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THIRD DIVISION In his arraignment, Saraum, with the assistance of a counsel, pleaded not guilty to the

offense charged.5 Trial ensued. Meantime, Saraum was released on bail.6

G.R. No. 205472 January 25, 2016
PO3 Jeffrey Larrobis and PO1 Romeo Jumalon testified for the prosecution while the
AMADO I. SARAUM, Petitioner, defense presented no witness other than Saraum.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. According to the prosecution, on August 17, 2006, a telephone call was received by PO3
Larrobis regarding the illegal drug activities in Sitio Camansi, Barangay Lorega, Cebu City.
DECISION A buy-bust team was then formed composed of PO3 Larrobis, PO1 Jumalon, PO2 Nathaniel
Sta. Ana, PO1 Roy Cabahug, and PO1 Julius Aniñon against a certain "Pata." PO2 Sta. Ana
was designated as the poseur-buyer accompanied by the informant, PO1 Jumalon as the
back-up of PO2 Sta. Ana, and the rest of the team as the perimeter security. PO1 Aniñon
coordinated with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) regarding the operation.
This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court (Rules) seeks to After preparing all the necessary documents, such as the pre-operation report and submitting
reverse the Decision2dated September 8, 2011 and Resolution3 elated December 19, 2012 the same to the PDEA, the team proceeded to the subject area.
of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CAG. R. CEB CR No. 01199, which affirmed the judgment of
conviction against petitioner Amado I. Saraum (Saraum) rendered by the Regional Trial
During the operation, "Pata" eluded arrest as he tried to run towards his shanty. Inside the
Court (RTC), Branch 57, Cebu City, in Criminal Case No. CBU-77737.
house, which was divided with a curtain as partition, the buy-bust team also saw Saraum
and Peter Esperanza, who were holding drug paraphernalia apparently in preparation to
Saraum was charged with violation of Section 12, Article II (Possession of Paraphernalia for have a "shabu" pot session. They recovered from Saraum’s possession a lighter, rolled
Dangerous Drugs) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs tissue paper, and aluminum tin foil (tooter). PO3 Larrobis confiscated the items, placed them
Act of 2002. The accusatory portion of the Information reads: in the plastic pack of misua wrapper, and made initial markings ("A" for Saraum and "P" for
Esperanza). At the police station, PO3 Larrobis marked as "AIS-08-17-2006" the
That on or about the 17th day of August, 2006, at about 12:45 A.M., in the City of Cebu, paraphernalia recovered from Saraum. After the case was filed, the subject items were
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, with turned over to the property custodian of the Office of City Prosecutor.
deliberate intent, and without being authorized by law, did then and there have in his
possession the following: By way of defense, Saraum denied the commission of the alleged offense. He testified that
on the date and time in question, he was passing by Lorega Cemetery on his way to the
1 = One (1) lighter house of his parents-in-law when he was held by men with firearms. They were already with
"Antik" and "Pata," both of whom were his neighbors. Believing that he had not committed
2 = One (1) rolled tissue paper anything illegal, he resisted the arrest. He learned of the criminal charge only when he was
brought to the court.
3 = One (1) aluminum tin foil
On May 5, 2009, the RTC rendered its Decision,7 the dispositive portion of which states:
which are instruments and/or equipments (sic) fit or intended for smoking, consuming,
administering, ingesting, or introducing any dangerous drug into the body. WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
violation of Section 12, Article II of R.A. 9165 and he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty
CONTRARY TO LAW.4 of six (6) months and one (1) day to two (2) years and to pay a fine of Php20,000.00 with
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.
The drug paraphernalias (sic) are ordered forfeited in favor of the government. lawful uses." On the contrary, the prosecution witnesses have adequately explained the
respective uses of the items to prove that they were indeed drug paraphernalia. 14 There is,
SO ORDERED.8 thus, no necessity to make a laboratory examination and finding as to the presence or
absence of methamphetamine hydrochloride or any illegal substances on said items since
possession itself is the punishable act.
On appeal, the CA sustained the judgment of conviction; hence, this petition.

The valid warrantless arrest gave the officers the right to search the shanty for objects
We deny.
relating to the crime and seize the drug paraphernalia they found.1âwphi1 In the course of
their lawful intrusion, they inadvertently saw the various drug paraphernalia. As these items
Considering that Saraum failed to show any arbitrariness, palpable error, or capriciousness were plainly visible, the police officers were justified in seizing them. Considering that
on the findings of fact of the trial and appellate courts, such findings deserve great weight Saraum’s arrest was legal, the search and seizure that resulted from it were likewise lawful.
and are deemed conclusive and binding.9 Besides, a review of the records reveals that the The various drug paraphernalia that the police officers found and seized in the shanty are,
CA did not err in affirming his conviction. therefore, admissible in evidence for having proceeded from a valid search and seizure.
Since the confiscated drug paraphernalia are the very corpus delicti of the crime charged,
The elements of illegal possession of equipment, instrument, apparatus and other the Court has no choice but to sustain the judgment of conviction.
paraphernalia for dangerous drugs under Section 12, Article II of R.A. No. 9165 are: (1)
possession or control by the accused of any equipment, apparatus or other paraphernalia fit Even if We consider the arrest as invalid, Saraum is deemed to have waived any objection
or intended for smoking, consuming, administering, injecting, ingesting, or introducing any thereto when he did not raise the issue before entering his plea. "The established rule is that
dangerous drug into the body; and (2) such possession is not authorized by law. 10 In this an accused may be estopped from assailing the legality of his arrest if he failed to move for
case, the prosecution has convincingly established that Saraum was in possession of drug the quashing of the Information against him before his arraignment. Any objection involving
paraphernalia, particularly aluminum tin foil, rolled tissue paper, and lighter, all of which were the arrest or the procedure in the court's acquisition of jurisdiction over the person of an
offered and admitted in evidence. accused must be made before he enters his plea; otherwise the objection is deemed
waived."15 In this case, counsel for Saraum manifested its objection to the admission of the
Saraum was arrested during the commission of a crime, which instance does not require a seized drug paraphernalia, invoking illegal arrest and search, only during the formal offer of
warrant in accordance with Section 5 (a), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal evidence by the prosecution.16
Procedure.11 In arrest in flagrante delicto, the accused is apprehended at the very moment
he is committing or attempting to commit or has just committed an offense in the presence In ascertaining the identity of the illegal drugs and/or drug paraphernalia presented in court
of the arresting officer. To constitute a valid in flagrante delicto arrest, two requisites must as the ones actually seized from the accused, the prosecution must show that: (a) the
concur: (1) the person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has just prescribed procedure under Section 21(1), Article II of R.A. No. 9165 has been complied with
committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (2) such overt act or falls within the saving clause provided in Section 21(a), Article II of the Implementing Rules
is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.12 and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. No. 9165;17 and (b) there was an unbroken link (not perfect
link) in the chain of custody with respect to the confiscated items.18
Here, the Court is unconvinced with Saraum’s statement that he was not committing a crime
at the time of his arrest. PO3 Larrobis described in detail how they were able to apprehend Although Section 21(1) of R.A. No. 9165 mandates that the apprehending team must
him, who was then holding a disposable lighter in his right hand and a tin foil and a rolled immediately conduct a physical inventory of the seized items and photograph them, non-
tissue paper in his left hand,13 while they were in the course of arresting somebody. The case compliance therewith is not fatal as long as there is a justifiable ground and as long as the
is clearly one of hot pursuit of "Pata," who, in eluding arrest, entered the shanty where integrity and the evidentiary value of the confiscated/seized items are properly preserved by
Saraum and Esperanza were incidentally caught in possession of the illegal items. Saraum the apprehending team.19 While nowhere in the prosecution evidence show the "justifiable
did not proffer any satisfactory explanation with regard to his presence at the vicinity of the ground" which may excuse the police operatives involved in the buy-bust operation from
buy-bust operation and his possession of the seized items that he claims to have "countless,
making the physical inventory and taking a photograph of the drug paraphernalia confiscated Section 21(1), Article II of R.A. No. 9165 does not necessarily render an accused person's
and/or seized, such omission shall not render Saraum's arrest illegal or the items arrest illegal or the items seized or confiscated from him inadmissible.25
seized/confiscated from him as inadmissible in evidence. Said "justifiable ground" will remain
unknown in the light of the apparent failure of Saraum to specifically challenge the custody x x x Under Section 3 of Rule 128 of the Rules of Court, evidence is admissible when it is
and safekeeping or the issue of disposition and preservation of the subject drug relevant to the issue and is not excluded by the law or these rules. For evidence to be
paraphernalia before the trial court. He cannot be allowed too late in the day to question the inadmissible, there should be a law or rule which forbids its reception. If there is no such law
police officers' alleged non-compliance with Section 21 for the first time on appeal.20 or rule, the evidence must be admitted subject only to the evidentiary weight that will be
accorded it by the courts. x x x
The chain of custody rule requires the identification of the persons who handled the
confiscated items for the purpose of duly monitoring the authorized movements of the illegal We do not find any provision or statement in said law or in any rule that will bring about the
drugs and/or drug paraphernalia from the time they were seized from the accused until the non-admissibility of the confiscated and/or seized drugs due to non-compliance with Section
time they are presented in court.21 Section 1(b) of Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 21 of Republic Act No. 9165. The issue therefore, if there is non-compliance with said
1, Series of 2002, implementing R.A. No. 9165, defines chain of custody as follows: section, is not of admissibility, but of weight - evidentiary merit or probative value - to be
given the evidence. The weight to be given by the courts on said evidence depends on the
Chain of Custody means the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized circumstances obtaining in each case.26
drugs or controlled chemicals or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment
of each stage, from the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory to The most important factor is the preservation of the integrity and evidentiary value of the
safekeeping to presentation in court for destruction. Such record of movements and custody seized items.27 In this case, the prosecution was able to demonstrate that the integrity and
of seized item shall include the identity and signature of the person who held temporary evidentiary value of the confiscated drug paraphernalia had not been compromised because
custody of the seized item, the date and time when such transfer of custody were made in it established the crucial link in the chain of custody of the seized items from the time they
the course of safekeeping and use in court as evidence, and the final disposition. were first discovered until they were brought to the court for examination. Even though the
prosecution failed to submit in evidence the physical inventory and photograph of the drug
In Mallillin v. People,22 the Court discussed how the chain of custody of seized items should paraphernalia, this will not render Saraum's arrest illegal or the items seized from him
be established, thus: inadmissible. There is substantial compliance by the police as to the required procedure on
the custody and control of the confiscated items. The succession of events established by
As a method of authenticating evidence, the chain of custody rule requires that the admission evidence and the overall handling of the seized items by specified individuals all show that
of an exhibit be preceded by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in the evidence seized were the same evidence subsequently identified and testified to in open
question is what the proponent claims it to be. It would include testimony about every link in court.
the chain, from the moment the item was picked up to the time it is offered into evidence, in
such a way that every person who touched the exhibit would describe how and from whom Certainly, the testimonies of the police officers who conducted the buy-bust operation are
it was received, where it was and what happened to it while in the witness’ possession, the generally accorded full faith and credit in view of the presumption of regularity in the
condition in which it was received and the condition in which it was delivered to the next link performance of official duties and especially so in the absence of ill-motive that could be
in the chain. These witnesses would then describe the precautions taken to ensure that there attributed to them.28 The defense failed to show any odious intent on the part of the police
had been no change in the condition of the item and no opportunity for someone not in the officers to impute such a serious crime that would put in jeopardy the life and liberty of an
chain to have possession of the same.23 innocent person.29 Saraum’s mere denial cannot prevail over the positive and categorical
identification and declarations of the police officers. The defense of denial, frame-up or
While the procedure on the chain of custody should be perfect and unbroken, in reality, it is extortion, like alibi, has been invariably viewed by the courts with disfavor for it can easily be
almost always impossible to obtain an unbroken chain.24 Thus, failure to strictly comply with concocted and is a common and standard defense ploy in most cases involving violation of
the Dangerous Drugs Act.30 As evidence that is both negative and self-serving, this defense
cannot attain more credibility than the testimonies of prosecution witnesses who testify
clearly, providing thereby positive evidence on the various aspects of the crime
committed.31 To merit consideration, it has to be substantiated by strong, clear and
convincing evidence, which Saraum failed to do for presenting no corroborative evidence. 32

Settled is the rule that, unless some facts or circumstances of weight and influence have
been overlooked or the significance of which has been misinterpreted, the findings and
conclusion of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses are entitled to great respect and
will not be disturbed because it has the advantage of hearing the witnesses and observing
their deportment and manner of testifying.33 The rule finds an even more stringent application
where said findings are sustained by the CA as in this case.34 In this case, the quantum of
evidence necessary to prove Saraum 's guilt beyond reasonable doubt had been sufficiently
met since the prosecution stood on its own strength and did not rely on the weakness of the
defense. 'The prosecution was able to overcome the constitutional right of the accused to be
presumed innocent until proven guilty.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The Decision elated

September 8, 2011 and Resolution dated December 19, 2012 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CEB CR No. 01199, which sustained the judgment of conviction rendered by the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 57, Cebu City, in Criminal Case No. CBU-77737, is AFFIRMED.

Republic of the Philippines According to the prosecution, at around 10 o'clock in the evening of July 30, 2003, Agent
SUPREME COURT Eduardo Radan (Agent Radan) of the NARCOTICS group and P03 Bienvy Calag II (P03
Manila Calag) were aboard a motorcycle, patrolling the area while on their way to visit a friend at
Private Road, Barangay Hulo, Mandaluyong City. Cruising at a speed of 30 kilometers per
FIRST DIVISION hour along Private Road, they spotted, at a distance of about 10 meters, two (2) men - later
identified as Comerciante and a certain Erick Dasilla 7 (Dasilla) - standing and showing
"improper and unpleasant movements," with one of them handing plastic sachets to the
G.R. No. 205926 July 22, 2015
other. Thinking that the sachets may contain shabu, they immediately stopped and
approached Comerciante and Dasilla At a distance of around five (5) meters, P03 Calag
ALVIN COMERCIANTE y GONZALES, Petitioner, introduced himself as a police officer, arrested Comerciante and Dasilla, and confiscated two
vs. (2) plastic sachets containing white crystalline substance from them. A laboratory
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. examination later confirmed that said sachets contained methamphetamine hydrochloride or
shabu. 8
After the prosecution rested its case, Dasilla filed a demurrer to evidence, which was granted
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: by the RTC, thus his acquittal. However, due to Comerciante's failure to file his own demurrer
to evidence, the RTC considered his right to do so waived and ordered him to present his
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari1 are the Decision 2 dated October 20, 2011 evidence.9
and the Resolution 3dated February 19, 2013 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR
No. 32813, which affirmed in toto the Judgment 4dated July 28, 2009 of the Regional Trial In his defense, Comerciante averred that P03 Calag was looking for a certain "Barok", who
Court of Mandaluyong City, Branch 213 (RTC) in Crim. Case No. MC-03-7242-D convicting was a notorious drug pusher in the area, when suddenly, he and Dasilla, who were just
petitioner Alvin Comerciante y Gonzales (Comerciante) of the crime of illegal Possession of standing in front of a jeepney along Private Road, were arrested and taken to a police station.
Dangerous Drugs defined and penalized under Section 11, Article II of Republic Act No. (RA) There, the police officers claimed to have confiscated illegal drugs from them and were asked
9165, 5 otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. money in exchange for their release. When they failed to accede to the demand, they were
brought to another police station to undergo inquest proceedings, and thereafter, were
The Facts charged with illegal possession of dangerous drugs. 10

On July 31, 2003, an Information was filed before the RTC charging Comerciante of violation The RTC Ruling
of Section 11, Article II of RA 9165, to wit:
In. a Judgment 11 dated July 28, 2009, the RTC found Comerciante guilty beyond reasonable
That on or about the 30th day of July 2003, in the City of Mandaluyong, Philippines, a place doubt of violation of Section 11, Article II of RA 9165, and accordingly, sentenced him to
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not having been suffer the penalty of imprisonment for twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years,
lawfully authorized to possess any dangerous drugs, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and ordered him to pay a fine in the amount of ₱300,000.00.12
and feloniously and knowingly have in his possession, custody and control Two (2) heat-
sealed transparent plastic sachet (sic) each containing 0.15 gram (sic) and 0.28 gram (sic) The R TC found that P03 Calag conducted a valid warrantless arrest on Comerciante, which
of white crystalline substance with a total of 0.43 grams which was found positive to the test yielded two (2) plastic sachets containing shabu. In this relation, the R TC opined that there
for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride commonly known as "shabu", a dangerous drug. was probable cause to justify the warrantless arrest, considering that P03 Calag saw, in plain
view, that Comerciante was carrying the said sachets when he decided to approach and
CONTRARY TO LA W. 6 apprehend the latter. Further, the RTC found that absent any proof of intent that P03 Calag
was impelled by any malicious motive, he must be presumed to have properly performed his cause; in the absence of such warrant, such search and seizure becomes, as a general rule,
duty when he arrested Comerciante.13 "unreasonable" within the meaning of said constitutional provision. To protect people from
unreasonable searches and seizures, Section 3 (2), Article III 22 of the Constitution provides
Aggrieved, Comerciante appealed to the CA. an exclusionary rule which instructs that evidence obtained and confiscated on the occasion
of such unreasonable searches and seizures are deemed tainted and should be excluded
for being the proverbial fruit of a poisonous tree. In other words, evidence obtained from
The CA Ruling
unreasonable searches and seizures shall be inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in
any proceeding. 23
In a Decision 14 dated October 20, 2011 the CA affirmed Comerciante's conviction. It held
that P03 Calag had probable cause to effect the warrantless arrest of Comerciante, given
The exclusionary rule is not, however, an absolute and rigid proscription. One of the
that the latter was committing a crime in flagrante delicto; and that he personally saw the
recognized exceptions established by jurisprudence is a search incident to a lawful
latter exchanging plastic sachets with Dasilla. According to the CA, this was enough to draw
arrest. 24 In this instance, the law requires that there first be a lawful arrest before a search
a reasonable suspicion that those sachets might be shabu, and thus, P03 Calag had every
can be made - the process cannot be reversed. 25 Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules
reason to inquire on the matter right then and there.15
on Criminal Procedure lays down the rules on lawful warrantless arrests, as follows:
Dissatisfied, Comerciante moved for reconsideration 16 which was, however, denied in a
SEC.5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. - A peace officer or a private person may, without
Resolution 17 dated February 19, 2013. Hence, this petition. 18
a warrant, arrest a person:
The Issue before the Court
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually
committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;
The core issue for the Court's resolution is whether or not the CA correctly affirmed
Comerciante's conviction for violation of Section 11, Article II of RA 9165.
(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
In his petition, Comerciante essentially contends that P03 Carag did not effect a valid be arrested has committed it; and
warrantless arrest on him. Consequently, the evidence gathered as a result of such illegal
warrantless arrest, i.e., the plastic sachets containing shabu should be rendered
(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal
inadmissible, necessarily resulting in his acquittal. 19
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
On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General, on behalf of respondent People of the one confinement to another.
Philippines, maintains that Comerciante's warrantless arrest was validly made pursuant to
the "stop and frisk" rule, especially considering that he was caught in flagrante delicto in
In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) above, the person arrested without a warrant
possession of illegal drugs. 20
shall be forthwith delivered to the nearest police station or jail and shall be proceeded against
in accordance with Section 7 of Rule 112.
The Court's Ruling
The aforementioned provision provides three (3) instances when a warrantless arrest may
The petition is meritorious. be lawfully effected: (a) arrest of a suspect in flagrante delicto; (b) arrest of a suspect where,
based on personal knowledge of the arresting officer, there is probable cause that said
Section 2, Article III 21 of the Constitution mandates that a search and seizure must be carried suspect was the perpetrator of a crime which had just been committed; ( c) arrest of a
out through or on the strength of a judicial warrant predicated upon the existence of probable prisoner who has escaped from custody serving final judgment or temporarily confined during
the pendency of his case or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to A: He is an agent of the Narcotics Group, ma'am.
another. 26
Q: While you were along Private Road, Hulo, Mandaluyong City, what unusual incident that
For a warrantless arrest under Section 5 (a) to operate, two (2) elements must concur, happened if any?
namely: (a) 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 ( b) such overt act A: We spotted somebody who was then as if handing a plastic sachet to someone.
is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer. 27 On the other hand,
Section 5 (b) 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 accused had committed it.28
Q: Now how far were you when you saw this incident from these two male persons you
already identified?
In both instances, the officer's personal knowledge of the fact of the commission of an
offense is absolutely required. Under Section 5 (a), the officer himself witnesses the crime;
while in Section (b), he knows for a fact that a crime has just been committed. 29 A: About ten (10) meters away ma'am.

A judicious review of the factual milieu of the instant case reveals that there could have been Q: What were their positions in relation to you when you saw them in that particular act?
no lawful warrantless arrest made on Comerciante. P03 Calag himself admitted that he was
aboard a motorcycle cruising at a speed of around 30 kilometers per hour when he saw A: They were quite facing me then.
Comerciante and Dasilla standing around and showing "improper and unpleasant
movements," with one of them handing plastic sachets to the other. On the basis of the 0: What was the speed of your motorcycle when you were traversing this Private Road, Hulo,
foregoing, he decided to effect an arrest. P03 Calag's testimony on direct examination is Mandaluyong City?
A: About thirty (30) kilometers per hour, ma'am.
Pros. Silao:
Q: And who was driving the motorcycle?
Q: Now on July 30, 2003 around 10:00 o'clock in the evening, kindly tell the court where were
you? A: Eduardo Radan, ma'am.

A: We were then conducting our patrol on a motorbike ma' am. Q: When you spotted them as if handing something to each other, what did you do?

xxxx A: We stopped ma'am.

Q: And who were with you while you were patrolling? Q: And how far were you from them when you stopped, more or less?

A: Eduardo Radan, Ma' am. A: We passed by them for a short distance before we stopped ma'am.

Q: And who is this Eduardo Radan? Q: And after you passed by them and you said you stopped, what was the reaction of these
two male persons?
A: They were surprised, ma'am. Q: From what portion of his body, I am referring to Alvin Comerciante did you recover the
plastic sachet?
A: From his hand ma'am.
Q: And what was their reaction when you said you introduced yourself as police officer?
Q: Left or right hand?
A: They were surprised.
Pros. Silao: You cannot recall? Hindi mo matandaan. Sabihin mo Kung Hindi mo matandaan,
Q: When you say "nabigla" what was their reaction that made you say that they were no problem. Kaliwa, kanan or you cannot recall? 30
(Emphases and underscoring supplied)
A: They were stunned.
On the basis of such testimony, the Court finds it highly implausible that P03 Calag, even
Q: After they were stunned, what did you do next, police officer? assuming that he has perfect vision, would be able to identify with reasonable accuracy -
especially from a distance of around 10 meters, and while aboard a motorcycle cruising at a
speed of 30 kilometers per hour - miniscule amounts of white crystalline substance inside
A: I arrested them, ma' am. I invited them.
two (2) very small plastic sachets held by Comerciante. The Court also notes that no other
overt act could be properly attributed to Comerciante as to rouse suspicion in the mind of
Q: What did you say to them? How did you invite them? In short, napakasimple Lang ng P03 Calag that the former had just committed, was committing, or was about to commit a
tanong ko sa yo eh. Did you say anything? crime. Verily, the acts of standing around with a companion and handing over something to
the latter cannot in any way be considered criminal acts. In fact, even if Comerciante and his
Court: companion were showing "improper and unpleasant movements" as put by P03 Calag, the
same would not have been sufficient in order to effect a lawful warrantless arrest under
Mr. Witness, stop making unnecessary movements, just listens. Section 5 (a), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure. 31 That his reasonable
suspicion bolstered by (a) the fact that he had seen his fellow officers arrest persons in
Pros. Silao: Are you fit to testify? May sakit ka ba o wala? Witness: Wala po. possession of shabu; and (b) his trainings and seminars on illegal drugs when he was still
assigned in the province are insufficient to create a conclusion that what he purportedly saw
in Comerciante was indeed shabu. 32
Pros. Silao: Eh, bakit di ka makapagsalita?
Neither has the prosecution established that the rigorous conditions set forth in Section 5
Court: You keep touching your eyes. Just relax. Answer the question, ano sinabi mo sa
(b), 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 accused had
committed it. As already discussed, the factual backdrop of the instant case failed to show
Pros. Silao: Are you fit to testify? Wala ka bang sakit? that P03 Calag had personal knowledge that a crime had been indisputably committed by
Comerciante. Verily, it is not enough that the arresting officer had reasonable ground to
Witness: Wala po. believe that the accused had just committed a crime; a crime must, in fact, have been
committed first, which does not obtain in this case. 33
In this relation, the Court finds respondent's assertion that there was a valid "stop and frisk" frisk." A genuine reason must exist, in light of the police officer's experience and surrounding
search made on Comerciante untenable. In People v. Cogaed, 34 the Court had an conditions, to warrant the belief that the person detained has weapons concealed about him.
opportunity to exhaustively explain "stop and frisk" searches:
In his dissent for Esquillo v. People, Justice Bersamin reminds us that police officers must
"Stop and frisk" searches (sometimes referred to as Terry searches) are necessary for law not rely on a single suspicious circumstance. There should be "presence of more than one
enforcement.1a\^/phi1 That is, law enforcers should be given the legal arsenal to prevent the seemingly innocent activity, which, taken together, warranted a reasonable inference of
commission of offenses. However, this should be balanced with the need to protect the criminal activity." The Constitution prohibits "umeasonable searches and seizures."
privacy of citizens in accordance with Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution. Certainly, reliance on only one suspicious circumstance or none at all will not result in a
reasonable search. [35]] (Emphases and underscoring supplied)
The balance lies in the concept of "suspiciousness" present where the police officer finds
himself or herself in. This may be undoubtedly based on the experience of the police officer. In this case, the Court reiterates that Comerciante' s acts of standing around with a
Experienced police officers have personal experience dealing with criminals and criminal companion and handing over something to the latter do not constitute criminal
behavior. Hence, they should have the ability to discern - based on facts that they themselves acts.1âwphi1 These circumstances are not enough to create a reasonable inference of
observe - whether an individual is acting in a suspicious manner. Clearly, a basic criterion criminal activity which would constitute a "genuine reason" for P03 Calag to conduct a "stop
would be that the police officer, with his or her personal knowledge, must observe the facts and frisk" search on the former. In this light, the "stop and frisk" search made on Comerciante
leading to the suspicion of an illicit act. should be deemed unlawful.

xxxx In sum, there was neither a valid warrantless arrest nor a valid "stop and frisk" search made
on Comerciante. As such, the shabu purportedly seized from him is rendered inadmissible
Normally, "stop and frisk" searches do not give the law enforcer an opportunity to confer with in evidence for being the proverbial fruit of the poisonous tree. Since the confiscated shabu
a judge to determine probable cause. In Posadas v. Court of Appeals, one of the earliest is the very corpus delicti of the crime charged, Comerciante must necessarily be acquitted
cases adopting the "stop and frisk" doctrine in Philippine jurisprudence, this court and exonerated from all criminal liability.
approximated the suspicious circumstances as probable cause:
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Accordingly, 'the Decision dated October 20, 2011
The probable cause is that when the petitioner acted suspiciously and attempted to flee with and the Resolution dated February 19, 2013 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No.
the buri bag there was a probable cause that he was concealing something illegal in the bag 32813 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, petitioner Alvin Comerciante y
and it was the right and duty of the police officers to inspect the same. Gonzales is hereby ACQUITTED of the crime of violating Section 11, Article II of Republic
Act No. 9165. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is ordered to cause his immediate
release, unless he is being lawfully held for any other reason.
For warrantless searches, probable cause was defined as "a reasonable ground of suspicion
supported 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. SO ORDERED.

Malacat v. Court of Appeals clarifies the requirement further. It does not have to be probable
cause, but it cannot be mere suspicion. It has to be a genuine reason to serve the purposes
of the "stop and frisk" exception:

Other notable points of Terry are that while probable cause is not required to conduct a "stop
and frisk," it nevertheless holds that mere suspicion or a hunch will not validate a "stop and
Republic of the Philippines inches in size, including two (2) cellphones, one (1) pair of scissors and one (1) Swiss knife;
SUPREME COURT that upon seeing the said container, he asked the accused to open it; that after the accused
Manila opened the container, he noticed a cartoon cover and something beneath it; and that upon
his instruction, the accused spilled out the contents of the container on the table which turned
SECOND DIVISION out to be four (4) plastic sachets, the two (2) of which were empty while the other two (2)
contained suspected shabu.3
G.R. No. 197788 February 29, 2012
Arraigned on 2 July 2003, petitioner, assisted by counsel, entered a plea of "Not guilty" to
the charge of illegal possession of dangerous drugs. Pretrial was terminated on 24
RODEL LUZ y ONG, Petitioner,
September 2003, after which, trial ensued.
During trial, Police Officer 3 (PO3) Emmanuel Alteza and a forensic chemist testified for the
prosecution. On the other hand, petitioner testified for himself and raised the defense of
planting of evidence and extortion.
In its 19 February 2009 Decision,4 the RTC convicted petitioner of illegal possession of
dangerous drugs5 committed on 10 March 2003. It found the prosecution evidence sufficient
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 seeking to set aside the Court of to show that he had been lawfully arrested for a traffic violation and then subjected to a valid
Appeals (CA) Decision in CA-G.R. CR No. 32516 dated 18 February 20112 and Resolution search, which led to the discovery on his person of two plastic sachets later found to contain
dated 8 July 2011. shabu. The RTC also found his defense of frame-up and extortion to be weak, self-serving
and unsubstantiated. The dispositive portion of its Decision held:
Statement of the Facts and of the Case
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered, finding accused RODEL LUZ y ONG GUILTY
The facts, as found by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), which sustained the version of the beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of violation of Section 11, Article II of Republic Act
prosecution, are as follows: No. 9165 and sentencing him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment ranging
from twelve (12) years and (1) day, as minimum, to thirteen (13) years, as maximum, and to
PO2 Emmanuel L. Alteza, who was then assigned at the Sub-Station 1 of the Naga City pay a fine of Three Hundred Thousand Pesos (₱ 300,000.00).
Police Station as a traffic enforcer, substantially testified that on March 10, 2003 at around
3:00 o’clock in the morning, he saw the accused, who was coming from the direction of The subject shabu is hereby confiscated for turn over to the Philippine Drug Enforcement
Panganiban Drive and going to Diversion Road, Naga City, driving a motorcycle without a Agency for its proper disposition and destruction in accordance with law.
helmet; that this prompted him to flag down the accused for violating a municipal ordinance
which requires all motorcycle drivers to wear helmet (sic) while driving said motor vehicle; SO ORDERED.6
that he invited the accused to come inside their sub-station since the place where he flagged
down the accused is almost in front of the said sub-station; that while he and SPO1 Rayford
Upon review, the CA affirmed the RTC’s Decision.
Brillante were issuing a citation ticket for violation of municipal ordinance, he noticed that the
accused was uneasy and kept on getting something from his jacket; that he was alerted and
so, he told the accused to take out the contents of the pocket of his jacket as the latter may On 12 September 2011, petitioner filed under Rule 45 the instant Petition for Review on
have a weapon inside it; that the accused obliged and slowly put out the contents of the Certiorari dated 1 September 2011. In a Resolution dated 12 October 2011, this Court
pocket of his jacket which was a nickel-like tin or metal container about two (2) to three (3)
required respondent to file a comment on the Petition. On 4 January 2012, the latter filed its tribunal can correct errors, though unassigned in the appealed judgment, or even reverse
Comment dated 3 January 2012. the trial court’s decision based on grounds other than those that the parties raised as errors.9

Petitioner raised the following grounds in support of his Petition: First, there was no valid arrest of petitioner. When he was flagged down for committing a
traffic violation, he was not, ipso facto and solely for this reason, arrested.
INVALID. Arrest is the taking of a person into custody in order that he or she may be bound to answer
for the commission of an offense.10 It is effected by an actual restraint of the person to be
(ii) THE PRESUMPTION OF REGULARITY IN THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY arrested or by that person’s voluntary submission to the custody of the one making the arrest.
OF THE POLICE OFFICER CANNOT BE RELIED UPON IN THIS CASE. Neither the application of actual force, manual touching of the body, or physical restraint, nor
a formal declaration of arrest, is required. It is enough that there be an intention on the part
of one of the parties to arrest the other, and that there be an intent on the part of the other to
submit, under the belief and impression that submission is necessary.11

Under R.A. 4136, or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, the general procedure for
dealing with a traffic violation is not the arrest of the offender, but the confiscation of the
driver’s license of the latter:
Petitioner claims that there was no lawful search and seizure, because there was no lawful
SECTION 29. Confiscation of Driver's License. — Law enforcement and peace officers of
arrest. He claims that the finding that there was a lawful arrest was erroneous, since he was
other agencies duly deputized by the Director shall, in apprehending a driver for any violation
not even issued a citation ticket or charged with violation of the city ordinance. Even
of this Act or any regulations issued pursuant thereto, or of local traffic rules and regulations
assuming there was a valid arrest, he claims that he had never consented to the search
not contrary to any provisions of this Act, confiscate the license of the driver concerned and
conducted upon him.
issue a receipt prescribed and issued by the Bureau therefor which shall authorize the driver
to operate a motor vehicle for a period not exceeding seventy-two hours from the time and
On the other hand, finding that petitioner had been lawfully arrested, the RTC held thus: date of issue of said receipt. The period so fixed in the receipt shall not be extended, and
shall become invalid thereafter. Failure of the driver to settle his case within fifteen days from
It is beyond dispute that the accused was flagged down and apprehended in this case by the date of apprehension will be a ground for the suspension and/or revocation of his license.
Police Officers Alteza and Brillante for violation of City Ordinance No. 98-012, an ordinance
requiring the use of crash helmet by motorcycle drivers and riders thereon in the City of Naga Similarly, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Operations Manual12 provides the following
and prescribing penalties for violation thereof. The accused himself admitted that he was not procedure for flagging down vehicles during the conduct of checkpoints:
wearing a helmet at the time when he was flagged down by the said police officers, albeit he
had a helmet in his possession. Obviously, there is legal basis on the part of the
SECTION 7. Procedure in Flagging Down or Accosting Vehicles While in Mobile Car. This
apprehending officers to flag down and arrest the accused because the latter was actually
rule is a general concept and will not apply in hot pursuit operations. The mobile car crew
committing a crime in their presence, that is, a violation of City Ordinance No. 98-012. In
shall undertake the following, when applicable: x x x
other words, the accused, being caught in flagrante delicto violating the said Ordinance, he
could therefore be lawfully stopped or arrested by the apprehending officers. x x x. 8
m. If it concerns traffic violations, immediately issue a Traffic Citation Ticket (TCT) or Traffic
Violation Report (TVR). Never indulge in prolonged, unnecessary conversation or argument
We find the Petition to be impressed with merit, but not for the particular reasons alleged. In
with the driver or any of the vehicle’s occupants;
criminal cases, an appeal throws the entire case wide open for review and the reviewing
At the time that he was waiting for PO3 Alteza to write his citation ticket, petitioner could not Second, circumstances associated with the typical traffic stop are not such that the motorist
be said to have been "under arrest." There was no intention on the part of PO3 Alteza to feels completely at the mercy of the police. To be sure, the aura of authority surrounding an
arrest him, deprive him of his liberty, or take him into custody. Prior to the issuance of the armed, uniformed officer and the knowledge that the officer has some discretion in deciding
ticket, the period during which petitioner was at the police station may be characterized whether to issue a citation, in combination, exert some pressure on the detainee to respond
merely as waiting time. In fact, as found by the trial court, PO3 Alteza himself testified that to questions. But other aspects of the situation substantially offset these forces. Perhaps
the only reason they went to the police sub-station was that petitioner had been flagged down most importantly, the typical traffic stop is public, at least to some degree. x x x
"almost in front" of that place. Hence, it was only for the sake of convenience that they were
waiting there. There was no intention to take petitioner into custody. In both of these respects, the usual traffic stop is more analogous to a so-called "Terry stop,"
see Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1 (1968), than to a formal arrest. x x x The comparatively
In Berkemer v. McCarty,13 the United States (U.S.) Supreme Court discussed at length nonthreatening character of detentions of this sort explains the absence of any suggestion
whether the roadside questioning of a motorist detained pursuant to a routine traffic stop in our opinions that Terry stops are subject to the dictates of Miranda. The similarly
should be considered custodial interrogation. The Court held that, such questioning does not noncoercive aspect of ordinary traffic stops prompts us to hold that persons temporarily
fall under custodial interrogation, nor can it be considered a formal arrest, by virtue of the detained pursuant to such stops are not "in custody" for the purposes of Miranda.
nature of the questioning, the expectations of the motorist and the officer, and the length of
time the procedure is conducted. It ruled as follows: xxx xxx xxx

It must be acknowledged at the outset that a traffic stop significantly curtails the "freedom of We are confident that the state of affairs projected by respondent will not come to pass. It is
action" of the driver and the passengers, if any, of the detained vehicle. Under the law of settled that the safeguards prescribed by Miranda become applicable as soon as a suspect’s
most States, it is a crime either to ignore a policeman’s signal to stop one’s car or, once freedom of action is curtailed to a "degree associated with formal arrest." California v.
having stopped, to drive away without permission. x x x Beheler, 463 U. S. 1121, 1125 (1983) (per curiam). If a motorist who has been detained
pursuant to a traffic stop thereafter is subjected to treatment that renders him "in custody"
However, we decline to accord talismanic power to the phrase in the Miranda opinion for practical purposes, he will be entitled to the full panoply of protections prescribed by
emphasized by respondent. Fidelity to the doctrine announced in Miranda requires that it be Miranda. See Oregon v. Mathiason, 429 U. S. 492, 495 (1977) (per curiam). (Emphasis
enforced strictly, but only in those types of situations in which the concerns that powered the supplied.)
decision are implicated. Thus, we must decide whether a traffic stop exerts upon a detained
person pressures that sufficiently impair his free exercise of his privilege against self- The U.S. Court in Berkemer thus ruled that, since the motorist therein was only subjected to
incrimination to require that he be warned of his constitutional rights. modest questions while still at the scene of the traffic stop, he was not at that moment placed
under custody (such that he should have been apprised of his Miranda rights), and neither
Two features of an ordinary traffic stop mitigate the danger that a person questioned will be can treatment of this sort be fairly characterized as the functional equivalent of a formal
induced "to speak where he would not otherwise do so freely," Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. arrest. Similarly, neither can petitioner here be considered "under arrest" at the time that his
S., at 467. First, detention of a motorist pursuant to a traffic stop is presumptively temporary traffic citation was being made.
and brief. The vast majority of roadside detentions last only a few minutes. A motorist’s
expectations, when he sees a policeman’s light flashing behind him, are that he will be It also appears that, according to City Ordinance No. 98-012, which was violated by
obliged to spend a short period of time answering questions and waiting while the officer petitioner, the failure to wear a crash helmet while riding a motorcycle is penalized by a fine
checks his license and registration, that he may then be given a citation, but that in the end only. Under the Rules of Court, a warrant of arrest need not be issued if the information or
he most likely will be allowed to continue on his way. In this respect, questioning incident to charge was filed for an offense penalized by a fine only. It may be stated as a corollary that
an ordinary traffic stop is quite different from stationhouse interrogation, which frequently is neither can a warrantless arrest be made for such an offense.
prolonged, and in which the detainee often is aware that questioning will continue until he
provides his interrogators the answers they seek. See id., at 451.
This ruling does not imply that there can be no arrest for a traffic violation. Certainly, when moving vehicle; (iv) consented warrantless search; (v) customs search; (vi) a "stop and frisk"
there is an intent on the part of the police officer to deprive the motorist of liberty, or to take search; and (vii) exigent and emergency circumstances.15 None of the above-mentioned
the latter into custody, the former may be deemed to have arrested the motorist. In this case, instances, especially a search incident to a lawful arrest, are applicable to this case.
however, the officer’s issuance (or intent to issue) a traffic citation ticket negates the
possibility of an arrest for the same violation. It must be noted that the evidence seized, although alleged to be inadvertently discovered,
was not in "plain view." It was actually concealed inside a metal container inside petitioner’s
Even if one were to work under the assumption that petitioner was deemed "arrested" upon pocket. Clearly, the evidence was not immediately apparent.16
being flagged down for a traffic violation and while awaiting the issuance of his ticket, then
the requirements for a valid arrest were not complied with. Neither was there a consented warrantless search. Consent to a search is not to be lightly
inferred, but shown by clear and convincing evidence.17 It must be voluntary in order to
This Court has held that at the time a person is arrested, it shall be the duty of the arresting validate an otherwise illegal search; that is, the consent must be unequivocal, specific,
officer to inform the latter of the reason for the arrest and must show that person the warrant intelligently given and uncontaminated by any duress or coercion. While the prosecution
of arrest, if any. Persons shall be informed of their constitutional rights to remain silent and claims that petitioner acceded to the instruction of PO3 Alteza, this alleged accession does
to counsel, and that any statement they might make could be used against them. 14 It may not suffice to prove valid and intelligent consent. In fact, the RTC found that petitioner was
also be noted that in this case, these constitutional requirements were complied with by the merely "told" to take out the contents of his pocket.18
police officers only after petitioner had been arrested for illegal possession of dangerous
drugs. Whether consent to the search was in fact voluntary is a question of fact to be determined
from the totality of all the circumstances. Relevant to this determination are the following
In Berkemer, the U.S. Court also noted that the Miranda warnings must also be given to a characteristics of the person giving consent and the environment in which consent is given:
person apprehended due to a traffic violation: (1) the age of the defendant; (2) whether the defendant was in a public or a secluded location;
(3) whether the defendant objected to the search or passively looked on; (4) the education
The purposes of the safeguards prescribed by Miranda are to ensure that the police do not and intelligence of the defendant; (5) the presence of coercive police procedures; (6) the
coerce or trick captive suspects into confessing, to relieve the "inherently compelling defendant’s belief that no incriminating evidence would be found; (7) the nature of the police
pressures" "generated by the custodial setting itself," "which work to undermine the questioning; (8) the environment in which the questioning took place; and (9) the possibly
individual’s will to resist," and as much as possible to free courts from the task of scrutinizing vulnerable subjective state of the person consenting. It is the State that has the burden of
individual cases to try to determine, after the fact, whether particular confessions were proving, by clear and positive testimony, that the necessary consent was obtained, and was
voluntary. Those purposes are implicated as much by in-custody questioning of persons freely and voluntarily given.19 In this case, all that was alleged was that petitioner was alone
suspected of misdemeanors as they are by questioning of persons suspected of felonies. at the police station at three in the morning, accompanied by several police officers. These
circumstances weigh heavily against a finding of valid consent to a warrantless search.
If it were true that petitioner was already deemed "arrested" when he was flagged down for
a traffic violation and while he waiting for his ticket, then there would have been no need for Neither does the search qualify under the "stop and frisk" rule. While the rule normally applies
him to be arrested for a second time—after the police officers allegedly discovered the when a police officer observes suspicious or unusual conduct, which may lead him to believe
drugs—as he was already in their custody. that a criminal act may be afoot, the stop and frisk is merely a limited protective search of
outer clothing for weapons.20
Second, there being no valid arrest, the warrantless search that resulted from it was likewise
illegal. In Knowles v. Iowa,21 the U.S. Supreme Court held that when a police officer stops a person
for speeding and correspondingly issues a citation instead of arresting the latter, this
procedure does not authorize the officer to conduct a full search of the car. The Court therein
The following are the instances when a warrantless search is allowed: (i) a warrantless
held that there was no justification for a full-blown search when the officer does not arrest
search incidental to a lawful arrest; (ii) search of evidence in "plain view;" (iii) search of a
the motorist. Instead, police officers may only conduct minimal intrusions, such as ordering issued a citation, all the evidence necessary to prosecute that offense had been obtained.
the motorist to alight from the car or doing a patdown: No further evidence of excessive speed was going to be found either on the person of the
offender or in the passenger compartment of the car. (Emphasis supplied.)
In Robinson, supra, we noted the two historical rationales for the "search incident to arrest"
exception: (1) the need to disarm the suspect in order to take him into custody, and (2) the The foregoing considered, petitioner must be acquitted. While he may have failed to object
need to preserve evidence for later use at trial. x x x But neither of these underlying rationales to the illegality of his arrest at the earliest opportunity, a waiver of an illegal warrantless arrest
for the search incident to arrest exception is sufficient to justify the search in the present does not, however, mean a waiver of the inadmissibility of evidence seized during the illegal
case. warrantless arrest.22

We have recognized that the first rationale—officer safety—is "‘both legitimate and weighty,’" The Constitution guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
x x x The threat to officer safety from issuing a traffic citation, however, is a good deal less papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.23 Any evidence obtained in
than in the case of a custodial arrest. In Robinson, we stated that a custodial arrest involves violation of said right shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding. While the
"danger to an officer" because of "the extended exposure which follows the taking of a power to search and seize may at times be necessary to the public welfare, still it must be
suspect into custody and transporting him to the police station." 414 U. S., at 234-235. We exercised and the law implemented without contravening the constitutional rights of citizens,
recognized that "[t]he danger to the police officer flows from the fact of the arrest, and its for the enforcement of no statute is of sufficient importance to justify indifference to the basic
attendant proximity, stress, and uncertainty, and not from the grounds for arrest." Id., at 234, principles of government.24
n. 5. A routine traffic stop, on the other hand, is a relatively brief encounter and "is more
analogous to a so-called ‘Terry stop’ . . . than to a formal arrest." Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 The subject items seized during the illegal arrest are inadmissible. 25 The drugs are the very
U. S. 420, 439 (1984). See also Cupp v. Murphy, 412 U. S. 291, 296 (1973) ("Where there corpus delicti of the crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs. Thus, their inadmissibility
is no formal arrest . . . a person might well be less hostile to the police and less likely to take precludes conviction and calls for the acquittal of the accused.26
conspicuous, immediate steps to destroy incriminating evidence").
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The 18 February 2011 Decision of the Court of
This is not to say that the concern for officer safety is absent in the case of a routine traffic Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 32516 affirming the judgment of conviction dated 19 February
stop.1âwphi1 It plainly is not. See Mimms, supra, at 110; Wilson, supra, at 413-414. But 2009 of the Regional Trial Court, 5th Judicial Region, Naga City, Branch 21, in Criminal Case
while the concern for officer safety in this context may justify the "minimal" additional intrusion No. RTC 2003-0087, is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Rodel Luz y Ong is
of ordering a driver and passengers out of the car, it does not by itself justify the often hereby ACQUITTED and ordered immediately released from detention, unless his continued
considerably greater intrusion attending a full fieldtype search. Even without the search confinement is warranted by some other cause or ground.
authority Iowa urges, officers have other, independent bases to search for weapons and
protect themselves from danger. For example, they may order out of a vehicle both the driver,
Mimms, supra, at 111, and any passengers, Wilson, supra, at 414; perform a "patdown" of a
driver and any passengers upon reasonable suspicion that they may be armed and
dangerous, Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1 (1968); conduct a "Terry patdown" of the passenger
compartment of a vehicle upon reasonable suspicion that an occupant is dangerous and may
gain immediate control of a weapon, Michigan v. Long, 463 U. S. 1032, 1049 (1983); and
even conduct a full search of the passenger compartment, including any containers therein,
pursuant to a custodial arrest, New York v. Belton, 453 U. S. 454, 460 (1981).

Nor has Iowa shown the second justification for the authority to search incident to arrest—
the need to discover and preserve evidence. Once Knowles was stopped for speeding and
Republic of the Philippines burner. They sat facing each other at the living room. This prompted the police officers to
SUPREME COURT enter the house, introduce themselves, and arrest Antiquera and Cruz.4
While inspecting the immediate surroundings, PO1 Cabutihan saw a wooden jewelry box
THIRD DIVISION atop a table. It contained an improvised burner, wok, scissors, 10 small transparent plastic
sachets with traces of white crystalline substance, improvised scoop, and seven unused
G.R. No. 180661 December 11, 2013 strips of aluminum foil. The police officers confiscated all these and brought Antiquera and
Cruz to the Drug Enforcement Unit of the Philippine National Police in Pasay City for further
investigation and testing.5
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. A forensic chemical officer examined the confiscated drug paraphernalia and found them
positive for traces of methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu."6
Accused Antiquera gave a different story. He said that on the date and time in question, he
and Cruz were asleep in their house when he was roused by knocking on the door. When
he went to open it, three armed police officers forced themselves into the house. One of them
shoved him and said, "D’yan ka lang, pusher ka." He was handcuffed and someone
This case is about a supposed warrantless arrest and a subsequent search prompted by the instructed two of the officers to go to his room. The police later brought accused Antiquera
police officers' chance sighting through an ajar door of the accused engaged in pot session. and Cruz to the police station and there informed them of the charges against them. They
were shown a box that the police said had been recovered from his house.7
The Facts and the Case
On July 30, 2004 the RTC rendered a Decision8 that found accused Antiquera and Cruz
On January 13, 2004 the second Assistant City Prosecutor of Pasay City charged the guilty of the crime charged and sentenced them to a prison term ranging from six months
accused George Codes Antiquera* and Corazon Olivenza Cruz with illegal ·possession of and one day to two years and four months, and to pay a fine of ₱10,000.00 each and the
paraphernalia for dangerous drugs 1 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasay City in costs of the suit.
Criminal Case 04-0100-CFM. 2 Since the accused Cruz jumped bail, the court tried her in
absentia. 3 The RTC said that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that the police caught
accused Antiquera and Cruz in the act of using shabu and having drug paraphernalia in their
The prosecution evidence shows that at around 4:45 a.m. of February 11, 2004, PO1 possession. Since no ill motive could be attributed to PO1 Recio and PO1 Cabutihan, the
Gregorio Recio, PO1 Laurence Cabutihan, P/Insp. Eric Ibon, PO1 Rodelio Rania, and two court accorded full faith and credit to their testimony and rejected the self-serving claim of
civilian operatives on board a patrol car and a tricycle were conducting a police visibility patrol Antiquera.
on David Street, Pasay City, when they saw two unidentified men rush out of house number
107-C and immediately boarded a jeep. The trial court gave no weight to accused Antiquera’s claim of illegal arrest, given PO1 Recio
and PO1 Cabutihan’s credible testimony that, prior to their arrest, they saw Antiquera and
Suspecting that a crime had been committed, the police officers approached the house from Cruz in a pot session at their living room and in possession of drug paraphernalia. The police
where the men came and peeked through the partially opened door. PO1 Recio and PO1 officers were thus justified in arresting the two without a warrant pursuant to Section 5, Rule
Cabutihan saw accused Antiquera holding an improvised tooter and a pink lighter. Beside 113 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure.9
him was his live-in partner, Cruz, who was holding an aluminum foil and an improvised
On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) rendered a Decision10 on September 21, 2007 been committed, the natural thing for them to do was to give chase to the jeep that the two
affirming in full the decision of the trial court. The accused moved for reconsideration but the fleeing men boarded, given that the officers were in a patrol car and a tricycle. Running after
CA denied it.11 The accused is now before this Court seeking acquittal. the fleeing suspects was the more urgent task but the officers instead gave priority to the
house even when they heard no cry for help from it.
The Issue Presented
2. Admittedly, the police officers did not notice anything amiss going on in the house from
The issue in this case is whether or not the CA erred in finding accused Antiquera guilty the street where they stood. Indeed, even as they peeked through its partially opened door,
beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession of drug paraphernalia based on the evidence they saw no activity that warranted their entering it. Thus, PO1 Cabutihan testified:
of the police officers that they saw him and Cruz in the act of possessing drug paraphernalia.
Ruling of the Court
Q – By the way, Mr. Cabutihan, when you followed your companion towards the open door,
The prosecution’s theory, upheld by both the RTC and the CA, is that it was a case of valid how was the door open? Was it totally open, or was it partially open?
warrantless arrest in that the police officers saw accused Antiquera and Cruz through the
door of their house, in the act of having a pot session. That valid warrantless arrest gave the A – It was partially open Your Honor.
officers the right as well to search the living room for objects relating to the crime and thus
seize the paraphernalia they found there. Q – By how much, 1/3, 1/2? Only by less than one (1) foot?

The prosecution contends that, since the seized paraphernalia tested positive for shabu, they A – More or less 4 to 6 inches, Your Honor.
were no doubt used for smoking, consuming, administering, injecting, ingesting, or
introducing dangerous drug into the body in violation of Section 12 of Republic Act 9165.
Q – So how were you able to know, to see the interior of the house if the door was
That the accused tested negative for shabu, said the prosecution, had no bearing on the
only open by 6 inches? Or did you have to push the door?
crime charged which was for illegal possession of drug paraphernalia, not for illegal use of
dangerous drugs. The prosecution added that even assuming that the arrest of the accused
was irregular, he is already considered to have waived his right to question the validity of his A – We pushed the door, Your Honor.
arrest when he voluntarily submitted himself to the court’s jurisdiction by entering a plea of
not guilty.12 xxxx

Section 5(a), Rule 113 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that a "peace officer or Q – Were you allowed to just go towards the door of the house, push its door and peeped
a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person when, in his presence, the person inside it, as a police officer?
to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense."
This is an arrest in flagrante delicto.13 The overt act constituting the crime is done in the A – Kasi po naghinala po kami baka may…
presence or within the view of the arresting officer.14
Q – Are you not allowed to – Are you not required to get a search warrant before you can
But the circumstances here do not make out a case of arrest made in flagrante delicto. search the interior of the house?

1. The police officers claim that they were alerted when they saw two unidentified men A – Yes, Your Honor.
suddenly rush out of 107 David Street, Pasay City. Since they suspected that a crime had
Q – What do you mean by yes? Would you first obtain a search warrant before searching
the interior of the house?

A – Yes, Your Honor.

Q – So why did you not a [sic] secure a search warrant first before you tried to investigate
the house, considering your admission that you suspected that there was something wrong
inside the house?

A – Because we saw them that they were engaged in pot session, Your Honor.

Q – But before you saw them, you just had to push the door wide open to peep through
its opening because you did not know what was happening inside?

A – Yes, Your Honor.15 (Emphasis supplied)

Clearly, no crime was plainly exposed to the view of the arresting officers that authorized the
arrest of accused Antiquera without warrant under the above-mentioned rule. Considering
that his arrest was illegal, the search and seizure that resulted from it was likewise
illegal.16 Consequently, the various drug paraphernalia that the police officers allegedly found
in the house and seized are inadmissible, having proceeded from an invalid search and
seizure. Since the confiscated drug paraphernalia is the very corpus delicti of the crime
charged, the Court has no choice but to acquit the accused.17

One final note. The failure of the accused to object to the irregularity of his arrest by itself is
not enough to sustain his conviction. A waiver of an illegal warrantless arrest does not carry
with it a waiver of the inadmissibility of evidence seized during the illegal warrantless arrest.18

WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the Decision dated September 21,
2007 and Resolution dated November 16, 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR 28937
and ACQUITS the accused George Antiquera y Codes of the crime of which he is charged
for lack of evidence sufficient to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.1âwphi1 The
Court further ORDERS the cancellation and release of the bail bond he posted for his
provisional liberty.

Republic of the Philippines Criminal Case No. 98-164175, on the other hand, arose from an alleged violation of Section
SUPREME COURT 16, Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended,5 which was said to be committed in this
Manila manner:

FIRST DIVISION That on or about April 3, 1998 in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused without
being authorized by law to possess or use any regulated drug, did then and there [willfully],
G.R. No. 200304 January 15, 2014 unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession and under his custody and control 1.61
grams, 0.58 grams, 0.29 grams, 0.09 [grams], 0.10 grams, 0.17 grams, 0.21 grams, 0.24
grams, 0.12 grams, 0.06 grams, 0.04 grams, [0].51 grams or all with a total weight of four
point zero three grams of white crystalline substance contained in twelve (12) transparent
plastic sachets known as "SHABU" containing methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated
DONALD VASQUEZ y SANDIGAN @ "DON," Accused-Appellant,
drug, without the corresponding license or prescription thereof.6
Initially, Criminal Case No. 98-164175 was raffled to the RTC of Manila, Branch 23. Upon
motion7 of the appellant, however, said case was allowed to be consolidated with Criminal
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.: Case No. 98-164174 in the RTC of Manila, Branch 41.8 On arraignment, the appellant
pleaded not guilty to both charges.9 The pre-trial conference of the cases was held on July
The case before this Court is an appeal from the Decision1 dated May 31, 2011 of the Court 27, 1998, but the same was terminated without the parties entering into any stipulation of
of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 04201. Said decision affirmed with modification the Joint facts.10
Decision2 dated August 6 2009 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 41, in
Criminal Case Nos. 98-164174 and 98-164175, which convicted the appellant Donald During the trial of the cases, the prosecution presented the testimonies of the following
Vasquez y Sandigan of the crimes of illegal sale and illegal possession of regulated drugs witnesses: (1) Police Inspector (P/Insp.) Jean Fajardo,11 (2) P/Insp. Marilyn Dequito,12 and
under Sections 15 and 16 Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, otherwise known (3) Police Officer (PO) 2 Christian Trambulo.13Thereafter, the defense presented in court the
as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. testimonies of: (1) the appellant Donald Vasquez y Sandigan,14 (2) Angelina Arejado,15 and
(3) Anatolia Caredo.16
Criminal Case No. 98-164174 stemmed from a charge of violation of Section 15 Article III of
Republic Act No. 6425, as amended,3 which was allegedly committed as follows: The Prosecution’s Case

That on or about April 3, 1998 in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused not having The prosecution’s version of the events was primarily drawn from the testimonies of P/Insp.
been authorized by law to sell, dispense, deliver, transport or distribute any regulated drug, Fajardo and PO2 Trambulo.
did then and there [willfully], unlawfully and knowingly sell or offer for sale, dispense, deliver,
transport or distribute 45.46 grams, 44.27 grams, 45.34 grams, 51.45 grams, 41.32 grams
P/Insp. Fajardo testified that in the morning of April 1, 1998, a confidential informant went to
and 20.14 grams or with a total weight of TWO HUNDRED FORTY-SEVEN POINT NINETY-
their office and reported that a certain Donald Vasquez was engaged in illegal drug activity.
EIGHT (247.98) grams contained in six (6) transparent plastic sachets of white crystalline
This alias Don supposedly claimed that he was an employee of the National Bureau of
substance known as "Shabu" containing methamphetamine hydrochloride, which is a
Investigation (NBI). According to the informant, alias Don promised him a good commission
regulated drug.4
if he (the informant) would present a potential buyer of drugs. P/Insp. Fajardo relayed the
information to Police Superintendent (P/Supt.) Pepito Domantay, the commanding officer of
their office. P/Insp. Fajardo was then instructed to form a team and conduct a possible buy-
bust against alias Don. She formed a team on the same day, which consisted of herself, PO2
Trambulo, PO1 Agravante, PO1 Pedrosa, PO1 Sisteno, and PO1 De la Rosa. P/Insp. doing so. P/Insp. Fajardo took custody of the shabu. When she asked alias Don if the latter
Fajardo was the team leader. With the help of the informant, she was able to set up a meeting had authority to possess or sell shabu, he replied in the negative. P/Insp. Fajardo put her
with alias Don. The meeting was to be held at around 9:00 p.m. on that day at Cindy’s initials "JSF" on the genuine ₱500.00 bills below the name of Benigno Aquino. After the
Restaurant located in Welcome Rotonda. She was only supposed to meet alias Don that arrest of the two suspects, the buy-bust team brought them to the police station. The
night but she decided to bring the team along for security reasons.17 suspects’ rights were read to them and they were subsequently booked.20

At about 9:00 p.m. on even date, P/Insp. Fajardo and her team went to the meeting place P/Insp. Fajardo said that she found out that alias Don was in fact the appellant Donald
with the informant. The members of her team positioned themselves strategically inside the Vasquez. She learned of his name when he brought out his NBI ID while he was being
restaurant. The informant introduced P/Insp. Fajardo to alias Don as the buyer of shabu. She booked. P/Insp. Fajardo also learned that the name of the appellant’s companion was
asked alias Don if he was indeed an employee of the NBI and he replied in the affirmative. Reynaldo Siscar, who was also arrested and brought to the police station. P/Insp. Fajardo
They agreed to close the deal wherein she would buy 250 grams of shabu for ₱250,000.00. explained that after she gave the buy-bust money to the appellant, the latter handed the
They also agreed to meet the following day at Cindy’s Restaurant around 10:00 to 11:00 same to Siscar who was present the entire time the sale was being consummated. Upon
p.m.18 receiving the buy-bust money placed inside a green plastic bag, Siscar looked at the contents
thereof and uttered "okey na to." P/Insp. Fajardo marked the drug specimen and brought the
In the evening of April 2, 1998, P/Insp. Fajardo and her team went back to Cindy’s same to the Crime Laboratory. She was accompanied there by PO2 Trambulo and PO1
Restaurant. Alias Don was already waiting for her outside the establishment when she Agravante. She handed over the drug specimen to PO1 Agravante who then turned it over
arrived. He asked for the money and she replied that she had the money with her. She to P/Insp. Taduran, the forensic chemist on duty. The police officers previously weighed the
brought five genuine ₱500.00 bills, which were inserted on top of five bundles of play money drug specimen. Thereafter, the personnel at the crime laboratory weighed the specimen
to make it appear that she had ₱250,000.00 with her. After she showed the money to alias again. P/Insp. Fajardo and her team waited for the results of the laboratory examination.21
Don, he suggested that they go to a more secure place. They agreed for the sale to take
place at around 1:30 to 2:00 a.m. on April 3, 1998 in front of alias Don’s apartment at 765 P/Insp. Fajardo further testified that the six plastic bags of shabu seized during the buy-bust
Valdez St., Sampaloc, Manila. The team proceeded to the Western Police District (WPD) operation were actually contained in a self-sealing plastic envelope placed inside a brown
Station along U.N. Avenue for coordination. Afterwards, the team held their final briefing envelope. When the brown envelope was confiscated from the appellant, she put her initials
before they proceeded to the target area. They agreed that the pre-arranged signal was for "JSF" therein and signed it. She noticed that there were markings on the envelope that read
P/Insp. Fajardo to scratch her hair, which would signify that the deal had been consummated "DD-93-1303 re Antonio Roxas y Sunga" but she did not bother to check out what they were
and the rest of the team would rush up to the scene. The team then travelled to the address for or who made them. When she interrogated the appellant about the brown envelope, she
given by alias Don.19 found out that the same was submitted as evidence to the NBI Crime Laboratory. She also
learned that the appellant worked as a Laboratory Aide at the NBI Crime Laboratory. She
When the team arrived at the target area around 1:15 a.m. on April 3, 1998, the two vehicles identified in court the six plastic sachets of drugs that her team recovered, which sachets
they used were parked along the corner of the street. P/Insp. Fajardo and the informant she also initialed and signed. P/Insp. Fajardo also stated that after the appellant was
walked towards the apartment of alias Don and stood in front of the apartment gate. Around arrested, PO2 Trambulo conducted a body search on the two suspects. The search yielded
1:45 a.m., alias Don came out of the apartment with a male companion. Alias Don demanded 12 more plastic sachets of drugs from the appellant. The 12 sachets were varied in sizes
to see the money, but P/Insp. Fajardo told him that she wanted to see the drugs first. Alias and were contained in a white envelope. P/Insp. Fajardo placed her initials and signature on
Don gave her the big brown envelope he was carrying and she checked the contents thereof. the envelope. As to the 12 sachets, the same were initialed by P/Insp. Fajardo and signed
Inside she found a plastic sachet, about 10x8 inches in size, which contained white crystalline by PO2 Trambulo.22
substance. After checking the contents of the envelope, she assumed that the same was
indeed shabu. She then gave the buy-bust money to alias Don and scratched her hair to The testimony of PO2 Trambulo corroborated that of P/Insp. Fajardo’s. PO2 Trambulo
signal the rest of the team to rush to the scene. P/Insp. Fajardo identified herself as a testified that in the morning of April 1, 1998, a confidential informant reported to them about
narcotics agent. The two suspects tried to flee but PO2 Trambulo was able to stop them from the illegal drug activities of alias Don. P/Supt. Domantay then tasked P/Insp. Fajardo to form
a buy-bust team. P/Insp. Fajardo was able to set up a meeting with alias Don at Cindy’s documentations were prepared. Among such documents was the Request for Laboratory
Restaurant in Welcome Rotonda, Quezon City. At that meeting, PO2 Trambulo saw P/Insp. Examination of the drug specimens seized. PO2 Trambulo said that he was the one who
Fajardo talk to alias Don. P/Insp. Fajardo later told the members of the team that she brought the said request to the PNP Crime Laboratory, along with the drug specimens. 25
convinced alias Don that she was a good buyer of shabu and the latter demanded a second
meeting to see the money. After the initial meeting, P/Insp. Fajardo briefed P/Supt. P/Insp. Marilyn Dequito, the forensic chemist, testified on the results of her examination of
Domantay about what happened. PO2 Trambulo stated that on April 2, 1998, P/Insp. Fajardo the drug specimens seized in this case. She explained that P/Insp. Macario Taduran, Jr.
was furnished with five genuine ₱500.00 bills together with the boodle play money. P/Insp. initially examined the drug specimens but the latter was already assigned to another office.
Fajardo placed her initials in the genuine bills below the name "Benigno Aquino, Jr." The results of the examination of P/Insp. Taduran were laid down in Physical Science Report
Afterwards, the team left the office. When they arrived at Cindy’s Restaurant past 10:00 p.m., No. D-1071-98. P/Insp. Dequito first studied the data contained in Physical Science Report
alias Don was waiting outside. P/Insp. Fajardo showed the boodle money to alias Don and No. D-1071-98 and retrieved the same from their office. She entered that fact in their logbook
after some time, they parted ways. P/Insp. Fajardo later told the team that alias Don decided RD-17-98. She then weighed the drug specimens and examined the white crystalline
that the drug deal would take place in front of alias Don’s rented apartment on Valdez St., substance from each of the plastic sachets. She examined first the specimens marked as
Sampaloc, Manila. After an hour, the team went to Valdez St. to familiarize themselves with "A-1," "A-2," "A-3," "A-4," "A-5" and "A-6." P/Insp. Dequito’s examination revealed that the
the area. They then proceeded to the WPD station to coordinate their operation. Thereafter, white crystalline substances were positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride.26 She also
P/Insp. Fajardo conducted a final briefing wherein PO2 Trambulo was designated as the examined the contents of 12 heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets that also contained
immediate back-up arresting officer. The agreed pre-arranged signal was for P/Insp. Fajardo crystalline substances. The 12 plastic sachets were marked "B-1" to "B-12." The white
to scratch her hair to indicate the consummation of the deal. PO2 Trambulo was to signal crystalline powder inside the 12 plastic sachets also tested positive for methamphetamine
the same to the other members of the team.23 hydrochloride. P/Insp. Dequito’s findings were contained in Physical Science Report No. RD-
The buy-bust team went to the target area at around 1:30 to 2:00 a.m. on April 3, 1998.
P/Insp. Fajardo and the informant walked towards the direction of alias Don’s apartment, The prosecution, thereafter, adduced the following object and documentary evidence: (1)
while PO2 Trambulo positioned himself near a parked jeepney about 15 to 20 meters from photocopies of the five original ₱500.00 bills28 used as buy-bust money (Exhibits A-E); (2)
the apartment gate. The rest of the team parked their vehicles at the street perpendicular to Request for Laboratory Examination29 dated April 3, 1998 (Exhibit F); (3) Initial Laboratory
Valdez St. Later, alias Don went out of the gate with another person. PO2 Trambulo saw Report30 dated April 3, 1998, stating that the specimen submitted for examination tested
alias Don gesturing to P/Insp. Fajardo as if asking for something but P/Insp. Fajardo gestured positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride (Exhibit G); (4) Court Order 31 dated
that she wanted to see something first. Alias Don handed P/Insp. Fajardo a big brown September 2, 1998 (Exhibit H); (5) Physical Sciences Report No. D-1071-9832 dated April 3,
envelope, which the latter opened. P/Insp. Fajardo then handed to alias Don a green plastic 1998 (Exhibit I); (6) Drug specimens A-1 to A-6 (Exhibits J-O); (7) Big brown envelope
bag containing the buy-bust money and gave the pre-arranged signal. When PO2 Trambulo (Exhibit P); (8) Small white envelope (Exhibit Q); (9) Drug specimens B-1 to B-12 (Exhibits
saw this, he immediately summoned the rest of the team and rushed to the suspects. He R-CC); (10) Physical Sciences Report No. RD-17-9833 (Exhibit DD); (11) Joint Affidavit of
was able to recover the buy-bust money from alias Don’s male companion. Upon frisking Arrest34 (Exhibit EE); (12) Play money (Exhibit FF); (13) Booking Sheet and Arrest
alias Don, PO2 Trambulo retrieved 12 pieces of plastic sachets of suspected drugs. The Report35 (Exhibit GG); (14) Request for Medical Examination36 (Exhibit HH); (15) Medico
same were placed inside a white envelope that was tucked inside alias Don’s waist. PO2 Legal Slip37 of Donald Vasquez (Exhibit II); and (16) Medico Legal Slip38 of Reynaldo Siscar
Trambulo marked each of the 12 sachets with his initials "CVT" and the date. The police (Exhibit JJ).
officers then informed the suspects of their rights and they proceeded to the police
headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.24
The Defense’s Case

As regards the brown envelope that alias Don handed to P/Insp. Fajardo, the latter retained
As expected, the defense belied the prosecution’s version of events. The appellant’s
possession thereof. The envelope contained six pieces of plastic bags of white crystalline
brief39 before the Court of Appeals provides a concise summary of the defense’s counter-
substance. When they got back to their office, the team reported the progress of their
statement of facts. According to the defense:
operation to P/Supt. Domantay. The arrested suspects were booked and the required
Donald Vasquez was a regular employee of the NBI, working as a Laboratory Aide II at the On August 6, 2009, the RTC convicted the appellant of the crimes charged. The RTC gave
NBI Forensics Chemistry Division. His duties at the time included being a subpoena clerk, more credence to the prosecution’s evidence given that the presumption of regularity in the
receiving chemistry cases as well as requests from different police agencies to have their performance of official duty on the part of the police officers was not overcome. The trial
specimens examined by the chemist. He also rendered day and night duties, and during court held that the appellant did not present any evidence that would show that the police
regular office hours and in the absence of the laboratory technician, he would weigh the officers in this case were impelled by an evil motive to charge him of very serious crimes and
specimens. As subpoena clerk, he would receive subpoenas from the trial courts. When falsely testify against him. Also, the trial court noted that the volume of the shabu involved in
there is no chemist, he would get a Special Order to testify, or bring the drug specimens, to this case was considerable, i.e., 247.98 grams and 4.03 grams for illegal sale and illegal
the courts. possession, respectively. To the mind of the trial court, such fact helped to dispel the
possibility that the drug specimens seized were merely planted by the police officers.
On 1 April 1998, Donald Vasquez took his examination in Managerial Statistics between 6:00 Furthermore, the RTC ruled that the positive testimonies of the police officers regarding the
to 9:00 o’clock p.m. Thereafter, he took a jeepney and alighted at Stop and Shop at Quiapo. illegal drug peddling activities of the appellant prevailed over the latter’s bare denials.
From there, he took a tricycle to his house, arriving at 9:45 o’clock that evening, where he
saw Reynaldo Siscar and Sonny San Diego, the latter a confidential informant of the Assuming for the sake of argument that the appellant was merely framed up by the police,
narcotics agents. the trial court pointed out that:

On 3 April 1998, at 1:45 o’clock in the morning, Donald’s household help, Anatolia Caredo, [T]he accused should have reported the said incident to the proper authorities, or asked help
who had just arrived from Antipolo that time, was eating while Donald was asleep. She heard from his Acting Chief [Idabel] Pagulayan from the NBI to testify and identify in Court the xerox
a knock on the door. Reynaldo Siscar opened the door and thereafter two (2) men entered, copy of the Disposition Form which she issued to the accused and the Affidavit dated April
poking guns at Reynaldo. They were followed by three (3) others. The door to Donald’s room 17, 1998 (xerox copy) executed by her or from Mr. Arturo A. Figueras, Acting Deputy
was kicked down and they entered his room. Donald, hearing noise, woke up to see P./Insp. Director, Technical Services of the NBI to testify and identify the Letter issued by the said
Fajardo pointing a gun at him. He saw that there were six (6) policemen searching his room, Acting Deputy Director in order to corroborate and strengthen his testimony that he was
picking up what they could get. One of them opened a cabinet and got drug specimens in indeed authorized to keep in his custody the said shabu to be presented or turned over to
[Donald’s] possession in relation to his work as a laboratory aide. The drugs came from two the Court as evidence, and he should have filed the proper charges against those police
(2) cases and marked as DD-93-1303 owned by Antonio Roxas, and DD-96-5392 owned by officers who were responsible for such act. But the accused did not even bother to do the
SPO4 Emiliano Anonas. The drug specimen contained in the envelope marked as DD-93- same. Further, the pieces of evidence (Disposition Form, Affidavit of [Idabel] Pagulayan and
1303 was intended for presentation on 3 April 1998. Aside from the drug specimens, the Letter dated March 27, 1998 issued by Acting Deputy Director) presented by the accused in
policemen also took his jewelry, a VHS player, and his wallet containing ₱2,530.00. Court could not be given weight and credence considering that the said persons were not
presented in Court to identify the said documents and that the prosecution has no opportunity
Angelina Arejado, Donald’s neighbor, witnessed the policemen entering the apartment and to cross-examine the same, thus, it has no probative value.47
apprehending Donald and Reynaldo from the apartment terrace.40 (Citations omitted.)
The trial court, thus, decreed:
The defense then offered the following evidence: (1) NBI Disposition Form 41 dated April 3,
1998 (Exhibit 1); (2) Sworn Statement of Idabel Bernabe Pagulayan 42 (Exhibit 2); (3) WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
Photocopy of the buy-bust money43 (Exhibit 3); (4) List of Hearings44 attended by Donald
Vasquez (Exhibit 4); (5) Authorization Letter45 prepared by Acting Deputy Director Arturo A. 1. In Crim. Case No. 98-164174, finding accused, DONALD VASQUEZ y
Figueras dated March 27, 1998 (Exhibit 5); and (6) List of Evidence46 taken by Donald SANDIGAN @ "DON" guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Violation of
Vasquez from 1996-1998 (Exhibit 6). Sec. 15, Art. III in Relation to Sec.

The Decision of the RTC

2 (e), (f), (m), (o), Art. I of R.A. No. 6425 and hereby sentences him to suffer the officers and (2) his supposed authority to possess the illegal drugs seized from him. 51 He
penalty of reclusion perpetua and a fine of ₱5,000,000.00; and 2. In Crim. Case argues that the police officers did not have a search warrant or a warrant of arrest at the time
No. 98-164175, judgment is hereby rendered finding the accused, DONALD he was arrested. This occurred despite the fact that the police officers allegedly had ample
VASQUEZ y SANDIGAN @ "DON" guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of time to secure a warrant of arrest against him. Inasmuch as his arrest was illegal, the
Violation of Sec. 16, Art. III in Relation to Sec. 2 (e-2) Art. I of R.A. 6425 as appellant avers that the evidence obtained as a result thereof was inadmissible in court. As
Amended by Batas Pambansa Bilang 179 and hereby sentences him to suffer the the corpus delicti of the crime was rendered inadmissible, the appellant posits that his guilt
penalty of SIX (6) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY to FOUR (4) YEARS and a fine of was not proven beyond reasonable doubt. Appellant further insists that he was able to prove
FOUR THOUSAND (₱4,000.00) PESOS. that he was authorized to keep the drug specimens in his custody, given that he was an
employee of the NBI Forensic Chemistry Laboratory who was tasked with the duty to bring
The subject shabu (247.98 grams and 4.03 grams, respectively) are hereby forfeited in favor drug specimens in court.
of the government and the Branch Clerk of Court is hereby directed to deliver and/or cause
the delivery of the said shabu to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), upon the After an assiduous review of the evidence adduced by both parties to this case, we resolve
finality of this Decision.48 to deny this appeal.

The Judgment of the Court of Appeals At the outset, the Court rules that the appellant can no longer assail the validity of his arrest.
We reiterated in People v. Tampis52 that "[a]ny objection, defect or irregularity attending an
On appeal,49 the Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of the appellant. The appellate arrest must be made before the accused enters his plea on arraignment. Having failed to
court ruled that the prosecution sufficiently proved the elements of the crimes of illegal sale move for the quashing of the information against them before their arraignment, appellants
and illegal possession of shabu. The testimony of P/Insp. Fajardo on the conduct of the buy- are now estopped from questioning the legality of their arrest. Any irregularity was cured
bust operation was found to be clear and categorical. As the appellant failed to adduce any upon their voluntary submission to the trial court’s jurisdiction."53 Be that as it may, the fact
evidence that tended to prove any ill motive on the part of the police officers to falsely charge of the matter is that the appellant was caught in flagrante delicto of selling illegal drugs to an
the appellant, the Court of Appeals held that the presumption of regularity in the performance undercover police officer in a buy-bust operation. His arrest, thus, falls within the ambit of
of official duties on the part of the police officers had not been controverted in this case. Section 5(a), Rule 11354 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure when an arrest made
without warrant is deemed lawful. Having established the validity of the warrantless arrest in
this case, the Court holds that the warrantless seizure of the illegal drugs from the appellant
The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals decision stated:
is likewise valid. We held in People v. Cabugatan55 that:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is hereby DENIED. The August 6,
This interdiction against warrantless searches and seizures, however, is not absolute and
2009 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 41 of the City of Manila in Criminal Cases
such warrantless searches and seizures have long been deemed permissible by
No. 98-164174-75, finding appellant Donald Vasquez y Sandigan guilty beyond reasonable
jurisprudence in instances of (1) search of moving vehicles, (2) seizure in plain view, (3)
doubt for the crimes of Violation of Section 15 and Section 16, Article III of Republic Act No.
customs searches, (4) waiver or consented searches, (5) stop and frisk situations (Terry
6425 is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that in Criminal Case No. 98-164175, appellant
search), and search incidental to a lawful arrest. The last includes a valid warrantless arrest,
is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of six months of arresto mayor, as
for, while as a rule, an arrest is considered legitimate [if] effected with a valid warrant of
minimum, to two years, four months and one day of prision correccional in its medium period,
arrest, the Rules of Court recognize permissible warrantless arrest, to wit: (1) arrest in
as maximum.50
flagrante delicto, (2) arrest effected in hot pursuit, and (3) arrest of escaped prisoners.
(Citation omitted.)
The Ruling of the Court
Thus, the appellant cannot seek exculpation by invoking belatedly the invalidity of his arrest
The appellant appealed his case to this Court to once again impugn his conviction on two and the subsequent search upon his person.
grounds: (1) the purported illegality of the search and the ensuing arrest done by the police
We now rule on the substantive matters. falsely incriminate him. The appellant himself even testified that, not only did he not have
any misunderstanding with P/Insp. Fajardo and PO2 Trambulo prior to his arrest, he in fact
To secure a conviction for the crime of illegal sale of regulated or prohibited drugs, the did not know them at all.60 In the absence of evidence of such ill motive, none is presumed
following elements should be satisfactorily proven: (1) the identity of the buyer and seller, the to exist.61
object, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment
therefor.56 As held in People v. Chua Tan Lee,57 in a prosecution of illegal sale of drugs, The records of this case are also silent as to any measures undertaken by the appellant to
"what is material is proof that the accused peddled illicit drugs, coupled with the presentation criminally or administratively charge the police officers herein for falsely framing him up for
in court of the corpus delicti." On the other hand, the elements of illegal possession of drugs selling and possessing illegal drugs. Such a move would not have been a daunting task for
are: (1) the accused is in possession of an item or object which is identified to be a prohibited the appellant under the circumstances. Being a regular employee of the NBI, the appellant
drug; (2) such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) the accused freely and could have easily sought the help of his immediate supervisors and/or the chief of his office
consciously possessed the said drug.58 to extricate him from his predicament. Instead, what the appellant offered in evidence were
mere photocopies of documents that supposedly showed that he was authorized to keep
In the case at bar, the testimonies of P/Insp. Fajardo and PO2 Trambulo established that a drug specimens in his custody. That the original documents and the testimonies of the
buy-bust operation was legitimately carried out in the wee hours of April 3, 1998 to entrap signatories thereof were not at all presented in court did nothing to help the appellant’s case.
the appellant. P/Insp. Fajardo, the poseur-buyer, positively identified the appellant as the To the mind of the Court, the evidence offered by the appellant failed to persuade amid the
one who sold to her six plastic bags of shabu that were contained in a big brown envelope positive and categorical testimonies of the arresting officers that the appellant was caught
for the price of ₱250,000.00. She likewise identified the six plastic bags of shabu, which red-handed selling and possessing a considerable amount of prohibited drugs on the night
contained the markings she placed thereon after the same were seized from the appellant. of the buy-bust operation.
When subjected to laboratory examination, the white crystalline powder contained in the
plastic bags tested positive for shabu. We find that P/Insp. Fajardo’s testimony on the events It is apropos to reiterate here that where there is no showing that the trial court overlooked
that transpired during the conduct of the buy-bust operation was detailed and straightforward. or misinterpreted some material facts or that it gravely abused its discretion, the Court will
She was also consistent and unwavering in her narration even in the face of the opposing not disturb the trial court’s assessment of the facts and the credibility of the witnesses since
counsel’s cross-examination. the RTC was in a better position to assess and weigh the evidence presented during trial.
Settled too is the rule that the factual findings of the appellate court sustaining those of the
Apart from her description of the events that led to the exchange of the drug specimens trial court are binding on this Court, unless there is a clear showing that such findings are
seized and the buy-bust money, P/Insp. Fajardo further testified as to the recovery from the tainted with arbitrariness, capriciousness or palpable error.62
appellant of another 12 pieces of plastic sachets of shabu. After the latter was arrested,
P/Insp. Fajardo stated that PO2 Trambulo conducted a body search on the appellant. This On the basis of the foregoing, the Court is convinced that the prosecution was able to
search resulted to the confiscation of 12 more plastic sachets, the contents of which also establish the guilt of the appellant of the crimes charged.
tested positive for shabu. The testimony of P/Insp. Fajardo was amply corroborated by PO2
Trambulo, whose own account dovetailed the former’s narration of events. Both police The Penalties
officers also identified in court the twelve plastic sachets of shabu that were confiscated from
the appellant.
Anent the proper imposable penalties, Section 15 and Section 16, Article III, in relation to
Section 20(3) of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, state:
In People v. Ting Uy,59 the Court explains that "credence shall be given to the narration of
the incident by prosecution witnesses especially so when they are police officers who are
SEC. 15. Sale, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Transportation and Distribution of
presumed to have performed their duties in a regular manner, unless there be evidence to
Regulated Drugs. - The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five
the contrary." In the instant case, the appellant failed to ascribe, much less satisfactorily
hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos shall be imposed upon any person who, unless
prove, any improper motive on the part of the prosecution witnesses as to why they would
authorized by law, shall sell, dispense, deliver, transport or distribute any regulated drug.
Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 20 of this Act to the contrary, if the victim of the imposition of either reclusion perpetua or, if there be aggravating circumstances, the death
offense is a minor, or should a regulated drug involved in any offense under this Section be penalty.
the proximate cause of the death of a victim thereof, the maximum penalty herein provided
shall be imposed. SEC. 16. Possession or Use of Regulated Drugs. - The penalty of reclusion Pertinently, Article 6363 of the Revised Penal Code mandates that when the law prescribes
perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos a penalty composed of two indivisible penalties and there are neither mitigating nor
shall be imposed upon any person who shall possess or use any regulated drug without the aggravating circumstances in the commission of the crime, the lesser penalty shall be
corresponding license or prescription, subject to the provisions of Section 20 hereof. applied.1âwphi1 Thus, in this case, considering that no mitigating or aggravating
circumstances attended the appellant’s violation of Section 15, Article III of Republic Act No.
SEC. 20. Application of Penalties, Confiscation and Forfeiture of the Proceeds or Instruments 6425, as amended, the Court of Appeals correctly affirmed the trial court’s imposition of
of the Crime. - The penalties for offenses under Sections 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 of Article II and reclusion perpetua. The ₱5,000,000.00 fine imposed by the RTC on the appellant is also in
Sections 14, 14-A, 15 and 16 of Article III of this Act shall be applied if the dangerous drugs accord with Section 15, Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended.
involved is in any of the following quantities:
As to the charge of illegal possession of regulated drugs in Criminal Case No. 98-164175,
1. 40 grams or more of opium; the Court of Appeals properly invoked our ruling in People v. Tira64 in determining the proper
imposable penalty. Indeed, we held in Tira that:
2. 40 grams or more of morphine;
Under Section 16, Article III of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended, the imposable penalty of
3. 200 grams or more of shabu or methylamphetamine hydrochloride; possession of a regulated drug, less than 200 grams, in this case, shabu, is prision
correccional to reclusion perpetua. Based on the quantity of the regulated drug subject of the
offense, the imposable penalty shall be as follows:
4. 40 grams or more of heroin;

5. 750 grams or more of Indian hemp or marijuana; QUANTITY IMPOSABLE PENALTY

6. 50 grams or more of marijuana resin or marijuana resin oil; Less than one (1) gram to 49.25 grams prision correccional

49.26 grams to 98.50 grams prision mayor

7. 40 grams or more of cocaine or cocaine hydrocholoride; or
98.51 grams to 147.75 grams reclusion temporal
8. In the case of other dangerous drugs, the quantity of which is far beyond
147.76 grams to 199 grams reclusion perpetua
therapeutic requirements, as determined and promulgated by the Dangerous
(Emphases ours.)
Drugs Board, after public consultations/hearings conducted for the purpose.

Otherwise, if the quantity involved is less than the foregoing quantities, the penalty shall Given that the additional 12 plastic sachets of shabu found in the possession of the appellant
range from prision correccional to reclusion perpetua depending upon the quantity. amounted to 4.03 grams, the imposable penalty for the crime is prision correccional. Applying
(Emphases supplied.) the Indeterminate Sentence Law, there being no aggravating or mitigating circumstance in
this case, the imposable penalty on the appellant should be the indeterminate sentence of
In Criminal Case No. 98-164174 involving the crime of illegal sale of regulated drugs, the six months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to four years and two months of prision
appellant was found to have sold to the poseur-buyer in this case a total of 247.98 grams of correccional, as maximum. The penalty imposed by the Court of Appeals, thus, falls within
shabu, which amount is more than the minimum of 200 grams required by the law for the the range of the proper imposable penalty. In Criminal Case No. 98-164175, no fine is
imposable considering that in Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, a fine can be imposed
as a conjunctive penalty only if the penalty is reclusion perpetua to death.65

Incidentally, the Court notes that both parties in this case admitted that the appellant was a
regular employee of the NBI Forensics Chemistry Division. Such fact, however, cannot be
taken into consideration to increase the penalties in this case to the maximum, in accordance
with Section 24 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended.66 Such a special aggravating
circumstance, i.e., one that which arises under special conditions to increase the penalty for
the offense to its maximum period,67 was not alleged and charged in the informations. Thus,
the same was properly disregarded by the lower courts.

All told, the Court finds no reason to overturn the conviction of the appellant.

WHEREFORE, the Court of Appeals Decision dated May 31, 2011 in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No.
04201 is AFFIRMED. No costs.

Republic Act No. 7438 April 27, 1992 presence of his counsel or in the latter's absence, upon a valid waiver, and in the
presence of any of the parents, elder brothers and sisters, his spouse, the
AN ACT DEFINING CERTAIN RIGHTS OF PERSON ARRESTED, DETAINED OR municipal mayor, the municipal judge, district school supervisor, or priest or
UNDER CUSTODIAL INVESTIGATION AS WELL AS THE DUTIES OF THE minister of the gospel as chosen by him; otherwise, such extrajudicial confession
ARRESTING, DETAINING AND INVESTIGATING OFFICERS, AND PROVIDING shall be inadmissible as evidence in any proceeding.
(e) Any waiver by a person arrested or detained under the provisions of Article
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress 125 of the Revised Penal Code, or under custodial investigation, shall be in
assembled: writing and signed by such person in the presence of his counsel; otherwise the
waiver shall be null and void and of no effect.
Section 1. Statement of Policy. – It is the policy of the Senate to value the dignity of
every human being and guarantee full respect for human rights. (f) Any person arrested or detained or under custodial investigation shall be
allowed visits by or conferences with any member of his immediate family, or any
medical doctor or priest or religious minister chosen by him or by any member of
Section 2. Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or Under Custodial Investigation;
his immediate family or by his counsel, or by any national non-governmental
Duties of Public Officers. –
organization duly accredited by the Commission on Human Rights of by any
international non-governmental organization duly accredited by the Office of the
(a) Any person arrested detained or under custodial investigation shall at all President. The person's "immediate family" shall include his or her spouse, fiancé
times be assisted by counsel. or fiancée, parent or child, brother or sister, grandparent or grandchild, uncle or
aunt, nephew or niece, and guardian or ward.
(b) Any public officer or employee, or anyone acting under his order or his place,
who arrests, detains or investigates any person for the commission of an offense As used in this Act, "custodial investigation" shall include the practice of issuing an
shall inform the latter, in a language known to and understood by him, of his "invitation" to a person who is investigated in connection with an offense he is suspected to
rights to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel, have committed, without prejudice to the liability of the "inviting" officer for any violation of
preferably of his own choice, who shall at all times be allowed to confer privately law.
with the person arrested, detained or under custodial investigation. If such
person cannot afford the services of his own counsel, he must be provided with a
Section 3. Assisting Counsel. – Assisting counsel is any lawyer, except those directly
competent and independent counsel by the investigating officer.lawphi1Ÿ
affected by the case, those charged with conducting preliminary investigation or those
charged with the prosecution of crimes.
(c) The custodial investigation report shall be reduced to writing by the
investigating officer, provided that before such report is signed, or thumbmarked
The assisting counsel other than the government lawyers shall be entitled to the following
if the person arrested or detained does not know how to read and write, it shall
be read and adequately explained to him by his counsel or by the assisting
counsel provided by the investigating officer in the language or dialect known to
such arrested or detained person, otherwise, such investigation report shall be (a) The amount of One hundred fifty pesos (P150.00) if the suspected person is
null and void and of no effect whatsoever. chargeable with light felonies;lawphi1©alf

(d) Any extrajudicial confession made by a person arrested, detained or under (b) The amount of Two hundred fifty pesos (P250.00) if the suspected person is
custodial investigation shall be in writing and signed by such person in the chargeable with less grave or grave felonies;
(c) The amount of Three hundred fifty pesos (P350.00) if the suspected person is The provisions of the above Section notwithstanding, any security officer with custodial
chargeable with a capital offense. responsibility over any detainee or prisoner may undertake such reasonable measures as
may be necessary to secure his safety and prevent his escape.
The fee for the assisting counsel shall be paid by the city or municipality where
the custodial investigation is conducted, provided that if the municipality of city Section 5. Repealing Clause. – Republic Act No. No. 857, as amended, is hereby
cannot pay such fee, the province comprising such municipality or city shall pay repealed. Other laws, presidential decrees, executive orders or rules and regulations, or
the fee: Provided, That the Municipal or City Treasurer must certify that no funds parts thereof inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are repealed or modified
are available to pay the fees of assisting counsel before the province pays said accordingly.
Section 6. Effectivity. – This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days following its publication
In the absence of any lawyer, no custodial investigation shall be conducted and the in the Official Gazette or in any daily newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines.
suspected person can only be detained by the investigating officer in accordance with the
provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code. Approved: April 27, 1992.lawphi1Ÿ

Section 4. Penalty Clause. – (a) Any arresting public officer or employee, or any
investigating officer, who fails to inform any person arrested, detained or under custodial
investigation of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel
preferably of his own choice, shall suffer a fine of Six thousand pesos (P6,000.00) or a
penalty of imprisonment of not less than eight (8) years but not more than ten (10) years, or
both. The penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification shall also be imposed upon the
investigating officer who has been previously convicted of a similar offense.

The same penalties shall be imposed upon a public officer or employee, or

anyone acting upon orders of such investigating officer or in his place, who fails
to provide a competent and independent counsel to a person arrested, detained
or under custodial investigation for the commission of an offense if the latter
cannot afford the services of his own counsel.

(b) Any person who obstructs, prevents or prohibits any lawyer, any member of
the immediate family of a person arrested, detained or under custodial
investigation, or any medical doctor or priest or religious minister chosen by him
or by any member of his immediate family or by his counsel, from visiting and
conferring privately with him, or from examining and treating him, or from
ministering to his spiritual needs, at any hour of the day or, in urgent cases, of
the night shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than four (4) years
nor more than six (6) years, and a fine of four thousand pesos