Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 16

RULE 113

Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court

G. R. No. 197788

- versus -



CARPIO, J., Chairperson,

February 29, 2012

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 seeking to set aside the Court of Appeals
(CA) Decision in CA-G.R. CR No. 32516 dated 18 February 2011 [2] and Resolution dated 8 July 2011.
Statement of the Facts and of the Case
The facts, as found by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), which sustained the version of the
prosecution, are as follows:
PO2 Emmanuel L. Alteza, who was then assigned at the Sub-Station 1 of the Naga
City Police Station as a traffic enforcer, substantially testified that on March 10, 2003 at
around 3:00 oclock in the morning, he saw the accused, who was coming from the direction
of Panganiban Drive and going to Diversion Road, Naga City, driving a motorcycle without a
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;
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 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 have a weapon inside it; that the accused obliged and slowly put out the
contents of the pocket of his jacket which was a nickel-like tin or metal container about two
(2) to three (3) inches in size, including two (2) cellphones, one (1) pair of scissors and one
(1) Swiss knife; that upon seeing the said container, he asked the accused to open it; that
after the accused 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 out to be four (4) plastic sachets, the two (2) of which were empty while
the other two (2) contained suspected shabu.[3]
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 September 2003, after which, trial

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
drugs[5] committed on 10 March 2003. It found the prosecution evidence sufficient to show that he had
been lawfully arrested for a traffic violation and then subjected to a valid search, which led to the
discovery on his person of two plastic sachets later found to contain 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:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered, finding accused RODEL LUZ y
ONG GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of violation of Section 11, Article II of
Republic Act 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 pay a fine of Three Hundred Thousand Pesos (300,000.00).
The subject shabu is hereby confiscated for turn over to the Philippine Drug
Enforcement Agency for its proper disposition and destruction in accordance with law.
Upon review, the CA affirmed the RTCs Decision.
On 12 September 2011, petitioner filed under Rule 45 the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari
dated 1 September 2011. In a Resolution dated 12 October 2011, this Court required respondent to file a
comment on the Petition. On 4 January 2012, the latter filed its Comment dated 3 January 2012.
Petitioner raised the following grounds in support of his Petition:
Petitioner claims that there was no lawful search and seizure, because there was no lawful arrest. He
claims that the finding that there was a lawful arrest was erroneous, since he was not even issued a
citation ticket or charged with violation of the city ordinance. Even assuming there was a valid arrest, he
claims that he had never consented to the search conducted upon him.
On the other hand, finding that petitioner had been lawfully arrested, the RTC held thus:
It is beyond dispute that the accused was flagged down and apprehended in this case by
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 and prescribing penalties for violation thereof. The accused himself admitted that he
was not 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
apprehending officers to flag down and arrest the accused because the latter was actually
committing a crime in their presence, that is, a violation of City Ordinance No. 98-012. In
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]
We find the Petition to be impressed with merit, but not for the particular reasons alleged. In criminal
cases, an appeal throws the entire case wide open for review and the reviewing tribunal can correct errors,
though unassigned in the appealed judgment, or even reverse the trial courts decision based on grounds
other than those that the parties raised as errors.[9]
First, there was no valid arrest of petitioner. When he was flagged down for committing a traffic
violation, he was not, ipso factoand solely for this reason, arrested.
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 arrested or by that
persons voluntary submission to the custody of the one making the arrest. 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 drivers license of the latter:
SECTION 29. Confiscation of Driver's License. Law enforcement and peace officers of
other agencies duly deputized by the Director shall, in apprehending a driver for any
violation of this Act or any regulations issued pursuant thereto, or of local traffic rules and
regulations not contrary to any provisions of this Act, confiscate the license of the driver
concerned and 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 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 the date of apprehension will be a ground for the suspension and/or
revocation of his license.
Similarly, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Operations Manual [12] provides the following procedure for
flagging down vehicles during the conduct of checkpoints:
SECTION 7. Procedure in Flagging Down or Accosting Vehicles While in Mobile Car.
This rule is a general concept and will not apply in hot pursuit operations. The mobile car
crew shall undertake the following, when applicable: x x x
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 with the driver or any of the vehicles occupants;
At the time that he was waiting for PO3 Alteza to write his citation ticket, petitioner could not be
said to have been under arrest. There was no intention on the part of PO3 Alteza to arrest him, deprive him
of his liberty, or take him into custody. Prior to the issuance of the ticket, the period during which petitioner
was at the police station may be characterized merely as waiting time. In fact, as found by the trial court,
PO3 Alteza himself testified that the only reason they went to the police sub-station was that petitioner
had been flagged down 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 Berkemer v. McCarty,[13] the United States (U.S.) Supreme Court discussed at length whether the
roadside questioning of a motorist detained pursuant to a routine traffic stop should be considered
custodial interrogation. The Court held that, such questioning does not fall under custodial interrogation,
nor can it be considered a formal arrest, by virtue of the 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:
It must be acknowledged at the outset that a traffic stop significantly curtails the
freedom of action of the driver and the passengers, if any, of the detained vehicle. Under the
law of most States, it is a crime either to ignore a policemans signal to stop ones car or,
once having stopped, to drive away without permission. x x x
However, we decline to accord talismanic power to the phrase in the Miranda opinion
emphasized by respondent. Fidelity to the doctrine announced in Miranda requires that it be
enforced strictly, but only in those types of situations in which the concerns that powered
the 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-incrimination to require that he be warned of his constitutional rights.
Two features of an ordinary traffic stop mitigate the danger that a person questioned
will be induced to speak where he would not otherwise do so freely, Miranda v. Arizona, 384
U. S., at 467. First, detention of a motorist pursuant to a traffic stop is
presumptively temporary and brief. The vast majority of roadside detentions last only a
few minutes. A motorists expectations, when he sees a policemans light flashing behind him,
are that he will be obliged to spend a short period of time answering questions and waiting
while the officer checks his license and registration, that he may then be given a citation,
but that in the end he most likely will be allowed to continue on his way. In this respect,
questioning incident to an ordinary traffic stop is quite different from stationhouse
interrogation, which frequently is 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.
Second, circumstances associated with the typical traffic stop are not such
that the motorist feels completely at the mercy of the police. To be sure, the aura of
authority surrounding an armed, uniformed officer and the knowledge that the officer has
some discretion in deciding whether to issue a citation, in combination, exert some pressure
on the detainee to respond to questions. But other aspects of the situation substantially

offset these forces. Perhaps most importantly, the typical traffic stop is public, at least to
some degree. x x x
In both of these respects, the usual traffic stop is more analogous to a socalled Terry stop, see Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1 (1968), than to a formal arrest. x x x
The comparatively nonthreatening character of detentions of this sort explains the absence
of any suggestion in our opinions that Terry stops are subject to the dictates of Miranda. The
similarly noncoercive aspect of ordinary traffic stops prompts us to hold that persons
temporarily detained pursuant to such stops are not in custody for the purposes of Miranda.
We are confident that the state of affairs projected by respondent will not come to
pass. It is settled that the safeguards prescribed by Miranda become applicable as soon as a
suspects freedom of action is curtailed to a degree associated with formal arrest. California
v. 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 for
practical purposes, he will be entitled to the full panoply of protections prescribed by
Miranda. See Oregon v. Mathiason, 429 U. S. 492, 495 (1977) (per curiam). (Emphasis
The U.S. Court in Berkemer thus ruled that, since the motorist therein was only subjected to 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 can treatment of this sort be fairly
characterized as the functional equivalent of a formal arrest. Similarly, neither can petitioner here be
considered under arrest at the time that his traffic citation was being made.
It also appears that, according to City Ordinance No. 98-012, which was violated by petitioner, the failure
to wear a crash helmet while riding a motorcycle is penalized by a fine only. Under the Rules of Court, a
warrant of arrest need not be issued if the information or charge was filed for an offense penalized by a
fine only. It may be stated as a corollary that neither can a warrantless arrest be made for such an offense.
This ruling does not imply that there can be no arrest for a traffic violation. Certainly, when there is an
intent on the part of the police officer to deprive the motorist of liberty, or to take the latter into custody,
the former may be deemed to have arrested the motorist. In this case, however, the officers issuance (or
intent to issue) a traffic citation ticket negates the possibility of an arrest for the same violation.
Even if one were to work under the assumption that petitioner was deemed arrested upon
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.
This Court has held that at the time a person is arrested, it shall be the duty of the arresting officer
to inform the latter of the reason for the arrest and must show that person the warrant of arrest, if any.
Persons shall be informed of their constitutional rights to remain silent and to counsel, and that any
statement they might make could be used against them. [14] It may also be noted that in this case, these
constitutional requirements were complied with by the police officers only after petitioner had been
arrested for illegal possession of dangerous drugs.
In Berkemer, the U.S. Court also noted that the Miranda warnings must also be given to a person
apprehended due to a traffic violation:
The purposes of the safeguards prescribed by Miranda are to ensure that the police
do not coerce or trick captive suspects into confessing, to relieve the inherently compelling
pressures generated by the custodial setting itself, which work to undermine the individuals
will to resist, and as much as possible to free courts from the task of scrutinizing individual
cases to try to determine, after the fact, whether particular confessions were voluntary.
Those purposes are implicated as much by in-custody questioning of persons suspected of
misdemeanors as they are by questioning of persons suspected of felonies.
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 him to be arrested for a second
timeafter the police officers allegedly discovered the drugsas he was already in their custody.
Second, there being no valid arrest, the warrantless search that resulted from it was likewise
The following are the instances when a warrantless search is allowed: (i) a warrantless search incidental to
a lawful arrest; (ii) search of evidence in plain view; (iii) search of a moving vehicle; (iv) consented
warrantless search; (v) customs search; (vi) a stop and frisk search; and (vii) exigent and emergency
circumstances.[15] None of the above-mentioned instances, especially a search incident to a lawful arrest,
are applicable to this case.

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 petitioners pocket. Clearly, the
evidence was not immediately apparent.[16]
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 validate an otherwise illegal
search; that is, the consent must be unequivocal, specific, intelligently given and uncontaminated by any
duress or coercion. While the prosecution claims that petitioner acceded to the instruction of PO3 Alteza,
this alleged accession does not suffice to prove valid and intelligent consent. In fact, the RTC found that
petitioner was merely told to take out the contents of his pocket. [18]
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 characteristics of the
person giving consent and the environment in which consent is given: (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 and intelligence of the defendant; (5) the presence of
coercive police procedures; (6) the defendants belief that no incriminating evidence would be found; (7)
the nature of the police questioning; (8) the environment in which the questioning took place; and (9) the
possibly vulnerable subjective state of the person consenting. It is the State that has the burden of
proving, by clear and positive testimony, that the necessary consent was obtained, and was freely and
voluntarily given.[19] In this case, all that was alleged was that petitioner was alone 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.
Neither does the search qualify under the stop and frisk rule. While the rule normally applies when a police
officer observes suspicious or unusual conduct, which may lead him to believe that a criminal act may be
afoot, the stop and frisk is merely a limited protective search of outer clothing for weapons. [20]
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 held that there was no justification for a fullblown search when the officer does not arrest the motorist. Instead, police officers may only conduct
minimal intrusions, such as ordering the motorist to alight from the car or doing a patdown:
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 need to preserve evidence for later use at trial. x x x But neither of these underlying
rationales for the search incident to arrest exception is sufficient to justify the search in the
present case.
We have recognized that the first rationaleofficer safetyis both legitimate and
weighty, x x x The threat to officer safety from issuing a traffic citation, however, is a good
deal less than in the case of a custodial arrest. In Robinson, we stated that a custodial arrest
involves danger to an officer because of the extended exposure which follows the taking of a
suspect into custody and transporting him to the police station. 414 U. S., at 234-235. We
recognized that [t]he danger to the police officer flows from the fact of the arrest, and its
attendant proximity, stress, and uncertainty, and not from the grounds for arrest. Id., at 234,
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 U. S. 420, 439 (1984). See also Cupp v. Murphy, 412 U. S. 291, 296 (1973)
(Where there is no formal arrest . . . a person might well be less hostile to the police and less
likely to take conspicuous, immediate steps to destroy incriminating evidence).
This is not to say that the concern for officer safety is absent in the case of
a routine traffic stop. It plainly is not. See Mimms, supra, at 110; Wilson, supra, at 413414. But while the concern for officer safety in this context may justify the minimal
additional intrusion of ordering a driver and passengers out of the car, it does not
by itself justify the often considerably greater intrusion attending a full fieldtype
search. Even without the search 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 arrestthe
need to discover and preserve evidence. Once Knowles was stopped for speeding and issued
a citation, all the evidence necessary to prosecute that offense had been obtained. 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.)
The foregoing considered, petitioner must be acquitted. While he may have failed to object to the illegality
of his arrest at the earliest opportunity, a waiver of an illegal warrantless arrest does not, however, mean a
waiver of the inadmissibility of evidence seized during the illegal warrantless arrest. [22]
The Constitution guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers
and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. [23] Any evidence obtained in violation of said right
shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding. While the power to search and seize may at times
be necessary to the public welfare, still it must be exercised and the law implemented without
contravening the constitutional rights of citizens, for the enforcement of no statute is of sufficient
importance to justify indifference to the basic principles of government. [24]
The subject items seized during the illegal arrest are inadmissible. [25] The drugs are the very corpus
delicti of the crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs. Thus, their inadmissibility precludes conviction
and calls for the acquittal of the accused. [26]
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The 18 February 2011 Decision of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CR No. 32516 affirming the judgment of conviction dated 19 February 2009 of the Regional Trial
Court, 5th Judicial Region, Naga City, Branch 21, in Criminal Case No. RTC 2003-0087, is
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Rodel Luz y Ong is herebyACQUITTED and ordered
immediately released from detention, unless his continued confinement is warranted by some other cause
or ground.

Republic of the Philippines

G.R. No. 180661
December 11, 2013
This case is about a supposed warrantless arrest and a subsequent search prompted by the police officers'
chance sighting through an ajar door of the accused engaged in pot session.
The Facts and the Case
On January 13, 2004 the second Assistant City Prosecutor of Pasay City charged the accused George Codes
Antiquera* and Corazon Olivenza Cruz with illegal possession of paraphernalia for dangerous
drugs 1 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasay City in Criminal Case 04-0100-CFM. 2 Since the
accused Cruz jumped bail, the court tried her in absentia. 3
The prosecution evidence shows that at around 4:45 a.m. of February 11, 2004, PO1 Gregorio Recio, PO1
Laurence Cabutihan, P/Insp. Eric Ibon, PO1 Rodelio Rania, and two civilian operatives on board a patrol car
and a tricycle were conducting a police visibility patrol on David Street, Pasay City, when they saw two
unidentified men rush out of house number 107-C and immediately boarded a jeep.

Suspecting that a crime had been committed, the police officers approached the house from where the
men came and peeked through the partially opened door. PO1 Recio and PO1 Cabutihan saw accused
Antiquera holding an improvised tooter and a pink lighter. Beside him was his live-in partner, Cruz, who
was holding an aluminum foil and an improvised burner. They sat facing each other at the living room. This
prompted the police officers to enter the house, introduce themselves, and arrest Antiquera and Cruz. 4
While inspecting the immediate surroundings, PO1 Cabutihan saw a wooden jewelry box 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 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
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, "Dyan ka lang, pusher
ka." He was handcuffed and someone instructed two of the officers to go to his room. The police later
brought accused Antiquera 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
On July 30, 2004 the RTC rendered a Decision8 that found accused Antiquera and Cruz guilty of the crime
charged and sentenced them to a prison term ranging from six months and one day to two years and four
months, and to pay a fine of P10,000.00 each and the costs of the suit.
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 possession. Since no ill
motive could be attributed to PO1 Recio and PO1 Cabutihan, the court accorded full faith and credit to their
testimony and rejected the self-serving claim of Antiquera.
The trial court gave no weight to accused Antiqueras claim of illegal arrest, given PO1 Recio and PO1
Cabutihans credible testimony that, prior to their arrest, they saw Antiquera and Cruz in a pot session at
their living room and in possession of drug paraphernalia. The police officers were thus justified in arresting
the two without a warrant pursuant to Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure. 9
On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) rendered a Decision 10 on September 21, 2007 affirming in full the
decision of the trial court. The accused moved for reconsideration but the CA denied it. 11 The accused is
now before this Court seeking acquittal.
The Issue Presented
The issue in this case is whether or not the CA erred in finding accused Antiquera guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of illegal possession of drug paraphernalia based on the evidence of the police officers that they saw
him and Cruz in the act of possessing drug paraphernalia.
Ruling of the Court
The prosecutions theory, upheld by both the RTC and the CA, is that it was a case of valid 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 officers the right as well to search the living
room for objects relating to the crime and thus seize the paraphernalia they found there.
The prosecution contends that, since the seized paraphernalia tested positive for shabu, they 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. That the accused tested negative for shabu, said
the prosecution, had no bearing on the 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 arrest when he voluntarily submitted himself to the courts jurisdiction by entering a plea of
not guilty.12
Section 5(a), Rule 113 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that a "peace officer or a private person
may, without a warrant, arrest a person when, in his presence, the person 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 presence or within the view of the arresting officer. 14
But the circumstances here do not make out a case of arrest made in flagrante delicto.
1. The police officers claim that they were alerted when they saw two unidentified men suddenly rush out
of 107 David Street, Pasay City. Since they suspected that a crime had been committed, the natural thing
for them to do was to give chase to the jeep that the two fleeing men boarded, given that the officers were
in a patrol car and a tricycle. Running after 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.

2. Admittedly, the police officers did not notice anything amiss going on in the house from the street where
they stood. Indeed, even as they peeked through its partially opened door, they saw no activity that
warranted their entering it. Thus, PO1 Cabutihan testified:
Q By the way, Mr. Cabutihan, when you followed your companion towards the open door, how was the
door open? Was it totally open, or was it partially open?
A It was partially open Your Honor.
Q By how much, 1/3, 1/2? Only by less than one (1) foot?
A More or less 4 to 6 inches, Your Honor.
Q So how were you able to know, to see the interior of the house if the door was only open
by 6 inches? Or did you have to push the door?
A We pushed the door, Your Honor.
Q Were you allowed to just go towards the door of the house, push its door and peeped inside it, as a
police officer?
A Kasi po naghinala po kami baka may
Q Are you not allowed to Are you not required to get a search warrant before you can search the
interior of the house?
A Yes, Your Honor.
Q What do you mean by yes? Would you first obtain a search warrant before searching the interior of the
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.1wphi1 The Court further ORDERS the cancellation and
release of the bail bond he posted for his provisional liberty.
Associate Justice
Associate Justice
Associate Justice


Associate Justice


Associate Justice
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer o the opinion of the Court's Division.
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Third Division

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's Attestation, I certify
that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned
to the writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.
Chief Justice

Republic of the Philippines

G.R. No. 200304
January 15, 2014
DONALD VASQUEZ y SANDIGAN @ "DON," Accused-Appellant,
The case before this Court is an appeal from the Decision1 dated May 31, 2011 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 04201. Said decision affirmed with modification the Joint Decision 2 dated August 6
2009 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 41, in Criminal Case Nos. 98-164174 and 98164175, which convicted the appellant Donald Vasquez y Sandigan of the crimes of illegal sale and illegal
possession of regulated drugs under Sections 15 and 16 Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended,
otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972.
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:
That on or about April 3, 1998 in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused not having been
authorized by law to sell, dispense, deliver, transport or distribute any regulated drug, 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 and 20.14 grams or with a total weight of
TWO HUNDRED FORTY-SEVEN POINT NINETY-EIGHT (247.98) grams contained in six (6) transparent plastic
sachets of white crystalline substance known as "Shabu" containing methamphetamine hydrochloride,
which is a regulated drug.4
Criminal Case No. 98-164175, on the other hand, arose from an alleged violation of Section 16, Article III of
Republic Act No. 6425, as amended,5 which was said to be committed in this manner:
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], 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
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 motion 7 of the
appellant, however, said case was allowed to be consolidated with Criminal 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 27, 1998, but the same was terminated without the parties
entering into any stipulation of facts.10
During the trial of the cases, the prosecution presented the testimonies of the following witnesses: (1)
Police Inspector (P/Insp.) Jean Fajardo,11 (2) P/Insp. Marilyn Dequito,12 and (3) Police Officer (PO) 2 Christian
Trambulo.13 Thereafter, the defense presented in court the testimonies of: (1) the appellant Donald
Vasquez y Sandigan,14 (2) Angelina Arejado,15 and (3) Anatolia Caredo.16
The Prosecutions Case
The prosecutions version of the events was primarily drawn from the testimonies of P/Insp. Fajardo and
PO2 Trambulo.
P/Insp. Fajardo testified that in the morning of April 1, 1998, a confidential informant went to their office
and reported that a certain Donald Vasquez was engaged in illegal drug activity. This alias Don supposedly
claimed that he was an employee of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). According to the informant,
alias Don promised him a good commission 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. Fajardo was the team
leader. With the help of the informant, she was able to set up a meeting with alias Don. The meeting was
to be held at around 9:00 p.m. on that day at Cindys Restaurant located in Welcome Rotonda. She was
only supposed to meet alias Don that night but she decided to bring the team along for security reasons. 17
At about 9:00 p.m. on even date, P/Insp. Fajardo and her team went to the meeting place with the
informant. The members of her team positioned themselves strategically inside the restaurant. The
informant introduced P/Insp. Fajardo to alias Don as the buyer of shabu. She asked alias Don if he was
indeed an employee of the NBI and he replied in the affirmative. They agreed to close the deal wherein she
would buy 250 grams of shabu forP250,000.00. They also agreed to meet the following day at Cindys
Restaurant around 10:00 to 11:00 p.m.18
In the evening of April 2, 1998, P/Insp. Fajardo and her team went back to Cindys Restaurant. Alias Don
was already waiting for her outside the establishment when she arrived. He asked for the money and she
replied that she had the money with her. She brought five genuine P500.00 bills, which were inserted on
top of five bundles of play money to make it appear that she had P250,000.00 with her. After she showed
the money to alias 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 Dons apartment at 765 Valdez St.,
Sampaloc, Manila. The team proceeded to the Western Police District (WPD) Station along U.N. Avenue for
coordination. Afterwards, the team held their final briefing before they proceeded to the target area. They
agreed that the pre-arranged signal was for P/Insp. Fajardo to scratch her hair, which would signify that the
deal had been consummated and the rest of the team would rush up to the scene. The team then travelled
to the address given by alias Don.19
When the team arrived at the target area around 1:15 a.m. on April 3, 1998, the two vehicles they used
were parked along the corner of the street. P/Insp. Fajardo and the informant walked towards the
apartment of alias Don and stood in front of the apartment gate. Around 1:45 a.m., alias Don came out of
the apartment with a male companion. Alias Don demanded to see the money, but P/Insp. Fajardo told him
that she wanted to see the drugs first. Alias Don gave her the big brown envelope he was carrying and she
checked the contents thereof. Inside she found a plastic sachet, about 10x8 inches in size, which contained
white crystalline 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 signal the rest of
the team to rush to the scene. P/Insp. Fajardo identified herself as a narcotics agent. The two suspects
tried to flee but PO2 Trambulo was able to stop them from doing so. P/Insp. Fajardo took custody of the
shabu. When she asked alias Don if the latter had authority to possess or sell shabu, he replied in the
negative. P/Insp. Fajardo put her initials "JSF" on the genuine P500.00 bills below the name of Benigno
Aquino. After the arrest of the two suspects, the buy-bust team brought them to the police station. The
suspects rights were read to them and they were subsequently booked. 20
P/Insp. Fajardo said that she found out that alias Don was in fact the appellant Donald Vasquez. She
learned of his name when he brought out his NBI ID while he was being booked. P/Insp. Fajardo also
learned that the name of the appellants companion was Reynaldo Siscar, who was also arrested and
brought to the police station. P/Insp. Fajardo explained that after she gave the buy-bust money to the
appellant, the latter handed the same to Siscar who was present the entire time the sale was being
consummated. Upon 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
same to the Crime Laboratory. She was accompanied there by PO2 Trambulo and PO1 Agravante. She
handed over the drug specimen to PO1 Agravante who then turned it over to P/Insp. Taduran, the forensic
chemist on duty. The police officers previously weighed the drug specimen. Thereafter, the personnel at
the crime laboratory weighed the specimen again. P/Insp. Fajardo and her team waited for the results of
the laboratory examination.21
P/Insp. Fajardo further testified that the six plastic bags of shabu seized during the buy-bust operation were
actually contained in a self-sealing plastic envelope placed inside a brown envelope. When the brown
envelope was confiscated from the appellant, she put her initials "JSF" therein and signed it. She noticed
that there were markings on the envelope that read "DD-93-1303 re Antonio Roxas y Sunga" but she did
not bother to check out what they were for or who made them. When she interrogated the appellant about
the brown envelope, she 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
identified in court the six plastic sachets of drugs that her team recovered, which sachets she also initialed
and signed. P/Insp. Fajardo also stated that after the appellant was arrested, PO2 Trambulo conducted a
body search on the two suspects. The search yielded 12 more plastic sachets of drugs from the appellant.
The 12 sachets were varied in sizes and were contained in a white envelope. P/Insp. Fajardo placed her

initials and signature on the envelope. As to the 12 sachets, the same were initialed by P/Insp. Fajardo and
signed by PO2 Trambulo.22
The testimony of PO2 Trambulo corroborated that of P/Insp. Fajardos. PO2 Trambulo testified that in the
morning of April 1, 1998, a confidential informant reported to them about 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 Cindys Restaurant in Welcome Rotonda, Quezon City. At that meeting, PO2
Trambulo saw P/Insp. Fajardo talk to alias Don. P/Insp. Fajardo later told the members of the team that she
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. Domantay about what happened. PO2
Trambulo stated that on April 2, 1998, P/Insp. Fajardo was furnished with five genuine P500.00 bills
together with the boodle play money. P/Insp. Fajardo placed her initials in the genuine bills below the name
"Benigno Aquino, Jr." Afterwards, the team left the office. When they arrived at Cindys Restaurant past
10:00 p.m., alias Don was waiting outside. P/Insp. Fajardo showed the boodle money to alias Don and after
some time, they parted ways. P/Insp. Fajardo later told the team that alias Don decided that the drug deal
would take place in front of alias Dons rented apartment on Valdez St., Sampaloc, Manila. After an hour,
the team went to Valdez St. to familiarize themselves with the area. They then proceeded to the WPD
station to coordinate their operation. Thereafter, P/Insp. Fajardo conducted a final briefing wherein PO2
Trambulo was designated as the immediate back-up arresting officer. The agreed pre-arranged signal was
for P/Insp. Fajardo to scratch her hair to indicate the consummation of the deal. PO2 Trambulo was to
signal the same to the other members of the team.23
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 Dons apartment, while PO2 Trambulo positioned
himself near a parked jeepney about 15 to 20 meters from the apartment gate. The rest of the team
parked their vehicles at the street perpendicular to Valdez St. Later, alias Don went out of the gate with
another person. PO2 Trambulo saw alias Don gesturing to P/Insp. Fajardo as if asking for something but
P/Insp. Fajardo gestured that she wanted to see something first. Alias Don handed P/Insp. Fajardo a big
brown envelope, which the latter opened. P/Insp. Fajardo then handed to alias Don a green plastic bag
containing the buy-bust money and gave the pre-arranged signal. When PO2 Trambulo saw this, he
immediately summoned the rest of the team and rushed to the suspects. He was able to recover the buybust money from alias Dons male companion. Upon frisking alias Don, PO2 Trambulo retrieved 12 pieces
of plastic sachets of suspected drugs. The same were placed inside a white envelope that was tucked
inside alias Dons waist. PO2 Trambulo marked each of the 12 sachets with his initials "CVT" and the date.
The police officers then informed the suspects of their rights and they proceeded to the police
headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.24
As regards the brown envelope that alias Don handed to P/Insp. Fajardo, the latter retained possession
thereof. The envelope contained six pieces of plastic bags of white crystalline substance. When they got
back to their office, the team reported the progress of their operation to P/Supt. Domantay. The arrested
suspects were booked and the required documentations were prepared. Among such documents was the
Request for Laboratory Examination of the drug specimens seized. PO2 Trambulo said that he was the one
who brought the said request to the PNP Crime Laboratory, along with the drug specimens. 25
P/Insp. Marilyn Dequito, the forensic chemist, testified on the results of her examination of the drug
specimens seized in this case. She explained that P/Insp. Macario Taduran, Jr. initially examined the drug
specimens but the latter was already assigned to another office. The results of the examination of P/Insp.
Taduran were laid down in Physical Science Report No. D-1071-98. P/Insp. Dequito first studied the data
contained in Physical Science Report No. D-1071-98 and retrieved the same from their office. She entered
that fact in their logbook RD-17-98. She then weighed the drug specimens and examined the white
crystalline substance from each of the plastic sachets. She examined first the specimens marked as "A-1,"
"A-2," "A-3," "A-4," "A-5" and "A-6." P/Insp. Dequitos examination revealed that the white crystalline
substances were positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride.26She also examined the contents of 12
heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets that also contained crystalline substances. The 12 plastic sachets
were marked "B-1" to "B-12." The white crystalline powder inside the 12 plastic sachets also tested
positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride. P/Insp. Dequitos findings were contained in Physical Science
Report No. RD-17-98.27
The prosecution, thereafter, adduced the following object and documentary evidence: (1) photocopies of
the five original P500.00 bills28 used as buy-bust money (Exhibits A-E); (2) Request for Laboratory
Examination29 dated April 3, 1998 (Exhibit F); (3) Initial Laboratory Report 30 dated April 3, 1998, stating
that the specimen submitted for examination tested positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride
(Exhibit G); (4) Court Order31 dated September 2, 1998 (Exhibit H); (5) Physical Sciences Report No. D1071-9832 dated April 3, 1998 (Exhibit I); (6) Drug specimens A-1 to A-6 (Exhibits J-O); (7) Big brown
envelope (Exhibit P); (8) Small white envelope (Exhibit Q); (9) Drug specimens B-1 to B-12 (Exhibits R-CC);
(10) Physical Sciences Report No. RD-17-9833 (Exhibit DD); (11) Joint Affidavit of Arrest34 (Exhibit EE); (12)

Play money (Exhibit FF); (13) Booking Sheet and Arrest Report 35(Exhibit GG); (14) Request for Medical
Examination36 (Exhibit HH); (15) Medico Legal Slip37 of Donald Vasquez (Exhibit II); and (16) Medico Legal
Slip38 of Reynaldo Siscar (Exhibit JJ).
The Defenses Case
As expected, the defense belied the prosecutions version of events. The appellants brief 39 before the
Court of Appeals provides a concise summary of the defenses counter-statement of facts. According to the
Donald Vasquez was a regular employee of the NBI, working as a Laboratory Aide II at the NBI Forensics
Chemistry Division. His duties at the time included being a subpoena clerk, receiving chemistry cases as
well as requests from different police agencies to have their specimens examined by the chemist. He also
rendered day and night duties, and during regular office hours and in the absence of the laboratory
technician, he would weigh the specimens. As subpoena clerk, he would receive subpoenas from the trial
courts. When there is no chemist, he would get a Special Order to testify, or bring the drug specimens, to
the courts.
On 1 April 1998, Donald Vasquez took his examination in Managerial Statistics between 6:00 to 9:00
oclock p.m. Thereafter, he took a jeepney and alighted at Stop and Shop at Quiapo. From there, he took a
tricycle to his house, arriving at 9:45 oclock that evening, where he saw Reynaldo Siscar and Sonny San
Diego, the latter a confidential informant of the narcotics agents.
On 3 April 1998, at 1:45 oclock in the morning, Donalds household help, Anatolia Caredo, who had just
arrived from Antipolo that time, was eating while Donald was asleep. She heard a knock on the door.
Reynaldo Siscar opened the door and thereafter two (2) men entered, poking guns at Reynaldo. They were
followed by three (3) others. The door to Donalds room was kicked down and they entered his room.
Donald, hearing noise, woke up to see P./Insp. Fajardo pointing a gun at him. He saw that there were six (6)
policemen searching his room, picking up what they could get. One of them opened a cabinet and got drug
specimens in [Donalds] possession in relation to his work as a laboratory aide. The drugs came from two
(2) cases and marked as DD-93-1303 owned by Antonio Roxas, and DD-96-5392 owned by SPO4 Emiliano
Anonas. The drug specimen contained in the envelope marked as DD-93-1303 was intended for
presentation on 3 April 1998. Aside from the drug specimens, the policemen also took his jewelry, a VHS
player, and his wallet containing P2,530.00.
Angelina Arejado, Donalds neighbor, witnessed the policemen entering the apartment and apprehending
Donald and Reynaldo from the apartment terrace.40 (Citations omitted.)
The defense then offered the following evidence: (1) NBI Disposition Form 41 dated April 3, 1998 (Exhibit 1);
(2) Sworn Statement of Idabel Bernabe Pagulayan42 (Exhibit 2); (3) 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. Figueras dated March 27, 1998 (Exhibit 5); and (6)
List of Evidence46 taken by Donald Vasquez from 1996-1998 (Exhibit 6).
The Decision of the RTC
On August 6, 2009, the RTC convicted the appellant of the crimes charged. The RTC gave more credence to
the prosecutions evidence given that the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty on
the part of the police officers was not overcome. The trial court held that the appellant did not present any
evidence that would show that the police officers in this case were impelled by an evil motive to charge
him of very serious crimes and falsely testify against him. Also, the trial court noted that the volume of the
shabu involved in this case was considerable, i.e., 247.98 grams and 4.03 grams for illegal sale and illegal
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. Furthermore, the RTC ruled that the
positive testimonies of the police officers regarding the illegal drug peddling activities of the appellant
prevailed over the latters bare denials.
Assuming for the sake of argument that the appellant was merely framed up by the police, the trial court
pointed out that:
[T]he accused should have reported the said incident to the proper authorities, or asked help from his
Acting Chief [Idabel] Pagulayan from the NBI to testify and identify in Court the xerox copy of the
Disposition Form which she issued to the accused and the Affidavit dated April 17, 1998 (xerox copy)
executed by her or from Mr. Arturo A. Figueras, Acting Deputy Director, Technical Services of the NBI to
testify and identify the Letter issued by the said Acting Deputy Director in order to corroborate and
strengthen his testimony that he was indeed authorized to keep in his custody the said shabu to be
presented or turned over to the Court as evidence, and he should have filed the proper charges against
those police officers who were responsible for such act. But the accused did not even bother to do the
same. Further, the pieces of evidence (Disposition Form, Affidavit of [Idabel] Pagulayan and Letter dated
March 27, 1998 issued by Acting Deputy Director) presented by the accused in 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 to cross-examine the same, thus, it has no
probative value.47
The trial court, thus, decreed:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
1. In Crim. Case No. 98-164174, finding accused, DONALD VASQUEZ y SANDIGAN @ "DON" guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Violation of Sec. 15, Art. III in Relation to Sec.
2 (e), (f), (m), (o), Art. I of R.A. No. 6425 and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua and a fine of P5,000,000.00; and 2. In Crim. Case No. 98-164175, judgment is hereby
rendered finding the accused, DONALD VASQUEZ y SANDIGAN @ "DON" guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of Violation of Sec. 16, Art. III in Relation to Sec. 2 (e-2) Art. I of R.A. 6425 as
Amended by Batas Pambansa Bilang 179 and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of SIX (6)
MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY to FOUR (4) YEARS and a fine of FOUR THOUSAND (P4,000.00) PESOS.
The subject shabu (247.98 grams and 4.03 grams, respectively) are hereby forfeited in favor 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 finality of this Decision. 48
The Judgment of the Court of Appeals
On appeal,49 the Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of the appellant. The appellate court ruled that
the prosecution sufficiently proved the elements of the crimes of illegal sale and illegal possession of
shabu. The testimony of P/Insp. Fajardo on the conduct of the buy-bust operation was found to be clear and
categorical. As the appellant failed to adduce any evidence that tended to prove any ill motive on the part
of the police officers to falsely charge the appellant, the Court of Appeals held that the presumption of
regularity in the performance of official duties on the part of the police officers had not been controverted
in this case.
The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals decision stated:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is hereby DENIED. The August 6, 2009 Decision of
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 41 of the City of Manila in Criminal Cases No. 98-164174-75, finding
appellant Donald Vasquez y Sandigan guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crimes of Violation of Section
15 and Section 16, Article III of Republic Act No. 6425 is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that in Criminal
Case No. 98-164175, appellant is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of six months of
arresto mayor, as minimum, to two years, four months and one day of prision correccional in its medium
period, as maximum.50
The Ruling of the Court
The appellant appealed his case to this Court to once again impugn his conviction on two grounds: (1) the
purported illegality of the search and the ensuing arrest done by the police officers and (2) his supposed
authority to possess the illegal drugs seized from him. 51 He argues that the police officers did not have a
search warrant or a warrant of arrest at the time he was arrested. This occurred despite the fact that the
police officers allegedly had ample time to secure a warrant of arrest against him. Inasmuch as his arrest
was illegal, the appellant avers that the evidence obtained as a result thereof was inadmissible in court. As
the corpus delicti of the crime was rendered inadmissible, the appellant posits that his guilt was not proven
beyond reasonable doubt. Appellant further insists that he was able to prove 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 drug specimens in court.
After an assiduous review of the evidence adduced by both parties to this case, we resolve to deny this
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 arrest must be made before
the accused enters his plea on arraignment. Having failed to move for the quashing of the information
against them before their arraignment, appellants are now estopped from questioning the legality of their
arrest. Any irregularity was cured upon their voluntary submission to the trial courts jurisdiction." 53 Be that
as it may, the fact of the matter is that the appellant was caught in flagrante delicto of selling illegal drugs
to an undercover police officer in a buy-bust operation. His arrest, thus, falls within the ambit of 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 is likewise valid. We held in People v.
Cabugatan55 that:
This interdiction against warrantless searches and seizures, however, is not absolute and such warrantless
searches and seizures have long been deemed permissible by jurisprudence in instances of (1) search of
moving vehicles, (2) seizure in plain view, (3) customs searches, (4) waiver or consented searches, (5) stop
and frisk situations (Terry search), and search incidental to a lawful arrest. The last includes a valid
warrantless arrest, for, while as a rule, an arrest is considered legitimate [if] effected with a valid warrant

of arrest, the Rules of Court recognize permissible warrantless arrest, to wit: (1) arrest in flagrante delicto,
(2) arrest effected in hot pursuit, and (3) arrest of escaped prisoners. (Citation omitted.)
Thus, the appellant cannot seek exculpation by invoking belatedly the invalidity of his arrest and the
subsequent search upon his person.
We now rule on the substantive matters.
To secure a conviction for the crime of illegal sale of regulated or prohibited drugs, the following elements
should be satisfactorily proven: (1) the identity of the buyer and seller, the 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, "what is material is proof that the accused peddled illicit drugs, coupled
with the presentation in court of the corpus delicti." On the other hand, the elements of illegal possession
of drugs are: (1) the accused is in possession of an item or object which is identified to be a prohibited
drug; (2) such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) the accused freely and consciously possessed
the said drug.58
In the case at bar, the testimonies of P/Insp. Fajardo and PO2 Trambulo established that a buy-bust
operation was legitimately carried out in the wee hours of April 3, 1998 to entrap the appellant. P/Insp.
Fajardo, the poseur-buyer, positively identified the appellant as the one who sold to her six plastic bags of
shabu that were contained in a big brown envelope for the price of P250,000.00. She likewise identified the
six plastic bags of shabu, which contained the markings she placed thereon after the same were seized
from the appellant. When subjected to laboratory examination, the white crystalline powder contained in
the plastic bags tested positive for shabu. We find that P/Insp. Fajardos testimony on the events that
transpired during the conduct of the buy-bust operation was detailed and straightforward. She was also
consistent and unwavering in her narration even in the face of the opposing counsels cross-examination.
Apart from her description of the events that led to the exchange of the drug specimens seized and the
buy-bust money, P/Insp. Fajardo further testified as to the recovery from the 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 search resulted to the confiscation of 12 more plastic
sachets, the contents of which also tested positive for shabu. The testimony of P/Insp. Fajardo was amply
corroborated by PO2 Trambulo, whose own account dovetailed the formers narration of events. Both police
officers also identified in court the twelve plastic sachets of shabu that were confiscated from the
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 presumed to have performed
their duties in a regular manner, unless there be evidence to the contrary." In the instant case, the
appellant failed to ascribe, much less satisfactorily prove, any improper motive on the part of the
prosecution witnesses as to why they would 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 did not know them at all.60In the absence of evidence of such ill motive, none is presumed
to exist.61
The records of this case are also silent as to any measures undertaken by the appellant to criminally or
administratively charge the police officers herein for falsely framing him up for selling and possessing
illegal drugs. Such a move would not have been a daunting task for the appellant under the circumstances.
Being a regular employee of the NBI, the appellant could have easily sought the help of his immediate
supervisors and/or the chief of his office 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 drug specimens in his custody. That the original documents and the testimonies of the signatories
thereof were not at all presented in court did nothing to help the appellants case. To the mind of the Court,
the evidence offered by the appellant failed to persuade amid the positive and categorical testimonies of
the arresting officers that the appellant was caught red-handed selling and possessing a considerable
amount of prohibited drugs on the night of the buy-bust operation.
It is apropos to reiterate here that where there is no showing that the trial court overlooked or
misinterpreted some material facts or that it gravely abused its discretion, the Court will not disturb the
trial courts assessment of the facts and the credibility of the witnesses since 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 trial court are binding on this Court, unless there is a
clear showing that such findings are tainted with arbitrariness, capriciousness or palpable error. 62
On the basis of the foregoing, the Court is convinced that the prosecution was able to establish the guilt of
the appellant of the crimes charged.
The Penalties
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:

SEC. 15. Sale, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Transportation and Distribution of Regulated Drugs. The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten
million pesos shall be imposed upon any person who, unless 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 offense is a minor, or should a regulated drug involved in any offense under
this Section be 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 perpetua to
death and a fine ranging from five hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos shall be imposed upon any
person who shall possess or use any regulated drug without the corresponding license or prescription,
subject to the provisions of Section 20 hereof.
SEC. 20. Application of Penalties, Confiscation and Forfeiture of the Proceeds or Instruments of the Crime. The penalties for offenses under Sections 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 of Article II and Sections 14, 14-A, 15 and 16 of
Article III of this Act shall be applied if the dangerous drugs involved is in any of the following quantities:
1. 40 grams or more of opium;
2. 40 grams or more of morphine;
3. 200 grams or more of shabu or methylamphetamine hydrochloride;
4. 40 grams or more of heroin;
5. 750 grams or more of Indian hemp or marijuana;
6. 50 grams or more of marijuana resin or marijuana resin oil;
7. 40 grams or more of cocaine or cocaine hydrocholoride; or
8. In the case of other dangerous drugs, the quantity of which is far beyond therapeutic
requirements, as determined and promulgated by the Dangerous Drugs Board, after public
consultations/hearings conducted for the purpose.
Otherwise, if the quantity involved is less than the foregoing quantities, the penalty shall range from
prision correccional to reclusion perpetua depending upon the quantity. (Emphases supplied.)
In Criminal Case No. 98-164174 involving the crime of illegal sale of regulated drugs, the appellant was
found to have sold to the poseur-buyer in this case a total of 247.98 grams of shabu, which amount is
more than the minimum of 200 grams required by the law for the imposition of either reclusion perpetua
or, if there be aggravating circumstances, the death penalty.
Pertinently, Article 6363 of the Revised Penal Code mandates that when the law prescribes a penalty
composed of two indivisible penalties and there are neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstances in
the commission of the crime, the lesser penalty shall be applied.1wphi1 Thus, in this case, considering
that no mitigating or aggravating circumstances attended the appellants violation of Section 15, Article III
of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, the Court of Appeals correctly affirmed the trial courts imposition
of reclusion perpetua. The P5,000,000.00 fine imposed by the RTC on the appellant is also in accord with
Section 15, Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended.
As to the charge of illegal possession of regulated drugs in Criminal Case No. 98-164175, the Court of
Appeals properly invoked our ruling in People v. Tira 64 in determining the proper imposable penalty. Indeed,
we held in Tira that:
Under Section 16, Article III of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended, the imposable penalty of 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


Less than one (1) gram to 49.25 grams

prision correccional

49.26 grams to 98.50 grams

prision mayor

98.51 grams to 147.75 grams

reclusion temporal

147.76 grams to 199 grams

reclusion perpetua
(Emphases ours.)

Given that the additional 12 plastic sachets of shabu found in the possession of the appellant amounted to
4.03 grams, the imposable penalty for the crime is prision correccional. Applying 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 six months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to
four years and two months of prision correccional, as maximum. The penalty imposed by the Court of
Appeals, thus, falls within 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.66Such 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.