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PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ROEL ENCINADA, accused-appellant.

DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
In acquitting the appellant, the Court reiterates the constitutional proscription that evidence
(in this case, prohibited drugs) seized without a valid search warrant is inadmissible in any
proceeding. A yield of incriminating evidence will not legitimize an illegal search. Indeed, the
end never justifies the means.

FACTS:
At around 4 p.m. of May 20, 1992, SPO4 Nicolas Bolonia was in his house when he received a
tip from an informant that RoelEncinada would be arriving in Surigao City from Cebu City in the
morning of May 21, 1992 on board the M/V Sweet Pearl bringing with him marijuana. Bolonia
was then Chief of the Vice Control Squad of the Surigao City Police.
After receiving the tip, Bolonia notified the members of his team as well as his colleague.
Because the information came late, there was no more time to secure a search warrant.
In the early morning of May 21, 1992, Bolonia, Iligan and other police officers deployed
themselves to intercept Encinada. From their various positions, the police officers followed
Encinada immediately boarded a tricycle at Borromeo Street, still holding the plastic chairs. As
the tricycle slowly moved forward, Bolonia chased it and ordered the driver to stop after
identifying himself as a police officer. When the vehicle stopped, Bolinia identified himself to
Encinada and ordered him to alight from the tricycle. Bolonia asked Encinada to hand over the
plastic chairs, to which the latter complied. Bolonia examined it closely and smelled the peculiar
scent of marijuana. Making a small tear in the cellophane cover, Bolonia could see and smell
the what appeared to be marijuana, a prohibited drug. Encinada was brought to the central
police station.
Ruling of RTC - The trial court further emphasized that appellant was caught carrying
marijuana in flagrante delicto. Hence, the warrantless search following his lawful arrest was
valid and the marijuana obtained was admissible in evidence.

Issue:
1. Whether the evidence sufficiently shows the possession of marijuana by accused.
2. Whether there was a valid warrantless search upon the person of the accused

Ruling:
1.
Proof of ownership of the marijuana is not necessary in the prosecution of illegal drug
cases;it is sufficient that such drug is found in appellants possession.

2.
Generally, a search and seizure must be validated by a previously secured warrant;
otherwise, such search and seizure is subject to challenge. Any evidence obtained in violation
of this provision is legally inadmissible in evidence as a fruit of the poisonous tree. This principle
is covered by this exclusionary rule. This protection is based on the principle that, between a
citizen and the police, the magistrate stands as a mediator, nay, an authority clothed with power
to issue or refuse to issue search warrants or warrants of arrest.
The right against warrantless searches, however, is subject to legal and judicial exceptions,
as follows: (1) search incidental to a lawful arrest, (2) search of moving vehicles, (3) seizure in
plain view, (4) customs searches, and (5) waiver by the accused themselves of their right
against unreasonable search and seizure. In these cases, the search and seizure may be made
only upon probable cause as the essential requirement. Although the term eludes exact
definition, probable cause signifies existence of such facts and circumstances which could lead
a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed and that
the item(s), article(s) or object(s) sought in connection with said offense or subject to seizure
and destruction by law is in the place to be searched.
The trial judge opined that appellant was caught in flagrante delicto at the time of his
arrest. Hence, it concluded that the warrantless search conducted after his lawful arrest was
valid and that the marijuana was admissible in evidence. In this case, appellant was not
committing a crime in the presence of the Surigao City policemen. Moreover, the lawmen did
not have personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested had committed
an offense. The search cannot be said to be merely incidental to a lawful arrest. Raw
intelligence information is not a sufficient ground for a warrantless arrest. Bolonias testimony
shows that the search preceded the arrest: The prosecutions evidence did not show any
suspicious behavior when the appellant disembarked from the ship or while he rode
the motorela.
While in principle we agree that consent will validate an otherwise illegal search, we believe that
appellant -- based on the transcript quoted above -- did not voluntarily consent to Bolonias
search of his belongings. Appellants 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.

Marcelo v. Sandiganbayan
G.R. No. 109242, January 26, 1999
Facts:
On February 10, 1989, Jacinto Merete, a letter carrier in the Makati Central Post Office,
disclosed to his chief, Projecto Tumagan, the existence of a group responsible for the pilferage
of mail matter in the post office. Among those mentioned by Merete were Arnold Pasicolan, an
emergency laborer assigned as a bag opener in the Printed Matters Section, and Redentor
Aguinaldo, a mail sorter of the Makati Post Office. For this reason, Tumagan sought the aid of
the National Bureau of Investigation in apprehending the group responsible for mail pilferage in
the Makati Post Office.
On February 17, 1989, NBI Director Salvador Ranin dispatched NBI agents to Legaspi Village
following a report that the group would stage a theft of mail matter on that day. Tumagan
accompanied a team of NBI agents composed of Senior Agent Arles Vela and two other agents
in a private car.
At 2:00 p.m., a postal delivery jeep, driven by one Henry Orindai, was parked in front of the
Esguerra Building on Adelantado Street. Pasicolan alighted from the jeep bringing with him a
mail bag. Upon reaching Amorsolo St., Pasicolan gave the mail bag to two persons, who were
later identified as Ronnie Romero and petitioner Lito Marcelo. The latter transferred the contents
of the mail bag to a travelling bag. Meanwhile, the NBI team led by agent Vela, upon seeing
Pasicolan going towards Amorsolo St., moved their car and started towards Amorsolo St. They
were just in time to see Pasicolan handing over the mail bag to Marcelo and Romero. At that
point, Atty. Sacaguing and Arles Vela arrested the two accused. The NBI agents followed the
postal delivery jeep, overtook it, and arrested Pasicolan.
The NBI agents brought Pasicolan, Marcelo, and Romero to their headquarters.
Romero, Marcelo, and Pasicolan were asked to affix their signatures on the envelopes of
the letters. They did so in the presence of the members of the NBI Administrative and
Investigative Staff and the people transacting business with the NBI at that time. According to
Director Ranin, they required the accused to do this in order to identify the letters as the very
same letters confiscated from them.
A case for qualified theft was filed before the Sandiganbayan wherein the accused were
declared guilty.
Issue(s):
Whether or not the letters signed by the petitioner were inadmissible as evidence.
Held:
The Supreme Court held that the letters were valid evidence. It is known that during
custodial investigation, a person has the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Any
admission or confession made in the absence of counsel is inadmissible as evidence.
Furthermore, no person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. In the instant case,
even though the petitioner was asked to sign the letters, the letters are still admissible as
evidence because the accused was convicted not only by means of these letters but also
by testimonies made by the NBI agents. Moreover, the Supreme Court held that the letters
were validly seized as an incident of a valid arrest and therefore can stand on their own.
The decision of the Sandiganbayan is affirmed.

People vs. Valdez

FACTS:

Abe Valdez y Dela Cruz, accused-appellant, is charged for violating Section 9 of the Dangerous
Drugs Act of 1972 (R.A. No. 6425), as amended by R.A. No. 7659. The accused was allegedly
caught in flagrante delicto and without authority of law, planted, cultivated and cultured seven
(7) fully grown marijuana plants known as Indian Hemp from which dangerous drugs maybe
manufactured or derived. Appellant was arraigned and with assistance of counsel, pleaded not
guilty to the charge. Trial on the merits then ensued.

The prosecution presented its witnesses, namely: SPO3 Marcelo Tipay, SPO2 Noel V. Libunao,
SPO2 Pedro S. Morales, SPO1 Romulo G. Tobias and PO2 Alfelmer I. Balut, all member of the
police force, who testified how the information was received, the commencement of their
operation and its details under the specific instruction of Inspector Parungao. Accordingly, they
found appellant alone in his nipa hut. They, then, proceeded to look around the area where
appellant had his kaingin and saw seven (7) five-foot high, flowering marijuana plants in two
rows, approximately 25 meters away from his nipa hut. PO2 Balut asked appellant who owned
the prohibited plants and, according to Balut, the latter admitted that they were his. They
uprooted the seven marijuana plants, took photos of appellant standing beside the cannabis
plants and arrested him. One of the said plants was sent to the Philippine National Police Crime
Laboratory for analysis which produced a positive result. The prosecution also presented a
certification from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that the land cultivated
by appellant where the growing marijuana plants were found, was part of the public domain.
Appellant was acknowledged in the certification as the occupant of the lot, but no Certificate of
Stewardship had yet been issued in his favor.

The defense presented appellant as its sole witness. He testified he was weeding his vegetable
farm when he was called by a person whose identity he does not know. He was asked to go
with the latter to see something. This unknown person then brought appellant to the place
where the marijuana plants were found, approximately 100 meters away from his nipa hut. Five
armed policemen were present and they made him stand in front of the hemp plants. He was
then asked if he knew anything about the marijuana growing there. When he denied any
knowledge thereof, SPO2 Libunao poked a fist at him and told him to admit ownership of the
plants. Appellant was so nervous and afraid that he admitted owning the marijuana. The police
team then brought him to the police station at Villaverde. At the police headquarters, appellant
reiterated that he knew nothing about the marijuana plants seized by the police. Appellant
contends that there was unlawful search. First, the records show that the law enforcers had
more than ample time to secure a search warrant. Second, that the marijuana plants were found
in an unfenced lot does not remove appellant from the mantle of protection against
unreasonable searches and seizures. The right against unreasonable searches and seizures is
the immunity of one’s person, which includes his residence, his papers, and other possessions.

ISSUE:

(1) Whether or not the search and seizure of the marijuana plants in the present case is lawful
and the seized evidence admissible.

(2) Whether or not the seized plants is admissible in evidence against the accused.

(3) Whether or not the prosecution has proved appellant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

(4) Whether or not the sentence of death by lethal injection is correct.

HELD:

In the instant case, there was no search warrant issued by a judge after personal determination
of the existence of probable cause given the fact that police had ample time to obtain said
warrant. The protection against illegal search and seizure is constitutionally mandated and only
under specific instances are searches allowed without warrants. The mantle of protection
extended by the Bill of Rights covers both innocent and guilty alike against any form of high-
handedness of law enforcers, regardless of the praiseworthiness of their intentions.

With respect to the first issue, the confiscated plants were evidently obtained during an illegal
search and seizure. As to the second issue, which involves the admissibility of the marijuana
plants as evidence for the prosecution, the said plants cannot, as products of an unlawful
search and seizure, be used as evidence against appellant. They are fruits of the proverbial
poisoned tree. It was, therefore, a reversible error on the part of the court a quo to have
admitted and relied upon the seized marijuana plants as evidence to convict appellant.

In the third issue, it is fundamental in criminal prosecutions that before an accused may be
convicted of a crime, the prosecution must establish by proof beyond reasonable doubt that a
crime was committed and that the accused is the author thereof. The evidence arrayed against
the accused, however, must not only stand the test of reason, it must likewise be credible and
competent. Competent evidence is “generally admissible” evidence. Admissible evidence, in
turn, is evidence “of such a character that the court or judge is bound to receive it, that is, allow
it to be introduced at trial. And as earlier discussed, it was error on the trial court’s part to have
admitted evidences against the accused and to have relied upon said proofs to convict him for
said evidence is doubly tainted.
In the fourth issue, the Constitution decrees that, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall
be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved.” To justify the conviction of the accused, the
prosecution must adduce that quantum of evidence sufficient to overcome the constitutional
presumption of innocence. The prosecution must stand or fall on its evidence and cannot draw
strength from the weakness of the evidence for the accused. Absent the required degree of
proof of an accused’s guilt, he is entitled to an acquittal.

PEOPLE v. SALANGUIT

Facts: Two criminal cases were filed against Salanguit, the first for possession/use of shabu,
and the second, for possession/use of marijuana. Sr. Insp. Aguilar applied in the RTC of Cavite
a warrant to search the premises of Robert Salanguit for shabu and shabu paraphernalias. He
presented as a witness Edmund Badua, an undercover officer, which transacted with Salanguit
for the purchase of shabu.

The application was granted and the team of Aguilar proceeded to the premises of Salanguit in
QC to serve the warrant. The operatives proceeded to knock on Salanguit’s door but the same
was left unanswered. The operatives heard people panicking inside the house and they began
to force their way inside the house. They indicated their authority to conduct the search and
began which yielded to the finding of clear plastic bags with shabu and 2 bricks of dried
marijuana leaves covered in newspaper.

Salanguit refused to sign the receipt for the confiscated drugs. During his arraignment, he
pleaded not guilty and in the trial court, he gave stated that he never got the chance to review
the purported warrant that Aguilar and his team has. He further stated that the operatives ate
their food and took his cash and valuable, as well as canned goods. The RTC found him guilty
for possession/use of shabu and marijuana. Salanguit appealed the said decision and argues
that the shabu allegedly recovered from his residence is inadmissible as evidence against him
on the ground that the warrant used to obtain it was invalid and that the marijuana seized from
him was also inadmissible as evidence against him pursuant to the plain view doctrine, and that
the operatives employed unnecessary force in executing the warrant.

Issues:
1. W/N the warrant used to seize the shabu was valid and the said shabu was inadmissible in
evidence against him.
2. W/N the marijuana seized was admissible in evidence against Salanguit pursuant to plain
view doctrine.

Held:
1. Yes, all the requisites for the issuance of a search warrant were satisfied.
2. No, the marijuana was not one of the drugs indicated in the warrant and it was not in
plain view when it was seized.

Ratio:
1. The warrant authorized the seizure of undetermined quantity of shabu and drug
paraphernalia.Salanguit contends that it should be void as it did not indicate the existence of
drug paraphernalias. The warrant was valid as to the seizure of shabu and void as to the
seizure of drug paraphernalia. It is to be noted that no drug paraphernalia was seized. Salanguit
further contends that the warrant was issued for more than one specific offense because
possession or uses are punished under two different provisions in the Dangerous Drugs Act.
This Court has decided in the case of People v Dichoso that a warrant that does not specify
what provisions of the law were violated, is valid as to the authority to search and seize
marijuana, shabu and drug paraphernalias. Lastly, Salanguit argues that the search warrant
failed to indicate the place to be searched with sufficient particularity. The rule is that a
description of the place to be searched is sufficient if the officer with the warrant can, with
reasonable effort, ascertain and identify the place to be searched. The location of Salanguit’s
house being indicated by the evidence on record, there can be no doubt that the warrant
described the place to be searched with sufficient particularity.

2. Because the location of the shabu was indicated in the warrant and thus known to the police
operatives, it is reasonable to assume that the police found the packets and shabu first. Once
the valid portion of the search warrant has been executed, the plain view doctrine can no longer
provide basis for admitting the other items subsequently found. The marijuana bricks were
wrapped in newsprint. There was no apparent illegality to justify their seizure. Not being in a
transparent container, the contents wrapped in newsprint could not have been readily
discernible as marijuana. That being said, we hold that the marijuana is inadmissible in
evidence against Salanguit.

Roldan vs Arca
65 SCRA 336

FACTS:

Respondent company filed a case against Fisheries Commissioner Arsenio N. Roldan, Jr.
for the recovery of fishing vessel Tony Lex VI which had been seized and impounded
by petitioner Fisheries Commissioner through the Philippine Nay. The CFI Manila granted it,
thus respondent company took to possession of the vessel Tony Lex VI. Petitioner requested the
Philippine Navy to apprehended vessels Tony Lex VI and Tony Lex III, also respectively
called Srta. Winnie and Srta. Agnes, for alleged violations of some provisions of the
Fisheries Act. On August 5, or 6, 1965, the two fishing boats were actually seized for
illegal fishing with dynamite.

ISSUE:WON the seizure of the vessel, its equipment and dynamites therein was valid.

DECISION:

The seizure of the vessel, its equipment and dynamites was valid.

Search and seizure of vessels and aircraft without search warrant for violations of the
customs laws have been traditional exception to the constitutional requirement of a
search warrant because, the vessel can be quickly moved out of the locality and jurisdiction in
which the search warrant must be sough before such search or seizure can be
constitutionality effected. The same exception should apply to the seizures of fishing
vessels breaching our fishery laws. They are usually equipped with powerful motors that
enable them to elude pursuing ships of the Philippine Navy or Coast Guard.

Another exception to the constitutional requirement of a search warrant for a valid


search and seizure, is a search or seizure as an incident to a lawful arrest. Under our Rules
of Court, a police officer or a private individual may, without warrant, arrest a person a)
who has committed, is actually committing or is about the commit an offense which has
been actually committed; b)who is reasonably believed to have committed the offense
which has been actually committed; o r c ) w h o i s d e t e n t i o n p r i s o n e r w h o h a s
e s c a p e d f r o m c o n f i n e m e n t w h i l e s e r v i n g f i n a l judgment or from temporary
detention during pendency of his case or while being transferred from one confinement to
another. In the case at bar, the members of the two vessels were caught in flagrante
illegally fishing with dynamite and without the requisite license. Thus, their apprehension
without a warrant of arrest while committing a crime is lawful. Consequently, the seizure of
the vessel, its equipment and dynamites therein was equally valid as an incident to a lawful
arrest.

PADILLA vs CA

Facts: Padilla figured in a hit and run accident in Oct 26, 1992. He was
later on apprehended with the help of a civilian witness. Upon arrest
following high powered firearms were found in his possession:

1. .357 caliber revolver with 6 live ammunition

2. M-16 Baby Armalite magazine with ammo

3. .380 pietro beretta with 8 ammo

4. 6 live double action ammo of .38 caliber revolver

Padilla claimed papers of guns were at home. His arrest for hit and run
incident modified to include grounds of Illegal Possession of firearms. He
had no papers. On Dec. 3, 1994, Padilla was found guilty of Illegal
Possession of Firearms under PD 1866 by the RTC of Angeles City. He was
convicted and sentenced to an indeterminate penalty from 17 years. 4 months,
1 day of reclusion temporal as minimum to 21 years of reclusion perpetua as
maximum. The Court of Appeals confirmed decision and cancelled bailbond. RTC
of Angeles City was directed to issue order of arrest. Motion for
reconsideration was denied by Court of Appeals. Padilla filed lots of other
petitions and all of a sudden, the Solicitor General made a complete
turnaround and filed “Manifestation in Lieu of Comment” praying for acquittal
(nabayaran siguro).

ISSUE:

1. WARRANTLESS ARREST: WON his was illegal and consequently, the


firearms and ammunitions taken in the course thereof are inadmissible in
evidence under the exclusionary rule

HELD: No. Anent the first defense, petitioner questions the legality of his
arrest. There is no dispute that no warrant was issued for the arrest of
petitioner, but that per se did not make his apprehension at the Abacan
Bridge illegal. Warrantless arrests are sanctioned in Sec. 5, Rule 113 of the
Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure—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. When caught in flagrante delicto with possession of an unlicensed
firearm and ammo, petitioner’s warrantless arrest was proper since he was
actually committing another offence in the presence of all those officers.
There was no supervening event or a considerable lapse of time between the
hit and run and the actual apprehension. Because arrest was legal, the pieces
of evidence are admissible.

Instances when warrantless search and seizure of property is valid:

Seizure of evidence in “plain view,” elements of which are (a) prior


valid intrusion based on valid warrantless arrest in which police are legally
present in pursuit of official duties, (b) evidence inadvertedly discovered
by police who had the right to be there, (c) evidence immediately apparent,
and (d) plain view justified mere seizure of evidence without further search
(People v. Evaristo: objects whose possession are prohibited by law
inadvertedly found in plain view are subject to seizure even without a
warrant)

Search of moving vehicle

Warrantless search incidental to lawful arrest recognized under


section 12, Rule 126 of Rules of Court and by prevailing jurisprudence where
the test of incidental search (not excluded by exclusionary rule) is that
item to be searched must be within arrestee’s custody or area of immediate
control and search contemporaneous with arrest.

Petitioner would nonetheless insist on the illegality of his arrest by


arguing that the policemen who actually arrested him were not at the scene of
the hit and run. The court begs to disagree. It is a reality that curbing
lawlessness gains more success when law enforcers function in collaboration
with private citizens. Furthermore, in accordance with settled jurisprudence,
any objection, defect or irregularity attending an arrest must be made before
the accused enters his plea.

2. LICENSE TO CARRY: WON the petitioner is authorized, under a


Mission Order and Memorandum Receipt, to carry the subject firearms

No. In crimes involving illegal possession of firearm, two requisites must be


established, viz.: (1) the existence of the subject firearm and, (2) the fact
that the accused who owned or possessed the firearm does not have the
corresponding license or permit to possess. The first element is beyond
dispute as the subject firearms and ammunitions were seized from petitioner’s
possession via a valid warrantless search, identified and offered in evidence
during trial. As to the second element, the same was convincingly proven by
the prosecution. Indeed, petitioner’s purported Mission Order and Memorandum
Receipt are inferior in the face of the more formidable evidence for the
prosecution as our meticulous review of the records reveals that the Mission
Order and Memorandum Receipt were mere afterthoughts contrived and issued
under suspicious circumstances. On this score, we lift from respondent
court’s incisive observation. Furthermore, the Memorandum Receipt is also
unsupported by a certification as required by the March 5, 1988 Memorandum of
the Secretary of Defense. Petitioner is not in the Plantilla of Non-Uniform
personnel or in list of Civilian Agents of Employees of the PNP, which would
justify issuance of mission order (as stated in PD 1866). Lastly, the M-16
and any short firearms higher than 0.38 caliber cannot be licensed to a
civilian.

3. PENALTY: WON penalty for simple illegal possession constitutes


excessive and cruel punishment proscribed by the 1987 Constitution

Anent his third defense, petitioner faults respondent court “in applying P.D.
1866 in a democratic ambience (sic) and a non-subversive context” and adds
that respondent court should have applied instead the previous laws on
illegal possession of firearms since the reason for the penalty imposed under
P.D. 1866 no longer exists. He stresses that the penalty of 17 years and 4
months to 21 years for simple illegal possession of firearm is cruel and
excessive in contravention of the Constitution.

The contentions do not merit serious consideration. The trial court and the
respondent court are bound to apply the governing law at the time of
appellant’s commission of the offense for it is a rule that laws are repealed
only by subsequent ones. Indeed, it is the duty of judicial officers to
respect and apply the law as it stands. And until its repeal, respondent
court can not be faulted for applying P.D. 1866 which abrogated the previous
statutes adverted to by petitioner.

Equally lacking in merit is appellant’s allegation that the penalty for


simple illegal possession is unconstitutional. The penalty for simple
possession of firearm, it should be stressed, ranges from reclusion temporal
maximum to reclusion perpetua contrary to appellant’s erroneous averment. The
severity of a penalty does not ipso facto make the same cruel and excessive.

Moreover, every law has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality.


The burden of proving the invalidity of the statute in question lies with the
appellant which burden, we note, was not convincingly discharged. To justify
nullification of the law, there must be a clear and unequivocal breach of the
Constitution, not a doubtful and argumentative implication, as in this case.
In fact, the constitutionality of P.D. 1866 has been upheld twice by this
Court. Just recently, the Court declared that “the pertinent laws on illegal
possession of firearms [are not] contrary to any provision of the
Constitution…” Appellant’s grievances on the wisdom of the prescribed penalty
should not be addressed to us. Courts are not concerned with the wisdom,
efficacy or morality of laws. That question falls exclusively within the
province of Congress which enacts them and the Chief Executive who approves
or vetoes them. The only function of the courts, we reiterate, is to
interpret and apply the laws

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision of the CA sustaining


petitioner’s conviction by the lower court of the crime of simple illegal
possession of firearms & ammunitions is AFFIRMED EXCEPT that petitioner’s
indeterminate penalty is MODIFIED to “10 yrs & 1 day, as min. to 18 yrs, 8
months & 1 day, as maximum.

People v. Simon Doctrine: Although PD 1866 is a special law, the penalties


therein were taken from the RPC, hence the rules in said code for graduating
by degrees of determining the proper period should be applied.
RICARDO C. VALMONTE vs. GEN. RENATO DE VILLA

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.