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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 174570 February 22, 2010

ROMER SY TAN, Petitioner,


vs.
SY TIONG GUE, FELICIDAD CHAN SY, SY CHIM, SY TIONG SAN, SY YU BUN, SY YU SHIONG,
SY YU SAN and BRYAN SY LIM, Respondents.

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari seeking to annul and set aside the Decision1 dated
December 29, 2005 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 81389 and the
Resolution2 dated August 18, 2006 denying petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration.

The antecedents are as follows:

On January 11, 2006, an Information3 for the crime of Robbery was filed against respondents Sy
Tiong Gue, Felicidad Chan Sy, Sy Chim, Sy Tiong Yan, Sy Yu Bun, Sy Yu Siong, Sy Yu San, Bryan
Sy Lim, Sy Yu Hui-Pabilona, Police Officer 1 (PO1) Mamerto J. Madronio, and PO1 Marvin Sumang
for the alleged taking of P6,500,000.00 cash, 286 postdated checks, five boxes of Hennessy
Cognac, a television set, a computer set, and other documents from the Guan Yiak Hardware,
committed as follows:

That on or about April 15, 2003, in the city of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring and
confederating together and helping one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously with intent of gain and by means of violence against or intimidation of persons and force
upon things, to wit: by forcibly entering the Office of Guan Yiak Hardware located at 453-455 Tomas
Pinpin Street, Binondo, Manila, while being armed with guns, and thereafter, take rob and carry
away cash in the amount of P6,500,000.00 from the vault; 286 postdated checks with total face
value of P4,325,642.00 issued by several customers payable to Guan Yiak Hardware, Five (5) boxes
of Hennessy XO Cognac valued at P240,000.00 more or less; a television set valued at P20,000.00
more or less; Computer set valued at P50,000.00 more or less and other papers/documents or all
valued at P11,135,642.00 more or less belonging to SY SIY HO AND SONS, INC. (Guan Yiak
Hardware) represented by Romer S. Tan, to the damage and prejudice of the aforesaid owner in the
total amount of P11,135,642.00 more or less, Philippine Currency.

Contrary to law.4

Consequently, on April 22, 2003, Police Inspector (P/Insp.) Edgar A. Reyes filed two separate
applications for the issuance of a search warrant before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Manila. The
applications were later docketed as Search Warrant Case Nos. 03-3611 and 03-3612 and raffled off
to Branch 7, RTC, Manila.
In the said applications, P/Insp. Reyes alleged that he had personal knowledge that respondent
Felicidad Chan Sy had in her possession five boxes of Hennessy XO, as well as 286 company
checks taken from Guan Yiak Hardware. He prayed that the court issue a search warrant authorizing
him or any other agent of the law to take possession of the subject property and bring them before
the court.

In support of the applications, P/Insp. Reyes submitted the sworn statements of petitioner Romer Sy
Tan5 and witnesses Maricho Sabelita6 and Anicita Almedilla.7 On April 22, 2003, presiding Judge
Enrico A. Lanzanas posed searching questions to the applicant and his witnesses to determine if
probable cause existed to justify the issuance of the search warrants.

Thereafter, or on April 22, 2003, Judge Lanzanas issued Search Warrant Nos. 03-36118 and 03-
3612,9 directing any peace officer to make an immediate search of the 8th floor, 524 T. Pinpin,
Binondo, Manila for five boxes of Hennessy XO; and the 7th floor, 524 T. Pinpin, Binondo, Manila for
various checks payable to the Guan Yiak Hardware, respectively; and, if found, to take possession
thereof and bring the same before the court.

The warrants were later served in the afternoon of April 22, 2003. Under Search Warrant No. 03-
3611, three boxes containing twelve Hennessy XOs and one box containing seven Hennessy XOs,
were seized. However, the enforcement of Search Warrant No. 03-3612 yielded negative results.

On May 21, 2003, respondents filed a Motion to Quash Search Warrants,10 which petitioner
opposed.11

On September 1, 2003, the RTC issued an Order12 denying the motion. Respondents filed a Motion
for Reconsideration,13 but it was denied in the Order14 dated October 28, 2003.

Aggrieved, respondents filed a Petition for Certiorari15 under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court before the
CA arguing that:

I.

The respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction when he refused to quash the subject search warrants, notwithstanding the manifest
absence of probable cause.

II.

There is no appeal, nor any other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law
from the assailed Orders.16

On December 29, 2005, the CA rendered the assailed Decision, the decretal portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed orders of the
respondent court in Search Warrant Case Nos. 03-3611 and 03-3612 are REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. Accordingly, the Motion to Quash Search Warrant Case Nos. 03-3611 and 03-3612 is
GRANTED.

SO ORDERED.17
The CA opined that quashing the search warrants for lack of personal knowledge was unwarranted.
It added that the description of the items to be seized complied with the requirement of particularity.
Moreover, the CA found the inquiries made by the judge to be sufficiently probing. However, the CA
agreed with the respondents and concluded that there was no probable cause for the issuance of
the subject search warrants; thus, respondents’ motion to quash should have been granted by the
RTC.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was denied in the assailed Resolution dated
August 18, 2006.

Hence, the petition assigning the following errors:

The honorable Court of Appeals committed error of law and error of jurisdiction in setting aside the
search warrants issued by honorable executive judge enrico a. lanzanas of rtc 7, manila.

The honorable court of appeals committed error of law and error of jurisdiction in granting the
petition for certiorari filed with it by the respondents, despite lack of showing that honorable
executive judge enrico a. lanzanas of rtc 7, manila, committed grave abuse of discretion amounting
to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing its orders (annexes "l" and "p") denying respondents’
motion to quash search warrants and motion for reconsideration.

Petitioner argues that there was substantial basis for the findings of facts and circumstances, which
led the issuing court to determine and conclude that the offense of robbery had been committed by
the respondents. Petitioner insists that there was probable cause, which justified the issuing judge to
issue the questioned search warrants. Petitioner maintains that the RTC issued the search warrants
after determining the existence of probable cause based on the Sinumpaang Salaysay of the affiants
and the testimonies given by them during the hearing of the applications for search warrant.

On their part, respondents maintain that the CA’s finding that there was no probable cause for the
issuance of the search warrants was in accordance with the facts and the law. Respondents contend
that the CA correctly appreciated the numerous statements and admissions of petitioner and his
witnesses, all of which, taken together, clearly negate any finding of probable cause for the issuance
of the subject search warrants.

The sole issue to be determined in the instant action is whether or not there was probable cause
warranting the issuance by RTC of the subject search warrants. We answer in the affirmative

A search warrant is an order in writing issued in the name of the People of the Philippines, signed by
a judge and directed to a peace officer, commanding him to search for personal property described
therein and to bring it before the court.18 The issuance of a search warrant is governed by Rule 126
of the Rules of Court, the relevant sections of which provide:

Section 4. Requisites for issuing search warrant. — 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 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. 1avvphi1
Section 5. Examination of complainant; record. — The judge must, before issuing the warrant,
personally examine in the form of searching questions and answers, in writing and under oath, the
complainant and the witnesses he may produce on facts personally known to them and attach to the
record their sworn statements together with the affidavits submitted.

Section 6. Issuance and form of search warrant. — If the judge is satisfied of the existence of facts
upon which the application is based or that there is probable cause to believe that they exist, he
shall issue the warrant, which must be substantially in the form prescribed by these Rules.

Therefore, the validity of the issuance of a search warrant rests upon the following factors: (1) it must
be issued upon probable cause; (2) the probable cause must be determined by the judge himself
and not by the applicant or any other person; (3) in the determination of probable cause, the judge
must examine, under oath or affirmation, the complainant and such witnesses as the latter may
produce; and (4) the warrant issued must particularly describe the place to be searched and persons
or things to be seized.19

In the case at bar, the CA concluded that the RTC did not comply with any of the requisites required
for the issuance of the subject search warrants. The CA ratiocinated that although the RTC judge
personally determined if probable cause existed by examining the witnesses through searching
questions, and although the search warrants sufficiently described the place to be searched and
things to be seized, there was no probable cause warranting the issuance of the subject search
warrants. We do not agree.

Jurisprudence dictates that probable cause, as a condition for the issuance of a search warrant, is
such reasons supported by facts and circumstances as will warrant a cautious man to believe that
his action and the means taken in prosecuting it are legally just and proper. Probable cause requires
facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonably prudent man to believe that an offense has
been committed and that the objects sought in connection with that offense are in the place to be
searched.20 In Microsoft Corporation v. Maxicorp, Inc.,21 this Court stressed that:

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 reasonable doubt. The standards of judgment are those of a
reasonably prudent man, not the exacting calibrations of a judge after a full-blown trial.

Applying these set standards, this Court finds that there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part
of the RTC judge in issuing the subject search warrants.

A perusal of the Sinumpaang Salaysay22 and the Transcript of Stenographic Notes23 reveals that
Judge Lanzanas, through searching and probing questions, was satisfied that there were good
reasons to believe that respondents, accompanied by five maids, took five boxes of Hennessy XO
owned by the Guan Yiak Hardware and brought them to the 8th floor of 524 T. Pinpin St., Binondo,
Manila; and that a person named "Yubol" took various checks from the company’s vault, which was
later brought to the 7th floor of 524 T. Pinpin St., Binondo, Manila. When they entered the premises,
Felicidad Chan Sy was accompanied by two policemen, which stunned Romer Sy Tan, so that he
was not able to do anything in the face of the calculated and concerted actions of his grandmother,
Felicidad Chan Sy, and her seven companions. Based on the foregoing circumstances, Romer Sy
Tan believed that the crime of robbery was committed by the respondents.24

The power to issue search warrants is exclusively vested in the trial judges in the exercise of their
judicial functions.25 A finding of probable cause, which would merit the issuance of a search warrant,
needs only to rest on evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed and
that it was committed by the accused.26 The determination of whether probable cause exists as to
justify the issuance of a search warrant is best left to the sound discretion of a judge.27 Apparent in
the case at bar and as aptly found by the RTC judge, there was probable cause justifying the
issuance of the search warrants. This was established by the Sinumpaang Salaysay and the
testimonies, consisting of no less than 37 pages, given by witnesses who had personal knowledge of
facts indicating that the crime of robbery had been committed and that the objects sought in
connection with the offense were in the place sought to be searched. The facts narrated by the
witnesses while under oath, when they were asked by the examining judge, were sufficient
justification for the issuance of the subject search warrants.

A Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is intended for the correction of errors of
jurisdiction only, or grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Its principal
office is only to keep the inferior court within the parameters of its jurisdiction, or to prevent it from
committing such grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.28 This Court
finds nothing irregular, much less, grave abuse of discretion, committed by the RTC judge in issuing
the subject search warrants. The RTC judge complied with all the procedural and substantive
requirements for the issuance of a search warrant. This Court is, therefore, bound by the RTC
judge’s finding of probable cause for issuing Search Warrant Nos. 03-3611 and 03-3612.

It is to be noted, however, that while this Court affirms the sufficiency of probable cause in the
issuance of the search warrants in connection with the crime of robbery allegedly committed by the
respondents, the guilt of the accused still remains to be determined in the appropriate criminal action
against them, not in the present case which is limited only to the propriety of the issuance of the
subject search warrants by the RTC.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision and Resolution dated
December 29, 2005 and August 18, 2006, respectively, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
81389 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Orders of the RTC dated September 1, 2003 and
October 28, 2003 are REINSTATED. The validity of Search Warrant Nos. 03-3611 and 03-3612 is
SUSTAINED.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 164815 September 3, 2009

SR. INSP. JERRY C. VALEROSO, Petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

RESOLUTION

NACHURA, J.:

For resolution is the Letter-Appeal1 of Senior Inspector (Sr. Insp.) Jerry C. Valeroso (Valeroso)
praying that our February 22, 2008 Decision2 and June 30, 2008 Resolution3 be set aside and a new
one be entered acquitting him of the crime of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition.

The facts are briefly stated as follows:

Valeroso was charged with violation of Presidential Decree No. 1866, committed as follows:

That on or about the 10th day of July, 1996, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused without
any authority of law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly have in his/her possession
and under his/her custody and control

One (1) cal. 38 "Charter Arms" revolver bearing serial no. 52315 with five (5) live ammo.

without first having secured the necessary license/permit issued by the proper authorities.

CONTRARY TO LAW.4

When arraigned, Valeroso pleaded "not guilty."5 Trial on the merits ensued.

During trial, the prosecution presented two witnesses: Senior Police Officer (SPO)2 Antonio
Disuanco (Disuanco) of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Central Police District Command;
and Epifanio Deriquito (Deriquito), Records Verifier of the Firearms and Explosives Division in Camp
Crame. Their testimonies are summarized as follows:

On July 10, 1996, at around 9:30 a.m., Disuanco received a Dispatch Order from the desk officer
directing him and three (3) other policemen to serve a Warrant of Arrest, issued by Judge Ignacio
Salvador, against Valeroso for a case of kidnapping with ransom.6

After a briefing, the team conducted the necessary surveillance on Valeroso checking his hideouts in
Cavite, Caloocan, and Bulacan. Eventually, the team members proceeded to the Integrated National
Police (INP) Central Police Station in Culiat, Quezon City, where they saw Valeroso about to board a
tricyle. Disuanco and his team approached Valeroso. They put him under arrest, informed him of his
constitutional rights, and bodily searched him. They found a Charter Arms revolver, bearing Serial
No. 52315, with five (5) pieces of live ammunition, tucked in his waist.7
Valeroso was then brought to the police station for questioning. Upon verification in the Firearms and
Explosives Division in Camp Crame, Deriquito presented a certification8 that the subject firearm was
not issued to Valeroso, but was licensed in the name of a certain Raul Palencia Salvatierra of
Sampaloc, Manila.9

On the other hand, Valeroso, SPO3 Agustin R. Timbol, Jr. (Timbol), and Adrian Yuson testified for
the defense. Their testimonies are summarized as follows:

On July 10, 1996, Valeroso was sleeping inside a room in the boarding house of his children located
at Sagana Homes, Barangay New Era, Quezon City. He was awakened by four (4) heavily armed
men in civilian attire who pointed their guns at him and pulled him out of the room.10 The raiding
team tied his hands and placed him near the faucet (outside the room) then went back inside,
searched and ransacked the room. Moments later, an operative came out of the room and
exclaimed, "Hoy, may nakuha akong baril sa loob!"11

Disuanco informed Valeroso that there was a standing warrant for his arrest. However, the raiding
team was not armed with a search warrant.12

Timbol testified that he issued to Valeroso a Memorandum Receipt13 dated July 1, 1993 covering the
subject firearm and its ammunition, upon the verbal instruction of Col. Angelito Moreno.14

On May 6, 1998, the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 97, Quezon City, convicted Valeroso as
charged and sentenced him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of four (4) years, two (2) months and
one (1) day, as minimum, to six (6) years, as maximum. The gun subject of the case was further
ordered confiscated in favor of the government.15

On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed16 the RTC decision but the minimum term of the
indeterminate penalty was lowered to four (4) years and two (2) months.

On petition for review, we affirmed17 in full the CA decision. Valeroso filed a Motion for
Reconsideration18 which was denied with finality19 on June 30, 2008.

Valeroso is again before us through this Letter-Appeal20 imploring this Court to once more take a
contemplative reflection and deliberation on the case, focusing on his breached constitutional rights
against unreasonable search and seizure.21

Meanwhile, as the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) failed to timely file its Comment on
Valeroso’s Motion for Reconsideration, it instead filed a Manifestation in Lieu of Comment.22

In its Manifestation, the OSG changed its previous position and now recommends Valeroso’s
acquittal. After a second look at the evidence presented, the OSG considers the testimonies of the
witnesses for the defense more credible and thus concludes that Valeroso was arrested in a
boarding house. More importantly, the OSG agrees with Valeroso that the subject firearm was
obtained by the police officers in violation of Valeroso’s constitutional right against illegal search and
seizure, and should thus be excluded from the evidence for the prosecution. Lastly, assuming that
the subject firearm was admissible in evidence, still, Valeroso could not be convicted of the crime,
since he was able to establish his authority to possess the gun through the Memorandum Receipt
issued by his superiors.
After considering anew Valeroso’s arguments through his Letter-Appeal, together with the OSG’s
position recommending his acquittal, and keeping in mind that substantial rights must ultimately
reign supreme over technicalities, this Court is swayed to reconsider.23

The Letter-Appeal is actually in the nature of a second motion for reconsideration. While a second
motion for reconsideration is, as a general rule, a prohibited pleading, it is within the sound discretion
of the Court to admit the same, provided it is filed with prior leave whenever substantive justice may
be better served thereby.24

This is not the first time that this Court is suspending its own rules or excepting a particular case
from the operation of the rules. In De Guzman v. Sandiganbayan,25 despite the denial of De
Guzman’s motion for reconsideration, we still entertained his Omnibus Motion, which was actually a
second motion for reconsideration. Eventually, we reconsidered our earlier decision and remanded
the case to the Sandiganbayan for reception and appreciation of petitioner’s evidence. In that case,
we said that if we would not compassionately bend backwards and flex technicalities, petitioner
would surely experience the disgrace and misery of incarceration for a crime which he might not
have committed after all.26 Also in Astorga v. People,27 on a second motion for reconsideration, we
set aside our earlier decision, re-examined the records of the case, then finally acquitted Benito
Astorga of the crime of Arbitrary Detention on the ground of reasonable doubt. And in Sta. Rosa
Realty Development Corporation v. Amante,28 by virtue of the January 13, 2004 En Banc Resolution,
the Court authorized the Special First Division to suspend the Rules, so as to allow it to consider and
resolve respondent’s second motion for reconsideration after the motion was heard on oral
arguments. After a re-examination of the merits of the case, we granted the second motion for
reconsideration and set aside our earlier decision.

Clearly, suspension of the rules of procedure, to pave the way for the re-examination of the findings
of fact and conclusions of law earlier made, is not without basis.

We would like to stress that rules of procedure are merely tools designed to facilitate the attainment
of justice. They are conceived and promulgated to effectively aid the courts in the dispensation of
justice. Courts are not slaves to or robots of technical rules, shorn of judicial discretion. In rendering
justice, courts have always been, as they ought to be, conscientiously guided by the norm that, on
the balance, technicalities take a backseat to substantive rights, and not the other way around. Thus,
if the application of the Rules would tend to frustrate rather than to promote justice, it would always
be within our power to suspend the rules or except a particular case from its operation.29

Now on the substantive aspect.

The Court notes that the version of the prosecution, as to where Valeroso was arrested, is different
from the version of the defense. The prosecution claims that Valeroso was arrested near the INP
Central Police Station in Culiat, Quezon City, while he was about to board a tricycle. After placing
Valeroso under arrest, the arresting officers bodily searched him, and they found the subject firearm
and ammunition. The defense, on the other hand, insists that he was arrested inside the boarding
house of his children. After serving the warrant of arrest (allegedly for kidnapping with ransom),
some of the police officers searched the boarding house and forcibly opened a cabinet where they
discovered the subject firearm.

After a thorough re-examination of the records and consideration of the joint appeal for acquittal by
Valeroso and the OSG, we find that we must give more credence to the version of the defense.
Valeroso’s appeal for acquittal focuses on his constitutional right against unreasonable search and
seizure alleged to have been violated by the arresting police officers; and if so, would render the
confiscated firearm and ammunition inadmissible in evidence against him.

The right against unreasonable searches and seizures is secured by Section 2, Article III of the
Constitution which states:

SEC. 2. The right of the people to be 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.

From this constitutional provision, it can readily be gleaned that, as a general rule, the procurement
of a warrant is required before a law enforcer can validly search or seize the person, house, papers,
or effects of any individual.30

To underscore the significance the law attaches to the fundamental right of an individual against
unreasonable searches and seizures, the Constitution succinctly declares in Article III, Section 3(2),
that "any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible in
evidence for any purpose in any proceeding."31

The above proscription is not, however, absolute. The following are the well-recognized instances
where searches and seizures are allowed even without a valid warrant:

1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest;

2. [Seizure] 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; 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;

5. Customs search;

6. Stop and Frisk;

7. Exigent and emergency circumstances.32

8. Search of vessels and aircraft; [and]

9. Inspection of buildings and other premises for the enforcement of fire, sanitary and
building regulations.33
In the exceptional instances where a warrant is not necessary to effect a valid search or seizure,
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.34

In light of the enumerated exceptions, and applying the test of reasonableness laid down above, is
the warrantless search and seizure of the firearm and ammunition valid?

We answer in the negative.

For one, the warrantless search could not be justified as an incident to a lawful arrest. Searches and
seizures incident to lawful arrests are governed by Section 13, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, which
reads:

SEC. 13. Search incident to lawful arrest. – A person lawfully arrested may be searched for
dangerous weapons or anything which may have been used or constitute proof in the commission of
an offense without a search warrant.

We would like to stress that the scope of the warrantless search is not without limitations. In People
v. Leangsiri,35People v. Cubcubin, Jr.,36 and People v. Estella,37 we had the occasion to lay down the
parameters of a valid warrantless search and seizure as an incident to a lawful arrest.

When an arrest is made, it is reasonable for the arresting officer to search the person arrested in
order to remove any weapon that the latter might use in order to resist arrest or effect his escape.
Otherwise, the officer’s safety might well be endangered, and the arrest itself frustrated. In addition,
it is entirely reasonable for the arresting officer to search for and seize any evidence on the
arrestee’s person in order to prevent its concealment or destruction.38

Moreover, in lawful arrests, it becomes both the duty and the right of the apprehending officers to
conduct a warrantless search not only on the person of the suspect, but also in the permissible area
within the latter’s reach.39Otherwise stated, a valid arrest allows the seizure of evidence or
dangerous weapons either on the person of the one arrested or within the area of his immediate
control.40 The phrase "within the area of his immediate control" means the area from within which he
might gain possession of a weapon or destructible evidence.41 A gun on a table or in a drawer in
front of one who is arrested can be as dangerous to the arresting officer as one concealed in the
clothing of the person arrested.42

In the present case, Valeroso was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest allegedly for kidnapping
with ransom. At that time, Valeroso was sleeping inside the boarding house of his children. He was
awakened by the arresting officers who were heavily armed. They pulled him out of the room, placed
him beside the faucet outside the room, tied his hands, and then put him under the care of
Disuanco.43 The other police officers remained inside the room and ransacked the locked
cabinet44 where they found the subject firearm and ammunition.45 With such discovery, Valeroso was
charged with illegal possession of firearm and ammunition.

From the foregoing narration of facts, we can readily conclude that the arresting officers served the
warrant of arrest without any resistance from Valeroso. They placed him immediately under their
control by pulling him out of the bed, and bringing him out of the room with his hands tied. To be
sure, the cabinet which, according to Valeroso, was locked, could no longer be considered as an
"area within his immediate control" because there was no way for him to take any weapon or to
destroy any evidence that could be used against him.
The arresting officers would have been justified in searching the person of Valeroso, as well as the
tables or drawers in front of him, for any concealed weapon that might be used against the former.
But under the circumstances obtaining, there was no comparable justification to search through all
the desk drawers and cabinets or the other closed or concealed areas in that room itself.46

It is worthy to note that the purpose of the exception (warrantless search as an incident to a lawful
arrest) is to protect the arresting officer from being harmed by the person arrested, who might be
armed with a concealed weapon, and to prevent the latter from destroying evidence within reach.
The exception, therefore, should not be strained beyond what is needed to serve its purpose.47 In the
case before us, search was made in the locked cabinet which cannot be said to have been within
Valeroso’s immediate control. Thus, the search exceeded the bounds of what may be considered as
an incident to a lawful arrest.48

Nor can the warrantless search in this case be justified under the "plain view doctrine."

The "plain view doctrine" may not be used to launch unbridled searches and indiscriminate seizures
or to extend a general exploratory search made solely to find evidence of defendant’s guilt. The
doctrine is usually applied where a police officer is not searching for evidence against the accused,
but nonetheless inadvertently comes across an incriminating object.49

As enunciated in People v. Cubcubin, Jr.50 and People v. Leangsiri:51

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.52

Indeed, the police officers were inside the boarding house of Valeroso’s children, because they were
supposed to serve a warrant of arrest issued against Valeroso. In other words, the police officers
had a prior justification for the intrusion. Consequently, any evidence that they would inadvertently
discover may be used against Valeroso. However, in this case, the police officers did not just
accidentally discover the subject firearm and ammunition; they actually searched for evidence
against Valeroso.

Clearly, the search made was illegal, a violation of Valeroso’s right against unreasonable search and
seizure. Consequently, the evidence obtained in violation of said right is inadmissible in evidence
against him.1avvphi1

Unreasonable searches and seizures are the menace against which the constitutional guarantees
afford full protection. While the power to search and seize may at times be necessary for public
welfare, still it may be exercised and the law enforced without transgressing the constitutional rights
of the citizens, for no enforcement of any statute is of sufficient importance to justify indifference to
the basic principles of government. Those who are supposed to enforce the law are not justified in
disregarding the rights of an individual in the name of order. Order is too high a price to pay for the
loss of liberty.53
Because a warrantless search is in derogation of a constitutional right, peace officers who conduct it
cannot invoke regularity in the performance of official functions.54

The Bill of Rights is the bedrock of constitutional government. If people are stripped naked of their
rights as human beings, democracy cannot survive and government becomes meaningless. This
explains why the Bill of Rights, contained as it is in Article III of the Constitution, occupies a position
of primacy in the fundamental law way above the articles on governmental power.55

Without the illegally seized firearm, Valeroso’s conviction cannot stand. There is simply no sufficient
evidence to convict him.56 All told, the guilt of Valeroso was not proven beyond reasonable doubt
measured by the required moral certainty for conviction. The evidence presented by the prosecution
was not enough to overcome the presumption of innocence as constitutionally ordained. Indeed, it
would be better to set free ten men who might probably be guilty of the crime charged than to convict
one innocent man for a crime he did not commit.57

With the foregoing disquisition, there is no more need to discuss the other issues raised by Valeroso.

One final note. The Court values liberty and will always insist on the observance of basic
constitutional rights as a condition sine qua non against the awesome investigative and prosecutory
powers of the government.58

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the February 22, 2008 Decision and June 30, 2008
Resolution are RECONSIDERED and SET ASIDE. Sr. Insp. Jerry Valeroso is hereby ACQUITTED
of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 83988 September 29, 1989

RICARDO C. VALMONTE AND UNION OF LAWYERS AND ADVOCATES FOR PEOPLE'S


RIGHTS (ULAP), petitioners,
vs.
GEN. RENATO DE VILLA AND NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION DISTRICT
COMMAND, respondents.

Ricardo C. Valmonte for himself and his co-petitioners.

PADILLA, J.:

This is a petition for prohibition with preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order,
seeking the declaration of checkpoints in Valenzuela, Metro Manila or elsewhere, as unconstitutional
and the dismantling and banning of the same or, in the alternative, to direct the respondents to
formulate guidelines in the implementation of checkpoints, for the protection of the people.

Petitioner Ricardo C. Valmonte sues in his capacity as citizen of the Republic, taxpayer, member of
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), and resident of Valenzuela, Metro Manila; while petitioner
Union of Lawyers and Advocates for People's Rights (ULAP) sues in its capacity as an association
whose members are all members of the IBP.

The factual background of the case is as follows:

On 20 January 1987, the National Capital Region District Command (NCRDC) was activated
pursuant to Letter of Instruction 02/87 of the Philippine General Headquarters, AFP, with the mission
of conducting security operations within its area of responsibility and peripheral areas, for the
purpose of establishing an effective territorial defense, maintaining peace and order, and providing
an atmosphere conducive to the social, economic and political development of the National Capital
Region.1 As part of its duty to maintain peace and order, the NCRDC installed checkpoints in various
parts of Valenzuela, Metro Manila.

Petitioners aver that, because of the installation of said checkpoints, the residents of Valenzuela are
worried of being harassed and of their safety being placed at the arbitrary, capricious and whimsical
disposition of the military manning the checkpoints, considering that their cars and vehicles are
being subjected to regular searches and check-ups, especially at night or at dawn, without the
benefit of a search warrant and/or court order. Their alleged fear for their safety increased when, at
dawn of 9 July 1988, Benjamin Parpon, a supply officer of the Municipality of Valenzuela, Bulacan,
was gunned down allegedly in cold blood by the members of the NCRDC manning the checkpoint
along McArthur Highway at Malinta, Valenzuela, for ignoring and/or refusing to submit himself to the
checkpoint and for continuing to speed off inspire of warning shots fired in the air. Petitioner
Valmonte also claims that, on several occasions, he had gone thru these checkpoints where he was
stopped and his car subjected to search/check-up without a court order or search warrant.
Petitioners further contend that the said checkpoints give the respondents a blanket authority to
make searches and/or seizures without search warrant or court order in violation of the
Constitution; 2 and, instances have occurred where a citizen, while not killed, had been harassed.

Petitioners' concern for their safety and apprehension at being harassed by the military manning the
checkpoints are not sufficient grounds to declare the checkpoints as per se illegal. No proof has
been presented before the Court to show that, in the course of their routine checks, the military
indeed committed specific violations of petitioners' right against unlawful search and seizure or other
rights.

In a case filed by the same petitioner organization, Union of Lawyers and Advocates for People's
Right (ULAP) vs. Integrated National Police, 3 it was held that individual petitioners who do not allege
that any of their rights were violated are not qualified to bring the action, as real parties in interest.

The constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures is a personal right invocable
only by those whose rights have been infringed, 4 or threatened to be infringed. What constitutes a
reasonable or unreasonable search and seizure in any particular case is purely a judicial question,
determinable from a consideration of the circumstances involved. 5

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. 6

Where, for example, the officer merely draws aside the curtain of a vacant vehicle which is parked
on the public fair grounds, 7 or simply looks into a vehicle, 8 or flashes a light therein, 9 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.

Finally, on 17 July 1988, military and police checkpoints in Metro Manila were temporarily lifted and
a review and refinement of the rules in the conduct of the police and military manning the
checkpoints was ordered by the National Capital Regional Command Chief and the Metropolitan
Police Director. 10

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

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

Separate Opinions

CRUZ, J., dissenting:

I dissent. The sweeping statements in the majority opinion are as dangerous as the checkpoints it
would sustain and fraught with serious threats to individual liberty. The bland declaration that
individual rights must yield to the demands of national security ignores the fact that the Bill of Rights
was intended precisely to limit the authority of the State even if asserted on the ground of national
security. What is worse is that the searches and seizures are peremptorily pronounced to be
reasonable even without proof of probable cause and much less the required warrant. The
improbable excuse is that they are aimed at 'establishing an effective territorial defense, maintaining
peace and order, and providing an atmosphere conducive to the social, economic and political
development of the National Capital Region." For these purposes, every individual may be stopped
and searched at random and at any time simply because he excites the suspicion, caprice, hostility
or malice of the officers manning the checkpoints, on pain of arrest or worse, even being shot to
death, if he resists.

I have no quarrel with a policeman flashing a light inside a parked vehicle on a dark street as a
routine measure of security and curiosity. But the case at bar is different. Military officers are
systematically stationed at strategic checkpoint to actively ferret out suspected criminals by detaining
and searching any individual who in their opinion might impair "the social, economic and political
development of the National Capital Region." It is incredible that we can sustain such a measure.
And we are not even under martial law.

Unless we are vigilant of our rights, we may find ourselves back to the dark era of the truncheon and
the barbed wire, with the Court itself a captive of its own complaisance and sitting at the death-bed
of liberty.

SARMIENTO, J., dissenting:

I join Justice Isagani Cruz in his dissent, delivered so staightforwardly and eloquently. I am agreed
that the existence alone of checkpoints makes search done therein, unreasonable and hence,
repugnant to the Constitution.
The Charter says that the people enjoy the right of security of person, home, and effects. (CONST.,
art. III, sec. 2.) It is also the bedrock — the right of the people to be left alone — on which the regime
of law and constitutionalism rest. It is not, as the majority would put it, a matter of "occasional
inconveniences, discomfort and even irritation." (Resolution, 4.) To say that it is, is — so I submit —
to trivialize the plain command of the Constitution.

Checkpoints, I further submit, are things of martial rule, and things of the past. They first saw the
light of day by virtue of General Order No. 66 (AUTHORIZING THE CHIEF OF CONSTABULARY
TO ESTABLISH CHECKPOINTS, UPDATE LISTS OF WANTED PERSONS AND CONDUCT
DRAGNET OPERATIONS AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES), a martial law issuance, as amended by
General Order No. 67 (AMENDING AND AMPLIFYING PARAGRAPH 7 OF GENERAL ORDER NO.
66 DATED SEPTEMBER 12, 1980), yet another martial law issuance. (See O.G. 4224-4226; 4226-
4227 [Aug., 1983].) They are, so I strongly submit, repressive measures, the same measures
against which we had fought so painstakingly in our quest for liberty, a quest that ended at EDSA
and a quest that terminated a dictatorship. How soon we forget.

While the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, as my brethren advance, is a right
personal to the aggrieved party, the petitioners, precisely, have come to Court because they had
been, or had felt, aggrieved. I submit that in that event, the burden is the State's, to demonstrate the
reasonableness of the search. The petitioners, Ricardo Valmonte in particular, need not, therefore,
have illustrated the "details of the incident" (Resolution, supra, 4) in all their gore and gruesomeness.

In any event, the absence alone of a search warrant, as I have averred, makes checkpoint searches
unreasonable, and by itself, subject to constitutional challenges. (Supra.) As it is, "checkpoints",
have become "search warrants" unto themselves a roving one at that.

That "[n]ot all searches and seizures are prohibited," the majority points out, is fine. And so is "a
reasonable search is not to be determined by any fixed formula but is to be resolved according to the
facts of each case." (Supra) But the question, exactly, is: Is (are) the search(es) in this case
reasonable? I submit that it (they) is (are) not, for one simple reason: No search warrant has been
issued by a judge.

I likewise do not find this case to be a simple matter of an "officer merely draw(ing) aside the curtain
of a vacant vehicle ... or simply look(ing) (supra) there, "or flash(ing) a light therein." (Supra) What
we have here is Orwell's Big Brother watching every step we take and every move we make.

As it also is, "checkpoints" are apparently, State policy. The American cases the majority refers to
involve routine checks compelled by "probable cause". What we have here, however, is not simply a
policeman on the beat but armed men, CAFGU or Alsa Masa, who hold the power of life or death
over the citizenry, who fire with no provocation and without batting an eyelash. They likewise shoot
you simply because they do not like your face. I have witnessed actual incidents.

Washington said that militia can not be made to dictate the terms for the nation. He can not be
anymore correct here.

"Between the inherent right of the state to protect its existence ... and on individual's right against a
warrantless search, which is reasonably conducted, "so my brethren go on, the former shall prevail.
(Supra) First, this is the same lie that the hated despot foisted on the Filipino people. It is a serious
mistake to fall for it a second time around. Second, the checkpoint searches herein are
unreasonable: There was no warrant.
A final word. After twenty years of tyranny, the dawn is upon us. The country is once again the
"showcase of democracy" in Asia. But if in many cases, it has been "paper democracy", let this Court
anyway bring to pass its stand, and make liberty in the land, a living reality.

I vote then, to grant the petition.

Separate Opinions

CRUZ, J., dissenting:

I dissent. The sweeping statements in the majority opinion are as dangerous as the checkpoints it
would sustain and fraught with serious threats to individual liberty. The bland declaration that
individual rights must yield to the demands of national security ignores the fact that the Bill of Rights
was intended precisely to limit the authority of the State even if asserted on the ground of national
security. What is worse is that the searches and seizures are peremptorily pronounced to be
reasonable even without proof of probable cause and much less the required warrant. The
improbable excuse is that they are aimed at 'establishing an effective territorial defense, maintaining
peace and order, and providing an atmosphere conducive to the social, economic and political
development of the National Capital Region." For these purposes, every individual may be stopped
and searched at random and at any time simply because he excites the suspicion, caprice, hostility
or malice of the officers manning the checkpoints, on pain of arrest or worse, even being shot to
death, if he resists.

I have no quarrel with a policeman flashing a light inside a parked vehicle on a dark street as a
routine measure of security and curiosity. But the case at bar is different. Military officers are
systematically stationed at strategic checkpoint to actively ferret out suspected criminals by detaining
and searching any individual who in their opinion might impair "the social, economic and political
development of the National Capital Region." It is incredible that we can sustain such a measure.
And we are not even under martial law.

Unless we are vigilant of our rights, we may find ourselves back to the dark era of the truncheon and
the barbed wire, with the Court itself a captive of its own complaisance and sitting at the death-bed
of liberty.

SARMIENTO, J., dissenting:

I join Justice Isagani Cruz in his dissent, delivered so staightforwardly and eloquently. I am agreed
that the existence alone of checkpoints makes search done therein, unreasonable and hence,
repugnant to the Constitution.

The Charter says that the people enjoy the right of security of person, home, and effects. (CONST.,
art. III, sec. 2.) It is also the bedrock — the right of the people to be left alone — on which the regime
of law and constitutionalism rest. It is not, as the majority would put it, a matter of "occasional
inconveniences, discomfort and even irritation." (Resolution, 4.) To say that it is, is — so I submit —
to trivialize the plain command of the Constitution.
Checkpoints, I further submit, are things of martial rule, and things of the past. They first saw the
light of day by virtue of General Order No. 66 (AUTHORIZING THE CHIEF OF CONSTABULARY
TO ESTABLISH CHECKPOINTS, UPDATE LISTS OF WANTED PERSONS AND CONDUCT
DRAGNET OPERATIONS AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES), a martial law issuance, as amended by
General Order No. 67 (AMENDING AND AMPLIFYING PARAGRAPH 7 OF GENERAL ORDER NO.
66 DATED SEPTEMBER 12, 1980), yet another martial law issuance. (See O.G. 4224-4226; 4226-
4227 [Aug., 1983].) They are, so I strongly submit, repressive measures, the same measures
against which we had fought so painstakingly in our quest for liberty, a quest that ended at EDSA
and a quest that terminated a dictatorship. How soon we forget.

While the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, as my brethren advance, is a right
personal to the aggrieved party, the petitioners, precisely, have come to Court because they had
been, or had felt, aggrieved. I submit that in that event, the burden is the State's, to demonstrate the
reasonableness of the search. The petitioners, Ricardo Valmonte in particular, need not, therefore,
have illustrated the "details of the incident" (Resolution, supra, 4) in all their gore and gruesomeness.

In any event, the absence alone of a search warrant, as I have averred, makes checkpoint searches
unreasonable, and by itself, subject to constitutional challenges. (Supra.) As it is, "checkpoints",
have become "search warrants" unto themselves a roving one at that.

That "[n]ot all searches and seizures are prohibited," the majority points out, is fine. And so is "a
reasonable search is not to be determined by any fixed formula but is to be resolved according to the
facts of each case." (Supra) But the question, exactly, is: Is (are) the search(es) in this case
reasonable? I submit that it (they) is (are) not, for one simple reason: No search warrant has been
issued by a judge.

I likewise do not find this case to be a simple matter of an "officer merely draw(ing) aside the curtain
of a vacant vehicle ... or simply look(ing) (supra) there, "or flash(ing) a light therein." (Supra) What
we have here is Orwell's Big Brother watching every step we take and every move we make.

As it also is, "checkpoints" are apparently, State policy. The American cases the majority refers to
involve routine checks compelled by "probable cause". What we have here, however, is not simply a
policeman on the beat but armed men, CAFGU or Alsa Masa, who hold the power of life or death
over the citizenry, who fire with no provocation and without batting an eyelash. They likewise shoot
you simply because they do not like your face. I have witnessed actual incidents.

Washington said that militia can not be made to dictate the terms for the nation. He can not be
anymore correct here.

"Between the inherent right of the state to protect its existence ... and on individual's right against a
warrantless search, which is reasonably conducted, "so my brethren go on, the former shall prevail.
(Supra) First, this is the same lie that the hated despot foisted on the Filipino people. It is a serious
mistake to fall for it a second time around. Second, the checkpoint searches herein are
unreasonable: There was no warrant.

A final word. After twenty years of tyranny, the dawn is upon us. The country is once again the
"showcase of democracy" in Asia. But if in many cases, it has been "paper democracy", let this Court
anyway bring to pass its stand, and make liberty in the land, a living reality.

I vote then, to grant the petition.

Footnotes
1 Comment of Respondents. Rollo, p. 32.

2 Article III, Section 2, 1987 Constitution provides: The right of the people to be
secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches
and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall 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.
SECOND DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 171729


Appellee,
Present:

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,


CARPIO MORALES,
- versus - TINGA,
VELASCO, JR., and
BRION, JJ.

RICARDO BOHOL y CABRINO, Promulgated:


Appellant. July 28, 2008
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

QUISUMBING, J.:

On appeal is the Decision[1] dated September 23, 2005 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 01247 affirming the Decision[2] dated March 7, 2003 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 35, in Criminal Cases Nos. 02-
205461 and 02-205462. The RTC had convicted appellant Ricardo Bohol (Bohol)
of violating Sections 11 (3)[3] and 5,[4] Article II, respectively, of Republic Act No.
9165[5] also known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

On August 7, 2002, two Informations[6] were filed against Bohol before the RTC
of Manila, Branch 35, for violations of Rep. Act No. 9165.

In Criminal Case No. 02-205461, involving the violation of Section 11 (3),


Article II of Rep. Act No. 9165, the information reads as follows:
That on or about August 2, 2002, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the
said accused, without being authorized by law to possess any dangerous drug, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession and
under his custody and control three (3) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets
containing white crystalline substance commonly known as shabu weighing zero
point zero four eight (0.048) gram, zero point zero three five (0.035) gram, and
zero point zero three five (0.035) gram, respectively, which, after a laboratory
examination, gave positive results for methylamphetamine (sic) hydrochloride, a
dangerous drug.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[7]

In Criminal Case No. 02-205462, for violation of Section 5 of the same law, the
information reads as follows:
That on or about August 2, 2002, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the
said accused, without being authorized by law to sell, administer, deliver,
transport or distribute any dangerous drug, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and knowingly sell or attempt to sell, or offer for sale for P100.00 and
deliver to PO2 Ferdinand Estrada, a poseur buyer, one (1) heat-sealed transparent
plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance commonly known as shabu
weighing zero point zero five four (0.054) gram, which substance, after a
qualitative examination, gave positive results for methamphetamine
hydrochloride, which is a dangerous drug.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[8]

The antecedent facts in these cases are as follows.

On August 2, 2002, at around 8:30 p.m., a confidential informant came to


the police station and tipped P/Sr. Insp. Jessie Nitullano that a certain Ricardo
Bohol is engaged in illegal drug trade in Isla Puting Bato, Tondo, Manila. P/Sr.
Insp. Nitullano then formed a team of six police operatives to verify the informants
tip, and, if found positive, to launch then and there a buy-bust entrapment
of Bohol. PO2 Ferdinand Estrada was assigned to act as poseur buyer, and he was
provided with a marked P100-bill as buy-bust money.

Between 9:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. of the same day, the team proceeded to the site of
their operation. Guided by the informant, PO2 Estrada proceeded to the house
of Bohol, whom they saw standing beside the stairs of his house. Following a short
introduction, PO2 Estrada and the informant told Bohol of their
purpose. Bohol asked, How much? to which PO2 Estrada replied, Piso
lang (meaning P100 worth of shabu) and handed to the former the marked P100-
bill. In turn, Bohol gave PO2 Estrada a plastic sachet containing white crystalline
granules which the latter suspected to be shabu. The illicit transaction having been
consummated, PO2 Estrada gave to his companions their pre-arranged
signal.Emerging from their hiding places, PO2 Luisito Gutierrez and his
companions arrested Bohol. PO2 Gutierrez frisked Bohol and recovered from him
the buy-bust money and three plastic sachets containing similar white crystalline
granules suspected to be shabu.

Consequently, the police officers brought Bohol to the police station and the
confiscated four plastic sachets of white crystalline substance were subjected to
laboratory examination. The specimens were confirmed to be methamphetamine
hydrochloride, commonly known as shabu.

Upon arraignment, Bohol entered a plea of not guilty to both charges. Thereafter,
trial on the merits ensued.

On March 7, 2003, the trial court rendered the assailed Decision, the
dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered:

(1) In Criminal Case No. 02-205461, pronouncing accused RICARDO


BOHOL y CABRINO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of possession of a total of
0.118 gram of [methamphetamine] hydrochloride without authority of law,
penalized under Section 11 (3) of Republic Act No. 9165, and sentencing the said
accused to the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from twelve (12) years and
one (1) day, as minimum, to fifteen (15) years, as maximum, and to pay a fine
of P300,000.00, plus the costs.

(2) In Criminal Case No. 02-205462, pronouncing the same accused


RICARDO BOHOL y CABRINO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of selling
0.054 gram of [methamphetamine] hydrochloride without authority of law,
penalized under Section 5 of the same Republic Act No. 9165, and sentencing the
said accused to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P5,000,000.00, plus the
costs.

In the service of his sentence in Criminal Case No. 02-205461, the time
during which the accused had been under preventive imprisonment should be
credited in his favor provided that he had agreed voluntarily in writing to abide
with the same disciplinary rules imposed on convicted prisoner. Otherwise, he
should be credited with four-fifths (4/5) only of the time he had been under
preventive imprisonment.
Exhibits B and B-1, consisting of four sachets of shabu, are ordered
forfeited and confiscated in favor of the Government. Within ten (10) days
following the promulgation of this judgment, the Branch Clerk of this Court is
ordered to turn over, under proper receipt, the drug involved in this case to the
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for proper disposal.

SO ORDERED.[9]

Since one of the penalties imposed by the trial court is life imprisonment, the cases
were forwarded to this Court for automatic review. On June 15, 2005, this Court
transferred the cases to the Court of Appeals for intermediate review pursuant to
this Courts decision in People v. Mateo.[10]

In a Decision dated September 23, 2005, the Court of Appeals denied the appeal
and affirmed the decision of the trial court with modification, so that the penalty in
Criminal Case No. 02-205461 should be imprisonment for 12 years, as minimum,
to 14 years, 8 months and 1 day, as maximum. Bohols Motion for Reconsideration
was likewise denied by the appellate court. Thus, Bohol filed a notice of appeal.

By Resolution[11] dated June 14, 2006, this Court required the parties to file their
respective supplemental briefs if they so desire. Bohol and the Office of the
Solicitor General (OSG), however, manifested that they are adopting their briefs
before the appellate court. Hence, we shall resolve the instant appeal on the basis
of the arguments of the parties in said briefs.

In his appellants brief, Bohol assigns the following errors:


I.
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT FINDING THE ACCUSED-
APPELLANTS SEARCH AND ARREST AS ILLEGAL.

II.
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-
APPELLANT OF THE CRIME CHARGED DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE
PROSECUTION TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE
DOUBT.[12]
Simply stated, the issues are: (1) whether Bohols arrest and the search on his
person were illegal; and (2) whether the trial court erred in
convicting Bohol despite the absence of proof beyond reasonable doubt.

On the first issue, Bohol claims that his arrest was illegal since he could not have
committed, nor was he about to commit, a crime as he was peacefully sleeping
when he was arrested without a warrant. Consequently, the search conducted by
the police officers was not incidental to a lawful warrantless arrest, and the
confiscated shabu obtained from the search was inadmissible as evidence against
him.

For the appellee, the OSG maintains that the arrest of Bohol as well as the search
on his person is legal. The OSG stresses that the search made on the person
of Bohol was incidental to a lawful arrest which was made when he was caught
in flagrante delicto. Further, the OSG maintains that at the time of Bohols arrest,
the police officers had probable cause to suspect that a crime had been committed
since they had received a tip from a confidential informant of the existence of
illegal drug trade in the said place.

Bohols arguments are bereft of merit.

The arrest of Bohol is legal. The Constitution proscribes unreasonable


arrests and provides in the Bill of Rights that no arrest, search and seizure can be
made without a valid warrant issued by competent judicial authority.[13] However,
it is a settled exception to the rule that an arrest made after an entrapment operation
does not require a warrant.Such warrantless arrest is considered reasonable and
valid under Rule 113, Section 5(a) of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure,
which states:
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;

xxxx
In the present case, the arresting officers were justified in arresting Bohol as he had
just committed a crime when he sold the shabu to PO2 Estrada. A buy-bust
operation is a form of entrapment which has repeatedly been accepted to be a valid
means of arresting violators of the Dangerous Drugs Law.

Considering the legality of Bohols warrantless arrest, the subsequent warrantless


search that resulted in the seizure of the shabu found in his person is likewise
valid. In a legitimate warrantless arrest, the arresting police officers are authorized
to search and seize from the offender (1) any dangerous weapons and (2) the things
which may be used as proof of the commission of the offense.[14] The constitutional
proscription against warrantless searches and seizures admits of certain
exceptions. This Court has ruled that the following instances constitute valid
warrantless searches and seizures: (1) search incident to a lawful arrest; (2) search
of a moving motor vehicle; (3) search in violation of customs laws; (4) seizure of
the evidence in plain view; (5) search when the accused himself waives his right
against unreasonable searches and seizures; (6) stop and frisk; and (7) exigent and
emergency circumstances.[15]

As to the second issue, Bohol contends that the prosecution failed to


establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. He faults the trial court for giving full
faith and credence to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. He asserts that
the only reason why he was arrested was because he was the overseer of a video-
carrera. The police officers filed the illegal drug trade and possession against him
because they failed to find any evidence to have him tried for overseeing a video-
carrera place. Lastly, he laments the failure of the prosecution to present the
confidential informant as a witness during the trial, thereby preventing him from
confronting said witness directly.

The OSG counters that the prosecution established Bohols guilt beyond reasonable
doubt. The police officers who testified against Bohol were not shown to have
been actuated by improper motives, nor were they shown not properly performing
their duty. Thus, their affirmative testimony proving Bohols culpability must be
respected and must perforce prevail. Moreover, the findings of the trial court on the
issue of credibility of witnesses are generally not disturbed by the appellate court
and this Court, since it is the trial court that had the opportunity to appraise
firsthand the demeanor of the witness.
We agree with the OSG. This Court discerns no improper motive on the part of the
police officers that would impel them to fabricate a story and falsely
implicate Bohol in such a serious offense. In the absence of any evidence of the
policemens improper motive, their testimony is worthy of full faith and
credit. Also, courts generally give full faith and credit to officers of the law, for
they are presumed to have performed their duties in a regular
manner. Accordingly, in entrapment cases, credence is given to the narration of an
incident by prosecution witnesses who are officers of the law and presumed to
have performed their duties in a regular manner in the absence of clear and
convincing evidence to the contrary.[16]

Moreover, we find no cogent reason to disturb the findings of the trial


court. The settled rule is that the evaluation of the testimonies of witnesses by the
trial court is entitled to the highest respect because such court has the direct
opportunity to observe the witnesses demeanor and manner of testifying and thus,
is in a better position to assess their credibility.[17]

Lastly, as ruled by the appellate court, Bohol cannot insist on the


presentation of the informant. During trial, the informants presence is not a
requisite in the prosecution of drug cases. The appellate court held that police
authorities rarely, if ever, remove the cloak of confidentiality with which they
surround their poseur-buyers and informers since their usefulness will be over the
moment they are presented in court. Further, what is material to the prosecution for
the illegal sale of dangerous drugs is the proof that the transaction or sale actually
took place, coupled with the presentation in court of the corpus delicti. Both
requirements were sufficiently proven in this case. The police officers were able
to testify positively and categorically that the transaction or sale actually took
place. The subject shabu was likewise positively identified by the prosecution
when presented in court. Hence, we agree that Bohols guilt has been established by
the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt.

Finally, the modification made by the Court of Appeals in the penalty


imposed by the RTC in Criminal Case No. 02-205461 ought to be deleted. Section
1 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law[18] provides that when the offense is punished
by a law other than the Revised Penal Code, the court shall sentence the accused to
an indeterminate sentence, the maximum term of which shall not exceed the
maximum fixed by law and the minimum shall not be less than the minimum term
prescribed by the same. Hence, the penalty originally imposed by the RTC of
imprisonment from 12 years and 1 day, as minimum, to 15 years as maximum, and
to pay a fine of P300,000 is correct and must be sustained.

WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The Decision dated September 23,


2005 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 01247 is
hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION, so that the original penalty imposed
in the Decision dated March 7, 2003 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch
35, in Criminal Case No. 02-205461 as well as No. 02-205462
is SUSTAINED. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Associate Justice

DANTE O. TINGA PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice Associate Justice
ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation
before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division
Chairpersons Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had
been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

[1]
CA rollo, pp. 93-101. Penned by Associate Justice Juan Q. Enriquez, Jr., with Associate Justices Conrado M.
Vasquez, Jr. and Japar B. Dimaampao concurring.
[2]
Id. at 15-22. Penned by Judge Ramon P. Makasiar.
[3]
SEC. 11. Possession of Dangerous Drugs.The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five
hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any
person, who, unless authorized by law, shall possess any dangerous drug in the following quantities, regardless
of the degree of purity thereof:
xxxx
Otherwise, if the quantity involved is less than the foregoing quantities, the penalties shall be graduated as follows:
xxxx
(3) Imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and a fine ranging from Three hundred
thousand pesos (P300,000.00) to Four hundred thousand pesos (P400,000.00), if the quantities of dangerous
drugs are less than five (5) grams of opium, morphine, heroin, cocaine or cocaine hydrochloride, marijuana
resin or marijuana resin oil, methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, or other dangerous drugs such as, but
not limited to, MDMA or ecstasy, PMA, TMA, LSD, GHB, and those similarly designed or newly introduced
drugs and their derivatives, without having any therapeutic value or if the quantity possessed is far beyond
therapeutic requirements; or less than three hundred (300) grams of marijuana.
[4]
SEC. 5. Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of Dangerous
Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals.The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a
fine ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00) shall be
imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized by law, shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give
away to another, distribute, dispatch in transit or transport any dangerous drug, including any and all species of
opium poppy regardless of the quantity and purity involved, or shall act as a broker in any of such transactions.
xxxx
[5]
AN ACT INSTITUTING THE COMPREHENSIVE DANGEROUS DRUGS ACT OF 2002, REPEALING
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6425, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE DANGEROUS DRUGS ACT OF 1972, AS
AMENDED, PROVIDING FUNDS THEREFOR, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES, approved on June 7, 2002.
[6]
CA rollo, pp. 6-7.
[7]
Id. at 6.
[8]
Id. at 7.
[9]
Id. at 21-22.
[10]
G.R. Nos. 147678-87, July 7, 2004, 433 SCRA 640, 657-658.
[11]
Rollo, p. 12.
[12]
CA rollo, p. 49.
[13]
CONSTITUTION, 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.
[14]
People v. Ayangao, G.R. No. 142356, April 14, 2004, 427 SCRA 428, 433.
[15]
Epie, Jr. v. Ulat-Marredo, G.R. No. 148117, March 22, 2007, 518 SCRA 641, 646.
[16]
People v. Ambrosio, G.R. No. 135378, April 14, 2004, 427 SCRA 312, 332, citing People v. Pacis, G.R. No.
146309, July 18, 2002, 384 SCRA 684, 692.
[17]
Aclon v. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 106880 & 120190, August 20, 2002, 387 SCRA 415, 425.
[18]
AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR AN INDETERMINATE SENTENCE AND PAROLE FOR ALL PERSONS
CONVICTED OF CERTAIN CRIMES BY THE COURTS OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS; TO CREATE A
BOARD OF INDETERMINATE SENTENCE AND TO PROVIDE FUNDS THEREFOR; AND FOR OTHER
PURPOSES, approved and effective on December 5, 1933 (Act No. 4103, as amended).
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 157870 November 3, 2008

SOCIAL JUSTICE SOCIETY (SJS), petitioner


vs.
DANGEROUS DRUGS BOARD and PHILIPPINE DRUG ENFORCEMENT
AGENCY (PDEA),respondents.

x-----------------------------------------------x

G.R. No. 158633 November 3, 2008

ATTY. MANUEL J. LASERNA, JR., petitioner


vs.
DANGEROUS DRUGS BOARD and PHILIPPINE DRUG ENFORCEMENT
AGENCY, respondents.

x-----------------------------------------------x

G.R. No. 161658 November 3, 2008

AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., petitioner


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondents.

DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.:

In these kindred petitions, the constitutionality of Section 36 of Republic Act


No. (RA) 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act
of 2002, insofar as it requires mandatory drug testing of candidates for public
office, students of secondary and tertiary schools, officers and employees of
public and private offices, and persons charged before the prosecutor's office
with certain offenses, among other personalities, is put in issue.

As far as pertinent, the challenged section reads as follows:


SEC. 36. Authorized Drug Testing. - Authorized drug testing shall be
done by any government forensic laboratories or by any of the drug
testing laboratories accredited and monitored by the DOH to safeguard
the quality of the test results. x x x The drug testing shall employ,
among others, two (2) testing methods, the screening test which will
determine the positive result as well as the type of drug used and the
confirmatory test which will confirm a positive screening test. x x x The
following shall be subjected to undergo drug testing:

xxxx

(c) Students of secondary and tertiary schools. - Students of secondary


and tertiary schools shall, pursuant to the related rules and regulations
as contained in the school's student handbook and with notice to the
parents, undergo a random drug testing x x x;

(d) Officers and employees of public and private offices. - Officers and
employees of public and private offices, whether domestic or overseas,
shall be subjected to undergo a random drug test as contained in the
company's work rules and regulations, x x x for purposes of reducing
the risk in the workplace. Any officer or employee found positive for use
of dangerous drugs shall be dealt with administratively which shall be a
ground for suspension or termination, subject to the provisions of Article
282 of the Labor Code and pertinent provisions of the Civil Service Law;

xxxx

(f) All persons charged before the prosecutor's office with a criminal
offense having an imposable penalty of imprisonment of not less than
six (6) years and one (1) day shall undergo a mandatory drug test;

(g) All candidates for public office whether appointed or elected both in
the national or local government shall undergo a mandatory drug test.

In addition to the above stated penalties in this Section, those found to be


positive for dangerous drugs use shall be subject to the provisions of Section
15 of this Act.

G.R. No. 161658 (Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. v. Commission on Elections)

On December 23, 2003, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) issued


Resolution No. 6486, prescribing the rules and regulations on the mandatory
drug testing of candidates for public office in connection with the May 10,
2004 synchronized national and local elections. The pertinent portions of the
said resolution read as follows:

WHEREAS, Section 36 (g) of Republic Act No. 9165 provides:

SEC. 36. Authorized Drug Testing. - x x x

xxxx

(g) All candidates for public office x x x both in the national or local
government shall undergo a mandatory drug test.

WHEREAS, Section 1, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution provides that


public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the
people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and
efficiency;

WHEREAS, by requiring candidates to undergo mandatory drug test,


the public will know the quality of candidates they are electing and they
will be assured that only those who can serve with utmost responsibility,
integrity, loyalty, and efficiency would be elected x x x.

NOW THEREFORE, The [COMELEC], pursuant to the authority vested


in it under the Constitution, Batas Pambansa Blg. 881 (Omnibus
Election Code), [RA] 9165 and other election laws, RESOLVED to
promulgate, as it hereby promulgates, the following rules and
regulations on the conduct of mandatory drug testing to candidates for
public office[:]

SECTION 1. Coverage. - All candidates for public office, both


national and local, in the May 10, 2004 Synchronized National and
Local Elections shall undergo mandatory drug test in government
forensic laboratories or any drug testing laboratories monitored and
accredited by the Department of Health.

SEC. 3. x x x

On March 25, 2004, in addition to the drug certificates filed with their
respective offices, the Comelec Offices and employees concerned shall
submit to the Law Department two (2) separate lists of candidates. The
first list shall consist of those candidates who complied with the
mandatory drug test while the second list shall consist of those
candidates who failed to comply x x x.

SEC. 4. Preparation and publication of names of candidates. - Before


the start of the campaign period, the [COMELEC] shall prepare two
separate lists of candidates. The first list shall consist of those
candidates who complied with the mandatory drug test while the second
list shall consist of those candidates who failed to comply with said drug
test. x x x

SEC. 5. Effect of failure to undergo mandatory drug test and file drug
test certificate. - No person elected to any public office shall enter upon
the duties of his office until he has undergone mandatory drug test and
filed with the offices enumerated under Section 2 hereof the drug test
certificate herein required. (Emphasis supplied.)

Petitioner Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., a senator of the Republic and a candidate


for re - election in the May 10, 2004 elections,1 filed a Petition for Certiorari
and Prohibition under Rule 65. In it, he seeks (1) to nullify Sec. 36(g) of RA
9165 and COMELEC Resolution No. 6486 dated December 23, 2003 for
being unconstitutional in that they impose a qualification for candidates for
senators in addition to those already provided for in the 1987 Constitution; and
(2) to enjoin the COMELEC from implementing Resolution No. 6486.

Pimentel invokes as legal basis for his petition Sec. 3, Article VI of the
Constitution, which states:

SECTION 3. No person shall be a Senator unless he is a natural - born


citizen of the Philippines, and, on the day of the election, is at least thirty
- five years of age, able to read and write, a registered voter, and a
resident of the Philippines for not less than two years immediately
preceding the day of the election.

According to Pimentel, the Constitution only prescribes a maximum of five (5)


qualifications for one to be a candidate for, elected to, and be a member of the
Senate. He says that both the Congress and COMELEC, by requiring, via RA
9165 and Resolution No. 6486, a senatorial aspirant, among other candidates,
to undergo a mandatory drug test, create an additional qualification that all
candidates for senator must first be certified as drug free. He adds that there
is no provision in the Constitution authorizing the Congress or COMELEC to
expand the qualification requirements of candidates for senator.
G.R. No. 157870 (Social Justice Society v. Dangerous
Drugs Board and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency)

In its Petition for Prohibition under Rule 65, petitioner Social Justice Society
(SJS), a registered political party, seeks to prohibit the Dangerous Drugs
Board (DDB) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) from
enforcing paragraphs (c), (d), (f), and (g) of Sec. 36 of RA 9165 on the ground
that they are constitutionally infirm. For one, the provisions constitute undue
delegation of legislative power when they give unbridled discretion to schools
and employers to determine the manner of drug testing. For another, the
provisions trench in the equal protection clause inasmuch as they can be used
to harass a student or an employee deemed undesirable. And for a third, a
person's constitutional right against unreasonable searches is also breached
by said provisions.

G.R. No. 158633 (Atty. Manuel J. Laserna, Jr. v. Dangerous


Drugs Board and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency)

Petitioner Atty. Manuel J. Laserna, Jr., as citizen and taxpayer, also seeks in
his Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition under Rule 65 that Sec. 36(c), (d), (f),
and (g) of RA 9165 be struck down as unconstitutional for infringing on the
constitutional right to privacy, the right against unreasonable search and
seizure, and the right against self - incrimination, and for being contrary to the
due process and equal protection guarantees.

The Issue on Locus Standi

First off, we shall address the justiciability of the cases at bench and the
matter of the standing of petitioners SJS and Laserna to sue. As respondents
DDB and PDEA assert, SJS and Laserna failed to allege any incident
amounting to a violation of the constitutional rights mentioned in their separate
petitions.2

It is basic that the power of judicial review can only be exercised in connection
with a bona fidecontroversy which involves the statute sought to be
reviewed.3 But even with the presence of an actual case or controversy, the
Court may refuse to exercise judicial review unless the constitutional question
is brought before it by a party having the requisite standing to challenge it.4 To
have standing, one must establish that he or she has suffered some actual or
threatened injury as a result of the allegedly illegal conduct of the government;
the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action; and the injury is likely to
be redressed by a favorable action.5
The rule on standing, however, is a matter of procedure; hence, it can be
relaxed for non - traditional plaintiffs, like ordinary citizens, taxpayers, and
legislators when the public interest so requires, such as when the matter is of
transcendental importance, of overarching significance to society, or of
paramount public interest.6 There is no doubt that Pimentel, as senator of the
Philippines and candidate for the May 10, 2004 elections, possesses the
requisite standing since he has substantial interests in the subject matter of
the petition, among other preliminary considerations. Regarding SJS and
Laserna, this Court is wont to relax the rule on locus standi owing primarily to
the transcendental importance and the paramount public interest involved in
the enforcement of Sec. 36 of RA 9165.

The Consolidated Issues

The principal issues before us are as follows:

(1) Do Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165 and COMELEC Resolution No. 6486 impose an
additional qualification for candidates for senator? Corollarily, can Congress
enact a law prescribing qualifications for candidates for senator in addition to
those laid down by the Constitution? and

(2) Are paragraphs (c), (d), (f), and (g) of Sec. 36, RA 9165 unconstitutional?
Specifically, do these paragraphs violate the right to privacy, the right against
unreasonable searches and seizure, and the equal protection clause? Or do
they constitute undue delegation of legislative power?

Pimentel Petition
(Constitutionality of Sec. 36[g] of RA 9165 and
COMELEC Resolution No. 6486)

In essence, Pimentel claims that Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165 and COMELEC


Resolution No. 6486 illegally impose an additional qualification on candidates
for senator. He points out that, subject to the provisions on nuisance
candidates, a candidate for senator needs only to meet the qualifications laid
down in Sec. 3, Art. VI of the Constitution, to wit: (1) citizenship, (2) voter
registration, (3) literacy, (4) age, and (5) residency. Beyond these stated
qualification requirements, candidates for senator need not possess any other
qualification to run for senator and be voted upon and elected as member of
the Senate. The Congress cannot validly amend or otherwise modify these
qualification standards, as it cannot disregard, evade, or weaken the force of a
constitutional mandate,7 or alter or enlarge the Constitution.
Pimentel's contention is well - taken. Accordingly, Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165
should be, as it is hereby declared as, unconstitutional. It is basic that if a law
or an administrative rule violates any norm of the Constitution, that issuance is
null and void and has no effect. The Constitution is the basic law to which all
laws must conform; no act shall be valid if it conflicts with the Constitution.8 In
the discharge of their defined functions, the three departments of government
have no choice but to yield obedience to the commands of the Constitution.
Whatever limits it imposes must be observed.9

Congress' inherent legislative powers, broad as they may be, are subject to
certain limitations. As early as 1927, in Government v. Springer, the Court has
defined, in the abstract, the limits on legislative power in the following wise:

Someone has said that the powers of the legislative department of the
Government, like the boundaries of the ocean, are unlimited. In
constitutional governments, however, as well as governments acting
under delegated authority, the powers of each of the departments x x x
are limited and confined within the four walls of the constitution or the
charter, and each department can only exercise such powers as are
necessarily implied from the given powers. The Constitution is the shore
of legislative authority against which the waves of legislative enactment
may dash, but over which it cannot leap.10

Thus, legislative power remains limited in the sense that it is subject to


substantive and constitutional limitations which circumscribe both the exercise
of the power itself and the allowable subjects of legislation.11 The substantive
constitutional limitations are chiefly found in the Bill of Rights12 and other
provisions, such as Sec. 3, Art. VI of the Constitution prescribing the
qualifications of candidates for senators.

In the same vein, the COMELEC cannot, in the guise of enforcing and
administering election laws or promulgating rules and regulations to
implement Sec. 36(g), validly impose qualifications on candidates for senator
in addition to what the Constitution prescribes. If Congress cannot require a
candidate for senator to meet such additional qualification, the COMELEC, to
be sure, is also without such power. The right of a citizen in the democratic
process of election should not be defeated by unwarranted impositions of
requirement not otherwise specified in the Constitution.13

Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165, as sought to be implemented by the assailed


COMELEC resolution, effectively enlarges the qualification requirements
enumerated in the Sec. 3, Art. VI of the Constitution. As couched, said Sec.
36(g) unmistakably requires a candidate for senator to be certified illegal -
drug clean, obviously as a pre - condition to the validity of a certificate of
candidacy for senator or, with like effect, a condition sine qua non to be voted
upon and, if proper, be proclaimed as senator - elect. The COMELEC
resolution completes the chain with the proviso that "[n]o person elected to
any public office shall enter upon the duties of his office until he has
undergone mandatory drug test." Viewed, therefore, in its proper context, Sec.
36(g) of RA 9165 and the implementing COMELEC Resolution add another
qualification layer to what the 1987 Constitution, at the minimum, requires for
membership in the Senate. Whether or not the drug - free bar set up under the
challenged provision is to be hurdled before or after election is really of no
moment, as getting elected would be of little value if one cannot assume office
for non - compliance with the drug - testing requirement.

It may of course be argued, in defense of the validity of Sec. 36(g) of RA


9165, that the provision does not expressly state that non - compliance with
the drug test imposition is a disqualifying factor or would work to nullify a
certificate of candidacy. This argument may be accorded plausibility if the
drug test requirement is optional. But the particular section of the law, without
exception, made drug - testing on those covered mandatory, necessarily
suggesting that the obstinate ones shall have to suffer the adverse
consequences for not adhering to the statutory command. And since the
provision deals with candidates for public office, it stands to reason that the
adverse consequence adverted to can only refer to and revolve around the
election and the assumption of public office of the candidates. Any other
construal would reduce the mandatory nature of Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165 into a
pure jargon without meaning and effect whatsoever.

While it is anti - climactic to state it at this juncture, COMELEC Resolution No.


6486 is no longer enforceable, for by its terms, it was intended to cover only
the May 10, 2004 synchronized elections and the candidates running in that
electoral event. Nonetheless, to obviate repetition, the Court deems it
appropriate to review and rule, as it hereby rules, on its validity as an
implementing issuance.

It ought to be made abundantly clear, however, that the unconstitutionality of


Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165 is rooted on its having infringed the constitutional
provision defining the qualification or eligibility requirements for one aspiring to
run for and serve as senator.

SJS Petition
(Constitutionality of Sec. 36[c], [d], [f], and [g] of RA 9165)
The drug test prescribed under Sec. 36(c), (d), and (f) of RA 9165 for
secondary and tertiary level students and public and private employees, while
mandatory, is a random and suspicionless arrangement. The objective is to
stamp out illegal drug and safeguard in the process "the well being of [the]
citizenry, particularly the youth, from the harmful effects of dangerous drugs."
This statutory purpose, per the policy - declaration portion of the law, can be
achieved via the pursuit by the state of "an intensive and unrelenting
campaign against the trafficking and use of dangerous drugs x x x through an
integrated system of planning, implementation and enforcement of anti - drug
abuse policies, programs and projects."14 The primary legislative intent is not
criminal prosecution, as those found positive for illegal drug use as a result of
this random testing are not necessarily treated as criminals. They may even
be exempt from criminal liability should the illegal drug user consent to
undergo rehabilitation. Secs. 54 and 55 of RA 9165 are clear on this point:

Sec. 54. Voluntary Submission of a Drug Dependent to Confinement,


Treatment and Rehabilitation. - A drug dependent or any person who
violates Section 15 of this Act may, by himself/herself or through his/her
parent, [close relatives] x x x apply to the Board x x x for treatment and
rehabilitation of the drug dependency. Upon such application, the Board
shall bring forth the matter to the Court which shall order that the
applicant be examined for drug dependency. If the examination x x x
results in the certification that the applicant is a drug dependent, he/she
shall be ordered by the Court to undergo treatment and rehabilitation in
a Center designated by the Board x x x.

xxxx

Sec. 55. Exemption from the Criminal Liability Under the Voluntary
Submission Program. - A drug dependent under the voluntary
submission program, who is finally discharged from confinement, shall
be exempt from the criminal liability under Section 15 of this Act subject
to the following conditions:

xxxx

School children, the US Supreme Court noted, are most vulnerable to the
physical, psychological, and addictive effects of drugs. Maturing nervous
systems of the young are more critically impaired by intoxicants and are more
inclined to drug dependency. Their recovery is also at a depressingly low
rate.15
The right to privacy has been accorded recognition in this jurisdiction as a
facet of the right protected by the guarantee against unreasonable search and
seizure16 under Sec. 2, Art. III17 of the Constitution. But while the right to
privacy has long come into its own, this case appears to be the first time that
the validity of a state - decreed search or intrusion through the medium of
mandatory random drug testing among students and employees is, in this
jurisdiction, made the focal point. Thus, the issue tendered in these
proceedings is veritably one of first impression.

US jurisprudence is, however, a rich source of persuasive jurisprudence. With


respect to random drug testing among school children, we turn to the
teachings of Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton (Vernonia) and Board of
Education of Independent School District No. 92 of Pottawatomie County, et
al. v. Earls, et al. (Board of Education),18 both fairly pertinent US Supreme
Court - decided cases involving the constitutionality of governmental search.

In Vernonia, school administrators in Vernonia, Oregon wanted to address the


drug menace in their respective institutions following the discovery of frequent
drug use by school athletes. After consultation with the parents, they required
random urinalysis drug testing for the school's athletes. James Acton, a high
school student, was denied participation in the football program after he
refused to undertake the urinalysis drug testing. Acton forthwith sued, claiming
that the school's drug testing policy violated, inter alia, the Fourth
Amendment19 of the US Constitution.

The US Supreme Court, in fashioning a solution to the issues raised


in Vernonia, considered the following: (1) schools stand in loco parentis over
their students; (2) school children, while not shedding their constitutional rights
at the school gate, have less privacy rights; (3) athletes have less privacy
rights than non - athletes since the former observe communal undress before
and after sports events; (4) by joining the sports activity, the athletes
voluntarily subjected themselves to a higher degree of school supervision and
regulation; (5) requiring urine samples does not invade a student's privacy
since a student need not undress for this kind of drug testing; and (6) there is
need for the drug testing because of the dangerous effects of illegal drugs on
the young. The US Supreme Court held that the policy constituted reasonable
search under the Fourth20 and 14th Amendments and declared the random
drug - testing policy constitutional.

In Board of Education, the Board of Education of a school in Tecumseh,


Oklahoma required a drug test for high school students desiring to join extra -
curricular activities. Lindsay Earls, a member of the show choir, marching
band, and academic team declined to undergo a drug test and averred that
the drug - testing policy made to apply to non - athletes violated the Fourth
and 14th Amendments. As Earls argued, unlike athletes who routinely
undergo physical examinations and undress before their peers in locker
rooms, non - athletes are entitled to more privacy.

The US Supreme Court, citing Vernonia, upheld the constitutionality of drug


testing even among non - athletes on the basis of the school's custodial
responsibility and authority. In so ruling, said court made no distinction
between a non - athlete and an athlete. It ratiocinated that schools and
teachers act in place of the parents with a similar interest and duty of
safeguarding the health of the students. And in holding that the school could
implement its random drug - testing policy, the Court hinted that such a test
was a kind of search in which even a reasonable parent might need to
engage.

In sum, what can reasonably be deduced from the above two cases and
applied to this jurisdiction are: (1) schools and their administrators stand in
loco parentis with respect to their students; (2) minor students have
contextually fewer rights than an adult, and are subject to the custody and
supervision of their parents, guardians, and schools; (3) schools, acting in
loco parentis, have a duty to safeguard the health and well - being of their
students and may adopt such measures as may reasonably be necessary to
discharge such duty; and (4) schools have the right to impose conditions on
applicants for admission that are fair, just, and non-discriminatory.

Guided by Vernonia and Board of Education, the Court is of the view and so
holds that the provisions of RA 9165 requiring mandatory, random, and
suspicionless drug testing of students are constitutional. Indeed, it is within the
prerogative of educational institutions to require, as a condition for admission,
compliance with reasonable school rules and regulations and policies. To be
sure, the right to enroll is not absolute; it is subject to fair, reasonable, and
equitable requirements.

The Court can take judicial notice of the proliferation of prohibited drugs in the
country that threatens the well - being of the people,21 particularly the youth
and school children who usually end up as victims. Accordingly, and until a
more effective method is conceptualized and put in motion, a random drug
testing of students in secondary and tertiary schools is not only acceptable but
may even be necessary if the safety and interest of the student population,
doubtless a legitimate concern of the government, are to be promoted and
protected. To borrow from Vernonia, "[d]eterring drug use by our Nation's
schoolchildren is as important as enhancing efficient enforcement of the
Nation's laws against the importation of drugs"; the necessity for the State to
act is magnified by the fact that the effects of a drug - infested school are
visited not just upon the users, but upon the entire student body and
faculty.22 Needless to stress, the random testing scheme provided under the
law argues against the idea that the testing aims to incriminate unsuspecting
individual students.

Just as in the case of secondary and tertiary level students, the mandatory but
random drug test prescribed by Sec. 36 of RA 9165 for officers and
employees of public and private offices is justifiable, albeit not exactly for the
same reason. The Court notes in this regard that petitioner SJS, other than
saying that "subjecting almost everybody to drug testing, without probable
cause, is unreasonable, an unwarranted intrusion of the individual right to
privacy,"23 has failed to show how the mandatory, random, and suspicionless
drug testing under Sec. 36(c) and (d) of RA 9165 violates the right to privacy
and constitutes unlawful and/or unconsented search under Art. III, Secs. 1
and 2 of the Constitution.24 Petitioner Laserna's lament is just as simplistic,
sweeping, and gratuitous and does not merit serious consideration. Consider
what he wrote without elaboration:

The US Supreme Court and US Circuit Courts of Appeals have made


various rulings on the constitutionality of mandatory drug tests in the
school and the workplaces. The US courts have been consistent in their
rulings that the mandatory drug tests violate a citizen's constitutional
right to privacy and right against unreasonable search and seizure.
They are quoted extensively hereinbelow.25

The essence of privacy is the right to be left alone.26 In context, the right to
privacy means the right to be free from unwarranted exploitation of one's
person or from intrusion into one's private activities in such a way as to cause
humiliation to a person's ordinary sensibilities. 27 And while there has been
general agreement as to the basic function of the guarantee against
unwarranted search, "translation of the abstract prohibition against
‘unreasonable searches and seizures' into workable broad guidelines for the
decision of particular cases is a difficult task," to borrow from C. Camara v.
Municipal Court.28 Authorities are agreed though that the right to privacy yields
to certain paramount rights of the public and defers to the state's exercise of
police power.29

As the warrantless clause of Sec. 2, Art III of the Constitution is couched and
as has been held, "reasonableness" is the touchstone of the validity of a
government search or intrusion.30 And whether a search at issue hews to the
reasonableness standard is judged by the balancing of the government -
mandated intrusion on the individual's privacy interest against the promotion
of some compelling state interest.31 In the criminal context, reasonableness
requires showing of probable cause to be personally determined by a judge.
Given that the drug - testing policy for employees--and students for that
matter--under RA 9165 is in the nature of administrative search needing what
was referred to in Vernonia as "swift and informal disciplinary procedures," the
probable - cause standard is not required or even practicable. Be that as it
may, the review should focus on the reasonableness of the challenged
administrative search in question.

The first factor to consider in the matter of reasonableness is the nature of the
privacy interest upon which the drug testing, which effects a search within the
meaning of Sec. 2, Art. III of the Constitution, intrudes. In this case, the office
or workplace serves as the backdrop for the analysis of the privacy
expectation of the employees and the reasonableness of drug testing
requirement. The employees' privacy interest in an office is to a large extent
circumscribed by the company's work policies, the collective bargaining
agreement, if any, entered into by management and the bargaining unit, and
the inherent right of the employer to maintain discipline and efficiency in the
workplace. Their privacy expectation in a regulated office environment is, in
fine, reduced; and a degree of impingement upon such privacy has been
upheld.

Just as defining as the first factor is the character of the intrusion authorized
by the challenged law. Reduced to a question form, is the scope of the search
or intrusion clearly set forth, or, as formulated in Ople v. Torres, is the
enabling law authorizing a search "narrowly drawn" or "narrowly focused"?32

The poser should be answered in the affirmative. For one, Sec. 36 of RA 9165
and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR), as couched, contain
provisions specifically directed towards preventing a situation that would
unduly embarrass the employees or place them under a humiliating
experience. While every officer and employee in a private establishment is
under the law deemed forewarned that he or she may be a possible subject of
a drug test, nobody is really singled out in advance for drug testing. The goal
is to discourage drug use by not telling in advance anyone when and who is to
be tested. And as may be observed, Sec. 36(d) of RA 9165 itself prescribes
what, in Ople, is a narrowing ingredient by providing that the employees
concerned shall be subjected to "random drug test as contained in the
company's work rules and regulations x x x for purposes of reducing the risk in
the work place."

For another, the random drug testing shall be undertaken under conditions
calculated to protect as much as possible the employee's privacy and dignity.
As to the mechanics of the test, the law specifies that the procedure shall
employ two testing methods, i.e., the screening test and the confirmatory test,
doubtless to ensure as much as possible the trustworthiness of the results.
But the more important consideration lies in the fact that the test shall be
conducted by trained professionals in access - controlled laboratories
monitored by the Department of Health (DOH) to safeguard against results
tampering and to ensure an accurate chain of custody.33 In addition, the IRR
issued by the DOH provides that access to the drug results shall be on the
"need to know" basis;34 that the "drug test result and the records shall be
[kept] confidential subject to the usual accepted practices to protect the
confidentiality of the test results."35 Notably, RA 9165 does not oblige the
employer concerned to report to the prosecuting agencies any information or
evidence relating to the violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs
Act received as a result of the operation of the drug testing. All told, therefore,
the intrusion into the employees' privacy, under RA 9165, is accompanied by
proper safeguards, particularly against embarrassing leakages of test results,
and is relatively minimal.

To reiterate, RA 9165 was enacted as a measure to stamp out illegal drug in


the country and thus protect the well - being of the citizens, especially the
youth, from the deleterious effects of dangerous drugs. The law intends to
achieve this through the medium, among others, of promoting and resolutely
pursuing a national drug abuse policy in the workplace via a mandatory
random drug test.36 To the Court, the need for drug testing to at least minimize
illegal drug use is substantial enough to override the individual's privacy
interest under the premises. The Court can consider that the illegal drug
menace cuts across gender, age group, and social - economic lines. And it
may not be amiss to state that the sale, manufacture, or trafficking of illegal
drugs, with their ready market, would be an investor's dream were it not for
the illegal and immoral components of any of such activities. The drug
problem has hardly abated since the martial law public execution of a
notorious drug trafficker. The state can no longer assume a laid back stance
with respect to this modern - day scourge. Drug enforcement agencies
perceive a mandatory random drug test to be an effective way of preventing
and deterring drug use among employees in private offices, the threat of
detection by random testing being higher than other modes. The Court holds
that the chosen method is a reasonable and enough means to lick the
problem.

Taking into account the foregoing factors, i.e., the reduced expectation of
privacy on the part of the employees, the compelling state concern likely to be
met by the search, and the well - defined limits set forth in the law to properly
guide authorities in the conduct of the random testing, we hold that the
challenged drug test requirement is, under the limited context of the case,
reasonable and, ergo, constitutional.

Like their counterparts in the private sector, government officials and


employees also labor under reasonable supervision and restrictions imposed
by the Civil Service law and other laws on public officers, all enacted to
promote a high standard of ethics in the public service.37 And if RA 9165
passes the norm of reasonableness for private employees, the more reason
that it should pass the test for civil servants, who, by constitutional command,
are required to be accountable at all times to the people and to serve them
with utmost responsibility and efficiency.38

Petitioner SJS' next posture that Sec. 36 of RA 9165 is objectionable on the


ground of undue delegation of power hardly commends itself for concurrence.
Contrary to its position, the provision in question is not so extensively drawn
as to give unbridled options to schools and employers to determine the
manner of drug testing. Sec. 36 expressly provides how drug testing for
students of secondary and tertiary schools and officers/employees of
public/private offices should be conducted. It enumerates the persons who
shall undergo drug testing. In the case of students, the testing shall be in
accordance with the school rules as contained in the student handbook and
with notice to parents. On the part of officers/employees, the testing shall take
into account the company's work rules. In either case, the random procedure
shall be observed, meaning that the persons to be subjected to drug test shall
be picked by chance or in an unplanned way. And in all cases, safeguards
against misusing and compromising the confidentiality of the test results are
established.

Lest it be overlooked, Sec. 94 of RA 9165 charges the DDB to issue, in


consultation with the DOH, Department of the Interior and Local Government,
Department of Education, and Department of Labor and Employment, among
other agencies, the IRR necessary to enforce the law. In net effect then, the
participation of schools and offices in the drug testing scheme shall always be
subject to the IRR of RA 9165. It is, therefore, incorrect to say that schools
and employers have unchecked discretion to determine how often, under what
conditions, and where the drug tests shall be conducted.

The validity of delegating legislative power is now a quiet area in the


constitutional landscape.39 In the face of the increasing complexity of the task
of the government and the increasing inability of the legislature to cope
directly with the many problems demanding its attention, resort to delegation
of power, or entrusting to administrative agencies the power of subordinate
legislation, has become imperative, as here.

Laserna Petition (Constitutionality of Sec. 36[c], [d],


[f], and [g] of RA 9165)

Unlike the situation covered by Sec. 36(c) and (d) of RA 9165, the Court finds
no valid justification for mandatory drug testing for persons accused of crimes.
In the case of students, the constitutional viability of the mandatory, random,
and suspicionless drug testing for students emanates primarily from the
waiver by the students of their right to privacy when they seek entry to the
school, and from their voluntarily submitting their persons to the parental
authority of school authorities. In the case of private and public employees,
the constitutional soundness of the mandatory, random, and suspicionless
drug testing proceeds from the reasonableness of the drug test policy and
requirement.

We find the situation entirely different in the case of persons charged before
the public prosecutor's office with criminal offenses punishable with six (6)
years and one (1) day imprisonment. The operative concepts in the
mandatory drug testing are "randomness" and "suspicionless." In the case of
persons charged with a crime before the prosecutor's office, a mandatory drug
testing can never be random or suspicionless. The ideas of randomness and
being suspicionless are antithetical to their being made defendants in a
criminal complaint. They are not randomly picked; neither are they beyond
suspicion. When persons suspected of committing a crime are charged, they
are singled out and are impleaded against their will. The persons thus
charged, by the bare fact of being haled before the prosecutor's office and
peaceably submitting themselves to drug testing, if that be the case, do not
necessarily consent to the procedure, let alone waive their right to
privacy.40 To impose mandatory drug testing on the accused is a blatant
attempt to harness a medical test as a tool for criminal prosecution, contrary
to the stated objectives of RA 9165. Drug testing in this case would violate a
persons' right to privacy guaranteed under Sec. 2, Art. III of the Constitution.
Worse still, the accused persons are veritably forced to incriminate
themselves.

WHEREFORE, the Court resolves to GRANT the petition in G.R. No. 161658
and declares Sec. 36(g) of RA 9165 and COMELEC Resolution No.
6486 as UNCONSTITUTIONAL; and to PARTIALLY GRANT the petition in
G.R. Nos. 157870 and 158633 by declaring Sec. 36(c) and (d) of RA 9165
CONSTITUTIONAL, but declaring its Sec. 36(f) UNCONSTITUTIONAL. All
concerned agencies are, accordingly, permanently enjoined from
implementing Sec. 36(f) and (g) of RA 9165. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING CONSUELO YNARES - SANTIAGO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ANTONIO T. CARPIO MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA - MARTINEZ


Associate Justice Associate Justice

RENATO C. CORONA CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ADOLFO S. AZCUNA DANTE O. TINGA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO - NAZARIO ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

RUBEN T. REYES TERESITA J. LEONARDO - DE CASTRO


Associate Justice Associate Justice
ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified


that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation
before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

Footnotes
1
Re-elected as senator in the 2004 elections.
2
Rollo (G.R. No. 158633), pp. 184-185.
3
Dumlao v. COMELEC, No. L-52245, January 22, 1980, 95 SCRA 392,
401.
4
Bernas, The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A
Commentary 939 (2003).
5
Gonzales v. Narvasa, G.R. No. 140835, August 14, 2000, 337 SCRA
733, 740.
6
Tatad v. Secretary of the Department of Energy, G.R. Nos. 124360 &
127867, November 5, 1997, 281 SCRA 330, 349; De Guia v.
COMELEC, G.R. No. 104712, May 6, 1992, 208 SCRA 420, 422.
7
Palmer v. Board of Education, 276 NY 222 11 NE 2d 887.
8
Cruz, Constitutional Law 4 (2000).
9
Mutuc v. Commission on Elections, No. L-32717, November 26, 1970,
36 SCRA 228, 234.
10
50 Phil. 259, 309 (1927).
11
J. Bernas, S.J., The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the
Philippines: A Commentary 604 (1996).
12
Id.
13
See concurring opinion in Go v. Commision on Elections, G.R. No.
147741, May 10, 2001, 357 SCRA 739, 753.
14
RA 9165, Sec. 2.
15
Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646 (1995), 661.
16
Ople v. Torres, G.R. No. 127685, July 23, 1998, 293 SCRA 141, 169;
citing Morfe v. Mutuc, No. L-20387, January 31, 1968, 22 SCRA 424,
444-445.
17
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 person or things
to be seized.
18
536 U.S. 822 (2002); cited in 2 Bernas, Constitutional Rights and
Social Demands 224-227 (2004).
19
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers,
and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,
supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to
be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
20
The Fourth Amendment is almost similar to Sec. 2, Art. III of the
Constitution, except that the latter limited the determination of probable
cause to a judge after an examination under oath of the complainant
and his witnesses. Hence, pronouncements of the US Federal Supreme
Court and State Appellate Court may be considered doctrinal in this
jurisdiction, unless they are manifestly contrary to our Constitution. See
Herrera, Handbook on Arrest, Search and Seizure 8 (2003).
21
Tolentino v. Alconcel, No. L-63400, March 18, 1983, 121 SCRA 92,
95-96.
22
Rollo (G.R. No. 158633), p. 204, respondents' Consolidated
Memorandum.
23
Rollo (G.R. No. 157870), p. 10.
24
Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property
without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal
protection of the laws.

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 person or things
to be seized.
25
Rollo (G.R. No. 158633), p. 9.
26
Ople, supra note 16, at 153; citing Cooley on Torts, Sec. 135, Vol. 1,
4th ed., [1932].
27
62 Am. Jur. 2d, Privacy, Sec. 1.
28
387 U.S. 523; cited in 2 Bernas, supra note 18, at 232.
29
62 Am. Jur. 2d, Privacy, Sec. 17.
30
Vernonia & Board of Education, supra notes 15 & 18.
31
Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives Assn., 489 U.S. 602, 619
(1989); cited in Vernonia, supra.
32
Supra note 16, at 166 & 169.
33
Under Sec. 7 [3] of the DOH IRR Governing Licensing and
Accreditation of Drug Laboratories, a laboratory is required to use
documented chain of custody procedures to maintain control and
custody of specimens.
34
DOH IRR Governing Licensing and Accreditation of Drug
Laboratories, Sec. 7 [10.3] provides that the original copy of the test
results form shall be given to the client/donor, copy furnished the DOH
and the requesting agency.
35
Id., Sec. 7 [10.4].
36
Secs. 47 and 48 of RA 9165 charge the Department of Labor and
Employment with the duty to develop and promote a national drug
prevention program and the necessary guidelines in the work place,
which shall include a mandatory drafting and adoption of policies to
achieve a drug-free workplace.
37
Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officers and
Employees, Sec. 2.
38
Constitution, Art. XI, Sec. 1.
39
Tatad, supra note 6, at 351.
40
Leona Pasion Viuda de Garcia v. Locsin, 65 Phil. 689, 695 (1938);
citing Cooley, Const. Lim. 630 (8th ed.).

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation


Unconstitutional
The Philippine Supreme Court has partially granted my petition in connection with the unconstitutionality
of certain parts of Section 36 of R.A. 9165 (Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002). My petition was docketed
as GR No. 158633 and entitled“Atty. Manuel J. Laserna Jr. vs. Dangerous Drugs Board, et. al.”

The Supreme Court agreed with me that the random, suspicionless and mandatory drug
tests required of elective candidates and of respondents facing criminal complaints before the
Prosecutors with an imposable penalty of more than 6 years is unconstitutional. However, it disagreed
with me insofar as students and workers are concerned.

The other petitioners were Sen. A. Pimentel and the Social Justice Society. Our petitions were
consolidated. The ponente was Assoc. Justice P. Velasco.

Philippine dailies reported the SC decision on Nov. 5, 2008. I have summarized below the salient parts of
my petition. I have also posted below the news items that carried the report.

Sec. 36 of R.A. No. 9165 imposes the requirement of mandatory, suspicionless and random drug
tests nationwide among all high school and college students, all public and private officers, workers and
employees, all local and national candidates for elective and appointive government positions, and all
respondents facing preliminary investigations of the criminal complaints filed against them with an
imposable penalty exceeding 6 years and 1 day.

My position was that the said provision was violative of the Filipino citizens’ constitutional right to privacy,
right against unreasonable search and seizure and self-incrimination, and right to due process of law and
equal protection of the laws.

The relevant portions of Sec. 36 of R.A. 9165 read:

(a) Students of secondary and tertiary schools. - Students of secondary and tertiary schools shall,
pursuant to the related rules and regulations as contained in the school’s student handbook and with
notice to parents, undergo a random drug testing; Provided, That all drug testing expenses whether in
public or private schools under this Section will be borne by the government;

(b) Officers and employees of public and private offices. - Officers and employees of public and private
offices, whether domestic or overseas, shall be subjected to undergo a random drug test as contained in
the company’s work rules and regulations, which shall be borne by the employer, for purposes of
reducing the risk in the workplace. Any officer or employee found positive for use of dangerous drugs
shall be dealt with administratively which shall be a ground for suspension or termination, subject to the
provisions of Article 282 of the Labor Code and pertinent provisions of the Civil Service Law;

(c) All persons charged before the prosecutor’s office with a criminal offense having an imposable penalty
of imprisonment of not less than six (6) years and one day shall have to undergo a mandatory drug test;
and
(d) All candidates for public office whether appointed or elected both in the national or local government
shall undergo a mandatory drug test.

In addition to the above stated penalties in this Section, those found to be positive for dangerous drugs
use shall be subject to the provisions of Section 15 of this Act.”

Section 15 of R.A. No. 9165 provides:

“SEC. 15. – Use of Dangerous Drugs. - A person apprehended or arrested, who is found to be positive for
use of any dangerous drug, after a confirmatory test, shall be imposed a penalty of a minimum of six (6)
months rehabilitation in a government center for the first offense, subject to the provisions of Article VIII of
this Act. If apprehended using any dangerous drug for the second time, he/she shall suffer the penalty of
imprisonment ranging from six (6) years and one (1) day to twelve (12) years and a fine ranging from Fifty
Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) to Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200,000.00); Provided, That this
Section shall not be applicable where the person tested is also found to have in his/her possession such
quantity of any dangerous drug provided under Section 11 of this Act, in which case the provisions therein
shall apply.”

Under Sec. 36 of R.A. No. 9165, the following constitutional infirmities are evident:

1. High school and college students (the great bulk of whom are minors) shall undergo MANDATORY
drug tests. It may be “random” (the adjective used in Sec. 36 [c]) but it is mandatory and compulsory. The
provision merely requires “notice” to the parents, but not their “consent”, making its mandatory nature
more evident. It appears that the implementing rules of Sec. 36 to be issued soon by the respondent DDB
must be compulsorily included in the school’s student handbook (requiring mandatory amendments to the
student handbook). Although Sec. 36 © is silent about it, it appears that a student found positive of use of
dangerous drugs may be administratively expelled by the school authorities. (Sec. 36 [c], R.A. No. 9165).
Aside from the said administrative sanction, there is the probability that they would be exposed to
potential criminal proceedings under the law (Sec. 15, R.A. No. 1965).

2. Public and private workers, employees, and officers, whether domestic or overseas, shall likewise
undergo MANDATORY drug tests. Again, it may be “random” (the adjective used in Sec. 36 [d]) but it is
mandatory and compulsory. It appears that the implementing rules of Sec. 36 to be issued soon by the
respondent DDB must be compulsorily included in the company’s work rules and regulations (requiring
mandatory amendments to the company’s work rules and regulations). Sec. 36 (d) expressly provides
that any officer or employee found positive for use of dangerous drugs may be administratively
suspended or terminated from work subject to the provisions of Art. 282 of the Labor Code and the
pertinent provisions of the Civil Service Law. (Sec. 36 [d], R.A. No. 9165). Aside from the said
administrative sanction, there is the probability that they would be exposed to potential criminal
proceedings under the law (Sec. 15, R.A. No. 1965).

3. All persons charged before the prosecutor’s office (that is, whose criminal cases are still undergoing
preliminary investigation) with a criminal offense having an imposable penalty of not less than 6 years and
1 day shall undergo MANDATORY drug tests. (Sec. 36 [f], R.A. No. 9165). A citizen facing a preliminary
investigation for a pending criminal complaint (whatever its nature or type might be) shall now be required
to undergo a mandatory drug test, regardless of whether or not his pending case is related to dangerous
drugs use and regardless of whether or not the result of such mandatory drug test is relevant or material
to the pending criminal complaint against him. (Sec. 36 [g], R.A. No. 9165). Aside from their pending
criminal complaints, there is the probability that they would be potentially exposed to additional criminal
proceedings under the law (Sec. 15, R.A. No. 1965).

4. All candidates for public office whether appointive or elective both in the national of local government
shall undergo a mandatory drug test. (Sec. 36, [g], R.A. No. 9165). The Constitution alone may provide
for the qualifications of national elective and appointive officials, the constitutional officials of the land, and
the members of the independent constitutional commissions, agencies and bodies. (As to the local
elective and appointive officials and employees, Congress may provide for their qualifications, e.g., the
Local Government Code, the Civil Service Law, the Revised Administrative Code, and other laws). R.A.
No. 9165 in effect adds a new mandatory qualification for national elective officials, like the President, the
Vice President, and the Senators, and other constitutional officials, such as the members of the Supreme
Court, the Ombudsman, the members of the Judicial and Bar Council, and the members of the
independent constitutional bodies, that is, they must all pass the mandatory drug tests under that law. It
will be noted that constitutional officials may only be removed from office by IMPEACHMENT, and not by
operation of R.A. No. 1965; and the specific procedures for their nomination and appointment are clearly
spelled out in the Constitution (which R.A. No. 9165 may not amend). Finally, the public and private
officials and employees would be exposed to other potential criminal cases arising from the mandatory
drug tests.

5. The high school and college students, the public and private officials and employees, the respondents
in criminal complaints undergoing preliminary investigations, and the local and national candidates
(elective or appointive positions) would all be exposed to unreasonable search and their right to privacy
violated by Sec. 36 of R.A. No. 9165.

Sec. 1 and Sec. 2, Art. III of the 1987 Constitution provide:

“Sec. 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any
person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”

“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, xxxx.”
(See also: Art. 32, Civil Code).

The right of privacy is both constitutional and statutory. (Sec. 3, Art. III, 1987 Constitution; Art. 26, Civil
Code). Any evidence obtained in violation of a citizen’s right to privacy and right against unreasonable
search and seizure shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding. (Sec. 3 [2], Art. III, id.).
The 1987 Constitution provides that no person may be compelled to be a witness against himself (Sec.
17, Art. III, 1987 Constitution). No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due
process of law. (Sec. 14, id.).

The provisions of Art. III of the 1987 Constitution have their roots in the Bill of Rights of the US
Constitution. The US Supreme Court and US Circuit Courts of Appeals have made various rulings on the
constitutionality of mandatory drug tests in the schools and the workplaces. The US courts have been
consistent in their rulings that mandatory drug tests violate a citizen’s constitutional right to privacy and
right against unreasonable search and seizure. I cited various US cases in support of my legal theory.

Philippine Dailies’ News Items


on the Supreme Court Decision
Dated November 5, 2008.

SC strikes out drug tests for candidates


By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:10:00 11/04/2008

MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court has struck down as unconstitutional provisions of the
Dangerous Drugs Act that require drug tests for candidates for public office—whether elective or
appointive, in local and national levels.

In an en banc decision on November 3, the Supreme Court also nullified the anti-drug legislation’s
provision for mandatory drug testing for persons charged before the prosecutor’s office with a crime
carrying a penalty of not less than six years.
The high tribunal has enjoined all concerned government agencies from implementing mandatory drug
tests on candidates for public office and on persons charged with a crime carrying a penalty of not less
than six years.

The court, however, upheld the mandatory drug test provisions for high school and college students and
for officers and employees of public and private offices, subject to the school or company rules and
regulations.

The decision, penned by Justice Presbiterio Velasco Jr., was made in connection with the petitions filed
by Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., the Social Justice Society, and lawyer Manuel Laserna Jr. against the
mandatory drug tests.

Pimentel, a senatorial candidate in the 2004 elections, sought in December 2003 to nullify the drug test
for candidates, saying it was unconstitutional because “they impose a qualification for senators in addition
to those already provided for in the 1987 Constitution.”

He also asked that the Commission on Elections be enjoined from implementing a resolution for the
mandatory testing for candidates for elective positions based on the Dangerous Drugs Act.

He said the Constitution only required that candidates meet the qualifications on citizenship, voter
registration, literacy, age and residency.
“Pimentel’s contention is well-taken. Accordingly, Section 36 (g) of RA 9165 should be, as it is hereby
declared, as unconstitutional,” the high court said in its decision.

“It is basic that if a law or an administrative rule violates any norm of the Constitution, that the issuance is
null and void and has no effect. The Constitution is the basic law to which all laws must conform,” it
added.

The high tribunal also found “no valid justification for mandatory drug testing for persons accused of
crimes.”

“The operative concepts in the mandatory drug testing are ‘randomness’ and ‘suspicionless.’ In the case
of persons charged with a crime before the prosecutor’s office, a mandatory drug testing can never be
random or suspicionless,” it said.

“The ideas of randomness and being suspicionless are antithetical to their being made defendants in a
criminal complaint,” it added.

Aside from questioning the constitutionality of the mandatory drug tests for candidates and individuals
charged with crimes, the SJS and lawyer Laserna also questioned the constitutionality of such tests on
students and employees.

The Supreme Court, however, found the mandatory tests on students and employees constitutional.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20081104-170250/SC-strikes-out-drug-tests-for-
candidates

PIA Press Release


2008/11/05

Drug testing for candidates unconstitutional, Supreme Court rules


Manila (5 November) -- Congress cannot enact laws which violates the provisions of the Constitution.

With this premise, the Supreme Court has ruled as unconstitutional sections of Republic Act 9165 or the
Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 which requires for drug testing of candidates both in the
national and local posts.

The Supreme Court, in an en banc decision on November 3, declared as unconstitutional Section 36 (f)
and Section 36 (g) of RA 9165.

The High Court also nullified the antidrug legislation's provision for mandatory drug testing for persons
charged with a crime carrying a penalty of not less than six years.

Section 36(g) requires all candidates for national and local positions to undergo a mandatory drug test
while Section 36(f) mandates all persons charged before the prosecutor's office with a criminal offense
having a penalty of imprisonment of not less than six years to undertake mandatory drug test.

However, the Supreme Court upheld the mandatory drug test provision for high school and college
students and for employees of both public and private offices, subject to the school or company rules and
regulations.

The decision penned by Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. was made in connection with the petitions filed by
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., the Social Justice Society, and the lawyer Manuel Laserna Jr., against the
mandatory drug tests.

Sen. Pimentel, in his petition, sought the nullification of Section 36(g) of RA 9165 and Commission on
Elections Resolution 6486 issued on Dec. 23, 2003 that prescribes the rules and regulations on the
mandatory drug testing of candidates.
The senator, who ran for re-election in the May 10, 2004 elections, argued that the provision and
Comelec resolution should be nullified since they impose another qualification for senatorial candidates in
addition to those already provided for in the 1987 Constitution.

Sen. Pimentel said under Article VI Section 3 of the Constitution, candidates should only meet the
qualifications of citizenship, voter registration, literacy, age, and residency.

In granting Pimentel's petition, the Supreme Court noted that Section 36(g) of RA 9165 and Comelec
Resolution 6486 add another qualification layer to what the 1987 Constitution requires. The Supreme
Court stressed that Congress cannot enact laws which violate the provisions of the Constitution. (PIA 8)
[top]

http://www.pia.gov.ph/?m=12&fi=p081105.htm&no=33

Drug tests for candidates illegal—high court


By Rey E. Requejo

THE Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the provision of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002
(Republic Act 9165) requiring mandatory drug testing for candidates for public office and those charged
with a crime punishable with more than six years imprisonment.

But the 23-page decision written by Associate Justice Resbiterio Velasco Jr. upheld the constitutionality
of random drug testing for secondary and tertiary level students as well as employees and officials of
public and private offices.

Voting unanimously, the high tribunal partially granted the consolidated petitions filed by Senator Aquilino
Pimentel Jr. against the Commission on Elections; the Social Justice Society against the Dangerous
Drugs Board and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency; and lawyer Manuel J. Laserna Jr. against the
Dangerous Drug Board and PDEA.

In particular, Pimentel had sought to nullify Section 36 (g) of RA 9165 and Comelec Resolution 6486
issued on Dec. 23, 2003 that prescribed rules and regulations for mandatory drug testing for candidates.

The senator said this imposed an additional qualification apart from those already provided for in Section
3, Artivcle VI of the 1987 Constitution.

He said the Constitution explicitly states that candidates need only meet the qualifications such as
citizenship, voter registration, literacy, age and residency.
SJS and Laserna, for their part, sought to restrain the DDB and PDEA from enforcing four provisions of
Sections 36 as these were constitutionally infirm.

They claimed that these provisions provided undue delegation of legislative power when they give
schools and employers sole discretion to determine the manner of drug testing.

They pointed out that the random drug testing can be used to harass a student or an employee, and
violates a person’s constitutional right against unreasonable searches.

In granting Pimentel’s petition, the high tribunal said they agreed to the lawmaker’s argument this added
another qualification layer and Congress cannot enact law which violates the provisions of the
Constitution.

http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=politics2_nov5_2008

SC upholds drug tests for students but not for poll bets

By REY G. PANALIGAN

In a precedent-setting decision, the Supreme Court (SC) has declared constitutional the provisions in the
Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 that require high school and college students, and officers
and employees in public and private offices to undergo a mandatory, random, and suspicionless drug
test.

But the SC, in a unanimous full court decision written by Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., struck down as
unconstitutional the provisions that require drug tests for candidates for public office in the national or
local governments and those charged before the prosecutor’s office with a criminal offense.

With the ruling, the SC granted the petition filed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. against the Comelec
pertaining to Section 36(g) and partially granted the petitions filed by Social Justice Society and lawyer
Manuel J. Laserna Jr. against the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement
Agency (PDEA) in connection with Section 36 (c, d, and f).

The Comelec, and the DDB and PDEA are barred from implementing Section 36 (g) and Section 36(f) of
RA 9165, respectively.

Citing American jurisprudence, the SC said that "the court is of the view and so holds that the provisions
of Republic Act No. 9165 (the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) requiring mandatory,
random, and suspicionless drug testing of students are constitutional."

"Indeed, it is within the prerogative of educational institutions to require, as a condition for admission,
compliance with reasonable school rules and regulations and policies. To be sure, the right to enroll is not
absolute; it is subject to fair, reasonable, and equitable requirements," it said.

The SC took note of the proliferation of prohibited drugs in the country "that threatens the well-being of
the people, particularly the youth and school children who usually end up as victims."

"Accordingly, and until a more effective method is conceptualized and put in motion, a random drug
testing of students in secondary and tertiary schools is not only acceptable but may even be necessary if
the safety and interest of the student population, doubtless a legitimate concern of the government, are to
be promoted and protected," it said.

"Needless to stress, the random testing scheme provided under the law argues against the idea that the
testing aims to incriminate unsuspecting individual students," it added.

"Just as in the case of secondary and tertiary level students, the mandatory but random drug test
prescribed by Section 36 of RA 9165 for officers and employees of public and private offices is justifiable,"
the SC said.

"Section 36 of RA 9165 and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR), as couched, contain provisions
specifically directed towards preventing a situation that would unduly embarrass the employees or place
them under a humiliating experience."

It pointed out that "the random drug testing shall be undertaken under conditions calculated to protect as
much as possible the employee’s privacy and dignity."

"In addition, the IRR issued by the Department of Health provides that access to the drug results shall be
on the ‘need to know’ basis; that the drug test results and records shall be kept confidential subject to the
usual accepted practices to protect the confidentiality… and notably, RA9165 does not oblige the
employer concerned to report to the prosecuting agencies any information or evidence relating to the
violation of the law received as a result of the operation of the drug testing."

Thus, it said "the intrusion into the employee’s privacy, under RA 9165, is accompanied by proper
safeguards, particularly against embarrassing leakages of test results, and is relatively minimal."

But in the case of mandatory drug test for candidates for national and local elections, the SC said, "it is
basic that if a law or an administrative rule violates any norm of the Constitution, that issuance is null and
void and has no effect."
It said that Section 36(g) of RA 9165 imposes qualifications on candidates in addition to what the
Constitution prescribes.

"If Congress cannot require a candidate for senator (or any other elective public office) to meet such
additional qualification, the Commission on Elections (Comelec), to be sure, is also without such power,"
the SC said.

"It ought to be made abundantly clear, however, that the unconstitutionality of Section 36(g) of RA9165 is
rooted on its having infringed the constitutional provision defining the qualification or eligibility
requirements for one aspiring to run for and serve as senator" (or an elective official), the SC said.

In the case of persons charged before the prosecutor’s office with a criminal offense, the SC said, "a
mandatory drug testing can never be random or suspicionless."

"When persons suspected of committing a crime are charged, they are singled out and are impleaded
against their will," it said.

"To impose mandatory drug testing on the accused is a blatant attempt to harness a medical test as a tool
for criminal prosecution, contrary to the objectives of RA 9165. Drug testing in this case would violate a
person’s right to private guaranteed under Section 2, Article III of the Constitution. Worse still, the
accused persons are veritably forced to incriminate themselves," it added.

http://www.mb.com.ph/MAIN20081105139982.html

November 05, 2008 07:01 PM Wednesday

Poll bets no longer required to undergo drug test By: Hector Lawas

The Supreme Court struck down for being unconstitutional a provision of the Comprehensive Dangerous
Drugs Act of 2002 requiring national and local candidates to undergo mandatory drug testing.

Section 36 (g) requires all candidates for national and local posts to be tested for drugs while Section (f)
mandates all persons charged before the prosecutor’s office with a criminal offense having an imposable
penalty of imprisonment of not less than six years to undergo mandatory drug test.

In its 25-page en banc decision penned by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, Jr., the High Court
partially granted the consolidated petitions filed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. against the Commission on
Elections, the Social Justice Society versus the Dangerous Drugs Board and Philippine Drug
Enforcement Agency and lawyer Manuel J. Laserna, Jr., versus the Dangerous Drug Board and
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Pimentel, who ran for re-election in 2004, argued that the provision should be nullified since the
Constitution already set qualifications for candidates.

The Supreme Court said Congress cannot enact a law which violates the provisions of the Constitution.

“It is basic that if a law or an administrative rule violates any norm of the Constitution, that issuance is null
and void and has no effect. The Constitution is the basic law to which all laws must conform; no act shall
be valid it if conflicts with the Constitution,” it added.

The Court said if Congress has no power to impose additional qualifications for election candidates, the
same can also be said for Comelec.

“The right of a citizen in the democratic process of election should not be defeated by unwarranted
impositions of requirement not otherwise specified in the Constitution,” the tribunal added.

http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php?issue=2008-11-05&sec=4&aid=77570

Drug tests for poll bets unconstitutional

Written by Joel R. San Juan / Reporter


Tuesday, 04 November 2008 23:26

MANDATORY drug tests for high- school and university students have been upheld as constitutional by
the Supreme Court (SC), with the en banc voting unanimously for the legitimacy of Republic Act (RA)
9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The provision on students is in Section 36 (c) of RA 9165. The Court also upheld the legality of Section
36 (d) that requires officers and employees of public and private offices, whether domestic or overseas
but operating in the country, to undergo random drug testing.

The Court struck down, however, as unconstitutional Sections 36 (f) and (g) of the law. Section (f)
mandates all persons charged at the prosecutor’s office with a criminal offense with a penalty of at least
six years to undergo mandatory drug testing; while Section (g) requires drug tests for all candidates for
national and local offices.

The en banc decision, written by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr., was in response to the
consolidated petitions filed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. against the Commission on Elections (Comelec),
the Social Justice Society (SJS) versus the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and the Philippine Drug
Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and lawyer Manuel Laserna Jr. versus the Dangerous Drug Board and
PDEA.

Pimentel had focused on Section 36 (g) on and Comelec Resolution 6486 issued on December 23, 2003,
prescribing the rules and regulations on the mandatory drug testing of candidates.

He urged the Court to nullify that provision and the Comelec resolution, arguing they impose an additional
qualification for candidates, at least for senators, in addition to those listed in the Constitution—
citizenship, voter registration, literacy, age and residency.

On the other hand, SJS and Laserna asked the Court to prohibit the DDB and PDEA from enforcing
Sections 36 (c), (d), (f) and (g) for being constitutionally infirm, arguing they constitute undue delegation
of legislative power when they give schools and employers sole discretion to determine the manner of
drug testing. They said these can be used to harass students or employees and violate a person’s
constitutional right against unreasonable searches.

On Pimentel’s petition, the Court agreed that Congress cannot enact a law that violates the Constitution.
“The Constitution is the basic law to which all laws must conform; no act shall be valid it if conflicts with
the Constitution.”

The Court said logically the same can also be said for the Comelec. “The right of a citizen in the
democratic process of election should not be defeated by unwarranted impositions of requirement not
otherwise specified in the Constitution.”

The Court said, however, that the sections on student testing are justifiable, considering the proliferation
of illegal drugs where the youth and school- children usually end up as victims; and noted the provisions
do not intend to criminally prosecute those found positive for illegal drugs, but to give them a chance to
undergo rehabilitation.

The SC further said that employees’ privacy and dignity will not be compromised because based on the
implementing rules and regulations of the health department, the drug- test result and the records will be
kept confidential and access to the result will be on the “need to know basis.”

http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&catid=26:nation&id=150
3:drug-tests-for-poll-bets-unconstitutional

SC rules drug test for candidates unconstitutional


By Mike Frialde Updated November 05, 2008 12:00 AM

The Supreme Court has ruled as unconstitutional sections of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which requires drug testing for candidates for national and local elective
posts and those facing criminal charges punishable by more than six years imprisonment.

In its 25-page decision penned by Justice Presbitero Velasco, the SC struck down as unconstitutional
Section 36(f) and Section 36(g) of RA 9165.

Section 36(g) requires all candidates for national and local positions to undergo a mandatory drug test
while Section 36(f) mandates all persons charged before the prosecutor’s office with a criminal offense
having a penalty of imprisonment of not less than six years to undertake mandatory drug test.
In its decision, the Court partially granted the consolidated petitions filed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr.,
the Social Justice Society (SJS) and lawyer Manuel Laserna Jr.

Pimentel, in his petition, sought the nullification of Section 36(g) of RA 9165 and Commission on
Elections Resolution 6486 issued on Dec. 23, 2003 that prescribes the rules and regulations on the
mandatory drug testing of candidates.

The senator, who ran for re-election in the May 10, 2004 elections, argued that the provision and
Comelec resolution should be nullified since they impose another qualification for senatorial candidates in
addition to those already provided for in the 1987 Constitution.

Pimentel said under Article VI Section 3 of the Constitution, candidates should only meet the
qualifications of citizenship, voter registration, literacy, age, and residency.

In granting Pimentel’s petition, the SC noted that Section 36(g) of RA 9165 and Comelec Resolution 6486
add another qualification layer to what the 1987 Constitution requires.

The SC has stressed that Congress cannot enact laws which violate the provisions of the Constitution.

“It is basic that if a law or an administrative rule violates any norm of the Constitution, that issuance is null
and void and has no effect. The Constitution is the basic law to which all laws must conform; no act shall
be valid if it conflicts with the Constitution,” the SC said.

The Court added that if Congress has no power to impose additional qualifications for election
candidates, the same could also be said for Comelec.

“The right of a citizen in the democratic process of election should not be defeated by unwarranted
impositions of requirement not otherwise specified in the Constitution,” the Court said.

The Court, however, affirmed the constitutionality of Section 36(c) of RA 9165, which requires students of
secondary and tertiary schools to undergo random drug testing.

The Court also upheld the legality of Section 36 (d) of the same law which requires officers and
employees of public and private offices, whether domestic or overseas, to undergo a random drug test.

In their petitions, the SJS and Laserna asked the Court to prohibit the Dangerous Drugs Board and
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) from enforcing Sections 36 (c), (d), (f) and (g) of RA 9165
for being constitutionally infirm.

They stressed that these provisions constitute undue delegation of legislative power when they give
schools and employers sole discretion to determine the manner of drug testing.

The petitioners added that the random drug test can be used to harass a student or an employee and
violates a person’s constitutional right against unreasonable searches.

Likewise, the petitioners claimed that the provisions infringed on the constitutional right to privacy, the
right against self-incrimination, and are contrary to due process and equal protection guarantees.
According to the Court, Sections 36 (c) and (f) of RA 9165 are justifiable considering the proliferation of
illegal drugs where the youth and school children usually end up as victims.

The SC noted that the provision does not intend to criminally prosecute those found positive for illegal
drugs but to give them a chance to undergo rehabilitation.

“The Court is of the view and so holds that the provisions of RA 9165 requiring mandatory and random
drug testing of students are constitutional. Indeed, it is within the prerogative of educational institutions to
require, as a condition for admission, compliance with reasonable school rules and regulations and
policies. To be sure, the right to enroll is not absolute; it is subject to fair, reasonable and equitable
requirements,” the SC said.

The Court also said that the privacy and dignity of the employees would not be compromised during the
drug test, as trained professionals in access-controlled laboratories monitored by the Department of
Health to prevent tampering will handle this.

Based on the implementing rules and regulations of the DOH, the drug test result and the records shall be
kept confidential and access to the result shall be on the “need to know basis.”

http://beta2.philstar.com/Article.aspx?ArticleId=412785&publicationSubCategoryId=63

Mandatory drug test for political candidates ‘unconstitutional’ - SC


11/04/2008 | 07:05 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court on Tuesday declared as unconstitutional a provision in the
Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 requiring mandatory drug testing to all candidates for
public office and people facing criminal charges.

In a 23-page en banc decision, the SC likewise declared as unconstitutional Commission on Elections


(Comelec) Resolution No. 6489, which implemented the drug testing among candidates

The SC said paragraph (g) of Section 36 of Republic Act 9165 violates the 1987 Constitution because it
adds another qualification for senators as enumerated in Section 3, Article VI of the charter.

Section 36 of Republic Act 9165 states that, “No person shall be a senator unless he is a natural born
citizen of the Philippines, and on the day of the election, is at least 35-years of age, able to read and
write, a registered voter, and a resident of the Philippines for not less than two years immediately
preceding the day of the election.”

In its decision, the high court said a citizen’s right to elect a public official “should not be defeated by
unwarranted impositions of requirement not otherwise specified in the Constitution.”
“Whether or not the drug-free bar set up under the challenged provision is to be hurdled before or after
election is really of no moment, as getting elected would be of little value if one cannot assume office for
non-compliance with the drug-testing requirement,” the SC said.

The case stemmed from the three petitions separately filed by the Social Justice Society (SJS), private
lawyer Manuel Laserna, and Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr against the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), the
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and the Comelec.

The petitioners claimed that Sec. 36 of RA 9165 on authorized and mandatory drug testing for students,
employees, candidates and those charged for crimes, is unconstitutional as it imposed a qualification for
candidates in addition to those already provided for in the 1987 Constitution.

The assailed provision likewise stated that aside from penalties imposed for violation of this law, those
found to be positive for dangerous drugs use shall be subject to the provisions of Section 15 of RA 9165.

The SC agreed with Pimentel’s arguments that the Constitution only prescribes this maximum of five
qualifications for one to be a candidate for the Senate. It added that there is no provision in the
constitution authorizing the Congress or Comelec to expand the qualification requirements of candidates
for senator.

“The Congress cannot validly amend or otherwise modify these qualification standards, as it cannot
disregard, evade or weaken the force of a constitutional mandate, or alter or enlarge the Constitution,” the
SC said.

The same decision however affirmed the validity of a provision mandating random and “suspicionless”
drug tests for students in secondary and tertiary schools, as well as employees of public and private
offices.

According to the Court, random drug testing for in high school and college and for employees, is “a kind
of search in which a reasonable parent might need to engage” and that “minor students have contextually
fewer rights than an adult, and are subject to the custody and supervision of their parents, guardians and
schools.”

The court added that schools have a duty to safeguard the health and well-being of their students and
may adopt such measures as may reasonably be necessary to discharge such duty. - GMANews.TV

http://www.gmanews.tv/story/131313/Mandatory-drug-test-for-political-candidates-
%E2%80%98unconstitutional%E2%80%99---SC
SC: Drug test for political bets unconstitutional

THE SUPREME COURT (SC) has struck down a drug test requirement for those seeking public office
and those accused of crimes.

But it upheld the "random" and "suspicionless" drug testing on minor students and public and private
employees.

In a 23-page decision, Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., clarified section 36 of Republic Act
9165, or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The provision required drug testing for students of secondary and tertiary schools, officers and employees
of public and private offices, persons charged before the prosecutor’s office and candidates for public
office.

Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., who ran in the May 2004 elections, said drug testing for political
candidates was unconstitutional. The high court agreed.
Social Justice Society and lawyer Manuel J. Laserna questioned the drug testing for those accused of
crimes, and for students and workers. This was an infringement on privacy, he added.

The high court however noted "in the case of persons charged with a crime before the prosecutor’s office,
a mandatory drug testing can never be random or suspicionless. The ideas of randomness and being
suspicionless are antithetical to their being made defendants in a criminal complaint."

This does not hold true for students and employees, it said, adding students are most vulnerable to the
effects of drug use.

"The need for drug testing to at least minimize illegal drug use is substantial enough to override the
individual’s privacy interest..." the court said. — IPP
http://www.bworldonline.com/BW110508/content.php?id=076
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 160689 March 26, 2014

RAUL H. SESBREÑO, Petitioner,


vs.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, JUAN I. COROMINA (SUBSTITUTED BY ANITA
COROMINA, ELIZABETH COROMINA and ROSIEMARIE COROMINA), VICENTE E. GARCIA
(SUBSTITUTED BY EDGAR JOHN GARCIA), FELIPE CONSTANTINO, RONALD ARCILLA,
NORBETO ABELLANA, DEMETRIO BALICHA, ANGELITA LHUILLIER, JOSE E. GARCIA, AND
VISA YAN ELECTRIC COMPANY (VECO), Respondents.

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

This case concerns the claim for damages of petitioner Raul H. Sesbreño founded on abuse of
rights. Sesbreño accused the violation of contract (VOC) inspection team dispatched by the Visayan
Electric Company (VECO) to check his electric meter with conducting an unreasonable search in his
residential premises. But the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 13, in Cebu City rendered
judgment on August 19, 1994 dismissing the claim;1 and the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the
dismissal on March 10, 2003.2

Hence, this appeal by Sesbreño.

Antecedents

At the time material to the petition, VECO was a public utility corporation organized and existing
under the laws of the Philippines. VECO engaged in the sale and distribution of electricity within
Metropolitan Cebu. Sesbreño was one of VECO’s customers under the metered service contract
they had entered into on March 2, 1982.3 Respondent Vicente E. Garcia was VECO’s President,
General Manager and Chairman of its Board of Directors. Respondent Jose E. Garcia was VECO’s
Vice-President, Treasurer and a Member of its Board of Directors. Respondent Angelita Lhuillier was
another Member of VECO’s Board of Directors. Respondent Juan Coromina was VECO’s Assistant
Treasurer, while respondent Norberto Abellana was the Head of VECO’s Billing Section whose main
function was to compute back billings of customers found to have violated their contracts.

To ensure that its electric meters were properly functioning, and that none of it meters had been
tampered with, VECO employed respondents Engr. Felipe Constantino and Ronald Arcilla as
violation of contract (VOC) inspectors.4 Respondent Sgt. Demetrio Balicha, who belonged to the
341st Constabulary Company, Cebu Metropolitan Command, Camp Sotero Cabahug, Cebu City,
accompanied and escorted the VOC inspectors during their inspection of the households of its
customers on May 11, 1989 pursuant to a mission order issued to him.5

The CA summarized the antecedent facts as follows:


x x x. Reduced to its essentials, however, the facts of this case are actually simple enough, although
the voluminous records might indicate otherwise. It all has to do with an incident that occurred at
around 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon of May 11, 1989. On that day, the Violation of Contracts (VOC)
Team of defendants-appellees Constantino and Arcilla and their PC escort, Balicha, conducted a
routine inspection of the houses at La Paloma Village, Labangon, Cebu City, including that of
plaintiff-appellant Sesbreño, for illegal connections, meter tampering, seals, conduit pipes, jumpers,
wiring connections, and meter installations. After Bebe Baledio, plaintiff-appellant Sesbreño’s maid,
unlocked the gate, they inspected the electric meter and found that it had been turned upside down.
Defendant-appellant Arcilla took photographs of the upturned electric meter. With Chuchie Garcia,
Peter Sesbreño and one of the maids present, they removed said meter and replaced it with a new
one. At that time, plaintiff-appellant Sesbreño was in his office and no one called to inform him of the
inspection. The VOC Team then asked for and received Chuchie Garcia’s permission to enter the
house itself to examine the kind and number of appliances and light fixtures in the household and
determine its electrical load. Afterwards, Chuchie Garcia signed the Inspection Division Report,
which showed the condition of the electric meter on May 11, 1989 when the VOC Team inspected it,
with notice that it would be subjected to a laboratory test. She also signed a Load Survey Sheet that
showed the electrical load of plaintiff-appellant Sesbreño.

But according to plaintiff-appellant Sesbreño there was nothing routine or proper at all with what the
VOC Team did on May 11, 1989 in his house. Their entry to his house and the surrounding premises
was effected without his permission and over the objections of his maids. They threatened, forced or
coerced their way into his house. They unscrewed the electric meter, turned it upside down and took
photographs thereof. They then replaced it with a new electric meter. They searched the house and
its rooms without his permission or a search warrant. They forced a visitor to sign two documents,
making her appear to be his representative or agent. Afterwards, he found that some of his personal
effects were missing, apparently stolen by the VOC Team when they searched the house.6

Judgment of the RTC

On August 19, 1994, the RTC rendered judgment dismissing the complaint.7 It did not accord
credence to the testimonies of Sesbreño’s witnesses, Bebe Baledio, his housemaid, and Roberto
Lopez, a part-time salesman, due to inconsistencies on material points in their respective
testimonies. It observed that Baledio could not make up her mind as to whether Sesbreño’s children
were in the house when the VOC inspection team detached and replaced the electric meter.
Likewise, it considered unbelievable that Lopez should hear the exchanges between Constantino,
Arcilla and Balicha, on one hand, and Baledio, on the other, considering that Lopez could not even
hear the conversation between two persons six feet away from where he was seated during the
simulation done in court, the same distance he supposedly had from the gate of Sesbreño’s house
during the incident. It pointed out that Lopez’s presence at the gate during the incident was even
contradicted by his own testimony indicating that an elderly woman had opened the gate for the
VECO personnel, because it was Baledio, a lady in her 20s, who had repeatedly stated on her direct
and cross examinations that she had let the VECO personnel in. It concluded that for Lopez to do
nothing at all upon seeing a person being threatened by another in the manner he described was
simply contrary to human experience.

In contrast, the RTC believed the evidence of the respondents showing that the VOC inspection
team had found the electric meter in Sesbreño’s residence turned upside down to prevent the
accurate registering of the electricity consumption of the household, causing them to detach and
replace the meter. It held as unbelievable that the team forcibly entered the house through threats
and intimidation; that they themselves turned the electric meter upside down in order to incriminate
him for theft of electricity, because the fact that the team and Sesbreño had not known each other
before then rendered it unlikely for the team to fabricate charges against him; and that Sesbreño’s
non-presentation of Chuchie Garcia left her allegation of her being forced to sign the two documents
by the team unsubstantiated.

Decision of the CA

Sesbreño appealed, but the CA affirmed the RTC on March 10, 2003,8 holding thusly:

x x x. plaintiff-appellant Sesbreño’s account is simply too implausible or far-fetched to be believed.


For one thing, the inspection on his household was just one of many others that the VOC Team had
conducted in that subdivision. Yet, none but plaintiff-appellant Sesbreño complained of the alleged
acts of the VOC Team. Considering that there is no proof that they also perpetrated the same illegal
acts on other customers in the guise of conducting a Violation of Contracts inspection, plaintiff-
appellant Sesbreño likewise failed to show why he alone was singled out. It is also difficult to believe
that the VOC Team would be brazen enough to want to antagonize a person such as plaintiff-
appellant Sesbreño. There is no evidence that the VOC Team harbored any evil motive or grudge
against plaintiff-appellant Sesbreño, who is a total stranger to them. Until he came along, they did
not have any prior criminal records to speak of, or at least, no evidence thereof was presented. It is
equally difficult to believe that their superiors would authorize or condone their alleged illegal acts.
Especially so since there is no indication that prior to the incident on May 11, 1989, there was
already bad blood or animosity between plaintiff-appellant Sesbreño and defendant appellees to
warrant such a malevolent response. In fact, since availing of defendant-appellee VECO’s power
services, the relationship between them appears to have been uneventful.

It becomes all the more apparent that the charges stemming from the May 11, 1989 incident were
fabricated when taken together with the lower court’s evaluation of the alleged theft of plaintiff-
appellant Sesbreño’s personal effects. It stated that on August 8, 1989, plaintiff-appellant Sesbreño
wrote the barangay captain of Punta Princesa and accused Chuchie Garcia and Victoria Villarta
alias Victoria Rocamora of theft of some of his things that earlier he claimed had been stolen by
members of the VOC Team. When he was confronted with these facts, plaintiff-appellant Sesbreño
further claimed that the items allegedly stolen by Chuchie Garcia were part of the loot taken by
defendants-appellees Constantino and Arcilla. Yet not once did plaintiff-appellant Sesbreño or any of
his witnesses mention that a conspiracy existed between these people. Clearly, much like his other
allegations, it is nothing more than an afterthought by plaintiff-appellant Sesbreño.

All in all, the allegations against defendants-appellees appear to be nothing more than a put-on to
save face. For the simple truth is that the inspection exposed plaintiff-appellant Sesbreño as a likely
cheat and thief.

xxxx

Neither is this Court swayed by the testimonies of Baledio and Lopez. The lower court rightly
1âw phi 1

described their testimonies as fraught by discrepancies and inconsistencies on material points and
even called Lopez a perjured witness. On the other hand, it is odd that plaintiff-appellant Sesbreño
chose not to present the witness whose testimony was very crucial. But even though Chuchie Garcia
never testified, her absence speaks volumes. Whereas plaintiff-appellant Sesbreño claimed that the
VOC Team forced her to sign two documents that made her appear to be his authorized agent or
representative, the latter claimed otherwise and that she also gave them permission to enter and
search the house. The person most qualified to refute the VOC Team’s claim is Chuchie Garcia
herself. It is axiomatic that he who asserts a fact or claim must prove it. He cannot transfer that
burden to the person against whom he asserts such fact or claim. When certain evidence is
suppressed, the presumption is that it will adversely affect the cause of the party suppressing it,
should it come to light. x x x9
Upon denial of his motion for reconsideration,10 Sesbreño appealed.

Issue

Was Sesbreño entitled to recover damages for abuse of rights?

Ruling

The appeal has no merit.

Sesbreño’s main contention is that the inspection of his residence by the VOC team was an
unreasonable search for being carried out without a warrant and for being allegedly done with malice
or bad faith.

Before dealing with the contention, we have to note that two distinct portions of Sesbreño’s
residence were inspected by the VOS team – the garage where the electric meter was installed, and
the main premises where the four bedrooms, living rooms, dining room and kitchen were located.

Anent the inspection of the garage where the meter was installed, the respondents assert that the
VOC team had the continuing authority from Sesbreño as the consumer to enter his premises at all
reasonable hours to conduct an inspection of the meter without being liable for trespass to dwelling.
The authority emanated from paragraph 9 of the metered service contract entered into between
VECO and each of its consumers, which provided as follows:

9. The CONSUMER agrees to allow properly authorized employees or representatives of the


COMPANY to enter his premises at all reasonable hours without being liable to trespass to dwelling
for the purpose of inspecting, installing, reading, removing, testing, replacing or otherwise disposing
of its property, and/or removing the COMPANY’S property in the event of the termination of the
contract for any cause.11

Sesbreño contends, however, that paragraph 9 did not give Constantino, Arcilla and Balicha the
blanket authority to enter at will because the only property VECO owned in his premises was the
meter; hence, Constantino and Arcilla should enter only the garage. He denies that they had the
right to enter the main portion of the house and inspect the various rooms and the appliances therein
because those were not the properties of VECO. He posits that Balicha, who was not an employee
of VECO, had no authority whatsoever to enter his house and conduct a search. He concludes that
their search was unreasonable, and entitled him to damages in light of their admission that they had
entered and inspected his premises without a search warrant.12

We do not accept Sesbreño’s conclusion. Paragraph 9 clothed the entire VOC team with
1avv phi1

unquestioned authority to enter the garage to inspect the meter. The members of the team obviously
met the conditions imposed by paragraph 9 for an authorized entry. Firstly, their entry had the
objective of conducting the routine inspection of the meter.13Secondly, the entry and inspection were
confined to the garage where the meter was installed.14 Thirdly, the entry was effected at around 4
o’clock p.m., a reasonable hour.15 And, fourthly, the persons who inspected the meter were duly
authorized for the purpose by VECO.

Although Balicha was not himself an employee of VECO,16 his participation was to render police
assistance to ensure the personal security of Constantino and Arcilla during the inspection,
rendering him a necessary part of the team as an authorized representative. Under the
circumstances, he was authorized to enter considering that paragraph 9 expressly extended such
authority to "properly authorized employees or representatives" of VECO.

It is true, as Sesbreño urges, that paragraph 9 did not cover the entry into the main premises of the
residence. Did this necessarily mean that any entry by the VOS team into the main premises
required a search warrant to be first secured?

Sesbreño insists so, citing Section 2, Article III of the 1987 Constitution, the clause guaranteeing the
right of every individual against unreasonable searches and seizures, viz:

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.

He states that a violation of this constitutional guaranty rendered VECO and its VOS team liable to
him for damages by virtue of Article 32 (9) of the Civil Code, which pertinently provides:

Article 32. Any public officer or employee, or any private individual, who directly or indirectly
obstructs, defeats, violates or in any manner impedes or impairs any of the following rights and
liberties of another person shall be liable to the latter for damages:

xxxx

(9) The right to be secured in one’s person, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable
searches and seizures;

x x x x.

Sesbreño’s insistence has no legal and factual basis.

The constitutional guaranty against unlawful searches and seizures is intended as a restraint against
the Government and its agents tasked with law enforcement. It is to be invoked only to ensure
freedom from arbitrary and unreasonable exercise of State power. The Court has made this clear in
its pronouncements, including that made in People v. Marti,17 viz:

If the search is made upon the request of law enforcers, a warrant must generally be first secured if
it is to pass the test of constitutionality. However, if the search is made at the behest or initiative of
the proprietor of a private establishment for its own and private purposes, as in the case at bar, and
without the intervention of police authorities, the right against unreasonable search and seizure
cannot be invoked for only the act of private individual, not the law enforcers, is involved. In sum, the
protection against unreasonable searches and seizures cannot be extended to acts committed by
private individuals so as to bring it within the ambit of alleged unlawful intrusion by the government.18

It is worth noting that the VOC inspectors decided to enter the main premises only after finding the
meter of Sesbreño turned upside down, hanging and its disc not rotating. Their doing so would
enable them to determine the unbilled electricity consumed by his household. The circumstances
justified their decision, and their inspection of the main premises was a continuation of the
authorized entry. There was no question then that their ability to determine the unbilled electricity
called for them to see for themselves the usage of electricity inside. Not being agents of the State,
they did not have to first obtain a search warrant to do so.

Balicha’s presence participation in the entry did not make the inspection a search by an agent of the
State within the ambit of the guaranty. As already mentioned, Balicha was part of the team by virtue
of his mission order authorizing him to assist and escort the team during its routine
inspection.19 Consequently, the entry into the main premises of the house by the VOC team did not
constitute a violation of the guaranty.

Our holding could be different had Sesbreño persuasively demonstrated the intervention of malice or
bad faith on the part of Constantino and Arcilla during their inspection of the main premises, or any
excessiveness committed by them in the course of the inspection. But Sesbreño did not. On the
other hand, the CA correctly observed that the inspection did not zero in on Sesbreño’s residence
because the other houses within the area were similarly subjected to the routine inspection.20 This,
we think, eliminated any notion of malice or bad faith.

Clearly, Sesbreño did not establish his claim for damages if the respondents were not guilty of abuse
of rights. To stress, the concept of abuse of rights prescribes that a person should not use his right
unjustly or in bad faith; otherwise, he may be liable to another who suffers injury. The rationale for
the concept is to present some basic principles to be followed for the rightful relationship between
human beings and the stability of social order.21Moreover, according to a commentator,22 "the
exercise of right ends when the right disappears, and it disappears when it is abused, especially to
the prejudice of others[;] [i]t cannot be said that a person exercises a right when he unnecessarily
prejudices another." Article 19 of the Civil Code23 sets the standards to be observed in the exercise
of one’s rights and in the performance of one’s duties, namely: (a) to act with justice; (b) to give
everyone his due; and (c) to observe honesty and good faith. The law thereby recognizes the
primordial limitation on all rights – that in the exercise of the rights, the standards under Article 19
must be observed.24

Although the act is not illegal, liability for damages may arise should there be an abuse of rights, like
when the act is performed without prudence or in bad faith. In order that liability may attach under
the concept of abuse of rights, the following elements must be present, to wit: (a) the existence of a
legal right or duty, (b) which is exercised in bad faith, and (c) for the sole intent of prejudicing or
injuring another.25 There is no hard and fast rule that can be applied to ascertain whether or not the
principle of abuse of rights is to be invoked. The resolution of the issue depends on the
circumstances of each case.

Sesbreño asserts that he did not authorize Baledio or Chuchie Garcia to let anyone enter his
residence in his absence; and that Baledio herself confirmed that the members of the VOC team had
intimidated her into letting them in.

The assertion of Sesbreño is improper for consideration in this appeal. The RTC and the CA
1âwphi1

unanimously found the testimonies of Sesbreño’s witnesses implausible because of inconsistencies


on material points; and even declared that the non-presentation of Garcia as a witness was odd if
not suspect. Considering that such findings related to the credibility of the witnesses and their
testimonies, the Court cannot review and undo them now because it is not a trier of facts, and is not
also tasked to analyze or weigh evidence all over again.26 Verily, a review that may tend to supplant
the findings of the trial court that had the first-hand opportunity to observe the demeanor of the
witnesses themselves should be undertaken by the Court with prudent hesitation. Only when
Sesbreño could make a clear showing of abuse in their appreciation of the evidence and records by
the trial and the appellate courts should the Court do the unusual review of the factual findings of the
trial and appellate courts.27 Alas, that showing was not made here.
Nor should the Court hold that Sesbreño was denied due process by the refusal of the trial judge to
inhibit from the case. Although the trial judge had issued an order for his voluntary inhibition, he still
rendered the judgment in the end in compliance with the instruction of the Executive Judge, whose
exercise of her administrative authority on the matter of the inhibition should be respected.28 In this
connection, we find to be apt the following observation of the CA, to wit:

x x x. Both Judge Paredes and Judge Priscila Agana serve the Regional Trial Court and are
therefore of co-equal rank. The latter has no authority to reverse or modify the orders of Judge
Paredes. But in ordering Judge Paredes to continue hearing the case, Judge Agana did not violate
their co-equal status or unilaterally increased her jurisdiction. It is merely part of her administrative
responsibilities as Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, of which Judge Paredes
is also a member.29

Lastly, the Court finds nothing wrong if the writer of the decision in the CA refused to inhibit from
participating in the resolution of the motion for reconsideration filed by Sesbrefio. The motion for her
inhibition was grounded on suspicion of her bias and prejudice,30 but suspicion of bias and prejudice
were not enough grounds for inhibition.31

Suffice it to say that the records are bereft of any indication that even suggested that the Associate
Justices of the CA who participated in the promulgation of the decision were tainted with bias against
him.

WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the pet1t1on for review on certiorari; AFFIRMS the decision
promulgated on March 10, 2003; and DIRECTS the petitioner to pay the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Chief Justice

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ*


Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above
Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion
of the Court's Division.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Chief Justice
Footnotes

* Vice Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes, who inhibited from participation, per the raffle
of March 10, 2014.

1
CA rollo, pp. 234-285.

2
Rollo, 26-42; penned by Associate Justice Remedios A. Salazar-Fernando, and concurred
in by Associate Justice Ruben T. Reyes (later Presiding Justice, and Member of the
Court/retired) and Associate Justice Edgardo F. Sundiam (retired/deceased).

3
Records, Vol. 2, p. 1186.

4
Id. at 1185.

5
Id. at 1185-1186; 1198.

6
Rollo, pp. 37-38.

7
Supra note 1.

8
Supra note 1.

9
Id. at 39-41.

10
CA rollo, pp. 446-460.

11
Supra note 4, at 1199.

12
Id. at 12-17, 81.

TSN, Vol. 9, September 12, 1990, pp. 24-25; Vol. 8, September 13, 1990, pp. 56-57, 63,
13

65.

14
TSN, Vol. 3, June 5, 1990, pp. 27, 36.

TSN, Vol. 7, April 30, 1990, p. 4; Vol. 9, September 12, 1990, pp. 35-36; Vol. 8, September
15

13, 1990, p. 57.

16
Rollo, pp. 14-15.

17
G.R. No. 81561, January 18, 1991, 193 SCRA 57, 67.

Id. at 67-68 (bold emphasis supplied). See also People v. Bongcarawan, G.R. No. 143944,
18

July 11, 2002, 384 SCRA 525, 531; Tolentino v. Mendoza, Adm. Case No. 5151, October 19,
2004, 440 SCRA 519, 530-531.
19
Supra note 5, at 1187.

20
Supra note 13.

21
Paras, Persons and Family Relations, 2013, p. 122.

22
Pineda, Persons and Human Relations, 2010, p. 76.

Article 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his
23

duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith.

24
According to Albenson Enterprises Corp. v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 88694, January 11,
1993, 217 SCRA 16, 25), Article 20 of the Civil Code, which prescribes that every person
who, contrary to law, wilfully or negligently causes damage to another shall indemnify the
latter for the same, speaks of a general sanction for violation of all other provisions of law
that do not provide their own sanction. Article 21 of the Civil Code deals with acts contra
bonus mores, and has the following elements, to wit; (1) there is an act that is legal; (2) but is
contrary to morals, good custom, public order, or public policy; and (3) it is done with intent to
injure. The common element under Article 19 and Article 21 is that the act is intentional. But
Article 20 does not distinguish whether the act is willful or negligent. Under any of the three
provisions of law, an act that causes injury to another may be made the basis for an award of
damages.

Far East Bank and Trust Company v. Pacilan Jr., G.R. No. 157314, July 29, 2005, 465
25

SCRA 372, 282.

Heirs of Margarito Pabaus v. Heirs of Amanda Yutiamco, G.R. No. 164356, July 27, 2011,
26

654 SCRA 521, 531-532.

27
There are several exceptions to the rule against the Court not reviewing the factual findings
of the CA, namely: (1) when the factual findings of the CA and those of the trial court are
contradictory; (2) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises, or
conjectures; (3) when the inference made by the CA from its findings of fact is manifestly
mistaken, absurd, or impossible; (4) when there is grave abuse of discretion in the
appreciation of facts; (5) when the CA, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the
case, and such findings were contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee; (6)
when the judgment of the CA was premised on a misapprehension of facts; (7) when the CA
failed to notice certain relevant facts that, if properly considered, would justify a different
conclusion; (8) when the findings of facts are themselves conflicting; (9) when the findings of
fact are conclusions without citation of the specific evidence on which they are based; and
(10) when the findings of fact of the CA were premised on the absence of evidence but such
findings are contradicted by the evidence on record (E.Y. Industrial Sales, Inc. v. Shen Dar
Electricity and Machinery Co., Ltd., G.R. No. 184850, October 20, 2010, 634 SCRA 363,
382).

28
Records, Vol. 5, p. 2479 (Order dated October 18, 1990).

29
Rollo, p. 41.

30
Id. at 20, 72-73.
31
See Duma v. Espinas, G.R. No. 141962, January 25, 2006, 480 SCRA 53, 65-66; Barnes
v. Reyes, G.R. No. 179583, September 3, 2009, 598 SCRA 107, 112; Pagoda Philippines.,
Inc. v. Universal Canning, Inc., G.R. No. 160966, October 11, 2005, 472 SCRA 355, 362.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 201363 March 18, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
NAZARENO VILLAREAL y LUALHATI, Accused-Appellant.

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

This is an appeal from the May 25, 2011 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No.
31320 which affirmed in toto the December 11, 2007 Decision2

of the Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City, Branch 123 (RTC), convicting appellant Nazareno
Villareal y Lualhati (appellant) of violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 91653 (RA
9165) and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for twelve (12) years and one (1)
day to fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months and to pay a fine of ₱300,000.00.

The Factual Antecedents

On December 25, 2006 at around 11:30 in the morning, as PO3 Renato de Leon (PO3 de Leon) was
driving his motorcycle on his way home along 5th Avenue, he saw appellant from a distance of about
8 to 10 meters, holding and scrutinizing in his hand a plastic sachet of shabu. Thus, PO3 de Leon, a
member of the Station Anti-Illegal Drugs-Special Operation Unit (SAID-SOU) in Caloocan City,
alighted from his motorcycle and approached the appellant whom he recognized as someone he had
previously arrested for illegal drug possession.4

Upon seeing PO3 de Leon, appellant tried to escape but was quickly apprehended with the help of a
tricycle driver. Despite appellant’s attempts to resist arrest, PO3 de Leon was able to board
appellant onto his motorcycle and confiscate the plastic sachet of shabu in his possession.
Thereafter, PO3 de Leon brought appellant to the 9th Avenue Police Station to fix his handcuffs, and
then they proceeded to the SAID-SOU office where PO3 de Leon marked the seized plastic sachet
with "RZL/NV 12-25-06," representing his and appellant’s initials and the date of the arrest.5

Subsequently, PO3 de Leon turned over the marked evidence as well as the person of appellant to
the investigator, PO2 Randulfo Hipolito (PO2 Hipolito) who, in turn, executed an acknowledgment
receipt6 and prepared a letter request7 for the laboratory examination of the seized substance. PO2
Hipolito personally delivered the request and the confiscated item to the Philippine National Police
(PNP) Crime Laboratory, which were received by Police Senior Inspector Albert Arturo (PSI Arturo),
the forensic chemist.8

Upon qualitative examination, the plastic sachet, which contained 0.03 gram of white crystalline
substance, tested positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drug.9
Consequently, appellant was charged with violation of Section 11, Article II of RA 9165 for illegal
possession of dangerous drugs in an Information10 which reads:

That on or about the 25th day of December, 2006 in Caloocan City, Metro Manila and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without being authorized by law, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession, custody and control,
METHYLAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE (Shabu) weighing 0.03 gram which, when subjected
to chemistry examination gave positive result of METHYLAMPHETAMIME HYDROCHLORIDE, a
dangerous drug.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

When arraigned, appellant, assisted by counsel de oficio, entered a plea of not guilty to the offense
charged.11

In his defense, appellant denied PO3 de Leon’s allegations and instead claimed that on the date and
time of the incident, he was walking alone along Avenida, Rizal headed towards 5th

Avenue when someone who was riding a motorcycle called him from behind. Appellant approached
the person, who turned out to be PO3 de Leon, who then told him not to run, frisked him, and took
his wallet which contained ₱1,000.00.12

Appellant was brought to the 9th Avenue police station where he was detained and mauled by eight
other detainees under the orders of PO3 de Leon. Subsequently, he was brought to the Sangandaan
Headquarters where two other police officers, whose names he recalled were "Michelle" and
"Hipolito," took him to the headquarters’ firing range. There, "Michelle" and "Hipolito" forced him to
answer questions about a stolen cellphone, firing a gun right beside his ear each time he failed to
answer and eventually mauling him when he continued to deny knowledge about the
cellphone.13 Thus, appellant sustained head injuries for which he was brought to the Diosdado
Macapagal Hospital for proper treatment.14

The following day, he underwent inquest proceedings before one Fiscal Guiyab, who informed him
that he was being charged with resisting arrest and "Section 11."15 The first charge was eventually
dismissed.

The RTC Ruling

After trial on the merits, the RTC convicted appellant as charged upon a finding that all the elements
of the crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs have been established, to wit: (1) the appellant
is in possession of an item or object which is identified to be a prohibited drug; (2) that such
possession is not authorized by law; and (3) that the accused freely and consciously possesses said
drug. Finding no ill motive on the part of PO3 de Leon to testify falsely against appellant, coupled
with the fact that the former had previously arrested the latter for illegal possession of drugs under
Republic Act No. 642516 (RA 6425), the RTC gave full faith and credit to PO3 de Leon’s testimony.
Moreover, the RTC found the plain view doctrine to be applicable, as the confiscated item was in
plain view of PO3 de Leon at the place and time of the arrest.

On the other hand, the RTC gave scant consideration to the defenses of denial and frame-up
proffered by the appellant, being uncorroborated, and in the light of the positive assertions of PO3 de
Leon. It refused to give credence to appellant’s claim that PO3 de Leon robbed him of his money,
since he failed to bring the incident to the attention of PO3 de Leon’s superiors or to institute any
action against the latter.
Consequently, the RTC sentenced appellant to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of twelve (12)
years and one (1) day to fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months and to pay a fine of ₱300,000.00.

The CA Ruling

In its assailed Decision, the CA sustained appellant’s conviction, finding "a clear case of in flagrante
delicto warrantless arrest"17 as provided under Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure. The CA held that appellant "exhibited an overt act or strange conduct that would
reasonably arouse suspicion,"18aggravated by the existence of his past criminal citations and his
attempt to flee when PO3 de Leon approached him.

Citing jurisprudence, the appellate court likewise ruled that the prosecution had adequately shown
the continuous and unbroken chain of custody of the seized item, from the time it was confiscated
from appellant by PO3 de Leon, marked at the police station, turned over to PO2 Hipolito and
delivered to the crime laboratory, where it was received by PSI Arturo, the forensic chemist, up to
the time it was presented in court for proper identification.

The Issue

The sole issue advanced before the Court for resolution is whether the CA erred in affirming in toto
the RTC’s Decision convicting appellant of the offense charged.

The Ruling of the Court

The appeal is meritorious.

Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure lays down the basic rules on lawful
warrantless arrests, either by a peace officer or a private person, as follows:

Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. – A peace officer or a private person may, without a
warrant, arrest a person:

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing,
or is attempting to commit an offense;

(b) When an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based
on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has
committed it; and

(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal
establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or is temporarily confined while his
case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.

xxx

For the warrantless arrest under paragraph (a) of Section 5 to operate, two elements must concur:
(1) the person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has just committed, is
actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (2) such overt act is done in the
presence or within the view of the arresting officer.19 On the other hand, paragraph (b) of Section 5
requires for its application that at the time of the arrest, an offense had in fact just been committed
and the arresting officer had personal knowledge of facts indicating that the appellant had committed
it.20

In both instances, the officer’s personal knowledge of the fact of the commission of an offense is
absolutely required. Under paragraph (a), the officer himself witnesses the crime while under
paragraph (b), he knows for a fact that a crime has just been committed.

In sustaining appellant’s conviction in this case, the appellate court ratiocinated that this was a clear
case of an "in flagrante delicto warrantless arrest" under paragraphs (a) and (b) of Section 5, Rule
113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, as above-quoted.

The Court disagrees.

A punctilious assessment of the factual backdrop of this case shows that there could have been no
lawful warrantless arrest. A portion of PO3 de Leon’s testimony on direct examination in court is
revelatory:

FISCAL LARIEGO: While you were there at 5th

Avenue, was there anything unusual that transpired?

PO3 DE LEON: Yes Ma’am.

Q: What was this incident?

A: While I was on board my motorcycle on my home, I saw a man looking at the shabu in his hand,
Ma’am.

Q: And exactly what time was this?

A: Around 11:30 in the morning, Ma’am.

Q: How far were you from this person that you said was verifying something in his hand?

A: Eight to ten meters, Ma’am.

Q: What exactly did you see he was verifying? A: The shabu that he was holding, Ma’am.

Q: After seeing what the man was doing, what did you do next?

A: I alighted from my motorcycle and approached him, Ma’am.

Q: In the first place why do you say that what he was examining and holding in his hand was a
shabu?

A: Because of the numerous arrests that I have done, they were all shabu, Ma’am.21 (Underscoring
supplied)

On the basis of the foregoing testimony, the Court finds it inconceivable how PO3 de Leon, even
with his presumably perfect vision, would be able to identify with reasonable accuracy, from a
distance of about 8 to 10 meters and while simultaneously driving a motorcycle, a negligible and
minuscule amount of powdery substance (0.03 gram) inside the plastic sachet allegedly held by
appellant. That he had previously effected numerous arrests, all involving shabu, is insufficient to
create a conclusion that what he purportedly saw in appellant’s hands was indeed shabu.

Absent any other circumstance upon which to anchor a lawful arrest, no other overt act could be
properly attributed to appellant as to rouse suspicion in the mind of PO3 de Leon that he (appellant)
had just committed, was committing, or was about to commit a crime, for the acts per se of walking
along the street and examining something in one’s hands cannot in any way be considered criminal
acts. In fact, even if appellant had been exhibiting unusual or strange acts, or at the very least
appeared suspicious, the same would not have been sufficient in order for PO3 de Leon to effect a
lawful warrantless arrest under paragraph (a) of Section 5, Rule 113.

Neither has it been established that the rigorous conditions set forth in paragraph (b) of Section 5,
Rule 113 have been complied with, i.e., that an offense had in fact just been committed and the
arresting officer had personal knowledge of facts indicating that the appellant had committed it.

The factual circumstances of the case failed to show that PO3 de Leon had personal knowledge that
a crime had been indisputably committed by the appellant. It is not enough that PO3 de Leon had
reasonable ground to believe that appellant had just committed a crime; a crime must in fact have
been committed first, which does not obtain in this case.

Without the overt act that would pin liability against appellant, it is therefore clear that PO3 de Leon
was merely impelled to apprehend appellant on account of the latter’s previous charge22 for the
same offense. The CA stressed this point when it said:

It is common for drugs, being illegal in nature, to be concealed from view. PO3 Renato de Leon saw
1âw phi1

appellant holding and scrutinizing a piece of plastic wrapper containing a white powderly substance.
PO3 Renato de Leon was quite familiar with appellant, having arrested him twice before for the
same illegal possession of drug. It was not just a hollow suspicion. The third time around, PO3 de
Leon had reasonably assumed that the piece of plastic wrapper appellant was holding and
scrutinizing also contained shabu as he had personal knowledge of facts regarding appellant’s
person and past criminal record. He would have been irresponsible to just ‘wait and see’ and give
appellant a chance to scamper away. For his part, appellant being, in fact, in possession of illegal
drug, sensing trouble from an equally familiar face of authority, ran away. Luckily, however, PO3 de
Leon caught up with him through the aid of a tricycle driver. Appellant’s act of running away, indeed,
validated PO3 de Leon’s reasonable suspicion that appellant was actually in possession of illegal
drug. x x x23

However, a previous arrest or existing criminal record, even for the same offense, will not suffice to
satisfy the exacting requirements provided under Section 5, Rule 113 in order to justify a lawful
warrantless arrest. "Personal knowledge" of the arresting officer that a crime had in fact just been
committed is required. To interpret "personal knowledge" as referring to a person’s reputation or past
criminal citations would create a dangerous precedent and unnecessarily stretch the authority and
power of police officers to effect warrantless arrests based solely on knowledge of a person’s
previous criminal infractions, rendering nugatory the rigorous requisites laid out under Section 5.

It was therefore error on the part of the CA to rule on the validity of appellant’s arrest based on
"personal knowledge of facts regarding appellant’s person and past criminal record," as this is
unquestionably not what "personal knowledge" under the law contemplates, which must be strictly
construed.24
Furthermore, appellant’s act of darting away when PO3 de Leon approached him should not be
construed against him. Flight per se is not synonymous with guilt and must not always be attributed
to one’s consciousness of guilt.25It is not a reliable indicator of guilt without other circumstances,26 for
even in high crime areas there are many innocent reasons for flight, including fear of retribution for
speaking to officers, unwillingness to appear as witnesses, and fear of being wrongfully
apprehended as a guilty party.27 Thus, appellant’s attempt to run away from PO3 de Leon is
susceptible of various explanations; it could easily have meant guilt just as it could likewise signify
innocence.

In fine, appellant’s acts of walking along the street and holding something in his hands, even if they
appeared to be dubious, coupled with his previous criminal charge for the same offense, are not by
themselves sufficient to incite suspicion of criminal activity or to create probable cause enough to
justify a warrantless arrest under Section 5 above-quoted. "Probable cause" has been understood to
mean a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in
themselves to warrant a cautious man's belief that the person accused is guilty of the offense with
which he is charged.28 Specifically with respect to arrests, it is such facts and circumstances which
would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed by
the person sought to be arrested,29 which clearly do not obtain in appellant’s case.

Thus, while it is true that the legality of an arrest depends upon the reasonable discretion of the
officer or functionary to whom the law at the moment leaves the decision to characterize the nature
of the act or deed of the person for the urgent purpose of suspending his liberty,30 it cannot be
arbitrarily or capriciously exercised without unduly compromising a citizen’s constitutionally-
guaranteed right to liberty. As the Court succinctly explained in the case of People v. Tudtud:31

The right of a person to be secure against any unreasonable seizure of his body and any deprivation
of his liberty is a most basic and fundamental one. The statute or rule which allows exceptions to the
requirement of warrants of arrest is strictly construed. Any exception must clearly fall within the
situations when securing a warrant would be absurd or is manifestly unnecessary as provided by the
Rule. We cannot liberally construe the rule on arrests without warrant or extend its application
beyond the cases specifically provided by law. To do so would infringe upon personal liberty and set
back a basic right so often violated and so deserving of full protection.

Consequently, there being no lawful warrantless arrest, the shabu purportedly seized from appellant
is rendered inadmissible in evidence for being the proverbial fruit of the poisonous tree. As the
confiscated shabu is the very corpus delicti of the crime charged, appellant must be acquitted and
exonerated from all criminal liability.

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 31320 is
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Appellant Nazareno Villareal y Lualhati is ACQUITTED on reasonable
doubt of the offense charged and ordered immediately released from detention, unless his continued
confinement is warranted by some other cause or ground.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 158467 October 16, 2009

SPOUSES JOEL AND MARIETTA MARIMLA, Petitioners,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES AND HON. OMAR T. VIOLA, RTC Judge, Branch 57, Angeles
City,Respondents.

DECISION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

Before the Court is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. It seeks to annul the
Order1 dated September 6, 2002 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Angeles City, Branch 57,
denying petitioner spouses Joel and Marietta Marimla’s Motion to Quash Search Warrant and to
Suppress Evidence Illegally Seized, and the Order2dated April 21, 2003 denying the Motion for
Reconsideration thereof.

The facts, as culled from the records, are as follows:

On February 15, 2002, Special Investigator (SI) Ray C. Lagasca of the NBI Anti-Organized Crime
Division filed two (2) applications for search warrant with the RTC of Manila seeking permission to
search: (1) petitioners’ house located on RD Reyes St., Brgy. Sta. Trinidad, Angeles City3 and (2) the
premises on Maria Aquino St., Purok V, Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Porac, Pampanga,4 both for Violation of
Section 16, Article III of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6425, as amended. The said applications uniformly
alleged that SI Lagasca’s request for the issuance of the search warrants was founded on his
personal knowledge as well as that of witness Roland D. Fernandez (Fernandez), obtained after a
series of surveillance operations and a test buy made at petitioners’ house. The purpose of the
application for search warrants was to seize the following articles/items:

Undetermined amount of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, popularly known as "SHABU,"


"MARIJUANA," weighing scale, plastic sachets, tooters, burner, rolling papers, and paraphernalia, all
of which articles/items are being used or intended to be used in Violation of Republic Act 6425 as
amended, and are hidden or being kept in said house/premises. 5

Executive Judge Mario Guariña III (Judge Guariña III) examined in writing and under oath SI
Lagasca and Fernandez, in the form of searching questions and answers, and found that based on
facts personally known to SI Lagasca and Fernandez, petitioners had in their possession and
control, inside their house located on RD Reyes St., Brgy. Sta. Trinidad, Angeles City, an
undetermined amount of methamphetamine hydrochloride known as shabu and marijuana. Pursuant
these findings, Judge Guariña III issued a search warrant docketed as Search Warrant No. 02-2677,
which commanded any peace officer "to make immediate search, at any time of the day or night, not
beyond 10 days from date hereof, of the premises above-mentioned and forthwith seize and take
possession of the properties subject of the offense and bring to his court said properties to be dealt
with as the law directs."6
On the strength of this warrant, members of the NBI Anti-Organized Crime Division, namely, SI
Lagasca, Primitivo M. Najera, Jr., Jesusa D. Jamasali, Horten Hernaez, and Ritche N. Oblanca, in
coordination with the Philippine National Police of Angeles City, searched petitioners’ house on
February 19, 2002 at around 5:00 in the morning.7They were able to seize cash in the amount of
₱15,200.008 and the following items:

1. One (1) brick of dried flowering tops wrapped in a packing tape marked "RCL-1-2677,"
(net weight - 915.7 grams);

2. One (1) small brick of dried flowering tape wrapped in a newsprint marked "RCL-2-2677"
(net weight - 491.5 grams);

3. Dried flowering tops separately contained in sixteen (16) transparent plastic bags,
altogether wrapped in a newsprint marked "RCL-3-2677" (net weight - 127.9 grams); and

4. Dried flowering tops separately contained in nine (9) plastic tea bags, altogether placed in
a yellow plastic bag marked "RCL-4-2677" (net weight - 18.2736 grams).9

On February 20, 2002, an Information10 for Violation of Section 8, Article II of R.A. No. 6425, as
amended by R.A. No. 7659, was filed against petitioners before the RTC of Angeles City, Branch 57,
presided by herein respondent Judge Omar T. Viola.

On March 25, 2002, petitioners filed a Motion to Quash Search Warrant and to Suppress Evidence
Illegally Seized11on the following grounds: (1) the application for search warrant was filed outside the
territorial jurisdiction and judicial region of the court where the alleged crime was committed; (2) the
court which issued the questioned search warrant committed grave abuse of discretion when it
issued the same because under the law it cannot issue a search warrant outside its territorial
jurisdiction; (3) the questioned search warrant is void ab initio; and (4) the evidence illegally seized
by virtue of the questioned search warrant is therefore inadmissible in evidence.

In support of the above motion, petitioners filed a Motion to Admit Documentary Evidence,12 asking
the court to admit the following documents: (1) application for Search Warrant No. 02-2677; (2)
authorization letter dated February 12, 2002 with the signature of NBI Director Reynaldo G. Wycoco
(Director Wycoco); (3) NBI ID No. 5370 of Agent Victor Emmanuel G. Lansang with the Signature of
Director Wycoco; and (4) Administrative Matter (A.M.) No. 00-5-03-SC (Re: Proposed Revised Rules
of Criminal Procedure [Rules 110-127, Revised Rules of Court]). Petitioners claim that the issuance
of Search Warrant No. 02-2677 was "defective considering the application was not personally
endorsed by [Dir.] Wycoco," and that the latter’s signature in the authorization letter is different from
that as appearing in the identification card, and therefore it is "not the true and genuine signature of
[Dir.] Wycoco."13

In its Comment/Opposition to the Motion to Quash,14 the Office of the City Prosecutor, Angeles City
claims that the questioned search warrant does not fall within the coverage of Sec. 2 of Rule 126 of
the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, but under A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC,15 which authorizes the
Executive Judges and Vice Executive Judges of the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City to act on all
applications for search warrants involving dangerous drugs, among others, filed by the NBI, and
provides that said warrants may be served in places outside the territorial jurisdiction of the RTCs of
Manila and Quezon City.

On August 14, 2009, SI Lagasca filed his Opposition and/or Answer to the Motion to Quash Search
Warrant and to Suppress Evidence Illegally Seized.16 He avers that Judge Guariña III issued Search
Warrant No. 02-2677 by virtue of Administrative Order No. 20-9717 issued on February 12, 1997. He
also claims that it was NBI Deputy Director for Special Investigation Fermin Nasol who signed the
authorization letter in behalf of Director Wycoco, for him to apply for a search warrant in the
house/premises of petitioners on RD Reyes St., Brgy. Sta. Trinidad, Angeles City and Maria Aquino
St., Purok V, Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Porac, Pampanga for violation of R.A. No. 6425. 1avv phi 1

In an Order18 dated September 6, 2002, Judge Omar T. Viola denied petitioners’ Motion to Quash
Search Warrant and to Suppress Evidence Illegally Seized for lack of merit, ratiocinating as follows:

The public prosecutor was able to point out that the search warrant issued by Judge Mario Guariña
III, the Executive Judge of the Manila Regional Trial Court, is in order considering that AM 99-10-09-
SC allows or authorizes executive judges and vice executive judges of the Regional Trial Court of
Manila and Quezon City to issue warrants which may be served in places outside their territorial
jurisdiction in cases where the same was filed and, among others, by the NBI.

The NBI also was able to explain that the authority to apply search warrant was personally signed by
Deputy Director for Special Investigation Fermin Nasol who is authorized to sign and that he was
delegated the authority to sign for and in behalf of the NBI Director on documents of this like. Deputy
Director Fermin Nasol having that authority to sign for and in behalf of the NBI Director, Reynaldo
Wycoco, there is, therefore, compliance with the law regarding the issuance of authority to apply
search warrant.

WHEREFORE, in view of the revelation, the Court has no other recourse but to agree with the views
of the prosecution as well as the NBI. And this being so, the Court finds not enough ground to quash
the search warrant issued against Spouses Joel and Marietta Marilma.

The motion filed by them and their supplement, is therefore denied, for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.19

On September 23, 2002, petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration20 on the ground that the
denial of their Motion to Quash Search Warrant and to Suppress Evidence Illegally Seized is not in
accordance with the law and existing jurisprudence. They claim that no evidence was presented by
Deputy Director Nasol that he was authorized to sign for and in behalf of Director Wycoco.

Said Motion for Reconsideration was likewise denied by respondent court on the ground that the
issues raised therein were mere reiterations of petitioners’ arguments that had already been
considered and passed upon in the Motion to Quash Search Warrant and to Suppress Evidence
Illegally Seized. Respondent court added:

To elaborate, this Court believes and is of the opinion that the Deputy Director of the NBI possesses
the authority to sign for and in behalf of the NBI Director requesting for the issuance of a search
warrant and nothing in the Administrative Matter 99-10-09 prohibits the delegation of such ministerial
act to the Deputy Director who is an alter ego of the NBI Director. It is also quite clear that the NBI
Director approved said authorization for SI Ray Lagasca to apply for a search warrant because said
document was never recalled or amended by the Office of the Bureau Director up to the present.

The Court is also of the view that A.M. 99-10-09 is still valid, binding and legal by virtue of the fact
that not even the Supreme Court (sic) did not make any pronouncement … withdrawing and or
declaring the same ineffective, hence, until such order is issued, this Court must interpret and rule
for its continued validity and applicability.21
Hence, this petition.

Petitioners claim that the search warrant was issued in violation of A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC and
Section 2 of Rule 126 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure.

The pivotal issue to be resolved in this petition is whether or not the respondent court acted with
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction in issuing the assailed Orders
dated September 6, 2002 and April 21, 2003, denying petitioners’ Motion to Quash Search Warrant
and to Suppress Evidence Illegally Seized and their Motion for Reconsideration, respectively.

At the onset, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) prays for the dismissal of this petition on the
ground that the filing of the said petition directly with this Court runs afoul of the doctrine of hierarchy
of courts. The OSG argues that while this Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the Court of Appeals
(CA) over petitions for certiorari, this petition should have been filed with the CA. The OSG contends
that the petitioners have not shown any compelling reason to justify the filing of the petition directly
with this Court.

The general rule is that a party is mandated to follow the hierarchy of courts. However, in
exceptional cases, the Court, for compelling reasons or if warranted by the nature of the issues
raised, may take cognizance of petitions filed directly before it.22 In this case, the Court opts to take
cognizance of the petition, as it involves the application of the rules promulgated by this Court in the
exercise of its rule-making power under the Constitution.23

At the heart of the present controversy are A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC, Clarifying the Guidelines on the
Application for the Enforceability of Search Warrants, which was enacted on January 25, 2000; and
A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC, the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, which took effect on December 1,
2000, specifically, Section 2, Rule 126 thereof. We quote the pertinent portions of the two issuances
below:

Administrative Matter No. 99-10-09-SC

Resolution Clarifying the Guidelines on the Application for the Enforceability of Search Warrants

In the interest of an effective administration of justice and pursuant to the powers vested in the
Supreme Court by the Constitution, the following are authorized to act on all applications for search
warrants involving heinous crimes, illegal gambling, dangerous drugs and illegal possession of
firearms.

The Executive Judge and Vice Executive Judges of Regional Trial Courts, Manila and Quezon City
filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the
Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOC-TF) and the Reaction Against Crime Task
Force (REACT-TF) with the Regional Trial Courts of Manila and Quezon City.

The applications shall be personally endorsed by the Heads of the said agencies, for the search of
places to be particularly described therein, and the seizure of property of things as prescribed in the
Rules of Court, and to issue the warrants of arrest, if justified, which may be served in places outside
the territorial jurisdiction of said courts.

The authorized judges shall keep a special docket book listing the details of the applications and the
result of the searches and seizures made pursuant to the warrants issued.
This Resolution is effective immediately and shall continue until further orders from this Court and
shall be an exemption to the provisions of Circular No. 13 dated 1 October 1985 and Circular No. 19
dated 4 August 1987. x x x

A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC


Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure

Rule 126
SEARCH AND SEIZURE

Sec. 2. Court where application for search warrant shall be filed. – An application for search warrant
shall be filed with the following:

(a) Any court within whose territorial jurisdiction a crime was committed.

(b) For compelling reasons stated in the application, any court within the judicial
region where the crime was committed if the place of the commission of the crime is
known, or any court within the judicial region where the warrant shall be enforced.

However, if the criminal action has already been filed, the application shall only be made in the court
where the criminal action is pending.

From the above, it may be seen that A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC authorizes the Executive Judge and Vice
Executive Judges of the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City to act on all applications for search
warrants involving heinous crimes, illegal gambling, dangerous drugs and illegal possession of
firearms on application filed by the PNP, NBI, PAOC-TF, and REACT-TF. On the other hand, Rule
126 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure provides that the application for search warrant
shall be filed with: (a) any court within whose territorial jurisdiction a crime was committed, and (b)
for compelling reasons, any court within the judicial region where the crime was committed if the
place of the commission of the crime is known, or any court within the judicial region where the
warrant shall be enforced.

Petitioners contend that the application for search warrant was defective. They aver that the
application for search warrant filed by SI Lagasca was not personally endorsed by the NBI Head,
Director Wycoco, but instead endorsed only by Deputy Director Nasol and that while SI Lagasca
declared that Deputy Director Nasol was commissioned to sign the authorization letter in behalf of
Director Wycoco, the same was not duly substantiated. Petitioners conclude that the absence of the
signature of Director Wycoco was a fatal defect that rendered the application on the questioned
search warrant void per se, and the issued search warrant null and void "because the spring cannot
rise above its source." 24

We disagree. Nothing in A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC prohibits the heads of the PNP, NBI, PAOC-TF and
REACT-TF from delegating their ministerial duty of endorsing the application for search warrant to
their assistant heads. Under Section 31, Chapter 6, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, an
assistant head or other subordinate in every bureau may perform such duties as may be specified by
their superior or head, as long as it is not inconsistent with law. The said provision reads:

Chapter 6 – POWERS AND DUTIES OF HEADS OF BUREAUS AND OFFICES


Sec. 31. Duties of Assistant Heads and Subordinates. – (1) Assistant heads and other subordinates
in every bureau or office shall perform such duties as may be required by law or regulations, or as
may be specified by their superiors not otherwise inconsistent with law.

(2) The head of bureau or office may, in the interest of economy, designate the
assistant head to act as chief of any division or unit within the organization, in
addition to his duties, without additional compensation, and

(3) In the absence of special restriction prescribed by law, nothing shall prevent a
subordinate officer or employee from being assigned additional duties by proper
authority, when not inconsistent with the performance of the duties imposed by law.

Director Wycoco’s act of delegating his task of endorsing the application for search warrant to
Deputy Director Nasol is allowed by the above quoted provision of law unless it is shown to be
inconsistent with any law. Thus, Deputy Director Nasol’s endorsement had the same force and effect
as an endorsement issued by Director Wycoco himself. The finding of the RTC in the questioned
Orders that Deputy Director Nasol possessed the authority to sign for and in behalf of Director
Wycoco is unassailable.

Petitioners also assert that the questioned Search Warrant was void ab initio. They maintain that
A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC, which was enacted on January 25, 2000, was no longer in effect when the
application for search warrant was filed on February 15, 2002. They argue that the Revised Rules on
Criminal Procedure, which took effect on December 1, 2000, should have been applied, being the
later law. Hence, the enforcement of the search warrant in Angeles City, which was outside the
territorial jurisdiction of RTC Manila, was in violation of the law.

The petitioners’ contention lacks merit.

A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC provides that the guidelines on the enforceability of search warrants provided
therein shall continue until further orders from this Court. In fact, the guidelines in A.M. No. 99-10-09-
SC are reiterated in A.M. No. 03-8-02-SC entitled Guidelines On The Selection And Designation Of
Executive Judges And Defining Their Powers, Prerogatives And Duties, which explicitly stated that
the guidelines in the issuance of search warrants in special criminal cases by the RTCs of Manila
and Quezon City shall be an exception to Section 2 of Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, to wit:25

Chapter V. Specific Powers, Prerogatives and Duties of Executive Judges in Judicial Supervision

Sec. 12. Issuance of search warrants in special criminal cases by the Regional Trial Courts of Manila
and Quezon City. – The Executive Judges and, whenever they are on official leave of absence or
are not physically present in the station, the Vice-Executive Judges of the RTCs of Manila and
Quezon City shall have authority to act on applications filed by the National Bureau of Investigation
(NBI), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Anti-Crime Task Force (ACTAF), for search
warrants involving heinous crimes, illegal gambling, illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions
as well as violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, the Intellectual Property
Code, the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, the Tariff and Customs Code, as amended, and other
relevant laws that may hereafter be enacted by Congress, and included herein by the Supreme
Court.

The applications shall be personally endorsed by the heads of such agencies and shall particularly
describe therein the places to be searched and/or the property or things to be seized as prescribed
in the Rules of Court. The Executive Judges and Vice-Executive Judges concerned shall issue the
warrants, if justified, which may be served in places outside the territorial jurisdiction of the said
courts.

The Executive Judges and the authorized Judges shall keep a special docket book listing names of
Judges to whom the applications are assigned, the details of the applications and the results of the
searches and seizures made pursuant to the warrants issued.

This Section shall be an exception to Section 2 of Rule 126 of the Rules of Court. (italics ours)

In sum, we cannot find any irregularity or abuse of discretion on the part of Judge Omar T. Viola for
denying petitioners’ Motion to Quash Search Warrant and to Suppress Evidence Illegally Seized. On
the contrary, Judge Guariña III had complied with the procedural and substantive requirements for
issuing the questioned search warrant.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is hereby DISMISSED. The Orders dated September 6,
2002 and April 21, 2003, both issued by respondent Judge Omar T. Viola of the RTC of Angeles
City, Branch 57, are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO**


Associate Justice
Acting Chairperson

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA*


Associate Justice

ARTURO D. BRION*** DIOSDADO M. PERALTA****


Associate Justice Associate Justice

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case
was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice
Acting Chairperson, First Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Acting Division Chairperson’s
Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above decision had been reached in consultation
before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Acting Chief Justice

Footnotes

* Additional member as per Special Order No. 740.

** Acting Chairperson as per Special Order No. 739.

*** Additional member as per Special Order No. 751.

**** Additional member as per Special Order No. 754.

1 Rollo, pp. 29-32.

2 Id. at 33-34.

3 Id. at 51.

4 RTC Record, p. 61.

5 See Notes 3 and 4.

6 RTC Record, p. 11.

7 Id. at. 12-13.

8 Believed as proceeds from the earlier sale of prohibited drugs.

9 RTC Record, p. 14.

10 Id. at 1.

11 Rollo, p. 35.

12 Id. at 53-58.

13 Id. at 53-54.

14 Id. at 39

15 Promulgated on January 25, 2000.

16 Rollo, pp. 59-60.

17 Administrative Order No. 20-97


In the interest of an effective administration of justice and pursuant to the powers
vested in the Supreme Court by the Constitution, the Hon. Roberto A. Barrios,
Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila and in his absence the Hon.
Rebecca de Guia Salvador, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 1, Manila,
the Hon. Maximo A. Savellano, Jr., Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 53,
Manila and the Hon. Edgardo P. Cruz, Presiding Judge Regional Trial Court, Branch
27, Manila are hereby authorized to act on all applications for search warrants filed
by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) by the Presidential Anti-Crime
Commission (PACC) and by the Public Assistance and Reaction Against Crime
(PARAC), duly certified by the legal officers and personally endorsed by the Heads of
the said agencies, with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, for the search of places to
be particularly described therein, and the seizure of property or things as prescribed
in the Rules of Court, and to issue the warrants, if justified, which may be served in
places even outside the territorial jurisdiction of said courts. This order is effective
immediately and shall continue until further orders from this Court and shall be an
exception to the provisions of Circular 13 dated October 1, 1985 and Circular No. 19
dated August 4, 1987. The authorization herein granted shall cover applications for
search warrants involving illegal gambling, dangerous drugs, illegal possession of
firearms and other major crimes. The authorized Judges shall keep a special docket
book listing the details of the applications and the result of the searches and seizures
made pursuant to the warrants issued.

18 Rollo, pp. 29-32.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 200334 July 30, 2014

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent-Appellee,


vs.
VICTOR COGAED y ROMANA, Accused-Appellant.

DECISION

LEONEN, J.:

The mantle of protection upon one's person and one's effects through Article III, Section 2 of the
Constitution is essential to allow citizens to evolve their autonomy and, hence, to avail themselves of
their right to privacy. The alleged compromise with the battle against dangerous drugs is more
apparent than real. Often, the compromise is there because law enforcers neglect to perform what
could have been done to uphold the Constitution as they pursue those who traffic this scourge of
society.

Squarely raised in· this appeal1 is the admissibility of the evidence seized as a result of a warrantless
arrest. The police officers identified the alleged perpetrator through facts that were not based on
their personal knowledge. The information as to the accused’s whereabouts was sent through a text
message. The accusedwho never acted suspicious was identified by a driver. The bag that allegedly
contained the contraband was required to be opened under intimidating circumstances and without
the accused having been fully apprised of his rights. This was not a reasonable search within the
meaning of the Constitution. There was no reasonable suspicion that would allow a legitimate "stop
and frisk" action. The alleged waiver of rights by the accused was not done intelligently, knowingly,
and without improper pressure or coercion.

The evidence, therefore, used against the accused should be excluded consistent with Article III,
Section 3 (2) of the Constitution. There being no possible admissible evidence, the accused should
be acquitted.

According to the prosecution, at about 6:00 a.m. of November 25, 2005, Police Senior Inspector
Sofronio Bayan (PSI Bayan) of the San Gabriel Police Station in San Gabriel,La Union, "received a
text message from an unidentified civilian informer"2 that one Marvin Buya (also known as Marvin
Bugat) "[would]be transporting marijuana"3 from Barangay LunOy, San Gabriel, La Union to the
Poblacion of San Gabriel, La Union.4

PSI Bayan organized checkpoints in order "to intercept the suspect."5 PSI Bayan ordered SPO1
Jaime Taracatac, Jr. (SPO1 Taracatac), a member of the San Gabriel Police, to set up a checkpoint
in the waiting area of passengers from San Gabriel bound for San Fernando City.6 A passenger
jeepney from Barangay Lun-Oy arrived at SPO1 Taracatac’s checkpoint.7 The jeepney driver
disembarked and signalled to SPO1 Taracatac indicating the two male passengers who were
carrying marijuana.8 SPO1 Taracatac approached the two male passengers who were later identified
as Victor RomanaCogaed and Santiago Sacpa Dayao.9 Cogaed was carrying a blue bag and a sack
while Dayao was holding a yellow bag.10

SPO1 Taracatac asked Cogaed and Dayao about the contents of their bags.11 Cogaed and Dayao
told SPO1 Taracatac that they did not know since they were transporting the bags as a favor for their
barriomatenamed Marvin.12 After this exchange, Cogaed opened the blue bag, revealing three bricks
of what looked like marijuana.13Cogaed then muttered, "nagloko daytoy nga Marvinen, kastoymet
gayam ti nagyanna,"which translates to "Marvin is a fool, this is what [is] contained in the
bag."14 "SPO1 Taracatac arrested [Cogaed] and . . . Dayao and brought them to the police
station."15 Cogaed and Dayao "were still carrying their respective bags"16 inside the station.17

While at the police station, the Chief of Police and Investigator PO3 Stanley Campit (PO3 Campit)
requested Cogaed and Dayao to empty their bags.18 Inside Cogaed’s sack was "four (4) rolled pieces
of suspected marijuana fruiting tops,"19 and inside Dayao’s yellow bag was a brick of suspected
marijuana.20

PO3 Campit prepared the suspected marijuana for laboratory testing.21 PSI Bayan personally
delivered the suspected marijuana to the PNP Crime Laboratory.22 Forensic Chemical Officer Police
Inspector Valeriano Panem Laya II performed the tests and found that the objects obtained were
indeed marijuana.23 The marijuana collected from Cogaed’s blue bag had a total weight of 8,091.5
grams.24 The marijuana from Cogaed’s sack weighed 4,246.1 grams.25 The marijuana collected from
Dayao’s bag weighed 5,092 grams.26 A total of 17,429.6 grams werecollected from Cogaed’s and
Dayao’s bags.27

According to Cogaed’s testimony during trial, he was at Balbalayan, La Union, "waiting for a jeepney
to take him"28to the Poblacion of San Gabriel so he could buy pesticide.29 He boarded a jeepney and
recognized Dayao, his younger brother’s friend.30 Upon arrival at the Poblacion of San Gabriel,
Dayao and Cogaed alighted from the jeepney.31 Dayao allegedly "asked for [Cogaed’s] help in
carrying his things, which included a travelling bag and a sack."32 Cogaed agreed because they were
both going to the market.33 This was when SPO1 Taracatac approached them, and when SPO1
Taracatac asked Cogaed what was inside the bags, Cogaed replied that he did not know.34SPO1
Taracatac then talked to Dayao, however, Cogaed was not privy to their conversation.35 Thereafter,
SPO1 Taracatac arrested Dayao and Cogaed and brought them to the police station.36 These facts
were corroborated by an eyewitness,Teodoro Nalpu-ot, who was standing across the parking lot
where Cogaed was apprehended.37

At the police station, Cogaed said that "SPO1 Taracatac hit [him] on the head."38 The bags were also
opened, but Cogaed never knew what was inside.39

It was only later when Cogaed learned that it was marijuana when he and Dayao were charged with
illegal possession of dangerous drugs under Republic Act No. 9165.40 The information against them
states:

That on or about the 25th day of November, 2005, in the Municipality of San Gabriel, Province of La
Union, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused VICTOR
COGAED Y ROMANA and SANTIAGO DAYAO Y SACPA (who acted with discernment) and JOHN
DOE,conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, did then there wilfully, unlawfully,
feloniously and knowingly, without being authorized by law, have in their control, custody and
possession dried marijuana, a dangerous drug, with a total weight of seventeen thousand,four
hundred twenty-nine and sixtenths (17, 429.6) grams.
CONTRARY TO Section 11 (Possession of Dangerous Drugs), Article II, of Republic Act No. 9165
(otherwise known as the "Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002").41

The case was raffled to Regional Trial Court, Branch 28 of San Fernando City, La Union.42 Cogaed
and Dayao pleaded not guilty.43 The case was dismissed against Dayao because he was only 14
years old at that time and was exempt from criminal liability under the Juvenile Justice and Welfare
Act of 2006 or Republic Act No. 9344.44 Trial against Cogaed ensued. In a decision45 dated May 21,
2008, the Regional Trial Court found Cogaed guilty. The dispositive portion of the decision states:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Victor Cogaed y Romana GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt
for Violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 (otherwise known as the
"Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002") and sentences him to suffer life imprisonment, and
to pay a fine of one million pesos (Php 1,000,000.00).46

The trial court judge initiallyfound Cogaed’s arrest illegal considering that "Cogaed at that time was
not, at the moment of his arrest, committing a crime nor was shown that hewas about to do so or
that had just done so. He just alighted from the passenger jeepney and there was no outward
indication that called for his arrest."47 Since the arrest was illegal, the warrantless search should also
be considered illegal.48 However, the trial court stated that notwithstanding the illegality of the arrest,
Cogaed "waived his right to object to such irregularity"49 when "he did not protest when SPO1
Taracatac, after identifying himself, asked him to open his bag."50

Cogaed appealed51 the trial court’s decision.However, the Court of Appeals denied his appeal and
affirmed the trial court’s decision.52 The Court of Appeals found that Cogaed waived his right against
warrantless searches when "[w]ithout any prompting from SPO1 Taracatac, [he] voluntarily opened
his bag."53 Hence, this appeal was filed.

The following errors were assigned by Cogaed in his appellant’s brief:

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN ADMITTING THE SEIZED DANGEROUS DRUGS AS
EVIDENCE AGAINST THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE BEING THE RESULT OF AN
UNLAWFUL WARRANTLESS SEARCH AND SEIZURE.

II

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE


THE ARRESTING OFFICER’S NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
PROPER CUSTODY OF SEIZED DANGEROUS DRUGS UNDER REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9165.

III

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE


THE ARRESTING OFFICER’S FAILURE TO PRESERVE THE INTEGRITY AND EVIDENTIARY
VALUE OF THE SEIZED DANGEROUS DRUGS.54

For our consideration are the following issues: (1) whether there was a valid search and seizure of
marijuana as against the appellant; (2) whether the evidence obtained through the search should be
admitted; and (3) whether there was enough evidence to sustain the conviction of the accused.
In view of the disposition of this case, we deem that a discussion with respect to the requirements on
the chain of custody of dangerous drugs unnecessary.55

We find for the accused.

II

The right to privacy is a fundamental right enshrined by implication in our Constitution. It has many
dimensions. One of its dimensions is its protection through the prohibition of unreasonable searches
and seizures in Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution:

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
determinedpersonally 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.

This provision requires that the court examine with care and diligence whether searches and
seizures are "reasonable." As a general rule, searches conducted with a warrant that meets all the
requirements of this provision are reasonable. This warrant requires the existence of probable cause
that can only be determined by a judge.56The existence of probable cause must be established by
the judge after asking searching questions and answers.57Probable cause at this stage can only exist
if there is an offense alleged to be committed. Also, the warrant frames the searches done by the
law enforcers. There must be a particular description of the place and the things to be searched.58

However, there are instances when searches are reasonable even when warrantless.59 In the Rules
of Court, searchesincidental to lawful arrests are allowed even without a separate warrant.60 This
court has taken into account the "uniqueness of 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."61 The
known jurisprudential instances of reasonable warrantless searches and seizures are:

1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest. . . ;

2. Seizure of evidence in "plain view," . . . ;

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. Consentedwarrantless search;

5. Customs search;

6. Stop and frisk; and

7. Exigent and emergency circumstances.62 (Citations omitted)

III
One of these jurisprudential exceptionsto search warrants is "stop and frisk". "Stop and frisk"
searches are often confused with searches incidental to lawful arrests under the Rules of
Court.63 Searches incidental to a lawful arrest require that a crime be committed in flagrante delicto,
and the search conducted within the vicinity and withinreach by the person arrested is done to
ensure that there are no weapons, as well as to preserve the evidence.64

On the other hand, "stop and frisk"searches are conducted to prevent the occurrence of a crime. For
instance, the search in Posadas v. Court of Appeals65 was similar "to a ‘stop and frisk’ situation
whose object is either to determine the identity of a suspicious individual or to maintain the status
quomomentarily while the police officer seeks to obtain more information."66 This court stated that the
"stop and frisk" search should be used "[w]hen dealing with a rapidly unfolding and potentially
criminal situation in the city streets where unarguably there is no time to secure . . . a search
warrant."67

The search involved in this case was initially a "stop and frisk" search, but it did not comply with all
the requirements of reasonability required by the Constitution.

"Stop and frisk" searches (sometimes referred to as Terrysearches68) are necessary for law
enforcement. That is, law enforcers should be given the legal arsenal to prevent the commission of
offenses. However, this should be balanced with the need to protect the privacy of citizens in
accordance with Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution.

The balance lies in the concept of"suspiciousness" present in the situation where the police officer
finds himself or herself in. This may be undoubtedly based on the experience ofthe police officer.
Experienced police officers have personal experience dealing with criminals and criminal behavior.
Hence, they should have the ability to discern — based on facts that they themselves observe —
whether an individual is acting in a suspicious manner. Clearly, a basic criterion would be that the
police officer, with his or her personal knowledge, must observe the facts leading to the suspicion of
an illicit act.

In Manalili v. Court of Appeals,69 the police officers were initially informed about a place frequented
by people abusing drugs.70 When they arrived, one of the police officers saw a man with "reddish
eyes and [who was] walking in a swaying manner."71 The suspicion increased when the man avoided
the police officers.72 These observations led the police officers to conclude that the man was high on
drugs.73 These were sufficient facts observed by the police officers "to stop[the] petitioner [and]
investigate."74

In People v. Solayao,75 police officers noticed a man who appeared drunk.76 This man was also
"wearing a camouflage uniform or a jungle suit."77 Upon seeing the police, the man fled.78 His flight
added to the suspicion.79After stopping him, the police officers found an unlicensed "homemade
firearm"80 in his possession.81 This court ruled that "[u]nder the circumstances, the government
agents could not possibly have procured a search warrant first."82 This was also a valid search.

In these cases, the police officers using their senses observed facts that led to the suspicion. Seeing
a man with reddish eyes and walking in a swaying manner, based on their experience, is indicative
of a person who uses dangerous and illicit drugs. A drunk civilian in guerrilla wear is probably hiding
something as well.

The case of Cogaed was different. He was simply a passenger carrying a bag and traveling aboarda
jeepney. There was nothing suspicious, moreover, criminal, about riding a jeepney or carrying a bag.
The assessment of suspicion was not made by the police officer but by the jeepney driver. It was the
driver who signalled to the police that Cogaed was "suspicious."
This is supported by the testimony of SPO1 Taracatac himself:

COURT:

Q So you don’t know what was the content while it was still being carried by him in the passenger
jeep?

WITNESS:

A Not yet, Your Honor.83

SPO1 Taracatac likewise stated:

COURT:

Q If the driver did not make a gesture pointing to the accused, did you have reason to believe that
the accused were carrying marijuana?

WITNESS:

A No, Your Honor.84

The jeepney driver had to point toCogaed. He would not have been identified by the police officers
otherwise.

It is the police officer who should observe facts that would lead to a reasonable degree of suspicion
of a person. The police officer should not adopt the suspicion initiated by another person. This is
necessary to justify that the person suspected be stopped and reasonably searched.85 Anything less
than this would be an infringementupon one’s basic right to security of one’s person and effects.

IV

Normally, "stop and frisk" searches do not give the law enforcer an opportunity to confer with a judge
to determine probable cause. In Posadas v. Court of Appeals,86 one of the earliest cases adopting
the "stop and frisk" doctrine in Philippine jurisprudence, this court approximatedthe suspicious
circumstances as probable cause:

The probable causeis 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.87 (Emphasis supplied)

For warrantless searches, probable cause was defined as "a reasonable ground of
suspicionsupported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant a cautious man to
believe that the person accused is guilty of the offense with which he is charged."88

Malacat v. Court of Appeals89 clarifies the requirement further. It does not have to be probable
cause,but it cannot be mere suspicion.90 It has to be a "genuine reason"91 to serve the purposes of
the "stop and frisk" exception:92
Other notable points of Terryare 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.93 (Emphasis supplied,
footnotes omitted)

In his dissent for Esquillo v. People,94 Justice Bersamin reminds us that police officers must not rely
on a single suspicious circumstance.95 There should be "presence of more than oneseemingly
innocent activity, which, taken together, warranted a reasonable inference of criminal activity."96 The
Constitution prohibits "unreasonable searches and seizures."97 Certainly, reliance on only one
suspicious circumstance or none at all will not result in a reasonable search.98

There was not a single suspicious circumstance in this case, and there was no approximation for the
probable cause requirement for warrantless arrest. The person searched was noteven the person
mentioned by the informant. The informant gave the name of Marvin Buya, and the person searched
was Victor Cogaed. Even if it was true that Cogaed responded by saying that he was transporting
the bag to Marvin Buya, this still remained only as one circumstance. This should not have been
enough reason to search Cogaed and his belongings without a valid search warrant.

Police officers cannot justify unbridled searches and be shielded by this exception, unless there is
compliance with the "genuine reason" requirement and that the search serves the purpose of
protecting the public. As stated in Malacat:

[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-preservationwhich 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.99 (Emphasis supplied)

The "stop and frisk" searchwas originally limited to outer clothing and for the purpose of detecting
dangerous weapons.100 As in Manalili,101 jurisprudence also allows "stop and frisk" for cases involving
dangerous drugs.

The circumstances of thiscase are analogous to People v. Aruta.102 In that case, an informant told the
police that a certain "Aling Rosa" would be bringing in drugs from Baguio City by bus.103 At the bus
terminal, the police officers prepared themselves.104 The informant pointed at a woman crossing the
street105 and identified her as "Aling Rosa."106 The police apprehended "Aling Rosa," and they alleged
that she allowed them to look inside her bag.107The bag contained marijuana leaves.108

In Aruta, this court found that the search and seizure conducted was illegal.109 There were no
suspicious circumstances that preceded Aruta’s arrest and the subsequent search and seizure.110 It
was only the informant that prompted the police to apprehend her.111 The evidence obtained was not
admissible because of the illegal search.112Consequently, Aruta was acquitted.113

Arutais almost identical to this case, except that it was the jeepney driver, not the police’s informant,
who informed the police that Cogaed was "suspicious."
The facts in Arutaare also similar to the facts in People v. Aminnudin.114 Here, the National Bureau
ofInvestigation (NBI) acted upon a tip, naming Aminnudin as somebody possessing drugs.115 The NBI
waited for the vessel to arrive and accosted Aminnudin while he was disembarking from a
boat.116 Like in the case at bar, the NBI inspected Aminnudin’s bag and found bundles of what
turnedout to be marijuana leaves.117 The court declared that the searchand seizure was
illegal.118 Aminnudin was acquitted.119

People v. Chua120 also presents almost the same circumstances. In this case, the police had been
receiving information that the accused was distributing drugs in "different karaoke bars in Angeles
City."121 One night, the police received information that thisdrug dealer would be dealing drugs at the
Thunder Inn Hotel so they conducted a stakeout.122 A car "arrived and parked"123 at the hotel.124The
informant told the police that the man parked at the hotel was dealing drugs.125 The man alighted
from his car.126 He was carrying a juice box.127 The police immediately apprehended him and
discovered live ammunition and drugs in his person and in the juice box he was holding.128

Like in Aruta, this court did not find anything unusual or suspicious about Chua’s situation when the
police apprehended him and ruled that "[t]here was no valid‘stop-and-frisk’."129

VI

None of the other exceptions to warrantless searches exist to allow the evidence to be
admissible.The facts of this case do not qualify as a search incidental to a lawful arrest.

Rule 126, Section 13 of the Rules of Court allows for searches incidental to a lawful arrest. For there
to be a lawful arrest, there should be either a warrant of arrest or a lawful warrantless arrest as
enumerated in Rule 113, Section 5 of the Rules of Court:

Section 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. – A peace officer or a private person may, withouta
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 temporarily confined while his
case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.

The apprehension of Cogaed was not effected with a warrant of arrest. None of the instances
enumerated in Rule 113, Section 5 of the Rules of Court were present whenthe arrest was made. At
the time of his apprehension, Cogaed has not committed, was not committing, or was about to
commit a crime. As in People v. Chua, for a warrantless arrest of in flagrante delictoto be affected,
"two elements must concur: (1) the person to bearrested must execute anovert act indicating that he
has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (2) such overt act
is done inthe presence or within the view of the arresting officer."130 Both elements were missing
when Cogaed was arrested.131 There were no overt acts within plain view of the police officers that
suggested that Cogaed was in possession of drugs at that time.
Also, Cogaed was not an escapee prisoner that time; hence, he could not have qualified for the last
allowable warrantless arrest.

VII

There can be no valid waiver of Cogaed’s constitutional rights even if we assume that he did not
object when the police asked him to open his bags. As this court previously stated:

Appellant’s silence should not be lightly taken as consent to such search. The 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.132(Citations omitted) Cogaed’s silence or lack of aggressive objection
was a natural reaction to a coercive environment brought about by the police officer’s excessive
intrusion into his private space. The prosecution and the police carry the burden of showing that the
waiver of a constitutional right is one which is knowing, intelligent, and free from any coercion. In all
cases, such waivers are not to be presumed.

The coercive atmosphere created by the presence of the police officer can be discerned again from
the testimony of SPO1 Taracatac during cross-examination:

ATTY. BINWAG:

Q Now, Mr. witness, you claimed that you only asked them what are the contents of their bags, is it
not?

WITNESS:

A Yes, ma’am.

Q And then without hesitation and voluntarily they just opened their bags, is it not?

A Yes, ma’am.

Q So that there was not any order from you for them to open the bags?

A None, ma’am.

Q Now, Mr. witness when you went near them and asked them what were the contents ofthe bag,
you have not seen any signs of hesitation or fright from them, is it not?

A It seems they were frightened, ma’am.

Q But you actually [claimed] that there was not any hesitation from them in opening the bags, is it
not?

A Yes, ma’am but when I went near them it seems that they were surprised.133 (Emphasis supplied)

The state of mind of Cogaed was further clarified with SPO1 Taracatac’s responses to Judge
Florendo’s questions:
COURT:

....

Q Did you have eye contact with Cogaed?

A When I [sic] was alighting from the jeepney, Your Honor I observed that he was somewhat
frightened. He was a little apprehensive and when he was already stepping down and he put down
1âwphi 1

the bag I asked him, "what’s that," and he answered, "I don’t know because Marvin only asked me to
carry."134

For a valid waiver by the accused of his or her constitutional right, it is not sufficient that the police
officerintroduce himself or herself, or be known as a police officer. The police officer must also
1âw phi 1

inform the person to be searched that any inaction on his orher part will amount to a waiver of any of
his or her objections that the circumstances do not amount to a reasonable search. The police officer
must communicate this clearly and in a language known to the person who is about to waive his or
her constitutional rights. There must be anassurance given to the police officer that the accused fully
understands his or her rights. The fundamental nature of a person’s constitutional right to privacy
requires no less.

VIII
The Constitution provides:

Any evidence obtained in violation of [the right against unreasonable searches and seizures] shall be
inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.135

Otherwise known as the exclusionary rule or the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine, this
constitutional provision originated from Stonehill v. Diokno.136 This rule prohibits the issuance of
general warrants that encourage law enforcers to go on fishing expeditions. Evidence obtained
through unlawful seizures should be excluded as evidence because it is "the only practical means of
enforcing the constitutional injunction against unreasonable searches and seizures."137 It ensures that
the fundamental rights to one’s person, houses, papers, and effects are not lightly infringed upon
and are upheld.

Considering that the prosecution and conviction of Cogaed were founded on the search of his bags,
a pronouncement of the illegality of that search means that there is no evidence left to convict
Cogaed.

Drugs and its illegal traffic are a scourgeto our society. In the fight to eradicate this menace, law
enforcers should be equipped with the resources to be able to perform their duties better. However,
we cannot, in any way, compromise our society’s fundamental values enshrined in our Constitution.
Otherwise, we will be seen as slowlydismantling the very foundations of the society that we seek to
protect.

WHEREFORE, the decisions of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 28, San Fernando City, La Union
and of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 03394 are hereby REVERSEDand SET ASIDE.
For lack of evidence to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, accused-appellant VICTOR
COGAED Y ROMANA is hereby ACQUITTED and ordered RELEASED from confinement unless he
is being heldfor some other legal grounds. No costs.

SO ORDERED.