario must be set aside and his claim for exemption sustained. He was then unarmed and unable to protect
himself when he was prevented at gunpoint from leaving the crime scene during the commission of the robbery and killing. He was also
forced to help the culprits escape after the commission of the crime. Further, Del Rosario's failure to disclose what he knew about the
incident to the authorities does not affect his credibility. The natural hesitance of most people to get involved in a criminal case is of
judicial notice. Given his quite limited means, Del Rosario understandably did not want to get involved in the case so he chose to keep
his silence. Besides, he was threatened with physical harm should he squeal.

SYLLABUS

1. CRIMINAL LAW; EXEMPTING CIRCUMSTANCES; WHERE PERSON ACTS UNDER COMPULSION OF IRRESISTIBLE FORCE;
ELUCIDATED. — A person who acts under the compulsion of an irresistible force, like one who acts under the impulse of an
uncontrollable fear of equal or greater injury, is exempt from criminal liability because he does not act with freedom. Actus me invito
factus non est meus actus. An act done by me against my will is not my act. The force contemplated must be so formidable as to
reduce the actor to a mere instrument who acts not only without will but against his will. The duress, force, fear or intimidation must be
present, imminent and impending, and of such nature as to induce a well-grounded apprehension of death or serious bodily harm if the
act be done. A threat of future injury is not enough. The compulsion must be of such a character as to leave no opportunity for the
accused for escape or self-defense in equal combat. TcHCDE

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; PRESENT IN CASE AT BAR. — As a rule, it is natural for people to be seized by fear when threatened with weapons,
even those less powerful than a gun, such as knives and clubs. People will normally, usually and probably do what an armed man asks
them to do, nothing more, nothing less. In the instant case, del Rosario was threatened with a gun. He could not therefore be expected
to flee nor risk his life to help a stranger. A person under the same circumstances would be more concerned with his personal welfare
and security rather than the safety of a person whom he only saw for the first time that day. There is no doubt that the fear entertained
by del Rosario because of the gun directly pointed at him was real and imminent. Such fear rendered him immobile and subject to the
will of Boy Santos, making him for the moment an automaton without a will of his own. In other words, in effect, he could not be any
more than a mere instrument acting involuntarily and against his will. He is therefore exempt from criminal liability since by reason of
fear of bodily harm he was compelled against his will to transport his co-accused away from the crime scene.

3. ID.; CONSPIRACY; ELUCIDATED. — A conspiracy in the statutory language exists when two or more persons come to an
agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. The objective of the conspirators is to perform an act or
omission punishable by law. That must be their intent. There is need for "concurrence of wills" or "unity of action and purpose" or for
"common and joint purpose and design." Its manifestation could be shown by "united and concerted action."

4. ID.; ID.; IMPLIED CONSPIRACY; HOW ESTABLISHED. — Admittedly, direct proof is not essential to establish conspiracy. Since by
its nature conspiracy is planned in utmost secrecy, it can rarely be proved by direct evidence. Consequently, the presence of the
concurrence of minds which is involved in conspiracy may be inferred from proof of facts and circumstances which, taken together,
apparently indicate that they are merely parts of some complete whole. If it is proved that two or more persons aimed by their acts
towards the accomplishment of the same unlawful object, each doing a part so that their combined acts, though apparently
independent, were in fact connected and cooperative, indicating a closeness of personal association and a concurrence of sentiment, a
conspiracy may be inferred though no actual meeting among them to concert means is proved. That would be termed an implied

 
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conspiracy. Nevertheless, mere knowledge, acquiescence or approval of the act, without the cooperation or agreement to cooperate, is
not enough to constitute one a party to a conspiracy, but that there must be intentional participation in the transaction with a view to the
furtherance of the common design and purpose. Conspiracy must be established, not by conjectures, but by positive and conclusive
evidence. In fact, the same degree of proof necessary to establish the crime is required to support a finding of the presence of a
criminal conspiracy, which is, proof beyond reasonable doubt.

5. ID.; ID.; ID.; NOT PRESENT IN CASE AT BAR. — To convict the accused, the presence of an implied conspiracy is required to be
proved beyond reasonable doubt. However, the fact that del Rosario was with the other accused when the crime was committed is
insufficient proof to show cabal. Mere companionship does not establish conspiracy. The only incriminating evidence against del
Rosario is that he was at the scene of the crime but he has amply explained the reason for his presence and the same has not been
successfully refuted by the prosecution. No complicity can be deduced where there is absolutely no showing that the accused directly
participated in the overt act of robbing and shooting although he was with the person who robbed and killed the victim.

6. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; WITNESSES; CREDIBILITY; NOT AFFECTED BY FAILURE TO DISCLOSE INCIDENT TO
AUTHORITIES. — That del Rosario did not disclose what he knew about the incident to the authorities, to his employer or to the
Barangay captain does not affect his credibility. The natural hesitance of most people to get involved in a criminal case is of judicial
notice. Del Rosario was merely a tricycle driver with a family to look after. Understandably he did not want to get involved in the case so
he chose to keep his silence. Besides, he was threatened with physical harm should he squeal.

7. ID.; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; CUSTODIAL INVESTIGATION; ELUCIDATED. — Custodial investigation is the stage where the
police investigation is no longer a general inquiry into an unsolved crime but has begun to focus on a particular suspect taken into
custody by the police who carry out a process of interrogation that lends itself to elicit incriminating statements. It is well-settled that it
encompasses any question initiated by law enforcers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom
of action in any significant way. This concept of custodial investigation has been broadened by R.A. 7438 to include "the practice of
issuing an 'invitation' to a person who is investigated in connection with an offense he is suspected to have committed."

8. ID.; ID.; ID.; RIGHTS VIOLATED IN CASE AT BAR. — Del Rosario was deprived of his rights during custodial investigation. From the
time he was "invited" for questioning at the house of the barangay captain, he was already under effective custodial investigation, but
he was not apprised nor made aware thereof by the investigating officers. The police already knew the name of the tricycle driver and
the latter was 'already' a suspect in the robbing and senseless slaying of Virginia Bernas. Since the prosecution failed to establish that
del Rosario had waived his right to remain silent his verbal admissions on his participation in the crime even before his actual arrest
were inadmissible against him, as the same transgressed the safeguards provided by law and the Bill of Rights.

9. ID.; ID.; ARREST WITHOUT WARRANT; NOT LAWFUL IN CASE AT BAR. — When a police officer sees the offense, although at a
distance, or hears the disturbances created thereby, and proceeds at once to the scene thereof, he may effect an arrest without a
warrant on the basis of Sec. 5, par. (a), Rule 113, since the offense is deemed committed in his presence or within his view. In essence,
Sec. 5, par. (a), Rule 113, requires that the accused be caught in flagrante delicto or caught immediately after the consummation of the
act. The arrest of del Rosario is obviously outside the purview of the aforequoted rule since he was arrested on the day following the
commission of the robbery with homicide. On the other hand, Sec. 5, par. (b), Rule 113, necessitates two (2) stringent requirements
before a warrantless arrest can be effected: (1) an offense has just been committed; and, (2) the person making the arrest has personal
knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested had committed it. Hence, there must be a large measure of immediacy
between the time the offense was committed and the time of the arrest, and if there was an appreciable lapse of time between the
arrest and the commission of the crime, a warrant of arrest must be secured. Aside from the sense of immediacy, it is also mandatory
that the person making the arrest must have personal knowledge of certain facts indicating that the person to be taken into custody has
committed the crime. Again, the arrest of del Rosario does not comply with these requirements since, as earlier explained, the arrest
came a day after the consummation of the crime and not immediately thereafter. As such, the crime had not been "just committed" at
the time the accused was arrested. Likewise, the arresting officers had no personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be
arrested had committed the offense since they were not present and were not actual eyewitnesses to the crime, and they became
aware of his identity as the driver of the getaway tricycle only during the custodial investigation.

10. ID.; ID.; ID.; ILLEGALITY WAIVED WHEN NOT OBJECTED BEFORE ARRAIGNMENT. — However, the conspicuous illegality of
del Rosario's arrest cannot affect the jurisdiction of the court a quo because even in instances not allowed by law, a warrantless arrest
is not a jurisdictional defect and any objection thereto is waived when the person arrested submits to arraignment without any objection,
as in this case. EcHaAC

DECISION

BELLOSILLO, J p:

ON AUTOMATIC REVIEW is the decision of the court a quo finding accused Joselito del Rosario y Pascual guilty as co-principal in the
crime of Robbery with Homicide and sentencing him to death, and to pay the heirs of victim Virginia Bernas P550,000.00 as actual
damages and P100,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages. 1

 
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Joselito del Rosario y Pascual, Ernesto Marquez alias "Jun," Virgilio Santos alias "Boy Santos" and John Doe alias "Dodong" were
charged with the special complex crime of Robbery with Homicide for having robbed Virginia Bernas, a 66-year old businesswoman, of
P200,000.00 in cash and jewelry and on the occasion thereof shot and killed her. 2

While accused Joselito del Rosario pleaded not guilty, 3 Virgilio "Boy" Santos and John Doe alias "Dodong" remained at large. Ernesto
"Jun" Marquez was killed in a police encounter. Only Joselito del Rosario was tried. llcd

These facts were established by the prosecution from the eyewitness account of tricycle driver Paul Vincent Alonzo: On 13 May 1996
between 6:00 and 6:30 in the evening, Alonzo stopped his tricycle by the side of Nita's Drugstore, General Luna St., Cabanatuan City,
when three women flagged him. Parked at a distance of about one and a-half (1½) meters in front of him was a tricycle driven by
accused Joselito del Rosario. At that point, Alonzo saw two (2) men and a woman grappling for possession of a bag. After taking hold
of the bag one of the two men armed with a gun started chasing a man who was trying to help the woman, while the other snatcher
kicked the woman sending her to the ground. Soon after, the armed man returned and while the woman was still on the ground he shot
her on the head. The bag taken by the man was brought to the tricycle of accused del Rosario where someone inside received the bag.
The armed man then sat behind the driver while his companion entered the sidecar. When the tricycle sped away Alonzo gave chase
and was able to get the plate number of the tricycle. He also recognized the driver, after which he went to the nearest police
headquarters and reported the incident. 4

Accused Joselito del Rosario gave his own version of the incident: At around 5:30 in the afternoon he was hired for P120.00 5 by a
certain "Boy" Santos, 6 his co-accused. Their original agreement was that he would drive him to a cockpit at the Blas Edward Coliseum.
7 However despite their earlier arrangement Boy Santos directed him to proceed to the market place to fetch "Jun" Marquez and

"Dodong" Bisaya. He (del Rosario) acceded. 8 Marquez and Bisaya boarded in front of the parking lot of Merced Drugstore at the public
market. 9 Subsequently, he was asked to proceed and stop at the corner of Burgos and General Luna Sts. where Bisaya alighted on the
pretext of buying a cigarette. The latter then accosted the victim Virginia Bernas and grappled with her for the possession of her bag.
Jun Marquez alighted from the tricycle to help "Dodong" Bisaya. 10 Accused del Rosario tried to leave and seek help but "Boy Santos"
who stayed inside the tricycle prevented him from leaving and threatened in fact to shoot him. cdtai

Meanwhile, "Dodong" Bisaya succeeded in taking the victim's bag, but before boarding the tricycle "Jun" Marquez mercilessly shot the
victim on the head while she was lying prone on the ground. After the shooting, "Dodong" Bisaya boarded the sidecar of the tricycle
while "Jun" Marquez rode behind del Rosario and ordered him to start the engine and drive towards Dicarma. While inside his tricycle,
del Rosario overheard his passengers saying that they would throw the bag at Zulueta St. where there were cogon grasses. 11 Upon
arriving at Dicarma, the three (3) men alighted and warned del Rosario not to inform the police authorities about the incident otherwise
he and his family would be harmed. 12 Del Rosario then went home. 13Because of the threat, however, he did not report the matter to
the owner of the tricycle nor to the barangay captain and the police. 14

As earlier stated, the court a quo found accused Joselito del Rosario guilty as charged and sentenced him to death. He now contends
in this automatic review that the court a quo erred in: (1) Not finding the presence of threat and irresistible force employed upon him by
his co-accused Virgilio "Boy" Santos, Ernesto "Jun" Marquez and "Dodong" Bisaya; (2) Not considering his defense that he was not part
of the conspiracy among co-accused "Boy" Santos, "Jun" Marquez and "Dodong" Bisaya to commit the crime of Robbery with
Homicide; (3) Not considering the violations on his constitutional rights as an accused; and, (4) Not considering that there was no lawful
warrantless arrest within the meaning of Sec. 5, Rule 113, of the Rules of Court. 15

The conviction of del Rosario must be set aside. His claim for exemption from criminal liability under Art. 12, par. 5, Revised Penal
Code as he acted under the compulsion of an irresistible force must be sustained. He was then unarmed and unable to protect himself
when he was prevented at gunpoint by his co-accused from leaving the crime scene during the perpetration of the robbery and killing,
and was only forced to help them escape after the commission of the crime. 16

But the trial court ruled that his fear was merely speculative, fanciful and remote, hence, could not be considered uncontrollable; and
that a gun pointed at him did not constitute irresistible force because it fell short of the test required by law and jurisprudence. 17

We disagree. A person who acts under the compulsion of an irresistible force, like one who acts under the impulse of an uncontrollable
fear of equal or greater injury, is exempt from criminal liability because he does not act with freedom. Actus me invito factus non est
meus actus. An act done by me against my will is not my act. The force contemplated must be so formidable as to reduce the actor to a
mere instrument who acts not only without will but against his will. The duress, force, fear or intimidation must be present, imminent and
impending; and of such nature as to induce a well-grounded apprehension of death or serious bodily harm if the act be done. A threat of
future injury is not enough. The compulsion must be of such a character as to leave no opportunity for the accused for escape or
self-defense in equal combat. 18

As a rule, it is natural for people to be seized by fear when threatened with weapons, even those less powerful than a gun, such as
knives and clubs. People will normally, usually and probably do what an armed man asks them to do, nothing more, nothing less. In the
instant case, del Rosario was threatened with a gun. He could not therefore be expected to flee nor risk his life to help a stranger. A
person under the same circumstances would be more concerned with his personal welfare and security rather than the safety of a
person whom he only saw for the first time that day. 19

Corollary with the defense of del Rosario, we hold that the trial court erred when it said that it was "Boy" Santos who left the tricycle to
chase the companion of the victim and then shot the victim on the head, instantly killing her. 20 A careful and meticulous scrutiny of the
transcripts and records of the case, particularly the testimonies of witness Alonzo and del Rosario himself, reveals that it was "Jun"
Marquez who ran after the victim's helper and fired at the victim. Witness Alonzo testified on direct examination —

Q: What was that unusual incident that transpired in that place at that time?

A: I saw two men and a lady grappling for the possession of a bag, sir . . .

 
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Q: What happened after the bag of the lady was grabbed by two men?

A: One helper of the lady was chased by the other man, sir.

Q: Who was that man who chased the helper of the lady?

A: He was the one holding the gun, sir . . .

Q: What happened when the bag of the woman was already taken by the two men who grappled the same from her?

A: The man who chased the helper of the lady returned to the scene while the other man was then kicking the lady who
in turn fell to the ground, sir. cdasia

Q: What happened to the lady who fell to the ground?

A: The man who chased the helper of the lady returned and then shot the woman who was then lying on the ground, sir
...

Q: What about the bag, what happened to the bag?

A: The bag was taken to a motorcycle, sir.

Q: Will you please state before the Court what you noticed from the tricycle which was at a distance of about one a half
meter?

A: There was a passenger inside the tricycle, sir . . .

Q: What happened to that woman that was shot by the man who grappled for the possession of the bag?

A: She was no longer moving and lying down, sir.

Q: After the shooting by one of the two men of the woman what else happened?

A: They went away, sir . . .

Q: Will you please tell the Court in what portion of the tricycle did these men sit in the tricycle?

A: The man who was holding the gun sat himself behind the driver while the other man entered the sidecar, sir. 21

On the continuation of his direct examination, after an ocular inspection on the crime scene conducted by the trial court, witness Alonzo
categorically stated —

Q: Will you please tell us where in particular did you see the accused who was then holding the gun fired at the victim?

A: At the time one man was kicking the victim it was then his other companion holding a gun chased the helper of the
deceased going towards Burgos Avenue, sir.

Q: What happen (sic) afterwards?

A: The man with the gun returned and then while the victim was lying down in this spot the man holding a gun shot the
victim, sir. 22

On cross-examination, the same witness further clarified —

Q: So, you saw the two other accused returned back to the tricycle?

A: Yes, sir. LLphil

Q: And one of their companion was already inside the tricycle?

xxx xxx xxx

Court:

There was somebody inside the tricycle where the handbag was given.

xxx xxx xxx

A: Yes, sir.

Q: And the one who sat at the back of the tricycle driver was the person with the gun?

A: Yes, sir. 23

On the other hand, accused Del Rosario declared during the direct examination that —

Q: . . . . On the evening of May 13,1996 you were the driver of the tricycle as testified to by Eduardo Nalagon?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Now, you also heard that there was a shoot out near the Cathedral and the Nita's Drugstore at Gen. Tinio St.?

A: Yes, sir.

xxx xxx xxx

Court:

 
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At that time you were seated at the tricycle, which tricycle was used by the assailants?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Then what did you do?

A: I tried to escape, sir, but I was stopped by them.

Q: When you said "they" to whom are you referring?

A: Boy Santos and Jun Marquez, sir.

Q: And at that time where was Boy Santos?

A: He was inside the tricycle, sir.

Q: And what about Jun Marquez?

A: He alighted from the tricycle and helped him grabbed (sic) the bag of the victim.

Q: And was the bag grabbed and by whom?

A: Yes, sir, by Dodong Visaya was able to grab the bag.

Q: And after that what happened?

A: Both of them rode inside my tricycle, sir.

Court:

Did you not see any shooting?

A: There was, sir.

Q: Who was shot?

A: Jun Marquez shot the woman, sir . . .

Q: When the bag of the woman was being grabbed you know that what was transpiring was wrong and illegal?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: But you did not try to leave?

A: I tried to leave but Boy Santos who was inside my tricycle prevented me.

Q: During that time before you leave (sic) how many firearms did you see?

A: Two firearms, sir, one in the possession of Boy (Jun?) Marquez and one in the possession of Boy Santos . . .

Q: And at the time when the shooting took place where was Boy Santos?

A: He was still inside my tricycle, sir.

Q: And during the shooting when Boy Santos was inside the tricycle and when you tried to escape that was the time
when Boy Santos threatened you if you will escape something will happen to your family?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: After the shooting who first boarded the tricycle, Boy (Jun?) Marquez or Dodong Visaya?

A: Dodong Visaya, sir .

Q: And immediately thereafter Jun Marquez boarded your tricycle sitting at your back?

A: Yes, sir. 24

On cross-examination, accused further stated —

Q: After stopping in that place for one minute what else happened?

A: I saw Dodong Bisaya grabbing the bag of the woman, sir.

Q: How about your two companions, what are (sic) they doing while Dodong Bisaya was grabbing the bag of the
woman?

A: Jun Marquez was helping Dodong Bisaya, sir.

Q: What happened after Jun Marquez helped Dodong Bisaya?

A: I heard a gunshot and I saw the woman lying down . . .

Q: You could have ran away to seek the help of the police or any private persons?

A: I was not able to ask for help because Boy Santos pointed his gun to me, sir.

Q: Was the gun being carried by Boy Santos, is the one that is used in shooting the old woman?

A: No, sir . . .

 
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Q: Where was Boy Santos when Dodong Bisaya and Jun Marquez were grappling for the possession of the handbag?

A: He was then inside the tricycle, sir . . . 25

Q: Mr. Witness, you testified that the reason why you just cannot leave the area where the incident occurred is because
a gun was pointed to you by Boy Santos and he was telling you that you should not do anything against their
will, they will kill you and your family will be killed also, is that correct?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Now, is it not a fact that at the time you stop (sic) your tricycle which was loaded by your other three co-accused in
this case, all of them alighted and that Boy Santos ran after a helper of the victim going towards the public
market along Burgos Street?

A: He did not alight from the tricycle, sir.

Court:

Are you quite sure of that?

A: Yes, sir. 26

Del Rosario maintains that "Boy" Santos never left the tricycle and that the latter pointed his gun at him and threatened to shoot if he
tried to escape. He also asserts that it was "Jun" Marquez who shot the victim and sat behind him in the tricycle. LLjur

From the narration of witness Alonzo, these events stood out: that after the bag of the victim was grabbed, her male helper was chased
by a man holding a gun; that the gunwielder returned and shot the victim and then sat behind the driver of the tricycle; and, that the bag
was given to a person who was inside the tricycle. Taking the testimony of witness Alonzo in juxtaposition with the testimony of del
Rosario, it can be deduced that "Jun" Marquez was the person witness Alonzo was referring to when he mentioned that a helper of the
lady was chased "by the other man," and that this "other man" could not be "Boy" Santos .who stayed inside the tricycle and to whom
the bag was handed over. This conclusion gives credence to the claim of del Rosario that "Boy" Santos never left the tricycle, and to his
allegation that "Boy" Santos stayed inside the tricycle precisely to threaten him with violence and to prevent him from fleeing; that there
could have been no other plausible reason for "Boy" Santos to stay in the tricycle if the accused was indeed a conspirator; that "Boy"
Santos could have just left the tricycle and helped in the commission of the crime, particularly when he saw the victim grappling with
"Dodong" Bisaya and resisting the attempts to grab her bag; and, that "Boy" Santos opted to remain inside the tricycle to fulfill his
preordained role of threatening del Rosario and insuring that he would not escape and leave them behind. 27

Even if the tricycle of del Rosario was only parked one meter and a half (1-½) in front of the tricycle of witness Alonzo, the latter still
could not have totally seen and was not privy to events that were transpiring inside the vehicle, i.e., the pointing of the gun by "Boy"
Santos at del Rosario simultaneously with the robbing and shooting of the victim. From the exhibits submitted by the prosecution panel
the back of the sidecar of del Rosario tricycle was not transparent. 28

There is no doubt that the fear entertained by del Rosario because of the gun directly pointed at him was real and imminent. Such fear
rendered him immobile and subject to the will of Boy Santos, making him for the moment an automation without a will of his own. In
other words, in effect, he could not be any more than a mere instrument acting involuntarily and against his will. He is therefore exempt
from criminal liability since by reason of fear of bodily harm he was compelled against his will to transport his co-accused away from the
crime scene.

On the issue of conspiracy, the trial court anchored del Rosario's conviction on his participation in the orchestrated acts of "Boy"
Santos, "Jun" Marquez and "Dodong" Bisaya. According to the trial court, del Rosario facilitated the escape of the other malefactors
from the crime scene and conspiracy between accused and his passengers was evident because "while the grappling of the bag, the
chasing of the helper of the victim and the shooting that led to the death of Virginia Bernas were happening, accused Joselito del
Rosario was riding on his tricycle and the engine of the motor was running;" 29 that the "accused did not deny that the tricycle driven by
him and under his control was hired and used by his co-accused in the commission of the crime; neither did he deny his failure to report
to the authorities the incident of robbery, killing and fleeing away from the scene of the crime." 30

We disagree with the trial court. A conspiracy in the statutory language exists when two or more persons come to an agreement
concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. The objective of the conspirators is to perform an act or omission
punishable by law. That must be their intent. There is need for "concurrence of wills" or "unity of action and purpose" or for "common
and joint purpose and design." Its manifestation could be shown by "united and concerted action." 31

Admittedly, direct proof is not essential to establish conspiracy. Since by its nature conspiracy is planned in utmost secrecy, it can rarely
be proved by direct evidence. Consequently, the presence of the concurrence of minds which is involved in conspiracy may be inferred
from proof of facts and circumstances which, taken together, apparently indicate that they are merely parts of some complete whole. If it
is proved that two or more persons aimed by their acts towards the accomplishment of the same unlawful object, each doing a part so
that their combined acts, though apparently independent, were in fact connected and cooperative, indicating a closeness of personal
association and a concurrence of sentiment, a conspiracy may be inferred though no actual meeting among them to concert means is
proved. That would be termed an implied conspiracy. 32 Nevertheless, mere knowledge, acquiescence or approval of the act, without
the cooperation or agreement to cooperate, is not enough to constitute one a party to a conspiracy, but that there must be intentional
participation in the transaction with a view to the furtherance of the common design and purpose. Conspiracy must be established, not
by conjectures, but by positive and conclusive evidence. In fact, the same degree of proof necessary to establish the crime is required
to support a finding of the presence of a criminal conspiracy, which is, proof beyond reasonable doubt. 33

 
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In the instant case, while del Rosario admits that he was at the locus criminis as he was the driver of the getaway vehicle, he
nonetheless rebuts the imputation of guilt against him by asserting that he had no inkling of the malevolent design of his co-accused to
rob and kill since he was not given any briefing thereof . He was merely hired by Boy Santos to drive to an agreed destination and he
was prevented at gunpoint from leaving the scene of the crime since he was ordered to help them escape. cdlex

In this case, the trial court stated that "there is no evidence that the accused came to an agreement concerning the commission of the
felony and decided to commit the same." 34Therefore, in order to convict the accused, the presence of an implied conspiracy is required
to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. However, the fact that del Rosario was with the other accused when the crime was committed
is insufficient proof to show cabal. Mere companionship does not establish conspiracy. 35 The only incriminating evidence against del
Rosario is that he was at the scene of the crime but he has amply explained the reason for his presence and the same has not been
successfully refuted by the prosecution. As stated earlier, he feared for his safety and security because of the threat made by his
co-accused that he would be killed should he shout for help. No complicity can be deduced where there is absolutely no showing that
the accused directly participated in the overt act of robbing and shooting although he was with the persons who robbed and killed the
victim. 36

That del Rosario did not disclose what he knew about the incident to the authorities, to his employer or to the barangay captain does
not affect his credibility. The natural hesitance of most people to get involved in a criminal case is of judicial notice. 37 It must be recalled
that del Rosario was merely a tricycle driver with a family to look after. Given his quite limited means, del Rosario understandably did
not want to get involved in the case so he chose to keep his silence. Besides, he was threatened with physical harm should he squeal.

Del Rosario further contends that there was violation of his right to remain silent, right to have competent and independent counsel
preferably of his own choice, and right to be informed of these rights as enshrined and guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. 38 As testified to
by SPO4 Geronimo de Leon, the prosecution witness who was the team leader of the policemen who investigated the 13 May incident,
during his cross-examination —

Upon finding the name of the owner of the tricycle, they proceeded to Bakod Bayan in the house of the barangay captain where
the owner of the tricycle was summoned and who in turn revealed the driver's name and was invited for interview. The driver was
accused Joselito del Rosario who volunteered to name his passengers on May 13, 1996. On the way to the police station,
accused informed them of the bag and lunch kit's location and the place where the hold-uppers may be found and they reported
these findings to their officers, Capt. Biag and Capt. Cruz. After lunch, they proceeded to Brgy. Dicarma composed of 15 armed
men where a shoot-out transpired that lasted from 1:00 to 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon. After a brief encounter, they went inside
the house where they found Marquez dead holding a magazine and a gun. While all of these were happening, accused del
Rosario was at the back of the school, after which they went back to the police station. The investigator took the statement of the
accused on May 14,1996, and was only subscribed on May 22,1996. All the while, he was detained in the police station as
ordered by the Fiscal. His statements were only signed on May 16, 1996. He also executed a waiver of his detention. His
Sinumpaang Salaysay was done with the assistance of Ex-Judge Talavera. 39

A further perusal of the transcript reveals that during the encounter at Brgy. Dicarma, del Rosario was handcuffed by the police
because allegedly they had already gathered enough evidence against him and they were afraid that he might attempt to escape. 40
Custodial investigation is the stage where the police investigation is no longer a general inquiry into an unsolved crime but has begun to
focus on a particular suspect taken into custody by the police who carry out a process of interrogation that lends itself to elicit
incriminating statements. It is well-settled that it encompasses any question initiated by law enforcers after a person has been taken
into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way. 41 This concept of custodial investigation has been
broadened by RA 7438 42 to include "the practice of issuing an 'invitation' to a person who is investigated in connection with an offense
he is suspected to have committed." Section 2 of the same Act further provides that —

. . . Any public officer or employee, or anyone acting under his order or in his place, who arrests, detains or investigates any
person for the commission of an offense shall inform the latter, in a language known and understood by him, of his right to remain
silent and to have competent and independent counsel, preferably of his own choice, who shall at all times be allowed to confer
privately with the person arrested, detained or under custodial investigation. If such person cannot afford the services of his own
counsel, he must be provided with a competent and independent counsel by the investigating officer. cdll

From the foregoing, it is clear that del Rosario was deprived of his rights during custodial investigation. From the time he was "invited"
for questioning at the house of the barangay captain, he was already under effective custodial investigation, but he was not apprised
nor made aware thereof by the investigating officers. The police already knew the name of the tricycle driver and the latter was already
a suspect in the robbing and senseless slaying of Virginia Bernas. Since the prosecution failed to establish that del Rosario had waived
his right to remain silent, his verbal admissions on his participation in the crime even before his actual arrest were inadmissible against
him, as the same transgressed the safeguards provided by law and the Bill of Rights.

Del Rosario also avers that his arrest was unlawful since there was no warrant therefor. Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court
provides: 43

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 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 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.

It must be recalled that del Rosario was arrested by SPO4 De Leon during the police raid at the place of "Jun" Marquez at Brgy.
Dicarma on 14 May 1996. In People vs. Sucro 44 we held that when a police officer sees the offense, although at a distance, or hears
the disturbances created thereby, and proceeds at once to the scene thereof, he may effect an arrest without a warrant on the basis of
Sec. 5, par. (a), Rule 113, since the offense is deemed committed in his presence or within his view. In essence, Sec. 5, par. (a), Rule
113, requires that the accused be caught in flagrante delicto or caught immediately after the consummation of the act. The arrest of del
 
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Rosario is obviously outside the purview of the aforequoted rule since he was arrested on the day following the commission of the
robbery with homicide.

On the other hand, Sec. 5, par. (b), Rule 113, necessitates two (2) stringent requirements before a warrantless arrest can be effected:
(1) an offense has just been committed; and, (2) the person making the arrest has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the
person to be arrested had committed it. Hence, there must be a large measure of immediacy between the time the offense was
committed and the time of the arrest, and if there was an appreciable lapse of time between the arrest and the commission of the crime,
a warrant of arrest must be secured. Aside from the sense of immediacy, it is also mandatory that the person making the arrest must
have personal knowledge of certain facts indicating that the person to be taken into custody has committed the crime. 45 Again, the
arrest of del Rosario does not comply with these requirements since, as earlier explained, the arrest came a day after the
consummation of the crime and not immediately thereafter. As such, the crime had not been "just committed'' at the time the accused
was arrested. Likewise, the arresting officers had no personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested had
committed the offense since they were not present and were not actual eyewitnesses to the crime, and they became aware of his
identity as the driver of the getaway tricycle only during the custodial investigation. cda

However, the conspicuous illegality of del Rosario's arrest cannot affect the jurisdiction of the court a quo because even in instances not
allowed by law, a warrantless arrest is not a jurisdictional defect and any objection thereto is waived when the person arrested submits
to arraignment without any objection, as in this case. 46

A transgression of the law has occurred. Unfortunately, an innocent person lost her life and property in the process. Someone therefore
must be held accountable, but it will not be accused Joselito del Rosario; we must acquit him. Like victim Virginia Bernas, he too was a
hapless victim who was forcibly used by other persons with nefarious designs to perpetrate a dastardly act. Del Rosario's defense of
"irresistible force" has been substantiated by clear and convincing evidence. On the other hand, conspiracy between him and his
co-accused was not proved beyond a whimper of a doubt by the prosecution, thus clearing del Rosario of any complicity in the crime
charged.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City convicting accused JOSELITO DEL ROSARIO Y PASCUAL
of Robbery with Homicide and sentencing him to death, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the accused is ACQUITTED of the crime
charged. His immediate RELEASE from confinement is ordered unless held for some other lawful cause. In this regard, the Director of
Prisons is directed to report to the Court his compliance herewith within five (5) days from receipt hereof. LLpr

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Romero, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes
and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

||| (People v. Del Rosario y Pascual, G.R. No. 127755, [April 14, 1999], 365 PHIL 292-313) 

11. Robin Padilla vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 121917, March 12, 1997 

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 121917. March 12, 1997.]

ROBIN CARIÑO PADILLA @ ROBINHOOD PADILLA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE of the
PHILIPPINES, respondents.

Raval and Lokin, Robert A. Padilla and Philip Jurado and R.A.V. Saguisag and Gina C. Garcia for petitioner.

The Solicitor General for respondents.

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; ARREST; WARRANTLESS ARREST; GROUNDS. — Warrantless arrests are
sanctioned in the following instances: "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; (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.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; "PRESENCE OF ARRESTING OFFICER OR PRIVATE PERSON"; PRESENCE DOES NOT ONLY REQUIRE THE
PERSON TO SEE THE OFFENSE BUT ALSO WHEN HE "HEARS THE DISTURBANCE CREATED AND PROCEEDS AT ONCE TO
THE SCENE"; CASE AT BAR. — Paragraph (a) requires that the person be arrested (i) after he has committed or while he is actually
committing or is at least attempting to commit an offense, (ii) in the presence of the arresting officer or private person. Both elements

 
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concurred here, as it has been established that petitioner's vehicle figured in a hit and run — an offense committed in the "presence" of
Manarang, a private person, who then sought to arrest petitioner. It must be stressed at this point that "presence" does not only require
that the arresting person sees the offense, but also when he "hears the disturbance created thereby AND proceeds at once to the
scene." As testified to by Manarang, he heard the screeching of tires followed by a thud, saw the sideswiped victim (balut vendor),
reported the incident to the police and thereafter gave chase to the erring Pajero vehicle using his motorcycle in order to apprehend its
driver. After having sent a radio report to the PNP for assistance, Manarang proceeded to the Abacan bridge where he found
responding policemen SPO2 Borja and SPO2 Miranda already positioned near the bridge who effected the actual arrest of petitioner.

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; RATIONALE. — It is appropriate to state at this juncture that a suspect, like petitioner herein, cannot defeat the
arrest which has been set in motion in a public place for want of a warrant as the police was confronted by an urgent need to render aid
or take action. The exigent circumstances of hot pursuit, a fleeing suspect, a moving vehicle, the public place and the raining nighttime
all created a situation in which speed is essential and delay improvident. The court acknowledges police authority to make the forcible
stop since they had more than mere "reasonable and articulable" suspicion that the occupant of the vehicle has been engaged in
criminal activity.

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; WHEN CAUGHT IN FLAGRANTE DELICTO. — When caught in flagrante delicto with possession of an unlicensed
arm (Smith & Wesson) and ammunition (M-16 magazine), petitioner's warrantless arrest was proper as he was again actually
committing another offense (illegal possession of firearm and ammunitions) and this time in the presence of a peace officer. Besides,
the policemen's warrantless arrest of petitioner could likewise be justified under paragraph (b) as he had in fact just committed an
offense. There was no supervening event or a considerable lapse of time between the hit and run and the actual apprehension.
Moreover, after having stationed themselves at the Abacan bridge in response to Manarang's report, the policemen saw for themselves
the fast approaching Pajero of petitioner, its dangling plate number (PMA 777 as reported by Manarang), and the dented hood and
railings thereof. These formed part of the arresting police officer's personal knowledge of the facts indicating that, petitioner's Pajero
was indeed the vehicle involved in the hit and run accident. Verily their, the arresting police officers acted upon verified personal
knowledge and not on unreliable hearsay information.

5. ID; ID.; ID.; OBJECTION, DEFECT OR IRREGULARITY MUST BE MADE BEFORE PLEA. — Any objection, defect or irregularity
attending an arrest must be made before the accused enters his plea. Petitioner's belated challenge thereto aside from his failure to
quash the information, his participation in the trial and by presenting his evidence, placed him in estoppel to assail the legality of his
arrest. Likewise, by applying for bail, petitioner patently waived such irregularities and defects.

6. ID.; ID.; WARRANTLESS SEARCH AND SEIZURE OF PROPERTY; WHEN VALID. — The five (5) well-settled instances when a
warrantless search and seizure of property is valid, are as follows: 1. warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest recognized under
Section 12, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court and by prevailing jurisprudence. 2. Seizure of evidence in "plain view," the elements of which
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 had the right to be where they are; (c). the evidence must be
immediately apparent, and (d). "plain view" justified mere seizure of evidence without further search. 3. search of a moving vehicle.
Highly regulated by the government, the vehicle's 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, and 5. customs search.

7. ID.; ID.; ID.; "PLAINVIEW" DOCTRINE; APPLIED IN CASE AT BAR. — The seizure of the Smith & Wesson revolver and an M-16
rifle magazine was justified for they came within "plain view" of the policemen who inadvertently discovered the revolver and magazine
tucked in petitioner's waist and back pocket respectively, when he raised his hands after alighting from his Pajero. The same
justification applies to the confiscation of the M-16 armalite rifle which was immediately apparent to the policemen as they took a casual
glance at the Pajero and saw said rifle lying horizontally near the driver's seat. Thus, it has been held that: "(W)hen in pursuing an
illegal action or in the commission of a criminal offense, the . . . police officers should happen to discover a criminal offense being
committed by any person, they are not precluded from performing their duties as police officers for the apprehension of the guilty
person and the taking of the corpus delicti."

8. ID.; ID.; ID.; VOLUNTARY SURRENDER OF FIREARM AND ASSORTED MAGAZINE, WAIVER OF RIGHT AGAINST ILLEGAL
SEARCH AND SEIZURE. — With respect to the Berreta pistol and a black bag containing assorted magazines, petitioner voluntarily
surrendered them to the police. This latter gesture of petitioner indicated a waiver of his right against the alleged search and seizure,
and that his failure to quash the information estopped him from assailing any purported defect.

9. ID.; ID.; SEARCH INCIDENTAL TO AN ARREST. — Even assuming that the firearms and ammunitions were products of an active
search done by the authorities on the person and vehicle of petitioner, their seizure without a search warrant nonetheless can still be
justified under a search incidental to a lawful arrest (first instance). Once the lawful arrest was effected, the police may undertake a
protective search of the passenger compartment and containers in the vehicle which are within petitioner's grabbing distance regardless
of the nature of the offense. This satisfied the two-tiered test of an incidental search: (i) the item to be searched (vehicle) was within the
arrestee's custody or area of immediate control and (ii) the search was contemporaneous with the arrest. The products of that search
are admissible evidence not excluded by the exclusionary rule. Another justification is a search of a moving vehicle (third instance). In
connection therewith, a warrantless search is constitutionally permissible when, as in this case, the officers conducting the search have
reasonable or probable cause to believe, before the search, that either the motorist is a law-offender (like herein petitioner with respect
to the hit and run) or the contents or cargo of the vehicle are or have been instruments or the subject matter or the proceeds of some
criminal offense.

10. CRIMINAL LAW; ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF FIREARM; REQUISITES. — In crimes involving illegal possession of firearm, two
requisites must be established, viz.: (1) the existence of the subject firearm and, (2) the fact that the accused who owned or possessed
the firearm does not have the corresponding license permit to possess.

 
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11. ID.; ID.; ID.; CASE AT BAR. — The first element is beyond dispute as the subject firearms and ammunitions were seized from
petitioner's possession via a valid warrantless search, identified and offered in evidence during trial. As to the second element, the
same was convincingly proven by the prosecution. Indeed, petitioner's purported Mission Order and Memorandum Receipt are inferior
in the face of the more formidable evidence for the prosecution as our meticulous review of the records reveals that the Mission Order
and Memorandum Receipt were mere afterthoughts contrived and issued under suspicious circumstances.

12. ID.; ID.; TESTIMONY OF REPRESENTATIVE OR CERTIFICATION FROM PNP-FEO THAT A PERSON IS NOT A LICENSEE OF
ANY FIREARM, SUFFICIENT TO PROVE SECOND ELEMENT. — In several occasions, the Court has ruled that either the testimony
of a representative of, or a certification from, the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) attesting that a person is not a licensee of
any firearm would suffice to prove beyond reasonable doubt the second element of illegal possession of firearm. In People vs. Tobias,
we reiterated that such certification is sufficient to show that a person has in fact no license.

13. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; FINDINGS OF FACT OF THE TRIAL COURT, GENERALLY ACCORDED RESPECT AND FINALITY
ON APPEAL. — The fact that petitioner does not have the license or permit to possess was overwhelmingly proven by the prosecution.
The certification may even be dispensed with in the light of the evidence that an M-16 rifle and any short firearm higher than a .38
caliber pistol, akin to the confiscated firearms cannot be licensed to a civilian, as in the case of petitioner. The Court entertains no doubt
in affirming petitioner's conviction especially as we find no plausible reason, and none was presented, to depart from the factual findings
of both the trial court and respondent court which, as a rule, are accorded by the Court with respect and finality.

14. CRIMINAL LAW, OFFENSES, COURTS ARE BOUND TO APPLY GOVERNING LAW AT THE TIME OF COMMISSION OF
OFFENSE. — The trial court and the respondent court are bound to apply the governing law at the time of appellant's commission of
the offense for it is a rule that laws are repealed only by subsequent ones. Indeed, it is the duty of judicial officers to respect and apply
the law as it stands. And until its repeal, respondent court can not be faulted for applying P.D. 1866 which abrogated the previous
statutes adverted to by petitioner.

15. POLITICAL LAW; CONSTITUTION; BILL OF RIGHTS; CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT; PENALTY FOR ILLEGAL
POSSESSION OF FIREARMS, NOT EMBRACED THEREIN. — Equally lacking in merit is appellant's allegation that the penalty for
simple illegal possession is unconstitutional. The penalty for simple possession of firearm, it should be stressed, ranges fromreclusion
temporal maximum to reclusion perpetua contrary to appellant's erroneous averment. The severity of a penalty does not ipso facto
make the same cruel and excessive. "It takes more than merely being harsh, excessive, out of proportion, or severe for a penalty to be
obnoxious to the Constitution. 'The fact that the punishment authorized by the statute is severe does not make it cruel and unusual.' (24
C.J.S., 1187-1188). Expressed in other terms, it has been held that to come under the ban, the punishment must be 'flagrantly and
plainly oppressive,' wholly disproportionate to the nature of the offense as to shock the moral sense of the community.'" It is well-settled
that as far as the constitutional prohibition goes, it is not so much the extent as the nature of the punishment that determines whether it
is, or is not, cruel and unusual and that sentences of imprisonment, though perceived to be harsh, are not cruel or unusual if within
statutory limits.

16. ID.; ID.; LAWS ON ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF FIREARMS, CONSTITUTIONAL. — Every law has in its favor the presumption of
constitutionality. The burden of proving the invalidity of the statute in question lies with the appellant which burden, we note, was not
convincingly discharged. To justify nullification of the law, there must be a clear and unequivocal breach ofthe Constitution, not a
doubtful and argumentative implication, as in this case. In fact, the constitutionality of P.D. 1866 has been upheld twice by this Court.
Just recently, the Court declared that "the pertinent laws on illegal possession of firearms [are not] contrary to any provision of the
Constitution. . ."

17. REMEDIAL LAW; COURT; NOT CONCERNED WITH THE WISDOM OR MORALITY OF LAWS. — Appellant's grievance on the
wisdom of the prescribed penalty should not be addressed to us. Courts are not concerned with the wisdom, efficacy or morality of
laws. That question falls exclusively within the province of Congress which enacts them and the Chief Executive who approves or
vetoes them. The only function of the courts, we reiterate, is to interpret and apply the laws.

18. CRIMINAL LAW; ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF FIREARMS; MINIMUM PENALTY. — With respect to the penalty imposed by the trial
court as affirmed by respondent court (17 years 4 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal as minimum, to 21 years of reclusion
perpetua, as maximum), we reduce the same in line with the fairly recent case of People v. Lian where the Court en banc provided that
the indeterminate penalty imposable for simple illegal possession of firearm, without any mitigating or aggravating circumstance, should
be within the range of ten (10) years and one (1) day to twelve (12) years of prision mayor, as minimum, to eighteen (18) years, eight
(8) months and one (1) day to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum.

DECISION

FRANCISCO, J p:

On October 26, 1992, high-powered firearms with live ammunitions were found in the possession of petitioner Robin @ Robinhood
Padilla, i.e.:

"(1) One .357 Caliber revolver, Smith and Wesson, SN-32919 with six (6) live ammunitions;

"(2) One M-16 Baby Armalite rifle, SN-RP 131120 with four (4) long and one (1) short magazine with ammunitions;

 
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"(3) One .380 Pietro Beretta, SN-A 35723 Y with clip and eight (8) ammunitions; and

"(4) Six additional live double action ammunitions of .38 caliber revolver." 1

Petitioner was correspondingly charged on December 3, 1992, before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Angeles City with illegal
possession of firearms and ammunitions under P.D. 1866 2thru the following Information: 3

"That on or about the 26th day of October, 1992, in the City of Angeles, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession and under his
custody and control one (1) M-16 Baby Armalite rifle, SN-RP 131120 with four (4) long and one (1) short magazines with
ammunitions, one (1) .357 caliber revolver Smith and Wesson, SN-32919 with six (6) live ammunitions and one (1) 380 Pietro
Beretta, SN-A35723Y with clip and eight (8) ammunitions, without having the necessary authority and permit to carry and possess
the same.

ALL CONTRARY TO LAW." 4

The lower court then ordered the arrest of petitioner, 5 but granted his application for bail. 6 During the arraignment on January 20,
1993, a plea of not guilty was entered for petitioner after he refused, 7 upon advice of counsel, 8 to make any plea. 9 Petitioner waived in
writing his right to be present in any and all stages of the case. 10

After trial, Angeles City RTC Judge David Rosete rendered judgment dated April 25, 1994 convicting petitioner of the crime charged
and sentenced him to an "indeterminate penalty from 17 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal as minimum, to 21 years of
reclusion perpetua, as maximum". 11 Petitioner filed his notice of appeal on April 28, 1994. 12 Pending the appeal in the respondent
Court of Appeals, 13 the Solicitor-General, convinced that the conviction shows strong evidence of guilt, filed on December 2, 1994 a
motion to cancel petitioner's bail bond. The resolution of this motion was incorporated in the now assailed respondent court's decision
sustaining petitioner's conviction, 14 the dispositive portion of which reads:

"WHEREFORE, the foregoing circumstances considered, the appealed decision is hereby AFFIRMED, and furthermore, the
P200,000.00 bailbond posted by accused-appellant for his provisional liberty, FGU Insurance Corporation Bond No. JCR (2)
6523, is hereby cancelled. The Regional Trial Court, Branch 61, Angeles City, is directed to issue the Order of Arrest of
accused-appellant and thereafter his transmittal to the National Bureau of Prisons thru the Philippine National Police where the
said accused-appellant shall remain under confinement pending resolution of his appeal, should he appeal to the Supreme Court.
This shall be immediately executory. The Regional Trial Court is further directed to submit a report of compliance herewith.

SO ORDERED. 15

Petitioner received a copy of this decision on July 26, 1995. 16 On August 9, 1995 he filed a "motion for reconsideration (and to recall
the warrant of arrest)" 17 but the same was denied by respondent court in its September 20, 1995 Resolution, 18 copy of which was
received by, petitioner on September 27, 1995. The next day, September 28, petitioner filed the instant petition for review on certiorari
with application for bail 19 followed by two "supplemental petitions" filed by different counsels, 20 a "second supplemental petition" 21 and
an urgent motion for the separate resolution of his application for bail. Again, the Solicitor-General 22 sought the denial of the application
for bail, to which the Court agreed in a Resolution promulgated on July 31, 1996. 23 The Court also granted the Solicitor-General's
motion to file a consolidated comment on the petitions and thereafter required the petitioner to file his reply. 24 However, after his
vigorous resistance and success on the intramural of bail (both in the respondent court and this Court) and thorough exposition of
petitioner's guilt in his 55-page Brief in the respondent court, the Solicitor-General now makes a complete turnabout by filing a
"Manifestation In Lieu Of Comment" praying for petitioner's acquittal. 25

The People's detailed narration of facts, well-supported by evidence on record and given credence by respondent court, is as follows: 26

"At about 8:00 o'clock in the evening of October 26, 1992, Enrique Manarang and his compadre Danny Perez were inside the
Manukan sa Highway Restaurant in Sto. Kristo, Angeles City where they took shelter from the heavy downpour (pp. 5-6, TSN,
February 15, 1993) that had interrupted their ride on motorcycles (pp. 5-6, ibid.) along Mac Arthur Highway (ibid). While inside the
restaurant, Manarang noticed a vehicle, a Mitsubishi Pajero, running fast down the highway prompting him to remark that the
vehicle might get into an accident considering the inclement weather. (p. 7, Ibid.) In the local vernacular, he said thus: 'Ka bilis na,
mumuran pa naman pota makaaksidente ya.' (p. 7, ibid.). True enough, immediately after the vehicle had passed the restaurant,
Manarang and Perez heard a screeching sound produced by the sudden and hard braking of a vehicle running very fast (pp. 7-8,
ibid.) followed by a sickening sound of the vehicle hitting something (p. 8, ibid.). Danny Cruz, quite sure of what had happened,
remarked 'oy ta na' signifying that Manarang had been right in his observation (pp. 8-9, ibid).

"Manarang and Cruz went out to investigate and immediately saw the vehicle occupying the edge or shoulder of the highway
giving it a slight tilt to its side (pp. 9-10, ibid). Manarang, being a member of both the Spectrum, a civic group and the Barangay
Disaster Coordinating Council, decided to report the incident to the Philippine National Police of Angeles City (p. 10, ibid.). He
took out his radio and called the Viper, the radio controller of the Philippine National Police of Angeles City (p. 10, ibid.). By the
time Manarang completed the call, the vehicle had started to leave the place of the accident taking the general direction to the
north (p. 11, ibid).

"Manarang went to the location of the accident and found out that the vehicle had hit somebody (p. 11, ibid).

"He asked Cruz to look after the victim while he went back to the restaurant, rode on his motorcycle and chased the vehicle (p. 11,
ibid.). During the chase he was able to make out the plate number of the vehicle as PMA 777 (p. 33, TSN, February 15, 1993). He
called the Viper through the radio once again (p. 34, ibid.) reporting that a vehicle heading north with plate number PMA 777 was
involved in a hit and run accident (p. 20, TSN, June 8, 1993). The Viper, in the person of SPO2 Ruby Buan, upon receipt of the
second radio call flashed the message to all units of PNP Angeles City with the order to apprehend the vehicle (p. 20, ibid.). One
of the units of the PNP Angeles City reached by the alarm was its Patrol Division at Jake Gonzales Street near the Traffic Division
(pp. 5-7, TSN, February 23, 1993). SPO2 Juan C. Borja III and SPO2 Emerlito Miranda immediately boarded a mobile patrol
vehicle (Mobile No. 3) and positioned themselves near the south approach of Abacan bridge since it was the only passable way

 
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going to the north (pp. 8-9, ibid.). It took them about ten (10) seconds to cover the distance between their office and the Abacan
bridge (p. 9, ibid).

"Another PNP mobile patrol vehicle that responded to the flash message from SPO2 Buan was Mobile No. 7 of the
Pulongmaragal Detachment which was then conducting patrol along Don Juico Avenue (pp. 8-9, TSN, March 8, 1993). On board
were SPO Ruben Mercado and SPO3 Tan and SPO2 Odejar (p. 8, ibid.). SPO Ruben Mercado immediately told SPO3 Tan to
proceed to the MacArthur Highway to intercept the vehicle with plate number PMA 777 (p. 10, ibid).

"In the meantime, Manarang continued to chase the vehicle which figured in the hit and run incident, even passing through a
flooded portion of the MacArthur Highway two (2) feet deep in front of the Iglesia ni Kristo church but he could not catch up with
the same vehicle (pp. 11-12, February 15, 1993). When he saw that the car he was chasing went towards Magalang, he
proceeded to Abacan bridge because he knew Pulongmaragal was not passable (pp. 12-14, ibid.). When he reached the Abacan
bridge, he found Mobile No. 3 and SPO2 Borja and SPO2 Miranda watching all vehicles coming their way (p. 10, TSN, February
23, 1993). He approached them and informed them that there was a hit and run incident (p. 10, ibid.). Upon learning that the two
police officers already knew about the incident, Manarang went back to where he came from (pp. 10-11; ibid.). When Manarang
was in front of Tina's Restaurant, he saw the vehicle that had figured in the hit and run incident emerging from the corner
adjoining Tina's Restaurant (p. 15, TSN, February 15, 1993). He saw that the license plate hanging in front of the vehicle bore the
identifying number PMA 777 and he followed it (p. 15, ibid.) towards the Abacan bridge.

"Soon the vehicle was within sight of SPO2 Borja and SPO2 Miranda of Mobile No. 3 (p. 10, TSN, February 23, 1993). When the
vehicle was about twelve (12) meters away from their position, the two police officers boarded their Mobile car, switched on the
engine, operated the siren and strobe light and drove out to intercept the vehicle (p. 11, ibid.). They cut into the path of the vehicle
forcing it to stop (p. 11, ibid).

"SPO2 Borja and SPO2 Miranda alighted from Mobile No. 3 (p. 12, TSN, February 23, 1993). SPO2 Miranda went to the vehicle
with plate number PMA 777 and instructed its driver to alight (p. 12, ibid.). The driver rolled down the window and put his head out
while raising both his hands. They recognized the driver as Robin C. Padilla, appellant in this case (p. 13, ibid.). There was no
one else with him inside the vehicle (p. 24). At that moment, Borja noticed that Manarang arrived and stopped his motorcycle
behind the vehicle of appellant (p. 14, ibid). SPO2 Miranda told appellant to alight to which appellant complied. Appellant was
wearing a short leather jacket (p. 16, TSN, March 8, 1993) such that when he alighted with both his hands raised, a gun (Exhibit
'C') tucked on the left side of his waist was revealed (p. 15; TSN, February 23, 1993), its butt protruding (p. 15, ibid.). SPO2 Borja
made the move to confiscate the gun but appellant held the former' s hand alleging that the gun was covered by legal papers (p.
16, ibid.). SPO2 Borja, however, insisted that if the gun really was covered by legal papers, it would have to be shown in the office
(p. 16, ibid.). After disarming appellant, SPO2 Borja told him about the hit and run incident which was angrily denied by appellant
(p. 17, ibid.). By that time, a crowd had formed at the place (p. 19, ibid.). SPO2 Borja checked the cylinder of the gun and find six
(6) live bullets inside (p. 20, ibid).

"While SPO2 Borja and appellant were arguing, Mobile No. 7 with SPO Ruben Mercado, SPO3 Tan and SPO2 Odejar on board
arrived (pp. 11-12, TSN, March 8, 1993). As the most senior police officer in the group, SPO Mercado took over the matter and
informed appellant that he was being arrested for the hit and run incident (p. 13, ibid.). He pointed out to appellant the fact that the
plate number of his vehicle was dangling and the railing and the hood were dented (p. 12, ibid.). Appellant, however, arrogantly
denied his misdeed and, instead, played with the crowd by holding their hands with one hand and pointing to SPO2 Borja with his
right hand saying 'iyan, kinuha ang baril ko' (pp. 13-15, ibid.). Because appellant's jacket was short, his gesture exposed a long
magazine of an armalite rifle tucked in appellant's back right pocket (p. 16, ibid.). SPO Mercado saw this and so when appellant
turned around as he was talking and proceeding to his vehicle, Mercado confiscated the magazine from appellant (pp. 16-17,
ibid.). Suspecting that appellant could also be carrying a rifle inside the vehicle since he had a magazine, SPO2 Mercado
prevented appellant from going back to his vehicle by opening himself the door of appellant's vehicle (16-17, ibid.). He saw a baby
armalite rifle (Exhibit D) lying horizontally at the front by the driver's seat. It had a long magazine filled with live bullets in a
semi-automatic mode (pp. 17-21, ibid.). He asked appellant for the papers covering the rifle and appellant answered angrily that
they were at his home (pp. 26-27, ibid.). SPO Mercado modified the arrest of appellant by including as its ground illegal
possession of firearms (p. 28,ibid.). SPO Mercado then read to appellant his constitutional rights (pp. 28-29, ibid).

"The police officers brought appellant to the Traffic Division at Jake Gonzales Boulevard (pp. 31-32, ibid.) where appellant
voluntarily surrendered a third firearm, a pietro berreta pistol(Exhibit 'L') with a single round in its chamber and a magazine (pp.
33-35, ibid.) loaded with seven (7) other live bullets. Appellant also voluntarily surrendered a black bag containing two additional
long magazines and one short magazine (Exhibits M, N, and O, pp. 36-37, ibid.) After appellant had been interrogated by the
Chief of the Traffic Division, he was transferred to the Police Investigation Division at Sto. Rosario Street beside the City Hall
Building where he and the firearms and ammunitions were turned over to SPO2 Rene Jesus Gregorio (pp. 5-10, TSN, July 13,
1993) During the investigation, appellant admitted possession of the firearms stating that he used them for shooting (p. 14, ibid.).
He was not able to produce any permit to carry or memorandum receipt to cover the three firearms (pp. 16-18, TSN, January 25,
1994).

"On November 28, 1992, a certification (Exhibit 'F') was issued by Captain, Senior Inspector Mario Espino, PNP, Chief, Record
Branch of the Firearms and Explosives Office (pp. 7-8, TSN, March 4, 1993). The Certification stated that the three firearms
confiscated from appellant, an M-16 Baby armalite rifle SN-RP 1312 80, a .357 caliber revolver Smith and Wesson SN 32919 and
a .380 Pietro Beretta SN-A35720, were not registered in the name of Robin C. Padilla (p. 6, ibid.). A second Certification dated
December 11, 1992 issued by Captain Espino stated that the three firearms were not also registered in the name of Robinhood C.
Padilla (p. 10, ibid)."

Petitioner's defenses are as follows: (1) that his arrest was illegal and consequently, the firearms and ammunitions taken in the course
thereof are inadmissible in evidence under the exclusionary rule; (2) that he is a confidential agent authorized, under a Mission Order
and Memorandum Receipt, to carry the subject firearms; and (3) that the penalty for simple illegal possession constitutes excessive and
cruel punishment proscribed by the 1987 Constitution. cdtai

After a careful review of the records 27 of this case, the Court is convinced that petitioner's guilt of the crime charged stands
on terra firma, notwithstanding the Solicitor-General's change of heart.

 
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Anent the first defense, petitioner questions the legality of his arrest. There is no dispute that no warrant was issued for the
arrest of petitioner, but that per se did not make his apprehension at the Abacan bridge illegal.
Warrantless arrests are sanctioned in the following instances: 28
"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;

(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.

Paragraph (a) requires that the person be arrested (i) after he has committed or while he is actually committing or is at least attempting
to commit an offense, (ii) in the presence of the arresting officer or private person. 29 Both elements concurred here, as it has been
established that petitioner's vehicle figured in a hit and run — an offense committed in the "presence" of Manarang, a private person,
who then sought to arrest petitioner. It must be stressed at this point that "presence" does not only require that the arresting person
sees the offense, but also when he "hears the disturbance created thereby AND proceeds at once to the scene." 30 As testified to by
Manarang, he heard the screeching of tires followed by a thud, saw the sideswiped victim (balut vendor), reported the incident to the
police and thereafter gave chase to the erring Pajero vehicle using his motorcycle in order to apprehend its driver After having sent a
radio report to the PNP for assistance, Manarang proceeded to the Abacan bridge where he found responding policemen SPO2 Borja
and SPO2 Miranda already positioned near the bridge who effected the actual arrest of petitioner. 31

Petitioner would nonetheless insist on the illegality of his arrest by arguing that the policemen who actually arrested him were not at, the
scene of the hit and run. 32 We beg to disagree. That Manarang decided to seek the aid of the policemen (who admittedly were nowhere
in the vicinity of the hit and run) in effecting petitioner's arrest, did not in any way affect the propriety of the apprehension. It was in fact
the most prudent action Manarang could have taken rather than collaring petitioner by himself, inasmuch as policemen are
unquestionably better trained and well-equipped in effecting an arrest of a suspect (like herein petitioner) who, in all probability, could
have put up a degree of resistance which an untrained civilian may not be able to contain without endangering his own life. Moreover, it
is a reality that curbing lawlessness gains more success when law enforcers function in collaboration with private citizens. It is precisely
through this cooperation that the offense herein involved fortunately did not become an additional entry to the long list of unreported and
unsolved crimes.

It is appropriate to state at this juncture that a suspect, like petitioner herein, cannot defeat the arrest which has been set in
motion in a public place for want of a warrant as the police was confronted by an urgent need to render aid or take action. 33 The
exigent circumstances of — hot pursuit, 34 a fleeing suspect, a moving vehicle, the public place and the raining nighttime — all
created a situation in which speed is essential and delay improvident. 35 The Court acknowledges police authority to make the forcible
stop since they had more than mere "reasonable and articulable" suspicion that the occupant of the vehicle has been engaged in
criminal activity. 36 Moreover, when caught in flagrante delicto with possession of an unlicensed firearm (Smith & Wesson) and
ammunition (M-16 magazine), petitioner's warrantless arrest was proper as he was again actually committing another offense (illegal
possession of firearm and ammunitions) and this time in the presence of a peace officer. 37
Besides, the policemen's warrantless arrest of petitioner could likewise be justified under paragraph (b) as he had in fact just
committed an offense. There was no supervening event or a considerable lapse of time between the hit and run and the actual
apprehension. Moreover, after having stationed themselves at the Abacan bridge in response to Manarang's report, the policemen
saw for themselves the fast approaching Pajero of petitioner, 38 its dangling plate number (PMA 777 as reported by Manarang), and
the dented hood and railings thereof. 39 These formed part of the arresting police officer's personal knowledge of the facts indicating
that petitioner's Pajero was indeed the vehicle involved in the hit and run incident. Verily then, the arresting police officers acted upon
verified personal knowledge and not on unreliable hearsay information. 40
Furthermore, in accordance with settled jurisprudence, any objection, defect or irregularity attending an arrest must be made
before the accused enters his plea. 41 Petitioner's belated challenge thereto aside from his failure to quash the information, his
participation in the trial and by presenting his evidence, placed him in estoppel to assail the legality of his arrest. 42 Likewise, by
applying for bail, petitioner patently waived such irregularities and defects. 43
We now go to the firearms and ammunitions seized from petitioner without a search warrant, the admissibility in evidence of
which, we uphold.
The five (5) well-settled instances when a warrantless search and seizure of property is valid, 44 are as follows:
1. warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest recognized under Section 12, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court 45 and
by prevailing jurisprudence; 46

2. Seizure of evidence in "plain view", the elements of which are: 47

(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 had the right to be where they are;

(c). the evidence must be immediately apparent, and

(d). "plain view" justified mere seizure of evidence without further search. 48

 
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3. Search of a moving vehicle. 49 Highly regulated by the government, the vehicle's 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. 50

4. consented warrantless search, and

5. customs search.

In conformity with respondent court's observation, it indeed appears that the authorities stumbled upon petitioner s firearms and
ammunitions without even undertaking any active search which, as it is commonly understood, is a prying into hidden places for that
which is concealed. 51 The seizure of the Smith & Wesson revolver and an M-16 rifle magazine was justified for they came within "plain
view" of the policemen who inadvertently discovered the revolver and magazine tucked in petitioner's waist and back pocket
respectively, when he raised his hands after alighting from his Pajero. The same justification applies to the confiscation of the M-16
armalite rifle which was immediately apparent to the policemen as they took a casual glance at the Pajero and saw said rifle lying
horizontally near the driver's seat. 52 Thus it has been held that:

"(W)hen in pursuing an illegal action or in the commission of a criminal offense, the . . . police officers should happen to discover a
criminal offense being committed by any person, they are not precluded from performing their duties as police officers for the
apprehension of the guilty person and the taking of the corpus delicti. 53

"Objects whose possession are prohibited by law inadvertently found in plain view are subject to seizure even without a warrant."
54

With respect to the Berreta pistol and a black bag containing assorted magazines, petitioner voluntarily surrendered them to the police.
55 This latter gesture of petitioner indicated a waiver of his right against the alleged search and seizure, 56 and that his failure to quash

the information estopped him from assailing any purported defect. 57

Even assuming. that the firearms and ammunitions were products of an active search done by the authorities on the person and vehicle
of petitioner, their seizure without a search warrant nonetheless can still be justified under a search incidental to a lawful arrest (first
instance). Once the lawful arrest was effected, the police may undertake a protective search 58 of the passenger compartment and
containers in the vehicle 59 which are within petitioner's grabbing distance regardless of the nature of the offense. 60 This satisfied the
two-tiered test of an incidental search: (i) the item to be searched (vehicle) was within the arrestee's custody or area of immediate
control 61 and (ii) the search was contemporaneous with the arrest. 62 The products of that search are admissible evidence not excluded
by the exclusionary rule. Another justification is a search of a moving vehicle (third instance). In connection therewith, a warrantless
search is constitutionally permissible when, as in this case, the officers conducting the search have reasonable or probable cause to
believe, before the search, that either the motorist is a law-offender (like herein petitioner with respect to the hit and run) or the contents
or cargo of the vehicle are or have been instruments or the subject matter or the proceeds of some criminal offense. 63

Anent his second defense, petitioner contends that he could not be convicted of violating P.D. 1866 because he is an
appointed civilian agent authorized to possess and carry the subject firearms and ammunition as evidenced by a Mission Order 64 and
Memorandum Receipt duly issued by PNP Supt. Rodialo Gumtang, the deputy commander of Task Force Aguila, Lianga, Surigao del
Sur. The contention lacks merit.

In crimes involving illegal possession of firearm, two requisites must be established, viz.: (1) the existence of the subject
firearm and, (2) the fact that the accused who owned or possessed the firearm does not have the corresponding license or permit to
possess. 65 The first element is beyond dispute as the subject firearms and ammunitions 66 were seized from petitioner's possession
via a valid warrantless search, identified and offered in evidence during trial. As to the second element, the same was convincingly
proven by the prosecution. Indeed, petitioner's purported Mission Order and Memorandum Receipt are inferior in the face of the more
formidable evidence for the prosecution as our meticulous review of the records reveals that the Mission Order and Memorandum
Receipt were mere afterthoughts contrived and issued under suspicious circumstances. On this score, we lift from respondent court's
incisive observation. Thus:
"Appellant's contention is predicated on the assumption that the Memorandum Receipts and Mission Order were issued before
the subject firearms were seized and confiscated from him by the police officers in Angeles City. That is not so. The evidence
adduced indicate that the Memorandum Receipts and Mission Order were prepared and executed long after appellant had been
apprehended on October 26, 1992.

"Appellant, when apprehended, could not show any document as proof of his authority to possess and carry the subject firearms.
During the preliminary investigation of the charge against him for illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions he could not,
despite the ample time given him, present any proper document showing his authority. If he had, in actuality, the Memorandum
Receipts and Missions Order, he could have produced those documents easily, if not at the time of apprehension, at least during
the preliminary investigation. But neither appellant nor his counsel inform the prosecutor that appellant is authorized to possess
and carry the subject firearms under Memorandum Receipt and Mission Order. At the initial presentation of his evidence in court,
appellant could have produced these documents to belie the charged against him. Appellant did not. He did not even take the
witness stand to explain his possession of the subject firearms.

"Even in appellant's Demurrer to Evidence filed after the prosecution rested contain no allegation of a Memorandum Receipts and
Mission Order authorizing appellant to possess and carry the subject firearms.

"At the initial presentation of appellant's evidence, the witness cited was one James Neneng to whom a subpoena was issued.
Superintendent Gumtang was not even mentioned. James Neneng appeared in court but was not presented by the defense.
Subsequent hearings were reset until the defense found Superintendent Gumtang who appeared in court without subpoena on
January 13, 1994" 67

The Court is baffled why petitioner failed to produce and present the Mission Order and Memorandum Receipt if they were really issued
and existing before his apprehension. Petitioner's alternative excuses that the subject firearms were intended for theatrical purposes, or
 
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that they were owned by the Presidential Security Group, or that his Mission Order and Memorandum Receipt were left at home, further
compound their irregularity. As to be reasonably expected, an accused claiming innocence, like herein petitioner, would grab the earliest
opportunity to present the Mission Order and Memorandum Receipt in question and save himself from the long and agonizing public
trial and spare him from proffering inconsistent excuses. In fact, the Mission Order itself, as well as the Letter-Directive of the AFP Chief
of Staff, is explicit in providing that: cdtai

"VIII. c. When a Mission Order is requested for verification by enforcement units/personnel such as PNP, Military Brigade and
other Military Police Units of AFP, the Mission Order should be shown without resentment to avoid embarrassment and/or
misunderstanding.

"IX. d. Implicit to this Mission Order is the injunction that the confidential instruction will be carried out through all legal means and
do not cover an actuation in violation of laws. In the latter event, this Mission Order is rendered inoperative in respect to such
violation." 68

which directive petitioner failed to heed without cogent explanation.


The authenticity and validity of the Mission Order and Memorandum Receipt, moreover, were ably controverted. Witness for the
prosecution Police Supt. Durendes denied under oath his signature on the dorsal side of the Mission Order and declared further that he
did not authorize anyone to sign in his behalf. 69 His surname thereon, we note, was glaringly misspelled as "Durembes." 70 In addition,
only Unit Commanders and Chief of Offices have the authority to issue Mission Orders and Memorandum Receipts under the
Guidelines on the Issuance of Mos, MRs, & PCFORs. 71 PNP Supt. Rodialo Gumtang who issued petitioner's Mission Order and
Memorandum Receipt is neither a Unit Commander nor the Chief of Office, but a mere deputy commander. Having emanated from an
unauthorized source, petitioner's Mission Order and Memorandum Receipt are infirm and lacking in force and effect. Besides, the
Mission Order covers "Recom 1-12-Baguio City." 72 areas outside Supt. Gumtang's area of responsibility thereby needing prior approval
"by next higher Headquarters" 73 which is absent in this case. The Memorandum Receipt is also unsupported by a certification as
required by the March 5, 1988 Memorandum of the Secretary of Defense which pertinently provides that:

"No memorandum receipt shall be issued for a CCS firearms without corresponding certification from the corresponding
Responsible Supply Officer of the appropriate AFP unit that such firearm has been officially taken up in that unit's property book,
and that report of such action has been reported to higher AFP authority."

Had petitioner's Memorandum Receipt been authentic, we see no reason why he cannot present the corresponding certification as well.

What is even more peculiar is that petitioner's name, as certified to by the Director for Personnel of the PNP, does not even appear in
the Plantilla of Non-Uniform Personnel or in the list of Civilian Agents or Employees of the PNP which could justify the issuance of a
Mission Order, a fact admitted by petitioner's counsel. 74 The implementing rules of P.D. 1866 issued by the then PC-INP Chief and
Director-General Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos are clear and unambiguous, thus:

"No Mission Order shall be issued to any civilian agent authorizing the same to carry firearms outside residence unless he/she is
included in the regular plantilla of the government agency involved in law enforcement and is receiving regular compensation for
the services he/she is rendering in the agency. Further, the civilian agent must be included in a special law
enforcement/police/intelligence project proposal or special project which specifically required the use of firearms(s) to insure its
accomplishment and that the project is duly approved at the PC Regional Command level or its equivalent level in other major
services of the AFP, INP and-NBI, or at higher levels of command." 75

Circular No. 1, dated January 6, 1986, of the then Ministry of Justice likewise provides as follows:

"If mission orders are issued to civilians (not members of the uniformed service), they must be civilian agents included in the
regular plantilla of the government agency involved in law enforcement and are receiving regular compensation for the service
they are rendering."

That petitioner's Mission Order and Memorandum Receipt were fabricated pieces of evidence is accentuated all the more by the
testimony and certification of the Chief of the Records Branch of the firearms and Explosives Office of the PNP declaring that
petitioner's confiscated firearms are not licensed or registered in the name of the petitioner. 76 Thus:

"Q. In all these files that you have just mentioned Mr. Witness, what did you find, if any?

"A. I found that a certain Robin C Padilla is a licensed registered owner of one 9 mm pistol, Smith and Wesson with
Serial No. TCT 8214 and the following firearms being asked whether it is registered or not, I did not find any
records, the M-16 and the caliber .357 and the caliber .380 but there is a firearm with the same serial number
which is the same as that licensed and/or registered in the name of one Albert Villanueva Fallorina.

"Q. So in short, the only licensed firearms in the name of accused Robin C. Padilla is a pistol, Smith and Wesson,
caliber 9 mm with Serial No. TCT 8214?

"A. Yes, sir.

"Q. And the firearms that were the subject of this case are not listed in the names of the accused in this case?

"A. Yes, sir. 77

xxx xxx xxx

And the certification which provides as follows:

Republic of the Philippines

Department of the Interior and Local Government

GENERAL HEADQUARTERS PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE

 
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FIREARMS AND EXPLOSIVES OFFICE

Camp Crame, Quezon City


"PNPFEO5 November 28, 1992

"C E R T I F I C A T I O N

"TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

"THIS IS TO CERTIFY that Robin C. Padilla of 59 Labo St., Quezon City is a licensed/registered holder of Pistol Smith and
Wesson Cal 9mm with serial number TCT8214 covered by License No. RL M76C4476687.

"Further certify that the following firearms are not registered with this Office per verification from available records on file this
Office as of this date:

M16 Baby Armalite SN-RP131120

Revolver Cal 357 SN-3219

Pistol Cal 380 Pietro Beretta SN-35723


"However, we have on file one Pistol Cal 380, Beretta with serial number 35723Y, licensed/registered to one Albert Villanueva
Fallorina of 29 San Juan St., Capitol Pasig, MM under Re-Registered License.

"This certification is issued pursuant to Subpoena from City of Angeles.

"FOR THE CHIEF, FEO:

(Sgd.)

JOSE MARIO M. ESPINO

Sr. Inspector, PNP

Chief, Records Branch" 78

In several occasions, the Court has ruled that either the testimony of a representative of, or a certification from, the. PNP Firearms and
Explosives Office (FEO) attesting that a person is not a licensee of any firearm would suffice to prove beyond reasonable doubt the
second element of illegal possession of firearm. 79 In People vs. Tobias, 80 we reiterated that such certification is sufficient to show that a
person has in fact no license. From the foregoing discussion, the fact that petitioner does not have the license or permit to possess was
overwhelmingly proven by the prosecution. The certification may even be dispensed with in the light of the evidence 81 that an M-16 rifle
and any short firearm higher than a .38 caliber pistol, akin to the confiscated firearms, cannot be licensed to a civilian, 82 as in the case
of petitioner The Court, therefore, entertains no doubt in affirming petitioner's conviction especially as we find no plausible reason and
none was presented, to depart from the factual findings of both the trial court and respondent court which, as a rule, are accorded by
the Court with respect and finality. 83

Anent his third defense, petitioner faults respondent court "in applying P.D. 1866 in a democratic ambience (sic) and a non
subversive context" and adds that respondent court should have applied instead the previous laws on illegal possession of firearms
since the reason for the penalty imposed under P.D. 1866 no longer exists. 84 He stresses that the penalty of 17 years and 4 months
to 21 years for simple illegal possession of firearm is cruel and excessive in contravention of the Constitution. 85
The contentions do not merit serious consideration. The trial court and the respondent court are bound to apply the
governing law at the time of appellant's commission of the offense for it is a rule that laws are repealed only by subsequent ones. 86
Indeed, it is the duty of judicial officers to respect and apply the law as it stands. 87 And until its repeal, respondent court can not be
faulted for applying P.D. 1866 which abrogated the previous statutes adverted to by petitioner.
Equally lacking in merit is appellant's allegation that the penalty for simple illegal possession is unconstitutional. The penalty
for simple possession of firearm, it should be stressed, ranges from reclusion temporal maximum to reclusion perpetua contrary to
appellant's erroneous averment. The severity of a penalty does not ipso facto make the same cruel and excessive.
"It takes more than merely being harsh, excessive, out of proportion, or severe for a penalty to be obnoxious to the Constitution.
'The fact that the punishment authorized by the statute is severe does not make it cruel and unusual' (24 C.J.S., 1187-1188).
Expressed in other terms, it has been held that to come under the ban, the punishment must be 'flagrantly and plainly oppressive',
'wholly disproportionate to the nature of the offense as to shock the moral sense of the community." 88

It is well-settled that as far as the constitutional prohibition goes, it is not so much the extent as the nature of the punishment that
determines whether it is, or is not, cruel and unusual and that sentences of imprisonment, though perceived to be harsh, are not cruel
or unusual if within statutory limits. 89

Moreover, every law has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality. The burden of proving the invalidity of the statute in question
lies with the appellant which burden, we note, was not convincingly discharged. To justify nullification of the law, there must be a clear
and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not a doubtful and argumentative implication, 90 as in this case. In fact, the constitutionality
of P.D. 1866 has been upheld twice by this Court. 91 Just recently, the Court declared that "the pertinent laws on illegal possession of
firearms [are not] contrary to any provision of the Constitution. . . " 92 Appellant's grievance on the wisdom of the prescribed penalty
should not be addressed to us. Courts are not concerned with the wisdom, efficacy or morality of laws. That question falls exclusively
within the province of Congress which enacts them and the Chief Executive who approves or vetoes them. The only function of the
courts, we reiterate, is to interpret and apply the laws.

 
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With respect to the penalty imposed by the trial court as affirmed by respondent court (17 years 4 months and 1 day of
reclusion temporal, as minimum, to 21 years of reclusion perpetua, as maximum), we reduce the same in line with the fairly recent
case of People v. Lian 93 where the Court en banc provided that the indeterminate penalty imposable for simple illegal possession of
firearm, without any mitigating or aggravating circumstance, should be within the range of ten (10) years and one (1) day to twelve
years (12) of prision mayor, as minimum, to eighteen (18) years, eight (8) months and one (1 ) day to twenty (20) of reclusion
temporal, as maximum. This is discernible from the following explanation by the Court:
"In the case at bar, no mitigating or aggravating circumstances have been alleged or proved, In accordance with the doctrine
regarding special laws explained in People v. Simon, 94although Presidential Decree No. 1866 is a special law, the penalties
therein were taken from the Revised Penal Code, hence the rules in said Code for graduating by degrees or determining the
proper period should be applied

Consequently, the penalty for the offense of simple illegal possession of firearm is the medium period of the complex penalty in
said Section 1, that is, 18 years, 8 months and 1 day to 20 years.

"This penalty, being that which is to be actually imposed in accordance with the rules therefor and not merely imposable as a
general prescription under the law, shall be the maximum of the range of the indeterminate sentence. The minimum thereof shall
be taken, as aforesaid, from any period of the penalty next lower in degree, which is, prision mayor in its maximum period to
reclusion temporal in its medium period. 95

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision of the Court of Appeals sustaining petitioner's conviction by the lower court of the
crime of simple illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions is AFFIRMED EXCEPT that petitioner's indeterminate penalty
MODIFIED to "ten (10) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to eighteen (18) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day, as maximum. cdtai

SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C .J ., Davide, Jr., Melo and Panganiban, JJ ., concur.

||| (Padilla v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 121917, [March 12, 1997], 336 PHIL 383-414) 

12. Caballes vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 136292, January 15, 2002 

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 136292. January 15, 2002.]

RUDY CABALLES y TAIÑO, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
respondents.

De Jesus Orioste & Lim for petitioner.

The Solicitor General for respondents.

SYNOPSIS

The Regional Trial Court of Santa Cruz, Laguna convicted petitioner Rudy Caballes of the crime of theft for stealing aluminum cable
conductors worth P55,244.45 belonging to the National Power Corporation. Accordingly, it sentenced petitioner to a prison term and
ordered him to indemnify private complainant. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of conviction but deleted the
award of damages and modified the penalty imposed.

Hence, this appeal by certiorari. Petitioner questioned the validity of the warrantless search and seizure made by the police officers, and
the admissibility of the evidence obtained by virtue thereof.

The searches without warrant of moving vehicles is allowed provided such searches are made at borders or 'constructive borders', like
checkpoints. The mere mobility of these vehicles, however, does not give the police officers unlimited discretion to conduct
indiscriminate searches without warrants if made within the interior of the territory and in the absence of probable cause. In the case at
bar, the vehicle of the petitioner was flagged down because the police officers who were on routine patrol became suspicious when they
saw that the back of the vehicle was covered with kakawati leaves which, according to them, was unusual and uncommon. The Court
held that the fact that the vehicle looked suspicious simply because it is not common for such to be covered with kakawati leaves does
not constitute "probable cause'' as would justify the conduct of a search without a warrant. In addition, the police authorities did not
claim to have received any confidential report or tipped information that petitioner was carrying stolen cable wires in his vehicle, which
could otherwise have sustained their suspicion. Our jurisprudence is replete with cases where tipped information has become a
sufficient probable cause to effect a warrantless search and seizure. Unfortunately, none exists in this case. Furthermore, it cannot be
said that the cable wires found in petitioner's vehicle were in plain view, making its warrantless seizure valid. It was clear from the
records that the cable wires were not exposed to sight because they were placed in sacks and covered by kakawati leaves. The police
officers even have to ask petitioner what was loaded in his vehicle. Moreover, it was not established by clear and positive proof that the
petitioner consented to the search or intentionally surrendered his right against unreasonable search. Thus, the articles seized from

 
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petitioner could not be used as evidence against him. For lack of evidence to establish his guilt, the Court acquitted petitioner of the
crime charged.

SYLLABUS

1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; BILL OF RIGHTS; RIGHT AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURES; EXCLUSIONARY
RULE; BARS ADMISSION OF EVIDENCE OBTAINED IN VIOLATION OF THE RIGHT; EXCEPTIONS. — Enshrined in our Constitution
is the inviolable right of the people to be secure in their persons and properties against unreasonable searches and seizures, as defined
under Section 2, Article III thereof. The exclusionary rule under Section 3(2), Article III of the Constitution bars the admission of
evidence obtained in violation of such right. The constitutional proscription against warrantless searches and seizures is not absolute
but admits of certain exceptions, namely: (1) warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest recognized under Section 12, Rule 126 of
the Rules of Court and by prevailing jurisprudence; (2) seizure of evidence in plain view; (3) search of moving vehicles; (4) consented
warrantless search; (5) customs search; (6) stop and frisk situations (Terry search); and (7) exigent and emergency circumstances.

2. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; WARRANTLESS SEARCH AND SEIZURE; REASONABLENESS OR


UNREASONABLENESS OF SEARCH OR SEIZURE IS PURELY A JUDICIAL QUESTION; CASE AT BAR. — In cases where warrant
is necessary, the steps prescribed by the Constitution and reiterated in the Rules of Court must be complied with. In the exceptional
events where warrant is not necessary to effect a valid search or seizure, or when the latter cannot be performed except without a
warrant, what constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable search or seizure is purely a judicial question, determinable from the
uniqueness of the circumstances involved, including the purpose of the search or seizure, the presence or absence of probable cause,
the manner in which the search and seizure was made, the place or thing searched and the character of the articles procured.

3. ID.; ID.; WARRANTLESS SEARCH OF MOVING VEHICLES; ALLOWED PROVIDED THE SAME WAS MADE AT CONSTRUCTIVE
BORDERS. — Highly regulated by the government, the vehicle's 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. Thus, the rules governing search and seizure have over the years been steadily liberalized whenever a moving vehicle
is the object of the search on the basis of practicality. This is so considering that before a warrant could be obtained, the place, things
and persons to be searched must be described to the satisfaction of the issuing judge — a requirement which borders on the
impossible in the case of smuggling effected by the use of a moving vehicle that can transport contraband from one place to another
with impunity. We might add that a warrantless search of a moving vehicle is justified on the ground that it is not practicable to secure a
warrant because the vehicle can be quickly moved out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the warrant must be sought. Searches
without warrant of automobiles is also allowed for the purpose of preventing violations of smuggling or immigration laws, provided such
searches are made at borders or 'constructive borders' like checkpoints near the boundary lines of the State. ACaDTH

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; REQUIRES PROBABLE CAUSE; EXISTENCE OF PROBABLE CAUSE NOT DETERMINED BY FIXED FORMULA
BUT IS RESOLVED ACCORDING TO THE FACTS OF EACH CASE. — The mere mobility of these vehicles, however, does not give
the police officers unlimited discretion to conduct indiscriminate searches without warrants if made within the interior of the territory and
in the absence of probable cause. Still and all, the important thing is that there was probable cause to conduct the warrantless search,
which must still be present in such a case. Although the term eludes exact definition, probable cause signifies 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; or the existence of such facts and circumstances which could lead a reasonably discreet
and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed and that the items, articles or objects sought in connection with said
offense or subject to seizure and destruction by law is in the place to be searched. The required probable cause that will justify a
warrantless search and seizure is not determined by a fixed formula but is resolved according to the facts of each case.

5. ID.; ID.; ID.; "STOP-AND-SEARCH" AT POLICE CHECKPOINTS; NOT ILLEGAL PER SE; ROUTINE INSPECTIONS; NOT
VIOLATIVE OF RIGHT AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES; LIMITATIONS; CASE AT BAR. — One such form of search of
moving vehicles is the "stop-and-search" without warrant at military or police checkpoints which has been declared to be not illegal per
se, for as long as it is warranted by the exigencies of public order and conducted in a way least intrusive to motorists. A checkpoint may
either be a mere routine inspection or it may involve an extensive search. Routine inspections are not regarded as violative of an
individual's right against unreasonable search. The search which is normally permissible in this instance is limited to the following
instances: (1) where the officer merely draws aside the curtain of a vacant vehicle which is parked on the public fair grounds; (2) simply
looks into a vehicle; (3) flashes a light therein without opening the car's doors; (4) where the occupants are not subjected to a physical
or body search; (5) where the inspection of the vehicles is limited to a visual search or visual inspection; and (6) where the routine
check is conducted in a fixed area. None of the foregoing circumstances is obtaining in the case at bar. The police officers did not
merely conduct a visual search or visual inspection of herein petitioner's vehicle. They had to reach inside the vehicle, lift the kakawati
leaves and look inside the sacks before they were able to see the cable wires. It cannot be considered a simple routine check.

6. ID.; ID.; ID.; EXTENSIVE CHECK OF VEHICLE, WHEN PERMISSIBLE. — In the case of United States vs. Pierre, the Court held
that the physical intrusion of a part of the body of an agent into the vehicle goes beyond the area protected by the Fourth Amendment,
to wit: "The Agent . . . stuck his head through the driver's side window. The agent thus effected a physical intrusion into the vehicle . . .
[W]e are aware of no case holding that an officer did not conduct a search when he physically intruded part of his body into a space in
which the suspect had a reasonable expectation of privacy. [The] Agent['s] . . . physical intrusion allowed him to see and to smell things
he could not see or smell from outside the vehicle . . . In doing so, his inspection went beyond that portion of the vehicle which may be
viewed from outside the vehicle by either inquisitive passersby or diligent police officers, and into the area protected by the Fourth
amendment, just as much as if he had stuck his head inside the open window of a home." On the other hand, when a vehicle is stopped
and subjected to an extensive search, such a warrantless search would be constitutionally permissible only if the officers conducting the
search have reasonable or probable cause to believe, before the search, that either the motorist is a law-offender or they will find the

 
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instrumentality or evidence pertaining to a crime in the vehicle to be searched. This Court has in the past found probable cause to
conduct without a judicial warrant an extensive search of moving vehicles in situations where (1) there had emanated from a package
the distinctive smell of marijuana; (2) agents of the Narcotics Command ("Narcom") of the Philippine National Police ("PNP") had
received a confidential report from informers that a sizeable volume of marijuana would be transported along the route where the
search was conducted; (3) Narcom agents had received information that a Caucasian coming from Sagada, Mountain Province, had in
his possession prohibited drugs and when the Narcom agents confronted the accused Caucasian, because of a conspicuous bulge in
his waistline, he failed to present his passport and other identification papers when requested to do so; (4) Narcom agents had received
confidential information that a woman having the same physical appearance as that of the accused would be transporting marijuana; (5)
the accused who were riding a jeepney were stopped and searched by policemen who had earlier received confidential reports that
said accused would transport a large quantity ofmarijuana; and (6) where the moving vehicle was stopped and searched on the basis of
intelligence information and clandestine reports by a deep penetration agent or spy — one who participated in the drug smuggling
activities of the syndicate to which the accused belonged — that said accused were bringing prohibited drugs into the country.

7. ID.; ID.; ID.; FACT THAT VEHICLE LOOKS SUSPICIOUS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE PROBABLE CAUSE. — In the case at bar, the
vehicle of the petitioner was flagged down because the police officers who were on routine patrol became suspicious when they saw
that the back of the vehicle was covered with kakawati leaves which, according to them, was unusual and uncommon. We hold that the
fact that the vehicle looked suspicious simply because it is not common for such to be covered with kakawati leaves does not constitute
"probable cause" as would justify the conduct of a search without a warrant.

8. ID.; ID.; ID.; TIPPED INFORMATION; A SUFFICIENT CAUSE TO EFFECT WARRANTLESS SEARCH AND SEIZURE. — In People
vs. Chua Ho San, we held that the fact that the watercraft used by the accused was different in appearance from the usual fishing boats
that commonly cruise over the Bacnotan seas coupled with the suspicious behavior of the accused when he attempted to flee from the
police authorities do not sufficiently establish probable cause. In addition, the police authorities do not claim to have received any
confidential report or tipped information that petitioner was carrying stolen cable wires in his vehicle which could otherwise have
sustained their suspicion. Our jurisprudence is replete with cases where tipped information has become a sufficient probable cause to
effect a warrantless search and seizure. Unfortunately, none exists in this case.

9. ID.; ID.; ID.; PLAIN VIEW DOCTRINE; OBJECT ITSELF IS PLAINLY EXPOSED TO SIGHT; CASE AT BAR. — It cannot likewise be
said that the cable wires found in petitioner's vehicle were in plain view, making its warrantless seizure valid. Jurisprudence is to the
effect that an object is in plain view if the object itself is plainly exposed to sight. Where the object seized was inside a closed package,
the object itself is not in plain view and therefore cannot be seized without a warrant. However, if the package proclaims its contents,
whether by its distinctive configuration, its transparency, or if its contents are obvious to an observer, then the contents are in plain view
and may be seized. In other words, if the package is such that an experienced observer could infer from its appearance that it contains
the prohibited article, then the article is deemed in plain view. It must be immediately apparent to the police that the items that they
observe may be evidence of a crime, contraband or otherwise subject to seizure. It is clear from the records of this case that the cable
wires were not exposed to sight because they were placed in sacks and covered with leaves. The articles were neither transparent nor
immediately apparent to the police authorities. They had no clue as to what was hidden underneath the leaves and branches. As a
matter of fact, they had to ask petitioner what was loaded in his vehicle. In such a case, it has been held that the object is not in plain
view which could have justified mere seizure of the articles without further search.

10. ID.; ID.; ID.; CONSENTED WARRANTLESS SEARCHES AND SEIZURE; CONSENT MUST BE VOLUNTARY AND MUST BE
SHOWN BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE; BURDEN OF PROOF LIES ON THE STATE. — Doubtless, the constitutional
immunity against unreasonable searches and seizures is a personal right which may be waived. The consent must be voluntary in order
to validate an otherwise illegal detention and search, i.e., the consent is unequivocal, specific, and intelligently given, uncontaminated
by any duress or coercion. Hence, consent to a search is not to be lightly inferred, but must be shown by clear and convincing
evidence. The question whether a consent to a search was in fact voluntary is a question of fact to be determined from the totality of all
the circumstances. Relevant to this determination are the following characteristics of the person giving consent and the environment in
which consent is given: (1) the age of the defendant; (2) whether he was in a public or secluded location; (3) whether he objected to the
search or passively looked on; (4) the education and intelligence of the defendant; (5) the presence of coercive police procedures; (6)
the defendant's belief that no incriminating evidence will be found; (7) the nature of the police questioning; (8) the environment in which
the questioning took place; and (9) the possibly vulnerable subjective state of the person consenting. It is the State which has the
burden of proving, by clear and positive testimony, that the necessary consent was obtained and that it was freely and voluntarily given.
This Court is not unmindful of cases upholding the validity of consented warrantless searches and seizure. But in these cases, the
police officers' request to search personnel effects was orally articulated to the accused and in such language that left no room for
doubt that the latter fully understood what was requested. In some instance, the accused even verbally replied to the request
demonstrating that he also understood the nature and consequences of such request.

11. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; CASES UPHOLDING VALIDITY THEREOF, CITED. — In Asuncion vs. Court of Appeals, the apprehending officers
sought the permission of petitioner to search the car, to which the latter agreed. Petitioner therein himself freely gave his consent to
said search. In People vs. Lacerna, the appellants who were riding in a taxi were stopped by two policemen who asked permission to
search the vehicle and the appellants readily agreed. In upholding the validity of the consented search, the Court held that appellant
himself who was "urbanized in mannerism and speech expressly said that he was consenting to the search as he allegedly had nothing
to hide and had done nothing wrong. In People vs. Cuizon, the accused admitted that they signed a written permission stating that they
freely consented to the search of their luggage by the NBI agents to determine if they were carrying shabu. In People vs. Montilla, it
was held that the accused spontaneously performed affirmative acts of volition by himself opening the bag without being forced or
intimidated to do so, which acts should properly be construed as a clear waiver of his right. In People vs. Omaweng, the police officers
asked the accused if they could see the contents of his bag to which the accused said "you can see the contents but those are only

 
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clothings." Then the policemen asked if they could open and see it, and accused answered "you can see it." The Court said there was a
valid consented search.ScAaHE

12. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; WAIVER OF CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEE AGAINST OBTRUSIVE SEARCHES; REQUISITES; CONSENT
GIVEN UNDER COERCIVE CIRCUMSTANCES IS NO CONSENT WITHIN THE CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEE; CASE AT BAR. —
In case of consented searches or waiver of the constitutional guarantee against obtrusive searches, it is fundamental that to constitute
a waiver, it must first appear that (1) the right exists; (2) that the person involved had knowledge, either actual or constructive, of the
existence of such right, and (3) the said person had an actual intention to relinquish the right. In the case at bar, the evidence is lacking
that the petitioner intentionally surrendered his right against unreasonable searches. The manner by which the two police officers
allegedly obtained the consent of petitioner for them to conduct the search leaves much to be desired. When petitioner's vehicle was
flagged down, Sgt. Noceja approached petitioner and "told him I will look at the contents of his vehicle and he answered in the positive."
We are hard put to believe that by uttering those words, the police officers were asking or requesting for permission that they be
allowed to search the vehicle of petitioner. For all intents and purposes, they were informing, nay, imposing upon herein petitioner that
they will search his vehicle. The "consent" given under intimidating or coercive circumstances is no consent within the purview of the
constitutional guaranty.

13. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; CONSENT OF ACCUSED TO BE SEARCHED MUST BE ESTABLISHED BY CLEAR AND POSITIVE PROOF. —
In addition, in cases where this Court upheld the validity of consented search, it will be noted that the police authorities expressly asked,
in no uncertain terms, for the consent of the accused to be searched. And the consent of the accused was established by clear and
positive proof. In the case of herein petitioner, the statements of the police officers were not asking for his consent; they were declaring
to him that they will look inside his vehicle. Besides, it is doubtful whether permission was actually requested and granted because
when Sgt. Noceja was asked during his direct examination what he did when the vehicle of petitioner stopped, he answered that he
removed the cover of the vehicle and saw the aluminum wires. It was only after he was asked a clarificatory question that he added that
he told petitioner he will inspect the vehicle. To our mind, this was more of an afterthought. Likewise, when Pat. de Castro was asked
twice in his direct examination what they did when they stopped the jeepney, his consistent answer was that they searched the vehicle.
He never testified that he asked petitioner for permission to conduct the search.

14. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; FAILURE OF ACCUSED TO OBJECT NOT CONSTRUED AS IMPLIED ACQUIESCENCE TO THE
WARRANTLESS SEARCH. — Neither can petitioner's passive submission be construed as an implied acquiescence to the warrantless
search. In People vs. Barros, appellant Barros, who was carrying a carton box, boarded a bus where two policemen were riding. The
policemen inspected the carton and found marijuana inside. When asked who owned the box, appellant denied ownership of the box
and failed to object to the search. The Court there struck down the warrantless search as illegal and held that the accused is not to be
presumed to have waived the unlawful search conducted simply because he failed to object, citing the ruling in the case of People vs.
Burgos, to wit: "As the constitutional guaranty is not dependent upon any affirmative act of the citizen, the courts do not place the
citizens 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."

DECISION

PUNO, J p:

This is an appeal by certiorari from the decision 1 of respondent Court of Appeals dated September 15, 1998 which affirmed the
judgment rendered by the Regional Trial Court of Santa Cruz, Laguna, finding herein petitioner, Rudy Caballes y Taiño, guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of theft, and the resolution 2 dated November 9, 1998 which denied petitioner's motion for
reconsideration.

In an Information 3 dated October 16, 1989, petitioner was charged with the crime of theft committed as follows:

"That on or about the 28th day of June, 1989, in the Municipality of Pagsanjan, and/or elsewhere in the Province of Laguna, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with intent of gain, and without the knowledge and
consent of the owner thereof, the NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
take, steal and carry away about 630-kg of Aluminum Cable Conductors, valued at P27,450.00, belonging to and to the damage
and prejudice of said owner National Power Corp., in the aforesaid amount.

CONTRARY TO LAW."

During the arraignment, petitioner pleaded not guilty and hence, trial on the merits ensued.

The facts are summarized by the appellate court as follows:

"[At] about 9:15 p.m. of June 28, 1989, Sgt. Victorino Noceja and Pat. Alex de Castro, while on a routine patrol in Barangay
Sampalucan, Pagsanjan, Laguna, spotted a passenger jeep unusually covered with "kakawati" leaves.

Suspecting that the jeep was loaded with smuggled goods, the two police officers flagged down the vehicle. The jeep was driven
by appellant. When asked what was loaded on the jeep, he did not answer; he appeared pale and nervous.

With appellant's consent, the police officers checked the cargo and they discovered bundles of 3.08 mm aluminum/galvanized
conductor wires exclusively owned by National Power Corporation (NPC). The conductor wires weighed 700 kilos and valued at

 
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P55,244.45. Noceja asked appellant where the wires came from and appellant answered that they came from Cavinti, a town
approximately 8 kilometers away from Sampalucan. Thereafter, appellant and the vehicle with the high-voltage wires were
brought to the Pagsanjan Police Station. Danilo Cabale took pictures of the appellant and the jeep loaded with the wires which
were turned over to the Police Station Commander of Pagsanjan, Laguna. Appellant was incarcerated for 7 days in the Municipal
jail.

In defense, appellant interposed denial and alibi. He testified that he is a driver and resident of Pagsanjan, Laguna; a NARCOM
civilian agent since January, 1988 although his identification card (ID) has already expired. In the afternoon of June 28, 1989,
while he was driving a passenger jeepney, he was stopped by one Resty Fernandez who requested him to transport in his
jeepney conductor wires which were in Cavinti, Laguna. He told Resty to wait until he had finished his last trip for the day from
Santa Cruz, Laguna. On his way to Santa Cruz, Laguna, he dropped by the NARCOM headquarters and informed his superior,
Sgt. Callos, that something unlawful was going to happen. Sgt. Callos advised him to proceed with the loading of the wires and
that the former would act as back-up and intercept the vehicle at the Sambat Patrol Base in Pagsanjan.

After receiving those instructions, he went back to see Resty. Although Resty had his own vehicle, its tires were old so the cable
wires were loaded in appellant's jeep and covered with kakawati leaves. The loading was done by about five (5) masked men. He
was promised P1,000.00 for the job. Upon crossing a bridge, the two vehicles separated but in his case, he was intercepted by
Sgt. Noceja and Pat. De Castro. When they discovered the cables, he told the police officers that the cables were loaded in his
jeep by the owner, Resty Fernandez. But despite his explanation, he was ordered to proceed to police headquarters where he
was interrogated. The police officers did not believe him and instead locked him up in jail for a week." 4

On April 27, 1993, the court a quo rendered judgment 5 the dispositive portion of which reads:

"WHEREFORE, finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Theft of property worth P55,244.45, the Court
hereby sentences him to suffer imprisonment from TWO (2) [YEARS], FOUR (4) MONTHS, and ONE (1) DAY of Prision
Correccional, as minimum, to TEN (10) YEARS of Prision Mayor, as maximum, to indemnify the complainant National Power
Corporation in the amount of P55,244.45, and to pay the costs."

On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of conviction but deleted the award for damages on the ground that the stolen
materials were recovered and modified the penalty imposed, to wit:

"WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby AFFIRMED with the modification that appellant RUDY CABALLES is found
guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal in theft, defined and penalized under Articles 308 and 309, par. 1, Revised Penal
Code, and there being no modifying circumstances, he is hereby meted an indeterminate penalty of Four (4) years, Nine (9)
months and Eleven (11) days of prision correccional, as minimum term, to Eight (8) years, Eight (8) months and one (1) day of
prision mayor, as maximum term. No civil indemnity and no costs." 6

Petitioner comes before us and raises the following issues:

"(a) Whether or not the constitutional right of petitioner was violated when the police officers searched his vehicle and seized the
wires found therein without a search warrant and when samples of the wires and references to them were admitted in evidence as
basis for his conviction;

(b) Whether or not respondent Court erred in rejecting petitioner's defense that he was engaged in an entrapment operation and
in indulging in speculation and conjecture in rejecting said defense; and

(c) Whether or not the evidence of the prosecution failed to establish the guilt of petitioner beyond reasonable doubt and thus
failed to overcome the constitutional right of petitioner to presumption of innocence."

The conviction or acquittal of petitioner hinges primarily on the validity of the warrantless search and seizure made by the police
officers, and the admissibility of the evidence obtained by virtue thereof.

In holding that the warrantless search and seizure is valid, the trial court ruled that:

"As his last straw of argument, the accused questions the constitutionality of the search and validity of his arrest on the ground
that no warrant was issued to that effect. The Court cannot again sustain such view. In the case of People v. Lo Ho [Wing], G.R.
No. 88017, January 21, 1991, it has been held that 'considering that before a warrant can be obtained, the place, things and
persons to be searched must be described to the satisfaction of the issuing judge — a requirement which borders on the
impossible in the case of smuggling effected by the use of a moving vehicle that can transport contraband from one place to
another with impunity, a warrantless search of a moving vehicle is justified on grounds of practicability.' The doctrine is not of
recent vintage. In the case of Valmonte vs. de Villa, G.R. No. 83988, May 24, 1990 (Resolution on Motion for Reconsideration,
September 29, 1989), it was ruled that 'automobiles because of their mobility may be searched without a warrant upon facts not
justifying warrantless search of a resident or office. . . . To hold that no criminal can, in any case, be arrested and searched for the
evidence and tokens of his crime without a warrant, would be to leave society, to a large extent, at the mercy of the shrewdest,
the most expert, and the most depraved of criminals, facilitating their escape in many instances' (Ibid.). In Umil v. Ramos, 187
SCRA 311, and People vs. Ortiz, 191 SCRA 836, the Supreme Court held that a search may be made even without a warrant
where the accused is caught in flagrante. Under the circumstances, the police officers are not only authorized but are also under
obligation to arrest the accused even without a warrant." 7

Petitioner contends that the flagging down of his vehicle by police officers who were on routine patrol, merely on "suspicion" that "it
might contain smuggled goods," does not constitute probable cause that will justify a warrantless search and seizure. He insists that,
contrary to the findings of the trial court as adopted by the appellate court, he did not give any consent, express or implied, to the
search of the vehicle. Perforce, any evidence obtained in violation of his right against unreasonable search and seizure shall be
deemed inadmissible.

Enshrined in our Constitution is the inviolable right of the people to be secure in their persons and properties against unreasonable
searches and seizures, as defined under Section 2, Article III thereof, which reads:

"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

 
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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."

The exclusionary rule under Section 3(2), Article III of the Constitution bars the admission of evidence obtained in violation of such right.

The constitutional proscription against warrantless searches and seizures is not absolute but admits of certain exceptions, namely: (1)
warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest recognized under Section 12, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court and by prevailing
jurisprudence; 8 (2) seizure of evidence in plain view; 9 (3) search of moving vehicles; 10 (4) consented warrantless search; 11 (5)
customs search; (6) stop and frisk situations (Terry search); 12 and (7) exigent and emergency circumstances. 13

In cases where warrant is necessary, the steps prescribed by the Constitution and reiterated in the Rules of Court must be complied
with. In the exceptional events where warrant is not necessary to effect a valid search or seizure, or when the latter cannot be
performed except without a warrant, what constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable search or seizure is purely a judicial question,
determinable from the uniqueness of the circumstances involved, including the purpose of the search or seizure, the presence or
absence of probable cause, the manner in which the search and seizure was made, the place or thing searched and the character of
the articles procured. 14

It is not controverted that the search and seizure conducted by the police officers in the case at bar was not authorized by a search
warrant. The main issue is whether the evidence taken from the warrantless search is admissible against the appellant. Without said
evidence, the prosecution cannot prove the guilt of the appellant beyond reasonable doubt.

I. Search of moving vehicle


Highly regulated by the government, the vehicle's 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. 15
Thus, the rules governing search and seizure have over the years been steadily liberalized whenever a moving vehicle is the object of
the search on the basis of practicality. This is so considering that before a warrant could be obtained, the place, things and persons to
be searched must be described to the satisfaction of the issuing judge — a requirement which borders on the impossible in the case of
smuggling effected by the use of a moving vehicle that can transport contraband from one place to another with impunity. We might add
that a warrantless search of a moving vehicle is justified on the ground that it is not practicable to secure a warrant because the vehicle
can be quickly moved out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the warrant must be sought. 16 Searches without warrant of automobiles
is also allowed for the purpose of preventing violations of smuggling or immigration laws, provided such searches are made at borders
or 'constructive borders' like checkpoints near the boundary lines of the State. 17

The mere mobility of these vehicles, however, does not give the police officers unlimited discretion to conduct indiscriminate searches
without warrants if made within the interior of the territory and in the absence of probable cause. 18 Still and all, the important thing is
that there was probable cause to conduct the warrantless search, which must still be present in such a case.

Although the term eludes exact definition, probable cause signifies 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; or the existence of such facts and circumstances which could lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an
offense has been committed and that the items, articles or objects sought in connection with said offense or subject to seizure and
destruction by law is in the place to be searched. 19 The required probable cause that will justify a warrantless search and seizure is not
determined by a fixed formula but is resolved according to the facts of each case. 20

One such form of search of moving vehicles is the "stop-and-search" without warrant at military or police checkpoints which has been
declared to be not illegal per se, 21 for as long as it is warranted by the exigencies of public order 22 and conducted in a way least
intrusive to motorists. 23 A checkpoint may either be a mere routine inspection or it may involve an extensive search.

Routine inspections are not regarded as violative of an individual's right against unreasonable search. The search which is normally
permissible in this instance is limited to the following instances: (1) where the officer merely draws aside the curtain of a vacant vehicle
which is parked on the public fair grounds; 24 (2) simply looks into a vehicle; 25 (3) flashes a light therein without opening the car's doors;
26 (4) where the occupants are not subjected to a physical or body search; 27 (5) where the inspection of the vehicles is limited to a

visual search or visual inspection; 28 and (6) where the routine check is conducted in a fixed area." 29

None of the foregoing circumstances is obtaining in the case at bar. The police officers did not merely conduct a visual search or visual
inspection of herein petitioner's vehicle. They had to reach inside the vehicle, lift the kakawati leaves and look inside the sacks before
they were able to see the cable wires. It cannot be considered a simple routine check.

In the case of United States vs. Pierre, 30 the Court held that the physical intrusion of a part of the body of an agent into the vehicle
goes beyond the area protected by the Fourth Amendment, to wit:

"The Agent . . . stuck his head through the driver's side window. The agent thus effected a physical intrusion into the vehicle . . .
[W]e are aware of no case holding that an officer did not conduct a search when he physically intruded part of his body into a
space in which the suspect had a reasonable expectation of privacy. [The] Agent[s] . . . physical intrusion allowed him to see and
to smell things he could not see or smell from outside the vehicle . . . In doing so, his inspection went beyond that portion of the
vehicle which may be viewed from outside the vehicle by either inquisitive passersby or diligent police officers, and into the area
protected by the Fourth amendment, just as much as if he had stuck his head inside the open window of a home."

On the other hand, when a vehicle is stopped and subjected to an extensive search, such a warrantless search would be
constitutionally permissible only if the officers conducting the search have reasonable or probable cause to believe, before the search,

 
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that either the motorist is a law-offender or they will find the instrumentality or evidence pertaining to a crime in the vehicle to be
searched. 31

This Court has in the past found probable cause to conduct without a judicial warrant an extensive search of moving vehicles in
situations where (1) there had emanated from a package the distinctive smell of marijuana; (2) agents of the Narcotics Command
("Narcom") of the Philippine National Police ("PNP") had received a confidential report from informers that a sizeable volume of
marijuana would be transported along the route where the search was conducted; (3) Narcom agents had received information that a
Caucasian coming from Sagada, Mountain Province, had in his possession prohibited drugs and when the Narcom agents confronted
the accused Caucasian, because of a conspicuous bulge in his waistline, he failed to present his passport and other identification
papers when requested to do so; (4) Narcom agents had received confidential information that a woman having the same physical
appearance as that of the accused would be transporting marijuana; 32 (5) the accused who were riding a jeepney were stopped and
searched by policemen who had earlier received confidential reports that said accused would transport a large quantity of marijuana;
and (6) where the moving vehicle was stopped and searched on the basis of intelligence information and clandestine reports by a deep
penetration agent or spy — one who participated in the drug smuggling activities of the syndicate to which the accused belonged —
that said accused were bringing prohibited drugs into the country. 33

In the case at bar, the vehicle of the petitioner was flagged down because the police officers who were on routine patrol became
suspicious when they saw that the back of the vehicle was covered with kakawati leaves which, according to them, was unusual and
uncommon.

Pat. Alex de Castro recounted the incident as follows:

"ATTY. SANTOS

Q Now on said date and time do you remember of any unusual incident while you were performing your duty?

A Yes, sir, at that time and date myself and Police Sgt. Noceja were conducting patrol in the said place when we
spotted a suspicious jeepney so we stopped the jeepney and searched the load of the jeepney and we found
out (sic) these conductor wires.

Q You mentioned about the fact that when you saw the jeepney you became suspicious, why did you become
suspicious?

A Because the cargo was covered with leaves and branches, sir.

Q When you became suspicious upon seeing those leaves on top of the load what did you do next, if any?

A We stopped the jeepney and searched the contents thereof, sir." 34

The testimony of Victorino Noceja did not fare any better:

"ATTY. SANTOS

Q When you saw the accused driving the said vehicle, what did you do?

A Because I saw that the vehicle being drawn by Caballes was covered by kakawati leaves, I became suspicious since
such vehicle should not be covered by those and I flagged him, sir."35

We hold that the fact that the vehicle looked suspicious simply because it is not common for such to be covered with kakawati leaves
does not constitute "probable cause" as would justify the conduct of a search without a warrant.

In People vs. Chua Ho San, 36 we held that the fact that the watercraft used by the accused was different in appearance from the usual
fishing boats that commonly cruise over the Bacnotan seas coupled with the suspicious behavior of the accused when he attempted to
flee from the police authorities do not sufficiently establish probable cause. Thus:

"In the case at bar, the Solicitor General proposes that the following details are suggestive of probable cause — persistent reports
of rampant smuggling of firearm and other contraband articles, CHUA's watercraft differing in appearance from the usual fishing
boats that commonly cruise over the Bacnotan seas, CHUA's illegal entry into the Philippines . . ., CHUA's suspicious behavior,
i.e., he attempted to flee when he saw the police authorities, and the apparent ease by which CHUA can return to and navigate
his speedboat with immediate dispatch towards the high seas, beyond the reach of Philippine laws.

This Court, however, finds that these do not constitute "probable cause." None of the telltale clues, e.g., bag or package
emanating the pungent odor of marijuana or other prohibited drug, confidential report and/or positive identification by informers of
courier of prohibited drug and/or the time and place where they will transport/deliver the same, suspicious demeanor or behavior,
and suspicious bulge in the waist — accepted by this Court as sufficient to justify a warrantless arrest exists in this case. There
was no classified information that a foreigner would disembark at Tammocalao beach bearing prohibited drug on the date in
question. CHUA was not identified as a drug courier by a police informer or agent. The fact that the vessel that ferried him to
shore bore no resemblance to the fishing boats of the area did not automatically mark him as in the process of perpetrating an
offense. . . .." (italics supplied)

In addition, the police authorities do not claim to have received any confidential report or tipped information that petitioner was carrying
stolen cable wires in his vehicle which could otherwise have sustained their suspicion. Our jurisprudence is replete with cases where
tipped information has become a sufficient probable cause to effect a warrantless search and seizure. 37 Unfortunately, none exists in
this case.

II. Plain view doctrine

 
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It cannot likewise be said that the cable wires found in petitioner's vehicle were in plain view, making its warrantless seizure valid.

Jurisprudence is to the effect that an object is in plain view if the object itself is plainly exposed to sight. Where the object seized was
inside a closed package, the object itself is not in plain view and therefore cannot be seized without a warrant. However, if the package
proclaims its contents, whether by its distinctive configuration, its transparency, or if its contents are obvious to an observer, then the
contents are in plain view and may be seized. In other words, if the package is such that an experienced observer could infer from its
appearance that it contains the prohibited article, then the article is deemed in plain view. It must be immediately apparent to the police
that the items that they observe may be evidence of a crime, contraband or otherwise subject to seizure. 38

It is clear from the records of this case that the cable wires were not exposed to sight because they were placed in sacks 39 and
covered with leaves. The articles were neither transparent nor immediately apparent to the police authorities. They had no clue as to
what was hidden underneath the leaves and branches. As a matter of fact, they had to ask petitioner what was loaded in his vehicle. In
such a case, it has been held that the object is not in plain view which could have justified mere seizure of the articles without further
search. 40

III. Consented search


Petitioner contends that the statement of Sgt. Victorino Noceja that he checked the vehicle "with the consent of the accused" is too
vague to prove that petitioner consented to the search. He claims that there is no specific statement as to how the consent was asked
and how it was given, nor the specific words spoken by petitioner indicating his alleged "consent." At most, there was only an implied
acquiescence, a mere passive conformity, which is no "consent" at all within the purview of the constitutional guarantee.

Doubtless, the constitutional immunity against unreasonable searches and seizures is a personal right which may be waived. The
consent must be voluntary in order to validate an otherwise illegal detention and search, i.e., the consent is unequivocal, specific, and
intelligently given, uncontaminated by any duress or coercion. 41 Hence, consent to a search is not to be lightly inferred, but must be
shown by clear and convincing evidence. 42 The question whether a consent to a search was in fact voluntary is a question of fact to be
determined from the totality of all the circumstances. 43 Relevant to this determination are the following characteristics of the person
giving consent and the environment in which consent is given: (1) the age of the defendant; (2) whether he was in a public or secluded
location; (3) whether he objected to the search or passively looked on; 44 (4) the education and intelligence of the defendant; (5) the
presence of coercive police procedures; (6) the defendant's belief that no incriminating evidence will be found; 45 (7) the nature of the
police questioning; (8) the environment in which the questioning took place; and (9) the possibly vulnerable subjective state of the
person consenting. 46 It is the State which has the burden of proving, by clear and positive testimony, that the necessary consent was
obtained and that it was freely and voluntarily given. 47

In the case at bar, Sgt. Victorino Noceja testified on the manner in which the search was conducted in this wise:

"WITNESS

Q On June 28, 1989, where were you?

A We were conducting patrol at the poblacion and some barangays, sir.

xxx xxx xxx


Q After conducting the patrol operation, do you remember of any unusual incident on said date and time?

A Yes, sir.

Q What is that incident?

A While I was conducting my patrol at barangay Sampalucan, I saw Rudy Caballes driving a vehicle and the vehicle
contained aluminum wires, sir.

xxx xxx xxx


Q When you saw the accused driving the said vehicle, what did you do?

A Because I saw that the vehicle being driven by Caballes was covered by kakawati leaves, I became suspicious since
such vehicle should not be covered by those and I flagged him, sir.

Q Did the vehicle stop?

A Yes, sir, and after said vehicle stop[ped], I removed the cover of said vehicle and by so doing, I saw the aluminum
wires.

Q Before you saw the aluminum wires, did you talk to the accused?

A Yes, sir, I asked him what his load was.

Q What was the answer of Caballes?

A He did not answer and I observed him to be pale, "nagpapamutla" (sic), so I told him I will look at the contents of his
vehicle and he answered in the positive.

Q And after you saw for yourself the aluminum wires loaded on the jeep, what did you do?

A I asked him where those wires came from and he answered those came from the Cavinti area, sir." 48

This Court is not unmindful of cases upholding the validity of consented warrantless searches and seizure. But in these cases, the
police officers' request to search personnel effects was orally articulated to the accused and in such language that left no room for

 
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doubt that the latter fully understood what was requested. In some instance, the accused even verbally replied to the request
demonstrating that he also understood the nature and consequences of such request. 49

In Asuncion vs. Court of Appeals, 50 the apprehending officers sought the permission of petitioner to search the car, to which the latter
agreed. Petitioner therein himself freely gave his consent to said search. In People vs. Lacerna, 51 the appellants who were riding in a
taxi were stopped by two policemen who asked permission to search the vehicle and the appellants readily agreed. In upholding the
validity of the consented search, the Court held that appellant himself who was "urbanized in mannerism and speech" expressly said
that he was consenting to the search as he allegedly had nothing to hide and had done nothing wrong. In People vs. Cuizon, 52 the
accused admitted that they signed a written permission stating that they freely consented to the search of their luggage by the NBI
agents to determine if they were carrying shabu. In People vs. Montilla, 53 it was held that the accused spontaneously performed
affirmative acts of volition by himself opening the bag without being forced or intimidated to do so, which acts should properly be
construed as a clear waiver of his right. InPeople vs. Omaweng, 54 the police officers asked the accused if they could see the contents
of his bag to which the accused said "you can see the contents but those are only clothings." Then the policemen asked if they could
open and see it, and accused answered "you can see it." The Court said there was a valid consented search.

In case of consented searches or waiver of the constitutional guarantee against obtrusive searches, it is fundamental that to constitute
a waiver, it must first appear that (1) the right exists; (2) that the person involved had knowledge, either actual or constructive, of the
existence of such right; and (3) the said person had an actual intention to relinquish the right. 55

In the case at bar, the evidence is lacking that the petitioner intentionally surrendered his right against unreasonable searches. The
manner by which the two police officers allegedly obtained the consent of petitioner for them to conduct the search leaves much to be
desired. When petitioner's vehicle was flagged down, Sgt. Noceja approached petitioner and "told him I will look at the contents of his
vehicle and he answered in the positive." We are hard put to believe that by uttering those words, the police officers were asking or
requesting for permission that they be allowed to search the vehicle of petitioner. For all intents and purposes, they were informing, nay,
imposing upon herein petitioner that they will search his vehicle. The "consent" given under intimidating or coercive circumstances is no
consent within the purview of the constitutional guaranty. In addition, in cases where this Court upheld the validity of consented search,
it will be noted that the police authorities expressly asked, in no uncertain terms, for the consent of the accused to be searched. And the
consent of the accused was established by clear and positive proof. In the case of herein petitioner, the statements of the police officers
were not asking for his consent; they were declaring to him that they will look inside his vehicle. Besides, it is doubtful whether
permission was actually requested and granted because when Sgt. Noceja was asked during his direct examination what he did when
the vehicle of petitioner stopped, he answered that he removed the cover of the vehicle and saw the aluminum wires. It was only after
he was asked a clarificatory question that he added that he told petitioner he will inspect the vehicle. To our mind, this was more of an
afterthought. Likewise, when Pat. de Castro was asked twice in his direct examination what they did when they stopped the jeepney, his
consistent answer was that they searched the vehicle. He never testified that he asked petitioner for permission to conduct the search.
56

Neither can petitioner's passive submission be construed as an implied acquiescence to the warrantless search. In People vs. Barros,
57 appellant Barros, who was carrying a carton box, boarded a bus where two policemen were riding. The policemen inspected the

carton and found marijuana inside. When asked who owned the box, appellant denied ownership of the box and failed to object to the
search. The Court there struck down the warrantless search as illegal and held that the accused is not to be presumed to have waived
the unlawful search conducted simply because he failed to object, citing the ruling in the case of People vs. Burgos, 58 to wit:

"As the constitutional guaranty is not dependent upon any affirmative act of the citizen, the courts do not place the citizens 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."

Casting aside the cable wires as evidence, the remaining evidence on record are insufficient to sustain petitioner's conviction. His guilt
can only be established without violating the constitutional right of the accused against unreasonable search and seizure.

WHEREFORE, the impugned decision is REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and accused Rudy Caballes is hereby ACQUITTED of the
crime charged. Cost de oficio. EDATSI

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Kapunan, Pardo and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

||| (Caballes y Taiño v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 136292, [January 15, 2002], 424 PHIL 263-290) 

13. People vs. Libnao, G.R. No. 136860, January 30, 2003 

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 136860. January 20, 2003.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. AGPANGA LIBNAO y KITTEN and ROSITA NUNGA y
VALENCIA, accused.

 
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AGPANGA LIBNAO y KITTEN, accused-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Molintas & Molintas Law Office for accused-appellant.

SYNOPSIS

This is an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Tarlac City finding appellant and her co-accused guilty of violating
Article II, Section 4 of R.A. No. 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. For their conviction, each was sentenced
to suffer an imprisonment of reclusion perpetua. The appellant argued that her arrest was unlawful and capitalized on the absence of a
warrant for her arrest. She contended that at the time she was apprehended by the police officers, she was not committing any offense
but was merely riding a tricycle. She also impugned the search made on her belongings as illegal as it was not done without a valid
warrant or under circumstances when warrantless search is permissible. Consequently, she claimed that the evidence obtained therein
were inadmissible against her. HDITCS

The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction of the appellant. According to the Court, the general rule is that a search may be conducted
by law enforcers only on the strength of a search warrant validly issued by a judge as provided in the Constitution. However, the
constitutional guarantee is not a blanket prohibition against all searches and seizures. The warrantless search in this case is not bereft
of a probable cause. It was also clear that at the time she was apprehended, she was committing a criminal offense, transporting
prohibited drugs. Against the credible positive testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, appellant's defense of denial and alibi could not
stand.

SYLLABUS

1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; BILL OF RIGHTS; SEARCHES AND SEIZURES; UNREASONABLE UNLESS AUTHORIZED BY A
VALIDLY ISSUED SEARCH WARRANT OR WARRANT OF ARREST, AS A RULE. — The general rule is that a search may be
conducted by law enforcers only on the strength of a search warrant validly issued by a judge as provided in Article III, Section 2 of
the1987 Constitution, thus: "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 and 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." The constitutional guarantee is not a blanket prohibition against all searches and seizures as it operates only against
"unreasonable" searches and seizures. Searches and seizures are as a rule unreasonable unless authorized by a validly issued search
warrant or warrant of arrest. Thus, the fundamental protection accorded by the search and seizure clause is that between persons and
police must stand the protective authority of a magistrate clothed with power to issue or refuse to issue search warrants and warrants of
arrest. HIACEa

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; SEARCH AND SEIZURE OF MOVING VEHICLE AS AN EXCEPTION; RATIONALE. — Be that as it may, the
requirement that a judicial warrant must be obtained prior to the carrying out of a search and seizure is not absolute. There are certain
familiar exceptions to the rule, one of which relates to search of moving vehicles. Warrantless search and seizure of moving vehicles
are allowed in recognition of the impracticability of securing a warrant under said circumstances as the vehicle can be quickly moved
out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the warrant may be sought. Peace officers in such cases, however, are limited to routine
checks where the examination of the vehicle is limited to visual inspection. When a vehicle is stopped and subjected to an extensive
search, such would be constitutionally permissible only if the officers made it upon probable cause, i.e., upon a belief, reasonably
arising out of circumstances known to the seizing officer, that an automobile or other vehicle contains as item, article or object which by
law is subject to seizure and destruction.

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; PRESENT IN CASE AT BAR. — The warrantless search in the case at bench is not bereft of a probable cause.
The Tarlac Police Intelligence Division had been conducting surveillance operation for three months in the area. The surveillance
yielded the information that once a month, appellant and her co-accused Rosita Nunga transport drugs in big bulks. At 10:00 pm of
October 19, 1996, the police received a tip that the two will be transporting drugs that night riding a tricycle. Surely, the two were
intercepted three hours later, riding a tricycle and carrying a suspicious-looking black bag, which possibly contained the drugs in bulk.
When they were asked who owned it and what its content was, both became uneasy. Under these circumstances, the warrantless
search and seizure of appellant's bag was not illegal. It is also clear that at the time she was apprehended, she was committing a
criminal offense. She was making a delivery or transporting prohibited drugs in violation of Article II, Section 4 of R.A. No. 6425. Under
the Rules of Court, one of the instances a police officer is permitted to carry out a warrantless arrest is when the person to be arrested
is caught committing a crime in flagrante delicto.

4. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; WHEN PRESENTATION THEREOF EVEN WITHOUT FORMAL OFFER MAY ESTABLISH THE
PROSECUTION'S CASE; CASE AT BAR. — Evidence not formally offered can be considered by the court as long as they have been
properly identified by testimony duly recorded and they have themselves, been incorporated in the records of the case. All the
documentary and object evidence in this case were properly identified, presented and marked as exhibits in court, including the bricks
of marijuana. Even without their formal offer, therefore, the prosecution can still establish the case because witnesses properly identified
those exhibits, and their testimonies are recorded. Furthermore, appellant's counsel had cross-examined the prosecution witnesses
who testified on the exhibits.

 
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5. ID.; ID.; CREDIBILITY OF WITNESSES; NOT AFFECTED BY INCONSISTENCIES ON MINOR DETAILS; APPLICATION IN CASE
AT BAR. — The alleged inconsistencies she mentions refer only to minor details and not to material points regarding the basic elements
of the crime. They are inconsequential that they do not affect the credibility of the witnesses nor detract from the established fact that
appellant and her co-accused were transporting marijuana. Testimonies of witnesses need only corroborate each other on important
and relevant details concerning the principal occurrence. The identity of the person who opened the bag is clearly immaterial to the guilt
of the appellant. Besides, it is to be expected that the testimony of witnesses regarding the same incident may be inconsistent in some
aspects because different persons may have different recollections of the same incident.

6. ID.; ID.; ID.; CREDENCE MAY BE PROPERLY ACCORDED TO TESTIMONIES OF POLICE OFFICERS WHO EXHIBITED NO
IMPROPER MOTIVE TO ARREST THE APPELLANT. — To be sure, credence was properly accorded to the testimonies of prosecution
witnesses, who are law enforcers. When police officers have no motive to testify falsely against the accused, courts are inclined to
uphold this presumption. In this case, no evidence has been presented to suggest any improper motive on the part of the police
enforcers in attesting the appellant. ATSIED

7. ID.; ID.; DENIAL AND ALIBI, AS DEFENSE; CANNOT STAND AGAINST CREDIBLE POSITIVE TESTIMONIES OF THE
PROSECUTION WITNESS. — Against the credible positive testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, appellant's defense of denial and
alibi cannot stand. The defense of denial and alibi has been invariably viewed by the courts with disfavor for it can just as easily be
concocted and is a common and standard defense ploy in most cases involving violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act. It has to be
substantiated by clear and convincing evidence. The sole proof presented in the lower court by the appellant to support her claim of
denial and alibi was a sworn statement, which was not even affirmed on the witness stand by the affiant.

DECISION

PUNO, J p:

Before us is an appeal from the Decision dated November 19, 1998 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 65, Tarlac City, finding appellant
Agpanga Libnao and her co-accused Rosita Nunga guilty of violating Article II, Section 4 of R.A. No. 6425, otherwise known as the
Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. 1 For their conviction, each was sentenced to suffer an imprisonment ofreclusion perpetua and to pay a
fine of two million pesos.

Appellant and her co-accused were charged under the following Information:

"That on or about October 20, 1996 at around 1:00 o'clock dawn, in the Municipality of Tarlac, Province of Tarlac, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused conspiring, confederating and helping with one another,
without being lawfully authorized, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously make delivery/transport with intent to sell
marijuana leaves wrapped in a transparent plastic weighing approximately eight (8) kilos, which is in violation of Section 4, Article
II of RA 6425, otherwise known as theDangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended.

CONTRARY TO LAW." 2

During their arraignment, both entered a plea of Not Guilty. Trial on the merits ensued.

It appears from the evidence adduced by the prosecution that in August of 1996, intelligence operatives of the Philippine National
Police (PNP) stationed in Tarlac, Tarlac began conducting surveillance operation on suspected drug dealers in the area. They learned
from their asset that a certain woman from Tajiri, Tarlac and a companion from Baguio City were transporting illegal drugs once a month
in big bulks.

On October 19, 1996, at about 10 o'clock in the evening, Chief Inspector Benjamin Arceo, Tarlac Police Chief, held a briefing in
connection with a tip which his office received that the two drug pushers, riding in a tricycle, would be making a delivery that night. An
hour later, the Police Alert Team installed a checkpoint in Barangay Salapungan to apprehend the suspects. Witness SPO1 Marlon
Gamotea, PO3 Florante Ferrer and SPO3 Roberto Aquino were assigned to man the checkpoint.

At about 1:00 o'clock in the morning of the following day, SPO1 Gamotea and PO3 Ferrer flagged down a passing tricycle. It had two
female passengers seated inside, who were later identified as the appellant Agpanga Libnao and her co-accused Rosita Nunga. 3 In
front of them was a black bag. Suspicious of the black bag and the two's uneasy behavior when asked about its ownership and content,
the officers invited them to Kabayan Center No. 2 located at the same barangay. They brought with them the black bag.

Upon reaching the center, PO3 Ferrer fetched Barangay Captain Roy Pascual to witness the opening of the black bag. In the
meantime, the two women and the bag were turned over to the investigator on duty, SPO3 Arthur Antonio. As soon as the barangay
captain arrived, the black bag was opened in the presence of the appellant, her co-accused and personnel of the center. Found inside it
were eight bricks of leaves sealed in plastic bags and covered with newspaper. The leaves were suspected to be marijuana.

To determine who owns the bag and its contents, SPO3 Antonio interrogated the two. Rosita Nunga stated that it was owned by the
appellant. The latter, in turn, disputed this allegation. Thereafter, they were made to sign a confiscation receipt without the assistance of
any counsel, as they were not informed of their right to have one. During the course of the investigation, not even close relatives of
theirs were present.

 
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The seized articles were later brought to the PNP Crime Laboratory in San Fernando, Pampanga on October 23, 1996. Forensic
Chemist Daisy P. Babu conducted a laboratory examination on them. She concluded that the articles were marijuana leaves weighing
eight kilos. 4

For their part, both accused denied the accusation against them. Rosita Nunga testified that in the evening of October 19, 1996, she
went to buy medicine for her ailing child at a pharmacy near the Tarlac Provincial Hospital. The child was suffering from diarrhea,
occasioned by abdominal pain. To return to their house, she boarded a tricycle bound for Barangay Tariji, where she resides. Along the
way, the tricycle she was riding was flagged down by a policeman at a checkpoint in Barangay Salapungan. She was taken aback when
the officer invited her to the Kabayan Center. It was there that she was confronted with the black bag allegedly containing eight bricks of
marijuana leaves. She disputed owning the bag and knowing its contents. She also denied sitting beside the appellant in the
passenger's seat inside the tricycle, although she admitted noticing a male passenger behind the driver.

Remarkably, appellant did not appear in court and was only represented by her lawyer. The latter marked and submitted in evidence an
affidavit executed by one Efren Gannod, a security guard of Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines in Tarlac, Tarlac. The sworn statement declared
that at about 0220H on October 20, 1996, SPO2 Antonio arrived at their terminal and arrested a certain woman who boarded their Bus
No. 983. The incident was recorded in the company's logbook. Gannod, however, was not presented in court to attest that the woman
referred in his affidavit was the appellant.

After trial, the court convicted appellant and her co-accused Rosita Nunga, thus:

"WHEREFORE, finding both accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of violation of Article II, Section 4 of RA 6425
in relation to RA 7659, they are hereby sentenced to suffer an imprisonment of reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of two million
pesos.

SO ORDERED." 5

Aggrieved by the verdict, appellant interposed the present appeal. In her brief, she assigned the following errors:

"1. The Honorable Regional Trial Court failed to appreciate the contention of the defense that the right of accused against illegal
and unwarranted arrest and search was violated by the police officers who arrested both accused.

2. The Honorable Court failed to appreciate the contention of the defense that the right of the accused to custodial investigation
was deliberately violated by the peace officers who apprehended and investigated the accused.

3. The Honorable Court miserably failed to evaluate the material inconsistencies in the testimonies of the prosecution's witnesses
which inconsistencies cast doubt and make incredible the contention and version of the prosecution.

4. The Honorable Court gravely abused its discretion when it appreciated and considered the documentary and object evidence of
the prosecution not formally offered amounting to ignorance of the law." 6

We are not persuaded by these contentions; hence, the appeal must be dismissed.

In arguing that her arrest was unlawful, appellant capitalizes on the absence of a warrant for her arrest. She contends that at the time
she was apprehended by the police officers, she was not committing any offense but was merely riding a tricycle. In the same manner,
she impugns the search made on her belongings as illegal as it was done without a valid warrant or under circumstances when
warrantless search is permissible. Consequently, any evidence obtained therein is inadmissible against her.

These arguments fail to impress. The general rule is that a search may be conducted by law enforcers only on the strength of a search
warrant validly issued by a judge as provided inArticle III, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution, thus:

"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 and 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." 7

The constitutional guarantee is not a blanket prohibition against all searches and seizures as it operates only against
"unreasonable" searches and seizures. Searches and seizures are as a rule unreasonable unless authorized by a validly issued
search warrant or warrant of arrest. Thus, the fundamental protection accorded by the search and seizure clause is that between
persons and police must stand the protective authority of a magistrate clothed with power to issue or refuse to issue search
warrants and warrants of arrest. 8
Be that as it may, the requirement that a judicial warrant must be obtained prior to the carrying out of a search and seizure is not
absolute. There are certain familiar exceptions to the rule, one of which relates to search of moving vehicles. 9 Warrantless search and
seizure of moving vehicles are allowed in recognition of the impracticability of securing a warrant under said circumstances as the
vehicle can be quickly moved out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the warrant may be sought. 10 Peace officers in such cases,
however, are limited to routine checks where the examination of the vehicle is limited to visual inspection. 11 When a vehicle is stopped
and subjected to an extensive search, such would be constitutionally permissible only if the officers made it upon probable cause, i.e.,
upon a belief, reasonably arising out of circumstances known to the seizing officer, that an automobile or other vehicle contains as item,
article or object which by law is subject to seizure and destruction. 12

In earlier decisions, we held that there was probable cause in the following instances: (a) where the distinctive odor of marijuana
emanated from the plastic bag carried by the accused; 13(b) where an informer positively identified the accused who was observed to
be acting suspiciously; 14 (c) where the accused who were riding a jeepney were stopped and searched by policemen who had earlier
received confidential reports that said accused would transport a quantity of marijuana; 15 (d) where Narcom agents had received
information that a Caucasian coming from Sagada, Mountain Province had in his possession prohibited drugs and when the Narcom
agents confronted the accused Caucasian because of a conspicuous bulge in his waistline, he failed to present his passport and other

 
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identification papers when requested to do so; 16 (f) where the moving vehicle was stopped and searched on the basis of intelligence
information and clandestine reports by a deep penetration agent or spy — one who participated in the drug smuggling activities of the
syndicate to which the accused belong — that said accused were bringing prohibited drugs into the country; 17 (g) where the arresting
officers had received a confidential information that the accused, whose identity as a drug distributor was established in a previous
test-buy operation, would be boarding MV Dona Virginia and probably carrying shabu with him; 18 (h) where police officers received an
information that the accused, who was carrying a suspicious-looking gray luggage bag, would transport marijuana in a bag to Manila; 19
and (i) where the appearance of the accused and the color of the bag he was carrying fitted the description given by a civilian asset. 20

The warrantless search in the case at bench is not bereft of a probable cause. The Tarlac Police Intelligence Division had been
conducting surveillance operation for three months in the area. The surveillance yielded the information that once a month, appellant
and her co-accused Rosita Nunga transport drugs in big bulks. At 10:00 pm of October 19, 1996, the police received a tip that the two
will be transporting drugs that night riding a tricycle. Surely, the two were intercepted three hours later, riding a tricycle and carrying a
suspicious-looking black bag, which possibly contained the drugs in bulk. When they were asked who owned it and what its content
was, both became uneasy. Under these circumstances, the warrantless search and seizure of appellant's bag was not illegal. EaSCAH

It is also clear that at the time she was apprehended, she was committing a criminal offense. She was making a delivery or transporting
prohibited drugs in violation of Article II, Section 4 of R.A. No. 6425. Under the Rules of Court, one of the instances a police officer is
permitted to carry out a warrantless arrest is when the person to be arrested is caught committing a crime in flagrante delicto, thus:

"Section 5. Arrest without Warrant; when lawful. — 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;

(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 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.

xxx xxx xxx." 21 (italics supplied)

Appellant also takes issue of the fact that she was not assisted by a lawyer when police officers interrogated her. She claimed that she
was not duly informed of her right to remain silent and to have competent counsel of her choice. Hence, she argues that the confession
or admission obtained therein should be considered inadmissible in evidence against her.

These contentions deserve scant attention. Appellant did not make any confession during her custodial investigation. In determining the
guilt of the appellant and her co-accused, the trial court based its decision on the testimonies of prosecution witnesses and on the
existence of the confiscated marijuana. We quote the relevant portion of its decision:

"Earlier in the course of the proceedings, the court then presided by Judge Angel Parazo, granted bail to accused Agpanga
Libnao, ruling that the confiscation receipt signed by both accused (Exhibit "C") is inadmissible because they were not assisted by
a counsel. Confronted with this same issue, this court finds the postulate to rest on good authority and will therefore reiterate its
inadmissibility.

Since the prosecution had not presented any extrajudicial confession extracted from both accused as evidence of their guilt, the
court finds it needless to discuss any answer given by both accused as a result of the police interrogation while in their custody.
By force of necessity, therefore, the only issue to be resolved by the court is whether or not, based on the prosecution's evidence,
both accused can be convicted." 22 (italics supplied).

Appellant then faults the trial court for appreciating and taking into account the object and documentary evidence of the prosecution
despite the latter's failure to formally offer them. Absent any formal offer, she argues that they again must be deemed inadmissible.

The contention is untenable. Evidence not formally offered can be considered by the court as long as they have been properly identified
by testimony duly recorded and they have themselves been incorporated in the records of the case. 23 All the documentary and object
evidence in this case were properly identified, presented and marked as exhibits in court, including the bricks of marijuana. 24 Even
without their formal offer, therefore, the prosecution can still establish the case because witnesses properly identified those exhibits, and
their testimonies are recorded. 25 Furthermore, appellant's counsel had cross-examined the prosecution witnesses who testified on the
exhibits. 26

Appellant also assails the credibility of the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. She first cites the inconsistency between the
testimony of SPO1 Marlon Gamotea, who said that it was SPO2 Antonio who opened the black bag containing the marijuana; and that
of SPO2 Antonio, who declared that the bag was already open when he arrived at the Kabayan Center. She then focuses on the police
officers' failure to remember the family name of the driver of the tricycle where she allegedly rode, claiming that this is improbable and
contrary to human experience.

Again, appellant's arguments lack merit. The alleged inconsistencies she mentions refer only to minor details and not to material points
regarding the basic elements of the crime. They are inconsequential that they do not affect the credibility of the witnesses nor detract
from the established fact that appellant and her co-accused were transporting marijuana. Testimonies of witnesses need only
corroborate each other on important and relevant details concerning the principal occurrence. 27 The identity of the person who opened
the bag is clearly immaterial to the guilt of the appellant. Besides, it is to be expected that the testimony of witnesses regarding the
same incident may be inconsistent in some aspects because different persons may have different recollections of the same incident. 28

 
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Likewise, we find nothing improbable in the failure of the police officers to note and remember the name of the tricycle driver for the
reason that it was unnecessary for them to do so. It was not shown that the driver was in complicity with the appellant and her
co-accused in the commission of the crime.

To be sure, credence was properly accorded to the testimonies of prosecution witnesses, who are law enforcers. When police officers
have no motive to testify falsely against the accused, courts are inclined to uphold this presumption. 29 In this case, no evidence has
been presented to suggest any improper motive on the part of the police enforcers in arresting the appellant.

Against the credible positive testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, appellant's defense of denial and alibi cannot stand. The defense
of denial and alibi has been invariably viewed by the courts with disfavor for it can just as easily be concocted and is a common and
standard defense ploy in most cases involving violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act. 30 It has to be substantiated by clear and
convincing evidence. 31 The sole proof presented in the lower court by the appellant to support her claim of denial and alibi was a sworn
statement, which was not even affirmed on the witness stand by the affiant. Hence, we reject her defense.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the instant appeal is DENIED. The decision of the trial court finding appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the offense of violation of Article II, Section 4 of R.A. No. 6425 in relation to R.A. No. 7659, and sentencing her to an imprisonment of
reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of two million pesos is hereby AFFIRMED. EcATDH

SO ORDERED.

Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona and Carpio Morales, JJ., concur.

||| (People v. Libnao y Kitten, G.R. No. 136860, [January 20, 2003], 443 PHIL 506-521) 

14. People vs. Susan Canton, G.R. No. 148825, December 27, 2002 

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 148825. December 27, 2002.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. SUSAN CANTON, appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Perlas, De Guzman, Antonio, Venturanza, Quizon-Venturanza & Herbosa Law Firm, Sandoval & Ozamiz for accused-appellant.

SYNOPSIS

Appellant was charge with violation of Section 16 of Article III of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 (Republic Act No. 6425). At the trial,
the prosecution established that at the time of the commission of the crime, appellant was at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport
(NAIA), being a departing passenger bound for Saigon, Vietnam. When she passed through metal detector booth, a beeping sound was
emitted. Consequently, the frisker on duty frisked and searched appellant. The frisker felt something bulging at appellant's abdominal
area so she was brought to a comfort room for a thorough physical examination. It was discovered that appellant was carrying
packages containing shabu. After due proceedings, the trial court found her guilty as charged. Hence, this appeal. aCITEH

In affirming the conviction of appellant, the Supreme Court ruled that the search was made pursuant to routine airport security
procedure, which is allowed under Section 9 of Republic Act No. 6235. This constitutes another exception to the proscription against
warrantless searches and seizures. In the said provision, passengers are subject to search for prohibited materials or substances. To
limit the action of the airport security personnel to simply refusing her entry into the aircraft and sending her home, and thereby
depriving them of the ability and facility to act accordingly, including to further search without warrant, in light of such circumstances,
would be to sanction impotence and ineffectiveness in law enforcement, to the detriment of society. Thus, the strip search in the ladies'
room was justified under the circumstances.

The search conducted on appellant resulted in the discovery and recovery of three packages containing shabu. Such warrantless
search and seizure was legal. Armed with the knowledge that appellant was committing a crime, the airport security personnel and
police authorities were duty-bound to arrest her. Her subsequent arrest without a warrant was justified, since it was effected upon the
discovery and recovery of shabu in her person flagrante delicto.

SYLLABUS

1. POLITICAL LAW; CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; BILL OF RIGHTS; RIGHT AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURES;
THE CONSTITUTION BARS STATE INTRUSIONS TO A PERSON'S BODY, PERSONAL EFFECTS OR RESIDENCE EXCEPT THRU
A VALID SEARCH WARRANT. — What constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable search in any particular case is a judicial question,
determinable from a consideration of the circumstances involved. The rule is that the Constitution bars State intrusions to a person's

 
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body, personal effects or residence except if conducted by virtue of a valid search warrant issued in compliance with the procedure
outlined in the Constitution and reiterated in the Rules of Court.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; EXCEPTIONS TO RULE. — The interdiction against warrantless searches and seizures is not absolute. The
recognized exceptions established by jurisprudence are (1) search of moving vehicles; (2) seizure in plain view; (3) customs searches;
(4) waiver or consented searches; (5) stop and frisk situations (Terry search); and (6) search incidental to a lawful arrest.

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; SEARCH INCIDENTAL TO A LAWFUL ARREST; THE LAW REQUIRES THAT THERE BE FIRST A
LAWFUL ARREST BEFORE A SEARCH CAN BE MADE. — SUSAN's arrest did not precede the search. When the metal detector
alarmed while SUSAN was passing through it, the lady frisker on duty forthwith made a pat down search on the former. In the process,
the latter felt a bulge on SUSAN's abdomen. The strip search that followed was for the purpose of ascertaining what were the packages
concealed on SUSAN's body. If ever at the time SUSAN was deprived of her will and liberty, such restraint did not amount to an arrest.
Under Section 1 of Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended, arrest is the "taking of a person into custody in
order that he may be bound to answer for the commission of an offense." As pointed out by the appellant, prior to the strip search in the
ladies' room, the airport security personnel had no knowledge yet of what were hidden on SUSAN's body; hence, they did not know yet
whether a crime was being committed. It was only after the strip search upon the discovery by the police officers of the white crystalline
substances inside the packages, which they believed to be shabu, that SUSAN was arrested. The search cannot, therefore, be said to
have been done incidental to a lawful arrest. In a search incidental to a lawful arrest, the law requires that there be first a lawful arrest
before a search can be made; the process cannot be reversed.

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; STOP AND FRISK SITUATIONS OR TERRY SEARCH, DEFINED. — The Terry search or the "stop and
frisk" situation refers to a case where a police officer approaches a person who is acting suspiciously, for purposes of investigating
possibly criminal behavior in line with the general interest of effective crime prevention and detection. To assure himself that the person
with whom he is dealing is not armed with a weapon that could unexpectedly and fatally be used against him, he could validly conduct a
carefully limited search of the outer clothing of such person to discover weapons which might be used to assault him.

5. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; SEARCH MADE PURSUANT TO ROUTINE AIRPORT SECURITY PROCEDURE; SEARCH OF
PROHIBITED MATERIALS OR SUBSTANCES; CASE AT BAR. — In the present case, the search was made pursuant to routine airport
security procedure, which is allowed under Section 9 of Republic Act No. 6235 reading as follows: "SEC. 9. Every ticket issued to a
passenger by the airline or air carrier concerned shall contain among others the following condition printed thereon: 'Holder hereof and
his hand-carried luggage(s) are subject to search for, and seizure of, prohibited materials or substances. Holder refusing to be searched
shall not be allowed to board the aircraft,' which shall constitute a part of the contract between the passenger and the air carrier." This
constitutes another exception to the proscription against warrantless searches and seizures. As admitted by SUSAN and shown in
Annex "D" of her Brief, the afore-quoted provision is stated in the "Notice to All Passengers" located at the final security checkpoint at
the departure lounge. From the said provision, it is clear that the search, unlike in the Terry search, is not limited to weapons.
Passengers are also subject to search for prohibited materials or substances. . . . To limit the action of the airport security personnel to
simply refusing her entry into the aircraft and sending her home (as suggested by appellant), and thereby depriving them of "the ability
and facility to act accordingly, including to further search without warrant, in light of such circumstances, would be to sanction impotence
and ineffectiveness in law enforcement, to the detriment of society." Thus, the strip search in the ladies' room was justified under the
circumstances. TAIcaD

6. STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION; STARE DECISIS ET NON QUIETA MOVERE; WHEN THE COURT HAS ONCE LAID DOWN A
PRINCIPLE OF LAW AS APPLICABLE TO CERTAIN STATE OF FACTS, IT MUST ADHERE TO THAT PRINCIPLE AND APPLY IT TO
ALL FUTURE CASES WHERE THE FACTS ARE SUBSTANTIALLY THE SAME. — The maxim — stare decisis et non quieta movere
— invokes adherence to precedents and mandates not to unsettle things which are established. When the court has once laid down a
principle of law as applicable to a certain state of facts, it must adhere to that principle and apply it to all future cases where the facts
are substantially the same.

7. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; ARREST WITHOUT WARRANT, WHEN LAWFUL; CASE AT BAR. — Section 5, Rule
113 of the Rules of Court, as amended, provides: "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"; . . . The present case falls under paragraph (a) of the afore-quoted Section. The search conducted
on SUSAN resulted in the discovery and recovery of three packages containing white crystalline substances, which upon examination
yielded positive results for methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu. As discussed earlier, such warrantless search and seizure were
legal. Armed with the knowledge that SUSAN was committing a crime, the airport security personnel and police authorities were
duty-bound to arrest her. As held in People v. Johnson, her subsequent arrest without a warrant was justified, since it was effected upon
the discovery and recovery of shabu in her person flagrante delicto.

8. POLITICAL LAW; CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; BILL OF RIGHTS; CUSTODIAL INVESTIGATION, DEFINED; RIGHT TO COUNSEL
AFFORDED AN ACCUSED UNDER CUSTODIAL INVESTIGATION, NOT VIOLATED IN CASE AT BAR. — The rights provided in
Section 12, Article III of the Constitution may be invoked only when a person is under "custodial investigation" or is "in custody
interrogation." Custodial investigation refers to the "questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into
custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way." This presupposes that he is suspected of having
committed a crime and that the investigator is trying to elicit information or a confession from him. And the right to counsel attaches
upon the start of such investigation. The objective is to prohibit "incommunicado" interrogation of individuals in a police-dominated
atmosphere, resulting in self-incriminating statements without full warnings of constitutional rights. In this case, as testified to by the
lone witness for the defense, SPO2 Jerome Cause, no custodial investigation was conducted after SUSAN's arrest. She affixed her
signature to the receipt of the articles seized from her, but before she did so, she was told that she had the option to sign or not to sign.
it. In any event, her signature to the packages was not relied upon by the prosecution to prove its case. Moreover, no statement was

 
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taken from her during her detention and used in evidence against her. Hence, her claim of violation of her right to counsel has no leg to
stand on.

9. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; ADMISSIBILITY OF EVIDENCE; HEARSAY RULE; A MEDICAL REPORT WHICH IS NOT
PROPERLY IDENTIFIED IS NOT ADMISSIBLE IN EVIDENCE. — SUSAN assails, on the ground of violation of the hearsay rule, the
admission of the medical report on the physical and medical examination conducted upon appellant's request, . . . The admission of the
questioned document was erroneous because it was not properly identified. Nevertheless, even without the medical report, appellant's
conviction will stand, as the court's finding of guilt was not based on that document. TEcCHD

10. CRIMINAL LAW; REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6425 (THE DANGEROUS DRUGS ACT OF 1972); PENALTY FOR VIOLATION THEREOF.
— Sections 16 and 20 of Article III of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 (Republic Act No. 6425), as amended, provides: "SEC. 16.
Possession or Use of Regulated Drugs. — The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand
pesos to ten million pesos shall be imposed upon any person who shall possess or use any regulated drug without the corresponding
license or prescription, subject to the provisions of Section 20 hereof . . . . SEC. 20. Application of Penalties, Confiscation and Forfeiture
of the Proceeds or Instruments of the Crime. — The penalties for offenses under Sections 3, 4, 7, 8, and 9 of Article II and Sections 14,
14-A, 15 and 16 of Article III of this Act shall be applied if the dangerous drugs involved [are] in any of the following quantities: . . . 3.
200 grams or more of shabu or methylamphetamine hydrochloride." There being no aggravating nor mitigating circumstance, the proper
penalty is reclusion perpetua pursuant to Article 63(2) of the Revised Penal Code. As regards the fine, courts may fix any amount within
the limits established by law. For possession of regulated drugs, the law fixes the range of the fine from P500,000 to P10 million. In
view of the net weight of methamphetamine hydrochloride found in the possession of SUSAN, the trial court's imposition of fine in the
amount of P1 million is well within the range prescribed by law.

11. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; SEARCH AND SEIZURE; PERSONAL PROPERTY TO BE SEIZED; PROPERTIES
NOT INCLUDED THEREIN SHALL BE RETURNED TO ACCUSED. — Section 3 of Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure authorizes the confiscation of the following: "SEC. 3. Personal property to be seized. — A search warrant may be issued for
the search and seizure of personal property: (a) Subject of the offense; (b) Stolen or embezzled and other proceeds, or fruits of the
offense; or (c) Used or intended to be used as the means of committing an offense. Clearly, the seizure of SUSAN's passport, plane
tickets, and girdles exceeded the limits of the afore-quoted provision. They, therefore, have to be returned to her. SaIACT

DECISION

DAVIDE, JR., C.J p:

Appellant Susan Canton (hereafter SUSAN) was charged before the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City with the violation of Section 16
of Article III of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972(Republic Act No. 6425), as amended, under an Information 1 whose accusatory portion
reads as follows:

That on February 12, 1998 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above
named accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously has in her possession NINE HUNDRED NINETY EIGHT
POINT TWO EIGHT HUNDRED ZERO NINE (998.2809) GRAMS of methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug, without
the corresponding prescription or license.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 98-0189 and raffled to Branch 110 of said court.

SUSAN entered a plea of not guilty upon her arraignment.

At the trial, the prosecution presented as witnesses Forensic Chemist Julieta Flores, lady frisker Mylene Cabunoc, and SPO4 Victorio
de los Reyes.

For its part, the defense presented SPO2 Jerome Cause as its witness and had prosecution witness Mylene Cabunoc recalled to be
presented as hostile witness. It opted not to let SUSAN take the witness stand.

The evidence for the prosecution established that on 12 February 1998, at about 1:30 p.m., SUSAN was at the Ninoy Aquino
International Airport (NAIA), being a departing passenger bound for Saigon, Vietnam. 2 When she passed through the metal detector
booth, a beeping sound was emitted. Consequently, Mylene Cabunoc, a civilian employee of the National Action Committee on
Hijacking and Terrorism (NACHT) and the frisker on duty at that time, called her attention, saying "Excuse me ma'am, can I search
you?" 3 Upon frisking SUSAN, Mylene felt something bulging at her abdominal area. Mylene inserted her hand under the skirt of
SUSAN, pinched the package several times and noticed that the package contained what felt like rice granules. 4 When Mylene passed
her hand, she felt similar packages in front of SUSAN's genital area and thighs. She asked SUSAN to bring out the packages, but the
latter refused and said: "Money, money only." Mylene forthwith reported the matter to SPO4 Victorio de los Reyes, her supervisor on
duty. 5

SPO4 De los Reyes instructed Mylene to call Customs Examiner Lorna Jalac and bring SUSAN to a comfort room for a thorough
physical examination. Upon further frisking in the ladies' room, Mylene touched something in front of SUSAN's sex organ. She directed
SUSAN to remove her skirt, girdles and panty. SUSAN obliged. Mylene and Lorna discovered three packages individually wrapped and
sealed in gray colored packing tape, which SUSAN voluntarily handed to them. 6 The first was taken from SUSAN's abdominal area; the

 
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second, from in front of her genital area; and the third, from her right thigh. 7 Mylene turned over the packages to SPO4 De los Reyes. 8
The latter forthwith informed his superior officer Police Superintendent Daniel Santos about the incident. Together with SUSAN, they
brought the gray plastic packs to the customs examination table, opened the same and found that they contained white crystalline
substances 9 which, when submitted for laboratory examination, yielded positive results for methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu,
a regulated drug. 10

For the defense, SPO2 Jerome Cause, an investigator of the First Regional Aviation Office, testified that no investigation was ever
conducted on SUSAN. 11 However, SUSAN signed a receipt of the following articles seized from her: (1) three bags of
methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu approximately 1,100 grams; (2) one American passport bearing Number 700389994; (3) one
Continental Micronesia plane ticket with stock control number 0414381077; and (4) two panty girdles. 12 He said that he informed
SUSAN of her constitutional rights but admitted that she did not have a counsel when she signed the receipt. 13 Yet he told her that she
had the option to sign or not to sign the receipt. 14

When recalled as witness for the defense, Mylene merely reiterated the circumstances surrounding the arrest and search of SUSAN
and the seizure of the prohibited items found on her person. 15

After consideration of the evidence presented, the trial court rendered a decision 16 finding SUSAN guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the offense of violation of Section 16 of Article III ofRepublic Act No. 6425, as amended, and sentencing her to suffer the penalty of
reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of P1 million.

SUSAN filed a Motion for Reconsideration and/or New Trial, 17 alleging therein that the trial judge erred in (1) giving weight to the
medical certificate executed by a certain Dr. Ma. Bernadette Arcena because it was not presented in court nor marked or admitted, and
is therefore hearsay evidence; (2) upholding the presumption of regularity in the performance of duty of police officers, since lady frisker
Mylene Cabunoc is not even a police officer; (3) making statements which gave the impression that the burden of proof was shifted to
the accused; and (4) deliberately ignoring the decisive issue of how the evidence was secured. SUSAN also assailed the propriety of
the search and seizure without warrant on the ground that the seized items were not in plain view. Furthermore, alleging bias and
prejudice on the part of the trial judge, SUSAN filed a motion to inhibit Judge Porfirio G. Macaraeg from resolving the Motion for
Reconsideration and/or New Trial. 18

After conducting a hearing on 24 November 2000 to resolve appellant's Motion for Reconsideration and/or New Trial, as well as the
Motion to Inhibit the Judge, the trial court issued an order 19 on 26 November 2001 denying the motions. According to the trial judge (1)
he explained to SUSAN's counsel the effects of the filing of a motion for reconsideration, but the latter chose to magnify the judge's
statement which was uttered in jest; (2) SUSAN's conviction was not based on the medical report which was not presented in court; (3)
there was no violation of SUSAN's constitutional rights because she was never interrogated during her detention without counsel; and
(4) the specimens seized from her were found after a routine frisk at the airport and were therefore acquired legitimately pursuant to
airport security procedures.

Unsatisfied with the decision of the trial court, SUSAN seasonably appealed to us, imputing to the trial court the following errors: (1) in
justifying the warrantless search against her based on the alleged existence of probable cause; (2) in holding that she was caught
flagrante delicto and that the warrantless search was incidental to a lawful arrest; (3) in not ruling that the frisker went beyond the limits
of the "Terry search" doctrine; (4) in not ruling that SUSAN was under custodial investigation without counsel; (5) in admitting to the
records of the case the report of Dr. Ma. Bernadette Arcena, which was not testified on or offered in evidence, and using the same in
determining her guilt; (6) in justifying under the rule on judicial notice its cognizance of the medical report that has not been offered in
evidence; and (7) in applying the ruling in People v. Johnson. 20

For assigned errors nos. 1 and 2, SUSAN asserts that the strip search conducted on her in the ladies' room was constitutionally
infirmed because it was not "incidental to an arrest." The arrest could not be said to have been made before the search because at the
time of the strip search, the arresting officers could not have known what was inside the plastic containers hidden on her body, which
were wrapped and sealed with gray tape. At that point then, they could not have determined whether SUSAN was actually committing a
crime. The strip search was therefore nothing but a fishing expedition. Verily, it is erroneous to say that she was caught flagrante delicto
and that the warrantless search was incidental to a lawful arrest.

For assigned error no. 3, SUSAN maintains that, following the doctrine enunciated in Terry v. Ohio, 21 such stop and frisk search should
have been limited to the patting of her outer garments in order to determine whether she was armed or dangerous and therefore a
threat to the security of the aircraft.

For assigned error no. 4, SUSAN alleges that from the moment frisker Mylene felt a package at her abdominal area, started inquiring
about the contents thereof, detained her, and decided to submit her to a strip search in the ladies' room, she was under custodial
investigation without counsel, which was violative of Section 12, Article III of the Constitution.

For assigned errors nos. 5 and 6, SUSAN assails the propriety of the admission of the medical report executed by Dr. Ma. Bernadette
Arcena on the ground that it was neither testified on nor offered in evidence.

Lastly, SUSAN questions the application of People v. Johnson 22 because of its sweeping statement allowing searches and seizures of
departing passengers in airports in view of the gravity of the safety interests involved. She stresses that the pertinent case should have
been Katz v. United States, 23 which upholds the Fourth Amendment of the United States of America that "protects people and not
places."

In its Appellant's Brief, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) declares that SUSAN was found flagrante delicto in possession of a
regulated drug without being authorized by law. Thus, the case falls squarely within the exception, being a warrantless search incidental
to a lawful arrest. Moreover, SUSAN voluntarily submitted herself to the search and seizure when she allowed herself to be frisked and
 
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brought to the comfort room for further inspection by airport security personnel. It likewise maintains that the methamphetamine
hydrochloride seized from SUSAN during the routine frisk at the airport was acquired legitimately pursuant to airport security
procedures.

Anent the admission of the medical certificate issued by Dr. Ma. Bernadette Arcena, the OSG argues that SUSAN's conviction was not
solely based on the questioned document but also on the fact that she was caught flagrante delicto in possession of a regulated drug
without being authorized by law. Consequently, it supports SUSAN's conviction but recommends the reduction of the fine from P1
million to P100,000.

We affirm SUSAN's conviction.

We do not agree that the warrantless search and subsequent seizure of the regulated drugs, as well as the arrest of SUSAN, were
violative of her constitutional rights.

Sections 2 and 3(2) of Article III of the 1987 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.

xxx xxx xxx

Sec. 3 . . .

(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

What constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable search in any particular case is a judicial question, determinable from a consideration of
the circumstances involved. The rule is that the Constitution bars State intrusions to a person's body, personal effects or residence
except if conducted by virtue of a valid search warrant issued in compliance with the procedure outlined in the Constitution and
reiterated in the Rules of Court. 24

The interdiction against warrantless searches and seizures is not absolute. The recognized exceptions established by jurisprudence are
(1) search of moving vehicles; (2) seizure in plain view; (3) customs searches; (4) waiver or consented searches; (5) stop and frisk
situations (Terry search); and (6) search incidental to a lawful arrest. 25

I. The search conducted on SUSAN was not incidental to a lawful arrest.


We do not agree with the trial court and the OSG that the search and seizure conducted in this case were incidental to a lawful arrest.
SUSAN's arrest did not precede the search. When the metal detector alarmed while SUSAN was passing through it, the lady frisker on
duty forthwith made a pat down search on the former. In the process, the latter felt a bulge on SUSAN's abdomen. The strip search that
followed was for the purpose of ascertaining what were the packages concealed on SUSAN's body. If ever at the time SUSAN was
deprived of her will and liberty, such restraint did not amount to an arrest. Under Section 1 of Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure, as amended, arrest is the "taking of a person into custody in order that he may be bound to answer for the commission of
an offense."

As pointed out by the appellant, prior to the strip search in the ladies' room, the airport security personnel had no knowledge yet of what
were hidden on SUSAN's body; hence, they did not know yet whether a crime was being committed. It was only after the strip search
upon the discovery by the police officers of the white crystalline substances inside the packages, which they believed to be shabu, that
SUSAN was arrested. The search cannot, therefore, be said to have been done incidental to a lawful arrest. In a search incidental to a
lawful arrest, the law requires that there be first a lawful arrest before a search can be made; the process cannot be reversed. 26

II. The scope of a search pursuant to airport security procedure is not confined only to search for weapons under
the "Terry search" doctrine.
The Terry search or the "stop and frisk" situation refers to a case where a police officer approaches a person who is acting suspiciously,
for purposes of investigating possibly criminal behavior in line with the general interest of effective crime prevention and detection. To
assure himself that the person with whom he is dealing is not armed with a weapon that could unexpectedly and fatally be used against
him, he could validly conduct a carefully limited search of the outer clothing of such person to discover weapons which might be used to
assault him. 27

In the present case, the search was made pursuant to routine airport security procedure, which is allowed under Section 9 of Republic
Act No. 6235 reading as follows:

SEC. 9. Every ticket issued to a passenger by the airline or air carrier concerned shall contain among others the following
condition printed thereon: "Holder hereof and his hand-carried luggage(s) are subject to search for, and seizure of, prohibited
materials or substances. Holder refusing to be searched shall not be allowed to board the aircraft," which shall constitute a part of
the contract between the passenger and the air carrier.

This constitutes another exception to the proscription against warrantless searches and seizures. As admitted by SUSAN and shown in
Annex "D" of her Brief, the afore-quoted provision is stated in the "Notice to All Passengers" located at the final security checkpoint at
the departure lounge. From the said provision, it is clear that the search, unlike in the Terry search, is not limited to weapons.
Passengers are also subject to search for prohibited materials or substances.

In this case, after the metal detector alarmed SUSAN consented to be frisked, which resulted in the discovery of packages on her body.
It was too late in the day for her to refuse to be further searched because the discovery of the packages whose contents felt like rice
granules, coupled by her apprehensiveness and her obviously false statement that the packages contained only money, aroused the

 
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suspicion of the frisker that SUSAN was hiding something illegal. It must be repeated that R.A. No. 6235 authorizes search for
prohibited materials or substances. To limit the action of the airport security personnel to simply refusing her entry into the aircraft and
sending her home (as suggested by appellant), and thereby depriving them of "the ability and facility to act accordingly, including to
further search without warrant, in light of such circumstances, would be to sanction impotence and ineffectivity in law enforcement, to
the detriment of society." 28 Thus, the strip search in the ladies' room was justified under the circumstances.

III. The ruling in People v. Johnson is applicable to the instant case.


The case of People v. Johnson, which involves similar facts and issues, finds application to the present case. That case involves
accused-appellant Lelia Johnson, who was also a departing passenger bound for the United States via Continental Airlines CS-912.
Olivia Ramirez was then the frisker on duty, whose task was to frisk departing passengers, employees and crew to check for weapons,
bombs, prohibited drugs, contraband goods and explosives. When Olivia frisked Leila, the former felt something hard on the latter's
abdominal area. Upon inquiry, Leila explained that she needed to wear two panty girdles, as she had just undergone an operation as a
result of an ectopic pregnancy. Not satisfied with the explanation, Olivia reported the matter to her superior, who then directed her to
take Leila to the nearest women's room for inspection. In the comfort room, Leila was asked "to bring out the thing under her girdle."
She acceded and brought out three plastic packs which contained a total of 580.2 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.
This Court ruled that the packs of "methamphetamine hydrochloride" seized during the routine frisk at the airport was acquired
legitimately pursuant to airport security procedures and are therefore admissible in evidence against Leila. Corollarily, her subsequent
arrest, although likewise without warrant, was justified, since it was effected upon the discovery and recovery of shabu in her
personflagrante delicto. The Court held in this wise:

Persons may lose the protection of the search and seizure clause by exposure of their persons or property to the public in a
manner reflecting a lack of subjective expectation of privacy, which expectation society is prepared to recognize as reasonable.
Such recognition is implicit in airport security procedures. With increased concern over airplane hijacking and terrorism has come
increased security at the nation's airports. Passengers attempting to board an aircraft routinely pass through metal detectors; their
carry-on baggage as well as checked luggage are routinely subjected to x-ray scans. Should these procedures suggest the
presence of suspicious objects, physical searches are conducted to determine what the objects are. There is little question that
such searches are reasonable, given their minimal intrusiveness, the gravity of the safety interests involved, and the reduced
privacy expectations associated with airline travel. Indeed, travelers are often notified through airport public address systems,
signs, and notices in their airline tickets that they are subject to search and, if any prohibited materials or substances are found,
such would be subject to seizure. These announcements place passengers on notice that ordinary constitutional protections
against warrantless searches and seizures do not apply to routine airport procedures.

SUSAN's reliance on Katz v. U.S. 29 is misplaced. The facts and circumstances of that case are entirely different from the case at bar. In
that case, the accused was convicted in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California of transmitting wagering
information by telephone. During the trial, the government was permitted, over the accused's objection, to introduce evidence of
accused's end of telephone conversations, which was overheard by FBI agents who had attached an electronic listening and recording
device to the outside of the public telephone booth from which he placed his calls. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed
the conviction. On certiorari, however, the Supreme Court of the United States of America reversed the decision, ruling that antecedent
judicial authorization, which was not given in the instant case, was a constitutional precondition of the kind of electronic surveillance
involved. It ruled that what a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own house or office, is not a subject the Fourth
Amendment protection, but what he seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally
protected.

The maxim — stare decisis et non quieta movere — invokes adherence to precedents and mandates not to unsettle things which are
established. When the court has once laid down a principle of law as applicable to a certain state of facts, it must adhere to that
principle and apply it to all future cases where the facts are substantially the same. 30 There being a disparity in the factual milieu of
Katz v. U.S. and the instant case, we cannot apply to this case the ruling in Katz.

IV. The appellant, having been caught flagrante delicto, was lawfully arrested without a warrant.
Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court, as amended, provides:

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.

In cases failing under paragraphs (a) and (b) above, the person arrested without a warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the
nearest police station or jail and shall be proceeded against in accordance with Section 7 of Rule 112.

The present case falls under paragraph (a) of the afore-quoted Section. The search conducted on SUSAN resulted in the discovery and
recovery of three packages containing white crystalline substances, which upon examination yielded positive results for
methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu. As discussed earlier, such warrantless search and seizure were legal. Armed with the
knowledge that SUSAN was committing a crime, the airport security personnel and police authorities were duty-bound to arrest her. As

 
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held in People v. Johnson, her subsequent arrest without a warrant was justified, since it was effected upon the discovery and recovery
of shabu in her person flagrante delicto.

V. The constitutional right to counsel afforded an accused under custodial investigation was not violated.
Entrenched is the rule that the rights provided in Section 12, Article III of the Constitution may be invoked only when a person is under
"custodial investigation" or is "in custody interrogation." 31 Custodial investigation refers to the "questioning initiated by law enforcement
officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way." 32 This
presupposes that he is suspected of having committed a crime and that the investigator is trying to elicit information or a confession
from him. 33And the right to counsel attaches upon the start of such investigation. 34 The objective is to prohibit "incommunicado"
interrogation of individuals in a police-dominated atmosphere, resulting in self-incriminating statements without full warnings of
constitutional rights. 35

In this case, as testified to by the lone witness for the defense, SPO2 Jerome Cause, no custodial investigation was conducted after
SUSAN's arrest. She affixed her signature to the receipt of the articles seized from her, but before she did so, she was told that she had
the option to sign or not to sign it. In any event, her signature to the packages was not relied upon by the prosecution to prove its case.
Moreover, no statement was taken from her during her detention and used in evidence against her. 36 Hence, her claim of violation of
her right to counsel has no leg to stand on. AIDSTE

VI. The admission of the medical report was erroneous.


SUSAN assails, on the ground of violation of the hearsay rule, the admission of the medical report on the physical and medical
examination conducted upon appellant's request, which contained the following:

On subsequent examinations, she was seen behaved and cooperative. She related that she was an illegitimate daughter,
married, but divorced in 1995. She verbalized, "I gamble like an addict. I gambled since I was young and I lost control of myself
when I played cards. When I lost control, I want my money back. I owe other people lots of money. I lost all the cash of my
husband. This is the first time I carried shabu. I need the money." She denied having any morbid thoughts and perceptual
disturbances. (Italics supplied).

This argument is meritorious. The admission of the questioned document was erroneous because it was not properly identified.
Nevertheless, even without the medical report, appellant's conviction will stand, as the court's finding of guilt was not based on that
document.
VII. SUSAN's conviction and the penalty imposed on her are correct.
Having found the warrantless search and seizure conducted in this case to be valid, we do not hesitate to rule that that the three
packages of shabu recovered from SUSAN are admissible in evidence against her. Supported by this evidence and the testimonies of
the prosecution witnesses, her conviction must inevitably be sustained.

Sections 16 and 20 of Article III of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 (Republic Act No. 6425), as amended, provides:

SEC. 16. Possession or Use of Regulated Drugs. — The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five
hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos shall be imposed upon any person who shall possess or use any regulated drug
without the corresponding license or prescription, subject to the provisions of Section 20 hereof.

xxx xxx xxx

SEC. 20. Application of Penalties, confiscation and Forfeiture of the Proceeds or Instruments of the Crime. — The penalties for
offenses under Section 3, 4, 7, 8, and 9 of Article II and Sections 14, 14-A, 15 and 16 of Article III of this Act shall be applied if the
dangerous drugs involved [are] in any of the following quantities:

xxx xxx xxx

3. 200 grams or more of shabu or methylamphetamine hydrochloride . . .

There being no aggravating nor mitigating circumstance, the proper penalty is reclusion perpetua pursuant to Article 63(2) of the
Revised Penal Code.

As regards the fine, courts may fix any amount within the limits established by law. For possession of regulated drugs, the law fixes the
range of the fine from P500,000 to P10 million. In view of the net weight of methamphetamine hydrochloride found in the possession of
SUSAN, the trial court's imposition of fine in the amount of P1 million is well within the range prescribed by law.

VIII. The other items seized from the appellant should be returned to her.
Section 3 of Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure authorizes the confiscation of the following:

SEC. 3. Personal property to be seized. — A search warrant may be issued for the search and seizure of personal property:

(a) Subject of the offense;

(b) Stolen or embezzled and other proceeds, or fruits of the offense; or

(c) Used or intended to be used as the means of committing an offense.

Clearly, the seizure of SUSAN's passport, plane tickets, and girdles exceeded the limits of the afore-quoted provision. They, therefore,
have to be returned to her. 37

 
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IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 110, in Criminal Case No. 98-0189
finding appellant SUSAN CANTON guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the violation of Section 16, Article III of the Dangerous Act of
1972 (Republic Act No. 6425), as amended, and sentencing her to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetuaand to pay a fine of One
Million Pesos (P1,000,000) and the costs is hereby AFFIRMED. The appellant's passport, plane tickets, and girdles are hereby ordered
to be returned to her. DaESIC

Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.

Vitug, Ynares-Santiago, Carpio and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

||| (People v. Canton, G.R. No. 148825, [December 27, 2002], 442 PHIL 743-764) 

15. People vs. Solayao, 262 SCRA 255 

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 119220. September 20, 1996.]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. NILO SOLAYAO, accused-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Violeta M. Pareña for accused-appellant.

SYLLABUS

1. CRIMINAL LAW; P.D. NO. 1866; ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF FIREARM AND AMMUNITION; ELEMENTS THEREOF. — This Court,
in the case of People v. Lualhati ruled that in crimes involving illegal possession of firearm, the prosecution has the burden of proving
the elements thereof, viz: (a) the existence of the subject firearm and (b) the fact that the accused who owned or possessed it does not
have the corresponding license or permit to possess the same.

2. POLITICAL LAW; CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSED; RIGHT AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND
SEIZURES; WARRANTLESS SEARCH BEFORE MAKING AN ARREST JUSTIFIED BY SUSPICIOUS CONDUCT OF ACCUSED;
CASE AT BENCH. — Accused appellant argued that the trial court erred in admitting the subject firearm in evidence as it was the
product of an unlawful warrantless search. He maintained that the search made on his person violated his constitutional right to be
secure in his person and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Not only was the search made without a warrant but it
did not fall under any of the circumstances enumerated under Section 5, Rule 113 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure. . . . Under
the circumstances obtaining in this case, however, accused-appellant's arguments are hardly tenable. He and his companions' drunken
actuations aroused the suspicion of SPO3 Niño's group. After SPO3 Niño told accused-appellant not to run away, the former identified
himself as a government agent. The peace officers did not know that he had committed, or was actually committing, the offense of
illegal possession of firearm. Tasked with verifying the report that there were armed men roaming in the barangays surrounding
Caibiran, their attention was understandably drawn to the group that had aroused their suspicion. They could not have known that the
object wrapped in coconut leaves which accused-appellant was carrying hid a firearm. As with Posadas, where this Court ruled that the
search and seizure brought about by the suspicious conduct of Posadas himself can be likened to a "stop and frisk" situation. There
was probable cause to conduct a search even before an arrest could be made. . . ., the case at bar constitutes an instance where a
search and seizure may be effected without first making an arrest. There was justifiable cause to "stop and frisk" accused-appellant
when his companions fled upon seeing the government agents. Under the circumstances, the government agents could not possibly
have procured a search warrant first. Thus, there was no violation of the constitutional guarantee against unreasonable searches and
seizures. Nor was there error on the part of the trial court when it admitted the homemade firearm as evidence.

3. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; PROSECUTION MUST RELY ON STRENGTH OF ITS OWN EVIDENCE; LACK OF LICENSE TO
POSSESS FIREARM NOT SUFFICIENTLY ESTABLISHED IN CASE AT BENCH. — As to the question of whether or not the
prosecution was able to prove the second element, that is, the absence of a license or permit to possess the subject firearm, this Court
agrees with the Office of the Solicitor General which pointed out that the prosecution failed to prove that accused-appellant lacked the
necessary permit or license to possess the subject firearm. . . . This Court agrees with the argument of the Solicitor General that "while
the prosecution was able to establish the fact that the subject firearm was seized by the police from the possession of appellant, without
the latter being able to present any license or permit to possess the same, such fact alone is not conclusive proof that he was not
lawfully authorized to carry such firearm. In other words, such fact does not relieve the prosecution from its duty to establish the lack of
a license or permit to carry the firearm by clear and convincing evidence, like a certification from the government agency concerned."
Putting it differently, "when a negative is averred in a pleading, or a plaintiff's case depends upon the establishment of a negative, and
the means of proving the fact are equally within the control of each party, then the burden of proof is upon the party averring the
negative." In this case, a certification from the Firearms and Explosives Unit of the Philippine National Police that accused-appellant

 
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was not a licensee of a firearm of any kind or caliber would have sufficed for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt the
second element of the crime of illegal possession of firearm.

4. ID.; ID.; EXTRAJUDICIAL ADMISSION BY ACCUSED NOT SUFFICIENT TO PROVE LACK OF A LICENSE; CASE AT BENCH. —
In the case at bar, the prosecution was only able to prove by testimonial evidence that accused-appellant admitted before Police Officer
Niño at the time that he was accosted that he did not have any authority or license to carry the subject firearm when he was asked if he
had one. In other words, the prosecution relied on accused-appellant's admission to prove the second element. . . . By its very nature,
an "admission is the mere acknowledgment of a fact or of circumstances from which guilt may be inferred tending to incriminate the
speaker, but not sufficient of itself to establish his guilt." In other words, it is a "statement by defendant of fact or facts pertinent to issues
pending, in connection with proof of other facts or circumstances, to prove guilt, but which is, of itself, insufficient to authorize
conviction." From the above principles, this Court can infer that an admission in criminal cases is insufficient to prove beyond
reasonable doubt the commission of the crime charged. Moreover, said admission is extra-judicial in nature. As such, it does not fall
under Section 4 of Rule 129 of the Revised Rules of Court . . . . Not being a judicial admission, said statement by accused-appellant
does not prove beyond reasonable doubt the second element of illegal possession of firearm. It does not even establish a prima facie
case. It merely bolsters the case for the prosecution but does not stand as proof of the fact of absence or lack of a license.

DECISION

ROMERO, J p:

Accused-appellant Nilo Solayao was charged before the Regional Trial Court of Naval, Biliran, Branch 16, with the crime of illegal
possession of firearm and ammunition 1 defined and penalized under Presidential Decree No. 1866.

The lone prosecution witness, SPO3 Jose Niño, narrated that at about 9:00 o'clock in the evening of July 9, 1992, with
CAFGU members Teofilo Llorad, Jr. and Cecilio Cenining, he went to Barangay Caulangohan, Caibiran, Biliran. They were to
conduct an intelligence patrol as required of them by their intelligence officer to verify reports on the presence of armed persons
roaming around the barangays of Caibiran. 2
From Barangay Caulangohan, the team of Police Officer Niño proceeded to Barangay Onion where they met the group of
accused-appellant Nilo Solayao numbering five. The former became suspicious when they observed that the latter were drunk and
that accused-appellant himself was wearing a camouflage uniform or a jungle suit. Accused-appellant's companions, upon seeing
the government agents, fled. 3
Police Officer Niño told accused-appellant not to run away and introduced himself as "PC," after which he seized the dried
coconut leaves which the latter was carrying and found wrapped in it a 49-inch long homemade firearm locally known as "latong."
When he asked accused-appellant who issued him a license to carry said firearm or whether he was connected with the military or
any intelligence group, the latter answered that he had no permission to possess the same. Thereupon, SPO3 Niño confiscated the
firearm and turned him over to the custody of the policemen of Caibiran who subsequently investigated him and charged him with
illegal possession of firearm. 4
Accused-appellant, in his defense, did not contest the confiscation of the shotgun but averred that this was only given to
him by one of his companions, Hermogenes Cenining, when it was still wrapped in coconut leaves. He claimed that he was not
aware that there was a shotgun concealed inside the coconut leaves since they were using the coconut leaves as a torch. He
further claimed that this was the third torch handed to him after the others had been used up. 5 Accused-appellant's claim was
corroborated by one Pedro Balano that he indeed received a torch from Hermogenes Cenining which turned out to be a shotgun
wrapped in coconut leaves. 6
On August 25, 1994, the trial court found accused-appellant guilty of illegal possession of firearm under Section 1 of
Presidential Decree No. 1866 and imposed upon him the penalty of imprisonment ranging from reclusion temporalmaximum to
reclusion perpetua. The trial court, having found no mitigating but one aggravating circumstance of nighttime, sentenced
accused-appellant to suffer the prison term of reclusion perpetua with the accessory penalties provided by law. 7 It found that
accused-appellant did not contest the fact that SPO3 Niño confiscated the firearm from him and that he had no permit or license to
possess the same. It hardly found credible accused-appellant's submission that he was in possession of the firearm only by
accident and that upon reaching Barangay Onion, he followed four persons, namely, Hermogenes Cenining, Antonio Sevillano,
Willie Regir and Jovenito Jaro when he earlier claimed that he did not know his companions. 8
Accused-appellant comes to this Court on appeal and assigns the following errors:
"I. The trial court erred in admitting in evidence the homemade firearm.

II. The trial court erred in appreciating the aggravating circumstance of nighttime in the imposition of the maximum
penalty against the accused-appellant." 9

This Court, in the case of People v. Lualhati 10 ruled that in crimes involving illegal possession of firearm, the prosecution has the
burden of proving the elements thereof, viz: (a) the existence of the subject firearm and (b) the fact that the accused who owned or
possessed it does not have the corresponding license or permit to possess the same.

In assigning the first error, accused-appellant argued that the trial court erred in admitting the subject firearm in evidence
as it was the product of an unlawful warrantless search. He maintained that the search made on his person violated his

 
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constitutional right to be secure in his person and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Not only was the search
made without a warrant but it did not fall under any of the circumstances enumerated under Section 5, Rule 113 of the 1985 Rules
on Criminal Procedure which provides, inter alia:
"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."

Hence, the search being unlawful, the homemade firearm confiscated from him is inadmissible in evidence for being "the fruit of the
poisonous tree." 11 As such, the prosecution's case must necessarily fail and the accused-appellant acquitted.

Accused-appellant's arguments follow the line of reasoning in People v. Cuizon, et al. 12 where this Court declared: ". . .
emphasis is to be laid on the fact that the law requires that the search be incident to a lawful arrest, in order that the search itself
may likewise be considered legal. Therefore, it is beyond cavil that a lawful arrest must precede the search of a person and his
belongings. Were a search first undertaken, then an arrest effected based on evidence produced by the search, both such search
and arrest would be unlawful, for being contrary to law."
Under the circumstances obtaining in this case, however, accused-appellant's arguments are hardly tenable. He and his
companions' drunken actuations aroused the suspicion of SPO3 Niño's group, as well as the fact that he himself was attired in a
camouflage uniform or a jungle suit 13 and that upon espying the peace officers, his companions fled. It should be noted that the
peace officers were precisely on an intelligence mission to verify reports that armed persons were roaming around the barangays
of Caibiran. 14
The circumstances in this case are similar to those obtaining in Posadas v. Court of Appeals 15 where this Court held that
"at the time the peace officers identified themselves and apprehended the petitioner as he attempted to flee, they did not know that
he had committed, or was actually committing the offense of illegal possession of firearm and ammunitions. They just suspected
that he was hiding something in the buri bag. They did not know what its contents were. The said circumstances did not justify an
arrest without a warrant."
This Court, nevertheless, ruled that the search and seizure in the Posadas case brought about by the suspicious conduct
of Posadas himself can be likened to a "stop and frisk" situation. There was probable cause to conduct a search even before an
arrest could be made.
In the present case, after SPO3 Niño told accused-appellant not to run away, the former identified himself as a
government agent. 16 The peace officers did not know that he had committed, or was actually committing, the offense of illegal
possession of firearm. Tasked with verifying the report that there were armed men roaming in the barangays surrounding Caibiran,
their attention was understandably drawn to the group that had aroused their suspicion. They could not have known that the object
wrapped in coconut leaves which accused-appellant was carrying hid a firearm.
As with Posadas, the case at bar constitutes an instance where a search and seizure may be effected without first making
an arrest. There was justifiable cause to "stop and frisk" accused-appellant when his companions fled upon seeing the government
agents. Under the circumstances, the government agents could not possibly have procured a search warrant first.
Thus, there was no violation of the constitutional guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures. Nor was there
error on the part of the trial court when it admitted the homemade firearm as evidence.
As to the question of whether or not the prosecution was able to prove the second element, that is, the absence of a
license or permit to possess the subject firearm, this Court agrees with the Office of the Solicitor General which pointed out that the
prosecution failed to prove that accused-appellant lacked the necessary permit or license to possess the subject firearm. 17
Undoubtedly, it is the constitutional presumption of innocence that lays such burden upon the prosecution. The absence of
such license and legal authority constitutes an essential ingredient of the offense of illegal possession of firearm, and every
ingredient or essential element of an offense must be shown by the prosecution by proof beyond reasonable doubt. 18
In People v. Tiozon, 19 this Court said:
"It is true that People vs. Lubo, 101 Phil. 179 and People vs. Ramos, 8 SCRA 758 could be invoked to support the view that it is
incumbent upon a person charged with illegal possession of a firearm to prove the issuance to him of a license to possess the
firearm, but we are of the considered opinion that under the provisions of Section 2, Rule 131 of the Rules of Court which provide
that in criminal cases the burden of proof as to the offense charged lies on the prosecution and that a negative fact alleged by the
prosecution must be proven if 'it is an essential ingredient of the offense charged,' the burden of proof was with the prosecution in
this case to prove that the firearm used by appellant in committing the offense charged was not properly licensed.

It cannot be denied that the lack or absence of a license is an essential ingredient of the offense of illegal possession of a firearm.
The information filed against appellant in Criminal Case No. 3558 of the lower court (now G.R. No. 27681) specifically alleged that
he had no 'license or permit to possess' the .45 caliber pistol mentioned therein. Thus it seems clear that it was the prosecution's
duty not merely to allege that negative fact but to prove it. This view is supported by similar adjudicated cases. In U.S. vs. Tria, 17
Phil. 303, the accused was charged with 'having criminally inscribed himself as a voter knowing that he had none of the
qualifications required to be a voter. It was there held that the negative fact of lack of qualification to be a voter was an essential
element of the crime charged and should be proved by the prosecution. In another case (People vs. Quebral, 68 Phil. 564) where
the accused was charged with illegal practice of medicine because he had diagnosed, treated and prescribed for certain diseases
suffered by certain patients from whom he received monetary compensation, without having previously obtained the proper
certificate of registration from the Board of Medical Examiners, as provided in Section 770 of the Administrative Code, this Court
held that if the subject of the negative averment like, for instance, the act of voting without the qualifications provided by law is an
essential ingredient of the offense charged, the prosecution has the burden of proving the same, although in view of the difficulty
of proving a negative allegation, the prosecution, under such circumstance, need only establish a prima facie case from the best
evidence obtainable. In the case before Us, both appellant and the Solicitor General agree that there was not even aprima facie
case upon which to hold appellant guilty of the illegal possession of a firearm. Former Chief Justice Moran upholds this view as
follows:

 
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'The mere fact that the adverse party has the control of the better means of proof of the fact alleged, should not relieve
the party making the averment of the burden of proving it. This is so, because a party who alleges a fact must be
assumed to have acquired some knowledge thereof, otherwise he could not have alleged it. Familiar instance of this is
the case of a person prosecuted for doing an act or carrying on a business, such as, the sale of liquor without a license.
How could the prosecution aver the want of a license if it had acquired no knowledge of that fact? Accordingly, although
proof of the existence or non-existence of such license can, with more facility, be adduced by the defendant, it is
nevertheless, incumbent upon the party alleging the want of the license to prove the allegation. Naturally, as the subject
matter of the averment is one which lies peculiarly within the control or knowledge of the accused prima facie evidence
thereof on the part of the prosecution shall suffice to cast the onus upon him.' (6 Moran, Comments on the Rules of
Court, 1963 edition, p. 8)."

Finally, the precedents cited above have been crystallized as the present governing case law on this question. As this Court summed
up the doctrine in People v. Macagaling: 20

"We cannot see how the rule can be otherwise since it is the inescapable duty of the prosecution to prove all the ingredients of the
offense as alleged against the accused in an information, which allegations must perforce include any negative element provided
by the law to integrate that offense. We have reiterated quite recently the fundamental mandate that since the prosecution must
allege all the elements of the offense charged, then it must prove by the requisite quantum of evidence all the elements it has thus
alleged."

In the case at bar, the prosecution was only able to prove by testimonial evidence that accused-appellant admitted before Police Officer
Niño at the time that he was accosted that he did not have any authority or license to carry the subject firearm when he was asked if he
had one. 21 In other words, the prosecution relied on accused-appellant's admission to prove the second element.

Is this admission sufficient to prove beyond reasonable doubt the second element of illegal possession of firearm which is
that accused-appellant does not have the corresponding license? Corollary to the above question is whether an admission by the
accused-appellant can take the place of any evidentiary means establishing beyond reasonable doubt the fact averred in the
negative in the pleading and which forms an essential ingredient of the crime charged.
This Court answers both questions in the negative. By its very nature, an "admission is the mere acknowledgment of a fact
or of circumstances from which guilt may be inferred, tending to incriminate the speaker, but not sufficient of itself to establish his
guilt." 22 In other words, it is a "statement by defendant of fact or facts pertinent to issues pending, in connection with proof of other
facts or circumstances, to prove guilt, but which is, of itself, insufficient to authorize conviction." 23 From the above principles, this
Court can infer that an admission in criminal cases is insufficient to prove beyond reasonable doubt the commission of the crime
charged.
Moreover, said admission is extra-judicial in nature. As such, it does not fall under Section 4 of Rule 129 of the Revised
Rules of Court which states:
"An admission, verbal or written, made by a party in the course of the trial or other proceedings in the same case does not require
proof."

Not being a judicial admission, said statement by accused-appellant does not prove beyond reasonable doubt the second element of
illegal possession of firearm. It does not even establish a prima facie case. It merely bolsters the case for the prosecution but does not
stand as proof of the fact of absence or lack of a license.

This Court agrees with the argument of the Solicitor General that "while the prosecution was able to establish the fact that
the subject firearm was seized by the police from the possession of appellant, without the latter being able to present any license or
permit to possess the same, such fact alone is not conclusive proof that he was not lawfully authorized to carry such firearm. In
other words, such fact does not relieve the prosecution from its duty to establish the lack of a license or permit to carry the firearm
by clear and convincing evidence, like a certification from the government agency concerned." 24
Putting it differently, "when a negative is averred in a pleading, or a plaintiff's case depends upon the establishment of a
negative, and the means of proving the fact are equally within the control of each party, then the burden of proof is upon the party
averring the negative." 25
In this case, a certification from the Firearms and Explosives Unit of the Philippine National Police that accused-appellant
was not a licensee of a firearm of any kind or caliber would have sufficed for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt the
second element of the crime of illegal possession of firearm.
In view of the foregoing, this Court sees no need to discuss the second assigned error.
WHEREFORE, the assailed judgment of the court a quo is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accused-appellant Nilo Solayao
is hereby ACQUITTED for insufficiency of evidence and ordered immediately released unless there are other legal grounds for his
continued detention, with costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
Regalado, Puno and Torres, Jr., JJ ., concur.

Mendoza, J ., is on leave.

||| (People v. Solayao, G.R. No. 119220, [September 20, 1996], 330 PHIL 811-824) 

 
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16. People vs. Molina, G.R. No. 133917, February 19, 2001 

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 133917. February 19, 2001.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. NASARIO MOLINA y MANAMAT @ "BOBONG" and
GREGORIO MULA y MALAGURA @ "BOBOY", accused-appellants.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Ateneo Legal Aid Office for accused-appellant.

SYNOPSIS

In the morning of August 8, 1995, the PNP, Precinct No. 3, Matina, Davao City, dispatched the team of SP04 Dionisio
Cloribel, SP02 Paguidopon and SPO1 Pamplona to proceed to the house of SPO1 Marino Paguidopon, after the latter received an
information from his informer that an alleged marijuana pusher will be passing at that place anytime that morning. At around 9:30, a
"trisikad" carrying Nasario Molina and Gregorio Mula passed by. SPO1 Paguidopon then pointed at Nasario and Gregorio as the
pushers. The team then immediately boarded the vehicle, overtook the "trisikad" and then requested it to stop. Mula then handed
the black bag, which he was holding to Molina. After introducing himself as police officer, Pamplona requested Molina to open the
bag. Molina replied " Boss, if possible we will settle this." Pamplona however insisted on opening the bag, which revealed the
marijuana leaves inside.

For unlawful possession of 946.9 grams of dried marijuana, accused-Nasario Molina and Gregorio Mula were found by
the Regional Trial Court of Davao City guilty of violation of Section 8, of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 (Republic Act No. 6425),
as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, and sentenced them to death. 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, were valid
because accused-appellants were caught in flagrant delicto in possession of prohibited drugs.

Hence, this automatic review.

In acquitting accused-appellants of the crime charged, the Supreme Court held that the 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 in flagrant delicto arrest. 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. Thus, the Court held that the arrest of accused-appellants did 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.

SYLLABUS

1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; BILL OF RIGHTS; RIGHT AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURE:
EXCLUSIONARY RULE; RATIONALE FOR THE RULE. — 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 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 Thus: 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.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; EXCEPTIONS. — The 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
 
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evidence in plain view; (5) when the accused himself waives his right against unreasonable searches and seizures; and (6) stop
and frisk situations (Terry search).

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; A SEARCH INCIDENTAL TO LAWFUL ARREST; A LAWFUL ARREST MUST PRECEDE THE
SEARCH; PERMISSIBLE WARRANTLESS ARREST. — 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).

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; NO WAIVER OF THE RIGHT WHERE IMPLIED ACQUIESCENCE TO THE SEARCH WAS GIVEN
UNDER COERCIVE CIRCUMSTANCES. — 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

5. ID.; ID.; ID.; ILLEGALITY OF THE SEARCH RENDERS ARTICLES SEIZED INADMISSIBLE IN EVIDENCE. — 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-appellant.

6. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; ARREST; IN FLAGRANTE DELICTO ARREST. — 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.

7. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; RELIABLE INFORMATION ALONE NOT SUFFICIENT TO CONSTITUTE PROBABLE CAUSE. — 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."

8. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; REQUISITES TO BE VALID. — 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.

9. ID•, ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; NOT PRESENT IN CASE AT BAR. — 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 in flagrante 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.

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J p:

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 Decision 2 of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 17, in Criminal Case No.
37,264-96, finding accused-appellants Nasario Molina y Manamatalias "Bobong" and Gregorio Mula y Malagura alias "Boboy,"

 
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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 grams 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, Maa, 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." 14SPO1 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: EICScD
I.

THAT THE MARIJUANA IS INADMISSIBLE 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

 
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The Solicitor General filed a Manifestation and Motion (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:
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. 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. 22 Thus:
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, 30probable 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 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, 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, inPeople v. Encinada, 33 the Court ruled that no probable cause is gleanable from the act of riding a
motorela while 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 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."' 35 In declaring the warrantless arrest therein illegal, the Court said:

 
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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. 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 corner and were not creating any commotion or trouble . . .

Third, there was at all no g-round, 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 in flagrante
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. cCDAHE

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 Paguipodon, 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

 
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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., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Pardo, Buena,
Gonzaga-Reyes, De Leon, Jr. and Sandoval-Gutierrez, JJ., concur.

||| (People v. Molina y Manamat, G.R. No. 133917, [February 19, 2001], 404 PHIL 797-814) 

17. Malacat vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 123595, December 12, 1997 

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 123595. December 12, 1997.]

SAMMY MALACAT y MANDAR, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
respondents.

Brillantes, Navarro, Jumamil, Arcilla, Escolin and Martinez Law Offices for petitioner.

SYNOPSIS

In an information filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, petitioner was charged with violating Section 3 of Presidential
Decree No. 1866 for keeping, possessing and/or acquiring a hand grenade, without first securing the necessary license and permit from
the proper authorities. On arraignment, petitioner, assisted by counsel de officio, entered a plea of not guilty. After trial on the merits, the
court a quo found petitioner guilty of the crime of illegal possession of explosives under the said law and sentenced him to suffer the
penalty of not less than seventeen years, four months and one day of reclusion temporal as minimum and not more than thirty years of
reclusion perpetua, as maximum. Petitioner filed a notice of appeal indicating that he was appealing to the Supreme Court. However,
the record of the case was forwarded to the Court of Appeals. In its decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision.
Unable to accept conviction, petitioner filed the instant petition alleging that the respondent court erred in affirming the findings of the
trial court that the warrantless arrest of petitioner was valid and legal.

The Supreme Court finds the petition impressed with merit. For purposes of determining appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases, the
maximum of the penalty, and not the minimum, is taken into account. Since the maximum of the penalty is reclusion perpetua, the
appeal therefrom should have been to the Court and not the Court of Appeals. Hence, the challenged decision immediately fall in
jurisdictional grounds. Additionally, the Court is convinced that the prosecution failed to establish petitioner's guilt with moral certainty.
First, serious doubts surrounds the story of police office Yu that a grenade was found in and seized from petitioner's possession.
Notably, Yu did not identify in court the grenade he allegedly seized. Second, if indeed petitioner had a grenade with him and that two
days earlier he was with the group about to detonate an explosive at Plaza Miranda, it was then unnatural and against common
experience that petitioner simply stood in Plaza Miranda in proximity to the police officers. Lastly, even assuming that petitioner
admitted possession of the grenade during his custodial investigation police officer Serapio, such admission is inadmissible in evidence
for it was taken in palpable violation of Section 12(1) and (3) of Article III of the Constitution. Verily, the search conducted on petitioner
could not have been one incidental to a lawful arrest. In view thereof, the challenged decision of the Court of Appeals is set aside for
lack of jurisdiction and on ground of reasonable doubt.

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; APPEAL TO THE SUPREME COURT; FOR PURPOSES OF DETERMINING
APPELLATE JURISDICTION OF THE SUPREME COURT IN CRIMINAL CASES, THE MAXIMUM OF THE PENALTY IMPOSABLE BY
LAW IS TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT AND NOT THE MINIMUM. — For purposes of determining appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases, the
maximum of the penalty, and not the minimum, is taken into account. Since the maximum of the penalty is reclusion perpetua, the
appeal therefrom should have been to Supreme Court, and not the Court of Appeals, pursuant to Section 9(3) of the Judiciary
Reorganization Act of 1980 (B.P. Blg. 129), in relation to Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948, Section 5(2) of Article VIII of the
Constitution and Section 3(c) of Rule 122 of the Rules of Court. The term life imprisonment as used in Section 9 of B.P. Blg. 129, the
Judiciary Act of 1948, and Section 3 of Rule 122 must be deemed to include reclusion perpetua in view of Section 5(2) of Article VIII of
the Constitution.

2. ID.; ID.; RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSED; PETITIONER'S ADMISSION OF POSSESSION OF THE GRENADE DURING CUSTODIAL
INVESTIGATION, WITHOUT THE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL, INADMISSIBLE IN EVIDENCE. — Even assuming that petitioner
admitted possession of the grenade during his custodial investigation by police officer Serapio, such admission was inadmissible in
evidence for it was taken in palpable violation of Section 12(1) and (3) of Article III of the Constitution. Serapio conducted the custodial
investigation on petitioner the day following his arrest. No lawyer was present and Serapio could not have requested a lawyer to assist

 
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petitioner as no PAO lawyer was then available. Thus, even if petitioner consented to the investigation and waived his rights to remain
silent and to counsel, the waiver was invalid as it was not in writing, neither was it executed in the presence of counsel.

3. ID.; ID.; WARRANTLESS ARREST; LACK OF PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE ON THE PART OF THE ARRESTING OFFICER OR AN
OVERT PHYSICAL ACT ON THE PART OF THE ACCUSED, INDICATING THAT THE CRIME HAD JUST BEEN COMMITTED, OR
WAS GOING TO BE COMMITTED, MAKES THE SEARCH CONDUCTED ON THE ACCUSED NOT ONE INCIDENTAL TO A LAWFUL
ARREST; CASE AT BAR. — In a search incidental to a lawful arrest, as the precedent arrest determines the validity of the incidental
search, the legality of the arrest is questioned in a large majority of these cases, e.g., whether an arrest was merely used as a pretext
for conducting a search. In this instance, the law requires that there first be a lawful arrest before a search can be made — the process
cannot be reversed. At bottom, assuming a valid arrest, the arresting officer may search the person of the arrestee and the area within
which the latter may reach for a weapon or for evidence to destroy, and seize any money or property found which was used in the
commission of the crime, or the fruit of the crime, or that which may be used as evidence, or which might furnish the arrestee with the
means of escaping or committing violence. Here, there could have been no valid in flagrante delicto or hot pursuit 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. Having thus shown the invalidity
of the warrantless arrest in this case, plainly, the search conducted on petitioner could not have been one incidental to a lawful arrest.

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; "STOP AND FRISK" AS A "LIMITED PROTECTIVE SEARCH OF OUTER CLOTHING FOR WEAPONS";
JUSTIFICATION FOR AND ALLOWABLE SCOPE THEREOF. — We now proceed to the justification for and allowable scope of a
"stop-and-frisk" as a "limited protective search of outer clothing for weapons," as laid down in Terry, thus: We merely hold today that
where a police officer observes unusual conduct which leads him reasonably to conclude in light of his experience that criminal activity
may be afoot and that the persons with whom he is dealing may be armed and presently dangerous, where in the course of
investigating this behavior he identifies himself as a policeman and makes reasonable inquiries, and where nothing in the initial stages
of the encounter serves to dispel his reasonable fear for his own or others' safety, he is entitled for the protection of himself and others
in the area to conduct a carefully limited search of the outer clothing of such persons in an attempt to discover weapons which might be
used to assault him. Such a search is a reasonable search under the Fourth Amendment . . . Other notable points of Terry are that
while probable cause is not required to conduct a "stop and frisk," it nevertheless holds that mere suspicion or a hunch will not validate
a "stop and frisk." A genuine reason must exist, in light of the police officer's experience and surrounding conditions, to warrant the
belief that the person detained has weapons concealed about him. Finally, a "stop-and-frisk" serves a two-fold interest: the general
interest of effective crime prevention and detection, which underlies the recognition that a police officer may, under appropriate
circumstances and in an appropriate manner, approach a person for purposes of investigating possible criminal behavior even without
probable cause; and (2) the more pressing interest of safety and self-preservation which permit the police officer to take steps to assure
himself that the person with whom he deals is not armed with a deadly weapon that could unexpectedly and fatally be used against the
police officer.

PANGANIBAN, J., separate opinion:

1. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; WARRANTLESS ARRESTS AND SEARCHES; PROBABLE CAUSE, NEEDED FOR
THEIR VALIDITY. — After reviewing previous decisions on valid warrantless arrests and searches, the Court underscored in sum that
there was need for facts providing probable cause, such as "the distinct odor of marijuana, reports about drug transporting or positive
identification by informers, suspicious behavior, attempt to flee, [or] failure to produce identification papers" to justify warrantless arrests
and searches. Likewise, urgency must attend such arrests and searches, as where motor vehicles are used and there is great
probability that the suspect would get away before a warrant can be procured. Most important is that the law enforcers must act
immediately on the information received, suspicions raised or probable cause established, and should effect the arrests and searches
without any delay.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; THE STOP-AND-FRISK CONDUCTED BY ORDINARY POLICEMEN AGAINST THE ACCUSED ON THE BASIS
THAT HIS EYES WERE MOVING VERY FAST AND THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT HE IS HIDING EXPLOSIVE
PARAPHERNALIA, IS ILLEGAL; CASE AT BAR. — As in Manalili, lawmen were on surveillance in response to information that a
criminal activity could be in the offing at a specified place. The stark difference, however, is that in Manalili, the reported activity involved
drug use and the lawmen belonged to the anti-narcotics group, while in the instant case, the police on patrol were ordinary law
enforcers on the lookout for possible bombers. In the former, the law enforcers concerned may be presumed to possess special
knowledge and skill to detect the physical features exhibited by a current drug user. Thus, when these specially trained enforcers saw
Manalili with reddish eyes and walking in a wobbly manner characteristic of a person "high" on drugs per their experience, and in a
known hangout of drug users, there was sufficient genuine reason to stop and frisk the suspect. It is well to emphasize that under
different circumstances such as where the policemen are not specially-trained, and in common places where people ordinarily
converge, the same features displayed by a person will not normally justify a warrantless arrest or search on him. The case before us
presents such a situation. The policemen merely observed that Malacat's eyes were moving very fast. They did not notice any bulges or
packets about the bodies of these men indicating that they might be hiding explosive paraphernalia. From their outward look, nothing
suggested that they were at the time armed and dangerous. Hence, there was no justification for a stop-and-frisk.

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; DOCTRINE LAID DOWN IN PEOPLE VS. MENGOTE, SQUARELY APPLICABLE IN CASE AT BAR. —
Bolstering the invalidity of the arrest and search of Malacat is People vs. Mengote, another classic on the right against unreasonable
searches and seizures. Upon receiving a telephone call shortly before noon from an informer that there were suspicious looking
persons at a certain street corner in Tondo, Manila, the Western Police District dispatched a surveillance team to said place. There they
saw two men "looking from side to side" with one "holding his abdomen." The police approached them and identified themselves,
whereupon the two tried to flee but failed as other lawmen surrounded them. The suspects were searched, and recovered from
Mengote was a fully loaded pistol; from his companion, a fan knife. The Court ruled that the situation was not one calling for a lawful

 
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warrantless search and arrest. As the Court, through Mr. Justice Isagani A. Cruz, succinctly put it: "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? Under our rule in
Mengote, petitioner's dubious act of moving his eyes swiftly from side to side can in no way justify a stop-and-frisk. To convict a person
on the basis only of his queer behavior and to sentence him to practically a lifetime in prison would simply be unfathomable. Nothing
can be more wrong, unjust and inhuman.

DECISION

DAVIDE, JR., J p:

In an Information 1 filed on 30 August 1990, in Criminal Case No. 90-86748 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 5,
petitioner Sammy Malacat y Mandar was charged with violating Section 3 of Presidential Decree No. 1866, 2 as follows: LLjur

That on or about August 27, 1990, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
knowingly keep, possess and/or acquire a hand grenade, without first securing the necessary license and/or permit therefor from
the proper authorities.

At arraignment 3 on 9 October 1990, petitioner, assisted by counsel de officio, entered a plea of not guilty.

At pre-trial on 11 March 1991, petitioner admitted the existence of Exhibits "A," "A-1," and "A-2," 4 while the prosecution admitted that
the police authorities were not armed with a search warrant nor warrant of arrest at the time they arrested petitioner. 5

At trial on the merits, the prosecution presented the following police officers as its witnesses: Rodolfo Yu, the arresting officer; Josefino
C. Serapio, the investigating officer; and Orlando Ramilo, who examined the grenade.

Rodolfo Yu of the Western Police District, Metropolitan Police Force of the Integrated National Police, Police Station No. 3, Quiapo,
Manila, testified that on 27 August 1990, at about 6:30 p.m., in response to bomb threats reported seven days earlier, he was on foot
patrol with three other police officers (all of them in uniform) along Quezon Boulevard, Quiapo, Manila, near the Mercury Drug store at
Plaza Miranda. They chanced upon two groups of Muslim-looking men, with each group, comprised of three to four men, posted at
opposite sides of the corner of Quezon Boulevard near the Mercury Drug Store. These men were acting suspiciously with "[t]their eyes .
. . moving very fast." 6

Yu and his companions positioned themselves at strategic points and observed both groups for about thirty minutes. The police officers
then approached one group of men, who then fled in different directions. As the policemen gave chase, Yu caught up with and
apprehended petitioner. Upon searching petitioner, Yu found a fragmentation grenade tucked inside petitioner's "front waist line." 7 Yu's
companion, police officer Rogelio Malibiran, apprehended Abdul Casan from whom a .38 caliber revolver was recovered. Petitioner and
Casan were then brought to Police Station No. 3 where Yu placed an "X" mark at the bottom of the grenade and thereafter gave it to his
commander. 8

On cross-examination, Yu declared that they conducted the foot patrol due to a report that a group of Muslims was going to explode a
grenade somewhere in the vicinity of Plaza Miranda. Yu recognized petitioner as the previous Saturday, 25 August 1990, likewise at
Plaza Miranda, Yu saw petitioner and 2 others attempt to detonate a grenade. The attempt was aborted when Yu and other policemen
chased petitioner and his companions; however, the former were unable to catch any of the latter. Yu further admitted that petitioner
and Casan were merely standing on the corner of Quezon Boulevard when Yu saw them on 27 August 1990. Although they were not
creating a commotion, since they were supposedly acting suspiciously, Yu and his companions approached them. Yu did not issue any
receipt for the grenade he allegedly recovered from petitioner. 9

Josefino C. Serapio declared that at about 9:00 a.m. of 28 August 1990, petitioner and a certain Abdul Casan were brought in by Sgt.
Saquilla 10 for investigation. Forthwith, Serapio conducted the inquest of the two suspects, informing them of their rights to remain silent
and to be assisted by competent and independent counsel. Despite Serapio's advice, petitioner and Casan manifested their willingness
to answer questions even without the assistance of a lawyer. Serapio then took petitioner's uncounselled confession (Exh. "E"), there
being no PAO lawyer available, wherein petitioner admitted possession of the grenade. Thereafter, Serapio prepared the affidavit of
arrest and booking sheet of petitioner and Casan. Later, Serapio turned over the grenade to the Intelligence and Special Action Division
(ISAD) of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit for examination. 11

On cross-examination, Serapio admitted that he took petitioner's confession knowing it was inadmissible in evidence. 12

Orlando Ramilo, a member of the Bomb Disposal Unit, whose principal duties included, among other things, the examination of
explosive devices, testified that on 22 March 1991, he received a request dated 19 March 1991 from Lt. Eduardo Cabrera and PO
Diosdado Diotoy for examination of a grenade. Ramilo then affixed an orange tag on the subject grenade detailing his name, the date
and time he received the specimen. During the preliminary examination of the grenade, he "found that [the] major components
consisting of [a] high filler and fuse assembly [were] all present," and concluded that the grenade was "[l]ive and capable of exploding."
On even date, he issued a certification stating his findings, a copy of which he forwarded to Diotoy on 11 August 1991. 13

Petitioner was the lone defense witness. He declared that he arrived in Manila on 22 July 1990 and resided at the Muslim Center in
Quiapo, Manila. At around 6:30 in the evening of 27 August 1990, he went to Plaza Miranda to catch a breath of fresh air. Shortly after,
several policemen arrived and ordered all males to stand aside. The policemen searched petitioner and two other men, but found
nothing in their possession. However, he was arrested with two others, brought to and detained at Precinct No. 3, where he was

 
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accused of having shot a police officer. The officer showed the gunshot wounds he allegedly sustained and shouted at petitioner "[i]to
ang tama mo sa akin." This officer then inserted the muzzle of his gun into petitioner's mouth and said, "[y]ou are the one who shot me."

Petitioner denied the charges and explained that he only recently arrived in Manila. However, several other police officers mauled him,
hitting him with benches and guns. Petitioner was once again searched, but nothing was found on him. He saw the grenade only in
court when it was presented. 14

The trial court ruled that the warrantless search and seizure of petitioner was akin to a "stop and frisk," where a "warrant and seizure
can be effected without necessarily being preceded by an arrest" and "whose object is either to maintain the status quo momentarily
while the police officer seeks to obtain more information."15 Probable cause was not required as it was not certain that a crime had been
committed, however, the situation called for an investigation, hence to require probable cause would have been "premature." 16 The
RTC emphasized that Yu and his companions were "[c]onfronted with an emergency, in which the delay necessary to obtain a warrant,
threatens the destruction of evidence" 17 and the officers "[h]ad to act in haste," as petitioner and his companions were acting
suspiciously, considering the time, place and "reported cases of bombing." Further, petitioner's group suddenly ran away in different
directions as they saw the arresting officers approach, thus "[i]t is reasonable for an officer to conduct a limited search, the purpose of
which is not necessarily to discover evidence of a crime, but to allow the officer to pursue his investigation without fear of violence." 18

The trial court then ruled that the seizure of the grenade from petitioner was incidental to a lawful arrest, and since petitioner "[l]ater
voluntarily admitted such fact to the police investigator for the purpose of bombing the Mercury Drug Store," concluded that sufficient
evidence existed to establish petitioner's guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

In its decision 19 dated 10 February 1994 but promulgated on 15 February 1994, the trial court thus found petitioner guilty of the crime of
illegal possession of explosives under Section 3 of P.D. No. 1866, and sentenced him to suffer:

[T]he penalty of not less than SEVENTEEN (17) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS AND ONE (1) DAY OF RECLUSION TEMPORAL,
as minimum, and not more than THIRTY (30) YEARS OF RECLUSION PERPETUA, as maximum.

On 18 February 1994, petitioner filed a notice of appeal 20 indicating that he was appealing to this Court. However, the record of the
case was forwarded to the Court of Appeals which docketed it as CA-G.R. CR No. 15988 and issued a notice to file briefs. 21

In his Appellant's Brief 22 filed with the Court of Appeals, petitioner asserted that:

1. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE SEARCH UPON THE PERSON OF
ACCUSED-APPELLANT AND THE SEIZURE OF THE ALLEGED HANDGRENADE FROM HIM "WAS AN
APPROPRIATE INCIDENT TO HIS ARREST."

2. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING AS EVIDENCE AGAINST ACCUSED-APPELLANT THE


HANDGRENADE ALLEGEDLY SEIZED FROM HIM AS IT WAS A PRODUCT OF AN UNREASONABLE
AND ILLEGAL SEARCH.

In sum, petitioner argued that the warrantless arrest was invalid due to absence of any of the conditions provided for in Section 5 of
Rule 113 of the Rules of Court, citing People vs. Mengote. 23 As such, the search was illegal, and the hand grenade seized,
inadmissible in evidence.

In its Brief for the Appellee, the Office of the Solicitor General agreed with the trial court and prayed that its decision be affirmed in toto.
24

In its decision of 24 January 1996, 25 the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court, noting, first, that petitioner abandoned his original
theory before the court a quo that the grenade was "planted" by the police officers; and second, the factual finding of the trial court that
the grenade was seized from petitioner's possession was not raised as an issue. Further, respondent court focused on the admissibility
in evidence of Exhibit "D," the hand grenade seized from petitioner. Meeting the issue squarely, the Court of Appeals ruled that the
arrest was lawful on the ground that there was probable cause for the arrest as petitioner was "attempting to commit an offense," thus:

We are at a loss to understand how a man, who was in possession of a live grenade and in the company of other suspicious
character[s] with unlicensed firearm[s] lurking in Plaza Miranda at a time when political tension ha[d] been enkindling a series of
terroristic activities, [can] claim that he was not attempting to commit an offense. We need not mention that Plaza Miranda is
historically notorious for being a favorite bomb site especially during times of political upheaval. As the mere possession of an
unlicensed grenade is by itself an offense, Malacat's posture is simply too preposterous to inspire belief.

In so doing, the Court of Appeals took into account petitioner's failure to rebut the testimony of the prosecution witnesses that they
received intelligence reports of a bomb threat at Plaza Miranda; the fact that PO Yu chased petitioner two days prior to the latter's
arrest, or on 27 August 1990; and that petitioner and his companions acted suspiciously, the "accumulation" of which was more than
sufficient to convince a reasonable man that an offense was about to be committed. Moreover, the Court of Appeals observed:

The police officers in such a volatile situation would be guilty of gross negligence and dereliction of duty, not to mention of gross
incompetence, if they [would] first wait for Malacat to hurl the grenade, and kill several innocent persons while maiming numerous
others, before arriving at what would then be an assured but moot conclusion that there was indeed probable cause for an arrest.
We are in agreement with the lower court in saying that the probable cause in such a situation should not be the kind of proof
necessary to convict, but rather the practical considerations of everyday life on which a reasonable and prudent mind, and not
legal technicians, will ordinarily act.

Finally, the Court of Appeals held that the rule laid down in People v. Mengote, 26 which petitioner relied upon, was inapplicable in light
of "[c]rucial differences," to wit:

 
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[In Mengote] the police officers never received any intelligence report that someone [at] the corner of a busy street [would] be in
possession of a prohibited article. Here the police officers were responding to a [sic] public clamor to put a check on the series of
terroristic bombings in the Metropolis, and, after receiving intelligence reports about a bomb threat aimed at the vicinity of the
historically notorious Plaza Miranda, they conducted foot patrols for about seven days to observe suspicious movements in the
area. Furthermore, in Mengote, the police officers [had] no personal knowledge that the person arrested has committed, is
actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense. Here, PO3 Yu [had] personal knowledge of the fact that he chased
Malacat in Plaza Miranda two days before he finally succeeded in apprehending him.

Unable to accept his conviction, petitioner forthwith filed the instant petition and assigns the following errors:

1. THE RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE FINDING OF THE TRIAL COURT THAT THE
WARRANTLESS ARREST OF PETITIONER WAS VALID AND LEGAL.

2. THE RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE RULING IN PEOPLE VS. MENGOTE DOES NOT
FIND APPLICATION IN THE INSTANT CASE.

In support thereof, petitioner merely restates his arguments below regarding the validity of the warrantless arrest and search, then
disagrees with the finding of the Court of Appeals that he was "attempting to commit a crime," as the evidence for the prosecution
merely disclosed that 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." Finally, petitioner points out the factual similarities between his case and
that of People v. Mengote to demonstrate that the Court of Appeals miscomprehended the latter.

In its Comment, the Office of the Solicitor General prays that we affirm the challenged decision.

For being impressed with merit, we resolved to give due course to the petition.

The challenged decision must immediately fall on jurisdictional grounds. To repeat, the penalty imposed by the trial court was:

[N]ot less than SEVENTEEN (17) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS AND ONE (1) DAY OF RECLUSION TEMPORAL, as minimum,
and not more than THIRTY (30) YEARS OFRECLUSION PERPETUA, as maximum.

The penalty provided by Section 3 of P.D. No. 1866 upon any person who shall unlawfully possess grenades is reclusion temporal in its
maximum period to reclusion perpetua.

For purposes of determining appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases, the maximum of the penalty, and not the minimum, is taken into
account. Since the maximum of the penalty is reclusion perpetua, the appeal therefrom should have been to us, and not the Court of
Appeals, pursuant to Section 9(3) of the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 (B.P. Blg. 129), 27 in relation to Section 17 of the Judiciary
Act of 1948, 28 Section 5(2) of Article VIII of the Constitution 29 and Section 3(c) of Rule 122 of the Rules of Court. 30 The term "life
imprisonment" as used in Section 9 of B.P. Blg. 129, the Judiciary Act of 1948, and Section 3 of Rule 122 must be deemed to
includereclusion perpetua in view of Section 5(2) of Article VIII of the Constitution.

Petitioner's Notice of Appeal indicated that he was appealing from the trial court's decision to this Court, yet the trial court transmitted
the record to the Court of Appeals and the latter proceeded to resolve the appeal.

We then set aside the decision of the Court of Appeals for having been rendered without jurisdiction, and consider the appeal as having
been directly brought to us, with the petition for review as petitioner's Brief for the Appellant, the comment thereon by the Office of the
Solicitor General as the Brief for the Appellee and the memoranda of the parties as their Supplemental Briefs.

Deliberating on the foregoing pleadings, we find ourselves convinced that the prosecution failed to establish petitioner's guilt with moral
certainty.

First, serious doubt surrounds the story of police officer Yu that a grenade was found in and seized from petitioner's possession.
Notably, Yu did not identify, in court, the grenade he allegedly seized. According to him, he turned it over to his commander after putting
an "X" mark at its bottom; however, the commander was not presented to corroborate this claim. On the other hand, the grenade
presented in court and identified by police officer Ramilo referred to what the latter received from Lt. Eduardo Cabrera and police officer
Diotoy not immediately after petitioner's arrest, but nearly seven (7) months later or on 19 March 1991; further, there was no evidence
whatsoever that what Ramilo received was the very same grenade seized from petitioner. In his testimony, Yu never declared that the
grenade passed on to Ramilo was the grenade the former confiscated from petitioner. Yu did not, and was not made to, identify the
grenade examined by Ramilo, and the latter did not claim that the grenade he examined was that seized from petitioner. Plainly, the law
enforcement authorities failed to safeguard and preserve the chain of evidence so crucial in cases such as these.

Second, if indeed petitioner had a grenade with him, and that two days earlier he was with a group about to detonate an explosive at
Plaza Miranda, and Yu and his fellow officers chased, but failed to arrest them, then considering that Yu and his three fellow officers
were in uniform and therefore easily cognizable as police officers, it was then unnatural and against common experience that petitioner
simply stood there in proximity to the police officers. Note that Yu observed petitioner for thirty minutes and must have been close
enough to petitioner in order to discern petitioner's eyes "moving very fast."

Finally, even assuming that petitioner admitted possession of the grenade during his custodial investigation by police officer Serapio,
such admission was inadmissible in evidence for it was taken in palpable violation of Section 12(1) and (3) of Article III of the
Constitution, which provide as follows:

SEC. 12 (1). Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to
remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the
services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of
counsel.

 
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xxx xxx xxx

(3) Any confession or admission obtained in violation of this or Section 17 hereof shall be inadmissible in evidence against him.

Serapio conducted the custodial investigation on petitioner the day following his arrest. No lawyer was present and Serapio could not
have requested a lawyer to assist petitioner as no PAO lawyer was then available. Thus, even if petitioner consented to the
investigation and waived his rights to remain silent and to counsel, the waiver was invalid as it was not in writing, neither was it
executed in the presence of counsel.

Even granting ex gratia that petitioner was in possession of a grenade, the arrest and search of petitioner were invalid, as will be
discussed below.

The general rule as regards arrests, searches and seizures is that a warrant is needed in order to validly effect the same. 31 The
Constitutional prohibition against unreasonable arrests, searches and seizures refers to those effected without a validly issued warrant,
32 subject to certain exceptions. As regards valid warrantless arrests, these are found in Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court,

which reads, in part:

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 . . .

A warrantless arrest under the circumstances contemplated under Section 5(a) has been denominated as one "in flagrante delicto,"
while that under Section 5(b) has been described as a "hot pursuit" arrest.

Turning to valid warrantless searches, they are limited to the following: (1) customs searches; (2) search of moving vehicles; (3) seizure
of evidence in plain view; (4) consent searches; 33 (5) a search incidental to a lawful arrest; 34 and (6) a "stop and frisk." 35

In the instant petition, the trial court validated the warrantless search as a "stop and frisk" with "the seizure of the grenade from the
accused [as] an appropriate incident to his arrest," hence necessitating a brief discussion on the nature of these exceptions to the
warrant requirement.

At the outset, we note that the trial court confused the concepts of a "stop-and-frisk" and of a search incidental to a lawful arrest. These
two types of warrantless searches differ in terms of the requisite quantum of proof before they may be validly effected and in their
allowable scope.

In a search incidental to a lawful arrest, as the precedent arrest determines the validity of the incidental search, the legality of the arrest
is questioned in a large majority of these cases, e.g., whether an arrest was merely used as a pretext for conducting a search. 36 In this
instance, the law requires that there first be a lawful arrest before a search can be made — the process cannot be reversed. 37 At
bottom, assuming a valid arrest, the arresting officer may search the person of the arrestee and the area within which the latter may
reach for a weapon or for evidence to destroy, and seize any money or property found which was used in the commission of the crime,
or the fruit of the crime, or that which may be used as evidence, or which might furnish the arrestee with the means of escaping or
committing violence. 38

Here, there could have been no valid in flagrante delicto or hot pursuit 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.

Having thus shown the invalidity of the warrantless arrest in this case, plainly, the search conducted on petitioner could not have been
one incidental to a lawful arrest.

We now proceed to the justification for and allowable scope of a "stop-and-frisk" as a "limited protective search of outer clothing for
weapons," as laid down in Terry; thus:

We merely hold today that where a police officer observes unusual conduct which leads him reasonably to conclude in light of his
experience that criminal activity may be afoot and that the persons with whom he is dealing may be armed and presently
dangerous, where in the course of investigating this behavior he identifies himself as a policeman and makes reasonable
inquiries, and where nothing in the initial stages of the encounter serves to dispel his reasonable fear for his own or others' safety,
he is entitled for the protection of himself and others in the area to conduct a carefully limited search of the outer clothing of such
persons in an attempt to discover weapons which might be used to assault him. Such a search is a reasonable search under the
Fourth Amendment . . . 39

Other notable points of Terry are that while probable cause is not required to conduct a "stop and frisk," 40 it nevertheless holds that
mere suspicion or a hunch will not validate a "stop and frisk." A genuine reason must exist, in light of the police officer's experience and
surrounding conditions, to warrant the belief that the person detained has weapons concealed about him. 41 Finally, a "stop-and-frisk"
serves a two-fold interest: (1) the general interest of effective crime prevention and detection, which underlies the recognition that a
police officer may, under appropriate circumstances and in an appropriate manner, approach a person for purposes of investigating
possible criminal behavior even without probable cause; and (2) the more pressing interest of safety and self-preservation which permit

 
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the police officer to take steps to assure himself that the person with whom he deals is not armed with a deadly weapon that could
unexpectedly and fatally be used against the police officer.

Here, there are at least three (3) reasons why the "stop-and-frisk" was invalid:

First, we harbor grave doubts as to Yu's claim that petitioner was a member of the group which attempted to bomb Plaza Miranda two
days earlier. This claim is neither supported by any police report or record nor corroborated by any other police officer who allegedly
chased that group. Aside from impairing Yu's credibility as a witness, this likewise diminishes the probability that a genuine reason
existed so as to arrest and search petitioner. If only to further tarnish the credibility of Yu's testimony, contrary to his claim that petitioner
and his companions had to be chased before being apprehended, the affidavit of arrest (Exh. "A") expressly declares otherwise, i.e.,
upon arrival of five (5) other police officers, petitioner and his companions were "immediately collared."

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, as Yu explicitly declared on cross-examination: cdrep

Q And what were they doing?

A They were merely standing.

Q You are sure of that?

A Yes, sir.

Q And when you saw them standing, there were nothing or they did not create any commotion?

A None, sir.

Q Neither did you see them create commotion?

A None, sir. 42

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. In fact, as noted by the trial court:

When the policemen approached the accused and his companions, they were not yet aware that a handgrenade was tucked inside his
waistline. They did not see any bulging object in [sic] his person. 43

What is unequivocal then in this case are blatant violations of petitioner's rights solemnly guaranteed in Sections 2 and 12(1) of Article
III of the Constitution.

WHEREFORE, the challenged decision of the Seventeenth Division of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 15988 is SET ASIDE
for lack of jurisdiction on the part of said Court and, on ground of reasonable doubt, the decision of 10 February 1994 of Branch 5 of the
Regional Trial Court of Manila is REVERSED and petitioner SAMMY MALACAT y MANDAR is hereby ACQUITTED and ORDERED
immediately released from detention, unless his further detention is justified for any other lawful cause.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C .J ., Regalado, Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Francisco and Martinez, JJ ., concur.

||| (Malacat y Mandar v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 123595, [December 12, 1997], 347 PHIL 462-492) 

18. People vs. Montilla, G.R. No. 123872, January 30, 1998 

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 123872. January 30, 1998.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. RUBEN MONTILLA y GATDULA, accused-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Sison Salomon Gonong Miranda & Associates for accused-appellant.

SYNOPSIS

 
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Appellant was apprehended by members of the Cavite PNP transporting 28 marijuana bricks contained in a traveling bag and a carton
box weighing 28 kilograms. The PNP officers alleged that they acted on a tip-off by an informant that a drug courier would be arriving
from Baguio City with an undetermined amount of marijuana.

Appellant during the trial disavowed ownership of the prohibited drugs. He admitted coming all the way from Baguio and proceeded to
Dasmariñas, Cavite, but denied carrying any luggage with him. The trial culminated in a verdict of guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a
decision of the trial court which imposed the extreme penalty of death on appellant.

All errors assigned by the appellant, i.e. insufficiency of evidence, unlawful warrantless search and seizure, and failure of prosecution to
establish that the 28 marijuana bricks confiscated from him were the same marijuana examined by the forensic chemist and presented
in court, did not impress the Court.

The reversible error or the trial court lies in its imposition of the penalty of death on appellant. As amended by Republic Act No. 7659,
Section 20, Article IV of the Dangerous Drugs Act now provides inter alia that the penalty in Section 4 of Article II shall be applied if the
dangerous drugs involved is, in the case of indian hemp or marijuana, 750 grams or more. In said Section 4, the transporting of
prohibited drugs carries with it the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten
million pesos. Thus, the law prescribes a penalty composed of two indivisible penalties, reclusion perpetua and death. aDcHIS

As found by the trial court, there were neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstances attending appellant's violation of the law, hence
the second paragraph of Article 63 must necessarily apply, in which case the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua is the proper
imposable penalty. Contrary to the pronouncement of the court a quo, it was never intended by the legislature that where the quantity of
the dangerous drugs involved exceeds those stated in Section 20, the maximum penalty of death shall be imposed. Nowhere in the
amendatory law is there a provision from which such a conclusion may be gleaned or deduced. On the contrary, this Court has already
concluded that Republic Act No. 7659 did not amend Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code, the rules wherein were observed although
the cocaine subject of that case was also in excess of the of quantity provided in Section 20.

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; CREDIBILITY; FINDINGS OF FACT OF THE TRIAL COURT GENERALLY NOT DISTURBED ON
APPEAL. — In the present appellate review, appellant disputes the trial court's finding that he was legally caught in flagrante
transporting the prohibited drugs. This Court, after an objective and exhaustive review of the evidence on record, discerns no reversible
error in the factual findings of the trial court. It finds unassailable the reliance of the lower court on the positive testimonies of the police
officers to whom no ill motives can be attributed, and its rejection of appellant's fragile defense of denial which is evidently self-serving
in nature.

2. ID.; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; WHERE AN OFFENSE MAY BE COMMITTED IN DIFFERENT MODES, AN INDICTMENT WOULD
SUFFICE IF THE OFFENSE IS COMMITTED IN ANY MODES SPECIFIED THEREIN. — The governing rule with respect to an offense
which may be committed in any of the different modes provided by law is that an indictment would suffice if the offense is alleged to
have been committed in one, two or more modes specified therein. This is so as allegations in the information of the various ways of
committing the offense should be considered as a description of only one offense and the information cannot be dismissed on the
ground of multifariousness.

3. ID.; ID.; CORROBORATED EVIDENCE; COULD BE DISPENSED WITH BY THE PROSECUTION. — For one, the testimony of said
informer would have been, at best, merely corroborative of the declarations of SPO1 Talingting and SPO1 Clarin before the trial court,
which testimonies are not hearsay as both testified upon matters in which they had personally taken part. As such, the testimony of the
informer could be dispensed with by the prosecution, more so where what he would have corroborated are the narrations of law
enforcers on whose performance of duties regularity is the prevailing legal presumption.

4. ID.; ID.; INFORMANTS ARE GENERALLY NOT PRESENTED IN COURT. — Informants are generally not presented in court
because of the need to hide their identities and preserve their invaluable services to the police.

5. ID.; ID.; PRESENTATION OF WITNESSES FOR THE PEOPLE PREROGATIVE OF THE PROSECUTION. — Moreover, it is up to
the prosecution whom to present in court as its witnesses, and not for the defense to dictate that course.

6. ID.; ID.; APPELLANT CAN RESORT TO COERCIVE PROCESS TO COMPEL EYEWITNESS TO APPEAR. — Appellant could very
well have resorted to the coercive process of subpoena to compel that eyewitness to appear before the court below, but which remedy
was not availed of by him.

7. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; BILL OF RIGHTS; RIGHT AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURES CONSTRUED. —
Section 2, Article III of the Constitution lays down the general rule that a search and seizure must be carried out through or on the
strength of a judicial warrant, absent which such search and seizure becomes "unreasonable" within the meaning of said constitutional
provision. Evidence secured on the occasion of such an unreasonable search and seizure is tainted and should be excluded for being
the proverbial fruit of a poisonous tree.

8. ID.; ID.; ID.; INSTANCES WHERE SEARCH AND SEIZURE WITHOUT WARRANT ALLOWED. — In the language of the
fundamental law, it shall be inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any proceeding. This exclusionary rule is not, however, an
absolute and rigid proscription. Thus, (1) customs searches; (2) searches of moving vehicles; (3) seizure of evidence in plain view; (4)
consented searches; (5) searches incidental to a lawful arrest; and (6) "stop and frisk" measures have been invariably recognized as
the traditional exceptions.

 
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9. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; SEARCH AND SEIZURE; SEARCH INCIDENTAL TO A LAWFUL ARREST, LEGAL;
CASE AT BAR. — On the defense argument that the warrantless search conducted on appellant invalidates the evidence obtained from
him, still the search on his belongings and the consequent confiscation of the illegal drugs as a result thereof was justified as a search
incidental to a lawful arrest under Section 5(a), Rule 113 of the Rules of Court. Under that provision, 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.

10. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; PROBABLE CAUSE, REQUIRED. — A legitimate warrantless arrest, as above contemplated, necessarily cloaks
the arresting police officer with authority to validly search and seize from the offender (1) dangerous weapons, and (2) those that may
be used as proof of the commission of an offense. On the other hand, the apprehending officer must have been spurred by probable
cause in effecting an arrest which could be classified as one in cadence with the instances of permissible arrests set out in Section 5(a).
These instances have been applied to arrests carried out on persons caught in flagrante delicto. DTIaHE

11. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; PROBABLE CAUSE, CONSTRUED. — The conventional view is that probable cause, while largely a relative term
the determination of which must be resolved according to the facts of each case, is understood as having reference to such facts and
circumstances which could lead a reasonable, discreet, and prudent man to believe and conclude as to the commission of an offense,
and that the objects sought in connection with the offense are in the place sought to be searched.

12. ID.; EVIDENCE; EVIDENTIARY MEASURE FOR PROPRIETY OF FILING CRIMINAL CHARGES AND FOR EFFECTION OF A
WARRANTLESS ARREST, LIBERALIZED. — Parenthetically, if we may digress, it is time to observe that the evidentiary measure for
the propriety of filing criminal charges and, correlatively, for effecting a warrantless arrest, has been reduced and liberalized. In the past,
our statutory rules and jurisprudence required prima facie evidence, which was of a higher degree or quantum, and was even used with
dubiety as equivalent to "probable cause." Yet, even in the American jurisdiction from which we derived the term and its concept,
probable cause is understood to merely mean a reasonable ground for belief in the existence of facts warranting the proceedings
complained of, or an apparent state of facts found to exist upon reasonable inquiry which would induce a reasonably intelligent and
prudent man to believe that the accused person had committed the crime. Felicitously, those problems and confusing concepts were
clarified and set aright, at least on the issue under discussion, by the 1985 amendment of the Rules of Court which provides in Rule 112
thereof that the quantum of evidence required in preliminary investigation is such evidence as suffices to "engender a well founded
belief" as to the fact of the commission of a crime and the respondent's probable guilt thereof. It has the same meaning as the related
phraseology used in other parts of the same Rule, that is, that the investigating fiscal "finds cause to hold the respondent for trial," or
where "a probable cause exists." It should, therefore, be in that sense, wherein the right to effect a warrantless arrest should be
considered as legally authorized.

13. ID.; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; WARRANTLESS ARREST AND SEARCH VALID WHERE ACCUSED WAS CAUGHT IN
FLAGRANTE DELICTO. — In the case at bar, as soon as appellant had alighted from the passenger jeepney the informer at once
indicated to the officers that their suspect was at hand by pointing to him from the waiting shed. SPO1 Clarin recounted that the
informer told them that the marijuana was likely hidden inside the traveling bag and carton box which appellant was carrying at the time.
The officers thus realized that he was their man even if he was simply carrying a seemingly innocent looking pair of luggage for
personal effects. Accordingly, they approached appellant, introduced themselves as policemen, and requested him to open and show
them the contents of the traveling bag, which appellant voluntarily and readily did. Upon cursory inspection by SPO1 Clarin, the bag
yielded the prohibited drugs, so, without bothering to further search the box, they brought appellant and his luggage to their
headquarters for questioning. 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.

14. ID.; ID.; SEARCH AND SEIZURE; WHEN AN INDIVIDUAL VOLUNTARILY SUBMITS TO A SEARCH, HE IS PRECLUDED FROM
LATER COMPLAINING THEREOF. — Furthermore, that appellant also consented to the search is borne out by the evidence. To
repeat, when the officers approached appellant and introduced themselves as policemen, they asked him about the contents of his
luggage, and after he replied that they contained personal effects, the officers asked him to open the traveling bag. Appellant readily
acceded presumably or in all likelihood resigned to the fact that the law had caught up with his criminal activities. When an individual
voluntarily submits to a search or consents to have the same conducted upon his person or premises, he is precluded from later
complaining thereof.

15. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; BILL OF RIGHTS; RIGHT AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURES; MAY BE WAIVED
EXPRESSLY OR IMPLIEDLY. — After all, the right to be secure from unreasonable search may, like other rights, be waived either
expressly or impliedly. Thus, while it has been held that the silence of the accused during a warrantless search should not be taken to
mean consent to the search but as a demonstration of that person's regard for the supremacy of the law, the case of herein appellant is
evidently different for, here, he spontaneously performed affirmative acts of volition by himself opening the bag without being forced or
intimidated to do so, which acts should properly be construed as a clear waiver of his right.

16. ID.; ID.; RIGHTS OF A PERSON ARRESTED, DETAINED OR UNDER CUSTODIAL INVESTIGATION; NON-OBSERVANCE WILL
NOT STRIKE DOWN PROCEEDINGS IN THE LOWER COURT WHERE APPELLANT DID NOT CONFESS DURING CUSTODIAL
INVESTIGATION AND WHERE HIS GUILT WAS CLEARLY ESTABLISHED BY OTHER EVIDENCE. — Appellant questions the
interrogation conducted by the police authorities, claiming that he was not allowed to communicate with anybody, and that he was not
duly informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. Indeed,
appellant has a point. The police authorities here could possibly have violated the provision of Republic Act No. 7438 which defines
 
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certain rights of persons arrested, detained, or under custodial investigation, as well as the duties of the arresting, detaining, and
investigating officers, and providing corresponding penalties for violations thereof. Assuming the existence of such irregularities,
however, the proceedings in the lower court will not necessarily be struck down. Firstly, appellant never admitted or confessed anything
during his custodial investigation. Thus, no incriminatory evidence in the nature of a compelled or involuntary confession or admission
was elicited from him which would otherwise have been inadmissible in evidence. Secondly and more importantly, the guilt of appellant
was clearly established by other evidence adduced by the prosecution, particularly the testimonies of the arresting officers together with
the documentary and object evidence which were formally offered and admitted in evidence in the court below.

17. CRIMINAL LAW; DANGEROUS DRUGS ACT, AS AMENDED; UNLAWFUL TRANSPORTATION OF MARIJUANA; PENALTY. —
As amended by Republic Act No. 7659, Section 20, Article IV of the Dangerous Drugs Act now provides inter alia that the penalty in
Section 4 of Article II shall be applied if the dangerous drugs involved is, in the case of indian hemp or marijuana, 750 grams or more.
In said Section 4, the transporting of prohibited drugs carries with it the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from
five hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos. Thus, the law prescribes a penalty composed of two indivisible penalties, reclusion
perpetua and death. As found by the trial court, there were neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstances attending appellant's
violation of the law, hence the second paragraph of Article 63 must necessarily apply, in which case the lesser penalty of reclusion
perpetua is the proper imposable penalty.

PANGANIBAN, J., separate opinion:

1. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; ARREST; ARREST WITHOUT WARRANT OF PERSON CAUGHT IN FLAGRANTE
DELICTO; NOT MET WHERE PERSON ARRESTED WAS MERELY ALIGHTING FROM A PASSENGER JEEP. — Justice Panganiban
begs to disagree with Justice Regalado's conclusion that the warrantless search conducted upon the person of appellant was valid for
being "a search incidental to a lawful arrest under Section 5(a), Rule 113 of the Rules of Court." Under the cited provision, an arrest
may be lawfully effected upon a person caught in flagrante delicto, i.e. in the very act of committing a crime. He does not see how
Appellant Montilla who was apprehended while merely alighting from a passenger jeepney carrying a travelling bag and a carton could
have been perceived by the police as committing crime at the very moment of his arrest. DHIETc

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; LAWFUL ARREST MUST PRECEDE WARRANTLESS SEARCH. — In the very recent en banc case of Malacat vs.
Court of Appeals, the Court through Mr. Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., clearly and unanimously explained the concept of search
incidental to a lawful arrest, and he quote: "In a search incidental to a lawful arrest, as the precedent arrest determines the validity of
the incidental search, the legality of the arrest is questioned in a large majority of these case, e.g., whether an arrest was merely used
as a pretext for conducting a 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. At bottom, assuming a valid arrest, the arresting officer may search the person of the arrestee and the
area within which the latter may reach for a weapon or for evidence to destroy, and seize any money or property found which was used
in the commission of the crime, of the fruit or the crime, or that which may be used as evidence, or which might furnish the arrestee with
the means of escaping or committing violence."

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE BY ARRESTING OFFICER OF OFFENSE, REQUIRED; CASE AT BAR. —
Jurisprudence is settled that under in flagrante delictorule, "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." The circumstances of the case at bar is patently wanting in fulfillment of the above standard. For one, the arresting officers
had no personal knowledge that Montilla either had just committed or was committing or attempting to commit an offense. Secondly,
even if we equate the possession of an intelligence report with personal knowledge of the commission of a crime, still, the alleged
felonious act was not performed in the presence or within the view of the arresting officers. The lawmen did not see appellant exhibit
any overt act or strange conduct that would reasonably arouse in their minds suspicion that he was embarking on some felonious
enterprise. Neither was there any mention at all by the police of any outward indication, such as bulkiness on his body that could have
suggested that he was carrying a firearm, or any peculiar smell emanating from his baggage that could have hinted that he was
carrying marijuana. In short, there was no valid ground for the warrantless arrest.

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; "HOT PURSUIT DOCTRINE," CONSTRUED. — Parenthetically, neither could Appellant Montilla's arrest be justified
under the "hot pursuit" rule. InPeople vs. Burgos, the Court said: "In arrests without a warrant under Section 6(b) [of Rule 113, Rules of
Court], 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."

5. ID.; ID.; ID.; WHERE SEARCH WAS ILLEGAL, THERE CAN BE NO VALID INCIDENTAL ARREST. — Another parallel case is
People vs. Encinada, where the appellant was searched without a warrant while also disembarking from a ship, on the strength of a tip
from an informant received by the police the previous afternoon that the appellant would be transporting prohibited drugs, the search
yielded a plastic package containing marijuana. Encinada's arrest and search were validated by the trial court under the in flagrante
delicto rule. In reversing the trial court, this Court stressed that when he disembarked from the ship or while he rode the motorela,
Encinada did not manifest any suspicious behavior that would reasonably invite the attention of the police. Under such bare
circumstances, no act or fact demonstrating a felonious enterprise could be ascribed to the accused. In short, he was not committing a
crime in the presence of the police; neither did the latter have personal knowledge of facts indicating that he just committed an offense.
Where the search was illegal, there could be no valid incidental arrest.

 
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6. ID.; ID.; ID.; WARRANTLESS ARREST; RAW INTELLIGENCE INFORMATION NOT SUFFICIENT GROUND. — The Court further
said that raw intelligence information was not a sufficient ground for warrantless arrest. Having known the identity of their suspect the
previous day, the law enforcers could have secured a judicial warrant even within such limited period.

7. ID.; ID.; SEARCH WARRANTS; APPLICATION ALLOWED DURING SATURDAYS, SUNDAYS AND LEGAL HOLIDAYS. — Under
the circumstances of the instant case, there was sufficient time for the police to have applied for search warrant. The information that
appellant would be arriving in the early morning of June 20, 1994 at Barangay Salitran, Dasmariñas, Cavite, was received by the police
at 2:00 p.m. of the preceding day. The fact that it was a Sunday did not prevent the police from securing a warrant. Administrative
Circulars 13 and 19, s. 1987 allow applications for search warrants even "after office hours, or during Saturdays, Sundays and legal
holidays" where there is an urgency and prompt action is needed. Surely, with the attendant circumstances, the arresting officers could
have easily justified the urgency of the issuance of a search warrant.

8. ID.; ID.; STRICTER GROUNDS FOR VALID ARREST AND SEARCHES WITHOUT WARRANT THAN ISSUANCE OF WARRANTS
THEREFOR. — Law and jurisprudence in fact require stricter grounds for valid arrests and searches without warrant than for the
issuance of warrants therefor. In the former, the arresting person must haveactually 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
exist reasonable grounds to believe that a crime was committed by the accused.

9. ID.; ID.; ARREST; ACTUAL DISCOVERY OF PROHIBITED DRUGS, DOES NOT CURE ILLEGALITY OF ARREST OR SEARCHES.
— Justice Panganiban submits that if the police doubts the exact identity or name of the person to be arrested or the exact place to be
searched, with more reason should they seek a judge's independent determination of the existence of probable cause. The police, in
such instances, cannot take the law into their own hands, or by themselves conclude that probable cause exists. He reiterates that the
actual discovery of prohibited drugs in the possession of the accused does not cure the illegality off his arrest or search.

10. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; BILL OF RIGHTS; RIGHT AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHERS, WAIVED IN CASE AT BAR. — In
any event, notwithstanding the illegality with which the search and arrest of Appellant Montilla was effected, J. Panganiban have to
concur with the majority in affirming his conviction, only for the reason that appellant waived his right to object to such illegality. It
appears that he did not protest when the police, after identifying themselves, asked him to open his baggage for inspection. The fact
that he voluntarily submitted to the search, without any force or intimidation on the part of the police, signifies his consent thereto.
Voluntary consent is a valid waiver of one's right against unreasonable searches. Furthermore, upon arraignment, Appellant Montilla
pleaded not guilty and proceeded to participate in the trial. Established jurisprudence holds that a plea is tantamount to foregoing an
objection to the irregularity of one's arrest. The right to question the legality of appellant's arrest may therefore be deemed to have been
waived by him. ECcTaS

DECISION

REGALADO, J p:

Accused-Appellant Ruben Montilla y Gatdula, alias "Joy," was charged on August 27, 1994 for violating Section 4, Article II of the
Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, before the Regional Trial Court, Branch
90, of Dasmariñas, Cavite in an information which alleges: cdasia

That on or about the 20th day of June 1994, at Barangay Salitran, Municipality of Dasmariñas, Province of Cavite, Philippines and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not being authorized by law, did then and there, willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously, administer, transport, and deliver twenty-eight (28) kilos of dried marijuana leaves, which are
considered prohibited drugs, in violation of the provisions of R.A. 6425 thereby causing damage and prejudice to the public
interest. 1

The consequent arraignment conducted on September 14, 1994 elicited a plea of not guilty from appellant who was assisted therein by
his counsel de parte. 2 Trial was held on scheduled dates thereafter, which culminated in a verdict of guilty in a decision of the trial court
dated June 8, 1995 and which imposed the extreme penalty of death on appellant. He was further ordered to pay a fine in the amount
of P500,000.00 and to pay the costs of the proceedings. 3

It appears from the evidence of the prosecution that appellant was apprehended at around 4:00 A.M. of June 20, 1994 near a waiting
shed located at Barangay Salitran, Dasmariñas, Cavite by SPO1 Concordio Talingting and SPO1 Armando Clarin, both members of the
Cavite Philippine National Police Command based in Dasmariñas. Appellant, according to the two officers, was caught transporting 28
marijuana bricks contained in a traveling bag and a carton box, which marijuana bricks had a total weight of 28 kilos.

These two officers later asserted in court that they were aided by an informer in the arrest of appellant. That informer, according to
Talingting and Clarin, had informed them the day before, or on June 19, 1994 at about 2:00 P.M., that a drug courier, whom said
informer could recognize, would be arriving somewhere in Barangay Salitran, Dasmariñas from Baguio City with an undetermined
amount of marijuana. It was the same informer who pinpointed to the arresting officers the appellant when the latter alighted from a
passenger jeepney on the aforestated day, hour, and place. 4

Upon the other hand, appellant disavowed ownership of the prohibited drugs. He claimed during the trial that while he indeed came all
the way from Baguio City, he traveled to Dasmariñas, Cavite with only some pocket money and without any luggage. His sole purpose
in going there was to look up his cousin who had earlier offered a prospective job at a garment factory in said locality, after which he

 
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would return to Baguio City. He never got around to doing so as he was accosted by SPO1 Talingting and SPO1 Clarin at Barangay
Salitran.

He further averred that when he was interrogated at a house in Dasmariñas, Cavite, he was never informed of his constitutional rights
and was in fact even robbed of the P500.00 which he had with him. Melita Adaci, the cousin, corroborated appellant's testimony about
the job offer in the garment factory where she reportedly worked as a supervisor, 5 although, as the trial court observed, she never
presented any document to prove her alleged employment.

In the present appellate review, appellant disputes the trial court's finding that he was legally caught in flagrante transporting the
prohibited drugs. This Court, after an objective and exhaustive review of the evidence on record, discerns no reversible error in the
factual findings of the trial court. It finds unassailable the reliance of the lower court on the positive testimonies of the police officers to
whom no ill motives can be attributed, and its rejection of appellant's fragile defense of denial which is evidently self-serving in nature.

1. Firstly, appellant asserts that the court a quo grossly erred in convicting him on the basis of insufficient evidence as no proof was
proffered showing that he willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously administered, transported, and delivered 28 kilos of dried marijuana
leaves, since the police officers "testified only on the alleged transporting of Marijuana from Baguio City to Cavite."

Further, the failure of the prosecution to present in court the civilian informant is supposedly corrosive of the People's cause since,
aside from impinging upon appellant's fundamental right to confront the witnesses against him, that informant was a vital personality in
the operation who would have contradicted the hearsay and conflicting testimonies of the arresting officers on how appellant was
collared by them.

The pertinent provision of the penal law here involved, in Section 4 of Article II thereof, as amended, is as follows:

SEC. 4. Sale, Administration, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of Prohibited Drugs. — The penalty of reclusion perpetua
to death and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos shall be imposed upon any person who, unless
authorized by law, shall sell, administer, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch in transit or transport any prohibited
drug, or shall act as a broker in any of such transactions.

Notwithstanding the provision of Section 20 of this Act to the contrary, if the victim of the offense is a minor, or should a prohibited
drug involved in any offense under this Section be the proximate cause of the death of a victim thereof, the maximum penalty
herein provided shall be imposed.

Now, the offense ascribed to appellant is a violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act, some of the various modes of commission 6 being the
sale, administration, delivery, distribution, and transportation of prohibited drugs as set forth in the epigraph of Section 4, Article II of
said law. The text of Section 4 expands and extends its punitive scope to other acts besides those mentioned in its headnote by
including these who shall sell, administer, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch in transit or transport any prohibited drug, or
shall act as a broker in any of such transactions." Section 4 could thus be violated by the commission of any of the acts specified
therein, or a combination thereof, such as selling, administering, delivering, giving away, distributing, dispatching in transit or
transporting, and the like.

As already stated, appellant was charged with a violation of Section 4, the transgressive acts alleged therein and attributed to appellant
being that he administered, delivered, and transported marijuana. The governing rule with respect to an offense which may be
committed in any of the different modes provided by law is that an indictment would suffice if the offense is alleged to have been
committed in one, two or more modes specified therein. This is so as allegations in the information of the various ways of committing
the offense should be considered as a description of only one offense and the information cannot be dismissed on the ground of
multifariousness. 7 In appellant's case, the prosecution adduced evidence clearly establishing that he transported marijuana from
Baguio City to Cavite. By that act alone of transporting the illicit drugs, appellant had already run afoul of that particular section of the
statute, hence, appellant's asseverations must fail.

The Court also disagrees with the contention of appellant that the civilian informer should have been produced in court considering that
his testimony was "vital" and his presence in court was essential in order to give effect to or recognition of appellant's constitutional right
to confront the witnesses arrayed by the State against him. These assertions are, however, much too strained. Far from compromising
the primacy of appellant's right to confrontation, the non-presentation of the informer in this instance was justified and cannot be faulted
as error.

For one, the testimony of said informer would have been, at best, merely corroborative of the declarations of SPO1 Talingting and
SPO1 Clarin before the trial court, which testimonies are not hearsay as both testified upon matters in which they had personally taken
part. As such, the testimony of the informer could be dispensed with by the prosecution, 8 more so where what he would have
corroborated are the narrations of law enforcers on whose performance of duties regularity is the prevailing legal presumption. Besides,
informants are generally not presented in court because of the need to hide their identities and preserve their invaluable services to the
police. 9 Moreover, it is up to the prosecution whom to present in court as its witnesses, and not for the defense to dictate that course. 10
Finally, appellant could very well have resorted to the coercive process of subpoena to compel that eyewitness to appear before the
court below, 11 but which remedy was not availed of by him.

2. Appellant contends that the marijuana bricks were confiscated in the course of an unlawful warrantless search and seizure. He calls
the attention of the Court to the fact that as early as 2:00 P.M. of the preceding day, June 19, 1994, the police authorities had already
been apprised by their so-called informer of appellant's impending arrival from Baguio City, hence those law enforcers had the
opportunity to procure the requisite warrant. Their misfeasance should therefore invalidate the search for and seizure of the marijuana,
as well as the arrest of appellant on the following dawn. Once again, the Court is not persuaded.

 
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Section 2, Article III of the Constitution lays down the general rule that a search and seizure must be carried out through or on the
strength of a judicial warrant, absent which such search and seizure becomes "unreasonable" within the meaning of said constitutional
provision. 12 Evidence secured on the occasion of such an unreasonable search and seizure is tainted and should be excluded for
being the proverbial fruit of a poisonous tree. In the language of the fundamental law, it shall be inadmissible in evidence for any
purpose in any proceeding. This exclusionary rule is not, however, an absolute and rigid proscription. Thus, (1) customs searches; 13 (2)
searches of moving vehicles, 14 (3) seizure of evidence in plain view; 15 (4) consented searches; 16 (5) searches incidental to a lawful
arrest; 17 and (6) "stop and frisk" measures 18 have been invariably recognized as the traditional exceptions.

In appellant's case, it should be noted that the information relayed by the civilian informant to the law enforcers was that there would be
delivery of marijuana at Barangay Salitran by a courier coming from Baguio City in the "early morning" of June 20, 1994. Even
assuming that the policemen were not pressed for time, this would be beside the point for, under these circumstances, the information
relayed was too sketchy and not detailed enough for the obtention of the corresponding arrest or search warrant. While there is an
indication that the informant knew the courier, the records do not reveal that he knew him by name.

While it is not required that the authorities should know the exact name of the subject of the warrant applied for, there is the additional
problem that the informant did not know to whom the drugs would be delivered and at which particular part of the barangay there would
be such delivery. Neither did this asset know the precise time of the suspect's arrival, or his means of transportation, the container or
contrivance wherein the drugs were concealed and whether the same were arriving together with, or were being brought by someone
separately from, the courier.

On such bare information, the police authorities could not have properly applied for a warrant, assuming that they could readily have
access to a judge or a court that was still open by the time they could make preparations for applying therefor, and on which there is no
evidence presented by the defense. In determining the opportunity for obtaining warrants, not only the intervening time is controlling but
all the coincident and ambient circumstances should be considered, especially in rural areas. In fact, the police had to form a
surveillance team and to lay down a dragnet at the possible entry points to Barangay Salitran at midnight of that day notwithstanding
the tip regarding the "early morning" arrival of the courier. Their leader, SPO2 Cali, had to reconnoiter inside and around the barangay
as backup, unsure as they were of the time when and the place in Barangay Salitran, where their suspect would show up, and how he
would do so.

On the other hand, that they nonetheless believed the informant is not surprising for, as both SPO1 Clarin and SPO1 Talingting
recalled, he had proved to be a reliable source in past operations. Moreover, experience shows that although information gathered and
passed on by these assets to law enforcers are vague and piecemeal, and not as neatly and completely packaged as one would expect
from a professional spymaster, such tip-offs are sometimes successful as it proved to be in the apprehension of appellant. If the courts
of justice are to be of understanding assistance to our law enforcement agencies, it is necessary to adopt a realistic appreciation of the
physical and tactical problems of the latter, instead of critically viewing them from the placid and clinical environment of judicial
chambers. prcd

3. On the defense argument that the warrantless search conducted on appellant invalidates the evidence obtained from him, still the
search on his belongings and the consequent confiscation of the illegal drugs as a result thereof was justified as a search incidental to a
lawful arrest under Section 5(a), Rule 113 of the Rules of Court. Under that provision, 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.

A legitimate warrantless arrest, as above contemplated, necessarily cloaks the arresting police officer with authority to validly search
and seize from the offender (1) dangerous weapons, and (2) those that may be used as proof of the commission of an offense. 19 On
the other hand, the apprehending officer must have been spurred by probable cause in effecting an arrest which could be classified as
one in cadence with the instances of permissible arrests set out in Section 5(a). 20 These instances have been applied to arrests carried
out on persons caught in flagrante delicto. The conventional view is that probable cause, while largely a relative term the determination
of which must be resolved according to the facts of each case, is understood as having reference to such facts and circumstances
which could lead a reasonable, discreet, and prudent man to believe and conclude as to the commission of an offense, and that the
objects sought in connection with the offense are in the place sought to be searched. 21

Parenthetically, if we may digress, it is time to observe that the evidentiary measure for the propriety of filing criminal charges and,
correlatively, for effecting a warrantless arrest, has been reduced and liberalized. In the past, our statutory rules and jurisprudence
required prima facie evidence, which was of a higher degree or quantum, 22 and was even used with dubiety as equivalent to "probable
cause." Yet, even in the American jurisdiction from which we derived the term and its concept, probable cause is understood to merely
mean a reasonable ground for belief in the existence of facts warranting the proceedings complained of, 23 or an apparent state of facts
found to exist upon reasonable inquiry which would induce a reasonably intelligent and prudent man to believe that the accused person
had committed the crime. 24

Felicitously, those problems and confusing concepts were clarified and set aright, at least on the issue under discussion, by the 1985
amendment of the Rules of Court which provides in Rule 112 thereof that the quantum of evidence required in preliminary investigation
is such evidence as suffices to "engender a well founded belief" as to the fact of the commission of a crime and the respondent's
probable guilt thereof. 25 It has the same meaning as the related phraseology used in other parts of the same Rule, that is, that the
investigating fiscal "finds cause to hold the respondent for trial," or where "a probable cause exists." 26 It should, therefore, be in that
sense, wherein the right to effect a warrantless arrest should be considered as legally authorized.

In the case at bar, as soon as appellant had alighted from the passenger jeepney the informer at once indicated to the officers that their
suspect was at hand by pointing to him from the waiting shed. SPO1 Clarin recounted that the informer told them that the marijuana

 
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was likely hidden inside the traveling bag and carton box which appellant was carrying at the time. The officers thus realized that he
was their man even if he was simply carrying a seemingly innocent looking pair of luggage for personal effects. Accordingly, they
approached appellant, introduced themselves as policemen, and requested him to open and show them the contents of the traveling
bag, which appellant voluntarily and readily did. Upon cursory inspection by SPO1 Clarin, the bag yielded the prohibited drugs, so,
without bothering to further search the box, they brought appellant and his luggage to their headquarters for questioning.

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 appellant's luggage. It
would obviously have been irresponsible, if not 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.

Furthermore, that appellant also consented to the search is borne out by the evidence. To repeat, when the officers approached
appellant and introduced themselves as policemen, they asked him about the contents of his luggage, and after he replied that they
contained personal effects, the officers asked him to open the traveling bag. Appellant readily acceded, presumably or in all likelihood
resigned to the fact that the law had caught up with his criminal activities. When an individual voluntarily submits to a search or
consents to have the same conducted upon his person or premises, he is precluded from later complaining thereof.

After all, the right to be secure from unreasonable search may, like other rights, be waived either expressly or impliedly. 27 Thus, while it
has been held that the silence of the accused during a warrantless search should not be taken to mean consent to the search but as a
demonstration of that person's regard for the supremacy of the law, 28 the case of herein appellant is evidently different for, here, he
spontaneously performed affirmative acts of volition by himself opening the bag without being forced or intimidated to do so, which acts
should properly be construed as a clear waiver of his right. 29

4. Appellant likewise harps on the alleged failure of the prosecution to "legally, properly and adequately establish that the 28 bricks of
marijuana allegedly confiscated from (him) were the same marijuana examined by the forensic chemist and presented in court." Indeed,
the arresting officers did not identify in court the marijuana bricks seized from appellant since, in fact they did not have to do so. It
should be noted that the prosecution presented in the court below and formally offered in evidence those 28 bricks of marijuana
together with the traveling bag and the carton box in which the same were contained. The articles were properly marked as confiscated
evidence and proper safeguards were taken to ensure that the marijuana turned over to the chemist for examination, and which
subsequently proved positive as such, were the same drugs taken from appellant. The trial court, therefore, correctly admitted them in
evidence, satisfied that the articles were indubitably no other than those taken from appellant.

Complementarily, the corpus delicti was firmly established by SPO1 Clarin and SPO1 Talingting who categorically related that when
they had ascertained that the contents of the traveling bag of appellant appeared to be marijuana, they forthwith asked him where he
had come from, and the latter readily answered "Baguio City," thus confirming the veracity of the report of the informer. No other
conclusion can therefore be derived than that appellant had transported the illicit drugs all the way to Cavite from Baguio City. Coupled
with the presentation in court of the subject matter of the crime, the marijuana bricks which had tested positive as being Indian hemp,
the guilt of appellant for transporting the prohibited drugs in violation of the law is beyond doubt. LLjur

Appellant questions the interrogation conducted by the police authorities, claiming that he was not allowed to communicate with
anybody, and that he was not duly informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of
his own choice. Indeed, appellant has a point. The police authorities here could possibly have violated the provision of Republic Act No.
7438 30 which defines certain rights of persons arrested, detained, or under custodial investigation, as well as the duties of the arresting,
detaining, and investigating officers, and providing corresponding penalties for violations thereof.

Assuming the existence of such irregularities, however, the proceedings in the lower court will not necessarily be struck down. Firstly,
appellant never admitted or confessed anything during his custodial investigation. Thus, no incriminatory evidence in the nature of a
compelled or involuntary confession or admission was elicited from him which would otherwise have been inadmissible in evidence.
Secondly and more importantly, the guilt of appellant was clearly established by other evidence adduced by the prosecution, particularly
the testimonies of the arresting officers together with the documentary and object evidence which were formally offered and admitted in
evidence in the court below.

5. The reversible error of the trial court lies in its imposition of the penalty of death on appellant. As amended by Republic Act No. 7659,
Section 20, Article IV of the Dangerous Drugs Act now provides inter alia that the penalty in Section 4 of Article II shall be applied if the
dangerous drugs involved is, in the case of Indian hemp or marijuana, 750 grams or more. In said Section 4, the transporting of
prohibited drugs carries with it the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten
million pesos. Thus, the law prescribes a penalty composed of two indivisible penalties, reclusion perpetua and death. In the present
case, Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code consequently provides the rules to be observed in the application of said penalties.

As found by the trial court, there were neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstances attending appellant's violation of the law, hence
the second paragraph of Article 63 must necessarily apply, in which case the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua is the proper
imposable penalty. Contrary to the pronouncement of the court a quo, it was never intended by the legislature that where the quantity of
the dangerous drugs involved exceeds those stated in Section 20, the maximum penalty of death shall be imposed. Nowhere in the

 
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amendatory law is there a provision from which such a conclusion may be gleaned or deduced. On the contrary, this Court has already
concluded that Republic Act No. 7659 did not amend Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code, 31 the rules wherein were observed although
the cocaine subject of that case was also in excess of the quantity provided in Section 20.

It is worth mentioning at this juncture that the law itself provides a specific penalty where the violation thereof is in its aggravated form
as laid down in the second paragraph of Section 4 whereby, regardless of Section 20 of Article IV, if the victim is a minor, or should a
prohibited drug involved in any offense in said section be the proximate cause of the death of a victim thereof, the maximum penalty
shall be imposed. 32 While the minority or the death of the victim will increase the liability of the offender, these two facts do not
constitute generic aggravating circumstances, as the law simply provides for the imposition of the single indivisible penalty of death if
the offense is attended by either of such factual features. In that situation, obviously the rules on the graduation of penalties in Article 63
cannot apply. In herein appellant's case, there was neither a minor victim nor a consequent death of any victim. Hence, the basic rules
in Article 63 of the Code govern.

WHEREFORE, the judgment of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 90, of Dasmariñas, Cavite in Criminal Case No. 3401-94 is hereby
MODIFIED in the sense that accused-appellant Ruben Montilla y Gatdula shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. In all other
respects, the judgment of the trial court is hereby AFFIRMED, with costs against accused-appellant.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C .J ., Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Kapunan, Mendoza, Francisco and Martinez, JJ ., concur.

Vitug, J., concurs in the result; but reserves his vote on the discussion of the warrantless search upon appellant as being incidental to a
lawful arrest.

||| (People v. Montilla y Gatdula, G.R. No. 123872, [January 30, 1998], 349 PHIL 640-674) 

19. People vs. Malmstedt, 196 SCRA 401 

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 91107. June 19, 1991.]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. MIKAEL MALMSTEDT, * defendant-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Romulo, Mabanta, Buenaventura, Sayoc & De los Angeles for defendant-appellant.

DECISION

PADILLA, J p:

In an information dated 15 June 1989, accused-appellant Mikael Malmstedt (hereinafter referred to as the accused) was charged before
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of La Trinidad, Benguet, Branch 10, in Criminal Case No. 89-CR-0663, for violation of Section 4, Art. II of
Republic Act 6425, as amended, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended. The factual background of the
case is as follows:

Accused Mikael Malmstedt, a Swedish national, entered the Philippines for the third time in December 1988 as a tourist. He had visited
the country sometime in 1982 and 1985.

In the evening of 7 May 1989, accused left for Baguio City. Upon his arrival thereat in the morning of the following day, he took a bus to
Sagada and stayed in that place for two (2) days.

At around 7:00 o'clock in the morning of 11 May 1989, accused went to the Nangonogan bus stop in Sagada to catch the first available
trip to Baguio City. From Baguio City, accused planned to take a late afternoon trip to Angeles City, then proceed to Manila to catch his
flight out of the country, scheduled on 13 May 1989. From Sagada, accused took a Skyline bus with body number 8005 and Plate
number AVC 902. 1

At about 8:00 o'clock in the morning of that same day (11 May 1989), Captain Alen Vasco, the Commanding Officer of the First
Regional Command (NARCOM) stationed at Camp Dangwa, ordered his men to set up a temporary checkpoint at Kilometer 14, Acop,
Tublay, Mountain Province, for the purpose of checking all vehicles coming from the Cordillera Region. The order to establish a
checkpoint in the said area was prompted by persistent reports that vehicles coming from Sagada were transporting marijuana and
other prohibited drugs. Moreover, information was received by the Commanding Officer of NARCOM, that same morning, that a
Caucasian coming from Sagada had in his possession prohibited drugs. 2

 
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The group composed of seven (7) NARCOM officers, in coordination with Tublay Police Station, set up a checkpoint at the designated
area at about 10:00 o'clock in the morning and inspected all vehicles coming from the Cordillera Region.

At about 1:30 o'clock in the afternoon, the bus where accused was riding was stopped. Sgt. Fider and CIC Galutan boarded the bus
and announced that they were members of the NARCOM and that they would conduct an inspection. The two (2) NARCOM officers
started their inspection from the front going towards the rear of the bus. Accused who was the sole foreigner riding the bus was seated
at the rear thereof.

During the inspection, CIC Galutan noticed a bulge on accused's waist. Suspecting the bulge on accused's waist to be a gun, the officer
asked for accused's passport and other identification papers. When accused failed to comply, the officer required him to bring out
whatever it was that was bulging on his waist. The bulging object turned out to be a pouch bag and when accused opened the same
bag, as ordered, the officer noticed four (4) suspicious-looking objects wrapped in brown packing tape, prompting the officer to open
one of the wrapped objects. The wrapped objects turned out to contain hashish, a derivative of marijuana.

Thereafter, accused was invited outside the bus for questioning. But before he alighted from the bus, accused stopped to get two (2)
travelling bags from the luggage carrier.

Upon stepping out of the bus, the officers got the bags and opened them. A teddy bear was found in each bag. Feeling the teddy bears,
the officer noticed that there were bulges inside the same which did not feel like foam stuffing. It was only after the officers had opened
the bags that accused finally presented his passport.

Accused was then brought to the headquarters of the NARCOM at Camp Dangwa, La Trinidad, Benguet for further investigation. At the
investigation room, the officers opened the teddy bears and they were found to also contain hashish. Representative samples were
taken from the hashish found among the personal effects of accused and the same were brought to the PC Crime Laboratory for
chemical analysis.

In the chemistry report, it was established that the objects examined were hashish, a prohibited drug which is a derivative of marijuana.
Thus, an information was filed against accused for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

During the arraignment, accused entered a plea of "not guilty." For his defense, he raised the issue of illegal search of his personal
effects. He also claimed that the hashish was planted by the NARCOM officers in his pouch bag and that the two (2) travelling bags
were not owned by him, but were merely entrusted to him by an Australian couple whom he met in Sagada. He further claimed that the
Australian couple intended to take the same bus with him but because there were no more seats available in said bus, they decided to
take the next ride and asked accused to take charge of the bags, and that they would meet each other at the Dangwa Station.

Likewise, accused alleged that when the NARCOM officers demanded for his passport and other identification papers, he handed to
one of the officers his pouch bag which was hanging on his neck containing, among others, his passport, return ticket to Sweden and
other papers. The officer in turn handed it to his companion who brought the bag outside the bus. When said officer came back, he
charged the accused that there was hashish in the bag. He was told to get off the bus and his picture was taken with the pouch bag
placed around his neck. The trial court did not give credence to accused's defense. LibLex

The claim of the accused that the hashish was planted by the NARCOM officers, was belied by his failure to raise such defense at the
earliest opportunity. When accused was investigated at the Provincial Fiscal's Office, he did not inform the Fiscal or his lawyer that the
hashish was planted by the NARCOM officers in his bag. It was only two (2) months after said investigation when he told his lawyer
about said claim, denying ownership of the two (2) travelling bags as well as having hashish in his pouch bag.

In a decision dated 12 October 1989, the trial court found accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violation of the Dangerous Drugs
Act, specifically Section 4, Art. II of RA 6425, as amended. 3 The dispositive portion of the decision reads as follows:

"WHEREFORE, finding the guilt of the accused Mikael Malmstedt established beyond reasonable doubt, this Court finds him
GUILTY of violation of Section 4, Article II ofRepublic Act 6425, as amended, and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of
life imprisonment and to pay a fine of Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00), with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency
and to pay the costs.

Let the hashish subject of this case be turned over to the First Narcotics Regional Unit at Camp Bado; Dangwa, La Trinidad,
Benguet for proper disposition under Section 20, Article IV of Republic Act 425, as amended.

SO ORDERED." 4

Seeking the reversal of the decision of the trial court finding him guilty of the crime charged, accused argues that the search of his
personal effects was illegal because it was made without a search warrant and, therefore, the prohibited drugs which were discovered
during the illegal search are not admissible as evidence against him.

The Constitution guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable
searches and seizures. 5 However, where the search is made pursuant to a lawful arrest, there is no need to obtain a search warrant. A
lawful arrest without a warrant may be made by a peace officer or a private person under the following circumstances. 6

"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

 
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(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. (6a, 17a)."

Accused was searched and arrested while transporting prohibited drugs (hashish). A crime was actually being committed by the
accused and he was caught in flagrante delicto. Thus, the search made upon his personal effects falls squarely under paragraph (1) of
the foregoing provisions of law, which allow a warrantless search incident to a lawful arrest. 7

While it is true that the NARCOM officers were not armed with a search warrant when the search was made over the personal effects of
accused, however, under the circumstances of the case, there was sufficient probable cause for said officers to believe that accused
was then and there committing a crime. LLphil

Probable cause has been defined as such facts and circumstances which could lead a reasonable, discreet and prudent man to believe
that an offense has been committed, and that the objects sought in connection with the offense are in the place sought to be searched.
8 The required probable cause that will justify a warrantless search and seizure is not determined by any fixed formula but is resolved

according to the facts of each case. 9

Warrantless search of the personal effects of an accused has been declared by this Court as valid, because of existence of probable
cause, where the smell of marijuana emanated from a plastic bag owned by the accused, 10 or where the accused was acting
suspiciously, 11 and attempted to flee. 12

Aside from the persistent reports received by the NARCOM that vehicles coming from Sagada were transporting marijuana and other
prohibited drugs, their Commanding Officer also received information that a Caucasian coming from Sagada on that particular day had
prohibited drugs in his possession. Said information was received by the Commanding Officer of NARCOM the very same morning that
accused came down by bus from Sagada on his way to Baguio City.

When NARCOM received the information, a few hours before the apprehension of herein accused, that a Caucasian travelling from
Sagada to Baguio City was carrying with him prohibited drugs, there was no time to obtain a search warrant. In the Tangliben case, 13
the police authorities conducted a surveillance at the Victory Liner Terminal located at Bgy. San Nicolas, San Fernando Pampanga,
against persons engaged in the traffic of dangerous drugs, based on information supplied by some informers. Accused Tangliben who
was acting suspiciously and pointed out by an informer was apprehended and searched by the police authorities. It was held that when
faced with on-the spot information, the police officers had to act quickly and there was no time to secure a search warrant.

It must be observed that, at first, the NARCOM officers merely conducted a routine check of the bus (where accused was riding) and
the passengers therein, and no extensive search was initially made. It was only when one of the officers noticed a bulge on the waist of
accused, during the course of the inspection, that accused was required to present his passport. The failure of accused to present his
identification papers, when ordered to do so, only managed to arouse the suspicion of the officer that accused was trying to hide his
identity. For is it not a regular norm for an innocent man, who has nothing to hide from the authorities, to readily present his
identification papers when required to do so?

The receipt of information by NARCOM that a Caucasian coming from Sagada had prohibited drugs in his possession, plus the
suspicious failure of the accused to produce his passport, taken together as a whole, led the NARCOM officers to reasonably believe
that the accused was trying to hide something illegal from the authorities. From these circumstances arose a probable cause which
justified the warrantless search that was made on the personal effects of the accused. In other words, the acts of the NARCOM officers
in requiring the accused to open his pouch bag and in opening one of the wrapped objects found inside said bag (which was discovered
to contain hashish) as well as the two (2) travelling bags containing two (2) teddy bears with hashish stuffed inside them, were
prompted by accused's own attempt to hide his identity by refusing to present his passport, and by the information received by the
NARCOM that a Caucasian coming from Sagada had prohibited drugs in his possession. To deprive the NARCOM agents of the ability
and facility to act accordingly, including, to search even without warrant, in the light of such circumstances, would be to sanction
impotence and ineffectiveness in law enforcement, to the detriment of society.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed judgment of conviction by the trial court is hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against the
accused-appellant.

SO ORDERED.

Melencio-Herrera, Paras, Feliciano, Bidin, Griño-Aquino, Medialdea, Regalado and Davide, Jr., JJ., concur.

Sarmiento, J., is on leave.

||| (People v. Malmstedt, G.R. No. 91107, [June 19, 1991], 275 PHIL 447-472) 

20. Posadas vs. Court of Appeals, 188 SCRA 288 

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 89139. August 2, 1990.]

 
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ROMEO POSADAS y ZAMORA, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and THE PEOPLE OF
THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

Rudy G. Agravante for petitioner.

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; REVISED RULES ON CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; ARREST WITHOUT WARRANT; SEC. 5, RULE 113 THEREOF.
— From the foregoing provision of law it is clear that an arrest without a warrant may be effected by a peace officer or private person,
among others, when in his presence the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an
offense; or when an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has personal knowledge of the facts indicating that the person
arrested has committed it.

2. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; BILL OF RIGHTS; WARRANTLESS SEARCH AND SEIZURE; NOT INCIDENTAL TO A LAWFUL
ARREST IN THE CASE AT BAR. — The Solicitor General, in justifying the warrantless search and seizure of the buri bag then carried
by the petitioner, argued that when the two policemen approached the petitioner, he was actually committing or had just committed the
offense of illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions in the presence of the police officers and consequently the search and
seizure of the contraband was incidental to the lawful arrest in accordance with Section 12, Rule 126 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal
Procedure. We disagree. At the time the peace officers in this case identified themselves and apprehended the petitioner as he
attempted to flee they did not know that he had committed, or was actually committing the offense of illegal possession of firearms and
ammunitions. They just suspected that he was hiding something in the buri bag. They did now know what its contents were. The said
circumstances did not justify an arrest without a warrant.

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; CAN BE VALIDLY EFFECTED WITHOUT BEING PRECEDED BY AN ARREST; CASE AT BAR. — However, there are
many instances where a warrant and seizure can be effected without necessarily being preceded by an arrest, foremost of which is the
"stop and search" without a search warrant at military or police checkpoints, the constitutionality or validity of which has been upheld by
this Court in Valmonte vs. de Villa. As between a warrantless search and seizure conducted at military or police checkpoints and the
search thereat in the case at bar, there is no question that, indeed, the latter is more reasonable considering that unlike in the former, it
was effected on the basis of a probable cause. The probable cause is that when the petitioner acted suspiciously and attempted to flee
with the buri bag there was a probable cause that he was concealing something illegal in the bag and it was the right and duty of the
police officers to inspect the same. It is too much indeed to require the police officers to search the bag in the possession of the
petitioner only after they shall have obtained a search warrant for the purpose. Such an exercise may prove to be useless, futile and
much too late.

DECISION

GANCAYCO, J p:

The validity of a warrantless search on the person of petitioner is put into issue in this case.

On October 16, 1986 at about 10:00 o'clock in the morning Pat. Ursicio Ungab and Pat. Umbra Umpar, both members of the Integrated
National Police (INP) of the Davao Metrodiscom assigned with the Intelligence Task Force, were conducting a surveillance along
Magallanes Street, Davao City. While they were within the premises of the Rizal Memorial Colleges they spotted petitioner carrying a
"buri" bag and they noticed him to be acting suspiciously.

They approached the petitioner and identified themselves as members of the INP. Petitioner attempted to flee but his attempt to get
away was thwarted by the two notwithstanding his resistance.

They then checked the "buri" bag of the petitioner where they found one (1) caliber .38 Smith & Wesson revolver with Serial No. 770196
1 two (2) rounds of live ammunition for a .38 caliber gun, 2 a smoke (tear gas) grenade 3 a and two (2) live ammunitions for a .22 caliber
gun. 4 They brought the petitioner to the police station for further investigation. In the course of the same, the petitioner was asked to
show the necessary license or authority to possess firearms and ammunitions found in his possession but he failed to do so. He was
then taken to the Davao Metrodiscom office and the prohibited articles recovered from him were indorsed to M/Sgt. Didoy, the officer
then on duty. He was prosecuted for illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions in the Regional Trial Court of Davao City wherein
after a plea of not guilty and trial on the merits a decision was rendered on October 8, 1987 finding petitioner guilty of the offense
charged as follows:

"WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, this Court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense charged.

It appearing that the accused was below eighteen (18) years old at the time of the commission of the offense (Art. 68, par. 2), he
is hereby sentenced to an indeterminate penalty ranging from TEN (10) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor to TWELVE
(12) Years, FIVE (5) months and Eleven (11) days of Reclusion Temporal, and to pay the costs.

The firearm, ammunitions and smoke grenade are forfeited in favor of the government and the Branch Clerk of Court is hereby
directed to turn over said items to the Chief, Davao Metrodiscom, Davao City." 5

 
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Not satisfied therewith the petitioner interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals wherein in due course a decision was rendered on
February 23, 1989 affirming in toto the appealed decision with costs against the petitioner. 6

Hence, the herein petition for review, the main thrust of which is that there being no lawful arrest or search and seizure, the items which
were confiscated from the possession of the petitioner are inadmissible in evidence against him. LexLib

The Solicitor General, in justifying the warrantless search of the buri bag then carried by the petitioner, argues that under Section 12,
Rule 126 of the Rules of Court a person lawfully arrested may be searched for dangerous weapons or anything used as proof of a
commission of an offense without a search warrant. It is further alleged that the arrest without a warrant of the petitioner was lawful
under the circumstances.

Section 5, Rule 113 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure provides 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 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. (6a, 17a)"

From the foregoing provision of law it is clear that an arrest without a warrant may be effected by a peace officer or private person,
among others, when in his presence the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an
offense; or when an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has personal knowledge of the facts indicating that the person
arrested has committed it.

The Solicitor General argues that when the two policemen approached the petitioner, he was actually committing or had just committed
the offense of illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions in the presence of the police officers and consequently the search and
seizure of the contraband was incidental to the lawful arrest in accordance with Section 12, Rule 126 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal
Procedure. We disagree.

At the time the peace officers in this case identified themselves and apprehended the petitioner as he attempted to flee they did not
know that he had committed, or was actually committing the offense of illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions. They just
suspected that he was hiding something in the buri bag. They did now know what its contents were. The said circumstances did not
justify an arrest without a warrant. llcd

However, there are many instances where a warrant and seizure can be effected without necessarily being preceded by an arrest,
foremost of which is the "stop and search" without a search warrant at military or police checkpoints, the constitutionality or validity of
which has been upheld by this Court in Valmonte vs. de Villa, 7 as follows:

"Petitioner Valmonte's general allegation to the effect that he had been stopped and searched without a search warrant by the
military manning the checkpoints, without more, i.e., without stating the details of the incidents which amount to a violation of his
right against unlawful search and seizure, is not sufficient to enable the Court to determine whether there was a violation of
Valmonte's right against unlawful search and seizure. Not all searches and seizures are prohibited. Those which are reasonable
are not forbidden. A reasonable search is not to be determined by any fixed formula but is to be resolved according to the facts of
each case.

Where, for example, the officer merely draws aside the curtain of a vacant vehicle which is parked on the public fair grounds, or
simply looks into a vehicle or flashes a light therein, these do not constitute unreasonable search.

The setting up of the questioned checkpoints in Valenzuela (and probably in other areas) may be considered as a security
measure to enable the NCRDC to pursue its mission of establishing effective territorial defense and maintaining peace and order
for the benefit of the public. Checkpoints may also be regarded as measures to thwart plots to destabilize the government in the
interest of public security. In this connection, the Court may take judicial notice of the shift to urban centers and their suburbs of
the insurgency movement, so clearly reflected in the increased killings in cities of police and military men by NPA "sparrow units,"
not to mention the abundance of unlicensed firearms and the alarming rise in lawlessness and violence in such urban centers, not
all of which are reported in media, most likely brought about by deteriorating economic conditions — which all sum up to what one
can rightly consider, at the very least, as abnormal times. Between the inherent right of the state to protect its existence and
promote public welfare and an individual's right against a warrantless search which is however reasonably conducted, the former
should prevail.

True, the manning of checkpoints by the military is susceptible of abuse by the men in uniform in the same manner that all
governmental power is susceptible of abuse. But, at the cost of occasional inconvenience, discomfort and even irritation to the
citizen, the checkpoints during these abnormal times, when conducted within reasonable limits, are part of the price we pay for an
orderly society and a peaceful community. (Emphasis supplied)."

Thus, as between a warrantless search and seizure conducted at military or police checkpoints and the search thereat in the case at
bar, there is no question that, indeed, the latter is more reasonable considering that unlike in the former, it was effected on the basis of a
probable cause. The probable cause is that when the petitioner acted suspiciously and attempted to flee with the buri bag there was a

 
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probable cause that he was concealing something illegal in the bag and it was the right and duty of the police officers to inspect the
same.

It is too much indeed to require the police officers to search the bag in the possession of the petitioner only after they shall have
obtained a search warrant for the purpose. Such an exercise may prove to be useless, futile and much too late.

In People vs. CFI of Rizal, 8 this Court held as follows:

". . . In the ordinary cases where warrant is indispensably necessary, the mechanics prescribed by the Constitution and reiterated
in the Rules of Court must be followed and satisfied. But We need not argue that there are exceptions. Thus in the extraordinary
events where warrant is not necessary to effect a valid search or seizure, or when the latter cannot be performed except without
warrant, what constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable search or seizure becomes purely a judicial question, determinable from
the uniqueness of the circumstances involved, including the purpose of the search or seizure, the presence or absence of
probable cause, the manner in which the search and seizure was made, the place or thing searched and the character of the
articles procured."

The Court reproduces with approval the following disquisition of the Solicitor General: cdphil

"The assailed search and seizure may still be justified as akin to a "stop and frisk" situation whose object is either to determine the
identity of a suspicious individual or to maintain the status quo momentarily while the police officer seeks to obtain more
information. This is illustrated in the case of Terry vs. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). In this case, two men repeatedly walked past a
store window and returned to a spot where they apparently conferred with a third man. This aroused the suspicion of a police
officer. To the experienced officer, the behavior of the men indicated that they were sizing up the store for an armed robbery.
When the police officer approached the men and asked them for their names, they mumbled a reply. Whereupon, the officer
grabbed one of them, spun him around and frisked him. Finding a concealed weapon in one, he did the same to the other two and
found another weapon. In the prosecution for the offense of carrying a concealed weapon, the defense of illegal search and
seizure was put up. The United States Supreme Court held that "a police officer may in appropriate circumstances and in an
appropriate manner approach a person for the purpose of investigating possible criminal behavior even though there is no
probable cause to make an arrest." In such a situation, it is reasonable for an officer rather than simply to shrug his shoulder and
allow a crime to occur, to stop a suspicious individual briefly in order to determine his identity or maintain the status quo while
obtaining more information. . . .

Clearly, the search in the case at bar can be sustained under the exceptions heretofore discussed, and hence, the constitutional
guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures has not been violated." 9

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED with costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, Cruz, Griño-Aquino and Medialdea, JJ., concur.

||| (Posadas y Zamora v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 89139, [August 2, 1990], 266 PHIL 306-313) 

21. People vs. Maspil, 188 SCRA 751 

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 85177. August 20, 1990.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. MOISES MASPIL, JR. y WAYWAY and SALCEDO BAGKING y
ALTAKI, defendants-appellants.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Peter C. Fianza for defendants-appellants.

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; CREDIBILITY OF WITNESSES; MINOR INCONSISTENCIES DO NOT AFFECT CREDIBILITY. — It
has been ruled that inconsistencies in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses not on material points is not fatal. Moreover, minor
inconsistencies are to be expected but must be disregarded if they do not affect the basic credibility of the evidence as a whole. (People
v. Marcos, G.R. No. 83325, May 8, 1990)

2. ID.; ID.; PRESUMPTION THAT OFFICIAL DUTY WAS PERFORMED APPLICABLE TO CASE AT BAR. — There is nothing in the
records to suggest that the arrest was motivated by any reason other than the desire of the police officers to accomplish their mission.
Courts generally give full faith and credit to police officers when the facts and circumstances surrounding then acts sustain the
presumption that they have performed their duties in a regular manner.

3. ID.; ID.; CREDIBILITY OF WITNESSES; TESTIMONY MUST CONFORM TO HUMAN EXPERIENCE; CASE AT BAR. — While the
appellants maintain that they did not know what was in the cargo. Their main concern was in going back to Baguio City and they saw no
need to question their two passengers on why flowers were being kept in closed cans and sacks, the appellants' version is not

 
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believable. It is inconceivable that the appellants would not even bother to ask the names of the strangers who approached them in a
restaurant at night wanting to hire their jeepney, considering that they were familiar with the identity of the passenger, Luisa Mendoza,
who hired them to transport her goods to Abatan, Buguias, Benguet. It is likewise incredible that the appellants did not show the
slightest curiousity as to why flowers were being kept in closed tin cans and sealed sacks and cellophane. On the other hand, the
appellants had clear knowledge that Luisa Mendoza was transporting cartons containing dried fish and canned goods on the trip out of
Baguio. It is contrary to human experience that the appellants would inquire about the name of the passenger and the cargo she was
loading on their jeep and not doing the same about another who would transport goods on a midnight trip. Well-settled is the rule that
evidence to be believed, must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness but it must be credible itself. No better test has yet
been found to measure the value of a witness than its conformity to the knowledge and common experience of mankind.

4. ID.; ID.; ADMISSIBILITY; SLIGHT DISCREPANCY IN THE WEIGHT IN KILOS OF MARIJUANA, NOT MATERIAL IN CASE AT BAR.
— While there is a discrepancy of 3.76 between the number of kilos stated in the information (111.9 kilos) and in the report of the
forensic chemist (115.66 kilos), the marijuana examined by the forensic chemist, which was contained in three big round tin cans, two
jute sacks (there was really only one jute sack colored light green which was confiscated but since one of the plastic sacks [green]
appeared to be tattered, some of its contents were transferred to a white jute sack), (T.S.N., June 23, 1987, p. 5) and two plastic bags
colored yellow and green (T.S.N., June 23, 1987, p. 3), was positively identified to be the same as those confiscated from the
appellants. Lt. Valeroso testified that Exhibits "B" (yellow plastic bag), "C" light green jute sack, "D" (green plastic bag), "E" (one big
can), "F" (second can), "G" (third can) were, indeed, the same articles which he saw at the back of the jeepney of the appellants.
(T.S.N., September 16, 1987, p. 5) One of the appellants, Moises Maspil, even admitted that the articles identified by Lt. Valeroso in his
testimony were indeed, the same articles confiscated from their jeepney at Sayangan, Atok, Benguet. (T.S.N., February 24, 1988, pp.
34-35) Moreover, the words "more or less" following the weight in kilos of the marijuana in the questioned information declare that the
number of kilos stated therein is just an approximation. It can therefore be a little lighter or heavier. The slight discrepancy is not
material.

5. ID.; ID.; ID.; SEARCH WITHOUT WARRANT AT CHECKPOINTS; VALIDITY THEREOF; CASE AT BAR. — Upon inspection at a
checkpoint in front of the Municipal Hall at Sayangan, Atok, Benguet, the jeep driven by Maspil with Bagking as his companion was
found loaded with suspected dried marijuana leaves. The appellants were arrested as a consequence and the suspected marijuana
leaves were confiscated. The search was conducted within reasonable limits. There was information that a sizeable volume of
marijuana will be transported to take advantage of the All Saints Day holiday wherein there will be a lot of people going to and from
Baguio City (T.S.N., September 16, 1987, p. 6). In fact, during the three day (October 30, 1986 to November 1, 1986) duration of the
checkpoint, there were also other drug related arrests made aside from that of the two appellants. As held in the case of Valmonte vs.
de Villa, G.R. No. 83988, September 29, 1989, checkpoints during these abnormal times, when conducted within reasonable limits are
part of the price we pay for an orderly society and a peaceful community. But even without the Valmonte ruling, the search would still be
valid. This case involves a search incident to a lawful arrest which is one of the exceptions to the general rule requiring a search
warrant. This exception is embodied in Section 12 of Rule 126 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure. The appellants were caught in
flagrante delicto since they were transporting the prohibited drugs at the time of their arrest. (People v. Tangliben, G.R. No. 63630, April
6, 1990) A crime was actually being committed.

6. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; NO SUFFICIENT TIME FOR POLICE OFFICERS TO OBTAIN A WARRANT IN CASE AT BAR. — The
appellants, however, cite the case of People v. Aminnudin, (163 SCRA 402 [1988]). In said case, the PC officers received information
that the accused-appellant, on board a vessel bound for Iloilo City, was carrying marijuana. When the accused-appellant was
descending the gangplank, the PC officers detained him and inspected the bag that he was carrying and found marijuana. The Court
ruled that since the marijuana was seized illegally, it is inadmissible in evidence. There are certain facts of the said case which are not
present in the case before us. In the Aminnudin case, the records showed that there was sufficient time and adequate information for
the PC officers to have obtained a warrant. The officers knew the name of the accused, that the accused was on board M/V Wilcon 9,
bound to Iloilo and the exact date of the arrival of the said vessel. On the other hand, in this case there was no information as to the
exact description of the vehicle and no definite time of the arrival. A jeepney cannot be equated with a passenger ship on the high seas.
The ruling in the Aminnudin case, is not applicable to the case at bar.

DECISION

GUTIERREZ, JR., J p:

This petition is an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City, Branch 5, the dispositive portion of
which reads:
"WHEREFORE, the Court finds and declare the accuse MOISES MASPIL, JR. y WAYWAY and SALCEDO BAGKING y ALTAKI
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal transportation of marijuana as charged and hereby sentences EACH of
them to suffer LIFE IMPRISONMENT; to pay a fine of P20,000.00, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; and to
pay their proportionate shares in the costs.

The confiscated marijuana (Exhibits "B", "B-1" to "B-23"; "C", "C-1" to "C-16", "D", "D-1" to "D-20"; "E", "E-1", to "E-14"; "F", "F-1";
"G", "G-1") are hereby declared forfeited in favor of the Government and upon the finality of this decision, the Branch Clerk of
Court is directed to turn over the same to the Dangerous Drugs Board (NBI), through the Chief, PC Crime Laboratory, Regional
Unit No. 1 Camp Dangwa, La Trinidad, Benguet, for disposition in accordance with law." (Rollo, pp. 25-26)

In Criminal Case No. 4263-R, the information filed against the two accused alleged:

 
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"That on or about the 1st day of November, 1986, at Sayangan, Municipality of Atok, Province of Benguet, Philippines, and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually aiding each other, and
without any authority of law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly transport and carry in transit from Sinto, Bauko,
Mt. Province to Atok, Benguet One Hundred Eleven Kilos and Nine Grams (111.9 kilos), more or less, of dried marijuana leaves
which are sources of dangerous and prohibited drugs and from which dangerous and prohibited drugs nay be derived and
manufactured, in violation of the said law." (Rollo, p. 11)

The narration of facts by the trial court is as follows:

"According to Jerry Veleroso, Sgt. Amador Ablang and Sgt. Florentino Baillo, all members of the First Narcotics Regional Unit of
the Narcotics Command stationed in Baguio City, (See also Exhibit "I") on October 30, 1986, they established a checkpoint in
front of the Municipal Hall at Sayangan, Atok, Benguet, which is along the Halsema Highway, to check on vehicles proceeding to
Baguio City because their Commanding Officer, Maj. Basilio Cablayan, had been earlier tipped off by some confidential informers
that the herein accused Maspil and Bagking would be transporting a large volume of marijuana to Baguio City. The informers went
along with the operatives to Sayangan.

"At about 2:00 o'clock in the early morning of November 1, the operatives intercepted a Sarao type jeep driven by Maspil with
Bagking as his companion. Upon inspection, the jeep was found loaded with two (2) plastic sacks (Exhibits "B" and "D"), one (1)
jute sack (Exhibit "C") and three (3) big round tin cans (Exhibits "E", "F" and "G") which, when opened contained several bundles
of suspected dried marijuana leaves (Exhibits "B-1", to "B-23"; "C-1" to "C-16"; "D-1" to "D-20"; "E-1" to "E-14"; "F-1" and "G-1").

"Maspil and Bagking were arrested and the suspected marijuana leaves were confiscated.

"The confiscated items were later on referred to the PC Crime Laboratory, Regional Unit I, for examination (Exhibit "A"). Forensic
Chemist Carlos V. Figuerroa performed the requested examination and determined that the specimen, with an aggregate weight
of 115.66 kilos, were positive to the standard tests for marijuana.

"The accused admitted that the marijuana dried leaves were indeed confiscated from the jeep being then driven by Maspil with
Bagking as his helper. However, they claimed that the prohibited drugs belonged to two of their passengers who loaded them in
the jeep as paying cargo for Baguio City without the accused knowing that they were marijuana.

"The accused declared that on October 31, 1986, at the burned area along Lakandula Street, Baguio City, a certain Mrs. Luisa
Mendoza hired the jeep of Maspil to transport her stock of dried fish and canned goods contained in cartons to Abatan, Buguias,
Benguet, because her own vehicle broke down. They left Baguio City at about 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon (11:30 in the morning,
according to Bagking) with Mrs. Mendoza, her helper and salesgirls on board the jeep with Maspil as driver and Bagking as his
own helper. They arrived at Abatan at about 6:00 o'clock in the evening.

"After unloading their cargo, Maspil and Bagking repaired to a restaurant for their dinner before undertaking the trip back to
Baguio City. While thus eating, they were approached by two persons, one of whom they would learn later on to be a certain
Danny Buteng. Buteng inquired if they were going to Baguio City and upon being given an affirmative answer, he said that he
would ride with them and that he has some cargo. Asked what the cargo was, Buteng replied that they were flowers in closed tin
cans and sealed sacks for the commemoration of All Souls Day in Baguio City. After Buteng had agreed to Maspil's condition that
he would pay for the space to be occupied by his cargo, Buteng himself and his companion loaded the cargo and fixed them
inside Maspil's jeep.

"Maspil and Bagking left Abatan at about 7:00 o'clock that same evening of October 31. Aside from Buteng and companion they
had four other passengers. These four other passengers alighted at Natubleng, Buguias, Benguet.

"Upon reaching Sayangan, Atok, Benguet, Maspil stopped at the Marosan Restaurant where they intended to take coffee. Their
remaining passengers — Buteng and companion — alighted and went to the restaurant. However, a soldier waved at Maspil to
drive to where he was, which Maspil did. The soldier secured Maspil's permission to inspect their cargo after which he grabbed
Maspil on the latter's left shoulder and asked who owned the cargo. Maspil told the soldier that the cargo belonged to their
passengers who went to the restaurant. The soldier called for his companions and they went to look for Maspil's passengers in
the restaurant. Later on, they returned and placed Maspil and Bagking under arrest since their cargo turned out to be marijuana.

"Lawrence Balonglong, alias Banawe, a radio reporter of DZWX Bombo Radio who was invited by Lt. Valeroso to witness the
operation, affirmed the unsuccessful pursuit of the alleged two companions of Maspil and Bagking. He recalled that he was
awakened from his sleep at the town hall in Sayangan after the arrest of Maspil and Bagking. When he went to the scene, the
NARCOM operatives boarded the jeep of Maspil to chase the two companions of Maspil and Bagking. Balonglong climbed on top
of the jeep with his camera to join the chase. They proceeded towards the direction of Bontoc but failed to catch anyone. Hence,
they returned.

"Thereupon, Maspil and Bagking were taken to the town hall where they were allegedly maltreated to admit ownership of the
confiscated marijuana. At about 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon of November 1, the soldiers took them away from Sayangan to be
transferred to their station at Baguio City. On their way, particularly at Km. 32 or 34, they met Mike Maspil, an elder brother of
Moises Maspil, and the soldiers called for him and then Lt. Valeroso and his men mauled him on the road.

"Mike testified that between 3:00 and 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon of November 1, he was informed by a neighbor that his brother
Moises was detained at the Atok Municipal Jail. So he called for Jose Pos-el and James Longages, his driver and helper,
respectively, to go along with him to see Moises. They rode in his jeep. On the way, they met the group of Lt. Valeroso. For no
apparent reason, Lt. Valeroso boxed and kicked him several times. Thereafter, Lt. Valeroso placed him under arrest together with
his driver and helper. They were all brought to a shoe store on Gen. Luna Road, Baguio City, together with Moises and Bagking.
There, Lt. Valeroso got his wallet containing P210.00 and Seiko wrist watch but the receipt (Exhibit "3") was issued by a certain
Miss Pingil, a companion of Valeroso. He was released after nine days. He then went to Lt. Valeroso to claim his wallet, money
and watch but he was told that they were with Miss Pingil. However, when he went to Miss Pingil, the latter said that the items
were with Lt. Valeroso. He sought the assistance of then Tourism Deputy Minister Honorato Aquino who assigned a lawyer to
assist him. The lawyer advised him to file a case against Lt. Valeroso but because of the intervening congressional elections, the
matter has never been pursued." (Rollo, p. 21-24)

 
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The appellants raise the following assignment of errors in their appeal, to wit:

THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE ALLEGED MARIJUANA AS CHARGED IN THE INFORMATION
IS DIFFERENT FROM THAT PRESENTED FOR LABORATORY EXAMINATION.

II

THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THERE WERE ONLY TWO OCCUPANTS, THE APPELLANTS, IN THE
VEHICLE WHERE THE ALLEGED MARIJUANA WAS CONFISCATED.

III

THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE ACCUSED KNEW THAT THE CARGO THEY WERE
TRANSPORTING WAS MARIJUANA.

IV

THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING IN EVIDENCE THE ALLEGED CONFISCATED MARIJUANA.

THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN SHIFTING FROM THE PROSECUTION THE BURDEN OF PROVING THE COMMISSION
OF THE OFFENSE CHARGED TO THE APPELLANTS TO PROVE THEIR INNOCENCE." (Rollo, p. 40)

The main defense of the appellants is their claim that the prohibited drugs belonged to their two passengers who loaded them in the
jeep as paying cargo without the appellants knowing that the cargo was marijuana.

In the second and third assignment of errors, the appellants claim that the trial court erred in not appreciating their version of the facts.

The appellants state that the trial court's reliance on Sgt. Baillo's testimony that they were the only ones in the jeep cannot be given
credence as Sgt. Baillo's testimony is full of inconsistencies.

The appellants cite Sgt. Baillo's inconsistencies as to the time of the arrest whether morning or afternoon, the time the checkpoint was
removed and the persons who were with him at the time of arrest.

It has been ruled that inconsistencies in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses not on material points is not fatal. Moreover, minor
inconsistencies are to be expected but must be disregarded if they do not affect the basic credibility of the evidence as a whole. (People
v. Marcos, G.R. No. 83325, May 8, 1990)

The defense even state that there were a lot of policemen (T.S.N., December 1, 1987, p. 22) and it was but natural that there would be
confusion on who was there at the time of the arrest.

The trial court gave credence to the positive and categorical statement of Sgt. Baillo that there were only two occupants, and these
were the appellants inside the jeepney at the time (T.S.N., June 30, 1987, p. 18). We see no cogent reason to reverse this finding of
fact.

There is nothing in the records to suggest that the arrest was motivated by any reason other than the desire of the police officers to
accomplish their mission. Courts generally give full faith and credit to police officers when the facts and circumstances surrounding then
acts sustain the presumption that they have performed their duties in a regular manner. (Rule 131, Section 5 (m), Rules of Court;
People v. Marcos, supra; People v. Yap and Mendoza, G.R. Nos. 87088-89, May 9, 1990).

The appellants put forward the testimony of Lawrence Balonglong which corroborates and affirms their stand that there were, indeed,
passengers in the jeepney.

However, a close perusal of said testimony reveals no such corroboration. The pertinent portions of Balonglong's testimony is as
follows:

"xxx xxx xxx


Q Where were you when these two persons were apprehended?

A I was in the Municipal Hall asleep, sir.

Q How did you know then that these people were apprehended?

A It is like this, sir, on the night of October 31, I was then asleep and at around 11:00, I guess, p.m., they
awakened me so I went and I saw these two guys being apprehended by the Narcom operative.

Court:

Q You saw them being apprehended?

A No, sir . . . I saw them there.

Q Already apprehended?

A Already apprehended.

Atty. Fianza:

Q And when you saw these persons, what did you do, if any?

 
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A What I recall is that when I went to the road, where these two guys were apprehended, the operatives
boarded the same jeep and I even climbed the jeep . . . on top of the jeep holding my camera and
tape recorder and we . . . I don't know . . . they chased, according to the operatives, they chased two
companions of the two arrested guys." (T.S.N., May 11, 1988, p. 4)

In their brief, the appellants even admit that "he (Balonglong) did not see the passengers" and it was just his impression that there
were other people present. (Appellant's Brief, p. 7)
The appellants maintain that they did not know what was in the cargo. Their main concern was in going back to Baguio City and they
saw no need to question their two passengers on why flowers were being kept in closed cans and sacks. They were apprehended after
midnight. They traversed a lonely and reputedly dangerous portion of the mountain highway.

The appellants' version is not believable. It is inconceivable that the appellants would not even bother to ask the names of the strangers
who approached them in a restaurant at night wanting to hire their jeepney, considering that they were familiar with the identity of the
passenger, Luisa Mendoza, who hired them to transport her goods to Abatan, Buguias, Benguet.

It is likewise incredible that the appellants did not show the slightest curiousity as to why flowers were being kept in closed tin cans and
sealed sacks and cellophane. On the other hand, the appellants had clear knowledge that Luisa Mendoza was transporting cartons
containing dried fish and canned goods on the trip out of Baguio. It is contrary to human experience that the appellants would inquire
about the name of the passenger and the cargo she was loading on their jeep and not doing the same about another who would
transport goods on a midnight trip.

Well-settled is the rule that evidence to be believed, must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness but it must be credible
itself. No better test has yet been found to measure the value of a witness than its conformity to the knowledge and common
experience of mankind. (People v. Maribung, 149 SCRA 292, 297 [1987]; People v. Aldana, G.R. No. 81817, July 27, 1989; People v.
Pascua, G.R. No. 82303, December 21, 1989).

The appellants further allege that if, indeed they knew about the contents of their cargo, they would have adopted means to prevent
detection or to evade arrest.

At the time the appellants were being motioned by the policemen to come nearer the checkpoint, there was no way that the appellants
could have evaded the arrest without putting their lives in jeopardy. They decided to just brazen it out with police and insist on their
version of the story.

As for the other assigned errors, the appellants in the first assigned error, contend that since there is a discrepancy of 3.76 between the
number of kilos stated in the information (111.9 kilos) and in the report (115.66 kilos) of the forensic chemist, it is very likely that the
marijuana presented as evidence was not the one confiscated from the appellants or even if they were the same, it could have already
been tampered with. The appellants conclude that the marijuana then, cannot be admitted as evidence.

The marijuana examined by the forensic chemist, which was contained in three big round tin cans, two jute sacks (there was really only
one jute sack colored light green which was confiscated but since one of the plastic sacks [green] appeared to be tattered, some of its
contents were transferred to a white jute sack), (T.S.N., June 23, 1987, p. 5) and two plastic bags colored yellow and green (T.S.N.,
June 23, 1987, p. 3), was positively identified to be the same as those confiscated from the appellants. This is very clear from the
testimony of Lt. Valeroso who stated:

"xxx xxx xxx

Q When you went down, where were these two suspects, as you said?

A They were sitted (sic) at the front seat.

Q Front seat of what?

A The jeep, sir.

Q And did you ask or see what was inside the jeep?

A Yes.

Q And what were those?

A It was all suspected marijuana dried leaves contained in three big cans, one sack colored green, two sacks
colored yellow and green." (Italics supplied, T.S.N., September 16, 1987, p. 4)

Lt. Valeroso further testified that Exhibits "B" (yellow plastic bag), "C" light green jute sack, "D" (green plastic bag), "E" (one big
can), "F" (second can), "G" (third can) were, indeed, the same articles which he saw at the back of the jeepney of the appellants.
(T.S.N., September 16, 1987, p. 5)
One of the appellants, Moises Maspil, even admitted that the articles identified by Lt. Valeroso in his testimony were indeed, the same
articles confiscated from their jeepney at Sayangan, Atok, Benguet. (T.S.N., February 24, 1988, pp. 34-35)

Moreover, the words "more or less" following the weight in kilos of the marijuana in the questioned information declare that the number
of kilos stated therein is just an approximation. It can therefore be a little lighter or heavier. The slight discrepancy is not material.

Another ground stated by the appellants for the inadmissibility in evidence of the confiscated marijuana is that the marijuana allegedly
seized from them was a product of an unlawful search without a warrant.

 
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In the case of Valmonte v. de Villa, G.R. No. 83988, September 29, 1989, the Court held that:

"xxx xxx xxx

True, the manning of checkpoints by the military is susceptible of abuse by the men in uniform, in the same manner that all
governmental power is susceptible of abuse. But at the cost of occasional inconvenience, discomfort and even irritation to the
citizen, the checkpoints during these abnormal times, when conducted within reasonable limits are part of the price we pay for an
orderly society and a peaceful community."

The search was conducted within reasonable limits. There was information that a sizeable volume of marijuana will be transported to
take advantage of the All Saints Day holiday wherein there will be a lot of people going to and from Baguio City (T.S.N., September 16,
1987, p. 6). In fact, during the three day (October 30, 1986 to November 1, 1986) duration of the checkpoint, there were also other drug
related arrests made aside from that of the two appellants.

But even without the Valmonte ruling, the search would still be valid. This case involves a search incident to a lawful arrest which is one
of the exceptions to the general rule requiring a search warrant. This exception is embodied in Section 12 of Rule 126 of the 1985
Rules on Criminal Procedure which provides:

"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."

and Rule 113, Section 5 (1) which state:


"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."

This case falls squarely within the exceptions. The appellants were caught in flagrante delicto since they were transporting the
prohibited drugs at the time of their arrest. (People v. Tangliben, G.R. No. 63630, April 6, 1990) A crime was actually being committed.

The appellants, however, cite the case of People v. Aminnudin, (163 SCRA 402 [1988]). In said case, the PC officers received
information that the accused-appellant, on board a vessel bound for Iloilo City, was carrying marijuana. When the accused-appellant
was descending the gangplank, the PC officers detained him and inspected the bag that he was carrying and found marijuana. The
Court ruled that since the marijuana was seized illegally, it is inadmissible in evidence.

There are certain facts of the said case which are not present in the case before us. In the Aminnudin case, the records showed that
there was sufficient time and adequate information for the PC officers to have obtained a warrant. The officers knew the name of the
accused, that the accused was on board M/V Wilcon 9, bound to Iloilo and the exact date of the arrival of the said vessel.

On the other hand, in this case there was no information as to the exact description of the vehicle and no definite time of the arrival. A
jeepney cannot be equated with a passenger ship on the high seas. The ruling in the Aminnudin case, is not applicable to the case at
bar.

As for the fifth and last assigned error we agree with the Solicitor General that:

"Examination of the testimonies of appellants show that they admit the fact that the confiscated marijuana was taken from their
jeep while they were transporting it from Abatan, Buguias, Benguet to Baguio City. This being so, the burden of the prosecution to
prove illegal transportation of prohibited drugs punished under Section 4 of RA 6425, as amended, has been satisfactorily
discharged. The rule in civil as well as in criminal cases is that each party must prove his own affirmative allegations. The
prosecution avers the guilt of the accused who is presumed to be innocent until the contrary is proved. Therefore, the prosecution
must prove such guilt by establishing the existence of all elements of the crime charged. But facts judicially known, presumed,
admitted or confessed need not be proved. (Rule 129, Sec. 4, Rules on Evidence) (Appellee's Brief, p. 26-27)

WHEREFORE, the guilt of the appellants having been proved beyond reasonable doubt, the appealed decision is hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Fernan, C.J., Feliciano, Bidin and Cortes, JJ., concur.

||| (People v. Maspil, Jr. y Wayway, G.R. No. 85177, [August 20, 1990], 266 PHIL 815-829) 

22. People vs. Tangliben, 184 SCRA 220 

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. L-63630. April 6, 1990.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. MEDEL TANGLIBEN Y BERNARDINO, defendant-appellant.

The Office of the Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Katz N. Tierra for defendant-appellant.

 
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SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; 1985 RULES ON CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; EXCEPTIONS TO THE REQUIRING SEARCH WARRANT; CASE AT
BAR. — One of the exceptions to the general rule requiring a search warrant is a search incident to a lawful arrest. Thus, Section 12 of
Rule 126 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure provides: "Section 12. Search incident to a 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." Meanwhile, Rule 113, Sec. 5(a) provides: ". . . 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."
Accused was caught in flagrante, since he was carrying marijuana at the time of his arrest. This case therefore falls squarely within the
exception. The warrantless search was incident to a lawful arrest and is consequently valid. Although the trial court's decision did not
mention it, the transcript of stenographic notes reveals that there was an informer who pointed to the accused-appellant as carrying
marijuana. (TSN, pp. 52-53) Faced with such on-the-spot information, the police officers had to act quickly. There was not enough time
to secure a search warrant. We cannot therefore apply the ruling in Aminnudin to the case at bar. To require search warrants during
on-the-spot apprehensions of drug pushers, illegal possessors of firearms, jueteng collectors, smugglers of contraband goods, robbers,
etc. would make it extremely difficult, if not impossible to contain the crimes with which these persons are associated.

2. ID.; EVIDENCE; CREDIBILITY OF WITNESS; TRIAL COURT'S FINDING; ENTITLED TO GREAT RESPECT AND ACCORDED
THE HIGHEST CONSIDERATION. — As to doubtfulness of evidence, well-settled is the rule that findings of the trial court on the issue
of credibility of witnesses and their testimonies are entitled to great respect and accorded the highest consideration by the appellate
court. Since credibility is a matter that is peculiarly within the province of the trial judge, who had first hand opportunity to watch and
observe the demeanor and behavior of witnesses both for the prosecution and the defense at the time of their testimony (People v.
Tejada, G.R. No. 81520, February 21, 1989; People v. Turla, 167 SCRA 278), we find no reason to disturb the following findings.

3. ID.; ID.; REGULARITY OF OFFICIAL ACTS RELATIVE TO ADMISSIBILITY OF STATEMENT TAKEN DURING IN-CUSTODY
INTERROGATION, MUST BE PROVED DURING TRIAL. — The alleged extrajudicial confession of the accused which, on the other
hand, he categorically denied in court, that he is transporting the marijuana leaves to Olongapo City cannot be relied upon. Even
assuming it to be true, the extrajudicial confession cannot be admitted because it does not appear in the records that the accused,
during custodial investigation, was apprised of his rights to remain silent and to counsel and to be informed of such rights. In People v.
Duero, 104 SCRA 379 [1981], the Court pronounced that "inasmuch as the prosecution failed to prove that before Duero made his
alleged oral confession he was informed of his rights to remain silent and to have counsel and because there is no proof that he
knowingly and intelligently waived those rights, his confession is inadmissible in evidence. This ruling was reiterated in People v.
Tolentino, 145 SCRA 597 [1986], where the Court added that: "In effect, the Court not only abrogated the rule on presumption of
regularity of official acts relative to admissibility of statements taken during in-custody interrogation but likewise dispelled any doubt as
to the full adoption of theMiranda doctrine in this jurisdiction It is now incumbent upon the prosecution to prove during a trial that prior to
questioning, the confessant was warned of his constitutionally protected rights."

4. ID.; ID.; DANGEROUS DRUG ACT (R.A. 6425); PROPER AUTHENTICATION OF MARIJUANA LEAVES SEIZED; SUFFICIENTLY
COMPLIED IN CASE AT BAR. — Accused-appellant likewise asserts that the package of marijuana leaves supposedly seized from him
was never authenticated and therefore should not have been admitted as evidence. He capitalizes on the fact that the marijuana
package brought by Patrolman Roberto Quevedo to the PC Crime Laboratory for examination did not contain a tag bearing the name of
the accused. We rule, however, that since Patrolman Quevedo testified that he gave the marijuana package together with a
letter-request for examination, and the forensic chemist Marilene Salangad likewise testified that she received the marijuana together
with the letter-request and said letter-request bore the name of the accused, then the requirements of proper authentication of evidence
were sufficiently complied with. The marijuana package examined by the forensic chemist was satisfactorily identified as the one seized
from accused. Even assuming arguendo that the marijuana sent to the PC Crime Laboratory was not properly authenticated, still, we
cannot discount the separate field test conducted by witness Roberto Quevedo which yielded positive results for marijuana.

5. ID.; ID.; ID.; NON-PRESENTATION OF INFORMER NOT FATAL TO PROSECUTION'S CASE. — Lastly, the appellant claims that
the evidence upon which he was convicted was insufficient and doubtful and that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt. In attacking
the sufficiency of evidence, the appellant avers that the informer should have been presented before the lower court. We discard this
argument as a futile attempt to revive an already settled issue. This Court has ruled in several cases that non-presentation of the
informer, where his testimony would be merely corroborative or cumulative, is not fatal to the prosecution's case. (People v. Asio, G.R.
No. 84960, September 1, 1989; People v. Viola, G.R. No. 64262, March 16, 1989; People v. Capulong, 160 SCRA 533 [1988]; People v.
Cerelegia, 147 SCRA 538).

6. ID.; ID.; ID.; ACTUAL POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA LEAVES; PROVED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. — The trial judge
likewise found the marijuana to weigh one kilo, more or less, and from this finding extracted a clear intent to transport the marijuana
leaves. It may be pointed out, however, that although the information stated the weight to be approximately one kilo, the forensic
chemist who examined the marijuana leaves testified that the marijuana weighed only 600 grams. Such amount is not a considerable
quantity as to conclusively confer upon the accused an intent to transport the marijuana leaves. Nor can it be said that the intent to
transport isclearly established from the fact that the accused was arrested at San Fernando, Pampanga, a place which is not his
residence. Conviction of a crime with an extremely severe penalty must be based on evidence which is clearer and more convincing
than the inferences in this case. What was therefore proved beyond reasonable doubt is not his intent to transport the marijuana leaves
but his actual possession.

 
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DECISION

GUTIERREZ, JR., J p:

This is an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 41, Third Judicial Region at San Fernando, Pampanga, Branch
41, finding appellant Medel Tangliben y Bernardino guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 4, Article II of Republic Act 6425
(Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 as amended) and sentencing him to life imprisonment, to pay a fine of P20,000 and to pay the costs.

The information filed against the appellant alleged:

"That on or about the 2nd day of March, 1982, in the municipality of San Fernando, Province of Pampanga, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused MEDEL TANGLIBEN y BERNARDINO, knowing fully
well that Marijuana is a prohibited drug, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession, control and
custody one (1) bag of dried marijuana leaves with an approximate weight of one (1) kilo and to transport (sic) the same to
Olongapo City, without authority of law to do so." (At p. 6, Rollo)

The prosecution's evidence upon which the finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt was based is narrated by the trial court as follows:

"It appears from the evidence presented by the prosecution that in the late evening of March 2, 1982, Patrolmen Silverio Quevedo
and Romeo L. Punzalan of the San Fernando Police Station, together with Barangay Tanod Macario Sacdalan, were conducting
surveillance mission at the Victory Liner Terminal compound located at Barangay San Nicolas, San Fernando, Pampanga; that
the surveillance mission was aimed not only against persons who may commit misdemeanors at the said place but also on
persons who may be engaging in the traffic of dangerous drugs based on informations supplied by informers; that it was around
9:30 in the evening that said Patrolmen noticed a person carrying a red traveling bag (Exhibit G) who was acting suspiciously and
they confronted him; that the person was requested by Patrolmen Quevedo and Punzalan to open the red traveling bag but the
person refused, only to accede later on when the patrolmen identified themselves; that found inside the bag were marijuana
leaves (Exhibit B) wrapped in a plastic wrapper and weighing one kilo, more or less; that the person was asked of his name and
the reason why he was at the said place and he gave his name as Medel Tangliben and explained that he was waiting for a ride to
Olongapo City to deliver the marijuana leaves; that the accused was taken to the police headquarters at San Fernando,
Pampanga, for further investigation; and that Pat. Silverio Quevedo submitted to his Station Commander his Investigator's Report
(Exhibit F).

It appears also from the prosecution's evidence that in the following morning or on March 3, 1982, Pat. Silverio Quevedo asked
his co-policeman Pat. Roberto Quevedo, who happens to be his brother and who has had special training on narcotics, to conduct
a field test on a little portion of the marijuana leaves and to have the remaining portion examined by the PCCL at Camp Olivas,
San Fernando, Pampanga; that Pat. Roberto Quevedo conducted a field test (Exhibit H) on the marijuana leaves and found
positive result for marijuana (Exhibit E); that the remaining bigger quantity of the marijuana leaves were taken to the PCCL at
Camp Olivas by Pat. Roberto Quevedo that same day of March 3, 1982 (Exhibit A and A-1) and when examined, the same were
also found to be marijuana (Exhibit C and C-1)." (At pp. 910, Rollo)

Only the accused testified in his defense. His testimony is narrated by the trial court as follows:

"The accused declared that he got married on October 25, 1981 and his wife begot a child on June 10, 1982; that he was formerly
employed in the poultry farm of his uncle Alejandro Caluma in Antipolo, Rizal; that he is engaged in the business of selling poultry
medicine and feeds, including chicks, and used to conduct his business at Taytay, Rizal; that he goes to Subic at times in
connection with his business and whenever he is in Subic, he used to buy C-rations from one Nena Ballon and dispose the same
in Manila; that he never left his residence at Antipolo, Rizal, on March 2, 1982; that on March 3, 1982, he went to Subic to collect
a balance of P100.00 from a customer thereat and to buy C-rations; that he was able to meet Nena Ballon at 6:00 o'clock in the
evening and he stayed in Nena's house up to 8:00 o'clock because he had a drinking spree with Nena's son; that he tried to catch
the 8:00 o'clock trip to Manila from Olongapo City but he failed and was able to take the bus only by 9:00 o'clock that evening;
that it was a Victory Liner Bus that he rode and because he was tipsy, he did not notice that the bus was only bound for San
Fernando Pampanga; that upon alighting at the Victory Liner Compound at San Fernando, Pampanga he crossed the street to
wait for a bus going to Manila; that while thus waiting for a bus, a man whom he came to know later as Pat. Punzalan,
approached him and asked him if he has any residence certificate; that when he took out his wallet, Pat. Punzalan got the wallet
and took all the money inside the wallet amounting to P545.00; that Pat. Punzalan told him that he'll be taken to the municipal
building for verification as he may be an NPA member; that at the municipal building, he saw a policeman, identified by him later
as Pat. Silverio Quevedo, sleeping but was awakened when he arrived; that Pat. Quevedo took him upstairs and told him to take
out everything from his pocket saying that the prisoners inside the jail may get the same from him; that inside his pocket was a
fifty-peso bill and Pat. Quevedo took the same, telling him that it shall be returned to him but that it was never returned to him; that
he was thereafter placed under detention and somebody told him that he is being charged with possession of marijuana and if he
would like to be bailed out, somebody is willing to help him; and, that when he was visited by his wife, he told his wife that
Patrolman Silverio Quevedo took away all his money but he told his wife not to complain anymore as it would be useless." (Rollo,
pp. 10-11)

Appellant, through counsel de oficio Atty. Enrique Chan, raised the lone assignment of error in his appeal:

"THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT AND FINDING HIM GUILTY OF THE CRIME
CHARGED ON INSUFFICIENT AND DOUBTFUL EVIDENCE." (At p. 48, Rollo)

The Solicitor-General likewise filed his brief, basically reiterating the lower court's findings.

 
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However, before this Court had the chance to act on appeal, counsel de oficio Atty. Enrique Chan died. Thereafter, this court appointed
a new counsel de oficio, Atty. Katz Tierra, and pursuant thereto, the Deputy Clerk of Court, in behalf of the Clerk of Court, required the
new counsel to file her appellant's brief. The latter complied and, in her brief, raised the following assignment of errors:

I
"THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING AS EVIDENCE THE PACKAGE OF MARIJUANA ALLEGEDLY SEIZED
FROM DEFENDANT-APPELLANT AS IT WAS A PRODUCT OF AN UNLAWFUL SEARCH WITHOUT A WARRANT.
II
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING AS EVIDENCE THE ALLEGED PACKAGE OF MARIJUANA LEAVES AS
THE LEAVES SUPPOSEDLY SEIZED FROM ACCUSED WHEN IT WAS NEVER AUTHENTICATED.
III
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT RULING THAT THE PROSECUTION FAILED TO PROVE THE GUILT OF
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT." (At pp. 92-93, Rollo)

It is contended that the marijuana allegedly seized from the accused was a product of an unlawful search without a warrant and is
therefore inadmissible in evidence.

This contention is devoid of merit.

One of the exceptions to the general rule requiring a search warrant is a search incident to a lawful arrest. Thus, Section 12 of Rule 126
of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure provides:

"Section 12. Search incident to a 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."

Meanwhile, Rule 113, Sec. 5(a) provides:

". . . 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."

Accused was caught in flagrante, since he was carrying marijuana at the time of his arrest. This case therefore falls squarely within the
exception. The warrantless search was incident to a lawful arrest and is consequently valid.

In the case of People v. Claudio, 160 SCRA 646, [1988] this Court, confronted with the same issue, held that:

"Appellant Claudio was caught transporting prohibited drugs. Pat. Daniel did not need a warrant to arrest Claudio as the latter was
caught in flagrante delicto. The warrantless search being an incident to a lawful arrest is in itself lawful. (Nolasco v Pano, 147
SCRA 509). Therefore, there was no infirmity in the seizure of the 1.1 kilos of marijuana."

We are not unmindful of the decision of this Court in People v. Aminnudin, 163 SCRA 402 [1988]. In that case the PC officers had
earlier received a tip from an informer that accused-appellant was on board a vessel bound for Iloilo City and was carrying marijuana.
Acting on this tip, they waited for him one evening, approached him as he descended from the gangplank, detained him and inspected
the bag he was carrying. Said bag contained marijuana leaves. The Court held that the marijuana could not be admitted in evidence
since it was seized illegally.

The records show, however, that there were certain facts, not existing in the case before us, which led the Court to declare the seizure
as invalid. As stated therein: prLL

"The present case presented no such urgency. From the conflicting declarations of the PC witnesses, it is clear that they had at
least two days within which they could have obtained a warrant of arrest and search Aminnudin who was coming to Iloilo on the
M/V Wilcon 9. His name was known. The vehicle was identified. The date of its arrival was certain. And from the information they
had received, they could have persuaded a judge that there was probable cause, indeed, to justify the issuance of a warrant. Yet
they did nothing. No effort was made to comply with the law. The Bill of Rights was ignored altogether because the PC lieutenant
who was the head of the arresting team, had determined on his own authority that a 'search warrant was not necessary.' "

In contrast, the case before us presented urgency. Although the trial court's decision did not mention it, the transcript of stenographic
notes reveals that there was an informer who pointed to the accused-appellant as carrying marijuana. (TSN, pp. 52-53) Faced with
such on-the-spot information, the police officers had to act quickly. There was not enough time to secure a search warrant. We cannot
therefore apply the ruling in Aminnudin to the case at bar. To require search warrants during on-the-spot apprehensions of drug
pushers, illegal possessors of firearms, jueteng collectors, smugglers of contraband goods, robbers, etc. would make it extremely
difficult, if not impossible to contain the crimes with which these persons are associated.

Accused-appellant likewise asserts that the package of marijuana leaves supposedly seized from him was never authenticated and
therefore should not have been admitted as evidence. He capitalizes on the fact that the marijuana package brought by Patrolman
Roberto Quevedo to the PC Crime Laboratory for examination did not contain a tag bearing the name of the accused. We rule,
however, that since Patrolman Quevedo testified that he gave the marijuana package together with a letter-request for examination, and
the forensic chemist Marilene Salangad likewise testified that she received the marijuana together with the letter-request and said
letter-request bore the name of the accused, then the requirements of proper authentication of evidence were sufficiently complied with.
The marijuana package examined by the forensic chemist was satisfactorily identified as the one seized from accused.

Even assuming arguendo that the marijuana sent to the PC Crime Laboratory was not properly authenticated, still, we cannot discount
the separate field test conducted by witness Roberto Quevedo which yielded positive results for marijuana.

 
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Lastly, the appellant claims that the evidence upon which he was convicted was insufficient and doubtful and that the prosecution failed
to prove his guilt.

In attacking the sufficiency of evidence, the appellant avers that the informer should have been presented before the lower court. We
discard this argument as a futile attempt to revive an already settled issue. This Court has ruled in several cases that non-presentation
of the informer, where his testimony would be merely corroborative or cumulative, is not fatal to the prosecution's case. (People v. Asio,
G.R. No. 84960, September 1, 1989; People v. Viola, G.R. No. 64262, March 16, 1989;People v. Capulong, 160 SCRA 533 [1988];
People v. Cerelegia, 147 SCRA 538).

As to doubtfulness of evidence, well-settled is the rule that findings of the trial court on the issue of credibility of witnesses and their
testimonies are entitled to great respect and accorded the highest consideration by the appellate court. Since credibility is a matter that
is peculiarly within the province of the trial judge, who had first hand opportunity to watch and observe the demeanor and behavior of
witnesses both for the prosecution and the defense at the time of their testimony (People v. Tejada, G.R. No. 81520, February 21, 1989;
People v. Turla, 167 SCRA 278), we find no reason to disturb the following findings: LLjur

"The testimony of prosecution witnesses Patrolmen Silverio Quevedo and Romeo Punzalan are positive and sufficiently clear to
show the commission by the accused of the offense herein charged. These prosecution witnesses have no motive to fabricate the
facts and to foist a very serious offense against the accused. The knowledge on what these witnesses testified to were (sic)
acquired by them in the official performance of their duties and their (sic) being no showing that they are prejudiced against the
accused, their testimonies deserve full credit.

The testimonies of the afore-mentioned patrolmen that what they found in the possession of the accused were marijuana leaves
were corroborated by the examination findings conducted by Pat. Roberto Quevedo (Exhibit H) and by Forensic Chemist Marlene
Salangad of the PCCL, with station at Camp Olivas, San Fernando, Pampanga (Exhibits C and C-1). (Rollo, p. 11)

"Moreover, if there is truth in the testimony of the accused to the effect that Pat. Punzalan got all the money from his wallet when
he was accosted at the Victory Liner Terminal and was told just to keep quiet, otherwise he will be 'salvaged', why will Pat.
Punzalan still bring the accused to the Municipal Building for interrogation and/or verification? Would not Pat. Punzalan be
exposing his identity to the accused? This is unnatural. And this is also true on the testimony of the accused that Pat. Silverio
Quevedo got his fifty-peso bill and never returned the same to him. If the two policemen really got any money from the accused
and that the marijuana leaves do not belong to the accused, why will the two policemen still produce in Court as evidence that
expensive-looking traveling red bag (Exhibit G) taken from the accused and which contained the marijuana leaves in question if
the instant case is a mere fabrication?

As already stated, all the evidence, oral and documentary, presented by the prosecution in this case were all based on personal
knowledge acquired by the prosecution witnesses in the regular performance of their official duties and there is nothing in their
testimonies to show that they are bias (sic) or that they have any prejudice against the herein accused. Between the testimonies
of these prosecution witnesses and that of the uncorroborated and self-serving testimony of the accused, the former should
prevail." (Rollo, p. 13)

Likewise, the appellant chose to limit his defense to his own testimony. He could have availed himself through compulsory court
processes of several witnesses to buttress his defense. Since not one other witness was presented nor was any justification for the
non-appearance given, the inadequacy of his lone and uncorroborated testimony remains. It cannot prevail vis-a-vis the positive
testimonies given by the prosecution witnesses.

Moreover, the appellant's having jumped bail is akin to flight which, as correctly observed by the lower court, is an added circumstance
tending to establish his guilt. LibLex

We take exception, however, to the trial court's finding that:

"The dried marijuana leaves found in the possession of the accused weighs one (1) kilo, more or less. The intent to transport the
same is clear from the testimony of Pat. Silverio Quevedo who declared, among other things, that when he confronted the
accused that night, the latter told him that he (accused) is bringing the marijuana leaves to Olongapo City. Moreover, considering
the quantity of the marijuana leaves found in the possession of the accused and the place he was arrested which is at San
Fernando, Pampanga, a place where the accused is not residing, it can be said that the intent to transport the marijuana leaves
has been clearly established." (Rollo, pp. 13-14)

The alleged extrajudicial confession of the accused which, on the other hand, he categorically denied in court, that he is transporting
the marijuana leaves to Olongapo City cannot be relied upon. Even assuming it to be true, the extrajudicial confession cannot be
admitted because it does not appear in the records that the accused, during custodial investigation, was apprised of his rights to remain
silent and to counsel and to be informed of such rights. In People v. Duero, 104 SCRA 379 [1981], the Court pronounced that
"inasmuch as the prosecution failed to prove that before Duero made his alleged oral confession he was informed of his rights to remain
silent and to have counsel and because there is no proof that he knowingly and intelligently waived those rights, his confession is
inadmissible in evidence. This ruling was reiterated in People v. Tolentino, 145 SCRA 597 [1986], where the Court added that:

"In effect, the Court not only abrogated the rule on presumption of regularity of official acts relative to admissibility of statements
taken during in-custody interrogation but likewise dispelled any doubt as to the full adoption of the Miranda doctrine in this
jurisdiction It is now incumbent upon the prosecution to prove during a trial that prior to questioning, the confessant was warned of
his constitutionally protected rights."

The trial judge likewise found the marijuana to weigh one kilo, more or less, and from this finding extracted a clear intent to transport the
marijuana leaves. It may be pointed out, however, that although the information stated the weight to be approximately one kilo, the
forensic chemist who examined the marijuana leaves testified that the marijuana weighed only 600 grams. Such amount is not a
considerable quantity as to conclusively confer upon the accused an intent to transport the marijuana leaves.

 
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Nor can it be said that