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MEMORANDUM OF LAW

To: Atty. Rolly Peoro


From: Isabelle Alexis P. Yason
Date: October 4, 2018
Re: Substantive Validity of the Search Warrant issued to Eden

Statement of Assignment

You have asked me to prepare a legal memorandum addressing the legality of the search
warrant issued our client “Eden” under Section 12, Art. II of R.A. 9165 or the Comprehensive
Dangerous Drugs Act that took place on July 9, 2016 in her residence of.

Issue

Under the Constitution, can a search warrant that was issued by a court without jurisdiction
be considered valid?

Does the failure to provide a specific address in the application for a search warrant
invalidate the said warrant?
Brief Answer

No, there is no doubt that the corpus delicti was found by the police inside Eden’s residence
in Sta. Cruz, Laguna. However, the search warrant was applied for and issued in San Pablo,
Laguna, which is outside the jurisdiction of the said issuing court. The judge also issued a warrant
that did not comply with the specific address requirement, wherein the search warrant merely
stated the area where she lived. The evidence collected from the search warrant must be deemed
inadmissible as evidence.

A search warrant must indicate the specific address of the place to be searched and must be
filed and issued by a judge in a) any court within whose territorial jurisdiction a crime was
committed; or 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.

Statement of Facts

Eden, a resident of Sitio San Miguel, Brgy. Duhat, Santa Cruz, Laguna was charged with
violating Section 12, Art. II of R.A. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act. According
to the Information filed by the police, it was alleged that she had in her possession, custody and
control of three (3) pcs of small heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets of methamphetamine
hydrochloride, weighing a total of 0.23 grams, which is considered as a dangerous drug.
The sworn statement issued by P01 Edison Medrano and P01 Jonel Sanchez stated that
they acquired a report from a confidential asset that the plaintiff sells drug in that area. After
conducting a test-buy of the alleged drugs, they applied for a search warrant from the Presiding
Judge of RTC Branch 32 San Pablo City, Laguna on July 1, 2016 to search for an undetermined
amount of Metamphetamine Hydrocloride also known as shabu, drug paraphernalia and other
proceeds of the crime, which she allegedly keeps and controls in her address at Sitio San Miguel,
Brgy. Duhat, Santa Cruz, Laguna.

The search was conducted on July 9, 2016 at 1:40 am where they were able to find the
drugs inside a pouch found in a bag hanging in the living room.

Analysis

Based on an analysis of the facts of the case, there are substantive and procedural lapses in
the issuance of the search warrant by the authorities.

Rule 126 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure provide for the requisites for the issuance of a search
warrant, to wit:

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

Simply put, the requisites for the issuance of a valid search warrant are: (1) probable cause
is present; (2) such presence is determined personally by the judge; (3) the complainant and the
witnesses he or she may produce are personally examined by the judge, in writing and under oath
or affirmation; (4) the applicant and the witnesses testify on the facts personally known to them;
and (5) the warrant specifically describes the place to be searched and the things to be seized and
an absence of any of these requisites will cause the downright nullification of the search warrants.

1. Lack of Jurisdiction for the Search Warrant

According to Sec. 2, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, an application for a 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.
The construction of the provision pertains a mandatory nature. It requires a statement of
compelling reasons for the application to be filed in a court which does not have territorial
jurisdiction over the place of commission of the crime.

Although the law exempts certain instances wherein the issuing court was not the one that
originally has jurisdiction, so long as there are compelling reasons. In this case, no such reason
was indicated in the search warrant. There was no evidence presented to warrant the filing of the
search warrant in San Pablo City, which is approximately 30.2 kilometers away from Santa Cruz,
Laguna, where the alleged crime took place.

It is an essential rule that the place where the crime was committed determines not only the
venue of the action but is also an essential element of jurisdiction. It is a fundamental rule that for
jurisdiction to be acquired by courts in criminal cases, the offense or any one of its essential
ingredients should have been committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. Territorial
jurisdiction in criminal cases is characterized as the territory where the court has jurisdiction to
take cognizance or to try the offense allegedly committed therein by the accused. Thus, it cannot
take jurisdiction over a person charged with an offense allegedly committed outside of that limited
territory1.

This follows that the plaintiff's application for a search warrant was indeed insufficient for
failing to comply with the requirement to state therein the compelling reasons why they had to
file the application in a court that did not have territorial jurisdiction over the place where the
alleged crime was committed.

2. The address stated is too broad and general

As for the validity of a search warrant, the Constitution requires that there be a particular
description of the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized2. The rule is that a
description of a place to be searched is sufficient if the officer with the warrant can, with
reasonable effort, ascertain and identify the place intended and distinguish it from other places in
the community. Any designation or description known to the locality that leads the officer
unerringly to it satisfies the constitutional requirement.

In People v. Veloso3, the Court declared that even a description of the place to be searched
is sufficient if the officer with the warrant can with reasonable effort, ascertain and identify the
place intended. The police officer serving the warrant cannot, with reasonable effort, ascertain
and identify the place intended precisely because what was indicated in the search warrant is
merely a general description of the area where the plaintiff supposedly lives. The particularity of

1
Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation and Petron Corporation v. Romars International Gases Corporation,
G.R. No. 189669, February 16, 2015
2
CONST, Sec. 2, Art. III
3
People v. Veloso, G.R. No. L-23051, October 20, 1925
the place described is essential in the issuance of search warrants to avoid the exercise by the
enforcing officers of discretion

In the present case, however, the search warrant merely stated that the address of the
defendant is at “Sitio San Miguel, Brgy. Duhat, Santa Cruz, Laguna”. What warrants in
determining the validity of a search is the place stated in the search warrant and not the free
thinking that the applicants had in mind or represented in the proof the submitted to the issuing
court.

The place to be searched cannot be changed, enlarged or amplified by the police. Absent
the meeting of the minds as to the place to be searched between the applicants for the warrant and
the Judge issuing the same; and what was done was to substitute for the place that the Judge had
written down in the warrant, the premises that the executing officers had in their mind. The place
to be searched, as set out in the warrant, cannot be amplified or modified by the officers own
personal knowledge of the premises, or the evidence they adduced in support of their application
for the warrant. Such a change is proscribed by the Constitution which requires inter alia the
search warrant to particularly describe the place to be searched as well as the persons or things to
be seized4.

Conclusion and Recommendation

The Constitution mandates a strict compliance with the rule on searches and seizures in
order to protect those who are alleged with their basic rights.

In this case, Edna can avail of the exclusionary rule where all the items seized during the
illegal search are prohibited from being used in evidence. Absent these items presented by the
prosecution, the conviction of accused-appellant for the crime charged loses its basis. Edna may
move to quash the evidence of the prosecution, by virtue of the exclusionary rule, wherein all the
items seized during the illegal search are prohibited from being used in evidence.

4
Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines v. Asuncion, G.R. No. 122092, May 19, 1999