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Case Title People v Doria

G.R. no. GR 125299

Main Topic Exempting Circumstances; Other Exculpatory Causes;
Other Related Topic
Date: January 22 , 1999


Members of the PNP Narcotics Command received information that one “ Jun” [Doria] was
engaged in illegal drug activities, so they decided to entrap and arrest him in a buy-bust
operation. He was arrested. They frisked him but did not find the marked bills on him, and
upon inquiry, he revealed that he left it at the house of his associate “ Neneth ” [Gaddao], so
he led the police team to her house.

The team found the door open and a woman inside the house. “ Jun” identified her
as “Neneth, ” and she was asked by SPO1 Badua about the marked money as PO3 Manlangit
looked over her house [he was still outside the house]. Standing by the door, PO3 Manlangit
noticed a carton box under the dining table. One of the box’ s flaps was open, and inside it was
something wrapped in plastic, and it appeared similar to the marijuana earlier sold to him
by “ Jun. ” His suspicion aroused, so he entered the house and took hold of the box. He peeked
inside the box and saw 10 bricks of what appeared to be dried marijuana leaves. SPO1 Badua
recovered the marked bills from “ Neneth ” and they arrested her. The bricks were examined
and they were found to be dried marijuana leaves.

Florencio Doria and Violeta Gaddao were charged with violation of RA 6425 [Dangerous
Drugs Act of 1972], Section 4 [Sale, Administration, Delivery, Distribution and
Transportation of Prohibited Drugs] in relation to Section 21 [Attempt and Conspiracy]. RTC
convicted them.
WON RTC correctly found that the box of marijuana was in plain view, making its warrantless
seizure valid.

No. Re: warrantless arrest
Gaddao ’s warrantless arrest was illegal because she was arrested solely on the basis of the
alleged identification made by Doria. Doria did not point to her as his associate in the drug
business, but as the person with whom he left the marked bills. This identification does not
necessarily mean that Gaddao conspired with Doria in pushing drugs. If there is no showing
that the person who effected the warrantless arrest had knowledge of facts implicating the
person arrested to the perpetration of the criminal offense, the arrest is legally objectionable.
Since the warrantless arrest of Gaddao was illegal, the search of her person and home
and the subsequent seizure of the marked bills and marijuana cannot be deemed legal as an
incident to her arrest.

“ Plain view ” issue

Objects falling in plain view of an officer who has a right to be in the position to have that
view are subject to seizure even without a search warrant and may be introduced in evidence.
1. The law enforcement officer in search of the evidence has a prior justification for an
intrusion or is in a position from which he can view a particular area
2. The discovery of the evidence in plain view is inadvertent
3. It is immediately apparent to the officer that the item he observes may be evidence of a
crime, contraband or otherwise subject to seizure

An object is in plain view if the object itself is plainly exposed to sight. The difficulty arises
when the object is inside a closed container. Where the object seized was inside a closed
package, the object itself is not in plain view and therefore cannot be seized without a
warrant. If the package is such that an experienced observer could infer from its appearance
that it contains the prohibited article, then the article is deemed in plain view. It must be
immediately apparent to the police that the items that they observe may be evidence of a
crime, contraband or otherwise subject to seizure.

In his direct examination, PO3 Manlangit said that he was sure that the contents of the box
were marijuana because he himself checked and marked the said contents. On cross-
examination, however, he admitted that he merely presumed the contents to be marijuana
because it had the same plastic wrapping as the “buy-bust marijuana.” Each of the ten bricks
of marijuana in the box was individually wrapped in old newspaper and placed inside plastic
bags– white, pink or blue in color. PO3 Manlangit himself admitted on cross-examination that
the contents of the box could be items other than marijuana. He did not know exactly what the
box contained that he had to ask appellant Gaddao about its contents. It was not immediately
apparent to PO3 Manlangit that the content of the box was marijuana; hence, it was not in
plain view and its seizure without the requisite search warrant was in violation of the law and
the Constitution. It was fruit of the poisonous tree and should have been excluded and never
considered by the trial court.

The fact that the box containing about 6 kilos of marijuana was found in Gaddao ’s house
Gaddao does not justify a finding that she herself is guilty of the crime charged.
In a prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs, what is material is the submission of proof
that the sale took place between the poseur-buyer and the seller and the presentation of the
drug as evidence in court.
 Prosecution established the fact that in consideration of the P1,600.00 he received, Doria
sold and delivered 970 grams of marijuana to PO3 Manlangit, the poseur-buyer
 Prosecution failed to prove that Gaddao conspired with accused-appellant Doria in the sale
of said drug