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People vs Molina

19 February 2001 | Ponente: Ynares-Santiago Overview: SPO1 Paguidopon received a tip about drug pushers. He previously caught a glimpse of one of them, Mula, so he was able to point to him and his companion, Molina, to arresting officers when they were aboard a trisikad. Upon accosting them, the police were able to find marijuana in a bag carried by Molina, leading to their arrest. The court however held that they were illegally arrested because their case dont fall under the exception of an in flagrante delicto arrest, there being no outward indication that could justify their arrest. Statement of the Case: This is for review of the decision of the RTC finding Nasario Molina alias "Bobong" and Gregorio Mula alias "Boboy" guilty of violation of Sec. 8 of RA 6245, or the Dangerous Drugs Act, by possessing 946.9 grants of dried marijuana. Molina and Mula pleaded guilty upon arraingnment. Statement of Facts: On June 1996, SPO1 Marino Paguidopon received information about a marijuana pusher in Davao. Paguidopon first saw the pusher in person on July of the same year, when his informer identified Mula as the driver of a motorcylce who just passed by them. Molina, on the other hand, was never identified prior arrest. In the morning of August 8, 1996, Paguidopon received information that the drug pushers will pass by at NHA, Ma-a, Davao City that morning, so he called for assistance from the PNP. A team composed of SPO4 Cloribel, SPO2 Paguidopon (brother of Marino), and SPO1 Pamplona were dispatched to proceed to Marino's housee where they'll wait for the drug pushers will pass by. Two hours later, a "trisikad" identified by Paguidopon as carrying Molina and Mula passed by. So, the team boarded their vehicle, overtook the trisikad and accosted the two. At that point, Mula was holding a black bag. He handed the same to Molina. Pamplona, introducing himself as a police officer, asked Molina to open the bag, to which Molina replied "Boss, if possible, we will settle this." Pamplona insisted on opening the bag, which revealed dried marijuana leaves inside. Thereafter, Mula and Molina were handcuffed. Mula and Molina filed a Demurrer to Evidence, saying that the marijuna was illegally seized from them, therefore it is inadmissible. The trial court denied this. The two waived presentation of evidence, and opted to file a joint memorandum. Later, the trial court still found them guilty, and sentenced them to suffer the death penalty. Pursuant to Art. 47 of the RPC and Rule 122, Sec. 10 of the ROC, the case is elevated to the SC on automatic review. The SolGen moved for the acquittal of the two.

Issue and Held: - Was the arrest of Mula and Molina fall under the exception of in flagrante delicto in warrantless arrests? NO Applicable Laws: Article III, Sec. 2 Article III, Sec. 3 Rationale: The law mandates that searches be carried out with a search warrant upon the existence of probable cause. Likewise, the law protects against unreasonable searches and seizures and holds evidence taken from such incidents as inadmissible as evidence. - There are exceptions to this, the first being seizure conducted incidental to a lawful arrest. For this, there should be a lawful arrest first, before a search can be made. It doesn't work the other way around. Likewise, as a rule, an arrest is legitimate if it's with a valid warrant of arrest. However, a police officer may conduct warrantless arrests: (a) In flagrante delicto - when, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense (b) Arrest effected in hot pursuit - when an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it. (c) Arrest of escaped prisoners - when the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from penal establishment or a place where he is serving final judgment or is temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.

In this case, the trial court found that the warrantless arrest and seizure were valid apparently because they were caught in flagrante delicto in possession of the prohibited drugs. But the question is: does the present case aptly fall within the exceptions to the warrant requirement? In in flagrante delicto arrests, it is settled that "reliable information" alone is not sufficient to constitute probable cause that would justify in flagrante delicto arrests. o People vs Chua Ho San: The arresting officer must have personal knowledge that the person he is arresting has committed, is committing or is about to commit the offense. o People vs Aminnudin: The accused was just disembarking the vessel. He only became suspect when the informer pointed him to the officials.

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People vs Mengote: eyes darting from side to side while holding one's abdomen, is not indicative of probable cause to suspect the accused of committing the offense. People vs Encinada: riding a motorela while holding two plastic baby chairs is also not indicative of probable cause Malacat vs CA: "standing on the corner with his eyes moving very fast and looking at every person that come nearer to them" is not an act evidencing that the accused is attempting to commit a crime. There was no ground to even believe that the accused was armed with a weapon since even a telltale bulge at the front waistline of the accused wouldn't be visible from the officers' view.

To constitute in flagrante delcito arrests, there are two requisites: 1. The person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime 2. Such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer. In the present case, Mula and Molina manifested no outward indication to justify their arrest. Holding a bag, Molina saying "Boss, if possible we will settle this", which allegedly arouse the suspicion of the officers, are not constitutive of probable cause. Were it not for Paguidopon, the accused won't even be identified nor found suspicious. As to Mula and Molina's identity, Paguidopon said that he conducted a surveillance of Mula, and caught a glimpse of him on the road. However, he doesn't even know his name or address. As to Molina, he admits not seeing him before the arrest. With this, Pamplona's claim that he knew of the name of the accused is baseless. This case is different from People vs Encinada, because there the officers knew the identity of the person to be arrested. Nevertheless the arrest was still held illegal since the accused did not show any suspicious behavior. It can't be said that the accused waived their right against unreasonable searches and seizure just because they had an implied acquiescence to the search. This was mere passive conformity given the circumstance.

Judgment: Mula and Molina are acquitted. Both the arrest and the seizure are illegal.